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The definitive host: February 2009

The definitive host

de·fin·i·tive host (duh-fin'eh-tiv) n. 1) An organism where a parasite undergoes the adult and sexual stages of its reproductive cycle 2) Someone you go to for interesting stories and/or facts, and puts on one hell of a dinner party 3) This blog, devoted to science and other geeky subjects

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tick, Tick, Tick ..... BOOM

Check it out. I have accomplishments!!!

See at the top right, called "My Selection of Recently Published Articles?" Those are actually things that I have written that have been published and released upon the world!

Now, while that statement may make me sound like a bit of a journalism style Batman villain, I really don't care. After these past few months, I have some actual results!

Now, with the pleasantries out of the way, let me tell you how my life is a ticking time bomb that will explode and rain David all over my friend?

My reading week was spent on the phone calling an oil company numerous times a day about a spill that happened a long time ago. Despite my enthusiasm and angle (it was a POSITIVE ONE for the company), they still refused to contact or talk to me.

My idea for my MRP (Master's Research Project) has died.
R.I.P my excellent idea.
NOW, I have to come up with a brand-spanking new idea in just a day or two, so that I have time to write a 800 word paper about it and do some actual research on it! Did I mention it is due in a week?

There are only 6 weeks left of term, and everything is becoming due at the same time.

And, I don't have a summer internship lined up. I've gotten a bunch of rejection letters, which of course do wonders for the ol' journalistic self-esteem.

If anyone has any ideas for my project or a summer job, I will intensely listen and give it SERIOUS thought.

Now, I know that everything will get done, I am just not sure HOW yet.

These are the times that my head feels like a pressure cooker that is slowly cooking my brain on a nice well-done setting.


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Friday, February 20, 2009

Regress to a Simpler Time

Just a quick aside:

Ideas are like ants.

There are billions upon billions of them. When you aren't looking for one, they are EVERYWHERE.

Then, when you desperately NEED one ... none are to be found.

That is what my reading week was like.

All except for a brief time with a good friend of mine. It made my day/week and probably month too.

We got together at her place just to talk and catch up. The following has not been edited in any way, shape or form.

K - My boyfriend is weird.
Me - How so?
K - He's a genius with computers, but sucks at English. Seriously.
Me - It happens.
K - Wanna know what I do to help?
Me - What?
K - I read to him.
Me - Really?
K - Yah, it helps him!
K - IT DOES!!!
Me - Well, what do you read him?
K - Well, I'm reading him children's books. I kill two birds with one stone, because I am taking a children's literature course for school. So, in essence, my reading to him is studying! :)
Me - What kinda books?
K - Some Seuss, Treasure Island, Winnie the Pooh
Me - Awesome! Which Winnie the Pooh?
K - House of Pooh
Me - *PAUSE*
K - Wha? Ohhh, David!!
Heheheh, Pooh

And this went on for about another 5 minutes!!!

So there you have it, even though I consider myself and my friend exceptionally smart people, we all have moments like that.

Every now and then, it helps to act like a seven-year-old and laugh at a good ol' fashioned poo joke :)

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

David Vs. Friday the 13th

Well, it is reading week, and I back home in good ol' T.O. It is nice to be home!

Let's discuss Friday, but not just any Friday. That's right, it was Friday the 13th ... Ooooo!!!!

It was the last day of radio and the last newscast, and I had spent the few days prior doing research and interviewing people for my assignment, which I completed ON TIME!

Then, during the newsday, I had to trim it down from a 90 second voicer (where you would hear my voice on-air) to a 40 second script and clip (not my voice).

However, I did it, despite my voicer's awesomeness. Then I was told to run around campus, LITERALLY, to find information regarding a story.

I walked around campus in circles, for about 2 hours, and found nothing. Then, I ran back to the studio, edited my clips AND wrote my story in record time. Only for it to get slimmed down ... again.

Then, after the noon newscast, I was told to run around campus YET AGAIN and find student reactions ASAP. I couldn't even have lunch!!!!

So, I ran around and interviewed students for another 2.5 hours, ran back to the studio, wrote my script and edited my clips (with the help of my audio editor).

At 3 p.m., I was finally allowed to have lunch, which consisted of a solitary muffin.

I then got to read the news with a friend of mine, which was fun.

