Archive for April, 2008

NBC11 Producer Goes Green, Gives Up Car For A Week

April 21, 2008

Michelle ToyDay One

The Bay Area has a pretty strong love affair with cars. We spend hours commuting in them, driving back and forth from work, carpools, errands and drive-thrus. We eat, sleep, sing, laugh and cry in our cars. Some of us baby our vehicles, giving them silly names, washing them weekly and taking care not park them next to shopping carts. Others trash them, tossing the remnants of yesterday’s breakfast burrito in the backseat along with last week’s dirty laundry. Hybrid or Hummer, Mini-Cooper or Mini-Van, we have come to rely heavily on our vehicles.

I was pretty upset when I woke up one morning to find that my beloved car had been sideswiped. Of course the culprit didn’t leave a note. A few days later, I found out my car would need almost $4000 worth of repairs and it would be in the shop for at least a week. My insurance doesn’t cover the cost of a rental car, which is the real reason behind this week’s experiment living without a car.

Our cars are likely the biggest polluters we own. I am taking advantage of this predicament to see just how much I can give up for the sake of going green. Going green is a lifestyle change, so we’ll see if it cramps or enhances mine. I’ll also calculate the costs, the time, and the carbon emissions I’ll save this week. According to, my small BMW uses 625 gallons of gas and produces 12,125 pounds of CO2 a year.

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I realize that a lot of people don’t have cars. A car is a luxury. The Bay Area has a public transportation system that should support my lifestyle. I live in downtown San Jose. I work out of two NBC11 offices, one in San Jose and the other in San Francisco. This week should be a breeze and today was no exception.

I dropped my car off at the auto-body shop down the street from my office. Before leaving it, I opened the trunk to gather some of the stuff I store in there; workout clothes, yoga mat, laptop, extra jacket, all things I can now store under my desk. I wouldn’t need the yoga gear anyway, since my yoga studio in Los Gatos is too far without a car. I hitched a ride home from one of our photographers and since I didn’t feel like walking to the grocery store, I took the opportunity to clear out some of the frozen dinners in the back of my freezer.

Day one was a piece of cake:

Carpool – 4 miles
Miles saved by not going to yoga – 23
Calories NOT burned by missing workout – 600
Calories in a frozen burrito – 700 (yikes!)

Stop by the Breakfast Blog each day this week for an update on how I’m doing… and then tune into NBC11 Friday for a special report on my entire experience.

Michelle Toy
NBC11 Special Projects Producer


Making a Difference

April 17, 2008

Laura Garcia CannonOne of my favorite things to do as a journalist, is to tell a story that makes a difference. A difference in someone’s life. All stories should inform: telling you where that fire was, when it happened, who was involved, how it was caused etc… But, you’ll also find stories that go beyond that; take you into a place you might normally never see. I got that chance when following a young boy to school in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Living in a 10 x 10 square foot room with seven other family members, they had love, but not a lot more. But a private school called De Marillac Academy was giving this child a chance to break the cycle of poverty that plagued his family for generations. He walked by drug dealers and crack addicts on his way to class every day, but once he was through those gates of De Marillac his world changed. It was giving him a second chance.

After we aired this story, anonymous viewers called to donate, for other children to receive this remarkable gift of a private education. Strangers helping strangers. It was great. Now the school is holding its first organized major fundraiser. I’m honored to emcee the event at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis tonight. If you’re interested, check out this link: See what you can do to make a difference in someone’s life today. It’s a great feeling.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Cause(s) for Celebration

April 16, 2008

Mike InouyeThe cherry blossom or sakura is an oft seen image in the Japanese culture. As a Japanese American I have long associated it with cause for celebration. Perhaps it’s because I have long heard it is one of the first blossoms to appear on trees in Japan, signaling the end to a bleak winter (though “bleak” has never been a winter growing up here in the South Bay.) Perhaps it is because some Buddhists say it exemplifies the “transitive nature of life” in that the trees quickly go from bare, to bud, to blossom and back to bare in the span of a scant few weeks. Whatever the case, the words “cherry blossom” have almost always been followed with “festival” throughout my life.

This weekend is the second of the two-weekend event, the “Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival” in San Francisco. It’s the 41st annual event and for the third year in a row, I’ve been given the honor of being emcee at the event’s annual “Senior Appreciation Brunch.” This Sunday morning event will recognize Japanese American “Seniors” who have given the greater part of their lives to service within the community. They are nominated by their peers and those who have benefitted from their work over the years.

Quite a cause for celebration.

The brunch is then followed by a huge parade that starts by San Francisco City Hall and proceeds up and down hills thru the city, ending back in SF Japantown. I’ll be on the NBC11 float with Olympic hopeful Lauren Fleshman. There will be dozens of other floats, dignitaries, officials, live Taiko drumming, other music and dancing, and colorful multicultural groups from basically all walks of life participating as well.

People getting together like this is also surely cause for celebration.

As is tradition, to close this parade, an amazing Taru Mikoshi (a shrine made of sake barrels) is hand carried thru the streets for the entire route. An incredible site and feat, especially considering the hills in SF. Many of the handlers will be dressed in traditional garb which could best be described as a diaper or loincloth (see the pic). These guys are FIT. I am not. I will NOT be wearing that sort of outfit.

