Category: Living

Living at UIC: res halls (dorms), food, getting around campus.

Under Pressure, Overwhelmed, and Without a Plan: Making an Endless To-Do List Work for You.

I’ve been thinking recently about the colloquial phrase, “Putting things on the back burner,” a line commonly used when people are trying to prioritize and make sense of the seemingly endless list of tasks that lies in front of them. But it got me thinking, even on the biggest, heavy-duty, industrial stove there are only so many back burners. And even in the hypothetical case in which there are, in fact, an infinite number of burners, logic follows that too many pots on the stovetop will burn the kitchen right down.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “OK, really? Pots and stoves? What the hell is this guy talking about?” But bear with me for a second.

What I’m really talking about is being able to keep a cool head even when you’re completely overwhelmed by the million commitments and obligations weighing on you.

And though it may seem like I’m going off on another tangent, let me set up another analogy: any packed schedule is like a busy emergency room. In both cases the key is triage. From the French “triere” meaning to separate, sift, or select, the term refers to the process of prioritizing the issues at hand (in the case of the ER, literally prioritizing the patients) by certain criteria to ensure that the most pressing matters are taken care of first. So big deal, right? This doesn’t sound all that different from everything you’ve been told about time management before. But if you take it to the next level, it really does make some sense.

In the ER you triage based on urgency, i.e. which patients have the least time before they take a turn for the worst or whose treatment is time sensitive, letting everything else kinda hang out in the waiting room for a while, knowing that they can be assessed AFTER there’s been some stabilization of the acute matters. Treat your obligations the same way.

Make a list and ask yourself, “What are the deadlines that absolutely MUST be met?” and, “What can I (to come full circle) put on the back burner while I get the pressing issues dealt with?” You’ll be surprised how well his first step of delineation sets the stage for clearing out your to-do list. This is because an honest assessment of the various commitments you’ve made (regardless of whether they’re personal, work-related or otherwise) accomplishes two separate tasks simultaneously: it is both an accounting of all that you have to accomplish, and an assessment of what’s most important to you and at least some assessment of the reasons why.

Once this list is made the next step is to make some plausible estimates as to how long each of the most urgent tasks will take, and (if they exist) what points are safe to stop at. Think of it as the point when you’ve finally stabilized the patient who’s been bleeding all over the place and can step away for a few minutes to take care of other business. Splitting seemingly insurmountable tasks up into bite-size portions like this not only makes it easier to stomach, but also allows for more flexibility in fitting everything in. If you’re sure you’ve stopped in a good place AND have a set time slated for when you’ll get back to working on the project, there’s no reason to fear, or feel guilty about, stepping away from a big task. In fact, often times just starting a big project and making some headway alleviates a good deal of the initial anxiety and may help with that overwhelmed feeling.

And guess what, once you’ve done all this and the groundwork is laid, much of the heavy lifting is done. Admittedly, you have to leave some room for flexibility. But with a plan of action which is well-thought-out and straight-forward with regards to the amount of time and effort it is going to require, your chances for success are much greater. Even better, by getting the pressing stuff out of the way first, your workload only gets better as you go, until before you know it, your rough period is done, and you can relax a little bit. Like the ER doc who’s faced with a waiting-room-full of patients, by facing your overwhelming schedule head-on you’ll get through it and live to breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief when it’s all done.

Finding your quite place at UIC

So once again my day was off to a busy start, waking up at 5:30 am just to ensure my timely departure from my humble abode (just a side note, I love my man cave). In order to make my 8 o’clock class on time I must be on my way by 6:45 am. This then means I have an hour to get ready and wait for the CTA, well to be honest most times its 25 minutes because I like to over sleep. I don’t know what it is with over sleeping but it gives me some type of feeling as though I had a long productive day the day before, and that’s not always true. Do you every have those days when it’s long but not productive? Yeah I’m talking about those days when you decide to watch all the installments of the Lord of the Ring trilogy, yes those days. So as I was saying, I have approximately 25 minutes to take a shower and lay back down in bed for another 10 minutes. Lol that’s pretty slothful right? So this then leaves me with about 10 minutes to get ready and about 1.5 minutes walk to the bus stop.

