INSIGHT U N R I N S I G H T. C O M
[THE UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO’S STUDENT MAGAZINE]
ADVENTURE + Hunting Ghosts + Bucket List + Drag Racing + Choose your own Adventure
OCTOBER 2011 VOLUME 4 • ISSUE 2
FIRST COPY FREE SECOND COPY $3.50
PHOTO BY GEOFF ROSEBOROUGH
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Contents OCTOBER 2011
4 EDITOR’S LETTER 5 UNRInsight.com 6 PACK PROFILE Insight sits down with one of the campus’s more adventurous professors.
8 SCIENCE OF RISK-TAKING A closer look at why people take risks, despite some having more negatives than positives.
Insight Magazine explores Minecraft, a simple-yetinnovative foray into the creative world of architecturebased gaming.
14 FOOLING WITH PHANTOMS
The gang searches for ghosts in the canyon.
18 COMMROW: representing silent reno
The passion and reasoning behind Reno’s newest tourist attraction.
How one drag racer justifies risking her life.
26 INTERNET OFFROADING Why some of the best adventures take place between your finger and your track pad.
30 THE RUNDOWN Thirty-four things to do before you die.
2011 October | Insight | 3
I Sam DiSalvo Editor-in-Chief
used to think of adventure as either something involving extreme kayaking or a series of episodes in which Winnie the Pooh participated. I fell somewhere in between, meaning I didn’t have the means to be an extreme kayaker, nor did I consider kicking back with a jar of honey and witnessing a severe thunderstorm a treacherous evening. Despite deeming myself a step above Winnie the Pooh, I never considered myself adventurous. I would hear Lou Reed sing “Take a walk on the wild side,” and I’d say “Eh, I totally would, but I’m really susceptible to migraines and my friend said he might call me if he’s free tonight, so I’m going to stay in and watch ‘Little People, Big World’ until then. Thanks, though.” The process of putting together this issue revealed there is more than one type of adventure. There are the ones that are physically demanding and the ones that are intellectually and emotionally demanding. The only thing all adventures have in common is that they’re terrifying, even if it’s just for a couple seconds. Terror is not only derived from extremity; it’s derived from doing something you’ve never done before. If you choose to pursue something even though it scares you, then you are doing something adventurous. If you do these sorts of things often, then you are adventurous. This issue is meant to demonstrate being adventurous. All these stories came from doing something one wasn’t comfortable with at first, but pursued because it might be fun. Even if it wasn’t, these people featured in the magazine can never say they didn’t give it a shot. I’m not saying all of Lou Reed’s suggestions are valid, but he might be right with this one.
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Contributors: Raymond Eliot Elia Pirtle Farah Rashdan Katherine Sawicki Suzie Shoemaker Karina Stanton Jean-Paul Torres
The opinions expressed in this publication and its associated Web site are not necessarily those of the University of Nevada, Reno or the student body.
COVER PHOTO BY GEOFF ROSEBOROUGH
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Check out our website, featuring photo slideshows, fashion critiques, music reviews and more! If you’re interested in writing, photography or design, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thrift Your Way: DIY for Wussies (photos courtesy of Karina Stanton
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE WORDS BY RAYMOND ELIOT
Hello, typical university student. In this very special issue of Insight, you’re invited to have an adventure! Throughout the story, you’ll be given multiple options. Depending on the choices you make will affect your eventual fate. Now that you know, get out there and choose your own adventure!
2011 October | Insight | 5
PACK PROFILE WORDS BY VICKI TAM PHOTOS COURTESY OF LYNNI WEIBEZAHL
Lynni W eibezahl With projects like running over 45 miles a week to keep up with her goal of a 100 miles this year, it’s no wonder why this 51-year-old French lecturer is always on the run. And that’s just the surface of all the activities she’s done in her life. She’s also a rock climber, a bit of a skate skier, a traveler, a gold explorer (once upon a time) and a swimmer.
or Lynni Weibezahl, there are three reasons why she sandwiches projects in her busy schedule of teaching and being a family woman. The first reason is staying fit for her age, speculating that she may not get Medicare, or health care will not be affordable for her. The second reason is staying fit for her love of eating food and drinking wine. She enjoys cooking French cuisines, and most often butter is used as an ingredient. And the third reason that compels this woman to stay active is to keep up with her teenage daughter’s activities and life. This year, Weibezahl’s active appetite has taken a priority for running with a side of peak bagging on weekends. Peak bagging
is an activity in which the participants get to the top of the peak of a mountain. Weibezahl and her husband have bagged many of the peaks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and often when she’s in her work office, she looks at her Eastern Sierra map, or “peak shop” for new peaks to bag. As for running, it’s not about the race or the run that is rewarding to her; it’s the feeling of finishing the race – even if she didn’t place first, second, or third. But she does make a goal to stay within the top ten. Sometimes, she takes on small projects at the gym, like rock climbing. She enjoys setting goals of how many climbs she can do in an hour before she gets tired or in her words, “before my arms blow out.” As for skate skiing, she’s not
It’s a crisp fall morning at UNR. There is a football game on the north end of campus, and some kind of event happening in the quad. You also have an essay you’ve been putting off for days that really needs to be written. What do you do? I like football – Page 7
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I wonder what is happening at the Quad – Page 8
I’m here for my education – Page 9
much of a skier, but she says she’s taken a few falls, especially one involving a squirrel. “I go by this tree and this squirrel comes out, right in from of me,” Weibezahl says. “I’m trying to brake to avoid the squirrel and my skis caught on something. I just went flying, and they don’t release like downhill skis that pop off your feet if you take a fall. So, I’m getting smacked in the head by the tips of my skis, and I’m trying to stop my fall.” With all these projects that she has going on, she claims that she has toned down since her daughter was born 13 years ago. Before, she was traveling to destinations, but now, she sets up projects for quantity like how many climbs or runs she can do. She’s traveled to Thailand, Nepal, Hong Kong, Peru, Canada, France, Mexico, Hawaii, and much of the states. Aside from projects and travels, she has many degrees due to the changes in the job market. She received her first degree in Montréal in geology, which lead her to gold exploration in Nevada. She traveled and lived in Quebec as a transfer student
for four years. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in French, and a Master of Business Administration at the University of Nevada, Reno. Right now, Weibezahl is participating in a race to run 100 miles over many races, and for her to keep up with this goal and her fitness level, she has to run over 45 miles a week. All this effort does pay off in the end, as noted by her display of hanging medals in her office. Now 51, she is considered a fast runner for her age category of 50-59, but age doesn’t stop her from making future goals to do destination racing and to race even when she’s 70 and older. Destination racing requires traveling and running in different areas, which can be within the United States or around the world. “To me, it’s motivating to see there’s 70-year-olds, 80-year-olds...,” she says. “That’s kind of a long time goal besides the destination racing that sounds really attractive.”
YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO: Check out the football game - You walk to the stadium. It’s the big grudge match, and you wouldn’t miss this game for anything. All your friends are at the game, even the ones that encourage you to do terribly stupid things. One tries to hand you a flask. If you’re going to get crunk, go to page 10
If you’d rather stay sober, Go to page 13
2011 October | Insight | 7
THE SCIENCE of
RISK TAKING WORDS BY CAMBRIA ROTH ILLUSTRATIONS BY GEOFF ROSEBOROUGH
YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO: See what is at the Quad. The walk to the quad is uneventful. Itâ€™s a nice day though, probably the last of the year. Along the way, you notice a stench wafting through the air. It smells like sewage mixed with BBQ. The smell gets stronger as you get closer to Ansari. To investigate the Ansari building for the source of the smell, go to page 14.
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I’m in the passenger seat and the car is traveling at 60 mph. I look over at the door handle and for a split second I think, “What would happen if I pulled this door handle right now?” Of course, I know what would happen, but I can’t help but think about taking that kind of risk. I think we all have those moments where we think about our primal desires and nothing else. We don’t weigh the consequences or the rewards, in that irrational moment, we just want to take that risk.
isk taking is an inevitable part of life. Whether it is driving a car, or asking someone out on a date. However, many people take it a step farther than just wanting a date, they take bigger risks that can have serious repercussions. One study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, provides an explanation for the tendencies certain people have to live on the edge. The neurotransmitter, dopamine, is the brain’s feel-good chemical. It is responsible for the euphoric feeling of being in a loving relationship, the satisfaction of a filling meal or for the natural high we feel when we do something daring. Gideon Caplovitz, visiting associate professor in the Cognitive and Brain Sciences at University of Nevada, Reno says there are many factors that attribute to risk-taking. “We like the feeling of dopamine , and when we choose right, we get dopamine, and the greater the consequence is, the greater the release of dopamine,” Caplovitz says. Researchers have found that risk takers are less able to react to dopamine, which leads to these individuals taking bigger risks so they can feel the same feelings of excitement that others get regularly. The research indicates that these daredevils have less of a certain dopamine receptor which may lead them to seek out exciting experiences like skydiving.
No one does something deadly and intense like skydiving without their brain being altered at the time of the risk. Caplovitz found that brainwave patterns are different for those who engage in risk-taking in comparison to those who don’t. “Risk is manipulated in giving the participants the option of deciding how much they are willing to risk in order to get a good pay-off,” Caplovitz says. “When people have a propensity to risk more, they do show different patterns of brainwave in the response to the pay off.” Gambling is a common area of research that involves the risk many people take where it is rare to have any pay-off. The pay off in gambling for most people is the large amounts of money they have a chance to win. According to new research lead by Albert Gjedde of Copenhagen University, it is the naturally occurring higher levels of dopamine in the brain that can lead to addictive behaviors like drugs, gambling and more. Higher levels of dopamine and lower sensitivity to the hormone, leads to greater risk-taking, which then leads to a greater chance of addiction. Researchers used brain scans of volunteers to measure dopamine and dopamine receptor levels. Those on the higher end of the scale didn’t feel as many of the affects from the same amount of the hormone than those on the lower end of the scale. They also discovered that those who were on each end of the
YOU’VE CHOSEN TO: Surf the internet. - You open up your laptop and look at the screen. You want to write your essay, but the internet is right there. To surf the Internet, go to page 21.
2011 October | Insight | 9
WE LIKE THE FEELING OF DOPAMINE, AND WHEN WE CHOOSE RIGHT, WE GET DOPAMINE, AND THE GREATER THE CONSEQUENCE IS, THE GREATER THE RELEASE OF DOPAMINE.
scale had very different dopamine and dopamine receptor profiles. “In gambling, when they win, the risk pays off,” Caplovitz says. “What happens is they get a boost of brain activity in comparison to people who are less risky when they get their pay off. They get that little extra jolt.” So even though they have been at the casino for eight hours, have bloodshot eyes and are tired, they continue to stay at the slot machine and lose money. Patrick Ghezzi, a UNR psychology professor with a focus in gambling, also credits risk-taking to the environment a person is in. “You have chemicals in your nervous system and certain events in the environment trigger these reactions,” Ghezzi says. “They don’t have causal status but they do correlate with the event.” The lights and sounds, the alcohol you receive from the scantily clad cocktail waitresses and the lack of windows and clocks all contribute to the dopamine release a gambler feels as a result of the environment at a casino. Caplovitz says the pre-frontal cortices are not fully developed until the late twenties so impulse control isn’t entirely formed. This leads to young people seeking adventure and thrill. He also says that there are brainwaves characteristic of when someone makes a mistake. “The less risky someone is, the greater the response is when they make a mistake,” Caplovitz says. “Where as when you are a risk seeker, the brain doesn’t respond as
much so it is as if the risk takers get an enhanced pay off so when they fail, it doesn’t affect them as much.” The midline cortical structures and anterior and posterior cingulate cortex are the primary candidates for activity when people are involved in risky behavior. “If you think about risk-taking, everybody takes risk, every decision has a risk,” Caplovitz says. “So what makes somebody riskier is how they evaluate the cost-benefit. People have a propensity to initially compute the benefit first and then the cost comes on secondarily, and if the cost is too high, they have to inhibit the benefit. For example, they might think ‘it will be so cool to jump off that cliff, but I might die.’” He says inhibition is primarily mediated by the prefrontal cortex. The two sides to risk-taking are impulsivity and the desire to get the reward, but control lies within the prefrontal cortex. Caplovitz used the example of a man named Phineas Gage, who had damage to his prefrontal cortices. “In the 1800’s, he was packing down dynamite for gun powder and a cast iron rod shot up through his jaw and obliterated his prefrontal cortices,” Caplovitz says. “For the rest of his life, he had very little impulse control. He was rude, obnoxious and had no inhibition. He was sort of a slave to his primal desires.” Risk-taking can lead to addiction. After taking a risk, when more dopamine is released, more receptors are formed. “If neurons are looking for the dopamine juice, it creates a neural craving,” Caplovitz says. Whether you believe risk taking is based on chemicals, brain structure or rational decisions, it all comes back to our primal desires. It is your choice whether you want to indulge in these desires, or take a step back and think about it first. “You can think of high risk takers as kind of slave to their primal desires,” Caplovitz says. “They think, ‘I’m going to discount the consequences and make it risky.’”
YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO: Get tore up from the floor up. – “YES!” you say while eagerly draining the flask. You, like most every other American, can’t actually stand football unless you are rip roaring drunk. Good thing your best friend Alcohol is at the game too. GO TO PAGE 11
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Take a risk Dopamine releases in the brain People who take risks more often are less responsive to the dopamine
These people often end up taking bigger risks to receive more dopamine
By the final quarter you can barely stand, but you’ve definitely become a better dancer. “Better use these superpowers while I got them” you think. CONTINUE TO PAGE 12
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MIND CRAFT A voyage inside the blocks of Minecraft that many have built their lives around. WORDS AND GRAPHICS BY EVYNN MCFALLS
he first time I’d encountered Minecraft in the Fall of 2010, I have to admit that I was unimpressed. A resident assistant in the dormitories, I was covering someone else’s security-shift as they stepped away to grab dinner from the student cafeteria. This left me to dully idle as students drifted in, waving their identification cards before the proximity-card detector and trudging into the building. I decided to pass the time by peering rudely over the shoulder of the other resident assistant at the desk. She’d been furiously clicking away and I had every intention of making fun of her for playing World of Warcraft, or what ever PC game enthusiasts were raving about at the time. To my surprise, where I’d expected feats of might and magic, there was little more than blocks. Blocks, as far as the eye could see, and a blocky avatar who used his (or her) blocky hand to--predictably by this point-break more blocks. Naturally, I was incredulous. While I could understand (begrudgingly) why the young mind might be attracted to, and
eventually caught up by, the impressive imagery and rapid-fire game play of computer games like Team Fortress and World of Warcraft, I could not begin to understand what might possess someone to surrender hours of their lives to a game that seemed graphically uninspired, devoid of music, and, frankly, boring. I proceeded to criticize my co-worker for wasting her time with video-games, and this one in particular. How could she stand to play such an awful game? What was so great about punching box-shaped rock-formations? What I didn’t know then was that Minecraft was, and continues to be, so much more than mere block-striking and environmental destruction. “You can’t really know what the game’s about until you play it yourself,” my duly offended co-worker explained. With these words in mind, and my curiosity piqued, I decided to explore the game for myself. By conversing with players of the game, and engaging in gameplay with experienced players to guide me, I was able to come to the following conclusion: Minecraft is an entirely unique gaming experience with a lot more than meets the eye.
You start a mad sprint toward the field, tearing off your pants and shirt along the way. You feel amazing until something slams into your body. When you come to months later, you discover you were tackled by an overzealous lineman. From your hospital bed you weep as you watch the video of the last time you could walk. THE END
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Minecraft allows players to not only construct worlds of their own design within the game, but also literally add elements of their own making through the use of “mods”. These mods can range from simply altering the textures that appear on structures within the game, to modifying the algorithmic coding of the game to affect how water flows, where mountains appear in the game, and how high and far a player can build their structures.
Minecraft is not a massivelymultiplayer online gaming experience, and should not be confused for one. Players do not pay a monthly fee to continue their subscription to Minecraft game play and updates. While there are multi-player options, they are limited presently. Even so, like massively-multiplayer online games, Minecraft is constantly being updated with new features, which players can enjoy indefinitely after paying a one-time fee to download the game. Not only can players engage in a “creative” mode where they are given unlimited supplies and a flight ability so that they may build to their hearts desire, players may also choose to engage in a survival mode in which they’re given no resources but their bare, blocky hands, a health and hunger bar to maintain by foraging for food sources, and made to face sinister creatures (such as large spiders, bow-and-arrow wielding skeletons, and zombies) as they venture across the infinitely expanding world to craft new homes and tools for themselves along the way. Paul Lagerstrom, an avid Minecraft player and TMCC student, believes that the game offers one of the only genuine “sandbox” experiences to be featured in a video-game thus far. “A lot of games claim that their world is a sandbox, that you can do anything, but then every choice a person makes ends
up leading them back to the same locations, plot points, and adventures as everyone else, with little variation,” Lagerstrom explains. “With Minecraft, you don’t even spawn (the term gamers use for appearing in-game) in the same location as other people. No two play-throughs are going to be alike. Minecraft is completely what you make of it.”
Minecraft has a huge and diverse community. People from all over the world enjoy the creative opportunities that Minecraft has to offer, and many of them frequent the website Reddit, a community-run news portal and self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet”. In fact, the Minecraft community on Reddit is considered to be one of the largest sub-communities on the Reddit website, boasting over eighty-six thousand users. Members of the Minecraft community share screencaptures of the structures they’ve built, strange enemies they’ve encountered, and even crafting recipes for use within the game. True to his watchful nature, Minecraft creator Notch frequents the Reddit community himself, answering the questions of Minecraft players and even participating in discussions about the future of the game.
FUN FOR EVERYONE:
Reddit user CircularLogic105 points out that, perhaps, the best part of Minecraft is the fact that it is fun for the whole family. With only vague, limited depictions of violence (geared primarily toward animals, trees and rock formations) and a deceptively simple, but intuitive interface, Minecraft provides a user-friendly experience that can appeal to people of all ages. Parents need not worry about their children being exposed to negative concepts, and youths need not worry about their parents discovering them engaging in surly Internet behaviors. While Minecraft can be quite time-consuming, it offers a creative and fun outlet for those looking for a lowcommitment, high-value adventure that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re looking to build incredible structures with technologically sophisticated Lego-blocks, or simply trying to test your ability to survive, Minecraft has something for audiences of all kinds. At the end of the day, however, there truly is so much to Minecraft that it would be an Olympian task to detail everything that the game has to offer to its audiences within the pages of a magazine. Truly, if one wishes to know Minecraft, they must play Minecraft. I assure you, the game is well worth it’s $21.95 price tag. Really, it’s worth more.
NO TWO PLAYTHROUGHS ARE GOING TO BE ALIKE. MINECRAFT IS COMPLETELY WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT.
YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO: Stay sober. – It’s good to know that someone actually watched all those PSAs about peer pressure. Who cares if everybody thinks you’re a nerd. All the fun you’re having is real fun. You’re already too high on life. After a solid UNR victor, you go with your friends to a post-game BBQ. GO TO PAGE 16
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Fooling with Phantoms The Mystery Gang and a Skeptic Probe Robb Canyon for the Paranormal.
S BY WORD MAKER SHOE ND SUZIE MCFARLA F F O & GE OS BY PHOT N DIAZ STIA RLAND SEBA FA FF MC & GEO
At midnight, the canyon walls appear to slope gently towards the river. But don’t be fooled. The walls are steep. Sharp rocks wait at the bottom. And if you believe the stories, the spirits of four murder victims wait there too. In September of 2011, eleven people braved the canyon at midnight. One was Suzie Shoemaker, the founder of The Mystery Gang, one of Reno’s most prominent ghost hunting team. One was Geoff McFarland, an Insight journalist who doubts. Hear them both tell their stories, as we explore one of the most haunted places in the West.
