Friday, August 29, 2008

So Wow

My video for Youth Vote 08 is linked off of the front page of's politics page!! OMG!

It's been up there since about midnight- and it's still up! Even with all the Palin-mania!! It's moved around a little bit, but it's up there! AWESOME.

So apparently they did like my pseudo-pretentious voiceover (it was necessary for the piece, I swear).

What an awesome day!

(Plus this weekend's a great one-two punch for the political world with Obama's freaking crazy awesome speech last night and McCain's ten times more amazing announcement of Palin as his VP today. OMG greatness)

And I get to meet my cousin Galena's baby Gabriella today! I'm so excited!! : )



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Many many thoughts

1. Not getting as much exposure on Youth Vote as I thought I would. I've turned in a story and a video that haven't gotten put up yet. I know it's editorial discretion and they have to make everything work- but it's really frustrating to work on something a long time and then not have it put up. Plus the kids covering youth vote in Denver keep getting put on like CBS and the Early Show and getting huge amounts of exposure- while I'm back here. Not even seeing my name show up for two weeks + at a time. Lame. I have a couple other stories in mind that'll be awesome though. Plus if nothing else, the video I made really made me push my way through iMovie- and now I know it well enough that I don't think the other videos I make will take nearly as long. So it's still a learning experience, even if I'm not necessarily getting my stuff up like I'd like it to be right now.

2. I'm helping live-blog the convention tonight from the JC Convention Watch Party! I'm way excited- planning on sending in pictures and stuff from the fun for the blog.

3. I've been wondering about something- every story I've been writing for this, I've been trying to seek out a variety of opinion for. A mix of liberal, conservative, and undecided. But the truth is- even just going around randomly asking people- I usually find 5 liberals to 1 conservative. (at least so far anyways)
Is it more ethical for me to portray the quote/political leanings percentages exactly as they are when I talk to people, or is it more ethical for me to even it out so there're the same amounts of opinions in there? What is the best way of showing opinions and expressing the political climate at Mason?
I haven't come to a decision yet. It's something I worry about- I know all us young'un reporters are seen as leaning liberal anyways- so I don't want to give people that idea when I'm just trying to show what I'm seeing and hearing out there from students.

4. A horrible textbook I have to read through for my Writing Across the Media class gave awesome tips on grammar and spelling today. But it gave me a really fun new fact to tell people.
It's from a little section on past efforts to reform spelling in the English language.

"One of the leaders of spelling reform was Robert McCormick, who in the 1930s ordered his newspaper, the Chicago Tribune to use shortened forms of words such as tho, iland, frate, thru, and jaz...In 1975, twenty years after McCormick died, the Tribune reverted to using generally accepted spellings. McCormick was not the only person to try. President Theodore Roosevelt and writer Mark Twain were also advocates of simplified spelling rules."


5. I've gone vegetarian. At least for now. I read Skinny Bitch- an incredibly cool diet book about what foods are actually made of and the processes that make them- and now every time I think about eating meat, I think about how it was killed and formed and all the nasty things that might be in it. So I haven't eaten any meat since Sunday. (I actually really love fish, turkey, and beef, so this is a pretty big deal to me) I'm not certain if it's going to be permanent -I think so- but at the very least, I'm not going to make myself feel guilty if I eat meat occasionally. I'm Texan- the thought of giving up my daddy's brisket or my madre's homemade chili makes me very sad.

We'll see what happens.



They put up my VIDEO!!!! : D

btw voiceovers are way harder than they sound. i kept rerecording it to try to sound more interesting and less pretentious. my goal was- npr sounding without the snobbiness and anti-semitism.



Am I a horrible person if my favorite character on South Park is the devil? I just think he's so funny- his cute little need to have a loving relationship- his very 90's examination of his life and values- his cutely decorated house and his awesome 'my super-sweet sixteen' halloween party. Ever episode he's in just makes me really happy.

Yay Satan (in South park, not in real life).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Anxiety and Reporting

I love reporting. It's my life. I love talking to people and getting to hear their stories and their viewpoints- I love compiling it all together in an article at the end. I love seeing my work in print- I love getting feedback.

