Author Archives: Grammarai Warrior

mother and child in an office

Remote Working and Survival Tips for Parents With Young Children

The following is a guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez of Free-Lance-Now.com. If you enjoy this article by Lance, remember to check out his website for more great content like this!


As working from home has become more popular, there’s been a revolution in how people and organizations work. Presently, 26% of the American workforce works from home. However, working from home can be challenging because of distractions and family responsibilities. Here, Grammarai Warrior provides tips on how to work remotely and manage your parental responsibilities if you have young children at home. 

Set Up a Convenient work space

Working from home requires maximum concentration and a distraction-free environment. Thus, dedicate an area of your house for your job. Find a spot that allows easy access to everything for working, such as sufficient lighting, electricity, chair, desk, and coffee. To do so, research online for tips on how to create a makeshift working space at home.

Additionally, wear comfortable clothing that allows you to balance any house chores and work without feeling frumpy. Certain clothing, including tunics, comfortable leggings, cardigans and breezy dresses will enable you to work and chase after children in the house.

Establish a Work Schedule 

After creating a suitable workspace, design a schedule that allows you to balance working and giving quality attention to the kids. Make sure you include time to clean, prepare meals, and read bedtime stories.

Below are some tactics to employ to have a more manageable working schedule.

  • Work with them. Allow the kids to help with simple activities like arranging files and adding sticky notes.
  • Shift working hours: Create flexible working hours by waking up earlier and doing some work before your toddler is awake, or working during their nap time. 
  • Take breaks: Include time in your working hours to clean the house and prepare meals for the kids, but also try to carve out time for real breaks.
  • Give them assignments: Provide light assignments or work when they’re done with their homework if they are school-aged kids. 

A thoughtful schedule ensures your work time is uninterrupted and the kids get maximum attention and care. 

What If I Want a Job? 

If you’re a stay-at-home parent who has been out of the workforce for a bit but wants to return while keeping up with the kids, there are plenty of opportunities out there. And you get to combine the best of both worlds: you can generate income while still spending time with your kids. This is a great option if you’re still unable to afford daycare or don’t want to go this route.

The job landscape may have changed since you were last working, so it’s important to carefully craft a new resume. The best way to do this affordably is with a free online resume builder. With this tool, you can customize and update your resume using professional designs that help you stand out in the crowd.

Balancing work and managing kids from home is essential if you have a remote job. Make sure you set up a functional workspace and create a practical schedule that works for everyone. If you’re ready to join the remote workforce, a stellar resume will help you find the ideal job so that you can generate an income while managing family obligations, and you’ll have these tips to help you stay sane.


Thanks for reading this guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez. Remember to give him a visit at Free-Lance-Now.com for more resources and posts like this one! You can also read previous guest posts by Lance right here!

Freelance Writing: Could This Be the Path You Have Dreamed Of?

The following is a guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez of free-lance-now.com. If you enjoy his writing, visit his website for more great articles like this one!


Whether you dream of working your way through school or a way to supplement your income post-graduation, freelance writing could be the path for you. According to research, freelance writers in certain niches made over $3,000 monthly, so the career can be lucrative. Here are ideas on how to get your freelance business going.

1. How to Find Training Courses

If you have never written for a paycheck or you want to take your writing game up to the next level, you may want to consider taking a training course. These can help you succeed as a professional writer and give you an understanding of what clients want. Freelance writing is a blanket term consisting of many types of content creation, so focusing on one type and developing your expertise with it can be beneficial. Training courses can help you understand one or more writing niches to enable you to increase your workload.

2. How to Find Freelance Opportunities

Self-employed writers are frequently on the hunt for new projects and clients. To land high-paying gigs, ensure that you have a strong portfolio. Show prospective customers that you are up to their challenge by providing proof. Keep some of your best work on hand to share readily with anyone who is thinking of hiring you. Further, providing testimonials of past happy customers shows that not only can you write but you can craft your words in accordance with the needs of your patrons.

In addition, there are numerous websites that help connect writers with companies or individuals that need their services. Try out several sites and see which is a good fit for you. 

3. How to Advertise Your Services

In today’s society, you will need to market yourself online in order to be successful. You can join social media groups for writers, connect with other freelancers and send cold emails to companies you think you could help with your expertise. Although connecting with others online is essential to a freelancer’s success, you can also attend local community events to make personal ties with others. 

4. How to Stay on Track with Deadlines

When juggling multiple clients and deadlines, it is easy to get off track quickly if you are not careful. Technology has made tracking your to-do list and income easier than ever. However, some writers prefer to stick with the tried and true paper calendar method. This can be easy for those who like a visual as you can place the calendar in plain sight where you can glance at it throughout the day.

5. How to Protect Your Interests and Get Paid

Many self-employed writing entrepreneurs choose to establish a formal business entity to protect their personal interests and minimize tax obligations for their earnings. You can choose from one of several types of legal entities. Forming a limited liability company provides several benefits such as tax advantages, less paperwork, flexibility, and reduced personal liability.

To ensure prompt payment, invoice clients immediately after completing a job and simplify billing terms. It’s also a good idea to give clients multiple payment options. You can create a branded invoice with an online invoice maker. Choose the template you favor and then edit it to include terms and your preferred font, background, and colors.

Becoming a freelance writer is entirely possible for those who set their minds to it. Whether you want to supplement your main income or find a way to work flexibly from home, you can make good money with a little research and a lot of effort.

Visit Grammarai Warrior for grammar lessons and resources and fun apparel!


Thanks for reading this guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez! Remember to visit him at free-lance-now.com for more great content!

Real Ways You Can Make a Difference in Your Community

The following is a guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez of free-lance-now.com. Visit his website for freelancing tips and resources and more great articles like this one!


