Mysterious CD-R Disc

One of the jetpacks we were promised was the easy availability of CD-R drives during my college years. As the ability to cheaply preserve massive amounts dovetailed with the growing popularity of other consumer-friendly technology such as digital photography & music, it became beyond easy to accumulate a rich media collection.

The downside of CD-R discs is their impermanence. Even if preserved in textbook conditions, there was no guarantee they wouldn’t degrade beyond repair. So when I found a single CD-R disc inside my time capsule, I immediately began to worry.

It turns out reading the disc wasn’t an issue. However, the bigger challenge was finding something to play it on!

Over the decades, cloud storage became the best way to preserve ones digital assets, so much so that disc drives became extinct. Our household has eight different computing devices amongst four people, and luckily one of them — my long-since-retired MacBook Pro 2011 laptop — had a drive which could read the disc.

If you want to take a spin yourself, check out this Spotify playlist of what matched the CD-R:

I never said I had good taste in music, but this stuff makes me happy to hear once again.

The disc turned out to contain a handful of songs created by artists with UNT connections. And because they’re too cool for Spotify, these songs performed by by friends were never heard beyond college. So here they are below for your pleasure:

12 Ounce Can of Red Bull

While playing soccer with my club team “The Mama’s Boys”, a curious car drove up to one of our pre-games. It was a speck of a vehicle, topped with a giant faux can of Red Bull. Out jumped a hottie who asked if we’d care to indulge in a sample of energy drink (first hit’s free!). All of us, being the invincible young male adults we believed we were, said hell yes. For the rest of the season, she returned for each of our Denton home games, and she was such a constant presence that we felt that Red Bull was basically our sponsor!

So naturally, I kept one of the cans for the time capsule. This turned out to be a mistake.

30 years of sugar reduction leads to nature’s glue.

When I opened the time capsule and took inventory, I noticed that the Red Bull can would not budge. I thought it might be wedged into some tight spot, but when I removed everything it remained firmly glued to the inside wall.

It turns out that the can had leaked, spoiling some of its neighboring curiosities. And the liquid had obviously evaporated over time, leaving behind a sugary tar-like substance that I kept getting all over my hands.

8.4 ounces of pure energy condensed, in the palm of my hand!

Luckily, the damage was fairly limited — although some paper material had been deluged & ended up stuck to each other, it wasn’t hard to separate it with a knife, and any words remained legible.

Red Bull: it gives you wings slime!

U.S. Treasury Savings Bond

Here’s the first of many surprises I’d forgotten interning within my time capsule.

In the summer of 1992, as I headed to college after graduating high school, my brother’s godmother gifted me an United States Treasury savings bond.

Specifically it was a Series EE note, designed to fully-mature after 30 years, which ironically was “checks notes” now in 2022. So much time has passed that the Treasury Department no longer issues these in paper form, so I now own my first antique!

The item itself was in rough shape, having taken liquid damage like many other of its neighboring time capsule contents. Despite the wear-and-tear, it remains legible — and redeemable!

The bond was originally purchased for $25. Per the Consumer Price Index inflation calculator (assuming you trust it), $25 in July 1992 has the same buying power as $51.16 today. Series EE bonds were designed to be redeemable at twice the purchase amount, so I was guaranteed at least $50. But according to the Treasury Department, the bond performed well, and has accumulated enough interest to make the total redeemable value exceed $100! It’s not often that one beats inflation…thanks, Biden!

If I had been smart, I would have placed more than just one savings bond in my time capsule. However, my graduation from UNT with an art degree & history minor tells you everything about my intelligence.

At least drinks are on me!

1997 U.S. Mint Proof Set

When I was a kid, my parents started doling out various family heirlooms to me and my brother. I don’t recall what they gave me, but I remember feeling screwed over because he inherited my dad’s coin collection.

As a history buff, I love tangible connections to our past such as currency. So it was natural to start my own collection! Each and every Christmas, I’d get a mint U.S. coin set like the one above, then augment it with miscellaneous contributions as I travelled around the world.

It’s fascinating to see the pristine condition of these coins, especially in contrast to the poor state of their in-capsule neighbors.

NTPSA Identification Card

Towards the end of college, I discovered a passion for soccer. While I was never physically-gifted, I had tons of hustle and developed a decent “soccer sense” over the years. I even joined a club team named the Mama’s Boys, which played in the North Texas Premiere Soccer Association.

Each NTPSA player was issued an identification card, which you provided to the referee in order to play. In turn, if you accumulated enough penalties, the referee would retain your card, and you couldn’t play your next game until they gave your card back after a disciplinary hearing.

I could either spend time honing my soccer skills, or acquiring a better haircut. Guess which I chose.

In 2000, my club the Mama’s Boys won their only championship, beating our arch-rivals in a shoot-out on a hot May afternoon. It was a great way to cap my career, since I would be leaving Denton in three months and never play with that group again. So after the season, I put my NTPSA ID card in the time capsule.

Celebrating our big win in the 2000 NTPSA Championship

A couple years later, I was out training for a marathon a random thought occurred to me: the ID card contained my picture. And my full name. And my birthdate, Social Security Number, and signature! In other words, the perfect ingredients for identity theft (if ever discovered).

Once again, my UNT education had failed me.