June 29, 2005

Sands of summer are slippin' this way

With trollers (sp.?) in hand, my two uncles began smoothing out the sand that lines the sides of my aunt's new summer pool abode.

I helped lift some sand over the aluminum walls, but generally, I didn't do much constructive work today. I think she has plans for me to help dig the electrical ditch for the filter in a few days.

That's the least I could do for a free pool area within a minute from my house.

This evening, however, I played with my 6-year-old cousin, Daniel, on his huge trampoline. With the summer storm raging around us, we hurled our bodies into the air, at times, cracking on impact with the net poles and each other. What a good time. Never mind that half the thing is made out of metal...

But we didn't care, and then it finally happened--I got -that feeling- in mid-air. You know, the Countrytime Lemonade-commercial feeling that you wait all year to see/touch/smell/hear. It was like my senses collided in that moment becoming one overwhelming, yet familiar sensation: summer.

With my cherub cousin smiling at me, the mosquitos humming around us, the rain misting, my clothes damp, the thunder rumbling in the distance, and the Technicolor leaves shining from their recent shower, a smile and peal of laughter escaped. Summer finally found me.

When the rain stopped, we checked the sand. We were worried that some sloshing action would occur, but instead, it was packed more firmly. Hopefully tomorrow the liner will be placed and swimmers (yep, that means many of you :-D) will be able to hop in sometime very soon.

Have I mentioned that I love this time of the year? Woo hoo for July birthdays! Woo hoo for fireworks! Yay for trampolines and pools! Someone pinch me, I go to the beach in two weeks.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:38 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

June 25, 2005

Where'd that comment go? :-(

I've never seen so many comments vanish into oblivion before. This is happening predominantly on one certain blog.

I have two theories about why comments are vanishing:

1) Comments are full of obscenities and/or spam.

2) The author(s) can't take the heat from the commenting crowd and delete the comments because they don't want to address the other person's valid point.

I can understand the first reason, but the second, well, I don't get. Why would bloggers display a comments option when they have no intention of keeping them on? Is it just a tease?

Why have a blog in the first place? I mean, I've visited blogs where you can't leave messages, but there's a powerlessness about it. I get tired of visiting because there's no dialogue, which is what has marked blogs so famously as a remarkable form of online communication.

While some of the comments on the blog I mentioned do contain some profane language, the author throws it right back at the audience. In this circumstance, that makes the right to delete comments based on profanity nil.

This blogger wants to become a serious writer, right? If I were a publishing exec, I wouldn't hire someone that doesn't let other voices (editors) in on the creative process, which is exactly what blogs demonstrate--an environment of constructive criticism that is not entirely based on flaming.

It's all becoming a joke, a spectacle.

I know I write a lot of "girl" things, but again, I do switch between professional (Pro Girl) and personal (Girl) blogs. I try to give my audience an early indication of what is to be expected in these entries.

I just hope we'll all learn when to quit flinging insults, and ultimately realize, even with the negative feedback, that it's just better to talk to more people than than three personas: me, myself and I.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Hello, my name's American and I'm a gasaholic.

The place of our vice and redemption: your BP, Exxon, Mobile, Shell or Get-Go. How can we overcome the vicious dichotomy of our gasaholic lives?

You begin altering your schedule to the dictates of those lines behind the glass on the dashboard. You wait until not another drop of petroleum can be oozed into the fuel line. Nothing can be done. The guage reads "E"--an irreversible occurrence that can only mean one thing: a gas station stop.

When you pull into the deserted drive, suddenly the loneliness of this sad purchase washes over you. Sullenly you pluck the gas cap open and feed in the water of car life, drying up the spring-o-life wallet in the same moment.

Suddenly, amid the low, gasping grunts of the pump, shifters slide into park as SUVs, station wagons, and pick-up trucks circle around. Safety in the circled wagons steps into the 21st century. Like a silent support group, one steady sound rises above the pumps; the communal teeth-gnashing can be heard by dogs.

Just digitized numbers on the pumps read our totals, we hope, although late for work, that the pump is slow. This is just one method of deluding ourselves into thinking that there is some value in our purchase, but all is wrought for naught.

