Miami, day one

I landed in Miami last night with the rest of the Gazette/KCRG Orange Bowl team, and got straight to the hard work of thawing out my winter-frozen nose and toes. Today's real work (after my beachside run and coffee) was a tour of the Fontainebleau hotel, which is the Iowa team hotel for the week. I've developed a love for midcentury design, so I'm pretty much in heaven here. (Above and below, Morris Lapidus' signature 'cheeseholes.'



I went on my first ridealong with the CR fire department back in November, and the story recently published. There was a lot of waiting involved in this story -- and hoping they would even get a medical call that night.

Cedar Rapids Fire Ctp. Brian Gibson (left) and EMT Steve Cross load a patient into an ambulance while responding to a medical call in a southwest Cedar Rapids apartment on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009. Firefighters, who are all EMT Basic certified, are often the first responders to medical calls, and provide basic care until EMTs and paramedics from Area Ambulance, including Cross, arrive.



Went for a little walk today with a subject at Indian Creek Nature Center..



Just a couple things I saw while waiting for a press conference to start..


Well, I guess it's winter.

After two winters in Cedar Rapids, I know what to expect well enough that I planned on not being able to drive yesterday. Sure enough, my license plate was barely visible, and my alley was more than a foot deep in fresh powder, so I didn't even try. My neighborhood is always full of features though, so I bundled up and started walking, photographing what few people were up and out at 8 a.m. Quinn was my favorite of the day, a 2-year old whose dad wishes "he were as much help as he thinks he is."

This is not my car. It is, however, about what mine looked like.



Leonard has been designing and building the Czech Heritage float for the Christmas parade for 25 years. The float was pretty much complete by the time I met up with him to photograph it. Leonard lost his house and all his float-building supplies in the flood, but that hasn't stopped him from building the floats in the two years since the flood.



I met Simon while working on a story on a roadside live nativity that I mentioned earlier. He's quite friendly, and leaned in to the camera after nuzzling Abby, who helped Dennis Oliver set up the nativity.


The trees

I guess it's really winter now that we've had snow and the city tree is installed and ready for the Fire and Ice festival. I'm torn between excessive holiday spirit (cocoa, cookies and Christmas music!) and wanting our lovely mild fall back.

Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation employees Glenn Shulz of Cedar Rapids (from left), Harlin Andresen of Cedar Rapids, Mark Jacobs of Marion and John Salzbrenner of Marion pull support cables as the official Cedar Rapids Christmas tree is installed near the Tree of Five Seasons on Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. The usual May's Island location was determined to be potentially too unstable for the 22-foot pine. The tree will be lit on Saturday, December 5 at 5:00 p.m. preceding the Holiday DeLight Parade.


It's almost too easy..

.. to quickly scan the line and pick out a few kids that I know will give good reactions from their H1N1 vaccination. Timmy and his siblings gave me several chances to get the best reaction.

Gazetteonline has a handy page with all the flu coverage, including a transcript of yesterday's live chat with Linn County Public Health Director Curtis Dickson.


I spent some time with the Massey family last week while they used Skype to talk to their dad, Staff Sgt. Joseph Massey, an Army Reservist currently stationed in Afghanistan with the 649th Regional Support Group. Samuel (sitting on his mom Kristen's lap) plays with airplanes via video chat, but there's a bit of lag time and a lot of frozen video. Read the story about deployed reservists and their families here.


Bessie's garage

Bessie Dugena owns Bozenka's, a shop in Czech Village that was flooded in 2008 and has yet to reopen. While working on a story on her (and her departure for California to live with her daughter), we walked over to her old house, which also flooded that June. I couldn't help but be distracted by the ivy-covered garage.. (I seem to be perpetually leaning to the left just a bit.. but, you know the rules: outtakes are always shown full-frame.)