Saturday, May 30, 2009

Zombies and assault rifles and cops - oh my!!

Last night I was sent out to cover a Zombie Crawl in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. I thought it would be uneventful, and a little odd. I was going to do a couple of live hits on the radio, take a video for the website, and call it a day. To be quite honest, I wasn't looking forward to seeing blood and guts and rotting skin. It all sounded too gross and strange for me.

I was lingering outside Metro Clothing waiting for the Zombies to show up, when I saw a man on the other side of the street who scared the living daylights out of me. He was wearing all black, a gas mask, and carrying what looked to be an assault rifle. My brain told me it was fake, but my instincts didn't take any chances. Images of news stories about public shootings flashed in my head as I watched him cross the street in front of a parking enforcement cop. It was toward my side of the street. I quickly turned around and started walking. Fast. I imagined sprays of shots hitting passerby. I scanned for hiding places. My heart pounded as I saw cop cars screech around the corners. My reporter insticts took over and I stopped walking to see the action.

One cop stopped in the middle of the road and asked people standing on the street where "the man in the swat uniform went." One guy pointed at Metro Clothing. The SPD officer got out of his car, then pulled out an assault rifle. Cha-ching. He cocked it and started walking quickly toward the store, as other police with guns drawn, and members of the Seattle gang unit ran inside Metro Clothing. Blue and red lights flashed on Broadway. I expected to hear shots ring out. I grabbed the video camera and turned it on, the picture shaking from adrenaline. I was the only news reporter at the scene, and by golly, I was going to capture this takedown.
I had the camera trained on the guy as they pulled him out of the store in handcuffs. They took him to a patrol car in the middle of the street, and removed the gun, and a grenade. At this point the man was smiling as he talked to the officers, and I even saw one of the cops crack a smile. I had no idea what on earth was going on. I did live hits on the radio, describing the scene to the best of my ability. This was turning out to be the weirdest story I'd ever covered.
I later found out this guy was a zombie, who was coming for the Zombie Crawl. He was dressed as a character from Resident Evil, who hunts zombies. His outfit looked a little too realistic, which he found out the hard way. It was definately a rush covering this story, and I'm glad it didn't turn out differently. The story is now on the front page of our website. You can read the story, and watch the video, by clicking on the link below:
What a very weird Friday evening. It was a zombie of a good time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A great love for the Northwest

All teenagers become disallusioned with life at some point. They become moody, sullen, wanting to be anywhere When I was 16 or 17 years old I decided that I absolutely, positively did not want to life in the Pacific Northwest. This thought lingered through college, as I became increasingly bored with small town life in Eugene, Oregon. I wanted to live somewhere exciting and fast-paced, where gray skies were banished, and everything would be bright and pure. Southern California seemed like an exciting place to live, with its Hollywood nightlife and white sandy beaches.

Yes, I went through my phase where I wanted to experience life somewhere else, and luckily, that phase is long gone.

I love the Pacific Northwest. Sunny spring and summer days are a slice of heaven. I woke up this morning and played tennis with David outside in the sun, in a canyon of towering conifers.

"Is that an eagle?" David says, pointing to a bird circling high above.

"Not sure," I replied, getting back to my tennis game.

Where else could I say that? If I was living in LA I'd be pointing at surfers and boob jobs instead of eagles and deer.

Right now I'm commuting to work on a Washington State Ferrie. Blue water ripples as far as I can see, meeting blue sky scratched by the outline of trees. The chug of the motor beneath me is so peaceful, and I feel so blessed to live in such a beautiful place.

I now know that if I ever move away from the Pacific Northwest, I will always come home. The is the most pristine and divine place in the entire United States.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A touching interview

I've had a hard time keeping up the blog lately - between a family visit (which was a blast!), to different work schedules, to complete lack of brain power on Memorial Day from waking up before 5am. I did do an interview that really touched me yesterday, and several of you have already read it. I want to post it again on this blog so others can read it as well. I had to hold back tears several times while interviewing this man. Here is the article that appeared on

Story Published: May 25, 2009 at 12:26 PM PDT
Story Updated: May 25, 2009 at 12:27 PM PDT

By Kristin Hanes
LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- Michael Reagan sits at his basement drawing table 12 to 15 hours per day, sketching in pencil. So far, he's drawn 1,730 soldiers and Marines who've died in the past five years.

