I need to write about something a little lighter after recent events, so I thought I might as well share pictures from a recent run.
My friends Krystal and Hannah + Jim all decided to do the Glow Run over the weekend. Right as we took this (^) picture my glasses popped off my face...so yeah.
The event helped raise money for Breast Cancer Recovery and we got to run around in the dark like goofballs. It was so much fun.
Where do you run? I live on the far east side of Madison and Atwood would probably be the closest trail. I could run by Madison College but I don't like a couple of the wooded areas near there. I'm also thinking about driving to Monona but I don't know where to start. Any suggestions?
Jim and I haven't done a run together since we were in North Carolina. Even though we were a little tired Saturday night, it was a really fun date.
The heartbreaking news that two journalists were murdered on air will be with us for a while. Alison Parker and Adam Ward were gunned down and a former TV reporter taped it, shared it and then shot himself. I watched in horror as I caught two of the Twitter videos from the shooter's point of view, as it autoplayed in my feed. As a former news director used to say, "You can't unring the bell." It can't be unseen.
I've been watching the Kansas City news tonight (on vacation at my parent's house) and I have seen stories about journalists being killed on the job or stations "ramping" up safety. And though I have certainly felt fear at some of the stories I've covered, I've actually felt uncomfortable in my own workplace, too. I hope this tragedy opens up discussions concerning safety, mental health, and PTSD for journalists (it's a real thing.)
For example, as soon as the news started breaking about the shooting, a former colleague of mine messaged, "I AM FREAKING OUT!!!!! We had a reporter who was fired we joked/worried about coming back to the station and shooting people. We even had discussions about who he'd kill first."
The truth is, I've had those conversations about co-workers before and have at times seriously wondered, "Am I safe?"
I worked with a man who was a little 'off' and eventually got fired for some very off-color comments he taped himself saying at work. However, it took months to get to the point of termination - he had already screamed at one of our reporters and threw heavy television cables at her. He had made countless errors. He got demoted at least once before finally getting let go... and we all anxiously joked, "he's going to come back and get us."
I worked with another man who would have physical reactions when you told him we had to cover something he didn't want to cover. He'd drive erratically, punching the side of the car and squeezing the steering wheel so hard it would make the car shake. We often drove 1.5 or 2 hours for stories back when buying satellite time was not a big expense -- so those drives were unbearable. Plus, he wouldn't let you drive.
I worked with another man who had a drug problem. Because he was in management, it took him about a year to get fired because they let him fail until rehab was the only choice left. He would be high at work while driving around in news vehicles. A reporter had to meet him in the live van for a liveshot and found him completely passed out. He would go home for something in the middle of the day and just not come back. You wouldn't know if he was tired from a bender or just high on pills.
The first time I ever tried to complain about a co-worker, it backfired terribly. Another man downed two 5-hour energy drinks in about 30 seconds. I offered to drive but he refused. He scared me so much that I went to my manager afterwards and told him I was genuinely concerned about my safety and the safety of others. He got reprimanded, eventually hospitalized for other issues, but returned to work and continued to call me a "bitch" nearly everyday because I "ratted" on him. I was so sad because I really liked him but because I was getting ready to get married, I was truly scared and said to myself, 'it's not worth dying for.'
There are probably a dozen more stories, but the truth is, I've felt unsafe at work with some of my co-workers and sometimes more than I have out in the field. I love working in news but every newsroom has at least one bitter, potentially unstable hot-head who's "difficult to work with" -- every. single. newsroom.
Do newsrooms tolerate people who might otherwise be considered unemployable because reporters are supposed to be a little gritty and cynical? Is it because we have been told showing emotion is not objective? We joke to ourselves that you must be a little warped to be working in news, afterall.
I find it odd that when we cover horrific stories, no one asks, "Hey, do you need a break?" We report that police and emergency responders will have counselors on hand but when do reporters get that? I covered a terrible story of a little girl who had been beaten, raped and killed by her stepfather - we interviewed him for days before he became a suspect. We knocked on doors, worked grueling hours, talked to countless people and were shocked as the truth came to light. Two years after the incident, one of my former colleagues started crying on air covering the murder trial. She didn't mean to and even seemed surprised and embarrassed that it was happening. Did she get help? I am not sure because I was no longer working there.
Journalists are told to be tough and we often don't get the same support nearly every single other profession gives its employees.
We don't get taken seriously when we say, "oh that person is so hard to work with" or "I'm uncomfortable being alone with that person" or when we ask, "do you think our front lobby is safe?" Countless times we've heard of people breaking into news stations -- trust me, it's not that hard. A gunman walked into WSOC, WIBW staffers were stabbed in their own building, reporters in San Francisco were attacked and pistol whipped... and the list goes on. I worked at a station where we all asked for a gate or a security guard after our cars got broken into--it wasn't even considered.
Other friends in newsrooms across the country privately messaged me today about how bad security was in their building or recalled horrible co-worker experiences. It made me wonder... can newsroom managers and stations do more across the board?