Not a bad routine! What makes my trip in the morning more “delightful” (that was sarcastically said by the way) is my magical golden ticket. If Willy Wanka was really thinking straight he would have offered the kids a CTA U-Pass as their prize. But I guess a tour of his chocolate factory will have to suffice. So as I was saying, thanks to my trusty U-Pass I can now travel with ease until May 09, 2012, and being a marketing major I can tell you what a huge savings this is ( anyone can see that). Finally I get to school and off to class I go, rushing like a madman on fire, as if nothing else in the world matters and this class will make or break my entire future, it might be true in some cases.

I get to my accounting class and try to stay awake; at times I feel comforted to know that I’m not the only one falling asleep in my 8 am class, but this is not to say I condone it. After this I head to my other classes with the same intensity I had for my first, but not before stopping at the UIC snack shop—yes the one in SCE by the Dunkin’ Donut. With a 20 ounce cup of black coffee in hand I feel invisible, ok well not invisible more like a kid who just had 30 pixy stixs.

Needless to say it is now time for lunch, so by this time I’m coming down off my caffeinated high and everything is now in slow motion even my speech, it’s really astounding. So I get my lunch and guess what? There is no place to sit in the Inner-circle. But as of the last two months or so I have found the perfect location to have my lunch. A place where there is always a seat and it’s typically not as noisy.

It’s the bowling alley, yes the bowling alley, most people don’t even know that UIC has a bowling alley. So I go there and eat in peace and if I have time I play some of their arcade games. The bowling alley is my oasis, it’s quite, clean and the staff is always willing to help. So when I have had a long day I head to the UIC bowling alley and unwind and think of how to apply my marketing goals to making me some money. Over the last two months I have had some of the most brilliant business ideas, and it happened mostly at the bowling alley. I encourage all students who have the available time to find a quite area such as the bowling alley and explore the creative ideas that lingers in your mind. This campus is filled with great resources go out and explore. And always remember that no idea is ever too stupid to try, if you fail at business just try again. Failure only means an opportunity to do it right the next time.

Top 5 Quotes: I live by from UIC Professors

Breezy afternoon in Chicago!

If you’re ever near by UIC, come checkout the Flames Athletic Events! Checkout the calendar on http://www.uicflames.com/ They give out tons of free stuff: Domino’s Pizza, Lucky’s Wings, Flames Shirts/Scarves, etc.

UIC vs. Loyola on Martin Luther King weekend. Free UIC Snuggies to the first 400 students. Free Lucky's Sandwich wings to the first 100 students.

It was a great weekend because UIC won against Loyola that weekend and I got a free UIC Snuggie.

So here’s my “Top 5 Quotes: I live by from UIC professors” 

1.) “Teaching vs. Discovering” Political Science 101
The first sentence from my first professor at UIC. He goes on to say that UIC is not a teaching school, but enable you to discover.

2.) “Never mistake leadership for popularity” Military Science 202
In ROTC, our military instructor said these famous words. In his 30 years of combat, he saved lives by knowing when to make an unpopular decision.

3.) “Not about where you’re at, but where you’re going” -Psychology 101
My professor was talking about how to walk on railroads. She said, “if you want to get far walking down a rail, then don’t look at where you’re at, but where you’re going.

4.) “There’s two types of people you can’t hire: #1 The guy who thinks he’s God, and #2. The guy who knows nothing” -Civil & Materials Engineering 310
I believe this to be very true. I hold true to this philosophy whenever I’m applying for internships or whenever making a hiring decision.

5.) “Out of the 3 options: Love, Faith, and Hope– Hope is the strongest” Philosophy 101
Hope is where the other two derive from. It can make any person survive months on end without food or survive sub-zero temperatures for days if they have hope.

Stay classy Chicago! See you all next week,
-Darren

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TOPIC NEXT WEEK: “The Big Dream (After College) Everyone Needs”

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What’s your future dream in 10 years?

ANSWER FROM LAST WEEK: I’m CRAVING Lucky’s Sandwich Co., on South Campus

Tips on Better Time Management

I might not be the smartest when it comes to academics, but I know what I need to do to understand information while keeping a healthy balance of work (soon to have four jobs), research, and extra-curricular activities. While I do agree I’m busy most of the time, I always feel like I can do so much more!

9am microbiology lectures are great. I'm so glad I don't have any 8am lectures this semester!

