Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Charlie Brown-ist Christmas tree you ever did see

I know it's not much, but as a recent college grad, I girl-scouted my way into bringing Christmas cheer into our humble home the best I could with this Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Tad's parents graciously lent us a put-together-yourself six footer. The Christmas lights were once a year-round dorm room decoration (naturally), and the snowflakes I made myself with a simple folding and cutting technique I learned in, well, 5th grade girl scounts. I think Martha would be a little bit proud.

For all you Thankgiving enthusiasts out there - people who believe Thanksgiving should be honored before Christmas tramples all over it - I hear you and I apologize. My family has a tradition to put up our Christmas tree after Thanksgiving dinner. In my mind it was almost that time anyway so I was itching to get on with the project. My Monday nights are always the most exciting.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

After being the writing fiend that I was for a while, I'm a little disappointed in myself for taking over a week to get back into it. It's been busy, so I'll just quickly play catch-up with some highlights...

Thursday 11/13: Bravo TV's Tim Gunn from "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" and the famed "Project Runway" came to campus as part of the ODK lecture series. His lecture: Transitioning Your Style. Tad was gracious enough to not only score us free tickets, but also sit with me through what was certain to be a very girly lecture.

Gunn, who is a D.C. native, said of himself, "I am not a fashion designer, more like a fashion therapist," and talked about how he had spent almost 30 years in academia before "retiring" and jumping on with Bravo.

To thunderous applause - the Grand Ballroom was sold out so there had to be at least 600 people there - he took our questions. By far the best answer he gave was to the first question:

Girl: "Sometimes I find it hard to dress in cute clothes because I'm working on my masters in psychology and my whole department is men."
Gunn: "Why do you feel that way?"
Girl: "Because I'm afraid they won't take me seriously if I wear something girly."
Gunn: "If they say anything to you, I would just bitch slap them!"

It was an awesome way to open up the show and Gunn said he was shocked at the welcoming reception he received. I'm sure he didn't expect to get mobbed at the end as he tried to walk out either...

but I can't really comment negatively on that madness:

(Lauren, Make it work. Tim Gunn XX)

Friday/Saturday 11/14-15: Pretty boring. Friday, I crashed the ODK happy hour at AppleBee's but it was storming so we stayed in after that. My parents brought us a rug for our hallway on Saturday...

Before sitting through a tornado/thunderstorm at the Maryland/UNC game. Real Terps fan bleed red, they say.

Sunday 11/16: Took my 3 p.m. on Sunday photo...

Then Tad and I went to the Redskins/Cowboys game - my birthday/Christmas gift to him and the first professional football game for both of us.

Even with my little football awareness, I knew this was a big game because obviously we were playing Dallas, but also it was the first time Clinton Portis had been back in for a while because of a knee injury.

Finding ourselves surrounded by mostly rude Dallas fans, Tad and I screamed, stomped, jumped, and clapped our way through the game. We had awesome seats, if I do say so myself.

I had to hand it to Tad. Usually when the Redskins lose, I have to leave the room and let him cool off alone for a few hours, but when it got down to the last minute and a half, Dallas pulled ahead and then got that first down, he turned to me smiling and said, "Thank you for this, I had a great time!"

Monday 11/17: Our head video producer James Williams and I went out to the farms at UMD to interview Dr. Zimmermann of Animal Sciences about turkeys.

The problem was, we were looking for more of a general "Hey! This is why turkeys are awesome animals!" interview, but Dr. Z specialized in turkey reproduction so the entire interview was an awkward lecture on turkey sex. James tried to slip in the word "wiener" to sort of liven it up, but there's no breaking a professor's gait once he gets into lecturing mode. Needless to say, I know way more about how turkeys reproduce than I ever wanted to and I have to give James and I both credit for being able to keep it together.

We did find out from Dr. Z why you don't see turkey eggs in the grocery store for a piece Kasey-Dee, another video producer on our team, was working on. Here's your answer...

Bright spot of that interview: I FINALLY got to see Maryland's "holy" cow. All this time living on campus and I hadn't seen her, nor did I know that all Maryland students are allowed to come to the barns to see the animals whenever they want. Oh well.