While you may have a deep, personal passion for caring for others, it can be hard to figure out the best way to make a difference in the surrounding community. Grammarai Warrior presents the following guide to help anyone who wants to make a positive impact in their area.

Community-Focused Careers

What better way to combine your passion with your work? You can make a living by making a difference. There are many options; all you need is a little drive, focus and creativity. The following suggestions can open you up to a whole new world of possibilities.

  • Working as a teacher can help you build up the next generation. If you’re looking for a career change, consider a fast-track program.
  • Looking to take on a major role in your community? Consider running for office.
  • You can even start your own business with a mind to hire locally or to give a portion of your proceeds to a community cause.

Volunteering

There’s no better way to put feet to your public spirit and social conscience than volunteering your time and resources to a worthy endeavor. Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose, and it’s also a way to get to know your fellow citizens. Here are some ways to make your impact in your spare time.

  • Volunteering helps your community and improves your mental health.
  • Looking for something less structured? Consider bringing trash-pickup items on your next walk and tidying your neighborhood.
  • If STEAM projects are more your leaning and you aren’t sure where to start, check in with local observatories, code camps, and even the National Weather Service; if you’re a weather junkie, you can teach kids about meteorology by doing a little storm spotting.

Using Your Voice

Many people aren’t aware of the issues facing the world today. Maybe you’re the one to inform your community about current events, whether they’re hot-button topics or not. Here’s how to use your voice effectively.

Ultimately, you should focus on finding ways to make the most of your strengths. You have unique skills, interests, and talents that can make a big difference for those around you. We hope this article inspires you to get started on your journey toward helping your community thrive.

Photo credit: Pexels


If you enjoyed this guest article by Lance, visit him at free-lance-now.com for more great content and resources for freelancers and digital nomads!

The First Steps of Starting a Green Business

The following is a guest post by Virginia Cooper of learnaliving.co. Check out her website or get in touch for more business and education ideas!


If you’re an entrepreneur and love the planet, then ecopreneurship could be the perfect fit! As with any type of business, however, starting a green business is not easy. You must be willing to put in the hard work and preparation while staying true to your environmental convictions. But the reward you will receive as you see tangible results will make it all worthwhile. Consider these tips and resources as you make a plan for your first green business!

Learn the Basics of Ecopreneurship

Let’s start with the basics. Here are some essential responsibilities to expect as an ecopreneur:

  • Constantly consider how you can benefit the environment in every aspect of your operations.
  • Also, always look for new opportunities to help your community members and the community at large.
  • As much as possible, develop a supply chain of eco-conscious organizations and individuals.
  • Remain cognizant of how you can boost your profits so that you can keep propelling your mission forward!

Think Like a Business

Along with maintaining a heightened sense of the environment and social factors in your community, you will need to handle all the tasks that come with operating a small business:

  • Create a thorough business plan that details your mission statement, core values, financial projections, funding requirements, marketing strategies, and more.
  • Come up with a creative business name that fits your goals and offerings as a business.
  • Establish a legal structure for your organization. You’ll need a Tax ID Number from the IRS for banking. Many new businesses choose to register as an LLC as this entity protects personal assets.
  • Develop branding (e.g., logo, colors, typography) that sets your business apart from others.

Explore Your Options

Finally, if you’re not settled on the type of business you want to start, consider these trending green business ideas:

  • Start a green cleaning service that works on residential and commercial properties.
  • Provide landscaping services to homeowners and businesses using native plants and trees.
  • Make organic beauty products to sell online and/or locally.
  • Combat fast fashion by opening a sustainable clothing brand or store.

There are countless ways to contribute to a healthier environment and community by becoming an ecopreneur. Remember to learn the essential aspects of running a green business, and don’t cut any corners when laying the groundwork. In no time, you’ll be on your way to making the world a more sustainable place for future generations!

This article is brought to you by Grammarai Warrior. For more information, please visit our website or contact us today!


If you enjoyed this guest post, don’t forget to check out Virginia’s website for more great content like this!

Affordable and Educational Gifts for Children that Don’t Include Screens

The following is a guest post by Joyce Wilson of TeacherSpark.org. Visit her blog for more great articles and teaching ideas!


Many children spend a lot of time playing video games and watching television these days, and it can be a real challenge to get them interested in anything else. We don’t want them to be bored, but it is natural to want to give gifts that move them away from screens, since as ParentMap notes, too much use can be bad for them. Luckily, many educational gifts that are reasonably priced are easy to find. Here are some simple, budget-friendly suggestions courtesy of Grammarai Warrior.

Encourage Artistic Expression

Encouraging children to express themselves artistically has many emotional benefits and it doesn’t cost a lot of money to foster their natural talents. Art supplies like acrylic paint, brushes and a canvas or two make an excellent gift combination for youngsters. Other good options include modeling clay, charcoal pencils, watercolors, and calligraphy sets. Even simple coloring books and crayons can offer hours of creative fun.

Music is another form of artistic expression that can draw a child away from the lure of screens. Although a new musical instrument can be a big investment, a used one can be purchased from online sites like eBay or Etsy. As an example, a keyboard is relatively easy to learn and is a good way for a child to start making music. Be sure to throw in a book of easy-to-master songs and a pair of noise-canceling headphones to round out the gift.

Hands-On Education

Children love watching things grow and learning how substances react. A biology lab kit can be assembled by buying seeds, growing medium, and a few pots. Try to choose plants that grow relatively quickly like marigolds or beans so the whole operation won’t be abandoned. If your child is hooked on science, chemistry sets provide hours of interesting activity for children while teaching them about experimentation. Select one that is age-appropriate and meets your price point.

