Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bill O'Reily Should Stop Talking by Caleb Wright

Bill O’Reilly should shut up. Seriously, nobody cares. For an in-depth rundown of what’s wrong with him, go check out The Huffington Post.

Essentially, he said he was reporting from a dangerous warzone a few times, when in fact, the places he went weren’t a part of the warzone and weren’t all that dangerous. His reporting pieces from those less-than-warzones are also sub-par, too.

Of course, this only really affects the few people who still take Bill O’Reilly seriously . Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post outlined what would really be a scandal for Bill to say:

"• O’Reilly caught on tape being self-effacing and quiet.

• O’Reilly caught on tape saying that someone in the news should NOT be fired.

• A phone call recorded by a staffer reveals O’Reilly politely suggesting, ‘How about we continue to have a respectful, professional relationship?’ …

• Suppressed footage shows O’Reilly listening politely to someone with whom he disagrees, nodding along. At one point, about midway through the clip, O’Reilly seems ready to interrupt, but then thinks better of it. At the end of the segment he thanks the guest for her time and says ‘I really hadn’t understood that side of the issue before. I may have to revise my view. You, ma’am, are a national treasure.’”

Words to Live By ~Amy Yarbrough

Sometimes, when the going gets tough, you need to turn to Marcus Aurelius for the answers:

Art thou angry with him whose armpits
stink ? art thou angry with him whose mouth
smells foul ? What good will this anger do
thee ? He has such a mouth, he has such arm-
pits: it is necessary that such an emanation
must come from such things: but the man has
reason, it will be said, and he is able, if he
takes pains, to discover wherein he offends; I
wish thee well of thy discovery. Well then,
and thou hast reason: by thy rational faculty
stir up his rational faculty; show him his error,
admonish him. For if he listens, thou wilt
cure him, and there is no need of anger.

h/t Tiffany Prescott

Friday, February 27, 2015

Doodling Like a Pro by Amy Yarbrough

Class can sometimes be boring. But doodling in your notes is the most common way to stay awake!  Whether they're detailed drawings or just random shapes, they always add a fun element to your boring notes! Here are some tutorials that are sure to take your doodling to the next level!

1.  This thing!

2. Celtic knots are always fun!

3.  Who wouldn't want a vortex on their paper?

4. Triangles.

5. Squishy thing! 

6. Stairs are nice! 

7. Have some hearts! 

8. Super S. 

9.  Stars. 

A Runner's 10 Commandments by Anita Durairaj

As a long-distance runner, I follow these "10 Commandments for Runners"* religiously:

(1) Thou shalt not compare thyself to other runners. A mile is a mile.

(2) Thou shalt not say "I am not a runner". If you run, you are a runner.

(3) Thou shalt not skimp on sleep.

(4) Remember the "rest day" and keep it holy.

(5) Honor thy muscles and thy aches and pains and do not push through an injury. Runners are not invincible.

(6) Thou shalt not forget to hydrate.

(7) Thou shalt not commit the sin of wearing cotton, especially on race day.

(8) Thou shalt not ignore thy shoes. Get properly fitted.

(9) Thou shalt not get stuck in a "rut" but will vary thy running by switching up elevation, distance and pace.

(10) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's medals.

*The "Runner's 10 Commandments" is taken from
A Guide to Improvising with Chords by Anita Durairaj

