Calculating Your Way Through Life

Pre-Alegebra, Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Pre-College Math, Intermediate Algebra, Math for Liberal Arts, College Algebra, Finite Math, College Calculus, Elementary Probability and Statistics, Introduction to Linear Algebra, Analytic Geometry, Discrete Math, Math Content, Essential Geometry, Abstract Algebra, and the list goes on. Every high school and college is determined to cram as much math down our throats as possible before releasing us into the real world. As an English aficionado, I rebelled against the system as much as I could, by putting off algebra until 9th grade, squeaking out of high school without having to touch real calculus, CLEPing out of College Algebra, and selecting a major that only requires two math classes. I didn’t care how much my mother, teachers, and professors assured me that I was good at math or how many A’s were slapped on my Algebra exams. Three credit hours and a CLEP test later, I was gonna be done with math for the rest of my life… Or so I thought.

I graduated from pre-nursing here at DBU, and I had 8 months of freedom in the real world, until I would begin my two year adventure of nursing school. I decided to plan ahead and be productive, as my professors taught during their mere sixteen weeks with me each of my four semesters at DBU. I had heard from multiple sources that working during nursing school was nearly impossible, so saving up enough money with this eight months gifted to me should probably be a priority during my time of nothingness.

So, Responsible Michelle got a job; well, she got another job, technically, because she already had her marvelous job at the DBU Writing Center. She got a job as a medical scribe. But because she had two occupations, she started living like she had disposable income. She ate out with her friends several times a week, bought Starbucks whenever she wanted, frequented Sonic for her favorite Mini Reese’s Sonic Blast with M&Ms, bought Ed Sheeran tickets for her sister’s birthday, and otherwise lived like a queen, even taking her parents out to eat a couple of times. Then, one day, she decided to check on how her savings were going for nursing school, only to find they really had not grown at all. In fact, they were smaller than they had been when she graduated from DBU. Responsible Michelle learned that she was not responsible at all. Responsible Michelle then realized all of those math and finance classes she took in high school and college were not lying when they tried to teach her that if she spends more than she makes, she will not be able to save any money. Emphasis on tried.

Even as “Responsible Michelle,” she still needed a game plan. She didn’t work 40+ hours a week to enter nursing school in the same financial situation that she had when she had graduated from DBU. I needed (drum roll please)… a budget. (Insert face palm and crying emoji here.)

There were two ways I could do this. Thankfully, I had actually been paying attention in math class when budgeting was explained. I knew I could write down on paper all the needs, wants, and expenses I expected each month and assign appropriate percentages of predicted paychecks to each item on the list. However, I had a goal. I couldn’t just will-nilly buy every Starbucks, Sonic, and Ed Sheeran wanted. I had to save enough money to survive a whole semester just in these few months, no matter how much that Grande White Mocha with Peppermint was calling my name.

Seven hundred and fifty dollars per month is what I needed to save! With four of the eight months left I had to try to be responsible, the savings would total an additional $3000 dollars that could be added to the bank account. Problem: this would only leave, give or take, $250 dollars a month. (I see those raised eyebrows. I chose these jobs for the experience, not the money. If you can find a medical job that pays more than $8 an hour but does not require any certifications or medical training, let me know.) I had recently acquired a car, thanks to my parents’ moving overseas, but that now meant that I needed money for gas, oil, repairs, and insurance (none of which are cheap, when you often drive 45 minutes to get to work, believe me), in addition to all the other expenses I already had each month.

I grimaced as I opened the calculator on my phone. Why, oh why, had it come down to this? Enough complaining; I needed to get it done. So I got down to business. I added up the hours I would work in each paycheck, which differed every day because I rarely worked the same hours each week. I then remembered it was not as simple as taking that number and multiplying it by the number of dollars I made for each of those hours. Oh, no, the government had to take its chunk out of that hard-earned money first. Since I was paid hourly, I used an online website to do that part of the calculation for me. I did this for both paychecks for the month. Too much math to recount later, I had the amount of money I would earn that month.

Somewhere along this journey, I found the Dave Ramsey app EveryDollar (which I highly recommend, btw). I inputted my income information for September into this app, and I then started the process of subtracting out the things I knew would be charged to my account that month (sigh). There was a bunch of math required surrounding my car, from having to calculate the mileage of my car to calculating the number of miles I drove to and from work every day. Then I had to add in the periodic oil changes, insurance payments, and unexpected maintenance. The monthly payments for my child sponsorship and Spotify membership, and the yearly payments for Amazon Prime were also subtracted from this amount. I had so much math to do, but I did it all!