YOU’VE CHOSEN TO: Investigate the smell. – The smell only gets worse as you climb up the stairs to the fifth floor. Even with a shirt pulled over your face, the smell is enough to make you gag. It feels like your nose just got back from a date with Chris Brown. If the smell is too much for you, go to page 15.
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If your nostrils are as strong as your sens of adventure, go to page 18.
THE MYSTERY GANG words by Suzie Shoemaker
There’s one fear that has haunted me throughout my life: death. To find the answers, I turned to religion. When I was unable to find answers there, I threw my hands up and fell from faith. However, I was continuously tormented by the wonders of what was to come after death— and after I began my college experience, I craved the afterlife. While other students read scholarly essays, I watched Ghost Hunters. While my colleagues configured mathematical problems, I researched Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVPs) and Electronic Magnetic Fields (EMFs). Now, while my fellow students comb their textbooks for the answers to their questions, I hunt haunted houses and cemeteries for the answers to mine. In June of 2010, I began my first paranormal investigation. I invited my sixteen-year-old son Johnny, my nineteen-yearold daughter Loraina, and my colleague Harry Baker. We continued exploring haunted landmarks throughout the winter season. During this time we generated a name for our group. My kids were joking that we resembled The Mystery Gang Inc.— we just needed a Scooby Doo. My mind was sparked. The Mystery Gang was familiar, funky, and fresh. It also gave us a motto and mission: We don’t just search for ghosts, we solve their mysteries—we stretch further and dig deeper than others.
The Mystery Gang
Only sixteen months after my first investigation, The Mystery Gang has twelve members—each with an assigned job. Harry is our Skeptic, able to keep us grounded by debunking certain situations. Loraina is our Photographer; Johnny is our Camera-man. Cody Solis, who used to lead Reno’s Paranormal Truth-Seekers (PTS), is the Assistant Manager, Clairvoyant and Media Specialist. Cody leads team meetings and investigations when I am unable to, and he creates and produces our videos. Our Occult Specialist Amanda (also from PTS) and Colleen, who is blind, are the gang’s Mediums. Cinch and Loraina are Sensitives, able to detect paranormal presence. We also have four new members. Because of her extensive knowledge in energy and many hours involved in researching the history of haunted locations, Michele Bristow is our Researcher/Metaphysicist. Brian Guettler spent twenty-
something years in the military and is handy with most everything; his son Tanis is in training. Chris Buell, who is advanced in his knowledge and possession of audio equipment, is also training. Throughout our adventures, there was always one location of fascination. On the outskirts of the sagebrush stricken highway that runs west of Reno, there is a canyon that is labeled as being haunted. It’s rumored that in the ‘70s, four bodies were unearthed—their brutal murders never resolved. Legend claims that in Robb Canyon one will experience bloodcurdling screams, full-body apparitions, shadowy figures, strange noises and feelings of dread. We have investigated this location on five separate occasions. Johnny claimed he was once pushed down by an unseen force. Cody and Brian have seen shadowy apparitions of men and children. Amanda, Michele, Colleen and Loraina sensed dread and something inhuman. But this is the one place that continues to challenge us with its resistance to reveal concrete evidence. We have yet to capture a video, still-image or audio recording (called an Electronic Voice Phenomenon or EVP) of significance.
On September 24th 2011, The Mystery Gang yet again examined Robb Canyon. Like our previous investigations, personal experiences overwhelmed many of us. I felt flu-like symptoms upon entering the canyon, which disappeared on the ride home. Brian saw a shadowy figure of a man as he scurried amongst the distant sagebrush. Cody and Amanda felt surrounded by dark forces, while Chris reported a feeling of uneasiness. Loraina captured a photograph of an orb flickering in the grass, which we can’t debunk. On the other hand, no matter how convincing a personal
YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO: Avoid Ansari Business. – In the Quad there is a large group of people standing in an jumbled line. You may dislike people, but you do love free food. A plate is handed to you as you take your place in line. GO TO PAGE 16
2011 October | Insight | 15
experience appears to the individual involved, and regardless of an unexplainable still-image, the answers we seek are only validated through concrete means. Loraina’s orb might be explained as a simple dewdrop reflection. However, a Class A EVP—a clear, intelligent response caught on audio—isn’t
scientifically explainable. That would be concrete. Chris analyzes his audio directly after our Robb Canyon investigation. The Mystery Gang reports two EVPs—one that is hardly Class B and one that is. When Chris asked if there were spirits around, the response “cemetery” is clear. This indicates that the paranormal might be able to travel to and from their burials. Also, while Chris was heading out of the canyon, what sounds like “Find me. Come back” is heard, which indicates a desire for human interaction. However, in my opinion, faint Class B’s cannot be relied upon as concrete evidence—and, for the next week, I’ll comb through my audio for something that is.
If I don’t find anything, another investigation will be planned, because I now know that the answers are out there—I’m just grateful that I’m no longer seeking them out myself. Power really is in numbers, and I’m confident that my family, The Mystery Gang, will hunt down the answers that not only haunt me, but haunt us all.
words by Geoff McFarland
We huddle in the dark by the canyon’s edge to hear the legend told. Bundled warmly, we number eleven—nine ghost hunters, Insight photographer Farah Rashdan, and I. Already Colleen is feeling a disturbance. The group’s primary medium, Colleen believes her blindness has elevated her sensitivity to the paranormal. Suzie, founder of the Mystery Gang nods, adding that the air’s growing cold. The other medium Amanda so resembles a live-action Velma it’s ridiculous, until she peers over her thick frame glasses to show me her ghost-detecting iPhone app. That’s right, reader. There’s an app for that. iTalk To The Dead promises to turn Amanda’s phone into an electromagnetic field monitor (modern ghost hunters believe spirits disrupt
energy fields). At least three other ghost hunters have similar apps. The MG’s newest member and appointed techie Chris leans over and shows me his, which claims to record those ghostly radio voices known as EVPs, and display them wordby-word upon his screen. This is modern ghost hunting. Told in a circle, by flashlight, The Legend of Robb Canyon has a familiar campfire feel. In the late ‘70s, four mutilated bodies were found at the bottom of Robb Canyon. They were never identified and their killers never found. Unfortunately, the canyon’s history is about as verifiable as those yarns you heard at sleep-away. Major area newspapers have researched police, coroner, and missing person records and found no Robb Canyon slayings. The MG dismisses this lack of evidence. “Robb Canyon laid outside the city limits in the ‘70s, so there
This is the best BBQ you’ve ever eaten. Ignoring the growing pain in your chest, you go back for plate after plate. This continues until there is no food left. During your 75th plate, you noticed how laboured your breath is. “I regret nothing,” you say as you collapse into a pile of potato salad. You have died of heart disease. THE END
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wouldn’t have been a record,” Suzie explains, adding that police are not always to be trusted anyway. Gradually, the campfire crew dissolves into smaller groups: Amanda goes alone to meditate, Suzie leads Colleen towards the woods with a voice recorder. I wander over to where Chris has set up a mic-stand in a tree glade. Seven investigators take turns asking questions—“Who are you?” “Why are you here?”—then sit in silence, giving the ghosts time to respond. When they don’t, investigators ask ghosts to throw stones or otherwise “physically manifest”. As a last resort, investigators seek to provoke ghosts to anger. “You chicken?” calls out Chris, “Bawk, bawk.” Badgering spirits aside, there’s a lot of downtime in ghost hunting. People joke and recall previous investigations. Declarations of bad feelings, “sensing something”, and “feeling a presence” punctuate the air at regular interval. It keeps the spirit up (perhaps literally, I suppose). We pause. Chris’s iPhone app is picking up signal. He reads the words aloud as they appear on the screen. First express. Then dollar. Then turkey.
