Sunday, May 1, 2011

Be Green! Save Energy, Save Money, Save the Environment.

  • Change to Fluorescent Bulbs - If every house in the United States changed all of the light bulbs in their house, that would be equivalent to taking one million cars off the streets.
  • Don't Rinse - Skip rinsing your plates before putting them into the dishwasher. In average you will save 15 gallons of water per load. Plus, you will save time.
  • Hang Outside to Dry - Get a cloths line or rack to dry your cloths. Your cloths will last longer and you will save money
  • Turn off computers at night - don't just put them to sleep. You will save an average of 4 cents a day which ads up to $14.60 a year.
  • Use Both Sides of Paper - if you have a printer with a double sided print option use it. You will save half of the amount of paper you would have normally used. Then when your done bring it to the recycle bin.
  • Get rid of baths - Don't take baths, take showers. You will in average save about half the amount of water that you would if you were taking a bath.
  • Don't get bottled water - Instead of bottled water get a reusable container to carry water. Also you can get a filter to make your home tap taste more like bottled water. It is definitely more cost efficient.
  • Turn the water off when you brush - Your parents have said this before, now I say it. You will save 4 gallons of water doing this alone.
  • Shorten your shower - Every minute you cut from your shower is roughly 5 gallons of water. The less time your shower takes, the lower your impact on the environment.
  • Recycle Glass - If you do not recycle this, it will take a million years to decompose.
  • Don't Pre-Heat the Oven - unless needed, just turn the oven on after you put the dish in it. Also, to see if it's finished just look through the glass instead of opening it.
  • Use Warm or Cold Setting on Washer - instead of the hot cycle use the warm or cold setting. This will save a lot of energy a year.
  • Turn Down your Thermostat - Every degree lower in the winter or higher in the summer you put it is a 10% decrease on your energy bill.
  • Turn off your lights - An easy one. Turn off your lights when you are not using them. The benefits are obvious.
  • Get rid of junk mail - There are many services that can help you get rid of junk mail. That will lead to a lot less trees being cut down to take up room in your mailbox.
  • Use Matches instead of lighters - Lighters are usually considered disposable so they will most likely end up in land fills. You can use the cardboard matches which are much more eco-friendly because they are made of recycled material.
  • Don't get a paper phone book - Instead of getting a paper phone book. Use a online directory instead.
  • Give things away - Take things that you are not going to wear or use and give it to a charity or someone who will use it.
  • Go to a car wash - Going to a car wash is a lot more water efficient then washing your car at home.
  • Stop paper bank statements - Why waste paper getting your bank statement mailed to you when you can just check it out online.
  • Buy Rechargeable Batteries - Even though it will take a good investment to buy these you will find yourself gaining it back in no time.
  • Pay your Bills Online - If every house in the US did this then we would save 18 million trees every year.
  • Get a reusable bag - You can't recycle plastic bags, instead get yourself a reusable bag so that you won't have to worry about carrying your necessities.
  • Do Errands in Bulk - Make a list of the things you have to do, and see if you can fit a couple of those things together in one ride.
  • Inflate your Tires - If your tires are inflated at all times your car will run more miles on less gas.
  • Wrap Presents Creatively - Without going out to get wrapping paper you can use newspaper, an old map, or anything else. It would look a whole lot more creative.
  • Plant a Tree - It's good for the air, can keep you cool, and can increase your property value.
  • Buy Local Produce - Consider how much energy it takes for produce from china or any other country to come here. If you have the option to buy local, do it.
  • Walk or Ride Your Bike When you can - If you have to go somewhere close consider riding your bike or walking there instead of your car. It's better on the environment and healthier.

Great website.

Thirty Gas Saving Tips
1. Avoid prolonged warming up of engine, even on cold mornings - 30 to 45 seconds is plenty of time.
2. Be sure the automatic choke is disengaged after engine warm up... chokes often get stuck, resulting in bad gas/air mixture.
3. Don't start and stop engine needlessly. Idling your engine for one minute consumes the gas amount equivalent to when you start the engine.
4. Avoid "reving" the engine, especially just before you switch the engine off; this wastes fuel needlessly and washes oil down from the inside cylinder walls, owing to loss of oil pressure.
5. Eliminate jack-rabbit starts. Accelerate slowly when starting from dead stop. Don't push pedal down more than 1/4 of the total foot travel. This allows carburetor to function at peak efficiency.

6. Buy gasoline during coolest time of day - early morning or late evening is best. During these times gasoline is densest. Keep in mind - gas pumps measure volumes of gasoline, not densities of fuel concentration. You are charged according to "volume of measurement".
7. Choose type and brand of gasoline carefully. Certain brands provide you with greater economy because of better quality. Use the brands which "seem" most beneficial.
8. Avoid filling gas tank to top. Overfilling results in sloshing over and out of tank. Never fill gas tank past the first "click" of fuel nozzle, if nozzle is automatic.

9. Exceeding 40 mph forces your auto to overcome tremendous wind resistance.
10. Never exceed legal speed limit. Primarily they are set for your traveling safety, however better gas efficiency also occurs. Traveling at 55 mph give you up to 21% better mileage when compared to former legal speed limits of 65 mph and 70 mph.
11. Traveling at fast rates in low gears can consume up to 45% more fuel than is needed.
12. Manual shift driven cars allow you to change to highest gear as soon as possible, thereby letting you save gas if you "nurse it along". However, if you cause the engine to "bog down", premature wearing of engine parts occurs.
13. Keep windows closed when traveling at highway speeds. Open windows cause air drag, reducing your mileage by 10%.
14. Drive steadily. Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Also avoid tailgating - the driver in front of you is unpredictable. Not only is it unsafe, but if affects your economy, if he slows down unexpectedly.
15.Think ahead when approaching hills. If you accelerate, do it before you reach the hill, not while you're on it.


