Babies on a Plane

Flying is something that as I get older, I enjoy doing less. When I was younger, it was cool to get peanuts, order a soda, and look out the window. Now I sit in my seat and try and take a nap so it can be over as fast as possible.

There are often things that make nap-taking a little difficult: a bumpy plane, a flight attendant that keeps waking you up, a noisy neighbor, a marching band rehearsing in the row behind you, and babies.

baby.jpg

You thought you were going to sleep? FOOL. 

The worst flight I ever had was going from Madrid to the U.S. for Christmas in 2013. For me, the flight was littered with awful characteristics: I had awful food poisoning from eating lomo (comes from a pig), the flight took 2 hours longer than expected, there was non-stop heavy turbulence for 6 hours of the flight, and there was a 6 month old baby next to me who did not stop crying. For. The. Whole. Flight.

Among all of these, what stands out the most? The baby. I can still hear that ear-piercing scream. At least I didn’t lose my hearing.

Now before anyone gets angry, please know that I completely understand flying with babies is a tough thing to do and definitely 1000X more so as a parent. The babies are in a new location. They are uncomfortable. It can be loud and stuffy. The complimentary “Clowns and Chainsaw Act” can be scary. Although a plethora of websites offer advice, I’m not sure there’s any perfect formula to flying with a young child in an uncomfortable location…until now.

Below are some of my patent pending ideas to help parents fly with babies. Some of these techniques I have witnessed personally which makes them even more astonishing.

Take a look and decide which could be the best one for you!

The Stowaway Option

On a flight from China to Australia, I witnessed the following technique.

abraham

No, not this you sick person. 

A family of three were on the row with me: a grandmother, the father, and the baby. The baby began crying when they walked on the plane and didn’t stop.  Usually, when a baby cries the parents/grandparents/caretaker/The Undertaker try and be calm, soothing the baby back to a more tranquil state. Babies can sense stress and angst, hence the “baby see, baby do” attempt. What you shouldn’t do, however, is immediately start an argument with your family member on how to deal with the situation. This, of course, made the baby cry even louder and harder. Finally, after about 4 hours of “attempted soothing”, the two gave up and put the child UNDER THE SEAT LIKE A CARRY-ON. Now, this would make sense if…actually it really wouldn’t. The crazy thing was the father had a small bag under the seat which he removed, placed on the armrest between him and the grandmother, and substituted the baby under the seat in front of him. In his defense, he was following airline regulations when they ask you to put the smallest of your carry-on items under the seat in front of you.

The best part about this was a flight attendant came by and said something to them I didn’t understand, but I can probably guess was something along the lines of, “Have you tried not treating your baby like a purse or yelling at each other?”

I am surprised he never kicked the baby, but he left his child under the seat for the next half hour while he tried to watch Guardians of the Galaxy.

Did this work at all? Hell no.

Baby Crying Defense Points: 0/10

Creativity: 5/10

 

The 3-Worder

This is another instance I witnessed live, although I didn’t see it. This was one you didn’t have to see, you just had to be listening.

On a recent flight from Boston to Portugal, a baby began crying right after the plane took-off. I get it, you’re leaving the land of freedom for a country that recently had of a dictator. It was more of a whimper (like the I’m tired cry or the I’m hungry cry I’m sure so many parents are used to), but you could tell it may burst over into a full crying session soon. The mother, witnessing the countdown to nuclear explosion, simply said “Just shut up!”

You might want to reprimand the mother for using such harsh language with the baby, but the crazy thing was it worked immediately! There was some nervous laughter, but no one bothered her about it at all.

Now,  it’s possible the woman could speak fluent baby babble and head the the baby say something sassy to her.

“Those shoes with that top? Ugh, Barbara.”

“I told you that you should have reserved our seats before we got on the plane.”

“How do you say callate in English?”

Baby Crying Defense Points: 10/10

Creativity: 1/10

The Up and Over Option

Did you ever used to go to summer camp and play those games where you would have to pass something, like a water balloon or the severed head of the camp counselor, over your head in a relay race?

aragorn

Or something similar.

That’s the same idea here but it also requires a little (a lot of) lying. If you don’t think you can lie then this one is definitely not for you. Unless you lie about your ability to lie, so while people think you’re not lying you’re actually lying because you lied about being bad at lying.

What you have to do is simply start passing the baby over your head to the person behind you, while saying “I think the mother/father/responsible guardian/bouncy castle is back there, just keep passing”.

As soon as you do this, it’s important that you turn around and fall asleep immediately, because then the other passenger would feel bad about waking you up. If the passenger takes the hint, they will continue to pass the baby back until it is in someone else’s hands. Or you can say something that’ll really throw them off, like “I didn’t think they let dogs out of their cages” or “If we do this in 30 seconds we all get a free beverage”.

However, there is a chance that the baby will become confused or scared due to all the movement and commotion. But you’re willing to risk anything, right?

Baby Crying Defense Points: 2/10

Creativity: 7.5/10

The Rookie Option

Anyone that’s ever hung around with small children can easily relate to the following scenario: You’re both in a room, playing with different toys. The child assign toys to each person and you’re stuck with the dinosaur toy with the broken tail whom you would like to name Rusty but the child has already informed you that NO, the dinosaur’s name will be Taily because of his lack of tail. You try to point out that that doesn’t make sense, because that’s like naming a legless person “Usain Bolt”. But you’re mature, and you let it go.

After about a minute of playing, the child has decided that whatever toys they have are boring and they want your toy. And the only reason they want it is because you have it. Even when confronted with this option, the child will just respond with “well it’s mine anyway”.

Why not apply this to babies on planes? I’m not talking about them choosing your in-flight movie or God-forbid, playing with your phone. Let’s go big or go home: let them fly the freaking plane.

Flight-Plane-Upside-Down

Really, what could go wrong?

