5 Financial Tips For College Students

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Recently, I have taken the Personal Financial Management class here at Union, and as I am about to graduate in the spring, I have begun to think more and more about more and more of my own finances. Here are 5 tips in personal finance:

1. Pay in cash.

If you can, try to pay for things up front and in cash. Whether it is a new phone or a new car, try to use cash. As college students, we probably already have thousands of dollars of debt anyways. We really don’t need more.

2. Pay off your student debt ASAP.

Becoming a college student is one of the best decisions you can make in your life. It can also be one of the most expensive. Once you graduate, it is important that you live meagerly and attempt to pay off your debt in a timely manner. The longer you wait, the more debt will accrue.

3. Save, save, save.

Once you start paying off your debts, you can start allocating your money to other things. One important tip I have learned is that you can just start saving the money that you were already using to pay off your debts. You already know how to live without that money, so maybe you can keep living that way.

4. Start investing early.

One of the classic and most important financial tips is investing early. Putting money into a 401K or mutual funds is critical. Money you invest now will grow exponentially, and being financially aware now can legitimately help you to become a millionaire by the time you retire.

5. Give to charity and to the Church.

This is something you should already be doing. God has told us that we should give a portion of our earnings to God. This is the most important tip I can give you. Give, not only because God will reward you, but because we are called to.

 

There are many other tips out there! Learning how to create a budget, creating an emergency fund, treating yourself every now and then, having small side jobs, and writing down your goals are just a few others. More than anything, the most important thing is to be responsible with the resources given to you!

 

*written by Donny Turner

What Is Being An Intern Really Like?

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Last semester, I wrote a blog post on how to get an internship. Over the summer, I was given a chance to work as an intern at The General Insurance in Nashville, TN. While there I learned how insurance companies determine how much insurance should actually cost for different people in different areas across the country. This was my experience:

Working as an intern in a formal office was both very similar to and extremely different from what I expected. There is a LOT of sitting. I had to be extremely intentional about getting up and walking around after work and during breaks. You definitely have to be careful about exercise when working at an office job.

I learned that the expectations were high. I hit the ground running at this internship; they immediately gave me multiple big assignments that would actually impact the team I was working for. This was one of the first times I felt like I was doing work that was genuinely fulfilling. This work was also genuinely terrifying. I had to present the work I did to the heads of our department and get critiqued on the work I had done. I loved getting to present and have positive feedback loops, but this part of the job was one of the more stressful aspects. I definitely learned more public speaking and explanation skills.

There is also significantly more downtime than I expected. Sure, there was plenty of work for me to be done, but quite a bit of it was work that I finished well ahead of deadlines, and once that is finished, you are mostly waiting for another work assignment. This aspect of the job was both wonderful and awful. On one hand it was great to get paid while doing minimal work, but also the downtime was excruciating.

One of my favorite parts of the internship was getting to meet the people. I was able to meet people from all different backgrounds from all across the country. During our internship, some of the other interns and I were given the opportunity to take a week and go to Madison, Wisconsin, the place where the main headquarters of the company are located. We were able to give a presentation on our experience on the internship and pitch an opportunity for a charity. Over the course of this week, I was able to grow extremely close with my fellow interns. We still keep up even now. I am really hoping we get to cross paths again in the future.

I think one of the best parts of an internship, besides gaining excellent experience and the people you get to meet, is getting to learn if this is something you actually want to be doing for the rest of your life. You get the opportunity to work alongside people that have been doing their job for years. You get to learn their insights and passions. Learning about a specific job and actually doing the work are two entirely different things. I went into this summer trying to decide if this was something I would want to do or if I should go to grad school. I am eternally thankful for this internship, and now I know that this kind of job is something that I would love to do after my college career has ended.

Getting an internship is a fantastic opportunity, and if you ever get the chance, you should absolutely take it!

 

*written by Donny Turner

Harry Potter: Expectations and Isolation

harry potter

In this blog post, student assistant Donny Turner recounts his experience of reading the Harry Potter series for the very first time!

Warning: This Blog Post Contains Spoilers

When I was growing up, parents were skeptical about the Harry Potter fad. Like many Christian kids, I was not allowed to read the Harry Potter books until I was 13. As I grew up, the series became something of an urban myth to me- the taboo of something I felt like I was not supposed to have. In my head, the stories became something of a legend, and I kept building up how amazing the books were going to be once I turned 13. By the time I turned 13, my expectations towards the books became something that no book, no matter how good it may be, could match. So, when I ended up starting to read the first book, I was admittedly underwhelmed. The book was great, but when I found out that Harry Potter was an adventure story about a group of friends trying to save the world and it just happened to include magic, I was almost disappointed. I never even finished the first book, and for years I had no desire to read the other Harry Potter books. Throughout all of this I felt extremely out of touch and alone with a lot of my friends who had been obsessed with and read every single Harry Potter book.

