Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Misadventures in Education

Thursday, Grad School, 4:11pm
Reading Group Discussion

Student #1: "Well, 'Warriors Don't Cry' is written by Melba Pattillo, who was one of the nine students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock in 1957."
Student #2: "That was when the president had to call in Air Force troops, right?"
Student #1: "Right. So our actual class activity should be informed by segregation."
Student #3: "There were other autobiographies to come out from those students. Did you ever see The Ernest Green Story?
DF: [joining conversation late] "Is that like Ernest Goes To Camp?"
Student #3: ""

[The rest is silence.]

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Decaf Post

A "decaf" post means "lower your expectations".

As I finish my decaf Cafe Americano (decaficano?), it occurs to me how apropos the recipe for this drink is (at least in its caffeinated version). Espresso and hot water. Straight and to the point. Wake me the hell up, now. Seems to fit with the international perception of the busy, business-first, socially inept American, no? I think they should explore this line of thinking further with other coffee options. Picture this S'bucks menu:

Cafe Red State
Espresso & cream, kept seperate but Equal™.

Cafe Blue State
Five-bean blend, but in smaller cups that everyone gets for free.

Cafe Canadiano
Similar to Cafe Americano but weaker and served cold.

Cafe Franco
Similar to Cafe Canadiano but weaker and a bit fruity.

Cafe Anglo
Stale Cafe Americano, leaves all three teeth stained.

Cafe Eire
40% ABV

Cafe South Africano
see Cafe Red State

Cafe Somaliano
Delicious imported blend stolen from you while walking on the sidewalk.

Cafe Iraqi
Anyone who claims that indigestion is not a weapon of mass destruction is a damned dirty liar.

Cafe Ruskie
Sludge. Silty, delicious sludge. No, I've had it, that's what it is. *formerly known as Cafe Communiccino

Cafe Sarku Japan

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Buddy Info

Every time I sign into AIM, and the top of the window reads, "DF is available", it reminds me that... dammit... yes, yes I am.

Unrelated Note: Did you ever laugh when you go to sign in and it says "Negotiating..."? I do. Who are you negotiating with? I'd like to think that there is some mid-level flunkie who has to plead to Mr. Big, kneeling on the floor at his desk overlooking his Burbank vista, imploring him to find it in his heart to allow me to sign in. I really, truly hope that this happens.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Words That I Think Sound Amusing

"the fundamentals of our economy are strong"

Big, Shiny New Stuff!

I've added a search bar on the left panel (ooh!) and some feedback options below each post (aah!). Feel free to say what's really on your mind by using one of the pre-selected feedback terms.

*As per usual, photo completely unrelated.

Thoughts I Thought I Thought

Round 1: Food is way too expensive. Why can't I feed myself for like $3? I don't care what anyone says; we don't have socialism until I don't have to shell out $8.50 for a sandwich and a drink.

Round 2: If the grocery store across the street continues to sell "Milwalkee Best" for $3.99 a six-pack, I am going to develop a taste for "Milwalkee Best".

Round 3: One-way streets are fantastic for pedestrians. All cities should be like this.

Round 4: WHY do we have to still buy textbooks for school? We already have things like Netflix and Kindle. Is it unreasonable to come up with some form of renting textbooks? I don't want to own most of these anyway! Then you sell back a book in the exact same condition cause you barely used it and you get maybe 20% of what you paid for it. Why do we put up with this? Ridiculous.

Round 5: Hello, future employers! And thank you for stalking me. If you're looking for a context to put my blog in, please know that, in the future, I will refer to this period of my life as when I was trying to "find myself".

Round 6: I am so impressed with the stuff I haven't done yet.

Round 7: I'm also the most modest person I know. Ask me about my humility sometime!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

There Is Hope Yet

Sometimes, particularly after reading a YouTube comment thread, I get a bit down about the human race. So many ignorant people say so many dumb things. In today's world, being loud makes you right, and if you don't hold an extreme view, your opinion is neither heard nor valued. Paul Simon once sang that "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest". How true that is. We pick our news outlets according to their bias, and still only take in the pieces that fit our own view. Anyone else is an idiot. It's amazing how uneducated and misinformed people can be while still verbally abusing others for daring to think differently than they do. Don't even get me started on the grammar mistakes, either.

Yet, through all this mess, I occasionally find a piece like this one on the 10 Funniest Hijacked Amazon Customer Reviews from this week's Telegraph (UK), and it almost singlehandedly restores my faith in humanity.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Facebook According to DF, Part 5

H'okay, so... since coming back to school, I have rediscovered the magical time waster that is Facebook. A long time ago, I came to the realization that I was in it too deep and could not just walk away from the often-changing social media site. It is the primary means of contact with more than half of the people I care to know anything at all about, which is strange if you think about it.

