Tuesday, August 31, 2010

3 ideas for One-Day Story

We were asked to submit three ideas for a story that can be shot in one day in our Picture Story class.

1) This is going to be the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th tragedy which occurred in 2001. Although it can certainly be argued that this is a story that could not only surpass one day coverage, but is a national issue, I think a story on the tragedy that localizes the commemoration of the event could be covered photographically in one day (the 11th). Shots could also be taken in the days leading up to the 11th to show preparations for the date. I am unaware as to what the city is planning (if anything) for 9/11's decade anniversary, though I am sure that it is something that will be visually present throughout the community, whether an event has been planned or not.

2) Also occurring on the 11th is the Central Missouri Humane Society's intermittent "Walk a hound, lose a pound" benefit, that pairs volunteers with dogs from the humane society for some joined exercise. This is an event that I have always wanted to photograph, not only because it's such a (in my opinion) fantastic volunteer opportunity and does both parties a great deal of good, but because I am fairly sure that these events are up to their ears in possibly stories/features. I am also wondering what percentage of animals who are walked at these events find permanent homes because of it- I'm sure there's got to be at least a couple per event.

3) Finally, I propose the story that I intend to do at least at some point during the semester- The recent collaboration of two of Columbia's iconic cobblers, George Wren and Bob Dawson. Bob recently recruited George to come work for him at his shop. George has been working at Dillard's since his business closed its doors a year or so ago. I am familiar with both of them and think that locally, this is a story that will generate some interest. Cobblery is an occupation with alot of history and is often carried down through the generations. Bob and George are both examples of cobblers who are carrying on a tradition of the occupation in their families and are also two of the kindest people I've had the pleasure of meeting. But that's a personal aside. George has been working at Dawson's shoe repair for about a week or so now and though I have Bob's permission to do the story, I have yet to speak with George.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Picture Story: Blog post One

I am drawn to photo stories that have shot variety- that show not only the subject, but that subject's individuality as well as photos that show the "whole picture" of the story.

I like dynamic photos- ones that show emotion, convey information about the story rather than just what they look like.

I did a project on George Wren, a cobbler who owned Birkenstock on Broadway a couple years back in Advanced about cobblery and that though it is in some ways a dying industry, it makes a small comeback in times of economic trouble.

George, at the time, was doing alright due to economic difficulties, but a few months after I did the project, was forced to shut down his business and began working at Dillard's.

I found out a few weeks ago that he is about to start working with Bob Dawson, another iconic cobbler of Columbia and so I am really interested in doing another story about cobblery, improving upon methods used last time.

I took alot of detail shots to allude to economic difficulty and tried unsuccessfully to use background ambient radio noise, which I think ended up seeming pointless and distracting.

In the last story, I stayed pretty much within the confines of Birkenstock, so depending upon interest in the story, I may ask for access to the cobblers' homes.

Cobblery is infamous for its being an occupation most generally passed down through the generations, so I would like to get more of a feeling of the history of these men and their ancestors role in the field.

I want to more seamlessly and less jarringly include ambient sound in my piece, as I think borders on distracting in this photo essay, which I've made reference to in the past:

Another chance for Michael Vick's dogs

I would also like to get the cobblers' customers into this piece- what kind of people get their clothing or accessories repaired or can they even be catergorized?

What direction is the industry going now?

Will George Wren continue bringing his dog to work?
Why did his business ultimately fail?
What was it like working at a department store versus owning his own business?
What made him decide to go work with Bob?
Will they be able to hire back his assistant repairman?

Here is a low quality version of that photo story:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My first website: First Draft

So today we made websites in EPJ and that was really exciting for me because I have never made a webpage before!

Here she is:

Welcome to the Jungle

This is the rubric for the first assignment.
Please, every single none of my readers, (get it? Because nobody reads this!) alert me if I seem to have missed something:

Assignment 1: Your first index.html page with an image & link

For this assignment you are to hand-code a basic web page in html and upload it to a web server. You page must have the following elements:

• A heading of some sort
• At least one block of text. Tell me a little about yourself and your background as it relates to this course. What skills do you already have, and what do you want to learn? Your text should include something in bold and something in italics.
• Color specification for the background
• At least one image
• At least one text link
• A title for the page. This will appear at the top of the browser window.

Follow these specifications for your image:

• 800 pixels wide, at 72 ppi
• Sharpened and toned appropriately for web display
• Converted to sRGB
• Saved appropriately for the web

Name your page index.html and upload it and any necessary supporting files (like the picture) to your Bengal space.

Email the link to your page to bickeljo@missouri.edu and post it to your blog before the end of lab on August 27, 2010.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My last story for the Missourian: Conservation!

I learned a lot about conservation at Jefferson Farms and Gardens yesterday morning.

Mostly, I learned that spirits can not walk in a zig zag pattern.

Yeah, I know, who knew, right?

Here's the story!

Jefferson Farm teaches conservation techniques to property owners
Thursday, August 12, 2010 | 7:50 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — If you want to participate in land conservation, there are lots of ways to do it.

On Thursday morning, two public tours at Jefferson Farm and Gardens were held to show ways to improve land conservation. About 20 people walked or went by wagon around the 67 acres in south Columbia and learned about permeable parking lots, rain gardens, pond management and wildlife habitats.

