Saturday, December 29, 2012

But it's tradition...

Christmas was quite fun this year, with all six of us home for what will probably be the only year in the middle of six years' worth of missions.

Our family gets really into Christmas, with all sorts of traditions. Some of them are unintentional, like the yearly argument at the Christmas tree farm over which of the trees on the hill is actually the tallest, but most of them are on purpose. For example, when we decorate the Christmas tree we take a trip down memory lane with the brass ornaments. Everywhere we go we collect them as souvenirs. Most of them have certain people who have to put them up because of the story attached.

Logan has to put up the one for the Badlands because he became a Junior Ranger there after knocking over an entire Western-themed puppet show display while trying to use his puppet to bite the ear of a girl he thought was cute. He was five. He also has to put the Portland Zoo one up in memory of when a bird pooped on his head and then Mom tried to use hand sanitizer to get it out of his hair, which just made it way worse. Dad has to put the one from Vancouver up because he was climbing over a tree in the park and split his pants. Lance has to put the one from Seattle up because he came within two inches of being hit by a half a dead rat a hawk lost its grip on. And so on. For some reason all of our best family vacation memories seem to involve laughing hysterically at one family member's misfortune.

On Christmas Eve our family spends the day making and decorating sugar cookies to deliver to friends around town. Now that we are older Dad doesn't have to race to decorate as many cookies as he can before we get to them. Even Logan is good at decorating at them now. We used to give him the reindeer to decorate every year and then when all of the plates were delivered say "Ooops, how could we forget to put the reindeer in there again this year?"

After we are done delivering the cookies we go out to eat. When we lived in Iowa the only thing in town that was open on Christmas Eve was Burger King. When we moved here and had more options Cole insisted for years that we keep going to Burger King because it was tradition. We tried to tell him that eating at Burger King on Christmas Eve was a weird tradition and he finally believed us one year when the girl behind the counter was talking loudly on her cell phone and saying "Yeah, I wish I could go home but we have to wait for this family who is still eating here. What kind of people eat at Burger King for dinner on Christmas Eve?" Now we eat at Denny's and Cole is like "Why didn't we start doing this sooner?"

When we come home all of us kids sleep on the floor in the boys' room with the door shut while Santa comes. We have our yearly Christmas Eve confessional in which we tell each other all the things that happened this year that we don't want Mom and Dad to know about, that involve things like members of the opposite gender and law enforcement and stories with content not appropriate for sharing in front of one's mother. This year we talked about [censored because Mom and Dad read this blog]. We didn't go to sleep until midnight and then Lance, who got stuck sleeping on the end and with a crocheted afghan, woke me up at 4:30 a.m. to beg to share my blankets and inform me that whoever thought it would be a good idea to make blankets with holes in them should be shot.

When we opened Christmas presents (at 5:00 a.m. instead of a civilized adult time like 8:00) we did what we normally do, which is keep rotating youngest to oldest and when it is your turn you pick out a present to give to someone else and everyone watches them open it. I think the best reaction this year was when Cole opened his racket stringer, which he thought he wouldn't get because it's more than Santa normally spends on gifts. He was like a five year old on Christmas morning, albeit a five year old who can talk nonstop for fifteen minutes straight about the difference between synthetic gut and big banger strings and the benefits of hybrid rackets before we can get a word in edgewise to tell him it's his turn to pick out a gift.

Years ago our parents decided we were getting too greedy about Christmas and announced that the amount of money for Christmas presents was being cut way back and we had to make each person in the family a gift. Over the years the homemade presents have continued in addition to buying gifts, although now they are usually more humorous than useful. I think my favorite this year was when Logan opened a CD from Lance. When he put it in we discovered it was a recording of Ducksauce's "Barbara Streisand" except instead of Barbara Streisand the guy says "Logan's sexy." I'm pretty sure it's what he listens to every morning when he wakes up now.

On Christmas night we open our stockings, which have letters from each member of the family in them. We take bets on whose letter will make Mom cry first.

Somehow the other holidays just aren't as fun.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To the editor

I was looking through my old files on my laptop today and came across the following gem from when I was opinion editor in college. I think I was really bored with studying and was going to do it as a blog post and upon second thought decided not to, possibly because I didn't want to get myself into hot water for publicly mocking readers. But I don't work there anymore so here it is:

The following is a mashup of actual lines from letters to the editor I’ve received this semester, printed with amusing typos included. These are from legitimate letters to the editor by BYU students and faculty only, not the really nutty ones I used to get from people like the guy from Salt Lake convinced the "Mormon CIA" kept deleting his blog. I also excluded poetry and letters I felt were offensively sacrilegious. Enjoy, and don’t judge all the normal people at BYU too harshly for it.

To all Lebron Haters:

I leave in New Jersey. Am disturbed by the staff of the Daily Universe. The Daily Universe has gone astray!  What a waste of ink and paper. On today's (Sept. 21st) issue of the Daily Universe there is a glaring error that would cost someone their job as an editor in the real world. I sincerely hope the editor didn't think that because both stories involved cars they should go next to each other. The author merely took her gut reaction and ran with it, which constitutes shoddy journalism at best. To write an article like this and not get the simple facts down is embarrassing to the "journalist". Learn from this mistake and just remember next time you do that, it could cost you your job. Just wanted to bring this to your attention, as others in my office were similarly offended. Thanks for devaluing my CV just a little bit more this week. I don't think I am asking too much for the Daily Universe to print an apology. Is BYU a real university? Just wandering.

Say a suspected terrorist doesn’t want to cooperate with the government, why don’t they just Jack Bauer him/her? You never hear about “massacres in the gun shop”. The Doctrine and Covenants justifies this people in "befriending" The Constitution (D&C 98:6), and you have all but declared it an enemy. Opinion: To his admirers, Glenn Beck has been a voice crying in the wilderness, a prophet who warns us that we have been wandering in darkness too long. Fact: bears eat beets. Failure to acknowledge the role this issue plays in American political policy is immensely coarse. I can't help but see the resemblance between the recent actions of Senator Harry Reid and the actions of Fredo in the film the Godfather.

Honesty is taking a punch to the stomach every time we enter the testing center. The incredible unethical power of “none of the above” has taken its toll. The bookstore offers a simple solution to the women who don’t meet their standards of perfection: buy our stuff, and quickly get the educational and spiritual understanding you lack. I saw a kid in a Boise State t-shirt today. I wanted to punch him in the gut and then barf on his face. When I see a kid in another college’s shirt it makes me want to go to McDonald’s, order everything on the menu, and try to eat it all in one sitting.
Cut it out with the Jimmer worship. Last time I checked, idol worship was very much frowned upon in the scriptures. Eventually I noted the futility of arguing with BYU fans so I decided to write The Daily Universe in the hope that someone there could stop the madness running rampant through our campus. Even though I do not partake of Jimmer worship, I will not stop anyone who chooses to serve Jimmer. Your comments were highly offensive to those of the Jimmer faith. Thank you for helping me see the error of my ways. My roommates and I have decided we will no longer pray toward Glens Falls.

I would like to take a moment to tell everyone about spinach smoothies. Who doesn’t need another pair of hot high heels, right? High heels never made anyone suicidal. Next time, I throw eggs. I think it's an important mating ritual for the LDS male, similar to a peacock's stunning display of plumage. At first I had the absurd notion that you were spreading cake batter all over your arms and hands, the smell reminding me of my favorite flavor at Cold Stone. Am I the only one that's really bothered by the posters exhorting us to celebrate our "culture of honor"? If we really wanted to get students more excited, we may want to permit alcohol inside the stadium and inside the students.

Happy Columbus Day! By the way, thanks for slaughtering my people. Everyone was enjoying a nice Columbus Day only to be confronted with implications of genocide (guised as “awareness”) directed towards them. Should the “white man” always hold the “red man” accountable for the genocide of the Nephites? Since BYU naturally attracts students of diverse nationalities, many foreign authors of letters published in the Readers’ Forum have perspectives on the United States that are informed extensively by their non-American cultures. America needs no criticism. The well-known businessman Michael Scott once said “if you are a racist, I will attack you with the North.”  Today I say to the Brigham Young University student body, “if you are an underachiever, I will attack you with cougars.”

Do we really want our future leaders listening to Lady Gaga for advice? I, frankly, am surprised this discrepancy has been allowed to continue for so long and hope to hear of changes sooner rather than later. Harold B. Lee Library, I exhort you to purge yourself of the vile and nefarious literature that you harbor within your walls.

“God, if BYU wins the national championship,” she pleaded, “I will take it as a sign that it is Thy will that I attend that school for graduate studies.” That was the only year BYU has taken the title of national champion. I was shocked. In my dream world, the crowd would faithfully cheer-on the Cougars no matter how the game was going, and politely accept even the worst calls made by the referees, or the most blatant oversights made by the team.

The word is officially out: There are some hot girls that work at the testing center, goodness! Out of the 150 or so girls that came out, I counted only 7 that were wearing shorts, skirts or dresses of the appropriate length. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll confirm that I’ve never ogled in my life. Ladies, it’s fine if you want to wear your gigantic moon boots and obnoxious head flowers, just remember that following the latest fashion trends isn’t worth sacrificing your integrity. 

