Mindfulness: Mental De-Cluttering for Spring

Ah, springtime in Urbana-Champaign… the ice is melting, we’re pulling our cutest summer outfits out of storage, and some of us may be participating in the time-honored tradition of spring cleaning. Here at the UGL, we’ve been working hard to keep our study spaces clean for you!

Snow White sweeps a dusty house with help from many small animals

We love a good, old-fashioned spring cleaning, but this year we’re approaching it a little differently. As you’re purging the fridge of long-expired condiments or tackling that pile of laundry you’ve been putting off for way too long now, why not take a moment to turn that energy inward? Just like old takeout containers or mismatched socks, anxieties and negative thoughts have a tendency to accumulate. Mindfulness can help us take stock of what’s going on in our brains so we can decide what we want to hold onto and what can be tossed out.

"I'm so excited because I love mess", by Marie Kondo

According to the Mayo Clinic, mindfulness is “a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment,” and clinical studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety. While taking care of mental health should always be a priority, it’s even more important than ever as we mark one year of living in a global pandemic. Reported rates of anxiety and depression have risen dramatically in the past year, and a recent study found that these issues particularly affect college students.

When someone asks you how your night went..... "Didn't get much sleep, but I did get a few hours of anxiety in."

With midterms coming up, we know that finding time for mindfulness might seem impossible. Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your schedule doesn’t have to be stressful, though! 

Schitts Creek reference, "Who has time amidst all this chaos?

 

Here’s a brief introduction to some of the (many) resources out there that can help you start the mental de-cluttering process at your own pace.

  • Apps: Smartphone apps can be an excellent way to learn more about mindfulness or to make it a daily practice! You can find guided meditations that range from just a few minutes to longer sessions, and some—like UCLA Mindful or Smiling Mind—are completely free. Other options, like Headspace or Insight Timer, offer some free content but require a subscription for full access. Liberate is a meditation app designed by people of color for people of color.
  • Books: The library has access to hundreds of books focused on mindfulness. Some helpful introductions to the topic include Wherever You Go, There You Are and The Miracle of Mindfulness.
  • Podcasts: If you’re more of an auditory learner or are sick of staring at screens, a podcast may be the way to go! When you’re looking for a quick break. Meditation Minis and The Daily Meditation Podcast offer episodes around 10 minutes each. More in-depth podcasts include the Mindfulness Meditation Podcast and The Rubin Mindfulness Meditation, which approaches mindfulness through discussions of visual artwork.
  • Counseling Center: This semester, the UIUC Counseling Center is providing some amazing virtual services for self-care. Try checking out the Daily Mindfulness Drop-Ins or the Recognition, Openness, and Insight Series!

Looking for even more resources? Head over to our Tech Wellness Guide to find more suggestions for prioritizing mental health while learning online.

Now it’s time to take a deep breath, drink a glass of water, and get started on that spring cleaning! Best of luck from all of us at the UGL.

Deep breathing

Written by: Hannah
Edited by: Ryan

 

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Black History Month

As Black History Month dawns, as a woman of color, I lament the shortness of this month. However, February was chosen for specific reasons, in spite of its shortness. February was chosen by Carter G. Woodson to honor the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, and one of the most famous Abolitionist and a former America’s Most Photographed, Frederick Douglass to honor the birthdays of both men.

Despite the shortness of the month, Black History is everywhere. In lightbulbs, fun summer toys, Washington, D.C., music, fashion, language, and more. In fact, this is one of my favorite times of the year as I get to learn something new about the contribution of Black people to the fabric of the American experiment.

As Former President Barack Obama stated:

… From our earliest days, black history has been American history. We’re the slaves who quarried the stone to build this White House; the soldiers who fought for our nation’s independence, who fought to hold this union together, who fought for freedom of others around the world. We’re the scientists and inventors who helped unleash American innovation. We stand on the shoulders not only of the giants in this room, but also countless, nameless heroes who marched for equality and justice for all of us. It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America.

“Shared and lived experiences,” forged on paper to challenge societal viewpoints, are present in all media forms. Literature reflects the current environment of our nation. Many books now feature individuals of color as main characters or are written by authors of color, a major change from decades past. And this inspires many children to become published and speak about what is important to them and why Their Black is Beautiful. For example, an eleven-year-old Black student, Aiden Taylor, has become a published author in the pandemic. His book, Me and My Afro, discusses the importance of his hair to his identity.