Tuesday 11/18: James and I headed out to Good Fortune Farm, a free range poultry farm in Brandywine, Md. where they have, you guessed it, TURKEYS. And they are HILARIOUS! (see some of the footage in the above video)

Did you know turkeys will all gobble at the same time when you talk? Imagine trying to interview the farmer with 25 turkeys in the background going off all at once. James and I could not keep it together. At one point, the farmer said, "I guess if you're around them a lot you get used to it and it's not funny." He was a great interview though. You'll see when I post our Top 5 Reasons Turkeys Kick Ass (working title)next week.

We had quite an emotional shift after that because we when got back, we had to attend a mandatory "All Hands on Deck" department meeting, where they put us in a room and basically said, "if you're here then you still have your job." Lots of people company-wide got fired that day without notice and I felt sick to my stomach. And lucky.

Wednesday 11/19: The real flu hits me and I had to leave work early. Not bird flu, just the aches, exhaustion, chills, etc. Tad could tell I wasn't feeling well because I was reading a food column in Women's Health and said, "It says here kale is good for your fish. I mean brain."

I think it was from being out in the cold for the past three days in a row, and possibly the stress of thinking I was getting the ax.

Thursday: 11/20: Came in, but wasn't feeling any better so I left work early again. Tad kept telling me to just take a sick day, but I didn't feel I could do that in good conscience when I had a job I could take a day off from. I did go to bed at 7pm that night though.

Friday 11/21: Feeling 100% better. It was a good thing too because it was a crazy day at work. Discovery had aired this show called, "JFK: Inside the Target Car" over the previous weekend and to promote it, my team was asked to make mini webisodes for the Web site. The show was about some experts who recreated the JFK assassination using new technology and basically concluded that Oswald worked alone, that no way was there a shooter on the grassy knoll, judging from JFK's wounds. BIG score for us.

When we were given content to make the webisodes, we were given footage of a "missed 3rd shot." It was a shot fired from the fake grassy knoll but the sharpshooter missed slighty to the right. It set the experts back because the wound in the JFK dummy from that shot looked similar to his real wounds. Meaning, the grassy knoll can't be 100% ruled out after all.

Problem - the "Target Car" show team cut out this scene in its final production and it wasn't included in the show when it aired.

Result - Massive public outrage - I'm not exaggerating - people saying that Discovery was in on the JFK conspiracy, that we work for the government, that we're holding the truth back, etc. etc.

So we got the word from our boss's boss's boss and scrambled to put this together for the site. WARNING: Even though they use dummies, it's graphic.

Other exciting things that happened: I had an awesome "Quote of the Work Day"
NYEffie831: when i lick on your blog i get an error
NYEffie831: *CLICK

And I got Goggle themes! (I chose pebbles. I find it calming.)

Today, Saturday 11/22: I'm up early because Tad headed out to be a part of ODK's "Walk for the Homeless" team and Sam Laz spent the night so she could cover a Thanksgiving parade in the area for News Channel 8, so I got up to see them both off. That's been my life up until now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Work Quote of the Day

Coworker 1: "You realize you wrote on the white board, 'Jorge: Deeper Look at JFK Ass'"

Me: "In my defense, I put a period at the end of it to show I was abbreviating."

Coworker 2: "No, that just tells me that the sentence has ended and is supposed to be read as such."

Barney reacts to the election(?)

Special thanks to Discovery News' Jennifer Viegas for finding this video. Check out her blog today for her feature on "Top 10 Reasons Why The Obamas Should Adopt an Adult Cat."

Barney, the Bush family's adorable Scottish terrier, gave a nasty reaction to the press when they tried to interview him (not kidding, this whole 24 hour news/presidential pet stories thing is getting WAY out of hand).

Here's proof... but to be honest, I probably would have done the same thing if some strange man stuck his hand in my face.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Shore Goes Blue, First Time in Almost 20 Years

A Democrat took the Maryland District 1 Congressional seat for the first time in 18 years, and it really says something about the way people vote in my hometown district.

It's not because the country is moving more left or because a Democrat won the White House. No, it's more personal.

This is all extremely biased of course, because I only talked to a hand full of people back home about this, but from what I've gathered it was simple: the Democratic candidate was an Eastern Shore resident and the Republican candidate was not and couldn't possibly understand the needs of his constituents on the Shore without living among them.

