Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Final Portfolio

It's been a marathon finish and now this is the final product. I'm really happy with how three of these stories turned out.

First off is my brand new story about Battle of the Bands, with my favorite interview of the year:

Next up is an extreme home-makeover version of my Meet the Mormons story. This I did initially at the beginning of the year when all that was required was the five sequence shot:

And in third is the polished-up version of my Mitt Romney story. I thought I did a decent job on it a few weeks back, so not much is changed:

And then we have a fourth story. Being perfectly honest, the world conspired against me these last couple weeks and it was not fun. But that story doesn't need to be told here. Instead I'm simply hoping for a point or two for this official submission:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cyber Monday deals stretched, crimping sales

Cyber Monday deals are being stretched out this holiday season, crimping sales on the day itself.

Retailers from Target to Amazon have been offering online deals since the beginning of November, and are promising "cyber" deals all week. That seems to have put a dent in Cyber Monday sales. Sales were up, according to estimates. But they weren't as strong as some were expecting.

IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark reported that online sales rose 8.5 percent compared to 2013. That still makes it the busiest U.S. online shopping day of the year so far--a title the date has held since 2010. But it was less stellar growth than last year's Cyber Monday, when online sales jumped more than 20 percent.

Some people also felt that prices weren't quite as cheap as they were hoping.

Mark Johnson, a public health major at Brigham Young University, said, "It wasn't as cheap as I was expecting it to be compared to Black Friday. Black Friday had a lot more deals."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mitt Romney instructs BYU students on a spiritual level

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney returned to his alma mater of BYU on Tuesday to give some very personal, spiritual advice to BYU students.

Romney spoke a lot about his recent run for president of the United States, but it wasn’t politics that he came to speak about this time around. Instead, he used those experiences to teach about the spiritual lessons that he learned throughout the whole process.

“When you see (Romney) on the political road, you don’t get to hear about his testimony of the church,” said Jared McArthur, a BYU student from South Jordan, Utah, “He’s got to keep that stuff out of it. So I really liked hearing that aspect of (his address).”

Romney’s main message to the students? Keeping the right prospective and remembering what matters most. Romney concluded by telling the students that if they define success on a secular level, they will most likely fail due to all the things in life that happen by chance. However, if they define success on an eternal level, specifically speaking of their relationship with God, then in fact success is up to them.

This was specifically relevant to Romney personally given his recent loss to President Barak Obama in the most recent presidential election. Some might say that he failed because he didn’t win the election, but Romney said that he prefers to think of it as him winning the silver medal.

Family was also a big subject for Romney as he stated multiple times how important his wife Ann is to him and how supportive she’s been for his whole career. When asked how he manages to still spend time with her despite the busy schedule, he stated that they always practiced the principle of “time tithing,” meaning that despite what was going on, he always made sure to set aside at least 10 percent of his time to spend with her and their kids. He also said he made sure to leave his work at work instead of bringing his work home with him.

In addition to giving this address, Romney was also very personal with everyone afterwards. Even after the question and answer session of the forum was over, he still hung around to talk with students and reporters. In fact, he even took time to sign McArthur’s book.

About this experience, McArthur said, “I’ve always been a big fan of Mitt and when I heard he was coming last week, me and my brother wanted to camp out, but that didn’t end up happening. We came at like 8 a.m. instead. We got front row and then I saw him coming over and after his great speech and forum, I was lucky enough to get my book signed and I got to interact with Mitt Romney, so I’m really happy about it.”

When Romney was asked if he plans on running for president again by a random individual from the crowd, he side-stepped the question and chose to focus on his message, replying simply, “Yeah, I did that actually.”

Thursday, October 30, 2014

BYU Recycling builds Recycle Maze to raise recycling awareness

Feeding off the tradition of corn mazes being a popular Halloween activity, BYU Recycling has built a Recycle Maze this Halloween for students to enjoy that also serves a reminder for students to recycle more.

The Recycle Maze has been up all of October and is located just behind the Ellsworth Building, which is on the corner of 2230 north and University Avenue in Provo. BYU Recycling has opened the maze up to the public every Monday night throughout October and will also be open on Halloween night from 8 to 10 p.m.

“It’s mostly for fun I think, but it also serves to be a visible and tangible manifestation of what we’re doing with recycling at BYU,” said Stuart Radford, a sophomore at BYU and a member of BYU Recycling since January.

Radford further explained that many people at BYU will throw their soda cans or office papers in the recycling bins at BYU, but after that have no idea what happens to it. By coming to the Recycle Maze, students can see what happens with the stuff they recycle.

BYU Recycling places blue recycling bins all around campus in hopes that students will recycle their waste instead of just throwing everything into the garbage can. BYU Recycling then goes around a collects the recycled material and compresses it into bales of recycled material. After doing this, they will ship the bales of recycled material to various plants that take the material and turn it into products.

