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Jess Smith

Lyric Opera brings Queen of Spades to the masses

The Cards We Are Dealt: Being Black in Lyric Opera

As a black woman in America with an eclectic taste in a wide variety of art spaces, it is quite often that I find myself in white dominated spaces, such as Lyric Opera. The opera space is definitely one of these white-dominated spaces. I often go into spaces like these with a sense of hesitation because I often wonder if the particular night I am attending something in a white space will be the particular night that I will experience a moment that reminds me of my race. On February 15 at the opening night of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, this was one of those nights.

Being black at the Opera

After acquiring my press tickets I moved my way to the main floor towards the front of the stage, as this is the area I am usually seated when doing press coverage at Lyric Opera and that evening was no different. Upon showing the usher my ticket he stares at them for a while and stares back at my lovely date, who is also African American, and myself. “Hmmm something is not right,” he exclaimed. “How did you get these tickets?”

“I’m press.”

My date and I look at each other as we immediately recognize that we are about to enter what most black people know as a “white-space” debacle.

“These tickets are for our sponsors I’m not sure what happened here are some emergency tickets please there. They are only a coupe rows back, so you will still have very good seats.”

We cautiously took the emergency seats, but although we both knew why the usher assumed why we couldn’t possibly be sponsors, we decided to continue to enjoy my night so I could take in and review The Queen of Spades at Lyric Opera.

“You should be on the third floor”

After the first act we went to stretch our legs and discuss the minimal positive aspects of Richard Jones’ vision of The Queen of Spades. From the gorgeous arias and beautiful opening intro to the first act, there was a lot to sonically take in, but so much visually. After chatting about these aspects the same usher ran over to us.

“Hey, sorry about the mix up. I just wanted you to know that you should be on the third floor, but I gave you really good seats, enjoy the show!”

After reviewing multiple operas on opening nights at Lyric Opera there was never one time that I had to sit anywhere other than the main floor in the first few rows. Being felt that you aren’t good enough to be in a certain space or in more of the expensive seats is not a good feeling and made me want to leave the production early. Unfortunately, this isn’t an uncommon thing for black people in white spaces.

Solange Knowles explained it best

Artist Solange Knowles delved into the idea of black people in white spaces when she was treated negatively at a Kraftwerk (one of my favorite electronic artists of all time) concert. There were very few black people in the audience, as the multi-media German electronic band does not attract that many black fans. In a series of tweets she explained exactly what it was like to be in these spaces.

“You don’t feel that most of the people in these incidents do not like black people, but simply are a product of their own white supremacy and are exercising it with you without caution, care, or thought,” she explained. “Many times the tone just simply says, ‘I do not feel you belong here.’”

Alas, Lyric Opera Queen of Spades was dealt a bad hand

This incident seemed to set the tone for the rest of the night, as The Queen of Spades was a ridiculous caricature of Tchaikovsky’s ominous thriller. Boring staging accompanied with questionable artistic choices and tweaks to the opera made it a confusing and inappropriate throughout the near four-hour three-act adaptation.

The story tells of a obsessive and creepy outcast, Gherman who falls in love with a mysterious woman. Played by tenor, Brandon Jovanovich, he did well in expressing the anguish and heart-wrenching obsession he developed over his crush. Lisa played by soprano Sondra Radvanovsky is the granddaughter of a woman known as the Countess who acquired mysterious wealth by knowing the secret of “three cards.” Gherman’s obsession quickly changes from Lisa to knowing the gambling secret.

Director Richard Jones went from minimal staging to staging with random and cheesy props. In the third act, he really confused the audience by replacing what normally is the ghost of the evil Countess to a Party City-esque singing skeleton that was making sexual moves on Gherman.

Although I love being a wide variety of spaces, it gets exhausting to be treated like an outsider when art is where outsiders are supposed to be able to meet and feel comfortable. My suggestion for Lyric Opera would be to focus on bringing diversity into the space and allowing us to feel welcome as well.

To see Queen of Spades for yourself you have until March 1 when the show will stop running, but you can find tickets here.

Rod Blagojevich freshly released from prison Tuesday evening

Rod Blagojevich Released from Prison by President Trump

Tuesday evening, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was released from his 14-year prison sentence due to President Donald Trump commuting his sentence. Immediately after being released Rod Blagojevich hopped onto a plane and touched down in the Windy City of Chicago where curious and admiring fans met him.