I finally breathed a sigh of relief. I had spent hours doing all of these initial calculations, but it was done. That first month, I could not go out to eat, buy another Starbucks, or really do anything that I wanted to do. But the next month, I was able to do a little more, and, the next, even more. I started catching up. Budgeting seemed horrible to me at first, like a grumpy parent that wouldn’t let me do anything. But I no longer second guessed my buying choices, and my heart didn’t sink when I had an unexpected expense. A plan was in place, and I put what I wanted and needed into that plan. My life was a little less stressful, as I knew I would now have plenty of extra money for nursing school, while still having enough for gas and groceries. I knew at the very beginning of the month how much money I needed to make when arranging babysitting jobs or extra shifts. My life had the structure it needed to make it easier now and more rewarding by achieving future goals.

Goodbye, oh beautiful Pumpkin Spice Latte with those crunchy orange sprinkles and frothy whipped cream. Goodbye, my sweet, savory PeiWei Original with Chicken and noodles, my love. My dear Ed, while I adore your perfect skill and sessions of thinking out loud together, there is a higher calling for those numbers in my savings account. I am on to better things, to higher things, things that, sadly, outweigh my love for all of you. My bank account requires more of me, a better me, and a version of me that understands what is really a priority in this life. I need to again become and further aspire to be Responsible Michelle.

Written by Michelle

Image Credit

Advertisements

Spooky Snacks

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Since the summer season of sodas and snow cones has come to an end, festive fall foods are finally flourishing! With the 31st of October quickly approaching, here are two tantalizing treats that tend to the typical trend.

Halloween Candy Bark

Ingredients:1

  • 3 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups of assorted candy, cut into bite sized pieces

Instructions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pour the chocolate chips into a glass bowl and melt them in the microwave.

2

Pro tip: Make sure to stir the chips every 10-15 seconds and continue checking on them to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn!

 

  1. Pour the chocolate onto the parchment paper, and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer about ¼-inch thick.
  2. Sprinkle the chopped candy on top of the chocolate and place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for 30-40 minutes, just until the chocolate has fully hardened.

3(College students beware: you may have to borrow some of your roommate’s fridge shelf to fit that whole sheet in the fridge!)

  1. Remove the bark from the fridge and carefully slide it (including parchment paper) off of the baking sheet and onto a cutting board.

Pro-tip: A spatula may be helpful to separate it from the paper.4

  1. Pull out your biggest knife and creatively cut the bark into irregularly shaped pieces.
  2. Serve immediately or save it for later by storing the bark in an air-tight contai
  3. ner.

Texas Tip: DO NOT leave your candy bark outside or in a warm car for more than two minutes unless attempting to make a Halloween Candy Lake.

 

Having a healthier hoopla? Consider Candy Corn Kebabs!

Candy Corn Fruit Kebabs 

5

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 papaya
  • 1/2 pineapple
  • Toothpicks (AKA mini Kebab sticks)

Instructions:

  1. Peel your banana, pineapple, and papaya.
  2. Cut pineapple and papaya in half length-ways. Repeat on the pieces you just cut so that each fruit is sliced into four equal pieces.
  3. Now, core/deseed the pineapple and papaya.

READ CLOSELY HERE:

  1. Slice each piece of fruit horizontally at the same width (about 1 cm or 1/3 inch).7
  2. Cut the banana slices into six even triangular pieces. Cut the pineapple and papaya into curved strips.
  3. Now the fun part! Place fruit on the mini Kebab sticks. First pineapple, then papaya, and last but not least… the banana!

Eek! Entertaining is easy with these exceptional eats! Enjoy these envious editions at any evening event.

Written by Leah

Featured Image Credit

 

Love Around the Clock

Inside the bedazzled, windowless walls of the University Writing Center, visitors and staff are sure to be bombarded with the pleasant aroma of roasting coffee beans and the most recent choice of Bath and Body Works scents. While engaged in their regular responsibilities, staff members may periodically tune into the bouts of sarcasm and wit shared amongst comrades or take pleasure in hearing the office Alexa tell a terrible joke. If staff members should become chilly, something we in the office believe is due to a lack of natural light, they could easily bundle up in a blanket, which are draped conveniently on the back of each chair. Best of all, workers are afforded a few moments throughout the day to put down their work in order to play. Items like Etch a Sketch, coloring books, squishy sand, and trinkets are staged around the room, inviting all to take a moment to relax. Small yet thoughtful office additions such as these not only make working in the UWC more enjoyable, they are a reflection of how considerate and caring the boss is.

