The Kick Off of Orientation 2011

       *Note: this post was written yesterday, but Duquesne’s internet wouldn’t allow me to post it.  So, I wrote it in a word document and kept it over night!

Today was the big kick off of Duquesne’s 2011 orientation.  All the freshmen were safely moved in and settled and it was time to get down to the real fun.

I started the morning by grabbing a quick breakfast with Lance and running to a team leader morning meeting.  We went over our game plan for the day and received our burgh bucks.  Burgh bucks are the fake money of orientation, and all the team leaders, chairs, advisors, and basically anyone of importance has them.  Every day we get a huge stack of burgh bucks to give to the freshmen to encourage participation, excitement, and mingling.  At the end of the week, we have a big auction where students can redeem their burgh bucks for prizes such as xbox 360, tv/dvd combos, gift cards to resturants, gift baskets, and clothes.

Let me say now that I love burgh bucks.  I love being a team leader, but being a team leader with burgh bucks is doubly great.  As a small girl, I was harassed at school.  I was the village idiot, I was the kid with the cooties, and I was excluded from nearly every recess game, every talking circle, and every group of friends.  I got made fun of for my love of animals, my buck teeth, and my hand me down clothes.  All I ever wanted to do was be liked. As a successful 20 year old, my love of animals is admired, my buck teeth are fixed, and I own new, stylish clothes.  However, my old insecurities have always haunted me.  I still wince when a teacher tells us to find a partner, I still shy away from events that have a lot of people I don’t know, and I still long to be the one people want to know, be approached by strangers, instead of always having the be the one seeking them out.  And burgh bucks fulfill that sick fantasy of mine.  I let all the freshmen know that I am available for all their questions, that I’m happy to help them if they ever need it, and that if they find me at events, I’m willing to reward their efforts generously.  And suddenly I’m grand central station.

But anyways, we got our burgh bucks and I went off to start campus tours.  I also happen to love giving campus tours.  I love my school, I love talking about my school, and I love teaching people about my school.  Plus, I love helping people.  I felt that my tours were quite unique to me.  I was willing to take the students anywhere they wanted to go, give them as much interesting and useful tidbits as I could and answer any and all questions that they might have.  I really tried to get to know them, and not just chuck information at them.  I honestly want to be able to walk down A walk half way through the year and still wave to some of them, or stop and talk.  I want to build bonds with people.  I gave some tours to some really awesome people.   I really hope that later, after all the burgh bucks are gone and life starts, they still remember me at least a little.

After tours we went to matriculation, the formal welcoming of the new students.  Matriculation was matriculation.  Long.  Formal.  Boring.  But, what could I do?  It was mandatory.  The one thing I do always get from matriculation is  a really strong sense of pride in my university, and an ever larger desire to share it with others.  I really love Duquesne.

After matriculation, we changed back into our team leader uniforms and rushed over to eat dinner and meet with our freshmen teams for the first time.  I was so impressed with my freshmen.  When I first saw their facebooks, I thought they were all going to be snobby little princess and chunky meat heads.  I really didn’t have much hope in bonding with them.  However, after  I met them, I realized they were actually concerned with what  I had to say.  They had questions and they were looking to me for answers.  They liked me.  They didn’t seem to know or care that my father makes far less than theirs nor that my haircut wasn’t designer.  Instead, they respected me and treated me like I was genuinely helping them and they genuinely wanted to get to know me.  I was so happy!

After our meeting, I opted to skip going to a performance by the Tamburitzans and let my future roommate come see our room so she could decide what she needed to bring.

Then, we went to the graffiti dance! 

The graffiti dance is where everyone wears a white t shirt, grabs a sharpie, and signs everyone else’s shirts.  Last year, I found it awkward and annoying.  This year, I had a blast!  Not only did I not care about looking like a dork dancing and signing everyone’s shirt, but I had all the freshmen I met throughout  the day coming up to me and talking and signing.  They all knew my name, they all remembered my face, and I didn’t feel like that awkward little girl that no one liked.  I felt like I kind of fit in.

The hardest part about orientation is not flirting with Lance.  We tend to be a rather cuddly couple, and there is a strict no flirting with freshmen rule.  So, for the rest of the week we have to kind of keep our distance (at least when I’m in uniform).  And it sucks.  But, I’m happy I can be down here with him, being a part of orientation, and at least supporting him if he needs me! 


