7 Reasons Why Porgs are Not the Next Jar-Jar Binks

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Porgs are becoming wildly popular and they are giving many hardcore Star Wars fans PTSD-flashbacks of when a senseless frog creature destroyed to them what they held so dear. These fans see those wide-eyes little bird things and worry that that pain and suffering is going to happen all over again. Many fans, including myself, were skeptical about a new Star Wars franchise. However, for the majority of fans, the new trilogy has gained their trust after it was broken by the prequels. The thought of being betrayed again so quickly by Episode 8: The Last Jedi has many fans up in arms over the existence of these little creatures in their Star Wars. Porgs are basically my life now, and when I’ve talked to my fellow Star Wars fans over and over again I hear the same thing: “I’m worried they are going to be the next Jar-Jar Binks”. Well, Fear not friends! I am here to dispel your worries and fears and give you 7 Reasons why porgs aren’t the next Jar-Jar Binks.

 

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1.They will not be part of the main plot

My biggest concern about The Last Jedi is that there will be too many storylines and not enough time to give each what they deserve. We can assume the main plot will be Luke training Rey on Ahch- To, but we know there will be a series of events leading to a Finn vs Phasma fight, something that leads to a casino where we will meet new characters like DJ and Laura Dern’s character and major individual storylines for each of the characters Rose, Poe and Leia that we don’t even have a solid idea about their roles in the new film and if they will intersect with the others. We know we will see more of Supreme Leader Snoke as well. With all of that going on, how much do you really think we’ll see porgs?

 

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Picture credit Daniel Hoogkamp  https://twitter.com/DanHoogkamp_Art

 

I don’t want to think about how much money I have spent on porg merchandise, but there is one common denominator: none of the porgs have names. They are “Life Sized Porg Plush” and “Porg Plush Pillow Buddy”.  No names. Every Gungan and Ewok we’ve ever seen had a name. Really, every Ewok. How major of a role can porgs have if they don’t even have names?

 

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Several new movie posters for The Last Jedi have been released and porgs are not featured on any of the North American ones. Only the Japanese poster, and even then they are barely noticeable.  Compare that to The Phantom Menace poster where Jar Jar is featured as a main focal point, bigger than R2D2.  We can use this as a metric to determine the size of a role the porgs will play in the movie.

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I am in the minority or Star Wars fans and never actually thought Jar-Jar was that bad. What I did hate is how he was in almost every scene, especially ones he was not relevant to, like going to Mos Eisley instead of staying on the ship on Tatooine. There was absolutely no reason for him to be there. Even Obi-Wan stayed on the ship, why didn’t Jar-Jar? This lead to him being present during very pivotal parts in the entire series and distracting from the scenes.

Jar-Jar played a major role in the entire story of The Phantom Menace. He helped get Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon to the capital and convinced the gungans to help fight the droid army. They couldn’t have freed the capital without their assistance. There is no way porgs are going to play such a significant role in The Last Jedi.

 

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Art Credit Wonky Robot Designs

2. Less screen time

My major complaint about Jar-Jar was that he was in the movie too much. Jar-Jar Binks was onscreen in The Phantom Menace for 17 minutes and 45 seconds. That is the exact same amount of time Han Solo was on screen in Return of the Jedi. That is also significantly more time than we saw Yoda in Empire Strikes Back at only 12 minutes and 30 seconds and almost as much as we saw Padme in Revenge of the Sith with 18 minutes and 15 seconds.

 

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There is no need for this and there is no way porgs can take up as much valuable screen time given all of the other storylines that need to take place.  Something comparable would be Wicket the Ewok, in Return of the Jedi. He was funny, memorable and played a small role in the main story. He was only onscreen for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. He was able to make a big impact and make his mark on the movie in very little screen time. I foresee porgs with about the same amount of time onscreen, based on that they will probably play a role similar to Wicket in the movie.

 

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3. Non-speaking characters

Just say the words “Jar-Jar Binks” and someone will immediately go into ridiculous Jar-Jar speak such as, “Mesa mighty happy-o to see yousa”.  It doesn’t matter how long he was onscreen, his speech was incredibly annoying. I think all Star Wars fans are in agreement on that.

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But let me pose a question: what if the Ewoks talked? Could you imagine? All of RotJ would be very different indeed.  But they don’t talk and people generally like the Ewoks. They were cute and helped the story progress, but did not interfere with the main plot. Salacious Crumb is also an excellent example of inserting humor into the film in a character without dialogue.

We do know that porgs do not speak. We did see one yell in the trailer, but they do not speak. Not having ridiculous dialogue interjected into scenes makes the Porgs significantly less likely to reach the same annoyance factor people experienced with Jar-Jar.

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Picture credit Daniel Hoogkamp  https://twitter.com/DanHoogkamp_Art. 

 

4. They will serve a useful purpose in the film

Fans want to follow up with Chewbacca after Han’s death. We can’t even imagine what he is going through.  It wouldn’t be right to just write him off and that is the last we see of him. We want to see him heal and recover and I foresee the porgs helping do that.  There will even be a children’s book called “Chewie and the Porgs”.

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From everything I’ve seen about this new movie I can tell it is going to be very dark. I was shocked when I saw that striking red poster revealed at Celebration.  Even the trailers are extremely bleak, but there is one thing that stands out: the porg.  The little screaming porg in the second trailer probably made most people chuckle a little. It let fans know this movie wasn’t going to be completely somber, there would be some fun too.

