Last day, new friend

It is my last day at my internship is Washington, D.C.
It is sweltering outside as it has been for the past couple of weeks. I haven’t blogged much because I have been crazy busy traipsing around DC, writing and…. sleeping.

The biggest news around here is that we have a Congress who can’t make decisions. I thought that was common knowledge, but every once in a while we are reminded just how ridiculous they are. The debt ceiling is one of those moments. I can’t understand what is taking people so long — it seems quite obvious that a debt ceiling raise is better than defaulting.

I made a new friend yesterday. He is from Northern Iraq (read:Kurdistan) and is the incoming editor in chief of the only independent student newspaper in the country. I was interviewing him for a magazine story. His story and his goals are absolutely fascinating. I am sure I will blog more about meeting him in the coming days, once I get to my mom’s house.

Our stories for the SPLC magazine should be out in late August and I will link to them here.

Also, I finally decided to register a website and have it forwarded to here. So, from now on bynickdean.com will bring you to my blog.

I am considering getting a more up-to-date theme for the site. I may work on that in the coming weeks before I head to Texas.

Other than that, sorry everyone for the lack of blogging. BUT, I have been writing for myself so hopefully I can transfer some of those entries into blog posts. Thanks for reading my stuff throughout the summer, and I hope you keep reading as I go on my next adventure: London!

Metro Music: “And If My Heart Should Stop,” by James Vincent McMorrow.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeCwdXfS_vI&w=425&h=349]

This song is quickly becoming my favorite song of all time, McMorrow is just so incredibly talented. Be sure to check out more of his stuff. This video is completely black, but has the audio.

Peace,
Nick

In 24 hours, my mom will be here!

Today is Friday and my mom will be here in less than 24 hours! I am extremely excited she is going to be here — I haven’t seen her since JANUARY. Ridiculous, I know.

This will be my mom’s first visit to the District ever — so we have alot to do and see. Luckily she is going to be here for a little more than two weeks! We might be able to get everything done in that time hahah. As far as major news events go, Weiner finally resigned. When the POTUS says he would resign, I think it is time for a House Rep. to do so.

Throughout the coming weeks I will probably be posting pictures of my mom and me at several places in the District. It is an exciting couple of weeks starting tomorrow, because Sommer is also visiting next week! My basement apartment will soon be full of laughter when my mom, Sommer and I finally get to hang out! My friend Tori is visiting in the middle of July and I am hoping a couple more people may visit. It is great to live in a city where people will come visit you!

Tonight I am going to see The Green Latern because — now go with me here — the husband of the couple whose house I live in was an animator for the movie! How neat is that? He is super talented and I am pumped to see all of the parts he worked on! I am going with  — now follow me again — the mother of the wife of the couple that I live with, and a bunch of other people. They are making shirts that say we know one of the animators — so great!

The internship has been fantastic, I am loving what I am doing and enjoying the writing.(I know I say that I lot, but I really am!) Here is a link to a recent article I wrote for the SPLC.

Well, other than that, stay updated and I will let you all know how my mom’s visit is! Also, I promise I have some more reflective blogs in the works, it is just transcribing them from my journal to the Internet is well, tedious, thanks to my cryptic handwriting and lack of work ethic after 7 p.m. most nights.

Metro Music for today: Ten Thousand Words, by The Avett Brothers

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugkLFwqslp8&w=560&h=349]

The update post

In true DC intern fashion, I have gotten quite busy and my blogging has hit a dry spell. It was a good run of consistency, that is for sure.
Either way, on Monday and Tuesday I was at the Mayborn Conference here in Washington, D.C. with other Baylor interns. The conference is put together by a Baylor professor and gives us interns the opportunity to meet numerous alumni that work all over DC — from the Hill to the private sector. This was my second year going and the helpfulness of this conference can’t really be described.

View from one of the sessions at the DC internship conference for Baylor interns in the District this summer. What a view, right!?

It gave me such a boost of energy by reminding me of why I am in DC and what is available here for me. Also, getting to meet alumni reinforced the truth that Baylor is hands down one of the best schools in the nation. That sentiment was echoed by most of the alumni, Maywho said going to Baylor prepared them in ways they didn’t even realize.
I am back to my normal schedule at my internship and thankful everyday for the people I get to work with — I am learning much and really enjoying my time here.
The biggest news of the week, however, is that MY MOM IS FLYING IN ON SATURDAY. Oh man, I could not be more excited!
I haven’t seen her since my visit to Hawaii in January and now I get to spend nearly two weeks with her in one of my favorite cities!
Next week, Sommer flies in to visit as well! These next couple of weeks are going to be awesome.
Well, other than that, be sure to check out the SPLC website when you get the chance. We are documenting some of the great and not-so-great things happening in the student press realm.
Here’s to more consistent blogging again! (I have some blogs planned, just need to carve out the time!)

