Reasons Why I Don’t Have Time to Write a Blog by Chloe Khayat

1. I have supplementals due for 4 schools by November 1st (I must describe unique experiences that will help me contribute to the schools’ communities and somehow set me apart from thousands of other applicants)
2. I don’t have any of said supplementals finished (procrastination is of my weaknesses)
3. I have to take my car to get an oil change (I can’t procrastinate this any longer because my engine could fail)
4. I have to edit my college essay (again I must write about something that’s never been written about before and do it like a modern Shakespeare)
5. I have to apply to college!! (this is the main reason and the cause of many other things on this list)
6. I have to check on my neighbor’s cat (I don’t necessarily mind this; she’s a cute cat)
7. I have a lot of homework (this included)
8. I need time to sleep (I’m barely functioning, and I need sleep to have the energy to do these things)

9. I have to clean my room (this isn’t a must

10. #5 again

The super critical and 100% serious review of Mike Flannagan’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Praslin Arth

Over the years I have watched MANY horror films and shows, but out of all of them, the “flanaverse” has been my favorite. “Flanaverse” is just another silly name Netflix uses to categorize Mike Flanagan’s work and I can proudly say I have watched them all (or at least all the ones on Netflix). Some notable examples would be The Haunting of Bly Manor, Gerald’s Game, and The Haunting of Hill House. Each of which I’ve rewatched around 8 times.

His newest installment, The Fall of The House of Usher, was released earlier this October containing 8 hour-long episodes. If you’re as determined as I was, the show can be finished in a reasonable 2 days (some procrastination of other work is required). The show is based on different tales and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Each episode is named after a different story. Different characters, such as Annabel Lee, are based on Poe’s poems. The plot and incorporation of these stories into a modernized version was quite simply phenomenal and Flannagan was able to tie 8 very different stories into one cohesive plot line.

This is not the first time Flanagan has done something like this, a few years ago with A Haunting of Bly Manor each episode was based on a story by Henry James. Flanagan’s storytelling, unique take on classic stories, and cinematography are all very good reasons to draw an audience back, but with every new work, I am most excited by the cast.

Flanagan has used the same actors and actresses from past projects and seeing them play totally different characters is one of my favorite things. One actress who’s almost always there is Carla Gugino and watching her go from a sweet old storyteller in Bly Manor to a full-blown supernatural villain in this was quite the surprise. Even more shocking Henry Thomas, who’s been in almost all of Flanagan’s work, had a man Bun! All in all, this show was an incredible watch and along with most of Mike Flanagan’s work, it will soon be revisited.

Aywaaaaaaa- Nolwenn Chemali

In the Summer of 2021, I visited my family in Lebanon. It was another day in the heat, and we wanted to pay homage to the harbor of Beruit that exploded the previous year. We were five cousins in a third-world country, and we certainly did not want to drive on the windy roads of hell.

As we entered the taxi, we overestimated the amount of room there would be in the back of the car. All laughing, four of us squeezed in the back while the fifth, lucky one, enjoyed the leg room in the front. In the back, it was me, my brother, and two of my cousins. It was hot. Very, very hot. I could feel my clothes sticking to my skin. Why did I wear jeans? I have no idea. Anyways, we were shoulder to shoulder in the back, wishing someone would roll down the windows.

During the car ride from the mountains to the harbor, we began conversing with the taxi driver, whose name we quickly learned was Tony. I’m unsure how this happened, but one thing led to another, and we were blessed with sweet serenades.

Tony began to sing in Arabic. It was just jarring. I think it may have been the highlight of my trip. There we were, smushed between the doors of a tiny car, dripping in sweat, listening to the childhood songs of an Arabic taxi driver. How much better could it have gotten? The best part was that we were all cracking up laughing, trying to be as silent as possible. The four of us in the back ended up being the lucky ones because our laughs were more concealed than my cousin in the front. It was truly incredible. Also, thank god for masks and sunglasses. The only way Tony could have known we were laughing was if he heard our silenced squeaks from the back. Judging by the volume he was singing at, I think we were off the hook.

This is a story my family and I will always remember and bring up. It made me realize that even during the most mournful times- in this case, it was the state of the country- there is always a way to find laughter and joy. It makes me laugh again, thinking that Tony taught me that. I wonder where he is now. I wish him the absolute best.


Breaking the Ice by Addison Weingart

Job interviews, corporate get-togethers, and first days of class all have one thing in common. Ice breakers. But all of them are so boring. I literally can’t count how many times I have heard “What’s your favorite ice cream?” So, in order to combat the growing problem of basic icebreakers I have begun to collect a diverse set of questions to get the conversation rolling. Break the social ice with some of my favorite questions, answers included.

