Ask Emma: 50 questions for the 50th edition

Inquisitive readers ask about relationship problems, best Pullman activities, tips for class success



We have a real Ask Emma extravaganza this week for the 50th edition of everyone’s favorite advice column.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

It’s my 50th Ask Emma, which felt like a big, round number worthy of a special edition. This week, I solicited 50 questions from readers, and I will be answering them rapid-fire in no particular order. 

Ready, set, go!

  • What’s one easy way to find internships?

Go on Handshake, LinkedIn, Indeed or other networking sites. Look for people with jobs that sound like the job or internship you want and reach out to them. Bonus points if they are also a Coug — immediate connection!

  •  What’s a show or movie to get out of a slump? 

Depends on your preferences! If you’re nerdy like me, “Star Trek: The Original Series” and “The Big Bang Theory” are fun ones. In terms of movies, my go-tos are “Princess Diaries” and “Pride and Prejudice.” 

  • What’s a three-ingredient snack on the go? 

Pretzels and hummus! That’s two ingredients, so it’s even easier. 

  • Your favorite science fact? 

There are too many to choose from, but here’s my current favorite. Helicobacter pylori is the species of bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. Its name refers to its flagella (tail-like structures) that move it through the stomach like the blades of a helicopter. It has a special enzyme that creates a neutral zone around it to protect from the very acidic environment of the stomach. So cool!

  • Is tap water safe?

Depends who you ask and where you live. Pullman’s is relatively clean because we get most of our water from underground aquifers, which are known for being pretty pure. It never hurts to invest in a water filter if that’s something you’re worried about.

  • Why am I here? 

Sounds very existential. Wish I could help, but I need more details about you and who you think you are. If anything, you are here to be a host for the microbes. 

  • What’s my purpose? 

What do you feel your purpose is? What brings you joy? Opportunities for introspection may lead to new insights. 

  • Why do I exist?

I hope these existential questions aren’t all from the same person. There are probably a lot of different reasons why you exist, but it depends what you believe. Because someone somewhere believed the world needed more of you — that’s probably the easiest answer.

  • Can I find frogs in Pullman? 

Probably. I don’t do biology that you can see without a microscope, but our nature beat reporter, Isabelle Busch, would be a great person to ask about our amphibian friends. 

  • Does my cat love me? 

Does anyone’s cat love them? If you feed it, it probably does. The chances of your cat killing you are low … but never zero. 

  • What’s the best outdoor thing to do in the Palouse? 

I love to hike at Kamiak Butte and Moscow Mountain. Snowshoeing is also fun during the winter months.

  • If I cut off my pinky toes, will I feel it? 

Yes, so please don’t do that. Your toes are very important for balance. 

  • What does osteoblast mean?

Osteoblasts are the cells that make your bones. If you break the word down into its component parts, “osteo-” means bone (from Greek), and “-blast” means growth or formation. There are lots of other blasts in biology!

  • Should I go to grad school? 

If you’re asking, then it’s probably worth considering. Make a pros and cons list for your reasoning. If you feel disappointed about the side that wins, the right answer is probably to do the opposite.

  • Am I supposed to have something I’m passionate about in life?

You’re not “supposed” to do anything. Do whatever you want! But if you aren’t passionate about or happy with the things you’re doing, why are you doing them?

  • Help, I can’t stop spending money on clothes to bring myself a small level of joy and satisfaction, however fleeting?

I understand that. Give yourself a monthly spending limit and be strict when you get close to maxing out. It will help you enjoy the clothes you do end up buying instead of being overwhelmed by a pile of unworn cardigans and sadness.  

  • Do I need an iPad? 

Do you? Make a pros and cons list. If you already have something that functions similarly to an iPad, put that on the cons side.

  • Is Siri listening to my thoughts?


  • Socks or no socks? 

Depends if you want the microbes trapped next to your feet (in socks) or trapped in your shoes (no socks). It also depends on the type of shoe and the vibe you’re going for. I prefer socks unless I’m wearing sandals.

  • Is hot water bad to drink?

Not unless you know something I don’t. The only difference between hot and cold water is the speed of the molecules colliding into each other. 

  • Where does candle wax go?

It evaporates. You wouldn’t expect it, but it acts similarly to boiling water. If you leave it to boil long enough, you lose some of the volume as it becomes water vapor. Same with wax.

  • I don’t like eggs, but so many things call for eggs. How can I avoid that?

Do you mean you don’t like eggs even when they’re baked into things (like cookies)? If that’s the case, I would recommend looking for egg-free alternatives. Egg allergies are relatively common, so these should be at least somewhat available. I’ve always heard applesauce works well as an egg substitute in baking.

  • Should I adopt another cat? 

Does your existing cat need a buddy? Can you afford it? You know the drill: make a pros and cons list. 