Freshmen Move In – This Time As a Team Leader!

This year I decided to become a team leader for the freshman orientation for Duquesne.  Although orientation was  awkward and nerve-racking as I’m sure it is for every freshman, I had a lot of fun at orientation and the team leaders did such a good job getting me excited about being a part of Duquesne that I really wanted to try to do that for someone else. 

So, I did all my paperwork and interviews, got accepted as a team leader, hitched up the wagons a week early and headed back to help this years freshmen get acquainted with the university.

Being a team leader is great.  Its high energy, its fun, and its rewarding.  You get to go to all the orientation events, like the comedians and dances, you get to move in when no one else is, and you get to be the first one to make an impression on all the new faces of Duquesne.

That is, after you get them all moved in first.  All 1500 or so.

I don’t think freshmen move in is fun for anyone.  Orientation chair people spend the day dealing with traffic, road rage, and broken items.  Team leaders deal with pushing around an endless number of carts, waiting in long lines, and cramming into tiny elevators.  Parents deal with their own emotions or losing their child and their strange expectations that they are paying all this money to send their kid here, so they should get special treatment (we all pay almost the same!) and freshmen deal with awkwardly meeting roommates, their parents blowing up, their own emotions of leaving their family and staying in a strange place, and their disappointment with a tiny dorm.  It’s an emotionally charged day and we are in the middle of it.

As team leaders, we are instructed to keep things as light as possible.  Do chants, cheers, smile, hob knob with the freshmen and over all try to keep things exciting and happy for the new student.  At the beginning of the day, its easy.  We’re amped and excited, charged on caffeine and adrenaline from bogging.  But after 5 hours of countless cars, countless comforters, and smelling bad, it started to get old.  I also, however, started noticing some trends about people.

  1. girls never pack less than 2 carts full of things.
  2. boys never pack more than 1 cart full of things
  3. mothers never stay at the car to help pack the 2nd cart, even though they will be right behind us in the elevator line
  4. girls really don’t want their fathers around on move in day
  5. mothers really don’t want their husbands around on move in day
  6. poor fathers/husbands don’t know what to do on move in day.  They break down boxes and sit in the lounge congratulating each other on their daughters going to Duquesne
  7. mothers are more pissed about St. Martin’s tiny rooms than the kids are
  8. the parents set up the freshmen’s dorm room.  The kids have no say until after they leave
  9. The kids really aren’t thinking about the classes that start in a week.  So a parent asking what the best strategy for classes are and trying to force their kid into listening is hitting a brick wall.
  10. The elevator is my friend.  I’d rather be his friend than be on HL crew (heavy lifting!  Don’t laugh, its our elevator cheer!)

By the end, I started getting text messages from Lance saying he was down at school and wanting to hang out.  Of course then I was agnsting to get out.  I’ve been waiting for him to be down here for so long, but now suddenly I’ve started getting nervous too.  Our whole relationship he has been in high school, with the same people, and I’m not a real fan of change, so I have a million crazy insecurities flying through my head.  Better yet, his parents were extremely strict in school (read: controlling) so I haven’t exactly seen any of his own decisions.  And honestly, for you mothers of boys, I’ve  yet met a good, well-behaved freshmen boy.  Most go through their first year in a drunken stupor, waking up in the hall way or in some random girls bed.  Needless to say, this is the make it or break it year for us, and although he’s never given me any reason to doubt him, I’m still nervous. 

Today is another fun-filled day of, you guessed it, moving in freshman from 11-4.  Let’s go Dukes!





Happy Birthday iFeathers!

A year ago today, iFeathers was born and began making its first mark on cyber space.  And what a year it has been! 

In the last year, we have made 43 posts.  Between 2 of us and 365 days in a year, that’s  pathetic.  So, we’re going to try to make the next year even better, and at least double that number.  However, over the last month or two, we’ve both been doing a lot to post more frequently and come up with new things to write about.  And I can at least say that it has gotten easier with time.

Some other big milestones for us: we’ve gone from averaging in 0-2 views per day to averaging in 3-7 views per day.  wooo!  We’ve even hit big numbers like 19 and 20 views a day!  Which, from 0, that’s a big number. 

