Zeke Smith Wants To Be Known As A Survivor Player, Not A Trans-Survivor Player

Never in my life have I been more committed to something like how I am committed to Survivor. I have seen all 34 seasons; I have favorite players, favorite challenges, and favorite episodes. I have even dreamed of competing on Survivor one day. However, through all of this, last Wednesday really caught me off guard.


Per usual, at the end of every episode, one tribe (team) is sent to tribal council where one player on the team is voted off by their tribe. Occasionally, tribal council gets heated–even more so this season because every contestent has played the game before and has been considered a “game changer”. So, a lot of loud personalities bouncing around.

                                             
This Wednesday was different though, more shocking than ever. In order to try and advance in the game, Jeff Varner outted Zeke Smith on national TV as transgender by saying to the tribe, “Zeke is deceiving you because what Zeke is not telling you is that Zeke is transgender”. 

Woah.


Zeke Smith has played two seasons and has been able to keep his sexuality private. Which is exactly what it should be: private. The fact that Zeke Smith is transgender and chose to keep it private has no indication of how Zeke plays his game. 

Though stunned, Zeke handled it very well. It did not go over well with the tribe, and the unanimously voted out Varner, Zeke handled himself with poise. He simply didn’t want to be known as the transgender survivor player. 

Jeff Varner took a lot away from Zeke Smith that day. Most likely without realizing, Varner not only outted Zeke to the tribe but also the millions of viewers.

Now, that was filmed months ago. Today, after the episode aired, Zeke has moved forward and forgives Varner. 

                         
Awh.  

I Like Murder (Podcasts)

Hi, my name is Allison, I like burgers, long walks on the beach, and murder. 
Wait, what!?

Yes, that’s right, I find the topic of murder to be exciting… in the most respectful way. I never knew how interested I was in this topic until I started listening to podcasts–Serial and My favorite murder to be exact.

I always found myself wanting to know every detail of that murder I saw on the news that night but I was just curious–passionately curious. 

                         
I started listening to Serial on my grueling 18 hour drive back to Washington from Southern California. This podcast, hosted by Sarah Koeing, discusses in depth a murder that occurs back in 1999. Koeing reopens the line of conversation for the murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school senior, by sorting through thousands of court documents, talking to everyone she could find that was in the friend group or involved in the disappearance and murder of Min Lee. Koeing discovered that the trial for this murder covered up a far more complex story which ended up convicting a possibly innocent ex-boyfriend of the victim, Adnan Syed. 
Serial is all about answers, but in the end leaves it up to the listener to determine the innocence or guilt of Adnan Syed. However, Serial led to the order of a new trial for Syed in 2016. 
                                       
After finishing Serial, I found myself listening to My Favorite Murder, and yes, it is exactly how it sounds. This podcast has two hosts, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, who bounce off each other in a discussion of their favorite murders weekly. Every week they have a category, such as murder with a strange object. Then they proceed to share the sometimes graphic stories.
                                                                         
I think my curiosity stems from the unknown. 
I always wonder when someone thinks or acts a certain way that seems unimaginable to me, why would someone act that way? In My Favorite Murder, the hosts always try to determine a motive. 
Some like reality shows about housewives, I like podcasts about murder. 

Coming Back Stronger Than Ever


So, you’re probably reading this because something has happened in your life (recently) that has changed your life forever.

You failed your entry test for your program, you lost a loved one, you are going through a breakup, depression/anxiety has hit you like a ton of bricks, or that certain something is keeping you awake at night… you have a traumatic situation you are facing–head on. 
But remember, you are not alone and you are a warrior.

I struggled with this for a long time after I lost my mom. I swear I could almost feel this world stop rotating and I was willing to let it do just that. I definitely did not feel like a warrior; shit, I hardly felt like a human being. 

To this extent, I had never felt anything like this but when I tried to explain it to people, I would relate it to a bad breakup. That feeling you get in your chest, how a person feels literally engraved in you DNA and your brain. You let the tragedy become you. 

Don’t get my words twisted though: grieving is different for everyone and depression can come in all different sizes and forms. I personally just have faith in these steps that helped me bounce back to become a better me. 

Ask for help.

