Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Crown Jewels

Get this:
Miss Maine's crown turns up missing
September 29, 2009 17:43 EDT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- The woman crowned Miss Maine in June is missing a key piece of her wardrobe.

Susie Stauble of Gray is without a crown after someone stole it from her car last week.

Stauble tells WGME-TV that she kept the crown in a special brown box in the back seat of her car. Last week, she discovered it was missing as she was preparing for a speaking engagement.

Stauble says replacing the crown would be expensive, so she hopes it's returned to her before January when she will represent Maine in the Miss America Pageant. -- WGME-TV,
Good God Miss Maine! You're keeping your jewels in "a special brown box" (cardboard) in the back seat of your car!?! Is that any way to treat your royal adornments? At least you could have kept them in the trunk...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some Good Writing

My friend Anne pointed me in the direction of this article in The Boston Globe. A professor at Boston University, Lou Ureneck talks about who got him interested in writing and reporting and what he feels is a responsibility to introduce writing to other young people.
I’m in a position now to pass along the gift of encouragement. This has been one of those marvelous life turns that seem too good to be true. The students who come to me mostly want to be journalists. They are drawn by the excitement of the news, the chance to do work that matters and the urge to write. I love them for wanting to be reporters.

As I work with them, I can’t help but think that there are many others out there in the world who deserve this gift of writing. I think of the young people who are not in college because they lack the money or encouragement. It’s the people in the worst circumstances who most would benefit from the chance to see that their experiences and observations have value, and that the value can be expressed by writing. I salute those teachers who bring writing programs to prisons. - Lou Ureneck
If I didn't write I don't know what I would do. It has helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. It helps me communicate in a way I can't do verbally. It has introduced me to some of the most interesting people I know.

As I write this one of my former students shares my office as an intern. How cool is that?

What Mimi Keeps Seeing: Sea Bags

Sea Bags. Cool idea but over priced and over hyped.

This company based in Portland, Maine started in 1999. They make cute tote bags out of recycled sails (as in sailboats). They make a killing on them, too, since the sails are recycled and donated and the bags run somewhere between $95 and $145. For people who want a little taste of New England, they're a huge hit. I'm just tired of seeing press about them EVERYWHERE!

Sure they're durable, waterproof, and you can throw them in the washing machine. But should they cost so much money? Maybe they DON'T cost a lot of money and I'm just poor. If that's the case let me know and I'll stop complaining.

I just feel like the constant press (they are being featured in the October issue of the new Maine magazine -- of course) and the fact that you can get one pretty much anywhere these days (I saw them at a couple shops in Bar Harbor on Sunday) takes the special-ness out of them.

As a business they are doing everything right to make money. Great PR (they've been featured in magazines like Vanity Fair, Elle, and Lucky) and they are getting their product out to the people. But I think this overhaul of their product is too much. Sure, get the word out there...brand yourself...but don't overdo it to the point of saturation. Hopefully they won't turn into another fad.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Love on the Set

I really enjoyed reading this article by Aron Gaudet, director and editor of the documentary film "The Way We Get By" about the Maine Troop Greeters.

It takes a special couple to be able to live together, sleep together, and work together. I'm not sure I could do it but these two have been doing it for about 5 years now with no end in sight -- they get married in October.
It was January of 2004 when I first met Gita Pullapilly. My friend and Gita’s co-worker, Dan Ferrigan, had brought us together because he thought we might share a similar dislike for our jobs in television news and a similar interest in documentaries. The first thing I said to Gita was, “I know you don’t want to work in television, so what do you want to do with your life?”— She would later tell me she was put off by my forwardness, but it made her think about her future. -- Aron Gaudet
Thankfully Gita gave Aron another many times have we written someone off because of a bad first impression?

In any case, falling in love on the job has it's pros and cons. Luckily these two have been successful.

Parking in Bangor

Gotten a parking ticket recently in Bangor? Well, even if you haven't you should read this hilarious post by Al Diamon of Media Mutt.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What I Learned from Charlotte's Web

I found this amazingly on-point blog post about Charlotte (the spider/copywriter from the book Charlotte's Web) at The Urban Muse. I think it's really cool and always surprising where we can take writing lessons from. Charlotte might be just a spider in E.B. White's book, but she has a lot of good points. Read them here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Ellsworth American: Digital

I sort of love what The Ellsworth American has done with its website. It no longer publishes the newspaper online. They've come up with two genius ideas and ways to get the news you want:

1. Digital version of the newspaper. For a fee, you can read The Ellsworth American online in a fully searchable digital edition. You have to PAY to read the newspaper online...what a novel idea.

2. Fenceviewer. This is where you can get free community news. It's not the newspaper, but web content FOR the web. I get the sense that the stories written here are more daily as opposed to the weekly paper. I could be wrong.

