Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jack's What to Bring, I (Clothes)

sponsored by 
La Crema Coffee and Roastery
La Conner, WA

The weather here in Bellingham is fickle in such a particular way. It will jump around from rainy to snowy to windy and sunny, and almost all in the same day. Having gone through a cycle in my first year, I feel pretty confident about what you should bring clothes-wise to adapt with the weather.

Thick rain or hiking boots - I myself have hiking boots that are just a few hairs too big, so they're comfortable when I lace them up, and I don't get too hot if I have to wear them all day. Also, you don't have to be scared about getting your socks wet when walking through campus, which is notorious for puddles. Just relax, and have a moment of childhood nostalgia just splashing through the puddles.

[Jack suggests: "Wearing boots without holes...or made by Disney in China."]

Jackets / coats / sweatshirts - It is a good idea to have a variety of cover, from light to heavy. Then you're ready for the sunny-yet-not-warm days, the truly-rainy days, the suddenly-sunny days, as well as the days the sun takes a break: snowstorm-days. Umbrellas are a good accessory, but be wary--the use of an umbrella is oft-seen as a non-Washingtonian trait.

["One word: layers."]

Cold-day clothes - Layers and boots go a long way to keeping warm. As do gloves and / or mittens, a scarf, and a hat. A hat or hood of some sort is perfect for keeping your head / hair dry. To stay with the "in-crowd," I suggest a beanie, hooded sweatshirt, fedora, or any hat you feel comfortable with.

["Tricornes are perfect, and proven against even the saltiest weather."]

Sunny-day clothes - Once and a while, the sun will decide to visit unannounced, like traveling relatives, and so it is always a good idea to have appropriate apparel for these fleeting moments. Whatever you wear during warm days, whether its short-sleeve shirts, tanktops, shorts, unbottoned-button-up shirts, sandals, etc., that's what I recommend to bring, even during Fall and Winter quarters--just in case.

["You have to learn to take in the sun, especially with some rum."]

Fancy / Dress-up clothes - Many times this year, I've seen groups of people all dressed up as if there was a fancy dance. Most of the time, it was for an off-campus party, or just a group of people wanting to be randomly fancy at dinner or late night. If you are one to wear ties and / or nice dresses, it won't hurt to have them available.

["Make anything look good."]

The main point is to be ready for almost any kind of weather at any time of the year up here.

Looking for good coffee in La Conner, WA? Look no further than La Crema Coffee and Roastery for your caffeine needs. Great coffee and timely service,  with seating, Wi-Fi, and parking available.
Personally, I like the dirty chai.

I claim no rights to Captain Jack Sparrow, Disney does.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

College By the Numbers, Year I

For those that are curious, I've compiled some numbers from my freshman year that may be useful. This info has been gathered from each of the quarters (Fall, Winter, and Spring), so you can click the links for more quarter-specific numbers.

Edit: It has been requested that I reveal the numbers on living expenses in the dorms. According to this WWU document, dorms (w/o meals) cost $5,571.
Each student is given a Laundry Card to use the washer and dryers on campus. Initially the cards have $1.75 on them, and then each student is responsible for reloading their card by going to the dining halls and paying cash at the converter. While doing laundry this year, I spent $19.50 from the card ($17.75 of cash onto the card), and found $8.39 in the machines, hidden in wet piles of lint, hair-ties, lipstick, and paperclips.

In total, I spent $960.80 on 13 textbooks. Most of them I was able to sell back to the bookstore for some cash, but I'm going to try and do more student-to-student transactions when possible, to keep costs down and cash-back a little higher.


Each quarter, students with certain meal plans are given $150 Dining Dollars on their ID cards. This money is for buying food and beverages at the on-campus diners and markets. The leftover money is carried over each quarter, except for summer, where it disappears. Of the $450 given to me, I easily spent it all.

I paid for an Unlimited Meal Plan for three quarters, with the combined cost of $3,179. The unlimited plan allowed me to eat whenever the dining halls were open, without worrying about using up all of my meals.  I've been keeping track, and I've used 161 meals which equates to $1,233.75 if I had paid for each meal myself. Each quarter there were 10 guest passes available, and I used all 30.
Meals, 146 (1,125 of 1,208), 176 (1327.5 of 1049), (1233.75 of 922)

Each student is given $25 a quarter for printing off of the school's printers. With black and white costing $0.05 and color $0.25, that's 500 and 100 pages, respectively. Out of the $75 available to me, I only used $38.10, and all in black and white (762 pages). If students run out of this free account, printing cards can be purchased and reloaded in the library.

