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31 December 2006

An Amazing Year

Here we are in the last few hours of 2006. Midnight has already fallen over the entire eastern hemisphere and is rapidly approaching. I'd better make this post count. So I'll start by comparing this year to my expectations last year:

Honestly, as 2005 wanes, I hope 2006 will bring some exciting "firsts" into my life. I don't know what they'll be, but I'm really hoping they'll be fun.
This is what I wrote one year ago today in my New Year's Eve post for 2005. And for the most part, that's exactly what happened. With 2006 being the first full calendar year I've had this blog, I can actually go back and look at what I've documented... which is good, because I don't think I'd otherwise be able to think of much in time for the new year. Time to get reflective.

I started January by making a little something in Photoshop in honor of the year, and in doing so, opening the doors to the world of opportunities that awaited me. Four days in, I turned 18, which was certainly the first of many milestones. Actually, if you count December 2005, which is when I got accepted to Pitt, I was in the middle of a big stretch of "happy," which continued on 13 January when I received notification of my awesome scholarship. But, as always happens when classes are ending, the stress of finals and papers came on in the latter part of the month. So much stress, in fact, that I created a Wall of Shame to vent my frustrations. Thankfully, I haven't had to do that since.

February was an emotional month. I lost my girlfriend for still-unexplained reasons, and I met a new friend who helped me through my sadness. I reflected on the antics of other friends and escaped the threat of another Friday the Seventeenth. And of course, the Steelers won the Super Bowl. How great is that? Meanwhile, District Choir was preparing me for things to come...

March and April were probably some of the most fun months of the year, but they were also extremely stressful. It started with Region Band, where I missed States by one chair. Then Region Choir, where I made States. A few days later, we said goodbye to the cats we'd been babysitting, and before I knew it, my family was with the marching band in Florida, and I wasn't really able to practice my music for States while we were gone. But I ended up getting fifth chair anyway; quite an accomplishment! And amidst all this, I was switching Calculus books and finalizing my decision to go to Pitt. Missing all that school gave me a bad case of senioritis, but I stuck through and finished the incomplete work I'd had from the third quarter. And of course, I got measured on Easter, only to find that I hadn't really grown much at all.

May was madness. The first ten days were overflowing with blog-fodder so much that I wrote a huge post that got lost in the abyss of cyberspace, so I declared and celebrated a day of remembrance for it. Which reminds me, I'd better save this post right now. Anyways, I got a new girlfriend; I was a little worried about going off to college, though... she didn't think it would be a big deal. I wonder who was right.

June was a big deal. As I said last year, "For almost my entire life, June 2006 has been the endpoint of any long-range plans I have had." We had our senior class trip on 06/06/06, then baccalaureate the next day, adding gum to my locker, and by the time it hit me, I was halfway through my speech. Minutes later, I graduated. Preparations for college rapidly progressed after that, as I went down to Pittsburgh for orientation late in the month, which unfortunately was my then-girlfriend's birthday. This had been scheduled long before that, though.

I started July with a huge graduation party, and we celebrated Independence Day by watching my grandfather almost die while holding a lit emergency flare. Good times... But then I got really sick and started writing thank you notes. It's probably a good thing, though, because at least they got done.

And then August came. I got my driver's license, and then was thrust into college life. Things get sort of lumped together from here.

Throughout September and October, I learned a lot at Pitt: about myself, about others, and about life in general. There was lots of stress in varying shapes and sizes, but eventually I adjusted to the situations. Getting involved with the band certainly helped me there.

In November, I had another busy week, and my girlfriend and I finally broke up as a result. My streak of avoiding Fridays the Seventeenth had ended, but I don't have to deal with that again until August 2007.

And in December, I got my grades back, some pretty good numbers to show for all my hard work. The year came full circle with the arrival of my new computer, much faster and cooler than the now thirteen-year-old machine I mentioned last New Year's Eve, which still sits in our basement. And I finally got to see some family that I'd been missing... and some that I hadn't.

All in all, I really did do a lot this year. I loved 2006, but we're on the verge of 2007, and we must move on. You can imagine, however, how I felt as I sat in church this morning, and the substitute pastor said that 2006 was behind us, and that "we must bury it, approaching 2007 in a new way." Don't get me wrong; I'm very optimistic for 2007, but 2006 will hold a special place in my heart. But why wouldn't it? We shouldn't bury all of our past. How else would we learn from our failures, and enjoy our successes?

And so, before New York's ball drops in a few hours (and Pittsburgh's ball rises), let me say as I said back on the first day of this year, it's 2006 and I'm proud of this year, dangit!


