Friday, December 18, 2009

Fun with color

I started playing with a cool thing on a bridesmaid dress Web site called the Dessy Group. They (obviously) sell bridesmaid dresses and other accessories, but they also attempt to offer you a place to do all your shopping so you can get colors that match. While I don't care for bothering to buy everything there only, they do have a cool tool that I'm using to brainstorm wedding details. It's called a styleboard. You pick various colors and then go through their images or upload your own. Then you pick what images you like and then add them to the board. It essentially makes a collage of color that you can use later as you plan your wedding. Here's the first one I made (with an ivory, hunter, yellow and apple color palette):

Friday, December 11, 2009

First Christmas?

Travis and I have our very first Christmas tree. While it may not be the first Christmas that we've spent together, you could say that it sort of is our "First Christmas." And that realization has got me thinking.
We've known for a very long time (I would pinpoint June 2006 if you need a time frame) that we were (as we promised to ourselves) "in it for the long haul."
Until September, that was just an abstract promise. It became very real Sunday, September 6, 2009. Little things like setting up the tree, making dinner together and snuggling on the couch with hot cocoa while we watch a movie are things we'll be doing for the rest of our lives.
Sometimes I live too much in the future, looking forward to when I'll finally go to grad school, how awesome life will be when we move to Oregon, even the great times we'll have when we finally adopt a dog. I've learned it cheapens the present.
But moments like last night, when we turned off all the lights to look at how our cheapo Big Lots lights beautified our not so perfect tree (with its own set of imperfections and holes), when we got lost in a hug contemplating the moment and nothing else; that's where I want to live. Not in the regrettable past or the unknowable future. Right here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Giving thanks for ample amounts of food

I know you have to be holding your breath, waiting for me to reveal what I ate for Thanksgiving. Well, sadly I worked on Thanksgiving (such is the profession I joined and the propensity of my boss to schedule for every single holiday that he can possibly come up with). Thankfully, my dad was able to visit the week before, and I decided to have a Thanksgiving-esque feast to commemorate (and cause I love cooking food).

  • Apple-cranberry pork roast
  • Candied sweet potatoes
  • Red-skinned mashed potatoes (no photo)
  • Green bean casserole (no photo)
  • Orange-cranberry sauce
  • Spaghetti Squash gratin
Most of these are straightforward recipes, but I will include photos of all and recipes for the the three things that I had never made before.

First, the easiest: Apple-cranberry pork roast.
Line the bottom of a crock pot with a layer of onion slices and a layer of apple (peeled) slices. Place pork roast (any cut you want, with fat trimmed out. Leave the bone in, but don't forget to take it back out). Cover roast with chopped cranberries and more apple slices. Whisk salt, pepper, 1/4 cup of honey, 1/4 of apple cider and a 1/4 of orange juice. Pour mix over it. It will look like this:

Pretty, right? Next, cover and turn the pot on high for about two hours. At this point I pull out the bone, flip the meat and turn it down to low. Cook until it's done or you are ready to eat. Baste occassionally. It will look like this when its done:

Everything breaks down and makes an amazing sauce that is sweet and tangy and savory. It works on top of the mashed potatoes I made (no picture sorry.)

Next, I made spaghetti Squash gratin. Roast the squash however you like (I cut it in half, place it cut side down on a backing sheet and put it in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until it's tender.) Scoop out the filling. In a big bowl mix it with:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 t. dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, divided
Pour into pans and bake in the broiler uncovered until it keeps lightly browned on top.

I put a garnish of chopped tomatoes sauteed in garlic, basil and oregano on each serving just because it needed some acid to break through the richness of the cream.

I also made classic candied sweet potatoes (below). I chose to use real sweet potatoes as opposed to canned. It really did make a difference in the flavor and texture.

Lastly I made homemade cranberry sauce with the extra cranberries that I didn't use in the roast.

Here's the recipe since I had never made this before. The others I sort of made up myself, but this one I wanted to get right.

Orange-Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Yield: About 3 cups
1 pound (about 4 cups) cranberries
1- 3/4 cups white sugar
1/4 dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 cup triple sec
1/8 cup orange juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake until cranberries are tender and sugar is dissolved, stirring once, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, carefully remove the foil and allow the cranberry sauce to cool completely. Refrigerate cranberry sauce until well chilled. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead.)

My favorite thing I did with this sauce, was when it was still warm, I put it over vanilla ice cream. AWESOME. Definitely do this!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's all in the details...

