Saturday, November 22, 2014

One month Later

Incredibly, amazingly, even miraculously, I have survived an entire month in Houston Texas. Not that I have been able to explore much outside of Spring which is about 30 minutes from the office (with no traffic) yet. I put so much effort into getting here that at first I thought the cultural and personal transition would be too much to bear, especially leaving behind my comfortable life in California in order to (hopefully) advance my career further. I hope to make more of these posts more frequently. Monday I am having my 30 day review at the newspaper. Wish me luck!

One thing which has been a big help has been focusing on the many assignments I am juggling for the paper. The latest one has been the most interesting: A community forum at Spring Independent School district (ISD) designed to give staffers an opportunity to share their feedback and address grievances in front of district administrators. I am hoping I will get a good web story out of it for next week.

I am also working on a story about a study put together by the Houston Galveston area council regarding redevelopment in the North West Houston area: Specifically a region called Cypress Creek Parkway which has been lagging behind other areas due to numerous factors including a rapid shift in demographics and older infrastructure.

One big adjustment, besides the weather, (it hardly rains now in So. Cal due to the ongoing drought, whereas it has been rainy and wet here for several days)  has been not having enough time to enjoy some of my hobbies like reading comics, writing about superhero culture and happenings and table top gaming and playing mmorpgs, which I hope to change by devoting more time to on weekends, days off and evenings. There will be four days to catch up on it all this coming holiday weekend.

I also plan to find a paper to freelance that covers sports on weekends because I really miss doing that. Last Saturday I attended a playoff game at Spring High School just to be in the midst of prep football once again, though being a spectator is not as much fun as actually covering the event IMHO.

Another change has been that it is hard to make new friends because of my schedule. Back home, a lot of the people I grew up with are still in town or came back to town, including my brother and I missed hitting up my old haunts like the bookstore in Glendora and Frank and Son's Collectibles in Industry. Yet, I think these are adjustments everyone faces in life at one time or another and counting my 2 year stay in Fullerton for graduate school, this is the second time in recent years that I am faced with making these life altering changes. Here we are a mere 6 days away from thanksgiving and less than a week from Black Friday craziness, but I have no plans for the holiday other than watching some football in the AM and maybe joining a gaming group to do some gaming into the evening with, hopefully, a lot of turkey eating in between.

I got my EZ tag in the mail this week, this is a device which allows me to go through the highway tolls and it electronically deducts money from an account, this has saved me quite a bit of time and it is nice not having to worry about looking for money or change for my commute on a daily basis.
CI is having their annual Christmas celebration in Austin near their headquarters in a couple of weeks and I am looking forward to the trip. Also, the most joyous news of all is the fact that I get to go home for Xmas for nearly a week on Dec. 23. It will be nice to be in the Covina area for a few days and be briefly reunited with my old haunts.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Community Impact job in Houston TX

It's funny that a week ago I was driving through Texas and stayed at a hotel in a little town called Sonora on my way to my new job in Houston.
Last night I found myself near downtown Houston a the grand opening of a bar that was offering free food for Halloween revelers.

I got offered a job as a reporter in the Spring-Klein market, so I packed up my Kia with as much of my belongings and trekked my way through two states.

The Friday before Halloween I found myself having dinner alone after a long day of driving at a place called Ozona, 36 miles or so away from my destination, the hotel room I reserved that night in Sonora. Though the wi-fi was spotty, the room was comfortable and I had a good time speaking to my sister, whom I stayed with two nights prior in Arizona.

It wasn't easy to say goodbye to family and friends and my routine, but I relished a fresh start and full time work so the decision really was made for me. I drove for four straight days with stops in Arizona and El Paso along the way before finally reaching Houston a week ago.

Right up till my move I had been practicing journalism and writing as much as I could, doing some freelancing for the SGVExaminer and tweeting out scores of prep football games for the SGVTribune. In fact, I was freelancing for three newspapers including the Weekly News in Chino and anapr.com.

Thought I was comfortable with my freelancing, I wanted to work full time and doing it out of state was my only options. Journalists are often told to start in small markets before pursuing bigger more saturated media jobs, but with all my experience, I am not exactly new to the industry.

