I Wish I Were Old

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my articles from the now-defunct humor section, Tangent.
I Wish I Were Old

Mark J. Lehman
Managing Editor

Originally Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I'm only going to say this once: I wish I were old.

I don't mean older, like when kids wish they could be 18 years old so they can legally smoke Marlboros and watch pornography. No, I mean old, old -- like, smell like mothballs and forget where I put my teeth, old. Sure, it doesn't sound glamorous now, but keep reading and I think you'll be surprised.

Have you ever gone to Denny's with only $5 to your name, and all you really wanted was a couple of eggs and a short stack? The day you stop in for breakfast, however, happens to be the day after their $1.99 Grand Slam special has finished, and you cannot find anything other than a side of hash browns for less than $6.49. But wait! Eureka! A secret menu, filled with items that sound the same, yet cost conspicuously less, has just poked its head out from behind the dessert menu. Interestingly, each entree is preceded by the word "senior," but you give it little thought, since, after all, you're a senior in high school/college/life.

Then, like a mallet to the face, you see the small print at the bottom "For patrons over 55."

I'm only going to say this once: I wish I were old.

Despite the Muesli breakfasts and the frequent and uncontrollable urination -- or perhaps because of them -- old people have it good. Being old is like having a "get out of jail free" card, only instead of jail, you can substitute pretty much any word or phrase you want -- like "bad situation" or "boring dinner party" or "work." The best part, though, is that you don't even have to fake anything. You can just say "I'm bored," or "This sucks," or even just a loud mumble and flatulence work well to illustrate your disgust with whatever situation in which you might be stuck.

Back to the Denny's example. One of the main differences between college students and old people is not how much they party, because I know quite a few oldsters who can really bust a groove, some even without busting their hips. No, the big difference is in disposable incomes. Once you're old and retired, you've put in your hours and now you've got a wealth of cash to throw around frivolously. Best of all, though, is that having a driver's license that says you were born more than 60 years ago is like having a discount card for the entire world. Old folks only pay about 70% of what non-olds pay on movies, dinners and even strip clubs.

I'm only going to say this once: I wish I were old.

From being able to drive like a maniac to getting the chance to say "In my day..." and follow it with a long story that nobody cares about but everybody has to listen to, there's nothing about being old that doesn't appeal to me. If it doesn't appeal to you, though, then I guess it just "Depends" on your point of view.
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/2.4416/1.398777]
From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my articles from the now-defunct humor section, Tangent.
Appliance of the Month
The Tangent Salutes Blender

Mark J. Lehman
Managing Editor

Originally Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The smell of freshly cut strawberries and life invade my nasal cavity. I hear you working hard, rumbling and whirring and humming along, and I can't help but smile at how much fun you are having. Still, seeing you there, segregated from all of the other appliances, I can't help but think, especially this month, "Nobody puts Blender in a corner."

During these fractious times, Blender, you are like a beacon of light in this dark and troubled world. With so much discussion about diversity and unity, I've realized that we need you more than ever to come in and "mix things up." Though some people might disagree, I know that you aren't trying to rid us of our individuality, but rather blend us together into a sort of multicultural milkshake. I don't know about everyone else, but that sure sounds good to me.

Aside from your way of unifying all different types of food and people, Blender, you are also more versatile than I think most give you credit. From "grate" to "liquify" settings, you are like a speed skater who has won gold medals in both the 500m and the 10,000m events, and as star athletes like Apolo Anton Ohno know, this is no easy endeavor. What Ohno doesn't know, though, is the joy and satisfaction of creating a melon and pineapple smoothie that even a casual fruit eater can enjoy.

Blender, you are friendly, intelligent and sharp as a tack. How could anyone not love you?
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/2.4416/1.398775]

Board Editorial: Stop Talking and Start Doing

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my Opinion articles.
Board Editorial: Stop Talking and Start Doing

Originally Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Yesterday, besides the abundance of PDA and over-consumption of chocolate, we witnessed a day devoted to love. No matter one's feelings about Valentine's Day, known to some as Singles' Awareness Day, there is something appealing about a day set aside for appreciating those who are important to us. Days like these are especially welcome when one bears in mind the considerable amount of discussion about love and acceptance that has been taking place on campus.

In recent weeks, diversity has been an especially common word in the vocabularies of both LMU students and staff. Debate over the passage of an amendment adding provisions for diversity to the job description of the V.P. for social justice was immediately followed by a heated discussion over whether or not to change the title of the position to "V.P. for social justice and diversity." The issue that began in an ASLMU senate meeting has ballooned into a campus-wide deliberation regarding the university's role in, as well as the definition of, diversity.