9am microbiology lectures are great. I'm so glad I don't have any 8am lectures this semester!

I’ve noticed a lot of college kids know what they have to do for their optimal performance in school (getting good grades and all that jazz), but they just don’t do it! I’m guilty of one of those things, like not eating breakfast in the morning or skipping lunch because I’m busy in class or at work. Luckily, I decided this semester to force myself to get up early and make a quick and tasty breakfast to see how my concentration and focus in classes would be. Nothing like Nutella on whole wheat bread to get me going! I’m not sure if it’s really a part of a “balanced” breakfast as it is advertised, but it sure is yummy. I also grab a GoGurt on my way to my class or work. Do you guys remember GoGurt? I love that stuff.

Anyway, what made me want to write a quick spiel on time management was influenced by my Health Activism Committee meeting because most of them are freshmen and still needed help adjusting to college classes. By the way, our group is so close to being fully done with the materials! I’m e-mailing the schools this weekend and we will begin our training sessions soon with the presentations, which will be posted later on the SFP Website.

So, I suppose I’ll tell you the most obvious but not so common thing that is used to manage my time. You’ll probably say, “Well that was unhelpful. I already knew that.” But do you do it? Do you keep a calendar? I would assume so. Do you USE it? I wonder about that one.

I’m assuming most phones have a calendar, so I advise you to either get a paper one that you can carry around or just your phone (I just the one on my phone frequently). I don’t have Android or anything fancy (although I hope to get a smartphone this weekend with my family) so I couldn’t possibly use Google Calendar or whatever kind of apps they have out now (go on a searching spree if you do). Things I input on my phone:

  • Doctor Appointments (Dermatologist, Dentist, Allergist)
  • Things to do (Write Blog, Fill Out Scholarship Form, Print out slides, etc.)
  • Due dates (Scholarship due, Final Paper due, E-mail schools, etc.)
  • Meetings (Writing Club, SFP Club, HAC, etc.)

With everything listed above, I will also make a side-note in addition that says the location (for example, I would write BH for Burnham Hall) and also put the time if applicable. Unfortunately, my phone only lets me input 15 characters, so if I were to put “fill out scholarship form” in my phone calendar, I will most likely just type “scholarshipform” with no spaces. I’ll go to UH sometimes to visit a professor or employer so in those cases I type in my phone “UH ####” where the #### is their room number. Sometimes it’s super cryptic. I obviously know what it means, but I don’t think anyone would really understand unless you’re in research. For example, I have this for Tuesday: Cd36mc5nlrp3mf2. I’m not sure how other phones work in terms of character limit but you get what I mean.

The most important thing about this is implementing or actually inputting the information the second you hear about it or are informed of it. If you just see something and brush it off with “oh I have a meeting on Friday…well I check my e-mail a lot so I’ll remember it when I see it,” then you’re most likely going to forget, unless you keep it marked as unread (another great tip of mine). I get so many e-mails each day and I’ll read them all of them but obviously won’t have to time to reply all at once. If I do, then less work for me! But most of the time, I hold it off until I can think of a good answer, in which case I mark is back to unread so that I know to go to it again.

My nutrition and metabolism class is located at PEB, which is conveniently next to my dorm! The class is from 3:45pm-5:00pm so I usually get there kind of early since my classes before end at 3pm.

My nutrition and metabolism class is located at PEB, which is conveniently next to my dorm! The class is from 3:45pm-5:00pm so I usually get there kind of early since my classes before end at 3pm.

I hope this information is useful to someone out there, even if you don’t go to school. Anyway, nothing much going on with me besides intense studying for organic chemistry II and nutrition and metabolism (first exam on the 23rd!). Speaking of the 23rd, that day is Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the dragon, and my dad’s birthday is this weekend (he’ll be sixty…so old). My mom says it’s going to be his lucky year since he was born in the year of the dragon.

Oh, and I am going to redesign the website for iiClothing soon…when I make time for it, haha. I didn’t have many controls over the coding at WordPress.com so I switched over to our own host with WordPress.org and I’m excited to start! For now I just put a static page, acting like a portal to the store and stuff. I’m actually kind of proud of it, hehe.

First Week of School!

Hey Y’all!

