Unicorns Exist

Unicorns Exist

The “real world” is a scary place filled with brilliant people. For youngsters with a few years ahead of them, and graduating seniors like me who are desperately trying to figure it out, here is what I’ve learned so far about the real world: if you want to be a truly competitive candidate you have to be a unicorn. Unicorns don’t exist, you say? Yes, they do, and they’re here to steal your jobs right from your fingertips. Unicorns are individuals who bridge the gap between the visionaries and the engineers. The ones who can not only conceptualize a web page, but be able to understand how the idea will translate into code. The first step to becoming a unicorn of course, is believing. Once you believe, you can become.

Five websites that will help you become a unicorn:

  1. https://skillcrush.com

Skillcrush is a comprehensive, hip website that will empower you to try your hand at coding.

2. http://www.pyladies.com

It turns out the coding language Python is actually named after the creative masterpiece, Monty Python. Don’t think you can’t talk code just because you have a creative mind.

3. www.wordpress.com

Obviously. This website is an easy comprehensive way of started on your Web journey.

4. https://www.lynda.com

Over 4,000 online courses available to learn new skills? Forget a dating website. Start a relationship with learning.

5. http://kelbyone.com

Back up your creative ideas with technique. Make it perfect.

You see, the more you know, the more your unicorn horn will grow. Good luck to all my fellow job seekers!

Spreading Positivity

In a world riddled with negative news, “I Love Rutland” dares to reinforce and attract the positive.

Professional photographer Donna GoodHale, from Expressions By Donna, along with Mike Napolitano, owner of Awesome Graphics, and Steve Costello, of Green Mountain Power, teamed up to interview and photograph total strangers and create an “I Love Rutland” campaign. The goal was to give the people of Rutland a chance to spread the love through storytelling.

“I feel that Rutland is a little city with a big heart. With all the negatives people focus on in the world, its nice to focus on something positive” said GoodHale.

The criteria for picking folks to interview is specific: Someone out and about in the city of Rutland who wants to share why they love Rutland.

“We’ve heard a thousand times from the mayor all the positive things about Rutland, let’s hear it from everyday people of Rutland,” GoodHale said.

After each interview her husband Bradley GoodHale transcribes the interview and she develops the template to be posted online. Posts are shared on the “I Love Rutland, Vermont” Facebook page, as well as the “I Love Rutland Vt” website.

“Everybody lives in one little community, yet it means something different to everyone,” said Donna.

Stories vary from love stories to stories about plumbing, but they have one thing in common — the storytellers love Rutland, Vermont.

“I came to Rutland because I fell in love with a girl, then I fell in love with the city,” said Brad GoodHale. “I enjoy that I can be serenaded by the many sounds of the city… my personal favorite is the ten-of-nine whistle. I love that the whistle harkens back to the days when it was a reminder that you had 10 minutes to get home before curfew.”

Lynn Wilson said, “First and Foremost, the people of Rutland are really accepting and generally happy. We have some problems, but we are Rutland — we’ve always figured it out.”

And of course, some stories will surely make you cry. One story features a woman named Summer Stoutes who donated her kidney to Brent Garrow, whom she had never even met.

“Rutland is a place where people care” said Cheryl Hooker.

Shedding some light on the positive experiences shared by Rutlanders reinforces the community feel and reminds readers how positively important it is to spread positivity.

GoodHale hopes to eventually create a book with all the different photographs, much like the Humans of New York books. The photography element is Donna’s favorite part, because it “puts a human face to these stories.”

Positivity is contagious, and the founders of the “I Love Rutland” campaign plan on engaging the entire community.


By Lily Spechler, Correspondent for the Rutland Reader

A Peach of a Show: Rutland Youth Theater Presents Classic Children’s Tale

Shot in the dark here: It’s very likely that you’re not living inside of the fuzzy walls of a massive peach. Rather, you inhabit some sort of house or apartment — free of contact with talking spiders, centipedes or earthworms, and you work at a regular job, making logical adult decisions from sunup to sundown.

