4 Life Hacks To Make Your Life Coolbeans

I’m all about the hacks, y’all. I love reading life hacks. Life is already so hard, so I’ll take any chance to make it a little easier.

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I like to think that I’m a pretty creative person and have actually come up with a few hacks worthy of sharing. These won’t revolutionize your life but they may help you out a little, and if you can do them with success and then think of me fondly, then that’s good enough.

1. Get back a lost USB

It’s always a good idea to have a USB on you. Especially if you’re a student. I own several sticks but one of them I’ve had for years and it holds many important files, including my WIP novel, so it’s kind of important that I not lose it. So I came up with a way to ensure that your chances of having your USB returned to you are greatly increased. Check it out:

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That second last file you see there is a simple Word Doc that has my name, cell phone number and email. No one just blindly deletes files off a found USB, so chances are, when going through my files, someone will see my message, contact me and return it.

2. Overnight hair waves

This is for my long-haired ladies (or dudes) who hate spending time with a hair curler. It’s taken me a few tries but I’ve finally managed to get a system down that lets me get nice waves in my hair while I sleep. First, take a shower and wrap your hair up in a towel for about an hour. Go watch an episode of a TV show while you wait. Then take your hair out, comb it, and let it air dry for another fifteen minutes. Then, when it’s still slightly damp, wrap it up in a really tight bun and sleep on it. When you let your hair down the next morning, it should have some nice, light waves and curls.

3. Make rice in the microwave

Maybe this isn’t complete news, but everyone I’ve mentioned it to, including my high school cooking teacher, seemed baffled at the idea of making rice in the microwave. Trust me, this is so easy. In a microwave safe dish with a lid, add rice and water following the 1:2 ratio of cups of rice to water. Then you put in the microwave for 20 minutes on power level 7 and boom: perfect rice. No need to buy a rice cooker or anything. You’re welcome.

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4. Make your own nasal strip

As much as a small part of me thinks these things are just placebo, I’d rather use them than not when I have a cold. However, at school when I can’t swipe one or two from my parents and don’t want to go buy my own, I make some, and they work just as well. I take a sticky note and cut and fold it so it’s stiff and long enough to cover the bridge of my nose. Then I put a piece of scotch tape over it to tape it to my skin. There’s really nothing special about the actual product, so paper and tape work just as well when it comes to applying light pressure to one’s nose.
I know these may not be the most useful of hacks, but hopefully they’ll help you a little, as they’ve helped me. There are several other little life hacks I’ve kind of created over the years, but these four were the most useful to the most people. If you guys created or know any other life hacks, I’d love to know them!

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Our Online Legacy

There’s this line from Hamilton: “What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” As much as we’d all like to leave behind a memorable and remarkable legacy, the fact is, we probably won’t.

And you’re ready to tell me, don’t say that, you never know what the future holds!

Don’t bother, I’ve accepted my averageness. It’s fine.

Maybe I won’t leave a legacy fit for a history book, or even a Wikipedia page, but I still will be remembered. I know that when I die, my family and friends will mourn me, but in this day in age, so much of our lives are online too. My laptop spends an extraordinary amount of time turned on, it seems only fair that this extension of myself will be mourned too.

Several years ago I told my best friend where she’d be able to find a list of all my passwords so that if something were to happen to me, she’d be able to let my connections know. I’m sure she doesn’t remember and I’ve since moved said list so it doesn’t matter, but I still think it’s important that the idea remains.

My blog, my Twitter, my six emails accounts…They all contain my life. And every one of you reading this are a part of it. I’d hate for any friends or readers online to think I’ve just forgotten about them. I’d like to say now: y’all mean a lot.

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Facebook has a Legacy setting where you can pick people now to give access to your profile upon your passing. I use Facebook so insignificantly, I don’t think any friends would use it to remember me. A lot of other websites have ways of giving similar access. When I heard this information, I have to admit, I spent a few good minutes wondering if I could convince Twitter that the girl who has the @coolbeans4 handle is dead. Apparently, without any proof, I cannot.

But isn’t it weird, that one’s online presence can live on through other people? If my friend starting tweeting for me, could you tell? If someone else started blogging for me, would you notice? It seems like a creepy idea but Tony Stark basically kept Jarvis alive through AI and we just accepted that.

And you’re ready to tell me, but that’s fictional!

Is it though? Or is it…the future?

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There’s actually already sites where you can input someone’s text messages and probably other info and the computer can simulate conversation, like Replika. It was literally designed to help deal with the death of a friend in a car accident. Computers are smart, and the more info given, the more they’d be able to mimic the real style of the person.

And if that doesn’t sound like the start of the Robot Wars, then I don’t know what does.

It’s just interesting to consider. As our technology continues to grow, how we use technology to remember dead people will change as well. It’s weird that we have to plan for this already.

If you die next week (insert pause for my mother to whisper “God forbid!”), who will you leave your online presence to?

 

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Novel Writing: The Story With My Story

When I was in sixth grade I wrote a novel. And by novel, I mean a 100 page Word doc with size 16 font and horrid plot progression. But it had a beginning, middle and end. It was my pride and joy.

