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Nickolas Neely’s Writing

As Appeared in the Mooring Mast

Cascade sticks students, stocks blood reserves
Symptoms of a charitable soul may include blood loss this week at Pacific Lutheran University. Monday and Tuesday Cascade Regional Blood Services, with help of Delta Iota Chi, visited PLU as part of their college-touring blood drive. Cascade Regional Blood Services visits every college and high school in Pierce and King Counties. They are the sole provider for hospitals in Pierce and King Counties. Students make up 25 percent of their blood reserves, Community Relations Specialist Rita Wells said. “It’s about serving our community,” senior blood drive coordinator Dianne Paulson said. Cascade Regional Blood Services owns four blood busses, two of which were stationed at PLU. They are out for blood every day of the week. “Our goal is to make it convenient to donate blood because people are busy,” Wells said. “We appreciate the support of PLU and Delta Iota Chi.” Delta Iota Chi is a nursing charity organization that facilitates the blood drive by getting donors and looking once donors after they have given blood. Delta Iota Chi provides consistent supports to the blood drive. “Our goal is to make sure that nobody passes out,” Nursing Faculty Adviser Janet Dubois said. The standard amount of blood taken during a donation is a pint; there are eight pints in a gallon. When a person donates that much blood it takes time to regain the vitamins and minerals that are lost. The process of getting this blood back burns 640 calories. “A lot of people think they can hit the treadmill after they donate but that’s really not the case,” sophomore blood drive coordinator Natalie Bisceglia said.

It is because of this strain on the body that many potential donators are turned away. Paulson says that about only about 60 percent of potential donors are allowed to give blood. Despite many donors being turned away, Cascade still gets a large quantity of blood from the PLU community. In the last year Cascade has received 490 blood donations from PLU. Most donors this blood drive were donating for the first time. “With only 5 percent of eligible donors visiting blood banks regularly, finding some fresh blood is always a good thing,” said Bisceglia. This week, a total of 174 donors were registered. “We do very huge blood drives here,” Wells said. “We have great turnout and great response from students, the students are very generous.” Dubois agrees that the PLU community is the biggest part of the blood drive. “The success of the blood drive is really a reflection of the PLU campus,” Dubois said. “Our volunteering is so minor in comparison to the campus giving the blood that is needed.”

Snow day decisions not ‘cookie cutter’
Commuter students and faculty know the anticipation – wondering, on a snowy night, whether they will chance the dangerous trip to school the next day. Administrators argue that they have a lot to consider, while some students say certain issues are ignored. “This is not a cookie cutter decision,” Executive Associate to the President Emily Isensee said. The president, provost and vice presidents convene around 5 a.m. to analyze various weather reports and advisories from the Washington State Traffic Department in order to decide whether to call a snow day. Another meeting around noon decides whether to cancel evening classes. PLU-area weather reports are not only taken into consideration, but also those where commuter students and professors live.

The cancelation of morning classes is announced on all media outlets by 6 a.m. Afternoon classes are announced in the same fashion around 1 p.m. “What you try to do is take in all different factors,” Director of Administration Vicky Winters said, in regards to the decision-making process. The academic effect of that day’s school cancelation is also considered. For example, school is rarely cancelled during finals. Administrators also take into account what other schools choose. It is then at the discretion of professors whether to cancel their own classes when a snow day is not called. “It is my understanding that we should be willing to be flexible if students can’t make it,” professor of Religion Erik Hammerstrom said. Even with this system in place, some commuter students are occasionally still dissatisfied with the administration’s decision regarding snow days. “It seems unorganized and haphazard,” commuter student intern sophomore Stephanie Noyes said. Noyes is a commuter student who lives in Graham, which is about 25 minutes away from PLU. It’s not arriving to school that is the problem for these students, it is getting back home. “Once it gets dark it’s going to ice over, so I didn’t go to class [one day] because I knew I couldn’t get back,” Noyes said. Sophomore Brianne Ankeman has heard of similar experiences. “I’ve had friends who are scared to drive home so they’re glad they have a friend on campus [to stay with],” Ankeman said. First-year Micaela Ingraham, who lives 20 minutes away in North Tacoma, has been stuck on campus multiple times when she felt road conditions were too hazardous to chance driving home. Ingraham spent those night with a friend who lives on campus. Campus safety offers non-used rooms in residence halls for commuter students who cannot make it home, but no bedding or other amenities are offered.

Nickolas Neely’s Writing
As Appeared in Gizmo’s Freeware

ShopWell to Eat Well
I receive inexplicable pleasure from scanning random paraphernalia. In fact, if that whole "writing" nonsense fails to work out, I may end up leading a thoroughly satisfying life as a cashier. This obsession may have biased my pick for this mobile app of the week: Healthy Diet & Grocery Food Scanner by ShopWell ("ShopWell"). ShopWell serves as food and nutrition manager for your individual dietary needs. You require an account to use it, which you can create in the application or connect via Facebook. After account creation, you input your age, sex, goals, and dietary restrictions. This app doesn't offer a vegan or vegetarian option. However, ShopWell offers an otherwise wide selection of dietary options, including gluten-free and diabetes 1 & 2. Once you've created an account detailed with your preferences, ShopWell will score foodstuffs based on its compatibility with your diet. You can look up an item in three main fashions: name search, sort by categories, and, dear me, scanning barcodes. Search by name functions exactly how you imagine: type in the name to bring up relevant items.

