Author Archives: stephanieespina1

Twitter Thrives on Mobile Technology and Real Time Updates

Summer is over and college students are making their way back to campus.

Summer is over and college students are making their way back to campus.

By: Stephanie Espina
Evan Williams went to “Burn the Floor” last night and it was fantastic. David Ortiz is eating lunch with a headache at work. Lance Armstrong made it to Paris and thinks it will be good to spend time on some old training roads. Most internet users have heard of Facebook and Myspace, but Twitter seems to be making a name for itself in the social networking realm. It answers a simple, tempting and ambiguous question: “What are you doing?”
Combining the elements of a typical social networking site and utilizing mobile technology as its main source of distribution, Twitter has made it possible for people to directly communicate with many friends at the same time. Just how many friends? A ton.
“Everyone uses the service differently, which is one of the reasons it’s become so popular,” says technology blogger and Twitter user Ed Kohler in a recent blog. “Over time, you’ll figure out who’s using Twitter in a way that’s interesting to you,” he says. One of the beauties of Twitter is that you can schedule “off hours” so your phone or inbox of choice is not too overwhelmed with incoming status updates. “This is useful if you have friends who like to do some drinking and Twittering late into the night, or if you have friends in different time zones,” says Kohler.
Once you are a registered user on, you are given the option to “follow” interesting strangers, companies, media outlets, celebrities or personal friends. Once you have established which profiles you would like to receive updates from, you will then choose the method in which you would like to receive that information. For the not-so-text-savvy, this might be a good way to start learning more about mobile updates and making use of the power of texting. Once you have an update you would like to share, text the Twitter site by texting the number “40404.” Keep in mind that the body of the message cannot exceed 140 characters and that Twitter will broadcast to all of those lovely “followers” of yours. If you would rather not receive text updates and if you do not have a big text plan you can send updates traditionally through the Twitter website or via instant message services like AIM or Google Talk.
You can even follow Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. In a recent TedTalks video podcast, Williams spoke about the importance of using a social tool like Twitter. “The fundamental idea is Twitter lets people share moments of their lives whenever they want…by sharing these moments as they’re happening it lets people feel more connected and in touch despite distance and real time,” he said. What the creators didn’t anticipated according to Williams, were the additional uses that evolved from this particular system. “It seems like when you give people easier ways to share information, more good things happen.”
You will be notified whenever the people you are following are sending a Twitter update. You can also subscribe to other Twitter user’s updates by clicking the “ADD” link on their profile page. If you choose this option, this does not mean they can receive your updates just because you interested in them. Twitter is less about posting or tagging pictures an more about simply updating users on what other users are doing or experiencing on a daily basis. The content you wish to provide can be informative, strategic in guiding your Twitter followers to particular action or realization or it can merely serve as an expressive outlet after an eventful day.
Additionally, if you log onto “” you are able to search any event, issue or topic and see who is there sending a “tweet” about it on Twitter.
“I can see how an outlet like Twitter can be useful for all kinds of people,” said Harriman resident and father of two, David Ortiz. “I get updates from the New York Times [and] the New York Yankees but I also follow faithful bloggers who use twitter to increase their fan base,” he said. “If you like fast communication, getting updates on information you are interested in and promoting yourself or ideas you think other people should know about, then there is no doubt Twitter is for you.”


Mixed Feelings as Seniors Prepare to Say ‘Goodbye’

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

By: Stephanie Espina

For some seniors, the digital countdowns hanging on the walls of academic buildings seem more like a death sentence than a countdown to liberation.

Those about to graduate already have plenty on their minds: “Where can I get a dress for Senior Formal?” “Will anyone hire me?” “Where did the past four years go?” and yet each one knows that they will be hearing “The Pomp and Circumstance” whether they’re ready for it or not.

“Sometimes I don’t think I should be graduating, or that four years passed by so quickly, but it has and it’s weird to me,” says senior Victoria Banks. Looking down at a pile of research papers she sighs, “It’s bittersweet.”

