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Hope for the Butler Bulldogs

The Butler Bulldogs had an outstanding season this year and an even better tournament! They pranced through their first 11 tournament games only to face the same NCAA Tournament Championship Game as the year before. Some had expected them to play the same as last year with a buzzer beater and a loss, but I had hope. In the Final Four, Butler played Virginia Commonwealth and won 70-62, which was their largest lead in the entire tournament. With a good lead against a strong team, Butler looked ready for anything. It seemed as though they could handle anything. However, I was wrong.
The NCAA Championship is the biggest game of college basketball in the nation, and they knew that. With a second chance at the title, the pressure was on. You could tell they were nervous from the start. With the thought of how many people were watching and what was at stake, I would be too. The first half was nerve-racking just to watch. However, everyone knows that "The Butler Way" is to bring it home in the second half, but this time they choked. Missing practically every shot, it seems impossible how they even pulled off 41 points in the end. For the past two years, Butler has not failed to amaze us by their impressive talent. They are nothing short of outstanding. I expect nothing less in years to come. It might be a bumpy ride especially with Matt Howard gone but I have hope. Believe in the Bulldogs!

Ethics of Success

Would you rather have your life handed to you on a silver platter or fight your way to the top? Many success stories only became success stories because of strong ambition and perseverance. For instance, Barack Obama struck politics out of poverty. Now, he is a success story. However, most people I know would want life given to them. Unfortunately underneath the obesity issue, America is a dog-eat-dog world and if you aren't fighting, then you're getting eaten.
Picture this scenario: You grow up in a wealthy family. A lot is expected of you as a child, but you get by. Your family makes sure that you receive the best education possible. Once you are independent, your parents still pay for you partially and support you financially because they have enough money to do so. Do you think that is the best way to live? Never really having to work for yourself or even fully support yourself. What if your parents went bankrupt? You lose their financial support and, say, you lose your job. You would have no experience in fighting your way back up because everything has been given to you. Basically you'd be screwed.
As stated earlier, America is a dog-eat-dog world. We will do anything we can to survive. Life is a continuous game of predator vs. prey. As the predator gets faster, the prey must also get faster in order to stay alive, and if the prey gets faster, the predator must also get faster in order to eat. However, if your life is handed to you, you don't know how to play the game. And if you don't know how to not get eaten in a hungry  world, you will just get swallowed up.

Hairy or Downy Woodpecker?

Whether you are an amateur birder or just enjoy watching birds at your backyard feeders, you probably have encountered a mysterious find. Some common identification challenges when it comes to birding include small wrens, red finches, shorebirds, and Spring warblers. In the woodpecker category, the Downy vs. Hairy Woodpecker is probably the most controversial, and using field guides to identify Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers can often be misleading.

Most field guides will not tell you how common the bird is. That is especially important for this pair because downies outnumber hairies at least eight to one in backyards. Hairy Woodpeckers prefer older woodlands that you won't find in a lot of suburban areas. The only time that it would be even reasonable to identify a hairy is during migration. When food supply starts to run low, it becomes plausible for a hairy to stop at your feeder. Chances are, if you see a woodpecker that looks like the above picture on the left, it is a Downy Woodpecker.

However, if you happen to be birding in an older forest and you come across this dilemma, there is a way to tell the difference. The most obvious field mark to look for is size. The Hairy woodpecker is 30% larger than the downy. I heard someone once say, "Downy is dinky, and Hairy is huge." If you have to question the size or get a closer look, it is most likely a downy. As stated in the above quote, the Hairy is huge. That is not an understatement. If you are close enough, you will know it's a hairy.

If there is such a rare time that you cannot identify this mysterious creature by size alone, there are other field marks to help. The second most obvious marking is the bill size. The Downy Woodpecker has an abnormally small bill. It looks as if it couldn't even make a dent in a twig. On the other hand, the hairy has an extremely long bill. It is described to be as long as the head from front to back. Once you are familiar with both birds, the bill size is almost as obvious as the body size.

 In addition to body and bill size, there are other field marks that can help but can only be seen up close. For instance, the white under tail feathers on the Downy have a few horizontal black bars while the Hairy does not. If you are not an experienced birder, the songs are too similar to tell apart. Using these tips, you can now successfully identify the difference between the Hairy and Downy Woodpecker. All you need to remember is "Downy is dinky, and Hairy is huge" and you might never need to reference your field guide for this bird again.

How to Feed Wild Birds

Feeding and attracting wild birds to your yard can be very enjoyable. However, a lot can go into what, when, and where you are feeding them. Different birds eat different types of food, and believe it or not,  not all birds eat seed. How much time and money you put into feeding and taking care of your wild birds will determine the outcome. A small hopper feeder with a mix consisting mainly of fillers can get you a house sparrow every now and then, but if you want to see bright colors, elegant flight-patterns, and unique birds, you might want to rethink your ways.

First, you need to focus on what you are feeding. You can find birdseed pretty much anywhere. It's at the grocery, garden shop, and obviously the bird specialty stores. However, most good-quality bird seed is found at bird specialty stores. Unfortunately, they are more expensive because there is more seed to them. Most generic brands found at the grocery store are made up mainly of filler seed. The birds know what filler seed is. They will pick out the filler seed and spit it out onto the ground, wasting it. So if you purchase the bad-quality seed, you are really not getting a deal because the birds can tell the difference.

So what do you feed them? Well, it all depends on what you want to see. Bluebirds specify in meal worms, and cardinals like safflower, while Blue Jays love peanuts. If you know what you want to see in your backyard, I recommend googling that species. And if you are not sure what you want to see, try a couple different types of seed and see what works. Also, a fool-proof way to attract birds is to provide water. Not all birds eat seed, but they all need water. Providing a shallow birdbath can double your variety of birds.

