Archive

The Pendulum

By Sarah Beth Costello

These days, there are few artists and bands that can successfully produce albums of such quality and depth to merit outstanding reviews. Brendan James, an up-and-coming pop artist from Derry, N.H., is an exception. The singer/songwriter, pianist and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate possesses a style and skill that trumps the majority of current top-grossing artists.

James released his self-titled second album on Sept. 7 and despite nominal popularity, he reached No. 1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart. James remains in the top-15 albums on iTunes, among popular bands and artists including Justin Bieber, Kings of Leon and Sara Bareilles. James reached No. 92 in the Top 100 on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart and debuted his single, “The Fall,” on Sept. 25 during CBS Saturday’s Second Cup Café.

What separates James from the mass of pop singers and songwriters clamoring for attention in today’s very competitive music industry, is the genuine nature of his songs, his clear and identifiable tenor and the passion evoked in his music. James writes from experiences, life, good and bad times, and is seemingly unafraid of appearing vulnerable before an audience.

James has been described as a contemporary Billy Joel or James Taylor, an artist who appeals to the common individual because his music is so real and attainable. James is successful in digging past the superficial messages of many modern artists, and writing about the complexities of relationships (not sex), love (not lust) and patience (not instant gratification).

The 12 songs on the new album are equally deep. They range from happy and romantic (“Stupid for Your Love”), sad and serious (“Your Beating Heart”) to hopeful and sweet (“Anything for You,” and “The Fall”).

It is rare when an artist can produce a balanced, diverse and unique album, but James’ dedication to the production of his lyrics and music has resulted in a tight package. While most artists are hit with continual demand for new albums, James is more concerned with writing and singing songs that will be remembered beyond the next six months. James worked on his new album for more than a year, and says his manager and label pushed him to write more music before they agreed he was ready to begin recording.

The young pianist has generated a stream of followers through social networking and has gained media attention with each tour. James released his first album, “The Day is Brave,” in 2008 and has exceeded expectations with the release of his second album, which he says is self-titled because it is a reflection of his own life.

Advertisements

By Sarah Costello

College life is busy. After just a few days the chaos will hit you like a semi-truck. With the homework, the projects and the studying, making time for outside activities (and even slowing down for five minutes to eat breakfast) takes some maneuvering. In addition to the stress of normal college life, many students also struggle with another prevalent problem — weight gain.

It seems these days being a freshman is synonymous with the dreaded freshman 15. But don’t let this inaccurate myth put a blight on your first year as a college student. According to freshman15.com, the majority of freshman college students will not gain 15 pounds (so feel free to release collective breaths of anxiety). A recent study conducted by freshman15.com revealed the average college freshman will gain five pounds.

Weight gain may seem inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be. Freshman15.com highlights some sure ways to pack on the pounds, including little to no exercise, eating late at night, buying and keeping unhealthy snacks handy and making poor meal choices. A healthy diet and lifestyle is possible, even as a college student. The following six tips are designed to help you stay healthy and prevent the avoidable freshman 15.

1) Don’t skip meals

In college, meals must be adjusted to fit tight schedules. When in class all day, eating breakfast and finding time for lunch is sometimes impossible. Waking up five minutes earlier seems difficult, and grabbing chicken fingers at McEwen for lunch is much easier than packing a sandwich. There’s a reason people naturally eat three meals a day. According to youngwomenshealth.com, eating three balanced meals will provide you with energy throughout the day and helps maintain metabolism.

2) Eat a good breakfast

This tip goes hand-in-hand with number one. Eating three meals is important, but your day begins with breakfast, so make it count. According to healthed.uoregon.edu, skipping breakfast can affect performance in class. When pressed for time, grab a bagel, some granola or even a piece of fruit to ensure your stomach and grade will not suffer from improper nourishment.

3) Substitute good choices for poor ones

Dining hall and cafeteria food is tempting. When you pay for all you can eat, it’s natural to eat all you can. Sometimes turning down savory chicken and golden french fries is difficult, but if possible, try to substitute the empty caloric and greasy foods for healthier options. For instance, Chick-fil-A in Octagon Café offers both fried and grilled chicken sandwiches. You’ll save 130 calories by ordering grilled chicken and get about a serving of vegetables. Youngwomenshealth.org recommends eating whole grains instead of white rice and bread, and substituting fresh fruit for cookies and ice cream.