If you dare to step out of the ordinary and get inside that peach, you can see life from Roald Dahl’s point of view at Rutland Youth Theatre’s production of “James and the Giant Peach,” which runs May 20 and May 21. With a cast of 60, students ages 5 to 18 years old, director Saskia Hagen Groom has managed to put together the two-hour musical production. And she did it with just eight weeks of prep time and training.

Almost 100 kids auditioned, and in auditions Hagen Groom assigned each student a number so as not to be biased by anyone’s name. She said she tried to, “really audition kids based on their ability.”

“Its tough,” she said. “Not everybody gets a part, but I always try and make room for kids that I think would greatly benefit from being part of the learning process of the theater.” The kids and their reactions to each person who auditions also played a huge role in cast selection. Before the students auditioned, Hagen Groom always told them not to guess what she wanted, but to give her something original.

Case in point: Kyle Mead. He took everyone by surprise by getting down on his belly and doing “the worm” across the floor. All the kids started clapping and screaming, “he’s the earthworm!” Hagen Groom said that “they made the decision for me.”

But the selection process wasn’t always that easy. It was difficult to choose the lead, she said. James is supposed to be someone with an unchanged voice, but the role, which involves extensive singing and acting, is a huge responsibility. She chose 13-year-old Val Giesey. He has been working with Rutland Youth Theatre for the past six years, and loves the supportive atmosphere and family community. “In the show, James’ parents died, and I have never lost anyone that close to me, so I’ve had to figure out how to portray that without having the experience,” Val said, when asked about his acting challenges.

But that’s not what Hagen Groom sees as the biggest challenge. She laughed and said, “We’re praying and hoping his voice doesn’t change.”

One giant obstacle was finding the physical space in which to rehearse with the giant peach. Currently, the Rutland Youth Theatre is using the Courcelle building to practice, but the space isn’t big enough to fit the peach. Hagen Groom said, “They will not have worked with the peach until four days before the show.” She said they are in search of a community sponsor who could provide a place to keep big set pieces and a place to rehearse. Although both Hagen Groom and the cast members are concerned about the peach issue, surely with the help of some of that Roald Dahl magic, everything will run smoothly.

When asked what is most rewarding about being a director, she laughed, and said it would take about two weeks to explain. The most rewarding part, however, is seeing kids, “from a variety of backgrounds, troubled homes, obstacles, all come together like a family. Because you work together so intensely, everyone’s actions have a consequence. You all have to work together for the final product, sometimes to tears! But to see these kids transform from outsiders — sometimes kids who just don’t fit in — to have them find themselves, either through being a different character or working well with others — that to me is amazingly rewarding.”

The Rutland Youth Theatre is a place where everyone has a voice, even the leaves and spiders. Olivia Lane, who is only 6 years old, was concerned that she needed more time on stage to express her full character. “I’m the little spider and I am sassy,” the tiny natural-born actress said to Hagen Groom, “And I hope you can make that happen!”

Myles Donohue, 9, is both nervous and excited about his debut with Rutland Youth Theatre. Donohue has learned how to be more comfortable on stage, as well as the importance of timing. He fell in love with the choreography. When asked what Myles is most excited about he said, “the beginning of the play… but you’ll have to wait and see to find out more!”

Graduating high school senior Will Giering, 18, is playing the character Buzz. It’s his last show with the group, and he is sad to be leaving. He will be going on to study theater at Ithaca College. His love of the arts “can be traced back to Rutland Youth Theatre.”

Brandon Bailey, 18, who will be playing the character Centipede, said one of the most difficult obstacles was learning how to walk like a centipede — memorizing his lines is a breeze in comparison. Bailey is also a graduating senior, and is excited to announce that he will continue to pursue his passion for theater at Castleton University, though he plans to become a math teacher. Although it sounds like an unusual combination, Bailey said, “music and math go together like crisscross.”

In the wise words of Roald Dahl in “James and the Giant Peach,” Rutland Youth Theatre would like to say, “Come right up close to me and I will show you something wonderful.” See you at the show!


