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Longhorn Confidential

Longhorn Confidential

Election Season

I’ve been gone for a while and I apologize for that. It has been a hectic month. I’ve been busy with school, my organizations, friends, and the usual college things. In the past couple of weeks I’ve been really busy running for student government.

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February 25, 2011 | | By Chris | 1 Comment

Not-so-fun February

Late February is always such a bummer. I never look forward to the intersection of filing taxes, completing my FAFSA, and worrying about next year’s funding. This period reminds me that for some people I’m an adult, but I still need to ask for my weekly allowance, so to speak. Talking about money is always awkward and it’s definitely impolite in any social situation; I hate even talking to myself about it. But unfortunately it’s a huge part of graduate student life and before I can discuss anything cute or interesting, I need to exorcise these demons.

From my father I inherited an optimism that often borders on denial. It’s served me well in many situations since people like us tend to wait until all the ugly bits of life blow over before we admit that it was ever unpleasant. Most of the time I don’t think about how my graduate student life is being bankrolled. But when I need to fill out application after application and wish upon every evening star that I win the big fellowship prize, which actually is nothing to write home about, it all gets too ridiculous to ignore.

I also inherited a sense of responsibility from my father, so the first thing I admit in this situation is that all of this was my choice. I decided, as an able-bodied adult with all my faculties in check, that I’d voluntarily enter graduate school. Both times. And I accept that this choice comes with many sacrifices. The jokes about eating ramen and wearing sweatpants all the time are very true. Not that I participate in either of those activities, but whatever.

These late February doldrums aren’t out of the ordinary. They actually come round at the beginning and end of every semester. And often in between. But it’s still tiresome to feel like a child, pinning every hope on the slightest raise in her allowance. Or at the very least that her allowance is still there tomorrow.

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February 24, 2011 | | By Doris | Comments Off

Snapshots of my commute

Here are some photos, taken from my vantage point on two Capital Metro buses, of my commute to and from campus today. I’m really digging the juxtaposition of different architectural styles downtown as well as the sunshine that breaks through everyday after lunch. Enjoy!

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere along Congress Avenue

Somewhere in South Austin

Somewhere in South Austin

Somewhere in South Austin

Somewhere in South Austin

Somewhere in South Austin

Somewhere in South Austin

Somewhere in South Austin

Somewhere in South Austin

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February 24, 2011 | | By Doris | 2 Comments

Motivation

Honestly, this whole year has been a pretty difficult one for me. I struggled a lot last semester trying to figure out what I was going to do after I graduated and I am so thankful that I have figured that out. Once I knew I was going to be going to Teach For America and then Google, I thought things would change. I thought that I would be really invested in making my last semester of school pretty memorable. But, at the beginning of this semester, major senioritis kicked in and I found it difficult to really hit my stride. Until now!

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February 23, 2011 | | By Brendan | Comments Off

a new kind of busy

I realize that I’ve been spoiled in college with days that start at 11am and Fridays with no class. Sure there is a lot of work at night and before big tests, but the pace is completely “your choice”. Work is a constant 8-5 struggle and I’m surprised I can keep up with it considering how much I hated 8am’s in college. The pro is that work never follows me home and there is a more distinct time division between work time and time spent at home. Sometimes I wish I could work from home at my own pace, but more likely than not companies will not choose to have this type of schedule – it’s just not conducive towards having work meetings which are essential to the success of any project. So much of corporate work is done on a team level, whereas in school, you can get by just studying really hard alone.

One of the more surprising things that I have found from working, and it may just be specific to my job since I work in a very technical role as part of Global Basic Chemicals Technology, is that I actually use all that I have learned in school. There is no way that I could have picked up everything I need to know on the job as some people have told me before, and I definitely use the programs and equations that I have studied from textbooks. From programming and using numerical methods, to understanding chemical engineering balances, to using fundamental organic chemistry, my job has taken what I learned in school and really forced me to use it to solve a real world problem. So pay attention in class. The things that your professors are teaching you are important and may seem like abstract bologna to you now, but they do come in handy in the future. That is unless you choose to do something completely unrelated to your major in the future…

