Thursday, September 22, 2011

Halloween costumes to scare your health educator: Wellness vs. Not-so-wellness

I've already started looking for a Halloween costume this year (can't resist a costume party). I was going through some websites and immediately started using my wellness lens to group the options into two categories: Wellness vs. Not-so-wellness.

I also used my SciFi lens to group costumes into the categories of ComicCon-worthy vs. Too-obscure-to-be-easily-recognized-in-grad-school-setting. But that's neither here nor there.

My top picks for Wellness costumes certainly don't imply that they need to be conservative, but that they could probably provide an educational component outside of a Halloween setting.

  1. First up we have healthy food options, including peas in a pod, adult sized carrot, and a nice big yellow banana. That's so wellness!
  2. Next, let's learn about sexual health with appearances from a Trojan condom, a giant boob (obviously promoting breast exams), the one-and-only Super Sperm, along with Captain Condom, and of course a giant penis with testicles. All perfectly appropriate wellness costumes!
  3. It might be a stretch, but this magazine cover bikini star costume could be an excellent talking point for a presentation on body image.
  4. Finally, I might even be willing to look past the strategic placement of the mouthpiece on this breathalyzer costume for the opportunity to discuss BAC levels.

  1. It's no surprise costumes themed around alcohol are common. Some simply represent products like Old Milwaukee, a simple bottle of beer, and a Colt 45.
  2. Then we move on to the larger quantities of alcohol, including the male beer keg, female beer keg, and a double-fisting beer wench.
  3. There are the glorified alcohol super heroes, including Duff Man, Duff Woman, Beer Man, and the party drinking leprechaun.
  4. Finally, the top two costumes that make me cringe: Blunt Master and Beer Pong Cup.

So there you have it, my picks for wellness and not so wellness costumes this year! I'm thinking about stocking up on some health foods and Trojan condom costumes - I could staff my own wellness theme park with these!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gateway to elfin kingdom found at BGSU's Steller Field

fairy ring elf circle mushroom pattern

I was driving past Warren E. Steller Field on my way into work this morning, and I noticed an amazing natural phenomenon growing inconspicuously in the lawn. It's a fairy ring, a portal to the whimsical netherworld of elfin kingdoms!

Ok, so fairy rings like these aren't really magic gateways. Rather, they are the outer edge of large underground fungi with mycelia growing out from a central point. This entire circle is one organism with multiple fruiting bodies poking through the grass, which creates the illusion of individual mushrooms placed in a strange pattern.

Without prior knowledge of the larger network of mycelia beneath the grass, or the fact that this is actually one organism growing out from a central point, it's no surprise that 12th Century Europeans would assume the rings were created by dancing elves and fairies. I mean, what else could it be, right?


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bars outnumber grocery stores in areas of high binge drinking

I love GOOD, but I also love being precise, so I felt compelled to acknowledge some of the mis-matched information in a post on Where Bars Outnumber Grocery Stores.

map of areas where bars outnumber grocery stores

The article presents a map of orange and red dots across the country, with red dots representing areas where bars outnumber grocery stores. The brief post concludes, "Here's the funny thing, though: This doesn't really correspond to where people drink the most."

First of all, the map of drinking across the country that "doesn't really correspond" is from 1996, and shows the Apparent Alcohol Consumption in Gallons of Ethanol for Population 14 Years and Older. Apparent alcohol consumption means the stats report the amount of alcohol purchased, so we can assume it was used for consumption and not for, I don't know, watering plants or something.

Looking back to the number of bars compared to grocery stores, the map's creator ( describes how the data represents the areas where bars outnumber grocery stores in the Google Maps directory as of August 2008 - so I don't know what you'd expect to find when comparing this information to apparent alcohol consumption in 1996.

I went looking for my own consumption maps for comparison, and I found that even the 2008-2009 data for Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older didn't quite fit. This could be because 12 year olds aren't allowed in bars (hopefully), and many grocery stores sell alcohol - so the number of bars is less relevant.

