Everything you need to know

Dear Joe,

In class, I always like to give my view of what’s happening. Because of this, I frequently raise my hand and ask many questions. While I find that my questions often give insight to problems, some fellow students think otherwise. I was told by someone that I was distracting the entire class. In a democratic classroom, shouldn’t I be allowed to have my say?

—Hands Up in Hamerschlag

Dear Hands,

Yes, you do have a right to raise your hand. You also have the right to nag your waiter for a new spoon, or take an inordinate amount of pennies from the “give a penny, take a penny” tray. However, Hands, rights aren’t always right. Questions in class should be saved for when a student is confused, or when a comment helps express a viewpoint that facilitates the class. All too often, though, we are faced with students who ask questions that divert attention, waste class time, or demand praise.

Maybe it’s true that your questions are helpful, but if they’re starting to annoy other students, then maybe it’s time to start questioning your questions. How much time are your questions taking? Are you rambling? Could you just ask the professor after class? You may just find that you fall under the classification of “That Guy.”

“That Guy” is notorious for always raising his hand, giving “insight,” and using words such as “ignorant” and “esoteric” to describe basically everything. No cure is yet known for “That Guy,” so I can only hope, Hands, that your issue is an isolated incident. If you have any questions about this article, please wait until you’ve read it in its entirety, and then e-mail me afterward. And no, I will not award extra credit if your response is over five pages long.

Happy handed,

Dear Joe,

Brrr! It’s frigid outside! As a freshman from Hawaii, I’m starting to think about whether going to college in a freezer is a good idea. How do I get through this period of frigidness and keep my sanity?

—Frigid in Fairfax

Dear Frigid,

As a northerner, I have grown used to (but not affectionate toward) the annual arctic blast. What’s resulted is a pretty systematic method toward surviving the cold. Granted, it may seem somewhat unorthodox, but if you want to feel your hands, then you’ll listen. First off, on an especially freezing day, try to dress in layers. Given the current weather, I would suggest seven to eight layers. From outside in, this includes a parka, a winter jacket, a hoodie, a sweater, a long-sleeved T-shirt, a short-sleeved T-shirt, an undershirt, and a layer of petroleum gel to guard against any water. Scarves, earmuffs, gloves, and snow goggles are also necessary to the equation. We’ll leave from the waist down as an exercise for the reader.

Besides dress, keeping warm in a cold, cold world requires hot food and drink. With that said, scrap your iced coffee and fruit salad, and instead choose hearty foods with large amounts of fat and salt so as to provide a layer of blubber to protect you from the elements. Choosing any food that includes bacon, sour cream, or chili is moving in the right direction. For drinks, just put whatever you’re about to drink in the microwave for 30 seconds, and your beverage becomes “hot.” This is great for hot tea, hot soda, and hot water. Finally, winter’s dreariness can sometimes cause not only coldness of the body, but coldness of the soul. Stay warm with your family, friends, and acquaintances. Remember, they have to deal with this misery of bitterness for the next three months as well.

Stay warm,