Hair is a large part of many people’s identity. For many people of color, particularly Black people, it can often become a fight against societal oppression. It is only in the last five years that individuals of color in the military could wear their hair in braids or dreads without reprimand. However, this is still a pervasive problem that many students face in schools, competitions, and beyond.

Shared experiences have shaped this campus. Illinois has a rich history of Black cultural experience and activism on this campus. William Walter Smith was the first Black student to graduate from UIUC in 1900 with a B.A. in Literature and Arts (he also received a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1907).  Maudelle Tanner Brown Bausfield was the first woman in 1906 with Hilda Lawson following in her footsteps with a PhD in 1939.

Kappa Alpha Psi’s second chapter, Beta, was founded at the University of Illinois on February 8th, 1913. This makes Kappa Alpha Psi the oldest Black fraternity on campus. In the 1960s, students lobbied the university to admit and enroll more students of color, which ended with over two hundred students being arrested. In 2015, Being Black at Illinois lobbied the university to re-instate the Project 500, the 1960s diversity initiative. Former students

Black History is everyone’s history. As Kamala Harris, the first woman of color to become the Vice-President of the United States of America said in her election night victory speech, “I may be the first, but won’t be the last.”  William Walter Smith, Maudelle Tanner Brown Bausfield, and Hilda Lawson may have been the pioneers, but they were not the last. Their legacies have allowed many Black students to attend and enrich Illinois and their home communities as evident by independent artists and educators, Mother Nature, whose experiences on campus led them to use hip hop to organize communities. The contributions made by many Black students have shaped Illinois into the future, lifting every voice.

If you want to know more about Black history at University of Illinois and beyond, please check out these sites and cities (this is not a comprehensive list):

The DuSable Museum of African American History– Chicago

National Civil Rights Museum – Memphis

African American Museum– Washington D.C.

National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum– Atlanta

National Black Music Museum– Nashville

University of Illinois, Archives – Urbana-Champaign

 

 

Written By: Simone Stone

References Cited

Atrl.net. (2016, October 18). Black Soul Train GIF. Giphy. http://gph.is/2esq9V3

Books by and/or about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color 2018- (2020, October 27). Cooperative Children’s Book Center. University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Education. https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/literature-resources/ccbc-diversity-statistics/books-by-about-poc-fnn/

Harris, K.(2020, November 7). Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris Addresses the Nation [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsrzIcTwtMo

Into Action (2021, January 25). Black Lives Matter BLM GIF. Giphy. https://gph.is/g/4oW8jyJ

Into Action (2021, January 25). Black Lives Matter BLM GIF. Giphy. https://gph.is/g/aXVN0YR

Jean-Philippe, M. (2021, Jan 7). The Reason Black History Month is in February. Oprah Magazine. Retrieved from MSN 2021/2/1.https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-reason-black-history-month-is-in-february/ar-BB1cyJ9P?li=BBnb7Kz

Johnson, P.K. (2016, December 27). Frederick Douglass was the Most Photographed American of the 19th Century. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/frederick-douglass-always-ready-his-close-n517391

Kappa Alpha Psi Celebrates its History as Illinois’ Oldest Black Fraternity. (2012, February 8). The Daily Illini. Retrieved 2021, February 1. https://dailyillini.com/uncategorized/2012/02/08/kappa-alpha-psi-celebrates-its-history-as-illinoisae-oldest-black-fraternity/

Kindy, D. (2019, June 21). The Accidental Invention of the Super Soaker. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/accidental-invention-super-soaker-180972428/

Keene, L. (n.d.). Benjamin Banneker: the Black Tobacco Farmer who the Presidents Couldn’t Ignore. The White House Historical Association. https://www.whitehousehistory.org/benjamin-banneker

Mirza, F. (2015, February 4). #BeingBlackatIllinois discusses solutions to African-American student decline. The Daily Illini. https://dailyillini.com/news/2015/02/04/beingblackatillinois-discusses-solutions-to-african-american-student-decline/