Metro Music for today: “Moth’s Wings,” by Passion Pit

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9o8SlyPB84]

News catalog: June 9

I’ve got some sad news today. My dear Blackberry, affectionately named Clarence Thomas, has died. Thankfully, I made a claim online and they overnighted me a new phone. It should arrive at my internship today — so all will be right with my cellular world soon enough.

Other than that, I got my assignments for my three magazine stories that I will write as part of my internship and I am ready to start on them. But before I get to work, here are a few interesting reads from yesterday.

In the Times yesterday there was a neat feature about U.S. Representatives offering up their districts’ best known snacks at there offices here in DC. It’s a lighthearted take on the everyday happenings on the Hill.

Everyone has seen the girls with feathers in their hair. I am not knocking the fad — OK maybe I am a little — but when a fad is starting a rooster genocide maybe it should be mocked a wee bit.

Also, for DC intern friends: You should read the Wash Post #THATintern post each day. They are pretty funny and for those who have ridden the metro or worked at other internships and the writer — Jenna Johnson — often nails the intern types right on the head. Heck, I am pretty sure last summer I was described in one of the posts! haha

Metro Music for Today: “Love Lost” by The Temper Trap

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLTPKKt-pMs&w=500&h=349]

Nick’s News Catalog is a way for me to keep up with my summer here in Washington, D.C. by looking back on the news I read that day. Some of it is hard hitting and some of it is cool features. Adding the metro music video each day is a way to let people know of cool songs I have discovered or some of my favorite artists I often listen to on repeat.

News Catalog: June 7 [stay informed, people!]

Morning everyone! Hope this week has started off well. Today, I only suggest reading one person: David Brooks.

David Brooks

Brooks, a columnist for the Times is one of my favorite news commentators because of his straight-forward writing and his ability to see from both sides. His column Where Wisdom Lives in today’s NYT is about Medicare. Snore, I know, it is a boring topic. However, in true Brooks form, this column details information surrounding this debate so that you can become more informed about what is at stake.

He is an opinion writer, so his opinion is in there. But it is mixed with well thought out definitions and the view from both sides. Read this today and then you’ll be a little more informed about American politics and why they keep rambling about Medicare.

Other than that, here’s today’s Metro Music: Lost in My Mind by The Head and the Heart

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjoA4nYBD5U&w=560&h=349]

News Catalog: June 6

Mondays — no one likes them. Hey, at least this one has started so that means it is closer to ending.(That, my friends, is the epitome of optimism)

At Linda's pool. Talk about the best place with some of the best people. Always thankful for how this family takes care of me!

Either way, the weekend was great. Didn’t do much — got some good reading done while hanging out at the pool! It looked exactly like the picture until about 5 o’clock when random rain clouds appeared.

This is my third week at my internship and I am loving it. I am loving the writing, the topics and the legal aspect of the job. We should be starting on our long-form pieces for the magazine soon — something I am looking forward to. Over the weekend, I watched several cable news shows (they are big here for Washington politics) and I have to say — the presidential candidates for 2012 seem quite dull. I think if I continue watching and reading this closely I will be burned out by August 2011. Uh-oh.

Don’t know if you heard, but Katie Couric is pursuing a talk show and it looks like today she will announce that she is taking ABC’s offer. Couric is going to have a daytime talk show along with being a part of the news team. Best of both worlds for her, I would assume.

Oh, last week a huge scare broke out about cell phones causing cancer. Well, this USA Today opinion writer (and doctor) says it is all hype and that more testing needs to be done. I think I am safe either way though, seeing that the majority of my conversations are via text.

Shout-out to my friend Jessica, who is going to own the LSAT today.  One day we will both be able to end a winning argument with, “lawyered.” Someday soon, Jess!

Metro Music: Stand by Me, Ben E. King (throwback…)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbg7YoXiKn0&w=425&h=349]

News Catalog: June 2

There was a tornado in Massachusetts yesterday  — a very odd place for a tornado. Check out this video of the tornado over water, then heading over a bridge. This is some of the most intense footage I have seen of a tornado.

Also in the news: Rep. Anthony Weiner and his Twitter controversy. I don’t understand why he is being so shady about this whole thing. He just needs to answer the questions: Is this your photo or yourself? and Did you send it? And everyone can just know the truth.

Update: Mitt Romney announced his presidential campaign today.

Well, other than that. I leave you with Metro Music of the day: “Brick,” by Ben Folds

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt5EHAqhR1c&w=425&h=349]

From the ground: Facing the destruction in Joplin

[slideshow]

Giving to others took on a rudimentary form for Taylor Savage and Rachel Adamson (two of my great friends) when they decided to spend two days of Memorial Day weekend in Joplin, Missouri helping the victims of a massive tornado that has claimed nearly 140 lives, according to Reuters. That total is going to rise with more than 100 people on a missing persons list.