Birds need food all year-round. You might have heard that you shouldn't feed birds in the summer because they become dependent on the feeders, but that is not true. Bird feeders only supplement nature's food for wild birds. However as seasons change, birds come and go, and so should your types of feeding. Summer is a time to put nectar and orange halves out for hummingbirds and orioles, and fall and spring migration is a good time for high-energy suet. Research more on the types of birdseed for each season in your specific area.

Habitat is important for birdfeeding too. You will find different birds in big cities than you would in a rural area. Therefore, you types of feeding must adapt. Inner-city locations can make it hard to attract unique birds, but once you have a few they will tell their buddies. Start with basic black-oil sunflower seed and a birdbath and see what you can get. In a rural location, you have a lot more freedom, but you also want to start small. Again, start with black-oil sunflower and see where you go.

In conclusion, bird feeding is a very enjoyable hobby no matter how much you want to put into it. In addition, it matters what, when, and where you feed your wild birds. To successfully attract a wide variety of wild birds, you must also think like a bird. Would you want bad-quality bird seed? Wherever you are, feeding wild birds can become a very enjoyable hobby. 3ME8GHH7P5KY

How to do a Backstroke Turn

Out of all the strokes in competitive swimming, the backstroke turn is by far the most difficult skill to master. Years ago, it was required to actually perform a backward somersault before pushing off the wall, but the modern way is much more simple. It will also save you seconds in a race.

First, you need to know where to flip. Start swimming backstroke from one end of the pool and count your strokes from the flags. If your pool does not have flags, have someone stand on the side of the pool five yards from the wall. This stroke count is usually anywhere between 2-6 strokes depending on your length and speed. Repeat that test a few times just for accuracy. Then, subtract one stroke. This is when you will turn over and prepare to flip. For instance if my stroke count was five, I would turn over on my fourth stroke.

If you cannot flip over for some reason, try the corkscrew drill. While swimming backstroke, reach one arm across your body into a freestyle stroke. Then with the opposite arm, flip yourself back onto your back. That is the same motion used in the backstroke flip turn. Once you have flipped onto you front side, you cannot take another stroke no matter how far you are from the wall. Your arms must stay at your sides, but you can kick. Approach the wall and tuck your chin into your chest and breath out through your nose. Do a somersault and finish on your back.

At this point, your feet should be flat against the wall and ready for push off. Bring your arms above your head into streamlined position. Streamlined position is where you are stretched out as long as you can, and your hands are stacked one on top of the other above your head, and your arms firmly pushing against your ears or the side of your head. Stay underwater until at least the flags. While underwater in streamlined position, you can do butterfly kicks with your knees and feet together, gathering momentum from your entire body. Once you have surfaced, you can begin stroking.

Common mistakes in backstroke turns are flipping too early or not bringing your arms up fast enough. All it takes is practice. It took me probably 1000 times to finally master it. Don't give up if you really want to do it. Just like everything, practice makes perfect.

Getting Students to Arrive to Class on Time

I do not believe in the ordinary measures of punishment for being tardy. Simply writing it on a slip or sending them to the office will not work. I know this because if a student is repeatedly tardy, chances are they will not care about a little referral or call to their parents. They do not respect adults and we know that because they were tardy in the first place. As an adult, one way to receive their respect is to become an enjoyable educator. If they like you chances are they will respect you. One major way to become likeable is to use humor. I remember my eighth grade teacher who was so loud, but he told hilarious stories and I still remember him today.

You can also use humor or humiliation as punishment for being tardy. I once met a teacher who made students sing for 2 minutes if they were late. After he proposed this rule, only one student was late the entire semester. The rest of the class also found it enjoyable to listen to the students horrible singing. In that way, they respected the teachers idea because they got a laugh out of it.

Another more traditional way is to dedicate seats at the front of the room to the tardy students. This way might not be as effective as humor, but it still gets the poitn across. Students want to sit with their friends. Also by seeing a student sitting alone at the front of the class, the other students make up their mind whether to be tardy or not because they don't want to have to sit at the front of the classroom.

I remember my friend in high school telling me once about a teacher who would give physical punishment if you were tardy, but not in the way that you would think. The teacher would assign wall-sits to the tardy students for however many minutes they were late. If you were going to use this strategy, I would probably ask your principal before putting it in action. Again, the students really got a kick out of watching their friends do wall-sits at the front of the classroom.

In conclusion, if you want your students to arrive to class on time, you must first receive their respect. You can do that by fear, humiliation, humor, or any mixture there of. Once they respect you, they will like you and chances are, they will also enjoy your class. Verbal warnings and referrals to the principal just won't cut it these days. You have to think outside the box.

What you need to know about Water Skiing

To most adults, water skiing is a very daunting task. It is something that you have done as a kid with your parents driving the boat, and now you have to drive it for your kids. As you watch your kids glide effortlessly across the water, you remember all of the fun you had when you were in the same position, and now you want a rematch against the water.

Water skiing is very easy once you are on top of the water, but getting up is, for some, very difficult. If you just hop in the water with skis and a rope attached to a boat, most likely you won't get anywhere. You need a little bit of training first. Let's start with the physics of it. There are three major factors that go into the lift off: gravity, water, and tow. First, gravity, which deals with the force pulling you downward, or, your weight, and with the boat pulling you forward, you will also be moving forward. The water is the shape and angles of the wake from the boat, and also the shape of your skis, including the fins and length. The tow is very important. The tow is the acceleration and speed of the boat.

Before, you hop in the water, make sure the driver knows how to tow skiers. It is normally very simple. They will need to speed up quickly or "gun it" until you are up and out of the water. Then, the skier will signal to speed up or slow down with a thumbs up or down. But, let's move backward a bit. When you are in the water,  you need to sit leaned back with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Put the rope between the skis and keep about 2 inches of ski out of the water. Yell "ready" for the boat to start. Keep your knees firmly bent until you are halfway up, then push against the water as you extend your knees. If you are following these instructions you will get up!

