We all spend a good chunk of our lives in the parking lots on campus – whether it’s looking for a parking spot or walking through them to get to class. The only thing that gets me through these miserable situations is looking at everyone’s bumper stickers.
I think you can tell a lot about a person by the car they drive and the stickers they choose to adhere to their vehicles. I’ve noticed most are for showing school spirit, some are political, some are really weird and others are just plain hilarious.
The Digital Bullpen is the perfect place to share some of the ones I’ve seen and if you like this idea, leave a comment letting us know. If you see a bumper sticker you think is worthy of sharing, send it my way!
Clear skies, beautiful breezes and a comfortable 84 degrees provided the perfect environment for soccer at Magnolia Fields where, for more than six hours, soccer players chased, blocked or kicked the ball for a cause.
University of South Florida’s Latin American Student Association chose the day before Easter to raise money for their American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life team.
“My grandmother and two of my mother’s aunts died from breast cancer,” said Carol Marrero, the association’s public relations officer. “And my mother’s cousin passed away from brain cancer.”
Through their Goal for a Cure Soccer Tournament, the association members and non-members came out to show that they stand behind their family, friends and even strangers who have suffered or are suffering from cancer.
According to a 2012 American Cancer Society report , more than 1.6 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2012, and more than 500,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer in 2012.
“I think that the community should be a little bit more aware of cancer and that being aware of cancer isn’t just wearing the ribbon,” Marrero said. “People should take a bigger look into the actual reality of cancer.”
Omar Rodriguez, the association’s vice-president, has a personal connection to cancer that has been a driving factor in his participation in Relay for Life events.
“When I was 13 years old, I had a cousin pass away from cancer, so now being able to raise money through an organization that I am a part of is important to me,” Rodriguez said. “When my family came to America we had very little, but my parents worked hard. So whenever I can help out other people, I do.”
Out of the 11 teams playing, which consisted of five to seven players each, there were only three female players. Marrero said that she thinks it great that so many males came out to support cancer.
“We are aware that the treatment for people suffering from cancer is a high cost and you never know if it could be you or a family,” said Rodolfo Sayegh, a tournament player.
According to the American Cancer Society, five-year survival rates of cancer have increased 18 percent over the past three decades. This is a result of the advancements in early detection and treatments now available.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
Such is the message on the top of USF’s BullSERVE website but the change not mentioned is the boost in the volunteer’s immune system. One of the university’s least known volunteer efforts aims for an increase in the student’s community involvement; while helping their health.
BullSERVE’s participant coordinator Katelin Kaiser feels that the contact with food and different environments may have something to do with an increased immune system among volunteers.
“You kind of get desensitized to those different germs and things,” Kaiser said. “It may be because we are so exposed to different types of germs.”
It is not just the volunteer’s immune system that is being helped. According to the June 2001 edition of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, experimental results show that volunteer work enhances the six aspects of well-being: happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem and sense of control over life, over physical health, and over depression.
Biomedical science major Neeta Ghanekar says she feels good about how being a part of BullSERVE since January has not only improved her internal health but also enhanced her self-esteem.
“I feel like I have been more positive,” Ghanekar said. “I feel more grateful for the life I have had,”
BullSERVE is a community service organization focused on getting students involved in the long term efforts, and, in turn, providing long term enhancement of each volunteer’s well-being.
“When I realized that the three hours I committed each Friday would help provide food for a family or a single mother or someone who can’t afford food, it really made an impact on me,” Kaiser said. “I can afford to go buy food and go to Starbucks but when you’re sorting through food that was donated from Publix or Sweetbay, you think, ‘Wow, this food would’ve been thrown out if this service wasn’t here.’”
The bigger picture is that BullSERVE focuses on helping the community and students want to make a difference in the community. Striving to make both parties feel good about what they are doing is the ultimate goal, and volunteers are even improving their health without even realizing it.
Students gathered Wednesday afternoon on the MLK Lawn in a successful attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest speed dating event. The event was hosted by “The Buried Life,” a MTV show based on four men crossing off items on their bucket lists. The 288 students in attendance had to complete 20 three-minute conversations to achieve the record. Students were only allowed to discuss things they wanted to do before they die otherwise they would be disqualified. Photo credit: Krystal Modigell
A large amount of land in Florida is in moderate to severe drought, but USF’s Tampa campus landscaping and irrigation was designed for minimal water usage and sustainability.
According to Kim Hutton, event coordinator for the USF Botanical Gardens, plants have been growing tremendously and there is a lot of “pizzazz” undeterred by the drought.
“The Bougainvillea on the [Tampa] campus thrives on abuse,” said Hutton. The drought-thriving plant can be spotted at the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza.
Minimal rain and dryness throughout the sunshine state is due to the La Nina patterns, which brings drier and milder conditions. La Nina takes place when the sea surface temperatures across the equatorial central and eastern Pacific are below normal.
The winter season does call for multiple plants at the Botanical Gardens to be protected.
