Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hollywood...Here I Come!

Hi everyone. I had a very exciting time with Kristin today.

Since it is the weekend, Kristin says we have a few spare hours to explore LA. So today she took me to Hollywood Boulevard. Can you see the street sign behind me in this picture?

I've heard of Hollywood. Kristin says that's because Hollywood is where movies were made many years ago (long before I was born). I guess they still make movies here in the LA area but not as many as they used to.

Anyway...Hollywood Boulevard is the center of activity in Hollywood. It is really cool. All along the sidewalk on both sides of the street there are tons of reddish starts with the names of very famous people on them. This is known as the Walk of Fame. It is really cool!

I saw the stars of many people I recognize and many more that I don't. It is very busy on the sidewalk. Lots of people were crowding around the stars but Kristin was able to get my photo with a few of the stars of famous people or cartoon characters.

Mickey Mouse

Kermit the Frog

Big Bird

Donald Duck

The Simpsons

And Kristin's favorite....Bugs Bunny!

We also walked past the famous Chinese Theatre and the Kodak Theatre. Guess what? The Oscars award ceremony Kristin and I watched on TV last weekend took place and the Kodak Theatre. How cool is that?! This is the Kodak Theatre.

And this is me near the entrance of the Chinese Theatre.

Kristin says it could take us days to look at all of the stars on Hollywood Boulevard so we just walked a few blocks. Then we stopped at a store and Kristin bought me a stuffed black bear with the word "Hollywood" stitched on it and a map of the area so I can learn even more about Hollywood.

I don't need any help naming my new bear. I have decided to call him Oscar. I think that is a good name since he came from the home of the Oscars...Hollywood!

After we left Hollywood Kristin said we had to stop at a beauty salon. I wasn't so sure I wanted to sit and watch Kristin get her hair fixed. Kristin must have seen the look on my face because she immediately told me not to worry. We were just stopping to buy a special hair product at a place called Jonathan. Kristin told me Jonathan is a very famous TV personality and he fixes hair for movie and TV stars! I guess he has his own TV show on a channel called Bravo. I've never seen it but Kristin says she has. He owns two "salons"...or hair shops here in the LA area.

We didn't see Jonathan at the salon we visited but Kristin bought two jars of something called "dirt." I thought this was really cool. I had no idea Kristin liked to play with dirt!

But it turns out the dirt she bought is white and smells like something a girl would wear! It is NOT the dirt I like to play in outside. Instead it is something she puts in her hair. Yuck!

We got very lucky when we arrived near Jonathan's salon. There was a parking spot right across the street. It had a really cool parking meter. It didn't look anything like the ones we have in Muscatine. It was electronic. I must tell Aunt Lynn about this! Plus, it cost 25-cents for 15 minutes! That is WAY more than it costs in Muscatine.

By the way....I'm not sure I have mentioned that the traffic here is really bad. Kristin calls it "crazy" and says it reminds her of driving in Houston, Texas. I've never been to Houston but I do know that it takes a very long time to get anywhere here! Everywhere Kristin drives there seems to be a long line of cars on both sides of the road. I can tell the traffic bothers Kristin. I asked her why. She told me she had never driven in Los Angeles before this trip. Kristin says she learned how to drive in Houston and has driven in other big cities before but she doesn't like to drive in places she doesn't know.

Well I must tell you that Kristin has done a great job of driving. Rima let her borrow a big map of Los Angeles. The map is actually a book that is thicker than the Muscatine phone book. Between the map and the maps Kristin looks at on the computer, Kristin says she hasn't made a single wrong turn. Whew! I am SO glad she is driving. At least I know we won't get lost.

Our big day out made me very tired. I fell asleep in the car on the way back to the hotel. So, Kristin tucked me into bed with Oscar.

Until next time!

Making a Radio Program

Hi everyone. All is well here in Los Angeles (or L-A) as everyone here seems to say.

After Kristin told me about the big award for the foundation's last radio program, I decided I needed to learn a bit more about how Kristin and Rima "mix" a radio program.

On Friday, Kristin helped me understand the process.

First, she and other journalists record sound in the field and interview many people. This is what she and Keith were doing on our trip to Doha and Dubai.