What better way to distract them than giving them the biggest toy around? The whole plane can be theirs! Sure, you may not make it to your preferred destination…but look at the bright spots:

  • No crying anymore. Even if the baby is crying, you won’t be able to hear it.
  • Who knows what buttons will be pressed? Maybe they’ll press the one to give you free alcohol?
  • You’ll get to chill with the real captain and swap some war stories or something cool.
  • You can double high five people now that you have both hands available.

I will admit, there are a few cons:

  • Unpredictability, you might be seeing those ever elusive oxygen masks (but could be a good way to unlock an achievement).
  • Stalling out.
  • If you have a weak stomach, this may not be for you.
  • With reinforced cockpits, getting to your baby may get slightly more difficult.
  • Death amidst a fiery explosion.

Baby Crying Defense Points: 8/10

Creativity: 10/10

The Iron Maiden Option

You all remember the movie Matilda, right? Remember this device (go to 2:40 mark) that was in Ms. Trunchbull’s office?

“But Jake,” you cry, “where would I get an Iron Maiden?”

“Certainly not from the medieval times,” I’d reply, “it was a hoax of a torture device. But! You do have the bathroom.”

KA-POW.

This is one that I’ve seen happen a few times and it really worked. A man took his baby with him to the bathroom and essentially locked himself in there for four hours. I give props to this guy because he was already more miserable than the rest of us and then made it even worse for himself.

No shiny daggers or horrible devices needed here folks.

Baby Crying Defense Points: 10/10

Creativity: 5/10

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Mascot Fight-Final Part

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Rules:

  • The competition will be a fight to the death. Imagine a gladiator like battle.
  • Losses will be replenished in the next round.
  • Obviously, I will be using the format of the regular tournament.
  • Teams will be 5 on 5.
  • The playing field will be a place where both competitors can fight each other. For example, a Commodore (Vanderbilt) is a naval officer, so obviously they would need a place with water to fight. Like a sink.
  • If a mascot is rather ambiguous (like the Mountaineers from West Virginia), then the actual mascot will determine who will fight. A mountaineer could be a Sherpa, a man living in the mountains, someone who likes climbing mountains, etc. But I would use the following as the contestant:
  • Common knowledge, common sense, historical references, research, and a Ouija Board will be used to help me determine who will win.

Elite Eight

(5) Iowa State Cyclones VS. (10) Oklahoma State Cowboys

Unfortunately, the Cowboys have never seen anything like a Cyclone. In fact, the closest they have seen is a tumbleweed going a little bit too fast out in the west. The Cyclones use the wind and the Cowboys end up shooting themselves. All of their lass words are “What in tarnation?”

(12) Princeton Tigers VS. (11) Xavier Musketeers

The Musketeers, having used their expert marksmanship, lay waste to the Tigers who are riding high after their upset victory over the Commodores. The Tigers don’t even approach the firing squad and lose horribly.

(9) Seton Hall Pirates VS. (15) Northern Kentucky Norse

The Pirates are confident in their victory over an opponent that doesn’t have any firearms and break out the rum just a tad early. There is much partying and swashbuckling, but also a general worry about what they’re going to do in the next round versus the Cyclones. They get caught “looking ahead”, and are completely surprised when the Norse end up on their boats. The Pirates are no match for the brave warriors in close quarters combat and lose all five men while the Norse only lose one. Could they be this year’s Cinderella?

(5) Virginia Cavaliers VS. (3) Baylor Bears

While the Bears have had success against the equine foes in the past, they have yet to face these foes with expert soldiers on top of them. The Cavaliers, borrowing Parthia’s “fire and retreat tactic“, need a bit more time but wear down the Bears and take home the W.

Final Four

(5) Iowa State Cyclones VS. (15) Northern Kentucky Norse

Vegas is going crazy as people are betting the Cyclones to wipe the floor with their Norse enemies. The Norse themselves looks scared as they are not sure how to go about fighting wind. The buzzer sounds and as if toying with them, pick up one Norse foe and hurl him into oblivion. But then, heavy(ier) rain sets and a ship is seen coming from the ocean. What’s that? It’s the Norse god Freyr riding on his ship, the Skidbladnir! The referees aren’t sure what to do with direct intervention, but best not to upset a god hellbent on seeing his team reach the finals. Freyr casts the Cyclones away and gives the Norse swords the ability to stab the Cyclones. It’s perhaps the most amazing upset of the tournament, the Norse advance!

freyr

Who dares disturb my sweet rave?

(5) Virginia Cavaliers VS. (11) Xavier Musketeers

Cavaliers are kind of Musketeers on horseback. This semifinal cannot live up to the other one, and the Musketeers meet their end.

National Championship

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Northern Kentucky Norse

The stage is finally set and the Cavaliers are quite fearful of what another Norse god could go in the situation. But then, a special note from the committee that says “from here on out, all divine interventions are strictly prohibited”. Amazingly, this rule was not conveyed before the tournament started. This frightens the Norse as they were counting on some kind of intervention from some god, but now they are not going to get one. Sad!

As seen in the previous rounds, the combination of a well trained soldier, gunpowder, and a horse is a tough combo to beat (unless it’s that new chicken chalupa from Taco Bell).

But the Cavaliers  have  never seen the Norse before! Such brave men, battle-hardened, ready to fight whatever comes their way. They are inspired by the faith their gods have shown in them. The leader gives a rousing speech. “This is where we fight and win and stuff!” he says as his comrades bang their shields and swords together. “Let us take the mascot crown, for Odin!”

And with that they shout and charge the Cavaliers. They are running faster than they ever have before; arms are pumping and legs and churning, pushing them towards their combatants. The crowd gets behind these Nordic men and begin cheering as they inch closer and closer, grass and mud being kicked up by their shoes.

Then they are subsequently shot by the Cavaliers who don’t even break a sweat. Remember, technology usually wins.

Congratulations to the Cavaliers! Champions of the Mascot Fight!

cavalier.jpg

Now to celebrate by finagling my mustache.