Or so they say. So in our wedding planning, we've been starting small. Ridiculously small. We've compiled tiny details here and there, but nothing big has been decided not even the date. We haven't even written anything down. And so, here's a list of these details, lest I forget:

Detail number 1: We want calla lilies to be the dominant flower, likely supported by cheap, locally grown flowers. We'll probably buy in bulk and then make up our own arrangements. I mean really, why pay for someone to do something you can do just as well?

Speaking of arrangements, we've touched on the topic of vases, and I think we'll be searching thrift stores/garage sales and the like for random shapes, sizes and colors (mason jars and creative stuff would be cool too), so if you ever see one for real cheap (thrift is better than new here) feel free to grab it. We're talking price tags of no more than 2 or 3 dollars, tops.

Detail number 2: Outside. It was one of the first details we settled on and this is about the only big decision we've made so far. Both of us are close to nature and want to express that at the wedding. Plus, many of our adventures have involved going outside and exploring the world. I kind of picture an event with a huge tree as the focal point, with us right underneath. This decision is actually fairly big because it's pretty much gonna inform everything else, from the day to the actual place to costs and whatnot. In the end, it helped us decide on September as the month, though dates won't come until we actually narrow down where. We're looking at all the parks we can find in this area, and trying to figure out if this is feasible at all.

And that's it. We literally have no other ideas set in stone. There's a lot of questions surrounding this, but we seem sort of unable to actually get down to business and figure out what we want. We tend to decide to make a bunch of decisions, and then we look at one thing and sort of brainstorm about it, but come to no actual conclusion. It's probably not a good thing to put the two most indecisive people on the planet in charge of something like this.

For myself, I've tried to solve this by diving head first into the not-surprisingly ginormous fountain of information that is the wedding blogs currently floating around cyberspace. And while I tend to be inspired in the moment, it hasn't really come together into concrete plans for us. And I think the problem is the place. We can't really make any decisions at all until we find somewhere to have this shindig.

So in the meantime, what else have I been doing? Surprisingly, I've been drooling over wedding dresses. I know what you're thinking: The girl who's worn maybe 5 dresses in her lifetime (three of which were when I was, I don't know, 4 years old or so) is getting excited about a wedding dress, which I've always said is possibly the worst dress purchase ever made by a woman. But as Travis has recently been telling me (mostly when I apologize for watching Project Runway and America's Next Top Model): "You're allowed to be a girl, you know? I'm pretty sure this would not be working out if you weren't a chick."

And so, I offer recent drool-worthy dresses that I could see myself wearing:

1) The first is one from Eden Bridals. The company has many that I would wear at a reasonable price, too. For this one, I love the sleeves (LOVE THEM, like seriously), the bodice and the buttons down the back. The only thing that bothers me is that the train is a little long. How am I supposed to boogie on down with that (And trust me, there will be boogie-ing!)?

2) My next favorite is also from Eden Bridals (see what I mean by liking pretty much anything they are dishing out?) It can be found here. I like the criss-cross of the bodice, and I prefer the lace on this one to the diamond studded details on the first one, and I would much rather have this small train than the longer one. I miss the sleeves though, and the back on this one is a little bit more revealing than I would have like.

Instead of cluttering up my blog with even more photos, I'll just link the the others that I'm currently liking:

3) This one is from Alyce designs and is pretty bohemian. It was the first dress I liked when I found it, but now it's sort of dropped down the list.

4) I'm not sure why I'm drawn to this one (click the link, then go to Style 7113) so much. It seems a little over the top for me, and yet I really like it. Maybe the corset style waist? Or the sheer halter? It's pretty to look at, even if I'm pretty sure I would NEVER be able to pull it off.

What have I learned in my browsing so far? Well, there's a category universally known as "destination dresses." These are your dresses with a less is more attitude, and I prefer that. The bohemian look, with simple fabrics and small details, is the look for me. Giant poofy skirts, sleeveless dress and too much going on are no-no's for me. Also, most designers don't have stores. You have to find them in a bridal warehouse of sorts, or find them elsewhere online. The likelihood of finding these exact dresses is low (I assume) but who wants to join me at a few of the local places and see if I can find something I like?

