Friday, July 30, 2010

TFAS Alumni

Today was the official end of an amazing eight weeks doing just as The Fund for American Studies phrase says, "Live. Learn. Intern." We wrapped up today with the program "graduation." Tonight is the party which I may or may not be able to attend.

It has been an amazing eight weeks. It went by so fast and seemed like such a short amount of time. When I think back at all I was able to do though, I realize how much I really did in that small amount of time... There was a bike tour of the city, some geocaching, revisiting a few of the monuments and Arlington Cemetery, seeing a few monuments I hadn't seen before, doing a night tour of the monuments, art museums, white house, capital, Newseum, Library of Congress, National Archives, National Geographic, National Zoo, Spy Museum, Makiykumanta, and other things. It was a full eight weeks.

I was able to make new friends, and do some networking. I was able to learn a lot from my classes an internship. I just wish it could have been a little longer. It will be nice to see all my Arkansas friends in a few weeks though.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Calling

 I knew today would be a rough day going in to work this morning. As I said in the previous blog, I am not sure whether I am cut out to be a journalist or not. I'm not smart enough to do all of this technical writing. I'm often vague because I do not fully understand something myself and do not want to convey something that is not accurate.

I got to work this morning and the editor called me in. I expected it. He had told me yesterday we would talk about the story in the morning. I knew at that point it wasn't good. I felt it was a good story for what I knew. Part of the problem ended up being some vague areas. Others he just wanted examples. Either way it is a little discouraging because I do not feel like I am improving.

I am alright covering a meeting or event where there is nothing technical. But technology and things of that nature just aren't my thing. That is one thing I have learned this summer. And again, I do not know where God is calling me. After leaving his office I desperately just wanted some comfort in God's word; I wanted to be alone with him. Of course that isn't an option. We are in an open office space. And we are in a city. But at lunch break I went outside to the park behind the office.

I had lunch and looked up bible 911 on mobile internet. That is a list of different verses for different situations. I scrolled down, looking for discouraged and then found, "When work has you discouraged..........Psalm 126," so I went to biblegateway.com and looked it up.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. ~Psalm 126:5
That helped me a lot. I got out of it that I should persevere. God will use it. God will bless the effort. Then tonight I read the following chapter.
Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. ~ Psalm 127:1-2

I'm not even going to try and comment. All I have to say is God is amazing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Change of Major?

Often college students enter without an idea what to major in. Some declare a major and decide to change it before they get too far in. Others change it a year from graduation and are delayed.

I was one of those who declared a major coming in. I was majoring in Journalism and minoring in Spanish. That is still the case, although I used a lot of electives for Spanish and have decided to double major. It means an extra semester, but who cares.

There has not been a semester where I don't think whether I am on the right path. I got from hating it one day to liking it the next and back to hating it. My internship has showed me that even in the real world, it is often the same way. I've enjoyed writing some of the softer stories. I have really enjoyed feature writing which is something I used to hate. But almost every news story I have written has had to have major modifying.

I have heard that some of editors at my school newspapers did not like my writing but I won't take them seriously. They're just students themselves. Others say they like it. My plan is to talk to the editor on Wednesday and ask him if he feels I have improved much since starting. If his answer is no, or just a little, I feel I should reconsider where I am heading. It may involve talking to more than one person.

I may end up being one of those people that change their majors late in the game, but lucky for me, I have a second major to fall back on. I may continue both and have a communications background, but maybe this is God's telling me that Journalism isn't the field he has in store for me. I guess I will find out soon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Newseum

Whether a journalist, a history buff or just an average tourist the Newseum, located on 6th and Pennsylvania in downtown Washington, D.C. is a must see. Some exhibits convey a lot of emotion, so much that one even has tissues nearby.

Washington is filled with history, but this museum has so much history stored in it. Through copies of old newspapers, documentaries, and even a 4-D movie the museum documents events all the way back to the first newspapers, before D.C. was the capital.

The museum advises visitors to go to the concourse level, one floor below the entry level. After viewing that floor visitors go on an express, glass elevator to floor 6. My fun began at the concourse.

