Monday, September 26, 2011

In the Latest News, Newspapers Have Issues

Newspapers. Apparently they're dying, but I love them--there's just something about being able to hold something physical to read and not have to deal with the computer acting up that I love.

At the start of last year, I had barely begun to drown in homework. I was in a journalism class, and we had to get a subscription. Sweet, a reason for me to have daily reading material! So on a Friday, I mosied on over to the newspaper's website and found the convenient "subscription link." Awesomely, the paper wants to give me a gift for subscribing (wooo, $10 gift card to Kroger! College students love food!), so I fill in all the info and that's that.

Except that I never get a paper. So on Monday, I check the website and again and call the number provided, only to be faced with:

"Hello, thank you for calling Louisiana Options in Long-Term Care..."

Thanks, newspaper people, but I'm not quite there yet. Maybe after I graduate college?

I also live in Tennessee, but that's a minor detail.

It takes forever to find a correctly-listed phone number somewhere online. When I finally get ahold of a customer service person who sounds so much like an automated voice that I mistake her for one (oops), I find out that I do not, in fact have a subscription. Actually, there's no record of me anywhere. We start working on fixing this, until I remember that being credit card-less means my father has to pay, so there's another call to make.

"Remember to tell them I live in G Dorm," I tell him. "G Dorm. I can't find a street address for it, so make sure they know the name."

Soon, I have email confirmation! I can only dream of the comics and event notices I'll get soon, and also maybe the news, too.

Tuesday: No paper.

Wednesday: find paper in mailbox, located in a completely different building and also not accessible to non-school employees.

Thursday: No paper.

Friday: Call customer service again and get the most friendly, perky man in the entire universe. He confirms my address, which is correct except for the fact that they having me living in the boy's dorm on the other side of campus. I have no idea how that happened--my father does, actually, know exactly what dorm I live in, since he's had things delivered before, so this is a newspaper error. They refund money for the days I didn't get the paper, so no harm done, right?

It's nearly 5pm when I call, so he lets me know that this info might not be processed and if I don't get papers over the weekend, to be sure to call him back on Monday, you hear?

Please accept these cookies for being awesome, Mr. Happy Customer Service Man.

Saturday: No paper.

Sunday: No paper

Monday: Call customer service and end up with a perfectly nice (but not Mr. Happy) lady. She confirms my address...and again, I am living in the boys dorm. Sinful! I try to explain that no, there is no street address for my dorm. It's just "G Dorm." No, you can't get to my door, the paper should be fine if delivered to the front porch. No, really, there is no street address.

Tuesday: Get a voicemail from the poor, confused carrier trying to figure out if my newest address is correct. Gleefully discover a long plastic bag with my name on it, and shoot off an email to the paper saying yes, address is now correct and did I mention how nice it was to get the paper for the first time in nearly a week?.

Not that I was counting, or anything.

Also, still waiting on that Kroger gift card.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Ephemera: Cute Has Never Been So Disturbing Edition

It's time for Friday Ephemera, which looks like it's a bi-weekly posting of things you didn't know were on the internet! Now, I'm a bit rushed lately because school's finally picking up, and I feel the need to make the rest of you as uncomfortable as I am (albeit in a slightly different way).

So first, head on over to Hello Kitty Hell, a blog run by a poor guy whose wife is obsessed with all things Hello Kitty, so he started a blog to chronicle every disturbing Hello Kitty-related item in existence. Some are merely ridiculous (Cheetos. Duct tape. Glasses. Braces.) and some go...farther (scarification. Sex toys. Gas masks. Cocaine pipes). Obviously, many aren't officially-endorsed Kitty products, but the fact remains that someone looked at a septic tank and said, "that would look a lot better with Hello Kitty on it." (Warning, nature of some of the products means it NSFW.)

A confession: I just pulled that site up because I feel bad only showing you a single thing on Friday Ephemera. This is what the entire post is about.

Watch it. Don't stop until the entire thing is done, because there's always something new to see that has no relation to anything! It starts out slow, with Lisa Frank backpacks and Kraft macaroni and cheese, then eases into the faceless large women dancing, and you know you've hit the jackpot when you get to the floating femur.

But don't stop there! Watch now, and we'll throw in FIVE free floating tanks and a computer-generated mustache just for you! Along with a myriad of other things we can't describe here for legal reasons. (All SFW, though. Does that make it worse, or better?)

NSFW: Not safe for work
SFW: Safe for work

Monday, September 19, 2011

What To Expect if We Ever Live Together

The verbal parts of today's post are taken verbatim from real events. This post is sponsored by my very patient roommate, Roomie the Crushinator, who did not write this but I'm pretty sure this is what she was thinking when this ocurred.
I'm sitting at at my computer trying to keep up with the rent from Cityville on Facebook and the crops demanding that I pick them right now. It's a good thing that I don't have class until noon tomorrow--or, technically, today, since it's nearly 1 am and I'm not even tired.

