Kawaii/pastel goth on a budget! All of these items cost $3 - 7 from CNdirect  ! ^___^

+ MILK shoulder bag - $3.49  (Buy Here)
Lumpy Space Princess Skirt - $5.53  (Buy Here)
Blue Cross Top - $6.69  (Buy Here)
Pink Latte Bag - $3.68 (Buy Here)
Witching Hour Shirt - $6.92  (Buy Here)
Skeleton Hands Bag - $4.72  (Buy Here)

Why SpaceX’s failure’s such a big deal:

After the Columbia disaster, President George W. Bush ordered the oncoming retirement of NASA’s space shuttle program. President Barack Obama completed this order and in 2011, NASA’s Atlantis space shuttle completed its last mission.

Since then, NASA’s had no vehicle with which to send astronauts to space. America had completed its retreat back to Earth.

NASA now pays Russia $70,000,000 per astronaut to allow Russia to put aside a seat for them when they launch to orbit.

Both pride, progress and the Ukrainian crises has led to pressure on NASA to finally develop a means to get astronauts to space again.

The political stance the U.S. adopted during the Russian annexation of Crimea led to intense tension between the two countries. NASA, Congress decided, could no longer consider them a reliable ally in their endeavors.

Soon after this tension built up, one of NASA’s most-used rockets, the ULA’s Atlas V rocket, was found to be using rocket engines from Russia known as RD-180′s.

NASA’s reliance on Russia went deeper than most people realized.

What’s worse is that the Air Force had only certified one company to launch their payloads to space: The United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Yes, the Air Force got their material to space due exclusively to Russian rocketry.

So you see this issue is really bad from a political standpoint, but all this…

…is actually good news.

If the ULA had been using entirely American rockets for the Air Force, I’m not sure Congress would’ve been under pressure to allow changes to the launch market. A lot of the people in Congress get lots of money from the aerospace industry (like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the two parent companies of the ULA). 

The fact that one company had sole access to Air Force contracts for decades (yes, it was a monopoly) meant that the price to launch things to space ever since the Apollo era have only gone up. Rocket technology hasn’t really changed nor have prices dropped despite the fact that the ULA has been subsidized by U.S. taxpayers in addition to them being the only company allowed to launch Air Force (and most of NASA’s) payloads to orbit.

A month ago, SpaceX won their lawsuit against the Air Force and broke the ULA monopoly.

Both the ULA and their friends in Congress (People like Senator Shelby from Alabama) aren’t happy about this.

Additionally, NASA had to start seeking an alternate and independent method to get to space.

…and they had to do it without any significant raise in their budget.

Right now NASA’s budget is about 0.4% of the United States federal budget.

Together, President Obama and NASA came up with a plan to get NASA some new vehicles to carry their astronauts to space again - without an increased budget.

This plan is known as the Commercial Crew Program. The idea is that NASA would put some money aside to help companies seeking to make their own astronautical spaceships.

The ones showing promise would continue to get some funding and move on to the next “stage”. Eventually, NASA selected the top two competitors, Boeing and SpaceX, and awarded them contracts that contain sufficient funding to both finish their spacecrafts and carry NASA astronauts to space again.

The cost of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is about $69,000,000. This rocket will be bringing the Dragon V2 to space, a new space shuttle capable of carrying 7 astronauts. This is 1/10th the price of what NASA pays Russia to carry us into orbit.

What’s more, SpaceX has been working towards lowering the overall cost to get to space by doing something no one thought possible:

By turning their rockets into reusable vehicles, just like we reuse our cars and airplanes.

If they succeed at this then the cost will go from $10,000,000 per astronaut to get into orbit…

to just $28,571 per astronaut (the cost of fuel per person on a Falcon 9)

Yes. This would change the world.

Now, do you remember those Congresspeople and their funders from the Aerospace community?

Many of those people, for reasons beyond me, are vigorously opposed to anything the President tries to do. In addition to this, many of them aren’t happy about SpaceX’s intrusion into the previous cash cow that was the ULA monopoly on Air Force contracts.

Until SpaceX’s rocket exploded, they had an essentially perfect record and no one could stop them. Now, there’s a chink in their armor so to speak.

It’s not a big one, as space is hard and even NASA’s had their share of disasters, but I don’t expect SpaceX and the president’s political enemies to play fairly.

