Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's okay. I hear there's protein in melamine!

You see this picture? It ran in Saturday's A section of the WSJ in a story about tainted milk products from China making their way into the U.S. Scary stuff. White Rabbit (xiao bai!) candy and Mr. Brown coffee products are on the FDAs warning list.

So, I took that photo. At the bodega around the corner from my apartment. I eat White Rabbit candy all the time and practically lived off of them for four months when I was in Shanghai. When my editor asked if I knew what they were, I could feel my stomach clench. When I was trotting around interviewing people on Friday, no one had any idea that they were selling anything potentially dangerous.

This isn't the first time I've experienced sketchy China. I brushed my teeth with fun for months before realizing there could be lead in there. I survived!

But if tomorrow I curl up in a fetal position and start twitching, you'll know why.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Young People Sucking at Investing

"I don't even have one K, let alone 401 Ks."

When a source for this D1 WSJ story about investing told me that, my first reaction was to laugh. But then when I went home that night, it kind of made me sad. I crunched some numbers in my head and realized that someday, I'll be a millionaire. Anyone my age needs to be if they want to offset the lack of social security, increasing health costs, inflation, and so on and so on.

Everyone, start investing. At the risk of sounding overly maternal, you can now with 15 minutes and $50, so no excuses!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Front page makes front page

Okay, so this is kind of meta, but whatever.

My front page WSJ story about slug queens in Oregon made the front page of my hometown's paper, the Register-Guard, where my journalism career began. (Is this the circle of media life???)

I will send chocolate to the first person who emails me, promising to send me a print copy. Most likely, it will be my grandma, who, in spite of all this publicity is still my biggest fan. (Even though she's previously referred to the WSJ as "that conservative rag." Love ya, Grams!)

UPDATE: It was on local teevee, too! Ha!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Slug Queens on A1 of today's WSJ

The idea of a feature about slug queens came about when in casual conversation, I mentioned to someone that in my hometown, little girls grow up dreaming of becoming a different kind of pageant royalty. I thought that was normal to aspire for a slimy title. I soon learned otherwise.

Getting this story involved heading back to my hometown in Oregon after a one-year hiatus and seeing it through the eyes of a reporter rather than a former townie. I completed most of the reporting right before the collapse of Freddie and Fannie and look back on those days fondly. (It's been a financial news crapstorm ever since.) And getting factchecking calls from editors on Friday about wig colors, heel heights and how to spell "Bananita" was a nice change of pace. I even dabbled in photography and video! (Wee album of extra shots on Flickr, too.)

It's nestled on page one right below a rather sobering story about the collapse of Wall Street as we know it. Today, we needed a story about a queen.

PS - Notes: a roundup of more strange pageants I came across.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In which I investigate your pockets!

The Wallet has launched!

It's a long-overdue personal finance blog from the WSJ. Now you can know my thoughts on personal finance all the time. God help us all.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Take that glass ceiling and shove it

My profile of Muriel Siebert just went live on wsj.com. Siebert was the first woman to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. And to be perfectly frank, she's a total badass. Enjoy.

And video, complete with my stressed out narration, too.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

UPDATE: The Bicycle Wheel Fairy (BWF)

When last we left Days of Our Lives, my bike wheel had been stolen for a second time.

This week, not only has a new wheel appeared, but someone has attached it to the bike! It's ready to go! The wheel fits.

Bless ya, BWF, wherever you are!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Another Chapter in the Ripoff Story

Prepaid debit cards have lots of fees. Gross. (It's in D1 of today's print WSJ, too.)

Also, back in NYC from a shockingly sunny stay in Oregon. Took in the 3.1 Phillip Lim show yesterday during fashion week. Farms! Finance! Fashion! All in 24 hours!

I dug Lim's collection. He's really into that whole hot-librarian-chic thing. Side note: totally had a great view of Anna Wintour. I looked into her eyes and saw her soul. I think there was a silk-poly blend involved.

This morning I had a really hard time getting to my desk at the World Financial Center. THE FREEDOM IS BURNING MY EYES!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dispatch from the Northwest

I'm in Eugene, Ore., my hometown for the first time in about a year. Here, in no particular order, are some notes thus far.

-If you fly into the Eugene airport, you will be greeted by a skanky duck (see left). I was nervous getting off the plane because there was nowhere to see which baggage claim carousel would have my luggage. Then I remembered that there is only one baggage claim.

-Yesterday, outside of Wandering Goat coffee, I parked the family minivan on a nearby street (free parking!) and slowly exited, in search of java. While walking out, I heard a soft crunch. I turned around and saw an old, bearded man behind the wheel of an ancient 70s van (God only KNOWS what he had in back) looking perplexed as the rear of his mystery machine crumpled the minivan's license plate. His window was unrolled, so I walked over. "Hey, you hit my license plate." He took a whiff of a "rolled cigarette" that smelled like earth muffin and craned his neck. "Dude, bummer. I didn't see it, man." I surveyed the damage and realized that it wasn't worth it to get hippie man's insurance info (if he had insurance) and the crinkle was minor. "Be careful," I told him. "Bummer," his Moses beard shook back and forth. "Bummer." He took a drag, puffed a cloud of magic smoke and sputtered off to the West.

-My father, Myron, has a debit card, but still writes checks. It clogs lines at the grocery store, is annoying and crushes my personal-finance-reporter soul. If he needs cash, he enters the bank, and writes a check to "CASH" rather than just asking the teller for money or popping his card into the ATM outside. When I politely asked him about the batshit lunacy of this system, he replied "That's just the way I do it." The iPod Nano I gave him for Christmas a few years back is collecting dust, too. Oh, The Olds.

-I'm trying to scan and organize my family photos a la David Pogue. There's some AMAZING stuff in the Morse-Pilon garage. More on that, later.

-As if the video store of my childhood morphing into a pet store wasn't depressing enough, Ferrel's (later called Pearl Street) ice cream parlor is no more. Some trendy, NoCal pizza bistro garbage has replaced it. Goodbye, childhood.

-If you google "monroe park eugene oregon," the top result is this scary blog. I couldn't finish my organic bagel.

-When walking toward my car from a store in the mall parking lot, I reached into my purse and pulled out a Metro Card. It didn't fit into the keyhole.

Oh, and there's sooo much more. Savin' it for the memoirs!