Dec 23, 2009

Breaking the Boundaries

For a final project, Regan Beauchamp and I profiled one of the most successful students at UNH Manchester.  Meghan Marcus, '10, is a communication arts major, with a history minor.  She's currently internng at NHPR, has won several awards and scholarships, and will graduate with honors.  At home, however, she is a mother to three growing boys, a girlfriend, and the official trainer for the puppy.  Marcus sat down with us to talk about the ups and downs of such a full life and how her boys have handled it.  

We called it Breaking the Boundaries because we feel Marcus has broken stereotypes as a non-traditional student and a student-mother.  

Oct 4, 2009

Culinary Adventures

There's something about taking ingredients, the raw, basic stuff that alone makes no sense, combining them, manipulating them, taking out the good, leaving the bad, to create something else entirely. It's part power trip, part chemistry, all great when it works and a tragedy when it fails.

That may be why i enjoy cooking so much. That sense of control. The world may be turning on its head, but here in this little corner, butter, milk, sugar, and chocolate will still turn into fudge.

Yeah, it could be all those reasons. Or it could be the heaping helpings of praise when doling out freshly made cookies.

Whatever the reason is, i cook. And here are some of the most recent adventures at Casa Power

Crunchy french toast.
Best when topped with strawberries

Shrimp risotto
Looks sweet and innocent but this Italian rice packs a punch. Half a serving size and you're full for the rest of the day.

Blueberry muffins
"No I don't know this muffin man of whom you speak, but i know someone who makes some kick-butt blueberry muffins."

Fail Cake (Double Chocolate)
Waited a full six hours before icing and it still feel apart.

Double delicious bars

The layers of chocolate, butterscotch and graham accent Fish Eye's soft yet sweet palate. And it tastes really good.

My mom is the real Julia Child in our house. She's been known to take recipes and put her own twist on them. she can make a full weeks worth of meals from memory alone. She's the anti-Child in that she doesn't need the exacting measurements Child used. But she's very Child-like in her passion for trying new things and experimenting in the kitchen, smiling whether or not it goes well.

I think the biggest commonality between the two is that Child cooked for her husband, Paul. That's how she got into the culinary arts in the first place. I believe the same goes for mom. I've seen her struggle all day with a recipe, literally not leave the kitchen for hours, and then completely forget the struggles while watching the fruits of her labor devoured at the table.

Like today, after we lost most of the stewed tomato base when some klutz forgot to hold onto the bowl (sorry), she didn't fret. Just when right back at it, with a second batch.

Hours of work - from planning to shopping to preparation to cooking - all for that hum of satisfaction after the first bite.

Sep 4, 2009

So long, farewell

When I'm old, wrinkled, and toothless, my college experience will probably be centered around my belly-ache inducing laughing fits with my friends and my stalker-like dedication to a bi-weekly rag. Since explaining the former would take more than one post, I'll focus on the latter. That dedication to that rag went from past time to an unofficial sixth class to focus of my collegiate career and back in my three years in Durham. But now, I'm biding adieu to tnh.

I still have a copy of the Freshmen edition from my freshmen year in all its tattered glory. Arriving from an all girl's high school where gossip travels faster than Vince Wilfork at a buffet, TNH was the first school paper I'd ever seen. Not the most interesting, well edited, or laid out paper on the planet, tnh represented some (pseudo)real experience writing. I was a declared journalism student and excited to see if it actually stuck.

I had two by-lines in the first (i'm pretty sure) issue of the school year - a student profile and a report on EEE. Both equally poorly written, they were given a thorough spit shine from the editors. Forgive the cheese, but there's a silly thrill about seeing my name in print above words that i wrote in print (though the editors made me look really good). I must have grabbed half a dozen copies to send to family and keep for myself. My parents were bemused, my grandmother (as you'd expect) exceeding proud, and my brothers curious who ate all the ice cream.

Hook, line, sinker. I was sold

In the three years that followed, I tried sports reporting, messed around with InDesign, and dove into multimedia and all its wonder. It was not unusual to arrive on production night at 5 in the afternoon and not leave until 2 or 3 the next morning. On a few really bad nights, it was a race to see which would get settled faster - the sun in the sky or me in my bed.

I left with fond memories. The newsroom is a tight-knit group because no one else but those sitting next to you at midnight understand why in the hell you're still there. Working there is a mix between being on a team, working in a cafeteria, and watching a stand-up act. There is no way to measure the lessons or skills I'll take away from the newsroom, nor any way to count the pounds of paper I've used, the amount of half-used notebooks that now litter my floor, or the number of times I've played catch with a stress ball (or wad of used tape).

