Why You Should Switch to a Toxin-Free Lifestyle.

Look under your kitchen sink, pick out any random cleaning product that you have purchased and use, turn it around and look at the label, I would be safe to bet that you couldn’t tell me what more than maybe three of the ingredients in that bottle are. That’s because companies don’t want you to know exactly what is in their products because some of them might scare you! Environmental experts say that the average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals that we routinely expose our bodies to, from phthalates in synthetic fragrances to noxious fumes in oven cleaners that we willingly heat up! These common ingredients in our household products have been linked to some seriously scary things like asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, neurotoxicity and the list goes on and on! I know some of you are thinking, if this what such a outright cause of these diseases why hasn’t something been done about it and why are they still being made and used without any second thought? The answer to that question makes me sad, scared and angry all at the same time, manufactures continue that in small amounts these toxic ingredients  aren’t likely to be a problem but you can’t tell me that you use a product once and throw it away and if you have found something that you think works well you go buy more right!? Well that’s the issue, the routine exposure to these chemicals and in combinations of other products you may use with it haven’t been studied and it’s impossible to accurately gage the risks that you are exposing your body to. There is no federal regulations of chemicals in household products nor are they required to meet any safety standards, supply in testing data or notifications in order to bring the product to the market. This is why you see many household products, like Roundup and Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, come out years later as products that have been substantially linked to cancer.

Ok so now that I have officially freaked you out, let me help you. We are all keepers of our respective households, you control what comes in and what leaves. Now is a better time than ever to ditch and switch your toxic everyday products for mirroring ones that give you the same result without harming your body. Most of the time the excuse people have is that it’s too expensive and you already have the products so you may as well use them and I totally get where you’re coming from because I have been in your shoes but it’s also really not that expensive, and many of the products/cleaners you can make for yourself with other products you already have around your house. I have made the personal choice to add essential oils to my lifestyle because they have so many great benefits that are natural and do not harm my body. My personal choice in an essential oil company is Young Living because I like the platform they stand on and they are 100% upfront and honest with what exactly is in all of their products but not only that, they tell you where each and every product is derived from. This give me a peace of mind knowing that I know exactly what I am breathing in or putting into my body and allows me the freedom to make cleaner choices within my household. I haven’t even mentioned their cleaner but you know how cleaners tell you to induce vomiting or call poison control in chemical is ingested, well Young Living Thieves Cleaner just says to dilute with water. Ummm what?! How crazy is it to know there is a cleaning product out there that is so toxin free that even if it does get ingested all you have to do is drink water to dilute it because your body doesn’t need that much essential oil!

Change is possible people and the time is now to rethink what is under that kitchen sink! You are the keeper of your own home and only you have the power to make a difference in what products come in that door!

3 Shows on Netflix That You Have to Watch

1.   The Office

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With 9 Seasons of awkward, stress inducing comedy, the office comes in at number 1 on my list. This extremely quotable and relatable series on Netflix has been my go-to show for as long as I can remember. Even though I have gone through the entire series about 100 times, I still find myself looking forward to sitting down and binging 5-10 episodes after classes.

From the rivalry between Dunder Mifflin’s top salesmen, Dwight and Jim, to the extremely inappropriate yet effective antics of the “World’s Best Boss” Michael Scott, the office is a timeless classic that many will miss when it leaves Netflix at the end of this year. However, NBC will be picking up this incredible series on its own streaming service at the beginning of 2021 so there is no need to worry.

For those who have never heard of the office, it can be tough to get into. When I introduced the office to one of my friends, they didn’t understand why Michael Scott was so awkward and intrusive and why Dwight took his job as a paper salesman so seriously. However, after a couple episodes, they finally realized that LITERALLY the entire show is one continuous joke and since then, have gone through the series at least 5 times. If you’re ever looking for a new show to run through, need a good laugh, or want to get a little emotional and shed some tears, the office is the show for you.

2.   Breaking Bad

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Breaking Bad follows Walter White, a 50-year-old high school chemistry teacher who was recently diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. Missing out on making a fortune from the company he helped create, Gray Matter, Walt resorts to drastic measures in order to pay for his chemo treatments and to help set up his family for the future. Accompanied by his former student, Jesse Pinkman, Walt begins manufacturing methamphetamine in an RV in the middle of a desert in New Mexico.

At the beginning, Walt is a mild-mannered family man with only one goal, bring in as much money as possible to help his family before he goes. While providing for his young family remains his main goal throughout the entire series, Walt slowly becomes less of a mild-mannered family man and transforms into a drug kingpin known as Heisenberg. Having won countless awards for his performance as Walter White and being called one of the most iconic TV characters of all time, Bryan Cranston is by far the star of the show. He will not only play with your head, but your heart as well, whether that be due to his problems with his family down the line or from the times Heisenberg goes out of his way to protect the ones he cares about.

