Monday, January 23, 2017

And That's Just The First Line 2.0

Is the world making you feel upset, scared, angry, powerless? Do you want something to escape and to calm you, to take you somewhere else for a while?


What are your favorite books? Do you remember the first line of them, or any memorable lines? Why did you like them? You could consider re-reading them, or.....

Imagine how these books turn out eventually:

"A Screaming Comes Over the Sky."                                              Gravity's Rainbow
"Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family
is unhappy in its own way."                                                              Anna Karenina

"I am an invisible man."                                                                    The Invisible Man

"124 was spiteful."                                                                             Beloved

"It was the day my grandmother exploded."                                    Crow Road

"Once upon a time, there was a woman who
discovered she had turned into the wrong person."                       Back When We Were Grownups

"I was 17 years old when I saw my first dead body."                  Where Things Come Back
"The first thing you find out when yer dog learns
to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say."                            Mortal Engines

"Here is a weird one for you."                                                          Signifying Nothing
"The magician's underwear has just been found
in a cardboard suitcase floating in a stagnant pond
on the outskirts of Miami."                                                     Another Roadside Attraction

"Dear anyone who reads this, do not blame the drugs."             Cruddy

"Pale freckled eggs."                                                                 The Conservationist

"It was a wrong number that started it."                                              City of Glass

And the traditional opening line that Snoopy loves so much:
"It was a dark and stormy night."                                                         Paul Clifford

Do any of these stir up some interest? Find them at your local library in the usual book form, or borrow them as e-books on your phone, tablet, or computer (did you know that ebooks take up virtually no room in your computer?) and settle in for some good reads. If you haven't used your library to download an e-book, their librarians can guide you through it, it's easy!

Many e-books are available for free download from Amazon  , Bookbub: , the Gutenberg Project. ,Goodreads: or at Open Culture: .

If you visit one of these sites and search free classic books you will find lots of them that can be downloaded for free, such as:
Tale of Two Cities
The Great Gatsby
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
Jane Eyre
The Scarlet Letter
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Tom Sawyer
The Time Machine
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
--and other works by Dickens, F Scott Fitzgerald.... Look around, find something interesting, and settle in for a good read.

Microblog: Minnesota Companies: Ecolab

Ecolab is another major Minnesota-based company.

What they do: An easier question might be what don't they do? Ecolab's focus is on providing clean and safe water and foods for people to consume. But they also are involved in many other things:
  • Restaurants, casinos, cruises, and hotels provide clean water and food to their clients with help from Ecolab

  • Ecolab also works with farms and in particular dairy farms, as well as veterinarians, to be sure animals are safe in the things they consume
  • Ecolab explores for minerals such as silver, gold, copper; and also finds supplies of sand and gravel

  • The company is involved in aerospace exploration, national defense
  • Energy is a primary focus of Ecolab's work
  • They are involved in building materials such as glass
Ecolabs have headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, but also locations worldwide including other states, Canada, Australia, and Germany.
Here is the company website so that you can see how diverse Ecolab is, and all the different things they do:
What kind of degree or major would be helpful in working for Ecolabs?
  • Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Math/CPA
  • Ecological Science
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Geology
  • International Business
  • Law
  • Business Administration
  • Marketing
  • Human Resources
for these types of careers:
  • Sales
  • Engineering
  • Hydrologist
  • Geologist
  • Hospitality (hotels)
  • Financial analyst
  • Communications
  • Warehouse
  • Manufacturing
  • Accounting
  • Interns
Here is their website concerning careers, including internships:

Keep Ecolab on your radar for an internship or a career. There are lots of different areas to choose from.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Aleppo: What's That All About?

Aleppo is a town in Syria that's been under siege for six solid years. Here is where Syria is-it is in the lower right corner colored green:

Here is a close-up of Syria. It's bordered by Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea

Here are some before and after pictures of the destruction of the city:

Yes, this is the same street before and after relentless bombing.

