About a year ago, in my old blog, I put up a pair of book posts. I listed something like 25-30 books that had been especially significant in forming my thinking over the years, with secondary mentions of about the same number (just out of curiosity, did any of you read any of the books I mentioned, on my recommendation?) (It's OK if you didn't; I'm not all ego-invested in it. If you want to be an unenlightened simpleton, that's up to you. . .) (I'm kidding!) I said at the end of those posts that, probably within a month, I'd think of a dozen more books that I'd wish I'd mentioned. Well that wasn't quite true. It's been about a year, and I'm not sure if I made it all the way to twelve or not (for a math guy, I'm really not much into counting. . .)
Since I ended last time with works of fiction, that's where I'll start this time. . .
The Children of Men, by PD James; First of all, if you saw the movie, get it out of your mind before you read the book. This is a very provocative novel about a world in which, for unknown mysterious reasons, there is an utter and complete epidemic of infertility - no-one, anywhere in the world, is getting pregnant, or having babies. Somewhere in the world is the identified Youngest Person on Earth - the last person to be born before the onset of the epidemic. A fascinating study of the psycho-dynamics of a world without a Next Generation. . . And of course, a sharp (albeit understated) critique of the various-and-sundry 'anti-life' ideologies. . .
Contact, by Carl Sagan; Again, if you saw the movie, try to put it out of your mind before you read the book. This is a fascinating book, and pretty good Science Fiction; and all the moreso, coming from an author for whom writing science fiction wasn't his 'day job'. On the face of it, the plot revolves around an inter-stellar message picked up by earthly radio-telescopes (Sagan was very into the whole search-for-extraterrestrial-intelligence thing). But it ends up touching on themes of human nature, and our 'Place In the Universe', as well as assorted other 'religious' themes. The book is all the more interesting for having Carl Sagan as its author; Sagan, who never made any bones about his disdain for religion, wrote a very 'religious' novel. At the climax of the story (I suppose I should give a Spoiler Alert here), our heroes encounter the Caretakers - alien beings who are ultra-wise, deeply moral, all-knowing, and powerful enough to manipulate galaxies. They are super-intelligent, but also personal. You don't get to see them as they really are (you couldn't handle that), but only as they deem it best to show themselves. The impression slowly dawns that they are just . . . like . . . God. Carl Sagan had little use for conventional ideas of God, yet in his novel, he gives us aliens who are a pretty good first-order approximation of God. Very interesting. . .
OK, back to the non-fiction. . .
One By One From the Inside Out, Glen Loury; One of the most insightful books I've come across on the topic of race and the status of blacks in America. In his prologue, Loury (who is black) states, "The most important challenges and opportunities that confront me derive not from my racial condition, but rather from my human condition." Amen. And he goes from there. White racism, says Loury, is not dead, but it is no longer the main impediment to black progress. Much of what will make for black progress lies within the control of black people themselves, and is more moral than anything else. He is also sharp on the limitations of ideology - "Both [liberal and conservative ideologies] smack of a mechanistic determinism wherein the mysteries of human motivation are susceptible to calculated intervention." I love books that train me to 'think outside the box', and this one did.
Time for Truth, Os Guiness; I'd have loved this book just for one marvelous quote (among many) that I could take from it - "Truth is True, even if no one believes it." But Os Guinness has a few more things to say on the topic than that. Mainly that the devaluing of Truth in our culture - the apparent loss of the very notion that Truth exists independently of us, and that we should conform our minds and wills to the Truth, rather than the other way around - cannot fail to have dire consequences; Truth will have the last word. Such pop-notions as 'true for you/me' cannot be other than nonsensical. I might have wished that Guinness had given a few examples showing that the Loss of Truth isn't simply a 'leftward' phenomenon; it would seem less like a partisan screed (it isn't, but it could be susceptible to such a reading). But as Cardinal Ratzinger used to say, before he was pope, "Truth is not determined by a majority vote." Or Solzhenitsyn - "One word of Truth outweighs the world." And Os Guinness concurs.