Another inexpensive hands-on learning toy is a set of building blocks like Legos and other creative construction toys. Parenting Science points out there is ample evidence that construction play encourages problem-solving as well as language, spatial, and motor skills. You can start with a simple set that can be added on to as the child’s ability to build expands. And you might be surprised to learn that if you visit Lego’s website, you can often find sales on their products.

For the Bookworms

Books never go out of style. Consider popular nonfiction titles or even a series of books. Many bookstores, whether online or not, have members’ clubs that offer discounts and special rates.

Also, consider shopping second-hand bookstores for first-edition classic titles or gently used selections. If you have an e-reader, download some freebies. With endless options on every topic imaginable, books are the perfect way to expand your child’s horizons and help them learn.

Family and Social Interactions

Meaningful interactions with family and friends are the best way to get children interested in leaving the world of their screens behind. Consider games and puzzles to brighten your child’s day, enjoy more family time, and, of course, keep them off the electronics.

Puzzles are both fun and challenging mental exercise and can be a super low-cost gift. A jigsaw puzzle of the world, for instance, is an excellent gift for helping kids to learn geography. Several puzzle books like crossword and word search are also a good choice. Finally, board games can teach a variety of skills like counting, spelling and even real estate.

Another activity you can do with your kids is to teach them about the practical skills you demonstrate at home everyday. You can talk to them about doing things with you around the house. You can ask them to help you cook lunch, tend to the garden, or wash the car. If they’re interested you can check different websites, and look at some project that you can do together.

Deciding on a screen-less gift for your child doesn’t have to be a difficult or impossible decision. Children love learning, creating and moving, so all of these options should provide a great first step. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and don’t forget to take advantage of online opportunities to help you save money.

Grammarai Warrior offers inspirational tips and free grammar resources. Check out our store or contact us today!


If you enjoyed this article by Joyce Wilson, get in touch with her and check out all of her content at TeacherSpark.org for more helpful information and inspirational teaching ideas!

a teacher speaking to his class

Teaching: A Calling Not Just A Career

The following is a guest post by Susan Good of RetiredEducator.org. Visit her blog for more great articles like this one!


Teachers are more than educators. They are community leaders and are largely responsible for shaping what our world will look like in the future. If you are thinking about stepping into the classroom, keep reading as the Grammarai Warrior blog covers the basics on how to become a teacher.

Traits of a teacher

Not just anyone can be a teacher. You must be highly organized with the ability to give clear and concise directions to a group of people with varying skills and knowledge levels. If you choose to work at the elementary level, you also need to be exponentially patient and understand that kids must burn energy and question authority. A great teacher will have an astounding sense of humor and be a perpetual optimist.

Educational requirements

If you believe you have what it takes, the next step is to evaluate your dedication to your education. The vast majority of teaching positions in the United States require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. You should know, however, that earning your master’s degree (there are plenty of programs available online) opens up other opportunities. For example, you could potentially become a lead educator or administrator earlier in your career than with a bachelor’s alone. Once you are done with your education, you will need to take an educator certification test and pass a background check.

Ongoing training

Even though you will spend the vast majority of your time in front of a class, you will also find yourself on the other side of learning more often than you may expect. After you finish your student teaching, you will be required to complete ongoing professional development. Many enthusiastic teachers are given opportunities to further advance their teaching skills by visiting other schools — many of which, like the Ron Clark Academy, have a reputation for innovative teaching styles that cater to at-risk youth.

The rewards

There are obvious rewards to being a teacher. One is that you get to shape the leaders of the future. But as educational technologies company Shmoop explains, you will also learn while you earn. If impacting the future and enhancing your own knowledge base isn’t enough, think of all of the funny moments that you’ll have in the classroom — both because of the students and your sense of humor, which will grow out of necessity. Further, you get to work with other men and women who have similar goals as your own, and you’ll form a network of friends that will quickly grow outside of work.

The money

Very few teachers start their careers because of the money. Depending on where you live, you can expect a starting salary of $32,000 or less. Some higher-paying teachers in states like New York and Massachusetts easily top out at $75,000 or more. According to Niche, the average teacher in the US makes around $58,950 per year.

Being a teacher is a calling just as much as it is a career. For all of its positives, teachers are sadly overlooked and underappreciated. There may be days when you want to throw in the proverbial towel. But remember: The work you do now will have a long-lasting impact. The students you teach today hold tight to the lessons you’ve taught long after you retire, and they will take these with them into their adult lives. As a teacher, you are important, you matter, and you make a difference — and you can’t put a price on that.


If you enjoyed this article by Susan Good, check out more of her content at retirededucator.org! Whether you’re a professional educator, a parent, or a lifelong learner, you’re sure to benefit from her wealth of knowledge and practical teaching advice gained from thirty-eight years of teaching experience.

a laptop on a desk

What to Consider When Buying a Computer

Buying a new computer is a big and expensive decision. There’s a lot of research to do and many factors and specifications to consider. I recently bought a new laptop that I’m quite happy with, but it was quite the job to choose the right one. In this article I’ll discuss the details that affected my decision and the important things to keep in mind when selecting a new computer.

Portability

Most of use end up doing a lot of computing on the go these days. We need to be able to do our work at home, at school, or anywhere else we go to get things done. If extreme portability is a big deal to you, you may want to consider a small laptop with an 11- or 13-inch display, or even a tablet. These days even small laptops and tablets are available with some powerful specifications. Just keep in mind that choosing high portability might mean compromising on things like screen size and durability. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that can handle CPU-intensive software, you may have to sacrifice some portability.

