I drink. I dance. I report.


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The Snobbery of San Francisco

Last night I ate out at this “trendy” San Francisco sushi restaurant called Umami in the Marina. I’ve been there several times before, and love pairing Scotch and nigiri. The atmosphere is fun and lively, the lighting perfect, the waiters attentive. Last night was packed. People 35-and-under standing around the bar holding cocktails and whiskey and beer.

I had a lot of fun and the food was great, even though I had to shout above the din of the crowd. About halfway through my meal was when I had the Super Snobbified Experience.

I was buzzed from drinking Scotch and headed to the women’s bathroom. Once inside, I heard funny voices coming from the ceiling, so looked around up there to hear where it was coming from. A Japanese word, an English word. I smiled, thinking it was interesting while a couple of women washed their hands.

Then, one of them spoke: “Were you rolling your eyes?” She said it abruptly, eyes hardened, pulling me out of my pleasant Scotch-zone. I saw a pretty, made-up woman about 30-years-old, her brown hair in a ponytail, her designer jeans cuffed at the ankle. “Um, no,” I said, “I heard Japanese and was trying to figure out where it was coming from.” She looked like she wanted to pounce on me, start pulling my hair in a vicious catfight. “Yeah. Right,” she scoffed, sneering at me as she harshly pulled the door open and stalked out.

I stood there a moment, stunned, then started to laugh. Like that pretentious little snob is of ANY interest to me!? Like I’d be rolling my eyes at HER? Like I even CARED about her? I hadn’t even noticed her! It was ludicrous and laughable. When I got back to my table and told my story, my friend said, “That’s the Marina for you.”

And that’s not all of the San Francisco Snobbery. Recently, at Nihon, I was charged $6 per bottle for sparkling water, of which my friend and I drank three bottles. $18,….for WATER?? When I got the bill I was shocked, and told the manager I thought that was too much for water. He said, “People come in here all the time and spend $5,000 on dinner. We think it’s tacky to mention the price of the sparkling water.”  Umm…..thanks. Like I could ever come in here and spend that much on a meal. Really? That was your excuse? I will not be visiting Nihon again.

What is happening to the bohemian, hippie City by the Bay? Sure, there are still lots of restaurants and people who are not snobby, but two experiences like this within a couple of weeks is just too much. Is San Francisco getting more and more snobby?


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It’s All About the Tomatoes

So, last night I tried to make this marinara sauce for the second time. It’s an excellent, simple recipe from the New York Times based on the article, “Marinara Worth Mastering.” I’ve always loved deep red, flavorful sauce but have never quite known how to make marinara. I made sauce with wine, garlic, onions, ground beef, red peppers, you name it, but it never turned out quite right. So, I decided to work on this recipe.

The first time I made it I used a big can of tomatoes from Trader Joe’s. The sauce tasted good, but there was something missing. Hmmmmm. Not enough garlic? Wilty basil? But,….lo and behold, it was the tomatoes.

Last night, I was sure to make it with real San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, which I bought at an Italian market in the Mission District.

photo(17)And oh boy, were they a deep, beautiful red. I wanted to drink this tomato-y, basil-y soup before it had a chance to reduce into sauce.

photo(18)Instead, I opened a bottle of wine.

photo(19)This was a fantastic $12 Pinot from Cline right up in Sonoma. It had a rich, smoky taste and I had to restrain myself not to drink the entire bottle. A glass or two did the trick as I waited for my sauce to reduce. And reduce it did, into a thick, beautiful pot of chunky, deletable sauce. I added some premium tuna, ripped up some basil leaves, and served it over linguine.

photo(20)Delicious!! Try this recipe, but make sure you have the right tomatoes 🙂


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You can’t trust the walk sign in San Francisco

walk

Another day, another pedestrian hit by a car in San Francisco. The newsroom is on fire right now, producers yelling, a reporter running out the door to make her way to California and Fillmore streets. Here is the Tweet that just crossed from KGO Radio.