Every face has a memory.
"This is Sam Huff," Reagan says, pointing at a smiling soldier. "Her last words, from what I understand, [after she was hit by an IED], were, 'Tell my parents I love them.' "

Four billboards with collages of his artwork are leaning against the walls. Reagan takes high-resolution digital photographs before sending the portraits on to the families. There's a son kissing his mother. Two comrades grinning. A man holding his baby daughter.

"They never saw each other," he says, referring to the man and his infant. "After [the soldier's] mother received this portrait back, she said to me, 'You know, way after you and I are gone, my granddaughter is going to be pointing at that portrait saying 'that's my dad.'"

Reagan studies for hours to bring these portraits to life. He watches videos, reads diaries and poems, and stares at dozens of photographs. He listens to stories, learns why a soldier might have a chipped tooth, or how one person's eyes are different sizes. His goal is to bring closure to these families -- something tangible to those who have lost something so dear.
"I've had moms call me," he says, "and they say when they look at the picture, they hear their sons saying, 'I'm okay, Mom.'"
The Vietnam combat veteran draws two or more portraits every day for the Fallen Heroes Project. Reagan's been a portrait artist for over 30 years, best known for drawing athletes and famous actors. But this project, these faces, hit close to home.

"It gets very emotional," Reagan says. "When I'm drawing the portrait, I believe there's an essence of the soldier in this room. I just think about him, you know, and as soon as I get his eyes done, then he'll start looking back at me, and he and I will have a spiritual conversation."

Every single portrait is free for the grieving families. Reagan says this is his lifetime commitment, and he wants to draw every single person who's died for this country.
"When I have a mom or a wife or a dad call me on the phone crying because they've just received their portrait, because a piece of their son has come home... how much is that worth?" he says.
Reagan has 100 more portraits to draw before June, when they'll be given to the families. His next goal is to draw every fallen hero from Canada, Australia and Great Britain who died in the War on Terror.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I hope this morning is not predictive of the day to come

My schedule has changed so much in the last couple of weeks at work I don't know who I am anymore, or what I'm supposed to be doing. I've gone from AM reporter, to midday reporter, to PM reporter, to PM editor, to midday reporter, to PM reporter, then next Monday AM reporter again. In that order. My body clock is confused. Heck, I'm confused, and it all culminated in a frantic morning.

When I sleep in for 3 days straight and get home after 8pm, my body starts assimilating to that schedule. So, last night when I really needed to go to bed early, there was no way I was falling asleep. So I laid there. And laid there. And this morning, when my alarm was supposed to go off at 645am, it didn't. The light woke me up. At 7:20. I had to be out the door at 7:35. David and I looked like two big balls of arms and legs as we ran frantically around the house. I took a 2 minute shower, brushed my teeth with Olympic speed, threw my clothes around, threw my hair dryer and makup in a bag. David made me coffee to go and put all my things in the car.

We were out the door, in the car, when I said:

"I forgot my glasses!" So up David ran into the house, up the stairs, and I remembered I forgot something else. I slammed the door right into him as he was coming out of the house, grabbed my bag, and off we went!

I managed to make my ferry with a few minutes to spare, which could be considered early. I joined the masses in the bathroom, where women stand in a row at a face-level mirror and put on makeup and blow dry their hair. I did that, quickly, with enough time to write this poorly-written blog.

Frantic, I am. What am I supposed to be doing today? Can I please just go home.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Where no one has gone before

Right now, I am proud to be a Trekkie, thanks to the new Star Trek movie. I remember in middle school, high school, college, I'd be so hesitant to admit that I loved Star Trek, that it really was the only show I watched in my youth. People would look at me with eyebrows raised, thinking, Really? That has to be the geekiest show ever invented! Who wants to hear about warp drive, the starboard necel, star clusters, Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans? Who wants to be lectured about the bigger issues in life? Why on EARTH would you watch that? So, I stopped admitting I watched it, until I found an equally dorky sorority sister at the University of Oregon. We confided that we both loved Star Trek: The Next Generation. Deborah is the same woman I went to see the movie with on Sunday.

I've been struggling to write a review, or even put into words what this movie meant to me. It made me both very happy, and very sad. Even thinking about it now makes me feel a little choked up. The actors chosen to represent the original crew were spot on, but I missed William Shatner, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, George Takai. Nobody can ever replace them. Two of these actors are dead, and I can't tell you how awesome it was to have Leonard Nimoy in the movie. Especially when he told Kirk, "I am and always will be....your friend." That line brought tears to my eyes, and there were several other lines or innuendos that only true Trekkies got. I could hear pockets of laughter throughout Cinerama. I thought the man who played McCoy was absolutely incredible.

