Giving Thanks, Finding Hope

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Image found on Explore Georgia.

Thanksgiving is a time when we reflect on all the blessings that have been given to us throughout the year. It is a beautiful holiday because it fosters the humility and gratitude that all of us fortunate people need to have.

We are grateful to have the chance to get a college education. We are grateful for those people who believed in us when others did not, and maybe when we did not believe in ourselves either. We are grateful for family and friends, food, water and clothing. We wake up in the morning and are ultimately grateful to be alive.

However, this particular Thanksgiving is special.

Continue reading “Giving Thanks, Finding Hope”

“The Meaning of Fear”– Halloween Themed Event Coming Up at BHC QC Campus

Fall– a time for pumpkins, jumping in leaves, picking apples, eating apples, harvesting the crops, enjoying campfires, spending time with family and friends, and, yes, fall is the  time for Halloween. Halloween, for kids, usually translates as a time to dress up as our favorite characters and score a bunch of free candy.

Unfortunately, as adults, we usually (usually) no longer have that privilege. Instead, many adults entertain themselves by focusing on the scary aspects of Halloween, such as haunted houses and horror movies.  Continue reading ““The Meaning of Fear”– Halloween Themed Event Coming Up at BHC QC Campus”

Keys to a Healthy Lifestyle

Sometimes it’s difficult to reach our fitness goals. The obstacles that stand in the way are often a little overbearing. For college students, living a healthy life can be even more challenging. A full-time college student’s school and work schedule can easily get in the way of starting a new workout plan. Additionally, eating out at fast food restaurants to save time is often seen as an only option for students on the go.

Kimber Mundt, a freshman at Black Hawk College, has discovered the keys to living a healthy life despite the baggage of college living. Although her schedule is busy, just like the rest of ours, she has found a successful way to balance school, work, and a healthy lifestyle. Here are her tips. Continue reading “Keys to a Healthy Lifestyle”

Follow Your Dreams: See all around the country… from your own window!

Do you love to travel?

Do you love to travel so much you would be willing to make the road your home? Larry and Barb Walters of Geneseo, Illinois will be living the ultimate adventure when they take off in their fifth wheel RV this September to live on the road full-time. For many years, it has been the Walters’ dream to live full-time in a beautiful RV, doing what they love most: seeing the gorgeous country, meeting new people, and finding a new adventure at every turn. Continue reading “Follow Your Dreams: See all around the country… from your own window!”

Gabbing with Grunt: graduation means leaving neverland

neverlandFor approximately 16 years I’ve been attending school. I’ve survived monkey-bars, drivers-ed, and college-level math. I beat the odds against the “freshman-fifteen,” and even had the honor of becoming the editor-in-chief of a newspaper.

All in all, school has been good.

So when it’s time for it all to end — at least for now, I just may further my degree someday — will it feel any different than graduating from high school? Am I going to wake up the first day after finals and feel like the adulting has officially begun?

I can think of at least 10 reasons off the top of my head as to why I’m not yet qualified for the “adult” position:  

  1. I am the WORST at remembering to do the dishes. Or putting my clothes away after they’re washed. Or taking out the garbage when it’s full. Or cleaning….vacuuming I’m a total champ at, but the rest just sucks. Pun intended.
  2. I hop aboard the struggle bus every time I have to open the lid to a pickle jar.
  3. I cannot “flic the bic” on a lighter, and I tend to break a match in half whenever I try to strike it. I would not survive in the wild. Not even if I had a matchbook.
  4. I’m not ready to stop wearing my fuzzy Cousin Eddie winter hat around Christmas time. Either the other adults comply, or I refuse to join their club.
  5. I enjoy staying up into the late hours of the night watching Netflix; my classes are all basically in the afternoon, so it has yet to become an issue. But it will be. Someday.
  6. I haven’t begun to “officially” save for retirement. I have so little money now…
  7. I never remember to carry an umbrella, even though there’s one in my car. I know it’s there, I’ve seen it.
  8. Sometimes I have a hard time pouring the water out of the macaroni when I’m cooking. There always seems to be a stray noodle that pops out, lands in the sink, and mocks me.
  9. I don’t take a vitamin, and I’ve heard that’s a thing “responsible” people tend to do.
  10. I always feel like chickening out last minute when it comes to calling to make appointments for things; I don’t mind being on the phone with people, I just would love it if my mom did it…

Not to say I won’t figure it all out as I go along — if our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents have figured it out, so can we.