To all you doubters with legs on both sides of the fence, you better evaluate your testimony and make some necessary changes or you might just find yourself without enough oil in your lamp. I am sorry if you feel left out that noone texts you I would be happy to send you a text every now and then to make you feel good or you could text one of those ads that are on late at night. Please get a life or a girlfriend or both! Do you really think that Celine Dion transposed into a minor key and played uptempo is proving to the world that they are Mozart in an unappreciated form? Honestly, I think most of the opinions expressed in the opinion section are silly.
Poker Face


Dear Letter to the Editor,

I would like to withdraw my article from the consideration for

publication.  I wrote this at a time when I was upset and reading it

now shows me that it was a foolish thing to send in. I would once

again ask that this letter not be printed ever.  Thank you.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

It was all an experiment by the Chinese

This is the time of year that TV networks usually start announcing which of their shows are getting the ax, and as usual one of my favorite new shows is getting cancelled. I don't know why I ever bother to start watching thrillers with a good hook like Last Resort, because they always get cancelled and then I never get to find out who was behind whatever the mystery was and how the person who was in peril in the final episode gets out of the situation. And it drives me crazy. Remember Flash Forward? Yeah, I'm still wondering about that one.

How hard would it be for the writers of cancelled shows to put a summary online of what would have happened next? "Dear loyal fans: The secretary was the mole. The hot guy survives by climbing down a previously unnoticed elevator shaft but he is too late to save his girlfriend from blowing up. And it was all a secret experiment by the Chinese."

My very favorite shows, quirky and somewhat nerd-friendly comedies like Community and Chuck, tend to be cancelled and then uncancelled and the renewed for "just a few more episodes" for about four or five seasons before they actually die a death so completely that even rabidly devoted fans of the trekkie variety can't scare the network into continuing them. I think that's part of why they end up being so good-- the writers understand that whole "live every day like it's your last" mentality and throw the formulas out the window. "Yeah boss, we know the hero isn't supposed to overcome the major baddie until the season finale, but we felt like blowing him up today. You're cancelling us anyway so what do you care?"

But most people don't appreciate episodes of shows that revolve around chaos theory or computer hacking marathons or Tron. NBC, home to many critically adored but low-rated shows, said they are changing their comedy brand to appeal to a broader audience. They say they are going to do that by coming up with "totally unique" show ideas, but who are they kidding? Broad audiences don't like unique ideas, they like the CSI or NCIS or Law and Order teams to solve the crime every single week. They also don't like their humor about unique topics. They like it to go something like this: "Sex! Giggle giggle." Obviously the only difference between middle school boy humor and "adult" humor is experience. And lately bigotry also seems to be doing well. Apparently if it's a made-up character instead of a real-life politician or pundit who said it, it's called edgy humor instead of an outrage.

Of course, there are always some surprises. I thought Modern Family's zingy one-liners and subtle jokes (Stella!!!) might be too smart to survive, but it's a smash hit. And Go On is doing fairly well, even though it's on NBC. Who knew that so many other people would find a show about a guy whose wife died going to therapy with a bunch of other people who also had terrible things happen to them so hilarious?

Maybe there is hope for American television after all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ten reasons to buy a newspaper

As a journalist, people seem to think I know everything. It's pretty common for people to start a sentence with, "You work for the newspaper, so you know everything, so I'll bet you can tell me why ..." Here is a little secret: You, too, could "know everything," for the amazingly low price of whatever your local newspaper charges for a subscription.

I'm always amazed at the number of bright people I know who can talk at length about presidential politics but have no clue about things going on in their own town that affect them directly. It gets really annoying when people are like "Wait I can't do what anymore?! We have to go complain and get them to change their minds! You need to write a story about how unfair that is!" when I already wrote like a billion articles about public hearings on the issue back before a decision was made. Everyone has been complaining this year that the school district is making elementary school kids who live within a mile radius of their school walk to school. Guess who wrote a story about that decision months before it went into effect? Me.

Here are some of the other reasons you should (shameless self-promotion alert) subscribe to the local newspaper wherever you live:

1) So you know how your tax money is being wasted, whether it's buying expensive equipment that will rarely be used, creating an extra position for the spouse of a current employee, sending people to trainings on on the east coast for things they should already know how to do or paying more than your annual salary to a consultant who will tell them a) what they already know, b) something anyone on the street could have told them in five seconds, or c) something that will prove to be completely inaccurate down the road. My next job is going to be as a consultant so I, too, can be presented with a large check in return for a report containing the number I got after handing my calculator to a three year old to play with, combined with the fortune from my last fortune cookie and whatever my magic eight ball told me. "Well, madam chair, based on my calculations 10,978 people will vote for the bond measure. If you embark on a journey you will find a pleasant surprise awaits, meaning that if you go out for a bond the chances of it passing are definitely yes."

2) So your entertainment life consists of more than watching TV and going to the movies. If I had a dollar for every time someone said "Wow, I really wish I had known about that event because I totally would have gone. Why didn't they advertise it more?" and we had put a preview story on the community page and had it in our entertainment listings and carried paid advertising ... I could buy myself a few gallons of ice cream at the very least. People who say there is nothing to do in their town obviously don't read the newspaper, because there are so many concerts, dances, forums, fundraisers, sporting events, poetry readings, book signings, documentary screenings, bands playing in bars, talent shows, guest lectures, contests, holiday parties and other events--many of them free or a couple of dollars--that sometimes we don't have room for them all.

3) So you know when people are dead. Seriously. More than once I've talked to someone who doesn't read the obituaries who was shocked to find out someone like a business owner or former teacher had been dead for several weeks. It can lead to awkward situations, like when someone I know asked a co-worker how their weekend was and the person said "Umm... I guess you didn't hear my [fill in the blank with a close relative] was murdered this weekend." Trust me, it's worth a few bucks a month to avoid that.

4) So you know what people you know got arrested. Proofreading the police beat often produces statements from people in our office like "So that's why my mechanic wasn't in yesterday when I went to get my oil changed!" You also might want to know if your neighbor was arrested for public indecency, if the babysitter you use most often was charged with driving under the influence or if there has been a pattern of burglaries in your neighborhood. There are also some entries that are pure entertainment, like the man who stumbled up to the road with broken bones and asked to be taken to the hospital because he had fallen down a cliff. He wasn't wearing any underwear or pants. When police searched the area they discovered a pair of women's underwear and other women's clothing. That must have been a tough choice...

5) So you know which people not to talk politics with. Sometimes people who otherwise seem totally normal can write letters to the editor containing some pretty out-there opinions. Letters to the editor can produce all sorts of insights, like which of your neighbors are in favor of legalizing marijuana because they smoke it all the time and they're fine.

6) So you can stop being curious about why all those police cars rushed past your house this morning. Chances are good a reporter rushed past right after them and took stalker photos from across the street, so you'll have a nice shot of the accident or the armed standoff to appease your curiosity.

7) So you know who to vote for. In the last election, the county commission candidate for our county who won the primary run-off by a landslide lost in the general election. Why? It might be because we published a story in which he admitted upon confrontation that he has a side job as an unlicensed, unbonded contractor who often doesn't get permits for his work either.

8) So you know about new rules and regulations. We tell people when the city council is putting together a city ordinance to ban yard sale signs or to make everyone who sells things to a consignment store get fingerprinted or to ban burn barrels in the city limits so it's not a surprise when the fire department shows up to tell you that you have to dump the yard waste you're in the process of burning out of the barrel or they will put it out.

9) So you know lots of weird stories and facts to bring up when the conversation around you is dying. For example, a local farmer owns a camel and the camel loves Wheat Thins more than anything, so they're trying to get Wheat Thins to feature their camel in a commercial. If a tomb guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ever fumbles his rifle, stumbles or messes up in any other way while on duty his bags will be packed for him by the time he gets back. And the local animal control officer who just retired said one of his worst nights on the job was when a drunk guy got rushed to the hospital after being bitten by his pet cobra and the animal control guy spent the next couple of hours rounding up the rest of the poisonous snakes loose in the house.

10) So I don't have to become a public relations person.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A world without microwaves

I guess I haven't blogged for a while. I've been too busy to spend a very big chunk of time on the computer lately. Besides, sometimes when I get home from work and I had a day where I was staring at a computer screen all day I don't really feel like more technology.

Not that I want less technology. I remembered that when our Internet and email went out at work on deadline a couple of weeks ago. That was fun. We had to go around town and collect things like the police report, obits, etc. that we would normally be pulling off of email and then retype them. Meanwhile someone was going home and downloading things like political cartoons and syndicated columns onto a flash drive.

I don't know how journalists did it before email and Facebook and everybody and their dog having a website. I can tell you I would have spent waaay more time on the phone (I hate talking on the phone) because I would have had to call back people I had interviewed to check with them on things like "What was your official title again?" or "What is your wife's name?" Now I can just Google them or look them up on Facebook, which is so much better, especially if they aren't answering the phone and the story is due in half an hour. Stalking beats talking.

Come to think of it, I don't know how people did a lot of things today's technology. What would happen if you were meeting up with someone who was saving you a seat in a stadium or you split up at the mall and needed to meet back up? I'm pretty sure some of the old people that you see walking around by themselves are still trying to meet up with their high school friends they couldn't find because they couldn't text them to ask where they were sitting. The ones who are sitting down are probably still waiting for someone that they were supposed to meet up with who couldn't call their cell phone to tell them they weren't coming after all.

Or what about when people couldn't TiVo shows or look them up on Hulu? You would have to be home at the same time every week or you would miss episodes and you wouldn't be able to look up a recap online. It would be so confusing. Lost would have been cancelled after the first season.

