Giving back is the new black

Giving back is one of the most rewarding experiences I think anyone can ever hope to gain. I am not sure one can fully grasp the concept of this until they do something for someone that has altered their life in some way. In fact, I am also certain that not everyone is aware of the effect that giving back can have on others. It can make their day a bit brighter, help them know they are not alone and can even save them.

It doesn’t matter if the gift is big or small. It can be just as simple as helping an elderly woman carry groceries from the store to her car or as complex as organizing a fundraiser in the fight against child cancer. I feel as if it is one of the most important things in life to give back. It is the first giant step into helping make a positive impact on the world.

For one second, think about how many commercials we see on television about adopting a child to send money to, an End Hunger Now fund, the man on the corner of the street who has been sleeping outside for days, or the people of Haiti and the crisis they are now going through. The question we should be asking ourselves is: “What can we do?” It is our job to do everything we can for whoever we can.

If we all just stopped for a second and did something to help, we would be that much closer to leading this world into a happier, more positive and beneficial place. We only have one lifetime to make a difference; I

Bamboo voodoo

Bamboo Craft is one model in the line of magic-like tablet devices. To make, it clear these tablet devices are not tablet computers, though they do work on a similar concept. These tablets are pressure sensitive. They allow for more natural drawing styles for those who spend their time working on graphics programs such as Adobe Illustrator. The tablet can plug into any computer using an USB port.

This doesn’t mean they don’t have a place in the general marketable public, but at prices starting around $150, they aren’t exactly the cheapest toy on the block, though with the hefty price tag comes some pretty cool features. Wacom, maker of Bamboo Craft, recently come out with a version of their original Bamboo Craft. This latest edition boasts a newer, more sensitive pen stylus that allows for more natural hand writing, along with some impressive multi-touch features. These features work much like those on the iTouch, using gestures to indicate what you want it to do. Some of these features are basic track-pad functions, similar to a laptop mouse.

Another cheaper tablet option is the Genius G pen. You can pick it up for about $40. Because it is cheaper, it is not in the same range as the Bamboo Craft. It has the most basic features. Those features including simple Web browsing, replacing your mouse with the pen that comes with the tablet and hand-writing in documents.

While not the cheapest product, it is definitely a cheap alternative to the other non-tablet options. Such options are tablet PCs and laptops. Both are relatively new to the market in comparison to tablets, which have been around for a while. That being said, the G Pen may pack a better bang for your buck, as the other two options still have bugs and sensitivity issues to work out.

Wacom claims that their product allows you to get hands-on with your projects. From all appearances, that seems to be the case. While the Bamboo Craft may not be a cheap toy, it appears to be a fun one. It allows for a higher degree of precision on image-editing software.

This is probably not the device for your occasional image editor, though it is the perfect device for your image editing tinkerer who gets frustrated when using a clunky, inaccurate mouse, or someone who just wants to feel more in touch with their project. For these people the price is well worth all the voodoo it provides.

Cover and story photo by Kasey Sutphin

How to be a wise guy

What does it mean to be wise? Does it mean that you’re smarter and more clever than everyone around you? Does it mean that you can beat your friends in any game you play? Does it mean you make better grades than everyone else in your class? There are plenty of really smart and/or talented people out there who are so consumed by their own arrogance and can’t see anything but themselves. Basically, being wise doesn’t mean you’re the best at whatever you do, it’s knowing the proper way to respond to certain situations. You always need to be aware of the world around you and the people in it. If you understand the world we live in today, how things work in it and you know how to use that knowledge, that’s when you can call yourself a wise guy.

First of all, let’s say you get an “F” on your first test of the semester. How are you going to respond to that situation?

A. Complain that your teacher sucks and skip class for the rest of the semester.

B. Study a lot harder for your next test and try to get better grades on classroom assignments so the “F” won’t hurt your grade too badly.

Choice “B” would definitely be the better way to respond to that situation.

Now let’s try another one. Let’s say your friend beats you at a video game and is bragging about it. How do you respond to that situation?

A. Throw your controller at him and tell him he was cheating and you’ll never play that game with him again.

B. Ignore him and let him enjoy winning because he beat you at a game that in no way counts for anything in real life. Then don’t brag when you beat him at something so he’ll feel bad about it.

Choice “B” again is the best way to respond, and you won’t lose your friend in the process.

Now let’s try one more. Say you’re at a party and you meet this really hot girl. The two of you talk and hang out, and then she starts pulling you into an empty bedroom hinting that she wants to give you a good time. How do you respond to this situation?

A. Go into the bedroom with her and have a good time.

B. Make sure you have a condom first, then do what it says in Option “A.”

Okay, I threw that one in there just to mess with you, but you get the idea. A wise person really knows and understands what’s going on around them. You should make sure that you have good friends and that you understand different kinds of people when they talk to you. You need to understand that everyone sees things differently than you, and everyone probably has different interests in things like music, sports, TV shows and movies. If you can learn to respect others, no matter how their interests may differ from yours, and you know how to respond to the good and bad situations that you’ll be faced with throughout your life, that’s what will make you a wise guy.

