Nov. 25, 2002

Since I’ve begun a longer commute to work, I’ve found myself listening to talk radio more often. A lot of talk-radio hosts are either overly biased or downright obnoxious, but I enjoy listening to Michael Smerconish on 1210 AM during my hour-long ride home. The guy is intelligent, even-tempered, and respects the opinions of his listeners, unlike a lot of other blowhards on the airwaves.

On a whim, I decided to place my first call to his show today. The topic of the day was “houses with history” — those that have been the site of previous criminal or paranormal activity — and whether real estate agents have an obligation to notify potential buyers of such past occurrences.

While on the air, I told a brief story from college. While searching for an apartment for our senior year, two friends and I found one apartment listing that was in a great location, but the cheap monthly rent seemed too good to be true. A realtor picked us up and drove us to the apartment, but on the way over, she said, “There’s something I should tell you about this place we’re going to see.” (Here’s the catch, I thought.) “A student was murdered in the apartment about 20 years ago.”

We were surprised to hear that, especially since State College is known as a very safe college town. We chose to see the place anyway and decided against renting the place, but mainly because the place was a dump. Its creepy history certainly didn’t help, though. Before we left the rental property, I couldn’t resist asking the realtor, “Is the chalk outline from the murder victim included in the rent?”

Anyway, Smerconish expressed his own surprise at the unusual murder in Happy Valley and posed a few good follow-up questions for me. I was just glad that I managed to get through the conversation without sounding like an idiot or rambling on too long. A pleasant experience, all in all — maybe you’ll hear me on the air again sometime.

[ No. 34 ]

Nov. 20, 2002

Here’s a pet peeve for you. On most trips to my cramped apartment mailbox, I’m greeted by a heaping pile of junk mail. More than ever before, I receive tons of circulars — department store mini-catalogs, supermarket coupon booklets, and so on — which tend to obscure important and time-sensitive items such as bills and bank statements.

One of these days, my monthly car lease bill will hide between the pages of a useless Veterans Day Sale booklet, I’ll accidentally throw both of them in the trash, and my credit report will immediately go to hell — all because some store is selling argyle socks 20% off for TWO DAYS ONLY.

[ No. 33 ]

Nov. 1–3, 2002

Met up with a bunch of friends for a weekend in State College. Had a great dinner at the timeless Tavern, braved the chilly weather for a tailgate replete with quality beer and good food, and enjoyed watching the Nittany Lions’ 18–7 victory over the Fighting Illini.

Considering the massive crowds in Happy Valley on a typical football weekend, I was surprised to bump into two former coworkers and a friend from our Avalon shore house within an hour of each other on Saturday night! (To quote the refrain from my days in Orlando, it’s a small world after all.)

[ No. 32 ]

Nov. 1, 2002

I rarely post links to other people’s commentary. But I couldn’t resist passing along this article — and given the name of this site, can you blame me?

Learn about the “The Romance of the Monorail” on Slate.

[ No. 31 ]