Mascot Fight-Part 3

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Rules:

  • The competition will be a fight to the death. Imagine a gladiator like battle.
  • Losses will be replenished in the next round.
  • Obviously, I will be using the format of the regular tournament.
  • Teams will be 5 on 5.
  • The playing field will be a place where both competitors can fight each other. For example, a Commodore (Vanderbilt) is a naval officer, so obviously they would need a place with water to fight. Like a sink.
  • If a mascot is rather ambiguous (like the Mountaineers from West Virginia), then the actual mascot will determine who will fight. A mountaineer could be a Sherpa, a man living in the mountains, someone who likes climbing mountains, etc. But I would use the following as the contestant:
  • Common knowledge, common sense, historical references, research, and a Ouija Board will be used to help me determine who will win.

Midwest Region

(8) Miami Hurricanes VS. (5)  Iowa State Cyclones

This is the battle we’ve all been waiting for right? Two high-powered forces of nature blowing everything around (sicko). Well, much to my disappointment, these two are actually pretty much the same thing. The only difference is where they occur; hurricanes are occur in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific whereas cyclones pretty much stay in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. It’s like making breakfast in bed but two separate locations. Whenever I do it for my parents, it’s “oh, how sweet of you”. But when I try and do it for anyone else, it’s all “how the hell did you get in my house”.

eggs

But I made you eggs benedict!

OK, let’s try and break this tie. Which one has more power during March? Well they pretty much never happen in March. I didn’t want to go to who has killed more people or who has caused the most damage, that just seems sad. So I decided to go by which one was “stronger” during the most recent chart I could find…and it was the Cyclones!

(11) URI Rams VS. (10) Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowboys enter this match much more wary after nearly getting demolished by Gamecocks last time. They execute a perfect fire-and-reload scheme to push back the Rams before defeating them easily.

West Region

(9) Vanderbilt Commodores VS. (12) Princeton Tigers

On paper, it may seem like the Commodores would come out on top, but their bickering over who is responsible for reloading and firing the cannons may be catching up with them.

However, tigers are pretty decent swimmers and according to the video the Australian zoo man (who isn’t talking about kangaroos? why would he do that?)

Anyway, we already know that Tigers are also excellent climbers and they use this to climb aboard the Commodores’ ship and creep in. Once the Commodores realize what’s happening, it’s far too late. The Commodores manage to take down one Tiger, but are eliminated from the tournament. Think about this scene, but with Tigers.

(11) Xavier Musketeers VS. (7) Saint Mary’s Gaels

The Gaels, despite their muscles and lame name, fall victim to gunpowder after dealing with animal foes in the first few rounds. No one cares that they lose.

South Region

(9) Seton Hall Pirates VS. (13) Winthrop Eagles

The Pirates get another easy matchup versus some Eagles. Pirates take this one without losing a man. Break out the rum!

 

(3) UCLA Bruins VS. (15) Northern Kentucky Norse

Bears have a long history in the Nordic region, and the Norse are no strangers to them. Bears were often hunted and their furs were worn to keep people warm.

The Bruins and the Norse charge at each other and seeing their brethren draped across the Norse arms, become enraged and fight harder! The Norse, however, are prepared for this attack and meet the bears head on. The Norse are used to fighting bears and are able to slowly fight them back one by one. Summoning the strength of Thor, the Norse beat the Bruins back. Seeing as the Bruins come from Southern California, they have grown weak through the amount of surfing and yoga they have done. Have you ever though about someone from the beaches of SoCal and thought, “man, that’s a tough person”. Probably not, and thus the Bruins are a representation of their region and thus fall victim to the stronger Norse men.

East Region

(1) Villanova Wildcats vs. (5) Virginia Cavaliers 

The Wildcats just can’t handle trained soldiers riding around on horses. They are surrounded and easily beaten.

(3) Baylor Bears VS. (2) Duke Blue Devils

The guns of WWI were largely single shot rifles with a small cartridge, a far cry from the list of boom-boom guns we currently have today. Bears are pretty hard to kill with just rifles and require a lot more energy. Holding up to tradition, a random French soldiers charges headfirst into a tree where he is impaled by a sharp branch. The Blue Devils are able to take down one Bear before being mauled to death by the rest. Is this plausible? Maybe. Is this me taking out some frustration after the 2010 Elite Eight? Possibly.

Mascot Fight-Part 2

If you want to read part 1, click here.

Here are the rules:

  • The competition will be a fight to the death. Imagine a gladiator like battle.
  • Losses will be replenished in the next round.
  • Obviously, I will be using the format of the regular tournament.
  • Teams will be 5 on 5.
  • The playing field will be a place where both competitors can fight each other. For example, a Commodore (Vanderbilt) is a naval officer, so obviously they would need a place with water to fight. Like a sink.
  • If a mascot is rather ambiguous (like the Mountaineers from West Virginia), then the actual mascot will determine who will fight. A mountaineer could be a Sherpa, a man living in the mountains, someone who likes climbing mountains, etc. But I would use the following as the contestant:
  • Common knowledge, common sense, historical references, research, and a Ouija Board will be used to help me determine who will win.

 

Midwest Region

(16) UC Davis Mustangs VS. (8) Miami Hurricanes

It’s a battle of nature vs. nature in this second round matchup. Too bad these wild horses stand no chance against a might hurricane.

(5)  Iowa State Cyclones VS. (13) Vermont Catamounts

*see above* *replace horses with cats* *replace hurricane with cyclone* *replace matchup with peanut butter explosion extravaganza*

(11) URI Rams VS. (14) Iona Gaels

Finally, an interesting competition in the Midwest Region. As stated in Part 1, the Iona Gael looks like a granola weekend hiker with a walking stick. However, this granola man has some nature smarts (opposite of street smarts and a great name idea for an organic candy…never mind). The Rams come out charging and are met head on with the walking sticks. After some initial tussle, 3 out of 5 Gaels lose their walking sticks and are forced to fight with their hands. The Gaels take an early lead as the leftover walking stick duo take out one Ram, but the rest isn’t going so well. The three non-walking stick granolas are pushed over and rammed (pun unintentionally intended) to death. The remaining Rams finish off the other two Gaels and advance.

