3 Ways to Tour a College

Every once in a while, I think about my future. Usually it is something along the lines of: “Will I get my drivers license before the world ends in 2012?” (answer: probably). But sometimes I also think about serious things, like “How will the world ending affect the stock market?” (answer: ask again later).

One of these overwhelming “serious things” is college, because it determines whether or not you can be frustrated you didn’t get a job (and us teens love complaining). Since the job market is so bad that you won’t get a job regardless, at least you can say, “I went to Northern Montana’s Community College, for crying out loud. How could I not have been given the job?!” (answer: you went to a college to learn how to cry out loud, and most employers don’t want someone who goes to tears often).

All they really want is someone who will work for, at most, three almonds a day. So maybe you should have said, “I went to Northern Montana’s Community College, for what? For nothing?!” Then you will you definitely get the job, because you went to a college to learn how to work for “nothing”.

However, to better plan ahead for the future, you can take a tour of these colleges. These afford the same benefits as actually attending the college, because you can then say: “I went to Northern Montana’s Community College *cough* for a tour *end cough*, for crying out loud. How could Phil not have come up with something other than crying out loud for me to say this time?” (answer: because Phil was planning to re-use the same bad joke, something like how you’d have to ask the tour guide to teach you how to cry).

So, as you can see, college tours can be pretty beneficial when it comes to choosing colleges (you can only see this if you are reading this in a fun house mirror upside down). The question is, how do you do it?

Well, there are pretty much three different ways to tour a college. Each of the three ways is unique, except for the fact that two of them are the same as the first one.

The Classic Tour

I say classic not because it is boring, but because it is old (remember, classic=The Red Badge of Courage=Old and Boring=large generalization=forget that last part).

It is tradition for prospective students to come to the college and be shown around by a certified college tour guide. Certified means that the college student giving the tour isn’t hungover.

Often, these students highlight some useful things that you should know about the college. For instance, where the restrooms are, how long the average tour lasts, that they are “really sure” the tour will be over soon, and a few statistics that they are required to share (such as that 100% of students walk through “here” on the way to “class”).

However, you should be aware of the misleading statements that are spoken, as well. When the guide says that “All of the students like that class, the one titled ‘studies of between-the-lines reading in books with only 5 or more syllable words’,” they really mean that all the students had to like that class on facebook to get a passing grade.

The other good thing about taking a guided tour is that you don’t appear as vulnerable to the current college students. Vulnerability is often very bad, because, “This campus? Oh, yeah, I really like how safe it is.” (The campus is actually extremely dangerous, so this means the tour guide is either a sadistic person who enjoys watching people mugged, or a news anchor who enjoys having something to talk about).

The Self-Guided Tour

For people like my great aunt Tabatha (who doesn’t exist) who are too good for the commoner guided tour, there is always the option to guide yourself.

To do this successfully, you need to plan ahead. You should bring a map, a compass, a GPS, freeze-dried energy bricks, and candy bars (for appeasing any attacking college student).

What you then do is you walk around in a circle until you realize, “that building looks familiar,” and then come to the conclusion that you are lost.

Eventually, only days before your energy-bar supply runs out, a guided tour will come along and you will follow them out. On the way out, you will learn many useful things, such as how many students love spending time in the dining hall and crypt.

The “Hey, You” tour

WARNING: Only for the experienced tour-er who is unafraid of getting lost, losing money, or being eaten alive. Also, small parts. Not for children under three, unless they are extremely mature two-year olds. Because, really, there’s as little as a day between the two ages.

This is the most unstructured type of tour. It involves going up to somebody who looks both like a college student and a coherent being (hard to find outside of Disney movies-actually, hard to find coherent people there, too).

You shout, “Hey, You!” at the top of your voice (so it’s really like, “HEY, YOU!”) in case they went to a concert last night and are now mostly deaf.

Then you explain that you will offer them a sum of money (I’d say twenty bucks is probably good, unless they are me in four years time, in which case I’d say a credit card or two will suffice. And no, I don’t believe that your name is “Your Name Here.” Nice try).

Next, they will take the money and run away. If you are sensible, you will chase them. This chase will lead you on a “tour” (in the French sense of the word, as the “Tour de France” is a race) throughout the college, eventually leaving you at a certain point depending in your fitness level.

These ways, as I’ve stated, will all give you a unique sense of the college you are touring. To get a really unique sense, though, touch, smell, listen, look, and, most importantly, taste the colleges you visit. A small piece of grass or a chip of a brick is very easily digested.

The Big Apple: Is there a worse name?

Readers: Continuing with that summer vacation theme, I figured that the one city everyone has visited (or at least heard of) is New York City.  If you’d rather see something other than summer vacation posts, please let me know in the comments.

A Big AppleApple is a great word.  It starts with a nice “Aah” sound, the likes of which you might hear when hiking the Grand Canyon and discovering that your fellow hikers keep disappearing.  Then you have the double P, forming the prefix ‘app’.  This is a pretty well known prefix; app, in Latin, I recall, it means: “Steve Jobs is enslaving the world.”  Finally, to finish it off, there is the “le” making the “ull” sound, which exemplifies the phonetic English language (which is about as phonetic as the word phonetic).