Second, Kristin and others on her team start working on a script. The script is the written version of the radio program. Remember the photo of me with Kristin and her friend David in New York City? That was when David was reading his parts of the script. Kristin and all of the other journalists working on the program also read their portions of the script.

Third, Kristin and the other journalists edit the actual audio that they gathered in the field so it matches the written script. Remember when I was in the foundation's studio in Muscatine a few weeks ago? Kristin was working on editing the script audio. There are many, many pieces of audio that make up a radio program. It is Kristin's job to listen to all of the pieces in Muscatine and then she sends them over the Web to Rima. Kristin also brings all of the pieces of audio...or "bites" with her on a back-up computer. I think this is very smart. That way if something doesn't work on Rima's computer then Kristin should be able to find the audio on her computer.

WOW! Are you confused? I'm not sure I understand all of these steps. But now I know making a radio program is NOT easy.

I was looking at the full show script yesterday and it is VERY long. She calls it the "master script." It is more than 25 pages! And the script Kristin is working with has many different colors and handwritten notes on it. Kristin says this is because sometimes she and Rima have to make changes to the script during the "mix." Kristin sends her notes to Keith and her friends Simon and David every night. THIS is why Kristin always seems to be working every night when we get back to the hotel! Here's what Kristin's "master script" looked like on Friday night. Pretty messy if you ask me!

Once Kristin has done all of the things she needs to do in Iowa, she flies to California to work with Rima. Rima helps Kristin put all of the audio pieces together on the computer in the correct order. Rima uses the same program Kristin does in Muscatine. It is called ProTools. Here you can see me with part of the radio program on Rima's computer.

Kristin says the various pieces of audio are placed onto "tracks." On the computer, each track is a different color. This helps Kristin and Rima stay organized but it sure looks very confusing to me! Kristin and Rima are using several tracks to mix the radio program. Kristin says tracks are like layers of a cake. Each track is separate just like each layer of a big cake is separated with frosting.

Each piece or bite of audio shows up as a rectangle on the tracks. The goal is to connect all of the rectangles together. I told Kristin I think this is like putting my Lego sets together. One piece fits into the next piece. Kristin agreed the mix is similar to building a Lego set.

By the end of the day on Friday, Kristin told me she and Rima had draft versions of roughly 40 minutes of the program. WOW! They must have worked really hard on Wednesday and Thursday while I was playing with Ted and Willa. Tuesday night they had only finished 4 minutes of the program.

When the entire program is done then Rima will put it onto a CD. Kristin then sends the CD to a company that makes many copies of the CD. I hope Kristin will let me have a copy of the final program.

So....that's what I can tell you about making a radio program. I think I am going to have to spend many years in school learning more about radio if I want to have a job like Rima and Kristin.

Oh...I almost forgot. I think I told you Rima helped Kristin with the program that just won the big award. Here you can see me with the CD folder for the winning program, Security Check.

And here you can see me with the "preview" CD folder for the program we are working on now: 24/7: The Rise and Influence of Arab Media.

Kristin says the preview is VERY short sample of the program that is mailed to radio stations so they can get a "taste" of what the final program will sound like. Is it just me or does it seem like that radio people must always be hungry? The words Kristin and Rima use are ones I hear in the kitchen: "bites", "mix", and "taste."

Well all of this is making me hungry so I think I will ask Kristin if we can head to dinner now.

Until next time....

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Hi everyone.

I wanted to send a quick note to let you know that all is OK. Kristin is still very busy at work. She spends all day at Rima's working on her radio program and then spends most of the evening working on e-mail. I'm glad I don't have to work so many hours!

I think her hard work is paying off. Kristin learned this week that the last radio program she and Keith worked on just won a VERY BIG award. Kristin says the program is called "Security Check: Confronting Today's Global Threats." So I don't get it wrong: here's what I know about the award. The radio show won best documentary and the overall grand award for radio in the National Headliners competition. That sounds really important, doesn't it? Kristin says this is better than getting TWO gold stars on homework!

You can see more about the awards at:

Kristin tells me she and Keith will travel to Atlantic City, New Jersey in May for a special awards program. I hope if I am really good on this trip that Kristin will take me take me with her to Atlantic City! Do you know what state Atlantic City is located in?

Kristin says she and Keith traveled to Uganda for that radio program. Kristin also visited Thailand for that radio program. See if you can find those countries on the map.

