Review: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto


Warning: extreme rant. Approach with caution. It also has a spoiler.

Oh, Halo.

Because I don’t think I’ll be capable of positive thinking after this, I should add that I did enjoy the writing in this book and that I really admire Adornetto for becoming a published author at the age of 14 (she published The Shadow Thief).

And now onto the negatives.

I am writing a book review on Good Friday and I would like to mention that no matter whether you regard angels as mythical beings or not, angels are regarded as powerful, good, pure messengers of God. Actually, they’re that way unless you’re a YA author. The rules bend for you because you MUST accommodate that HAWT boy in your book!

The reason why I picked this book up was that of the overwhelmingly bad reviews on Goodreads. If you go and check it out, the whole first page is chock full of hilariously bad reviews, complete with stress-reduction kits and all (bang your head against a flat surface until you are concussed! Your stress will then be reduced!). And I was super excited to find this book in the library because I thought it would be bad in a FUNNY way.

Nicole, learn your lesson. An overwhelming amount of bad reviews is never wrong. Never pick up this sort of book again.

Let’s start off with the location of this book and geography. Right now, I’m learning about the poverty line, population pyramids, that sort of thing. I’m learning about the overwhelming amount of people who don’t have shelter, who don’t have food, who don’t have access to basic healthcare, who don’t earn enough money to feed their families. Angels should go and improve lives of these people, right?

Wrong again, guys!

In this book, Gabriel, Ivy, and–yes, she is an angel, get this–Bethany go to a sleepy coastal town where the siblings stay in a mansion, eat truffles, send Bethany to high school, and generally have a great time! This is sidestepped by the fact that there is a glaringly obviously villain who arrives at Bethany’s school and then bad things happen.

After that, there’s a happy ending. ALL IS WELL.

So basically, this is what the main characters in this story do to help life on earth:

  • Ivy knits! And volunteers at an aged care facility! I do that with the Duke of Ed program at my school too! Yay! I’m just as good as an angel!
  • Gabriel teaches at a school and he’s moody. And, OMG, because he’s so cute heaps of girls are chasing after him.
  • Bethany goes to school and, let’s see…hmm, what does she do help people? Oh, yes, she falls in love with this guy and it’s totally okay even though she’s an angel because he’s, like, totally hawt and it’s so okay to love hot boys even if it’s against the laws of heaven because he’s, like, cute! She also occasionally snaps out of it and goes and volunteers at the aged care facility because, like, she needs to DO something, right?

There are just…so many problems with this book I can’t even begin to list them all. For one, the author fills up about the first half of the book (and I’m not even exaggerating here) with descriptions of le beautiful town and how great life is on earth. And then she spends the next quarter of the book building up to an achingly obvious conclusion. The fact that I could predict the ending the moment the villain entered the story didn’t help either.

There’s also the part where Bethany reveals that she’s an angel to her human boyfriend, the moment when Gabriel hands her a credit card so she can go shopping for prom (I might add here that Adornetto is Australian, and in Australia, we have no such thing as prom. It’s a SCHOOL DANCE or a SOCIAL), the part when she actually considers having sex with her human boyfriend. And while I’m at it, did I mention that she gets drunk and gets a hangover?

I could go on and on about this, but I think I’m going to stop here. Please don’t read this book, and if you do need to, borrow it from the library. It’s one of the books I can safely say I seriously disliked. One star.

This really wasn’t for me.


Online Education


Online Education or distance learning is differ from traditional education. In this education, students do not go for visiting an actual classroom and listen to an instructor face-to-face. It plays an important role in not only improving academic capability of your child, but it also improves their living habits too. Many children lose their interest in learning due to some problems. On the other hand, some students are very shy and can not ask their doubts from their teachers in the presence of other students. In this situation, online education becomes very useful. There are many benefits of online education .

Today the importance of Online Education is as equal as college education.

We can attend classes from any place all over the world. We can also read and re-read the lectures, discussions, discussions and comments. The only required thing is to have a computer or a laptop with an Internet connection. In the case of accessibility, online education is more flexible than traditional education. An individual can attend classes as per his schedule. Flexible schedule in education allows a student to maintain his priorities. He can also enhance his skills through computer based learning.

