Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2021

If your suburban lineage precludes you from ever setting foot in Williamsburg, then you and your newly-minted college degree should be singing the praises of Murray Hill:

A good lyrical summation of the current state of this lower-Upper East Side ‘hood. Although this sums it up even better:

Adam Greenberg, 23, knew when he moved into Windsor Court a month ago that he was already acquainted with more than 100 people in the neighborhood, many from the same high school (Wheatley on Long Island), sleepaway camp (Equinunk) and college (Syracuse University) he attended.

“Everyone knows everyone,” he said. “If I don’t know them, I’m sure I have a friend who knows them.”

Joshua Schwadron, who lived until recently in another of Murray Hill’s postgraduate hives, where he could claim Facebook friendships with half of the residents, put it this way: “You leave college and you think you’ll be nostalgic for your community, and you realize that the community never goes away — if you live in the right place.”

Amusingly enough, that prospect — of the same high-school people surrounding you in college, and so on going forward — was my worst nightmare as I entered early adulthood. My instincts compelled me to dodge that destiny by decamping to Florida for my baccalaureate work. Today’s graduates obviously follow different impulses.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/18/2011 10:08pm
Category: College Years, New Yorkin'
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Tuesday, January 11, 2021

Whenever I hear some twentysomething moaning about his/her quarterlife crisis, I point out that, based on current life expectancy, they’re being wildly optimistic.

Most of the time, I get back a blank stare. Occasionally, someone will figure out the quick math, and respond with a scowl. I’ve never asked if it was because they’d just realized that they were 5-10 years overdue on this post-adolescence marker, or if they resented my questioning their youthful immortality. Either way, a win for me!

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/11/2021 10:16am
Category: College Years, Society
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Friday, January 07, 2021

I can’t say why the following college memory bubbled up yesterday. All I know is that it did, and imparted a big smile on me that turned out to be infectious.

And it’s not much of a memory. Really a brief non sequiter, that’s somehow clung to my braincells for 20 years:

I was in a friend’s next-door dorm suite. We hear the shower running in the bathroom, behind the shut door. Knowing that no one else was home, we crack open the door.

Sure enough, the bathroom was empty, save for a business suit hanging from the shower rod. Meanwhile, the hot water had been flowing from the showerhead for some time, creating a practical steambath in the small space.

My friend had an amazed look on his face. Knowing that his roommate had set this up, he blurted out, “Is this what he thinks dry cleaning is??”

We had a good laugh. The end. I don’t remember ever confirming the intent; the roommate in question was pretty lunkheaded, so I’m guessing yes. Hopefully, he’s since learned better.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/07/2021 08:22am
Category: College Years, Comedy, Fashion
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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Moving back in with the folks after college has been par for the course for some time now. Toss in a recession that prevents the paying of rent — let alone student loans — and the ranks of these boomerang kids swells to a ridiculous proportion:

A whopping 85% of college seniors planned to move back home with their parents after graduation last May, according to a poll by Twentysomething Inc., a marketing and research firm based in Philadelphia. That rate has steadily risen from 67% in 2006.

It’d be interesting to check out the family dynamics that are developing on such a wide scale. Although considering how helicopter-parented these “adults” have been all their lives, I’m sure this de facto regression back into the familial womb is boringly frictionless. At least until the girl/boyfriend spends a few too many nights over…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/14/2010 10:05am
Category: Business, College Years, Society
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Monday, October 04, 2021

we're in the playoffs!
Pucking Hilarious appears to be on hiatus. I’m hoping that they’ll revive themselves this week, with the start of the 2010-11 National Hockey League season, so that I can buy this t-shirt, with the oldschool videogame hockey representation pictured above.

For those who weren’t rockin’ their Sega Genesis twenty years ago, that “Make Somebody’s Head Bleed” motto comes straight out of Swingers:

Trent: I wish they still had fights in this game so I could bitch-slap Wayne.
Mike: What? They don’t have fighting anymore?
Trent: Doesn’t that suck?
Mike: Why’d they get rid of the fighting? It was the best part of the old version.
Sue: I think kids were hittin’ each other or somethin’, man.
Trent: Yeah but you know what, Mike? You can make their heads bleed in this one.
Mike: Make somebody’s head bleed.
Sue: No man, we’re in the playoffs.

