Thursday, August 28, 2008

And now on politics...

I choked-up during Biden's speech last night and I am re-energized.

I think it has to do with the fact that I am now fully, completely and consciously aware of the presidential process. I have had an active part in it since August 2007 when ABC kicked off the first presidential debate - but as we inch closer to November, I continue to get more excited and less lethargic.

Biden, not just a representative of Delaware but also the whole Delmarva area - which I fall into being form the Eastern Shore - certainly helped.

In the 2004 race I was barely old enough to vote. I wasn't a fan of neither George Bush nor John Kerry anyway so I was disinterested and any election before that was off my radar, leaving me bored by politics and finding civic engagement dull. Yet, I managed to double major in it with journalism. Hmm. Didn't think about that until just now.

Now I'm engaged, glued to Drudge, Politico and various others on a daily basis and most of all, excited, hopeful, because I can feel what my parents were talking about with Kennedy. In turn, I become deeply soured during conversations with my 18 year-old sister who tells me, "I don't understand politics. Registering to vote is worthless because I'm neutral on everything."

"You're wrong!" I say, "CARE!" I say. What a leaf I've turned.

Regardless of who's got the nomination and what I'm registered as (Republican - though I think I'm really just a closet Democrat... or maybe a Libertarian) it's so much beyond that. It's knowing I have been a part of history and made it happen. We all have. For the first time, my generation can add politics as something "never been done before" to our list of stories for the grand kids. Who would have ever thought.

My friend Erin said it perfectly on her blog:

"Seeing the unity and diversity at the convention has been positively inspiring. And at no time was it more apparent than this afternoon, when the first female Speaker of the House led a roll call which was ended by the first serious female Presidential candidate to nominate the first black Presidential candidate. It's amazing."

Don't Sunbathe Topless!

Big Brother Google Earth is watching!

My boyfriend and I talked about this over dinner last night when I brought up the "boulder hunting" story (see previous post) and I was sort of put off thinking about how technology has now made this possible.

Google Earth will in fact find you naked, topless, playing twister, whatever in your own backyard. There's even a website devoted to it - WARNING: DO NOT OPEN THIS ON A WORK COMPUTER: Google Sightings.

I understand I'm probably a little behind on this, and if you're sunbathing topless in your backyard you're probably also bold enough not to care who sees you, but really, doesn't it seem to be a bit much that the whole world is able to zoom around your property after a swift look in the phone book for your address? You're probably thinking, well who is going to take the time to look up a specific person's address... just need a zip code really and I'm sure 90210 comes to mind for several seekers of naked people. You could also just search "Nice, France" or "Barcelona, Spain" or...

Omg, Tom Cruise let Katie Holmes out of the house?! I see them almost to their car... where are they going...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quote of the Day - From the Workplace

"That'd be great. I think using satellite images will get a lot of folks into the idea of what they might find if they use Google Earth. Sort of excite folks to do their own boulder hunting." - our new Earth producer on an upcoming project

"i am looking for creepy dino music...that's just what came to mind." - one of our video producers

Friday, August 22, 2008

Joe McCain Gives Out Hugs

While gchatting...

Samantha: I just got a hug from Joe McCain, john mcCain's brother

Samantha: and all i could think about was whether or not he's the older or younger brother

me: what???? where??!

Samantha: yea, he's a guest on newstalk today. im not producing it but i was introduced to him. yea, random

me: how did you give him a hug? did you get a photo?

Samantha: no we were talking and i said i had to go back to work and he's like "no you dont. you need to know what a deadline is like hahaha" and gave me a pull in kinda of side hug.

me: what!?!?! thats adorable.

me: i can't believe you told john mccain's brother you had to get back to work

Samantha: it was super awkward. joe mccain, the host of the show and a reporter were talking beforehand. i was just standing. i thought it was an okay move.

me: what to just jump in? you're amazing. and ballsy. so like you were standing on the set? hanging out? how did you get into the conversation?

Samantha: i was pulled in. "come meet the anchor's real boss."

me: what did you do?

Samantha: i just laughed and tried to not be completely awk.

me: you flirted with him didn't you, you saucy minx.


me: well?

Samantha: NO

"That was the least sketchy, sketchy thing you could have done!!!"

Thanks, Ruth.

I apologize for writing so many traffic stories but it's really how I've come to interact with people outside my house and work circles.

