Sidelines Features

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Fun Facts for Thanksgiving

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With Thanksgiving only a week away, here are some interesting facts and histories about this uniquely American holiday. Impress your friends and family with your Thanksgiving knowledge and learn a little extra about a major cultural aspect of American history.

The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in the year 1621 and invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians also to the feast. The first Thanksgiving feast was held in the presence of around ninety Wampanoag Indians and the Wampanoag chief, Massasoit, was also invited there. The celebration lasted for three days. The women didn’t participate. Most of them were too busy cooking.

George Washington established the first official Thanksgiving holiday on 1789 and again in 1795.  Magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale started a Thanksgiving campaign in 1827 and it was result of her efforts that in 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ which established Thanksgiving as a holiday on the last Thursday in Novemeber.

The final date for Thanksgiving and the one we now celebrate was established by FDR in 1939 as the fourth Thursday in Novemeber in order to extend the Christmas shopping season and stimulate the econony during the Great Depression.

Not all of American’s founding fathers liked the idea of Thanksgiving. Thomas Jefferson thought the concept of Thanksgiving was “the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard.” Also, it was Thomas Jefferson’s symbol of the eagle as American’s national bird that beat out Benjamin Franklin’s suggestion that America adopt as its symbol the noble turkey.

When it comes to talking turkey, 91% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving and 50% of those American. On the West Coast of the US, Dungeness crab is common as an alternate main dish instead of turkey, as crab season starts in early November. However, Californians are the biggest consumers of turkey year round.

Turkeys were one of the first wild animals in North America to be domesticated. he wild turkey is native to northern Mexico  and the eastern United States. Later it was domesticated in Mexico, and was brought into Europe early in the 16th century. To this day, wild turkeys have a darker meat and taste differently from domesticated ones. A spooked turkey can run at speeds up to 20 miles per hour. They can also burst into flight approaching speeds between 50-55 mph in a matter of seconds.

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began on  November 27, 1924 when the first parade was held. For over 75 years, the parade has begun with the song “Let’s Have a Parade!” The first helium balloons where introduced to the parade in 1928. The balloons were released after the parade until 1933 when public safety concerns stopped the practice.

The first television broadcast was on CBS in 1953 but was moved to NBC in 1955. Santa Claus has ended the parade every year except 1933, the only year in which he led the parade, and in 1942-1944 when the parade was canceled due to World War II. The parade managed until 1989 without encountering a snow storm. The parade went on that year, despite a blizzard blanketing the New York City streets.

So, impress your friends and family with Thanksgiving trivia and have a happy holiday!


Written by slfeatures

11/18/2009 at 2:38 PM

Ten Tips to Keeping Healthy in College

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Its common knowledge that college is pretty bad for your health. With all of that fried, greasy cheap food they offer on campus to all of that time you spend cooped up in your room working on papers to all of that stress and pressure, college isn’t exactly conducive to a healthy lifestyle. However, there are some things you can do while in college to help promote a healthy lifestyle.

Here are some helpful tips on how to stay healthy around the college campus:

1. Get plenty of sleep – Students tend to put sleep last on their list of priorities, but sleep is actually pretty essential to overall health. It has been proven that those who get more sleep and sleep on a regular schedule are less susceptible to disease than those who pull all-nighters or find themselves on their Facebook page until three in the morning.

2. Walk whenever you can – take the stairs instead of the elevator when going to class. Walk across campus rather than hitching a ride with a friend. Taking a few extra steps each day will help you burn those calories.

3. Better yet, get a bike – Biking to your classes and around campus in general helps you burn twice as many calories as walking and also helps you get where you’re going twice as fast. Not to mention, you’re being environmentally friendly.

4. Drink water, not booze – its no secret that beer leads to a beer belly. Instead of indulging in benders of heavy weekend drinking, tone it down and reach for that bottle of water instead. Drinking water is one of the most essential things to your health. In fact, the Surgeon General recommends that the average adult should drink between six to eight cups of water a day.