I am probably a low-grade phonophobe (yes, that's a real thing) and only pick up the phone to talk to close friends from home, or people I am expecting to hear from. If I don't recognize the number, I will never pick it up. Generally, I get a creeping feeling of claustrophobia when I am on the phone, especially indoors. It's really bizarre. As such, social media like Facebook can help me avoid awkward phone interaction with people I don't really want to talk to anyway! Nifty.

So if I were to ever try to leave Facebook, I know I'd just come right back, bringing a bundt cake and asking if I could come inside and we could "just talk for a moment" (yes, apparently my return to Facebook would be a Lifetime movie). But it's stuff like this Friend Collection Photo Grid stuff that really makes it hard to stay.

Uck! Look at that crap. Sweet tripping grandma on a treadmill, I loathe this stuff. Let's think, for a second, about why I'd be looking at Facebook photos. I am either:

a) Bored
b) Supposed to be doing something else

So when I just see annoying, juvenile crud like this, it either turns my boredom into slight internet rage, or it reminds me that I should be doing something else. Either way, I am forced to reexamine my sad existence, as I note that ten times a day I check Facebook to see... this.

Make a collage of your friends! I'm sorry, is this arts and crafts hour at Sunday school? Check out the SuperFriend App! I'd like you to check out a ditch. Tag your friends who fit each description! How about I tag your face with a size 10 dress shoe?

Facebook, I recognize that you are a fairly necessary evil. I cannot stay in touch with everyone any other way, because I only have so many cell phone numbers and nobody uses Instant Messenger anymore. You are also among the few things I check online, because email = work (that's no fun) and CNN gets more depressing by the minute. But if I sign in one more time to see that I'm tagged yet again by some 19 year old as "The Gentle One", I'm going to throw a refridgerator off of my balcony.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Parents Really Believe in My Education

Recently, my parents found two words in the Wall Street Journal that they didn't understand ("peregrinatory" and "obdurateness"), and chalked up their use to the pretension of the author. Rather than pull out one of the many dictionaries in my house, they elected to circle the words and mail the paper to me for clarification.

Food Shopping During an Economic Depression is Depressing

I've intentionally tried to cut back on the amount of unnecessary snack foods in my budget, but when this week's major purchase was an ice cube tray (and I'm actually excited about it), well... it's just sad. Get me some dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets up in this piece!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


"Taylor, I'm really happy for you. I'll let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!"


Saturday, September 12, 2009

High Class, After Class

Thursday night, a few of the other fresh-faced graduate students followed the Res Life folks down Mercer Street to something called "Fashion's Night Out". Now, I am completely oblivious to all things stylish and cool, but apparently New York City's (and, therefore, the world's) finest designers open their showrooms (boutiques? stores? shops?) to the public and throw a party. I was lured into tagging along by the promise of free stuff.

That free stuff, it turned out, was booze.

Oh, sweet mother of all that good and pure, free booze. I mean wow. Between you and me, I'm poor. Oh sure, I worked very hard all the time last year and allocated a good amount of that money toward savings, with an eye to the future (which is now the now). That means nothing, however. If you live in NYC and you don't have $700 in cash on you for a quiet Thursday night out, you're poor. So you can imagine my delight when that which I wanted most--an adult beverage--was being handed to me by a tuxedoed gentleman, absolutely gratis, just for showing up.

Champagne, wine, beer... all of it was mine for the having, simply to thank me for browsing the collections of fine designer wear that I could neither afford nor pull off in public. While I felt a bit dressed down in my Old Navy jeans and Reebok sneakers (to my credit, I was wearing a white collared dress shirt, but that was a coincidence), I made the most of rubbing elbows with the likes of Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, and Josh Hartnett (apparently, he enjoys clothes). This makes me a celebrity by association, and thus I have a line of men's tighty-whities coming out soon.

Despite the cordiality of the affair, I still very much felt like a part of the nameless, faceless throng that would show up at Jay Gatsby's parties. I didn't know the names of half of the designers whose parties I was attending, and I only showed up due to curiosity and the promise of cabernet savignon and Heineken. Still, free booze takes the edge off of guilt, and soon I was chatting up the girl working the door. She didn't say so, but I could tell she was really impressed with my opinions about William Faulkner and the No Child Left Behind Act.

I would like to thank all of the designers (who are coincidentally my neighbors) for inviting us in and serving us wonderful spirits even though we clearly came off like the freeloading twenty-somethings that we are. I promise that if I could have bought something, I would have. I can't promise I would ever wear it, though. I would need a lot more free booze for that to happen.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A NYC Bouncer Calls 'Em As He Sees 'Em; or, "What I Learned on W 13th St This Weekend"

A sobbing girl sits barefoot on the curb, picking glass out of her foot while a friend tries to compress the blood with her hands and a spare shawl.
Bouncer's Take: [Does nothing.]