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29 December 2006


Yay for PHP! It does some pretty cool things. And this'll be a rather geeky post.

I'm working on redoing the GHS Marching Band website, and part of that involves the capability for multiple users to post events to a calendar. And I don't want to have to set aside time every year or so to physically make the calendars for every month.

So my friend Corey and I got together this morning and, teaching me PHP by example, we made this lovely creation. It works almost perfectly, except for one little bug that'll be a bit difficult to fix. This will be the basic template on which we'll slap code to actually search for events in the database and more code to make it look nice.

It's not like I have a deadline or anything, although it'd be really nice if it were up by the beginning of May, when they first start rehearsals for the 2007-08 season.

Random tangent: So Craig, Laurel, and I will get together and attempt to make "butterscotch gâteau" this evening from an old English cookbook (and yes, everything's in metric). I have a feeling that this cooking experiment will warrant another post when all is said and done...


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21 December 2006

Gadgets and Grades

Well, I'm home! I've been home for a while, actually, but I didn't think that I'd be so busy doing hardly anything but relaxing. As I mentioned in my last post, I was leaving for Girard immediately after my PHYS final on 15 December. And that was just what happened; after the final, I trudged back to the lobby of my dorm to find my father sitting there waiting for me. My mother was using the bathroom. Oh, well.

But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself. Something tells me this could be a long post. I started the day on Friday 15 December by waking up earlier than I usually did. The finals earlier in the week had worn me out, so I found myself unable to pack Thursday night. Trying hard not to disturb my roommate, who was on the third of three consecutive days without an exam (although he had two on Saturday), I started packing around 07:30.

After finishing most of my packing, I went to the Book Center to see if I could find some nice Christmas gifts for my parents. I did. And that's all I can say because they read this blog from time to time, and as such, divulging any further information would defeat the purpose of the surprise. I may write about it after the holiday.

I went to the Student Union and had a fairly early lunch before my exam started at 12:00. The exam was uneventful. I mean, it was an exam. And this puts me right about where I started. Great.

So we went up to my room, gathered my belongings, and left my roommate in peace. We were in the room for about 20 minutes or so, and I think he said a grand total of three words to us in that time. My mother later mentioned that that bothered her. Why? He just doesn't talk to strangers, that's all!

I think it was my father who mentioned the sudden increase in furniture in the hallways. Or maybe it was my mother. Or maybe I'm making this all up. In any case, I pointed out the "Lounge Furniture Amnesty" sign on the way out. Apparently at the beginning of the semester, one of the other floors came and stole chairs and tables and whatnot from all the other floors for use in their rooms. Needless to say, the other floors were not happy... to say nothing of the Resident Director, who posted the sign, which said, "Residents... will have an opportunity to place any hall or lounge furniture back where it belongs before Thursday, December 14th in order to avoid documentation and fine(s)."

Well, the furniture came back, but not a day sooner than it had to. I really think we ended up with more than we started with... but we only had it for about three days way back in August, so who can remember how much we were supposed to have?

Travelling up the Interstate, I was given my cell phone. And I got to keep it this time. On Sunday 10 December, when my parents came to see the Heinz Chapel Choir concert, Dad brought my cell phone down and let me play with it, but he wouldn't let me keep it during finals week. That was probably a fairly good idea. But now I have it, along with the stupid 30-second advertisement on startup and the free nights that start at 21:01 rather than 21:00.

But that doesn't matter. When we got home, my parents left almost immediately for a dinner party and dropped my brother and I off with our grandparents, who later took us to our great-grandmother's house to have dinner and watch General McLane play in the state football championship, which they ultimately won.

Yada, yada, yada. Next day.

My computer came. Need I say more? We fired it up and started installing programs to make it functional. And now you are reading my first blog post from this machine.

So that was exciting news, but certainly not interesting. Skip a few days, my brother goes back to school for the week. He becomes miserable, and there's little I can do about it but reassure him that it all ends on Friday. On Tuesday, my mother called from work for "tech support," wondering how to move a folder out from a folder on her computer. It was difficult to help her over the phone, so she said that I could help her when I came today.

Wait, what? Why would I be going to your workplace? Apparently, she signed my father and I up to help out with some Christmas caroling... without really telling us. It's a good thing I still hadn't made my plans to meet up with a friend. The downside, though, is that I can't meet with him until next week now, which is when all my cousins will be up for the holiday, which is when I'll be least likely to want to leave.

