Saturday, October 4, 2014

WATCH: Hong Kong Student Leader Joshua Wong Talks Protest Aims

WATCH: Hong Kong Student Leader Joshua Wong Talks Protest Aims

WATCH: Hong Kong Student Leader Joshua Wong Talks Protest Aims

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 10:45 AM PDT

Howard University Patient Does Not Have Ebola

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 10:28 AM PDT

The Howard University Hospital patient being tested for Ebola does not have the disease, according to the Washington, D.C. Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Howard University spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton said health officials “ruled out” a case of Ebola in the patient, who had recently traveled to Nigeria.

In a separate news conference Saturday, CDC officials said that the dozens of people who had direct or indirect contact with a Texas patient currently being treated for Ebola do not themselves show symptoms of the disease. Thomas Duncan, who traveled to Liberia and contracted Ebola, was first sent home from a Dallas hospital despite health staff having access to his travel history. He was later readmitted when his conditioned worsened and diagnosed with Ebola.

“We have identified everyone that may have contact with him and none of those individuals have any symptoms at this time,” said Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. About 5o individuals had some level of contact with Duncan, including health staff, several schoolchildren, and Duncan’s girlfriend and roommates.

Freiden said screening processes at airports in affected African countries had prevented 77 people from boarding a plane to travel internationally through the use of thermometers or by identifying obvious symptoms of Ebola.

The number of individuals calling the CDC out of fear of having Ebola has increased since Duncan was diagnosed, Frieden said.

Family of U.S. Ebola Patient Moved

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 10:21 AM PDT

The partner of Thomas Duncan, the first person to develop Ebola in the United States, and the three young men living with her in the Dallas apartment where Duncan stayed before he became sick have been moved to a temporary residence, health officials said Saturday.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who heads up the city’s emergency response, drove the four individuals to their new home on Friday night. Jenkins said on Friday that he hoped to find them accommodations with appliances that would make the four family members more comfortable during their quarantine, such as their own washer and dryer.

In a Saturday news conference, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said CDC and local health officials are now monitoring 40 people who had some level of contact with Duncan, including nine who had direct contact with Duncan. It’s not clear how many of those are health care workers or patients at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Duncan remains in serious condition, and how many are community members, including those who live in the apartment complex.

Medical waste generated by Duncan during his stay at the hospital, including gowns and personal protective equipment worn by health care providers caring for him, remain at the hospital, said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. The waste removal company has now secured the proper Department of Transportation hazmat permits to transport the waste, and is set to do so on Monday.

Ousted Haitian Dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier Dies

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 09:47 AM PDT

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Jean-Claude-Duvalier, the self-proclaimed “president for life” of Haiti whose corrupt and brutal regime sparked a popular uprising that sent him into a 25-year exile, died Saturday of a heart attack, his attorney said.

Reynold George said the 63-year-old ex-leader died at his home. He was 63.

Duvalier, looking somewhat frail, made a surprise return to Haiti in 2011, allowing victims of his regime to pursue legal claims against him and prompting some old allies to rally around him. Neither side gained much support, and the once-feared dictator known as “Baby Doc” spent his late years in relative obscurity in the leafy hills above the Haitian capital.

Duvalier was the son of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, a medical doctor-turned-dictator who promoted “Noirisme,” a movement that sought to highlight Haiti’s African roots over its European ones while uniting the black majority against a mulatto elite in a country divided by class and color.

The regimes of both leaders tortured and killed political opponents and relied on a dreaded civilian militia known as the Tonton Macoutes.

In 1971, Francois Duvalier suddenly died of an illness and named his son to succeed him. At 19, Jean-Claude Duvalier became the world’s youngest president.

The son was regarded as a lackluster student at a prestigious private Catholic school in the capital but his teachers gave him passing grades anyway to avoid fury from the National Palace, according to “Written in Blood” a history of the country by Robert Debs Heinl and Nancy Gordon Heinl.

Jean-Claude Duvalier ruled for 15 years, his administration seen as less violent and repressive than his father’s. Echoes of press freedom and personal criticism, never tolerated under his father, emerged — sporadically — because of international pressure. Still, human rights groups documented abuses and political persecution. A trio of prisons known as the “Triangle of Death,” which included the much-feared Fort Dimanche for long-term inmates, symbolized the brutality of his regime.