Psychology as Religion, Paul Vitz; Vitz, a practicing psychologist, confronts the 'ultimate pretensions' of what he calls Self Theory, which has been the dominant, popular version of psychology since the 70s. Self Theory has tended to claim for itself a Golden Key to Meaning, reinforced by its apparent ability to claim for itself the mantle of Science, which, in our present age, is taken as the final arbiter of Truth. Vitz demonstrates convincingly that these 'religious' aspects of Self Theory are not merely anti-religious, but bad science, resting on unsupported hypotheses (sort of a Proof by Persistent Vehement Assertion). Vitz is even more devastating when he turns to consider the outcomes of Self Theory, and the kind of society that is composed of sovereign individual selves, each a god in his own universe, to whom self-denial is a foreign or even evil concept. And the past 30-40 years have not given happy testimony in that regard. . .
The Idea of a University, by John Henry Newman. Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), who was, at the time of writing this book (1858), a fairly recent convert from Evangelical Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, and was also trying to found a Catholic university in Dublin, gives a solid account of how the Life of the Mind relates to Christian faith. Suffice it to say that he doesn't view the two as opposites; his maxim, 'Truth cannot be contrary to Truth' is one that I have worked to make my own.
Next, a pair of books by the martyr to the Nazis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
The Cost of Discipleship has justly acquired something of a reputation as a 'modern Christian classic'. His theme of 'cheap grace' is a direct challenge to a lot of what gets put forth in 21st-century America. Rather, as Bonhoeffer puts it, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." Christian discipleship isn't supposed to be easy or comfortable. And Bonhoeffer, who spent most of WWII in a Nazi prison, and was killed as the Third Reich was in its death throes, is a striking example of matching his deeds to his words.
I have also greatly enjoyed Bonhoeffer's book, Life Together, which is Bonhoeffer's vision of Christian community life, and thus of interest to me for obvious reasons. The main idea that I have taken from Bonhoeffer is that, for all the zeal that we might have for Christian community life, we cannot forget that we, and all our 'brethren' are nonetheless still fallen human beings. "He who loves his vision of the Christian community more than he loves the Christian community [ie, the actual men and women who comprise the Christian community], becomes a destroyer of the Christian community." And I have seen the existential truth of that on multiple occasions.
A Return to Modesty, Wendy Shalit; Ms. Shalit makes bold to say out loud what is becoming all-too-empirically-obvious - that the 'emperor' of the Sexual Revolution has no clothes (uh, no pun intended) (really); and that young women are disproportionately bearing the costs of that tragic bit of 'social progress'. Alas, in spite of all the Persistent Vehement Assertion to the contrary, it turns out that men and women aren't put together quite the same; it turns out to make a difference that women are the ones who have the babies. And that accounts, at least in part, for why women are 'wired' for permanence in their sexual relationships. And it is passing strange that the personal and social costs of treating them otherwise - depression, failed marriages (or the increasing incapacity to even form marriages) - are so willingly accepted. . .
A few years back, I received a book in the mail - Couples In Love, by John R. Waiss. The book was sent to me by the author himself (who is a Catholic priest), asking me to review the book for Amazon.com; I don't even remember any more how he happened to find my name, much less why he thought I'd be a fitting reviewer for his book. But review it I did. It is a fine book, presenting the late pope's Theology of the Body in an accessible, 'dialog' format. Fr. Waiss thanked me for the review, and other than checking the 'helpful' votes every so often, and occasionally recommending the book to friends, I really haven't thought about it all that much in the meantime. . .
Until earlier this year, when Fr. Waiss asked me to review his second book, titled Born to Love, which is a similar 'dialog-format' presentation of Catholic teaching relating to homosexuality. I wasn't at all sure I wanted to step into that quarrel, but I told Fr. Waiss I would at least read it, so I did. And I was glad I did. Fr. Waiss does probably the best I've seen at 'speaking the Truth in love'; which ain't always easy to do, when homosexuality is the subject matter. There isn't room enough here for much of an in-depth discussion, but Fr. Waiss did an amazing job for me of getting me to just step back from the ideological 'Culture War' shouting matches, and see instead the people - persons, like me, made in God's image and likeness, and like me, engaged in the moral task of trying to make their way through this world with integrity. And, in that context, he also gets me to confront my own sinfulness and lack of love, and ask myself why I should think that homosexual sins are somehow more offensive to God than are my own. . .
