Post Olympic Games Post

I love the Olympic Games, but I love my sleep more. Unfortunately, the number of hours I was able to fall asleep into a blissful slumber dwindled significantly. It’s an occupational hazard. I work at a local TV news station, one that’s NBC owned. I also happen to be a special projects producer, and the Olympic Games fall under special projects. So, during the 17 days of Olympic glory my alarm clock went of at 2 a.m. Yes, 2 a.m. Have I mentioned yet that I’m not a morning person? I guess 2 a.m. isn’t technically morning. It’s the dead of night. The middle of the night. It is downright painful to get up at that hour. I don’t even hit the snooze alarm for fear of falling back asleep.

Once I’m up however, I’m up, and I’m raring to get right into Olympic mode. That’s where my love of the Olympic Games kicked in making me love my job, even with the crazy early hours. Thanks to the bevy of athletic talent in the Bay Area, I got the chance to profile amazing athletes who are among the best in the world in their chosen sport. Then I got to see them  compete. Many times they ended up on the podium with a medal hanging from their neck. Other times they missed the mark. They were as gracious in defeat as they were in victory. I’m not surprised. Without exception, all the athletes I interviewed were down to earth and gracious. Sure they were confident. They have to be when they’re elite athletes, but they were also incredibly humble and very patient to answer every question I asked.

Since I was on the early morning shift, I very rarely got to see NBC’s Olympic coverage. Thanks to my twitter feed, (and my husband) I never went to sleep (at the ungodly early hour of 8 pm) not knowing who had won and who had lost. It’s the good and bad of tape delay. At least that meant I had a pretty good idea of the Olympic content I’d be producing for our morning shows.

There’s also a good and bad working these hours when you have three kids. The good includes coming home in the early afternoon with time to hang out with the girls. We headed to the California Academy of Sciences one day and the beach another day. Yep, of the 12 early morning weekdays I worked, I only managed to take them to a real outing two times. I don’t count trips to the grocery store and Old Navy as real outings. I had grand plans to do fun things, but truth be told, I was dog tired and more than a little bit cranky. I also went to bed well before they did, leaving the lion share of bedtime and breakfast duties to the husband. He also made sure the tooth fairy remembered to leave something for two kids who lost a tooth each during the Olympic Games.

So I’ve got mixed reactions to the end of the Olympic Games. Like the millions of other people who watched the Olympics, I’ll remember the great stories of London 2012. Who can forget Oscar Pistorius or Usain Bolt on the track? Or Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin in the pool?x Or the Fierce Five showing their gymnastic moves in the gymnasium? Or the women’s water polo or soccer teams winning gold? I know I won’t.

I also am looking forward to returning to my regular schedule. It means I not only get to silence the 2 a.m. alarm clock, I also get more time with my kids, which will give me plenty of other great stories to tell.

The Layover in San Francisco

He’s been all over the world, and now in his new show The Layover, Anthony Bourdain returns to my turf, San Francisco. If you haven’t seen the show, which I highly recommend, Bourdain spends about 30 hours drinking his way through a city. I didn’t particularly like the first few episodes because it felt like a cheap off label version of Bourdain’s original series No Reservations. Yeah, I’ll watch it if nothing else is on, but if I want the good stuff, I’ll save up for it. Well I was low on TV options so I decided to catch up on a couple of  The Layover episodes, and I have to say, they’ve gotten better.

Maybe I’m biased because I love San Francisco, or maybe it’s because he was inebriated for 29 out of the 30 hours he spent in SF, but it was funny. Damn funny. Any show that starts off in the Tonga Room at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel is bound to spark a fair amount of hilarity, and this episode of  The Layover did not disappoint. It was like watching a progressive pub crawl in fast forward and skipping the right to the slurred words and stumbling in the street scenes. I lost count of the amount of drinks Bourdain consumed. He had at least three potent drinks served with fancy umbrellas in huge lava or skull themed glasses. I’ve been to the Tonga Room a couple of times, even used it as a backdrop for a news special I produced, but never, ever did I try even a fraction of the drinks Bourdain enjoyed.

From Nob Hill, he continued his San Francisco tour through a one of a kind Chinatown bar, and then headed into another bar where the dude behind the counter wore a tie. Bourdain eventually ended up at a pizza and burger joint that’s known for staying open late. The chef and foodie is in one of the top food cities in the world and he’s scarfing down a double cheeseburger. Yep, that pretty much sums up The Layover. The show highlights people, places, and drinking establishments that you’ll never read about in Fodor’s or Rick Steve’s guide books, but still make you want to visit.  Hell, I was just happy Bourdain didn’t dog San Francisco again, like he’s been known to do on No Reservations. It’s probably because he was drunk almost throughout the entire episode, but Bourdain was effusive in his love for SF. I think at one point he even said it’s the best drinking city in the world.

After watching probably a half-dozen episodes of The Layover, I’ve noticed something. The drunker Bourdain, the better the episode. In fact, I’m watching the one on Miami as I write this, and Bourdain is way more sober, and it’s nowhere near as good as the San Francisco episode. So if Bourdain were to ever ask my producing advice for his show, I’d tell him to do what he did in San Francisco. Drink early and often. It may not serve him well on the flight home, but it makes for entertaining television.

Lessons Learned from Tragedies

Working as a TV News producer, I talk to lots of people who have gone through horrible tragedies. These people graciously allow me and a photojournalist to come into their homes and talk about what usually is by far the worst day of their lives.  In the last few weeks, I have talked to family members who have lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, as well as survivors and first responders of the San Bruno explosion. When anniversaries come up, part of my job is to tell their stories so we not only honor the victims and survivors, but also learn from these truly awful tragedies.

Talking to these people, I learn from them more than they’ll ever know. They teach me about the power of inner strength, love, and kindness, which helped them heal at least a little bit. They are on my mind when I interview government leaders and regulators about the mistakes and missed opportunities that led to their lives being forever changed.

These people have important stories, stories I hope you’ll take the time to watch and learn from as well. Below are links to a couple of stories I produced on San Bruno.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Why_This_Family_Did_Not_Return_to_San_Bruno_Bay_Area-129343648.html

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/on-air/as-seen-on/San_Bruno_First_Responders_Had_No_Water_to_Fight_This_Bay_Area-129468128.html

As I’ve been working this week, the girls would hear me talk about San Bruno and 9/11, but for them, these two anniversaries meant Mom was working a lot more than she usually does. So when I came home from work last night, I had them watch a few of the San Bruno stories with me and Van. If they learned just a fraction of what I’ve learned from these amazing people, I’ve done my job as a parent and a journalist.