The Loyolan has been flooded with letters and opinion articles discussing diversity from all ends of the spectrum. But more important than words in a newspaper is action on campus. After the racial incidents of fall 2004, the school formed a task force that formed an ombuds network, which acts as a liaison between those who wish to file complaints and the appropriate authorities. The Coalition for Diverse Education has been sponsoring forums to discuss the departure of many professors of color. Tomorrow, Dr. Abbie Robinson-Armstrong is facilitating a discussion about the benefits of a more diverse university faculty.

We can talk about diversity until we're blue in the face. We can make rainbow stickers to try to rid this campus of homophobia, we can create t-shirts that say "Discrimination Affects Me," and we can even spend months amending the ASLMU constitution to include diversity in the responsibilities of the V.P. for social justice. But diversity isn't one person's responsibility, it's everyone's.

To really be diverse on campus, we need to open our minds and gain some new perspectives. Stop talking about diversity; instead, if you're Mexican, join the Black Student Union. If you're white, join Asian and Pacific Islander Association. If you're male, stop in on one of the meetings for Nuestra Alma Latina. No matter your sexual preference(s), join the Gay Straight Alliance.

One does not have to be a minority, homosexual, disabled or otherwise to support equality and diversity. The best way to do it is to learn about other people, other cultures and other perspectives on this campus and in this community.
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/opinion/1.398891]

A Chilly 'Eight Below' Can't Pull Its Weight

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my Arts & Entertainment articles.
A Chilly 'Eight Below' Can't Pull Its Weight
Movie Review: "Eight Below"

Mark J. Lehman
Managing Editor

Originally Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It may be that Disney has finally figured out that it's possible to make a decent film about animals where the animals themselves don't talk. Of course, in the case of the new film "Eight Below," that means that Jason Biggs and Paul Walker have to fill some of the silence, so it's kind of a lose-lose situation all around.
"Eight Below" is a survival story about a pack of eight sled dogs in Antarctica that get left behind after an emergency evacuation. Paul Walker plays Gerry Shepherd, an explorer on a scientific expedition in Antarctica, and from the moment the film begins, director Frank Marshall shows the bond between Shepherd and his eight sled dogs -- Buck, Dewey, Max, Maya, Old Jack, Shadow, Shorty and Truman.

Shepherd takes an American geologist (Bruce Greenwood) out to look for a meteorite from Mercury in the cold vast expanse of Antarctica, but problems arise as a major storm sets in and the group of scientists has to evacuate their post immediately. To Walker's chagrin, there is not enough room on the plane to take his dogs, and when they arrive safely outside of the storm's reach, the conditions have worsened to the point of not being able to fly back for a second trip to rescue the dogs. Thus, the dogs must survive through more than half a year of unimaginably brutal winter.

This is the inspiring part of the story, and this is the part that should have consumed the majority of the film. Sadly, though, nearly half of the film focuses on Shepherd's nearly futile attempts to somehow go back to the bottom of the world to rescue his pups. Director Marshall and writer David DiGilio do not understand who their hero should be, focusing too much on the human characters -- which, for the most part, are fairly one-dimensional -- and leaving the amazing part of the story how eight dogs tried to survive for months by themselves in way below freezing conditions -- as wrap around footage.

Luckily for audiences, the footage of the dogs and their story is truly a spectacle. While cheesy and somewhat unrealistic at parts, such as when the director humanizes the dogs and makes them seem as though they are talking and giving orders, many of the moments seem so candid and natural that one might think this was a documentary rather than a big studio feature film. A rare moment of death in a Disney film is shot and performed by the dogs with such a natural quality that it is absolutely heartbreaking.

Still, there is just too much unnecessary and unremarkable plot to keep one entertained and interested throughout. Along with Walker's constant struggle to get back to his pups, which at least seems realistic because of the bond established between him and the dogs at the beginning, Marshall also threw in a love story between Walker and a woman from his past (Moon Bloodgood) who helps fly him out of Antarctica in the beginning. The whole romantic aspect of the film is a throwaway plot point that should have been, well, thrown away.

If Disney wanted to make a survival story about sled dogs in Antarctica, they should have done just that, and left the other dramatic stuff to other movies, where it might actually matter and people might actually care.

