Book Review: “How To Win At College”

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How to Win at College is a quirky little book that combines humor and practical knowledge through 75 tips on how to succeed in the college setting. Each tip has a short descriptor that is typically 1-3 pages long. All of the tips in the book have been garnered from actual students, and every tip is useful.

Some tips include:

  • Don’t do all of your reading.
  • Make your bed every single day.
  • Never nap.
  • Decorate your room.
  • Make friends your #1 priority.
  • Attend political rallies.
  • “Don’t have no regrets.”

Through these tips and many, many more, this book does a phenomenal job at teaching readers how to not only succeed, but thrive while getting through college.

 

*written by Donny Turner

Top 5 Engineering Databases

 

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Engineering is a fast-paced discipline with constant updates to technology, projects, and collaborations. Stay updated on the latest in the engineering world with these databases.

IEEE Xplore Digital Library: IEEE, pronounced “Eye-triple-E”, stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Access about 150 periodicals from IEEE, the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology. Union’s journal package is a subset of the full IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

ScienceDirect: ScienceDirect is a leading full-text scientific database offering journal articles and book chapters from more than 2,500 peer-reviewed journals and more than 11,000 books. There are currently more than 9.5 million articles/chapters, a content base that is growing at a rate of almost 0.5 million additions per year.

American Institute of Physics Online Journals: A collection for Mechanical Engineering and Physics.

Scitation: Scitation is a leading online publishing platform for science and technology content, serving a broad customer base with a wide array of features and services. We host over two million articles in fields that include physics, chemistry geosciences, engineering, acoustics and more.

General Science Collection (Gale): With the General Science Collection, researchers can stay current with the latest scientific developments in particle physics, advanced mathematics, nanotechnology, geology and hundreds of other areas. Updated daily, the General Science Collection includes more than 1.6 million articles.

 

Featured Book: “Everybody Writes”

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Because the written word is so ubiquitous in the social media age, good writing is hard to find and yet more important than ever. It’s easy to lose someone’s attention in all of the noise- but you don’t want to do that when you’re writing for your job! In Everybody Writes, content creator and marketer Ann Handley advises readers on how to make their writing simpler and smarter. Generally, Handley focuses on shorter pieces- articles, Tweets, etc.- but her suggestions can also be applied to other kinds of writing. This book encourages you to approach writing as a work out, something you do each day to make you better at it overall.

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Handley starts out by defining what “content” means and how we can publish better content. She then goes on to provide general writing tips, ideas for better productivity, and how to make a great “lead” in to your story. While the book is divided into 6 parts, it’s short and direct with its message.

For Handley, “show, don’t tell” is a major part of good content:

Good content- and good writing- doesn’t preach or hard sell. Instead, it shows how your product or service lives in the world, explaining in human terms how it adds value to people’s lives, eases troubles, shoulders burdens, and meets needs.

By thinking about your audience and writing for their needs, you can create worthy content for your job, business, or blog.

Everybody Writes is available in the library. If you’d like to check out other books on writing, try these:

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Cinderella Man”

Of all the archetypal character traits used in films, the “underdog” is most frequently used in sports films and biopics. I feel there is some kind of special connection we each share with people of humble origin or background who, through sheer determination and grit, go on to achieve greatness.  The interesting thing about underdogs who rise to be champions in the world of professional boxing is that one punch delivered from an upstart, a has-been, or a nobody can instantly elevate their career soaring to the top.

I feel Cinderella Man is a film that embodies just that. It was released in 2005 and directed by Ron Howard. Cinderella Man tells the harrowing true story of James J. Braddock. The film begins with James (played by Russel Crowe) having to give up boxing due to a broken right hand and a fairly unimpressive record. Soon after this, the United States finds itself gripped in the Great Depression. James grows depressed that he can’t provide more for his wife and children due to his injuries. He takes up part time work as a longshoreman yet his work isn’t steady. James is ashamed when forced to ask for charity and government assisted welfare. His wife, Mae Braddock (played by Rene Zellweger), is worried what will happen if James takes up boxing again. She fears he could be killed and leave her a widow left to raise her children alone.