In online education, we can access various features on Internet for instance, chat, discussion forums, blogs etc.

These features help us to interact with our peers from varied geographical locations. We can interact with other people across the world over the Internet. Online programs also increase participation among all students. The another main advantage of these programs is the cost. These courses are less expensive as compared to traditional programs. By these courses, we can save money on housing, transportation, books, lost wages and much more. Thus online education brings various benefits for the students such as flexible schedule, save on money, accessibility of course content etc.

Strategies for Selecting the best Online School

Lately launched data recommending that for-profit education institutions graduates aren’t finding positions within their area and for that reason and also have lower loan payment rates may discourage some students from considering online degree programs.

While a lot of the reviews is deeply unsettling, you need to observe that poor career-positioning and loan payment rates aren’t qualities of each and every online school, just for-profits aren’t the sole ones to be affected by such issues. Many ground schools also provide similar issues.

When creating greater education choices, it’s important to investigate and also to weigh your choices. The decisive element in selecting the internet school that’s best for you is research. Let us have a look in a couple of facts to consider when thinking about your school choice.

First, despite the fact that this might appear apparent to a lot of students already, look into the institution’s accreditation status.

Be sure that the school is accredited by looking at the accreditation database maintained through the U.S. Department of Education here. Watch out for schools that employ aggressive prospecting tactics or encourage you to definitely falsify info on documents. Quality online schools should not be reluctant about revealing information.

Many schools, not only online, perform a large amount of handholding with the application.

Inch Make sure to look around. Compare schools, tuition costs, and degree programs offered prior to making a concrete choice. Your education is a vital decision take time to make the correct one.

Area of the U.S. Education Department’s website is devoted to supplying students with details about graduation and loan payment rates. Take a look at their website, here, and find out how good a particular school’s graduates do.

Lastly, it might help you to speak to professionals within the area that you wish to pursue a diploma. They’ve already advice to provide about online degree programs or specific online programs which were useful on their behalf.


The Pitfalls Of Positive Thinking


Do you think Bob Marley was right when he sang Dont Worry Be Happy? After all, why really worry when we have so much to be grateful for? I, however, argue that American culture has imposed mandatory optimism on us which has led to a reflexive response to dismiss disturbing news. We don’t like feeling sad, so we ignore real facts, allowing problems to persist. This leads to our ignorance of what’s really going on in the world around us. If one complains or questions real issues, one is told to stop overanalyzing and put on a smiley face, because no one likes being around a pessimist.

This unspoken rule of positive thinking condemns us to spreading good cheer and making those around us feel comfortable and happy. Complaining is seen as pessimism because we shouldn’t have anything to complain about living in this altruistic and happy world. I believe that to see the beauty in everything attitude is completely delusional and harmful for several reasons.

Ignoring Problems Doesn’t Solve Them: Willful Ignorance

Facts don’t cease to exist because we ignore them. During the financial disaster in 07, people who tried to raise concerns or questions were shut up or fired.

  • You couldn’t say I’m worried about our subprime mortgage exposure or you’d be out.
  • People within Lehman Brothers who tried to point out that the housing prices could not last forever were fired.

In our personal lives:

In an effort not to raise drama,we refuse to talk negatively about things that are real issues. We tell people not to worry so much because life is short, be happy. We take no notice that we’ve completely undermined the significance of their worries and that whatever it is that is bothering them is a real issue in their lives. We need to understand that emotions arise subconsciously in our brains and our reactions to them are involuntary and happen at a subconscious level. Solutions to our worries will only arise when we confront them directly, make necessary adjustments, and move forward on a new path. Dont worry, be happy is all too often an unrealistic and unuseful answer.

To Solve Problems We Need To Realize We DO Have Power

My problem with the positive thinking ideology is the powerlessness of it all when in fact we DO have power, collective power. Our society believes that positive thinking implies that you ignore or avoid dealing with negative events, looking only for the good and denying the bad. This, however, is not the foundation of correct positive thinking (despite what many believe).