Finally,  I am beginning to learn how to cook for myself everyday and to cook something that is a little bit more complicated than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I used to eat out a lot in Austin, but there are definitely less food choices here in Baytown and they are not as accessible, so I stock up on groceries at the beginning of every week and try to plan ahead for what dishes I will be attempting during the week. The hardest part about it is getting enough motivation at 5:30pm when I get home from a long day of work to get my butt in the kitchen and take the hour to make something for myself – it’s very hard not to cheat and eat Hot Pockets. I have made classic things like spaghetti and meatballs, grilled chicken, and hot dogs, but I am more proud of some of the more exotic dishes that I’ve made – like this week when I made Skirt steak and egg tacos topped with lentils and orange glazed plantains. It was a pretty crazy idea and it was fun playing with the food; there wasn’t really a recipe that I followed, I just played with the ingredients that I had available. It turned out pretty good, but I overseasoned the skirt steak so I will have to fix that next time. Plantains were amazing. Cooking for myself: just one step closer on my path to independence.

hot dogs and eggplant

hot dogs and eggplant

IMG_1983

the taco components

tacos

tacos

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February 22, 2011 | | By Bill | 2 Comments

Lite Art

Over the weekend Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires opened to the public and it looks great! Several of the artists featured in the show traveled to Austin and two of them — Sebastián Gordín and Marcelo Pombo — participated in a talk with UT Art History Professor Andrea Giunta.

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February 21, 2011 | | By Doris | Comments Off

Facebook etiquette

In my four years here at UT, I have met a bajillion people. Fortunately, I am good with faces. I can recognize someone if I have met them even only one time. My skills are put to the test when it comes to Facebook. Some of the people who add me, I have never met them before in my life. I know some people just search their name and add all the people who share their name. I’m glad that Facebook put the “not now” option when it comes to responding to friend requests. I might not know the person that requested me now (typically because they requested friendship prematurely), but I may know who they are in a few more months after we meet in real life.

I don’t know about other people, but I have some rules about social media that I exercise in daily life. These rules have both protected me and caused awkward situations for me. However, because they are mostly effective, I have stuck to them.

1. If we have never met or had a real interaction (outside of social media), do not add me on Facebook.

2. If you are looking to make me a trophy friend, (ex. the person who will get you to 667 friends or 1,000 friends) I am NOT the one to add on Facebook

3. If you plan on randomly Facebook chatting me “Hi…how are you” and having nothing to add to the conversation, do not add me on Facebook

4. If you plan to add me and ignore me when you see me in real life, I am NOT the one to add on Facebook

5. If you have a picture of a celebrity or have a celebrity name, I will not add you.

6. if you are currently my resident, I will choose “not now”. We can be friends when I’m not your RA anymore.

7. If you are a former professor, I may add you but please don’t be mad if you get the most limited profile ever. But wouldn’t Linked, or something else be more appropriate??

– These rules aren’t hard and fast rules, I just had to get some order back in my life. During my freshman year, I added the whole world just to be nice, but once awkward situations kept arising, I had to do something. These were some of the odd things that happened to me:

Problem: I kept getting a ridiculous amount of irrelevant Facebook events. If you were my real friend, you would know that I don’t want to attend your Underwater Basket Weaving general meeting. You wouldn’t even bother inviting me to your Salem Witch trial moot court. But the 70-something random events in my inbox alert me that my “friends” don’t know me at all. It annoys me.

This is the most prevalent awkward thing that happens to me:

Problem: You see someone that is your friend on Facebook, but you’re not good friends with them. Umm, then why did you add them? Because their profile was aesthetically pleasing. Happens all the time. Carry on. The gap between you and the person is closing. Quick, what do you do:

a) Conveniently have something stuck in your eye. Convincingly rub your eye when he walks by, blocking eye contact with him. Your eyes may be red, but at least you’ve avoided an awkward moment.

b) Choose that time to respond to a text. Texting requires your full concentration. Head down = no eye contact. Don’t worry if you bump into people in the process. They’re not the ones you’re avoiding.

c) Allow yourself to get caught up in the music. Turn up the volume, bite your lip, nod your head up and down, and close your eyes if you would like. Anyone can see you’re too into the music to notice them. Your avoidance is justified.

d) Use the trick that always works when you’re unsure of whether to say hi or ignore the person: You need to use the “cheek crease” or the “dimple”. As you’re walking by a person you may or may not know from an online social media community, lift one cheek in order to create a crease or dimple. In passing, this creates the illusion of a smile. This way, you look approachable, but at the same time they’re not sure if you’re smiling at them or if you just have a permanent crease in your cheek. Awkwardness is avoided and you can save face or make a new real-life friend.

I typically choose choice D. Although choice A, B, and C are options I have utilized in the past, I found that they just create more awkward situations for me.

I am not a social media snob, I just don’t like being overwhelmed with random stuff that has no connection to my real life. I don’t like friendships that are only viable on the web. I like real people and real interactions.

I tried to delete Facebook once and they played my emotions and made me stay. They showed me a page that said “Look at all these people who will miss you if you’re not on Facebook”. It was a pathetic attempt to make me stay, but it worked.