As president, he married the daughter of a wealthy coffee merchant, Michele Bennett, in 1980. The engagement caused a scandal among old Duvalierists, for she was a mulatto and the arrangement ran counter to the Noirisme movement Duvalier’s father espoused. The wedding was a lavish affair, complete with imported champagne, flowers and fireworks. The ceremony, reported to have cost $5 million, was carried live on television to the impoverished nation. After they exchanged vows, Michele ordered her tubby husband to go on a diet.

Under Duvalier’s rule, Haiti saw widespread demographic changes. Peasants moved to the capital in search of work as factories popped up to meet the growing demand for cheap labor. Thousands of professionals fled a climate of repression for cities such as New York, Miami and Montreal.

And aid began to flow from the United States and agencies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The tourists followed, some in search of a form of tropical hedonism that included booze, prostitution and Voodoo ceremonies for which the country became legendary. Tourism collapsed in the early 1980s after Florida doctors noted that an unusual number of AIDS cases were coming from Haitian emigres, even though the disease was believed to have been brought from the U.S.

But it was corruption and human rights abuses that defined Duvalier rule.

The National Palace became known for opulent parties as Michele took overseas shopping sprees to decorate and collect fur coats. Duvalier relished taking his presidential yacht out for a spin and racing about in sports cars.

Under mounting pressure from the administration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Duvalier made pretenses of improving the country’s human rights record by releasing political prisoners. Still, journalists and activists were jailed or exiled. Haitians without visas or money left by boarding flimsy boats in a desperate effort to reach Florida shores.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch estimated that up to 30,000 Haitians were killed, many by execution, under the regime of the two Duvaliers.

As Haiti’s living conditions deteriorated, Pope John-Paul II made a visit in 1983 and famously declared: “Things must change.”

Three years later, they did. A popular uprising swept across Haiti, and Duvalier and his wife boarded a U.S.-government C-141 for France.

The couple divorced in 1993. Duvalier later became involved with Veronique Roy, who accompanied him on his 2011 return to Haiti.

While in exile in France, Duvalier was never known to hold a job. He occasionally made public statements about his eagerness to return to Haiti. Supporters periodically marched on his behalf in the Haitian capital.

On Jan. 16, 2011, Duvalier made his surprise return. He said he wanted to help in the reconstruction of Haiti, whose capital and outlying cities were heavily damaged in a magnitude-7.0 earthquake the year before. But many suspected he came back in an effort to reclaim money he had allegedly stashed. Others said he merely wanted to die in his homeland.

More than 20 victims of his rule stepped forward to file charges that ranged from false imprisonment to torture. Human Rights Watch issued a report saying that Duvalier may not have directly participated in the torture and killings under his regime, but that there was enough evidence to prosecute him.

Despite the occasional stay in the hospital, Duvalier seemed to enjoy his new life back home and was free to roam the capital. He was spotted attending government ceremonies, dining with friends in several high-end restaurants and avoided jail time. In 2013 he began renovating an old house that Roy said had been destroyed in the wake of his 1986 ouster.

The efforts to prosecute him stumbled along. Duvalier stunned human rights observers and alleged victims of his regime in 2013 when he testified about his rule before an investigating judge. A year later, a judge overturned an earlier court decision and ruled that Duvalier could face crimes against humanity charges.

But in the end the case stalled because officials did little to move it along.

Duvalier and his wife Michele had two children, son Francois Nicolas “Nico” Duvalier and a daughter, Anya.

The 13 Biggest Differences Between the Gone Girl Movie and the Book

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 09:21 AM PDT

The film version of Gone Girl, which hit theaters this weekend, follows the novel closely: both move at a breakneck speed and the plot twists are the same. (And yes, despite rumors to the contrary, the film does having the same ending as the novel.) But there are a few things that author Gillian Flynn altered as she wrote the screenplay version of her New York Times bestselling novel.

Here’s what changed:

(Warning: There are spoilers for both the book and film versions of Gone Girl ahead.)

1. The Eight-Month Gap

In Flynn’s original book version, after Amy and Nick meet for the first time, they don’t see each other for eight months until they meet again (seemingly randomly) on the street. This part is completely cut from the movie, as is the inside joke that reunites them: “Just one olive.” However, Flynn did add in a bit about Nick’s chin being untrustworthy, an inside joke the two share throughout the film.

2. The Proposal

In the movie, Nick proposes to Amy while at a book party for her parents’ latest Amazing Amy book. It’s a charming scene, but it’s not in the book. Though Diary Amy writes a good deal about her and Nick’s early relationship, she never writes about how Nick proposed to her. The movie does, however, skip Amy’s stories of taking care of Nick’s dying mother, of Nick skipping their anniversary to go to a strip club with laid-off coworkers and her suspicions of his cheating.

