Anecdotal Ephemera

This post is a basically random list of things that have happened over the years; it will grow over time.


My freshman year of college, we had three bins in the halls of our dorm—“Trash”, “Recycle” and “Styrofoam”. I diligently sorted everything for disposal and fumed that my dorm mates were constantly throwing out their Styrofoam cafeteria containers in the trash, or throwing trash into the Styrofoam bin. I often ended up pulling trash out of the Styrofoam bin, or pulling Styrofoam containers from the Trash bin, dumping their contents, and putting them in the Styrofoam bin where they belonged.

At the end of the year, I was procrastinating while cleaning up my room for moving out and I leafed through the fifty page student handbook for the first time. A small note in the middle mentioned “Styrofoam recycling was not cost-effective and the program was canceled [five years ago]. Please use Styrofoam bins to dispose of normal trash.”


Over the last week of 2001, I was driving cross country to Seattle and ran out of clean t-shirts. I stopped at Target and bought the cheapest clearance shirt they had, a University of Iowa Athletics “Hawkeyes” t-shirt; it was $5.

Over the intervening 16 years, I’ve received more comments on this shirt than anything else I own. Oftentimes, it takes me a moment to realize that the guy across the street shouting “Go Hawks!” is talking to me.


Over a decade ago, I read Jay Leno’s memoir Leading with My Chin. Two anecdotes stood out.

The first was that, even as a kid, Leno was really into cars. So when his parents bought a new car, they let him pick the engine. So that’s how the family ended up with a station wagon equipped with a V8 Police Pursuit Package.

The second was that Leno once went to D.C. to buy a motorcycle from an old collector; the old guy only wanted to deal in cash, so Leno had ten grand or something in hundreds. He’s waiting in his hotel before going to meet the guy when he gets a call. The president (Clinton, I think) heard he was in town and wonders if he’d like to come over and meet at the White House. So Leno is about to go when he realizes that he’s got all this cash and he really doesn’t want to leave it behind. So he straps it to his body and goes over to meet the President in the West Wing. Naturally, when he’s getting screened for entry, the metal detectors go off and the Secret Service pats him down. They unbutton his shirt, see thousands of dollars in cash taped to his body, and before he can sputter out an explanation they tell him to “Go right in, Mr. Leno.”

Anecdotal Ephemera

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