Entries Tagged as 'Trending'

Masculine Pinsecurity

4.25.2017

By Matthew Clough

Nathan Clem has just signed an apartment lease for next year with his girlfriend, Rena Stair. After dating for nearly two years, they decided it was time to give living together a shot. He’s already been preparing for the move by collecting kitchen supplies, buying brand new bedsheets, even building a coffee table with one of his friends.

There’s just one more step he’s making in his preparations: getting a Pinterest account.

Clem, a junior from Baldwin City, Kansas, says his sister first showed him the app, and he thought it was a cool way to organize ideas, especially for planning home décor options and DIY projects. The app curates content for you from around the web based on topics you’ve indicated interest in. He was careful to not tell too many people he was using it, though. “I just thought, Pinterest is more for women and I didn’t want to seem too feminine,” he says. “It does carry a certain connotation.”

He’s not the only one who feels this way. According to a Pew Research Center study released at the end of 2016, 45 percent of online adult women use the virtual bulletin board site, while only 17 percent of online men do. This comes after statistics released by Pinterest that claim its male user base in the U.S. increased by 73 percent over the course of 2014.

Among college men, there’s a mix of reactions to Pinterest. Some say it’s a place for “arts and crafts bullshit” or “a platform for people who want to build personal fantasies.” But other men like Clem think it’s useful for everyone.

“Nathan came up to me, and he was kind of shy about it. He was like, ‘I don’t want to be weird or anything, but I think it’d be a really great idea if we shared house ideas with, like, Pinterest,’” Stair recalls. “At this point we had already decided we were going to live together next year,” Clem says. “I just thought it would be a good way to save ideas.”

Still, it’s clear that the concept of men using Pinterest has some taboo connotation. Simply searching “do men use Pinterest?” on Google yields a slew of articles about the site’s largely skewed demographics. But more interestingly, it also brings up the related searches “is Pinterest for guys too?” and “manteresting,” which is a website similar to Pinterest but with more sexy cars and hilarious videos, according to its Twitter. (Instead of “pinning” things to boards, you use manly nails.)

Perhaps more than anything, these searches convey an insecurity among men in using the virtual bulletin board. The most revealing thing about them is the perceived cultural necessity of assigning gender to things that are objectively genderless.

Hyunjin Seo, an associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas who researches social media, says that the visual nature of Pinterest may be one reason more women are using it than men. “Think of the topics that more align with visual-based social media sites,” she says. “Fashion, food, travel and so on. There’s more women than men that share content on social media on these topics.”

The visual appearance of Pinterest itself may be part of the reason men shy away from it, although its design doesn’t necessarily cater directly to women. The site is plain white and upon logging in you’re greeted with a collage-like scattering of content. Manteresting, by comparison, looks essentially identical except for a black background. Houzz is a home design site that boasts slightly more male users than Pinterest; its design, like its content, is more architectural.

Instagram is interesting in that its interface is entirely visual-driven, yet according to Seo, the proportions of male and female users are very similar. Although women still outnumber men on the platform – 58 to 42 percent as of 2016, the gap is nowhere near as wide as it was several years ago, Seo said.

Some college men maintain that appearance has nothing to do with it. Conan Lee is a freshman from Overland Park, Kan., who studies illustration and uses the site for inspiration. “I have a sci-fi board and a fantasy board, for stuff like character design and concept art – ideas for drawing,” he says. Another student, Murphy Smith from Westwood, Kan., does not use the site but says “If I want something that seems to be similar to Pinterest, I just go to Reddit.” That site is significantly less structured in appearance than Pinterest.

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Regardless of appearance or perceptions, Clem remains adamant in the value of Pinterest. He and Stair have been organizing apartment decoration ideas and projects to take on together over the summer while they prepare for the big move. “I think people should use it no matter what society thinks,” he says.

 

 

WTF Is Up?! – Brazil impeaches president, things get stranger, and more!

9.02.2016

By Darby VanHoutan

WTF-Darby

I paid my first rent, remembered to eat three meals a day, and managed to stay informed this week. Now, here’s a few happenings from the world for all! WTF happened this week?

 

2017 – Full of Stranger Things

Many people remember where they were when Michael Jackson’s death was announced or President Obama announced the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Me, on the other hand, I remember the exact moment I first saw Eleven – or Elle for short – on my television.

 

The Netflix original series Stranger Things debuted this summer, and the world has never been the same. The show follows some ~spooky~ happenings of adolescents living in a small town in Indiana. Don’t worry—I won’t give away any spoilers. Besides the fact that Barb is dead, Will was rescued from the upside-down, and Eleven has some sort of supernatural connection to the monster.

 

The most exciting part is that Netflix announced via Twitter on Wednesday that it has been confirmed for a second season that will come out in 2017. Unlike me, Netflix really didn’t give away any clues besides some 80’s-esque thriller music and words like “Palace”, “Storm”, “Pollywog”, etc. Good News! Only three months until 2017.

 

Brazil Seeking Leader

This past Wednesday while the rest of world was partaking in some dollar-night-like festivities, the Brazilian Senate impeached their president. The first female president of the country, Dilma Rousseff, was suspended this past May to await trial, and as of Wednesday, has been removed for the rest of her term.

 

This impeachment comes at the closing of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and, in summation, was due to what the Brazilian Senate saw as Rousseff covering up the country’s growing economic and social issues. The final vote in the Senate was 61 in favor of the impeachment and 20 opposed.

 

Rousseff’s Vice-President Michel Temer is currently serving as interim president, will remain in the position until the end of the term in 2018.

 

Willow Smith gets Shady

Ever since Willow Smith whipped her hair in 2010, I’ve been infatuated. The latest move by the daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, is serving as the ambassador to Chanel’s AW16 eyewear campaign. The entire campaign, shot in black and white, features the model/actress/singer sporting….sunglasses. No virgin to starring in high end fashion campaigns, Smith has also modeled for Marc Jacobs and more.

 

Chanel creative director and all-around mastermind Karl Lagerfeld photographed the entire campaign which can be viewed here → AW16 Campaign.

 

One Big Explosion for Mankind

Facebook’s first ever communications satellite was set to launch this coming Saturday. The satellite, attached to sexily-named rocket SpaceX Falcon 9, would have extended internet access across 14 countries in Africa. However, during a static fire test this Thursday the rocket exploded. (I feel you, rocket) The explosion destroyed the rocket along with the entire payload, satellite included. Luckily, the rocket was unmanned and there were no civilians injured at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where it resided.

 

Don’t worry SpaceX, just like college students tell themselves every day – this too shall pass.

WTF Is Happening in Europe – An Update on Brexit

6.24.2016

By: Darby VanHoutan

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This summer has definitely been one full of political tension and issues that hit home for too many people. Across the pond in Britain, millions of citizens turned out just yesterday to vote on a decision that will change the lives of not only the European Union but everyone around the world.

The United Kingdom held a referendum on Thursday (referendum: a general vote by the people on a single political question that has been given to them for direct decision) to decide whether Britain would stay in or leave the EU. The “leave” campaign won with 52% to the “stay” campaigns 48%. As the results from this voting piled in, the value of the euro dropped significantly to its lowest level since the 1980’s. In the hours since the voting, Britain has lost a total of 350 billion euro (this converts to about $389,304,995,370.39). This morning after receiving the news, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would resign by October. Cameron served as a leader of the “stay” campaign and an important voice in the debate. According to his speech, Cameron made the decision to step down because he feels that he would not be the right person to lead the people of Britain to their next destination.

Why did this happen? The reasons behind the “leave” campaign were promises such as restrictions on immigration, more money for an independent United Kingdom, better handling of crises, and other issues within the country. These issues include things such as lack of trust in people like the Prime Minister, the UK’s relationship with Europe, and the big names that backed the “leave” campaign. These names included that of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (the head runner for replacing Cameron). Another thing worth noting is the different turnout of people at the polls on Thursday. There was a 25 percent turnout of people aged 18-25 and a 61 percent turnout of people 65 and up. Ironically, this decision made by a majority of older citizens, will be the issue for the newer generations instead to handle.

Currently, the EU is a 27-member block, being knocked down from 28 after Britain is the first country to exit. However, this referendum does not stand alone. This decision is causing traction and debated in other countries in the EU such as Scotland who voted to remain in the EU on Thursday.

What does this mean? Although the news on the decision is not even a day old, the ripples from Britain’s vote will surely last for decades. This decision shows that the United Kingdom is now independent from Europe and more right-winged than ever. This decision will change traveling from Britain to members of the EU and vice-versa. Technically, this decision isn’t a legally-binding one but it isn’t likely that the British government will ignore its voters. Within the vote was also the fact that there won’t be any ~major~ changes in the next two years. This is because it will take about this long for the remaining 27 members and the independent Britain to decide things like how to maintain trade, travel, etc.

 

WTF Is Up?! A Life-Changing Baby Picture, Damn Daniel and more!

2.26.2016

By Darby VanHoutan

WTF-Darby

Earlier this week I mistook gouda cheese for yogurt and learned that gouda cheese is gross and that I need to wear my glasses more often. Other than that I rate this week 10/10, WTF else is up!?

Is Saint West an actual saint?

Babies are interesting creatures. They come in all shapes and sizes and only about 23% of the babies I see DON’T freak me out. However, recently Kim Kardashian-West and Kanye West blessed the world with their second beautiful offspring which makes me want to roll it up in a Chipotle burrito and eat it, in the most flattering way possible. Kardashian-West gave birth to her son Saint on December 5, 2015 but it was only this week when the world first saw the delicious Saint West. Kim posted the first picture of Saint on Monday February 22 on both her app and for us cheap peasants to view, on Twitter.

Saint was decked out in a white onesie with his yummy little arms raised above his head. The picture was released on her late father, Robert Kardashian’s, birthday. On her app, Kim also wrote along with the picture “Today is my dad’s birthday. I know there is nothing more in the world that he would have wanted than to meet his grandchildren. So I wanted to share this pic of Saint with you all”. The release of this picture brings about two questions: (1) Will I ever stop using words like ‘delicious’ and ‘yummy’ to describe the scrumptious little baby? (2) Where can I get one?

