Anthology of Answers IV (The Mic Drop): We close the book box on suggestions


Paul Hudson (Flickr Creative Commons)

Columnist Riley Wheaton answers the last questions of the suggestion box.

You asked, I answered – ah, you know the drill.  

This is the final anthology of answers.  I will answer every outstanding question which I am allowed to answer here.  Buckle up for the last wild ride with the Observatory.


Parents and how to deal with them

The best tip I can give based on my time dealing with parents is this: be opportunistic. If you have the opportunity to do something tiny which you can pass off as a good deed, take that opportunity. If you’re passionate about something or if something hilarious happened at school take the opportunity to rant to your parents about it. They’ll cherish the connection and it’ll help get them through the hard times. Hopefully these things can increase the level of kinship your parents feel toward you and will encourage them to give you a longer leash.

My other tip is to kids and parents. Kids: apply the Riley Wheaton Decision Making Method (or RWDMM (better acronym pending)), and parents, if you want to raise independent thinkers allow your children to follow this method.

The best tip I can give based on my time dealing with parents is this: be opportunistic.”

— Riley Wheaton, columnist

When presented with a choice to make…

  1. Get informed advice from smart people (this is super important DON’T SKIP IT!).
  2. Decide what you think the best course of action is.
  3. Do that.
  4. Don’t feel bad about it. You chose your best.

If you don’t want sycophants who are unable to clothe themselves, then allow your high school age children to make most decisions for themselves and be there to support them (but not bail them out) when they run into consequences.


The relationship between the evolution of European writing & the Christianization of Europe.

One of my regrets about this column is that I don’t have time to do this question justice. I recommend to anyone who was interested in this title to speak to Ivan about it. When I talked to him he already seemed to know far more than I could ever find out over a week of research. The best I can offer is that if you are still interested enough in this subject to write a letter to the Rubicon next year, Ivan, I’ll read it avidly. Thank you for your curiosity! I’m sorry again that I cannot rise to this challenge.


“It’s my hope that on the day Zorp comes to ravage the earth he will spare me and say “Riley, I was going to incinerate you, but that was a very thoughtful piece you wrote about sleep deprivation. I only slept five hours in the last century!”””

— Riley Wheaton, Columnist

CORN God damnit!

I’m still fascinated by whoever took the time to sit down and write a series of eleven corn suggestions (all varied and available for perusal in the Corn Vault). Now I don’t have nearly enough space to write a true and deserved ode to corn and all its wondrous facets. I could ramble for hours about how corn (and more specifically the ethanol that comes from it) used to be responsible for some of the most misguided misrepresentation in the political world when the Iowa Caucuses roll around. But rather than throw all that at my audience I’ll unbend just enough to make an Observatory across sticks in honor of the genuine hard work this suggester (or suggesters) put into writing this series of cards.

C is for contribute, a thing that you do,

O is for on point, you through and through.

R is for Red Hats and Heroes Reborn,

N is for never will I forget about CORN!


Wheaton received several suggestions that he describes as "satanic symbols."
Riley Wheaton
Wheaton received several suggestions that he describes as “satanic symbols.”

The end is near Write WRITE!

Well people do frequently ask me “why do you write like you’re running out of time?” so you’re not alone in your sentiment. As it happens, I too fear the coming apocalypse and have been doing my best to get as much on record as I can before the judgement day. It’s my hope that on the day Zorp comes to ravage the earth he will spare me and say “Riley, I was going to incinerate you, but that was a very thoughtful piece you wrote about sleep deprivation. I only slept five hours in the last century!”



Whether these are crossed out eggs with eyes or the marks of some obscure religion which I’m not familiar with, I’m interested to see them. I choose to believe that they are karmic retribution from the universe for the time I convinced some of my kindergarten cohorts to call down the forces of darkness on one of our colleagues. So I pray for forgiveness: Hail Zorp!


Suffice it to say, to Diane, Ms. Campbell, and to the whole staff, I Rubi-love you all too.”

— Riley Wheaton, columnist


The Rubicon has given me one of the most incredible gifts of my entire highschool career (and that’s saying something because this Christmas one of my friends gave me an awesome telescoping presentation style pointer), they’ve given me the opportunity to share my thoughts with the whole school, something most students only get once, and for five to seven minutes. Every time I visit the Rubicon they’re always hard at work, and they’re always ready to pause to say hello and support me when I need it.  They’re committed, and brilliant, and passionate, and an inspiration. Without the whole staff of the Rubicon I NEVER would have been able to write these columns every week… or two weeks… or occasionally…

Ms. Campbell deserves an individual thank you. I had some funny ideas coming into this column (and I still have some funny ideas a year later) but she was always there to help guide me toward the effective and interesting. She shared tremendous wisdom while managing, at the same time, to bolster my enthusiasm for writing.

More than anyone else, though, my editor, Diane, deserves a standing ovation from anyone not currently under a dangerously low ceiling. She has worked with me on these columns late at night and early in the morning (sometimes without a break in between). She’s given me feedback that frustrated me and she’s given feedback that made me glow with pride and strive to do even better. Perhaps I’ll continue writing in the future but I have no doubt that I have been utterly spoiled for editors. Her commitment, flexibility, sense of humor, graphical abilities, and wisdom will be impossible to match by whatever poor soul draws the “edit Riley” short straw next year. One million thank yous would not be enough.

Suffice it to say, to Diane, Ms. Campbell, and to the whole staff, I Rubi-love you all too.


You’ve given me many suggestions, so let me give you two before I close the box.  

Suggestion 1: get the app IFTT and subscribe to the NASA Astronomy Image of the day.  They’re breathtakingly beautiful and a great way to start each day.  They’ve also provided more than one Observatory cover photo :).

Suggestion 2: with summer rolling in we felt it incumbent upon us to share the Observatory style list for the summer.

Best love song: Astronauts by Rachel Platten

Best showtune: Stars by Claude-Michel Schonberg

Best remake of a David Bowie song: Rocket Man by Elton John (look it up)

Best a capella song: Starships by Pentatonix

Best stoner song: Across the Universe by The Beatles

Best album: Bombs Away by Sheppard

Best band: Walk the Moon

Best movie: Interstellar

Best newspaper: The Star Tribune

That’s a wrap on the suggestion box.  A million times thank you to everyone who submitted questions, I got about 60 in all (although a third of those were “pizza”).  Conversing with you has been a privilege and I hope to keep talking with many of you from time to time when I’m in Pennsylvania next year.