To my fellow pianists:
When someone mentions "improvise" do you bang the keys in frustration? You print out the lyrics and chords of your favorite song and stare blankly at the chords. How in the world do you play a chord's notes and structures without sounding extremely, annoyingly, over-repetitive? Folks, I totally get you. So many times a conversation with a piano teacher goes like this:
ME: "On this verse, what kind of note combinations can I play with my left/right hand? How can I improvise with this chord?"
PIANO TEACHER:"I can't really teach you do improvise. You just have to... improvise."
ME: "Right, but how exactly do you improvise? You got to have at least some pointers."
PIANO TEACHER: "Just let your own creative juices flow."
ME: Very helpful. "Could you show me an example?
And he proceeds to play something so complicated that you can't even tell the difference between chord and melody.
Now, it's true that no one can teach you to improvise; everyone improvises differently. Still, little help along the way is greatly needed and appreciated.
What does improvise even mean? It is defined as: "to create and perform (music, drama, or verse) spontaneously or without preparation; to produce or make something from whatever is available." Since everyone has their own style, the key to get you started is to give you some simple tips that you can expand and modify to suit your preference.
My 5-year journey through learning chords and improvising with them has led me to some discoveries that helped me to finally start improvising. Here are some pointers.
> Play Octaves or Fifths with the Left/Right Hand
Let's say you're playing the simple chord progression G,C, D, E minor. What do you do with one hand while you're playing a chord with the other? If you're used to playing the chord with your left hand, you can use your right hand to play fifths or vice versa. A fifth is basically a chord that leaves out the middle note (for example, to play the fifth of the C chord you would play the notes C and G and leave out the note E). A fifth is also called an "open chord”.
Or you could play octaves, which should mainly be done with the left hand. An octave is spanning your hands over the length of eight white keys, and playing two of the same notes [For example, for C you would play a lower C with your pinkie and the next consecutive C, eight white keys away (12 keys if you're counting the black keys) with your thumb]. If you're playing with a bass guitar or some other instrument with lower pitches, octaves may not be the way to go, since they are typically played with the lower notes. If you can't play octaves, go for fifths; they sound just as good without too much of the bass notes. If you can, go for octaves; they offer a nice rich sound to your chord.
> Play Inversions
An inversion of a chord basically means playing the same chord and notes, but in a different order. For example, the usual order of notes in a C chord are the notes C, E, G. Inversion 1 would be in the order E, G, C. Inversion 2 would be G, C, E. Each chord has two inversions. Unfortunately, playing inversions smoothly requires practice, but it pays to sound good.
I like to use inversions to change up the feel of the sound a little. If you used the usual order of notes for chord C in verse one, switch to an inversion; when you move the notes a little higher or lower for a chord it sounds different even though it's the same chord. That way, you can help eliminate too much repetition. Sometimes, you have to play the same chord for a whole line in a verse; playing inversions helps vary it up a bit. 
>Play 2nds and Suspended Chords as Transitions
The 2nd of a chord is basically substituting the middle note of a chord (or the third note of a scale) for the second note on the scale. A suspended is substituting that same note for the 4th note on the scale. For example, the chord C would have notes C, D, G rather than C, E, G. C suspended would have notes C, F, G. Suspended and seconds act as good transition chords between chords in a song.
> Know Your Way around the Notes So You Can Improvise
Lastly, the only way to make a chord sound more melodious than a repetitive single-beat is to know your way around the notes so you can naturally play more melodies. If you want to play a song, and its available in both chord and sheet-music form but you don't want to take all that time to learn the sheet music, you can look at the basic melodies on the sheet music and incorporate that on one hand while playing chords with the other.
When I first started playing chords, I was frustrated because I couldn't make it sound good. First, I started using things like octaves and fifths so both my hands something to do. However, these new additions mainly add more volume color to the chord itself. I wanted to know how to add more rhythm and texture to the notes within the chord. That's when more practice with the scales and inversions of the chord comes into play. The more you learn about the chord, and start experimenting with the chords, the more you'll improve.
I hope this helps. Like I said earlier, no one can teach you to be creative with chords; but once you learn a little about them, you're ready to put your skills to work. Happy improvising!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Obamacare is Not the End of the World by Caleb Wright

Is Obamacare bad? Sure. Is it the apocalypse? No.

Let’s face it: healthcare driven solely by profit is a horrible idea. People who don’t understand economics speak of the “free market” or the “invisible hand” as some kind of perfect entity, capable of driving society to utopia. Unfortunately, people suck. When it comes to a choice between helping others and making money, most people will choose to make money. The healthcare industry is no exception.

The idea of making health insurance less expensive, even for people who cost more, is an admirable one. The Affordable Care Act has been somewhat effective in this. There are many technicalities regarding the enrollment rate, especially whether or not new enrollees are renewing their plans and paying premiums, but as Gallup reported:

The uninsured rate among U.S. adults for the fourth quarter of 2014 averaged 12.9%. This is down slightly from 13.4% in the third quarter of 2014 and down significantly from 17.1% a year ago. The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act's requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect one year ago.
This is largely due to the cost assistance and subsidy programs available through the infamous federal marketplace. ObamaCare Facts, a nonprofit, found:
1 in 6 Americans can get a Marketplace plan for $100 or less. 87% of people who selected marketplace plans for 2015 got financial assistance.
Quite simply, more people are getting insurance. That’s a good thing. That’s not to say Obamacare is an overall positive thing; the Congressional Budget Office, a governmental agency, did an analysis of the labor effects of the ACA:
CBO’s updated estimate of the decrease in hours worked translates to a reduction in full-time-equivalent employment of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024, compared with what would have occurred in the absence of the ACA.
Obamacare isn’t a good thing for the economy. But, it’s also not communistic control. As my colleague aptly defined it, communism is “a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.” Sure, the government runs the marketplace, and Obamacare expanded Medicare and Medicaid (public health insurance programs). But fundamentally, the ACA tampers with the free market, not replaces it. As the technical and ethical blog Technical Meshugana put it:
The ACA is not classic socialism so much as it’s mandatory capitalism. There is no centralized governmental control over health care being proposed here, it’s governmentally regulated mandatory participation in free market medical insurance policies that have mandates designed to reduce the insurance companies’ ability to drop coverage for certain conditions and try to reign in excessive cash cow policies, which brings us to the second point. The only people who will be deciding who lives and who dies based on financial costs are still the same people who have been irresponsibly making these decisions already for a while now: the insurance companies.
The ACA does not establish absolute governmental control. Fascinatingly, Mitt Romney agreed. As the famous liberal rag Mother Jones pointed out:
When pressed, Romney pointed out that Massachusetts residents were still purchasing private health insurance:
First of all, the system in my state is not a government-run system. Ninety-eight — 92 percent of the people had their own insurance before the system was put in place, and nothing changed for them. They still had the same private insurance. And the 8 percent of the uninsured, they bought private insurance, not government insurance. And the people in the state still favor the plan three to one.
Romney's right. Massachusetts doesn't have a "government-run" health insurance system. It has a government-regulated health insurance market in which individuals are compelled to buy their own insurance. That's exactly what the Affordable Care Act has, too. If Obamacare is socialism, then so is Romneycare. And if Romneycare is the distilled essence of free market capitalism, then Obamacare is, too.
The American diet, as my colleague pointed out, is killing us. But Obamacare doesn’t allow nutritional research panels to take away my Snicker’s. They can try to pry it from my cold dead hands, but the ACA doesn’t allow the government to control every aspect of the healthcare industry. Nor does it give every bureaucrat access to your personal health information.

Obamacare is bad; it harms employment, economic growth, and medical innovation. But the system in place before Obamacare was far from perfect. As ThinkProgress found:

When it comes to affordability and patient access, the United States ranks last among industrialized nations, according to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund. Researchers said the data, collected before the full rollout of the Affordable Care Act, can help officials measure the improvements made since then … A previous Commonwealth Fund survey found that Americans spend an average of $3,000 more in health care costs than some of their European counterparts.
Republicans, in opposition to the “communism” of Obamacare, say that charities should be able to provide for the poor, the needy, etc; but they aren’t. Instead of constantly complaining and voting to repeal Obamacare (as they did 6 times, plus another 48 times to partially repeal or defund), Republicans have to bring up a solution.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Obamacare: Skillful Deception by Christina Barron

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh recently included in his show another rant on his thoughts about ObamaCare and how exactly it is so terrible.  For most of us, this is not news. Conservatives nationwide have had this figured out ever since president Barak Obama introduced the bill in 2009 and especially since Nancy Pelosi stated Back in 2010. “We have to pass the [several thousand page long] bill so you can find out what is in it." In 2014, ObamaCare or the “Patient Protection and ‘Affordable’ Care Act” (PPACA) passed and officially started to make its devastating effects on January 1st of 2015.  So far, the bill has proved to be bad for doctors and awful for patients, and it is still yet to be discovered what all exactly is in it. In the next 12-18 months, the bill will completely take over almost all aspects of healthcare and American lives in big ways.

Aside from talking about how corrupt the bill is in general and its chaotic loopholes currently being discovered during this tax season, Limbaugh’s talk pointed out  a facet of Obamacare that often times gets ignored; the communistic control factor.

“Time Magazine recently listed the fifty worst cars of all time. The communist East German Trabant made the list with this description: "This is the car that gave Communism a bad name. Powered by a two-stroke pollution generator that maxed out at an ear-splitting 18 hp, the Trabant was a hollow lie of a car constructed of recycled worthlessness… A virtual antique when it was designed in the 1950s, the Trabant was East Germany's answer to the VW Beetle — a "people's car," as if the people didn't have enough to worry about."
Fast forward a half century and the description of that vehicular lemon also applies to its modern healthcare equivalent, Obamacare.”

Basically, my point is that the goal of Obamacare is not about saving American lives by expanding healthcare coverage and reducing cost of insurance so that all Americans will be able to receive the healthcare ‘they deserve’ - that is merely skillful deceptiveness being used by our government to cover up their real plan by appealing to our patriotism and value for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and thus our health.  

 Their real goal seemingly being a form of communism: a plan to have control over our daily lives via supposed healthcare. If you don’t quite yet see my correlation, read the following definition. 

That definition alone could prove my point, but let me ramble on for a few moments longer.

