Today is the 11th of September

...and it is my birthday.

Nine years ago, I was a 7th grader taking English with Mrs. Ratliff when the assistant principal stopped by to tell her that some sort of plane had crashed in New York City. The rest of the day was fairly dull for me - I think the teachers made a conscious effort to push us through the day, and in any event, my next memory is from the last bell of school, when all of the classroom's TVs were switched to CNN or its equivalent. That was when I first saw the towers fall.

And I still didn't get it. Yes, it was bad, and no, I didn't fail to understand that there would be suffering and anger, but I grew up in the 1990s, when the world was relatively peaceful and there was little fear. 9/11 did not bring about any fear for me. That's a privilege of age, I suppose, but with it came an ignorance of what these attacks would mean, until my friend Chris looked me in the eye and spoke the only words I still clearly recall from that day.

"Will, this is more important that you think it is. This day is going to define our lives." And he, I think, was right.

I went home and watched the news, then called my friend Ben, who was born a few hours ahead of me. Our short conversation acknowledge that no one would associate our birthday with the 911 emergency line, and then we went back to our families to celebrate being 13.

I met the first person to lose a friend or family member (that I knew about) last year at Williams, but for me the day has never been about our vulnerabilities, but instead about the power of events - that I and my country, and indeed my world could still be moved by events about others far away. There's hope there, even when the clouds are billowing towards us, but I doubt my birthday will ever cease being something of a reflective event.

from Tumblr - words that should exist in english

L’esprit de escalier: (French) The feeling you get after leaving a conversation, when you think of all the things you should have said. Translated it means “the spirit of the staircase.”
Waldeinsamkeit: (German) The feeling of being alone in the woods.
Meraki: (Greek) Doing something with soul, creativity, or love.
Forelsket: (Norwegian) The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love.
Gheegle: (Filipino) The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute.
Pochemuchka: (Russian) A person who asks a lot of questions.
Pena ajena: (Mexican Spanish) The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation.
Cualacino: (Italian) The mark left on a table by a cold glass.
Ilunga: (Tshiluba, Congo) A person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.

Just wrote this to a pre-frosh

Some portions edited out - thoughts?

I'm a Political Economy major, which is a hybrid between Poli Sci and Econ. It's sort of equivalent to a Public Policy Major. You can explore the POEC class descriptions (and everything else) at: and

A bit about Williams:

Williams is great in that it's taught me a huge deal in critical thinking, such that I can solidly say that my school is going to share many aspects of other top-notch schools. The students here are great, super busy, and the campuses still have issues, but at this tier of higher ed, every department and program is notable and strong. You can major in anything here and be FINE.

Here are the things that make Williams different, which should clue you in as to if you want to be here:

Small. 550 per class is smaller than you think. You can't hide in class, and you can't hide from your ex's, but on the bright side, you will see your professors at the grocery store and some of your friends as you walk around. I love the little impromptu conversations that only happen because we're small. BUT, that might mean we can't offer all of the courses and subjects as regularly as other schools. We do our best to do that, but we can't hit maximum breadth and depth in the course offerings at the same time because of size. You'll see this in the "not offered" courses in the catalog.

Accessible. Lots of dorms have elevators, but I don't mean in the physical sense. The Dean is a personal friend of mine. The President knows my name, as does his predecessor. My professors are fine with me stopping by and many keep their doors open all of the time. I can see profs whose classes I'm not taking (because they aren't great at lecture), but who I love talking to in office hours. If I (admittedly, a now-senior involved in college governance) need the Dean to call ME, RIGHT NOW, I can get that call, and got it today.

Middle of Nowhere. We have lots of trails, but one street where the one indian restaurant, the one thai restaurant, the one coffee shop, and the one deli are located. (and the one others). We live in a "Purple Bubble" where almost everyone is fit, almost everyone is smart, and where the problems of the outside world don't really reach us. We are isolated. But we also have Mountain Day, a Friday in October when classes are canceled (without warning) and huge numbers of students stream up mountain trails to sing songs and have donuts/cider on Stony Ledge. It's AWESOME, and there's a shorter hike also with donuts at the top of Stone Hill if you want to spend your afternoon doing something else.

Day 1

This is my life at Williams. Not recommended, but I'm glad to claim it.

8:30 am: Wake up
9:00 am: Breakfast @ Currier, initial thoughts on possible event to plan
10:00 am: Get books at Water Street, take home
11:00 am: Go to see Rick Spalding, discuss work, clubs, and my summer. Also talk to Nancy, find out she used to be at the Dean's Office
12:00 pm: OCC Workshop
1:00 pm: catch-up/planning lunch
2:00 pm: speak with boss, get planning details, discuss meal plans
3:00 pm: meet with adviser, find out I can graduate, meet new prof
4:00 pm: get bike tire filled
4:30 pm: discuss room reconfiguration with someone of taste
5:15 pm: read and write e-mails
6:15 pm: cook/eat dinner
7:00 pm: class meeting #1
7:30 pm: class meeting #2
8:00 pm: briefing on new dining facilities and policies
8:30 pm: bike ride, talk with friend
9:00 pm: plan movie for class, start to look at someone's Rhodes app
10:00 pm: see friend in first time in year
10:30 pm: home, one more meeting

This year is going to be GREAT.

Meal Plan Calculus

Blatantly stealing ideas and wording from Dave Moore here.

Typically, a student is on campus for a maximum of 32 weeks in the year: 14 in each semester & 4 in Winter Study, though the 14 can drop to 12.5 or so if you leave for reading periods and don't have many exams. This ignores the 10 guest meals for the 21/week plan and the 6 guest meals for those on the 14.

If you eat EVERY meal, each week, you are paying X per meal:
  • 21-meal plan: $5364/(21*32) = $7.98 / meal
  • 14-meal plan: $5010/(14*32) = $11.18 / meal
  • 10-meal plan: $4094/(10*32) = $12.79 / meal
  • 5-meal plan: $2164/(5*32) = $13.53 / meal
  • 50-meal block: $658/(50) = $13.16 / meal
And that's why I'm going off the meal plan.....