Category Archives: Featured

Dealing with Death: A Reflection

After losing someone our minds go into overdrive, analyzing every moment ever spent with them, grieving over the bad times, and cherishing the great memories. It seems hard not to blow things out of proportion. If only you had one more day, one more moment, one more chance to say the things you should have always said—knowing that you could’ve been there more than you were is a feeling that could haunt someone for the rest of their lives.

Nothing feels right after suddenly losing someone—wondering if there was something you could’ve done, going through the motions of a normal day, knowing that someone is gone. Having that unavoidable pit feeling in your stomach… no amount of talking or crying can make this feeling go away.

On October 4, 2015, K.j. Bettner was taken from his friends and family too soon. K.j. was someone who was known for his bigger-than-life smile, making this loss even more tragic. Never in my life did I imagine that I would be sitting here trying to write an article about losing K.j., but two years later, here I am.

“K.j. was someone who was known for his bigger-than-life smile…” – Photo from Annie Schroeder

I can remember the day of his service like it was yesterday, with friends and family gathered in front of the church in the middle of our hometown. It was a hot and sunny Sunday in October. Our close friends were piled into hard wooden church pews and sat in silence for a long time, thinking of the right thing to say to one another. It was during this service that reality hit: we were not invincible. I remember how hot the sun felt coming in through the glass stained windows on our tear-soaked cheeks, and the looks that the adults were giving us, thinking that we were all too young to be experiencing something like this.

Two years later, my friends and I have all learned a lot about ourselves. I think many people deal with death by wanting to be alone, but every year when October 4th rolls around I can’t help but to want to be back in my hometown, surrounded by the world that K.j. knew and loved.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Every year around the anniversary of his death, we all try to come together and talk about memories spent with our dear friend. This might be the only time of the year we get to see some of our friends, with our crazy college schedules. Sometimes it gets pretty emotional, and sometimes it’s just relieving to be surrounded by people who know exactly what you’re going through. The only silver lining to this story is the bond that has been created in grieving the death of our lost friend.

Make sure that you reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. Pay attention to people when they speak. Always take the chance to see an old friend when you can. Tie up loose ends and resolve any conflicts. Take the time to reflect on who you are.

When a friend passes, take a piece of how they lived and turn it into your own. Keep a support system that couldn’t be beat, and truly enjoy each day on this earth as if it is your last.

 

In loving memory of Kevin John Bettner. October 19, 1995 – October 4, 2015

Another Abuse of Power by the Police

Salt Lake City in Utah is one of the newest homes to an abuse of power by the police. Alex Wubbels is a nurse at the University of Utah hospital who had a frightening and shocking experience with Salt Lake City police detective, Jeff Payne. After a head-on collision on a Utah highway, William Gray was rushed to the hospital’s burn unit. The police came to collect a blood sample from him, which is standard procedure. Nurse Wubbels informed Detective Payne that he would need a warrant for the blood sample, but he still insisted, despite being told by his colleagues and superior that they could get the blood sample another way. When Wubbels held her ground, Payne decided to arrest her and drag her screaming to his police car. The police detective was clearly agitated and took out his frustrations on the nurse.

Alex Wubbels, the nurse arrested in the Salt Lake City hospital, shares the story of her arrest.
Photo and featured photo from nbcnews.com

Once again, a police officer has taken advantage of their power and breached the civil rights of another person. This nurse was assaulted and wrongly arrested for simply following the law and doing her job. A person’s blood is legally considered their property and it cannot just be taken without consent or a warrant. The police officer had no right to touch her or arrest her and he knew that; she was later released and was not charged with anything.

This is just another example of the deteriorating standards that police are held to and it shows that something needs to be done. Fortunately, this incident did not devolve into something much worse and end up with someone being injured or killed, as has happened before, usually with African Americans. For now, the officer is on paid leave and the situation is being investigated, but this officer should be reprimanded and punished for this abuse of power. Far too often police officers are allowed to get away with gross abuses of power and that needs to stop. A message needs to be sent that says the police force is not above the law and that they will be held accountable for their actions and misdeeds.

