Crunchy leaves to crushing solo cups: Fall then and now

As we approach the final month of the year, I realized that I dislike months ending in “-ber.” When did this happen? What is the common denominator here?

Fall. Autumn. Whatever.

Join me as I take a good, hard, overly-critical look at some aspects of Fall and see how the beautiful process of maturing has ruined and/or devalued them.

FALLen Leaves:

Then: As a kid, you may remember watching your parents exhibit god-like levels of self-control as you would throw your youthful body into the piles of raked leaves aka the fruits of their labor. Grabbing armfuls of leaves and throwing them into the air/at your siblings was truly joyous. Stepping on a leaf and hearing it crunch beneath your mighty child-sized light-up Kmart sneakers was incredible. You are powerful! Walking is no longer monotonous now that there’s a goal (crushing) and a soundtrack (crunching).

Quick! Someone call AFV!

Now: Ah, yes let me propel my aging body, with all it’s odd aches and markings (all diseased, as per WebMD) into this pile of dead-tree scraps and possibly upward-pointed sticks. Wet leaves, various creepy crawlies, DIRT–who wouldn’t want to catapult themselves into nature’s dumpster??? I was wearing a V-neck the other day and a leaf flew down my shirt. Making eye contact with a passerby as you proudly reveal the leaf you removed from your nonexistent cleavage is just so freakin’ seasonal. Now whenever I wear my knockoff Birkenstocks (#confusingweather) leaves stick to my socks (don’t judge me). Deliberately treading on crunchy leaves? Eh, if you step on a littered Solo cup it makes the same noise.

I feel so young and alive!

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What we’re reading

Last night, Viola Davis became the first African American to win the best actress in a drama category in the history of the Emmy Awards. She won for her role in How to Get Away with Murder. Her speech has garnered praise from many in the industry. A full list last night’s winners can be found here.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will make his first state visit to the United States in the coming weeks amidst increasing tension between China and the U.S. The New Yorker explores factors adding to the tension in bi-lateral relations in a recent piece, including increased nationalism in both countries and wavering economic stability.

Responding to recent claims that college students are being unduly shielded from uncomfortable opinions — most notably The Atlantic‘s “The Coddling of the American Mind” — Kate Manne, assistant professor of philosophy at Cornell College, defends her use of trigger warnings in the New York Times. Her main point: what’s the harm? If it helps some people out, then why not do it?

Our Wesleyan counterpart, Wesleying (cleverer name than Blog?), published a very cool piece on the responsibilities of campus publications to represent all students’ lives, and the problems of having a homogeneous staff. The piece is a response to a highly controversial opinion article on the Black Lives Matter movement that was published in another Wesleyan campus publication.

Looking to change things up culinarily? Check out these quick weeknight recipes that can help make your life a little easier if you’re off meal plan and a little less monotonous if you still are.

What we’re reading

This week, we have two pieces from the New York Times analyzing the current nature of higher education. In “Are College Lectures Unfair?“, Annie Murphy Paul discusses factors that affect students of various backgrounds differently. Why is it that lecture courses tend to disadvantage minority students? Do more engaging courses actually affect participation rates and performance? In “Teaching Slavery to Reluctant Listeners,”Edward Baptist, professor of history at Cornell, writes about his experience teaching American history with a changing student demographic. These two articles provide some interesting thoughts to ponder as we start the new semester.

Last Friday, federal health officials announced that they would be stopping a study focusing on the appropriate target level for blood pressure more than a year before its intended end date. Why? Because the evidence was already conclusive. The study tested the effect of reducing systolic blood pressure to below 120–levels significantly lower than federal guidelines currently advise. The results? Lowering blood pressure to such levels reduced the risks of individuals having heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, and dying.

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Frosh-cessities: The Seven Deadly Mentalities of Freshman Orientation


As summer comes to an end, first-year college students around America will be pumped through the exciting yet cringe-inducing process of college orientation. The event somehow walks the line between purgatory and platonic speed dating. Students spend excruciating hours sitting down for awkward seminars and icebreaker sessions. The three questions: “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from?” and “Where are you living?” will be repeated millions of times until responses start sounding like they’re coming out of Siri. For some, orientation means newfound independence; for others, it is the gift of a blank canvas and a chance to start over. However, all feel the constant pressure to give off the right first impression to the right people.