Durability

Depending on where you find yourself using your laptop, durability might be crucial. If you teach young kids or have some of your own, you might need a fairly rugged laptop, or else a good protective case or sleeve for it. Keep in mind that the most durable laptops are not generally the most sleek or portable.

Battery Life

Battery life can be a tricky and fickle thing to manage. Thankfully we usually have plenty of places to plug in, but some of us need a device that will last all day, so we don’t have to carry a charger around everywhere. If you are in the latter camp, you may have to compromise on other specifications like screen resolution, size, and processing power or else adjust settings to minimize battery usage. Some people also like to purchase an extra battery or two in case they run out of juice with nowhere to recharge.

Hard Drive

There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to the hard drive. First you need an idea of how much memory you need on your device. If you need to store a lot of files and data directly on your device, you may need a few hundred gigabytes or more. If you can keep most of your files in cloud storage and only keep what you currently need on your device’s hard drive, then you can likely get by with a small hard drive and save yourself a sizable sum.

The second thing to keep in mind with the hard drive is the type of hard drive you want. Computers used to use hard disk drives (HDDs), but now the computing world is moving toward solid-state drives (SSDs), which are much faster but also more expensive. There are also hybrid drives (SSHDs) that try to combine the two to offer quick access to frequently used files on a small portion of SSD memory while also providing plenty of storage capacity with a large portion of HDD memory at a lower price than an SSD of the same size. An SSHD can be a good compromise to save some money if you only use a few of the same applications most of the time, but to really future-proof your laptop and get the best performance out of it for years to come, an SSD is the best choice.

RAM

RAM (random-access memory) is where your computer temporarily stores the information for apps and programs you are currently using or will likely use in the near future. The more RAM, the more things your computer can handle at once. For a good all-around experience, 8GBs of RAM should be plenty. If you only do basic tasks like browsing the web and using common office applications, you could even save some money and do just fine with 4GBs of RAM. However, 8GBs of RAM is probably a preferable minimum if you want to future-proof your device and multi-task more effectively. Keep in mind that having more RAM than you will actually use does not boost your computer’s performance. Unused RAM is wasted money. Unless you’re getting into gaming and other RAM-heavy operations, you probably won’t need more than 8GBs of RAM.

Processor

The processor is the brain of your computer and has a lot to do with your computer’s speed and power. For most average computer users, an affordable processor like an Intel Core i3 is plenty. Unless you’re into gaming, editing videos, 3D animation, or some other kind of CPU-intensive work, you really don’t need to spend a lot of money on a more powerful processor. If you do need a little more processing power than a Core i3 offers, then moving up to a Core i5 might be worth considering. The two big companies in the realm of processors are Intel and AMD. For basic computing needs, you can’t really go wrong with an Intel Core or comparable AMD Ryzen processor.

Ports

It’s important to consider all the things you might need to plug in to your computer before you buy one. You’ll of course need to be able to plug in some USB peripherals and memory devices, so it’s best to have at least one USB 3.0 port. There is also a trend moving toward the use of USB-C. To future-proof your laptop and ensure you are able to connect to the latest USB-C devices and peripherals without having to buy additional dongles and adapters, it is wise to make sure your device has at least one USB-C port. With the USB-C trend, many manufacturers are starting to leave out other ports like the standard headphone jack on their devices as well.

If you often connect to another screen or projector for presenting slides and videos, it’s also a good idea to have a full-size HDMI port. Be aware that there are several sizes of HDMI cables and ports. Unless you have specific reasons or devices in mind for wanting a smaller HDMI port, make sure you’re looking for a full-size (type A) HDMI port.

If you take a lot of pictures or videos on a camera, you might also consider looking for an SD card port. With most other media and software available for download from websites and app stores these days, you likely won’t need a CD/DVD drive anymore. If you really need one, you may have to sacrifice some other ports and portability. Otherwise, you could always consider getting an external CD/DVD drive.

Depending on what you need, you might not be able to find the perfect computer with every single port you would like. Carefully consider the ports you need the most and remember you can always find an adapter or two for the rest.

Connectivity

For the most part, you’ll probably be using Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. However, if you travel frequently to places without Wi-Fi, you may want to look for a device with a SIM card slot so you can stay connected even without Wi-Fi. It’s also good to have a device with Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth allows you to connect many devices like mouses, keyboards, and speakers wirelessly. You can also use Bluetooth to tether your device to your phone or tablet to borrow its network connection when Wi-Fi is unavailable.

Keyboard

The smaller the device you are looking for, the more limited the keyboard is likely to be. Small devices will not have room for things like a separate number pad. Some small devices may even have cramped keyboards that are not as comfortable to type on. If you do much typing, you should at least get a laptop with a normal keyboard size and layout. The look, feel, and sound of a keyboard are things you can adjust to, but a cramped keyboard is plain uncomfortable and could also be bad for your hands.

Trackpad

Like the keyboard, the look and feel of the trackpad is largely a matter of personal preference. Most standard trackpads will get the job done fine, but if you’re picky about your track pad experience, you might have to spend more money for a laptop with a glass trackpad. If a fancy trackpad isn’t a big deal to you or you plan on using a mouse most of the time anyway, you can save some time and money by not worrying about the trackpad too much.

Display

The display is one of the most important things to consider when buying a laptop because it’s what you’ll be looking at most of the time. For basic computing tasks, you shouldn’t need a ridiculously expensive display. Most laptop computers come with practical displays that will suit your basic needs. Unless you plan on editing photos and videos, watching lots of movies, or playing video games, you shouldn’t need a high-end display. Higher-resolution displays drain your battery faster, so unless you have a real need for such a power-hungry screen, you’re better off saving your money or at least turning down the resolution settings until you have a real use for it.

