Friday, June 22, 2007

Stupid wallet....

Mornings are bad for allot of people. I usually need a Rockstar or similar beverage and at least one cup of coffee before being considered "functional." So, I guess it might be understandable how I thought I lost my wallet a few mornings back.
I had returned from my interview the night before around nine or ten after a very long ride on the metro. I put the gear carefully on the floor under the desk a flung the rest of my belongings onto the bed, grabbed my towel and toiletries and hit the showers.
After dealing with the DC "tunnel funk" I grabbed some dinner, kicked most of my stuff (purse, hoodie...etc...) to the floor, crawled in between the covers and was out.
Soon my cell phone's alarm was going off, time to get ready for work. It tookme about half an hour to make myself presentable and I was out the door. On the way to the elevator drunk-guy-from-down-the-hall said good morning and we started chatting. (He wasn't drunk this particular morning, he was just spectacularly drunk the first night I really remember seeing him and the title stuck.)
By the way, I'm staying in the dorms of an unnamed university. More on that later.
So, while exchanging pleasantries, I dug in my purse for my wallet. I wanted the bills in my hand and ready to go when I reached the energy-drink vending machine in the lobby.
Hmmm, no wallet. I excused myself from Drunkie waved bye to the people holding the elevator doors and went back to the room I share with another NPR intern. (She's probably okay with me naming her here, but I'd rather wait to do's like suspense, but not as interesting.)
Once back in the room, I start looking around. I check the top of the dresser, the desk and the bed.
My roommate wanted to know "what's up?" "I can't find my wallet," I said distractedly throwing all the clothes out of my cardboard box laundry hamper onto the floor. I checked the pockets of every pair of pants as I put them back into the box. I looked on the bed, the desk and the top of the dresser again, then under the bed, in my underwear drawer and on the shelves where I store my food. The whole time I was doing this I felt like I was moving faster and faster in the tiny shared space. I repeated the process three or four times. It's not like there were new places to look magically appearing.
My poor roommate was staying home from work, sick with strep. She started to look concerned when I dump the contents of my purse onto the floor... for the third time.
Ten minutes into my frantic tear around the room, I started thinking about everyplace I took my wallet out of my purse the day before. The metro, the gas station, that's it. The gas station, right before my interviews.
I left it someplace! That's the only thing that made sense as I shoved the bed away from the wall for the second time to look in the space between.
As I searched, I start thinking about my debit credit target card... Damn the paperless economy! Then I went cold. I left my social security card in there. I had put it in when I had to fill out the hiring forms at NPR. I never took it out. That is when I started cussing. My roommate began to look alarmed.
I made the first call. The bank representative was sort of sympathetic. He explained that if I didn't cancel the debit card "RIGHT NOW", I'd be responsible for any charges on the account. I asked him to stay on the line for one more second. I was tearing the blankets off of my bed again. I knew that I'd find the damn thing as soon as I canceled the card.
I was late for work. He wanted off of the phone with the crazy woman. He offered to leave the card active with a note that I called and may call back in a second to cancel the card. He said he didn't know if I'd still be held responsible for any fraudulent charges. I canceled the card.
I found the wallet -according to my roommate- less than a minute after getting off the phone.

The West Coast Skinny

Maybe you've seen our names on this blog. Or maybe you've heard us (or, not heard us?) during brown bag lunch teleconferences. Or perhaps you've just seen us, bleary eyed at 6:30 a.m., video-conferencing with you for our weekly IE meetings on Fridays. Chances are, you are probably wondering: who are these crazy, California interns?

To help you get to know us better, we're going to post here at the end of each week, just to let you know what we've been up to and to convince you that, no, we don't spend all day lounging around on the beach! California, is like, so totally not like that.

On Ellie's desk this week, you'll find biographies, transcripts, and clips on just about everything! From the 2008 Olympic torch, to the poisoned Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, Angelina Jolie, and Colombian conflict authors, Ellie has covered a wide range of stories already. Ellie's here early, arriving at the office at 6 a.m. everyday to work on Morning Edition (more like, Pre-Dawn Edition) After work, she heads straight to the docks to race sailboats. After the races, she has just enough time to shower and get in bed before her early start the next day..

