Author: Mira Sen

A foolproof guide to end-of-semester survival

Get ready, ladies and gents. There’s a storm coming. With less than one week of classes left, finals are just around the corner. Our bodies are about to be sent into survival mode. Since we are Oles – and therefore all perfect – “fighting” will almost always win out over “flight…ing.” Granted, the struggle between the two is intense. Inevitably, at some point in the next two weeks, we will all be within inches of giving up.

But fear not! There are ways to deal with the crushing weight of end-of-semester madness. I will detail for you a couple of my own favorite stress-relieving techniques. They have proven to be nearly 127 percent effective almost all of the time, so pay attention. I’ll add some disclaimers to the end of each section, as some of my methods have shown to run a little out of control on a select few individuals.

First and foremost, eat. Generally people can be grouped into two categories when it comes to stress-eating. For some, the panic has set up camp in the form of an ever-present nausea, making it impossible to even imagine digesting food. Sound like you? Make sure, then, that you force yourself to get your daily servings of fruit, vegetables, french fries and cake. Food is the energy source we run on; without it, you’ll only crash and burn faster.

In the second stress-eating group, we have those who overeat. My advice: succumb. Just eat. You want six egg and cheese English muffins from the Cage? Do it! If you are one of those lucky sons-of-a-nutcracker that still has 500 flex dollars left, use them! All of them! Get ice cream, lattes, grilled cheese, what have you. Don’t worry – we have all of interim to lose the extra pounds. And if you are going to Greece or Thailand during Interim, then you don’t get to be sad about gaining weight. You’re going to Greece. Or Thailand. Disclaimer: Please do not individually clean the Cage out of bread bowls. That weight gain may be irreversible, and also, other people like bread bowls, too.

Second, remember to take a break every now and then. Don’t get me wrong – spending 39 hours in the reference room every day sounds just . . . lovely. I wish I could do that all of the time. But sometimes the hermit needs to crawl out of the hole lest he or she go completely insane. I understand that it may be hard to fully comprehend the idea of “taking a break.” Sometimes it seems like there simply is not enough time. But you know what? Realistically, you do have enough time.

A 20-minute breather is usually all that is necessary. If you are working for eight hours straight, I will bet you all of my money that at some point, you spend about 20 minutes just staring at a page in a sleep-deprived stupor, trying to make sense of words that are slowly morphing from English to Elvish. There are so many more enjoyable things you could be doing during that 20 minutes. Take a nap, watch your favorite TV show, go for a run. I find a short little walk outside to be delightfully calming and refreshing.

Do you know that we have more than 2,000 lounge chairs and couches on campus? I’m not actually sure if that’s true, but it sounds right. Those chairs are there for us to put our feet up and lay back for a second. Naps really do not even have to consist of actual sleep. I have found that simply closing my eyes for 10 minutes at a time does wonders for my energy and concentration. In regards to TV watching, Season 7 of “How I Met Your Mother” is now on Netflix. And this new season of “30 Rock” is pretty funny, too. Disclaimer: A 20-minute break for every four minutes of work is discouraged. Try not to convince yourself that you need more breaks than absolutely necessary.

This may not be much to go on, but I believe that if you abide by these tips and get an acceptable amount of sleep every night, you will be able to pull through finals without turning into a drooling, eye-twitching maniac. Best of luck.

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Changes in Frequency: the evolution of KSTO

I can vaguely remember a time when having my own radio show at KSTO sounded like the best idea in the world. Unfortunately, given that I became very busy – very, very quickly – and the fact that I am an incredibly lazy person, gracing the students of St. Olaf with the dulcet tones of my voice for an hour a week never became a reality.

Sadly, my laziness has stayed with me this year, so radio has not become a part of my life. However, this week I had the opportunity to talk with some of the students involved with KSTO. They were each more than happy to impart their knowledge on the nature of radio, their respective shows and general information on KSTO itself.

The station was first brought to life in the 1950s when student workers at WCAL-AM a listener-supported radio station expressed their desire to have a radio show catered to student interests. In the 1970s, WCAL began to grow and needed the space accorded to KSTO by St. Olaf. This expansion eventually lead to

KSTO’s relocation to its current location in the basement of Buntrock.

Incidentally, FM 89.3 The Current was launched at St. Olaf as a sister station to WCAL-AM in the late 1960s. The station was operated at St. Olaf for almost 40 years with programming that focused more on classical music and religion-based shows. In 2004, St. Olaf sold the station to Minnesota Public Radio, and the Current we know today came to life.