However, fate steps in when James’s longtime former couch and friend Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) shows up with an offer for James to participate in a last minute fight.  With no alternatives and the fear of being unable to feed his family, James agrees and, to everyone’s surprise, he knocks out the # 2 contender in the world. This shakes up the boxing world, and James Braddock is soon thought of as an inspiring hero to the working class. He is given the nickname “Cinderella Man” by a local sports writer.

As James continues to win and progress it becomes clear that he will have the opportunity to face off against the heavy weight champion of the world, Max Baer (played by Craig Bierko). Baer is feared throughout the boxing world for having killed his last two opponents. But James Braddock is undeterred, much to the horror of his wife Mae. As the fight approaches, he is a 10-1 underdog against the world champion. The film then reaches its fever pitch climax as the whole city of New York listens in on the radio as the two battle it out in Madison Square Garden.

This is a great film and I always find myself watching it whenever I find it on television. Luckily, Cinderella Man is available at the Union University Library for rent. It is rated PG-13 for violence related to boxing and some mild language.

Book Review: “Norwegian Wood”

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Despite your best efforts, people are going to be hurt when it’s time for them to be hurt. Life is like that.

Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood debuted in 1987 with the original title “Noruwei no Mori” or  ノルウェイの森. The tie-in to The Beatles’ song of the same name is immediately obvious, and while the book is not specifically about music, the different songs that pop up throughout the story shape the setting.

Norwegian Wood takes place in 1960s Tokyo, where civil unrest and government protests are daily occurrences at the main character’s college. Toru is a new college student who’s not really sure what he’s doing with his literature/drama degree. When a girl from Toru’s past, Naoko reappears, Toru must come to terms with their mutual friend’s death. Naoko’s struggles with mental illness create conflict in their growing relationship, and Toru tries desperately to be close to her in any way he can while at the same time noticing another girl- one who’s much more available- Midori.

So, where does the music come in? Well, as it is mentioned early on and several times throughout the story, Naoko’s favorite song is “Norwegian Wood.” She likes several other Beatles songs (“Michelle,” “The Fool on the Hill,” “Julia”) and her roommate plays these songs for Naoko on her guitar. Toru can really only play one song on guitar (“Up On The Roof” by The Drifters), but at least he tries!

The song “Norwegian Wood” is played at key points throughout the story. An older Toru begins his tale by reflecting on his relationship with Naoko- every time he hears “Norwegian Wood” in a public place, he still thinks of her. Naoko’s roommate, Reiko, plays the song for Naoko while they are living in a sanatorium; Reiko also plays the song after a major event toward the end of the book.

Reiko gave her fingers a good flexing and then played “Norwegian Wood.” Again she played with real feeling, but never allowed it to become sentimental . . . “That song can make me so sad,” said Naoko. “I don’t know, I guess I imagine myself wandering into a deep wood. I’m all alone and it’s cold and dark, and nobody comes to save me.”

The song is a constant reminder of relationships, sadness, wistfulness, and the 60s- all major themes of Norwegian Wood. It’s an introspective novel, as the main characters are constantly figuring themselves out, but it’s also relatable to a wider audience with its song cues. If you grew up in the 60s, the politics discussed and the way dating works in Norwegian Wood may be familiar to you, just as it is to the older Toru looking back. If you didn’t grow up in the 60s, then let the nostalgia of The Beatles take you to a time you’ve never experienced.

While Norwegian Wood is not available at the library, you can request to receive it through Interlibrary Loan. You can also read 1Q84 and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, both by the same author.

 

Content note: This book contains some explicit scenes, dark themes, and language.