With the Recycle Maze, instead of immediately shipping these bales off to the plants, the BYU Recycling team uses the bales they have collected and constructs them into a maze. As Radford explained, this year they started by making a maze design with a computer program. After the design was set, they spent eight hours constructing the maze with the help of forklifts. As they gathered more bales of material throughout the month, they added them to the maze, thus making it on ongoing building project.

“If you don’t think that recycling matters or makes a difference if you recycle, it obviously does. I mean you can come see at the recycle maze that if you recycle and if you use those bins that we put all around campus, you can make a difference and you contribute to helping us reduce waste and recycle the materials we use here at BYU,” Radford said.

This actually wasn’t the first year that BYU Recycling has put this Recycle Maze together, but it was the first year that they publicized it so much. They had a booth setup in the Wilk to advertise and they also passed out flyers. This led to a fairly large crowd at the maze that built up throughout the month. Radford estimated around 50 people on the first Monday and about 300-400 on this most recent Monday.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

BYU celebrates National Chemistry Week with fire and liquid nitrogen

This year for National Chemistry Week, BYU’s chemistry department celebrated with various chemistry-themed activities, which included explosion-filled magic shows and liquid nitrogen ice cream.

National Chemistry Week is an annual celebration of Chemistry that began in the late 1980’s and is sponsored by the American Chemical Society. The purpose of National Chemistry is to reach out to people by showing the importance of chemistry and the contribution chemistry makes on society.

“Well, it’s a little arrogant of us, but we actually say it’s the central science,” said Dr. Jennifer Nielson, a chemistry professor at BYU. “Because we figure if you’re in physics you might want to know what molecules you’re working with. If you’re in biology, you might want to know why your molecules are doing what they are. So we think if you study chemistry, no matter what you do after that you’re actually going to be good at problem solving and you’ll have a good idea of how electrons work and, you know, how different molecules work.”

Nielson also talked about how many career opportunities there are for one who studies chemistry. She gave examples in her own life how her first two jobs when she finished her undergraduate studies, despite not being at a chemistry department or lab, were easy to get because a chemist was needed.

The theme this year for National Chemistry Week was “The Sweet Side of Chemistry—Candy.” One thing that was done to go with this theme was the magic shows that were put on. These magic shows were targeted towards a younger audience and played every night of the week at 6:30 and 7:30 in the Ezra Taft Benson building on BYU campus. While these shows included plenty of fire and explosions that one may come to expect from a chemistry magic show, the candy theme was also taken advantage as lots of things were done with various sweets, which fit very well with Halloween being around the corner.

Valerie Harmon, who heard about the magic shows through a school group, was one mother in attendance who came with her husband and kids because her kids are fascinated with science.

“Besides the fact that it’s absolutely fun, my 11-year-old in particular I feel like his mission in life will be the sciences. He’s only 11 and he’s reading high school books on astronomy and chemistry, particularly the elements. And so for his future I think he’s going to be studying science and the kind of foundation we lay here at his current age will help him with that,” said Harmon.

A popular attraction right outside the magic shows was the booth where liquid nitrogen ice cream was being sold for a dollar. The chemistry students that were manning the booth made the ice cream right in front of customers by pouring ice cream base from the BYU Creamery into a mixing bowl, then pouring liquid nitrogen onto it. Ice Cream was instantly formed from this process that some claimed tasted like a frosty from Wendy’s. Outside of being put on from 6 to 9 p.m. during the magic shows on Monday through Friday, the booth was also present in the Ezra Taft Benson Building from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. while many are in class. While the ice cream has the most popular attraction from the booth, chemistry mugs and chemistry shirts were also on sale.

Among other events that happened during the week, a presentation was given by Dr. Alexandra Novrotsky, a renowned materials chemist from University of CA, Davis, who spoke about her career as a woman in science. Also, at the end of National Chemistry Week there will be a kids’ hands-on chemistry workshop in the Provo Library. That is Saturday from 1-3 p.m. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Partial solar eclipse visible this upcoming Thursday

This upcoming Thursday, students here at BYU will get the unique opportunity of viewing something that only happens once every few years: a solar eclipse.

An eclipse occurs when the sun, the Earth and the moon are all lined up together. In the case of a lunar eclipse, the Earth is between the sun and the moon. This causes the Earth to cast a shadow on the moon during its full moon phase. A solar eclipse, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. During the new moon phase, when the moon is between the sun and the Earth, the moon blocks the light of the sun and casts a shadow on the Earth.

Dr. Jeannette Lawler, the planetarium director at Brigham Young University, said, “If everything was actually exactly lined up, then every single month as the moon orbits around the earth, it would come in between the earth and the sun and it would block out the sun and we’d have a solar eclipse.”