As issues with funding and radio reception seemed to continuously pop up, the ’80s and ’90s saw a good deal of fluctuation for KSTO. The AM frequency KSTO operated on became nearly impossible to receive in most residence halls.

It was not until the 1996-1997 academic year that KSTO found its savior: technical director Christian Green ’98. As KSTO had not been able to appropriate the funds necessary for making a full-scale FM conversion, Green proposed an FM alternative that would broadcast only to the residence halls on campus. The decision was made to keep KSTO an “on-campus” radio station, and Green began working to complete the conversion.

Unfortunately, Green was forced to cut his work short and return home for medical reasons. After only a few months of treatment, Green died of cancer in Iowa City, Iowa. Green was a junior at St. Olaf at the time of his death. Though his story is short and heartbreaking, Green’s hard work contributed to KSTO’s standing as a thriving FM campus radio station, and for that, his legacy lives on.

Carolyn Bernhardt ’14, the current manager of KSTO, has been working this year to ensure that Green’s progress was not in vain. The station recently purchased a variety of new equipment, in addition to refurbishing the studio. Instead of using iTunes as a music library, KSTO is now operating with Simian: a system that allows bands and DJs to record and store material in addition to organizing music files.

KSTO also has a new set of microphones, monitors and furniture in the on-air studio. Additionally, Bernhardt has been working to increase the usage of CDs and vinyls on-air, providing an alternative to the much-used music storage software.

Bernhardt hopes that by the new year all of the DJs will have a complete understanding of the new technology. Bernhardt also plans to expand talk radio with an up-and-running news section as early as next semester.

“Modeling the station after NPR has always been the goal”, Bernhardt said.

Though the role of radio as a media outlet is not what it used to be, Bernhardt sees a very bright future for KSTO. Its influence seems to be increasing, due largely in part to an incredibly driven and enthusiastic first-year class.

“The new first-year DJs paired with returning DJs have allowed for a very diverse, varied and knowledgeable station,” Bernhardt said.

Madeline Burbank ’15 – the voice behind a news and politics segment on Tuesdays from 7-8 p.m. – covers everything from events on campus to political relations internationally. Her goal is to keep St. Olaf students from becoming too “stuck in the campus bubble” and to inform us of what is affecting the ever-changing world we live in. For those eager for their daily fill of political commentary, Burbank’s show can be followed on Twitter @STOBuzz.

Andrew Parr ’15 runs a show devoted to classical music, airing Tuesdays from 3-4 p.m. For Parr – a possible music education major – this experience is everything he could have hoped for. His delight comes from the opportunity to expose students to music they may not otherwise listen to.

“What I get to do is everything I’ve always wanted to do. Hopefully I’m giving people the chance to really understand what they’re listening to,” Parr said.

Parr also expressed his appreciation for the radio, admitting his hope that its decline is not permanent. Parr added that it is not as relevant as it was 30 years ago, but argues that there is a great benefit to listening to radio.

“It’s nice because when you’re listening to music by yourself, you don’t have anyone to tell you something about the music,” Parr said. “But DJs on the radio can have something valuable to say.”

Unfortunately, the fact remains that today music is easily accessible through Spotify, Pandora and hundreds upon hundreds of other websites, sweeping the discovery of new music from under radio’s feet. So is there really anything to gain from listening to the radio when we can just as easily open up a few tabs on Firefox?

Zaq Baker ’15, Top 100/Alternative Director and DJ at KSTO, highlights the personal side of radio.

“There’s a very human-to-human component that you just can’t replicate with music software, which lacks a lot of the power that radio has,” Baker said.

If nothing else, KSTO is the epitome of individual expression. Though on-air personalities do have to adhere to Federal Communications Comission’s guidelines, there is no other form of censorship regarding music played or topics discussed.

“If you want to know what Oles are really about, listen to KSTO. The monoculture at St. Olaf does not have a radio show, but the truly interesting Oles who make St. Olaf what it is are the ones that do have shows,” Kevin Jackson ’15 said. “At KSTO, you can get to know the real side of students – the unfiltered side.”

In short, dear Oles, KSTO is not something to be disregarded. Why should radio take a backseat to your iPods? Can your iPods make jokes, provide insight or offer opinions? No.

And Siri doesn’t count.

Things You May Not Know About KSTO

1. The Great Fire: In the 1970s, a fire started in the KSTO section of the WCAL building and caused damages costing upwards of $3,000. The fire destroyed the printer and all of the broadcasting equipment.

