Archive for the ‘Wolf Bite Wednesday’ Category

Wolf Bite Wednesday (Gardening Is Not Elitist)

April 7, 2010 4 comments

I’m sure you’ve heard the people claiming it’s elitist to backyard or container garden.  The “reasoning,” apparently, is that because other people in the world have to farm to subsist, doing so when you don’t have to is rude to them.  Or something like that.  Excuse me, but the assumption that farming is something you only do until you can afford not to is what’s elitist.  It’s looking down on farmers.  It’s looking down on people who are actually willing to get their hands dirty to sustain themselves.  It’s looking down on everyone who works along the line to make the packaged, processed foods these so-called humanitarians eat.

There is, of course, a place for production farming.  It’s a great way to produce a lot of food in a short amount of time at a relatively low price to feed a bunch of people.  It’s obviously far more logical to have a large farm of rice paddies than for me to attempt to make my own rice paddy in Boston.  I’m laughing just thinking about it.

But what about your backyard that is currently just grass?  What about your balcony that’s decorated only with chairs and a few garden gnomes?  What about the 3 feet of space in my kitchen that’s too small to fit an appliance or table in, so is currently just wasted space?  If I grow vegetables and/or fruit there, I’m:

  • Using space that would otherwise be wasted for a valuable purpose
  • Lessening my environmental impact, which is a benefit for everyone
  • Becoming more self-reliant, which is always a good thing
  • Maintaining important knowledge to help pass down to future generations

These people seem to think that big business manufacturing is The Answer to all societal problems, but it isn’t.  It isn’t too hard to imagine a future where no one knows the basics.  Where no one is in touch with the earth or with their food or with their clothing or with the animals.  We’re practically living in it now.  Just look at the obesity epidemic, the violence, the general feeling of ennui permeating modern life.  We’ve become so caught up in the power of manufacturing that we’ve forgotten even good things are bad if they aren’t in moderation.  It’s great that I can get rice and tofu in the store–those aren’t exactly things that I can grow in my backyard.  But it’s also great that I can grow a tomato in my kitchen.  Nothing teaches you where food comes from quite so well as planting the seed, nurturing the plant, and harvesting the fruit yourself.  It’s empowering.  It’s understanding on a close, personal level what we as people are capable of with our opposable thumbs and big brains.  Gardening isn’t elitist.  It’s bringing a sense of humanity back to a people whose culture continually tries to rob them of it.

Wolf Bite Wednesday (Alarm Clocks)

March 17, 2010 2 comments

There really should be a better way to be woken up than by an alarm clock.  Actually, it bugs me that we need alarm clocks at all.  Back in the day, people naturally woke up when they woke up, which was generally dawn-ish.  With the advent of electric lights though we’ve all thrown our sleep cycles out of whack.  I wouldn’t want to let go of technology, and I enjoy being able to be awake for 19 hours a day, but you’d think science would have come up with a way for us to get the amount of sleep we need in fewer hours by now.  But no.  We have to get by with caffeine and the buzzing of alarms that sometimes just epically fail to wake us up.  Maybe if there was some way to inject caffeine into us at a certain time so that we just woke up semi-naturally, already alert due to the caffeine coursing through our veins.  Now that’s an idea science needs to get on!

In the meantime, maybe I should invest in one of those super-loud alarm clocks that actively moves away from you.  When even the cat hitting you in the head fails to wake you up, you know you gotta do something.

Wolf Bite Wednesday (Rechts Stehen; Links Gehen!)

March 10, 2010 2 comments

Every time I am on the stairs or escalators of the T (subway for you non Bostonians), I want to shout “Rechts stehen; Links gehen!!”  a handy phrase I picked up on my visit to Germany.

If the Europeans who drive on the wrong side of the road can understand that you stick to the right on the stairs, then you people should be able to.  I mean, really, it’s not that hard.  Why do you veer off to the left?  Worse, why veer off to the left on an escalator and then stand there leaving a line of people stuck behind you moving at a snail’s pace and missing their buses by milliseconds because you were too damn lazy not only to climb the moving stairs but also to take two tiny steps to your right?!  And then you have the nerve to glare at us would-be active folk who dare to ask you to move your royal ass aside. 

And let’s not forget the folk on the stairs who decide that rules don’t apply to them and barrel down the left-hand side, nearly knocking over the people climbing up the stairs.  Then you have the gall to get angry at us for the near collision when it’s you who is at fault.  YOU

So the next time you find yourself on an escalator and you want to be even lazier than you already are, keep to the right.

The next time you’re barreling down the stairs, keep to the right.

Rechts stehen; Links gehen.  It’s really not that hard, folks.