By saying that their goal is to save lives by enforcing mandatory health insurance, the government gets bigger by swallowing approximately 1/6th of the US economy. Because it’s in the name of “healthcare”*, Big Brother will have more control over their comrades and their daily lives. *(Which by the way is not healthcare, at least not good healthcare that doctors became doctors to administer.)

An example of this is how the government’s top nutritional research panel is now saying that the American diet is killing us.  Since the government says they are helping pay our medical bills (after we’ve met up with our towering premiums of course) they want us to eat more fruits and veggies. I like being healthy and eating my veggies, I’m sure you do to. So on the surface that sounds like a good idea for them to promote, especially since it is supposedly backed up with extensive scientific research. However, there is a bigger picture to this. By simply holding the purse strings and  (Obamacare initiated) electronic healthcare records (accessible by almost anyone of authority), they can go in and say what diet or lifestyle they determine to be healthy or unhealthy and demand you to  follow it. They’ll be able to tell if you don’t by your rising blood pressure or weight gain, or whatever reason they want to give you. If they find out you’re not adhering to their plan? You risk being fined or not getting treated – or both. 

Summing everything up, by intervening in the healthcare arena with socialized medicine, the government is getting bigger than what conservatives and libertarians or general republicans should be comfortable with. The PPACA is not about compassionate healthcare desires - that’s just what they want you to believe. It is about gradually gaining control over our everyday lives, and we have (or should have) known this since 2009.  Yet, the PPACA has passed and is starting to be enforced. The Republicans have had no luck getting around it. At least not yet. Perhaps the 2016 election will offer us a small glimpse of hope. But in the meantime, have fun following your government recommended diet, having your electronic health records available to almost anyone, and paying high prices for minimum health care! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Political Scandal of the Week: DHS by Caleb Wright

In just a few short hours, the apocalypse will be wrought upon an unwitting American public. Nobody knows how Americans will function as a centerpiece of American life is stolen from them. The Department of Homeland Security is about to run out of money.
Obama’s Executive Orders regarding immigration have largely fallen out of the public eye, but Republicans, notoriously good at letting things go, have made them their new Benghazi. The Department of Homeland Security, largely responsible for enforcing (or, occasionally, not enforcing) immigration law, has gotten caught in the crossfire, as Republicans make their gripes with executive immigration policy known.
Essentially, the Republicans want to tie funding of the DHS to blocking the changes to immigration policy made by the President. While the House passed a funding bill that included such provisions, Democrats narrowly blocked it in the Senate.
Unless Congress magically passes the needed appropriations bill in the next few hours, the DHS will go into funding cuts. But does it matter? Sure, failing to pass a budget and using brinkmanship to achieve political ends isn’t a good thing, but the American public is not about to go into shock, nor is the Department of Homeland Security itself. The cuts impede long-term planning, but won't really affect the Department’s current ability. As The Huffington Post reported:
TSA agents would remain in airports, patrol agents would still be manning the border and Coast Guard officers would continue monitoring the waters if the Department of Homeland Security were to shut down … Employees would go without pay, trainings for local law enforcement and firefighters would be canceled, and new grants to help states and localities deal with disasters would stop, [Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson] and other officials at the press conference said. 
While the DHS itself won’t be significantly affected, the Republican Party might be. Regardless of the procedural technicalities, Republicans will be blamed for the DHS "shutdown." While public opinion at the moment narrowly rests against Obama's immigration orders, as a whole, Americans favor immigration reform, and don't favor attempts to shut down federal services.
Much like the government shutdown in 2013, Republicans will be viewed as anti-reform, anti-immigration, and anti-progress. Whether or not that’s a justified position is another issue; but especially as Republicans are trying to woo Hispanic voters, young voters, and moderate voters for 2016, they can’t just block proposals by the White House.
Instead of relying almost exclusively on inaction, Republicans have to present action. Blocking the DHS is not action. Trying to fix the Department would be, but unfortunately, Republicans aren’t able to think long-term enough to present the needed reform.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Combating Perfectionism by Christina Barron

"Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who can not attain it in anything" - Eugene Delacroix

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dancing Through the Decades by Amy Yarbrough

Dance styles are constantly changing, and not as classy as they once were... Seriously though, what happened to dancing?