We’ve had 415 views in our lifetime (our own views don’t count), 4 views so far today, and have 3 active subscribers!  We’ve also gotten a lot of views on our ‘strange’ posts, such as our tattoos and furries, thanks to google!

In the last year, I have attended and completed my first year at Duquesne University.  I went through 2 roommates, realized how shallow and mean girls could be, and had my eyes open that life isn’t easy.  I learned to salsa dance, started an animal welfare club on campus, and put in over 50 hours of shadowing with veterinarians.  I started a new job as a vet tech, learned to work two jobs, and made many, many new friends.  I went white water rafting, learned how to live off of $100 every other week, and realized brand name prices were out of my reach and overrated (at least for now).  I got a second tattoo, grew my hair out, and got my first credit card.

Lance has graduated from high school and been accepted into Duquesne’s biology and environmental science program.  He has tested out of first year biology and has been allowed to advance to the more difficult sciences.  He turned 18 and registered to vote. He has advanced into the night stock position and learned to work more hours than ever before.  He has learned what the true meaning of ‘friend’ is, what happens when you bite off more than you can chew, and how to handle and manage his finances.  He grew a goatee and got his first tattoo.  He became financially responsible for himself in many ways, and truly grew up over the last year.  (I couldn’t be prouder or love him more).

Its been a busy year.  A hard year in many ways, but its been great too.  Theres been times where I’ve wanted to shut this whole blog down, and there’s been times that I’m so glad I started.  It’s been a rollercoaster.  But all in all, I’m so pleased with the progress we’ve both made, in our lives, with our birds, and with this blog.  And I’m so glad to see more and more people are reading and enjoying what we have to say.

Thank you, readers, for keeping me motivated enough to continue posting, and for giving me the opportunity to have a blog family to share it with!   Heres to a new year, and see what we can make of it!

Happy birthday iFeathers!

Bella’s New Cage!

I bought Bella a new cage through and it came yesterday.  So far, she isn’t real thrilled.  Because it was so big, I had to move it out into the dining room instead of the living room, which she doesn’t like, and its just new, so she doesn’t like it.  But, its huge and filled with all kinds of great perches, so I’m sure after she settles into it she’ll enjoy it.  While she thought I wasn’t watching this morning, she crawled over and started investigating some of her new toys.  And she thinks she has me fooled lol.

I was very happy with the service, price, and value of bird cages 4 less.  My cage shipped relatively quickly (7 days) and came in good condition.  It was easy to put together, and it is a huge cage for $150.  Plenty of space for Bella to explore!

The Financial Aid Blunder of the Decade Finally Patched Up!

Going to school is expensive.  Like, ridiculously expensive.  And unlike most of my friends, I am not the daughter of a doctor or a lawyer.  My dad remodels bathrooms and my mom works at a call center.  Needless to say, they are not paying for my $40,000 a year in tuition. 

I rely heavily on government money and scholarships.  I’m always stalking fastwebs and college prowler.  I’m a resident of the financial aid office.  And the FASFA is my Bible.  I’m also the first out of my family to attend college, so navigating through the swamps of financial aid is completely new, confusing, and intimidating.  And mistakes can cost me my tuition.   I recently had one of those mistakes happen, and up until today, I didn’t know if I would be going back to college on the 12th.

I file my FASFA in the first week of January to give myself the best chance at all the money available.   I had filed, turning in all my paper work, and felt confident that everything would be fine.  However, somewhere along the line, my income had gotten changed from $3,800 a year to $38,000 a year.  A mistake that made my entire financial aid package some $14,000 shorter than it had been last year. 

Of course, I went into panic mode.  Tough questions like ‘where can I transfer to?’ ‘Will I have to take a year off’, and ‘how am I going to get this money?’ plagued me all summer.  I corrected the mistake on the paperwork, but there was no guarantee that I would be getting all the money I had the year before.  If I took a year off, the chances of me getting into vet school become slimmer than they had been before.  Not to mention I would be nearly 30 before I graduated, which isn’t really something I’m willing to do.  So, a year off would mean no becoming a vet.  It would also mean Lance and I would be stuck in at least another year of a 45 minute drive relationship, which after 2 and a half years of being separated and seeing each other once a week wasn’t something I really wanted to do either.

