Archive for category Anecdotes

5 Reasons to Get a Smartphone for College

Your mother has been telling you, “Your college years will be the best of your life,” ever since you can remember. Although she’s probably just expressing her own discontent with her life ever since, this little nugget happens to be a universal truth of the adolescent experience. You’ll meet interesting people, make great friends, and learn to see the world through the prism of newly formed maturity, so don’t be afraid to prove your mother right. If you’re preparing to embark as an undergraduate into the landscape of higher education, it’s important to first contemplate the things you will need to be successful in your social and academic life. Your experience as a student can be greatly enriched by arming yourself with the power of modern technology. Smartphones are essential in this age of connectivity, and these are five reasons I’d recommend a smartphone to any college-bound youth.

“Can you hear me now?”

1. Playing games when Professor Whatever is going on about whatever

For four years you will listen to many intelligent professors astound you with their wealth of wisdom and knowledge. They will engage and confront you with the educated world, with the beauty of intellectualism and the growth and maturation that can happen when you’re open to new ideas. But even Tiger Woods has his bad rounds. On the days your professor rants and meanders off on tangents about his or her private life, find solace in a classic video game, which is easily downloadable on any smartphone. Is she seriously working her husband into a lecture about Palestine? Who cares! Grand Theft Auto III is only five bucks… Time to jack some rides.

2. It’s a camera, too

“I think you might have ruined my phone when you made me that camera-phone… and my camera.”

Not only does this wonderful piece of technology give you access to the internet at all times, everywhere, it also takes high quality photos that can be shared easily by many different means. Pictures are an integral part of socializing for college-aged adults, so a smartphone will serve several essential functions. Many potential partners will attempt to court you via sext, and because of the camera your smartphone will offer the best possible channel for such exchanges. So make sure to take lots of pics, and when your friend Rich is begging you not to upload that video you took of him doing karaoke at McDonald’s at 3 a.m. last night, remain steadfast and committed to sharing his rendition of Livin’ on a Prayer with the world. Gone forever are the days of having to carry multiple digital devices in order to have a good time. “Is that a camera AND a phone in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

3. Finding grub

And by “grub,” I don’t mean McDonald’s…

As an undergraduate, many nights will be spent intoxicated and hungry and roaming the streets of your college town. In past generations, young adults would have actually known the places to eat. Thanks to the new media revolution, your phone knows for you. There are applications that will literally pinpoint your location using the smartphone’s GPS and tell you the best places in your area for any kind of food at any price range you desire. Aren’t even sure what you want? Don’t worry, the app can decide for you. Rumor has it the next version of Urbanspoon will even be able to chew and swallow. I, however, won’t be impressed till my smartphone poops for me, too.

4. Cramming for an exam ten minutes before it’s given


Sure, you were going to prepare for your English lit exam weeks ago. You were going to pick up Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and read every word of it. You were going to make notes and reread chapters, go to the library and digest scholarly articles discussing the novel’s subtext and its greater implications for the modern canon. But then you started dating this guy with curly hair, and then you went with a group of friends to Six Flags and there was absolutely no way you were going to miss football over the weekend, and so you simply decided that you were going to cram the night before using SparkNotes. And there you are, cramming. You’ve made it three chapters into the book when you suddenly realize that you’ve actually fallen asleep, and you didn’t set an alarm before passing out. You wake from your sleep abruptly. Class is starting in thirty minutes; panic takes over. You throw on your Uggs and sprint across campus to the lecture hall. You bump into an elderly woman and knock a stack of papers from her hands.  You scream your apologies to her from a distance: there’s no time to help her gather her things and make sure she’s okay. You fail to brush your teeth or comb your hair, which allows you to make it to your seat with ten minutes to spare. If you’re a sucker that’s stuck living at the turn of the century, you pull out your book and start blowing past pages, attempting to grab hold of some brief passage that might help you BS your way through this thing—God, if you’re listening, give me the strength and inspiration to muster a B+ on this exam and I’ll read every book from now on, I swear! I’ll even read The Bible—If you have a smart phone, getting to SparkNotes or Wikipedia is easily done in under twenty seconds. Even faster if you’ve already downloaded the apps. When time is of the essence, a smart phone will allow you start gobbling up those plot points and characters and turning them into well crafted arguments about how the fate of the Satis House represents the old ruins of the imperial, British Empire. Cramming so close before an exam has never been easier with the worldwide web in the palm of your hand, and unlike your computer, a smart phone doesn’t take three minutes to boot up. When you only have ten minutes to read one of the great works in English literature, who has time to wait for the hourglass icon to go away?