King Abdullah II by Caleb Wright

Fox News and associated right-wing blogs have discovered a new, unlikely hero: King Abdullah II of Jordan. In comparison to the relatively weak response of the Obama Administration to beheadings and murders by ISIS, the Jordanian king was hardline. His Facebook page posted the picture below, with the caption:
His Majesty King Abdullah II, The Supreme Commander of Jordanian Armed Forces, cuts short his visit to the United States of America after the martyrdom of Muath Al Kasasbeh

Many people, after seeing the above picture, assumed that King Abdullah II, as a former special forces operator and pilot, would personally participate in airstrikes. Unfortunately, that’s false; as the International Business Times reported:
[A spokesman for the Jordanian airforce] said in a statement that reports about the personal involvement of the King in combat missions on IS targets [are] unfounded and baseless.
However, King Abdullah II is still a very good leader, especially for the Middle East. Many Americans and Westerners in general don’t realize it, but he’s a descendant of Muhammad, and a strong believer in Islam. But, as Joel C. Rosenburg, a best-selling author and journalist, said:
As a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, the king sees himself as a moderate Arab reformer. He believes Islam is the answer to the challenges facing his region, but he does not believe violent jihad is the way forward. He has built good relations with the West, maintains a solid peace treaty with Israel, and has worked hard to protect Christians in Jordan.
Coalition forces need leaders like King Abdullah II in order to be successful; not only is he willing to use force as necessary, he’s the kind of Muslim that practices his faith without harming others, and without perverting Islamic doctrine to condone violence.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Modern Television vs. the Classics by Amy Yarbrough

A lot of people, upon hearing the word “classic” in reference to a comedy television show, often think of just regular shows from the 90’s or the early 2000’s. But when I think of classic TV shows, my mind automatically goes to shows of the 50’s and 60’s, such as “I Love Lucy," “The Dick Van Dyke Show," “I Dream of Jeanie," “Bewitched” etc. These were some of my favorite shows when I was younger, even though in their time they weren't specifically meant for children. They were technically still “adult” shows, but the humor in them was funny without needing to be dirty or tacky. They were enjoyable for adults and children. Of course, there is nothing wrong with finding that sort of joke funny. Explicit jokes and punchlines are often used, and can be quite hilarious, but in the classics, they weren't needed. But nowadays, they are kind of needed. Kids shows are so dumbed down that there needs to be a thick line between what is for adults, and what's for children. Channels such as Disney and Nickelodeon used to be better, but now they're mostly comprised of stupid jokes and bratty kids. Although their earlier shows were also mostly stupid jokes and bratty kids, at least they were executed better! 
    Kids shows are often suppose to have a different lesson in each episode. Adult shows do have lessons sometimes, but not ones your children are necessarily ready for. The classics have lessons and things that adults also go through, and in a better environment for children. Although it's a good thing for kids to learn that they need to take care of their own mistakes, I think it's also good for them to know that adults make mistakes too. 

    Older television shows also had a better variety of setting and characters. Now everything is pretty much the same. Have you seen that show with that group of 20 something year old friends who all hang out at that one place in the city? Yeah, I'm not sure which one either! Once there's one extremely popular show, a bunch of others try to take off with very similar concepts. 

    Although modern television can be pretty funny, there will always be a certain amount of charm that only the classics have. 
Just Look at Things Differently by Anita Durairaj

Life is hard, and sometimes you come to a dead end. Sometimes you just have to forget, and walk a different path:

 And Sometimes you just have to look at things differently:

And, hopefully, things will look better in a new light!

*I am so sorry, I have not been able to locate the original source of this image

Thursday, February 19, 2015

    Another Life To Know ~ By Cara Haley

    There have been so many wonderful people throughout history who have created a difference, and their stories are leaked with pure inspirational influence. One life has the power to make a difference. It is astounding to know that there have been common people standing up to do good. What is even more astonishing is that a slave once got up from under captivity and thrived for a change. This one individual in particular started an innovation in early history.  They faced not only racial equality and social struggles, but an internal war of finding worth.  The magnificent individual I am speaking of is Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was born a slave, but he abolished that cruel life with his escape. After that, he was merely not satisfied to allow that bondage to continue. He joined and led the abolitionist movement that was against slavery. Speaking against slavery, his most powerful  voice was in the words he wrote. 
    Frederick Douglass wrote several autobiographers that opened that unknown dark  world to the reader.  Throughout the chronicles of his autobiographies, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom,  and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,  a development of cause was felt and the reader could say that they were imbued by the simple meaningful words used. There was a certain element of power  and applause that follows him when he speaks. In his words, emotions were being poured out  and questions about the confusing need of control in life filled one's heart with sorrow. Privileges were stolen from the beginning. To always live in the confusion of not knowing who you belong to, or even to grow up without having the best wishes from your mother is heartbreaking. To have a settlement one moment, but to be torn apart at auction leaves an unbalanced life. To have your family all strangers or no family at all is unimaginable. This all though was quite common in a slave's life. Can you imagine witnessing such bloody horrors at such a young age? To be beaten and mistreated on a daily basics should stir some compassion in others. But no. Living in a lonely cold world where no one cares really breaks a soul apart. The isolation one felt goes along with the cold density of forgotten humanity amongst society.  The hopes of being free was what kept one living on. With no voice on the fate decided, one felt that their voice was no  good at all against the matter of command. To be washed around like a useless object of mankind's favoring, one will either break down under the pressure of absolute isolation or will risk their life to obtain that freedom that was dreamed of forever.
   Frederick Douglass' own life narrative went through how he escaped slavery and made greatness. All colors were shown. The vivid meaning behind the barbarous life of bondage was not  lightened. He showed his life to all views, and his personal desire was what left the reader devastated.  More than most, his life was a noble vindication of the highest aims of the American anti-slavery movement. He viewed the right and the wrong of life with the purpose of creating a  life of equality.  He allowed nothing to hinder him and his passion for equality still inspire many today. His words that shall never be forgotten is, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."  He left a living inspiration behind and I urge you to allow yourself to be drawn in another life. The unimaginable was a reality in his life, and in his words, struggle and freedom was felt.  Frederick Douglass is still a valuable figure today and shouldn't ever be forgotten. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