5. Make healthy eating choices – First and foremost, breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day. You’re actually more likely to gain weight if you don’t eat breakfast. Make sure that you eat enough but also that you eat well-proportioned meals. Skipping that greasy hamburger for a salad is also your best bet.

6. Visit the on campus clinic – Get check ups when you feel you’re getting sick. These clinics can usually offer you cheap prescriptions as well as cheap vaccines for diseases like the flu and H1N1. The on-campus health clinic can also provide you treatment for STDs as well as birth control and condoms. After all, sexual health is a big contributer to your overall health so:

7. Use protection – Have safe sex. Protect yourself and others from diseases that could permanently sabotage your health. Also make sure you are emotionally ready for sexual activity. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, report this to your campus police and seek counseling.

8. Take advantage of counseling services – Over half of college students report feeling suicidal and its no wonder with all of the pressures on us. If you are feeling down or just need someone to talk to, to rant at, or to listen to you bitch, the on-campus counseling services are happy and ready to listen.

9. Use the Rec Center and Phys Ed classes – Your tuition pays to keep that Rec Center open and stocked with cool equipment, so use it! Swim, shoot some hoops, use the exercise equipment, play squash, or run the track. If you have a spare hour during your schedule, sign up for a yoga, pilates, dance, tennis, bowling, or any of the other fun exercise classes your school offers. Its a guaranteed exercise time a couple days a week.

10. Join a group – Get a bunch of friends together to run around campus every morning. Join an inter mural team. Just throw the frisbee around the quad with your friends. Its a lot easier to keep exercising if you have buddies to keep encouraging you.

For more information on exercise in college, check out this site.

Written by slfeatures

11/15/2009 at 1:51 PM

Take out loans, not debt

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StudentDebtIt seems that student loans start out as a seemingly easy way to pay for college: you borrow it now when you don’t have money and when you get out and get that big fancy job, you pay them back. Unfortunately, due to the unregulated college loan industry and the downward economy, making that dream job further out of grasp, students are finding those too-good-to-be-true student loans they took are freshman year really were too-good-to-be-true.

According to, two-thirds of students graduate college in debt and the average amount of debt for that graduating senior is $23,186. The also state that 86.3% students have to take out some form of loan or borrowed money in order to pay for their education. According to the American Student Assistance site,  lenders provided about $17 billion in private loans, a 592% last year, increase from a decade earlier. American Indian and Black students take out the highest percentage of college loans.

There are several trustworthy Web sites that offer federal loans and are there to educate students about the risks versus the rewards of taking out student loans. Sallie Mae helps students take out, manage, and repay their loans as well as gives financial advice about what to do with loan money and easier ways to pay back without going deeper and deeper into debt. The American Student Assistance program (AMSA) tries to help change policy around college loans to benefit students and offers workshops for students to become more financially educated and sound. The United States Department of Education also offers advice on how to pay for school and various safe resources students can use. is a site from the people who know what its like to be up to their eyeballs in debt and offer up sage advice on how to pay back money you have taken out and are having trouble paying it back.

As a rule of thumb, research before you borrow money from anyone for any reason.

Written by slfeatures

11/08/2009 at 1:22 PM

White House Halloween

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capt.photo_1257045854699-1-0One of the cutest things I’ve seen in the world was the White House this Halloween. With the President and First Lady handing out candy to local children to professionaly carved pumpkins by local design students to the band of skeletons performing Halloween tunes, the White House staff went all out on Halloween this year. I think its a nice change, embracing the second most popular holiday after Christmas, a holiday that encourages children to embrace imagination and promotes community fellowship through the act of handing out candy to the neighborhood kids.

This is a real change from last Halloween when the only decoration the White House needed was Old Man Cheney standing on the front lawn, letting all the little kiddies know they weren’t welcome, when Halloween was all about Satanism and Devil worship.