Years later, in my sophomore year of high school, I stumbled upon the entire Harry Potter series in a used book store. I was able to purchase the collection for less than $50, and I was really excited about getting all of the books. I decided to attempt to read the series again, and for a while, it worked. I read through the first 3 books in less than a month, but then I stalled about 200 pages into the 4th book. For whatever reason, I just could not get past the Quidditch World Cup. I would read the first 200 pages, get busy and it would get set aside for a few months, and I would have to reread those pages again. Another few years would pass before I was able to get past those first 200 pages. Eventually, I began to read less in general; it just never took a precedence in my life.

When I first began college, I once again experienced a feeling of isolation again. I was at a new school full of new people that I had to meet. Often times I felt like an outsider at school; I had a very difficult time finding my niche. For the most part, I felt isolated and outside of the whole community. I remember thinking back to how I felt when my friends were talking about the Harry Potter books. Everyone had these shared ideas, and I couldn’t latch on to them. I felt detached from others. Eventually, I did find my groove, but those first few months of school were difficult.

harry potter

 

In my junior year of college, during the month of January, I found myself having to drive 4-10 hours a week and listening to music in the car was getting old; I needed something new. I realized I was able to check out the 4th Harry Potter book from the library (here), and I decided to listen to it on my long drives. While on the road, I was able to get about 400 pages into the book, and then I decided I had to start reading it in print. I flew through the last 400 pages in less than a month, and I immediately picked up the 5th book.

The 5th book is quite a bit darker than all the others. The tone is more somber and there is an edge to everything that is going on. Voldemort, the main antagonist, is on the rise, and it seems like something bad could happen at any moment. Throughout all of this Harry beings to feel more and more isolated. None of the awful things that are happening seem to be happening to anyone else. Harry begins to feel more depressed and more alone as time goes by. To top it all off there is a new professor at the school that is the literal worst. She specifically targets Harry, and she actively attempts to make Harry’s life worse. Harry feels utterly alone. The story focuses around this idea of loneliness and builds more and more that Harry has to learn to rely on his close friends. He must realize that he is not, nor was he ever, alone in any of what is happening to him. At the end of this book, the closest thing Harry has to a father figure, Sirius, dies. Once again, Harry experiences those feelings of expectations being destroyed and a great feeling of isolation. Once again I was able to relate very strongly to the character.

The 6th book of the story has some lighter tones, but ultimately ends on a very dark note. Harry is growing older, and Voldemort continues to gain more and more power. He is learning more about the history of who Voldemort is, and through these lessons, Harry learns of some of the humanity of Voldemort. The main antagonist is still extremely evil, but through multiple backstories, we are able to better understand Voldemort as a character. He is revealed to be more human, although definitely a very sociopathic human. Harry’s expectations of him change as a whole. He understands that he has love while Voldemort never will. Also, Harry’s expectations shift slightly towards the end of the story towards Draco Malfoy. Throughout the entirety of the series, Draco has been considered the antithesis of Harry Potter, and Harry absolutely suspects him of malicious intent at different times throughout the story. As the story is nearing its ending, Draco, ordered by Voldemort, matches up against a very weak Dumbledore and is poised to kill him. Yet, he cannot do it. There is a flicker of humanity in Draco, and he is unable to murder his headmaster. Harry, watching silently in the room notices this. Harry’s perception of Draco has changed in this moment, if only slightly. Where previously Harry had not seen any humanity there was some.

At this point, I was totally hooked on the books. Much of my free time was spent reading on and talking about the books. I can now say with certainty that the 6th book is my favorite, and I would tell anyone who would listen about it. Unfortunately for me, the fad of Harry Potter, while still quite prevalent, has definitely faded. I was dealing with isolation once again. Most people don’t want to listen to someone talk about how much they adore Harry Potter. Nevertheless, I persisted on towards the 7th book.

If you’ve ever read the 7th Harry Potter book, you know how different this book is compared to the rest of the series. The protagonists are no longer at Hogwarts, everything around them seems to be falling apart, and many of the main characters that you have grown to love end up being killed off. The book is gut-wrenching, and it seems like every chapter has a new main character dying. With each death, I felt more and more sadness and isolation. Throughout this book, the main characters become more and more removed from everyone as they are trying to find and destroy the horcuxes, the items that contain Voldemorts soul and ensure his survival.  At one point, Ron leaves Harry and Hermione, leaving them even more alone than they already were. Without Dumbledore, and with wicked stories of what Dumbledore has done, the main characters feel utterly alone.

