Friday, September 24, 2010

What's Your News IQ?

If you thought the tests were over because you graduated college -- you're wrong.

I recently had a job interview for a reporting position. I went into the interview with the same confidence and optimism I always bring to an interview. Two minutes into the interview, that confidence was gone.

This interview wasn't just a meet and greet.

I was tested in three areas: my quick thinking skills, my knowledge of current events and my writing & editing skills.

I felt comfortable with the writing & editing test because I took Editing 711 at UNH (which I encourage every journalism major to do). The quick thinking test was 100% fair and I did my best to think quickly and answer correctly.

But the current events test left me dumbfounded.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's Your Writing Style?

Did you know that Shakespeare created around 10,000 words that we still use in the English language?

For real.

If he couldn't find the right word he wanted to include in his plays, he would just make one up. The majority of the words we still use today:

abandon, baby, cage, dance, easily, fabulous, gold, haggard, index, jealousy, key, lame, magic, naughty, object, paint, quarter, ramp, safe, tackle, unhappy, vain, wait, zealous

It was quite ballzy -- but genius -- of Shakespeare to invent a single word. What's even crazier is how over 10,000 of these words still circulate through everyday conversation.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Yom Kippur

Starting tonight, all the Jews in the world are going to get a bit grumpy.

You see, tonight is the start of Yom Kippur -- the Day of Atonement. Aka: The day when Jews fast for a full 24 hours.

We do this so we can literally cleanse our bodies and start fresh physically (and hopefully mentally) for the new year.

I like the idea behind this holiday, but obviously I am not a huge fan of the fasting part. However, I do take it seriously and try to reflect on my sins and promise not to repeat them again.

On Rosh Hashanah last week, the Rabbi at my temple gave an incredible sermon. Like most Rabbis, he encouraged the congregation to reflect on their. However, my Rabbi took it a step further and offered some advice on how to do that -- and this little piece of advice has stuck with me for a week:

"In order to find the deeper 'you,' you need to crush the idea you already have of yourself."

Like WHAT?!?!? How do you "crush" your self image? Is that even safe?

But then an hour later, it hit me, and I realized that is the best piece of advice I have heard since my father told me, "just suck it up and do it."

So I really wanted to materialize the Rabbi's advice -- and this is where the writing came in. I sat down and wrote a couple words and phrases I would use to describe myself:

funny, flirty, passionate, trustworthy, loyal, heartless, cold, defensive, aggressive, caring, honest, better friend than sister, better mentor than mentee, better follower than leader, spiritual but realistic, has 100% faith in G-d but accepts when things don't always work out, motivated and determined ....etc.

So yes, I was pretty honest. I wanted my faults on the page as much as the positives. Once I got a list I was satisfied with, I "crushed" it' -- I literally rolled it up and threw it in the trash.

It was one of the weirdest things I have ever done. But, it led to my epiphany....

None of the characters in the books I read posses the qualities I listed. They are different. They do things I wish I could experience for myself.

Now don't get me wrong -- I have zero regrets in life and I am very proud of the person I am today. But, there are areas of my personality I have yet to unleash. And those are the characteristics I want to list on paper next year.

So that's my goal for this coming year: try to make my list a little longer, and something I don't want to throw away.

And I suggest you do the same.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How to Block 'Writer's Block"

Writer's block is worse than a bad cold. It's worse than a bad hair day and it's certainly worse than an injury.

It's an irritating and frustrating sting you feel in your head. And of course, it comes at the worst time.

But have no fear! I have found five tricks that can help you overcome writer's block.

1) Engulf yourself in poetry, songs or quotes

When you can't think of anything clever to write or have no inspiration, put yourself in a 'writing mindset' by reading other literature.

For example, when I want to be witty, I read Anne Sexton's poetry. When I want to be insightful, I read quotes. When I want to be funny, I read funny jokes (or listen to Dane Cook).

And 1 out of 5 times this works.

Just take five minutes to explore another writer's creative energy and you will feel their vibes penetrating your mind.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Where Were You On 9/11?

September 11, 2001 always brings me back to my final year at Cohen Hillel Academy.

When the airplanes struck the Twin Towers, I was on a train with my classmates -- in New York.

I remember the conductor saying, "We have just been told that an airplane went through the Twin Towers. We don't know much now. We will keep you updated."

I remember the confusion and hysteria erupting on the train. I remember my teachers freaking out thinking, "What are we going to do with these kids?" And I remember complete strangers all around me becoming family by the minute.

In an instant, everyone was united by an attack to our nation.

It's true what the adults say, 9/11 is my generation's Pearl Harbor. To me, the date will never mean anything different than the day my world turned upside down.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rosh Hashanah

Blowing the Shofar
to bring in the new year
Happy New Year!

Well, for the Jews anyways. Tonight at sundown Jews everywhere will start celebrating the Jewish new year -- Rosh Hashanah. This year marks 5771 in the Jewish calendar.

Rosh Hashanah has always been one of my favorite holidays because it marks a fresh start to another year; a new year of making friends, spending time with family and quitting bad habits.

Most importantly, Rosh Hashanah is all about reflection.

Unlike the secular new year, when people think about their "New Year's resolutions," Jews think about the previous year.

Did I mend that rocky relationship? Did I spend more time with my younger sister? Did I lose 20 pounds like I promised?

You see, the Jewish new year isn't about popping a bottle of champagne and getting wasted. It's about taking the time to think about yourself and cleanse your soul.


Friday, September 3, 2010

This Week in Words and Pics

So this week was all about making moves in a more peaceful direction....if that's possible. So here are my picks of the week.  


Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Begin as Both Sides Lay Out Hopes, Expectations
Politics Daily

Obama in Oval Office Address: Iraq War Combat Mission Over
Politics Daily

Blog Post

Analysis: Peace in the Middle East? Probably not.

Neither the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have the support from their respective constituencies that they would need to provide the courage to make a lasting deal.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Writers Worth Reading

War is not an easy topic to discuss, write about and especially report on. Particularly because it's a challenge to avoid any type of voice.

However, there is a journalist I have come across who has done a great job -- David Wood.
Wood writes about war for Politics Daily. In 30 years of covering conflict, he has filed dispatches from dozens of battlefields (alphabetically, from Afghanistan to Zambia) and has embedded many times with U.S. Army and Marine Corps units as well as with guerrillas and brigands in Africa. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his reporting on conflict, national security and foreign affairs.