Onward and upward

So after a little more than eight months at the Temple Daily Telegram, I've accepted a position at Community Impact newspaper. I'll be covering the Leander - Cedar Park area and I'm very excited to be part of the fastest-growing media company in Texas, closer to Austin + family, and a pay increase is nice too.

In my time in Temple, I've processed through countless personal and career transitions and explored new aspects of my adulthood, most notable being: people really make the place.

The Telegram and my beat were both crowded with phenomenal folks. From my editors and coworkers who always guarded my best interest, to the administrators who made me believe in the power of education, the compassion continuously amazed me.

My first post-grad job, I'll never forget the brief and cornerstone experiences in Temple. Onward and upward.


Fab family furniture

For the first time in probably two years, I am laying in my bed, tapping away on my laptop.

My previous laptop has been in disrepair for a while. But because my wonderful sister passed her HP down to me, I can blog comfortably once again.

On my drive home from her home in Hutto, I started remembering now much of my furniture and belongings came from my family, and how thankful I am for their generosity.

Most of my big pieces came from my folks. To name a few, a washer & dryer, TV, bed, two dressers and a desk.

I got the TV armoire (solid cherry wood) from my cousin, my Mac Mini from my brother and my side table from my other cousins.

This laptop, a Forman Grill and 80 percent of my dishes came from my sister.

And she may not be family, but the woman I used to house/cat sit for in New Braunfels gave me loads of towels and dishes.

My post-grad family furniture is scattered throughout the apartment, reminders of how beautifully knit my family is. The collection is of mix-matched hand-me-downs, but I love every piece.

I'm so grateful for these little (and big) gifts, and proud to call our bunch family.


Chrome apps amaze me

I grew up in a home with minimal technology. We didn't have video games (except an old Atari and my grandma's, while other kids were onto Segas, N64s and PlayStations), and I didn't have reliable internet access until I was about 15. For those of you counting, that was in 2003.

So the powers of new technology have always fascinated me. A smartphone app that can read bar codes?! A pen that records and stores interview and meeting notes?! A lightweight device on which to play Angry Birds?! I stare wide-eyed at the plethora of knowledge and time that went into these thingamabobs, especially Google Chrome Apps.

Now you've got your basic, grampa-friendly browsers like Internet Exploder, Safari, Firefox and Opera. But Chrome really steps it up a notch, plus it's faster, user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. Having apps is the sweet, fresh butter creme icing on the cake.

The Chrome app store is like an online department store of interactive apps (...and time killers). Many are extensions of existing websites that once downloaded, show up under the Web Apps tab on the Chrome home page tab.

Categories include:
News and Weather
Social and Communication

The purpose of Chrome Web apps is easy access to useful tools and activities. Just like in the iTunes App store, some apps are pointless. Some are quite useful. There's a wealth of content out there for almost any type of Chrome user, and many are free.

The downside: some "apps" are just links to the regular site. The sea of apps takes some time to browse through, and some apps are underdeveloped or having missing functions. But overall I've had good experiences. As you can see, my app collection so far look like it belongs to an 8-year-old reporter.


Fair Housing

In my work as a reporter, I get to dip my hand into many different buckets. I mostly write about education, school boards, budgets, kids and teachers. But I found myself this week pursuing a story about implementing the federal Fair Housing Act in my municipality.

Under the FHA, overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is against the law to discriminate against a person seeking housing based on:

-National Origin
-Familial Status (whether or not you have kids)

I began researching the FHA after hearing a story from a co-worker, whose friend and his girlfriend were told by an apartment complex leasing manager that they were not allowed to live in a one bedroom apartment because they are not married.

I thought, certainly nowadays, it can't be legal to deny a particular type of housing to a couple because they are not married.

After several phone calls to HUD in D.C. and locally to the Austin Tenants Council, I discovered there is no state or federal law that prevents this type of discrimination based on marital status. This means a single person could be denied the purchase of a home because he or she is single. It also means unwed parents of a child can be denied housing, so long as the stated reason is marital status, not familial status.

Another, possibly more obvious group excluded from protected rights is the LGBT community. There are local laws that prevent housing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, such as in D.C. and Austin, but no umbrella exists to protect all persons from discrimination when seeking housing.

I have a hard time understanding why the seven criteria are included, but marital status and sexual orientation have been left off the list. The FHA was introduced in 1968 and amended in 1988 - 23 years ago. Times have changed. Every person deserves the same rights to ensure prejudice is prevented.