A Relative Science
So how do we know that Chris’s EVP reader isn’t just picking up feedback from the local Arby’s? Well, we don’t. Chris calls this feedback—from radio stations, cell phone towers, and innumerable other sources—“inevitable litter of suburbia.” The MG works hard, Suzie says, to minimize these distractions. Investigations are conducted after midnight, when “disruptive energy fields” have calmed down. Sites far from houses are preferable. And team members are discouraged from whispering, lest their voices be caught tape and mistaken for ghosts. It’s incredible to learn just how often the MG takes themselves for ghosts. Photos of orbs turn out to be dew drops on the grass; a swing moves mysteriously, after being accidentaly brushed. A soft-spoken reporter with a tendency to creep up on people is especially dangerous; I am mistaken for a ghost twice. Both times it’s by Cody, maybe the Shaggy of this Mystery Gang. Prone to, as Suzie says, “get excited even before the spirits do”, it’s Cody who—when the gazebo lights time off at midnight—barks into the darkness. “All right, ghosts, turn them back on!” It’s not that MG members are making things up; everyone seems very sincere. It’s just that they really, really want to see a ghost. That wanting, however, leads to the preferential thinking. “Any evidence we cannot debunk,” says Suzie, “we’ll
presume is paranormal”. Modern day ghost hunting has a veneer of scientific creditability. Its practitioners use iPhones, and invoke (if not fully elucidate) frontier sciences like quantum theory; they are “investigators” analyzing “evidence”. But is any of this “evidence” really evidence at all? Suzie logs each investigation methodically; her online EVP sound files are catalogued as precisely as any Victorian butterfly collection. Over decades, groups like the MG have collected perhaps millions of examples of electronic anomalies. What they have not done is proven that these anomalies are caused by ghosts. Suzie, who seeks to solve mysteries, only raises more questions about them.
Surveying my notes as we began to climb out of the canyon, I don’t know I’ve fallen behind the group. Just as I realize I’m alone, I feel something pull on my left shoulder. In this moment, in the darkness, it’s enough to make me scurry up the hill. Suzie sees me running and smirks. “Got a little scared, huh?” Tomorrow, Suzie will play me two EVP sound files from our investigation. Each one is like listening to the Beatles’ White Album backwards; I hear nothing until Suzie tells me what I’m listening for. And while it’s disorientating to something that sounds like “cemetery” creep up from the static, I don’t really believe it. But for a moment last night, I’ll confess that I did believe it. I was scared. Ghost hunting may be based upon a fiction. And it makes for bad science. There may be no answers in it. But it makes for a hell of a Friday night.
IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN FOLLOWING ALONG, GO TO PAGE 6 TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE! 2011 October | Insight | 17
CommRow representing silent Reno WORDS BY JEAN-PAUL TORRES PHOTOS COURTESY OF COMMROW
YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO: Investigate the fifth floor of AB. - The floor is wet and spongy on the top floor, and there are strange symbols carved into the walls. Ancient horrible things come to the surface of your mind. Things you wished you had forgotten. GO TO PAGE 19
18 | Insight | October 2011
This is about waking up the silent majority in the community…,” said Fernando Leal, project developer of the CommRow project in downtown Reno. The CommRow project has been turning heads for anyone walking or driving down Virginia Street at West Commercial Row, where the property name rests its origins on, in downtown since the beginning of the summer. With large scale rock walls spanning the entire vertical length of the east face of the structure, it is hard to not look up and wonder what else may be going on within the structure. This is where Larry DeVincenzi, marketing director of CommRow, comes in, offering me an inside tour and interview with Leal.
Upon meeting, we waste no time in getting to the bottom of business, handing me a hard hat and showing me past the exterior chain link fence. Stepping inside, there is a lot for the eye to see, as well as for the mind and imagination to fill in, which is true of any construction site. Thankfully I have Larry with his quick yet informative script to help fill in some of the blank spaces as they are to appear after the grand opening. With his spirited and quick wit, Larry led me in to uncover the inner workings of the mystery that was CommRow just as the flamboyant Wonka guided the children on a tour of the Chocolate Factory; naysayers beware. The tour starts in from the north entrance, by the hotel registration desk. From that vantage point, one immediately notices what seems to be several large island bars, four or five, lined up in a row starting from the east Virginia Street entrance and ending up at the hotel registration desk by the north entrance. Gone from the first floor are the slot machines and the cluttered space that accompanied them. This being one of the hallmarks of the project as noted in its mantra, “No Smoking, No Gaming, No Whining.” No gaming is a risk that Leal is taking with opening a property in downtown Reno, known for its gaming, and one risk that may make sense in this “new normal” economy. More on that later. Another welcome sight in the former casino floor is what seems to be additional windows, venues for outdoor lighting to flow in. Following Larry in, we made our way around the island bars where Larry begins to run through the details of what lays before me. “…from the hotel marquee sign to indoor lighting accents and features, we are trying to reuse what was already here.”Larry explains that the project is all about reincorporating
what had already existed in the former Fitzgerald Hotel and Casino. Some furnishings have been restored and are complemented by new matching furnishings. DeVincenzi notes that there will be 11 eateries ranging from a soft-serve ice cream stand to central Mexican style food served an island stand offering Mediterranean style cuisine. All these island stands will offer small menus to give people the opportunity to try the variety of different eating options on the first floor and not to overwhelm them like other establishments do with large and extensive menus meant to be the one stop shop for dining. There will also be a tequila bar offering over a hundred different tequilas. Two spaces down from the tequila bar there sits a corner café before a magnanimous bookshelf, spanning the entire face of the dividing wall. As DeVincenzi explains it, the bookshelf will be known as the “Honor Wall” because the materials found there will be free for customers to grab and read for their pleasure as long as they either return the material or replace the item for another book. The books that will be found there initially will include a multitude of known works of literature. Continuing through the first floor and returning to the hotel desk, DeVincenzi points out the seating feature in front of the check-in desk, which is shaped like a dog bone. He jokes to me that once the hotel rooms open, they will be open to dogs, but will be billed as “people-friendly.” “The point is that it is understood that dogs are only as good and well-behaved as their owners, which is why we’re calling our establishment people-friendly,” DeVincenzi says. Taped onto the wall is a collection of about 25 photos capturing different activities and moments in the community. DeVincenzi reveals that the photos were submitted by residents