4) Drink water

When making better choices, do not forget the power of water. This necessary supplement is often replaced with coffee and sugary sodas, but staying hydrated is imperative to good health. Youngwomenshealth.org writes that water not only curbs thirst, but also revitalizes skin and organs. Drink often, even when you are not thirsty, to avoid dehydration.

5) Pack a lunch

Packing a lunch will ensure you eat at the appropriate time, and it puts you more in control of what you eat. When running from class to class, it may seem easier to grab a candy bar from the vending machine and eat a real meal later. By packing a lunch, you won’t skip a meal, and you’ll be able to prevent headaches and overeating at a later meal.

6) Embrace variety

From childhood, the food pyramid has been prominent in doctors’ offices and even grade school. Adhering to the pyramid diet can be nearly impossible in college, but it is possible to introduce balance and variety to your palette. Try to eat lean meats (grilled or baked chicken), carbohydrates high in fiber (potatoes and whole grains) and healthy fats found in nuts and oils.

By Sarah Beth Costello

February 9, 2010

In a culture dominated by consumerism and influenced by competing companies urging the masses to throw out the old and upgrade to the newest products  sustainability and responsibility often takes a back seat.

Adrian Boggs, founder of Practice Design Build, is working to change current habits and encourage the local community to invest in lasting products. As a designer, artist and furnisher Boggs creates pieces that serve as functional items made from discarded materials and waste. Dumpster- diving and garbage- gathering have become the main sources of inspiration behind Boggs’ work. Boggs’ company designs and constructs interior items for clients, working within their budgets while creating long-lasting products.

“There’s nothing really new about sustainability,” Boggs said. “It’s becoming more common, but there are many

Photo submitted.

different ways to make things sustainable.”

Practice Design Build is one of the first custom sustainable furnishing companies in the Triad. Working with materials that would normally go to waste is one of Boggs’ trademarks. Boggs’ creates furnishings from leftover scraps, wheat board (a material made from the chaff seed hulls and stems of leftover wheat) and even reclaimed waste streams, an industrial term for a stream of garbage left over in manufacturing processes.

“When Practice Design Build provides sustainable furnishings to clients, we’re replacing demand on typical industry with goods that are sustainable,” Boggs, 38, said. “Practice is a small company and I like working here, helping the local economy.”

Though sustainable products are often more expensive, Boggs said costs will begin to lower as the demand for better-made products increases. Searching for less expensive materials also enables Boggs to decrease the costs of his items. Though this often requires research, visits to various hardware stores and even occasional dives into dumpsters, producing affordable and well-made products is important to the integrity of Boggs’ work.

“When I use waste materials I’m keeping waste out of landfills in Alamance County,” Boggs said. “I think that the work I’m doing sets a precedent and helps people understand, be creative and find uses for what we’ve been calling garbage.”

Boggs said creating furnishings out of garbage and scraps requires a level of creativity that gives every furnishing a level of uniqueness.  Whether crafting a chair, bench or coffee table, Boggs wants to encourage interactivity between the user and the product.

As a graduate student at  UNC Greensboro, Boggs interned at a furniture company in High Point. He noticed the company was throwing away small pieces and scraps that were useless in the manufacturing process and asked to take them home where he began experimenting.

“One of pieces was a ‘proof of concept,'” Boggs said. “The other one was my master’s thesis work. These were strong examples of what can be done with garbage and wood waste.”

These two pieces are currently exhibited at the Center for Visual Artists gallery in the Greensboro Cultural Center until Feb. 19. Boggs’ exhibited pieces include a table and bench constructed out of Baltic birch plywood.

Boggs returned to school later in life and was the oldest student in the program. But his experience as an industrial fabricator, woodworking and construction contributed to his success while at UNC G. Now an adjunct professor of advanced materialism methods at the campus, Boggs continues to infuse students with his love for design and construction while encouraging them to pursue more sustainable options.

Boggs argues living sustainably will not eliminate overflowing landfills, garbage streams, pollutions and excessive waste. The answer, he said, is in personal responsibility.

“We have landfills overflowing with good materials that get thrown away,” Boggs said. “I think it’s a trap. We have a responsibility to ourselves to be honest with what we use to identify ourselves.”

The South is the first region with more than 50 percent of minority and low-income students in the public school system, according to a January 2010 report released by the Southern Education Foundation.

The South, which has a history of racial segregation and civil rights movements, was once the only section in the Unied States that lawfully permitted segregation in schools.