For the faint of heart, a quick swipe of a debit/credit card assuages The Man, but to the brave, a trip inside the station, with additional purchases lingering an arm-stretch away, is the final destination.

No one looks at the price charts any more. To the daily cruiser, the two other gas grades read "exorbitant" and "highway robbery", merely decadent ornamentation on a highway paved with your gold--or more likely--remnants of cheap copper and the 16th president's head, looted from beneath your car's seat.

Thank goodness, you think, while pulling away, that an SUV was parked next to you. Feeling sorry for your crass thought, you reflect on filling up your little four-cylinder. Though you still strain at the realization that yes, you are a gasaholic, and no, there is no cure--you take comfort in the group meets once a week--and two for the really dire cases. Maybe next time you won't steal the pennies from the tray, and yes, you resolve, you will wash your windows with the dirty water to really make the station stop last a while longer to -really- get your money's worth.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

Missing: Mr. Ga Scap

An open white door and a silver inside lining. What happened to the ugly black cap that covered that?

After work today, I realized that I had forgotten my gas cap on my car, along with closing the door.

I went back to the gas station and there's been no sign of the black wonder.
So my scenarios go:

A) Someone took it. Why would anyone want an extra gas cap? Yeah, to replace theirs if they ever lost it. Note to self: Pick up any wayside gas caps, no matter what the make or model.*

*This could result in more garbage picking and/or extremist stowaway tendencies. Approach practice with caution.

B)It fell off of the car somewhere on my way to work. From here to Greensburg, if anyone sees a wayside black thing along the road (that is a gas cap) please pick it up; I miss my friend... (I'm getting attached to an inanimate again, someone smack me)

C)It was thrown away. Now, who would do that? Some really clean person that just couldn't handle the fact that a perfectly good gas cap was sitting along the road somewhere and had to pick it up--never mind that someone may be looking for it.

Wow. I just became an evil Disney character.--Sorry for the upstage, Cruella. :)

I do wonder what could happen if you went without a gas cap for a prolonged period... Would your car burst into flames like in a Schwarzenegger cinema moment? Or would your car, mundanely, not pass the state inspection or emissions? Most likely the latter.

Time to go beg my dad for his car expertise. What's going on with my world? July--how I long for thee...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 16, 2005

Ten discoveries of the week

10. Acting stupid can help in the aquisition of quotes.
9. People speak nonsense, except, that is, when they have something to say about themselves.
8. Benadryl, the histimine blocker? Had me fooled, I thought it just conked you out. I guess it does both...
7. Paranoia is the spice of a reporter's life.
6. Playing badminton near pines in bare feet is -not- a good idea.
5. Never turn your back on your boyfriend and any body of water.
4. If the cashier has screwed up the person's order in front of you, do not scream, but rather, take deep breaths and hold back sighs. Patience is a virtue.
3. Happy is the woman who bathes in oatmeal.
2. Long are the summer days, short are the nights. I need darker curtains.
1. If thine arm seepeth from that dastardly weed, thou shouldst call an apothecary...or friendly pharmaceutical assistant.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2005


Oh yeah. This was on the front cover of the Greensburg Trib on Saturday. I'm pretty proud of this article.

I'm also trying to document everything published during my internship in an online archive. I am going to add to it periodically. If anyone has any suggestions for making the page better, I would really appreciate the assistance.

The online archive will accompany my print clippings when I turn in my final submission for my internship grade in August. I just need to find a folio large enough to hold my clippings as shown in the paper. I'd like to have one that could show the placement of the articles in the full context of the paper, rather than just haphazard clippings. Anyone know where I could find one?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:08 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 12, 2005

Minor irritations and abrasions

Job got to scratch off his bodily skin affliction and I am stuck applying IVAREST medication to mine. Lucky him.

On my one outdoor expedition in my 90 percent indoor life, I picnic on the cursed three-leafed poison. Smeared spots of wannabe flesh-colored ointment dot the the majority of my right side.

Which brings me to another point... Why are all ointments for Poison Ivy pink? Are there other colors available? Why don't they have fluorescent green or orange so you know you have covered the area like some sunblocks?