16. Do not rest left foot on floor board pedals while driving. The slightest pressure puts "mechanical drag" on components, wearing them down prematurely. This "dragging" also demands additional fuel usage.
17. Avoid rough roads whenever possible, because dirt or gravel rob you of up to 30% of your gas mileage.
18. Use alternate roads when safer, shorter, straighter. Compare traveling distance differences - remember that corners, curves and lane jumping requires extra gas. The shortest distance between two points is always straight.
19. Stoplights are usually timed for your motoring advantage. By traveling steadily at the legal speed limit you boost your chances of having the "green light" all the way.
20. Automatic transmissions should be allowed to cool down when your car is idling at a standstill, e.g. railroad crossings, long traffic lights, etc. Place gear into neutral position. This reduces transmission strain and allows transmission to cool.
21. Park car so that you can later begin to travel in forward gear; avoid reverse gear maneuvers to save gas.
22. Regular tune-ups ensure best economy; check owner's manual for recommended maintenance intervals. Special attention should be given to maintaining clean air filters... diminished air flow increases gas waste.
23. Inspect suspension and chassis parts for occasional misalignment. Bent wheels, axles, bad shocks, broken springs, etc. create engine drag and are unsafe at high traveling speeds.
24. Remove snow tires during good weather seasons; traveling on deep tire tread really robs fuel!
25. Inflate all tires to maximum limit. Each tire should be periodically spun, balanced and checked for out-of-round. When shopping for new tires, get large diameter tires for rear wheels. Radial designs are the recognized fuel-savers; check manufacturer's specifications for maximum tire pressures.
26. Remove vinyl tops - they cause air drag. Rough surfaces disturb otherwise smooth air flow around a car's body. Bear in mind when buying new cars that a fancy sun roof helps disturb smooth air flow (and mileage).
27. Auto air conditioners can reduce fuel economy by 10% to 20%. Heater fan, power windows and seats increase engine load; the more load on your engine, the less miles per gallon.
28. Remove excess weight from trunk or inside of car - extra tires, back seats, unnecessary heavy parts. Extra weight reduces mileage, especially when driving up inclines.
29. Car pools reduce travel monotony and gas expense - all riders chip in to help you buy. Conversation helps to keep the driver alert. Pooling also reduces traffic congestion, gives the driver easier maneuverability and greater "steady speed" economy. For best results, distribute passenger weight evenly throughout car.
30. During cold weather watch for icicles frozen to car frame. Up to 100 lbs. can be quickly accumulated! Unremoved snow and ice cause tremendous wind resistance. Warm water thrown on (or hosed on) will eliminate it fast.


Install pressure regulator valve (sold in auto parts stores)... Use graphite motor oil... Beware of oil additives, regardless of advertising claims... Add Marvel Mystery Oil into gas fill-ups... Investigate fuel/water injection methods and products... combine short errands into one trip... Use special gas additives to prevent winter freezing of gas lines... convert your V8 engine over to a V4 - no special kits needed!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The "Birther" conspiracy -- What is it Really About? And Donald Trump as President...say what??

The "birther" conspiracy. It was once thought of as a "fringe" or "extremist" view among the right, but with good 'ole Donald Trump reinvigorating the fire, more and more conservatives seem to be somewhat doubtful about Obama's original birthplace. Despite the release of his "certification of live birth" during the 2008 campaign, an unusually large number of Republican voters still believe Obama could actually be Kenyan. For many who believe Obama isn't a U.S. citizen, their main beef is about the difference between a certificate of live birth vs. a long-form birth certificate. But problem number one, is the improper verbage use in that comparison. The certificate of live birth is the "long-form" birth certificate. What people are really discussing is the difference between a certificate of live birth and certification of live birth. An original certificate of live birth, which is filed once you are born, is immediately turned over to the State Department once the proper information is filled out, and is kept in a file. The certification of live birth is the copy of your (commonly known as) birth certificate to use for a variety of verification purposes. Lost somehow in the entire discussion is the reality that original copies of live birth are never released, even to the individuals themselves and the State Department of Hawaii has verified on several occasions the existence of Obama's original certificate of live birth. President Obama could get a copy of his original birth certificate if he is able to show the Department of Health and Human services in Hawaii he has a "tangible interest" in obtaining the copy.

Not to mention, in two completely separate newspapers, Obama's birth announcement was printed along with announcements of other births, weddings, and funerals. So the question I have is this: how in the world can you conclude with all this information that our U.S. government is involved in a conspiracy so profound, it actually had a hand in planting birth announcements in two Honolulu newspapers 50 years ago -- all to later help nominate the President of the United States. Really? Why that kid? Why would someone say, "Oh yes, this newborn is totally going to become the first black President in the U.S. We are totally going to pull a lot of strings to make this nobody, poor, mixed kid become a Senator and later a President." Really? REALLY??

I mean, what a joke. It seems to me this is a futile ploy by the extreme right to distract from important things and hand, and a desire to discredit President Obama as a legitimate leader of this country. Say what you want about his policy, but to actually spend time and energy on debating his birth place? Do you really think any old joe can just stroll into the White House without validation of his citizenship? I mean, let's think about the verification process you go through with applying for a passport. And you actually believe that someone could so easily get into the White House. Oh wait, I forgot. The government is also involved in this conspiracy. How could I be so blind.

Let's talk about real issues -- the economy, jobs, education, the budget maybe?

Here's a Newsy story I wrote on it.


Great article summarizing the difference between a certificate of live birth and certification of live birth.

Another story written by the Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guns, guns, guns!

With Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's recent veto of gun legislation which would allow conceal and carry on a college campus, gun debates have re-entered political discussion after a reprieve for debate over budgets, unions, abortion, and gay rights.

Looking at "pro" vs. "anti"gun arguments, one most recognize and understand the complexities of the debate. To me, there should be a clear distinction between my personal desire to eradicate all guns from civilians, and my understanding of the 2nd amendment, which I think would reasonably allow for personal gun use in home for safety purposes and for hunting. With that, it is important to note the vague wording of the 2nd amendment, while you also look at the context of the time and environment in which the bill of rights was written. A friend brought up an interesting point the other night during a discussion of gun rights and the 2nd amendment. During that time, "bear arms" literally meant grabbing your own gun to use during war or battle. Clearly the U.S. no longer has a civilian army in the same sense as citizens did 250 years ago where men would grab their fire-arms and head off to the front lines.

My personal bottom-line for the entire gun ownership & conceal and carry debate is the lack of statistics proving areas with high gun ownership helps decrease violent crime. And I believe the statistical data is absent for good reason! To me, experimenting with gun-ownership and its purported minimization effect on crime is not a risk I, (or I believe anyone) should be willing to take. The supposed benefits of potentially lesser crime does not outweigh the dire consequences and risk of substantially more crime with more people holding guns.