The door in front of you isn’t like any other door you’ve seen. It’s a constantly shifting mass of shapes. You reach out to touch it, entranced by the unnatural beauty. Your fingers skit along the edge of the door, but you can’t actually touch it. The room falls apart around you. GO TO PAGE 20
2011 October | Insight | 19
of Reno and of the area in response to a contest called “Our Real Reno,” in which CommRow asked the community to submit photos of their perception of what Reno is really like. This idea demonstrates a common and occurring theme behind the facility. As Leal later explains, Reno has enough naysayers willing to reveal anything negative about the area to whomever asks. Leal hopes that it will act as a venue for the silent majority to speak up. On the second floor, DeVincenzi shows me through some of the indoor rock climbing facilities, which are visually appealing with their warm honey wood encasings and soft, flowing curves. Mats to break falls will be incorporated into the floor, cleaning up the overall look. There will be a bar on the second floor to cater to the climbers which will be called v15 - a throwback to the V-Grade Hueco scale where on a scale of v0 to v16, v16 is the most difficult. DeVincenzi points out to
a portal of light where guests and members will be able to walk through to reach the outdoor second floor balcony that will have seating for guests to just enjoy the view. We continue to the east side of the second floor where we come to the Virginia Street balcony. This is where future climbers will strap themselves in to begin their journey up the east face of the hotel. It is a great launching pad for climbers since they will be right above all the action on Virginia Street at the Reno Arch. From here, we take the elevator to the third floor where intimate concert venues and the offices where Leal resides. After DeVincenzi shows me “Cargo,” an intimate concert hall which will hold 300 people themed to represent a journey around the world with a map of the world painted overhead, he takes me in the office and administrative area of the property off of the third floor to meet with Fernando Leal.
What is going on here? There is nothing. The blackness of the void stretches on into infinity. You are alone. Minutes, hours, days, months and years pass, and in your loneliness you don’t even care. You float in the infinite cavern of time, alone. You figure maybe you did something to deserve this. THE END
20 | Insight | October 2011
Leal hopes to create a platform for the “silent majority” which he describes as the Renoites who do see the beauty in the community but don’t necessarily vocalize their positive sentiment. The Man Behind the Project
Entering the area which is void of the construction ambiance, yet very much a part of the construction setting with dry wall all around, DeVincenzi invites me to take a seat as we await Leal. In a matter of minutes, Leal enters the area and with a resonant greeting. Leal, DeVincenzi, and I take our seats in his office. Immediately I notice as we begin the interview Leal has a command for authority about him. This energy he possesses for the project is driven by his vision of how it will affect, not only physical area around downtown Reno, but moreover, the effect he hopes to have in the fabric of the community. He asks me what I thought about the property when I first entered it moments ago, and I explain to him that I am blown away. We begin this discourse of all the good things that are going for the property. For a few moments I take off my interviewer’s hat to put on my “crazy for Reno” hat. This is what Leal is all about. Leal sees that Reno, Nevada has a lot of potential to be much more than its current image portrays it to be. “We have to embrace what we have in the community and not let the naysayers to promote the same image,” Leal makes clear in describing how CommRow embodies “community” as a part of its name. Making a case for community with projects such as “Our Real Reno,” Leal hopes to create a platform for the “silent majority” which he describes as the Renoites who do see the beauty in the community but don’t necessarily vocalize their positive sentiment. Leal hopes to appeal to that demographic with CommRow and its community message behind it, so that silent majority feels free to demonstrate the real side of Reno to the world with the attributes that make this city an interesting and fun place to live. He explains to me that people come here for the quick access to outdoor activities. “Living in Chicago or any big city, you have to plan a vacation in order to experience what you can here after work,” Leal tells me in describing the attributes this area has.
The Risk of No Gaming
After a lively chat, I ask Leal what his reaction has been when people ask him how he expects to open a non-gaming property in downtown Reno. The simple answer, Leal tells me, is that there are several thriving non-gaming properties in existence around the nation. Leal details that most of the established properties in downtown have been operating for 25 years and have gaming down to a science. Leal begins to run through the costs of running a gaming supported property before me on a stray piece of paper. Spelled out on the piece of paper, the scribbled math does reveal dizzying number (for both Leal and me) one that Leal concedes can be better spent elsewhere in the property.
Enthusiastic to hear more about the project, I ask Leal if CommRow is his priority right now or if there is another project he’s working on. Leal shares with me that he has plans for the entire block in which the property lies on. The Old Reno Casino and the property next to it, one of Reno’s oldest buildings, have plans in the works for renovation. Part of the plans that lie in the pipeline also include the parking garage that sits above the train trench. Leal says, “It will be one acre of restaurants, a skate park, parkour, and a zip line.” Leal explains that the zip line will launch from Virginia Street side of the garage, and take zip line riders over Virginia Street before landing on the train trench. Walking away from the energized interview, several thoughts swirl about in my head. I walk away almost feeling transported to another place. I notice a few cyclists whiz past the stopped traffic on Virginia. I catch a few drivers doing a second take of the former Fitz.destrians abound. Walking through this lively environment conjures this sense of urban place, which seems hard to come by here. Like a family room, people from all over converge here if only for a few seconds. It is exciting to know that Reno’s living room will receive a unique “non-gaming” addition; one I hope reacquaints the Biggest Little dwellers with their arch.
Damn Internet! Time passes. Slowly you wake from an Internet stupor and realize, to your horror, that you have an essay due way too soon and you haven’t even started. Only one thing could write an essay that fast. You know what you have to do. To continue surfing the Internet, go to page 21.
To abduct a Davidson Academy student and force him to write your paper, go to page 22
2011 October | Insight | 21
Joyride “Don’t think it’s a bad thing. Don’t be offended. Don’t think we’re horrible criminals because we drive over the speed limit.” For 21-year-old Iris Saltus, drag racing is not a crime; it’s an adventure.
\WORDS BY AMY VIGEN PHOTOS BY SEBASTIAN DIAZ
YOU’VE CHOSEN TO: Steal a child. - You boogie down to south campus. The Davidson Academy students are busy playing some strange game on the grass behind the Jot Travis building. You grab the one with the most coconut-shaped head. A chaperon notices and screams at you to stop . To listen to the chaperon, go to page 23. To fuck the police, go to page 26.