Star Trek means so much to so many people, but this movie is truly the "Next Generation." Friends of mine who never dreamed of watching Star Trek are telling me things like this:

"That looks so good! I really want to see it."

"Wow, those are great looking actors, and the special effects look amazing. I'm seeing it this week."

This has caught me totally by surprise, and I'm so thrilled and proud that something I've loved for so long is reaching new groups of people. Sure, the movie to me looked like "Star Trek on Crack." I've never seen such stunning special effects in a Star Trek movie, and it's truly out of this world. I'm going back to the theater very soon to see this with David, who is a HUGE fan of the Original Series. I want to know how many innuendos he picks up on, what he thinks of the new actors.

I feel a little bit nostalgic that I will never see the Original Crew, or the Next Generation Crew, share the stage again in a Star Trek movie. I will never see Data, or Warf, or Captain Picard. I hope that William Shatner is invited to be in the next movie; I'll always have a special place in my heart for the very first Kirk. But I am glad to have this new crew, this new group of actors, to bring Star Trek alive again. I can't wait for the next movie.....after I see this one 5 more times in the theater.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I hear voices sometimes.

There is one negative consequence of being in radio: my ears are super tuned in to voices. I just had to move to another part of the ferry to get away from a loud, obnoxious voice spouting words in a pitch that made my skin crawl. It sounded like here voice box was in her nose, and she was a combination of a munchkin, and Shrek. I'm sure the woman is very nice, and I feel like a bad person saying this, but her voice was like needles on a chalkboard. I tried to sit there and ignore it, and read my David Baldacci novel, but every word coming from that ferry bench was like a stab wound in my ears. So now, I'm in the galley. Thank goodness the ferry flirt is not sitting by me this time.

The one perk about working in a newsroom is that everyone has a wonderful voice. People understand inflection, tonality, the rise and fall of sentences. They understand how to tell a story or convey an idea fluidly. Listening to radio people speak is beautiful, and I admit, I get spoiled by this, and notice when voices grind and screech, or when people speak haltingly, or end a sentence in a question mark.

I also am very sensitive to accents, and lisps. I can detect a hint of a Spanish accent in David's parents 'words, even though no one else can. I become spellbound by a good voice,..aka Patrick Stewart, or even some actors we have in studio. The voice is a conduit of so much meaning, so much emotion, which must be why I love radio so much.

I'm really thankful that all of the people close to me have nice voices. All my friends, family, etc. It is so vital for my warped eardrums.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Ferry Flirt...aka....I would rather have jumped off the boat than have a drink with you

Tonight was the first time I've ever been "hit on" while riding the ferry. I chose to sit in the galley area, where people tend to congregate over beer and chat about their day. I sat there reading my Kindle, and eating McDonalds french fries. One time, in the galley, a man asked about my Kindle, and I didn't mind one bit. He seemed genuinly curious.....and happily married, unlike the tool who talked to me tonight, who couldn't stop staring at me and slurring his words. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little just thinking about it. I often wonder why it's so difficult for some men to read signals that blare as bright as neon signs.

I noticed a tall, skinny man move two seats down from me and thought, "Oh, he must have felt sick riding backward." But,....NO. An awkward, annoying conversation was about to disrupt my peaceful ferry ride hom.

"What are you reading?" His eyes seemed to roll back in his scrawny head as he struggled to see straight through the boozy haze. He was dirty blond, skinny, with a protruding Adam's apple. It looked like he hadn't shaved in days.

"Baldacci." I muttered, and continued to read. I knew he didn't give a rip about my book, he just wanted to know if I would get a drink after the ferry ride. I made brief eye contact as I answered, cause I didn't want to be completely rude. Big mistake. The man probably saw my eyes and grabbed on like they were a passing lifeboat, bobbing in Puget Sound.

Silence passed. I saw him shift. I concentrated hard on the electronic ink in front of me.

"Is that a Kimble?"

"No, it's a Kindle." Tried desperately to ignore the man. More silence. I suddently felt jealous of the overweight woman in front of me, in I-pod bliss.

"What do you do?"

