Archive for August, 2007

Can You Tell Me How to Get, How to Get to Coolidge Street

August 31, 2007

Shannon O'Donnell

Sometimes during a weathercast, I’ll add in a little mention of some of my favorite Bay Area spots. On a foggy San Francisco morning, you may have heard me tell you it was a “good day to warm up with a latte-in-a-bowl at the Boulange de Polk.” Or when the fog breaks, that you might want to head out to Tiburon and take in the view of the City from the deck at Sam’s. On a perfect spring day, the temperature may be just right for a stroll down Santa Cruz Avenue in my favorite charming little town of Los Gatos. And you’ve probably heard me refer to our mini-moon (we didn’t have time for a honeymoon after the wedding!) in Napa and my husband proposing over a bottle of red from Duckhorn Vineyards.

But once in awhile I’ll throw in a reference to something that may seem even more obscure… a little neighborhood in the East Bay called ‘Bishop Estates.’ As in, “with temps in the 90s, it will be a good day for a swim in the Bishop Estates pool.” (Huh? At that point you probably wonder, “what in the world is she talking about?”) That was the pool where I learned how to swim, and Bishop Estates is where I spent the first 6 or 7 years of my life.

We moved to the East Bay from the Midwest about a year after I was born. My Mom, wanting to escape her small-town-Wisconsin life for most of HER childhood, was THRILLED to move out to the big city of San Francisco. She soon found out that Concord was closer to Sacramento than San Francisco, but oh well, close enough! The subdivision we moved into was called ‘Bishop Estates,’ and all of the streets were named after U.S. Presidents. Our home was on ‘Coolidge Street.’ The homes had been built ten years earlier in the 1960s, but our home had some seriously hip 70s-era updates, such as thick shag carpeting in different colors in every room.

I have such great memories from that home. Catching tadpoles in the backyard pond and trying to sell them at our garage sale. My Mom teaching me to roller skate and twirl the baton on the backyard sport court. Having our birthday parties on the sprawling backyard deck. Teaching myself to blow gum bubbles by practicing endlessly in front of the mirror in the half-bath. My Dad bringing home our eventually-beloved English cocker spaniel, but my Mom, brother and I initially cowering in the corner in fear of the poor new, scared pup.

Here is a picture of my Mom, Dad, brother Shane and me in front of the fireplace in the living room. The year is probably 1979:


Even though I’ve been back in the Bay Area, and with NBC11, for almost seven years now, I’ve only ventured back to Coolidge Street to check out the old pad once or twice. But given the circumstances of the last year (as detailed a bit in previous blogs), I’ve been feeling nostalgic and have been yearning for a trip down memory lane. So a few Saturdays ago, I packed my two little boys in the car and headed out of the foggy City-by-the-Bay toward the sizzling suburb of Concord.

After an hour in the car and a few wrong turns, we arrived. The neighborhood hadn’t changed much in the last 30 years. The layout of the streets is exactly as I have it saved in my mind’s eye–a big rectangle around the outskirts, broken in the middle by several cul de sacs. We drove past the pool, where I somehow used to swim the butterfly for the B.E.S.T (the Bishop Estates Swim Team, then known as the BEST!). It looked a little shadier than I’d remembered it–I guess the trees have had time to grow.

Slowing some and approaching my old home on Coolidge, my heart beat a little faster when I saw a woman just pulling in to the driveway. Rolling down the window, I asked if she lived there, and when she said “yes,” I kind of nervously stammered that this “used to be my house as a little girl,” and something about my Dad “putting in that brick along the walkway back in the 70s.” To my delight, she said that she knew that and that she and her husband had bought the house from my parents 27 years ago!

We chatted for a bit and she invited me to come in and see it–what an absolute treat. Everything, save for the shag carpet, was exactly the way I remembered it. “That’s where we used to put our Christmas tree!” “Really? That’s where we always put it, too!” The pond was now filled up with landscaping (“too hard to maintain”, she said, and I don’t blame them), and the sport court was a bit cracked and faded, but I was happy to hear that her two children had spent their wonder years learning how to play badminton and rollerskating there, too. The many eucalyptus trees I’d remembered, more for their scent than anything, had been cut down. “I don’t know how your Mom did that with all the yard work, she must have been so busy”, she said. I suppose she was.

We spent almost an hour going through the house, and going through memories. I think someone was looking out for me by affording me that opportunity–had I not gotten a little lost on the way there, I would have definitely missed out on the wonderful personal tour of the structure that is the hallmark of my childhood.

