Investopedia

Investopedia is a website that provides financial advice about stocks. There are countless sources that teach you how to invest. Also, you can look to Investopedia for information about how stocks are doing, as it shows if they are falling or rising. 

However, all of these aside, my favorite resource on Investopedia is the Stock Simulator. This feature allows users to “purchase” fake stocks with virtual money. This way, beginners along with more advanced stock owners can experience the stock market without having to risk their own money. 

In order to play this Stock Simulator, you only need to create an account with Investopedia. After you get that taken care of, the website is free to access. To start off, you are given 100,000 dollars (buying power) to purchase whichever stocks you would like. But, don’t worry, Investopedia also shows you if a stock’s value is projected to increase or decrease, and whether you should buy or sell the stock. Fortunately, Investopedia provides this type of help on purchasing stocks, so you can choose the right stocks to virtually invest in on the website. 

Some stocks that I have found to be successful on Investopedia and in the Stock Market recently (as of November 2022) are the Goldman Sachs Group Incorporation share and the stock of Costco Wholesale Corporation. 

If you’re interested in purchasing a share in a stock in real life, I highly suggest you try Investopedia first to research a bit about it. You can learn how to manage your stock as well as how to choose stocks wisely. Also, purchasing the stock in Investopedia before you buy in real life can help show you the patterns of that stock. Enjoy trading stocks on Investopedia! 

2022 World Cup

The 2022 World Cup has come and gone, just like it does every 4 years. However, this World Cup will go down as one of the top World Cups in history.

 The 2022 tournament in Qatar brought tons of surprises, and wrapped up with the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) completing his trophy collection and accomplishing the most decorated career possible in the sport of football(or soccer). 

If you don’t know much about the World Cup, don’t worry, I’ll give a brief explanation real quick. It is played between the national teams of the qualifying country. To qualify for the tournament, teams need to be successful in the World Cup Qualifiers or be the host country. The tournament starts in the Group Stage, where there are 8 groups of 4 countries, and after each team plays 3 matches (against the 3 other teams in the group). Then, the top 2 countries from each group enter the knockout stage, where if you lose, you go home. The winners keep advancing until they reach the last match of the tournament, the World Cup Final. The 2 teams that lost in the semifinals also receive a chance to compete for the 3rd through a 3rd place match. 

In the 2022 World Cup, we saw Belgium, the team ranked 2nd in the FIFA national team rankings, go out in the group stage. Denmark, the 10th ranked team, and Germany, the 11th ranked team, also failed to advance to the knockout rounds. However, the biggest surprise came from Italy, the 6th ranked team, not even qualifying to take part in the World Cup. 

A pleasant surprise came when we saw Christian Pulisic and the USMNT (US Men’s National Team) qualify for the round of 16, before ultimately falling 3-1 to The Netherlands. In the Round of 16, we also saw Morocco knock out Spain on their way to the Quarterfinals. 

In the Quarterfinals, we witnessed some more surprising upsets. First, Luka Modric and Croatia stunned Neymar Jr and Brazil by drawing with them at the end of extra time, even after Neymar’s 105+1’ goal as Petkovic (Croatia) came up with an equalizer in the 117’ of the match, 3 minutes before the end of extra time. If you only watch one highlight from the World Cup, I suggest it be Neymar’s goal against Croatia. Then, Croatia proceeded to beat Brazil in penalties 4-2, sending the 1st ranked team home. We also saw Morocco shock the world by upsetting Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal 1-0. Some believe that the Portugal manager, Fernando Santos, made a mistake by bringing Ronaldo off the bench, as it was too late for them to come up with an equalizer. Ronaldo, in probably his last World Cup, was eliminated in the Quarterfinals, with his dream of winning the international tournament being just a dream. Messi and Argentina barely got past the Netherlands in a Penalty Shootout, after the Netherlands came back from a 2-0 deficit and came up with an equalizer in the last minute of second half stoppage time (90+11’). France beat England after Giroud scored a decider (go-ahead goal) in the 78th minute of the contest. Soon after, Harry Kane skied (hit over the goal)  a penalty, missing out on the chance to equalize. 