*Quotes taken from Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

**Post originally published (with a few edits) here.

How To Reserve The Recording Studio

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The library’s recording studio, with seating for five, is a space that will allow current Union students, faculty, and staff the ability to make audio recordings. The studio is lined with sound-dampening acoustic treatment and contains professional audio equipment for the user to make high quality sound recordings. Possible uses for the studio include the recording of voice-overs, narrations, podcasts, tutorials, and the digitizing of analog media.
*Please note, this is not a live music recording studio and, therefore, musical instrument recording and singing recording are prohibited.*
The studio is available to all current Union students, faculty, and staff on a reservation only basis and will be open Monday-Thursdays 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., Fridays 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Saturdays Noon-4:00 p.m., and closed on Sundays. The patron should have a basic working knowledge of audio equipment and editing software and must comply with Copyright law.

FAQ

  • Who can use the studio? All current Union students, faculty, and staff.
  • Are reservations required? Yes. Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance. NO WALK-INS ARE ALLOWED. Using the Room Reservation System, located on the library’s home page, a patron can make reservations by clicking the Recording Studio box.
  • How long can the studio be reserved? The studio can be reserved for two one-hour time blocks per day. A time block can be reserved for back-to-back use or reserved to use at two separate times during a given day. Either way, a patron can reserve the studio for a total of two hours per day.
  • What are the studio’s hours?
    • Monday-Thursday 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
    • Friday 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
    • Saturday Noon-4:00 p.m.
    • Closed on Sundays.
  • How many microphones and seats does the studio have? The studio has three microphones and five seats.
  • Does the studio allow for video recording? No, the studio is only outfitted for audio recording. However, a patron can do screen capture recording and editing in the studio using the available Camtasia Studio software.
  • Does the studio allow for live music recording? No. Given the nature and size of the studio, and the library environment in which it is housed, neither musical instrument nor singing recording is practical and, therefore, not allowed.
  • What type of computer does the studio use? The studio uses a Lenova all-in-one computer running Windows 7.
  • What type of audio recording software does the studio use? Audacity and Adobe Audition are both installed on the recording studio’s computer.
  • What about video editing software? The studio computer does not have video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas, etc. installed. However, Camtasia Studio, a screen capture recording and editing program, is available.
  • What type of equipment does the studio offer?
    • Mixer Board: Behringer XENYX QX1222USB
    • Microphones (3): Shure SM7B
    • Microphone Boom Mounts (3): Heil Sound PL2T
    • Speakers: Fostex PMO.4n
    • CD/Cassette Player: Tascam CD-A550 MKII
    • Turntable:audio-technica AT-LP60
    • Headphones (3):Sennheiser HD201
    • Headphone Amp: Behringer Mini Amp AMP800
    • Acoustic Treatment: Auralex
  • Is food or drink allowed in the studio? Food is not allowed; however, water (and water only) is permissible as long as it’s in a covered container.
  • Will someone from the library be available to assist in the recording process? Yes, someone from the library will be available to help the patron get going and offer limited assistance thereafter. However, the patron should have a basic knowledge of audio equipment and software and be prepared to produce his/her own project.
  • What storage device is recommended to save the finished audio project? A USB drive.
  • Can a patron’s audio project be saved to the studio’s computer? No, a patron’s audio project should never be saved to the studio computer. The patron should always save his/her project to a USB drive or a cloud service.
  • Can a library studio patron make digital files of analog media? Yes, digitization of analog sources is possible. It is up to the user to confirm that the reproduction complies with copyright law.
  • Can the library studio make CD or DVD copies? Like many of the computers on campus, the computer in the studio is equipped to burn an individual CD or DVD.

 

You can reserve the Recording Studio ahead of time via our website. Click here to get started!

Contact Paul Sorrell at psorrell@uu.edu if you have any Recording Studio questions.

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “I, Tonya”

In the field of women’s figure skating, the name Tonya Harding will undoubtedly remain the most controversial one. Her story and notoriety continue to draw a wide range of emotional views on her legacy.  Some find her utterly contemptuous and unworthy of the annals of U.S Women’s Figure Skating history. Others view her career as a tragic fall from grace. Many have come to feel that Tonya’s skill and elegance in skating far outshined the stigma of her personal flaws, social class, rough upbringing, and poor life choices that inevitably led to her down fall.

