Tuesday, June 30, 2009

#31: Cell Phones with Internet

Four years ago, a transformation occurred in the dorms at Notre Dame.  Wired, land based phone and internet connections were replaced by cell phone boosters and WiFi networks that brought even the oldest dorms into the modern era.  With this modernization, Notre Dame Students (like many of their peers around the country) have quickly embraced the technological advances of the past five years and become overly reliant upon cell phones with internet connections.

While these phones are not yet completely ubiquitous, Notre Dame Students have spent the past several years working up their thumb strength to the point where they can take full advantage of the BlackBerrys and iPhones of the world.  Older phones that can merely make calls and deliver text messages are rapidly becoming obsolete on campus.

Cell phones with internet are becoming a fixture at Notre Dame not only because of all the urgent e-mails that Notre Dame Students receive*, but also because of the incredible usefulness that they have.  Notre Dame Students can now discretely do a plethora of things in class that they previously needed a laptop for.  Updating their facebook, reading Charlie Weis’s Twitter (see #18), reading football message boards (see #8), and receiving e-mails from Mike Brey are all things that Notre Dame Students find themselves doing while they are bored in class.

These phones become even more useful outside of the classroom.  Suppose two Notre Dame Students get into a debate at Finny’s regarding which African nation has the lowest per capita GDP; the one with the iPhone will easily be able to discover that, yes, Malawi is lower than Somalia by this metric (see #1).  Notre Dame Students can use these phones to answer any question no matter where they are, making them incredibly valuable.

However, the most important reason why Notre Dame Students like these phones is because they will prepare them for their inevitable post-graduate careers.  BlackBerrys are made for businesspeople and Notre Dame Students recognize that if they are going to become successful in business they need to master their ability to use quick thumbstrokes to send out urgent e-mails; an ability that all Notre Dame Students desire.  

*Urgent E-Mails include: Career Center Updates, The BEAT from Legends, New Stamp Deals at the Post Office, Reminders from the Warren Golf Course, Class Council Apparel Sales, and Bookstore “Deals”

Posted via normal computer, plugged into wall

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

#29: Telling people when they have an Organic Chemistry Exam

Of all the students and all of the majors at Notre Dame, the most notoriously neurotic are Pre-Meds, and throughout their four years preparing for med school, the most infamous class they must take is Organic Chemistry (commonly referred to as Orgo). 

While Pre-Med students famously bitch and moan about most of their coursework, their whining hits a remarkable high during their sophomore year when they take Orgo.  For an entire year, these students incessantly complain about how difficult the class is and how much studying they have to do for it.  By way of their complaints, these students make it known to the entire Notre Dame community how unrelenting the class is and when the class is giving upcoming exams. 

The level of whining wouldn’t be much of a problem for the rest of the student body if it wasn’t for the Orgo student’s insistence on telling everybody when they have an upcoming test.  An Orgo student would probably never know if their Political Science roommate had an upcoming exam, but this isn’t a two way street.  Days and even weeks before an Orgo test are marred by reminders that the test is coming.  Orgo students will continuously refuse to go out, or even eat meals with other students, and will make sure to use the upcoming Orgo test as their excuse.  

Orgo students mark their territory in the library, some sleep in study rooms; while others even make the crucial error of studying before football games in an attempt to be overly prepared.  The tension in the dorms on the night before an Orgo test is higher than any other night.  While Pre-Meds are tweaked out on Red Bull and RockStar drawing diagrams on whiteboards and spreading papers and textbooks around study rooms, their roommates and friends look for ways to avoid the madness for fear of causing bodily harm to themselves and others. 

Despite the fact that Pre-Meds spend an unnecessary amount of time preparing for Orgo exams, and make sure to let everybody know it; they perform remarkably poorly on said exams.  The students inevitably end up telling all their peers how difficult the class is, and how nobody does well on the tests.  A good percentage of these students take these poor tests as a sign and end up switching to a more reasonable major where students aren’t as psychotic, because as difficult as Pre-Med majors claim that Organic Chemistry is, one year later they will be making similarly apocalyptic claims as they study for the MCATs: a test that makes all students go crazy, even if they don’t take it. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

#28: Thinking Coors Light is Classy Beer

Before students turn the magical age of 21 that finally allows them to peruse the aisles of Belmont Beverages like it’s a toy store, they are at the mercy of upperclassmen to provide them with alcohol and sometimes even places to drink it.  Underclassmen usually find themselves at house parties with kegs or dorm parties featuring small trash cans full of beer that they will drink until the clock strikes two and everybody goes to Reckers (see #14).  This beer is almost always Keystone or Natural Light. 

Keystone and Natural Light are beers that are so abundant in the dorms that an outside observer would think they were brewed by Knute Rockne himself.  Mini-fridges from Carroll to Knott are filled to the brim with these beers that are too pitiful to be touched by Notre Dame Parents.  Notre Dame Underclassmen become so accustomed to the taste of Keystone and Natural that almost anything becomes an upgrade.