The first thing I did was watch an introductory film/documentary. In the film they went all the way back to when the government was based in Philadelphia. It talked about how important a free press is to society.


 The first thing I did was watch an introductory film/documentary. In the film they went all the way back to when the government was based in Philadelphia. It talked about how important a free press is to society.

After the documentary I got to spend some time in an exhibit about the fall of communism in Europe. Items on exhibit included a toppled statue of a communist leader. (It was not Saddam Hussein.) Another was a pen used to sign over the Soviet Unions nuclear weapons to Russia.


The biggest exhibit in this area was of the Berlin Wall. They had a small piece for visitors to touch (top left). The information talked about how there was graffiti on the west side of the wall which is still partially visible now. Another part of the exhibit had a large segment of the wall and what appeared to be a guard tower or something; there was a door in this part. The walls were lined with headlines from that period including how people were escaping or died trying.



The FBI exhibit was also located on the concourse level. I found it very interesting. It had information about some of the cases in which the FBI was involved. One of the most interesting to me was the Unabomber, short for Universities and Airlines bomber-- they are the ones he targeted. He wrote a very long letter and told the two papers he sent it to, the Washington Post and New York Times, if they published it, his reign of terror would end.

After considering it and some convincing by the authorities , the Washington Post ran the story. The plan worked and someone recognized information in the story. The bomber was captured in a cabin in Montana. Another case exhibited was that of a cult in Texas. The FBI was in a 51-day standoff before the compound caught fire. The FBI received a lot of criticism.

A lot of other information was available about different agents and cases. I found the previous two to be some of the most interesting, even though it was all interesting.

After visiting the concourse level, I went to floor one. That is where the emotional journey began. The main exhibit here was Pulitzer Prize-winning photos. Some of them were "pretty." Some of them were "funny." Some of them were "frightening," or "disturbing." Others were plain "sad."

Some of the photos almost brought me to tears. Some of the photos I remember seeing were of the World Trade Center on 9/11, victims from the Columbine shooting, and a woman with her arms wrapped around a headstone, crying.

I was unable to stay at that exhibit long. I went on to the 4-D movie. It was an interesting experience with a lot of good information too. Moving seats, special effects and pictures that jump of the screen help tell the story of Journalism. The film is only 15 minutes and unable to cover a lot. Two of the people I remember from the film are Nelly Bly and Edward R. Murrow.

The film shows Bly as she becomes the first female "detective" reporter when she goes undercover at an all female insane asylum to expose what happens there. It showed how they were treated and the conditions of the institution. One scene shows a rat crawling in bed with her. She throws it off and then I jumped as something brushed against my leg.

It showed Edward R. Murrow and his crew as they were the first radio broadcast from a war zone. He stood on top of a building describing exactly what he saw. Planes flew overhead dropping bombs. The sky was lit up with anti aircraft fire.

 After the film, I went back down and caught the elevator to level 6. This area is what I had known the museum for beforehand. Other than a view of the city and a few other exhibits, they have a collection of front page headlines located on this floor.


I walked outside to see the view and briefly skimmed some of the history outside before going back inside to search for an Arkansas newspaper. They only have the major newspapers, unlike the larger list on their website. But I did find the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, along with some larger newspapers and even a few foreign newspapers.

I missed floor five because the staircase I took didn't go to it. So my next stop was the most difficult of all. I spent a lot of time in this area and even found myself in tears on more than one occasion. It was the September 11 exhibit. The wall was full of newspaper front pages from that fateful day. Part of a broadcast antenna located on top of the towers is exhibited. Around it is a time line with photos and stories from reporters.

I went in and watched a film about being a journalist there having to cover the horrific events. Reporters risked their lives to get the story. Many shot photos and video before having to run for their own lives as the towers collapsed. One of the most famous pictures from the disaster is firefighters raising a flag. The reporter did not realize it would be compared so much to a photo taken by Joseph Rosenthal at Iwo Jima, more than 60 years ago.

According to the exhibit, only one on-duty journalist died that day. The photojournalist ran toward the buildings as everyone else was running away. He snapped photos all along the way. His equipment was later recovered. The last photo  was taken with a time-stamp exactly when one of the towers collapsed.