Even now NASA’s budget for the commercial crew contracts (which they’ve already awarded!) was cut down from the minimum requirement of $1.2 billion to $1 billion by the House and then by the Republican Senate (led largely by Ted Cruz) to $900 million.

That was before the explosion. We’ll have to see what sort of political fallout occurs now.

I’m personally still optimistic that they will make a comeback from all this, though I fully expect there to be political consequences to this setback.

(Image credit: NASA)

5 Reasons You Should Be Playing Pauper

Pauper is a Magic format that doesn’t get nearly the love or respect it deserves. I’ve seen players of more serious or real formats mock it as “Kiddie Magic” or write it off as a low powered format. Here are 5 reasons that this format deserves more love.

Your Wallet Will Thank You

Magic is not a cheap hobby. This is a simple fact all players need to deal with, but Pauper is still quite affordable. One of the biggest perks of Pauper is that it is an eternal format: things never rotate out and bannings are very rare. Even if a card sees a ban it’s unlikely it was more than a dollar, so there aren’t many situations like the Birthing Pod ban in Modern. Once you’ve made your initial investment, you can play a deck for years. Just how much cheaper is Pauper than other formats? Look at the results for SCG Invitational Columbus, a recent Modern event. Using their estimated costs pulled from TCGplayer’s low prices, the average cost of a top 8 deck was approximately $682. The top 8 decks from a recent (6/12/15) Pauper Daily Event were a combined total of $370, just over half the cost of the average Modern Deck. That’s about $46 per deck- a pretty impressive difference as the average Pauper deck comes in at around 6.7% of the cost of the average Modern deck. For those of you at home, for the cost of approximately 12 boosters, you can have a top tier deck that will never rotate.

And that’s using paper prices. It’s even cheaper playing online.

A Great Way to Hone Your Skills

In addition to being one of the cheapest formats around, Pauper is a highly skill intensive format. Many cards that are powerful enough to see play in Legacy, Modern, and even Vintage decks show up here. All 4 of the blue 1-cost cantrips (Brainstorm and its ilk) are legal, and so is the original Counterspell. Even Gush, a card only legal in Vintage, sees play. This is not by any means a casual format, even though it’s dismissed as such. In fact, it is a punishingly strong environment where just one decision on when to block, or the sequencing of spells, can be the difference between a win and a loss. If experience is truly the best teacher, then Pauper is a fertile format for improving your skills.

But Wait, There’s More!

In addition to being a skill intensive format, Pauper has a broad range of archetypes. The metagame periodically converges on a deck popularly touted as “the best”, but it can change quickly. Many eternal formats can hit a point of stagnation once a “solution” to the format is found, which leads to boring, predictable play. In my local playgroup here in Austin, at last week’s FNM, seven players showed up and no two decks were the same. Among those present were Mono-Black Control, UB Delver, U Delver, Goblins, Naya Aggro, Affinity, Mono-Black Aggro and Goblins. In the past we’ve had 16 players with only 2 playing similar lists. Not to say other formats don’t also have high diversity in them, but compare it to the current Standard metagame. You might notice that recently Abzan Midrange takes up a large chunk of the metagame, and, as some pros have noted, perhaps not a healthy portion. Formats with higher diversity lead to a wider variety of board-states and a more interesting experience.

A Homebrewer’s Dream

Pauper is a format where rogue deck lists can sometimes be the best lists for the current metagame. Two weeks ago, our local playgroup was primarily heavy control decks, which lead to a homebrew Mono-Black Aggro build going 3-1 with ease. One local player has been using a Blue/White Tron deck that, while not going 4-0, has been successful against several top tier decks. Pauper has a pool of over 5,600 cards with a banlist of only 8 cards. Among those 5,600 cards, there are a myriad of homebrew options just waiting to be discovered. The online metagame is definitely more competitive, so I would advise against trying to test out your homebrew in one of the daily events. There still are the “Just for Fun” rooms where you can pick up some more casual games, so those would be worth checking out if you’re a brewer.

