When President Obama first took office I remember reading about a tradition he and his family had. They would sit together at the end of each day and select the rose and thorn or high and low of each day. I’m sure plenty of families do this but that was my first time hearing about this practice. Since it’s my last day I’m going to go share the rose and thorn of my internship experience.
Rose: Finally finishing my amusement park story.
I received the assignment my first day here but it took until nearly my last week before I saw it published. It was a new experience to write a story that combined history (and a LOT of it) and personal stories. It took a long time to get it right but once I saw the story, both it’s print and online version (shown below), all the hard work felt worth it.
To read Thrills gone by – Amusement parks in Oklahoma click here.
Rose (because sometimes they have two buds): Getting to meet all the wonderful people at The Oklahoman & having my first print newsroom experience.
Everyone was so nice and helpful. It was just great to be able to spend my summer with such a well respected company and learn from everyone. (Oh no I’m getting all sentimental.)
Thorn: Getting in the groove of things with one week left.
I did freelance work for a hometown paper and my school paper but I never spent much time in the newsroom. I spent quite a while feeling like a fish out of water and really only began to get in the groove last week. This last thing on my list reminds me of a wonderful 80s movie quote, so I’ll end with that.
So everyone has heard of planking and probably to a lesser extent owling. This past weekend as I enjoyed a short vacation with my family, I tried to explain these things to my sister. She didn’t understand the reasoning behind laying face down on the ground with your arms held tightly to your side – in fact neither do I. These odd past times are sweeping twitter feeds and will soon even be featured on pages of The Oklahoman (Krystle Wagner is working on the story as I type). So as my sister and I discussed this cool new trend we decided we’re not going to follow the crowd. Rather, we’re starting our own – Velociraptoring.
‘What is velociraptoring,’ you might ask. Well it is much like owling and planking in which you pose for pictures in a particular and recognizable stance. In this case you hold your middle three fingers in a claw like position and look like you are stalking prey. The last bit is very important because, as the pose’s name suggests, you are trying to resemble a prehistoric carnivorous dinosaur. The rest of the weekend was filled with impromptu velociraptor poses. We even got my parents to join in.
Here are a few reasons why I think it should work. First, who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Second, it doesn’t involve laying on the floor or standing on furniture – so you can remain looking fairly normal and may not draw so many glances of curiosity and disdain.
I am aware that anatomically speaking the three middle fingers pose is incorrect because velociraptor‘s claws more closely resembled the thumb, pointer and middle fingers. So despite that small inaccuracy who’s on board for making velociraptoring the next big thing??? Come on, I know you want to! And if you do… add your pictures to the Facebook fan page. You can find it here.
So the title is a reference to Anchorman: The legend of Ron Burgundy and if you haven’t watched it you’re missing out. Okay so the title is funny but the post itself is serious… seriously.
This Tuesday I was having dinner with a couple of friends, both of which have career aspirations within the medical field. One of them mentioned how emotionally draining the medical field is. Many of the stories she shared confirmed that. But I also realized how emotionally draining journalism is as well.
Some of the stories we cover every day take us on an emotional roller coaster. You can be happy, bewildered, scared or sad. For some reason I have the hardest time dealing with happy and sad. Sometimes when I do a feature over someone with a positive or happy story, I’m overcome by the character they’ve shown throughout their life or the struggles they had to overcome. I always feel so grateful to have met them.
The first time I experienced such strong emotion was when I covered the opening of the National WASP World War II Museum in my hometown of Sweetwater, Texas, a museum dedicated to Women Airforce Service Pilots. My hometown was where their training base was located. They were trailblazing patriots who paved the way for all women to be treated equally and to be able to serve their country. I cried on the way home after the ceremony; I was just so moved by their stories.
The latest incident of emotional news coverage happened last Friday. I interviewed the woman who helped make Oklahoma the first state with a pancreatic cancer awareness license plate. The tag will be released in November and $20 out of the tags $35 price will go towards pancreatic cancer research. The disease has grim statistics like – for every 425 patients diagnosed in Oklahoma this year with pancreatic cancer, 400 will die within one year from the disease. King chose to support this disease because her twin sister Connie died from it in 2008. Throughout the entire interview King kept it together except once when she spoke of life without her best friend.
“To be able to do this in her memory means a lot,” King said with a shaky voice. Then tears filled her eyes as she went on. “The first year was very difficult and I’ve gotten better. I’m past my grief but I still have my days.”
My eyes got a little teary but I held it together until I got in my car after the interview. I have a twin sister who just happened to be born three years late. We often say the same thing at the exact same time, wear the same thing though we live 10 hours apart and sometimes I’ll have strange emotions throughout the day that make no sense and it turns out she had a bad day. She was all I kept thinking of while I cried, but it was difficult forcing myself away from those thoughts during the interview. Even now while writing it, I have a lump in my throat.