5 Things That Add More Personality To A Room ~ By Cara Haley

  Everyone knows that a room reflects one's soul, and to have a plain dull display is beyond boring. No worries though, there are a few ways that you can brighten a room with an edgy style without going all out and painting the walls a garish color, or even buying an entirely new set of furniture.  Little things such as a vase of flowers or a painting that captures a bold statement will transform your room into a whole new world.  Here are  five easy ways you can do to add more elegant simplicity to a room:

1. Roses in a vintage tin. 

Roses in a vintage tin<3

Instead of vase that is far too overused, try a classy appeal by using a vintage jar or tin. 

2. Or you can have a basic flower pot surrounded and tied together by sticks.

A basic flower pot surrounded and tied together by stick branches. This just adds more flamboyant coloring to the flowers<3

This just adds more flamboyant coloring to the flowers. 

3.  Have a picture frame that is old and falls into the category of just being washed out? Update it with a sprayed paint ombre technique.

Update an old photo frame a painted ombre technique<3

4.  Need a nice centerpiece that will last without withering away? Spray paint a branch, and just put it inside a pretty vase. 

Spray paint a branch and just put it inside a pretty vase.Now you have a pretty  centerpiece<3

5. Glue a plastic toy on to a block of wood & then spray paint it. Now you have a neat bookend.

Glue a plastic toy on to a block of wood & then spray paint.Now you have a neat bookshelf supporter<3

  I hope these ideas inspire you to express your incredible design in many ways. There are  so many ways you can add a splash of style to practically anything. So stay inspired, and look for ways that you can make life imitate art. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Compliments by Christina Barron


Compliments are something that hold the power to make (or break) you and another person’s day. Therefore some people think compliments are risky and should be avoided. Whether that’s your view on them or not, here are some reasons why you should give genuine compliments and some examples of good ones to give!

1.       Positivity! Giving a real compliment forces you to focus on the positive elements in someone else’s life and can in turn expand your own positivity. You’ll start noticing that life is quite a bit more positive than you realize at first glance when you take a moment and complement someone.
2.       Attractiveness! The abilities to be positive, genuine, and appreciative are all very attractive traits to have!
3.       Fun! Being nice is a fun way to spark happy feelings inside yourself and your friend/acquaintance!

Compliments that don’t have anything to do with the other person’s physical appearance are the best, because they are the most seldom given/received. 

Just remember, complements are to be given to everyone at some point! However, only give one if you really sincerely mean it, because otherwise, it can come off in the wrong way. 

The Meaning Of Flowers By Hannah Haley

     Flowers have a significant meaning. They're not just given to someone to make that person happy, but for one to express oneself without words. Have you ever wondered why there are numerous of flowers used for many events of life? Have you noticed that the flowers used for a funeral are much different than those used for a wedding? Well, that's because no two flowers are alike. They each have their own unique meaning. 
     For say, if one were to give you a Alstroemeria flower, it means: friendship and devotion. The reason being is because the leaves are grown upside down and twist, much like the journey of true friendship. 
     As the flower most associated with funerals, lilies symbolize the departure of the soul to the land of death where innocence is found once again.
If you would love to learn the history of these flowers, and meanings of other flowers, go check out this link: Here

Monday, February 16, 2015

Political Scandal of the Week: Netanyahu by Caleb Wright

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to give a speech before a joint session of Congress next month. This would, ordinarily, be a straightforward, albeit boring event; in the past five years, the leaders of Mexico, Korea, Ukraine, and Israel (back in 2011) have all addressed Congress. However, Netanyahu forget to tell one person about his plans: President Obama. There are three reasons this is bad for Netanyahu.