Despite strides toward equality since the Civil Rights movement, many southern schools still face the same dilemmas. Educators require new curricula and restructured teaching methods to meet the needs of more diverse classrooms.

“In terms of minorities, I don’t know that it would change education, but I do think that it challenges us to think about how to teach children from different cultures,” Amy Harper-Wallace, Elon Elementary School principal, said. “In terms of poverty, that changes a lot because (low-income students’) knowledge base is different.”

Students from low-income families often encounter difficulties learning at the same level as other students. This is due to non-English speaking parents and family members who did not complete an education. Various backgrounds often contribute to different learning levels.

The Southern Education Foundation stressed the challenges involved with the shifting of minorities to majorities in the coming years. Southerners must overcome existing prejudice and racism for non-white groups, urge the writers of the report.

“I think we are willing to pay attention to (the poverty level) more now than in the past,” assistant professor of education Terry Tomasek said.

“I think we were less able to pay attention to differences in the past. We wanted to make everyone the same. We’re now more willing to allow differences.”

Another concern from the report is academic performance and attendance levels of poor and minority students. On average poor and minority students score lower on tests and on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is the only national performance examination for students K-12.

Minority and low-income students drop out of school more frequently and are less likely to graduate from high school, according to the report.

“What was the type of student 50 years ago is no longer the norm now,” Tomasek said.

Tomasek and Harper-Wallace agree education must be broadened and tweaked for the new student majority. Teachers must be prepared at the undergraduate level to recognize the diverse needs of children in the classroom and address those needs in methods that best fit the individual student.

Tomasek also said students need to learn how to be problem-solvers, especially low-income students who could be the first in their families to attend college.

“Hopefully (the changes) will make education better because it will help us teach to wider, broader audiences,” Harper-Wallace said. “We need to be culturally neutral so we can reach children in any type of culture.”


Sarah Beth Costello
January 16, 2010

On Christmas day, 2009,  the world came close to observing an airborne tragedy when Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to detonate a

The Nigerian bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to blow up Northwest Flight 253.

bomb while aboard a Northwest airliner en route to Detroit. The Nigerian claimed to have been trained in Yemen under the instruction of al Qaida. Had he succeeded in igniting the explosives he had harbored in his underwear; he would have obliterated the lives of himself and those on the aircraft in seconds.

Following the near attack, airports worldwide amped their security, delaying passengers and creating general chaos for people traveling during one of the busiest months of the year. Airport security doubled, and metropolitan airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare and Amsterdam’s Schiphol, made plans to install both human and computer screened full body scanners, which many claimed could have prevented the Nigerian from boarding Northwest flight 253.

The scanners are high-tech x-ray machines, capable of exposing areas beneath a passenger’s clothing and produce a detailed image of every scanned individual. The use of these scanners has ignited controversy from many who claim the x-ray images violate privacy. The high cost of these machines is also a concern. According to a Dec. 29 Reuter’s article, the scanners are 10 times more expensive than traditional metal detectors, which run for about $15,000.

Despite the push for body scanners, emerging evidence suggests the existence of intelligence that could have prevented the Abdulmutallab incident, had the U.S. intelligence community heeded the previous warnings.

“Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda were talking about ‘a Nigerian’ being prepared for a terrorist attack,” wrote Peter Baker and Carl Hulse of the New York Times in a Dec. 29 article.

In November, the Nigerian’s father contacted officials at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, voicing concerns for his son’s radicalism. Though a file existed with Abdulmutallab’s name, officials said they did not possess the evidence necessary for placing the Nigerian on the “no-fly” list.

Despite many signals, the Homeland Security threat level was not raised. The Nigerian flew from Lagos to Amsterdam. Though the Nigerian police force is riddled with corruption and counter terrorism methods are unstable at best, Abdulmutallab should never have been allowed to board Northwest Flight 253 when he arrived in Amsterdam, but he did and came disconcertingly close  to succeeding with heinous plot.

Adding to the frustration of many Americans was the claim made by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s that “the system worked,” despite the clear breach of security. The statement had many  anxious Americans questioning the Obama administration, and the actions taken toward countering terrorism.

The Nigerian hid a syringe detonator, explosives and powder in his underwear and was able to pass through security undetected.

Several days after the failed attack, Obama made a speech acknowledging that the incident could have been prevented had “critical information been shared.”

No amount of blame or what-ifs can change the past, and even expensive equipment will not always thwart the missions of our enemies. In the past few months, Americans have witnessed actions of violence from the brutal Fort Hood massacre to the Nigerian bombing incident. The question remains: what are we going to do about it?