3. The Mall Investigation

In the book, Nick, some friends and Amy’s father go to the abandoned mall with baseball bats to confront the out-of-work Blue Book Boys about Amy’s disappearance. It’s there that they learn Amy tried to buy a gun. In the movie, it’s the detectives who go to the mall and discover this crucial piece of information.

4. The Number of Clues

Nick only has to travel to three locations to find Amy’s anniversary clues in the movie: his office, his father’s house and the shed behind his sister Margo’s house. Director David Fincher and Flynn cut out a clue from the book that led Nick to Hannibal, Missouri (home of Mark Twain), a place he has visited with both Amy and his mistress Andie. The movie also skips Amy’s loving notes to Nick that make him fall back in love with her during the treasure hunt that say flattering things like “You are WITTY.”

5. Amy’s Fear of Blood

For a year before she fakes her death, Amy pretends to have a fear of blood–even pretending to pass out while watching her mother-in-law donate marrow–in order to throw the police off her trail when she spills her blood all over their floor. But that plot line is completely cut out of the movie. (The way she spills her blood in the movie, using an IV, is also much neater than in the book, where she simply takes a box cutter to her arm.)

6. Nick’s Father

Nick’s father plays a major role in the book: Nick talks about his father’s misogyny and his own struggle against what he says is an inherited impulse to hate women. (Ben Affleck was spared from uttering the many internal “stupid bitch” thoughts Nick has while interacting with investigators, groupies and other women in the book.) Early in the book, some readers may have even thought Nick’s father was involved in Amy’s disappearance, since he escapes from his assisted living center the same morning that Amy goes missing. It turns out that Amy secretly visited Nick’s father and encouraged him to visit the house, drawing suspicion towards Nick. But in the film, Nick’s dad only shows up once, at the police station.

7. Amy’s Parents

Amy’s parents have a much smaller role in the movie than in the book. In the book, Nick desperately needs them as strategic allies to win public favor. Amy also writes extensively about her upbringing–her mother had several miscarriages before having Amy, and named all the unborn babies Hope. The Hopes, whose birthdays are remembered every year, hang over Amy’s head all her life, since she will never be able to achieve the perfection of an unborn child. The Hopes are not mentioned in the movie, and Amy’s parents are basically background characters.

8. Andie Attacking Nick

In the book, Nick breaks up with his mistress Andie because his lawyer, Tanner Bolt, tells him to. Andie responds by biting Nick, a confrontation that never takes place in the film.

9. Tommy O’Hara and Hilary Handy

The high school friend that Amy accused of stalking was cut from the movie, even though she’s one of Nick’s first clues as to Amy’s duplicitous behavior in the book. And Tommy’s fate is much grimmer in the movie than in the book. In the movie, after Amy accuses him of rape, he pleads down his sentence. Nick finds him jobless and dateless in New York since he must legally identify himself as a sexual offender. In the book, he and Nick talk on the phone rather than in person and Tommy says Amy dropped the charges against him.

10. The Rebecca Interview

In the book, a young reporter named Rebecca talks Nick in the bar and gets him to say he loves Amy. The interview wins him back some public favor. This scene is missing from the movie.

11. Desi’s Death

Leave it to David Fincher to make an already-gruesome scene even more disturbing. In the book, Amy drugs Desi before cutting his throat and murdering him. In the movie, she does it mid-sex with blood spilling all over her, her white bra and the white bed. (Amy’s fake story to win Desi’s trust in the first place–that her father sexually abused her–is also missing, as is Desi’s mother.)

12. Amy’s Safeguard

In the book, Amy poisons herself with anti-freeze and then vomits it up and saves it. She threatens to use it as evidence that Nick tried to kill her if she ever tried to leave. Nick discovers the vomit and disposes of it. The refrigerated vomit is thankfully missing from the film.

13. The “Cool Girl” Speech

The famous “Cool Girl” speech was partially rewritten for the movie.


This iPhone App is Tinder for Deleting Unwanted Photos

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 08:46 AM PDT

Finally, there’s an app that makes it as easy to dismiss photos from your iPhone picture library as it is to dismiss human beings who you could potentially meet in real life.

Flic is an app that allows users to delete photos with a Tinder-like flick of the finger, and it’s particularly useful for trigger-happy photographers who tend to have multiple shots of the same scene. Users swipe left to delete a photo and swipe right to keep it.


