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A Weekend in the Cornfield (Reflections on Elsinore and Pygmalion)

Wed, 2014-10-08 11:59
Last weekend, I was able to spend a few of the last warm nights of the year at the Pygmalion Festival in Champaign-Urbana. Though I was only present for the Friday and Saturday events, I did get to see many of the larger acts as well as take in the MADE Fest, a craft fair that takes place just outside the festival grounds. The event itself boasted the usual smattering of national acts (in this case CHVRCHES and Panda Bear) supplemented by smaller, local, and regional bands such as Miniature Tigers, Twin Peaks (with whom I also sat down) and of course Elsinore. I sat down with the band (consisting of Ryan Groff- guitar/vocals, Mark Woolwine- piano/vocals, James Treicher- drums, and Brad Threlkeld- bass guitar) at Café Kopi on Walnut Street in Champaign.

Zach Ezer: A good place to start would be the music scene here [in Champaign-Urbana] and your place in it.
Elsinore: We were sort of inserted into the scene by some friends before we moved here. Mark and I, and the original drummer and bass player were in music school at the Eastern Illinois University... and we got that assist from some buddies in the scene...

ZE: Anyone you want to name check?
E: Larry Gates, goes under Curb Service, paved the way for bands like us at the time in the scene, and it's taken off from there, now we've been together ten years.

ZE: What project did you [speaking to the non-original members] come in on?
E: It was [latest album] PUSH/PULL.

ZE: And how did that end up happening?
E: The story is that like five days before we were to go to the studio... and we had a producer coming in from Portland, Beau Sorenson, who had just finished working with Death Cab [for Cutie] on their latest record, and the original drummer and bass player [quit].... But it was great timing because James and Brad were able to come in... and it was at the prefect time, because we couldn't have started any later... and they were the only two guys we even wanted to join the band, and luckily they said yes.

ZE: The album that almost didn't happen then? So what was it like working with Beau Sorenson?
E: It was great, and the coolest part was that he found us. A friend in Chicago sent him our first record Yes Yes Yes... And six months later I got a random email saying he loved the record and wanted to work with us... and the best thing was that he compared hearing our first record to hearing the first Bon Iver record, the happiness he felt listening to our songs reminded him of that, and it was a great feeling... He's a super down to Earth guy and when we told him half the band had quit, he was still like "Okay, ask those guys and we'll make a great record, and if they say no, we'll make a great record..."

ZE: The story of the record gets deeper. So how long have you guys been playing Pygmalion?
E: All ten years. Right after we formed as a band was when it started and we got plugged right into the scene.

ZE: How has it changed since you started?
E: It's gotten bigger... CHVRCHES was huge. Mates of State was the big band the first year. There's more venues, the MADE fest is newer, and it's been outdoors for only about four years... I like that I don't recognize half the band on the bill. It exposes us all to new music from across the industry.

ZE: Anything on the horizon?
E: ...We've become a bit more of a studio-based band. We're really deciding what we love about music as much as we are bashing on our instruments. Our next record we plan to take in some interesting directions... We've basically hibernated for the winter, the record came out in October, we went on tour, and now we have a healthy list of songs and we need to go in on those, get some of the new ones down and... we need to continue to build our pile. It turned into the hibernation that blossomed into a new record. We'll still be touring, but we won't just be going because it's time again. It feels good to be making music right now.

ZE: So, record coming out anytime soon?
E: It's hard to say. We're going to hibernate on it for the winter, it could be super soon or we could see what happens in the spring. But probably sooner than later.

ZE: Okay, new topic if there is someone you haven't worked with that you want to?
E: [The band gave a series of answers, including Kanye West, Nigel Godrich and Brian Eno but the most unanimous was John Congleton] What he can get out of her [St. Vincent] was amazing. We played with Murder by Death and hearing the transformation between their amazing live show and the record which was this other beautiful thing. And now that we've worked with Beau, we feel like John Congleton is very, very possible.

ZE: Okay, last question If all the oxygen in the Earth turned to wood, what would you do?
E: (Without missing a beat) Sharpen my teeth.

The band, at least to me, was a perfect representation of the festival. Neither were huge, but both were happy where they were and growing steadily. I'd also like to take the time to thank the festival who treated me with nothing short of absolute respect. You can check out Elsinore at http://www.elsinoremusic.net/ and their latest Beau Sorenson-Produced record is available on iTunes.

Law Schools With The Best Professors, According To Princeton Review's 2014-15 Ranking

Wed, 2014-10-08 10:53
Duke University School of Law students have a reason to celebrate being at the fifth hardest school to get into: They are being taught by the best professors, according to the Princeton Review's newest ranking, released Tuesday.

With a 10:1 student-faculty ratio, the North Carolina school leads 94 percent of graduates able to pass the bar exam on their first attempt.

Other major law schools, like Boston University, Stanford University and the University of Chicago, make up the top ten best professors list, but smaller schools like Regent University and the University of St. Thomas also made the cut.

Regent in among three Virginia schools ranked to have the best professors, being joined by the University of Virginia and Washington & Lee University.

Check out the top 10 below:

Michelle Obama Hits Midwestern States To Rally Young Voters, Women And Minorities

Wed, 2014-10-08 10:25
CHICAGO (AP) -- First lady Michelle Obama made a pair of stops Tuesday in the upper Midwest for gubernatorial candidates locked in close contests in Wisconsin and Illinois, encouraging early voting, particularly among young voters, women and minorities.

She spent the first half of Tuesday near the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison to rally young voters for Mary Burke, who's challenging Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Later she stopped in Chicago after attending a small $10,000-a-person fundraiser for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and played to the hometown crowd before the thousands at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Obama is making a flurry of campaign appearances on behalf of Democratic candidates and said she returned to Wisconsin just eight days after another rally for Burke in Milwaukee because she wanted to tailor her message to young voters. Obama said they should vote for Burke because she will fight to make college more affordable, raise the minimum wage, ensure women receive equal pay to men, and protect abortion rights.

"If women and minorities and young people show up, Mary wins," Obama said to applause from the crowd of about 1,100. "She wins."

Burke is locked in a tight race with Walker, a potential 2016 Republican candidate for president.

In Illinois, the first lady recounted her husband's campaigns for the Illinois state Senate and U.S. Senate. She said she'd cast her ballot for Quinn, in part because of his record for families. She noted efforts to raise the minimum wage, immigration reform and withholding his own paycheck while lawmakers worked on a pension overhaul. Illinois has the worst-funded pension systems of any state nationwide; A law Quinn signed faces court challenges.

The Chicago Democrat is locked into a tight re-election contest with Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist making a first run for public office. It's one of the most expensive governor's races in the nation. The first lady's visit follows President Barack Obama's visit last week to stump and fundraiser for Quinn with a $50,000-a-person event.

The first lady spoke after a slew of top Illinois Democrats addressed the crowd of more than 5,000 people, including U.S. Sen Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat who's facing a challenge from state Sen. Jim Oberweis.

"This is personal for me. This city, this state, this is my home," Michelle Obama said. "Pat Quinn has Barack's back and now it's time for us to have Pat's back."

Obama has set aside her well-known dislike of politics to campaign at least two days a week for Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates. She attended a Boston rally for gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley last week and will be in Michigan later this month to help Senate candidate Gary Peters and gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer.

Democrats have been seeking her help, even as they avoid appearances with her husband, whose job approval rating has sunk to the low 40s. But the first lady is viewed positively by 62 percent of the public, according to the most recent Pew Research Center survey.

---

Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and Sophia Tareen at http://twitter.com/sophiatareen .

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Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin.

Chicago Public Schools Under Fire Over Dirty Conditions, Rotten Food

Wed, 2014-10-08 10:15
CHICAGO -- The new school year is off to a messy start in Chicago, the nation's third-largest school district.

Michael Flynn, who has taught sixth grade at Otis Elementary in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood since 1977, said he’s never seen his school dirtier. A whole floor went untouched overnight recently, leaving surfaces unswept and heaps of garbage in classrooms.

"It's a germ factory,” Flynn told HuffPost. "And it's as bad now as it's ever been in terms of kids not getting what they need.”

The Chicago Public School system has faced notorious budget cuts in recent years, and closed 49 schools in 2013. Recent money-saving moves to privatize management of custodial and cafeteria services have drawn the ire of parents and faculty, who have alleged schools are dirtier -- and school lunches are worse -- than ever.

A teacher at a high school on the city's Southwest Side, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal from the district, described where he's taught for the past eight years as "gross and disgusting."

"We're running out of toilet paper," he said. "I'm seeing more bugs than ever before. There's overflowing trash that sits for days and weeks in some cases."

The teacher said his classroom has had a leaky ceiling that's gone unfixed for two years, and roaches were recently spotted in a student locker room, causing students to avoid using the showers after phys ed class.

"It's gross and disgusting and my health is being affected," he said. "I want to be outside the minute I'm in here. It smells. Everything smells and I can't focus. If I can't focus to teach, how can kids focus to learn?"

The complaints follow the school district's hiring of Philadelphia-based Aramark in February to supervise and train school custodians. Aramark in the spring pulled many custodians from their longtime schools and assigned them to a floating pool of janitors. This led to fewer permanent custodians in schools, and talk of layoffs.

CPS chief administrative officer Tim Cawley introduced the Aramark custodial contract by telling school principals, who were previously responsible for managing custodians, that service under Aramark would be "like Jimmy John's," with fast responses. Aramark, Cawley said, would make schools cleaner at a lower cost.

But the new management system has left many Chicago schools markedly messier. Some people have taken to using the Twitter hashtag #CPSfilth to document the conditions, including this shot purportedly taken inside a school restroom:

#CPSFilth pic.twitter.com/vY31RlUT3v

— drkugler (@drkugler) October 2, 2014


A teacher at an elementary school in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood, who asked to remain anonymous because she feared punishment, said her school has gone weeks without soap in student restrooms, causing teachers to buy some with their own money. The teacher said she bought toilet paper for her students to use. As classroom trash piles up, flies and gnats have become common, she said.