Online Availability

Over the course of this article I’ve talked about both my local playgroup and the online community, and here’s why. Pauper has yet to find a large audience in the realm of physical, in person magic. First, you can talk to people at your store to see if there’s interest. If you’re in a large city, try to find a facebook page for your area’s magic players. Our playgroup started when players asked Pat’s Games, a local store here in Austin, to host Pauper events and has been going strong ever since. If you aren’t in a metropolitan area, or there simply aren’t enough people interested, here’s the second option: Online play. MTGO has a very active Pauper community, with daily events topping 100 people. Another option is the free program Cockatrice. I play there regularly, and time spent waiting to find a match is minimal. I log about 4 matches every few days on Cockatrice just to make sure I’m still playing well and also to make sure I stay aware of what decks are doing well.

Pauper is a format for a wide variety of people, from legacy players to those just on a tight budget. If you’re interested, start asking around and see if others are too. Locally the players who enjoy the format the most are Legacy players, so that’s a good starting point to start asking around. If you can’t play in person, there’s always online options out there and they are either cheap or outright free. I’d love to hear about your experience with the format and what you liked and disliked about it, so let me know!

The Tiny Anthropologist’s Guide to Off-Campus/Commuter/Adult College Life

So I feel as though a lot of posts on Tumblr are directed to students that live on campus in dormitories, but a lot of people seem to be struggling to know how to deal with living on their own. I am here to help!

Know your finances: Make a list of all your expenses for the semester. Ensure to include things you wouldn’t really think about, such as money for gas or bus fare. Bills, groceries, everything you can think of. If you know the exact amounts, write those down, and for things such as gas or groceries make generous estimates. Total everything together and make sure it is a workable amount for the semester. Remember to include due dates for bills so that you aren’t late, and so you will know exactly how much you will need by each due date.

Create a budget: Break down your expenses into week-by-week amounts. Make sure that you always have enough to meet your expenses, especially on date bills are due. If you’re working, make sure that you’re working enough hours to meet your expenses. If you’re working with a lump sum for personal expenses that your parents or school has given you, make sure you are able to make it stretch out over the period of time you need.

Automatic payments versus manual payments: Automatic payments are convenient and ensure that you won’t miss a bill by taking payments directly out of your account. However, if you don’t have the money to cover the bill, the automatic payment will come out anyway and cause you to pay an overdraft fee, or it will get rejected. It’s been my experience that manually paying my bills is better. I set a reminder in my phone for 5 days in advance so that I can keep an eye on my spending, then 3 days before for the same reason, and the day of so I can remember to pay.

Groceries: Plan your meals and make a grocery trip around that. If you have an off-campus student meal plan, then that usually takes care of 1-2 meals per day. However, if you’re totally on your own for food, then this mostly applies to you. The internet is full of recipes for budgets, easy meals, etc. Pinterest is a great resource. Try to find meals that utilize the same ingredients so that you will be able to buy something and stretch it out. For instance, if you buy a pack of chicken, you can make several meals with it! Leftovers are great too, so making a larger batch of something for dinner can pay off. Once you have a stock in your cabinets, you can build meals around what you already have, so you have to buy less. Stores I go to are Aldi, Trader Joes, and even dollar stores. If I have to go to Target or Walmart, I buy the store brand. Make sure you bring a list/your planned out meals with you and ONLY buy the things that are on the list. Also, don’t go to the store hungry! You’ll buy more.

Make sure you have enough toiletries, etc: Toilet paper, paper towels, handsoap…anything you don’t really think about needing to stock up on because it’s just always been provided.

Time management: Give yourself a lot of extra time to get to class. Account for traffic, parking, walking to class, etc. I have also found that going to campus even if I don’t immediately have class is helpful, and staying after class is too because its hard to get work done when I am home. I go to class and then go to the library or somewhere else to make sure I get work done, because then when I go home I really can just watch Netflix and relax. This is mostly because I have to drive a while to get to class, and when I’m there, I want to make sure I am getting the most out of the money I spend on gas to get there! Also, make sure you remember to bring everything you need with you when you leave. I have a list on my door of things I always need to have in my bag (laptop, notebooks, keys, phone charger, etc) so I don’t forget. Literally nothing is worse than going all the way to campus and realizing you forgot something.

If you drive, make sure you maintain your car: Tires, oil changes, etc. It might seem like an unnecessary expense, but maintaining your car is really important to making sure that it runs efficiently. If your car breaks down, then you’ll either have to find an alternative way to campus or you won’t be able to attend class at all, and have to spend more money to fix it.

