Tag Archives: roommates

The Secret to Business Casual (Featuring: Batman!)

Batman understands business casual

It’s 9:00 AM. I’m in the Chicago O’hare airport heading to a conference, and I keep getting looks. No matter where I am, people walking by glance my way. I’m thinking it might be my solid purple, slightly shiny button-down shirt that fewer than twelve hours ago was not part of my wardrobe at all. This describes as much as half the clothing in my pack.

Ok, let’s rewind to twelve hours ago: It was 9:00 PM Saturday night, and I was putting together my clothes for the trip. I briefly wondered whether my clothes were sufficiently professional, so I knocked on my roommate Nate’s door. Nate looked briefly at my clothes, pointed at a red plaid button-down and said “this one is appropriate.” I looked at it and asked if anyone would notice that the shirt pocket was starting to detach at the top. Nate looked again, thought, and declared that none of my shirts are appropriate for a business casual gathering. “Uh,” I say, but Nate is already onto the next thought. “We need to go shopping. When do you leave? Next week?”
Minutes later we were at Kohl’s, the only place open that late. Nate told me to expect to pay upwards of $500.  “Heck, no.” was the first though that came to my mind. “Yeah, sure,” was what I said. Pleased with my resounding agreement, Nate left me at a belt rack and  came back with a Kohl’s associate. One tape measurer, five shirts, three pairs of pants and two blazers later, I was in a dressing room.

The Kohl’s associate told me all I needed to do was mix dark and light – if I had a dark blazer and dark undershirt, I wore light pants; light pants, light blazer, dark undershirt. Boom, business casual and style. Magic. Apparently this applies not only to normal, blue, grey and brown shirts, but to a veritable rainbow of shirts, ranging from purple to orange. In fact, after I got three blue shirts, Nate and the associate started warning me against more blue. Apparently if you wear the same color multiple days in a row, people notice and get weirded out. This, as it was explained to me, would be a big deal regarding my success in this conference and my career in general.For this reason it was also important that I buy not only the blazer that was eighty percent off, but another light blazer at the full price, $200.

I didn’t buy the second blazer. After over half-off overall in discounts I spent $400 on my new wardrobe. Nate for his part was astounded that I managed not to break $500. Now I have a dark grey blazer, a purple shirt, an orange shirt, two green shirts, and three blue shirts, all of which, if I wear them right, will be business casual. Nate says I will be “lookin’ sharp” as well, although I’m no judge of that. Unfortunately, I’m morally opposed to selfies, so you’ll have to take this picture as a rough approximation of what I look like:

Just add a dark blazer and Pow! Biff! Business casual!




It’s one of those things that has to be said with an exclamation point. Those of you who have not heard of cryptocurrency are probably wondering what a dogecoin is, and those of you who have heard of cryptocurrency are probably slapping your foreheads and wondering what I’m thinking and why I’ve gotten myself wrapped up in one of these ridiculous things that have flooded the speculative commodity market. 

To the former group, a cryptocurrency is a currency that exists entirely on the Internet. An individual keeps a little data on his or her computer and he or she gets access to a wealth of, well, wealth. Each of these currencies is distributed to people according to various mechanisms and then spreads around the world, much like any other good or money, via trade and gifts. These cryptocurrencies have become exceedingly popular, and now hundreds of them are in existence, each one slightly different from the others. That’s essentially all you need to know about cryptocurrency to get the general idea.

What makes DogeCoin stand out from its ilk is its community. Dogecoin is based on the “Doge” meme.

This is a specialized member of the animal caption family of memes involving a particular shiba inu making a strangely distrustful expression. Much like the LOLcat, the Doge features a particular made-up dialect unique to itself. “Wow” begins many sentences of Doge-speak, generally followed by a vague emphasizer (“much,” “very,” “so”) and a word that does not grammatically fit that emphasizer (“much successful!” “very altruism!” “so scare!”). One commenter has provided a link to a more detailed linguistic analysis of Doge-speak. The doge face itself has been reproduced in a vast array of different forms.

Why does the fact that DogeCoin is deliberately goofy in a relatively well-defined way make it a more valuable commodity? Simply put, it’s fun. The people attracted to DogeCoin are not just intimidating high-stakes traders, die-hard libertarians, and the impenetrable cryptography geek community, anyone with a computer and an appreciation of silly pictures of animals could be coaxed into becoming a “shibe” (pronounced “Sheeb” or “Shibay”), a member of the DogeCoin community.