Similarly, New York is a great city.  There are the 60 story-buildings built by chivalrous but egotistic architects who took the childhood game of “My pile of mud is higher than your pile of mud” too far.  You can get cheap Rolexes from friendly people on corners who have so many customers that they run away after every sale.  And don’t forget the subway.  I mean, what else would you do in a city with so many skyscrapers? Obviously, you want to hollow out the ground beneath those towering tons of metal and glass.

Why then, do you ask, is the Big Apple such a bad name?  It seems like they could have done worse.  It could’ve been the Large Lemon, the Gargantuan Grape, or even the Monstrous Melon.  Heck, it didn’t have to be a fruit; it could have been creative, like the Oversized Orange (orange isn’t a fruit.  It’s a color).  Being a teenager, and therefore an expert on anything that isn’t important (like the best apps for my phone), I’d have to say that I’m as qualified for picking apart the nickname “The Big Apple” as my pet fox, affectionately known as “The Donald”, is for presidency of the United States.

Let’s start with the overall message, shall we?  When you think of a “Big Apple”, do you think of: A) The movie industry’s latest attempt to create a sequel with an actual plot, for the movie “James and Giant Peach;” B) The city that never sleeps, and, consequently, didn’t understand “Inception”; C) A different joke about the movie industry that could be made, probably relating to a silent still life depicting a bowl of fruit; D) The latest scientific discovery that ate up millions of taxpayer dollars; or, E) A large apple.  I think of, literally, a big apple.  While this isn’t the most obvious answer, I am a teenager, so the 5 things I think about, in order of importance, are sleep, food, sleep, food, and sleep.  Since I had to be awake to write this, my mind is currently on the subject of food.

The most offensive part of the nickname, though, is the “The.”  It is classic American-ism to assume that this is the only city named “The Big Apple.”  I just checked a scholarly encyclopedia (the Wonderfully Interesting and Kind-of Incorrect -pedia) article, and learned that not one, but three, yes, THREE cities in the US call themselves the “Watermelon Capital of the World.”  They are: Hope, AR; Cordele, GA; and Rush Springs, OK.  As a bonus, Green River, UT, calls itself “The World’s Watermelon Capital.”

All of these towns/cities have one thing in common: they actually grow watermelons.  Because they are all claiming the same thing (being the world’s watermelon capital), these cities could experience hatred and conflict amongst each other, if they were larger.  However, since theses cities have populations smaller than that of the Rhode Island Police Force, we can use this police force to keep peace (they don’t have anything else to do; if the criminal runs more than a few blocks, it falls under the jurisdiction of another state).

Conversely, though, New York City is not known for growing apples.  New York is known for being a cultural and financial center, but we don’t call it “The Big Melting-Pot Bank”.  I did a little more research (making this writing the most-researched paper I have ever written, above my 13-page research report on the lifespan of a bedbug), and learned that the term “The Big Apple” first came into wide usage with Jazz Musicians, usually when they were showing off their bruises from performances to each other.  “That,” would say one, “That is the bruise from a big apple. New Yorkers haven’t heard of throwing tomatoes, which hurt less.”

I would love to continue criticizing the nickname, but, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pitch “The Genetically Modified Prickly-Pear Fruit Gone Wrong” to the mayor of LA.

What can You learn from Hotel Amenities?

Small ShampoosNow, you didn’t read that right.  Not Hotel Anemones, Hotel Amenities.  What’s that, you ask? Come on, you know what it is.  A hotel is a stack of little closets, remodeled to also include a toilet and sometimes a shower.

All right, maybe that’s a little harsh.  I’m sure we’ve all had great hotel experiences, with an inverse relationship to our wallet’s experiences (the more you spend, the better the experience).  Being an investigative reporter myself (read: I blog), I figured I would examine just what it is that hotels offer (in every room but yours) to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

The Bathroom

This seems like the obvious place to start, because it is where anything gone wrong is usually visibly apparent (as opposed to the beds, with who knows what in the mattresses, and the bedbugs, etc.).

First, before I even mention the cute little bottles, I want to cover the hairdryer.  I don’t think I have ever been in a hotel room that didn’t have a hairdryer, and, with that said, I don’t think I have once used a hotel hairdryer to dry my hair.  I’m sure I must be an abnormality, because to justify having hairdryers a large part of the population must use them.

Actually, I don’t know anybody who uses hotel hairdryers.  I think the reason they are included is because it gives the hotel managers something to feel good about.  You know, that the beds might be awful and the heater might be from the 1870’s, but  hey, they’ve got a hairdryer in every room.

Also, while I’m thinking about it, I feel as if hairdryers always give an ominous feeling to the bathroom.  The first thing you always notice is the warning label, the one that usually has an illustration of somebody being electrocuted.  I’m really glad that this hasn’t caught on, because I’d hate to have to mow the lawn while staring at the label on the handle with a picture of some poor fellow losing his foot.