Obama HalloweenThe idea of the Prez and the First Lady handing out candy on their front lawn, just like millions of people across their country, really makes them seem like they could be the couple next door. Its just that they live in a house that is tons bigger and whiter than the rest of us.

The fact that they played part in the dress up is great too. Michelle Obama was dressed as a Cat, Robert Gibbs dressed up as Darth Vader alongside his son, and UN Ambassador Susan Rice came as Goofy, among others. The event was sponsored by the National Park Association.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, the goodies handed out at the White House included  “White House M&Ms, a sweet dough butter cookie from the White House pastry shop and, of course, some dried fruit (cherries, apricots, pears, apples and papayas).” Its nice to see they mixed the traditional candy goodies with some healthy Halloween treatas as well.

The Obamas managed to set a pretty good example of being neighborly, treating over 2,000 kids to Halloween treats. Regardless of politics, I think we all can learn a little from this Halloween goodwill.

MTSU hosts Chinese Film Festival

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The Electronic Media Department at MTSU is showing a series of films made by the sixth generation of Chinese filmmakers. The films will be shown every Sunday in November at 6:00 with a discussion following each film lead by a professorial candidate. The screeninsg will be held in room 103 of the John Bragg Mass Communications Building. Here are the films in order:

Nov. 1: You Shoot, I Shoot
Directed by Pang Ho-Cheung, this film was shot in 1999 but not released until 2001. The film is a black comedy about Bart (Eric Kot), a hitman who’s business is suffering doing to a downward turn in the economy. He finally gets a job from Mrs. Ma (Fei-lin Miao), who is being blackmailed with  a sex tape she made. Mrs. Ma tells Bart to kill all of her ex-lovers and film their murders as a final revenge. When the first video comes out terrible, Bart hires his friend filmmaker Chuen (Tat-Ming Cheung), in order to make the films more artistic.

Nov. 8: If You Are The One
This 2008 romantic comedy directed by Xiaogang Feng is about Qin Fen (You Ge), who somehow manages to strike it rich with a silly invention and uses his money to start dating online. After some terrible blind dates, he meets Smiley (Qi Shu), a flight attendant who is definitely out of his league. The couple end up meeting again in Japan where their romance blossoms.

Nov. 15: Gao Xing
Premiering this very in February, this film is probably the newest in the festival. Directed by the up-and-coming Agan and based on a novel by one of China’s best contemporary novelist, Jia Pingwa, this film is about the struggles of Chinese migrant workers. Leaving behind their rural lives as farmers, the workers seek fortune and happiness in the big city. Tao Guo stars as the lead character, Gao Xing.

Nov. 22: The Sun Also Rises
After being in production for five years, actor/director Wen Jiang finally produced this magnificent film with amazingly artistic backdrops and imagery. The film skips around in time a bit, showing how the different paths that cross our lives shape who we become. The film also shifts locations, showing the diversity of China’s landscape from Yunnan village, a campus, and the Gobi Desert. The film won several awards in various film competitions across China.

Written by slfeatures

10/28/2009 at 8:33 PM

Breast Cancer Affects Everyone

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It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, man or woman, breast cancer has the ability to strike you or someone you love. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, people across the country are Thinking Pink and everyone from KISS drummer Peter Criss to First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Though heart related problems are the number one killer of women, Breast Cancer Awareness has been promoted because medicine traditionally takes a male perspective to finding cures and cures for diseases that primarily affect women have been ignored by the medical communities for the majority of history.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation has information about early detection, support groups for those who have been diagnosed, and offers a Mammogram Donation program, allowing you to give to those less fortunate who cannot afford a mamogram even though they may be at risk.  The site also sponsors Janelle’s Blog, which is the advice and memoirs of a woman who has been a 29-year-survivor of breast cancer.

