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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

How to eat for free

The great thing about living near a research university is that at any given hour during the day there is likely a seminar taking place. Quite often, these are excruciatingly boring, and the organizers of these events will attempt to increase attendence by offering free food before or after the talk. The beauty of this system is that anyone who looks remotely like someone in the field can simply show up, pretend to be interested in whatever topic is being discussed, and walk out with a full stomach. With some practice and attention to detail, you can practically eat a free meal everyday five days a week. To help you get there, let me take you through a hypothetical free-meal scenario.

Suppose the imaginary Faculty of Ukranian Kitchen Cabinetry (the FUKC) is hosting a talk by the equally fictional, but world renowned cabinet maker Vieshslav Kobachenkovich. Now in the cabinet making city of Kiev, the mere mention of Dr. Kobachekovich is enough to incite riots at the local Ticketmastervich. But alas, here in Toronto very few people have heard of this maestro and even among the devoted researchers of the FUKC, turnout for the talk is expected to be low without proper enticement. So, the organizer Dr. Bribervich decides to offer some perogies and borsch at the end of the talk.

Now, suppose you are a graduate student in some random department who just happens to hear about this talk through one of 20 mailing lists you subscribe to for the sole purpose of being informed when free food stimulating academic discussions are taking place. You should immediately go online and do a cursory search for some background information on Ukranian Kitchen Cabinetry. Once you have a vague idea of what it's all about, decide what it is you're interested in and maybe read an extra article on that to further buttress your knowledge of your newly acquired field of expertise. In this case, you may have read that the hottest area of research lately has been in the sub-field of bronze door handles that resemble the shape of Czar Nikolas IV's uncle Boris's head. This is your cover story. You, my friend, are now an expert on Borisian Brass Handles. Stand up straight. You are now ready to go to the talk for your well-deserved meal.

At the talk, remember to keep a low profile. Should anyone ask you about your particular area of research, don't feel pressured to spill everything you know--because you know very little and people will be on to you very quickly. Instead, be vague, and use lots of hand gestures. And if anyone asks you about something you don't know, respond by saying, "You know, Mike, I really think we are moving away from ______ and entering the post-______mic era (where ______ is what he just asked you about). Really, we shouldn't devote so much of our time on this legacy research. Don't you think so?" 9 times out of 10, he will think you know more than him, and walk away, leaving you to enjoy your perogies.

Next time you're hungry and on campus, give it a try. You might even like it.

Your Favorite Jerk


At Thursday, May 19, 2005 12:23:00 AM, Anonymous kalam said...

yo man - you kill me bro - I can't stop laughing. You the man. Aights - I'll ttyl man - peace out

At Thursday, May 19, 2005 4:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmm... that's still a bit too much research just to get free food. Chinese wedding banquets are easier to get into and* the only reading up that will be required is the names of bride and groom; easy stuff since it will already be posted up at the restaurant's front doors. When questioned during any time of the free meal, smthg simple like...mmm... "Oh. I'm am Chan/Wong/Lee tai's/xian sheng's son/daughter" will be enough to throw off the suspicious and prying.

At Thursday, May 19, 2005 11:58:00 AM, Blogger Reformed Jerk said...

d~, you and I were both at that infamously boring one last year. Come on, let's be honest here. I'd rather sit through three lectures on the mechanics of paint desiccation than listen to people go up and tell stories with neither plot nor ending. Even with a dessert bar :-p

At Thursday, May 19, 2005 10:37:00 PM, Blogger Flami said...

I know it was an example, but there were only two Czars named Nikolas... because the last one got shot by a firing squad. I should really lend you my book on the subject when I see you next! ;)


At Thursday, May 19, 2005 11:12:00 PM, Blogger Reformed Jerk said...

No thanks on the books, flami. I was cheering for the Bolsheviks :p

At Tuesday, May 31, 2005 2:09:00 PM, Blogger Flami said...

Fair enough, then! :P


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