Monday, August 24, 2009

The 1,000-word freshman guide to college

I entered this essay for a Wisconsin convocation contest this summer. I didn't win, but I still want people to read it. All I would have won was a $100 gift card to the book store and a chance to read it in front of UW's new freshman class anyway. Hope you like it:

People say that college is the best time of your life. They’re right; if you do it properly. As a senior here at Madison, I’ve taken some mental notes along the way, things that I’ve either learned from experience or wish I had done during my first three years at UW. If I could start over, I’d do it in a heartbeat; I’ve already tried, but my sister who’s going to be a freshman at Michigan wouldn’t switch places with me. Honestly though, I wouldn’t want to be a Wolverine anyway.

Perhaps the most important aspect to success in college is meeting people. Networking really is the key to life. You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It’s entirely true. Madison provides you with incredible opportunities to meet people from all over the world, with different areas of interest and diverse backgrounds. Expand your horizons. Force yourself out of your comfort zone; that’s how you grow as an individual. If you see someone sitting at a table by themselves, go talk to them. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Create as many contacts as you can; they’ll come in handy some day, believe me.

Along those same lines, keep in touch with your contacts. In today’s world, you have no excuse not to. With Facebook, G-chat, E-mail, instant messenger, text messaging, BBMs, Twitter, you can keep in touch with everyone with just a simple click or two. Do it. You’ll never know when that person can come in handy down the road. Make contacts and keep in touch with them. It’s the key to life, I’m telling you.

Don’t be afraid to self-promote. Facebook, blogs, other forms of social media provide a great way for you to show the world what you can do. It’s not bragging; it’s merely self-marketing. You never know who stumbles upon your work or ideas and likes what you do. That too can come in handy some day.

I have a theory, it’s called: Finding the Dork in You. This is no longer high school. The “uncool” things to do no longer exist. If you were a math wiz but never would have been caught dead at a math club meeting, times have changed. Find what drives you. If you like biology, real estate, biochemical engineering, poetry, go explore your options here at UW. If there’s not already a club, start your own. It’s no longer uncool. Find the dork in you. Mine was writing. I wrote for The Badger Herald for my entire first three years here, skipping football pre-games to cover the team from the press box. I had to make sacrifices, but it’s opened some pretty cool doors for me down the road. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Diversify your skill set. You are like a stock portfolio; you want to diversify your assets. Gather as many skills as you can. If you’re a writer, take an economics class. If you’re into business, take computer science. You’ll never know when different skills will come in handy for you and it’s important to be well-rounded and not narrow-minded. Imagine if you devoted all your time to newspaper design or VCR production. Those industries don’t last forever. Become well-versed in many areas, and you’ll be an asset to any future employer you encounter.

In order to be as knowledgeable as you possibly can in as many areas as possible, you need to teach yourself. The best way to do that is to read. Not necessarily books either. Read online. Read about politics, economics, chemistry, if that’s your thing. Just understand the world in which you live. I can’t tell you how valuable that is. Learning in class is one thing, but the kids who are best equipped to succeed outside the classroom are the ones who went above and beyond, reading, learning on their own time. Remember, you don’t fill in multiple choice bubbles in the real world.

Aside from learning on your own and in the classroom, talk to your professors. Not just your TAs, either, I mean professors. This is my biggest regret of my first three years of college; I rarely talked to my professors. Not only could it potentially help you go from a B to an AB or an AB to an A, but you’ll understand the material tenfold, which could perhaps spark a future interest that you may not have originally thought of.

I’ve come up with another theory, that 94 percent of success in all life activities stems from confidence and experience. All right, 94 is an arbitrary number, but so much of success in all endeavors comes from those two things. Practice really does make perfect and confidence in yourself breeds others confidence’ in you.

In order to stay confident in yourself, you want to stay in shape. This is overlooked by so many college kids. Use the SERF, eat right, stay healthy. If you look good and feel good, your confidence will stay high and you’ll take yourself to new heights. It’s easy to drink too much beer and put on that proverbial freshman 15. It’s avoidable; you just have to be proactive and smart.

And lastly, have some fun. Go out on Tuesdays if you want, assuming you have no Wednesday exam. I told you this is going to be the best four years of your life. I wasn’t kidding. I’m pissed I only have two semesters left.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Final day at NESN:

Sheffield Doubts He'll Be a Met By Month's End

Nate Robinson Arrested, Tweets Roadside

Ahh, I'm a pioneer in Wisconsin student radio

In the history books forever. First live football broadcast in school history. Pretty cool.

Damien Woody Throws Former Coach Mangini Under the Bus

Now that former Jets head coach Eric Mangini is roaming the Cleveland Browns’ sideline, the cat is starting to be let out of the bag in the Meadowlands during the newfound Rex Ryan era, something Jets guard Damien Woody, for one, is relieved about.

"Here I am 31 years old, I've got my own kids, and I'm married, and here's someone that's not that much older than me -- or whatever the case may be -- telling me what I can and can't do," Woody told the Los Angeles Times in reference to Mangini. "It's so regimented where the game is just not a game anymore. It's not fun. Even when you win it's not fun."

Ryan seems to be bringing the fun back to the green and white. "I think they realized, 'Wow, this is different [than before],'" Ryan told the Times. "But it is going to be different. I think they understand who I am. I'm just being myself, and I think they know they can trust that. Where before, guys were just a little bit tight.

"I just want to make sure they knew that this is still a game."

Apparently Mangini never reminded the Jets of that during his three- year tenure – in which he compiled a 23-25 record.

"[That] was great to hear,” Woody said. “I'd never heard that in my whole career, for a guy to say that. He wants things to be enjoyable, where you have fun but get your work done."

The Jets have some work to get done. They sit behind a pair of division foes that finished 11-5 in 2008 that only seem to be getting better.

This was written for, but was already posted by another writer.

Tuesday's NESN links a day late:

Wildcat Fever Spreads Through Jets Camp

Lee Frustrated, Duhon Open-Minded About Knicks' Current Situation

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sox hope Byrd can fly them to October

This was supposed to run on but was already posted by the time I wrote it.

With the pitching staff sputtering just a week after baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Red Sox added a familiar face to their rotation late Wednesday night.

Sox GM Theo Epstein dug deep into his bag of tricks, signing the retired Paul Byrd to a minor league deal.

The Red Sox traded for Byrd after the July 31 deadline last season, when he went 4-2 with a 4.78 ERA with the club.

"I'm excited," Byrd told "I think I can be back in shape and help them out in whatever role they need me to help them out in September. Maybe I can get that World Series ring."

According to the site, Byrd has been staying in shape all season long, in anticipation of a possible return to baseball. He will start out at the team’s Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

"I am in shape, I have been throwing," Byrd continued. "It's not like I haven't picked up a ball. I have been throwing, I've been off a mound twice in the last three days, six times in the last two weeks. There's a difference between pitching in a game and throwing a bullpen. I would need to start out at one or two innings and build up arm strength."

With Clay Buchholz, John Smoltz, Brad Penny struggling and Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, the Red Sox are in desperate need of a consistent arm to guide them toward the postseason.

They’re hoping Byrd has enough left in the tank.