By Lily Spechler, Correspondent for the Rutland Reader

Write to Choose

Ready for some alarming statistics? Planned Parenthood states that 3 out of 10 women in the United States will get an abortion before the time they are 45. 18 out of 100 people who use condoms will become pregnant every single year. The birth control pill is only 91% effective. These statistics are shocking and they are very real. In my eyes, as a young woman in the free world, it is so glaringly obvious to me that women deserve the right to choose. And yet, to my disbelief, Roe v. Wade, the pivotal 1973 decision that legalized abortions, is an ongoing discussion, not a stable fact.

In the third presidential Debate, when asked if he would want the court to overturn Roe V. Wade, President-elect Donald Trump responded:

“Well, if that would happen, because I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges…it will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.”

Mr. Trump, if you don’t mind, I’d like to say a few words on behalf of my fellow countrywomen, because we are highly concerned.

With all due respect, you are a man, and perhaps it is hard to truly understand the anxieties women feel surrounding sex. The concept that something as common as a contraception failure (just to repeat, 18 out of 100 people using condoms) could lead to something as life altering as having a child is crippling. Try and truly comprehend the fact that a fetus could grow inside our bodies, and our bodies would have to morph and rearrange for nine months whether or not we wanted it to, interrupting our commutes, our class time, our study sessions, our full time jobs, our portals to achieving our full potential. Women can become pregnant as soon as they get their period. For some this is before they even turn eleven. Not to mention, sometimes sex is not a voluntary action. 1 in 5 women in college fall victim to rape. There is no law that legally binds a biological father to the child. There are no systems in place that ensure that every mother and child is provided with enough money for a good life. There are no systems in place that provides funding for every child born with disabilities. There is no system to help women earn a college degree under these circumstances. There is no way to shield women from the stigma that comes along with pregnancy. Men have the luxury of externalizing this anxiety. Women do not have that luxury.

Your plan for paid maternity leave calls for only six weeks of paid maternity leave for new mothers, not fathers.

According to TIME, “There are many problems with this, including its sexist presumption that only women can be caregivers. Policies that only allow women time off end up hurting women by pushing women to stay home and men to stay at work.”

It is also unclear whether your policy includes single mothers, the most vulnerable demographic in society.  According to the Washington Post, the maternity leave policy has a marriage requirement cited on your campaign’s website, Mr. Trump. What an embarrassment to the United States of America.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio signed the “Senate Bill 127”, which bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, making no exception to victims of rape or incest. Vice Media reports that of the 16 states that ban abortions after 20 weeks, only Arkansas has made an exception for rape or incest. And women across the country held their breath as the Heartbeat Bill was passed by lawmakers in Ohio. This new bill called for the banning of abortions after only 6 weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women even know that they are pregnant. Again, this bill would have made no exception for incest or rape. Thankfully, Gov. Kasich vetoed the bill, but the prospect send shivers across the country. The passing of the Heartbeat Bill was far too close for comfort.

Mr. Trump, you claim that you want to “Make America Great Again”. But last time I checked, women have been celebrating the freedom and right to choose for 44 years, and that’s been pretty great. I respect that religion exists in this country. But the best part about America is that it is a melting pot, laden with spices of all different flavors, working together as one. The atheists are here too. The people who believe in God and also believe reproductive rights are here too. Forcing religious beliefs onto a nation by taking away their right to choose goes against the very essence of America, land of the free. Americans got hung up on a few e-mails and Hillary Clinton lost the election, and the threat to basic women’s rights is collateral damage. I am highly doubtful that any movement will be made towards limiting the ability of men to obtain Viagra, but what do I know? Trump would say, I’m just a “nasty woman”.

Thoughts on Run-Walking

By Lily Spechler, The Vermont Cynic

If you are a college student that has been running late on one occasion or another, you have experienced the run-walk — you know, not quite a walk, but not quite a run, either.