Taylor Swift contributes $250,000 to #FreeKesha

Over ten years ago singer Kesha signed a contract with producer Dr. Luke and Sony Records. In 2014 Kesha filed a civil suit claiming that Dr. Luke drugged, sexually assaulted, and on many occasions verbally abused her. On Friday February 19 the New York State Supreme Court denied the singer’s request for an injunction that would allow her to make music elsewhere while the sexual assault case continues. The contract states that Kesha must release six albums before her contract is up and so far she has made two (Animal and Warrior). This means that if the singer wishes to continue releasing music, she has to do it working for the man she says raped her. Whether a person sides with the New York State Supreme Court or Kesha, it is quite obvious that the concept of being legally bound to an abuser is hard and sad to imagine. Many celebrities like Taylor Swift, Adele, Zedd, and other have defended Kesha. Swift donated $250,000 in support of Kesha. While accepting an award at the Brit Award on Wednesday evening singer Adele showed support by saying “I’d also like to take this moment to publicly support Kesha.” On Thursday singer and producer Zedd sent a tweet offering support to help produce music for her, being one of the only men to support her publicly. Along with celebrities, people all around the world are using the hashtag #FreeKesha to show their support. Kesha also broke her silence on the issue in an Instagram post on Wednesday with the caption ending with “I love you all so much. a statement too large for this format is coming….”

Damn! ….. Daniel I wish I would have thought of that first

I was a firm believer that I hadn’t been sucked into the “damn, Daniel!” worm-hole this week. This was until I unintentionally shouted “DAMN, DANIEL” at some poor defenseless stranger wearing white Vans on the bus on Tuesday. Unless you are focused enough to not use social media or have just been asleep for five days you’ve heard about the viral video (which is a 30 second long edited collection of Snapchats) where a boy named Josh Holz admires his friend Daniel Lara’s outfits, and most importantly, his white Vans. In the video, Holz repeatedly films Lara while saying “damn, Daniel” and “Back at it again with the white Vans” and my personal favorite “spicy man, spicy.” The tweet currently has 330,000 retweets and 440,000 favorites and landed the two boys a visit to the Ellen Degeneres Show on Tuesday. Here, Holz and Lara commented on things like the marriage proposals and (maybe only week long) fame they have received. Daniel Lara also received a lifetime supply of Vans while on Ellen. Check mate Daniel and Josh, I wish I would have thought of it. Also, lucky for everyone in the entire world youtube account titled Bomb Squad Records made a remix to the video called “Damn Daniel – Bombs Away Remix” and it. is. lit.

Why It’s more than just Apple vs. the FBI

The FBI and the well-known tech company Apple are in the middle of, to put it simply, a huge, gi-normous, important, unprecedented, and messy fight over encryption. This fight started after the iPhone belonging to one of the shooters from the San Bernardino terrorist attack was discovered by police during the investigation. Since both shooters are dead and they destroyed all other electronics, the iPhone is an important piece of evidence to the FBI. However, after a person has entered the wrong passcode into an iPhone ten times, it erases all data. This led to the FBI asking Apple to break into the iPhone. After Apple refused the request, the FBI issued a court order forcing them to do so. Basically, the FBI is wants the tech geniuses at Apple to write a new software that will allow the FBI access into the shooter’s iPhone.

FBI Side: The FBI is expected to defend their court order by explaining that they are simply asking for access to the phone of a terrorist so that they can collect information. They are saying that the information that they collect could be valuable in the future and that Apple refusing them access is not right.

Apple Side: Apple is expected to defend their refusal by explaining that encryption and coding are protected under the First Amendment, and that a court can’t force them to write a completely new version of their software. People at Apple are also saying that this won’t be just one phone, but eventually versatile for all phones, removing any sense of security.

The first deadline for the case is today, February 26, when Apple must file a response to the court regarding why they will now unlock the phone. Click here to see a timeline of the case, provided by CNN.

WTF Is Up?! Celebrity meltdowns, the death of the 2016 Presidential Election, and more.

2.19.2016

By Darby VanHoutan

WTF-Darby

I whole-heartedly believed that I was going to tap out of this week. For a moment I considered lying down on Jayhawk Blvd. and letting a bus run me over, but I made it. You made it. WTF else is up?!

I’m gonna let you finish but – Kanye West is going through some things.

Do you remember when Britney Spears shaved her head and attacked some paparazzi in 2007? We all look back now and think “It’s okay Britney, we all go through some things.” Well, it’s all happening again, with a little less head shaving and a lot more Kanye West. Kanye West’s public breakdown seemed to begin when people heard West’s song “Famous” on his new album The Life of Pablo (the album name changed many times from Swish to Waves to this). The lyrics in this song that angered people to the point of even tweeting (gasp!) about it were “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that bitch famous.” This started an uprising from Taylor fans and others. West then turned to Twitter earlier this week saying he was $53 million in debt and then asking Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook for a loan of $1 billion. Along with these tweets, Kanye has continued throughout the week saying things like “I love love love white people but you don’t understand what it means to be the great grandson of ex slaves and make it this far,” “This [West’s album] was made with love. Only God can judge me. So I only expect love back!!!,” “Money doesn’t make me who I am…,” etc. We all have these problems Kanye, a quick loan of $1 billion isn’t much and everyone understands.

Taylor Swift made an important acceptance speech – but more importantly her Grammy dress was –hEaRt EyE eMoJiS –

Sweet and beautiful Taylor Swift can do no wrong. I firmly believe that Taylor Swift was sent down from Heaven with angels carrying her. In recent news regarding Swift however, she wore an amazing Atelier Versace two-piece dress to the 2016 Grammys and gave a subtweet-filled acceptance speech after receiving Best Album of the Year on Monday. The star’s dress was made up of a coral bandeau on top and a fuchsia bubble skirt on bottom with shorts underneath (admire it here), really driving home the fact that Taylor Swift can wear a skort in 2016 even if no one else can. She was wearing this dress when she accepted her Grammy for Best Album of the Year, and gave a speech very obviously pointing in Kanye West’s direction. In her acceptance speech Swift stated “There are going to be people along the way that try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame” which was Swift’s way of saying “Kanye West didn’t make me famous,” but much more glamorous.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dies – and RIP to the 2016 election

On Saturday morning, when you were all sleeping off the punch from the night before, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia was found dead in Shafter, Texas. Scalia was a leading conservative justice on the highest court in the United States. I’ll give you a quick rundown. The United States Supreme Court is the most powerful court in the country and has a total of 9 justices serving on it. These justices are a mixture of democrats, republicans, men, women, etc. These justices decide the cases that become law for the United States and set standards for society as a whole.

After Scalia’s death, the Supreme Court has only eight justices. No offense to Scalia and no disrespect to his death (that has been said was caused by natural causes and isn’t requiring an autopsy), but this is bad timing. This ninth  justice spot has to be filled by the President appointing one. However, the United States is in the middle of a presidential election and everyone has very different opinions. Some people are saying that the spot should be left open and the next president should have the responsibility of filling it, even though President Obama still has eleven months left in office. In summation, Scalia’s death just made the 2016 presidential election much more interesting.

Sports Illustrated gets curvy

If you haven’t done it already, it is officially time to embrace your curves. American model Ashley Graham definitely is. Graham is making history as Sports Illustrated’s first “plus-size” (aka average sized) swimsuit cover model. Graham has certainly come a long way after having a Lane Bryant lingerie ad she modeled in cut by ABC, and not quite making it for last year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. However, this year Graham is starring as a cover model in one of Sports Illustrated’s three covers (the other two cover models are Haley Clauson and Ronda Rousey). The magazine spread was shot in locations like Tahiti, Malta, Turks and Caicos, and others. Maybe next year they’ll bring the shoot to Lawrence, Kansas. Maybe next year “plus-size” will also just be a normal model because if bombshell Ashley Graham is plus-size, then I want to be plus-size too.

WTF Is Up?! Free Chipotle, the death of Twitter, and more.

2.12.2016

WTF-Darby

By Darby VanHoutan

Congrats on surviving another week! Personally, I only cried into my iced coffee in public once this week. I did order a dozen Hot Box Cookies as well, but it’s lent season and God forgives. WTF is up everywhere else?

So We’re Not Going to Disney World?

The Super Bowl happened. The Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24 to 10. The game was played on Sunday February 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. I don’t really know who I was rooting for. I like Cam Newton, quarterback for Carolina, because he’s beautiful and does the little celebration dances after he scores no matter how much they fine him (It’s gone as high as $10,000). I guess I should like Peyton Manning, quarterback for Denver, since a majority of America likes him, but he did something so upsetting that I don’t know if I will ever forgive him.

I may not know much about football but I do know that after you win the big important Superbowl a reporter asks you “What are you going to do now that you won the superbowl?” and you say “I’m going to Disney World!” and this is the American Dream. The reporter did his job at the latest Super bowl, but what was Manning’s response? He said he was going to go kiss his wife and kids and have a Budweiser. A BUDWEISER?! Personally, I think Manning should be arrested for treason against not only Disney World but America. The Denver quarterback also wasn’t paid a dime for this proclamation although the advertising was valued at $13.9 million.

I do know that I was rooting for Beyoncé and had a mini-heart attack when the beautiful piece of Hawaiian chocolate named Bruno Mars made a surprise appearance and had a dance off with Queen Bey and the band Coldplay.

It’s Not Too Late to Say Sorry – Chipotle Edition

Picture this: You’re on the 43 red KU bus, dragging your butt back to your room to work on more German homework when you receive life changing news. This life changing news not only changes your entire day and lunch plans, but your overall outlook on life. This happened to me on Monday. On this day, all a person had to do was text “raincheck” to 888-222. Then you entered your name and within 10 days a FREE BURRITO. This give away was only open from 11:00 am EST to 6:00 pm EST on Monday February 8. If you missed the time period I sincerely apologize from the depths of my soul, because this free burrito changed my life. Although the reason behind a free burrito matters to just about no one, Chipotle did have a motivation for this. The restaurant chain was closed on Monday for nationwide food safety meetings including 50,000 of its employees. This meeting was to address and change things that will prevent another pesky E. Coli outbreak like the one that made almost 500 people sick in 2015. I wasn’t that upset about it, but apology accepted Chipotle.

