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Elika Roohi

How to Stay Warm When It’s So, So Cold

Chicago and the rest of the Midwest are facing a dangerous drop in temperatures this week—the mercury is predicted to plunge as far down as -55F as the coldest airmass in three and a half decades hits the region.

Wisconsin, Michigan and Chicago have all declared a state of emergency, and weather forecasters are issuing dire warnings of lung damage and freezing flesh without proper attire.

Although the worst of the cold snap will be over the north-central region of the U.S., practically the entire eastern two-thirds of the nation will see freezing temperatures, all the way down to central Florida. That’s nearly 200 million people who will be affected.

The harsh cold doesn’t disprove global warming however. Extremes of temperature are actually an indication of the impact of climate change. As a whole, the earth’s temperature is about one degree above the average right now, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer.

If you find yourself in one of the areas affected by the polar vortex, follow these tips to stay safe and warm.

1. Choose the right coat

Sub-zero days are not the time to wear your nice coats. Leave your pea coats and other thin jackets in the closet and opt for a down coat instead. Down coats provide the best heat retention, so they’re your best choice during a week like this one. Down jackets are measured on a scale from 400 to 900 that indicates the quality of the insulation. The higher the number, the warmer the coat will be.

2. Pick the best boots

When stepping out on a sub-zero day, it’s important to take that step in the warmest possible boots. The extremities of the body, such as fingers, toes, ears, nose and lips, are the most likely to be affected by frostbite, making your footwear choice even more important.

If you’re looking for a quality winter boot, the best thing to keep your eye on is the amount of insulation. Synthetic insulation is measured in either millimetres or grams. A higher number means the boot has more insulation and will be warmer and more comfortable. It’s also worth checking if the lining of your boot is removable so it can be taken out and hung up to dry in case it gets wet.

3. Hats, gloves and scarves

Up to 45 percent of body heat escapes through the head and chest, so make sure you’re wearing a warm hat and have a scarf or a coat that zips up to your chin. Protect your hands from frostbite with warm gloves or consider wearing mittens, which are an even better choice at a time like this.

4. Cover your face

This week, it’s important to give up on all pretenses of fashion and instead cover your entire body with cold-weather gear—including your face. When the temperature drops significantly below zero, you need to protect your lungs from the cold air by wearing a balaclava or buff face mask over your mouth. This will warm the air before it enters your lungs, preventing damage from the extreme cold.

5. Layer after layer

Underneath your hat, scarf, gloves and balaclava, make sure you are dressing in layers! Wear thermal underwear under your pants and sweaters. The air trapped between each layer holds your body heat, helping you stay warm. Layers also give you more control over regulating your body temperature, which will help you avoid sweating—something that can be dangerous at these low temperatures.

6. Stay hydrated

Severe cold can be just as dangerous as severe heat! Stay hydrated by drinking lots of hot tea. Pro tip: Alcohol does not keep you warm and will just contribute to your further dehydration.

7. Dogs get cold too

If it’s too cold for you outside, it’s probably too cold for your pet as well. Limit your pets’ time outdoors this week as much as you can. If you have to take them outside, consider bundling your pet up with a coat or sweater. It may seem silly but dressing your dog in booties when they go outside will not only keep their paws warm, but also prevent salt, sand and chemicals from irritating your pup’s paws.

When it is really cold outside, pets burn more calories, so leave them a little more food than normal. And make sure they drink a lot of water to prevent their skin from getting too dry.

8. Protect your pipes

Leave your faucets on a very slow drip and open the cabinet doors under the sink to prevent pipes from freezing overnight.

9. Care for your car

To avoid shuffling out of the house and discovering a cold, dead vehicle that won’t turn over, keep the gas tank at least half full and consider using coolant with antifreeze protection down to the lowest temperature. Also, try starting your car 15 minutes before you have to drive to let it properly warm up.

When it’s extremely cold, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is in top shape—including checking the battery, tire pressure, oil levels and windshield wipers. And it’s a good idea to pack a winter emergency kit with a blanket, boots, flashlight, extra batteries, ice scraper and jumper cables in your trunk as well.

Additionally, take the time to properly brush off and scrape your windshield before hitting the road. Don’t be a peephole driver—one of those people who think it is okay peek out the windshield through a tiny hole in the frost. You know who you are.

10. Finally, trust that you will be able to survive this

Students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks—the coldest, darkest college in America—manage to survive consecutive months of sub-zero weather every winter. They go outside during winter to bike, ski and run too! By taking a few extra precautions and ensuring that you are wearing the proper clothes, you will be just fine until the harsh cold eases up, which should be within the next week.

See also: We Need to Talk About Zac Efron’s Ted Bundy Movie

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has Posted Her Skincare Routine

Regardless of your politics, it’s hard to dispute that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is having a moment right now. The Freshman Representative of New York’s 14th district has been in the headlines for months for everything from her views on environmental policies and health care reform to her clothes, old videos of her dancing and—now—her skincare routine.

Ocasio-Cortez revealed her secrets on Instagram stories today, saying the secrets to her glowing skin are double cleansing, toner, sunscreen and cutting back on her dairy intake.