The size of the display is also very important to consider. If portability is a top priority, then you might want a smaller screen, which could also help with battery life. If you like having multiple apps and windows open for multitasking, you may prefer to have a larger screen. Large 15- or 17-inch laptops can be a bit bulky and precarious, so you might consider compromising with a more reasonable 14-inch screen. Some people also find it useful to invest in a second portable monitor.

The final thing to consider regarding the display is whether or not you want a touchscreen. Touchscreens might be a bit more expensive, but they open up a variety of possibilities and allow you to rely less on a trackpad or mouse. Before deciding on a touchscreen, you should also consider what kind of peripherals you might want to use with it. If you like to use styluses or pens, be sure that they are compatible with your device.

Configuration

Laptops are no longer limited to the standard clamshell configuration. Screens can now be flipped, folded, and rotated in all directions on certain laptops and 2-in-1 devices. For basic tasks, such flexibility might not be necessary, and you can save some money by getting a standard laptop. If you want the power of a full-sized laptop and the flexibility and interactivity of a tablet, you might consider getting a foldable 2-in-1 or a detachable.

Price

As I’ve already hinted at, for basic computing needs, you shouldn’t have to spend a ton of money for a decent laptop. Understand what you really need and decide what things you are willing to compromise on. Also remember that in seeking to save money, there are some levels you still might not want to stoop to. There are plenty of great and competitive manufacturers out there who make practical laptops at affordable prices. However, it’s still important to do your research and stay away from brands and companies you’ve never heard of or who offer deals that seem too good to be true.

Many people buy overpowered computers with specs they don’t use because they don’t understand how little computing power they actually need for the simple tasks they do. Others buy a fancy computer for the “wow factor” or a brand name they like without understanding what they are actually paying for. This problem seems particularly true of Mac users for some reason. Many people spend around $1,000 dollars on a basic MacBook Air when they could get a better-suited and more flexible PC for much less. While others overpay for more computer than they need, Apple fans seem uniquely eager overspend in return for less than they could be getting. That’s not to say that Apple doesn’t make some great computers. They definitely do, but it’s important to be aware of what you’re getting and consider how important looks and brand names are to you.

Operating System / Ecosystem

Apple

If you are a diehard Apple fan and/or have more money than you know what to do with, then the Apple ecosystem is a fantastic option. Many people love the seamless connection between all their Apple devices. Another benefit of Apple is that, since they make their own devices and their own operating system, their devices are extremely well optimized to make the best and most efficient use of their hardware possible.

The Apple ecosystem has a lot to offer, but it can also be very restrictive. Apple doesn’t play nicely with others, so many Apple products are only compatible with other Apple products. Those who invest in Apple devices often become trapped in the Apple ecosystem because they don’t want to buy another device that wouldn’t be compatible with their other Apple devices or lose money by switching to a different operating system that would render all their Apple peripherals useless paperweights.

In addition to the risk of being trapped in the expensive and restrictive Apple ecosystem, it’s also important to remember that customer service and repair options are limited. Apple is very picky about who can repair their devices and order the necessary parts to do so. Any attempt to repair or modify an Apple device on your own or through an unauthorized technician voids your warranty. There are also many horror stories about Apple repair technicians declaring devices unrepairable or too expensive to be worth repairing, leaving customers out hundreds or thousands of dollars, when in fact the issue could have been fixed. These problems are actually how businesses like iFixit and Rossman Repair Group make quite a bit of their income. Apple offers some impressive tech, but you really have to be willing to pay for it and play by their rules.

Another thing to keep in mind if you’re considering Apple is that you will need a lot of adapters and dongles. Apple is famous for their minimalist approach to things, which makes their devices look sleek and futuristic but also severely limits your port options, forcing you to buy adapters and dongles for anything that doesn’t have a USB-C plug.

Google

Google’s Chrome OS is a good option for basic computing needs. Chromebooks are some of the cheapest and most portable devices available. There are also higher-end models such as the Pixelbook available if you’re willing to pay. A benefit of Chrome OS is that, like the Apple ecosystem, it connects your other Google devices smoothly within the Google ecosystem, while allowing you some flexibility regarding what kind of device you want. Plenty of manufacturers besides Google make Chromebooks with a variety of specifications to choose from.

The downside to Google is that, also like Apple, it is still restrictive. Chrome OS is not as fully featured as other operating systems and limits you to what is available on the Google Play Store. For basic office and browsing tasks, the Play Store should have all you need, but if you’re looking for more freedom and flexibility, then the Google ecosystem might not be for you.

Windows

Windows is a solid operating system. It’s available on all kinds of different devices by lots of different manufacturers. It’s also very popular, well-maintained, and well-documented, which makes help and support easy to come by. Since it’s so popular, there are nearly infinite applications available for just about anything you want to do.

One big reason many people preferred Apple over Windows was that Apple devices could connect so seamlessly for applications like iMessages, but now the same functionality and more is available on Windows as well through the Your Phone app and apps by other manufacturers for their Windows devices such as the Dell Mobile Connect app.

While Microsoft offers plenty of its own paid apps and features, there are plenty of other free alternatives. Choosing a Windows device also does not entrap you in a Microsoft ecosystem. Windows is a great choice for a combination of stability and standardization combined with the freedom to customize and explore without overpaying or being trapped within one company’s restrictive ecosystem.

Linux

If you are familiar with Linux, then you are probably tech-savvy enough that I don’t need to explain it to you. For those of you who haven’t used it before, Linux might present a challenge and come with a steep learning curve.

Technically, Linux is not an operating system but a kernel upon which many operating systems are based. All of these free and open source operating systems are referred to as Linux operating systems because they are all based on the Linux kernel. Even Chrome OS and Android are Linux-based operating systems.