When you are done swing your hand inward across your neck as if to say "cut". Make sure the driver knows the signals. Then, as the boat slows, let go of the rope, take off you skis and swim to the boat. Congratulations! You now know how to ski!

Teen Sex

Anthropologically speaking, most women would marry and start a family in their teenage years. Physically, we are capable. That is why puberty begins between 8-18 years old, and peaks as a teenager. However, the way our society has adapted makes it nearly impossible to successfully start a family during these years.

The reason that it is so difficult to say "no" to sex as a teen is because we are made to start sharing our sexuality at that age. Since the legal age to get married became eighteen, our biological make-up has struggled to co-exist with today's society. In ancient times and in some cultures today, women would marry at a very early age, but our culture has raised the bar. Now our education, which takes up the vast majority of young lives' time, causes us to practice abstinence which can be difficult for those without developed self-control, considering that we do not offer class called "Self-Control 101".

I say, "Don't blame the teens, blame society!" Firstly, if adults don't expect teenagers to be able to make important decisions in their lives, then who will? Chances are that there hormones will. If young adults are not being taught vital moral and life lessons at a young age, they might never be exposed to them. Sex is a big issue in today's society, and I am still trying to conjure up a solution. If we want the teenage STD epidemic and pregnancy issue to go away, we are going to have to do a lot more than telling them that it's the "right" thing to do. Simply telling them to stop will not do anything. They know that its "wrong" in our opinion, and that is why they do it.

Sex is not that big of a deal to teenagers in this day in age. However, sex is not necessarily an act of passion, but an act of rebellion to some of them. Adults tell them not to, and because adolescence is a time to take risks and find yourself, "why not?" We cannot blame the generation for their "wrong-doing" because we have basically set them up for catastrophy. The Bible is telling them to wait until marriage, but when the Bible was written, marriage occurred at a very young age (13-16 years old). Do you see a trend? Big changes need to be made in order to fix this because we cannot blame the adolescents.

Con Animal Testing

Scientists who defend animal testing have a built-in conflict-of-interest because they are paid to use animals for research. Most pro sided articles for vivisection are written by these scientists. Vivisection is a cruel practice that over 100 million animals are caught up in, worldwide, every year (Section 11). A lot of testing advocates try to cover that up. Most of those animals do not give us any information; or at least viable information. One example would be the harsh HIV research on primates that has lasted for 25 years with nearly no progress, that, unfortunately still continues (HIV Drugs, Vaccines and Animal Testing). Animal testing should be illegal because it is barbaric, immoral, and does not provide viable information.

Experimentation on animals should not continue because it is simply barbaric. Routinely, animal testing advocates are not treating animals with the respect they deserve. They deserve just as much respect as humans. We are all equal beings (Animal Experimentation: Debatabase – Debate Topics and Debate Motions). Vivisection treats animals like disposable material; once the scientists get everything they need, the animals are practically thrown away. Think of the equivalents to humans. For instance, the argument that rats are killed everyday, so what is a few more used and killed for research going to do. The equivalent would be: Humans are killed everyday, so what is a few more used and killed for research going to do (Section 11). The practice of animal experimentation is malicious and should not continue.

Animal testing is immoral and unethical because animals have rights. We do not treat them with the same respect that we would a human, and that is not right (Animal Experimentation: Debatabase – Debate Topics and Debate Motions). For example, we would not test medicines on a human without their consent. That is what we are constantly doing to animals. We do not treat animals as equal beings. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit has reincarnated in every being, including animals. Also, the amount of suffering for the animals outweighs any “scientific opportunity” (Section 11). It is corrupt and disreputable to continue animal testing.

Finally, animal testing is not accurate. First off, animals react to substances differently than humans. For example, thalidomide, “a sedative and hypnotic drug” (Define: thalidomide – Google Search), causes birth defects in humans, but not in rats, mice, and hamsters (Section 11). Moreover, as many as 50% of drugs that have been approved by vivisection had to be withdrawn because of harmful side-effects in the U.K. and U.S. (Animal Experimentation: Debatabase – Debate Topics and Debate Motions). There is actually no certain evidence stating that animal testing leads directly to saving lives (HIV Drugs, Vaccines and Animal Testing). Also, 82% of vivisection procedures use rats, mice, and rodents, which are so non-human like that they give us nearly no information pertaining to humans (About Research). Why are we wasting time and money on unreliable resources?

In conclusion, animal testing is not only wrong as far as morals go, but it is also inaccurate. The practice of vivisection is merciless because it treats animals like disposable material. We are all equal as the Bible states. It is also dissolute and depraved when you think about the equivalency of humans to what we are doing to animals, not to mention, that most of the experiments are a waste of time, knowledge, and resources because most of the results are not viable. The barbaric nature, immorality, and inaccuracy of vivisection are why it should be abolished.


How to Prepare for an Instrumental Solo Performance Contest

Solo performances can be very nerve-racking. Even if there is only a judge there, it can still get very intense. Solos in front of large audiences are also daunting. Preparation is extremely important for a solo performance. Nothing can compare to the feeling of messing up a piece while you are on stage!

Know your music in and out. Be able to play it with your eyes closed (if it is shorter). Be able to play the dynamics without paying attention. Make your piece of music a habit. When you know it very well, you will be able to play it musically even in front of an audience or judge.

Take deep breaths. Deep breathing is obviously very important for playing a wind instrument, but it also helps to calm your nerves. Press your diaphragm out, filling up your lungs to full capacity, and release slowly.