However, even now, going into my 6th year of full-time reporting, I get really bad anxiety sometimes when I try to interview people. It used to be from calling interview subjects on the phone- working at pretty much kicked that out of me, but I still get nervous sometimes.

Currently, I'm having huge "interview block" with a video I'm trying to make for the Youth Vote '08 Blog. I just need to walk up to people and ask them questions about their political views while filming it- it's not like I haven't done it before. But for some reason, today- I can't. I've just been inwardly freaking out- I can't even talk to my friends about it for some reason.

I think maybe it's because I'm a bit unsure on the question I'm supposed to be asking people. So I don't know if it's that or past problems, but I'm just freezing up right now.

It's not fun- this feeling. It's better than it used to be. Like, sophomore year, for some reason, I didn't have any trouble with this- my first news story ever involved me knocking on people's doors and talking to them about their concerns about the noise the marching band was making in the morning. But it grew and grew- Senior year, there were times that I went into hysterical crying fits at the thought of calling someone and interviewing them over the phone.

I don't know where it comes from- I guess I worry that I won't do well, or that I'll mess up- I'll get the wrong answers for my story or they'll think I'm an idiot. It doesn't make sense.

I know I'm not the only one though who deals with this- reporters have to go up and talk to random strangers all the time- much more than the average person. I wonder how many professional journalists now have anxiety over interviewing.

Since this is what I'm planning to do the rest of my life, I'm going to have to figure it out. -sigh-

Mrewh. Going to hang out with Aram before my next class in an effort to make me feel better.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Comments Hurt Sometimes

Mmmm man. Some things never stop hurting.

I wrote a brief first-person piece of my experiences following an anti-war protest around in D.C. back in the spring for Connect2mason. I really tried to convey the feeling of joy and excitement in the air- to convey the sensations to my readers of what it was actually like to be there.

I didn't include a single political thought or idea in it that was mine- though I said I enjoyed the protest, I didn't include a single comment about whether or not I agreed with the protesters or anyone else out there that day. And that's because I have the ability to separate my personal thoughts from my work- something apparently others can't even conceive.

Yet I had multiple commentors accuse me of horrible liberal bias- including one who said that by observing that the policemen at the protest looked "bored and tired," I was disrespecting them and considered them "piggies." (This is the furthest from the truth possible- I respect policemen so much for what they do for our society. Though they used to scare me -I had an affinity for getting speeding tickets in high school- they have become some of my best sources on stories and the greatest help to myself and my friends in times of trouble. I thought including their reaction in the story showed the effect the protesters were having on the normal inhabitants of the city and the police- not necessarily a positive thing for the protest.)

I cried at the time. I was not allowed to address the comments personally, because it would've been entirely unprofessional, and possibly started an online war my boss (wisely) did not want me to get involved in. I went back to read over the comments again today (I don't know why, apparently I'm masochistic or something)- and it hurt just as much.

I work very hard to keep bias out of my stories. In fact, I don't even cover certain topics that I know I'll be too biased to report on.

I try at this point not even to write about my ideas on politics and political issues online- it's just a bad idea. If I write something that's even slightly related to anything I've ever made a comment on online, there are cries of BIAS. I don't particularly like this, especially since I'm doing as best as I can to keep bias out of my stories- which is why I've gone through my online identity the past few weeks in an effort to remove any political idea or statement I've ever made.

So many people make comments on stories not even thinking about the fact that there's a PERSON behind those words. A person with emotions just like everyone else.

Now, I'm not going to go out there and defend every word I say. It's damaging and a waste of time.

But you know, sometimes I just get scared when a story I write goes up online. You'd think after years of my stories getting published and posted I'd be used to it, but I'm not. Criticism and accusations still hurt and sting every- single- time.


So the UWire Youth Vote '08 Blog launched

I found the link through another blogger online- it's supposed to be cross-posted on and, but I haven't been able to find it on either site. There's been like, one comment- I bet the views are really low. That sucks. I hope we get more promotion and stuff soon- the exposure is really all the payment we're getting for our work here.

It's a good variety of stories to start- some satire, some columns, a few newsy pieces (like mine). I'm not exactly sure why my story got pushed down like 4 stories, as I would consider a piece on the VP technology announcement fairly important, but oh well, I don't run the blog.

