“The Post”: A win for women

by Lauren Farrar–

Free popcorn night at The Lyric Theatre is one way to draw an audience, but Oscar-nominated film The Post is another.

Washington, D.C., April 14 – The Capitol: The Post is set in Washington, D.C. during the Pentagon Papers government scandal. Photo: Nicolas Raymond

The Post details the Washington Post’s decision-making process to publish the Pentagon Papers and leads up to the landmark Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. United States. One notable feature of the film is its feminist message, especially with Meryl Streep portraying the country’s first female newspaper publisher Kay Graham.

One cannot help but cringe at the way men treat women in the film, which is set in the early 1970s. Graham deals with criticism throughout the movie, and she must decide whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers with a lack of trust from many of her male colleagues. More troubling, though, are the actions related to body language and aggressive male dominance.

The cinematic decision to highlight what is now considered unacceptable acts toward women made the feminist message more evident. The characters’ responses to this sexism are also evident. Movie-goers might hear someone else in the audience express triumph when Graham suggests firing one of the board members for his disrespect. Perhaps there is a positive response when Tony Bradlee, wife of the Washington Post’s executive editor Ben Bradlee, defends Graham and her struggle as a female professional.

The film’s feminist angle is admirable. It would have been easy to leave this aspect out of the story given the focus on government scandal and freedom of the press during the Nixon administration. Instead, screenwriters took the opportunity with Graham’s position and the social standards of the time to highlight sexist problems.

Between the modern-day call for gender equality and movements like the “Me Too” campaign, women now bear a stronger voice than the 1970s woman. One can only hope that Hollywood will continue to use stories like the Washington Post’s to contribute to the female voice.

Benefits of essential oils, diffuser

by Molly Bryant–

After reading about the history of essential oils, it was interesting to find that they have been used in cultures around the world centuries. While some used them for religious reasons, others found that they had significant healing powers for the sick.

Blacksburg, Va., Jan. 31 – Essential Oil Pack: One brand of essential oils, called Plantlife, offers 100% pure essential oil packs that are ideal for essential oil diffusers. Plantlife offers packs in a variety of scents. Photo: Molly Bryant

Today, essential oils are still not only used across different cultures but frequently used within spas and homes. A new product taking the natural-living market by storm, and one that I had to try, is the essential oil diffuser. With properties similar to a humidifier, consumers of the essential oil diffuser are said to reap serious health benefits.

Depending on your health needs, each oil has different healing properties. Eucalyptus oil, for example, can be diffused to fight respiratory diseases and aid concentration, while lavender oil has stress-relieving properties and the ability to aid in healing migraines. Have a big interview coming up and need a boost of confidence? Rosemary and jasmine oils are proven to help calm nerves and have uplifting qualities. The question now is: with so many oils on the market, how do you know you’re getting a quality product to use for your diffuser?

One easy way to tell an oil is quality versus cheap is to put a drop of the oil on a white piece of computer paper. After allowing the oil to settle and dry, observe the paper to see if an oil ring was left behind. If there is a prominent ring of oil left behind, the oil is not pure.

Blacksburg, Va., Jan. 31 – PureSpa Oil Diffuser: The essential oil diffuser I purchased from Target was designed by PureSpa and changes colors as the oils diffuse.

Now that you know how to choose your oils, how do you choose the right diffuser?

The truth about diffusers is, the most important part is the quality of the oils, rather than the quality of the diffuser. Mine cost only $29.99 and has been perfect.

If I could recommend anything to overly-stressed and exhausted college students, this would be it. My diffuser has helped me wind down at the end of a long day and destress on the tough weeks. It’s not only a natural solution but also an affordable one.

Could Justin Fuente leave Virginia Tech?

by Chase Parker–

CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 14, 2017 — Head Hokie: Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente speaks to the media at the 2017 ACC Media Day. Photo: Chase Parker

On Nov. 29, 2015, Virginia Tech officially named Justin Fuente as its head football coach. He was tasked with replacing a legend in Frank Beamer and rebuilding a program that had dropped into the realm of mediocrity. So far, he’s shown that he’s capable of accomplishing both tasks.

But not even two years later, the Hokies could be in danger of losing him.

Why, you may ask? One word: Florida.

In late October, the Florida Gators decided to part ways with then-head coach Jim McElwain, leaving one of the most coveted head coaching positions vacant.

