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!


Everyday Explorations: CSU’s Forestry and Natural Resources Buildings

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May 082013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

If there’s one thing I learned from this week’s exploration, it’s that bridges make buildings infinitely more awesome. I originally set out to explore Forestry, but when I found the second-floor bridge to Natural Resources, I couldn’t resist. And seeing as this is my last post of the semester, I figured the bigger the exploration the better.

A large variety of leaves and branches are on display near Forestry's main entrance.

A large variety of leaves and branches are on display near Forestry’s main entrance.

With the trees around campus finally sprouting their leaves, it felt like a good time to check out the forestry building. I went in through the main entrance off of West Drive and was greeted by a shockingly new space for a building constructed in 1937. The walls were painted a pleasant, soft green; the hallway floors were done in a shiny, beige wood with stone tile running along the edges; round, modern light fixtures hung from the crown-molded ceiling down the length of the main hallway. This was quite possibly one of the newest old spaces on campus that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing.

This second-floor bridge is a convenient way to travel between Forestry and Natural Resources.

This second-floor bridge is a convenient way to travel between Forestry and Natural Resources.

Immediately to my left and right were hallways lined with tiled squares displaying the preserved leaves of probably a couple hundred plant species. After admiring some of these, I ventured down the main hallway. Old black and white photos hung on the walls in sharp contrast with a large TV screen displaying department information.

As I was busy taking pictures, someone came in through the front doors. Fearing that he would ask me what I was doing or if I was lost, I scurried around the nearest corner and happened upon the basement steps.

Not wanting to turn around and look more lost, I decided I might as well check it out. It was a strange space that seemed more like a basement you would find in a normal house. The ceilings were much lower than in the rest of the building, and they were crowded with an unsettling array of pipes that led into a room with even more unsettling building guts. The rest of the space served as storage.

I crept back up to the first floor and found a stairway leading to the second. These hallways looked a bit older, with the exception of the nice wood and tile floors. I was surprised to find that even the classrooms in Forestry looked newly renovated.

The second floor was unexciting until I remembered that from the outside I had seen a bridge connecting Forestry with the Warner College of Natural Resources. A woman I saw in the hallway pointed me in that direction.

Eagerly, I walked through the two metal doors out onto the bridge. The north side had windows, but the south side was open and provided an excellent view of Sherwood Forest and the sidewalk below. I drank in the fresh air for a moment and continued on into Natural Resources.

The main entrance area of Natural Resources has many earthy qualities.

The main entrance area of Natural Resources has many earthy qualities.

I explored the second floor for a bit, noting that the classrooms looked much older than those in Forestry. The walls were covered with all sorts of maps and posters, and display cases were filled with weathered equipment and geological artifacts.

I went up to the third floor through one of the cavernous concrete stairwells. It was up here that I got the best view of the front entryway. The space is somewhat difficult to describe – industrial, yet earthy. Cold, yet inviting. I think I got this feeling from the concrete coupled with the more natural elements. A small garden and pond sat beneath the gray, twisting staircase; sunlight filled the space from skylights up above; dark wood covered some walls, while others were covered in jagged stone bricks. A collection of tables and chairs sat below, and I realized that this would be a great place to come and relax.

I toured a few more hallways and decided to end my double exploration. Judging Forestry and Natural Resources from the outside, I had never expected to find what I did on the inside. The same has been true for all of the buildings I explored this semester. They’re all on the same campus, yet so wildly different from one another. The best part is that even though I’ve seen so many buildings, there are still so many left to discover.

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.

Everyday Explorations: CSU’s Education Building

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May 012013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

Unless you study education or social work, the education building is probably just one of those buildings that you often walk past on your way to classes. But what lies within those weathered, vine-covered walls? The question had been nagging at me for much of the semester as I passed by the building on my way to Clark C, so I finally decided it was time to go exploring.

The cozy lounge area lies on the north side of the second floor overlooking the Eddy lawn.

The cozy lounge area lies on the north side of the second floor overlooking the Eddy lawn.

I entered the education building through the door on the west side, which I quickly realized was not a main entrance. I found myself in a white concrete stairwell, not sure where to begin my journey. Tentatively, I walked up to the second floor, figuring I would start from the top and work my way down.

Like many of the older academic buildings on campus, the inside was mostly filled with offices and small classrooms – nothing too exciting. These hallways felt especially school-like to me, though – the office doors had cute comics and signs on them, poster projects hung on the walls and colorful bulletin boards advertised department news. Perhaps aspiring teachers can get used to their future work environment while still in college.