In a zombie apocalypse, where would you hide? What would you bring with you?

Costco. Easy win. Costco literally has everything you need to survive. Nearly endless amount of food, water, and necessities. Also, have you seen the house set-ups? I could sleep in a different bed every night. I would be able to exercise on stationary or moving bikes, listen to almost any album, and watch TV. I could wash my clothes, and brush my teeth. Anything you could possibly want is there at Costco. I would most likely bring my dog if possible. My family too, but always assume the worst. I would also bring my headphones, but no worries if I forgot because Costco sells those too.

What potatoes are you most like? How are you prepared? Are you fries? Do you have toppings?

This one might actually be my favorite. there are so many options; fried, baked, broiled, mashed. Personally, I am B-spot fries. Thin and long, fried to perfection and covered with a mix of rosemary, salt, and something special I wish I knew. B-spot, a restaurant in town, actually closed a long time ago, but I will never forget those fries.

if you could only have one condiment or sauce, what would it be and why?

Buffalo sauce. The basic answer is ketchup, but if I am being honest, I don’t like it that much. I rarely use condiments at all. My only regret is salads. I would have chosen caesar dressing, or something similar, but realistically, I could eat a salad with nothing on top, but sauceless wings are unforgivable.

If you could watch one movie for the first time, which one? Book? plot twist. Every time I rewatch it, I enjoy This question took a lot of thought. I want to feel the things I did the first time watching Dead Poets Society, or Up. However, I still get teary-eyed, so I must pick Now You See Me. No spoilers, but Now You See Me is about a group of Robinhood-esque magicians. After paying attention the entire time, I still didn’t see the plot twist. Every time I watch it, I understand it quicker and laugh louder.

Use these next time you are stuck in an intro class, or at a coworker’s birthday party.

Before writing this, these ice-breakers remained in my brain. But as I was writing, I found it difficult to remember all of the icebreakers I love, so I created a growing list. Some are deeper, others more light-hearted. Some lengthier, others short and sweet.

Advice From a Former Exchange Student by Evelyn Rossman

One thing that I tend to mention frequently is the fact that I was an exchange student in Germany. During the second semester of my junior year, I lived in a small German town called Goslar. There, I lived with a host family and went to a school taught completely in German. I had taken six years of classroom German, but that seemed like nothing once I was dropped into a room full of fluent speakers. It was difficult, lonely, and terrible at times, but it was also the best experience I’ve ever had. I would recommend a foreign exchange to just about anybody, so I figured it would be best for me to give some advice to anyone considering a semester/year abroad in a foreign country.

Speak the language from Day 1– It can be very easy to become intimidated when speaking a foreign language, especially if you’re surrounded by people who speak it fluently. You may even be afraid of offending those around you with your pronunciation or grammar, as I was. You must push through this fear, though, because it is the only way to improve. I suggest that you start speaking the language as soon as you arrive, even if it’s just a phrase or a few sentences. This will show the people around you that you are dedicated to learning the language, and it will help you push through the mental barrier.

Be honest with your host family– I’m a big people pleaser, so this one was difficult for me, but if you’re living with strangers for a long period of time, you have to establish honesty from the very beginning. These are the people that you are going to live with, and you have to learn how to deal with each other’s quirks. Ask them immediately what their house rules are, and make sure to tell them to be honest if there is something that you are doing in their household that they don’t appreciate. This will make everything run much more smoothly.

Reach out to your classmates- No matter what your situation is, making new friends is difficult. But as an exchange student in a school where everyone speaks a different language, putting yourself out there is even more vital. It can be hard to show people your personality when there’s a language barrier between you, so you have to try your best to make a strong first impression, and to continue working on the connections that you’re making. It will be more difficult than making friends in your hometown, but the friendships that blossom from this effort are totally worth it.

Try everything– Whether it’s a sport, club, or just a birthday party, you have to be open to everything, even if it’s not your normal thing. Personally, I’m not into big social gatherings, but as an exchange student, I knew that the only way to get to know people was to go to parties. I even surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it, and I made some great memories!

Focus on self-care– Being an exchange student means being under constant stress. Between the regular exhaustion of high school, learning a foreign language, being away from home, and trying to make friends, it’s not surprising that exchange students are constantly exhausted. The most important thing to keep in mind during your exchange is to be there for yourself. Take lots of breaks when you need them, and be kind to yourself. You’re going to be consistently pushed out of your comfort zone, and you’ll make lots of mistakes. The best way to get through this is with constant kindness and love for yourself.