Fighting for control over Aleppo started in 2011 and continued until (presumably) an agreement was reached in December 2016. The fighting was between:

  • Syrian Opposition
  • the Free Syria Army
  • Sunnis
  • Fighters associated with Al Qaeda, which is responsible for terrorism worldwide

  • The government of Syria
  • including Hezbollah and Shiite militants
  • and Russia
                                           This map from 2015 shows the war month to month in Aleppo.

Aleppo was originally the largest city in Syria, with over 2 million people living there. The city has a history dating back to about 5000 BC. Many of the buildings constructed thousands of years ago,  now lay in rubble due to bombings.

In the fighting, more than 31,000 people have died, including over 5,000 children.

Bombing has targeted schools, hospitals, stores (a marketplace in Syria is called a Souq), and rescue workers.
                                       Imagine your town having bombs raining down on it like this.

The White Helmets are a group of people dedicated to helping save as many lives as possible, at great risk to themselves.

What is it like for ordinary people living-or trying to live- in Aleppo now?

When you see a news story about the situation in Aleppo, imagine what it would be like if it was your hometown being bombed and attacked relentlessly. Think of losing everything, with little hope of replacing it. Your neighbors are also in the same situation. Your school is gone, the place you or your family worked,  your place of worship, all the shops you usually go to, but most of all your sense of safety, all gone. And to have this continue for years without any hope of it ending.

Why do you think this battle raged for so long? Was it about power, control, authority? Could it happen in your hometown? Why or why not? Do you know anyone who came from a similar situation? Are there any lessons to learn from it? Do you think it will happen again? Why?

Let's open up discussion about these things and remember these are fellow inhabitants of Earth.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Predicting the Future: Using a Planner

Have you been using a planner?


 A planner can be your lifeline, your reminder, your answer, your organizer, and your watchman....and it's just a book of paper.

What's the purpose of a planner?
  • To look ahead and see what's coming, and to break down how you want your world organized one step at a time.
  •  If you look at your tasks spread out in a way that seems manageable, you're less likely to be overwhelmed
  • Once you're in the habit of checking your planner several times every day, you won't be forgetting stuff like tests and studying for tests, when a bill is due, where you're supposed to be at a given time, how much longer till a certain due date, and even remembering peoples' birthdays.

Students, take the syllabus from each class and use it to fill in your planner with due dates and test dates. Then you need to figure out when to have parts of each task completed so you are ready before the due date. How long will a paper take you to write? How much time do you need for research? When will you begin studying for a test? Plot out the dates and write them in your planner.

An example: There will be a test on February 17. What chapters will it cover? You might write in your planner
 January 18: review Chapter 3.
 January 25: Review Chapter 4.
February 1: Go over Chapters 3 and 4.
February 10: Review again for test.
February 16: Recheck your 'trouble spots.'

Although the bottom example is for finals, it's a good way to plan out your studying any time.

                                      Notice lunch, time for exercise, and bedtime are also on the planner....
What kind of planner is right for you?
First let's establish that we're talking about a planner made of paper, not a reminder app you can use on your phone. Apps are great--some are greater than others--but (A) you have lots to keep track of and (B) phone batteries wear out and phones die, not to mention they get lost or left behind, and (C) it actually probably takes longer to 'text in' your tasks than to simply write them in with a pen or pencil. Use your planner with an app, and you'll really have it covered. 

  • One kind of planner is about 5 x 7" give or take, often zips shut, and may also have a strap to keep it together.
  • Most planners are usually in the form of a notebook, which can be any size. It could be that you prefer something the size of a traditional notebook. The idea is to be able to take it with you so you can refer to it often. It may have holes punched in it so that you can put it in a binder. Spiral-bound planners are easy to use, as they lay flat or can be 'folded back' to a particular day.
  • You can also make one yourself using a calendar, a plain notebook, or anything else that works for you.
  • Look at planners available in the stores; they're usually found by other notebooks and/or calendars.. What kind looks like it would be your best 'companion'? Do you like things to be horizontal or vertical? Days, or hour by hour? Big squares or smaller ones?
What will your planner look like?
Here's one that has not only assignment lists, but an hour by hour plan for your day. Does this kind work for you?

 Here's an example of using different colored highlighters: The person has crossed out completed tasks.