National Museum of African American History and Culture. (2021). A People’s Journey, A Nation’s Story.  https://nmaahc.si.edu/

National Center for Civil Rights at the Lorraine Motel (2021). Education and Interpretation. https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/learn

National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum. (2021). About the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. https://www.civilandhumanrights.org/about-the-center/

National Museum of African-American Music. (2020). History. https://nmaam.org/

Peters, A.M. (2020, August 21). One Proposal for Improving Army Inclusivity for Women of Color: Update Hair Regulations. Military.com. https://www.military.com/daily-news/opinions/2020/08/21/one-proposal-improving-army-inclusivity-women-of-color-update-hair-regulations.html

Scholastic. (n.d.) Latimer, L. Culture and Change: Black History in America. Famous African-American Inventors. http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/bhistory/inventors/latimer.htm

Smith, M. (2021, February 1). 11-Year-Old Boy Writes Book Me and My Afro to Help Kids’ ‘Love the Way They Are.’ People. https://people.com/human-interest/boy-11-writes-book-me-and-my-afro-about-self-love/

Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (2017, September 28). YouTube Faces GIF. Giphy. http://gph.is/2fThUTW

Straw, J., Swain, E., Prom, C. (2003, June). Guide to African-American Research Resources. University Archives at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. https://archives.library.illinois.edu/guides/afamer.php#bkmark1

Stubbs, R. (2019, April 17). A wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks before a match. His town is still looking for answers. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/04/17/wrestler-was-forced-cut-his-dreadlocks-before-match-his-town-is-still-looking-answers/

Student Life and Cultural Archival Program (2010). Project 500 and the Struggle for Campus Diversity at the University of Illinois. Oral History Projects at the Student Life and Cultural Archival Program. https://archives.library.illinois.edu/slcold/researchguides/oralhistory/project500/

“The Talk”: The Conversation That Sparked a Movement. (2019, January 1). My Black is Beautiful. https://www.mbib.com/en-us/redefining-black/the-talk-conversation-that-sparked-a-movement

Tse, K. (2021, January 29). Independent Media Center catches up with Mother Nature. The Daily Illini. https://dailyillini.com/features/2021/01/29/independent-media-center-catches-up-with-mother-nature/

The White House Office of the Press Secretary (2016, February 18). Remarks by the President at Black History Month Reception. Obama White House Archives. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/18/remarks-president-black-history-month-reception

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Pet De-Stress Event

Finals season is upon us once again, and this year– somehow– it’s more stressful than ever. But never fear, the UGL is here to help! No, we can’t take your final exams for you (although we do have study spaces available for all your last-minute cramming needs). What we can do is provide something just as wonderful as that feeling of turning in your last assignment: puppies! For one afternoon, library employees and some of our campus partners are (virtually) opening their homes and sharing their adorable puppies with the world. Word on the street is there will also be at least one horse in attendance. We’re not saying it’s Lil’ Sebastian, but we’re not saying it’s NOT Lil’ Sebastian… Here are just a few of our featured guests:

          (Phoebe)                         (Rue and Indy)                            (Elmo and Viago)

“When and how can I see these marvelous creatures?!” you may be asking yourself. Like every other event this semester, our de-stress fest will take place via Zoom. It will run from 1-4 PM on December 10th, the first day of reading period. In addition to live footage of pets performing tricks and goofing around, there will be short presentations from campus figures such as Professor Jane Desmond (with canine companion Shanti) discussing the relationship between pets and stress levels and UIPD Chief Alice Cary with therapy dog Archie. 

If you’d like to see the line-up of events, or just peruse more puppy pics, check out the event guide! You can register here if you’d like to stop by, or even stay for the whole afternoon. See you there!

 

Written by: Hannah

Edited by: Ryan

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National Native American Heritage Month at the University of Illinois

I would like to note that I am writing this blog post from Urbana-Champaign, and I recognize and acknowledge that I am on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. These lands were the traditional territory of these Native Nations prior to their forced removal; these lands continue to carry the stories of these Nations and their struggles for survival and identity.

As a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois has a particular responsibility to acknowledge the peoples of these lands, as well as the histories of dispossession that have allowed for the growth of this institution for the past 150 years. We are also obligated to reflect on and actively address these histories and the role that this university has played in shaping them. This acknowledgement and the centering of Native peoples is a start as we move forward for the next 150 years.