According to SECCountry.com, the Virginia Tech head coach’s name has been floating around as a possible replacement.

But will Fuente leave for Gator Country? Probably not.

For starters, it would cost Florida a lot of money to acquire the 41-year-old head coach. This past offseason, Fuente agreed to a contract extension through the 2023 season that would pay over $3.5 million per year, which would increase up to $4 million per season by 2023, per the Roanoke Times. The Gators would have to offer him at least $4.5 million per year to pull him from Blacksburg.

On top of the hefty bill that it would take to sign Fuente, Florida would have to pay $6 million just to buy-out the contract from Virginia Tech. That may very well be more money than the Gators are willing to fork out.

Dollar signs aside, who’s to say that Fuente even wants to leave his gig at Virginia Tech behind? So far, he’s given absolutely no inclination that he wants to leave the Hokies in the dust, and he’s given every hint that he absolutely loves life as a Hokie.

When he signed his contract extension, he said, “My family feels incredibly blessed that I’m able to work at Virginia Tech and we’re able to call Blacksburg our home.”

Rumors are going to keep floating around until Florida makes its final decision, but odds are that Hokie fans have nothing to worry about, and that Fuente will stay in command of the football program for many years to come.

Ways to study away for your next midterm

by Katelyn Meade–

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For most college student, midterms have begun. This is the time to really put your knowledge to the test in your classes and see how much you’ve learned so far this semester. But some students, specifically freshman, often find themselves at a loss for how to study for these heft exams. Below you’ll find some study tips for your upcoming midterm:

Write and rewrite

For those people that learn by writing, sometimes the best thing you can do is go through your notes and just rewrite them by hand. Then do it again. And again. While it may be time consuming, for some people this really is the most effective way to learn new information. This article even suggests that you should handwrite all of your notes rather than typing them.

Color coding

This may seem silly, but color coding your notes can really help you remember the information. Try writing in a different color for every chapter, or writing all key terms in one color and all dates or formulas in a different color. You’ll be surprised how well you remember information based on what color it was in.


Again, this may seem silly, like you’re back in elementary school. But there’s a reason you remember your simple arithmetic, and it’s the flashcards. These cards train you to be able to pull information our of your brain quickly, and will really help on fill in the blank questions.  For more reasons why flashcards are so effective, see this article by Brain Scape.

Sometimes it can be hard to find what study techniques work for you, but these are some of the proven greats.

Harry Potter sequel casts a spell of disappointment

Photo credit: SunnyDayStarryNight via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

by Becky Shumar–

If you’re expecting Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to be the “floo powder” that takes you back to a familiar land of magic and adventure, you’ll be very disappointed. The book is the script for a play in London, written by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne and J.K. Rowling. It’s obvious the book is not strictly a Rowling masterpiece because it lacks continuity with the seven previous books in the series. However, despite the book being written in script format, it is an easy read.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child picks up right where the last chapter of the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, leaves off. But that’s about the only familiar part of the entire book. The original main characters, Hermione, Harry and Ron, have key parts in the plot. However, their personalities are virtually unrecognizable.

The book’s main character is Albus Potter, Harry Potter’s youngest son. Albus appears to be the opposite of Harry, which creates a strained relationship between him and his famous hero father. Albus and his father’s interactions paint a negative picture of the celebrated Harry Potter. The nostalgia of Wizarding World of Harry Potter is tainted by this lackluster sequel, which changes the way fans will view beloved characters.

However, if you think of this book as something separate from the original series it is actually entertaining. Albus travels back in time and ends up facing some of the same villains as Harry did in the previous books. But the authors could have spent more time developing the plot. Each scene is rushed and time flies in the blink of an eye. The first quarter of the book takes readers through three years of school, paying very little attention to detail.

Overall, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child gets three out of five stars. It was enjoyable for a one time read, but I don’t think I’ll be reading it again. Readers must separate the book from the original Harry Potter series or they won’t be able to appreciate the story.

Budgeting tips for independent students

Photo via Foter.com

by Isabella Post–

College students struggle financially, between high tuition prices, book and lab fees spending money can be almost nonexistent.  Within this division of students are an entirely different breed, the independent student.