"Well, ohhhh..... uh....I'm a writer." Sometimes I hate admitting I'm a news reporter, because it opens up the conversation to a series of questions. What's that like? That must be fun? Are you actually ON AIR? Like, on the RADIO? Wow! So I could actually HEAR YOU if I tuned in? This time, an uncomfortable silence grew between us. This is the time you get up, and walk away, " I thought. I was sending all the appropriate signals, sending out ultra "go away" vibrations, while being as polite as I possibly could.


"So...uh....what do you write for."

"A news station." His woozy eyes implored me. "KOMO, that is," I told him reluctantly.

"Do you write commercials?"

I rolled my eyes.

"No. News. Local." (now please, please go. away. now.)

"When I want to listen to news, I turn to KOMO!" It almost sounded like an ad, except for his slurred, drowsy speech. He downed his microbrew, and leaned over to stare some more. I imagined other commuters sitting near us, feeling my pain.

I had a hard time reading because he was there, brewing up his next question. My eyes scanned the same sentences over and over again, willing him to just leave. I'm hardly ever hit on anymore, and that's how I like it. I'm usually pretty good sending out the "I have a boyfriend vibe", but I guess this dude didn't pick up on it cause of the beer richocheting through his skinny veins, turning them brown and hoppy.

Finally, he rose on lanky stork legs and strode purposely away from me. For an instant, I thought I saw him sway.

I kept my eyes peeled for the man as I walked off the ferry and back to my car. I pictured him following me home, or saying how rude I was, or asking what I was doing later. I'm so glad I escaped, and I hope I never see him, or get hit on, ever again.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A beer for a blog

Sometimes, one needs a beer to blog. Just a little liquid "brain lubricant." I'm sitting on the ferry in the bustling "galley", as professionals around me grab beer and book, beer and pretzel, beer and computer, beer and a friend. Then there's me: beer and blog.

It's been a long week, a crazy week of changing schedules and habits. I woke up at 4am both Monday and Tuesday, then spent the night at my friend Abby's house in North Bend on Wednesday. All this means two things: braindead for blogging, and no ferry for blogging. I don't know what I would do without this picturesque ride across Puget Sound to keep up my writing, and time to think.

I want to show you something, and I want you to look very closely at the below picture.
Do you see the observation deck? It's the largest ring on the top of the Space Needle. Look above that. Do you see the flagpole jutting into the sky, with a little prick of light at the top? I was standing RIGHT NEXT to that flagpole this week, and I was so frightened I almost had an accident in my pants, and then realized - hey, this is pretty darn cool. Just WHO gets to go to the TIPPY TOP of the Space Needle?

No, I wouldn't stand next to the outside railing for this photo, and made the KOMO television reporter who took this picture stand on the other side of the inside railing. I look cold, nervous, and the buildings are well......really, really small. That is because I am several STORIES above the observation deck. I know, I climbed three flights of steep stairs (ladders) to get here, which I'll show you later. AHHHH just looking at these photos freaks me out, or makes me want to base jump.

The center of this platform held the flagpole, and I stuck to the middle the entire time, with my hand on the inner railing, or against the middle tower. The flagpole was within my grasp, almost.

I took a lot of pictures of Puget Sound, and Bainbridge Island, because there was the widest distance between myself, and the outer railing. I wish I had gotten more of Queen Anne, or the lakes, but that side only had 10 feet, and I never set foot over there.

I guess I just wanted to see what my home looked like from very far up, and very far away. Can you see it? That tiny sliver of land mass 7 miles away. I love Bainbridge Island. In the below picture, you can see my dear friend, the ferry boat, and West Seattle in the distance. These aren't the best pictures ever because I was freaked out, and freezing.

What goes up, must come down, and I had to descent the three flights of stais (ladders) backwards, with my purse swinging haphazardly at my side. Other people seemed to have a better time of it:

I was there for the flag-raising of the "tourism matters" campaign. I just feel so lucky being a reporter; I get to do incredible things like this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The neighborhood "copper stopper"

Living right next door to not one, but TWO police officers is both a blessing and a curse. I prefer the blessing part, since having them there makes me infinately more comfortable when David is out of town. I've imagined many a scenario, each ending with my running to the cop's house. Oh! There's a man crawling up my stairs, and I slide down the second floor balcony and run to the cop's house! My house is on fire, and I run to the cop's house! I see a peeping tom, and I run to the cop's house! In my mind's eye, I imagine these cops jumping out of their bedroom in full uniform, pulling Uzi's out of their cop car trunks, and hunting down the assailants. Every time I escape unscathed and they get metals of honor.