Kā understands that her employees are more than writing tutors and data keepers; they are humans with feelings. In fact, the staff has many times been banished from the office during slow hours to go walk, stretch, or admire the art around the building to find a moment of relief. She bridges efficiency and productivity with stimulation and emotional self-care, which doesn’t seem to be the case in most 9-5 jobs.

She distinguishes herself from other employers by encouraging her staff to be great employees and great people in general by combining professionalism and empathy. Her desire for her employees to be the best they possibly can shows immensely as she models a great balance of supervision and mentorship by allowing staff members to transition into leadership roles and providing career-building advice.

My boss finds it invaluable for our staff to be continuously improving, encouraging us to attend writing center conferences, gain national tutoring certifications, and regularly attend staff meetings. Beyond the demands of work, she takes interest in our personal lives. Of course, that doesn’t mean mani-pedi’s every weekend or inappropriate dilly-dallying. But she does invite individuals to sit in the plush blue chair nestled in her corner of the office, and she listens with the compassion and sensitivity of a mother with her own child. Many can recall her often tearing up when being overtaken with passion and empathy for the staff she loves so much. Beyond the requirements of this 9-5 job is a boss that loves and cares for her staff around the clock. Happy National Boss’ Day, Kā!

Written by Ashley

Image Credit

 

Never Grow Up

Ever been to Disney World? If not, then I seriously recommend and encourage you to do so. I have been four times in my lifetime, and all four trips have been fun-filled and simply magical. (I know that’s cheesy, but it’s so true.) Lots of people may consider Disney stuff “just for kids,” but I believe Disney is for everyone. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy letting their inner child shine for a bit? The last trip to Disney World I made with my family, I was 20 years old and my younger sister was 17, but we acted like we were 6-year-old children.

Before we even arrived at Disney, my sister and I were so excited we could barely keep ourselves from bouncing off the walls. We decided to bring as many Disney stuffed animals as we could, or more accurately, as many as our parents would allow in the car. The road trip was about 18 hours with a couple of rests in between, but we started to listen to more and more Disney music the closer we got to Orlando. I’m not talking about only the princess songs like “A Whole New World” and “I See the Light.” I’m talking about soundtracks to all Disney movies from “April Showers” in Bambi to the overture of Monsters Inc. (My whole family is really into all things Disney.) You’d think we would have gotten tired of it all, but we definitely did not. Each song only amped us up more for the experience to come.

There were so many things to do at the parks. Each park is so unique and incredible. So many shows to see, coasters to ride, games to play, foods to eat, and characters to meet. My family and I stayed for a week and didn’t have the chance to do everything that we wanted to do. But the activities we did do were amazing.

Magic Kingdom was one of the first parks I went to. Of all of the different rides here, my favorites were the Mountains: Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain. Don’t let the names fool you; these rides are very different. Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster that is supposed to look like you’re whizzing through outer space. I saw stars inside the Mountain and after riding it. Thunder Mountain is a tamer coaster that’s outside and made to look like an old Western mining site, so there are lots of explosions. My sister and I would take turns squashing each other in the one big coaster seat by leaning dramatically on the larger curves and turns. Splash Mountain is the wettest ride in Magic Kingdom, as implied by the name. Most of it is pretty relaxing except for the 50 foot drop at a near 90 degree angle. My family decided to ride this one at the hottest point of the day, so luckily we were quite cool for the rest of the time we spent in the park.

But not everything is about the rides. My sister and I loved meeting different characters from our favorite shows. My sister had the opportunity to meet and chat with Peter Pan. Both of them were very uppity in their conversation, and I think my sister may as well have been flying after that interaction she was so happy. I think meeting Chewbacca and getting a hug from him was my favorite part of the entire trip. (I am a HUGE Star Wars fan, so I was excited to see any of the characters.) I had no idea what he was saying, but I am sure it was nothing but polite and complimentary. We even had a few run-ins with some storm troopers who were “punishing” rebel sympathizers, meaning they would find people who were wearing anything to do with the rebel alliance (symbols, pictures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi robes, etc.), then put them in a random corner, and walk away. It was quite a hilarious sight to see.

