Tuesday, February 24, 2009

EEK! My story of mice and men

As a student living in my own apartment, I deal with rodents--mice in particular. When my roommate and I first moved in we were at a total loss on how to deal with the critters. This is the point that I come to with my first multi-media project. I want to present a how-to feature on removing mice from a residence. I think to be fair I should include both humane and traditional ways to remove mice.

  1. I found a few local pest removal experts from the phone book and I am currently contacting them to see if I can interview and shadow them.
  2. Sandra Clausen- My roommate. She is the one who handles the "disposal" of the mice.
  3. Timothy Dadourian- A junior TU student who deals with mice problems in his home.
  4. I want to go to the Off Campus Housing Fair tomorrow (2/25) at TU. While there, I want to get the contact information for apartments in the area. I will also ask representatives there about mouse issues and how their complex/ residents handle rodents.
  5. I am looking for other students who live on their own who have mice. If you know of anyone, please leave a comment and I will be glad to get in touch with them.
  6. Myself- Since I live with mice, I am a good source. I usually try not to include myself in the story but if putting myself in will advance the story that much more, why not?

Photo Possibilities:

  1. If I shadow the pest control specialist, I could get shots of them setting a trap or removing one.
  2. I know it will be a hard one to capture but I would like to get a live shot of a mouse.
  3. I could get the reactions of students after they have seen a mouse.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Pleasure Really is in the Pain!

(Photo courtesy of Google Images/ Compiled on February 23, 2009 By Amber Gillette)

While searching online at the Washington Post, I found many articles did follow "The Wall Street Journal Formula." It is suprising because I didn't think so many follow this format in putting together a more creative feature news piece.

One article that I found to be a particularly good example of the format was published on February 18, 2009. Andreas Viestad's article, "The Pleasure is in the Pain," presents the reasoning for why people love to eat spicy food, even though it brings can bring us to our knees.

Reasons why this article follows "The Wall Street Journal Formula":

  • The article begins with Viestad telling readers that a lot of people eat hot foods no matter what their personal tastes tend to be. The author also tells about the history behind the pepper. She begins to discuss the different tastes of different peppers.

  • In the nut graf, Viestad talks about her own experiences with pepper spray. She also talks about how with the pain can actually bring pleasure through the release of endorphins.

  • A few facts used to support the story are: a personality study published in 2008, a sensory study done in Naples, Italy and the use of capsaicin as a topical cream.

  • The article concludes with a story about what "Piri-piri" means in Swahili. The story brings humor to the idea of not being able to breath after taking a "pepper pepper."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Put out the 'Welcome' mat: Your furry friends are here.

“There’s Oliver!” said Towson University junior Timothy Dadourian as he watched a tiny, furry field mouse scurry across his apartment living room.

Since he moved out on his own to finish his under graduate degree last year, Dadourian, like thousands of college students across the nation, has made many new friends. Some of them even happen to have whiskers, claws and a reputation for scaring little girls.

“The problem is that the buildings are old and the mice are in the walls,” says Towson senior Sandra Clausen. A commuter student from Baltimore City, Clausen also deals with mice in her apartment. She found that she sees more mice during the winter when it’s cold outside.

“I put out glue traps with peanut butter to catch the mice. It works a lot of the time,” said Dadourian about how he remedies his mouse troubles. Other solutions include ultra sonic wave producers. The tiny device plugs into any regular wall outlet and emits a sound that when the mouse comes near, it creates an uncomfortable loud buzz in their ears. If you think you might have mice in your apartment, there are some very simple solutions that a stop to the local home improvement store will fix.

While many apartment buildings in the Towson area are a shelter for all sorts of creatures, humans are less likely to embrace mice into their homes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Don't mess with the Jazz!

In high school, when I first learned about journalism, my teacher taught me about feature stories and what makes them different from news in a way that I will never forget. He said a feature story is like jazz music. It is smooth and beautiful. It tells a story unlike a news article would. In teaching me about a feature lead, he told my class that it is more artistic and free-forming (when compared to a summary lead). The feature lead can ask a question or tell a story while a summary lead must get straight to the point of the important information. A feature lead, like jazz, has the freedom to move around and eventually make its point.

My first example of a feature lead came from "The Washington Post" on Sunday, February, 15, 2009. Headlined, "Coloring Perception" author Blake Gopnik, a Washington Post staff writer, begins his story with the following lead:

CHICAGO -- Can an artist get much more successful than Kerry James Marshall? Museums everywhere own his work. (The Corcoran was one of his first buyers. And the Baltimore Museum of Art is displaying his "Ladder of Success," a recent purchase.) In 1997, he won the $500,000 MacArthur "genius" award, an ultra-prestigious invitation to Germany's twice-a-decade Documenta show and a place in the Whitney Museum's biennial.