Home sweet home Chicago & Trump-ocrat

“There’s no place like home,” he retorted to the bystanders and onlookers at O’Hare International Airport.

“I’m profoundly grateful to President Trump and I will be as long as I live,” Blagojevich graciously explained. “He didn’t have to do this. He’s a republican president. I was a democratic governor. But he’s a man who’s not only tough and outspoken, strong but he has a kind heart. And I’ll be forever grateful.”

Dubbing himself a “Trump-ocrat” after the President prompted his early release, Blagojevich has a lot more in common with President Trump than just both being in politics. Blagojevich was accused of large amounts of corruption, notably in the category of finances. Blagojevich was convicted of attempting to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat after he went on his presidency campaign. He was also accused of shaking down children’s hospital executives and the horse-racing industry for campaign contributions.

“And they lied on me”

Blagojevich claims he was actually the victim, in the situation and did absolutely nothing wrong. “That if I were given in to the pressure and give in to the shakedown that was done to me, that I would be violating my oath of office to fight for the Constitution and fight for the rule of law and keep my promises to (the public),” he said. “Cause I didn’t do the things they said I did. And they lied on me.”

President Donald Trump hasn’t been silent about his thoughts on the long prison sentence Blagojevich received for the corruption charges. Previously having set to be released in March 2024, Trump made it clear when asked he thought the hefty sentence was way too harsh.

Stain on Illinois politics

The Rod Blagojevich controversy was a huge stain on Illinois political circles, and current Illinois governor, J.B. Pritzker was highly opposed to the release, which he expressed in a statement.

“Illinoisans have endured far too much corruption, and we must send a message to politicians that corrupt practices will not be tolerated,” Pritzker said. “President Trump has abused his pardon power in inexplicable ways to reward his friends and condone corruption, and I believe this pardon sends the wrong message at the wrong time.”

Blagojevich not only praised and gushed over the president because of his release, but he also noted his wife, Patti Blagojevich as a major reason because of her non-stop dedication in attempting to get her husband pardoned.

“I love her,” Blagojevich doted. “I made a lot of mistakes in my life. But the best thing I ever did was falling in love and being in love with Patti, and I can’t wait to see her and our daughters Amy and Annie. It’s been a long time.”

Because Rod Blagojevich was commuted and not pardoned, he still will have felonies on his record. No one knows what his future holds, but in the meantime we expect the silver-haired former governor to have a lot of time to make up for.

See the whole press conference at Blagojevich’s Chicago Ravenswood home below:

Dwayne Wade supports his LGBTQ+ daughter Zaya

Dwayne Wade Supports Transgender Daughter

In a touching moment of living in their eternal truth, basketball star Dwayne Wade revealed that his daughter, formerly known as his son Zion, has come out to his family with the request to be referred to she/her and to call her Zion. In an appearance on “The Ellen Show”, he revealed to the host that one day Wade’s 12-year-old child came home and expressed that she would like to be referred to as she/her and to be called Zaya, rather than her birth name Zion.

Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union dub themselves LGBTQ+ allies

When speaking to Ellen Degeneres, Dwayne Wade explained, “First of all, me and my wife, Gabrielle Union, we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community. And we’re proud of allies, as well. And we take our roles and responsibilities as parents very seriously.”

“Call me Zaya”, Wades 12-year old requested

Wade explained how vital it is for parents to listen to their children when they express that they have something important to share. Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union’s values as parents were no different when Zaya came home one day and revealed her personal truth. “That doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved in it,” he said. “And so, once Zaya, our 12-year old, came home, and said: ‘Hey, I want to talk to you guys. You know, I think going forward I’m ready to live my truth, and I want to be referenced as she and her. I would love for you guys to call me Zaya.’”

The familial support gives hope to other transgender children

Dwayne Wade’s unwavering support of his daughter is not only inspirational, but gives hope to other children in the LGBTQ+ community who may be too scared to come out and reveal to their parents exactly how they want to live and be represented in this world. In a video posted by Wade’s wife and actress Gabrielle Union, Zaya gave insight on her revelation with the self-awareness of someone three times her age. In the video Zaya’s father asks, “Even when people are being mean and even when people are getting hurt because they’re trying to be themselves? And even through that, you still want people to make sure they live their truth?” Zaya responds insightfully. “Yeah. I think, I know things can get tough. Definitely. But I think you push through and you be the best you.”