Personally, I could go on and on about this incredible show, but then there would be no need for you to watch it! So, I will leave you with this. With 5 seasons of drama, and meth, infused action, Breaking Bad is one of the greatest shows of all time which is a title it will hold for a very long time. From the slow but steady transition of Walt to Heisenberg to the quotable yet heart throbbing actions of Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad is a must watch.

3.   Formula 1: Drive to Survive

 

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My final pick for shows on Netflix that you have to watch is Formula 1: Drive to Survive. While there are plenty of other shows that could fill this spot, I believe that this docuseries doesn’t get the credit it deserves. My first two picks were well-known shows that have received endless amounts of praise, but this docuseries on the Formula 1 2018 World Championship needs more attention. Documentaries are already a niche section of Netflix and attaching a sport that not a lot of people know about makes it that much harder to get people interested, so here’s my pitch.

Formula 1 is the peak of motorsport. The cars, drivers, teams, equipment, and sponsors are all the best in the world, and not to hate on NASCAR, but Formula 1 is worlds beyond what any NASCAR team could dream of. In total, there are 10 teams in Formula 1 with two cars and drivers to accompany them. These teams will only spend months developing their cars before competing in 22 Grand Prix races all over the world. The thing that I love the most about Formula 1 is how the race weekend is structured. On Thursday and Friday, the teams break out their cars, set up their paddocks, and begin practicing on the track to test their car and engine setups. Saturday is for Qualifying, which means drivers are pushing their cars to the limit in order to extract milliseconds out of their lap times so they can get as close to the front row as possible. Finally, the day everyone has been waiting for, Sunday; Race day. After the race, teams break down all their equipment and ship off to the next country for the next race.

The Formula 1: Drive to Survive docuseries goes behind the scenes so we can see what it takes to bring this spectacle of motorsport to life. While the first season only features 8 of the teams, excluding Ferrari and Mercedes, Season 2, which is set to come out on February 28th, 2020, will include all 10 teams. If you want to learn about what it takes to set up a Formula 1 team, what goes through the driver’s head before, during, and after races, and what Formula 1 is as a whole, then Formula 1: Drive to Survive is the docuseries for you.

 

– Eric Mott

3 Reasons not to Waste a 404 Page

Considering nearly every web platform has the ability to produce a useful 404 page, It is amazing how many web designers simply do not understand how to properly utilize a 404 page on their sites.

For those who do not know what a 404 page is, it is what a website displays when you attempt to go to a page or post that either does not exist or has a broken link.

Here is an example of a poorly designed 404 page.

And here is an example of a well designed 404 page.

Typically, when finding themselves on a 404 page most will leave the site and attempt to find the information they were looking for elsewhere. This is why the 404 page is so important. In this post, I will briefly go over a few reasons why everyone needs to be utilizing the 404 pages on their websites.

A good 404 will create a better UX

One of the best and easiest ways to begin building a 404 page is by giving it a look that is consistent with the branding on the rest of the site. The best way to determine if you have done this correctly is by ensuring that those using it would be aware of what website they are on even if they have found themselves on a 404 page. This can be done by adding the main parts they would see on the rest of the site like the logo, menus, and sidebars. Additionally, you could also build on this by giving them options on the 404 page to help them find information relevant to what they were originally searching for.

A good 404 will reduce bounce rate

A byproduct of building a 404 page that is congruent with the rest of the website is that it will decrease the website’s bounce rate which is an extremely important part of Google’s ranking algorithm. Pages that have higher bounce rates and lower times on-site will appear lower on search results. This is because the search engine has determined that the information found on the site may be less relevant to the user than similar content displayed on another website.

A 404 page can be a useful tool

Lastly, another great way to utilize a 404  page is by using it to examine how frequently users find themselves on it. Often times web designers will set up a page redirect to send all 404 traffic to a working page. This does eliminate all 404 status codes but it will also make it far more difficult to find broken internal as well as inbound links. For example, If you happen to see a vast increase in the amount of 404 codes over a short period of time it could be a sign of broken links on the site that need to be addressed.

Ultimately, if a 404 page is built correctly it can be another useful asset to a site that will positively increase overall user experience, help the site rank higher on search engines and can be used to help find issues that need to be addressed. There are more ways to enhance a 404 page but just implementing these 3 easy steps will go a long way in terms of beginning to understand how useful it truly can be.

5 Netflix Series You Have to Watch

The world of television and media has been completely reshaped by the likes of streaming services like Netflix. This is mainly because of the streaming and binge worthy capabilities of some of its series. Here are 5 series on Netflix that I believe no one who watches Netflix should not having in their viewing archives. (Not in order of favorites)

1. The Witcher

This series follows the life of Geralt, who is a bounty collecting monster hunter. As a mutated human like witcher, he is met with great distrust from the rest of the human population as he continues to save that same group from ravenous monsters.