Gopnik begins his feature story with question. The book suggests that it is almost never necessary to use a question lead because as a reporter you should be giving information not quizzing the reader. However, I think in the case of this story the lead works. When I first read the lead, I asked myself why I didn't know who he was. I think this was the authors main intention to pull in the reader.

My second lead came from "The Washington Post" on Monday, February 16, 2009. Headlined, "Venice Dresses Up for Carnevale" author Mathias Wildt wrote the following lead:

On a foggy February morning a few years ago, my wife and I were walking down an alley in Venice when we turned a corner and were confronted by an amazing sight: a procession of 30 human figures seeming to glide on the stone pavement in complete silence, like aliens.

This is a good example of an anecdotal feature lead. In this case, the lead works well as the author tells a story about his own experience at Carnevale, a huge celebration.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I don't mean to put a wrench in your plan...but, isn't there a better way?

I found the first article about living on your own in the Pokono Record from April 2008. Written by the Carey Brothers, the article took a different look at giving tips to young people about to move out on their own. The article focused on solving common household issues like stopping a leaky toilet which “can be the cause of many a night sleep and a shameful waste of water.” I found the article interesting because it looks from the perspective of how to fix things when they break. Many of the issues they bring up are simple to fix but could cost a young person hundreds of dollars to have a professional complete. In this sense, the Carey brothers not only help the young person to live independently but to keep money in their pockets during our current recession.

I do agree with the writers that the perspective of house maintenance is extremely important to living on your own for the first time. While my blog does not cover this topic at this point, it would be interesting to interview a plumber or an electrician to get their simple fixes for problems. I would also be interested in making a how to video for viewers so they could see exactly what they need to do. One part of the article I did not agree with was the ending (or lack thereof). The article came to its final point and simply ended with no warning to the reader. I half expected to find a second page or a continuation of some sort. If I could add anything to the article, I would explain what each tool does so that the reader knows why they are carrying around a shiny red toolbox.
The second article I found was from Ezinearticles.com, a database of ezine articles that are shared amongst a community of writers. This article, written by Steve C. Boulden, discusses some of the hidden traps that come with living on your own at college. Boulden’s main points are to choose your friends wisely, save your money, and take care of your body’s health. He brings up the issue of choosing college friends and how the wrong friend can spell disaster for a student’s grades because suddenly they are not studying as they should, skipping class and failing exams. This is a good point because I don’t believe many students do realize the impact their friendships have on school. Boulden’s article, while short, provides insightful information and tips that might be helpful to college students.

In general, I agree with the points that Boulden brings up. He maintains that you can be friends with anyone you want and spend money as you wish as long as you keep your eyes on the proverbial prize and learn to control urges to spend excessively and outside of your budget. In no way does the author limit the student but rather warns of the consequence that could come from not taking care of your self from all aspects. To add to this story, I would probably interview a few students to get their perspective on how they manage these issues. I would also open up a forum for readers to comment and suggest their own tips to success in school and in their social life.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Journey with me as we enter this Brave New World

The hardest thing for a young person (and their parents too) is to make the move out onto their own whether it be to go to college or just to spread their wings. When some students go to college, lets face it, they get a sort of restricted practice run of truly living on their own. I do give these students kudos because they do in some respects have to balance a budget and time but they never have to go beyond this point. Their meals are generally chosen for them and they don't have to worry about getting to campus early to find parking. A fact I will readily admit is that eventually everyone will have to live on their own. This blog is created for the individual whom is interested in learning more about living on their own or for the person who is making plans to move. My blog beat, called, "Brave New World" is for all the people out there just like me who need the information gathered together. It would have been so much easier had I had a resource that told me how to select a roommate, create and maintain a budget and how to resolve issues involving the community, housemates and school.

One year ago, I moved away from home. For the first time in my life the decisions made had real consequences. The choices I made influenced not only my own life but my roommate's life as well. We spent six months making plans and figuring out how to start out away from home. All of what we learned came from advice from family, friends and not uncommonly, the Internet. We took from all these sources a mish-mash of information others have used and together we found the things we needed and even some things we didn't know we would need (like spatulas and extension cords). The planning we did over the months before move-in day truly helped to relieve some of the stress (although stress is inevitable).