Lastly, I have heard the argument that individuals with conceal and carry licenses are "rational", and the streets would be safer if more "rational" people went through the "rigorous" process of obtaining a conceal and carry license. There are two major flaws with that statement. First is with the rationality bit. In no way, shape, or form, does an applicant for a conceal and carry license go through a cognitive test or mental evaluation determining their level of mental health and wellness. So how does one know exactly how "rational" the applicants are compared to any other rando on the street? True, you must go through a background check, get fingerprinted, and take a gun shooting and safety class, but those things clearly have nothing to do with your mental psyche. As we saw with the tragedy in Arizona with gunman Jared Loughner, the issue of mental illness and gun-ownership was raised, and many lawmakers are questioning the screening process for purchasing and owning guns. Secondly, is filling out an application, getting a background check, your fingerprints taken, and a class on gun safety all that rigorous?? I honestly did exactly that and more for my Teach for America application. (Minus the shooting practice at a range -- supplement my experience with webinars and trainings on how to teach).

I could honestly go and go with this discussion, but here are my main points:

  • Guns shouldn't be allowed on college campuses. EVER. Unless you are a trained police officer
  • Because they are solely designed to kill, people should be very wary of loosening restrictions on gun ownership anywhere.
  • The risks of more violent crime do not outweigh the potential benefits of lower crime in areas with high gun ownership or loose gun regulations
  • There should be more restrictions on gun ownership and use
  • Guns should only exist within your personal space (home) and in relation to hunting
  • Guns are DANGEROUS, and this issue should NOT be taken likely. We should not assume the good in everyone, and be naive enough to believe that if someone went through the process of obtaining a license, they are "rational" and smart people using guns for the sole purpose of protection.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My TFA Countdown...The Beginning of a TFA Blog

Almost 4 months ago, my life and career path for the next two years was changed drastically. On January 18th, 2011, I was officially accepted as a Teach For America corp member, and was tentatively assigned to teach highschool English in Dallas, Texas. No words can express the happiness, the shock, the confusion, the joy, and the bewilderment I felt all at once when I received my congratulatory email while I was in the computer lab. I wanted to shout out, to tell someone close to me -- but I knew no one in the computer lab. DILEMMA. So, I did what most millennial generation college students do: I told Facebook. The next week was a flurry of congratulation emails, Facebook messages, text messages, phone calls, and emails. I was on top of the world. (I'm still on top of the world btw)

But then the difficult part came: realizing exactly how much preparation this was going to take. Not only am I preparing myself mentally for one of the biggest challenges and most important experiences of my life, I have to spend hours pouring over test preparation material and teaching texts. Not to mention classroom observations! I may be slightly overwhelmed considering all the work I have to complete before graduating, but I know I can do it! I know I will get it done, and I know I will be as prepared as I could be on that first day of induction -- plus a few nervous stomach butterflies, some sweaty palms, and maybe a little sleep deprived from my anxious sleepless night the night before.

For the next two years, I will use this blog to chronicle my experiences with TFA, my school and my students for the next two years. I am so excited for what this experience can hold, and cannot wait to share it all with you!

The Invisible Line between Journalist and Talk Show Host...

Journalist. Talk show host. Brian Waters. Oprah Winfrey. Clearly those two professions are, and should be, very different. But lately, I have seen too many "journalists" acting more like talk show hosts. The world of cable news provides many great examples of this, especially considering the current polarizing rhetoric used in political banter.

In this video, Bill O'Reilly, journalist, author, and show host interviews the President during the 2011 Superbowl. I have never claimed to be a fan of O'Reilly because of his "interviewing" style of interrupt, talk over, and interrupt some more. This interview is certainly set up to seem "journalistic", with pre-written questions and official-looking papers. Watch the video and tell me what you think!

This next video comes from Fox News, and features journalist Neil Cavuto interviewing a Democratic Senator from Texas. Cavuto attempts to "challenge" the Senator on her claims and stance on eliminating debt, but the conversation quickly takes on a much less-professional tone.

Watch for yourself.

And in this last example, ex-MSNBC show host Keith Olbermann goes over his well-known segment of the show, named "The Worst Persons in the World". The entirely subjective segment submits individuals Olbermann finds despicable for various reasons. True, what the individuals did was in fact news -- but is this segment? Or is it just commentary? Is it even tasteful for a news station to broadcast such a segment?

The bottom line here, is that too many journalists have become loose with their behavior, tone, phrasing, etc on television. When viewers go to a news station, its because they want to hear reporting -- not just your personal commentary on what is happening in the world. And even if a viewer is unable to distinguish between political commentary and political reporting, as journalists we should know the difference and strictly adhere to practicing well-known techniques of good journalism.

That's all folks!

Blog or News site??

What exactly separates a personal blog from an online news source? It's a tough question to answer, but as a journalist student at the University of Missouri, I have been taught the last several years to think critically about news and personal commentary. Interestingly enough, within the journalism school, there is substantial hubbub about a 3 senior journalism students' purported news website. The site, called "J-School Buzz" is part of their senior capstone project. Their mission? Report news pertaining specifically to the journalism school. Their critiques? Well, that's a little more complicated. From within the journalism school, there are many students who feel the site shouldn't constitute a capstone project at all, let alone a news site. Reportedly, (and I can say this, because I am in fact writing on a blog) the goal of the site is not really reporting news, but measuring traffic on the site and comparing viewers depending on the article topic. (Entertainment, career/business, etc)

While it is clear many online news sites and the journalism "industry" in general are propelled by ad sales and high traffic as any other "business", their job first and foremost is to provide accurate news to its viewers. So is there a problem with the site's goals, or are the writers/managing directors adhering to a typical business model?

The latest J-school Buzz drama revolves around a physical altercation that occurred in the journalism school. One of the editors was assaulted, and then decided to write about. The same day. Within an hour of the attack. Why? Therein lies the plethora of comments and criticisms from website viewers. The tone and verbage in the "news article" seemed very bloggy, and to be honest, I got a -- as one commenter called it -- hero complex vibe from the story.

