Saturday, August 6, 2016

Feel Good Movies

Hi guys! Last post was all about exercising while relaxing and this post is all about relaxing with a good movie!

My first recommendation is brand new on DVD and is Zootopia. Despite the fact that I'm a grown adult, I love a good animated film, and this does not disappoint. I cried, I laughed so hard I cried, and I squeed quite regularly from how adorable the character are at times.

This movie tackles some important lessons in being different, following your dreams to become anything and changing your life at any moment to be a better person.

The second recommendation is a 3 part movie and it's a long one, but it's a great one: the Hobbit. If Lord of the Rings is a bit too dry for you, Harry Potter is too long and you aren't in the mood for Hunger Games--pick up the Hobbit movies. They have battles, of course, and fighting (and a minor love story!), but the movies themselves are just easy to watch. They honestly always put me in a good mood and make me feel relaxed. I'm sure it's partly because I adore Martin Freeman, the actor playing the main character, but still--give these a try!

If you like super hero movies, I can't not recommend Ant-Man. It wasn't as dark and suspenseful as what we are used to seeing in Batman or Avengers movies, but it was worth a watch. My favorite part is when a tiny Thomas the Train toy gets blown up to be the size of a house. My second favorite part is watching Ant-Man train a small hoard of ants. This one is full of comedy, sprinkled with romants (sorry, it was a great pun opportunity!) and still contained a good amount of suspense with fighting. Plus, how can you not love Paul Rudd? He's adorable and a genuinely nice dude.

Those are easily my top three when I want to sit down and relax. There are plenty of others to watch on a nice day free of school, including Disney classics like the Lion King, but these give a nice variety! :) Let me know if you check any of them out for the first time--I'd love to hear your review!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

How To: Pokémon Go (Part 1)

Pokémon Go is the current topic all over from the news to just common conversations, but what is it and what's the hype all about?

Now, I grew up in the time where the Pokémon games were brand new and played one from every generation (some times two!), so I'm totally biased on this topic, but still. Let's chat about it.

This game was created by the same people that made Ingress, Niantic, Inc. Ingress is quite similar to Pokémon Go, as it is an augmented reality game where you are required to walk around to do better in the game.

The basics of Pok
émon Go are simple: you walk around to find Pokémon, gyms and PokéStops. In the process, you gain experience. You can also earn medals by collecting certain numbers of Pokémon, as well as a number of certain types of Pokémon (water, grass, bug, electric, etc.). The more you level, the stronger your Pokémon should become and then you can start taking gyms and such. I personally have no interest in taking gyms and just play for fun catching what I can and trying to get my Pokémon as strong as I can, which is another more casual way you can play this game.

For this game, only the first generation Pokémon are available (so Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Pidgey, Weedle, etc.--the first 151 in the Pokédex), but a lot of them are more difficult to find and to catch. There's no guide for this game out officially, but it seems there is a ranking of Pokémon rarities in the game, which I've put in the teen display here at the library for reference. The most basic Pokémon are everywhere and will be pretty easy to both catch and level up.

The most important part of this game is how to actually catch the Pokémon. It's quite simple. When walking around, you'll want to occasionally check your app (do not check it while walking!!!) to see if there are any appearing on your map. If there are, you simply click on that Pokémon and it'll open up on your screen to catch. You use Pokéballs to catch them and will just drag your finger on the Pokéball towards that Pokémon. Remember: you don't have unlimited Pokéballs so use them wisely! You can pick up more at a PokéStop, which I will talk about in another part of this blog series.

Another important aspect of this game is how you level up your "team," so to speak, or those currently kept in your Pokémon inventory (for lack of a better word). If you want to level or evolve your team, you will need to catch multiples of that Pokémon. Once you have caught some, you will want to send your lower levels of whoever you are leveling or trying to evolve back to Professor Oak. In order to do that, you will tap on whichever you'd like to send back, then scroll down to the bottom of that specific Pokémon's page and click Transfer. It'll inform you that, once you transfer, that specific Pokémon will be gone forever. Once gone, that Pokémon will give you candy for whatever Pokémon it was and you use those to level up and evolve.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Stayin' Fit Doin' Little

I know. It's summer. We all want to relax and enjoy the sun, but sitting around the TV or computer all day isn't going to do anything for you but cause you back, shoulder and neck problems in the future (trust me, I know).

Aside from hopping in a swimming pool or walking around your house to get snacks or grab the remote, we need to stay active all year round. Especially now that school's out so you're not running from class to class.

Here are just a few ideas of what you can do while binge watching the latest show on Netflix or catching your favorite streamer on Twitch.