Not long after I read Born to Love, I picked up Sexual Authenticity, by Melinda Selmys, which is, as its subtitle proclaims, 'An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism'. Or, as I think of it, 'Augustine's Confessions Meet the Theology of the Body' (and yeah, I was even sorta wondering to myself just what was up with all the books on 'Catholicism and Homosexuality'). Selmys is simply amazing in the way that she weaves the experiences of her own life into penetratingly deep insight into human nature and sexuality. Having spent several years of her young life as a partnered lesbian, her mind is remarkably 'free of cant', and she calmly points out the fatuities put forth by both sides of the 'Culture War'. Like Fr. Waiss, she puts homosexuality into a full human context, with all the fallen-ness that goes with that (and of course, I am no less fallen than anyone else). And in the course of all this, she tells one of the more brutally intellectually-honest 'conversion stories' I've ever encountered. . .
And oh, heck - just for fun (and to keep this post from just being totally woolly and highbrow), I'll mention Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs, from which I've probably gotten more belly laughs per word than anything else I've ever read. I do feel duty-bound, though, to repeat Dave's warning at the beginning of the book, that it will reawaken bad songs that are lying dormant in the far back reaches of your brain, causing it to "repeat [them] over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER, sometimes for days, until you want to commit suicide by driving off a cliff, except you can't remember where you left your car keys." So, fair warning. But I got multiple huge fits of laughter from recalling to mind just how BAD some of the songs of my wayward youth really were - songs like 'MacArthur Park' (which, incidentally - Spoiler Alert! - came out in Dave's survey as the #1 awful song of all time), or 'In the Year 2525', or 'Muskrat Love' or 'Timothy', or 'Honey', or. . . you get the idea. Heck, even my musical idol, Paul McCartney, gets skewered a couple times (and deservedly so; there's just no way to make ". . . this ever-changing world in which we live in. . ." sound other than insipid) (which is too bad, because, from a purely musical standpoint, 'Live and Let Die' is a pretty cool song) (but I digress). So, with all due caution, I encourage you to check it out. But don't blame me for what happens when you do. . .
So there you go; I hope that's enough to get you all by until I can scrape together another one. . .
Monday, September 13, 2010
OK, I've been debating with myself for a while whether to post this bit or not. But my friend Lime went ahead and posted (a while back, by now) about a long-ago bathroom remodeling, and it poked my brain for this story, which I hope you'll find at least mildly entertaining. . . ------------------------- In my young life, I've installed and/or reseated something on the order of half a dozen toilets. Really, it's not terribly difficult, if you've already got a working flange in place - you just have to undo a couple nuts around the base, and disconnect the water supply to the tank, then put down a wax gasket, reseat the toilet, hook everything back up, and you're good to go. I did my first one under my dad's supervision, one Christmas break when I was in college. Since I've been a homeowner, I've done a few more on my own behalf. With eight kids, it's not unheard-of for miscellaneous sundry toys to end up lodged within the bowels (HAH!) of the toilet. On multiple occasions, I've had to fish various action figures out of the toilet. One or two of my kids have virtually taken on research projects investigating the toilet-clogging properties of various toys. . . I love all of my children. But their toys, stuck inside the toilet? Not so much. I have to say, though, that by the sixth time or so that you have to unseat and reseat the toilet, in order to dislodge He-Man from the porcelain innards, it's not quite so daunting as the first couple were. . . ------------------------- The nastiest toilet job I ever had to do, though, had nothing to do with any of the kids. In fact, for quite a while, I had no idea what was going on. Out of the blue, with no apparent rhyme or reason, our toilet developed an intermittent clog. It would flush just fine for several days, and then, without warning, it would be completely plugged. Not slow, or struggling to flush - when the lever was pushed, the bowl would instantly fill to overflowing, as though no water at all was going down the drain. Which, as you might imagine, made for some fairly exciting times in our bathroom; you never quite knew when The Clog would strike, causing frantic screams to emanate from behind the bathroom door. I rigged up a poor-man's toilet snake out of a coat-hanger, and that usually did the trick, inducing the toilet to drain, to the relief of everyone involved (except the person who ended up having to mop up the floor, which sometimes was, um, chunkier than others. . .) And, often as not, a Clog Episode would be followed by several days of normal operation, which would lull us into a false sense of normalcy, until the next Clog struck. ------------------------- The day inevitably came when none of the unclogging magic worked. The toilet overflowed, the bathroom floor flooded, I poked at the drain with my coat-hanger-snake, and nothing changed. By this time, we'd been living with the unpredictability of The Clog for a while, and the experience was getting old. Given that The Clog wasn't playing nice this time, I resignedly shrugged my shoulders and figured it was finally time to deal with this thing once and for all. I ran out to the hardware store and picked up a new wax gasket, and also a valve to replace the simple angle connector between the main house supply and the supply tube to the toilet tank (plumbing jobs are so much easier with local shutoffs). After hand-emptying the toilet bowl (I have no comment on the 'chunkiness' of the contents), I disconnected the supply tube, unscrewed the nuts holding the base to the floor, and lifted the toilet off the floor. I took it out to the back yard, where I could use the garden hose to get some liquid 'throughput' going. First, though, I turned it upside down and poked at the drain tube from the bottom, to see if I could determine what was going on any better from the opposite end. I heard a metallic *tink* from inside the toilet. Well, that was different; maybe now we were making some progress. I poked at it some more with my hanger-snake; I kept getting the odd metallic *tink*, but nothing came out. I detached the tank from the bowl, so I could more easily flip the bowl around to try different angles. Finally, I turned on the outdoor faucet and ran the garden hose through the drain tube. I heard a little rattling noise, and a shiny golden object fell out of the bowl. It was a large-mouth canning lid. Suddenly I understood. The canning lid had gotten wedged at the tight corner in the porcelain drain tube, and acted as a kind of random butterfly valve. Sometimes, it would be 'open', and the bowl contents could flow past it virtually as if it weren't there. Sometimes, soggy toilet paper would catch on it, and things would clog up and run slowly, until the soggy paper broke up and got washed down the drain. But if the lid turned sideways, across the drain tube, nothing at all would go down, and the bowl would rapidly fill to overflowing. I grabbed up the damning evidence and took it in the house, asking Jen if she had any idea how a canning lid would've gotten lodged inside the toilet. Instantly, her eyes got as big as saucers. She related a story of how, a few weeks previously, she'd retrieved a quart of home-canned peaches from the pantry, that had gone bad, so she'd just dumped them down the toilet. She vaguely remembered, since the topic had come up, hearing a small metallic noise as she'd dumped the contents of the jar, but she hadn't thought any more of it, figuring that, if she'd dumped the lid, it would just go down the drain anyway. Which, obviously, it hadn't. I sighed heavily. At least the mystery had been solved. And all that remained was to put the toilet back together, and all would be well. I took the bowl and tank back into the bathroom. I placed the wax gasket on the flange, seated the bowl onto it, and bolted the base to the flange. Next, I situated the tank on the back of the bowl, with the rubber seal in between. I inserted the bolts that held the tank to the bowl flange, and finger-tightened them. Then I got my wrench and screwdriver and tightened the flange bolts more securely. The tank was still pretty floppy and wobbly on the back of the bowl, so I went to tighten the bolts a bit more. Then. . . *POP!* I didn't know what had popped, but I was pretty sure that there weren't supposed to be any POP! noises at that stage of the process, and whatever it was, it almost certainly wasn't good. A second later, a chunk of the porcelain flange from the bowl, through which the flange bolt attached the tank to the base, fell to the ground. I stared at it with stupefied horror, knowing exactly what this meant - I had just, through my own overzealous ignorant stupidity, broken the toilet flange, rendering the entire toilet useless. For a minute or two, I just stared at it, with my mouth agape. Finally, I made my comment. "SHIIIITTTT!" (Well, you know, I was working on a toilet. . .) Truthfully, I didn't have much time to wallow in my self-loathing - it was getting late, and if I was going to procure a new toilet, I needed to hurry. The guy at the plumbing-supply store was very compassionate, and allowed as to how most every do-it-yourself plumber he knew had popped a porcelain flange at some point. I got the new toilet home (requiring the third wax gasket that I'd seen that day), got it seated and hooked up, and finally all was well. (Well, to get 'technical' for just a second, the new toilet had a different 'setback' than the old one had, so I wound up with a gap of a couple inches between the tank and the wall, which, in the fullness of time required me to build a little 'support bracket' between the tank and the wall. But, at least we had a functioning toilet.) But between my dear wife and her rotten peaches, and my own overzealous bolt-tightening, it ended up being one of the, um, more frustrating home projects I've ever done. . .