Cover and story photo from Creative Commons

Snow, snow, snow!

The popular song that includes the lyrics, “Snow, snow, snow” is becoming an appropriate phrase for weather on the east coast lately. Staring in December 2009, Virginia in particular has seen unusual amounts of snowfall. With up to 32 inches of snow in parts of Virginia, winter weather has significantly affected daily life for everyone. Schools and highways have been closed, and ceremonies have been canceled.

Directly effecting RU students, the graduates of fall 2009 only recently received their diplomas due to the postponement of commencement ceremonies. While snow days bring fun, they also cause problems. With businesses and stores closed, finding groceries and supplies became a challenge.

Traveling is also very risky. Many people do not have 4-wheel-drive vehicles, therefore traveling in poor weather becomes a problem. Car accidents are of increased risk due to slick roads and poor traction.

The federal government recommends that all citizens have a snow emergency kit containing three gallons of water per member of a family, canned food items, can openers, batteries, a battery-powered radio, blankets and flashlights. Due to the heavy snowfall, there is a high risk of power outages and roof collapse. The National Weather Service also advises that you beware of falling trees and rocks.

This winter is still young and forecasters are predicting more heavy snowfall, so stay warm RU!

Cover photo by Jordan Oakley

Story photo by Kasey Sutphin

Administration postpones graduation due to weather

Over the past two months, Radford University and the surrounding area has been pounded with a number of different winter weather storms. These storms were responsible for many different school closings and much more. One thing that many probably don’t think about is the stress placed upon those students who were scheduled to graduate this past December.

Commencement ceremonies were originally scheduled for Dec. 19, 2009, but due to the heavy snowfall following finals week, the administration was forced to postpone the ceremonies. Many graduates remain unhappy with the RU administration for postponing the ceremonies. The administration sent out countless emails to the student body about commencement ceremonies and encouraged recent graduates who had a hard time arriving to RU for the ceremonies not to even make an attempt traveling to the university.

Putting myself in their shoes, I would be highly upset with the administration to receive a degree when they suggest I not travel to my own commencement ceremonies. Instead, they want those who cannot make it to wait until spring commencement to participate in the ceremony. No way would I personally want to wait another three months in order to walk across the stage for graduation.

One thing that is upsetting many graduates is why the administration would decide that the roads are any safer for those graduates and their families to travel following this snow storm. The storm that RU was hit by the first time was just as bad as this second, more recent storm that pounded the Radford area. Many don

Life Cycle

This stop motion video shows the cycle of nature from life to death. I made a wreath out of live plants I picked from nature. I then created an inner circle of charcoal to signify summer. The I added dead leaves, which represent autumn. The last cycle involved adding sticks and burning the wreath to symbolize the death of winter. The song is “Cherry” by Ratatat.

Link to Life Cycle

Illustration by Heidi Chantry

Retro gaming corner: Partying with Mario Party

Photo from Creative Commons

Mario Party is a game that managed to survive the decades fighting on through the changes in the market. It’s about time the original 1998 game was looked over and was held to today’s standards.

Game Play:

Game play is fairly straightforward. It is more or less like a board game. You pick your character and map, and then you move to the beginning square. Each player rolls to see who gets to go first. From there, players roll to see how many spaces they can move. Some spaces are traps that take away coins, while others trigger events or mini games. At the end of each round, a four person mini game is triggered. In this mini game, players compete to win coins. In some cases, the mini game takes coins from the players who lose and gives them to their opponent. As you move around the map, coins become important. They allow you to buy stars, a key for winning. The person with the most stars wins.

The four-player mini games can get rather intense as people battle to gain and/or keep their coins, desperate to save enough to buy a star. A lot more strategy is used in these mini game battles than one would think. You are sometimes better off not running head-first into whatever mini game, but taking your time and waiting for the other players to mess up.

Bonus stars add a complex element to the game. The game records how many coins you earn throughout the match and tallies them up. The person with the most total coins wins the coin star. There is also a mini game star for the person who gets the most coins from mini games, and a happening star for the person who triggered the most events. This bonus star component makes it harder to predict who will win.

The Good:

It is perhaps one of the funnest and most intense four-person games out there. You become so immersed within your character that it becomes hard not to scream at the top of your lungs when something bad happens to them. The mini games are fun and quick, leaving no doubt as to who the winner is in the end.

