"I can go the distance," said Herc.

"I can go the distance," said Herc.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Most Embarrassing Moment Ever... Revealed

Alrighty. After about a week and a half of putting it off, I am now revealing my most embarrassing moment ever experienced. I am fairly certain it will be the most embarrassing moment in my entire life, but at least it's easier to laugh about now.

Currently, I am the communications intern for the Utah Senate. If you are a lobbyist, don't try to talk to me to get an "in" with my senator, because
a) I don't have a senator (ha!) and
b) My boss makes his own appointments

Anyway, as I am the communications intern, I get to do a lot of fun stuff like run around taking photos, shoot video, write blog posts, set up live press conferences, sit around reading the news/scowl at the computer, etc. Well, a few days before the legislative session started, I was sitting in my "office" (a corner of a counter by the pages room) talking with another employee who sometimes helps out with communications stuff, and my boss came over and handed me the agenda for the Utah Taxpayers Association's Pre-Legislative Conference. Discovering it started about an hour ago, I asked my boss what he wanted me to do with it.

"Go and record the senators talking, and then post a podcast," he said, pulling out this gigantic black digital voice recorder the size and bulk of an old-school cassette player. I stared at it a moment, wondering if the batteries even had enough juice. It looks like a relic, but at least it's digital, I reasoned.

With my co-worker beside me, I headed over to the East building to the conference and recorded it. There were a lot of middle-aged people there, looking bored/ slightly interested at the same time as they clutched the pamphlets left on the chairs. Near the end, this guy from the taxpayers association stood up and announced there will be a press conference in the Capitol's main building in fifteen minutes. My co-worker and I shrugged and decided it would be cool to go record it for another podcast. Little did I realize....

On the walk back to the main building (which is like 3 minutes, but it's not fun in cold weather), lines from the film Super 8 kept running through my head: "Production value!" and "This is mint!" We were on a roll!

Anywho, we showed up rather early. The Capitol Boardroom has this big, long, gaudy-looking table surrounded by super comfortable leather chairs in the middle, but the organizers of the press conference decided to have a nice podium in the corner instead. Other, lesser but still comfy chairs lined the walls. We sat in the row behind the podium and a little off to the side, thinking it was far enough to not make us look like the speakers. People started trickling in: reporters, staff members, legislators. President Waddoups of the Senate walked over to us and said a friendly hello because he recognized us, and then sat on the other side of my co-worker. First overlooked sign of trouble.

Then, my boss came in, spotted us, and told me to be sure we got this recorded for a podcast. Already ahead of ya! I thought. Then everyone around me stood up and took turns shaking this man's hand, so I followed suit. He proceeded to sit two spaces down from me, closer to the podium. It took me a few seconds to realize that was Governor Herbert. So, the seating arrangement went as follows: podium, Governor Herbert, chair, end table, Lis, co-worker, President Waddoups, and House Speaker Lockhart. Suddenly I realized where we were sitting, and saw that my boss and all the staff were sitting along a different wall, away from the camera and obviously not with the speakers. A big camera with the Fox 13 label was now set up and pointing at the podium. Gulp.

Before I knew it, the same taxpayers association man was standing and talking. He was introducing the reason we were here today to the camera and crowd of reporters on the other side of the room. Then, I had another realization: With all my ample time, I forgot to put my gigantic voice recorder on the podium. Well, I'll just walk over and place it on the edge of the conference table, I thought. The recording won't be nearly as good of quality, but people will still be able to hear it. Besides, who listens to podcasts, anyway?

My boss had other ideas. He leaned over from his chair and whispered loud at me, "Lis, put it on the podium!" --pointing and repeating his words.

President Waddoups tried to help me, too. With a kind smile, he said, "Go ahead. Put it up there." Now I had my boss, his boss, and my co-worker urging me to put it up there in loud whispers, and all the while this guy from the tax association is smiling nervously at the camera, no doubt reveling in his 15 seconds of fame, introducing the keynote speaker. I looked down at the bulky recorder, and up at the podium. Suddenly it seemed even further away, and twice as big. Not while this guy is talking, I thought. I would have to set it next to the Fox 13 microphone and tiny shiny recorders the other reporters had foresight to place before the guy got going. Then my co-worker offered to put it up there for me, and I knew I had to do it for the sake of my pride.