First, it’s bad for him at home. Israeli elections are just weeks away. Many critics, American and Israeli, have condemned him for using the joint session as a campaign platform. Instead of focusing on the litany of domestic issues in Israel that dominate the potentially upsetting election, Netanyahu has focused his attentions on American citizens and American power. The Israeli Labor Party’s leader, Isaac Herzog,criticized him for this, saying

“When I am prime minister, you won’t see us involved [between Democrats and Republicans in Congress]. Let the American people decide. It is embarrassing, this debate.”

Secondly, it’s bad for him in the United States. His snub of the White House angered many Democrats; lead by Vice President Joe Biden (who’s President of the Senate), they are choosing not to attend the speech in troves. This harms overall American and American-Jewish support for Israel. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported:

“Support for Israel in the United States must be bipartisan. But now, when Israel has a prime minister who looks American and sounds American, he acts like one who doesn’t understand America at all. Netanyahu detests liberal Democrats. But doesn’t he know that two-thirds of the Jews in America are liberal Democrats? … Why does [Netanyahu] insist on smashing the sacred principle of bipartisan support for Israel, by speaking Republican, broadcasting Republican and identifying Israel dangerously with the Republican Party’s agenda?”

Lastly, it’s bad for him in the rest of the Middle East. Netanyahu has called the Iranian nuclear program an “existential issue” for Israel, and he’s completely right. An Iran with the capability to rain death from above would be incredibly damaging to Israeli, and American, safety. But that program, while allegedly in development, has been “allegedly in development” for decades, without any real intelligence of it suddenly becoming an imminent threat.

The Obama Administration is attempting to negotiate with Iran to dismantle the program; Netanyahu’s visit makes those negotiations harder. That’s not to say that the negotiations will ever be successful; Iran, quite simply, will probably never give up its nuclear program. But the GOP, by inviting Netanyahu, is pushing the time table too much. Wait for the negotiations to fail, as they inevitably will, then talk of drastic action. The visit also creates an element of distrust between the Israeli and American administrations that won’t bode well for future military and diplomatic action in the Middle East.

Netanyahu: at this point, you’re committed to speaking. Backing out would damage your credibility more than going through would. But, in the future, consider the implications of your visits. Will it make it look like you care more about Americans than Israelis? Will it make it look like you care more about Republicans than Democrats? Will it make it look like you care more about short-term political gain than long-term regional stability? If the answer to any of those is “Yes,” then maybe reject the invitation.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Adjectives are Important by Christina Barron

The awesome black-hole-of-doom teen website,Tumblr, proves a point in a mildly amusing way! 

Adjectives are important. 

Star Wars Episode VII By Sydney Quanz

Finally, the year of 2015 has arrived, and with it comes many much anticipated movies.  Another installment in the Marvel Universe, Avengers: Age of Ultron, heavily anticipated with hopes that it will upstage its predecessor the original Avengers. Pixar finally releases its much awaited Inside Out, and Hunger Games completes the quartet with Part 2 of Mocking Jay.

However, there is one film that has been waited for the longest, and who appeals to every generation equally. The new Star Wars Movie The Force Awakens. The long time coming, unexpected seventh installment of the most loved Sci-Fi film ever, will be released December 18, 2015.  Trailer Below:

Though the expectation associated with this film is brimmed with excitement, it is also full of trepidation. The last time that the Star wars franchise was brought to life again, it was a bit of an embarrassment to the fans. Lucas somehow took the most beloved trilogy of all time and turned it into the outdated version of bad movies with to much CGI. Unfortunately for Lucas, the premise for his prequels was honestly intriguing. To take an iconic villain like Darth Vader and give him a backstory, a motivation and therefore bring humanity to this machine man. However, due to some of the worst screen writing ever to grace the screen and awful casting for the part of Anakin Skywalker, the prequels fell flat.

Firstly, This next movie cannot simply exist. That was enough for the prequels, that even though they were unappealing and disappointing they happened and they explain Darth Vader's past, therefore they are signifciant. However, the premise for Episode VII is not enough to make it important. Many could argue that there is no where left for the store to go, now that the Empire has been defeated, Luke has truly become a Jedi and Han Solo and Leia are finally together, there is no room for more story. It is unnecessary. However, if Abrams takes this opportunity to create an interesting story, with real, interesting characters in a universe that audiences remember well, then Episode VII could go from unnecessary to legendary in a heartbeat.

