Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lessons Learned

College is all about learning, right? Life is all about learning. Life in D.C. has been very educational. I think I learn something new every day, whether it is useful or not. Even when I am not at my internship I learn something new.

Today I went for a bike ride. I went down 34th street to a part of the Rock Creek trail system. I rode to some place where the trail ended because of construction. I found my way onto the other trails leading to the National Mall. I rode around the tidal basin. I rode past the navy yard (and learned there was a Titanic Memorial in D.C.). I rode past the capitol building. I rode to Union Station where I stopped for lunch. I learned it is a bad idea to do that. Lunch with a long ride ahead of you is a bad idea.

I left Union Station and decided it was time to head back to Georgetown. I learned from the police, "We don't stop for lights here." I rode 19 blocks to Dupont Circle. I sat down there for a rest and learned it is a bad idea to drink a lot of water and sit on a bench in the sun when there are still a few miles to go. I finally got back to my room after a rough ride from Dupont. I learned it was almost 16 miles that I biked today when I checked my GPS.

It was a lot of fun and it is something that most people that visit D.C. probably do not get to do. I got to see a lot of D.C. on the surface without riding a bus or taxi. I did not once have to wait on a bus or a train to get anywhere. I saw buildings that I had never seen before that were interesting. It was nice to see a lot of other people out on bikes as well.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Public Transportation

In Jonesboro we take JETS for public transportation. In DC it is the metro rail or bus. O.K. I probably just confused some people right there. The JETS (Jonesboro Economic Transit System) has very few buses but it is the attempt at public transportation in a small city.

I love the public transit systems in big cities like New York, Chicago and DC. They make life easier. For the most part that is. The rails are great. The buses are O.K. when they actually run, which for some odd reason doesn't always appear to be the case. For instance, tonight it was going to be more than 2 hours before a bus that I wanted to take came through. I found another bus stop that I recognized the route somewhat and took it, not knowing where I would end up.

Of course, what would normally be a 10 minute commute in Arkansas turns into an hour ordeal in the big city. Waiting on the train, getting through the gates, walking to wherever you need to go can all be time consuming. Then there are those occasional malfunctions. Delays for whatever reasons. But on the road there are accidents.

But one thing I have found is a bad idea: certain times of day on certain lines. Sometimes the red line is packed wall to wall and it is very difficult to get on and off a train. Then there is the trying to stand up on the tain whith that many people crammed so close together.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

International Spy Museum

Interesting, entertaining, family-friendly, and interactive all describe the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. It is not one of the free Smithsonian museums, but it is worth the cost.

The first task is to choose a new identity. There are plenty of them to choose from, young and old. After assuming the new identity it is time to embark on the mission.

Using your stealth, crawl through an air vent trying to make as little noise as possible to avoid detection. "Recruits"  read about listening devices and then listen in on conversations elsewhere in the museum because not only do you read about them, they are planted! There are also hidden cameras throughout the museum.

You can listen to encrypted messages and try to decode them. You can watch educational films on devices spies use whether it is to break into a locked room or radio equipment and spy gear.

The museum provides a walk through history. Visitors learn about celebrity spies and how it has been used, even back to the Trojan horse and “Ninjitsu” or Ninjas. Then there is the secret police of Russia, or USSR.

Other films and exhibits talk about modern technology. It makes one think just how hard would it be for something like that to happen.

One of the things that made me think the most was a Donald Duck cartoon. We learn about propaganda in school. We don’t usually get the chance to actually see it. It is interesting to think these cartoonists would make messages like this encouraging higher taxes to support the war effort.

If you are in the area and have time, I would recommend taking the Gallery-Chinatown metro stop and checking out the International Spy Museum yourself. Just remember, if you are thinking of breaking their rules, the spies are watching you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life as an Intern: Washington DC

The first week was amazing! Monday, Danny (the other intern) and I went to Crystal City to meet the boss. I won't go into a lot of detail with where we went or how we did it but we did get lost. Eventually we made it to the office, met the editor and other employees.

Wednesday is the official first day of the internship. Thursday is when it got real interesting though. We finally had our credentials to set up accounts. We got those. Then we also shot photos at a press conference that the staff reporter covered. My picture was chosen and not only did it run on the ARNews page, it even went on the front page of! (Click here to view the story and photo on the front page.)

Friday was our 4-hour day where we did not arrive until 1. I got to start working on my first story, even if I wasn't very productive. For once I even look forward to Monday! Amazing! I am enjoying my internship, class, and DC.

Bellow are some pictures of our apartment.

My bedroom is probably one of the smaller ones but I get it to myself so it isn't a problem.

Monday, June 7, 2010

From "Dry" to "Wet"

Arkansas State University is located in a dry county (they can't sell alcohol within the county limits), and it is a "dry" campus. That means it is against university policies to be in possession of alcohol on the school grounds. But who cares?

Everyone knows there is alcohol all over. It isn't hard to find beer bottles or boxes lying around the dorms. It isn't hard to go to a party on campus and find alcohol. But it is different here at Georgetown. It is not dry. In fact, tomorrow they are having a session on how to throw a party. How do you register it, how do you keep it legal. That was a change.

In other news:

-No internet in my dorm
-Met the internship supervisor
-First day of class went well
-Went to the Pentagon

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Current Events

Well, there are not a lot of current events in my college student life other than preparing for DC. But there are some major national and global concerns arising. There is the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, rising tensions between North and South Korea and the attacks on a relief convoy in Israel.

First off, why is a British Company drilling way over here around the United States? I heard an analogy on the national news one night where the reporter said, "It appears BP is losing credibility faster than they are losing oil." Other articles report how extra help was brought in for the president's visit but when he left, so did they. People are getting sick from cleaning it up, not to mention all the ecosystems being damaged and destroyed. There are worries now that it could reach areas of Florida, and maybe even the Eastern coast. Then there is the threat of hurricanes later in the season. I wonder how this one is going to turn out.

It isn't like there were not enough tensions with North Korea with their nuclear testing, then comes the accusation of sinking a South Korean ship. True or not, I don't know. What I have heard is that if there is a war Japan and maybe another country would support South Korea. An article on MinnPost says that China is leaning toward the South Korean claim on the cause for the sinking. They do not want conflict to break out. Lets hope it doesn't.

More recently in the news, Israel attacked a relief group trying to bring aid into the country. What makes me nervous about this is what our government will do. Will we remain allies with Israel? I don't want to see our countries be enemies.

As for me, it is only a day and a half more until I leave for DC. I am getting very nervous about the schedule. But I look forward to not being bored at home. I look forward mostly to August when I get to go back to ASU.