After an argument involving said girl, Cocky Drunk Guy is tackled and roundly beaten to a pulp by Chivalrous Drunk Guy. After rearranging the other guy's face, terrified pedestrians unanimously consider Chivalrous Drunk Guy to be the winner. Even the cop was impressed.
Bouncer's Take: [Does nothing.]

I attempt to enter the bar.
Bouncer's Take: "Sorry, no shorts. We can't have that here."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Open Notes to my Fellow Students in the 2nd Floor Student Lounge

Preface: Being a new grad student, I moved in a week early and have been enjoying the Welcome Week activities. Of the many odd scenarios I had anticipated, one that caught me by surprise was the simultaneous arrival of the freshman undergrads. I am now placed in the odd position of socializing with people who are either around my age (early- to mid-twenties) or definitely 18. I haven't faced this exact scenario since... well, our summer camp staff banquet two weeks ago.

Since I lack the fortitude to simply walk up to strangers and give it to them straight (hey oh!), I will now address the fine scholars sitting near me via my blog, which they undoubtedly love and read daily.

To the fellow asleep on the couch: Sir, you are occupying some prime real estate and you're not even conscious of it. Or conscious of anything. I think you're taking the "Lounge" a bit too literally. Go sleep on the floor and leave the furniture to those who have work to do. Like bloggers and stuff.

To the vocal fellow leading the org meeting to my right: You, sir, are loud. Hot damn. While it appears that the gaggle of girls around you are hanging on your every word, they're probably just laughing at your jokes to be polite. I'm sure each and every one of them is a bright and articulate club member, but they've all demurred to your boisterous anecdotes and one-liners. None of these ladies will sleep with you tonight, but--much like you--I digress. Please continue holding court.

To the org group as a whole: Thank you for using all the chairs. No, it's fine, I'll just sit 10 feet away from an electrical outlet in these armchairs that are oddly facing each other. These armchairs would be ideal for like a meeting or something.

To Girl #2 in aforementioned org group: I love you. Marry me. Unless you're 18, in which case, please have an older sister.

To Poindexter across the way: From one new kid to another, you're a dork. Hang out with me so I can look cooler.

To the indie looking chick in the trendy jeans by the window: I have no idea if you can sing, but I want you in my band which I just thought of and named The Intrepid Magnolias. You can front it and be in all the photographs and do most of the talking when we get interviewed by Paste. That iPod that you occasionally look up from is probably loaded with hip bands that haven't been signed yet. Also, did that tattoo hurt? It looks like it hurt.

To the unseen music programmer for the student lounge: Thank you. The chorus of Pat Benatar's "Black Velvet" will be stuck in my head for the rest of the week. Just awesome. That won't get annoying.

To the girl that just walked by way too quickly: Okay, forget Girl #2. Come back. Please. I love you. Or at least walk by slower next time.

To Girl #2: I'm sorry, there's someone else.

To the girl eating Pad Thai in the adjacent commuter lounge: Wanna commute over this way and share? Sharing is caring.

To the dude walking around with his clearly stuffed wallet in his hands: Are you serious? Have you ever been in a city before? Or even in public?? You're definitely 18. Save some time and just hand off that wad of cash to me. You're going to lose it anyway. Actually, keep $20 and get a haircut. You look like you grew up in a barn.

To the indie chick still by the window: Is that a Nintendo Gameboy? I can't decide if that makes you impossibly cool or seriously uncool. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt cause we're in the same band (which I have now re-named The Denim Hobo Collective), but I suppose it would depend on what game you are playing. "Retro" is a very big gray area to me.

To the pack of new bestest friends that just arrived and took over the lounge: Okay I get it. I'm moving on. You all stink. Secretly I'm jealous of the awesome four years that you still have ahead of you, but on the surface I will now make my ├╝ber-cool and bored grad student face and head back to my apartment.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dancing In The Aisles

Today at the Trader Joe's on 14th Street, Phil Collins's "Easy Lover" was playing over the intercom. I caught no fewer than four people singing along, not including myself. The whole store seemed to be moving along with the good vibes flowing from the sound system.

Now, I'm not entirely sure why this was happening. I don't know if everyone shopping around me came of age in the 1980s, or if there was a Genesis fan convention later that day, or even if Philip Bailey's background vocals simply cut through the monotony and gave deeper meaning to picking out the right batch of bananas. What I do know is this: for one moment, we were all united. And, I suspect, anything was possible. We could have ended world hunger, vaccinated America's elderly against the flu, and built houses for the homeless... all before lunchtime! Instead, we chose to rock out while getting great deals on organic foods.

Sooner or later a generation will fix all that's wrong in today's world, and Phil Collins will be providing the soundtrack. I'd imagine that this turning point in society will be marked by the drum fill in "In The Air Tonight". Oh Lord.

And with this negligible entry, I have officially brought this blog to my new home in New York City.