In the Semi-Finals, the favorites won, as Lionel Messi and Argentina comfortably handled Croatia 3-0, while France defeated Morocco 2-0. However, Morocco’s record-breaking World Cup journey was a huge accomplishment as they became the first African Nation to make the Semi-finals in the tournament. Morocco also received 4th place in the tournament, losing to Croatia in the 3rd place match. 

Finally, in the World Cup Final, we saw 2 powerhouses, Argentina and France, face off for a chance to make history. France was looking to be the first team since Brazil in 1962 to defend their title and be back-to-back champions. Lionel Messi on Argentina was looking to add the last missing trophy to complete his accomplished trophy cabinet. The match started with Argentina looking dominant while France was worse than terrible. Argentina started off their scoring with a penalty from Messi. Then, Angel Di Maria finished the counter-attack with an outstanding goal, making it 2-0 Argentina. In the 79th minute of action, France received a penalty, and Mbappe nailed it through the bottom left corner (80’). Then, 1 minute later, in the 81st minute, Kylian Mbappe scored another miraculous goal, tying it up at 2-2. It went to Extra time before Messi knocked in another goal in the 108th minute, cleaning up the save from the French Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. In the 118th minute, Mbappe scored another penalty, accomplishing a hat trick and knotting the game at 3-3. However, France also received another chance to score in the 120+3’ where Randal Kolo Muani took a shot between him and the goalkeeper, which the Argentine goalkeeper Emi Martinez saved. The biggest regret for France is Kolo Muani had Mbappe running on his left, and a pass to the French superstar could’ve won them the tournament. Argentina outlasted France in the penalty shootout, winning 4-2 and giving Messi his much desired World Cup victory. 

In conclusion, the 2022 Qatar World Cup was definitely one of the wildest World Cups yet, and I await the 2026 world cup with tremendous excitement.

ESPN Fantasy Sports

Fantasy Football - Leagues, Rankings, News, Picks & More - ESPNMany of you probably enjoy watching sports, whether it’s basketball, football, baseball, or even hockey. Now, what if I told you that you could have your own virtual team including your favorite players that help you get wins every week? Well, actually, you can!

ESPN Fantasy Sports is an app that allows you to play fantasy football, basketball, or any other major professional team sport in America (except soccer). 

To get started, you just need to create an account with ESPN Fantasy. Then, you can join a random online league and/or create your own league where you invite your friends to join. After creating a fantasy league of your choice, you need to send the invite link to your friends who you would like to join the league. Then, you can arrange a draft time when you and your fellow fantasy players will be able to draft your fantasy team. You can choose any player, from any team, to draft. 

After the draft, you can drop and pick up players onto your roster. You can also do trades with other teams, exchanging players, sometimes multiple at a time. 

I definitely recommend making a fantasy football league when the next season comes around (It might be too late now for this season) as it is extremely popular and fun to play. Since I enjoy basketball, I am also in a Fantasy Basketball league, but I suggest you make/join a fantasy league based on the sports you like. If you like hockey, maybe join a fantasy hockey league. If you enjoy baseball, maybe create a fantasy baseball league. In addition, the WNBA also has a fantasy league, so if that’s something you’re interested in, go for it! 

Fantasy football (and other sports) is one of my favorite activities to share with my friends. Whether it’s negotiating trades, trying to decide which players to choose on draft day, or competing in a neck-and-neck battle between fantasy teams, fantasy is a great way to socialize with friends, while competing at the same time! 

FIFA 22

Although many people have heard of NBA 2K and Madden NFL, you would be surprised to hear about how less popular another sports-related video game is. FIFA 22 is my favorite video game, despite the fact that I don’t play or watch soccer. So, today I will be introducing you to FIFA, the soccer video game that allows you to play with many (and almost all) professional soccer teams in the world. Whether you want to play with a powerhouse like Real Madrid or a less popular team, FIFA will allow you to use your favorite players and replicate the most thrilling matches! 

Just like MyTeam in NBA2K and Madden Ultimate Team in Madden NFL, FIFA also has a game mode for you to create your dream lineup by collecting player cards. You can purchase these cards through auctions or pull them from packs. This game mode, FIFA Ultimate Team, makes you feel like a general manager! 

