Monthly Archives: March 2012

Traditional and Off-the-Wall Places to Visit This St. Patrick’s Day

Filed under: College Life - BookRenter Team
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By guest blogger Kelsey Bradshaw
Kelsey is a sophomore at the University of Oregon majoring in Journalism and Facebook (wait, that’s not a real major?!). Originally a track star from Medford, Oregon, she now enjoys going for runs with her friends and working out at Eugene Crossfit. She also enjoys visiting National Parks, playing in the snow, and hanging out at the beach…double points if they’re all at the same time.

In my small hometown, you wouldn’t know it was St. Patrick’s Day unless someone pinched you for not wearing green. But in some cities, Irish pride completely takes over on the 17th of March, resulting in leprechaun costumes, lots of bagpipes, and green everywhere—even the river, in some cases. Check out these city’s celebrations and be sad that your city isn’t cooler.

The very first St. Patrick’s Day in America was celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1737. Now, a crowd of more than 850,000 people shows up to watch its annual parade full of floats, bagpipers, and marching bands.

New York was second in hosting a St Patrick’s Day parade in 1762–but the tradition carries on to this day, making it the longest continuously-running civilian parade in the world. Nowadays, three million people gather to view the nearly 150,000 people that participate in the parade.

The Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day is dyed green. Photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar.

Chicago is home to one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the city, but that’s not all it offers: a 48 year old tradition of dyeing the river green with more than 40 pounds of vegetable dye turns the river green for several hours. Similarly, the town of Savannah, Georgia, dyes all of their fountains green for their three-hour parade.

The small town of New London, Wisconsin, changes its highway signs to read “New Dublin” on St. Patrick’s Day each year (originally a prank, but one that has since been approved by the city council). Their St. Patty’s Day parade draws 30,000 people to a town with a population of 7,000, and boasts a collection of Celtic bands, bagpipe players, and a green hearse.

The shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade is set on the official Ripley’s shortest bridge in the world–the 98 foot long Bridge Street in Hot Springs, Arkansas, complete with Irish Elvis impersonators, Irish dancers and a celebrity “Grand Master” (Mario Lopez has gotten the honor in the past—I know, I just bought tickets, too).

Speaking of world records, in O’Neill, Nebraska, the world’s largest shamrock is found painted in the middle of the road between two highways. This town takes its Irish heritage seriously–on the 17th of every month, residents wear green to celebrate their inner leprechaun.

And, finally, there’s the original Dublin, Ireland, where the festivities last all week and there are more than 15,000 pounds of fireworks let off.

Whether your festivities take you to see the green Chicago River or just the green beer at your local bar, have a fun St. Patrick’s Day and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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Brain Power! 5 Cheap Foods That Will Help You Feel Smarter When You Hit the Textbooks

Filed under: College Life - BookRenter Team
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We’re knee-deep in the spring semester, and cramming for exams is fast becoming part of a daily routine. When it’s time to hit the books, your body needs fuel – especially if you need a helpful nudge towards Focusville (Population: You).

The simple solution to a grumbling stomach mid study session is whatever’s cheap and fast… like a bowl of sugary cereal or some greasy takeout. But we challenge you to feed your brain and your body, to help make the most of your textbook time.

Arm your pantry, fridge or secret snack drawer with these nutritiously super-charged brain foods that will help you cram that last little statistic into your brain before Exam Day. (Did we mention they’re also super-affordable? Because they are. We got your brain wallet back.)

1) Blueberries! Mixing some blueberries into your diet can work wonders for a last-minute study session. Pop a handful in your mouth, or toss them into that afternoon yogurt (go Greek for extra protein!). Proven to enhance the learning capabilities in rats, blueberries are also believed to stave off Alzheimer’s! Available in your everyday grocery store, the average price for a packet of blueberries is under $5.00.

2) Eggs, anyone? Studies show that the protein in eggs can boost brainpower for up to a few hours. Don’t worry if you’re trapped without a stovetop. Microwaving eggs might sound strange, but it’s an easy, fast, and tasty alternative to the frying pan. Need further motivation to whip up an omelet before rushing off to class? The selenium in eggs can even help elevate your mood J. In the refrigerated section of your grocery store, you’ll find medium-sized eggs at an average cheap value of only $1.39/carton of 12 eggs.