I'm working on some other stuff currently- this week, minors involved in politics. People who live and breathe and work politics, yet can't vote yet. I've found some cool Dems willing to talk to me- 17-year old communications director of the young democrats of Virginia Kenton Ngo, who's been involved since he was 12, and Thomas Senecal, the 15-year old founder of Teens for Clinton. However, I'm still definitely working on finding some minor Republicans. I wish I had better contacts in the Republican world- it feels like I'm so much more linked into the Democratic community then the Republican community just because I know so many more Dems. It worries me though- I really want to make sure I'm looking at all sides of the story and talking to absolutely everyone involved- no bias in my blog entries if I can help it.

I just reread over that- it sounds mildly creepy that I'm looking for minor Republicans. I swear, it's really just for an interesting news story.

Up next week will be a story/video looking at international students and their views on the election. It's no secret that the presidential election will affect people far beyond the United States. I remember the day I was in Germany and Obama's win in New Hampshire was plastered across the front page of all the papers. It's clear, though sad, that the world is watching the U.S. a lot more than we're watching them.

Since I have my gorgeous iMac now, I'm going to start doing videos with vigor here soon. I personally would like to have more like 2 or 3 pieces up a week rather than just the one- I think that's a decent turnout for a politics blogger. Plus I just think there're so many interesting topics to cover- I don't want to limit myself.

I'm on Obama veep watch, ready to bolt in case Governor Tim Kaine is announced as the choice. As the only Youth Vote '08 correspondent in Virginia, I'm probably in the best position to cover it. I'm just going back and forth to whether I should start doing some preliminary work now (e-mailing bloggers I plan to get comments from, etc.) or waiting until the announcement's out. Hm. Kaine's kinda a polarizing figure for many folks- a lot of people who supported him when he was elected don't necessarily like him very much right now. I think it'll be an interesting piece, if I get to write it. I'm hoping I can still write something even if he doesn't get it, along the lines of a "why wasn't he chosen?" piece. I'm not betting on anyone- it would just be much more beneficial for me as a Virginia politics writer if he was chosen.

Next Monday, I start school. Lord, help me. I'm taking 5 classes, all in history or journalism so I can't schlep through any of them (I make a policy of getting high grades in my major/minor classes); doing the politics blog thang; working part-part-time for still (despite my parents' wishes, I really would like to keep a toe in the door of WPNI as long as possible- plus it actually pays); working as a peer minister for Lutheran Campus Ministry at Mason, and playing harp in the orchestra. Ugh. It's going to be insane.

I really wish I could quit the orchestra, but I'm shackled by a music scholarship and people's expectations (plus we're playing Firebird this year, which has two harp parts, so even though there's another harpist coming in, I have to play). I'm a music minor now- haven't been a major since spring break Freshman year- and honestly, I'm considering dropping the minor too. Music just isn't my passion at all, and it's pretty much my last priority. And I don't feel guilty about that- not too much. Why should I expend time on something I can live quite happily without when I'd much rather be pursuing a story to the end of time? What I do feel guilty about is the music scholarship I somehow get because my instrument's taller than me (and rare, okay, whatever) when I don't care, don't practice, and do everything possible to avoid it. There are so many other kids in the department that actually deserve it. Plus I just really don't enjoy orchestra anymore- the director can act completely insane and is a total jerk to me at times- like my every thought should revolve around music. I know for a fact he's said negative things about me in front of the orchestra when I haven't been there. I've actually talked to my parents about it at this point, and I think I'm going to ask the department to drop the scholarship, since there's another harpist here now and I'm planning on going abroad in the spring anyways. It'll decrease that weight off my shoulder anyways.

Whew, I can rant, can't I? I really do like harp, just as a hobby, not as a life- I much prefer my rock harp playing- which I'm completely in charge of- rather than the orchestra music and practices which suck my soul out and leave me miserable.

Hmmmm Back to Work.



This shirt is totally for all my friends with peanut-allergies.

Monday, August 18, 2008

So I bought my Mac

She's beautiful.

