Author: Paul Bass

The Best Documentaries on Netflix

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy learning new information in nice, digestible chunks. There’s nothing like a good documentary to make you feel productive while watching TV. If you feel the same, then I have great news for you! Netflix has a plethora of documentaries for you to watch and absorb passively on your couch. So sit back, relax, and grab your popcorn. We’re delving into the realm of documentaries!

American Anarchist - Documentaries

American Anarchist

It’s a story of passion, fervor, and regret. In 1971, William Powell authored one of the most controversial books ever written, The Anarchist Cookbook. The book contained instructions on how to make everything from weapons to illicit drugs. It quickly became the book of choice for social deviants, including terrorists and freedom fighters. But, after converting to Anglicanism in 1979, Powell devoted the rest of his life to making sure nobody ever reads his book again. This is his story.

cosmos - Documentaries

Cosmos

When you look up at the night sky, isn’t in wonderful? Have you ever wondered what’s up there and how it all works? Wonder no longer! Neil Degrasse Tyson is here to tell you in his classic dulcet tones. Cosmos succeeds in making its subject matter accessible with easy to understand examples and comparisons. It’s a very humbling documentary, reinforcing how small we really are in the face of the universe. We are all made of stardust, which is a pretty cool idea to ponder on.

Pumping Iron - Documentaries

Pumping Iron

If you’re at all interested in bodybuilding as a sport, this is the documentary for you. Originally released in 1977, this film follows Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno as they vie for the title of most aesthetic man alive. Pumping Iron pulls back the curtain on how the sport is fraught with body image issues and subjectivity in judging. This documentary is also a deluge of information about Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno. It’s worth a watch if the sport even remotely interests you.

Do you have any favorite documentaries? Leave them in the comments below!

The Story of Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man

I absolutely love movies with behind the scenes special features. One of my favorite things is watching what goes into making a full length film. When I learned Spider-Man was not going to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it set off my spidey senses. What behind the scenes tomfoolery could cause the absence of such a beloved character?

The answer is a story as convoluted and odd as you’d probably guess. It finally culminates with the return of Spider-Man to the MCU this summer in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Marvel, Bankruptcy, and Spider-Man

Way back in the 90’s, there was a massive comic book boom due to inflating comic book values. People began to realize the rarity of old comics from the 40s and 50s, especially first editions. DC and Marvel both capitalized on this, printing millions of new comics and making collector’s editions as much as possible. Characters married each other left and right, superman died, it was a crazy time. It didn’t take long for people to realize the market was saturated.

The comic book boom ended shortly after and Marvel quickly encountered trouble. They were up to their eyeballs in debt from overprinting and underselling comics. The crash eventually caused Marvel to declare bankruptcy. As a result, the company desperately sold off movie rights to a number of characters. The rights to both Spider-Man and the X-Men properties passed though a number of companies, finally settling in the hands of Sony.

Sony’s Tragic Mismanagement

Sony handed the property rights to Sam Raimi after a number of failed attempts to bring Spider-Man to the big screen. Sam Raimi reimagined the web slinger in “Spider-Man”, directing both sequels in the series. The first two movies were massive hits! The third was a flop, both critically and commercially. Regardless, Sony allowed Raimi to move forward with a fourth movie slated for a 2011 release date. Unfortunately, Sony canceled the project due to creative differences.

Spider-Man underwent a reboot from Sony with the movie “The Amazing Spider-Man”. It became a cinematic hit and the studio decided to produce a sequel. However, this was the 5th Spider-Man movie in 10 years. Audiences became tired of the superhero, and having two reboots in 5 years is a tad confusing for the general public. The series ultimately ended before producing “The Amazing Spider-Man 3”.