Cause for us ALL to celebrate.

Hope to see you out there in SF Japantown for the 41st Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Parade this Sunday.

Get there early, parking is at a premium!

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Blossom

Herrera’s Hooligans

April 15, 2008

Craig HerreraSaturday morning was so much fun, a 42-mile ride from Almaden, to Los Gatos, through Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Cupertino and parts of San Jose with Herrera’s Hooligans and a few new friends. We will all ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the AIDS/LifeCycle from June 1st through June 7th, 2008. The time to ride out over Skyline Boulevard and south is quickly approaching. Saturday, we rode some steep grades, saw beautiful places in the South Bay and stopped for coffee a few times along the way. We made new friends at some of our stops and it all reminded me of the spirit of the ride. We all took care of each other and made sure we each made it up over the hills. We made new friends and we were physically challenged on the ride. At one point, we were near the San Andreas fault and surrounded by such beauty all at the same time. I am so happy to report that each of our team members is doing very well in training and after Saturday’s ride, I think we are almost ready physically. I know emotionally that will be another chapter or another blog that I will write while I am on the ride. I will also send pictures back so you can track our progress and the stories we will share along the journey. We are all very excited and eager to begin this ride. A ride to help those living with HIV and AIDS. I was on the ride last year, and it was such an incredible experience I knew I had to do it again. I’ve stated this before, but I wish we did not have this ride and AIDS was no more, but until there is a cure, there will be a ride. So, on we go with our training and our journey. I’ll keep you posted and if you would like to see our team home page, click on the link below. Thanks and happy trails to you!

Craig Herrera
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Stuff That Bothers Me

April 11, 2008

Scott McGrewWe’ve made some improvements to the “comments” section of this blog, so it’s now a lot easier to weigh in with your own thoughts. I invite you to do so because I have a couple of things that have bothered me, and I’ve checked with the smartest person I know – Mike Inouye – and he doesn’t know the answer, so I’m depending on you, reader, to help me out.

As we get closer to the summer games in China, I’m reminded of something that bothers me every time I watch the opening ceremonies: Teams that use English names on their uniforms. When Chinese athletes entered the opening ceremonies at the last winter Olympics, their jackets said “China”? Not Chinese characters (’cause they’re from China), not French (the language of the Olympics) as Chine, or in Italian (host of that year’s Olympics) as Cine, but China? Doesn’t that seem sort of random? Like American athletes in China wearing jackets that read “United States” in German?

Okay, second thing:

Why does Starbucks use gallon jugs of milk? The average Starbucks location must go through a hundred gallons of milk in a day. And each gallon comes from one plastic jug – I’ve seen them toss the empties away. I’m sure they recycle, but why not use the same sort of dispenser restaurants use? I’ve worked in a restaurant and I know milk gets delivered in enormous plastic bags. It’s perfectly normal and safe. And much more environmentally friendly.

If you multiply one Starbucks location and its 100 jugs of milk per day (I’m estimating, I’m probably off by a factor of 10) times the number of Starbucks locations, then you have to figure Starbucks is one of the largest users of plastic in the United States, wouldn’t you? Someone who works at Starbucks want to help me understand this?

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

The Dog-Gone Fur Ball!

April 10, 2008

Craig HerreraDATE: Saturday evening, April 4th.

PLACE: Great America Centennial Parking Lot, an extra-large tent.

MISSION: Dress up your furry little pet, mostly dogs, and head to the Fur Ball 2008 to benefit the Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV).

Oh what a fun night! When else can you dress up your pet, oh, and yourself, and all go out for a fun night together. A night when the event is about the pets, the treats, the love and a time to help those who help our furry little friends that end up in shelters.

This was my third year involved with this exciting event, as Grand Marshall and this year sideshow to the King and Queen of the Fur Ball, Steve Wosniak and Kathy Griffin. Steve and Kathy were so much fun, but it was the little pets, dressed in their gala-best that made so many people say, “Ahhh, how cute!” My hats off to the 450+ people who attended and helped raise over $200,000.00 for HSSV! That money will all help so many animals who somehow land up at the shelter. Sasha, my Lhasa Apso was also there and danced, played and made new friends. Sasha is a rescue dog and I could not image life with out her. We also have a Rhodesian Ridgeback, also a rescue dog, but she did not go to the ball. No this is not a Cinderella story, Tess did not go to the Fur Ball because she is now over 12-years old and likes to stay home and sleep. So Sasha and Lollie became friends. Lollie belongs to my friend from work, Kathy and her husband Michael. We all had so much fun, and by the end of the night we were all tired. I think this photo of Lollie sums it up!

Craig Herrera
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Let the Child Run?

April 9, 2008

Scott McGrewThe parents of a 14-year-old San Francisco girl decided to pull her out of the Olympic Torch run over concerns for her safety. As you have no doubt seen on TV, protesters have attacked the torch runners in London and Paris.

Is that the right decision? As the parent of a 13-year-old, I know that struggle between what is most safe and what would be best for the child. Do you let your child walk from school to the teen hangout, knowing that hangout is across the world’s busiest street? Do you let the kid play paintball, or do you say “no, that looks too dangerous”?

