Archive for December, 2007

To B-Day or To Belate

December 21, 2007

Mike Inouye

New Year’s Day is a HUGE day for my family and for my wife’s family. The first day of the year entails major prep-work and either major hosting or a lot of driving to see the extended family on both sides of our marriage all over the Bay Area. This is the one day of the year we can count on seeing just about every member of our extended family who is anywhere near Northern California.

My kid’s birthday is just before New Year’s Day.

Getting his party squeezed in before the end of the year has proven to be hectic but in the week after it’s often cramped as well. During the planning of this year’s soiree, thoughts of Jeremy, a childhood friend, came to mind.

A friend since grammar school, he always celebrated his birthday in August. It wasn’t until 5th grade that I found out he was actually born during the last week of November. (I think it came up in school when the teacher was putting November birthdays on the bulletin board or something.)

He explained the logic to me: November/December were very busy holiday months, tough to get people together and the risk of the dreaded double-duty gift. I can hear him quote some unnamed relative, “Here Jeremy, this is for both Christmas AND your birthday.”

At this time I should confess that I have a winter birthday. In fact, it’s less than two weeks after my son’s, so I searched my memories and pulled up one issue that bugged me for a couple of birthdays: No water slide parties in the winter. There were a couple of years that I can remember lamenting that I “would never have a birthday party at Splashdown” in Milpitas. Having a winter birthday makes anything pool, water park or sprinkler related a very bad idea.

In spite of the potential downside of having a birthday at year end with all of your friends, family and venues being booked up for holiday events, the cold weather, the double-duty gifts, I seriously doubt we’d ever change the time of year we celebrate his birthday. It’s the day he was born and that’s what we celebrate. It could be harder; we could do it like the Cannons and celebrate the birthday WEEK. Then we’d REALLY overlap on holidays.

Even so, I’m curious… what would you do?

Mike Inouye
Winter-born NBC11 Traffic Anchor

Family Home For The Holidays

December 19, 2007

Craig Herrera

Don’t you love to have family over to your home for the holidays? For long periods of time? My mom and aunt are visiting from New Mexico and they have been with me for three weeks! Yes, three weeks and it will be four weeks total when they head back to the “Land of Enchantment” at the end of December. It’s funny to see the reaction I get from people when I mention my family is staying with me for four weeks. They tend to ask, “aren’t you sick of each other yet?” I can honestly say no. I am very close to my mom, aunts, uncles and cousins. I don’t know what the secret is, we just get along so well. We love to cook together, shop, go to holiday parties, holiday parades, explore local farmer’s markets and just put on some comfy clothes and sit at home with a good movie to watch. A nice cup of soup and hot cocoa to top that off, what could be better? I suppose a trip to the Bahamas would be nice, but I have to say, for me, nothing beats time with my family.

It may sound silly, but I’m at a point in my life where the gifts and presents don’t seem as important. My focus has shifted toward what’s really important… family and friends. Life is too short and I absorb every minute I have with the people that mean so much to me. It’s been a rough year for our family, we lost a very special uncle to cancer, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and as we close out 2007, we celebrate the good and accept the tough times and move on toward 2008 with open hearts. This holiday season my wish to you is this…I hope you have time to spend with loves ones, if it’s just a phone call to a loved one far away, or someone next door! Enjoy the holiday and make the most of each day in 2008! 🙂

Craig Herrera
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Reflections on Christmas Past

December 17, 2007

Brent Cannon

With Christmas coming soon I was thinking back on some of my more memorable Christmas gifts.

One of my earliest Christmas memories is of my first football uniform. I think I was too little to even know what a football uniform was, but I got one. I remember it was a Minnesota Viking’s jersey, pants and helmet. I didn’t even know who they were – but I remember it was in the days their defense was famous. I think they were called the “purple people eaters.”

Another year my Great Aunt sent me two hermit crabs. They were delivered to our house in Denver. The only problem is that the mailman came while we were in school and my parents were working, and there was a big blizzard. We got home and found the box in a snowdrift. The crabs were frozen. My Aunt had them send another set of crabs and I kept them in a little terrarium.

Then there was my green bike. I loved that bike. It was a metallic green three speed, Schwinn Spyder. Keep in mind, this was back in the day when bikes only had one speed, so to have a three speed was a big deal. Plus – it had a banana seat and sissy bar! Oh ya – and a racing slick back tire!

Another time I got a tape recorder, complete with a mic. This was way before the days of iPods – before the days of CD players – before the days of 8 track players – but just after the days of reel to reel players. I used to record my favorite songs off a transistor radio onto that player. Many people in my family think it was significant because I had a mic as a kid and grew up to be a reporter with a mic.

I also remember popcorn balls. Each year we would go to my grandparent’s house for Christmas Eve dinner and open some “preliminary” presents that night. An old family friend named Fanita always came – and each year made all the kids a bag of popcorn balls. It might seem kind of silly, but it made a memory. I remember those popcorn balls. There was lime, cherry and orange. I could go for a homemade popcorn ball right now. Hmmm.

Anyway, just a few of my many childhood memories of Christmas. Oh by the way, there are pictures of most of this stuff – but lucky for me they are hidden in the basement of my mom’s house in Denver – and hopefully will never hit the pages of NBC11.com!