So I stood up, trying to think as small as possible, and hurried over to the podium, trying to duck low as I came in camera view. Thank heavens this wasn't important enough to be live. And then, the man speaking stopped. I could feel his eyes boring through my skull, and everyone else in the room staring at me wondering, "What on earth is she doing? Can't she tell we're in the middle of a press conference here?"

Clunk! My mammoth-size recorder banged on the podium louder than I'd intended. I hurried back to my seat, and he resumed his introduction, his possible chance at being on tonight's TV no doubt ruined. My boss gave me a thumbs up.

Then the governor stood up and gave a great speech about Utah's economy, followed by President Waddoups and then Speaker Lockhart. I did my best to look like I belonged in the front, even though I am certain all the reporters were wondering how I got so lucky to sit up by the governor and the taxpayer association guy was sending daggers my way with his eyes. I'm pretty sure my face was redder than our state.

As soon as it was over, with taxpayers association guy still glaring at me, I collected my recorder and hurried away. My boss later told me I did the right thing and to never be embarrassed about doing that because all reporters do it, but I was humiliated for several hours anyway. Now, I can laugh. It really is a funny story. Also, it is a good thing I never wanted to join the Utah Taxpayers Association.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January: Lessons Learned

Aside from figuring out how to set up a live stream with a video camera (Which is not easy), I feel I have learned a lot in the last month. Here are a few maxims:

  • All the stereotypes about politicians are true.
  • When someone asks you to do something for them and you are too busy, you can say no.
  • UNLESS your job is on the line. Then you rearrange your priorities and make it top priority.
  • The Frontrunner does not wait for buses that arrive at the station right at leaving time, even if you run.
  • It is possible to get up at 5 a.m.
  • It is also possible to fall asleep in the middle of family scripture study, when you are the one currently reading aloud.
  • They really do bang a gavel to start the daily Senate session.
  • Certain reporters are rather snooty when you politely ask them to move their chair two inches so you can get their faces on camera.
  • You can't change anyone's opinions, and if they try to change you, get rid of them.
  • The UPS man needs the correct address to deliver a package. Even if you work in the most prominent building in town. 
  • It smells really bad on the Trax.
  • Taking the initiative is often encouraged and impresses your boss with your mad skills.
  • Unless you mess up. Then, taking the initiative was a bad idea.
  • When you accidentally interrupt a press conference, pretend like you belong there. Smile, and try to look as nondescript as possible so the man at the pulpit whom you interrupted forgets your face.
  • Never upset the secretaries. They can be either your friend or your worst enemy.
  • Never upset the pages. If you do, suck up like your life depends on it, because it probably does.
  • People are more friendly on public transportation.
  • The radio/Pandora/my mp3 player has a sick sense of humor in depressing situations.
  • Best friends are always the cure for a broken heart.
And most importantly, the Lord knows your needs and is only waiting for you to ask for help. He will send it in some of the most unexpected ways, but it will be just right for what you need. There are a lot of people who have no idea how much they've affected me with their kind actions and passing words when I needed them most. Thanks, everyone. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