Banks, originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin is unsure whether she will relocate to the New York area upon graduation and is in the process of finding a full time job. It was her attendance to Marist’s annual River Festival, where reality settled in.

“I had just realized it was one of the last times I’d be out with my Marist friends on the river and that was difficult for me to grasp,” says Banks. “I completely balled my eyes out…and it made my friends cry too.

Many senior attendees swaying and singing the words to “It Ends Tonight” looked up at the fireworks and shared the same feelings as Banks, where an ending was the last thing they could possibly want.

Then again, some seniors feel ready to move on.

“Although it doesn’t feel like four years, I know I’ve put in the time and energy,” says senior Vincent Anthony, taking a bite into a buffalo chicken wrap. “It feels good to graduate and be done.”

Anthony is a Business Administration major at Marist and just recently completed his extensive capping project. The completion of a capping course relative to one’s major is a strict requirement for graduation. Weeks of preparation are involved and once the course is completed, any other assignment seems pleasantly feasible.

“Once capping is over, you are on top of the world,” says Anthony.

Banks, about to pick up her pile of papers and head for her 2 o’clock class stops to think about what she will miss the most about her college experience.

“I’ll miss this little community we’re all in,” she says. “I’ll miss the landscape, the grass and I know I’ll definitely miss the view of the Hudson River.”

Anthony pauses after finishing his tasty lunch courtesy of the Cabaret.

“I mean it’s sad to know that I won’t be in college anymore and I won’t see some of my favorite people every day,” says Anthony. “But then I feel excited and happy about ending this chapter in my life. I’m really looking forward to discovering new things.”

Seniors will receive their diplomas on Saturday, May 23rd.

Editor’s Note

The River Reporters are at it again, exploring the many components of the local Hudson Valley and Marist community. In this issue we dig deeper into extraordinary individuals, investigate the on-campus housing shortage, seniors’ thoughts on healthcare, and take a look at a survivor’s account of the Holocaust and student reactions to the earthquake in Italy. We also offer you a mini-guide to dining in the Poughkeepsie area, discuss magazine internships and tell you why HBO hit show Flight of the Concords has people talking. Interested in running? You might be more so with the inception of the warm weather. With summer creeping up on us, students are planning and anticipating for summer and are more than ready for it. Throughout our reporting, we hope to enlighten, engage and entertain our readers. So tell us what you think!

Stephanie S. Espina

Video Chat: The Key for Long-Distance Relationships?

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

By: Stephanie Espina

Maintaining relationships often proves to be a not-so-easy task, especially when you are deprived of actually seeing your significant other in his or her flesh and blood.

Most people avoid long distance relationships like the plague and firmly believe that eventually, it will not end up working out. Thanks to the advances made in real time video technology, couples are able to condense long distances and communicate through the Internet using various video software including Skype, which provides free online calls, video chats and instant messaging, iChat, which is a software component of Apple Mac computers, integrating real time video chat into instant messaging software.

“I thought that I would ever be able to keep up my relationship with Jason,” said 22-year-old Kara Pirozzi of Long Island University. “We Skype all the time and it gives you the sense that you are with one another because unlike chatting or sending an e-mail, you can see their reactions, hear their voice and literally show them everyday things you would want to normally share with them.”

Pirozzi has been dating Jason Fema, 25, for a year and seven months crediting a mutual friend for setting them up at a wedding. Fema resides and works full-time in San Francisco, California.

“I went to California to visit him for a week, and by the time I had to go back home, we both knew that we wanted to take the next step and continue seeing each other,” said Pirozzi. “I think we were both at a point in our lives where we were ready to settle down.”

With graduation around the corner, Pirozzi says as much as the Internet has helped her relationship, she would like to see him in “flesh and bone” as much as possible.

“A huge part of me is always yearning to see him and I think that as great as technology is, it really can’t replace human affection,” says Pirozzi. “I would recommend video-chat programs, sure, but that can only last so long.”