November is National Native American Heritage Month!

This month began in 1990 after centuries of advocacy by Native communities across the United States. Traditionally, this would be a month highlighting the vibrancy and power of Native culture and history through public events, conferences, and celebrations. Of course, the words “public events” probably send a shiver down your spine this year, but that doesn’t mean people across the country aren’t getting creative to commemorate this month with joy and solemnity. To find out more about national events and celebrations, you can visit Native American Heritage Month’s website.

Here at the University of Illinois, we have an incredible wealth of resources concerning both the history of Native people in the United States and locally. I’ve included just a few below to get you started, and I invite you to explore not just this month, but over all your years here at Illinois. Without learning about the history and validating the experiences of Native communities (communities that have long been forcefully silenced and discriminated against), we cannot truly call ourselves celebrants of diversity.

Native American House

The Native American House at the University of Illinois

The Native American House (located at 1206 W Nevada St. in Urbana) is a wonderful community. Their mission is to “serve as a support and resource center for Native American students, including all students and the campus.” Throughout the year NAH will have events and programming dedicated to both Native students and any student looking to learn more about Native American history and life. Make sure to like their Facebook page or follow their Twitter for updates on the events they are holding for Native American Heritage Month!

American Indian Studies

American Indian Studies at Illinois

If you really enjoy these resources and really want to dive into learning about the Native American experience, consider adding an American Indian Studies minor to your resume! While there are several classes offered by the department, many different disciplines (film, anthropology, history, religion, and more!) offer courses that are crosslisted under AIS. During Native American Heritage Month, AIS is hosting several speakers, with talks ranging from different kinds of research on Indigenous culture to understanding the effect of COVID-19 on Native communities. You can find out more on their website.

Library resources

Book, Talking IndianBook, Tribal Television: Viewing Native People in SitComs

The UIUC library system has several different guides to help students looking to find resources on Native life and culture. The first one, linked here, is from SSHEL (Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library), and it provides a fantastic overview of where to find scholarly articles, books, periodicals, and other types of resources concerning Native Americans. If you’re looking for information related to the relationship between the national government and Native communities, our Government Information Services Library has its own guide dedicated to that topic. We also have books for a young adult or children’s audience; check out this list for inspiration and see what’s available here at our library!

And while you’re on the library website, check out books written by some our Native Faculty members. You can check out Jenny L. Davis’s 2018 book, Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance, from SSHEL, or read Dustin Tahmahkera’s book Tribal Television: Viewing Native People in Sitcoms, online through the library website. And that’s just two examples; there are many others! For more information on these or other library resources related to Native culture, contact our subject specialist Cindy Ingold (cingold@illinois.edu).

 

Written by: Aine
Posted by: Ryan

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Get Out the Vote: UGL Edition!

Hi everyone! If you’ve been on the Internet anytime in the last week or so, you’ve probably been reminded that now is the time to register to vote. Election Day (which is really more like Election Week or even Election Month during these crazy COVID times) is on November 3rd–that’s, as of this writing, 40 days away. While that might feel like a long time, it will be here before you know it, and this year, your vote will matter more than ever.

 

Voting If You’re From Illinois

U no vote? Are u kitten me? (picture of kitten)

We’ve collected a few resources for those of you from Illinois (non-Illinoisans, look below!). First, this video from How to Vote in Every State gives a great overview of the process of registering to vote in Illinois, either in person or by mail. If you’re not sure if you’re registered, you can check here. If you’d like to sign up to vote by mail, this website from the State of Illinois can help you out. Finally, check out the Campus Voting Project to find out how you can register to vote from your student address!

 

Voting If You’re Not From Illinois

Get in loser we're going voting.

I have a confession to make, and it’s one of my deepest, most shameful secrets: I didn’t vote in the 2016 election. Not for any lofty ideological reasons, but because I was living away from home at the time and was just really confused by the process of long-distance voting. So if, like me, you are not from Illinois and are struggling to figure out how to vote in your home state, do I have some good news for you!

Requesting an absentee ballot is actually really easy. If you visit this website, you can request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you– the whole process takes about two minutes.

That said, it’s still important to do a little bit of research to make sure you know what your state’s absentee voting policies and deadlines are, since there’s a surprising amount of variation between states. US News has compiled an awesome guide, so all you have to do is click on your state to view its information and make sure you get that ballot in on time!

 

You Have Power. Vote!

Young people don't matter? False. If all young people voted, they'd comprise 40% of voters.

We know that college is stressful (fun fact: we were once college students ourselves), and that it can be hard to set aside time to vote. That’s probably one of the reasons why voting turnout has been so low among adults ages 18-29 in recent years, but hopefully these resources can make voting quick and painless!

If you’re planning on voting in-person but get nervous at the polls, Ballotpedia can give you a preview of what your ballot will look like so you can plan ahead.

Your vote is important–if you are passionate about change, voting is one of the best ways to make your voice heard to some of the most powerful members of this country. We want you to find your issue, and work to make a difference in whatever way you can. Here on campus, check out College Democrats of Illinois, Illini Republicans, or UIUC Young Democratic Socialists. Across the country, there are countless organizations dedicated to getting out the importance of voting. Some of our favorites include Black Voters Matter, Voto Latino, Native Vote, APIA Vote, Queer the Vote, and My Faith Votes.

Get out and vote! We believe in you and your voice (and get a sticker)!

I Voted Stickers

Written By: Aine and Hannah
Posted By: Ryan

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Men’s Health Week: COVID-19 Edition

June is home to National Men’s Health Week. This was created to remind us that men’s health is extremely important. As former congressmanformer New Mexico governor, and co-sponsor of Men’s Health Week, Bill Richardson said, “Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.” 1 This is even more pressing in these days of COVID-19. Men are more likely to die from COVID. The CDC recommends quitting smoking, getting 2 ½ hours of physical activity weekly, and minimizing stress and seeking help to maintain mental health as ways to stay healthy 

Here are some recommendations to have a healthy Men’s Health Week: 

1) For dads who are anglophones and fans of history, Absolute History and Timeline provides informative videos on English history, ranging from the Middle Ages to the 1950s. I recommend Tony Robinsons’ Worst Jobs in History. Tony tries jobs ranging from tanner to water barrel deliveryman. However, if that is not your cup of tea, there are videos on how and why individuals died early prior to this century like The Hidden Killers of a Tudor Home by Susannah Lipscomb.  

2) Cardio helps with minimizing stress. I recommend Les Mill’s Body Combat, but it requires a monthly subscription. For those who do not want to spend money, PopSugar on YouTube has some great boxing workouts

A man dances like nobody is watching.

I also recommend Undersun Fitness on YouTube for people who like to lift weights and get stronger muscles by working them to failure. This channel provides simple exercises with resistance bands, but these exercises can be done with no equipment, only bodyweight. This workout brings results (my thighs were sore for several days and I do squats regularly.).  

A man cooks the perfect steak.

3) As for food, because physical health is often derived by what we eat, my favorite food personality is Alton Brown. During the pandemic, he has been posting videos of simple, healthy snacks like Chocolate Date(fruit) Shake, which has protein and fiber and is lightly sweetened with the chocolate and the fruit. If you have Hulu, I also recommend his Good Eats Reloaded, where he updates older recipes to include healthier aspects like substituting flour for gluten free options, for instance. 

4) Additionally, I also want to take the opportunity to highlight that the UGL will be offering a book club starting in the fall. Like cardio, reading is a great stress reliever and book clubs are an opportunity to connect with others, which, as we have found out during the pandemic, is something that societally, we take for granted.2 Furthermore, many companies have instituted company-wide book clubs as this have been proven to strengthen team-member engagement and minimize burn-out on the job. The UGL book club will be available online as a blog with discussion posts, but will include monthly Zoom meetings. This is designed to make it easier for people to commit at a level that works for their schedule. We hope to have you join us in the fall.  

But most importantly, I hope wherever you are that you and yours have a safe and healthy Father’s Day in these trying and stressful times as we attempt to return to some type of normalcy. 

