I got an epifani

It's 04:44 am and I should be doing something I should have done last week. It was not that I didn't have the time, I just rather did something else.

Never the less, I am thinking about other things than those I should and then it came to me. Like an epifani (which, by the way is a real hard word to figure out how to spell) and I realized a solution to my image problem.

If I don't have my own pictures I can always use ClipArt.

I know, not the prettiest pictures, ten years ago. Things actually do change. I looked through the ones in Office and then there's tons of them at the Microsoft website. All free to use (I didn't read the license agreement but they are there and it doesn't seem to be a problem at all to download)

In conclusion, if I don't have my own pictures, I can always play around with Microsoft's ones... 


How to blend into East Tennessee

Ya'll probably know this and doesn't think much of it. But I do and my friends here do and we have been thinking about it ever since we took our first steps on American soil. I've been around in the east part of U.S but I have to say that when it comes to culture I have got to know the East Tennesse one the best.This is how you survive;
  1. First of all, it is U.S, not USA. USA is something for the rest of the world so if you don't want to expose yourself as an outsider, never say USA, it's U.S
  2. Don't think about straws as something you have at your birthday (when you are five) or something for a special occasion or maybe in your drink. Straws goes in every drink and if there's no straws, there's no way of drinking. Remember that, it is important.
  3. The same goes for ice. Hence the straw.
  4. The same goes for soda. 
  5. But if you're in Tennesse, you prefer sweet tea. You know exactly how it is supposed to taste like and where to buy your favourite one. It is a good conversation piece. I doubt that this is something to try in the rest of the U.S thought, this goes for the south, just so that ya'll know.
  6. If the soda machine is not located behind the counter or a note say otherwise, there's always free refill. Don't question the different sizes of cups and prizes. Don't question the free refill and don't say that it doesn't exist in Europe. (they might get an idea)
  7. Every size is bigger. Everything is bigger. If you normally have a big coffee in Europe, order a small one in U.S and expect the same size. For everything.
  8. But there's no such thing as wasting food. If there's food left on your plate for another meal, ask for a box. There's no embaressment in that. That's what you do. And then you appreciate the big portions and food gets cheaper the less you eat.
  9. Ordinary - dining out, Special occasions - Homecocked food. Homecocked food is cocked for hours. Not made in ten minutes, as in my house.
  10. Biscuits and sausage sauce, in the morning, perfectly normal. Warm food for breakfast, no biggie. Be glad you're not in England, it is actually worse there.
  11. If you go to U.S and especially if you go to the south make sure that you love chicken. There's a lot of good food but the chicken is always good, anywhere. And it is everywhere. Thousands of flavours and preparations. Enjoy!
  12. If you don't like chicken, maybe a roadkill would suit you. There's a few of those as well. Rackons, foxes, rabbits and other small animals are seen quite often on the road. I guess that's why they actually have an own word for it. Roadkill. There's no such word anywhere else. We have fences.
  13. Speaking fo road. Legs doesn't really do you good in this coutnry, unless born with wheels, no way of getting anywhere. There might be a bus that might go somwhere at some point but don't count on it and if it does, it probably quit going at an early hour anyway.
  14. Same goes for drives license. There's no concept of people above 18 without drivers license.
  15. Your car is your fortress. You thought it was your house. No. Half of what you own is in your car. At all times. Everyone have their own car so there's no other use for those backseats. 
  16. Your can do everything from your car. Everything has a drive though. It is not only McDonalds. Drive through ATM and drive in movie theaters are American concepts. There's no need for parking just do everything in or from your car. 
  17. If you need to park however, there's parking spaces everywhere but they seem to never be enough so sometimes there's need for crossing a street, If you parked far away, that will say.
  18. Hence the crossover and crossover signs, they are not there for pedestrians who walk, they are there for drivers who parked far way. Don't think otherwise.
  19. How do I know that? Why would they else place the crossover sign button 20 feet from the actual crossover?
  20. There's 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard and 1760 yards in a mile. There's nothing in between and nothing smaller than an inch. Great. Easy. I see how U.S holds on to this. Makes perfect sense.
  21. I'm not gonna try to figure out pounds. All I know is that I went from 60 to 140 when I went from Europe to U.S. No wonder they have eating issues.
  22. Vending machines are as common as trees and seem to grow both here and there as a natural element in the enviroment.
  23. Remember the names of everyone you meet. At all times, they are gonna remember yours and they are always gonna greed you every time they see you. Forever. 
  24. Always say hi to people you met and keep the door open. Politeness is big here (atleast in the south) and make sure to appriciate it. We don't want it to go away, do we?