So anyway, I was driving into work this morning and there was traffic mayhem EVERYWHERE because all of Philadelphia Ave. once you cross from Takoma Park into Silver Spring was shut down completely to clean-up an accident.

Not knowing my way around very well, I followed everyone else down Fenton St. and made a quick left down some random side street to see if I could cut back over to Georgia Ave. when two suits flagged me down.

A man and a woman waved and yelled for me to stop. They seemed normal and totally confused so I slowed down and rolled down my window to see what was up. They were horribly lost and late for a meeting.

"Do you know how to get to the building with the big hand on East-West Highway?" the man asked me.

"You mean NOAA?"

"Yes! That's the one! We're really late and we don't know where we are," he said, "can you give us directions?"

I tried to explain to them how to get there but I don't know street names. When I walk with people from Discovery to other places for lunch or whatever, we take short cuts through alleys and parking lots. So I defied everything I had been taught about safety. A flash of the Nickelodeon special "STRANGER DANGER" hosted by Linda Ellerbee ran through my mind, but I ignored it and did something I had never done before.

"Well, you know what," I said, "I work at Discovery and NOAA is right around the corner from us. If you're comfortable with it, I can give you a ride."

The man and woman starred at me, shocked. "Are you comfortable with that?" the woman said.

After explaining to me they were both scientists coming to NOAA for discussions about science things, we chatted as I tried to maneuver through the detour. Turns out the woman lived and worked in my hometown for seven years before she moved away in 1984. Weird.

I eventually let them off at the front door with their business cards in my hand.

"Don't ever hesitate to hit us up for stories for Discovery!" the man said as they thanked me and waved good-bye.

I've been at work for over two hours now and I still can't believe I did that. They could have murdered me, says my friend Ruth. Well perhaps, but I filled my do-nice-things-for-others quota for the week and I tired something I've never done before. Crazy day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Best. Flip Off. Ever.

I was driving on I-495, which I only have to be on for three exits when I'm coming back from my parents' house, and as I came off of Rt. 50 West to get onto the beltway, an old black Corolla came racing up behind me out of nowhere.

The woman with crazy brown hair and sunglasses kept riding my ass - I was already going 75 to get up to the speed of traffic - so I decide to move over into the next lane on the left to get out of her way.

She rides up beside me on the right side, even with my car.

I glance over and I see her screaming, "F%$&!!! S&#T!!! F#@%&*G B@##H!!!! Get the F$&K OFF THE ROAD!!!!!" or something to that effect at the top of her lungs as she bangs her middle finger against the driver side window. This continues for another couple seconds before she takes off, passes in front of me, and races all the over to the HOV lane.

As she moves, I notice that she has something hanging on the inside of her backwind shield. It's a big yellow sign that says, "CAUTION: BABY ON BOARD."

"I Think-I'll Have My Staff Get That For You"

That was McCain's response when Politico asked him how many properties he owns. The rumor is somewhere between four (according to staffers) and seven (Newsweek).

Obama camp's response? An ad. With a lot of "hmmm's" in it. That was fast, guys, but it sounds a little like Sesame Street: "McCain has seven. Seven houses! Ah, Ah, Ah!"

Gov. Tim Kaine (D-Va., Obama supporter, rumored to be on Obama's VP list) had an answer for the confusion on CNN. "He can't count high enough." Watch the video HERE.

That's not my favorite part though.

"McCain’s comments came four days after he initially told Pastor Rick Warren... [McCain's] threshold for considering someone rich is $5 million... [later] McCain did not offer an alternate number, but had a new answer ready.

'I define rich in other ways besides income,” he said. “Some people are wealthy and rich in their lives and their children and their ability to educate them. Others are poor if they’re billionaires."

Oh god, I uhh... sorry I thought I was going to throw up there for a second. Still good.

(Special thanks to Drudge Report for flagging these together - I heart you - and ABC News for making Drudge and pointing me in the direction of the video. Oh yeah, and Politico for the scoop.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Awkward Morning After... Continues

So right after I posted the story of "Paco" and "Cimorine" I got an email from my father about it.

Dad is very lovable and I adore him with all my heart, but he's traditional, conservative and without meaning to, he presents himself in a manner that commands respect from others. Others gladly give it to him.

