Book Review: “One More Thing” by B.J. Novak

Okay, so in another attempt to procrastinate and avoid all my responsibilities, I was dusting. A new low. Anyway, I found this book that I bought literally a year ago because I read two paragraphs that were hysterical. The lines were:

“‘And that’s the puzzling thing about dark matter,’ said the scientist at the end of our planetarium tour. ‘It makes up over ninety percent of our universe, and yet nobody knows what it is!’

People on the tour chuckled politely, like Wow, isn’t that a fun fact?

But I looked closer at the scientist, and I could tell something from the smirky little smile on his fat smug face:

[He] knew exactly what dark matter was.

And this is what drew me completely and utterly into the book. To me, this is such a gorgeous writing style. The book is titled, as the name of my article so helpfully suggests: One More Thing by B.J. Novak. People might recognize this name by his work in “The Office” where he was a producer, writer, and actor. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV so I didn’t know this about him, but reading only a little of this book, this guy is obviously hilarious. The book is a collection of short stories that I am slowly working through because, despite being unwilling to admit it, I am actually insanely busy and don’t have time to read like I did in high school. Even when I had time to read, I usually read fantasy fiction stuff, because I always found it more interesting. But the well written insights about humanity that Novak manages to convey in 1-7 pages per short story, delivered through sarcasm or ridiculous scenarios, are honestly fantastic.

The first short story, I thought, was the best rendition of The Tortoise and the Hare story that I have ever read. Titled The Rematch, it is essentially a follow-up about where the tortoise and the hare are in life. The Hare is described in the very first page of the book, with the paragraph:

“The hare gained weight, then lost weight; turned to religion, then another less specific religion. The hare got into yoga; shut himself indoors on a self-imposed program to read all the world’s greatest novels; then traveled the world; then did some volunteer work. Everything helped a little bit, at first; but nothing really helped. After a while, the hare realized what the simplest part of him had known from the beginning: he was going to have to rematch the tortoise.”

If you don’t find comedy in that, you have no soul. This was so funny because you hear stories like this all the time. Someone does bad on an exam, and they decide to “get their lives back together” by meditation, or turning to Buddhism, or going on some self-fulfilling quest to make all of Julia Child’s dishes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And even just the way it was written, with all of the semicolons and bouncy sort of diction you get when you say it out loud (which I did because I thought it was so funny that I had to tell my mom and sister) added to the humor of it. And the stories end kinda interestingly too, where you get weird little insights on life and stuff. That first excerpt I had, from the story Dark Matter actually ended kind of sweet, and it made me appreciate people a little bit, because it showed the complete thought process of someone and how that person viewed other people. So, if you wanna read like a very funny book, One More Thing is definitely a good option.


American Heart Month: Valentine’s Day May be Over, but It’s Not Too Late to Take Care of Your Heart

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If you didn’t get a chance to show support for American Heart Month by wearing red on February 3rd, you can still take action to promote a healthy heart every day. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths of men and women. Even more staggering is how highly preventable heart disease is through exercise and healthy diet choices. If you or someone that you know is at risk for heart disease, there are many simple steps that you can take to live a healthier life.

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One of the first steps you should take is to monitor your blood pressure. Everyone over the age of 18 should monitor their blood pressure regularly. The baselines vary from person to person and the guidelines have changed in recent years, so it is best to consult a doctor about what should be your “normal.” High blood pressure can lead to a heart attack. I’ll save you from the super science-y details, but basically high blood pressure causes a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, which makes them narrower and thus blood clots are more likely to form. If plaque or a blood clot blocks an artery, the flow of blood through the heart stops, which causes serious damage or death to the heart muscle.

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Regular physical activity reduces blood pressure because the heart becomes stronger and can essentially pump more blood with less effort, decreasing blood pressure. Everyone knows that it is better to park farther away from your destination, or to take the stairs instead of the elevator, but small changes like this can truly make a difference in the long run. 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity are recommended per week, but even walking around campus during a 20-minute break is better for your heart than sitting on your laptop.

