Author Archives: TechPhek

LGBT Profile

The petite girl sat poised in front of her silver computer. She took a few breaths to prepare herself. She opened her mouth and sang.

Amanda Rivet is an 18 year old at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). She is a freshman in the Game Design and Development program and has achieved a level of fame on the Internet for her creations, including her singing. Her confidence in herself took a long time to reach this level. The harsh reality of bullying had damaged her self-esteem for many years.

Rivet participated in beauty pageants in her home town of Silver Creek, New York. “My mom pushed me to do them,” Rivet said. To prepare her for appearances on stage, she went to dance and singing lessons, from first grade until senior year of high school.

Her first pageant was at age 7, where she took third place overall. Her second pageant at age 9 was when she won the best talent prize, and her final pageant at age 12 saw no accolades.  As she grew older, Rivet lost interest in putting herself in front of others to be publically judged. “I told mom that I didn’t feel right doing it,” she said. “A lot of the girls were really cliquey. I felt like the odd one out.”

While the other girls happily partook in the competitions, Rivet would rather write, play video games or play around on the family’s computer. The feeling of being the odd one out stretched into her school life as well. In 6th grade Rivet found herself with only one friend, another girl. There were rumors in school that she was a lesbian. “A bunch of the ‘friends’ I had turned around and called me a lesbo or lesbian because the only friend I had held my hand whenever I got bullied,” Rivet wrote on her website.

One day, Rivet realized that she was attracted to girls. She became public about her sexuality in the 8th grade.  Rivet had her first girlfriend at this time, but they broke up after an incident at school. “[Other students] reported me for kissing my girlfriend on the cheek when other couples were making out in the hallways. I almost got suspended for PDA (public displays of affection), which was hand-holding and kissing on the cheek.”

After experiencing Silver Creek Central’s hypocrisy, Rivet tried to be straight to quell the physical and verbal harassment she experienced every day. “Being straight was not something I was comfortable with,” said Rivet. Some of the students that harassed her had parents that worked in the school, so the administration did not believe her claims. The National School Climate Survey found that eight in ten LGBT students have been verbally harassed at school, and that four in ten have been physically harassed.

“In 10th grade, I just didn’t give a shit anymore,” Rivet said. She dated other girls and did not care what others thought about her. “Once I hit 12th grade, the bullies were all gone,” she said. Once she came to RIT, she felt much more comfortable than in her conservative hometown.

Rivet, with her new-found self-confidence, used her skills from her pageant days to spread the message of love, tolerance and friendship online. Diana Rodriguez, 22, is a friend of Rivets who was seen the result of her struggles.

“I think that it made her stronger,” Rodriguez said.” Now she cares less about what other people think about most things, but there’s also a shyness and carefulness about her. When people actually make their way into her circle of friends, I think she cares more about what they think.”

As Rivet found herself in the understanding environment of RIT, she blossomed into a confident individual. Rivet said, “The true friends who stood by my side were all that mattered. My academics were gonna get me somewhere in life. And they are. Things are only going to get better from here.”

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Filed under Nonfiction, Tech

Bed Bugs at RIT

Recently, bedbugs have become a more pressing matter in the public mind. Horror stories of bugs in the most exclusive hotels have left travelers itching to stay home, but not everyone can stay in their homes. College students move to dorms, apartments and rental houses. The chances of bedbugs are high, and this is quite the case at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). These little ride-alongs, though, are not as much as a problem as some people might think.

Pat Adams was never in the habit of communicating with his roommate. As honors freshmen, they lived in the Gibson dorms. When he was not in class or doing work for his Industrial Engineering degree, Adams was spending time with his friends in other dorm buildings.

“My roommate mentioned having rashes on his back,” Adams said, now 21 and a third year Manufacturing Engineering Technology major. “He left overnight, he said something about not liking [RIT].”

Not long after, RIT Housing approached Adams, saying that they would need to test for bedbugs. Once bugs were found in his room, Exodus Exterminating got to work. Adams was instructed to keep his clothing in provided bags for three weeks. These three weeks would be spent with weekly treatments to combat the bugs.

But things did not go as planned.

“It sucked [sic],” Adams said. Exodus told him multiple times that his room was not in the correct condition to be sprayed by leaving a note on his door. Adams does not recall being told what is considered correct condition. This caused the treatment to go on for three months.

“Alerting the student should have been done by the exterminators,” Terry Walker said. Walker is the manager of Building Services for Facilities Management Services (FMS) at RIT. FMS is responsible for cleaning and maintaining dorms and academic buildings on campus. “Student notification is up to [Residence] Life.”