How busy is Kenya? Just ask Farai Chideya. Or better yet, listen to this podcast! Kenya was interviewed ON AIR by Farai for the program's Staff Song Pick of the Week. And Farai is right--Kenya is one of the hardest worked and hardest working people here! Whether she's up until the wee hours of the morning contacting politicians in DC or acting as a liaison between NPR West interns and the IE staff on the East Coast, Kenya is determined and passionate to make connections between the coasts work.

Meanwhile, Bernie spends his days making important connections between members of Day to Day, the show that both he and I work on. While I sit here in my cubicle, Bernie is running--literally--around the place. He runs scripts (i.e. hand delivers freshly printed scripts to both hosts and producer), puts everything up on DACS, pitches stories, and, in his spare time, helps in the production of podcast promos. If you listen to Day to Day, you'll hear the promos that Bernie has written! (You'll have to listen to the whole podcast to hear them, but from my perspective--as a fellow intern for Day to Day--that's not such a bad thing).

According to the approximately 5,000 post-it notes I have attached to the edges of my computer monitor, it's been a busy week for me too. This week I've researched everything from how to plan your very own green wedding to how anime guru Miyazaki incorporates environmental themes into his films. I've also spoken to education policy experts about Supreme Court cases on desegregation, to the CEO of a green technology company that works on hybrid cars, and to representatives from the Panama Canal Authority about the canal's expansion.

Definitely the highlight of my week was helping Alex Cohen on a story about the California frozen dessert giant Pinkberry. After reading heated blog entries and watching a horror movie about yogurt that turns humans into zombies, I watched as Alex collected, assembled, and edited the pieces of her story, which you can listen to here.

Phew! As you can tell, life on the West Coast is busy. However, most of our days do end with sunshine and can (if we're willing to put up with a long haul through traffic) end with a long walk on the beach. We all hope you're enjoying life in DC--we're jealous of your birthday bashes and kayak trips, but nonetheless wish you the best.

From all of us at NPR West, have a great weekend!!

-Haley & Ellie &Kenya & Bernie

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hello, My Name Is ...

The idea of parallel universes has long been the stuff of science fiction and occultist metaphysical speculation. But if they aren't real, then explain this:

There are two different interns named Patrick working at NPR this summer. Both are working on the 5th Floor of 635 Mass. Ave, in Digital Media. Specifically, both are working with the music staff, recently folded under the Digital Media umbrella. Both are about 6'2", own black Converse All-Stars, and grew up close to the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Both have aliases on this Intern Edition blog. Both are also strikingly [cough] intelligent and good looking. Excuse me, I have something in my throat. Something strikingly intelligent and good looking, that is.

One of these Patricks is, obviously, me. I cannot explain the existence of this other, second me.

My background in the liberal arts leads me to suggest literary, albeit admittedly implausible explanations. (What else is the academy for?) Writers have long theorized the concept of a double or an other to dramatize existential self-doubt. In a related vein, the idea of the doppelganger, the sinister apparitional twin, has also held currency in paranormal myth and legend.
Neither idea seems to me particularly appealing, though. For one, I know I exist: cognito, ergo sum. The other Patrick, while a good guy--I cannot confirm his reality.

Neither can anyone else in the music department. Stephen Thompson, online music producer, refuses even to attempt to distinguish between us. "I'll treat both of you as interchangeable," he said. "When I ask one of you to do something, I'll assume that I can ask the other for a status report. And when I call for one of you, I expect both of you to come running." (Something tells me that Stephen is being a little bit facetious, though. After all, this is a man who spent the overwhelming majority of his adult life at The Onion; furthermore, you never see anybody running in the hallways here.)
When we were introduced to the staff on our first day, Bob Boilen (director, "All Things Considered"; host, "All Songs Considered") tried to devise a classification system for us Patricks. The other Patrick quickly reserved "Patrick 1" to him and assigned me--O Grave Affront!--"Patrick 2." I immediately disputed this claim. If anything, I am clearly the primary Patrick, for I was assigned a far superior cubicle, quite possibly the best in the room. (This is also anomalous, since I seem to be the youngest, least experienced, and least skilled human being in the Digital Media room. Not that I'm complaining.)