Sources

  1. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/officer-arrested-utah-nurse-after-he-was-told-let-her-n800021
  2. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/officer-arrested-utah-nurse-after-he-was-told-not-to/ar-AArynJM?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=ientp

Trump Clinches the White House

Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States of America. In a shocking evening filled with suspense, Trump was able to live up to his lofty goal of debunking the theory of the Democratic “blue wall” consisting of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin and flip them into the Republican’s column. With these three states, plus other traditional swing states, such as North Carolina and Florida, Trump was able to push beyond the 270 electoral votes needed to become President-elect, even though he lost the popular vote.

donald-trump
“Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States of America.” Photo from- Slate.com

Many seem to be scratching their heads wondering why and how this ever happened but in reality, we all should have seen this coming. Vice President Joe Biden recently discussed with Chris Matthews on MSNBC about how the Democratic Party had lost touch with the blue-collar voters from around the country. This group, which still makes up a large portion of the electorate, found comfort in President-elect Trump’s policies surrounding the economy, found hope in the prospect of jobs returning and admired his simple understanding of the working-class voter.

As President-Elect Trump begins his transition to power, Democrats face a critical moment in history. With the loss of such a large portion of its base to the GOP, Democrats will face an uphill battle as they try to broaden their appeal and win back one or both chambers of the House of Representatives in 2018. Until then, the party of Reagan holds all branches of the federal government, governorships, and statehouses across the country.

 

The Nutcracker at Radford

The Radford University Ballet Theater put on a production of Christmas classic, The Nutcracker this past weekend. Inessa Plekhanova, artistic director of the RU Ballet, directed this year’s production of the ballet.

The Sugar Plum Fairy was portrayed by Misha Reznikov, a dancer from Russia, and the Fairy’s Caviler was portrayed by Humberto Teixeira who was also from Russia. Reznikov and Humberto are graceful and talented dancers who complimented each other well and were fascinating to watch. Another thing about the performance that interested me was the fact that most of the male characters in the ballet were played by female dancers. Whether this is a tradition in the play or a result of a lack of male dancers, I don’t know, but all the dancers, male and female or female portraying male, did a fantastic job.

nutcracker
“The Radford University Ballet Theater put on a production of Christmas classic The Nutcracker.”…photo retrieved from: Radford University College of Visual and Performing Arts

I was in attendance for the Saturday showing and the performance was lovely. I had never seen the Nutcracker before and had never been to a ballet before either. I learned quickly that the dancers do not have any lines and do not speak at all during ballets. They let their movements and dance be their voice. Through their gestures and the choreography, I could tell exactly what was going on. The music also plays a big part in ballet productions. Since there is no dialogue, the music  allows the audience to know how the story unfolds. The music will spike dramatically in tempo and intensity to convey shock, fear, or excitement, or it will fall smoothly into a softer rhythm during calmer sequences. During the play, the battle scene between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker was especially exciting, and one of the little mice, played by  a pipsqueak-sized little dancer, got shot (with a fake gun, of course) but it was still a shock that drew several gasps from the audience.

The Hypocrisy of “Black Lives Matter”

 

When the Black Lives Matter movement started, there was a sense of self righteousness and maybe even some form of misguided purpose. A line was drawn and cops were suddenly seen as the enemies for oppressing poor black communities with violence and blatant racism.

But this narrative is just a string of lies pulled together by apologists and radical ideologists. It has warped the vision of so many that even a video of Michael Brown, an apparent “victim” of racism, robbing a convenience store is disregarded and seen as heresy. Even when an autopsy report shows that the first shot was fired inside a Police officer’s vehicle, the information is disregarded. When witnesses claim that he apparently had his “hands up”—which has been proven to be false—we claim this specific knowledge to be fact.

 

A protester kneels before a ruined street – Photo from Freedom Daily

 

And it doesn’t matter what you show these people as they all seem to turn a blind eye. Whether it be a march of their movement chanting “What do we want?” and continuing with “Dead Cops,” or when Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Yusra Khogali tweeted “Plz Allah give me strength to not cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz,” it is merely brushed to the side by BLM representative Khogali with nonsensical points and irrelevant claims of racism.