I know it sounds CRAZY to personify a computer- but...she's definitely a lady. The sleek lines- the pretty features- she's a sweet sweet lady.

She's a 24-inch iMac- I got the top of the line one and then had the guy add even more RAM- I now have 4 gb on my computer. I think it'll take me a little while longer to fill up this computer's memory than I did with my last one. 

The screen is humongous. Like- I feel like I'm constantly falling into a completely different Apple-ruled world. It's huge and gorgeous and yeah.

I named her Beauty. The free iPod touch that came with the system is Lumiere. I  now have mucho awesome music on my Mp3 player- my wonderful boyfriend helped me put it together last night and figured out EXACTLY what one CD would make me most happy to have on there- the PennyLoafer's Quicksand (amazing a-cappella rock group from University of Pennsylvania- Gosh I want to see them in concert). 

I can't WAIT to start taking and editing videos on this machine- it's going to be awesome. The graphics are ridiculously awesome. Even South Park looks better on it. 

I've also moved into my apartment at Mason now- in Northern Neck. It's a really really big space- well okay, everything's big except the room I'm actually sharing with someone. It's not like, tiny or anything, but it's not as large as I was hoping. I mean, we could fit an elephant in the common room and a couple camels in the kitchen, but my room would maybe take a couple ponies at most. I'm the only one here for now though- early arrival and Kate's in Ohio visiting family- so I'm taking advantage of the huge space to go through all my stuff bit by bit- finding out what I want to keep, what needs to get thrown out, what I want to donate, etc. 

I looked around today to see if the UWire Youth Vote 08 blog has launched yet- I can't find it anywhere, so we'll see. My story on Obama's VP announcement via text is supposed to be one of the first on the site. Link will be posted as soon as I can find the dratted thing.

Should probably get ready for work now- wee.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Will my boyfriend dump me if I buy a Mac?

This is a serious question. I mean, I know Aramaic loves the ground I walk on and all, but his distaste for all things Mac is truly epic sometimes.

I've seen him in action. He and my friend Dane used to get in fights about PC vs. Mac alll the time (of course they fought about everything else as well, but that's a whole 'nother story). I'm pretty sure he thinks Steve Jobs is the devil. (I don't think so, but I found so many hilarious depictions of Jobs and Macs as evil incarnate that I've posted them throughout this blog)

But I'm about to buy a new computer (my daddy's buying it, technically, but I have plans to pay him back for it). My old computer is a ratty old Dell I've had since senior year of high school that works fine until I manage to fill it up too much with photos and files and such. Then it freaks out. It's bad, but it's still pretty functional as is.

The only thing is- as a blogger for UWire Youth Vote '08, I plan on releasing videos at least once or twice a week. I need something I can edit videos on. I can use the computers at Student Media and at Star Labs, but I don't want to have to depend on that- this blog is lasting at least 12 weeks- if I'm making 12-30 videos, I don't want to be tied to someone else's computer.

If I try to put video editing software on my current computer, I'm pretty sure it will resort to the ancient Japanese ritual of hara-kiri.

Thus, I'm getting a new computer. I need one with lots of memory, that I can edit videos on and also for...everything else I currently do with a computer.

Despite always having a PC before, I'm inclining towards a Mac at this point. I've used Macs extensively for journalism throughout the years, and I enjoy using them. They've never given me a problem (except for the crazy network shit, but that's another story). They're simple to use- I'm most familiar with iMovie as an editing software- and for what I'm planning on doing, that's okay. I don't need crazy capabilities- I just need to be able to put clips together into a fun little video.

So after discussing it with my dad, I'm looking at a few different desktop Macs. They're cheaper than the laptops and offer the same capabilities or more- plus I think I'm going to keep my ratty Dell around for traveling purposes.

The decision now is- iMac or Mac Pro? I don't know if I need a Mac Pro right now- but this is definitely the last computer I want to buy for a while. Hopefully it'll get me out of college and into the professional world a few years.

But I'm terribly nervous that Aramaic won't be able to look at me once I've bought a Mac. That would be distressing.

So people should persuade him not to dump me if I buy a Mac. Because I'm buying one (they're pretty!). And I like him. And I feel like those two situations (me buying a Mac, us dating) shouldn't have to be mutually exclusive.

