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PUT AWAY YOUR TOYS: Sunday brought perfect weather for hot-air ballooning over the Old Mendon Highway -- but when it's over, you still have to pack up. / Photo by Nancy Williams

Today's word on journalism

Monday, October 30, 2006

"Of all the unhappy trends I have witnessed -- conservative swings on television networks, dwindling newspaper circulation, the jailing of reporters and 'spin' -- nothing is more troubling to me than the obsequious press during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. They lapped up everything the Pentagon and White House could dish out -- no questions asked."

--Helen Thomas, "dean" of the White House press corps, 2006

Alaskan Postcard No. 2: New room, complete with roommate and chicken bones

Editor's note: USU student Ginger Warburton writes of an outsider's experience in Alaska exclusively for the Hard News Cafe. This is the second in a series.

By Ginger Warburton

"The coolest thing about your room is the amazing view!" Lisa said as she showed me my room.

It was a small rectangle with a stained twin mattress in the center. She took me to the window and opened it, there was no screen and I leaned outward to look at the wide, short waterfall that crashed into a small pool below.

"Wow, yeah that is really amazing," I said. I was trying to stay optimistic after the disappointment I'd felt about the apartment and scenery. It was actually pretty cool, and I loved the sound, I thought it would be nice to listen to when I was going to sleep. Unfortunately I had forgotten to bring sheets with me, and all I wanted was sleep! My roommate provided me with a sleeping bag, which I was grateful for, but also felt strange about sleeping in someone else's things. I'm a frequent sheet washer.

Lisa said she had borrowed Brokeback Mountain from someone and was planning on watching it that night, so we set up the television and put it in. I laughed to myself as the situation seemed really funny to me. It's bizarre sometimes the things we do with total strangers, only meeting because of some odd reason or another. She was my roommate though, a title that up until that point had only been reserved for my friend Jami, a girl I had lived with off and on for the past few years. It felt strange to call this new person by the same title. I started referring to her as, "this girl I live with," "roommate" seemed too intimate for this stranger.

The next day Lisa brought me to work with her, where we would begin training. I sort of met other co-workers, and finally met my manager, whom I had only talked to on the phone numerous times. My job as well as everyone else's entailed picking up cruise ship passengers and taking them around to various locations so they could go on tours around the island, which included things like fly-fishing, go karts, boat tours, or float planes. So today our training would be driving around the island, checking out the locations we would be going, where we could park etc.

All of the employees and managers drove around in a large bus. I sleepily sat looking out the window at the dreary world. I sat somewhere away from my new 'roommate' hoping I could meet new people, but I didn't feel super social so I wasn't really meeting anyone anyway.

I heard some guy talking about how he drove kids to the ski resort in a bus at home, 'he's from Utah, for sure.' I thought to myself. "Where is he from?" I asked Kari my manager, "I'm not sure. Lyle where are you from?" She spoke louder to be heard across the aisle. "I'm from Washington, but I'm going to school in Utah." I smiled to myself. He said he went to UVSC, I used to go there I told him. He unzipped his jacket to display his UVSC pride and we both laughed at the coincidence.

After training in the light of day the apartment seemed dirtier and more disgusting than it had the night before in my groggy state. I started going around the apartment spraying everything with an orange cleaner, I sprayed walls, cupboards, and floors, scrubbed, vacuumed and swept. All the while Lisa watched openly shocked, for some reason I couldn't figure out why. It was obvious she thought I was some sort of weird clean freak. I myself couldn't believe she had been living in this mess for a week and hadn't done anything about it. I found some sort of dried food stuck to floor and rice in one of the drawers, and crumbs on the floor! When I found an old wishbone resting on the bonnet above the stove I started yelling, "Lisa! Lisa! You won't believe this!" She came running in.


"There is a disgusting old chicken bone that was left here!" I said pointing, the unbelief and horror were easily read in my voice and body language.

"Oh that ...Yeah, Amy and I had that last year, you're supposed to let wish bones dry out a year before you break them." She said shamelessly, "Would you like me to move it?" This was said as if that would be a strange request.

I slowly closed my mouth and swallowed, yes, I nodded my head. I watched in awe as she picked up the wishbone and hung it on a hook above the stove, I was hoping she would put it in one of here cupboards, but no such luck.

Amy was her 'best friend' and also our roommate that would be arriving in a couple weeks. Lisa had many times wistfully explained to me that she had a "platonic crush" on Amy and she couldn't wait for her to get here.

Still reeling from the wishbone incident I decided I needed to get a night job, I knew I wanted to be stuck at the apartment with my new "roommate" as little as possible.


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