Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Spinach Symposium

I can't remember if I mentioned before, but I started working at a farm on the weekends. At any rate, I worked there yesterday evening, this morning, and the better part of the afternoon.

It's relatively hard work, but it's kind of relaxing in a paradoxical  sort of way. I used to hate doing stuff like it, but after spending ten hours a day for the last three years either in front of the computer or reading, it's kind of nice to go and do something with your hands.

Last night we were harvesting peppers, and today spinach. The spinach takes forever, and I can't imagine that there are enough people who eat spinach to consume all that we harvested....

Aside from being relaxing, it also pays more than any other jobs around here would, which is a plus. The only drawback is it's about 30 miles away, which means that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of what I earn goes into gas.

I'm done with that for the weekend now though, and amazingly, the one paper that I had to work on got postponed, meaning the only thing I need to do is finish a video I'm working on for Triangle about the Genesis Symposium the school is holding in Chattanooga. I got the interviews for it done on Thursday though, so the rest of it will be mainly editing.

So it looks like it will be a remarkably chill weekend, which I can't say I mind after the last couple weeks.

Monday, September 19, 2011

People are fantastic liars

 The rest of the story conference, that is, since my last post, went really well. The last day included all kinds of fabulous food from deep dish pizza to urban mix to fruit to Costa Rican food.

We also had the chance to explore some of the city, which was fun. Left is a photo of Chicago showing train tracks leading past the Salvation Army Headquarters and toward the downtown area.

Ian Cron spoke on the last day of the conference, and he was easily my favorite speaker. He read a bit from his personal memoir, and it reminded me a lot of Roald Dahl, one of my favorite authors.

On the morning of the last day before departing for Tennessee, we went out on Navy Pier––a beautiful place.

The ride home was interesting. We created a mix CD to which everyone contributed two songs. I introduced everyone to Miike Snow, and then, to LCD Soundsystem, which was much better received than I had expected it would be.
On getting back, I was greeted with the controversy surrounding my latest article.... People are fantastic liars. As an adherent to reformed theology, I believed this before, but it has now been confirmed yet again by my experience.

The people that I interviewed for the story are now claiming that they didn't know that I intended to directly quote them. I told them it was an interview for Triangle, the campus newspaper. What the hell did they think I was going to do? Transliterate their remarks into an interpretive water ballet?

And of the three people who refused interviews but confirmed their involvement, one or two wrote my editor in chief that I had told them that I would not publish their names. I did nothing of the sort. And yet they say that I did.

I had a pretty good conversation with one of them today, and it turns out this person was more upset with the accompanying editorial than with my story itself. As for the others, I can only say that their response has actually made me glad that I published their names.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stories In Chicago

Chicago has been good so far. We started out last night at a sort of adult story-hour/potluck/open mic, which was in a bar and ended up being a little on the far out side (okay, more than a little, but I will spare you the details). This morning we headed into the city from the house we rented and attended the conference, which was great. I got to see, among other people, John Mark McMillan, Ted Dekker, and Sean Astin, who wasn't even on the program, but turned out to be one of the highlights for me. It's also like the Mecca of hipsters, which I guess I'm okay with. 

Over lunch break we went into the city center, and after a somewhat stressful experience parking, were able to walk around whatever the park area that is there, which was beautiful.

Left is the "Bean" or something like that, which was fun. The photo at top is actually our groups reflection in it.

Below is the auditorium in which the conference takes place. John Mark and his warm up band, All The Bright Lights have been doing most of the music, along with some other group that is a little strange but still interesting. There has been lots of cool free stuff too, which is always fun.

This evening we went to a show at a theater that is owned by someone who spoke at the somewhat questionable story-hour from the first night. It was  excellent. So today was good, if tiring, and hopefully tomorrow will be good as well.

Oh... and that article, along with the accompanying editorial came out today in Triangle's first print edition of the semester. Apparently it is causing quite a stir on campus. I started getting the blow=back from it on my black-berry this afternoon. Interestingly, I was standing in the lobby right in front of Ted Dekker, who was talking about the importance of writing accurately about darkness, even if it's controversial. So even if my piece was only about clowns, it seemed strangely reassuring at the moment. If you're interesting in reading it, here is the link to Triangle, although, it is somewhat graphic in the quotations... so consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Maybe it was something I ate in Lebanon

It's been a crazy week, and it's almost over, even though it was only two days long.

I'm going to Chicago tomorrow for Story Conference which is a meeting of Christian media and creative professionals. I'm stoked about the trip, but it meant that I had to compress all of my school for the week into the past 48 hours and the weekend. On top of that, I was working on the biggest, most ridiculous, and potentially controversial news story for Triangle that I've ever done. I obviously can't go into specifics, but it involved talking with like 20 people before I found anyone who was even willing to talk about it, and the interviews weren't even nailed down until two hours before my deadline for the entire article. Safe to say, ridiculous as it is, it may actually be a good thing that I'll be 500 miles away when the print edition hits the mail boxes on Thursday or Friday.