From Lifehack Labs, Flic is currently available on the iOS App Store for Apple iPhones.

Report: Hackers Attacked 9 Other Financial Firms Besides JPMorgan

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 08:22 AM PDT

JPMorgan Chase, which was hit by a massive hack disclosed in August, was just one of 10 financial institutions infiltrated by a group of overseas hackers that may have connections to officials in the Russian government, according to a new report.

Unnamed sources told the New York Times that the hackers who stole addresses, names, email addresses and phone numbers from 76 million households and 7 million small businesses by attacking JPMorgan’s systems appeared to have at least loose connections with officials of the Russian government.

Officials said it was unclear whether the hackers were politically motivated. “It could be in retaliation for the sanctions” placed on Russia, one senior official briefed on the intelligence told the Times. “But it could be mixed motives — to steal if they can, or to sell whatever information they could glean.”

Besides attacking JPMorgan, the group of hackers also hacked nine other financial institutions whose identities have yet to be disclosed.

The security team at JPMorgan, the country’s largest bank by assets, was able to block hackers from compromising the most sensitive information about tens of millions of customers, security experts told the Times.

The bank was only able to halt the attack by the middle of August, and in recent days discovered the full extent of the attack.


Dallas Hospital No Longer Blaming Technical Glitch for Sending Ebola Patient Home

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 07:07 AM PDT

The Texas hospital that initially released the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States acknowledged Friday evening that medical staff had access to the fact that he had just arrived from Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the outbreak, raising questions about the hospital’s procedures.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas first admitted Liberian national Thomas E. Duncan in its emergency room on Sept. 25. Duncan was then sent away on the mistaken belief that he had a low-grade fever from a viral infection, allowing him to come in potential contact with dozens of people, some of whom are now being monitored for the virus. A nurse initially failed to tell a doctor that Duncan had just come from Liberia, and a physician didn’t ask. Duncan was readmitted to the hospital three days later when his symptoms worsened.

Initially, on Thursday, Texas Health blamed a technical flaw in its electronic health records system for its decision to send Duncan home. But on Friday evening, the hospital took back that statement and said “there was no flaw” in its records, the New York Times reports, and that hospital staff could see Duncan had been in Liberia.

The “patient’s travel history was documented and available to the full care team in the electronic health record (E.H.R.), including within the physician’s workflow,” acknowledged the hospital.

“In a well-functioning emergency department, doctors and nurses talk to each other,” Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, told the Times. “Also, why didn’t the physician think to ask the question separately? Anyone who comes in with a febrile illness, a travel history, that’s a fundamental part of understanding what might be going on.”

More than 3,000 people have already died of Ebola in Africa. In the U.S., health officials have narrowed down the list of people considered most at risk of contracting Ebola to 10 while moving the four people with whom Duncan shared an apartment from their potentially contaminated quarters.


Meet the Woman Heading Facebook’s Huge International Growth

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 06:05 AM PDT

Like many of the U.S. tech giants, Facebook is increasingly betting its financial future overseas. The company, whose social network has already achieved widespread adoption in North America and Western Europe, is focusing more of its resources on fast-developing markets like Africa, the Middle East and India. In April Facebook announced that it had 100 million users in India, and it reached the same milestone in Africa in September.

The company is trying to get more people in these regions online through its initiative, which aims to beam Internet connectivity to remote areas. At the same time Facebook is courting marketers by offering up region-specific advertising units that are tailored to the different ways people communicate around the world.

During New York’s Advertising Week, TIME sat down with Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to discuss the growth of Facebook’s business abroad, how privacy concerns differ across cultures and whether Yo isn’t such a crazy app idea after all.

TIME: Obviously Facebook’s mobile transition has been a big story the past couple of years. But here when people think about it, they think of smartphones. Was Facebook’s feature phone business one that happened after smartphones or was it happening concurrently?

Mendelsohn: Two thirds of the world are accessing Facebook through feature phones, so it’s a hugely important part of how people access the platform. What we’re trying to do is make the world more open and connected so people can share more. Mobile means many different things depending on where on the planet you are and how you access Facebook and the Internet.

We’ve made a change in how we go to market in terms of our advertising products. It used to be that we had exactly the same advertising product all around the world. We’ve now started to place more and more resources in the developing markets, like Africa, like India, like Indonesia, to really understand how people are using Facebook, how they’re using mobile and come up with different products that work better there.

