All posts by Devin Newby

Paw Print Editor in Chief Devin Newby writes the weekly sports column "The Final Buzzer."

Everything I Learned About: The “Perfect” Day

Before spring break started, I found something particularly interesting, but to keep up suspense and drama, I’m not going to tell you what I found just quite yet. Instead, I’m going to explain how I found this “interesting thing,” While some people went off to a different state to “soak up the sun” for break, I was working and sleeping, but I was mostly watching Netflix.

This interesting thing would take commitment, time, effort and a free day. What was this interesting thing? Well, it is supposedly the perfect day, according to a study of 900 people who were interviewed by sociologists. So after combining these activities and averaging out some times, they were left with a list of activities and times for each. A little curious about this, I wanted to see what this perfect day would really be like, and so I did this perfect day on Easter.

Below is a list of these activities:
Intimate relations: 106 minutes
Socializing: 82 minutes
Relaxing: 78 minutes
Eating: 74 minutes
Pray/Meditate: 73 minutes
Exercising: 68 minutes
On the phone: 57 minutes
Shopping: 56 minutes
Watching TV: 55 minutes
Preparing food: 50 minutes
Computer: 48 minutes
Housework: 47 minutes
Childcare: 46 minutes
Sleeping: 46 minutes
Working: 36 minutes
Commuting: 33 minutes

As you can see, it is a fun-packed day full of exciting activities, self-reflection and other things. My morning started at 6 am, but I added on the 46 minutes for the sleeping, and then I “relaxed” by laying awake in my bed for 78 minutes. So technically I didn’t get out of bed until 8 am.

I’m not sure what came over me, but before I knew it I was putting on my running shoes, strapping my dog to his leash and hitting the road. I substituted ‘intimate relations’ for walking my dog, because I figured that connecting with my dog was good enough.

Due to the fact that it was Easter, I went to Walmart to pick up some food, and drove out to a family friend’s house, arguably my second family, to socialize and eat. The drive to and from their house took up my commuting time. Before bed, I prepared myself a midnight snack, curled up on the couch to Grey’s Anatomy and then went to bed.

The whole experience was an interesting one. I tried to not explain what I was doing to anyone and just see how the day went. Because it was a holiday, I felt that it was a lot more cheery than other days, and going to church for my 73 minutes of praying/meditating was a nice change of my usual Sunday.

I did think about something else other than the pleasantries that came along with this experiment. Being a pessimist at times, I found a couple of negative things, as well. I realized that I was so focused on looking at my alarm clock and timing out each and every action that I never really got to enjoy a lot of it. The perfect day needed to be completed in 24 hours, and that was the fact that burned the back of my head during most of the day. So while this may have been a perfect day to most women, it was less than enjoyable to this guy.

It made me think about our obsession with time. Clocking in and out of work, trying to get our eight hours of sleep each night, 60 minutes of exercise, etc. Though the “perfect day” may be perfect to some people, it was less than pleasant to me. If you ever have a free day coming up, I challenge you to try the perfect day for yourself. Maybe you might just find your new weekend routine, or maybe you’ll buy a ticket and hit the tracks on the train of negativity like I did. Either way, this was a great experiment to learn not only about time management, but also to learn more about myself.

Seniors Reflect on High School

The Class of 2015 will be moving on from high school on graduation day and onto their new lives. As their high school career comes to an end, seniors reflect on their time at Black River Falls.

“My favorite memory of high school is being able to play sports with my best friends,” said senior Matthew LaFaunge. “My sophomore year, when the football team made it to level 4 was one of the most memorable seasons I will have.”

LaFaunge played football all four years of high school as a wide receiver and looks forward to continuing his love of the sport in college.

“After high school, I will be attending the University of St. Thomas and playing football.”

While LaFaunge will continue his football career in college, senior Mary Onstad will be continuing her own favorite activity.

“I’m going to be attending Augsburg College in the fall for music therapy,” said Onstad.

As some seniors pursue their high school hobbies as a career, Lauren Harkner has other ideas.

“[I will be] going to UWEC to major in biology and into the pre-professional medical program,” said Harkner.

Though Harkner will be pursuing other goals than LaFaunge, both of their most cherished memories in high school deal with the sports they were involved in.