Speaking of which, Laurel and I made a blog for the Cousin Club. We figured it's about time. I must add a disclaimer, however, or she will never forgive me: It was her idea. I only take credit for actually making the thing work the way we wanted it to. And there's still more work to be done.

A couple more days pass, and with Pitt's new grade-posting policy, I was treated each night with another grade or two from my classes. Here's the breakdown:

CHEM 0760 Honors General Chemistry for Engineers 1 3 cr. B+
ENGR 0081 Freshman Engineering Seminar 10 cr. S
ENGR 0711 Honors Engineering Analysis & Computing3 cr. A+
MATH 0235 Honors 1-Variable Calculus4 cr. B+
MUSIC 0630 Marching Band1 cr. A
PHYS 0174 Basic Physics for Science & Engineering 14 cr. A-
PSY 0010 Introduction to Psychology3 cr. A

Yes, that's an "S" for "satisfactory" in my zero-credit seminar. Apparently I showed up enough. Anyway, when you do the math, that adds up to a QPA of 3.653 on 18 credits, which would put me on the Term List. And that's pretty darn awesome.

As far as the commentary goes on the above, I was really worried about CHEM. And I mean really worried; I thought a "B-" was my best hope. I was not anticipating a "plus" in either ENGR 0711 or MATH 0235, but both were certainly welcome. Apart from that, everything was as I expected. So in short, my finals must have gone better than I thought!

When I found out the good news, I told my out-of-town grandparents immediately, as they were, for the night, in town and staying at our house. Everyone was extremely happy. Except my brother. He had to go to school the next day.

Caroling at the hospital today (as mentioned above) was fun. And apparently I "mingled well" with the adults, blending right in. So that was awesome. Afterwards, I nearly finished my Christmas shopping, except for one gift, which I'll probably buy in the morning.

Random tangent: In women's basketball, (22) Pitt lost to (4) Duke today, 72-51. It's their first loss of the season, bringing them to a 12-1 record. But that's not the upsetting part. On the men's side of things, (7) Pitt lost to (15) Oklahoma State in double overtime, 95-89. I was watching on the Scoreboard as I was typing the end of this post, and it was very upsetting. They've now lost two in a row, and are 10-2 for the season. We'll see what happens now.


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07 December 2006

Term 2071 Finals

I will now be going back into my little shell for a week or so. Finals start Monday, which means I won't be blogging much until I get through them. I might get to write a little post on snow if I can find the time, but otherwise it won't be until Wednesday night or Thursday; PHYS won't take that long to study for. Then again, I wouldn't count on it. My finals week schedule is shown below.

I'll be returning home to Girard almost immediately after my last final on Friday 15 December. Have a great week everyone!

Random tangent: For anyone who wants to hear Friday night's Heinz Chapel Choir concert, tune in to the live broadcast on Pittsburgh's WQED-FM 89.3, or listen online, beginning at 20:00 ET. It's going to be great!


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06 December 2006

The Chancellor

He is to the University as God is to the universe. Or at least it seems that way.

And every year, around this time, he invites many distinguished guests to the Heinz Chapel for a private concert presented by the Heinz Chapel Choir, of which I am a member, followed by a reception in the Cathedral of Learning afterwards. It's a night that is archaically referred to by the choir as "the Night of the Living Dead," because apparently in years past, the guests thought that they were attending a church service, and not a concert. As such, they never applauded and kept a reverent expression on their faces the entire time. The year that the suggestion of applause was first made, only the Chancellor and his wife did so.

But since then, things have changed a bit. The Chancellor now actually makes a point of informing the audience in advance that they are attending a concert, and not a service, so that they feel welcome to appropriately show their appreciation for the choir's hard work. And people do applaud, as well as smile from time to time.

Now, it's rather obvious from the way I'm writing and from the timing that this year's event occurred tonight (the evening of Tuesday 05 December). The Chancellor gave his little speech to the audience, and then the concert began. All went well, and then it was time for the last set of songs. As I took my place on the little wooden box that marked my spot, I looked at the pew directly in front of me.

There was Chancellor Nordenberg.

For the rest of the concert, I was less than ten feet away from him. His presence was moderately intimidating as I performed in front of this very important person whom I had never met before. Had I fainted (if I were one to faint), and the little barrier had not been between us, my face would have been right at his feet... which under those circumstances would be the most appropriate posture in the world. So Emily can quit complaining about being put on the Jumbotron (although that's pretty nerve-racking, too). But at least those people don't matter; Chancellor Nordenberg does.