And furthermore:

Trent: I’m gonna make Gretzky’s head bleed for super fan 99 over here.

Indeed, the head-bleeder pictured above, from NHL ’93 (in fact, not NHL ’94), is Wayne Gretzky, as you can tell from those grey-and-black Los Angeles Kings 16-bit colors. And his assailant would be Jeremy Roenick, then of the Chicago Blackhawks. Ah, the memories.

And yes, I logged plenty of time on EA‘s early ’90s hockey simulations. As did my college dormmates. We had far too much fun competing against each other for hours on end with that old cartridge-borne sports game, laughably primitive by today’s standards but engrossing nonetheless. I recall that Murray “The Crave” Craven (that nickname was wholly invented in our gameroom, having no relevance in real life) was a particular favorite player in our self-contained little league…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/04/2021 10:39pm
Category: College Years, Hockey, Movies, Videogames
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Monday, June 14, 2021

Scholarships collide with semantics in the Golden State, where colleges and universities officially don’t charge the natives with tuition, but rather “fees”:

The state’s renowned master plan for higher education, which in 1960 established separate roles for the University of California, California State University and the community colleges, also declared that the public institutions “shall be tuition free to all residents.” Since then, even as the amount students pay for their education has soared, campuses here have stubbornly insisted on using the word “fees” for the instructional charges that other states call tuition.

Now, however, a movement is underway to drop what many education experts consider an outdated, even dishonest term. It’s high time, they say, to adopt the “T-word” in registration bills and campus discussions.

For example, with UC’s basic undergraduate educational cost now topping $10,000 a year, three times more than a decade ago, “tuition” is the accurate term, they say. They also note that in 2009, California’s confusing terminology nearly kept the state’s veterans from receiving certain federal education benefits and financial aid.

I’m sure Mom and Dad will feel less of a sting now that their checks are going toward the “T-word”, versus the “F-word”. The “F-word” still being appropriate for when Junior winds up incurring dorm-damage charges…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/14/2010 11:39pm
Category: College Years, Politics, Society, Wordsmithing
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Monday, May 24, 2021

I spent the past weekend in Florida, for an informal college reunion with a few of my old dormmates. It turned out to be a nicely-timed getaway for me, following a couple of weeks of a particularly hectic schedule that had left me drained. And along with the sun and sand, getting to see some members of the old gang again for the first time in nearly twenty(!) years was a good thing.

I suppose a standard part of these re-gatherings is discovering how little most people really change. Everyone has “grown up”, in the sense of being on-track with families, careers, and such. But the remarkable thing is that, as we all push toward 40, we’ve all retained most of the instantly-recognizable traits that we had when we were living together back in school. For the most part, we picked up right where we left off, despite the years in between.

That leads to my favorite moment of the weekend, courtesy of my old college pal Woody. The best compliment I received was when he said he was glad to see me again, because he had missed my “negative humor”. By which he means my usual dry, sardonic wit. I know he meant it, too, because every time I said something to him, he ended up laughing hysterically.

I’m glad I could lend the biting comedy to this overdue get-together. Like I said, some things really never do change.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/24/2010 08:55am
Category: College Years, Florida Livin', General
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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Not only is today Earth Day, it’s the 40th anniversary of the observance. Four decades is long enough for the movement to have evolved, from single-focused eco-green to a green philosophy infused with more pragmatic blue-sky thinking — a so-called “turquoise” approach.

I offer no such tempering for my own blog-based Earth Day tradition, which is simply the annual re-telling of my college prank call, turned spurious environmental protest. But it just so happens that my freshman-year stunt happened exactly 20 years ago today — the midway point in Earth Day history. Entirely coincidental, but the juxtaposition has gotta count for something.