With that, i offer a thanks to tnh and the poor saps that had to put up with me, a final apology (john) for my frequent screw ups, and a good luck in the coming year. If cam has his way, you'll all be including red wings references in your stories.

Aug 23, 2009

Camp Week

I’m 21 years old and still go to camp.

A few friends and I head up to a little lake in Gilmanton for a week in August. We’ll catch a bit of sun, take a few turns on the boats, even get a little shooting in at the range.

In between the fun, we have to take noontime meds, change a Depends, and push wheelchairs up a ramp or two.

For the past five years, I’ve been lucky enough to join in participate in Camp Fatima Exceptional Citizens week. E.C. Week celebrated fifty five years this year in a big way – the greatest number of campers, 162, in history.

Fatima on a grand scale is a volunteer camp for special needs campers. Over 300 people from across New England and beyond spend the week trying to make it the best week ever. The multi talented kitchen crew works to feed the campers and 300 volunteers. A handful of teenage boys wait on the tables and brave the affections of some campers. The gang at the waterfront spends the day entertaining swimming campers or taking them on turns around the lake. Special Programs takes to the stage every night for an interactive production of that year’s theme. And 162 counselors, 81 women and 81 men, spend the week with one camper.

On the small scale it’s the every day, mundane interactions. It’s the giggle fits with Mindy during a change. It’s a hug from Rorey after lunch. It’s talking trash with Dan during a snack fest outside Cabin 13. It’s the silly inside jokes with your camper, cheering for a cabin-mate after reading during mass, and singing “Hey Baby” at the top of your lungs before dinner.

I’ve been trying for five years to explain the appeal of climbing in and out of a top bunk, spending a week in a cabin with fifteen other people and one bathroom, showering in cold water with next to no water pressure, eating what we’re told is meatloaf. I’ve written a few papers on the Fatima experience but it always falls short. The words don’t ring with the joy and fun and work the week represents.

But I figure if Mindy Cheever can brave a boat ride without the belt to her chair buckled, then I can keep trying to tell people who don’t know, what a unique week it is.

Aug 12, 2009

Productive Proscrastination

If you’re an intern or just on that email list from Lisa, you know the time for the final evaluation is right around the corner. Which includes a four page paper on something we’ve learned. And in the most productive way I know how to procrastinate, here’s a list of what I’ve learned.

  • The ins and outs of photoshop, my bestest best friend
  • The thrill of speeding to a breaking news story
  • People I’ve known for less than 30 seconds find my awkwardness as amusing as my family
  • How to use Jazzbox
  • When you need alacrity, Jazzbox give you molasses
  • Rejection is a daily occurrence. If you’re lucky, it won’t be in public. If you’re not, it’ll be loud and embarrassing within hearing distance of at least two dozen people.
  • How a water tower works. And why you can’t aren’t allowed on the 150 foot tower.
  • On the 495 south turnoff from 95, you want to be in the left lane. The right is riddled with pot holes
  • The importance of deadlines and cushion and why the former should never be too close and the latter never too empty
  • An Einstein bobblehead is a desk necessity
  • Going without coffee seems like such a good idea until a 300 word brief takes you four hours
  • There is no quick way to explain where i stand academically, so in the interest of saving time, i'm graduating in may.
  • That I make a terrible fishermen
  • The story you want the least to do with will be the one people expect the most of
  • if you can make them laugh, the person you just rear ended will stop their curse filled critique of your existence.
  • when I needed the words the most, all I had was ‘thank you’
  • The most memorable advice I got all summer was from the biggest man I’ve ever known. “Just relax. You have to have faith.”

Aug 9, 2009

Top Chef, Burrow-style

You can tell when something’s up in the Burrow – the kitchen is teeming with action.

Brendan took to the oven when in a horrible, tragic accident there was no ice cream in the house. So Chef Boy-R-Dee decided to make extra large sugar cookies with sprinkles.

Might’ve been overdone. But he ate ‘em.

I made some low-fat cranberry orange muffins. The usual recipe for muffins – flour, butter, baking powder, eggs, milk, and sugar – then folded in some dried cranberries and homemade orange zest (do you know how expensive the stuff from the store is? $6 for one bottle?! Oh I don’t think so).