The writer was also challenged on his ability to even produce an "objective" news story on a situation where he was directly involved. To which he claimed -- absolutely. I, however, find this impossible. How could you possibly maintain any objectivity in a situation where you are a victim? Isn't that the subjectivity journalists look for in their human sources?? It was bizarre, I find the site bizarre, I find the proposal of this as a plausible capstone project bizarre.

The end.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Viral videos are the new obsession, thanks to the unmatched success of YouTube. These video makers go from average "nobodies" to the subjects of new mottos, phrases, and hilarious discussions. Some viral video 'famous faces' love their 5 minutes of fame, like Antoine Dodson. Others, not so much... (texting fountain faller Cruz Marrero) And some are never able to live down the shame of their tainted reputation from a viral vid. Like the UCLA girl...

The latest viral sensation is teen pop star wannabe Rebecca Black. She, along with several other teens, are part of a campaign sponsored by Ark Music Factory to seemingly find the next Justin Beiber, or Britney Spears, or some other pop sensation. The teens get a professional video, in hopes that they become famous and maybe score a legit record deal. Let's just say Rebecca has become famous for all the wrong reasons. Her "hit" song Friday has more than 20 million views on YouTube...and over 80,000 dislikes.

See for yourself!

After the public caught hold to Black's video, there was a frenzy of Facebook & Twitter sharing...and everyone seemed to find her video humorous, instead of an awesome debut of a great undiscovered artist.

Frustrated by the negative comments and laughs surrounding her musical masterpiece, Rebecca interviewed with the Today's Show, and did an acoustic version of her song...That didn't seem to sound much better either. :/

So, what's the moral of the story? I think its, BE CAREFUL what you put on the internet...its very hit and miss. You could become the subject of the next catch phrase -- or becoming the laughing-stock of the country.

And just for fun, Kingsley's review of Rebecca Black's vid!

Beware: he loves cursing, so if you have sensitive ears, don't watch this!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Senioritis. True, its not in Webster's, but its in Urban Dictionary, so that makes it kind of an official term, right? At any rate, dictionary entry or not, I feel like I am suffering from a pretty bad case of it. The worst part, is that I am usually a really motivated, high-achieving individual. All throughout college, I have worked hard to get great grades. Now, I couldn't possibly have a better gig lined up for me...I will be working for Teach For America, I am graduating Cum Laude, and my parents couldn't be more proud (as am I) of the work I have done in school. But somehow, even with all these accomplishments, I can't seem to write a 3 page paper! I can't seem to sit down and read 5 chapters in a textbook, and don't even ask about researching for a semester-long group project. I am burnt out. Officially. I am exhausted from school, work, and studying, and I can't seem to snap out of it. GAHHHHHH. (This is an expression of my frustration) Now, I only seem to have acquired the illness this past week, so I am sure that eventually (preferably soon) I will find the cure...or at least something to curb it until May 6th. And just so teachers recognize this is a real deal problem, I have included an article for your viewing pleasure! To all you graduating seniors: We can do it! We've done it for 3 1/2 years, we can definitely do it for 2 more months... I'll see you on the podium!!

Senioritis Article

Sunday, February 27, 2011

CHEEEEZZZY pick-up lines....

Most of us women have had to deal with it, and if you haven't, I would say you're pretty lucky...Cheesy pick-up lines. Somehow, they're only funny when you hear them on Comedy Central. I went out this weekend with some girlfriends, who were subjected to quite the "interesting" pick up line. It was as follows, "What's this I hear about all these Mizzou girls hooking up with Indian guys?" Needless to say, my friends just laughed and walked away...So I'll put it to you, have you ever used a pick-up line with someone? Have you been subjected to a funny one? Comment below!

Here is a funny video I found on YouTube about pick-up lines...

And here is another really funny one!

AND...Want to learn a great line or two? Click here!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Beibs...

Alright, so I want to be very clear hear with my words and my opinion of Justin Bieber. I am NOT, and repeat AM NOT in any way attracted to a 16-year-old boy. I very much have a view of the biebster that bounces between uninterested and intrigued, but I will admit that my appreciation of his music has grown.

First, a little background....I was first introduced to Justin Bieber right as I left for camp at the beginning of summer '10. For the next 3 months, I was unable to escape the constant exposure to his songs from the boy-crazed 12 year olds under my care. They would sing his songs everywhere, draw pictures of him for our cabin, discuss him in depth during free time, and request his songs be played during daily chapel. At first I wondered, who is this kid? But by the end of the summer, I didn't really care to know him...I already knew too much: where he was born, what his eye color looked like, how beautiful his smile was, how great he was at dancing, how nice his flowing locks looked as he flipped his hair, how gorgeous his pre-pubescent voice sounded, and of course, how nice it was to gaze at his perfectly chiseled 16-year-old body.

Returning back to civilization after months of seclusion in the woods, I soon realized this guy was not going away. I proceeded to mostly tune him out, and dismiss him as an artist suitable for most of his fan base -- 13-year-old girls -- and nothing more. But little by little, I started to enjoy a few of the songs he had on the radio. I caught myself humming a few tunes, and actually singing along to "Eenie Meanie". What is happening??! I can't be turning into one of those creepy college-aged girls who are obsessed with some little kid!

I later reflected with a friend, and came to a resolution. If I was 10, I would probably be in love with Justin Bieber, just as I was in love with Justin Timberlake at that age...So, I can't really harp on his crazed fans, because I was once a crazed pubescent preteen as well. So this past weekend when someone suggested we go see "Never Say Never", Justin's debut movie, I was OK with it. And little did I know, I would actually enjoy it! Seeing that movie, I have a deeper appreciation for Justin Bieber as an artist (I know, that sounds kind of crazy), and I actually like his music! And I'm not gonna lie, the little guy has some swag! No wonder little girls are in love with him...Usher has definitely taught him well.

So, moral of the story: don't judge a book by its cover? Well, maybe, maybe not. I would say, never be "too cool" for anything...even listening to a scrawny little kid sing about his middle school crush.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

N-word, or no n-word...that is the question.