Walker noted that Residence Life and Housing Operations were in charge of hiring exterminators, servicing on-campus apartments and making procedures for handling bedbugs in dorms. Housing Operations could not be reached for interview.

Though academic buildings do not house students, that does not mean they are any safer from bedbug infestation. “We kept getting reports of bedbugs,” Walker said.  The complaints focused on the second floor of the Wallace Center. It is one of two floors were talking is permitted and features couches and lounges for students to rest and read.

FMS staff were sent to look for the signs of bedbugs. Michael Potter, professor of Entomology at the University of Kentucky says signs include eggs, egg shells, excrement and shed exoskeletons, along with the bugs themselves. FMS could not find proof of bedbugs, but still treated the area to be safe.

“What’s interesting about the library is we treated the furniture, the carpet and we couldn’t find evidence of bedbugs,” Walker said.  The Wallace Center replaced the furniture to be safe, Walker said.

Park Point and The Province are apartment complexes built adjacent to RIT and are marketed towards students. As they are not run by RIT, they have different practices and procedures in place. Park Point’s general manager, Nick Ippolito, explained the complex’s policies.

“We respond to every report of bedbugs, and we have only found one case. We have a plan, a response plan. We proceed with knowledge and care compared to renters in the area.” Park Point uses an outside exterminating company to handle bedbugs. Only two reports of bedbugs have surfaced. One was the apartment next door to the confirmed case.

The Province could not be reached for interview or comment.

Neither RIT nor Park Point disseminates information to about bedbugs unless an infestation is found.  “Bedbugs wouldn’t be good publicity for potential students and tenants,” Walker said. “We certainly don’t have the authority to run a campaign for awareness.” Walker cited that that would fall to Housing Operations’ responsibility.

“You know, we really should inform people about bedbugs,” Ippolito said.

A 2011 study from Virginia Tech found that the recent increase of bedbug infestations could be linked to resistances developed by the bugs. “Due to the widespread use of DDT, bed bugs were essentially eradicated from U.S. homes and apartments by the 1950s,” the study states. “While DDT was initially effective for bed bug control, resistance to the cyclodienes was well-documented among different bed bug populations by 1958.”

Due to this developing resistance, along with the banning of DD in the United States,  pyrethroid chemicals are now being used to combat bedbugs. The study found that the bugs are already developing genetic mutations where enzymes neutralize the chemicals.

The only proven non-chemical way to control bedbugs is through heat. Clothes, bedding and linens need to be washed and dried at least at 120o F. They need to be stored in bags to keep bugs from reaching them again. As not everything can be heat-treated, insecticides are still the main way to kill bedbugs.

Unfortunately, treatment of bedbugs are not as stringent in other countries. International travelers could have bedbugs hopping a ride with them back to the states. Soon, they find themselves in new environments and new beds.

Good night, sleep tight, and of course, wash your laundry in hot water to keep the bed bugs from biting.

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Transmediation of Watchmen

Rorschach’s journal: October 12th, 1985:

Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!” And I’ll look down and whisper “no.”

They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father or president Truman. Decent men, who believed in a day’s work for a day’s pay. Instead they followed the droppings of lechers and communists and didn’t realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don’t tell me they didn’t have a choice.

Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say.


A smiling yellow face floats in a sea of blood on a cold New York street. An ugly world-weary man in a dirty raincoat walks through the puddle. The deli owner yells something at him, but he doesn’t hear. All he’s concerned about is carrying his sign that proclaims the coming end time. The deli owner shakes his head and continues hosing the blood into the storm drain. The ugly man tracks bloody foot prints behind him.

“Hmm,” the detective says, looking at the blood splat below. “That’s quite a drop.”

“Yeah, poor guy,” his partner said, inspecting the apartment door. “Y’know, I always wonder…, do you think you black out before you hit the side walk or what?”

The detective shudders. “Frankly I don’t need to know that bad.” He turns from the broken window and scans the disheveled room. “What do you think happened here?”

“Well, looks like someone broke in by bustin’ this door down. That would take either two guys or one guy on serious drugs, because the door had a chain fastened on the inside.” The partner pulled his cigarette from his mouth and lifted the door chain and lock, ripped from the wall. Which means that the occupant was home when it happened.”

“Hmm,” The detective walked towards the center of the room. Spilled bottles of liquor stained the carpet. Framed paintings lay on the floor, chairs were over turned. Dark blood on the floor and walls painted a picture of a brutal attack. “I saw the body, an’ he looked beefy enough to protect himself. For a guy his age, he was in terrific shape.”

