Category Archives: Opinion

Google Pixel 2 Review

Largim Zhuta
Staff Writer

The smartphone market is dominated by Apple and Samsung, and rightfully so. These two tech giants have been duking it out for over a decade — always trying to one-up the other by creating the better phone to attract another consumer. And a decade is a long enough time to build an army of followers *cough* *cough* Apple. But every once in awhile, an underdog will build the courage to enter the market.
This year’s underdog, the Pixel 2 by Google. Mind you, the most these underdogs do is scalp the undecided buyer or the one bored with the usual selection of phones. They are never a threat to the two powerhouses’ customer base. To put it into perspective, Google sold a total of 3.9 million smartphones (Pixel and Pixel 2) in 2017. On average, it took Apple a week to sell the same amount of smartphones according to The Verge. Let that sink in. Regardless, here’s why I think the Pixel 2 is the best smartphone on the market.

Camera and Storage
One of the biggest promises Google made was that the Pixel 2 was going to have the best camera out of its competitors. Boy, did they deliver on its promise. The pictures you can take with Google’s flagship are breathtaking. It delivers a clear, crisp, vibrant, and high-quality image that may be better than actually seeing it with your own eyes. All new smartphones take amazing photos, but the Pixel goes above and beyond.
Google has also generously given Pixel 2 owners unlimited Google Drive storage for pictures and videos — but there’s a catch. Users can store full resolution photos on Drive until 2020, after which all future files stored will be compressed to Google’s “High Quality” size (16-megapixel photos & 1080p videos). It will only compress the files if one were to go over the free 15GB of Drive data all Google-users receive. Don’t forget that phone also has 64 or 128GB (depending on what you choose) of internal storage. So to all the moms out there who love taking photos, Google has answered your prayers. Go on and click that camera button without feeling guilty, they have your back.

Price
The Pixel 2 redefines the term “bang for your buck”. Taking on the biggest names in the smartphone realm, creating an amazing product, and doing it for — wait for it — $650. That is a steal. It keeps up with some of the most daunting competitors such as the iPhone X & Samsung Galaxy S9, in terms of performance and storage, for a fraction of the price. Did I mention that you can buy it factory unlocked and use it with any carrier? Well, you can.

Charging and Battery Life
The battery life on the phone isn’t impressive compared to the competition. It won’t outlive an iPhone or a Samsung. But if you use it moderately, a full charge on the Pixel 2 will get you through a majority of the day. I have yet to have the phone die on me before dinner time, but then again I’m a below-average phone user.

Hey, do you have a charger I can borrow for my phon—-forget it.

You better get used to that. The Pixel 2 further separates itself from the competition by having a USB C charger. What that means is that iPhone and Android chargers (micro USB) won’t work on it. There are benefits to the change in charging design.
For starters, it charges ridiculously fast. I remember plugging it in with 10% remaining on the battery life right before I showered, when I came out, the phone was at 92%. USB-C is the next step in data transfer and charging evolution. All new devices will begin to adopt and use it–that is until they figure out the next best thing. But not only does USB-C transfer data and charge quicker than its predecessors, you can plug the head in either way. No longer will you have to flip over your USB-A head because you had it on the wrong side (which happens every time). We are indeed living in the future, my friends.
This phone doesn’t disappoint. It truly is a great smartphone for a great price; one can’t go wrong with this buy. But by setting the bar so high with the Pixel 2, Google might be setting themselves up for failure with the Pixel 3. I truly believe it will be hard to top the second generation Pixel in terms of performance and value.

 