     Most of us read it during highschool, and some of us slept through it. Its a book that has long since been forgotten in our minds since that 10th grade class, but its drawing TONS of media attention as of late. "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain is considered one of English literature's classic American novels for coming-of-age teens in the highschool classroom--but has been the target of swirling controversy when it was first published in 1884. The story is set in a fictional town in Missouri in the late 1830's, and follows the adventures of two friends, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Sounds innocent, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. The language of the book is what is causing so much hoopla around its use in a highschool classroom. Reflective of that time period in history, the characters frequently used the n-word and other racial slurs in reference to a character of the story, Jim, a nearby slave. Over the past 30 years, many schools have banned use of the book in classrooms, citing the language, which was deemed unsuitable for minors. Here's an excerpt from one of the pages of the novel.

EXCERPT (pg. 66)

"Well I reckon there's a right smart chance of people here that'd like to know who killed him. Some think old Finn done it himself."

"No--is that so?"

"Most everybody thought it at first. He'll never know how nigh he come to getting lynched. But before night they changed around and judged it was done by a runaway n****r named Jim."

"Why he--"

I stopped. I reckoned I better keep still. She run on, and never noticed I had put in at all:
"The n****r run off the very night Huck Finn was killed. So there's a reward out for him--three hundred dollars. And there's a reward out for old Finn, too--two hundred dollars. You see, he come to town the morning after the murder, and told about it, and was out with 'em on the ferryboat hunt, and right away after he up and left. Before night they wanted to lynch him, but he was gone, you see. Well, next day they found out the n****r was gone; they found out he hadn't ben seen sence ten o'clock the night the murder was doen. So then they put it on him, you see; and while they was full of it, next day, back comes old Finn, and wen't boo-hooing to Judge Thatcher to get money to hunt for the n****r all over Illinois with."

     More recently, a Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben has announced his plans to publish a censored version of the book. Gribben is working with NewSouth Books in Alabama to publish a new version of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer" sometime in February. According to Gribben, the N-word appears 219 times in "Huck Finn" and four times in "Tom Sawyer", but the new version will replace the n-word with "slave". ( The media has been a buzz with commentary from educators, writers, and other scholars who are either appalled at the notion, or agree with Gibben's decision. Some say re-writing the novel is just an attempt to avoid necessary but uncomfortable conversations with students on racism, and others say the words only bring hurt and pain--that race conversations about race can occur without this book.

An MU English professor recently went to bat for Gibben's revision plan, and says the idea is an honest attempt to bring more viewers.

As an African-American female, I think it's important to remember and reflect on our history in its entirety--good and bad. I think the context of this book and the book language presents interesting themes to discuss. Although conversations about race and racism in this country are quite uncomfortable for many people, its a necessary...and what better time to start than a 10th grade English lit. class? Maybe teachers need training on how to present and discuss controversial books like "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", or maybe schools arrange an assembly to discuss some of the book's issues before students read it. But I personally don't agree in the censorship of literature for the sake of preserving someone's feelings or preventing hurt. The hurt has already happened. The hurt is still there. To me, ignoring what has happened only exasterbates ignorance, and in no way advances a more "racially cognizant" society.

So what do you think? Does the revision ruin an integral piece of American literature? Or is the book's crude language unnecessary in appreciating the themes of the story?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Phone Tag!

I'm sure all of you have played it before...the most frustrating game on the planet: PHONE TAG. Well, in a relationship that relies entirely on the modern day technology of the phone or skype, you become really really really experienced playing this game. Between classes, work, studying, and hanging out with friends (not to mention a partner who has a full-time job), the whole "I'm calling you while you're in class"/"I'm calling you back while you're in a business meeting" thing happens quite often. In fact, a little too often. Then, inevitably, the irritation builds, as you feel "left out" of whatever else is going on in your partner's life, and you realize you haven't talked in a day, or two, or three from being so busy. So here's what I have realized. Is whatever you're doing all that important that you can't excuse yourself for a minute to take the call? I mean, right, with some exceptions, its probably not a good idea. Say, if the dean of your respective college or schools comes to speak to your class--maybe thats not a good time for a phone call. But if you're working on peer-editing in your freshman english class, or headed into a movie with the girls, or about to shoot hoops with the guys, or headed into the gym--taking those five seconds to say hello can mean all the difference in their day. So do it. Live a little. Maybe people might thing you're rude, and maybe people will bust your chops for being attached to your phone, or your girl, or your man--but who cares? Because at the end of the day, your relationship is significantly more important than hearing your professor repeat the keys to journalistic success for the 100th time.

Until next time,

Lonely Lover

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kiss Me Through The Phone...

        Is it bad that I sometimes get jealous of couples walking in the park, or making out at parties? Or that I occasionally hole up in my living room watching old romantic comedies? Not to mention, my least favorite holiday is coming...Valentine's Day. No, I haven't been bitten by the bitterness bug...I'm in a long distance relationship. Being in a long distance relationship is rewarding, confusing, stressful, frustrating, lonely, draining, and exciting all at the same time. I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 3 1/2 years, and except for the first summer, all of it has been spent long distance. True, I have been able to visit my boyfriend several times, and he has come to visit me, but its been far from easy to live thousands of miles away from the person you love. And so, with a whole lot of trust, and all the forms of communication modern day technology has to offer, we have pulled through. For the next several weeks, this blog is going to feature posts on the common problems and joyous occasions of a long-distance relationship, including things that have worked well for me or others I know in a LDR. Hope you tune in and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ethics and Leaks and Politics, oh my!!

Whew! Lots to talk about today (tonight?) feature. Its due next Friday, I have to have most of it done for voicing next Tuesday. Sounds like I have plenty of time, right? Wrong. See, there is this whole thing that typically occurs at the end of the semester where teachers who realize they are behind on lesson plans throw everything at you all at once. Tests, papers, quizzes, and good old projects. So this feature story I thought I would have "plenty" of time to write and put together---let's just say I don't have the time I thought. Yes, I know, journalism is all about deadlines, and finishing in the "nick of time". The only problem is, I am not just a journalist, but a student, and who also works. Between class, meetings, homework, work, and all the other stuff, finding time to interview can be quite the feat. Despite my complaints, the upside to this situation is that I have found it relatively easier to come up with story ideas and topics for stories. Today in lecture, we discussed ethics in journalism, and came to conclusion that there were no hard-lined ethical rules. Well that certainly isn't comforting! The discussion revolved around a 20-year-old college student who was the son of a public figure, and ended up committing suicide after relentless coverage of a drug charged he received. The question the class had to wrestle with was whether the media was partly to blame/entirely responsible for the young man's death. The discussion brought up all sorts of issues with news, privacy, sensitivity to the public, minimizing harm, and journalistic responsibility.