None of this ever happens, and this is where the curse part begins. I have yet to get Washington license plates (yes, I know, I know, shame on me. Everyone now say it in chorus. BAD KRISTIN) I bought my car right before moving here, and the Oregon plates expire in 2010. I heard a nasty rumor that I'd have to pay SALES TAX on my Oregon car if I changed the plates too quickly. So I waited, and waited, and waited, now to the point of embarrasment. Every time I drive by the cops house, I cringe, expecting them to quit whatever they are doing to hunt me down. Like they have nothing better to do than to find and arrest minor lawbreakers during their off hours. Instead they smile and nod, and yell out a hearty "hello!"

We live on a long, steep gravel driveway, so taking out the garbage is a pain. One day, David stuck the can in the back seat, and was driving up to the curb without his seatbelt on. When he saw the man cop in his front yard, David scrambled to pull the seatbelt across his lap. The cop just laughed, and waved, and said "hello!" Like "you dummy, I'm NOT WORKING, cops sometimes are OFF DUTY."

Maybe my fantasies about this male-female cop team are completely off base. Maybe if I ran to their house in my pajamas with heart pounding after I'd been robbed, peeped, fired, you name it - maybe they would just smile and say, "hello!"

I love my copper stopper neighbors. Thanks for never pulling me over for my Oregon plates.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Star Trek According to Wil Wheaton

I guess he thought it was good. If Wesley Crusher thinks Star Trek rocks, then it ROCKS by golly! I just can't wait.

Check out his blog post here:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Beer and a Blanket

The only thing better than a pig in a blanket, is either a Mexican (american) in a blanket, or a beer and a blanket. Especially a Mexican (american) with a goofy grin in a blanket. Yes, this picture shows another reason why Bainbridge Island ROCKS.
I met up with David and my Dad Friday night at the Public House, which is a brewpub on the island, and one of my favorite restaurants. It was a beautiful day on the back deck that overlooks a marina, the ferry terminal, and the Seattle skyline. The only problem was that it was cold and windy, a little too much for comfort.

"Blankets, anyone?" The waitress asked as she ambled over to take our order.

"Yes, please, three!"
As I put the blanket over my legs, I looked around at the rest of the patio. Patrons had blankets around their shoulders and on their laps. It was like the "Brew Pub Uniform." We were all blue in one way or another. Then I looked at David, and laughed out loud. How could he drink his beer with that blanket wrapped tightly around him? When there's a will, there's a way.

It got me to thinking - this would be even better with a Snuggie. Then everyone on the porch would look like Jedi Knights drinking beer and wine. It would be awesome. Simply awesome.
"Another beer, I would like."
"Cold is, the wind."
"Hamburger and fries, I would like."
"A beautiful view, those ferries make."
We could all talk like Jedis too.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ready.....Set....SWINE FLU!

Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu.
Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu.

I'm getting myself mentally prepared to jump into work feet first. I know I will probably land in a pile of swine flu, and repeat myself every half an hour. I might as well go out in the pig pen and just roll around. I have said that phrase so much in the last week, I don't know which came first: the swine, or the flu.

I know that most "normal people" (non-media) I speak with are tired of hearing about the swine flu. What they don't understand is that sometimes journalists get equally tired of talking about it, seeing it on Twitter pages, interviewing people about it, reading emails about it. When news gets big, it often gets into a repetitive cycle, a little like a broken record. We had this conversation at lot at work - how much is too much? I think that KOMO 1000 actually did a great job of covering the outbreak, with fact, not hysteria. Some of the stories I heard on my radio station calmed my fears, and now I'm just tired of hearing about the whole thing.

I already think the media is backing off the swine flu a little bit. I watched 60 Minutes last night, and was so thrilled they didn't even mention those dreaded words. The last week felt like a swine flu marathon, and the weekend was a much needed break. My Dad was in town, we had a BBQ, we ate at a relaxing pub on Bainbridge Island, we went on a walk to the park. We also used hand sanitizer more than normal.

I've gotten the swine flu out of my system, and I'm hoping the media has as well. I'm ready to start reporting about interesting things - like the astronaut getting ready to blast off in just a few days, he's the pilot, and he's from our state. Now that's something to talk about.