Porous asphalt: The first stop was a comparison of porous and conventional asphalt staffed by Robert Christensen, owner of Christensen Construction Company. Porous asphalt decreases runoff, which can erode soil and potentially send toxins into water sources. It also deters ice and snow from collecting because of tiny holes within the asphalt, Christensen said.

Porous asphalt is about 35 percent more expensive than conventional asphalt.

Rain gardens: At the next stop, Rebecca Spicer and Catherine Bohnert stood in front of a rain garden, which slows down and feeds on the runoff. The rain garden at Jefferson Farm and Gardens was made with compost, not fertilizer, and it had stones throughout it.

The women drew plants from a bucket to show examples of good plants for rain gardens. They include: palm sedge, water canna, arrowhead, irises, purple coneflowers, goldenrod, butterfly weed (a favorite of Monarchs) and the compass plant.

The stop for pond management was alongside a seven-acre lake. There, Kelly Mottaz explained that planting native grasses around the edges of a pond will limit soil erosion and runoff and deter Canada geese, all of which can worsen water quality.

Mottaz said pond weed is a problem for ponds; the small, floating vegetation reproduces rapidly. Tour guide Rob Myers, director of programs at the Jefferson Institute, which oversees Jefferson Farm and Gardens, said a canoe is sent out once a year onto the lake to clear out pond weed.

Another suggestion to limit runoff into ponds is building a Riparian zone, an area of trees and shrubs placed farther away from the pond to disrupt the runoff flow.

Buffer plants to consider are pickerelweed, prairie dropseed, big bluestem and little bluestem grasses and orange coneflowers.

The important thing is to use native plants, Mottaz said, because foreign plants tend to take over the area.

As for aquatic vegetation, native water lilies are less invasive than foreign species and will not spread as quickly.

Wildlife habitat: At the wildlife habitat stop, Bob Pierce, MU Extension assistant professor in fisheries and wildlife, stood next to a rectangular plot of plants.

"It's not just about food plots (for wildlife)," Pierce said. "You need to create a habitat that works for you."

Food plots are sections of foliage that attract wildlife but are unlikely to be successful if they exceed 65 feet from the tree lines.

Building a habitat for Bobwhite quail, for example, requires a food plot with a lot of foliage cover. Effective plots have 77 plants, such as ragweed, planted five feet apart. Once the cover has grown enough for the quail to feel safe, they tend to move in quickly.

"They say they'll move right in overnight," said Mark McCulloch, a private land conservationist for the Missouri Department of Conservation who was at the farm to speak later about the department's private lands program.

McCulloch said Missouri is the only state that has a division of private land. He said the Private Land Services Division, which is part of the Department of Conservation, began a decade ago, and part of its mission is to assist property owners looking to improve the well-being of their land. He said he gets between 150 and 200 calls a year.

"I will come out for a person with one sick tree," McCulloch said, talking about the range of his duties. "I'll help you out."

Conservation programs: The final stop was to give information about conservation programs offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dwaine Gelnar, assistant state conservationist for programs, said the Environmental Quality Incentives Program offers financial help and technical advice for farmers who have signed a contract to improve their conservation practices. A lot of the money goes to grazing lands, improving the health of the native plant population and protecting the water quality of nearby streams.

Nationally, the quality incentive program is allotted $1 billion, Gelnar said, $26 million of which was awarded to Missouri this year.

The 2008 Farm Bill changed the EQIP's fund disbursement focus so that it now targets locally driven initiatives. Applicants must register and be aware that selection is competitive, Gelnar said.

SO I think I forgot to post my Les Bourgeois Story

Which consequently got front page in the print edition

This has been a story that's been in the works for a while.

I went out to meet the head wine-maker and spent about an hour or so audio-recorder in hand, touring the old winery and the new.

My favorite part was the trademarked Big Ass Fan

Hello! I am Gianna's story about the new winery at Les Bourgeois


Les Bourgeois Winery builds new facility
Monday, August 9, 2010 | 5:17 p.m. CDT; updated 9:52 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 9, 2010

By Gianna Volpe

ROCHEPORT — Les Bourgeois, the state's third-largest in production after Stone Hill and St. James wineries, has had a steady growth curve throughout the economic downturn, thanks in part to an increase in off-site wine sales.

"Our grocery store wine sales have increased, but that's true of the national industry as a whole," said Cory Bomgaars, head winemaker at Les Bourgeois. "Restaurant sales have been down. People are still drinking wine, but they're drinking it at home more often.” Bomgaars is also vice chairman of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board and president of the Missouri Vintners Association.

With that growth in mind, Les Bourgeois has built a 14,000-square-foot winemaking facility to streamline production and allow for even more expansion later.

Ideas for the new facility have been incubating for years, Bomgaars said, but the business had its money tied up in expansion outside the actual winery. In addition to the winery, Les Bourgeois includes vineyards, a farm and cliff-top bistro along the Missouri River.

The Bourgeois family turned a hobby into a business in 1986. Ten years later, they purchased the bistro and the farm. "That was a significant economic investment," Bomgaars said. “We had to wait until we were strong enough to take this big of a project on.”