“My favorite memory is this year the volleyball team beat GET 30-32. It was crazy and fun,” said Harkner.

While LaFaunge and Harkner reflect on the sports that they were involved in, they think about some things they wish they would have been told before their senior year.

“It may seem far off, like you’re gonna be in high school forever, but it’s really not. Start making plans for your future, but don’t be scared if you don’t know what you want to do for sure,” said Harkner. “Even though you might know who you are and your personality, there’s nothing wrong with finding yourself in college.”

While Harkner advises students on the future, LaFaunge warns others not to look too far ahead and instead focus on the present.

“My advice to juniors is that, though senior year is approaching and you begin to think about colleges and the future, do not look past your senior year,” said LaFaunge. “It is kind of cliche, but it’s true–time does fly. Live in the moment and try [to] stay stress-free. Do not worry about what others think. Worry about making yourself happy.”

While LaFaunge focuses on the present and gives some tips to living a happy senior year, senior Hannah Shankey advises others to be open to change.

“To the juniors that are starting to think about what you want to do after high school: be prepared to change your mind many times. I changed my mind on what I wanted to do after high school probably three to five times. Have an open mind! Nobody can predict your future,” said Shankey.

As every other year, there were some things that seniors were told what their senior year would be like, but with these things came some surprises that they weren’t expecting.

“The most surprising thing I learned senior year is that you have to do what’s best for you and you only,” said LaFaunge.

“The most surprising thing I learned my senior year is, that you will be surprised on what you can achieve just by telling yourself that you are capable,” said Shankey. “Whether that’s getting accepted to a certain college, or even figuring out what you want to do with your life.”

As a month and a half remains of their final year of high school, some of them have different feelings on what leaving does to them emotionally.

“I just haven’t been able to grasp the fact that this is it. I’ve made it,” said Onstad. “I’ve spent years watching seniors graduate and go off to start their new lives, and now it’s me. It’s like it’s not real yet, and I think it will take June 7th to make this a reality for me.”

While seniors like Onstad are waiting for the realization to them, seniors like LaFaunge aren’t sure that one emotion can sum up the feelings on the end of their high school careers.

“There are signs of joy but also sadness. I am excited to see what the future holds for me, but I am also sad that the friendships I made in high school may be coming to an end,” said LaFaunge.

“As high school is coming to an end I am feeling happy to be able to move on and achieve my next step in life; however, I will miss a lot of the close ties I have made to the great people that I have gotten to know over the past 13 years,” said Shankey. “All things must come to an end, and I am excited to see what the future has in store for me.”

The Class of 2015 is set to graduate Sunday, June 7 at Tiger Stadium.

Everything I Learned About: First Graders

Every year since my freshman year, I have traveled through the schools in Black River Falls School District to present a variety of topics: drugs, saying nice things, not bullying people online, etc. This year I helped put together the “Three Little Pigs” presentation about the dangers of smoking for first graders. Though I was supposed to teach first graders about smoking, they taught me more about something else. I learned that even first graders are not as aren’t innocent as most people are led to believe.

In our play, there were the three little pigs and a big bad wolf. While the big bad wolf was supposed to be so big and tough because of smoking, the three little pigs bashed him and told him about the dangers of smoking. Without putting up a fight, the wolf dropped his habit and even learned a “fun” song. It may sound cheesy, but it’s for first graders so they’re okay with cheesy, or so I thought.

After our little presentation, guidance counselor Mrs. Ferstenou asked the kids questions. This is where their lesson ended, and where mine began.

“What is the chemical in cigarettes that makes people get hooked,” Ferstenou asked.

I wasn’t expecting an answer; however, these “little darlings” had a lot to say. While I was expecting to hear “nicotine” or complete silence, I got sad full-length stories or drugs that I didn’t even know about until Breaking Bad became popular.

Cocaine, Crystal Meth, Marijuana, Weed, and a cross between “gasses” and “acid” (sound it out for yourself), were just a few of my favorite answers. Though funny at first, I realized that while I was eating play-doh and coloring with crayons in first grade, these children were hearing about crystal meth and other unhealthy habits.

You know those parents that baby their children and are completely oblivious to their imperfections? Well, I slowly started to realize that I would become one of those parents. I went into the classes expecting that this was their first exposure to cigarettes, but I was bluntly surprised when some children even knew how drug users do drugs like heroin.