I know most fans say Empire is their favorite of the series mostly because it is so dark and I think The Last Jedi wants to live up to that. But a good movie has many layers and emotions and the Star Wars movies always have.  The porgs will give a little humor to an otherwise dark film.

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5. Not completely CG

For some reasons Star Wars fans have grown especially fond of, practical effects versus CG. J.J. Abrams tried to do as many practical effects as possible in The Force Awakens and in the special features, continually pointed out how proud he was to not have used CG for scenes.

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This mentality has spilled over to modern fans. The heavy use of CG represents everything wrong to them about the prequels. It is a sign of what what they felt was taken from them.  These fans grew up on the amazing practical effects pioneered in 1977 and learned to love those.  Watching modern interviews with George Lucas you can see how excited he was to finally have the tools to create the visions he’s always had.  But for some reason many fans have rejected this idea and longed for the old ways which gives them the nostalgia of their youth.

Fans will be happy to know that porgs are not completely CG, but a mixture of computer and practical effects. I too appreciate practical effects, I couldn’t imagine if my dear Salacious Crumb was computer generated versus a puppet. Puppets do look better and help actors interact with them more naturally.

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6. They are actually cute

People have gone nuts buying porg toys and porg merchandise because they are just so cute.  Pablo Hidalgo himself has said, “porgs are cute. You fall into those deep, soulful eyes. I think a lot of people are going to want a porg as a pet.”. Now think of Jar-Jar Binks. Is he cute?  Think of those floppy ears, eyes floating above his head, wooden looking teeth and toenails….Bottom line: Jar-Jar is weird looking, porgs are cute.

Another major complaint fans have about porgs is that, “They were just made for merchandising”. First of all, you can’t fault Star Wars for selling their own products.  They basically created movie merchandise franchising 40 years ago.   I do believe porgs will play a useful role in the movie and that they were not just added to the film for toy sales. The idea of that Rian Johnson has toy sales on his mind when drafting the story of The Last Jedi. With everything to focus on in the film, I highly doubt he gave any attention to how could make more toy sales. Porgs were added to film for a purpose.

 

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7. They are bringing in a new line of fans

Let me just describe to you something I saw the other day. I was at a store in the electronics section across from the Star Wars toys area. Amongst the toys on the end cap were these fluffy little stuffed porgs, like the one I have. A little girl, maybe 7, was so excited to see them. She picked one up and hugged it. Her dad said maybe they would get it another time (I think he had gotten it for her for Christmas) and they walked away.

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Something happened there: that little girl saw something that drew her to the Star Wars area of the store. She fell in love with a porg. Maybe next time she’ll walk down the aisles and see some of the new Forces of Destiny figures which feature the female Star Wars characters in Barbie-like dolls which are very appealing to young girls used to other such dolls. Then she might want to learn more about the characters, start watching Rebels and seeing Hera and Sabine be the kick ass women they are. Then she might want to start watching the movies and fall in love with Padme, Jyn and Leia and of course Rey. Get on Netflix and learn about Asokha. She’ll grow up to read the novels and comics and explore the Star Wars universe even more, and eventually become a life long fan like all of us getting Star Wars tattoos and jewelry and saving up all year to go to Celebration and cosplay her favorite characters.

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That little fuzzy thing let her know that the world of Star Wars is safe and welcoming to someone like her. The rest of the display was glossy black and red and could be intimidating to a little girl, but there were these cute little things there inviting her in to begin to explore the world of Star Wars.

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People dislike porgs for lots of reasons, but there’s something to always remember: Star Wars was made for the passionate neckbeards who post their fan theories daily on Reddit, but it was also made for people like her.

A lot of fans don’t want someone like her in their fandom.  They don’t want to see Darth Vader riding a pink unicorn on a little girl’s bedroom floor.  When I was a kid I was teased by the other girls and boys for liking Star Wars.  They would say “Star Wars is for boys”. Maybe if porgs had been around then I could have had porg tea parties with the other little girls.  Porgs appeal to a new demographic they have not really reached yet: little girls who like cute things. Also, adult women who like cute things too and felt like Star Wars never really appealed to them.

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Long story short: Porgs are a gateway drug to Star Wars. Jar-Jar pushed people away from Star Wars, porgs bring them in.

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In conclusion…

In all things, it is important to decide your own opinions and not simply follow popular opinion. I hope this list has helped you craft your own personal opinions and views on porgs.

Please consider following my porg, Porgkins on Instagram and his adventures on Earth.