As an owner of a DogeCoin account, I recently accepted 150,000 DogeCoin from my roommate Nate as collateral for a loan of $200. When Nate paid me back, I announced on  the DogeCoin subreddit (a forum for DogeCoin enthusiasts) that I had just completed the first recorded DogeCoin-backed loan. A couple days later I’ve received forty-four comments and over 200 DOGE in “tips,” which are an easy way to give small amounts of DogeCoin to posts that one appreciates on the DogeCoin subreddit.  Currently a DogeCoin is worth approximately a tenth of a penny, so that’s twenty cents.

That’s not the point, though. The reason that DogeCoin is valuable is because DogeCoin doesn’t have to be valuable. It’s the first cryptocurrency to have a community that likes it for more than just the money they could supposedly make from it. At one tenth of a cent per coin, DogeCoin has inspired my roommate to make a service to sell people Robusta coffee beans for DogeCoin, and it inspired my other roommate to buy a collection of high-end computing hardware and run a process to get him DogeCoin. If you remember the last post of the “The Cold Apartment” post series, the purpose of the rig that was heating J’s room was to mine DogeCoin. It inspired me to write this post to explain the phenomenon. DogeCoin also inspires people to do good, spawning the “DogeCoin Foundation,” which shortly after its creation scrabbled together enough funds to send the Jamaican bobsled team to the winter Olympics. If you’re ready to be inspired, here’s a video to confuse the heck out of you:

To The Moon!

The Meeting

<- Continued from 54 Degrees

Upon Nate’s return, our house assumed an internal temperature of a balmy 63 degrees. One day, I came home to find it turned up to 65, which was too high. I asked Nate about the situation, and he told me that he was dreadfully ill, and needed the heat turned up or he, Nate paused for effect,  would certainly die.

I carefully weighed the cost of the extra two degrees against my roommate’s untimely demise and grudgingly agreed to let the temperature stay at 65 until J came home. That evening, true to his word, Nate lay curled on his bed in the fetal position, repeatedly calling my phone and leaving messages of him retching and hacking up his lungs and various other vital organs.

The next day I checked my messages and was duly satisfied that Nate had not been bluffing about his illness. I was particularly impressed when he demonstrated his delirium by leaving a message of six minutes of silence followed by “Hello, hello? Who is this?” and hanging up. Eventually, J told me, Nate had given up trying to get in touch with me and called him instead. J had gotten Nate’s medicine from CVS and rescued him from death’s icy clutches.

The next day, the temperature was back down to fifty-four degrees. Evidently there had been a meeting (with a quorum of two out of three household members). Nate would heat his room with a space heater, and to make up the electricity difference we would go below mine-strike level again in the rest of the house.

I put up with it for three days. Eventually when I was worried my fingers might snap off from being allowed to get so cold, I went to have a conversation with Nate, who was now feeling much better.

“Nate,” I said, somewhat reluctantly, “I think… I think it’s too cold.”

“You’ll get no argument from me,” said Nate.

“Yeah, I think we should have a meeting and decide the right temperature once and for all,” I said.

“Just turn it up,” Nate replied, rubbing his hands together to keep them from getting frostbite and making no attempt to hide that he was wondering when I would let him go back into his warm little room.

“No, no, no,” I insisted. “This thermostat has been changed without the input of the whole house too many times. This time we all agree.”

“Ok,” said Nate, “go get J, then.”

So I went and knocked on J’s door. When I told him I wanted to have a meeting about the temperature, J came down to the thermostat and said “What temperature do you want it at?”

This caught me off guard, so I said, “63, I guess.”

“Ok, ” J said. Without missing a beat he punched the thermostat back up to 63 and returned to his room. Nate, satisfied that the issue had been resolved, also left. “Good meeting, everyone!” I called after them both.

On my way up the stairs I remained baffled at J’s mysterious ability to be comfortable at any temperature. As I climbed the stairs and reached the landing, a blast of hot air from his room answered my question. Looking through a crack in J’s door, I saw a rack of open-air processors covering his entire desk. An enormous box fan distributed the heat from this collection around the room. Upon returning from the restroom, J explained that an enormous process running on those processors had been heating his room for the last few weeks. I remain convinced that J knows how to handle cold temperatures, but evidently it wasn’t what he was doing this time.

Now that Nate has his personal heater, and J has his superheated processors, we cover up the vents in their rooms and use the HVAC to heat the kitchen and my room. It seems to have ended the conflicts and confusion, at least.

Fifty-Four degrees

Part 2 of The Cold Apartment
(<- Read Part 1)


Fifty-four degrees for a week was no sweat. Sure, I had to wear my coat around the house, but my bed, once it got warmed, was very warm indeed. It became quite difficult to leave it in the morning. My fingers seemed to move more slowly than usual when I took my gloves off to type in my room. I came to empathize more closely with cold-blooded animals who simply cannot move when the temperature drops too low.