KGO Radio ‏@kgoradio 1m BREAKING: Elderly pedestrian hit by a vehicle near California and Fillmore in #SanFrancisco. Details to come.

Now I’m hearing it was a cement truck.

Just last night, a teenage boy was hit. A couple weeks before that, a man killed in the same location. We’re less than two months into 2014, and already, several people have died. Toward the end of 2013, a little girl was hit and killed. She’s included in the death toll of 21 pedestrians last year.

This is ridiculous and revolting. No pedestrian should have to fear for their life while crossing the street in a city that prides walkability.

I am afraid to walk in San Francisco. Even when the green “walk” sign lights up, I stop and look both ways. I make eye contact with drivers as they creep ever so slowly into the intersection, crossing just feet from where my foot just was. Just yesterday, I was crossing the street while a massive dump trunk threatened to cut me off. I paused, unsure whether to go, daring the driver to keep going. Luckily, he stopped, and I kept walking, boiling mad. Drivers need to practice patience, breathe, give pedestrians room to cross. As a driver in the city myself, I am honked at while I wait for pedestrians, give them a few feet of room so they don’t feel frightened. I can’t believe I am honked at for not mowing people down.

What is behind this anger? Why are people in such a rush? Why do horns blare and middle-fingers jut everywhere? People in San Francisco need to calm the F down. I have never lived in such an aggressive city.

The relationship between drivers and pedestrians is a serious problem in San Francisco. Drivers are angry that pedestrians run out in front of them, jaywalking willy nilly. Pedestrians are angry drivers don’t give them space. It’s dysfunctional, with both sides hating the other, and people are dying. Pedestrians are dying.

Something need to change.

 


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Why I’m not on TV

I’ve never been afraid of making funny faces. I don’t care how ridiculous I look as I contort and stretch my cheeks, or scrunch up my neck. The “cabbage patch” look, however, is my favorite. It works in any occasion.

And with any friend.

And while I’ve always known I have a fairly expressive/flexible face, I never know how much so until I recorded a television demo. You see, I’ve done radio for years, so I thought television would be a piece of cake. “Just act natural,” one of the veteran anchors at FOX40 told me. “Okay, I can do that,” I thought. But little did I know that “natural” meant faces like this:

And like this:

 And this:

Or finally, this:

At first, I thought this might be because the screengrabs caught me at unnatural angles, and right in the middle of speech. But when I looked through other recordings, I noticed the other anchors just didn’t make these strange looks. Had they learned how to “control” their facial features? Or maybe they naturally don’t have a crazy face like mine?

This is why they are the professional television people, and I’m the radio person. When I watched my demo, I realized why. Even though my voice sounds normal, and I was not nervous, I still look like a “deer in the headlights”. It’s so bad, it makes me laugh. There’s no way I can ever use this demo except for to make fun of myself, which luckily, I really, really love doing. So now, I will show you my demo, so you can make fun of me as well 🙂

After shooting my demo, I sent it to one of my friends, Travis Mayfield, who was a television news reporter for years. A few of his comments: don’t be afraid of big hair, don’t be afraid to move your hands, darker colors are better than white on a fair person, pretend like you’re talking to a real person behind the camera. My Mom suggested shiny lip gloss, and curlier hair. I agree with all their insight, but then I realized that I’m just more comfortable in front of a radio microphone. I can throw on a pair of sweats and wear no makeup, and still cover breaking news like a pro. I can stand in the studio and make all the weird faces I want while I read my news stories. I can drink wine on the job (heh).

Someday, I think I’d like to learn how to do TV. I think the next step is to stand in front of a mirror for hours, practicing scripts and watching my expressions. As soon as I start to do the “deer in the headlights” look I’ll stop, recalibrate, and tone down my excitment level. I love the news, and I love reading it on-air in my “news voice.” It’s been one of my passions for years.

If you’re a news person out there, how did you learn to manage your “television” face?