One of the greatest things about Linux is that it is free. There are tons of Linux operating systems—called distributions or “distros” for short—to choose from. You can choose one and install it for free, or you can even make your own if you really know what you’re doing. Because it is open source, it is always growing and improving and has plenty of support and documentation available from a worldwide community of users and developers. Linux is extremely powerful and presents nearly limitless possibilities, but it is also difficult to get into and master.

Because Linux is so technical and not as mainstream as other operating systems, fewer popular apps and games are available for Linux, although many developers are already beginning to address these limitations. There are plenty of free alternative apps available for Linux though, and you can still do most of the same things you would on other operating systems if you know what you’re doing. However, as mentioned before, there is quite a learning curve, and you might have to give up some of the popular apps you’re used to using on Apple or Windows devices until more mainstream users and developers embrace Linux.


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roasted coffee beans

Why You Should Quit Coffee

I know it sounds terrible, but hear me out. Do you really need coffee? Some of you just gave an emphatic and whole-hearted YES! before you even finished reading the question, but let’s stop and be honest with ourselves. Why do we even like it so much? Some coffee tastes pretty good, but some of us don’t even drink it for the taste. For a lot of people, coffee is an acquired taste. For one reason or another, many of us made ourselves like it. Some of us probably started drinking it because we wanted the caffeine boost. Others of us started drinking it because it was cool or popular, and we didn’t want to feel left out. To be blunt though, neither of those are good reasons to obsess over a drink.

Don’t be a coffee snob.

The coffee shop culture is what started turning me off about coffee at first. I used to be pretty interested in coffee. I started drinking it in high school and really got into it in college where two good friends of mine worked in coffee shops and further encouraged my caffeine craze. Things only got worse when I moved to a new job where I worked with some serious coffee drinkers. My coworkers were the kinds of coffee “connoisseurs” who took pride in tasting the difference between an average cup of joe and high-quality coffee. While my friends and coworkers were otherwise wonderful people, seeing how proudly addicted to coffee they were made me realize that I had been on the brink of becoming what I call, for lack of a better term, a coffee snob.

By coffee snob, I mean the kind of person who goes out of his way to let you know that he has a refined coffee palette. I mean the kind of person who takes pride and sometimes might even seem boastful about his addiction to coffee. Coffee snobs are the kind of people who “can’t live without their morning cup of coffee.” They are the cringy hipsters wearing beanies and giant headphones and sipping overpriced coffee in some no-name café while they shop for more plaid flannels from a brand you’ve never heard of on their MacBooks.

Okay, they don’t all look like that, but you know who I’m talking about. And while I was never really in danger of becoming one of those people, I realized that I had been in danger of foolishly obsessing over something that wasn’t important.

If you’re a coffee snob, allow me to be blunt and give you some tough love here. You’re not that cool, and no one is impressed by your refined taste for exotic toasty bean water. Coffee is just that. It’s toasty bean water, and while it may taste good, it’s not something you should be finding your cultural or social identity in. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a nice hot cup of bitter brown bean sludge once in a while, but don’t let it be more important to you than it should be. Coffee is just a beverage.

Get more sleep!

Drinking coffee for the caffeine boost is at least understandable. We wake up early and we feel groggy, so caffeine seems like a good fix. We get sleepy at work around 2 pm, so another cup of coffee seems like an effective way to get through the rest of our shift.

But after a while, we build a tolerance for caffeine, which means we need more coffee to get the same stimulating effect. We create a vicious cycle in which we constantly feel a need for coffee and continue to waste more time and money on feeding our caffeine addiction. We end up trapped wasting our money on coffee we never would have needed if we had just slept enough in the first place. Coffee is not a healthy way to deal with our sleepiness. The real ground-breaking solution is to get enough sleep.

Adequate sleep is crucial for all areas of mental and physical health. Forget what Arnold Schwarzenegger said about sleeping faster or what your favorite politician or business tycoon claimed about doing just fine on four to six hours of sleep. Sleep is vital to our health. No one is immune to the detrimental effects of inadequate sleep or the long-term damage it has on our minds and bodies, and no amount of coffee can prevent or reverse the damage caused by inadequate sleep.

Caffeine does not actually help you in the long term. It makes you feel temporarily more alert by preventing your brain from receiving adenosine, the chemical that makes you feel sleepy. Normally, adenosine slowly builds up in your brain throughout the day. The more the adenosine builds up in your brain, the sleepier you feel. Adenosine in conjunction with your circadian rhythm should keep you on a good, natural sleep schedule.

Caffeine keeps you awake by blocking your brain’s adenosine receptors so that adenosine cannot gradually build up in your brain and make you feel sleepy. In the mean time, adenosine is still being produced but has nowhere to go since the caffeine is blocking its receptors. Later, when your body processes the caffeine, the receptors it was blocking are suddenly wide open, and the adenosine that previously had nowhere to go floods in and causes the crash you feel after the coffee wears off.

How quickly or slowly a person’s body processes caffeine is largely up to genetics. Thus some people seem almost immune to the effects of caffeine and can sleep like a baby after having coffee only an hour before bedtime, while others might not be able to sleep after a cup of coffee they had several hours before bedtime. If your body processes caffeine slowly, then the coffee you drink throughout the afternoon could be one of the reasons you don’t get adequate sleep.

When we understand what coffee does to our brains, we can see that it is not a wise solution to sleepiness. It does not deal with the root cause of our fatigue and can often end up making things worse by creating a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation, overcompensation, and caffeine dependency. If you’re interested in the importance of sleep and the effects of caffeine on the body, I highly recommend the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.

Save yourself some cash.