One of the most esteemed foundations is  Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which sponsors a variety of fundraising walks and races for Breast Cancer around the country and the world. The site sponsors grants for breast cancer research, promotes participation in awareness events, and offers support groups for the wide variety of people diagnosed by breast cancer. Susan G. Komen, for whom the foundation was named, spent much of her time while suffering from cancer thinking of ways to improve the quality of care and research methods for fellow sufferers. The foundation was started by her sister Nancy G. Brinker, to promote the cause to which Susan dedicated herself. is a Web site that devotes itself to the medicial aspects of breast cancer. It offers self-diagnosis tips, breast exam how-tos, medical risks, genetic risk factors, and advice for those who have been diagnosed with cancer about nutrition, therapy, chemo, radiation treatments, and how to tell if you have gone into remission. The site explores the various myths and facts about breast cancer and has blogs and articles written by the premier medical doctors in the field. The American Cancer Society also has medical information about breast cancer and what to expect.

For a more personal look at breast cancer, you can access blogs written by those who are currently dealing with the disease. Jacki Donaldson’s blog has followed her bout with breast cancer since November of 2004 and how she must juggle being a working mother while fighting off breast cancer. Caroline’s Breast Cancer blog follows the journey of a young woman as she experiences the struggles, fears, and stress involved in the fight against breast cancer. My Fight with Breast Cancer is another blog of  Karen who was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at only 29 years old after the cancer was previously misdiagnosed as a cyst. Some of the proceeds from the blog go to help Karen pay for her expensive medical treatments. Health Central also offers tons of blogs about breast cancer, giving others an inside look into what it is like.

However Breast Cancer has made its presence known in your life or even if you haven’t had any personal exposure to it yet, these resources are a great way to get educated and to start thinking pink.

Written by slfeatures

10/25/2009 at 2:12 PM

More info on Domestic Violence and how you can help

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For those of you who have read Katie Fowler’s article about Domestic Violence in Murfreesboro, here are some more resources and information that could not make it into the original article. These are all from Katie with links by me:

“Restore” is a state certified domestic violence intervention program in Murfreesboro located at 714 West Main Street, and can be reached at 615-890-8402. According to the brochure for the program it is “a 26 week education program for men” who “have a problem using violence and abuse in their relationships.”

For help, or to volunteer, at the June Anderson Women’s Center get in touch with them through the Web site or call them at 615-898-2193.

The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program of Murfreesboro is in need of volunteers. There are also internship positions available. Call Volunteer Coordinator India Rogers @ 615-896-7377 or go online to apply.

Any fraternities or sororities in need of a community service project are also encouraged to contact the program, or apply at the web address.

A self-defense demonstration was held at the Guardian Mixed Martial Arts gym located at 313b South Church Street in Murfreesboro on Oct. 2. The event was sponsored by Lambda Theta Phi fraternity, and co-sponsored by Lambda Theta Alpha sorority. Both the fraternity and the sorority are focusing on domestic violence issues as their philanthropy.

The fraternities organized the hour long self-defense demonstration in cooperation with the staff of the Guardian Mixed Martial Arts gym. The instructors, who donated their time, for the demonstration were gym owner Doug Frazier, and staff member Anthony Gomez.  The organizers were charged a $50 gym rental fee.

The participants made donations to the fraternity for their participation in the event. The fraternity gave all the money raised to the Domestic Violence  and Sexual Assault Program of Murfreesboro. Both Lambda Theta Phi and Lambda Theta Alpha intend to arrange more self-defense demonstrations in cooperation with the Guardian Mixed Martial Arts Gym. They will be asking that all participants make a donation.

The participants in the demonstration were shown several techniques on how to get away from an attacker. Beginning with learning about balance, and ending with a demonstration on how to get an attacker, who has grabbed you from behind, off of you, the demonstration was packed with highly beneficial information.

To contact Lambda Theta Phi for more information about future self-defense demonstration nights email Richard Denney at Contact Doug Frazier, owner of Guardian Mixed Martial Arts gym, at 615-796-3919 or on the web for more information about classes offered at the gym and future self-defense demonstration dates.

Written by slfeatures

10/20/2009 at 1:39 PM