Tuesday, December 21, 2010

10 Items You Can Find In Any Cheerleader's Competition Bag

1. Hairspray - with all that jumping and flipping around you have to make sure that hair stays in place
2. Ponytails and Bobby pins - like I said, you have to keep that hair in place
3. Nfinity's - every athlete needs the best shoe for their sport, cheerleading's no exception
4. A Big Bow - the cheer hair accessory; every squad wears them, no exceptions
5. Glittery Eye Make-Up - the newest trend in the cheer world, super sparkly eyes
6. Ankle, Knee, or Wrist Brace - cheerleading's a tough sport and along with it comes injuries
7. Uniform - less and less material is being used to make these but you still need to wear something
8. Spankies/Bloomers - with all the flipping and jumping, you need something under that skirt
9. Make-Up and Fingernail Polish Remover - all that glitter is hard to get off and nail polish is a big "no no" in the world of cheerleading, unless it's clear of course
10. Water/Gatorade - like any other sport, you need to stay hydrated

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Fight Against Alzheimer's

"Congress has voted unanimously to create, for the first time, a national plan to combat Alzheimer’s disease with the same intensity as the attacks on AIDS and cancer. The bill, expected to be signed by President Obama, would establish a National Alzheimer’s Project within the Department of Health and Human Services, to coordinate the country’s approach to research, treatment and caregiving. Its goal, the legislation says, is to “accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, halt or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s” and “improve the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and coordination of the care and treatment of citizens with Alzheimer’s.” (With Alzheimer’s Patients Growing in Number, Congress Endorses a National Plan)"

I grew up in the house my grandparents built, which was next to one of my grandmother’s friends. Around the age of twelve, after my grandmother had passed away, my neighbor began to show signs of Alzheimer’s. The one day after I had gotten home from school, she came over to our house and told my family how her husband, who had died five years previous, had left her for another woman. Confused we just went along with her story and called her daughter after making sure she made it back into her house. We found out that she had Alzheimer’s. Her daughter put her in a nursing home and we would visit her frequently. She remembered who I was and my stepfather, but she could never quite get my mother's name right, but my mother was one of seven and all four girls look almost identical so I really can't blame her. Also, my freshman and sophomore years of high school I dated a boy who's grandmother had Alzheimer’s. We'd spend Sunday’s at his grandparent’s house. She seemed to never be able to sit still and was always moving things around. She also rarely knew who he was and usually called me by his sisters name, but I was a new person to her so again I can't blame her either. After knowing these women with Alzheimer’s, I'm glad the government is finally trying to find a cure or at least something to slow down the process. This disease is not only horrible for the people experiencing it but for their loved ones.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"I'm Not Afraid... "

"In the 1930s, researchers discovered that when a certain part of monkeys’ brains were removed, the animals became fearless. They approached snakes, started batting them around like sticks and played with their hissing tongues. This experiment has been repeated in animals numerous times, and the scientific consensus is that when the amygdala is removed, an animal loses any sense of fear. Patient SM, because of a rare condition called lipoid proteinosis, has holes where her amygdala would normally reside. Researchers found that she, like the monkeys, has no fear of creatures like snakes and spiders, which ordinarily alarm most people. But while this behavior is relatively benign, the researchers also found that SM put her life at risk. In one instance, she walked through a park alone at night and was attacked by a man with a knife. “The following day, she again walked through the same park,” Mr. Feinstein said. 
Humans, Like Animals, Are Fearless Without Amygdala"

Can you imagine having absolutely no fear of anything or anyone? Well that's what patient SM's life is like, she is not cautious about anything she does. This is very dangerous and she needs to be watched at all times, because she could jump off a bridge or walk at someone who's pointing a gun. Scientists have been studying patient SM and trying to teach her to become more caution in her everyday life. They hope that if they can make a break through with her and teach her how to be more cautious; they could use similar techniques to help people who are too cautious or afraid. I can not imagine going through life being a shut-in or being unafraid of everything, but there are people out there that do. If scientists could make a break through with patient SM, then there will be hope for the people who suffer with these conditions everyday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Engineering Organisms

"The president’s bioethics commission has concluded that there is no need to temporarily halt research or to impose new regulations on the controversial new field known as synthetic biology. Synthetic biology uses genetic engineering and other techniques to create novel organisms tailored for particular tasks. The idea is that by synthesizing DNA and by combining standard genetic building blocks, engineers can efficiently design a biological machine much as they might design a bridge or a computer chip. (Synthetic Biology)"

There are three sides to this story. The scientists that are synthetically creating these organisms want all regulations to go away and they want to "let science rip," complaining that regulations are halting their experiments and lessening their findings. Then there are the environmentalists that argue that without regulations these organisms could get out of hand and out of the labs and disrupt our ecosystem. There was a movie that came out this year, "Splice," which dealt with synthetic biology. In the movie the organism became too much for its creators to handle and escaped into the wild; the environmentalists are playing off this fear and are using it as their argument as to why these experiments need regulated. Then the commission proposed a middle ground, which would include ongoing monitoring of the experiments and deciding the potential harm of the experiments as they are done, instead of regulating them along the way. I agree with the middle ground of the other two sides. I feel that these scientists should be able to experiment with what they want and not have to follow regulations that could cause them to miss a huge discovery. However, they do need to be monitored because this technology in the wrong hands would not be a good thing. Scientists have been experimenting with what they want and how they want for millions of years now, without regulations. Putting too many regulations on experimenting could cause today's scientists to miss a major breakthrough and i do not agree with that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Get Your Beauty Sleep

sleep-deprived (left) than when well-rested (right)

"A good night's sleep tends to leave you feeling refreshed, alert, and upbeat. According to a new study, it may also make you look healthier and more attractive to others. To test whether there's a grain of truth in the notion of "beauty sleep," researchers in Sweden took photographs of 23 men and women ages 18 to 31 after they'd slept for eight hours. They then repeated the process, except this time the researchers kept the volunteers up for 31 hours straight after allowing them to sleep for just five hours the previous night.(Sleep deprived? Your looks may suffer.)"

I don't know about you, but I know I'll be making sure I get enough sleep. However, this man in the pictures above actually looks better in his sleep-deprived picture than in his well-rested one, in my opinion. He looks like he gained a noticeable amount of weight in his well-rested picture; his face looks puffy. Even though on the left the man looks irritable, I still find him to be more attractive than in his photo on the right. I believe what this article is saying, but I do not think this was the best example as for a photo. However, maybe the caption of the photo was a typo and they accidentally labeled the photographs backwards. Whatever the case may be, I find the picture of the man on the left to be more attractive than the one on the right, sleep-deprived or not.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Songs of the Season

A great choral program is a tradition that our school is extremely proud of and tonight is the Winter Choral Concert. This will be the first performance of the year for the choir. However, the ensemble has already sung twice; at my church and for the retired teachers luncheon. This year, the music ranges from classic Christmas carols, such as Carol of the Bells, to Nigerian Spirituals, such as Betelehemu. Also, not all the music is in English, the majority of the non-English pieces are in Latin and will have a translation in the program for everyone to follow along. One song the Ensemble is very excited about performing is "Sweet Babe Carol" by Michael Eglin. The Ensemble sung "In Judah's Land," another piece by Mr. Eglin, last year and he found it on YouTube and contacted us. We were thrilled to find out that he would be composing a song especially for us. "Sweet Babe Carol" is not this song, but another wonderful piece composed by him. We will be singing the song Mr. Eglin composed for us in our Spring Concert; the song is titled "Ecstasy." Also the Ensemble will be going to the PMEA All-State Choir Conference in April, where we will debut this piece. But back to tonight, the concert starts at 7:30 and unfortunately there will be no reception to follow due to bad weather. However, I am sure the auditorium will still be packed with parents, relative, alumni, and members of the community.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Big 33

Today I found out that i was accepted into the Big 33 program. From June 11-18, I will be in Hershey learning a cheerleading halftime routine to perform on Friday the 18th. The week will be full of bonding with other squad members, spending time with my buddy, lots and lots of practicing, and fun activities planned for us by the staff. Now that I have been accepted, I have to raise $600 to pay for my add in the game program. This is the only money required to participate in the game. They provide uniforms and props, such as pompoms. Also, now I have to decide if I want to commute to Hershey every day that week, stay at a hotel in the area, or stay with a host family. I'm not sure what I am going to do yet, but I think staying with a host family might be an interesting experience. Also, staying in a hotel might be nice too, especially if my family is going to stay with me for the whole week. I'm very excited that I was accepted into this program and now I'm just hoping that my school district doesn't have too many snow days because graduation is scheduled for June 2nd.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Showering Off After Practice

"Q: Do flip-flops really protect me from catching something in the gym shower? The water pools right onto my feet!