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Things I learned as a news web producer: Corpses and Sex sell

I’ve learned a lot working as a web producer at FOX40 news in Sacramento. I’ve learned that people who comment on our station’s Facebook page are crazier than people who call the newsroom. I’ve learned that driving through South Sacramento is like cruising through a funny farm. And I’ve learned that people, in the evenings, like stories about corpses and sex, and galleries of tragic things like Amy Winehouse or uncomfortable things like awkward family pet photos or “sexy” things like Comicon Babes.

My routine goes like this: I arrive around 3:30pm, and immediately scan KTLA and WPIX for weird stories. Anything disgusting will do the trick. You see, a major part of my job is getting clicks for the website, and I’ve learned what will do just that it in the evenings. A couple days ago, I saw a story titled, “Corpse Wakes up in a Morgue Refrigerator“, and knew I hit a gold mine. Sure enough, people began sharing it on Facebook, and it got a thousand or so clicks in a short time period. The next day I came to work, I was rewarded with this (check out items, 2, 4 and 6)

Sacramento seems to have a similar fascination with penises. The day the news broke about the woman who cut her husband’s penis off and put it in the garbage disposal (allegedly), our “Most Viewed/Emailed” list looked like this (check out items, 1,2 and 10)

Then, when I posted the story about the couple caught having sex in a public pool for 30 minutes, it stayed on our website under the “Most Viewed/Emailed” list for days. DAYS, people.

Soon, I will be leaving FOX40 to do reporting and producing for KGO 810 radio in San Francisco. I am very excited about my new adventure in life, but the FOX40 Facebook fans and website clickers may be disappointed by the lack of stories about corpses, sex and other morbid things. As a little going away gift, I left them these stories tonight:

Glendale Man Tries to Remove Hernia Using Butter Knife

Girl, 6, Accused of Trying to Drown Litter of Puppies

Children Find Human Head at Retired Doctor’s Home

I think people often get bored with bland stories about fires, murders and bank robberies, and are more likely to click on the strange. Makes sense, right? Some of these stories are so outrageous, they don’t even seem real.

I’ll miss trolling through our news partners’ website for disgusting, strange or awkward stories to put on in the evening hours of my shift. Maybe some nights you’ll see me, sending out odd stories on Twitter, reminiscing about my evenings at FOX40.


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The pluses and minuses of Google+ (from a non-techie)

So, I’ve read a lot of news articles/tech blogs about this social networking platform called Google+. Most of them are written by techies, and people familiar with the intricacies of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Stumblr, Flickr, Picasa, you name it, they know it. I’m going to write a simple review from the perspective of a normal person who happens to use Facebook for her personal life, and Twitter for her professional life. Will Google+ knock Facebook on its rear? So far, I’m not sure.

One part of Google+ I REALLY like so far is the concept of “Circles”. You can name Circles whatever you like, mine are along the lines of “Friends”, “Family”, “Acquaintances”, “News Peeps”, “Twitter Peeps.” I think this will allow people to interact on Google+ in an entirely new way. It’s more personal than Twitter, but more versatile than Facebook. When you type a status update or add a photograph, you select which “Circle” it goes in. For example, I may (or may not) choose to share a photo of myself drinking a beer with everyone. Instead, maybe I just want my “Friends” to see it, so I click that circle. So far, since not a lot of people have received invites to Google+, I find myself interacting with mostly people I don’t know, who I’ve conveniently placed in the “New Peeps” or “Twitter Peeps” circles. I really haven’t posted much, so have made all my posts “Public”, so far, but I love that there’s an option to pick who sees what, and the ability to see posts from people you may not know in person. For example, I could follow Mark Zuckerberg on Google+. Here’s an example of “Circles”:

Another neat thing I experienced for the first time on Google+ was a “Hangout.” Someone I follow on Twitter, who orchestrates the web journalist chats every Wednesday, started a “Hangout” on Google+ tonight. I joined in, even though I don’t have a webcam or microphone cabalities, and was able to participate using the sidebar to add notes and chat with other participants. At one point, there were four people in the video chatroom, and the camera someone knew to switch to the speaker’s face. It must be sensitive to the microphone, and jumps around depending on who is speaking. The only type of webchat I’ve seen so far is one-on-one, so found this to be particularly interesting. Imagine connecting with people with similar interests across the country, and chatting with 10 people at a time, or brainstorming ideas through colleagues you’ve met on Twitter? This could do wonders for traveling business-people, who could use “Hangouts” to join in on meetings. Or, it could be just a fun way to interact with friends who live across the country. I can see myself sitting at home, enjoying a cocktail, doing videochatting with all my best friends at once. You can even share YouTube videos with each other in this manner.

