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Snapshots (Cigarettes, presentations, the outdoors, power outages)

Curtailed commentary on current conditions: Cigarette litter, presentation expectations, outdoor incentives, power outage survival



Print Edition: March 27, 2013

Beau O'Neill

Don’t be a butt – throw away your butts

I’m grateful we live in a society where being pro-environmental and a recycling junkie is worn like a badge of honour. It used to be something that was poked fun at, and you never admitted to being an environmentalist lest ye be sorely judged. We are slowly (as a collective) becoming more aware of the consequences our actions have.

Which is why it pains me to still see people putting out their cigarette butts and leaving them on the ground. It happens everywhere: parking lots, street corners, playgrounds, nature paths, beaches and yes, even on trees. Usually these are the same people who wouldn’t dare drop their Big Gulps in the sand at White Rock, yet they don’t think twice about stamping out their smokes and walking away.

It’s bad enough you’re huffing second hand smoke into my face as I reluctantly walk by you, smokers of the Fraser Valley, but do you really have to put your non-biodegradable acetate (plastic) filters into the eco-system as well? I’m hoping you’re just operating under the common misconception that filters aren’t bad for the environment, instead of acting like an entitled brat who knowingly leaves a trail of harmful trash for others to pick up after you leave.


Nick Ubels

Prezi dazzles profs, leaves substance up for grabs

Picture yourself in a four-hour, upper level evening class that already tests the outer limits of your attention span. It’s nearing the end of semester, which can only mean one thing: student presentations.

Yellow text on a white background, a block paragraph rendered in an indecipherably small font, a pixelated image stretched to fill the entire projector screen or a whooshing, pinwheel transition are all it takes to turn an otherwise compelling term paper topic into a cringe-worthy train wreck.

Presentations are a very different animal than academic papers. But much like MLA for English or Chicago for history, brief class presentations should be required to follow certain formatting guidelines to ensure a basic level of readability and help level the academic playing field.

In an academic setting, simple and effective presentations will suffice. Humanities majors shouldn’t be required to be graphic design geniuses and I hate to think that a brilliant thesis with a poor slide show could receive a grade lower than a vacuous and mundane one powered by a desperate student’s sudden discovery of free slide show design software Prezi. I don’t give a damn whether each point stems as a branch from a sprawling oak tree if they’re poorly argued.

When it comes to class presentations, a little standardization would go a long way.


Beau O'Neill

The internet wants you to get out more

Merit badges and gold stars are usually left behind with 15-minute recesses and getting your parents to sign off on your homework.

Because achievement badges are given out in childhood, they’re somehow seen as childish. Once you get too old for calling your friend’s mom Grey Owl, the little joys of merit badges fly out the window faster than your Boy Scout bottle-rocket project.

YouTube wants to change this.

Blogger Alex Day began as a platform for adults to share, compare and collect real-life adventures. The Tumblr project is still young, having only been launched this past January, but there are already close to 50 badges ranging from skydiving to milking a cow.

Some badges, like CPR and scuba diving, focus on skill-building, the same way girl and boy scout badges did when we were kids. But most reward experience. In particular, the kinds of experiences that force you out of the house and do something you never expected to try.

Every month is a new theme with new badges available to reblog or purchase. March was nerd month (which seems fitting for an internet community). And while learning Klingon may not be your thing, Life Scouts has plenty of achievements with which to challenge yourself and power-up.


Amy Van Veen

Power outage shows our true selves … or does it?

As a member of our social media-obsessed generation, it’s no surprise that the large majority of my waking hours are spent staring at a screen.

For the most part, though, this fact sits dormant at the back of my head while I scroll through my updated Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr/Pinterest feed. Sure, it may be unhealthy and we may all be moving toward some kind of dystopic future where youths are controlled by computers, but for now it entertains.

Until the now is ruined by a power outage. At first I thought I could handle it – it would only be out for about 10 minutes or so, but as 10 minutes stretched to over three hours, and the fading daylight made it impossible to even read those dusty paperbacks on my shelf, I reached new levels of boredom.

My computer battery was dead, my Wi-Fi was out and the only light I had was from a collection of scented candles. I was completely lost without a screen to distract me. Without it all I could do was lay on the floor and wonder how early I could get away with going to bed.


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