And with that, here’s the much-repeated story. The details: It’s 1990, in a dormitory lounge at my alma mater, with my 18-year-old self gawking at an old TV with over-the-air reception only (no cable on campus back then). The perfect ingredients for spontaneous save-the-planet action!

My favorite Earth Day memory is a prank I played 13 16 17 18 several years ago. I was sitting in my dorm lounge with a dormmate. We were flipping through the channels (no cable TV in the dorms back then -– the dark ages!!), and catching a couple of news reports telling us it was Earth Day. Then we land on Home Shopping Network, just as they start rolling out their fur collection for display and sale.

It hit me: Furs? They’re hawking freakin’ furs on Earth Day? Come on!

Now, I wasn’t then, nor am I now, a hard-core environmentalist or animal-rights advocate. I’m sympathetic with those philosophies, to a point, but I eat meat, wear leather, etc. Nevertheless, some part of my sensibilities was offended by seeing such a bizarre juxtaposition. I think I was offended by the stupidity, or more likely ignorance, on display by HSN.

So, I decided to do something. I got my phone, dialed up the HSN order line, and as soon as the customer service drone answered, I yelled, “EARTH DAY! FUR IS MURDER! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT!!”. I did it a couple more times after that. Then I got my dormmate to call too, on his phone; he did a very low-key version of same spiel (sans yelling –- that was my schtick).

We had our fun, and decided to keep watching the channel to see if our childish actions had any on-air effect. Lo and behold, about 10 minutes after the last of our calls, the show host mentioned, “By the way, folks, today is Earth Day”, and then abruptly switched from the fur display to something else. We laughed our asses off! It looked like we had stuck it to the man!

And, since the above seems to bother modern-day Home Shopping Network employees/fans who stumble this way, here’s some further clarification:

It seems to be eluding some that the episode above happened in 1990. When I was 18 years old, btw — so the “childish” insult doesn’t faze me, as I practically was still a child at that point. Also, whatever call-center procedures that are in place now most likely weren’t in effect back then. So don’t bother citing current SOP because it probably doesn’t apply.

Secondly, I never state that the operators somehow relayed those crank calls to the broadcast booth. However, you can bet those calls were being monitored from a higher source, and from there filtered to what was going on on-screen.

Lastly: Whether or not my imagined cause-and-effect really happened, the sequence is where the humor is. It still makes for a funny story, which is why I look forward to recycling it yet again next year. :)

Since I’m soon going to be attending an informal Eckerd College reunion to celebrate a few of my classmates’ personal 40-year ripening, the timing for this year’s iteration seems perfect. Consider it an early birthday gift, to both my fellow alums and to Mother Earth.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/22/2010 08:08am
Category: College Years, Comedy, Political
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Wednesday, October 21, 2021

The jig is up for us political scientists (my BA says I’m one, thanks very much): Congress is debating cutting National Science Foundation funding for a discipline that can’t decide just how “scientific” it is (or isn’t):

“The danger is that political science is moving in the direction of saying more and more about less and less,” said Joseph Nye, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, whose work has been particularly influential among American policy makers. “There are parts of the academy which, in the effort to be scientific, feel we should stay away from policy,” Mr. Nye said, that “it interferes with the science.”

In his view statistical techniques too often determine what kind of research political scientists do, pushing them further into narrow specializations cut off from real-world concerns. The motivation to be precise, Mr. Nye warned, has overtaken the impulse to be relevant.

Reminds me of the joke one of my professors tossed off regarding the very same conjecture. The gist was that, as above, a segment of the discipline’s practitioners wanted to amp up the pure statistical focus, thus emphasizing the “sci” part of poli-sci. To which Prof, decidedly on the softer social-trending side of the debate, haughtily scoffed, “The fools!”

He got a big laugh from the class, because none of us fancied ourselves as the scientist type, either in labcoats or somewhere crunching numbers. Indeed, for undergrads, you’re a political science major either because it’s the most in-line prep for pre-law and law school; or else, like me, you have an affinity for the combination of history and applied social processes.