The $2 million expansion includes construction of the building where wine will be made and remodeling of the existing building. Les Bourgeois plans to expand its current tasting room and gift shop and extend educational services.

Les Bourgeois moved into the current winemaking building in 1989 when production was an estimated 20,000 gallons of wine a year; the expectation was that they would need to expand when they hit 60,000 gallons. They are now producing an estimated 120,000 gallons.

“People come through and say, 'I don't believe you do such volume and quality of wine with that space.' It's been a great story, but we're kind of tired of telling it," Bomgaars said. "The story's going to be a lot better with the facility that we've designed to make the wine that we want to make.”

'All in' on new building

Bomgaars credits the winery's staff for success in production thus far and as being integral to designing the new building. "We were all in on it," he said.

Huebert Builders of Columbia constructed the new two-room facility. The building is 24 feet tall at the eaves and 36 feet at the pitch.

“The main reason we need the height on the eaves is for the tanks," Bomgaars said. "When we were looking at our designs, we could have made a shorter building, but we would be limited to having our larger tanks in one section of the building. Now if we wanted to put a 6,000 gallon tank or a 12,000 gallon tank in here, we could.”

So far, the new facility is empty, except for an enormous fan whipping up a significant breeze overhead. The building's upper space will be used for a new laboratory, Bomgaars' office and a sensory room.

At 6 feet wide and 15 feet long, the current lab is cramped because the wine-maker, cellar-master and intern all share the space. The new laboratory will be 30 by 15 feet. A third of the new laboratory space will be for storage of corks, capsules and dry goods. Blending trials for fine-tuning the taste of a current product or experimenting with a new one will be done in the sensory room next door. Right now, they are done at the bistro.

Once the winemaking equipment is moved from the old building to the new one and occupancy is passed on the warehouse side, Les Bourgeois will no longer lease warehouse space at Subtera, which has underground caves in Columbia. Les Bourgeois also hopes to build a warehouse next to the new wine-making facility.

With the new space, cases will be able to go to the warehouse straight from bottling.

Processing incoming grapes will also be much easier. Currently, operators have to dump grapes either into a press 14 feet above their head or into a receiving hopper about 10 feet up.

"It's pretty awkward," Bomgaars said.

Trucks have to be unloaded in the parking lot because of a lack of space inside the current processing room. "We pretty much fill half of our parking lot up when we unload the trucks, and then we process them all into this little space," Bomgaars said.

The new facility features a concrete patio between the new building and the old where customers will be able to view wine-making.

Trucks with incoming grapes will be able to back into a drop-down area next to the new building where the processing equipment will be.

"Once that's done, operators will be able to look right into the machinery," Bomgaars said about eliminating the need to hoist grapes several feet up into a receiving press.

“You're talking about, on a week like this, 40-50 hours of labor that we're saving,” Bomgaars said about streamlining production. He said positions will not be eliminated; current employees will be able to focus their energies on making better products.

Although 50 percent of production is invested in Riverboat Red, a large-volume wine that Bomgaars said is rapidly expanding, there has also been growth in production and sales of small series wines. The winery's collector's series, which Les Bourgeois does three of a year, currently produces 47,000 cases.

One last harvest

Bomgaars said the move will be done in stages. First, they plan to move into the warehouse side of the building, probably in the next month. Moving the tanks and bottling equipment is another story.

Excessive heat delayed bottling for a few weeks, though Bomgaars said they were able to catch up and are finishing now. The winery will need all equipment to be operational in time for harvest, which has just begun, so Les Bourgeois will need to operate one more time in its old facility.

“Our goal would be to get the tanks in here by next harvest or over the course of next year," Bomgaars said.

Once the move into the new building is complete, Les Bourgeois plans to use the old building to accommodate visitors to the winery and educational tours. A row of tanks and some oak barrel storage will be left behind in the old building. Bomgaars said the winery's equipment for sparkling wine will be brought in as well.

The gift shop, which now occupies 600 square feet of the winery, will expand into the bottling space of the old building. Visitors will be able to view winemaking in the new facility through windows overlooking it from the gift shop as well as from the expanded patio area next to the new tasting room.

"Not only will it be good for us, but it’s going to be a good showcase for the Missouri industry," Bomgaars said, "which is a really exciting part of it."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Future of Food

Yesterday I talked to Dr. Rob Myers, founder and director of programs for the Jefferson Institute about today's Conservation field tours.

I talked his ear off-

(I think I say that alot. I must have an aural fixation, I SLAY MYSELF)

-not only about the event, but about the implications and effects of genetically modified foods.

If you haven't seen the documentary, "The future of food," Oh my dog, see it.
It scared the bajeesus out of me.

The scary thing about genetically modified foods is that it's so new that the long-term effects on humans have yet to be sufficiently researched. More importantly, it is not required for a product to identify whether the ingredients in it contain genetically modified foods.

The scary part about genetically modified foods is that their introduction came after a seed was patented- the first time life was patented.

There was a stipulation that these plants would NOT cross-breed with indigenous species, but...... they did.

Farmers all over the country are having their farms infiltrated by companies who test their crops for the genetically modified material and take their plants because the modified plants cross-bred and erased the indigenous coding.