At the beginning of the year I had a $100 gift card to the Associated Students Bookstore to buy things other than textbooks. All of this money was used to buy pens, pencils, paper, CDs, surge protectors, and a few other things I needed throughout the quarter. I found it was really good to have the card on me, as I didn't have to spend my cash--which could then be used to buy other things, like bowling or hot dogs in Bellingham.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

College Rat Move-Out

During Finals Week, I had a lapse of humanity, and started to express a possible instinctive trait carried down from rodents after the Great Chasm in Earth's biological evolution from germ to demi-god-germ. The specific trait I am talking about is shared with birds, rodents, pregnant she-humans, and many other organisms discovered and hidden: nesting.

The definition of nesting instinct (according to Wikipedia) includes phrases such as:
...nesting instinct refers to an instinct or urge in pregnant animals to prepare a home for the upcoming newborn(s). It is found in a variety of animals (both mammals and birds) including humans...It is commonly characterized by a strong urge to clean and organize one's home...
[--All-Knowing Wikipedia]
It is thus that I have a confession to make...I am having a nesting instinct because I'm pregnant: with ideas! Also, I was moving out at the end of the week. Here is a selection of picture-images of the sequence of chaos.

My side of the room after I took it un-lofted it (lawfully). I had a fridge, microwave, locker, drawers, and box of food beneath it, so it had to be moved into the open middle.

My roommate's bed before taking it apart (top), and then the following chaos of his bed on my bed [uncensored].

Through the scattered remains of the bed, I noticed that our Jeweled Doorhandle Owl was leering at us. And then I realized his bed was suddenly de-lofted like mine!

This is how my closet and fridge / microwave combo looked until the moment I moved out. The other power plugs were either taken, or inaccessible due to other displaced stuff. So, it was all plugged into my closet.

This clutter intrigues me, and terrifies me at the same time. It's like the image of hiding yourself away in the middle of a huge museum of paintings, or shelves and shelves of books--I'm drawn to that idea, but I'm afraid that once I start, I won't stop.
It is this image of being nested within something inspires me. I want to be enveloped in it. Also, the nesting thing may also be my mind cradling all these ideas in my head--some of which will be taking fruition soon, and some I have yet to start tilling.
Damn, my metaphors and literary devices are scattered today.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jack's What to Bring, Intro

The full title is actually Jack's What to Bring to College, but it will be shortened for future posts.
This summer, with the help of Captain Jack Sparrow and La Crema Coffee and Roastery, I will explain things to bring with you when you go to college, from clothes to ideas to dorm-living. Hopefully this will be an entertaining little project to keep posts going for a while during summer break.

If you have any suggestions, write them here (anonymously, or not), or post on the Facebook page for Alex Kramer Blogs.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

College By The Numbers, Quarter III

Herein lies the continuation of my "College By the Numbers" series. You can click through these links to find the numbers from first quarter, as well as second quarter.
Western's Spring 2011 quarter started March 29, and officially ends June 10. That makes the quarter 2 months and 12 days--equivalent to 10.4 weeks; or 74 days; or 53 weekdays.
[Wolfram alpha is amazing]

Now, time for The Numbers for...

Dorm Life
  • Finished one bar of shower soap
  • ~2/3 of a bottle of shampoo
  • About a quarter of a tube of toothpaste
  • One tooth brush
  • Visited home four weekends of the ten weeks
  • I actually found $0.74 in the laundry machines...
  • While spending $8.75 on my Laundry Card

    It's a good idea to have like $3 on your card, in case you need to have an emergency cleaning.

Class Materials
  • Went through two black, ball-point pens taking notes in four classes.
  • Used another half "vial" of pencil lead.
  • Between four classes, I went through two-and-a-half  notebooks.
  • Almost finished off the last of my lined paper, mainly with math.
  • Spent $492.59 on five textbooks--the most expensive being accounting, at $132.

