They nuzzle your nose. They cuddle cadavers. They suck down Sebum. The few, the proud, the face mites.
Yes, hiding in the hair follicles around your nose and forehead live microscopic mites—Demodex mites to be exact—and as it turns out, mine are quite shy.
Last February, I jumped at the opportunity to “meet” my mites by participating in a study conducted by Your Wild Life, an organization dedicated to exploring the biodiversity that lives “on us, in us, and around us.”
I signed the waiver excitedly, eager to donate some of my precious facial cargo to science. The lab tech sat me in her chair, lifted a metal scraper to my nose, and began the search. While my mites were nowhere to be found, Your Wild Life has successfully scraped mites from many of more than 200 participants.
Over 48 thousand species of mites have been described—two of which, D.folliculorum and D.brevis, are found only on humans.
“Both species are sausage-shaped, with eight stubby legs clustered in their front third. At a third of a millimeter long, D.folliculorumisthe bigger of the two,” science-writer Ed Yong said in a 2012 article for Discover. “Richard Owen gave the mite its name, from the Greek words ‘demos,’ meaning lard, and ‘dex,’ meaning boring worm.”
Before the image of “lard worms” hiding in your pores sends you into a Jabba the Hutt-fearing frenzy or running for a loofa, keep in mind that nearly every adult hosts these squidgy little squatters, and they most likely do you no harm.
“For the most part, it seems that they eat, crawl and mate on your face without harmful effects. They could help us by eating bacteria or other microbes in the follicles….Their eggs, clawed legs, spiny mouth-parts, and salivary enzymes could all provoke an immune response, but this generally doesn’t seem to happen,” Yong said.
Demodex mites are ectoparistites, meaning they do not burrow under the skin. They are not exclusive to the face, but because they feed on Sebum (the oily secretion of the sebaceous glands that keeps your skin moist) and the cells inside of hair follicles, each face is a piece of prime real estate.
Every generation picks up mites throughout their lifetime, and they have been found in nearly all races, something that intrigues the team at Your Wild Life.
“We aim to study the evolution and diversification of human-associated Demodex mites over time and space. Specifically, we want to map the mites’ “family tree” and see how closely that tracks our own human family tree,” the team said.
There is certainly much to be learned about these microscopic mooches, and their relationship to us. I find it all rather fascinating but taking a close look at what is crawling on our skin is not for everyone.
If this post has you nearing the edge of an emotional breakdown, chances are you have Acarophobia, the fear of Mites and small insects. Phobia here, phobia there, phobias, phobias everywhere!
It’s 97 degrees and you are pouring sweat. Your eye shadow is creasing, your blush is streaking, and your skin is shinier than a freshly waxed floor. You decide to take a dip in the pool, and your mascara runs down your face making you resemble a raccoon.
This is every girl’s nightmare in the summer. In the past, when the temperature reached 80 degrees plus, I’d be stuck with a dilemma—should I attempt to look like a semi-decent human being, or should I ditch makeup altogether to avoid the inevitable mess that ensues via the blazing sun? But then I learned about the magic of waterproof makeup and immediately started giving the products a little test run. This is what I’ve been left with; may the days of running mascara be left behind for good. Amen.
For the Eyes
In any occasion, whether the temperature is insanely high or not, eye shadow primer is always a necessity. Always. Not only does it help your shadow stick longer, but it also makes the colors more vibrant. Another alternative is cream eye shadow, or Maybeline’s new color tattoos. In the summer I stick strictly to light, neutral colors because if something is to go awry the mess is less noticeable. I’d also recommend skipping a lot of eyeliner—simply lining the waterline should suffice, and if it is a necessity use waterproof liquid, not pencil or gel. And of course, opt for a waterproof version of your favorite mascara to finish off your eyes because mascara is one of those products that should be present even if nothing else is.