This is a huge problem, not only because corporation's crops are contaminating farmers crops, which are then taken from the farmers, but as these modified plants spread (and many are designed to be resistant to pests, so they can spread quickly) they completely wipe out strains of un-modified crops.

The danger here is that if the diversity of crop types that we have is being funneled down from say 100 species of potato to say, 3, there is huge potential for great disaster should one of those types experience a blight.

Currently, genetically modified corn is infiltrating Mexico and wiping out several ancient strains of corn, a prided crop for the country.


here's my brief about the Conservation Field tours, which had nothing to do with what I was just blathering on about, except in the way that diversity is key in both the event and the issue of genetically modified foods.

Brief for Jefferson Institute's free conservation field tour

Free conservation field tour to be held Thursday
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | 6:22 p.m. CDT


COLUMBIA — On Thursday, local farmers will have a chance to learn how to make money — or at least improve their operations — for free.

Community members are invited to participate in Conservation Field Tour, a free event held tomorrow from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at Jefferson Farm & Gardens, located at 4800 E. New Haven Road.

Attendees will be able to take an hour-long tour either by wagon or by foot to see demonstrations about conservation.

A variety of speakers are scheduled on topics such as water quality, soil conservation, rain gardens and pond management to benefit both farmers and curious community members. One of the speakers, an MU professor, Bob Pierce, will discuss establishing wildlife habitats.

The event will be headed by Rob Myers, founder and director of programs at The Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute. Myers, a former MU professor, has also worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a program director for national education and research.

"The number of American farmers have been in decline," Myers said. Farm operation costs have been increasing, making it more difficult for smaller farms to continue to operate, he said.

Hoping to address the industry's challenges, the Conservation Field Tour plans to focus on sustainable agriculture to help up-and-coming farms and to teach family farmers how to stay in business and compete with larger operations.

Pamphlets from several different organizations also will be available at a booth in the information tent by the main parking lot.

For those who can't attend, Myers offered a basic tip: Mix it up.

"Research shows that farmers with three or four types of crop tend to have less pests," Myers said. "There's a need for farmers to diversify the crops on their farms."

My name is Gianna, I will be your tour guide

I got the chance to talk to a family from Houston yesterday (?) about the photoj sequence of the School of Journalism.

That was something that I really enjoyed.

I blathered on about the classes that she (the prospective student) would be taking and what they would entail.

I told them about MoEX (which the mother was just so relieved to hear about)

I also let her know that if she kept her grades high the first semester that she attended Mizzou, that she would be able to take the first photojournalism sequence class, Fundamentals of Photojournalism during her second semester of freshman year.

I told them that I had been fortunate enough to do so, but following taking Fundamentals, I had put off taking further upper level photo courses because of the intensity, which I regretted.

I told her that if she wanted to succeed in the program that the best advice I could give her was to immerse herself and that she was sure to have fun.

I gave the family a little background about Columbia, what it had to offer, yada yada yada.

I really loved being able to inform an up and coming photog.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Surprise Photo slideshow? CUTE

Turns out someone from photo took some of my biker pics (and Joel's) and made a slideshow for the website.

Here's me sharing it with you(reader)

Let it slide.show.

I like it, though I wish they had gone through my dump and picked some other pictures that hadn't been used yet.

Old news?! Yuck!
I'm kidding.

I am deciding whether I should still edit a sounds from the rally to go along with a post rally article.
I think that what's been missing from our coverage (and everyone else's) is the SOUND of motorcycles.

PS: Entirely unrelated, but I saw The Other Guys last night and this reporter announced himself at a press release and sounded really ashamed to say he was an online reporter and then another one (from TMZ, HA) said PRINT EDITION, all proud, and, I don't get it- Is there a stigma for being an online reporter?

Isn't that, um, the future?

NBR- Saturday

Joel and I went out to check out the bike show on Saturday- the last full day of the rally.

I was sure sad that we were on deadline- I would have loved to get some shots of Chingy and the other performers.

I still don't know if Michael Jordan was just a rumor!

Anyway, I made some great contacts at the show.

This one woman claimed her husband was the first black man in Columbia to own a motorcycle.

I took her information down because I think that would be a pretty neat feature!

She said that he (her husband) has gotten everyone in their family into riding.
Her 14-year-old son, who I have a picture of in the gallery, is one of them.
I had more information, but couldn't get a hold of her in time to AC, so the caption suffered a little there, but it had the generations right there in the shot, so that was enough to make me happy.

I was honestly awe-stricken at some of these custom bikes.

On Saturday night, while I was bartending, someone told me that three bikes had been stolen.

Two sport bikes scooped out of a hotel parking lot and a Honda goldwing.

I spent this morning going through the police dispatches looking for more info, but then from a google search saw that the Tribune has already put up two briefs about the incidents.
(Which is cool, I love when hearsay becomes didhappen)

The guy who put me in detention the first day of the rally (I say this lovingly and a bit facetiously) saw me at the bike show and said, "YOU AGAIN? HOW MANY TIMES YOU GONNA COME OUT HERE, I'VE SEEN YOU EVERYDAY."

Then he smiled.
We are soooooo friends.

Getting ready to gut check businesses for follow-ups this week.

