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.

2-2 Start for RU Men’s Basketball

Radford Men’s Basketball began their season with two home games on Saturday, November 14 against Navy, and Thursday, November 19 against Lynchburg. Both matches resulted in wins for the Highlanders. Pregaming went on all over Radford on Saturday as students readied themselves for the 2009-2010 Radford basketball season. Radford opened up their season against Navy, who defeated the Highs last year in overtime. Navy began the night with a 5-0 start before Radford was able to get on the board. However, Radford stayed close behind for most of the half.

Radford was trailing 37-28 as the clock ticked off the final seconds of the half. Things were looking grim for the Highlanders. At most basketball games when the clock is ticking down the final seconds, if a player is on the other side of the court, he shoots the ball in the hopes of getting the three-pointer. While it almost never works, Radford’s opening night was one of the few nights that right as the clock was on the final second, the Highlanders nailed the shot from half court, making the score 37-31 in Navy’s favor. The crowd went wild as the basketball team left the court for the locker room.

It didn’t take the Highlanders long at all to get on a roll in the second half, between the dynamic duo of Artsiom Parakhouski and Joey Lynch-Flohr, Navy’s players just didn’t have the height to stop their shots. Radford rallied to take the lead shortly into the second half, and from there, they never looked back. Navy managed to stay close behind and came to within three points a couple times. Radford shut them down everty time, and stayed hot for a 76-65 victory in their season opener.

For most of the night there was never any doubt during game two of the Highlander’s season. The Highlanders allowed the first basket of the night to fall behind 2-0 in the opening minute, but that was the only lead that Lynchburg would have on Radford all night. The Highlanders made several commanding runs in the first half to lead. Again, Parakhouski and Lynch-Flohr were just too much of a height advantage, and sank nearly every shot they took when they were allowed to get close to the basket. Phillip Martin also sank several good outside shots for the Highlanders that night.

Several times in the first half, Radford led by more than double Lynchburg’s score. 26-13 in the first 10 minutes, and one of Radford’s largest leads was when they had Lynchburg down 37-16 shortly before the end of the half. Lynchburg fought back, but trailed 49-29 at the final buzzer. During the second half, Radford led by 20 points or more for most of the time. Lynchburg’s closest chance was when they cut the margin to 14 points at 53-39. Radford didn’t take long to kill that. The Highlanders finished the night with a 94-70 win.

So Beginning their season with a good first two home games, the Highlanders had a rough week on the road as they traveled out to North Carolina to face Duke, and then to Pittsburg to face Dusquesne. Radford fell hard to the Blue Devils in a 104-67 blowout, fuled by 18 3-pointers shot by Duke throughout the game. In Pittsburg Radford fell to Dusquesne 71-63, despite a substantial effort from Art Parahakouskit who recorded 23 points and 14 rebounds.

The matchup against Duke came as no surprise to anyone who watched that game, the Blue Devils have been a powerhouse in basketball in the ACC in years past. The Highlanders began with a successful jumper from Joey Lynch-Flohr, who was the first to put Radford on the board, giving them a 2-0 lead. Duke answered pretty quickly with a jumper from Miles Plumlee. For the first six minutes of the half, Radford managed to stay with Duke, and held a slight 13-12 lead before the Blue Devils took off with a 10-0 rally. Parakhouski ended that streak with a layup to keep the Highlanders alive, but the Blue Devils continued laying it on to the Highlanders pretty heavy.

Radford trailed by 21 points at 43-22 with a little over six minutes remaining in the half. The Highlanders tried to stay alive and outscored Duke 7-5 in the next three minutes, but as the half came to an end, the Devils led 59-34. Radford opened up the second half with a 7-0 run to cut Duke’s lead to 59-41. That didn’t stop the Blue Devils, however, who again took off with an 11-2 rally to increase their lead to 70-43. Duke took their first 30 point lead of the night with 12.5 minutes remaining in the game with a jumper from Ryan Kelly. Radford wasn’t able to cut the margin to much less than that for the remainer of the game and fell 104-67 as the clock hit zero.