Several recent surveys corroborate these conditions. A survey of about 230 CPS principals and administrators conducted by AAPLE, an arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, found that dirty schools have become common this year. Another survey, conducted by the parent activist group Raise Your Hand CPS. found concerns with school cleanliness. And a Chicago Teachers Union survey conducted in June reports that maintenance problems were surfacing in the spring.

The messy conditions attracted criticism from the Chicago Board of Education at last month's meeting, held on Sept. 24. Less than a week later, Aramark, CPS and Service Employees International Union Local 1, which represents the district's privately employed custodians, announced changes to planned layoffs of custodians. Instead of firing 468 CPS janitors at the end of September, the district will lay off 290 at the end of October.

A photo taken inside a Southwest Side high school this spring, after the Aramark contract went into effect.

Karen Cutler, an Aramark spokeswoman, told HuffPost in a statement that the company was doing everything in its power to maintain quality. "CPS, Aramark and SEIU Local 1 continue to work closely to make sure all CPS schools have appropriate custodial staffing levels to ensure clean schools," Cutler said. She added that the company has brought in additional managers at its own expense to help train CPS custodians to use new equipment she touted as "more efficient" and "environmentally friendly."

Aramark's three-year, $260 million contract will save the cash-strapped district $40 million to $54 million over its life, school officials have said. (SodexoMAGIC, a private company that's 51 percent owned by former basketball star Magic Johnson, has an $80 million contract to oversee custodial services at 33 of the district's 522 schools as part of a pilot program outsourcing all maintenance.)

Aramark had already been working with the school district. The company signed a $97 million-a-year contract for food service in 2013. The district said the deal can be renewed three times and will save taxpayers $12 million annually.

Many teachers, quick to point out they blame neither the custodians nor the principals for the filth, say conditions aren't getting better. They're also turning attention to Aramark-managed school lunches.

A teacher at a South Side elementary school, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her job, told HuffPost her students have been fed "disgusting" meals under Aramark. She claimed the children were repeatedly served rotten apples last spring and were given moldy bread last month. She also said the cafeteria served spoiled broccoli that was eaten by some students before workers discovered it.



The teacher said that like at most Chicago schools, 90 percent of the students at her school come from low-income homes, so the food they are served at school is a main source of nutrition for them.

"I'm so nervous these kids will get sick," she said. "It breaks my heart because these are kids at our school that in general we know are going home and not getting food at home. They're getting kind of junk for a meal."

Others HuffPost interviewed for this article had no complaints about school food service. Some lauded Aramark for upgrading some schools with "warming" kitchens for pre-packaged frozen foods, to "cooking" kitchens that allow preparation of healthier and better-tasting meals.

Aramark was criticized earlier this year when a WBEZ reporter, inquiring about the ingredients of cafeteria chicken nuggets, was told the lone ingredient was "chicken nuggets."

The company also has been faulted for its ties to the school district. Leslie Fowler, the district's head of nutritional support services, worked at Aramark before she was hired by the school district -- a connection that prompted allegations from a competing company that she had played an inappropriate role in the bid process. The school district's new communications chief, Ron Iori, hired in June, also previously worked for Aramark.

CPS did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Other school districts also have reportedly had trouble with Aramark. The Philadelphia School District resumed operating its cafeterias two years into its contract with Aramark in 2007 because it was dissatisfied. The Houston Independent School District considered terminating its agreement with Aramark in 2011, but ultimately renewed its contract.

The Chicago Tribune reports that at the Sept. 24 school board meeting, Cawley took responsibility for Aramark’s new role, but maintained that the "vast, vast majority" of Chicago schools are as clean or cleaner than ever.

Tom Balanoff, SEIU Local 1 president, told HuffPost he believed the reduced layoffs and Aramark technological changes will help custodians "be able to maintain the level of cleanliness" needed. If more issues arise, he said he would hope CPS will rehire more custodians.

"They're going through the motions," said Jennie Biggs, a parent of three CPS students. Last month, she told the Board of Education a student vomited on a classroom rug on a Friday afternoon and the mess remained uncleaned the following Monday. "It's disturbing that people in the school are actually taking appropriate steps to try and get someone to address it, and they're being ignored," she said.

Chiraq, Drillinois: Guns, Murder, Music, and Understanding

Wed, 2014-10-08 10:02
In 1956, Johnny Cash released his classic song "Folsom Prison Blues" in which he stated, "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die." For those of you familiar with this song, ask yourself, "Have I ever felt like killing someone after listening to this?" The obvious answer, of course, is no. Yet, there seems to be a double standard when it comes to hip hop and its new found sub-genre, drill music.



Drill music was founded in the early 2000s by rapper, Pacman, from Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood of Dro City. For the most part, it could be considered gangsta rap 2.0 due to its strong subject matter on gangs, guns and drugs. In recent years, the highly aggressive lyrics in drill music have been the cause of great debate over whether or not they're influencing the violence plaguing Chicago. It's gotten to the point where some of the sub-genres biggest stars like Lil Durk, have been banned from preforming in the city. Some music fans -- even hip hop fans -- dismiss drill music as not worth listening to. However, with a little understanding of its origins, it soon becomes obvious that drill music is not influencing the violence in Chicago. It's actually helping to reduce it.

I like to consider myself a very aware and socially conscious person as far as my thoughts and views on life and society are concerned. Most people who know me would likely say the same. The views that I hold are pretty progressive and they reflect in my day-to-day being. From the type of movies that I watch to the type of music that I listen to, everything I do more or less falls in line with my beliefs. But there is a yin and a yang to us all and I'm no exception, especially when it comes to music. Personally, I love hip hop. Most days if you catch me with my headphones on I'll be listening to rappers like Lupe Fiasco, whose lyrics generally carry a message of positivity, motivation and societal awareness. For example...

One in the air for the people that ain't here
Two in the air for the father that's there
Three in the air for the kids in the ghetto
Four for the kids who don't wanna be there
None for the ni**as trying to hold them back
Five in the air for the teacher not scared to tell those kids that's living in the ghetto, that the ni**as holdin' back, that the World is theirs!
Yeah, yeah the World is yours, I was once that little boy
Terrified of the World
Now I'm on a World tour

-Lupe Fiasco "The Show Goes On"

But from time to time depending on my mood or what's happening in the day, you'll catch me listening to the violent, gun-toting lyrics of drill music that go a little something like this...

I'm big boss Fredo, what's up with all of these f**k ni**as
Trap house full of crack, them pillow cases stuffed, ni**a
I don't f**k with f**k ni**as, f**k with me, you get trunked, ni**a

-Fredo Santana "Wassup"


Given my ideals and laid-back demeanor, most people I know are surprised when they catch me listing to drill music. Not too long ago, I found myself defending my position on drill music when I was approached with the question of, "Why do you listen to that garbage?"

First off, it's not garbage. Unfortunately, this is the conclusion most people come to when confronted with something they can't understand or relate to. Being that I grew up in Chicago, I understand the plight of a young man surviving the inner city all to well. When listening to drill music, I hear stories of struggle and courage. I hear the voices of men doing whatever they have to in order to put food on the table for their families. Within the music, I personally see my friends and family who have fallen victim to the harsh streets of Chicago. What may sound like songs of random violence to you are true stories to me.

If you were to take a look at a timeline of events in the Chicago, you'd see that drill music came to fruition as the city began its aggressive redevelopment of public housing. It was an initiative called The Plan for Transformation. In a nutshell, the "plan" was to completely demolish all of the project housings in Chicago and replace them with remodeled updated apartments. However, in doing so, tens of thousands of Chicago's poor residents were displaced and forced to move into other nearby, crowded and impoverished neighborhoods. When this happened, rival gangs became closer to one another. Sub-gangs also began forming within existing gangs, creating infighting. For years, this problem continued to go unrecognized and unchecked.

In 2012, Chicago took the national stage due to its unprecedented level of gun violence. By the end of that year, Chicago officially became murder capital of the United States. According to FBI statistics, Chicago recorded 500 homicides in 2012, beating out cities like Los Angeles with 299 homicides and New York City with 419 homicides. Even more alarming were the headlines on sites like Fox News, reporting that more people were killed in Chicago then coalition forces in Afghanistan! Amidst the violence, Chicago would end up adopting the nickname "Chiraq," popularized in the hip hop community. Ironically, this was also the same year that drill music took the national stage as well. It reached its first taste of commercial success with Chief Keef 's smash hit "Don't Like," produced by Young Chop. With drill music's explosion of popularity, it quickly became the scapegoat for the violence happening in Chicago. And to be quite honest, the attack on drill music was to be expected as these claims are nothing new to hip hop as a whole.

Hip hop and its supposed influence on inner city violence is an age-old discussion that dates as far back as to the days of NWA. Yet, it's a flawed point of view that couldn't be further from the truth. Hip Hop in and of itself is a byproduct of poverty-stricken inner city neighborhoods. Gangs, drugs and violence were already prevalent in these neighborhoods long before hip hop existed. Drill artist, Katie Got Bandz, expressed these same sentiments when questioned by Ebony magazine on drill music's influence on Chicago...


Before drill music people already had their beef and wars going on. It's just everybody is rapping now, so people think if they make a dis' record, they'll get noticed fast and they're putting it on beats instead of leaving it in the streets. Rapping don't have nothing to do with what's going on in Chicago. This has been going on in Chicago before Chicago got noticed.
-Katie Got Bandz

I live in Los Angeles now, but I'm proud of being able to say that I'm from Chicago. What does sadden me is how the violence is currently taking away its beauty. Being the optimist that I am, I feel that drill music can restore some of that beauty through its success in the mainstream. This year, the hip hop magazine XXL released its coveted Freshmen Class edition in which four Chicago hip hop artists graced the cover -- Lil Durk, Chance the Rapper, Lil Bibby and Vic Mensa. The success of these four artists speaks volumes to the youth of Chicago. Not too long ago, these same rappers were walking the city's streets surviving day-to-day. It's this relatability factor that motivates Chicago's youth to put down the gun and pick up the mic.