It’s no giant meatball or Reece’s cup cake, but I’ll work on that.

Jul 21, 2009

Bucket work

Here's a random tidbit. I'm not sure how many people are going to see this or care but it made me laugh.

I smile a lot. I tend to think its because I don't know what's going on, especially when working at the Bucket. So when a manager approached me and, unprompted, informed me my smile unnerves him (his exact words were "you've got a weird smile."), i let loose a laugh, partly because it struck me funny, partly because i didn't have anything else to say.

as anyone who has had the unfortunate luck to sit next to me during a funny movie can attest, my laugh is a cross between a foghorn and dog bark. aside from the very hard of hearing or very distant, few find it endearing.

but the look of utter repulsion on said manager's face upon hearing the laugh served only to get me going again, a little louder.

so the lesson today, kids, is the smile may be weird but wait till you get an earful of laughter. then you'll be asking for the smile.

Jul 14, 2009

Adventures in ski country

Went ziplining last Friday. I've never been and it seemed like a good idea. Dragged Kristine into the mix, because honestly who else would humor that kind of nonsense.

Zip lining (zipping?) aside, we stopped for some frozen deliciousness. No, the trash cans are not oversized ice cream cones to get your picture taken in. Go figure.
Oh were you aware that there is such a place as Pleasantville? No, really, it is North Conway. We drove by a little open park with a working water fountain and families frolicking about, mom-and-pop stores lining a two way mainstreet with clean sidewalks, not a graffited wall in sight. Dumbstruck, seriously, there were no words for at least half a minute. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop because no way, no way, does a place like that really exist.

Driving around, seeing (lots and lots of) mountains and greens, made the voyage damn good fun.

Jun 13, 2009

Let's go fishing

This might’ve been a bad idea. That’s all I could think waiting to shove off at the seemingly un-godly hour of 8:00 a.m.

I’m not a fisher. I’ve never fished a day in my life. The closest I’ve even come to fishing is repeated viewings of “A Perfect Storm.” Which, needless to say, isn’t exactly a promotional add for fishing.

But there I was, leaning against a balcony on “Starfish,” listening to the engine rumble to life. At five past eight, the boat starts to reverse. Too late to abandon ship now.

After crawling along the pier and underneath the Hampton bridge, the sway becomes a rock as the ship hits open water. After ten minutes, the engine hits another gear and the little wakes in front of the boat flirt with banister territory.

This is fun. The boat rocks like a ride, the wind tussles with my already wayward bangs, salt water peppers my cheeks. I wonder why I’m the only one along the outside enjoying this adventure. Then a wake splashes onto my head, soaking my face and dripping into my sweatshirt. Oh. Now I know.

At 8:30, the shoreline is a distant memory and my glasses are in dire need of a dry cloth. Or a mop. But it’s too fun to retreat inside the cabin. I’m grateful for the noise, my excited cackles could clear out the harbor alone.

Quarter till nine, the ship starts to slow. We’re no longer headed straight but begin a slow turn, kind of like a dog does before settling down.

I mop off my glasses as a crew member walks by. “A little wet, huh?” he said. Yeah, I’d say so. But so worth the frizz later.

By nine o’clock I am outfitted with a rod, complete with weight and two baited hooks, dropped all 185 feet. No problems so far. When I look up, my helpful crew guy is gone and suddenly I’m alone on the deck. (The rod is called Shakespeare. Somewhere, a literature professor laughs.) No sweat. I’ll be pulling up dinner in now time.

Ten minutes go by and I can head the excited yells from fellow fishers. They’re pulling up cod on the other side. The only tug I get is from the boat rock.

A crew guy walks by and tells me I should rebait the line after ten minutes. The bait – chopped up bits of fish – lose their smell after ten minutes. (Note: hands used to bait take a little longer to lose their smell. two thorough washings seem to work though.)

The trickiest part of rebaiting the line doesn’t even involve bait. It’s reeling in the line. Apparently pulling in 185 feet of line takes some time.

I can do bait this myself. I’m an adult, an independent adult. And the crew guy said he’d only bait it the first time. So I dig into a bucket of bait and feel around for something to lodge onto the hooks. I can’t express my gratitude I’m not dealing with worms. At least this bait stays still.

Two shrimps on the line, I get ready to cast away. Looking out at the wide open water, I can just imagine the multitudes of fish I’m going to bring back.

Plop, plop. Both globs of bait fall to the deck. Crap.