My first friend's message continued, "These newsrooms need to understand they're asking a shit ton from people and paying crap. It puts them in a place where they have nothing to lose: no money, no job, no family, no prospects of moving on. Then you add a crazy person to this mixture, it becomes volatile. I'm not saying this guy had any right to do what he did. He's a sicko who could very well rot in Hell. But stations need to wake up, too."
I have friends who work at WDBJ and I have friends from Schurz Communications who are enroute to help out that newsroom for the coming days. I know they'll be covering their own grief as they push through the developments that come out of this heartbreaking situation. I hope they can get a break but I also hope more for them. I hope more newsrooms will make some changes because this kind of unmentionable culture has already helped push good journalists out of the industry.
I love where I work and I always want to be working in the news industry in some form or fashion. But I wish we could see noticeable upgrades in security, safety and overall health and wellness within the industry. A journalist's job is tough on its own but I've rarely doubted whether it's worth it. Today, there is doubt.
A star is born in Estrellon, Tory Miller's highly-anticipated fourth Madison restaurant. Meaning "star" in Spanish, the tapas-inspired menu pulls from the James Beard Award-winning chef's love for Spain.
This week Miller and crew kept busy as they launched a soft opening for friends and family. However, now the public can dine in the 6,000 square foot space in the brand-new Ovation building near Johnson and State Street.
In the constellation of Tory Miller's eateries, Estrellon feels more sophisticated than Graze but less formal than L'Etoile. It seems like Sujeo's big sister - both located within luxury apartments near downtown and both inspired by food from other countries, then re-worked to Miller's liking.
Miller brings Spain to Madison while keeping an assemblage of Wisconsin food favorites. Try the squash blossoms made with cheese curds.
Miller does paella his way, without a Spanish mother sauce but with plenty of Spanish flare. The pans serve two people and range from vegetarian to rabbit to Iberian chorizo.
Tory tip: Eat a section of the legs first, then peel the shrimp from the body. (Yes, eat the legs.) Then, suck out the head. It's the best part, he says.
Some items were so fresh out of Miller's mind that they hadn't actually been placed on the menu Thursday. We all thoroughly enjoyed something with "dragon tongue" made with green beans -- it is an absolute must try.
Bottom line: Estrellon shines bright. Come hungry and bring friends.
Many of you heard the story of a construction worker fallng 60 feet to his death while working at a job in downtown Madison Monday.
Read the story
What we later found out was that the man was 25 years old and going to get married Saturday. I can't even imagine.
The young man's name is Chris Lord. We opted not to air his name until the medical examiner's report came out but I personally talked with a mutual friend and the Lodi fire chief...who both confirmed it was indeed Chris.
Sometimes we have to make hard phone calls and it was very difficult for me to even call the fire chief. However, Bobby Annen was extremely kind and wanted to share a few words about his friend and colleague.
He said Chris was a volunteer firefighter--not once, but twice. He worked for a few months at the Lodi fire department in 2012 and started back again in 2014. He was taking classes to further his education and Annen said he knew Chris aspired to one day be an officer with the department.
Monday night Chief Annen met with the other volunteer firefighters and even broke the news to some. He said they talked about Chris, all the good things he's done and how sorely he'll be missed. They also started talking about a possible scholarship fund.
"He was great," said Annen. "He always had a smile on his face; he always made people laugh."
Annen said Chris always had positive things to say and was a hard worker. "He always saw the best in everybody," Annen continued. "He never complained and never did anything negative."
We know Chris was set to get married this Saturday. His fiance posted a picture of the two together and a growing line of people are leaving their condolences on her page. A quick google search will tell you where the two were planning on getting married and where they were registered. The fire chief also had complimentary things to say about Chris' fiance, adding that she was very pleasant and in many ways, just like Chris.
My heart has broken several times just thinking about this young couple. Instead of planning for a wedding, his family is now preparing for a funeral. The dress is bought, the venue is paid, the out of town guests are booked into hotels. The most joyous occasion is now overshadowed by tremendous sorrow.
I don't know what good can come out of our coverage but I hope we learn and share the life of Chris Lord and his impact on the community. I hope we can lift his fiance and family in prayer and support during this dark time. If you have the fortune of loving someone, make sure you tell them. If you have room in your heart to think of this grieving family, please consider.
If you ever want people to get excited about a Facebook post, try posting about bacon. Apparently a lot of you bake your bacon in the oven! I thought it was kind of silly until I realized all the other things I could do while the bacon was cooking. And not getting popped by bacon grease was also a bonus.
I don't have a lot of grease because I use center cut bacon.
400 degrees, 15 minutes. No turning. Use parchment paper. You get bacon for dayz.
Please join me in congratulating Tom Bier on his retirement. He served Madison and the news industry for more than 40 years.
Tom has had such a tremendous career. He served as an industry leader as the chair of RTDNA (for anyone not in news, it's the same group that honors journalists with the prestigious Edward R. Murrow awards.)
He's done much more than that during his tenure at WISC and Morgan Murphy Media. He's led the newsroom and the station in several innovative endeavors and helped the station achieve countless accolades. He is one of the reasons WISC is known around the country for being a legacy station in a vibrant city.