I'm also grateful for digital cameras. It's nice to be able to take ten pictures of the same thing without worrying about wasting film, and it's great that you can see right then and there if the photo turned out. Back in the days of film, you had wait until you finished up the role of film and got it developed before knowing whether or not your 16th birthday will be forever represented by a photo of you with your eyes closed.

I don't know what people did without microwaves, either. Sure, you could use one of those popper machines to make popcorn and you could make food with actual ingredients instead of a TV dinner with unidentifiable blobs of food that look nothing like the picture on the box. But what about reheating leftovers? If you wanted to zap some leftover waffles for a snack or melt some cheese over a leftover roll you would have to wait fifteen minutes for the oven to preheat, put it in a metal pan and wait for it to cook. And then it would be overdone instead of merely warm.

I also wonder how people dealt with the seemingly primal human urge to figuratively shout "Look at me! I exist!" without blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. How would you all know what I think about microwave dinners if I couldn't blog? How could I know people "like" the fact that I got paint in my hair? If someone has an opinion and they don't post it on Twitter, does the opinion matter?

So yeah, I definitely wouldn't want to live before all this wonderful technology. Although there would be perks to going without it until after the election season. I can imagine how past generations did without political chain emails...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Emoticon Period

Some people panicked recently when it was reported that private email-like messages on Facebook from before 2010 had become public when people switched over to the Timeline format. It turns out that Facebook, as well as several media outlets, investigated and found that in every single instance the messages reported as private were cross-checked and discovered to be legitimate wall posts that had never been private to begin with. Which is definitely a relief.

To quote a TechCrunch reporter: "It can be hard to remember the way Facebook worked or the way we used it back in the day. Without comments, people would have conversations by exchanging wall posts, and any one taken out of context might seem like a private message. We also might not have been as careful with what we posted to walls back then before everyone’s co-workers, boss, and grandma had a Facebook account."

That made sense to me. So I looked back at my Timeline from before 2010 to see what sort of things I was posting back then. Yes, I know, I was supposed to do that when I switched to Timeline and delete embarrassing posts, but I was pretty sure I didn't have any drunken party photos on there and I didn't get a Facebook early enough to have embarrassing geeky middle school photos on there so I figured it was all good. And really, I think Mark Zuckerberg vastly overestimates our stalkerish tendencies on this one. Does anyone actually use the Timeline feature to go back and browse through what their friends were doing on Facebook three years ago? If you do, perhaps you should take up a hobby like golf instead.

I discovered there were many phases I went through on Facebook. There was the emoticon period, where every post I wrote ended in :) After that came the ellipse period, where each status trailed off like this ... despite being the end of whatever I meant to say. And, of course, the time of the passive aggressive posting of song lyrics.

Some things on my Timeline brought back memories. Statuses like "Jade is glad Taylor Hall didn't burn down last night" and photos from New York, for example. Some posts didn't bring back memories, like one from a guy I don't remember ever doing anything just the two of us telling me that he had fun the night before and he was glad he went with me. Whatever that night was, I don't remember it at all (maybe I should be more concerned about drunken party photos). I also had a lot of thoughts like, "Hey, I really liked that shirt. I wonder what ever happened to it."

If a potential employer were to look at my past posts they would see a very balanced person-- I have used both "I love everyone" and "I hate everyone" as status updates in the past. I have also posted both liberal and conservative newspaper columns to my wall, complained about college while also saying it was wonderful and written a fairly even mix of cheerful and angsty messages. See? Balanced. Or bi-polar.

It was interesting that I didn't want to be one of those people who wrote about all of their personal problems on Facebook, but you could still tell when I was going through something really bad, because eventually I couldn't contain my angst and so I would write angrily about other things instead. "Will everyone please stop using that stupid Who Has Seen Your Profile app?" became code for "My life is falling apart and I don't know what to do." Of course, some of my angry/whiny posts were just that. I really want to go back and tell my former self, "Aww, you don't get a spring break to go with your Christmas break and Thanksgiving break and summer break? You poor baby. College must be so hard compared to the real world."

I also found a lot of gems like this one:
"Dear readers,
I apologize that you (were/have been/will be) offended by the (content/word choice/layout) of the (article/viewpoint/photo) that appeared in the Daily Universe. I received your email that (I/the staff/the reporters) are (apostates/idiots/socialists) and are lacking in (integrity/common sense/a testimony). Thank you for your concern.
the opinion editor"

Which reminded me that as much as I loved my jobs at The Daily Universe, I am also very glad to not be practicing journalism in Utah anymore. Although it was kind of fun looking back through and getting my memory refreshed on exactly which names I was called while working there. Unprofessional, condescending, smarmy ... ah, the memories. I should really keep a list, so when I get a new piece of hate mail I can be like "Oooh, cowardly, I haven't gotten that one before."

Seriously, everyone should go back and browse through their old Facebook posts ... it's not like anyone else will. And you might be surprised at what you find out. Like the fact that you had Fruit Loops for breakfast on August 29, 2008 and they were delicious.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Good and bad

The last few weeks at work have been insanely busy. Part of the reason for this is that our town has decided to literally have about five years' worth of violent crime for our town in the space of five weeks. No kidding. It's like there is something in the water. Some of our recent letter writers would helpfully point out right now that it's probably the fluoride.

To recap: In our town of approximately 14,000 we had a woman shoot her husband in the chest while he was sleeping and then shoot herself. She died, he survived and swears she had always seemed perfectly sane he has no idea what might have provoked her. About a week later a local man was found downtown, murdered. Police are still looking for a person of interest who was caught on camera with him earlier that night but other than that there are no leads. A week after that two young men got in a fight in a grocery store parking lot and one died of blunt force trauma to the head. At the end of that week a man was charged with trying to pay a fellow inmate to kill our district attorney after he got out of jail. Yesterday a rape suspect was shot to death after police responded to the scene and he tried to attack them with a knife.

In between all of those violent crimes we were also covering events ranging from a woman falling off a cliff to a local surgeon being killed in a motorcycle crash to an anesthesiologist pleading guilty to molesting women he put under to local controversies like the anti-gay comments made by a local school board member on the radio and the firing of the very popular business manager at the local animal shelter. Every controversial story, including the crime ones, causes us all to also have to use up staff time being yelled at (or in a few cases, to be fair, being talked to reproachfully but politely) by people who didn't like some part of the story. So it's been busy.

Fortunately I'm not the cops reporter and haven't had to cover the crime ones myself (I got more of that in New York than I ever wanted) but it still takes its toll in having to build extra pages, proofread more, etc. and endlessly discuss every word of the stories to see if we're revealing too much or not enough and if we're striking the right balance between sensitivity and helping local law enforcement in their investigation.

Being a reporter makes you hyper-aware of every bad thing happening in your area. It's not just the major stories either--I get the unedited police logs every day and things get harder to forget when a one-liner about an arrest for assault turns into names and details about a woman being beaten by her husband in front of her children.  It's enough to make anyone want to move out of town, but then you read the state wire and national news and realize it's just as bad everywhere else and worse in some places. And then you think about all of the people you know who don't take basic safety precautions like locking their doors at night and you shake your head in wonderment. There is a reason why I immediately signed up for self defense classes upon returning from my New York internship.

We also have the police scanner on all day, which ranges from the funny ("we have a report of a man threatening people with a sword") to the sad (a drowning in progress miles from town that turns into an assumed drowning death before police can get there). It's easy to develop a respect for law enforcement when you listen to them doing their job every day and respond to the same accident scenes they do at about the same time (they beat me there only because they have the advantage of being able to legally speed).

Of course, when you're a reporter you also get exposed to all of the good in town that goes on all of the time, much of which the general public isn't really aware of to the same extent you are. People focus on the one crime story in the paper to the exclusion of all of the positive things we cover--nonprofits, grant and donation announcements, sports, volunteer work, thank yous in the letters to the editor section, interesting people in the community, programs in the schools, church service projects, good things government agencies are doing, etc.

For every sad story I've covered I've talked to multiple people who are working hard to make a real positive difference in their community and succeeding. For every raving ignorant, bitter, angry person I have to deal with I talk to others whose neighbors want everyone to know that they have been quietly serving the community in impressive ways, like donating 35 gallons of blood for free since they moved here or spending hours every week collecting and sorting cans to give the deposits to charity or donating their highly valuable professional skills to a nonprofit regularly when they could be getting paid for it. For every person who goes to jail there is another person who has made a career of helping others. It restores your faith in humanity.

I guess the lesson is that human beings are both good and bad, and you have to be prepared for the bad while not getting too cynical to see or believe in the good.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Copy editors don't have offices

Real life is not like the movies. Everyone knows that on some level, because most people have yet to have one of those movie-ending moments in their lives where they save the day against all odds, start dating a sensitive, intelligent model, get sweet revenge on their enemy, have all of the criminal charges that should have resulted from their hijinks magically disappear and are offered a large reward and the job of their dreams all in the same afternoon. Still, you assume that Hollywood gets other facts straight until they make a movies about something you're very knowledgeable about, like football or stamp collecting or being a dentist. And then you say, "If they think that's what it's really like, then maybe I shouldn't rob that casino based solely on my knowledge of Ocean's Eleven after all."

Take, for example, reporters. I'm not a totally seasoned veteran yet, but I've worked in three different newsrooms and met a whole lot of journalists from other publications so I think I have a pretty good feel for what it's like to work in the print industry. And I can tell you, it is nothing like Hollywood usually portrays it. If you'll notice, one of the two leads in romantic comedies often work for a newspaper or magazine (think Never Been Kissed, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Runaway Bride, 27 Dresses, Sleepless in Seattle and When in Rome) and it is always obvious that the director has never actually set foot in a newsroom (well, okay, I can't speak for sure for a magazine).