I’m not one of those guys trying to sell you a book about how giving up your daily latte will make you a millionaire, but giving up coffee actually can save you some cash. If you’re an avid coffee drinker who buys a cup at Starbucks every morning, you could save a lot of money each month by forgoing the fancy brew. You spend more on coffee by getting it from a café than you would by brewing it at home or using up the Folger’s in the breakroom at work. Even a plain cup of black coffee can cost several dollars at a café. Multiply that by about twenty workdays per month, and you’re talking some serious cash.

The expense of making coffee at home also adds up fast. Considering the cost of coffee and creamer these days, most of us could probably save a solid twenty to fifty dollars per month by quitting coffee altogether.

How do I quit coffee?

If you are thinking about quitting or cutting back on coffee consumption, you might be in for a bit of a challenge. If you’re addicted to caffeine, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms by quitting cold turkey. It’s important to know yourself and accept your weaknesses before you try to quit or cut back. Some people might have the self-control and willpower to cut back a little at a time. Others would be better off quitting cold turkey because they would be too tempted to give in and brew a pot of coffee every time they feel a craving for it.

If you know you don’t have the self-control to drink coffee in moderation, I recommend quitting cold turkey. One good way to stay motivated is to visualize your progress by crossing off each day on a calendar or planner. You might also consider keeping a journal of the challenge and how you’re improving. It’s also helpful to create accountability by telling friends and family that you’re cutting back or quitting coffee. Decide on some consequences you agree to pay if you fail. Make a post on your blog or social media account to hold yourself accountable to your followers. And most importantly, eliminate temptation by removing coffee from your home.

If you have sufficient self-control, then you might be able to cut back incrementally. I started cutting back on coffee by limiting myself to one cup each day. I failed here and there, especially if a coworker brought coffee for everyone, but most of the time it wasn’t very hard to limit myself to one cup per day. After surviving one a cup a day for a while, I decided that once the bag of coffee in my kitchen ran out, I just wouldn’t buy any more.

I’m not writing this article to say that coffee is terrible and that no one should ever drink it. I still enjoy a good cup of coffee myself, but I don’t think that it’s wise or healthy to be addicted to it. A lot of us would benefit from taking a good honest look at ourselves, our health, the things we value, and the kind of performance we should expect of ourselves and to what extent we should allow a simple beverage to control our lives.


What do you think about coffee culture? Please feel free to share your opinions and coffee quitting anecdotes too!

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Roman architecture

The Benefits of Studying Latin

Latin may be a dead language, but it is not useless or irrelevant. For years the study of Latin was common practice in schools and colleges for good reason. Though Latin is no longer a requirement in most schools or college majors, the study of Latin still has benefits, no matter what discipline one might be studying. The study of Latin sharpens the mind and enriches a good education in other areas of study.

The study of Latin enriches a student’s education through its deep connections to history, philosophy, and culture. Many great Roman thinkers, scholars, and writers recorded their works in Latin. Roman thinkers had great influence on other peoples, languages, and legal systems, including America’s: “Our own culture, including our system of government, architecture, art and religion, shows the heavy influence of Rome.”[1] Studying Latin gives a student a better appreciation and understanding of these ancient scholars, their works, and their enduring influences in today’s world. As Claude Pauver observes, “You don’t just read about Seneca or Caesar; you read the words of Seneca and Caesar themselves.”[2] The study of Latin gives a student a deeper understanding and appreciation of influential Latin works by enabling him to study works in their original language. Latin’s historical and cultural roots improve a student’s understanding and appreciation of ancient literary works and their influence on world history and culture.

Studying Latin also improves a student’s study of English and foreign languages. An understanding of Latin improves a student’s study of grammar and expands his vocabulary. According to the University of Illinois, “Students of Latin see immediate benefits to their spoken and written English. More than 65% of English words come from Latin.”[3] Studying Latin improves a student’s understanding and use of the English language. Pauver asserts that after studying Latin, “you don’t just speak your own modern language unreflectively, but you learn where much of it came from, after actually seeing the contents and the workings of one of its greatest sources.”[4] These benefits are not only gained by English speakers, but also by speakers and learners of other foreign languages that have Latin roots and influences, such as French and Spanish. An understanding of Latin enhances a student’s study and comprehension of English and other languages that are derived from and influenced by Latin.

In addition to improving a student’s understanding and appreciation of history and languages, the study of Latin also sharpens a student’s mind for better mental performance in general, no matter what he is studying. Latin forces a student to stretch his mind and think in new ways, because it is difficult and takes discipline to learn. The mind is like a muscle: it improves as one uses it and wrestles with new and difficult concepts. With these facts in mind, Sal Khan asserts that “our intelligence is not fixed, and the best way that we can grow our intelligence is to embrace tasks where we might struggle and fail.”[5] Wrestling with a difficult subject like Latin forces a student’s mind to grow and improve for better function in any field of study. By sharpening a student’s mind, studying Latin can enhance performance in all his academic endeavors.

Despite being a dead language, Latin continues to offer multiple benefits. An understanding of Latin improves a student’s understanding and appreciation of many ancient works and other areas of study, and it stretches and sharpens a student’s mind for increased function in any other mental undertaking. Even in the modern world, the study of ancient Latin has limitless benefits.


Interested in studying Latin? Get started with a popular textbook like Wheelock’s Latin or Latin for Dummies!

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[1]. Department of the Classics, “Why Study Latin?”, University of Illinois, accessed April 5, 2020, https://classics.illinois.edu/admissions/why-study-latin.

[2]. Claude Pauver, “Some Leading Benefits of Latin (and Classical) Studies, “Saint Louis University, 2009, accessed, April 5, 2020, https://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/pedagogy/latinbenefits.html.