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Story of a brick

Several years ago I bought an engraved brick to put with other alumni at my old school Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, FL. I was recently back and got to see my brick. I wrote a story for the school newspaper Eagle News. This is that story.
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Story of a Brick 
by Bridget Regan Kolek
You’ve probably passed it.  It’s a few over from the second bench in front of the Cohen Center main doors. Let me back up, my name is Bridget. Not to boast, but when I went to FGCU I was kind of a big deal. FGCU was my life. I served on Student Government for 3 years as Civic Engagement Director, helped start Students Against Hunger and Homelessness, worked at Alico Arena, was a chemistry supplemental instructor, played viola in the school orchestra all while getting a 3.8 GPA in biology. I won Undergraduate Student of the Year 2008 (there’s even a picture of me in the Cohen Center). I was always doing something giving back to the community or the school. When I graduated I was accepted into the number 8 top physical therapy school in the country and graduate with my doctorate. I’m not telling you all this to brag, but to make my point: I was going places. Everyone thought I was a rising star, off to do great things in the world… and then it hit me. Mental illness. Instead of filling my days with meaningful work, volunteering and hanging out with friends like I used to, I couldn’t even get out of bed for weeks. Taking a shower felt like running a marathon. I worked as a home health physical therapist and would sit outside of patient’s homes in my car crying, completely unable to go in and see them. My paperwork piled up because I was unable to concentrate long enough to complete it. I was fired from my job and unable to hold down any other ones. I was nothing like the bad ass, high achiever I used to be. In 2013 I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It felt like a death sentence. I gained 100 lbs in 2 years from the antipsychotic medications. I absolutely loathed myself. The mere sight of myself in the mirror or a picture would sent me spiraling down. I was so ashamed of what I had become. I couldn’t do laundry, cook or take care of myself at all. I would spend my days laying in bed wasting time on my laptop. I didn’t leave the house. To people who saw me like this I just wanted to scream “This isn’t me!”.  I have been hospitalized twice and attempted suicide too many times to count. I just couldn’t stand the person I had become. The negative voices were just too loud, the fight too hard. I couldn’t escape my own mind, my worst enemy. The disease had taken everything from me; my job, my social life, my appearance, the joy in my life and left me in utter despair, left to collect the broken pieces
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I live in Austin, TX and am part of the alumni chapter there. I was invited back to FGCU for leadership training on building our chapter. As I walked the campus I felt completely disconnected from the person I was when I went here. I thought to myself “I am nothing like her, she is gone”. But then I found it. There in front of the Cohen Center, a place that meant so much to me once. It reads “Don’t Give Up, You’re Stronger Than You Know”.  I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. I had ordered it years ago when I was in a better place. There it was, my younger, happier self giving encouragement to the future, tired and battle-worn self. How could I know what was to come? But there it was: reassurance that I have within me the strength to fight whatever comes. Confidence that I am already equipped with what I need to battle my demons. There on the brick pavement I found someone who believed in me: myself. I was overwhelmed in emotions of love, support and the feeling that everything is going to be okay.
I wish my story had a “happily ever after”, but that’s not how it goes. Every day is still a fight, the demons are still there, but now I have a voice fighting with me saying “don’t give up”.  Even though I still don’t feel like the person I was when I went to FGCU, the girl whose picture is in the Cohen Center, I’m learning that she is still me. Although it’s not easy I’m working on starting my own physical therapy company and I’m getting involved with my community, especially advocating for decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness.
When you pass that little stone I want you to know that I believe in you. Even though you don’t know me, I know you have within you everything you need to face whatever may come your way. Even when everything seems like too much, I want you to keep fighting. To each of you who struggle, especially those with mental illness, I want you to know: “Don’t Give Up, You’re Stronger Than You Know”.

Star Wars Characters’ Mental Ilnesses

I am a huge Star Wars fan and mental health advocate.  The characters in The Force Awakens (I only saw it 7 times) displayed a depth of humanity that I hadn’t seen among many movies.  The characters had strengths and flaws which only made them more human.  Being a connoisseur of the DSM-V myself I saw many diagnostic criteria of the illnesses so many face in the movie.  Not that anyone should run around diagnosing people, rather recognizing the traits of the disorders many suffer from portrayed on the big screen.

 

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Hand sanitizer vs soap, what does science have to say?

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There is a a heated debate regarding traditional hand washing methods and newer waterless hand sanitizer.  There are passionate supporters on both sides of the argument, but what does the research show?  Let science!

Yes, let us science

A good way to measure which method is more effective is to look at its’ impacts in the real world. Several studies consistently report around a 30% decrease in hospital infections with easy access to alcohol based sanitizer. But it’s not all on the hands of the caregivers: a study done in a large hospital found that simply giving patients alcohol-based sanitizer and educating them on their benefit had a 36% decrease in infections in the urinary tract and at surgical incision sites as well. Simply installing gel sanitizer stations in dorm rooms and dining halls in the University of Colorado Boulder campus resulted in up to a 40% improvement in upper respiratory infections like the flu and colds.  One study found that using gel sanitizer decreased sick days in children 5-12 by one-third.

What about sanitizer compared to hand washing? A very large study from the Journal of the American Medical Association found no difference in infection rates in a neonatal unit between hand washing and sanitizer.  Another study of 18 second and third grade classrooms found no significant differences in illness rates between the two, only that school nurses preferred the hand sanitizer.

Looking at actual germ counts, research found alcohol based sanitizer to be significantly more effective at reducing bacteria populations than hand washing with soap.  It took 4 hand washes with antiseptic soap to reduce the bacteria as much as the sanitizer did. The British Medical Journal confirmed that alcohol based sanitizer decreased bacteria on hands 26% better than the proper hand washing technique of 30 seconds. Using sanitizer numerous times in a day does not make it less effective. There is no difference in effectiveness between gel, foam or wipe forms.  The Center for Disease Control recommends sanitizer made of at least 60% alcohol. Gels with the antimicrobial agent Triclosan were popular in the past, but are being phased out due to environmental concerns.

Based on the review of many studies over several years the International Journal of Nursing Practice came to the conclusion that: “alcohol-based hand rubbing removes microorganisms effectively, requires less time and irritates hands less often than does hand washing with soap or other antiseptic agents and water. Furthermore, the availability of bedside alcohol-based solutions increases compliance with hand hygiene among health care workers”.