Kayaking in Southeast Alaska: From a Kayak Guide

IMG_3170
Photo By: Brittany Slick

Brittany Slick
Staff Writer

Last summer I guided over 100 tourists on assorted kayak adventures. My tour is scripted but genuine and my goal is to come back safe, but also have a good experience.
It’s easy to have a good time because it’s kayaking in Alaska, but there are some basics that can’t be looked over.
If guided:
Bring water
Kayaking can be relaxing, but also vigorous and exhausting depending on your effort. In either levels of activity, I highly suggest bringing water. You are using your muscles to fight the tide or waves so your body needs to hydrate.
Wear layers
You never know what the weather is gonna be like, especially in Southeast Alaska. It could be super sunny one hour and then pouring down rain the next. I would definitely wear multiple layers that are easily removable. You may get hot and sweaty while paddling, but it might also be raining and blowing sideways. Just always be prepared.
Waterproof everything- NO COTTON
This one is especially geared to outer garments. While paddling, water comes up in your lap, you might even find yourself dipping your arm in, let me tell you, you will definitely get a little wet no matter what. The most important thing is wearing and bringing things that you can waterproof as much as possible. Any gloves that are not neoprene material are the worst things you could ever bring kayaking. Once they get wet, they will never dry and your hands will slowly become numb leaving you miserable the entire trip. Same with sweatshirts or pants, NEVER WEAR COTTON. I recommend a fleece material for warmth and a rain jacket and rain pants over.
Dry Bag: The Ultimate Alaskan Purse
Waterproof camera, waterproof phone case, waterproof GoPro– all these things are great, but they won’t be so great at the bottom of the ocean with the whales. A dry bag is a great solution to bringing what you want on a kayak without having to worry about waterproofing everything and making it float. The handy dandy little floating neoprene bag of goodness can fit anything and everything you would need: phone, camera, sunglasses, extra layers, snacks, water, etc.
https://www.seallinegear.com/
If unguided:
Bring a radio
You never know what will happen out on the water, so you always want to be prepared with a communication device. When crossing major traffic areas, especially cruise ship paths, you need to do a “securite” call to make other boats aware of your crossing. They can call back on the main channel and tell you to wait for them to pass or go through.
If you can’t go with me, always go with a buddy
Kayaking is even more enjoyable when you have someone alongside you. But, bringing a buddy isn’t just for enjoyment purposes. You never know what is gonna happen out on the water, and it is crucial to have at least one other person with you in case of an emergency.

 

Dear Juniors…

IMG_2682.jpg
Illustration By: Zoe Spencer

Largim Zhuta
Staff Writer

Dear Juniors,
Senior year is fast approaching. Many of you have told yourselves you have plenty of time before having to worry about the college application process–you don’t. The time to start preparing is now.  I’ll be blunt, senior year is brutal. The biggest lie you will be told — next to Santa Clause not being real — is that senior is the best year of high school. Here’s what you need to do to make it — you know what nevermind. You won’t take the advice. Go on doing what you were going to do anyway. I know you won’t listen, but I’ll still give my speel and hope some of it sticks with you.
Standardized Tests
Almost all colleges require an SAT or ACT. The announcements you hear from the counselors’ center regarding standardized tests aren’t for seniors. They are for you. Sign up and take both tests at least once. You will do better on one than the other. Once you figure that out, check out a practice guide from the library and get to work trying to improve it. The ACT and SAT aren’t IQ tests. You can study to improve your score. If you can squeeze in more tests your junior year, do it. You will thank yourself when you won’t have to wake up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday to come take a test during your sleep-deprived senior year.
Essays
The next most important task you can invest your time into is writing college essays. The single most important essay you will write in your high-school career is probably your Common Application Essay — the online application that is used to apply to many colleges and universities. This single essay will be used virtually in every school you apply to and could potentially be the thing that makes you stand out if your test scores aren’t spectacular.
College app essay writing is an art. It requires certain a certain style of writing that highlights you as an awesome and capable student without making you sound arrogant. The reader needs to see and feel who you are through your writing — one thing numbers and test scores can’t do.
That being said, go online, find the most common college essay prompts, and at least be brainstorming about some of them from now until when the Common Application opens up again at the beginning of August. At that point, you should start writing it.
Letter of Recommendations
“Hey Professor Lundsworth, could you write me a letter of recommendation for The University of College?”
“When is it due?”
“In two days.” Awkward silence
Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for letters of recommendations. It’s not fair for the teacher or you. There is some etiquette to follow when asking for a letter: Give at least two-weeks notice (I’d shoot for three), a resume, and background on what it is for.  It gives teachers time to brainstorm. Many will still write it towards the end of the deadline, but they know what they are going to say and how because they have had it in the back of their minds for weeks. Think of it as a less destructive form of procrastination. Have a letter of recommendations from a math/science teacher and a humanities teacher (English, history, the arts, music, etc). If you know what you want to major in and have taken a class that pertains to it, ask for a letter specifically from that teacher. For example, students who have taken Medical Terminology and plan to make a career in the medical field can ask the teacher of that class to write a letter–it looks good.
You know what forget about it. I don’t expect you to follow the advice. That’s the tragic flaw of high-school seniors: realizing the truth only when it’s too late. I don’t want you to have to go through what I did, but I guess there is no better teacher than mistakes. Enjoy your senior year.
P.S. Stock up on stress balls, caffeine for the late nights, and excuses for every conceivable situation that you think will arise your final year of high school.
Sincerely,
Largim Zhuta

 

Eiffel Tower, Yes Please

IMG_1851 (1)

