Archive | January, 2014

Infographic: Your Brain on Beer vs. Coffee

28 Jan
Start your day with a nice hot cup of…oh wait – which is better? According to this infographic, it depends on your goal! Check it out! I love coffee 🙂
Your Brain on Beer vs. Coffee

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About West Virginia

24 Jan

After graduating from college and working full-time in a temporary position, I let my heart lead the way and packed my bags for West Virginia where a good man and a good job were waiting for me. 3 months later, here’s what I’ve learned…

1. Beneath the Mountain State runs an underground adventure-land: Caves!

The state’s underground frontier of more than 4,000 caves attracts adrenaline seekers and curious adventurers from all over. In fact, tourism is the state’s leading industry.  For more info on caving in WV, check out The Underground Frontier.

Seneca Caverns, Riverton, WV

2. Contrary to popular belief, there are smart people…lots of them!

West Virginia University’s School of Medicine’s rural medicine program was ranked number 3 in U.S. News and World Report’s 2014 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools,” and the Engineering School’s aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering program was ranked 47. 

Our educated folks aren’t only retirees looking for peace and quiet. There are plenty of smart, successful residents under 30 making a difference! Check out WV Living’s Thirty Under 30.

3. There are more than 50 state parks/forests.

You want to go hiking? We’ve got you covered. Planning a hunting or fishing trip? Take your pick. Renting a cabin for a romantic or family getaway? There are plenty. No matter what outdoor adventure you’re planning, you can find it here in West Virginia. Read more about our various state parks here. 

Babcock State Park, Danese, WV

4. The speed limit is 70.

Okay, I’ll be honest. The drivers here aren’t exactly as skilled as I’m used to (hey Jersey!) But if you have the need for speed, we’ve got it. The highways rarely have traffic and the speed limit is 70 so obviously you can go 80 without getting a ticket. Don’t hold me to that, I’m no cop.

5. We know how to party.

There are more than 12 breweries in the state and more than 15 wineries. Also, West Virginia University has been ranked the No. 1 party school for years by Playboy and The Princeton Review. Not to mention, despite the hullabaloo about its accuracy, we all saw Buckwild. Now you know how Jersey folks felt about Jersey Shore.

I’m not a West Virginia native but it sure is becoming easier and easier to adapt to this place.

DIY Valentine’s Day: 14 Days of Valentines

23 Jan

One of the biggest consumerist holidays is quickly approaching: Valentine’s Day! Despite the societal pressure to spend tons of money on big extravagant gifts and romantic gestures, Valentine’s Day is a lovely holiday. Sure we should be showing each other this love year-round but the fact of the matter is, we don’t! Things get in the way and unfortunately some relationships get put on the back burner. So, it is what it is. Plus, Valentine’s Day comes at such a dreary time of the year – dead of winter – and its a great emotional boost to get you through those last few weeks of cold.

Since I am taking a vacation to Florida in March, we’ve decided to go cheap on Valentine’s Day. Well that doesn’t sound romantic at all! You’d be surprised, actually. Pinterest really came to my rescue when searching for DIY Valentine’s Day gifts. Good news – they’re all edible! Here’s my list of favorites and suggestions:

1. Hooked on you!

♄ Fill a mason jar with gummy worms to look like bait♄ -Thanks The Dating Divas!

2. Will you “chews” to be my valentine?

♄Use a pack or piece of gum♄ -Thanks It Happened Like This!

3. You light up my life!

♄With a candle, a new lighter, birthday candles, or a flashlight♄ Great valentine for anyone! Thanks Real Simple!

4. I love you to pieces!

♄Jar of Reese’s Pieces♄ This would be an adorable gift from daughter to father. – Thanks The Frugal Girls!

5. We just fit.

♄Puzzle pieces♄ Cute gift idea for a couple who have been dating long-term. – Thanks Real Simple!

6. You’re my main squeeze!

♄Bottle of orange juice♄ Give this unique valentine to your best friend. Thanks See Vanessa Craft!

7. We’re a perfect match!

♄Pack of matches♄ Could work for best friends, sisters, or a couple! Thanks Real Simple!

8. You’re the king/queen of my heart.

♄King/queen from a deck of cards♄ Perfect diy valentine card for a husband or wife. – Thanks Real Simple!

9. You’re one in a million!

♄Jar full of a colored candy with one candy of another color♄ Use M&M’s, bubblegum balls, skittles, anything! -Thanks Knocked Up and Abroad!

10. You’re a great catch!

♄Gift bag of Goldfish♄ Easy diy valentine for classmates or close friends. – Thanks Rock Paper Cricut!

11. You’re so juicy! (or) Love Juice

♄Bottle of water with crystal light packet♄ Clever diy valentine for a boyfriend. – Thanks At Second Street!

12. You make me hot. (or) You’re a hot tamale.

♄Gift bag of hot tamales♄ -Thanks Poofy Cheeks!

13. Don’t ever change.

♄Bag of candy change from the dollar store or fake change or real change♄ Could be a meaningful valentine from son to mother. – Thanks Jacolyn Murphy!

14. Blow me a kiss!

♄Bag of bubble gum balls and hershey kisses♄ Cute father-to-daughter diy valentine. – Thanks The Frugal Girls!

The great thing about most of these valentine’s is they don’t always have to be for a significant other. They can be used for father-to-daughters valentine’s or friend-to-friend. Have fun!

The Power of Perspective: How Shopping for a Mattress Changed Me

10 Jan

I learned something the other day.