RIP Twitter

Buzzfeed News uncovered some big stuff earlier this week regarding everyone’s favorite social media, Twitter. Right now when a person opens up twitter, tweets show up in reverse chronological order, with the newest ones at the top of a person’s timeline. However the site is set to unveil an algorithmic timeline as soon as next week. I know right, what the frick is an algorithmic timeline? Basically, when you open up Twitter, the app will use an algorithm (smart-yness) to bring the tweets it thinks you want to see most to the top (AKA the most popular) regardless of the time they were posted. Many users of the popular app aren’t too happy about it. Mostly because it’s bad news for people who get that 1 pity like from their mom on their tweets (me), whose content will become not so popular and get lost at the bottom of a timeline.

Many changes have happened within Twitter recently since new CEO Jack Dorsey took over in October of 2015. One of these not-so-popular changes being the transition from the favorite to the like. There already is a sort of algorithmic system happening on twitter with the most popular tweets appearing under a section of your timeline that’s labeled “While You Were Away…”

Dorsey (@jack) also contradicted the news of a timeline change in a tweet he posted on February 6. This tweet stated “Hello Twitter! Regarding #RipTwitter: I want you all to know we’re always listening. We never planned to reorder timelines next week”. Confusing much @jack?

The Suite Life of me after Cole Sprouse returns to television

Ever since the Sprouse twins left television to go off and do adult things like graduate from NYU and start photography and video game design careers, my life has been a little less meaningful. However, news emerged this week that you might want to sit down for. Cole Sprouse (aka Cody Martin that used to run through Mr. Mosby’s lobby in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody) will be returning to our screens after being cast as Jughead in the CW’s new show titled Riverdale. The show is based off of the comic book series Archie. Personally, I know -12 things about what Archie is. In summation, it’s about Archie, Betty, Jughead (Cole Sprouse), and Veronica who are living their teen years in a small town. So far the roles of Jughead and Betty (Lili Reinhart) are the only ones that have been cast. In our Sprouse-themed dream world, Cole’s twin brother Dylan would join in and it would be like The Tipton hotel all over again. Sadly, Dylan is busy doing Dylan things in the television world as well, working on a TV show called Dismissed. Regardless, we missed you Cole. Thanks for coming back.

chipotle dar

Photos by Emma Creighton

2016 Resolutions

1.22.2016

Resolutions2016

Welcome back to campus! Now that we’re (sort of) back in the swing of things, at least in the sense that we’ve rolled out of bed for classes, semi-presentable in attire, and haven’t frozen in the process, it’s time for some reflection. The start of a fresh semester is just like the beginning of a new year–a perfect time to re-evaluate who you are, where you’re headed, and what you want to accomplish. We’re talking resolutions here! Sure, we’re a few weeks late on this bandwagon, but who says resolutions have to be reserved for a new year?

Here we’ve shared a few of our resolutions for the semester (it’ll help us stay accountable). Feel free to steal our ideas, share your own, and make this semester your best yet!

  1. Invite someone you’d like to get to know better to brunch.
  2. Learn how to do a French twist.
  3. Decaffeinate.
  4. Call instead of text.
  5. Perfect the messy bun.
  6. Enjoy the weather. Even the snow.
  7. Chill on the Chipotle. (It’s hard, we know.)
  8. Read more, and not just the Buzzfeed gifset “listicles” from Facebook.
  9. Speak your mind.
  10. #Confidence.

Tell us your resolutions for this semester on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

The Quest For a Thin Waist

12.07.2015

By Hannah Sundermeyer

Beauty is pain, but they never told me it would hurt this much.

Le-Corset-x-rays

I shoved my skin into angry folds in an effort to make the eighteen tiny metal hooks meet one another. Taking shallow breaths, I sucked in until I could see my rib cage protruding in the mirror. I grimaced at the pain-stricken reflection looking back at me as I continued to try and wrap the thick black fabric around my abdomen.

In a quest for an hourglass figure, women across the country are going to desperate measures to achieve the look that many can only achieve through Photoshop. We live in a generation that seeks instant gratification and quick fixes, especially when it comes to our bodies.

The shape wear industry is expected to earn around $680 million dollars by the end of this year, with the help of celebrity endorsements booming the sales of modern day corsets, dubbed “waist trainers,” and spandex. In an interview with Net-A-Porter, Jessica Alba said she used not only one, but two different types of waist trainers to maintain her figure and get rid of post-baby chub. Amber Rose flaunts her miniscule middle on social media, and credits her Waist Gang Society corset for her self-proclaimed “milfin” body.

I was interested to see if the results that many celebrities advocated for were true. In preparation for a looming spring break trip, I also was looking for an additional supplement to my workout regimen. On the afternoon of September 12th, I ripped the plastic off my Premadonna waist trainer with both a sense of anticipation and dread. I spent four incredibly long weeks wearing the garment seven to eight hours a day. However it always felt like much, much longer.

Posted to thelingerieaddict.com, a waist trainer works efficiently because women’s rib cages are naturally flexible. Along with bones in the pelvis as well as organs, ribs and all of the above are malleable during pregnancy, which is why the rib cage is connected to the breastbone with cartilage. As a woman’s body grows and changes the internal components are able to adapt along with it. However, waist training manipulates that flexibility in an unnecessary way. Does it work? Yes. But it does not serve a natural purpose like that of carrying a child.

Corsets are defined as a fitting undergarment stiffened with whalebone or similar material and often capable of being tightened by lacing, worn especially by women to shape and support the body. Shockingly, women have been squeezing themselves into these contraptions for the last 500 years.

According to VictoriasPast.com’s “Mini History of the Corset,” “Women were thought of as the weaker sex, therefore their minds and bodies were weak. So the corset was deemed morally and medically necessary. Tight lacing was considered virtuous—a loose corset was probably a sign of a loose woman.” However, working class women were excluded from this trend, as a corseted waist often reflected wealth and social status. Smelling salts were also a commonality, as Victorian women fainted on a regular basis due to a lack of oxygen.

In Valerie Steele’s book “Fashion and Eroticism, Ideals of Feminine Beauty from the Victorian Era to the Jazz Age,” it is stated that on average, women’s waists have been recorded from as small as 14 to 22 inches. The designer Christian Dior later brought them back into popularity in the 1940’s and 1950’s as a slim waistline and bigger hips became coveted in the fashion world. However the title corset was retired, replaced instead with girdle.

The corset comes equipped with three rows of bra like hooks. After a quick Google search, I planned out my “cinching schedule” according to the blog posts of fellow waist training enthusiasts, and with the extra strength of my roommate, strapped myself in. At the conclusion of each week it is advised to move on to the smaller set of cinches. My initial thoughts on the first day were that there was absolutely no chance I’d be able to fit into the smallest set anytime in the near future.

I was absolutely miserable for 99% of the time. I now know why Kanye West is never smiling in any of his paparazzi photos—because he has to put up with Kim in a waist trainer.

Cinching yourself into this modern day torture device is only half the battle. Once you have it on, everything becomes a million times more difficult. Sitting in class? It digs into your boobs. I had to get up for a “bathroom break” and take a lap around the building at least five times to get rid of the pain. Working out? I hope you don’t expect to breathe. Lying down seemed to be the only time during the day in which I felt somewhat comfortable.

I have to admit; there are some days where I just couldn’t bear the thought of spending 8 hours with my kidneys hand in hand and my stomach in my throat.

The impact on your organs is just one of the supposed factors that go hand in hand with this body-morphing trend.

“There is extremely little scientific data out there on this, but for a good reason.  Why would anyone suspect that this would do any good for you?” Dr. Mary J. Minkin of Yale School of Medicine said.

Manipulating your body in such a way could imminently suggest harmful effects on your inner organs; however she disagrees.

“There’s a lot of room in the belly for intestines to move around. Is somebody going to strangulate their bowels? It’s hard to imagine you could get anything tight enough to do that for you. So there isn’t any data suggesting permanent organ damage, it’s just awfully uncomfortable more than anything else. “

If somebody wants to lose weight, Minkin recommends simply adjusting your diet and getting a lot of exercise. When it comes long-term effects, wearing a waist trainer doesn’t do anything for weight loss. She says that wearing the heavier shape wear will increase your sweat production, but when you drink water, you will gain it all back. Waist trainers will not help you lose any fat.

“This is nothing new. If you go back to reading Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” Scarlett O’Hara supposedly had a 17-inch waist that she got from wearing a corset. Basically, people wore these ridiculous corsets in the old times, and they didn’t die,” Minkin said.

waist training

While I am far from a fictional 17-inch waist, I pride myself on being incredibly health conscious, especially when it comes to eating right. However I noticed when wearing the waist cincher I could barely finish my measured portions without feeling uncomfortable. The corset acts as a deterrent to overeat, which I’m sure plays, a role in the additional weight loss that wearers associate with the garment.  

Amy Schroeder, a senior from Colby, Kansas, has been wearing a waist trainer off and on for the last five months. Initially she decided to purchase it because she read the garment helped with posture. However, as a signed model with The I & I Agency, she decided it might also help her maintain her thin body type.

“I remember my agent telling me that I couldn’t be eating fast food and that there was no in-between, between being a model and a plus size model,” Schroeder said. “You have to either be incredibly skinny or noticeably plus size.”

Even after a few months of use, she noticed an improvement in her posture and waist size. Schroeder has now limited her corset use to her workouts only because she feels like she is getting the full effect when she’s active.

“It makes you sweat even more and I think it helps shape the changing muscle,” Schroeder said.

I’m going to be blunt. This thing makes you sweat like a portable sauna. The tightness of the garment results in a bit of, well, “drippage” all over your torso. I mean, what could be more attractive? I ended up cutting off the tops of old tank tops to slide over my stomach to create a makeshift barrier and soak up the sweat. This tight and moist environment can cause a variety of skin infections and irritations like yeast infections and folliculitis. (Imagine itchy, red bumps a million times more irritating than your worst case of razor burn.) In some extreme cases, irreversible scarring also can occur.

According to an article published in the LA Times in April, shape wear can also cause a neurological condition called meralgia paresthetica, “which causes painful burning and tingling in the thighs when there is too much pressure on nerves that run through the groin.” This can result in infertility and other reproductive issues.

I chose to not to tell my mom initially about my little experiment, as she worries more than the average parent. But one weekend when I came home to do laundry, I got lazy and she found it hanging from my hamper.

She started texting me to stop. You cannot be wearing that waist-slimmer thing. I have heard so many stories of all these women not able to have kids now and kidney damage. Hannah this is super serious and non-repairable.

