Update: Thanks for the plugs, Manda and Melissa, on your respective Haiti blog entries.

1. Yele.org — Led by Haitian musician Wyclef Jean (think Hips Don’t Lie), Yéle Haiti has been around since 2005, bringing hope to Haiti through education, health, environment, and community development. Yéle has been funding and actively following through on small-scale projects to bring peace and love to Haitian communities, rather than violence and hate. Yéle got a big publicity boost from the recent earthquake in Haiti, estimated to have killed over 100,000 people. Donating your money to Yéle not only helps them bring more immediate relief to Haiti, you can also count on them to use any subsequent donations to help Haitians once, to be frank, the world has moved on.

2. Doctors Without Borders — Even before the earthquake, Haiti’s hospitals and healthcare system were tenuous at best. After the quake, what there was is completely destroyed. People are being rescued every day, but are dying because of lack of medical assistance. Doctors Without Borders is sending doctors to Haiti as fast as possible to take care of the injured, but they need funds to pay for food, travel, equipment, etc. Donating here allows medical professionals to save hundreds or thousands of lives.

3. UNICEF — UNICEF helps children in over one-hundred countries to provide them with sanitary conditions, food and education, but this link will allow you to donate to Haitian children in particular. Money donated to UNICEF will help Haitian children stranded or orphaned by the earthquake get the resources they need not just now to survive, but throughout their lives so they can grow up and hopefully be successful and not remain in destitution.

4. Mercy Corps — Mercy Corps has been helping earthquake victims since 1979, so you can be sure that donating money here will be going towards fast-acting experts who know exactly what needs to happen and how to get things done. Mercy Corps has been flying out members of their staff of professionals, numbering to about 3,700 individuals, and even more are here at home planning and executing missions to help Haiti in the most effective ways possible as swiftly as possible. The professionals of Mercy Corps are engineers, financial analysts, drivers, community organizers, project managers, public health experts, administrators, social entrepreneurs and logisticians; you can be sure your donation is going to people who know what to do with it.

5. The Red Cross — The Red Cross has been around since 1881, helping victims of devastation as well as being involved in community services, military support, blood collection and creating educational programs to promote health, safety and well-being. The Red Cross has always been quick to react to a crisis, and Haiti’s earthquake is no different. While you can’t be sure the money you donate is going to Haiti, you can be sure money and resources are going to Haiti from The Red Cross, and any money you do donate will be helping people in need.

Want more links? Here are some great blog entries, websites and news articles listing ways to help Haiti:

Can’t afford to donate? You can spread awareness! Write your own blog entry, post on message boards, spam facebook and twitter — let people see that it’s a BIG DEAL. Maybe your message will inspire someone else to donate. Here, let me help: Click to tweet: 5 Links: To Help Haiti | Greydove.org


I had my first day of classes yesterday, which involved the obligatory “Here’s the syllabus” speech from all four of my professors. This semester is unlike any one I’ve had before, where all of my work revolved around studying for exams and taking them. I had hardly any papers to write — I always felt so lucky. Well, my hell semester has come. I have at least six group projects and ten additional papers to write, not to mention all the required assignments for my Business Writing class, which will probably add another ten or so papers. The good news is, all of the classes are things that directly relate to my future. I’m pretty excited about everything I’m going to learn. Hopefully it will help me get through this semester!

Tomorrow is the first meeting of my new research team. If any of you remember me mentioning it, I used to be part of a research team within the psychology department here that looked at the effects of sleep deprivation on performance. I joined the team because there were no other groups directly related to my field of interest (I/O Psychology), but this new group just popped up last semester, so I decided to drop the sleep research and join this team instead. Here’s part of the email the advisor sent me that explains what the program is about:

The research program will initially center around the role of advice in decision making. This kind of research has implications for a wide variety of fields. Companies pay consultants large sums of money for advice (without much data showing that this advice helps the company), investors pay for ‘expert’ stock tips, etc.

Decision makers often seek advice from others before deciding on a particular course of action, but rarely use this advice optimally. In particular, people are more willing to use advice from an ‘expert,’ and are far more likely to use advice if they had to pay for it- and the more they paid for the advice, the more they seem to value it.

My first research project tackles a couple of competing explanations for this ‘paid advice effect,’ as well as a couple of other advice hypotheses. The field is fairly new, which I find tremendously exciting! It means that there are a lot of (relatively) easy questions left to answer, and we may be able to make one or more important discoveries.

This has tons of implications for the future! I think it could be really influential in future business practices if we find any ground-breaking results.

