Friday, July 6, 2007

Word for the (un)Wise

Pepperoncini, also known as Tuscan peppers, sweet Italian peppers, waxed peppers, and golden Greek peppers, are a variety of Capsicum annuum. While called "pepperoncini" in American English, in Italy these and other sweet varities of peppers are known as peperoni (singular peperone), while the term peperoncini (singular peperoncino) is used for hotter varieties of chili peppers.

Evidently I had never been exposed to this word beforehand, and thought it was a typo for "pepperoni" on the Port of Piraeus menu. The relevance here is that I have a hard time with anything spicy. I mean, I had heard of sweet peppers before, but not this. Am I alone here?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Married With Children

I don’t know if I am the only one of us interns Married with Children – but even without my husband being Al Bundy (Thank God!) – life is not easy as I pursue this radio career. It’s 15 years after I getting my B.A. and now at age 34, with a husband and 2 babies in tow – I am getting my Masters in Broadcast Journalism. As interns, we are all on the same path. But I wonder how many of you, especially the women in the group, have considered how challenging it will be to go full force in life as a journalist and a parent, if you choose to do so. I’m not eliminating the men from this conversation, but the truth of the matter is 1) career-driven men are more likely families than women and 2)the bottom line is no matter how 50/50 your marriage is, mom’s innately have more responsibilities than dads. It’s not a sexist thing – it’s just the way it goes. My husband is a there-all-the-time Dad and my kids love their Daddy to pieces -- but in the middle of the night if they have a nightmare, they instinctively call for mom. When they climb into our bed at 3am in the morning, they scrunch up on mommy’s side. When the ouchie hurts, they run to mom. It’s just our lot in life as moms – and I embrace it whole-heartedly. I was a stay-at-home mom for three years before I went back to school – and evening admitting that not only do I have to work – but that I want to work is a hard pill to swallow. Some kind of way, it’s perceived that you are saying my career is more important than my kids. I eventually got over that Mommy worry, but now after being here at NPR for a month and especially after hearing all the accolades and achievements for employees at the employee appreciation lunch, it feels so selfish to say “I want to do that too!” (like covering the Pope’s death, being stationed in N.O. for Katrina and touring with a presidential candidate). It’s like I am saying I wish I had that life over the life I have now. And while I obviously love my husband and kids to pieces, I do feel cheated out of a career I really want. I guess in Him anything is possible – but it’s hard to cover the nation’s top stories and take the kids to gym class and swim lessons at the same time. Something’s got to give. Just some food for thought for you “youngin’s” as you conquer your dreams in journalism. At some point, if you choose to have a family – you may come to this crossroads too. But I must say – my satisfaction comes when I think about someday watching my son at his first school play, or dropping him off for his first day of kindergarten, and as time goes on, playing midnight basketball with them on a Friday night. I have to believe no breaking news, no story, no award will ever live up to those moments. For now – I just go forward doing the best I can with all I got.
Kenya Young, NPR West

What to Do On Your Lunch Break

The NPR offices in Washington have the advantage of being situated near a number of sights worth seeing. While you can't get too much done in an hour, here are a few museums and other attractions nearby.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery
Open every day from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The recently restored Reynolds Center houses both the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. Three floors of art to explore! Main entrance on F St. but you can also enter on G St. at 8th.

National Building Museum
Open Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free, $5 suggested donation
The building itself is an architectural gem, but the museum also houses exhibits devoted to architecture, design, engineering, construction, and urban planning.

International Spy Museum
Open every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., last admission at 6 p.m.
F St. between 8th and 9th Sts.
The secret world of espionage isn't so secret anymore.

Ford’s Theatre and Peterson House
Open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
10th St between E and F
Operated by the National Park Service, you can pop in and see the site of Lincoln’s assassination in Ford’s Theatre or the room where he met his demise across the street at the Peterson House.

The Bead Museum
Open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
7th and D Sts.
This small museum “promotes cultural understanding through the interpretation of beads.” The collection includes a 38-foot timeline of beads and an exhibition featuring religious uses of beads. (“Beads are very big right now—anklets, necklaces, you name it.”)

And because I'm a library nerd:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library
Open M-Th 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., F-Sa 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
At 9th and G Sts.
The central branch of the DC Public Library system -- not the prettiest building around, but you can’t beat free books, movies and music!

Is Your Internship Better than Trevor’s?

Being an intern can be a lowly profession. People tell us to fetch things, they take our desks and then they make us pay $35 if we want to get on the air. Not much exposure, huh? Well, there is one summer intern who seems to be drawing a crowd.

If you haven’t met Trevor, let me introduce you:

This is Trevor, a 19-year-old college student from Ownesboro, Ky., who has been hired this summer as the Mentos Intern. What does this entail you ask? Well, anything that you want it to. That’s right. All day long, Trevor sits at his desk at the candy maker’s headquarters in Erlanger, Ky., talking into a live webcam that is broadcast over the web. He spends his day taking schedule requests from visitors to the site, responding to instant messages from curious spectators and answering phone calls from those who want to make a real connection.

When Trevor comes to the office in the morning, he takes a look at his schedule. If there are openings in the day, visitors can schedule an appointment with him and have Trevor do whatever they’d like. This past Tuesday, for example, Trevor displayed an act of patriotism at 9 a.m., performed yoga at 1 p.m., and will call someone’s sister at 3:45 p.m.

Why not put Trevor to use for NPR? Need to research an author? Transcribe the lyrics of a song? Come up with a new on-air promotion? Trevor could be your man.

Warning: After visiting the site for the first time, watching Trevor’s internship became bizarrely addicting. He’s not talking about anything particularly interesting or being asked to do anything too outrageous. But, there was something about Trevor and this bizarre human experiment that held my attention…for an extended period of time.

