So that's why I rarely get up in time to see the balloon launch in Central Park at 6 am on Memorial Day. Three years ago a friend talked me into it and I was there bright and early, well early anyway. We made it to the balloon launch site at 6:30 am. The balloons were laid out on the ground and the balloonists were preparing to launch them, but the wind was blowing in the wrong direction and would have sent them into Mount Diablo, so the launch was cancelled. It was disappointing, but I bought a nice hat from one of the booths on the way out so it wasn't a total loss (for me anyway).
Last year four balloons were launched, and I saw them flying off into the distance when I woke up at 9:30 am. So this year I decided to try again. I didn't get to sleep until 2:30 am and woke up at 5:50 am, but I launched myself to the event with camera ready.
As I was walking from the parking lot at Iron Horse Middle School to the launch site a man in front of me muttered that he didn't think the balloons would launch this morning. "Why?" I asked him. "They won't take off in the fog," he said. I said, "The last time I came out the wind was in the wrong direction and they didn't take off."
"Do you only come when they don't launch?" he asked. Oh, he's a clever one I thought. "I hope I'm not a jinx," I told him. He commented that this is the wrong time of year for a wind festival, saying there isn't enough wind for the professional kite flyers and the field where the events are held isn't the best location for them.
I told him he should attend a City Council meeting and ask the Council in Public Comment to change dates of the Art and Wind Festival to a better time of year. I didn't get his name for this blog story, but I hope he's not just a windbag (I couldn't help myself).
When I got to the field the balloons were not in sight. Parks Division Manager Esther Lucas, sounding much too chipper for 6:30 am, told the crowd that the balloons would not take off today because the wind was blowing towards Mount Diablo. Lucas said they would inflate two of the balloons on the ground for us, so we could see how they do it. Did I jinx the launch again this year? I promise not to attend the launch next year, so the balloons will fly again.
I was planning to write the story about jinxing the balloon launch for my Friday blog, but Express Editor, Jessica Lipsky, asked me to write a news story on the non-launch for the front page. That worked out well because I was able to post all of the great photos I took. I can post only one small photo with a blog entry.
These two stories on the same subject also provide good examples of the differences between a news story and my blog story. The news story is all about the balloons and why they didn't take off. My blog story is all about me jinxing the balloon launch. One is about inflating the balloons and the other is about inflating my ego.
Remember that when you tune into a "news" program on TV or radio and it is hosted by a news"star." Chris Mathews and Bill O'Reilly are not reporters, so don't expect the news to be presented objectively or accurately by either them. They are on an ego trip whether they blow in from the right or the left of your TV screen.
Most Americans can't seem to tell the different between news and opinion. In an earlier thread on Measure W, Seth Adams criticized me for giving my opinions about Measure W in my blog. That's where my opinions belong.
He wouldn't acknowledge that the Editors of the Contra Costa Times also write opinions in their Editorials. These are not factual stories and they are not news, they are opinions. Just because the CC Times editorial staff has many years of experience in the newspaper industry (yes it is a business), that doesn't make them less opinionated than I or anyone else writing a letter to the press or a reply to this blog.
Years ago I started a gourmet food business in Morro Bay, CA. I made and sold fruit sauces and catsups. The local newspaper had an advertising supplement featuring women business owners. For about $150 I bought a 2" square ad with my photo and a description of my business.
I was surprised (and dismayed) that many people complemented me on the nice story about me in the paper. It was an Ad. I paid for it. It's one thing to confuse opinions for news, but an ad? That's a little scary.