In other news, I’ve been doing my leg stretches and eating healthy as per my resolutions for 2010. I’ve been keeping track of what I eat through an app on my iPhone called SparkPeople, which is an organization that isn’t solely based on losing weight. That’s really nice, because a lot of places that do food tracking tend to focus on weight loss, which isn’t what I’m interested in. SparkPeople is focused on just being healthy and, if it’s what you need to do, losing weight. I made some really delicious squash soup last night, and I’ve been eating it every night for dinner. I figure the leftovers will hold me over until next week.

Tonight I went to the gym with my friend for the first time in a LONG time, and it was nice to be back on the elliptical trainer. I felt like a chump only going 3.5 mph when everyone else was going like 5 mph, but I can’t go that fast anymore because of my knee injury. But, I think the exercise will allow me to get to that point soon.

Even though I’ve only been doing this healthy thing for a week, I’m starting to feel good already. It’s amazing what treating your body right can do for you physically AND mentally!

(In other news, props to Barack Obama for taking responsibility for the failed terrorist attack, rather than blaming the previous administration.)


I refer you to my first resolution entry, Resolution Time! from the beginning of 2009. Since I haven’t blogged in two months (or something like that, whatever), I decided the 2010 was a brilliant time to brush off the ol’ blog and have at it again! So, my resolutions in review:

1. Work to being the confident individual that exists somewhere within me

Did this happen? Yes and no. I do think that I’ve become more comfortable with myself, but I don’t think I have gotten myself to the point where I am completely happy and disregard what people could possibly think of me. I’ve come far in the fact that I find myself to be a loving, beautiful and creative individual, but I definitely still feel “flawed” in some aspects.

2. Become healthier

This was better at the beginning of the year. Honestly, I was fairly healthy initially! I went to the gym, cut back on my soda intake, drank tons more water and opted for healthier foods and snacks. Then, I came home and in my house full of avid soda drinkers, I fell off the bandwagon. And then, when I went back to school, I started drinking more healthy beverages, but maintained my soda intake and absolutely bottomed out on the types of food I was eating. Also, I hurt my knee this summer, which hindered my ability to exercise. So, while I’ve maintained my shape, it’s a little wigglier than I like.

3. Keep a regular journal

Oh, failed on all counts. Let’s not even discuss it.

4. Finally get that 4.0 semester GPA

I did it! TWICE!!

So, I didn’t do as well as I hoped to do with my resolutions, but I like turning over a new leaf as the begins its next revolution about the earth. So, for 2010…

  1. Keep up the 4.0 semesters
  2. Graduate in December
  3. Heal my knee injury and get into better shape by going to the gym at least three times a week
  4. Eat healthier, cut back on sodas, increase my water intake
  5. Blog or write in a journal at least once a week
  6. Broaden my musical horizons by listening to artists I hear anybody talking about
  7. Read fifty books… And review them here!
  8. Make it to 2011!

So? What are your new year resolutions?


Neglected

02Oct09

This isn’t really an “I’m sorry for not blogging!!!” post. It’s more of a why I’m not blogging post.

School started up again about a month and a half ago in August… I can’t believe it’s already October! Insanity. But, I’m taking 19 credit hours and they require a lot of reading and work. I’m working on two semester-long research projects simultaneously, one for my advanced experimental psychology class (Peception of Optimism’s Effects on Performance) and for my extra-curricular research team (Gender Differences in Spatial Ability Under Total Sleep Deprivation Conditions). Obviously, the research for two papers in a semester is very time consuming… you need about fifteen sources to write a good introduction. I’m also putting a lot of work into these papers because, once finished, I can actually submit them for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. I don’t necessarily have high hopes that either will be published, but if they do get published, it would look amazing for graduate school.

I’ve also continued working at my job with the campus newspaper as the creative services director (which is a fancy title stating “I make ads for thirty bucks a week). I love working there. I’ve had a particularly difficult client where the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing, but I think we’ve finally straightened out what he wants exactly for his advertisement. I certainly hope so… I’ve redesigned an ad three times for him!

I’ve also joined a social sorority. Shock, horror, amazement, etc etc etc. I know, leave me alone :P But in all honesty, I really do love it. I feel close. I have friends that I go and do things with. I feel the sisterly bond. I actually helped plan a sisterhood retreat that we’re going on today through tomorrow morning, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

I’m getting a semi-hard time from some of my friends for being in a sorority because they see the stereotypes. And it’s not like sororities haven’t earned their stereotype — they have. The girls you think are in sororities are. But there aren’t that many of them, and most of us are just normal people who joined an organization with a group of people that will turn into really great friends. Because it’s not just “paying” for friends. That money goes to food, shirts, gifts, sisterhood events, parties, philanthropy and pays for us to work in our communities.