Prepare what you are going to bring beforehand. This might be a given, but often when people are nervous, they tend to forget things. Get all of your music and instrument and put them in a place where you cannot forget them.

Keep warm air going through your instrument. This does not apply to pianists. Blow into your instrument so that you stay in tune. When you warm up, you are actually warming up your instrument. This temperature is important for clear intonation.

Keep good posture. Your posture can affect sound quality as well as intonation. Also, since you are in the spotlight, you want to look the part. Stand or sit up straight. If possible, you can move with the music to add emotion like swaying or moving you instrument slightly. Do what feels comfortable.

Enjoy playing! Always, remember that you are playing because you enjoy it. Get comfortable with being up on stage. Have fun with it! And if you mess up, it doesn't matter because everyone makes mistakes and that will just tell you to prepare harder next time.

Solos can be very enjoyable! However, that can only happen when you prepare and make it enjoyable. If you mess up, just make sure to learn from your mistake and don't make the same mistake again! I wish all soloists the best of luck in all endeavors!


Benefits of Getting a Straightening Perm

Have you ever wondered what a straight perm really is? It is still a perm, but it uses thermal reconditioning to get your hair straight rather than curly or wavy.

Some of us are used to getting up extra early in order to straighten our hair with a flat iron. Unfortunately, flat iron can be very damaging to your beautiful locks and take all of the moisture out. A chemical straightening perm keeps your hair straight and is not as damaging. Here are some benefits to getting a perm over straightening your hair everyday:

If it takes you 15 minutes to straighten your hair and you do it every weekday, then getting a perm could save you 65 hours per year! That is almost 3 days! Think what you could do with an extra three days...

Most flat irons do not use much electricity, but if you take into account the electricity that the lights use and other such appliances, you could save approximately $3 a year on your electricity bill by getting a straight perm.

Getting a straight perm is also better for the environment! Using your straightener and lights for that extra 15 minutes is equivalent to 22 pounds of natural gas per year. And when calculating the carbon emissions, it is equivalent to 56 miles of air travel in a year!

Having a straight perm done not only saves your hair, but also saves time, money, and carbon emissions! Of course the one problem is that you would not be a versatile with your hair style choice, but if you want to have straight hair everyday with little to no effort, a chemical straightening perm is the choice for you!

Why do we drive on the right side of the road? Why not left?

As days pass, driving to and from work on the right side of the road, have you ever stopped to question? Well, look no further because I've got the answer. It all started with the Revolutionary War. It lasted 8 years between the Americans, with French allies, and the British, with Hessian allies. The American were struggling until George Washington and the French stepped in to help. It was a long and tough war. The Americans could not be stopped, as that was originally thought to be of the British army. The Americans won the Revolutionary War.

      After the war, the Americans wanted nothing to do with the British. They sent the British back to England, and wanted a new government, a new chance for freedom. They knew that a monarchy was not an option because that was how the British rule their country. The Americans hated the British so much that they did not want anything to do with them at all. They didn't even want to do things like the British. A few years passed and the covered wagon was invented, they needed to build roads, or traces, to travel on. One thing led to another and since the British used the left side of the road (as they still do) and since the Americans wanted nothing to do with the British, they decided to use the right side of the road.

How to Take Off the Foot Joint of a Flute

      Sometimes the foot joint of a flute, when connected to the body joint, can be hard to remove. A lot of the newer flutes are made tighter around where they connect. Therefore, making it harder to pull off. Usually, twisting it back and forth without applying too much pressure on the springs will work. However, after playing and warming it up, the metal expands even further making it even more challenging. Using simple science I have found a way to simplify the process.

    When metal freezes, it expands. When metal is warmed, it expands. But, when metal is cooled but not frozen it contracts. Using this theory, place your connected body and foot joint into the fridge. It only takes about 3-5 minutes for it to contract. Then, take it out and twist the two joints back and forth, without applying too much pressure to the springs. They should come apart. If not, try putting it back into the fridge, and try twisting it again. If that doesn't work, call your local flute shop and have them take a look. They probably will not charge for such a simple job. They can also be very helpful if you have any other questions about the functions of your flute. Happy flute playing!

Express Yourself!

Nowadays, everyone is so busy with work and life, so they think that they don't have time to slow down and just find out their purpose. Everyone has a purpose in this world, and we all need to grasp and conquer it. The first step in doing that is finding your purpose, and with that comes finding out who you are. Is your purpose really to drive to and from work everyday and minding your own business, or does God have another plan for you? Express yourself to find out.

    You can express yourself in many ways whether it's spiritually, artistically, or through physical activity. Expressing yourself is anything that you do for yourself that doesn't earn you money, and you don't consider it a waste of time because you enjoy it. Go out and find your way of expressing yourself and run with it! Soon enough, you will be cleansed with newfound hope and be able to conquer your purpose!

     When it comes to your purpose, be creative. If your purpose is to inspire others, live it out! If it is to care for others, care for others; but no one's purpose is to mind their own business. We are social animals and life is at our fingertips! So express yourself for you, and live out your purpose for others!

Cabeza de Vaca

In 1528, the Spaniards started to explore the west coast of Florida. Four hundred men started out on the Narváez expedition in search of gold, one of them was Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. He was actually one of the chief officers. Several months from departure, they landed somewhere near present-day St. Petersburg, Florida. When they didn’t find gold there, the officers decided to lead the march north.

     Starvation killed many, and after fighting Native Americans through Florida’s swampy wilderness, there were only 242 men left. Many of them slaughtered and ate their horses just to survive, but then after another attack of Native Americans, the officers decided to flee to Mexico. They used anything they could find to build five makeshift boats in order to get the crew safely to Mexico City. At this point, there were only 80 survivors. Cabeza de Vaca led one of these boats, and after weeks of treacherous storms and hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, they wrecked onto present-day Galveston Island.

