Too School for Cool: In conclusion

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May 102013

Author: Allison LeCain

The time has come to write my last column of the year. As my graduation approaches, I can’t help feeling overwhelmed by emotions.


English: Cadets of the Air Force Academy Class...

English: Cadets of the Air Force Academy Class of 2003 celebrate at graduation ceremonies on May 28, 2003 as the Air Force Thunderbirds fly overhead. The 974 students marked the academy’s 45th graduating class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucky for me, when I’m overwhelmed by emotions I tend to shut them out, so they have not interfered with my work and school performance.

Still, I would like to get a little sappy. Graduating college is a big deal, and I’m even more proud to say I’m graduating with a job.

As myself and other senior rams flock into the real world, I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom.

I recently read 10 1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said. I recommend it to all seniors, as it lays out some points and words of inspiration that will get you through this transition.

Here are my favorites:

  1. Don’t try to fix the world. The author, Charles Wheelan, explains that it too much of a burden to try to change the world. We should simply have a goal to not mess up the world. If I can do that, I think I’ve succeeded, (although fixing the world would be cool).
  2. Always marry someone more intelligent than you. This way, you will never get bored. On the other hand, if I marry someone smarter than me, does that make me the stupid one? Or does it make them stupid for marrying someone less smart than them?

In conclusion, it’s ok to not have any direction. The next few years of life will be the hardest, but we’ll get through it.

I love you all for reading. Go Rams!


Too School for Cool: To share or not to share… dessert

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May 032013

Author: Allison LeCain

It happens to everyone. You’re on a date with someone special – maybe you’ve just met or maybe you’ve been together for years – and the common question comes up.

“Would you like to split a dessert?”

This is a seemingly simple question, but it can be more complicated than you think. If you chose not to share, is that thought of as selfish? And if you chose to share, will you be able to fulfill your sweet tooth?

Luckily, through my own experience I have devised dessert relationship stages for you to follow.

Stage One: Skeptical Sharers

English: unrecognized dessert.

Decadent dessert. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When dating someone new, at first you’re unsure of where your future is heading. You’re not committed, so why commit half your dessert to them? It’s perfectly acceptable to not share a dessert when you first start dating someone.

Stage Two: Sharing Sweethearts

As your relationship reaches official status, you become more apt to share. The sun shines every day, the birds chirping at dawn sound like a melody, and you can’t get enough of your lover. You want to share your whole world with them, which means it’s time to share dessert. You should always offer the last bite to your lover to show how much you care.

Stage Three: Stingy Sweeties

When you’ve been dating someone for a year or more, you know each other well and are completely comfortable around each other. At this point, you become a little stingy. Whose turn is it this time to get the last bite of dessert? Who gets to pick which dessert you have this time? At this point in your relationship you are ready to get separate desserts again. This doesn’t mean you care less about each other or that you don’t love each other anymore. It simply means that two desserts are better than one.

Too School for Cool: Is North Korea making you fat?

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Apr 262013

Author: Allison LeCain

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

Fresh vegetables are important components of a healthy diet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently watched a documentary called Hungry for Change. It’s a film about healthy, natural eating and what effects it can have on a person’s lifestyle.

I’d like to start by saying that my friends and I watch a lot of documentaries, like A LOT. If you have Netflix, you’ll understand. Over my many viewings I’ve learned various things about the film industry, sushi, war, and food, but Hungry for Change is the first documentary that has truly inspired me to make a change in my life.

I’m not an unhealthy person – I’m not overweight, I don’t eat a lot of junk food or sugar, and soda is not a part of my diet. The lifestyle change outlined in the film isn’t about weight for me. It’s about putting things in my body that will help my energy, skin, and organs in the long-run.

The diet idea that the film presents is that people should not eat any foods that have additives and chemicals. All foods we consume should be found naturally in the wild. If there’s an ingredient you can’t pronounce, it doesn’t belong in your body. This is how our bodies were made to eat, so why shouldn’t we honor that?

Hungry for Change reveals secrets that the food industry doesn’t want you to know, such as addictive food additives. Many people crave sugar or salt on a weekly, or even daily, basis. That’s because some companies put in artificial ingredients that act like nicotine to make you want more. The reality is, if we stop eating those foods, our body will quickly learn to live without them and we will stop craving them.

The film interviews people who have survived cancer and obesity due to changing their diet. As I said before, I’m not unhealthy, but I do get frequent headaches and bouts of stress. The documentary explains that when people are stressed, they tend to eat. That is the opposite of what a person should do to control stress levels.

The fact is, there are a lot of stresses in our world today. Our country is in constant fear of being bombed, our economy is still at a halt, and school work piles up to an uncontrollable level. In our world today, stress is all around us. By eating natural, organic foods, you can be sure that whatever you’re putting into your body is helping your overall health and wellbeing.