(10) Oklahoma State Cowboys VS. (15) Jacksonville St. Gamecocks

Gamecocks, being involved in illegal games, are used to illegal things: gambling, jaywalking, expired coupon using, and illegal use of firearms. The Cowboys get cocky and assume their gunfire will scare off the Gamecocks. This is not so. The Gamecocks were raised on the STREETS and they used to use gunfire as a nighttime LULLABY. They gang rush one Cowboy and peck him in the eyes, rendering him useless. One Cowboy freaks out and runs away, cursing the birds. The three remaining Cowboys are able to gun down two Gamecocks and in their reloading time, one is taken down. Three Gamecocks versus two Cowboys are all that remain. The faster loading Cowboy takes out a Gamecock but is crushed by the other two. In his last moment alive, one Cowboy shoots one Gamecock, leaving one all alone on the battlefield. The Gamecocks have won! But then, BANG, a shot rings out and the Gamecock lies defeated. It’s the now eyeless Cowboy! There was a reason he was called Big Ears Echolocation Terry!

Thankskilling

I am well aware this is a turkey, but it’s more enjoyable to imagine the Gamecocks looking like this. 

West Region

(1) Gonzaga Bulldogs VS. (9) Vanderbilt Commodores

Once again, the only loss the Commodores suffer is time while bickering as they blow the Bulldogs to smithereens.

(12) Princeton Tigers VS. (4) West Virginia Mountaineers

The Mountaineers, after disposing of their Bison foes, face a much tougher opponent. Tigers, unless something has gone horribly wrong at a zoo, have never been found on the American continent.  This presents a challenge for our forest friends as two of them are taken out quickly. Using their knowledge of the forest, they are able to scale a tree to gain the upper ground and pick off one or two tigers. But reloading those old muskets takes some time. The Tigers, using their great climbing ability, are able to pull off the upset and demolish these Mountaineers.

(11) Xavier Musketeers VS. (3) FSU Seminoles

Letting history decide, I will choose the Musketeers.

(7) Saint Mary’s Gaels VS. (2) Arizona Wildcats

GAELS make a return, but can they advance? These Gaels are noticeably more muscular than the last ones. Think like a cartoon Thor in real life. Going up against Wildcats should be no problem for these guys. They take a few losses but do enough to advance.

South Region

(16) Texas Southern Tigers VS. (9) Seton Hall Pirates

The Pirates laugh and tell pirate jokes as they blast the tigers to smithereens.

(12) MTSU Raiders VS. (13) Winthrop Eagles

Sticking with the Raiders them, the Raiders must ascend to the Eagle’s home base and try and destroy them. Well, Eagles like to build their nests in quite high places, the Raiders must climb up to meet them. Unfortunately for them, they are not the best climbers and many fall while trying to reach the Eagles. The Eagles don’t even move as Raider after Raider falls to the ground.

Falling

But I didn’t even get to pillageeeeee……..

(11) Wake Forest Demon Deacons VS. (3) UCLA Bruins

The Demon Deacons, fresh off of their first round win, use the same bravado and gusto, charging right into the Bruins. But you see, Bruins don’t care about your feelings and history. They are very non-discriminatory. The Bruins easily ride the tournament of these Demon Deacons.

(10) Wichita State Shockers VS. (15) Northern Kentucky Norse

The Norse have never seen machines like the Shockers have but no matter. You had never seen that 1.5 foot burrito before but you ate it anyway, fatty. The Shockers charge forward on their combine harvesters, but the Norse use the power of Odin and jump over the great machines into the cockpit! Each Norse takes out a sword and stabs his opponent in the chest, a remarkably quick defeat for the Shockers. The Norse celebrate by spreading beard oil on one another.

East Region

(1) Villanova Wildcats VS. (9) Virginia Tech Hokies

The supercharged, coked-out Hokies expend all their energy into running to the Wildcats, where they are defeated easily.

(5) Virginia Cavaliers VS. (13) ETSU Buccaneers

This could be, by far, the most interesting fight we’ve had so far. Buccaneers, essentially pirates who have their ears pierced for a buck an ear, come in with pistols, swords, bad breath, and a taste for gold. The cavaliers bring honor, swords, guns, and most importantly: cavalry. The extra mobility of the horses gives the Cavaliers a distinct advantage as they are able to run circles around the Buccaneers. The Bucs, still hung over from yesterday’s victory, have trouble focusing on their enemy and do more harm than good to themselves. They all roll critical misses and end up hurting themselves in the confusion. The Cavaliers advance!

(6) SMU Mustangs VS. (3) Baylor Bears

I was going to do actual research into this, but as soon as I saw this clip, I made up my mind.

Horsehead

If you didn’t watch the clip, this photo should give you an idea of what happens. 

(10) Marquette Golden Eagles VS. (2) Duke Blue Devils

The Blue Devils, having knowledge of guns, coming from a wilderness area, and having survived a war, make quick work of the Eagles. The Blue Devils lose one man due to mustard gas poisoning. There is no reason for this.

Mascot Fight-March Madness 2017 Part 1

March Madness, in my opinion, is one of the best times of the year. For 3 weeks, there seems to be seemingly unlimited college basketball as 68 teams compete and fight for the championship.

The 68 teams whittle their way down to just two until that one special team can have their “one shining moment”.

But what if the competition strayed away from the hardwood? What if instead of having these great players (minus professional dickhead Grayson Allen) shoot hoops, we had the actual mascots fight each other?

I bring to you the first annual Mascot Fight, competing teams’ mascots against each other in a battle to the death.

