Life

5 Reasons to Love Masks

I hear people complaining about masks all of the time. I know people who blatantly refuse to wear them correctly, and others who will wear them the right way but can’t help but point out how much of a nuisance they are.

Unpopular opinion: I don’t mind them. In fact, I even like them sometimes.

Here are five reasons why people shouldn’t be hating on masks:

1. They keep your face warm

Okay, I don’t know if you live in a place where winter is nasty, but where I live, the cold weather was prolonged and not very fun.

I don’t like winter. The snow is pretty to look at, but trekking to classes every day through it was less than desirable.

I have to say, having a mask to cover my face this year was a blessing. And since it is basically normal now, I don’t stand out at all for using mine as a face warmer.

2. They give an excuse for not recognizing people

I actually am terrible at recognizing faces. I notice things like hair length and hair color, but I forget what people’s faces look like. With the current Covid situation, I can now just blame it on the mask. That makes it a little less awkward.

But even if you are good at recognizing faces, you can use the mask as an excuse for not talking to people you want to avoid. If they confront you for ignoring them, blame it on the mask.

“Oh sorry–didn’t see you there. You know how masks are…”

3. They hide your expression

People do dumb things sometimes. And when they do, your trusty mask can hide your silent laughter. It can conceal those involuntary frowns, the mounting frustration, an evil grin. I can’t tell you how much my mask has saved me from offending people by hiding my expressions.

The only problem is, once wearing masks is no longer a necessity, it’ll be hard to break the habit of being too expressive. By now, I’m used to the mask and no longer try to hold back the occasional smile, grimace, or smirk. Oh well–I’ll worry about that when this whole Covid crisis is over.

4. They conceal acne

Sure, they cause it too (heard of maskne?), but they do hide the entire lower half of one’s face. That’s 50% acne coverage there.

5. They are another way to express your personality

People have always used clothes to flaunt their personalities. But now, fashionable masks are the new craze. Whether broadcasting one’s love of My Hero Academia or one’s obsession with kittens, the masks one wears say a lot about a person. They can show whether one is artsy, minimalistic, creative, or playful.

There are loads of masks that are just plain funny.

Conclusion

Next time you wear a mask, look on the bright side. There are reasons, even besides the obvious health benefits, for wearing a mask. We’re all in the same boat here, and I’m sure this will all blow over eventually. Stay healthy!

Life

My Photography Portfolio from Fall 2020

Until last semester, I hated cameras. I called myself photo-phobic, or at best photo-resistant. I took a selfie once because I had to for a class and it was the worst thing. Basically, I despise pictures on myself, which is probably why I have had the same pic on my social media for basically forever.

As for taking pictures of other people or things, I pretty much only did that if I was asked to or if I needed a reference for a drawing.

Then my mom helped me pick my schedule for last fall by suggesting Digital Photography as an elective. She also suggested Latin, which made all the other classes I had ever taken look easy by comparison, but let’s not go into that.

Anyway, I took this photography course and really enjoyed it. For this post, I will be sharing my best photos from last semester. If you’re wondering what took me so long to post them, it’s because I was waiting to ask permission to post my favorite pic of the lot.

It’s a picture of a close friend of mine. I liked the contrast of dark and light in this picture, the brightness of the window compared to the shadowy curve of the curtain. She also picked the perfect outfit with the stripes and hat. She was the perfect model the whole time even though I took over fifty pictures of her.

There was a whole project based on taking pictures in and around the college chapel. I liked this one because the solid-colored light blue sky emphasizes the height of the chapel and the purity and lofty ideals that went into forming the chapel.

My professor also taught us to use Photoshop to touch things up a little, so I used the settings in Photoshop to darken this photo, putting the focus on the light reflecting off the cross. This is the sort of picture that would be great paired with a quote in the darkest area, but I have yet to decide on one.

The final project was chronicling the seasons of Summer, Fall, and Winter using pictures. I’ll share my favorites from each season.

Summer

I liked the green of the newly growing grass near the end of the summer on campus. The area had been ripped up for maintenance to some pipes, and then a layer of fertilizer had been slapped on top. Before long, these beautiful blades of grass started pushing through. I must’ve looked weird lying on the ground taking pictures of dirt and grass, but I don’t mind.

The first pictures I took of the roses on campus were too crowded with so many blooming flowers. As a result, I decided to take a picture of a single rose against the summer sky. Much better.

Fall

I took this pic by setting my camera in a pile of acorns I found along a trail. I loved how it focused on one acorn that follows the rule of thirds, a rule that basically states not to completely center the focus of your picture and instead put the focus where lines interest in a grid of 9 x 9 squares.

I loved the way this photo turned out looking like something from Monet, like some sort of impressionist painting. The only editing I did to this one was to crop it. I generally took a minimalist approach to Photoshop.