President Barack Obama visited Joplin Sunday, visiting  sites of major devastation in the town and speaking at a memorial service at Missouri Southern State University later that day.

Rachel and Taylor spent Saturday and Sunday volunteering in Joplin.They found themselves moving debris, talking to victims and simply praying with the affected. They have graciously answered a few of my questions via email about what the experience was like and how they view the current situation in Joplin. It is an interesting take to see the Joplin devastation from two volunteers’ perspectives. Not wanting my rhetoric to get in the way, I am just going to publish the full Q&A as is.

Please share with others so that maybe we can begin to understand just how this traumatic experience has affected so many.

What were you expecting before you got there? What did you think you’d see and how did you think you could help?

Rachel and Taylor

Rachel:  I wasn’t really sure, to be honest.  I had a friend go up to help 2 days after the tornado, and he did debris clean-up and data entry, so I was expecting to do things like that.  Being from Oklahoma, I had an idea of what the debris path would look like, as well.  Roofs missing, some houses knocked down, lots of broken limbs…I was really just expecting that on a wider scale than I’m used to seeing.

Taylor: I was expecting to see destruction, and I was expecting to do labor in the middle of that destruction, so nothing too imaginative. However, some things changed up a bit for me when Rachel and I finally drove into the part of town that was hit, and I was a little nervous, to be honest. I know that there is quite a bit psychologically involved with grief, so I didn’t want to get in the way of that. It didn’t cost me  anything to travel up there for a weekend, and it cost everything for the people who lived there. I was just afraid of being one of hundreds of “things in the way.”

How did that compare to what it actually was like?

Rachel:  It was much, much worse.  The debris path was huge, but it didn’t look like anything I’d seen before.  Trees were stripped of even their bark, houses were literally just piles of rubble…one woman told me she’d even seen a 2×4 impaling a concrete curb.  You could stand in the middle of it and turn in a complete circle and see nothing but devastation.  The scene was apocalyptic.

Taylor: The images I expected to see were the images that I saw, but there is a definite (and obvious) distinction between mental images and real ones. I knew that I would see concrete slabs covered in debris, but there is an emotional “realness” associated with seeing the destruction that you can’t possibly get from viewing AP photos of the very same thing. Regarding my fear of getting in the way; I quickly learned that there were far too many volunteers to properly organize, but not near enough to aid in the healing that Joplin needed.

What is one memory you will take away from today?

Rachel:  Yesterday, Taylor asked a man we were helping if we could pray with him before we left, and he seemed really touched.  I cried a little.  Today, we were in an area of worse destruction, and we saw several cars with flashing lights and hordes of firemen and policemen, so we walked down to check it out.  We stood about 100 feet away and watched men with blue nylon gloves tear through a pile of debris while a sobbing woman hugged her husband beside the property.  I can only assume that they found a body, or at least part of one…that image won’t leave me for a while.

Taylor: Like Rachel said, praying with that man was probably the most memorable thing that happened. I could stay the entire summer and work every day, and even then I wouldn’t feel like I had accomplished any significant amount of work. There is much work to be done in Joplin, and even though clearing a yard full of debris doesn’t make a dent, knowing that we could at least pray over a hurting man and provide comfort in that regard is incredibly rewarding.

Were there many volunteers there? Or alot of people just strolling through?

Rachel:  There were almost too many volunteers to organize, which was a blessing.  There were people on debris clean-up, people offering pick-up trucks for whoever needed them, people giving away boxes, mental health professionals offering free counseling services, etc.  While we were working on debris clean-up, a truckload of volunteers would drive by about every 5 minutes and offer us food, drink, towels to wipe our sweat on, chapstick, sunscreen…everything.  The hospitality was overwhelming.  Unfortunately, there were lots of sightseers as well.  The roads were pretty clogged with people and their cameras, and several residents combatted that by putting up spray painted signs that said “This is not a parade,” “Pictures – $15,” and “Put down your camera and lend a hand.”  Today lots of people came through to “help,” but they showed up right before Obama came through and were wearing Sperry’s and nice clothes…I didn’t even lose a home and I found it offensive.

Taylor: There were a ton of people in general, but luckily a large majority of them seemed to be volunteers. I have never seen or been a part of any event like this, so I’m not exactly sure what to compare it too, but I can definitely tell you that there was a large amount of people. Rachel pretty much summed up the rest.