Brother Zaire relays sweet Instagram message to sister

In addition to parents Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade voicing their unfiltered support for their daughter, Zaya’s big brother Zaire also came out in support his brave sister. Captioned to a picture of the siblings as children, Zaire gushed, “Man I remember bugging my mom as a kid telling her I wanted a brother so bad. I was the only child looking for company and someone to look after and take care of,” Zaire explained. “I have been blessed to have my best friend Zaya with me for 12 years. We did everything together…we fought we played, we laughed, and we cried. But the one thing we never did was leave each other behind.”

He continued, “I’ve told you that I would lay my life down to make sure you are ten toes down and happy on this earth. I don’t care what they think Z, you are my best friend and I love you kid, and if it means anything, just know there’s no love lost on this side.”

Unwavering support for both Zaya and her family has come out of the entertainment industry in droves including support from transgender activist, author, and producer, Janet Mock.

The public support and bravery of Zaya is sure to save a lot of lives in the LGBTQ+ community.

Also Read: Lebron James in Limbo

The Redesigned LGBTQ Flag

2020 fitness trends for the best you

2020 Fitness Trends For the Best You

It’s about that time of year again where we push the plates to the side and begin to focus on the 2020 fitness trends that we are seeing come to fruition in 2020. From the nostalgic and jovial fun of the trampoline to diving into some cardio with an intense group running session. College News has compiled a few of the most popular fitness trends that we have been seeing this year.

Move over Stairmaster, we now have vertical climbers

Vertical climbers have been around for some time, but it wasn’t until recently that the trend of stationary climbers have begun to take off. Ranging from affordable at under $200 to a bit on the pricey side, vertical climbers are an asset to every home gym. Vertical climbers boast a full-body workout by requiring you to step while simultaneously climbing in place. Vertical climbing has even become a group activity with high octane vertical climbing classes popping up all over the country.

Trampoline exercises puts the fun back in 2020 fitness trends

Since the beginning of time, the evolutionary stature of humans have required us to utilize the entirety of our body to bring it to its full potential. Mini trampolines can target all areas at once while promoting healthy breathing techniques and lung capacity. There are plenty of workouts you can find on YouTube that incorporate the mini trampoline.

Virtual home workouts for the introvert

Although group classes are becoming more popular, we are also beginning to see a rise in fitness experts and novices alike. There are plenty of apps out there to help facilitate and maintain a workout routine. Personalized workouts, virtual trainers, and a custom diet plan are all things that you can find on one of the many intuitive workout apps out there.

Run with peers with these group classes

Running on the treadmill can be a pretty standard exercise experience, but add the element of group camaraderie and you can add some spice to your daily routine. Group running classes are becoming the new wave of fitness. You can even rent a treadmill that will be yours as long as you pay monthly or weekly for it.

So, get in tune with some of these trends and become your best you during Spring 2020!

Also read: Study Reveals Troubling Link Between Marijuana and False Memories

Oscars Diversity Missing From 2020 Ceremony

Even though South Korean film Parasite made history during the 2020 Oscars’ ceremony with a historic four wins, there still was a big issue of Oscars diversity that needed addressing. Parasite took home the biggest award of the night, coming away with “Best Picture.”

This made it the first foreign language film in history to take home the biggest Oscar of the night. Although director, Bong Joon Ho made major waves in history, there was still a lack of women and people of color featured in the categories for the night.

#OscarsSoWhite makes a return

Two years ago we saw the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag make its way into the Twitter-sphere as a direct response to the intense lack of Oscar diversity that we saw in the 2018 Academy Awards ceremony. However, the 2019 ceremony made up for the previous year’s blunder by being one of the most diverse film enthusiasts have seen in years. Rami Malek took Best Supporting Actor, Regina King took Best Supporting Actress, and Mahershala Ali took Best Supporting Actor.

Natalie Portman gets political with gender snubs

Where 2019 made strides into the non-existent Oscars diversity, 2020 lacked diversity in both gender and race. The Best Director category only had men eligible for the prestigious award, which did not go unnoticed by the Internet and actresses alike. In addition to the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, we saw the introduction of the #OscarsSoMale trending hashtag because the gender snubs.

Most notably of the night, actress Natalie Portman made a political fashion choice by donning a custom Dior cape with embroidered names of the women who were noticeably left out of the Best Director category. Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), and Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers).

Cynthia Ervio only nominee of color

With the aforementioned lack of gender Oscars diversity aside, there were still a major lack of color amongst the nominees at the Oscars’ ceremony. Out of 20 categories, there was only one nominee of color who was Cynthia Ervio as her portrayal of Harriet Tubman in the movie Harriet. Although she had a great performance, the only nominee of color being a portrayal of a slave plays into the trope that the Academy Awards only nominates movies that portray slavery.

In addition, Ervio did not even come away with the honor, making it even more of a failure in diversity for this year’s ceremony. Although Janelle Monae had an amazing opening performance, the Oscars’ still need to improve in future years to reflect the rich diverse art that peppers this world.

Also read: “Parasite” Makes History at the Oscars

How to generate human energy

K-Tor tells us how we can generate human energy and charge our devices

Human driven generators have been in existence for over 100 years but with the advent of wall outlets, the power grid, rechargeable and disposable batteries they fell out of popularity.

Recently the renewed interest in green energy and the realization that there are many situations, such as emergencies, adventuring and living off the grid, where they are indispensable they are again growing in popularity. This has also happened in parallel with the explosive growth of portable electronics devices that have become indispensable and are limited by their battery life.

K-Tor was born in 2008 by Ken Torino an electrical engineer who was caught once to many times with a dead battery while traveling and camping. It was not possible to buy a device as they did not exist and so Ken created K-Tor with the idea of making a highly functional modern design hand crank and pedal generator. These were developed after extensive development and testing as the Pocket Socket hand crank generator and Power Box pedal generator and the realization of that vision.

Visit us at K-Tor.com

In the development of a human power generator it is important to keep in mind two things, the human and the electrical device that is going to be powered. The human power generator is the device that goes between these two.

K-Tor started with extensive experimentation of the human. In the case of a hand crank what was the optimum crank length and power. The shorter the crank length the easier it was to turn fast but the harder to crank, the longer the easier to turn but harder to turn fast. The optimum was found via experimentation.  The design goal for K-Tor was to be able to take a cell phone and bring it back from the dead and allow some one to hand crank in a reasonable amount of time and keep a cell phone powered without plugging it in for an indefinite amount of time. It was also a design object to use the most universal interface and the standard wall outlet. Also by going through the wall charger supplied by the product maker it is the safest as these devices are designed to work with the battery they are charging. A universal solution is hard to achieve and the wall outlet is the closest thing to it.  The shortcoming of the crank is and continues to be the human body. In producing human power you want to use the largest muscle possible. The K-Tor hand crank is the best on the market using the arm and hand to crank vs others that use the wrist and fingers but the upper body can only produce so much and it is more like doing reps in the gym., three minutes and rest and three minute  and repeat for about thirty total. Thirty minutes charging at the same rate as plugging in a wall outlet is enough to keep you going day-to-day four minutes enough to bring a dead cell back to life for an emergency call. It is ideal for emergency use or day hiking or other similar uses.

For those that want to create more energy on a sustained basis pedaling is the way to go. Pedaling can be done for long periods of time comfortably even at heavier loads. The challenge in designing a pedal generator is to make it smaller lighter and less expensive so that it is more usable. The few that existed were the size of exercise bicycles and cost thousands. K-Tor did extensive experimentation and testing in developing and creating its pedal generator that is a huge leap forward in pedal generator design. K-Tor in its goal to make human power more available created its award winning pedal generator that folds to the size of a shoe box, is less than five lbs. and is less than $200.  It produces 20 watts that is plenty for most portable electronics up to and including tablets. It can also be used with a 12 Volt charger to charge small 12 volt batteries and run larger devices.

 K-Tor is now the world leader in human power products and has delivered tens of thousands all over the world. Whether you keep one at home for emergencies or it is your life line while on an expedition or in the Peace Corp they are indispensible in keeping communications operating, whether a cell phone, satellite phone or ham radio as well as the wide range of other indispensible portable electronic devices.

More information and a number of videos can be found on their web site k-tor.com and their you tube channel k-tor.  You can also talk to Ken the owner/inventor at 802 777 6229 his personal cell phone for advice or technical information or help.

K-Tor products are made in the US and they ship anywhere in the world.  You can also email ken at info@k-tor.com .

You Heard It First! Go Digital. Get Ahead.

Going digital with your college courses is now more popular than ever

Did you know that 9 out of 10 students who try digital in their college courses don’t go back? Digital tools are quickly becoming one of the easiest and most efficient ways for students to up their game in the classroom. Need convincing? Below we have outlined several reasons why digital learning tools rock.