My experience in the new job, though I have had some rough patches, is plugging along and I even participated in our office Halloween party this past weekend.

 It is great to be able to practice journalism full time with a good market to cover including coverage of school districts and local government.

I have not completely got used to some things in Houston, the highways and toll roads, and the differences in weather patterns, but I think getting acclimated in a new region always takes time and patience and hard work.

I never knew how much I would miss my old life, my routine trips to Barnes and Noble on weekends, jaunts to North Orange county near my alma matter, high shool football games and Mt SAC and Citrus College games, and even my old desktop computer.

Thus far, the fruits of my labor has been covering an event for the Spring ISD (Independent School District) which gave me a chance to get to know the communications people for the district and to write a nice little web story. 

Next week I will be covering local races in Texas for the upcoming election, and who knows what else. Though today I finally got a chance to rest for a bit, and though I am grateful to be working in journalism, I felt homesick for the very first time, missing my hometown and my routines, but I think that the future holds good things for me.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I am a reporter, that is what I do

I have started to write again for the Walnut Weekly News. For some reason, the publisher decided to change the masthead and it is now called "Our Weekly Newspaper" but most people still call it the Weekly News.

I may be a small fish and not working for big media print outlets like the L.A. Times or the OC Register, but I feel that I still make a contribution in my industry and chosen profession.

It's interesting, while reporting at the OC Register this summer I had a backstage view of the goings on in the newsroom and their plans to expand to Long Beach. Shout outs to my many friends fighting the good fight there like Raymond Mendoza, Alma Fausto, Jackie Moe, Evan Lancaster and a few others.

The next few weeks into the holiday are going to be busy with projects to end the year and with my thesis and research for CSUF, but I feel pretty good about the upcoming year, 2014 is looking up. I maintain optimistic about the future. I will be T.A.ing Dr. Gail Love's section of history and philosophy of mass communications, while continuing to freelance for various news outlets like the Walnut Weekly and (hopefully) an online news agency like the Voice of OC.

The Register continues to post from time to time stories that I wrote during my tenure in Santa Ana and Tustin, here is a link to the latest:

Five questions with family caregiver Josefina Ortiz

Well, that is all for now, I will post again sometime, I am on my way to cover a city council meeting

-30-

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Redskins: Will they Change the Name to Appease Political Correctness???

Well hey there, I haven't blogged in such a long time.

The reason being, ever since I finished my summer internship at the OC Register, I have been busy concentrating on grad school. I got A's this summer, but this fall has proven harder with quantitative research and having to research my thesis topic as well.

Also, the tiger and I haven't been doing much journalistic work, but that may soon change as in addition to covering sports for the Tribune, we might get another reporting internship, this time with the Voice of OC. I am having coffee with the editor next week.

So what's been in the news bugging me lately? The Washington Redskins! The Politically correct run amok crowd, or some indian tribe wants the team to change the name because the term is apparently insulting to Native Americans. I guess historically it is, but why has the controversy made headlines of late? I mean the team has had that name for close to 8 or so decades. The owner says he will never change the name because it was chosen to honor the team's first coach, who was part Indian, or so the legend goes.

I don't know how to honestly feel about this one. I know a lot of Native Americans say that they are not bothered by the name, that it just honors their history but others say that they don't know what they are taking about.

All I know is that one of my fondest memories of being a kid is decorating the Christmas Tree one day and putting up decorations with the rest of my family while in the living room of my old house. The Skins and the Cowboys played on the tube and I would sneak peeks to see how the game was progressing, my brother and I both did while the rest of the family cooked, helped with decorations. I can almost vividly replay that over and over in my head, a moment in time I will always treasure, that Sunday seemed to last an eternity. So it seems weird if the Cowboys end up playing the Red Hawks, or some other name they give the team if they decide to change it. What's next? Will they go after the Cleveland Indian's mascot?

President Obama came out to say that he would think about changing the name if he was the team's owner. Doesn't the President have more pressing issues to consider than to meddle into the NFL???

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Michele Martinez speaks about Improving Santa Ana

One of the cool stories I got to do this summer was an interview with Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez. An excerpt of the interview which made it to print follows.