I hope your first week was the bomb. I am super excited about my schedule this semester; two Energy classes, Linear Algebra, Inorganic Chemistry, and Communication. All of my teachers are AWESOME, they are truly committed to their work and it shows in the way they conduct class.

Choosing the right classes was not at all easy, especially since I was able to register just this week. That old UIC saying, “you have to keep checking for open spots”, was truly evident here. I cannot recall the amount of times I refreshed the page on myUIC, eventually nature took its course and my perfect classes opened up.

Speaking of nature, the first snow of the winter season started today. I love how the city looks covered in snow. I especially like the campus, the trees look so beautiful. Here are a couple of pictures I took on my way to make a delivery. I am glad we get a U-Pass to move freely, I can’t imagine how bad the driving conditions were. If you figure out where these pictures were taken, you get a chocolate.

With school comes the school work, although it’s only the first week, my first speech is due today; I hope I don’t get super red in front of the class. I do have a lot of reading to do this weekend, good thing the readings are on a really interesting topic, energy.

On a side note, I was introduced to the Google Calendar on my phone this week. It is very helpful, I was thinking of just getting a new planner, but this is more convenient. Sometimes I do get a little apprehensive about writing down things to do. I do not think I can go completely paperless forever.

Next week more pictures to come.

It’s going to be a busy week along with more assignments, here are other events. Come out!

-SHPE-UIC’s First General Meeting on Wednesday 1/18 at 5:30 in the Latino Cultural Center

-The CHANCE Program’s Informational on Thursday 1/19 at 4:30 in SCE Room 302

Thanks for reading this week!

 

At Last, A Snowy Chicago

Obama came to the UIC Forum and there were tons of snow trucks blocking the road and waiting to plow!

Obama came to the UIC Forum and there were tons of snow trucks blocking the road and waiting to plow! Doesn't the Sears Tower look pretty (or Willis Tower for those who swing that way)?

The whole winter break lacked snow, yet finally the week school begins it comes around! A bit late, but still appreciated in some respect. I don’t like walking in it too much, but watching it from inside the research lab was nice.

I sure love the snow!

On my way walking to the Polk station to wait for either a 7, 157, or UIC intracampus shuttle, I figured I take a picture of the first snow of the year! Beautiful right?

So I have officially been to every class in my schedule, and man do I have work to do! I heard from many people microbiology is easy, but so far there seems to be a lot of work involved and the labs require so much preparation before even entering! I learned my lesson last semester not to underestimate the higher level biology classes.

Organic chemistry seems like it will be the same, but the professor requires we get online homework so I had to pay $30 for that the other day. Luckily it wasn’t too expensive as I heard physics online homework is (~$60). As for nutrition, I’m totally terrified! HN 196 was a breeze, and I was hoping the upper level ones would be too, but my 307 class is insane. The professor has slides and made the textbook optional (it costs $210 otherwise) but he doesn’t really follow it and goes off the top of his head. He continually tells us to forget what we knew about nutrition because all of those “facts” are actually just theories or things that people made up…and that we have to think like a biochemist. Well, he has definitely changed my whole view on nutrition just in the first week, but this is going to screw up my notion of believing anything the textbook or other professors tell me. Seriously, you can’t trust anything except research, but even research doesn’t tell the whole truth! I’m debating if I want to get the book because I’m not sure what he’s going to test us on (no multiple choice for once…all long answer essay questions). Wish me luck!

My 296 class is nutrition and physical activity and it’s a little intimidating because a lot of people in the class are super knowledgeable about nutrition and I only had a semester so I need to make time to brush up on the notes I took last semester (although my 307 professor would probably say forget about it because it’s probably all wrong). My brain is racing.

Anyway, I bought the Xbox Kinect UFC game and it’s so intense! My arms and backside hurt from jabbing and elbowing. I’ve been showering every morning because my eczema just looks awful on my face when I wake up. T-T I don’t know if it’s the weather change or what, but I don’t like it! I lost my hair tie the other day, probably stretched it out too much. I used my Hello Kitty cap to keep my hair up while I was doing homework, as you can see below. It’s annoying to have long hair sometimes, but it’s nice to enjoy before I get old and have to take on that awesome granny-fro look. Oh, and I finally went on Facebook! I feel bad when I don’t go on because I lose immediate contact with friends, but then again it’s a huge distraction so it’s not a bad thing I don’t go on often!