In 2015 The Washington Post created a database of police shootings in the nation. Nine hundred ninety-one people were shot dead over the course of that year. Out of all of those deaths only 93 were unarmed. Out of those 93, 34 were attacks in progress. Out of those remaining 59, only 34 were black people. 42 police officers were shot and killed in 2015 but apparently BlackLivesMatter is pioneering the grounds of social justice and BlueLivesMatter is something hateful.

I personally am sick of these calls for “justice” and screams for racism with no real plan of action—just buzzwords and riots to fuel the apparent divide in the nation. Excuses for crimes and justification for cop hating.

 

 

Michael Brown Thug: <https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/doj_report_on_shooting_of_michael_brown_1.pdf>
P.18
P.6

“Dead Cops” chant: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqQXmnMr_w8>
Washington Post Database: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/>
Yusra Khogali: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYkvZodBRuY>
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuE4kV_eLf8>

 

 

American Exceptionalism

American Exceptionalism can be seen as a device favored by American politicians to follow through with their political agendas. More important is the question, to which no one has an answer still, of which side has gained politically from the emergence of this new political word.[1]

American culture and history play a significant role in the power manifested within this term – it is what ultimately shapes the way people think about politics and government.[2] As a country of immigrants first inhabited by British settlers (early Puritans), then Africans, then Ireland and Germany, Poland and Italy, Mexico, China, India, and so on – the nation’s known to have become a melting pot with a diverse set of values.

However, the key concept ingrained in the very pillars of this nation and something everyone can agree with is that the role of the American government is to safeguard each individual’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – a belief now suited for all its citizens regardless of class, color, or creed. The belief speaks to all American people despite their differences, as well as wanna-be Americans who are in search for the last best hope for mankind.[3]

The idea of exceptionalism, to think itself unique from the rest of the world, directly influences American foreign policy.  Presidents have invoked the idea of exceptionalism in the past that have interfered with affairs abroad. During the Cold War, for example, Ronald Raegan believed that America had a duty to be “the shining city on the hill,” an example [to the world] of what a good and blessed country should be like.[4] This of course led to more immigration and foreign involvement.

Liberals, being antiexceptionalists, wish to take America down a notch[5] when it comes to exceptionalism. They do not agree with the notion of assessing another region with their own standards of belief, no matter how democratic they are. Conservatives do; they take pride in pointing to how America is unlike other advanced democracies.[6]  But our foundational ideas have (at least) two sides[7] to them; disagreements and debates are what constitute the American ideals, the American culture.

As we’re constantly being redefined, it is safe to assume that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity,[8] just like Brits believe in British exceptionalism and Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.[9]


[1] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

[2] “Ideas that Shape American Politics,” by J. Morone & R. Kersh

[3] Abraham Lincoln’s annual message to Congress, December 1862

[4] American Exceptionalism, Sparknotes

[5] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

[6] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

[7] “Ideas that Shape American Politics,” by J. Morone & R. Kersh

[8] “Great Nation of Futurity,” John L. O’Sullivan on Manifest Destiny, 1839

[9] “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism, “American Political Thought 1(1): 3-28, by James W. Ceasar

Why Your Response to Sexual Assault Matters

As college students, we’re all at least marginally familiar with the concept of sexual assault. We’ve been taught to avoid it. We’ve been taught to help our peers avoid it. But it is still common to encounter people who treat it as a non-serious issue. Additionally, these people often question the victim’s shortcomings (failure to immediately accuse, to seek out help, etc.) instead of feeling appalled that an assault was committed.

I was sexually assaulted two years ago. After it happened, the only thing I wanted was to feel safe again. I didn’t want to discuss the incident. I didn’t want to tell the world what my classmate had done to me, especially since he was popular and well-liked at my former school. To this day, my own parents still don’t know that I was assaulted.

girl
“There’s still a degree of shame attached with being the victim of a sexual assault.”

And you know what? That’s still exactly the way I want things to be. Despite the most valiant efforts of various organizations, there’s still a degree of shame attached with being the victim of a sexual assault. You feel weak—like you couldn’t protect yourself. If the assault is committed by someone you know (which is common and what happened in my case), you feel betrayed.

Why am I quiet?

Why don’t I come forward?

I am quiet because of the girl in my class last fall who claimed that if she were ever assaulted, she would go straight to the police and a hospital and do all the “logical” things I failed to do.

