Worthwhile Reads For Any Bookworm

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By: Colleen McTiernan

Between going to class, working, cooking, doing laundry and all of the other little tasks that come up throughout the day, it can often seem like there aren’t enough hours to get it all done. Especially when you have a busy schedule, it’s important to make time for yourself. What better way is there than to relax and sit back while snuggling up with a good book?

Before you pick up any old book, you should do your homework about whether or not it’s the right fit for you. I truly hate dedicating the time to reading a book and then finding out halfway through that I really can’t stand it. Here’s a list of a couple of books that, based on reviews and, in some cases, my own personal experience, are worth the time it takes to read them.

Fantasy and Science Fiction

  1.     “The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury (182 pages)
  2.     “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card (324 pages)
  3.     “The Girl With All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey (460 pages)
  4.     “A Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin (674)

Crime and Mystery

  1.     “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie (264 pages)
  2.     “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson (465 pages)
  3.     “The Redbreast (Harry Hole #3)” by Joe Nesbø (521 pages)*
  4.     “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (560 pages)

Young Adult

  1.     “The Giver” by Lois Lowry (179 pages)
  2.     “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin (182 pages)
  3.     “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer (390 pages)
  4.     “The Darkest Minds” by Alexandra Bracken (488 pages)

Romance

  1.     “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (313 pages)
  2.     “Easy” by Tammara Webber (321 pages)
  3.     “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell (328 pages)
  4.     “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger (518 pages)

Think there are some books missing from this list? Comment below with some of your favorite worthwhile reads!

*Don’t worry about starting in the middle of this series. I accidentally started at book seven and it was easy to pick up the plot!

Packing Tips To Save Time

Packing Tips to Save Time

By: Hayli Zuccola

There is no denying that traveling can be exciting, but it can also be hectic at times. Whether you’re digging through your clothes to find a shirt, or trying to find the shampoo you know you packed before you left, if you’re not organized you can waste a lot of time trying to find what you need. Here are some tips to keep you well-organized during your travels so you can spend less time being frantic and more time enjoying your vacation.

Tip 1: Plan first

How long are you going to be on your trip? What will the weather be like? Will there be a lot of walking around and sightseeing, or just relaxing? Do you have to be somewhere at a specific time? Once you have that figured out, make a list of what you will be doing each day. This helps you to figure out if you need sneakers or snow boots, a tank top or a sweater, and everything in between. Knowing how long you will be on a trip will also help with how many outfits you will need to take with you.

  •        Bonus Tip – If you’re traveling by a plane, pack an extra outfit in your carry on. There is always a chance your luggage will get lost.

Tip 2: Roll your clothes

When traveling, things can get a little crazy, especially if you are moving from hotel to hotel. You want your clothes to be accessible and actually fit in your suitcase.

  •        Bonus Tip – You can organize your outfits using Ziploc bags. Take the rolled items and group them with what outfit they belong with and store it in a bag. This makes it easier to grab out of the suitcase when you’re ready for it.

Tip 3: Pack your shoes first

Shoes are bulky, so it’s best to get them packed first. Make sure they line up together like you would see a new pair of shoes in a shoebox. Start filling the luggage with your Ziploc bag outfits and other things you will need like scarves and gloves if you are traveling in the winter.

  •        Bonus Tip – If you are worried about your shoes getting your clothes dirty put them into a plastic bag before you put them in your luggage.

Tip 4: Keep your toiletries separate

You can do this by storing them in a toiletry bag or just a plastic bag, but make sure you separate them from your clothes because they could leak. It’s also good to pay attention to the products you use every day so you will know exactly what you need.

  •        Bonus Tip – If your favorite item doesn’t come in a travel size, get small plastic bottles from the dollar store to fill with your must-have items. If you are taking a carry on with liquids, be sure they meet the TSA size regulations and are in a clear bag.

Tip 5: Don’t stress if you forget something

The thing to remember is if you forget something, you can always buy it when you get there.

Quick Workouts for that Spring Break Bod

By: Roberta Fiorito and Briana Anderson

With spring break just around the corner, we’re carb-cutting and burning cals like crazy to get that perfect bikini-ready bod. We’ve put together a few quick workouts to switch up your routine and help you get the most out of your time and exercise, no equipment needed.

1. CARDIO/LEGS: X Hops

  • 16 reps per circuit (8 per leg)
  • Step 1: Start in squat position before jumping up and extending your legs.
  • Step 2: In the air, split your legs and land in a lunge position with your right leg forward and left leg behind. Make sure your weight is equally distributed between both legs.
  • Step 3: Jump back into the air and adjust your legs to land in a squat position. Make sure to land on the balls of your feet first before rolling through the flat and heel and maintain ‘soft’ knees to prevent injury.
  • Step 4: Once in the squat position, jump upwards again, landing in a lunge position with your left leg forward and right leg back.
  • Step 5: Jump back to the squat position, and repeat.