Trying to forge a hard science out of that soup seems like a tall order, despite Congressional preference for NSF money going into pharmaceuticals and the like. Quantifying the body politic would be a lot easier if human beings, with their quirks and general irrationalities, weren’t involved.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/21/2009 10:31pm
Category: College Years, Political, Science
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Wednesday, April 22, 2021

It’s getting a bit long in the tooth, considering the events in the following recollection took place nearly 20 years ago. Nevertheless, today is Earth Day, and this blog’s tradition calls.

Once again, the backdrop: It’s 1990, in a dormitory lounge at my alma mater, with my 18-year-old self gawking at an old TV with over-the-air reception only (no cable on campus back then). The perfect ingredients for spontaneous save-the-planet action!

My favorite Earth Day memory is a prank I played 13 16 17 18 several years ago. I was sitting in my dorm lounge with a dormmate. We were flipping through the channels (no cable TV in the dorms back then -– the dark ages!!), and catching a couple of news reports telling us it was Earth Day. Then we land on Home Shopping Network, just as they start rolling out their fur collection for display and sale.

It hit me: Furs? They’re hawking freakin’ furs on Earth Day? Come on!

Now, I wasn’t then, nor am I now, a hard-core environmentalist or animal-rights advocate. I’m sympathetic with those philosophies, to a point, but I eat meat, wear leather, etc. Nevertheless, some part of my sensibilities was offended by seeing such a bizarre juxtaposition. I think I was offended by the stupidity, or more likely ignorance, on display by HSN.

So, I decided to do something. I got my phone, dialed up the HSN order line, and as soon as the customer service drone answered, I yelled, “EARTH DAY! FUR IS MURDER! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT!!”. I did it a couple more times after that. Then I got my dormmate to call too, on his phone; he did a very low-key version of same spiel (sans yelling –- that was my schtick).

We had our fun, and decided to keep watching the channel to see if our childish actions had any on-air effect. Lo and behold, about 10 minutes after the last of our calls, the show host mentioned, “By the way, folks, today is Earth Day”, and then abruptly switched from the fur display to something else. We laughed our asses off! It looked like we had stuck it to the man!

And, since the above seems to bother Home Shopping Network employees/fans, here’s some further clarification:

It seems to be eluding some that the episode above happened in 1990. When I was 18 years old, btw — so the “childish” insult doesn’t faze me, as I practically was still a child at that point. Also, whatever call-center procedures that are in place now most likely weren’t in effect back then. So don’t bother citing current SOP because it probably doesn’t apply.

Secondly, I never state that the operators somehow relayed those crank calls to the broadcast booth. However, you can bet those calls were being monitored from a higher source, and from there filtered to what was going on on-screen.

Lastly: Whether or not my imagined cause-and-effect really happened, the sequence is where the humor is. It still makes for a funny story, which is why I look forward to recycling it yet again next year. :)

Happy greening, folks!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/22/2009 10:32am
Category: College Years, Comedy, Political
| Permalink | Feedback (1)

Friday, April 17, 2021

Someone’s not letting a little thing like the Great Recession get in the way of college fundraising: An ultra-anonymous donor — who’s demanding signed affirmation that his/her identity won’t be investigated — has given $45 million to nine American universities.

The source was so secret that it triggered post-9/11 style nervousness:

Usually when schools receive anonymous donations, the school knows the identity of the benefactor but agrees to keep it secret. Not knowing who is giving the money can raise thorny problems.

William Massey, vice chancellor for alumni and development at University of North Carolina-Asheville, said the school contacted the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS to make sure the money was legal before accepting it.

“There may be an ethical problem if you knowingly accept funds from ill-gotten gains,” said [University of Colorado at] Colorado Springs’ Hutton. University officials “do due diligence and ask the appropriate questions and receive satisfactory answers.”

What’s the deep-dark fear — that Osama bin Laden is making these secret cash-dumps, and will later call in the favor by seeking asylum on campus?

By the way, did I mention that I’m starting up a new online school: PopulationStatistic.edu? That’s right, and it’s legit, or might as well be. So if that anonymous moneybags is reading this, and has a spare million or two left over, I’ll gladly send on PopStat U’s PayPal account information. And don’t worry — no questions asked, and I can keep a secret with the best of them!