Last week, CBS Chicago reported that so far this year the number of murders being recorded is at its lowest in nearly 50 years. It's no coincidence to me that since the popularity of drill music has taken off, homicides have gone down. This isn't to say that rapping is the only way to stop the violence in Chicago, but it can help. It's in chasing a dream that you ultimately find your life's purpose. And a sense of purpose is what's lacking amongst the youth in Chicago at the moment. If drill music is what's helping provide that, then I will support it all the way.

U.S. Orders Agents To Monitor Travelers For Ebola

Wed, 2014-10-08 09:44

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government will begin taking the temperatures of travelers from West Africa arriving at five U.S. airports as part of a stepped-up response to the Ebola epidemic.


President Barack Obama said the new efforts would provide yet another tier of protection at key U.S. points of entry.


"These measures are really just belt-and-suspenders -- it's an added layer of protection on top of the procedures already in place at several airports," Obama told state and local officials in a teleconference call Wednesday.


However, the focus is still on stopping the epidemic in West Africa, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Frieden, said in Atlanta.


"As long as Ebola continues to spread in Africa, we can't make the risk zero, here," he said.


At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said the additional layer of screening would begin at New York's JFK International and the international airports in Newark, Washington Dulles, Chicago and Atlanta. He said the new steps would include taking temperatures and would begin Saturday at JFK.


Frieden said temperatures would be taken with a device that would avoid direct contact with the travelers.


Obama said the new measures also will include more screening questions for passengers arriving from the countries worst hit by the outbreak — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. He says the procedures will allow United States officials to isolate, evaluate and monitor travelers and collect any information about their contacts.


Earnest said the five airports cover the destinations of 94 percent of the people who travel to the U.S. from the three heavily hit countries in West Africa — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. He estimated that about 150 people would be checked a day under the new procedures.


A Liberian man who had come to the U.S. with Ebola died Wednesday. Forty-two-year-old Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed in the U.S. with the disease, had come to Dallas in late September but did not display obvious signs of having Ebola when he entered the U.S.


Also on Wednesday, Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Customs and Border Protection agents are handing out information sheets to travelers with details of what symptoms to look for and directions to call doctors if they become sick within 21 days — the incubation period for Ebola.


Homeland Security agents at airports and other ports of entry already had begun observing travelers coming into the United States for potential signs of Ebola infection.


The fact sheet to be given to arriving travelers says: "You were given this card because you arrived to the United States from a country with Ebola." It tells passengers to "please watch your health for the next 21 days" and to "take your temperature every morning and evening, and watch for symptoms of Ebola," which are listed on the sheet.


Mayorkas said agents would observe all travelers for "general signs of illness" at the points of entry. He spoke at an airport security conference.


The White House, in a fact sheet this week, generally described Customs and Border Protection practices of being alert to passengers with obvious illnesses, but did not specify exactly what would be done to find potentially infected passengers.


The Obama administration has wrestled in recent weeks with what it can do, since arriving passengers may not be symptomatic when they arrive.


Mayorkas said the department was aware of those issues and is "taking a layered approach."


Ebola has killed more than 3,400 people in West Africa and infected at least twice that many, according to the World Health Organization. The virus has taken an especially devastating toll on health care workers, sickening or killing more than 370 of them in the hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — places that already were short on doctors and nurses before Ebola.


President Barack Obama has said the U.S. will be "working on protocols to do additional passenger screening both at the source and here in the United States." Extra screening measures are in effect at airports in the outbreak zones. Departing passengers are screened for fever and asked if they have had contact with anyone infected with the disease.

Gorgeous Loft From 'High Fidelity' Hits Chicago Market For $1.195 Million

Tue, 2014-10-07 17:29
A prime piece of Chicago real estate made famous by the rom-com classic "High Fidelity" hit the market Friday for $1.195 million.

The Bodine Building loft at 2250 W. Ohio St. was the setting for one of the film's most memorable scenes, in which John Cusack's character Rob Gordon tracks down an ex-flame in search of closure years after their breakup. The main level of the 4,000-square foot loft is heavily featured when Rob is invited to an impossibly hip dinner party only to realize that his former love Charlie, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, is pretty much a terrible person.

Though Charlie may have been truly awful, there's no denying Rob's cosmopolitan ex had some seriously cool digs. According to the listing by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the three-bedroom duplex, built in 1945, has a high-end kitchen, a 500-square foot deck and an enviable amount of natural light.

Other than the newer kitchen appliances, much of the space has stayed the same since "High Fidelity" was filmed there in 1999; as Curbed notes, the finishes seen in various listing photos still match up with the scene in the film.

"The pics say everything," listing agent Joe Gasbarra told The Huffington Post. Gasbarra noted that the duplex is larger than several of the building's other units that have hit the market, including one listed by Groupon founder Andrew Mason in May.

Is the Domino's Pizza Tracker Real?

Tue, 2014-10-07 14:53


The tracker is legit -- but only as legit as the people in the store let it be. The fact is, there are a lot of factors that happen in a store that the tracker can't always account for, and so your mileage may vary with the online tracker for those reasons.



The Dream

As others have already mentioned, there's a narrative to the tracker that the store supposedly follows: You place your order online. That order arrives at the store. The labels print out and are put on boxes. And the order itself appears on a screen at the make-line.



The person on the make-line assembles your food items and indicates that the order has been made. The tracker updates and tells you that your order is now in the oven. After a set period of time -- somewhere around 7 minutes, give or take -- the order should be out of the oven and in the process of being boxed. (Note: There is no button for employees to push to say that an order has come out of the oven; this is an automatically timed event on the tracker.)



Once your items are out of the oven and boxed, your delivery driver packs them in the hot-bag, gathers up any other items you may have ordered (sodas, sauces, chips, etc.), and "punches out" the order to say that, why yes, it is out for delivery. Once again, the tracker updates to let you know that your order is on its way.



Once the order is delivered and the driver returns, the driver signs back in to indicate that his run is complete. The tracker then updates for the final time -- though, you should already know that the order's been completed based on the pizza in your hands.



The Reality

Now, all that said, there are some factors that can affect your Tracker experience. Because delivery drivers can "game the system," so to speak.



By Domino's policies, for example, no driver is supposed to take more than two or three deliveries at a time (as memory serves). Corporate policy is very emphatic about that. Even though we don't do the "30 minutes or it's free" rule anymore, we do still strive to have every order delivered within 30 minutes or less to ensure customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, that 30 minute rule was only really made for stores with smaller delivery radii and enough drivers to consistently handle the amount of business received in a given day.



I worked at a store in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood that delivered to roughly half the city of Pittsburgh -- including every college campus, nearly every major hospital, the Strip District, and the Homewood/Lincoln-Larimer/East Hills neighborhoods. That's a huge radius to cover, and even with an average of at least eight to 10 drivers per night, we didn't have the ability to do our deliveries entirely by the book. Especially not if any given driver wanted to make a decent living that night. To compensate, most drivers would try to take between four and six deliveries at a time based, depending on the area to which they were delivering.



Under those circumstances, we usually aimed for about a 45 minutes delivery time. And that's what we told people when they ordered -- somewhere between 30-45 minutes for your order. People were usually perfectly happy with this -- unless, of course, things took longer. But the tracker and the Pulse software used in-store aren't set up to account for these individual store practices. Rather, they're keyed into corporate standards.



In other words, each store is eventually evaluated on these widespread, not always applicable standards. Each order that's placed has a timer attached to it tracking the time between when it's placed and when it's marked as completed. Those timers and statistics are then reported for store evaluations and taken into account, along with any and all customer feedback. These make a significant difference as to how a store is rated, how it's treated, and essentially, how much a store is left to its own devices and allowed to keep doing what it does without supervisors breathing down the manager's neck.



So stores will sometimes fudge numbers and cut corners so their stats look better. It doesn't usually make any difference to the customer, who still gets warm pizza in a generally acceptable timeline, but it does make the store look like it's running more efficiently than it really is.



The Tricks

Here are some of the things that happened in our store to make it look more efficient.



1) The order comes in and the make-line workers immediately mark it as completed and put in the oven. Since you can go back to look at the order after you've submitted it, this gave them a couple minutes time to get the order made and put in the oven, even though the tracker says it's already in the oven. So shave two minutes there.



2) The order gets through the oven, boxed, and then put on the heat racks to be bagged and sent out. Meanwhile, on the computer for the drivers, there are five or six orders popping up on the screen with different addresses. It's my turn to take the next delivery, so I see there are two right now that have been placed for a campus in Oakland -- both are sitting at about 8 minutes on the timer, which means they're ready to be punched out and delivered.



But just as I'm ready to punch those two deliveries out, there are another two for the same neighborhood that just got placed. My choices are to let these other two orders sit on the timers for another 8 minutes (by which time they'll be a nice red color on the screen, indicating that they're very late) and then punch out all four deliveries for myself, or I can punch out the two orders now and use my "dummy account" (literally a ghost driver with a different name) to sign out the other two deliveries and take all four at once, delivering them in priority of time and convenience of route.



I use my dummy account to make the stats look better. Essentially, it means that the system shows us as having twice as many drivers working, while allowing us to take the deliveries we know we can make. Shady as hell when it comes to store evaluations, but for customer satisfaction, we didn't have that many problems.