All kidding aside, Pat and I are buddies, and sometimes we even hang together doing nothing other than celebrating our freakish similarity. I mean, c'mon: how many people in the world can there really be who are named Patrick AND like good music? If there are others, they must live in parallel universes.
Patrick Jarenwattananon
Music Intern
Not Patrick Frank

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Finally...One Teeeeeeny Step

For the first time in years, I can say that the Peruvian government has taken one super-MINI step forward. I’ll probably kick myself for praising Garcia’s government later (I’m quite a cynic when it comes to presidential leaders these days), but, at last…the Ministry of Energy has begun to show some support for indigenous, unprotected tribes in the Amazon that are in the direct line of fire from the exploration plight of internal and international oil companies.

Earlier this month, the Peruvian government blocked the second oil company -- this time, the US-owned Barrett Resources – from doing preliminary exploration in certain oil concessions in the Amazon, claiming that their environmental reports did not take account of uncontacted indigenous tribes. The concern over the last couple of decades, as oil exploration and drilling became practically Beatle-mania popular, was that indigenous tribes would have no defense against the types of negatives that go along with drilling in the Amazon. Examples: frequent pipe bursts and spills, water pollution, malaria…the list goes on. (breathe...I get pretty fired up about these things, people.)

This is one small step for Peruvian-kind. No giant steps ahead, it seems, as nearly 70 percent of the Amazon is now blocked off for oil concessions and the government often denies that there are even truly indigenous populations out there.

Does anyone else follow this?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bike Commuting, Ch. 2 (Or, "How I Walked to Work Last Wednesday")

My first experience bike commuting was marvelous; both my bike and I made it to NPR and back home injury free, and I really enjoyed it. My original plan was to take the Metro on Wednesday and wait until Thursday to ride to work again, but I was so eager to get back on the bike that I decided not to take a day off.

Wednesday morning, I woke up at 7 and looked outside to make sure the weather wasn't threatening. Sunshine--we're good to go. I once again dressed myself in my spandex shorts and saddled up for another ride.

As I rode by the Reflecting Pool, I started to notice a sound, a squeak coming from the rear tire. "I probably just need to adjust my brakes," I thought. Then, as I climbed the gentle incline alongside the Washington Monument, I noticed that I wasn't picking up speed regardless of how hard I pedaled. It dawned on me that I had probably blown my rear tube at some point in the ride, but I kept on pedaling, in denial. I couldn't have a flat tire here, a 30-minute walk from work, ill-equipped to make the simple repair!

Eventually, I could hear the wheel grinding on the pavement. This marked the end of my denial, which was about to get a lot more expensive if I didn't get off the bike. I slowly looked back at my rear tire and saw that it was miserably deflated. I'm usually not big on literary devices, but I think you could call it a metaphor.

So I walked with the bike in tow and eventually turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue from 15th. When you walk along Pennsylvania Avenue around 8 a.m. on a weekday morning, you're going to see a lot of people. People wearing suits, people looking very official. I was wearing spandex. I don't mean Lance Armstrong-yellow jersey-hardcore cyclist spandex. That would've been okay. I mean a pair of spandex left over from my rowing days paired with a raggedy UNC t-shirt. And I love my bike--a Specialized Hard Rock that I got for my 15th birthday and have refused to part with--but it's starting to show its age. For example, my "replacement" handlebar grips were found on the ground near railroad tracks in Chapel Hill (true story). With an old duffel bag slung over my shoulder, I'd like to think I looked like a bohemian who had taken a wrong turn on his way to Haight-Ashbury, but I probably just looked really weird. Okay, ten more blocks to go.