Secondly, Episode VII cannot just be a "where are they now" film. People might pay money to see Han Solo, Leia and Luke go on one last adventure for nostalgia's sake, but if Abrams hopes to launch a new trilogy fans need more of a reason to fork over their hard earned bills. Episode VII must be a passing the torch movie. This movie is an opportunity for the old, beloved cast to make an appearance and then hand on the next set of adventures to a fresh characters.

Thirdly, this trilogy must be well rounded and appeal to audiences without being sappy. In the Prequels, it was apparent that Lucas was trying to appeal to women as well as he wrote the romance between Padame Amadala and Anakin Skywalker. However, he went a step to far by creating one of the sappiest, most poorly acted and hated romances to ever grace the screen. There is most definitely a place in Episode VII for romance, nowadays I would say that it is even necessary for action movies to "throw a bone" to the ladies in the audience. However, making the audience victims of a Disney Princess story admits space battles is insulting. Let's go back to where it all started, with a Solo-Organa relationship full of Shakespearean wit featuring two independent lovers who fans can respect and root for. Also, a female Jedi would be nice. There were glimpses of women with lightsabers in the prequels, but it would be refreshing for the lead woman to be a Jedi instead of a politician.

So Who can guarantee that these next Star Wars movies won't be a further disgrace upon the good name of Skywalker?

JJ Abrams can make such a promise.

Abrams is arguably one of the best directors out there, having sculpted very real characters and touching stories such as Super 8, the TV drama Lost, and the new installments of another culturally significant Science Fiction legacy, Star Trek. It is this movie that gives me hope that Episode VII won't be a disaster. Abrams was able to take an outdated but beloved TV show, and make the characters relevant to a modern audience with ease and precision. His story was nostalgic and fresh simultaneously with an amazing cast and characters. He was smart enough to know that, while Leoard Nimoy's presence as an older time-traveling Spock was delightful and a great thing for the fans, he could not carry the film. However, Nimoy assisted in that passing the torch moment when he spoke to Zachary Quinto, the current Spock, and in a way gave his blessing to the new franchise. Abrams walks the line between the renovation and preservation of the story with grace.

So as fans, I believe we can breathe a sigh of relief. If Abrams can make a fresh story that respects Lucas's movies with respectable characters then there shouldn't be much to worry about next December. Hopefully, the film will launch the next trilogy will live up to its predecessors.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Beware of making stupid jokes on social media by Amy Yarbrough

Here’s something to keep you awake at night. Remember to be aware of what you post on social media!

Beck > Beyonce by Caleb Wright

At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Beck’s Morning Phase beat out Beyoncé’s Beyoncé for Album of the Year. Many Beyoncé fans, angered by her loss, have (perhaps justifiably) criticized the Grammy’s nomination process, or the genres of music nominated. But beyond such issues, Beck deserved to win the accolade. This isn’t necessarily due to the inherent superiority of either album, but because of the process behind each one’s creation.

Beck, in his album, plays 15 instruments, performs vocals, and handles orchestral arrangements. Over the course of the album, he plays with 16 other musicians, and borrows the experience of one conductor. He is the head producer, and involves 10 audio engineers. Compare that with those involved with Beyoncé’s final product:

Beyoncé performs vocals, and collaborates with 23 other musicians (mostly vocalists) and 52 technical producers. Regardless of which album is better or more well liked, Beck’s Morning Phase required more artistic skill and originality.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Are you the 2% or the 98% of the Population? By Anita Durairaj 

Are you the 2% or 98% of the population?

Follow the instructions on this quiz.* NO PEEKING AHEAD!

Do the following exercise, guaranteed to raise an eyebrow.

There's no trick or surprise.

Just follow these instructions, and answer the questions one at a time and as quickly as you can!
Again, as quickly as you can but don't advance until you've done each of them ... really.

Now, scroll down (but not too fast, you might miss something).

Think of a number from 1 to 10

Multiply that number by 9

If the number is a 2-digit number, add the digits.

Now subtract 5

Determine which letter in the alphabet corresponds to the number you ended up with

(example: 1=a, 2=B, 3=c,etc.)

Think of a country that starts with that letter

Remember the last letter of the name of that country

Think of the name of an animal that starts with that letter

Remember the last letter in the name of that animal

Think of the name of a fruit that starts with that letter?

Are you thinking of a Kangaroo in Denmark eating an Orange ?

Pretty freaky, right?

If not, you're among the 2% of the population whose minds are different enough to think of something else. 98% of people will answer with kangaroos in Denmark when given this exercise.

*I am so sorry but I have not been able to locate the original source of this quiz