So you can imagine my shock when I received this:

From: Dr. Morris Z. Effron
To: Lauren Effron
Subject: blog

Hey Lauren -
It's a slow morning so when Google Alert for came up, I opened it - and am still laughing!! - Paco and Cimorine - the names alone are entertainment enough, not to mention the well written story. Peter Taylor should do so well!

Cop Commits Fraud For Bigfoot Hoax

I'm much more surprised - and impressed - at the great lengths this cop took to get media attention than I am that the "legendary ape-man" was fake. I know, me and the rest of the world.

Thawed Bigfoot 'Body' Just a Rubber Suit

More surprising - even though the cop will probably get laid off and have to pay a fine/do time, researchers still paid him for the 'body.' Really? Although, my boss had a really good point, "well, you dont' want to miss a new species on a technicality."


It got me thinking though as to why this got so much attention. We joke about August being a slow news month but let's stop for a minute and think about all the "professionals" who were interviewed for this story -, Squatchdetective Radio, Searching for Bigfoot Inc... the list goes on.

Bigfoot isn't alone either - Lockness, Chupracabra, and many others.

While I find it hilarious and a little bit sad that people have taken enormous lengths to have websites and radio shows devoted to mythical creatures and urban legends, it's also inspiring to see us wanting to believe in something - no matter how outrageous. We don't want to be told all of the Earth's mysteries are solved and that we'll never find a unicorn in the woods some day.

Mythical Unicorn Found... in Deer Form

So what does that mean? Are people just crazy? No, at least ten million people read/heard the Bigfoot story, so maybe we're just looking for excitement in the daily grind, something to talk about, think about and hope for. Some days it takes a big man to fill those shoes.

If you ever do see the real Bigfoot though, don't call 911.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Awkward Morning After with Paco and Cimorine

After being given permission to blog about this - because it's just so freakin' hilarious - the only stipulation given to me was that I change the names.*

So this is the story about a morning after ... with Paco* and Cimorine* as told to me by Cimorine.

Paco and Cimorine had been on two dates with a third in the future. Having just met two weeks ago at a community dinner and realizing they both went to the same college, Paco and Cimorine instantly hit it off. They talked for hours and at the end of the night, Paco drove Cimorine home. Right before she stepped out of the car, he worked up the courage to ask her out. She said yes.

The dates began to unfold - a movie, dinner, a botched trip to the zoo... because Paco had told Cimorine that her laugh was adorable and sounded like a dying giraffe so he wanted to "go in search of a dying giraffe" at the zoo. Sadly, it was closed.

One lone Thursday evening, Paco said good-bye to Cimorine because a journey to the beach with 15 of his friends was taking him to a far away place called Delaware for the weekend. He promised to return on Sunday to see her and indeed he did.

Cimorine left for Paco's place to meet the roommates for the first time late Sunday evening with home-made cookies in hand. After a few minutes of impressing them - Paco's roommates had mentioned he talked about Cimorine "at noisome" - they approved and Cimorine grew sleepy. She figured she would just stay the night and get up early with Paco the next morning so they both could leave for work together. It would be adorable and their first night together at his place.

The two crawled under the covers and let's just say snuggled.

The following morning, Cimorine woke-up to the sun shining through Paco's window. She yawned and stretched a big stretch and waited patiently for Paco to come out of the bathroom.

Paco did and as he was getting ready, he said, "Oh by the way, Cimorine, I think you left something in my car the night I drove you home."

"Oh?" Cimorine said, "I don't remember leaving anything." She began running through a list of things she had with her that night. "No, I have my wallet, have my keys..." she checked-off mentally.

"Yeah, but I think this is yours," Paco said and in her hand he dropped a neon yellow plastic keychain in the shape of an inch long penis.

Cimorine had gotten it at Tawanda's bachorette party a few weeks ago. Stammering, shuttering, the mortified Cimorine tried to explain. Paco just laughed.

"If I had a plastic vagina on my key ring and you found it, what would you have done?" Paco asked, thoroughly amused.

"I would have called you a creeper and never called you again!!!" Cimorine couldn't look Paco in the eye.

"I knew there would be a double standard."

WE GOT THE BIGFOOT SCOOP... and more on Jeddah

It continues.