I do not come forward because the person who assaulted me was popular and well-liked in a community where I was an outsider. No one would have believed me.

A small part of me still believes I did something wrong. Logically, I know the only one who did wrong in this situation was the person who assaulted me, but I still hear on a regular basis that it was my fault because I had been drinking.

Even if you’ve never experienced sexual assault, your opinion on it matters—especially in college. If you think sexual assault is the result of the victim drinking too much or wearing promiscuous clothing, then you are empowering and vindicating would-be assaulters.

So, when you are speaking about sexual assault, please do so gently. You never know who might be listening. Your words have the power to either prevent or encourage sexual assault victims to speak out.

 

 

Donald Trump on abortion

Donald J. Trump, republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election, seems to be confused on his own beliefs and values. When it comes to abortion, pro-life or pro-choice, Trump has, on multiple occasions, changed his mind on where he stands. According to The Washington Post, over the last 17 years, Trump has flip-flopped on the topic of abortion. Knowing that he use to be a democrat, it’s understandable that his views have changed since becoming a republican; however, over a three day time period, March 30 through April 1, Trump altered his statements about abortion five times. It seems as though he mixed up his own beliefs with the ones he was told to believe by the people running his campaign.

Trump talks about abortion. Graphic from Snopes
Trump talks about abortion. Graphic from Snopes

On March 30, at 2:30 pm, Trump sits down for an interview with MSNBC, stating that he believes women who receive abortions should be criminally punished, adding the men involved should not be criminally punished. This statement, seemingly strongly believed and confirming in its delivery, was altered an hour later, before the interview could be aired, by a spokesperson for Trump on twitter saying “statement on abortion: says it should be put back to the states and he’s pro life, like Reagan.” This new statement is essentially a 180 from what he had previously said, an hour before. About an hour after that, a new and more extensive statement is released on his website which is, again, completely different from his initial statement to the interviewer at MSNBC.

On April 1, CBS releases a small piece of their interview with Trump which seems to contain another statement about abortion, one that is, once again, different from statements previously made. He said “the laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed. I would’ve preferred states’ rights. I think it would’ve been better if it were up to the states. But right now, the laws are set…. At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.” This statement is completely contradictory to everything he has said, as of recently, about his stance on abortion. The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization, replied to Trump’s statement saying he should be “disqualified himself as the GOP nominee.”

Once again, before his CBS interview airs, Trump’s campaign releases a statement changing his stance on abortion. It states “Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now — until he is president. Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here.” So what can we take away from this debacle? Trump doesn’t know what he believes in. It seems as though his spokespeople are the ones who are actually running for president and he is just the frontman with all the money. If Trump can’t decide which side he’s on regarding this pretty straightforward issue, how can the American people expect him to make decision on issues that are more complicated and could put the entire country at risk? The voters need to open their eyes to who Trump is and discover what he really believes in, that is, if he even really knows.

Finding a job for the summer: The real struggle

Finding a job for the summer can be really difficult. I’ve almost had zero luck finding a job that’s hiring. I’ve look online, check individual websites, and even walked around Christiansburg, going into each store to ask if they were hiring, which was a difficult time for me because talking to strangers isn’t really my thing. I’m not sure if it’s me, or something about this time of the year, but jobs are nowhere to be found.

The only job experience I’ve had, other than the job I have working for Whim, is a cashier at Foodlion. It was not a good experience, to say the least. I had to stand on my feet for hours at a time, the customers were usually rude and ungrateful, and I was hit on by another employee more than I wish to talk about. I realized that working in grocery or working in an environment where I had to stand or check people’s items out just wasn’t for me.  I left that job after a year and a half because I was going to college and thought that I wouldn’t be able to drive back and forth from Blacksburg and Radford in time for classes as well as work. However, now that I’m a commuter, I realize that I will probably have to do that, seeing as there are no jobs in Radford and money is more and more of a necessity everyday.

desk
“The problem with the job hunt is there are some jobs, just jobs that I don’t want to do.”