2. Narcos

Narcos is a look back at the rise of the cocaine and drug wars that gripped the US and Colombia under the control of Pablo Escobar. As Escobar becomes a billionaire and king of the trade, it also shows the strenuous effort that law enforcement and the government had to make in order to track him down.

3. Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is a series about the urban gangster family the Peaky Blinders which is set in Birmingham, England after WW1. This follows the Blinders never ending turf war against other criminal organizations in a very shellshocked post war Britain.

4. Explained

This series goes into a broad range of relevant topics in todays world. It covers things from Pandemics and cryptocurrency to how the brain works. If you like to learn things about stuff you wont typically learn everyday this is a great pick.

5. Black Mirror

Black Mirror is probably one of my favorite shows of all time. It is a collection of different stories that shed light on the potentially twisted and unknown powers of modern technology. This show’s perspective on how there can be heavy consequences in innovation gives an eerie look into what the future could hold.

How To Thrive As A Single Parent Student

To start, remember that you have got this! You are starting an adventure that will have lasting impacts on you and your family, regardless of your starting support network size.  You can do this.

Here are a few tips to make the transition a little less stressful as you go back to school:

Start Building a Support Network

The more support you have through your college experience, even if it is just for yourself, the better it will be in the long run for you and your kids. We’ll talk about some support network ideas for the kids in just a moment.

Begin in your school’s student success center. In the business school, they have been a great resource for me. They have assisted me with my resume and they have been an encouragement for so much of the hard steps.

They even made a way for me to have access to career fairs that would have been difficult to attend with my daughter.  The first semester of the evening career fair, they even offered to watch her! The second semester, they asked a MISA (Management Information Student Association) member to watch children for the event. That is an amazing resource!  They have been incredibly good to me. They would not have known my need, however if I had not taken the first step to meet with them.

Meet with your Professors

I cannot stress enough how vital this is. Your professors want you to succeed and want to help you!

Every professor in and out of my major has been wonderful. I do feel like I was incredibly blessed haven chosen the MIS degree path. My professors have supported, encouraged, given hard advice, and pushed me to be the best I could be and not limit myself because of the fact that I am a single mom and a non-traditional student. I have signed a contract for an amazing career, before I graduate, because of my professors.

They did things that made it easier for me to succeed. For example, I brought my daughter to class on the days when she was out of school in the middle of the week.

Here is the truth though, I emailed or talked to my professors to make sure it was okay to bring her with me.  I never wanted them to think I took it for granted and I wanted them to have an option to say no. They have never not allowed me to bring her with me. Every time I have needed to bring my daughter, all of my professors have been gracious towards me and her.

Do Not Limit Yourself to Just Your College

Ask about resources that will help you succeed in your learning and then follow up and utilize them.  Need help with writing? Go to the writing center. If you have a kid that is young enough to go to ASUM childcare, utilize that resource. If you need help with almost any high fail rate class, there is a study jam or tutoring to be found in the evenings or in the Lomasson building.

The generosity of faculty, staff and other students,  was one of the things that most surprised me in this experience as a non-traditional single parent student.

Photo by Laurent Peignault on Unsplash

Support For Your Child

How Do You Balance Homework And Parenting?

My daughter was 8-years-old when I began school, so we were able to have conversations about what it was like to be in college from the start. We do a lot of talking through her feelings when it gets hard and she feels like she is not getting the level of attention that she needs. I try to be as validating as possible about how challenging it can be for her, too.

We make compromises as well. So, for example, I will set a timer for ten minutes and I will stop working on homework once that goes off just to be present with her. I will sometimes set another timer to know when to get back to my assignments.

 How Do You Handle Out Of School Days While Still Having Class?

I typically take my daughter with me. She gets screen time during the classes, which is a treat for her. Plus, I let her know that I am excited that she gets to attend class with me. Like I said before, my professors have been very kind to her and I have also found that other students make her feel welcome to be in the class.

Another option, here in Missoula, are drop-in daycare centers. The one that I will use on occasion is very loving and my daughter feels safe there.

How Do You Handle Your Child Being Sick?

The university does not have a great solution for sick kids.  However,  after growing my friend base and support group, I have found that there are some faculty, staff and other students are willing to help me and not just from my own college.  I have also found that my professors have been very understanding through the process of having a sick child.  So seriously, talk to your professors!

Conclusion

The building of a support network is very important to your success as a student. I believe that if you are willing to put yourself out there and be friendly, you will be able to have the support group that you need.  I have found that the University of Montana’s faculty, staff and students are an incredible group of people that, on the whole, want to be in your corner as you pursue your educational goals!

Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash

 

 

Mandy Fischer is a single parent to an amazing 10-year-old daughter. She will be graduating the Spring of 2020 from the University of Montana with a Business Management Information Systems degree. She recently accepted a position with Deloitte that begins after graduation and is excited for the future!