The New York Times—that arbiter of youth culture—reports on the "green" student houses springing up around the country, focusing on the one at Oberlin. (Voted as one of the top annoying liberal arts colleges by this very website!) "All year they studied together in the living room at night so they would not have to turn on lights in the other rooms. They mastered worm composting, lowered the thermostat — keeping it at 60 degrees for most of the winter ... and unplugged appliances." Aww! They're living like lil' pioneers. (Disclosure: during college, I lived in a house exactly like this, featuring huge rows over wasting bread and the evils of commercial cleaning products. To this day, I clean with vinegar out of fear.) The Obies, as they're called, have a very special way of making sure each other's showers are kept quick and dirty:
Lucas Brown, a junior at Oberlin College here, was still wet from the shower the other morning as he entered his score on the neon green message board next to the bathroom sink: Three minutes, according to the plastic hourglass timer inside the shower. Two minutes faster than the morning before. One minute faster than two of his housemates.
...The bathroom is the showstopper on the tour. Besides the hourglass timer — Mr. Brown pointed out that it was called a shower coach and cost $3 online — the shower's energy-saving motivational accessories include a picture of former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina plastered to the ceiling.
That was Ms. Bob-Waksberg's idea. No one wants to linger in the shower with someone staring down from the ceiling, she said.
"You could also look at it another way," she said, "that John Edwards is encouraging me to take a shorter shower."