[3]. Department of the Classics, “Why Study Latin?”, University of Illinois, accessed March 23, 2017, https://classics.illinois.edu/admissions/why-study-latin.

[4]. Claude Pauver, “Some Leading Benefits of Latin (and Classical) Studies, “Saint Louis University, 2009, accessed, March 23, 2017, http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/pedagogy/latinbenefits.html.

[5]. Sal Khan, “The learning myth: Why I’ll never tell my son he’s smart,” Khan Academy, accessed April 5, 2020, https://www.khanacademy.org/talks-and-interviews/conversations-with-sal/a/the-learning-myth-why-ill-never-tell-my-son-hes-smart.

a group of giraffes

Medieval Terms of Venery: Where We Get All Those Goofy Terms for Groups of Animals

Have you ever wondered why we use such strange terms for groups of different animals, or where these terms came from? Having so many ridiculous names for groups of animals might seem a little excessive or pointless, but they were originally coined with a purpose.

Words referring to groups of animals are called terms of venery, an old word for “hunting” derived from the Latin word venari, meaning “to hunt, or pursue.”​1 Although most terms of venery are largely unknown and unnecessary for most of us today, they were once part of Medieval hunting traditions, which included a plethora of specific terms for groups of animals. Considering the sheer number of terms and the arguable lack of practicality of such jargon, it is quite possible that many terms of venery may have been used more for academic purposes or as an indicator of one’s expensive education rather than for regular use among the common folk.​2 Even solitary animals that do not naturally form groups have their own special terms for no apparent reason other than to say they have one.

Terms of venery have been recorded in several notable works. One of the most famous books to include terms of venery is The Book of Saint Albans, also known as The Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Blasing of Arms, which was likely written by a highly educated prioress named Juliana Berners. Enthusiasts looking for a more modern collection of terms might also be interested in James Lipton‘s An Exaltation of Larks, which includes old terms of venery along with collective nouns for just about anything else imaginable.

Now that we know where all the strange animal terminology came from, let’s have a look at a few interesting and humorous names for groups of animals.

  • Apes: a “shrewdness” — A clever term for one of the more clever creatures of the animal kingdom.
  • Cats: A group of cats may be called a “clowder” or a “glaring.” The latter is easy to remember since cats have those big “glaring” eyes they always glare so disapprovingly at everyone with. A group of kittens is called a “litter” or a “kindle,” and a group of wild cats is aptly named a “destruction.”
  • Cockroaches: an “intrusion” — This might be the most fitting term on the list.
  • Crows: a “murder” — A fitting name and easy to remember considering their associations with death.
  • Flamingos: a “stand” or a “flamboyance” — Both of these words are very appropriate, but “flamboyance” has to be more fun to say. And what bird is more flamboyant than a bright pink flamingo?
  • Frogs: an “army” — Remember this one by thinking about the second of the ten plagues God sent on Egypt in Exodus 8. Egyptians saw frogs as a sign of fertility associated with their goddess Heqet. It’s interesting how God used their own idols and gods against them.
  • Giraffes: a “tower” — Never mind, this one might be more fitting than an intrusion of cockroaches.
  • Hippos: a “bloat” — They do look a little bloated.
  • Jellyfish: a “smack” — Should have been a “sting.” *Ba dum tss*
  • Komodo dragons: a “bank” — What creature has ever been better at guarding gold than dragons? From Beowulf to the The Hobbit, dragons have always been very stingy with their money.
  • Lemurs: a “conspiracy” — Makes sense. Their eyes make them look like they’re up to something.
  • Locusts: a “plague” — Another one to remember from the plagues on Egypt. This one begins in Exodus 10.
  • Monkeys: a “barrel” or a “troop” — So that’s why that game was called Barrel of Monkeys.
  • Owls: a “parliament” — This term is sensible given the owl’s association with wisdom and intelligence. It was probably meant to be a compliment to the owl to be associated with human politicians when the term was coined, but it might be more of an insult.
  • Penguins: A group of penguins on land may be referred to as a “colony,” a “rookery,” or a “waddle;” while a group of penguins floating in the water is called a “raft.”
  • Rattlesnakes: a “rhumba” — This one just makes me think of robot vacuum cleaners, which could be equally startling to unsuspectingly stumble upon.
  • Ravens: an “unkindness” — This name makes good sense since ravens have similar connotations to crows — not to mention how “unkind” their call is to the ears.
  • Seagulls: a “squabble” — Makes perfect sense, especially if you’ve ever seen seagulls “squabbling” for a piece of food.
  • Tigers: an “ambush” — “Ambush” is an accurate description of a tiger’s hunting methods, which often involve stalking its prey and hiding in the bushes before a swift surprise attack.
  • Toads: a “knot” — Toads are so lumpy that they do sort of bring to mind a knot in a tree or log.
  • Vipers: a “generation” — Brings to mind Matthew 23:33, where Jesus called out the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees and asked them, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
  • Vultures: A group of vultures is called a “committee” when resting, a “kettle” when in flight, and a “wake” when feeding. Since they feed on carcasses, “wake” is a very fitting term.
  • Worms: a “bunch” — I would have guessed “can.” Sorry, that was bad.
  • Zebras: a “zeal” — Not sure what zeal has to do with zebras, but at least both words start with Z for easy recollection.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this article. Share your favorite terms of venery in the comments below!

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1Douglas Harper, “Venery,” Online Etymology Dictionary, accessed March 21, 2020, https://www.etymonline.com/word/venery).

2​ Sarthak Chatterjee, “What Are the Origins of Bizarre Names for Animal Groups?,” Quora (Quora, May 24, 2015), https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-origins-of-bizarre-names-for-animal-groups?share=1).