3) Dark chocolate. The rumors are true! Unlike it’s milky cousin, dark chocolate contains caffeine, which can help you maintain your concentration during a long exam. Dark chocolate also is a natural source of antioxidants, if those Hershey’s commercials speak the truth! Found anywhere from your grocery store to the local bakery to a gas station, dark chocolate will probably cost you under $4.00. (Also said to be an aphrodisiac, but that’s a whole other story…)

4) Say cheese! Yes, upon consumption, the amino acids in cheese are transmitted to your brain, helping you focus on that distressingly thick textbook you have to chew through. Have it in a healthy (whole wheat) sandwich or by itself in moderation, a pound of cheddar cheese will run you about $3.98.

5) Pecans! Need to add some choline to your diet? Look no further than pecans. No idea what choline is or why you need it? Think of this essential nutrient like gasoline for your brain – the brain needs choline if it is to run properly! Find some pecans in the nuts and snacks aisle at your grocery store for anywhere between $4-$9. Slightly more expensive, but just a small handful at a time will be more than enough. Keep ‘em in the fridge for longer shelf life.

There you have it! Next time you’re mid-cram-session and need a pick-me-up, don’t reach for greasy takeout or empty calories. They might taste amazing, but will only leave you feeling sleepy and unfocused. Fuel your body and your brain with one of the tasty snacks above and show your professors what you’re made of.

Extra inspirational and informative resources:

Average food prices gathered from Cobornsdelivers.com.

© MaxWo – Fotolia.com

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Five Situations When You Should Not Be Texting

Filed under: College Life - BookRenter Team
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By guest blogger Serena Piper
Journalism major at the University of Oregon. Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus Oregon. Magazine, freelance blogger, future world traveler. In her spare time, she likes to read as many books as she can, go for long drives, and peruse news websites. Hopes to one day write for National Geographic.

For college students, texting is just another everyday thing, like brushing our teeth or doing homework. We text in class, on our way to class, when we’re with friends, while driving (which I don’t condone!). We text when we probably shouldn’t be texting. What we might not realize, however, is that it can get us into some trouble and come across as impolite, and occasionally even unprofessional.

Just as a refresher, let’s go over the top 5 situations in which your phone would best be left turned off (or at least on silent) in your pocket. As they say, “out of sight, out of mind!”

During an Interview

Another situation in which you should probably not text: your wedding. Photo by Jeremy Atkinson.

In a CareerBuilder.com poll, employers said one of the top ten most common mistakes a person could make during an interview is either answering a phone call or texting. I know what you’re thinking: Who does that? But believe it or not, some people just don’t even think about the repercussions. So, if I may offer you a little piece of advice, don’t even think about it. It’s unprofessional and impolite. Interviews usually don’t last that long and I’m sure whoever texted you can wait.

At the Movies

As Anderson Cooper says, “Texting in a theater is like using a flare: people are going to see it!” In fact, in most theaters isn’t there an on-screen message before the movie that asks everyone to “please, silence your cell phones and refrain from texting during the movie”? I think so. Nobody wants to pay their $8-$10 only to repeatedly see the little glow of someone’s cell phone. If just have to text, step outside so you don’t bother everyone else.

With your Grandparents

It’s truly sad for me to go to a restaurant and, in the midst of people-watching, see a young person text in the presence of their grandparent(s). If you don’t live with your grandparents, chances are you don’t see them that often, so I’m sure you can afford to put away your phone for an hour or two to catch Grandma or Grandpa up on your grad plans.

While You’re On a Date

A lot of guys have told me that a turn off for them is when the girl they’re on a date with is texting. Even if it’s just for a second, it makes your date feel like you don’t value your time with them and/or you’re not having fun, and no one wants to be in that uncomfortable position. From my research, most people find it annoying and downright rude when their date would rather text instead of talk. If you want a second date, put your phone away.