Here are the rules:

  • As stated above, the competition will be a fight to the death. Imagine a gladiator like battle.
  • Losses will be replenished in the next round.
  • Obviously, I will be using the format of the regular tournament.
  • Teams will be 5 on 5.
  • The playing field will be a place where both competitors can fight each other. For example, a Commodore (Vanderbilt) is a naval officer, so obviously they would need a place with water to fight. Like a sink.
  • If a mascot is rather ambiguous (like the Mountaineers from West Virginia), then the actual mascot will determine who will fight. A mountaineer could be a Sherpa, a man living in the mountains, someone who likes climbing mountains, etc. But I would use the following as the contestant:

Mountaineer

  • Common knowledge, common sense, historical references, research, and a Ouija Board will be used to help me determine who will win.

Let the madness begin!

Midwest Region

(1) Kansas Jayhawks VS. (16) UC Davis Mustangs

So the Jayhawk isn’t actually a bird, but a fake combination of  blue jay and a sparrow hawk. These birds are tiny and will kill themselves trying to run into a mustang.

(8) Miami Hurricanes VS. (9) Michigan State Spartans

Spartans are great: they kick people into wells, inspire movies, and used to uh, do stuff, but unfortunately they’re no match for a hurricane.

(5)  Iowa State Cyclones VS. (12) Nevada Wolf Pack

The Wolf Pack howl to intimidate the cyclones who just pick them up and toss them. Natural selection or whatever.

(4) Purdue Boilermakers VS. (13) Vermont Catamounts

A boilermaker is one of the following: anyone who works in the boiler construction, a member of a boilermakers group, or a shot and a beer mixed together. For comedic purposes, let’s assume it’s a shot and a beer going against a “medium size cat”. This YouTube video explains my decision.

(6) Creighton Bluejays VS. (11) URI Rams

Small bird versus ram…ram.

(3) Oregon Ducks VS. (14) Iona Gaels

Why is Gael such a popular name? This Gael looks much less intimidating than the previous one.

iona

I’ll walk you to death with my walking stick.

Also, some of those ducks can be downright nasty. This one is closer than we think with the Gaels losing a man and winning, but they’re all bloodied. Make a death saving throw!

(7) Michigan Wolverines VS. (10) Oklahoma State Cowboys

In all of his books, Jack Reacher gets into a fight. One thing he mentions a few times is “body size matters in a fight, sometimes the bigger guy will just win” (sorry Goliath). The same principle here applies with GUNS. The wolverines bite off some toes but go down quick.

pete.jpg

Bang, bang y’all.

(2) Louisville Cardinals VS. (15) Jacksonville St. Gamecocks

Some weak, small bird versus one trained to fight. Easy.

West Region

(1) Gonzaga Bulldogs VS. (16) South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Dogs versus rabbits, I’ll take the dogs.

(8) Northwestern Wildcats VS. (9) Vanderbilt Commodores

The Commodores sit in their ships and launch cannonball after cannonball at the helpless wildcats. The only loss is time as the naval officers bicker over who will reload the cannon. Then they get drunk.

(5) Notre Dame Irishmen VS. (12) Princeton Tigers

Speaking of drunk…these endangered animals easily come in and thrash the Irishmen who confuse their opponents for carnival rides.

(4) West Virginia Mountaineers VS. (13) Bucknell Bison

I think mountaineers make a living off of handling animals like this…even taming them. Easy W for the Mountaineers.

(6) Maryland Terrapins VS. (11) Xavier Musketeers

Guns versus slow moving turtle. Self-explanatory.

(3) FSU Seminoles VS. (14) FGCU Eagles

Seminoles were good hunters and could easily catch these birds. Although I don’t think they would kill them, but would train them to do their bidding mwhahaha.

(7) Saint Mary’s Gaels VS. (10) VCU Rams

This would be a doozy of a matchup. The Gael is kind of ambiguous, but going by what their game mascot looks like, his pecs will match up well against the fearsome horns of the ram. This would be a constant pushing and shoving match, but I’ll take these Thor-like Gaels to eventually triumph over their four-legged foes. Gaels lose 1 man in the battle.

(2) Arizona Wildcats VS. (15) Fighting Hawks

While hawks are cool, they’re pretty small. Give me the Wildcats.

South Region

(1) UNC Tarheels VS. (16) Texas Southern Tigers

A Tarheel, like our Hokie friends, is someone who is very devoted to their institution. The name actually comes from the Civil War because the soldiers were loyal like “they had tar stuck on their heels”. How often were people walking through tar back then? I guess a lot. It’s like the phrase “I know it like the back of my hand”. Do you really know the back of your hand all that well? I sure don’t.

Anyway, Tigers take this one.

(8) Arkansas Razorbacks VS. (9) Seton Hall Pirates

Much like the Commodores battle, the Pirates laugh their way to victory as they blast to victory from the safety of their cannons. One pirate death happens when someone is accidentally stabbed through the stomach with a sword.

(5) Minnesota Gophers VS. (12) MTSU Raiders

A raider is someone who comes and marauds someone else’s territory, taking with them their belongings. This one is an interesting challenge because the Raiders have to go underground to get the gophers, where they’re in their natural habitat. The Raiders, however, end up taking the W.

(4) Butler Bulldogs VS. (13) Winthrop Eagles

Picking the Eagles just made sense. They have sharp talons and can do damage easily.

(6) Cincinnati Bearcats VS. (11) Wake Forest Demon Deacons

I couldn’t really find what a Demon Deacon was. The story is super bizarre but entertaining nonetheless. Let’s just assume that in an attempt to impress their elders (church joke), the deacons rage comes out on the Bearcats and they pull off the upset.

(3) UCLA Bruins VS. (14) Kent State Golden Eagles

The Bruins are just too strong for the eagles. They can’t do much against a bigger and stronger opponent.That may be the closest I’ve come to sounding like an actual basketball analyst.