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Yes you do!

Convenience is key. A very large study from the Journal of the American Medical Association saw hand hygiene compliance rates double from hand washing alone when alcohol based sanitizing stations were placed outside of patients’ rooms in a hospital. Doctors are actually worse about hand hygiene than nurses. Visitors to the ICU washed their hands 20% more than staff!  Access to sinks is another reason many people have poor compliance with traditional hand washing. Time is a major factor in convenience; proper hand washing takes on average 8 times as long than use of waterless sanitizer. Washing with soap is more than inconvenient, it has been shown in several studies to significantly cause more dryness and irritation to hands than gel sanitizer. However not all healthcare workers prefer sanitizer; hand washing is preferred by 71% of dentists.

Fight fingernail grime responsibly

Hand washing does win in some areas.  Washing with soap and water was more effective at decreasing bacteria under the fingernails.  Many dangerous bacteria and fungi including yeast can live under the nails.  Proper nail care is essential to hand hygiene. Use of a nail brush with hand washing has the greatest impact on these dangerous organisms.

Soap is always recommended if the hands are visually soiled such as with dirt or food.  The friction of rubbing the hands together will loosen the contaminant. Soap works by mixing with the dirt and bacteria so that water washes it away off of the hands.  If hands are already moist such as working with food, hand sanitizer is not as effective.  Alcohol based sanitizer work by actually killing the virus and bacteria.  If the hands are moist or oily they cannot reach the bacteria and cannot be as effective.  Hand washing is preferred in the food industry because of this.  Also, if it is not left to dry long enough before handling food, leftover gel can get into the food and contaminate it. While sanitizer is good for your hands, it is not good for your stomach!

Hand sanitizer are not effective against all microorganisms. Clostridium difficile is a dangerous bacteria which causes extreme diarrhea and is usually only seen in hospitals.  If a patient has a C. diff infection warning signs are placed on the door advising staff that they must wash hands with soap and water as sanitizer is ineffective. Staff and visitors must also wear special gowns to enter the room to prevent the spread of infection.  C. diff infections are not common outside of hospitals and are easily diagnosed so proper infection control is initiated completely.

World Health Organization’s proper hand washing technique

Adequate hand washing techniques are not common.  Proper technique involves many steps and 20-30 seconds.  A study found only 26% of college students sufficiently washed their hands. and only 30% of food workers. Improper hand washing can actually increase bacteria on the hands. There can be significant amounts of microorganisms on the faucets and paper towel dispensers as well. Hands free electric dryers decreased the most bacteria versus paper towels, but hands free towel dispensers were safer than those that had to be touched.

Although I have always been biased to alcohol based sanitizers due to their convenience (and you can get ones that smell pretty, thanks Bath and Body Works!), I approached the situation with an open mind and the research was clear. Based on the clinical evidence research I performed I have come to the following conclusion.

Alcohol based hand sanitizer is more effective in reducing microorganisms on hands, less harsh on hands and more convenient therefore increasing compliance. However traditional hand washing is preferred when hands are visibly soiled or moist, in the food industry and when in contact with someone with C. diff.

Thanks Khloe!

Tune in next time when we science again!

 

 

I am my own hero

I’ve been working through some body image issues and looking for some positive body role models looking for someone to inspire me to become something better. But then I realized: I’m my own God-damn hero. Every time I look into the mirror means I have made it through the fist clenching struggles of another day.  I haven’t given in to the harrowing little voices whispering in my ear to end it all today, to give in to the false sweetness of eternal surrender.

I know when I see myself that I am working my ass of to become a better person, to overcome my seemingly endless inner demons.  Spending hours going therapies, counseling and psychiatrist appointments. Going through the never ending nightmare of finding the right combination of drugs to live a somewhat normal life. Enduring the horrible side effects that these chemicals do to my body and mind. Dealing with all of the emotional turmoil and anguish brought up from delving deep into the dark places of my mind where the demons came from and bringing what has been stuffed away and exposing them into the sickening bright light.

Even looking in the mirror is a triumph, not being terrified to see my own reflection for once. Overcoming all of the messages the world says about my body, that I am disgusting and should not be seen or even think about loving myself.

It’s hard to even associate the word hero with myself, I feel like it is only for soldiers and people who run into buildings on fire. Researching the definition of hero keeps showing me that heroes are male (seriously). But I know I am working my ass off and it is hard as fuck. Not giving in to the thoughts in my head telling me to kill myself every day is a battle in itself.

However, thinking about all of this making myself better stuff makes me feel selfish. But if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t survive. I do it for the people that love me, my husband, my future children.  Trying to stay alive isn’t selfish, is it? Trying to live a somewhat normal life can’t be selfish.

I just hate thinking about anyone else going through this pain. I like to think I could inspire them. I’m not at the finish line yet, but I’m running as fast as I can, getting up time and time again after I fall.  I guess that is the definition of hero. Someone who displays courage. Courage is definied as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” Even though I struggle with associating the word “hero” with myself, I know damn well that I am the embodiment of courage.

 

 

Something very important in my life

Who couldn’t love this guy?

I was first introduced to Star Wars in 1997 at the 20th anniversary re-release in theatres. They absolutely blew me away. Han Solo became my first crush. I was so worried about him at the end of Empire Strikes Back being frozen in carbonite!  Princess Leia became one of the first badass female action heros I was exposed to who would rather grab a blaster and defend herself than sit around waiting to be rescued.