I also found a quaint lounge area on the second floor – every building on campus seems to have one. Large windows overlooked the grassy area between Education and Eddy, and clusters of cozy-looking chairs filled either side of the space. There was even a small kitchen in the hallway right before the lounge area. It all felt very homey.

The lounge area also had a staircase in it, so I took that down to the first floor. As I explored, I found more classrooms and offices, but these were mainly related to the department of social work. I also found what must be the front entrance to the building (on the south side) – the space was filled with tables and chairs, a couple of computers and signs for navigating the building. Finding nothing else of note, I went down to the basement, but it turned out to be even less exciting – mainly just stark, white walls and a handful of classrooms.

Two of the benches on the north side of the building memorialize Sean William McGowan, who was a freshman in 2011.

Two of the benches on the north side of the building memorialize Sean William McGowan, who was a freshman in 2011.

It was the outside of Education that I found most intriguing. You’ve probably seen the east side – a few tables and chairs sit in front of a waterfall feature near the side of the building, and students can often be found hanging out there when the weather is nice. The wooden benches on the north side are also a somewhat popular place to relax, and I also noticed that they’re memorials to a couple of people who have passed away. I think it’s a touching gesture, and now I’m curious about whether or not the other benches on campus serve the same purpose.

I snapped a few more pictures of the north side of Education (and the random primate painted under one of the windows) and went on my way. While I probably won’t have a reason to go in there again, at least it’s now something more to me than just another building I pass by. Hopefully this will be true for all or most of the campus buildings by the time I graduate – I just have to keep exploring.

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

Everyday Explorations: CSU’s Visual Arts Building

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Apr 242013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

It’s gray. Dreary. Dull.

From the outside, that is.

The west entrance of the Visual Arts building

The west entrance of the Visual Arts building

The Visual Arts building may not appear to be the ideal place for fostering imagination, but the inside tells a different story. Just walking through the main stretch of the building, you’ll find an impressive array of artwork on display – drawings, paintings, sculptures, pottery, photography, you name it.

Constructed in 1974, Visual Arts stands on the south side of Pitkin Street across from Braiden Hall. The sprawling complex is home to a number of classrooms, studios and workshops where students can build and master their artistic skills. Having enjoyed art classes in high school, I was particularly excited for this week’s exploration.

Colorful pipes run along the ceiling in the main hallway.

Colorful pipes run along the ceiling in the main hallway.

I entered the building through the west doors as several other students were making their way to 8 a.m. classes. Again realizing that I would look like a strange tourist for taking pictures in front of everyone, I cut into a hallway off to my right until traffic died down. It wasn’t the most spectacular first impression – just a bunch of lockers, offices and some studios. It actually reminded me very much of the art hallway in the high school I attended freshman year.

This thought struck me again as I toured other parts of the building – the slanted skylights, exposed pipes zigzagging across the ceiling, quaint courtyards outside and numerous projects lining the walls were all eerily familiar. If my high school’s art department were to take over the rest of the building, this is what it would look like.

Paintings line the walls.

Paintings line the walls.

As I made my way down the main corridor, I noticed a sign directing students to room F113, which, oddly enough, is where one of my journalism classes will be next semester. I followed the signs past some more offices and classrooms only to find an average-sized lecture hall, pointlessly far away from the rest of my classes next semester. At least I can look forward to admiring some of the artwork while I’m in the building.

I continued down the main stretch, snapping photos of some paintings and pottery. I passed a small counter called the Sova Cafe, which advertised bagels, cookies, coffee and more. I imagined what the place must look like on a normal afternoon – students hanging out on the hallway benches or lounging in the courtyards outside, probably drawing in sketchbooks as they have lunch. Being an art student in this building must be pretty nice.

Even the landscaping is artsy.

Even the landscaping is artsy.

I eventually came to another entrance area facing Pitkin Street. An old, red telephone booth stood by the doors, as well as a wiry sculpture of a human body. As I kept walking down the hall, I saw a few weathered pieces of art equipment and more projects filling display cases. I came to the east doors and turned right into a hallway containing more drawings, lockers and studios. I was amazed at how tall the studio doors were – they practically went up to the ceiling!

After I took a few more photos, my exploration was over. I was pleasantly surprised to find such a vibrant, artsy environment inside that cold, gray brick exterior. If you have time to check out the visual arts building, or if you end up with a miscellaneous lecture there, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with what you see.