I didn't think it was as bad as it is turning out to be, so instead of splurging on the oatmeal bath and the six-dollar Calamine lotion, I went with the watery, $1.08 version. Torture.

Thankfully, my mom had a stash of Ivy relief meds that I didn't know about in our cavernous closet. The tube, filled with thick goo, promises eight hours of relief. I guess we'll have to see about that tomorrow at work.

Poison Ivy is the least of my worries right now, but I don't really feel like talking about it all. When it rains, it hails. I just hope everything works out somehow. It's standing in the middle of the storm that makes you think it never will end, but it will; I know it.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 5, 2005

Summer notes: Inside at Grandma's

We stayed inside today at Grandma's.

Everyone stuck together on her green sectional. I miss her old couch that would only hold about 10 of us and everyone went outside to sit where enough seats would accomodate us. The new one has gotten up to 15. So, there we all were, sweating it out. Air-conditioning has passed her generation, despite the VCR and microwave. For some reason, I think of the Amish when we go to her house.

I think we all stayed inside to keep Grandma company. Where she goes, the natives follow.

It's amazing to think that just one couple, my Grandma sitting stately in her recliner and my Grandpap, lying serenely (because he is sleeping) on the sectional, started all of the wonderful chaos that we are. Hmm. Big family=Big Fun and Big Chaos. I'll have to write that one down.

My boisterous and loud family. I don't hesitate to let people know, primarily because friends will inevitably find out the first time they come around to meet everyone.

I'd have to say, I fit in reasonably well. Sometimes I get the inclination to go off and just sit by myself. When I was younger it was usually because one of my cousins made me eat dirt or made me cry like a cow, but now it is just when I get in the mood. Nevertheless, I am usually around, but a step aside most times, just taking in character material for my future book.

It's not just the characters, it's the dialogue, too. We talk about everything, and even the kids hang around these days. My sister and I used to go play with my other cousins, but that has changed, I guess.

When we were little, our parents -made- us go out and play; whereas today, my little cousins hear every detail of gossip. I think their moms are afraid of snakes, abductors, and/or lost children. Gosh, I'm not feeling loved all of a sudden... :-D

And no matter what any of them tells you, it is gossip...mostly. That is, it is mixed with a little political commentary, babytalk, and the occasional sexual reference. Like a middle-aged tea and crumpets, without the tea and crumpets.

The primary topic today was our beach trip in July. We rented a condo on the boardwalk for a week. Lovely. Some of my cousins are going to camp in Michigan, as well. Talking vacations and funding.

I love watching my little cousins gorge themselves on Grandma's endless supply of Schwann's popsicles and ice cream sandwiches, their mouths sticky, orange, laced with frothy cream. Then they get yelled at for leaving the sticks and wrappers lying around.

The schedule so familiar, like clockwork that seems to have no numbers, just some internal ticking that transcends every generation. You can't imagine it otherwise, but you know someday it will all change. The house, the kids, the grandparents... But now, in this green couch moment, you take in the scenery of spilled glasses, broken toys and crying children and laugh at the pure honesty of the scene.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 4, 2005

Published second time, not losing luster

After a week of wondering where my article was going to be, I found it today.

This was probably the most enjoyable story I've done thus far. It's so much better when you have people that want to talk about the subject, rather than being coerced. The blessed quotes that you strive to get are right there.

The structure is much more newsy than the features I've been working on lately. Features require a little more creativity, but I'm working on that angle. I'm not completely dead inside creatively. Or at least I hope not.

In my last internship at the Mount Pleasant Journal, I did a story similar to this about a White Deer Run treatment center, just down the road from my house. I'm so happy I did. I knew what kind of questions to ask concerning the method and types of treatment given at these facilities. Also, what kind of contention, if any, is occurring in the community. In Mount Pleasant there were public debates about treatment centers coming in, specifically for young men. White Deer Run decided to make their facility a women's treatment center in an historical mansion. The last time I checked, a realtor's sign decorated the yard. I'm not sure what is going on with that.

Journalists have three payoffs: getting the quote, getting literally paid and, most rewarding, getting published. Is it natural to love your job this much?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack