October 2006

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Here are some caffeine stats I got off the internets/wikipedia so they must be true. I was surprised that Dr. Pepper has more than Coke. I expected it would have less. This threatens Dr. Pepper’s status as my first string fast food beverage because I often eat lunch later in the afternoon to avoid lunch crowds — and I try to avoid caffeine later in the day because it keeps me awake at night. It is unclear at this time how we at 174Days will resolve this crisis. I have my top people working out success paradigm algorithms as we speak. We can only hope the chickens do not come home to roost on this one. In any case, I do believe Dr. Pepper’s quest for world domination is imperiled.

Flavor Volume Dose (mg)
NoDoz, max strength 1 tablet 200
Coffee, brewed 8 fl oz 135
NoDoz, regular 1 tablet 100
Coffee, espresso 2 fl oz 100
Red Bull 8.3 fl oz 80
Mountain Dew 12 fl oz 55
Dr. Pepper 12 fl oz 41
Mr. Pibb 12 fl oz 41
Pepsi 12 fl oz 38
Coca-Cola Classic* 12 fl oz 34
Barqs Root Beer 12 fl oz 23
Coffee, decaffeinated 8 fl oz 5
7-UP 12 fl oz 0
Dad’s Root Beer 12 fl oz 0

*Previously, Coke reported 45mg. In October 2001, they reported a new number, 34mg. Some intrepid reporter should look into this.

I believe in regrets. I enjoy revisiting my own personal history on occasion and asking myself what ifs. Here are a few things I would change if I could go back to college and do it all over again:

  1. I would take a year off before college. It never occurred to me that this was an option. I was not as physically or socially mature as my peers and that year away would have helped me catch up a bit. Equally as important, it would have made me a better student and person by exposing me to more “real life” before college. I favor a year or two of post-high school national service for all teenagers. I know how much it would have benefited me and I think it would be good for the country.
  2. Sometimes I wish I had gone to a smaller school with more of an undergraduate focus. But Stanford is a great school and I can’t say I regret going there.
  3. I would join the newspaper staff. I did go to an orientation meeting or two but it didn’t grab me. I wish it had. The newspaper would have been a great way to get involved in the campus community.
  4. I would go to San Francisco more often.
  5. I would visit my friends at other colleges more than I did.
  6. Less daydreaming in the library and more studying.

Certainly there are also some smaller things I would do differently. For instance, I would focus more on girl X instead of girl Y. I would never take class Z. But the above are the big things.

One sunny California day toward the end of my senior year, my friends Manny, Mike and I were out in the park behind the dorm. It was 2pm on a Tuesday or something like that. Most of the rest of the country was toiling away in its workaday existence. Manny had set up his stereo on his windowsill and The Doors shared their mellow with us as we threw a football back and forth. We were about to graduate, about to leave our sheltered lives at Stanford and step out into the real world — but for that moment in time we luxuriated in our charmed lives. I remember thinking at the time, “Man, college is great.” And it was.

I was very excited about college from an intellectual perspective. I eagerly anticipated a whole new level of learning, and I did find that, but only infrequently on a class-by-class basis, not across the board as I had hoped. I was so keyed up about college I read most of the suggested reading list the school sent incoming frosh the summer before we arrived. The list came in the form of a booklet. Each page of the booklet had a professor’s picture along with a blurb about the book the professor recommended. There were only 4-5 book recommendations total and I remember three:

1. The Arrow in the Blue by Arthur Koestler.  An autobiography by a European writer and politico spanning the first part of his life and the early 20th century, this is the one that sounded the most interesting to me.  But for that reason, it’s the one I didn’t read. I figured reading the other ones would be good for me.

2. Blood, Bread, and Poetry by Adrienne Rich. This is a great book to have incoming frosh to read if you want to perpetuate the stereotype of the man-hating militant lesbian. And as I remember, it was poorly written and poorly argued. I should have seen this book’s inclusion in the recommended reading as the red flag it was. I was about to enter the leftist birthing chamber of Political Correctness where lovers of this book and its ethos were the lunatics in charge of the asylum. (More on that another time!)

3. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings. This book was exactly what I had hoped it would be, an interesting book on a subject I knew very little about, women’s rights in America from the perspective of black women. I think I underlined something on every page. (I was an out-of-control underliner/highlighter for many years.) This book also taught me about discrimination within minority groups — here was an entire class of people that was discriminated against by all men, black and white, and was also discriminated against by whites. It was eye-opening in the same way Spike Lee’s School Daze was eye-opening. (That movie in part addresses discrimination among blacks based on lightness of skin color.) I had done the perhaps typical white boy delving into Richard Wright and the black experience but that was mostly focused on black men. By the way, Richard Wright is really just another Holden Caulfield, isn’t he? Is he a popular writer because he represents the black experience or because he’s an outsider and we all go through our outsider phase? Or do we love him twice as much as an outsider because he is black? Anyway, this was a good book.

Each dorm also had a recommended book. My dorm’s book was The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre. I loved this book! It was a story of immense human suffering but also showed the power of the human spirit, the will to survive. Before college, I had spent a couple weeks visiting my brother in Senegal where he was in the Peace Corps. I had also spent some time in Juarez, Mexico on a youth work trip with my church. The City of Joy went a long way to helping me make sense of what I had seen in Senegal and Juarez. I think The City of Joy was one of the top five most influential books of my college career, maybe even my life.

So those are the books Stanford thought would best prepare me for the late 20th century college experience. My Dad’s bookshelf still holds a copy of The Arrow in the Blue. One of these days I’ll read it. What books would you have incoming frosh read today?

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