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Living as we do in a university town (well, we don't actually live in the university town, but we can walk there from our house), late August and early September of every year marks by The Return of the Students. And in honor of the beginning of the new school year, I thought I'd regale you with a few tales from my college years. . . ------------------------- I don't know what it was like where any of you all went to school, but at my school, pranks are a time-honored tradition, ranging in complexity from the simple 'pennying-in' (in which the prankster(s) wedges pennies between the prankee's door and the door frame, thus causing greatly-increased friction between the tongue of the latch and its corresponding hole in the frame, rendering it impossible to turn the door knob), or removing the microphone from the prankee's phone (which becomes much more prankish when followed up by a call to the prankee's phone), or 'beer-canning', in which a 'wall' of beer cans was constructed, leaning slightly into the prankee's door, so that when the door is opened, the cans fell loudly onto the linoleum-tile floor, all the way up to considerably more, um, elaborate pranks. The stories at my school have come down through the generations - the time a group of guys disassembled their buddy's Volkswagen and reassembled it in his dorm room, for example. Or the guys who, when their buddy went home for the weekend, removed all the furniture from his room, and replaced it with a patch of sod and a small tree; when they went down to the river that flows through the middle of the campus and kidnapped a duck, which they then leashed to the tree, the prank was complete, and awaited only the prankee's return to his room. Being a loyal member of the student body, I tried to do my part to carry on the grand tradition. Two pranks in particular stand out on my resume. You would be very kind to indulge my retelling of them. . . ------------------------- In my freshman dorm, there were various groups of guys who tended to hang out together on the weekends. One group of guys usually went out to hit the bars, staying until the bar closed (those were the days when 18 was the legal drinking age in Michigan, so virtually all college students were legal drinkers). I was usually in with a group of guys who played Hearts or Risk until the wee hours. So that, when the bar-hoppers returned to the dorm around 3AM, we were usually the only ones still awake to greet them. One such night, we were just finishing a game of Risk when the bar-guys returned, loud and boisterous. We left our game briefly to exchange greetings. One guy, named Mike, was particularly, shall we say, worse for wear. We watched as Mike staggered down the hall toward his room at the far end of the hall, bouncing off one wall and then the other, until, about two-thirds of the way there, he passed out in the middle of the hall. Now, at this point I should tell you that the particular dorm I was living in was something like a 'science dorm'; which, for purposes of this story, meant that many of us shared the same classes. Which became the immediate occasion for the hatching of our prank. As we stood in the hall contemplating Mike's prone-and-unconscious form, it came together. We quickly returned to our rooms and switched from our Friday-night casual attire (which, in the men's wing of our dorm, involved more skivvies than some of you might want to think about) into our more everyday going-to-class clothes (by the mid-70s the distinction could be pretty subtle, but it was there). Grabbing armloads of textbooks, we gathered around Mike's unconscious form and shook him awake. "Mike!" we yelled. "Are you still here?!? Wake up, man! We've got a Chemistry mid-term in 20 minutes! You just slept through the whole weekend, man!" Mike, now awake, but not appreciably less drunk than he'd been fifteen minutes previously, stared back at us, uncomprehending. "Huh?" he said. So we repeated our line, and slowly, our message seeped into Mike's consciousness. "Are you shitting me?" he inquired. "No, man - you slept through the whole weekend, and now we've got a mid-term in 20 minutes!" Mike was exceedingly dismayed as this knowledge worked its way into his brain. Rising to his feet, he began cursing himself. "Aw, MAN! I can't believe I did that! I didn't study at all! I'm gonna fail for sure!" Staggering the rest of the way to his room, he stripped and got into the shower (which he set at something like 32.6 degrees Fahrenheit), in a forlorn attempt to wake up and/or sober up. A steady stream of loud expletives emanated from his shower. In the meantime, our merry band of pranksters returned to our rooms and reverted to our more 'skivvy-ish' Friday-night attire, then wandered slowly down toward Mike's room. Finding him in the icy shower, we professed our confusion - "Mike, what are you doing? It's 3 o'clock Saturday morning!" Mike looked back at us, still not notably soberer than he'd been when he got there. Slowly, the realization dawned on him that he'd been had. And, in his drunken haze, that realization enraged him. He charged out of the shower, chasing us all down the hall. But of course, he was still drunk. Besides which, he was dripping wet, running on a linoleum-tile floor. So he didn't chase us far before he slipped and fell, right up against a door that someone else had helpfully beer-canned earlier, thus causing the intended metallic racket (it just hadn't necessarily been intended for him). It was all too much for poor drunken Mike to deal with, and he burst into tears, creating one of the more pathetic scenes to which I have ever been a witness - a