Thursday, February 5, 2009

First Day on Capitol Hill

I was in a frenzy Wednesday afternoon as I stared at the ugly boot stuck on my car and glanced at my phone that was letting me know I had 15 minutes to get up to Capitol Hill. 

This was my first day at the Capitol. Despite nearly 3 years reporting student and local news, I have never needed to drive up there and write about a Legislative issue. 25 minutes later I had parked and was wandering around trying to find the House building. It only took 2 people with instructions and an extra 50 feet of walking before I headed downstairs to room W020.

There was a half-oval shaped table with multiple representatives relaxed in seats, and rows of chairs where people in collared shirts and ties were already propping open laptops and texting on blackberries. I passed by 15 people and found a seat in the second row, got out my notepad and pen, and prepared to listen to budget announcements about the Utah Science and Technology Research initiative.

The Higher Education Appropriations Committee meeting delayed USTAR news for the Salt Lake Community College president to speak. Then Ted McAleer, the executive director, went up to the microphone and sat down. 

He said that USTAR was right on schedule, ahead if anything, and plans to start construction on their new building at the end of April. Last week, legislators had said construction on the building would have to be delayed with budget cuts and the struggling economy. 

McAleer instead proclaimed that the program had brought in plenty of researchers, who were already starting businesses, developing research and opening coffers around the U.S. to fund research at the University of Utah.

Despite my prediction that the meeting would be more boring than watching an episode of Barney, I was extremely interested, if not confused, by the budget numbers presented in multiple slideshows. 

And the Representatives, very talkative and interested in the program. I eventually found my way out of there after about an hour and walked up to my now-bootless car.

First day on Capitol Hill...I survived.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama as President: What next?

Barack Obama made history Nov. 4 when Sen. John McCain conceded his defeat from the presidential race and Obama accepted the position as leader of the United States.

Millions around the world cheered as Obama surfaced past the hatred and racial divide to accept the presidency. African-Americans fought for hundreds of years for freedom and equality, of which they still don't completely have. Yet, the same people that persecuted African-Americans and fought wars to keep men at the beck and call of others based on their skin color, elected an African-American man as president.

In my house, which is primarily conservative, I am the only person who voted for Obama. My roommates were against him, not because of the color of his skin, but because of the issues he stood for and the promises he made.

Those very reasons are the ones that made me vote for him. The color of his skin had nothing to do with it. And I believe, had nothing to do with his election to presidency. 

It is true that statistics show more African-Americans, women and minorities voted for President-elect Obama, but I think his promise to take us out of Iraq and save our country from economic downfall led to his election.

He has selected a heavy burden for himself, one I would not wish on my greatest enemy.


His failure would make bigots around the world blame his race. It would make conservatives laugh and say they knew it all along. And it would place the United States in worse straights.

Economists use statistics to show that the economy is better when a Democrat controls the White House.

I find it interesting that after 8 years of President George W. Bush pushing our country deeper into debt with this war, Wall Street suddenly plunges. We all wish low gas prices were an indication the situation was getting better, but I think we will only see change after another year or two.

Obama has promised to take us out of this war. I have a friend who had been in Iraq for almost a year. A friend who thankfully returned from the war zone unscathed, but unfortunately, not without memories. There are husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, friends and other family members serving in the military and overseas. My cousin and her new husband are in the Navy. They recently had a baby. What happens if something harms either of them?

I am not unpatriotic. I do not spouse anti-American beliefs. However, there is a difference between protecting our country and antagonizing a situation. Forget 'Remember the Alamo', do you remember Vietnam? I wasn't alive, but I remember the tales, the history and the protests. Most of all, I remember the numbers. According to records, more than 58,000 Americans were killed. Let's not even get into how many Vietnamese died in those battles.

I'm not trying to compare the War in Iraq with the Vietnam War. But consider it.
My uncle is in the military. It is his daughter that recently had a child. Every time he goes overseas, I consider that he is endangering his life for all of us. I also think that he shouldn't have to. A strong offense is a strong defense.

Obama, the American people picked you as the 57th President of the United States. Republicans and Democrats and everyone else want you to lead us through these indecisive times. 

We will be watching.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Capecchi Inspires Students

Mario Capecchi, the University of Utah's first (and probably only) Nobel Prize winner for Medicine and Physiology, spoke at a kick off event Wednesday night. The Diversity Office asked Capecchi if he wanted to speak and Capecchi, despite his busy schedule, shuffled things around to talk about how diverse students from across the nation should be interested in science and study at the U.