Starring Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood Directed by Frank Marshall Written by David DiGilio

Grade: C+
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/entertainment/1.398861]

Board Editorial: Lion Pride Rides the Tide

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my Opinion articles.
Board Editorial: Lion Pride Rides the Tide

Originally Published: Friday, February 10, 2006

Picture this: you step inside Gersten Pavilion and are greeted by a sea of bodies covered in burgundy and blue, and your ears are filled with the cacophonous sound of screaming, unruly college students. No, not college students-Lions!

Tomorrow night we face Pepperdine in the two most anticipated basketball games of the season. The women's game starts at 5 p.m. and the men go on at 7:30 p.m. We expect you to be there at no later than 5 p.m. with Lion merchandise, tireless vocal cords and painted bellies. All of you. Even you, kid who just plays X-Box all day.

Our school is comprised of students with a diverse range of opinions, political affiliations and religions. But there is one thing that unites the student body more than anything-and no, we're not talking about free food. We're talking about the extreme dislike of Pepperdine. We're talking about sheer, unadulterated hostility for the other team. Case in point: the largest group on Facebook is none other than the "Pepperdine sucks at everything" group, with 912 members.

We've got reason to be cocky-our women's team is first in conference, and men's is second. If Iggy met the Pepperdine mascot in a dark alley, there's no doubt he'd come out on top. Soggy, but on top. You know why? Their mascot is a freakin' wave.

This is our chance to show the kids from "The 'bu" what we're made of. So let's support LMU basketball, and bask in the unity that only a hot cross-town rivalry can bring. Do it for Hank. Do it for your mom. Or do it for that cute athlete you're trying to impress.

However, our duty extends beyond attendance to this one hyped-up night of basketball. In leaving the Pepperdine game tomorrow night, overflowing happily with nachos and cheer from our inevitable victory, take note of this feeling and think of all the games to come. Perhaps it's time to make school spirit a regular thing. Water polo, baseball, go crazy! Let's extend our infectious pep to all LMU sports, and our enmity for Pepperdine to all WCC schools.

So Lions, we are confident that we will see you at the games. Hopefully it'll be over by 10 p.m. so Pepperdine can make their curfew. Zing!
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/opinion/1.398950]

New password policy for students

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my News articles.
New password policy for students

Mark J. Lehman
Managing Editor

Originally Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Information Technology Services (ITS) is implementing a new password policy to NetReg, which will require every student to change their ManeGate passwords one time each semester. NetReg is a network administrative tool that will help ITS locate and solve problems, such as viruses on the LMU network. The policy is one part of a host of advances in network technology and security on the LMU campus.

"It will go into effect later this semester and will recur every semester," said Residential Network (ResNet) Coordinator Nick Thompson. "It's based on standard best practices, because a lot of security breaches are based on weak passwords."

According to Thompson, students will not have to change any other passwords besides their ManeGate one because, "The campus is moving toward a single sign-on with ManeGate on a single directory." This means that PROWL, Blackboard, E-Time and other online resources for students will be accessible through ManeGate, and students will not have to login multiple times to many different programs.

Erin Griffin, assistant vice president for information technology, said, "We wanted to wait to implement the policy until we had an online password change capability, which was implemented in June with the ManeGate portal. We then delayed the password change until this semester so we could do it while faculty, staff and students are nearby, in case any problems are experienced."

There will also be requirements as to password length, type of characters and repetition. Passwords will have to be eight characters and composed of both letters and numbers.

"With a lot of the downloading programs right now-like Kazaa and LimeWire-a lot of computer viruses get through that way," Thompson said. "Students might not be aware that they are actually virus hosts. So now when we see something on the network causing a problem, we can track it down to the machine and link it to that user. That's what we've been able to do with the wireless for awhile, and now we'll be able to do more."

Though Thompson and ITS said that NetReg is an improvement to security, some students have expressed concern over various issues, including privacy and compatibility with the aforementioned download programs.

"[The network] has been slower," sophomore film production major Mike Litzenberg said. "I assumed it was to monitor those programs [like Kazaa, LimeWire, etc], but I don't know that for a fact."

Thompson assured that the download programs "stopped working before we employed NetReg; we didn't actively do anything. We're always going through our switches and routers to try to enable as much as possible, the use of the network for stuff like online gaming."

As far as using download programs, which can be used for illegal downloads, Thompson said, "We're proactive about allowing people great access [to the network]. We're not going to stop it, necessarily."

"Most campuses use NetReg," Thompson added. "It will give us a real-time look at what is happening on the network."
[via Los Angeles Loyolan: http://www.laloyolan.com/news/1.399042]
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