2. The New Production Studio: This year, KSTO is working with new equipment in a nicely renovated studio.

3. Live On-Air Shows: KSTO now has a designated space for musicians to perform on-air. This opportunity is extended to all campus bands and musicians.

4. Recording: The studio now has a space where campus musicians and bands can record their material. Additionally, DJs can pre-record shows they would be unavailable to do live.

5. Hope Country: Brent Johnson, the leader of Hope Country – a folk group from Duluth – will be coming later this year into perform on-air before the band’s show at Hogan Brothers.

6. Variety: This year’s lineup houses a large amount of diversity in show type. According to Zaq Baker ’15, there are many different types of DJs with diverse tastes and kinds of shows. “No two shows are quite alike, and that’s really only something college radio can give you,” Baker said.

7. They See You. . .: DJs can actually see how many listeners they have at one time. This can either make them feel really good, or really bad. So, listen up and give these wonderful people some warm and fuzzies.

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Art and fine foods fill distinct niches

I enjoy food. Quite a lot. I won’t pretend that food is not the highlight of my day, nor will I put up the pretense that I do not spend hours of procrastination time looking at beautifully prepared food on the Internet. For you 30 Rock fans out there, the way I see and think about food is pretty similar to the way Liz Lemon sees and thinks about food.

But I do not think my appreciation or adoration for food extends past my wanting to eat it. This is a viewpoint that I would assume most people hold. We love food because food tastes good. Personally, I don’t think it gets much more complicated than that. However, in a recent New York Times opinion piece, William Deresiewicz writes on the growing demand for aesthetically pleasing food. He argues that Americans are now getting their fill of visual stimulation from fancy ganache, not from Caravaggio or Manet.

As I stated earlier, I do enjoy pictures of nice looking food. However, I mainly browse Buzzfeed or the Pinterests of my Facebook friends because I still have no idea how to work the site so my stomach can live vicariously through the aforementioned pictures. But Deresiewicz writes on beautiful food as though it is a way of living. He argues that the rich and sophisticated now take more pride in their knowledge of fine foods than in their knowledge of fine art. Maybe this is true of the Upper East Side Manhattan-dwelling elite, but Deresiewicz extends his assertion to the youth of America as well. “Food, for young people now,” he writes, “is creativity, commerce, politics, health, almost religion.”

His reasoning behind this assumption lies in his perception that more and more young adults are pursuing careers in the food business. Here, I find him at fault. I know far more aspiring photographers and sculptors than I do cooks. There is a reason why the unemployed artist is such a popular stereotype – there are just so many of them. Deresiewicz directs most of his argument at pretentious which we are, don’t deny it colleges snobs like us and thus seems to be laboring under the delusion that we take no appreciation in the paintings and sculptures that grace the halls of museums. I find that to be absurd.

Granted, knowledge of fine art can be lacking in those high school-aged and younger. However, college is a time where most strive to prove their individualism. At a school like St. Olaf, everybody wants to stand out. What better way is there to stand out than to embrace something that was ignored in high school? Art is adored here; never before have I seen so many Dali posters or heard so many references to Andy Warhol. As far as food goes, most of the discussion seems to be along the same lines of what runs through my own head. I hear much more of “Ahh, that looks so good” and “I would eat ALL of that!” than, “Oh, yes, the juxtaposition of the green in the arugula and the red in the peppers was exquisite. Quite.”

Deresiewicz is probably basing his argument on some large, yet unseen and much more ridiculously food-obsessed than I am, population of young adults. In his closing paragraphs, he details the differences between food and art, and that, though it may be hard to believe, food is not in fact art. To me, these are fairly obvious observations. Of course food is not art. Of course art expresses ideas and emotions far better than food ever could. Of course food does not provide insight into human beings in the same way that art does. But, if we agree that his article is aimed at that previously mentioned population of youth, then pointing out to them that food and art, while both pleasing to the eye, are completely different entities makes slightly more sense.

Mira Sen ’15 is from Batavia, Ill. She majors in political science and English.

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Volleyball falls to Augsburg in fifth set

The St. Olaf volleyball team hosted Augsburg College as part of a “Dig Pink” event on Oct. 21 in Skoglund Center. All proceeds from the game went to Side-Out, a foundation that provides grants to research facilities dedicated tot helping and supporting breast cancer patients and their families.

Though the Oles played a fast and vicious game, the Auggies narrowly defeated them in the fifth set.

Within the first five minutes of the first set, the score was already 13-11 in favor of the Oles. Kelly Heissel ’14 was responsible for some intense, high-power kills 12 throughout the five sets while Maggie Prunty ’15 blocked Augsburg’s offensive attempts again and again.