For goodness sake, in Never Been Kissed Drew Barrymore is a copy editor at a daily newspaper and she has her own office. I can't even begin to tell you how absurd that is. People who work for newspapers do not have offices--it's called a newsroom, not newsrooms, for a reason. Even when I worked for the Daily News, which is huge, everyone worked on computers spaced about every three or four feet along rows of tables, even the assignment editors. How else are you supposed to yell across the room at each other and eavesdrop on conversations so they don't have to be repeated? It would take twice as long to put out the paper. The only people who had their own office that I know of were the publisher and managing editor. And a copy editor is low man on the totem pole, so there is NO WAY Drew Barrymore would have an office. The Daily News, by the way, is supposedly where the main guy in When in Rome works and I can tell you the actual newsroom does not at all resemble what the movie portrays, although at least they don't work in offices. But it's way too cheerful-looking.

Also, movie newsrooms (at least of the newspaper variety) are always populated with way too many highly attractive people. I'm not saying there are no good-looking people working at newspapers. I'm just saying that most ridiculously good-looking people interested in journalism end up as news anchors, and print reporters generally tend to look vaguely homeless, except for the photographers, who look explicitly homeless. And those journalists' desk always look even more unkempt than they do.

Another thing that is unrealistic in movies that supposedly feature a journalist are the deadlines. Sure, journalists do occasionally work for a couple of weeks on an intense investigative story involving freedom of information requests for government documents, but when the journalist in a romantic comedy spends three weeks falling in love with the main character they are writing a column or story about, generally by about the third day the editor would be going "Why is this not on my desk? I needed it yesterday!" Maybe that was how it was at one time. But now we live in an age when print is dying and therefore every journalist is doing the job of three other people and therefore journalists are always running around frantic and harried and having to choose which thing they should be doing will have to not get done for the day, not meeting a cute guy for coffee at 10 a.m.

Item number four: Print journalists are not perky and do not get excited about things, except maybe scandals involving government officials and gaffes made during presidential debates. They don't walk around the office smiling in a dreamy way that makes their co-workers say "You're in love, aren't you?" Their co-workers would not ever under any circumstances ask such a ridiculously sappy question.

If you want a better idea of what journalists and newsrooms are really like, I suggest watching State of Play with Russell Crowe. Of course what happens to his character in the movie is more exciting than a normal day of work, but in the bonus materials they talked about spending a couple of days at the Washington Post doing research and it shows. The newsroom looks like what a major metropolitan newspaper's newsroom would actually look like. Russell Crowe's desk, with its papers and sticky notes and notebooks covering every inch, looks like a journalist's desk. He and his car are both appropriately unkempt and unassuming. His editor, played by the talented Helen Mirren, is appropriately tough without being the red-faced, ranting caricature of an editor in a lot of movies. Some things in the movie aren't very realistic, like the extremes they go to in one case to blackmail someone into talking to them, but a lot of other parts are.

If someone made a movie about journalists that involved a lot of sitting through a lot of public meetings, now that would be really realistic.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fires, clown tents and wet shoes

This week my family went camping at Beverly Beach near Newport, Oregon. I went with them, having finally earned some vacation time. How fun it was will depend on which family member you ask. Cole had the time of his life because we let him start fires on purpose. When Logan said the prayer over the food the first day he prayed that "this vacation will go by quickly," probably because Mom and Dad wouldn't let him bring his guitars, iTouch or white jeans.

I personally enjoy camping. There are naysayers out there who think it's funny to point out how silly we camping enthusiasts are to pay to sleep on the ground. Oh yes, staying in a hotel for vacation makes much more sense. You pay to sleep in a bed, just like you do every single other night of the year. Yeah, sounds like a blast. I would rather have some variety, break things up a little. This week instead of wearing slacks and a blouse every day I wore T-shirts and hoodies and jean shorts all week. I slept in instead of using an alarm clock, ate when I felt like it instead of during a regularly scheduled lunch break, goofed off with my brothers instead of being professional, didn't use a cell phone or check my email all week and lounged on the beach instead of working. Yep, sounds like a vacation to me. Although now I understand why some kids don't like camping. I guess if they wanted a change of scenery during summer vacation they would need to go to work with mom and dad or something. Otherwise it's like "Hey, wanna go play in the dirt?" "Yeah hold on let me finish making this mud pie."

Cooking is much more fun when you're camping. It was Cole's job to build the fire for breakfast and dinner every day, because he was the best at it. He's quite the fire purist, insisting that we only cook over campfires "built with integrity." Apparently food doesn't taste as good over a fire using cheating scumball tactics like lighter fluid or fire starter sticks, or even pre-cut kindling. When Cole builds a fire it's just him, some logs, his hatchet, and a single wooden match. Fortunately it didn't rain all week so our fires stayed honest, except for one night where we were in a hurry to get somewhere after dinner and after Cole got it started he decided to dump some lighter fluid on it to speed things up. Unfortunately he had never used it before and didn't realize how far it squirted, so he shot it over the fire and onto my bare foot right next to the fire. Fortunately I was able to leap up, offer a few choice sisterly words, and run to the water spigot before my foot caught on fire, otherwise this blog post might be about adjusting to life with only one foot.

Sleeping is less fun when you're camping. Well, less comfortable at least. Besides making fires with integrity, we also sleep with integrity, meaning no air mattresses. This is partly because we believe in actual camping, not that fake stuff most people do (if you're in an RV, sorry, it's not camping, it's paying to pretend you live in a trailer park, which makes even less sense than paying to sleep in a bed that's just like yours except with a questionable history). The other reason we don't use air mattresses or pads is that they literally won't fit. Anybody who has ever bought a tent knows that they tend to run small (don't buy a one person tent unless you tend to use it to house your chihuahua) and ours is a five person tent, even though there are six people in our family and I'm by far the smallest. When we tumble out of the tent every morning it must be like watching a clown car unload. I'll bet at least some of the kids camping near us think we borrowed our tent from the Weasley family.

Besides spending a lot of time around the campfire and sleeping in a tent we also did things like hiking and hanging out on the beach and exploring tidal pools. The water on the Oregon coast is pretty cold to do much swimming, but there were a lot of other things to do, like sunbathing, throwing around a football, skimboarding, and taking photos with strategically placed objects for a future "McDowell Men" calendar while Mom was disapproving.

When we went to hike the Cape Perpetua tidal pools (these are real tidal pools, with about a mile of sharp clam-and-barnacle-covered rocks and fiercely pounding waves and places to get trapped in) most of us ended up with soaked tennis shoes. I leaped onto a low rock in order to get across a pool and a sneaker wave submerged the rock before I could get off of it. Logan leaped across a stream but the wind caught him and he landed in the water (well that's his story; I think he just had bad aim). Someone joked about jumping to a far away sandy spot and Cole thought he was so smart by going around and dropping onto it from the rocks above, until a wave came in and covered the sandy spot and Cole couldn't climb back up. Lance achieved (temporary) favorite child status by keeping his shoes dry the whole time.

Half the time we go to the coast it doesn't matter whether we get our shoes in the ocean because it pours buckets of rain on us the entire time so everything is soaked the whole time anyway, including our tent. We've gotten pretty good at waterproofing the campsite since the first time we went camping on the coast, when we didn't realized crucial pieces of information like the fact that you have to stake the rain cover away from the tent for it to do any good, and you have to tuck the ends of the tarp under the tent, otherwise the rain runs down the rain cover, drips off and is trapped by the tarp, where it rolls under into the nice bowl of water forming between the tarp and the tent. Hey, we were from Iowa. We didn't know any better. We have also learned to bring rain ponchos, after we went on a hike one of the first years and the forest rangers felt so sorry for us they cut holes in black plastic garbage bags for us to wear. It made for a really classy family vacation photo. Now we are way better at the whole camping thing. It has been years since Lance and Logan woke up soaked (Dad and Mom sleep in the middle with us all around so they're the last to get wet) and spent the rest of the night under the hand dryers in the bathroom. Which may be even better than paying to sleep on the ground, in a bed or in an RV.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Church is more fun in Primary

I just finished planning a singing time lesson for Primary tomorrow. For those of you who don't know, Primary is Sunday school for little kids in our church, and right now every Sunday it's my job to spend about fifteen minutes teaching songs to the kids ages three to eight and then later another fifteen or twenty minutes with the kids who are nine to twelve. Some songs are reverent, like "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" and others are just for fun, like "Once there was a Snowman," which has actions with it and is the favorite Primary song of every little Mormon boy ever. Being Primary chorister takes work to prepare and come up with new, fun ideas to teach the words of the song but I still think I have possibly the best assignment in church. Play games with kids or go to adult Sunday school? Is that even a question?

One of my favorite parts of the calling is just being around the kids and hearing the (usually unintentionally) funny things they have to say. The youngest ones really aren't very good at censoring. During one of my first weeks of Primary someone was teaching a lesson about honoring our parents and asked the children to give examples of things they had done recently to make their parents happy. One of the very young, daintily feminine little girls raised her hand and announced proudly "I pooped in the toilet this morning and it made my mommy really happy." It was so unexpected coming from this particular child that all of the adult leaders burst out laughing and then had to work hard to get the giggles under control quickly and avoid making eye contact with each other for the next few minutes. Technically we are supposed to be the mature ones.