A squishy half minute later, the rod is back down, this time at 200 feet. At about nine miles out to sea, the only sound is the occasional seagull and other fishers. The boat rocks gently back and forth, soothingly. Suddenly I’m not even worried about pulling in fish.

Just before ten, the crew flicks on a radio. Cher starts to belt it out for the lonely, but no bites. Maybe the cod are more rock fans?

At 10:30, I decided to take a break and wander the deck. The Monahan crew from Illinois and Colorado are ready and rarin’ to catch anything. Even a teeny, tiny bout with sea sickness isn’t enough to keep this quartet down. further along, a Wolfboro native anxiously awaits for her dinner to come biting. “I’m doing this for survival,” she said. “This is better than grocery shopping!”

I cave and take a seat at a booth inside. The rocking starts and stops, and my stomach begins to mimic it. Iwillnotgetsick. Iwillnotgetsick.

At 10:45, I’m in the right spot to see someone pull in a dog fish. I’m excited, first time I’ve ever seen a shark (albeit, a small, mostly harmless shark) up close and personal. The hook went through his eye so untangling proves a little difficult. But eventually he’s freed and tossed back at sea. I find out later catching one is a jinx for fishing boats. It was still pretty cool though.

At eleven, we pull out the rods and head toward the coast. We’re going fishing for mackerel! Turns out the Starfish is the boat to be on when fishing for these little buggers. Crew member Chris Graham defended Starfish’s trophy when he won an overtime, sudden death final for the bragging rights.

Fishing for mackerel is different than the wait and see game of deep sea fishing. You don’t need bait for mackerel, which I found out after I baited. Charming. And instead of holding the rod steady, you jerk the rod back and forth. Mackerel are drawn to the shiny, moving hook. Sounds like some people I know.

With little more than the necessary goading, Chris grabs a rod and preps for a repeat performance. But its Tom that hauls in the most. He’s pulling up so many, he dumps one on the deck before putting it in another fisherman’s cooler. Someone will be stocked up on mackerel for a while. The mackerel on deck around for a while and that just can’t be good. I go to grab him then chick out. That’s right, I chicked out. Squealed like a teenager at a Jo-Bro poster and recoiled. So not cool. Tom laughed and heaved the oily little bugger into the cooler. Show off.

The Wolfboro crew were content to catch and release. With Chris nearby, the release part was easy. Grab the hook attached to oily bugger, flick said hook, and goodbye bugger. Easy, peasy, right? No,

One of the Wolfboro crew was game to let me release a mackerel. Grabbed hook (only one squeal), flicked, and . . . he’s still there. A few more muscled flicks later, he was free. Unfortunately so was the hook. Whoops.

A few more minutes of fun with mackerel, captain calls it a day. The anchor gets pulled up one more time and we head in. I am fishless. At least the physical one. I’m pretty sure I reek of the stuff.

We start a decidedly smoother ride back to the bridge and pier. The boat sloshes against the wakes, smaller this time. Leaning against the banister, I watch the coast creep into view.

I’m not a descendant of fishermen, at least not in the immediate. My dad gets painfully seasick to the point he pops Dramamine at the mention of boats and mom doesn’t like the dead, ready to eat fish variety, let alone the live, flopping kind. I haven’t fallen too far from the tree. The sea wind shellacked my hair into a mess, water from the deck soaked my pants to the knee, and leftover mackerel love peppered my hands. I don’t think I’m cut out for the fisherman’s life.

But there was something indescribably peaceful about standing on the boat, listening to the waves smack the side, and feeling the salty ocean air whip around that could easily entice me to give fishing another go.

May 14, 2009

Calling this one: Why I'm doubting semester honors

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn
makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our
equilibrium. ~Norbet Platt

So i researched blogs. i wanted to look into the strengths and weaknesses of blogs. specifically from the standpoint of a blogger.

some nitty-gritty details

  • blogs began to grow around 1999, thanks to some user friendly programs like livejournal and blogger
  • currently there are 1.5 million plus blogs online. that's a lot of posts, man.
  • its not uncommon to see business blogs, entertainers blogs, and political blogs to name a few. it's not all what-coco-the-dog-did-today out there

here are some of the advantages i found

  • informal tone - one blogger said she can communicate with costumers in a way she can't with a newsletter or personal email
  • blogs are simaltanously one-to-one and one-to-mass. another blogger said he can address questions on a personal basis while documenting the answer publically for further reference
  • the flexibility of the medium. unlike newspaper which is bound by print, tv which is bound by images, or coffeehouses which are bound by the space, blogs can be visual with pictures and videos, straight text while reaching across great distances.

i like lists. let's get another

  • in 2002, Senator Trent Lott resigned after several blogs got heavy traffic thanks to his foot-in-mouth racist comment.
  • Dan Rathers got similar treatment after some investigative bloggers found out documents used on 60 Minutes II were fakes
  • Tamill community members have been protesting outside of the US embassy in Toronto for nearly two weeks. Much of the organization was done through blogs. Along the same lines, the protesters are getting online support.