Not sure how to go about getting the most accurate information for actual attendance and economic impact numbers.

My big bad photo gallery

Friday, August 6, 2010

NBR Day Three

On the third day of the rally, Joel and I were able to see that what I had predicted about rally traffic was true: Thursday would be the first big day for arrivals.

When we arrived, traffic was backed up to the intersection of Oakland Gravel and Prathersville Road and by the time we got into Breeze's cart, a voice over the radio said that traffic was backed up to the highway at that point.

I suggested that for this day, that we focus on night time at the rally as I suspected that most people would be out during that time, seeing as the heat has been something of a issue.

I was pleased to find that the fairgrounds were swarming with attendees.

"Now THIS is more like it," I said to Joel.

I was literally stuck on smile.

I have to say something about the bikers.

Of the 25+ bikers that I've spoken to so far at this event, every single one of them was extremely friendly and informative.

I was under the impression that there would be more a split- some bikers would be unwilling to comment or would be disinterested by my approaching them or striking up conversation, but i have to say that not ONE biker was anything but welcoming, humorous, and friendly.

Here's the article from day three.

I focused on:

1) the increase of visitors
2) the approach of night
3) the beginning of the event's main entertainment
4) a feel for the actual rally scene
5) a taste of how to join the community

Here is the article, which Liz said had good content, but was a rough edit.
My weakness as a reporter is shaping my stories. Knowing how to phrase, be concise.
It's something i'm working on and hopefully have been improving on.
My strength, Liz says, is my content.

These are things that I can live with.

In the cool of the evening, the biker community comes alive
Friday, August 6, 2010 | 12:03 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The radio in Rozell "Breeze" Nunn's hand confirmed it.

"There's a line out to the highway back on gate three," a voice crackled.

As predicted, more motorcyclists and attendees were arriving on Thursday evening, the first night of live entertainment at the National Bikers Roundup. The roundup is expected to be busiest Friday and Saturday evenings; the event wraps up on Sunday.

Riding in his golf cart, waving and acknowledging the shouts of greeting that came his way, Nunn navigated the swelling crowd that moved through the Boone County Fairgrounds on foot and on motorcycles. He dodged kiosks and RVs and handled the radio calls with an expert hand. Founder of the National Bikers Roundup, Nunn has been doing this for 33 years.

That a modest camp-out for African-American motorcycle clubs in the Kansas City area has expanded into a national event drawing thousands of people is a pleasure to him.

"It makes me feel like a king," said Nunn, president of the Atlanta chapter of the Zodiacs, a club he's been in since 1972.

Some attendees looking at vendors' booths as the sun went down wore the clothes of the biking culture: vests with patches identifying their motorcycle club, their chapter and their role within that chapter — secretary or sergeant-at-arms or another office.

"Right now I'm patchless, but that's OK," said Brittni Perry, sipping from an unusually tall translucent orange glass.

Perry of Lansing, Mich., is identified as P1; the p stands for probation. Riders usually have to go through a period in which they are evaluated by members on their dedication to the club. The club Perry is vying to join, The Street Riders, requires a 90-day probation during which prospects are expected to attend the club's meetings and biker events and show respect to established club members. She is 30 days away from receiving a biker name.

Perry had never driven a motorcycle before last week and said it has been the most exhilarating experience of her life. "Whatever you were worrying about or thinking about in your life is gone," she said.

The national secretary of The Street Riders, known as "Qpid," stood nearby trying on helmets. Qpid and Perry are from the Lansing chapter of The Street Riders, a co-ed club. Qpid said her job is to keep track of every new member the club recruits, including when they started. She said that after the roundup, the club plans to visit its chapter in Dayton, Ohio.

"The heat is killing us. The flies are killing us," Qpid said. "We're not used to this. We're from Michigan."

In the background, the sound of music and motorcycles melded, a steady rumbling with tunes weaving in and out.

Motorcycles moved freely among the vending area and even into the outdoor concert arena. "Be aware," a sign read. "Motorcycles are everywhere."

A couple sitting on their motorcycle near the front of the stage identified themselves as "Lady Ryder" and "Chilly Willy" Hicks, Army retirees from Fort Knox, Ky., and members of The Iron Soldiers. The couple of 15 years came to the roundup by way of Seattle, arriving at 1 a.m. Monday. This is their 24th roundup.

"Partying and riding our bikes," Lady Ryder, vice president of her chapter, said, "that's what it's all about. We need the party, we need our bikes, and we need to have a town to support us so that we can support them in revenue."

Phil "Rat" Prince, a rider of 22 years, sat in the crowded concert area on his motorcycle while a band onstage played the blues. Prince, a member of the Flint, Mich., chapter of The Buffalo Soldiers for about three months, said he's been enjoying camping, barbecuing and meeting people from other states.

"Tomorrow, I will shop," he said. "I like to wait until toward the end of the event to make purchases."

NBR: Day Two

On the second day of the round-up, I decided to bring a marantz and get some sounds from the rally.

I am planning on putting together an audio piece following the rally called, "Sounds from the Rally."

This will include entertainment, attendee voices, and ambient sound (chock full of motorcycle revs.

I'm really excited about working on this as it will be my first strictly audio piece.