I didn’t learn an interesting fact about another country or how to work some new software program. I learned something about myself, about my job, about my future; it wasn’t life changing but it was important…and that’s what matters. I learned about the power of perspective.

You see, I spent the larger portion of my afternoon at work, not answering phones or responding to inquiries or managing a guest list like usual, but doing research on a mattress. Where was it cheapest? Who had it in stock? What was a comparable mattress to the one we wanted? Do they offer free delivery? Pillowtop or firm?

It was exhausting, annoying and tedious. Not to mention, it wasn’t exactly a cheap mattress and since my employer is supplying this mattress to a white collar employee, it was frustrating, given my current pay grade…

I digress.

After hours of searching and contacting random salespeople at mattress factories and outlets in my state – a surprising amount, actually – we finally made the purchase (got it on the cheap, too!) and scheduled the delivery.

“This is not what I went to college for!” I thought, angrily. It was task work – monotonous and lacked autonomy – and I wanted nothing to do with it. But I did what was asked of me with a smile on my face while I died a little inside with every phone call or “View the Collection!” click. I was so ready to go home and complain about how irritated I was with this task.

Upon leaving, though, I felt no sense of anger, no frustration. Sure, I didn’t go to college to end up purchasing mattresses for my boss’s boss’s whoever. Sure it was a pain in the ass and sure it wasn’t exactly in my job description. But I got the job done and after I was able to look at it from a different perspective, I realized that from this task alone, I gained a lot of hands-on experience and helped someone in the process. I learned some skills that could be applied in many other ways at work and in my personal life. Who knew?

The power of perspective allowed me to understand that this task wasn’t about ordering a mattress, it was about learning life lessons:

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

I contacted tons of salespeople regarding this mattress. In some cases, I got representatives from the company who directed me to another representative, in some cases I got directed to another store, and in some cases, I heard no response. In one case, however, I received an immediate email response from an actual representative. Throughout the afternoon, as I asked question after question, she responded promptly and in full. Ultimately, we purchased the mattress from her. She provided answers, fast…and that was just what we needed.

Lesson Learned: If you have the time, take the time. If you don’t have the time, make the time.  You’ll see results.

Customer Service is Key

When I called one company, the phone directory prompted me to press 7 for the bed and bath department. The representative who answered, however, was not in this department and forwarded my call to what he thought would be the mattress department. I was greeted by a woman who barely spoke English when she told me, “there is no one in the mattress department today but perhaps I can help.” After some time, though, she ultimately asked me to “check online.” This was a complete turn off as a customer. The woman from whom we purchased the mattress never once sent me a copied/pasted email. She was prompt, friendly, and informative. It was refreshing.

Lesson Learned: A customer or caller should never be bounced from line to line to line. This is a waste of time. Companies should take the time to review their directories and messages to ensure satisfactory service. Also, people want a personalized experience, not a computer-generated message.

Research Leads to Success

If our office purchased the first mattress I found in the collection and style we wanted, it would have cost us nearly $1,500 more than what we spent for the same thing. After researching, though, I was able to find similar mattresses, similar brands, and lower prices.

Lesson Learned: The internet is a beautiful, beautiful thing! Research changes the game. You’ll never know what’s really out there unless you do the research. If you think you’re an expert, look harder.

Assistants are Assets

Ordering a mattress is something my bosses cannot be bothered with. They have so much on their plates…and then some! As their assistant, it is my duty to make their lives easier, even when it means typing “mattress companies in my town” into Google. At the end of the day, I am paid to assist in whatever they need and I know that by completing this task, they are able to check one thing off of their to-do lists and I know they appreciate that help.

Lesson Learned: Assistants make the world go round! Leaders: appreciate your assistants and show it. Assistants: reassure your leaders you are there for them, no matter what, by doing an excellent job.

By taking a different perspective, I was able to shift my attitude from “screw this” to something that was a benefit for me. That’s the power of perspective, ladies and gentlemen.

What life lessons have you learned by taking a different perspective? Share your stories with me!

Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

6 Jan

Movie Rating

Three words: gripping, comical,  provocative.

The Wolf of Wall Street tells the story of New York stock broker, Jordan Belfort, whose middle-class childhood pushed him to build a corrupted brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont in the late 80s. Young Belfort’s carelessness for U.S. laws and societal acceptance lead to a life of recklessness including drugs, sex and corporate greed. 

Leonardo DiCaprio is brilliant as a money hungry Wall Street mogul. The seasoned actor manages to turn a rich asshole, drug junkie and serial adulterer into a character who I hate to love; I was addicted.

Belfort’s trashy posse of former-everyday-Americans-turned-millionaires joined him in the circus that was their life at the top. A surprising performance by Jonah Hill as Belfort’s right hand man, Donnie Azoff, added comical value to the film and really sealed the deal.

Many critics say the film was repetitive. “Sex and drugs. Sex and drugs,” said one critic from Cleveland. Perhaps it was. However, I choose to take the perspective that The Wolf of Wall Street was an accurate depiction of Belfort’s story and despite the critics, it was highly-watchable and worth the money.

What I liked: Leonardo DiCaprio gave an excellent, excellent performance!

What wasn’t my favorite: Borderline pornographic

Noteworthy scene: Belfort and Azoff get doped up on “ludes” and lose all motor skills

Interesting fact: The film now holds the record for most f-bombs dropped in one movie

What were your thoughts on the film? Let’s chat about it!

Life Lessons from Bridesmaids

6 Jan

If any of you love Bridesmaids as much as I do, check out my latest column on PostGradProblems where I offer some of the many life lessons one can extract from this hilarious stone-cold pack of weirdos.

Let me know what you think!

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