Sunday, March 15, 2009

Overcoming the literal and figurative hump

Man, it seems in this day and age, there are way too many online outlets to share good news or thoughts. I'm really happy that I hiked Camelback Mountain--the harder trail--all the way to the top. I wasn't sure what to expect and I wasn't sure if I could keep up a good pace. But it wasn't as bad as I thought, and the view was awesome. I'm so glad that I want to write about it. But if I write about it in one place, I feel like I have to do it other places. Let's count: 1) here on my blog, 2)Facebook status, 3) Twitter update, 4) Yelp review. Nobody expects me to take the time out for any or all, but I feel like I should. Sigh...

So, this all started with my co-worker, Andy who is one of our sportswriters. The guy is in great shape. Go figure, a sportswriter who is athletic. Really, I haven't met many of those since college. He has been after me for like six months to go hiking up Camelback Mountain. He thought I could easily do it. I resisted and seemed to always have excuses. I couldn't go on a weekday morning. I already had plans that day. I resisted because all I ever heard about Camelback Mountain is it's for hardcore hikers. I didn't think running miles on flat terrain would prepare me for that. Also, a couple months ago, a girl died (I learned later that she had fallen after going off the trail. If you stay on the trail, the worst you could do is injure yourself). He brought it up again with me on Wednesday about heading out there Sunday morning. I said I'd have to think about it. I realized I had no excuse. And then I realized, I don't hike often because I don't like to go alone in case I hurt myself. Here was someone familiar with the area willing to keep me company and look out for me. So Friday, I told Andy I was game.

I have to admit I'm glad I did. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and met him near the park at 7:30 a.m. It wasn't what I pictured. I guess I pictured skinny trails and my sliding into an abyss or landing on someone. Plus, I don't like heights. But the trail is pretty wide. A lot of the climb is on a lot of sandstone rock. You just have to be careful about where you place your feet. Of course, the klutz in me didn't escape completely unscathed. I have the scraped knees and leg bruise to prove it. But it was all worth it. I was pleasantly surprised that I kept up with Andy and didn't have to rest for too long. The hardest parts were when you really had to lift your whole body weight upward and coming down, my knees and upper legs were asking 'Why?' The hike was 1.2 miles each way with an elevation gain of 1,264 feet. Getting to that summit was really a great feeling of accomplishment. I haven't had that feeling in a while. I'm happy I can say I did it, especially as hiking season will end in a couple of months.

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's like a week of ESPN mixed with Court TV

I've been MIA on blogging for almost two months. Honestly, it's mostly because a majority of the time, I feel like I have nothing exciting to write about. A lot of times, I feel like there's no chance anything thrilling or extraordinary will ever happen to me. Must be nice to be Beyonce or Oprah. Every day you can wake up knowing that there's a good chance something cool will happen or you will meet someone cool. Anyway, that's just my own fixation I have to deal with.

Now, nothing terribly exciting has happened to me--just odd. This past work week has been book-ended by some weird happenings. Thought I'd document for fun. First, on Monday, as soon as I got to the office--I didn't even have time to turn on my computer or put my lunch in the kitchen--I was instructed to turn back around. On Friday, Mr. former NBA pro/TNT sports analyst Charles Barkley began a three-day jail sentence down at the county jail known as Tent City. We just found out that he was going to be released. So, I sped down to the jail where there were several other media outlets already camped out. Well, alas, it turns out we all missed Barkley. He had left before anyone got there through a private entrance. However, I didn't get to go back to the office yet. I then drove to downtown Phoenix to the Sheriff's Office to ask Sheriff Arpaio what Barkley was like as an inmate. The sheriff here has a reputation for being a publicity hound who loves to put on dog and pony shows. He is definitely a character. He is the one who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" and makes inmates wear pink undergarments and work on chain gangs. In our interview he said Barkley actually signed autographs for inmates and was sure to add that it's Arpaio's signature they usually want. Not sure whether I believe that. Anyway, I never pictured myself sitting in his office asking whether Charles Barkley liked jail food.

In my time here, I've come to believe in a Friday curse. All breaking news tends to happen on Fridays here. I can think of four examples so it must be true. It was at least true today. I mean, Friday the 13th. It was in the cards. At 12:45 p.m. today, we got word that the jury had finally reached a verdict in the Serial Shooter case. Over a 14-month period in '05 and '06, some person or persons was randomly shooting at people around metro Phoenix late at night. Eight people died and 19 were wounded. The victims were transients or people just riding their bikes. Really senseless. Two men were charged and one of them, Dale Hausner, was depicted as the mastermind. The verdict was for his case. This guy was facing an 87-count indictment. So, it was kind of a surprise the jury was ready to go after 11 days of deliberation. So, I had to drop everything and race to the courthouse. I was not the main reporter but something like this, you really need a team out there. My co-worker was on his laptop putting together a news brief as the verdict was being read. He needed to pay attention to details like how Hausner reacted while I had a list of all the charges and tallied what got a guilty or not guilty verdict. Everybody, including Hausner, was sitting in the courtroom for at least 10 minutes until the jury came out. I was about three rows behind him. I could see family members of victims as well as Hausner's own family. Even though I had no personal connection to either side (I hope I never know what it's like to be in any position on the side of victims or defendant), I couldn't help feel a little suspenseful. This man sitting 15 feet away from me was about to find out if he'd be found guilty of killing people. And if he were, he'd have prosecutors asking he be sentenced to death. And then my mind would drift and I'd start thinking about what I would eat for dinner. Then I thought 'well, that seems weird to be thinking about a little thing like that when here's this guy who's going to die in prison if not by lethal injection.' But then I decided not to feel guilty about nonchalantly thinking about my own little stuff. If he's truly guilty, and much of the evidence seems to point that way, he brought it upon himself. There were many people who were jubilant when he was found guilty of 6 of 8 killings. It was an interesting experience being part of that media chaos after when interviewing victims and victims' relatives. But I'm even happier that I was helpful and played a key role. My co-worker was very kind in his gratitude. He said nobody could have covered that verdict reading and get it to the news desk alone. My tallying was crucial so that he could quickly sum up in a succint way for a news item what Hausner was found guilty on. And my quotes from a victim and a victim's sister were used in the national story. It's a good feeling to be helpful.

Can't wait to see what next week brings...