References 

Brown, A (2020, May 16). Pantry Raid: Date Shake Edition. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEE4oq_NAck 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019, June 10). National Men’s Health Week. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Features. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/healthymen/index.html 

Grage, J – Undersun Fitness (2019, August 26). Build a Big Chest Without the Gym. YouTube.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J1EN5oVIFQ 

Hulu (2016, September 14). Sexy, The Mindy Project GifGiphyhttps://media.giphy.com/media/l3vQWT60zQb2DDwnS/giphy.gif 

Jin, JM et al (2020, April 29). Gender Differences in Patients with COVID-19: Focus on Severity and Mortality. Frontiers in Public Health, 8 (152). doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00152  

Lerner, M. (2020, May 26). Keep Turning the Pages with Your Book Club. The Hartford Extra Mile. https://extramile.thehartford.com/lifestyle/hobbies/book-club/ 

Public Health Maps (2020). Men’s Health Week 2020. PublicHealthMaps.org. https://publichealthmaps.org/calendar/2020/6/15/mens-health-week  

South Park (2016, August). Alton Brown Cooking GifGiphyhttps://media.giphy.com/media/3o6Ztdb3Pv8Dn3Paqk/giphy.gif 

Timeline-World History Documentaries (2018, April). Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgbEVDi8Zdc 

Timeline- World History Documentaries (2018, February 17). The Worst Jobs in History-Dark Ages. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jgu7EJ9A8A&list=PL72jhKwankOjHQKPOlD3VP-raNOPMmAbD&index=1 

Bio:

Simone is a returning graduate assistant for the Undergraduate library. She enjoys reading vociferously and getting dragged down the YouTube rabbit hole. 

Written by: Simone
Edited by: Ryan

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Quarantine Diary 5: Yoga With Adriene

Hi all! I’m Izzy, and I’m hiding out in my apartment in Urbana for the foreseeable future. When this whole “stay-at-home” thing first started, I was ambitious. In addition to working remotely and continuing to take classes, I wanted to use this time to work on new hobbies and activities. The list included baking, hiking, learning to play guitar, learning a new language, crocheting, finishing a puzzle, and yoga.

I made cookies! Out of silly putty…

A few weeks later (I have truly lost count), the list remains largely untouched. It has been much harder to stay motivated and focused than I was expecting, so most of my energy goes to work and school and making sure I get enough to eat. My blueberry lemon bars turned into more of a crumble. Attempts to crochet concluded with yarn throwing in frustration. But the one recreational activity that has been easy to keep up has been yoga, all because of my friend Adriene.

When people talk about doing yoga online, they are usually talking about Yoga with Adriene. This YouTube channel, with almost 7 million subscribers and a seemingly endless number of videos, is one of the first things that pops up when you Google “yoga.” Adriene’s yoga instruction videos are perfect for just about everyone. You can find videos for beginners, for specific moods you might be in, or even to compliment activities you may like to do, like yoga for runners or writers. And best of all, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, so her videos are fun and lighthearted while getting the job done. She really does feel like a pal, and she manages to make these asynchronous classes feel like a community. And the best part is her dog Benji, who regularly makes appearances.

When I do have the attention to do something a bit more cerebral, there are a lot of choices out there right now, especially through the University Library. One of the options I’m most excited about is MIT Press. They are offering free online access to their catalog of e-books to libraries until May 31st. Whether you’re in need of some additional research for a course, or you just want to learn something new, they’ve got a huge selection of titles on just about every subject you could imagine. I recommend starting with their Essential Knowledge Series, which gives concise overviews on a variety of topics from “Irony and Sarcasm” to “Extraterrestrials.”

In between all the yoga and reading, I’m still finding time to fit in TV watching, staring at walls, and plenty of existential dread. Who knows how long this will last, and in the meantime, I’m staying busy.

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Quarantine Diary 1: Harry Potter Movie Rankings

Graduate Assistant (noun): Master’s student with multiple jobs such as supervising the UGL, teaching, and helping people with research. Relies heavily on coffee and occasional social interactions. 

Hi everyone! It may come as a shock to learn that our Graduate Assistants (GAs) don’t live at the UGL. If this is as jarring as figuring out that your teachers have lives outside of school, we apologize. While they would probably be having more fun quarantined together, each of our GAs is finding their own way to keep healthy and sane during these crazy times. This blog is the beginning of a series called The Quarantine Diaries, in which each GA will share a piece of their current experience. We’re kicking it off with Ryan, who chose a topic so divisive that the rest of the GAs might not even want to see him when this quarantine is over.