So, I learned an important lesson: never underestimate six and seven-year-olds. They may not be purifying drugs to sell on the streets, but they are aware. Sometimes, parents and siblings forget that small children really do absorb a large percentage of the information around them.

We shouldn’t make our children oblivious to the world around them, but we shouldn’t be oblivious to the fact that our actions reflect on the youth of the world. People need to be careful about what they spread to children. I’m not just talking about their little siblings or their own children, but children that you pass in your everyday lives. I don’t want to go to another classroom and hear a story about how a child is living with a drug user because I used to find worms in the ground when I was their age. I don’t want to hear another kid say weed when referring to marijuana because a weed to me was something I helped my grandmother pull out of her garden when I was their age.

Everything I Learned About Life from the Cinderella Musical

Male lead wasn’t something that I thought I would ever have the privilege of saying, but in the first week back from Christmas break, I was surprised to be able to call myself Prince Charming in the musical Cinderella, which as luck should have it, is male lead. As soon as parts were assigned, practices were in full swing and that meant sacrifices had to be made. The early stages of stress began to whisper in my ear.

After schedules were handed out, I was extremely limited on my work hours, and therefore felt an empty space in my pocket from where money should have been. The money stress wasn’t such a big deal until the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities decided to slap me with a $250 confirmation fee, $25 housing application fee, $200 Housing confirmation fee and other costs for other things for other people and for other businesses. So the broke life continued on well into the musical season and probably will continue well after that. Though the money stress may seem like enough, it doesn’t stop there.

At first, practices started at five and ended before the basketball and hockey games started. Then it cut into half time, and before you knew it I was missing entire games all together. Not that that was too much of a big deal, but it’s one of those little things you don’t think about until you don’t have them.

The biggest amount of stress stemmed from the impact I allowed the musical season to have on my grades. Note how I said “I allowed.” The hardest thing by far this year wasn’t memorizing lines or songs or eliminating the awkwardness of not one, but two kisses. It was the struggle to maintain good grades.

The gradually increasing musical practices started to get to me. While I was at practice, I was practicing. That meant I wasn’t typing away on my keyboard while I didn’t have a scene, but instead I just sat somewhere and did nothing. Then when I returned home late at night and somehow exhausted, I would crash…HARD. Some nights I didn’t even take out my contacts, and if I wasn’t taking out my contacts, I was NOT going to be taking out AP Biology homework or thinking about the latest blog post I had to type. Nope. Instead, I let things slowly slip out of hand like most students do towards the end of a semester–until crunch time had to sink in.

Stress really didn’t hit me until crunch time did as usual. The worst part? It’s not the end of the semester, which means I WILL be doing this process again at the end of the semester with everyone else that procrastinates. I know that I shouldn’t procrastinate, as does everyone else, but it just happens, and when it does we feel as if it’s the most stress we’ve ever felt in our entire lives. Sadly, failing a class is not an option. If I were to fail a class, all of the lines everyone had memorized would abruptly come to an end because I couldn’t finish my work. So, I added that to my list. What is this list, you may ask? Well since you’re full of questions as usual, I’ll tell you.

As at the end of every musical, I do a lot of reflection. I list off the things I learned from beginning to end.

So here’s my list:

  1. Never sell yourself short. Maybe you want a lead role in a musical, or maybe you want to be admitted to Harvard. Whatever your goal is, you have to try instead of beating yourself up before you actually do something to achieve it.
  2. If you’re stressed out, do something about it. If you are really upset that you couldn’t hang out with your friends at a basketball game, hang out on the weekend (as long it’s not the Big Honkin’ Rehearsal from 1pm-9:30pm on a Sunday) and do something. If you’re having stress from being broke, figure out where your money is going and look for cheaper alternatives and things you really don’t need. Most importantly, if you’re stressed out about your grades, you need to tell someone that can help (i.e: the teachers for the classes you’re stressed out about). Also, you need to give yourself a realization that if you don’t get crackin’ and do something about it, it will only hurt you in the end when you’re too far buried to catch up.
  3. Learn to say no sometimes. I learned early on that I was taking too much on. If someone asked me to help them with their Spanish homework or Math homework, I immediately said yes and helped them even if I was doing my own homework. That only puts you further behind.
  4. Don’t get sick the week of the show. I don’t know if I need to go into more detail here. It just sucks.
  5. If you can’t think of the right line to say, make something up that sounds real. In the beginning, I forgot my lines a lot, but I had to play it off and move on as if I hadn’t messed up. This is a great life lesson, too.Here comes my metaphor. Life is a forgotten line that you make up, hope it works and move on as if nothing happened. In the future, you’re “making up” skills get better until you forget that you ever had a different line there at all.
  6. When stressed, surround yourself with things that make you happy. As I write this I am feeling stressed, but instead of sleeping, I made myself lasagna, I’m jamming out to my music and sitting up in my bed in my favorite sweatshirt.