Before leaving, we snapped a few photos. Here, almost 30 years later, I’m the Mommy in the picture, this time with my own two little ones. And the second photo–we’re in front of the portal to all of these memories. With my Dad’s brick walkway leading the way home.

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Stinging Lip Job?

August 27, 2007

Laura Garcia Cannon

A really strange thing happened to me while I was on vacation recently. Something I’d call a one in a million chance, although I don’t have the official statistics to back it. One can only hope it never happens to you!

A bee flew in my mouth and stung my lip! It was the strangest thing and happened in a blink of an eye or I guess the little breath that I took. I was at Universal Studios in Southern California for my annual “Camp Aunt Laurie.” Every year, I take my niece and nephews for a week to give my sister and brother-in-law a little break, and some summer time fun for the kids. I have just as much fun planning the whole thing. Every day is a surprise, and the kids have to figure out what we’re doing by solving a puzzle or riddle or deciphering clues I give them. Every year, I fill the week with different activities and locations – concerts, theme parks, horseback riding, crafts, the beach… you name it, it’s always different and fun. The kids win badges for good deeds and participating in my crazy crafts – who knew this year we’d have to hand out a first aid badge!

I’m glad it happened to me and not one of the kids. I was walking with my 6-year-old nephew and pow! I saw a flash of black fly by me and into my mouth. OUCH! A big pinch on my lip and I told my nephew Matthew, “I think I just got stung by a bee!” He glances my way and says comforting, “Uh no, you’re ok, come on let’s just keep
walking.” As my lip started to swell, I was worried I’d possibly have an allergic reaction (since it runs in the family and I’m already allergic to some strange things). I didn’t want my nephew to start getting worried though so we made it a fun game to go to the first aid center. He became my trusty doctor and we headed on over.
I text messaged my other sister, his Aunt Lisa and her husband Jim, who had taken our nephew Michael on the big kid rides. They met us there to find my Angelina Jolie lip well underway. The thing is, only a quarter of my lip swelled, making it look like I had the worst collagen job ever! Ha ha – It was huge though. I couldn’t eat or drink anything and the swelling continued well into the next few days.

I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t anchoring and had the week off to heal… I’m sure the emails would have been many. At least now I know what a bad lip injection would look like!

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Low Tech Tech Guy?

August 22, 2007

Scott McGrewI don’t own an iPhone. That may surprise some people, but I’m quite content with older technology. Yes, that sounds strange coming from the “tech guy.” The iPhone is a marvelous device, but my current phone works just fine, thanks. In fact, up until a few months ago, I had a phone so old it didn’t even have a color screen.

Though I cover the latest and greatest gadgets, I’m perfectly content with the $24 DVD player I bought from Target. I could not care less about Blu-Ray or HD DVD. I lived through the Betamax/VHS war, and know better than to pick a side too early. (full disclosure: NBC11’s parent company, NBC Universal, backs the HD DVD format because Blu-Ray causes cancer. *kidding).

It’s not as if I would get a better picture even if I did hook a HD DVD player up to my TV – I have an old television that can’t display high resolution.

While I do admire the flat panel displays I see at the store, and I think they would look great hanging up on my wall, I’m not lusting after that better picture. Sure, a high definition picture would be nice, but so too would new kitchen counter tops, so you have to decide what’s important to you. People, I think, are buying new TV’s based on their shape, not their technology. They think the flat screens are cool, but are less lustful of the picture. In fact, a recent survey showed 49% of people who own HDTV’s think they’re watching high definition but are not. How good is the HD picture really, if half of TV owners can’t tell the difference?

There’s a lot of confusion about high definition television. People with “digital” cable or satellite (which by definition is digital) think they have high definition. Not necessarily. “Digital” just means the information is carried by ones and zeroes. I’ve seen digital TV that looks terrible. Analog cable might look much better. All high definition is digital, but not all digital is high definition.

I was in the TV section of Costco the other day and saw a sign that addressed the confusion, but only added more confusion. It said “just because you have a high definition TV doesn’t mean you have a high definition signal.” True enough. But then it went on to say “you must subscribe to a high definition package; see your cable or satellite operator.” Not true at all. Networks (like this one) broadcast a digital *and* in many cases high definition (but not always!) signal right over the air. For free.