I, Tonya premiered in 2017 set as a biopic drama and dark comedy. The film is based on a number of interviews of those involved throughout Tonya’s life and takes a narrative/mockumentary approach that constantly breaks the fourth wall. The film explicitly states at the beginning that the following dialogues and interviews are unreliable, thus leaving the audience to determine the truth of Tonya Harding’s story.

The film begins with a young four-year old Tonya being enrolled into a skating class by her mother LaVona Golden (played by Allison Janney). The portrayal of LaVona Golden would go on to earn Allison Janney an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in this role. I must take a moment to say that her acting is amazing in this film as she plays arguably the most detestable, foul-mouthed, cold, cruel, irredeemably loathsome woman to ever appear on film. Next we are introduced to Tonya’s coach, Diane Rawlinson, played by Julianne Nicholson. Diane is hesitant to take on training Tonya because she is so young but sees promise in the young girl due to her dedication and skill.

We see throughout Tonya’s childhood and teenage years that she suffers from non-stop verbal and physical abuse from her mother, who rationalizes that it will make her a better skater. The teenage and adult Tonya is played by Margot Robbie, and I feel this is her best performance to date. Despite her tragic upbringing, Tonya’s skill is unmatched and she becomes one of the top female figure skaters in the country; however, she is constantly denied a top prize, first place finish. Tonya blames this on her “white trash background” and her inability and unwillingness to act the part of a debutante on and off the ice.

One day while practicing, Tonya meets Jeff Gillooly (played by Sebastian Stan). Tonya and Jeff begin dating and are soon married. Their relationship is almost instantly toxic as Jeff is very physically abusive to Tonya and their marriage grows strained and dysfunctional at best.  Tonya’s career improves and she gains notoriety as she become the first U.S female skater to land the Triple Axel in competition.  It seems if she will become an Olympic champion, but fate steps in and she fails in the 1992 Winter Olympics. Defeated and depressed, Tonya thinks her days of skating are over, but her former coach Diane returns hoping that she will get in shape and compete in the 1994 Winter Olympics.  This brings about the “incident” to which Tonya’s lasting infamy is attributed.

Leading up to the games, Tonya is tied in skill next to her rival Nancy Kerrigan. Noticing this, Jeff enlists the help of his friend Shawn Eckardt (played by Paul Walter Hauser). Shawn is a moronic individual who styles himself as “Tonya’s bodyguard” and brags about being a counter-terrorist expert. Jeff asks Shawn to send out a death threat against Nancy Kerrigan in order to keep her from preforming in the Winter Olympics. Shawn recruits a couple of small-time crooks even dumber than him to carry out “the mission” as he calls it and it goes downhill from there. I feel the film from this point portrays the events leading up to the “incident” in a faithful way showing the numerous contradictory elements of who knew what and who was responsible.  The dramatic ending, the indictments and the final perspectives are as thought provoking as they are tragic.

Margot Robbie’s performance in this film is superb, and she was nominated for Best Actress. She seamlessly transitions from an aged, bitter narrator to a young, sympathetic protagonist who can’t catch a break in life. Tonya Harding will always remain a controversial character in the history of U.S Women’s Figure skating, but I do feel that this film did its best to humanize her and help us understand the full scope of the situation and those involved.

I, Tonya is available at the Union University Library. Please note it is rated R for intense language throughout, violence and some sexual situations.

 

 

 

Book Review: “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is cute, relatable, and touching.