  • Should I buy my current cat a mushroom cat tower?

Obviously! And send pictures.

  • I read somewhere that it’s technically inappropriate for your shoes to show your toes, especially in professional settings. Is that true? And why?

I am inclined to agree with this. I don’t think sandals or other toe-revealing shoes are the most professional attire. Flats and close-toe heels are probably more appropriate, but you can’t go wrong with a cute peep-toe. Don’t show your feet if your professional setting is a lab — that’s a safety hazard!

  • Can you overdose on vitamin C? 

It is very likely that you would overdose on vitamin C, but I don’t recommend trying. According to the Mayo Clinic, the upper limit is 2,000 mg per day, so try not to exceed that.

  • What should I do when I feel faint?

Sit down. Don’t try to power through it because you might lose consciousness and hit your head. You most likely need to drink some water and eat something. If this occurs frequently, consult a medical professional. 

  •  How often should I wash my emotional support water bottle? 

Once a week is generally good. Definitely wash it before there are any signs of microbial growth — weird black patches or unpleasant odors. 

  • Are stickers bad for the environment?

They can be. Wood stickers are gaining traction because they are supposed to cut down on vinyl waste.

  • Hey Emma, what’s the time? 

Time for you to get a watch! (Kidding, so sorry.)

  • Is there such a thing as a bad hair day?

Yes. I know because I’ve had several. 

  • Will my dishes ever be clean? 

Try soaking them in warm water before washing them. It will loosen up the stuck-on gunk and make them easier to scrub. 

  • Are there such things as stupid questions? 

No. Silly questions, sure. Something that you might consider a “stupid” question usually results from poor explanation on the part of the teacher. 

  • Does the Bachelor actually work?

I don’t want ABC to sue me, so I plead the fifth.

  • Where’s the best place in Pullman to watch the sunset? 

It used to be the water tower, but now that’s a construction zone. If you ever find yourself on the top floor of Webster, that has a great view. So does Conservation Park on the west side of town. 

  • Why is the clock tower red?

Go Cougs, am I right? 

  • When is daylight savings time?

Next week! We will spring forward on March 13.

  • How do I power through burnout leading up to spring break?

Take plenty of breaks and give yourself grace (easier said than done). You have something to look forward to, so try not to be unkind to yourself in these last few weeks. 

  • How do I study more effectively? 

Try to create and stick to a study schedule. Work in short increments instead of intense, extended periods. As a wise person once told me, you don’t try to build all your muscle in one day when you train at the gym. Why would your schoolwork be any different?

  • How do I avoid having trust issues in my future relationships because of my last relationship?

This is a tough one. Therapy is a good start. Once you start a new relationship, open communication will be your best tool. Establishing clear expectations for communication with your partner will help build that trust from the very beginning.

  • Should I date my friend who is also in graduate school with me?

Make that pros and cons list. I can’t tell you what to do, but a list sure can. Seriously though, if you’re contemplating it, you probably see the good and the bad. Make a list to see which one carries more weight. I’m not saying you actually have to listen to the list, but it might give you clarity. 

  • What’s the most common question you get?

I get a lot of questions about relationships and a lot of questions about things to do in Pullman. If not those two topics, I get a lot of questions about study tips or career preparation. 

  • What question stumped you?

All these existential questions have been really difficult! I’m not sure how to explain to a stranger their purpose in just a few sentences. 

  • What is there to do for fun in Pullman?

Plenty! Go thrift shopping downtown, study or people-watch at a coffee shop, go for a hike nearby, take a walk around campus, find a new book at the library, or eat at a local restaurant. The list goes on!

  • What do I do with my parents in Pullman?

I love to take my parents to the WSU Bear Center, especially when the bears are out in the yard. They are so fun to watch. We also love to get food and wander around downtown.

  • What’s a good elective to take?

If you’re in my major, epidemiology is a great class to learn how social factors contribute to disease. I highly recommend it! Any (science) communication class is also a great choice, in my opinion.

  • What do you do to let go of stress?

Honestly, getting work done helps relieve my stress. Taking a walk, watching a funny video or talking with a friend also really help. I’ve also recently realized that being in the lab helps relieve my stress. It’s something about the basement of Eastlick Hall. 

  • What’s a fun day or weekend trip that’s not in Pullman?

Spokane is always fun! There’s a lot to do there — coffee shops, restaurants, local stores, and Riverfront Park are all good options. Palouse Falls is also a good day trip when the weather is nice. 

  • I’m dissatisfied at work. What should I do?

Try to pinpoint where your dissatisfaction is coming from. Are you missing a challenge? Are you having conflicts with your coworkers? Once you have identified the problem, take intentional steps to address it. 

  • What’s your favorite part of campus?

Thompson Flats or the Evergreen newsroom in Murrow Hall!