Between that mystery money, and my continuing efforts to land a Blogging Fellow-based MacArthur Foundation “genius award”, I’ll soon be sufficiently funded for my largely-theoretical academic endeavors. Beats working, anyway!

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 04/17/2009 11:12am
Category: College Years, Comedy
| Permalink | Feedback (2)

Friday, March 27, 2021

The couple of times I saw trailers for new release Spinning Into Butter, I got the distinct impression that it was made from a script that had been lying around since the ’90s, when college-campus racial tensions were (more of a) hot topic.

Lo and behold, that’s pretty much the case, as the film is adapted from a stage play of the same name that was first produced nine years ago (so, close enough).

Not that this spoils my movie-going plans for this weekend. Even if I had intended to take in this type of overwrought drama, I’d go more directly to the source and rent Higher Learning.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/27/2009 11:13am
Category: College Years, Movies
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Friday, February 20, 2021

Call me old and crotchety enough at 38 to be sufficiently out of touch with the college-campus mentality. Yet I can’t help but draw a parallel between the latest carping about how students feel entitled to a minimum grade of A or B just for showing up to class, and the late student takeover of New York University‘s cafeteria which was just quashed in a practically comical manner.

Specifically: I’m guessing the busted protesters are going to be demanding straight-A’s for the semester, to reflect their commitment (or, failing that, to compensate for their anguish, in similar vein with the campus myth about getting a 4.0 for a roommate’s death).

In both cases, the presumption is that a sustained-enough period of whining (sorry, make that “effort”) will result in accedence by the authority. Obviously, the former mindset fed into the latter effort.

I’m wondering what other scattershot agenda items the NYU dorm-commandos would have added, had they held out an extra day or two. First it was affordable tuition and transparent fiscal reporting, then the curveball of Gaza-related financial/educational aid (which abruptness of appearance pretty well cooked the goose)… What was next up? Demands for free MP3 downloads on university servers?

I was, in fact, lurking around NYU over the past couple of days, doing my usual work/client shuffle. I didn’t have time or desire to go in for a closer look. The only outward indicator I got of the action was an unusual stretch of trash strewn across a half-block of 3rd Avenue early this afternoon; I’m not sure it was related, but I given the proximity, I assumed some protesting sympatico had a hissy-fit and made the mess.

Vive la revolution…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/20/2009 07:54pm
Category: College Years, New Yorkin', Society
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Friday, August 22, 2021

school's in
At the risk of enabling in-classroom distraction, colleges and universities are supplying incoming students with iPod Touches and/or iPhones for use as wi-fi learning tools.

This isn’t too surprising, as the higher-ed institutions have been enamored with Apple’s shiny pods for years: The pre-wireless iteration of the iPod was doled out at Duke University and elsewhere to provide audio instruction.

I do question why iPhones are even in the picture, though:

At each college, the students who choose to get an iPhone must pay for mobile phone service. Those service contracts include unlimited data use. Both the iPhones and the iPod Touch devices can connect to the Internet through campus wireless networks. With the iPhone, those networks may provide faster connections and longer battery life than AT&T’s data network. Many cellphones allow users to surf the Web, but only some newer ones have Wi-Fi capability.

Why saddle students who assuredly already have a cellphone with another phone plan, just to get a mobile device that can access the campus’ already-present wi-fi cloud? This is a situation where the iTouch is an ideal device: It’ll always have a strong connection to the Web — particularly in a classroom — and therefore no need for a built-in 3G or Edge signal. The only other thing missing would be a camera, which would be unnecessary in this setting. It makes no sense at all for the school to invest in iPhones when the iPod Touch will do the job.

On Apple’s part, while there’s probably more money to be make in snagging college iPhone customers, they can really position the iTouch as a learning tool. It is indeed a more preferable alternative, for both students and professors, to lugging a full-sized notebook computer around.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/22/2008 03:11pm
Category: College Years, Wi-Fi, iPod
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Monday, August 18, 2021

Is it an indicator of how far back in my personal rear-view mirror the drinking-age debate is that I’m not at all convinced of the merits behind the Amethyst Initiative, an organization advocating a switch back to 18-year-old imbibing and founded by — improbably enough — college presidents?