Junk pile.

5. Fitting in

The important thing to remember about having the best college experience is you have to appear to be the kind of person with whom people want to hang out. Unless you’ve found that niche group on campus of struggling artists that see modern technology as a form of oppression, this usually means having something expensive and cool to show the world, like a small, pocket-sized, electronic representation of your personality and flare. Of course you didn’t design or invent the smartphone, you merely picked out the color. But when you have nice things people think you are, in fact, a nice thing. So when Sandra from your physics class goes to punch her number into your slick smartphone, don’t make her second guess when you instead whip out your unlocked Nokia that you bought for less than you spent on fast food last month. It’s time for an upgrade.


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I’m Speaking In Generalities, Of Course

Clearly, I’m talking about sex. Can’t you tell from this free stock photo?

I love perusing the Divorce section of the Huffington Post. Having had a long-term relationship recently come to an end (20 months ago is recent enough, right?) I suppose I find some solace in the misery of others. It makes me feel less alone.

I’ve especially come to like the bits about men and their cheating ways. As a member of said sex it is curious that I found myself happily monogamous after 4 ½ years with my partner. It would seem abnormal from the sheer frequency that these testimonials of infidelity are published on the section’s front page. Apparently the penis is a Socialist appendage. Mine must be akin to Ronald Regan.

Today’s featured article, Life After Divorce: Casual Sex. Is it healthy to move on from a serious relationship with “casual” sexual encounters? Unfortunately I haven’t found my answer on account of my being been negated from the speaker’s target audience. Men have beer commercials; women have divorce advice.

I’ve learned a lot about the female race from the fifty-something year old women that write for the Huffington Post. Their newest nugget of wisdom: “Women are emotional and men are analytical.” She’s speaking in generalities, of course. I like to think of it like this, if you’re writing an article for an audience of thousands it’s best to try and connect with the most amount of people’s experience. Though I’ve never made it a life goal to argue with a Coldplay song, this would seem to compromise the integrity of the writer on the subject. The only reason the experiences of your readers might define the thing that you’re trying to say is so you can sell adspace to Weight Watchers.

If most people already see the battle of the sexes through the fragmented perspective of this black and white kaleidoscope, does that make it any truer than the gray shades of complexity that define human relationships? I assert it isn’t because such a blanket statement about so many people across so many cultures is impossible to substantiate.

Most men make you a vampire during intercourse.”

Generalities like this would go unnoticed if so many people didn’t make major life decisions based upon them. Online relationship experts seem to frequently fall back on stereotypes as a universal truth and grounds for willy-nilly advice. I suspect they do this because it fills up a lot of space without having to do much of the thinking or research necessary to make the claim.

The author writes, “Since women are emotional, everything they do depends on how they think it will make them feel.” This is contrary to men, whom do things dependent on how it will make them fat. I’ve come to this conclusion after my latest trip to Golden Coral.

“When a woman has sex with someone,” she continues. “She usually assumes that whatever relationship she has with the guy is about to become a lot more serious.” I’ve never been a proponent of the universal “she” when talking about the intricacies of sexuality. Doing this often leads to established norms that alienate those that don’t fit neatly into this category of women. Why do we still believe in seeing the world this way? Sure, sometimes women might want a more “serious” relationship with a guy. And sometimes, they might not. I think it all depends on the kind of person they are. Like my Kindergarten teacher always used to, “We’re all snowflakes, Jack.”

