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, black belt, 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 at Grove City 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…
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.)
Okay, I admit I am a bad runner, but I don’t think I’m quite that bad.
Quick Take #6…
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 before every Grand Prix 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…
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.
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!
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.
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!
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be serious. Bluffing is a strategy that should only be used as a last resort, if you have no idea how to answer an essay question. Be sure to study hard for your exams and not wait until the last minute.
What is bluffing?
In this article, bluffing means writing an answer to an essay question as if you know what you are doing even when you have no idea what you are doing. This article will outline my top 5 tips for how to bluff an essay question effectively.
Tip #1: Show What You Know– “The Knowledge Dump”
With the blank page looming in front of you, it’s easy to focus on what you don’t know. Instead, take what little details you do know and emphasize those.
Maybe you don’t remember what happened in the Battle of Gettysburg. But you know what generally happens at battles–lots of casualties, bloodshed. And you know where it took place–Gettysburg, duh. Hopefully you remember it was a battle in the American Civil War, but even if you don’t, you could probably spin an answer worth a point or two.
If you do remember that it happened during the American Civil War, you could hazard a guess at which side won and what date. Give a date range when it may have happened if you’re not willing to take a chance.
The Battle of Gettysburg occurred in Gettysburg, PA around the 1860s (during the American Civil War). It was an occasion of great bloodshed and high numbers of casualties. It was a pivotal battle in the war, pitting the Union and Confederate soldiers against each other in what became a bloodbath.
Sure, it’s not long, but with bluffing you have to be satisfied with whatever you come up with.
Tip #2: Use Key Words – “Parrot the Teacher“
Does your teacher have favorite words? Does the particular field you are studying have technical words or jargon you can fall back on? Maybe it’s an English class and you are given a vague prompt like “Compare and contrast Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.”
And oops, you happened to have only read the CliffsNotes. (Not that I advocate that in any way. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a masterpiece, and frankly, you are missing out if you haven’t read it.)
Instead of: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are different in many ways.
Try: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are foils, polar opposites who are nonetheless are attracted to each other. Their personalities are complementary yet differ greatly.
Tip #3: Feign Confidence– “Show No Fear”
Teachers can smell fear.
Nah, not really. But if you seem uncertain about your answers, they’ll be able to tell. Even if you have no idea what you are talking about, write it clearly and without hesitation.
Avoid saying that you believe or think something – if you write the sentence, it is already obvious that you believe it.
Avoid these words: slightly, maybe, seems, appears to, perhaps, may be, possibly, in my opinion, I think, I believe
Tip #4: Fill the Page – “Quantity, not Quality”
If you don’t know what to write, just write. Repeat the same idea in as many different ways as possible. Discuss how you feel about the topic, even if that does not seem relevant.
Evolution is built on the idea that changes in organisms and the development of species occurs through natural selection and chance. This, of course, means that the results could be described as accidental. If the results are accidental, this implies that there is no purpose behind design….
This example repeats itself multiple times with slight differences, filling as much space as possible with a single idea. It is not, however, completely obvious that this is what is happening.
Tip #5: Answer a Different Question – “Be Evasive!”
If you can’t answer the question given, answer a slightly different question you do think you could answer. This is not the easiest one to pull off, which is why it is number five. The reason is, most teachers realize you have neglected to answer the actual question.
Actual Question: Why does the author of the book we have just read make the curtains in the living room red?
Question you answer: What emotions are commonly associated with the color red?
Even though you will have evaded the question, it will sound like a thorough analysis of why the curtains were red.
Once again, this article is not meant to be serious. Bluffing is a strategy that should only be used as a last resort, if you have no idea how to answer an essay question. Be sure to study hard for your exams and not wait until the last minute.
If you’re a college student, good luck with finals!
Before Covid-19, I had some preconceptions about what a pandemic would be like. Frightening, restricting, dangerous. Like one of those dystopian novels I read for fun, perhaps like the plague in Legend by Marie Lu.
Never in a million years would I have suspected living during a pandemic would be boring.
Sure, those who have contracted Covid-19 and their friends and family are fully aware of how terrible a pandemic is.
But for the rest of us – those who have to isolate, or limit social interaction, or have had all their plans cancelled – bored might be the perfect word.
If you are not bored and you and your loved ones are healthy, good for you. But if you are bored – this is the article for you.
Below are my suggestions to make the most of life during a pandemic.
#1 Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
If you’re anything like me, quarantine life has made you lax when it comes to exercise.
Without the routine of heading to the local YMCA to train at my Tang Soo Do studio, I quickly became unfit. Even when restrictions were lifted somewhat and I was able to return to the studio on occasion, I had trouble getting into a regular routine of exercise.
Recently I’ve made a new resolution to do better with exercise – and I know how I’ll do it.
The pandemic has made things like going to the gym a colossal pain for some and nearly impossible for others, so I’ll focus on the things that can be done without equipment.