Self rescuing princess indeed

After seeing the movies I was hooked. We had some action figures, but I preferred playing Star Wars with legos. Now they didn’t make Star Wars legos back then so I just found minifigs that were close enough, like I had one with black legs, a white shirt and a smirk on his face for Han. My brother would make me a make-shift Millennium Falcon and we would go on adventures throughout the house. I spent many nights fascinated by the ships and vehicles books learning every detail. We even had a guide to the many planets of the Star Wars universe which I was enchanted by. I read several of the EU books, but mostly I just liked hearing the summaries from my brother.

Perfect for a scruffy looking nerf-herder

In the days before DVRs, Netflix and iPads existed to entertain children, my brother and I would spend our spare time as children watching, and rewatching and watching again the gold VHS box set.  One of the first video games I ever played was Super Star Wars ESB for SNES (it was really hard!). As I grew older I absolutely loved Rogue Squadron and Shadows of the Empire on N64. I also had this badass PC game called Droid Works where you build your own droid and go on missions. It was super cool.

Seriously check it out

Being a Star Wars fan at that time, not so cool. It is so strange to see how mainstream it has become when we were made fun of relentlessly for liking it growing up. And one thing was clear which I was told many times by male and female classmates: Star Wars is not for girls. Whatever negative outcomes that came from being a Star Wars fan was nothing compared to the magic that galaxy far, far away brought me and others.

My childhood in a box

When word of a new set of Star Wars movies hit me I was ecstatic. My brother recorded the trailer for The Phantom Menace and we watched it every single morning before school until the movie came out. Some people will disagree with me, but I loved the movie. I loved the strong female Padme/Queen Amidala was (and her awesome wardrobe) and I was actually entertained by Jar Jar Binks, although it sounds like I was the only one. We added this movie to our VHS rotation. I remember seeing Attack of the Clones at the midnight opening and then missing school for sleeping in the next day, but showing up for last period to take a biology quiz. Apparently “Star Wars” was not a good enough excuse for the Assistant Principal. Watching that epic volcano fight scene in Revenge of the Sith had me at the edge of my seat. No matter what people say about the prequels, learning the story of how that sweet little boy became Darth Vader was a wonderful story.

Sharing Star Wars with others has also brought me joy from the fandom. I loved going to San Diego Comic Con and Toronto Fan Expo and seeing the cosplayers and fellow enthusiasts.  In college it was so amazing to meet other female Star Wars fans. Then 3 years ago I met the love of my life, someone who shared my affinity for Star Wars and clearly exceeded it (he works on a friggin Star Wars video game!). It is clear to see our love of Star Wars in our home from our Han and Leia hand towels to Darth Vader cookie jar. Tonight will be a very special day in my life. I never thought I would see an Episode 7, but most of all I am fortunate to be sharing with with my amazing husband and wonderful friends.

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Thank you to my parents for fostering and encouraging a love for this amazing universe.

I dedicate this to the biggest Star Wars fan I know and the best big brother a girl could ask for Matt Regan

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And a final word: May the force be with you, always

My first Pusheen drawing!

If you don’t know Pusheen, she is a very popular cartoon cat on the internet

 

 

 

She has a sister named Stormy too

 

My phone is even dedicated to Pusheen!

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I made my very own drawing of Pusheen and Stormy as part of a holiday card contest

Pusheen Holiday Christmas

 

 

Here is my drawing in pencil then outlined in sharpie

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I edited it and colored in Gimp’s software which I feel pretty comfortable with, but I feel like there is an easier way to clean up lines than with various filters. Artists let me know your secrets!

 

 

This reminded me how much I love drawing, especially cute things!  Although I love more artistic styles, I feel like kawaii is the only one I am skilled at. I look forward to drawing Pusheen again and more!

 

How to make your medical records easy to access for medical responders!

Recently I had surgery and was told I had a very difficult intubation (inserting the breathing tube). The anesthesiologist recommended I put the information on my fridge and wear a medical alert bracelet.  The paper had tons of detailed information, how could I fit it all on a bracelet?  I asked myself, would the emergency responders see the paper on my fridge? What if I had an emergency away from home?  I also wanted a way for healthcare professionals to easily access my all of my medical history, emergency contacts, medication list, allergies and contact info of my doctors. How could I make all of this info easily available when needed?

FAQ

I knew I could print all of the information out, but that would be difficult to carry around with me and hard to update. Would a responder look for it in my wallet? When my husband had an emergency recently the paramedics didn’t go looking at the fridge or his wallet for information, they just went right to him.

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An alert bracelet was a good idea, but how could I fit all of my information on it? I researched scannable  QR code bracelets, but many people don’t know how to use them and the websites they worked with weren’t as customizable as I would have liked.

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I did like the of using a website for my information though.  When I researched online medical profile websites, most required a monthly fee! These sites seemed hard to navigate for a first responder and required a password yoo.  Then I had an idea….

 

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Could I make my own website with my information?  This website is run on the free hosting site WordPress, couldn’t I just make one with my info?  It is very popular so it won’t be going out of business in the foreseeable future. How could I make sure it was secure? WordPress has a function where websites can be seen when the link is shared, but do not come up in search engines. Getting this site to show up on search engines is hard enough, so I knew my medical info wouldn’t be accessible to the public.  Wordpress posts are easy to edit so I could easily update my health information over time. Having all of my information in one place would be nice to access when needed, like at a doctor’s office.