One follower clapped back, saying they weren’t interested in skincare—they just wanted to know how Ocasio-Cortez wrote her speeches.

“That’s okay,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez in her response on Instagram, “we all have different interests.” She followed up by recommending studying great orators of history, like Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Dolores Huerta and Angela Davis, to improve public speaking.

This is typical of the Congresswoman’s use of Instagram. In the last month, she’s posted about loving a press-on nail and also given her followers a peek into how offices for members of Congress get picked.

She also uses Instagram Live to host discussions about public policy and answer questions. She does this while making dinner, usually something simple, like instant-pot mac’n’cheese, which further endears her to her fans.

“FDR may have had ‘fireside chats,’ but AOC has ‘cooking black bean soup on Instagram Live’ and guys, it is [flames],” wrote one viewer.

See also: Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

Your Seven Day Break on the Pill is Bogus—Here’s Why

The seven-day break built into the schedule of the contraceptive pill isn’t backed by medical science—it is instead from a gynaecologist in the ‘60s who, by mimicking the natural rhythms of a woman’s cycle as closely as possible, was trying to persuade the pope to let the Catholic Church adopt the birth control form.

Periods on the Pill

Women on the Pill, the most popular method of birth control, know how it goes: take the Pill for three weeks and then either switch to a sugar pill or forgo taking any tablets during the fourth week.

During the fourth week, women on the Pill will bleed; however, it’s important to note that the ‘period’ you get while on the Pill isn’t a real period. It’s called “withdrawal bleeding,” which refers to the withdrawal experienced from taking a week off of the Pill’s hormones. The drop-in hormone levels cause the lining of the uterus to shed, which is what leads to period-like bleeding.

Some women say they appreciate the bleeding as an indication that they’re not pregnant; however, Pill periods aren’t actually a guarantee of that. Monthly bleeding on the Pill is just a reaction to no longer having contraceptive chemicals in your system.

How did we get here?

If the period experienced by women doesn’t fulfill the functions of a period, is it medically necessary to bleed every month?

Not according to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, who made headlines this week when it announced about the Pill, “there is no health benefit from the seven-day hormone-free interval.”

In fact, the origin of the Pill’s off week comes from John Rock, one of the gynecologists who was involved with the development of the contraceptive. A devout Catholic, Dr. Rock built in the break in order to please the Catholic Church and, he hoped, earn the endorsement of the pope at the time.

“In the Catholic Church the rhythm method is an accepted form of birth control,” said Sophia Yen, M.D., a gynecologist in California and founder of Pandia Health, to Glamour UK. “So his thought was that if he could make women’s periods rock solid and regular, it would make this method easier to practice [and more appealing to the Church].”

His plan didn’t work—the pope didn’t go for it and ultimately decided the Church wouldn’t support Catholics using birth control of any kind—but nevertheless, the built-in breaks to allow for a monthly period stuck.

In other words, the reason women on the Pill have been having regular periods month after month for the past 60 years is because one man was trying to please another man—and it didn’t even work.

It’s ok to not take a break

For many women, taking the Pill continuously may actually have some benefits. The sudden drop in estrogen levels experienced during the off week can lead to headaches. Continuous use can also reduce acne and eliminate the possibility of painful periods.

It might seem obvious, but most women would happily skip monthly bleeding if they knew it was safe, a survey conducted by Pandia Health in 2018 revealed.

So here we are in 2019—a place where the myth about a “build-up of menstrual blood” when you don’t have a period is still widely accepted and our Pill-period schedules are dictated by a misguided and long-deceased doctor.

Menstruation is closely tied to the concept of female identity and fighting the stigma associated with not having one requires cutting through many layers of internalized attitudes about femininity. The word “unnatural” comes up a lot when discussing medically preventing your period. Yet there are several accepted forms of birth control on the market that do just that, like the hormonal IUD and the shot.

Much of the conversation around eliminating menstruation focuses on women who have debilitating periods, and while it’s important to continue research in this area specifically for women who need to control their painful and heavy periods, it’s also worth considering those who are simply inconvenienced by their periods and would rather not have them.

“I love to travel, I love to spend time outdoors. I love not having to worry about a period,” said one woman to The Atlantic.

With FSRH’s new report, she can rest assured that it is safe to do so.


See also: Women’s Health Watch: In Stirrups

Is safe sex becoming less relevant for college students?

Bearina IUD concept aims to make IUDs cheap and accessible

Are Thrift Stores Really Getting More Donations Because of Marie Kondo?

Whether you’re an avid convert to the KonMari method or you’re guarding your possessions from anyone who happens to utter the words “tidying up,” everyone has an opinion about Marie Kondo’s trend.

Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was released in 2011. It was a best-seller in Europe and Japan, her home. It was published in the United States in 2014, around the time minimalism was starting to take off as a trend.

Today, Kondo has to her name a Netflix special, a book that spent 65 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, a spot on Time’s “100 most influential people” list in 2015 and a net worth of $8 million.

As with any trend, there have been memes and backlash and think pieces, but this one has had an extra effect: an increase of donations to thrift stores. As reported by BuzzFeed, some organizations have seen an uptick in donations that seem to correspond with the release of Kondo’s show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

A spokesperson for the Salvation Army said that the shops generally see an increase in donations at this time of year—coinciding with the end of the holidays and everyone’s New Year’s resolutions—but this year it’s more than usual.