Monday, October 12, 2009

A rant on journalism

Apparently journalists on both sides of the new media/old media line are supposed to be duking it out on a virtual battlefield as they fight for supremacy. What? Why can't we be friends (sing it with me). If you're still interested in my views on journalism, head over to my journalism blog, Between picas and html for a lovely rant on the so-called war between journalists. I'm thinking we need to raise a white flag or we're journalism as a whole is doomed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sunny days, starry nights

A flower blooms in Portland, (c) Beth Beck

The beginning of autumn has been lovely. Sunny days with sweet, cool tinge to the air give way to refreshing nights that seem to help the stars pop. I've always enjoyed being warm, but I think I prefer warming myself up with a cup of tea and thick sweater. Ah, Spring I miss you too. Your explosion of color to celebrate new birth. Your showers that wash the nasty grayness of winter away. But this is farewell for now. I hope to welcome your joyous blossoms soon, but for now, I think it's time for spiced hot apple cider, pumpkin carving and chili.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just to share...

I'm just popping on for a few moments to send you towards a blog I've been reading and amazed by for a few months now. A New York Magpie's Eye is a unique view of the everyday scenes of New York. Yet, this blogger seems to discover the beautiful and magical in the mundane that many New Yorkers largely ignore. Every day it seems that something stunning can be seen on the streets and inspire a few poetic words about life in that great city. Have a look at one of yesterday's shots that that fascinated and inspired me:

From A New York Magpie's Eye

Please go there and explore.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Off to Oregon I go...

Soon. So soon I can almost feel that undeniable giddiness at lifting off a slick runway and leaving the world you know behind. Sure, it's only 3,000 miles and a couple of hours. But for me, trips also involve shedding whatever has been dragging you down, if only for a few days. Work, stress, annoyance, bills, cleaning the house, getting this-and-that done for so-and-so: It all gets left behind. You don't think abou those things when you are somewhere you've either never been, or at least don't have memorized. You can't. There is too much to soak up from the place that you are going to. And it's lovely.
Sept. 5, at about 4:30 p.m., I will be flying out from Newport News on a 4-day trip to Oregon (Portland, Florence and Roseburg). I'll be doing the tourist thing, riding a horse on the beach at sunset and having a cookout with my favorite aunt and uncle. And soaking it all in. And just being, hopefull also being happy for the first time in a while. It's time to give myself a break. It really is. I'll share photos when I return.
Here's one, from a January visit to the Oregon coast:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Do you have this mental picture of yourself so that when someone asks you to describe yourself you can? I do. I've had a mental picture of the person I am boiled down to the basic adjectives that I always wanted to be described as. I guess the key here is 'want' cause I'm finding truths about my self (self in the sense of my emotions and viewpoints and habits) that I would have argued against until recently. I find that I am an angry person, quick to panicking over little things and impatient. I find that I like order, making lists, sticking to a routine. I find that I dislike being around new people, to the point that I can get physically sick if I'm subjected to them too much.

I've come to accept all these things about me, though many of them I hate.
I hate that I leap to anger so quickly, heart racing, curses flowing over something as stupid as someone not signaling when they change lanes in front of me.
I hate not being able to have a good time because 'having a good time' inevitably means 'being around people' and often means 'being around strangers.' I get apprehensive thinking about doing these things and then I syke myself out of doing them.
I hate that one of my biggest 'ideas' about myself (that I was just a laid back hippy at heart, who couldn't be contained by cubicles and would hate making lists and having structure and organization) turns out to be a massive lie. I'm not laid back. I'm uptight and easily disturbed, not by people making crude jokes or whatever, but by a change in schedule, deadline or organization.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shout out to my fellow nerds

The stereotype of a copy editor: "Copy editors are a bunch of nerds and dweebs and dorks, obsessive-compulsives preoccupied with minute distinctions invisible to normal human beings. It’s just as well that they work at nights, because no one would invite them to a party."
- John McIntyre, copy editor extraordinaire

After being angry over trying to clean the house before move-out time, I am glad to find something to laugh at. :-D

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Life update

I just got back from a weekend at my mother's house. I don't know if it's that place or the people there, but I never sleep well (bad dreams and all). So of course I've been really tired lately. I did enjoy getting to see my bird, my cat and my dog. I gave them plenty of the love and attention I'm sure my mom and stepdad are not providing right now. It was a joy to have someone by my side whenever I was at the house (inside it was my cat; outside it was my dog). I need a dog at home.

