Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: September, 2007

Eavesdropping on Slackers

At the library, some male undergraduates were loudly studying for a sociology class. I heard one of them saying:

“If women ruled the world, all we’d have to do is sit around and watch football.”

Dude, that’s wishful thinking. The watching football part, that is.

Arr! Walk the Plank!

Wow, today has just been–well, I’m not sure how to best describe it. A blunt pencil to the ol’ prefrontal cortex perhaps? And then waffling about whether to shove that pencil in further or to metaphorically get tupped by pirate’s grog.

Actually, it’s not that bad. Let’s just say that being a TA can get extremely hard depending on the students you get.

Bah

Baggy pants crackdown goes national. Whatever. If they’re going to crackdown on pants, they should crackdown on all ill-fitting pants–baggy or no. On campus, I’ve seen guys and girls exposing their buttcracks because their pants were too tight. Obviously, not a pretty sight.

Hm

From the Nanowrimo website:

“There’s going to be a news-dense email that will go out in the next week laying out some of the improvements we’ve made to the site. In it, we’ll also reveal the identity of another THREE of this year’s NaNoWriMo pep talkers. Hint: Fantasy nerds will freak their pants. Seriously.”

I’m siding with one of the other Nano-ers when they said:

“You know, it will probably be someone you dislike/have never read.”

And Briefly

I usually do not talk about books that I cannot finish, but in this case, I feel obligated to post something.

I received The Guardians by Ana Castillo as an ARC via LibraryThing. Maybe someday when I’m feeling particularly masochistic I’ll finish it, but here’s what I mentioned about it on that site:

Told from varying points of view, this novel chronicles the lives and struggles of immigrants along the Mexican border. I found myself slogging through the narrative, caring little about the characters or what seemed to be the plot. And since I know little Spanish, the code switching literary technique leaves quite a bit to be desired in the understanding department. It’s at once dreamy and jarring–the first person accounts dwelling, perhaps, a bit too long and unnecessarily on inner landscapes.

Even though I’m an immigrant myself, I found it difficult to care about the book (although one could point out that entering the States from Canada is totally not the same thing). So life on the border is short, violent, and unhappy. There are always people desperate to escape their dismal lives and bad things happen all the time. However, I’m not even sure I even got anything educational out of this let alone entertaining. But then again, “literary” fiction isn’t exactly my genre. I don’t find that getting depressed after reading something is particularly enlightening.

The Grad Student’s Soapbox

I recently had a conversation with someone who seemed disillusioned and discontented with the way higher education (specifically on the graduate level) is conducted in the States. Too much academics and not enough of the practical side of things, he complains. I could only shrug and say, that’s how things are here. What did you expect anyway? I could only suggest that he tough it out and get his degree–afterwards, he could do whatever he wanted. No one’s stopping him even if all the professors make it out to be that academics is the only way to go.

There is more than one path than the one straight towards academia and I take comfort in the fact that if one thing doesn’t pan out, there are always alternatives. But I usually keep that bit to myself. For some people, talk of anything other than academia is heresy and is grounds for the accusation of being an unserious student. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that if you admit to having a life outside of lab, everyone will start thinking that you are a slacker.

Anyways, I do understand the other student’s viewpoints and complaints. He has children to care for. A student with a spouse and kids will normally place his or her family first (unless they are like those wacko people who actually brag about how little time they spend with their family in favor of all-nighters at work) and must think of the practicalities ahead of obsessive pursuits of knowledge. I’m not saying that the obsessive pursuit of knowledge is bad–there are times when it’s very, very good–but the kind of lifestyle and philosophy perpetuated by those with this mindset is incompatible with students concerned with more mundane matters.

Well, you might huff, that’s the reason for the decline of education in America. Students only care about getting by, not getting enlightened. People are too concerned about obtaining a job rather than learning anything. And all I can say to that is, if “sensible employment” and “learning” were on a Venn diagram, you’d get fewer disgruntled students if the two overlapped a bit more.

Memes

Booking Through Thursday: Comfort Food

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

Something with a happy ending.

Addendum: Perhaps the purpose of this meme is to actually name specific books, but when I’m feeling bad, the last thing I want to do is to reread stuff.

* * *
The Thursday Threesome: Right on Target

Onesome: Right– around the corner from where I live (or work) there’s this neat little…

It’s not so little. I can walk a couple blocks to visit the arboretum and botanical gardens.

Twosome: on– the other hand, I’ll travel clear across town to…

I’ll travel clear across town to the next town just to go to the Safeway there. Sure, there’s a Safeway in my town, but there’s just something off about it. I can’t really put my finger on it even though on the surface, the two stores look the same. Ambiance?

Threesome: Target– or Walmart? Nah, no contest. How about Target or Mervyn’s? Hmmm… That would limit us to clothes, but that’s okay, go for it! (No, Macy’s isn’t eligible…)

I’ve never heard of Mervyn’s and I wouldn’t go into a Macy’s because I hate the pseudo-snobbishness of department stores. I feel sort of weird going into Walmart as well–I only go when I already have something specific in mind so I spend as little time as possible in the store. As for Target, there aren’t any in these parts.

Actually, it should be obvious for any longtime readers of this blog that I don’t care for any sort of store. Except for bookstores.

An Easy Resolution

Rap rap rap! Lalalalala, I can’t hear you.

I’m done answering the door. I’ve been ignoring all knocking after 5PM since the beginning of the school year. I’m not home for deliveries anyway so the only people knocking at weird hours are salespeople and religious evangelists. And no matter what sort of mood I’m in, I’m definitely not going to be receptive to any of their pitches.

Hey!

Go read some science at Tangled Bank #88 over at Behavioral Ecology Blog. Everything from creepy parasites to manboobs.

Two Photographic Links

A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries. (via Languagehat) Okay, so that link might not be working right now due to capacity overload, but I do hope you’ll be able to see it eventually–especially if you have a bit of bibliomania. Lots of pictures of beautiful libraries in Europe and North America. (And unfortunately, I haven’t been to any of them.)

Bake Me A Geeky Cake. (via Pharyngula) I am unfazed by the gaming cakes. Probably because I associate gaming with playing and having someone make a gaming cake is a lot like a kid asking for a Barbie cake or a Sesame Street cake or a SpongeBob Squarepants cake. However, I am impressed with the FACS plot cake. Even though its design is so simple that even an idiot could make it, not everyone can understand it. (Also, don’t miss some of the cool cakes linked in that post’s comments.)