Thinking about going to the rally tomorrow for the big night of music (Chingy and The St. Lunatics particularly) because I think that would definitely work for my piece.

Curious about this rumor that Michael Jordan is planning to come to the event and has been staying at the Hilton.

Could I possibly meet this legendary giant?

Breeze said that he didn't know about Michael Jordan being in town
"And if I did, I wouldn't be able to tell you."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Photo Gallery of the opening day of the Biker Rally

My photo gallery of opening day has been on the most read list for a bit now.

I was told that neither AP nor the Trib. got pictures that day, so I have to feel a little proud of myself.

I am totally in my element there. Have to say.

Getting ready to write a story about the night life at the rally.

I wanted to write this story because
1) I had a sneaking suspicion that there was going to be a huge influx of bikers today.
2) There was bound to be more people coming out of their RVS and hotel rooms as it got cooler outside.

I was right.

There were SO many people and Joel and I got our coverage.

Okayokay, I'm going to write, but in the meantime, here's the link to the photo gallery.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Biker Rally Day One

Having no idea how this would pan out, Christina and I headed out to the biker rally this afternoon.

Turned out that she and Joel had been told that the schedule of events would be released at 4 this morning and alas, no schedule.

While we interviewed some folks at the God's Wheel's food drive tent, I asked a nearby booth where I would be able to secure a schedule.

I was told that they could be found at the NBR tent and I walked around, happy as a clam, snapping shots and greeting smiling people until the guy at the NBR tent asked who I was with and why I was wandering around alone.

To make a long story short- I ended up with a guide named Mark who got me a computer-printed rough version of the schedule of events and a few really awesome shots for a photo gallery.

Apparently Vox is going to use a shot of mine as well!
(Coming out Thursday)

I missed the deadline to send in a personal essay for them.

I was going to write an essay about almost dying and all, but, you know, I'm working on the biker rally, so VROOMVROOM.

I really hope whoever does the story on the Aladdin Lamp Collector's Club/takes pictures for it, does it the justice that it deserves.

It could be a REALLY awesome multimedia piece, in my opinion.

Monday, August 2, 2010

National Bikers Roundup 2010

Despite the roller-coaster of emotions that have been involved with the preparation for my coverage of the biker rally, my article made this weekend's front page.

Writing this article taught me a lot about my presentation of myself as a journalist, how things can go wrong, how things can get patched up, and how sensitive of a position that I am in as a journalist.

I couldn't be happier with the results and am still head-over-heels excited about the event.

Here is the web version of the article, complete with two document attachments.

One of the attachments is a notice given out by the Special Business District that I found on the bar at my place of employment, resulting in a "Yoink."

It just had so much information that I felt would be helpful for the public to minimize culture shock between Columbians and motorcyclists.

I was glad that the memo was included.


National Bikers Roundup pulls into Columbia
Saturday, July 31, 2010 | 6:01 p.m. CDT; updated 10:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 31, 2010

COLUMBIA — That distant roaring you will soon hear is 35,000 or so bikers pulling into Columbia.

They're coming from across the country on motorcycles and sport bikes for the 33rd annual National Bikers Roundup, which runs from Tuesday through Aug. 8 at the Boone County Fairgrounds, 5212 N. Oakland Gravel Road.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department wants community residents to know the bikers are likely to be in the area in noticeable numbers, affecting traffic, starting on Monday. Alternate routes are listed in a sidebar to this article.

Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said 35,000 is a conservative estimate of visitors and predicted the event will have $6 million in direct impact on the area economy. Hotels farther than Boonville have been booked for this event, she said.

"If you have 35,000 people in the market, and they're spending just $30 a day, do the math," Steiner said. "Average expenditure for someone who is visiting and staying is $100-$125 a day, so they'll easily spend $6 million in the market."

Steiner said Columbia stores have been advised to stock up on food and other camping supplies to prepare for the brief population spike. This is because people will be camping at the fairgrounds and staying in RVs as well as hotels. Four areas will be set up on the fairgrounds for primitive camping. RV hookups will be available at the fairgrounds as well as at nearby Cottonwoods RV Park.

"Hundreds will bring RVs and their cars," Steiner said. "Most people stay in hotels and then use RVs on the fairgrounds side."

Services manager Jody Russell has secured a shuttling service to minimize the traffic congestion and backup at the fairgrounds. Shuttles will run for free on Friday and Saturday between Parkade Plaza and the fairgrounds. Maps to Parkade have been made for distribution to out-of-towners and outlying hotels.

Thousands of copies of fliers with information as to where visitors can go for groceries, urgent care and bike repairs are also scheduled to be distributed.

How the National Bikers Roundup ended up being held in Columbia this year is a point of pride for Steiner.

"We're kind of the mouse that roared," she said about securing the bid. "We have a history that when we go after something — and it sounds self-aggrandizing, but we really do — we have a history of securing those events."

Last year, Steiner said, two staffers from the tourism bureau went to the event in Atlanta. In deciding whether to host the event, the biggest issue on this end was providing security. Security is being handled by the Sheriff's Department, the Columbia Police Department, the State Highway Patrol and Contemporary Services Co. The private firm is being paid $23,000 by the National Bikers Roundup to handle security inside the fairgrounds, along with sheriff's deputies.