Walking, for instance. It has never been my thing, but with how beautiful campus is in the summer and fall, it’s almost irresistible.
I also plan to get into a daily routine similar to my warm-ups for Tang Soo Do. Push-ups, jumping jacks, crunches. Dying cockroach.
Yeah, you read that right. There is an exercise called dying cockroach, where you lay on your back and flail your arms and legs in frenzied motions for a long time. It’s brutal.
There are also plenty of stairs in the dorm where I am residing, so I may just spend half an hour sometime walking up and down them. That would be a workout!
Hopefully some of these ideas will work for you as well.
#2 Be artsy!
For this section, I am going to assume you have little to no experience in art. If you already are an artist, you already know you can spend time during a pandemic doing artsy stuff and likely are doing that anyway.
Here are several media to consider:
One thing you can do with these is try an adult coloring book. It’s relaxing and fun and there’s not as much pressure to create from your imagination since you just have to fill in the line. Yet there is creativity in the colors you choose and skill in how well the design is colored in.
My great grandma had the creative idea of turning her coloring book creations into cards for her loved ones. It was sweet, and sending off such colorful cards may help to alleviate loneliness for yourself and your friends during this time.
If you decide to go freestyle, use good colored pencils and at least decent paper in case you decide to preserve some of your creations.
For watercolor paint, I use Artist Loft brand. I know, it’s cheap – but I have found it sufficient for my projects. Not the pan set, the tubes. I hate those hardened little cakes of paint.
Beginner’s tip – if you use the tubes, you only need a tiny drop of paint mixed with plenty of water. Don’t waste paint. It’s called watercolor for a reason.
Another tip – if you use low-quality paper, you’ll get a low-quality result even if you are a quite talented artist. You can tell a high-quality paper not by the price tag, but by the thickness. I recommend at least 140 lb. paper (if you’re not sure what that means, it’s okay – watercolor paper lists this right on the front so you can tell if you got the right one.)
A final tip – choose your brushes carefully. They don’t have to be expensive but you have to be sure there aren’t any stray bristles and that you take good care of them. I won’t even link to brushes I recommend because I always buy mine in a physical store so I can examine them. Never store them bristle down! If you’re washing them, don’t leave them upside down in water. That’s okay for a short time, but if you leave them for too long, it will damage them.
The best acrylic paint is not too watery and not chunky either – it goes onto paper smoothly.
I recommend going with a great brand such as Martha Stewart or the professional option of Golden acrylics. It’s an investment, but you’ll find that they last a while if you are conservative and only use what you need.
Martha Stewart brand acrylic paint has great quality. I’ve used it before teaching in the classroom at the art store where I work.
I started using Golden acrylics recently and they are brilliant, with vibrant colors and smooth texture.
I just use watercolor paper for acrylics, too. For brushes, I buy these in a physical store as well and look for tell-tale signs they are not any good such as stray bristles.
I am not as experienced in oil paint, but I can give some beginner’s advice because I’ve already made all the beginner’s mistakes with my first painting…oops…
First of all, do not get Artist Loft brand. They suck when it comes to oil paints. I kept the paints in a box for a couple of months before trying to use them and then all the oily stuff oozed out all over the tubes and made them sticky and gross.
Try a good brand, like Winsor & Newton instead.
For brushes, I won’t recommend any. I would have to see them in person to tell their quality, touch them and examine them. However, keep in mind that they will need to be washed in paint thinner, not water. Water doesn’t mix with oil-based paint and will not take it out of the brush.
I actually just used canvas for my oil painting, but you can get oil paint paper. I don’t know enough to be helpful in recommending what surface to paint on for oil, but I will say that canvas was sufficient for my purposes.
I began with markers using Copics. Those are professional markers and they are expensive. However, they blend remarkably well and are refillable. I would recommend a pack of grays, skin tones, and primaries to start if you use these. I prefer Copic Sketch over Copic Ciao because the Sketch markers can hold more ink.
Fair warning – they are addicting.
Use the multiliner that comes with their gray pack or buy a separate pack of multiliners of that brand to be sure your pen lines don’t bleed when marker is applied.
A Quick Note….
I have found that using high quality media, while more expensive, has better results. The professionals use high quality equipment for a reason – it makes it easier, not harder, to create masterpieces.
Some of the links above lead to cheap alternatives to high quality media that I have found sufficient for my own amateur artwork. Others lead to more expensive varieties I would nevertheless recommend even for beginners to achieve higher quality results.
I work in an art store, so I have background in helping customers find products that will fit their artistic needs. As a result, I am aware of the best brands and the brands that are cheaper but can produce phenomenal results.
#3 Journalingor Writing Emails
Journaling is an amazing way to spend the time if you are in quarantine or restricted in activities due to Covid-19. Chronicle your experience of living during a pandemic to show off to your future grandchildren.
Keep a daily record of reflections and insights you think of randomly in the middle of night or during your daily routine.