Despite the maternal warnings I was receiving on an almost daily basis, I was determined to finish out my trial, despite the angst—both mental and physical—that I was experiencing. For the record, wearing a waist trainer for seven hours a day makes me a very grouchy individual.

Why the hell are women held to these outrageous standards? According to Bradley University’s The Body Project, “The compelling fact here is that just as women started to make dramatic gains in the areas of education, employment and politics, the ideal female body began to look like a malnourished preadolescent girl, weak, emaciated and non-threatening. Women may have been gaining in freedom and power, but they were increasingly encouraged to discipline their bodies through diet and exercise to conform to ideals that were almost impossible to achieve.”

By week three and sans roommate assistance, I could easily cinch myself into the last row of hooks, quite opposite of my initial prediction. I have to admit; despite the drastic measures you have to go to, it really does work. I started feeling more confident with the waist trainer on underneath clothing, giving myself the illusion of curves on my more naturally straight midsection. Whenever I wore tighter fitting clothes, I received multiple compliments on how small my waist looked—but at what cost?

Throughout my journey with a waist trainer, I feel as though it serves as more of a psychological reminder to eat smaller portions and get active, as much as the corset is a physical one. It’s not easy to forget that you are dieting when you spend most of your day in a state of semi-bearable suffocation—but my best advice? Eat right, hit the gym and skip the waist trainer to save your sanity.

Trending Buns—Man Buns, That Is

11.09.2015

By Cassidy Ritter

Man bun rocker Brogan Moroney’s hair rests a little below his shoulders at about 12 inches in length. Until this summer, Moroney, a senior from Overland Park, Kan., never put his hair up; instead he always wore a hat. When he woke up for the first day of his internship, he didn’t know what to do with his hair so he put it up into as much of a bun as he could. “It was kind of a pain in the ass, but I wore it and I was like, ‘Oh, everyone’s going to think I’m a huge hippie,’” Moroney says. This is when Moroney first partook in the man bun trend.

Brogan Moroney, a senior from Overland Park, Kan., wears his man bun with shorts and a t-shirt.

Brogan Moroney, a senior from Overland Park, Kan., wears his man bun with shorts and a t-shirt.

First, what is a man bun? It’s not the butt of a hot guy walking to class or breaking a sweat at the gym. A man bun is a hairstyle when a man with shoulder length or longer hair secures it in a bun towards the top of the head. Some men use gel while others use the unwashed look for a more rugged feel. Either way, it’s supposed to look like men didn’t put much time into their hair, even if they did.

“The man bun looks like you didn’t try, but it was such a pain in the ass to grow,” Moroney says.

Buddha is the first trendsetter of the man bun, which dates back to sixth and seventh century BCE. Next came the Terracotta Warriors from third century BCE, according to Male Standard, a men’s online magazine. These warriors were among the armies of Qin Shi Haung, the first Emperor of China. Fast forward through the samurai time period to George Harrison in the ‘70s and you’ll find male groupies rocking the man bun hairstyle, too.

After the ‘70s, man buns were labeled as hippie hair until 2003 when David Beckham reinvented the bun to a slicked back hairstyle signifying game time.

So when did the man bun become what it is today? This look combines hipster and hippie with a nice beard or scruff to top it off. Similar to other fashion trends, the bun became popular when celebrity actors started to wear it. Take Ivan Vanko in 2010, playing Whiplash in Iron Man 2, who wore half his hair in a bun and the other half down to his shoulders with a clean-cut mustache and small beard. Then Tom Brady wore a similar quaff in 2011. After Brady, many other popular celebrities followed suit including Colin Farrell, Jared Leto, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harry Styles and that hottie strolling to class on campus.

Today, there are more than 26,000 posts with “#manbuns” on Instagram and more than 40 accounts dedicated to this style.

David Cooper, a graduate student from Overland Park, wears a full beard to compliment his man bun.

David Cooper, a graduate student from Overland Park, wears a full beard to compliment his man bun.

Bob Brandt, owner of Malls Barber Shop, says he thinks the man bun is “for the younger people of this time.” Brandt has owned the barbershop for 47 years. “They [hairstyles] come and they go,” he says. “We’ve had some we didn’t like and we cut them anyways.”

Jeffrey Brown, a barber at Malls Barber Shop, thinks the bun will be worn in Lawrence for another two years, but he will be happy to see it go. Just like any other hairstyle, people wearing man buns will look back in 15 years when they are in a professional job and wonder what they were thinking, he says.  

Hairstylist Alyssa Keberlein first noticed the style transforming from actors to college students about nine months ago. Keberlein’s not a fan of the style, though, which could be why she thought it would only stick around for another year. She said the man bun is not attractive and looks girly. Katie Thompson, a freshman from Colorado Springs, Colo., says man buns frustrate her. “I don’t have much hair so it frustrates me when I see a guy with better hair than me.”

Contrary to Thompson, Natalie Schelbar, a freshman from Tulsa, Okla., says she loves the man buns. Schelbar said if she dated a guy with a man bun, she would make sure the two of them had matching buns.

Not all girls’ opinions of the bun are black and white, though. There is a fine line between a good man bun and a bad bun in my mind. A good man bun is defined by the his style. I, for one, am not a fan of the man bun in LFK worn by hipsters and hippies, but find it to be a sexy style among surfers in Australia.

I could never date a guy with a man bun unless he rocks the look with a surfboard in hand. The man bun in LFK looks like a lazy college look for guys who didn’t want to pay for a haircut. This looks says: “I woke up late for class and threw my hair up as I ran out the door.” If I was on the west coast and saw a man bun, I wouldn’t think twice about the look. Near any beach town, the man bun becomes a statement that says instead: “I wake up early to surf and don’t need hair in my face to catch a rad wave.”

If a guy wants to wear a man bun, he needs a strong, wide face with facial hair, says Monica Funk, a junior from Overland Park, Kan. She thinks the bun works on some guys and not on others.

Collectively, the challenge with buns seems to be having long enough hair. Christian Hardy, a sophomore from Derby, Kan., began growing out his hair 11 months ago. His hair now reaches the back of his collar but says he still struggles to put all his hair up. To compensate, he wears his hair half up, half down with gel on top and along the sides for a cleaner look, though occasionally he tosses on a hat to avoid dealing with the awkward length.

Brogan Moroney said he, too, went through many awkward stages and styles until reaching optimal length for a man bun. Moroney, like many, began with a buzz cut and let it grow from there.

“What you don’t know about man buns is you don’t just grow your hair, you have to cut it all the time,” he says. “So then I started getting a trim every couple months where basically they just cut the back so I wouldn’t get a mullet and then let the top grow and now it’s all even.”

It’s “been there, done that” for Mike Maicke, a junior from Chicago who regularly wears a compact man bun with minimal stragglers. Maicke said he didn’t know how to tie his hair when he began growing it out.

Mike Maicke, a junior from Chicago, sports his man bun on campus with a flannel and jeans.

Mike Maicke, a junior from Chicago, sports his man bun on campus with a flannel and jeans.

“It kind of took me awhile to get the routine down to do it myself, which is pretty embarrassing,” he says. “It’s something you should know how to do. But yeah, my hair was at an ideal length so after some practice I was just putting in beautiful buns daily right out of the shower.” Before learning how to do it himself, girls at bars would put his hair into a bun, he said. After about a month of practice, Maicke said he became used to putting it up and it now takes about 10 seconds to do.

Photos by Cassidy Ritter

                                                      Variations on the #manbun
Typical:
This look is a combination of ‘70s hippie meets today’s hipster. It’s an unwashed, just rolled out of bed look generally accompanied by a beard and mustache. A typical man bun pairs nicely with a flannel and leather boots or jeans and a graphic, faded t-shirt.  
Slick: 
This is for the professionals—think red carpet Jared Leto at the 2014 Golden Globes. A slick man bun requires gel along the top, sides, and sometimes bottom of the bun to contain stragglers. Unlike the typical man bun, this style calls for a suit or nice button down shirt with sleek dress shoes.
Shaved: 
This hairstyle may be hard to find around Lawrence, but it’s still part of the man bun family. This look is the reverse mullet—it’s all about party in the front (or top if you will) and seriousness in the back. Take a one or two length buzz cut along the sides and back leaving long hair up top. To style, use gel to slick the top in hair in place and create a clean cut bun with no stragglers.
Braided
This seems to be a popular look, but provides more of a challenge for men. Brogan Moroney once wore the braided man bun for a KU football game but says it’s not something he could do regularly even though he received compliments galore. Mike Maicke says, “I love the progressiveness in our society with the male hair so I guess I’m a big supporter of that. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to perfect the braid that might be a little bit out of my skill level. But if you have the right hair and the right slight of hand and can do it on your own then that’s something you should go for.” If you see this look, congratulate the guy rocking it because he put in extra effort this morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campus Q&A

By Chiaki Tomimatsu

You might recall when Style on the Hill introduced a trendy new hairstyle called the man-braid a few weeks ago. Does that mean the man bun is a thing of the past? The answer is no. Here’s James and Shane, two KU students, to share their experiences with the man-bun.

Shane  james

Why did you choose to have a man bun?

James: “Do you know Jon Bellion? Because of him. Also, it makes me feel pretty.”

Shane: “I chose to have a man bun because I enjoy many aspects of having long hair. Buns are a good way to style long hair and very convenient in most situations. Also girls really dig man buns!”

How long have you been growing your hair?

James: “The top part, over a year.”

Shane: “I got a haircut about two and a half months ago to switch to the undercut man bun I have now. Before that I had a regular man bun for about half a year. It takes about a year for my hair to grow long enough to put it in a bun.”

When do you tie your hair in a bun?

James: “All the time except for when I go to bed.

Shane: “Right now I have it in a bun about 50 percent of the time and wear headwear the other 50 percent. When I had a full man bun I wore my hair down much more.”

Do you like having a man bun?

James: “I do, I like being referred to as the man bun guy.”

Shane: “I really enjoy having a man bun. It lets me express myself and isn’t as plain as other haircuts.”

Photos by Emma Creighton

Stull Cemetery: Gateway to Hell?

