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It’s about the time of year that the sound of a “cough, cough” may mean more than an incoming innuendo. In spite of the abundant medical resources here on campus, sometimes one simply cannot help getting sick. The extended, close-quarters communal experience of college, by my reckoning, constitutes a trial-by-fire for the human immune system. As with other adversities, the inevitable rampant pestilence requires longer to adjust for some than for others. I mention this because I’m sure that neither I nor anyone else who has managed to dodge the illness bullet this far into the winter wishes to get sick now, so in the interests of self-preservation, I offer some at-home measures for avoiding disease like the plague. Or, you know, diseases such as the plague.

Ordinarily, this would go without saying, but maintaining a certain standard of cleanliness would be an excellent start to keeping healthy. Alas, one finds that hygiene starts to fall lower on the “to-do” list in desperate times of imminent due dates. To be entirely blunt about it, well, have you ever walked into a dorm room where the “Biohazard” sign on the door is not there for decoration? I understand the benefit of having socks and shoes that are self aware, but I have to wonder if it’s really worth the functioning ecosystem in one’s laundry hamper.

More worrisome than leaving clothes unwashed is the fact that keeping the natural accumulation of dirt and grime at bay becomes more and more troublesome as stress builds. When a person only takes a shower when it’s against their will and on their birthday, there’s something amiss. Maybe it’s the college sleep schedule. For most, teeth-brushing is a pre-bedtime ritual. Therefore, no bedtime equals no teeth-brushing, at least until the fur on your molars starts to interfere with your ability to speak. The obvious solution, of course, is to brush, bathe, and scrape whatever needs brushing, bathing, and scraping as soon as you realize it needs to be brushed, bathed, or scraped.

As most of you who own refrigerators know all too well, eating spoiled, rotten, or sentient food poses more than a small threat to one’s personal health. After a bad run-in with some milk after the cooling system went on vacation without notifying me, I have to do a sniff-check at least twice before having any cereal in the morning. The fact that fast food doesn’t come with a label regarding shelf life doesn’t really help me when I’m liable to keep leftovers chilled for well over a week — one scrawny freshman and two large pizzas tend to stay together for quite a while. On the bright side, I have a pepperoni-flavored, continually replenishing supply of penicillin in my icebox.

I hope my less-than-stunning words of wisdom and restatements of the obvious have provided some measure of assistance to the home-economics impaired. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go buy a box of tissues and a pair of tongs. My socks have escaped from their cage again.