“This is a law that is routinely evaded,” said John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the organization. “It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory.”

Other prominent schools in the group include Syracuse, Tufts, Colgate, Kenyon and Morehouse.

Not that all school administrators are onboard:

McCardell cites the work of Alexander Wagenaar, a University of Florida epidemiologist and expert on how changes in the drinking age affect safety. But Wagenaar himself sides with MADD in the debate.

The college presidents “see a problem of drinking on college campuses, and they don’t want to deal with it,” Wagenaar said in a telephone interview. “It’s really unfortunate, but the science is very clear.”

Another scholar who has extensively researched college binge-drinking also criticized the presidents’ initiative.

“I understand why colleges are doing it, because it splits their students, and they like to treat them all alike rather than having to card some of them. It’s a nuisance to them,” said Henry Wechsler of the Harvard School of Public Health.

But, “I wish these college presidents sat around and tried to work out ways to deal with the problem on their campus rather than try to eliminate the problem by defining it out of existence,” he said.

And in fact, my Spidey-cynic tells me that the college presidents pushing the “debate” are engaging in subtle marketing for the much-sought-after incoming students: When word gets out that they’re pushing for a lower drinking age, I’m sure it’ll carry weight in many a final enrollment decision. To wit:

“Yeah dude, Tufts was just my back-up safety school, but when I heard that their prez signed a petition to change the drinking law to 18, I moved them to the top of the list! Party!”

Gotta keep those matriculation numbers up, y’know.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/18/2008 11:39pm
Category: College Years, Society
| Permalink | Feedback (4)

Tuesday, April 22, 2021

In the same spirit as last year’s self-plagiarism, I’m commemorating today’s Earth Day observance with a blog rerun.

The year is 1990, the place is a dorm lounge in my alma mater, and the source material is an old TV with over-the-air reception only (pre-cable). Throw in my general 18-year-old boredom, and you get this improbable save-the-planet vignette:

My favorite Earth Day memory is a prank I played 13 16 17 18 years ago. I was sitting in my dorm lounge with a dormmate. We were flipping through the channels (no cable TV in the dorms back then–the dark ages!!), and catching a couple of news reports telling us it was Earth Day. Then we land on Home Shopping Network, just as they start rolling out their fur collection for display and sale.

It hit me: Furs? They’re hawking freakin’ furs on Earth Day? Come on!

Now, I wasn’t then, nor am I now, a hard-core environmentalist or animal-rights advocate. I’m sympathetic with those philosophies, to a point, but I eat meat, wear leather, etc. Nevertheless, some part of my sensibilities was offended by seeing such a bizarre juxtaposition. I think I was offended by the stupidity, or more likely ignorance, on display by HSN.

So, I decided to do something. I got my phone, dialed up the HSN order line, and as soon as the customer service drone answered, I yelled, “EARTH DAY! FUR IS MURDER! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT!!”. I did it a couple more times after that. Then I got my dormmate to call too, on his phone; he did a very low-key version of same spiel (sans yelling–that was my schtick).

We had our fun, and decided to keep watching the channel to see if our childish actions had any on-air effect. Lo and behold, about 10 minutes after the last of our calls, the show host mentioned, “By the way, folks, today is Earth Day”, and then abruptly switched from the fur display to something else. We laughed our asses off! It looked like we had stuck it to the man!

Normally I’d let this recollection stand as is. But doing so seems to confuse some people. Therefore, I feel compelled to include something in the way of context and clarification. (I doubt the offended Home Shopping drones will even read this far down, but at least I’ve got it down for the record, and won’t have to bother with further response.)

It seems to be eluding some that the episode above happened in 1990. When I was 18 years old, btw — so the “childish” insult doesn’t faze me, as I practically was still a child at that point. Also, whatever call-center procedures that are in place now most likely weren’t in effect back then. So don’t bother citing current SOP because it probably doesn’t apply.

