Dear Ephelia

Ephelia Ephelia

My boyfriend will not stop talking about drones. What is a polite way to get him to shut up?

According to, toddlers have a tough time understanding “no,” and the best thing to do is “distract and redirect.” Show him what to do instead of telling him what not to do, and be sure to commend his curiosity! An appropriate response might look like: “Wow William! It’s great that you are so passionate about the defense industry, but why don’t we try channeling that energy into x,” where x is his economics homework, personal hygiene, relationship with you… what have you. If the process feels trying, that’s because it is. It takes patience and perseverance to train a child, so don’t give up. 

What are the ethics of talking in Wachenheim?

Professor of Mathematics Thomas Garrity loves to say that “functions describe the world,” and the North Science chit-chat etiquette is no exception. The decision to talk or remain silent is almost entirely a function of the noise level. If the people around you are talking, then feel free to gossip with your friend over your problem set. On the other hand, if it’s quiet enough to hear a pin drop, I would probably avoid breaking the silence unless it is absolutely necessary or you just don’t care. Overall, I would say Wachenheim is a more laid-back and casual environment than other study spots and talking is low stakes — but us math majors treat that building like our personal living room, so I am a bit biased. 

Catholic girly here — any suggestions as to what I should give up for Lent? 

My pious queen, for Lent you should stop giving that person a chance! In the words of the famously eloquent George W. Bush, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” Enough of the basic chocolate, coffee, social media Lent resolutions, let’s take heed of Bush’s counterterrorism rhetoric, and do away with patience and forgiveness this year. 

How late is too late to do work on weekend nights? 

Library hours would suggest sometime around 7 p.m., but I would say a good time to stop is somewhere around an hour and a half before your desired bedtime. Most weekdays, I work from the time I wake up to the time I pass out, and I think that on weekends it is necessary to give yourself a buffer to relax. Hang out with close friends, pull up to a party, or just watch a movie. Everything that needs to be done will get done, and giving yourself a break will probably make you more productive in the long run. 

Be honest. Where is the best place to get coffee in Williamstown? 

I spent this week visiting all of the Williamstown coffee destinations to collect data for you. To ensure I received no preferential treatment, I wore a super discreet disguise (my glasses) so as not to reveal my status as an acclaimed food writer. Unfortunately for your bank account and my own, the clear winner is Tunnel City.

The coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts tastes like river water, and Spring Street Market’s was simply not worth the cost. Goodrich had the low-cost factor going for it, but the excruciatingly long line, notes of sewer run-off, and unavailability of every kind of milk and cream cheese quickly took it out of the running. And Paresky coffee is, well, Paresky coffee. Although the probability of Tunnel coffee ripping your intestines to shreds is never zero, it consistently tastes the best. 

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