Commercial break or time for your advertisement while on Twitch?
Try and see how many crunches, push-ups or squats you can do during that time. It'll keep your mind sharp never really knowing when you'll have to jump up and do them and will keep your heart rate up.

Don't feel like getting up that quickly?
Lay down on a couch (or the floor!) so you're on your side facing the TV/iPad/laptop/etc. and rest your head on your elbow. Then do some leg lifts. All you have to do is lift your leg towards the ceiling, while keeping it straight, over and over. When you're done with one side, flip yourself so you're still facing the TV and do your other leg. Easy, right? You can even do this while enjoying a snack (sort of defeats the purpose but something is better than nothing!).

This is possibly the easiest exersize but, according to multiple websites, you can lose roughly 40 calories per hours by doing this. Get yourself an exercise ball. Sit on it for an hour. Bam, bye bye 40 calories and say sayonara to the snack you just consumed doing leg lifts.

Say this is all too much. You just want to be lying down watching TV and not moving at all. Easy, just put your feet on the couch and form a capital T by stretching yourself out in front of it (feet still on the couch!) while resting your head on your elbows. You're basically doing a plank and this is also a great exersize that requires little to no energy. Technically, you could even have a nice cold glass of lemonade in front of you with a straw so you can enjoy a cool beverage while you work out.

Summer may be the time to just chill and relax, but it doesn't mean you can't still stay in shape by doing very little!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Book to Movie Review: the Fifth Wave

Before I get any farther into this, I'd like to say, yes I'm late to the party on this one, but I finally saw the Fifth Wave movie, based originally off of the book of the same name by Rick Yancey.

I was actually ridiculously sick with the flu earlier this week and finally decided to try and be somewhat productive while in bed. So I opened up my iPad and rented this on iTunes. I think it was like $4, which was worth it for how sick and miserable I was at the time.

If you have read the book, or the series, you'll know the writing in it is rather choppy. There's no clear direction and I honestly found it pretty messy to read at times making me walk away from the series in the end (I made it about halfway into the second book, the Infinite Sea). I was truly disappointed in the books. I found the concept of aliens wanting to take Earth without damaging it too much super unique and interesting in the world of Young Adult Literature, and I wanted to love it.

So when the movie came out, I was hopeful that it could fix some of the problems I had with the writing style in the books. I was happy to find that it did! That said, after already knowing what happened in the first book, I was a little less into the movie because the only major plot twist was one I already knew. To be honest, though, I think I'd have guessed it even without knowing already.

The acting was done well and the effects were super awesome. My favorite part, of course, was the fact that it all takes place relatively near where I live now and there are little mentions of places and things nearby, like Kent State University and, of course, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that's just a few hours away.

I appreciated the movie a lot more than I thought I would and I would recommend it to those interested in a sci-fy twist to dystopia. That said, the plot is predictable, I think, but the next one is less so. I hope they continue to make these movies, as I think the movies do a far better job at telling Cassie's story than the books.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Is the McKinley House haunted?

We recently had a super cool event down at the McKinley Birthplace Home where we had the Collective Paranormal Research Society show our members of YAC (Youth Advisory Committee) what they do. What is that you may be asking? They look for evidence of ghostly activity and try and prove that the paranormal does exist.

This particular group is located right in Youngstown, Ohio, and travels around conducting various investigations.

We were lucky enough to have them not only perform a mini investigation with YAC, but they taught us about what they do and how they do it. We learned about devices like EMF detectors and EVP recorders, as well as what they have learned and seen in their travels. It was truly an amazing experience for our teens and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

They closed the evening walking around the home and trying to make contact with anyone who may be present but not exactly living among us. Everyone was surprised when that contact was made. All of the teens attending, as well as the leader of YAC, Miss Kim, announced who they were and asked various questions with the lights out. They had wanted anyone present to light it up any time his or her answer to the question was yes.

The question all the kids are talking about is whether or not the ghost (or ghosts!) likes Miss Kim being around and hosting programs for children and teens at the house. The flashlight, to everyone's surprise, light up brightly with no one remotely close to do it themselves. Our teens also insured that no one on the Research Society had a button that would trigger it on and off. The investigators would ask whoever was present to step away and turn the light back off before asking another question, which it did.

It was a wonderful experience for everyone and now myself and Miss Kim are a bit spooked down at the house, even if the presence there is a friendly one! It seems we have our very own Casper.

If this is the sort of thing you are into, hop onto Facebook and like their page. They are actually going to be live on Facebook this evening  at the Bissman Building, so please do check them out!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kicking Allergies in the Butt

If you've ever had to deal with allergies, you know they're awful. You wake up and you're stuffy, have a scratchy throat and are probably coughing up a storm. I have gone through an entire jumbo extra large family package of cough drops already the last two months because my allergies have been a mess.