The news the past few weeks continues to be exciting and interesting. Yet another reporter has been suspended from a news station for privately donating to a political campaign. The big question raised in this situation, is how far is too far? Clearly journalists are also part of the public, and have every right to support whomever the choose politically. But is it o.k. for the media to show clear support to one side or the other? Can journalists become friends with or continue close relationships with politicians? Questions, questions, and no answers. Just something to ponder.

Lately, I have been watching alot of the Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. What's interesting to me is determining whether their shows could be considered news. When Steven Colbert had the "Rally for Sannity" a few weeks ago, one attendee had a sign that read, "I get my comedy watching the news, and I get my news watching Comedy Central." The sign was humorous, but in a way, absolutely true! Many Americans are fed up with the "typical" depressing news stories they see on 24 hour news channels and even local stations, and are getting most of their news content online or from shows like The Colbert Report. Thinking about that concept makes me wonder even more about the changing face of journalism, particularly in broadcast media. Some professional journalists might laugh at the thought of The Colbert Report or the Daily Show being called news, but I don't know if its really that far fetched. They clearly have to do some sort of reporting and scripting to run their stories, and both shows routinely interview guests during the segment. All of these aspects are key in journalism, and all of them seem to be occurring on a comedy show. Knowing all this information, what should "mainstream" media do to regain and retain viewers interests? This is another question I have thought about deeply, and yet again don't have the answer to...what do you think?

For now, that's all everyone!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ohhhh the Media....

The past few weeks have definitely been a learning experience for me in the journalism world. Just when I felt I was getting the hang of writing long-form radio stories with creative sound and writing, I had to completely switch gears and churn out several quick news stories during my shifts. Although I do believe my writing has improved greatly since the beginning of the semester and I can turn out more stories written decently, I feel some of the creativity I was enjoying has been lost. 

The more I have watched the news lately, the more I have really begun to wonder where media is headed as a profession. "Citizen" journalists continue to pop up everywhere, and almost anyone with a phone can now videotape an event, post it on the internet, and write about it. Clearly there is a difference between a trained journalist and an "average joe" in terms of quality of work. But do online readers really care? I think a great example is the news coverage over the new TSA regulations. Ironically, most of the media frenzy surrounding flyers complaints came AFTER one man refused to receive the scan and pat-down while taping the entire ordeal, which he quickly sent to media outlets and posted on the internet. Writing a web version of almost all T.V. and radio stories has become standard, and more and more people get their news from the internet. The change of news is not a new topic of conversation, and has been debating among the best in the business; but it doesn't make it any less interesting to analyze!

This week, I listened to a lot of NPR (This American Life) to continue working on improving my scripting in my stories. Something else I have been observing and trying to emulate are interviewing skills of the "greats" in journalism. Because I grew up watching it, I always enjoy watching the correspondents and anchors on the show lead into great stories with great interviews. In the interview with President Obama, the questions ____ asked were both challenging and interesting. He clearly had done alot of research, which helped the interview progress without "cookie-cutter" responses that politicians tend to use. My dream would be to ask great questions like him, and challenge such a prominent individual to answer clearly and concisely. 

My goals for the the end of the semester is really developing my interview skills (which are improving) and continue working on my writing skills. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Please return my calls!!!

Being a journalism student is hard enough. Getting used to pitching stories, working on a hard deadline, and working equipment are just a few of the difficult tasks we have to get used to. But when story ideas fall through because we cannot tout our years of experience at an established station, things get even more difficult. That situation was my experience this week. My attempt was to cover a story on voter fraud, and what Missouri representatives planned to do in order to prevent voter fraud in Columbia and Boone County. Not only did my initial attempts to obtain an interview with the County Clerk and the Secretary of State fall through, but I never received call-backs or email responses. I had to scratch all of my plans and start over from square one. I understand that I have to "pay my dues" within the journalism world, and I'm not going to score some of those interviews that a more experienced and established journalist would. I just wish I could at least get an official rejection, rather than no response! I really enjoyed the piece I came up with this week, as I believe my scripting, voicing, and editing techniques were much better.

In terms of what I saw this week in journalism, a lot of the news stories were related to midterm elections. While I personally think citizens should stay generally knowledgeable on political events and issues, I hate pre-election coverage. I can't stand the commercials, the articles written from pure speculation, and the never-ending segments of political analysts trying to hypothesize on election voting numbers. In my opinion, journalists need to do a better job of really examining election issues, and discussing candidates platforms, rather than boring listeners with statistics from polls and surveys. CNN, FOX, and MSNBC are all guilty of this problem, which I think needs to change.

This week also provided a prime example of the impact news coverage can have on decision-makers. With the "Faurot Field Thirty" incident last weekend, the news coverage of their arrests this week and the negative publicity and growing conversation about the students' arrests no doubt played a role in the University's decision to drop charges. After the University received negative attention for selling field-rush photos to students and alum, the pictures were quickly removed from the bookstore website. It reiterated to me how much impact journalism can have on people's lives and the overall sentiment of the public.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week 3

      Searching for a newsworthy story is still a work in progress for me. I have taken the suggestion of keeping a folder with all of my submitted story ideas, so when the time comes I will have ideas to pull from. This has worked decently well, although some of my story ideas were dated, and I can no longer use them. A story idea I proposed that seems really interesting to me is looking into the caseloads of the public defenders for Boone County. Many public defenders are receiving an obscene number of case -loads, and the fear is that the defenders will eventually have to turn away cases. I would love to look into humanizing this story with finding an individual whose cased was turned away. Initially, the idea seemed very simple, but I now realize how much work a piece like this would take (if done well). So if we are required to do a longer feature for the end of the semester, this may be my topic. Overall, I feel I have progressed from the beginning of the semester in my ability to spot a potential story, and to work an interesting angle into my story scripts. I know I have a LONG way to go, and I'm not great at it, but I honestly feel I am improving! Finding a good story idea and scripting a story well are definitely the hardest parts of producing a great story, but I am taking steps to continue getting better. 

