Reflections on Habitat Trip

Copyright Jessie Krehlik

SHU Crew poses in front of the brush pile we demolished during our day working with ARC.

SHU Crew doesn’t mess around. We do work. And when I say we do work, I mean that the 10 members of Seton Hill University’s community made a huge difference in countless people’s lives during our time in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA). Continue reading

Kindle Touch converts book addicts to e-book fanatic

This review first appeared in the January 26 issue of the Setonian, the Student Voice of Seton Hill University.

As a journalist, I have an obvious love for the written word—especially when it is printed in a beautiful hardcover book. But in the age of technology, even a bookworm like myself can come to terms with change and admit defeat. For a hardcore reader like myself, the Kindle Touch, one of Amazon’s new additions to the Kindle family, is a nearly perfect replacement to books filled with paper.

Of course, nothing, and I repeat nothing, can replace the look, feel and, especially, the smell of a book. I would never think of trading my hardback first editions of each of the seven “Harry Potter” books for e-versions of them. Sure, I might consider repurchasing them in electronic format, but I’ll carry those books with me to every future place that I will call home.

Having said that, there’s a natural attraction to an e-Reader that cannot be denied. It’s simply convenient to be able to carry an entire library of books around on a single 7.8 ounce device.

I know what you’re thinking: Why get a Kindle Touch when you already have an iPad, provided graciously by none other than Seton Hill University? That’s simple. The Kindle Touch’s 6” display features the most advanced E Ink Pearl to date. The biggest advantage to E Ink is it’s anti-glare feature. While there will still be some glare depending on how you hold the device in the sunlight, it’s a huge improvement compared to the iPad’s glossy full-color display. Sure it’s an obvious drawback that it’s completely grayscale, but at the same time, I’m not using the Kindle to look at pretty pictures—I’m using it to read novels.

What’s more, because of the Kindle’s E Ink display, the device’s battery life is remarkable. I’ve only had to charge my Kindle twice since I powered it up on Christmas Day, and I use for at least an hour every day and have never turned off my wireless.  According to, the battery life can last up to two months with wireless turned off.

Still not convinced? The Kindle Touch features the same swipe action we all know and love on the iPad’s iBooks app. Swipe left or right to flip pages, and swipe up or down to skip to the next or previous chapter. My favorite feature, however, is the built-in dictionary. While reading “A Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice,” I came across numerous archaic names for animals and structures that were unfamiliar to me. When I read a traditional book, I never bother to look up definitions, but it’s so easy with the Kindle Touch! Simply press your finger on the questionable word and viola!—multiple definitions appear on your screen.

According to, the Kindle Touch can hold up to 3,000 books or 4 GB worth of books and other e-printed materials. Users still concerned that they don’t have enough room have nothing to fear because they also receive access to free Amazon Cloud storage for all media purchased on Amazon.

But why buy a book that you’re going to be stuck with forever—you can’t resell it and you definitely don’t want to give your best friend your Kindle for a week or even a month so she can read the latest NY Times Best Seller. Never fear! There are countless free books as well as daily deals for some of the more popular titles out there on the Internet.

Still not convinced? Users have the ability to not only lend books to their friends but can also check out books from the library, including the Greensburg-Hempfield Public Library. Amazon Prime (free to students for a year) users can also rent one novel per month with no due date or late fees.

For just $99, you can be the proud owner of your own Kindle Touch with Special Offers. You can buy the Kindle without special offers for $139, but honestly, the special offers are no bother at all—they just show advertisements for products or books that might peak the user’s interest. In many cases, the ads are for Amazon, and these ads are only present when the Kindle is in standby mode—no ads appear on the screen while the user is reading.

I would recommend a Kindle to any bookworm who is eager or even slightly hesitant to embrace the future of books and other written media. Whether we like it or not, electronic publications are quickly replacing printed and we will eventually be forced to adapt. Do yourself a favor and jump on board early—you won’t regret it!

Challenges of getting started: Teaching Self-Defense

Black Belt Promotion

Each time we are promoted to a new Dan rank, we take a solemn oath to respect the art, to not wield it in a negative fashion and to educate others of its importance.

