Archive for May, 2006

Airflow, from High to Low

May 26, 2006

Shannon O'Donnell“No more wind for me, ever! No more wind for me, ever, EVER!”

Such were the words of my 2-year-old nephew upon visiting San Francisco during the windy spell that kicked off our Memorial Day Weekend. We were walking the boys in their strollers over a very gusty hillside in San Francisco, and the wind was absolutely howling in from over the ocean.

So where does wind come from–what causes the air to ‘move’ so much during a wind storm? It all has to do with how ‘deep’ the area of low pressure (fancy-meteorologist-speak for ‘storm’) is that is coming in, and how much it contrasts with any nearby areas of higher pressure.. If the low, or storm center, is very strong and it’s central pressure is very low, a strong pressure gradient, or difference in pressure, develops. The atmosphere tries to ‘balance out’ this difference in pressure by throwing a lot of air from the high toward the low to ‘fill it in’. Thus, the low acts like a giant vacuum, sucking and whooshing air into itself. As the low center ‘fills up’, the winds die down.

We’ve had some pretty significant wind storms on the west coast, but the gusty low pressure centers that more often make headlines tend to hit the OTHER side of the country…they’re otherwise known as HURRICANES.

With hurricane season beginning soon, we’ll talk about how hurricanes get their names next time.

Ciao and have a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist


Cowboy, Oh Boy – I Feel Like an Idiot

May 26, 2006

Bob RedellSo the nice people at the Rowell Ranch Rodeo invited me to participate in their celebrity penning event. That’s where 3 people on horses try to corral a cow into a pen. 24 teams – 3 per team: 2 who know what they are doing – and an “invitee” who in my case did not. I don’t know why but I actually thought this was going to be easy.

It was me, Mike (middle aged cowboy who seemed to really care about winning) and Okie (ol’ timer who was so carefree I think they named the gum after him.) I can’t remember my horse’s name. (Shame does that to you.) But I do remember what Mr. Ed’s evil twin did to me once we got out there in front of the crowd. I’d love to show you but my wife forgot to take pictures because she was laughing so hard. All I remember is that the power steering went out, the accelerator was stuck in “whatever” and I had no brakes.

I particulary enjoyed it when Bruiser crushed my legs up against the railing. But that was nowhere near as much fun as when he tried some bucking maneuver. It wasn’t like I actually wanted to keep that hat that was on my head. He then trotted over to the stands where some little girl told me that “The horse could tell I was nervous.” Nervous? No. Try humilated. The horse did finally come to a stop. Some dude in the crowd yelled out: “Don’t do a thing! Keep him there.” Good idea. Why didn’t I think of that? Here’s the shocker to all of this: My team didn’t do so well. I felt bad for Mike. (Sorry dude.)

In all seriousness, I had a lot of fun and have no ill will towards Hopalong. I would’ve done the same thing if I had 200 pounds of waste of humanity on my back.

By the way, I don’t want you to think I totally stink at rodeo. Here’s a picture of me bull riding. You’ll be proud to know that I stayed on not just for one – but yes, two whole seconds!

Bob Redell
NBC11 Reporter

Emmy Awarded

May 24, 2006

Brent Cannon
Laura and I were so honored to be among our fellow co-workers at NBC11 to have won an Emmy at this year’s annual awards ceremony in San Francisco. In fact a lot of people from NBC11 collected an Emmy. We won for Large Market Daytime Newscast. Of course it’s important to point out that it takes a complete team effort to put our newscasts together every day. Producers, writers, editors, directors, camera people, reporters in the field – so many people work hard to make a great newscast every day.

Once in a while, there are one or two newscasts that you think stand out, and you submit those to the Academy. A group of judges then decides who gets a nomination. Three of our morning newscasts received nominations this year – and one of them won. When they called the name of our newscast it was like scoring a touchdown in a big game. So thrilling.

I think it’s all the more special to me because this is the first Emmy at NBC11 for Laura and I, and we did it side by side. I felt so lucky to have such a great group of people to work with every day. I think we were kind of stunned all weekend.

Here’s the funny thing. All of our morning newscasts have a similar name. The Bay Area Today at 6am. Or, the Bay Area Today at 10, etc. So, I heard them announce – “The Bay Area…” – and I knew we won. I jumped out of my seat and ran up to the stage. But when I got to the podium I realized in the excitement I didn’t know for sure which of our nominations actually won! I had to check the big screen on stage to make sure.

Congrats to everyone on our crew!