Pirozzi’s future plans include relocating to San Francisco to pursue a full-time job, and move in with Fema. After her graduation from Long Island University, Pirozzi will also be graduating from the online world of video chatting.

“I can’t wait to start this new chapter in our lives, and I can’t wait to not have to rely on a computer to see the one person I want to see the most.”

There Are Plenty of Fish…On the Internet: A Look at Online Dating


Courtesy of Google Images

By: Stephanie Espina

When married couples like the Warners and the Shumways answer the inevitable question of how they first met, they aren’t surprised at people’s initial reactions: A wide-eyed expression that changes from shock to curious fascination. The couple, like 40 million other Americans in search of love, “logged on” never bearing the thought that they would ultimately find their soulmate. 

According to NBC Nightly News, in 2006 online dating sites generated a whopping $768 million in revenue, evidence that many people are riding the new wave of modern dating. It’s estimated that this figure will nearly double at $1.4 million by 2010. 

“For me, chatting online was an outlet to meet new people,” says Montana native, Lora Warner. “I lived in a small town and by talking online I could meet a lot of different people and I loved hearing different people’s stories.”

Lora and Justin Warner met ten years ago through Yahoo Chat, then, one of the few dating sites available on the Internet. After one year of chatting, e-mails, and eventually phone calls they finally decided to meet.

“He was in Chicago for a class trip and went out to St. Louis to visit his brother and I,” said Warner. “Then I went to see him in New York a few months later. When we did meet it was very comfortable because we knew each other so well.”

The Warners will be married six years this May and are the proud parents of a 1-year-old boy named Jacob. 

“Some people who ‘knock’ online dating might not need it,” says Warner. “It has to be right for the person and they have to have the right expectations.”

With a bulk of the media spotlight resting on the deception or dangers of online dating and primetime television shows like Dateline NBC’s “How To Catch a Predator,” for the skeptical seeker, online dating doesn’t seem so appetizing. People like 30-year-old Justin Shumway roll their eyes at the thought. 

“Some people are afraid they’re going to meet a creep,” says Shumway. “What they don’t understand is you can meet a creep anywhere.”

Justin and  Ananda Shumway of Wappingers Falls, New York found each other on a popular online dating resource,,waiting just three weeks to meet in person and 22 months to tie the knot. The two married in October of 2008 and can say that they’ve found happiness as a result of online dating.

“I didn’t need to be brave and walk up to her,” said Shumway. “It was comfortable knowing she was there for the same reason.”

As for married life, Shumway describes it to be “great”.

Warner says, “Meeting online gave us our start, but like any relationship it takes work and we have grown together over time.”

“I mean [there are] ups and downs, but what couple doesn’t [have that]?…I love my wife more every day.”

A Sweet Deal: Local Business Holds Maple Syrup Demonstration

By: Stephanie Espina

“We make life a little sweeter.”

It’s a statement that certainly characterized this year’s New York Maple Festival in Rhinebeck, New York and is the motto of the family-run Remsburger Maple Farm & Apiary. Interested spectators literally got a taste of what it is like to produce and consume one of the sweetest and stickiest natural products in the state: maple syrup

Courtesy of Poughkeepsie Journal

Courtesy of Poughkeepsie Journal

The month of March is the time of year that recognizes the production of maple syrup in the Northeast. As the third largest producer of maple syrup in the world and the second largest U.S. producer, New York is home to a number of small farm businesses that are centered on the production and sale of maple syrup. One of these businesses is the Remsberger Maple Farm & Apiary located in Pleasant Valley, New York.

Dennis Remsburger adding wood to evaporator used to produce maple syrup.

Dennis Remsburger adding wood to evaporator at Rhinebeck demonstration.

“My family’s been making maple syrup for three generations,” said owner, Dennis Remsburger. “I remember when we were kids making maple syrup,” he said. “I decided that I loved it so much that I would leave my job, start the farm, and do it full time.”