The second road game of the week was a little closer for Radford, as they traveled to Pittsburg to take on the Dukes of Dusquesne University. The Dukes began the game strong, taking an 11-3 lead in the first five minutes of the game. Blake Smith made the jumper to end that rally, and Radford managed to come to within three points in the next three minutes of play at 13-10. The Dukes put thier lead back up to five with a layup from Bill Clark. Clarke hit two more layups in the next three minutes to put the lead back up to seven at 17-10 before Parakhouski hit a free throw and Joey Lynch-Flohr hit a jumper to cut the margin to 17-13. Radford managed a 6-2 rally from there to finally tie the score at 19. Dusquesne didn’t allow the Highlanders to take the lead, however, and led 26-21 going into the half. The Dukes held the lead throughout the second half to take a 71-63 victory over the Highlanders, dropping Radford’s record to 2-2.

Photo from http://media.nowpublic.net/images//7b/b/7bbf4d2b8eb41cf2d0c9807571a7eab3.jpg

Don’t Be Left4Dead 2

Valve, the makers of Left4dead, recently released the sequel to their popular game. Left4Dead2 is moreof the same zombie killing goodness that its predecessor flaunted in mass. Though this time it comes with a cajun flavor, the background to this version of the game being Louisiana.

Game Play

Game play is more or less the same as what was found in the prequel. The game introduces a number of new characters. These new characters are Coach, Ellis, Nick and Rochelle. Coach is an overweight football coach with a bum knee. Ellis is a mechanic and tends to say some of the funnier things in the character dialogue. Nick is a con artist and gambler. Rochelle is a low-level assistant at a television station who was reporting on the evacuation.

There are also a number of new special infected along with level-specific zombies. The level-specific zombies are known as uncommon infected. They are harder to kill thanks to equipment they were wearing prior to becoming infected. These uncommon infected range from zombies wearing riot gear making them nearly bullet proof to wearing hazmat suits that are fire proof. There are also new special infecteds such as the charger, the jockey and the spitter. The old special zombies have been tweaked and modifications have been made to some of their behavior. For example: on some campaign levels, the witch is now capable of wandering around aimlessly, able to strike at any moment.

The game also runs off of a new artificial intelligence known as the Director. The Director does a number of things for the game in hopes of taking away some of the repetitive play troughs found in the older game. The Director forces players through more treacherous paths in the game, basing its actions on the players’ skill level and how they have done throughout. The Director can also manipulate physical elements of the game such as lighting, weather and placement of walls. In effect the director is in charge of how the game flows and encourages players to take longer paths to reach their goal by providing better weapons and more health packs for taking a greater risk.

Valve has made a number of adjustments to the items found in the game. One such addition to the game

Image from the opening http://pcmedia.ign.com
front picture: http://www.platformnation.com Large picture: http://www.wouldyoukindly.com Image two:IGN.com Image three: http://pcmedia.ign.com

play is the addition of melee weapons such as chain saws, ninja swords, axes and, of course, the frying pan. This adds an interesting component to the game as players have to decide whether to keep their pistols or trade them out for melee weapons. Another addition to the game is the adrenaline shot. This item does not heal characters instead it allows them to ignore their pain and continue to run when their health is low. The bile bomb is a bomb that makes use of the boomer vile; allowing you to coat infected with it, causing them to attack each other.

The Good

There is nothing quite like watching zombie body parts go flying as characters make use of the melee weapons. It has to be one of the more amusing sights to the game. Dialogue between characters is funny and fitting, as they make their way through the game. The AI does a good job of making each play through a unique and interesting experience. It also does a good job of controlling the atmosphere of the game allowing for the correct amount of tension to build before each zombie horde. The bile bomb has to be one of the best weapons in the game watching as a horde of zombies swarm a tank knocking down its health for you is a nice relief when low on ammo.

The Bad

Their really isn’t all that much to say negatively about the game. The one sticking point are the graphics they are not nearly as sharp as they could and should be. Also at times some of the zombies’ movements don’t look entirely natural, rather a bit mechanical.

Whim Rating 5/5

Hitler on left4dead2

Intro to left4dead2

Tiresome Tabloids

Tabloids beating old stories to death  Photo from: http://www.servicenewsinc.com

Recently I have noticed the news has gotten out of hand with its offbeat stories. I have noticed public interest waning as newscasters and tabloids beat the same stories to death every day, and it needs to stop.