Winter

Overall, I don’t like my winter photos as much. But I liked the contrast of white on red with this first snow of Winter 2020.

The picture of this tree reaching for the winter sky was another one of my favorites for that reason.

Final Thoughts

I am definitely an amateur photographer, but taking a class enhanced my previously nonexistent skill. I would definitely recommend a photography class for anyone who wants to improve their picture-taking capabilities, or even just take their selfie skills to the next level.

Life

First Time Ever – 7 Quick Takes

Hi everyone! So, I’m gonna try something new here.

My mom introduced me to 7 Quick Takes on This Ain’t the Lyceum. Because I wanted to join in the fun, I’m publishing a third blog article this week. You can find 7 Quick Takes by other bloggers here.

In case you have never visited my website before, this is a little about me:

My name is P. A. Wilson, and I am a Young Adult fantasy writer, genealogist, board gamer, Christian, and proud English major. I have four little sisters ages 19, 15, 4, and 2. In about a week I start my final semester of college, after which I plan to go for a master’s degree in Library Science.

Without further ado, here are all the relatively interesting things I’ve been up to this week…

Quick Take #1…

white cotton buds on persons hand

Today was my first-ever Covid test! Was it worth being nervous about? Nope! The local Rite Aid basically required me to show my ID and the email confirmation showing I had signed up, and they gave me the supplies to do it myself right then and there.

So basically I had to stick a q-tip-like thingy up my nose, turn it twice, and leave it there for 15 seconds. Then it was the other nostril’s turn. Other than tearing up and some mild discomfort, it was a piece of cake. Then I stuck the disgusting q-tip thingy into the offered tube and the whole test was over with.

If you’re wondering why I had to take the test, it was not because I had any symptoms. And I hadn’t come into contact with any sick people. Basically, Grove City College is requiring all students to test for Covid before coming back on campus.

My friends were having a conversation about it that was kind of funny. Pretty much my one friend asked if I minded taking the Covid test, and I said….

I don’t care what they stick up my nose as long as I get to go back to school!”

Because many colleges are not allowing in-person classes and are sticking to online. But my college is super stubborn, so that means I get to see my friends and teachers in-person….with a ton of regulations in place….but still, in-person!

So my friend immediately answers:

So it’s okay if they stick a Lego up your nose, then?”

To which I responded that the probability of that occurrence was zero, but that didn’t stop me from thinking about Lego bricks during the entire test.

(I learned this week that the plural of Lego is Lego, according to the Lego company. Americans tend to call them Legos, but everyone else says Lego. The Lego group has also claimed “Lego” can only be used as an adjective.)

Quick Take #2…

After my Covid test, I went for a Mint Chocolate Shake at Arby’s. They have Andes Candy pieces sprinkled all over them, so obviously I had to have one. Mint and chocolate is one of the best combinations of flavors on the planet.

Quick Take #3…

My two-year-old sister went around calling people “Monkeyfish dude” all morning yesterday.

I should explain….

It all started when I started calling my 4-year-old sister Muppet. She would always laugh and say that I was a Muppet instead. Then -fish got appended to the end for no apparent reason and it became “muppetfish”. Over time, muppet turned to monkey, and voila! We started calling each other “monkeyfish.”

Now I don’t know where the “dude” came from, but it wasn’t me.

Quick Take #4…

My four-year-old sister discovered the wonderful things that could be done with a mirror and a light source this week. I tried to tickle her, so she tried to reflect light from the mirror on her fake cellphone into my eyes…and succeeded. That kid is super smart.

Quick Take #5

I tried running this week a little bit. Running and I have a long and terrible history.

For instance, the time that I signed up for Walk Jog Run for a semester and got shin splints after the first week. After that, it was more like Walk Limp Walk.

Then there was the time I was worried about running late for an orthodontist appointment and forgot something. My mom told me not to run, so I decided to jog. I made it one step, and then went from vertical to horizontal in half a second.

Luckily, I am a black belt in Tang Soo Do, so I did a front break fall automatically to limit injury. Unfortunately, that didn’t change the fact that I was falling on concrete covered in salt and ice.

No bones broken or any serious injury, but I lost a layer of skin on part of my hands and arms. I was so embarrassed and startled, I jumped up and yelled, “I wasn’t running!”

Because I didn’t have time to really clean up, I doused my hands in water from the water fountain, grabbed what I forgot, and walked carefully back down to the car.

Anyway, I went to my orthodontist appointment with blood-stained hands and a dirt-streaked coat.

Those are just two of the countless reasons I hate running. But my 15-year-old sister kept asking me to run with her until I finally gave in.

I survived the session of running with nothing more than sore legs. My sister said I run like Naruto (or for those who are not anime fans, she also compared my running style to a penguin.)