When you ask for an answer in Primary you never know what you're going to get. Sometimes the answer you get is even better than you could have articulated yourself and you remember that kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Other times you get an answer that is way off base or you pick on the kid who really, really, REALLY just wants to be picked every time and then says "Uh .... I don't know." And sometimes you get really specific "hypothetical" answers like the "It would be choosing the wrong if you didn't like spaghetti so you told your mom you ate all your spaghetti when she was in the other room but really you just dumped it in the garbage and then she found it and then you got in really big trouble and had to go to your room while everyone else ate ice cream." Fortunately for the family the spaghetti story was much less revealing of family secrets than some of the other things I've heard.

You also hear a lot of funny prayers as the little ones get to the point where they want to start saying them on their own without an adult whispering in their ear, but they don't have that polished air of someone who has given the opening prayer in a church meeting a hundred times. I laughed a couple of weeks ago when a little boy thanked God for several things and then said "And thank you for everything else. Except mayonnaise."

Watching the dynamics between Senior Primary boys and girls can be pretty funny too. They're at that stage where they've realized there's a difference between boys and girls but they're not quite sure what to do with that information yet. So the boys goof off with each other while occasionally looking over to see if the girls are paying attention while the girls roll their eyes and feel superior. I once sent a girl out of the room while someone hid something, and when I called after her "No cheating!" she turned around and with great indignity exclaimed "I'm not a boy!" Even the boys seem to feel the girls are superior: When I recently announced an activity I said "We'll make it a contest and see who knows the words better, boys or girls." Immediately three of the boys sighed and said at the exact same time "The girls."

See ... who wouldn't want to work in Primary? Sometimes we even have treats.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It was better than BiMart

Last weekend I went to church-sponsored conference for single adults between the ages of 18 and 30. We played mixer games, did relay races, watched Comedy Sports, went to workshops, had dance classes, speed dated, had a dance and went to church together on Sunday.

It has been a while since I've been around that many twentysomethings at once, and I was used to BYU where everyone is doing more or less the same thing. At the Portland conference, you couldn't just ask "What's your major?" because half the people there weren't in college. So you had to ask a sort of general question like "What do you do?" which produced a variety of answers that ranged from going to college to working at a post-college professional job to working for minimum wage to "nothing ... no really, I literally mean nothing" ( Let's just say I didn't ask for his number).

The one thing we did have in common was that we were single, which is why we were all being lumped together in the hope that some of us would finally find someone we liked better than being single who (and this is the important part that people tend to forget about when encouraging marriage) also liked us better than being single. Unfortunately the dating game is a team sport.

So of course instead of just enjoying socializing with people everyone was sizing each other up. Unattractive people were dismissed with disappointment, semi-attractive people were sized up with interest and very attractive people were eyed with deep suspicion as everyone wondered what major flaw they were hiding that explained why they weren't already taken. Experience dictates if you're a single girl and you see a hot guy under the age of 30 he's either gay or taken. If he's not ... well there must be some mistake. Like he's not actually supposed to be out of jail yet, or he's actually your long lost cousin.

Most of us didn't actually expect to meet our future spouse that weekend, but we had to be prepared to give a detailed report to those waiting anxiously at home to see if we had "met someone." (I met lots of people actually, but apparently it doesn't count if they're a girl.) When you're over 21, Mormon and single you can't just meet people of the opposite gender any more and think "Oh they seem nice" because it's guaranteed the moment you are away from them at least one person is going to breathlessly ask "Well? Are you guys going to get married?" when all you know so far is the person's name and where they're from. It's a lot of pressure. I would imagine it would be similar to a couple with fertility problems being greeted at the breakfast table each morning with "Well? Did you guys make a baby last night?" Give it some time people. Not everybody does the whole love-at-first-sight thing.

Plus, a lot of the people there were ... interesting. Like the guy who spent lunch up in a tree watching everyone eat. Or the girl who was whiter than I am who said she found out she has an ancestor who was black so she goes around telling everyone she's actually black. Her friend was the one who treated us like total hicks when we said we were from The Dalles. Well, that was pretty much how everyone from Portland reacted. But then she said, "Well, I guess you guys do have a BiMart, because I stopped at it once." Lance, with a perfectly straight face, said "Oh yeah, everyone hangs out at the BiMart. It's the place to be on Friday night." I'm pretty sure she believed him. So if anyone from Portland ever says they hear BiMart is a happening place you'll know why.

But I met some cool people too, and the dance and the workshops were fun, so I'm glad I went. It was better than hanging out at BiMart :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

What did I miss?

I realized it's been a month since I've posted. I've been wanting to sit down and write a new post for a while now but I've been busy, busy, busy and just haven't had the time.

One of the reasons I haven't had time to post lately is that, in addition to a plethora of responsibilities when I occasionally do have some time to spend at home I've been wanting to spend it seeing Lance, who just got home from his mission.

It's kind of funny having a brother come home from a two-year break from things like television, movies, music, politics, Facebook and home. It makes you see changes that you didn't even notice happen over time, but the missionaries come home and say "What the heck?! Since when does my baby brother have as deep of a voice as me?" It's kind of hard to maintain your alpha status among brothers when they get established without you and then when you come back you're shorter than they are :)

So it's been funny introducing Lance to new music, new people who have moved in, new TV shows, etc. Lance went through the Top 100 songs for the last couple of years the other day and was like "Wow, I really didn't miss much did I?" I was able to point out a few excellent new artists (yay Adele!) but when I started thinking about all of the sort of catchy but totally vapid synthesized girly pop (think Call Me Maybe and Katy Perry's TGIF) along with the rap that all sounds the same (just plug in various synonyms for the words "Hot girls. My girl is hot. That girl is hot. You girl are hot. I like hot girls.") I realized he was mostly right.

He's also gotten to see some movies he missed while he was gone. He liked Thor and Inception. He almost fell asleep during the movie he refers to as "Harry Potter goes camping." As for TV, every time we want to turn on a show he shouts "Stop! I don't want to get hooked! It won't be tempting to watch TV at school if I don't know about any of the new shows." So we've mostly been watching movies.

As for politics, I don't think he cares much. The headlines haven't changed have they? Candidate A insults candidate B. Candidate C makes a gaffe. Blah blah blah showdown blah blah crisis blah blah symbolic vote blah blah apology blah blah vacation photos blah blah Muslim and a Socialist blah blah didn't have an affair with that woman blah blah oh wait you mean THAT woman, oops I guess I did blah blah ethics scandal blah blah blah resigned to spend more time with family.

As for sports, I watched pityingly as he had to relive the wonders of The Year of the Jimmer via YouTube. It just isn't the same, you know? At least he didn't have to relive BYU football that year...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

She must be from Utah

Yesterday I checked out The Universe (BYU's newspaper) online and read an article about how BYU's crime statistics are way lower than your average university but there is still a fair amount of theft that happens around campus. In the article, as per the DU's longstanding tradition of quoting people who sound really dumb, is this actual quote from a student who had her bike stolen shortly after her husband had his stolen:

“My husband left his bike (on campus) over the weekend, and he came back and his bike had been taken. Still, even after his bike had been stolen and the lock had been cut and everything, I still thought it was a safe enough place that I didn’t even bring a lock to campus with my bike."

Wow. Somebody obviously has waaaay more faith in humanity than I do. Not to mention a much slower rate of learning from experience. I mean, BYU students are generally exceptionally honest, but not everyone wandering around campus is a student and not every BYU student actually follows what they're taught in church on Sunday. I trusted people at BYU more than the general population, but not enough to leave my laptop on a table unguarded while I went to look for a book.

I always looked at it this way: If I accidentally left something of value behind in a classroom, I figured I probably had an 80 percent chance of getting it back, versus maybe 30 or 40 percent somewhere else. This generally proved to be the case: Over my four years at BYU I accidentally left a textbook, a financial calculator, a couple of jackets and a flash drive behind on campus. I recovered everything but the flashdrive from BYU's massive lost and found office. Yes, I know: I am an airhead. But that's not the point of this post. I actually don't remember the point of this post, because I started it yesterday and now am not entirely sure where I was going with it.

At first I thought the girl who was surprised her unlocked bike was stolen must be from Utah, because how could anyone else be so naive? But then I realized she must not be from Utah, because if she was she would have already known that not everyone who claims to be Mormon actually lives that way, whereas non-Utah Mormons tended to go "Oh isn't it lovely that all of the people around me here are as nice as I am" and ask a random stranger sitting near them at the food court to watch their laptop while they went to the bathroom. (True story: that happened to me more than once).

A favorite past time at BYU was trying to guess whether the people in my classes, etc. were from Utah or not.

There were a few indicators. For example, the more layers a girl is wearing, the more likely it is that she's from Utah. Never mind that wearing two colors of tank top, a short sleeved shirt, a vest and a scarf over a long-sleeved shirt doesn't actually make it any more modest than the long-sleeved shirt by itself. But layers have been "in" for a while now and Mormon girls are so used to not being able to wear the latest fashions because they're too skimpy that when a fashion comes along that they can wear the Utah girls tend to be WAY too enthusiastic about embracing it because they're busy trying to out-fashion each other instead of blend in with non-Mormon counterparts. So look for things like excessive sizes of flowers in hair (as in "Oh look, she's wearing a cabbage on her head"). Also, Utah Mormons tend to use weird slang. If someone frequently spouts phrases like "What the fetch," "She kicked my trash," and "Oh my heck," they either grew up in Utah or spent too much time going to school there. One of my goals for graduating from college included never once uttering the words "Oh my heck." If I had I think I would have decided finishing my degree was not worth morphing into the type of person who says Oh My Heck and I would have gone home.