J returned first. When I bragged that I had passed his challenge, he was surprised. He told me that he had never meant to challenge me. He thought that I was leaving for the break as well and that he was cooling what would soon be an empty house.  When Nate came back he told me that it’s illegal to heat a mine shaft less than 55 degrees, and miners have gone on strike for less than what I did to myself.

Now let’s fast-forward one year. J and Nate switched rooms and now Nate was beside the kitchen and J was next to me. With respect to  my newly proven ability to withstand cold temperatures, J made 54 the standard house temperature. Fortunately, the weather had not yet gotten that cold even outside.

Then the Polar Vortex hit. Duke Energy sent out an email asking us to all try and conserve energy, so J, as any good citizen would, did so. The catch was that he used the current temperature of our house – 54 degrees – as the baseline, so he put the temperature down to 48 degrees. Nate was to come home shortly, at which point J and I agreed that 48 degrees would not fly, so I was happy to do my part to help keep Duke Energy from being overwhelmed. I solemnly donned my long-johns,  sweater,  subzero-rated jacket with the hood up, three pairs of socks, earmuffs, and  ski-mask and shivered violently on my couch, secure in the knowledge that I was doing the right thing.

Next Week: Giving up on finding a shared temperature

(Continue to “The Meeting” ->)

The Cold Apartment (Part 1 of 3)

4253211430_d23dfe9df9_bOr as my girlfriend hears it, “The Coal Department.”

Tell me, readers, what strikes you as a reasonable temperature for one’s home in winter? 70 degrees? Maybe 65? What about 60? Now let me tell you, my friends, the long and complicated story of how my apartment’s baseline temperature made it down to forty-eight degrees Fahrenheit and stayed there for forty-eight hours. It is a story of challenge, of confusion, of communication and lack thereof. Most of all, it is a story of pride. Please sit, or start your treadmill desk, and get ready to hear the chilling tale of Western Manor Apartment K-6.

It all started last winter. Though a mild winter even for North Carolina standards, it did feature days that fell below comfort levels. It is a time of year when every group of roommates must come to an agreement regarding the degree to which they will take advantage of fossil fuels and energy to create unseasonable warmth in their place of residence.

Enter one Mr. Nathan Freeman, a Vermonter with an ineffable aversion to the climate of his youth.  When Nate first joined our apartment, he moved upstairs into the room next to mine. Shortly thereafter he removed the grate on his vent and positioned his desk such that he would spend his nights bathed in a column of hot air from the ceiling.  To accomplish this, he set our house to what I’m sure many of you would consider to be a reasonable 68 degrees.

Not me. Maybe it was my ascetic upbringing. Maybe it was my father who didn’t hesitate to use the word “evil” to describe an overutilization of resources of any kind. Maybe it was the fact that the particular thermodynamics of our apartment made a 68 degree thermostat set downstairs into a sauna in my room . In any case, I was not going to put up with such a temperature, and I told Nate as much.  Nate disagreed, leaving us at an impasse. Unable to resolve the matter between us, we had to reach out to the only affected third party.

Our enigmatic third roommate, who asked to be referred to only as “J”  lived next to the kitchen and spent most of his time in his little room so quiet that no one could possibly know if he was even home or not. You would be cooking dark and all alone in the house when the door behind you would creak open, sending a chill down your spine.  Before you could spin around and scream, J would step out, turn on the light, and say “hi, how’s it going?”

J was from Minnesota and, as it turned out, impervious to cold. This got me on the better side of majority rule and we set the temperature to 63. What I didn’t expect, though, was that later that week, when he and Nate were both leaving for the winter vacation, J would come to my room and tell me, “I’m going to be leaving for a while, so I’m setting the thermostat to fifty-four degrees. Is that ok?”

I didn’t have a very good sense of how hot or cold different specific degree temperatures were, but having so recently called upon the power of our icy landlord to settle my dispute with Nate, I knew when I was being challenged to put my money where my energy-conserving mouth was.  “Oh, definitely,” I huffed with the cockiest smirk I could muster, “54 is totally fine.”

“Ok,” said J, giving no hint on his face of what he was thinking. He closed the door. I heard his footsteps as he walked down the stairs and I imagined the beeping of the thermostat as he plunged it to a new low. I looked outside my window at the leafless trees and the squirrels huddling together against the bitter winds of winter. hmph, I grunted, I’m not afraid of the cold.

Next week: Sam lives in a house at 54 degrees for a week.
(Continue to Part 2 ->)