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But the url for any site is usually pretty long; how could I fit it all on a bracelet? I’ve seen people use link shortening websites, but I wanted mine to be easy to remember. TinyURL.com lets you create a custom tiny url! The site says the irl will never break or expire.

long-url

 

I’m pretty fashion forward so I knew I needed a medical alert bracelet that aesthetically pleasing too.  After a lot of research I found Lauren’s Hope. They had a great selection of fashion conscious bracelet styles with enough engraving space to fit my website link. I found the perfect solution!

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5 Super Easy Steps even grandma can do!

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1. Make a free website at WordPress.com

Wordpress has a free option, just click "Get Started"

WordPress has a free option, just click “Get Started”

Choose a theme, nothing fancy, I like Penscratch

Choose a theme, nothing fancy, I like Penscratch

 

 

2.  Name your site something unique like (random numbers)(lastname)(random letters)

domain

 

 

3. Write medical info in a post

Hover over Posts, click "Add New"

Hover over Posts, click “Add New”

 

Write information in box, hit post

4. Go to TINYURL.COM and make custom alias, again something rather unique, no more than 7 characters long

Paste website url, in first box, write custom alias in second box, click Make TinyURL

Paste website url, in first box, write custom alias in second box, click Make TinyURL, copy tinyURL on next page

 

5. Get a custom engraved medical alert bracelet (like LAUREN’S HOPE) with a line saying “Medical History at” (next line)”tinyurl.com/youralias”

Select bracelet style, put info in boxes

Select bracelet style, put info in boxes

 

You’re done!

I think this is a great idea and I would love to share it with anyone with a complicated medical history like me. Please share this site with your friends!

Letter to Scare for a Cure

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Please sign the petition!

Dear Scare for a Cure,

I never thought I would be writing a letter like this. I’ve always laughed at politically incorrect jokes and tend to take life not so seriously, but we have something we need to discuss.  I see the theme for your haunted house this year is “Dread Asylum”, a spooky “insane” asylum with demented doctors and unnerving patients in straight jackets.
 
I am like the other 43.7 million  Americans who suffer from a mental illness. Portraying people with mental illness as scary and dangerous is not okay. Portraying treatment for a mental illness as terrifying will prevent people from getting the help they need. It is actions like this that reinforce the stigma surrounding mental illness, something we need to fight, not contribute to.
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When I was first diagnosed, I was ashamed and afraid to seek help. I didn’t want to be thought of as “crazy” and was afraid of what the treatment would entail. I had several attempts on my own life that resulted in an inpatient psychiatric hospitalization.  It wasn’t the haunting, terrifying experience you portray in your Youtube trailer. I wasn’t dragged kicking and screaming by men in white coats or strapped to a chair and tortured like your video shows.  Going to the hospital saved my life and saves countless others. Watching that video make me physically sick, which if that is what you are going for, good for you.
You are a non profit organization and this year are donating your funds to the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Central Texas. How would you feel if the theme was a scary cancer treatment center? It could have creepy doctors performing unwanted mastectomies and shaving people’s hair off. You could be chased by deranged women in pink ribbons distraught over the effects of chemotherapy and their pending prognosis. What you have done is no different. The same number of Americans die from suicide as by breast cancer each year, but suicide is completely preventable. Your spooky “Dread Asylum” only makes those fighting a mental illness battle even harder.
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You cannot measure the damage your event has done to the greater community and will continue to do if you do not make changes.I am asking you to do 3 things:
1. Write a formal apology to the mental illness community on your website and in the Austin American Statesman newspaper
2. Stop all functions in the current Dread Asylum theme while you re-brand your experience 
3. In addition to your donations to the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Central Texas, make a donation to the National Association for Mental Illness Austin Chapter. 
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Stopping services may seem too costly, but what about the cost of the shame and guilt suffered from increasing the stigma surrounding mental illness? Or even one more person taking their life because they were too afraid to ask for help?
mental-health
I have always been a fan of your organization and your work, please don’t let me down now.
Sincerely,
Bridget Regan Kolek

The Complete Desk Job Fitness Guide

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I recently received an email from NADE asking permission to publish an article I wrote for Instructables on The Complete Desk Job Fitness Guide that I wrote 5 years ago, how time flies! It still has a lot of good info, so here it is!

The Complete Desk Job Fitness Guide

by Bridget Regan Kolek, PT, DPT

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As technology has made our lives easier, we find more and more of our jobs to be behind desks on computers, phones and doing paperwork.  Sadly, sitting for prolonged periods of time has had negative effects on employee health.  Studies have shown that the decrease in physical activity in the workplace has contributed the rise in the obesity epidemic.  A 14-year study conducted by the American Cancer Society concluded that those who sit for greater than 6 hours per day had a higher mortality rate than those who sat less.  “Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases,” said Dr. Alpa Patel, the study’s leader.  Recently, a NJ Worker’s Comp court ruled that prolonged sitting was to blame for an obese woman’s death by a blood clot.  Prolonged sitting from desk jobs is also related to chronic neck and low back pain.Is there any hope? Of course there is! Read on and this guide will give you simple and easy tips to combat the detrimental effects of a sedentary job.