In just a few years, the TV you’re watching right now may not work as networks move away from the current spectrum. Few people realize this.. that’s going to be an interesting few weeks as people suddenly realize they can’t watch Heroes or the Office. But ’til then I’ll stick with the old TV set.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Morning Show Virtues

August 21, 2007

Brent Cannon

I just had a conversation with a co-worker about the virtues of doing the morning show and getting up at 2:45 in the morning. He asked if there were any virtues of such a shift. I quickly came up with several benefits. For one – I have not sat in bumper to bumper commute traffic in years. I have noticed more and more cars on the road in the wee hours – but I never plod along at ten miles per hour. In the rare event that I do get stuck in traffic, it drives me nuts. I have no idea how “normal” people do it day in and day out.

I have not paid full price for a movie in years. Laura and I always go to matinees. We pay less – never have to rush to beat the crowds – and don’t have to worry about if we’ll find seats together.

I eat my big meal early in the day – often times before noon. That means I have more time to burn it off before going to bed. It helps me stay slim – and believe me – at my age with my metabolism, that’s a big deal.

I get outside and see daylight almost every day. I can ride a bike, golf, take a walk, or work out every afternoon. I know lots of people who work 9 to 5 that don’t really see the sun all winter. They go to work when it’s dark – and come home when it’s dark. For me, that’s a bummer. I like getting outside.

I never have to wait for a machine at the gym. There are days it gets busy – but nothing compared to the evening hours after 9-5 work.

And finally, it is easier to run errands. I don’t have to use my lunch break to go to the post office – or spend my weekends getting a haircut. I do it in the afternoon – and have more of my weekend free of the “to do” list.

Still – there are many days when my alarm goes off before 3AM that I have to remind myself of this list.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Recall Concern

August 9, 2007

Mike Inouye

We often hear about recalls and I understand the reason we need to know about these things at a level such that I’d return the battery or check the canned food for the affected production lot.

I also understand the historical health problems with lead based paints and feel for those who had been living in older houses for years only to discover that some paint was indeed from that era.

These are important things to know. That’s why we report them.

HOWEVER…

I suddenly realized how dramatically things change from “important to know,” to important for ME to know when it affects my kid.

Toddler No Way has this toy which is listed in this story we reported on NBC11 News.

Recalled?

Lead in the paint?

Panic?

Wow. What an eye opener when I caught myself with the elevated heartbeat.

I guess I really am doing that fatherly concern thing. Now I just have to do the follow the recall instructions thing.

Stay tuned for follow up on this one.

Mike Inouye
Lead Paint Abating Father
NBC11 Traffic Anchor

Fleeing From Fleas: What I did on my summer vacation in 1986

August 7, 2007

Shannon O'Donnell

Since we’ve had a bit of a bug and summer vacation theme going on our breakfast blog lately, I thought I’d pull one last insect story out of my arsenal: the one about the time I ran for my life from a flea-infested home.

The year was 1986, and I had agreed to watch a friend’s home for a few weeks while they were away… you know, get the mail, feed the cats and fish. Your basic-house-sitting duties. I had also committed to taking on this gal’s paper route, in turn getting my hot-little-junior-high-hands on her ‘Honda Spree’ moped for my trouble!

So on a hot summer’s afternoon (likely about 76 degrees, which in Seattle is considered a HOT summer’s day, thank you), my buddy Sarah and I, beridden with boredom, decided to take the Spree out for a spin. Feeling charitable and probably a bit guilty over using the motorcycle for non-paper-route-related transportation, I swung by the home to tend to the animals. I vividly remember standing in the little sister’s room, sprinkling fish food into the bowl, and glancing toward her stuffed-animal-strewn bed. The animals seemed to be MOVING. Getting a bit closer, it became clear that the animals were covered with BUGS. Small, creepy, crawly brown FLEAS, to be exact.

Screaming in horror, Sarah and I booked down the stairs and into the living room, where the severity of our problem became clear. Against our pale northwest complexions, dozens of dark dots stood out like stars in a Montana sky. “Sarah, they’re all over your legs!” “They’re all over yours, too!”

Still screaming, we ran from the house, flailing and discarding clothing, trying to pry the parasites loose. Oh, and did I mention this home was on a world class golf course, right across from the 3rd hole, where a big tournament was going on? And at that very moment, as we were running around hollering and stripping, a huge crowd of people turned to watch this drama unfold? In the panic that ensued, we even hopped on the Spree and rode around in circles, trying to blow the little bloodsuckers off. What our unwitting audience must have been thinking, I’ll never know.

Safely back at my home, Sarah’s fleabites faded into a memory within an hour, but my legs were absolutely covered with bright red, itchy welts that lasted for a week. It was torture!