More starvation and disease decreased their number to 15 before they were enslaved by the Native Americans. As de Vaca put it, “We looked the very image of death and the north wind began to blow and we were closer to death than to life…” Though they faced much hardship, after six years in captivity, the four remaining men escaped. The four men were: Cabeza de Vaca, Estevanico, Dorantes, and Castillo. 

They were headed for Mexico City, but little did they know, it was 2,000 miles away. The group encountered numerous Indian tribes on their trip, who he traded with to get food for his group. Cabeza de Vaca was naked the entire trip because he used his clothed to repair the boats. When the crew finally reached Mexico City, they were received by Hernan Cortes, the Viceroy. There, Cabeza de Vaca told stories about the “seven golden cities” that the Indians told them about. In 1537 he sailed back to Europe.  After writing his reports, he went back to South America and was appointed governor of Río de la Plata in present-day Argentina.

The obstacles he and his crew faced are hard to imagine, but he returned to Europe alive and even wrote a book about his expedition.

Pro Animal Testing

For the most part, the human population has only been shown the bad parts of animal experimentation. The PETA organization finds the worst of the worst labs and broadcasts footage of the inhumane treatment of the lab animals. However, what they do not tell you are that there are many humane animal testing facilities (Animal Experimentation: Debatabase – Debate Topics and Debate Motions). These places keep the animals in pristine condition because anything less than the best would compromise the results (About Research). Also, they do not have reason to mistreat the animals. The animals are the ones leading them to great discoveries (HIV Drugs, Vaccines and Animal Testing). Animal testing should stay legal because the animals are treated well, humans benefit greatly from the discoveries, and it would sacrifice a scientific opportunity by not being able to test on beings that are so alike to humans.

            There are many humane animal testing facilities (Animal Experimentation: Debatabase – Debate Topics and Debate Motions). Firstly, what reasons do the scientists have to abuse the animals? In fact, many of them actually form bonds with the lab animals (HIV Drugs, Vaccines and Animal Testing). Also, these labs are kept in pristine condition, not only for the animals’ benefit, so that no extra variables are added to the experiments. Having too many variables could sway the results. In the U.K., if any animal is suffering from pain or distress from experimentation, it must be put down immediately. The U.K. and U.S. have many laws and regulations protecting animal rights (About Research).

            Also, animal research has led to many new discoveries. The findings from animal experimentation have affected nearly all fields of medicine (About Research). One lab at the University of California San Diego has found evidence on how cancer genes work a new vaccine for malaria, a treatment for lung disorders in premature infants, and many others (The Importance of Animal Research to Medical Discovery). Safety testing accounts for 1 in every 10 animal experiments, whether in cosmetics or medicines (About Research). Without safety testing we would be putting ourselves at risk. The animals can also benefit from animal testing because of veterinary testing, which occurs in 1 out of every 20 experiments. Veterinary animal experimentation has led to the treatment of rabies, anthrax, FIV, tuberculosis, Heartworms, and many others (History of Animal Testing).

            Lastly, we would be wasting a valuable scientific opportunity by not being able to test on beings so similar to humans. Humans share 99% of genes with chimpanzees and other primates (Animal Experimentation: Debatabase – Debate Topics and Debate Motions). In fact, humans are primates. However, primates are not used in testing very often. Dogs, cats, and monkeys are used in just 3 out of every 1000 experiments in the U.K. (About Research). Rodents such as mice and rats are more ideal because of their small size, naturally short life span, and abundancy. Their body structure and functions are also very comparable to that of a human (The Importance of Animal Research to Medical Discovery). Considering how alike these animals are to humans, it would be immoral to sacrifice a human life over that of a non-human (Animal Experimentation: Debatabase – Debate Topics and Debate Motions).

            In conclusion, PETA has not given us the whole story. There are many reasons to keep animal experimentation legal. Many more people would have died if the lab at UCSD did not discover a treatment for lung disorders in premature infants or a new vaccine for malaria (The Importance of Animal Research to Medical Discovery). There is no reason to take this great scientific opportunity away. It can do a lot of good. There are many new findings waiting to be found through animal research. Therefore, scientific experimentation using animals should continue because there are many humane testing facilities, it has led to many new discoveries, and we would be wasting an important scientific opportunity by not being able to test on beings that are so alike to humans.

Try a Triathlon

Triathlon? Swimming, biking, and running.. ha ha.. oh you were serious? Is this you? Well, triathlons are not as hard as you may think. They are actually pretty simple. You just need to know a few basics.

   Firstly, if you want to do a triathlon you need to commit. Register early fo that you will be positive that you want to go through with it, and also you may get a discount. Most  triathlons  are a bit pricey. Also, start training early, especially if it is your first, you don't want to get caught behind. Create a training plan and follow it strictly. Give yourself a couple of days off here and there, and train with swimming, biking, and running (since those are the events) and focus on your problem areas. About 3/4 of the way through your training, try to go to where the event is and simulate race day. Make sure you can go the distance and familiarize yourself with the course. Taper off your training as you near race day. The night before should be used to visualize your race and prepare you transition equipment. For more information on the transition check out this site.

  On the morning of the race, plan to arrive early in order to have space and time to set up your transition area. Relax and stay calm at this point. All of your training will have prepared for this event, so don't sweat it. The first triathlon is always stressful, but the good thing is that if you don't like it, you don't have to do another one, and if you do like it, after this you're a pro!

  Triathlon is a very challenging but simple sport. It's not for everyone and it takes a lot of endurance. Preparation is key. If you're interested.. Tri one!