Writing emails or letters is another way to connect with friends let people know you are thinking of them. Make sure if it’s a letter that your friends and relatives aren’t going to be upset about the small possibility of spreading Covid-19 that way. Chances are, they won’t be worried about it, but it’s better to ask in times like these.
#4 Make a time capsule
A time capsule would be a good way to remind our future selves what the Covid-19 Crisis was like, or to show our children or grandchildren.
First, buy a durable container. Metal is best if you want it to last for a long time, but undoubtedly plastic would last too even if it has a higher chance of cracking under the weight of dirt.
Second, carefully choose items that represent the times, such as reusable masks and pictures. Be sure that these are things you don’t mind parting with, because digging the box up again would be a pain and counter-intuitive.
Third, pick a place in the yard and bury the capsule. 3 or 4 feet deep would probably be sufficient, but if it’s less than that it could be dug up by mistake.
Fourth, mark the spot with something that will last like a large painted rock. On the marker, write the date the capsule was buried as well as the date it should be dug up.
#5 Sew masks
Sewing masks is not as hard as it may seem. I made two before I was gifted several and no longer had the need for more, and they have served me well.
I recommend getting on Youtube for some helpful how-to videos.
#6 Watch something new
If you don’t know, the reason why I posted a picture from Avatar: The Last Airbender is because it is now airing on Netflix. I have seen it make Netflix’s top ten several times in the past few weeks, and for good reason! If you like it, follow it up with The Legend of Korra.
If you usually watch all the shows in a particular genre, try a different genre. If you typically don’t watch anime, try anime! If you are squeamish about horror, try something with slight elements of horror. If you usually avoid the sad stuff, try something sad like A Silent Voice, which my sisters recommended to me. Get outside your comfort zone!
Learn something new! During the pandemic, when I was bored I downloaded the Khan Academy app, the Duolingo app, and the TED Talks app. I’ve used Duolingo and TED talks the most out of the three.
With Khan Academy, you can learn any school subject or lesson that you may have forgotten or that you are not familiar with. You don’t have to make an account, but if you do, it’s free and it tracks your progress.
With Duolingo, you can learn another language. I am currently learning Latin and Spanish little by little.
With the TED Talk app, you can listen to talks about a variety of educational subjects, as well as ones that are just funny. I watched this one recently, which explains the concept behind a video game that teaches about loneliness. I also watched this hilarious one where a comedian describes what happened when he replied to spam emails.
While I wouldn’t say I learned much from the spam email one, it is true that TED Talks in general provide great educational content.
#8 Socialize…long distance
Socializing long distance can take many forms. It could be an email or letter. It could be a Zoom or Skype call.
James Wilson, a founder of the podcast Tabletop Gaming Guild, offered me a new idea about how to connect with my friends.
Tabletop Simulator is more expensive at $19.99 for a subscription, but offers a variety of games, including Wingspan, Blood Rage and Scythe.
Board Game Arena is completely FREE. You can play games such as Stone Age, 7 Wonders, Terra Mystica, Takenoko, Saboteur, and so much more!
Full disclaimer – I haven’t tried either yet, but I wanted to pass on the suggestion. I’m at college, so I am lucky enough to be able to see many of my friends in person. In the event my friends and I are sent home due to the risk of Covid-19, I will definitely start online gaming with my friends.
I’m big on reading. If you’re a reader too, I recommend trying out some of my favorites:
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
A YA Fantasy about a rich criminal mastermind who happens to be 12 years old. This mastermind, Artemis Fowl, is determined to get his hands on fairy gold. The fairies he deals with are not the ones from typical bedtime stories – they have advanced technology and live underground.
Btw, it’s nothing like the movie, which was terrible. I also made a review of the movie.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
This is a touching novel mostly about a dying father writing to his young son, and his many reflections. It is about love, betrayal, faith, and family, and it’s fascinating. The language and metaphors are beautiful and creative.
Still Life by Louise Penny
This is a murder mystery. I typically dislike murder mysteries, but this one I adored.
It’s about an old woman who dies in what appears to be a hunting accident, but Inspector Gamache suspects it may be murder. The beginning is a little slow, but every part of it is an essential piece of the puzzle and contributes to the power of the work.
You could take the route I did and pay for the domain, then use WordPress to organize your site. It’s not hard because WordPress is so intuitive. WordPress allows for both pages and posts, so if you want to create a blog, it’s never been easier!
Or you can use Wix.com or Weebly.com to create your website for free. There is less freedom this way though. For example, Weebly.com requires “weebly” to be in the site name.
I can tell you that Weebly is pretty good because I’ve used it for college classes. Back when I was an education major, I made my digital portfolio using Weebly.
Wix has been recommended to me on numerous occasions by close friends, so I thought I would include it as well, although I haven’t had experience with it myself.
No matter which route you take, Youtube will be your best friend! Look up how-to videos to make the most of your website-building experience.