However, there was a map in the 2008-2009 data that lined up almost perfectly: Binge Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older. So, it appears binge drinking rates are more closely correlated to the relative number of bars vs. grocery stores than simply the amount of alcohol consumed, or percentage of drinkers in the area.

map of binge drinking by state

But which factor is influencing which? Are the number of binge drinkers creating a market for more bars to open, or are the number of bars creating communities with easy access and high visibility of alcohol?

Friday, September 16, 2011

QR codes on development mailers vs. txt to DONATE numbers

example of QR code on mailer

QR codes are definitely becoming more commonplace, but I'm pretty sure this is the first one I've received on a letter asking for money. QR codes on a development mailer are a fine idea, but it doesn't really save me any time. If I'm too "busy" to write a check and put it in the pre-addressed envelope, then I'm probably too busy to type all my billing information and credit card number into tiny fields on my phone.

If you REALLY want to save time, let's go back to 2007 and use the "text DONATE to 55555 to give $10 immediately" method. I love the "txt DONATE" numbers, and I am more likely to send a SMS while I'm microwaving my instant coffee than I am to hunch over my tiny iPhone screen and type out my credit card number.

Of course I really have no experience in this area, but I'm thinking the volume of super easy $10 donations would match the number of people writing out a check for larger individual contributions. Plus, if you're assuming your donors know how to use a QR scanner, you can safely assume they know how to text.

Maybe you could flash the number on the scoreboard at football games. "Help your team! Text DONATE to 55555 to give $10 to the Athletic Department Development Fund."

Maybe you could put it on a banner in the Rec Center. "Want new equipment? Text DONATE to 55555 to give $10 to the Rec Renovations Fund."

QR codes shouldn't replace these "txt DONATE" options just because they're newer.

Sidenote: What happened to Blackbird Pie? I'm using EmbedTweet now and I don't like it as much! It uses a javascript that turns any link to a tweet into that tweet.

Embed this tweet

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Check out my alcohol article in StudentAdvisor's Freshman Year: Survive & Thrive guide

beer pong is a tool of the devil

As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of seeing my name in print! That's why I'm so pumped to announce that an article I wrote is appearing in StudentAdvisor's Freshman Year: Survive & Thrive guide. I wrote about alcohol, and tried to poke fun at the awkward (or absent) alcohol talks that parents have with their first-year students - while at the same time providing the kind of information I would include in just such a talk (very sneaky).

The original title was "That Awkward Alcohol Talk: It's All About Plane Crashes" but it got changed to "Beer Pong is a Tool of the Devil?" in the actual publication. The new title is very eye-catching because beer pong and devil are definitely two loaded terms, and refers to the exaggerated perspective of an abstinence-only parent that I mention in the opening paragraph.

Now that I think about it, there are some potential concerns about releasing an article with "it's all about plane crashes" in the title in the same week as the 10th anniversary of 9/11... so yeah, probably for the best!

Here's an excerpt from the article (p.19):
Has it happened yet? If not, you’re in for a real treat. I’m talking about that awkward alcohol talk between you and your parents that is bound to happen sometime before or during your first year in college. The talks are usually quite short, and come in different styles ranging from the vague, “be responsible, honey,” to threats of corporal punishment, “I’ll beat the living daylights out of you," and even appeals to a higher power: “beer pong is a tool of the devil!”
I really like how the StudentAdvisor guide includes diagrams of the different alcohol serving sizes, and highlighted the top 4 risk-reduction techniques in a nice table. The stats and survey come from the Fall 2010 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment (ACHA - NCHA II), which is linked directly from the electronic guide.

I just did an interview with the BG News yesterday morning on the topic of Wine vs. Beer, which I hope will illustrate the differences in alcohol concentrations, among other things.

I'm on a roll!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekly reading: Institutional mission

This week's reflection is in response to Lyons, J. W. (1997). The importance of institutional mission. In E. J. Whitt (Ed.), College student affairs administration (pp. 136-144). Needham Heights, MA: Simon & Schuster.