Again, this one has the times of day. You can schedule your classes and time for studying as the week goes by.



If you prefer, you can mark off different classes or tasks using stickers. Color-coding is still the best way to notice different things on your schedule.




Try blank stickers that you can write on, so that your planner is tailored for you.


You can download templates for a number of different planners and print your own, you don't have to purchase one. Try these sites for ideas--see which one seems like it would work for you:

What do you write in your planner?
  • Answer: Everything.
  • Sub-answer: It's really up to you. How organized do you need to be? Should it include everything you do, including sleep time, eating, activities outside of school?
  • It won't hurt to write everything in your planner even if you think it's not necessary. If nothing else you get the satisfaction of crossing something off your list.
  • Color coding is SO important. Simply using different colored highlighters can do the trick. This might be by subject or by importance or both. Put in your class schedule first, then go back and fill in when papers are due and when tests will occur. Now you have a clearer picture of when studying has to happen in each subject.
  • Expecting a day off for some reason? Write it in.
  • Dental or doctor appointments? Write them in.
  • Car maintenance such as when an oil change is due? Write it in.
  • Birthdays or family occasions? Write them in.
  • Attending an event such as a concert? Write it in.
  • Is it your week to do a certain chore? Write it in.
  • Library book due dates? Write them in.
  • Miss a day because you're sick? Write it in.
  • Tutoring appointments or hope to have tutoring? Write it in.
  • Study groups? Write in the day and time you are to meet.
  • At the front inside the cover, you can put a copy of your class schedule and instructors' office hours and places, in case you need it.
You're getting the idea by now. The trick is to get in the habit of checking your planner all the time, depending on it, and knowing that if you do you will not miss important dates and times.
 You can always ask your advisor for help in setting up and using your planner.
Here are three tasks to start with:
  1. Obtain a planner somehow: buy one, make one, print one.
  2. Put it into a folder or binder where it's easy to look at,
  3. The most important thing: Start a new habit: When you get up every morning, you check your planner first thing. You're probably in the habit of checking your phone first thing, just do this as well. What does your day look like today? Is it busy or less busy? Start to check every day first thing, then several more times in a day. If you can glance at your phone, you can glance at a planner, too.
Let's start this semester by at least trying a planner. It may turn out to be a great help!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A List of Firsts for the First

It's the first week of 2017!!Hope you are well and warm.

Have you ever thought about other firsts? Check these out:

Aerosol can              1926, Norway
*Where would we be without spray everything, and especially cheese in a can??

Air Conditioning               1911, USA
*Thank you, Mr. Carrier, for not making us suffer through 100-degree, 110% humidity.

Aluminum                  1866, USA
*Without aluminum, we'd be drinking pop out of ... sippy cups??
Coca-Cola                1886, USA.
*Did you know that, originally, it actually had cocaine in it? Yikes.

Plastic                         1855, England
Antibiotics                     1887, France
*Without them, we'd die of paper cuts and skinned knees.
Electric washing machine   1906, USA
*And that put an end to raw skin from scrubbing clothes on a washboard.
Radio     1873, England

Movies with sound         1926, USA

Refrigerator            1850
*Where we keep the snacks for watching TV.

Television                  1923, USA
Telephone               1876, USA
*And they had no idea the phone would morph into a little computer with some kind of magnet that makes it impossible for people to put it down.

Typewriter            1867, USA
*People used to have to learn on this: Because it was all there was. And it was called typing, not keyboarding.

Bicycles        1816, Germany
Motorcycles           1884, England
Assembly line for manufacturing   1913,  USA

Ballpoint pen              1944, Argentina
Rocketship             1926, USA
Aluminum  1866, USA
Scotch tape        1929, USA
Defibrillator       1932, USA
Bar Codes            1970, USA
Calculator (Slide rule)  1614, Scotland
Camera               1888, USA
Makeup       app 4000 BC, Egypt

The Pill (Oral contraceptive) 1951, USA
Frozen food             1924, USA
Train           1804, England
Microwave oven       1947, USA

Zippers              1891, USA
Internet         1989, England

It's only Day 3 of 2017... Let's make it great!!