A newspaper making their readers pay for their content! How cool is that? Will other papers follow suit? Perhaps. If they want to stay in business I think they should. It makes perfect sense for a weekly to do what The Ellsworth American did. Have the most prominent news for free on the website...because other news outlets will probably be covering the same thing...and keep their longer feature articles for pay in the paper. This also ads added advertising possibilities to the company. Bravo!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"A Bold Plan" for the UMaine System

I read this article with trepidation. As a sometimes adjunct professor who taught Writing & Reporting for Print at UMaine during the spring semester, I am part of the "restructuring" process. My class had two sections -- I taught one of them. Since the class is held in the computer lab there is a cap on enrollment -- about 20 students I believe. Each spring I always had a waiting list of students who wanted to get into my class. It was a 200 level introductory course that all mass communications/journalism majors had to take to earn their degree. My section has been canceled this spring, leaving just one and, I'm assuming, a lot of angry students who are trying to fulfill their writing requirement.

They say they are cutting back classes with low enrollment -- but they are also cutting back on classes with more than enough students. I have seen frustrated students be driven to tears because of cuts in the journalism program. Some of them can no longer graduate on time. The students who are studying advertising have no program at all left -- it was cut.

Bold, yes. I wonder how the University of Maine system plans on boosting enrollment while they raise tuition and cut back on academic and athletic programs. This fall there is no women's volleyball team and no men's soccer. Students are fed up with paying more and getting less and I don't blame them. Going to a state school is often the most affordable way for Maine students to get an education, but should they have to suffer watered down academic programs to save a few bucks? If you ask me I'd rather invest more money into my education and go to a school that offers a wide variety of classes, has a good reputation, has ample work study, and doesn't raise tuition to make a buck at the expense of my experience.
The plan identifies cost savings totaling $31.3 million by 2013 in the area of administrative, student, and financial services. In addition, it calls for $8 million to $10 million in cost reductions related to academic programs and services, and projects revenue increases of $3 million to $5 million as a result of improved student recruitment and retention. - Bangor Daily News
$10 million in cuts to academic programs and services. That's a huge red flag to me. They're going to need that $3-5 million to retain and recruit students...especially when they talk about cutting financial services.

This may not impact the smaller schools as much as it will UMaine Orono. Students have lots of choices of where to attend college for their 4-year degree. Competition is fierce. This plan doesn't seem to fit with the overall goal of keeping the best and brightest in state. If students can't get a quality education at their state school, what will make them come back to work? This is a bold plan...but I'm not sure it's the right one.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What Mimi Needs: This T-shirt

So I sort of promoted myself at work today. I don't get any more $$ but instead of being the assistant editor I'm now the managing editor. I know, crazy stuff. So I was thinking I needed my own theme music or something now that I'm such a big shot. My friend sent me this idea....I think it's a good one.

Can't you just see me walking around the office with my very own sound effects? I mean, I make sound effects already but if all I had to do was push a button to make myself heard I'd rule the school. And, much like this young man, I'd be hip, rad, and everyone would want to high 5 me. I'm going to put this t-shirt on my Christmas wish list right now!

What Mimi Saw: Oregon Trail

Any of you people out there who were in elementary school in the 80s knows about the computer game Oregon Trail. When I was in elementary school my mother used to borrow the floppy discs from our school for the summer. My sister and I spent countless hours creating families to travel the trail. I loved everything about that game...making up names for my family, shooting buffalo, and buying supplies. We didn't have cable or video games. Heck, we even RENTED a VCR from the grocery store on the weekends. Oregon Trail was the epitome of fun.

If you loved playing Oregon Trail as much as I did then you'll surely like this skit I found on YouTube. Oh were so much fun.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What Mimi Saw: Being Erica

Some teenagers fantasize about being an American Idol, a movie star, or a life saving brain surgeon. I fantasized about being Canadian. I know, it's weird, but since high school I have harbored this fascination with Canadians. Why I didn't attend college in Canada is beyond me...I should have especially with the amazing exchange rate in the mid 1990s. People don't harbor resentment against Canadians like they do Americans. And Canada has some pretty cool cities. And Canadians say things like "Grade 11.." instead of "In my junior year of high school..." and "I met him in University..." instead of "I met him in college..."


My fantasies have been invigorated by the CBC -- Canada's PBS. There is this show called Being Erica that I am slightly obsessed with. It's about this 30-something named Erica Strange who lives in Toronto who has the ability to go back in time and change her past. Erin Karpluk plays Erica and I think she is just super. I want to Netflix the entire show. It shows on CBC Monday at 9pm. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Have you heard of The Dugger Family?

They're this family with 18 children who live in Arkansas. They announced this morning on The Today Show that baby 19 is on the way! HOLY COW! 19 KIDS! That's a hell of a lot of kids. How in the world do these parents PAY for these children? Their new baby will be born AFTER their first grandchild. How weird is that!?
As conservative Christians, they decided after that to let God decide how many children they would have.

They adhere to a Christian movement called Quiverfull, whose members take seriously the biblical exhortation to be fruitful and multiply and believe that every child is a gift from Providence.

All the children are home-schooled and all learn to play the violin and piano. The older children help raise the younger ones under a buddy system. Jim Bob, a former state legislator, is involved in a number of businesses, including commercial real estate. -- The Today Show
I've seen their TLC show and I am amazed at how organized it all is. All of the children have assigned jobs to do and no one seems to be left out or forgotten. A far cry from Octomom. Instead of being disgusted I'm amazed at Michelle and Jim Bob (no joke) Dugger. I have no clue how they can emotionally and financially handle all of these children -- but they do it and still find time to have sex!