Monthly Archives: February 2012

Syria, Customer Service, Noir And The Godfather, Or A List Of Things To Consider

By: Kiki Keane

I work as a customer service representative (technically I’m still in training). It’s been four days since I have been put on the phones. I just want to throw this bit of advice out there to all those people who utilize customer service. I know that it is frustrating when your stuff doesn’t work or when your bill is more than you expected it to be, but yelling at the person who is there to help you is not going to get the problem resolved quicker. Also, if you’re going to lie to get out of paying a bill, you should make it a lie that can not be contradicted by your account history.

Okay. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Here is a piece of good news coming out of Syria. Apparently a British journalist has been smuggled out of Syria after being trapped for several days in Homs.

Here and here are some other stories about Syria from CNN.

Awesome entertainment news: It is the 40th anniversary of The Godfather this week. In my humble opinion, it is one the best movies ever made. AMC is showing the trilogy this week. I’m watching Part II as I type this!

Also, if you are a noir fan and your looking for a decent contemporary noir novel to pick-up, I would consider Megan Abbott’s Die A Little. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far it is an interesting, easy read.

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Having Issues But Nevertheless…

By: Rachel Womek

My issues are with my new RAW software. I am having trouble accessing it to edit my RAW photos. Luckily for me I also took some JPEG’s. My pictures this time are of Mesilla a town in New Mexico right by Cruces, the Chihuahua Desert, The Organ Mountains, and Water. I had a human in one of my RAW photos but I will have to plead for patience from you Constant Readers. I am going to make myself a laminated Press Pass Reading: The Intrepids-Freelance Photojournalist; or something similar so that people don’t just think I am a creepo. Anyways without further ado:


Jogger on the Ditch

Desert Road

Lone Creosote

Misty Organ Mountians




Categories: Adventure, Free Speech, Goals, Journalism, Media, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OMG…Here We Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

We have decided to stick with making a list of goals for the week even though we were only moderately successful at accomplishing them last week.

Here they are:

Rachel: I will 1) Overcome my inhibitions and practice photographing human “beans” or “fuul” in Arabic (haha) 2) I will finish The Martian Chronicles, 3) I will read more about digital photography, 4) I will be as calm as still water (Kiki scoffs at this).

Kiki: I will 1) read a full book of some kind (not making any quality promises, though), 2) I will get more sleep by not taking my job home with me, 3) I will NOT turn the TV on when I wake-up in the morning, thereby forcing myself to read or think or sleep more…

Collectively we will 1) study Arabic, 2)not spend excessive amounts of money (this will start tomorrow as we are currently spending unnecessary cash at a restaurant), 3) come-up with a relatively good idea of how much $$$$$ we need to get to wherever we are going, 4) buy our tickets before we chicken out!

On a different note, here’s the latest on Syria from MSNBC:

Syrians voted on a referendum that would keep Bashar al-Assad in power until 2028. Also, at least 31 civilians and soldiers were killed in clashes.

Categories: Adventure, Goals, Journalism, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Excessively Long Title To Describe A Concise Summary Of Our Weekly Goals

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

How Did We Do?

Rachel: I completed 5.5 goals this week. I was not murdered by Kiki, nor did I scold anyone for being incompetent! I took some photos and posted them on the blog. I even studied Arabic. I can now say “thanks” (shokran) and “I would like to rent an apartment nearby the market”. I also bought The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, but was only able to read half. I was planning on finishing it today but my day was going so poorly I was unable to focus on reading. I also followed some news stories out of Syria!

Kiki: I blogged earlier in the week about two of the goals I met. 1) I ordered The Berlin-Baghdad Express by Sean McMeekin. 2) I finished my Book Club Book, Nightwoods. The other personal goals I made for myself did not happen. Why? I can’t seem to concentrate on anything but work this week. I have (no kidding!) woken myself from work related nightmares. I hate when that happens. I did, however, achieve two of the collective goals: 1) I caught-up on news coming out of Syria. Here is the latest report on Syria from MSNBC. 2) I found some history titles relating to our goal, which I am about to look for.

We both failed at not spending any unnecessary money this week! We are both wearing proverbial Dunce Caps! In our defense not spending money is hard. I know, it is a lame excuse. Feel free to shame us!

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Syria, Afghanistan, Tanzania And Mars, Or Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before (Except In The Case Of Syria, Tanzania and Afghanistan)

By: Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

To be honest, we have not thought this blog post through. What can we say? It has been a very, very, very busy day for us. Work is just…well, it’s work. It’s the end of the week, but not really. Technically, it’s Thursday for us. And heads-up: those goals we set a week ago…yeah…

We would, however, like to mention some news stories that should be shared:

1) The Red Cross has successfully negotiated the evacuation of wounded Syrian women and children. There are mixed messages about how many people have been evacuated, so far. According to Tweets by ICRC Head of Public Communications, Carla Haddad Mardini, 27 people had been evacuated as of 6 hours ago. No journalists were among them. Here’s the latest report on NBC Nightly News, by Richard Engel.

2) Twelve people have been killed in protest over the burning of copies of the Quran on a NATO in Afghanistan. Here is the latest from the MSNBC website.

3) Ex-Astronaut, Dorothy Jemison is negotiating a sizable grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to determine the feasibility of long term space travel. To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before! I hope they figure it out. I’d (Rachel) like to live on Mars. Read more about it here.

Here’s a fun little something from my (Kiki) favorite reporter. It is the second installment of Richard Engel’s Hidden Planet (featured on Rock Center’s iPad app and the website). It’s about two tribes in Tanzania. Very fun!

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A Brief Photo Oriented Blog

By: Rachel Womek

As fulfilling one of my goals set for the week: Practice photography. The photos aren’t the best there is some noise and other issues. I am setting a big goal for myself to go from zero photography skills to photojournalist by September. Wish me luck guys. I got a small second hand book on photography and after reading it was encouraged to tinker with the setting on the camera: A Nikon D40. After that the photos have been wonky. It’s a learning process. I need to buy that Digital Photography for Dummies!

Categories: Adventure, Free Speech, Goals, Journalism, Media, Photography, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

RIP Marie Colvin

By: Kiki Keane

This should have been written and posted hours ago, but the words just wouldn’t come. They still won’t.

Yesterday, February 22, 2012, the world lost a great reporter and a brave woman. Marie Colvin died during the shelling of the opposition strongholds in Homs by the regime. Colvin was a veteran foreign correspondent. She wrote for The Sunday Times for the last two decades.

I was devastated to hear about Colvin’s death. As silly as it sounds, she was one of my heroes. I have wanted to be a foreign correspondent–to cover war and injustice–for more than a decade. I never thought it was something I could actually do. There just aren’t a lot of female war correspondents out their. But when I came across Colvin in a documentary on female Journalists on the frontlines, I not only knew that it was possible, but that it is something I HAVE to do. Colvin was an inspiration to all the woman out their who do this job and to all those who want to.

Here are some links about Colvin and the attack that killed her: NBC Nightly News by Richard Engel  and Newsday


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Seek Political Asylum For Emilio Gutierrez Soto!!!

By: Rachel Womek

I have something very serious to talk about.

As a citizen of Las Cruces, NM, this case really hits home for me. Right now Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez Soto and his son are seeking Political Asylum here in the U.S. Because of his dedication to Journalism and the pursuit of Truth, Mr.Gutierrez’ life is in severe danger should he be forced to return to his home country.

According to CJFE (Canadian Journalists for Free Expression), Mr. Gutierrez initially reported about corruption in the Mexican Military in 2005; after receiving multiple threats, including a home search, Gutierrez fled to the U.S. in 2008. Initially he was placed in a detention center but was released after 8 months due to the actions of journalist and human rights groups. Currently he is waiting on determination of his case. Political Asylum is very difficult to get in the U.S, especially for Mexicans. Unless we speak out this brave journalist and his son will be sent back to Mexico to await their uncertain fates.

Unless we speak out for Emilio Gutierrez Soto his case will be passed over. Please speak out for Free Speech and Journalist Rights.

I have an example letter to use as a base to send (I would encourage you to change the letter and personalize it):

Mr. Elias Gastelo, Chief Counsel
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
1545 Hawkins Boulevard, Suite 275
El Paso, Texas 79925

Re:Political Asylum in the Matters of:
Emilio Gutierrez Soto, Case No. A# 077-491-780 Oscar Gutierrez Soto, Case No. A# 094-954-970*
Dear Mr. Gastelo:
These cases involve my friends: Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez Soto and
his teen-age son Oscar, now a college student at NMSU, who four years ago
fled for their lives from Mexico into the U.S. as a result of death threats
from the Mexican army and narcotics cartels because of stories Emilio had
written in the newspaper El Diario.  The threats were and are real.  If
Emilio and Oscar had not fled they would have been murdered as have been at
least 74 other Mexican journalists.
When Emilio and Oscar arrived at Antelope Wells, NM Port of Entry seeking
political asylum both were incarcerated, Emilio for about 8 months, Oscar
for a shorter period. This case has received significant national and international
attention.  Surely the Gutierrez family meets the criteria for political asylum.  Like many of us who are fortunate to know and admire these two I am confounded as to why this case has taken so long to adjudicate.  It has been almost four years
and Emilio and Oscar still suffer under the threat of deportation all the
while making friends, leading honorable lives and being self-supporting.
Please expedite this case and put an end to the uncertainty.  Let Emilio
and Oscar remain in the U.S. and give them political asylum.
Thank you,

Rachel Womek

To learn more about Emilio Gutierrez Soto please look here and here.

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By: Kiki Keane

Goals 2 and 4 accomplished!

Nightwoods had an interesting plot and the main character, Luce, is one of the most interesting and likeable fictional personalities I’ve encountered in a long time. However, that is all the praise I will give it. I will not call it a bad book, but I would also not call it a good book. Let’s just say, I probably won’t remember having read it in a few years time.

So, the remaining goals are: To re-read Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy and finish Bernard Lewis’s book Faith and Power: Religion and Politics in the Middle East. Also, all the mutual goals Rachel and I set for ourselves. I must confess that Tinker, Tailer will probably not get re-read this week, but Die A Little might.

That’s all I got today folks! Wish I had more, but that book left me wanting. Can’t seem to think of anything else to say about it.

Oh! Here is a link to a couple of Anthony Shadid’s reports, an account of his capture in Libya and an interview.

Categories: Books, Journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Blog About Not Much, But It Is Still Totally Worth Reading If You Want To See Us Possibly Die By The End Of The Week…

By: Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Since we are terrible at finding things to write about, especially things pertaining to our *goal, we are going to set some personal goals for the week, which we will then blog about. We are doing this in an effort to establish some kind of accountability.

So, here are our goals:

Rachel: My goals for the week are to read an entire non-fiction work; lately I’ve been reading 1/2-3/4’s of books and never finish them. I will also read and entire fictional work, which I have never previously read. Also this week, I will not induce Kiki to murder me. Lastly, I will try not to scold people who don’t know what they are talking about.

Kiki: 1) I will finish (FINALLY!) Bernard Lewis’s book Faith and Power: Religion and Politics in the MIddle East. 2) I will find and acquire the book The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power. 3) I will re-read Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy before I go see the film. 4) I have to finish my book club book, Nightwoods.

Collective: 1) We will study Arabic! 2) We will catch-up on news about Syria, Iran, etc. 3) Take some pictures and post them on our blog! 3) Find some history/current event books pertaining to our goal! 4) Will not spend money unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Rachel also wanted to mention that she went to see The Secret World of Arrietty today. She feels that the film was charming and timeless, something to be enjoyed by people of all ages. The borrowers were sweet and innocent folk, undeserving of the criticism that they have received by those who are biased against tiny humans. Kiki thinks they’re creepy…

FYI: Kiki blogged about Richard Engel’s new iPad series for Rock Center a few days back. The first episode on Timbuktu is now on the Rock Center website. Check it out! 

*Our goal is to leave Las Cruces in September for the Middle East and Africa. This is mostly Kiki’s crazy idea (she is going to attempt to be a Freelance Foreign Correspondent). Rachel is coming along for moral support and to do some photography/video. Please see our Bio for more info.

Categories: Adventure, Goals, Journalism, Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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