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Strange But True

May 24, 2006

Scott McGrewAs you saw on our news, a portion of the Titantic’s hull is on display at the San Francisco Sony Metreon.

With that in mind, a bit of trivia for you: A stoker (engine room worker) on the Titanic named Frank “Lucks” Tower managed to survive the sinking of that ship, only to sign on with the Empress of Ireland, which capsized in the Saint Laurence Seaway, killing more than 2,000 people. That death toll was far higher than even the Titanic. In fact, it was the worst peacetime maritime disaster ever.

Tower was one of the only survivors.

Having his first two ships sink under him, he signed on with the — wait for it — Lusitania.

When a German torpedo hit the Lusitania, Tower is reported to have screamed “NOW what?”.

If this seems to you like a story that stretches credibility, you’re not alone. A young TV writer was so inspired by Tower’s odd experience that he penned a TV pilot based on odd experiences.

The young man’s name? Rod Serling. The TV show? The Twilight Zone.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter


May 22, 2006

Brent CannonLet’s talk about inspiration. Recently, Laura and I had the honor of hosting the East San Jose Kiwanis Club’s 39th annual “turnaround” scholarship luncheon. The program gets local business to fund scholarships for local high school students. These are kids that probably would not get much attention from other scholarship programs. Many are fortunate to have even graduated. They are kids who have overcome amazing set backs and challenges – somehow they have risen above the adversity – and will graduate on time and have a shot at continuing on with their education in hopes of a better life. There are kids from broken and abusive homes – kids who were close to dropping out – kids who have battled life-threatening disease or the loss of parents – kids who are raising their younger brother and sisters because they have no parents.

The stories were heart wrenching. Yet, while we felt bad that anybody would have to go through what these kids have had to go through – there was also a tremendous sense of inspiration. These kids have literally taken control and responsibility for their own young lives, and have decided not to let life get the better of them – no matter how tough it gets. Many kids have qualified to go to very expensive private colleges. Their next challenge – raising the money to complete that kind of schooling. But they are up for the challenge and will scrape together the funding – and work jobs while in school – whatever it takes, because now they have a second chance. Because they have turned things around – and hence the name of the program. The “Turnaround Scholarship Program.” I went to host a luncheon. I came away inspired. And they will do it again next year.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Fun at E3

May 19, 2006

Scott McGrew I spent last week at E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Otherwise known as the video game show. It’s where video game developers, hardware developers and retail buyers get together to see what will be available for sale in the coming months.

It’s also, as you might imagine, a great deal of fun. E3 is held at the Los Angeles Convention center and it’s just enormous. Microsoft’s booth on the show floor, for instance, was two stories tall and encompassed 45,000 square feet. 60,000 people attended this year’s show. Much like the Indianapolis 500 (I’ve been 20 times), you really have to see it to understand the scope of it.
I’ve been covering E3 for eight years now. In fact, I was one of the first television reporters to ever attend. These days, of course, it’s covered by the BBC, CNN and all kinds of other outfits, including dotcom gaming sites. Gamespot, an online news agency, put its newsroom in a space it rented right in the middle of the show floor. Its reporters had deadlines measured in minutes. A game company would announce a product and they’d have it on the web just moments later. It makes me glad I’m not a dotcom reporter.

This year, I did not see any games that took my breath away. Most are sequels to previous games. I did, however, come away with two impressions. First, the “next gen” game machines like Playstation3 and the (already available) Xbox360 have really great graphics. I’m not sure, though, that either machine really pushes the industry forward very much. Nice pictures are fun to look at, but are they worth -in the case of Playstation3- a $600 upgrade?

The second thing worth mentioning is the Nintendo Wii, pronounced “wee.” As you may know, it features a cordless controller that senses how you move. So, when you play tennis, you move it like a tennis racket. In a shooting game, you point it at the screen like a gun. It works like a charm.

Combine its expected low price (there’s talk of $200-$250), its sleek look and the wonder-wireless controllers, and you have a neat little device. My only hesitation: I wonder, after a long day at work or school, whether people would like to plop on the couch and play with a traditional controller, or spring up and jump around playing tennis with a wireless “racket”? I know which I would choose.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Top Two Questions

May 16, 2006

Christie Smith “No” and “2:35”

The two questions I am most often asked are not really about news at all. “For TV people, does someone do your hair and make-up?” and “What time do you get up?” I do my own hair, make-up and anything else needed to start the day. I either get the credit or the blame here, depending on the day.