The Return to Marvel

Possibly the only good thing to come out of the 2014 Sony email leaks was news about Spider-Man was returning to Marvel. Disney and Sony reached an agreement to allow the wall crawler to return to the big screen under the Marvel umbrella. However, the odds are stacked against Spider-Man Homecoming. As the third reboot in 15 years, audiences could have Spider-Man fatigue. For fans of the superhero, here’s to hoping that Spider-Man: Homecoming rises above the tangled web of past disputes and turns out to be a great film!

Balancing a Part Time Job on Campus

We all like making a little money on the side, but balancing a part time job and schoolwork is tough. Even for the best students, scheduling around classes and work shifts is a challenge. When academics get rough, oftentimes a job becomes a nightmare. But never fear! I’m here to give you some advice on how to manage your academics and your part time job at the same time.

Scheduling Your Time

Schedule everything! Make sure to use Google calendar as much as possible, scheduling everything from your workouts to your study times. By scheduling when you study, work out, and take breaks, you can prevent wasting time. Budgeting lets you know where your money is going. Scheduling lets you know where your time is going. By scheduling your time, you will stop having those days where it feels like you’re scrambling to get everything done. Below is an example of my Google calendar for a day earlier this year.

Balancing a Part Time Job

An example of my weekly calendar

Talking With Your Boss

Your boss is a person too, and they probably also had to juggle a million and one things in college. They get it, I promise. If you’re having an especially bad week, talk with your boss and ask if she can cut some of your shifts. If she can, she probably will. Employers know an unhappy employee is often a bad employee. If you feel uncomfortable about speaking to your manager, consider brushing up on your workplace communication skills starting with this article from Forbes. Should talking to your boss fail, you may be able to swap shifts with a fellow employee. Worst case scenario, they say no. Why not ask them before resigning yourself to a week of torture?

Balancing a Part Time Job

Treat Your Part Time Job Like a Class

Treat your job like any other class, in every possible sense. Don’t skip your job. Try to schedule your shifts the same way you would a class. Ask your manager if you can work at a consistent time every week. If possible, try to block it in with all your other classes. For instance, most of my shifts as a tour guide were right after my classes. I could get all my structured responsibilities out of the way early, and then have the afternoon to work out or do homework. By treating your job like a class, you’ll develop better professional habits and use your time more efficiently.

Do you have any tips on how to manage a job during the school year? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Keeping in Touch Over the Summer

It’s summer break! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you’re ready to make the most of it with your friends when it hits you… They’re all scattered across the four corners of the earth. Going to school with diverse people from different locations is great until it’s time for everyone to go back to their hometown. Missing the company of your friends is a struggle we all face over summer break. But never fear! Here are a few tips for keeping in touch over the summer:

Texting

For all the think-pieces written about how texting is killing our generation, overall it’s a positive thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should be texting your friends from school on your phone all the time. That’s a recipe for missing out on life. But some people anxiously feel they need to have a purpose for texting their friends before they can push send. However, receiving a text from your mates is almost always a welcomed surprise. If something reminds you of someone, shoot them a text! See a billboard for their favorite band? See that one food they love? See a friend from home you know they’d get along with? Shoot them a text! It’s easy to keep in touch by texting, But even better than a text is…

Snapchat

Snapchat, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of staying in touch over the summer. Snapchat will let you share what’s happening in your life, live and directly to your friends. They’ll be able to see your face, the world around you, your friends from home, and anything else you can find! The app includes great filters for making any occasion into a fun episode featuring your life. The platform is perfect for random, unpolished moments as well. When it comes to quick ways to show someone you’re thinking of them, you can’t go wrong with sending a snap!

Skype

We all know skype has some drawbacks, but even the most ardent critic of the program has to admit – it’s a wonderful free tool for keeping in touch with people. Skype is great for limiting data  usage when you’re connecting with a friend during their international vacation. Unlike Snapchat, there isn’t a limit on the length of video you share. Instead, you can actively video conference your friends anywhere in the world. Schedule a time each week (or more/less often, depending) and video conference with your friends for a bit. Texting is great, but actually seeing a person’s face and hearing them talk does wonders for strengthening a friendship.