But he was certainly not there to judge, and that showed in his smile throughout the whole concert. Afterwards, we went to the Cathedral for the reception. Now, if you're one of those people who is reminded of Hogwarts every time they see the Cathedral's Commons Room, imagine it decked out for Christmas... decorated for the Chancellor's Holiday Reception.

And the food. It was amazing. There were huge cookies, gingerbread men, crackers, hot cider, punch, eggnog (non-alcoholic), pumpkin rolls, salmon, brie, and some other fancy things that I would not have been able to identify were it not for the little cards next to the platters that probably cost $6 themselves.

We ate and talked, and eventually someone suggested that we talk to the Chancellor, so we did. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and is an all-around great guy. And I did what I'd been waiting three years to do, ever since my old high school principal's retirement.

I asked the Chancellor if the name "Randy Newson" sounded familiar. He asked if he was sort of red-headed, and then he added that I probably couldn't tell anymore. I told him that Mr. Newson had been my high school principal, and he asked if he was a good principal. "Of course," I responded. Otherwise, I wouldn't have brought him up. And then someone brought up ghosts, and the Chancellor told the stories of the two campus ghosts, and how we didn't need any "fake" ghosts. He summed everything up by saying that we have a Rhodes scholar, a Marshall scholar, and two ghosts... we must be doing well! As I said, he has a great sense of humor.

So, to make a long story short, I finally was able to say "Hi" to Chancellor Nordenberg for one of his old college buddies. And on the slight chance that Mr. Newson ever reads this, he says "Hi" back!

And then I came back to the dorm, did about as much CHEM homework as I could stand, and then came down to recount my evening before going back to hitting the books. My guess is sleep will once again come around 02:00.

Random tangent: I went to the bank to cash a check today. Nothing came of it, but I realized hours later that I never endorsed the back of the check. I wonder what happens now...


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03 December 2006

Dream 3

It's been ages since I've posted a dream, and this one is probably the weirdest and most far fetched yet. And the best part is, this isn't the first time I've had this one. I distinctly remember having this dream at least once before, although it was before this blog existed, so I'll write about it now.

Dream 3: A Fishy Plan, night of 01-02 December 2006

So there were these fish. Four of them, I think; all different types. And this whole thing was sort of told from their point-of-view. So swim, swim, swim they go.

It's nighttime, and a sort of wintry day (although underwater, what does that matter?). And these fish decided that they were a little bit hungry, so what did they do? They went to a local fast-food restaurant of course. Sadly, however, this restaurant, although it was sort of reddish in color, was not a Wendy's, so these fish could not "eat great, even late" as they had hoped, because the restaurant was already closed.

So the swam, swam, swam some more, and they find the sub-basement of this restaurant (not the basement, below that). And because these fish are apparently stupid fish, they decide to go in, swimming through some sort of crack.

The structure of the sub-basement is awkward. It's completely circular, obviously filled with water, and the restaurant rests on a single round beam in the center. So the fish are free to swim around and around the donut-shaped expanse surrounding the support. And that's exactly what they do.

Then the little fish finds a stairwell leading up to the next level. As for why it's a stairwell, I don't know. It's not like the fish are going to stop swimming and sink to the bottom so they can physically walk up the stairs. But alas, the stairs are there. It's just one of the many anomalies one can find in my weirder dreams.

Mind you, these fish are really hungry. So of course they decide to go up the stairwell.

Bad idea.

The owner of the restaurant is there with a sort of sinister grin on his face. Rather than just saying "I caught ya" and turning them in for breaking and entering, he has other plans for these fishies (and it's not to fry them; they don't serve fish at that place anyway).

No, he scoops them up and keeps them confined overnight. Then in the morning, the fish awoke to find themselves being watched by hundreds of people (apparently, the tide went out and the restaurant was now above the water). The restaurateur then reveals his elaborate scheme.

The fish were now in a sizable container, and there were three more areas separating them from the rest of the lake. They were desperate to get out to see their families... and perhaps to eat, because they never did get that late-night meal they were craving.

In order to advance to the next area, the fish had to complete a task. In most cases, it was something like biting through a net. But the last area had a concrete wall at the end. And the fish had to win a game of Battleship for the concrete wall to open, leading them to the vast lake on the other side.

Meanwhile, a second concrete wall would constantly be closing in behind them. If the fish didn't complete the last task in time, they would simply be squished against the other wall and die. But that wasn't all.

In the basement of the restaurant, just above the new water level, the restaurant owner held captive all of the Olympic swimmers from the Western Hemisphere. How he got them, nobody knew. But that's not the point. The point was that their fate was directly tied to the performance of the fish.