College / Campus
  • Every quarter, I have $150 available on my Western ID card to use at the campus markets and coffee shops. Any leftover money goes to the next quarter--but ends up getting deleted when summer starts. Last quarter I had $3.25 left over, so a total of $153.25 at the start of this quarter. [Enter total here]. I had 17 cups of dirty chai (chai latte with at least a shot of espresso--usually two).
  • I ate at the dining halls a total of 161 meals, using all 10 of my guest passes. This was using an Unlimited Plan, which I've liked particularly for its flexibility and I don't have to worry about making the meals last the whole quarter. Just like last quarter, I kept extensive track of my meal-usage.
  • An average week had 14 meals this quarter. If I had paid for all my meals with cash, it would've been $1,233.75. According to the file I found on WWU's website, the cost of an Unlimited Plan during Spring Quarter was $922.
  • I printed about 202 pages using school printers. Each student gets $25 per quarter, which is 500 pages, or $0.05 a page (black and white. Color is $0.25 a page). Students that need more may add money to a card to use with the printers.
  • I used the Bellingham Bus system a lot this quarter. The first time I tried, I had to pay because apparently after that much non-use, my account was dropped from my card, but the next day I had it sorted with a quick, three-minute visit to the right offices.

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Things I've Heard In College, Quarter III

    Girl at the dining hall to her friends (and half the room): "I have a big announcement to make: I know how to make Baja Blast! It is basically blue gatorade and Mountain Dew!"

    Woman outside of a house party, "I know how much I weigh: 93 pounds, and five shots."

    "Hey, dude, were you in my Econ class last quarter--sat in the back--drank Four Loko in class."
    "Yeah, I don't know why everyone made a big deal about it."

    "With the utmost respect and love, I call you guys "The Scroll Down Generation.""

    Cinema teacher holding a strip of film from a reel: "What if I fell off a spaceship from Mars, that was somehow orbiting Bellingham, Washington--the supposed cultural center of the Universe--how would you explain this to me?"

    "We've all seen a Godzilla film, buzzed at 3 a.m....Was I the only one? (somewhat-silence) It was a great spring vacation."

    "I don't mind breasts, but I'd rather not show you cockfighting in class. Is that weird for anyone?"

    Pack of guys sitting in Red Square, watching the ladies walk around.
    Guy 1: "The one thing I have discovered in college that I love: yoga pants."
    Guy 2: "Really? You've never seen them before?"
    Guy 1: "Nope. I went to a Catholic high school. So this is awesome right now."

    "NASA should have cheerleaders! You would get up at 4 a.m. to watch something get shot off into space if NASA had cheerleaders."

    "Fuck! This Goofy Movie shit is cramping my night!"

    Two guys walking around: "I love this weather! All the booty shorts are coming out and the tank tops are showing!"[They high-fived]

    Guy in line ahead of me swagging it up with the barista while ordering coffee.
    Barista: "May I help you?"
    Guy: "Yes, but I'm not sure what I want. (Looks at menu a moment). You look like a woman with great taste. Why don't you surprise me with something you like, and I'll try it."
    The barista winked at him and wrote down the mystery drink on the cup (and maybe even her number by the way she smiled).

    Accounting teacher talking about depreciation of items: "We can't make the computer disappear, like with Harry Potter's wand magic. What would it be...not 'disappear'...Anyone know how to cast a wand spell?...'Disappeario!' (wand-flick motion)...Sorry, I really like Harry Potter."

    "I find it strange it's okay to show kids peoples' heads blowing up and sing-alongs with purple dinosaurs, but people freak out the moment a woman's breast--something they will actually see in life--is shown on television."

    "Don't ask me to draw: I can't draw a straight line with a ruler."

    Me during Halo: Reach: "Sorry, that was my grenade. I threw it like an hour ago."
    Roommate that was inadvertently targeted: "It's okay, I watched Dodgeball."

    Film teacher: "Seems like a lot of people are under the impression that 4-20 is an actual holiday. All of you nice enough to be here will be rewarded, and not in a way related to the date."

    A student in the back of a big lecture class (with slanted, concrete floors) knocked over their glass bottle (of V8, Starbucks, or Whiskey, I don't know). It rolled down quite a ways, and then hit something and shattered. From the moment it was knocked over, the attention of the class and teacher was on the sound. There was a moment of "They're gonna get it" silence after the glass shattered, and then the teacher smiles and says, "You guys are seriously giving me flashbacks." And proceeded with the lecture like nothing happened.

    After watching The Graduate in class, teacher ends with: "Contrary to popular belief, people from this era did have a sense of humor, and procreated once and a while."

    "You should take a bat, hang it from the ceiling, and smash the pinata against it!"

    Teacher scans the lecture hall before starting class: "Oh, a lot of you are imitating empty chairs today. Well, it is a beautiful day, and it'll only get harder as the quarter passes, but you should still try to make it to class, I'll make it worth your while."

    "If I had 1% of what Avatar made, I would buy an island! I wouldn't be here, you'd have to come to me to learn about cinema."

    When asked about if a question would be on the math final, teacher says: "I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of said question on the final--to cover my ass about it."