We did a great job :)

And, ready for the worst part of that day??

My recorder, the single most important tool in the journalists tool kit BROKE.
The tiny little LCD screen broke, because it was in my pocket and I accidentally hit a table.

And then my microphone stopped working!

Both the recorder and my microphone are VITALLY IMPORTANT for radio!!!!!

Luckily, I was able to borrow other people's equipment, but it was very annoying.

And now, I have to purchase a new recorder (as the warranty doesn't cover my accidentally banging it into the corner of a table) and possibly a new microphone (as I forgot the receipt back in Ottawa, and I don't know if the warranty covers acts of god).

And after all that, my initial story which I worked on for days before, never even got to air.

I don't believe in superstitions or anything like that, but let's just leave it with that it was not a good day.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Animal FUN!!!!

Animals keep me sane.

I love learning about them, and I tend to remember the oddest stuff about them.

For example, I know that a giraffe's tongue is so long that it can lick the inside of its own ears.

Or, that the Tuatara lizard has three eyes, with one on top of its head.

Here are three stories that I like, that keep me sane, have some humour in them and are informative :)

How about some of the world's weirdest animal mating rituals?

Or, the most HORRIFYING bugs in the world?

And lastly, read about the six 'adorable' animals that COULD kill you?


Oh, and this pic makes me laugh.

Thisis how an Armadillo lizard protects itself :)


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Friday, February 6, 2009

"It's like the sound of chewing a mouthful of chicken bones!"

I thought, ladies and gentlemen, that my life would improve after I survived the a fore mentioned "Hell week" in my previous post Radio and Xanadu.

Little did I know the wonders that were in store for me this week.

While I did not have nearly as many assignments as last week, my role in radio was kicked up a notch.

As one of the editors, we had to create a current affairs style show, and I was delegated the task of creating a four to five minute documentary. The documentary HAD to be recorded Thursday night. Not too difficult, right?


Firstly, the subject of the documentary changed immensely from Saturday to Tuesday. It changed from a story about cold energy to winter events to unique winter activities to other winter activities.

Basically, after class on Tuesday, my co-producer and I spent an enormous amount of time making calls about different winter activities. Everything from curling to snowshoeing to Quinzhee's (an igloo-like structure made only out of snow).

We set up interviews for all of them for Wednesday.

On Wednesday, after something which will be the topic of my NEXT blog entry (Teaser: It involves one of the girls from my blog post: Two girls, a guy and a shot in the arm), we got told that the subject of the doc was going to be narrowed to ONLY snowshoeing.

It was not a good few moments when we realized that most of our work was all for not.

However, our saving grace came in the form of three of the other editors involved in the project. They know who they are.

Without them, the documentary never would have been finished.

Two of the editors went out in the freezing cold on Wednesday to get snowshoer interviews, but got nothing.

On Thursday, two of the three editors went out and got interviews with snowshoers AND a museum curator at the Museum of Civilization, as well as some kick-ass sound.

While the other editor helped out with the other components of the show.

Meanwhile, I procured an interview with a real-life, honest to goodness, snowshoe scientist ... seriously.

And my co-producer interview a manager of a store that sold snowshoes.

After that, we spent hours editing the clips, transcribing interviews and writing the documentary script.

When we investigated the sound during editing, the sound of snowshoeing was amazingly vivid. When I first heard the *CRUNCH, CRUNCH, SNAP, CRUNCH* of the snowshoes, I blurted out the title of this blog.

I got to record the script, and the following conversations occurred during a conference in how it should be read:

Senior Editor - SMILE when you read!
Me - I do smile

Other Senior Editor - Tell it like you are telling a friend the story!
Me - I thought I was

Audio Editor - Sound more enthusiastic!
Me - I'm trying, but I've been living and breathing this documentary for almost an entire week. The only thing I am enthusiastic about now is to go home and eat some non-fast food.
Audio Editor - (LAUGHS) Then FAKE IT!
Me - Well, I did used to act ....

I recorded it and it sounded really good. It's quite a cool (pun intended) feeling to hear yourself on the radio.

That being said, I am quite confident that I have learned almost everything there is possible to know about snowshoes and snowshoeing. However, I now really want to do it again, as the last time I did was many, many years ago.

It was an nerve wracking experience that consumed my life for many days, but, we did an excellent job.