Here’s hoping you make some great new Christmas memories of your own this year.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Want Danger?

December 14, 2007

Scott McGrew

Want Danger? Don’t Buy The Dangerous Book for Boys.

If you’re looking for a good gift for a “tweener” boy this Christmas, let me recommend one of my favorites. A book full of instructions from how to build a spear (and poke your eye out) to how to coat a kite with broken glass (and poke your eye out).

The book is not the best seller The Dangerous Book for Boys which is not dangerous at all. It’s The American Boy’s Handy Book which is available on Amazon.com. While the The Dangerous Book for Boys focuses on things like recognizing sailing flags (ooh, dangerous!) the Handy Book will teach you how to light paper bags on fire in such a way that they rise up a thousand feet into the air.

In an age when the government says water is too dangerous to carry on an airplane, it’s a refreshing reminder that Americans used to be pretty daring folk.

The book was originally written in the late 1800’s by the man who would eventually go on to help found the Boy Scouts, and is completely unchanged from its original form. This means you will have trouble following some of the instructions like “go down to the local pharmacist and ask for a small vial of acid – he will gladly help a curious boy!” but it also means it’s not hindered by legal considerations about advising boys how to use acid. Yay acid!

Many of the instructions are easy to follow, like building one of those traps that spring up into the air to catch rabbits. Haven’t you always wondered how those work? Me too. The historic flavor to the writing just makes it that much more beautiful to read. On building a kite: “It is a pleasant sensation to sit in the first spring sunshine and feel the steady pull of a good kite upon the string…”.

The forward to the book (written in modern day) reminds us there was a time in which young boys were little more than savages – think Huck Finn. Boys were expected to fend for themselves, and were largely left to their own devices until they became teenagers. Thus the book instructs boys – never girls, of course – how to fish, how to clean that fish, how to build an oven by setting fire to a barrel (yay fire!) and then how to cut down trees to build a fort for the night. Or a fortnight.

It’s one of those books that you’re surprised isn’t banned. Maybe you could even get thrown out of school for reading it – it has detailed instructions on how to make a blowgun, for instance. The TSA probably won’t let you take it on the plane, ’cause you might poke someone’s eye out.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Friday Light/Friday Late

December 11, 2007

Mike Inouye

You’ve probably heard us all chat about “Friday Light” but I’ve recently realized this is a bit of a misnomer.

We often call the commute “Friday Light” because there seems to be a lower volume of cars on the road at the end of the week. Presumably, many people are either skipping work or “working from home” as they get an early start on the weekend.

In truth, though, if you leave the house during the normal peak commute and head to typical peak commute spots you’ll hit pretty typical commute traffic. In spots like the Bay Bridge toll plaza, Southbound Highway 101 thru San Rafael, Interstate 680 thru Walnut Creek… you’ll see a heavy volume of traffic. The “light” part is only true for surrounding areas.

The effect on the commute? We have a “LATE” arrival of the normal backup at those spots. The backup lets up a little earlier as well, but for the morning shows I like to call it “Friday Late” so our viewers realize they can beat the backup if they leave a couple minutes earlier.

Oh, and you may be wondering what the heaviest traffic day is…

Tuesdays seem to be the worst for the Bay Area with the heaviest volume and the higher number of accidents, incidents and delays as a result.

If you drove today, you probably noticed that. I sure did.

Be safe!

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Anchor

Let’s Make A Deal?

December 7, 2007

Laura Garcia Cannon

I just discovered why I keep everything but the kitchen sink in my purse. Blame it on Monty Hall! Remember him? Talk show host of Let’s Make A Deal. Well, a good friend of mine who is a little bed ridden right now said she’s been getting caught up on game shows. It made us think of some of the good ones from the past. Remember Match Game? I could even tell you where Brett Somers used to sit! Or what about Dick Clark and his $10,000 Pyramid? Geez, remember when $10,000 was actually a lot of money to win on a game show? Now, if they don’t give you at least a million dollars for singing a few lyrics of a song people turn the other way!

I remember watching all these game shows of the 70’s with my sister. We always loved the ending of Let’s Make A Deal where host Monty Hall would go through the audience asking for bizarre items in people’s purses and wallets. A dollar bill with a certain digit in the serial number. A driver’s license with three 4’s in it. But I also remember him asking for things like a nail file, chocolate bar and a hard boiled egg. I remember encouraging my mother to put an egg in her purse in case we ever ran into Monty Hall one day. She could win some money! She never took my advice. I guess the chances of Monty Hall just ‘appearing’ in the small town of Porterville where I grew up were probably next to none, but I thought she should be prepared for any occasion.

So, that’s when it just occurred to me… that’s what I must be doing in my everyday life now as an adult. Just being prepared for every situation! My brother picked up my purse to hand it to me the other day and said, “Whoa, what do you have in here? Rocks? Preparing for Let’s Make A Deal?” See, he remembers it too!! So, the next time you see me schlepping my handbag around that is unusually large for such a small woman you’ll know why. I’m just prepared, and go ahead and ask if I have that egg in there. I just might!

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor