This I Believe

We all have our own beliefs, morals, and ideas. What would you write down if someone handed you a card and told you to write what you believe?




The debt crisis in America has had everyone around the world on edge. The clock is slowly ticking as the House and Senate have until Tuesday, August 2, 2011 to reach an agreement to avert the debt crisis. The U.S. government has reached the legal limit of how much debt it can have. They know that they must control the $14 trillion debt, but the two parties cannot agree on how it must be done. The Democrats argue that they still must spend in the recession and cannot cut funds, especially from healthcare programs for the elderly and poor. On the other hand, the Republicans argue that they must cut funding and not raise taxes. If the Democrats and Republicans cannot pass a bill both sides can agree on by August 2, the government’s funds will dry up and  they will be unable to pay for Medicaid, social security, military salaries, and debt interest payments. It is said that if nothing is done, we will fall into a worse recession than the one in 2008.

  • There are many minute-to-minute news about the U.S. Debt crisis; the Telegraph has been updating informative and important stories every few minutes.
  • To get a quick summary of how the U.S. has gotten into the debt crisis and what could possibly happen, there is a good Q&A in the Guardian.
  • CNN Money has a FAQ to explain what a debt ceiling is and why one is in place.
  • The Members of Congress passed the the budget bill 269 to 161 Monday night. It now goes to the Senate to vote.
  • Can the U.S. remain the most powerful country in the world after this ordeal? That is the question British journalist, Dominic Sandbrook from the Daily Mail asks.
  • Only seven months after being shot by Jared Loughner in Tucson, Gabrielle Giffords made a surprising appearance at the House Monday night to cast her vote.
  • It makes you dizzy and confused, but U.S. Debt Clock explains how much debt the U.S. is in and why through math and figures.
  • What do Americans think about the debt deal? Fox News walks the streets in New York to ask citizens what their opinions are.
  •  Mark Meckler, the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, is playing the blame game by accusing John Boehner for badly handling the debt crisis. In a yahoo interview, Meckler calls Boenher’s debt ceiling increase proposal an embarassment.

39 Steps Review

The 39 Steps is one of the longest running theater productions on the West End in London, playing at the Criterion Theater since September 2006. It is adapted from John Buchan’s 1915 novel, but most famously follows Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 adventure film. How does it live up to the classic Hitchcock mystery thriller?

The Criterion Theater is located right off of Piccadilly Circus tube station, the West End area of shopping, bright neon signs, and endless entertainment. The Criterion is quite large for a play theater, holding up to 588 people. The very bright and rosy pink seats create a perfect crescent around the small, minimally decorated and propped stage.  One can only complain about one of two things: the seats that creak at a slight movement or the “too pink and girly” feeling of the theater.

The plot follows Richard Hannay, the handsome man with the perfect pencil moustache, who is persuaded by Annabella Schmidt to take her back home to his flat. There, he discovers she is a spy who uncovered the secret of the 39 Steps and is being chased by assassins. Hannay wakes up the next morning and finds Schmidt dead with a bread knife sticking out of her back. He realizes it is up to him to stop the secret of the 39 Steps from leaving the country. Hannay finds himself trying to find a professor in Scotland to save the secret while being chased by police who accuse him of murder. This exciting and adventurous plot keeps the audience longing to find out what happens next.

The 39 Steps has a cast of four actors who play 139 characters total. They play everything from a strict and angry farmer and police officers to old and nearly deaf grandfathers. It is quite amazing how the actors can go from a Scottish professor to a farmer’s wife in less than 15 seconds. It definitely takes talent and hard work to play 139 characters.

“And this bullet stuck among the hymns, eh? Well, I’m not surprised Mr. Hannay. Some of those hymns are terrible hard to get through.” This play is the perfect example of dry, British humor. It is well incorporated with the minimal amount of props. The audience members must participate in the play and use their imagination to see the characters in the different settings. An example is the train scene; they create the train by using boxes as train seats and train whistles and track noises to add emphasis that the characters are on a train.

It is quite easy to see why 39 Steps is one of the longest running plays in the West End: the humor.  Everyone, whether a tourist or a Londoner, should see this production. The drycomedy might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but  if one wants to really experience what British humor is, it is a must-see. They will have a night full of puns, laughter, and slapstick comedy.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Photography has been a way to remember specific moments of our lives . We take pictures of family vacations by the lake or the day of high school graduation. Once a camera is in front of our face, we stop what we are doing, stand in front of a beautiful backdrop, smile, and say “Cheese!” Even years ago, our ancestors would stand in front of their house and wait for 15 minutes for the camera to take a still photograph. Everything is staged.

I believe you really do not capture life if we always stand in front of the camera and smile. Of course those pictures are necessary, but the photo albums should not be full of staged moments.

This summer, I have been focusing on people who are not expecting the camera in front of their face. I believe that is the only way to really understand and see what life is really all about. It is amazing what kind of pictures you can take when people are not expecting to have their photographs taken. You can feel them pondering about something.  You can feel their love, romance, annoyance, happiness, curiosity, or boredom. There are emotions in those kinds of pictures…emotions that cannot be snapped in a staged “Say Cheese” photo. This is the way to capture life’s moments.

Enjoying Food Diet

Why are Americans so fat? There are countless numbers of diets: Atkins, Weight Watchers, Slimming World, pill diets, etc. Everyone’s New Year’s resolution is “I will eat less and exercise more” or “I will lose 20 pounds this year.” There are so many ways to “Lose 40 pounds in only 6 weeks,” yet America is one of the most obese countries in the world. One-third of American adults are classified as obese and 12.5 million children between the ages of 2-19 are obese according to the National Health and and Examination Survey.

This past weekend, I went to Italy for a fun weekend getaway with friends. A good friend of mine and I decided to not think about how much we were going to eat and just splurge on Italian dishes. “I will just exercise all the gelato, pasta, and pizza we eat once we get back to the states,” she stated. However, I could not help but notice how skinny the Italians were. How could they eat so many carbs and drink glasses of wine with every meal and stay thin?

We Americans work so hard to skip breakfast, eat a skimpy salad for lunch, push ourselves to eat smaller portions for dinner , vigariously count the calorie intake, and then go to the gym to burn the rest off. Yet, why are we so fat?

A New Diet

Joining the countless numbers of diet fads, I am going to introduce a new one in the states. It is not a new concept; it has been around for years (I mean the Europeans have been doing it for years), but we Americans tend to overlook it. It will be called  The Enjoying Food Diet.

The Enjoying Food Diet follows the European way of eating: enjoying the food in front of you. I noticed that when the Italians sit down for dinner, they socialize with their friends and family and eat their meals for the entire evening, unlike the American style of “get food as fast as you can and get out.” In the states, if we do not get in and out within 45 minutes with a full belly, it is too slow for our fast-paced lives.

The Investment to Enjoy

How does The Enjoying Food “Diet” work? There is no need to eat only certain foods or to count calories, something I noticed that only Americans are obsessed with. Instead, it is about the investment of time to enjoy the meal in front of you.

Coffeeloversportal summarized the way Europeans eat the best on their blog: “Europeans realize that food is first enjoyed with the eyes and take great care in the way that their food looks. Eating is a vital part of their daily schedule and they don’t skimp on how long it takes to properly enjoy it. Alcohol is an important part of any meal but it is limited to a single glass. The wine is meant to be taken in slowly and not overdone.”

Our Obsession with Time

Americans are so obsessed with time. “Do I have time to do x, y, or z?” “I have no time…” “I have too many deadlines.” We never take the time to enjoy something as simple as a meal with family and friends. Because we need to finish that paper before the weekend, we get McDonalds for a five minute chow time during the commute home.

If we Americans just take the time to savor the taste and laugh at our friend’s latest joke, we become happier and healthier people. Take an hour out of your hectic day and sit down with the ones you love and talk over a glass of wine.  Eat the food with all your senses, not just the stomach. Make it a pleasurable and social atmosphere.

We will then stop thinking about the amount of fat we are intaking. We will stop criticizing ourselves for eating a pizza instead of a salad. We will finally find something happy and relaxing in our crazy fast-paced lives.

On July 22, 2011, Andres Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old right-winged extremist, dressed up in a police uniform and made his way to the island of Utoya where the Norwegian Labour Party’s annual youth summer camp was being held. It was attended by 600 teenagers ages from 12-18.

After arriving on the island, Breivik acted as a police officer and gathered the people around. He stated that he was doing a routine check following the bombing in Oslo merely a few hours earlier. He then pulled out his weapon and fired at anyone on the island. He later started shooting those who were trying to escape the island by swimming to safety.

The shooting lasted for an hour and a half, ending when Breivik surrended to the police. It is reported that Breivik used hollow-point bullets, which increase tissue damage. Although police are still searching for surviviors, they believe the death toll to be 68 casualties, most of them were youth aged 15 and 16.

Today, a Guardian post of a survivor’s account of the massacre has been taking over twitter. One tweeter posted: “A gripping survivor’s account of swimming away from the Utoya island, one stroke at a time for each of  her family.” “What a brave young woman,” another tweeter replied.

To read the heartwrenching account of the Utoya massacre survivor, you can read her story here.

Vox Pops Practice

First run with the camera on the Southbank.

I had to leave class early the day we edited our clips, so the product is unfinished and a bit rough.