3) Now I've got my four deliveries punched out on both of my driver accounts, and I'm out the door to make my deliveries. My first two deliveries on my main account are finished, but I'm still making the deliveries on my dummy account, so I'm not going to be back in the amount of time that the system thinks that I should. That means, once again, that we have two options: A) We can let the timers say that the driver took a hell of long time to complete one delivery, or B) we let the timers reflect the general amount of time it takes to make the deliveries by having drivers/managers/make-line workers still in-store sign drivers in at around the time that they should be coming back from that delivery. Which one looks better for the store? You guessed it. Option B.



The Problem

Now this is where things have a tendency to get a little hinky with the Tracker. Because there are a couple things going on now that aren't quite 100 percent true -- but do show up a certain way on the Tracker.



The biggest problem is that because, say, Bob just got back from delivering orders and signed back in, any online order that he was delivering (as Bob) is now marked by the Tracker as having been delivered. But since Bob had five deliveries out and three of them were under his dummy account, Fred, Bob is still finishing his last two or three deliveries. So Bob may still has your order in his car (and, quite possibly, another one on his route to deliver before he gets to your house), despite the fact that the Tracker has so graciously informed you that your pizza has already been delivered.



We would get a decent number of calls from people informing us that the Tracker told them that their pizza had been delivered, but that they didn't have anything on their table yet. You might get some people in-store and on the phones who tell you that the Tracker automatically does all that stuff, or that the driver should be there any minute and the Tracker just worked a little faster than your driver. But rest assured, unless your driver really messed up, your pizza did not get delivered to someone else. Or at the very least, if it did, the Tracker isn't the way you're going to find that out.



Rev. Joel Montgomery is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) serving the First Presbyterian Church of Vandalia, Missouri. He blogs at Waxing Theological.

This piece originally appeared on Quora. Follow Quora on Twitter and Facebook.

High School Students Throw 'Anti-Homecoming' After Grinding Ban

Tue, 2014-10-07 14:05
After Moline High School imposed a "no grinding" policy, students at the Illinois school organized their own "Anti-Homecoming" dance on Oct. 4 at the Moline Club.

The school had informed parents about the "no grinding" policy through "phone calls, emails and other correspondence."

"We do not believe it is appropriate behavior in public or at a school events, and we stand by that position," Superintendent Dr. David Moyer said in an email to The Huffington Post. "What people do on their own time or what their family or cultural norms are are not our concern when it is not associated with the school or on school property. When sponsoring a school event, we take seriously our responsibility to provide a safe, enjoyable, and appropriate experience for all of the students we serve."

The school district is not pleased with the protest counter-dance. It sent a subsequent email last week to parents about the Anti-Homecoming dance held at a venue called The Moline Club, pointing out it was "not a school-sponsored or school-endorsed activity."

15 minutes at regular homecoming and now off to anti lol

— Bremsy :) (@AlyssaBrems) October 5, 2014


But the students insist they organized the Anti-Homecoming over more than just grinding.

"Every 'tradition' of our senior year has been taken away or modified," said one student in a tweet. "Being a senior is no longer a fun experience, that's why we are all taking a stand."

Narveen Aryaputri, owner of the Moline Club, the location of the Anti-Homecoming, told HuffPost there were some rules at the protest dance as well. "Underage lap dancing," for example, was not allowed, Aryaputri said.

"A few people danced inappropriately," Aryaputri said, "but stopped after being told [by security]."

Still, about 350 students came to the Anti-Homecoming dance. Security and parents were there -- and one father acted as the DJ. It was a private dance, and people were only allowed in if they had purchased tickets.

Overall, the Anti-Homecoming dance appeared to be a success, with no major snags.

"They had a blast," Aryaputri said. "They had a great time."

Comin to ya live from anti homecoming pic.twitter.com/PXJBewHfko

— Payton Hostens (@payton_hostens) October 5, 2014


Homecoming was amazing with these people pic.twitter.com/aB2142rwkV

— Katie (@kat_christensen) October 5, 2014


♥♥♥♥ pic.twitter.com/6rQjZLQ1Ce

— Lauren Benson (@Laurennbensonn) October 5, 2014


Follow HuffPost Teen on Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pheed |

21 Numbers That Explain Why The Time To Address Climate Change Is Right Now, Or Maybe Yesterday

Tue, 2014-10-07 13:52
As this week's viral photo of 35,000 walruses crammed on an Alaskan shore reminds us, the climate crisis is still very much a thing. For those who missed it, a lack of Arctic ice evidently forced the poor creatures to huddle together on a narrow piece of land out of desperation -- normally, they're observed lying more spread out. (The same thing happened last year as well.)

The plight of the walruses is striking, but climate change is also having all kinds of other, less readily visible effects. It's been shown to produce heat waves around the world, contribute to global wildlife extinction and maybe even reduce gravity.

Below, we give you 21 numbers to help explain one of the most pressing global issues of our time.




0.01%

Percentage of working climate scientists who reject man-made global warming. According to research by the geologist James Lawrence Powell, among 9,136 scientists who published a combined 2,258 peer-reviewed climate articles between November 2012 and December 2013, just one person rejected the idea that humans are changing Earth's climate. Another review looked at 4,000 peer-reviewed papers on climate change and found that a full 97 percent identified humans as the cause.


90%

Percentage of 108 climate change denial books published between 1982 and 2010 that were not peer-reviewed. The books variously denied that climate change is happening, that humans are at fault, that climate change is having a negative effect on the environment, or any combination of the three. A strong link was also found between the books and conservative think tanks. Seventy-two percent of the books were published by an author or editor with a verifiable affiliation to some such group.


800,000 to 15,000,000

Number of years it's been since carbon dioxide levels were as high as they are now. Not only did humans not exist back then, but the oceans were 100 feet higher than they are today and the world's surface temperature was 11 degrees warmer than it is now.




1895

The year Svante Arrhenius presented a paper describing the impact of increased carbon dioxide on Earth's greenhouse effect. Arrhenius, a Swedish physicist and chemist, hypothesized that changes in concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could have a significant impact on the planet's surface temperatures. While Arrhenius was not the first to suggest humans might be capable of influencing the climate, his research shows that the basic science of global warming has been understood for more than a century. Yet somehow, there are still public figures in the U.S. debating whether it's real.


142%

The percentage by which atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen since the Industrial Revolution. Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, two other important greenhouse gases, have risen 253 percent and 121 percent from pre-Industrial levels, respectively.


2°C

The generally accepted maximum increase in average global temperature that humans can sustain without dangerous consequences. It was proposed as a policy target by the EU in 1996, and again in the Copenhagen Accord of 2009. After the planet warms by more than two degrees Celsius, or roughly 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit, relative to pre-Industrial times -- as it is currently on track to do -- humans could face more of the negative consequences of climate change, such as more frequent food shortages, extreme weather and mass extinction of plant and animal species.


800,000,000,000

Estimated total number of metric tons of carbon dioxide that humans can pump into the atmosphere before average global temperatures rise more than two degrees Celsius. According to a 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 800 billion tons is Earth's "carbon budget," and we've already used up close to two-thirds of it.


19.6

The number of pounds of carbon dioxide produced by burning one gallon (6.3 pounds) of gasoline. One gallon of diesel fuel does even more damage, releases 22.38 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that gasoline- and diesel-fueled transportation added 1,522 million metric tons of carbon to the environment in 2013.


25%

The percentage increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 1959 and 2013. That's a rise from 316 parts per million to 397 ppm. Over the past two decades, the average annual increase rose from 1.9 ppm to 2.1 ppm.




400,000

Estimated number of annual deaths due to factors influenced by climate change. A 2012 report published by the European nonprofit DARA estimated the average number of fatalities due to "hunger and communicative diseases" related to extreme weather affected by climate change. These conditions appear to hit the children of developing countries particularly hard. A group of doctors recently estimated that up to 7 million people may face premature death as a result of indoor and outdoor air pollution linked to fossil fuel consumption.


$696,000,000,000

Loss in 2010 global GDP estimated to have been caused by climate change. By 2030, researchers estimate that 3.2 percent of annual global GDP will be lost due to climate change, through consequences such as negative effects on crop yields. In developing countries, the loss may be even greater -- up to 11 percent of a nation's GDP.


1.7 to 3.2

The average number of feet by which global sea levels are expected to rise by 2100. This estimate by the IPCC assumes that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to climb at present-day rates. Sea levels around the globe are not expected to rise evenly, and some regions, such as the Mid-Atlantic U.S., are believed to be particularly vulnerable.


4

Number of feet global sea levels could rise if the increasingly unstable West Antarctic ice sheet should collapse. The sheet is already thinning, and one study has called its eventual collapse "unstoppable." However, while the ice sheet's melt would cause already-rising global sea levels to climb even higher, researchers do not believe that will start any time soon -- in a worst-case scenario, rapid collapse might begin 200 to 1,000 years from now.


2041

Year when it will become too late to stop Miami from slipping below sea level, due to greenhouse gas emissions already built up in the atmosphere. This doesn't mean Miami will actually be underwater by 2041 -- but if emissions continue at their current rates, 2041 is the year there will be no way to reverse the sort of sea-level rise that would end up drowning most of the city.




11.5°F

High-level projection for average global temperature increase by 2100. A low-level projection puts the average global increase at 2 degrees Fahrenheit, but changes in temperature are expected to vary by location.


0.3°C to 0.5°C

Estimated decrease in regional temperature by 2100, if certain presently non-forested areas of Europe are converted to deciduous forest. Though it's unlikely to happen, a 2013 study illustrated the benefits of using vegetation as a weapon against climate change.


70-plus

Number of days in 2011 when the temperature in parts of the U.S. was at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Climate Assessment. Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and Southern California were particularly hard-hit with scorching hot weather that year, a trend that is expected to increase with climate change.


14.9

Average number of days each year when temperatures in New York City exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit. That's based on data collected between 1870 and 2013. The last year when New York City had only one day of 90-plus temperatures was 1902.