For the Face
Just like an eye primer, a good moisturizer is something that should be used year-round. The sun will dry out your skin, and a moisturizer with an SPF will keep your face supple and protect from sun damage. If you don’t have problematic skin, great! Skip foundation at all, or opt for something like a BB Creamor Skin Tint—they both offer light, sheer coverage that’ll let your skin breathe in the heat. I have a naturally porcelain complexion, so I always use bronzer. In the summer, Stila’s One Step Bronze is perfect because it gives a little color without a cakey finish. Lastly, use a cream blush or cheek tint for a pinch of color; they are long lasting and look more natural on the skin as long as they are thoroughly blended.
So this summer, skip the streaky mess and sport a more put-together look. By using long lasting and breathable products, your face with stay in place all day while still being comfortable in the summer heat.
I needed to find a clever Father’s day card. Stat.
Searching Google, I had a hard time finding something that I liked and that was creative. These days, I find that when I need some inspiration, I tend to stray away from using generic sites like Google and Bing. Finding that little spark of creativity or imagination can be difficult when you have an innovation block. Luckily, there are a variety of places you can visit to get that extra push. As Pablo Picasso once said, “good artists copy; great artists steal.”
Growing in popularity over the past two years, Pinterest (shown above) has become the new filing cabinet for online photographs. By easily organizing the photographs into different “boards,” you can easily access your favorite photos of people, places, and things.
Similar to Pinterest, it allows you to categorize your photographs into different categories and moodboards while promoting inspiration. What’s different is it allows for the user to search for a specific talent or occupation to view portfolios and works from people in your area. You can also promote your personal portfolio board by connecting your page with other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
Finally, there is a Pinterest for men! Instead of a website with makeup tutorials, clothing ads, and other girly things, Gentlemint is full of topics like cars, alcohol, fitness, and, of course, Ron Swanson’s Man Rules.
Know what you want to do but don’t know how? DIY will help you get there. Appealing to both men and women, the site can teach you how to build a fancy fence, seal an asphalt driveway, or balance the pH in your soil.
Made purely for weddings, the users can search by color or keyword in order to plan their dream wedding. Their mission is simple: “to make wedding planning simple and more fun. Discover ideas, things to buy, and people to hire for your wedding.”
Bill Gates. Neil Armstrong. Demi Moore. Barack Obama. Leonardo da Vinci. Marilyn Monroe. My Uncle Eddie.
What do these people all have in common? They all have a reason to celebrate with me on August 13th.
National Left-Handers’ Day is an actual thing, and I’m really happy about it. Us lefties are always getting left in the dust, fed to the wolves, laughed at ruthlessly—but we are strong! We adapt! I mean, when is the last time you saw a right-hander living with left-handed standards? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
You might recognize the 10 percent by the way our hands shimmer with the ink we just smeared across our notebooks. Or maybe you notice how we casually bump elbows with our siblings at the dinner table because we sat on the wrong side. Or, perhaps, you have seen us crumpled over in class looking like a cinnamon twist because our tiny little desk in that huge lecture hall was built for a righty, and we were too late to get an aisle seat.
If you ask me though, these are small prices to pay for the privilege of being a lefty, or southpawed, if you will.
This awesome life trait appears to be genetic. According to a study cited by ABC News, children with one left-handed parent are twice as likely to follow suit. If both parents have been blessed with a dominant left-hand, their children are four times as likely to inherit the trait. Any lefties out there looking to put a ring on it? Settle down? Start a family of left-handed babies? I’m available.
If you recently lost a basketball game or are down on your luck in the boxing arena, you might be able to blame a lefty for that. Southpawed citizens are more able to surprise their opponents, as competitors are used to playing against right-handers. In baseball, lefties up at bat can see first base, so they can easily cover all their—er—bases.
If you just got in a fight with a lefty, please step back for a hot minute. Left-handers are more likely to have a hard time sorting through feelings, which might be because there is an imbalance between the two brain hemispheres when bad moods occur. Studies also show that a lefty is more likely to have a drink in his or her hand, but not because being left-handed is stressful. We just like to kick back with a nightcap more often.
Look, I’m not saying that I feel superior because of the way I hold my pen. But allow me to leave you with one final thought. I saw it on a refrigerator magnet once, and it spoke to me.