The news reports all say this is going to be the worst year for allergies yet. The pollen levels are going to be out of control.

But how can we deal with these? Allergy medicine is, of course, an easy way out but it can make some people super drowsy. I know, for me, even if it's "non-drowsy," I feel like it's nap o'clock after the meds kick in. Well, I recently learned that the ingredients are what cause drowsiness. When you're at the store, look for an anti-histamine (offbrands work just the same as Benadryl and the more pricey versions) that DOESN'T contain chlorpheniramine, clemastine, and diphenhydramine. Those are what cause the drowsiness and will certainly make you sleepier than any other ingredients.

Remember, if you do go the medication route, start taking it immediately, you need to take it every single day or it won't work. That's a pain in the rear, I know. I always take it before I go to bed. I generally keep a bottle of water next to my bed, so I put the bottle of pills there, too, and just take it right before sleeping. Otherwise, I will totally forget. (And yes, try and find the 24 hour pills--that's why I can take it at night.)

Keep your windows shut--at least in your bedroom and the rooms you frequent! The pollen will make its way inside and will cause you more grief than it's worth. If your parents say no air conditioner, we must use the windows for cool air, try and stay away from the windows. My best recommendation: take your shoes off when you come inside--they bring in all sorts of allergins. Then, and I know this isn't fun but it works I swear, vacuum your house! Or, again, at least the rooms you frequent. You'll make your family happy and save yourself some tissues.

Have to go outside? Wear a mask! They make super cute masks on Amazon that are also really cheap--you can get a cute set of 6 for under $10.
I know, people may look at you like a weirdo but these are super normal in a lot of other countries and they also help prevent illness, as your mouth and nose are protected from any germs as well. I love face masks.

The most important factor is to keep up with pollen counts. It's annoying and tedious but if you know the pollen count is going to be super high, stay indoors as much as you can, or you will have a massive headache and won't be able to stop sneezing until the pollen is all out of your system.

We will get through this awful allergy season together! Just remember that, eventually, winter will come back and the snow will destroy the allergens. As awful as snow can be, I honestly prefer that to feeling like I'm going to die from my allergies, even using all of these tips.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Battling Bullying

Bullies are apart of every day lives--some times you may not even notice it happening around you. Bullying can be as intense as someone throwing someone into a locker, or as subtle as someone constantly giving you the stink eye for no reason. And it's not something you have to put up with, nor is it something you can ignore. Stepping up to the plate when you see bullying can help the person being attacked more than you will ever know.

What is bullying?
It can be a multitude of events or circumstances. You may hear someone insinuating that another person doesn't smell clean in the locker room at gym, or you may see a group of people constantly trying to make another feel like an outcast. No one should have to feel that way. Bullies are people who want others to feel inferior to them--think Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter or Regina George from Mean Girls. Regina is the queen of talking negatively behind someone's back, and that's bullying as much as calling someone a mudblood, for you Harry Potter fans reading.

Studies have shown that bullies are usually kids who need to pick on others to feel better about themselves. I'm not saying you have to feel bad for someone bullying you, but there is definitely a bit of compassion needed for him or her. And, if you are being bullied, you certainly do not need to sit and take it, even if it doesn't bother you all that much.

But how does one prevent such an unstoppable force as a bully? Simple: confidence and positivity. No one wants to pick on someone who will be unaffected by it. I know you're probably thinking, "There's no way I can walk around school confidently. It's just not me." Okay. No problem. If someone tries to attack you verbally, start walking away. You can turn and smile to them, "Have a good day!" My mother always says "Kill 'em with kindness!" And she's absolutely right. It works almost every time.

"Okay, but what if the bully is physically attacking me or someone else?" If you're witnessing the attack, find a teacher, teacher's aide--any adult that works in the school immediately. It can be a secretary or even the lunch lady. Don't try and fight back because you could get hurt and get the person being attacked hurt even more. It's best to be safe and just try and get help immediately. Bullies don't want to feel embarrassed and getting an adult to call them out on their behavior and send them to the principal's office for a suspension or something along those lines will always work. If you can't get help and you're stuck alone, then you can fight back. I find a good punch to the nose always works! (I'm joking--but I do know from experience being a goalie in soccer than getting hit in the nose freaking hurts!)

Most importantly, remember that you are important. You matter. If your parents or whoever you are living with are ignoring your cries for help against a bully, find someone who will care. Find a teacher or, again, even a secretary. I know guidance counselors aren't always the most welcoming, but they will be helpful, they will listen and they will believe you. It doesn't matter how old you are--your life matters and you should be able to live a life free of bullying and free of feeling attacked at school. You have the power to take control and help yourself and even help others.