2. ABS: Straight Leg Jackknives

  • 20 reps per circuit
  • Step 1: Lay straight on your back with your arms above your head.
  • Step 2: Engage your abs by pulling your belly button to your spine.
  • Step 3: Keeping feet together, lift your legs to  a 90 degree angle with your hips. At the same time, bring your hands up towards your feet, slowly lifting your head, shoulders and torso off the floor.
  • Step 4: Squeeze your abs, then slowly release arms and legs outward, lying back down to the starting position.

3. LEGS: Sumo Jump Squats

  • 15 reps per circuit
  • Step 1: Plant both feet on the floor wider than shoulder width– point feet slightly outward. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees point toward your toes
  • Step 2: Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor, ensuring that your back remains between 45 and 90 degrees of your hips.
  • Step 3: Lean your body forward slightly so that you are able to place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Step 4: Push up through your heels and propel your body upwards into the air. Extend your legs whilst in the air before landing back into sumo squat position. When landing, ensure that you land through the balls of your feet first before rolling through the flat and heel and maintain ‘soft’ knees to prevent injury. Repeat.

4. ARMS: Broad Jump Burpees

  • 15 reps per circuit
  • Step 1: Standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, assume a squat position leaning your body forward slightly to allow you to place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Step 2: Kick your feet backwards into pushup position, resting on the balls of your feet.
  • Step 3: Transfer your body weight onto your hands and jump your feet inwards and into squat position.
  • Step 4: From this position, jump both forwards and upwards from both feet, landing on both feet (broad jump). When landing, ensure that you land through the balls of your feet first before rolling through the flat and heel and maintain ‘soft’ knees to prevent injury. Repeat.

Bring on Spring Break 2015!

Long Exposure Photography: Light Painting

By: Andrea Sarcos

Essentially, photography is painting with light. You can control the way light is captured with the settings on your camera, or if you’re feeling extra creative, you can try light painting. Light painting is taking a long exposure photograph in a dimly lit space and moving, or “painting,” with the source of light. I played with this photo technique last year, and I’ll share my story and embed some tips in here, too. This technique requires a lot of patience, trial and error, creativity and fun.

Tools:

A DSLR camera with manual control

A tripod

A flashlight

A few LED lights

A few patient and groovy friends

Bug spray

My friends Dani and Rawlin assisted me with this shoot. I sprayed us all with bug spray (who wants to be covered in mosquito bites?), and we set up the photo shoot at a playground in Rawlin’s neighborhood around 9 p.m. I wanted ample time to play with light, so I set the shutter speed on my camera for 30 seconds and my aperture at f/5.6. This means that my camera would take in all the light that is available in the environment in those 30 seconds and expose it onto one photograph. This is why it’s best to do long exposures at night.

I set my camera on a tripod and aimed at the playground and at my model, Dani, on the slide. I shined the flashlight and manually focused my lens on her. I asked her to be as still as possible and not blink while the photograph was being taken. I counted down “3, 2, 1!” and hit the shutter. During those 30 seconds, I shined the flashlight on Dani for about seven seconds, moving it continuously. You have to do this to expose your subject evenly. I didn’t want to overexpose her (i.e. make her too bright). Seven seconds was just enough. After that, I turned the flashlight off and Dani, Rawlin and I ran around the playground with the little color-changing LED lights. Essentially, we painted the outline of the playground with the lights.

We tried light painting again with Dani’s LED hula hoop. I shined my flashlight on her body for a few seconds while she stood still. Then she moved her hula hoop in different directions. Photographs from both photo shoots are provided here.

The final result was awesome, and I couldn’t have done it without my friends. Light painting gives you creative control over your photographs, which is something that all photographers, amateur and professional, can have fun with.

Why Snapchat is so popular: Controlling time on social media

By: Ellen Villafuerte

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know Snapchat is one of the most popular smartphone apps today. From “snapping” a video of what you’re currently doing to sending a selfie to a select group of friends, this app is now commonplace. If you’re one of the few that is still wondering what all the fuss is about, we’ve broken it down for you:

  1. You decide how long your friends get to see something.

Whenever you send a snap, whether it’s a photo or video, you get to control how long your friends can view it. Two seconds? Ten seconds? It’s up to you. This means that your friend may have little time to see what you sent, because if they don’t pay enough attention, then just like that, it’s gone.

  1. You can see what time your friend opened your snap.

Just like a text message, after sending a snap, you may be waiting anxiously for your friend to see it and respond. But unlike text messaging (excluding the time stamps on iPhone messages) you can actually see what time your snap was opened. While you may not always get the response you were hoping for, at least you won’t be up all night wondering if that snap was ever opened at all.