One is an insight borne out of what we saw in India. Data is expensive, and for a lot of people it can be prohibitive in terms of how they access Facebook or the Internet. What we saw was a whole “missed calls” phenomenon that was going on. Between us we’d create our own language—one missed call means go pick the kids up, two means let’s meet for a drink, three means I’ll meet you for lunch or whatever it is. We set up the missed call product so that advertisers could have the opportunity to tap into this meme and deliver information to people, some of whom are coming onto the Internet and to Facebook for the very first time and who are actually really excited to get messaging from advertisers. That’s the first place that we’ve done this, and the results are such that we’re going to look to do this in South Africa as well.

TIME: You just mentioned that a lot of people in these markets might be excited about seeing advertising because they haven’t been exposed to the Internet as much. Is the appetite for ads there higher than in America, where people are exposed to ads all the time?

Mendelsohn: People like advertising if it’s relevant and entertaining and useful to them. What we see in some of the high-growth markets is that brands are talking to them for the very first time, and there is an excitement about that because it’s new and it has not happened before. We see behaviors where people actually share the adverts that they see with other people because it’s of interest and it’s new information.

TIME: Out of that 100 million users in Africa, which are the countries you are most focused on?

A: That’s Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa.

TIME: Do you expect, going forward, that the feature phone market is going to increase, or do you see with Android One and these cheaper smartphones that people are going to transition to those devices really quickly?

I think there will be an acceleration of these cheaper smartphones, driven in particular by the price. But I think they’re not going to have all the same features that the ones we have in the U.S. and the U.K. have. There will still be challenges on things like data costs. Actually the challenge becomes greater when you have the smartphone because it has access to so many more bells, gadgets, widgets. If you want to connect the planet, data and cost is something that is prohibitive to that. It’s one of the reasons that Mark Zuckerberg launched

TIME: Facebook’s average revenue generated per user is much lower in these emerging markets than it is in the U.S. What is Facebook’s plan to boost that number in the future?

What is the primary concern in this part of the world is how we connect everyone to the Internet. That’s the primary focus. In terms of the ARPU, that will emerge in different ways.

TIME: You’re dealing with a lot of different types of cultures across a vast number of countries. Do you see different privacy concerns in different areas? How do you deal with that on an individual basis?

For us, privacy is the most important issue and making sure that people know and are in control of the data they share and who they share it with. I think that’s important for people wherever you are the world. One of the nuanced differences that we see in some of these countries is the fact that people like to be friends with lots more people than perhaps they might in mainland Europe. We see people want to have lots of friends, including people that they’ve never never before, and share information with those people. That is a difference that might sit uncomfortably with other people in different parts of the world.

TIME: Are you familiar with the app Yo?

No, I’m not. Tell me about Yo.

TIME: All it does is send the word Yo to other people. It was actually pretty heavily mocked when it came out over the summer. But it sounds like from what you’re saying that’s a logical use case that actually exists, where people would want to send a single word that can provide context about what they’re doing.

I can’t talk to [Yo], but I think people communicate in different ways. The uptake in stickers—people sending emoticons just to express their feelings—is a different way of showing how people communicate. Not necessarily in Africa but in some of the more developed markets. People are becoming much more visual.

We’ve always seen with any new technology that’s come on since the printing press, that it causes people to think about how they communicate in different ways. One of the things that’s been surprising about this technology revolution is that it’s shortened some of the ways that we communicate with each other rather than increasing it. If the printing press meant that we could write canon of books, the mobile phone means I can write “LOL” and we both understand what that means.

I Don’t Have Student Loans and I Don’t Feel Bad for People Who Do

Posted: 04 Oct 2014 06:00 AM PDT


This story originally appeared on

My father is not a Wall Street banker. I’m not a member of the so-called “1 percent.” My mother isn’t an heiress and I’m not some genius who earned a full scholarship to the institution of my choice.

Yet somehow, by what most of my friends think was the wave of some fairy godmother’s wand, I graduated college without student loans.

Stats from the Department of Education show outstanding student loans total more than $1 trillion. A report from The Institute for College Access in late 2013 revealed the average new graduate starts his or her life with $29,400 in student loan debt. College as we know it is clearly unaffordable.

So my question is: Why do people keep embarking on the “traditional college experience” when they know it’s going to put them tens — sometimes hundreds — of thousands of dollars in debt?