So, though the stress around me may be too much to handle sometimes, it’s those moments when I’m sitting in my bed, eating lasagna in my favorite sweatshirt and listening to my favorite music that makes the stress just a little easier to handle.

Everything I Should Have Been Told: Traveling by Air

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 15: A girl sleeps in the departure lounge at Gatwick airport on April 15, 2010 in London, England. All flights in and out of Britain’s airports have been grounded due to a plume of volcanic ash drifting across northern Europe from an eruption in Iceland. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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Though I may have written a 4,555 word article about how to travel by air, even I myself am no perfect specimen of air travel wisdom. So instead of telling you what you should do, I’m going to tell you what I should have done in hindsight while making my way to Tampa and back.

This time, I decided that flying Delta was my best option to fly. The pros of Delta, to review, are that they are a larger airline and, hence, they have more airplanes. This means that if your flight is overbooked or somehow gets cancelled, they will usually have another plane going to your same destination within a couple of hours of your original time. The unpredictability of the weather in the midwest already made me a little wary as it started to snow a lot harder than expected before I left my house to go to the airport. For that reason, my dad and I decided to leave about 30 minutes before we would have if the roads were clear.

I got to the airport and thanks to the Delta app, I had my boarding pass and a carry-on, and so I was allowed to get into the security line right away. I will be completely honest: nothing went wrong on the way there, but it was the way back that really caused some problems.

First off, I didn’t have enough space in my suitcase to bring things back like I thought I would. Luckily, my grandparents gave me a suitcase to use that I could fit everything in. It was a rare case that this worked out. In hindsight, I should have started off with my suitcase only half or ¾ full and then saved the rest for gifts.

If you happen to be in my situation, you might want to bring some headphones and a full playlist. What is the situation, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you. The stereotype that all children cry on airplanes is no longer a matter of opinion. It is a cold, hard fact. On my plane ride from Tampa to Minneapolis, I happened to be placed right behind a toddler who, for some reason, thought that screaming bloody murder for the three and a half hour flight seemed to be the best use of his time. Others questioned their sanity, but I, fellow travelers, rocked out to some of the Top 40’s music that has been overplayed on the radio.

The biggest issue I had was getting from my destination, back to my house.

Why, you may ask?

Well, aren’t you just full of questions?

When you have family members picking you up from the airport, remember that unlike a shuttle, they can be late. My father is one of those family members that can be very late. How late? Well, from the time I was supposed to land, he was about four hours late. Now this would have been slightly annoying for most people. Mostly because those people would have gotten a full night’s rest the night before they head to the airport. I however, am not one of those normal people. While at first sitting and waiting wasn’t that bad, it soon turned into an internal struggle to keep my eyes open and guarding my stuff. Finally giving up, I decided to buy myself a six dollar coffee drink that had enough caffeine in it to give an elephant a heart attack. So not only was I mentally tired, but I happened to be wired at the same time. So, my advice to you is to get some rest the night before because no one wants to deal with the aftermath of an over-tired, over-wired, impatient teenager who was forced to wait for four hours in the freezing cold.

(Thank you Minneapolis-St. Paul airport for programming the automatic doors to shut twenty seconds after someone goes through them).

All in all, there is one thing that I will leave you with. I have missed my connecting flight, I have been patted down and interrogated, I have waited for a seven hour layover, I have endured -40 degree weather after leaving tropical weather, and I have even lost a bag once; however, no matter what the obstacle was, I always got to and from my destination safely. I may have the worst luck in airports and if I can make it through, then you can make it through.