The Bad:

Since this review is based on current-day standards, the graphics are horrible and come out stretched and pixelated on most TVs. You can adjust it on most TVs, but not enough to make that much of a difference. Every time you fail to have enough money to buy a star, Toad makes the single most annoying sound in the world. By the end of the game, Toad and his family are in risk of being destroyed just because he can’t stop making that whining noise. The game’s music is horrible and cheesy, hardly comparing to today’s games. Controls with the Nintendo 64 are clunky and painful for the games that use the joystick portion.

Final Thoughts:

Even with all of its flaws, compared to current games, it is still among the most amusing and challenging games to play, though all of that depends on who you play with. It might not have the flair or the style of modern games, but there is just something about that nostalgic feel of watching 64-bit characters beating the crap out of each. Other than that it is just, well, amazing.

Whim Rating: 4.5/5

Peace is not for sale

Selling the idea of peace is like selling boxes of air. It will not get us anywhere closer to the idea than we already are, but it will get money out of our pockets.

I recently noticed that retailers are targeting teens and young adults with peace signs on their clothing and jewelry. I am as into the whole world peace thing as much as the next person, but I don’t see a point in using the peace sign as an adornment. At the very least, the peace sign should not be sold in the volume in which it is being advertised.

By seeing the peace sign on things as ordinary as a pair of underwear, shirts or earrings, our generation is stripping the sign of any real meaning. Sure, it might still mean the same thing, but we will begin to see it as more of a decoration than an important symbol.

As for why it is being sold in bulk, in the same way that sex sold items in the past, retailers are very much aware that peace sells. By making the peace sign a fad, it guarantees that more people will want to buy apparel that is covered in it. In this day and age, just like any other, it is difficult to avoid getting sucked into dressing just like everyone else. When you see a symbol on a large number of outfits, it soon becomes the norm, just like our generation’s dress code of denim jeans and a hoodie.

We are definitely weak to the power of suggestion when it comes to fashion.

Here is what I would like to know: when you put on your peace sign earrings, slip into your denim bell bottoms and accent your outfit with a scarf covered in peace signs, are you dressing that way because you believe people should live and let live, or are you allowing the big clothing and accessory brands to pick your pocket so you can look exactly like everyone else?

If you do not have a peaceful attitude or value the idea of peace then why are you walking around with the symbol plastered all over your clothing?

The same thing can be said for love. You can walk into just about any junior section and see things covered in hearts. I don’t suppose people wear things like that because they particularly love others; more than likely they just think it’s cute.

What I’m really trying to say is that we have beaten things like peace and love to death with our pointless ideas of what is fashionable. No one is capable of looking genuine by wearing a peace sign if they are not a peaceful person. I would really like to see our generation either adopt the ways of our fashion or start dressing more originally. If neither one of these things happen then what is the point of it all? Do not kill a perfectly good idea by forgetting what it means.

Communication Breakdown

Some people will only converse on an online chat   Photo from:http://cdn-viper.demandvideo.com

Our generation is jam packed with ways to get in touch with each other at any point in time. You would think this would make us better communicators. I would hardly agree.

AOL Instant Messenger     Photo from: http://www.quicksprout.com

It dawned on me when I was having trouble with my AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) last year. I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown because it would not let me log on to my buddy list. This lasted for a couple of days. During one of these days I discovered AIM Express, which is a version of AIM that works off of your browser.

The problem with all of this is that I could have used either of my two e-mail addresses, Facebook, Myspace, Skype or even my cell phone if I really wanted to talk to my friends that badly. It would have saved me a whole bunch of stress if I had thought that maybe these routes of communication were just as useful.
Honestly, our generation has grown up with the ability to be picky about who we talk to, how frequently and through what medium. Our more distant friends can be reached every now and then through e-mail, our close friends through Facebook and AIM, our very close friends through webcam and our loved ones on the phone. Each person in our life has their own level of communication attached to them, and it becomes difficult to talk to them if the prescribed form of communication is unavailable to us.

People talking on Skype     Photo from: http://www.tigerprises.com
People talking on webcams Photos from: http://cdn-viper.demandvideo.com http://www.tigerprises.com http://www.quicksprout.com

I know this is true due to the fact that some of my friends cannot handle a simple phone call. My best female friend back home prefers to use either AIM or text messaging. Personally, I see text messaging as a necessary evil. It is perfectly acceptable for some things, but not something I am willing to use for a full blown conversation. I only get 200 text messages a month. When my friends try to use it as a way to plan group events or chat with me I usually end up calling them, only to have my call rejected. They do this because they do not have the time and are not in the position to have a spoken conversation and they probably should not be texting me in the first place.

Dependence on e-mail is also a frustrating part of living in these times. Students all have to face the reality that when they enter college they are going to be checking their e-mail about 10 to 20 times a day. If they do not, then they are most likely going to miss something important, which when working in a group situation can throw a bunch of other people off. It is almost ridiculous how much we have to rely on this route of communication, but for a university it is the most ideal way to get information out to a large number of people quickly.