Kristin also says Rima helped her "mix" the winning radio program. I think I am going to have to spend less time playing with Willa and more time learning what Kristin and Rima are doing every day. Maybe I will learn how to make an award winning radio program.

I knew about the award on Monday but Kristin said I had to keep it a secret until today. I'm not sure why but I promised I wouldn't tell anyone until today. is REALLY hard to keep a secret that long!

I am still having fun with Ted and playing with Willa. Kristin hopes she will get to show me more of Los Angeles this weekend. I told her not to worry. She is busy and I am just happy to be in Los Angeles and seeing new places.

Until next time....

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Piece of Muscatine in California

Hi again.

Kristin is VERY busy working so I don't have much time on the computer tonight but I wanted to give you a brief update on my trip.

Today I discovered that Kristin's friend Rima doesn't actually live IN Los Angeles. She lives in a place called Culver City. It is next to Los Angeles on the map but Culver City is a separate city. I think this must be similar to the way Fruitland is next to Muscatine on the map.

Speaking of Muscatine, today we had lunch at a local restaurant called Coco's. Guess what? Kristin says the ketchup on our table was made in Muscatine! She says she can tell by the small black letters on cap of the bottle. How cool is that! We found something made in Muscatine right here in California!

I am starting to realize that it takes a great deal of patience to make...or "mix" a radio program. Even more patience than it takes to travel! This means Kristin doesn't get to spend much time with me. But that's OK because I have Ted and Willa to play with. Willa jumped and barked when we got to Rima's house today. I think Willa was excited to see me.

Today is was very sunny and about 60 degrees. So I played outside for part of the day because the weather is so nice.

Kristin says she and Rima finished a draft version of THREE more minutes of the show today. That's way more than yesterday. But if my math is correct, that means Kristin and Rima have 50 more minutes to complete. Whew....good thing I have some toys with me. I think Kristin is going to be very busy for the entire trip!

Until next time.....

Monday, March 06, 2006

My New Friends Rima and Willa

Hi everyone!

Today was my first full day in Los Angeles. I am here because Kristin is still working on her radio program.

Today, I learned that she is working on the last part of the show ( sure seems like Kristin and Keith have to spend a lot of time and work making a radio program!).

Kristin says the final step in making a radio program is something called "the mix." This is where all of the many pieces of audio recorded for the program are put together to make one program. Kristin says it is like making cookies. She has to put all of the ingredients into the computer, "mix" them, and then the computer will play the final radio program. I'm still not sure I understand all of this but I expect I will learn more about "the mix" during my visit here.

Kristin is in Los Angeles because her friend Rima helps her with the mix. Kristin says Rima is a genius. That means Rima is REALLY smart at making a good radio program. Rima is very nice.

Rima has equipment similar to the equipment in Kristin's studio at the Stanley Foundation. But Rima's studio is located in her house. How convenient! Rima owns a business is called "Red Wagon Audio." Thus, Rima has many red wagons in her house. She also likes trolls. So here I am in one of Rima's wagons with one of her trolls.

Rima also has a great big dog named Willa. Willa is very nice too! I think she must really like Kristin because Willa jumps and barks every time Kristin walks into Rima's house. Kristin packed a special container of dog treats before we left Iowa and now I know why. She was bringing them for Willa!

Here I am with Rima and Willa. Willa is a bit camera shy but I had great fun playing with her today. I know Kristin thought I would be bored while she worked all day but between Willa and Ted (my plane) I am very happy.

I noticed today when I wasn't playing with Willa and Ted that Rima and Kristin were listening to the same sounds OVER AND OVER again. On the way back to the hotel I asked Kristin why. She says this is normal. She says she and Rima will listen to the same bits of audio dozens of times to make sure it is in the right spot in the program and to make sure it sounds OK. I thought it all sounded just fine but Kristin and Rima said they could hear "clicks" and other noises that must be fixed or the program won't sound good. Wow...they must have really good ears!

Kristin says the final radio program will be around 54 minutes long. Guess what? Today they finished what Kristin calls a "draft" version of the FIRST MINUTE of the show. Kristin has sent the draft to Keith and her friends Simon and David to listen to. She says they may want changes before she and Rima can finish the first minute of the show.