I could rave on and on about what I saw at Disney World. I could tell of how I oohed and awed over the fireworks every night, how my sister and I tried on every single silly hat we could find in the gift shops, how we also almost made ourselves sick in the spinning tea cup ride, or how I teared up when we had to leave to go home. I have so many fond memories from these child-like experiences with my family. And I think that is because at Disney World, I’m allowed to be a little kid again.

Written by Taylor C.

Image Credit

Do Bees Have Knees?

If you grew up in the south like I did, you’ve probably heard more strange idioms than you can count. It seems as if the qualifications for being a southern grandma include having a name like Mamaw and meeting a nonsensical idiom quota. However, have you ever stopped to wonder what these sayings mean or where they come from? Well, I’ve got the answers for you. Here is a list of some strange idioms and adages and what they really mean.

  1. “Don’t wear white after Labor Day.”

As it turns out, this phrase stems from an upper-class sense of superiority in the late 1800s. In order for affluent women to distinguish between themselves and lower class impostors, they created a series of absurd fashion rules that only rich women knew. Not wearing white after Labor Day was one of them.

Source

  1. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Most people who have heard this phrase understand it to mean that you can’t “have it all.” The phrase comes from the mid-1500s, with the first documented use being in 1546. Essentially, it means you cannot both eat the cake and still have it; you have to choose between the two things.

Source

  1. “One in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

This phrase is fairly simple. It means it’s better to hold onto what you have than risk it for the possibility of something better. The phrase originated from medieval falconry practices in 16th century England. Fun fact: the original phrase was written as “Better one byrde in hande than ten in the wood.”

Source

  1. “Selling like hotcakes”

It is believed that this term came about in the mid-1800s because pancakes, or hotcakes, were common food at fairs and socials. At these busy events, the crowding resulted in a rush at the pancake stand. The phrase most likely developed as a slang term from such occurrences. It simply means to be in high demand and sell quickly.

Source

  1. “The big cheese”

This phrase originated in England in the 1800s as simply “the cheese.” That phrase by itself was a slang term meaning something was a big deal. Experts suggest that the phrase came about when English colonizers misheard the Hindi word chiz, which means “a thing.” When it crossed the pond to America, we added “big,” likely because of the large wheels of cheese produced in America at the time.

Source

  1. “Take it with a grain of salt.”

As it turns out, this phrase came from a 17th century recipe for a poison antidote. The grain of salt was added to a mix of nuts, herbs, and fruits. The meaning comes from the idea that with this mixture in his or her body, a person could disregard potential poisons he or she might encounter. Thus, if you take something with a grain of salt, you can disregard it.

Source

  1. “Dead as a doornail”

Obviously, this phrase means something is very dead, and most people probably recognize it from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The phrase was first used in the 1300s to mean dead, and was popularized later by William Shakespeare. The reason doornails are considered dead is because the process of hammering one into a door and bending the protruding end to keep it from falling out would render the nail useless afterwards.

Source

  1. “The bee’s knees”

This phrase simply means cool or in fashion, and was popular in the U.S. in the 1920s. It originally was supposed to mean “nonsense” because it was a nonsense expression. The reason that the phrase now means “cool” is unknown. It likely evolved from local slang.

Source

There you have it, folks. Now you can consider yourself well-informed and share this knowledge with the world. And, next time you use one of these phrases, you can relish in the fact that you know where it comes from.

Written by Taylor H.

Image Credit

Four Pranks You’d Be a Fool Not to Try in April

Four Pranks You’d be a Fool Not to Try in April

Ah! April has returned, bearing the fruits of a new season. Oh, the lovely spring showers, colorful meadows, and plenty of pranks to try out on April Fools’ Day.

It is said that April Fools’ Day began in France with little children tapping fish heads on their peer’s backs and calling the day “Poisson d’Avril.” Scotland used their two-day rendition to kick off the first “kick me” signs. With great American appreciation for the first day of April, I give you my top four pranks for April Fool’s:

  1. Idle iPhone- For this prank, simply grab a friend’s unlocked iPhone and take a screenshot of their primary home screen page. Next, hold down an app until it begins to move and slide the apps to one of their secondary home screen pages. Next, set the screenshot as the background image for the phone. Voila! Now you may enjoy the next ten minutes of your friends techno tantrum.  You’re welcome!
  2. Freshly Squeezed Cheese- Ah! Ah-ha! The day is new and your roommate has just peeled his or her head off the pillow and is clearly in need of some morning motivation. Be a good roomie and fetch some breakfast. Maybe make some eggs and bacon served with a tall glass of orange juice. Instead of pulling out your carton of Minute Maid, serve something a bit less tasty. Grab a box of macaroni and cheese and remove the cheese mix from the box. Pour the cheese mix into a pitcher of water. Add more water if needed to dilute the color until it looks like orange juice and serve. That surely will wake up the deepest of sleepers and make for an interesting reaction.