Secondly, I never state that the operators somehow relayed those crank calls to the broadcast booth. However, you can bet those calls were being monitored from a higher source, and from there filtered to what was going on on-screen.

Lastly: Whether or not my imagined cause-and-effect really happened, the sequence is where the humor is. It still makes for a funny story, which is why I look forward to recycling it yet again next year. :)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/22/2008 11:58am
Category: College Years, Comedy, Political
| Permalink | Feedback (1)

Sunday, April 22, 2021

Whenever I copy-and-paste an old post to create a new one, I get the feeling that I’m copping out.

But since today is Earth Day, I’ll frame this post as a prime example of what can be achieved by renewing your own resources — intellectual-property style. (It’s better than saying I’m swiping content from myself.)

So here it is, same as last year, albeit with a couple of minor diction edits: My college-era instance of sticking it to the man for good ol’ Mama Earth. Enjoy!

My favorite Earth Day memory is a prank I played 13 16 17 years ago. I was sitting in my dorm lounge with a dormmate. We were flipping through the channels (no cable TV in the dorms back then–the dark ages!!), and catching a couple of news reports telling us it was Earth Day. Then we land on Home Shopping Network, just as they start rolling out their fur collection for display and sale.

It hit me: Furs? They’re hawking freakin’ furs on Earth Day? Come on!

Now, I wasn’t then, nor am I now, a hard-core environmentalist or animal-rights advocate. I’m sympathetic with those philosophies, to a point, but I eat meat, wear leather, etc. Nevertheless, some part of my sensibilities was offended by seeing such a bizarre juxtaposition. I think I was offended by the stupidity, or more likely ignorance, on display by HSN.

So, I decided to do something. I got my phone, dialed up the HSN order line, and as soon as the customer service drone answered, I yelled, “EARTH DAY! FUR IS MURDER! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT!!”. I did it a couple more times after that. Then I got my dormmate to call too, on his phone; he did a very low-key version of same spiel (sans yelling–that was my schtick).

We had our fun, and decided to keep watching the channel to see if our childish actions had any on-air effect. Lo and behold, about 10 minutes after the last of our calls, the show host mentioned, “By the way, folks, today is Earth Day”, and then abruptly switched from the fur display to something else. We laughed our asses off! It looked like we had stuck it to the man!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/22/2007 08:07pm
Category: College Years, Comedy, Political
| Permalink | Feedback (5)

Tuesday, February 13, 2021

Having attended an NCAA Division II school, I have a soft spot in my heart for the equivalent of the lower-minor leagues in college sports.

That said, the brewing storm over the subdivision of the NCAA’s Division III into upper and lower tiers strikes me as pretty pointless.

“At the convention, there were people walking around saying, ‘I’ll never join a Division IV,’” [Williams College athletic director Lisa] Melendy said. “No one wants to be in Division IV. The name has such a substandard sound. It sounds like you’ve been demoted.”

You’re already talking about the basement; would getting shifted from third- to fourth-string be that much of a hit? After you get past Division I and I-A, primetime collegiate sports are largely theoretical.

Then again, things could go even lower:

No one wants to tackle the prickly subject of what to call the new divisions. A Division IV could be avoided with a Division III-A and Division III-AA. Others have proposed using proper names for the divisions. And some administrators suggested there would be enough discord that the N.C.A.A. should be prepared not just for a Division IV but also a Division V.

I think all this splintering will prompt ESPN to start spinning off parallel sub-networks, just to keep up on coverage.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/13/2007 11:45pm
Category: College Years, Sports
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Friday, December 01, 2021

Microsoft’s sorry excuse for an unPod, the Zune, comes with a curious product slogan:

Welcome to the Social.

It’s clever, in that it implies a community phenomenon for the media player, which of course you’d want to join. It also boosts the much-hyped Zune-to-Zune wi-fi file transfer capability that Microsoft has used as the key differentiator from the iPod.

For me, though, the first thing that came to mind wasn’t really the uncommon noun definition, ala “ice cream social”.