Because of this, beers such as Coors, Miller, and Bud light are seen by the Notre Dame Student to be good beers that are even classy enough to have baseball stadiums named after them.  A student that fills his mini-fridge with these fine beverages is making an investment in his drinking that most students just aren’t willing to undertake.  This student will watch his beverages carefully and make sure that others don’t take them because his investment is not meant to be stolen.

Other students who stick with the Natural and Keystone they buy from upperclassmen are shocked when they finally find themselves in the alcohol aisle at Meijer and not only realize that beer comes in bottles . . . but that the price between Keystone and Coors is nothing substantial (see #12).  These students are further shocked when they find themselves in the bars of South Bend and realize that (aside from that hell-hole on Michigan Street) beers of the Natural and Keystone brands are nowhere to be seen.  Pitchers at Finnegan’s, 32-Ouncers at The Backer, and endless glasses at Cheers [varsity] Lounge are all choice brands such as Coors, Miller, and Bud.   

Matters become worse when these students venture away from Notre Dame to visit other schools, go abroad, or even to enter the ‘real world’.  While bringing a case of Coors Light to a Notre Dame pregame might be seen as classy, it probably won’t be seen the same way anywhere else.  

Monday, June 15, 2009

#27: Spooning

Notre Dame Students love a good spoon, and not the kind that you can steal from the dining hall (see # 3).  The kind of spooning that Notre Dame Students like is described by Wikipedia.com, as “a cuddling position, a kind of hugging when both the hugger and the hugged persons face the same direction, i.e., the front of one person is in contact with the back of the second one.”

However, the spooning that Notre Dame Students partake in is so much more than this sterilized definition because it has another added element.  When Notre Dame Students spoon, it is beautiful. 

Spooning for Notre Dame Students is oftentimes an act that physically signifies their place in a long-term relationship (i.e. the ultimate goal of all Notre Dame Women) because what other stages of relationships are suitable for a good spooning?  A person would never attempt a spoon if they are partaking in a random hook-up (see #21).  Despite bromances being popular right now, they rarely move past the “sharing a large popcorn bucket at the matinee showing of The Hangover” stage of intimacy.  No, spooning is usually reserved for couples that have fully entrenched themselves in the joys of a long-term relationship.*

Furthermore, couples in long-term relationships like to demonstrate the beauty of their love to all of their friends by making their spoons highly noticeable.  In fact, many Notre Dame Relationships start eagerly with the “quad middle-room” spoon where the beauty of a long-term relationship is shared by a semi-public spoon.  The degree to which the spooners want to spread their love can be determined by what is going on in the room/apartment/house at the time of the spoon.  An example of the progression follows:

1)       Watching a Notre Dame Basketball game, room empty

2)   Roommates watching a crappy made-for-SciFi Channel Movie,

3)   During a popular television show watch (see #19), all seats taken

4)   In the middle of a weekend party, room full.

5)   During JPW, parents present

Regardless of wherever and whenever the spooning happens, Notre Dame Students enjoy its beauty and relentlessly participate in it (and apparently hold the world record in it).    

*Exception: The above picture, which evidently is the longest spoon train ever.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

#26: Either Loving or Hating The Backer

Of all the bars in South Bend, no bar divides Notre Dame Students more than the iconic Linebacker Lounge across the street from campus.  While most students equally enjoy bars such as Finnegan’s and Corby’s, Notre Dame Students cannot collectively agree about what to think about The Backer.  Some Students absolutely love it, while other students unapologetically loathe entering it.

For the students who love The Backer*, they have much evidence to cite.  The atmosphere is unparalleled in the South Bend bar scene.  Crammed wall-to-wall with an eclectic mix of students and locals, The Backer is full of patrons whose primary objective is to drink heavily and rock out to a raging musical selection.  This objective is promoted by the free drink tickets that patrons receive at the door, and the infamous Long Island Iced Teas that can light a fire inside the most lackadaisical of patrons.

These Backer-lovers never get tired eagerly anticipate their favorite songs each and every night they put on their Backer-shoes**.  Whether it be the iconic Amen Corner of Country Roads, Rocky Top, and Calling Baton Rouge, the requisite 80’s anthems such as Livin’ on a Prayer or Don’t Stop Believing, the newer pop songs like Love Story and My Life Would Suck Without You, or the climactic closing time triumvirate of God Bless the U.S.A, the Notre Dame Victory March, and Oh What a Night, Backer-lovers sing the night away and enjoy every last minute until the lights come on.  To Backer enthusiasts, the song selection is the stuff dreams are made of, and for the Student lovers, a night at The Backer is like the perfect dorm party on steroids (and is repeated every Friday and Saturday night).

However for this same reason, many Students also hate the Backer.  These Backer-haters can’t stand the task of making their way through a mob of sweat drenched patrons to get to bathrooms that are hellishly disgusting.  They can’t handle the standing liquid on the floor (about a half-inch deep of Backer-slop**) and are equally disgusted by the stripper pole in the middle of the dance floor.  These students are grossed out by the presence of local’s dance floor makeouts that rarely exist at Finnegan’s and long for a place where they can sit down and relax.  They hate the fact that they can’t talk to their friends, and usually do not appreciate the musical selections that prevent conversation.  Simply put, many Notre Dame Students are disgusted by The Backer for the same reasons that other students love it.  