White is clean and pure

A faithful perfectionism

Impossibly great

Controversial state

Overcome by fair process

Never concluded

The snow through the grass

Sparkle and shine in darkness

Illuminating faith

No one is pure white

But with Him we're forgiven

Saved in His white cloak

A cleansing of hope

Forever dipped in His strength

Power forever


10 Ways to Be Green This Christmas

The holidays can have a negative impact on you wallet, as well as the environment. Here are 10 ways to be "green" this holiday season

1. Buy a live tree.

Trees are renewable resources that can be replanted over and over again.

2. Use recycled wrapping paper.

3. LED lights.

Use energy efficient lights for decorating. Also, do not leave them on all the time. Turn them off during the day!

4.  Reuse decorations.

Do not go out and buy new decorations every year. Store old decor in boxes in a basement or attic and reuse them every year.

5. Precycle when buying gifts.

Precycling means conserving waste before you even buy it. At the store, do not buy gifts with a lot of plastic packaging.

6.  Recycle all your wrapping paper on Christmas morning.

Can you imagine how much wrapping paper is in our landfills? A lot. One way to cut down is by simply recycling. Bag up all your leftover wrapping paper scraps and put it in a recycling bin.

7. Avoid battery gifts.

Batteries are very wasteful, and can become hazardous when added to a landfill. So instead of buying the newest electronic toy for little Johnny, how about buy him a skateboard? It is environmentally friendly and a lot of fun, as well.

8.  Send ecards.

Sending Christmas cards can be a pain on your wallet, the environment, and your tongue from licking all those labels! So, this year try sending an ecard! You can upload a picture and most are even free!

9. Recycle your Christmas tree.

Check out this site to find places to recycle your tree.

10. Replant your Christmas (get a potted Christmas tree)

Potted Christmas trees are becoming very popular. The roots are bundled in a sack and the tree has the same meaning, it's just "greener".

   I hope thes tips will help you help the environment this holiday season.

A Study on Girls Who Play Video Games

A psychiatrist at Yale University recently did a study on the effects of video games on teens. An anonymous survey was sent out in Connecticut and about 30% of teen girls age 14-18 played video games often. According to the study, this gaming had an effect on them and the girls who played tended to be more aggressive than the girls who did not. However, it was not the same for boys. The gaming did not have a significant effect on boys in the same age group. The research also found that it was more likely for a girl who played video game to get involved with alcohol and marijuana, but again it had no affect on boys. Though, surprisingly, video games had no effect on their grades in school, boy or girl. Needless to say, playing "Black Ops" all day could get in the way of homework, and stray your brain from new opportunities, but it does not have a significant effect. It is hard to come to a break through conclusion from this data, but it is definitely a start.

Clever Bot

Words can barely describe It is fun, time-wasting, and just plain hilarious! The page looks a lot like the google homepage, but when you type something into the search bar, cleverbot types back. It is basically like having an instant messaging conversation with a computer. It so random! Here is an example of a typical conversation:

User: HEY BFF.

Cleverbot: Hey.

User: So today was like totally rad.

Cleverbot: Yes, yes it was. Are you a jigglypuff?

User: Yes how'd you know?!?!?!?

Cleverbot: My name is Cleverbot. Do you know who I am talking to?

User: Me, cause I'm totally awesome.

Cleverbot: I agree. You are awesome.

User: I know right! Some people are just crazy.

Cleverbot: And some people are bots.

User: I know right! Wow great minds think alike.

Cleverbot: You thinking what I'm thinking?

User: You bet. SHOPPING!! Guess what?!?!!

Cleverbot: You just saved a ton of money on car insurance!?

User: NO! Today I had to take 2 tests! I mean me. It's like they don't know who I am. Teachers are craaazy.

Cleverbot: Those things really do not interest me. Change of topic?

User: Well then. Let's talk about..... ME.

Cleverbot: Yes, talk about you.

User: So what do you want to know about me?

Cleverbot: Are you where you thought you would be?

User: Yes! I thought after school I would be in my bed and I am!


Cleverbot: Do you know what a ophthalmic migraine is?

User: No.

Cleverbot: Who does?


Cleverbot: I don't think there is a way this could be true.

User: How not?

Cleverbot: Because you're a human.

User: Yes I am.

Cleverbot: I am human as well.

User: Wow we have so much in common!

Cleverbot: What else do we have in common?

User: Well what's your favorite color?

Cleverbot: Anastasia. Yours?

User: Anastasia!

Cleverbot: Anastasia is a beautiful name.

User: Yes it is. That's my name!

Cleverbot: No its not.

It is so much fun! I reccommend it. Clever Bot

Thanksgiving Calorie Count

A glass of cider or juice, Six ounces of white and dark turkey, Half a cup of stuffing, Half a cup of cranberry sauce, Half a cup of mashed potatoes, Half a cup of gravy, Half a cup of green bean casserole, A dinner roll, A pat of butter, A slice of pecan pie, Half a cup of whipped cream, ...that comes to 2065 calories. You will need to walk 20.65 miles, 33.30 kilometers, or 41300 steps, assuming you cover one mile in 2,000 steps.

That is an average Thanksgiving meal, and it actually might be less than what some people eat. An average woman needs 2000 calories a day. This one meal is over capacity. One thing you can do to stay healthy for this holiday is to cut down. It doesn't have to be much, but a little less can go a long way. Also, since you are consuming more, you also need burn more. Simple things like going for a walk, playing football in the yard, playing interactive video games (wii sports, guitar hero if you dance, and DDR), and ping-pong can burn a lot of calories and also bring your family closer this holiday season. Have a great holiday, but don't forget to count those calories!

Thanksgiving Calorie Counter

Interview with a Meteorologist

Here is an interview with meteorologist Jim O'Brien from Fox 59:

What sparked your interest in weather? 

 As a child I was frightened of tornadoes and I wanted to learn more and this eventually became a job.

Describe an average day at work.