The reason I went up there was to scatter my grandmother's ashes. She died a while ago, but it was only last weekend that we could finally get organized enough to get it done. We went up to Skyline Drive and scattered off a beautiful overlook (pictured at left). It was sort of a surreal experience, especially because neither my father nor sister are much into crying in front of people, so I spent the whole time taking pictures so that I could divert my attention away from the sadness. My sister didn't want to go near the ashes and the whole time I was imagining accidently inhaling them and then having to sneeze out my grandmother's remains. I then thought that I would want to be cremated but I'm not sure I'd want to put anyone through the experience of having to scattered the burnt up particles of someone you loved and talked to and laughed with. I then immediately went into the bathroom and cried.

There are big things happening with my sister now. It's hard to figure out how to deal with a family member when such things happen. We may know too much about each other to really help each other. I would give her money, but she wouldn't accept it. All I can do is talk, but because I'm the younger sister who *seems* to have her shit together, she never wants to listen to me because I "have no idea where she's coming from."

All that has added up to a really dark mood lately. Which is affecting everything. I need a lift but I'm not sure where to get it. I'm going to an Umbilical Brothers show on Saturday. Maybe that will at least take my mind off things. Which is why I need a dog. I need a creature to divert my attention away from my life. *sigh*

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What about Bob?

Bob my lovely tomato plant, who up until a few days ago seemed set to produce a grand number of delicious (muhahaha) offspring, seems to have tried to commit suicide. It's sad really, but what can you do? Maybe my pot was too small or the fact that the sun hasn't really shone for the past couple of days made living too difficult for the little guy. I'm trying to ressurect him, but as of right now, I can only hope that his three surviving offspring will reach their deep-red maturity. As I was transporting my droopy, yellowing buddy to the town house, I almost started to cry. Which is silly...but still. *sigh*

Friday, June 5, 2009

A mandate for journalists

If you're still interested in some of my observations on journalism, go to to read a piece designed to get journalists to take responsibility for newspapers apparent death and for the resurrection of the industry.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Childhood hero(ine)

The first person I remember looking up to wasn't real. As with most children, I had my pick of figments to admire. I picked She-ra.
Now laugh if you want, but I think it reflects well on me to have picked a strong female figure as my first hero (or heroine). Too often little girls want to be Barbie or Hannah Montana when they grow up. I wanted to kick some Evil Horde ass with my trusty side-kick Spirit and a cadre of pals, including Kowl...another favorite.

Heroes exist for a reason. We look up to them. We learn from them. We even emulate them (though I've stuck more to looking like Princess Adora than sporting a white mini skirt and knee high boots like She-ra). It's good to wish to be better than you are. That helps us strive to be better people, to try to better humanity.
An important thing to remember though, and one not realized by most children, is that its okay to fail. And that there are other ways to try to better humanity than to call on the power of Grayskull and wield a sword to fight the Evil Horde. Smiling at a stranger can be heroic. Letting someone get in front of you on the road can be heroic. Who knows what pain and disaster you may be averting by just taking a moment to call an old friend to say hi.
Yeah that's something we should all learn. With that in mind, tomorrow will be about a much more realistic hero.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tweeting life away...

I've had a Twitter for a while, but haven't brought myself to admit it. Then I got a Blackberry and hey, you're supposed to use that for Twittering/Tweeting right? Anyway, here it is:
I haven't really gotten the hang of saying stuff in under 140 characters, but we'll see.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

PS: I hung with this puppy again today and I'd really love to get her adopted. Spread the word to your friends, coworkers, people you pass on the street, etc.


Cinnamon is a beautiful 1 year old German shephard mix. She's sweet and loves to gives kisses. She needs lots of exercise, but is always willing to squeeze onto your lap when she's taking a break. Please adopt her (you can get her for a discounted $59 that includes microchip, spaying, shots, leash, collar, training video, and free check-up at a local vet). She's been at the shelter for several months now.
Call Peninsula SPCA - 757-595-1399

Can you guess why we call her Cinnamon? This photp reveals her honey-brown fur a little better. And her ridiculously cute flop to her ear.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bob the tomato update

Bob has finally grown some tomatoes! I was so excited. Right now I have three, with several more blossoms looking like they will soon be growing tomatoes too. YAY!

Saturday, May 2, 2009


This is me on most days. Maybe I should really think about dropping my caffeine intake. But, really, where's the fun in that?

PS: You should totally read Sheldon. It's a lovely and amusing comic strip. Who knew a boy-genius, his grandfather, a talking duck and a tiny lizard could be so funny?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh but New Orleans is too far away...