Lawler further explained that the reason this doesn’t happen every month is because the sun, the Earth and the moon aren’t always perfectly lined up. First off, the moon’s orbit is a bit tilted, so it’s not always on this perfect plane with the sun and the Earth. Second, the Earth itself also rotates on a titled axis. These factors make eclipses a lot more uncommon and thus exciting for people to seek out and view. A solar eclipse is even more exciting because the shadow that the moon casts on the Earth is a lot smaller than the one the Earth casts on the sun, thus making solar eclipses a lot less common than lunar eclipses.

A lunar eclipse has already happened a couple times this year, the most recent occurrence being just over a week ago very early in the morning on Wednesday October 8. Being that it takes the moon roughly four weeks to orbit around the Earth, two weeks following the lunar eclipse is when the solar eclipse will take place. Specifically, that date is Thursday October 23. In the Salt Lake area, it will start at about 3 p.m. and finish around 5 p.m. The height of the eclipse will be between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

This solar eclipse is not, however, a total solar eclipse. It’s a partial solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse occurs when the sun, the moon and the earth are perfectly lined up, which is not the case in this instance. In addition to needing everything perfectly lined up, one would need to travel to the right place to see a total solar eclipse since the shadow of the moon is only present in certain places.

This makes a total solar eclipse even rarer than any other eclipse. In fact, Lawler mentioned that while a partial solar eclipse occurs every few years, a total solar eclipse that is in driving range only happens once every decade or two. A few years back, a total solar eclipse was visible in the St. George. And for future astronomical adventures, there will be a total solar eclipse in 2017 that will be visible in Southern Idaho. In fact, it will pass right over fellow BYU school, BYU-Idaho.

So how can one view the partial solar eclipse that will be visible in the Western United States and Western Canada this upcoming Thursday? First off, walking outside and looking at the sun with no protection is the way not to go.

“You cannot go out and stare at the sun if you want to actually be able to see afterwards. Just like a magnifying glass—you can use it to fry ants– the lens in your eye will focus the rays on the back of your retina and burn little crispy spots in the back of your retina,” said Lawler.

Lawler also said to avoid jury-rigged methods that you can find on the internet such as putting three lenses together. The best way, she said, was to actually purchase a pair of solar glasses that can be found at various places around town or can be purchased on the internet for only a couple of dollars. In preparation for the eclipse, the BYU Bookstore ordered some of these glasses. They can be found in the Twilight Zone of the bookstore for only $0.99. Lawler also suggested sharing the glasses with friends or roommates instead of every individual purchasing their own, since not many people will probably watching the eclipse for the full two hours.

The other way that Lawler suggested to view the eclipse is through BYU’s astronomy club. They will be setting up solar telescopes on campus that are equipped with special solar filters that will make viewing the eclipse possible without ruining one’s vision.

“It’s one of those things that I think everybody should take a look. It’s certainly worth spending your time to go ‘Yeah I saw that and it’s kinda cool and now I’ve done it.’ Because they don’t happen all that often,” said Lawler.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

BYU’s Exhibition of Discovery exhibit to leave soon

PROVO, UT -- Any individual wanting to check out BYU’s Exhibitions of Discovery exhibit in the Harold B. Lee Library better act fast as the exhibit is scheduled to only run through the end of October.

The Harold B. Lee Library’s exhibit program is an important program for BYU. There have been many different exhibits on display throughout the years. Currently there are five different exhibits on display in the library.

In discussing the exhibits, the library’s website says, “The mission of the Harold B. Lee Library exhibit program complements the mission of BYU. All exhibits ‘assist individuals in their quest for perfection…[in that they] make their own contribution toward the balanced development of the total person.’ Exhibits are a wonderful part of the education process. They not only teach, but they help the viewer tangibly and intellectually connect with the past.”

Located on the third floor of the library, just past the security desks, the Exhibitions of Discovery exhibit gives information on various different exhibitions that BYU faculty and students have embarked on starting in 1900 and going throughout the century even up to exhibitions gone on recently.

The exhibit discusses origins of discovery at BYU as it quotes Karl G. Maeser’s 1898 book, School and Fireside, “While the Academy has quite a number of geological, mineralogical, botanical, and other specimens in the museum, it respectfully asks that its friends, especially the members and patrons of the school, make such donations and contributions to this department as their kindness and ability will permit.”

Prominent individuals that the exhibit talks about include former BYU president Franklin S. Harris, who went on an exhibition to Russia in the 1920’s; Dinosaur Jim, who helped develop BYU’s paleontology program; Dr. Vasco Tanner, who established BYU’s zoology and entomology department; and Wilmer W. Tanner, who was a curator of BYU’s Life Sciences Museum in the 1970s.

Other highlights of the exhibit include an Allosaurus jawbone from the BYU Museum of Paleontology, a collection of insects from the Monte L. Bean Museum and clay pots and figures from BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures.

The exhibit was initially set up on May 12, 2014, having replaced the Orson Scott Card exhibit, which ran from October 2013 to March 2014.