There are hundreds of us graduating on May 19th; completing our time at Black Hawk College is just the next step.

I wish all of my readers the best of luck — it’s been absolutely fantastic being able to have a column where I can openly discuss things that I have found other people have similar distress in. For two semesters, I’ve been fortunate to interact with students at BHC who were excited to be quoted in the newspaper; they didn’t run away from the blonde girl running around from student to student, brave souls. Some students even signed up at the Promotional Fair to receive emails from me about the newest column idea; I couldn’t thank you guys enough.

If you were ever interested in journalistic writing, I have to say that there is almost nothing more rewarding than seeing your work printed in the newspaper.

I also know that if you are graduating this month and you still haven’t got a clue what you want to do for a career, you’re not alone. When I find the right niche for me, it’s going to be just like how Prince Eric expects he’ll realize he’s found the right girl. It’ll just hit me, “bam, like lightning.”

Don’t be afraid to grow up, even if you feel at times that you will never be ready. All that matters is that you’re happy; I’ll be staying up to unreasonable hours in the evening, and you do what you enjoy.

Peace out.

Hackers are hitting where it hurts

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The new two-pound MacBook is on display in a demo room following an Apple event Monday, March 9, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Ransomware is insidious software that is designed to block access to a computer system until a certain amount of ransom is paid, usually in bitcoins, a digital currency that is transferred without the need of a central bank.

The infection usually comes in the form of an email containing an invoice or a shipment notification with a link attached. Once the recipient clicks on the link, their files are almost immediately locked.

Ransomware attacks are nothing new. In fact, they have been going on for years with the first known attack taking place in 1989.

In 2014, several Apple users, most of them located in Australia, were affected by the malware, and more than 225,000 iPhone users had their Apple accounts stolen in 2015.

Palo Alto Networks named this “the largest known Apple account theft caused by malware.” The malware was only able infect jailbroken iPhones due to the phone’s file systems becoming unrestricted.

In recent years, more and more companies and institutions have fallen victim to these computer system hacks. According to a 2014 report by Symantec, an antivirus software company, ransomware attacks went from 100,000 in January 2013 to 600,000 by December of that same year.

Within the last month, 14 hospitals were hit, along with a café in Maryland, and Apple Inc’s Mac computers. Fortunately, most of them were able to stop the attack before it retrieved all of their files.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, which first noticed the attack on February 5th, was not so lucky. The medical center ended up paying $17,000 worth of bitcoins to hackers in order to regain control of their computer system.

Ryan Kalembar, senior vice president for cybersecurity strategy at Proofpoint, told CBS news that medical records are extremely valuable on the black market, potentially more valuable than an individual’s credit card information or identity. If hackers start to observe their target’s data before encrypting it, they may be able to identify, not only what kind of data it is, but also to whom it belongs to. This would not only raise ransom demands, but also enable hackers to decode and sell the data.

The newest ransomware that is being used is known as MSIL/Samas.A. This malware is able to encrypt the data of entire networks rather than one computer at a time.

The FBI has asked businesses and software security experts for help in its investigation of this newly developed malware.

Easy Eats: Grasshopper Poke Cake

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Cook time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

1 chocolate cake mix: water, oil, eggs as listed on the box.

1- 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

1- 12.8oz Hershey’s Special Hot Fudge Sauce Jar

1 cap full of mint extract

1- package of Thin Mint cookies or 1 package of Keebler Fudge Mint cookies

1- 16 oz container Cool Whip

1 cup Andes Mint Chips

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Images courtesy of JoyAnna Sturgeon

Instructions:

  1. prepare and bake the cake mix in a 9×13 baking dish. Allow to cool completely.
  2. use a wooden spoon to poke holes evenly into the cake about 20 holes.  Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk over the cake, filling the holes.
  3. heat the hot fudge sauce in a small bowl  in the microwave for about 40 seconds.  You just want to soften it.
  4. crumble half the cookies into the hot fudge sauce and mix. Spread the cookie/fudge mix over the cake.
  5. in a large bowl, whisk together the cool whip and cap full of mint extract together, then add 3 drops of green food coloring for color.  Spread the whipped topping over the fudge layer.
  6. crumble the remaining cookies over the cool whip.  Sprinkle the Andes Mint chips over the top.
  7. refrigerate and chill for at least 4 hours (overnight is best)
  8. cut and serve. Serves 12-15.