Friday, February 18, 2011

I Throw My Diamonds in the Air Sometimes: THON 2011

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog programing to boast about my alma mater, the Pennsylvania State University (known less pompously as Penn State).

Every year, Penn State students participate in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, aka THON. It is going on NOW at Penn State and if you aren't there to see it in person, you can watch it streaming online at this website. Make sure you don't miss the line dance that is done every hour; it is hilarious and creative every year. I don't want to give too much away, but Lindsay Lohan definitely gets made fun of in the lyrics this year.

Even though the event happens only once a year, students work hard on it all year round and proudly show off their THON gear (clothing, bracelets, you name it) to spread the word and show pride and support. When I studied abroad in France, female Penn Students had to battle against popular French slang, because "thon" means tuna in French and is a slang word for "ugly girl." And armed with warnings about this from older Penn State students, people still insisted on bringing their THON clothing, because packing their Penn State pride was more important to them. Needless to say, Penn State has a very tight-knit community, and this family attitude makes it perfect for philanthropy like THON.

THON is Penn State's battle against pediatric cancer. It started in 1973 as a small dance marathon held in the HUB, a building that is considerably smaller than the Bryce Jordan Center where it is currently held. There were 39 dance couples participating and it raised $2000. To say that THON has grown since then would be a gross understatement. Now, THON has 15,000 volunteers, 700 dancers, and has raised over $69 million dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

There are yearlong events to make THON's success possible. Students who are involved in THON get to know the families that they are raising money to help. They provide both emotional and financial support for these families. Many of the children who benefit from the effort that goes into THON actually attend the event and participate by speaking and performing on stage with the students.

Last year, at THON 2010, Penn State students raised $7,838,054.36 for pediatric cancer research. Every year they strive to beat the amount raised the previous year. Everyone can contribute. I urge everyone reading this to donate at this website

Check it out and definitely spread the word to those who don't know about this already. It's an excellent cause and I am proud to have gone to the school in charge of it. WE ARE.... PENN STATE!

**EDIT: THON 2011 raised $9,563,016.09 in total.

Friday, February 11, 2011

It Doesn't Have to be All About "GTL": New Reality Show, "BULLIED" Promises to Entertain AND Educate

Reality television is taking over the world. The popularity of this genre of television continues to increase in society. Viewers loyally watch their favorite reality shows even when they get repetitive. Face it. Previously on Jersey Shore: Snooki got wildly intoxicated and woke up somewhere she didn’t belong. Sammi and Ronnie had another fight and Sammi struggled with the difficult decision of whether or not to leave the house. The guys teamed up on their quest to avoid grenades. The entire cast went tanning, and the show’s ratings skyrocketed. Viewers love to watch the same plots weekly. Watching reality TV has become a lifestyle; people have even coined the phrase “Jersday” since Jersey Shore airs on Thursdays. While people take a lot from programs like this, including hilarious quotes, they don’t really take in educational content. GTL is not a prerequisite for life. White Light Productions has decided to use the reality television genre and its popularity as a method of spreading the word about important issues to the public.

The CEO of White Light Productions, Albert Harris Jr., has a goal of spreading the word about bullying actively instead of sitting around and waiting for tragedies to happen. Harris Jr.’s original inspiration behind creating the docudrama, “BULLIED” was the Tyler Clementi tragedy. Albert Harris Jr. expects the shocking and inspiring stories in “BULLIED” to create and spread awareness. It will broadcast real-life stories of bullying as well as reenactments.

This show will be a representation of a large bulk of society, and families will benefit from watching it together, unlike with other reality TV shows. Often, when children are victims of bullying, their parents don’t fully understand what they are going through. The reenactments in “BULLIED” will make it easier for parents to grasp what is really happening to their children and why they are coming home in tears.

“BULLIED” will also display many ways that different people have overcome bullying. This will inspire viewers that are victims of bullying that they can overcome it too. This TV show will give viewers real people to look up to and relate to. Albert Harris Jr. also hopes that the show’s stories and reenactments will be uplifting for parents who have lost loved ones to bullying and moved forward in a positive way; they will have the opportunity to see how some kids have learned to turn bullying around to make the best of their lives.

Albert Harris Jr. Provided me with some examples of stories we can look forward to seeing when they are covered on “BULLIED,” which will be airing soon. The show will also tell the story of a disabled woman who was bullied by her school administrators throughout college. With a doctor on her side, she fought back and won a settlement against the school.

Additionally, Kevin Epling, a father who lost his 13 year old son Matt Epling to suicide, will do narrations through reenactments of his son Matt’s life from the beginning of it to the end of it. Matt was attractive and popular, but also a victim to severe bullying. He reported the bullying to the school, but no action was taken. Kevin Epling will tell his son’s story on “BULLIED” so that others can learn and benefit from it.

White Light Productions is choosing stories from all parts of life, because they don’t think only one side of bullying should be featured. The world needs to know everything about bullying. Using reality television’s popularity as a tool, White Light Productions will spread the word about bullying. I know that I will be one of the many interested, loyal viewers.

For more information on White Light Productions and their inspiring endeavors, please see their Facebook page.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Stupid Mistakes People Make While Job Hunting

The poor state of the economy is not the only reason many people have trouble finding jobs. It is however a common excuse people use to justify their failure in the job market. Many job hunters don’t realize that their own stupid mistakes are prolonging their stay on the unemployment line.

These mistakes aren’t always obvious. Clearly if you are spending your days on the couch watching television, you shouldn’t expect a magic genie to plop down next to you and grant you three job offers. Since most unemployed people don’t think that they are Aladdin, they are probably making a painstaking effort in seeking employment. If laziness and the economy aren’t the culprits, what is going wrong here?

Mistakes that seem so minute that most job seekers don’t even notice them are often deal-breakers. These blunders can happen at any point during the job searching process. When searching for a job, the first task is to create and perfect your resume. Even though making a masterpiece out of your resume may seem like an elementary task, it is easy to butcher the document without realizing.

This is a resume, not an autobiography. When striving to create the most impressive resume possible, many people fall into the trap of including every detail of their lives. You can omit your lemonade stand endeavors from back in grade school without making yourself less marketable. Employers do not want to waste their time reading irrelevant information; the added reading is not going to make them more interested in hiring you.

Employers also do not want to read your spelling and grammar errors, so be sure to leave those out of your resume as well. Technology appears to assist with this, as most word processing programs have a tool to check spelling and grammar. However, this does not guarantee an error-proof document, and too many people make the mistake of relying on it to proofread their work for them. Sometimes spellcheck “corrects” words that don’t need fixing and ends up adding errors to a document that was flawless. People also make the mistake of relying on themselves to proofread. If you have a tendency to make a certain mistake in your writing, while proofreading, you might not even notice that mistake because you are so used to seeing it. Asking someone reliable to proofread your resume can help prevent you from submitting a resume that contains embarrassing errors that make you look unprofessional to an employer.

Additionally, never assume that if a certain company didn’t request a cover letter, it means that you shouldn’t write one. You should always include a brief note introducing yourself and supplying some of your credentials. Do not turn this into a novel; you are applying for a job, not applying for college.

Once you are sure that your resume is free of rookie mistakes, you need to make sure that you have chosen the correct audience. Never apply to a job if you don’t meet the qualifications. This accomplishes nothing and is a waste of your time and the employer’s time.

After you have found the appropriate audience, make sure that you come off as an appropriate candidate for the job. If you are sending your cover letter and resume via email, make sure to use a professional sounding email address. Employers are not likely to put their trust in Keep your email address simple; something containing your first and last name will suffice.

In addition to keeping your email address appropriate, you also must make sure to keep anything that you post online appropriate. Employers search for you on the Internet to find information that isn’t covered in resumes and interviews. You will have to face your facebook posts, so don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want an employer to find.

Just like employers exercise precaution when researching potential employees online, you need to be careful if you are using the Internet to search for job openings. Watch out for scams; unfortunately they are becoming more widespread. Take it from somebody who had a man posing as a lawyer mail me random garbage because he got my address from my resume. You don’t want to send your resume to a scam artist, so make sure to do everything you can to make sure you are corresponding with a legitimate employer.

After doing all of that work to avoid making stupid mistakes on your resume and online appearance, it is crucial to take the same precautions at interviews. It is very easy to make stupid mistakes at interviews, but it is also very easy not to make them.

Before you even walk into the interview, triple-check that your cell phone is on silent. You don’t want your interview interrupted by your ringtone of the uncensored version of Bruno Mars’s “Billionaire.”

Make sure to dress in professional clothing and definitely not to appear exhausted and/or hung over. You don’t want an employer to think that you came to the interview straight from a party. While you want to come off as professional and confident, make sure your confidence doesn’t cause you to reveal too much information. An acquaintance of mine made the mistake of disclosing to her interviewer that she had taken a Xanax to calm herself down before the interview. Definitely avoid discussions about drugs, health issues, and other inappropriate personal information at job interviews.

Also, do not tell your interviewer that you are willing to do any job that is offered to you. You want to make sure that you convey that you have clear career goals. Desperation is unattractive in the dating world and it is also unattractive in the world of employment. You don’t want to come off as the type of person who will shack up with any job that comes your way; you want to display that you know what you want.

After the interview, make sure to send a thank you note, and be prepared in the event that you do get a phone call from your interviewer. Don’t download one of those idiotic ringback tones, for example; if your interviewer is calling you, it’s to talk, not listen to music. Also make sure that your voicemail message is appropriate; if you do miss the phone call, you don’t want a potential employer to be greeted with “yo, whatup, you’ve reached my phone. I’m busy so leave it at the tone.” Make a brief, professional voicemail greeting. There are also instances where it might be a better choice to purposely miss the phone call; you don’t want to have to scream at a potential employer because you’re at a bar or a concert.

All of these mistakes are easy to make, even for a responsible, hardworking person. Make sure you don’t let a stupid mistake ruin your chances at getting your dream job.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bullies Versus Victims: War with Words

In the famous rapper, Eminem’s song “Words are Weapons,” he declares, “my words are weapons, I use ‘em to crush my opponents.” In this song, he is describing his tactic of dealing with people who doubt his talent. However, these lyrics can also apply to the way bullies treat their victims. Mean spirited words and actions may not seem a big deal to the people who aren’t the victims of them. When a group of girls wears black on one of their classmates birthdays as a “joke” for example, they might not think about the outfits ever again. Their classmate will remember the hours spent crying in the guidance office forever. People remember avoiding the cafeteria because they weren’t welcome at any of the tables. It doesn’t go away like school goes away after graduation. People remember every piece of food thrown at them when they dared to venture into the cafeteria. It’s the people doing the throwing who are quick to forget. Bullying behavior like this used to be limited to happening in person or during the dreaded prank and devious 3-way phone calls. 

The arrival of the Internet and the social-networking pages has made bullying into a widespread epidemic. When people are online, they can take on personas that are completely different from their real identities. This means if they were already acting mean in person, the comments will get more vicious, the jokes will get more cruel and the victims will get more hurt. A computer screen is like a shield for bullies; it makes them feel invincible. Suddenly, instead of having the burden of saying their abhorrent comments out loud, all they have to do is furiously type these verbal atrocities on a keyboard without facing any person or any consequences. As soon as people recognized the power that the Internet had given them, it became evident that bullying in person and over the phone was merely the calm before the storm. Hurtful instant messages and emails only take a few minutes to send, but people who receive them keep them forever. The publicness of the Internet allows bullies to broadcast their tormenting to further humiliate their victims. Not only have these victims suffered severe damage to the ego, but everybody knows about it.

The technological advances in bullying caused people to fear showing their faces at school. It’s enough that they already have been called a loser, or whatever creative insult some bully managed to come up with, online. Having to see the people who have been tormenting you when you have been disarmed of your confidence can be traumatizing. The severity of this emotional damage goes unnoticed by most; most people can be found hysterically laughing through the genocide of their peers’ self esteem.