One second-hand store in London is reporting receiving double the amount of donations this month than they usually would, according to the BBC.

Whether or not this can be directly linked to Kondo’s show has yet to be definitively proven – though many are linking it to her philosophy of discarding an item if it does not “spark joy,” others are disregarding her influence.

“Activity [at our stores] is often strong the first week of January anyway,” said Malini Wilkes, the public relations manager for Goodwill to CNN. “People have New Year’s resolutions, people have time to get their boxes together, that kind of thing.”

One thing is for certain, however: All the reporting on thrift stores suggest that they are quite well stocked at the moment. If you’re looking to pass on some joyless items or you’re seeking out some new joyful ones, your local Value Village might be worth a visit.

See also: How to Decorate Your Dorm on a Budget

10 Podcast Recommendations for 2019

New year, new you, new opportunity to step up your walk to classes with some of these podcasts. From topics including everything from art heists to reproductive rights, here are the shows we’re loving (and ones we hope you will love too) in 2019.

1. The Daily

We start with this can’t-miss from New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro. Every day, he delivers the cover story from the Times in a 20-minute, beautifully produced audio segment. The last few minutes always include the day’s other notable headlines, making sure that if you tune in, you’ll be caught up on your daily news. Keeping up with The Daily is a personal 2019 resolution, and we can’t recommend it enough.

2. Caliphate

This hit series, also from the New York Times, is told by journalist Rukmini Callimachi, who covers stories about terrorism. Through Caliphate episodes, she takes the listener on a journey to understand ISIS, capturing how everyday people can be persuaded into the terrorist organization. The uncovered story of Caliphate came at a cost—Callimachi and series producer Andy Mills both risked their lives reporting this story.

3. There Goes the Neighborhood 

An in-depth look at gentrification, There Goes The Neighborhood focuses on specific cities by season. Season 1 centers around Brooklyn—weaving personal stories about the lives that have been displaced in the neighborhood’s transition with a well-reported analysis on what gentrification as a whole is doing to our cities. Season 2 covers the issue in Los Angeles.

4. Bodies

With reproductive rights on the forefront of everyone’s mind these days, this podcast addresses that interest by delving into intimate, feminist health issues, answering that question that often tends to bubble up—“What’s wrong with me?” Created by Allison Behringer with support from KCRW, this exploration into the forces of history, society and identity has some truly profound episodes. We recommend starting with “Sex Hurts” and “Anxious Mess.”

5. The Cut on Tuesdays

This podcast, described by its makers as “everything The Cut can’t stop talking about,” is a delight. Each week, host Molly Fisher brings you two episodes (on Tuesdays, as per the name—and also on Thursdays when the podcast becomes The Cut on Tuesdays on Thursdays)—about women, pop culture, literature and everything else. Our favorite episode? “Hello and Welcome to My Bad Dinner Party,” which is told in the style of a gameshow as novice food columnist Madeleine Aggeler does her best to prepare a meal for the judges, who include Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat author and host Samin Nosrat among them.

6. Call Your Girlfriend

Hosted by long-distance besties Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, this podcast feels like tuning in on a personal conversation—but a very intelligent one. The pair discuss everything from politics to pop culture and regularly host interesting guests—last year they interviewed Georgia governor candidate Stacy Abrams and the year before that, they hosted Hillary Clinton. We’re looking forward to their upcoming book Big Friendship, due to be published in 2020, which will be a deep dive into female friendship—another topic that gets a lot of airtime on their show.

7. Dr. Death

If you’re easily spooked, don’t listen to this podcast when alone at night. This story is about the shocking and true events following Christopher Duntsch, a Texas surgeon who was convicted on criminal charges following two patients who died and 31 who ended up with serious injuries after he operated on them.

8. 16 Shots

Jumping into another hot button issue, 16 Shots dissects the events of one night in October 2014, when a white police officer shot and killed black teenager Laquan McDonald. The shooting was captured on video and sparked outrage throughout Chicago. Now the police office is on trial for murder, and this is where 16 Shots jumps in with their excellent reporting.

9. Last Seen

This art-heist podcast has immediate appeal. It explores the real-life mystery behind the most confounding heist in history when 13 irreplaceable pieces, each worth half a billion dollars, were stolen from the Isabella Steward Gardener Museum in Boston. Even 28 years after this unsolved crime took place, it’s still exerting an irresistible pull. And if none of that is enough to interest you—perhaps the $10 million reward on offer might awake your inner investigator.

10. The Dream

What if we told you that with no experience and only a few hundred dollars down, this podcast could change your life? Well, that would be a lie. The Dream investigates multi-level marketing (MLM) businesses—something you have encountered from your aunt’s friend on Facebook who’s trying to sell leggings or make-up. Legally, MLMs aren’t pyramid schemes, but if MLMs operate in a model where money is made off of other people buying into the company, then just how different are they? The Dream goes into all of this in their gripping, 11-part series.

Further reading: Summer Blockbusters 2018