Step 1: Control your methods to and from work

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A 2005 U.S. Census study found that 87.7% of workers drive to work.  Are you one of them?  Look at your more active options for getting to and from work.  Depending on your proximity to work you might be able to catch a morning and evening workout just on your commute!Walk/run: If you live close to your workplace, this could be a good option. Plan a safe route with plenty of sidewalks and well lit areas. Also, pack a comfortable bag with extra fluids, weather gear and your work attire to change into when you get there.
Picture of Control your methods to and from workBike: Also a good choice for those within close proximity to their workplace and a bit quicker.  My brother used his commute to jump-start his fitness routine by completing his 3.5 mile commute on bike.

Public transit: If you live in an area with accessible public transportation, you may be able to utilize it to also remain less sedentary.  Although many stops are very convenient, you will most likely have to walk a bit to your nearest stop and stand to wait, which is more physical activity than driving. Even just a simple 1/2 mile walk to the bus stop would help you burn an extra 80 calories per day! And get you out of the rush hour traffic…If these seem a little hefty, try one of them one day per week to start out . The best thing about using your method to and from work for exercise is that it forces you to do it.  If you biked to work, then you will have to bike home whether you feel like it or not.Of course not all of these options are available to everyone. Sometimes you just have to drive.  But what about parking a little further and enjoying a stroll or jog to work?

Once you get to work, do you take the elevator or escalator ?  Try the stairs!  Remember that famous scene from Rocky where he’s running up the stairs for straining? That could be you. You could burn an extra 20-40 calories per day with just one flight of stairs.  When I worked on the 12th floor of a building I would challenge myself to see how many flights of stairs I could do and then take the elevator for the rest.  Be advised, you might want to go to the water fountain before letting your coworkers see you huffing and puffing!

Step 2: Make health-conscience food choices

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Desk jobs often are the hub of unhealthy food choices with their soda machines and free donut days. Science has shown time and time again that the real key to weight loss/gain is calories.  Here are some tips to easily cut unnecessary calories at workAlways eat breakfast: Eating a good breakfast will control hunger and energy during the day.  Skipping this important meal will leave you starving by lunch making you prone to making unhealthy food choices and wreck your metabolism.  Look for high-fiber, high protein oatmeals and cereals.  If you don’t have time in the morning, try a breakfast meal bar or shake to eat on the go. I would keep a box of Slim Fast meal bars in my car and eat them on my early morning commute when I didn’t have time for breakfast.

media_httpbitsandpiecesuswpcontentuploads200909imageshamburlgarsmalljpg_zFxuBxmyiuIbDHe.jpg.scaled1000.jpgBring lunch as often as you can: The easiest way for me to do this was to buy a bunch of bags of ready made salad, low-cal dressing and croutons and a carton of low-sodium soup and fat free yogurt and just leave it at work in the fridge.  That way you don’t have to fuss with preparing a meal each day and turning to unhealthy, quick alternatives.  Some people really like the health-conscious prepared frozen meals and stock them in the work fridge as well.  Just be sure to find ones that you enjoy and will fill you up.Plan for meals out: Just because you want to stay fit doesn’t mean you have to skip lunch out with coworkers. Look up the restaurant you are going to ahead of time.  Most places have their nutrition facts online.  You may be surprised, for instance a McDonalds McChicken sandwich has more calories and fat than their cheeseburger?  If you are going to a sit down restaurant, portions are often unnecessarily large.  Ask for a take out box and plan on eating half of the meal and saving the rest for the next day’s lunch.

Skinny your coffee: Many desk job workers are also coffee fanatics. I was surprised to learn my favorite Starbucks drink, the Grande Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha has a whopping 400 calories and 9 grams of fat! (That’s more calories than a McChicken sandwich)  But did you know that you can ask for many of your favorite drinks to be “Skinny”? The same sized Skinny Flavored Latte would bring me down to only 180 calories.  Better yet, skip the coffee shop all together and brew yourself.  Check out the flavored creamer section of your grocery store and you can find fat-free creamer versions of your favorite coffee house selections.

Aquaify with H2O or low-sugar juices: You maybe have heard stories of weight loss when someone simply gives up their daily soda.  These drinks can pack lots of hidden calories, so just skip them.  Many people opt for juices instead, but also look at the nutrition value on these.  Many juices have added sugar or high fructose corn syrup to make them extra sweet.  Look for juices that say “100% juice” or “no sugar added”.  The best choice to quench your thirst is simply water, but if you need some more flavor in the day, try bringing a jug of your favorite low-cal drink and leave it in the fridge to fight soda machine temptations.  I always left a jug of diet green tea in the fridge at work instead of going to the soda machine.  Crystal Light also makes low-cal favor packet singles to flavor just one cup of water too.

Prepare for snacking: When you need a little pick-me-up at work, instead of turning to the vending machine snacks, plan ahead with healthier alternatives at your desk.  Keep a stash of healthy snacks like pretzels, crackers, fiber bars, or fat-free puddings in your desk.  The Snack-Pack Sugar-Free chocolate or caramel puddings are my favorite at only 80 calories for a rich, sweet, healthy, and cheap ($1 for 4 cups) snack.


Step 3: Move during the day

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The easiest way to make your sedentary job better for you is to make it less sedentary! Follow these simple steps to put a few more steps in your day.

Picture of Move during the dayMeet face-to-face: Instead of calling a coworker, emailing, or sending an instant message, why not get up and meet face-to-face?  Some things are better said in person anyway. This is an easy way to put a few more steps into your day and unchain you from your desk, and make your face known more around the office.Make trips away from the desk: Send that document to a farther printer to get a few more steps in your day. Use a farther copier. Use a small water cup or coffee mug so you have to make trips to fill it. Don’t use a trash can in your office; force yourself to get up and use a central one.