As the story nears the end, however, the main characters learn of all the different people that are still on their side, supporting them. They are encouraged, and they are able to find and destroy almost every single horcrux. It is only when Harry returns to Hogwarts at the end of the story that he realizes he must sacrifice himself to save everyone. This singular moment, the moment he realizes that he must die in order for everyone to live, is a pivotal moment. This is when he reaches his most isolated, but he stays brave and dives deep into the darkness. He sacrifices himself, and through his sacrifice he is able to destroy the last bit of Voldemort that exists. Through his sacrifice, he is given the option to live again. In the moments proceeding his death, he is given a choice. He can decide to stay dead, and go on to the afterlife or whatever happens to witches and wizards after they die, or he can come back to a life that has caused him suffering and pain. He has to choose to make another sacrifice, and once again he makes the choice to come back and fight one last time to save his closest friends.

Despite his isolation and fear, Harry Potter is able to be strong and courageous when he needs to be. Sure, he absolutely makes a lot of really dumb decisions throughout the books that would have saved everyone a lot of time and pain, but I think that is what makes these books so special. Many of the characters are flawed, and even some of the main characters that seem downright evil throughout the entire series have redemption arcs. The Malfoys end up regretting their actions, and, most famously, we get to see and understand why Snape made the decisions that he did. We get to understand his love for Harry’s mother and how isolated and alone he has been throughout most of his life. Finally, the reader is able to understand why Snape acts how he does, and that he was actually acting out of love this entire time. He clings to one aspect of his life that will keep him from being completely isolated, and as a result, dies for an extremely heroic cause.

Every single Harry Potter book has some themes of isolation, and dealing with feeling misplaced or alone in the world. Reading these in the first years of college or whenever you are in a new place in your life can be especially helpful because often people feel out of place and alone at times of change. These books can help give one perspective about isolation, and they can show how one can emerge from that isolation and be a much stronger and better human being.

Plus, the books themselves are fantastic stories, with deep characters. These books are probably the most famous series of the 21st century. They personally have helped me get through a challenging time in my life. Harry Potter is absolutely incredible and 100% lives up to the hype, and if you have not read them yet, there is no time like the present.

 

*written by Donny Turner

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

5 Tips For Landing An Internship

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Often times, getting your first big job out of college requires some kind of prior experience. This can be difficult to get as you have been in college the last four years dedicating your time to learning about the thing you want to do for the rest of your life. One good way to overcome this experience barrier is through getting into an internship for your desired place of work; however, internships can be extremely competitive. This time of year is when more and more people are preparing to apply for internships. Here are 5 tips to get ready for the internship that is best for you.

  1. Build a Resume: Having a well-structured resume is crucial to applying for an internship. Keeping your information clear, concise, and to the point is extremely important. The Vocatio Center on campus is excellent at helping create the perfect resume for you.
  2. Create a Cover Letter: Creating a letter specifically to describe why you are the best person for a specific job will give you a huge competitive edge over the other candidates. This one is often underutilized. Most people I have personally talked to have never created a cover letter in their life. Again, the Vocatio Center can help you create the best possible cover letter.
  3. Do Your Research: Make sure you know a lot about the places you are applying to. Does the company seem like a place you would want to spend 40 hours a week? Do past employees enjoy the work environment? If the internship is paid, what kind of pay has this company offered in the past? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you make the decision that is best for you!
  4. Apply to Multiple Places: Just like for college, it is a good idea to apply for a lot of different places. There is a chance you will not get your number one choice, so it is a good idea to apply for multiple places, just to be sure.
  5. Be Fully Prepared for the Interview: Once you get asked to come in for an interview, be sure you are completely ready. Have talking points prepared for any possible question they might throw at you. Don’t be afraid to talk yourself up! Being humble is good, just not always in an interview setting. Be sure to know a lot about the company, and be sure to explain how you can improve what they are doing there. Mock interviews to practice for the real thing are also offered at the Vocatio Center!

 

*written by Donny Turner

Donny’s Deductions: Super Smash Bros. & The Gender Barrier

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The library has books and resources on video games, too! Read Donny’s essay on what he’s learned about gender in the gaming community, and check out our eBooks on related subjects.