Canine Safety Manual by Meredith Stevenson

(My dog Bruno)

Most people who feed their dog table scraps have probably found themselves googling if the food is safe for dogs. This is a list of the nine most dangerous foods for dogs, though other human foods can be bad for dogs.

-Onions, garlic, and leeks are from a group of plants called alliums, all of which are toxic to dogs and cats. Alliums contain toxins called disulphides and thiosulfinates which can damage red blood cells, causing anemia.

-Though enticing, chocolate contains both caffeine and a chemical called theobromine. These are both from the methylxanthine family: chemicals that dogs cannot metabolize as well as humans. While all types of chocolates can be toxic for dogs, the amount of methylxanthine varies within each type.

-Macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin that can affect your dog’s muscles and nervous system resulting in weakness, swollen limbs and panting.

-Unlike chocolate, corn on the cob doesn’t contain toxins that are dangerous to dogs. The problem here is that dogs cannot digest the cob itself which can lead to a blockage in their intestines.

-Avocado plants contain a substance called Persin which is in its leaves, fruit and seed and can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

-Things like gum, low-fat, diet and sugar-free products are often laced with an artificial sweetener called Xylitol. If your dog digests it, they can be sent into hypoglycemia which is linked to liver failure and blood clotting disorders.

-Alcohol has a huge impact on dogs even in small doses. Dogs cannot metabolize alcohol, so beverages, foods, or household products containing different forms of alcohol are unhealthy and can be toxic. Alcohol can cause lethargy, respiratory depression, and dangerously low body temperature in dogs.

-Regular and cooked bones can splinter into shards. So if your dog eats one, they might choke on the tiny pieces. These pieces can cause serious damage to the dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines.

-Eating grapes or raisins can result in sudden kidney failure and even death. The toxic substance in grapes is unknown, but dogs cannot metabolize the tannins, flavonoids, and monosaccharides in grapes either.

Take it from me, a person who left a pack of gum out and whose dog completely devoured it. Because I wasn’t aware of the negative effects that occur when a dog ingests gum, I suffered the consequences the next day on our morning walk. Bruno (my dog) wants me and others to be informed on what foods dogs can and can’t have.

Stop Getting William James Wrong!!!! by Ezra Ellenbogen

William James is America’s Pragmatist [1] par excellence and the father of American Psychology. He’s quoted again and again in every other monograph on bookstore shelves, and yet, he is misunderstood by so many people. 


Where he is the most misunderstood is his view on the meaning of truth. Consider the following few examples of how people like to summarize the Pragmatic theory of truth:

  1. “That what is true is what is useful to you, or beneficial for you.” (Cedric Chin)
  2. “For pragmatism, a belief is ‘true’ if its consequences are pleasant.” (Bertrand Russell)
  3. “It is a frequently  repeated observation of pragmatists … [that] the true … is ‘the satisfactory.’” (A.O. Lovejoy)


These are all wrong. 


The association of truth in Pragmatism with sentimental evaluative norms like good, pleasant, or satisfactory comes from the peculiar choices in wording that James preferred to use, as well as a very common misreading of his paper The Will to Believe. James was born into a family of writers, so it’s no wonder he used metaphors more often than not to describe his theories (i.e. the meaning of a term is its “cash-value”). However, the real meaning behind these turns of phrases can be gleaned from the larger works of which they are a part. So, what exactly is William James’ theory of truth, then?


Simply, truth is what works. But what this means is that when we call a statement true, we are saying it aligns with (i.e. explains and predicts) our experience, past and present. This allows us to escape the metaphysical implications of the correspondence theory [2] while also avoiding the subjectivism of the coherence theory [3]. The criterion is vague, and purposefully so, since the Pragmatic theory of truth recognizes, as deflationists [4] about truth have made so clear, that the function of truth is contextual. 


That is a very brief explanation of the typical Pragmatic stance à la James. It is the archetypal base of what people refer to as the Pragmatic theory of truth, which is a fair generalization because most Pragmatists in the canon accept something along these lines. However, James himself held an additional stance on the ethics of truth that people construe as being part of his definition of truth, and therefore the standard definition of truth in the Pragmatist canon as a whole. This is, in my opinion, the main source of the confusion. 