Effective positive thinking means dealing with a negative event, allowing the appropriate amount of time for negative emotions to surface, and then moving on from the negativity by focusing on the positive and what can be done to improve upon it. It does not mean ignoring the negative event.

We are burying our heads in the sand because we are refusing to acknowledge upsetting information. As a result, it makes us intellectually inept and does nothing to solve problems. If we were more vigilant, open minded and open to new knowledge that challenges our existing beliefs, we could solve a lot of problems.

We are hardwired to be vigilant…and on guard, that is how our ancestors survived, not by saying everything’s probably okay.- Barbara Ehrenreich.

Were Not Actually Happy

Surprisingly, when psychologists took a meta-analysis to measure the happiness of nations, Americans ranked twenty-third surpassed by the Danish, the Malaysians, the Bahamians, the Austrians and even the Finnish. Research continuously finds that Americans are not very happy at all, despite adopting an optimistic way of life.

In addition, Americans account for two-thirds of the global market for antidepressants which also happen to be the most commonly prescribed drug in the United States. This leads us to ask, if a positive attitude is all we need to be happy, then why are we not actually happy?

Concluding Thoughts

In no way do I mean to advocate pessimism or gloom, those are also delusions. I don’t like people who complain yet do nothing to solve their problems. My suggestion is that we adopt an attitude of realism where we try to figure out what’s actually happening in the world and seeing what we can do about it.

In addition, it is better to turn to God for help than to take medication. Spiritual development helps to cope with any problems.


Target job interview questions and answers


1)What does your boss think of you?

You may refer to the strengths section. If appropriate do share that more than one boss has commented on the same strengths to demonstrate consistency and stability.

2)What are your friends and colleagues’ opinion of you?

You may refer to the strengths section. Add a dimension that you are a people-person who is approachable and get along well with others. Remember no man is an island and most workplaces call for teamwork.

3)What is your most memorable achievement in the last 12 months?

Share one achievement that shows transferable skills relevant to the job you had applied. Provide necessary details such as the background of the incident, people involved and the final outcome which should be positive. To add credibility, you may share that your boss gave you a pat on the shoulder or you were given merit increment or were promoted in the following performance review exercise.

4)What was the most difficult situation you faced at work recently and how did you handle it?

As usual, you should give background information pertaining to place, timeline, and people involved before proceeding to give the full story. Always end the story on a positive note and even enhanced it by stating valuable lesson you had learned from it or your working relationship with your team was strengthened as a result of it.

5) What contribution have you made in your present/last employment?

You may refer to memorable achievement and difficult situation sections. What do you least like and most like about your current/last employment?

This is again a tricky question where you are supposed to share positive and negative information about your current/last employment. Be tactful and do not go overboard. You may share that you like the fast work pace, teamwork but dislike it when it is off-peak or when you move on to a new team due to the new project but you still maintain contact with past team members.

6)Why do you want to leave?

Cite positive reasons relating to moving forward in your career. This would give the interviewers the impression that you are a forward-looking person. As a usual support, your answer with a real example like you have explored moving within your current company but there isn’t suitable opportunity in the next 6 – 12 months and instead of waiting you decided to explore external opportunities.

7)Why did you leave without a job?

People leave their last job for various reasons such as retrenchment, unable to get along with the boss, too much work and passed over for promotion. Try to present a positive reason for leaving similar to those in question 12. If you were indeed retrenched, be upfront about it and deflated the notion that the retrenchment exercise was done accordingly to performance. And if you have been not working for a couple of months, do share what you have been doing in the being time, such as participating in volunteering work or fulfilling a long time dream of learning to play a musical instrument. Bear in mind that you should come across as proactive and keen to gain employment.


How To Balance School And Work?


Scheduling classes

Try to schedule your classes for either evening or morning so you will have a consistent schedule which will make it easier for your work schedule and for your study time.

Online classes

Online classes are a boon for working students. Make use of the classes that are offered online so you can work and study at your convenience. Some classes are offered as part online and part on campus. Use different online services, Text Checker for help in studying.