And so did everyone else, but I'm just lovin' this and we need the clicks :)

"The promised evidence for Bigfoot DNA turned out to be an e-mail from Curt Nelson, a University of Minnesota scientist who analyzed DNA samples provided by the two men. Nelson said one of the samples came from a human, the other from an opossum. The presenters sidestepped the issue by saying that is what their Bigfoot must have recently consumed."

Full story from Discovery News HERE.

And, Top Ten Reasons Why Bigfoot Is A Hoax.

I gotta say though...those guys at least had a plan and it's also proof cops on leave/suspension should be given busy work, not sent home to sit around. They obviously start getting ideas...and thinking...and planting big foots...

And as for an update on Jeddah the missing dog. I learned from News Channel 8/ABC 7 producer aka "awesome" Sam Laz further details...the dog was supposed to go to Afghanistan to "serve" with the U.S. military. Samantha and I chatted about this on the drive to the E.Shore yesterday. Here's a reproduction of our dialogue:

Me: "So tell me how the dog got out again?"
Sam: "The airport messed up the crate and the dog got away."
Me: "What do you mean the airport messed up the crate?"
Sam: "I don't know...they put the dog in the crate wrong or switched the crates or something and it got away. Lucky it did too because it was headed to Afghanistan."
Me: "Afghanistan!?"
Sam: "Yeah, remember?"
Me: "Well then I'm pretty sure that dog had a plan to escape. She probably was whispering to all her other dog buddies at baggage claim saying, 'I can't take it man. I just can't do it. I'm freaking out!'"
Sam: "I bet she was like, 'what the eff? I'm a dog! I don't have to serve!' and made a run for it."
Me: "What did she tunnel her way out of the crate? I still don't understand how an airport says they 'messed up' the crate."
Sam: "Maybe she chewed threw the bars?"
Me: "I'm sure she saw the sticker on her crate that said AFGHANISTAN and said oh hell no and then slipped the baggage loader guy a fifty and said, 'You gotta get me outta here man.'"
Sam: "Oh yeah, here's baggage claim guy, 'oh, umm yeah, the crate just uhh just got messed up. Or something.'"
Me: "Yeah, she totally paid him off."
Sam: "I saw a picture of the dog, thing looked like a freaking dingo, with pointed ears and everything. I'm sure it was like 'fuck no, afghanistan! I'm from the wild and I'm going back!"
Me: 'Flying bullets? Shit no, I'll just go live in the bushes of D.C.!'
Sam: "Yep. Now she's skuzzy... and remains at large."

In case you were wondering... according to Sam, only Channel 8/ABC 7 covered it. Exclusive stuff, News Team.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wow CNN, Shameless Traffic Boosting Much?

I'm sure you all have picked up on this by now, but in case you haven't, Bigfoot actually made the Breaking News Red Bar on last night.

Nineteen emails later, my entire work team from Boston to Phoenix is totally engrossed and I'm sure the Mythbusters crew are warming up their cameras.

I love August, the slowest news month of the year. My friend Sam was telling about how News Channel 8 has been following a story about Jeddah the dog who got out of her cage at Reagan National and hasn't been seen since. Keep us posted, News Team!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Orioles vs. Rangers Game

The O's crushed them 9-0 in Saturdays game...

but the real champion was this guy:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

America's Dying Cities, the Tumbler, and a Cougar on Campus But Not

Here you go, waste some time here with these cool stories:

Forbes did a big Top 10 expose called "America's Fastest-Dying Cities: In Pictures" and Ohio took four of them - by far more than any other state.

Obvious city on the list - Detroit, Mich.

City sad to see on the list - Office beloved Scranton, Pa.

Oh how I wish we had the budget to cross the Atlantic, because this would be a FANTASTC Discovery Tech story - Someone over in Europe with way too much money and time actually built an exact replica of the Tumbler from Batman Begins/Dark Knight. Wow. I want. It could eat my parking garage - and the $50/month is costs to park there - for breakfast. Question is, is it a hybrid?

Also, not only can't college kids spell, they can't properly identify big cats either. The reported "cougar" on my alma mater's campus was actually a Savannah cat. Cougars don't have spots, for one. Duh.

and a Fark - Mexican Woman Fights Off Lion With Machete - sounds like a scene that should be on the side of a stoner van not a real life action sequence.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Elevator Ride With Ted Koppel

Here's a play-by-play of what happened yesterday:

Me, the jolly, bright-eyed, young PA merrily carrying a camera and her script to the elevator on the fourth floor to head down to the audio rooms on the first floor.

