Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween: Punny Costumes


Ceiling Fan


Formal Apology

                                       Cereal Killer


Iron Man

Pumpkin Pi

Social Butterfly

And my personal favorite......

Happy Halloween!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Voting: A little Quality Time To Yourself

This year's election will be on November 8. Polling places will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.. You might be wondering what it's like to vote. Here you go:

First, find out where you are supposed to vote. Voting locations are based on your address. They're usually conveniently close to your house. Usually, your polling place will be a local school or possibly a church building; this is in order to accommodate a large number of people with no problem. *You need to go the polling place designated for you, you cannot just go into any polling place.

You can look up where your polling place is by entering your zip code and address here:

The polling place will be tended by a number of election judges. These people keep order, check registered voters in, register new voters, and make sure all ballots are kept secret and secure for the day of the election. They often work from 6:00 a.m. until after the polls are closed for the evening. If you're interested in becoming an election judge, click on this link:

**Did you know students ages 16-17 can be Election Judge Trainees and help out at the polling place on Election Day?** Sounds like a great way to see the process of election!!

This link tells you how to vote if you are away at college, and other special circumstances. There are links to a paper registration and where to mail it, or to register online as well: 

Graphic from 2012: Look how many people were in the 21-40 years old age group--That's voting power.

If you haven't registered to vote, you can bring with identification and register right before you vote. You will need a Drivers License or your Social Security number. You may also need to show a bill, such as a utility bill, to prove you live at your address.
You can vote in Minnesota if:
  • You are a Citizen of the United States
  • You are 18 years old by Election Day, November 8, 2016
  • You have lived in Minnesota for 20 days prior to November 8. Thus, you have to have lived in this state on October 19th.
  • You must not have been convicted of treason or a felony
  • You are not legally incompetent
You only need to register one time.

This is a typical ballot from the last election.
Once you are registered, an Election Judge will hand you a ballot. These are often long sheets of paper with all the candidates listed for each position being elected, and will be in a large cardboard folder. You'll be given the right sort of pen or marker to use on the ballot, Be sure you turn it over and look at all the different offices you can vote for.

Other officials may be up for election on your ballot, and there may also be items specifically related to one city or one district. For example, this year in Minnesota, voters can cast a ballot for these people:
  • President and Vice President: The ballot lists Democrate, Republican, and Independent Party choices. You have the right to write in another name of your choice and vote for that person.
  • U.S. Representative, District 6
  • State Senator, District 37 and 37A
  • County Commissioner, District 3
  • Soil and Water Superintendent
  • Mayor, City of Blaine
  • Council Member: Ward 1, Blaine
  • Some Associate Justices
  • Many Judges
  • A question put to the voters of Blaine about a community center/Senior Center.
While it would be appreciated if you look up these folks and make an informed decision, you are not required to vote for any other officials. If you only want to vote for President, you can do that and your vote will be counted. If you see the word "incumbent" before a name, that means the person already holds the office and is running for re-election.

A ballot like the one you see above  requires you to fill in the ovals next to the candidate you want to vote for. As with any scanned type of paper, be sure you fill the oval neatly, not too small and not too sloppy; the scanner can't read those and will reject your ballot.

If you mess up your ballot, take it to an election judge to get a fresh one. Don't crumple it up, just hand it to a judge.

The next time there is an election, since you have registered, you simply go to your polling place, give an election judge your name and address, and then sign next to your name. Then you'll be given your ballot (voting paper) and directed to a booth.

Some booths have long curtains for your privacy and some have sides that would prevent anyone from seeing who you're voting for. Some places have curtains behind the voter, but either way,  keeping your vote secret is no problem.
Ballot Booths. They each have tall sides so you can't see anyone's ballot.

When you are done (and take your time, be sure you are voting for the people you want) you can put your paper ballot back into the large cardboard folder and bring it to the person who is putting the ballots into the counting machine. No need to remove it from the folder, it will hang out enough for the scanner to grab it. The machine looks like this:

No one is going to see who you voted for, including the election judge.