Tom is incredibly ethical and very generous. He's the kind of guy who expects you to look him in the eye and give him a firm handshake. He wants to be in the room when you sign your contract. He wants to know you're committed to upholding the standards of the station and he wants to ensure you're in it for the community.
I'll miss Tom. I'm so humbled and honored to work at WISC. It is truly a blessing to be a part of this newsroom and follow the path paved by so many great journalists and thought leaders.
Ever thought of growing a garden from straw bales? Here's ours from News 3!
Sometimes I take for granted the fun things we do at work. Susan is here with our resident gardener Linda Barcz of The Bruce Company walking through our straw bale garden and reaping some of the veggies.
What is straw bale gardening? It's simply just a different kind of container gardening.
Read up on strawbalegardens.com
The container is just the straw bale itself and held together with a couple of strings. Once the straw starts to decompose, it becomes conditioned and ready to plant. The conditioning is really essential and should be started about two weeks before planting.
We planted eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, kale, beans and much more.
WATCH: Live at 5 checks on the progress of News 3's straw bale garden
READ: Straw bales are 'nature's perfect planting container'
I've been looking for an option like a raised bed, but I didn't want to spend that much money and I also didn't want it to take that much real estate in my yard.
I definitely want to do this next season!
Kids grow like weeds. This is Eric's son Jordan in 2013 and now. Isn't it incredible?! Would you believe that I was once the tallest girl in my class? I've been 4'11" since the 6th grade. I'm about 4'11" and 3/4 of an inch now.
I didn't really get the fuss about cold brewing coffee until recently. And now I make it every Sunday for the whole week ahead. For two people, the cost is about $4 a week.
The thing is I actually like hot, black coffee. However, if you cold brew coffee, it tastes like it smells -- the bitterness is gone and it just glides down your throat.
First of all, it's very easy to make. I go to the store and buy coffee beans and grind them right there in the aisle. This week I bought the cheapest coffee the store had at $5.99 a pound. Last week we bought a more expensive coffee. Don't get snooty until you know what you like and make sure you grind it coarsely.
Then put the coffee in a jar. I use an old pickle jar that you can get at Sam's Club -- it's the one that holds a ginormous amount of pickles. I actually got rid of the pickle smell by letting coffee water soak in it for a couple of days. I was planning on using the jar for kimchi but now it's turned into my cold brew can. Karin Swanson actually knows I'm a jar collector, so she understands my excitement of possessing such a large jar.
The recipe I found online was pretty simple from allrecipes.com --
The rest is pretty easy. You just let it hang out for about 15 hours at room temperature.
Want to add sugar or half and half? Try this recipe from CHOW.
When time's up, all you have to do is strain the coffee. Some people will tell you to use cheesecloth but after buying it once, I decided I didn't want that to be a normal expense. I strained it back through my coffee pot (a suggestion I found online) and I also used a small strainer and a coffee filter.
When it's finished, I transfer the strained coffee into another pitcher that I keep in my fridge. I bought the one on the right from Hyvee for about $6. Nothing fancy but it does the job.
Since this is a concentrate, it's good to put your ice in a glass first, add 1 part coffee and 1 part milk or water. I have also just used less coffee in my cold brew because I use whatever coffee I have leftover from the week before. I'm sure some cold brew coffee expert might scoff at that, but I'm the one drinking it and don't mind.
I like mine black with no sugar and no milk. It's become my go-go juice!
Jim and I took our first trip to the UW Swap Shop -- and it was almost glorious.
We originally went there to check out an Ergotron standing desk since Jim is now a developer and spends most of his time at his desk. In case you're unfamiliar with the UW Swap, it's a place where so many things at UW (or the state) go to die, er, I mean... get a second home.
You can get all kinds of awesome things there. For example, I had a real interest in one of these chairs from the Capitol. The chairs were pretty neat but in the end, I saved my $65 and just texted my colleague, political reporter Jessica Arp. They were super heavy. Real wood, ya'll!
I did drop $15 for this Blue mic. Even though Blue makes newer and cooler mics now, this Snowball still costs $50 in real-life...(not swap life.)
This $5 Stratton hat made me wonder - who wore this? They all felt new -- were they hats for the ag department? I googled it and they're often uniform or western hats... like state trooper hats! I smell a great Halloween costume coming on... especially since new they cost $100 or more.
Everyone needs a red phone, right?
$5 Christmas tree - because why not.
They have new things that look like they'd be cool! Jim says this has a very specific use but I was all, "looks shiny and new!"
I don't usually get excited over power cords, but I thought for $3, I could get a little excited.
Random old stuff is super fun, too. It made me wish I could be a set dresser and look for all kinds of interesting and old things.
Oh yeah and hockey socks.
After we walked out of there spending $22 on rando things, we went to brunch to top off the morning. It was an Eldorado Grill kind of Saturday. I ordered the Eldorado eggs and Jim ordered the blueberry bacon pancakes. Jim goes, "I can't wait for food pics to stop being a thing." But, why??? I know it's kind of basic but I think it's kind of neat to share good food pics - makes me hungry again!
We had a very good morning! I can't wait to hit the swap shop again!