I found my way to the fifth floor and browsed around there for a little while. The most interesting thing was the timeline of newspapers. Three levels of cases along a timeline were in this area. Visitors can pull out a case to see newspapers that are on lower shelves.

Some various books an documents were also displayed in this area. I was able to see books such as Areopigetica.

I found some quotes in the walls before leaving the fifth floor and catching an elevator to the third floor. They were actually a mixture of quotes and headline bloopers. The book was for sale in the gift shop but, I did not thing it was worth 10 dollars with the internet around.

On the third floor I was unable to explore much. It was 3 hours later by this point even though I was moving at a fast pace through the museum. The museum was closing in 30 minutes. I was able to see political cartoons in that area. Again, many were serious, many were offensive, others were funny, and others left me wondering what the artist was trying to convey.

Unfortunately, because I was in on a group ticket, I am unable to return a second day. I really did not get to spend enough time on floor three or any time on floor two. I think the average ticket cost is about $20, and can be used up to two days (check with the information desk). It is well worth it. This blog does little to express how great this museum is.

To see some more pictures, visit my Facebook album.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

By the numbers

I was asked at my internship the other day to count up some of the stuff that I have done on the job. While at my internship I have written about 1 story per week (and rising). I have taken about 10 photos that have been published. I have edited more than 10 stories from reporters around the world.

My photos and stories have been picked up by print and online publications. More than five Army newspapers have run my work. More than six websites (other than army.mil websites) have run my stories.

It has been a great experience. This past week has been very busy. Just this week I have had two stories written and posted. I did an interview today. I also had an interesting time getting the run around in the bureaucracy. I have to tell that story before I continue.

I accept another story this morning and with it I have two source recommendations made to me. I call the first source who says he is not the right person to comment and he referred me to another office. I wrote the name down and called another source. The number had been changed but I called the new number. They told me they were not the correct organization and referred me to another. After going through this a while I feel like my options are exhausted. I call OCPA. They tell me to call the PAO for the Secretary of the Army. I do that. The PAO tells me to call OCPA. That was a lot of help. But it was a funny story to tell. [I found a source, they just wouldn't ever answer the phone so the story is on hold.]

Anyway, in addition to the two that I wrote this week, I am working on three others. One I should have done by Monday afternoon. The other two I just hope to get interviews before Tuesday. Wednesday is my last day but I have a feeling I might work from my apartment some on Thursday and send an email with my last file or two.

I have learned a lot from my internship. It was an amazing experience. I have to write a paper for my school on it and I will post that as a blog in later weeks.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Culture

 
I find different cultures to be one of the most interesting things to learn about. And it is a very importing thing everyone should learn in today's world. Culture clashes are a major problem. Possibly one of the biggest examples is in religion: Athiests v. Buddhism v. Christian v. Hindu v. Muslim. I think it is important that we learn about one another beliefs, and ways of life -- not necessarily adopting them as our own, but at least understanding. It all goes back to LOVE.

One of my favorite things about Arkansas State is our international population. I found at the end of last semester, at least half of my friends are international students from all over the world. Students come from Turkey, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, Japan, and many other places.

That is my favorite way to learn about culture: first hand. I like to talk with people from that culture. I like to go to the countries and immerse in it. But today, after touring the white house, I did the next best thing. I went to Makiykumanta. It is a festival put on by the Embassy of Peru, showcasing music, dance, crafts, food, movies and speakers. 

I am planning to get my second major in Spanish. This was a perfect opportunity for me. I got to be around a lot of Spanish speakers. I got to learn about culture and I got to see some amazing dancing and hear some amazing music. The scissor dance was probably my favorite, but they had some other performances too.

At the end I was forced to use my Spanish skills. I went to a person working the event and asked if it would be different tomorrow. His response was that he didn't speak English. So I speak Spanish and ask again. He tells me it will change and then I ask if there is a schedule. Not getting the exact answer I wanted, he told me the hours. But I did get to use the language which made me happy.