Despite this, while other bars have closed down or changed locations, The Backer has endured the test of time.  Generations of Notre Dame Students have frequented it, and some students will continue to enjoy it.  Whether it is because of awesomeness or infamy The Backer has become a legendary bar that Notre Dame Students will continue to love and continue to hate for as long as it remains. 

*Editor’s note: for full disclosure, The Backer is my favorite bar of all the bars, and I cannot wait until the day (whenever it may be) that I make my glorious return to it.

**Regular patrons know that they ought to wear a pair of shoes they do not care about due to the Backer-slop on the floor.  Backer-slop is formed by mixing 5 parts beer, 3 parts sweat, 3 parts mud, 1 part vomit, and a dash of semen.  The mixing occurs when patrons dance incessantly through the ingredients that are on the floor.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

#25: Planning Things

Because Notre Dame Students were all considered ‘leaders’ in high school, they all became accustomed to being followed by their peers in whatever they did.  These students were also used to planning events for student groups, classes, and social activities.  At Notre Dame, planning things takes on an entirely new level as Notre Dame Students overly plan every activity they do.

These activities can range from the trivial (dinner at the dining hall) to the complicated (travelling in Europe over Spring Break) to the unnecessarily complicated (planning dorm parties).  No matter what the activity is, there are usually multiple students in the group that want to take up the mantle of leader and do more planning than would ever be necessary to properly plan the event. 

Oftentimes these activities have something to do with drinking (see #11) where students constantly feel the need to make complicated plans about what they are going to do.  Drinking plans become take on a life of their own due to conflicting pregames, overly complicated party themes, bar crawls, party playlists, finding rooms for dorm parties, money collection, and the mere task of deciding which bar to go to.

Planning events for Notre Dame Students has become an even more complicated task because of technology.  Even a low key night might involve scores of text messages, emails, and Facebook wall posts.  A party (whether it be in a dorm or off-campus) will certainly involve several meetings, multiple ‘epic-length’ emails, a money collection process, debate over playlist options, and almost certainly the creation of a Facebook event.  These parties will certainly be fun for those that attend, but there is an abnormally high amount of planning that goes into a bunch of college students getting drunk.

While football weekends and special events bring out some fairly elaborate plans, the most over-planned times of the year are the weeks at the end of each semester.  In the winter everybody and their roommate feel the need to throw some sort of Christmas themed event.  Usually this entails cheesy sweaters, egg nog, and peppermint schnapps, and sometimes these events even include caroling and Christmas movies.  Off-campus students especially must be prepared to attend between four and eight Christmas parties just because each and every house or apartment that their friends live in will need to plan a party of their own (despite the fact that each of these parties will be the same).

However, the most overly planned time of the year is the end of Spring Semester when everybody wants to throw their own ‘Last Party of the Year’.  This planning reaches its climax at the end of Senior Week when each and every senior needs to plan an event for their friends and family.  Because these Seniors know that tendency of Notre Dame Students to overly plan events, they are sure to get their event on the calendar early (possibly as early as January) so that all of their friends will commit to it before others events are planned.  This inevitably ends with Notre Dame Seniors shuffling their parents from event to event the nights before commencement just so all of their friends are happy (on the plus side, they get really drunk in the process).  

Monday, June 1, 2009

#24: Forming Small Circles

Whether at bars, parties, tailgates, classroom buildings or just hanging out in dorms, Notre Dame Students love to form small circles.  These small circles are critical to the Notre Dame social scene not only for their functional practicality, but also because of what their existence tells other people. 

While small circles can be seen almost anywhere, the most common place to see small circles is at bars.  The Backer, Finnegan’s, Fever, and Corby’s are all places where small circles are frequently seen.  Small circles are important at bars because they allow the Students to talk to each of their friends despite the loud songs, and also allow the students to more effectively sing the choruses of said loud songs as opposed to awkwardly standing alone.  Small circles are especially critical for certain songs, such as God Bless the USA and Piano Man, so that Students can put their arms around each other and sway to the music.

Small circles are also important for their ramifications on the Notre Dame social scene.  You can tell a lot about a person by what small circle they are a part of.  While Notre Dame Students are inherently uncool, you discover things about the crowd a person rolls with by looking at the members of their small circles.  Small circles are most readily formed by people who went abroad together, people that play in the marching band together, people who lived in dorms together, and people who served on student government committees together.  A Notre Dame Student will quickly know if they can join a small circle just by the people who are in it.      

Small circles are important to the Notre Dame social scene because they facilitate the notion of the group.  If a Notre Dame Student wants to enter into a long-term relationship with another Notre Dame Student, the obvious first step is to enter into a small circle with them.  The small circle is the first step in any good Notre Dame relationship, or even any Notre Dame friendship, and it should not be forgotten.

[Special Thanks to friends of the site Brad Blomstrom, Andrew Miller, Robert Ladd, and Matt Bono for their help in forming the pictured small circle]