69

High-level estimate of how many days per year New York City will have temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit if emissions aren't curtailed. That's the projection for the year 2100. A low-level estimate puts that number at 18 days. Other cities could face a much hotter future. In Miami, by 2100, almost 200 days out of the year could be 90 degrees or above.


9

Number of the top 10 hottest years on record that have occurred in the 21st century. The other year was 1998, and 2010 was the hottest year of all since record-keeping began in 1880.


71%

The percentage increase in very heavy precipitation events recorded in the Northeastern U.S. between 1958 and 2012. Only Hawaii saw a decrease in precipitation (12 percent) during that time frame. The Midwest experienced a 16 to 37 percent rise in heavy precipitation, and the South saw a 27 percent increase.

Bully/Jerk -- It's Not the Same

Tue, 2014-10-07 13:21
When my kids were little we would play a game called "Degrees". I would throw out a topic like "hunger" and we would list words that described hunger by degrees... peckish, hungry, famished, starving... like that. For "rain" it might be mist, drizzle, shower, downpour. It was no Dodge Ball or Red Rover, but it killed some time on a car ride. It also taught my kids that they could and should pick and choose words that most accurately describe something... or someone. This skill seems to be lost on many adults who are quick to assign the label "bully" to someone who is several degrees away from deserving that title.

The word "bully" is a loaded (or used to be loaded) word that is now used so often, that it's intended meaning is beginning to lose its impact. I can hear the cries going up now "WHAT!? How can you even say that?! Bullying is bad! We need to bring more awareness to it! Talk about it more! Seek it out and vanquish it!" I agree, bullying is bad -- so bad in fact that I think the very title of "bully" needs to be reserved for those who really, truly are... bullies. More and more I see that noun, that very specific title, being leveled against kids who were undoubtedly out of line, or did not use good judgment, or were being thoughtless, but were not being bullies. Being an insensitive boob is not the same as being a bully. Being a cretin is not the same thing as being a bully. Using strength and/or power to intentionally harm or intimidate someone is being a bully.

I am not downplaying the physical and emotional damage that derives from bullying. I know full well that bullying is a very painful, prevalent reality for kids of all ages. Bullying can lead to depression and even suicide and can have long lasting effects into adulthood. I understand that and I think, like most folks do, that bullying needs to be identified, stopped and prevented.

Here's the thing, over the past few years, with good intentions, parents, teachers and administrators are using "zero tolerance" to label any behavior that is not supportive, kind and compassionate as "bullying". The reality is, not every kid is a nice kid, and even a nice kid can say and do stupid or insensitive things once in awhile. Conflicts are going to happen. Assigning every jerk in the class the title of "bully" diminishes the word and desensitizes kids to what bullying really is. If Joe, who unthinkingly camel kicked Kurt while walking through the hall, is sent to the office for "bullying behavior," and Pete, who deliberately gave Sam a swirly in the bathroom stall is also sent to the office for "bullying behavior," then Joe the dopey camel kicker is no worse than Pete the malevolent swirly giver. Employing "zero tolerance" means treating them both as bullies. To kids "zero tolerance" is evolving to mean "it's all the same". A drizzle is the same as a downpour. It's all rain.

If every uncomfortable encounter a kid has with another kid is labeled "bullying" it not only diminishes the episodes of true bullying that kids have experienced, it also allows parents to dump the whole situation on the school to handle. If I as a parent, hear about an encounter my kid has had with a jerk, I talk to my kid about how to handle the jerk. If I as a parent hear about an encounter my kid has had with a bully, I am going to contact the school before it goes any further and insist that they intervene. Labeling a difficult situation "bullying" puts the onus on the school to handle. The school shouldn't have to use up time and resources mediating every unpleasant encounter. If the actions warrant the word "bullying" absolutely the school should step in. However, due to "zero tolerance" policies, immature oafish behavior is treated the same as premeditated intimidation. Much like every "good" experience does not deserve to be called "awesome," every encounter with an oaf is not an encounter with a "bully".

My kids have all had other kids be "mean" to them. In almost all of the cases, after hearing the stories, I said, "that kid was being a jerk". Only once did I agree that one of my children was indeed being "bullied". Another kid was targeting, singling out, and deliberately making my kid's life miserable for the sake of gaining power and control. In all the other instances, and there have been several, I have said "they are being jerks and you will always have jerks in your life. You cannot control anyone else's behavior. Only how you respond to it." Equally, we have had talks where my kids have said "Mom, I said such and such to a kid at school. Was that being mean?" Being a kid means being inexperienced when it comes to social interactions, and as they hit adolescence it actually gets worse instead of better. Young kids will say and do things without thinking. Adolescent kids will say and do really stupid things without thinking. Kids can be careless, thoughtless and tactless, but that is not the same thing as being a bully.

I do not shrug off asshole behavior with the excuse "boys will be boys" or bitchy behavior with the excuse "that's just how girls are". I think those responses to kids behaving badly are cop-outs, used by parents who don't feel like parenting. I think teachers and parents should not let rude or insensitive behavior slide. It does need to be addressed and handled, but call it what it really is though... rude or insensitive behavior. By using "zero tolerance" to label every jerky or snarky kid a "bully", you not only unfairly label a kid, you allow the bully, the true bully, to be placed in better company than he deserves, because kids, including the bullies, are being taught that there is no difference between being a jerk and being a bully. It's all the same.

Cell Phone Video Captures Police Smashing Window, Using Stun Gun During Traffic Stop

Tue, 2014-10-07 12:41
A northwest Indiana police department is facing a federal lawsuit after a family claimed an officer used excessive force on them during a dramatic traffic stop captured via cell phone video.

Lisa Mahone was driving, along with her boyfriend Jamal Jones and two children, to visit Mahone's ill mother at Stroger Hospital on Sept. 24 when they were pulled over by Hammond, Indiana, officers for a seat belt violation, the Post-Tribune reports.

According to the lawsuit, officers pulled them over in a "highly aggressive" manner, placing spike strips in front of the car and asking for both Mahone's driver's license, as well as Jones' identification.

Jones told the police he did not have a driver's license because he had recently been ticketed for not paying his insurance, per Mahone's complaint, and when he went into his bag to show them the ticket, officers reportedly refused to look at the ticket, ordered Jones out of the vehicle and pulled out their guns. Jones refused to exit the vehicle "because he feared that the officers would harm him."

Around this time, Mahone's 14-year-old son began recording the exchange, using the camera on his cell phone. His footage, uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 5, captures Mahone talking to police on her phone in an attempt to explain the situation, as well as the ongoing exchange between Jones and the officers.

The video shows the officers breaking the car's passenger window, spraying glass into the vehicle, and pulling Jones out of the car to arrest him. Officers also appear to use a stun gun on Jones while he is in view of the car. Mahone's 7-year-old daughter can be heard crying in the background.

The Chicago Tribune reports Jones was cited for resisting law enforcement and refusal to aid an officer. Mahone was also cited for a seat belt violation.

Mahone's lawsuit accused two named officers, as well as "other unknown officers," of using excessive force in the traffic stop. Both named officers have previously been cited in lawsuits alleging the excessive use of force and arrest without probable cause, according to the complaint.

In response to the lawsuit, Hammond Police stood by the officers' actions, saying in a statement reported by Fox Chicago that the officers "were at all times acting in the interest of officer safety and in accordance with Indiana law. ... In general, police officers who make legal traffic stops are allowed to ask passengers inside of a stopped vehicle for identification and to request that they exit a stopped vehicle for the officer's safety without a requirement of reasonable suspicion."

A Hammond police spokesman added in a prepared statement to CBS Chicago that the officer did not break the window and remove Jones until some 13 minutes after the traffic stop began. The spokesman also claimed Jones was seen to "repeatedly reach towards the rear seats of the vehicle," causing officers to fear that there was a weapon in the car.

The vehicle was never searched for weapons, Mahone's attorney, Dana Kurtz, told Fox.

Mahone's complete complaint is below:

Complaint against Hammond Police by jpuchek

Watch Marriage Equality Go From Minority Issue To Majority Right In Just A Few Years

Tue, 2014-10-07 12:40
On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to conduct same-sex nuptials, following a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court the year before. The state issued hundreds of marriage licenses, couples tied the knot and the rest of the nation waited. And waited.

In the summer of 2008, gay couples in California were briefly granted the right to get married, only to have it taken away in a voter referendum later that year. The California referendum passed just days before Connecticut became the next state to legalize same-sex marriage. More than four years passed between the first and second states embracing marriage equality, but the movement would move much faster from that point on. In the previous two years alone, gay marriage has advanced from a minority issue in a few, mostly blue states to a full-blown majority right in 30 states across the nation, as well as Washington, D.C.

More than 60 percent of Americans now live in states that allow same-sex nuptials, HuffPost's Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel reported Monday in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear appeals from states challenging lower court rulings that had recently legalized gay marriage. With 11 more states now beginning or set to begin allowing same-sex marriages, check out how the equality movement has grown below.



GIF created by Jan Diehm

Reboot Illinois poll finds Quinn has moved ahead of Rauner in Illinois governor's race

Tue, 2014-10-07 11:32
A new Reboot Illinois poll shows Gov. Pat Quinn edging ahead of Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.

The poll, conducted Oct. 6 for Reboot Illinois by We Ask America, showed Quinn leading Rauner 44 percent to 40 percent. It's the first of four Reboot Illinois polls to show Quinn ahead of Rauner, who had dominated the race in nearly two dozen polls from various sources dating back to March.

Quinn was especially strong in Chicago and the Cook County suburbs in the new Reboot Illinois poll. His success in Cook County and Chicago in 2010 helped him overcome poor showings downstate and in the collar counties and win by less than one percentage point.

As always, the new poll is merely a snapshot in time, not a predictor of the Election Day outcome.