30 Things to Do Before I'm 30

I love making lists. Here's a life list:
  1. Kiss on top of the Empire State Building
  2. Run a bookstore
  3. Write a book/attempt to get it published
  4. Be published in a national magazine
  5. Go river rafting
  6. Visit Europe
  7. Get a job in D.C.
  8. Eat dinner at a 5-Star restaurant
  9. Have high tea 
  10. Meet the president of the United States
  11. Interview a foreign dignitary
  12. Post a YouTube video that goes viral
  13. Attend Sundance Film Festival
  14. Learn to sail
  15. Eat sushi in a traditional sushi restaurant 
  16. Become proficient in Spanish, and fluent in German
  17. Date a man who writes me a song and sings it to me
  18. Go on a cross-country roadtrip
  19. Go skydiving
  20. Become an expert in Italian cooking
  21. Become proficient at driving manual
  22. Get paid to travel
  23. Spend a week in India with a guru
  24. Ride a camel
  25. Restore a 1965 Mustang
  26. Read the biographies of 15 U.S. presidents
  27. Restore a house
  28. Take a self defense class
  29. Kiss a complete stranger
  30. Earn a pilot's license
Of course I want to do things like get married and have kids by age 30, but these are goals I have more control over. This is not the first list I've made--nor do I suspect it will be the last. But, I really want to do these things. I want to look back on my life and say, "I've gone for the gold. I've shot for the moon and made it. I achieved my dreams." One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain. He said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.Explore. Dream. Discover."

And that's what I intend to do. Don't ever tell me I can't do something, because I will prove you wrong.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

John Adams Rocks

Always an honest man, often a great one, but sometimes absolutely mad.
--Thomas Jefferson, about John Adams

The other day I was looking up quotes by John Adams and found myself actually laughing out loud--genuinely laughing. I found a new respect for America's second president. He's quite witty, and very profound. Here are some of my favorite John Adams quotes:

Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.
  • Letter to Abigail Adams (27 April 1777), published as Letter CXI in Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife (1841) edited by Charles Francis Adams, p. 218
I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.
  • Letter to Abigail Adams (12 May 1780)
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
  • Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials (4 December 1770)

Abigail Adams
You bid me burn your letters. But I must forget you first.
--Letter to Abigail Adams (28 April 1776)

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
  • Letter to Jonathan Jackson (2 October 1780), "The Works of John Adams", vol 9, p.511

You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.
  • Letter to John Quincy Adams (14 May 1781)

Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.
  • Letter to Edmund Jenings (1782), as quoted in John Adams (2008) by David McCullough, p. 272

All the perplexities, confusions, and distresses in America arise, not from defects in their constitution or confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.
    • Letter to Thomas Jefferson (23 August 1787), The Works of John Adams

I read my eyes out and can't read half enough. ... The more one reads the more one sees we have to read.
  • Letter to Abigail Adams (28 December 1794), Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society

My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived; and as I can do neither good nor evil, I must be borne away by others and meet the common fate.
  • On the Vice-Presidency of the United States, in a letter to Abigail Adams (19 December 1793)

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.
  • Letter to Benjamin Rush (18 April 1808)
Thomas Jefferson
You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other.
--Letter to Thomas Jefferson (13 July 1813)

I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.
  • Letter to Thomas Jefferson (3 September 1816), published in Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams (UNC Press, 1988), p. 488.

Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de très bon foi, believes itself right. Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.
  • Letter to Thomas Jefferson (2 February 1816)

Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.
  • Letter to his son, John Quincy Adams (13 November 1816)

No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it. He will make one man ungrateful, and a hundred men his enemies, for every office he can bestow.
  • Letter to Josiah Quincy III (14 February 1825)

Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.
  • As quoted by Josiah Quincy III, in Looking Toward Sunset : From Sources Old and New, Original and Selected (1865) by Lydia Maria Francis Child, p. 431

A pen is certainly an excellent instrument to fix a man's attention and to inflame his ambition.
  • (14 November 1760)

Virtue is the mistress of all things. Virtue is the master of all things.
  • (6 August 1796)

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.

When annual elections end, there slavery begins.

Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.

The world grows more enlightened. Knowledge is more equally diffused. Newspapers, magazines, and circulating libraries have made mankind wiser. Titles and distinctions, ranks and orders, parade and ceremony, are all going out of fashion.... Some truth there is in it; and if the opportunity were temperately improved, to the reformation of abuses, the rectification of errors, and the dissipation of pernicious prejudices, a great advantage it might be. But, on the other hand, false inferences may be drawn from it, which may make mankind wish for the age of dragons, giants, and fairies.
  • Discourses on Davila No. 13

And then I love the song in 1776 where Adams and Jefferson are at each other's throats....

Source: WikiQuote.org