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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Productive Things to Do on the Internet

It is quite easy to get distracted with technology, and the Internet is not helping. When I have some free time, it is easy to get caught up in the depths of Facebook, Youtube, or aimless social media. However, there are ways to be productive on the Internet! You could be helping out a nonprofit, educating yourself, or EVEN making money! Find out how below.

Do some good at Freerice.com
Freerice is an amazing organization that has set up a system to give rice to hungry families in third world countries. It simultaneously educates you by quizzing you in vocabulary, math, science, geography, art history, and more subjects.
How does it work? Basically, you are tested with multiple choice questions. For every answer you get correct, Freerice will donate 10 grains to a hungry person as a humanitarian cause. Too good to be true? Well the UN World Food Program set up Freerice and the rice is paid for by the advertisers on the site. The more you play (and educate yourself!), the more rice that is donated on your behalf. Do I hear SAT vocabulary review, anyone?

Plan out your virtuous life at bucketlist.org.
Although we can’t all skydive or fly to Rome at this very moment, we are all dreamers. Jotting down those dreams on a bucket list will help you to achieve them. If you ever get a sudden inspiration, keep track of your hopes and dreams, and set a “due date” so you will actually complete it! I’ve had a fun time maintaining my bucket list, and it is a wonderful thing to keep with you so you can be living your best life. Just imagine the possibility! Want to travel to the Great Wall, to Venice, to Mars? Write it down and follow your aspirations.

Make money with online surveys.
Just recently, I made accounts on both OpinionOutpost.com and iPoll.com and I have already made several dollars, just by providing my feedback. Lots of companies want to know about their products, so they are willing to pay us consumers in exchange for our insight. Prizes include gift cards to tons of different places. The only downfall is that you probably won’t be eligible for many surveys as a minor, but it’s still worth it if you are making easy cash.

What’s your most productive online activity? If you get the chance, try out one of these websites! It’s such a busy life these days, but these ideas are a good way to decompress, while still being productive.

Written by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mountain View Favorites

I grew up strolling along Castro Street, picnicking at Shoreline Lake, attending library storytime, and splashing away at the Eagle Park pool. Having lived in Mountain View the majority of my life, I can appreciate all the charming features amidst the innovation that surrounds our lovely city. There’s certainly no place like home; these are the things about Mountain View that make it my home.

My favorite restaurant?
Taqueria Los Charros. This quaint Mexican eatery is as authentic as it gets. The newer restaurant is on El Camino, but the original, real food is at the downtown Mountain View taqueria just off Castro. The carnitas tacos are a favorite of mine, but you won’t be able to resist their burritos, tamales, enchiladas, and (mmmm) horchata!
Mountwatering Mexican food is just a block away from the library! 
My favorite park?
This is a tricky one. With the spacious Cuesta Park to the limitless fun at Rengstorff, our community has lots of beautiful spaces. However, one park that I always love returning to is Gemello Park. With just a small playground and grassy hill, this place is picture perfect for sunbathing on a summer day, and it has a soft spot in my heart because I grew up on the baby swings. 

My favorite hang out?
The View Teen Center is so legit, you guys! I only visited for the first time recently, but everyone is automatically in love the moment they step into the building. Everything, from the staff, the activities, and the games, are all there for our use. That is, anyone living in Mountain View, Los Altos, or attending MVLA schools.

My favorite dessert place?
I could be classy and recommend a trendy spot like Snozen or Gelato Classico, but there is nothing that satisfies my sugar needs more than a perfectly round scoop of Baskin Robbins, located at the corner of Shoreline and El Camino. On top of that, Baskin Robbins does a great job giving back to the community, and you can always find them supporting local events.

My favorite local business?
Book Buyers, located on Castro, buys and sells used books. It often sits overpowered by Books, Inc., next door, but this place has so many wonderful finds and charms. As soon as you walk through the door, their crazy large calendar collection will have you fixated! If you love books, this place is a must.

So easy to get lost in the aisles of Book Buyers!

My favorite event?
How is an MV native supposed to so readily choose just one event from the whole year?? I think my favorite annual event would be the Art and Wine Festival in September, because it’s always a lovely time of year and it’s great to see the community get together.

My favorite entertainment?
The movie theatre would be a classic option, but on a larger scale, we have our very own amphitheatre at Shoreline which holds up to 20,000 people! I’ve had an amazing time seeing The Script, One Republic, Pentatonix, and Kelly Clarkson at this venue, and the lawn seats (often just $20-$30 per ticket!) are perfect on a warm night. Of course, the concert will be a blast, too, because nothing beats live music.
I bet you can recognize these twin tents from miles away! 
As a longtime Mountain View resident, this place will always mean so much to me, and these are just some of my favorite aspects that make it so special. What are you favorite places and why? Make sure to share so I can check them out!