So what does this mean? Well, it means that those folks over at Mentos are pretty smart. This viral marketing scheme is sure to make it’s way around to the computer screens of thousands of interns this summer, who will most likely forward it to their co-workers, friends and family. Admirers will add Trevor as a MySpace or Facebook friend, play him on Xbox Live, or blog about him (I am such a joiner). And maybe, just maybe, all of this will have people thinking about Mentos is a new, quirky way. All hail marketing 2.0.

This site even has me taking time away from my own internship to write about Trevor’s internship. Yup, I think Mentos is going to have a good summer.

Caroline Herter

Why Size Matters...

So I've been reading this book ("Why Size Matters") by some biologist (John Bonner). It is about why size is important in the biological world. But I've been wondering if his ideas can be extended to the non-biological world. I've concluded that they can. The effects of size in the non-biological world, are such:

1. Bigger things are more impressive.

For an example, consider why the Washington Monument is the tallest structure in D.C. instead of only being, say, 10 feet tall.

2. The physical constraints of our world (existence in this realm of dimensions, physical laws, etc.) makes certain objects of certain sizes impossible.

This might take a little more thought. Obviously, why something very, very large is hard to build is obvious. The larger the structure, the larger the base and the more engineering marvels that must go towards producing it. It might no be so obvious why we cannot build something very small. It is beacuse, oddly enough, we don't fully understand the physical dynamics of the submolecular world (i.e. quantum mechanics or string theory). This is partly because it is nearly impossible to observe.

My point in all of this is that there is a reason why our world, and civilization, looks the way it does. It is beacause if is either physically impossible or impractical for it to look any other way. True, it may not have the variety of a Frank LLoyd Wright skyline, but a boxy skyscraper uses less materials to build as is just as strong, if not stronger. If you look around, you can see the implications of a structure's size on its shape, purpose, and really, the essence of what it is, or at least was supposed to be. Size gives us clues about the world around us, about why something is the way it is. And from that, I think its pretty clear that size does matter, probably more than a lot of other things.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Karma Is a Beeeep.

Got nabbed for a DUI in 1975? Inhaled as a teen? Got caught shoplifting Dr. Scholl’s gel foot-support inserts at CVS? Turn around, you’re not getting into Canada any time soon.

Ok, Canada might not be your premiere vacation destination, but geez, the land of Avril Lavigne and Celine Dion has recently gotten ultra-strict on their immigration rules. Earlier this year, many Americans trying to cross the border into Canada-land by car got a little surprise when the border patrol didn’t exactly wave them past check-point. A new system database refined between U.S. Homeland Security and Canadian intelligence has made it near-impossible for anyone who has a minor offense on their record (say, possession of marijuana in Iowa or shoplifting in Nevada) to cross the border.

The agreement began in 2002, but apparently they just fine-tuned their database, because until about five months ago, this wasn’t even an issue. According to reports, this idea was conceived post-9/11. Go figure.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a commentary with one scenario that could hit close to home with some crazy college partiers out there: One man was involved in a fraternity prank. He was on a scavenger hunt and was dared to steal something from the Piggly Wiggly supermarket. Man got caught. Man had to pay a fine and sweep the police station parking lot as punishment…20 years ago. He forgot his mistake, but Canadian police did not.

Moral of the story: If you want to get into Canada and you’ve been a bad girl or boy, you should apply for a “Minister’s Approval of Rehabilitation” to wipe your record clear.

And considering a recent research study found that 1 in 3 Americans have abused alcohol or gone into rehab in their lifetimes, I’m pondering, does this mean George Bush can’t go to Canada? Hey, at least we know Paris Hilton won’t be going skiing in British Columbia in the near future.

The West Coast Skinny II

Here in Los Angeles, celebrity sightings and exciting stories abound. For further info on Kenya's celeb sighting including a photo of her new "friend" see below! Some of us have had more luck than others--Kenya's experience was by far the coolest, but the rest of us have been this close to catching up with famous people!! Maybe we'll have Kenya's good fortune next week.

As for the rest of us, Bernie has spent this week trying to track down a basketball celebrity: Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Jack Ramsey. Like many intern endeavors however, this one hasn't yet panned out. Bernie successfully pitched his basketball story to a crowd of opinionated and occassionally ruthless producers and editors who loved it, but he hasn't yet been able to pin down the elusive coach. If anyone out there has an in with basketball hall of famers, definitely hook Bernie up!

Meanwhile, Ellie has been doing some extra-curricular celebrity spotting. At work, she's been researching more stories and also sitting in on interviews as she tries to learn as much as possible about radio. But when she's not in her cubicle, she's been able to spot the stars. This weekend's c-list celeb sightings include: lil’ romeo and that old woman from Austin powers who has a crush on dr. evil.

I've heard that a good place to catch a glimpse of Hollywood's rich and famous are the farmers markets (no joke--no one likes fresh fruit as much as Tom Cruise). This weekend, I dragged recording equipment and Ellie to Santa Monica's farmers market, where we interviewed vendors, chatted with patrons, ate delcious apricots, and spotted zero famous people. This week I also visited the Getty Center, a surreal experience that is more modern park than museum; Rodeo Drive where I tried on just about every pair of sunglasses Coach has to offer; and Abbot Kinney and the Venice Canals in Venice. Still no celebs for me :o(

Last week, I got to go with Alex Cohen to interview a woman who had her own green wedding and I got to track down one of the few people still alive today who was a witness to the Roswell, NM UFO sighting sixty years ago. He's my new favorite 71 year old.

So apart from stars, sports, and UFOs, life out in the West has been relatively normal. Hope all of you are enjoying DC, and your kayak trips and crab feasts and pool parties...from all of us out here, happy July 4th!

All the best,

Haley, Kenya, Ellie, and Bernie