“Everyone is born right-handed. Only the greatest over come it.” —Refrigerator Magnet
London-based artist John Conway spends his time in many walks of life—prehistoric life, that is.
Conway focuses on two genres of art: “paleontological reconstruction and, well, everything else,” a combination which allows for breathtaking imaginative overlap.
“John’s art melds illustrative skill and a variety of approaches with scientific detail and imagination,” science writer Brian Switek, who specializes in evolution, paleontology, and natural history, told Flux in an interview.
The path to creating accurate representations of prehistoric flora and fauna is riddled with challenges—the biggest perhaps being the initial research.
“Things are particularly difficult for artists here, even the most scientifically minded of us,” Conway said. “Scientific literature simply isn’t written with the problems of artists in mind; the crucial information on the appearance of fossil animals and environments can be spread across hundreds of papers, and even then there are huge gaps.”
Reconstructing plant life is particularly difficult as a decent-sized painting might have dozens of species, and gathering information on each is a daunting task.
“I’ve been putting a lot of effort into this over the last couple of years, and I’m still nowhere near where I’d like to be,” he said.
Conway’s fascination with paleontology began during childhood. Sparked by Bob Baker’s book The Dinosaur Heresies, his love for dinosaurs quickly intertwined with his passion for art.
“Certainly by the time I was fifteen, I was very into painting—especially nineteenth century landscape painters, and some modernists, as well as the paleontological artists,” he said.
It didn’t take long for Conway to dive into his own paleo-art career. At seventeen, he went to work for a museum in his hometown of Canberra, Australia, where he painted life-sized murals behind the dinosaur skeletons. Six years later, it was time for bigger and better.
“I grew up in a very dull city,” he said. “I left [Canberra] at age 23, while halfway through a philosophy/biology degree, to take up a very glamorous job working in Hall Train Studios making pterosaurs and dinosaurs.”
Hall Train, located in Ontario, Canada, is one of the leaders in the design and creation of exhibit paleo-environments, which are featured in natural history museums, science centers, and theme parks around the world, as well as one of the world’s foremost suppliers of dinosaur animation for television.
Credit: John Conway
“A year later, I moved to London and have been freelancing successfully (and mostly unsuccessfully) ever since…the money is terrible” Conway said.
On occasion Conway is challenged with completely reconstructing animals from the fossils, up. To do this, he must first draw all of the individual bones and assemble the skeleton, then comes the challenge of reconstructing muscles and other soft tissue using relatives through phylogenetic bracketing.
“Greg Paul and, more recently, Scott Hartman have done an amazing job recreating dinosaur skeletons—I use those where available,” he said.
Conway’s non-paleo-art spans a vast variety of subjects, from alien life forms, to abstract representations of lyrics and mythologies, to beautifully obscure portraits of musical instruments.
“I’m very jealous of music and its apparently privileged connection to emotion in our brains. I have the rhythm of a drunken caffeinated turkey,” he said jokingly. “It has recently dawned on me that I will not live long enough to become a composer, an architect, a city planner, a singer-songwriter, an academic philosopher, a filmmaker, a paleontologist, a novelist, an engineer, a rock-star programmer, a shipbuilder, and a Lego-set designer.”
Though there is a distinct separation between Conway’s paleontological art and the rest, all of his work shares a similar aesthetic. He has an incredible ability to create life and motion is his computer-native art, much of which is still life recreation.
“He does far more than try to get the dinosaurs right: he gives them a kind of vitality that is sometimes lost in attempts where technical details trump the goal of trying to restore the animals as they once lived,” science writer Switek said. “People want to know what these animals looked like, and so it warms the cockles of my petrified heart to see John and other artists really do their homework while pushing the boundaries of what we can imagine about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals… Their work helps bring new science out to the public, and I am very thankful for that.”
Conway’s art has been featured worldwide, in countless blogs, publications, and in documentaries for National Geographic, BBC, and the Discovery Channel. Most exciting was the internet response to his book, All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals.