Increasing security and spending millions of dollars might work in the short term, but the answer lies in intelligence and identification of our enemies. Obama has recently taken steps to improve intelligence operations and correct “systematic failures” that contributed to the Dec. 25 attack attempt. But “fixing” security methods will not obliterate the problem. In fact, sole dependence on intelligence and high tech gizmos could ignite a fire of trouble we cannot even imagine.

These are not just radicals or random trouble seekers; these attacks are conducted by terrorists. It is time to start calling the kettle black. Forget about political correctness and a fear of “jumping to conclusions.” Future protection of America will require Obama to step outside his comfort zone and take a stand against the enemy. Our safety depends on it.

By Sarah Beth Costello

Dec. 9, 2009

As the economy fluctuates, the unemployment rate climbs, the issue of nationalized health care looms and war is prolonged, many Americans are second guessing the actions and intentions of elected officials.

A Nov. 16-17 Elon University Poll, which surveyed 563 North Carolina residents, revealed that 73 percent of respondents think corruption is prevalent among elected officials. According to 65 percent of those polled, elected officials are more concerned for themselves than the best interest of the public, and 67 percent said corruption is becoming more common among North Carolina public officials.

“I think a lot of citizens are frustrated, and that translates to blame on elected officials because they are the ones that we’ve trusted in making our country better,” Student Government Association President and Elon junior Justin Peterson said. “If the state of the nation is negative, I think our perception of their job would be negative as well.”

The media has reported dozens of political scandals in the past few months, from the promiscuous excursions of South Carolina Sen. Mark Sanford to Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s bribery scandals and the questionable actions of Gov. Mike Easley in connection with the hiring of his wife at N.C. State University.

“I think, historically, distrust in government goes back to the 1970s with Watergate,” SGA Vice President Evan Davis said. “I think another issue with that is the state of North Carolina. I know there are problems with the budget and state employees.”

Many North Carolinians blame elected officials for the discrepancies in the budget and handling of finances on a state and local level. The recent recession has impacted thousands of North Carolina households, and the unemployment rate continues to climb.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the North Carolina unemployment rate is 11 percent, increased 4 percent since October 2008.

“Right now, there’s a lot of debate with state officials,” said Taylor Foshee, president of College Democrats. “People think our officials in North Carolina have become complacent and have not addressed some of the pressing issues like the economy and jobs. There’s not enough action for (many), especially given what we perceive to be a severe issue.”

Corruption among elected officials is often widespread and heavily reported, contributing to a lack of faith and support for political leaders. Respondents to the Elon Poll are not the only ones who are wavering in their trust in elected officials.

A Nov. 30 Rasmussen Poll revealed a lack of confidence in politicians, particularly Democrats. The survey was conducted before President Barack Obama’s speech on his plans for the war in Afghanistan.

Voters gave a 13-point edge to Republicans — 50 percent to 37 percent — in regard to trust in national security and the War on Terror.

“The intense frustration with government and politicians among North Carolinians could pose serious ramifications for the electoral landscape in 2010,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “Coupled with a poor economy, the midterm elections may shape up as more of a referendum on government in general rather than the typical repudiation of the party in power.”

More than half of the respondents to the Elon Poll said corruption among North Carolina elected officials is more common today than 10 years ago but most appear to trust North Carolina legislative bodies more than national legislative bodies.

“I would foresee some type of shakeup in upcoming local elections and the larger elections in 2012,” Davis said. “I think it’s going to be interesting how the next couple of years will play out. State politics have been dominated by Democrats, and Republicans haven’t held the House or Senate in 150 years.”

Davis said he thinks many North Carolinians, and Americans in general, are wary of the unfulfilled campaign promises that helped elect Obama into office.

“With the Afghanistan troop surge, many are upset about that because that’s something that Obama was against,” Davis said. “The economy and health care are two mainstream issues that he talked about as well as gay rights and the environment. There are a lot of campaign promises he hasn’t come through on.”

Despite the distrust Americans may have for political leaders, 74 percent of respondents said America has the best government in the world, and 65 percent claimed support of the United States government despite any actions in Washington.

By Sarah Beth Costello

Nov. 10, 2009

Nurse Kelly Cobb never wished she were allergic to eggs until the Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro began requiring that all hospital staff receive the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine.

Individuals with egg allergies were exempt because both vaccines are egg based.