Ray LaMontagne continues to bring my mood back up whenever I'm down. Even though this song isn't quite the style I've been known to enjoy, halfway through I suddenly felt like I should be in a bar in New Orleans drinking and cheering to the upbeat and diverse music in the song. Take a listen. And while you're at it, start using Grooveshark. It is awesome.
"Hey Me, Hey Mama" by Ray LaMontagne

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


River Rock Moss Terrarium, from Greenbriar's Etsy

I would love to buy this beautiful little terrarium. I am intrigued by the little world contained in a glass vessel for all to see. It would make the perfect companion to brighten my nights at work and green up my desk (unfortunately not next to my ancient typewriter because I do not own one).

You know what other item could 'lighten' my day? This one could try:

25 watts, by Steamed Glass on Etsy

This one was placed in an ACTUAL LIGHT BULB. A 25 watter, if you couldn't already guess. Aren't these just the coolest little things? I wish I had the creativity to come up with these. If only I didn't so completely hate spending money...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Moving to a new venue

Hello my rabid followers (all four of you). Most of you are not journalists and started following this blog before I converted it to include mostly my reflections on the industry. I have come to the conclusion that this is not fair, to myself and you.
I enjoy writing on journalism and the future of newspapers as I continue my journey in the field. But I also miss being able to include some of my own personal musings. It seemed like a good idea at the time to be totally professional on this blog.
In the interest of pleasing myself and my readers (by now there's probably only three of you since you've gotta be bored), I'm splitting my blogging personality in two.
One Night to Search for Truth will remain here, recording my personal journey through life for my friends. The journalistic component of this blog will move, forcing me to lug all my journalistic musings (and post-deadline alcohol) over to a site I created last year at It doesn't have a name yet, since this blog is keeping its creative-based handle. But I do have a URL for you to visit if you wish to continue reading my musings on the state of journalism:
As you can see, that site is really my professional site. It includes not only my blog, but also a page for journalistic clips and a page for my resume.
So this blog is reverting back to its original form as a personal blog with a touch of the creative. Stick around.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blooming Bob

So Bob (my aforementioned tomato plant) has begun blooming and has several buds ready to start popping out the babies - baby tomatoes that is. YAY. I was soooo excited that I took a picture of them.

Bob the tomato plant (at home on my sunny front porch)

Bob is preggers...

Bob's first baby

Bob's gonna need a new bed (read: pot) soon. In other Spring news, my lavender seeds have grown a sprout, emphasis on the singular article (a). The other seeds are still hibernating. I'd have a picture, but lavender seedlings are TINY (note the typographical irony).

Have you forgotten that I am a Journalism major who enjoys designing in newsprint?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ready for Spring

Well I am officially ready for Spring...especially now that it feels like Spring may be here to stay. And so, I purchased Bob, my tomato plant. I'm hoping he'll grow big and strong and make some yummy tomatoes (since the ones in the groceries stores are so disappointing). So here's my Bob (click images for a larger view):

He loves the sun!

I'm expecting him to get much bigger, so soon I'll be transplanting him. Unfortunately he's doomed to a container for the rest of his life because we have to ask permission to plant and I don't want to leave him behind when I move anyway.
I also planted fresh mint, chamomile and lavender. I'm growing them from seed so I won't have picture for a few weeks, and they won't be very big for a month and half or so.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Peppers

Happy Peppers
Originally uploaded by Beth Beck

It's been raining here for days and days and days. And if it isn't raining, the sky is still overcast. So needless to say, the constant lack of sunshine and the gray world has begun to get to me.
But I have found the cure and, mostly because I'm me, the cure tastes GOOOD.

Travis is bringing me stuffed peppers tonight. I did most of the prep work already. All he has to do is stuff them and then put them in the oven and bake them until all is yummy and good. Peppers are beautiful and I love them. I've been meaning to get around to stuffing them for ages and finally they went on sale so I could actually afford a couple of the colorful ones (yellows are actually my absolute favorite). Stuffing of choice? Ground chuck seasoned with Cumin, chili powder, pepper and garlic. Mixed with that is mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, mild green chilis and sundried tomato couscous (another favorite food). Cover all that with cheese and panko bread crumbs and we have a delicious, warm pick me up.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I'll be back...I swear

I've been missing. I know. In fact, I'm not really sure what I've been doing with myself. Between launching a redesign, taking over some new responsbilities and training for them at work and trying not to get sick, my schedule has been less than ideal. And I've been quite tired.

Anyway, I will be returning for regularily scheduled posts. Though I have still been reading my blogs. Most recent interesting one?