Doing the same stuff

During the school year you have plenty to talk about with your friends. Unfortunately things change over the summer and once you’ve told each other how your week’s been, conversations can get a bit slow. The best solution to this is planning to do shared or similar activities, individually. You both might read the same book, watch the same TV show, or see the same movie! It gives a quick and easy topic to jump back to when the conversation gets a bit slow. In addition to discussing your experiences, you’ll have an opportunity to talk about and plan which activities you’d both be willing to try. Who knows, they may suggest something you’ve never thought of before!

Not having your friends around during summer break can leave you feeling lonely. Of course, nothing can really beat seeing someone in person, but hopefully these tips encourage you to use the technology you know and love to stay connected. On the upside, August is only a short three months away!

Transferring Schools: Should you, or Shouldn’t you?

Transferring Schools

Transferring schools. If these two words are causing an internal struggle, I’m here to help ease your decision fatigued brain. While transferring schools is a big step and should be carefully considered, I’ve laid out some of the largest reasons to consider and created a simple method for deciding.

The Pros and Cons to Transferring Schools

Let’s not kid ourselves, transferring schools could be awful. There are certainly downsides, including:

  1. Credits not transferring – There’s no guarantee your new school will accept your current credits. This may cause you to fall a full semester (or more) behind, delaying graduation.
  2. Increased debt – Between higher tuition rates, moving expenses, and higher living costs, your new college may leave you even more in debt.
  3. Leaving familiarity – There’s a sense of rightness found in friends and familiar landmarks. Having already left home once, leaving again could lead too feeling a sense of buyer’s remorse.
  4. Being the new kid – Incoming freshman experience the newness of college as a group, quickly establishing friendship circles that may last a lifetime. Even if you’re a social butterfly, it’s sometimes awkward to work your way into a friendship circle that’s already established.

But there are positive reasons people transfer, including:

  1. “Upgading” schools – You’re dedicated to your studies, but your college seems focused on weekend recreation. Upgrading to a more challenging school sounds appealing.
  2. Discovering your passion… is at another school – Finding out your preferred major isn’t available at your college is a crushing blow. It might be worth packing your bags.
  3. Personal growth – Your school is alright, but it’s feels like high school. You expected to blossom in college and lately it feels like you’re stagnate.

Deciding if Transferring is Best

We established the pros and cons of transferring, but when should you actually move forward with it? Well, I have a patented traffic light system to help you decide.

Green light – Transfer right now

  • Your school not only doesn’t offer your desired major, but it also doesn’t have the department which would house your dream major!
  • You chose your current school because of it’s prestige. However, it’s quickly racking up your student loan debt beyond what you might be able to repay. In many cases, employers aren’t concerned with how prestigious your college is. It’s time to make a change to a more affordable education.
  • You absolutely despise everything about your current school, from the academics to your so called “friends”. Cut your losses early and switch to a more suitable college.

Yellow light – Whoa there cowboy, let’s think about this first

  • You haven’t found a peer group or anyone you connect to- Yes, that is bad, but it’s possible you haven’t put yourself out there enough. Try joining a new club, who knows!
  • Your school doesn’t have the major you want, but it does have a vaguely similar one – Yes, I know chem and organic-chem aren’t the same thing. However, you may want to contact potential future employers to find out if this really makes a difference in your field. If it doesn’t, this be a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

Red light – Hold off for now

  • It’s the first few weeks of school and you hate it – Everyone can feel awkward or even awful the first few weeks. Allow some time for adjusting to your new lifestyle.
  • You feel graduation from a more prestigious school will increase your earning potential –
  • You really hate a specific class – All students face a challenging class in college. Whether it’s the professor or the content, learning how to overcome obstacles is an essential life lesson.

Transferring schools is a personal choice you should think carefully about before making a decision. It’s a semi-permanent choice that causes drastic changes in your life. Many people will have reasons to sway your decision, but remember it’s always up to the person transferring to chose.