As per usual, news coverage this week affords me an opportunity to critique what works well and what doesn't work well with for a variety of stories. The readings and lectures we have had over the past 8 weeks gave me a more critical eye in viewing new stories and coverage, and hopefully I can avoid similar mistakes in my own news, and emulate great practices from talented journalists. The other day, I arrived home from school and was watching television. "Inside Edition" came on, and I watched the entire segment, in order to pick up on what key things NOT to do in news. A key theme I noticed while viewing, was leads crossing the line between presenting an element of surprise and misleading a viewer. I remembered a lecture we had earlier in the semester where we discussed how to surprise a viewer/listener and create suspense without misleading. 

One show I look to for inspiration and a great example is a show I have honestly watched for years. Every Sunday night when I was living at home, my family would gather around and watch 60 minutes  and 20/20. Each news story is quality, and starts out peaking my interest to keep me hooked for the entire segment. The two shows have an incredible balance of hard-hitting news, investigative reporting, heart-warming features, and stories with celebrities/stars to stay current with entertainment news. 
When a story is complete, the lead for an upcoming segment (ex. "Homeless Veterans" for next week on 60 minutes) is always outstanding, and creates suspense for the viewer. 

As time goes on and I gain more experience reporting, I hope my news stories will be ethical yet exciting, and NEVER cross the line of misleading my listeners/viewers. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

So I can use big words? No one cares...

This week, the theme of being conversational hit me time and time again. As a journalism student, I have taken many writing classes, and know all the best SAT words. But all of that practice and preparation counts for nothing when you are writing a story that will be aired in a station where thousands of ordinary people will be listening. They won't be impressed by my grandiose vocabulary, they will just be bored. As I was listening to "This American Life" this week, I was again impressed with the extremely comfortable and conversational newscast I was listening to. For some reason, when I get to the voicing studio, this desire to be exciting and fresh comes over me and I talk in an obnoxious, sing-song voice. In watching the news this past week, I couldn't help but notice television anchors who do the same thing, and how annoying that gets, and also confusing to listen to. But watching some of the greatest anchors of all time on shows like 20/20 and 60 minutes, I am truly inspired by their ability to report on a huge story all the while talking like you are their closest neighbor. As we watched interviews and pieces by the late Ed Bradley with 60 minutes, poise and confidence are key elements in being an outstanding reporter or anchor.

I know it will take some time, but hopefully soon, I will be able to show the confidence I have interacting with people in my stories and as I voice.

Friday, September 17, 2010


There were many interesting stories this week that enjoyed reading and listening to, and several techniques I noticed in these great pieces that I hope to emulate in mine. The news sources I read and listened to this week were The Huffington Post, 20/20, 60 Minutes, and "This American Life". Each news source offered a variety of techniques in delivery, composition, and development of their stories. On 20/20, I noticed they continuously offer interesting and unique stories, with strong leads that really peak your interest in the story. Elizabeth Vargas and Juju Chang are really skilled at crafting great leads. In the stories themselves, particularly during interviews, the anchors are great at hard-hitting questions that add to the interview and don't completely switch gears during the story. This aspect of journalism is something I desperately need to improve upon, and I definitely look to the anchors and correspondents of 20/20 as my lead example.

What I love about watching 60 minutes is their skill in consistently airing culturally relevant topics, even though the perception is that 60 minutes is "outdated" and only for "old people". Their continuous segment updates reminds me of radio, and I love knowing what has already been seen in the show, and what I can look forward to watching later.

What I find really appealing about the Huffington Post is the witty commentary and satirical nature of their stories. It really makes reading about hard-news more appealing and more interesting. Reading a story and having the links within the story I also really enjoy, versus detracting time to click on a link at the bottom of the page or in the sidebar. If I can figure out how to do that within my story, I definitely will add this technique to my "arsenal".

All three websites (60 minutes, 20/20, and the Huffington Post) really supplement their stories with great web extras. The links, photos, and extra video clips on each website really add to the story and keep me interested in learning more about the topic. My desire for my own stories is to really deepen the context of my story with such great additions in my web extras.
-Satirical nature, witty commentary (Huffington Post)
-Links included within the story (Huffington Post)

The last news source that I really enjoy is This American Life. I enjoy listening to the podcasts on This American Life because the journalists on the show have outstanding creativity within their scripts, and a keen ability to incite listeners interest and peak their emotions. As a radio-focused journalism student, there are a lot of techniques on this show I need to practice and emulate the most.

Something I saw that I didn't like this past week was on the Huffington Post. In reading some of their stories, like their coverage of the NFL analyst who was allegedly harassed in the N.Y. Jets locker room, and the video with President Clinton discussing his Global Initiative, I felt like too much of the story information was included in the headlines. I understand pulling viewers in with a poignant headline that sparks interest, while providing a little information about the story, but if the entire story focus is spelled out in the headline, it could prevent viewers from actually reading the story.

The past two weeks, I have been pouring over newspapers, reading press releases, and asking people, "What's going on in Columbia?" For me, coming up with story ideas is the probably the hardest step in putting together a news story. What I find baffling, interesting, or "newsworthy" isn't always so for the majority of our listening audience. Once I have a good story idea, the tedious process of calling and waiting for call-backs begins. How do I make my request for a few minutes of someone's time sound urgent but not forced? How can I make "writing a story for a class assignment" sound really exciting and worth their while? I haven't quite figured that out yet. I just emphasize the "only need 10 minutes of your time", and throw in some, "I would really appreciate", and "It would be great if...", and hope I get that long awaited phone call. When it comes to interviewing, my prior "skills" in speaking become my worst enemy. I have this affliction called, "Tendency to ask long-winded questions". It's fine when you're hanging out with friends, talking to your mother, or a significant other. But when I'm interviewing an official, they get a confused look on their face

Sunday, February 28, 2010


So I am kind of saddened by the events that have occurred this past week....This week has been a very disheartening one for me to say the list, and there is alot of anger and frustration going on around me. The other day, some individuals thought it would be really funny to cover the yard and entrance to the Black Culture Center at my school with cotton balls....Really? Why, why, why.....Apparently, they thought it would be clever to make a subtle reference to slavery and cotton picking. Ha ha. What's even worse than the event itself, is the lack of support I am feeling from alot of the community here on campus. I have heard alot of, "It's not that big of a deal," and "Its just cotton balls....what if it was q-tips? Would you still be pissed?"