Some might applaud an apartment complex, landlord or home seller who would disallow unmarried couples and gays to live in their community. That audience is the same that 40 years ago would have applauded the racism and sexism that is now outlawed under the FHA. Put simply, if you can't forbid me from living somewhere based on my sex, why is it permitted because I'm single?

I don't often publicize my political views, but this issue makes me cringe. Discrimination is discrimination, and no group deserves it.

Go here to read more about the Fair Housing Act.

Go here to contact your legislator about the issue.


Four months, but it feels like longer

This week will mark my fourth month in Temple, Texas and it's been an exciting journey so far. Things have finally slowed enough for me to catch up on hobbies around the apartment. I've been a card-making, herb-growing, supper-fixin' fool and loving it. I hope to start a series of paintings for the living room soon and really let my artsy side stick out for a while. I'm also looking into grad school at some point in the future, likely with a M.S. in computer science, but we'll see.

As for Temple, there's not much to do here. I haven't found a core of like-minded people my age to hang out with, so I tend to stick near the few refined places I've found (i.e, my porch and The Cotton Exchange.) News is hopping, although with school out, the stories will be less obvious. I'm looking forward to digging around some school and state budget issues this summer, reading some good books, getting into the top 20 on The Texas Tribune's QRANK trivia game and establishing a Chacos tan once again.


"Extreme Couponers" extremely selfish

I don't often use my blog as a platform for ranting, but there's something that just burns my beans... or the 800 cans of beans TLC's Extreme Couponers hoard in the corners of their homes.

Now I'm all about saving money. In fact, I was recently dubbed "Bargain Boenig" by someone dear to me. And I do cut coupons to save money --- why not?

I no doubt think these extreme couponers should feel proud to get so much for so little, at times paying just one percent of the retail price of all their groceries. It's quite a clever and commendable talent.

But in the few episodes of Extreme Couponing I've seen, only ONCE has a couponer (Nathan Engels) given part of the grocery raid to a food bank or charity.

If the rush of saving money is what drives these couponers to go to the extreme, why must they hoard enormous stockpiles of toilet paper, toothbrushes, cereal, pasta sauce and green beans in stacks and on shelves in the guest room?

People are starving in America. There are womens shelters who would happily accept 100 bottles of shampoo for the abuse victims they support. What's even more shocking is some of these folks have been poor enough to completely rely on coupons in order to eat. Have they forgotten what hunger feels like?

No money would come out of the Extreme Couponer's pockets if they donated even half of their stashes to local worthy causes. They could consider the time spent clipping coupons community service. I hope TLC producers are just cutting out the charitable part and in fact these "Extreme Couponers" are less selfish than they appear.

Photo courtesy of TLC.


Temple: Day 4

It has been a whole four days since I moved to Temple. Yesterday was my first day at the Temple Daily Telegram and so far everyone and every thing has been great. My worries about directions were not unfounded. I actually got lost on the way home yesterday (go ahead, laugh...) but I've managed to find the Target, Hobby Lobby, a pretty good Mexican restaurant and of course, the office where I work. 

Yesterday my first story at the TDT ran on the B1 (here called the Second Front) and tomorrow a short piece I did will be on the front page. I'm obviously really moving up in the world. (Ha.) As an education reporter, I'm covering mostly school board meetings, the bond election, features on science fairs and eventually the Texas Legislature's massacre of funding for public education K-12. That one I'm really looking forward to. 

Temple is sweet, like a big Seguin. I've been working so much that I've barely had time to unpack or be productive in any way after I clock out. None of my dishes are put away but I did manage to buy a few groceries last night that will last me until the weekend. I found $1/lb chicken thighs in 10-packs at HEB, only to come home and realize I have no seasonings... so it's PB&J for me for now. 

I've logged 20 hours in two days, which makes me just tired enough to only muster up the strength to watch TV and fall asleep on the couch. I'm interested to meet my neighbors, at least the nice ones, and hopefully get some unpacking done before Friday. Because, you know, I have big plans and all. 


On to Temple

In less than three short weeks after graduating from Texas State, I landed a job. Starting Feb. 7, I will be the education reporter for the Temple Daily Telegram. 

Things I'm excited about:
-getting out of my hometown
-meeting new people
-living on my own again
-making a livable wage
-really reporting
-hopefully uncovering some juicy stuff

Things I'm worried about
-the potential of living next to crackheads
-getting lost in a new town because I'm horrible with directions
-affording groceries

What a wonderful new adventure I have in store!

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