“In 2012 I decided to pursue a direct-to-people strategy of selling my work… All Yesterdays seemed like the most complete, and best suited of our various projects,” Conway said.
“It’s been amazingly well received critically and got heaps of coverage,” Conway said. “Though we are far from the only artists to produce the kinds of reconstructions you see in the book, I think it has come at just the right time, giving articulation and focus to what many of us have been feeling about paleontological reconstruction latterly.”
For Conway, paleontological art is about more than simply science communication.
“Honestly, such a goal would bore me. I think it should also have another goal, which has to do with enriching our lives through aesthetic experiences—shifting our feelings of the world,” he said
The nurses dressed in all white with hairnets and facemasks were clinking the industrial set of tools around on a steel patter to my right. I drifted off again as I felt a sting of the IV slide into my right arm.
My eyes opened at another sound.
My father’s alarm had gone off. It was three o’clock in the morning and I had just been dreaming a flashback to the spinal fusion surgery I had undergone around two years before.
Sliding on my down coat and slipping on my booties, I heaved myself out of the comfort of my royal blue tent and out into the cold, deserted ice. I could see my father had already begun boiling the water for tea and my younger sister, Madeline, still fast asleep in her sheltered cocoon.
With a full moon over head, the view was stupendous. It was still the dark hours of the morning, but with the full moon, the shadows of the luscious pines and the sparkle of the snow was clearly visible. Looking up at the slope of Mt. Shasta, a lit ant trail of climbers were already making their way up to the looming ridge above.
A bowl of oatmeal later and I was snapping my crampons onto my boots and heaving my thirty-pound pack on my semi-sore back. My back has been an issue for many years due to a duel with scoliosis. I spent the winter break of my senior year of high school getting a spinal fusion (two titanium rods fused to my spine to prevent the curve from gaining distance). The surgery, thankfully, worked, and a mere two years later I was climbing again. I had climbed before my surgery, but just a few times here and there with my father and sister.
One step. Stop. Breathe. Another step. Stop. Breathe.
And that’s how it went for the next eight hours uphill. Any faster and the climber would find themselves exhausted after only three hours, unable to scale the 14,179 foot California mountain.
This was my battle. Battling my body, my mind, my mountain.
One step. Stop. Breathe. Another step. Stop. Breathe.
I couldn’t necessarily feel the rods, but I knew they were there. It had taken me about six months after the surgery until I was fully healed, and even then I was still not allowed to go on rollercoasters or partake in any other potentially dangerous activities for an entire year. Luckily, a mountaineering backpack sits on your hips, thus lessening the pressure on your spine.
I pushed my body and my mind, step by step. It wasn’t enough to cause injury, but I wanted to push myself to see how far I really could go. The first doctor I went to when I had first found out that I had scoliosis said that there was nothing I could do for it—not even surgery would help. But I took the plunge: a scarily deep plunge that has left me with a giant scar going all the way down my back. I wanted to prove to myself and to him that I could do it.
We’ve all sat next to that person in lecture who just can’t seem to stop moving. I mean seriously, is that straight espresso in your water bottle?
Or maybe, like me, you haven’t sat next to that person because you are that person. If that’s the case, then you know what it’s like to have someone slap your leg to stop you from shaking the whole table. And yes, that is straight espresso in my water bottle.
Being fidgety can be distracting for everyone involved. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. In fact, us fidgeters all have something in common: we are way neater than everybody else!
NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, is the energy used to perform tasks that are not identified as exercise. NEAT encompasses things like walking to class, taking in your groceries, chewing gum, doing yard work, and—surprise—fidgeting in your seat. Gold’s Gym estimates that the twitchy population can burn up to 350 calories in a day by moving around in their chairs at work or school. But don’t just count on sitting around to rack up your NEAT points. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, pacing while you are on the phone, or dancing while you dust your house will turn an average activity into the NEATest experience of your day!