"When you have an event this big, there are so many things from the bureau's perspective that we're responsible for," Steiner said. "We want to make sure that this event goes off as well as it possibly can."

Major Tom Reddin said the Sheriff's Department plans to have 20 to 30 deputies assigned to the event inside and outside the fairgrounds. Some of these assignments will include overseeing traffic, entry gate security and two-man foot patrols within the fairgrounds. Reddin said they have been working closely with Contemporary Services, which will send about 40 people to the event, 20 of whom will be on duty inside the fairgrounds at any given time.

"We're just counting down the days at this point," Reddin said.

The Columbia Police Department will be visible downtown, and theHighway Patrol will oversee incoming traffic to Columbia, particularly at the U.S. 63/Interstate 70 junction.

Steiner wants to allay fears, if anyone has them, about the event, saying, "99.9 percent of these folks are coming here to have a good time."

"Of course there have been incidents, but you take 35,000 to 50,000 depending on how many people show up, and you put them in the same place for five days, there's going to be an incident," Steiner said. "There's going to be a domestic violence incident, or there's going to be a fight break out. If you put that many people in a space for a concert for that amount of time, can you imagine what you're going to have? This is just humanity in the normal course of being human."

Steiner said that when the two representatives were sent to Atlanta to secure Columbia's bid for the event, they never felt unsafe.

A memo recently distributed by the Special Business District to Columbia restaurant and bar owners said: "National Bikers Roundup is an umbrella organization that hosts many members from other biker groups. Some are family oriented, some are simply enthusiasts, but there are a very few that align themselves with 'outlaw bikers.'"

The memo went on: "It's important to state that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Meaning, you won't be able to tell an 'outlaw biker' from any other, so welcome everyone equally. But it is vital that you inform your staff to not tolerate any foul behavior and to maintain a high level of attention and service."

The memo lists precautions for businesses, concluding: "This is all precautionary and does NOT mean that this is an unsafe event. Understand that there may be a few bad apples, but the vast majority of attendees are very friendly and very good customers, and it's important to treat them as such."

Visit the Vox website for a photo slideshow and story about the biker culture.


If you go or if you want to stay clear

The Boone County Sheriff's Department recommends alternate routes for traffic near the fairgrounds while the National Bikers Rally is under way, from Tuesday through Aug. 8.

Likely to be heavily congested are:

U.S. 63
Starke Avenue
Prathersville Road
Roger I. Wilson Memorial Drive
Oakland Gravel Road (from Smiley Lane to Prathersville Road)
Brown School Road (from Oakland Gravel Road to Highway 763)
Highway 763 (from Smiley Lane to Prathersville Road)
The following roads will be used exclusively for event patrons:

Traffic on Starke Avenue will be eastbound only.
Traffic on Oakland Gravel Road (between Smiley Lane and Prathersville Road) will be southbound only.

Free shuttles will be available from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. They will run continually between Parkade Plaza and the fairgrounds.


$20 for motorcycle club members, $25 for general admission and free for children 12 and younger.

Live entertainment is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday nights from 6 to 11 p.m. at the grandstand on the northeast part of the fairgrounds and from 6 p.m. to 1:15 a.m. at the arena in the main building.

Bands scheduled to appear are: Zapp; The St. Lunatics; Chingy; Theodis Ealy; Sir Charles; Motown on Wax; Dr. Zhivegas; DJ Diamond Kuts; Ruka Puff; Aloha; Baby Huey; DeAndre Perryman; Alyson Williams; and The Fellaz. The acts are primarily funk, hip-hop and rhythm and blues.

Other events

Demo rides will be done on the asphalt at the fairgrounds.

A bike show will be held in the parking lot of the Atkins baseball field on Saturday.

Activities for children are scheduled both in the air-conditioned part on the fairgrounds in the main building and outside. National Bikers Roundup chairman Billy Walker said activities will include "blow-up games, small carnival rides, video games, commercial video games and possibly a pool."

About 60 motorcycle dealers and food and merchandise vendors have signed up to participate in the event. This includes Harley Davidson, which will bring an 18-wheeler that folds out into a demo area and another with motorcycles in it.

The Sister to Sister seminar held for women at each roundup discusses first aid, breast cancer awareness, motorcycle riding and safety tips, and other topics of interest to female motorcyclists.

God's Wheels is a charity that is sponsored by the roundup. Attendees are asked to bring canned food for donation to those who need it. The cans are donated to the city that hosts the roundup.

Here is some related media about how loud a motorcycle actually is

It's a boy, Mr. Walker, It's a boy

I did a brief following a press release by police about an identity theft scam by a man who goes by the name of Walker.

Here is the brief:

Police want public to be aware of identity theft scam
Friday, July 30, 2010 | 6:13 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department wants the public to be aware of suspicious phone calls, e-mails or written letters requesting any personal information, including their social security number or bank information.

"Banks, credit card companies and reputable online retailers such as eBay and Paypal will never contact you and ask to confirm account numbers or social security numbers over the phone or via email," the release said.

The memo details a phone call received by police by a woman on Thursday afternoon. The woman reported she had been "contacted several times by phone at her place of employment by a man identifying himself as John Walker."