10.29.2015

Not far from Lawrence lies the sleepy little town of Stull. It’s here that a small, seemingly inconsequential cemetery sits on a quaint hill. A typical Kansas sight, if you will. But legend has it that Stull Cemetery is one of the seven gateways to Hell. Our staff photographers went to capture the creepy setting to get in the scary spirit just in time for Halloween.

stull emma2stull - emma 7 stull emma 5 stull emma 4 stull emma3

Photos by Emma Creighton

stull skyler stull skyler stull skyler stull skyler

Photos by Skyler Lucas.

Supposedly there is a sealed staircase descending into Hell located somewhere in Stull Cemetery. It’s said that the staircase can only be opened on Halloween and the spring equinox. But once you descend into Hell…you can never return!

It Never Goes Away: Sexting Outlets Lack Security

10.21.2015

image2

By Logan Schlossberg

Ashlee, a student at the University of Kansas, was sending a nude photo of her entire body via Snapchat to her boyfriend while he was out of town. She accidentally put the photo on her “Snapchat Story” which is a public photo and video collage that disappears in 24 hours. The photo was up for about 15 minutes until she realized her mistake and deleted it.

“I was mortified to say the least,” she says.

According to a study by the University of Rhode Island, almost all college students are sexting.

“I don’t think sending nude photos is a new phenomena but the technology we have today makes this ability easier and unfortunately some of the technology can give you a delusion of safety,” says Jonathan Peters, journalism professor at KU. “You just aren’t as safe as you think you are.”

When a nude photo is sent through Snapchat or even an iMessage/SMS text message, that photo is archived somewhere. According to Peters, with Snapchat it is saved on a server, and through text messages it is saved somewhere within your phone carrier. So when you think your photo disappears on Snapchat, it really does not.

image1

“I think it’s really common for a college kid to think their risqué picture is actually disappearing when they send it to someone on Snapchat,” says Theresa Murphy, a senior from Kansas City. “This is why I don’t send nude pictures. It seems too risky.”

Cell phones are not the only technological devices to worry about when it comes to nude pictures. Cyber security is not as secure as one might think. Now that we have things like iCloud and Dropbox, nude photos can be saved into hard drives on computers that people do not even know about.

“Say you took a nude video or photo on your MacBookPro and you want to delete it off of your computer,” Peters says. “That video still exists on your hard drive even when you drag it to ‘trash’ and then click ‘clear trash’. When you delete, the file itself doesn’t go away until you overwrite that same file up to 30 to 40 times with a different file.”

With safety issues in the technological aspect of sexting, experts find that, in terms of sexual health, there is no correlation between risky sexual behavior and sexting. It can, however, become a problem if your nude photos are leaked. This is where getting a job could become harder if potential employers see or find out about the photos.

Even issues with mental health can come into play.

Taking a photo for yourself or for your partner is done intentionally, with you setting the parameters for how that photo or photos are going to be used,” Jenny McKee, health educator at the University of Kansas, says.  “When those photos are in the wrong hands, it can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.  It can also cause a great deal of shame and self-blame.”

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Bottom line: college students probably aren’t going to stop sexting. If you choose to do so, consider the following:
-Do not put your face in the photo
-Omit added features on your body like tattoos or piercings
-Do not take the photo with a background that is recognizable
-Make sure you are sending the photo to the correct person

Photos by Abby Liudahl

Heard on the Hill

9.08.2015

Our SOTH spies are back, bringing you the funniest, weirdest, and always out of context quotes heard on campus and around Lawrence. If you’ve got a quip to add to our list, send us a note at styleonthehill@gmail.com.

HOTH 2

  • Person 1: “Ugh. Someone sent me an email in Comic Sans.”
    Person 2: “Why would someone do that?”
    Person 1: “Because they hate me.”
  • Girl 1: Do you get Starbucks every morning?
    Girl 2: Yeah?
    Girl 1: I commend you girl. If I did that I would be broke as a joke and fat as fuck!
  • “Jayhawk Boulevard… that’s the street with Target at the end right?”
  • “I’m feeling pretty good today. I don’t think I’ll do any drugs tonight!”
  • Girl: “I’m sorry, you were where?”
    Guy: “I said I went to a post-apocalyptic theatrical metal concert last night.”
  • Girl: “I watched The Purge a couple nights ago and now I’m convinced there is someone crawling outside my window at night, should I call the cops?”
  • Guy: “Yeah I’m totally voting for Kanye, but only because I want Kim Kardashian as our First Lady.”
  • Teacher: “Is the noise from outside the window too noisy for you guys or..?”
    Student: “It makes it sound spooky.”
  • Girl to a friend: “Dude, I totally knew you would be on this bus. You wouldn’t want to walk the extra stretch to Ellsworth from the 43 red stop.”
  • “Have you been to The Cave?! It was the SICKEST place I’ve ever partied at…”

 

Vaping: Healthy or Habit-forming?

4.30.2015

By Ashleigh Lee

IMG_2288

I am at the Granada and I can barely see anything through the foggy air. A few lights at the bar illuminate the smoke clouds that begin to rise. A group of under-aged kids stand next to me, the “X’s” drawn deeply on the back of their hands with a black marker. Another cloud of smoke surrounds us but it’s not smoke; it’s vapor from an e-cigarette.

My introduction to the vaping community comes from my brother. He won’t tell me if he smokes cigarettes, but he openly vapes around our family and me. He will do it in the car or while walking on the street. I began to wonder if he did it to quit smoking or if he wanted to do it because it was the popular thing to do. This sparked my curiosity about the culture that surrounds vaping and e-cigarette culture. Last summer I took a research assistant position with Dr. Yvonnes Chen of the journalism school monitoring the tobacco marketing on American Indian Reservations. As our research continued we decided to branch out and study e-cigarette use.

According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 42.1 million adults are smoking cigarettes in the United States. That’s nearly 19 of 100 adults 18-24 year olds. But since the FDA does not regulate e-cigarettes, there is little information about who is using them, why they are using them and their long-term health effects.

States have been taking a stance on regulations such as what age you have to be to buy e-cigs and where they can be used. For example, Kansas only allows adults 18 and older to purchase the device and there is no statewide ban; but restaurants, bars and gambling facilities are exempted from any regulation.

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats up coils, then the liquid “juice” and is converted into a vapor form. They are relatively cheap; starter kits can range anywhere from $20 to $50, and liquid “juice” runs anywhere from $1 to $10 depending where you buy from. E-cig liquid is the most appealing part of the experience. There are flavors ranging from mint to give the illusion that you are smoking a menthol cigarette, to fruity flavors like strawberry and grape, to regular tobacco flavors and there are even flavors to taste like your favorite beverage like a piña colada or coffee. But the flavors and cheap prices are also appealing to the younger demographics.

Dr. Chen outlines three concerns that public health officials are facing with youth and e-cigs. “Adolescences’ brains are very sensitive to nicotine and since there are hundreds of flavors available that could easily make youth addicted to them.”

Chen also said the second concern comes from a recent study in Wales, children 10-11 years old who had used e-cigs expressed that they would want to try traditional cigarettes. The last concern is that once they try cigarettes, they will become addicted to them.

“In terms of research we know very little about e-cigs,” Chen says. “But we don’t know how children and adolescence are perceiving cigarettes. We know adults’ perceptions, but not youths yet.”

A literature review published in 2013 about electronic cigarettes and college students says that it might be because of the novelty of the product. “Sensation seeking is a personality trait resulting in the need for simulation, novel experiences and risk taking,” it says. Many times e-cigarettes come off as novelty with limited-edition flavors and packaging that entice users to want to buy the product since it might not be around much longer.

What we know about e-cigarettes is that they have helped people quit smoking. Many times former smokers find the need to keep their mouths and occupied stemming of the habit of smoking cigarettes. E-cigs help fill that void and are perceived as a better alternative. But e-cigs have not officially been recognized as a quitting device.

The new social experiment

To understand more about e-cigarettes for myself I went to The Vapors Edge E-Cig Shop at 1901 Mass St. The store is a local family owned and operated business by Robby Swonger. When I walked inside I saw two young girls and a guy hanging out in the store. One was working and the other two vaping and hanging out – none of them looking older than 18.

Swonger, a former nurse practitioner, smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for most of his life. He turned to e-cigs as a way to quit smoking and has never looked back. “I thought that if it worked for me, it could work for others,” he says.

But he does not encourage people to use it as an alternative to traditional cigarettes to nonsmokers since nicotine is still an addictive substance. He says that if a customer does not have a history with cigarettes, he will not sell them e-cigs.

“I do not encourage anyone who does not have a history of smoking to vape,” he says. “Why would you want to add that to your lungs?”

He says that main age range his store sees is 34-to-50 year olds who have quit smoking. Even though there are no studies supporting e-cigs as an official cigarette-quitting device, he does say that it has helped many, including himself, quit smoking. While the store may see a range of customers from 20 to 90, he says that he will not sell any products to anyone under 18. He doesn’t want to encourage anyone who is not smoking already to take up vaping.

Zack Lickteig, a sales associate at the store, says that he began smoking around the time he was 13, dipping by the time he was 15 and now at 19 has been tobacco free since he started vaping about a year ago.

He believes in the social influence that vaping has created. “It’s a very social thing, it’s like the hookah culture,” Lickteig says. “The vaping community has been rising and rising so much. There are vape clubs, conventions, lounges and it has been helping people quit.”

But he also believes that the price and the variety of flavors are also causing popularity amongst the younger consumers. Currently, the FDA has banned the use of flavors as marketing tools in many cities and counties across the Untied States since it might attract younger audiences and entices them to use the product.

Kyndra Willis hangs out in the store with Lickteig and another friend. At 18, Willis also says that she uses vaping to help her quit smoking. She started smoking cigarettes when she was 14 and vaping two years ago. She believes that people start vaping because of acceptance. “I think mostly for people around our age it’s mostly for popularity,” she says. “For most people it is, but for people like me, it’s to help stay calm and not smoke cigarettes.”

Willis says that when she gets stressed she will turn to vaping. It’s an easy way for her to just sit back, relax and have a few minutes to herself with her e-cig. She does not believe in the vaping for approval.

And neither does Swonger. He does not like the idea that people would use the product for popularity. “I would hate to see e-cigs labeled as a popularity thing,” he says. “If it turns out that way, that’s how we’re going to get the FDA involved.”

Vaping anywhere

All though vaping is allowed in restaurants, gambling facilities and bars, both Swonger and Lickteig believe that there is a level of respect that comes with it. Since the e-cig does not get hot enough to combust, the vapor has not shown any evidence of carcinogen being produced, making it as far as we know to be safe to breathe second hand.

