Saturday, February 21, 2009

Caulking and Floating

Through the tenacity of my mother and the glory of eBay, I obtained a copy of The Oregon Trail for Christmas. At the age of 22. And guess is even more amazing than I remembered.

The game triggered a lot of procrastination ("Hey, Western history is history, too!") and many Oregon Trail-related Facebook statuses. It also led to an interesting discussion between yours truly and my friend Clare, who also lives the grad student life, in which we debated the ways in which The Oregon Trail is similar to graduate school. Clare offered up "life at a grueling pace" while I bemoaned the "meager rations and lack of good health care". True, we don't have to forage for food, and the chance of a hostile Conestoga overtaking our wagon train is low. But I take Clare's point. We pack all of our belongings into a vehicle of finite size and move off into the unknown, spewing Manifest Destiny rhetoric about how we're doing this "to make a better life" than we could have with our humanities BAs. And the grad student mind is a lot like crossing the frozen Snake River, in that it could crack at any time.

I expected The Oregon Trail to provide me with good clean fun. And it has, save for when my party ran out of food at Deep Sands Pass and I had to trade Alana's last dress for some salt pork (whoops). What I did not expect was the mad rush of fellow graduate students, begging to come over and play. It is like third grade, except that now we know how nasty dysentery really is and the fleeting obsession with the Donner Party has passed.

I must give these Oregon Trail people due props for the quality of the 5th edition game. Great visuals, accurate representation of the fauna and flora, a little weak on Native American representation but very, very good on class hierarchy (shocking!). These things matter when you're a social history graduate student trying to explain why you're playing The O-T on the department computers.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Playing the Waiting Game, Part 2

Why have I gone M.I.A. this past week? Why, because I've been dividing my time between thesis revision and procrastination, of course! Turns out procrastination got the upper hand. Schools begin to notify acceptances in late January/early February, with the Johnny-come-lately contingent emerging from hibernation sometime in mid-March. The result? Total insanity from Martin Luther King Jr. Day straight through Easter.

The real problem with this extended notification system is the total lack of safety valve. One cannot pace oneself in the process. I told myself, "Don't worry! Throw yourself into your work!". I read 600 pages, wrote 35 pages, then mentally collapsed. Somewhere between playing with my roommate's and my insane collection of HappyMeal toys and spending 30 minutes Hoola-Hooping in my living room, I realized that I only really had the capacity to sit in front of something amusing and mutter, "Heh. Heh. Heh heh!".

And so, I present to you,

Here is just a taste of what this website of awesomeness has to offer:

"The 6 Cutest Animals That Can Still Destroy You":

I will warn you that CRACKED sometimes goes off the deep end. It is not guaranteed to be appropriate, and you probably shouldn't click on that link if you are at work. Especially if you work around children. Yeah.

But what CRACKED provides is so much more than humorous lists. It can be educational! I can guarantee that I never, ever had a professor tell me, "Stay away from platypus. They will punish you". And really, what good is your graduate degree if you shimmy right up to one of those killer dolphins? CRACKED will tell you, not much.

Monday, February 2, 2009

"Enjoy Every Day as if it were a Spa Day"

Since coming to graduate school my roommate and I have learned all about Hobsbawm, the Progressives, how hot it is in the South, and how to move cars from spot to spot to avoid those pesky 2-hour parking restrictions. Through some combination of "Top Chef" induced procrastination and being generally hungry people, we have also discovered many foods that are now necessary for our continued existence as students. We thought we would share a sampling, a smorgasboard of sorts.

*Now before people go freaking out about why we don't eat any salads, do not worry -- we do eat healthily much of the time. Because we eat so healthily, we can afford to splurge on our favorite treats. If you're already gone too far down the Little Debbie and Cup 'o' Noodles Path, this culinary adventure might not be for you.

Foods We Cannot Do Without—


All the yummy deliciousness of Ben & Jerry’s with fewer calories and grams of fat. We like Cherry Garcia, but have been known to hit up the Half Baked (and sometimes, we are). Non-frozen yogurt afficionados might enjoy any of Edy’s Loaded varieties, which are made with skimmer milk.

Gummy Bears

After discovering that the affectionately-termed Doof Lion (local grocery) carried a mesmerizing selection of gummy candy and that the Walmart could supply us with 1.25 lb bags of the bears, we were hooked. Who doesn’t like to buy in bulk?

Foods You Feed to Third Graders after Pee Wee Football

This includes Bagel Bites, chicken nuggets, oven-bakeable French Fries, and the healthiest possible choice in this category, Morning Star Grillers Prime soy hamburgers. No, we aren’t getting endorsement deals for these items, but with the amount we consume we really should be.

The Chocolate

See quote above? It was inside a Dove’s chocolate wrapper. The gift that keeps on giving.


The classy grad student’s alternative to ramen noodles.

Snyder’s Pretzels

We routinely enjoy the Hot Buffalo flavor, which is shockingly good. A spicy pretzel – who would have thought? It’s good to see what the power of invention is producing for our palates. Fans of the less spicy might enjoy Honey Mustard and Onion.


We put it on breakfast burritos. We put it on crappy soy chicken patties. We put it on crappy real chicken patties. We put it on the fake quesadillas that we make from shredded co-jack cheese on whole-wheat tortillas. We serve it to our friends in a nice-looking bowl with slightly stale chips. It will always taste good and it will never go bad. Perfect.

Apple&Eve Fruitables Juices

A fruit-vegetable juice blend with no sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Far and away the healthiest thing we consume all day.

Are there any that we're missing? We are always open to suggestions!