This stance is expressed in James’ seminal paper, The Will to Believe. James’ thesis in the paper is that, under very specific kinds of circumstances, we may have a right to personally believe something to be true without following rigid standards of evidence. Given the following standards, we have a right to choose our belief, not based on an empirical measure, but on a practical standard for our own well-being:

  1. The choice between beliefs is unavoidable
  2. There is a similar or equal amount of evidence backing up both claims 
  3. We could genuinely believe either belief 
  4. There are important stakes in the choice between the beliefs
  5. The adoption of one of the beliefs would positively change our course of action


For example, if a mountain climber is doubtful about whether they could make it to the summit and survive, a practical choice of truth will help their motivation and therefore their capability to succeed. That is to say, believing some things can make them more likely to become true. Or, for a more high-school example, if you’re unsure if someone likes you because of mixed signals, compelling yourself to believe they do will help your confidence and may therefore build the truth of the belief (this is an example James actually uses, believe it or not). These examples help show that James’ argument doesn’t make people believe dangerous things and actually can be beneficial to people’s lives. Plus, on a descriptive level, it is what most people choose to do anyway. 


This doesn’t mean we can believe whatever we want, whenever we want – contra the common interpretation. It should also be noted that, even if you find James’ The Will to Believe too extreme, it was radical in large part because it was written primarily as a response to a previous essay by William Clifford, which offered stringent and absolutist standards for truth that were unrealistic for how people actually think. 


In conclusion, stop getting William James wrong. He’s not some crazy relativist, just a crazy Pragmatist. 


[1]: Pragmatism: A philosophical tradition started by C.S. Peirce that, broadly speaking, identifies the meaning of concepts with their practical imports

[2]: Correspondence Theory: The theory that truth consists in the correspondence between a proposition and the world

[3]: Coherence Theory: The theory that truth consists in the coherence of a belief with your previously held beliefs and/or a specified set of propositions

[4]: Deflationism about Truth: The theory that truth has no definition. That is to say that when we say a sentence S is true, we are not saying anything additional about S than if we just asserted S

Hadestown, En Español by Sam Juli

It’s no secret that I love Hadestown. The Vermont-based theater act-turned-concept album-turned-Broadway musical is kind of my favorite thing, and I’m not even going to try to convince you that it should be yours too, because I’m sure it already is. If you haven’t, just listen to it, okay? Come back when you’re done. 

Good. Now that you’ve seen it live and listened to the studio album, as well as the original concept and live performance albums, I’m sure there’s only one question on your mind: what does Hadestown sound like in Spanish? 

Well, look no further than the Amalgama Comedía Musícal 2021 production of “Underground.” It’s not called El Pueblo de Hades, but trust me, it’s Hadestown. 

The way this musical is translated is beyond interesting. En la versión original en inglés, there are three characters called The Fates. They wear the same outfit, sing and dance in the same haunting style, and never appear without the others. Pero en la versión en español, they are called La Fates. This directly translates to ‘The Fates,’ so this really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but articles in Spanish are marked for number. ‘La’ is singular and ‘las’ is plural, even though they both mean ‘the.’ So by translating ‘the’ as ‘la’ instead of ‘las,’ the people behind Spanish Hadestown give the audience new insight into the character (not characters!) that is the Fates. They’re not multiple people! The Fates are a single entity. 

Another little quirk de la traducción that really struck me takes place during Why We Build the Wall, una canción in which Hades leads the less-than-alive population of Hadestown in an ode to the system that oppresses them (It’s really great stuff, please listen to Hadestown). In the English version, Hades and his “children,” as he calls his undead workforce, sing that their goal in building the wall that surrounds Hadestown is to keep out poverty. But the Spanish version is even more on the nose. Hades, el Rey de Sombras, canta que el pobre es su enemigo. Not just poverty! He literally uses the words “the poor.” This choice to translate ‘poverty’ into ‘the poor’ really highlights Hades’ social Darwinism, making him a more actively cruel figure than en la versión en inglés. Also in Why We Build the Wall, the English version uses the line “the wall keeps out the enemy” pero la versión en español dice “la pared de él nos la defienden.” Literally, “his wall defends us.” La versión en español es más activo, while the English version sounds more passive in comparison. The Spanish lyrics imply an attacker to defend against, which strengthens Hades’ isolationist rhetoric. 

It sounds wrong, but I think that Hadestown’s bootleg translation might actually be better than the original! English really has no way to express the subtleties of Hadestown in the same way that Spanish does. To call the Fates ‘the Fate’ feels wrong and creates cognitive dissonance for an English-speaking audience, who would be hit with a singular while viewing three distinct actors. And to use the words ‘the poor’ rather than ‘poverty,’ or ‘keeps out’ instead of ‘defends’ would destroy the rhythm of the song they’re in. But in Spanish, these are non-issues. Seeing the Spanish version, it makes me wonder why Hadestown wasn’t written in Spanish in the first place!

By this point, I’m sure you’re clamoring for Spanish Hadestown, but I can’t just go around handing it out! If anyone wants the link to the video, meet me behind the writing center at midnight and say “I missed ya” in your most gravelly voice. If it’s good enough (and I’m actually awake), Spanish Hadestown will be yours! Y recuerda: es una tragedia, pero la cantamos sin embargo.