In your own words, what is the author attempting to explain?
The author provides some historical context when discussion the history of higher education. Over the centuries, the goals have informed the mission of different institutions. Traditionally, the three missions of higher ed have been teaching, research, and public service - with different emphasis placed on each area.

Institutional missions are also informed by the unique heritage, geography, social organization, culture, and organized systems - which is why no two institutional missions are identical.

In what ways do the author's ideas reflect or contradict my educational experience?
There author describes a separation between the teleological mission and the "living mission" but I don't see why they can't be the same thing. I wouldn't argue in favor of revising the written mission on a yearly basis just to coincide with the "living mission." However, if you have one mission that is pre-planned and one that is just how things go, doesn't that create a major mis-match between espoused and enacted values?

In what ways do the author's ideas inform how I think about education?

This article got me thinking more about how I define 'liberal arts' because it describes several different examples of liberal arts programs. One that is more general and inclusive, and one that appears to be explicitly anti-applied-knowledge. 

What are the implications of these ideas for higher education generally and for my own practice in student affairs? In other words, what different actions do they encourage?

This article encourages professionals to be knowledgeable about the unique setting, culture, and history of their institutions in order to inform their understanding of the university mission. Understanding the mission goes beyond reading the written words, and has a lot to do with the context and history of the institution. 

What questions remain for me?

I have more questions about the subtleties of community college missions. If the VPSA of a community college is aware that things like "getting out of the house" and "to get out of prison sooner" are important motivators of students, why are they strategically worded in the mission or omitted? Does the mission have to be glossy and lofty, or can it be more straightforward and honest?

Friday, September 9, 2011

BGSU Stroh Center Rap celebrates donors and features student talent [video]

I think this is such a cool idea to produce a rap video about the Stroh Center donors. I'm also very impressed by the talented student performers: Mikey "Rosco" Blair and Rachel Willingham.

My favorite line is, "his name is Schmidthorst, 83% consonants; if you disrespect, you have to deal with the consequence."

The more skeptical I am of the True Colors test, the more I validate its results

Today at our staff retreat, we participated in a True Colors seminar where we identified our personality typology that corresponds to different, easier-to-remember color groups.

According to
"Green characteristics seek to increase the certainty of their own values through being assertive and requiring differences from others in intellectual areas. They are rarely settled in their countenance, since they depend upon information rather than feelings to create a sense of well-being. Green expresses the grounding of theory and data in its practical applications and creative constructs."
Of course, nobody is really a certain "type" all the time, so as I understand it, you are scored on different colors but typically display characteristics of a certain type.

My overall score is Green 23, Gold 15, Blue 12, and Orange 10. I've created a to-scale version of my color spectrum as the image at the top of this post - where the area of the squares is proportional to the score on my True Colors worksheet.

The activity was interesting and enjoyable, but I'm not sure how objective tests like these really are. Oh, a Green would definitely be skeptical of such a test! It seems that it has a lot to do with your own image, and preferences, and not much to do with an analysis of your behavior or interactions.

For example, when I saw the Green card with a photo of the recently retired space shuttle strapped to a pair of solid rocket boosters, my personal preference to think of myself as "scientific" and my love of outer-spacey TV shows probably had an impact over which card I would gravitate towards.

Apologies to anyone who is not familiar with the True Colors process, but my intent in writing this was not to outline the entire workshop.

As we heard more and more from the facilitator, it started to sound like astrology. You're like this unless you're not, you prefer this unless you don't. As a group, we ignored the misses and exclaimed over the hits. (See: Subjective Validation).

Now, there is a bit more rhyme and reason to a psychological theory compared to astrology, but a little subjective validation certainly doesn't hurt anything when you're trying to sell the idea that someone can be "like this" or "like that."

I'm just jaded towards typologies in general. Over-simplifications are acceptable when they help you make sense of your world - so if knowing that so-and-so is an Orange, and you need to be more patient, then great. That's a functional take-away message. Just don't get caught up in the smoke and mirrors of a typological test or take it too seriously (or use it to inform your hiring practices).