And uh. I have this thing called a life. It’s pretty cool. I rather like having it.

Also, I’m pretty sure I never mentioned it, but anyone following my Twitter knows. I managed to injure myself rather hellaciously back in July. I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to strain the inner retinaculum of my right knee. For everyone who isn’t in a biology or health profession, that means that I strained one of the tendons running parallel to my knee cap; the sole purpose of this tendon is to keep the kneecap in place. Well, if it’s all strained, it’s like a rubberband that’s all stretched out — so my kneecap is basically shifting over my knee joint every time I move it and it’s extremely painful (it’s called patellar subluxation). I’ve been going to physical therapy and I’m off the pain medications, but it still hurts. I’m trying to avoid having surgery, but I don’t know what will happen. I do lots of stretched every day and it allows me to move, but I’m not sure how much better it’s actually getting.

And that’s pretty much it! I’m definitely going to try to get back on the bandwagon on updating things. With any luck, I’ll clean my bedroom one of these days and take a few pictures so everyone can see my new apartment!


Summer?

01Aug09

I’ve only blogged a few times these last couple of months, because I’ve been pretty busy with my real life this summer. For the most part, I don’t really ramble about what’s going on with me because I don’t think it’s all that interesting. Unless something funny happens to me (see Words in Passing) or I just have a really bad run of things (see The Blog In Which I Complain About Everything), I normally write about things going on in the world or put up a delicious recipe. Or pictures. Pictures are nice, too. However, in my strenuous effort to procrastinate today, I decided I’d bring everyone up to date. I mean, really, my life hasn’t been that interesting this summer, but I think enough cool things happened over the past three months that I could make some sort of blog entry out of it.

First off, I’ve been working as an HR intern. Most of the stuff I do is filing and sending out letters to people in the company to keep them up to date on the standings of their benefits and such. Since I’m the intern, though, I do get the grunt work like running around and picking things up, faxing stuff, doing refunds and the like. But, it’s a pretty good environment and the money is nice. I’ve actually spent way too much money this summer updating my wardrobe when I SHOULD have been saving all that money for stuff I’ll need next semester at my new apartment. Which brings me to the next topic!

I’m officially moving into my very first apartment in two weeks. It’s where I’ll spend the rest of my undergrad studies, so basically two years. I’m really excited, and I am living with/nearby an abundance of friends. The apartment is spacious and inexpensive, but I think the location explains for that… this same apartment would cost a LOT more in a metropolitan area, but being in the remote foothills of South Carolina, they can only charge so much. But I adore it, and I can’t wait to decorate. Once I have everything set up, there will for SURE be a bunch of pictures and a large entry all about the process.

I’m really FREAKING OUT about all the stuff I need, though. I’ve been living in a dorm for the past two years off a food plan (or with my boyfriend, who buys food and I cook for him, so we both get a delicious and healthy meal… it’s a trade off), so I don’t really have any cooking utensils. Or dishes. Or ANYTHING. You should see the list of things I need to buy, and there are more things that keep popping into my head as I putter around the house. I really want to just go out and buy it all NOW, but I’m containing myself and waiting until I get to my apartment so my room mates and I can sort out what we have and don’t have. I plan on buying a majority of my kitchen stuff, because I’m an avid cook and I really prefer having my own tools. I think I can stock my kitchen fairly well between what my mom’s giving me and what money I have saved for this, but it’s mostly the matter of remembering everything I need that’s giving me troubles.

I’ve done a lot of stuff this summer, though. Lots of traveling when I’ve not been working, or having people come here. I went to my boyfriend’s graduation (so happy for him!), visited his family quite a few times for various gatherings, went to the beach for a week, visited my best friend in Charlotte, hung out with my boyfriend and our mutual acquaintances in Clemson, went to Jacksonville, FL for a weekend, and last week we celebrated my mom’s birthday, so we had a TON of people coming in and visiting. I’ve enjoyed keeping myself busy. It’s very different from last summer, which I spent in Washington doing a whole lot of nothing while my boyfriend worked. We did lots of fun things together while he wasn’t working, like go to the movies or go to cool places in the Washington/Oregon area, but I was alone during the day because I didn’t get a job. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, though… it was so much fun!