Despite the superficial nature of the first days on campus, freshman orientation shouldn’t be something you float through. This is the only time in college where everyone is in the same social boat; everyone is looking for friends. The shared experience makes it easy to meet loads of people from different backgrounds and possibly make connections to last the next four years and beyond.

To get the most out of orientation, I recommend avoiding the following seven mentalities:

1. “This is so stupid.”

You’ve had nightmares based on posts on the accepted students Facebook page and now believe everyone is dorky, snobbish, and/or overexcited to a level that would make even Michael Scott cringe. You’re the only normal one here. Maybe it’s best to skip orientation altogether and lay low for a while.


Please. Not everyone will be straight outta Cringefest 2015. If you shut yourself out of orientation, you will miss opportunities to both find friends and learn how to navigate the complicated and often confusing Brown system. Although some events wont hurt to skip [Ed. Not that we’re condoning this], make sure you at least go to convocation, and learn the names of everyone on your floor.

2. “No parents! No rules!”

You’re free from the parents!!! Now is your time to GET WASTED!

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The actual mottos of American universities

Stuffy old Latin phrases don’t mean much anymore. Check out these updated mottos, designed to truly encapsulate the essence of prominent American colleges in a modern era!

Stanford University

Stanford Logo

Official Motto: The wind of freedom blows

Actual Motto: Seeking front-end developer with at least five years of experience in Java, HTML, and Ruby 


Harvard University

Harvard Crest

Official Motto: Veritas

Actual Motto: Just a university up in Cambridge, you may have heard of it


Yale University

Yale Logo

Official Motto: Lux et Veritas

Actual Motto: Harvard 2: Return of the Veritas

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A beginner’s guide to throwing a party

Recently, my housemates and I undertook a big project: throwing our first party. We are not members of a fraternity, none of us are on any teams (Blog is a sport), nor do we have some greater social purpose for living together (like farming or whatever it is that co-ops do). We’re just some humans that wanted to have about 100 people we know and kinda like over to our house to drink and chat and stuff. Ambitious, I know!

I’ve been at Brown for a few years and attended many a party, but there is so much to learn by being the host yourself. After all, you’re at the same event from its commencement to its bitter end. Who even knows what happens at a party in that first techincally-its-started-but-not-actually hour?!

Read on for a gripping portrait of what happens when you invite many college students over to your home for a couple hours, having purchased a copious amount of cheap alcohol.

Before the party 

The first thing you learn when you want to throw a party is that it’s hard to decide when to throw a party. When you first move in to your house, someone will say every few hours, “We could have such a good party here!” As the days and weeks go on, once in a while people will make a comment like “When we have our party, we should have pitchers of fun drinks! Maybe homemade sangria!” or, if you get mad at someone “Well, she’s certainly not going to be invited to the Facebook event for our party.” None of these off-hand comments will prove relevant to your actual party, but they are good for keeping the ‘party concept’ on everyone’s mind.

Weeks will go by, and you will not have your party. There will be other big events on campus, midterms in your classes, and a general insecurity festering that you aren’t good enough to throw a party. But then, one Tuesday or Wednesday, you will realize: Hey! I know of nothing going on this weekend. We should have a party! This is the first step in an uphill battle of getting the attention of everyone you live with, convincing them to have a party, getting frustrated about everyone’s lack of commitment, becoming hesitant about the party, being re-convinced by your housemate who now wants to have the party, and finally, everyone agreeing that you all are going to have a party.

Deciding how to invite people is another difficult step. Are you trying to throw a “casual” party, where you text people a brief, cool invite the  morning of, hoping word of mouth will do the trick? Do you go alt and email people? If so, is everyone cc’ed or bcc’ed? A Facebook event seems most efficient, but then do you make it private or can guests’ friends see? Decisions, decisions. Whatever you decide, it will not go exactly according to plan. You don’t have all that much control over who ends up coming.

Then, it’s time to purchase alcohol, potentially buy decorations, and move some furniture around. Our layout consisted of a “dance floor room” (an empty room), a “hang out room” (the room with the couch), a “bar area” (the kitchen has a fridge), and a “smoking area” (we have a porch).

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