The blogger on 'Recovering Journalist' writes, "Newspapers are dead. The future is now. Let's start finding the best ways to serve the audience that's clamoring for something that puts the 'new' back into news."

Well said.

What's that you see?

Why yes, that is snow you see. Snow on our back porch in Hampton Roads...the place where it NEVER snows...not for real anyway.
What's that you say?
Why yes: We were surprised, too. So surprised, that we didn't bother bringing our bikes or grill inside to spare them the cold:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Amid the noise

I often forget how mesmerizing Joseph Conrad is to me. The love affair started in high school with the infamous Heart of Darkness. Since then, I've been able to get lost in many Conrad adventures.
Time slow with Conrad, though it doesn't stand still. Restless in my too-full house, I went to Barnes&Noble (what I wouldn't do for a small, independent bookstore) looking for a coffee and a quick browse through the collection. The thing with B&N is that it is not the place to read a book. Unlike cozy independent stores, there are no nooks and crannies to get lost in. You can't hide from the conversations and the people browsing and gossiping for no reason.
But with Conrad I could. Stuck between a toe tapper who obviously just wanted to sit in a chair to lounge around and a couple waiting gossiping about their parents in the next chair, I almost threw in the towel. But then I got swept away in Conrad's The Shadow-Line: A Confession. An hour later I was shook out of the humid world of the Southeast Asian coast to realize that an hour was indeed gone, as were the annoying couple and the lazy toe-tapper.
I promptly bought Shadow-Line (though you can read for free at the above link if you are crazy enough to think reading on computer screens will ever replace the organic beauty of print), as well as The Secret Agent.

Thanks Conrad.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Taming the beast...

Let's face it, news in its current state is kind of a beast. With so many people reporting their own versions of a story, and so many stories existing from small-town America to sprawling investigations into international topics, its hard to keep up with the news.
But one site attempts to tame the beast and deliver a daily dose of news in the form a sleek pussycat that is easily manageable.
It's called the Daily Beast. The site is a news aggregate that, according to their site, is: "a speedy, smart edit of the web from the merciless point of view of that interests the editors. The Daily Beast is the omnivorous friend who hears about the best stuff and forwards it to you with a twist. It allows you to lead the conversation, rather than simply follow it."

The site's best feature is it's Cheat Sheet, which offers "Must reads from all over." This the feature that makes it a news aggregate.
But they go further, working to connect big stories together through a feature called the Big Fat Story. Offering a version of the brainstorming cloud, the site connects the most important little stories that fill out a specific topic. The cloud is displayed as representative images connected with lines. The topics are changed whenever a big development or two happens in the story.
Craig Stolz over at Web 2.0h...Really? has a great comparison between Daily Beast and Huffington Post (another news aggregate). As he says (among other observations):
"DB (The Daily Beast) views the world with a cocked eyebrow. HuffPo is
wide-eyed. Skeptics are more interesting to spend time with than

The Daily Beast is a really smart example of online journalism and is quite enjoyable to explore.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Friday

Sorry for the late post, but I was driving to my mom's house most of the day. For today's post I will share a photo of Lucia, the weimaraner puppy that my mom bought in April. She's now almost a year and quite big. The best part about the photo? It includes the only snow I've seen this entire winter (including some that Lucia just had to eat). Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Back in the education saddle again...

Alright, so everyone knows that I hate not being in school. It's a part of my identity as this post explains. So I started scoping out the online classes offered on's NewsU and through MediaBistro. And I finally applied and was accepted into an online course from MediaBistro. The course is called "Reinventing Print Content for the Web." The title is self-explanatory and falls very easily into my goals for this site. Anyway, because the course involves a live Tuesday night chat, I thought I'd change my Wednesday posts to observations from the course for the next few weeks. Enjoy or ignore. It's up to you!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Forgive me for my absence

Sorry for my prolonged absence. Things got a little crazy the last few weeks. But not to worry: I am still here and ready to blog. I have never been a fan of music videos. I think most of them lack creativity. A lot of them are just the singer walking around singing while members of the opposite sex run around them. But lately, especially with relatively unknown musicians, there seems to be an uptick in creativity.
After browsing Buzz Sugar's latest updates, I found a post on Oren Lavie, an Israeli composer/singer. His beautiful music video utilizes stop motion techniques with a camera hung over a bed to show the hidden adventures of a young woman. Stop motion (think The Nightmare Before Christmas) uses thousands of still frames of methodically placed scenes and edited together to create a beautiful masterpeice. Look for the twirling dance scene created while they are still laying down. His music also has a beautiful ethereal quality to it. It's actually really hard to describe so just watch the video below.