Twenty years later, fleas will still jump off a perfectly decent dog to get a taste of my flesh. Word must have gotten out in the flea world that I was an easy meal. My family loves having me around, as I’m always the ‘bug-bait’. And even as bad as that bee-sting was (detailed in my previous blog), I’ll take that over a flea infestation any day. Long live Advantage and Frontline!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Summer Memories

August 3, 2007

Laura Garcia Cannon

Lately, I’ve felt a bit guilty calling home. While I’ve been enjoying the delightful 75-80 degree Bay Area weather, my parents are sweltering in the summer heat of the Central Valley. 100 plus days are normal there, but as a kid on summer break, you’d never seem to notice. A good slip n’ slide in the backyard that would flood and ruin your fathers lawn did the trick of cooling you off. Or maybe a few water balloons perfectly aimed at each other. I’d also enjoy my own personal breeze I’d create, riding my Schwinn bike to the corner market to get an ice cold Missile Pop that would stain my lips blue.

One of my fondest memories of summer however, were the many days I spent at my Grandparent’s ranch and dairy. 105 degree days seemed to go unnoticed as I’d create adventures with my cousin Jimmy. We’d sneak into the churning rooms climbing ladders to get a glimpse of the creamy fresh milk with the froth still on top. We’d sit behind big tractors and pretend we were plowing fields. We’d tease each other if the other were wearing any touch of red the bulls were bound to leap from their pens and attack as if it were a bull fight! We’d feed the baby calves, climb hay bales and come home filthy. Our poor mothers. While they were in the kitchen with my dear Grandmother, we were getting burrs in our socks and sneaking into the freezer to get ice cream. The ranch was a big part of our lives. Holidays, summers we were always there. By the picture you see here, we started out early in our cowpoke days. This is my Mom holding me as I pretended to ride a calf. Doesn’t she look hip and Jackie O? I think I have a pair of sunglasses like that right now! That is my PaPa Lan, her father, standing by making sure everything was ok. The dog days of summer seem to pass so easily back then. I’m glad I can still cherish the wonderful memories on a cool Bay Area day. I think I’ll go have an ice cream.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

A Bug Free Blog Entry

August 2, 2007

Scott McGrew

If you look below, you will see that in the past few days, Laura has blogged about wasps, Brent blogged about ticks, Mike chose spiders and Shan went with bees. I did not get the “please blog about bugs” memo, so I thought I would give you some travel recommendations.

I’ve been a resident of California for about a decade now, and you’d think I know my way around the state by now, but frankly the Bay Area is so interesting that I don’t see much outside of it. So I had never been to, or even heard of Clear Lake ’til just a couple of weeks ago.Clear Lake, for those of you as geographically ignorant as I am, is north of the Bay Area in (surprise!) Lake County. It’s the largest freshwater lake in California. I took my parents, wife and kids up to the lake not knowing anything about it other than what I had read in the always dependable Sunset Magazine. As usual, Sunset’s recommendations were spot on.

my mother, quite certain we will all meet our doom on the boat


We stayed at the Tallman Hotel, a upscale boutique hotel in Upper Lake California, a town that appears to have about 10 people in it. The hotel is first class, and has my top recommendation. Follow the link for more.And then we rented a boat from On the Waterfront; a big 17 foot speedboat. Which is particularly remarkable for me – I know nothing about boats and my parents are from the midwest and are largely terrified of them. But all went well. We even did a little inner-tubing. And lots of fishing.

Zachary, age 12, ready to tube


Couple of tips before you go: make sure to take water or sodas with you on the boat – it’s a bummer to be halfway across that giant lake and be thirsty. Clear Lake can get very hot in the summer, so hat and sunscreen are a must. Stay away from Konocti, particularly if you are travelling with older people or small children – the crowd there was very “spirited” in my mother’s words. Spirits, and large quantities of them, seemed to indeed be the problem with the people we ran into there (nearly literally – they were not very good boat drivers). That part of the lake is also much choppier than the northern end. Bring a fishing pole — Clear Lake is apparently the best fishing in California. Eat several meals at the Blue Wing Saloon, connected right there with the Tallman. The Ciago Winery. You can tie your boat up right at the dock.
There’s no story here — no one was attacked by any sort of bug, and the boat did not sink. I just thought if you’re reading this and were thinking about taking the family somewhere for a long weekend, Clear Lake, the Tallman and On the Waterfront were all so above expectations that I thought I would pass them on.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter