Thursday, June 28, 2007

Me and Master P

So there are perks at NPR. In a last minute pinch I scored big time when I was able to book Hip Hop Icon Master P as a guest on Monday's show. Despite having to wait for him at the door and madly rushing him into the studio because he was running late (he blames me for my directions "which led him nearly to Mexico.") - the interview was great and he was the perfect source for our piece on Hip Hop and Violence. Check out the audio from Monday's News & Notes (6/25) on the web.
Best of all he says "I gotta have you as my new friend because we all need friends in high places - and NPR is about as high as it gets." So in short, we interns ARE in the right place according to Master P himself.
- Kenya Young, NPR West

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A 50-Cent Piece For Your Thoughts

So I rode my bike to work again today. I didn't have a camera on me, so I stole this image from the Internet. But I swear this is what I saw:

Does anybody else find this funny?

NPR is Mad Sexy, Yo.

TOTN just did a piece on social networking sites and I was reminded of a recent article about NPR’s NYC affiliate hosting a mixer for their listeners to meet other like-minded people. Apparently a lot of people identify themselves as “NPR-listeners” on dating and other social networking sites. So, I decided to do a search on Facebook to see what kinds of NPR-related groups are out there and how many members they have. As it turns out, there are a lot of groups. Here is a sampling…

General addiction and NPR omnipresence…
i heart npr. (4,344 members)
Addicted to National Public Radio (339 members)
Hold on, I’m listening to NPR (690 members)
National Public Radio owns my soul (29 members)
NPR minds in a FOX News world (196 members)

The superiority of NPR…
I listen to NPR. That means I have better taste than you (82 members)
NPR makes me feel educated (50 members)

Obsession with particular shows and hosts…
I have a hero…his name is Garrison Keillor (152 members)
Lakshmi Singh is my favorite NPR Anchor! (22 members)
ira glass is the second coming of jesus (19 members)
Science Friday…the best day of the week (780 members)
The Diane Rehm Show Made Me Smarter (20 members)
All I want for Christmas is Carl Kasell’s voice on my answering machine (81 members)

Defiance of stereotypes…
I am under 30 and I listen to NPR! What NOW! (182 members)
I watch the Sci-Fi Channel and listen to NPR. There, I said it out loud (10 members)
Conservatives who unabashedly listen to NPR (14 members)

And finally…
NPR is Mad Sexy, Yo. (34 members)

Beth Furtwangler

Where Am I From?

I moved to the United States four years ago, but I never felt more like a foreigner until I was back in my homeland of Taiwan last summer. It was a sunny afternoon and I was being kicked out of a cab by a short-tempered driver who had strong feelings about his country.

"Are you Chinese?" he barked at me, moments before dumping me on the street. "You speak Taiwanese with a Chinese accent."

I was barely able to explain to him that while I was born in Taiwan, my father is of Chinese descent. Next thing I knew, he was shouting at me: “Get out of my car! I don't drive Chinese.”

My grandmother once said that everyone is a foreigner. Now her words have meaning to me.

I don’t feel Chinese or Taiwanese and I certainly will never be American either. So who am I? I often wonder what “foreign country” and “home country” really mean. What does it mean to be Taiwanese, Chinese, or American?

Is it a language?

“When I first took your dad home, his fluent Taiwanese bluffed my family into believing that he was a native of Taiwan!” My mother, a native born Taiwanese, giggled when she told me the story, “Otherwise I’d never be allowed to marry him!”

Is it a birthplace?

Ironically, my mother was not as lucky as my father was with the language skills. She applied for a reporter position at a Taiwanese radio station when she graduated from Journalism School in 1971. She was asked to say “Algeria” in Taiwanese during the job interview. Although she was a native born, due to her pronunciation, she never got the job.

Or is it an appearance?

After I moved to America, I often heard other Asian Americans complain about how hard it is to be a “foreigner” in this country. Most of them were born in this country and speak fluent English, but were bothered by the color of the hair and skin.

If being Taiwanese, Chinese, or American doesn’t meant speaking a certain language, being born in a certain place, or appear to be a certain way, what does it mean?

My grandparents escaped from Mainland China to Taiwan during the civil war with their two children, including my father. Every single day of my grandfather’s life in Taiwan, he wished to return to China.

I usually sat on his lap when I was a little girl and listened to all those civil war stories. I was taught that we were Chinese and we would go “home” one day. However, the tension between China and Taiwan rose. My grandfather’s wish never came true. He eventually passed away with deep regrets.

I remember my father arranged a “home-returning” trip for my grandmother when the Chinese and Taiwanese governments first permitted people from the two countries visiting each other in 1987. We were surprised when my grandmother resisted going.

“But, Mom, we thought you and dad always want to go home!” my dad said.

“It has been thirty years…I don’t know where home is anymore,” my grandmother mumbled. “Every homeland was once a foreign land...everyone was once a foreigner…”

I was young and did not pay much attention when she said so. However, after so many years, when I was kicked out of the taxi in that sunny afternoon, the scene of my grandmother mumbling those words appeared before my eyes, clearly.

To-Wen Tseng

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When Bikes rule...