But even though you can vape while enjoying a meal or a cocktail, that does not mean it is socially acceptable to pull out an e-cig and start vaping while you have a drink or eat your dinner. There is still the stigma that comes with smoking in public places. People have the image of cigarettes creating of clouds of smoke, filling the air with the thick smell that clings to your clothes and hair, believing it to also apply to e-cigs. But since e-cigs do not produce smoke, and the vapor flavors may create a subtle scent, it does not produce a smoke cloud or a foul smell.

Swonger says that vapers should be reverent when vaping in public spaces. “It’s not a cigarette and it does not have any smoke or carcinogens,” he says. “But I don’t vape in restaurants or on planes. It’s just a respect thing and we all need to respect each other.

The future of e-cigarettes

Swonger says that he says does not want vaping to be taken as a fad and it still be taken seriously and should only be used by people who have a history smoking.

Swonger says that if it does become a certified nicotine replacement device it would become a pharmaceutical tool then, which is what the vaping industry is trying to avoid because the FDA would then become involved.

Currently, the FDA does not regulate cigars, pipe tobacco, gels and wastepipe tobacco, but that might all soon change. The FDA has talked about extending the deeming period, which started April 2014, to get more time to understand the product.

Chen also says that more research needs to be done in order to determine how harmful e-cigarettes actually are. She says that if people are able to see how the youth perceive the culture of these products, it could help us understand how it could effect nicotine addiction in adolescents.

For right now all anyone can do is wait to see if further research can determine whether or not e-cigs are just as harmful as cigarettes or if they could actually be good nicotine replacement tools.

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Dark Ages: Dealing with Depression as a Millennial

3.29.2015

By Austin Fisher

On a cold January night during my sophomore year at the University of Kansas, I’m lying awake in the pitch black of my bedroom at my father’s house in Lawrence. I should be asleep but I can’t stop worrying about school, money and family issues. After hours of thinking about how hopeless life seems, my legs tangled in my sheets and my mind as active as the moment I had lain down, a thought passes through me.

“Do I have enough money in my bank account to buy a gun?”

I was disturbed by the thought because I didn’t need to articulate those that would follow. I immediately knew what I was doing; I was considering suicide. Feeling trapped alone in the darkness, I woke up my dad, told him what was happening, and we agreed that I needed to seek help.

For a year and a half leading up to that night, I had been feeling what I now understand to be symptoms of depression. I am one of over 30 percent of college students who have felt so depressed in the last year that it was difficult to function. I can tell you this story because depression no longer has a stigma attached to it, which was an obstacle to me in seeking help.

Feeling sad or alone and need help? There are many resources available to you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
1-800-273-8255
suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Headquarters Douglas County Crisis Line:
785-841-2345
headquarterscounselingcenter.org

KU Counseling and Psychological Services (for students):
785-864-2277
caps.ku.edu

“It’s no more anybody’s fault that they have depression than if they had diabetes or other physiological issues,” says Sara Barnes, who has been practicing family counseling for 17 years. “I think that there’s been a big change in the last 10 years.” She says people—especially younger generations—are more open to talk about depression. Studies show that while most college students try deal with stress themselves, 90 percent don’t see anything wrong with seeking help. Most delay seeking clinical treatment because they feel the stress they’re experiencing is normal, they feel they could handle it on their own or with help from friends and family.

However, sometimes depression itself can prevent one from sharing their feelings. “I consider my academics to be a really big part of my identity,” says Calvert Pfannenstiel, who was diagnosed with dysthymia, a mild but chronic form of depression, along with seasonal affective disorder in June. In 2012, returning to the U.S. from a liberating summer internship in Switzerland, Pfannenstiel’s grades were floundering as he had difficulty readjusting to normal life and “the disheartening dynamics of my family,” referring to his parents’ divorce. That winter he became more reclusive, stopped going to class, slept too much and was hiding it all from professors, friends and family because he felt embarrassed about not succeeding in school. Depressive feelings that were present before the internship became amplified by a return to reality. After he opened up to his girlfriend Kayla DuBois and others close to him, he briefly entered the KU Counseling and Psychological Services program before switching to a private therapist, from whom he learned about lifestyle changes like exercise, disciplined sleep and exposure to sunlight. He also started taking 150 mg of bupropion and krill oil supplements, which contain fatty acids that help regulate his mood and prevent him from slipping into a depressive mind set.

“The difference is surprisingly noticeable when I don’t take it for a day,” he says.

Pfannenstiel admits that at one point DuBois was his sole source of happiness and pride. They have helped each other through rough patches since they met two years ago. “Calvert is one of the only people that’s never made me feel like I’m broken,” she says. Since childhood DuBois has felt depressive symptoms, but she assumed her problems weren’t worth bringing up. Her family didn’t validate her feelings and told her not to share her depression. She started seeing a therapist in November 2012, but stopped after ten months. Talk therapy isn’t for her. “Sometimes they’ll grab something that you say and go off on this tangent that wasn’t what you were getting at.” In January she moved to Austin, Texas, where her brother Ryan gave her a room of her own and got her into yoga and group anxiety therapy where she learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Caring for her infant nephew, Archer, was deeply therapeutic. “I would look at him and he had all this faith in me that I didn’t have in myself.”

There are many types of depression, and they can increase a person’s risk of having other disorders. “A physician could look at someone recently diagnosed with diabetes and say it was caused by their earlier depression, but it could also be that both were caused by something in the background,” says Dr. William Eaton, a professor of mental health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Background causes of co-occurring disorders could include genes or childhood trauma. Eaton says the risk for depressive disorder peaks between 25 and 30 years of age for women, and 30 to 35 years for men. “Anxiety and depressive disorders are very much comorbid,” he says, meaning they tend to occur together. Pfannenstiel still experiences dysthymia and seasonal affective disorder, DuBois also suffers from fibromyalgia and panic attacks, while I have major depressive disorder and social anxiety disorder. Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is typically a period of intense sadness and lack of motivation that lasts at least two weeks. Either way, talk or group therapy can help. Drugs can too, like with Pfannenstiel, but I chose to avoid them.

My introverted personality led me to stigmatize my own mental illness. Like DuBois, in the depths of my depression, I felt like my internal problems didn’t deserve to be expressed to the outside world, and sharing them would just burden others. This contributed to a mental isolation. I would be sitting next to an old friend but feel a nonexistent tension, like the space between us was filled with heat and static. At parties I would sit alone or never join conversations. But my friends and family were supportive when I started opening up. Many were surprised to hear that I was depressed; they told me I hadn’t shown any signs. I still struggle with why I stayed silent for so long. In 2007 only a quarter of adults with symptoms of mental illness believed that people were supportive while over half of all adults believed that people were supportive. Perhaps the stigma felt worse to me than it actually was.

Unable to tell anyone but my dad about my feelings, I went to the KU Psychological Clinic and started seeing a therapist, Katie. Initially I reported feelings of depression, loneliness, and infrequent, passive thoughts of suicide. Through therapy I would begin to understand why I was feeling this way.

SorryISpilledYourCoffee

Kayla DuBois made the above piece of art, called “Sorry I Spilled Your Coffee,” during her junior year of high school in 2009. There are about 200 different paintings underneath what you can see on the surface. While the original intent of the piece was different, DuBois says the process of making it was therapeutic for working through the events of an abusive relationship. The piece won a silver medal at the National Scholastic Arts Competition.

Part of the problem was I was still reflecting on the end of a three-month long relationship, over a year later. Ruminating on that and subsequent rejections led me to question my self-worth. Paradoxically I was both afraid of being close to someone again and of being alone forever. I wanted to forget the relationship, but I couldn’t move on. I also felt guilty for being so far away from my mother in Boston, who was unhappy with her job and begging me to come help her. I started questioning my worth as a son. By talking with Katie once a week, I would learn that I was obsessed with the past, unable to deal with the present, and unconcerned about the future. She found that I had increased emotional sensitivity, self-doubt, feelings of worthlessness, indecisiveness and a tendency to lose pleasure in things I once enjoyed. I had a general feeling of emptiness and lack of purpose. My grades had fallen, and I was questioning the entire prospect of being a writer. Before that hopeless night in my bedroom, my family dynamics, grades and sex life made me hate myself.

My therapy focused on changing my thoughts, attitudes and habits. I learned to recognize feelings of sadness or anger and to question these feelings, which forced me to consider how much control I have over them. Now I can recognize when I’m thinking in a depressive pattern, and try to get myself out of it. Getting enough sleep and exercising are now central to my well-being. Studies show that physical exercise does have an antidepressant effect for people suffering from mild to moderate depression. At Katie’s suggestion, I started running once a week, which became four times a week. This new habit, along with my own experiments with mindfulness meditation, made me healthier and improved my self-esteem.

For others, formal therapy just doesn’t work. Elliot Yochim has had clinical depression and bipolar disorder since the summer before he started college in 2011, when he also experienced a breakup. After having an emotional breakdown last year and losing interest in school, Elliot entered therapy for about a half a year until he felt like he wasn’t getting anything out of it anymore. “It was like talking to a wall. I didn’t get anything back except my own voice,” he says. For two months he was on antidepressants but they didn’t really help. Instead, he runs, writes, plays music and applies himself to his new major in theater design. “Having your life consumed by something you love is way better than just doing it on the weekends and between bathroom breaks.”

For anyone considering suicide, the causes are numerous and complicated. Unfortunately, people assume those considering suicide have reached that point because of character flaws. “The stigma about suicide is that this person is deeply troubled individually, and we often accredit all of that to their individual character rather than considering what’s going on around them,” says Jared Auten, a volunteer counselor for Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence. Auten works on a crisis line for Headquarters, where people can call if they feel depressed or are considering suicide. He gives callers a safe space to talk through problems and have their feelings validated and not judged. He joined Headquarters in the spring of 2013 both for the counseling experience and as a form of therapy and personal understanding. He lost his dad to suicide in 2006. He says he did experience grief, but not depression.

Like anyone else I have good days and bad, but now I know how to deal with the bad and appreciate the good. I no longer blame myself for everything that I don’t like about my life, and I see that people will support me. Overcoming depression is different for everyone, but the first step is the same: telling someone how you feel.