I love this career but it is tough in so many ways. A professor once said that your Weltanshauung – German for world view, philosophy, ideology – is what makes you unique and a good journalist. But you’re a great journalist when you can remove yourself from your weltanshauung and just report.
I am currently working on a story about public transportation in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas (primarily Norman and Edmond). Twice last week I experienced first hand what it’s like to be a commuter. I traveled once from Edmond to the office and another time from Norman to the office. Both trips took two hours. This made no sense to me as it takes 45 minutes to drive all the way from Norman and 15 to drive from Edmond to work.
The issue is the spoke and hub system that OKC’s Metro Transit currently uses. This system has been in place since Metro Transit was established in 1966. While routes have been added extended and moved around the system has stayed basically the same. Michael Scroggins of Metro Transit says the company is well aware that the system is outdated.
While Metro Transit can do research and propose different options it is up to the city to vote upon and fund them. Unfortunately, it seems this is unlikely to happen. The cities funding is not a dedicated annual amount. Metro Transit received almost $2 million more in funding in 2011 than 2010. When the budget surpasses expectations you won’t hear many complaining but it’s a different story when it’s below.
The service has had to raise fees in the past year by a quarter but it can’t raise them by much more. But raising passenger fees anymore could result in the decrease of federal funding.
But the company and service is in a pickle. Metro Transit would love to increase their coverage and regularity and the public demand is there yet they cannot do this without funding. However the city will not allocate more funding until they can see the benefits of it. It’s an egg before the chicken or chicken before the egg puzzle.
In the meantime I’m a terrible gas guzzler. But I’m hoping to move to an area within the city that would make using public transit more sensible.
Today as I was driving to work an ozone alert was announced over the radio. This was the first time I’d heard of an ozone alert. It sounded serious because the announcer was encouraging people to carpool or ride public transportation also the variable message sign was flashing warnings of harmful ozone levels. Perhaps it was naïve of me to not know how ozone could be harmful, but I had no clue. I thought that ozone was a good thing because it was one of our earth’s unique features that allowed life to thrive. However ground-level ozone, what it’s referred to when it’s close to earth’s surface is a harmful pollutant
Ground-level ozone is created when specific chemicals interact with nitrogen and sunlight. The chemicals are created by: cars, buses, industry, utility companies, gas stations, print shops, paint stores, cleaners, and off-road equipment like planes, trains and construction and lawn and garden equipment. Dangerous levels of ground-level ozone can cause choking, coughing and stinging eyes. It can damage lung tissue, exacerbate respiratory disease, and could lead to respiratory infections. It is particularly dangerous to children and the elderly but all outdoor activity should be avoided.
CART, the public transportation in Norman, offers free transportation on Ozone Alert days. However, neither Metro Transit or City Link, OKC or Edmond public transportation, offer the same service. Taking advantage of public transportation often is just one way you can help prevent harmful amounts of ozone. Other options include gasing up at night, avoid idling in your vehicle, and avoid gas powered lawn equipment. For more tips visit the Get Square programs website.
Get Square is a really cool program sponsored by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments or ACOG. This clean air campaign encourages individuals to adopt a way of life that would keep their square of air clean.
Sunday’s are usually my day to sleep in and catch up on household chores. I usually put the chores part of my day off until it’s absolutely necessary to start them and then I stay up extremely late finishing them. This Sunday however,
I strayed from my routine and participated in the Edmond Road Rally which is part of the week long LibertyFest. This summer I’m aiming to not only learn more in the newsroom but learn more about the community by being an active participant in the areas events.
According to the Liberty Fest website the “Road Rally is designed as a fun family event and really easy to participate in. It is just like a scavenger hunt on wheels.” While I agree that it was fun, I beg to differ with the easy description. Most of the questions were like an I Spy book, requiring participants to find answers to cryptic riddles along the trail you were driving for example a bright food – Daylight Donuts. The difficult part was finding the answers and refraining from being a traffic hazard. But crowds were not deterred by the difficulties. Mike Moore the Road Rally event chair said 48 cars participated this year. Prior to the event Moore said that despite rising gas prices in recent years the event has never seen a downturn in participation. While I waited for my teammates to arrive I spoke with a few of the volunteers and even met a group who was returning for their tenth Road Rally competition.
Where are we?
Two participants minimum per car were required for registration. I and two other interns participated for a total of three in my car. After paying our $10 registration fee we set off. One person navigated, I drove and we all looked for
clues (though I probably should’ve focused on driving). Despite the rough conditions (see footnote) we were able to find most of the answers out of about 140 questions… until we got lost. Most of the trail was a big circle and, though I’m not from Edmond, I know my way around fairly well. The issue was the directions were in riddle form. We had been traveling down Memorial for what seemed like forever before we realized we were lost. Later we reflected on our route and how we came to be lost but none of us could quite remember how or when it occurred.