Monday, January 19, 2009

There's a very specific hierarchy in any newspaper. Essentially it's this: The publisher is boss. If he or she doesn't like it, then it changes. For a while now, we've also been relying on this power to get journalism out of this mess. This obviously hasn't amounted to much.

It's time to admit that the responsibility of saving the media really lies in every journalists' hands. Gina Chen at Save the Media blog has a post entreating journalists to step up to the plate. Most of us have been fully happy with waiting until our company gets around to asking us if we want to learn anything new. But a large problem seems to be that companies aren't there yet. They don't have the funds to train all employees, nor the psychic powers to know which ones are willing to train for new media jobs. To solve these problems, Chen points out steps that every journalist can take to help save the media:

  • Educate yourself: Only you have the power to jump-start your training in online journalism. It can be a simple as playing around with your newspaper's video camera (with permission of course) to starting your own blog, just to get a feel for the medium.

  • Reach out to others: There's likely to be someone at your paper with the knowledge to give you some unofficial training. It's all about experiencing something new so you can be that much more prepared to blow your editors away with an innovative suggestion.

  • Read, read, read: There are hundreds of blogs out there with wonderful tips on journalism and even more on the basics of navigating the online world. See my blogroll for some of my favorites. You can use those to find others and so on.

As Chen writes at the end of her post: "Be part of the solution."

Friday, January 16, 2009

The wonderful Bill Bryson

For the past couple months (and believe me you'll need that long if you don't have that much time to read) I've spent much of my free time reading the perfect book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I've blogged about this author before and have since spread an interest in him by using his books as gifts for several people.

To put it succinctly, this book is perfect. As the back of the book says, "Bill Bryson confronts his greatest challenge: to understand - and, if possible, answer - the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves." Though on the long side, it's chapters are written in more of an anecdotal form. This means you can pick up pretty much anywhere and not feel lost. And his anecdotes are a mixture of amusing and informational. With chapter titles such as "How to build a universe" and "The restless ape," readers get a sense of his simple, succinct wit and ability to dilute years and years of scientific history into a relatively short 475 pages in the paperback copy (we're talking billions and billions of years here!).

Bottom line
This is the book that will make you fall in love with Bill Bryson's writing style and make you welcome scientific and mathematical insights, even if you don't have the best handle on the two subjects.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New media

I've always been enamored with print journalism (as a previous post attests). The smell of the ink right off the press, the crinkle of newsprint, the inherent trust that I have for the printed word...It all brings me back to my roots. But print is heading out of style, mostly because of the price of upkeep. And what is replacing it? Online journalism, at its finest. What started as a bunch of uploaded articles from the print version, has turned into a dynamic feed of news that offers almost immediate updates and brand new ways of looking at news. From New York Times' dynamic feature on Election Day that showed how the audience was feeling about the election in real time to the Salt Lake Tribune's effort to put news on the map for readers, journalism is evolving at a rapid pace. And in fact, many traditional print journalists are, understandably, jumping ship to online.
The one thing that must be said is that we still need journalism. That much is obvious. But the creators of the new world of online journalism need to tread carefully. We can't fully abandon the principle of print just because we are working in a new medium.
According to Virginia Heffernan, writing her column The Medium in the Dec. 5 issue of the NY Times' Sunday Magazine:
"The third argument says we have to change. We have to develop content that metamorphoses in sync with new ways of experiencing it, disseminating it and monetizing it. This argument concedes that it’s not possible to translate or extend traditional analog content like news reports and soap operas into pixels without fundamentally changing them. So we have to invent new forms. All of the fascinating, particular, sometimes beautiful and already quaint ways of organizing words and images that evolved in the previous centuries — music reviews, fashion spreads, page-one news reports, action movies, late-night talk shows — are designed for a world that no longer exists. They fail to address existing desires, while conscientiously responding to desires people no longer have."

Her argument revolves around the assumption that readers don't want to see the features of a newspaper placed directly online. This argument is fundamentally true. But what we do need is to figure out how to translate the principles of newspapers to online media.
A new study sponsored by the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Associated Press Managing Editors explores the so-called "online credibility gap" and what readers want from their online news. The report discovered many things, but one thing that is surprising is that many of the people surveyed said that online journalism benefits from the principles of print journalism. According to the report:
"Both the public and editors thought all the basics such as 'verifying information,'
'getting the facts right,' 'correcting mistakes,' and both journalists and users 'taking
responsibility for accuracy' should be practiced to support good journalism online."