However, this morning my financial aid package came in and I indeed got nearly the same amount of money I got last year.   I have enough that I can go back to school, and I know now to double, triple, and quadruple check those figures.

I can breathe easy for another year!  Duquesne, here I come!

Habitat Manipulation

Ahh the quintessential  cage, standard issue with two dishes near the bottom and two straight round half-inch perches. How I hate them.

Now this is an important topic to me because I believe every animal should be kept in the most natural way possible. It is one of the strange quirks I have from my time at the aviary and zoo this year. While birds are our pets, I think they still deserve to have a natural existence.

Cage design and habitat manipulation to many people probably mean about the same thing. To me each of these two phrases mean something totally different. My definition of cage design is where a human designs a bird’s cage based on factors like appealing looks, functionality (aka less cleaning), and many ideas of the “Right thing” for their birds. Habitat manipulation on the other hand is where a human picks and arranges a cage and its accessories  in a way that mimics nature to make the birds life more interesting, natural, and healthy. Now I believe everybody wants whats best for their bird and I’m not saying my way is the best, but this is generally how I go about picking and designing a cage.

When I choose a cage I think about what type of bird will be living in it. In the wild some birds like budgies and cockatiels spend their day flying from place to place in search of food while  others like macaws and conures use climbing as their primary mode of transport. Most people do not factor this into their choice of cages for birds. If Im choosing a cage for a cockatiel or budgie I would choose a wider and deeper cage before worrying about how tall it was. If I was choosing a cage for a conure I would want a taller cage. Not only does this allow for a more natural environment for the bird but they will also utilize more of their cage. Another thing I look for is a cage with higher food dishes. In the wild most bird would eat while high in the trees not near the ground also this prevents debris and droppings from falling in their cup. The final thing i look for in cages is size. I like to always give a bird more room then it needs. WIth a larger cage there is more room to work with when adding things in and better options for food placement. 

Choosing the cage is just the first step in my process. The Second step is adding things in and just like with everything else I try to mimic nature as much as possible. In nature no two perches are the same size, length texture, roughness, all varies and lends to foot and claw care. when I choose perches for my cage they generally are all different size thicknesses and lengths, and I try to get bendable and different textured perches. Jules’s cage has two rope perches both a different thickness and length, one natural wood perch that is much thinner than any of his other perches, a thicker pediperch, and two standard issue wood perches. When I arrange these perches i try to make them also mimic nature I don’t focus all of the perches in one area I position them throughout the length and height of the cage. This wide array of perches situated at different heights allows the bird to have a choice of where in his cage he wants to be and what he wants to stand on. Another thing I do differently is I try to put the food dishes away from the bottom, and treat dishes I move around each time I put them in the cage. This mimics nature with food high in the “trees” and the bird having to look for and examine different types of food. I also like to cover my food sometimes with paper shreds to make the bird “forage”. 

All of these things I believe makes a bird life more natural and helps them stay healthy and happy. Next you design your birds cage try doing it in a way to mimic nature. You might also start calling it Habitat manipulation.

iFeathers is Getting a Makeover

I was getting tired of the same old boring look that we have had for the last year, so I decided to give our site a facelift! 

Currently, we have tutti fruti bananas as our banner until I get around to making a new one.  Sorry.  But parrots like bananas, so somehow it ties into birds, right?  Not really lol.  Until I make a new banner at least you will all be encouraged to eat a lot of fruit!

Anyways, I’m having issues and I know there are a lot of other bloggers out there who might be able to help!  So, any other wordpress users, HELP!!!

I cannot for the life of me figure out the stupid gravitar image.  When I leave people comments, I have the generic block pattern as a picture, and at the top of my screen I have a little monster image.  I would ultimately like to get a picture of us or one of our birds as our image, so people don’t think I’m a total noob all the time, but I seem to be incapable of making it work. 

Also, if anyone has any suggestions on any widgets I could add or anything else that I could do that would spice this page up a little, let me know!  My creativity seems to seep away every time I see the little monster still standing at the top of my page. 

So, drop us a line, write us a comment and let us know!