So in two weeks, my summer will be over. I’ll be back to school with my books, highlighters and ungodly number of notebooks. I’ll probably stop wearing makeup and doing my hair because I don’t have the time, and I’ll be hellishly sleep-deprived. But I’m excited. I love going to school. And this has been a pretty great summer vacation. I feel refreshed and ready to get back into academia.

I’m not too sure about those 8 am classes, though. I don’t know what I was thinking when I was making my schedule…


This country was built under the principles of personal responsibility and self reliance. So do me a favor and:

1. Quit pawing through my money
2. Keep your nose out of my health care decisions
3. Get the hell off my case about what property I own
4. God has nothing to do with it
5. Stop expecting me to work more to be paid less — which is what happens now, thanks to your brilliant methods of tax bracketing
6. Stop telling me it’s my problem that other people make bad decisions — I’d rather use those tax dollars I’m forced by law to throw at welfare abusers to invest in charities I know will actually put the money to good use
7. I want a company vehicle from GM… part of my taxes goes to the American people’s investment, right?
8. Give me my guns. Banning guns from all the good, law-abiding citizens means they’ll be defenseless when criminals hold them up with weapons they got off the black market. It’s not like criminals have licenses for them, anyway.
9. Quit giving a crap about what some two-bit country in the middle of nowhere thinks. Your responsibility is to us, the taxpayers. You don’t have to make citizens of other countries happy; they have their own governments for that. It’s none of their business what we do here.
10. And please. Get a press secretary who has a vocabulary that expands beyond, “I’ll have to talk to my people about that.”

Leave everyone alone and let us fend for ourselves. I’m tired of being coddled. You’re just so suffocating, government, you really are. The founding fathers are spinning in their graves because of how you’ve so closely entangled yourself into our lives. Get the eff out; I’m tired of you being so involved. I love you, but really. Sometimes you just have to let go.

Sincerely yours,
Stephanie
Advocate of Deregulation


Al Sharpton

08Jul09

As a general rule, I am not an Al Sharpton fan. In fact, I think he’s rather out of his mind, at times. But today at Michael Jackson’s memorial service, which I did indeed watch with undivided attention like many, many millions of people in this world, he impressed me thoroughly with what he said to Michael Jackson’s three children:

There was nothing strange about your daddy, it was strange what your daddy had to deal with.

I have always thought the media had vilified Michael Jackson, but it was my mother that really put it together for me. On the news, the talking heads were discussing how Michael Jackson was a hermit and never spoke in public or addressed any of the rumors surrounding him. My mother made an excellent point upon hearing this. She asked angrily, “Why would he come out in public? Why would he talk to the media? They made him a joke!” And then it hit me full force that it was indeed the toxic pop culture media that enjoys bringing people up only to watch them fall that, in effect, made him out to be a freak. They were the ones who named him Wacko Jacko. They were the ones who insinuated that he was the odd man out and exaggerated every move he made into a gigantic freak show. Would you want to show your face to a world that seems to ridicule you? Wouldn’t you want to protect your children from the rude whispers and disturbing stares? In his shoes, I don’t blame him. I see him as a man who never got a normal childhood and, in effect, wanted nothing more than to give his children what he couldn’t have. The only way to do this was to keep them out of public scrutiny. Do I think some of his actions rather paranoid and odd? Sure. But can you honestly blame him when he thought he walked in a world where people hated him because they read about his so-called freakish actions every other week in the magazines?

I haven’t met many people that would say anything about Michael Jackson other than that he was a devastatingly talented human being. Those who could even imagine that Michael Jackson would dare bring harm to anyone has fallen victim to the vicious rumors that the celebrity gossip mill has produced. It disgusts me that magazines show pictures of the man when he was dead (see the cover of the past week’s OK! Magazine) with a headline crowing, “How Michael REALLY Died!” And then now! All of these media outlets worshipping him reverently as though they had always given him the respect he deserved if not for being extremely talented then at the very LEAST being a human being? They can bite me, the whole hypocritical lot of them. They hadn’t given him an ounce of respect until he died.

I am sorry that his children will have to grow up one day and realize that all the people being so kind now were not always so polite regarding their father. You couldn’t listen to Paris Jackson speak today and think Michael had ever so much as yelled at her or her brothers, or treated them with anything but pure love. I am glad that while the media might be a bunch of dirty, brown-nosing turncoats, Michael Jackson’s family does have the respect and reverence of his fans, whose numbers and voices easily drown those of the malicious.

And for the record? I don’t think he was a pedophile. I never have. He was an amazing man. Talented, kind spirited, unequivocally just in his regard to people of all walks to life, and an amazing humanitarian who wanted and gave nothing but a whole lot of love.