(7) Dayton Flyers VS. (10) Wichita State Shockers

These names are about as random as they come. A flyer, best of my research, is someone who flies. Um, great. A shocker is someone who harvests wheat. Seriously. So we have 5 men on each side, one that can fly and the other that harvests wheat. In a battle of land vs. air, the Flyers swoop down in an attempt to catch the Shockers off guard, trying to drag them out of their combine harvesters. The Flyers pick up one and drop him in a gluten-free factory, where he dies instantly. The Shockers though, with their quick reflexes, are able to stab the fliers out of the sky. It comes down to one Flyer vs. one Shocker and the Shocker takes a leap of faith, throwing a pitchfork through his heart. The Shockers advance!

(2) Kentucky Wildcats VS. (15) Northern Kentucky Norse

I’m so sick of Wildcats. These Norse men easily defeat them.

East Region

(1) Villanova Wildcats VS. (16) Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers

The Mt. St. Mary’s Mountaineer is just a guy wearing a coon-skin hat and a trucker outfit. This means that he essentially gets little exercise and is used to sitting down all day. Wildcats rip them up without losing a single cat.

(8) Wisconsin Badgers VS. (9) Virginia Tech Hokies

If you’re like me, you misheard Hokie when playing NCAA Football 2005 and thought the announcer was saying “hoagie”.

hoagie

FEAR ME!

Why would a university name their team after a sandwich? Turns out, a Hokie isn’t much better, because it’s just a person really passionate about Virginia Tech. Let’s assume they’re coked out, hyped VT bros going against badgers, not honey badgers, but regular badgers. The Hokies lose a man or two but easily wipe out their competition.

(5) Virginia Cavaliers VS. (12) UNC Wilmington Seahawks

Seahawks (AKA Ospreys) are 3 pound birds. Cavaliers are cavalry men that use swords and guns. Easy.

(4) Florida Gators VS. (13) ETSU Buccaneers

Initially, this looks difficult. But the buccaneers are used to fighting in water and have superior weapons. The gators take down two before they’re finished off.

(6) SMU Mustangs VS. (11) USC Trojans

Trojans have a bad history with horses. These bad memories freak them out and 4 of them run away in fear.

(3) Baylor Bears VS. (14) New Mexico State Aggies

Aggies are farmers essentially, and since they’re in Gary “Mr. Weed” Johnson’s states, they’re way too high to do anything. They get mauled and the bears eat their remains.

(7) South Carolina Gamecocks VS. (10) Marquette Golden Eagles

A gamecock is a rooster bred for cockfighting. Although illegal in all 50 states and DC, South Carolina thought it would be a good idea to honor this tradition. Other potential names were South Carolina Drug Mules, South Carolina Bestiality, and South Carolina Child Laborers.

They’re going against a bird that, albeit in pairs, is able to kill WOLVES. FREAKING WOLVES. Golden Eagles FTW.

(2) Duke Blue Devils VS. (15) Troy Trojans

I guess Troy drank the same stupid juice that the Texans did and came runner-up for the worst name in sports.

Blue Devils is almost as bad once I read the story. Duke is not saying they are blue “devils” per se, because that would be kind of weird. The name Blue Devils comes from a group of French soldiers in WWI. These soldiers came from the Alps and were “counted upon to break the stalemate of French warfare”. Oh cool, so if they have a cool nickname and have a school in North Carolina bearing their likeness, they must have done something significant right? No, they failed and were known for being “courageous”. But they did initially train the US Marines.

But seeing as Duke took their name based off the WWI version, I can only assume they often ran straight into machine gun fire with little to show. Good thing that their opponents have nothing but spears and shields. The Blue Devils lose a man on stupidity but win this round.

 

The first round is over! Come back later to see the rest of the bracket.

 

What An Experience! The Not-so-easy part of Getting a Masters Abroad

People generally reacted with two different statements when I told them I was going over to Spain to get a Master’s:

“Wow, what an experience that will be. You’ll get to travel a lot! Enjoy it, these moments only come once in a life.”

“Tell me how their tacos compare to Mexico.”

As much as I wish to say the second statement is false, it is not. But those of you reading this, do not get mad, Spain just does not export its culture extremely well and the closest thing we have to Latino culture is Mexico, where tacos grow on trees and are picked up by the wind and dumped all over the United States to our pleasure.

The first statement, however, was much more common. They were right to say so, it was going to be a great experience, a once in a lifetime thing. I do not plan on getting another Master’s anytime soon. The part that most people had in mind, was this:

erasmus_party

Sideways thumb guy must be having just an OK time.

That’s what a lot of study abroad experiences are like. Many U.S. programs go four days a week, students take less hours, go on vacation a lot, experience the culture, and don’t do a lot of studying. The semester I studied in Rome was very much like this: not a lot of projects, not a ton of studying (relative to my university), a lot of traveling, and partying. Ask any student who has done the Erasmus Program and they will tell you the exact same thing, that they were there just to have fun. My semester in Rome was by far by easiest semester in college, maybe besides my senior year where I was taking super challenging classes like Intro to Karate and only taking 4 classes.

Most people imagined my going abroad to be “study abroad 2.0”. I don’t slight them for that, but the year was far from this situation. It wasn’t nearly as easy, not even in the same atmosphere.

But how did it compare? This is something I found myself doing a lot, comparing my two university experiences. First, I would say each American university is different, depending on a number of things: professors, majors, outside commitments, and if they are any attractive people in class that may distract you.  Another question I was often asked, “Was it easier? I’ve heard overseas universities are easier than the ones here.”

The first question, “Was it easier?” is both easy and difficult to answer because the answer is both yes and no. I wish it was that easy to answer.

The Application Process

screaming

Actual photo of me captured in 2015.

Applying for anything, besides free cookies, is awful and soul-sucking. Applying for jobs and schools is the soul-suckiest of them all. Fill out all this information, do it again, put contacts, find people to write rec letters, put this number, go through this survey, create a password, forget the password, throw computer out the window, pay for damages to your neighbor’s car, etc.