 

Edited by Erika Reals

Focusing On Nothing: First Steps To Meditation

12.11.2014

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By Austin Fisher

Sitting in the Kansas Zen Center in Lawrence, I try not to fidget. Six others have joined me in the dharma hall of the Center to meditate. We begin with vows and chants. No one speaks. Chalres Vitale, the abbot of the Center and leader of today’s practice, signals us to start and stop meditating by striking his hand with a wooden rod. The point of this focused-attention method is to let thoughts come and go. I count my breaths from one to 10 repeatedly and focus on the air entering and exiting my lungs and my body on the cushion. We sit in meditation for 25 minutes. We get up and walk single file around the zafus, black meditation cushions, arrayed in a square on the hardwood floor for 10 minutes. We sit again for another, much harder, 25 minutes.

This was my first try at group meditation. I had started on my own earlier that week, guided by a meditation app called Headspace. I don’t consider myself religious but I see value in traditional forms of self-contemplation, and I feel calm and a sense of relief every time I meditate. I’ve also been sleeping better since I started. The three types of meditation—focused-attention, mindfulness, and compassion—require no workout equipment or clothing. Meditation requires practice, but it can have enormous benefits. Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and many others suggest that meditation can help with depression, chronic pain, and general well-being. Compared to novice meditators, the brains of those with many hours of practice go through physical changes in parts of the brain associated with attention, pain, anxiety, compassion, and positive emotion through a process called neuroplasticity. But you can start to feel the effects in four to six weeks.

As I sit, thoughts of school, food, life, and how I’m going to write this come and go. Squirrels crawl on the roof above; leaves fall from the tree outside. A motorcycle tears through the neighborhood, its disruptive roar eventually fading away. Meditation practice is about examining thoughts and feelings without judgment.

“When you’re sitting in traffic, standing in line, or you’re late for class, you can either be aggravated, or you can use the time to tune in to your body,” says Sara Brenner, a psychiatric social worker from Massachusetts and former Harvard lecturer who meditates daily.

Meditation gives her the emotional space needed to respond more thoughtfully to events in her life. I got interested in meditation as a way of relieving stress from college.

“It can be amazingly helpful to have this mental place inside of yourself where you know you can drop into anytime and get some relief from the stress that you’re feeling from the outside world,” says Meghan Searl, a neuropsychologist at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts who is interested in how mindfulness and meditation can improve health, cognition, and even relationships. “You can pay attention better, and it can make you a better listener. It can make you more attentive to what’s happening with another person.”

Anyone can start meditation, but like my Zen experience it can be difficult at first.

“In the beginning, people can hardly hold themselves to keeping their eyes closed for five minutes because there are lots of thoughts coming into the mind,” says Krishna Ghimire, who is currently studying for a master’s in civil engineering at KU.

Ghimire is president of the KU branch of the Art of Living Foundation, a humanitarian organization associated with the United Nations. He has been meditating daily for three and a half years, and at this point he feels time move faster when he meditates. After doing some yoga postures in the morning he sits for 20 minutes, and again in the evening after class. He says meditation is a better way to get energized than napping because it doesn’t affect his sleep schedule.

The form of sitting meditation Ghimire practices has three main points. The first is to want nothing. The mind is constantly bombarded by desires, and seeks things from the outside world. You must fool your mind into giving them up. The second is more simple: Feel free to do nothing while you sit. The third is harder: You must be nothing; you have to give up your individual identity.

“You’re neither a student, nor a brother, sister, boyfriend. Just drop your identity. Letting go is the main principle,” he says.

While meditating, Ghimire experiences a state of mind that he can’t express through words. Sincere commitment and a gradual increase in practice time can make one habituated to dealing with busy, stressful situations. He recommends sitting in the same place at the same time each day, regularly. When he skips a day he just doesn’t feel right, like someone having nicotine withdrawal. You can’t fall into the trap of thinking you don’t have time to meditate; the best times for it are the busiest moments of your life.

“To make yourself capable of doing many things in a short period of time, you need meditation,” Ghimire said. “That’s why it’s there.”

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Photo by Austin Fisher

Lawrence Public Library: Modern Place and Campus Escape

11.22.2014

By Audrey Danser

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With the semester in full swing, the crowds have settled upon the campus libraries and you’ve started to realize the drab decor, musty odor of the resource books and desolate WWII bunker feel of the Watson stacks. Don’t get me wrong, I have a fondness for KU libraries, but I sometimes need a break from my study space.

For students not willing to sacrifice five bucks for a latte in order to “pay rent” at a coffee shop, and I sure don’t blame you, the newly renovated Lawrence Public Library (LPL) is the perfect off-campus study spot. With the modern but equally inviting atmosphere, a good study playlist, and a cup of joe, one can easily get what they need to get shit done.

“Sometimes you just need to get away from campus to get focused, and the public library is a great space to do that,” LPL Marketing Coordinator and recent KU grad Jeni Daley said in an email interview. “We have plenty of space for you to spread out and a good mix of conversation and quiet spaces that offer the best ambiance.”

LPL, which reopened July 26 after a several-month renovation, has all the modern amenities for technology, research and even artistic expression. A 20,000 square foot expansion around the core of the existing building adds an open floor space to accommodate additional shelving, a children’s space, and lounge areas for study or recreational reading. Students have access to any of the reservable study rooms, computers and wifi, and knowledgeable staff. Most importantly, for those who need a caffeine fix, there’s a coffee bar available from the Sconelady to satisfy all cravings.

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The downtown presence of the library, located at 7th and Vermont, now reflects the up-to-date resources the institute offers. The building, designed by Mass Street architecture firm Gould Evans, is a modern standout in comparison to the quaint feel of downtown.

Straying from the typical brick façade of the surrounding area, terra cotta panels wrap the library into a uniting shell. The continuous envelope of the structure creates a unique space with no “back façade” – the library faces the community from every direction, best viewed from the floor-to-ceiling windowed corners. Gould Evans paid special attention to these windows in its design, noting that it allows the public to peer into the building and engage with it prior to entering.

Despite the modern aesthetic of the building and the connotation that typically comes with “modern,” the library’s interior is cozy. The most prominent feature of the design, the different means of natural lighting, softly illuminates the interior space and brings warmth to the atmosphere. The open floor plan adds to the airy feel and allows one to flow easily in and out of the bookshelves searching for research materials or simply a new read. The light wood material, simplistic furniture and striking black typography add a final, clean touch.

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Apart from the new look, the renovation emphasizes that the library is no longer an ancient institution, rather a community gathering space that can accommodate all ages.

“You can now come to the library to not only discover your next favorite book, but to record an album [free of charge in the sound+vision studio], find out how to fix your car or your career, grab a latte and a spicy romance, or just sit in the sunny corners and contemplate life,” Daley explained.

These many roles of the library, both current and evolving, were all considered during the design process of the addition.

“Although there are many uncertainties about how the library will interact with changes in how books are consumed, there are many roles that the library will always maintain,” said a representative of the architecture firm in an email interview.

One of the most important and timeless roles of the library is the sense of community, which is now accurately complemented by the space.

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As you study in this new atmosphere, you will notice this sense of belonging. Children snuggle into picture books with their parents on the oversized reading staircase, your typical Lawrence grandfather rests into a comfortable chair reading the Journal World, and as you glance down the shelves of fiction novels, two trendy tweens gawk over the latest issue Vogue. LPL creates an atmosphere where it is easy to feel part of Lawrence community, not just campus.

 

Photos by Marlee Schuld

Edited by Hannah Swank

A Beginner’s Guide To Bubble Soccer

10.05.2014

By Kristen Polizzi

Mike Marcus, a University of Kansas senior in the religious studies department, spits strategy from the sidelines of a makeshift soccer field in Watson Park.

“I don’t know why I’m yelling,” he says. “They can’t hear anything inside those things.”

Marcus motions vaguely toward his teammates, a cloudy cluster of 20-somethings whose earlier athleticism gave way to waddling and falling sometime after they suited up. This is what I came to see: a budding sport and a gawker’s delight. I’m talking, of course, about Lawrence’s premier bubble soccer league, which has drawn spectators and slowed Sunday traffic at the corner of Sixth and Tennessee for the past three weeks.

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The guide

For the ill-informed, bubble soccer is, in the most transparent terms, traditional soccer with a twist. Teams of six battle for the ball in 20-minute halves. They shoot. They score. But one glaring peculiarity tips the scales from sport to spectacle. And that is the bubble.

Players bumble about with all but their legs tucked inside giant, inflated, crystal-colored orbs, which act as buffers for bumps and bruises and, at the same time, effectively level the playing field for novice and experienced athletes. This is about fun, not finesse, and most certainly not about fancy footwork. In fact, players are probably better off knowing less about soccer and more about basic physics. Because when bubble-to-bubble contact sends opponents flying with the force and directedness of a human pinball machine, you may realize that ‘sizing up the competition’ carries some serious weight.

A brief history

Where was bubble soccer born? Most likely on a Norwegian small screen, where the television series ‘Golden Goal’ publicized the sport (boblefotball) in 2011. Three years later, ‘The Tonight Show’ host Jimmy Fallon brought it stateside and inspired the inaugural U.S. league in Chicago. And now, after touring countless fields and facilities in cities across the country, the fledgling sport has finally landed in Lawrence.

One thing is certain: We’re all beginners here.

About the bubble  

I should probably address the $400, 15-pound bubble in the room. How much protection does that beach ball behemoth really provide? Turns out, quite a bit. The consensus among players is that the bubble—although hot, heavy and nearly soundproof—handles high-speed collisions like champ.

“You’re living your parents’ dream,” Marcus said. “It’s a contact sport, but their kid is completely protected in this little bubble.”

Go to play

While this season is over, you may still have a (sporting) chance. Kyle Meyers, co-owner of Silverback Enterprises, the Lawrence-based event production company that hosts the local bubble soccer league, said another season is in the works.

“We’re still getting registration forms sent in and calls from people wanting to play,” Meyers said. “So we will probably start signups for another league right after this one.”

If the registration rules remain the same, leagues will be filled on a first come first serve basis. The price to play—$40 per person and $240 per team—includes custom designed uniforms. Watch for updates on Silverback’s website and the Lawrence Bubble Soccer Facebook page

Still need convincing? Check out what local bubble soccer players had to say. Then start toying with team names.