The man, who called multiple times over the course of several days, left messages claiming to be several other people, including an officer at the East Lansing Police Department. Walker claimed that he wanted to verify her social security number, giving her the first three numbers of her social security number and asking for her to fill in the rest.

"Walker" called the woman from the number (516) 515-3371, a number that has been found through an internet search to be associated with a number of fraudulent debt collecting scams. He also claimed to be Larry Walker and Edward Walker, in addition to John Walker.

Police said they confirmed there is no Officer Walker at the East Lansing Police Department.

Columbia police encourage anyone in doubt to report suspected fraudulent activity to them at 873-7652.

Humane Society Brief

This was a simple day turn-over that I did within a couple hours.

It's a sort of public service announcement reminding citizens the protocol for dropping off animals with the Central Missouri Human Society after 5 puppies were left in a plastic box with holes bored into it over night and 4 out of the 5 puppies were found by volunteers in the morning, dead.

I went to talk to Shelter Relations Coordinator, Allison Toth for the information and took a cell phone pic of a bunny who had Katherine Reed's face keeping him company nearby in his cage.

I received a wonderful compliment by a reader, which of course filled my little heart with joy.

Ray Shapiro July 30, 2010 | 7:18 p.m.
This is one of the best articles I've read in a long time.
Save me the trip to the door at Big Bear to check this out:
Is the front of CMHS well lit after hours and is there a sign posted about this after hours/emergency option?


here was my reponse, which may be misinterpreted, though it's a topic that I know alot about and feel the information is important for informing the public about how to most responsibly care for a found animal/animals.

It is my hope that the population of animals without homes/proper care will dwindle with a little education:
Gianna Volpe, reporter on this story:
First of all, Thank you so much, Ray.
I'm glad that you enjoyed the article.
The only reason I was aware of the temporary move was because I went to the big bear location a few weeks ago to adopt a kitten of my own.
I am unsure about how well lit CMHS is after hours, but I am fairly sure that there is no prominent signs explaining the emergency protocol, which I think could be a boon to the organization should they decide to place a sign in the windows.
I was very glad to learn that the organization has done away with a drop-off fee, which I'm told helped with some of these middle of the night drop offs, though not entirely.
The reason I think it's so important for people to make sure that the animals are safely changed hands particularly has to do with the temporary location of the humane society.
Paris is certainly a busy, busy road.
Actually I know that down the road next to a Casey's there is usually a litter of abandoned cats hanging around a dumpster.
And next to Darryl's auto repair shop behind Subway on the business loop.
There is, of course, the humanitarian desire to feed feral cats, though I have to say that this absolutely does more bad than good.
Feral cats tend to breed outside of their actual means, so, one fed feral cat soon becomes 6, 12, 24. kittens that are undernourished, prey for larger animals, and who tend to die from lack of care and consistent food.
My father is a health officer in New Jersey, an animal lover who I went on many stake-outs out with trying to reign in an out of control feral cat population whose lives are anything but fulfilling. (and can spread diseases)
Although it's true that not all of the cats caught are able to find homes and some may be put to sleep, the fault of this phenomenon really lies in the misguided feeding of feral cats, who will breed a generation of animals that are unable to be properly fed and cared for.
The humane society does its best work by neutering the animals that are brought to them and then trying to find homes for those animals.
I hope that those who read this article will be more likely to call animal control if they have animals to drop off to the humane society after hours.
Before writing this article, i felt a stigma attached to "animal control" though finding out that they have access to the humane society and can perform intakes helped remove this stigma for me.

Here's the article:

Central Missouri Humane Society accepts animals for free
Friday, July 30, 2010 | 3:37 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It doesn't cost anything to safely put animals in the care of the Central Missouri Humane Society.

Instead of dropping an animal off anonymously or after business hours, the proper process, Shelter Relations Coordinator Allison Toth said, can take as little as a few minutes.

The shelter has been taking steps to make it easier for people to drop off animals that they find or cannot care for.

"We're an open door shelter," Toth said. "We will not make you feel guilty; we understand that life happens. We just want what's best for the animals."

These reminders come in light of a recent incident in which five border collie puppies were left on the doorstep of the humane society after hours. By the time volunteers arrived the next morning, four of five of the puppies had died. The fifth is currently alive and doing well in foster care.

Animals left at the humane society during the night are fairly common and it often happens on a weekly basis, Toth said.

She said when an animal is dropped off while they're open, a quick intake form is done on the animal. It varies depending on if the animal is a stray or owned. For strays, a basic breed and approximate age will be assessed and for owned animals, temperament and other details might be asked.

Those who find themselves in an emergency or have an animal to drop off when the shelter is closed, can call animal control at 449-1888. Animal control has access to the humane society's facilities after hours to admit an animal safely.

The Central Missouri Humane Society abolished the $20 fee they previously charged until about three or four months ago, Toth said.

She also said changing from having a fee to asking for a donation helped. Some people who dropped off animals could not afford the fee, but now, some others end up donating more than the $20 fee they used to require.

The Central Missouri Humane Society is temporarily located at Mid-City Lumber Co., 4709 Paris Rd., during renovations of their Big Bear Boulevard location. The shelter is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.