However, hypocritically, the more I over-analyze this process, the more I solidify my Green-ness, which paradoxically makes the instrument all the more valid!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Posting from the new Blogger iPhone app

Let's see how this goes! I'm posting from the brand new (and long awaited) Blogger iPhone app!

Now I have mobile access to post relevant and groundbreaking material at all times: Check out this picture of my cat!

I have no idea how the photo will look when it posts because it merely appears as an attachment - that's one inconvenience so far. And since I'm someone who is rather anal about having a standard image width (475px) for consistency, uploading without control over the placement is making me cringe.

Overall a very functional app, but if I'm going to post photos, I'll still need a "real" computer to satisfy my need for standard image width and image alt tags.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Our secular student group goes public in the school paper

article about secular organization in student newspaper

I really love having my name in the paper, it's such a boost during this otherwise stressful week! There's just something about having your name in print (actual print, not blog print) that makes you feel special, validated, and important. Yay!

Yesterday, during the executive board meeting for the Secular Society, we were interviewed by Mathew Davoli for a BG News profile of our student org. The full version of the story is online: "Secular organization aims for equality"

I'm really pleased with how the article turned out! I'm always afraid what I say will be taken out of context, and since this was the first article about our organization, I was a little anxious. Overall, I think our organization comes across as very rational and inclusive - which is a great way to be received by the student body overall!

So far things are going swimmingly, and our first general assembly meeting is tomorrow night. I'm still waiting for something to happen - I usually read about more controversy surrounding groups of non-believers on college campuses, so I'm remaining weary. Who is going to make the first snide comment? Who is going to tell me I'm going to hell, or that they'll pray for me? It remains to be seen, and I like it that way!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Checklist for helping a sexual assault survivor

This is an updated checklist for helping a sexual assault survivor that I designed in an attempt to simplify the order and importance of questions that should be addressed when helping or meeting with a sexual assault survivor. It is not a traditional flow chart or hierarchy - where preceding steps must be completed before continuing on. It is essentially a checklist, where dichotomous "Yes/No" questions are asked. If the answer is "Yes" the next step is listed on the left, and if the answer to the question is "No," the next step is found to the right.

Feel free to copy this format! The feedback I have gotten so far has been very positive. I think it is an easily readable guide that might come in handy when dealing with a difficult situation.

Click on the image to open a larger, high-resolution copy!

My 30-second commercial

If I was going to provide an overview of who I am, where I'm going, and what I'm good at in 30 seconds - it would go a little something like this:
Hi, my name is Eric Teske. I will be graduating in May with a degree in College Student Personnel. While attending Bowling Green State University, I worked as an intern for the Department of Recreation and Wellness in the Wellness Connection office. This role allowed me to serve as an advisor to undergraduate student organizations, coordinate large prevention programs, and organize health education outreach initiatives for the campus and surrounding community.

My experience at Bowling Green has given me the tools to plan, implement, and evaluate innovative student programs. With a focus on student development, I have a firm understanding of the challenge and support students require to learn and grow in a university setting. I am also proficient in the use of technology for marketing and assessment.

My career goal is to work at an institution of higher education as a health educator and eventually become a director of health promotion services. I possess excellent written and oral communication skills, with experience facilitating presentations for small groups and large audiences. I am a culturally competent and creative self-starter with a reputation for paying attention to details.
I think the "30-second commercial" activity is a great way to get into the resume / cover letter / interview mindset, and a great way to practice using expressive, precise language. Remember, like a good cover letter, your personal commercial should change based on your audience, and should be specific enough to include goals relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Playing beer pong with water doesn't make it an educational activity [comic]

I received an email asking if our office would be willing to provide handouts for an alcohol awareness event during Homecoming. I was told the event would have water pong and flip-cup with soda instead of beer, "to go along the whole safe way to having fun." Oh, is that not a good idea?

playing  beer pong with water