I know this all sounds silly. If you’re thinking that you’re going to be leg shaking your way to a six pack, then okay, you are pretty silly. But avoiding idle days is so important to our health. A study done by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health published in Women’s Health showed that it’s normal to spend 56 hours a week sitting still at a desk or on your couch—thank you, Internet age. But as convenient as technology has made work and play, sitting for so long has some pretty scary effects: it slows down your circulation, and ups your risk for diabetes and heart disease. That’s enough to make me want to fidget more than usual!
Not everyone is hard-wired to rustle around nervously 24/7. In many respects, that is a lucky thing. You’ll never have to explain to people that no, you aren’t anxious about anything, you just can’t sit still for the life of you. If you are one of those people who naturally play it cool, try working in some movement to your daily idle activities. It’ll do your body good!
It was the fall of 2011 when I discovered the hobby—or more appropriately, the fetish—that is home décor. Color palettes, duvet covers, throw pillows, and more; I had never realized how meticulous interior design was until I left my family home. At my parents’ house, my room was just a chaotic collection of things: a pink comforter I had since the sixth grade, band posters I had collected at Warped Tour over the years pasted on the walls unevenly, and random knickknacks filled every surface. It was a mess. It was shameful. However, I looked at leaving my parents house as an opportunity to experiment with design.
This new-found hobby started in the dorms. My roommate and I immediately started coordinating when we got our dorm packet. The color palette was easy: black and white for a classic look with accents of purple (our favorite color). When we moved in and got everything settled, I was pleased. I thought I was the craftiest freshman in Walton complex. And then Pinterest came along, and my outlook on interior design and crafting completely changed.
When it came time for me to move into my first apartment, I had everything planned out. I’ve concluded that there is an easy formula to a cozy yet coordinated room, and I’ve decided to share my theory.
Scour Facebook, Instagram, and your hard drive for pictures that have captured your favorite moments in life. There are so many things to do with photos, but my favorite ways to use them is to fill wall space. One of the easiest things I did was take clear fishing line and miniature clothes pins to create banners with my favorite pictures. I just hung a few points throughout the line with mini clear Command strips and everything was set.
Simplicity is Key
Use simple a color palette, simple decorations, and a simple floor plan for a clean and put together look. Choose two (or three: two neutrals and a pop color) coordinating colors to purchase all comforters, pillows, rugs, etc. in. Ditch the cluttered look and keep only functional pieces around your room—overcrowding makes the room seem smaller and unorganized. If you find an ornate piece you think is a must, get it! But make sure you limit the over-the-top pieces to a minimum.
Whether you rely on Pinterest or think of things on your own, put your creative hat on to figure out the most functional, thrifty, and aesthetically pleasing ways to utilize your space. For example, I have a lot of necklaces and a lot of wall space. I considered making my own jewelry board but had already spent my crafting budget elsewhere. So, I decided to take my extra mini Command strips and hang my necklaces on the wall (pictured at top). Voila! It’s thrifty, cute, and functional.
If you were lost on how to decorate your bedroom or apartment before—don’t fret now! There are simple ways to spice up your décor without too much effort, money, or time. So take some of my advice, get crafty, and your place will be the envy of all your friends in no time!
Every time I am on campus I notice a new warning sign for those who are tobaccoally-inclined. Recently, I’ve noticed the threat of $30 fines for those caught smoking on our Smoke and Tobacco Free University.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about how the non-smoking campaign has successfully diminished the number of times I reach for my smokes. I am strongly opposed to the smoking ban, but the fact that it has been effective for me is particularly upsetting.
Maybe other people haven’t noticed the change as much, because they aren’t negatively affected by our new policy. Non-smokers are generally relieved to have cigarette smoke moved off campus. Yet they don’t seem to be satisfied with merely pushing smokers off campus. It’s not that they don’t want them here or there. They don’t want them anywhere.
I’ve smoked a few times on campus since the new ban (fine me!), but mostly at night when there aren’t any people around to take offense.
Resting on the benches on the perimeter of campus was Michael Mazza. Michael is a student at UO and Michael is a smoker. I asked Michael for his thoughts on the STFU campaign.
Would you consider yourself a smoker?