The application process to my university here went much smoother than to any of the American counterparts. I didn’t have to fill out 17,000 forms, it took about 30 minutes. I then received a brochure with the basic information and was told I would be contacted at the end of March to receive a login code and upload necessary documents.

March rolls around into April and I’ve heard nothing, so I write the department asking for my login information and promptly received the “we’re so glad you’re interested” email. I freaked. I had already paid the deposit and gone through a number of steps. After telling them who I was, I was then greeted by “Who are you?”

After some clarification, it was resolved. Then…came the worst part. By my count, I had submitted my degree to the same portal/email address 6 times, my CV 3 times, a translated version of my transcript 4 times, and my signed bank information twice. I still have the email thread and I can go back and count all of the times I did this.

This was a huge difference, the administration, while so nice and answered a million emails, was insanely disorganized during this process. Eventually, however, everything was sorted out (but now to get my official Master’s degree, I have to submit these documents…again…to the same university)

The Schoolwork

Advancing from freshman to my senior year of college, the school work both got easier and more difficult at the same time. I didn’t do much studying in high school and still pulled out a B+ average, but that definitely was not going to work in college. I studied a lot and had my worst semester grade wise. The classes, in retrospect, weren’t too difficult but the work was challenging. As time progressed, I learned to study, manage my time, take better notes, talk to the professor, and cheat (I am KIDDING). The most challenging year was my junior year, but my grades were the best, because I had learned how to do all of the above things.

The same principle applied to this Master, but the work itself was surprisingly…different. For one class, I was required to read a book and write a book report. I had to double check the assignment to make sure I wasn’t supposed to do anything else, but no, the assignment was to write a 5 page summary and brief analysis of the book.

This was something I had not done since I was 12 years old, having been told by our teachers that those were too easy to write and did not advance our writing. So I was absolutely shocked when I got to do this. For that same class we had to design a theater of an historical event, something I hadn’t done since I was about 17. It was a lot of fun, but I was very shocked to see it in a Master’s program.

There were other similar instances, where the entire grade of the class was based on a 7 minute presentation or writing an 8 page essay. So yes, the school work itself was easier as a whole, but…

The Work Load

This, dear readers, is where I was really up poop creek without a paddle. If you read my last blog (which I know you have all perused 455 times), you would know my Master’s was a one year program. This meant about nine classes each semester, which seems insane, which is insane, and which was insane. Every class seemed to be in love with group work as well, and coordinating between six group projects at once would drive even the sanest of men crazy. It was also slightly demoralizing because you never felt like you were truly done. You would finish one project or paper, then have three more due within the next two weeks.

The work load was by far the hardest part of this Master’s. Coordinating, making schedules, bouncing around all the different WhatsApp groups were a daily routine. Which in a way was a good thing, because of the whole “it’ll prepare you for life” thing.

And this part was true. This year has already presented a number of challenges, but the number of times I’ve thought “well, at least I’m not neck deep in group work” is somewhere between 15 and 25.

Summary

I’ve been thinking about this part for awhile, and I think the work was easier because of three reasons.

Reason number (5 x 5)/25-It simply was. As I mentioned before, I hadn’t done a book report in about 15 years, never expected to do a play, and the longest essay I had to write was 8 pages.

Reason number (144/72)-Practice makes perfect. I had gone through four years of high school and four years of college. Doing one more year of writing and projects was challenging and stressful, but maybe not difficult because it’s something I had been doing for the last 8 years. Gathering sources, putting it on paper, editing, etc. was no fun, but just like anything you do a lot, you get better at it.

Reason number (3 x 3 x 3 x 3)/27-A one year program where you’re taking 18 different classes isn’t supposed to be so hard that it kills you. Thinking back on it, I believe this was a large idea of the program. If every class asked you for an insane project, then you would either: die or try to burn the university down. There had to be some give and take.

However, the chance to study abroad with classmates from all around the world in a subject such as International Relations? It was a great experience and something I wouldn’t change at all.

Saving Dinero: Getting a Master’s Overseas

Getting a Master’s was something I had always wanted to do, but just never seemed to find the right fit. I applied for three different programs at three different universities (or group of universities) in three different states in three different years and was either rejected or not given the scholarship I wanted to attend whichever school. Basically, I was the Taylor Swift of applying to grad schools.

twsift

Look at all those poor souls: Hairiest One Style, Maggie’s Brother Gyllenhaal, and Teenage Wolf Turd.

Suddenly…I had the idea to look overseas. The latest post-graduate studies that peaked my interest was International Relations/Affairs/Studies/Fight the Nazis and I started to think “What would be the best place to study an “international” degree?” You guessed it: the Red Spot on Jupiter.

No, it would be some place international of course! So after some Googling (that’s literally all I did) I happened upon Universidad CEU San Pablo, a private university in Madrid, Spain, which had a program that attracted my interest.

To make a long story short: I done graduated, learned stuff, and here I am; ready to plunge myself back into the ever enjoyable real-world of job hunting and dark unknown.

There were multiple reasons I decided to study in Spain, those of which I hope to cover in a later blog, but the one I want to focus on now(mainly because it’s been on of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked). How much did it cost? What did it run you? How much cheese did ya spend? What was the damage?  How much cheaper was it than American Universities assuming Bernie’s dream of free college and waffles never becomes a reality?

Things to be excluded in the calculations: “play money”, travel expenses, books, cost of basic life necessities (food, toiletries, etc.) These were just too difficult to calculate, especially when one country’s currency was different. For currency conversions, I used the median average (roughly August 2015-now) of 1.10 euros to dollars in my calculations. 

So…Spain

My program, unlike most U.S. programs, was only one year which was both great and terrible at the same time. Imagine trying to stuff yourself into a child’s car seat in the backseat of a 2-door sedan. You can do it, but it’s going to be super uncomfortable and there won’t be room for much else.