The video at the top of the page is not the complete dance performed today but it is a lot of it.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Decisions

I have no clue where I am going when I graduate. It is only three semesters away. I've been thinking about it and what my options are. Some options are combinations.

1) Go to Spain - I would really like to do an assistantship for up to three years in Spain. I would be helping teach English, while improving my Spanish at the same time. Other options while I am there include finding a part time job to go along side the assitantship, earning some extra money to live on, and more opportunities to use my Spanish. I have also heard graduate school is a lot cheaper and faster in Spain.

2) Attend a graduate program in the United States - Eventually I will get tired of writing for a career. I would really like to go back and teach Journalism to college students at that point. But the question is: Do I go to graduate school now or later? I am leaning toward later if at all possible. I attended a graduate school seminar this morning that talked about applying, and test scores. I have done no preparation yet but I might have to get started if I plan on this option. Not to mention the added level of difficulty once I am in.

3) Work - Another really good option is to find a job right out of college. I would love to just start working when I graduate. Even so, where do I begin? Do I want to do foreign reporting? Maybe I can do that assitantship in Spain and freelance during it. Do I want to write for a local paper in Arkansas or try to go somewhere else? Do I want to go to a magazine, a newspaper or online publication?

There are so many opportunities and these are only three of them. I have even considered going to seminary after I graduate. The question is: Which option is going to be the best option? I am sure God will let me know when the time comes but it is interesting to think how many doors are open.

A college degree, extra-curricular activities, and special opportunities to further education open a lot of doors for the future.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Quick Boast

"Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'" - 1 Corinthians 1:31.

I have one of those moments tonight. I have been praying for a D in my economics class with the knowledge I will pray for less hope for more and God is so powerful if it is HIS will, I could even get an A. But I am satisfied with a D.

Tonight in class the professor, out of nowhere and out of character told us that all of us who showed up to class every day without missing, would receive no less than a C for our final grade! How amazing is that. God is providing an opportunity to pass this class with less effort than I am and will continue putting forth.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jam-Packed

This post is not going to be exactly like all the others. In the past I have tried to pick one thing to focus on. That won't be the case in this blog entry. There is too much to say.

To begin, it has been a long week. Here in IPJ we just started a new class: Economics. Here are a few quotes and paraphrases from what was said the first day of class.

"Physics is bad, Economics is worse." - Professor Rose said this saying that Economics is much harder than physics. Bad sign. I was bad at physics when I had it in high school, not even a university level. University level, I refused to take it.

Then he talked about how if you didn't know (or weren't good) at certain things, "you're screwed."

The first day of class wasn't a confidence booster, going into a class I already felt like I was doomed to fail. I've read the professor's ratings on "Rate My Professor," a website where students can go on and post comments about how their professors did. It wasn't good. And he lived up to a lot of the bad things that were written. But, I do agree to some extent with him.

He said "I'm not hard, economics is hard." He said he is probably one of the easiest economics teachers. Well, I will definitely agree that Economics is hard. There are too many formulas and mathematical equations and graphs. They confuse me. Then there are questions people ask which have nothing to do with what we are talking about...Just let the man teach already. Ask those questions after class or something. Now I understand why some of the bad comments were on the RMP page, and don't think they're fair. He shouldn't have to answer some of those questions. They are simply distractions.

I'm not saying its an easy class, or that the teacher is necessarily that easy. Which, Economics is hard in the first place. This is Georgetown, its got to be even harder. I've read comments on some of the teachers at ASU. "This professor ruined my life." It isn't just this one professor.

Tuesday I got very friendly with public transportation. I spent half of my work day commuting on Wednesday. I had an interview close to Fort Belvoir in Virginia with a veteran named Jack Doody. He participated in the beginning of the Korean War in the 1950's. The thing is, no trains run that far. I got off the train at Crystal City, the normal stop. Then I walked a block to a bus. I spent about 45 minutes on the bus before arriving at a transfer point where I caught another bus. The Fairfax Connector bus took me the rest of the way, in another 45 minutes or so.