In addition, you can create your own player in the FIFA Career Mode. You can choose his height, weight, kit number, team, and position. Personally, the goalkeeper and striker (primary attacker) are some interesting positions I recommend trying in this mode. If you don’t want to create your own player, you can also play as someone who already exists, such as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. 

There are other game modes in this video game, too. One of my favorite ways to play FIFA is through Tournament Mode where I get to choose a team and compete in their country’s league (Ligue 1 for French teams, English Premier League for English teams, La Liga for Spanish teams, and more). I like playing with Paris Saint Germain because of their super-team with Mbappe in the middle and Neymar and Messi at the wings. 

In conclusion, FIFA is an awesome game that I wish I had tried earlier than only a few months ago. If you ever need a new game to play, give FIFA a try! 

Last Chance U: Basketball (Netflix TV Show)

One thing that most of us have in common is that we absolutely love watching Netflix. Whether it’s the newest sitcom TV Show or that adventure movie that you’ve already watched 5 times but can’t get enough of, Netflix has an almost unlimited array of options. Even though its known for its TV Shows and movies, the popular streaming service does not disappoint when it comes to documentaries and docuseries. 

An interesting docuseries that I recently discovered and quickly finished is Last Chance U: Basketball. While you may have heard about Last Chance U: Football, which has 5 different parts, Last Chance U: Basketball is a new docu-series that came out in 2021. It takes the viewers through the journey of the East LA Junior College basketball team’s path to the playoffs. Winning the championship would do wonders for the players who have gone through so much and ended up here. These players who are worthy of playing Divison 1 Basketball if not for the experiences they have had. These players who have lost so much and are trying to earn it back. 

Firstly, East LA’s basketball coach is a religious man, who wants the best for the players and understands them the best. John Mosley is his name, and he is like a father figure for these kids, who almost have nothing else. The players love him, but are also annoyed by his strategies. However, he always makes them earn it by teaching them about hard work and taking no days off. 

Deshaun Highler, the starting shooting guard of the team, lost his mom to cancer before the documentary. In this docuseries, he talks about how he has tried coping with the pain his mom’s death has brought him. Deshaun experiences ups and downs throughout East LA’s 2019-2020 season, but he and Coach Mosley find ways for him to fight past the struggles. 

Joe Hampton, the reserve center of East LA throughout the 2019-2020 season, could’ve been in a much better place at the time of the docuseries, except for his trouble controlling his feelings, typically of anger. As said by many during this show, Joe is incredibly talented, but his injuries when playing for Penn State, a D1 school, forced him to have to transfer to a junior college. After experiencing such lows in life, he often feels fed up and needs to calm himself down, in his own ways. 

Last Chance U: Basketball is one of my favorite docuseries I have watched on Netflix, and I definitely recommend it to anyone. You don’t need to be obsessed with basketball to enjoy this show because this isn’t only a show about basketball, but also about life.

Rise of Gru Movie

Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, and Despicable Me 3 all follow similar storylines where the main character Gru and his minions fight other super-villains, whether it’s for the safety of the world or for selfish reasons. However, in the newly released movie Minions: The Rise of Gru, there’s a different plot where 11-year-old Gru is trying to prove that he can be a successful supervillain. After being rejected by the Vicious Six villain group, Gru steals their most valuable treasure and becomes their target. When an independent supervillain, Wild Knuckles, finds out about Gru and his robbery, he kidnaps him with the hope that Gru’s minions will pay him the ransom of the special jewel, which is also the treasure Gru stole. 

This movie was, and probably will be for a very long time, the funniest movie I have ever seen. Having the minions in the movie already guarantees some high-level comedy, but the way the movie was planned to include silliness every few minutes constantly kept me laughing! 

Not only was this movie hilarious, but it was also a great movie in general. There were numerous plot twists, but also some sad moments, which were followed by humorous ones. In this movie, Gru, despite being a youngster, showed his potential to be an incredible super-villain (which he eventually achieved in Despicable Me). Also, after partnering with Wild Knuckles, Gru learns how to be a true villain and discovers his aspirations for his career. 