“What, you mean apart from being dead?”

“No…I mean this guy, this Blake guy, the occupant…he had muscles like a weightlifter. He would have put up some kind’a fight. I’m certain.” The detective had already seen the body. The victim, Edward Blake, was old, scarred, missing some teeth, but his body looked like he could enter a strongman competition. And win. At least that’s what he could tell from what was left of him. The coroner’s office would give him a full analysis later.

“Yeah, well, looks like he lost.” The partner stuck his cigarette backed in his mouth and looked at the shattered mirror on the wall. The detective was looking at a framed photograph on a side table. “Maybe it was a couple of guys and they just overpowered him.”

“Maybe. The data we have suggests he’s been doing some sort of overseas diplomatic work for years. Lotta classy expense-account living. Maybe he just got soft. He don’t look too soft in this photograph. Wonder how he got that scar? It looks…” He peered closer at the picture.

“Hey! The guy he’s shakin’ hands with in the picture, it’s Vice-President Ford!”

The partner came over and took a look. “Hey, so it is! Well, listen, between you and me, I think we can rule him out as a suspect. A job like this just isn’t his style.”

“That’d be real funny if we had any better leads to go on.” The detective placed the photo back on the table. “I mean, what is this? A little money got stolen, but no way is this a straight burglary. Somebody really had it in for this guy. I mean, how did he go outta the window?”

The two detectives walked down the hallway to the elevator. Police protected the crime scene from any unwanted prying eyes.

“Maybe he tripped against it?” the partner asked.

“Forget it. That’s strong glass, man. You trip against it, even a big guy like that, it don’t break. I think you’d have to be thrown.”

“Well, if this Edward Blake was as big as you say he was, then one guy would never lift him, so we’re talking two assailants here.” They stepped into the elevator. A man was already inside.

“What floor ya want?” he asked.

“Oh, uh, ground floor, please,” the detective said.

“Ground floor, comin’ up.” An image of Edward Blake being thrown through the window and splatting against the ground flashed in the detective’s mind. Normally cases didn’t get to him like this, but there was something so odd about this case… He turned to his partner as they stepped out of the elevator.

“So look, you haven’t answered my question…is this a burglary, or do we look for some other motive?”

“Listen,” the partner said, “it could just have been a burglary…maybe a bunch’a Knot-Tops on KT-28s or ‘luudes. You know how it is…a lot of crazy things happen in a city of this size. They don’t all need motives.”

“So what you’re saying is—”

“I’m saying let’s not raise too much dust over this one. We don’t need any masked avengers getting interested and cutting in. Follow it up discreetly, sure. But in public.

“Well, what say we let this one drop out of sight?”

The detective shook his head as they walked down the street, back to the precinct. “I dunno. I think you take this vigilante stuff too seriously. Since the Keene Act was passed in ’77, only the government-sponsored weirdos are active. They don’t interfere.”

“Screw them,” the partner spat. “What about Rorschach?

“Rorschach never retired, even after him and his buddies fell outta grace. Rorschach’s still out there somewhere. He’s crazier than a snake’s armpit and wanted on two counts, murder one. We got a cozy little homicide here. If he gets involved, we’ll be up to our butts in corpses.” He noticed the detective huddling inside his coat. “What’s the matter?”

“Uh, nothing.” The detective did a quick glance-back at a man carrying a sign reading THE END IS NIGH. Something about him made him uneasy. “Just a shiver. Must be getting’ a cold.”


That night, a pale full moon hung in the sky. A shadowy figure walks to a storm drain, plucking something out. He looks at the yellow, besmiled button in his gloved hand and then turns his attention skyward. Reaching into his coat he pulls out a gun. With a blast of compressed air a grappling hook shoots skyward; it latches onto the broken window of Edward Blake. The man climbs up the rope. He pulls himself into the room and hops in.

He pulls a flashlight out of his coat and then wanders into Blake’s room. After rifling through the drawers he goes digging in the closet. “Hunh,” he growls, pushing at the wall. He takes one of the wire coathangers and straightens it out, using it to poke at the wall. Something in the corner of the back wall catches his eye: a small button. He grumbles as he pushes it.

Some mechanism clicks and moves the back wall to the side. He pushes the panel aside to reveal a superhero’s costume with a small arsenal of weaponry. The masked intruder went through each item, stopping at a picture of a group of superheros posing for the camera.


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