The Remsburger family has about 1,500 taps installed for this year on up to 1,000 acres of land. During the season, which runs from the second week of February until the end of March, they have collected up to 500 gallons. To make their maple syrup it takes 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup when using a 3 foot by eight foot evaporator that boils the sap. In order to produce syrup, sap must boil at 219 degrees Fahrenheit, seven degrees more than the boiling point of water. They also have to eliminate 39 gallons of water to get their finished product.

“Most people don’t realize when they grab maple syrup off the shelf how labor intensive it is,” said Keith Waldron, brother-in-law of Dennis Remsburger and Resmburger Farm & Apiary worker. “Right after you collect you have to boil that collected sap immediately because you can’t store sap due to bacteria build up. It leads to a lesser quality product.”

People getting a taste of what it is like to produce maple syrup.

People getting a taste of what it is like to produce maple syrup.

The Remsburger family has conducted maple syrup demonstrations throughout the New York area which have attracted thousands of people each year. This was their first demonstration at the Dutchess County fairgrounds. They offered tree tapping and sap boiling demonstrations, as well as a hearty breakfast of pancakes topped with none other than home made maple syrup. “We had a solid turnout,” said Waldron. “It’s been steady so it’s been really good.”

As far as continuing the Remsburger family tradition and holding future demonstrations, Remsburger reflected on why he is in this line of work. “For us, it gets labor intensive and we do work hard, but it’s a lot of fun,” said Remsburger. “We enjoy the process…I think it’s a wholesome living.”

Local Non-Profit Gives Youth a Voice

By Stephanie Espina

Children's Media Project
Courtesy of CMP Myspace Images

If you drive down Academy Street in the city of Poughkeepsie, you might pass a building that resembles an old firehouse – the Lady Washington Firehouse to be exact. If you take a closer look, you will notice that this building now serves a different purpose. It is, and has been for the past five years, a community media production house.

The Children’s Media Project was started by award-winning filmmaker Maria Marewski. This non-profit organization moved to 20 Academy Street five years ago but the program has existed since 1994. It is an organization devoted to providing local youth and adults with an opportunity to get hands-on with the media arts. Workshops and special screening opportunities allow students to create, analyze and appreciate various forms of media. Radio, television, film, print and online technology are used to empower youth while teaching them how to utilize media outlets to raise awareness of social issues. Among CMP’s completed projects is an entirely youth-run television show called “DropTV.” It has been broadcast on the Cablevision Network in the local Hudson Valley region and has reached international attention to destinations a s far as South Africa.

In a colorful and ecclectic second floor workspace, Director of the CMP Production House and Media Educator, Josh Baum, recites the ever present mission of the Children’s Media Project. “Giving youth a voice in the media of their choice.”

Baum joined CMP in 2006 as a pupil himself; as an intern from Vassar College.

“There’s a lot of young people around here that are either very passionate about what they do or something that they stand for or they want to explore an issue that is relevant to them and the community,” said Baum. “We’re a place that they can come to to learn the skills they need.”

At the start of 2009, the Children’s Media Project found themselves in a challenging situation in terms of the failing economy, which ultimately effected their incoming support from outside businesses and government grant support.

“Being creative people here, we saw it as an opportunity for us to become more self-sufficient and self-supportive ,” said Baum.

In response, the CMP staff initiated an intensive fundraising effort occurring throughout the month of March. The CMP 50K Media Marathon Fundraiser has a goal of raising $50,000 through contributions and productions to attract more interest in the organization and to get the community involved in the cause. “Our goal is to raise awareness as to what CMP does and to support or even expand our programming,” said Baum.

Those that work and volunteer at the Children’s Media Project never forget why they support such a program.

“The kids are amazing,” said Baum. “Seeing those kids pick up on something, really learn to use it and see their final product…That’s why we’re all here.”

Video produced and edited by Stephanie Espina: