Thrifty Astronaut blasts off from Fort Collins

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Aug 302011
Authors: Lianna Salva

Growing up in Fort Collins, Nick Jones was surrounded by music.

About two years ago while still in high school, Jones created the local band, Thrifty Astronaut, and has been playing music ever since. Jones was the solo member of the band, using a drum machine and toy keyboards as back up until drummer Sean Speer joined him about a month ago.

Jones graduated from Rocky Mountain High School this past May and plans to go to the University of Denver to major in international studies. This complicates matters, though, for a young musician.

Speer, who also graduated from Rocky Mountain, plans to stay in Fort Collins for school, possibly at Front Range.

“We’re going to turn it away for a little while when he’s off in college, and we plan on next summer to pick it back up and take it on the road,” Speer said.

When Jones was still solo, he went on tour with Otem Rellik and Galaxies across Colorado, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska.

But together, he and Speer have played live only in Colorado. Their plans are to travel out of state for their next tour, with hopes of playing in Chicago.

The Fort Collins local music scene is widely known, which sometimes creates a challenge for new artists. According to Jones, the challenge is to make music stand out, but being in Fort Collins opens up possibilities of new sound and shows.

“Because I’ve lived here my whole life, the Fort Collins personality has really been ingrained into my music,” Jones said.

Jones grew up in a very musical environment. His parents, both CSU alumni, were in bands and kept a lot of instruments in the house. They have become one of the band’s main supporters.

“When he’s in school, he’s very present and I think he takes that same degree of presence into music and really everything he does,” said his mother, Kathleen.

Thrify Astronaut’s albums demonstrate their unique sound, which Jones crafted during his solo career.

“Because he worked so independently, he found this sound that is distinctly his,” she said.

The band currently has three albums, including “Introducing Thrifty Astronaut,” “Caffeine Heartache” and its follow up, “Apple-Eaters.” They are all available at Their next show is this Saturday at the Rock N Soul Café in Boulder.

Collegian writer Lianna Salva can be reached at

The Band

Band: Thrifty Astronaut

Genre: Shoegaze/ Lo-fi pop

Band Members: Nick Jones (singer), Sean Speer (drummer)

Albums: “Introducing Thrifty Astronaut,” “Caffeine Heartache” and “Apple-Eaters”

Next show: Saturday at the Rock N Soul Café in Boulder.

More information:

 Posted by at 2:48 pm

Letter from Dean of Students and ASCSU President addressing Ram's Pointe pool party

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Aug 302011
Authors: Jody Donovan and Eric Berlinberg

Dear Students,

Unless you’ve been completely off-line the last few days, you’re probably well aware of what happened last weekend when a local apartment’s pool party drew more than 3,000 people, leading to four CSU student arrests and multiple people needing treatment for dehydration and overconsumption of alcohol.

If you haven’t read yesterday’s student editorial in The Collegian, “Don’t Pass Out in the Pool” (, you should give it a look.

We know the vast majority of CSU students didn’t cause any problems for anyone last weekend—unfortunately, no one posts YouTube videos of people studying in the library or hiking in the mountains. On the other hand, there’s plenty of video of the pool party, and it’s clear the size of the crowd and the level of alcohol consumption involved put participants at risk and created a major disruption for local law enforcement and neighborhoods.

We’re glad that, for most of our students, the party ended peacefully and safely. We also need to make it clear that, at the end of the day, you as students are responsible for your decisions and your behavior. If you cross the line, there are consequences both under the law and the student code of conduct. (You don’t have to be charged with a crime to face a student conduct violation.) Large crowds can get out of control very quickly, particularly when alcohol is involved, and if that happens, even bystanders can find themselves facing very serious legal problems.

To paraphrase the words of our student editors: The party may be totally awesome, but it isn’t worth risking your education or CSU’s reputation. Take care of yourselves and others, represent CSU well, and make responsible choices.

Dr. Jody Donovan
Dean of Students

Eric Berlinberg
President of ASCSU

 Posted by at 10:53 am

Tech-ed out transportation

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Aug 292011
Authors: Tyler Cashion

For the past four years, CSU Transfort has been working to implement a new system for allowing students to ride the bus.

“The last few years we have just had students show their ID to get on the bus,” Kurt Ravenshlag of CSU Transfort said. “But this was just a phase while the new technology was being installed on the buses.”

Now, $40,000 later, CSU has a system on each bus, which transmits information from the RamCard office to the buses and vice versa, all operating around a small microchip found in students’ ID cards.

“If they (the students) are a full fee-paying student, they can use their card to board the bus,” Ravenshlag said. “A light will come on (after scanning) either green or red, depending on the student’s status at CSU.”

Upon seeing a red light, the bus driver will issue the student a paper with information they need to know, Ravenshlag said. Any hold on your account and you cannot ride the bus, he added.

And while these new changes were a long time coming for the Transfort system, not everyone seems happy about them.

“So now if I have a late payment, I can’t even go to class,” Leslie Johnson, a CSU senior and Transfort rider said. “I can see how this system can be much quicker, but I don’t want to find out that I have a hold on my account trying to board the bus on the morning of a test.

“I’m skeptical of the intentions of introducing these new RamCards,” Johnson added. “It has taken three years to get it going, thousands of dollars and once they start to get RamCards to students, they have problems with that as well. Yet, all the while they stress the ease of this new system.”

There has been one glitch so far, Ravenshlag said.

“Twenty to 30 cards were issued without the chip, but stickers were put on those cards and the RamCard office will contact those students when the new stock comes in,” he said.
But, according to Neal Lujan of Housing and Dining services, students shouldn’t worry about getting a new card to ride the bus.

“The RamCard Office has distributed cards with smart chips in them to new students at Orientation for the past four years,” Lujan said. “In addition, we collaborated with the University Technology Fee Advisory Board (UTFAB) to conduct a free trade-in offer to continuing students who didn’t get a ‘chipped’ card at orientation.”

Originally, bus passes were issued to students who requested them, but as Ravenshlag explained, Transfort negotiated this new system in their most recent contract with ASCSU.
Transfort has also worked up an agreement to let part-time students purchase a six-month pass from the transit center for $25.

“We were definitely in favor of this because we felt like this was going to reach a lot more students who would not have originally gotten a bus pass,” Ravenshlag said. “We also had to track the rider information for CSU through the RamCard office and by using the RamCard.”

For more information on Transfort, or for bus schedules, visit Transfort near the north entrance of the Lory Student Center basement.

Collegian writer Tyler Cashion can be reached at

 Posted by at 4:44 pm

Rams stopped cold in Norman

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Aug 292011
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

Following a successful tournament in Arkansas, the CSU volleyball team hit a wall in Norman, Okla.

Again and again and again. The Sooners totaled 17 blocks on the evening en route to a 3-0 sweep of the Rams.

“They force you into long rallies and then they finish those rallies with a kill or a block,”
coach Tom Hilbert said. “They’re aware and collected and know what’s going on. They won every long rally, which means that they are better at the game of volleyball then we are.”

The Rams nearly extended the match to a fourth set, taking the first three points of the third set and leading up until Oklahoma middle blocker Carlee Roethlisberger, younger sister of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, put the Sooners ahead 11-10. Both teams traded points until Oklahoma went on a three-point spurt to take a 19-16 lead and close out the match.

“We came back after being awful in the second set,” Hilbert said.

CSU’s nearly flawless offense going back to the Arkansas Invitational faltered, hitting only .162 as a team and committing 15 total errors. The Rams looked at their worst in the second set, losing 15-25 and only finishing eight kills.

“We didn’t play with composure and maturity like we have been,” senior opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan said.

Steffan led CSU’s offense with 11 kills, but only hit .184 and committed four errors for the match.

“Kate played well, but you can’t give her 38 swings against that good of a defense and expect her to carry you,” Hilbert said.

Players said the atmosphere was loud and raucous inside the McCasland Field House, something they hadn’t encountered in any of the previous three matches.

Junior middle blocker Megan Plourde said she was “deaf after the game.”

“We didn’t come out ready for the environment. We needed to relax and play our game,” Steffan said. “We didn’t play with composure and maturity like we have been.”

The Rams will use the match primarily as a learning experience, and try to move past it while getting on with their season.

“We learned that we’re not untouchable,” Steffan said. “We need to keep playing good teams like this that can pick apart our flaws.”

CSU’s next match will be its highly anticipated home opener Friday, against No. 5 University of Nebraska.

Nebraska enters the match 2-0 after sweeping the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University earlier this season.

“We need to regain our composure and come out fighting that night,” Steffan said. “We don’t want any more losses.”

Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at

What went wrong

CSU hitting percentage: .162
Oklahoma blocks:* 17*
Kill deficit: 14

What’s next

Up next: #5 Nebraska
Record: 2-0
Sets lost: 0
Game starts: 7 p.m.
White Out

 Posted by at 4:34 pm

At least 28 killed in Iraq suicide attack

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Aug 292011
Authors: Laith Hammoudi McClatchy-Tribune

BAGHDAD — At least 28 people were killed, including a member of parliament, and 37 others were wounded when a suicide attack targeted a major Sunni mosque in west Baghdad Sunday night.

The explosion was inside Um al-Qura mosque, the headquarters of the Sunni endowment during the prayers of the last days of Ramadan, when attendance is up. Police confirmed that children were among the casualties.

Khalid al-Fahdawi, a lawmaker from the al-Wasat Coalition (the Middle Coalition), was among the dead.

Police said the suicide bomber used explosives hidden under a splint and tried to be as close as possible to the head of the Sunni endowment, Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samarrai, who was injured in the attack.

In a phone call with one of the Iraqi satellite channels after the attack, al-Samarrai accused al-Qaida of mounting the attack. No group claimed responsibility.

A civilian was killed and 15 other people, including security personnel, were wounded in four other attacks targeted security forces and civilians throughout Baghdad.

 Posted by at 4:32 pm

Rutgers student accused of taping roommate texts apology

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Aug 292011
Authors: George Anastasia- McClatchy Tribune

PHILADELPHIA — The former Rutgers University student charged with illegally videotaping his roommate having a sexual encounter with another man texted an apology to the roommate, unaware that about same the time the roommate was standing on the George Washington Bridge contemplating suicide, his lawyers said in court papers filed Thursday.

“I’m sorry if you heard something distorted and disturbing, but I assure you all my actions were good-natured,” lawyers for Dharun Ravi said he wrote in a text to Tyler Clementi around 8:46 p.m. on Sept. 22, 2010.

The lawyers, in a lengthy motion asking that all charges against their client be dropped, said they could not determine whether Clementi, 18, ever read the text.

Clementi jumped off the bridge to his death that night.

In the motion and supporting documents totaling nearly 700 pages, lawyers for Ravi, 19, of Plainsboro, N.J., asked a Middlesex County Court judge to throw out the bias intimidation and invasion of privacy charges against Ravi for a lack of evidence.

The defense attorneys also argued that the county prosecutor’s office had failed to provide a grand jury with a complete picture of the case; had distorted statements that mitigated against their client’s culpability; and had failed to adequately determine whether any of the grand jurors were prejudiced by the massive publicity surrounding the case.

“The news media picked up on the story, which became a worldwide beacon of discussion about gay youth suicides and ‘cyber-bullying,’” attorneys Steven Altman and Philip Nettl wrote in their legal brief.

But, they contended, in most instances the media had the story wrong.

In a sweeping presentation of their version of the events that culminated with Clementi’s suicide, the lawyers said their client was neither homophobic nor out to intimidate Clementi.

The legal brief included the apology the lawyers say Ravi sent by text to Clementi and other statements from Ravi and others that supported the defense position that he did not try to harass or intimidate Clementi, nor did he circulate Internet video of the sexual encounters.

In fact, the lawyers argued, despite the prosecution’s contention, there was no video of sexual relations between Clementi and an individual identified only as “M.B.”

Clementi and M.B. had two encounters in the dorm room on the Busch campus on Rutgers University, according to the court record. The first, on Sept. 19, was picked up on Ravi’s computer via iChat. The second, despite allegations to the contrary, was not, the defense contends.

The case, which has attracted national attention and has become a rallying point for gay and lesbian civil rights groups, is set for trial later this year.

Ravi could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious bias intimidation charges.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has two weeks to respond to the motion.
Clementi’s family could not be reached for comment.

The defense brief also pointed to e-mails Clementi allegedly sent to a friend after he learned that Ravi and others students had viewed the Sept. 19 encounter.

The motion for dismissal cites an e-mail Clementi sent to a friend in which he questioned Ravi’s actions, but then joked about the incident and said it was “not so bad.” He also dismissed the idea that this was any kind of “hate crime,” the lawyers contend.

The defense also asked the court to order the prosecutor’s office to turn over three documents from Clementi’s computer that they allege show he was in a state of depression weeks, if not months, before the incidents in the dorm room.

“Whatever feelings were controlling (Clementi’s) behavior appear to have had their roots far from Busch campus, and far from defendant,” the lawyers argued, citing among other things comments made to Rutgers authorities by Clementi’s mother on the night she reported him missing and also the fact that Clementi had taken three pictures of the George Washington Bridge with his cellphone weeks before the suicide.

 Posted by at 4:31 pm

Community briefs for 8/30/11

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Aug 292011
Authors: Collegian Staff

Exhibit encourages students to remember WWI

Waddell and Reed’s “Honoring Our History” Traveling World War I Exhibition will roll into Fort Collins today for its 10th stop on a national 75-city tour.

The exhibition will be parked at the corner of College Avenue and Lake Street in Lot 575 across from the University Center for the Arts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

The tour is designed to raise funds and awareness for educational and cultural institutions across the country during tough economic times, according to a news release.

The founders of Waddell and Reed, a mutual company, were WWI veterans, and the exhibit includes founder Chauncey Waddell’s flight gear, flight suit and log book.

The Waddell & Reed office in Fort Collins coordinated the event.

Faces of Haiti exhibition to close on Friday

Fort Collins-based environmental nonprofit Trees, Water & People is hosting a special fundraiser on Friday to close out the three-month long Faces of Haiti art exhibition at the Global Village Museum.

The event will serve to support the organization’s efforts for relief in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Faces of Haiti will be held on Sept. 2 at the Global Village Museum in Old Town and begins at 6 p.m. There is a suggested $10 donation at the door.

Professor develops chemistry to improve antidepressants

New methods developed in Professor Tomislav Rovis of the Department of Chemistry are expected to improve understanding of the inner working of commonly used antidepressant drugs.

Rovis received an exploratory grant to further his research from the Colorado Center for Drug Discovery, a part of the commercialization arm of the CSU Research Foundation.

The research is expected to identify structural features in the drugs to reduce side effects and increase potency, according to Today@Colostate.

TILT to host time management workshop

As part of a series of workshops throughout the year to improve study techniques, the Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) will be hosting a time management workshop tonight at 7 p.m.

The workshop will focus on time management strategies and setting priorities to get the maximum amount of work done, according to the Institute.
The workshop will begin at 7 p.m. in TILT building, room 105.

— Collegian Staff Report

 Posted by at 4:28 pm

Ram Talk 8/30/11

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Aug 292011
Authors: compiled by Greg Mees

I don’t know what that tower in front of the library is supposed to be, but I’m assuming it’s for war-related purposes. Rams to battle stations!

Trying to find yourself in the pool party picture on the front page of The Collegian yesterday is a lot like “Where’s Waldo” but way better.

Makes you think twice about your 65-year-old professor when pops up in his recently searched sites.

The only problem I find with the name games are you tend to only remember what the person likes to do instead of their name. What good is it when you actually run into them and all you can think is, “ Oh, hes the one who likes to recycle.”

 Posted by at 4:26 pm

Beyonce’s sister: Beach police tried to deflate my giant banana

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Aug 292011
Authors: Perry Stein- McClatchey Tribune

MIAMI BEACH — Partying with a five-foot tall inflatable banana, Beyonce’s younger sister was refused entry to South Beach’s Club Cameo this weekend.

The bizarre incident involving Solange Knowles quickly escalated when she took to Twitter saying that an officer pulled a weapon on her in an act of racial discrimination.

Miami Beach police confirmed Monday that a variation of the incident occurred, but said that race played no factor in defusing a hostile singer with a giant banana.

Authorities said an off-duty police officer working at the Cameo escorted Knowles across the street from the club to further discuss why she was being refused entrance. It was during that conversation that Knowles says an officer pulled a weapon, not a firearm, and threatened to deflate the banana.

But the narrative that played out on Solange Knowle’s Twitter feed tells a different story.

“I have literally had my last leg with discriminating police! Miami police department will be notified,” she first tweeted. “A police officer just pulled a weapon on me. … I have done NOTHING illegal, against the law, or anything of the sort.”

In her tweets, Knowles indicated that she had the name of the officer who pulled the weapon and would be filing a formal complaint. Miami Beach police said Monday in a news release that it has launched an internal affairs investigation into the incident.
A representative for the entertainer could not be reached for comment.

Her public rant, which made no mention of the conspicuous banana, spanned nine tweets.
“I’m only tweeting this to raise awareness. I could have left quietly, but I am sick&tired of this scenario being played over&over again,” she wrote. “It is time to do something about it. I am a mother raising a young black child in America. I’m going to die trying!”

Because Knowles identified the police department in question as the Miami Police Department, many first believed that the allegations were against the City of Miami, not Miami Beach.

Cmdr. Delrish Moss, spokesman for the Miami Police Department, said his department investigated the allegations after first hearing of the tweets.

“Over the weekend, the lion’s share of the mainstream and entertainment media reported that the Miami Police Department had a confrontation with Solange Knowles, the sister of Beyonce Knowles of record and movie fame. We have investigated and found that this incident DID NOT occur in our city,” Moss said in a written statement.

Knowles is known for her singing and dancing career and appearances in films such as “Johnson Family Vacation.’’ On Sunday night, she did also tweet about her big sister’s surprise pregnancy announcement at MTV’s Video Music Award Show.

“One.And.Only. I could not possibly be more proud. Tears in my eyes,” she tweeted.

 Posted by at 4:24 pm

Residents of landlocked towns left stunned by Irene’s damage

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Aug 292011
Authors: Maeve Reston and Tina Susman- McClatchey-Tribune

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Rippling creeks became deadly deluges. Bridges collapsed into roiling waves. Dry streets turned into fast-rising lakes, closing in around stunned towns that never knew they might be in the path of a tropical storm expected to drench the coast, not the countryside.

But while Irene — first a hurricane and then a tropical storm — unleashed its initial share of damage along the sandy shores of the Eastern seaboard, by Monday its greatest impact was felt far from the coastline, in places such landlocked Vermont and the bucolic mountains of upstate New York.

“It was a raging torrent,” Scott Towle of Brattleboro said of the normally benign Whetstone Brook, which runs beside his house and rose with terrifying speed Sunday when as much as eight inches of rain fell in six hours. “You could hear boulders, trees, everything going down,” said Towle, who on Monday joined other locals at a bridge downtown watching the swollen Connecticut River rush past. “It took out the road; it took out a couple of houses; it took out a bridge.”

“It was roaring,” said Richard Hodgdon, whose backyard turned into a lake as the Whetstone Brook filled up. “It came past the house on both sides. It was flowing right down (the street) …When we saw how fast it was rising, we had never seen that before.”

Hodgdon, his wife and their dog got out as the waters rose to fill their garage and their basement. The heavy furniture on their patio floated away to a neighbor’s driveway, next to a red barn that looked on the verge of collapse Monday. A nearby footbridge, which weighs more than a ton, was lifted “like a toothpick” and carried downstream, said Hodgdon, who on Monday looked out at his lawn — now a sheet of mud.

“It’s hard to believe. It’s so peaceful today,” he said as the sun shone down on the sludge-covered scene.

On the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in Louisiana, Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate said emergency officials had learned from the disastrous aftermath of that storm.

“We can’t wait to know how bad it is before we get ready,” said Fugate, noting the evacuation orders and emergency teams’ preparations in advance of Irene dramatically contrasted to the after-the-fact scramble that marked FEMA’s Katrina response.

Even so, more than 48 hours after Irene made landfall early Saturday, about 4.5 million people remained without power in Washington, D.C., and 13 states from North Carolina to Maine. The death toll was at least 38, according to The Associated Press, and some rivers had yet to crest, meaning flooding might not be over.

Hundreds remained stranded in communities cut off by washed out roads, including at least 2,500 residents of remote Hatteras Island in North Carolina, where severed utility lines also left them without power. The only access to the island was via a ferry limited to emergency use.

Police in suburban Parsippany, N.J., had to rescue dozens of people who became trapped in two hotels Monday when a nearby lake spilled its banks and sent enough water into the streets and hotel parking lots to swallow vehicles. Evacuees included guests who had fled to the hotels after heeding advice to evacuate their homes in advance of Irene.

There were some signs of a return to normalcy. In New Jersey, Atlantic City’s casinos reopened. New York City’s subways churned into action in time for the morning commute after an unprecedented pre-emptive shutdown at noon Saturday. Buses returned to service, as did some commuter railroads, and the bell clanged at 9:30 a.m. to mark the opening of trading at the New York Stock Exchange.

For millions of people, though, normalcy was nowhere to be seen.

“We were expecting heavy rains,” said Bobbi-Jean Jeun of Clarksville, a rural hamlet near Albany, in upstate New York, AP reported. “We were expecting flooding. We weren’t expecting devastation. It looks like somebody set a bomb off.”
In a sense, Mother Nature did.

Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, said the heavy rains from Irene’s wide bands were “too much too soon.”

“You’re having a tremendous amount of run-off, and that’s all flowing into rivers. The rivers burst through their banks and flow into roads and properties,” he said.

Compounding the problem was that soil wet from recent rains couldn’t absorb Irene’s downpour. Once the soil had reached its saturation point, there wasn’t much that could be done to prevent floods, said Kristen Corbosiero, a professor of tropical meteorology at the University at Albany.

“It’s just about getting people out of the way and trying to minimize damage as much as possible.”

No one warned Valerie Becker, though. Becker, who lives beside the same Brattleboro brook that flooded Hodgdon’s home, looked out her second-story window at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday and saw logs floating across her lawn, along with her grandchildren’s toys. She rushed around her two-story house grabbing bedding and valuables.

 Posted by at 4:22 pm