Bring food to school: I always have food in my bag. Sometimes I even bring sandwiches or Tupperware with food in it with me. It is so much better for your bank account to bring food to school instead of spending a ridiculous amount of money on food at campus cafes or stores. Especially if you’re on campus for a long time. Seriously, why does food on campus cost so much? Along those same lines, I always bring my own coffee with me. I love sitting in campus cafes drinking coffee, don’t get me wrong, but seriously WHY IS EVERYTHING ON CAMPUS SO EXPENSIVE?

But allow yourself to buy stuff if you want: Sometimes I wake up late and don’t have time to pack food or I am just sick of bringing food to school with me. In those cases, I allow myself to buy food or coffee or whatever on campus. I usually put a set amount of money on my student card (which doubles as a debit card at UMass) and that’s how much I allow myself for the semester to spend on drinks, food, etc.

Keep your professors in the loop: If you commute and you miss the bus or you run into traffic or any other number of things happens, make sure you tell your professors as soon as you can. I always send emails. This way they know that you understand their class is important and that you aren’t just too lazy to walk from your dorm.

Work: If you need a job, I would advise getting one on campus as a top priority. In my time as a student, I have worked both on and off campus, and the jobs on campus are always much more understanding and forgiving because they know how it goes with students. Off campus jobs, such as retail, can be understanding but I have found they are much less chill about things like having a different schedule during finals week, huge projects, etc. Along that same train of thought, apply for campus jobs BEFORE the semester starts. Also, don’t be fooled. You may think there are only work-study jobs on campus but that’s not true. Look around and you’ll probably find something! And make sure that you don’t overburden yourself with hours at work. The prospect of working a lot to make a lot of money might seem exciting or necessary, but remember that you need time to study, do homework, sleep, eat, and definitely free time to keep yourself sane!

Work-study: If you have been awarded federal work-study, make sure you know exactly how much you’re getting, because that’s all you can make for that year/semester. Additionally, make sure you apply for work-study positions early because they are very coveted positions on campus. Try to find something related to your major/what you want to do, or something that would look good on a resume. Also! You can only have ONE work-study job, but you can have another NON work-study job on top of that.

Utilize dollar-stores, thrift stores, etc: Need a new spatula? Dollar store has some. Need some pans? Check thrift stores first. Kitchen towels? Dollar store. Toilet paper? Dollar store. Cleaning supplies? Dollar store. Speaking of, here is a site with a list of things you may or may not need for your first apartment (some of which you can get at dollar or thrift stores!).

Student discounts: Here’s a link to a post with a list of places that have student discounts.

Credit cards: This is a tough area. I have a credit card, and it’s been both a blessing and a curse. My advice would be to get one, but ONLY USE IT IF YOU REALLY REALLY NEED TO. Like, if you really need to buy food but don’t get paid for another three days. I have a Capital One credit card with a credit limit of $500, and it’s helped. However, NEVER be late with a payment and ALWAYS pay off as much as you can, as soon as you can. True, this may not help your credit score much but it is better, at this point, to worry about maintaining finances than it is to worry about a credit score. Worry about that when you have a real job.

Don’t bankrupt yourself having fun: Buying $50 worth of alcohol might seem like a good idea but it won’t be as great the next time you need to eat and all you have is a half-finished bottle of Jack Daniels. There’s plenty of free things on campus to do and also drinking at home is a lot cheaper than going to bars. Explain to your friends that you have a budget and stick to it.

Keep your place clean: It’s so depressing to live in a dirty apartment. Take an hour every week to vacuum, sweep, etc. Do the dishes right after you use them, or at least once a day. Throw garbage away when you create it. Don’t let beer/soda cans pile up on your desk. Basic cleanliness and organization will keep you happier and more motivated.

Take time for yourself: It is easy, at the beginning of the semester, to schedule more than you can handle because it doesn’t seem so bad at the time, and you can imagine that you don’t need free time, however, you will drive yourself insane, I promise you. EVERYONE needs time to just be a couch potato or to sleep in or to just read a book or something. You absolutely must take time to just hang out and relax. You have to take care of yourself and ensure that you are happy (or at least don’t want to jump off a bridge) because literally everything in your life will be better if you aren’t totally miserable.

Say fuck it sometimes: We all have these moments where we stand on the edge of being responsible or making a frivolous choice. “Should I be responsible and save this 15 for groceries at the store or should I just order this pizza/buy this beer/get this shirt?” Just order the pizza sometimes. Not all the time. Not even often. Not frequently. Maybe once or twice a semester. Just do it. Pizza’s great.