"That's all fine and good meg, but what about the teenager who posts all her emo crap? you can't tell me that adds to anything."

in fact i cannot.

but i can say this. a few of the bloggers noted that the process of writing for a blog helps them think - collect thoughts, best ways to say things, how can i enhance presentation, all that jazz. plus most of the bloggers were quick to note the surplus of blogs. one aptly put it that sometimes "reading blogs can be like driving down the highway and looking at billboards – none really stand out, and the next day its difficult to remember what you saw."

but there is potential. any writer will tell you practice makes perfect. so if 14 year old needs to vent about her awful math teacher, let her. you don't know, she may write the next great american ... novel? podcast? i dunno.

the point is even if the only other person who sees the blog is someone digging through google, there are still benefits to blogging.

here endth the lesson.

Mar 25, 2009

Oh! new toy

Visiting journalist Steve Damish of The Enterprise gave the newsroom a new camera, which we promptly put to use.

There's some bad language at the end.  Sorry.

Mar 10, 2009

San Diego reflections

I was fortunate to attend the Associated Collegiate Press National College Journalism Convention conference and here's what I've learned.

1. there are a lot of other college aged and not college aged journalists worried about the future of the industry we've just spent at least one academic year working toward. nothing calms quicker than realizing you are not alone.

2.   old dogs can learn new tricks. and they are learning them fast.  of the sessions on multimedia i attended, the professional journalists were not young kids fresh out of college.  rather, they were seasoned veterans weathering the shift from print to online newspapers. i thought this spoke highly of how important it is, in journalism to learn on your feet.  i doubt these guys had to consider the ins and outs of Final Cut when the first started but they do now and they can speak with clear confidence on the issue. i hope to be that confident twenty years from now when discussing the latest technological development

3. a good website takes work. we've inherited a less than pretty website at TNH but we're looking to change that.  so when i sat in the website critique, pen in hand, i hoped for a page, maybe two of tips for improvement.  I walked out with six, count 'em, six pages of do's and don't's on the art of online. its like looking at a river, saying 'oh, that's not to bad. betcha i can get across in a few minutes.' then you jump in and suddenly you're fighting the Mississippi.  but looking at number 2 from above, we're getting through.  i now know more about html code than i did after a semester of studying it.  hmm

4. WE HAVE A FUTURE!  one of the best keynote speakers, Andrew Donahue of the local made it very clear that a free press is an important and appreciated niche in society. it is just a matter of adapting, be it mastering twitter where a front page tease when a front page tease would have sufficed or using pictures where words would have dominated years ago.  

"This is a tremendous era of efficiency and innovation," Donahue said. "And we need to be original." 

We need to be think outside the box today to ensure the continuation of good journalism tomorrow.  c'mon doesn't that give ya goosebumps?

Mar 2, 2009

Sunshine to Snowfalls

I was wrong. Didn't have access to the Internet.

San Diego was amazing. Beautiful weather, nice people, clean city. All good stuff. The flight back east was tough. We snuck in before the snow hit. The captain said we were actually early which was nice. Or not depending on how much you avoided doing work this weekend.

Speaking of that, there's a boat load of work I should be doing ...

Feb 25, 2009

Go west young man, haven't you been told ...

It's 11:45 p.m. On the dot. I should be asleep. I should have been asleep at 9:30. because i need to be up in, let's see ... four and a half hours. It's not going to be pretty people.

We (eight hard working staffers from TNH) are heading West to San Diego for a college journalism conference. And I'm pretty excited. Excited enough to be writing a post at ... wait for it ... 11:47.

I'm going to try to write a post after each day. Kind of hoping we'll have access to a computer so I'm bringing a wire for uploading pictures too.

11:50. i can't think of anything else to say so I'm off to bed. Oh, if you're looking for a newspaper tomorrow, I'd suggest you don't try the MUB. It's cleaned out. Sorry