The Best Way to Buy PC Games

By Courtney Bothun

While there are several ways to buy PC games, one stands out above the rest – Steam. As most of our readers know, Steam is a software program which sells and manages digital games and their communities. There are several programs like this, but Steam is the best known, and for good reason. When choosing a PC gaming platform, there are several things to consider.

The biggest concern for most gamers is selection. There’s no use jumping on board with a client that only has a few games for sale, after all. Steam wins big in this category, with a catalog of thousands of games including new releases, indie games, and early access titles. A huge variety of developers sell their games on Steam, from brand-new indie devs to major companies like Bethesda and Rockstar. Steam is also a pioneer in virtual reality (VR) technology, and their catalog includes a rapidly growing number of VR-compatible games.

The next thing to consider is price. For everyday prices, Steam usually in the middle ground. There are some cheaper options, like Green Man Gaming or Humble Bundle, but their selection is pretty limited in comparison to Steam’s. However, Steam’s sales make the platform competitive, price-wise. Steam sales take several forms – weeklong deals, weekend deals, and major sales that apply huge discounts to games over the course of a week or two. These major sales happen two to four times a year and are treated as holidays of their own by many gamers.

The last thing to think about is integration. This is a big topic, which includes several aspects, but we’ll focus on two. Firstly, community integration. Steam provides community services such as discussion boards, game guides, reviews, and friends lists all within its client. It also provides a framework for user-created communities and groups. Secondly, there’s mod integration. Modding Steam games is, for the most part, very easy. The Steam Workshop allows users to download and install mods to their Steam games automatically, and keeps those mods up to date for them. No other PC platform has integrated modding as well as Steam has.

So, although there are a lot of ways to buy PC games, if you’re looking for the best of the best, download Steam. For more information, online catalogs, and client downloads, visit http://www.steampowered.com.

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Savory Social Media Sweets Causing a Craze

By Morgan Nalley

Long before technology and social media the best recipes were historically secret family traditions. Some recipes could only be found in the minds of our great grandmothers, or stuffed in their dirty brown recipe boxes scribbled on scrap paper, which are nearly impossible to interpret. Now, social media has offered an outlet for cooking blogs and vlogs to be shared virally with the rest of the internet world.

Scrolling through Facebook, you always catch yourself stuck wasting three minutes watching the creation of “The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake” or “Samoa Brownies” inspired by the famous Girl Scout cookies.

Recipes are literally being placed right before our eyes, but are they being taken advantage of? Where are these recipes coming from? Do they belong to someone’s great grandma?

Let’s face it though, out of the millions of views that these recipe vlogs are getting how many viewers are saving, writing down, or actually creating their own delicious master piece? Are we missing out on spending quality time making memories in the kitchen with our grandparents because of this new craze that has hit the internet?

Next time you see one of these recipes, instead of wasting another three minutes watching the video and then just scrolling beyond it to then later forget about it, go to your grandma’s house and ask her how to make “The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake.”

How to Escape Midterm Burnout

By Courtney Bothun

 It’s the middle of the semester, and we all know what that means – midterm burnout. If your classes are starting to get difficult, you’ve built up a resistance to caffeine, and your fashion standards have fallen from “gorgeous every day” to “at least I showered”, don’t worry! Here are five tips to keep you sharp through your midterm slump.

 Change Things Up

Is there a specific place you always go to study? Whether it’s a cozy chair in the library that you practically live in, or your desk in the room that you actually live in, pack up your bag and move. A change of scenery can do wonders for your ability to concentrate!

 

Study Smart

Try out some new studying techniques, and pay attention to what works (and what doesn’t). If you’ve never studied with flashcards before, make a set for yourself and get a friend to quiz you! If you usually read first and ask questions later, slow it down a bit and take notes as you go. Try lots of different strategies to find what works best for you.

Avoid Procrastination Triggers

Okay, don’t completely avoid them – after all, what’s the point of life without an occasional Netflix binge? But do keep track of the reasons you procrastinate and be careful to balance them properly. One episode of Stranger Things shouldn’t hurt your grades, but five in a row might. Study first, play later!

Treat Yourself

In fact, you can use those procrastination triggers to your advantage by using them as rewards for getting your work done. Assign values to study tasks, and reward yourself accordingly for finishing them. This works on two levels – first of all, it motivates you now, and second, it helps you build better lasting study habits.