Hello, my name is Timi. I have been a Facebook user since 2004.

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February 21, 2011 | | By Timi | 1 Comment

Put a spring in your step

Whenever I hear samba music I’m overcome with the urge to dance. And even though I do a so-so job faking the samba, it’s been my experience that samba musicians and dancers are just happy to spread the good vibes.

This past weekend I was over the moon when I encountered the Acadêmicos da Ópera at the downtown farmer’s market. I went for breakfast tacos and stayed for the show. As a former marching band geek, I can’t help but become hypnotized by percussion and so I had to fight the sensation to march in time as the musicians walked into the park. They played and danced continuously for nearly an hour in the February drizzle and made me especially excited for the upcoming “HONK!TX Festival of Community Street Bands.” So here’s a bit of Brazilian cheer to kick off the week!

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February 20, 2011 | | By Doris | Comments Off

Lunchladies and the like

Sometime in 1980 my father and three uncles got together to review a list of girl names since in a few months they would each have a newborn daughter. I’m not sure if my dad had already made up his mind or didn’t like the list my eccentric uncle had compiled, but “Doris” was absent from that list. According to my cousins — Susy, Rossi, and Ingrid — I dodged a bullet. However, I wouldn’t say that life as Doris began so well.

I’m sure most people disliked their names as children, but I really detested mine. When “Lunchlady Doris” came to fame during my youth, she ensured that “Doris” would remain a mature woman’s name, thereby exaggerating my precociousness. Every time the elderly women in South Florida heard my name, they’d rejoice and reminisce about a flapper they knew named Doris. This made me feel especially uncool. I couldn’t even make a nickname out of it.

That was my official stance. In secret, I was obsessed with having personalized things. All I ever wanted was a backpack, pencil case, or lunchbox with my name in letters with dots on the end, as was the thing to do in the late 1980s. But my mother wouldn’t oblige since she thought that would make me a target for kidnappers. “Hey, Doris,” a stranger might say to me in a parking lot as I wore said backpack, “Your mom said to come with me.” And of course I’d go since most Dorises are very obedient.

Now that I’m older and no longer under my mother’s rules, I “Doris” everything. Since a backpack with my name wouldn’t fly as an adult, I’ve got my name all over less interesting things like business cards, return address labels, stationery, and stamps. But I still think these items look cool. Probably because I’ve finally embraced my name. After all, I may be the only Doris you ever meet.

doris business carddoris return labeldoris stationerydoris stamp

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February 17, 2011 | | By Doris | 2 Comments

We don’t need another hero

A few years ago, my cousin was lamenting the lack of positive role models for her toddler son. At the top of her disappointment list was Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer player who is one of the best players that ever played the game. Unfortunately, an addiction to drugs and alcohol ended his career early. Yet, he maintains a loyal following. My cousin didn’t want her son admiring someone like Maradona. But all I could think was, “what a waste of talent.”

In today’s edition of The Daily Texan, Aleksander Chan notes the rise of the man-child in popular culture in his article “Misconduct seen as social trend.” The antics of these adult males is depicted in such films as The Hangover and Knocked Up, as well as television shows like Two and a Half Men, whose lead star — Charlie Sheen — performs as the grand marshal of this bad-boy parade.

Chan outlines an interesting development, especially in light of gender politics. But I take issue with his opening sentences: “Charlie Sheen can apparently do no wrong in the eyes of his fans…[he] has been making headlines again in an even grander fashion for his public misbehavior…” Should his fans, instead, rebuke Sheen? True, the act of watching Two and a Half Men despite Sheen’s off-screen antics may be seen as an act of complicity. But it isn’t. Sheen is simply an actor whose life is on public display. As far as I know he has never claimed to be a role model and we shouldn’t project that upon him.

Lately, though, it seems that as a culture we’re waiting for apologies. In my opinion Tiger Woods only needed to apologize to his family. His public act of contrition was disturbing, especially since it reeked of corporate political correctness. It’s a strange time we live in since, as a culture, we’re quick to make stars out of normal people only to revel in their demise. And with that celebrity we demand that they behave as role models. I frankly don’t believe in role models or heroes. I’ve known many true humanitarians in my life and most of them cringe when you admire their good work. I didn’t know Mother Teresa personally but I’m sure she’d prefer people to carry on with her work rather than build altars in her name.

In the end, neither Maradona nor Sheen owe us anything. Perhaps if we see them, and their ilk, as ordinary people with some talent then our disappointment wouldn’t sting so much.

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February 15, 2011 | | By Doris | Comments Off

your photo here