On The Job

My heart has never pounded so hard before I got caught texting at work. Luckily, my boss didn’t fire me (or even give me a warning), but the fact that she saw me doing it was all the warning I needed! If the thought of losing your job doesn’t scare you, two years ago at a public pool in Arizona, a child almost drowned because the lifeguard was texting when he should’ve been paying attention. Luckily, a parent saw the child and rescued him. Suffice it to say, that lifeguard was fired.

Now that we’ve gone over text etiquette, I think it’s clear we’ve got a theme going here. In certain situations, texting can wait. If you know you’re going to be away from your phone for a bit, let whoever you’re texting know what’s up and that you’ll get back to them when you can!

And check out this article; it’s even bad to text and walk sometimes!

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iPhone 4S vs. Samsung Galaxy II

Filed under: All Things Tech - BookRenter Team
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By guest blogger Tiana Bouma
Tiana is a senior at University of Oregon double majoring in Political Science and Journalism with a focus in magazine. Her hometown is now Bend, OR but she graduated from high school in Danville, CA. After graduating from UO, she plans on traveling and working for National Geographic. During her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, sports and movies.

The smartphone battle continues to heat up as it seems a new phone comes on the market every few months. Sometimes it feels like every week.

Here’s a comparison of two of the hottest phones on the market, the iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy II:

Size

Photo by Brett Jordan

The Galaxy S II is one of the thinnest Androids out there, which is nice to hear. Although, it still doesn’t beat the size of the new iPhone. Overall, the Galaxy S II is considerably larger due to its display but beats out the iPhone in weight by .13 ounces.

Display

The Galaxy S II has a larger screen then the iPhone 4S by a full inch. However, the iPhone 4S boasts a better resolution than the Galaxy S II, which means a higher pixel density. Overall, the iPhone wins again but it is hard to choose between two awesome touchscreen displays.

Price

Now that’s a scary topic. The iPhone 4S will put you back $199 for the 16GB, $299 for the 32GB and $399 for the 64GB, but only for new contracts or those eligible for upgrades. Otherwise, price jumps between $600-800 depending on carriers and the GB. The Galaxy S II starts at $199.99 with AT&T and T-Mobile has it for $299.99. Sprint carries the Galaxy S II for the same price as AT&T with a new contract.

Camera and Video

Other than the awesome Siri, the biggest iPhone 4S upgrade is the rear-facing camera with a custom lens and f/2.4 aperture. The Galaxy S II camera matches the iPhone 4S and the details continue to be the same with an LED flash, auto focus and digital zoom. Video abilities are also neck-to-neck and both come with software for photo and video editing.

Battery Life

Photo by Fresh Fiber

Apple placed a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery into the new iPhone with a talk time of up to 8 hours on 3G. Standby time is up to 200 hours and audio playback is up to 40 hours. Internet usage is up to 6 hours on 3G. Samsung added a rechargeable 1850 mAH lithium-ion battery with a talk time that is pretty similar to the iPhone.

Winner

Honestly, as cliché as this may be, there was no apparent winner. Both the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S II sport the greatest and latest technology in terms of smartphones and they share a lot of the same features. Choosing from one of these phones really depends on whether you are an iOS or Android fan. Either way, this phone can keep you up to date on business when away from the office and can provide you with entertainment for hours. It’s a win all around!

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Tune In! BookRenter’s Ultimate Study Playlist

Filed under: College Life - BookRenter Team
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Exams. They’re a part of everyone’s college experience. So too… studying is a part of everyone’s day to day agenda, depending how thick in the semester you happen to be. Cramming for a test can be a drag. But there’s no reason you can’t stay groovy and entertain your ears while you hit the books!

Behold – BookRenter’s Ultimate Study Playlist! We’ve carefully selected a serving of sensational albums ranging from techno to tranquil, Dubstep to Debussy. Comes in flavors of Grooveshark or Spotify, depending on your music platform of choice.

So plug in your earbuds, hibernate under your headphones, or crank up the volume and let your speakers sing (just don’t violate any noise ordinances).

Happy studying :)

© Dmitry Naumov – Fotolia.com
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