You'll probably be offered an "I Voted" sticker to place on your jacket.

That's it!! You just made your voice heard. Now you can keep tabs on results as they come in by watching it on TV or online.

Monday, October 17, 2016

How Much Power Does The President Have?

With the election coming up soon (Tuesday, November 8!!) we got to wondering: No matter who wins the election, how much power does the President of the United States actually have??
There are three branches of government in the U.S.: Executive (the President), Legislative (Congress and Senate) and Judicial (U.S. Supreme Court). In theory, at least, these three are supposed to cooperate to pass laws. In reality, there is a lot of negotiating, stalemates, and disagreements occurring between Congress, Senate, and the President. When the legislative part is run by one political party but the President belongs to another, this frequently causes problems.

President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act. The President uses several pens to sign these bills and then hands them off to people as souvenirs that they were present at the signing.

According to the United States Constitution, the President can:
  • Suggest legislation to Congress, although Congress still has to pass it into law
  • Sign or veto bills if 2/3 of the members of Congress agree
  • Make treaties with other countries
  • Grant reprieves or pardons
  • Appoint ambassadors
  • Appoint cabinet members
  • Appoint Justices of the Supreme Court
  • Fill vacancies in the Senate if it is in recess, without an election
  • Nominate a new Vice President if that position is vacated, without an election
More in-depth explanations can be found here:

The President is the Commander in Chief of all the Armed Forces in our country. This means he or she, even though a civilian, is in charge of all branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. There are chief advisors for each branch that confer with the President to keep him or her informed of any military actions. The President does not have the power to declare war, only Congress can do that.

A further explanation of "Commander in Chief" is here:

The President can be removed from office (the procedure is called impeachment) by an Act of Congress if he or she is suspected of:

  • Treason-Treason is doing something that betrays your country, such as trying to overturn a ruler or take the ruler's life
  • Bribery-Bribery is paying someone for his/her silence when you have done something wrong or illegal
  • Other high crimes and misdemeanors-this 'catchall' phrase would include the types of things done by Richard Nixon when he was in office: lying about things he ordered to be done, to spy on the Democratic Party, for starters.  Read about his impeachment here:
  • Presidents William Clinton and Andrew Johnson were also impeached, but unsuccessfully, so they completed their terms in office. President Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.

What does the Vice President do, you may ask?? One duty of the Vice President is to preside over the Senate when it meets. The Vice President does have the power to vote only in cases where the Senate is tied in their votes.

The main job of the Vice President is to be available should something happen to the president; that is, the President dies, becomes unable to fulfill the duties of that office, or is removed from office. At that point, the Vice President steps in and becomes President. This has happened 8 times in our history. On 13 occasions, a Vice President has gone on to become elected as President.

While the President of the U.S. enjoys lots of perks, he or she does not actually hold a lot of power. That was the agreement when the country's Constitution was written.

 Air Force One is the President's jet. It is specially equipped for safety and is always 'on call' for use.
 So as far as power is concerned, the President is somewhat limited. He or she does, however, represent the whole country to the rest of the world, and has the responsibility of diplomacy, tact, and wisdom in dealing with other nations. He or she will travel extensively and will receive visitors from many countries during his or her time in office. The way the President conducts himself or herself is the way the rest of the world views us.  

Monday, October 10, 2016


Have you heard the term 'cyberbullying' before? Do you know what it is?