"Pat Quinn has passed Bruce Rauner, but there is plenty of maneuvering space left for both candidates, especially in light of nearly 35 percent of voters not that confident they are choosing the right candidate," said We Ask America Chief Operating Officer Gregg Durham. "There has been some real upheaval in the location-based crosstabs where Quinn is solidifying his Chicago and suburban Cook County base."

Check out the poll at Reboot Illinois to see just how confident respondents were that they chose the right candidate.

Another poll conducted the same day found that Democrat Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is maintaining a strong lead among likely Illinois voters over opponent Republican Paul Schimpf. About 56 percent of respondents said they would vote for Madigan, while a little more than 31 percent said they would choose Schimpf. Almost 5 percent said they favored Libertarian candidate Ben Koyl and nearly 8 percent were undecided. How did those numbers break down across geography and demographics?

Discover the Cult of Lincoln at Springfield's Historic Pasfield House Inn

Tue, 2014-10-07 11:02

My 10-month-old son and I recently went on a three-week road trip down Route 66, from Chicago to Santa Monica. We stayed in an array of accommodations, from boutique hotels to roadside motels, from Wigwams to Wagon Wheel cabins. One of our favorite nights was spent at the Pasfield House Inn in Springfield, Illinois. As a history buff I was pretty excited to visit Springfield, former home of Lincoln (easily in my top 5 of U.S. Presidents) and a slew of iconic Route 66 spots like the Cozy Dog Drive-In (home of the world's best corn dogs). Oh, and the chilli. Mustn't forget the chilli. Springfield actually passed a resolution in the early '90s declaring itself the "Chilli Capital of the Civilized World." 






When we arrived it was very late, but the owner of the Pasfield House, local historian Tony Leone, didn't just leave a light on to make us feel welcome, he personally greeted us with that famous Prairie State hospitality. We felt immediately at home. Then we walked into the Georgian inn, a Springfield Landmark, and were blown away by its well-appointed antebellum style. The home was built in 1896, by the grandson of one of Springfield's most wealthiest citizens, and it's been lovingly preserved, under the care of Mr. Leone since he purchased it in 1996. The massive renovation undertaking was finally completed in 2002. It's now a 6-suite bed and breakfast that just oozes charm.






From the granite-top kitchenettes to the the relaxing jacuzzie baths, every detail has been meticulously thought-out and well-considered by Mr. Leone. I could have easily spent an entire week there, and I was informed that in fact the inn sees quite a lot of visitors, especially repeat guests, who visit while on a Lincoln-inspired pilgrimage. You see, there's a veritable "cult of Lincoln" comprised of history buffs who follow in the footsteps of the sixteenth President and learn as much about his life as possible.






The connection between the Pasfield House and Lincoln is interesting. George Pasfield was a banker who met Lincoln when they both lived in Springfield. They bonded over their experiences aboard a New Orleans flatboat. Pasfield and Lincoln were both involved in establishing the state capital in Springfield and Pafield became the patriarch of one of the wealthiest families in Springfield. Owning acres upon acres of land around the State Capitol.






Talk about location! The inn is within walking distance to the Illinois State Capitol and downtown Springfield. It was also close to the Cozy Dog, so we had corn dogs and french fries for breakfast, because when in Rome... Next time, I'm also going to definitely do the Lincoln Ghost Walk Tour, a spirited 90-minute, 10-block tour of Lincoln's life and death.






Leone has been accumulating accolades for this impressive restoration, as it reflects on the grandeur of Springfield's bygone time, helps encourage and inspire others to rehab historic buildings, and serves as a "catalyst for reinvestment in the once declining neighborhood near the State Capitol."



A little about Leone:



Tony is a local fixture in the Springfield community and for many years he participated in state and local politics. He was the Republican Caucus Clerk of the Illinois General Assembly for over 14 years, during which time he was involved in political fundraising and event planning. This certainly served him well once he started making his foray into the hospitality business. The Pasfield House is a popular venue for weddings, themed dinner parties, fundraising galas, cooking classes under the tutelage of gourmet chefs, and other events.






Leone is a charming character who loves Springfield and wants to promote it to the world. His incredible bed and breakfast is, in my opinion, reason enough to get tourists to the town, and once there, they'll be pleasantly surprised at just how great the Illinois town is. It's got a little something for everyone. Lovers of Lincoln, history buffs, Route 66 aficionados, and foodies will all find something to fall in love with.



Speaking of charming, here's Shelby Stouffe, Assistant Manager at the Pasfield House. She's a fabulous local girl, who's a delight to chat with. 






From its landscaped gardens to its lush interior design, the Pasfield House Inn is a destination in and of itself. I can't wait to go back. 

Why Isn't Anyone Talking About Nick Jonas' Hairy Ass?

Tue, 2014-10-07 10:41
Nick Jonas has spent the better part of the last month promoting his new single, "Jealous," and his upcoming DirecTV series, Kingdom, with a dizzying media tour that has included not only interviews with several gay publications but stops at several gay bars.

At HuffPost Gay Voices we've written about how Jonas happily showed off his abs at these bars, engaged in some light flirting with the patrons and has generally spent the last few weeks going out of his way to prove that his affinity for his gay fans is more than a mere marketing ploy (or if it is marketing ploy, it's one to which he and his team are fiercely dedicated).

Then, just when we thought Jonas had given all he had to give to us, we were gifted with his photo shoot in Flaunt magazine, which included several shots inspired by Marky Mark's iconic 1992 Calvin Klein underwear campaign. The images hemorrhaged their way across the Internet (and for good reason: They're hot and nostalgic, two things we can rarely get enough of) but, for me, at least, they're not the most interesting thing to come out of the Flaunt shoot.

The image I keep coming back to is this one:



It's a beautiful photo, but it's also one that you'll rarely see in mainstream media because of one thing: the small patch of hair fanning out across Jonas' lower back and creeping down his ass crack.

An appreciation of body hair in our culture has waxed and waned over the years. Today the male bodies presented to us (and especially to young men and women) as enviable and desirable are often hairless. I can't remember the last time I saw a contestant on The Bachelorette with a full chest of hair (not that I watch that show). Even the werewolves on Teen Wolf are hairless (not that I watch that show either).

And when we do see body hair in magazines or movies, it's always controlled and coiffed and constrained to the chest and stomach. Remember the funniest scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin? It was when Steve Carell got his torso waxed. Whenever that scene plays, we hold our collective breath as Carell undergoes his metamorphosis, mesmerized by the agony (and his hilarious reaction to it) but also relieved by the taming of the beast before our eyes and his implied transformation from wild man into gentleman.

Hairy backs and asses are even bigger jokes. If you have one (and many, many men do), you can't be the leading man; you're someone's gross dad or lecherous bad date.

Until now?

Nick Jonas is certainly no one's creepy uncle, and he's not a niche figure who doesn't get a lot of traction in Hollywood. He's a 22-year-old bona fide celebrity whose tax return may very well list his occupation as "heartthrob." So when I saw his hairy lower back and ass, which could have been erased easily via Photoshop, I got excited because I felt I was seeing what maybe, just maybe, could be interpreted as a breakthrough.

I can already see the comments section of this blog post filling up with responses like "Who cares?" and "Why is this news?" And you're right: This isn't "news." No one else even seems to be thinking, much less writing, about this photo. But before you write me off as just another garden-variety perv (which is totally valid most of the time), I hope you'll consider how important visibility is for creating change.

As more and more queer people come out and we gain more and more "possibility models" (as Laverne Cox has so eloquently put it) in the media, we feel more permission to be exactly who we are, and I believe the same is true for body image. Imagine being a 22-year-old guy and feeling ashamed about your own hairy back or hairy ass and seeing that image. Or imagine being an 18-year-old young woman and seeing that photo and having to readjust your idea of what sexy is. Even in queer culture, with our bears and otters and cubs and wolves, we're no stranger to shaming bodies -- our own and each other's -- and tiny, but visible, moments like this one are important for us too.

I'm not claiming that this photo is some kind of furry panacea for all that ails us. Of course Nick Jonas' body conforms to (or surpasses) societal norms in many ways, and seeing it could inspire body shaming or set unrealistic expectations for some people. I'm also not claiming that men shouldn't shave or wax or laser their bodies if that's what they prefer, but I would like to at least raise the question of why hairlessness is the preference for so many of us and address the stigma that often comes with being hairy. And let's face it: Jonas isn't exactly hirsute, but I believe there is something radical about that patch of hair -- however small, however innocent -- climbing out of his jeans in the pages of Flaunt. And I think it's worth pointing out and talking about, because this is how our culture begins to change -- one image at a time -- and because I want to celebrate progress -- however modest -- wherever I find it, even (especially?) if it's in Nick Jonas' hairy ass crack.

Also on The Huffington Post:

Creating a More Empathetic Medical Workforce

Tue, 2014-10-07 10:08
Co-authored by Kara LaBarge, B.S., a second year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where her research focus is racial and ethnic disparities in pediatric pain management.

In the last few weeks, thousands of new students have started medical school.

Medical education has recently broadened its narrow focus from just-the-facts, to a patient-centered model of care, meaning that unlike the old days when we made decisions for our patients, today's doctors are trained to think about the patients' needs and values. In order to be effective, doctors need to be knowledgeable about medical facts, but also need to know how to communicate effectively, and be empathetic. In essence, the new generation of doctors is being trained to be nicer doctors.

But there's something wrong. Students are not graduating from medical school as empathetic physicians. Over the course of their training, they become less empathetic, as opposed to more empathetic, and the reasons for this are unclear.

Maybe it's because in the first two years, students have their heads in their books memorizing facts. The stress and anxiety about passing exams may make them less empathic because they are simply emotionally drained.