In competitive video gaming, there tends to be a gap between male and female competitors. In any professional team, one rarely sees a woman playing on a team or making it to the top of tournaments. This is quite surprising because women are scientifically better at quick decision making and hand-eye coordination. They should be represented better; however, the putting down of female gamers has caused women to feel unwelcome in most gaming communities. Hopefully, this is changing.

Super Smash Brothers, a two decade long fighting gaming series that has come out with 4 distinct titles (and a 5th coming out December 7th, 2018) focuses on popular characters fighting each other and has amassed a considerable following in the competitive scene. Smash Bros. Melee, the second game in the series, has the most dedicated followers, but the most recent one has brought in the most new players. For years, the Smash Bros. community faced similar problems that other gaming communities faced: segregation among genders. Often times, women would be looked down upon at tournaments or even made fun of simply because of their gender. More often than not, this dissuaded female competitors to participate in tournaments; they felt uncomfortable and harassed. Thankfully, this has been noticed recently and is being worked on.

The leaders in the competitive scene of Smash Brothers have worked hard to make sure everyone feels welcome. Some tournament organizers helped form Smash Sisters, a side event at tournaments specifically for women. This isn’t ideal, as the best situation would be for female players to just compete in the same tournaments as the male ones, but it is a stepping stone to getting to the right place, and many female competitors have noted that this has helped them feel more involved and accepted. The trend to fight sexism has also popped up greatly online.

On websites like Reddit and SmashBoards (a forum website dedicated to the competitive Smash Bros scene), many have started real discussion about how there must be more equality. In the most recent iteration of the game, there are many female characters. When deciding which characters are the best in the game, there has been no gender stereotypes. Female characters are placed just as high (or low) as other characters. The only determinant on the best characters is through merit, and their gender is not a factor. When character specific discussions have popped up, female character’s appearance is talked about more than the male characters. Thankfully, this discussion is focused primarily on the characters, and the sexualization of the female cast has dropped significantly over the last few years. If anyone starts to comment on the body of a female character in forums, others are more quick to rebuke them. There is no support for hypersexual discussion. This online focus has translated well into the real world.

Female competitors still face sexism at tournaments, but it has gotten better in the last few years. If any competitor is seen getting harassed, or if they ever feel uncomfortable, the harassing party is kicked out and often banned from tournaments. There is no tolerance for bad behavior. Also, when female players ask questions about certain aspects of the game, there is almost no condescending behavior towards the competitor. Their question is simply answered just like they would answer any other player. The gender barrier in the competitive gaming community still exists, but it is getting less and less prevalent. Through hard work from everyone in the community, this gap will, and should, disappear.

 

To read more on this subject, check out this eBook (available from the library)!

Female Fighters: Perceptions of Femininity in the Super Smash Bros. Community

2018 In Review

2018

The library blog gained several new, dedicated writers in 2018. We wrote about everything from new books to wrestling and all that falls between. Let’s take a look back at the best of the blog from this year!

 

Amount of Blog Views: 2,055

Top 10 Posts Of 2018:

  1. Top 5 Underrated Library Perks
  2. Donny’s Deductions: The History of Professional Bowling
  3. How To Reserve A Study Room
  4. How To Use The Library As A Guest
  5. How To Print In The Library (For UU Students & Faculty/Staff)
  6. New In Our Archives: “The Private Papers of John Jeter Hurt”
  7. Myth-Shattering Fun Facts
  8. Top 5 Education Databases
  9. How To Download eBooks To Read Offline
  10. A Brief History of Union University

 

*these had the most views and interaction for this year

 

Top 10 Blog Post Quotes From 2018 (In No Particular Order):

1. Bowling two-handed makes it easier to hook the ball, thus scoring higher games with less experience. This makes the sport more accessible and many more middle and high school bowlers are using this technique. Jason Belmonte has helped grow the sport more than just about any other professional bowler. – Donny Turner, “Donny’s Deductions: The History of Professional Bowling”

 

2. A wrestling match can tell a story unlike any sporting event can, and sometimes it can do this better than television shows. A good wrestling match, if done well, can be up to half an hour long. This is longer than many TV shows and in that time, with few words and technically one scene, two wrestlers can tell a story unlike any other. – Brennan Kress, “Book Reviews: ‘Headlocks and Dropkicks’ by Ted Kluck”

 

3. 1975: it can be argued that this is the year that the first true “summer movie” was born, Jaws. – Matthew Beyer, “Matthew’s Monday Movie: ‘Jaws'”

 

4. Human beings pride themselves on their extensive and diverse knowledge of the world, but sometimes information gets confused along the way. Misunderstandings, urban legends, and flat out lies can infiltrate what we believe is common knowledge. – Ruth Duncan, “Myth-Shattering Fun Facts”