 

Meet the players and the ref who hosts their game

Jacob CloudJacob Cloud

From: Lawrence

Off the field: Pastor at New Church Lawrence on campus

Team: Ball Busters With a Sporting Chance

Rival: The Winners. We beat them twice.

Position: Forward…and linebacker

Experience: I’ve played [regular] soccer since I was four.

And that helps? Not at all.

Motivation: Pure fun…a little bit of wanting to slam into people. It’s half and half.

Performance (in three words or less): Slightly beyond shabby

Game winning strategy: Our team has a motto. Two words: no mercy. But we always say ‘two words’ first. So, really it’s four words.

GOAL!s: Go pro.

 

Brittany Besler

 

Brittany Besler

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Off the field: Rocks the desk at Entercom (a radio broadcasting company in KC)

Team: The Marauders

Rival: [Calls to team captain] WHO’S OUR RIVAL? Ball Busters With a Sporting Chance.

Position: Wherever they need me.

Experience: About three years of [regular] soccer

And that helps? No. I couldn’t see my feet.

Motivation: I’ve got friends on the team, and it sounded like fun.

Game winning strategy: Attack.

GOAL!s: To score some.

 

Freese

 

Kyle Freese

From: Lawrence

Off the field: KU sophomore studying economics

Team: Echoes of Distant Thunder

Rival: Whoever we’re playing next.

Position: Midfield or forward

Experience: I’ve played [regular] soccer since I was 5.

And that helps? I think so. It’s easier to move the ball.

Motivation: Some friends recruited me.

Performance (in three words or less): Make them bleed.

Game winning strategy: Hit hard and get up fast.

GOAL!s: Oh, I hope to be making six figures by next year.

 

Meyers

 

Kyle Meyers

From: St. Paul, Minn.

Off the field: Co-owner of Silverback Enterprises

What are the most important rules in bubble soccer? It’s a balance of fun and safety. Sometimes there’s a false sense of security that comes from being in the bubble.

Good players never take themselves too seriously.

Previous referee experience: Absolutely none.

Most controversial call this season: Last weekend there was a tie, so we decided to do a jousting face off.

Why does bubble soccer belong in Lawrence? It’s weird. It’s out there. But it’s also family friendly.

 

Photos by Kristen Polizzi

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

 

 

Netflix: A Binge-Watching Revolution

6.05.2014

By Erin Orrick

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Nine out of the 10 people I talked with as I stood outside Wescoe Beach admitted to it. Four of those 10 people did so sheepishly while the other five practically bragged about it.

I was skeptical of Jeff, a University of Kansas sophomore and the lone individual who didn’t cop to feverishly binge-watching a television show on at least one occasion. And I continued to hold on to my skepticism even when he told me it was because he didn’t own a TV.

Like the others, I asked him if he watches Netflix. “Well, yeah. Who doesn’t?” he said.

I joked that he was a rare breed, someone who watches Netflix, but has yet to binge-watch anything. “I’m sure it’ll happen someday,” he said. “It just hasn’t yet.”

Jeff is an unusual specimen, indeed. According to a 2013 survey conducted by Harris Interactive, a world-leading market research firm, 62 percent of nearly 2,500 online TV streamers interviewed binge-watch on a regular basis.

The word “binge-watch” isn’t new. According to oxforddictionaries.com, the term has been around in circles of television fans since the 1990s, but did not become mainstream until 2013. Coincidentally, this was the same year both of Netflix’s original series, “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” debuted.

The same Harris Interactive survey also revealed that 73 percent of those viewers polled defined binge-watching as consuming two to six episodes of a television show in one sitting, or roughly two to six hours of straight viewing.

This begs the question: Why do we spend countless unproductive hours on a couch staring intently at a TV show?

“I think what makes it so appealing is that people love to set their own timetables,” said Mandy Treccia, a writer for TV Source magazine and Examiner.com. “Everyone is busy, so instead of making sure that you’re on the couch in front of the TV at an exact time, you can just boot up your computer and pick a time and show that fits your schedule. I think people love having that extra sense of control.”

In response to Harris Interactive’s survey, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, said Netflix’s viewing data reveals that the majority of viewers prefer to have a whole season of a show available to watch at their own pace, a concept that Netflix has pioneered. Differing from Hulu or Amazon Prime, who also stream original series, Netflix’s own original programming is created for multi-episodic viewing, providing content with new norms of viewer control for the first time.

Whether it’s control or an intense lack of patience, Netflix’s new model of releasing episodes of original programming like, “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” all on one day has turned binge-watching into a national fad. It’s not necessarily an attractive one on some occasions, but a fad nonetheless.

“Oh, it gets ugly really quickly,” said Whitney, a KU junior, who was too embarrassed to reveal her last name. “I’m usually in a sweatshirt, yoga pants and my hair is a mess. It’s also really hard to binge-watch without consuming large amounts of food. I mean, you’re sitting in front of your TV, engaged, and at some point between hours four and five of non-stop watching, you don’t realize you’ve plowed through two bags of chips and a two-liter of pop already. It’s so addicting.”

Though Netflix’s model appeals to many of its nearly 34 million U.S. subscribers, the all-in-one release format has a few notable downsides.

For the binge-watcher extraordinaire, a typical network or cable 13-episode season lasts three and a half months. Netflix allows such a fan to cram 13 episodes all into one day, two at the most. Speaking from personal experience, this makes the next new season seem like an eternity away.

As a not-so-quick consumer, and in an age of rapid technology, you have to be wary of spoilers and essentially disconnect yourself from the Internet while you watch.

“I don’t think anyone has gotten it quite right yet,” Treccia said. “Netflix releasing 13 episodes of ‘House of Cards’ in one sitting is great, but either you sit and watch them right away or you try to avoid the Internet to make sure that you don’t get spoiled. The network models of 22 episodes are nice because you get more episodes than Netflix or cable, but because they stretch seasons from fall to spring, there are always a lot of breaks.”

Whichever model proves to cater to your personal preference, Netflix has re-invented the way TV shows are watched.

“I love Netflix,” Nate, a KU senior, said. “I love being able to decide what I watch, when I watch it and how much of it I watch. I binge-watch way more than I probably should, and I’m pretty sure it has adversely affected my grades at some point. Some shows just pull you in, and you can’t stop. It’s an addiction.”

I thanked Nate for his comments. He smiled, turned to walk away and then stopped. He looked over his shoulder and jokingly called back at me, “Do they have rehab for Netflix addicts?”

 

Edited by Hannah Swank

Getting Canned or Popping Bottles: Beer is More Popular in Cans

5.08.2014

By Duncan McHenry

Canned Beer

As he settled into a wrinkled leather couch, KU graduate Kyle Gardner cracked the tab of a Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat. The dark, milky-sweet stout beer from Tallgrass Brewing Co. in Manhattan is Gardner’s favorite brew — and it only comes in a can.

“I actually like both [canned and bottled beer], but I can tell cans are definitely becoming more prevalent,” Gardner said. “Tallgrass beers actually only come in cans, and I’ve seen New Belgium and beers like that in a can, so I’m sure it will keep growing.”

For Gardner, canned beer is a gameday tradition no matter the season. When he’s in the mood for something less-than-top-shelf he’ll buy a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys to share with friends during basketball games. And during football season, he tailgates with canned beers to avoid broken glass.

“You’re not hauling around a load of bottles. I’d much rather crumple up a can,” he says.

Gardner is not alone in his preference for drinking the planetary favorite liquid from a can. According to a 2012 Brewer’s Almanac Report, cans held 53.2 percent of the beer market share, and bottles held just 36.5 percent.

The rising popularity of canned beer has paralleled the growth of the craft beer industry. Many popular microbreweries such as Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium are producing canned beer, and a few, like Tallgrass, are getting rid of bottles completely.

Many glass fans object to a metallic taste when they drink canned beer, which Cork & Barrel General Manager Brendan Dowdle says is all in their heads.

“Generally, I don’t get that metal taste some people are tasting. Maybe they’re just tasting the outside of the can,” he said.

With beer being such a light-sensitive drink, cans are actually a more effective storage vessel than bottles. A recent New Jersey Business Journal article, “Getting Canned: Why Beer Tastes Better, Sells Better in Cans,” said cans are more airtight than bottles and offer full protection against UV light. This is crucial to flavor because hops — the flowers that give beer its bitterness — can spoil easily with too much light.

With just five Ripple Glass recycling locations in the Lawrence area, ease of disposal is another factor in Gardner’s — and likely the nation’s — affinity for aluminum. Right now, the jury is mostly out on whether glass or aluminum is more eco-friendly.

In a 2011 article from Oregon Public Broadcasting, proponents of cans argue that aluminum is lighter and has a naturally lower carbon footprint from a packaging standpoint, whereas glass supporters say mining silica to produce glass is much less energy-intensive than bauxite used to make aluminum. To leave the smallest carbon footprint possible, the article concludes, the best option is a mug of beer from a local bar tap.

After Gardner and his friends had drained his six-pack of Buffalo Sweat cans, they threw the crushed empties in a grocery sack. But at least there’d be no urgent need for a trip to the recycling center, he said.

“It’s easier to dispose of and transport cans, I hate the clanking of bottles when I throw them into the glass recycling. It’s very jarring — especially when you’re hungover.”

 

Edited by Hannah Swank

Photo by Duncan McHenry

The Reality of Employment Discrimination: “Say No to the Fro?” Writer Responds

4.30.2014

By Kathleen Smith

I am an African American woman and the writer of this story. The story was written to open eyes to the difficulties which are still present for African American women joining the corporate workforce. I hoped there would not be bias and discrimination in the workplace, but after much research found that it still exists by some employers. The story is not to influence African American women to change their style or cultural attributes. Every woman, of every color, should embrace their own individuality, style and uniqueness. This is the power of our femininity. We must represent.

My example of Lupita Nyong’o shows this power. She is currently gracing the cover of People Magazine as its Most Beautiful Person for 2014. She has a short fro and is very successful, but she is in the entertainment industry.  It is often more difficult for African American men and women with Afrocentric hair to find jobs. It depends on the occupation. This was showcased by the man who was denied employment by Sprint for an IT position. He was eventually hired after cutting his dreads.

Please take this article as food for thought as you enter the workforce yourself.  Encourage others to look past people’s outward appearance and features such as hair, piercings or tattoos. We should instead look at each applicant’s knowledge, experience and competency.

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