As I get close, I notice the doors are about to close so I call out, "No wait! Hold it for me!"

A silver-haired fox who was shorter than I pushed the "Door Open" button.

I sort of lightly leap into the elevator. "Thank you, sir," I said, smiling and I pushed "1*".

"Mmm hmm," said a gruff voice.

As I back into elevator riding position, my mind snapped, then began to scream.

"Oh my God! IT'S TED KOPPEL! Should I say something? Should I say I loved his China piece? I didn't actually watch it. What if he asks me..."

Ted Koppel gets off at Floor 3 and turns right towards the parking garage. The doors close.

"Who do I tell?!?!" Everyone.

Tad's response when I told him: Lol nice. [I'm sure] he was like, "who is this clown who's asking ME to hold the elevator."

Monday, August 4, 2008

God Drives A Champagne-Colored Jaguar, XJ Class

On my way into work this morning, I was coming to the last legs of my commute at the intersection of Philadelphia and Georgia, when low and behold, I ran into God.

I slowed down to the red light and I pulled up behind a beautiful, and I assume fairly new because it was so shiny, champagne-colored Jaguar. I always take special note of these cars because it's my mom's secret passion in life to own one by her 50th birthday and she has sighed over brochures since I was two.

Since it's such a long light, I was able to take my time scanning over the frame, wondering what Mom sees in such an old-fashioned thing. Naturally, I was curious about the driver too.

From what I could tell, she was a middle-aged black woman who throughly enjoys cigarettes at 8:40 in the morning and obviously doing okay for herself.

Completing my scan, my eyes landed on the license plate as sort of an afterthought - It read: "ITS GOD"

I've started carrying my camera around with me for such blogging occasions, but I chickened out on taking a picture of the plate. I was afraid of how "God" might smite me and also I think it may be illegal.
Photo not taken by me.

It got me thinking about a story WTOP's Mark Seagraves told me he did once on the crazy vanity license plate requests your local DMV gets on a regular basis and what standards they have to allow such a request go through - and they're high and thorough. One man requested to have the chemical compound used in the gas chambers during the Holocaust put on his plate, but the DMV checked it out and denied it in time.

I wonder what the average person thinks about when paying the extra $25 (in Maryland) or $10 (in Virginia) to have their car branded.

This particular woman just proved to me Ellen Degeneres was right all along:

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Shorts Suit

I only heard about this because I thought I was being funny with making fun, but instead I almost had my words for lunch.

A co-worker of mine came strolling into work this morning wearing shorts, but not just any shorts. Indeed, Matt was wearing shorts he had made from cutting off the legs on his skinny jeans. Rocking the frayed and fringed edges with the sleek pant legs, he just looked at me and said, "What? I needed some shorts."

Aside from the fact I believe guys over the age of 12 should be banded from wearing jean shorts (no offense Matt), wearing shorts to work in general is traditionally frowned upon in the professional world. But of course, Matt had a counter argument that I couldn't find a good defense for, and as usual, Matt - being from Brooklyn - presented it to me all wrapped up nice in a New York Times piece that ran yesterday.

Presenting the newest fashion trend to come out of Bazzi, DG and Prada - The Shorts Suit

The picture above says more than it all - I specifically enjoy the male in grey on the left, he just optimizes what this look says to me: lights, camera, I'M AWKWARD. With the pant legs cut off and dress shoes without socks to match, how can you be taken seriously?

I find it hard to imagine that guys across the business nation are going to be sporting this while looking a Japanese billionaire square in the eye and saying, "You won't regret this deal with us, Mr. Yoshi."

And what do we even call this look, this "shorts suit"? Business Metro? The interviewee in the article claims they are just simply combining fashion with comfort because it gets hot in the summer time.

"For Mr. Avery, a man in a shorts suit is no more startling than a woman in a miniskirt," it reads, and it goes to say even hospitals are starting to accept shorts as part of the uniform.

Why not bring back the seersucker? It breathes well and is more attractive than having your male doctor's hairy legs be the last thing you see while laying face down on the operating table before they put you under.

P.S. Im on the Feedbag again today because James was on vacation. Click here and then click on "Listen" under "Discovery News"