A: The warm, moist environment of shower stalls makes them a dream breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Flip-flops help a little bit, but you’re right: If there are stagnant pools of water and you step in them, you might as well be stepping in barefoot! The thing you’re most likely to catch is athlete’s foot—a treatable but annoying fungal infection—but there are plenty of other nasty bugs out there. Your gym should be frequently cleaning the showers (and the walls, which are equally gross) in between users. If you don’t notice your health club doing this essential step, wait until you get home to shower off. (What the yuck?! Do flip-flops really protect me in the gym shower?) "

To wear or not to wear flip-flops in the shower, that is the question. I say no, but I'm no germaphobe. Looking at the facts, however, if you're standing in a pool of water at the bottom of the shower, wearing shoes is not going to do you much good; the bacteria can still get to your feet. So instead, why not just squirt some shampoo or body wash at the bottom of the shower and clean it yourself. Yes, the facility should be cleaning the showers, but you never know; doing this will at least make you feel better. And if you get athletes foot or another fungal disease, most likely it is treatable with a simple cream.

Competition #4

For the second time this season, my squad brought home a 1st place trophy. After only having one practice this week to change the dance and tighten things up, I'm very happy with our performance. However, a few stunts did fall but we recovered and kept going. Our sharp motions and keeping our spirits up throughout the whole routine were our most improved areas this week. This week at practice we will not be changing anything; we'll just continue to tighten things up and make sure all the stunts consistently hit.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eighteen Today!!

Today is my 18th birthday.

In my eighteen years of life;
I have spent 12 years cheerleading (kindergarten-present),
5 years playing basketball (kindergarten-5th grade),
2 years playing field hockey (7th and 8th grade),
and 2 years doing gymnastics (4-5 years old).
I've also spent 7 years singing (6th-12th grade).

This June I will graduate and complete my 13 years of public schooling.
I have gone through many career options through out my school career; I wanted to be a teacher,
and finally now I've decided to do something with biology,
maybe a pediatrician.

I got my first job the summer before junior year,
and will have worked as a lifeguard for 3 years after this summer.
I got my first car, a maroon Hyundai Accent, the summer before junior year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Aspirin Linked to Reducing Cancer Deaths

"Many Americans take aspirin to lower their risk of heart disease, but a new study suggests a remarkable added benefit, reporting that patients who took aspirin regularly for a period of several years were 21 percent less likely decades later to die of solid tumor cancers, including cancers of the stomach, esophagus and lung. Participants who had been assigned to the aspirin arms of the studies were 20 percent less likely after 20 years to have died of solid tumor cancers than those who had been in the comparison group taking dummy pills during the clinical trials, and their risk of gastrointestinal cancer death was 35 percent lower. The risk of lung cancer death was 30 percent lower, the risk of colorectal cancer death was 40 percent lower and the risk of esophageal cancer death was 60 percent lower, the study reported. The specific dose of aspirin taken did not seem to matter — most trials gave out low doses of 75 to 100 milligrams — but the participants in the longest lasting trials had the most drastic reductions in cancer death years later. While Dr. Jacobs said the study design was valid, relatively few women were included in the trials, making it difficult to generalize the results to women. Dr. Alan A. Arslan, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and environmental medicine at New York University School of Medicine, who did an observational study several years ago reporting that women who had taken aspirin regularly had a lower risk of ovarian cancer. (Aspirin Helps in Reducing Cancer Deaths, a Study Finds)"

The thought that a simple over the counter drug, like Tylenol, could decrease your likelihood of developing cancer is amazing. While aspirin’s do have some side affect one of them being stomach ulcers; the study had the patients taking the aspirin in small does, not large enough to do any damage. Also, while a study had been done that gave evidence that suggested women who took aspirin regularly were less likely to develop ovarian cancer; this study that suggests that aspirin may also lower your likelihood of developing cancer of the lung, stomach, or esophagus can not be said to account for women, too, since only a few were used in the study. However, if this study becomes proven fact then Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Advil can expect some increases in sales.