Our room is divided with our desks back-to-back, so I can't see Kayt, but she's been fairly quiet for the last hour. Apparently there's a big test tomorrow and she just now started studying after running around like a chicken with her head cut off squawking about all the other things she has due tomorrow, which apparently she forgot about until right now. Not that I'm surprised.

Marvo the Magician is demanding facilities in my town when I hear signs of life again.

"What do you think Jesus' DNA was like?"

A pause, presumeably to allow me to answer, goes unfilled because I'm still wondering where this came from.

"Like, was it all Mary's DNA with...a Y chromosome or something? Is that even possible?"

...Nope, still bemused.

"Or, I guess since that implies sperm and egg and sex and stuff, did he not share DNA with anyone?"

I venture that in my mind, he probably looked like a male version of Mary. Maybe.

"And what about Adam and Eve?"

I don't know, I tell her. It's 1 am and she has a test she should be studying for. From what I recall of her gripes, it has to do more with a bunch of dead Latin people than with biblical characters.

"Fine," she mutters, leaving me to wonder if she's really the same age I am.


"Hey, C?"

Maybe she's just thinking about our choir class tomorrow...


"If different Christian denominations were embodied and there was a big photo of them all--like a family reunion photograph or something--what do you think it'd be like? Like, Nazarenes and Methodists and some Baptists would be all hugging each other and cheesin' it up for the camera, and pentacostal and charismatic churches would be partying in the middle, and Eastern Orthodoxy would be peeking in the windows..."

Kayt's image collection seems quite appropriate right now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Inside the Head of a College Student, a Year-By-Year Look

As you probably guessed, I'm back for my last year at this wonderful university. It seems strange to think that three years ago I was one of the youngest people on campus, and I was simultaneously feeling horrifically excited thinking that I was now a cool college kid and scared stiff of all the upperclassmen.

It's strange to look back and see how different we all are. People who have left, married, or just plain changed. To look at my goals that first year, what I thought I was going to do, and to look at what I'm doing now. To know the things that I would never have believed three years ago (professors can totally tell when you're not actually taking notes on your laptop. Naps are a gift from God).

So I wrote this. Obviously it doesn't fit everyone, as my freshman sister Chameleon Head  and her friends are perfectly nice, mostly-non-squealing people. But I can laugh, because this was me and my friends.

This makes me laugh every time I see it. 
Although it'd be soda cans at my school.

Freshman year: Y'all, we are so cool right now. High school is so last year. We are college students. Independent. Adult. And my freshman intro-class group people are totally all my BFFs! And--OMG they're dating each other? No, wait, they broke up? And I sit between them...this is awkward. This is awesome! I know everyone! Plus, the whole "not being in school for eight straight hours" rocks. Wait, those are seniors? They don't look anything like me! Geez, it's like they don't even know that Hot Topic exists. Mom, Dad, I just turned in my first college paper ever! It was like six pages and it's awesome. What's this 'B' about? Don't you know how hard I worked on it?

Sophomore year: Hello, dorm room, I've missed you and your cinderblock walls. Hey, I still have to go to the dorm meeting? But I learned all this last year! It's so nice to see all these people I recognize. I don't recognize you--you must be a freshman! Let me explain everything to you. Seniors don't seem so scary, I even know the names of a few. I'm so excited to be getting into my major classes! Doubleyew-tee-eff is this I HATE MY MAJOR. PANIC TIME. Oh, cafeteria, you never change. Your desserts look less tempting than last year, though. Maybe I'll only have two cookies this time.

Junior year: This is weird, half my friends are living in the upperclassmen apartments. Can you believe we're halfway done? Oh, freshmen as suitemates...sure, honey, tone it down a little. I realize you get one chance a week to have guy friends come over, as per dorm rules, but you'll notice the rest of the floor can manage to do so without screaming contests. Kinda weird, I haven't met a bunch of these new kids. On the plus side, my new major rocks. This was definitely the right choice. Bonus: I know most of the people in classes. Group projects=win. Pre-registering for my senior year--wow, this seems impossible. And so many of my friends are graduating--lunch is going to be way more boring without you, guys!

This would be useful now, please.
Senior year: Helloooo, apartment, goodbyeee, dorm room. You know, these posters I've had for the last few years don't really appeal to me anymore, but I'm liking the antique look for the walls. Oh wow, there's no way I could wear that to an internship. Thank goodness for thrift stores and student discounts (which I won't be able to use soon--woah, paradigm shift). Who are all these little, squealing people running around campus? Do I know any of you? And must you be making a loud and obvious show of how free and independent you are in the five minutes you have left before curfew? Everyone in my classes has been here for years, it's pretty sweet. We need to recruit new members for Extracurricular Club, though, since all the officers are graduating this year. Speaking of graduation, this paper is really not that important, unlike certain things involving looking for jobs. I think I'm ready to be out of here. I am definitely not ready to be out of here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday Ephemera: Hello, Dolly

I'm back in America, which means I'll be posting Friday Ephemera again! Rejoice, all ye peoples, for I know that you have long pined for what random things I can dredge up!