Now check out this uber-cool portrait of Steve Jobs made entirely of Apple products.

I don't know who the hell did this but it's incredibly funny.



I was informed by Mr. ZS that in no way shape or form is he going to dump me for buying a Mac, but he may make fun of me a bit. He'll be coming with me to buy it.

: ) Weeee!

Monday, August 11, 2008

What I've Learned About WPNI

People here are obsessed with pandas. OBSESSED. The amount of panda-related e-mails in my wpni e-mail account is truly astounding sometimes.

Apparently no one here has nut allergies, since we have free nut-related products on Mondays and Fridays. We are so not an allergy friendly office- I've told Kiel to stay very very far away.

Addendum to above- journalists eat a lot. There's always food around here from some cook-off or birthday party or farewell cake.

I think all the eating might be because no one here sleeps much.

Everyone I've met here has a sense of humor. Awesome.

And yes. Pandas.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Coldplay is Awesome

So Aramaic and I went to the Coldplay concert tonight at Verizon Center and it was- freaking awesome. One of the gosh-darn happiest concerts I've ever been to.

Here are some initial thoughts- I'll probably write more later.

First opening band- Juniper Lane- was really good. I love a good rock band with a lady lead singer with an amazing voice. Second opening band- forgot the name- but it was horrible. Like if you combined some 80s style with a bit of reggae and rap and some really weird shit, you'd get it. They actually weren't too awful, but like, everyone was expecting and wanting Coldplay, and this chick with this big band came out and we had no fucking clue who she was. And the music was absolutely nothing like anything Coldplay. It just went on entirely too long- two songs in, I was praying for the band to leave.

Anyways, Coldplay was amazing- terribly good in concert. They really know how to put on a show. There were awesome special effects- floating balls around the stadium that had videos playing across them- laser lights, cool videos in the background, and towards the end, they dumped probably a ton of confetti on the crowd during Lovers in Japan. The concert was humongous- I mean, really the place was sold out- but they managed to make it feel almost intimate at places. Chris Martin and co. did the big pieces in huge special effects craziness on the gargantuan main stage, but also did a number of songs out on the side stages they had running out into the audience. At one point they even ran out into the crowd and performed from a tiny stage they had set up within it. Some songs got expanded and added onto (there was a cool version of god put a smile upon your place with some awesome guitar effects in the back), while others were pared down completely. The acoustic version of the Scientist was really beautiful.

The band's personality really made the concert what it was though. They rocked out in their rockingest way, but also laughed at themselves easily. Martin commented on stage during a final rendition of 'Yellow' which was just him and the guitar, "man, i really fucked that up," in his cute british accent, and when he redid it, he kept making comments to himself (in the mic) like, "yeah, that's how it's supposed to be, much better."

The best, most amazing part though, was after the acoustic take on the Scientist- Martin had played a bit of harmonica during it and commented, "why does every singer in the world think they can play harmonica? it's like, they get famous and then they're like, hm, i think i should take up the harmonica now. i can't play it for shit." and then proceeded to announce that to balance out his own ego, he was giving the show over to the drummer for a bit to do whatever he wanted. and then the drummer took a guitar and sang a cute little ditty (i could barely hear him unfortunately), with martin playing harmonica ironically.

It was just incredibly happy and awesome. : )


woot. out.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Only I could find a way to get hurt by Jello

I somehow just managed to slice through the top of one of my fingers with a disposable Jello container. How on earth did I do that?

Ow. It hurts. It's like a large paper cut. Eckjasf.

I'm playing tonight at Twist in Manassas- nervous as hell but excited. Some of it will be old stuff I've done, some of it will be newer. It should be an experience none the less.

I've done a ton of stories lately on you should go look.

Also, yelp is addicting. In one day, I wrote 9 reviews.

I got picked as a UWire Youth Vote '08 blogger- I'm psycho excited. I'm going to be doing a couple of videos for them every week- lots of word on the street stuff, interviewing people about different issues, etc. It's going to be a ton of work but really awesome- can't wait to start.

I should find a way to bandage up this cut I got from the jello container (still- wtf?) and go practice.