The day begins at 2:35am. That’s when my alarm goes off and I go into temporary shock. Since working at NBC 11 News, I have strictly worked the night shift in Oakland. That shift was from 2:30pm until about midnight. My photographer and I were never sure what we would end up doing, but chances are it was breaking news and a good sense of humor was a key ingredient. After running around all night, you just sort of hope you remember to comb your hair and put on a bit of make-up before stepping in front of the camera. Recently, I switched to the morning shift. This enables me to spend more time with my two little boys. They have no questions about this job. Their only recurring question is “What’s to eat?” So, far it’s the best of both worlds. I get to continue reporting, meeting people and listening to their stories. It really is a pretty fun job. Best of all I get back home at a decent hour and get to hang out…until the alarm goes off again.

Christie Smith
NBC11 Reporter

Sleepless In The Bay Area

May 15, 2006

John Peck It’s 1:35pm and well past my bedtime. While working on the morning show is great fun for too many reasons to list, the resulting sleep schedule is not one of them. My fellow overnight producer and I start our days at work between 10 and 11pm. We’re usually out the door by 8am. This is great for avoiding crowds at the grocery store, running errands and enjoying the morning sun… but that sun (especially the heat it brings today!) can make sleeping difficult later in the day.

I usually try to crash by 1pm, with the idea that I’ll sleep 8 hours until 9pm. I can’t remember the last time I actually slept those entire eight hours… and the weekend is an entirely different matter. But I know I’m not alone with my sleep issues. In fact, NBC News is taking a closer look at being “Sleepless in America” this week. 70% of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep… what’s keeping everyone awake and can anything be done about it? That’s the question Lester Holt and other correspondents will try to answer over the next three nights on NBC Nightly News. I’ll hopefully be sleeping through those reports, but I’ve got my TiVo set – 5:30pm on NBC11!

Good night.

John Peck
NBC11 Producer

Rising Stars

May 12, 2006

Laura Garcia CannonWhat a week it’s been! As graduation quickly approaches for so many Bay Area High School seniors so does the onslaught of scholastic awards ceremonies. Often, Brent and I are asked to MC such events and it’s amazing every year to see the caliber of students our local schools are putting out. But it’s not just the schools putting out the students, it’s the student putting out the extra curricular activities, volunteering and community service work that makes them standouts in their fields!

On Monday night, I hosted the Hispanic Heritage Awards at Stanford University. Twenty students were chosen to receive two to three thousand dollar scholarships for being standouts in their community, while holding amazing grade point averages and for some, even holding down a job to help out the family! If this is a reflection of our future leaders – I’m very hopeful. It’s not often enough that you see the positive stories on youth in our community, excelling in their dedication to make themselves and the world a better place. These students will all go on to compete in the national awards where eventually one student in the U.S. will be featured in the National Hispanic Heritage Awards program in Washington D.C. Maybe we’ll see one of our local students attend the star studded extravaganza which will be featured on NBC in the fall. I’ll keep you posted.

Even more standouts could be found when Brent and I attended the San Jose Kiwanis Clubs’ annual scholarship awards luncheon. These students shared the most personal aspects of their lives, which included stories of intense struggle with family tragedy, depression, abuse, gang affiliation, suicide attempts, abandonment, teen pregnancy… yet all had the ability to overcome the worst of circumstances, sometimes without any support at all to become stellar students and leaders in their community. I congratulated them all then, but they deserve it again – way to go – you make your community proud!

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Why Should I Care, It’s Over THERE

May 12, 2006

Mike InouyeSo you’re listening to my traffic reports and think, “Oh, that’s over there; not on MY commute.”

That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another:

A mudslide caused a short portion of roadway to close in Pinole.

A viewer lives in Walnut Creek.

He works in Oakland.

He doesn’t care about the problems in Pinole… but maybe he should.

For over a week, one lane of westbound interstate 80 has been closed at Pinole Valley Road. This has been causing traffic to backup coming across the Carquinez Bridge, from Vallejo. Some drivers have opted to head east on I-780, then south on I-680 using the Benicia Bridge as an alternate. They then have to continue south on I-680 thru Concord, Pleasant Hill… and WALNUT CREEK (where they join HIS commute).

Additional traffic causes additional slowing as they ALL head west on Highway 24, through Orinda, through the already jammed Caldecott Tunnel and into Oakland where he’s late for his very important appointment.

This may sound contrived but this is happening and is a daily reminder of how interconnected we and our commutes are in our Bay Area home.

Lesson in traffic? Lesson in life?

I don’t know, I just make the maps. 😉

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Anchor