The students were in town because of a national conference hosted by the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. Instead of treating this as an ordinary convention at the Salt Palace downtown, the U's Diversity Office brought more than 250 students from Puerto Rico, California and other places up to the Rice Eccles Towers, part of the Stadium, and introduced them to cultural performers from Salt Lake City.

Capecchi was brilliant, both funny and insightful. He really seemed to be encouraging U students and focused as well on the recent market crash and how researchers are constantly struggling to get funding.

He focused his keynote address on how resources at the U helped him achieve his Nobel Prize last year. He really connected with students by telling them his own first experiences in America.

Background information on Capecchi:
He grew up in Italy during World War II. While his mother was in prison as a protester, Capecchi wondered through the streets of Italy and through orphanages before his mother found him a few years later.

He came to the United States and lived with his mother, aunt and uncle before attending a Quaker school and later studying at Harvard University. He was beginning research and teaching responsibilities at Harvard when a U professor convinced him to move to Utah and study at the U.

About 20 years later, Capecchi has published numerous studies on 'knock-out' mice technology, which allows for researchers to grow animal models with certain diseases or traits to study from early on.

Parts of Capecchi's speech:

"I had no education up to that point. I was an Italian, and I was considered to be stupid because I couldn't speak English. I couldn't read or write English.
My teacher constantly told my aunt and uncle that I wasn't college material. 
by 7th and 8th grade, I was becoming academically advanced. 


The other message...let me talk about the actual nature of science itself. What I was working on today was pretty different that what I was working on five years ago; learning new things, more of the problems we see are a result of science.

Anyone can win a Nobel Prize, and in this room I hope there's more Nobel Prizes.

(Capecchi's discussion of later school)

It's wonderful to see so many people of different colors in one room. You have no idea how happy that makes me.

I was inspired to science. The prep school, a Quaker school I went to, we were being indoctrinated to solve the world's problems.

I went into political science and realized that political science had nothing to do with science, so I switched to physics.

I was at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) at the time when molecular biology was just beginning.


Students who attended were very interested in what Capecchi said. Tim Bauer from a college in California and Peter Melendez from a university in Texas were both studying a form of science and felt inspired by Capecchi's speech.

"If I were a biology major I would totally be signing up for Utah," Bauer said.

Why is this important?

Minority students are literally that, a minority. Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanic and other ethnic groups are small at the U. The numbers of minorities who are graduate students in fields of science is very limited at the U.

Professors and deans and department chairs showed up to the kick-off event trying to encourage these undergraduate students to study at the U.

In further encouragement, the Office of Diversity brought ethnic performers into the Eccles Towers to give students a taste of culture in Utah.

The photographer who was with me had to leave before Capecchi's lecture was over, and missed the performers. I felt so bad for the photographer, Anna Kartashova, because the performers were amazing and I know she would have loved taking photos of it.

-There was a kid's group from Jackson Elementary that danced traditional Hispanic dances to music, twirling skirts and waving sombreros. 
-Next followed a Hawaiian hoop dancer in traditional dress. He is apparently the world champion.
-And last but not least was some dancers from the Pacific Islanders Student Association. One of the dancers startled me when I was trying to take some pictures. He came up and stuck out his tongue and shouted loudly. All the dancers were amazing, but this one dancer's photo turned out surprisingly well. The rest were blurry. 

Hope you all enjoyed this. If you want other information about the event or Mario Capecchi, check out

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vice-Presidential Debate: David vs. Goliath

This is the debate of a life time, better than John McCain versus Barack Obama. Better than John Kerry versus George Bush. Better than Snickers versus Musketeers.

Palin's two years of experience as governor will go up against Biden's multiple years of senatorial experience...I have my doubts about David's success in this case.

Recap on Palin: She was a mayor for eight years before acting as chairman of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. She was elected governor of Alaska in 2006. Her work on building bridges in Alaska and improving the budget is noted, but the controversy over her reasons to fire Police Chief Walter Monegan is disputable. Some of her most well known political views include anti-abortion, right to bear arms (gun safety as well ironically enough), capital punishment and is strongly against same-sex marriage. Her foreign policy is...very questionable. I'm really trying not to laugh at Mrs. McCain's comments...borders Canada and Russia my foot. She's the rightest of the right wings.

Recap on Biden: He's been a senator for about 36 years. His efforts on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations have shone, especially with his advocacy of combatting hostilities in the Balkans. He has run for president twice, and accepted the vice presidential running position despite previous comments that he wouldn't. His work on crime resulted in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which is known as the Biden Crime Law. He may not always agree with Obama, but he offers strong observations and has multiple years of experience. He's not the leftist of lefts, but he holds his own.