Work weekends

Working only during the weekends is another way to work around your classes especially if you have a heavy load of units during the semester.

Flexible hour jobs

Hunt for jobs that have flexible timing like gas stations or department stores or stores that work 24/7. This will allow you to work on multiple shifts depending on your class schedule.

Manage your stress

Managing work and school can be very stressful. Make time for yourself to relax whether it be a morning walk or jog around the campus or an evening stroll when your mind is full of information that you are desperately trying to cram.

Set a realistic goal

You have to sit down and calculate the amount of work and study that is realistic. Do not expect to enroll in 25 units and work fulltime and then remain sane. You have to work out a practical and realistic schedule and routine and then stick to it. In the end you will be happy as it will work out if you have a clear grip of a realistic goal.

Make use of free time

Grab hold of any free time that you have. Make a to-do list and keep them handy to do them when you have free time. If you are a commuting student, then the commute time can be used for studying and doing homework or even to catch up on some much needed sleep and rest.

Calendars

Calendars will keep you from pulling your hair out when you don’t know what is due when. Jot down all the deadlines for projects, exam dates and any other important dates that are connected with your school work. If you have an organizer in your phone then take the time to key in the same in your phone calendar as well. This is a foolproof way to keep you abreast of the important dates in your school work.


Online College Degree


The importance of having an education in this current day and age can not be stressed enough. Without having a decent education, trying to find a decent paid job is more or less impossible. Long gone are the days where one can simply enter into a company young with no qualifications and gradually work up the ladder. This has already been evident by the large number of unskilled workers that have been written off work due to the recession. Many people that tend to avoid college either do so by personal choice, but mainly due to the lack of opportunity due to other responsibilities that they need to fulfill.

Many people believe that the only way to earn a degree is by going to university or college.

Those that are not able to achieve this in their prime years for whatever reason feel that once the opportunity has gone, it will never return. Where this may have been true a couple of years ago, this is no longer the case. Education and obtaining degrees has achieved a completely new platform due to the introduction of online college degree programs. These online colleges have given many the opportunities to earn themselves a reputable degree by not even having to attend a college or university.

Not only about how to save money on tuition fees, but it is also known to make a number of savings in regards to accommodation and travel as well. The great thing about online college degrees is that they allow one to be able to study in their own time from home or any place that gives them access to the internet. These programs have specifically been designed to be flexible so that they can fit around any individual’s’ daily life schedule.

All of these online college degrees are usually affiliated by reputable universities. What that basically means is that the value of your online college degree would be equivalent to one that a person would receive upon attending a full degree course at university. Even though there are a large number of online college degree programs, it is very important that you opt to go with one that has a good reputation. There are quite a large number of online schools that do provide degrees and qualifications, however due to lack of acknowledgment, are never realized or accepted in the real working market.

Before you decide to commit yourself to any online college degree, it would be a good idea to do a bit of research on the institution that you are planning to do your degree from.

Read around by doing some background research on the institution and whether or not they are affiliated with any honorable and reputable educatory body. Another great approach that you can use is to look for past student reviews. These will give you a non bias view of what you can expect in terms of educational material and learning techniques from a particular online college in comparison to another.


Intentional Time Off


I often work with clients who have been laid off. They will sometimes tell me theyd like to take a couple weeks off to just rest and then get started on their job search.

I can relate. Like many of my clients, I have also been through a lay off and wanted to just catch my breath.

The problem is that often that two weeks flies by and becomes three, then four, then a few months have gone by, then to often, a year has rushed past. Strangely enough, you dont feel rested or like youve had a break. It just feels like youve wasted a lot of time and then the guilt sets in.

What I suggest to clients who feel they really would like to take a bit of time off prior to investigating options is to plan out what you will do and then when you will get back to it. Not only that, create a plan for what your job search will look like prior to taking a break.

Youre already in the swing of things and its much easier to craft a plan now than it will be after some time snoozing late and hanging out with the TV!

And about that instead of sleeping in and watching sitcoms, consider what helps you to feel truly rested and energized.