The run-walk is the most awkward mode of transportation. It’s important to note that there are a few different types of run-walks.

The worst type of run-walk is when you’re trying to make it to the crosswalk after the timer has already started. This occurs when you’re about 200 feet from the crosswalk. You know that if you run, you can easily make it, but you’re also far enough away that it would also be completely reasonable to wait.

You don’t want to wait though, because that will mean at least two full minutes of waiting before the light changes again. So you decide to run-walk. From start to finish, you never feel quite right about this run-walk because by the time you are already about a quarter of the way through the crosswalk, the timer runs out and the light is green.

But everyone knows you already committed to run-walk. So now not only are you run-walking, but you are apologetically looking to the cars for approval. You find no one.

Another brutal type of run-walk is when you already know that you’re late for class. This run-walk can be broken down into two forms.

The first is the switch-off run-walk. This is when you simply cannot decide if you want to run or walk. So you start to run, and then change your mind, and walk. Then you remember that you can’t walk, or you’ll be late for class.

run-walking-editSo you start running again, only to stop because you physically can’t; you are a chill, laid-back college student, which is probably the reason you are late in the first place. And everyone knows that being a chill, laid back college student is inversely related to physical fitness. So now you’re walking again, until your anxiety takes over. And you start to run again.

And now you’re so sweaty from the combination of anxiety and lack of physical fitness that you look up the sky and vow that you’re going to make it to the gym. But you won’t, because you clearly have no time management, hence the lateness, and the vicious cycle continues.

The second type is the consistent run-walk. This run-walk occurs when you know you’re late, but you’re either wearing an outfit that won’t allow for an all-out run, or are carrying a backpack the size of a boulder, or the common combination of the two.

You are in social hell the entire time, because you keep seeing people that you know and want to say hey to you on the way to class, and you’re not exactly running so you still look available to chat.

So you have to just smile and keep your headphones locked in your ears as you awkwardly pass the person who is trying to make conversation with you. But you’re not quite fast enough to do that, so you’re just a few steps in front of them, internally freaking out while trying to remain chill. Things are most interesting when coffee is added to the mix.

Run-walking should really be avoided at all costs. It isn’t fun for anyone: run-walkers, spectators, cars, friends who are just trying to chat. Set your alarms early, wake up earlier, smoke less weed — do whatever it takes to make sure that you have the time to commit to walking. Honestly, no one wants to see that.

Thoughts on Lasting Longer

Think you can make it to the bottom line of this article? Microsoft is skeptical… and so am I.

My guess is you have made it to here. But if you are literate, it’s probably been less than eight seconds.

According to an article written by Lizette Borrelli of Medical Daily, a study by Microsoft found that “people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds,” which is less than a goldfish’s attention span of nine seconds according to the New York Times.

Microsoft’s study involved the use of electroencephalograms to monitor brain activity while different experimental groups interacted with various forms of media. Brain activity sensors were hooked up to each participant, and their brain activity was mapped at the same time that each participant’s screen interaction activity was recorded. Results were shocking, especially compared to a similar study done in 2000 that concluded an average attention span of 12 seconds.

What’s worse is that researchers also noticed a distinct generational gap. Borelli reports, “77 percent of people aged 18 to 24 responded ‘yes’ when asked ‘When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone,’ compared with only 10 percent of those over age 65.”

I am going to teach you a very important equation that I learned from my mother at a young age: money equals power. How to obtain money? Knowledge. How to obtain knowledge? Attention.

According to the New York Times, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, agrees with this sentiment. “‘The true scarce commodity’ of the future,” Nadella said, “will be ‘human attention.’”

And if power is not what you seek, don’t worry, this article isn’t exclusive! Without focus, you probably won’t be able to find love and connection either. Why learn the ins and outs of another human when you can just swipe right?

It’s applicable to anything, really. Any skill set you wish to acquire is a lost cause without invested time. Haven’t you read “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell?

No. Of course you haven’t, you damn millennial.

It seems no one can resist the forbidden Apple. From Eve to the 21st century, we just can’t learn.

