Talladega, baby!

I’ve lived in Alabama almost two years. In that time, there have been two NASCAR races at Talladega SuperSpeedway. I told myself I wouldn’t leave this state without seeing a race. I even put it on the 101 in 1,001 list!

download_20160501_095235-2All that was to say, I went to ‘Dega, baby!

Some friends from work joined me and it was, honestly, an incredible time. We tailgated a little in the parking lot. There are campgrounds around the racetrack. People spend the entire week camping before the race. It’s sort of crazy.

Of course, we had to dress the part. It is Talladega, after all. Seriously, though, you could wear whatever you want to the race. You’ll see it all there. Rednecks, normal people, preppy guys in khakis and boat shoes. There is one thing that you will want to either buy or bring with you:

EARPLUGS.

IMG_20160501_103755Y’all. It is ridiculously loud. The sound is like I’ve nothing I’ve heard. Just absolutely deafening. You wouldn’t think that sitting as high up as we were, it would be that loud. It was. The race, itself, was pretty damn interesting. Yes, they’re going in a circle. But the jockeying for position is actually fun to watch. That, and the crashes.

The crashes are pretty spectacular.

Everyone who crashed was not severely injured. The crashes looked worse than they actually were. For a place that only hosts two main events a year, the SuperSpeedway looks great. There are a few events during the summer that they host. Concerts and such.

But, the races are the real deal!

Also, we saw a shaved bigfoot!
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I forgot about this

It’s pretty apparent that I forgot about my website. The last post was on September 11, 2015! (Check it out) This is the story of my life, always forgetting something. I’ve felt the urge to write, so maybe I’ll use this space that I pay for each year more often (no promises).

I do have one thing to cross off the #101in1001!

Buy a GoPro

GoproI got one for Christmas from my parents! I haven’t really used yet. Hoping to get out this weekend and try it out. Need to get a few more accessories for it, too.

I did make a video for my friend Shel’s class at Texas A&M. I usually speak each year about being a reporter. I tried to do my best “YouTuber” impression. It’s really hard!

I won’t be sharing the video here. It wasn’t the best quality. Despite shooting and editing video for a living, I struggled HARD with putting it together.

Not my finest moment as a video journalist.

Beyond that, I’ve actually got a personal trainer and have been going twice a week for almost three months! Starting to make some pretty substantial progress, including deadlifting 275 lbs! (Check out the video here!)

It was a pretty proud moment for my trainer, Lia.

I’m working on some other stuff as summer approaches. Hope to update this more frequently!

September 11th and the days after

I get distressed about the state of my world. Days like today only remind me of the depths humanity can sink. Then I remember September 12th.

And the 13th.

I remember  the days after, when we learned, all over again, what it meant to be an American. When we started to realize how fragile our freedom is and that nothing is guaranteed. We talked to our neighbors. We volunteered. We spoke softer, cried on a friend’s shoulder and smiled. We would not let our nation be torn apart by terror.

As the son of a firefighter, I can tell you that it’s not just 9-11 that strikes fear in me. That fear is present every day. Living three states away only makes the anxiety worse. I love my father and called him this morning to tell him how proud I was of him. I do it every September 11th. Each year, it gets a little more emotional for me, and for him. It’s never a long conversation.

The older I get, the more reflective I become on what 9-11 means to me. It is the defining event for my generation. I remember that day vividly; where I was, who I was with and what was said. The world that emerged from the smoke and rubble that day is one that is vastly different from the one before it. No longer do we have the ignorance to hide our faces and think the world is a happy place. It is far from happy.

Today, I hope for the same thing I hope for every September 11th. I hope we can speak softer to each other. I hope we can talk to our neighbors and get to know our communities. I hope we can understand the awesome power that comes from being united. We can have our differences. In fact, we must have differences. That doesn’t mean we can’t love and respect each other. Those differences should not keep us from learning about each other.

No rhetoric today. No name calling. No finger pointing.

If we can do that today, on September 11th, then let’s try for September 12th.

And the 13th.

Learning to be a better journalist

I can cross another goal off the list!

Attend a workshop to better myself in my career.

ABA2015 CrewSaturday, I went to the 2015 Alabama Broadcasters Association Conference over in Hoover. It was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to hear Al Tompkins from the Poynter Institute speak about all things journalism. There were four sessions that day with topics ranging from social media to mobile journalism.

We had a good showing from the station. Photographer Marlon and I stayed the whole day, while others filtered in and out. I took copious notes. Some of the information, especially on social media, I’ve heard before. It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s perspective on how quickly that medium is evolving.

Al TompkinsAl Tompkins was great! He had a lot of really great information about open records in Alabama, where to find original source information and tons of awesome apps that can help me tell a story. I’m hoping that in the next few weeks I can start to utilize these great tools.

This was the first conference I’ve been to where I walked away with a mission. I need to work hard on delivering content on all platforms; broadcast, web, mobile, social. It can be overwhelming, for sure. Reporters are already asked to do a lot. I shoot all my own stories, write and edit them and post them to the web most days. When you add in tweeting, Facebook posts, Instagram videos, Snapchats, interactive web stuff, I wonder when I’ll have time to sleep!