This are some of the things me and my friends have thought about so far. If I forgot anything or if anything comes to your mind while reading this, please tell me so that I can update this list.

Hard times

I'm really trying to create entries where I can post images and phots or other creative things that would draw attention. But I figured out that every entry takes about ten times as long to write. 

When I first began with blogging, I just wrote the entries and that was it. I don't know if the content was very good, I didn't pay much attention to it and there was always a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes. But as my blogging continued I started to enjoy it and I wanted to do something real, I didn't really have anything interesting or fun to write about but I started atleast to spell and grammar check whatever I wrote. 

When I got to the U.S I actually had something to write about and I wanted to develop even more. And I believe I have. Now, I think about what to write, I try to find a picture to go with it and if I can't I try to create something in photoshop. I try to attach useful links and I try to write about something interesting and something that I actually put some thouhgts into.

The picture thing is the thing that has suprised me the most. I don't think I will ever figure out the sizes of pictures. A picture is one size in one program and a completely different in another. Which forces me to upload and reload and remake the pictures for my blog a number of times. I do, however, think that pictures is an important element to a blog and I guess that I will get used to it as time progress.

I red a blog the other day from a somewhat established Swedish journalist. She seemed to use her blog to post personal feelings when she is angry or upset with something or somebody. I don't want to use my blog like that. I want to post entries about stuff that concerns and angers me but I hope that I am able to think things through before I post them on my blog.

A blog is though a fast medium and the biggest enemy is writers block. To maintain a blog, such a thing can't exist. There is one thing you can do to avoid this and that is to have entires stored for those moments when writers block appears. Because even the best get the block from time to time and there's no escape, but preparation.

My favorite place in East Tennessee

We did an exercise in class, magazine article writing, where we had to write about our favorite place in East Tennesse for ten minutes, this is what I came up with;
The whole thing (Shell gas station on State of Franklin in Johnson City, Tn)

You might think that is not much in the world but when you are an exchange student in U.S there are just so many places where you can actually go. Because that is exactly what you are doing, walking. Not driving, sounds amazing, I know. And let me tell you, U.S is made for cars. But, anyway. My favorite place in this region is the Shell gas station across the road from the campus where I live. It is the closest place to walk to and it provides us with both coffee and beer, both crucial ingredients for students everywhere. It is my favorite place because it is an everyday thing. I have no idea how many times I have waited on the “walking man” to cross the street to the gas station. I do, as well, like the irony of my favorite place being a gas station because I am not able to drive. If I could drive and had a car, we would probably go somewhere else. A gas station is no place to actually hang out. But we do. We take a break from our studying to walk to the gas station and buy coffee and occasionally a weird American pastry, just to try it. We usually walk back to our dorm but sometimes we go to the drive through ATM next to the gas station and sit there for a while. When it is sunny and dry outside, we go behind the gas station and lie down on the grass. When it is cold, we don’t go at all. But that is beside the point. The gas station is my favorite place because it defines my study here. It is not my big trips and fun memories, it is what I did late nights, tired from studying.

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Further comment

In todays Johnson City press I found this picture. I guess it is a response to the same news I was commenting on. I don't really understand wheter the artist think's the protestors are redicilous or if he agrees with them.

Oh, no.. please, anything but socialism... we're all doomed!

Americans are fed up with taxes.

Or, maybe it is just the people of Kingsport, Tennessee.

Atleast according to Johnson City press; that reports about a protest in Kingsport, Tennesse against raised taxes and somehow it has something to do with the "Boston tea party".

This is not really what caught my attention. I like to read about when people are protesting, even though I do not always agree I think it is a good sign of a healthy society when it's citizens protest against what they feel is wrong in it. Considering the economical position U.S is in and the very historical change in office that just happened it is good to hear that American people are taking a stand for what they believe in. Wether taxes are a good thing or not is of course depending on what they pay for but it is also not of my concern what kind of attitude Americans have against taxes and so forth. I just like to know about the differences.

I have, actually, spot some main differences in culture between Sweden and U.S since I got here. Some are bad, some are good and some are actually not differences. Religion is one topic, which I believe that I have already discussed. Politics another.

I soon discovered that "communism" is a swear word here. It is used in the same way I use fascist. To be a "commi" is something really bad and I find that funny. Maybe because I did a paper on the McCharty- era and found the whole witch hunt kind of rediciolus and a little 1700 century over it or maybe I don't understand the danger with communism.