But not every Utah Mormon fits the stereotypes. I knew Utah Mormons who actually understood sentences like "That guy was really hammered," weren't easily offended, didn't scrapbook, didn't dye their hair blond, had a mother who worked outside the home, didn't wear matching sweaters in their Christmas card photos and had no clue how to make funeral potatoes or green Jell-O salad.

Actually, I lied. I'm not sure I ever met a brunette Utah Mormon...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Please don't post that

Today I have chosen to write about things not to do on Facebook. I debated about whether or not to write this post, as it will describe the habits of many of my Facebook friends, which may offend some of you. Sorry. If you see yourself in any of the following paragraphs, please know that I still love you, I don't think you're a bad or stupid person and if it actually bugged me as much as it will probably sound like, I would have just unfriended you. So don't worry. These are just common things that I have seen from many, many people over time and not an attack on any specific friend.

Here are five things you need to know about being Facebook friends with me:

1) I refuse to repost anything that dares me to. This includes the actual words "I dare you," but as we all know from our grade school playground days, there is more than one way to manipulate someone into doing what you want. So if something says, à la middle school girl, "Let's see who the three percent who have a heart and will actually repost this are" or "I'll bet 99% of people won't repost this," or "Let's see who actually reads my statuses and who just trolls," (improper word use, by the way) you will not see it on my wall. Even if the meme is "Let's see how many people actually think Jade is the most awesome person in the world." I do not think my friends will actually believe I don't love Jesus or don't hate child abuse if I don't tell them on Facebook.

2) If only one or two people in the whole world will understand something you want to say, a Facebook status is not the right medium. No matter how hilarious it was at the time (the time being 2:00 in the morning at a sleepover with your best friend), if you post a quote like "But my monkeys want to eat starfishes!" as your status it won't actually be funny. Even if you tag your best friend in it. In fact, everyone will resent the five seconds of their life they wasted reading that. This also applies to passive-aggressive statuses like "Some people in my life need to get over themselves and realize this is my decision. You know who you are." Or please-oh-please-ask-me-what-I'm-talking-about statuses like "Wow. Just wow." Facebook statuses are meant to communicate something to all of your friends at once. Don't get it confused with text messaging.

3) When I log onto Facebook and see that I have a notification, it's really annoying when I realize that notification is a useless request from a game like Killer Zombie Unicorns from Outer Space. It's too bad they haven't built a spam filter for that yet.

4) Even though I am happy for you that you are getting married, I don't need an update every single day on exactly how many more days there are until the wedding. Or since the wedding. Occasional milestones like a week or a month are OK. Just know that you make all of your still-single friends totally gag when you post literally every single day something like "Only 22 more days until I marry the most amazing girl in the entire world! I am the luckiest man alive!" or "My husband took out the trash! He is the kindest, sweetest, most loving guy! After 13 days of marriage I am still amazed that I was able to find such a wonderful person!" Even without the daily public declarations of your love we can figure out that you actually like the person you agreed to marry. Here it should also be pointed out that constant verbal PDA on each others' wall is also annoying.

5) I am continually amazed at how gullible some of my friends are. Some hoaxes on Facebook are fairly believable, but some are pretty ridiculous if you think them through. For example, if Facebook really wanted to check up on how many accounts are still active, do you really think one of the most successful tech companies in the world couldn't come up with a better strategy than relying on its users to copy and paste a message from their friends? Also, do you really think an organization can tell if you have posted a picture of a dying baby on your wall and will make a donation? Many of those types of hoaxes are very painful for the families who discover a picture of their beloved child (who often died several years ago) is plastered all over Facebook as some kind of sick joke. You can't believe everything you read on the Internet. There are currently several political graphs about presidents' spending, the deficit, etc. that have been going around and some of them are based on completely made up numbers. There are also a lot of quotes by celebrities going around that there is no evidence anywhere that they actually said it. And those "true" stories about standing up to racism and cool-sounding-but-abusive parenting that you've been posting with comments like "Wow I would like to meet this guy!" are often works of fiction.

Facebook is a great tool for staying in touch with friends--if those friends post things that you actually want to read.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Off to College

High school graduation was this weekend, and watching my brother and all the other seniors I know go through those final weeks of high school brings back a lot of memories of that excited/terrified/relieved/nervous/sad feeling that high school graduation brings. In honor of that, I'm going to play big sister to Logan, Claire and the others and give a little advice about college and life after graduation:

1) The best advice I ever got about college was to treat it like an 8:00 to 6:00 job. That means between those hours, if you're not in class or working at a real job you should be studying (except for brief breaks).  Trust me, it will greatly improve your social life.
For example: Say you had class from 8 to 10, then work from 11 to 2, then class from 3 to 4. It's really tempting to have an hour break at 10 and say "I'm really tired, I'm just going to find a quiet spot in the library and take a nap," and then during the break at 2 to go get something to eat and just chat with people or people-watch while you eat and then when you get home a little after 4 and aren't meeting people for dinner until 6 to say "I've been busy today and need some time to relax before I can get some studying done" and then spend the next two hours watching several episodes of your favorite sitcom or watching YouTube videos and surfing Facebook.
All together that's four hours you could have used to get all or most of the day's homework done, and now you have at least four hours of studying ahead of you after dinner. In the meantime, your friends and roomates and neighbors who are more productive/don't care are going to be texting you and knocking on your door inviting you to do all sorts of fun stuff, and you're going to be thinking "I totally would rather be playing ultimate frisbee with my best friends right now instead of the hour I spent alone in my room watching funny YouTube videos." At that point you will either miss out on a good time, flunk the test you're supposed to be studying for or start on your four hours of homework at midnight and then sleep through your classes the next morning.

2) The second best advice I got about college was "When you look back on your life you're not going to remember the nights you got plenty of sleep." It's true. The regret I felt for not getting enough sleep the night before usually didn't even last the whole morning, but the regret I felt when I skipped out on a midnight excursion and missed out on an adventure people kept referencing for the rest of the year lasted much, much longer. You want to stay healthy and be smart about what you sacrifice your sleep time for (go to sleep instead of watching TV), but the people who insisted on getting eight hours or more every night in college missed out on a lot of memories. You have the rest of your life to get a good night's sleep, so when everyone is out in the quad playing games or lying under the stars swapping hilarious stories don't be one of those lame people who at 11:00 says "Well goodnight everyone, I have to work at 8:00 tomorrow so I'd better get to bed" and miss out on all of the real bonding time that comes the later it gets.

3) Try new things. Your college will offer all sorts of fun classes and activities that will be a lot harder to try once you're in a small town and locked into the adult routines of an 8-to-5 job. When I was in college I took self defense (best class ever), learned to play the organ, improved my volleyball skills, took ballroom dance and world dance, went to an opera in Italian, tried all sorts of new foods cooked by the international students I knew, went to the first baseball game I had ever been to, watched international films, studied Shakespeare and film psychology and did all sorts of other things I had never done before. Now is the time in your life to be adventurous. Who knows, you might discover that you want to choose a major you never even realized someone could major in or find a life-long hobby.

4) Meet as many new people as possible. Get out there and get to know all sorts of people. If you come to the cafeteria or food court by yourself, ask a group of people you don't know if you can sit with them. Chat with the people around you before class. Get together with your roommates and invite another apartment over to dinner and games. One of the fun things about college is you can become friends with people who are into all of the same things you are but you can also become friends with people who are different than anyone you've ever met before (maybe you've never known any who is Muslim, for example).

5) Don't be intimidated. For most people who go to college, espcially if it's a really good school, they go from being a big fish in a little pond to being a little fish in a big pond. It can be a hard adjustment to make, because suddenly the things that defined you in high school are commonplace. When I was in high school a combination of factors (being Mormon, playing the piano well, having a good-sized role in the school plays, being in choir, having a big family, being valedictorian, doing a lot of community service, being a good writer) made me an invididual, but when I went to college all of the sudden it seemed like half the people I met not only had all of those things but did them better. So you have two choices: You can be bothered that you're not a star and don't get attention anymore and be jealous of everyone else and give up on things people are better at, or you can really enjoy being around such smart, talented people and try to learn from them. Just start practicing humility now because you're going to need it.

6) Learn to cook and clean and do laundry before you go. Don't be like the people I knew who the rest of us looked down on slightly because we had to teach them how to do dishes without a dishwasher or get soap scum off a facet or boil noodles or get stains out of their clothes. You will be better able to concentrate on school work when you're not dealing with the fact that you have to start over on dinner because it caught on fire and your favorite white shirt is now pink and you have to pay a $35 fee because you failed your cleaning check. Also get someone who has been through college already to teach you all the lazy tricks (for example, the more underwear you buy, the longer you can get away without doing laundry).