 

Hi all! With quarantine in full swing, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to revisit the Harry Potter series (for scientific purposes). The Harry Potter franchise is ubiquitous at this point, with longevity that is uncommon in popular culture. With this newfound time on my hands, I decided to binge watch the series and give you my rankings of the Harry Potter movies from worst to best. I entirely expect this to be a controversial list, so let me know your thoughts if you disagree!

Obvious spoilers ahead!

8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Goblet of Fire is a great spectacle, with wondrous wizard battles, and the introduction of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in full. While the film checks all of the boxes in regards to effects and spectacle, it unfortunately lacks a bit in the story department. Outside of the Dark Lord returning near the end of the film, the rest of the movie feels almost superfluous.

“Did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire, Harry? he asked calmly.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (P1) is a good movie, great in fact. Unfortunately it serves as a prelude to an even better movie. The final book has a plethora of subplots and story-lines that are unfortunately left by the wayside in this movie. The movie has some amazingly memorable scenes that still give off the quintessential “Harry Potter” vibe. And lastly, I cannot forget Hedwig.

6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets holds a special place in my heart, with the introduction of Dobby the house elf, Harry’s iconic battle against the Basilisk, and the destruction of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s first horcrux. The film is extremely nostalgic, but unfortunately comes up a bit dated. With a darker tone, and a lot of tween sass, the film was a great stepping stone for the rest of the story to unfold.

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

Sorcerer’ Stone is iconic, blasting the (already wildly popular) franchise into a global phenomenon. Extremely nostalgic, the movie has a way of hitting old Harry Potter fans right in the feels. That being said, it’s a story about a young 11 year-old and his first wizarding experiences. Fun, but at the end of the day it feels like a children’s movie.

4. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)

The Half Blood Prince is where stuff starts to get real. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is rising to power, and Harry, Dumbledore, and the Order are doing their best to battle him and his followers back. The movie has some of the best Hogwarts scenes in the franchise, and it’s nice to finally see Harry actually kick some butt. Draco’s fall to the “dark side” is moving, and you notice yourself actually feeling sorry for him. The movie ends with a beautiful scene of the Hogwarts’ teachers and students mourning Dumbledore’s death.

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

Order of the Phoenix is where the viewer gets to see all of Harry’s (and the gang!) work come to fruition. Dumbledore’s Army is one of my favorite story-lines throughout the series, and I loved seeing Harry and his peers prepare for the war to come. I also can’t forget to mention one of the most unlikable villains to ever be on the big screen….Umbridge! The film has a bit of everything, with wonderful magic, intense wizard duels, and a lot of emotion!

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

This movie is the culmination of 7 books and movies before it. There are so many memorable scenes…The Battle of Hogwarts, Ron and Hermione’s kiss, the death of Lord Voldemort, and many more. Outside of the action, it also has meaningful character moments as well, with Harry coming to terms with his own death, Neville’s courageous rise, and the many sacrifices that people made along the way to stop the dark forces of the wizarding world.

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1: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Prisoner of Azkaban is regarded by many as the best Harry Potter movie, and for good reason. Dementors, Patronuses, the introduction of Sirius, and a few great twists towards the end have my heart pumping every time I sit down to watch it. Really, this movie has everything I want out of a Harry Potter movie!

 

If, like me, you enjoy watching and reviewing films, feel free to check out our Library Guide on Film Reviews. All of these resources are available online, so it’s perfect for the would-be-reviewer to get some practice in while we are all stuck at home. My favorite resource is the FIAF International Film Archive Database. Look up your favorite movie and see what other people are saying about it! Rob White, from Sight and Sound, called the first Harry Potter movie “oddly anticlimactic”, and while I couldn’t disagree further, his review is an interesting one!

 

 

Written and Edited by: Ryan

 

 

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Book Bracket – Best Books of the Decade

With March Madness cancelled and everyone quarantined at home there isn’t a better time to vote on your favorite book of the past decade! For the next three weeks we will be hosting two separate polls, on both our Twitter and Facebook, that pit two of the most popular books of the past decade against each other. You’ll notice a variety of genres, ranging from young adult fiction, historical non-fiction, memoirs, and fantasy!

