William Lee Adams

BREAD BAKING? PARTY!

Beach, beer and bikinis--for many college students, this is the ideal recipe for spring break. But for Julia Manian, a sophomore at the University of Missouri, Cancun simply wouldn't do.

ATHLETICS: A PENALTY MARKER

It just got harder to win an athletic scholarship to the University of Oklahoma. The university has announced that all prospective athletes must undergo a criminal background check before committing to the school.

INSURANCE: EYES ON THE ROAD

The moment Jacob Sevlie pulls out of his driveway, he knows he's being watched. Not by Big Brother--by Progressive Car Insurance. Sevlie is one of 5,000 Minnesota drivers invited to participate in a yearlong pilot program for the TripSensor, a matchbox-size device that monitors how fast, how far and at which times drivers travel.

VAULT ART: THE VIEW FROM THE BEYOND

Marine Cpl. Shane Kielion, 23, died in Fallujah last Nov. 15--hours after his wife gave birth to their first son. At a graveside service in Omaha, Neb., nine days later, mourners gathered around Kielion's burial vault to admire images adorning the lid: the statue of Saddam Hussein toppling, tanks storming the desert, an Iraqi girl waving an American flag.Customizing burial vaults, the boxes that protect a casket after interment, has become a popular way to pay tribute to fallen veterans.

ALL-NIGHT BOOKING

It's 1 a.m., Jacqueline Roberts has work to finish, but Harvard's last library has closed. So she heads to her dorm's laundry room, where the hum of dryers offers less noise than two roommates. "The only thing worse than having seven pages left to write on a term paper due the next day is having absolutely no place to write that term paper," she says.For students like her, help may be on the way.

SCIENCE: LOOKING YEARS YOUNGER

The phrase "don't be such a baby" implies that expressing fear is childish. According to Abigail Marsh, a Harvard Ph.D. and researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, this may be what nature intended.In a paper to be published in January's Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Marsh reports that frightened faces--with their wide, round eyes, raised eyebrows and rounded lower region--are perceived to resemble a baby's facial appearance.

ACTIVISM: HARVARD HITS THE SWING STATES

Leslie Bishop and Rebecca Leventhal, seniors at Harvard, want to get youth voters to polls on Nov. 2. With a $600 donation from the dean of Winthrop House, their dorm, the duo printed 800 T shirts that read I DECIDE. "We are a more materialistic generation," says Leventhal. "We wanted a trend out there that would actually affect the election." One problem: Massachusetts isn't exactly a swing state.

Ivory Tower: Teachings Of Tupac

The class: "Hip Hop America: Power, Politics and the Word." The textbook: "Yo Mama's Dysfunctional." The university: Harvard. The professor's tenure status: denied.This past summer, two years after the acrimonious departure of African-American Studies professor Cornel West from the Harvard campus, university president Lawrence Summers declined to offer tenure to Marcyliena Morgan, a rising star in the Af-Am department.

E-MAIL: VOICE FROM THE GRAVE

Always wanted the last word? Now you can have it--from six feet under. LastWishes.com, a Dallas-based Web site, allows customers to create a list of people who will receive personalized messages, photos and videos via e-mail upon the subscriber's death.

Books: Metal Defector

At the age of 10, cherub-faced Seb Hunter wanted one thing for Christmas: heavy-metal band AC/DC's latest album, featuring the raunchy single "Let's Get It Up." Six years later he dropped out of his English boarding school and began a 15-year quest to become a "rock-star god"--and failed.

Bocce: My Turn, Grandpa!

The ancient sport of bocce suffers from an image problem. "It conjures up this picture of old Italians with a glass of wine and a stogie," says Mario Pagnoni, author of the definitive guide to the sport, "The Joy of Bocce." Male octogenarians long held a monopoly on the game because of tradition. "One of the problems was, old Italian men didn't let women or kids play," Pagnoni says.But those days are gone.

LET'S HUG

At least twice a week, Marcia Baczynski and Reid Mihalko don pajamas, snack on munchies and snuggle up with stuffed animals on the floor. Sound like your typical junior-high sleepover?

FOOTBALL: FLOWING WITH THE 'TIDE'

Pompoms, cheer-leaders, tailgating and oversize Styrofoam hands--yes, college-football season is already upon us. Before the first game kicks off next Saturday, diehard fans--or anyone who finds their antics entertaining, for that matter--should peruse Warren St.

TRAVEL: THE SIMPLE LIFE

Feed animals and bale hay--on vacation? tip sheet's William Lee Adams checks out the best agro-getaways.Hummerhaven Farmstead, Pa. This 127-acre farm in the Appalachians boasts private two-story cottages for $75 per family per night.

HAPPINESS:NO FROWNY FACES HERE

War changes everything--even the Secret Society of Happy People. The not-so-secret group, which has more than 6,000 members worldwide in the United States, Zimbabwe, India, Iraq and 20 other countries, is best known for establishing Admit You're Happy Month, which is celebrated in August and recognized by 19 U.S. states.

TAKING A FRONT SEAT

This week, Elena Tenchikova, 19, will be steering a new set of wheels. Unlike some of her classmates at Brooklyn College, however, she won't be cruising to a party.

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