The first minute is called "the billboard." And given how long it takes to make the first minute of the show....I wonder if we will end up here longer than two weeks! Good thing I have Willa and Ted to keep me busy.

Until next time.....

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Greetings from Los Angeles!

I everyone. I am now in sunny Los Angeles, California. But I must tell you I had yet another adventure getting here!

The weather in Muscatine this morning was very bad. It was snowing, raining, and raining small ice pellets when we left Kristin's house at 6:30AM. Kristin's husband, Eugene, drove us to the airport in Moline. It was a VERY scary ride. Kristin's SUV was slipping and sliding all over the road at one point. Eugene told me it was the worst weather he has driven in in a long time.

But Eugene got us to the airport safely and on time! Thanks Eugene for getting us to the airport safely! Eugene even stopped to have breakfast with us before our plane left for Chicago.

We had a very long wait at the airport once we reached Chicago. Kristin was worried that I would be bored waiting for our flight to Los Angeles so she kindly bought me a stuffed version of a United Airlines plane. It is really cool! When you squeeze it, it makes the sound a plane does when it takes off. And it really sounds like that in real life!

So I played with my plane as we waited in the same business lounge we waited in with Keith when we went on our Doha trip. I have decided to name my plane Ted. I saw some planes today with the name "Ted" on them. Kristin says that Ted is part of United. So I think it is a perfect name for my new plane.

I also got to spend time watching airplanes land and take-off and the workers move luggage and cargo while waiting in the lounge. I LOVE watching the planes. When I grow up I think I might want to learn how to fly an airplane.

I was in for a big treat when I got on our flight for Los Angeles. Kristin's seat was in FIRST CLASS. Kristin says it is a special part of the plane that costs lots more money. But, she got her seat for FREE! Kristin's seat was much bigger and softer than the seats she normally sits in. Here you can see me in her big seat.

In First Class, we also got a hot lunch and they even baked warm cookies for us! Kristin and Keith have never gotten anything special like that when I've been on trips with them before. So I had to ask Kristin how she got her cool seat for free. It turns out that Kristin is a member of a special club for people who fly a lot (and she sure spends lots of time on airplanes). Kristin says she earns "miles" and "awards" every time she flies. She says this is similar to the allowance I earn every week for cleaning my room and doing chores. Kristin says she can "spend" her miles to upgrade her seat to First Class. She says she can't always do this because sometimes award seats are not available. I'm glad it was available today. I had a very nice time in First Class.

It was snowing and cold when we left Chicago but it is sunny and warm here in Los Angeles. Once we arrived at the airport, Kristin picked up her luggage and then we boarded a bus similar to the ones in Muscatine. It took us to a place called Budget Rental Cars. Normally when I arrive at an airport with Kristin, someone picks us up or we take a cab to the hotel. But Kristin says it is easier and cheaper to rent a car here since we will be here for two weeks.

As luck would have it...our hotel, Embassy Suites, is located right next to the rental car place. Our room is very nice. It has a separate living room and TWO televisions. It also has a microwave and a small refrigerator (although it is not filled with food and drinks like at the hotels in New York and Washington). Kristin says not to worry. She will take us to a grocery store when we are out tomorrow.

Throughout the day I kept hearing people talk about a guy named Oscar. I had NO idea who this Oscar person was but everywhere we were today, people were talking about him. Finally I asked Kristin, "Who is this Oscar person?" It turns out that "Oscar" is a major award for the movie industry. Kristin says the Oscar itself is like a one I would win in sports. Except she says Oscar is worth a LOT of money.

Guess what? TONIGHT is Oscar night here in Los Angeles. That's because Kristin says the American movie industry is based here in the Los Angeles area. I had no idea! Now I know why everyone was talking about the Oscars.

Kristin says many movie stars are in Los Angeles tonight for the awards ceremony. She says they dress up in special suits and big formal dresses and they arrive at the ceremony by walking down a red carpet. I wanted to go see the red carpet but Kristin said there would be way too many people and she is tired. But, I did get to see the Oscars on TV tonight. And I think Kristin was right. It was just fine to watch the Oscars on TV.

Well that's all for now. I am really tired and I need to get to bed. Kristin says we have a lot of work to do beginning tomorrow.

So until next time....