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

5. Some afternoons you sit on the first floor of the library, bent over your Chemistry textbook, and hold up your eyelids because they stubbornly decide to close on you. “I can’t spend five dollars on a coffee this week. I’m broke!” you tell yourself. If you notice an acquaintance who’s in this situation, escort them into Modero and tell them to pick out a warm and caffeinated beverage – it’s on you. – Danielle Chalker, “Random Acts of Kindness Day”

 

6. Akage no An (Red Haired Anne) was introduced to Japan during the educational reforms of 1952. The series and its authorized prequel have both been adapted into anime, and two schools in Japan (the Anne Academy in Fukuoma and the School of Green Gables in Okayama) teach their students how to speak and behave as the admired character would. – Jordan Sellers, “Fun Facts You Might Not Know About Anne of Green Gables”

 

7. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve turned to nonfiction when I want to read something. Maybe I’m looking for advice, or maybe I just want to know how other people live, and think, and figure things out. To Shake the Sleeping Self is the perfect book to get inside someone else’s mind and feelings. Jenkins writes in a genuine, self-aware tone. He’s easy to relate to because he wonders about things we all do- who he is and who he will be in the future. – Olivia Chin, “Book Review: ‘To Shake the Sleeping Self'”

 

8. Are you an Anglophile? It’s okay, you can admit it. If you drink Earl Grey every morning, have the Union Jack hanging on your dorm room wall, or dream of going to grad school at Cambridge, you probably are. – Danielle Chalker, “Featured eBook: ‘The Cambridge Art Book'”

 

9. Reading can help increase empathy. By reading, especially fiction-reading, you increase your ability to empathize with others. If you can understand a character in a novel, you can better understand the people around you. – Brennan Kress, “On The Importance of Reading”

 

10. In the history of philosophy, it is important to learn about each philosopher’s predecessor, since many philosophers build off of what their mentor taught (or, interestingly, completely reject it). – Olivia Chin, “Featured Book: ‘A Short History of Modern Philosophy'”

 

Featured Writers:

Matthew Beyer

Danielle Chalker

Olivia Chin

Ruth Duncan

Brennan Kress

Jenny Manasco

Anna Poore

Jordan Sellers

Donny Turner

 

Featured eBook: “You Can Handle It: 10 Steps to Shift Stress From Problem to Possibility”

you can handle it

As the semester goes on, stress will inevitably continue to increase. Classes will get more difficult, nights will get longer, and sleep will be but a distant memory. In this time, it is important to be able to manage your stress in a healthy manner. You Can Handle It by Margaret Wehrenberg gives 10 steps on how to deal with an overabundance of stress.

  1. Breathe: She first talks about how just stopping to take a few deep breaths can help in almost any stressful situation. It is a great way to get your heart rate under control and calm down.
  2. Physically Relax: Being uptight and rigid while stressed can make the issue more prevalent. It can cause headaches, make your muscles sore, and, of course, give you more stress. Learning to physically relax will help ease tension and decrease stress.
  3. Be Assertive: Often times people who deal with a lot of stress also feel like they have to help other people with their problems. It is important to remember that your problems and the things you need to work on are just as important and need to take precedence.
  4. Manage Noise: Noise can be a huge stress inducer. Getting away from constant loud noises can be a great way to combat stress. Removing yourself from a noisy environment to a more peaceful one can be very helpful.
  5. Wait: Waiting can be boring. Waiting is too often seen as a monotonous activity that must be done with no real purpose; however, look at waiting as a positive opportunity. See it as a chance to escape from from the rush and business of life.
  6. Change Your Perspective: Monotony can cause stress. Dealing with the same things day in and day out can be exhausting and stressful. Changing your perspective of the every day things you deal with as new opportunities can help reduce stress.
  7. Eat!: In stressful periods of life, remembering to eat can be a chore, but not eating can be very bad for you and cause more unnecessary stress in your life. Always remember to eat some food throughout the day, even if it’s just an apple or a granola bar.
  8. Get Active: We have all heard that working out helps relieve stress, but staying active will also help you stay in control during stressful times. Physical fitness gives you the stamina you need to deal with stressful situations. Fitness also helps release built-up tension you may be dealing with.
  9. Achieve Inner Peace: Whether through religion or otherwise, finding ways to be content with yourself is vital. If you can’t be at peace with yourself and where you are in life, stress will follow you everywhere. A great way to be peaceful is to always be in the moment of where you are right now rather than worrying about things outside of your control.
  10. Play!: Taking a break from everything going on around you is vital to maintaining a healthy level of stress. Children get recess, but adults need it as well. Laughing and having fun outside of the things causing you stress will help you relax and recuperate.