I like to eat Cuties.

I like to eat Cuties.

How did everyone enjoy (or not enjoy) their first week of school? =)

A Llama Inspiration

Greeting cards are the outlet to my random bouts of creativity, especially around the Christmas season. To make a greeting card oneself is to express emotion towards someone you love in a simple image and few words. It is usually much appreciated in this day of Hallmark and e-cards. All you need is a piece of paper, a pen and some markers or watercolors! And an idea of course.

Sometimes when I don’t have a good idea, I simply draw the first thing that comes to mind.

the first thing that came to mind

And then you go from there. I have yet to color it in and write the thank-you note, which might go something like this:

“There once was a llama named Hank

who didn’t know who to thank.

He turned around and around,

till he finally found,

you were staring him in the face point-blank.

Thank you Aunt ____ for your awesome gift of _____!!! I’ve already worn it/used it/eaten many times!!!

Love,

Claire”

Fresh Paint!

My first blog, how exciting! Winter Break was AWESOME, a good mix of rest and havoc.

Now that winter break is over, time for the semester excitement to begin. This week we (the CHANCE Office) moved back into our cozy corner. It has been remodeled with a vibrant color boost. We also made sure to update our board with new events and pictures from our Family Night Trolley Ride.

I love the holiday season, as part of a big family, there was a large amount of preparation to be done for the holidays.  My favorite holiday, New Year, is the one that needs the most preparation. First, the whole house has to be cleaned spotless. We have to buy enough grapes so that everyone can have twelve for the countdown. Lentils in your pocket are a must to ensure financial stability for the whole year. Most importantly everyone in the family must be together, this signifies the unity that we hope to maintain the whole year.

Along with superstitions and traditions comes the delectable food. My favorite drink of the holiday season is Ponche; a warm form of real fruit punch that is delicious. It is made with fruits like: guayaba (guava), caña (sugar cane), tejocote (no translation), ciruelas (prunes), tamarindo (tamarind), manzanas (apples), and more.

On Wednesday, I was excited to go to Lalo’s on Maxwell with some of my friends to get a complete Latin Dance Lesson before the school year started. Although there were no dance teachers, all of the attendants were complete professionals. It gave me extra motivation to learn how to master all Latin Dance Styles.

Until Next Week, have an AWESOME Weekend!

P.S. Try not to toss and turn thinking about the beginning of your Spring Semester

You Say You Want a Resolution?

The new year is here, and that means it’s time for resolutions of self-improvement and an end to the over-eating, over-drinking and general over-indulgence that seem to come part and parcel with the holiday season.  The solution to this resolution?  The gym.  Unfortunately, the new year also means the beginning of claustrophobia-inducing crowds in pretty much any health club anywhere, as over-zealous individuals, eager to work off the aftermath of pumpkin pie, cookie exchanges and celebratory glasses of champagne crowd the weight room and the cardio machines, making it near impossible to get a fulfilling workout.

That being the case, I thought I’d convert this post into an advice column of sorts, giving some nuggets of wisdom that I think may help maintain this heady can-do go-to-the-gym feeling of new year resolutions beyond the end of January and well into 2012 and beyond.

First off, let’s start by talking about mindset.  Seldom is there anything worthwhile that is easily won, and fitness and many of the other lifestyle changes often contained within new years resolutions are no different.  Whether the goal is weight loss, academic diligence or finally ridding yourself of any number of recalcitrant bad habits, you have to be realistic.  Although it may be possible to go to the gym after several months (maybe even years) of sedentary living and run 4 miles, lift some weights AND do some yoga poses, you will hate yourself in the short term — i.e. the next day — and it will likely ruin any chances of success in the long-term.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is the physique of a Roman soldier. Treat a new gym routine as if you’re trying to learn a new language and admit to yourself that you’re going to have to take it slow at first, gradually building endurance and adding new exercises to your routine (more on that a little later).  With time, you’ll have a plethora of exercises to choose from and the stamina to make it through pretty much any routine, so much so that boredom will no longer be an excuse for not working out.