Once was lost but now we’re found
After eventually meandering our way back to the starting area, I realized we’d been out for nearly three hours. We arrived with just enough time to make it to the awards ceremony. Hot, sweaty, a little disoriented and sure that we hadn’t won anything, I decided to attend the awards ceremony though my teammates had to leave. I was really surprised by the large crowd and how diverse the groups were in both age and size. Teams answer sheets were scored. These scores were a combination of answers correct and the time and mileage it took to return to the starting area, also the finish line. Places one through ten were given a trophy. The top three winners also received a cash prize of various amounts. An eleventh trophy was awarded to the last place “winner,” the person with the lowest score. I thought we were definitely in the running for the eleventh trophy but we finished nearly fifty points ahead of last place.
At the end of the day I was happy I participated, though I wasn’t looking forward to filling up my gas tank. I plan on participating in the future as long as I’m around Oklahoma. I do however think it may be a good idea for future Road Rally organizers to consider making a shorter trail for bicycling participants.
*Let me just issue a statement about my car however: It is a piece of junk. A tree fell on it a little over a year ago and though the windshield has been replaced and most of the glass fragments removed my car has yet to get over that experience. Doors do not open and air conditioning is non-existent. To the two that came along – Thanks for not complaining about my car.
As an avid “recycler“ and someone striving to live a more Eco-friendly life, I’m always on the look out for environmental news. For anyone who’s ever wondered what to do with that old TV, now you can recycle it. Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill that will require television manufacturers who sell TVs in Texas to offer free recycling programs for Lone Star consumers. The bill was passed last week. This new bill will keep electronic waste, heavy metals and other toxic materials from decorating road sides or being dumped in landfills. According to Ecogeek.org this law will force manufacturers to “have a better plan” for TVs “at the end of their life cycle, and possibly even start making them with safer materials.” As a Texan (please don’t hold it against me), I’m glad to see my home state taking steps to be more green but what about my other home state, Oklahoma? Oklahomans who are looking to recycle their old TVs can take them to any Best Buy store. The electronics retailer will recycle almost any electronic device at any of their stores across the nation. They also have a trade-in program that allows you to trade video games, DVD players, game consoles and other electronics for Best Buy gift cards. There are numerous other companies that also accept electronics for recycling. I love that target has containers near the check out section for recycling one of them being small electronics. Other businesses that take recycled electronics are listed here on the EPA‘s website. So check it out before you dump your electronics in the trashcan.
I drive to work each morning. I spend between an hour to an hour and half in my car each day. As I drive I listen to NPR and this morning a report by Scott Horsley caught my attention. The topic discussed, global warming.
As the announcements for presidential candidacy come rolling in, politicians are making their positions on hot topics known. The Horsley’s piece highlighted Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman who has moderate views on immigration, same-sex civil unions and until now climate control. Huntsman was a cap and trade leader – capping carbon emissions and trading pollution permits. I say was because though he still finds climate control important, it isn’t as important as the economy. Huntsman told Time magazine until the economy is back on its feet “this isn’t the moment” to pursue cap and trade. Huntsman isn’t the only politician backing away from supporting climate control and other environmental beliefs. Other Republican presidential hopefuls have changed their tune like Tim Pawlenty or Michelle Bachman who, in 2009, said “CO2 is a harmless gas.” Mitt Romney, steadfastly holds as fact that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming but has recently backed off cap and trade.
And it’s not just politicians, but the American public who are changing their mind about global warming. An annual poll released by Gallup in March showed that American concern with global warming has almost reached an all time low at 51 percent. While 2011′s percentage is only one point lower than last years, it has gone down from a high of 66 percent in 2008 and is just one point above the lowest percentage recorded in 1997.
What I don’t understand is how can people change their minds about global warming? Isn’t it scientific fact, just that, fact?
Here at the OPUBCO offices, you might see people with ear buds hanging from their ears throughout the day. I often turn on some tunes to drown out the office noise and focus on my tasks but, for my first story for Newsok.com, ear buds or any sort of headphones were not necessary. I was able to convert my planned trip to Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival into a travel piece for the Know It section on the Newsok site.
This was my first time to attend the Bonnaroo Festival; My first time to report for NewsOk; and my first time to write a first person piece. The festival also helped me find the perfect story to launch my personal blog, Green Life Girl, an Eco concious blog. Most of the interviews I did for my story and blog were done while waiting for the next band to hit the stage. This made the wait time go by much quicker and helped me get to know the group around me.
The days were hot and dusty but the bands were full of energy and excitement. My favorite acts were The Strokes by far but closely followed by Florence and the Machine and Arcade Fire. Other than music there were some really exciting, funny and weird experiences had at the festival. I love being a journalist because it may be the only career in which you can listen to your favorite musicians and say you’re working.