For me, it’s a balance between the risk and the payoff. I would not, for instance, have a pool installed at my house. While my children would love it, I’m sure, I have as a reporter been to at least a dozen mishaps – or worse – at home pools. The pleasure a pool brings does not outweigh the risk. My kids can buy motorcycles when they have their own families.

However, I think the payoff of a child being able to say “I was an Olympic Torch runner” would outweigh the injury or trauma like this woman suffered if someone chooses to disrupt the San Francisco running. I’d let my kid run. Of course, I fully understand the concerns and support the decision of the parents who chose the opposite.

What do you think? What decision would you make?

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Giants’ Home Opener

April 7, 2008

Brent CannonI am excited for work Monday morning. Yes – that’s right -excited for work on a Monday morning. That’s because Monday is the Giants’ home opener and we will do a live broadcast from AT&T Park. Baseball. AT&T Park. A live show. What could be better? Not since my sportscasting days have I been able to do a show like this.

Besides the news of the day, we’ll take a behind the scenes tour of the club house – we’ll talk with people from the Giants. We hope to have a player live on the field from batting practice to talk about the new season and the new era without Barry Bonds. Somebody from the front office will join us as well to talk about the team, and what it takes to get things ready for the fans on the home opener.

NBC11 sportscaster Daryl Hawks will join me as well, and we have a special story about low income Bay Area students who get jobs working the concession stands. Not only do they get a cool job at the ballpark, but the program also helps them prepare for college.

We’ll talk about the food! From garlic fries to beer – Gordon Biersch’s co-founder Dan Gordon will be there to preview the taste of this year’s all American pastime.

So, get excited about Monday and join Laura and me on the Bay Area Today at 11AM on NBC11. And don’t forget you can now watch many of the Gaints’ games this year on NBC11… In fact, we’ll be broadcasting Tuesday night’s game against the Padres. Opening pitch is at 7:15PM.

See ya Monday morning.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Through A Child’s Eyes

April 7, 2008

Craig HerreraI was in Denver recently, for Easter, to visit with some of my family and goddaughter, Elli. She is now 20-months old and so beautiful. I know it’s been a few weeks since Easter, but I wanted to share my wonderful experience with you. I don’t have children of my own, and it was amazing to spend time with her and to see the world as a child again. I love to see the sparkle in her eye when she discovers something new. For instance, dying eggs, having an Easter egg hunt or going to the Children’s Museum.

She had so much fun coloring those eggs! At first, she held the eggs carefully, was slow to drop them in the cups of yellow, red, blue and some other colors of dye. Moments later, she was amazed to see the white egg was a new color. Wow, her eyes opened so big, she quickly grabbed another white egg to drop it into another cup of dye to give it a new color. Ah yes, the days of PAAS. It brought back so many memories for me and coloring eggs with my mom. What a wonderful time and to see it all over again through the eyes of little Elli was simply beautiful. Well, it all got a little messy and soon she was having so much fun her little hand was like a tie-dye shirt. It was so cute!

And later in the day we played at the Children’s Museum in Denver. Here too, it was just amazing to see her eyes open up at each exhibit, Her mind must have been filled with so many new ideas! We played for hours and by the end of the day I know I was ready for a nap.

Easter Sunday was so much fun as she looked for those eggs. My cousin and I always looked for eggs together while growing up in Northern New Mexico. Now we are watching her daughter, Elli, search for the eggs and Elli has the eye to spot those hidden eggs! She ran all over the yard looking for those colorful eggs. She was quick to place each egg in her basket and then run off to find another. Again, it was that look, that sparkle in her eye from the new explorations that just made me step back, watch her and smile because it was just such a wonderful experience to see old things new again, in her eyes! I love you Elli!

Craig Herrera
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Play Ball!

April 4, 2008

Brent CannonAh, another baseball season is here. The Oakland A’s are celebrating 40 years in the Bay Area with a season full of planned events. The team’s home opener celebrations the other day brought back a lot of memories – and reminded me how a kid from Denver first became an Athletics fan.

The A’s came to Oakland in 1968 – but when I was a kid growing up in Denver, I remember talk of the team moving to the mile high city. Everybody was excited – sparking even more interest in a team half way across the country. At the time, Colorado did not have a major league team.Add to that the fact a distant relative once worked for the A’s ticket office, and sent me a pennant from 1972 World Championship team – and I was hooked. I still remember the names on it: Vida Blue – Rollie Fingers – Reggie Jackson – Jim “Catfish” Hunter. I still have the pennant too.

A few years ago, I was honored to meet Vida Blue at an East Bay fundraiser.These days I get excited about the $35 cheap seats they opened in the upper deck featuring all-you-can-eat refreshments! I wonder if there is a kid in Fremont becoming a fan on the news the A’s might move to his town. Play Ball!

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

P.S. – The Giants have their home opener Monday… make sure to join us at 11AM. I’ll be out at AT&T Park with a special broadcast covering all the excitement for fans this year… we’ll give you a behind the scenes look at what’s new this year at 11AM, Monday.