Heart Protection

There are many amazing food options to help lower blood pressure as well. I have recently learned that healthy food doesn’t have to taste like diet food! The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute conducted three studies and found that the DASH Eating Plan prevents and treats high blood pressure, lowers blood cholesterol, and can help people lose weight when combined with physical activity. The US News and World Report even voted it the bets diet for 8 years in a row! The diet basically recommends increasing intake of foods that are good for you and limiting foods that aren’t as good for your heart. The word “diet” brings to mind a bunch of salads and expensive, tasteless snacks, but the DASH options actually sound delicious. They include margherita pizza, lemon cheesecakes, halibut with tomato-basil salsa, and white chicken chili. For more recipe ideas, visit


Lastly, everyone should take a CPR class and learn how to use an automatic external defibrillator so that you have the skills to save someone if you see them go into cardiac arrest. An in-person class takes about 1-2 hours, and it is offered on-campus during the Spring semester at a discounted price. You can also take one online at






So it’s now the third week of February and Spring Break is just two weeks away; but as great as that is, that means Midterms are upon us! The phase of all-nighters, tons of dollars spent on Starbucks, and hours spent contemplating if college is really for us. As someone who has experienced 4 exam periods at Rutgers, I can say it never truly gets easier, but you learn ways to manage it and get the most out of your studying. Below are some tips that have worked for me –

  • ATTEND THE REVIEW SESSION AND USE THE STUDY GUIDE – This seems like such an obvious thing to do, but as someone who has skipped a review session in the past and paid for it dearly – I don’t take it lightly. The study guide, as broad as it may be, is also very important. Your aim should be to at least understand 80% of the information concerning each topic or question outlined in the guide.
  • NOTES, NOTES AND MORE NOTES – Taking notes saves lives, at least to me. These notes don’t have to be from the lecture, but something that has worked for me is every weekend I read all the resources for the week’s topic (slides, textbook chapter, reading/article assigned) and make notes summarizing it. This helps especially during exam times because you might not have time to go over all the information again and the ease of having to just go through your notes to re-enforce what you were taught cannot be overemphasized.
  • STUDY GROUPS HELP A LOT – I’m not always a fan of study groups as I personally learn better studying alone with my headphones on. But study groups can be extremely beneficial especially after you have studied on your own, as you can learn more information from other students and you get bounce answers off each others backs.
  • DON’T OVER-STRESS YOURSELF – If you’re able to spread your studying over a longer period of time – do it. As an unrepentant procrastinator, I know that isn’t easy but rushing to study is not only a way to forget to study something, it is also just stressful mentally and physically.

Well that’s all I have for tips about midterms. I hope this helps you as much as it helped me and “may the curve ever be in your favor.” Don’t forget, Spring Break is right at the end of the tunnel!cusd spring break-550x0



Black Panther is a Good Movie


I feel like the title doesn’t really convey what it really means when I say that it’s a Good Movie. It requires Capital Letters and italics and bold, maybe even underlining, which really can’t be shown in the title for this post so I’m going to do it here: Black Panther is a Good Movie.  

A friend and I went to see it last Friday at the Rutgers Cinema, which is a really good movie theater, actually.  It’s not huge and it doesn’t show all of the movies that are currently out, but it always has the movies I want to see. It also doesn’t hurt that the matinees cost $5.00 instead of the $13.29 that my local movie theater charges. As I’m a broke college student, things being cheap is really the only thing I need to make me happy.


As a disclaimer, I’m not what some people would call a “movie buff”. First of all, I have no muscles so the word “buff” should never be applied to me in any way, shape, or form. Second, I’ve never taken a film class, I’m not a professional reviewer of anything (not that I wouldn’t mind having that job), and I haven’t even watched all of the Marvel movies. But you don’t need to be a professional food critic to know if something tastes like garbage or tastes amazing, so without further ado let’s get on with my completely unqualified movie “review.”

Let’s get this out of the way: the movie is gorgeous, the cast is amazing, the music is incredible. It’s action-packed and funny and heart-wrenching, and it’s incredibly poignant and resonant with the current political atmosphere.

(There has been a lot of talk lately about people like celebrities, athletes and people in the entertainment industry in general should stay out of politics. They should leave that talk to the politicians and experts. But, the thing is, a world in which only politicians and “experts” have the ability to talk about politics is not the kind of world I want to live in.)

If you somehow haven’t heard, Black Panther takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe following King T’Challa, who had recently ascended to the throne of the fictional African country of Wakanda after the death of his father, King T’Chaka, during the events Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa, the titular Black Panther, has returned to Wakanda and finds himself embroiled in a conflict that could be described as one between tradition and innovation. The entire movie, in fact, could be thought of as a conflict between tradition and innovation, as said by the film’s director, Ryan Coogler.