One of the main drawbacks so far of Google+ is the fact that nobody is on it, nobody’s playing in the sandbox. None of my friends or family members are there, and I doubt they’d be thrilled to try out yet another social networking platform. I’m guessing I’ll be interacting with colleages or Twitter friends for a while to come, but once my friends/family join, I could see this as a competitor to Facebook. It’s highly-organized, efficient, and even suggests articles you might like based on your interests (Sparks). Also, I like that I can “chat” with other Google+ users and my Gmail buddies, and when I log into Gmail, I can immediately see if I’ve had any action over on Google+.

The other drawback to Google+ is having to type out that darn + sign all the time. My left pinky is tired, just at the end of this post 🙂 So, if you’re on Google_, please, come find me, come play in the sandbox!


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Twitter: A Massive, Buzzing Newsroom

I think of Twitter as a massive, buzzing newsroom, where journalists converse, share breaking news, and joke around. Most of the people I follow on Twitter are reporters and news stations, the majority of them stretching up and down the west coast, with a few sprinkled in from the east. I also believe most of the people who follow me back are reporters as well. Out of all my friends and family, only one person is on Twitter, making me wonder, do normal people “Tweet?”

Whenever there’s breaking news, forget the TV stations or websites, I go straight to Twitter. Last night, when the earthquake struck in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, journalists started tweeting like crazy. And we didn’t pause to write our own web stories first and link back to our pages for the clicks, we sent out Tweets including USGS earthquake information, links to NOAA and the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, links to information directly from the source. Using my own and Twitter’s resources, I was quickly able to Tweet breaking news from the FOX40 account as well as my own, and write up a web story that I sent to The Tribune Company, which in turn posted my story on Tribune websites across the country. Reporters re-tweeting each other and various news stations, all of our collective heads buzzing with this breaking news and the best way to share it.

Aside from breaking news, Twitter is a great way for journalists to make connections and mingle with other like-minded neurotics. For example, I was conversing with the two reporters who broke the “Whitey” Bulger story from the L.A. Times. For me, the ability to praise these two investigative journalists and have them respond back was like writing to celebrities, and getting @ replies from their accounts. Yes, I’m that big of a geek:

View “Tweets with L.A. Times reporters” on Storify

I also got an @reply from CNN’s Don Lemon, which was equally thrilling.

Another favorite part of being a journalist on Twitter are the weekly journalist chats. Every Monday, I participate in #journchat, and every Wednesday, I stick my nose in #wjchat. The second chat is my favorite because it specifically targets web journalists and some of the challenges we face. I love interacting with such talented journalists and brainstorming ideas. I’ve met new Twitter friends through #wjchat and learned about Storify and Crowdsourcing. I haven’t quite figured out Crowdsourcing but I know other journalists have found it useful.

Another way Twitter is wildly successful is with public relations/news alerts. At FOX40, we often find out about breaking news through Tweets by local law enforcement, firefighting agencies. They can keep us posted through Tweets rather than constantly fielding calls from dozens of reporters at news stations across town. They tweet locations and details I can include in a web story. They tell reporters where to meet up with them. And through public relations or public affairs, I often find story ideas on Twitter, and links to press releases and resources.

So, I think Twitter is one of the best inventions for journalists. I often wonder what other groups are huge on Twitter. I know people in the writing/publishing industry use it constantly, as well as “mommy bloggers.” Who else uses Twitter? And if you use Twitter, what about it do you find the most useful?