And while some people say these 18-year-old kids don’t know what they’re getting themselves into, let’s not pretend we don’t know better. I distinctly remember asking my friend how he would pay off the roughly $70,000 debt he would incur to obtain a major in Ancient Greek and Latin at a liberal arts college in the Midwest. His answer? A simple shrug and flippant “It’s not something I have to worry about right now — hopefully they’ll be forgiven by the government.” Now that he’s still waiting tables four years after graduation, I’d say it’s well past time to start worrying.

I can’t pretend I completely understand how these people feel after the fun is over and the repayments begin, but I can say that I really don’t feel bad for them.

Why not? Because I worked hard to avoid taking out loans. My wonderful parents and grandmother helped me pay for my education, but in the end, it was a few decisions I made that saved me the burden of borrowing money I would never have been able to pay back. Unlike the majority of my friends who went to schools less than an hour from their parents’ homes and chose to live on campus rather than commute, my college roommates were named Mom and Dad. I chose state schools that were half, sometimes one-quarter, of the cost of the schools my friends were attending and worked a part-time on-campus scholarship job in addition to full-time hours at my retail job. I spent the four years of my life designed for partying essentially reliving my high school years. And yes, it was awful.

Imagine the stereotypical American college experience. You pick some private university in the middle of a cornfield with a tuition price of about $36,000 a year, plus room and board, party it up every night since you’ve finally escaped the teenage hellhole known as your family’s home, and stumble into your Symbolism in Harry Potter seminar at 11 a.m. still half-drunk and probably reeking of Icehouse. You join a sorority, get vomit in your hair more times than you’re willing to admit publicly, and spend half the day on whatever flavor-of-the-week social media site the guy you currently like is active on.

Sounds fun — until you realize all this will probably leave you at least $30,000 in the hole upon receiving that diploma. And guess what? Unless you absolutely needed some highly specialized major that was only offered at a few schools, chances are you probably could have gotten your education/accounting/psychology degree at a much more affordable university closer to home. You might have even been able to — gasp — live with your parents.

My college experience couldn’t have been further from the scenarios most of my friends lived, but I guess that’s what happens when you opt for the cheap route. You thought your college roommates were weird? Try living with a mother who has a disturbing penchant for singing Chris Brown and LMFAO songs and accidentally throws a Sharpie in the dryer with your load of freshly washed (and now ruined) clothes.

Remember that friend you had who went through a different boyfriend each week? This habit of constantly picking up something new applies to my father, but in the form of hobbies, not college-aged jocks. During my time living at home in college, I think it is safe to assume my dad acquired roughly 70 new pastimes. Among them were more traditional leisure activities like drawing, but a few were rather unusual — beekeeping, winemaking, beer brewing, and pretending to make merkins out of the hair the dog was shedding.

Of course, we can’t forget the fact that my younger brothers were also living at home during this period, albeit at separate times. Never underestimate the power of annoyance a brother yields — this is especially true when your youngest sibling loves Mariah Carey and weightlifting and has a tendency to say things like “I’m looking pretty vascular today,” as he downs a protein shake and six chicken breasts. You may find it’s uncomfortable to invite friends over when they’re home on college breaks as your brother, in an effort to show off his muscles, is in a near-constant state of undress, prompting your father to create a rule that forbids shirtlessness in the kitchen.

And the middle brother one of your high school friends thought was so cute? He’s not looking so cute these days when she comes over and he’s passed out on the couch — probably hungover — in his tighty whities with a half-eaten box of Oreos on his chest. When he wakes up from that nap he’s going to drink your apple juice — which, by the way, he doesn’t even like — just to piss you off. And if he’s really feeling like living dangerously, he’ll probably polish off that giant muffin you couldn’t finish and specifically labeled “FOR JES – DO NOT EAT.”

It wasn’t your average sorority house or dorm room, but it saved me tens of thousands of dollars, considering room and board at most universities in Chicago is roughly $9,000 a year. I’m not even going to pretend to feel sorry for my friends who moan about the financial crunch of paying back the money they borrowed to pay for their dorm rooms or off-campus apartments. After all, you get what you pay for — if you wanted your student housing to be free, you probably should have been prepared to listen to your mom singing that song about Apple Bottom jeans whenever you came home from class.

I’m curious about how everyone else went about the ever-growing student loan issue during college. Did anybody live at home to avoid taking out loans or keep their student debt to a minimum? And for the ladies with loans: Do you wish you’d done anything differently during your college years to limit your debt?

Jessica Slizewski is originally from Chicago but currently lives in New Zealand.


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