“On and off.”
How do you feel about the smoking ban?
“It’s ridiculous… unnecessary.” He added, “a little more punitive than helpful.”
Has it affected your smoking habit?
“No.” Although Michael did admit that in between classes, he is often forced to decide between walking to the edge of campus to smoke, or else be useless for the first ten minutes of class.
Michael mentioned the smoking policy at Lane Community College, which had accommodated for its students several smoking sections. LCC has now made smoking only allowed in the parking lots.
Michael did not feel like an outcast, a pariah, but could understand how some might feel that way.
He also mentioned that smokers put up with a lot of behavior that they don’t necessarily agree with, yet we don’t ask for a school-sanctioned ban for validation.
For instance, the school sells plenty of junk food in its vending machines and cafeterias. But, students can make up their own choice about what kind of food they eat. I agree. I think the whole smoking on campus situation could have been handled with an open mind (say, designating a few, isolated smoking areas on campus) rather than with the toxic air of intolerance that is our STFU.
In her room that seems smaller than the size of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs, Ellie Howard manages to pull four different copies of her latest print from her print-making class titled “Victory” out from underneath her white iron-cast bed. Her long blonde-ash locks are pulled back into a messy ponytail and her fingers, stained with different colored paints, are dead giveaways as to what she had been doing for the past six hours. Her room is plastered with ripped-out pages from fashion magazines, an American flag fan, a flag from Sienna, Italy, small cut-outs of famous paintings, a billboard collage of colored ribbons, and photos. Her voice is calm, yet she has a spark of laughter that’s contagious. Cracking jokes left and right, she sits Indian style upon her floral-printed bedspread as she tells me of her passion for art.
I got the privilege of talking with Howard, a senior and artist majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Art History at the University of Oregon.
What inspires you the most?
“I don’t know how to narrow down what inspires me other than what strikes me at a moment. I was thinking of an instance that this happened to me the other day. In the EMU I saw this golden drinking fountain…. It had a plaque to commemorate somebody. [It was] in this weird stairwell that broke off and there was a brick wall with this golden drinking fountain. And I was like, ‘that’s the coolest thing ever.’ I felt like I wasn’t done thinking about it…. I really like flowers, I really like clothes and looking at what people are saying and doing.… It’s hard to narrow down. I have a lot of interests. I get a pull from all over.”
How long have you been making art?
“Since forever. I have one of those second memories like where you remember the incident, but you don’t remember anything else really. I was probably five-years-old and everybody was out playing on the playground. I was sitting alone drawing a picture of my family under a rainbow or something. In Kindergarten, when we had that sponge brush and we had all the different cut sponges. And we did the coolest thing ever… I was like ‘This. Is. Awesome!’ I think it sparked in Kindergarten.”
What’s your favorite medium?
“There’s so many types of ways to make things which I definitely learned in undergrad. Taking printmaking, which is something you don’t do too much in high school if you take art. I really liked printmaking, but it was really stressful. It’s cool to be able to make copies of stuff. I really, really like painting, but it’s a struggle sometimes. It’s hard to be original and find satisfaction in your own work when there’re a lot of other people like that. A lot of people make art. I like all different mediums.”
Which era of art would you go back to and why?
“Probably the late 1800’s in Paris and England because they had these great exhibitions and it was so romantic, the notion that everyone was going out to see what had been painted. It was more in the public eye, which is cool. That’s why people make things for other people to look at.”
Do you usually have an idea first and then create it or do you start off with a plank medium and work from there?
“It depends on the class. When I have a prompt, it’s kind of like going at it like a math equation or trying to think back to what I’ve thought about recently or what’s in my sketchbook or collage. If it’s a literary reference, I think about all my books or pick an image that is blank. You just fill in the blank with something that pertains to your interests. It’s almost easier coming up with something. The carrying out of it is the hard part because it never turns out exactly how you pictured; well, not never, just rarely.”
Ellie plans on graduating from the University of Oregon this Spring and moving back to her hometown of Lafayette, California where she will begin looking at internships abroad.