Cell Phone Usage Linked to Behavioral Problems

"Evidence of harm from cell phones continues to emerge: First there was the possible cancer link, and now there's suggestion that those little hand-held devices may affect children's behavior. Children who had exposure to cell phones both in the womb and after birth, up to age 7 had a higher likelihood of behavioral problems than those who had no exposure, researchers said in a new study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The behavioral problems include hyperactivity and attention and social issues. The association between cell phone exposure is not terribly strong, Kheifets said. Also, the authors do not yet know the mechanism behind the connection between cell phones and behavioral problems. One theory is that cell phone use may lead to excess secretion of the hormone melatonin, which can affect the mother's metabolism and may influence the development of the fetus's brain. But this is just a speculation, Kheifets said. There is also no way to know whether the mothers were telling the truth about the amount of cell phone time they had. It's impossible to tell from this research whether cell phone exposure really causes behavioral problems. Still, given how many people use cell phones in the world, it's important to keep an eye on possible harms, Kheifets said. She recommends limiting exposure to radiation through the use of hands-free devices. (Behavioral Problems)"

First off, I'd like to say that the connection between the two things is not very strong and more testing and research needs to be done to prove that cell phones cause behavioral problems in children. Second, if you are sincerely worried about your child developing behavioral problems from cell phones; don't use one as often as you normally would when you are pregnant and don't let your child have a cell phone till middle school. A child doesn't need a cell phone in elementary school anyway. As for this study, I feel it will be really hard for anyone to prove that cell phones have a direct effect on the behavior of a child due to the other variables that also cause behavior problems, like the way the child is brought up (nurture) and the genetic make-up of the child which determines personality (nature). However, like I said earlier if you are sincerely worried for your children take the necessary precautions to keep them safe.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Competition #3

This performance was our best so far this season; every stunt hit and everyone did their tumbling. However, we did get second place. This was mostly due to a deduction because our dance was not "age appropriate." I love our dance and feel that it is not the slightest bit inappropriate for high school aged teenagers; but cheerleading is judged on preference and the judges were middle aged women who apparently did not enjoy our style of dancing. This is the second time we have been warned about the appropriateness of our dance, so this week at practice we are changing it. A big part of cheerleading is putting together a routine to fit the preferences of the judges. The scores are in their hands and if they do not like your routine, they will not score you as high even if your routine was more entertaining to the crowd. This may seem unfair but it's just another thing you have to be conscious of when putting together a cheerleading routine. This week at practice, we'll find out the consequences to not meeting these requirements.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cheerleading: Sport?

For the past few years, cheerleading and whether it is or is not a sport has been debated over and over again. In my opinion it is a sport. But it all depends on what your definition of a sport is. I define sport as an athletic activity, which requires some sort of skill. Cheerleading fits under this definition, where stunting, jumping, and tumbling would be the skills required. But some argue that the definition of a sport is an athletic activity, requiring a skill and competitors. This is where cheerleading gets debated. Regular high school cheerleading, while it may be athletic and require skills; they do not have competitors. However, competitive cheerleading does meet this requirement. Ok, so you'd think that maybe people could agree that competitive cheerleading is a sport, but no. Then the way sports are refereed or judged comes into play. And cheerleading unlike other sports, such as football or baseball, is a subjectively judged activity. A competitive cheerleading routine is judge by more than one person, and one judge may like your routine better than another, therefore scoring you higher. Where as in football, the ball is either in the end zone or it isn't; taste and preference doesn't matter. This part of cheerleading is what is keeping it from being declared a sport. But whether or not cheerleading is declared a sport, I will still participate and stand-up for the hard work and great athletes that enjoy this activity.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

College Essays

As a senior in high school, this year I have to go through the application process if I expect to get accepted to a college. The actually application is not difficult to fill out; it's the essays that have me stumped. They want you to write something about yourself, which describes who you are and why you would be a good fit at that college. But what if you don't know exactly who you are or why you would be a good fit, because I'll be honest I'm just applying to different schools because they are the top schools for science majors not because I think my personality would add to the college. So what do I write about? I think I've finally come to the conclusion to write about why, when, and who influences me to be a science major.