I did the interview. It was great, not much of an interview at all really. It was more like sitting down with a grandpa and listening to his war stories. Mr. Doody showed me maps of the area and told me background on the war. He was very helpful. I asked a few questions as we walked back toward the office, but the majority was just him talking about his experiences. Then it was another long bus commute back to the office. At least on the way back I had something to do. I took out my laptop on the bus and began writing. I was just that into writing the story. It was a really fun one to write, not like work at all.

I enjoyed listening to his story, and another veteran's story, Phil Burke's. Burke was a medic during the war. The story ran on the website today: Task Force Smith members reflect on war experiences.

Also Thursday, we had a study group after Economics. I think it helped a lot, but I still don't feel very confident in my Economic analysis abilities. The test ended up being moved to next Friday.

Now we get to the real fun stuff. After returning from work today, Devon, one of my roommates, Jacob, another TFAS student, and I went Kayaking. Two of us had been before, the other hadn't. But it was a blast. Jacob and I went to Roosevelt Island. We were determined to see the monument so we went all the way to the pedestrian bridge. There we pulled our kayaks up on shore and hiked in a short distance to the monument.

Después, Danny y yo fuimos al restaurante mexicano. ¡Hablé en español con el camisero! Pide dos enchiladas, un con queso y el otro con pollo. Comí  un flan después de la cena.


(Afterward, Danny and I went to a Mexican restaurant. I spoke in Spanish with the waiter(s)! I ordered two enchiladas, one with cheese and the other with chicken. I ate a flan after dinner.)

After leaving the restaurant we walked outside and it was poring rain. We ran to a bus stop and I realized I had plastic shopping bags in my backpack. I took one and put my phone in it and tied it. Then the rain pretty much stopped. It hasn't rained here in a while. Its nice we finally got some and it was at night instead of in the day. We walked to the grocery store after giving up on the bus ever coming.

It was a fun night and a nice break from studying Economics which I will have to do tomorrow.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Taxi!

Taxi! How can taxi companies justify such steep fares? I went to the Air and Space museum at Dulles today for a trip total of 46 dollars!

That is 12 dollars in bus fees, 31 dollars in taxi charges and three dollars in ATM charges. The bus cost six dollars each way which is reasonable for the distance, time and use of toll roads. The ATM charge is even fair. But 31 dollars in taxi fares, for about 10 miles round trip.

 That would make it three dollars and ten cents per mile! Now lets say that a typical taxi will hold 10 gallons of gas. Lets say a typical taxi (car) will get at least 20 miles per gallon. For a ten mile trip the taxi will burn half a gallon. Lets say gas prices are three dollars (which is a high estimate). Ok, three dollars for a gallon would mean $1.50 for half a gallon. Keep in mind that this 10 mile trip is round-trip. That means the gas for the entire trip would cost a $1.50.

Lets take 31 dollars now and subtract two dollars for gas. That leaves a profit of 29 dollars! So subtract another 10 dollars for maintenance, just to be generous. That leaves 19 dollars for profit. The trip averages 15 minutes. So $19 times 15 is a total of $285 per hour if the car were in service one after the other. Yet they aren't paid that much. Where is all of that money going?

Photo Blog: 4th of July

For the fourth of July, there were concerts, a parade and a lot of fireworks. I was able to get almost front row to a lot of the parade, and a good view of the fireworks at the Washington Monument, all without fighting security.

Possibly one of the best photos I could have taken was of a police officer standing in the middle of the road with signal flares burning around him as he directed traffic.






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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Transfer Please

I have had some issues with Metro Bus when I need to get somewhere by a certain time, or I am in a rush. But when there is something that I don't have to be at by a certain time and can move at a slower pace Metro Bus is amazing!

Yesterday I spent three dollars in transportation. I got on the wrong bus and ended up close to Woodley Park and the Zoo. I got off, found another bus and took it to about a mile from my destination (Fords Theatre) and then walked the rest of the way. I went in the theatre got my ticket and did not even have to wait in a line because it was just me.

Then I walked to the National Archives where I was able to see the constitution, the bill of rights, the Magna carta, and the declaration of independence to name a few of the documents on display. Of course, all of that walking and standing in line meant I lost my transfer.