I've never really felt the motivation to chase a story this hard or this far. I'm usually preoccupied with other things, and besides, I tend to be a pushover, and pressuring people at all for information they don't want to give up usually makes me want to throw up. Heck, writing stories isn't even one of my job requirements as MM editor. I guess I was just frustrated with enough of the underlying issues that ended up surfacing in the story itself––or more accurately the underlying reasons that people wanted to suppress it, that I suddenly had this desire to blow the whole thing up whether people would help me or not and name names whether people wanted to be named or not... and that feeling stayed with me consistently until I submitted the final draft to my editor.

Now I'm hoping I didn't go too far, but I guess I won't know that until I get back from Chicago, or possibly when the chatter starts on fb. I really don't know what that feeling I had was from though. Maybe it was something I ate in Lebanon.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Black Light

Today was a crazy day. This morning was international opportunities chapel, and because of my experience this summer I was asked to speak for a couple minutes, which ended up being kind of fun, but still took some planning. Much more planning though went into the event that my persuasive comm group and I have been working on for the last week or so.
The class consists of two marketing campaigns, short-term and long-term. In the short-term you promote an event, which would be pretty straight forward except that you also have to envision, plan, organize, and create the event from the ground up. We chose to do a black light ping pong party, which sounded like a really strange idea, but was something that we felt would draw people from across multiple social groups (a difficult thing to do). After a promotional video, announcements, and a facebook page, we had generated a lot of excitement, but it wasn't until we actually had everything together about an hour before crunch time that we actually knew it would work at all. It ended up being beautiful though. We were able to transform the room above into the room below (only it looked a lot cooler in real life) and had over 300 recorded participants, which on a campus of only 700 or so is no small feat.
While there were a ton of problems getting everything that we needed today, and we over spent our budget by about 15%, it seemed like everyone who attended really enjoyed it, which I think is the important thing....

Thursday, September 01, 2011

So On It Goes

It's been a strange week. There was the usual chaos of a new school year starting up; getting an idea of what classes will be like, running around with add/drop forms, trying to figure out what I absolutely need to take this semester if I want to graduate in the Spring, petitioning for substitutions to that end. Basically the usual routine. Then early Tuesday morning I woke up to my alarm, turned it off and stood up. Jonathan, who had been awakened by my alarm looked over at me and said something to the effect of "Hey, I'm really sorry to tell you this right now, but Meaghan Jones died last night." 

Still dazed, my first thought was something like, "which Meaghan," which sounds weird, but I know several, and there were actually two Meaghan Jones on campus, which is a bit odd for a school of less than 1,000 students. I only really knew one of them, not remarkably closely, but we had gone to DC a couple times on the same conferences, first CPAC and then GPG, and had talked about politics occasionally (we were both poli-comm majors). She knew a lot about DC. Just as I was recalling all this, I checked my phone and found a voicemail from my editor at 1:22AM informing me of the same thing and asking for logins to pages I had been managing so we could start covering it, which sounded kind of surreal to me. In fact, really everything that day seemed kind of surreal, and I had a hard time giving a [expletive of your choice] about add/drop forms, substitutions, the paper I was supposed to submit that morning, or plans in general.

There was a big memorial service that night––which is not to say that the service itself was big––just the amount of people that attended. It was definitely the most emotional gathering I've seen since I've been here and it brought a lot of people in the community together that normally wouldn't have been.

So it has been a very strange feeling week since then. Despite the strangeness, and all of my suddenly strengthened inability to care about add/drop forms, papers, and such ilk, the registrar's deadline for me having my semester in order is still Friday, and my professors will still fail me if I don't turn in my papers. So on it goes.

This evening I went to the Norquist's house for dinner, and to meet the other members of a group that will be going to Chicago in a few weeks for a conference. It was a good time, and I think it will be a fun trip.

On the way back my car started smoking. Greatly disturbed, I pulled over in downtown Dayton and started frantically inspecting it. It's a 2000 Audi A6 with 216,000 miles on it, so I wasn't entirely surprised that something went wrong. The fact that it appeared to be on fire was a bit disconcerting though. The smoke fortunately seemed contained to one of the wheel-wells, and after explaining the symptoms to my Dad on the phone, decided it was probably just the brake caliper, and decided to attempt the trip back to campus, I made it, and parked safely away from any other cars or buildings, in case the unthinkable happened and the entire thing burned up––it happened to a friend of mine once. It continued to smolder for a half hour or so, but last time I checked it had stopped. My Dad told me a test I can do tomorrow after it cools down to see if the brakes are locked, but it appears that the A6 lives to die another day. So on it goes.