The problem with the job hunt is there are some jobs, just jobs that I don’t want to do. Home Depot is hiring, but who wants to be a woman cashier at an establishment full of country men who like to refer to women as baby or honey? Also, I don’t want to be the stereotype of the gay girl who works at Home Depot. Places like Papa John’s are hiring but I feel like the money I spend on gas won’t be replaced with profit.

Maybe my problem is that I’m too picky. Maybe I need to get over my requirements I seem to have for a job and just be thankful for the opportunities that are available. However, if I’m going to work somewhere, I at least don’t want to completely hate my life or dread going to work. I want to enjoy my experiences in life and meet people who like my company and vice versa. Life is about more than money and working, although money would be ideal at the moment.

I think, by writing this article, I figured out what I need to do. Suck it up and work where I can. I should try and find the good in things instead of focusing on the bad. I should be thankful for the opportunities that are given to me, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it all the time. I need money and money is at Home Depot and Papa John’s. If only I could make money by sitting at home, eating, and watching Bob’s Burgers. If only.

A look into a tarantula’s sex life

Tarantulas, according to a 2013 review in the journal Arachnology, are the largest and longest living spiders in the world. Nelson Ferretti, a tarantula expert with the the National Scientific and Technical Research Council in Argentina and lead author of the review says there are nearly a thousand species alive today, and most mate in the spring and summer; although some species are known to mate only in the winter.

According to the study co-author Fernando Pérez-Miles, an entomologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, after male spiders are born and travel into the adult stage of their lives, they insert their two pedipalps or the small appendages near the front of their head with sperm. Although the insertion of the sperm is time and energy consuming, males can usually mate with multiple females with just one insertion..

During the mating season, “charged” males, or males who have gone through the insertion process, will leave the nest, so to speak, in order to find approachable females.  The male tarantulas will focus on the female’s pheromones, or chemical scents, though “it’s unclear if only receptive females produce male-attracting pheromones.” When a male discovers a “connection” or a female that has the appropriate pheromones, the male and female with mate.

Tarantula_Pair5
“Depending on the species, males may engage in a range of different moves, the most widespread being papal drumming and body vibrations.”

According to Ferretti, “depending on the species, males may engage in a range of different moves, the most widespread being papal drumming and body vibrations.”
If the female enjoys the feeling, she will respond by tapping her front legs, letting him know that she wants him, and to direct him toward her burrow. However, in other species, the female will move towards the male instead, leaving her burrow behind. When the time has come, the pair will come face-to-face, showing and elevating their bodies and front legs to each other.

In other species, the tradition is different. The male will initiate spasmodic beats on the female with his second pair of legs, which is thought to put the female at ease and relax her fangs. In most species, the males have specialized spurs that can clasp onto the female’s fangs which elevate them into the correct immobilizing positions and to prevent bites.

Once the pair are ready, the male will place his charged pedipalps into the female’s genital opening, one to five time. When he is finished, he will leave to find other mates, that is, if he’s “lucky enough to avoid getting eaten, which is common,” Ferretti says. However, this only occurs if the male attempts to mate with a female without courting her first, that is, entering her burrow too soon or doesn’t leave fast enough after mating. Although, luckily enough for the males, mating leaves the female immobile for a small amount of time, allowing the male to get away if necessary.

Spring Baseball Games

Now that the weather is getting warmer and sunnier it’s a perfect time to spend the afternoons outside. One thing I love doing when it gets to be around spring time is attending our school’s baseball games.

The field is really nice and there are stands or you can bring a blanket and sit in the grass on the side of the stadium. The games are long which means you can either spend the whole day outside or you can stay for a little while and enjoy the nice day briefly.

Some may think baseball is boring but you don’t have to go just to watch the games. You can go with friends and just enjoy being outside and the baseball game can be something to occasionally look over at and a good conversation starter.

baseball
“If you haven’t been to a baseball game before you should definitely try to go to one.”

They also have concessions at the fields so you can go and enjoy those with your friends. At half time they usually do games where you can win a variety of prizes and rewards. Certain games are active where you end up getting on the field and playing something against another opponent from the crowd and whoever ends up winning gets the prize. The prizes are normally something like a t-shirt and the games are all friendly and fun. They also have games where you stay in the stands and they put the camera on you and have you dance or make a face to win prizes.