Teaching self-defense is hard. And I don’t just mean the actual teaching of the seminars. My challenges stem further back, beginning with applying for the event at Seton Hill. It wasn’t like I was jumping through hoops or anything, but I did have to deal with some “cultural” issues.

Before I applied to teach the seminars, I approached those in charge to discuss what I would need going in to make sure the events would be approved in a timely fashion. My biggest fear would be that the event would get approved and then I’d have to produce more documentation ahead of time. Unfortunately for me, I was shot down almost immediately. When asked if I was a certified instructor, I made the mistake of answering: “I am a second degree black belt in the Korean art of Tang Soo Do. While in high school I served as a student instructor.”

My  mistake was that I did not clarify that in the culture of martial arts,  being a black belt is equivalent to being a certified instructor. Although you are only considered a “dedicated beginner” when you receive your first degree, you understand enough about the art to train others. In fact, you are encouraged to share and educate others.

To solve this conundrum, my head instructor, at Harshall Karate Academy, had to sign a certificate listing that I was certified to teach Tang Soo Do and martial arts. He remarked that this was actually beneficial, because in the past, we’d never had a need for such a certificate. Now, we can use the certificate for all of our black belts, which, in turn, adds value to the degree.

As it turned out, the certificate was enough and I was able to register my events for the self-defense seminars. The first one, conducted yesterday, was successful but only reached a small amount of students. Read about it in my next blog 🙂

Self-Defense Seminars…an introduction

As a part of my Honors Capstone at Seton Hill, I’ll be conducting a few self-defense seminars on campus on Fridays from 6:30-8 p.m. in McKenna Center’s Aerobics room for the remainder of the semester (minus the week of Turkey-day). The second half of my capstone involves social media—tweeting and blogging specifically. I’ll be posting various tips and important facts about being aware of your surroundings rather than solely writing about how to conduct proper self-defense.

Finally, I’ll be posting images and other comments from my classes. If all goes well, I hope to also teach the for about a month in the beginning of Spring Semester.

To segway into the topic of self-defense, I thought it would be fitting to post a few old self-defense videos I developed back when I was a freshman as part of a project for Media Lab.

This first video shows some more advanced techniques that may or may not be covered in my self-defense classes. It all depends on the skill level of my prospective students.  Stay tuned for more videos over the next few days!

4-Legged Frolic for Animal Friends

We were all freezing but it was well worth it to raise money for some animals.

At Seton Hill, one aspect of the Senior Integrative Seminar is a social action project where students reach out to the community. My class decided to host a dog walk or “four-legged frolic” on campus to promote awareness and raise money for a local no-kill shelter: Animal Friends of Westmoreland County.

Last Saturday, we huddled together on Sullivan Lawn and greeted fellow dog-lovers who came out to support the cause. Animal friends showed up too with a few dogs available for adoption.

I wanted to adopt all of them, but I can’t 😦

To raise money, my class asked for a $5 suggested donation just to participate in the walk. Then, if participants were interested, they could donate a little extra money to purchase some homemade dog treats cooked by my classmates. Participants could also get their photo taken by yours truly for an additional donation.

Kiley & Luke

One of my classmates, Kiley, found a new friend...she would've adopted Luke in a heart beat if she'd been able.

We also drew names for three baskets of doggie toys and goodies to add incentives for people to donate more money for Animal Friends.

All in all, everyone had a great time.

The event was a mild success. It was clear that the dogs were loving the social time with some new friends and their owners were also enjoying the company. If we’d had more time to promote the event (and if it had been a little warmer), I think we would’ve had a better turn out, but all in all, it was a great event and I would definitely suggest others to host a similar event.

This little guy was brand new to the shelter! He's looking for a good home!

This little one needs a home too!

Luke was being playful with Kiley on the picnic table! So full of energy!

For more images, check out my photo gallery on flickr.

Generate Informed Opinions!