22 | Insight | October 2011
YOUâ€™VE CHOSEN TO: Do the right thing. - Smiling, you drop the child. You try to play it off as a joke before what must be the burliest cop in Reno tackles you. He pins you to the ground with a knee on your neck. To protest against police brutality, go to page 24.
2011 October | Insight | 23
t’s the adrenaline rush that pulses through your body at the beginning of a race and after it as well. It’s the fluttering beat of your heart before the race as you concentrate on waiting for the flagger to make the sign to go. It also can be pretty dangerous. But Saltus doesn’t think about the danger. “I’m not concerned with crashes,” she says, “it’s too fun to think that it will end badly.” Saltus says that in street drag racing, there is a possibility that things can go wrong, but “there are far more dangerous things to do,” she says. It is illegal, so according to Saltus, the only real danger is getting caught by the police. There is not much preparation that goes into street drag racing. “It’s more mental preparation,” says Saltus. By this, she means talking yourself into racing, remembering to breath, and avoiding the shakiness and fidgeting that often come before such a nerve-wracking activity. Street drag racing is what it sounds like: racing through a straight street, 1/4-1/2 of a mile, between lights or between stoplights. A driver will pull up to a stoplight, and a revving engine, hand signal, or a yell will signify if the driver wants to race. “Also sometimes you’ll see a car that looks fast, and then you’ll just know they want to race,” says Saltus. Saltus, a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno, has been racing cars since 2008. She started out doing autocross, which is a competitive race where drivers steer one at a time through a course marked by cones, at a low to moderate speed. These events usually take place at airport runways or in parking lots. This type of racing aids drivers in controlling their vehicle. The first time Saltus tried drag racing was during her junior year of high school. She had a 2005 Mini Cooper S and a
friend had a Nisson Altima. After hearing her friend brag that his car was faster, they decided to race. They met at a light near the school and Saltus ended up winning the race. After that, she knew it was something she wanted to continue doing. “It’s just that rush of going fast!” says Saltus. It’s also the satisfaction that comes from winning. And it’s relaxing. This might not seem like an appropriate word to describe such a fast-paced activity. But to Saltus, this is the perfect way to describe it. “It’s the feeling of going fast, the tension build-up, and then the immediate release that makes it so relaxing,” Saltus says. Saltus’ participation in drag racing is sporadic and usually unplanned. It can happen almost anywhere, but most of the time she finds herself downtown, at nighttime, going 60 to 70 mph between red lights, usually in a 25 mph zone. “The first thing I think about is that I known it’s a bad idea, but I have to do it.” The adrenaline kicks in and those thoughts quickly vanish. After that, it’s just concentration on the race and the possibility of winning that matter. Although she is not involved in professional drag racing, Saltus knows that professional racers spend a lot of money preparing their cars for a race, sometimes up to $50,000. “The sky is the limit,” says Saltus. But if you’re not into cars, drag racing probably isn’t the activity for you. “If you’re not a car person, you just won’t get it,” she says. There’s always an unexplainable rush and exhilaration that comes with participating in fast-paced, somewhat dangerous, and well, illegal activities, but what truly makes drag racing such an adventure for Saltus? “It’s the adrenaline. And doing stuff that not everyone wants to do, that not everyone will do.”
YOU’VE CHOSEN TO: Protest. - The knee on your neck reduces any protest to a series of gurgles. The pressure on your trachea is too much. Your last words are a series of gurgling noises and tears. You die knowing that your parents are disappointed in you. THE END
24 | Insight | October 2011
Yo Ho Ho IT’’S THE PACKS LIFE FOR ME
Monday, October 10th
Saturday, October 15th
Wolves Frolic Talent Show Wolf Trot 7:00pm @ the Joe Ballrooms
Tuesday, October 11th Ultimate Food Fight
5:00pm @ Manzanita Bowl $2 per entry. All funds
go to the ASUN pantry
Wednesday, October 12th Pack Gives Back
Start time 8:00am For more info contact Campus Recreation @ 775-682-7173
Saturday, October 15th 9:00am @ 9th and Virginia St. to 15th and Virginia St.
7:00pm @ The Joe Ballrooms Nevada vs New Mexico 1:05pm @ Mackay Stadium
Thursday, October 13th Pirate Obstacle Course Come out to watch a fun pirate themed obstacle course!
6:30pm @ Knowledge Center lawn
Friday, October 14th Blue Flu Club Fair
1:00pm @ Gateway Plaza
6:00pm @ Behind William Peccole Park
ASUN supports providing equal access to all programs for people with disabilities.Persons with disabilities requiring accommodations are encouraged to contact 775-784-6589 or email email@example.com
2011 October | Insight | 25
INTERNET OFFROADING WORDS BY LUCAS COMBOS ILLUSTRATIONS BY GEOFF ROSEBOROUGH
It is a nondescript weekday night. Some friends are probably out having a grand time. A select few may even be studying, or otherwise accomplishing their scholarly endeavors. Not me; not tonight.
YOU’VE CHOSEN TO: Fight the power. - Damn right! Your mother didn’t raise you to be a fool and every Chuck D album you’ve ever listened to has taught you what to do in this situation. Throwing the Davidson student over your shoulder like a sack of potatoes, you run toward your favorite hiding place on campus. If you break line of sight and double back into the Jot Travis, go to page 28. If you hide out in DeLaMare Library, go to page 27.
26 | Insight | October 2011
YOU’VE CHOSEN TO: Hide in the DeLaMare Library. - Good call! You always hide out here, because nobody ever seems to know about this place. You set up the student you stole, and it writes you an essay in no time flat. It’s pretty good too, better than the usual stuff you write. It’s insulting, but you’re glad you didn’t have to write it. CONTINUE TO PAGE 29
2011 October | Insight | 27
ou never really know when it’s going to hit. One minute you’re blankly staring at a Facebook feed you’ve read fifteen times over. The next— through an unexplained tangle of hyperlinks— you are reading the synopsis for every Season 1 episode of Knight Rider or feigning interest in the history of Guam. The Internet is a strange place. Never in history has a mammal felt so thoroughly engrossed sitting for hours on end in an uncomfortable chair, intently ogling a bright screen. Yet, assigning a positive or negative conclusion to this fact seems arbitrary. While the Internet can be a suction of productivity and time, it is undoubtedly the most valuable resource of information ever created. Besides, other than the corpses of their vanquished, what did the Spartans ever “stumbleupon”? They had swords, but I have a keyboard. I’m not alone. It is probably a safe guess that most of my peers occasionally find that evening has slipped into darkest night while they were busy researching the perfect Pho recipie, tabbing between two half-watched YouTube videos and incessantly clicking the “random article” button on Wikipedia.