I’m a nonfiction person- I like true crime, journalism, and feminist books- but this young adult novel was a nice change of pace for my reading list. For starters, the book is set on a college campus in 2011. The main character, Cath, is getting used to college as a freshman. Maybe it’s because I also came to college in 2011 that I felt a connection to the story. Or maybe it was the references to how Cath and her twin sister, Wren, remembered 9/11 happening when they were in elementary school. That’s a sad thing to relate to, but it’s also a unifying experience that everyone of a certain age has. I still feel shocked when one of my student workers tells me that they don’t remember 9/11, or (gasp) they weren’t even born yet! They don’t remember Y2K either- which, if you don’t know how important that was, here’s an example: my husband’s family of 11 stockpiled food and supplies for months leading up to Y2K, only for nothing to really happen. There’s nothing wrong with not remembering 9/11 or Y2K, though. It just makes me feel old.

Anyway, back to Fangirl. So Cath and Wren go to college, and Wren wants time away from Cath. College is scary for Cath, who struggles with anxiety, but she manages to make a small cast of interesting friends. One of these friends turns out to be a love interest for Cath, and their romance is pretty cute. They’re very different in personality and interests, but they both put a lot of effort in their relationship, which is heartwarming to read about. Plus, this character brings out the best in Cath, who can often withdraw when she really needs to be asking for help.

Another major point in the book includes Cath coming into her own as a writer. She excels at fanfiction writing- in fact, she’s writing a really long and Internet-famous piece about Simon Snow (who is basically this world’s Harry Potter). However, Cath learns in her Fiction Writing class that she may need to branch out and create her own characters.

Fangirl also has brief but powerful descriptions of mental illness and, thankfully, getting the help the characters need. Cath’s family has trouble coming to terms with the reappearance of Cath’s distant mother, Cath’s father struggles with manic/depressive episodes, and Wren has to face up to an alcohol addiction. Still, in all of the turmoil, the characters make progress in their treatments and with their relationships. It’s encouraging to read about mental illness in a real way- it’s hard, it affects others in your life, but there is also help for those who need it.

I’d recommend Fangirl to any freshman who’s still new to college, growing up, and figuring out your relationships (with family, friends, or significant others). I’d also recommend it to people who have graduated already and want to take a look back at how things used to be. It’s nostalgic without being overwhelming. Added bonus: if you love Harry Potter, you will definitely relate to Cath’s Simon Snow obsession.

 

You can check out Fangirl from the library here.

 

Content note: Fangirl contains some suggestive scenes and language.

5 Tips For Surviving Severe Weather

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Chances are that if you’re a student at Union University, you’ve had the unpleasant experience of dealing with the threats posed by severe weather. Union’s unique location near what is now coined “Dixie Alley” or “The New Tornado Alley” puts it in the threat zone for strong storms more frequently than most other places in America. Each year a variety of weather hazards impact campus, none more dangerous, however, than those that include the threat for tornadoes. Knowing how to properly respond to these threats is an important part of living at Union, and one that every student should take seriously. In order to help you know more about these threats and make your life less stressful when they occur, I have compiled a list of helpful weather tips for next time stormy weather impacts campus.

 

Know what to expect, but don’t freak out –

Most severe weather at Union is advertised at least a day or so in advance. Have a method for being informed on these matters. Follow a local meteorologist on social media, be friends with Union’s own weather geek (that’s me), or have some other way to check into local/reliable sources. Weather apps can be great products for day to day weather forecasts but are not well suited for detailing severe weather threats. Also remember that a forecast is just that, a prediction. It is not designed to cause fear, but to provide you with the opportunity to plan ahead and make informed decisions.

 

Know the terminology –

What is the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch? This is one of the severe weather questions I get asked the most. A tornado watch is issued to alert people to the possibility of a tornado developing in your area. At this point, a tornado has not been seen but the conditions are very favorable for tornadoes to occur at any moment. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states, and is often in effect for many hours.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.

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Know what to do –

As Union students, this has been drilled into our brains from day one. In the event of a tornado warning, we are told to take shelter in the bathrooms of a lower floor dorm. If you are in the library, the first floor bathrooms are where you take shelter.

However, there are situations where this is obviously not an option. One of the most dangerous places to be during a tornado is on the road. If a tornado warning is issued while you are driving, the best option is to pull into the nearest public building and seek shelter in a restroom. Small interior rooms in sturdy buildings are ideal, but don’t spend too long trying to find the perfect location and risk being caught outside.