ABA2015 NotesThe most important lesson I learned from #ABA2015 was to be flexible. From new platforms to new technology, my job changes almost daily. All I have to do to keep up is have an open mind and willingness to learn!

What things have you learned to keep growing in your job? Have you ever attended a work conference? I want to hear about it!

New things in my life

I took a stroll back through the 101 in 1001 list and realized I need to make some updates!

First: I bought a new vehicle!

11295938_10101837153481835_4443959928262182393_nBack in June, I traded in Timmy the Tacoma for Finn the 4 Runner. The dealership back in Bryan, TX, made me a deal that was too good to refuse. So I peddled as fast as I could back to Texas and traded him in.

So, because some of the goals I had were oriented around the truck, I’m going to either remove them or modify them for Finn.

Second: I got a personal trainer!

That I haven’t seen in almost three months! I know. I can hear the scolding looks from all of you. I have had zero motivation to go to the gym. It’s money that is going to waste each month for a membership. It needs to be a priority. So, any tips on making the gym matter would be greatly appreciated!

Third: I built a coffee table!

11750672_10101926992094535_5460802185852454500_nWith a little help from my friend Brad, I have a coffee table made out of pallets. I love it! It didn’t quite turn out the way I expected, but it only cost $13. It definitely has character, which is what I want with the furniture in my loft. I have a couple other pieces of furniture I want to build, too.

So, that’s a quick update on me! What have you been up to recently?

Hello again!

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted here and I’m hoping to fix that. I just check the 101 in 1001 list and I’ve got some updating to do! Hope you’ll come back and see what I’ve been up to!

-Michael

Making my way downtown.

wpid-20150319_101648.jpgSo, I moved to downtown Birmingham in mid-March. I love it! I have a small, one-bedroom loft with exposed brick and 80 foot ceilings (not really 80 feet). I’m close to the highway I take to work. There are convenient ramps to get on and off. I wish there were more food options, but that’s a work in progress.

It is the closest to my dream living situation. A downtown loft has been a goal of mine for years. There’s just one catch.

IT IS NOISY.

wpid-20150405_000850.jpgI know what you’re thinking. “Michael, you live downtown. It’s not the suburbs. It’s loud down there.” You’re right, but this noise is on a whole different level than what I’ve experienced. First, I have thin windows. I’ve already called the landlord to see what can be done as far as sealing and caulking. Right now, I have no couch and no rugs. I know those will help and I’m working on getting some. Also, to the people who ride their crotch rocket motorcycles through downtown? You are not cool. Those things sound hideous and damn near knock things off the wall in my place. Please, take your overgrown children’s toy and go play somewhere else.

Outside of boarding up the windows, what else can I do? I’m calling on the hive mind! Have you lived in a noisy place? What did you do to keep some of the noise out? I know I’ll never eliminate all of the noise. That’s not what I’m looking for. I just want to cut it down a bit. At this point, it’s hard to watch TV in my living room without having to turn it up so loud that when the traffic dies down, I feel like a crazy person.

I met Oprah

wpid-20150118_191925.jpgI never really thought I’d say those words, much less be able to say I interviewed Oprah. That’s like meeting the President, only bigger in some aspects. She and some of the stars from the movie “Selma” were in Selma, AL, for a day long celebration of the movie on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend.

It was a really special day for that town. 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the March to Montgomery that Dr. King led. The film’s director, producers (of which Oprah is one of) and a few celebrities came back to town. At the red carpet premiere, I had the chance to talk with John Legend, Common, David Oyelowo and Ms. Winfrey.

wpid-20150118_1926130.jpgEveryone has asked what it was like to meet Oprah. Well, it was loud and lasted about five minutes. Red carpets aren’t exactly exclusive. She was warm and gracious (everyone was, actually). She makes you feel very comfortable and relaxed. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. She’s an impeccable dresser (obviously). I always try to repeat in my head that celebrities are just people. It helps bring them down from the pedestal that society puts them on and makes interviewing them easier. At least, for me, it does. Oprah is an incredible person.

wpid-20150118_191311.jpgI only had two questions to ask (her handlers originally said just one), so I wanted them to be good. I asked her about the significance of being in Selma ahead of MLK Day. She said that Dr. King is smiling. She could feel his presence when they marched to the bridge earlier in the day. My second question related to her and the cast speaking to students at Selma High School. I wanted to know what she hoped to get out of the experience and from the film. Oprah’s response was, “That’s a great question. (pokes me in the chest) Great question.”

When Oprah tells you that you asked a great question…

A video posted by Michael Oder (@tvsmichaeloder) on Jan 18, 2015 at 11:13pm PST

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When Oprah Winfrey, a woman who has interviewed everyone under the sun, says you asked a great question, there’s no greater feeling. She could have said that to every reporter on that carpet that night. It still doesn’t take away that she said it to me, too.

It helped that I had all day to think of what I would ask, too.

Interview a celebrity.

I actually interviewed four! Didn’t expect to mark that one off the #101in1001 list so quickly!

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