Through earbuds that they forgot reinsert, some obscure Pandora station probably blares on. It turns out that the Information Age was suitably named. Whether this information surplus is effectual in the pursuit of knowledge, or just corrodes our attention spans down to a nub is uncertain. Maybe it is both—perhaps neither. Not everything useful needs to be used for serious pursuits all the time. Sure, my car gets me to work, but it also can go off-road. When I am writing a research paper, perhaps I want to think of the Internet as a wealth of knowledge like the Library of Alexandria. In my free time, pillaging the frontiers of cyberspace can be more my speed. Tonight is one of those nights. A nice rule of thumb to begin this lonely adventure is to simply look up a topic of interest that you know nothing about (Hey, I did not say this was a groundbreaking study). Based on experience, I will not recommend googling “corny jokes.” I thought I would get ironic, campy laughs, but instead was pushed near the brink of physically ill. One of the top results literally has a clipart piece of corn as its logo. The Internet is a silly place.
YOU’VE CHOSEN TO: Hide in Jot Travis. - You stifle a giggle as you open the door to the JTB. It’s so simple. Your Davidson student takes your moment of celebration as an opportunity and headbutts you in the stomach. You double over as the student scampers off into the building. To folow the Davidson student, go to page 31.
28 | Insight | October 2011
But, I digress. Starting with the most basic of scholastic research, I type in “string theory” on Wikipedia. To pinpoint exactly why this concept even exists in my head would be a chore. Science is not my forte, let alone particle physics. Possibly Discovery Channel’s Michio Kaku is lingering in the recesses of my mind, rambling about how lightsabers would be possible or that “time is like a river.” I’ve had many YouTube indiscretions. Maybe this Wikipedia article would serve me best under the “simple English” setting? Nope. Random button it is. Here’s a rundown of a few things I learned:
There are 61 municipalities in the Muğla Province of Turkey (not a single one I can pronounce). The Allolepidotus was a prehistoric bony fish. Her Royal Highness Princess Yaovamalaya Narumala, the Princess of Sawankalok was involved with the early iteration of the Thai Red Cross Society Thorleif Holbye sailed in the 1920 Summer Olympics and won a gold medal. Now, go fourth and out-hipster your friends. Feasibly the random button is not the quickest way to useful knowledge, but it is an excellent illustration to how the breadth of human observation is merely two clicks away at any time. Though, being a product of the 21st century, I have already tired of this colossus of enlightenment, instead moving on to Netflix’s notoriously odd suggestions. Reasonably, I should be even more embarrassed that one of my tailored Netflix genres appears to be “Inspiring Romantic Independent Movies.” I would like to pretend I have no idea how this happened, but I have a suspicion or two. Here’s
hoping that the latter suggestions of “Violent Korean Crime Movies” somehow earns me back my street-cred (not a bad term to look up in Urban Dictionary either). With all this spontaneity and mischief, I have still neglected to really use the Internet as a tool. While there is a certain satisfaction to unwaveringly clicking through the Internet, without a single grain of motive, projects like Wolfram|Alpha (billed as a “computational knowledge engine”) succeed in answering specific, complicated queries.I now know that the weather on the day of my birth was 85 degrees at the highest, with 100 percent clear conditions. In the year of my birth, my name ranks 112th most popular, with about 1 in 697 people receiving the moniker. This is like talking to the world’s smartest, oldest grandfather. Oh, Grandpa Wolfram, please teach me more. Sure, the Internet is brimming with celebrity gossip, terrible YouTube recommendations and 6-year-old chain e-mails from relatives you forgot were alive, but it just might be the most impressive thing us Homo sapiens have accomplished. Whether or not the World Wide Web is wrecking our social skills, attention spans and souls, or just giving us new outlets, will take much more studious people than I to determine. As our memory capacities may diminish, “cloud storage” is all the rage. Technology rarely comes without price—economical, environmental or otherwise. But, if there’s one thing history has taught us, it’s that innovation never rolls backward. A second thing could be that humans never learn. Even something as unabashedly detrimental as the nuclear bomb wasn’t scrapped because it might be a bad for the species. So, maybe this really will all turn into Skynet. Maybe there will be an android uprising. Maybe we will finally get the apocalypse that Hollywood has been promising for decades. In the meantime, I plan to take full advantage of the complicated nature of our culture’s most prized achievement: our dear old Internet. Actually, I think I’ll go outside now. All this thinking has me exhausted.
You make it into class without a moment to spare. You slap the essay on your professor’s desk with such might that the whole room seems to shake. Obviously, the professor isn’t amused by your antics, but you couldn’t care less. You did it! You successfully cheated the system. Or at least you think. GO TO PAGE 30.
2011 October | Insight | 29
THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE ARTWORK BY ELIA PIRTLE
1. Create a cupcake factory that specializes in “Cosby Show” cupcakes. Rudy is the small-sized. Theodore is the medium. Cosby is the large. 2. Hear Joe Crowley read a poem. 3. Flash mob. Anywhere. Non-violently. 4. Hop a freight train. 5. Challenge someone for use of the courts. It doesn’t matter what kind of courts. I recommend tennis or squash. 6. Go to Europe. 7. See the northern lights. 8. Learn a foreign language. 9. Object at a wedding. Just shout out “I object!” when the priest asks. For best results, try not to know who the wedding is for. 10. Inspire someone. 11. Throw a secret message in a bottle into the ocean. 12. Try every type of beer in existence. 13. Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square. The professor looks at your essay more closely. “You didn’t follow the directions of the assignment at all. I won’t be grading this essay as a result. I suggest you actually read the directions in the future.” You wish that you could melt into your chair. The shame is too much. You committed a felony to get this paper done on time, and you’ve got nothing to show for it. THE END.
30 | Insight | October 2011
14. Do a 365 days photo project. 15. Spend 24+ hours alone, out in the wilderness somewhere (not “127 Hours” style). 16. Go scuba diving. 17. See a live runway show. 18. Fisticuffs with anybody. 19. Crowd surf. 20. Go on a road trip with friends to anywhere. And everywhere. 21. Skydive. 22. Tour America in a van. 23. Hunt moose from a helicopter. 24. HeliSki. 25. Fly first class. 26. Live in a different country for at least six months. 27. Reenact dance scene from “Spiderman 3” in a real coffee shop. 28. Moped through Vietnam. 29. Go hobbiting. 30. Do yoga. 31. Be a boss. 32. Ask for a raise. 33. Sing karaoke. 34. Watch “The Room.” YOU’VE CHOSEN TO: Try and kidnap the student, again. - You follow the tween deeper into the JTB. You catch up, but in the process step right into their blood ritual. You’ve angered the ancient god of the Davidson academy, who is as old as it is terrible. The student approach you, moving as one. There is hunger in their eyes. They tackle you, and teeth sink into your flesh, tearing out large chunks out of your favorite set of limbs. The floor becomes sticky with a combination of your blood and sick. You’ve been eaten by the Davidson Academy. THE END.
2011 October | Insight | 31
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