Offering eye-contact and a smile to anyone who would reciprocate ("I'm on my way to work just like everyone else. No big deal, right?"), I trekked to the NPR office where I could finally park my sorry bike, drown my sorrows in the lower level showers, and change into a less eye-catching outfit. An interesting way to start the day.

The moral of the story: ride your bike to work. Best case scenario, you'll get some exercise and save $1.55; worst case scenario, you'll get a good story and save $1.55.

Regarding Robert Siegel

One of the unique things about working at NPR is the voice recognition factor. I now work with people that I have heard on the radio for years. At first, hearing these voices come out real people was surreal, it was like the phantoms inside my radio box came alive and told me to log their tape and dub their audio. The whole experience of meeting these people is especially strange when their actual faces don’t match the phantom images in your mind.

I learned this lesson on my very first day of work as I walked down the hallway, a man and a woman walked by me. The woman spoke casually as they passed and walked towards the elevators. The man started talking, and as soon he opened his mouth, I froze.

It was Robert Siegel.

I was star struck. I stood there and thought, “I should go introduce myself,” but then I didn’t. I was too nervous and shocked by being ambushed by a famous NPR personality in the hallway.
For most people, this would happen if they met Kelly Clarkson, or Johnny Depp, but for me, it’s Robert Siegel. My friends at home don’t understand this, but I have spent so many hours in the car and at home with these people, I may as well be meeting Oprah. Now I constantly use the internet to hunt down the faces of those NPR personalities I have yet to meet. So the next time I’m walking down the hallway and Lakshmi Singh crosses my path, I’ll be prepared.

Benjamin Frisch
Arts and Information Desk

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Where did it come from?

I saw a young deer tonight off Wisconsin street. It looked terrified. I was afraid that somehow I would be the one to hit with my car. It looked terrified. His head was going back and forth looking for a way to serenity, calmness; a place without concrete or carbon credits. I felt bad for it. I wanted to help it but didn't know how.

So Glad to Meet You, Angeles

Los Angeles does not believe in sunrises.

Instead, each day dawns slightly cloudy, with a chance of meatballs (or, in my case an 80 percent chance of peanut butter toast and orange juice). I know that somewhere behind the gray smear of fog and clouds, somewhere between the hours of five and six, the sun is rising. But I've never seen it.

Los Angeles is also a city that seems to revel in its irony. I have quickly learned that here, we like tofu and fresh produce, but most of us don't seem to care whether the produce is organic or not and whether the tofu is grown locally or shipped here by a giant jet from Sri Lanka. Eco-chic is totally in and so is the environment, but if there were a march to raise awareness about global warming, EVERYONE would drive there in their cars. If Los Angeles is concerned about its ecological footprint, chances are it is less interested in the size and more interested in whether it was made with a pair of this year's Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos from last season.

In a city where everyone is looking for their place in the sun, it amazes me how little sun we actually see. June gloom doesn't burn off until until noon or so--and every morning, I begin doubting the sun's ability to break through the heavy cloud cover. Walking out of the office, I am always amazed to be greeted by sunlight and balmy, 75 degree weather. And equally amazed to walk past seemingly hundreds of people sitting in traffic inside their air-conditioned cars (and hopefully listening to NPR), completely oblivious to the miracle of sunshine.

A lot I guess gets lost in the haze of LA movers, rumors, and trends. One thing that does shine clearly here is that there may be a big difference between those who believe ardently in causes, and those who follow the latest movement or fad. Los Angeles, to me, seems like this amazing intersection between the believers and the trend-setters...a place where maybe, just maybe you can have both on the same side of the issue, combating environmental injustice or embracing a vegan lifestyle for very different reasons, but achieving more than lone activists in most places in this country. In spite of its SUVs, I really do think LA has something going for it--if we're willing to take its sunshine, flippancy, and irony in stride, maybe it is worth believing a little in the City of Angels.