Research your facts, study the whole story before judging others or speaking your mind
In the age of technology, we are surrounded by noise, or interference, when it comes to creating an informed opinion. It is far too easy to simply listen to what a friend says or read an article by the news media and develop an opinion based on a single argument.In reality, to form a truly informed opinion, an individual must conduct his own opinion by seeking out influence from not only the news media but also from the voice of the people, more commonly known as social media now-a-days.
It’s important to acknowledge the fact that members of the news media are prone to going for shock value.Ever heard of the phrase “If it bleeds, it leads?” As journalists, this is our mantra. So, what happens when the story in question just isn’t quite as scandalous as we’d like? Well, some journalists’ word choice will make up for the missing content while others will hunt down more facts.Contrary to popular belief, numbers are a journalist’s best friend. Any statistic can be fabricated to fit the angle of the story. When a journalist says “majority vote,” the statistic could range from 51 percent to 99 percent, so be wary.

It’s not wrong to spruce up a story, but it’s also important for readers to understand that they must read as much as possible about a developing story to get the real facts. And, even when doing so, keep in mind that the world of journalism is cut throat.

News outlets compete not only to post the first story but also to have the most sensational story. Remember that the media can also only report on what it has access to, so in many cases, information is missing.

Social media is powerful but dangerous. Look at Egypt; an entire revolution was organized and implemented through social media networks. Wow. In today’s society, you’re pretty much considered weird if you aren’t connected electronically in some way.

When news breaks, one lucky individual is responsible for the start of a new trend. She posts a link on her social media network of choice and boom. Instant viral link. Soon, everyone is talking about it and retweeting or posting the same link. Forget researching for new developments. And of course, everyone has something to say about the latest scandal on the rise.

Keep in mind that your friends’ opinions aren’t always backed up by fact. Social media is a giant outlet for people to rant and complain. Angry people feed on each other’s emotions and soon an issue can escalate as a result.

Social media may be an excellent resource for spreading information and organizing events but it falls short where liability is concerned. There’s a lack of restraint when tweeting or posting status updates on Facebook.

Don’t be the next victim of ignorance. Avoid complacency in our technology based “Brave New World.”


This article originally appeared in the Nov. 10 issue of the Setonian. Although it has no byline, I wrote the article based on the opinions and emotions of our editorial staff.

Check out my other article from this issue…

Federal authorities deny bail for professor This is a developing story at Seton Hill University.

What’s in a dream…

I’ve had two semi-recurring nightmares for the length of my college career. You know how you usually know you’re dreaming when you’re in a dream? Well for some reason, when I have either of these dreams, that whole notion goes out the window and I’m stuck until I’m fortunate enough to wake up.

In the first recurring dream, my teeth start falling out. And there’s this intense pain from them ripping themselves from my gums. In my dreams, it varies from my teeth grinding on each other until they inevitibly fall out to some cases where they just suddenly fall out and blood gushes everywhere.

I’ve done the research. I know why I have this dream—it’s stress. More specifically, it was golf. I literally had stressful dreams about my teeth falling out because I was so unhappy on the golf team. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had this dream since I quit the team back in the beginning of September. Yay for overcomming a nightmare!

Unfortunately, my second dream seems to be here to stay. It began shortly after I stopped going to karate regularly. Being a black belt is more than just an honor. It technically just means you’re a dedicated beginner, but at the same time, you can definitely kick some ass if you’re ever assaulted. So why is it that when I dream that I’m in a fight, it’s like I’m punching air? There’s no power behind my attacks. It’s like my arms have turned to jelly and I have no hopes for defeating my opponent.

I think, perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that I don’t feel quite as insecure when I’m not up to par with my martial arts. I took over a year—almost two—off from karate because of college and golf and just life in general. I don’t think I have a single stronger regret than giving up karate for two years. It clears my mind and helps me focus like nothing else. Over the summer, I went back to karate regularly and the nightmares stopped as well. But, now that I’m back in school, the nightmares have returned and I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to train again.

I’m hoping that by teaching self-defense classes at Seton Hill, I’ll be able to increase my confidence and this will translate into my subconscious. Who knows…I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.