“During the winter, we must watch weather systems. Cold and freezing means we have to cover plants, bring plants in from the outside and turn heaters on,” said Laurie Walker, director of USF’s Botanical Gardens.
However, the native plants such as firebush, lantana, and milkweed can manage water and weather conditions without any covering, according to Florida Native Plant Nursery. The native plants are hardy and do not need attention.
“Here at the gardens we focus on using top dressing, which is mulch consisting of various materials of leaves, broken pieces of wood, and grass clippings,” said Hutton.
Annually, the 16 acres of gardens and greenbelt attracts 35,000 visitors.
According to AccuWeather, not only has the mild weather affected Florida, northern states in the Midwest also have been dealing with Mother Nature.
Farmers have major concerns due to the weather because wheat crops may be affected by the absence of snow, which insulates the soil.
John Sego, Brownsfield coordinator of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said, “Throughout the year, fluctuating groundwater levels may affect assessment or subsequent remediation activities.”
Walker said, “We have to follow the city water restrictions with ground irrigation.”
The majority of the current water restrictions are two-day per week watering in Tampa Bay counties such as Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, Manatee, and Pasco, according to Southwest Florida Water Management.
The 1920s came to life at the Jack and Jill Dance Competition hosted by the Swinging Bulls on April 6 at the USF Marshall Student Center.
Twelve students and local dancers put their swing moves on display, dancing to the musical selections of DJ Charlie Bravo. The songs included “Detroit Swing City” by The Brian Setzer Orchestra, “Brown Derby Jump” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, “Bugle Call Rag” by Cab Calloway and “Bill’s Bounce” by The Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra.
Jeila Alai, president of the Swinging Bulls, said, “Jack and Jill Competitions are dance contests where all the girls and guys that want to enter line up and are rotated to a random partner with whom they dance. The best guy and girl win!”
The scene was classic. With dim lights, shiny black shoes, bow ties, skirts and suspenders, the swing dancers transformed the Marshall Center conference room into a snapshot of the 1920s swing dance culture.
The dancers were lively. Their feet moved quickly, from front to back, side to side and into the air. Their arms swung back and forth, hands on hips and fingers snapping. The men tossed their partners above their heads and gently lowered them over their arms. The music was just as energetic. The horns and drums were fast and sporadic. The whole dance hall was swinging.
Today, swing dance is a unique subculture attracting people of all backgrounds, genders and ages.
Kyle Homsey, a sophomore majoring in chemistry, said, “As opposed to other dances like waltz or tango, it’s faster, it’s a lot more livelier, it’s a happy dance as opposed to kind of slow and sad.”
Walter Ley, a local high school student, began swing dancing a year ago after attending a Sunday night swing dance session at a Tampa dance hall, Zendah Grotto.
Ley said, “It’s a chance to be energetic and fun while you dance.”
Ley’s dance partner, Margie Sweeney, also a local high school student, said, “I like the vintage aspect of it. It’s really classic dancing.”
The student group Net Impact, a global non-profit organization with over 150 chapters, is trying to promote a more tree-friendly and sustainable campus for the University of South Florida – but the members have one month to raise another $6,000.
“Our main focus is to educate members about sustainability,” USF’s chapter president Charles Medina said.
Medina, a graduate student majoring in finance and sustainability enterprise, said their goal from the beginning of the spring semester was to raise $50,000 by Arbor Day, April 27, so they can plant and tend to 1,000 oak trees donated to USF by K-Bar Growers.
The organization is only $6,000 away and Medina is confident the trees will be planted and properly maintained.
“Its gonna happen,” Medina said, “its gotta happen. Because were so close now, that we have to make it. There’s not a choice.”
Facilities Planning and Construction formalized a $50 per tree cost, totaling $50,000 for maintaining expenses for the trees, like water and gas.
“Little three-foot tree-lings need to be constantly watered for a year,” Medina said.
Net Impact started fundraising by contacting other student organizations, like the Student Environmental Association, to conduct a peer-to-peer solicitation project. The same students solicited have the option to help plant the trees in April.
Medina said he wanted members from other organizations to carry a can with them and ask anyone walking by to contribute a donation to the “dollars for trees” campaign.
“One student can check out a can, take it for two weeks, bring it to their class, bring it to the library, bring it to the Marshall (Student) Center, wherever they go for that time and then bring it back to us,” Medina said.
The goal behind this was to raise awareness about the 1,000 trees. Medina was confident that if students, faculty and staff donated a dollar, Net Impact would raise enough funds.
“I think if we can get enough people to take a can, I think we can easily do it,” he said in February. “The hardest part is getting the momentum started.”
Unfortunately, the momentum never picked up. The peer-to-peer solicitation did not reach Net Impact’s expectations and raised a minuscule amount.
“The actual peer-to-peer was not very much, probably like $1,000. It didn’t really get enough support from the campus,” Medina said. ”So we had to go externally for funds.”
Net Impact reached out to businesses, like Chipotle, and received donations from other sustainability funds to a total of $44,000 for the trees.
