Stay animated: 7 ways to survive reading period

readingperiodTo chill or not to chill? A reading period mantra. During times like these (with little-to-no class…or, if you’re unlucky, a lot of class), it’s easy to get distracted. Suddenly everything in New England may look super fun and enticingly adventurous—that’s totally normal. Although I won’t encourage you to drop the books and find a car and zip to the destination of your dreams….who am I kidding? That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

If you find that you’re coming to resemble the above animation, consider putting brakes on the studying and indulging in some you time. Consider doing one of the following:

1. Go to the RISD Farm in Barrington, RI (it’s actually a beach). It’s beautiful, a stone’s throw away, and it’s private! Only Brown or RISD students allowed, so bring your ID. Try biking there for a good workout. Continue Reading

Winners of the Spring Weekend Caption Contest

The competition has been fierce. The captions witty, deft, and cheeky. The quippy quotations were so brilliant we had to fight them off with an army of Furbies. But it’s all over now. The first annual Spring Weekend Caption Contest has come to a close. Here are the results:

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Spring Weekend Caption Contest

As the fog of Spring Weekend settles over College Hill, you’re probably trying to piece together all the details of all that occurred this weekend. You’re likely asking yourself, WTF even happened this weekend? The past few days have been a whirlwind of tomfoolery, and BlogDH wants to get your take on the experience… and what you think you remember went down this weekend.

Here are three cartoons that need some captioning. Tell us what you were saying/thinking at these moments by commenting on each picture (like the one below) in our Facebook album. You may just see your caption in the thought bubbles published on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!


Food for Thought: Why you should learn to cook

Yum.In middle school I went through a quick-bread-making phase. They were all banana breads, but I would put a whole bunch of other things in there. I made pear bread with walnuts. Then I made apple bread. Then carrot cake bread. And maybe, if I was feeling unoriginal, I made some plain ‘ole banana bread. Baking was something I did when I was extremely bored, and, while it was fun, I don’t think I was getting the point yet.

Maybe it was because I was just baking. I continued to sporadically bake throughout high school, but since I had exhausted the quick bread (may it rest in peace) I had to expand my repertoire. My new baked goods of choice were cakes, because I liked decorating them (and pretending like I worked at Charm City Cakes…a back pocket career move that I’m still saving). But baking’s downfall is that no one really wants to eat what you make. Baked goods are extra. Put them on the table in your home or dorm, and people will devour them when stressed out or drunk, but that’s not very glamorous. My cakes were pretty, but they would usually go to waste unless I forced any and all visitors to have a slice.

But cooking a meal is different. People really want to eat a meal. If you make dinner (especially if you time things wrong and it’s not ready until 9:00 p.m. and your family almost wishes you would just go back to college so they could eat at a decent time of night) people will be hungry when it’s served. Remember: hunger is the best sauce. They will be planning on eating your food, and they’ll spend more than a minute doing it.

It took me until this past winter break to start seeing why cooking is fun and fulfilling and communal and delicious. And I wouldn’t have delved into such a wonderful pastime if my little brother, Ben, had not recently become so interested in the culinary arts. Fortunately, I had nothing to do over break — a time I usually devote to a combination of eating and sleeping — so I became his devoted sous chef. Preparing meals with Ben soon became a part of my busy schedule. We made lamb filled wontons, duck gumbo, bibimbap, salted caramel ice cream, black bean burgers, and potato leak soup, among other things. I even learned how to use a mandolin to cut fruits and vegetables so thin that you could see through them.

But the mandolin (to to be confused with the instrument) wasn’t the only thing I learned about. Cooking, especially with someone whose company you enjoy, can change the way you think about food. And if you’re anything like me, food is a HUGE part of your life. Check out some things I learned that you can apply to even the smallest cooking excursions (like when I make an adapted Tiramisu in the Ratty) after the jump:

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Your brain on finals

Feeling overwhelmed by work? Need a pick-me-up? Don’t drink one of those disgusting 5- Hour Energy drinks, binge-eat Twinkies, or cry out in sorrow. Instead, calmly read this interview with Fiery Cushman — one Brown’s fantastic professors of Psychology — and learn about what you can do/are doing for your noggin in the coming weeks.Sarah Weiss: Does what I eat have an affect on my brain’s ability to study?

Professor Fiery Cushman: Actually it does.  The brain consumes a large proportion of the body’s energy, and several studies indicate that our investment in careful, effortful thought depends in part on the amount of available sugar in our blood.  When your blood is full of energy you work harder and longer on difficult problems, and are also better at exerting willpower and control over your behavior.But this doesn’t mean that your studying should be fueled by a steady stream of soda and twinkies.  That will buy you a short-term jump in blood sugar, but a long-term crash.  A smarter strategy is to fuel yourself for studying the way you would for a hike: using snacks like trail mix that provide a steady stream of fuel over a long period of time.

That [Survey Course] Kid

You may know that kid from the first row of Principles of Econ, or from the Canvas page for Social Psychology. Having trouble spotting him? Look for a glint in his eyes when he talks about Environmental Studies or Neuroscience. That [Survey Course] Kids are everywhere.

Survey courses have the potential to induce this fervor and enthusiasm  in any and all students, especially when we’re feeling uninspired — trolling for a passion. And as indecisive American college students, we’re always ready to hop on the bandwagon of the next big thing. Trust me. I read the Social Psychology textbook cover to cover last year and proceeded to tout it as my second concentration. I now actively insert terms like “cognitive dissonance” into my everyday conversations. It’s infectious.

Here are some course offerings that tend to ignite such enthusiasm. Keep them in mind as you take a look at what you’ve just pre-registered for. Any of the mentioned courses could be just what you (underclassmen) are looking for in a new direction:

Humans, Nature, and the Environment: Addressing Environmental Change in the 21st Century (ENVS0110): First you’ll start recycling. Then you’ll purchase a bike on Craigslist. And before you know it, you’ll be making your own granola every week. This introduction to Environmental Studies offers a perfectly relevant platform for an invigorating academic obsession. With discussion section in Brown’s quaint University Environmental Laboratory — where one finds him/herself surrounded by a kitchen and an organic garden while discussing sustainability on the reg — it’s hard not to feel the cool factor of this area of interest. Everyone who passes through this building seems to have the passion that you seek. It’s tempting. Continue Reading