Unfortunately ShopWell doesn't have a correcting system. If your result comes up with nothing, you won't be asked "did you mean...?". This makes the search function occasionally unreliable as some food items use awkward punctuation in their names you might not have thought of. Search by category may not escort you to the specific item you desire. Nevertheless, if you merely seek for a healthy item fitting a rough criteria of consumables you crave, this will serve you fine. Scanning works the quickest. If you can access the tangible food item, ShopWell can scan the item with a built-in scanner, and immediately bring up the item's nutrition page. I am not familiar with how these scanners work. To be safe I ran a test scan on products from various stores in my area. QFC, Walmart, Target, Fred Meyers, and Safeway appear to be compatible with the scan. CostCo seems to be rather hit or miss. Furthermore, the in-built lighting option enables an easy scan on most products, however highly reflective and oddly shaped packages take a while to get a satisfactory lock on. Once you reach the info page on your selected item, ShopWell gives you a score and a recommendation on whether this fits your diet. At the bottom, the app lists similar products which better fit your dietary needs. From the product page, you also have the option to add the food to your shopping list. Obnoxiously, tapping the addition sign next to "Add to Shopping List" doesn't add it, you have to tap the text. However, the shopping list functions as it should. It displays all items you added to your list, tapping the item dismisses the product and sends it to your "got" list. Overall, the app runs smoothly. Hitting the "back" button doesn't send you to the home page but to the previous page, which I prefer. The homepage can be accessed by the ubiquitous menu tab lying at the bottom of every screen. The app pesters you to "recommend to a friend" every time you open the app as well as offering you slight discounts on health products every time you earn an achievement. ShopWell presents no other advertisements besides those two.

Find a Whole New Library with Wattpad

Writing tends to be a lonely pursuit. Skilled writers enjoy feedback from a source besides the niggling voice in their head. However, finagling an individual into critiquing your epic work requires them to A) actually read, which a vast percentage loathe to do, and B) enumerate on their thoughts more than "it's good." Finding colleagues seems to be just as difficult as finding feedback. Many self-proclaimed "writers" end up having only written one badly spelled poem in middle school. This app of the week, Wattpad, solves the solitary writer's conundrum. Wattpad acts as a much needed online community to amateur writers as well as a source of thousands of books to avid readers. For the readers, Wattpad offers books of all genres. Selecting a book will download it to your Wattpad library to be read at your discretion. I found the functions of the reading mechanic simple. Tap to the right of the screen to go to the next page, and tap the left of the screen to go back a page. You can also have the text slowly scroll down Star Wars style if you don't feel like using you hands. After you've (hopefully) enjoyed your read, you can share the story through eMail and Facebook. Additionally you may upvote and comment on the story. Most authors respond to the feedback you give. To comment, upvote, or create a story, you must fashion yourself a Wattpad account. Wattpad gives the option of logging in through Facebook, but you do have an option to just make an independent account. If you particularly enjoy the works of a certain author you can become a "fan" of them so you may be updated on their newest works. On the writer's side, Wattpad gives you a sizable amount of readers eager to look at your works and provide feedback. Upon choosing to create a new story, Wattpad provides you with a minimal creation page; a slot to insert the title, and a slot to insert the text of your novel. After creating your story, you may upload it to the Wattpad database.

Scope Out Cheaper Gas Prices In Your Area (US & Canada Only)

A recent survey of the two people next to my desk at work reveals that 100% of Americas prefer cheaper gas prices. With this in consideration, I gladly choose GasBuddyfor the mobile app of this week. This app helps you find cheaper gas prices at each station in your area with help of the GPS on your mobile devices. You can check gas prices in two views: a list view or a map view. Either one gets you the prices for regular, midgrade and premium gas as well as diesel. The map view presents you with a standard Google map overlaid with icons indicating prices. In areas where gas stations are a lot, these icons cluster together but you can always zoom in on the map, or alternatively switch to a list view with a tap. You have two options to search for gas prices, either look for stations near you with the GPS function of your device, or find gas stations by city, state, or zip code. GasBuddy has an impressive amount of information without being clunky; you do not have to dig for the information you need. When viewing the gas prices, you can select a specific station to view its profile, which includes a picture of the station, address, directions to the station, and facilities such as an air pump, food mart or restrooms available at the station. This app is pleasantly customizable. You can select a default gas type to view from the app, set it to automatically launch and find gas stations near you, and even convert its measuring system from miles to kilometers. GasBuddy receives its information through user contribution. You can report prices and add comments such as "beware of the pizza" for stations near you. It's a painless process as you don't need an account to do so. But if you decide to sign up for a free account, you can earn points besides a warm sensation of goodwill in submitting prices and comments to help others. With these points you can “purchase” tickets for a weekly lottery for $250 worth of gas. A small achievement, why not?

I have found that this system works well. Gas prices for stations in my area were almost always accurate, and if they weren’t, the prices were only off by a few cents. The gas prices were updated usually every other day, but some stations received updated gas prices as frequently as every few hours.