Journalists should take note and realize that we can't abandon print journalism principles just because we've gone online. While we can stretch our creative processes and come up with some great ways to present the news, we will never have to worry about not being needed or wanted by the public. Offering accurate, unbiased news will always be considered important.

All that being said, I am now trying to decide whether to continue to pursue a print-heavy career, or to completely immerse myself in online journalism. I'm beginning to lean towards online just because of all the new and creative potential it offers for bringing the news to readers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The plans

This is basically an update to this post, which was my original introductory post. Quite a few things have chanced since 2007, including my plans for this blog.
A few things you should know:
  • I graduated from college in May 2008, where I was the Editor in Chief of the school's weekly newspaper.
  • Since then I've been working as a copy editor at the Daily Press, a community-minded paper covering Hampton Roads, Virgina
  • I've also segued into page design and uploading stories/pictures to our Web site.

So with all that said, my purpose is to chronicle a young journalist's beginning in an industry that is quickly evolving. Through the journey I'll share my reflections on the medium and my experiences learning the new tools that journalists will need to survive. I'll begin by updating three times a week (MWF). Monday and Wednesday will always be about journalism and my quest to find my place in it, while Friday will be a grab-bag day. Friday's will include random finds on the net, reviews of books I'm reading, an exploration of a really neat article I've read or some photos I've taken recently.

So, welcome to the new Search for Truth.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm back...Cue the resolutions

Whew! Why that was a lovely break. Why did I need one? Well I was getting really obsessed with feeling the need to blog about every little thing that I see on the nets and feeling guilty when I do no have the time or energy to do so. I also needed time to remake this blog into what I want it to be: A voice on journalism and a young journalist's place in it.

I am sorry if I scared anyone with my last post. I'm never leaving journalism! I'm just unsure what my specific path in said career will be. I am currently enjoying my growing responsibilities at the Daily Press. I have quickly learned that being tasked with one specific job throughout the night makes for a very boring eight (or nine or 10) hours. But when I have many jobs (editing, designing, etc.) the night seems to fly and I am able to just enjoy working, instead of thinking about all the things that are worrying me.

So, I'm sure you're waiting eagerly for my conclusion. Well, to be honest I have finally made peace with the fact that I will not know where my path lies until I trip over it (Literally. I'm quite clumsy, you know). I can only try to prepare as best as I can. With that in mind, I am working on a few things:

  • Online Journalism: For Christmas I was given Adobe CS3 Design Suite and a couple of manuals for learning the programs within this package. I am working to become a pro at Dreamweaver CS3 and have a good handle on HTML and CSS so that I can then market those talents. In a side note, The Missing Manual series is really good. It manages to be succinct yet in depth, as well as serious yet, at times, amusing.
    My goal? To build an online resume of my work that I could then use in my job search as well as an example of my expertise.

  • Design: My version of CS3 includes InDesign. While this is the best program (in my opinion) for design, the industry is definitely using a few other programs. I have a version of Quark (basically the off-brand version of InDesign) that I hope to begin learning on soon. The Tribune company uses CCI (basically a publishing/linking system) that has its own program called LayoutChamp. My job has been letting me get more and more experience with this program and I can pretty much do everything necessary to function as a full-time page designer elsewhere.
    My goal? To begin building up my design clips so that I will be able to prove that I am qualified for such a position.

  • Teaching: The first step before I can become a professor is to get into and complete graduate school. Preferably I'd like to get all the way up to a Ph.D. in one fell swoop, but I know that may not be possible. So, right now I am trying to come up with alternative education routes that will take me closer to becoming a professor. My goal? Retake my GRE. I know I said I never wanted to take it again after I took it once and got a great score. But I barely studied for the first try and I'm curious to see how much my scores will improve if I actually buckled down to study. I'd also like to decide on a grad school now so I can plan my job search around places near the schools I'm interested in.

  • Photograpy: I'd like to return to my roots and get back into photography. I have so much around me to be inspired by. It's time I gave myself a chance to receive that inspiration. I'm also looking at building my skill in Photoshop so I can also edit my digital photos and eventually market those skills.

So I guess we can look at this list as a list of journalism-related resolutions. Good luck to me! And stay tuned for how I will soon be organizing this blog better and getting it in shape to be a good example of my work.