Things get worse in the clinical years. You would think these budding future physicians become more empathetic when they finally talk to patients. But instead they become hardened. I understand how this happens. Sometimes, in order to care for a patient, you need to distance yourself from the situation. I work in labor and delivery. As a mother, I can't fathom the pain of delivering a baby who died late in the pregnancy, yet it happens, and I need to care for these women. I can't let myself be overwhelmed by the sadness of it all. I wouldn't be able to care for my patient effectively. This emotional distancing, coupled with stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, plus lack of empathetic role models slowly chip away at student's empathy.

Empathy matters. For improved patient satisfaction and for improved medical outcomes. Physicians who were trained with empathetic skills in a fertility clinic were found to have higher patient satisfaction and communication skills than those who were not trained. Patients were more satisfied with the information given to them by their physician, as well as with how the physician explained that information to them. Likewise, another study found that patients treated by physicians with higher empathy ratings were more likely to have better medical treatment outcomes than those treated by physicians with lower empathy ratings.

So what can be done to prevent this deterioration in empathy in medical trainees?

One method often used to increase empathy is perspective taking, which can be taught in one of two ways. In experiential learning, students are asked to either imagine what it would be like if they were the patient. Essentially, the students are asked to walk in the patient's shoes. The second method is to simply lecture the students on active listening and communication skills. These methods, which may sound so basic, really work. Studies have shown that these lessons, easy to slip into a student's hectic schedule, make both patients and doctors-to-be happier.

Another possible intervention targets students earlier in training. All medical students spend time learning anatomy on a cadaver in the anatomy lab. The cadaver is dehumanized. The cadaver is a tool for learning anatomy, yet it is often forgotten that this educational tool was a person, who gave their body to train the next generation of physicians.

At our institution, at the end of the first year of medical school, students participate in an anatomy closing ceremony. Medical students recognize the anatomy donors and their families with musical performances, readings, and a flower ceremony. The cadavers regain their personhood as medical students say a word of thanks before placing a white rose into a vase in memory of their donor. Some students even have the opportunity to speak with family members of their donors about their anatomy experience. We don't know for sure, but maybe these reminders such as these before the end of first year could help combat students' loss of empathy over time.

In the changing face of medicine, we need to incorporate more empathy and human experience into medical education in order to create more compassionate doctors. The evidence supporting better communication is strong. It's hard to argue that greater patient satisfaction, better medical outcomes, and even reduced litigation are not important. The challenge is finding effective, sustainable strategies. The myriads of patients that these soon-to-be doctors will one day serve deserve it.

It's Time For America To Talk About The Price Of Water

Tue, 2014-10-07 07:39
This story originally appeared on Ensia.

This summer, a 90-year-old water pipe burst under Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, sending a geyser 30 feet into the air and a flood of troubles over the UCLA campus. Raging water and mud trapped five people, swamped 1,000 cars and flooded five university buildings — blasting the doors off elevators and ruining the new wooden floor atop the Bruins’ storied basketball court.

As the campus dried out, though, Angelenos seemed less upset about the replaceable floorboards at Pauley Pavilion than they were over another loss: 20 million gallons of freshwater wasted in the middle of the worst drought in California history. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti took heat for his earlier campaign promise not to raise water rates in a city with a long backlog of repairs for aging water pipes.

Five days after the L.A. pipeline rupture, officials in Toledo, Ohio, declared the tap water for half a million people unsafe to drink, tainted by toxic algae spreading in the warm waters of Lake Erie. As residents of one of the most water-blessed regions in the world waited in lines to buy bottled water, an issue that had held little political urgency rose near the top of Ohio’s gubernatorial and legislative races. Former Toledo mayor Mike Bell held back an “I told you so” for council veterans who’d resisted rate increases to pay for upgrades to the city’s 73-year-old water-treatment plant.

In Los Angeles and Toledo and across the U.S., historic drought, water-quality threats heightened by warming waters and poorly maintained infrastructure are converging to draw public attention to the value of fresh, clean water to a degree not seen since Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972. The problems are also laying bare the flawed way we pay for water — one that practically guarantees pipes will burst, farmers will use as much as they can and automatic sprinklers will whir over desiccated aquifers.

Squeezed by drought, U.S. consumers and western farmers have begun to pay more for water. But the increases do not come close to addressing the fundamental price paradox in a nation that uses more water than any other in the world while generally paying less for it. And some of the largest water users in the East, including agricultural, energy and mining companies, often pay nothing for water at all.

As a result, we’re subsidizing our most wasteful water use — while neglecting essentials like keeping our water plants and pipes in good repair. “You can get to sustainability,” says David Zetland, a water economist and author of the book Living with Water Scarcity. “But you can’t get there without putting a price on water.”

Cheap, Abundant Illusion

Water is the most essential utility delivered to us each day, meeting our drinking and sanitation needs and many others, from fire protection to irrigation. Incongruously, it is also the resource we value least. This is true generally for both the way we use water and the price we put on it.


Utility expenditures for a four-person household in 2012. Graphic courtesy of Michigan State University Institute of Public Utilities.

On the global scale, Americans pay considerably less for water than people in most other developed nations. In the U.S., we pay less for water than for all other utilities. That remains true in these times of increasing water stress, says Janice Beecher, director of the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University, whose data show the average four-person household spends about $50 a month for water, compared with closer to $150 for electricity and telephone services.

Water’s historically cheap price has turned the U.S. hydrologic cycle abjectly illogical. Pennies-per-gallon water makes it rational for homeowners to irrigate lawns to shades of Oz even during catastrophic droughts like the one gripping California. On the industrial side, water laws that evolved to protect historic uses rather than the health of rivers and aquifers can give farmers financial incentive to use the most strained water sources for the least sustainable crops. In just one example, farmers near Yuma, Ariz. — the driest spot in the United States, with an average rainfall of 3 inches per year — use Colorado River water to grow thirsty alfalfa; under the law of the river, if they don’t use their allotment, they’ll lose their rights to it.

For both municipal waterworks and those that carry irrigation water to farms, the illusion of cheap, abundant water arose with the extensive federal subsidies of the mid-20th century. The Bureau of Reclamation built tens of billions of dollars worth of irrigation and supply projects that were supposed to have been reimbursed by beneficiaries; most were not repaid. After passage of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act in the 1970s, the feds doled out billions more dollars, this time to local communities to help upgrade water plants and pipes. Since ratepayers didn’t have to bear the costs, they didn’t balk at treating water destined for toilets and lawns to the highest drinking-water standards in the land.



Americans got used to paying wee little for a whole lot of pristine water. At the same time, many utilities delayed the long-term capital investments needed to maintain their pipes and plants. Water boards are often run by local elected officials, making decisions uneasily political. A board member with a three-year term might not vote for a water project that would pay off in year six. Officials who tried to raise rates risked being booted out of office. It was easier to hope federal subsidies would continue to flow. They did not. A Reagan Administration phase-out of water-infrastructure grants began 25 years ago. Over the past decade, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water infrastructure funding has declined (with the exception of 2009, the year of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), and policy has shifted from grants to loans.

Unfortunately for water utilities, the timing coincided with the arrival of requirements to scrub dozens of newly regulated contaminants out of drinking water and record numbers of water mains and pipes bursting due to age and extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.

Playing Catch-Up

In recent years, municipalities have begun raising rates to play catch-up. Since 2007, city water prices have risen at rates faster than the overall cost of living. Even so, the water sector reports it is not enough to pay for an estimated $1 trillion in anticipated repair costs for buried water pipes and growth-related infrastructure costs over the next 25 years.

When it comes to meeting needs associated with growth, many of the most promising solutions are found on the demand side. Americans still use more water per person than anywhere else in the world. But the U.S. today taps less water overall than it did 40 years ago despite population and economic growth, thanks to increased efficiency and awareness. From irrigation to manufacturing to toilet flushing, everything we do takes a lot less water than it used to.

Because utilities’ funding relies on revenue generated by water sales, efficiency has many utilities up a creek and churning blame. Earlier this fall, The Washington Post published a story, reprinted in newspapers around the nation, that blamed “federally mandated low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets” for water utilities’ financial woes. Conservation, the story said, was the cause of higher water rates and new fees.

The reality is just the opposite, says Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a Chicago-based nonprofit dedicated to sustainable water use. Everyone is beginning to pay more for water — but communities that conserve have lower long-term costs than those that don’t. In many cases, simply saving water can eliminate the need for costly new sources, Dickinson says. Growing, water-stressed cities including San Antonio and Perth, Australia, have saved ratepayers more than a billion dollars in long-term capital costs by helping them slash water use in half. An analysis by the city of Westminster, Colo., found that reduced water use by citizens since 1980 saved residents and businesses 80 percent in tap fees and 91 percent in water rates, compared to the costs of acquiring the new water — close to $220 million on Colorado’s Front Range.

Efficiency will be the answer in many communities, although it cannot save the day in financially strapped cities that are losing population. Detroit’s emergence from bankruptcy depends in part on its ability to sell water, but it has lost a quarter of its population over the past decade. Under pressure to reduce more than $90 million in bad debt, the Water and Sewerage Department in the spring began ordering shutoffs for customers who had fallen behind on their bills, prompting a global outcry and a warning from the United Nations.

Pictures of American families bathing and brushing teeth from five-gallon buckets hold a mirror to the nation’s hydro-illogical cycle: We subsidize water for the largest users in the United States, including agriculture and energy plants, yet we do not ensure a basic amount of water for the poorest citizens.

Agriculture at the Table

Likewise, efficiency doesn’t solve water-quality issues like Toledo’s, where ratepayers could be looking at $1 billion for a new drinking-water plant advanced enough to filter out the pollutants brewing in Lake Erie, their water source. Donald Moline, commissioner of Toledo’s public utilities department, says the cost issues are opening up much-needed dialogue with the agricultural community on its contribution to nonpoint-source pollution in Lake Erie. Fueled by farming, septic systems, urban runoff and other causes, nonpoint-source pollution is the largest contributor to water-quality problems in the United States. “It used to be we just weren’t allowed to get into the agricultural causes, but given the science of this, we can’t ignore that piece,” Moline says.