 

Don’t become complacent –

It’s easy to do. Union experiences an average of two tornado warnings per year, a large majority of which are never actually accompanied by a tornado. This is complicated even further by an alert system that is initiated by warnings which may not even affect campus (but simply clip a portion of Madison county). Despite attempts by the NWS to move away from county based warnings through the use of polygons, this has yet to become incorporated into many local warning systems (such as tornado sirens or UU alerts). Such a situation took place earlier this year when a tornado warning more than 14 miles south of campus initiated UU and city alert systems, despite the storm never posing a threat to the University (see image).

 

As a result of such inconsistencies, I have observed the tendency of Union students to react nonchalantly to many warnings. While it may seem that most are unwarranted, playing the odds is a very dangerous game. There may be times when a tornado warning is issued and you have very little time to respond. Unless you have access to information indicating otherwise, it is wise to treat every warning as though a tornado is imminent.

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Get a good radar app –

I believe everyone has the capacity to understand detailed radar data. Unfortunately the radar imagery provided to you by most weather apps is low quality data that often lags and is highly misleading. Being able to observe storms ahead of time on radar, along with accompanying warnings can be a huge help as you anticipate severe weather. One of the best sources of detailed radar and storm information is the user friendly RadarScope™ application. I highly recommend this product to anyone who wants access to high resolution radar data and warnings. This product is available on the the iOS and Android app stores. You can also check out their website here: www.radarscope.app.

*written by Grant Wise. You can follow his Union weather updates on his Facebook page!

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “District 9”

In 2009, director Neill Blomkamp earned his claim to fame and established himself as an accomplished writer and director with his hit film District 9. What makes this sci-fi action film stand out from an overcrowded genre is its unique setting and thought-provoking real world themes of the dangers of xenophobia and the desperation of refugees.

District 9 begins as a quasi-found footage documentary that also shifts to standard narrative approach. The film describes the events of first contact between humans and an alien race. These aren’t the pretty and majestic Na’vi people from Avatar nor are they  like the enlightened Vulcan Captain Spock from Star Trek. The District 9 aliens are large, insectoid organisms that resemble a cross between a shrimp and a cockroach (the name “prawn” is used in the film as a slur). They arrive on earth in 1982 and end up in Johannesburg, South Africa. They are quickly rounded up and quarantined in a makeshift camp. The aliens appear to be quite dim-witted and unable to fix their broken ship. As the government struggles to find resources necessary for the housing for the ever-growing population of aliens, they turn to The MNU “Multinational United.”  The MNU is a powerful para-military defense corporation that has the ulterior motives of adapting and making use of the alien’s weapon technology (of which only the aliens themselves can use).

The film follows our main protagonist Wikus van de Merwe (played by Sharlto Copley).  Wikus works for the department of Alien Affairs and is charged with leading MNU security forces in relocating the Aliens. While serving an eviction notice on the alien known as Christopher Johnson, Wikus is unknowingly infected with an organic chemical substance that slowly begins to change him into one of the aliens. Christopher is unlike the other aliens as he possesses a high intelligence and is lperhaps the last of a higher cast order of his species. Christopher has hopes of restarting the mothership and saving his son and people. Wikus and Christopher team up with the promise of curing Wikus and fleeing Earth. The MNU begin hunting Wikus as he is the key to adapting alien technology for human use. The MNU sends a sadistic mercenary, Colonel Koobus Venter (played by David James), to capture Wikus. Then it’s a race against time with ever increasing stakes.

District 9 is an ambitious and awe-inspiring film. It is an allegory for the problems faced in the world from the plight of migrants and refugees to the dangers of unaccountable global corporations. It also hearkens back to the horrible aspects of apartheid in South Africa. District 9 would go on to be nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture.

 

*This film is rated R for violence and language. It is available at the Union University Library.

 

**Written by Matthew Beyer.