Despite St. Olaf’s valiant efforts, Augsburg took the first set in a 26-24 win. Both teams displayed extraordinary skill and during the last few minutes of the game, St. Olaf kept the Auggies on their toes by tying the score up every time Augsburg pulled ahead.

During the second set, Melissa Burch ’13 displayed her skill, wowing the crowd with her spikes. The Oles quickly pulled ahead and

eventually took the set 25-18.

Augsburg claimed an early lead during the third set, and though St. Olaf managed to tie the set briefly, Augsburg eventually won 25-13.

The tables turned in the fourth set. Aided by the firepower of Ariel Carlson ’13, the Oles easily won 25-20. However, Augsburg took the game in the fifth set with a 15-12 win.

The Oles played their last regular-season home game of the season on Oct. 24, besting Macalester College 3-1. With the win, St. Olaf’s record stands at 10-20, 6-4 MIAC. The Oles face off at Carleton College for their last regular-season game on Oct. 27.

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The reign of Pitchfork Media reviews

There is an episode of “Family Guy” where Brian, the ultra-liberal dog, makes a 180-degree shift by supporting Republican conservatism. It so just happens that his dramatic change in ideology occurred at the time when America as a whole seemed to be favoring the left wing. Lois tells Brian, “I think you just got to be in the ‘out’ group. Whoever’s on top, whoever’s in power, whoever’s successful, you gotta be on the other side or you don’t feel like the smartest guy in the room. All you are, my dear, is a contrarian.”

That, friends, is Pitchfork Media in a nutshell.

Granted, Pitchfork’s review of Muse’s new album, The 2nd Law, is pretty spot on. For the most part, however, the website tends to hate things worth loving, like kittens, puppies and As Tall As Lions. Pitchfork will remain loyal to Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens and Wolf Parade. After all, Pitchfork brought them into the world. From the day those artists arrived on the planet and stepped into the sun, blinking, Pitchfork was there for them. God forbid, however, that a band do well without Pitchfork’s help.

The reviewers do not seem to be fans of the artist’s oldest friend: influence. If an emerging band is ever so slightly lacking in originality, Pitchfork deems it unworthy. Most artists, in some way, copy bits and pieces from great musicians past. There is a reason why on Facebook band pages there is an “Influenced by” paragraph in the “About” section. So why are similarities such a crime to the good people at Pitchfork?

Bias against borrowing aside, the overall language of Pitchfork’s reviews leave something to be desired. Almost every review of an album or track scoring less than an eight out of 10 contains wording that is, in general, rather disdainful. When this is paired with Pitchfork’s overwhelming influence on the hipster population, the reader of these reviews typically walks away skeptical of the artist in question.

This is all very well and good; Pitchfork is, of course, a website centered on music critique. The fact remains, however, that followers of Pitchfork tend to do whatever the reviewers tell them to do. Unfortunately, all this does is give wannabe music snobs even more firepower in their unbearable pretension.

Also, Pitchfork ranked the album of a young man whose lyrics include “Tell me that pussy is mine” higher than The Black Keys’ Brothers. What?

Luckily, there are plenty of other music blogs on the Internet that do not follow the lines that Pitchfork has set. Metacritic, a site that reviews all things entertainment, gives readers more room to decide themselves whether or not they like an album. The site compiles reviews ranging in rank from a collection of critics, Pitchfork among them, allowing music lovers to examine a variety of perspectives.

Some of the best blogs are the ones that are somewhat community-based. Best Indie Rock Playlists or BIRP! is everything needed in a music blog. It houses the typical music blog necessities: interviews, videos, etc. Then there are the reviews, which are done both by the people who run the site and the people who visit the site. The staff is also typically in open conversation with users of the site, taking in and considering their opinions. The best part, though, is the monthly playlists the admins put together for the general enjoyment of their audiences. These playlists, out at the beginning of every month, can be torrented which is illegal, kiddos, so please avoid that. Also, these artists typically need the money or streamed directly from the site.

It might not be fair to compare Pitchfork to these other blogs. Pitchfork’s articles are written by paid professionals, who probably have some sort of quota of unfavorable reviews to fill. Blogs like BIRP! and Did.You Hear The New Mixtape? likely attract a very different blogger than Pitchfork. The main point here, though, is that the latter do not necessarily dictate what we should and should not listen to. Pitchfork, on the other hand, would likely be unable to survive without that power.

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