Naruto Run | Know Your Meme
Naruto running

Okay, I admit I am a bad runner, but I don’t think I’m quite that bad.

Quick Take #6…

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - IGN

I’ve been playing MarioKart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch, and I’ve gotta say…if you bought MarioKart 8 for the Wii U, along with the bonus tracks, this is pretty much the same thing.

The main differences are a few more characters, a new battle mode, and the ability to hold two items instead of one (like in Double Dash).

There is this annoying setting called “Smart Steering” that basically causes the game to auto-correct your bad driving. Nice if you’re new to the game, not so good for advanced players. Having to turn Smart Steering off every time I start the game is a pain.

It’s worth it if you haven’t bought the original MarioKart 8 along with the bonus tracks, but if you have, you may want to save your money.

Quick Take #7…

Super Mario Party for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Game Details

I’ve also been playing Super Mario Party for the Switch, which has definitely leveled up from its earlier versions. Not only are there different modes of play, including a partner party and a cooperative mode, but also they added more character options. Furthermore, each character has a customized die they can use instead of a normal die.

The only thing is you have to use the Joy-Con controllers. You can’t get away with using cheaper ones.

Final Thoughts…

This was kinda fun for me. I would be interested in doing it again, perhaps.

What do you think? Do you like 7 Quick Takes? Should I do more? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts!

Life

Surviving a College Semester (Pandemic Edition)

brown green and white textile

So much has changed with the rise of COVID-19. Everyday life is so different with all the social distancing, masks, and quarantine. Being a college student during a pandemic is…interesting.

As a student at Grove City College (GCC), I had the privilege of attending in-person classes and living on campus this semester. While many other colleges were resorting to Zoom, GCC decided to be stubborn and bring everyone back.

Even though we were all on campus, nothing was normal. From the beginning, it was established that we had to wear masks basically everywhere, even outside.

Anyone who visited my room had to wear a mask, but I didn’t have to wear a mask in my room even if someone was visiting. That doesn’t really make sense, but I guess they were trying to be lenient in some ways so people would be more obedient.

Some teachers said it was okay to eat or drink in their classroom, taking off masks temporarily to do so, other teachers forbade it. I sat as far away from everyone as possible in all of my classes, so I would eat a snack occasionally in the classes that permitted it.

The food at GCC has never been good. In fact, there are Instagram channels devoted entirely to showing pictures of terrible food served at GCC.

Although it was possible to dine in the cafeterias for most of the semester, all the food was made take-out style, in plastic or foam containers. These containers leaked and occasionally burst.

The portions of food given were determined by the staff.

For instance, I would say, “Can I have a few vegetables?”

The food worker would then give me a generous scoop of them. And then another. And then a third. It’s like they were so happy someone asked for a healthy food that they got a little overexcited.

The biggest consequence to there being all take-out was that there was so much garbage that the college resorted to dumpsters instead of trash cans. My roommate and I had a trash can in our room, and we had to take out our garbage every day because of the clunky, oversized take-out containers.

It’s sad, really. At some point the cafeterias stopped offering straws the same way they once did to reduce waste. It was laughable–students were throwing away hundreds of plastic containers per day, but at least straws were not part of the problem.

The cafeterias were also open almost the entire day to encourage smaller crowds. This meant they had less time for food prep, so they would copy a lot of the meals from day to day.

On some occasions, they would get creative, however. See that picture below? That’s Pumpkin Cheesecake pizza. Looks appealing, no?

If you go to GCC, don’t taste Pumpkin Cheesecake Pizza. If you avoid it, your taste buds will thank you.

It was actually kind of nice that they cleaned the tables after each use, though.

Events were cancelled the whole semester, and the gym was closed at different times.

I remember those first few weeks when there were a few COVID cases and many students, including myself, thought we would be sent home. Every week there were a few more.

black and white smartphone on white table

Students were frequently put in isolation. That meant they could only leave their room for food and had to take classes virtually until they were told they could leave isolation.

At one point, my class of 20 diminished to 5 because so many students were in isolation.

Quarantine was much worse. Then you couldn’t leave your room and just had food delivered. Some of the quarantined students had to be put in hotel rooms because the quarantine rooms at college filled up.

Students who were quarantined had to make lists of people they were in contact with for even a short duration of time. Those people were put in isolation. This was called contact tracing.

Near the end, the cases skyrocketed. We began to have about 20 cases every three days. The students were given an option to go home before Thanksgiving break, and I was one of those who did so.

My sister stayed as long as she could, but that was only until Thanksgiving break. No one came back after break. As planned, we all stayed home for the last week of classes and finals.

So, that was how my semester went. I was lucky enough never to go into isolation or quarantine. I was so happy to be on campus, and I hope I will be headed back to school in the spring.

Feel free to share your own quarantine experience in the comments!