Learn more about Hungry for Change at

Going Green: Recycling in your community

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Apr 152013

Author: Allison LeCain

Colorado State University Flag

Colorado State University Flag (Photo credit: tylerkron)

Colorado State University is considered a ‘green’ university, but it wasn’t always that way. In the past 15 years, CSU’s recycling rate has gone from 26 percent to 57 percent, ranking in the top 5 percent of recycle-friendly universities in America for the past 10 years, according to RecycleMania.

We’ve adopted changes over the years that make recycling easier, such as single-stream recycling, trash audits and participating in RecycleMania. Now CSU recycles almost two million pounds each year, according to CSU’s green website.

What is RecycleMania?

RecycleMania is a nation-wide competition that promotes recycling and waste-reduction at universities. The event takes place over eight weeks each spring. Recycling and trash is measured on a per-capita basis each week. CSU took 16th place out of 630 universities last year.

During this time, there’s an on-campus competition between residence halls and university apartments to see which have the best recycling rate. Each RecycleMania starts off with a trash audit. A day’s worth of trash is collected from all residence halls and sorted. Last year’s audit revealed that 75 percent of what was thrown away was trash and 25 percent could have been recycled, according to Sheela Backen, CSU’s Integrated Solid Waste Program Manager.

How CSU went ‘green’

In the ’80s, CSU didn’t have a single-stream recycling system. Nearly all materials were trashed in a landfill. In 1990, CSU received a $26,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Energy Conservation that allowed them to start a new recycling program, called Recycle Colorado State. Since then, the number of dumpsters has been cut in half and the first automated recycling truck was purchased. CSU switched to single-stream recycling in 2007, making the recycling rate go up to 57 percent.

Backen has taken the lead role in changing the way faculty and students view sustainability on campus. She focuses on educating students so they know what to recycle and care enough to do so. One of the common misconceptions she says students have about recycling is pizza boxes. She said as long as you clean the pizza out of it, the boxes can be recycled, as can bottles and their caps.

Though the recycling rate is rising, Backen thinks the university can do even more for sustainability.

“One of the things I really want to work on is compost,” Backen said. “We’re already doing some compost, but we can expand into paper towels and stuff like that to take more stuff out of the landfills. Every year they’re supposed to add another commodity we can recycle in Larimer County – anything that they’ll add, we’ll add.”

How does recycling work?

According to Backen, the recycling starts out in bins around campus. The custodial staff empties those into larger bins outside, which are picked up by trucks. Trucks pick up recycling daily from Lory Student Center and two to three times a week for other buildings. Those trucks take the recyclables to the Larimer County Landfill, where they have an Intermediate Processing Center. There the material is bailed and shipped to Denver’s Waste Management plant. Then a machine uses electric eyes to sort the recyclables.

“They can tell a white piece of paper from a pink piece of paper – it’s really neat,” Backen said. “They use magnets for steel cans and blow air at the aluminum cans to pop them over into where they want them.”

At the end of the machine’s line, there are people pulling out materials that are not suited for recycling. Backen said the recycling process costs more because of the trash people throw in. She suggests taking the time to rinse recyclables of food material so they make it through the recycling inspection.

What can you recycle at CSU?

  • Clean #1 through #7 plastic bottles, tubes, containers
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Aluminum and steel cans
  • Metal jar lids and bottle caps
  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Aluminum foil
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Office paper
  • Phone books
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Brown paper grocery bags
  • Paperboard
  • Some electronics upon request

National recycling rate according to Fort Collins Government

Aluminum cans 51.2%
Glass Bottles 22.0%
Steel Cans 62.0%


Living out the legacy

By working hard to educate future students and faculty, the recycling rate will continue to grow and CSU will become a waste-free campus.

“If we’re composting, and giving the compost back to our grounds people, we’re completing that loop so everything that we create on campus is used on campus,” Backen said.

In knowing what to recycling, the CSU community can reach this goal in 20 years, Backen explained.

“People just need to concentrate on what they’re doing – they just need to get it into the right bin.”


Too School for Cool: Sledding season isn’t over

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Apr 082013

Author: Allison LeCain

Ice sledding

Ice blocking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spring is finally upon us. The season of ice, snow and sledding may seem long-gone, but with a new season comes a new method of sliding down a hill.

Ice blocking is a western sport where people sit on blocks of ice and slide down hills, much like sledding. In many areas that do not receive snow, the sport of ice blocking is called ‘reversed sledding.’

You can buy ice blocks at many grocery stores or make them yourself. A good ice block is generally a rectangle shape around six inches tall and one and a half feet long.

I recommend putting a small towel over the ice block before sitting down to avoid the dreaded wet-butt. Also, wear clothes you don’t care about – they will get muddy.