 Up a 2:20am…at work by 3:30am…on air at 4:40am until 10:00am…lots of radio recordings, map making, forecasting

How do you use clouds to help you forecast weather?

 Clouds are very useful in prediction temperatures, storm type and approaching storms

Where did you go to school and receive additional training? 

Western Kentucky University, Portland State and Mississippi State

What advice would you give to someone who might want to be a meteorologist?  

Learn your geography, study math and become a good public speaker!

What special projects does the meteorology department undertake?

 Field studies of weather on the environment and flood control as well as storm chasing

What major strengths and assets are required to do well in your position?

 A solid knowledge of the atmosphere and how it works daily to create our weather

What are your daily duties and responsibilities?

 5.5 hours of television on-air weather, radio, weather blogs, and internet updates

Are certain duties specific to weekly, monthly or annual time frames?

Year round

What weather instruments are most useful? 

 Mostly all done by using computerized instruments and a solid knowledge of the region you live in

What specific things do you need to know in pursuit of this career?

 Study hard and go to college


A Vegetarian's Guide to Thanksgiving

Turkey day can be rough for vegetarians, but this guide will help you not only get through it, but maybe even enjoy it!
First, if you are traveling, make sure the rest of your family understands that your views on meat. I have come across this before, and we spent the entire meal discussing my reasoning. It was not fun. Sometimes, whoever is making the feast will offer to make you something special. Vegetarian style.

     If not, prepare a dish that is both appetizing to you and to others. Sharing is always nice, especially when it could help inform someone about becoming vegetarian. The food is great in the vegetable world! Also, prepare your argument. I don't know your family, but my family loves to bring it up. "So, violet, why are you a vegetarian", "Violet, you are going to get anemia!", "Get some protein!" are just a few of the overused debate starters. Prepare yourself, and don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, and make them feel awkward eating meat in front of you, even if it is your family.

   If you are in a rush, or simply do not want to make an extravagant dish, Morning Star frozen entres are perfect. My personal favorite is the Sweet & Sour Chicken (fake chicken) frozen entre, which can be found at most grocery stores in the frozen food section. Also, Morning Star makes fake chicken sandwiches, fake chicken nuggets, and fake burgers. They are all delicious, except for the fake bacon... it's a  little questionable. Also, simple vegetable pasta dishes and an assortment of tofu work well on this holiday weekend.

    The holiday meals with the family can be rough for vegetarians, but there are ways to survive it. Just be prepared with your meal, and stand up for what you believe in. Good luck fellow vegetarians and happy Thanksgiving!


Sexing Dwarf Gourami Fish

After many google searches for more information on the elusive dwarf gourami, I am here to tell you everything that you need to know about sexing these fish. Almost all pet stores that you will go to to purchase your fish will only carry males. The male dwarf gourami is bright orange with iridescent light blue vertical stripes. They males are gorgeous fish especially compared to the females of this species. For most, the only reason that you would need female dwarf gourami is if you wanted to breed them. If that is the case, you will need to call a local pet store (not Petsmart, Petco, or any other large chain) and special order the females. Or you could always order them online, but that gets a little risky. The females are silvery white and are almost a half inch smaller than the male, the look like a different species. If you go to a pet store it will be obvious whether they carry females or not, but usually you can special order them. Do not be fooled, like I was!

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

In short, Alzheimer's disease is memory loss. Alzheimer's occurs when there are uneven levels of communication chemicals in the brain, one of them being acetylcholine. Then, the brain tissue disintegrates and forms plaque and tangles. Alzheimer's cannot be properly diagnosed until an autopsy is performed when these plaque and tangles are found, but neurologists can give an approximate diagnosis using MRI and neuropsychological tests. This method is accurate about 90% of the time. 

   This disease leads to forgetfulness, trouble completing day-to-day tasks, and confusion. Researchers don't even know the causes, but some risk factors may be age (65+), head injury, family history, and simply genetics. The most severe cases are found in people over the age of 65. Because of this, someone once asked me if they called it Alzheimer's because it sounds like "old timers". However, Alzheimer's can start at the age of 40-50 at the stage called early on-set Alzheimer's. In this stage, symptoms are very minor and are mostly not noticeable.

  Alzheimer's can affect a person in many ways. In the later stages it takes a physical toll with weakened muscles, slow reaction time, and loss of coordination. The mental and emotional effects are quite obvious with loss of awareness, wandering and getting lost, confusion, and memory loss. It can also affect a person socially with forgetting friends and family members name, lack of interest, loss of motivation, and just not wanting to do anything all day. Living with Alzheimer's is a struggle, not only for the person who has it, but for the family, as well.

  There is no cure for this disease yet, but there are treatments. There are two drugs approved by the FDA to treat some symptoms: Cholinesterase inhibitors and Memantine. Also, there are some non-drug approaches that may help such as: change of environment, providing extra safety and security, and being flexible and patient with this individual. Alzheimer's disease is the 7th leading cause of death. Since it is incurable thus far, researchers are furiously searching for a cure. One way to help is to donate to the Alzheimer's Association or to participate in the Memory Walk.

  Alzheimer's disease is not preventable. It will almost always end in death. Eventually, the plaque and tangles mutate your entire brain and you are unable to do anything at all. What makes Alzheimer's so terrible is the fact that it is progressive and cannot be reversed. It goes through about 11 stages before death. If you know someone who has memory loss or some of these symptoms, please contact a doctor. Alzheimer's is serious and the earlier diagnosed, the better.