AAAAAAAAAHHHHH by Rafael Bonilha Van’t Hof

I’m applying to college and oh boy, is it so epic and cool and I hate it. Last year I was the only junior in my writing center period and everybody else was applying to college. It was very interesting to see and hear all the panic constantly happening around me. Even when I thought that it would be over they were still applying, the second half of the year they were filling out applications for honors programs and financial aid. I thought I would have a leg up when it came time for me to apply but as it turned out I was wrong.

The one thing that people last year didn’t talk about was how the common app works. Nobody told me about all the questions I would have to fill out or what goes on in the activities tab. The activities tab simply asks what we do outside of school. They give some categories and then let you figure it out. They only allow 10 activities on the list and 150 character descriptions. Figuring that out is so cool and fun and definitely awesome. I had a lovely time figuring out what was even going on. After I figured that out, I learned that the colleges that I’m applying to also have a few questions to ask me :).

After that, I learned something even funnier: despite that only 2 of the colleges I was applying to declared that I needed to do supplemental essays, all of the colleges I was applying to had them. There is this funny thing that colleges do where they hide their supplementals in the questions tab and make it look like there is less work you need to do for them :). I was not happy when I found this out.

Something else that I don’t remember the interns talking about much was the application costs. Most colleges would like a small fee of $50-$85 for the chance of getting into their institute and having to pay them thousands more. I don’t know why these places need that money when I will be giving them a lot more once I go there. Maybe they want to get money from the people that they aren’t going to let in. I know it isn’t as bad as it could be but I still don’t want to have any more expenses added to my checklist.

I also didn’t get exposed to the trifle that was being around people who are also applying. Every class I go to, everybody is freaking about. We get free time and people pull up common app and their essays and freak it. People are handing around their essays to get them looked at by as many people as possible, people are talking about what they are planning on doing, people still have no idea what counts as an activity.

It is nice to have a way out of Shaker but I really wish it was a little simpler. With all this going on there is only one thing to say: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Pet Semetary: Haunt of the Blaszak Family Pets

I’ve grown up with a variety of pets, ranging from hermit crabs and hamsters to simply cats and dogs. I’ve never lived a second of my life without a furry buddy, but after 17 years, I’ve experienced the deaths of a lot of these pets.  Fortunately, their deaths make me laugh, not cry. Here are a couple that I find most interesting:

Chewy the Gluttonous Hamster: Chewy was originally identified as a male. He lived with us for 2 weeks, until he turned into she and gave birth to 9 babies. Chewy loved these babies, loved her cage, and LOVED food, hence the name. She loved eating so much that she happened to eat 3 of her children. This sadly led to her demise. During a 2 week trip to France, Chewy was left to our neighbors and grew so fat that she got stuck behind her hamster wheel. Chewy could not get out from behind the hamster wheel. So Chewy starved and died behind said hamster wheel. RIP

Pete the Stinky Rabbit: Pete was and will be the chillest rabbit. He resided in my bathroom for a solid amount of time but we decided he would be best in our garage. Now don’t worry, Pete had heat to keep him warm during the cold Cleveland winters, and he could frolic in our backyard during the hot summer days. Sadly, Pete’s death was depressing, he started to seize and run into the walls while my sister was bawling, and all I wanted to do was go sledding. That winter, the ground was frozen solid, so the usual ritual of burying our dead pets had to be delayed. It was delayed 2.5 years. Pete’s dead body stayed in our freezer during this time and he awaited my sister’s return from college so he could be buried in the summer. His funeral was beautiful. I played Taps on my trumpet, and my sister made a slideshow of his life. RIP

Geronimo the Hunter: Now Geronimo is not dead, but he hunts. This cat is unable to live indoors for more than 24 hours. He constantly wants to go outside. This leads to copious amounts of animals he captures and brings into our house. Geronimo, more than once, brought a live bird into our house. And more than once, I had to try to capture it in a small shoe box. It is close to impossible to achieve. Not only does Geronimo like birds, but he loves rabbits. Let me preface that I am a lover of all animals, and seeing my cat eat a dead rabbit under my desk makes it hard to be one. I spent the whole night cleaning blood out of my carpet crying my eyes out. Geronimo, you are one of my favorite pets but all of these other animals did not deserve to die. RIP

All of these stories have happened, and I now can laugh because it’s been many years. I AM empathetic towards my pets and I DO hate the deaths of the pets I have loved but these stories have aged like fine wine making them very enjoyable to share.