The players also have walk out songs that play right before they go up to hit. Each player has a different one and it’s fun to wait and listen to see who picked what song to get them pumped up for their turn to hit. It’s fun to sing along to the songs and there’s a variety of songs from country to rap to EDM.

Overall the spring baseball games are a lot of fun whether you like baseball or not they’re a great experience and a great way to spend a nice, sunny spring afternoon. If you haven’t been to a baseball game before you should definitely try to go to one before you graduate because you will have a great time.

Instead of finding alien life, should we be hiding from it?

A recent study suggests a method for hiding from aliens. This study, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, comes at a time when most papers and study are related to how to find alien life.

A great deal of our quest for Earth-like planets depends on transiting planets. Transiting planets travel in front of their host star in a manner in which the transit can be seen from our viewpoint. The travel of the planet in front of the host star makes the light from that star diminish or glimmer, and we can utilize that to determine a wide range of information about far off planets — including how sustainable they might be for life.

Should we hide from the aliens? Graphic from Andreas Rocha
Should we hide from the aliens? Graphic from Andreas Rocha

A few scientists have proposed that we ought to hope that Earth is a transiting planet from the viewpoint of another planet that contains intelligent life. At the end of the day, our best endeavor for discovering alien life may be trusting that aliens are utilizing similar techniques of planetary detection that we are, and that the movement of Earth in front of the sun is visible with their telescopes.

Graduate student Alex Teachey and Professor David Kipping, both from Columbia University in the City of New York, attempted to figure out how much laser light would be required to cover the diminishing or glimmering light brought about by the transit of Earth.

As indicated by their calculations, it would take about 10 constant hours of shining a 30 MW laser once every year to shield the transit signal in discernible light. Reproducing each wavelength of light released by the sun would require around 250 MW of power.

Teachey said in a statement that “Alternatively, we could cloak only the atmospheric signatures associated with biological activity, such as oxygen, which is achievable with a peak laser power of just 160 kW per transit. To another civilization, this should make the Earth appear as if life never took hold on our world.”

There’s still a major, interdisciplinary deliberation about whether we should try to contact alien life from other planets. This study will become one of many that detail whether or not we should be hiding from alien life, instead of if we should find it and try to communicate with them.

The Recent Blackout

There was a blackout Saturday night in Radford on lightside. The power went in and out for a few minutes until it finally went out all together around 1 am. I was in the middle of making food and suddenly everything turned off and went completely black.  I was confused at first because there wasn’t a storm or anything outside so it was out of nowhere. I figured it would come back on fairly quickly because that’s what had been happening earlier in the night. I waited 10 minutes or so and it never did come back on like I had expected.

I was home alone that night because my roommates had taken a trip to JMU for the weekend so I started to get a little bit scared in a pitch black apartment in a pitch black town all alone. I was going to try and go to a friend’s apartment but when I walked outside it was literally black I couldn’t see anything.

What did you do during the blackout? Graphic from Glogster
What did you do during the blackout? Graphic from Glogster

I ended up using my flashlight on my phone and locating my way to my bed to go to sleep because I figured it was the only thing I could do at that point with absolutely no light and no source of power. I kept checking outside to see if anyone else had gotten power back but all I could see was darkness. I believe the problem was coming from the wind that night. It was so strong all around Radford that I didn’t even want to be outside walking around at all that night because it was freezing and uncomfortable. The wind would make my eyes water and my hair would go crazy so I can’t even imagine what it did to the power lines.

Fortunately the power came back on early in the morning and I could charge my phone and everything was back to normal again. The blackout was definitely unexpected especially because everybody was out at parties or drinking that night.  At least most people were probably in big groups already so if anyone had to walk home they didn’t have to do it alone in the pitch black at 1 in the morning.

Into the Pines, Part I

An icy wind frosted pine needles and foliage as it snaked between trunks and branches, blowing from the northeastern evergreen forest and into the small village’s dwellings. The cold was natural for the coming winter, and yet something more seemed to be carried along on the gust. Pines creaked and bent as air swept across them, but they had stood strong for hundreds of years, and hundreds more would they weather.