Wolf Bite Wednesday (Impossible Graduate Assignments)

February 10, 2010 2 comments

Dear professors and adjunct professors who teach graduate level courses,

I’m imagining there must be some super-secret meeting of you folks where you all agree upon how to be evil to us as some form of rite of passage to earn our graduate degrees.  It’s not enough that we’ve already fought our way through high school, the SATs, freshman year of undergrad, the rest of undergrad, and the epic painful life choice of what the hell am I going to do for a career.  It’s also not enough that most of us are working real jobs while we also partake in endless hours of class and homework.  For some reason, these are not enough dues paid.  We must pay more.  Enter the class work or homework that you, the professor, know has no answer or solution.  The unsolvable problem.  The unattainable quest.

I have never encountered this in my education before.  I may have banged my head against the table attempting to solve for x in high school algebra, but I was always confident that there was indeed an answer.  My teacher could never be so cruel as to assign an unsolvable problem.  Other things may have changed throughout my education–citation style desired, writing style desired, form notes should be taken in–but this one thing remained true.  There was always an answer to the problem.

Then grad school came.  I will never forget the endless hours I spent attempting to figure out how to update a mythical library’s computers so that all of them would run in a similar capability level within a certain budget only to find out after the assignment was handed in that the problem was impossible! Hah!  See, what I learned there is, in the real world, sometimes there is no solution.

Well duh!  I know that sometimes it sucks in the real world.  I know sometimes there’s just not enough money for what you need.  I didn’t live on a intern’s salary of $120 a month and expect to be able to eat anything beyond pasta and olive oil.  This, however, is not the real world.  This is school.  You are not being creative.  You are not teaching us a valuable lesson.  If you really were concerned about this, you could do something like tell us in lecture that sometimes your budget isn’t big enough to do what your boss wants you to do.  Or sometimes databases suck and won’t work to find what you need.  Or you could create an actually useful assignment that doesn’t lie to us and tell us “your boss is being an asshole and expects you to do all this with this minuscule amount of money. Figure out the best solution you can that might make him happy.”

You are not being creative when you make us do class work consisting of attempts to find articles in databases that you know won’t be there.  You could just tell us “this database is only good for these types of things.”  I mean, isn’t that what grad school is for?  To teach us the librarian-fu secrets that will make us look bad-ass on the job?

For the love of god, we are paying enough dues already.  We’ve been running on less than healthy amounts of sleep since we were around 16 years old.  We’ve chugged unhealthy amounts of caffeine, studied endlessly for standardized tests, filled out confusing as fuck application forms, and more.  Grad school should be about helping us, not giving us more hoops to jump through.

So, please, please, stop giving us assignments you know are impossible to solve.

If you don’t, I swear I’ll stop caring about them altogether.


One annoyed grad student

Wolf Bite Wednesday (Snowbrellas)

February 3, 2010 4 comments

I’m starting a new weekly meme that I hope you all will enjoy.  I was inspired by a comment on my review of the book Ethan: Site 39.  The author stopped by and called it “the Wolf Bite,” which I found hilarious and promptly decided this needs to be a meme.

The meme will be a relatively brief and hopefully humorous rant about something that irritates me.  Hence the whole bite thing.  I will be trying for it to be witty and not whiny so you guys will enjoy.  Crossing my fingers, er, toes since I’m typing, let’s get down to business with the first topic: Snowbrellas!

I was pleased as punch to see snow greeting me this morning when I left for my commute.  Thoroughly enjoying feeling it land on my face and decorate my coat, I walked to my bus stop.  There I was met with one of my prime winter-time irritants.  No, not plow trucks or ice.  The Snowbrella.

The Snowbrella is what I have dubbed umbrellas when people carry them in the snow.  Long I have attempted to figure out what exactly possesses people to carry umbrellas when it’s snowing.  Do they not understand that the snow won’t soak through their clothing like rain does?  Have they never heard of the lovely concept of the winter hat?  Do they think if the snow touches anything but their boots they will melt?  Then I start to wonder if they’ve ever even ventured out in the snow without an umbrella or, god forbid, played in it.

The wonderful winter scenes of falling snow and the various snazzy hats and scarves people don in the winter are ruined by the appearance of these bulky snowbrellas.  They jar me from the pleasure of a season I enjoy with the association with the freezing rain of fall.  Not to mention that I then have to navigate not to get whapped upside the head by a snowbrella, because we all know how bad people are at managing where their snowbrella goes.

What the hell, people?  Acquire a winter hat, leave the snowbrella at home, stop ruining the scenery for everyone else, and enjoy the winter.  You live in New England, for heaven’s sake!  Enjoy it!

Plus, you look like a complete idiot hiding under your umbrella from the snow.