  1. There’s no dwelling involved.

Whether you never got a response to the snap you sent to your crush, or if you sent them an embarrassing snap when you weren’t completely yourself, there’s no need to dwell on what exactly you sent — not that you can, anyway. With Snapchat, once you send that picture or video, you’re never seeing it again (unless someone takes a screenshot of it). Pretty soon, you won’t even remember what it was.

  1. No time to get the perfect shot? No problem.

One of the greatest things about Snapchat is that unlike other photo apps, the recipient is not expecting perfect quality. No need to worry about the angle, which filter to use, the exact right lighting, etc.  Just take the snap, send it, and you’re done!

Save Time and Money With Google’s Newest App

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By: Jennifer Cole

Traveling to a new place can be an exhilarating experience. From the culture and cuisine to the foreign landscape and architecture, it’s no wonder people get swept away by the allures of adventure.

But, traveling and immersing oneself in a new place, with a new language, is easier said than done, and perhaps the biggest obstacle of going someplace foreign is communication. Between Bonjour, Hola, Merci and Prego, things can get quite confusing especially if you’re visiting different places in one trip. Coupled with flipping through the pages of a pocket dictionary or searching for phone service to help ease the language barrier, “Where’s the bathroom?” could turn into a 30-minute struggle!

Until now.

In January, Google launched a revamped version of its Google Translate app. With no Internet connection necessary, users can point their smartphone’s camera to words in a different language, and the app will automatically translate them to the desired dialect. Currently, the photo feature translates into English from Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Russian and German.

However, users can also take a photo, highlight the unfamiliar blurb, and the app will do the dirty work in up to 36 different languages. Finally, the update boasts a conversation feature. After selecting the two desired languages to translate to and from, the app automatically detects which language is being spoken and conveniently translates the conversation for the user.

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Ordering chicken and rice with spicy but not too spicy sauce, a side of fried plantains made extra crispy and the best in-house tap beer has never been easier! Well, maybe not that easy.

I decided to test the app out on my own to see what the hype was really about. I ventured to a few local places to use both the photo feature and highlight feature. Examining a menu at a Spanish restaurant, the app automatically recognized cerveza as “beer.” But, when I headed over to an Asian supermarket, I was a bit disappointed. Nearly all of the signs and labels I tried experimenting with didn’t give me any results. It was especially hard for the app to recognize hand-written signs, which is a necessity when traveling somewhere foreign. I had to make several attempts before I got the proper translation.

Though the program isn’t full-proof and has some flaws, it’s definitely a quicker and more cost-efficient tool to consider when traveling. Not only is the app free, but it also saves users from investing in expensive language books, in-person translators or cellular data packages.

Staying closer to home? You can still use the app to impress friends and family, and of course, to find out exactly what Frittura di Calamari means before your server returns.

How to Make Time Fly By in a LDR

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By: Anagabriela Medina

Long distance relationships are hard, but they’re not impossible. The key to having a successful LDR is having an end date to see each other, because no one can be together forever if they’ve never even been in the same room together. Whether you’re going to see each other in person for the first time or the eleventh, time apart tends to be your greatest enemy. These are just a few tips I have for my fellow guys or gals in a LDR to make that time apart fly by.

Send care packages

Who doesn’t love coming home to an unexpected gift from someone you really care about? No one, so don’t be afraid to send a package once in a while with something you know your significant other will enjoy. These don’t always have to be large and expensive packages. Just sending letters to one another will be a nice reminder how much you care about each other. Having something physical from each other will make you two feel a little closer even if you still have a few months apart.

Stay busy

When you’re busy, it often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all of your work done, let alone think about your LDR. You can keep yourself occupied in various ways, from taking up a new hobby to putting in more hours at work. Either way, you’ll be too busy to be sad about being away from your SO and soon you’ll wonder why you ever thought a few months was such a long time.

Plan other things to look forward to

Try setting aside some time and money for that vacation you’ve always wanted to go on or consider buying those tickets to your favorite artist’s concert next month. By making a schedule of other exciting dates, you’ll constantly have something to look forward to. Instead of thinking that you have six more months apart, you can look at it as two events, a vacation and a wedding until you see your boyfriend or girlfriend again.

Be optimistic

It’s easy to get discouraged sometimes while in a LDR. You’ll wish your boyfriend was there in person to celebrate your birthday with you or that you had your girlfriend to take care of you while you’re sick. As simple as it sounds, staying optimistic throughout the entire relationship makes a big difference. Stay positive for one another and the both of you will be able to make it through the hard and lonely times with much greater ease.