The Sneak

Back in college, my time-management skills were about as terrible as they are today (although I didn’t have the benefit of an ADHD diagnosis back then, whatever that benefit might be.) I would occasionally find myself facing a due date for a paper—for which I had not even started preparing—that was, in the context of the time, “tomorrow.” This necessitated that time-honored college tradition, the “all-nighter.” I couldn’t tell you how many of those I pulled back in the day. (Left entirely to my own devices, I think I’d still be primarily nocturnal, but that’s a story for another day.)

Unlike many college-age kids, though, I was never very good at going without sleep altogether. Upon wrapping up my 5-to-7-page tome comparing and contrasting Henry Kissinger’s The White House Years to William Shawcross’ Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon & the Destruction of Cambodia at around 4:00 a.m.*, I still felt the compelling need for sleep. I developed a technique I referred to as “the sneak” (mostly because I was too tired to think of a better name for it.) Continue reading


Your Own Private Ball Pit

I wish I had thought of this back in my Rice University days:

When U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials learned that Rice University senior David Nichol had imported 26 fairly large boxes containing 13,000 plastic colored balls from China, they decided to investigate the contents due to the sheer bizarreness of the order.

“There are a lot of things about importing I didn’t know that I do now – about how you need to fill out certain forms and how you need to pick them up from (the Houston) ship channel,” Nichol said.

“I actually didn’t pick them up from the Port of Houston,” he said. “They were taken to (U.S.) Customs and Border Protection to be tested to make sure they were certified balls and not something else. I’m sure it was kind of sketchy to have 13,000 plastic balls shipped to Texas.”

Nichol’s excuse was pretty straightforward: He wanted to create a ball pit in his dorm room at Rice.

(h/t Sheila, via Texas Monthly)

I can’t tell which dorm this is, so it must be one of the new ones. Now I feel old. This totally would’ve worked at Lovett, had anyone dared. The closest thing I can remember from Lovett in the ’90s was the tower of Mountain Dew cans, which simply required superglue and a crapload of Mountain Dew cans (and, I guess, a lot of stomachaches from drinking all that Dew). There were also the two guys who never cleaned their room, to the point that you couldn’t see the floor at all by March or April. That’s not something you want to jump and roll around in, though (I hope). Continue reading


“It’s always right now”: A Few Thoughts on “Boyhood”

About three days into my college orientation, one of our advisors (a sophomore who had the perhaps unenviable task of shepherding about fifteen of us into university life) suggested we make a run to Target to get any supplies we might need for our dorm rooms. This event sticks out in my memory because it marked a “moment of realization” that might be common for college freshmen, and young adults in general. Or it might not—I’ve never asked anybody. I have now lived more years since that evening than I had lived up to that point, so the moment may seem sort of pithy now.

Kelly Martin (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Oh, the places we went! (Actual store we went to not pictured.)

As we piled into the advisor’s car at around 9 p.m., though, I had this sudden realization that I never could quite describe. It wasn’t freedom, exactly, even though part of the realization was that I hadn’t had to ask anyone’s permission to go to Target late in the evening, and that no one was monitoring my bedtime (aside from basic social conventions between roommates). A better word might be possibility. If nothing was stopping me from going to Target at 9 p.m.—aside from not having a car and living in an unfamiliar city with spotty public transportation—what else was possible for me? Like I said, it seems pithy from the perspective of being 40 years old, but to an 18 year old from the quasi-suburbs who had never been away from adult supervision, the possibilities seemed endless. This brings me to the movie Boyhood.


I saw Boyhood in the theater about six months ago, and like most people, I was astonished by the ambition of the project and the story that it told. As you probably know, director Richard Linklater shot the movie a few weeks at a time over the course of twelve years, from 2002 to 2014. The movie follows the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from elementary school to his first moments of college. The final scene of the movie is what really stuck in my mind, because it captured that feeling of possibility better than I could ever describe it with words. Spoilers ahead… Continue reading


This Week in WTF, May 9, 2014

Ginny [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Flickr

Dads just aren’t safe anywhere anymore.

– This would explain all the moldy eggs I ate as a kid: The Toronto Public Library was asked to remove the Dr. Seuss classic Hop on Pop, apparently on the grounds that it “encourages children to use violence against their fathers.” The complainant also asked the library to apologize and pay damages to fathers injured by children acting under the book’s pernicious influence.

You just cannot make this stuff up (h/t Mental Floss).

– Culturally appropriative irony, explained? PolicyMic has a piece on why hipsters seem to think it’s cool to wear Native American headdresses. The short answer is that there is no good reason, but plenty of reason to stop doing it: Continue reading


Generation Opportunity Prepares College Kids for Future Emergency Room Visits

"Backyard tailgate party" by tobo [CC BY-SA 2.0], on Flickr

Not pictured: The actual Generation Opportunity tailgate party

I have long suspected that much of the motivation behind opposition to the health insurance mandate aspect of the Affordable Care Act comes from an “It won’t happen to me! attitude. I never suspected, however that they would actually go and state it as bluntly as Generation Opportunity did last weekend.

The Koch brothers-funded Generation Opportunity — famous for its series of over-the-top advertisements trying to scare young Americans into not buying health coverage through Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces — took its opposition to health care reform to a whole new level on Saturday. The group threw a tailgate party during the University of Miami-Virginia Tech football that featured flashy cars, drinking games, models, a DJ, and plenty of “educational” material about why young people shouldn’t take advantage of Obamacare.

“We rolled in with a fleet of Hummers, F-150’s and Suburbans, each vehicle equipped with an 8’ high balloon bouquet floating overhead. We hired a popular student DJ from UMiami (DJ Joey), set up OptOut cornhole sets, *beer pong tables, bought 75 pizzas, and hired 8 ‘brand ambassadors’ aka models with bullhorns to help out,” wrote David Pasch, Generation Opportunity’s communication director, in en email to the Tampa Bay Times. “*Student activists independently brought (lots of) beer and liquor for consumption by those 21 and over. Oh yeah, and we educated students about their healthcare options outside the expensive and creepy Obamacare exchanges.”

The line of reasoning, as I understand it, is that college-age people tend to have fewer healthcare needs than older people, and therefore do not need the same level of coverage—therefore, they should not have to have health insurance coverage because Freedom. I suppose one could say my bias is showing, but if even one insurance-eschewing kid at that tailgate had drank too much and, say, gotten alcohol poisoning, fallen and sustained an injury, or crashed a car, our great Socialist state requires emergency rooms to provide them with treatment. Guess who pays for it if the student (or more likely the student’s parent[s]) doesn’t have the cash to cover the tab? I guess it’s our patriotic duty to subsidize liberty-loving college kids’ love of liberty. Or not.

Hell, even insurance-eschewing kids who avoid drinking and all other risky activities could still get hit by a car driven by a less-responsible individual, or even by an entirely-responsible individual who has a car accident for a near-infinite number of reasons. Of course, college-age kids never unexpectedly get sick, or for any other reason find themselves in sudden need of healthcare. Or not.

America: We have raised irresponsibility to an art form.

Photo credit: “Backyard tailgate party” by tobo [CC BY-SA 2.0], on Flickr.