It's barely two weeks into the school year and I'm already sleep-deprived. In the interest of making everyone else as miserable as I am, please go look at the lifelike Harry Potter Reborn baby dolls, which feature various Harry Potter characters as very realistic baby dolls. Here's another link which includes more pictures, including Cho Chang and Ginny Weasley.
And fine, some of them are very cute. Babies Voldemort and Dobby will be haunting my nightmares, though.

I can't embed the video, but please follow this link to go see the wonderful, miraculous Breast Milk Baby doll, which the website assures us is the "World's First Breastfeeding Baby." I can only assume they forgot the "doll" part, or else there's something very weird going on. Regardless, check out the video of the little girl who looks so completely thrilled (sarcasm added).

The kids in the next commercial are feeling a very different emotion:
You see them turning? That's not joy, that's pure terror so great their little minds can't take it anymore and they just crack.

Well, thank goodness we don't have creepy dolls in commercials these days...
Why this hasn't gone viral, I'll never know.
...There's a making-of video, and I'm almost afraid to admit that it fascinates me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Facing Facts: Trip Over

I have a confession: I'm not in Germany anymore. I'm not wearing long-sleeved shirts because it's 90 degrees here. I'm not converting from euro to dollars in my head anymore. I changed my Facebook "current city" away from Lueneburg.

Like how I managed to avoid a lot of culture shock going to Germany in the first place, I haven't suffered reverse culture shock at all. There's been none of what I was warned about, having to readjust to my own culture after after adapting to Germany's.

Which is not to say that it's as if I never left. Even though I had Americans to help me, I proved to myself that I am capable of surviving in another country. Another culture. It's one I didn't find too different, sure, but it definitely wasn't America.

I think there's a tendency to compare the countries, because that's how you see the, comparing the various aspects. And, of course, people want to know which is better?

Granted, Germany is a lot older than the U.S., but I'm not going to focus on size here. Instead, let's look at the ways to regulate house temperature. Germany has these awesome windows that can be adjusted to be cracked open at the top, or the can be swung open. America generally has windows that slide (often unwillingly) up and down or side-to-side. German windows don't have insect screens, though.

And then, there's the heating and a/c. The latter is practically nonexistent, so when things get uncomfortably warm, or even hot--and it does-- you're out of luck. So as much as I love the multi-use windows, the USA wins this round.

Again, we have to acknowledge the differences here. Where I was in northern Germany was very flat, unlike the semi-hilly Southern U.S., and a city the size of Lueneburg would, in America, be much more spread out. But being so close together and flat, everyone had a bike, and biking was a great way to get around. The buses there ran to a lot of small residential neighborhoods, which I've never come across before, and even walking was easy with so much within an easy walking distance. Lueneburg was very pedestrian-friendly. There's no point in walking anywhere but the mailbox here, so Germany gets the point.

There are a dozen bakeries and cafes on every corner, or at least it feels like it. You only have to look at my Foods of Germany post to realize that we lag far behind not just in the croissant department, but in the area of ice cream. Here, you can get vanilla or chocolate soft-serve for a dollar. There, for 80 cents you can get a scoop of any of a dozen flavors. Also, two words: Eis Schokolade. Germany wins, hands down.

Specialized stores are still common in Germany: I got food at the market, had to go to an Apotheke (drug store) to buy aspirin, and yet another place for shampoo. Most food markets were very small, and I only found one big one that resembled something an American would be used to, the size of Kroger (or Giant or Food Lion, pick your brand) that sold a small variety of household items, books/magazines, and school supplies along with food. In markets you have to bring your own bag or buy them there, at a cost of 10-20 centers a bag, and you bag your own items. If you want a cart, you put in a 50-cent or 1-euro coin to get it out of a special lock (you get the coin back when you return it), and some places even do the same for adorable kiddie-carts.
See the chains linking them? A monetary investment keeps the carts from cluttering the parking lot.
I love the carts and wish that would be adopted here, but the hassle of frantically trying to bag your stuff while the cashier sighs impatiently and the larger selection of items (that won't change constantly) gives this round to the U.S.

The bottom line is, there's no such thing as a perfect country. I loved the easy transport in Lueneburg, but that's just not feasible in Nashville. I'm happy to have screens to keep bugs out of my room, but I miss opening the awesome windows to their max. I wholeheartedly believe that the cafes and bakeries would be beneficial to America, since the expensive Starbucks-and-co that populate us can't compare, but I'm glad to have someone bagging my strawberries again and not have to stuff bags into my purse for future use.

It's different. But then, that was the entire point of studying abroad. If I could go back, I wouldn't change a thing.

Well, one thing. I'd buy my German-English dictionary before my fourth week there. But that's the only thing.


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