And again, I’m not an expert, but it is pretty cool to see a movie with a primarily Black cast that doesn’t involve slavery, the Civil Rights era, or gang violence. In my opinion, not that movies about those things are bad movies, but it can often be stereotyped to be the only settings where pre-dominantly Black actors are cast for.

That is not to say that the movie doesn’t touch upon these ideas. The film constantly mentions that Wakanda is a country that was never colonized and it never experienced the slave trade. It’s a thriving technological utopia on a continent the some people still think is populated by zebras and people living in huts. The movie even plays with that idea by using the image of hut-dwelling zebra (or rhino, in this case) herders to hide their true nature from the outside world.


That’s another thing about Black Panther that was really interesting. Wakanda is an incredibly isolationist country. Much of the tradition vs. innovation conflict is driven by the Wakandans’ intense desire to preserve their way of life and their fear of being exploited by foreign powers. If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, then you haven’t been paying attention to the news nor have you opened a history book in your entire life.

Wakanda may not have been touched by the slave trade, but they saw it happen and they saw its effects on African people. You can see why they’re not too eager to mix with the rest of the world. However, Wakanda is a powerful nation with advanced technology that people can only dream of at this point. Nothing short of an alien invasion could destroy Wakanda and its way of life. As seen in the movie, it’s a country that’s strong enough to welcome the outside world and maintain its traditions and way of life.


It’s passivity and isolation is another driving force in the movie’s conflict and its fear of outsiders can be seen as a reflection of U.S. politics and the ongoing debate on foreign aid and immigration. Ultimately, this movie is about compassion for other people and leaves you with this final message: If you have the power to help people, you should.

(If you want the movie’s actual final message, not including the final after-credits scene, it’s this: “The wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers.”)


Sarah Lin Senior Spotlight


SASHP Senior Spotlight: Sarah Lin

Alexander Lopez-Perez Senior Spotlight (1)



My Visit with Congressman Donald Payne Jr.

I recently started working at the Charmil Davis Foundation for Colon Cancer Support and Prevention and we recently took a trip to Newark NJ to visit Congressman Donald Payne Jr. We went to honor his father Congressman Donald M Payne, who was the first black congressman elected into Congress from NJ.

So when I was reading about the late Congressman Donald M Payne, I actually found his story incredible inspirational. Rep. Payne was elected into office in 1988 after losing twice in 1980 and 1986. He was born in Newark, NJ and grew up very poor. Despite all that, he graduated from Barringer High School and Seton Hall University. He was always so humble and always cared about the people around him. This motivated him to serve the people in public. Before his time in Congress, he served as city councilman from Newark and president of YMCA. He served as a teacher and began doing a social work in the neighborhood. After some in time, he ran for the House of Representatives in 1980 and 1986 and lost to the incumbent Democrat. He successfully ran and won in 1988. With his victory, he began the first black man to serve in Congress from NJ. Congressman Donald M Payne served in the House from 1989 until his death 2012.

Last Friday on Feb 2nd, I had an amazing opportunity to meet Congressman Payne’s son, Donald Payne Jr. As mentioned, I went with the Charmil Davis Foundation for Colon Cancer Support and Prevention. We visited Congressman Payne Jr because his late father was a mentor to Charmil Davis and supported her early career in journalism, which is why Congressman Payne Jr supported our foundation. Charmil always told us how important people are to Congressman which is what I found inspirational.

When we visited, Congressman Donald Payne Jr was talking about all of his father’s legacy. I was amazed by how humble he was. Congressman Payne Jr ran and won the special election that immediately followed his father’s passing. I just found that to be incredibly strong. After he talked about his father’s legacy, he talked about politics. What I took away was that it is very important for millennials to get interested in politics. The country is going to be ours, so it is important to always have faith in the government.

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This is Charmil Davis who is the President and Founder of the Charmil Davis Foundation. She was a former White House journalist and is currently battling colon cancer. She is so strong and passionate and she is always talking about what its like to go through therapy and how much cancer patients really suffer. She always tells us (which I took to heart) is that we need to take care of people now and give what we can to help others. I think I will always admire her courage and passion.

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One of our interns is Muslim and she mentioned that fact to Congressman Payne Jr. And as a result, he gave her a copy of the Quran. I thought that was amazing and the fact that he even had a Quran in his office is worth noting. And I thought that the edition looked beautiful.

