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. 


Brown, A (2020, May 16). Pantry Raid: Date Shake Edition. YouTube. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019, June 10). National Men’s Health Week. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Features. Retrieved from 

Grage, J – Undersun Fitness (2019, August 26). Build a Big Chest Without the Gym. YouTube. 

Hulu (2016, September 14). Sexy, The Mindy Project GifGiphy 

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. 

Public Health Maps (2020). Men’s Health Week 2020.  

South Park (2016, August). Alton Brown Cooking GifGiphy 

Timeline-World History Documentaries (2018, April). Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home. YouTube. 

Timeline- World History Documentaries (2018, February 17). The Worst Jobs in History-Dark Ages. YouTube. 


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.




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, 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, 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 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.”, Atlanta Journal 


Thomas, June. “Which Sitcom did Leap Day Best?”, 2012.03.01.  

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

Landmark Digital. Accessed 26/2/2020. 

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


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Movember Reads

Happy Movember!

Movember is an annual event (involving mustaches and beards, of course) meant to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Movember aims to increase early cancer detection, battle the struggles of mental health and suicide, and reduce the number of preventable deaths. Check out their website here:

In honor of Movember, let’s take a look at some books in the UGL’s collection that involve everything facial hair!

One thousand beards: A cultural history of facial hair

A history of facial hair that documents its ebs and flows in our culture! The book showcases different styles, has information on self care, and shows pictures of famous beards!

Mustache shenanigans: Making Super Troopers and other adventures in comedy

A history and description of Jay Chandrasekhar’s experiences and perspectives when creating Super Troopers (1 and 2). Part humorous memoir and part film study!

Hair: Styling, culture and fashion

An exploration of hair styling, culture, and fashion. The book offers an examination of the social importance of hair, wherever it grows, and examines the different self-expressions and social identities that form from the expression of our hair!

Plucked: A history of hair removal

Examines the different forms of hair removal throughout the decades, from homemade lye depilatories to diode lasers and prescription pharmaceuticals. The book questions why we remove hair (an astonishingly American belief), and examines the unsettling lengths that Americans will go to when removing hair!

Check out these glorious beards! Some of the UGL’s favorites:

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