Ask for Help

There is nothing wrong with asking for help if you need it! If you’re struggling to understand class material, schedule a meeting with your instructor or a tutor. If your slump is related to your mental health, teachers, parents, or mental health counselors can help you learn better coping strategies and access resources if you need them. Asking for help is always better than suffering alone.

VCSU Alum Founds UTrain App

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Dillan Ostrom, a VCSU alumnus co-founded UTrain

By Sarah Tyre

Entitled. Narcissistic. Cynical. These are all words that have been used to describe millennials. Being a millennial simply means a person is between the ages of 20 and 35, but as with all generations, it can imply a certain persona. This blog highlights the worst of these stereotypes: http://www.literallydarling.com/blog/2014/09/09/worst-millennial-stereotypes/. A simple google search for “millennials” will produce equal parts spiteful and inspiring articles. Technology and social media have been accused of corrupting an entire generation of young professionals. When a study emerges that shines light on successful and inspiring members of this controversial generation, it is a breath of fresh air.

This article from Fortune Magazine (http://fortune.com/2016/02/20/millennial-entrepreneurs-study/) brings to light a study on millennial entrepreneurs. While technology may be to blame for excessive selfies and cat videos, it is also responsible for the millennial generation’s entrepreneurial success. More millennials are starting companies and having rapid success than previous generations. The reason for their success and negative stereotype is the same: technology.

For millennial VCSU alumnus Dillan Ostrom, technology is not a vice but a victory. Ostrom, along with his business partner Nick Corbett created UTrain (https://www.myutrain.com/), an app that connects personal trainers with clients all over the country. As personal trainers, Ostrom and Corbett founded UTrain after brainstorming ways to grown their consumer base. Their tech-savvy and grit paved the way to starting a company.

“Back in the day if you were to start a business you didn’t have all these resources. You couldn’t easily go to Squarespace and make a website. Customers couldn’t easily reach out to you,” Ostrom said. The study by BNP on millennial entrepreneurs (https://group.bnpparibas/en/news/bnp-paribas-global-entrepreneurs-report-2016) speculates that part of the reason there are more millennial entrepreneurs than prior generations may be that millennials are more comfortable with failure. Millennials are used to starting over. Resilience and tenacity are a perfect combination for entrepreneurs. Ostrom chooses to see failure as a chance to grow.

“If you fail, do not panic. Failure is expected. It teaches you what you did wrong so that you can do it right next time around. If you love what you do, you’ll find a way,” Ostrom said.

Having an idea is the first step to every business. Introducing a new idea and convincing the public of the importance is one of the most challenging aspects of starting a business, according to Ostrom. What’s the remedy for the non-believers? Ostrom says it’s persistence. “It’s just believing in yourself and believing in your idea. If you believe in your idea, that’s going to show.”

Millennials tuned in to the negative static surrounding their generation should listen closely to the opportunity the world they were born into is providing. Starting a business today is as easy as owning a laptop. All it takes is an idea and perseverance.

Co founders of UTrain Dillan Ostrom and Nick Corbett

Can You Escape?

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By Lisa Rush

There is one destination in Fargo, ND that not many people know about, even though it has been around for a couple years now. That destination being the Fargo Escape Room. An escape room according an article done by Lydia Gilbertson “is essentially a real-life version of an RPG/action video game like “Silent Hill” or “Fallout 3.” “I did not even know Fargo had an escape room until about a week ago and I am in Fargo quite frequently,” said Valley City resident, Helen Soma. Eric Johnson said, “I actually attended one of the first escape rooms the Fargo Escape Room had, but that is only because one of my friends had told me about it and invited me.”

According to an article written by Angie Wieck, escape rooms had actually begun in Japan long before they made their way to America. I decided last week that I wanted to experience the escape room for myself so I headed there with a few of my friends. The room my friends I got was called Framed which is about being framed for a bank robbery. One girl in our group, Nissa Crandall, said, “I have been to one of these before and it is pretty fun, as long as you work together as a team.” Right away they told us we couldn’t have our phones since they did not want images getting on the internet.

“The rate of groups who make it out will only be around 20%” according to an article by Kristi Larson. My group was one of those groups in the 80%, aka we lost, big time. Another girl from my group, Krista Engler, said, “The escape room was fun, but I noticed they started the clock while the guy was giving us the background story, meaning we could have started while he was talking.” That is something to remember if you ever decide to attend for yourself. “This is definitely an experience I would recommend to anybody looking for something safe and fun to do” said Sara Engler.

How to Learn French at an Art Museum

By Paula Nilsen

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(The Millinery Shop, 1879-1886)

 St. Louis Art Museum is on a mission. Right now that mission is to educate the public into all things French. Whether Francophile or a casual observer, fun can be had for all. The museum is featuring a new exhibit, and the first of its kind, Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade. Hats abound. Paintings by Degas and Renoir and Moiresette will leave your mouths agape; paintings of Paris millinery shops will stop you in your tracks for their beauty alone.

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(Fashionable Women on Champs-Élysées, c. 1902) 

Along with all the works of art, French lessons are offered to the public.  

I met Kent Curry, a member of SLAM for three years now, at a French lesson. He was thrilled to do something so magnificent as to watch Isabelle teach French in front of a Monet. It was a bit of a bucket list item for him, he admitted. One thing that stayed with him is that French people aren’t born French, they are bred French.  

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(Monet Water Lilies, c. 1916. Photo Credit: Kent Curry) 

Isabelle started the lesson with French numbers, then she covered famous French sayings like, joie-de-vivre, and French etiquette as well. One such etiquette item of interest is that French people do not touch food with their fingers.  

Joan Jenkins, hostess in the restaurant, spoke highly of the exhibit and wore her hat in celebration. She stated that she had met several people from France at the museum and they were “extremely proper and had sexy accents.”  

Bob and Julia, a mother and son duo, who have been coming to the art museum for decades together loves all things French. Julie stated that she loved the Degas exhibit and found the French women’s hats charming, but the men’s hats quite dull and very black.  

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(Bob and Julia) 

SLAM invites you to come and get cultured and learn French in the process. 

It’s Not the Stage that Tells the Story, it’s the Actors

ImageBy Morgan Nalley

Almost spring. Almost the weekend. Almost, Maine. Thursday night’s showing of Almost, Maine by John Cariani, presented by Valley City State University Theater, was a packed house. Audience in seats and Actors on set, the production was under way for the second weekend on the VCSU campus.

According to the Almost, Maine website the story is set on a cold winter’s night, in a small town in Northern Maine. With Northern Lights overhead in the sky, many residents of Almost, Maine are found “falling in and out of love in the strangest ways.”

This production wasn’t that of your typical proscenium stage or thrust theater experience, as listed online by Primer Theaters. Instead, it was produced as a promenade production, where the audience was up close and personal with the set and characters of each scene. All audience members were within just feet of the action and moved from scene to scene as the set changed location throughout the production.

“I liked the fact that you got to be up close to the actors and really feel like you were almost part of the play,” said audience member Dalton Locke.

Some scenes were in hallways, some in larger rooms, and others were outside as the audience watched through the window. This experience wasn’t only unique for the audience members, but for the cast and crew as well.

“They are truly acting – not performing. The performances outdoors separate the actors from the audience,” said Director Jenni Lu Russi. “They are focused on their characters’ interaction, and aren’t responding to audience reaction. The scenes that take place indoors are in an intimate setting which requires the actors to maintain that focus. This is very challenging.”

The casting list consisted of 11 actors: Jolene Woodbury, Ben Kietzman, Kimberly McLagan, Zach Johnson, Preston Teske, Hannah Isakson, Sarah Biggers, Jenna Pommerer, Phil Godel, Gerry Huss, and Katy Spears, many of which played more than one role during the production. “To prepare for the production you need to have commitment, and you as the actor need to be able to work as a team with the other actors,” said cast member Jenna Pommerer. Scene after scene the cast members made it a tough act to follow as they told one love story after another.

“Every production brings a new experience and my favorite part is always creating a new family,” said cast member Katy Spears. “During the rehearsal process I loved the part where we were waiting to start rehearsal, and as a cast we joked around and got a chance to goof off a little.”

VCSU theater prioritizes students’ growth in the field of theater, so a lot of decisions as to what takes place with the planning of the production are made by the students. Almost, Maine provided an opportunity for students to experience contemporary theater, while also learning that they can create theater without a stage or even a big space.

 

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Muir Woods National Monument

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By: Gary-Alan Hopkins

The pictures in this blog post were taken during a summer-long trip to California. It was the first time I visited the State, and the people, landscape, and culture did not disappoint this novice traveler. Muir Woods National Monument was one of many places we visited on our trip.