A Review of "The Office"

"The Office" is hilarious and beyond entertaining, not to mention very realistic. The main setting is in an office building in Scranton, Pennsylvania in present-day. The business, Dunder Mifflin, struggles to keep their paper business going in the changing economy. The boss, Michael Scott (Steve Carrel), fails miserably at most productive tasks, while he leads the office into distraction. The show is very real with realistic scenes and personal interviews. Humor is always right around the corner. Funny quotes will sneak up on you and keep you laughing for days. There are complex relationships between employees, budget cuts, company outings, and hoiday parties that keep the office alive and awake. The humor in "The Office" is mainly dry and ironic, but aso the immediate satisfaction of stupidity. I highly reccommend this show of mass distraction!

How to Prepare for the SSAT

The SSAT, or Secondary School Admissions Test, is very important for those taking it. Schools that require the SSAT are basically dream schools, and the test scores are thoughtfully considered for admission, as well as scholarships. The best thing that you can do to get great scores is to do a great job preparing.

It is very important for the SSAT to know how it works. There are four sections and an essay. There is verbal, two quantitative, and reading comprehension sections. The verbal section contains 60 questions and you are given 30 minutes. There are two quantitative sections, both with 25 questions and 25 minutes, and a reading comprehension section with 40 questions and 30 minutes. Finally, there is an essay with 25 minutes.

It is also very important to know how it is scored. Every question that you get right receives one point, and for every incorrect question you are docked 1/4 of a point. Any question that you do not answer, you are not credited for. So, logically, you would want to eliminate at least 2 answer choices before guessing, since there are five answer choices for every question.

For the verbal section, I highly reccommend honing your vocabulary. Read more, and when you come across a word that you do not know, write it down and look it up later. Then, make flashcards. The flashcards are key. Join a site like Studystack or Quizlet, and use it to your advantage.

For the math section, if you are in the eighth grade and taking Algebra 1 or a similar class, you should just look over past worksheets, tests, and notes. If your class level is not that high, I suggest buying the Kaplan 2010 SSAT & ISEE book. It is very helpful in math as well as all of the other sections, and includes a couple practice tests that are set up almost identical to the actual test.

For the essay section, write, write, and write some more. Write stories, poems, practice essays, articles, and even blogs. The more you write the better you write, same goes with the rest of preparing. Though the best way to prepare is to simply relax. No one can do well on any test when they are stressed.

If you use these tips and buy the Kaplan 2010 SSAT & ISEE book, you will be prepared to the fullest for the test day. Good luck getting in to your dream school!

A Word About Goals: The Bar

How is it possible to enjoy something without being the best? Striving again and again for the perfection that is unreachable. How can you have confidence in what you are about to do, if you think you can't win?

   Why do we set our goals just low enough so we will not be disappointed? Life is a challenge and we must accept it. Don't set your bar low enough to reach. Set it high enough to have to try your hardest and do the best you never knew you could. It's not advice, but a commandment. Live your life to its fullest by trying everything and finding what you love to do.

   Have faith in what you do so that when you come back from your final flipturn, or cut through the ribbon of the finish line, you will be proud. A metal will be draped around your neck and you will stand tall, with pride in your eyes and courage in your smile, and you won't be able to wait,  to do it again.

10 Ways To Do Well in Middle School

We have all been there and yes, middle school was tough, not just in academics, but in friends, relationships, sports, and everything else that goes along with teenage dilemmas. Here I have 10 ways to get by:

1. Find a group of friends and stick with them.

In adolescent years, nothing is harder than making and keeping friends. An easy way to make a friend is just to go up and introduce yourself (it is not as intimidiating as it may seem). Sit with them at lunch and most likely, they will introduce you to their other friends. Be bold.

2. Stay away from "popular" cliques.

At every middle school, there is a group pegged as the popular kids. They are usually the ones with the most wealthy families, boyfriends/girlfriends, and a lot of people that hate them out of envy. This is not always the case, but 9 out of 10 times it is. Steer clear from them because you could be back stabbed, you could get into trouble, and most of the time it is not very good for your self-esteem.

3. Hit the books.

Though texting and friends can get in the way, your schoolwork is very important. It determines, basically, the rest of your life. Do not neglect it. Ask questions in class, and always finish your homework!

4. Form good relationships with your teachers.

Over the course of the year, you will have many teachers, and it is important to take advantage of those learning opportunities. Be willing to stay after school for help.

5. Join extracurricular clubs and activities.

Joing activities and after-school clubs can be fun, and you can also make a lot of new friends.They will help you find your interests.

6. Learn a foreign language.

Take a foreign language at your school, or if they do not offer one, learn it on your own with a beginner book or even online. It helps so much in language arts class as well as high school foreign language classes.

7. Set goals.

Once a month, I encourage you to write down a list of goals for anything and everything. On my list, I had a goal for everything from 4-h to swimming and everything in between. Goals help you stay focused and motivated.

8. Get started in a sport now.

If you want to be good at a sport later, you need to start now, in middle school. Middle school is a perfect time to test out what you like and don't like, and also what you are good at and not good at. So, try a sport and if you don't like it, so what, its still a great workout.

9. Boyfriends/Girlfriends

Today's standards on having a boyfriend/girlfriend in middle school  can either build you up or break you down. "Going out" with the opposite gender can not only ruin you self-esteem, but it can also distract you from school. I am not discouraging it, but it should definitly not be a priority.

10. Stay fit.

Staying healthy and fit is very good for your self image and esteem. It will also make you live longer and give you more energy, so go outside and play. Just because you are a teenager doesn't mean that you can't go out and play like a kid! Eating healthy can also be a challenge with gross school lunches, so pack your lunch and eat you fruits and vegetables.

  Middle school can be some tough years, but make the best of it. You're still a kids. The only difference is that adults have higher expectations, so live up to them, and have fun!

All About The Sampler

The Sampler is a place for random people and random posts. There is no correlation between any of the posts, so its aimed to spark your interest in new ideas and to distract you from whatever you were trying to read about. Enjoy! Contact me if you want to post something :)