And these are just group pictures that we took. On the left is with Congressman Payne Jr. and on the right is with a statue of the late Congressman Donald M Payne.


My First Alternative Break

This winter break I attended my very first service trip through a program called Rutgers University Alternative Breaks. I initially wanted to go on the trip because I had always been very interested in service but also I saw this as a great way for me to meet to people and break out of my comfort zone. It amazing how it ended up turning into one of the most eye opening experience of my life.

Education reform has always been an important topic to me as I believe that education is something that is often treated as a privilege when it is a right.

My trip specifically was in Baltimore and dealt and was through a nonprofit organization called Living Classrooms, which sought to help those in Baltimore with limited access to a good education. We spent most of the days with children in the B.U.G.S. (Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students) program which was an after school program for the underfunded schools in Baltimore. Our group of volunteers got to help the younger kids in activities that they participated in such as STEM class which included doing math or science experiments, gardening, art and cooking. It was a lot of fun and often times I didn’t even realize that I was doing volunteer work. However, seeing the looks on the staffs’ faces after we were able to help them organize the library and paint the new computer room warmed my heart, and made me realize the impact of the small actions that we took. It was also great doing the activities with the kids. We got to play freeze tag as well as just have amazing conversations with them. In an area where so many children struggle to graduate high school, I loved hearing that some of the children aspired to be a coders, teachers, doctors, and scientists.

On one day of our service trip we worked with Project S.E.R.V.E. (Service- Empowerment- Revitalization- Volunteerism- Employment Training) which aids ex-convicts with rehabilitation and reentry into the work force. Not only did it completely change the way that I think about convicts but it also brought attention to the systematic injustices that occur daily in these people’s lives. Hearing the amazing stories of people who got out of jail and spent every day of their lives trying to better themselves and make the most of their second chance of life was truly inspiring for me to hear.

For me, deciding to go on an alternative break was a very spontaneous decision that I am extremely happy I made. I recommend that everyone go on one, or at least try to attend some type of service trip. I was someone who always stayed in my bubble and never really realized the deep rooted issues that go on in this country, and by finally seeing the issues that I hear so often about its made me much more appreciative of the opportunities I have given in my life, and made me value the importance of service.


Read Much?

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Swamped with school work, club meetings, sports meets, social outings–the list goes on–it can be really hard to just sit down and relax. For those of you who are bookworms, do you find it sort of impossible to do what you love? Read? When’s the last time you’ve honestly opened up a glorious book that wasn’t for your courses? 

Speaking from my own experiences as a current junior, I can say that yes, it’s incredibly difficult to find time to read for relaxation, especially during the semester. However, it’s not impossible! In fact, I’m doing it right now. Even as the spring semester is kicking in hard as we enter our third week, I’m reading a couple of fiction books! (If you’re interested, I’m reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson; The Name of the Star also by Maureen Johnson, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.) How am I doing it? Well, do what you do best and read on to find out!

1. In Between 

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You might be surprised with how much time we can find in between classes, meetings, or particularly, when you’re just waiting. Don’t let the wait time for getting your Hidden Grounds Nutella Mocha go to waste: whip out your book and start reading! Considering you carry around a book at all times, like I do (don’t laugh at me). During these times, we may become aimless and restless, so what better way to quench our boredom than read?! The minutes add up, you know.

2. Before Sleeping

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Reading before you go to sleep can be quite a calming activity. It helps you de-stress from your hectic day. It may even help you sleep better! There are several scientific benefits of reading, actually. Find out more about them here. Don’t underestimate the reading you can get in before your eyes start to droop!

3. Keep Motivated

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You were so busy that you didn’t even have time to breathe? Well, guess what? You’re in luck. Why? Because you can attempt to read–even if it’s just a few paragraphs for just a few minutes–the next day, or the day after that! Don’t lose hope, fellow avid reader. I aim for at least fifteen minutes of reading per day, and I have to admit, that doesn’t sound like much time at all, but 1) Even that is a challenge but 2) It’s doable. Try to not set a goal to read for an amount of time that will be difficult to achieve. It’s all about setting goals that are attainable, anyway! And of course, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Rejoice in those precious moments you are able to feast your eyes on the intricate words of a story. Take pride in the fact that you read for even a minute while waiting for your coffee amidst your busy schedule. Remember, it’s not about finding time to read; it’s making it!

So, my fellow readers, carry around a book, stay calm, and READ!