 

With these tips, hopefully your stress levels will go down! Take some time to take care of yourself this semester.

 

* written by Donny Turner

 

Book Review: “Looking For Alaska” by John Green

looking for alaska

Over the past decade, John Green has been one of the most prominent figures in young adult books. He has written and co-written 6 books, and all of them have made it to the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list. His distinct writing style with young characters is seen throughout every single one of his books. John Green’s characters are typically sarcastic, romantic, and relatively pretentious. The books always focus around an ambiguous theme often relating to empathy or mental health issues. These ideas are seen in what may be his best work: Looking for Alaska.

Looking for Alaska tells the story of Miles, an introspective junior who is obsessed with the last words of famous people. He finds himself at a boarding school in Alabama, and while there, he meets two fascinating people: Colonel, his new roommate, and Alaska, an expressive, unpredictable, and emotional girl who seems larger than life. Alaska is obsessed with Simone Bolivar (His last words being “How am I ever to get out of this labyrinth”).  The labyrinth in this case is life and suffering, and that is what much of the book is about: figuring out how to get out of the labyrinth of suffering. The characters must learn how to understand the mental and physical issues that they all are dealing with, whether it is relationship problems, depression, or anxiety. A huge part of the book revolves around the relationship between Miles and Alaska.

The relationship that forms between Miles and Alaska builds the story, but this book is so much more than a romance. Alaska is dealing with heavy depression, and Miles feels  like an outsider, worrying about others’ opinions of him. The story follows them through their first semester until something tragic happens. The book changes from a cheery book about living at a boarding school (complete with pranks, copious amounts of school work, and drama) to something much darker. A new issue has arisen, and the main characters must deal with something much heavier than ever before. The majority of the second half of the book is about dealing with grief. The main characters have so many questions, and they don’t understand why bad things can happen to the people they are close to. This book tackles the great struggle of losing someone very near to you. It emphasizes how important it is to feel emotions.

This book is raw and real. Of course, the plot isn’t perfect; there are exaggerations, and many of the events would probably never happen in real life. I doubt many of the pranks in the story could ever work out the way they did, and many of the main characters are larger than life; however, the characters still feel real and personal. The struggles they face at 16 years old are issues many people at this age are dealing with. The book also stresses the importance of teenagers understanding that their issues are not minimal. Just look at one of my favorite quotes from Looking for Alaska:

When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.

This quote is so important for teenagers today. Often times, teens feel overshadowed by adults, and they feel like their issues are minimal due to the fact that there are worse things going on the world, but the issues those teens are dealing with are real. To think that teens are lesser simply because of their age is ignorant. Teens do have power, and they need not forget that.

This book is a fantastic story about grief and learning to keep going after hard events happen and how to grow from strife. Miles eventually learns the way out of the labyrinth.

 

Content warning: contains strong language, drug references, and other suggestive material.

Check it out here!

 

*written by Donny Turner

Donny’s Deductions: The History of Professional Bowling

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Donny Turner was awarded the Division II Mr. Bowling Award (as presented by the TSSAA) in 2016. He has been an avid bowler since his childhood, and he continues to bowl competitively when he’s not in class as a Union University math major.

When you think of bowling, you probably think of hanging out with some friends on a Friday night eating pizza and drinking Coke. It is laid back, fun, and totally relaxed. If it ever does get competitive, it is only in good fun and never terribly serious. The majority nowadays don’t even consider bowling to be a real sport. But this was not always the case. Bowling has had one of the most vibrant histories of any sport in the world!

The Golden Age:

Professional bowling, as it is known today, began in 1958. Before this, the only type of bowling that had been aired officially on television was jackpot bowling, a game where each bowler would try to bowl up to nine strikes and the winner would get $1000. The desire to start a professional bowling league that would be aired on TV was headed by Eddie Elias, a sports agent. During a 1958 American Bowling Congress tournament with 60 of the best bowlers, Elias proposed the idea of a Professional Bowling league. He convinced 33 of these bowlers to donate $50 each to start the organization. The league was incorporated.