I am in the middle of trying to re-orient my life styles to include biking. So far so good. Mike you are completely right on all things; it is so much more fun to ride a bike on these streets of DC rather than the stagnant Buses or Metro. But, I do sin now and again because I brought my Car(read SUV) to DC and there are times when up in Georgetown, sitting a top a hill, I can't get myself to put the keys down after just riding up the the opposite hill maybe an hour earlier. So yes I am still a car clinging lazy American, but if I didn't drive sometimes where would I ever find the time to listen to NPR?

If Bill Nye said it, then it must be true.

“Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. There is something wrong with a society that drives a car to work out in a gym.”
-Bill Nye
So, here I am, writing about bikes. Again. I promise this post won't discuss how I royally screwed up my breaks while replacing my tube, my crank that snapped off mid-rainstorm last Thursday, spandex, or any of my other shortcomings as a bike commuter.

Why I ride.

I don't have a car at college, and I don't have a car in DC. My car in high school occupies a corner of our driveway in Cincinnati. Right now, I don't want a car! I would rather ride my bike.

My friends don't get it (I tell them I bike to work, and they call me a hippie).

A lot of college kids don't get it (see the Facebook groups "Drivers who hate bikers that think they are cars," "For those who hate cyclists on the roads," and "I hate campus bikers" among others. Hate? Seriously?).

An unidentified taxi driver doesn't get it ("Move it, a**hole!").

The car is deeply ingrained in American culture as cool and necessary, and for people to change their habits and saddle up on bikes in droves would require something so outrageous that driving a car would be totally illogical. Like, say, gas prices above $3.50 per gallon.

But until that outrageous event takes place, let me suggest a few reasons to stop driving and start riding NOW.
  • Exercise is good for the body. Save time and get a workout while getting somewhere.
  • No paying for gas. I would rather rely on fuel that I cook in my kitchen.
  • Exhaust stinks. There is strong evidence that the combustion of fossil fuels directly impacts climate change, but regardless of one's beliefs, car exhaust is not pleasant. I don't want the stuff filling my lungs, and I'm not going to contribute to it if I don't have to.
  • And my favorite-it adds some adventure to the day! Try to describe your most exhilarating Metro ride to me. Still thinking?
I readily acknowledge that America's transportation infrastructure is not bicycle-friendly. In fact, in many parts of the country, a car is necessary in everyday life. Someday, I may rely on a car myself, toting around spouses and kids and kids' friends, and I promise that I'll be pedaling up to the day I trade in my helmet for a set of keys. But I think everyone, myself included, drives when it is not necessary to do so.

Give biking a try-at the very least, you'll make progress toward breaking a nasty habit.

Monday, June 25, 2007


I have a little obsession with: bathrooms. Or, if you want to be more accurate, restrooms. Or, if you're not from the US, toilets.

I value them highly, and often judge restaurants and other establishments primarily on their Johns and Janes. I think of the restroom as the dirty little hidden secret of every establishment -- either you care about it and it shows, or you don't...and it smells.

I have sometimes considered going into the field of Bathroom Architect. I know it's probably not a real job, but one can always fantasize and use it as a pretense for complaining. Throughout my career, I would boldly and relentlessly pursue the complete eradication of nonsensically built bathrooms. After I was through, all bathroom doors would be push to get out, pull to get in -- no one would ever have to awkwardly navigate themselves out of a door-cramped stall or dirty their hands post-wash again. And all soap would be nicely scented.

That being such, I will go into my main post, which is called:


I joined NPR because of its restrooms. This is of course in jest, but also partially true. Since small childhood, I have LOVED almond-scented soap that many restaurants have. I am always disappointed when the soap is pink, but no, not almond, not luscious almond. At the NPR Internship Fair last spring, I went to use the Conference Center restroom and discovered not only did NPR sound gloriously from restroom ceiling speakers, but that this fantastic source of news also had - gasp - almond-scented soap! And not just the pink stuff, but high-quality, silky-pearl-colored almond soap. Truly a rarity in the restroom world.

I think I am over the limit now, and so I'll end by saying that this has left a lasting impression on me, and is another reason why I admire NPR.

Dalet Training=Marantz Training

Interesting, I did not know that.

NPR Photogenics

This is my ID picture:

Yeah, take a good look at it.


One word comes to mind: yikes. Was this an "it's early Monday" thing? Doubt it. Was this a "I'm too sexy for my ID picture" thing? Doubt it. Was this proof that every picture I take is a crappy one? Probably. So now I'm stuck with this scathing representation of myself. Every morning I put in in my pocket and wince. So when you don't see me wearing my ID around my next, you'll know why.

But, over the past three weeks I have been able to come to terms with this atrocity.

First there was denial: "There is no way that I look like that. Look at the quality of the picture! I swear it's the pixel resolution's fault!"

... then anger: "I don't care if I can't open doors. I'm not bringing this thing anywhere."

... barganing: "Maybe I could just take Patrick Jarenwattanon's. I mean who would even notice?"

... depression: "I have lost the will to live."

... and finally... acceptance: (see next paragraph)

So then I started thinking, "well this IS radio after all." Ahhh the beauty of radio: the beauty of non-beauty. Here we are behind microphones and computer screens. And will anyone know a difference if we are wearing tuxedos or bathrobes? Doubt it.

Thanks ID picture for being such a pain in the ass, that I actually like taking you around.