It started the Spring of 2012 when I was accepted to a Summer internship with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) as their social media and marketing intern. The position was in their new Los Angeles office in the LA neighborhood of Echo Park. During the Summer I lived in LA from June through August. Toward the end of my internship, my girlfriend (Michelle) flew out to stay with me, and we began to plan our more than a week trip around the beautiful West Coast State.

During this wonderful adventure, we saw many amazing places. We set off from Los Angeles with a rental car packed with our belongings and headed East on the 210 freeway. After stopping in Rancho Cucamonga to visit Viva La Vegan, an all vegan grocery store, to pick up some delicious vegan snacks for the road. Our first stop was Death Valley National Park; then we headed up to Mount Whitney. Next, we visited Mammoth Lake and stayed overnight to do some exploring the next day. After Mammoth Lake, we spent the night in Mono Lake, where we took some photography of the lake the next morning. Then we headed West through the East entrance of Yosemite National Park and exited through the South gate of the park and trekked West toward San Fransico to visit a friend of ours.

The giant redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument are truly awe-inspiring reaching more than 200 feet into the heavens. When you first enter the park

you pull into a gravel parking lot, and as you start walking toward the park gate the landscape looks pretty, but it doesn’t look like anything special there are restrooms and an information center before the park gate. Once you get past the gate and start walking down the path, the towering giants come into view. As you walk among these colossal ancient wonders, you start to realize how small we, as human-beings, are on this planet. I’m sure most of us have felt this sense of scale while walking down the street that’s lined with towering skyscrapers but there’s something different about being among natural objects that tower above you. Walking along the paths, you get the feeling that you are in a mystical land one found only in a fantasy novel. You almost expect gnomes to come out behind the bushes and fairies to be flying around inside the hollow tree bottoms.

The Muir Woods National Monument is one of my favorite places, and I will be back to visit soon. If you haven’t been to San Francisco or Muir Woods, I suggest you mark it down on your bucket list. I promise it will not disappoint. If you would like to learn more about this magnificent park, click HERE to be redirected to the National Park Service website for more information on the physical address of Muir Woods, hours of operation, history of the park, and much more.

Home From a Pet’s Perspective

By Sarah Tyre

Every morning I wake from my slumber inside a coil of blankets to hunt for my breakfast. My family does not appreciate my skill and prowess. I leap to the top of their mattress and paw on their faces. They do not move. My hunt begins solo.

I jump from their beds and head to the sock jungle. I will let you in on a secret about the sock jungle. It may seem treacherous but it is nothing compared to the two seas the family calls “laundry baskets”. In the sock jungle I find a catnip fortune cookie. I throw it around for awhile before deciphering that it is dead. That cookie died a long time ago.

Feeling discouraged in the sock jungle, I head to my second favorite spot in the house: the oasis. The oasis contains a blue porcelain basin where there is always water. I first discovered the oasis when I heard the water dripping from the blue basin the humans call the tub. You must be careful not to fall in however.

Not willing to risk the oasis today, I head to my favorite spot in the world. The kitchen counter. Yes. The kitchen counter is alive with crumbs and surfaces perfect for licking. I must be careful not to alert the authorities. I bound to the top and I am in luck! A water glass was left out the night before.

Oh no! I hear the family rustling about. Back to the floor I go.

It all works out in the end. The family has caught breakfast and places it on my royal dish. I head over to the window for my daily nap and watch the snow gently fall onto the cast iron rails of the balcony. Tomorrow I will conquer my sworn enemy: the bookshelf.

This is Life

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Rolling hills stretch to infinity- Waves of captured motion. There IS a beauty in longing. Oh-

I hope there is- for my cup is full of it. But this- is my Muse.

At midnight, the stars whispered my name last night, reassuring me that I- am not alone.

The planets wheel through- spheres murmur and sing, sprinkling bits of star-song in my mind and star-shine in my eyes.

Inner-space reaching out with that primal force that drives us to gather round bonfires at night- Dancing wildly- Voices wailing out what cannot be articulated for it is too much.

Too strong. Too-

deep. In awe I watch the silhouettes as they leap and dance- Dreads flying, and everything slows- Down.

For a moment.

A pause-

To reflect- that THIS is life.

With drums pounding out my hearts rhythm and synchronizing me with the earth and

those whispering stars-

~ELLIE DAVIS