Everyday Explorations: The CSU Bakeshop

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Apr 162013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

Two to four hundred dozen. That’s the number of cookies the Colorado State University Bakeshop doles out to campus dining centers each day, in addition to a wide variety of cakes, pies, doughnuts and other sugary treats. And it all happens from a fairly obscure location – the back of Edwards Hall.

The bakeshop has a separate room for making gluten-free goods.

The bakeshop has a separate room for making gluten-free goods.

As a freshman who eats (and works) at the dining centers, I’m quite familiar with the vast quantity of available desserts. Since I’ve always been curious about where they come from, I finally decided to set up a quick tour with the bakeshop manager, Joan Smith. So while this exploration wasn’t as everyday as the rest, I still found it equally fascinating.

Bakeshop employees prepare dozens of hoagie rolls for Braiden.

Bakeshop employees prepare dozens of hoagie rolls for Braiden’s kitchen.

As you would expect, the first thing that hit me upon entering the bakeshop was the delightful, sugary smell. The second thing was the flurry of activity – just about every area of the kitchen had a staff member or two prepping a different mixture or dough. I found Smith and she began showing me around.

We first passed by a station where banana cream pie was being made, which I noticed in Ram’s Horn later that day. According to Smith, everything goes out fresh each morning – employees arrive as early as 2 a.m. to begin baking breads.

We then stopped by a student hourly who was placing cookie dough onto baking sheets. Seeing as the dining halls have a seemingly endless supply of cookies, I had always wondered whether or not the bakeshop makes them from scratch. Not surprisingly, they don’t – the pre-portioned dough comes from Otis Spunkmeyer and gets baked at the bakeshop (or even at the dining halls if they happen to run out). Because the dining halls order so many cookies, Smith said, the bakeshop itself wouldn’t be able to handle making them all from scratch. They do, however, make some cookies themselves, such as the popular hippie cookie (which happens to be a favorite of mine) sold at Ram’s Horn Express.

Smith showed me a number of other baked goods being made. There were hoagie rolls being prepared that would be sent to Braiden’s dining center, large chocolate chip muffins to be sent to Ram’s Horn Express and T-Dex, as well as cookie bars, tiramisu cakes and chocolate cake – all from scratch. And all of this gets done by a total of nine student hourlies and nine state classified employees.

Freshly baked tiramisu cakes

Freshly baked tiramisu cakes

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” Smith said.

She also told me that students studying food and nutrition sciences occasionally do practicums at the bakeshop, and she said she feels privileged to provide such an experience.

I feel privileged myself just being able to get a firsthand look at where CSU’s delectable treats are crafted. I had never imagined that such a large operation could take place in the back portion of Edwards, let alone practically in secret – I’ve asked several of my friends if they knew where the bakeshop was, and most of them had no idea. But from the wee hours of the morning all throughout the year, CSU Bakeshop employees work their magic to provide campus with its fresh, sugary staples.

Everyday Explorations: CSU’s Natural & Environmental Sciences Building

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Apr 102013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

If you’re like me, the most familiar thing about the Monfort Quad is the grassy rectangle itself – but what about the buildings around the Quad? There’s Clark B on the west side, Plant Sciences on the north, Animal Sciences on the south, and that huge building on the east side with the waterfall: the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building.

The waterfall on the west side of the building

The waterfall on the west side of the building

Since the building’s name is not visible from the Quad and I never had a good reason to venture to the other side of it, I hadn’t known its purpose until a friend mentioned it. According to the architectural timeline in Johnson Hall, the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building was constructed in 1994 and is home to the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and various other research labs.

A landscape architecture studio

A landscape architecture studio

Before entering the building, I admired the distinctive waterfall on its west side.  It’s no wonder that the landscape architecture department is housed there. While no water was running, I could easily picture it cascading down the side of the large cylindrical tower, accentuating the landscaping below and bringing to life the concrete “river” that winds through the sidewalk.

Coincidentally, the landscape architecture portion of the building is the first part I encountered. Located on the first floor of the building’s north side, the area features several large studios that remind me of the art classrooms I’ve seen in high school, yet twice as large. Impressively detailed architectural drawings littered a number of metal racks hanging from the ceiling, while drafting equipment filled the much of the table space below. Seeing such enormous studios makes me question why I also found a landscape architecture area in Shepardson, so I may have some further investigating to do.

And, like Shepardson, the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building also has its fair share of locked doors – but these are locked for a good reason. Throughout much of the building, I encountered warnings of dangerous laboratory equipment, required safety attire, quarantined soils and even radioactive material. This all told me one thing: serious scientific business happens here.