But I waited on a friend to metro down and then we met up and took a Circulator Bus (which ended up being free because the machine was broken) in the direction of the Library of Congress. Unfortunately the bus randomly terminated or we took it in the wrong direction or we just missed our stop. I still don't know. But we ended up at the water front and decided to stay in that area and just walk because we did not know when the LOC closed.

I felt like I should have heard seagulls around the marina. There were a ton of Yachts. Then we came to an area where there was a lot of fresh seafood restaurants. It smelled good. It was tempting but we kept walking. We walked all the way to the Washington Monument and then waited on a bus. The bus, costing $1.50 took us to Columbia Heights where we went to Target.

After Target we caught two Circulators and walked back to Georgetown. I put my milk up, found a restaurant and made reservations for 9:30. So the two of us catch another bus back toward Dupont where we catch another friend on the way. We pass the metro transfer stop by one. We got off the bus, crossed the street, waited on the next bus to come through and then got on. We went one stop to the other side of Dupont.

Then we walked north and caught the L4 bus and went a stop or two to the north. We exited the bus and then sat at the bus stop hoping another would come around. It didn't. So we walked to the restaurant. We got there 15 minutes early and they were able to seat us.

After dinner we caught two more buses to Wisconsin Avenue where we had desert. After that we caught a bus to downtown DC. We walked for awhile then transferred to another bus. We got off a few stops later and walked to Union Station where we dropped one person off. Then the two of us caught the D6 bus from Union Station all the way back to Georgetown.

That is a total of about 14 buses I rode for a total of three dollars. It was about 12 hours of fun in DC. Riders can transfer up to 2 hours for free. If that were not the case all of that riding would have cost more than 20 dollars! Next time, maybe I will take the Circulator first which would cost a dollar to get on, saving an extra 50 cents.

Kindness of a Stranger

In today's world, it seems one persons loss is another person's gain. This morning (around 1 a.m. Saturday) I lost my cell phone on a metro bus heading toward Georgetown from Union Station (the D6 bus).

We were out late, just hanging out and walking around. We walked Sarah back to Union Station and then almost immediately got on the bus. We only stopped once to pick up another passenger and that was pretty close to the end of our journey for the night.

Ashley and I got off the bus and it drives off down the road. I look at my watch and see that it is 1:30ish in the morning so I go for my phone to see if my roommates have called. To my horror, there was nothing in my pockets. The knowledge slowly sank in that I had just left my phone on the bus.

It isn't the most advanced phone, but it isn't plain and simple either. After I realized this I had Ashley call me a few times and then text me with my contact information in hopes it would be turned in to Metro's Lost and Found. We walked back toward the apartments and I decided to wait for 10 minutes at a bus stop in hopes that he would circle around on the route back and I could check the bus.

Before the scheduled arrival, her phone rings and it is the driver calling from my phone. I don't know how this worked out exactly but he ended up meeting us  at a bus stop and he gave me my phone back. I asked if WMATA had any compliment forms as I am sure they have complaint forms. He said no, "I'm just trying to be a good Samaritan."

I don't know his name, but I am very thankful for his honesty. WMATA has some amazing people working for them and I hope they realize their worth.

Russian Cuisine

When I think of Russia, it is generally of the accent. I can't help but think of the character in Armageddon as he says, "This is how we fix things in Russia," as he begins to bang on some equipment.

Friday night I had the opportunity to change some of that. Some of my friends and I went to the Russian House to try something new: Russian food. I have to say it tasted great!



I really enjoyed the food. I really liked the atmosphere. I really did not like the cost. A small portion of almost everything cost at least 12 dollars. But the staff was friendly. The music seemed to all be traditional Russian music. It was a great experience.

Because of the high prices we decided to go elsewhere for dessert, which was a necessity because we did not get a lot of food for the money. A dessert cost eight dollars!

We ended up going to Dolcezza Gelato. My intention was originally to get a Churro. My friends wanted me to try gelato though, which ended up being a good thing because they'd sold out of churros. It was another new food. It was pretty good but not nearly as good as the Pelmini I had for dinner.