Written by Katia G., Homework Assistant

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Crazy Foods

I don't really think this needs to be said, but food is awesome. It's tasty, aromatic, and can even be visually appealing. Check out these over-the-top foods straight out of a child's (or mad genius's) imagination.

1. Rainbow Bagels:
This colorful creation looks like it's made of candy, but it's really just a bagel. Making one is time-consuming, involving folding several layers of dyed dough. To make up for the fact that is not as sweet as one might think, it can be eaten with funfetti cream cheese. Unfortunately, the Brooklyn shop that offers this has temporarily closed in order to restructure to meet the high demand.

2. Super-Stacked Milkshakes 
These borderline outrageous milkshakes are guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth. Served in a large cup, these shakes have precariously stacked toppings. For example, the birthday cake milkshake has a full slice of cake on top! Black Tap, the New York City restaurant they are available in, recommends sharing.

3. Egg Waffle Ice Cream: 
This one may not be as crazy as the others on the list, but it does stray from tradition. Instead of a more typical cone, this ice cream uses an egg waffle, which is a traditional Hong Kong street food. The ice cream is also covered with delicious toppings, including pocky, mochi, or cereal. The cone pictured here comes from Eggloo, a shop in New York's Chinatown. If you want to try one without going across the country, Cauldron in Santa Ana sells something similar.

4. Giant Snickers Bar:
And finally, an extreme food that you can make on your own. At a whopping 11000 calories and a weight of five pounds (think of an average textbook), this is more than enough to share...over several days. Find the recipe here.

I hope you enjoyed this list! Feel free to share some other crazy foods in the comments!

Written by Jenna M., Homework Assistant 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Quick Ways to Stay Awake

Have you ever felt your eyes droop a little too much during math? Have you ever rested your eyes for a bit and opened them to find that your history teacher is now talking about a completely different topic? If these situations sound familiar to you, try these tips to stay awake.

1. Hold your breath:
Holding your breath tricks your brain into thinking you are in a dangerous situation and causes the release of adrenaline, which increases awareness and alertness. It will also increase your heart rate. However, don't hold your breath for too long, only as long as it takes to just start feeling uncomfortable.

2. Chew peppermint gum:
There are two benefits to this. First, the scent of peppermint can help people feel more awake and focused, especially in a test environment. Second, chewing gum keeps your jaw moving and activates the motor portions of the brain, which increases alertness, Warning: don't take out gum when others can see you, unless you want to end up giving gum to the whole class.
Feeling more alert yet?

3. Buy a blue pencil pouch.

Yes, really. Seeing blue light (or blue things) can help keep you awake because the color blue is associated with clear skies. This effect also makes it more difficult to sleep if you are looking at a smart phone (which emits blue light) late at night.

4. Drink Water
Dehydration can cause fatigue. Naturally, a way to prevent this fatigue is drinking water. Staying hydrated helps your brain work at full capacity during class, and moving around even a little bit to grab water can help you stay awake.

Written by Jenna M., Homework Assistant

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Earth Day 2016

Happy 2016th Birthday, planet Earth!!.... Well, not quite, the Earth is actually billions of years old... 

Nevertheless, Earth Day is a day to celebrate our precious planet and encourage its conservation. On Friday, April 22nd, Earth Day will be celebrated worldwide, being commemorated with various events in your community. There’s many ways to do this-- whether you want to join the eco-festivities, volunteer, or challenge yourself to be a greener person.

As a passionate environmentalist myself, I would encourage you to live with the ‘green’ mindset, “Earth Day, Everyday.”

Want a challenge?
Try buying nothing on Earth Day.
No food, no gas, no clothing, etc. You may find it surprisingly difficult to cut off all consumerism, but by doing this, you are drastically lessening your footprint left on Earth. As a highly consumerist culture, we buy much more than we need, and that stuff often gets thrown out in a few years, only to lay rotting away in another garbage dump. Instead, eat those leftovers in your fridge, bike to school if you’re out of gas, and think twice before buying any material possessions. More ideas can be found on my past post about Living Green!

Want a fun time?
Attend the Earth Day and Healthy Community Festival at the Cupertino Civic Center on April 30.

For an even better day trip, take the train to San Francisco (lighter commute) and attend the Earth Day Street Fest! There will be food, crafts, vendors, music, and tons of creative environmental expression.

Want to give back?
Many local organizations will be commemorating Earth Day by hosting tree-planting events, habitat restorations, and various trash clean-ups. You could make a small difference and return your love to planet Earth. Find great opportunities at Canopy (Tree Planting on Saturday, April 23), Acterra , and Mountain View Trees as well.

I encourage you all to celebrate Earth Day in some way, shape, or form this year. It’s so important to appreciate the raw beauty that our environment has to offer, so be sure to preserve it on this day, and every day! If you have any Earth Day plans, I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Post by Katia G., Homework Assistant