The term refers to bullying that goes on in an online forum, such as texting, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or any other place where people post comments and engage in conversations, such as through e-mail or in a chat room, which might be while playing online games. The bullying is very similar to any other form of bullying..... It includes:

  • Making fun of someone for any reason whatsoever
    • For example, someone with a disability or someone who looks 'different'
    • It might be someone who has a particular body shape, like tall, short, thin, overweight
    • People can be picked on because they are smart or slow, intelligence-wise
    • People who speak differently can be a target
    • A 'new' student
    • Bullies will even pick on someone for their hair color or clothes or backpack
    • No particular reason, just that someone others are intimidated by decides to pick on someone
    • If someone is perceived as a 'teacher's pet' he or she might be picked on
  • Threatening people with harm
  • Saying things like "I wish you would just die" or "you are worthless" or "you are so stupid" via text, Facebook post, Twitter post, or on any other social media site or where virtually anyone can read it: this shares the statement to potentially thousands of people

With cyberbullying, bullies can harass their victims anonymously...they can make up many different screen names, or in some cases post as 'guest' or 'anon'. This way, they can post multiple times and make it look like it was several different people when in fact it was one. This makes the bullies particularly bold and at the same time cowardly: they feel confident nobody will find out who's doing it, so they keep it up for long periods of time and are very aggressive with their posts.

These people have also been known to post while posing as other people, that is, using someone else's online or 'screen' name, without that person's knowledge. The victim then thinks a friend (and possibly a true longtime friend) is doing it, while the actual bully is unknown and it is not, in fact, the friend.

The "bully" may also be a group of bullies working together, sharing what they have posted or texted-and sharing the posts by forwarding texts, re-tweeting, sharing posts, for example, and thinking it's funny, and that they are getting away with it.

Cyberbullying happens 24/7, and from virtually anywhere the bullies have access to the internet; usually, their phones. Comments 'go viral' the instant the person taps or clicks, and can (in theory) be seen by millions of people, not only those who know you. Once any of the posts have been made, it is sometimes impossible to delete them. Bullies will also find pictures, whether they are really of the victim or not, and post them with nasty captions.

What should you do if cyberbullying is happening to you?

  • First, tell someone such as a parent or teacher, some adult who might be able to help make it stop: don't wait until it escalates. Someone should know it's happening.
  • Take screen shots of what is posted and print them, keep the printouts in a place where you can find them easily
  • If the bullying is happening via text messages, do not delete those texts.
  • Remember, if there is something about you or your life that you don't want everyone to know, then don't post it. Even people who mean you no harm may share these things with others who do.
  • Don't ever tell anyone your passwords, not even your friends. It could wind up in the wrong hands accidentally. If you feel bullied, change your passwords often. Make it harder for them to get into your accounts.
  • Don't ever agree to meet someone in person if you have only ever chatted with him or her online
  • Turn off your technology sometimes. Talk to people. Go outside. Read something.
  • If it's happening on Facebook, report it, and block anyone from your account other than people you completely trust. If you have any doubts about someone, or don't know the person well, he or she is not allowed to see anything you post, at least for a while until you figure out who is doing the bullying.
  • At Twitter, block (don't only 'unfollow') people who are or who may well be doing this to you.
  • At Tumblr, at least silence but preferable unfollow anyone except your most completely trusted friends. Remember, if you have only 'met' them online, you don't really know people.
  • See if  you can figure out who is doing it.
  • Contact the venue where it's happening: Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, for example, all have policies against cyberbullying and will want to know when someone is being abusive.
  • As much as you really, really, want to, do not respond to the posts/don't retaliate. It won't help.
Life Lesson #2435: If someone texts you 183 times to threaten or otherwise bother you, and you finally cave on the 184th text to say: Stop it, leave me alone!! Your abuser just learned that it takes 183 texts to get you to respond. This person should be blocked from your phone, but if he/she is simply using a number you don't identify, you should not answer: add that number to your rejected calls, and do nothing in terms of responding. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Consider changing your number and only giving it to a very few people.
  • Close your social media account(s) and open a new one with a different name, or alternately, just close your account and make yourself unavailable for online assault. If anyone asks, just tell them "I'm not on Twitter anymore." No need to explain.
  • Keep track of when and how often it's happening, and the screen names of those doing it: is it always the same people, or is it a new crop all the time?
  • It is likely that the participants  are talking amongst themselves and planning their next assault together.
  • If you are afraid for your safety, get in touch with law enforcement 