The Bathroom-this time, the little bottles

When I started writing this post, that was the first thing that came to mind: the woven basket right next to the sink with all the little bottles of liquid.  I don’t really have much to say against these little bottles, because they have never harmed me (whereas I have infrequent nightmares about electrocuting myself with a hairdryer).

Personally, I use the little bottles to take revenge on the hotel.  If I feel that they are charging too much, I hide the bottles every night.  Then, when the maid comes in, she is obligated to give me more little bottles.  I’m pretty sure that the cost of replacing the small shampoos is enough that the hotel makes no money off of my stay (unless they buy in bulk, in which case, where can you buy bulk 1-oz shampoo bottles?  TSA-Mart?).

The Beds

This isn’t really an amenity, because I think that in most states it is the norm to have beds in the room (except in New York, where now all they have are large bits of cotton soaked in Raid).  However, it is the comfort factor of the beds that you need to examine.

To start, count the number of blankets.  I have never seen the specific layout of blankets that hotels have at anybody’s house: large comforter, fuzzy thing that is either considered a second comforter or 7-8 sheets stuck together, and l-2 light sheets.

The idea here is that if the beds are covered in enough sheets, you never see just how lumpy the mattress is.  Actually, sometimes the mattresses aren’t so bad; I saw an advertisement in the window of a high-end mattress store explaining that the CEO of a well-known hotel group personally chose that store’s mattresses for his hotels.  Also in the window display were some lamps, a mannequin, and (I kid you not) a bowling ball.

Thus, one can conclude that hotel mattresses are either stuffed with bowling balls, lamps, deformed mannequin-bits, or plastic advertisements.

The Signs

Most hotels will provide you with at least one double-sided sign, with one side saying “Please Don’t Disturb” and the other side saying “Don’t Even Think About Disturbing.”  Depending on the quality of the hotel, you may also have signs that say, “Please Clean this Room,” “New Towels Please,” and “Please Don’t Look Under The Bed.”

The Locks

Again, this can vary from hotel to hotel, but most hotels are nice enough to provide you with at least two locks.  Then you can calculate the danger of the surrounding neighborhood by seeing how many extra locks there are.  These can range from the classic chain-bolt to the “Motel -14” duct tape.  In the case of an emergency, though, you can always threaten an intruder with electrocution by bathtub-hairdryer.

How to Get to the Airport on Time

Plane WatchReaders: Since it is summer, I can’t really write about school, so I have decided to cover something more important for the next couple posts: summer vacations.

Yes, yes, I know that everyone makes fun of airports/airplanes/Disney child stars.  That’s all right, though, because I’m going to make fun of getting to the airport.  The difference between getting to the airport and actually being there is that at the airport, you can blame someone else for your problems, but before you get there you can only blame yourself.  Obviously, this is why people love flying so much.

Now, I could just tell you what it’s like, but I’d rather show you.  So, without further ado, I offer: Google Maps.  Haha, just kidding.  Oh, by the way, it is rumored that along with invading, owning, and dominating many of the internet industries, most recently social networking, Google is going to start their own airline company.

The trick to getting to the airport stress-free involves three things: planning ahead, a car, and car-mounted tactical field missiles.  No, sorry, it only involves two things: a car and car-mounted tactical field missiles.  If you’ve got the missiles, you don’t need to plan ahead.  I’m sure you can use your imagination, so I’m going to skip these instructions (for legal reasons).

The first sign of arrival at the airport appears with a long line of cars, but, since you should have saved a couple military-grade projectiles, you don’t need to worry about this line.

As soon as you reach the drop-off point, you will begin to hear the classic soundtrack (classic because it hasn’t been changed since 1968).  “Please do not leave baggage unattended.  Unattended baggage will be auctioned to the highest bidder,” “If you see unattended baggage, please grab it and take it with you,” and “This area is for loading and unloading passengers only.  Please, no stopping and starting.  Grab those passengers on the fly.”

You will also notice the signs, many of which say things like “United Airways,” “STOP,” and “Welcome home, Smith.”

After the rest of your party is dropped off, someone still needs to park the car.  There are many terrific and time-tested strategies to park the car in the space where it is least likely to be stolen, but my personal favorite is driving the car into a street lamp.  This way, it is not only inseparable from the lamp, but it is also ticketed for reckless parking (which may or may not be a valid offense, depending on the mood of the policeman).

Who would steal a car and either pay an expensive ticket or break the law? Most car thieves don’t want to do either, so they won’t take your car.

The person who parked still needs to get back to the airport, of course, and they can do this one of two ways.  You can steal a car or you can hitch a ride on the shuttle.  Personally, I’d recommend the shuttle, because they usually have a luggage rack where you can stash a stolen car (for when you need to get back from the airport to your car), so you’re less conspicuous.

That’s just about it; all you need to know to arrive at the airport on time.  For you experienced travelers, I offer a challenge: get there on time, but with no car-mounted missiles.  This means you will have to resort to your car horn, bad language, and a rubber-band slingshot to get there on time, because without that, we all know it is impossible.