Describe the mood/feel of where you were

Rachel:  We were helping a doctor clean debris from his father-in-law’s home, and the man was extremely nice and positive and grateful for our help.  He was from a neighboring town, and the house was still standing, so I thought that maybe he was in such a good mood because he hadn’t suffered the kind of losses that other people had. He volunteered stories throughout the afternoon, and at one point shared that he had worked in the ER for the first 20 hours after the tornado hit. He didn’t go into detail about the things he saw, but when he was finished telling some of those stories, he told us that he appreciated us just being there to listen, and that our doing so was therapeutic for him. Another family we helped was less talkative, and very matter-of-fact about the whole thing. They seemed like the destruction sucked for them, but didn’t seem very upset. It was like the reality of what happened hadn’t even sunk in a week later.


Taylor:
Neither pain nor celebration, everyone was just in work mode. I know that isn’t good storytelling, but it’s the truth. I think maybe the people of Joplin and those affected by the storm were grieving with each other in silence, while those of us volunteering were cheerful and glad to be there to help. There weren’t people sobbing in the streets, and there weren’t large groups circling flags and singing the national anthem. Most people seemed to stick to the work that they knew needed to be done. However, I don’t say that to take away from the generosity of the people that were there. Hospitality, mercy, and service was plentiful.

How to help:


Joplin Missouri Disaster Relief Fund

– Sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, you can donate online or mail the foundation a check. It will then distribute funds appropriately.

Text it:
• REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross
• TORNADO to 20222 to help out World Vision
• JOPLIN to 80888 to make a $10 donation to The Salvation Army

NNC: May 27

Morning, everyone! Friday is here — and that means for the first time I have successfully blogged for a week straight. I can hardly believe it. We shall see how long it lasts. Either way, this week has been awesome. I am loving my internship and have gotten to start writing already. Check out my stories here and here.

When children’s scribbles hide a prison drug
— This was too crazy of a story to pass up. Apparently, a drug that is used to cure an opiate addiction is being smuggled into prisons in very clever ways. For instance, one mailer sent an inmate a coloring page with the drug smeared across it. Another made the drug into a past and used the paste to put the stamp on the mail.

Romney, Bachmann will join the 2012 race soon.
— The POLITICO offices are right across the street from where I work. (I know, I got giddy too when I heard that). So, as I was walking up to work this morning, the scrolling ticker on the front of POLITICO’s building said Bachmann was ‘likely’ to announce her 2012 campaign in Iowa. And now, Romney is throwing his hat in, too. Also, people keep hinting at a Palin run. I don’t even know how I feel about that.

Alright, everyone enjoy Memorial Day weekend. I am going to try and go into the District tomorrow. However, the metro has scheduled major construction and it is supposed to be a nightmare for the entire weekend. Wish me luck!

Today’s Metro Music: V.V. Brown’s “Shark in the water” (Shout out to my friend Laura for this one about a year ago!)

Here’s an embedded video. (but click here for V.V’s official music video)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgI624tOyFo&w=425&h=349]

NNC: May 26

Thursday, people! It is Thursday! That means it is almost the end of my first week in Washington, DC.

Paul Ryan’s budget fails in Senate

— Yesterday afternoon, the news broke that the Senate did not pass Paul Ryan’s budget for the next fiscal year. The plan would have reconstructed the current Medicare system and was obviously too risky for even some republicans, as five Rs joined with the Dems to vote the plan down.

Texas vs. TSA

— My great friend Sommer Ingram wrote this story yesterday about how the Texas state house and the TSA are clashing over its policies that allow what some have deemed inappropriate inspections of flight passengers. It was a widely accepted bill in the Texas House — until the federal government got involved — citing that it would stop all flights it felt were unsafe without TSA inspection.

The threat from the federal government ticked some Texans off. (cue Rick Perry’s speech from a couple years ago, “I am tired of people coming down here and trying to tell us how to run Texas.” True story, that happened. Country twang and all.)

Also, check out this video from the Texas Tribune (an awesome source for Texas news) that shows an enraged Austin radio host protesting yesterday in the capitol building.

Also, I don’t know how many of you follow Anderson Cooper — the CNN anchor — but you need to. He is normally the CNN anchor covering major breaking news on the scene and his personal twitter account informs followers of behind-the-scenes news and mainstream news.

Either way, look at these two tweets Cooper sent to people last night. If (and hopefully when) I am a professional journalist, this is how I will respond to rude people (picture one). I also like that he doesn’t tip-toe around his feelings on Westboro (picture 2).

Tweet from Anderson Cooper (picture 1)

Tweet from Anderson Cooper last night (picture 2)

Well, that is all for today from me. Over the weekend I will hopefully write a full-out blog [or two!].

Metro Music: Andrew Belle, “All those pretty lights”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_qqIlcIqjw&w=425&h=349]