Text-books: USED USED USED USED. Amazon! Other sites I don’t know off the top of my head! Buy used! Used is less expensive by a lot! Rent text books! PDFs! DO NOT BUY TEXTBOOKS NEW UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY PLEASE THEY ARE SO EXPENSIVE.

Keep track of everything: Bills, appointments, everything. Get a dry-erase board, get an agenda, whatever you need. Make sure you are at all times aware of what’s going on, when rent is due, etc.

Enroll in online banking: This is so much easier than having to go to an ATM every time you need to transfer money or check your balance. Most banks have apps for your phone.

Check the weather every day: You should be prepared because you aren’t a fifteen minute walk away from your dorm. Buy one of those umbrellas that fits into your bag so if it rains you won’t get soaked. Bring layers and carry them if it’s going to get cold later in the day. Preparedness is key when you don’t have your entire life with you on campus. Bring gloves and shove them in your bag. Whatever you need to do.

DIY Project: Painted Vases | Rustic Wedding Chic

Step Six:  After the bottles have drained and dried we clean the excess paint from the edge and let them dry completely (it took me a couple of days).

Materials: Recycled glass  bottles, Paint, Plastic syringe, Vase liner & Flowers

Step One: Gather a variety of vases. Choosing a variety of sizes and shapes will make the vases look more eclectic and interesting. Decide on a color pallet that you want to go with. This color pallet is has a sunset  tone theme going on.

Step Two: Mix colors to get the desired tone. I used watercolors, but you can also use wall paint, if you prefer. Dilute the paint with a little water to flow into the bottle better (but not too much or not cover well), and absorb with a large plastic syringe (you can buy at any pharmacy).

Step Three: Pour all the paint in the bottle with the aid of syringe. Larger bottles need between 80 and 100 ml. paint to cover comfortably.

Step Four: Rotate the bottles in a circular motion so that the paint covers every area.

Step Five: Once covered with the paint, let the bottles sit upside down for several hours so any excess paint can be drained. You can rest the bottles  in a sink or on absorbent paper.

Step Six:  After the bottles have drained and dried we clean the excess paint from the edge and let them dry completely (it took me a couple of days).

Step Seven: Because we used a water based paint we don’t want to fill the vases with water for the flowers. Add a plastic vase liner to the vases before adding the flowers.


Confessions Of An Airport Shopaholic

When I go to an airport, I lose my shit. As soon as I enter the building through which I’ll walk to catch a plane to a far-off destination, I’m officially in vAcAtiOn mOdE. Unfortunately, with that blissful feeling of escape from the doldrums of daily life comes the sudden urge to spend, spend, spend. Suddenly, I want to buy enormous liter water bottles to cure my ~dehydration~ and peruse the shelves at Hudson News to fill up my bag with every snack food and chocolate bar I’ve been avoiding over the last few months. I insist that I need an extra-large coffee because it’s so early in the morning, and I rationalize the decision to buy a fat stack of glossy magazines to look through as I wait to board the plane. Before I know it, I’ve spent $50 on crap I don’t need, because I’ve let the sense of excitement get the best of me and my wallet.

Nowadays, I like to be more disciplined about the way I spend (or don’t spend my money) at airports. It’s summer travel season and that means we can all be smarter about how we navigate time spent at airports pre-destination. For me, this means taking a little bit of time ahead of my airport arrival to prepare. Now, I make sure to buy books beforehand that I’ve been meaning to read on websites like Half.com, so I’m not tempted to purchase the new must-have bestseller on display in the airport bookstore. I’ll make sure that I’ve eaten a meal before heading to the airport so I’m not hungry as I walk around waiting to board the plane. I like to bring savory AND sweet snack options so all my bases are covered, and I can avoid sitting there feeling like I need to buy a candy bar and chips, because I can’t control myself.

Below are eight suggestions for how you can not spend money at the airport, and keep more of it in your wallet for fun activities while on vacation.

If you are feeling super ambitious and interested in making your own snacks, here are some great (and easy) recipes that can be whipped up to take along.

Let’s all travel smarter and cheaper, and not let our emotions get the best of us, i.e, tempt us to spend unnecessarily! Save you money for the good stuff like meaningful souvenirs or a special cocktail that will make you pause and think, now this is a vacation.