Of course admitting to needing help can feel like you’re taking a loss. It is in fact the exact opposite. Being able to ask for help from a friend, family member, or even a counselor shows that you not only know your body but you’re also not afraid to say “hey, my brain and well-being need some TLC right now”.

Don’t Push Yourself. 

You will get back to a routine eventually, but for now, stay in bed if you want to. Skip class and go get that much needed fresh air. You aren’t going to be 100% for a little while, so celebrate the small victories. You may have not gone to all your classes, the gym, or even the library; however, you made it to the grocery store to get food for dinner. Go you!

Not Everyone Will Understand.

People in your life that love you so dearly may not know how to react to your situation. They don’t love you any less and they aren’t annoyed. Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t understand something and it makes you uncomfortable? That’s all it is. What leads me to my next helpful tip…

Identify What You Need.

I found myself more emotional than ever…and for good reason. I let my emotions seep into certain aspects of my life that would have otherwise been fine aside from my current situation. For example, I couldn’t stop causing arguments. In those moments, I had to identify what exactly I needed and what I was looking for out of the argument. Most of the time, I didn’t even want to be involved in an argument i just wanted comfort or sympathy… whatever, i’m a Cancer.

Make Sure You Are Eating… A LOT!

This one is pretty self-explanatory. When going through something traumatic, your body goes into shock (for far longer than just a day). Fuel it with all the yummy stuff you need to keep your body healthy and intact! 

Ride Each Wave As It Comes.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STEP BACKWARDS–I want to scream that at the top of my lungs. This life is in a forward motion, therefore, steps backwards are nonexistent. I like to look at every day, every emotion, every moment (good or bad), as a wave. You could have a great day on Tuesday, but Wednesday could be a real kick in the ass. This does not mean you took steps backwards, it simply means you had a bad day. You are still moving forward. 

Don’t Be So Damn Hard On Yourself.

You are so worthy and so great. Like I said before, you are a warrior. Warriors don’t always win, but they always fight.

So Cute That You Forget It Can Ruin Your Life

                                                                     
I’ve grown up in a world where my parents expect me to know how to fix every technological issue they may be having and where new or improved technology is being put out every single day. In most cases, these technological advances are way ahead of their time. In order for these advances to be successful, there needs to be trust—trust in the company, the brand, the investment, and yes, even the government.

                                                                             
Whether you’re a George Orwell fan or you have always been slightly apprehensive about technology, chances are you have heard the saying ‘Big Brother is watching’; meaning the government is watching your every move and I suggest that they are able to do this through technology.


Mike Beebe, CEO of Mayfield Robotics, has created a robot that acts as a companion and a home security device that is set to be released at the end of 2017. Beebe has given this robot not only a name (Kuri) but also a personality in which it is easy to love and trust. At first meet, Kuri will roam around your house memorizing the layout and design. The camera located in both eyes records videos and sends them to an application on your phone, allowing you to watch these videos when you are away. Kuri will learn to detect your face and tone to better allow her to understand your needs. She also will learn when things are out of place and will alert you of so.


Wow.

To some, Kuri may seem like a life saver or even an extra set of hands (though she doesn’t actually have arms). To others, like myself, Kuri just sounds like one big red flag. 

I am all for technological advances; however, with a simple software malfunction or a slip up in programming, we could have a disaster. Imagine how horrifying it would be to find out that the software has in fact been hacked and now someone on the other side of the world (or your neighbor) now has access to you house blue prints, knowns when you leave and come home for work, knows where you keep your valuables, how many kids you have, and has visual access to your most vulnerable moments.

                                                                    
Maybe I am just paranoid. After all, I don’t have my credit card numbers saved to Apple Pay or on Google for this specific reason. I would rather take the 60 seconds to re-enter my credit card information every time I make a purchase than risk my credit card information being stolen. Hacking is alive and well today. If Sony, number 10 largest information technology company, can get hacked, so can a fairly new Vegas based robotic company.

 

EburgSpeaks: Awareness For Some, Reality For Others

“Nothing is wrong with me” my mom would say; though, I knew she was suffering. I watched my mom battle undiagnosed multiple personality disorder and depression for years. I say undiagnosed because she never went to the doctor.. she was always fine.

Until one day she wasn’t.