Personalized Learning

When it comes to how we learn, one size definitely does not fit all. Each person has their own way of learning, and that preferred style guides the way you learn, the way you recall information and the words you choose. Some students might be more verbal learners, while others might be more logical, social or visual learners. Luckily, the use of digital learning solutions allows you to customize your education to suit your own personal learning style. Check out what kind of learner you are here

Better Grades

Want a not-so-hidden secret of an A student?  Build a digital toolkit! Studies show that students who can customize their learning experience not only get better grades, they also get more out of college, period. Using a mix of reading, multimedia, activities and assessments, digital tools bring together a variety of different learning approaches so you can get the most out of studying and increase your information retention. And if you are thinking you have NO idea where to start, no need to fret- CengageBrain has you covered. Visit our Help for Digital Products page, which will help you get the most out of your digital products with “how to” documentation and materials at your fingertips.

Save Money

With the advancements of digital in education, you have more choice than ever before. Beyond just a textbook, for most courses there are a range of digital options at varying price points. In fact, in many cases, an all-digital solution is actually the least expensive solution AND, more importantly, the most effective. Better grades at a lower cost – can’t beat that!

Study Bursts

Findings from a recent study show that time management is one of the biggest challenges for college students today. And with how busy you are, it comes as no surprise that trying to juggle all of your different responsibilities is tough. One major complaint students have is how to schedule in major chunks of time to study. That’s because most students don’t realize that studying doesn’t have to mean cramming for hours. Taking advantage of small chunks of time- even as little as 5 minutes! – can have a major impact on information retention and focus. With mobile study tools, like Cengage Learning’s MindTap Mobile , you can take advantage of small windows of free time while you are on the go. MindTap Mobile features cool study tools like flashcards and quizzes to test your knowledge, in addition to organizational features like scheduling, notifications and messaging to help you stay organized across all of your MindTap courses, all in one place.

Tracking Progress

We get it: it’s college; grades are important. One of the major benefits to using digital is that most tools allow you to track your grades so you can stay up to date with how you are doing. Even better, tools like MindTap even have features that alert you if you start slip in a certain course. This way you can stay on top of your grades throughout the semester, and avoid any unexpected surprises when crunch time comes.

Stay Organized

Digital learning platforms like MindTap offer customizable tools for staying organized. And the cool thing is most of these products are designed based on real student feedback so they incorporate the features that are most important to you! Now you can organize your assignments, due dates and classes in one place helping you stay a step ahead of upcoming deadlines.

Integrating digital learning tools into your coursework and studying is a game-changer for increasing your productivity and improving your grades. Do yourself a favor and give digital a try – you’ll only be sorry you haven’t done it sooner!

What Can Animals Teach Us About Kindness And Empathy?

Studies Of Our Non-Human Friends May Show How Genes Inspire Our Better Tendencies

While humans are capable of acts of cruelty, greed and deception, they also possess plenty of positive characteristics such as kindness, compassion, friendliness and empathy.

But why? Are those better angels of our nature something nurtured in us by our parents, or do we arrive on the planet genetically predisposed for them?

It’s something scientists have puzzled over, and many of them may be finding answers not with human research but by concentrating on animals.

“The idea that we could learn about kindness or compassion by studying animals might seem strange,” says Peter Schattner, a scientist and author of the book “Sex, Love and DNA: What Molecular Biology Teaches Us About Being Human” (www.peterschattner.com). 

“But since similar genes are often found in animals and people, what we learn from animals may well be relevant to understanding human behavior as well.”
Dogs are especially good species to study to learn about kindness, devotion and other pro-social traits because they have been genetically bred to display those traits, Schattner says.

“Look at it this way,” he says. “Dogs are the result of an extended genetic ‘experiment’ carried out by humans to artificially select the very personality traits that we value in them.”

Another reason geneticists like to study dogs is that, as species go, they are relatively young.

“Most scientists estimate people began breeding wolves for gentleness and tameness 15,000 to 30,000 years ago,” Schattner says. “Compare that to humans. We are believed to have diverged from chimpanzees, our closest living evolutionary relatives, about 4 million to 9 million years ago.”

The time span is important because fewer DNA changes between dogs and wolves have had time to develop. That makes it easier – though not necessarily simple – to track genetic changes to determine what genes affect behaviors, Schattner says.