The art of ice blocking involves great balance, speed and bravery.  Many participants will fall off their blocks and get bruised and dirty. Consider the risk of injury before trying this at home. Also, there is no shame in wearing a helmet.

Once you have all the required materials, find a steep hill. At the top of the hill, sit down on your ice block, have a friend give you a little push, and down the hill you’ll fly. It is recommended to have ice blocking races – a little competition never hurt anyone.

Ice blocking is best done after dark, as the sport is frowned upon and illegal in some parks and cities due to the wear-and-tear effect it has on grass. Wherever you decide to go, ice blocking is a great springtime activity.


Too School for Cool: Keeping your ex-beau as a buddy

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Mar 152013

Author: Allison LeCain

Ex-boyfriends – we all have them.  Some you may want to hide from, while others may be worth keeping around.  As long as one of you didn’t screw up big time in the relationship, breaking up doesn’t have to mean never seeing each other again.  Many people tell horror stories about how disastrous it was trying to be friends with their ex-boyfriend, but that’s probably because they weren’t following the rules.

While being friends with an ex can work, it certainly doesn’t mean the same thing as being friends with just anyone.  The fact that the two of you have been intimate changes the dynamics of the friendship. This rarely means that the two of you can spend all day together, multiple times a week, trading stories and sharing a beer. You will probably never be quite as buddy-buddy as that. But this friendship can mean that you are on good terms, post a “Happy Birthday” message on each other’s Facebook wall, and even hang out occasionally. Here’s how it’s done.

Get Some Space

The most important rule of thumb after a break up is to take some time apart. Don’t call him, don’t text him – don’t have any form of contact with your ex-boyfriend for a few months. Just because you are broken up does not mean that the romantic charge of the relationship has vanished. This will give time to not only get over him, but evaluate whether or not he is worth having a friendship with.

Generally this process takes a couple of months. A good rule to go by is if you get extremely jealous or sad at the thought of your ex-boyfriend having a new woman is his life, you are not ready to be friends.

Don’t consider having a friendship with an ex who has cheated or was abusive in anyway. These people are not worth keeping around and your time will be better used finding new people that will make you happier.

Take it Slow

"Don't bring baggage from an ex-relations...

True story. (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

When you and your ex-beau decide it’s time to try to be friends, don’t jump in right where you left off. Take things slow by only seeing each other occasionally to ease your way into this new friendship. Don’t get too personal right away because this is where it can get tricky.

When you’re friends with an ex it can be very easy to fall into the ‘friends with benefits’ category, which is not a healthy situation for most people. By establishing normal friendship boundaries, you will be able to keep your ex-beau in your life while still being emotionally ready for romance with a new guy.

When It’s Over, It’s Over

After a break-up, you can’t hold on to the past. If you truly want to get back together with your ex, then make that perfectly clear. Do not use a friendship as an excuse to see your ex, hoping that he will change his mind, stringing you along as you

When you’re ready to just be friends with an ex-boyfriend, keep a close watch on your emotions as to not let the relationship drag on in its half-life. That way you can truly enjoy each others company in a friendly way and not suffer any emotional damage.

Too School for Cool: A former vegetarian’s best burgers

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Mar 082013

Author: Allison LeCain

Burger and fries at Larkburger. Photo by John Sheesley.

Burger and fries at Larkburger. Photo by John Sheesley.

A wise man once said that bacon is the number one killer of vegetarians. He spoke the truth, as bacon was the first meat I ate after being a vegetarian for five years.

As I ate that deliciously crunchy strip of bacon, served to me on a white, cracked plate at IHOP, I thought to myself, “Oh holy god of meat, what have I been missing all these years? This has to be the best thing I’ve ever tasted!” That is, until I tried a bacon burger.

Whoever thought of the magnificent combination that is bacon and a beef patty on a bun must have been a genius. At first it seemed overwhelming for me, a former veg-head, to be consuming two types of meat at once, but when I let go of my worries and took that first bight, it was like reliving my first bacon strip all over again.

Where did I get this burger you may ask? Stuft Burger Bar. Located on College Avenue in Old Town Fort Collins, you can get any combination of amazing burger toppings that you can imagine. You even get to pick from 15 sauces and six types of buns.

The topping choices are what make each burger at Stuft the best burger you’ve ever had, but the burger itself also tastes great. This makes Stuft a tough burger to beat, and my number one burger choice in town.

Coming in second is Larkburger. While they may not have the topping selection of their competitor, their burgers are seasoned to perfection. They also serve truffle burgers and fries, making them unique.

When I’m in the mood for some meat and peanuts, I go to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I don’t think the quality or selection of burgers are as good as its competitors, but its funky vibe and peanut gallery still makes it my third choice for burgers.