The insensitivity is almost vomit-worthy....

Earlier this week, I heard about the "Compton Cookout" themed party thrown by UCSD complete with a lists of what the guys and girls should wear, and how they should act. Not to mention the food items to be provided, complete with fried chicken, watermelon, and "purple drank". Think I am joking? I wish I is the actual invitation:

"February marks a very important month in American society. No, i'm not referring to Valentines day or Presidents day. I'm talking about Black History month. As a time to celebrate and in hopes of showing respect, the Regents community cordially invites you to its very first Compton Cookout.

For guys: I expect all males to be rockin Jersey's, stuntin' up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable), anything FUBU, Ecko, Rockawear, High/low top Jordans or Dunks, Chains, Jorts, stunner shades, 59 50 hats, Tats, etc.

For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks-Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes - they consider Baby Phat to be high class and expensive couture. They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave, usually in bad colors, such as purple or bright red. They look and act similar to Shenaynay, and speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face. Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary, and attempt to make up for it, by forming new words, such as "constipulated", or simply cursing persistently, or using other types of vulgarities, and making noises, such as "hmmg!", or smacking their lips, and making other angry noises,grunts, and faces. The objective is for all you lovely ladies to look, act, and essentially take on these "respectable" qualities throughout the day.

Several of the regents condos will be teaming up to house this monstrosity, so travel house to house and experience the various elements of life in the ghetto.

We will be serving 40's, Kegs of Natty, dat Purple Drank- which consists of sugar, water, and the color purple , chicken, coolade, and of course Watermelon. So come one and come all, make ya self before we break ya self, keep strapped, get yo shine on, and join us for a day party to be remembered- or not. "

Two days later, after drama had unfolded on campus, a journalism student on the student-run radio station said the protesters were "just a bunch of ungrateful n******".

In Kansas City, a serial rapist has been discovered in Waldo, and the composite sketch of the suspect could pretty much match hundreds of black men in the KC area. The man has been described as "6 foot, 225 pounds, bald head or a close cut". Wow, are you serious? Apparently, the police station has received over 500 different "tips" of men matching this description. Waldo men have dubbed themselves "bounty hunters" in search of the rapist, and a few have even chased innocent black men whom they believe is the criminal. Its' racial profiling to a whole other level......Here is a blog to read on it....

I have read comments on the internet concerning many articles, blogs, etc, and am repulsed by what I am seeing.

Racism is far from dead. It's not even sick. It's just changed its coat.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Long-awaited Return to the blog world...

Oh my goodness it has been a while since I have blogged!! I have missed it! Soooooo this week has most certainly been an interesting one, but there is no surprise there! I am, however, slightly disappointed that I will be spending Valentine's day alone. :( I know, I know, who hasn't heard the whole "boo-hoo I'm alone on V-day" sob story from single buddies the week leading up to the infamous lovers holiday....WELLLLL give me my moment, OK? And for clarification, I am not single, just in a long-distance relationship, which makes my v-day loneliness even more depressing....But I at least have someone who loves me, so I am thankful! Mk, so things in the news: the new SI cover model was picked the other day. (Not that I care) Oh, and there have been "blizzard-like" conditions over most of the east coast the past few days....(Also very boring news)....Basically, the deal is, I have nothing very exciting to say, as I lead a very boring life. BUT if something comes up, I will be back!

Question of the day: Should children who have committed heinous crimes be tried as adults?

Sunday, January 17, 2010


So I have definitely had one of those BLEH weekends. You know, the ones where you are so bored you ACTUALLY wouldn't mind organizing and cleaning? And I am actually tired of watching movies and worthless television....quite odd! But at the same time, with the current news this week, I had to think about how lucky I am to have a warm, safe, place to sleep and food to eat throughout my boredom. The past week I have been reading and hearing about the terrible tragedy in Haiti, and the struggle for all of the aids workers to provide the citizens with food, water, clothing, and a safe place to sleep. Its like hurricane Katrina all over again. (Aside from the fact that this time the U.S. government response was immediate, and not delayed by 3 or four freaking days!!) Its so sad that so many lives are lost, and so many people are still trapped under concrete, wood, and other debris, and may never be found. Why does it take a disaster for people of this world to notice the poverty and destitute living of others?? People are acting surprised by the conditions of Haiti....Just wondering, where have you guys been the last 50 years????

This and more has been frustrating me this week. This week has been....dramatic, irritating, frustrating, and trivial. Thousands of people are dying and we are worried about drama? We should really grow up and get a grip. Myself included. Right now, I am thankful for being alive!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Michael Cera.....

So I just saw Youth in Revolt with one of my girlfriends tonight.....And I have decided its official: Michael Cera can only play one character. It seems, that after his stunning debut on Superbad, movies like Juno, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and now Youth and Revolt have legitimately created a character just for him. And frankly, although his odd, dry, witty humor can be quite captivating, its frankly getting old. I thought acting was about playing different roles, and doing so really well? Apparently, I am mistaken. At any rate, that was my vent for the evening.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I. AM. A huge geek.....

Is it strange that I listened to a phone commercial, loved the song, proceeded to search for and download it, and am currently rocking out to it right now?? Maybe. ORRR it could be sheer genius. Check out Sleepyhead by Passion Pit on YOUTUBE!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Frugal? Or kinda cheap?

Ok, so if you are in the mood for a visit to the movie theatre these days, you're fixin' to drop at least 15 bucks on the ticket, popcorn and a drink for a primetime flix. So, since I think its highway robbery how much theatres charge for snacks, I have employed a large purse for each of my movie-going trips....I stock it full of drinks, and candy for whoever is seeing a movie with me, and have no shame. After all, I did just spend $9.50 to watch a mediocre movie...But last week at a movie with my man, I discovered the grandaddy of all money-pinching for movie theatre trips. Re-using old popcorn bags. You see, if you buy popcorn once in a re-fillable popcorn bag, eat it, empty the leftovers, then you should fold that bag right up and take it with you! SOOO you can bring your old bag back each time you want that clog-your-arteries buttery snack....When I told family members my GENIUS discovery, I was chastized and told how tacky it what do you think? Good way to save a few on the timeless dinner and a movie date? Or ridiculously tacky and cheaptastic??