I’m not talking about the student whose parents are not paying for their college or won’t send a monthly allowance.  I’m talking about students classified as independent according to financial aid records.  According to FAFSA there are 10 different qualifications to becoming an independent student.  Some of these cases include having a child, being above the age of 23, veteran status, being married, or orphaned.

This different qualification gives students the opportunity to earn more grants and government loans but personal expenses can be tricky.  As an independent student myself, I have come up with some easy tricks to budget funds.

First, get a meal plan.  They may seem expensive in terms of tuition but with plenty of late nights and tight schedules bound to occur throughout the semester this option will end up being way cheaper than take out or fast food.

Second, get a job with consistent hours.  This is key.  Having a part time job that cancels hours or cuts shifts short can hurt income.  Opt for a job with a locked in schedule for ease and consistency.

Finally, pick a set number your bank account is not allowed to go under each month.  If you know one month will have higher expenses- plan for it! For me, I don’t let my checking account go below $500.  If this means I have vet bills or car repairs coming up the month before I will set my baseline higher (around $600 or $700) the month before in preparation.

These simple things will help independent and dependent students alike manage their money in a quick way that still allows for easy spending .

Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Coachella alternatives in Virginia

Photo credit: Music News Australia via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

by Ashley Cimino –

Music festival season is upon! The Lollapalooza 2017 lineup was announced at the end of March, and with Coachella gearing to open its gates on April 14th, many are looking for where to get their summer music fix.

However, tickets for many of these festivals have already sold out and are available only through online ticket exchanges like StubHub and VividSeats. These second-hand sites allow the original buyers to sell their tickets for over face value and can include hefty convenience fees. Cheaper alternatives to the “name brand” festivals are to find smaller scale festivals near you to cut travel and lodging costs. In Virginia, there are a couple exciting options for indie music followers and Americana enthusiasts:

Located on a farm, LOCKN’ is a quiant Americana and folk festival in Nelson County. The lineup includes must-see acts like The Avett Brothers, Margo Price, Jim James, and Brandi Carlile.

PRO: Big names, close to home

CON: Tier 1 tickets are priced at $279, which is more than Bonnaroo’s prices for 2017.

FloydFest is a staple to the Southwest Virginia music scene. Each year it pulls bigger artists and audiences. This year is no exception as the top headliners are Thievery Corporation, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and St. Paul & the Broken Bones.

PRO: This year’s workshop lineup for the festival is almost as impressive as the music lineup. Check out Miss Kitty’s Cosmonaut’s workshop to learn to walk on stilts!

CON: The Blueridge Parkway is the main road to reach the festival grounds. This can mean big backups on narrow roads. Always try your best to plan ahead for stops!

Hokies looking towards NFL stardom

by Stephen Dixon–

draft ball
CLEVELAND, Oct. 31, 2016 – 2017 NFL Draft: The NFL Draft, held April 27 through April 30, will be located in Philadelphia for the first time since 1961. Photograph: Associated Press

With the NFL Combine concluding on March 6 and free agency quieting down, all eyes are turned towards the 2017 NFL Draft. Virginia Tech fans have much to look forward to in regards to the draft after a 10-win season. Several players declared, left school early and are projected to be selected in the draft. This post will inform Tech fans on which Hokies the experts predict will be drafted.

BLACKSBURG, March 20 – First Hokie: Bucky Hodges is projected by many scouts to be the first Virginia Tech player taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. Photograph: USA TODAY

First on the list of probable draftees is tight end Bucky Hodges. Standing six feet six inches tall, Hodges will be a matchup nightmare for defenses at the next level. He is too tall to be covered by a cornerback and too athletic to be guarded by a linebacker. His athleticism blew scouts away at the NFL Combine when he ran a 4.57 second 40-yard-dash and broke the combine record with 134-inch broad jump.

The biggest weakness on Hodges’ resume is his poor blocking technique. He was very rarely asked to block in Justin Fuente’s spread offense and will need to improve to handle the physicality of the NFL.

Hodges is widely regarded as a second or third round pick, and is the 74th overall prospect according to CBS.com.

isaiah ford
BLACKSBURG, Sept. 26, 2014 – Leaping Catch:  Isaiah Ford has great hands and an impressive vertical leap, which may transition to a lucrative NFL career. Photograph: Michael Shroyer

Next is Isaiah Ford, a wide receiver who rewrote every career receiving record at Virginia Tech. After three years as a starter, Ford leaves with the most catches (210), receiving touchdowns (24) and receiving yards (2967) in school history. NFL scouts are intrigued in Ford’s play-making ability as he secured several miraculous catches during his collegiate career. He is a solid route runner who knows how to use his hips and feet to create separation from defenders.