It is saddening how much the times have changed our most preferred modes of communication. There is no doubt that many people would rather speak through a computer than to another person

Senior Pranks, How We Leave Our Marks

Surely you must remember them, clever ideas thought up by seniors, mainly in high school, but sometimes in college. What makes a good senior prank? They’ll always make the faculty mad, but part of commiting a senior prank is that nobody knows it was you. Senior pranks are usually a result of out-of-the-box thinking by the cleverest minds in school. Here are some examples of good senior pranks.

Two years ago, a really great prank happened at Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke was when the seniors got the master key to the school. That night, they snuck into the building and stole all the chairs from every classroom and then stacked them up in the school forum. The next morning, everyone in school spent half the morning searching for the chairs, and when they finally found them, all of the chairs were stacked in a huge mountain in the forum. It took the rest of the morning to take all the chairs and get them back to the classrooms. The seniors got caught, but they got out of trouble by saying that they wouldn’t return the key unless they were let off the hook. If they didn’t return the key, the school would have had to have every lock in the building replaced.

Another good senior prank was one that occured a long time ago at Roanoke Catholic High School. The idea of the prank was that it would take years to undo. The seniors took multiple alarm clocks and hid them all over the building, setting them each to go off at different times each day. It did indeed take at least four or five years, before all the alarm clocks were found. Whoever thought of that must have been pretty brilliant.

At some really nerdy schools where all the students there are complete brainiacs, senior pranks go way beyond the limit of what you’d expect. The principal would come out and find his car on the roof of the building. How do the seniors pull that off, you ask? Well, being as smart as they are, they’re able to disassemble the car, and then reassemble it on the roof, which is a very amazing stunt to pull off. Another good prank that has been discussed, would be one that would involve any beverage, as well as a lot of cups. You line the cups all the way down the all, fill each of them with any drink of your choosing, and then staple them together. Another good prank that has been discussed is taking something that smells bad, such as dirty laundry, dog poop, or even rotten fish, and hiding it in the school air vents. That would take the school days, even weeks to find.

So senior pranks are the result of the seniors saying “we’re ready to get out of here, but want to leave our mark before we go.” It’s a good concept as long as you don’t carry it too far. Also, unless you’re clever like the guys who were involved in hiding the chairs, don’t plan on getting caught. That was a prank that can never be done again, because that school installed security cameras all over the building as a result.

Senior Hall Freeze

Pictures from:

http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/epo/spanexhib/war.gif
http://www.gla.ac.uk/it/files/itts/enhancementunits/graphics/powerpoint/Medical/6681_two_angry_school_boys_fighting_each_other.jpg.png
http://www.jomsvikings.com/assets/engage_us_gfx

Video from Saucyshoe on Youtube

Finals Tips, Preparing for the Final Days

http://jewelcityjuice.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/exams.jpg

 http://siobhan316.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/pic9_students_in_exams_hall.jpg

The Fall semester here at Radford is winding down. There are only two weeks left before finals week begins. So for those of you who are freshman and don’t know, during finals week you have no classes, you have specific times in the day when you have to go and take your exams which will be given to you by your professors. This means that during finals week, you’ll have a lot of spare time on your hands. So what are you planning to do with that spare time? Some students might lock themselves in their rooms and spend the entire time they don’t have an exam studying, and some may not care and simply go out every night.

What’s the best way to spend finals week? You may or may not be stressing about your exams, but you don’t want to spend the whole time studying because you don’t want to cram too much into your head at once. If you go out, since many places will be probably be partying due to the fact that there aren’t any classes, don’t stay out too late, because if you have a final the next day, it’s important to be well rested. It’s also important to stay healthy, eat a balanced diet. These tips are all basic of course, they’re things you were probably told back in middle school before you took an S.O.L. It’s important that you remember these things, though, because it will help you.

Studying is extremely important. But you don’t want to study too much at one time. It’s best to study maybe for no more than two hours at a time, and take each exam as it comes. If you have an exam on Monday, and then two exams on Tuesday for example, focus on your Monday exam first. If you go for too much longer, you’ll get tired of studying and you won’t be able to absorb the material as well. After you’ve been studying for about two hours, take a break for at least 30 minutes to an hour before you pick it up again. During this time, watch TV, chat with your friends, eat a snack and do whatever best relieves you.

When you’re actually taking the exam, don’t rush through it. You’ve probably heard this from your professors, but read each question carefully. Many college professors love to make questions on their exams that will try to trick you and. It’s important that you watch out for these types of questions because they will creep up on you, and if you fall for it, your grade will drop dramatically on the test, you could get a C on a test you could have Aced if you’d been more careful about reading the questions. Professors give you plenty of time, so don’t feel like you need to rush. When you’re finished, look over the test again and check your answers until you’re certain that you’ve done the best you can.

So to all students at Radford, good luck on your exams, and hopefully the semester will end well for you.