On the evening of August 13, 2016, I lost my mother to a mental illness. To this day I have so many questions. Why didn’t she talk to me? Was she scared? What could I have done differently? The only answer I’ll ever get is that she was sick. My mother was in an unimaginable amount of pain; a pain that I never want anyone else to feel.

It all starts with campaigns such as EburgSpeaks.

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Two weeks ago there was an announcement made in my class. Hearing this announcement sent chills down my back. Though 450 million people suffer from a diagnosed mental illness, society still considers it to be a taboo to talk about. It should not be considered taboo to talk about. While some mental illnesses can be effectively treated, at relatively low cost, the starting point towards recovery is talking. For Mental Health Awareness Week a campaign was launched called ‘Eburg Speaks’ to change the way we talk about mental health. Every day throughout the week there was an event held on campus that would help raise awareness for mental health throughout the community.

An event that I attended was all about what made you feel good. Students were able to come up to a board and write what they did to take care of themselves. The board was full of words like; ‘laughter’, ‘smiling’ and ‘friendships’. That had me walk away with a genuinely good feeling.

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My mothers biggest demon was feeling alone. Though she was surrounded by family, friends, love, and support, my mother still felt alone. It was her depression that made her feel alone. I can’t help but think; what if my mom had been apart of a campaign like EburgSpeaks while in college? Would knowing that she wasn’t the only one feeling the way she did feel give her the encouragement to get the help she needed? If one person struggling with a mental illness saw this campaign going on around campus and it made them feel less “crazy”, it would all be worth it.

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There is a huge generation gap between me and my mother. She comes from a generation that doesn’t allow talking about one’s feelings; whereas, my generation is an open book. Millennials have been taught to embrace everyone’s differences and whether they be your highest attributes or your deepest demons. Let’s use it to our advantage and keep the conversation of mental health going.

Why Your Local Community Food Bank Need More Than Just Food

                                                                      
In a town where the average household income is nearly half of what the U.S. average household income is and the poverty level is pushing 40%, resources such as community food banks can be a huge help.

Now, what if you were told that the town I was just referencing was a town that you called home? 

As a town, Ellensburg has struggled for at least two years to meet the U.S. average household income by almost 50%. This number is alarming. But have no fear, FISH Community Food Bank is here to make sure that everyone in our community goes to sleep with a full and content stomach. 

FISH Community Food Bank has had many food drives over the years where they have received generous amounts of food from local residents. On almost a daily basis, FISH Community Food Bank receives food donations in addition to the food supplied by federal programs through the USDA. However, FISH Community Food Bank needs more than just food donations in order to stay open and running–they need money.

The money that is donated can go farther than what you would be able to at a grocery store. I say this because food banks order and buy in bulk; with the nonprofit discount they receive in this process, they are able to make a dollar spread. This cash donation is also used to buy the perishable items that you cannot donates such as milk, fruits, and vegetables. Without this money, it is nearly impossible for food banks to provide a healthy meal.

Let us not forget that FISH Community Food Bank, and all other food banks, are a business and run like one. Heating, gas, electrical all need to be paid for by the end of the month. 

So, can the food drives and donate money instead

Airbnb Providing a Safe Haven for Those Affected by Muslim Ban

In a time of true chaos and fear, there are companies in the United States that are desperately trying to show that we are not divided. Airbnb, a company where you can list and rent houses, condos, and apartments for a short period of time. CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, expressed his concern for the recent “Muslim ban” by “[providing] free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stayed tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing” through Airbnb. 

                                              
The “Muslim ban” includes a 90 day period where refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries are banned from entering (and returning) to the United States. Families are now being separated, doctors are not allowed to come back home after a business trip, and most left with no place to go. That is what makes Airbnb so great. Brain Chesky is making an awful experience a little less awful.

                                           
It has been less than two weeks since Donald Trump took office… and it seems more unreal than ever. In the past twelve days, we have seen trump do surprising and not-so-surprising things. His first Twitter rant since being elected was directed towards the press and the supposed “false” claims that the crowd size at his inauguration was about half the size of former President Obama inauguration. This wasn’t so surprising.

In a promise to “make America great again”, may we remember why America was so great in the first place. People from all walks of life, coming together, to live united and free.

With all of the uncertainty of where this country is going, it is almost calming to know that there are big companies in the United States that believe in moving forward and taking a stand for what is right.