Rosie Kacenas
Staff Writer

On the best day of my life, I got a used Colorado State quarter-zip fleece sweatshirt.
Last Saturday at the Rendezvous thrift store there was sheer and utter madness. I frequently visit the shop on weekends with my friends, and have discovered that if you spend over $10 you get to spin their new wheel of fortune. I usually don’t spend enough to spin, so when I finally got to I was more than excited. Little did I know that fortune was on my side that day.
I spun the wheel and it stopped on the one-and-only three-minute shopping spree. As a fairly unlucky person, I was shocked that I actually landed on something cool. The cashier pulled out her phone and set the timer for three minutes, and the frenzy began. I had already spent about 30 minutes looking around the store prior to my lucky spin, so I knew exactly where all the cool things were.
The plan was simple: cute stuff that I might wear.
There was no countdown, the cashier just set her timer and told me to go. I sprinted through the aisles grabbing everything I thought measured up.
Little Eiffel Tower statues: yes.
Brand new but oversized raincoat: nah.
It was a lot harder than I thought to remember where everything was, so you can imagine my regret as I laid awake for hours that night thinking of all the stuff I should’ve grabbed.
I left with an oversized garbage bag full of clothes, and a bucket full of of knick-knacks. Needless to say, it was one of the most exhilarating days of my life. I consider it to be my first step to getting shopping sprees to high-end stores like Marc Jacobs when I’m rich and famous. For now, I’m happy with my slightly worn sweaters and brand new Marells. Three days later, I am writing this in my newly beloved CSU quarter-zip that I have deemed to be my journalism Pulitzer pullover.

Don’t just plan, Do

 

IMG_1675

Alex Boegler
Staff Writer

Day after day I walk into class with a plan to get things done, rarely does that happen
Ah yes, here I am finally coming back to this article weeks after I typed out the first line, you can just assume I got close to zero work done during those weeks.
Year after year people create New Year’s resolutions for themselves, most of them being eating healthier or going to the gym twice a week. Often times that doesn’t play out the way people plan it to. But that’s all their resolution really is – a plan.
Jeff Lund once told me, “A plan is nothing without action.” That is why this year instead of creating this plan in my head of how I’m going to do better, I am choosing instead to focus on the word “action.” This way I am constantly reminded to take action, do better, get things done, rather than just having another useless plan in my head.
Every morning when I wake up, the first word on my mind is “action”. I tell myself to get up, get dressed, and do the things I need to do. Throughout my day I cross things off my to-do list, feels great to actually get things done.
Starting the year off this way was easy. At the turn of the year, I was fired up and full of energy and hope. I was getting my homework done, actually learning in class and crossing tasks off my list. But once the days and weeks starting dragging on, I lost that excitement and the word “action” seemed to be moving further and further away from my focus.
It has been about a month into 2018 and I am realizing that I really haven’t accomplished much. I haven’t taken action on any of my well thought out plans. For example, I have a google doc titled “Journalism” it has all my article ideas and interview questions planned out, and you can bet I waste away my time every day in journalism just tweaking and editing my plans instead of actually taking the first step to finishing those articles. It is so much easier to sit and think about what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it, rather than actually typing out the beginnings of each article and starting the interviews. I sit in here for 50 minutes and stare at my screen just thinking about everything that I could be doing. That is why my word for the year is “action.”
It’s finally time for me to sit behind the computer and fill out endless scholarships and college applications. You already know I have a plan of how I’m going to tackle all these tasks, I took the time to sit down and write them in my calendar. They’re even color coded! But have I even started any of that nonsense? That’s a big, fat, no.
I often feel disappointed with myself. How can I waste away all my time on Snapchat and Instagram making sure my selfies look good and that I like all my friends’ post, when really none of that matters. I know that I need to be doing the not so fun things. It’s frustrating to continue with the same behavior even though I know better. I’ve had enough of sitting back and not accomplishing anything, now is the time to take action and break the cycle of procrastination.
Soon enough it will all come back to bite me in the butt when I have eight schools to apply to and 12 essays to write in one night. I know that I can do better, I need to get myself out of the seemingly endless cycle of unproductiveness, and get back on the progress train. I need to stop wasting away the day trying to beat my high score on Crossy Road and start focusing on the bigger, more important things.
2018 is my year to throw mindless plan making out the window and to start taking action.