drunk, naked, wet guy, sobbing in the middle of a pile of beer cans. . . Or is that just mean of me? ------------------------- A couple years later, I was living in a different dorm with my buddy Rich. Early in the spring, we had one of those delightful unseasonably-warm days, the kind where people throw open their windows just to smell the fresh air for the first time since before the winter. Adjacent to our dorm was a women's dorm, and that very fact was more than some of the young men in our dorm could handle. One pair of guys in particular were especially obnoxious, keeping up a steady loud stream of obscenities directed toward the young ladies next door. After enduring this stream of vulgarity for as long as we figured we could (and longer than we figured we should have to), Rich and I hatched a plan. Looking out our window, we ascertained the room from which the disturbance was emanating. In fact, the guys would lean out their window whenever they would yell at the girls. So Rich, who had a bit of the daredevil in him, climbed up onto the roof from the balcony at the end of our floor, and I passed a bucket of water up to him. The plan, such as it was, was that, the next time our guys leaned out their window to yell at the girls next door, Rich would douse them. I watched from our window as Rich took his position, lying with his head and shoulders just over the edge of the roof, waiting for our prey to reappear. Except they never did. Apparently their mood had passed. So Rich and I decided to abort the plan, and dump the bucket harmlessly onto the grass below. Except that, instead of dumping the bucket away from the building, Rich dumped it inward, toward the building. So that a cascade of water fell in through the still-open window of our erstwhile disturbers-of-the-peace. At that point, the pace of events quickened dramatically. In short order, two very angry guys came running up the stairway to our floor, from the one below, where our 'friends' lived. First, they went to the room directly above theirs, only to find a very bewildered resident with closed, but very wet windows, wondering (a) why his windows were wet, and (b) why these angry guys were banging on his door. Rich, sensing that the moment might not be opportune for him to climb back down onto the balcony, nevertheless handed the bucket down to a freshman who lived in the room next door to ours, and who was in some sympathy with our aims. So that, when the still-angry guys from the floor below came back down the hall, wondering who had doused their room, if the guy above them hadn't, they suddenly encountered our young man holding a bucket on the balcony, providing them with a new target for their rage. It turned out that they had a TV set in their room, which they kept directly below the open window through which Rich had poured the contents of our bucket. Or, by that point, I should more properly refer to it as a former TV set, since the watery cascade had, as they say in the industry, gazorped it. And they were ready to do some serious bodily harm to the poor kid holding the bucket. I knew it wouldn't be right to let the kid take a beating for our misbegotten prank, so I casually wandered out to 'see what the commotion was about', trying to adopt the role of peacemaker, and, you know, 'defuse the situation'. Meanwhile, other guys were running up and down the hall, breathlessly announcing that "There's someone on the roof!" Which was sort-of working against my peacemaking, defusing efforts, and moving the angry guys to suspect that my own motives were, shall we say, less than pure. Rich, meanwhile, had gone to the other end of the dorm and climbed down to the balcony at the opposite end of the building. So that he came sauntering down the hall from the opposite direction, wondering what all the commotion was about. Perhaps they discerned something a trifle ungenuine in his demeanor, but in fairly short order, he became the new object of their wrath. The situation was touch-and-go for a while, until one of the guys cooled down a little and convinced the other one that beating the stuffing out of us wasn't worth the trouble, so they left and went back to their room, while the three of us heaved a heavy sigh of relief. When I explained the situation to Rich (he hadn't known about the blown TV), he more clearly understood the nature of their wrath. So he went to the party store across the street from the dorm, and bought a peace-offering of beer, which he and I took to their room. They accepted it, and then told us to never let them see our faces again. Which, so far as it depended on me, I was only too happy to oblige. . . ------------------------- The story doesn't reach its final conclusion until a couple months later. I was returning to the dorm after my last class of the day, and there were three police cars, lights flashing, parked in front of our dorm. As I stood there, wondering what was going on, the police emerged from the building, with our two erstwhile victims in handcuffs. They put them into the back seats of separate cars, and drove off, leaving me still wondering what had happened. The next day's newspaper contained a front-page article describing a major on-campus drug bust. Two guys had been arrested who were doing something on the order of $50,000/year (and these were honest-to-goodness mid-70s dollars, not the meek little things we have today) out of their dorm room. And then my eyes got real big when the article went on to note that the dorm they were taken from was ours. After that, Rich and I got a huge laugh (with a hefty dose of the willies mixed in) from the idea that we'd fritzed the TV of a couple of major on-campus drug dealers. . .