Despite a record-setting three seasons at Virginia Tech, scouts are skeptical of his NFL capabilities. His NFL Combine performance was underwhelming with a 4.61 second 40-yard-dash and 14 reps on the bench press. However, most experts still envision him being selected in the third or fourth round.

Several other Hokies are projected to be selected in the later rounds of the draft. Quarterback Jerod Evans, who broke every major passing record at Virginia Tech, is a wildcard as he could go high as the third round or as low as the seventh. Fan-favorite Sam Rogers will likely be taken as a sixth or seventh round pick as a fullback and potential starter on special teams. Safety Chuck Clark, defensive end Ken Ekanem and defensive tackle Woody Baron are three defensive players who may be drafted late or earn opportunities as undrafted free agents.

So, did I learn anything?

Photo credit: faungg’s photos via Foter.com / CC BY-ND


by Blayne Fink–

I have spent the last seventeen years of my life playing the game of soccer for a number of teams across the state of Virginia, with the most recent team being for the Virginia Tech women’s soccer team. While the life of a division one athlete may seem glamorous to outsiders, over the last four years I have faced numerous physical, mental, and emotional battles. However, it wasn’t all that bad, I did manage to pick up a few things along the way and now that my playing days are over I finally have a chance to reflect on the three most valuable lessons I have learned over these past four years.

1.You are a product of your choices, not a victim of your circumstances

Everyone was a superstar in high school, but not everyone can be the superstar in college. In my four years of collegiate soccer I played in a total of five games. Yes, you read that right, five. I was given the tough, and as some might put it, unfortunate, role of being the backup goalkeeper. However, I made the best of the situation every chance that I was given because I was bound and determined to be the best backup there was and even more so, the best teammate there was.

2.The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough

That brick wall is a road block positioned strategically to keep you from succeeding. The game of soccer has shown me that what separates the good from the great is that innate ability to get over that brick wall. Everyone wants to be great, but you have to be willing to do the work to make that happen.

3.Do it because you love it

There is no greater disservice to oneself than doing a task with half of your effort or half of your heart. If you do not love what you are doing, don’t do it anymore (disregarding taxes and laundry because you have no choice but to do it). Regardless of what it may be, do it with your whole heart, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the only way to do it.


A Lesson in Love: The History of Valentine’s Day

Photo courtesy of www.mechtron.com

by Clare Rigney–

Few people would say that Valentine’s Day is their favorite holiday. On this hyper-commercialized day, people express love to their significant others by buying things like chocolate or flowers, but how did it become this way?

Some may know of one of Valentine’s Day’s origin stories: according to History.com, a Catholic priest in Rome named Valentine was executed for marrying Christians after Emperor Claudius II made it illegal. However, according to NPR, there are records of two Catholics named Valentine being executed during the third century. The man was executed after helping Christians escape Roman captivity. He allegedly fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and began sending her notes written, ‘From your Valentine.’ However, the records are cryptic and may be describing the same man in both stories.

The Church wanted to honor Valentine (whichever one he was) and had little difficulty picking a day. A violent annual pagan celebration known as Lupercalia, in which men would beat women with animal hides, took place between February 13 and 15. Around the year 496, Emperor Galasius I declared February 14 as Valentine’s Day in order to replace Lupercalia, according to The Telegraph.

So how did a Christian holiday that overwrote a pagan fertility festival become so commercialized? According to History.com, the letters of love related to this holiday that we know as ‘Valentines’ appeared around the year 1400. Before then, people were gifting things to lovers, but it wasn’t common to write them down because of large-scale illiteracy. Writers like Chaucer and Shakespeare then further romanticized the date by mentioning it in their works. In 1847, Esther Howland of Worcester began selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in America. Hallmark jumped on this trend in 1913. This day now sees the second most cards of any American holiday besides Christmas, with over one billion cards being sent every year.

Normally overshadowed by front runners like Christmas and the Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day has a connection to Roman emperors and Renaissance enlightenment that creates an, unsurprisingly, violent and romantic history.

Photo courtesy of www.history.com