No Cell-f Control

IMG_0907
Hannah Maxwell
Editor

I crafted a dream schedule this school year. Two aide periods, one online lab, and an English class gives me the freedom to write what I want. I thought I had carved out four hours, five days a week, for scholarships. Instead I have become a pro at many thoughtless games and I check social media fives times more than I used to. Decent plan, poor execution.
In an attempt to take back some of that lost time, I deleted all games and social media, excluding Twitter, from my phone. The sad thing is, I still find myself unlocking my phone just as many times a day. Instead of scrolling through posts I’d already seen, I stare blankly trying the think of the reason I opened it in the first place. Initially I thought I was having withdrawals, but then I realized something way worse, constantly being on my phone had become a habit.
It would be an easy habit to break if I had a better understanding of what caused my internal need to have my phone in hand at all hours. Even when I’m at my own house I rarely set it down. I get anxious if I can’t feel its weight in my pocket.
Because I have made being on my phone essential to my existence, I have trouble focusing on things for more than a couple minutes since my mind is constantly thinking about my stupid phone. I’ve tried to make reading a habit and it’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I get distracted at the slightest things and end up scanning the pages without soaking in the information. Someone else’s phone dinging or the phantom vibration in my pocket instantly takes my attention away from what I’m trying to accomplish. I am no longer in control of myself, it feels like part of my mind is on a social media leash perfected by the neurologists employed by Facebook et al.
Not once in four years of high school have I forgot my phone at home, not one single day. The scariest thing is that I’m aware of the problem, but haven’t done anything to find a solution until now. I got my first B in Chem 2 and thinking back I don’t think I ever gave Powell my undivided attention. I’m proud of my 3.93 GPA but I can’t help wondering if my addiction to my phone is the reason I let that other tenth of a point slip away. In the long run it hasn’t made a difference, but it’s the principle of it. My lack of prioritization was my demise. I let my phone take over, I watched it reach for the controls and did nothing to stop it.
I want to believe I won’t accept this fate. That I will fight back and not let myself be controlled by an inanimate object. That by admitting I have a problem I can start taking steps toward a permanent solution. I will turn off my phone an hour before I go to bed and I will put my phone on airplane mode during class.
Well, that’s the plan anyway.

 

Best movie moments 2017

Dante Troina
Staff Writer

2017 is at a close, Oscar nominees have been announced, and (most) movies from last year have made their rounds through theaters. Now is the perfect time to talk about the best moments in movies across 2017, a year in which we experienced the Justice League on screen for the first time, and a new Star Wars movie was released; there were plenty of great scenes and moments that made me feel like a five year old rediscovering his passion for movies again. So here are my top five movie moments of the past year:

 IT – Georgie Meets Pennywise

I don’t think there’s another scene from 2017 that will be more remembered than the shot of Pennywise peeking out of the sewer at Georgie in his yellow raincoat. Like the purple-infused La La Land dancing shot in 2016, or Max tied to the front of a post apocalyptic death car in 2015, Pennywise in the sewer showed where film was at this year, and was a scene to define a year in movies.
Georgie’s innocence in his short screen time is cranked up to 100, making the scene even more intense mid way through the conversation, when he thinks something is wrong about this clown being in the sewer. Pennywise’s dialogue in the scene is so simple, but it just works. The way Bill Skarsgard chooses to enunciate the words as he says them is just perfect. The excitement in, ‘My name is Pennywise, the dancing clown’ just seems like he knows he’s about to get his first kill in years on this unsuspecting child.
The Dancing Clown eventually just resorts to the most simple phrase when you’re convincing a kid to get something, ‘here… Take it’ he says as his eyes light up and the hand pokes down, out from underneath the yellow raincoat Georgie is sporting. Pennywise then grows into the mouth of jaws, and chomps off poor Georgie’s arm; Georgie thrusts back and tries crawling away, but it is too little, too late, the last image we see is him getting dragged into the sewer, leaving it up to our imaginations what comes next.

 Spider-Man: Homecoming – Car Interrogation

I heard about ten different iterations of ‘oh s***’ in my theatre as Peter Parker is greeted at the front door of his homecoming date by… The villain he’s been trying to take down all movie.
The timing of this scene is absolutely perfect; right as the second act dies down, we’re kind of left off with a broken Peter, wondering where he’ll go after Tony Stark takes his suit back. As Adrian Toomes/The Vulture opens the door, it’s clear as day exactly what Peter needs to and will do to prove he’s Spider-Man.
What follows is one of the funniest and most awkward date pictures of all time being taken, and then Peter and his date Liz are off to Homecoming, being driven by The Vulture. The whole car ride, Peter can’t blink or take his eyes off of Toomes, and as Liz engages in small talk, Toomes starts to piece together, slowly, who Peter really is. What I love so much about this scene is that it’s dialogue driven in an action movie. Me and my friends could literally go into a car and (with worse acting) remake the scene entirely if we wanted to.
Sweat slowly begins to become reminiscent on Peter’s face as he starts to realize something is up, and Liz is still as oblivious as ever, bringing up even more points for her dad to believe Peter is Spider-Man. When they arrive at the dance, Toomes tells his daughter that he needs to give ‘Pete’ the ‘dad talk,’ and let me tell you, I wouldn’t mess with this guy in a million years. He immediately turns with a gun in his hand and gives Peter two options: go in the dance and show my daughter a good time, or come after me and die. Peter walks in the dance with the most feverish look on his face, and then makes his choice, starting off a thrilling third act.

 Baby Driver – Opening Scene

Most of the scenes on here have an emotional peak or a personal reason as to why I like them, but the opening scene for Baby Driver makes my list because it’s just awesome. From the first frame, the theme and tone of the entire film is established. The camera quickly cuts to each of the four main characters, and you know exactly who each of them are just by the looks on their faces. As the words to Bellbottoms begin, Ansel Elgort becomes immediately charismatic and charming as his adoration for music and his car is equally apparent.
The getaway chase is where the scene really picks up though. Baby (Elgort) quickly whips his bright red Subaru around and is followed by multiple cop cars. The best part about the chase is that it combines imaginative elements and crazy stunts, all while being plausible and practical. So many car chases in movies nowadays get it wrong because they just have a ton of flips and crazy stunts that don’t look real and take you out of the movie (I’m looking at you, Transformers), but what Baby Driver gets right is how it captures the moment, and makes the protagonists that are already likeable after a minute of screen time seem vulnerable, but while also showcasing Baby’s skills as a driver.
The end of the scene really sets it apart, as Baby is followed by a helicopter, he confuses it’s tracking with a quick and very clever maneuver; and just like that, Baby Driver is up there with Mad Max and The Dark Knight as one of my favorite car chases of all time.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi  – Throne Room Fight

As the plot is coming to a head in The Last Jedi, this scene acts as the centerpiece for the conflict throughout the film. After Kylo Ren kills Supreme Leader Snoke in the most shocking way possible, it appears for a brief moments that him and Rey are both on the light side of the force as they fight the red guards of Snoke’s throne room.
The shot of Kylo and Rey back to back with their lightsabers lit is poster picture that I’m going to put on my first son’s wall. As they join together, the audience at my midnight premiere screamed and clapped with joy, some people even jumped to their feet with their arms in the air. It was exhilarating. The ensuing fight didn’t disappoint at all either. The eight red guards actually made for a compelling opponent, as they felt worthy enough to put our heroes in danger. Rey and Kylo both showcase their skills without just blowing through the guards, the choreography makes them struggle through each encounter, and had me on the edge of my seat all three times I saw the movie in theaters. Eventually, it gets down to Kylo being choked out by one guard and Rey throwing her lightsaber to him as he lights it through the guard’s head, yeah, it’s awesome, and the creative use of the force is the perfect way to end a fight.

 

Wonder Woman – No Man’s Land

 

Every superhero has an origin story that hits home, whether it’s Bruce Wayne’s parents getting murdered in front of him, Peter Parker’s uncle dying on the street, or Captain America being the good kid that finally gets a chance to do what he’s always wanted.
For Wonder Woman, the origin is a little… Different. Being molded out of clay by her mother as the greek god Zeus strikes with a bolt of lightning to create life; this makes it incredibly hard to relate to Diana and gives little to no reason for the audience to care about her desire to save lives and fight evil.
Instead of focusing her origin story in Themyscira, director Patty Jenkins instead shows her youth in the city, without developing her character mentally. Diana essentially stays herself in spirit and mental state as she gets older, and her only real development is in her strength and fighting skills as she grows older.
When Wonder Woman’s personal growth comes into view is when she leaves Themyscira, and is thrown into a trench with British soldiers, moving absolutely nowhere, as the German troops are right across a field of nothing in another trench. A field known as ‘No Man’s Land.’ This is where the film could’ve went the absolute wrong way. Wonder Woman could’ve said, “but I am not a man.” It could’ve been overly corny or an awfully timed ‘girl power’ moment, and as Diana turned to the camera, I prepared myself for the cringe worthy dialogue that was inbound, but it didn’t come, instead, Diana says, “It’s what I have to do.”
It’s truly a beautifully realized line, and creates the first piece of mental character development she’s had in the entire movie. Wonder Woman steps into the battlefield, and watches bullets whizz by her, and blocks multiple with her bulletproof bracelets of submission. The choice of filming in slow motion pays off as well, it puts all the focus on Diana and every movement seems that much more important. Eventually, the germans unload everything they’ve got on her, and she blocks them with her shield almost effortlessly, creating some of the most powerful images of the year and some of the best visual storytelling as well.
This scene is timeless, and will be an image that no one forgets for years to come, and that is why it was my favorite movie moment of 2017.