Some of our favorite books include:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Divergent by Veronica Roth

And many, many more!

Let us know what you enjoyed! Keep tabs on our Facebook and Twitter in the coming weeks (first poll on April 6th!) to keep up to date on the bracket and let us know your thoughts and opinions!

 

 

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Leap Year 2020

Have you ever wondered why we have a Leap Year? Who created this extra day?  Why February and not some other month like April or June, which have thirty days and can easily take an extra day for 31  

Leap Year is a relic of ancient astronomy. According to Stephen Wood of History.com, ancient calendars often had a 23-day intercalary or “extra month.” These extra months were based on the position of the moon as well as the Earth’s location relative to the sun. Originally, calendars were designed to track the Earth’s movement around the sun and ancient astronomers were extremely good at their jobs.  

The Earth revolves around the sun 365.24 days and yet, a traditional calendar only accounts for 365 days. Therefore, there is a few hours gap each year as a result of the 365-day calendar.  As a result, ancient astronomers created the intercalary to deal with this.  


However, you may be asking, “Why February?” Julius Ceasar, that’s why. The father of the modern calendar decided the perfect calendar was created by the Egyptians. Egyptian solar calendars had 365 days and included one extra month. February was chosen to include the leap day as it was already a month where Romans added extra days.   

Despite this attempt to account for the extra hours it takes for the Earth to revolve around the sun each year, the Julian (named after Ceasar) calendar, over the course of a century, made the equinoxes and solstices shift 24 days every century. As a result, Pope Gregory XIII expressed dismay that Easter was getting further and further away from the Spring Equinox.  

Thus, the Gregorian calendar (the calendar that is used to this day) was born. Gregory kept Leap years and stipulated that they occur every four years and on years that begin a new century, in order to have a Leap day, the year must be divisible by 400. If the year is divisible by 100 evenly, it is not a Leap Year.  In other words, if you lived at the start of the 20th century (1900), there was no Leap Year, but the year 2000 was divisible by 400 and thus, had a Leap Year.   

Leap years are full of lore. Most famously, Leap Year is associated with Bachelor’s Day, as it is known in some countries. Bachelor’s Day is a day where women propose to men. This tradition is most identified with Ireland, St. Bridget, and St. Patrick (yes, that St. Patrick).

But if Ireland is an expense that you can ill-afford, plan a trip in four years to Anthony, Texas. Anthony is the self-proclaimed “Leap Year Capital of the World” with a festival that begins before the end of February and goes to March. This year, it is scheduled for February 28th until March 2nd, 2020. Additionally, Leap Year can also be a time of great superstitions around livestock and weddings. According to Breakingnews.ie, many countries have traditions that suggest Leap Year is a day that is inauspicious, full of death.  

Whatever your stance on Leap Year, it’s undeniably an important tradition that keeps our calendars aligned with the stars. Makes you wonder how “30 Days Hath September” would have been if a different month had been chosen. If you are looking for funny sitcom takes on Leap Year, June Thomas of Slate.com has some suggestions and Leap Year (2010) and The Proposal (2009) are always great watching 

Written by Simone

Edited by Ryan

Works Referenced 

Elder, Lane. “Why 2020 is a Leap Year.” AJC.com, Atlanta Journal 

Constitution, https://www.ajc.com/news/why-2020-leap-year/RSms7VzmjoNP2C1CLrxp5I/. 

Thomas, June. “Which Sitcom did Leap Day Best?” Slate.com, 2012.03.01.   http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/03/01/leap_day_sitcom_episodes_which_is_the_best_one_.html  

Unknown. “9 Leap Year Traditions –and Superstitions- from Around the World.” Breakingnews.ie, 

Landmark Digital. https://www.breakingnews.ie/discover/9-leap-year-traditions-and-superstitions-from-around-the-world-723031.html. Accessed 26/2/2020. 

Wood, Stephen. “5 Things You May Not Know About Leap Day.” History.com, The History 

Channel, https://www.history.com/news/why-do-we-have-leap-year.

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