I know a lot of bloggers also are novel writers. I know a lot of them participate in NaNoWriMo. I am insanely jealous of that. These people not only have the time to write a novel but they actually have plot ideas? I am in awe.

I struggle with ideas. I always have. Aside from that one pathetic novel in grade six, almost all the stories and ‘novels’ I wrote growing up were either complete plagiarism or used really basic characters and arcs. I even struggle with blog post ideas and the fact that I’ve managed to keep up this blog for almost two years on my own is actually shocking. I don’t know how I do it.

Towards the end high school I did have a novel idea. I can’t remember how it came to me but all of the sudden I had characters and a plot and I would spend time thinking about it. To date, it’s my best idea and I do believe that it’s a decent one. I want to see it through. I got about 50k words in and then kind of stopped when I got writer’s block. Then I went University and always had the intention of going back to it when I had time.

The reason I’m telling you this and the joke of it all is that one of my majors is in writing and there’s this fourth year course that I’m interested in about literally making a book. Not to be dramatic, but that course is one of the reasons I’m even at the school I’m at. The head of the department talked it up when I toured the campus.

I’m in third year now and am slowly starting to plan for my final year. I’ve looked into the course some more and found out that the idea is to go into the class with a story already written and then throughout the semester edit and polish it and get it ready to be published at the end. I now understand why a lot of students apparently use compilations of the stories they’ve written in other writing courses throughout the years. The problem with that is that all the stories we write for these other courses are non-fiction about our real lives and again, not to be dramatic, but my life is very boring and I really dislike all my stories. So if I were to take this book course next year, I guess I need to start writing…or, continue writing, as my half novel is probably my best bet.

And that scares me.

I could be enrolled in this course as soon as September and I’m not near ready to let other people read this novel. I haven’t even read it in two years. I can only imagine the cringing I’ll do when I do go back to it. What if I hate everything? What if my characters are too one-dimensional? What if my writing is too weak? What if my plot twists are too boring? What if I use too many clichés? What if I can’t think of an ending?

Writing for a blog and writing for a novel are very different and since I’ve mostly only written for a blog as of late, I’m worried about the adjustment.

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I love to write, and writing a book is one of the few things on my so called bucket list. I always kind of figured that one day I’d get my act together, finish and edit a novel and send it out to agents or publishers (though I don’t know the first thing on going about that and it seems like an even scarier task than doing the actual writing). Whether I take this course at school or not, I’m not going to stop dreaming about one day having my name on an actual printed book.

So, my blogging amigos and dedicated readers, do you have any advice or tips? How do you carve out time to write? How do you get back into the swing of writing? How do you make your story the best? How do you develop new ideas? How do you know when your writing is good enough?

Any resources or wise words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated.

 

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Sneeze Count 2016

Hello and welcome to the weirdest thing you’ll read all week.

For any new followers I’ve gotten in the last year, yes, that does say ‘sneeze’. Last year I posted my 2015 stats and got some positive responses, so I’ve been very excited to share this year’s numbers. I suggest reading last year’s post for some backstory.

Because of the way the weeks align, this year’s chart covers 371 days. I start my week counts on Mondays so I had to take a portion of last December’s final week and also the first day of 2017. Just trust me on this all, okay? The good news is that I looked ahead and the next two years line up pretty nicely. Here is the finished chart for 2016.

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This year is my highest ever! The previous highest was in 2013 with 3475 (2438 in 2014, 3459 in 2015). I also hit my highest weekly total with 206, the previous highest was 141 last year. Like last year, numbers jumped in the summer because I was working in a book warehouse where there were a lot of books and dust. I also worked there again for two weeks in December, which is visible in the chart.

Again, I can’t guarantee that is 100% accurate. I do get lazy sometimes and perhaps do not mark down my sneezes as fast as I should. Once in a while I even consider stopping. But then at the end of each year when I sit down and look at my numbers, I get re-energized to start a new year’s count. So stick around for 2017’s post in a year!

Last year I mentioned that I didn’t know anyone who does this. It’s weird, but I never really thought to Google sneeze counts to see someone did. I just kind of figured no one else would bother with such a weird hobby. But I did do a search and to my surprise, I am not alone. I found one blog called The Lame Adventures and between her birthdays in 2010/2011, the blogger counted her sneezes and even made a graph too. I swear I didn’t know about this when I started. Check out her post here. And then last week I got a comment on last year’s post by a man named Peter who also is a fellow counter, but he’s been doing it for nine years! Just by searching ‘Sneeze count’ on Google will reveal many articles written about him (#goals). I’m five years behind him, but he has definitely motivated me to keep going with this little project (plus my dad got me a new cool Harry Potter pocket calendar for my records). You can check out Peter’s wonderfully detailed sneeze count here.

What I have learned from finding these two kindred spirits is that I sneeze a lot. I mean, Peter is up to about 4600 after nine years and I hit that number after a year and a half. Similarly, the blogger behind The Lame Adventures had about 500 sneezes all year where as I do that in a few months. I knew I was above average but daaaaaaaamn.