As my co-producer put it, "If there were short student radio documentary Oscars ... we'd so win."

To those who helped piece it together, I raise my glass to you. You have my thanks and appreciation.

Even with all the stress that radio has done to me, I gotta admit ... I liked some of it.

It seems that I have a knack for copy editing. I can type fairly quickly, read at an incredibly fast rate and be organized in my head of all the things that need to be done.

I liked being the person in charge of all the scripts, the layouts, the format, editing them, re-working them, working with the reporters on them and having my say be the final one.

It made me passively consider that maybe this could be an avenue for me ... a copy editor. Good thing about those, is that they are needed in print, radio AND television. Horray for a slightly increased job market!

To end this post, I cannot put it better than another one of the bloggers from our J-school class, Take Your Blazer and Get Out, when she titled one of her entries, "You win, radio."

So: You win, radio.

By the way, THIS is my new J-School theme song.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Radio and ... Xanadu?

Well, THAT was an interesting week, let me tell you.

As many university students know, every now and then, there is a week where the stars and planets align, where everything just comes together. You know the ones. Where it seems professors meet in dark rooms and plan assignment due dates together to screw with the students.

It is know, rather affectionately, as HELL WEEK.

Two things of note happened.

We had to create a radio broadcast on Friday, and I already had one piece done, and an interview later. I was a same-day reporter, so my job was to report on things happening THAT day. So, I decided to go to school a little early before my interview, so that I could leave my bag and stuff among my fellow MJs.

I was told that I should not go to my interview, and that I should await the aftermath of a story meeting.

When the editor came out, she told me that my original idea was scrapped and that I will pursue a new angle with another reporter. Our story was school/student reactions to the end of the bus strike. We ran around so much in crappy weather, and proceeded to get directed in circles by the administration.

But, it all came together and we ended up creating 3 pretty good radio segments based on our stuff. And, I must admit, she was a great person to work with. And, kudos go to her, because it wasn't even her job for the day! She already had something done about the strike, but since it was over, her piece wasn't 'relevant' anymore.

Being a same-day reporter was hectic, and not as fun as others who got to cover city hall and do live call-ins, but it was definitely a learning experience.

Now, the second interesting thing.

We had to write a business story this week, and proceeded to pursue a story about Wal-Mart. However, they gave me the run-around and couldn't help me because i was a student.

Stupid Wal-Mart.

Anyway, I made a bunch of calls to management anyway, and none were returned, until ...

*Phone rings*
Me - Hello?
Voice - Is this David? The reporter?
Me - Ummm, who is asking?
Voice - I work for Wal-Mart, I'm in upper management.
Me - GREAT! Can you say and spell your name for the record please?
Voice - No can do.
Me - Huh?.
Voice - No siree bob howdy.
Me - Zuh?
Voice - You may call me ... Xanadu.
Me - You mean like the movie/song?
Voice - I have it on my iPod, and I am listening to it on my iTunes. I happen to like it. Do you have a problem with Xanadu? Because we can end this right now, you ungrateful *expletive deleted* stupid *expletive deleted* lobster!!
Me - No ... no problem. So, how can I help you ... Xanadu?
Voice - I'll get fired for speaking with you, so I need to be an anonymous source
Me - *DANGER! DANGER! Anonymous sources are bad!*
Me - Ummmm, We're really not supposed to do this
Voice - You got enough for your story?
Me - Well, ye ... no, not particularly
Voice - Then shaddup! Here's what I'll tell you ...

And then, Xanadu, told me a bit about Wal-Mart. Which, to be honest, wasn't all that ground breaking. But still, a confidential source ... pretty cool, eh?

By the way, according to Wikipedia, Xanadu stars: "Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck, and Gene Kelly, and features music by Newton-John, Electric Light Orchestra, Cliff Richard, and The Tubes. The film also features animation by Don Bluth".

Apparently, it is about a girl, played by Newton-John, who can make dreams come true.

As if it didn't sound ridiculous enough, here is the plot according to imdb.com. I'll let you judge it for yourselves ;)

"The Greek muses incarnate themselves on Earth to inspire men to achieve. One of them, incarnated as a girl named Kira, encounters an artist named Sonny Malone. With the help of Danny McGuire, a man Kira had inspired forty years earlier, Sonny builds a huge disco roller rink."

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