Dogs aren’t the only animals scientists study that could help unlock clues about human traits and their genetic origins, Schattner says. Other examples include:

•  Mice and friendliness. Scientists studying the biological origins of Williams Beuren syndrome are making progress with mice. The syndrome is a medical condition that has several traits, but one of the most striking is that people with this syndrome are unusually friendly, even toward strangers. Scientists can engineer mice to have a similar chromosomal makeup as people with Williams Beuren syndrome. One result of this research so far is that, at least in mice, the friendliness associated with the syndrome appears to be linked to a single gene.

•  Siberian silver foxes, gentleness and friendliness. Research on Siberian silver foxes began in what was then the Soviet Union in the 1950s in an area where local farmers raised the foxes for their fur. A Soviet geneticist began trying to breed a tamer fox that was easier for the farmers to handle. He did this by mating the tamest males with the tamest females. Within four generations – and a silver fox generation is only about three to four years – the animals were showing signs of domestication. Over time, the researchers showed that gentleness and friendliness were genetic. “One result of all this is the foxes became so tame and adorable that allowing them to be killed for fur became difficult for the scientists,” Schattner says. “They began selling them as pets.”

•  Rats and empathy. Perhaps one of the more surprising experiments involved rats. University of Chicago researchers placed two rats in a large cage. One rat was free to wander, but the other was trapped in a smaller cage within the cage. The trapped rat would cry out in alarm and, remarkably, the free rat would try to open the other rat’s cage, which was no easy task. Even with no reward, three-fourths of the free rats in the experiment chose to open the trapped rat’s cage. “The results of these experiments were disturbing to people who believe that only we humans are capable of empathy and compassion,” Schattner says. Some scientists were still skeptical, saying the rats’ may have been pro-social, but didn’t necessarily demonstrate empathy or compassion.

About Peter Schattner

Peter Schattner (www.peterschattner.com) is a scientist, educator and writer with 30 years of research experience in molecular biology, genetics, biomedical instrumentation and physics. He is a recipient of the Technical Innovation Award from the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. Schattner received his doctorate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg and has held research and teaching positions at the University of California, California State University and Stanford Research Institute. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and reviews, as well as the textbook “Genomes, Browsers and Databases.” His latest book, “Sex, Love and DNA: What Molecular Biology Teaches Us About Being Human,” is his first book for non-scientists.

ALSO READ: IU study finds watching cat videos boosts positivity

More burglaries happen on UC Berkeley Campus

Nine offices were broken into on Tuesday and computers were stolen

UC Berkeley has witnessed a recent string of burglaries down on campus. The most recent burglary happened on Tuesday when police authorities responded to the ninth floor of Evans Hall. On this day they found that nine offices had been broken into and computers appeared to be missing. Just a couple weeks ago on July 21, police responded to another set of burglaries in the Haas school of business where 20 offices were broken into and computers had also been taken.

The recent string of burglaries had also hit Northgate, Dwinelle, Corey, Wellman and Moses Hall. Read more on the Contra Costa Times.  

These productivity tips will make all of the difference

Here are some tried-and-true tips we’ve gathered to help you be more productive, and start you off on the right foot for the year.

Set a rubric or syllabus as your homepage. If you tend to procrastinate, then try setting your browser as the rubric for the big project that’s due in a few weeks, or the syllabus for your toughest class. Forcing yourself to see it every time you open a browser makes it far more likely that you’ll follow through and do it in a timely manner.

Set your font color to dark blue or gray if your printer is low on ink. Sometimes it’ll be 3 a.m. and you’re printing a paper for your 8 a.m. class. That’s inevitably when your printer runs out of ink. Change the font color to blue or gray, and then nab a few hours of sleep.

Keep detergent in a water or gatorade bottle. Nothing compared to the struggle of lugging my laundry basket down three flights of stairs, getting the last open machine, and then realizing the detergent was upstairs. I wish I had thought sooner of keeping detergent in a bottle in my laundry basket, so that I’d never forget it and the load wouldn’t be as heavy.

Proofread your papers backwards to catch mistakes. When you read normally, your brain auto-corrects certain words and phrases, meaning you might miss some mistakes. Read it backwards to avoid that. Or, put your paper into Google Translate and have it read your paper aloud to catch any issues.

Get to know your professors. Go to your professor’s office hours, seriously. I’ve gotten several letters of recommendations from several different professors, some of whom have gotten me opportunities to study abroad, get a job, or get access to certain people. They probably wouldn’t have done so if I hadn’t made the first effort. 

These are just a few of the things I’ve picked up during my time in college. What are some of your tips to stay motivated and productive?