Cihacekj’s Weblog

September 21, 2008

Grass is Certainly Greener on the Other Side

Filed under: Economy — Jessica Cihacek @ 6:31 pm

People generally think I’m crazy when I tell them I live in a house where at any given moment there’s typically more dogs residing than girls.  A chocolate lab by the name of Moose, a Yorkie by the name of Ollie and now, a Westie by the name of Riley occupy the majority of my roommates’ time.  Now that two of them are becoming potty trained (the dogs, not my roommates), I’m noticing patches of greener, more plush grass in our front yard.

This stuff really does work, huh?  In a suffering economy, more farmers and landowners are turning to, not necessarily dog poo, but manure in general, as a more cost-efficient mean to fertilization.  I see why.  So does UNL.  On the manure management page of the University’s website, it provides information on air quality, environmental planning, manure value, and hey, for those interested, storage and handling techniques!  Thanks to a manure management team, this information is available to those concerned with rising oil prices and the effect this has on cultivation in a predominantly agricultural state.

A lot goes into spreading manure though, including inspection of the cow/calf/ranch operation, application fees, regulations, nutrient management plans and assured air quality.  So is the change from petroleum-based fertilizers to “enriched” fertilizers really worth a few bucks?  Perhaps this is a question for someone knee-deep in it and understands just how much manure a few cows can generate.  A study conducted out of Oregon State University says that one cow can fertilize 1.5 acres.  If you’ve ever been to a farm, ranch, or acreage, you know there is typically more than one cow per acre.  At this rate, manure starts to pile up pretty fast.  Pollution begins to be the obvious downfall.  But there are ways to get around it, and UNL’s manure management website is there to help.

With this said, the majority of soil scientists around the area can safely agree that if you’re spending money on fertilizer, stop.  If you’re spreading manure, do it carefully, to see that the grass just really may be greener on the other side.


September 14, 2008

Making a difference this Spring Break

Filed under: Entertainment — Jessica Cihacek @ 6:56 pm

Talk is already circulating around UNL’s campus about student spring break plans.  When a trip to Jamaica or Cancun costs upwards of $1,000, now is the time to start saving dollars for the excursion.  But when I’m still paying off a summer stay in New York, it’s depressing to think that I may finish my college career without ever having attended an exotic spring break vacation.  I know there are others out there who are in the same boat as I; who simply cannot afford an all-inclusive, beach resort, club scene, party central, Havana heaven getaway.

So, what’s a student to do?  Think of an alternative of course, and perhaps follow my lead this year.  Spring break’s purpose is to let lose, have fun, enjoy a riveting experience and to get away from the classroom, the papers, the lectures and yes, even the professors.  By no means am I promoting mission trips, rather, encouraging others (along with myself) to at least consider other venues to let lose, have fun, and enjoy a riveting experience.

When mission trips (especially relatively close ones) can range anywhere from $100-$600, it’s nice to imagine a spring break that can be paid for through only a couple month’s savings or for some, through a little pocket change.  When volunteers can choose a variety of locations such as Mexico, Costa Rica, India, or for the rookies, Toronto, Chicago, even St. Louis, it’s easy to pick a destination yet to be visited.  Many mission trips, especially those offered through FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) allow a day or two for students to experience the nicer areas of these “hot spots.”

Sure, a lot of work goes into mission trips.  A student can expect to be doing hard labor in what tends to be not so pleasant weather, seeing disturbing images of malnourished children, witness families in the poorest conditions, and find him or herself sleeping in a church, shack, or soup kitchen instead of a five-star hotel and resort.  But it is truly the life-changing experience and relationships you build that I believe is so much more valuable than a week spent in the Florida Keys.  Best of all it is a time of personal challenge and personal growth.  A week without ipods, television, makeup, computers, etc.  A week spent examining your strengths, weaknesses and what you’re capable of doing.

The children you meet, the families you help, the community you provide for always end up being  blown away at the care and compassion shown for them.  Mission trips truly provide a sense of inner-worth.  And while you may not return with beautiful, scenic pictures of beaches and night clubs, what you’ll bring back will be engraved in your mind and heart forever.  Challenge yourself.  Consider a mission trip this spring break, save a few hundred dollars while doing so, and I dare you…compare your story with a friend who visited Puerto Vallerta.

September 8, 2008

Change is coming!

Filed under: Politics — Jessica Cihacek @ 9:24 pm

“Change is coming,” said John McCain.

But is it the same kind of “change we can believe in” that Obama promises?  At this point, polls show that a good majority of Obama supporters, like myself, are fairly certain on their pick for president.  Until last night, anyway.  Open minded independents with a liking for Barack Obama may have seen John McCain in a different light after his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last night.

His oratory skills are still far from perfect, but McCain showed character in his carefully selected words, the stories he told, and the humility he exemplified.  He admitted his early stages of selfishness and pride as a young military man, but furthermore, explained what caused his change of views in what he and America truly stand for.  No longer was he his own man, but his country’s man.  For this reason and many more, he’d continue to fight for the rest of us.

What’s the easiest way to rally your supporters?  Highlight the opponent’s faults and cast a whole lot of mudlsinging, of course.  It wasn’t so much about bashing Obama this time, though.  I think we’re all aware that McCain’s running mate and spitfire, Sarah Palin, did plenty of that the previous night.  It was about comparing the issues at hand.  It was explaining his hate for war, but his understanding of how it should be utilized.  It was his response to education and why it shouldn’t concern American bureaucrats but American families.  It wasn’t even about the better party, but a better nation in general.  This was the first I’ve heard the man speak with a bipartisan voice, and I like that in a leader.

While Obama could smooth over any crowd with his poise, composure and grace, McCain showed an incredible amount of personality and good will.  Last night’s speech wasn’t about his shaky words, his random stutter, or his lack of animation.  It was about John and not McCain.  I think both parties certainly appreciated this.

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