A while back, District 1 was redistricted to include some of Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County to make the traditionally Republican-held area more blue-balanced. In this year's race, State Senator Andy Harris was a Republican from the Baltimore area and after beating long-time incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrist in the primaries, he faced challenger Frank Kratovil, a Stevensville (Queen Anne's Co.) resident. It took them a week to count the absentee ballots because the race was so close.

Surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal wrote a story about it, which you can check out here.

But there's a reason why my neighbors proudly display the bummer sticker, "There's no life west of the Chesapeake Bay." It's just a "Shore thing."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Post-Election Relaxation

This past week has taken a physical and mental toll on all of us. I have liberal friends who were out partying in front of the White House until 4am on Nov. 4th, and I have a conservative mother who will only say about the election, "Yeah, well, it is what it is."

In the middle of this monstrous bubble of stress, I took the weekend off and mostly just laid around, catching up on sleep, with the exception of one treat.

My friend Ruth and I just spent the afternoon at True Nail Spa in White Oak getting the "Day of Beauty" package. We thought we had earned it after 22 months. I wasn't able to document my experience with photos like Erin did, but I did manage to sneak one shot for our 3 p.m. on Sunday photo blog.

When our attending staff asked us if we were celebrating a brithday or an engagement, we got some laughs and some looks when we answered, "Nope, just the election and that it's over."

This was my first spa treatment and while it wasn't New York or Georgetown, I did walk out of there in a "so0o0o relaaaaxxxxxed" haze so it was just as good.

After having my feet sugar-scrubed, and toes files and painted, I had a hand paraffin wax treatment which my attending woman, Amy, left on for half an hour while she did my "European" facial. Several hours later, my hands are still velvet soft.

The facial was intense. I had my eyes closed for most of it, but I felt several different lotions and oils, and then pain as Amy apologized over and over for "cleaning out" my pores. I have to give her this, although red and splotchy, my face has never looked shinier or smoother.

She made up for it afterwards with a full body hot stone massage, which was an imcredible feeling. She moved the stones very quickly so not to blister my skin - as she said would happen if she went slower - but the hot touch relaxed and woke my muscles up at the same time. I'm not sure how else to describe it except that when she would ask me questions like, "too hot?" or "how's the pressure?" I could only mumble out a "mm hmm." It's possible I dozed off.

Feeling a little oily but comfortable, Amy finished me up with a manicure, and bam, three hours later, I felt like a whole new woman.

I have to be careful, because I may have woken up an expensive Pandora's Box, and Amy was so kind to encourage it by telling me I need to come back once a month to have my pores cleaned. I'm not sure that's going to fit in the budget, but I'm probbably going to find a lot more excuses to need pampering from now on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Eff Florida"

From my bed, I watched people laughing, cheering, waving and crying as they flooded the streets of U, Pennsylvania, 42nd, Grant Park's Randolph and thousands more last night. I had two thoughts: How I longed to be with them, to be out there, (hell, to be in a newsroom), and how proud I was. Proud that people were celebrating life together again.

I'm sure my reflections will be no different than the reflections in the Post and the Times and other blogs, but I press on because I can't shake this feeling of intense uplift, and how I was involved in the biggest election in American history and certainly the biggest political change in my short lifetime. That I'll be able to tell my children, "I was there, I saw this happen, I was a part of it," like my parents have done with me about the moon, Dallas, Birmingham and Watergate. It's absolutely moving and I'm proud to feel this way.

I was an intern for ABC News June-August 2007 and January-May 2008. I had worked on the first presidential debate with George Stephanopoulos in New York on August 19, 2007, and through the whole mess of having YouTube video questions. I started my second internship in their Political Unit/Digital Media on Jan. 2, 2008, a day before the Iowa caucus. I wrote why we vote on Tuesday for them. I was in their newsrooms until 2 a.m. on Super Tuesday, only to get up at 5 a.m. the next day to go back. I covered Obama's rally at Maryland for them. I helped get out the Radars when Biden, Richardson, Paul and several others dropped out. Jack Tapper hailed me as "deputy managing editor" for his blog, Political Punch when I would find him pop culture political tidbits. For months, I worked on the candidates' timelines, games and their trivia, helped out on The Note, and so much more.

I couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness and longing that I couldn't be with the team last night, but I can certainly imagine how chaotic it was and how damn lucky their fall 2008 interns are.