However, not all parts of the building pose potential safety hazards. When I visited the third floor via the main staircase on the south side, I encountered a space that reminded me of a children’s play room in a nature and science museum. A tiny solar system hung in the far left corner, while six small, round tables each featured a different area of discovery. When I looked farther down the hall and saw a sign for The Little Shop of Physics, the playroom’s existence made a lot more sense. (I’m assuming it’s a secondary location of The Little Shop of Physics because I believe there is also one in the Engineering Building.)

The "play room" on the third floor

The “play room” on the third floor

Even though there was not much else of note in that labyrinth of laboratories, I’m glad I made a point to explore the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building – the east side of the Quad is now demystified. After seeing so many laboratories in just one building on campus, I now understand why CSU is well known for its scientific research. While CSU’s older buildings hold university’s history, its newer buildings hold much of its potential.

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.


Apr 082013

Author: Nicole Beale

Sell-out artist and local band, Lotus, played at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins on Wed., April 3. The Fort Collins area responded well to the band returning to the Aggie, last visiting in 2008. With a few bumps in the road, Lotus managed to pack in two full sets with songs from a variety of albums. If you missed the show, check out some of their live recordings and their latest album Build.

Jesse Miller, front and center, playing bass guitar.  Photo by Lauren Martin

Jesse Miller, front and center, playing bass guitar.
Photo by Lauren Martin

Lotus released their latest album, Build, in the middle of their tour on Feb. 19. Build came from about 25 songs that were recorded in both St. Louis, MO and Philadelphia, PA.

“What we usually do in the studio is we use old school tape. Do the drums, guitar live and then over dub in the keys and add percussion later. We try to capture that live aspect,” said Luke Miller who plays guitar and keys. The band picked ten songs that had the same electronic up-beat sound, and it became Build.

Build has received both praise and criticism. Some iTunes reviewers have called it more electronic dance music than original Lotus.

“You know we’re just a band that never wanted to just do one thing — we always want to grow and evolve. We play all of our new songs and all of our old songs. I feel that were expanding our range and making our show more of a journey with more variety. I just never wanted to do the same thing twice,” Miller said.

They have plenty of new things for all lovers of Lotus coming out soon. Lotus’ next album is inspired by their love of hip-hop and down-tempo music. One of the songs the band featured at the Aggie, Cannon in the Heavens, will be on their next album. Luke Miller mentioned that the band will most likely be coming out with a series of EPs featuring five or six songs that have a similar theme.

Lotus has played an average of at least 60 shows every year since the band first began to get popular. In this winter/spring tour alone they played 47 shows, taking only a few days’ rest.

“We circled the whole country and we’re finishing it off in Colorado.  The first show was -12 degrees and now were getting into some spring weather finally,” Miller said.

Luke Miller jammin' on keys ready to switch to guitar.  Photo by Lauren Martin

Luke Miller jamming on keys ready to switch to guitar.
Photo by Lauren Martin

The band did this tour a little differently, hitting some smaller venues. Lotus didn’t go to Denver, but gave some other communities around Colorado the opportunity to experience the show.

“We have more fans in Colorado than anywhere else. It’s always one of the highlights of our tour,” Miller said.

The band packed in two full sets at the Aggie Theater after delaying the show as long as they could. New underage drinking policy forces minors to be breathalyzed before they can enter the venue. The sold-out Aggie Theater had a line out the door of people waiting to get in and one operating breathalyzer. Some people said they waited for over an hour.

“We had a plan in place to have an entrance for 21 and over and under 21, but people just don’t listen. We are trying to get new breathalyzers that don’t take so long to heat up so the process will move faster,” said Kyle Stych, manager of the Aggie.

Aside from the long line, the vibe that Fort Collins has married so well with Lotus vibes.

“The environment was great because you could be so close to the band and feed off their good vibes and music,” said Brittany Jackson, a CSU student. An Aggie theater show is unique. Since the venue holds only 650, you will be surrounded by friends that love the same band and just want to have a good time.

“The Aggie is so small the heat was overwhelming and became a sweaty mess, but it was worth dancing all night regardless,” Jackson said.

Check out one of the hits of their new album:”></iframe>

Set List:

Set 1

Blacklight Sunflare

Middle Road



Sodium Vapor


Moon Set

72 hours awake


Set 2

We are Now Connected




Cannon In the Heavens


Bubonic Tonic

Age of Inexperience



Bush Pilot