Looking to turn up the heat a notch and be a terrible friend? These are for you:

  1. “Did I do that?”- Act as if you are clumsily ruining a friend’s life by pretending to wreck his/her gear. One idea would be to stage a spill on an open laptop or computer. Pour out some nail polish or bottle glue onto wax paper and let it dry. Afterwards, remove the dried substance and place it on the keyboard along with an empty bottle of the items so that it appears to have just spilled. You’ll adore that ghostly look on your BFF’s face when she considers the damage you’ve done. She’ll love you!
  2. “I see you!”-  Print colored pictures of scary characters and realistic looking hands and tape them in high traffic areas partway behind curtains, around walls, and other objects. Anyone who falls victim to noticing these peeping figures will surely despise the soul who almost made them wet their pants.

For the best pranks, take stock of your friend’s personalities. Be sure to know what they might find amusing and what might be downright offensive or hurtful. If you want to be known in your friend group as the mischievous and clever prank king or queen and still have a friend group, take caution before pranking your friends. These pranks are meant for everyone, including the “victim” to enjoy, not to be insensitive, disrespectful, or hurtful. “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV). So, use caution before proceeding!

Written by Ashley

Image credit

Take Care of Your Characters

Have you ever been writing a story and get the worst writer’s block? Maybe you simply can’t figure out where the plot should go or why your characters are even in the situation in the first place. If you’ve had this experience, don’t worry. You are not alone. (If you haven’t, then I am jealous of your talent.) A good method to use when you get writer’s block is to focus on your characters. The plot is definitely the main element of a story, but the characters have a huge impact on where the plot is going.

If you’re like me, then you can get caught up in all the plot details like how Person A and Person B will finally fall in love and be together or how the hero will climb out of the hopeless situation he’s been thrown into. These, along with many other types of plot details, rely on characters. If you can figure out what you want your character’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations to be, then you can figure out where your story is going.

One thing I like to do in order to keep everything organized in my brain and give me a visual aid is make character sheets. I compile a list of all the things I would want to know about my character. And this isn’t limited to a simple description like eye color, hair style, body type, and clothing. Although appearances can give certain clues to the identities of people, they do not tell the entire story. You can also list personality traits. What mood are they in most of the time? Give both the good and bad side of their character. Also, list some other random facts about them. What annoys your character to the nth degree? What can they simply not resist? What is their sense of humor like? What are their greatest fears? Do they have any deep, dark secrets? All of these attributes can affect your characters’ actions and therefore guide the plot of your story in a specific direction.

If you’ve got all this stuff down already, then maybe it’s time for a plot twist of some sort; you may need something unexpected to happen. Well, this may sound harsh, but to do this, you’ll probably need to put your character through a little (or a lot) of turmoil. But don’t be afraid to be mean to your characters. A lot of the time, the most influential moment in a novel or short story is when something negatively impacts the characters, especially the main protagonist. If they take something for granted, take it away, whether it be an object or a person. It will cause them to either change routes or test their commitment to a certain path. Maybe they have a belief or a certain someone or something they believe in. Make them doubt it. Make them confused. They may choose to seek out another truth or maybe they will overcome it and have a new, stronger faith. Remember their worst fears? Use them. They could fall in defeat or overcome it.

I used a couple of these methods when I was in one of my creative slumps as I was writing one of my fantasy stories. I specifically turned to my protagonist’s loved ones. My young, orphaned heroine had recently begun to form a positive and growing relationship with her newfound father figure and mentor, and she couldn’t have felt happier or safer with him. The plot grew to a standstill because the protagonist felt too safe and had no reason to move forward in her quest, so I decided that this was the time the villain should strike and take away this new safety from my heroine. I didn’t exactly kill the beloved mentor off, but I left barely enough hope for the heroine to hold onto so that she would have the motivation to continue her quest and fulfill her destiny in my story. Saving him and the goal of her quest became the same, so if she believed that she could save her mentor, then she would have the motivation to fulfill her destiny in completing her quest.

You can use these concepts and techniques to both develop your characters’ identities and push the story forward. Thinking about your characters, their actions, their beliefs, their fears will help aim the plot of your story in a certain direction. Without your characters, there would be no story.

Written by Taylor Hayes

Image credit