Jarren could feel unease present on the wind, something of a normal experience to those who dwell so near the Pine Forest, and he sighed. The warm breath clouded as it left his lips, before it too flew away with the breeze. Jarren had been alive for fifteen winters, and knew that his time as a child had ended. He would have to venture into the Pine Forest for game to prove his worth to his village and hopefully return home with meat . . . or return home at all.

Graphic from Pinterest
“Into the small village’s dwellings.” Graphic from Pinterest

Due to a lack in decent farmland, his village had to rely on its hunters for survival, and even though it was a great duty to his people for every man to be a hunter Jarren did not look forward to the experience. The tales he had heard of that forest, the way the air seemed to freeze around you and how absolute the silence was within the Pines unnerved him more than he cared to admit. He also recollected tales from the experienced hunters, tales of strange creatures that lurked in the shadows. The thought that he would be going in alone nearly petrified him with fear when he had first heard it from the chief, despite the information being expected anyway.

Snow was beginning to fall now, clumps of powder rapidly whitening the dirt trail around Jarren and causing him to shiver violently. With a final look to the dark northeastern forest, Jarren attempted to calm his mind and trudged home.

The hearth fire of the young man’s cabin was pathetic indeed, its weak tongues of flame barely illuminating half of the dwelling and the heat’s radius stretching far less. Jarren could hear his teeth chattering as he sank into a hard wooden chair in front of the hearth, a chair made by his father’s hands. The walls and ceiling were stained black with soot and smoke, their clogging smell present everywhere. Jarren knew what the next day would bring; the challenges he would undoubtedly face in the Pine Forest, for either the celebration of his success or his very own funeral pyre would await his return . . . or in the case of the latter, his lack of return.

Jarren found himself thinking once again of his parents, the thought of them surfacing with the nearing prospect of entering the Pines. He wished they were with him, or that they were even alive to comfort him. He remembered the day the other hunters returned home to tell his mother of the man’s death, and how she too later died of some unknown ailment in the darkness of the night. Jarren was now the only one that occupied the cabin, and because he was fourteen at the time the boy had been able to manage the house alone.

Shadows stretched far as the sun lazily dipped below the tree-line, a reminder that his last day as a child had ended. Tomorrow was his life-day, and perhaps the only one he would not be looking forward too.

 

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Networking is more important than you think

Networking is everything. Meeting new people, as many people as you can, is as important as an impressive resume or extensive experience, sometimes even more important. Knowing people, no matter how unimportant or important you think they are, will almost always come in handy later in life when you’re looking for that dream job. When it comes to that time in your life when the job you’re applying for is being decided between you and someone else, having connections and knowing people in your field will be your saving grace, will get you that job.

Talking everyone and anyone can lead to great experiences. Graphic from logok.org
Talking everyone and anyone can lead to great experiences. Graphic from logok.org

Outside my hotel in New York city, I was smoking a cigarette, wearing my student media conference name tag, when a woman walked up and stood next to me and pulled out a cigarette as well.

She saw my name tag, as well as my girlfriend’s name tag who was also standing next to me, and began to talk to us, asking about the conference and what specifically we were doing here. As we were telling her, she revealed to us that she is a managing editor at NBC. We kept our conversation going by asking her questions about her job and how she got to the position she is at now. She gave us advice, telling us we need to do internships every year, that networking and knowing people will be vital to our careers in media.

She gave us wonderful advice and expressed to us that she loved her job and she feels rewarded everyday, being able to do what she does. As she was leaving, we graciously thanked her for talking to us and she told us again “Internships, internships, internships!” I will forever remember that conversation and how much her advice affected me.

When we walked outside our hotel to smoke, we would have never thought that we’d run into the managing editor of NBC. If we had been at a different place at a different time, we would have never had the amazing opportunity of meeting her. If we weren’t wearing our name tags, she would have had no idea we were attending the student media conference and she wouldn’t have talked to us in the first place.

We didn’t think we would have met someone so influential by going outside and having a cigarette. Networking doesn’t always have to be forced, nor does it have to be awkward or intimidating. Cecilia Bradley was one of the nicest women I’ve ever met and she’ll never know the true impact she had on me. Who knows, maybe sometime in the future, our small conversation on the streets of New York City will help me get my dream job.

