Crime Scene Investigation: As exciting as it is on TV?

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As one of the most popular shows on television, CSI has undoubtedly inspired many people to pursue the enticing career of being a crime scene investigator. As exciting as it appears to be on TV, some viewers interested in pursuing a career in crime scene investigation may be wondering how accurate the media’s depiction of it is. Do popular television shows glam up the profession? Or is it really as exciting as it’s made out to be?

Simply put, crime scene investigators are responsible solely for investigating crime scenes. Their main job is to carry out the evaluation of the scene and secure any physical evidence that may have been left behind, which will later be used for additional research and testing in a laboratory or database center. After initial research, investigators write up detailed reports including how they took care of the crime scene and what types of evidence they may have found. Once these reports are created, they are then given to the local police station or FBI who is investigating the crime. Investigators may even be asked to testify within the courtroom in relation to evidence they may have found. Crime scene investigators play one of the most crucial roles in solving crimes and catching criminals, and they work closely with various law enforcement agencies.

But How Is It?

As exciting as it may look on TV, a crime scene investigator’s job can be grueling at times and can often be quite tough to deal with even on a daily basis. Most investigators will be visiting places where burglaries, assaults or even murders have all taken place. When visiting, the investigators must process the scene themselves, which means putting up that famous yellow tape, packaging up evidence for later use, talking closely with the local police department, and taking tons of photos. This work can often times take an extremely long time as everything must be done as carefully and with as much attention to detail as possible to avoid any negative consequences. Investigators have to be this careful because even one small mistake could play a huge role in a court case, or cause a case to fall apart on lack of evidence.

Most of these crime scene investigators will work a 40 hour workweek like anyone else, but must also be available at all times. This is similar to the duties of a doctor, except with much shorter hours. It doesn’t matter if you receive a phone call at 4 A.M. while sleeping. Crime can happen at any time, and if you are needed, you must come in for assistance. This means that you must be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For the average person, this can impart quite a bit of stress on their life because they must constantly be near their work place at all times.

Get To the Gym!

Crime scene investigators must also be in excellent shape. Some of you may be thinking: “Why do you need to be in great shape? All you’re doing is collecting evidence and writing reports.” While this is true, investigators are often required to investigate tight spaces, must be able to kneel for long periods of time, and may even have to climb certain areas. These investigators must also carry a standard-issued firearm with them at all times, just like a traditional police officer. Because of this, they undergo weapons training and are also subject to a physical fitness test.

Be Willing to Put in the Hours

As far as getting hired in as an investigator, the applicant should possess a criminal justice degree from an accredited institution. Along with this, after being hired, they must complete a minimum of 720 hours of training in crime scene processing, 80 hours with latent fingerprint processing, 40 hours in advanced death investigations, 40 hours in major death investigation, 40 hours in blood splatter interpretation, 40 hours in photography, and other course such as forensic pathology. The Crime Scene Certification Board must also certify the crime scene investigator.

While television shows may offer a fairly accurate portrayal of crime scene investigation in that investigators are taking photos, collecting evidence, and creating reports, what these shows forget to demonstrate is how grueling the work can actually be and how taxing it is on your body. However, for the right type of person—someone who is passionate about forensics and loves to work hard—a career as a crime scene investigator may be the perfect career choice, and more exciting and rewarding than any television show.

Travis Paulson pursued his degree in forensic science where he has been a part of large crime scene investigations.

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Six Life Tips To Guarantee Survival In College

Heading off to college is filled with excitement and fear. Without knowing what life will really be like out on your own, what your living situation will be like, or if you are headed in on the right career and degree path, you may be anxious and unsure of what to expect. But for many, college is filled with some of the best years of a person’s life. Knowing this can turn anxiety into a spark of excitement. But at the end of it all what is most important is having a good understanding of how to survive the next four years and make it out on top in a position to land your dream job.

Here are six tips to surviving college successfully.

  1. Get organized –Before heading to your dorm or new apartment get organized by packing well and creating a system for how you will track each of your assignments. Unlike high school, you will not have the same schedule as your best friends to help keep you on track. Create a plan for yourself to stay organized during this year of transition so you do not fall behind and can feel in better control over your schedule.

  2. Don’t schedule classes back to back – While this is how you operated in high school, rushing from one class to another can leave you missing out on important time to do group work and catch up with friends. Also, the campus is most likely quite a bit larger than a traditional high school campus so scheduling your courses only 10 minutes apart can leave you sprinting long distances and likely late. To survive this, try to space out your classes so you are not left with a feeling of being rushed across a large campus just to make it in time for your next class.

  3. Make a study schedule – Without the watching gaze of your parents, study time may be more difficult to force yourself into. Instead of leaving yourself cramming at the last minute and pulling overnighters, give yourself a break and schedule in study time where you can force yourself to sit down and absorb the material. You will learn more, and do far better on the exams than if you wait until the last minute. And you will be less likely to be forced to pull all-nighters just to make it through finals season.

  4. Use the resources provided by your college – Many schools provide computer labs, software programs, tutors, and other useful resources to help college be an easier and better-rounded experience. Take advantage of these resources and use them to your benefit. Many times you will find new ways to study and learn than you had realized before, which will help you do better in class and achieve more in the long run.

  5. Team up – From day one, start talking to the people around you and team up to form study groups. These groups will be essential to keeping you on task to study and to make study time more fun. Working in groups can help you to learn the material better by having peers to teach material to and to ask questions of. These peer groups are used by many professors because of their success. However, if your professor is not putting you to work in teams, creating your own will be just as beneficial.

  6. Stay healthy – It is easy to slip off track with your workouts and nutrition, but steer clear of gaining that notorious Freshman 15 pounds and focus on using the campus recreation center to continue your fitness regime. To encourage healthy eating, consider starting a dinner rotation with some friends where you each make each other healthy meals every week. This is a fun way to keep the fun in college and avoid getting burned out from studying too much.

Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of online courses. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career. She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines. You can find her on Google+.

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Beer! Microbrew or Macrobrew?

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America has always been a nation of beer drinkers, but only lately has craft brewing really started taking hold throughout the country and college campuses. Now, it seems as if a new microbrew beer is put on the shelves every week. States like Washington and Oregon in particular have garnered a national reputation as the finest areas for craft beers and other microbrews. But, do not be fooled, America may be becoming a microbrew nation, but it is still a macrobrew stronghold especially on college campuses. It could be difficult to get a seasoned beer drinker to try a new microbrew beer that is crafted with things like fruits and wheat, but it is not very difficult to get that very same seasoned beer drinker to gulp down a can of Budweiser or Coors or any other big name, corporate-owned, mass beer producing macrobrewery.

The differences between a Microbrew and a Macrobrew

The primary difference, which in turn is responsible for most of the differences that follow, between the two beer styles is that a microbrew is usually manufactured by a small company, who makes their beer in small batches for limited distribution. A macrobrew is a mass-produced beer made in very large quantities, for generally a cheaper price and is made for distribution in stores nationwide. In the most technical definition, a microbrewery is a brewery that makes less than 15,000 barrels of beer a year and sells less than 75% of their beer outside of the brewery location, as many of the breweries double as a restaurant or bar. The differences between the two can be explained by the simple definition stated above.

Since a macrobrew is made for such a large market, the macrobrewery must “mainstream” the taste of their beer, so that it appeals to all kinds of people. This is why many beer aficionados (or snobs, depending on who you ask) claim that macrobrewed beers have no flavor, or taste like water. It is because flavor would not appeal to people across all spectrums, as people have differing taste buds. Of course, this is just one point of view. It may also just be the result of clever marketing, which made these less-flavored products more popular. Meanwhile, microbrews tend to be made for niche markets, for people that like a beer with a distinctive, one-of-a-kind flavor. Microbrews tend to be more expensive than their counterparts because of the hand-crafted techniques and special ingredients that they use to give their beers that distinctive flavor.

Essentially, the difference between the two types of beer is like the difference between a good steak dinner and a Big Mac meal from McDonald’s. One is tastier, pricier and made by hand (Microbrew) and one is made from processed materials, in a manufacturing line and is much cheaper (Macrobrew.) The flavor differences can be chalked up to the prohibition, when many brewers started “cutting” their beer with inferior products like rice and corn in order to make more beer, for a cheaper price. Meanwhile, microbrews have stuck to the traditional ingredients of yeast, barley and hops. The practice of cutting their beer with rice and corn stalk as most companies after the prohibition just stuck to the classic recipe and invested the bulk of their money into advertising and marketing rather than making a better tasting product.

Microbrew Examples: Deschutes IPA (Hood, OR,) Boundary Bay Oatmeal Stout (Bellingham, WA,)
Macrobrew Examples: Coors Light, Budweiser, Corona, Pabst Blue Ribbon

Ryland Schneider is a beer aficionado who loves his Bubba’s. His favorite is an insulated 70oz Bubba Mugs & Kegs with a built in bottle opener for his craft beers.


Different Ways We Learn

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It used to be that instruction only came one way – by sitting in a classroom and listening to a teacher provide a lecture. While this method is still the most popular means of instruction today, students now have many options when looking to gain new knowledge.

Technology offers students or employees a number of ways to learn new information or practices. Lecturing is still the most common method, but the delivery methods can vary. For instance, a lecture can now be recorded as audio only, audio with a visual recording of the instructor, and audio with supplemented visual graphics that may appear as a PowerPoint display, an electronic chalkboard, or even a video clip.

Learners can benefit when more than one instructional approach is used. Researchers have identified seven different ways of learning. Each person’s learning experience is often enhanced when more than one approach is used by the instructor, and it can be retained in the memory longer, too. They are as follows:

  1. Visual Learning – prefers using pictures and images.

  2. Aural Learning – prefers learning through hearing – such as sounds and music.

  3. Verbal Learning – enjoys learning through words – spoken and written.

  4. Physical Learning – learns better when they can use their hands and body, and sense of touch.

  5. Logical Learning – prefers learning through logic and reasoning.

  6. Social Learning – learns better in a group and interacting with others.

  7. Solitary Learning – learns well when working alone.

Some educators reduce these to three basic learning styles. These are identified as auditory, visual, and kinesthetic (learning by doing). Others may include things like observation, theory, and practical experience. Emotions also have a part in learning, too, especially when they are positive or pleasant. One more essential element also needs to be added in order for learning to be better, and that is that the student needs to have a willingness to learn. When this is in place, this person can be learning all the time – from daily life, as well as from some means of formal instruction.

Learning no longer has to be through one or two means only. Students, in some cases, can actually choose the methods of learning that works best for them. This not only encourages learning, but it also provides a way for better retention – and better grades or application in the workplace.

Understanding the different methods of learning can enable teachers to use specialized approaches to training or education for people that have specific learning problems – such as dyslexia or ADD. By adapting the methods used to meet the needs of the students, the students can gain an appreciation for education, and may actually find learning more enjoyable – leading to a better quality of life later on.

Many universities are now using social media as their platform to provide instruction, such as SecondLife. This enables teachers to have a variety of instructional tools that engages students in several ways – enabling them to learn faster and retain the information longer.

Once a student understands how he or she learns best, this can enable them to learn new things faster. By taking a few minutes to decide how they might best assimilate new information, it could not only make learning more enjoyable, but it will also help them to learn faster – possibly even faster than other students who might learn using more traditional methods.

This article was written by David Nance for the firm of Michael S. Berg.

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