Here is Facebook's page for help if you are being harassed there:

Twitter's safety advice and how to report:

Being wise about sharing your personal information online.
It mentions geo-tagging: see Triogenius' post "A Geo What?" April 16, 2012-people can find out where your pictures were taken, and thereby where you live and hang out.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon. If you are being bullied, you are among between 9 and 13% of all high school age students. And those are only reported instances---it is probably happening more than that. It happens to both males and females, females slightly more often.

If anyone thinks it's not a big deal, that is, if you are doing some of these things, consider the consequences to the person being bullied:

  • People may turn to alcohol or drug use to escape being unhappy
  • They may skip school, or refuse to attend school
  • Grades may drop when they were good before
  • Changing schools may not be the answer to the problem
  • The person's self-esteem drops
  • Health problems such as weight loss, weight gain, not being able to sleep, headaches, etc. may occur in people who were healthy before the bullying started
  • Victims of bullying sometimes think about suicide
  • Feeling lonely, excluded, and powerless

Laws that pertain to punishment for bullying, including cyberbullying, fall under 'Freedom of Speech;' that law does not include freedom to express yourself in such a way as to harass or harm others in any way. Bullying and stalking are also very similar, and both are punishable by law.

 This is the statute in MN concerning stalking:
 A video about cyberbullying:
Other helpful sites:

 This has a number of really interesting "related posts" towards the bottom of the article:



Monday, October 3, 2016

Traveling Nurse: Is it For You?

You may want to consider becoming a traveling nurse. These nurses register with a travel nurse agency, which then places them in jobs across the country. The positions are considered temporary, but may last anywhere from a few weeks to a year. As a traveling nurse, you would fill in for hospitals and other facilities when they have a shortage of nurses. This could be due to:
  • Lack of applicants in their area
  • Large numbers of nurses on vacation
  • Nurses on maternity leave
  • New facility that isn't fully staffed yet
  • Nursing strikes
  • Not enough Human Resources people to interview and hire nurses that are needed

Most agencies will want you to have a year of experience as a nurse. After that, you can register and be hired quickly.
Some facts about being a traveling nurse:
  • Pay is excellent, commonly more than the average nurse's pay. This is because it is not a permanent position and requires you to move, even if temporarily, away from your home. It may be up to $48.00 an hour in some cases.
  • Your housing, including furnishings, is paid for by your agency; you pay nothing for rent
  • Travel to and from your temporary assignment is also paid for
  • You do receive benefits from the agency who employs you, in many cases exactly like any other employer (medical, dental, 401K, etc)
  • Licensure is something to be discussed with your agency; typically a nurse who has passed Boards is licensed only in the three or four states surrounding that nurse's home. Read more about licensing for traveling nurses here:
In order to be a good traveling nurse, you must be
  • Flexible-willing to accept a variety of assignments in a variety of locations
  • Adaptable-you can tune into your temporary location's practices and get along with others
  • You genuinely like traveling-you're not going to be 'homesick'
  • You must have high level skills: the hospital or other facility you are sent to expects you to be excellent at what you do and not need a lot of training
  • You need to be independent and able to manage your time well, and to find your way in a new location-to look at it as an adventure
And as with any position, a facility has the right to dismiss you if you don't work out for it; you are not in a union with a contract type of nursing job.

There are also opportunities for specialty nurses, such as an Oncology, Pediatric, Cardiac, or Neurological nurse, for examples. You can also travel as a Radiologic Technician, Occupational, Physical, or Speech therapist; Nurse Managers and Nurse Practicioners.
This is a site that hires traveling nurses. We are not recommending it, necessarily, but it gives descriptions of Traveling Nurse positions:

If you want to travel, make good money, get a variety of experiences and learn more about people and places, consider being a travel nurse!