I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed the Despicable Me series. However, you don’t need to have watched the previous Minions movies to enjoy this movie. If you like to laugh, I suggest you give this movie a try! You won’t be disappointed!

Interesting Sports Podcasts to Try

If you get bored while running, resting, or doing whatever it is that you like to do, you might want to try a podcast. I enjoy listening to sports podcasts to discover the opinions of experts on certain topics, and I’m here to share some of my favorite ones with you. 

There are 3 podcasts that I feel separate themselves from the rest of them and for different reasons. Some of them offer incredible insight on basketball, while others are fun because they have people debating passionately about players and headlines. 

The Draymond Green Show

The host of this show is the man himself, Draymond Green. He breaks down NBA games and talks about how his team, the Golden State Warriors, played and how the other games went down. His podcasts are especially fun to listen to after he has a big game or an important moment in a game, such as an ejection. Sometimes, he’ll have a guest on the show, who might be a fellow NBA player or someone associated with the NBA. His attention to detail really shows in his podcasts, and I recommend his podcast to anyone who wants to learn a bit more about basketball. This is definitely my favorite podcast at the moment. 

First Take:

What’s better in a sports podcast than Stephen A. Smith yelling at Kendrick Perkins or someone else on the show for their “blasphemous” takes? With various guests on the show as well as the usual crew (Molly Qerim, Stephen A. Smith, and sometimes Kendrick Perkins), the podcast can be really entertaining to listen to or also watch on ESPN. On this show, they primarily debate about basketball, but also have some sections that include football or baseball. Although it’s not my favorite podcast, it’s definitely in the top 2 and I love occasionally listening to small segments at a time. 

Skip and Shannon: Undisputed:

If you want a lot of deep analysis about the game of basketball, don’t go to this show. If you want to see Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe bickering back and forth for two and a half hours, then this is for you. On Undisputed, the 2 hosts don’t really talk about what teams need to do or what they should have done, but they debate on controversial topics concerning ejections, who’s better than who, and certain plays. However, before listening to this podcast, be aware that a lot of the things Skip and Shannon say are heavily biased, especially the ones from Skip. That being said, this show is still a lot of fun and I definitely recommend you check it out. 

If you’re a basketball (or sports) enthusiast, in summer, you might find yourself bored with nothing to do, and if so, give these podcasts/shows a listen. You probably won’t regret it!

-Mert A.

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP is a book that details Giannas Antetokounmpo’s rise to greatness. 

In 2008, if I told you that a skinny Nigerian kid living in Greece was going to become the face of the NBA and win 2 MVPs, would you believe me? If you said no, you would agree with the majority of people. However, if you said yes, would you stick with your answer if I told you that this kid had illegal immigrant parents, and he had to sell on the streets every day to get his family food to eat? If you would still say yes, you would have predicted the rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Giannis had to go through many struggles as a kid. He would go with his mom to sell sunglasses for a couple of euros each just to try to get food on the table. Sometimes, he would have to go to sleep with a rumbling stomach, imagining the food that he wasn’t able to eat. He would always try to smile, so his brothers wouldn’t start to worry. His family would get evicted a lot, and they would have to move to a different apartment often because they couldn’t pay the rent. However, basketball was a way out. Giannis would forget about all of his worries when he was on the court, playing his heart out. He would dream of playing in the NBA and having his family all with him along the journey. 

Giannis’s childhood was difficult, but he worked hard and didn’t complain. His story should be a lesson to all of us: Anything is possible as long as you put in the effort and work extremely hard. His childhood shows us that we should never count anyone out based on their circumstances. 

The author, Mirin Fader, did a great job including interviews and quotes from people who played a role in Giannis’s childhood. His mom, brothers, and former coaches all had quotes in this biography of Giannis Antetokoumpo. 

While reading about Giannis’s rise to stardom, I was not able to put the book down. It was so intriguing to read about the struggles that he faced and overcame to get to where he is today, and I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Giannis Anteokounmpo. Also, anyone who wants to learn a thing or two about the challenges that some people face would find this book interesting, too. 

-Mert A.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Amazon.com: Dragon Hoops: 9781626720794: Yang, Gene Luen: Books

Dragon Hoops is a graphic novel that follows the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons’ journey to winning the state championship. A graphic novelist, Mr. Yang, is also along for the ride. After losing in the state championship game for multiple years, the Dragons are fed up and ready to make some noise! Their roster is looking stacked, with Paris Austin and Ivan Rabb leading the way as the star players. 

The Dragons experience defeats and victories along their path to the state championship game. There are ups and downs, but they get through those negative moments as a team. 

Gene Luen Yang, the author of Dragon Hoops, wrote about a true story from his time at Bishop O’Dowd High School. Ivan Rabb, Paris Austin, Alex Zhao, and other players are actually real people and not just made-up characters!

I recommend this book to any sports enthusiast. As I read this book, I really enjoyed getting a graphic novelist’s perspective on the team. Since the book was written as a graphic novel, it was easier and quicker to read. Dragon Hoops is a very entertaining book, and if you are someone who enjoys reading graphic novels, you will definitely like this book!

I would give this graphic novel a 10/10 rating because it had a plot to it. It wasn’t like some graphic novels which are just meant to make people laugh and read for fun, but it had a purpose. Dragon Hoops was written to show us the way a high school sports team operates but in a more interesting and entertaining way.

-Mert A.

Dragon Loops by Gene Luen Yang is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Overdrive.

Starting a Collection

Collecting items is fun, but it can be difficult to come up with an idea of what to collect. Some collections can be expensive, others might be rare, while a few might lack importance to you. I enjoy collecting a variety of different types of objects, and whenever I open one of my collections’ boxes, I’m always very excited to look through my souvenirs. If you are searching for something to collect, look no further than this post as I’ll take you through some of my favorite collections! 

Whenever I go to new cities, museums, or historical sites, I always look for one thing in particular: Pressed Pennies! Pressed pennies are great souvenirs to collect because they are inexpensive (They usually cost 51¢ to $1) and supply you with something to remind you of your visit. These small coins have special designs (Small pictures or names) which represent the place you got them from. If you’re looking for a way to collect something to remind you of the places you’ve traveled to, pressed pennies are a great option! 

Ripping open packs consisting of the players in your favorite sport can be very exciting! The best part about collecting sports cards is the fact that they are widely available. You don’t need to travel to different locations to collect them, which makes them very convenient for sports lovers! NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB cards are all available at Target and Amazon. If you are interested in sports, this might be the collection for you! 

Key chains are meant to go on keys, but that’s not the only thing they are good for. Even if you don’t want to hang these key rings on your keys, you can still use them for a collection! Similarly to pressed pennies, I also look for key chains whenever I travel. Looking back at these collectibles can be reminders of the places you went and adventures you had in your life! If you enjoy traveling and want souvenirs to represent your visits, key chains would be great for you! 

Many of us are fans of actors, sports stars, singers, or other celebrities. Some of us even idolize them and look to model our lives after these people. Bobbleheads, Funko Pops, or figurines might be exciting for you to collect if you look up to celebrities. I, personally, am a huge fan of Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors All-Star point guard, and I have a Stephen Curry Funko Pop and bobblehead because I enjoy collecting Stephen Curry objects. 

Lastly, if you haven’t been intrigued by any of the earlier collections that I have named, don’t worry, you can still start a collection. To come up with an idea of what to collect, think of your hobbies and what you enjoy doing or watching. If you like to solve the Rubik’s Cube, you might enjoy collecting different types of Rubik’s cubes, such as the Megaminx or Pyramix. If you are interested in Marvel, Star Wars, or the Lord of the Rings, you might find an interest in collecting posters of your favorite movie. If chess is your passion, there are a lot of different chess sets you can collect. 

Just remember, collections can be anything and don’t need to seem rare or extra special to be a collection. Even a group of pens, shirts, rocks, or books can be considered a collection, as long as they mean something to you. The best part is: You can always add to and grow these collections, too! Have fun collecting!

-Mert A.