Does exercise help? Learning a new skill? Skiing? Getting a massage? Instead of spending your time, invest it in something that will truly nurture you and prepare you for your job search. For example, find a personal business coach to become more successful.

Planning out your rest may seem counter-intuitive, but it keeps you on a schedule. But isnt the point NOT to have a schedule? Well, not exactly. The point is to take a break. Continue to set your alarm it can be for a later time, but its a good habit to keep. Continue to exercise. Continue to eat healthy.

And when its time to get back to it, look to your plan and hop in. Get up at the time you would normally go to work and start your job search.


What is stopping you?


I’ve seen a few articles lately about how to know when it’s time to leave your job. Many of these posts had a handy list to compare yourself and your circumstances to.

I’d argue that most people don’t need a list.

Because deep down, they know exactly if they should leave their job. Working in a job that you don’t enjoy, working for a company that you don’t care about, working for a manager that you don’t care for, is like wearing a badly fitting pair of shoes. It’s always there, a minor but constant irritation. It rubs away at you.

Most people know when it is time to leave a job. They know it deep down somewhere inside that maybe they could, they should, maybe they would be happier somewhere else. Somewhere that fits better, for them.

A lot of the time what stops us is not the not knowing, but the not taking action.

We get stuck. Even if the job isn’t everything we wanted, it might be comfortable, reliable, easy, known. They say that familiarity breeds contempt. But it can also breed procrastination and indecision.

The thought of a new job can be daunting. Even overwhelming. New people, new places, new stuff.

So we get stuck in a job we don’t love.

When I am coaching, there are several questions I often revert to.

What is holding you back?
What is the worst thing that could happen?
How likely is this, really?

And finally. What is the best thing that could happen if you change this, do this, go for it.

So instead of reading a list and checking a tick box about whether it is time to leave your current role, maybe you should stop and reflect for a moment.

What is really stopping you?

 


LinkedIn Mistakes to Avoid


Today, LinkedIn is your elevator pitch, your virtual CV. It can help to sell you, or not. There are few interviewers who won’t take a sneaky link at your profile before an interview, so you need to make it count.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who are getting it wrong, and if job hunting could be reducing their chances. So if you are looking for new opportunities, here are my top five mistakes to avoid on LinkedIn.

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  1. Dumb photos. In the last couple of days alone I have seen holiday snaps, pictures with animals / babies in, pictures more akin to a dating site, and bizarrely, a bus. Personal brand people! Have a professional photo. And the only thing worse that the shoddy photo is no photo at all.
  2. Personal updates. ‘I am pleased to announce the arrival of baby Smith’ should stay on Facebook. This is not the place for fun updates. This is about your career, not your entire personal life. If you wouldn’t put it on your old school CV, don’t post it on LinkedIn.
  3. Too much self-promotion. You know who you are. Yes of course put your stuff out there, its great for your personal brand. But share other people’s stuff too. The whole vanity thing is a little wearing.
  4. Having an incomplete profile. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, your skills, your experience. Include a concise summary of your key attributes. Describe what you are going to bring to the party. Include links to other online work or activities. If it would be on your old school CV, but it on LinkedIn too.
  5. Doing nothing at all. Even if your profile rocks, you need to show some activity on it. Share interesting and relevant stuff, like, comment, participate in a group discussion. Get involved.

I check out the profile of everyone I interview before they arrive and people will check you out too; don’t waste your first opportunity to make an impression.

 


5 Ways to Save Money on your Virtual Home Office


When most people get their first home job, they are so excited at all the possibilities opening up with their new career. That excitement continues as we purchase those much needed computer upgrades, the new monitor, and install another phone line. Of course we need a more comfortable chair, maybe a new cordless phone… before we know it, we’ve spent our first month’s pay… and we haven’t even started working yet!

Well, from several years experience, there are 5 services that I highly recommend for any serious home-worker. You may not need all of these right now, but if you are serious about your home-career, you’ll probably eventually need each of these.