So, how is this related to Americans protesting against taxes.

I don't know.

But the protestors had signs that said "Stop socialism", so I guess they think it has something to do with eachother.
Sweden is a socialist country (as far as I know) and I find the fear of socialism somewhat wierd. I have come to the understanding that socialism works in Skandinavian countries because our populations are small. Which may be true. But I actually often ask myself if the individual freedom that one has in U.S really is worth it?

Shame on me

I posted the last entry a week ago and before that it was two weeks before tha last entry. Keeping up a blog is hard. I personally think that atleast one or two entries a day is a minimum and I have not been able to keep that up. At first I felt that I lacked stuff to actually write about and then I lacked the time to write it. In the end I think I lacked both time and stuff. One could say, I got a writers block. But I like blogging and I do believe that it is possible to keep a blog updated and with interesting material for a period of time. A blog can not go on forever and should have one or two specifik themes that the blog evovles around, otherwise it can get too personal and too messy for anyone to keep an interest.

I have however, been to the library and borrowed myself some books.

  • "Blogging for business" by Shel Holtz and Ted Demopoulos
  • "The new rules of marketing" by David Meerman Scott
  • "Web production for writers and journalists" by Jason Whittaker
  • "Html for dummies" by Ed Tittel and Stephen N. James
I will probably not read all of those from cover to cover but I will atleast try and find something useful for my blogging and perhaps a useful tip or so for future reference.

Another problem/issue occured and that's ask.com. Somehow that toolbar or searchengine or whatever it is got downloaded to my computer and now I can't get rid of it. I have a couple of things on this thing that I can't get rid of but most of them doesn't really cause me any problems. Ask.com, however, do that. I don't know if it is the Swedish prefix it has a problem with or if it is websites without www that it wont let me access. Ask.com doesn't let me log in to my blog, which prevents me from actually posting any entires.

I am, despite ask.com, pull myself together and keep my blog up for the last couple of weeks of the semester.

War stories

In Magazine article class we are supposed to do a lot of reading, I really try to keep it up but in the nearest past I have failed that task. I did however read the war reporting articles.

"Dying in Darfur" by Samantha Power (published The New Yorker)
"Torture at Abu Ghraib" by Seymour M. Hersh (published The New Yorker)
"The killer elite" by Evan Wright (published Rolling Stone)

I chose one of these to analyse for my second analysis but before I start with that project I want to post a learner's journal about how it was to read these articles. It was hard to think about the way they are writing and how they tell information because the articles were very informative and interesting so I got caught up in the story and forgot about the analyse of it. I guess that how you write it is not depending on whether you write the truth or fiction but it is easier to to see how it is written when it is fiction becuase when it is about the truth you (atleast I) tend to be caught up in analysing if it is true or not rather then the style of the writing.

"Dying in Darfur" did the classical thing with starting with a single person's story, to make the article feel personal. I did however feel that the effect of making the story personal by giving example of a single person's story lost it's effect when the person never got directly quoted. The person is Amina Abaker Mohammed who lost her son to the janjaweed but the story need her voice to get personal and not only Power retelling what she said. Power uses Amina's story as a memory point in her article. She goes back to it two times in order for the reader to keep track of where you are in the article. This article was 15 pages long and it was really hard for me to focus on the writing rather than the content. In the article

"Torture at Abu Ghraib" I had even more trouble staying focused on the writing rather than the content. This article is a lot shorter, 6 pages, but I remember this event from the news and the pictures that went around the globe. It is about soldiers who tortured prisoners and took pictures of it. Hersh way of writing this story makes the officers victims for someone else's orders. He mentions that they have no training and talks about other officers that thought the behaviour was wrong. Hersh gives the officers personality by mentioning personal information about them, for example that General Karpinski wanted to be an officer since she was five. He ends the article with repetingly qouting people who says that this is was orders from someone else and that the officers are just a brick in a game.

I really enjoyed reading "The killer elite" and this is also the article I'm going to do my analysis on. Wright has a fun way of writing and he uses things I like to use myself. He doesn't judge in his text, he just writes it as he hears it and sees it. He is very distant from the subjects and the places he describes in the article until he gets to the shooting in Al Gharraf, then he mention "I" and how he felt when all that was going on. I like how he takes everything down to a personal level and let the ones who are actual in it describe what it is. He as a journalist is not in it until the shooting and that occur on page 10 of 16. It is fun to read even though it is about an awful thing.

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