It’s important to remember that, in essence what you’re doing is reprogramming your body for activity, which at a biochemical level involves altering any number of metabolic and physiologic processes.  This is no easy task, and, surprise surprise, takes time.  Unfortunately, it also hurts, is pretty unpleasant, and, let’s be honest, will probably continue to feel that way even months into a solidified routine (although hopefully less so).  DISCLAIMER: If there’s a reason that you’re at risk for cardiovascular events or any other reason that medically excludes you from normally working out, you’re a special case and should discuss any new exercise regimen with your doctor.

Otherwise, the fact of the matter is that after the initial rush at the beginning of a workout, the following few minutes will — and should to a certain extent — feel incredibly uncomfortable.  No doubt you know the feeling when all the adrenaline’s gone and you start to get winded.  Yep, this is the part where every part of your body seems to be screaming at you to quit. And if you turned the treadmill up to 9 out of 10 in delirious optimism, maybe it’s time to slow it back down. But by all means, keep doing something, even if it means going at a slower pace.  Otherwise, the bulk of the benefit is lost if you quit at this point.

After all, it’s only after this period that your body actually starts to utilize its energy stores and significantly burn calories.  And more importantly in the moment, it’s only after this period that your body starts to supply those wonderful endorphins and (recent research suggests little-known chemicals termed endocannabinoids) that start to make things bearable once more.  Point being: do whatever it takes to get yourself over that initial hump.

So now what?  You’re miserable on a treadmill, right?  Wrong.  Whether cardio, weights or floor exercises, there are countless ways to work any given group of muscles.  Beyond just reducing boredom, as an added bonus, changing things up also continually pushes the body to its limits, and keeps you from plateauing, meaning that your workouts remain ultra-high-yield.

But let’s be real for a second.  Time is limited and work/school are exhausting.  And who wants to head back out to the gym after returning to the comfort of your home?  Let’s face it: the gym is never the number one place that people want to be at the end of a long day.  All this brings me to my next point.

Cut the excuses.

Think about it.  Amongst the countless new years resolutions seldom do you hear, “Stop copping out” or “Start taking accountability,” despite the fact that failure to accomplish these two tasks is at the base of pretty much every failed new years resolution.  If lack of motivation is the reason for not going to the gym, then find a way to reward yourself (Häagen-Dazs  dulce de leche ice cream, anyone?), or if you’re like me, who refuses to leave my apartment after a long day on the wards for anything short of escaping a fire, take your gym bag with you so that there’s no longer an excuse to go home first.  As mentioned above, keeping with a resolution demands a hefty dose of reality, so get real with yourself.  Chances are that any excuse (barring a prohibitive medical condition) has a logical solution that you’re not seeing — whether it be consciously or otherwise.

So make the resolution to outlast the mass of “resolution-aries” that will be crowding the gym for the next few weeks, and meet the challenge of developing a routine that works for you head on.

2011.2012

We will party like its 2011!– Now I just have to remember writing down the correct year when in class…

Time Capsule Video Update:

The full year journey starts with this camera.

The “time-capsule video” I’ve been talking about will be nicknamed “A New Hope” (for all you Star Wars fans). The video will be half documentary and half mockumentary showcasing the life of a college student with a daily blog starting from New Years Day on January 1, 2012 and end exactly a year later on January 1, 2013. Part one of this film will be released on June 9th, 2012 (6.9.12).

Of course this isn’t MTV quality stuff, but I’ll try to film common themes in college with the help of my friends: “Daily life of a student” “Making or breaking classes” “College relationships” and more. We’ll also add a spin like showing college students hot-spots around Chicago.

Top 3: Chicago Clubs to Checkout for 2012

This list is composed by the “word around campus” on clubs college students like to visit. It’s relatively difficult to describe each club unless you’re really there.

1.) Lasalle Power Company
It’s a multilevel club that has everything; full kitchen, bar, two story dance floors, private party rooms.

http://www.500nlasalle.com/

2.) V-Live 
Great DJs and plenty of areas to explore.
http://vlivechicago.com/v-live/

3.) Sound Bar
The people are lively and the music is bumping.
http://www.sound-bar.com/

 

Next week’s article will be about my dog named Poochie!

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TOPIC NEXT WEEK: My dog Poochie

ANSWER FROM LAST WEEK: The worst holiday food I’ve had was an extremely burnt turkey on Thanksgiving Day. I’m still afraid of turkey to this day.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is your new years resolution?

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