1. Google Applications. Free.
Have you seen everything that Google offers these days? This has become an extremely beneficial and crucial service for the home-worker on a budget. First, there’s GMail, a powerful email program that allows you to manage your email online at your computer, on your cell phone or blackberry, or on your laptop… all with seamless integration!

Then there are Google Documents, an entirely online suite of programs that allow you to create, maintain, save and even share word-processing documents and spreadsheets. 

Plus Google Calendar is a terrificly user-friendly online calendar system that allows you to create repeating appointments, share calendars with others, publish parts of your calendar to the web… you can even view/manage your calendar with your cell-phone.

All of this is free… and now you can even manage your own domain, providing all these services to your own users! We’ll talk about that in another post, another day.

2. Vonage. $24.95 /month plus equipment costs.
This service is a no-brainer for anyone concerned with long-distance fees involved in maintaining your own home office. If you have high-speed internet, you can get one or more Vonage phone lines with unlimited long distance, voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding, and many more useful features for about twenty-five dollars a month. I was amazed when we converted our two home office lines about three years ago. Our old phone bill was always around $250 per month. After we started using the Vonage lines, our phone bill was around $60 per month (we had a couple extra features like a fax line and additional local numbers in other towns.)

Their customer service is not the best, so if you think you’re going to need help on how to setup your new equipment, you might try purchasing from a Best Buy store, where you can ask the clerk to talk you through the process. You will need to purchase a router, which can cost around $50, but they usually run some sort of rebate.. I got mine free, and most of the time they offer a basic router at no cost. You can plug in a regular phone to the router, so if you have already bought that perfect phone for your desk, don’t worry!


3. Accessline. $8.95 – $59.95 / month.
There are a few services that Accessline provides. Over the years I have had reason to use each of these services for their various uses.

Their basic service is their SmartMessage, which costs $8.95 a month. You get a personal phone number in the area code of your choice that will take messages or receive faxes for you. Its a great option if you want a simple phone system to take messages for all incoming calls.

If you need more functionality, take a look at their FollowMe number for just under twenty dollars per month. You still get your own standard phone number, but you can have the calls connect to you where ever you are. Have calls go to your home phone, your office phone, your cell… and change the answering rules either online or over the phone. This is a must have for anyone who is always on the go… give out just one phone number, and your important calls will find you wherever you go.

Finally, when you need a true virtual office presence, you’ll want their SmartOffice system which runs just under sixty dollars per month. With the SmartOffice, you get a fully customizable auto attendant system at a fraction of the cost. Setup extensions with different answering rules, leave recorded messages, and setup different menus all online. We use the SmartOffice for our business because when our customers call, they hear a professional system that routes them to the appropriate person using our voice-prompts, or by entering the extension number of the person they wish to reach.

If you are a Costco customer, make sure to order from within Costco’s Services website. As a member, you’ll get a huge savings on your startup costs and monthly rate!

4. VistaPrint. Free.
If you decide to become a Virtual Assistant, or operate any other home business, you’ll probably need printing services at some point. VistaPrint is one of the best deals on the internet today. You can get high-quality business cards free… just pay a small shipping fee. You can order the free cards as often as you wish, full color and printed on quality card stock. Of course, they are hoping you’ll use them for all your printing needs, from post cards to stationary, from checks to post-it notes, from T-shirts to magnets… all personalized by you online.

VistaPrint has taken the bite out of printing costs.


5. USPS Click-n-Ship. $ Regular postal rates.
This isn’t as big of a money-saver as a time-saver. However, when you are juggling your home-career with your home-life, time is money!

That’s why I think that the postal service’s website is one of today’s best technilogical advances! First, you can order stamps online. And you can order the samps you want. Whether you want the rolls of flag stamps or the newest Disney stamps, you can order them all, and within 2-3 days they’ll arrive with your mail for just $1 shipping.

Plus, you can use their Click-n-ship to print other postage, like Priority or Express mail. I’d advise against buying the labels they recommend, you can pickup labels that work from your local office-supply store for a fraction of the cost. Order your shipping supplies online too, get free envelopes for your Express mail delivered right to you.

All of this means never having to stand in line at the Post Office again!