Cobb, who works in the telemetry and urology units, said last year Moses Cone attempted to make the regular flu shot mandatory, but canceled the requirement halfway through the designated time period. This year, Moses Cone once again required all hospital staff to receive the seasonal flu shot by Oct. 31 or risk termination from their jobs.

“I waited until the last minute to see if they would cancel (the mandatory  seasonal flu shot),” Cobb said. “Moses Cone came out with a statement saying if you don’t get the vaccine it will be considered a voluntary resignation with no option for rehire.”

Cobb ended up getting the seasonal flu shot, but since she does not work with patients who are extremely susceptible to H1N1, she is still waiting for her turn to get that vaccine. She is currently trying to decide whether or not to get the H1N1 shot or resign.

3483848619_6910d53720

Area hospitals are requiring that all staff receive the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine. Its relatively new release is brewing controversy as many do not want to get a vaccine that has not been thoroughly tested.

Moses Cone is also requiring that all staff receive the H1N1 vaccination, although it is being issued on different levels. For example, hospital staff that work in cancer wards, with infants or patients with susceptible immune systems, have already received the vaccination.

Eventually, the entire staff will be vaccinated.

“There are exceptions (other than egg allergies),” Cobb said. “If you get a doctor’s note it has to have a valid reason, and (Moses Cone) can say ‘No, this is not a credible option,’ or ‘Yes, this is substantial for being exempt.'”

The H1N1 vaccination has become a controversial issue. Thousands of Americans are anxiously waiting for the vaccine to become available in their areas, but others are cautious of a vaccine that’s long-term side effects are still unknown.

The Greensboro News and Record reported Nov. 5 that three Moses Cone hospital workers resigned for failing to receive a seasonal flu shot.

According to the article, many workers were angered by the either/or option that required them to get a shot, since they did not want or lose their jobs in an already unstable economy.

Despite rumors and concerns that the H1N1 vaccine could lead to serious side effects, health officials claim patients won’t suffer more than slight soreness. But this does not eradicate concerns for the long-term side effects.

“I don’t want to get it because I’m concerned it hasn’t been tested thoroughly,” Cobb said, whose unit is in the second tier to receive the vaccine. “Personally, I don’t appreciate that (Moses Cone) is only seeing me as an employee and not as an individual. They are not giving me the same opportunity as they’re giving patients who have every right to receive or not receive any treatment.”

A recent Associated Press poll showed one-third of American parents did not want their children to receive the H1N1 vaccine despite urges from the CDC and doctors this summer that children be vaccinated.

“My opinion is (the vaccine) is way too new and has not gone through enough clinical trials to be on the market,” said Celia Henry, a nursing student at Alamance Community College and student R.N. at Alamance Regional Medical Center. “I don’t think employees should be required to get (the vaccine) because they have a choice whether to do patient care with or without a mask.”

Few area hospitals are requiring staff to receive the H1N1 vaccine. While ARMC has not mandated an H1N1 vaccination, staff and patients are encouraged to get it.

“All vaccines that are mandatory have been on the market (for a long time), like chicken pox and rubella,” Henry said.

The major concern with the H1N1 vaccination is its recent release. Most hospitals require basic vaccinations and the addition of another one is not viewed as problematic.

“Patients make the comment that they don’t want the people taking care of them to be sick, they don’t want to be exposed,” Cobb said. “I completely appreciate that, and at the same time they need to consider that every day I expose myself to viruses and diseases, whether it’s AIDS, hepatitis or the simple cold, to take care of people. It’s a risk I take on a daily basis.”

The Center for Disease Control reported 22 flu-related deaths last week. Nineteen were confirmed H1N1 cases and three were influenza A viruses. The CDC has received 114 laboratory-confirmed pediatric 2009 H1N1 deaths since April.

Elon students, faculty and staff have also received their share of confirmed H1N1 cases and type A flu.

“As of Oct. 31, we had 100 patients confirmed with Type A flu (most probably H1N1, but not confirmed),” said Jana Lynn Patterson, assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of students. “We have had seven cases confirmed by the CDC and we had another 364 patients who presented influenza-like symptoms, but may or may not have had the flu.”

The Health Center is not requiring staff to receive the vaccine, although they encourage students, faculty and staff to research it and make their own decisions.

“I think that if people are healthy and are comfortable they should definitely get it,” Patterson said. “The CDC is saying it’s safe for most people and their recommendation is, unless there’s a medical reason, people most likely should get (the vaccine.)”