My election day started out like many others. I rose early to beat the lines at my polling station in P.G. County, only to get there at exactly 7:00 a.m. and ended up waiting for 48 minutes. Here's me halfway to the door. About 150+ people ahead of me, and that's not counting the 100+ behind me.

I still managed to get to work on time and by that point I had already gotten texts and tweets from friends in New York saying that they were heading into hour three of standing in line.

I knew the world would be watching us. In fact, CNN had a special broadcast this morning from Madrid where they reported that Spain's national radio station canceled two futbol broadcasts to cover our election. One man who was interviewed said of the results, "This is good for Europe. This is good for all of us." But nothing prepared me to see this man taking video and photos of us standing in line at my small elementary school polling place and saying, "People in China want see you!"

Got to work and later went out on a shoot with Kasey. Kasey had already gotten her free coffee at Starbucks that morning so we went in search of free Krispy Kreme star-spangled donuts. We found a shop near the polling place we had been to, but were very angry to learn that the Krispy Kreme had just closed. Because they ran out of donuts. Completely. At 3:30 p.m., how do you run out of donuts, donut shop? Needless to say, we went back to Discovery disappointed.

By 5 p.m., everyone was so anxious that we wrapped things up and headed home. Around 8 p.m., I headed over to UMD to support and participate in the Election Watch '08 Tad had pulled together for the student union.

It was packed. At least 500 students showed up, not one wearing a McCain shirt. The food was enchiladas and hot dogs with the works in honor of Phoenix and Chicago.

In their free plastic election hats...

I sat with these students and watched - at first trying to figure out what the hell CNN was doing with those ridiculous holograms - then as they screamed and cheered as Vermont was called for Obama, then most of the Northeast, then Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia. Finally, as CNN lead the countdown to when the polls closed on the West coast, I was starring at the screen with the rest of them, waiting, and suddenly like Times Square on New Years Eve it was there: CNN BREAKING NEWS: BARACK OBAMA IS ELECTED PRESIDENT.

The whole room erupted, and I just stared. It took me at least eight seconds to comprehend what I was reading. I couldn't compute the words at first. Not because I didn't believe them, but because I was shocked Wolf didn't provide extra commentary or wait a few minutes for the poll results to come in. It was just... BAM. We have a new president.

As Tad hugged me and did a couple of fist pumps, I began jumping up and down too.
"I can't believe it," I said. "Look how many states are still grey and yellow. They just announced it, just like that? They haven't even called Florida!"
"Pssh, Eff Florida," Tad replied, and he got on the phone to call his parents.

It was an off-the-cuff statement, but it was truth. After being beaten in 2000 over a recount in one state, a state that was slated as an electoral pot of gold, Florida had lost its crown and had become trivial and unimportant to the Democrats this year. What a change. What an election. What a journey.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hockey Mom Evita Sings For Obama

Annoying... but hilarious

Quote of the Work Day, again.

"Wait, Jimmy Carter was the first president to be born in a hospital? But that was like, 20 years ago! What have they been using?"

Quote of the Work Day

I'm going to fill you in on my hilarious election stories later this evening because I want to upload my photos with it, but for now, enjoy...

"Maybe they will let me run through the glaze machine! It's always been a dream of mine. Maybe i shouldn't have said that. Ha. Whatev. i am totally asking."

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Fine Fall Day

After coming off Halloween debauchery...and then spending most of Saturday sleeping, I was dying for some fresh air and exercise.

So Tad and I dragged out the bikes and headed over to the Indian Creek trails near Lake Artemisia. He was very patient with me as he put up with my picture taking. At the risk of sounding like a bird-watching senior citizen, the fall foliage was beautiful and here's what I snapped while riding. I'm kinda impressed with myself because some of these turned out great and I managed not to run into anything.

Getting started... pulling the bike out of the back room and into the yard.

Start of the trail. That's Tad in the red sweatshirt.

Colorful trees

Geese on the lake.

Trail around the lake and running along the metro line.

Sun reflecting on lily pads floating on the lake.

Going deeper into the woods on the trail.

A beautiful view of the fall leaves.

Tad taking it all in... or waiting for me to stop taking photos haha.

Bridge over Indian Creek.

The creek.

The sun setting through the leaves. And the top of Tad's head.

Heron in the creek.

If you look close, you'll see this branch had all the fall colors in it: red, yellow, orange, green, and all the ones in between.