Student Guide 2010: Boulder A to Z


Some words to the wise

~ A ~

Alcohol poisoning — No, it’s not letting your beer go skunky or someone mixing you a bad cocktail. Alcohol poisoning is drinking so much so quickly that your body can’t even gag. Some symptoms include irregular breathing, hypothermia, seizures, turning blue, uncontrollable vomiting (that’ll impress your date), loss of consciousness and death. Remember, you came here to get smart. Don’t be a dumbass.

~ B ~

Breck(enridge) — One of the many (many, many) great spots to ski around Colorado. That’s half the reason you picked CU in the first place, right? And if you want to sound like a seasoned ski bum, call it Breck, just like it was an old friend.

~ C ~

Carbon footprint — In most places, people might ask if you’ve heard of a “carbon footprint.” Here, we ask if you know what your carbon footprint is, if you know how to reduce it, and if you know what the carbon footprint of that soda you’re drinking is.

~ D ~

Dispensary — You might have heard that using marijuana for medical purposes is legal in Colorado. Well, all those afflicted masses in their early 20s need somewhere to get their relief, which is why in Boulder County we have dozens of dispensaries, ranging in class from something that looks like your friend’s basement to establishments with more ambience than most clubs.

~ E ~

Elevation — Here in Boulder, we’re even higher than the Mile High City, so if you’re coming from the lowlands back East, get ready for a body shock. Sure, you might have been able to jog for an hour on flat, sea-level land, but be prepared to train yourself up all over again. There’s a reason Kenyan marathoners come here to train, and it’s not for the views.

~ F ~

4/20 — Yes, Boulder has one of the biggest “smoke-outs” in the country, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a free-for-all here. The city has cops and it knows how to use them. (If you want the story behind the 4/20 name, though, check out Boulder Weekly’s April 15 issue for the lowdown. Yeah, we’re cool like that.)

Fiske — See “Laser Light Shows”

~ G ~

Ganja — See “Dispensary”

~ H ~

Hiking — When it’s not snowing (or even when it is, if you’re brave) Boulder is just lousy with great hiking trails. If you need some guidance, check out or ask some locals. Everyone’s got a favorite trail, path or climb.

~ I ~

IFS — How often have you heard someone say, “I don’t really like movies”? Probably not that often, and it’s even less likely in Boulder. Roger Ebert swings through town pretty much every year, and CU hosts its famous International Film Series. With films ranging from classic to kooky to cult, you’d have to flat-out hate movies to not find something you like.

~ J ~

Jail — Where you might end up if you believe all that hype about how marijuana-friendly Boulder is. Laws are laws, kids, and recreational tokin’ still ain’t legal.

~ K ~

Kayaking — We’re into extreme here, and what could be more extreme than hurtling down a steep mountain ravine in your own plastic torpedo? You don’t even have to leave town to do it, either. Just check out all the weekend warriors bobbing down Boulder Creek.

~ L ~

Laser Light Shows — You might not have been to a planetarium since that second-grade field trip, but every Friday Fiske Planetarium has a program for adults: its famous Laser Light Shows — one Pink Floyd set and one flavor of the week. It’s a perfect (and cheap) night out if you’re in the mood for a trippy experience. Just remember: no smoking in the building.

~ M ~

Microbrews — Sure, a lot of people drink PBR because it’s “authentic.” It’s also “really bad.” If you want a side of actual flavor with your alcohol (and if you’re of age, of course), check out the dozens of local breweries and brewpubs in and around Boulder. Your taste buds will thank you.

~ N ~

NightRide — Know what’s even better than partying all night? Getting home in one piece. That’s where CU’s NightRide service comes
in. Just call 303-492-7233 any time after dark, and they’ll get your
butt home. It’s also great if you just don’t feel safe trekking home
five miles in the dark all by your lonesome. For more info, check out

~ O ~

OSMP — Open Space
and Mountain Parks are the nice folks that bring you all this, well,
open space and mountain parks. Makes sense, when you think about it.
Funded by sales tax, OSMP takes care of some 45,000 acres of land. Next
time you gripe about high prices in Boulder, remember that part of every
dollar goes to giving you some of the best hiking and climbing in the

~ P ~

Pearl Street Mall — It’s
that place you take your parents when they come to town and you want to
divert their attention from the debt you’ve racked up from all of the
partying you’ve been doing.

Prius — You
see, it’s actually a government requirement for Boulder residents to own
a Toyota Prius or other hybrid car. Didn’t anyone tell you? What are
you waiting for, then? Get thee to a dealer!

~ Q ~

Quantum physics — It
seems not everyone came to Boulder to ski. The smart folks in the
physics department came here to study tiny particles, smash atoms and
tell us just where the heck the universe came from anyway. They’re even
involved with the Large Hadron Collider project near Geneva. Maybe they
go skiing when they’re over there in the Alps. Those smart bastards.

~ R ~

Rams — Our deadliest foes, otherwise known as Colorado State. Anyone caught consorting with a Rams fan will be dealt with. Swiftly.

~ S ~

Silver and Gold — The
University’s official colors. Black was tacked on unofficially so that
the football players could have snazzier, meaner-looking uniforms. (Can
you imagine players decked out in silver and gold lamè?)

Snowboarding — Skiing’s
hip younger brother, snowboarding is considered an easier introduction
to snow sports by some. We’ll leave the choice to you: would you rather
be strapped to one plank of wood or two while you hurtle down a

~ T ~

Tubing — Ever
feel like cruising down a raging creek with your butt hanging down low
enough to scrape rocks? Then tubing is just the thing for you!

Trails — See “Hiking”

~ U ~

UCAR — University
Corporation for Atmospheric Research. With more than 70 collaborating
universities, UCAR is one of Boulder’s many world-famous scientific
organizations. UCAR manages NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric
Research), the big sandstone building perched on top of Table Mesa.

~ V ~

Vegan — The other requirement for living in Boulder. If you don’t drive a Prius and aren’t a vegan, don’t even bother.

~ W ~

Weed — See “Dispensary”

~ X ~

Xeriscape — It
might sound like a cool new sci-fi novel, but xeriscape refers to a
gardening practice that uses minimal amounts of water. We live in a
pretty arid place, and growing native plants and grasses helps save what
little water we do have. Save your hydrangea for Seattle.

~ Y ~

Yoga — Oh, yeah,
the third requirement for being a true Boulderite. You did remember to
bring your yoga mat, right? Boulder is a virtual mecca not just for yoga
students, but for teachers as well.

~ Z ~

Zero Waste — Ever
notice how trashed most places look after a football game or big party?
Not Folsom Field. The Buffs’ stadium is committed to the ideal of “zero
waste,” which means composting, recycling or reusing stuff instead of
dumping it in a landfill. For more on zero waste, visit or talk to the folks at CU’s Environmental Center.