Bacon will always be my first love as an omnivore, but I find that it’s consumed best with its friend – the cow.


Too School for Cool: Wash-out your Facebook

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Feb 262013

Author: Allison LeCain

As a graduating senior, I’ve been applying for a plethora of jobs lately. This generally requires sending someone a cover letter, resume and writing clips. Sadly I know that the investigation process probably doesn’t end there.

According to a 2012 survey by CareerBuilder, 37 percent of companies investigate potential employees using social media. More than 65 percent of these companies will look through Facebook profiles, which is why I think the new app, Facewash, is going to be a great resource for anyone trying to find employment.

Facewash is an app created by Camden Fullmer, Daniel Gur and David Steinberg. The idea of the app is to get rid of any content on your profile that you might not want a future employer to see. It is possible to simply clean out a profile manually by going through your timeline and deleting inappropriate statuses and photos, but Facewash handles this process for you.

Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005

Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yahoo! Finance explained in an article about the new app that Facewash flags swear words and sexual and racist language that appears in statuses, comments, likes, and links on your page. Currently the app will only flag a photo as inappropriate if the tags or comments for the photo imply it as such. For example, if there is a photo of you chugging beer at a party and the caption says “getting wasted on a Tuesday”, then Facewash will flag it. However, if there are not comments, a photo like this won’t get flagged. Never fear though, because Facewash is stilling under development and soon will be able to flag photos with red cups and beer bottles.

Using Facewash can help your profile to be ready for employer approval. Currently the app is free to use, so why not try it? In general I’ve tried to keep my Facebook very professional during my college years, but sometimes things slip in. Facewash is like hiring a little assistant to clean up your mistakes.

Backpacking essentials for survival

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Feb 222013

Author: Allison LeCain

Backpacking pack at REI. Photo by Allison LeCain.

Backpacking pack at REI. Photo by Allison LeCain.

It’s always better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it when it comes to backpacking. Unfortunately you can only fit so much in a backpack. Boy Scouts are always prepared, but if you don’t have a Boy Scout in your life, turn to this guide to supply everything you may need for a spring backpacking adventure.

First things first — get a quality backpacking pack, preferably one with an attachable water-proof cover. These can range from $60 to $300. A backpacking pack is definitely an investment, but when you’re stuck on a mountain in the pouring rain, you’ll be glad to have a pack that could fit everything you need.

Sleeping bags are necessary for overnight backpacking trips. It gets really cold at night, even in the summer. Most sleeping bags are around $75. If you’re looking for true comfort, get a sleeping pad for $40.

For long trips, a water purification and cooking stove will be a must. Starting at $60, these allow you to cook food, so you’ll be eating more than just trailmix. Make sure to buy cooking fuel, as well.

First aid kits are necessary and can be made for cheap from things around the house, starting at $7. You never know what you might get into on a backpacking trip, so it’s important to be prepared for injuries. You’ll be far away from a hospital and may not have cell phone reception, which may require you to play doctor for the weekend.

Water bottle is the most essential item while backpacking. Photo by Allison LeCain

Water bottle is the most essential item while backpacking. Photo by Allison LeCain

Bear-proof food containers are required when backpacking in a national park, such as Rocky Mountain. These are pricy, running for $80, and won’t fit easily in a backpack. To avoid this issue, backpack in a non-national park area. Other options to avoid interactions with bears include tying your food high on a branch, away from your camping area.

One of the most obvious, but also most needed pieces of equipment, is a water bottle or bladder. Staying hydrated is key is remaining healthy and fit for the hike. Other much needed items include a compass, a map, sunscreen, insect repellent and soap.

While The Weather Channel is helpful, it can be hard to predict what type of clothes you may need while backpacking. Bring layers, including one that is waterproof, and roll them instead of folding them. This will save space in your backpack.

Invest in a Swiss Army Knife. These knives come with seven or more different tools and cost about $30. This single tool can open a can, cut meat or fabric, pick out a splinter, and even open a bottle of wine. Genius.

A headlamp will come in handy while backpacking. Photo by Allison LeCain.

A headlamp will come in handy while backpacking. Photo by Allison LeCain.

There’s no electricity in the wilderness, and the best hands-free way to light up the world is a headlamp. A headlamp can be as cheap as $20 and will really come in handy. Using a headlamp is also a lot safer than starting a fire in a forest, although it’s good to bring tinder in case a fire is necessary. Bring extra batteries too, just in case.

Dehydrated foods are best to pack because they don’t take up much weight or space. This includes foods such as granola bars, oatmeal, dried fruits, hard cheese, sausage and pasta. All of these options can be eaten raw or cooked with a portable stove.

**Editors note: prices shown were gathered from REI and may vary in other outdoor stores.