First thing I noticed was the lack of extra costs and fees while studying in Spain. There were no lab fees, specific course fees, meal fees, athletic fees, or octopus farm fees. There was simply the tuition and registration fee/deposit. The deposit was unique because it would be counted as part of your overall tuition. Which was cool, I guess. The registration fee was 790€ or $869 but that also holds one’s place unlike your dickhead friend Todd who always takes your chair because “you never said ‘seat check’ bro”.

fratbro

I wonder how hard it is to sit with a water bottle in your back pocket.

After getting past this fee, you had to start making the tuition payments. My tuition total was 7281€ or $8,009, the same exact thing as buying 8009 things off of the McDonald’s Dollar Menu for those of you that like visual comparisons.

The only other expense I want to compare is living expenses, what I paid in rent. While some colleges offer on-campus living even for grad students, I wanted to live off-campus in my own apartment where I would be reprimanded by the police and not some RA stiff if I was pwning noobz too loud and often on Xbox Live, disturbing my neighbors. My apartment rent was 430€ or $473 per month, considered expensive for Madrid, but I wanted to be close to work and school. I lived there 11 months, so the total was $5,203.

Saving you the math, mainly because math is dumb, that’s a grand total of $8,878 for a Master’s degree and $5,203 for living.

Total Spent: $14,081

The In-State Option

While researching other articles it gave me the feeling of going back to school. I had to stop after a while because it just brought back horrible memories of emailing people, filling out forms, and answering a thousand questions of where I was going to school, essentially school purgatory. I’m sure something like that is in Dante’s epic, he must have understood the struggle.

The program I found was the International Affairs program at Middle Tennessee State University, something that looked interesting and I considered.

For in-state residents, MTSU is an attractive place. They only charge $443 per credit hour and the program itself was 36 hours. It was recommended that students do 9 hours per semester, meaning this program would take 4 semesters to complete unlike my one year program. The tuition cost over two years would be $15,948. Each semester also has a $630 program fee, bringing the total cost to $18,468.

Since MTSU is close enough to my house, I would be able to live at home with the parents (assuming they let me), thus incurring minimum charges for rent. It would also mean I would get the wonderful privilege of driving through Nashville traffic every day, which is about as fun as being punched every morning by Mike Tyson as your alarm clock. I would, however, be responsible for helping out with food, roughly $250 a semester or around $1000 in total. Let’s add it up!

Total Spent: $19,468

The Out-of-State Option

There were just so many choices for this option, since there are roughly 49 states (New Jersey really isn’t a state as much as it is a garbage dump) to choose from and hundreds of universities thereafter. I ended up settling on the University of Georgia’s Master of Political Science and International Affairs degree, since it was far from home but not too  far from home. Just to mention, their website are awful. It took me forever to find any kind of relevant information, exactly what an incoming student would like to deal with.

This program was a minimum 30 hours but you had to write a thesis which was an extra six, so I don’t understand why they just didn’t tell you it was 36 hours. Whatever.

Let’s get to the numbers. Being an out of stater, I expected the credit hour to go up and it did…a lot.

Being from anywhere outside the state of Georgia means you’d be paying $1,004 per credit hour. That’s roughly 2 and a half PlayStation 4s. So for the 36 hours and two years of study, one would be paying $36,144 for tuition alone. Adding insult to injury, there were $1,129 of yearly additional fees (athletic, administrative and whatever the hell a green fee is) that students were required to pay. Tacking that on with tuition, that’s $38,402.

Athens is a little far to drive from home but with a quick look at the apartment website, it has numerous options around $300 for one room in  a 2-bedroom. Which isn’t too bad considering the housing market we’re in now, signing your first-born over and all. Add that up over two years, and that puts on $7,200 in rent costs.

Total Spent: $45,602

The Private University Option

Wait! Don’t throw your computer out your window. You still have to binge watch all those episodes of that one show.

I decided to check out my alma mater Baylor University which has increased in price roughly 2309498234890890908X since I went there.

I chose the Master’s Program of Political Science, also a two-year, 36 hour program.

Skipping right along to the credit per hour, your jaw will bounce off your keyboard when you see that it’s $1,583 per credit hour, making this Master’s a whopping $56,968 for your time there. With $900 of fees per semester, that makes the total cost of school related things $60,568.

The city of Waco, assuming you’re not trying to be on the Fixer-Upper, is a very cheap city, among the country’s least expensive (but one of the higher murder rates shhh).

Living in my old apartment complex, which has also increased its rates, you can get a bedroom in a 2-bedroom apartment for $450, making you pay $10,800 over your two years.

Total Spent: $71,368

The “I Bathe in Gold” Option

For those of us that wake up every day, surrounded by servants and eat gold flakes with your sandwiches, this option is for you.

I found a program that’s not really that interesting to me, but for someone who likes money, why not learn how to make more of it? That’s why I chose Yale’s International and Development Economics program which makes me want to gauge my eyes out just reading it, but thank goodness I’m wearing sunglasses while writing this.

The program is not really two years but it’s basically two years but since you make enough money to build a house with (the actual cash, not paying someone to build a house), you’ll do it. It’s more or less 36 hours and it’s not clear if you have to write a thesis, but these professors, I’m sure, are familiar with what a bribe is just in case you don’t want to do it.

Yale does not charge by credit hour, but instead charges by the full year. You’ll be doling out $39,800 just for one year of studies. Two years will take about $79,600 out of your bank account.

Yale is also nice enough to put estimated living costs and fees wrapped into one. I took out travel fees to make it fair, but these will run you an $20,831 per year. For two years that’s $41,662.

Total Spent: $121,262

Summary

Here’s a nice table for you to compare the damages:

University Name Total Cost Amount Difference
Universidad CEU San Pablo $14,081 N/A
Middle Tennessee State University $19,468 $5,387
University of Georgia $45,602 $31,521
Baylor University $71,368 $57,287
Yale University $121,262 $107,181

As you can see, overseas options are much cheaper. This does not mean you should immediately start swimming towards Europe or wherever, but I just wanted to present this to anyone who might have been curious. Happy (potential) studying!