BY ARIEL CARMONA JR. / FOR THE REGISTER
Councilwoman Michele Martinez, 31, says great changes are coming to the city – especially when it comes to health. The city is making major strides, she said, in increasing park space and in its commitment to a resolution passed by the City Council in 2011 that advocates for policies that improve residents' health. Here's what Martinez, who also serves as the director of the Alliance for a Healthy Orange County, had to say.

Q. Does the city receive state or other funding for health-related programs?
A. We really don't have any funding sources for health programs. What we've done is used our public works, planning and parks and recreations departments. They have all collaborated to get grants, whether it be for bike lanes or walk and bike studies. We also partnered with the school district to get Garfield and Willard and Walker community centers. So we have the parks and the community centers that during the day the schools utilize and at night the community then takes over. We got state grants for that.

Q. How is the city addressing walking and biking?
A. We as a council made a commitment to integrating complete streets in the city. We passed a resolution. We are also updating our circulation elements which will include a bike and pedestrian master plan, for the first time ever. It's our commitment to active transportation.

Q. How does the city recognize those that promote healthy lifestyles?
A. We've had a committee in place for the past two years, of nonprofits and businesses, that gives input in how to move the city forward. It was instrumental in creating a smoke-free park zone. (She also points to Active Living in Santa Ana, Safe and Active Living United District, and Building Healthy Communities as key health groups.)

Q. What's being done to increase the number of parks in the city?
A. We knew that we were going to have issues, such as the lack of open space, that created issues with kids being overweight – and another issue is the safety component. There is a gang problem and drug problem in the city because it's an urban city and so that also affects the quality of life of young people and their families. (Some) are scared even with the park access that they do have. So we are having to address these issues all at once. We are addressing them with a holistic approach, with a partnership with the school district (and) the various nonprofits, because at the end of the day, we know that the city government can't do it all, it has to be a collaborative effort, a personal effort from the residents themselves.

Q. Why are plans being put into motion now?
A. As the director of the Alliance, I am going back and asking, 'What is it that this city accomplished? What is that other cities accomplished? If they haven't gotten anywhere, what can my organization do to help them?' We realize that there are issues with funding, we know cities have taken a big hit. So we have these city regulations from several years ago. We're saying let's backtrack because we need to keep out in the forefront. Santa Ana has been a model for the county. Being a council member for the city, I have the opportunity to hold my city accountable and to ensure that we are moving in the right direction and really setting some policies that can be a model that we make a commitment to. The fruits of labor have really come to the forefront for Santa Ana because of the dedicated staff that we have and also my colleagues on the council and their commitment to public health.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

OC Register internship coming to a close

wow it's August! How'd that happen? The Tiger and I spent a lot of time driving to Santa Ana and Tustin this summer. I was in Tustin just 3 days ago working on a story about Yong-In Martian Arts' team USA which competed at the 2013 National Taekwondo Championships.

As my internship at the Register comes to a close next week, I am looking around sending out feelers to other media outlets. Surely there must be one out there that can use an exepienced Spanish speaking reporter? There is an outside shot that I will be a member of the Tustin team in the future, but no guarantees, as such I have started to look for my next journalistic gig.

It was nice to come in today and find two stories ready for me to tackle as I like to stay busy doing good work.

Would not be surprised if a big change is in the works. That's it for now!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Moving on to Tustin

I was dealing with some personal issues this last week, but luckily I seem to have worked through them and now I am focused once again on reporting.

The Tiger and I spent a lot of time last week and driving to and from Long Beach to Fullerton, covering the Tustin Little League All Stars who were participating deep in a tournament. I have been transferred from the Santa Ana Register to the Tustin News team and I am excited to have been given the opportunity to cover this community.

Our other assignments involved driving to Santa Ana to speak to a world war 2 veteran whose distinguished military career included a stint as a helicopter pilot for Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was a P.O.W. when get got shout down in an aerial mission for years, until he was rescued and met General Patton himself!

Needless to say this was one of the highlights of the week, to meet and profile such an interesting person and he is 90 years old and still active in the community!!!

Well, that's it for now. Pleas support your local newspaper and purchase one today or subscribe!