The Salahi's gate crashed the White House dinner party     Photo from: http://famespy.files.wordpress.com

Has anyone heard about the Tiger Woods car crash? Of course you have. Everyone has to have at least heard that it happened. I personally do not mind Tiger Woods; and I like golf, but I do not care about his car crash, why it happened or that he might have a mistress. All the public really cares to know is that he was in a car crash and he is going to be able to play golf again. What is the use of musing over the cause of his accident or whether or not he is seeing someone other than his wife? Perhaps this might make him a less than perfect role model, but I am sure we can all stand to stay out of his personal life.

Another story that has been irritating the masses is the one about Michaele and Tareq Salahi crashing the White House dinner. Yes, it is disheartening that security can prevent terrorists from attacking the United States, yet they cannot seem to prevent those sneaky socialites from getting into a high-profile dinner. Even so, we do not really care who manages to slip into the party (so long as they are not terrorists), but we definitely care why security did not manage to stop them. What is worse is that this pair is a part of the

Pokemon Diamond, Catch Them All

The latest additions to the Pokemon franchise is a bit of a disapointment. In this new addition they take advantage of the Nintendo DS’s touch screen; this opens a number of possibilities that were not available in the previous games. You set off in a new region of the world to discover its secrets and Pokemon.

Game Play

Pokemon Game box. image from, http://nintendods.guias-trucos-juegos.com/

Not much has changed here form the original games. You wander the world battling gym leaders and rivals as you continue/begin the age old quest to become the very best that there ever was. The touch screen is utilized a fair amount of the time. You get a watch like device from the PokeTch company. It comes with applications built in and you gain more throughout the game.These apps use the touch screen to be activated. The new bag makes use of the touch screen as well, allowing players to cycle throughthe numerous specialty pockets with ease. The games keeps the contest system which was introduced during the last generation of games. The contest system is similar to a fashion show for Pokemon. Another new features which not only takes advantage of the touch screen but also takes advantage of theNintendo DS’s wi-fi capabilities is the underground. In the underground, you have the opportunity to set up a secret base; not exactly a new concept to the Pokemon universe. What is different is the ability to not only visit friends’ bases but also steal certain items from them. The underground also gives you an opportunity to find fossils and other items that can either be redeemed for better stuff or used on its own. There isn’t much to say about the game play in the game. Its your standard, go places, do this go somewhere else do that-sort of play.

The Good

The upgraded graphics for the game really shine though during battle sequences. Each move has its own special animation, the vast majority of them looking awesome. Music is pretty much what you expect from a Pokemon game but is good for a nice nostalgic reminder of the past. Battle mechanics flow smoothly with the random encounters with wild Pokemon in the world. Underground is a definite plus to this game. It is fun to play alone and even more fun when playing within it against people as you try and find their secret base.

The Bad

There is plenty that isn’t bad but definitely could be improved upon, the chief thing among those is the graphics. The graphics, while an improvement from the previous game, could be improved more. Besides the attack sequences, the graphics for the battles and the majority of the game don’t look as though they have been upgraded since the last generation of games in the Pokemon franchise. The touch screen, while a nifty little addition to the game, could of been used much more often. Instead of it being used for accessories, it could have been used for movement, which would have opened an entirely new dimension to the game.

Final Thoughts

The game is a good play for nostalgia purposes and in general provides a solid amount of game play. The game has its fun moments as you destroy your rivals again and again. Battles are short but intense, especially the ones that aren’t won. Hours can be spent training up certain Pokemon just to face a particular gym leader or elite four. The game is worth getting, even with the developers apparent laziness.

Whim Rating: 3/5

Game Play, as shown from YouTube

Trailer: Video from youtube


Couples Retreat, a Retreat or Purgatory

I consider myself knowledgeable on a limited number of subjects. Film is one of them. All you moviegoers better know who the hell Vince Vaughn is. Old School and Wedding Crashers are two of my favorite movies, and Vaughn made his move into print by writing The Breakup and now Couples Retreat. This isn