The Last Post

I Finally Get To Go Home And Sleep

(But I’ll Tell You About The Good Times Too)

Seeing as how this post will appear at the top of my blog’s feed, I suggest you scroll down and see what I’ve seen in the past three weeks. Do you see all the beautiful places I’ve been? Or do you just see some mountains and some city streets? To those of you reading this to learn what your HSI experience will be, try to see them as beautiful while you experience them, because for me looking back, they all are.

Maybe I wasn’t as excited as I should have been when I first came here. Three weeks is a large chunk of a person’s summer after all. But I’ve met people here I may never have met otherwise. I’ll miss them. I’ll think about them every now and again, wonder what they’re doing. They’re my new classmates, and it’s going to be rough not seeing them everyday, at least for a little while.

Through this class, I’ve been forced to think about these things. I probably would have eventually, but now that I have to tell you the story, the details are still fresh in my mind. From this class I’ve learned that practice makes perfect, in writing and art as well as other endeavors. I’ve learned how to turn photography into art, how to anticipate moments that need to be captured, and that we should think about why we do what we do.

Robotics is another story. I can’t say it was the best time of my life, but I can say this: I have practiced perseverance and acceptance of new ideas due to the type of work that was required of me in that class. So, if you have a class that you think by definition blows, remember that the last day will come, and you will have learned something.

The best part of HSI was probably our movie night. Mostly because it was our movie night, no PC’s had to arrange it for us, no one told us what we could or could not watch, we were free to run our own show. We announced to the girls we had become closest to that we were watching 10 Things I Hate About You in my room, and everyone piled in on the floors, chairs, desks, and beds to watch it on a tiny tablet screen. We talked and laughed, and I realized early on that these girls would be my friends.

As a person, I haven’t grown much. I feel like I’m the same personality-wise, anyways. I have, however, tried things I never would have got to if I hadn’t sacrificed my summer to this place. Since I’ve been here I’ve:

  • Ridden a hover board
  • Tried calamari
  • Learned that we are all essentially made of stardust
  • Watched The Fantasticks for the first time
  • Seen the graffiti downtown
  • Learned to swing dance
  • Played volleyball with my high school rivals
  • Learned around eighty names in about twenty days

I’ve been ready to be on my own for a while now. This program has shown me that I can do it. Maybe not financially, but you know. Brain power-wise. I’ve made connections that will help me in the future, lived without my parents and with a roommate. I’m essentially an adult. With no means of supporting herself. But I didn’t know it would be such an easy adjustment before this camp, so I’m grateful to know college won’t be as awful as I’d marked it up to be in my head.

Those aforementioned connections are really going to help me out. In my first post, I mentioned that I wanted to be a photojournalist. This class has shown me that I can do it, and I can be good at it. It has taught me how. So for that, I’m grateful.

I wouldn’t do anything differently if I relived HSI. I mean, I’d like to tell myself that I would but, I wouldn’t. It’s been great here. My advice is, find a core group of friends to spend your free time with, but be open to everyone. That’s what makes meeting people so easy and effortless here. The people here are the best part.

When I get home, I’ll probably be very vague about what happened here when people ask. “They only let me have seven hours of sleep.” “I had to take robotics class. I suck at robotics.” “I met some cool people.” “It was fun.” Chances are you’d do the same. But I know it has been better than I could tell the people who haven’t experienced it. And if you’re one of the people reading this at the beginning of next year, know that you’re lucky to get to. I didn’t think so at first, but it’s sappily true.


Conservatory Photos

As our last trip on the last day of HSI, we took a trip to the conservatory to take pictures of the most reliable subjects in existence: plants. They don’t move, or make stupid faces at you, and they’re always pretty. So. This’ll be the last real photo adventure.

And Tango Makes Three

On Book Banning in Public Facilities

The children’s book And Tango Makes Three has been regularly banned from libraries due to its controversial content, that content being a story of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo raising an egg together. After listening to it, I know my parents wouldn’t have read it to me as a kid. The book introduces the idea of homosexual couples in a vague, inexplicit way that may engage young children to further ponder the issue. And my parents would have shielded me from that.

Maybe they would have been right to. Many parents take a “pro-censorship” standpoint in the discussion of book banning due to the influence books can have on actions and character of their children. But others would argue that the First Amendment, which declares freedom of speech, is suppressed by book banning. Some parents may try to introduce their children to concepts discussed in commonly banned books.

Honestly, if I had a kid, I don’t know if I would read them And Tango Makes Three. Dodging the topic seems like an easier way out. (We can all see how great of a parent I would be).  But I don’t think that a public library has the right to ban a specific book because of its content. The First Amendment gives us freedom of press, and people should be able to view a wide variety of this media in their public facilities. Some may argue that they don’t want their tax dollars going towards controversial books, but we have to remember that the times are changing. At some point, science books would have been controversial. Yet the library has shelves stacked with them. We need to be able to accept the opinions of others, though we don’t necessarily have to agree with them. Limiting someone’s potential to gain new insight from a book is unwarranted.

I have a funny story about a controversial book, actually. Some of you may have heard of Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, my accounting class arrived first thing in the morning to find that someone had left a copy of it on the counter. Of course we all laughed and guessed at the reader, joking about the scandal of it all. Later in the hallway my cousin, Tatem, comes up behind me and asks where she left her copy of the book.

Obviously I thought it was hilarious. Maybe you won’t. But the thing is, nobody limited Tatem from reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t know that it’s available in our school library, but I would be willing to bet it’s at the public library. No one has ever really limited me from choosing what I wanted to read. As a kid when I rode my bike to the library, if I asked the librarian for a book she didn’t have, she’d order it for me. My parents encouraged me to read whatever I want, though I’ll admit sometimes they’ve given me skeptical glances. But possibly their demeanor is due to the fact that they sheltered me early on, building a trustworthy foundation for future actions and attitudes.

Scrolling through the list of commonly banned books, I’ve only read about six of them. Most of them were actually very good, and they all made me think more openly or more deeply. Having that experience, I can say that I don’t agree with book banning in public facilities. Sheltering young children from explicit material and entirely denying people the right to view a piece of media are entirely different things. No one can really ban a book, not when there are people willing to read it.

Body Image in Media

Why Do Companies Idealize Certain Body Types?

We can see in our day to day media that particular body types are displayed, for both men and women. Girls are supposed to be toned, show off their bodies. Men are expected to be strong, muscular and chiseled. We should strive to look like the models and actors, the media tells us. Even if it means changing the way  that we look naturally.

Actually, most models idealize a healthy lifestyle through their leanness. But behind the scenes, a lot of work is put into appearing so in shape, so much work that the average person will not be able to keep up. But maybe being different is a good thing. If we could all be model-thin, diversity would be lost. No one would be strangely tall or petite, but the gene pool would result in a sort of cookie-cutter breed of human. Society would find something else to strive for based off of appearance, maybe something more physically or emotionally damaging.

I’d say that everyone has been affected by media images at some point in their lives. Who doesn’t look at the magazine covers and wish they could be that tanned and toned? It’s near impossible to avoid. My friends, of course, do not escape this, and neither do I, but we all look to different idealizations in a way. A couple of my friends are very absorbed by the perfect hair and makeup image that the media portrays, while the rest of us focus more on athletic appearance goals. Media images are handled in different ways by different people.

So how should the media promote a change in body image? Honestly, by adding more diversity to their magazine covers, movies, and models. By breaking stereotypes for characters and introducing role models for younger generations that aren’t image-orientated. The media can change the way we see the world, make humanity less inclined to stereotypes by changing up the typical. And we, as part of society, can do our part in acceptance by not attempting to change one another. Don’t pressure guys to go to the weight room just to get swole, but because it’s healthy. Stop giving little girls role models their age who wear bikinis and makeup. Focus on the things that matter more than body image.



Snowy Range Photography

Our Last Full-Fledged Field Trip

We made a quick trip up the mountains to take pictures at the beginning of this week, and I found that Laramie’s mountain range is slightly different from the Bighorns. The snow and water are more plentiful, and the switchbacks on the way up and down are less sharp. It was pretty, and it reminded me a little bit of home. Only four more full days of HSI!

How Do Horror Films Use Next-Step Reality?

Next-step reality. That’s what we’re going to call the heightened reality that commonly appears on television. This technique allows people to engage with a story by making connections with characters and common occurrences or settings. In horror films, the movie or TV show is often opened with these sort of average, typical people and settings. This allows us to make the connection that we are in a similar situation, and adds to the scariness of events yet to come.

That scariness is what “sweetens” the posed reality and makes us interested in the story at hand. Usually horror movies gradually pick up paranormal happenings and lead to one grand, terrifying event. This allows us to slowly adapt the aforementioned posed reality and become a part of the show. The technique allows horror films to frighten us, make us think there is something hiding under our beds when we go to sleep. It’s what makes horror films worth watching.

Coming from a group of friends that have horror movie festivals, I can say quite certainly that the horror industry does an amazing job hooking viewers with these techniques. Sadly, I usually get super excited during the opening scenes of a movie and then become disappointed with the ending. But it’s all relative. People who like horror films’ next-step reality will continue to watch, and those who don’t won’t. Different genres use the same concepts in different ways, allowing different groups of people to latch onto different versions of next-step reality.


Biodiversity Center and Geological Museum

Taking pictures at UW’s Biodiversity Center and Geological Museum proved somewhat difficult due to the artificial lighting of the buildings. This was especially true at the Geological Museum, where no flash was too dark, but flash drowned out most of my pictures. I learned to take a picture several different ways, and to check to see if one way was working better. This is something my previous photography teachers had always told me, but I typically don’t adhere to the rule of thumb.

Media Consumption

Part of becoming media literate is analyzing how the media affects you. Below are the general outlines of my media consumption throughout the typical day.
Media Routine

Usually at some point during the day, I check Facebook to see what’s going on with the people I know. It’s how I learned that there was a tornado near my hometown and what happened at Days of ’49 (our local parade) while I’ve been away. I would say I don’t spend more than ten minutes on Facebook throughout the course of a day, even if I check it multiple times. Commercials are inevitable, from Pandora ads to TV commercials. Since I listen to music so much, I would say that a large amount of time (20-30 minutes) are spent listening to YouTube or Pandora ads. Then of course there’s billboards, newspapers, and flyers, which for the most part I ignore.

News Consumption

Usually at the end of the day when I come home, my parents are watching some sort of news. My father tends to watch more Fox News, and my mother is typically more CNN. These news sources are so different, it’s easy to pick out political swaying and multiple interpretations of stories. I can’t say that either news source is entirely reliable. Another source is our local newspaper, the Greybull Standard, which reports basic events that happen in our town. This is a generally unbiased source, and it offers valid event information that can be verified simply.


As previously stated, I listen to a lot of Pandora. When I’m cleaning, doing homework, riding my bike, doing my chores, in the car, some form of radio is with me.  Netflix is also a big influence on the advertising I receive from entertainment, as they typically only promote shows produced by their corporation. My parents don’t really have influence on the advertising that reaches me, even when they regulate what media I use, because companies are so proactive about spreading news of their products.

Ads are everywhere, and it sort of bothers me when I start to think about it. But for the most part, advertising is something we’ve all learned to ignore, and most of us only become interested by promotions that are genuinely relevant as we become older.



This week our class took a trip to Cheyenne and visited the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, a state newspaper press. After viewing the inner workings of the paper, we spent some time in downtown Cheyenne taking pictures.

Online Identity?

Colleges Using Social Media to Select (Or Reject) Students

I actually debated a topic similar to this for my FBLA project, “Is it ethical for employers to look at an applicant’s social media before hiring them?” In this instance, my partner and I chose to stand in affirmation of the question at hand. It seemed logical to us through our research, as we discovered that over half of Fortune 500 companies use this method in order to find employees. Social media is a way to reach out to potential employers and show them an aspect of your personal life that could attribute to your application. Additionally, spreading awareness that what you post online could affect you should make people think twice about what they post, making social media a better place for everyone.

We discovered as we read the many ways what you post online can show your main personality type, values, beliefs, and hobbies. We learned that businesses cannot judge an applicant based on their age, gender, or race for fear of being sued. I cannot say that privately owned colleges must follow the same guidelines, but everything we looked at made social media seem like a good thing for business, and in this sense, a good thing for schools. My partner and I did well with our argument, and came in second place at state, so we must have known what we were talking about a little bit.

From the perspective of a kid that sees her peers using social media to express themselves, quite accurately for the most part, I can see the value colleges find in applicants’ social media as well. It may not be the most ethical way of research, but it is most definitely effective. I will point out that many people have been fired or excluded from application due to their social media, but this is not without reason.  One of our main examples was the veterinarian (from Wyoming, unfortunately), who shot a cat and posted a picture of herself on Facebook. She was fired, had her license to practice revoked, and was put on probation for two years after she could yet again practice. Some may see this occurrence as harsh, but in reality, that vet was the face of a company, and when a face starts turning away customers, its removal is practically inevitable.

So how should students, or even adults, portray themselves online? I’d say, however you see fit. Be yourself online, because chances are you’re going to want to be able to do that in any job or school you may acquire. If people can’t accept you for who you are, they’re not the people you want to be spending your time with. On the other hand, if you get arrested, don’t put it online. Simple filtering provides a clean, hospitable place for people of all ages on social media. And don’t forget to spellcheck. It may not matter now, but when you’re applying for that English teacher’s job, it sure will.