The HuffPo piece goes on to say about my gender, “Men are simple; they like sex.” True, over the years I’ve come to learn that sex can be very enjoyable, but my sexuality is probably a little more nuanced than this woman has described it and her audience perceives it. I am, in fact, a man, yet I wouldn’t have that define what I should feel or the decisions I will make.

“After divorce,” she says. “A man will likely be just as distraught as a woman, but he will, in most cases, be able to differentiate between emotion and pleasure… He will most likely want to experience different types of sex with different women after the split.”

Or maybe, just maybe, he won’t.

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Why Can’t I Stop Killing People?

Good thing there’s respawn.

It’s been eight months of this, staring at my screen for ten minutes at a time, unflinching, unblinking, shouting curse words as my enemy beats me to the draw. Nearly 10,000 souls have perished by my hand, yet I’m hungry for more carnage as though I were Drew Barrymore starring in a film titled, “Fifty First Kills.” I have accrued almost double as many deaths, but still strive for efficiency at the start of every new match. My efforts are futile on account of my putrid ability. My chronically poor performance makes me more appreciative of the season that LeBron James has had. I tend more towards Kobe though, I’m disappointed when I have to settle for an assist.

I don’t really believe they have souls, the soldiers in my video game, yet as I play I think about the real men and women around the globe that actually do this sort of thing for a living. They don’t just start blindly shooting at every shadow, of course, but bullets and bombs are a part of their work, and it makes me uncomfortable to think about how realistic the game must be. Not so much the look of it, but the sound: a burst of gunfire and a grunt of pain, and then silence. Around certain corners you can hear the buzzing of flies.

My PlayStation informs me that I’ve played online multiplayer for a total of 6 days, 19 hours, 37 minutes, and 3 seconds. I don’t know why it records down to the second, but I’m glad someone is keeping track. That comes out to an average of 1 kill for every 58.7 seconds. In that same total time I could drive to San Francisco and back with minutes to spare. Instead I’ve spent it shooting the population of my zip code.

And it’s so fun. What a sick people we’ve become. At Thanksgiving I was playing MW3 as extended family looked on. They were horrified to see me, a member of an African militia, shooting white Americans in the head with a sniper-rifle. My cousin and I laughed as their bodies twitched in the high grass; it started an argument. Perhaps our joy was exaggerated on account of my family’s disgust. What can I say, we were feeling confrontational.

The quiet halls of Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant.”

When indulging in first-person shooter games I often think about Gus Van Sant’s 2003 film, “Elephant.” At one point during the film’s shooting spree, we see the victims from the viewpoint of a gunman staring down the barrel of his weapon. Modern Warfare’s gameplay could be loosely inspired by this.

I don’t agree with the premise that video games cause violence, but I can easily see why some might. At the very least they desensitize us. I think I realized this just about the time that I killed the same opposing player four straight times with a knife attack, and gleefully turned to my cousin and slapped hands. I proudly told him how exciting I found it because I’d never done it before.

“You only live once,” he said, and laughed when I got shot from behind.

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“… and there was light.”

The first word is always the hardest. The last word is second. But once your mouth starts moving it’s easy to pretend that you know what you’re talking about. I am skilled at this in many subjects. I am well-versed in being uneducated. It’s a gift, really. I’ve always felt that I have the ability to bullshit my way through any conversation as long as you know as little as I do. When it’s obvious I’m out of my element I simply change the topic before you’ve realized. It’s the same strategy that Gandhi used to defeat the Nazis.

Tonight is a monumental point in my life. Once I was an aimless boy without a blog, now I’m a man with no audience. But because of you that will change. All I ask is that you read my posts and take them seriously or take them casually, but whatever you do don’t ever take them sitting down. Ataractic Jack must be consumed standing up. Now… Rise.

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