Indeed, concerns over both quality and quantity make agriculture an increasingly important part of the conversation about how we value and price water, says University of Arizona law professor Robert Glennon, author of the books Water Follies and Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It.

Irrigation costs differ significantly for American farmers depending on whether they operate in the West or in the East. Reclamation Reform Acts in the 1980s and 90s began to shift the costs of major U.S. irrigation projects — which move river water around the West — from federal taxpayers to western farmers, whose bill depends on an arcane mix of water rights, allocations and contracts. But in the Colorado River basin, century-old water law can still create a tragedy of the commons in which farmers risk losing their allotment if they don’t use it. To solve this waste-encouraging dilemma, Glennon advocates a regulated system of markets and trading that would allow farmers to sell their water allotments to cities in times of drought or let a manufacturer pay to convert a large farm from flood to drip irrigation in exchange for the saved water.

Groundwater presents yet another paradox of price: Rising energy costs and declining water levels in troubled aquifers such as the Ogallala in the U.S. Great Plains have helped motivate many farmers to use less water. Agricultural and industrial water users pay for the wells, pumps and energy to draw water up from belowground, but in much of the country they still pay nothing for the water itself — which in some cases has provoked a race to the bottom that can dry up neighbors’ wells and even collapse the ground underfoot. In one hot spot in California’s San Joaquin Valley, U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that steady groundwater pumping in the nut-tree region south of Merced is sinking the ground nearly a foot a year, threatening infrastructure damage to local communities.

In August, the California legislature passed a package of laws to regulate groundwater pumping for the first time in state history. But the laws won’t slow damage to aquifers without meaningful limits on groundwater withdrawals or a charge for extraction, says Zetland, the water economist. Both are tough to pull off in politically regulated systems. Florida has required permits for large groundwater withdrawals since 1972. But governor-appointed water boards are reluctant to deny them, which has aggravated aquifer depletion, drying springs and coastal saltwater intrusion in some parts of the state. For decades, various Florida councils, committees and commissions have concluded that a small fee on groundwater withdrawals — between a penny and 20 cents for every 1,000 gallons — would reduce pumping and fund water-resource protection with “minimal adverse economic impacts” to industry and agriculture, according to one analysis by Chase Securities. But the agricultural lobby keeps the idea from getting very far in the state legislature.

New Approaches

Going forward, water infrastructure, supply and quality challenges intensified by the droughts, floods, temperature extremes and other influences of a changing climate will require new approaches to not only price, but also ethics: using less and polluting less, recycling more, and sharing costs among all users.

At the local utility level, higher prices and tiered price structures, in which households that use more pay more, are both working to encourage conservation. Utilities are also turning to new types of bonds to cover long-term projects, such as the 100-year “green bond” sold this summer by the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority to finance environmentally friendly stormwater solutions.

Water-science and engineering groups such as the American Society of Civil Engineers make the case that the U.S. infrastructure crisis is severe enough that local communities cannot solve it alone; they suggest that federal investment is crucial to forestall significant costs in emergency repair and business losses.

Market fixes and agricultural partnerships are also part of the answer — especially if water law can evolve to do a better job of protecting the environment and local communities. Over the past two decades, drought-addled Australia has built the world’s largest water market, trading $2.5 billion per year and allowing the government to buy back overallocated rights and return water to nature. Price trends are up — both utility customers and agricultural users are paying more for water — while overall consumption is down. However, feared adverse social impacts may be coming to pass; researchers from Griffith University in Queensland found governments trading “with little regard or knowledge of Indigenous interests, and many Indigenous people believe that contemporary water resource management is amplifying inequities.”

Human rights advocates often oppose water markets on the grounds that we should not commodify an essential human need. But U.S. water use and price have been so skewed for so long that market solutions may be the only politically feasible way to right them. If we are to subsidize anyone, perhaps it should be the poor: A sustenance level of water for those who need it — free or dirt cheap — and higher prices for those who want more and choose to pay. “I argue for a human right to water,” says Glennon. “If we can’t guarantee that in the richest country in the world, we are a sorry lot.”

Key tenets as U.S. water law and policy evolves, Glennon says, are making sure the environment and communities where water originates are not harmed. “It’s glacial, but we are finally seeing people do things differently,” he says. “Across California, you see block rates and municipalities paying people to rip out lawns. Price is going to give us the opportunity to do some things before crisis becomes a catastrophe.”

The Easy Fall Haircut That Works For Everyone

Tue, 2014-10-07 07:33
Embracing fall fashion might start with trading your sandals for boots, but it ends with updating your hairstyle. So if you're thinking about saying bye-bye to beachy locks, celebrity stylist Mara Roszak says there's one haircut in particular that makes for a perfect autumn 'do: the lob. Yes, the chic, sophisticated shape loved by many famous faces is here to stay.



What Roszak likes most about this modern haircut is that it's fresh and looks more pulled together than flowing layers. If you're already rocking the popular chop, she suggests asking for a few tweaks at your next salon visit. "Cut the back a little shorter than the front and style with a clean part for a sleeker feel," says Roszak.



Roszak swears the lob isn't going anywhere simply because it's so versatile. Not only is it easy to wear and style for all face shapes, but it also works for various hair textures. "There are plenty of versions of the cut and it can be customized for different hair types," she says. Roszak recommends more blunt cuts for hair that is on the finer side and a cut that's more pieced-out at the ends for thicker strands.



Perhaps the best part about the lob is that the style is deceptively low-maintenance. Roszak explains that a quick blow dry with a round brush after shampooing and conditioning does the trick. You can use a 1 ¼-inch or 1 ½-inch curling iron (depending on the length of your hair) to create loose movement and voilà! You're ready to head to the office or hit the town.



Of course, the cut is manageable when it comes to styling, but it should grow out pretty seamlessly as well. "Just get a cleanup every couple of months," says Roszak, "and in the colder, drier months, use a deep treatment like L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm to keep hair healthy and hydrated."



If you're considering taking the chop but are nervous to lose length, Roszak points out that you can still pull your hair back. "There is always a time and a place for long hair, but right now it's really about the bob and long bob," she promises.



Pizza Farms Actually Exist, And They're A Little Slice Of Heaven

Tue, 2014-10-07 06:00
What do you imagine when you hear the phrase "pizza farm?" A field of thin, crispy crusts? Tomato sauce lightly fading out to the horizon? Sprouts of mozzarella cheese randomly dotting the landscape? Light oil glistening in the sun?

You're probably imagining this!



Or this!



Or this!




It's okay, we all are.

Just the phrase "pizza farm" sounds like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Automatically you imagine machines cultivating slices of cheese and pepperoni pizza.



And even though that's not exactly how pizza farms work (sorry to burst that bubble), the reality of pizza farms is still pretty exciting!

A pizza farm is a farm that serves pizzas made from ingredients grown right there in the area, either on the farm's property or on neighboring properties. Sometimes the crops and livestock pens are even organized into "slices," made into the shape of a giant pizza, as is the case at "R" Pizza Farm in Dow, Illinois.

Pizza farms exist all over the country, but have recently become concentrated in the Midwest, specifically in Minnesota and Wisconsin.


"R" Pizza Farm, Dow, Ill

Most of these farms host pizza nights where the pizza of your choice is cooked in an outdoor brick oven, then you picnic on the farm and stuff your face full of pizza. People come from all over the country, road tripping to pizza.

One of the more notable farms is A to Z Produce And Bakery in Stockholm, Wisconsin, which has been doing this since 1998. A to Z's pizza nights start in February and go through October. They happen every Tuesday night, no matter what the weather conditions. Of course, for those brave enough to hit up a pizza farm in the Midwest in February, you can always get it to go, and some pizza farms have indoor facilities.

Are you hungry yet? Well, here are a few more reasons you and your tummy should get better acquainted with pizza farms.



1. BYOB

Who doesn't like a bring your own booze situation? Drink what you want, save a bunch of money -- everyone wins. (Of course, a designated driver is a must.)







2. PICNICS

There's not much better than hanging out in the fresh air, away from the city, with good food and good friends. So throw down a blanket, bring some lawn chairs, whatever you need, and let's eat, drink and be merry.









3. FRESH, HOT PIZZA

Literally (well, not quite) FRESH out of the ground. You can't get fresher pizza than this. The good news is this will be the freshest pizza you've probably ever had. The bad news is every pizza from that point on will basically seem old.

It's so fresh, you'd swear pizza was made like this:




4. FASTER THAN FARM TO TABLE. IT'S LIKE FARM TO... TUMMY.

Farm-to-table restaurants are all the rage these days. These are restaurants that get a significant portion or all their ingredients straight from local farms. With pizza farms, you pretty much bring the table to the farm.


A to Z Farm And Bakery in Stockholm, WI



5. YOU'RE SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES

Supporting mom and pop businesses is very important. Many of these farms employ a small group of workers, and in the more rural areas, employment may not be as accessible. Much like tourist-heavy destinations, these farms grow to depend on visitors to help support the local economy.





6. GETTING PIZZA BECOMES A ROAD TRIP

Since these pizza farms are located in rural areas away from the city, this gives you a chance to take a road trip. Plot some extra stops along the route, see the sights, but never forget the ultimate goal: PIZZA. Come on, PIZZA ROAD TRIP??

Let's pause a second so you can stop smiling and drooling.

And how about class trips? How about instead of the farm museums, we take kids to the pizza farm. That's what they suggest at Cobb Ranch in Madera, California, possibly one of the oldest pizza farms in the country. Talk about tricking students into learning.

Mmmmmmmmm, delicious, tasty learning.









Pizza farm. Pizza road trip. Farm to tummy. How many sexy new food porn buzzwords do we have to unleash on you before you're convinced?

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