The Radford Coffee Company

Radford Coffee Company is a new restaurant where all proceeds go toward a foundation that gives money to students in communities in Nicaragua. All of the employees work on a volunteer basis and only earn pay from tips. So, while you are spending money on your coffee and breakfast, you know that you are also contributing to a great cause and helping educate students in Nicaragua.

Graphic from Radford Coffee Company.
Buy your coffee for a good cause. Graphic from Radford Coffee Company.

The restaurant also has a different environment compared to  Starbucks because it’s more open and has an assortment of seating like couches and chairs and stools. The staff is very friendly and helpful as well. The overall experience at Radford Coffee Company is enjoyable and makes you want to go back because of the staff, the cause, the environment, and the food.

Specializing in coffee, the restaurant also offers healthy breakfast sandwiches, salads and sandwiches for lunch, and smoothies and protein shakes. Sometimes they’ll put out specials on certain days like banana bread or coffee cake.  The prices aren’t steep either so if you’re worried about spending money and eating healthy, this is a great place to get your healthy meal while not spending too much.

I would always rather support a local business over a chain business because I think it’s good for the economy and for the locals in the area. I also like that the company is supporting a great cause and all of their proceeds are going toward this.

If you’re looking for a great staff, awesome food, and a soothing environment, Radford Coffee Company is a great place to check out.

How to make it through allergy season

Spring allergy season is upon us and with so many irritants that make day-to-day life miserable, it’s necessary to prepare yourself now before it gets worse. This list should provide some help with this itchy, sneezy, and sniffly allergy season.

1. Go to your local grocery or drugstore

Over-the-counter decongestants help in relieving your stuffy nose; antihistamines help in reducing sniffles, runny nose and itching. If your allergies are severe, visit an allergist who will be able to prescribe you medications that are long-lasting. You can even consider immunotherapy shots for long-term relief.

2. Get relief from drowsiness from allergy pills

If you don’t like the way your allergy medicine makes you feel drowsy and tired, try a saline nasal rinse — through a spray neti pot — to clear away pollen from your nasal membranes and minimize symptoms. You can even gargle with salt water to aid in soothing your itchy or sore throat.

Take your allergy medicine (look into a 24-hour allergy pill) before you go to sleep. Since many take one to two hours to kick in, it’ll start working while you sleep and when you wake up you won’t feel the drowsy side effects of the pill.

3. Stay indoors as much as possible

sneezing
“This list should provide some help with this itchy, sneezy, and sniffly allergy season.”

Check the pollen count online at weather sites, watch morning news, or download pollen count apps on your phone. You can also check pollen counts at aaaai.org, the site of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. It’s best to stay inside if the pollen count is high.

Pollen counts in the morning are generally the highest, so you should exercise in the afternoon. Check them before you head out on a walk, run, or an errand. If pollen counts are high, you should try to stay inside and do at-home workouts, or head to the gym. Don’t wait too late, however, because pollen counts are also higher in later hours.

4. Keep allergens out of your home

Take off your shoes and work clothes right when you go home. Take a shower right when you get home, or before you get into bed — to wash off any lingering pollen on your hair or body.

If you have an outdoor dog or cat, wipe their paws and fur off when they come into the house. Keep them off of your bed, just in case, to keep any lingering pollen from getting into a place where you spend most of your time at home.

Close your windows and keep them closed. Run your air conditioner to keep the air circulating throughout your house. It’s a good idea to change your filters often to remove any pollen, dust, and mold. If your allergies are more severe, try getting an air purifier with a HEPA filter to clear any allergens in your home.

5. Take your allergy symptoms seriously.

Allergy symptoms can lead to several detrimental effects on your health. Drink lots of water and rest whenever you can. Overdoing it when you feel miserable will only make you feel worse and will take a toll on your well-being.

The Box

Ever does the box sit staring,

holding what she wants the most.

Tempting souls with understanding—

fleeting knowledge, like a ghost.

 

Behind the keyhole, steeped in darkness,

lurking just beyond her sight,

the yellow box stays locked regardless;

ode to owner’s stubborn spite.

 

So there it stays, its contents hidden

from the world’s most watchful eyes.

Waiting for the un-forbidden

to wrest from it its precious prize.