The Professional Bowling Association (PBA) began in 1959 with 3 tournaments. Lou Campi won the first event and Dick Weber, a future Hall of Famer and acclaimed ambassador for the sport, won the other two events. The PBA tour slowly began growing; in 1960 there were 7 tournaments and then 16 in 1961.  In 1962 the league expanded greatly to 30 tournaments, a number that rivals the amount of tournaments in the modern era. Dick Weber would become the primary face of bowling in the inaugural years of the PBA as he won 10 of the first 23 events. Bowling was quickly becoming extremely popular.

Two bowling-based TV shows grew in popularity in the 1960s: Jackpot Bowling and Make That Spare, a show where bowlers would attempt to make difficult spares and earn money for each spare made. Both of these shows propelled the popularity of bowling greatly, and it was a major factor in getting the PBA to begin being aired live on ABC in 1965. Bowlers were beginning to make a ton of money. Through sponsorships from Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola, True Value Hardware, and Firestone Tire, the PBA was able to expand the both tour and funding.

In 1963, there was over $1,000,000 (over $7,000,000 today) in prize funds. The top bowler for that year, Harry Smith, made more money than the Major League Baseball MVP and the National Football League MVP combined. Then, in 1964, Don Carter, one of the greatest bowlers of all time, became the first athlete in any sport to receive a $1 million dollar endorsement deal. This was more than 200 times what professional golfer Arnold Palmer got with his endorsements and more than 100 times what football star Joe Namath earned. Carter also made well over $100,000 a year through bowling tournaments and other endorsements with Miller, Viceroys, and Wonder Bread. Being a professional bowler really was a good life.

The popularity in professional bowling also drastically increased the amount of recreational bowling across the United States. Throughout the 1960s, 12,000 new bowling centers were constructed and 4.6 million United States Bowling Congress members existed. Bowling was cool. Everyone, from kids to parents to grandparents, bowled, and everyone loved bowling.

A Quick Aside:

One interesting facet of bowling history is its ties with gangsters and the mafia. Professional bowlers would participate in “action bowling,” a high-stakes form of gambling in which bowlers faced off for thousands of dollars. The dark bowling alleys hidden in the boroughs of New York was where this was the most popular. Often times 50 lane bowling alleys would be bustling even at 1 am. Ernie Schlegel, a future PBA Hall of Famer, dominated this scene. He would go in purposefully smelling of alcohol to hustle other bowlers. They would bet incredible amounts of money, often times more than $10,000 per game. The stakes were incredibly high. Schlegel began doing action bowling when he was just 17. He left the bowling alley that first night with $2,000 knowing he could make a living doing this for the rest of his life; however, not everything about action bowling was so positive.

This world was lawless, and bowlers took advantage of this. People would rig the bowling balls to be weighted illegally to hook more and knock down more pins. This was not unlike gamblers using loaded dice; the gangsters betting on the games were not happy when they found out. They could become violent if the game did not go their way.

There was even an instance where a bowler faked a heart attack to get out of a game. Two bowlers facing off against each other had both bet on himself to lose the match. They were both intentionally trying to throw the match. There were also big guys with guns who had also bet on the game and backed the bowlers. Now, the bowler had a dilemma: he could either step up in the tenth frame to win the game and subsequently be shot by his backer for not throwing the game, or he could intentionally miss the spare and get shot by his opponent’s backer. He did the only logical thing at that point, he faked a heart attack to get out of having to decide. Despite everything, the bowlers look back on it fondly. Limongello, a prominent bowler at that time, said it really was “Good times. I wouldn’t give those days back for nothing.”

The Decline:

Throughout the 70s and early 80s, bowling continued to be extremely successful. Bowlers were treated like rock stars. Bowlers getting 1st place at tournaments still earned hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sponsorship deals were still extremely lucrative. The PBA Senior tour for bowlers over the age of 50 formed alongside the formation of the Professional Women’s Bowlers Association (PWBA). Bowling was thriving and it did not seem to be slowing down anytime soon; except, oddly, things began to slow down and slow down fast.

Professional Bowling began to lull in the late 80s and 90s. Bowling prize funds did not increase with inflation and the number of tournaments in the year began to decline from 30 a year to less than 20 a year. Sponsorships began to dry up, and the PBA began to regress greatly. In 2000, the entirety of bowling was purchased by former Microsoft executives Chris Peters, Rob Glaser, and Mike Slade for $5 million dollars, less than the price of a minor league baseball team. Peters aimed to revamp bowling and give the industry a new image. He created a new website for the PBA (pba.com), and he aimed to stream the qualify rounds for PBA tournaments on a website (xtrafram.tv.). This web-streaming service is one of the few bright spots in a dark time. This service is still offered today and quality and viewership has only steadily increased.