Stand when you can: Your body burns approximately 100 calories as hour just by standing! Going to be on a long phone call? Why not stand! Better yet, add some steps and pace a bit.  If you like to make notes to yourself, position a white board up high so you have to stand up to write on it. Same with your calendar.  When visiting with coworkers, stand as well. In a big meeting with not enough chairs? Don’t fight to grab a chair, offer it to a co-worker and stand for the presentation.

Fidget: There have been numerous studies on the benefits of fidgeting. The simple act of fidgeting can burn up to 350 calories a day! So tap your pen, swing your chair back and forth and tap your toes. These little movements add up over time making you a healthier person.

Use your lunch break: Instead of just staying seated during your lunch break, use this time to move freely. Is there a gym close by? Consider joining and using the machines on your lunch break.  You can also go for a nice walk or run during lunch. Increasing your time outside in the fresh air will also improve your mood versus staying inside all day.  If you are going out to eat, why not recommend somewhere everyone can walk to?

Studies have shown that just increasing your activity at work with these simple ways can significantly improve your long-term health.


Step 4: Stretch at work

Prolonged sitting places many of your muscles in a shortened and compromised position. This can lead to chronic pain and overuse syndromes. Add these stretches into your day to help. Perform all stretches holding 20 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side releasing between reps for best results. You should only feel a stretch, never go into pain. Perform these once per day to combat the effects of sitting all day.
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1. Grab and Leans (Sitting upper trap stretch): Sitting in your chair in good posture, hold onto the bottom of the seat and lean your body away. You should feel the stretch on the side of your neck of the arm that is holding on.
Photo 214.jpg2. Figure Fours (Sitting piriformis stretch): Sitting in your chair, sit up very tall. Cross one leg so your ankle is on your mid thigh. Keeping your back straight bend forward only at your waist. You should feel this stretch in your bottom.
Photo 215.jpg3. Ballerina stretch (Standing hamstring stretch): Stand and bring one leg up straight in front of you on a stable surface, such as a non-wheeled chair or desk. Keeping your back straight, hinge forward at your waist until you feel a stretch behind your upper leg. If the stretch is too intense, try it without bringing your leg up on anything, just straight in front of you. Bringing your leg higher makes the stretch more difficult
Photo 204.jpg4. Vow and Turns (Standing pec stretch): Stand in a doorway, parallel to the wall. Raise one arm up to shoulder height like you are giving a vow, your hand should be flat against the wall. Angle your body away from your arm until you feel a stretch in your upper chest or back.

Step 5: Perform sitting exercise

Another good way to keep your sedentary job less sedentary is to move your body as you sit, versus keeping your lower body motionless. Below are some lower body exercises to keep you moving during the day.  Feel free to add ankle weights for an added challenge. Regarding repetitions, do to your comfort, but perform the entire set once every hour.
Picture of Perform sitting exercise1. Kicks(long arc quad): Straighten each leg one at a time. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
Photo 224.jpg2. Marches(sitting hip flexion): Lift each knee up like you are marching in place. Perform 3 sets of 10 on each leg
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3. Heel-toes(sitting heel and toe raises): Raise your heels up and then rock backwards to bring your toes up. Perform 30 of these. This exercise is probably the best to ward off deadly blood clots associated with prolonged sitting , so perform feel free to perform this throughout the day.
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4. Shoulder rolls: Sit up in good posture. Raise your shoulders up towards your ears, then back towards your shoulder blades, then return to their original position. Perform 3 sets of 10 of these.*Remember, the purpose of these exercises is to keep you moving during the day and doesn’t replace a regular workout routine outside of work

Step 6: Wrap up

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The research concerning the effects of having a sedentary desk job is frightening. But there is definitely hope: make your sedentary job less sedentary . An interesting study performed by Mayo Clinic studied the effects of inactivity with increased calorie intake. Surprisingly, not all subjects gained weight. Those who did not pack on the pounds unconsciously moved around more during the day than those who did. And those little movements added up.What about those who exercise regularly outside of work? Good. Keep it up. But even 3-5 hours a week of exercising is hard to combat ~40 hours of inactivity, don’t you agree? Active people still need to employ these tips because it is the prolonged inactivity that is so dangerous.Regarding what I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Won’t I look silly stretching and moving around during the day?”. Maybe. But the research is out there: looking silly is a lot better than the scary effects of inactivity.  If one of your co-workers asks what is up, share with them what you learned. Invite them to join you in your quest to be more active at work.  Share this instructable with your coworkers so you can fight the effects of inactivity together. It’s better than being dead , right?

Image Sources in order

http://weheartthis.com/2010/06/24/get-fit-at-the-office-work-out-at-your-desk/
http://www.kingston.gov.uk/information/news_and_events/news/news_2008.htm?id=75717
http://cbmurphy.net/writing/essays/now-its-personal-again/attachment/bike-vs-car
http://www.mpiweb.org/magazine/pluspoint/20110104/Lunch_at_Desk_is_Bad_for_Your_Health
http://kanyeinterrupts.tumblr.com/
http://www.hoalian.com/2009/06/
http://www.nwasg.com/Facilities.htm
http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily/who_got_the_gig/