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Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed 2016’s count. I sure did. I count sneezes for myself but if I can amuse any of you out there on the internet, then it’s a bonus!

 

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In This Coming Year, Can Fandoms Be Pleasant?

With Christmas now over (I hope everyone had a Merry one!) the time has come to start looking ahead to 2017. The general consensus is that 2016 was the pits, so I think everyone is ready for a brand new year to begin. For the first time in a few years, I actually have some new year’s resolutions and I hope I’m able to maintain them.

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I think, however, what we all really want every year is happiness. I know I do. We can’t control life and its many up and downs, but we can control what makes us happy. For me, there are a lot of things that make me happy. I love blogging, I love hanging out with friends, and I love watching TV.

I also love the Internet and its various circles. The problem with the Internet is that it’s a very awful place. So much hate and rudeness and intolerance and unpleasantness. It really is unfortunate that when humans come together online, this is the result. Of course, there are some great sites and communities and if you’re careful, you can enjoy them all with no troubles. I know this and try my best to do this. But due to my love for TV, I often find myself in various fandom spaces. I’m not that active but I do spent probably too much time scrolling through Tumblr and Twitter and Wordpress tags.

You’d think that since people in fandoms are just made up fans of whatever thing, it’d be a happy place of community and love. It can be, but usually for every few positive people, there’s a negative one, and negativity always has more of an effect. I don’t get it. Fandoms are supposed to be happy places. It’s strangers coming together to enjoy a show or a movie or a band or whatever. So why is there so much negativity? Why do some people feel the need to voice their negativity and spend so much time involved in something they hate? How is that healthy?

This isn’t about free speech. This is about people going out of their way to ensure that people know just how much they hate something. And that’s what I’ll never comprehend. Do you know what I hate? I hate Birkenstocks. I think they’re the absolute ugliest and most dysfunctional footwear out there. But I don’t tell people that. I don’t go finding pictures on Instagram or Tumblr and start spewing hate. Why would I? That’s a waste of my time and at the end of the day, nothing comes out of it. At most, if I was really desperate to voice my opinion on such a random thing, I’ll tweet something like ‘I’ll never find Birkenstocks attractive’ but that’s it. Because the makers aren’t going to see my comments and be like ‘oh, someone hates our thing, let’s stop making them’.

If you don’t like a thing, maybe making that clear a few times is fine, especially if you were once known to like the thing, but then MOVE ON.

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If you want an example, take the Agents Of SHIELD fandom. In Season 1, everyone got along. Everyone was happy. All good in the hood. Then in the last quarter of that season, a major character (Grant Ward) took a turn and was basically revealed to be a double agent. While everyone can agree that the twist was shocking and made for great TV, it was sad to be betrayed like that. And that’s when the split happened. There were then three groups of people: people who hated Grant Ward and wanted him dead, people who stood up for him and understood that his childhood/mentors were what led to his downfall, and people who didn’t care either way but still liked the show.

And at first, this split was interesting. Seeing such vast differences in opinions on the same character was neat, as both had legitimate arguments. But eventually it got so intense, and I got so fed up. A lot of the people who stood up for Ward were so upset at the show for not addressing what they want addressed (topics of victim abuse and blaming and redemption) that they tried boycotting the show, writing essays upon essays about why the show, show runners, and Marvel is a sham, and just making things unpleasant. It even turned from fans vs showrunners to fans vs fans, which is even worse.

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I understand that they’re not happy. I get it, and they are allowed to be unhappy. But when they spend months and months just actively revelling in their anger and hate in a place like Tumblr, it becomes frustrating.  Are these people really content with what they’re doing? Do they genuinely like spreading hate? Do they feel accomplished or that it’s a good use of time? I don’t get it.

If a show is making you unhappy, and so violently so, don’t watch it. Don’t think about it. Just move on and don’t let it consume your life. And the same goes for any book or movie or whatever.

Like I said, maybe expressing your dislike in a polite way once or twice is fine. Goodness knows I’ve done it. Just last week I tweeted that I was displeased with the Fantastic Beasts screenplay. But then I moved on.

At the end of day, what really irks me is that it’s all fictional. These are fictional characters in a fictional world and the only people who can control this are the writers and producers. We viewers have no power, as I’ve addressed before. Maybe expressing such hate on real world issues like poverty or racism can be beneficial, but wasting so much time being negative about things that aren’t even real boggles my mind.

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We live in a world where there is so much sadness and anger. We have people and celebrities constantly telling us to keep our heads up and do what we love and be happy. Fandoms and the Internet was a place where I and many likeminded people are trying to do that. It’s a place where we all could enjoy something and face the fact that we’re all just bystanders to what we see on TV.  So it’s very upsetting that I can’t be as positive as I should anymore because I’m too busy getting upset at other people.

This coming year, whether you’re active in a fandom or not, do your best to stay positive. Keep things happy and calm as possible. I know it can be hard because sometimes things are so dumb you can’t help but express a little anger, but try to remember the task of happiness. Clearly, if something like a TV show or movie or something equally insignificant is making you that angry, you should get it out of your life. But you don’t have to ruin it for others.

Peace, y’all. Please.

 

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