7) Remember that you can't get away with as much in college. Generally when you're in high school you can convince the teacher to take an assignment late without much of a penalty, or if everyone doesn't meet the deadline for something like senior binders they just move the deadline out, or you can say "I'm going to be at my cousin's wedding on Friday so can I take the test a day early?" In college professors make fun of people (sometimes to their face, sometimes to the rest of us while they're absent) who think they're somehow entitled to turn in a paper a few hours after the class it was due because when they went to print it out on the way to class the printer was broken. I knew people who had to retake an entire class because they got confused about the time of the midterm and missed it or their apartment flooded and they didn't get to class that morning to turn in a big paper. A few professors might make an exception for some things but most of them are totally unyielding when it comes to things like deadlines, so don't leave anything to the last minute because even if you say "My roommate had a heart attack last night and I was at their side at the hospital all night" there are a lot of professors who will say "You were not at the hospital for the whole two weeks you knew about this paper. It's not my fault you left it until the last minute."

College will probably be harder than anything you've ever done but also more fun. If you realize this, you'll do alright.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

This playground is too safe

Yesterday I wrote an editorial about "nanny state" laws like the one NYC Mayor Bloomberg is proposing which would ban restuarants and theaters from selling drinks larger than 16 ounces, which is the size of a small drink from McDonald's. Reading about some of the ridiculous laws different states have passed in the name of health and safety made me wonder what kind of world my children will grow up in, considering how different things are now from my parents' childhood.

Of course, some of the things that have changed are probably a good thing. But surely there is a happy medium between "let's let our seven year old bike across town by himself with no helmet to play on a sharp, rusty slide over asphalt" and "have fun playing on this collection of smooth two-foot tall plastic blobs on mats while I hover."

Pretty much every playground I played at when I was little has since been replaced by a "safe" version, and let me tell you, I totally get why today's kids would rather stay inside and play video games than play outside. Parents who wonder why their children aren't enthusiastic about playing outside these days should consider whether their ten-year-old selves would find today's playgrounds, trampolines, and other outdoor activities remotely fun.

For example, take the slide. Slides used to be slidey. You could put a three-year-old at the top of a slick, straight, reasonably steep metal slide and catch them at the bottom as they whooped with exhilaration and shouted "Again!" Now those slides have been replaced with a rougher plastic version half as tall that curves around to kill momentum. You might as well stop calling it a slide and start calling it a scoot-down-slowly-using-your-feet. It is now much more fun to climb up them, which of course all of the adults are busy forbidding.

Also gone are monkey bars, jungle gyms, see-saws, tire swings, merry-go-rounds and pretty much anything else that actually got used for having fun at recess when I was a kid. It's not like I want kids to get hurt, but really, in first grade my shins always had bruises from jumping onto the merry go round while it was spinning and I grew up just fine. No therapy needed to deal with the childhood trauma. Ironically, the one time I was really seriously injured on a playground (they had to stitch my lower lip back together after I did a faceplant and bit through it) was in fourth grade, and it was on flat ground, where we were playing a game that involved holding hands with other kids and I couldn't catch myself when I tripped. I got over that, too.

Last year I read an article in the New York Times that said psychologists are starting to see study results that show that safety-first playgrounds are actually stunting childrens' psychological growth. Venturing a little higher each time on the jungle gym or leaping from one part of a tall structure to the other teaches children how to overcome fear, tackle challenges and take risks, which translates to other part of their lives. Children who play on safety-first playgrounds are also more likely to develop a fear of heights. As for older children, they get bored with play equipment designed to keep toddlers safe and either retreat inside or look for "fun" places to play, which are often more dangerous than the old-style playgrounds.

The people who change the world for the better are people who are creative, who see challenges as something to overcome rather than a permanent roadblock, who are willing to take risks but also have enough experience with risk-taking to know when it's a bad idea, who know how to pick themselves up and move on after they have gotten hurt. What happens when we spend all of our time trying to keep the next generation as far away from risks, challenges and hurt (physical and mental) as possible?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Stop calling me weird

A lot has been said about my religion in the last year. It has been, as the Washington Post reminds us so frequently, a "Mormon Moment." Which has been pretty weird in some ways. A while ago I searched for "Mormons" on Google News and scanned some of the things major news outlets were writing about. One talked about how Mormons are all bland and boring. There was a Slate article calling us radical. Christopher Hitchens called us sinister. Another commentator called us nice but extremely naive. To tell you the truth I read those articles, with their opposing viewpoints, and didn't see myself or the majority of Mormons I know described in any of them. You can't describe what all Mormons are like any more than you can accurately sum up all Americans or everyone of a particular generation in a few hundred words. You might hit some common themes but for every person who fits the stereotype you can find three or four who don't.

Plus, I get really tired of getting called weird all the time. I mean, come on, everyone's religion is "weird" if you step back and look at it objectively. I can respect atheists who say "I can't believe there are people wacko enough to believe that" because a lot of them generally think that about anyone who believes in a higher power. But it is hugely hypocritical for other Christians to make fun of our beliefs. As Stephen Colbert once put it, Mormons believe that Joseph Smith got gold plates from an angel, but everyone knows that's crazy, because it was actually Moses who got stone tablets from a burning bush. The Bible (which we also believe in) is full of stories way more odd than anything you will ever find in the Book of Mormon. In the Bible you read about a talking donkey, a prophet summoning a bear to eat some boys that were calling him "bald head," a guy saving every species of animal on earth by putting them in a boat, people being raised from the dead and a boy killing a giant. I feel like if you can believe in a virgin birth you should be able to believe God is capable of just about anything, including appearing to a 14-year-old boy in New York in the 1800s. Maybe you don't believe it did happen. But you should be open-minded enough to believe it is possible.

But somehow we get a really bad rap compared to everyone else, I guess because we're still the new kid in town after almost two centuries. But let's look at something for just a second. Catholics, who are basically as far from the new-kid-to-Christianity as you can get, believe in transubstantiation. I'm sure I'm oversimplifying here, but from what I understand that means they believe that as they partake of communion, the wine and bread literally, not just symbolically, turn into the flesh and blood of Christ. So let's say you didn't really know anything about Catholics and I told you that they believe in cannibalism and that they have a worship rite they perform frequently that involves drinking blood. In fact, that's pretty much the main point of their church according to me. You go to your Catholic friend and say "Do you drink blood during church, yes or no?" And they go, "Well, that's sort of technically true if you squint at it but let me explain ..." And you tune out their explanation because you're thinking "No way, my friend just told me they drink blood! What a creepy religion!"

So you find an angry ex-Catholic with an axe to grind and say "What else can you tell me about the Catholic church?" And they direct you to some websites talking about sexual abuse and cover-ups by priests and you think "Wow, Catholics sound like really bad people." The bitter ex-Catholic also tells you some things that are just flat-out untrue but you take them as doctrine without question.

And then you come across an article about the story in the Old Testament about Lot's daughters preserving his seed by getting him drunk and sleeping with him. And you think "This is one of the stories they commonly teach about in their church? No wonder they have a pedophile problem!" even though in reality most Catholics are probably aware that story is in the Bible but can't remember if they have ever heard it mentioned in a sermon before in their lifetime of church membership.

So then that would be your picture of the Catholic church, and despite knowing some Catholics who are extremely nice, normal people with a good relationship with God you figure they're the exception rather than the rule. You would have no idea that most Catholics spend their time worrying about things like how to raise their children to be good people and praying for their sick family member to be healed rather than thinking about Lot and his daughters.

That's what has happened to our church, but on a national scale. There are so many things that people have said "I hear you believe this" and I have either been able to tell them that's not true at all or been able to put it into context (like the Catholics and drinking blood) and the person has been like "Oh. Well that's not actually that weird at all."

If people don't believe my church is true, fine. I can understand that. But they should at least attempt to get their facts straight and then show some respect. Like when Lawrence O'Donnell said that Mormonism was started when a guy got caught cheating on his wife with the maid and he made up a story about an angel telling him to do it. Hello, Joseph and his wife Emma had to elope because her family had heard about Joseph telling people about his vision as a teenager and they didn't want her to be associated with that. So I don't think the whole "alibi for getting caught cheating" theory of why our church was started really checks out. Every time I see the frenzied protesters outside of General Conference in Salt Lake holding signs saying things like "The Bible is the word of God!" and "Only through the blood of Jesus Christ can we be saved!" I want to say "Thanks for the preview of exactly what I'm going to be hearing inside today." As for the guy dancing around in the devil costume, I want to say "And you think I'm the weird one?" That also goes for the grown men obsessing over Mitt Romney's underwear.

I don't spend my time tearing down other peoples' religion. I figure even if we differ on some doctrine points, if they believe in treating others as they want to be treated, and are teaching against things like stealing and murder, then their church is probably making the world a better place and there are a lot of worse things out there I should spend my time and energy bashing instead, like child abuse. I just wish other followers of Christ would extend me the same courtesy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Every rom-com ever

I've never had the experience of having a sister, or even a female cousin living in the same town. Instead, I was blessed (or cursed, depending on the day) with three younger brothers. I never thought too much about how being totally outnumbered affected me until I went away to college and started living with girls. At first it was an adjustment living in a female-oriented household, but by the time I graduated I was used to it. Now that I'm back home, there are some things about our household that I've realized are because of the male/female ratio.

Take, for example, the type of movies we watch. Name any PG-13 action movie made within the last eight years and I've seen it. If a movie doesn't include a wildly destructive car chase, gun-toting bad guys who couldn't hit an elephant from ten feet away, someone jumping out of a building/helicopter/speeding car without breaking any bones and at least one explosion, my brothers aren't interested in watching it, and generally majority rules. That probably explains why years ago when our second cousins came to visit and we were talking about movies, one asked Lance if he liked chick flicks, to which he replied seriously, "I don't think I've seen that one before."