For the remaining funds, Net Impact is trying to “ramp up” their peer-to-peer donations by reaching out to student organizations and raise awareness, again.
“If people feel like they’ve donated and they see trees planted they actually feel connected, like they actually did something,” Medina said.
“Student engagement in this fundraising project and allowing students to plant the trees is important to their educational experience,” Assistant Director of Facilities Planning and Construction Barbara Donerly said. “It gives real-life experiences, provides a visible and tangible outcome, and makes the campus a better place for the students that follow.”
According to Donerly, more than 3,500 trees have been planted on campus over the past 15 years. This not only beautifies the campus but also helps provide shade that reduces energy costs, reduces storm water runoff and the need for storm water retention, improves air quality by filtering particulate matter and several other benefits.
“The planting of trees on the campus supports the signing by USF President Judy Genshaft of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment in April 2008 and greatly contributes to the reduction of the university’s carbon footprint,” Donerly said.
Donating blood is a quick and usually painless way to give back to the community, and the University of South Florida is playing a major role in the progression of Central Florida Blood Services’ campaign.
According to fbsblood.org, 80 percent of all donated blood is collected on bloodmobiles, which are mobile blood donation centers.
Debbie Jones, the Central Florida Blood Services community relations manager, said that USF was the top contributor of southwest Florida in 2011 with more donated pints than any other corporate or civic organization.
“USF donated 3,461 pints in 2011, topping a list of over 100 different corporate and community sponsors of blood drives,” said Jones.
Blair Hebner, a registered nurse for Bay Pines VA Hospital, said there are many reasons why hospital patients need donated blood.
“Since I worked on a surgical floor, I didn’t see car accidents, shootings or stabbings,” said Hebner. “I did see a lot of surgical blood loss like G.I. bleeds, or anemia hematuria.”
Jones said USF has two blood drives a week, and every time the bloodmobiles park by the Marshall Center or Cooper Hall.
Library writing center consultant Haili Vinson gave blood once, and it was at USF.
“I would donate again if I could,” Vinson said. “I tried actually, after that, but my iron was too low.”
According to the American Red Cross, the blood type that is the highest in demand is type O.
The opportunity to donate on the way to class presents a simple way to contribute to those in the community who are in need.
While computer hacking is nothing new, a recent spike in that trend takes on a whole new (and more terrifying) level: webcam hacking.
Hacking into a webcam doesn’t take a computer science mastermind. One simply needs to Google the following:“WJ-NT104 Main Page”. The very first link takes you to a store’s surveillance system, complete with four different camera viewpoints. Or better yet, one should go to this page and type in any of the 600+ links; they are all connected to live webcams.
“Some of those [live videos] are intended to be for the public,” said USF computer science professor Jeremy Rasmussen, “but others are security cams or nanny cams that people unfortunately connected without changing any of the default settings.”
Rasmussen is an information security consultant to government and commercial clients and an adjunct instructor in the USF Department of Computer Science and Engineering. He founded the USF Whitehatters Computer Security Club in 2006, which is a student organization that meets weekly to learn about computer security and participates in organized cyber security competitions.
“Anytime you are connected to the Internet, you are going to be at risk for that sort of attack,” says Rasmussen.
In 2011, Luis Mijangos was sentenced to six years in prison for hacking into 100+ computers through a virus he hid in popular songs or videos. After the victims downloaded the malicious software, he was able to get to their personal information, tap into their webcams, and see all the files on their computers—including explicit pictures.
“There are myriad attacks that come in through things like getting people to click on a link or open an email attachment with a specially crafted PDF file that drops a Trojan horse on your system,” explains Rasmussen. “There is even ‘legitimate’ software you can buy online from Amazon or Newegg that essentially allows you full control over someone else’s computer. Spectorsoft eBlaster is one example. It runs about $99 and is a stealthy program that collects keystrokes, emails, and yes, webcam sessions.”
Yet this type of privacy violation can be avoided with the right software and precautions.
“Having a built-in webcam on your laptop is certainly a privacy consideration,” says Rasmussen. “If you’re worried about it, you might consider disabling it through the Control Panel on Windows and just re-enable it when you need to use it.”
The video at the beginning of this article, aptly titled “Webcam,” has been circulating the Internet and was created to bring attention to this matter. The video was created by Stefan Haverkamp, Jan Jaworski, Branden Kramer and Tom Kropp, and it was filmed entirely using a Macbook Pro webcam. It is eerily realistic and will have you pasting a Post-It note over your webcam before the eight-minute video is done.
“In many cases, adversaries prey on victims who are easily manipulated into providing information, pictures, passwords, etc,” explains Rasmussen. “User awareness is the key. Pretty much don’t trust anyone on the Internet. Make sure you are connected to a trusted site via an encrypted channel. Don’t click on links or attachments, except perhaps in your reduced risk VM environment. And lastly–if you can help it—maybe you should just avoid taking racy pictures and videos of yourself. Those things tend to stay around forever. Just ask Paris Hilton, Scarlett Johansson, and Mila Kunis.”