Most of the bullies barely even know their victims. They have no idea if they are torturing someone who already suffers from depression. The worse kinds of bullies know that they are dealing with someone who has depression and use the depression as a weapon. It reaches the dangerous point of bullies knowingly or unknowingly taunting people who are suicidal, causing them to have even less of a desire to live.

This became more disastrous with the advent of Facebook, a page that may have been paved with good intentions, but created a whole new world for bullying. Facebook profiles contained a wall where friends could publicly communicate with each other. Unfortunately, bullies had a different use for this wall than friendly conversation. The wall welcomed bullies to taint their victims profiles with public, painful insults. People have the opportunity to comment and contribute to these epithets. More recently, Facebook users were given the opportunity to click “like” on Facebook postings. This means that even if one mean person has the idea to post “you have no friends in real life, so it’s funny that you have so many Facebook friends,” on somebody’s page, 50 other people can click “like,” indicating that they agree. The comment and “like” features also are available for people’s pictures that they have posted on their profiles. A person can log onto Facebook in a perfectly good mood and log off feeling ugly, friendless and worthless. It’s a wonder many people have difficulty succeeding in English classes, but can come up with such creative adjectives to use when publicly abusing someone. As if the verbal abuse is not enough, bullies have also discovered the art of exploiting their victims’ pictures to deepen the wounds that they have already inflicted.

Facebook is not the only place on the Internet where behavior like this occurs. The bullying epidemic became more contagious when people started to use pages such as Those pages allowed users to either make comments or ask questions anonymously. Although this may seem like it has potential to bring people closer together, it got ugly very quickly. People asked invasive, personal questions and posted heinous lies on these pages. This may seem harmless or juvenile, but it really is a war with words. People have resorted to suicide due to unnecessary bullying, and bullying remains an ongoing battle. People have started to take legal action as a result of irreparable damage caused by bullying. It may sound like the days of kindergarden tattletales, but it’s a serious matter. Without increased legal involvement, bullying will continue to damage and destroy innocent lives. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sexual Abuse Made Easier

The definition of rape as we know is being redefined to exclude date rapes and other sexual coercion where the victim is incapacitated. This proposal comes from House Bill 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that would further screws over victims of sexual abuse who were drugged, drunk, unconscious, mentally disabled or date raped.

This new definition of rape means that someone who is asleep, drugged or otherwise incapacitated would be able to be forced into sex, and by law, they would have to like it. This may as well be a proposal to arm sexual predators with an extra set of penises that they can legally force into women.

What would this mean for the woman suffering from insomnia who took her prescription medication to fall asleep, and then had a man force himself upon her while catching some much needed shuteye? No matter how loudly she screamed when she woke up and realized what had happened to her, she wouldn’t have been a rape victim. According to the law, she consented to the sex the moment her head hit the pillow.

Picture the application of this standard to other crimes, for example burglary and robbery. A woman plagued by panic attacks and anxiety who has taken her daily prescribed dose of her anxiolytic medication. She is now defenseless. A man breaks into her house and helps himself to her belongings. Imagine a world where attorneys would refuse to take that woman’s case because they wouldn’t have a chance in hell in a courtroom.

People find the burglary and rape comparison far-fetched, but believe me, a woman’s body is a lot more sacred to her than any Plasma television set in her house. No man should be able to abuse a woman sexually regardless of her blood-alcohol content.

It is even more mind-blowing that this change in definition would extend to date-rape cases. This means a man can discreetly slip a date rape drug into a woman’s drink, wait for it to kick in, and then do whatever the hell he wants to that woman. He wouldn’t have to worry about being charged with rape; under the new definition of rape, he would be considered a law-abiding citizen. What happened between him and the woman certainly sounds like rape, but it was only sex. That man didn’t rape anybody; he just got laid. Maybe instead of getting arrested, he’ll go home and brag about it to his bros. They form teams and see how many women they can drug and molest.

Making this change to the definition of rape would make it infinitely easier for men to sexually abuse women without getting in any legal trouble. They would just have to find the right drugs or women who are prescribed to the right drugs, and get busy.