Palin came into the debate and surprised multiple people, Republicans and Democrats alike. I wrote an article for the Standard Examiner stating that many women in Utah were excited by the positive attitude she exhibited and the way she countered Biden's comments with force and respected disagreement.

Instead of showing her inexperience, she showed Americans that she had knowledge about the War in Iraq, other foreign policy issues, the economic catastrophe, energy issues people are concerned with and even former policies of Biden. She tried to be professional in her disagreements with Biden, and looked him straight in the eye on multiple occasions.

Nonetheless, she exposed a weak point in her economic policy, which Biden quickly used to his advantage. She supported Sen. John McCain R-Ariz.'s health system policy to set aside money for the people to use, but wasn't able to explain herself or fight back against Biden's argument that the policy would drown people in debt instead of help them.

My knowledge on economic policy is not strong, but on such an important issue that the polls are proclaiming Obama's advantage, Palin needed more to keep her argument that McCain would bring the American people forward standing.

I've tried to be fair and not be biased in my view of the debate. But one obvious point was Palin's argument was repetitive. She used the same reasonings over again, which worked to convince many of her background knowledge, but didn't work out very well. She tried to make up for it, but you could tell she was a tank fish out in the ocean...lost and in much bigger waters than she was used to. In another 20 years, she could have a good deal more experience, but for now...Biden had years of advantage...and clearly made use of it.

When both candidates discussed the best way to handle talks with American "enemies", they each had different view points, but surprisingly, seemed to reach a middle ground. Palin wavered between meeting with the Castro brothers and other malcontent political "dictators" as she put it, and not meeting with them at all. She said it was only responsible to have standards set ahead of time.

Biden seemed to win that round in my book however. A policy that gives the other party the idea that America can only meet with them under certain conditions, ones that are most likely insulting and assume American importance, is foolhardy. Biden is right, we need to meet with them. The George W. Bush administration would be better off with stronger foreign policy.

As one woman I interviewed Thursday night, Jan Zogmaister, said, Biden and Palin seemed to agree that the middle class needed to be taxed less, which I entirely agree with. They argued that their opponents actually did the opposite, but neither would admit anything less than middle class support as the best proactive economic solution.

I was able to talk to Jan, Pat Iannone, Ava Painter and Suzanne Ferre Thursday. They gave me varied opinion about the debate, all saying that Palin did an amazing job in holding her own against a senator with so much experience.

I did wish the debate had brought more up about same-sex marriage and abortion. The candidates mentioned same-sex, and both seemed to agree that although marriage isn't supported, hospital visitation and property rights are absolutely necessary for same-sex couples.

As to abortion, neither candidate discussed the topic, but Suzanne Ferre did mention it to me Thursday. Her comments weren't able to run in my story that ran in the Standard Examiner Friday, but I want to post them here. This includes all the things she said, plus a few things I paraphrased. Her points were valid and very intelligent.

"I thought both of them did much better, and were more civil than I thought they would be. We're so used to so much mud slinging. They did a good job on defending their running mates.

Joe Biden, I thought one of the best things he did was appear more humanistic when he shared his personal life.
(Note - here's what I recorded of what Biden said on his personal life after he listened to what Palin said about being a mother and dealing with issues the average middle class family deals with day to day:
"I understand what it's like to be a parent," Biden said. Biden lost his wife when his two sons were young and discussed what it was like raising them and maintaining his job. He was an only parent for at least two years, a hardship that many people go through every day.
Biden said he lives in a nice house now but knew what it was like to struggle and not see his kids as often, or move for work.

Back to Suzanne:
I appreciate Joe Biden for sharing that.

Sarah Palin talking about her situation and being the mother. I think so many politicians, they're not living like the rest of us here.

Overall, I think a lot of people were thinking, Joe Biden, because he was such an experienced speaker there is going to be a big gulf here, he is going to pin her down. He didn't.

She came on strong, she has folksy way to talk. I think she does an excellent job in speaking to Americans and kept pulling the debate. I thought he might swallow her. She carried on.

I was very pleased with her performance. She's an entirely different politician than Joe Biden, but her message remains clear.

Also, they both, in their own ways, were talking about the very same issues. Both for the middle class. That's our focus, at least, at this point in the campaign. The McCain/Palin ticket is saying: we're for the middle class. Joe Biden is saying, hey, we're for the middle class too.