But anyway, since you have made it this far, I offer this token of knowledge: If you ever want to keep the attention of an empowered female like myself, you’d better last longer than eight seconds.

By Lily Spechler, The Vermont Cynic

Santa Claus and Other Relevant Myths

By Lily Spechler, The Cynic

It’s that time of year again: Christmas cheer
is in the air. However, it seems we’ve got some bad, bad hombres in this country and as a result we all might be getting coal in our stockings. Thankfully, though, this coal is … clean?

There are two myths I would like to debunk: since we’re living in the information age and all. First off, Santa is not real. Sorry, that was harsh, but its about time the truth comes out. Second, there is no such thing as clean coal.

According to National Geographic Magazine, coal was the largest contributor to the record amount of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere in 2012. Carbon dioxide, of course, is said to contribute to global climate change.

Clean coal is marginally less filthy coal. “Clean coal” is a band-aid, the crappy kind that doesn’t even really stick on in the shower. It is a very, very short term cover-up to a much larger problem that will only continue to grow if we do not address it.

I asked U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders vie e-mail what he thought about the idea of clean coal. Daniel McClean, a spokesman for Senator Sanders responded with this statement via e-mail:

“At a time when we should be aggressively transitioning away from fossil fuels toward sustainable energy, it does not make sense to waste millions of dollars on unproven technologies to try to keep coal alive.”

Are you starting to feel the Bern?

There are a few “clean coal” emerging technologies, such as “coal washing”, which removes some of the unwanted materials such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides before the coal is burned and carbon and other pollutants get released into the air as flue gas; Carbon is still being emitted during this process.

However, according to Kathleen Hartnett-White, this really shouldn’t be an issue. Harnett-White is the director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy foundation, and the potential future leader of the Environmental Protection Agency according to our President-elect. To say the least, she has a very creative spin on the whole “climate change” thing.

“Carbon dioxide has no adverse impact in the air we breath at all,” Hartnett-White said. “It’s a harmless trace gas that is actually an essential nutrient for plants.”

Interesting, considering that the EPA currently states on its website that excess carbon dioxide, which is released from the burning of fossil fuels, makes up for 81% of greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change.

Perhaps Harnett-White hasn’t done her research yet. Perhaps she should start by visiting the EPA’s website, where the current government consensus opinion on the impact of carbon emissions on the environment is stated and backed by scientific evidence. But that’s okay, she has plenty of time to brush up on the topic before she assumes her position.

Carbon capture and sequestration is another technology that claims “clean coal”. Proponents of CCS posit that carbon could be separated and captured during the burning process and stored in the earth instead of being released into the atmosphere.

To be fair, there is potential here, scientists have just begun to scratch the surface with this technology. However, according to Slate magazine, commercial CCS systems cost tens of billions of dollars, and won’t be practical for decades.

Furthermore, there is not enough research available currently to determine what the effects of pumping multitudes of carbon into the earth will be, but seismologists are skeptical, according to ThinkProgress, a progressive site.

Carbon is not even the only issue with coal. According to an article in Time Magazine, while the industry has “improved filters on coal plants” it still lives behind a growing toxic waste problem with pollutants like mercury and Sulfur dioxide.

But not to worry! At least Steve Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for chief strategist, will serve as the voice of reason. Oh, wait…

According to E&E news, an online media company that covers environmental and energy policy markets, Bannon said “… environmentalists are ‘greentards’ and ‘totally fu**ing wrong on climate change’”.

(“Greentards?” Really?)

Or perhaps we can turn to Reince Priebus, incoming White House chief of staff. Priebus, help us please!

Nope. Priebus told Fox News that climate change denial would be Trump’s “default position.” At least now we’ll have a really huge wall to bang our heads on. Gracias, señor Trump.

Anyway, for all you “greentards” drafting your Christmas holiday wish lists this year, please consider including “sanity” or perhaps “justice” somewhere very near the top. Happy holidays to all, and sorry about the whole Santa thing.