It also explains why Cole can't follow the plot of a romantic comedy, even thought they are all exactly the same. Man and woman meet in a way that makes a bad first impression. They find out, to their horror, that they will have occasion to be spending a lot of time together. They annoy each other while one person's spunky sidekick makes jokes about it. They have a breakthrough moment where one character is emotionally vulnerable and opens up to the other, who comforts them. They pretend that night didn't happen, but start spending a lot of time looking at each other across the room. This upsets the nice person one of them is dating, who gets mad at first but eventually says "Go on, I know true love when I see it." It looks like they are going to get together, but there is some sort of misunderstanding or it is revealed one character was lying to the other. They fight. One packs bags for a trip, moving out of town, quitting their job, etc. The other shows up at the last second and apologizes in a sappy speech. They kiss. The camera pulls back and they are now at their wedding. The spunky sidekick and the nice ex get each other as a consolation prize. Credits roll.

But if you are a sixteen-year-old boy, the conversation you have with your older sister and mother who ganged up on you when the rest of the menfolk were gone for the evening, goes something like this:
"Why did she leave?"
"Because she is mad at him."
"Because he keeps watching the other girl instead of listening to her."
"Why would he be watching the other girl? He doesn't like her."
"Yes he does, he's just pretending he doesn't."
"How the heck do you know all of that? They didn't ever say any of it. You're just supposed to know because of their facial expressions? This movie is more confusing than Inception."

I guess I could see why he would be confused. Life generally doesn't happen that way, especially when you're in high school. In high school it goes like this: Girl falls for guy. Guy falls for a different girl, who likes his best friend, who likes the first girl, who thinks he is gross. There is a lot of angst and poetry writing. After two weeks they play romantic musical chairs and this time two lucky pairs actually manages to like each other at the same time, while one girl is left out in the cold. She listens to a lot of Avril Lavigne while the two romantic couples write sappy love songs for each other. At the end of the week, one of the girls catches her boyfriend talking to another girl in his class and immediately breaks up with him for "cheating." The Avril girl sees her opportunity and hooks up with him, while the girl who dumped him gets mad at her friend for "betraying" her. Every week is a new episode in the soap opera until by graduation the student body has tried every romantic combination possible, in some cases twice, and none of them have worked.

Movies may be far-fetched, but maybe TV shows aren't so unrealistic after all.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Aliens in Mount Shasta

My brother Cole is now a politician, thanks to a winning election for student body treasurer. It may have been a small-time election, but he won the same way that many politicians win their elections:
A) By flooding the market with way more advertising than his opponents
B) By having really good hair
C) By not talking about the moon or aliens

Seriously, more wannabe politicians need to heed letter C. This week (I am not making the following stories up) one of my colleagues interviewed the two candidates running against Greg Walden for the U.S. House of Representatives. One candidate, Joyce Segers, is an open believer of Lemuria-- the belief that Mount Shasta is a mythical power source left over from an ancient, magical civilization that came here from another planet and some (including Segers) believe those beings still live in a hidden city under the mountain. Really. Aliens in Mt. Shasta.

When my colleague asked the other candidate, whose name I don't remember, what his biggest platform was he started talking about how the moon is getting farther away from the earth every year and if he is elected he will make sure NASA gets funding to put solar-powered engines on the other side of the moon to push it back toward earth, otherwise in a few more decades we will have "perpetual daylight." There are several scientific problems with this. One is that it is not the moon that causes night time, so even if it gets so far away it decides to turn traitor on the earth and become Saturn's moon the sky will still get dark at night. Second, I don't think solar power is going to work very well for engines on the dark side of the moon. That's kind of why it's called "the dark side of the moon."

This week a guy wanted to place an advertisement in our newspaper for go-go dancers for the pagan church he is starting. When questioned about his church's basic tenets, he said he wasn't sure yet what they were, because he was just getting started. But he knows he needs bikini-clad dancers. I'm sure his next call to the newsroom will be to announce his candidacy for something.

Luckily, Walden (who seems more or less sane)is running again, so we don't have to entrust our country with any of these people. But what happens to the states where they don't have another viable option? Do they decide who is slightly less likely to end up in a mental institution and vote for that person? Ah, that explains so much about Congress. For example, it explains how the good people of Georgia elected Rep. Hank Johnson, who asked last year in all seriousness if sending more Marines to the tiny island of Guam would cause it to "tip over and capsize." Yet another example of why political science majors should really be required to take some actual science classes too.

Fortunately for Hank Johnson, whatever intern was responsible for writing his press releases must have taken the same class as all the other political press release writers, which teaches when the person whose campaign you are working for says something completely stupid/offensive, the first step is to write a press release saying he or she "meant it metaphorically." Did a politician say something about shooting their opponent or using a "second amendment remedy"? They meant it metaphorically. Did Mitt Romney say something about hanging Obama? He meant it metaphorically. Did Newt Gingrich talk about putting a colony on the moon? Yes. But his campaign strategists didn't take the "he meant it metaphorically" class. Or the "any mention of the moon makes people call your sanity into question" class. Or the "there is a certain point you should just give up, and you passed it a long time ago, dude" class.

If people don't buy the excuse about meaning it metaphorically, politicians can always say that they "cannot say with certitude" if that is their policy/quote/underwear being plastered all over the Internet. Or that they may have "used the wrong words" when calling someone a slut. Or that when they said people in this country should be speaking the "language of prosperity, not the language of the ghetto" they were referring to when "ghetto" meant a medieval Jewish neighborhood. After all, there are more Spanish-speaking voters than medieval Jewish voters.

Fortunately for Cole he is a regular viewer of the Colbert Report, so he knows all the tricks. If he ever gets caught embezzling from school funds or something like that he can always blame the liberal media.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Goodbye old friend

Sadly, the Daily Universe at BYU is no more. It is being replaced by a weekly paper titled The Universe and a few extra stories on the web. When the change was announced, most people who never worked for the DU said "So what?" but you're just going to have to trust those of us with experience there who aren't drinking the Kool-Aid when we say the whole thing has been a poorly-handled tragedy so far. I'm not going to get all sentimental here, but a couple of other people posted their "Top 10" (actually more like 20, but who knows how to count in a newsroom?) favorite moments in the newsroom and I wanted to share a few of my own, in no particular order.

1) Seeing my byline in the paper for the first time. I was making an important contribution to society! I was changing the world! Actually, that very first article was about worms in Antarctica. So maybe not. Nobody probably even read it. But it was still awesome, and so was the first time I walked past a random person on campus who was reading an article of mine.

2)When I was metro editor, in a less dignified period of time at the paper, whoever was the last one to the conference room for our daily front page meetings had to say the prayer. It was cheating to wait by the door. So the news editor would holler "front page!" and all of the other student editors (and some professional staff as well) would vault out of their seats and run pell mell down the hall, occasionally shoving each other (or our reporters, or the disapproving broadcasters) out of the way if necessary.

3) We had a lot of really great debates about current events in the newsroom during slow news days. I remember the night after the State of the Union address one year everyone was sitting quietly working when McKay suddenly said "All right everyone, favorite State of the Union moments," and everyone instantly turned around with great anticipation and started saying gleeful things like, "When he mentioned Citizens United, did you see Alitos's face?" I loved working with people who could be as nerdy about stuff like that as I was.

4) The spontaneous game of newsroom football that broke out between editors one afternoon when there were no reporters and no professional staff around. Fortunately, no university property was harmed in process

5) When we made a "scratch and sniff" edition for April Fool's day that was actually just plain newsprint. Sitting in the Cougareat at lunch watching people was priceless. Some people kept scratching harder, sniffing again and looking disappointed. Others clearly suspected maybe it was a prank but couldn't help surreptitiously sneaking a sniff when they thought no one was looking.

6) Watching BYU beat Florida in double overtime during March Madness while the Arts and Entertainment editors tried to get work done because they couldn't appreciate what all the fuss was about

7) The BYUSA story. Also the cheating story. Pretty much anything investigative that totally put the campus in a tizzy

8) Reading the infamous Jimmer thread with everyone after I published Michelle Peralta's letter to the editor against Jimmer worship. Also, reading the full collection of letters that came afterward

9) Christian and Danny yelling at each other in Professor Hughes's class

10) Working on the opinion page Monday and Wednesday nights while listening to the copy desk, plus Rich/Kaye/Brandon/RJ, laugh over funny typos

11) All of the special holidays Kaye had us celebrate, like Pancake Day and Cardigan Day. Also, all of the "surprise" birthday parties in the conference room, including the time Kaye invented a front page meeting because my birthday was on a Thursday

12) Pranks, from super glued quarters to candy hearts

13) Coming up with photo illustrations for stories on every possible topic. I particularly enjoyed my career as a hand model for various packages.

14) Hearing horror stories about other editors' reporters, like the one who made out with his girlfriend in the press box during a game

15) When Courtney was gone and Jordon pretended to be her all week

16) Reading all of the really hilarious letters to the editor I didn't print for various reasons (mostly because they were from mentally unbalanced non-BYU students, like the guy who always talked about how the "Mormon CIA" kept erasing his blog)

17) Winning a Hearst for a column about free speech (also finding out that one of the random days we were supposed to submit for a contest was the BYUSA story)

18) Watching the Divine Comedy spoof on the BYUSA article together

19) Courtney and I chatting over Gmail chat when we were sitting across from each other because we didn't want the reporters to hear us talking about their stories

20) A ton of hilarious quotes, great people, lessons learned, fun moments, hard work, and sticking it to the man over three of the best years of my life