It's interesting on the Biden/Obama ticket, Biden has all the experience and Obama is the maverick...McCain has all this experience and Palin comes in with this new outlook.

I'm in her corner based on the principles of the Republican platform. One of them, her keeping that baby and standing up against abortion. I thought was courageous. I'm strongly pro-life. She made a choice that I thought speaks of her character.

Suzanne asked me about my opinion on the debate and we chatted for a while. She was very insightful and gave me a lot of interesting information.

I sat down and listened to the debate, expecting to see Biden crush Palin. I was very surprised. I still, personally, believe that Biden had some better points he brought up, and had more experience. I trust him as vice president more than Palin. Nonetheless, Palin is not the disaster I originally thought she would be.

She is a smart woman, and her experience on oil committees would be an asset to the United States. I'm not sure how I feel about the way she argued with Biden. She undermined him in what seemed to be a respectable way by often implying that she thought Biden was wrong in switching his ideas, without any proof he did this.

I would like proof on the accuracy. I respect Biden for not bringing up her lack of experience or implying that she may or may not be cut out to be vice president. It's something that ran through a lot of people's minds, and I'm impressed it didn't come up.

I'm going to try to post more blogs about stories I've written. Please let me know what you think everyone!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I see accidents, and anger, and cruelty every time I'm at work. I'm searching for the latest misdemeanor, or the guy who fell off his bike cruising down Interstate 15. 

I went to a vigil a few weeks ago for a 16-year-old girl in a car accident. I went there as a reporter trying to learn as much about her and the accident to write a great story. But what I found upon arrival was crying relatives and friends who remembered this girl and were at a loss to understand why she was taken from them. Her friends and she had gone out 'duck hunting', and on the way back their car was crashed in by a truck.

Truck vs. car... that never turns out well for the car. She was trapped in the back of the car, stuck there for hours. She died on scene, just a few months short of her 17th birthday.

What a tragic way to die...

I stood there in shorts, listening to her friends remember this girl who liked to skip class, stay out with friends, and always had a funny comment to add. Some remembered how she wanted to be away from her house, and how her driving skills were not in good graces. They remembered how she was positive and sweet. One girl I talked to broke off mid speech and started bawling, as if she suddenly realized what had happened, as if the tragedy had not quite kicked in, but then took her with surprise.

I left there with about 40 mosquito bites, and a lot of information. Not just for my story, but knowledge that life is short. Yeah, we overuse that phrase a lot, but we also waste our time a lot. I sit here blogging on this site, when I should be out living. Hanging out with friends, and enjoying life. We're given a beautiful gift to live... don't waste it in regret or questions or misery.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sunscreen is my new companion...

Hey Hey Everyone!

I am sitting in the basement of my Salt Lake house on my first day off with no plans in ages. Such a nice change. I should be calling up every single one of you to find out what you're up to, but for today I'm going to be a slacker and relax! Such a lovely prospect!

I want to give props to Stephanie Meyer's book, Breaking Dawn. Wicked Awesome! I can honestly say I enjoyed reading it. Not a great work of fiction, but nonetheless, pretty darn good! And ahem, I'd like to add that Jacob is good. Haha.

I also want to say how much in love with camping I am right now! I went hiking so much this weekend and enjoyed every camera-and-sun-filled second of it. I am slightly burned right now, but it was tres worth it!

I hope everyone is having just as great a summer as I am! If you're not enjoying it, find out why and make some adjustments. Work does boggle the mind and body down, but there's always a moment for joy!

To quote the title of an Avenged Sevenfold song and Newsies Musical song, "Seize the Day" and you won't regret it!

Love you all and hope you're having the best day ever! If not...hope something makes your day shine! Honk if you respect sunscreen! Haha.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Is Home the only place the Heart can reside??

Sticky notes are cluttering the sides of the PC computer. Papers are flung everywhere in a mismatched frame of confusion. Notebooks and pens haphazardly take up space around the desk. This is bliss.
The peace and comfort of clutter and confusion rocketing me to happy days and joyful memories. Everywhere I go I feel the comfort of messy things that fill my life.
Today was an interesting day of tracking down records and following up on a story involving illegal subdivisions of property in Box Elder County. I really feel like I'm beginning to understand the complexities of Northern Utah...not. =)
Who could comprehend anything that isn't city-life? Personally, I think either life would be filled with joy, but Northern Utah is a place without constant internet updates and people who try to cheat you left and right.
Happiness is where you want it to be. With the right frame of mind, you can be happy anywhere you choose.