Rather, it was one of the outcomes of my favorite college drinking game, Three Man. As in, roll a 9, and then call out “SOCIAL!” as the cue for everyone in the game to take a swig.

I’m guessing someone in Zune marketing dredged up some beer-soaked memories of their college drinking days when they settled on that tagline. College kids have been a primary grassroots market for promoting the Zune, so I’m sure that consideration went into it as well. Positioning an mp3 player as a drinking accessory? It’s got to work better than the Zune’s cruddy design and features…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/01/2021 08:30pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., College Years, Tech, iPod
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Thursday, August 24, 2021

I can only assume that Rite Aid’s agreement to absorb the Brooks/Eckerd drugstore group for $2.6 billion will result in the disappearance of both the Brooks and Eckerd store brands.

If so, as an alumus of Eckerd College, I’m happy as a clam. Not that I encountered many instances when someone would ask, upon finding out where I went to school, why I decided to go into pharmaceuticals. And the withdrawal of Eckerd stores from Florida, combined with their rather thin presence in New York (as far as I’ve seen), pretty much eliminated that possibility anyway. Still, I’d rather there be one, and only one, Eckerd brandname out there.

Now, I’ve got to cross my fingers that my alma mater doesn’t pull a fast one and rename itself “Rite Aid Tech” or something…

It was questionable that the Jean Coutu Group persisted with the Eckerd brand after buying the remains of the operations in 2004, when CVS simply assimilated its half under its own banner right away (including in Florida, where Eckerd Drugs started its life). The chain’s expansion up the East Coast didn’t build much equity, and ultimately put the company in a position where it had to sell itself off. Now, less than a decade later, it’s about to be snuffed out completely.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/24/2006 08:17am
Category: Business, College Years, Florida Livin'
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Monday, July 10, 2021

How’s that small college supposed to compete with big universities to attract prospective students? Increasingly, they’re instituting (and re-instituting) NCAA football programs, which are considered quick-fix galvanizing components of the long-lasting college experience.

“When you recruit a halfback, you get a few of his male friends, maybe his sister and his sister’s boyfriend, too,” said JoAnne Boyle, president of Seton Hill University. A 123-year-old former women’s institution in Greensburg, Pa., Seton Hill added football last year.

“I could have started a spiffy new major of study, spent a lot of money on lab equipment and hired a few new high-powered professors,” Dr. Boyle said. “I might have gotten 25 more students for that. And I couldn’t have counted on that major still being popular in 15 years.

“Instead, I started a football team, brought in hundreds of paying students, added a vibrant piece to our campus life and broadened our recognition factor. And in the long history of American higher education, one thing you can count on is football’s longevity. Football is here to stay.”

Come for the pigskin, stay for the bachelor’s degree!

The funny thing is that for years, football programs at smaller schools were an endangered species. Because an institution with only a couple thousands students couldn’t hope to put together a top-flight Division I squad, and that Div. II and III competition wasn’t considered noteworthy enough to be an attraction for current students or alumni, football often became hard to justify on a cost basis.

What’s changed? I guess the breadth and depth of football fandom has reaped a lucrative market for all things gridiron. In addition to the appeal for the student body, clothing merchandising has a huge appetite for a variety of team colors/logos, and as long as the school/team really exists, it’s got the cache to be a strong seller. There’s the revenue stream a small school needs.

This trend soon may be affecting me. Dinky little Eckerd College, my alma mater, has been on a sports-promotion kick ever since new President Donald Eastman came on board a couple of years back. The school’s never had a football squad, and was founded with the intention of never having one. Sports has purposely been a secondary part of the Eckerd experience; the most glory it gets is when its Division II baseball and/or hoops teams make a little noise in their conferences every few years.

But when I drove through the St. Petersburg campus a couple of weeks ago, during a brief visit, I spied a couple of goalposts set up on the far edge of the school’s athletic complex! I figured that was a harbinger of things to come, and this article tells me I’m right.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/10/2021 05:45pm
Category: College Years, Florida Livin', Football
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