Despite growing efforts, and major publicity from a 2006 sports documentary, A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (a documentary on the 2002-2003 season that followed a few of the best bowlers in the word), bowling was not growing fast, and the downward spiraling economy was not helping. The PWBA folded in 2003; however, the women were subsequently allowed to enter PBA events, and in 2005, Liz Johnson, widely regarded as the best female bowler of all time, made a PBA television show. Regardless, things were not looking up, recreational bowling had declined by 40% in 10 years, and the brand of bowling had never been worse.

Bowling had begun to take on the image of being a “lazy man’s” game. The prestige of bowling had been lost. Bowling was the brunt of many jokes. Jim Gaffigan, a popular comedian, had an entire shtick that made fun of bowling. He commented on the laziness of bowlers saying, “If you’re out of shape and you’re bowling, you’re probably a professional bowler.” He also mentioned that bowling was low on this list of things people could do. He said: “Bowling is the activity you do after you’ve done everything else.” Granted, this is a comedy routine, but there is some truth to his words. The idea of going bowling did not have the prestige of going playing golf or the physical fortitude of playing tennis. Bowling was seen as a lazy activity that anyone could do, but no one really wanted to do.

pex bowl 1

The Youth Movement:

The PBA saw its darkest time in the 2010-2012 season. There were only 12 events that year, and only 3 of the events were aired live on television. The only positive to this season was a $250,000 first place prize to the winner of the Tournament of Champions, arguably the most prestigious tournament of the year. For every other tournament, the first place prize fund was between $20,000 and $50,000. This isn’t terrible money strictly speaking, but if you were a professional bowler and not in the top 10, you could barely make a living. The 20th ranked player would barely be earning more than $20,000 per year, half of what the 20th ranked bowler made in the early 1980s. The average income for the remaining 250 best bowlers in the world was less than $10,000 per year. This is, of course, not including sponsorships and other endorsements, but gone were the days of $1 million deals and Coca-Cola endorsements. Thankfully, all hope is not lost. There has recently been a huge movement of youth bowling.

Something interesting happened in late 2008; Jason Belmonte, a professional Australian bowler, did something different. He bowled using both his hands instead of one.

*image courtesy of Jason Belmonte’s official website

This popularized a new form of bowling that had never been seen before. Many people were in favor of this new form of bowling while others were vehemently opposed, but the most important thing is that it put bowling in a spotlight again. It made bowling more interesting and it garnered attention from everyone across the world. Jason Belmonte has even been featured on Dude Perfect, a popular YouTube channel, twice, and both videos have tens of millions of views. He has been the best possible ambassador for bowling, and the youth are taking notice.

Bowling two-handed makes it easier to hook the ball, thus scoring higher games with less experience. This makes the sport more accessible and many more middle and high school bowlers are using this technique. Jason Belmonte has helped grow the sport more than just about any other professional bowler. Youth bowling has seen its first positive trend within the last 5 years for the first time in over 2 decades. This is not a coincidence, and major bowling organizations such as USBC (United States Bowling Congress) have grown as a result. USBC hosts a national youth bowling tournament every year called Junior Gold. This tournament has seen a 300% increase within the last 7 years, from ~1000 to over 3000 entrants. This has had a lasting and positive effect on Professional Bowling.

Through the youth movement, there has also been a huge influx of young bowlers (18-25) who have seen major success on the PBA tour recently. These youth bowlers have already gained the experience of fierce competition from tournaments such as Junior Gold and other grueling youth tournaments. They are capable and often more competitive than some of the veterans on tour, and they have the advantage of athleticism on their side. These bowlers have documented through different forms of social media how often they work out, and they work out a ton. This new wave of youth bowlers put a huge emphasis on staying in peak physical condition, often working out just as much as or more often than they bowl. This has given them an edge over the competition, and it has begun to chip away at the stereotype that all professional bowlers are out of shape. Bowling is on an upward trend.

Bowling still has a long way to go. Realistically, professional bowling will never be as big as football or basketball; however, bowing is growing steadily. Bowling is America’s favorite recreational activity, and youth bowlers are heavily involved and extremely passionate about the sport. That is what it will take to keep the sport of bowling alive. As long as there are people out there who genuinely care about the sport and are dedicated to its growth, bowling will never die.

 

If you enjoyed reading this blog post and want to learn more about bowling and how to get better at bowling, we have a couple great books on bowling in the Library!

Bowling Execution – A fantastic book on how to get started in the basics of bowling.

Historical Dictionary of Bowling – A book on different terms and people related to bowling. A great book if you want to learn more on the history and terminology of bowling.

*written by Donny Turner