As the concrete wall closed in on the fish, the water displaced would fill up the cell in which the swimmers were held. And at the moment the fishies would get squished, the cell would be completely full of water and even though they were the best swimmers in the hemisphere, the swimmers would drown. Of course, at this point, the "camera" of my mind immediately panned to the swimmers, who were frantically panicking for their lives.

Well, to make a long story short, the fish ended up completing all the tasks and winning Battleship with just a few short moments left. By opening the second concrete wall, the water in the cell rushed back out into the lake, and the swimmers were subsequently released. The restaurateur lamented the demise of his master plan. Not that he wouldn't be able to try again, because he wasn't arrested, despite the spectacle he made of the whole thing.

And the four fish were thereafter lauded as heroes, and of course they lived happily ever after, but they became ever wary of fast-food restaurants at night.

Random tangent: Didn't my last dream have something to do with tartar sauce? What a coincidence that is.


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01 December 2006

December Downpour

Couldn't let this one go. Leaving calculus to head back to the dorm it was literally pouring. See the radar image from about when I was walking? Not fun. Especially with sustained winds of 15 mph, gusting at 30 mph. Of course, from the west-southwest, which was the direction I started out walking.

Then, when I turned to the north to go up the hill, one of those gusts. There was about a centimeter of water rushing down the hill at my feet, rather quickly. I'd estimate it at about 2.0 m/s, based on estimating the time it took a leaf to travel down the length of one sidewalk slab. And for that much water rushing down, 2.0 m/s is pretty fast.

Not to mention water continued to pour down from above this whole time. I mean, there was a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. Of course it was going to pour.

When I got back to the dorm, literally every article of clothing I was wearing was soaked, except perhaps my belt. So I changed literally everything, except the belt (yes, I'm even wearing those new shoes mom's been bugging me about). At least the bad part of the storm has pretty much passed as I start my afternoon. And then it'll probably snow tonight! That's so exciting!

Random tangent: After refilling my prescription at the pharmacy yesterday, I realized that 30 days from today is New Years' Eve, two days before I come back here. So I wouldn't be able to refill my prescription until I came back. But if history is any guide, I'm pretty sure I'll forget to take my medicine at least three times before I run out... and then it's all good!


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30 November 2006

Not a Very Cohesive Post

I will, however, try to at least be coherent. That's about all I can do anymore, as I've used just about all of my energy to survive this week. Since all the big projects are done, all I have left is showing up for classes tomorrow. Finally, I can sleep!

But in the midst of this, my life has been filled with so much blog-fodder that I feel compelled to write about it. Firstly, a note to all who may not have noticed: I added a new link, to a LiveJournal blog written by Emily, a friend of mine from marching band and pep band.

In fact, I made Emily's day today. You see, "today" is her half-birthday. I say "today" because her half-birthday is 31 November, which, for those of you who don't look at calendars, doesn't exist. So I sent her a little message declaring that 12:00 on 30 November to 12:00 on 01 December was equivalent to 31 November. So part of today and part of tomorrow thus equal "today." And she's actually been celebrating this nonexistent day.

Now some of you may be thinking that that's hardly fair to her. Well it isn't. Life isn't fair. My birthday is such that I get stuck sharing my half-birthday with the founding of our nation; hers has one that doesn't exist. That's just the way it is.

Which brings me to my next point: I've finally sorted out my friends from the Carolinas whose names begin with E. Emily is originally from North Carolina, and Eleanor is originally from South Carolina. Perhaps the dots on this map will help should I ever get the two confused again (heaven forbid!).

Switching to something completely unrelated, the Rice Avenue Community Public Library's site received its 1,000th hit on Sunday 26 November at 20:02 ET. I later found out in an email that the librarian decided to set all of the library's public terminal's homepages to the site "so that people were aware that such a page existed." Awesome. It's only been up for eleven months! But I can't complain. Technically, now that I don't need community service hours for anything, I get no benefit from maintaining the site whatsoever other than the satisfaction of knowing I'm helping out a local organization in need. And the best part is, I can still do it from here, too.

Pitt's men and women are both 7-0 in basketball, and the men are ranked second in the nation according to the latest AP poll. That's exciting. As for a possible bowl game in football, I mentioned that it was extremely unlikely. There is still a chance however, that we will be selected, but I'm really not holding out any hope. If you care though, the selection show is on Sunday 03 December.

Which is Laurel's one-year anniversary with her boyfriend. Early congratulations are in store for that. And that reminds me: I thought I got through another Friday the Seventeenth without anything bad happening. I mean seriously, I survived a monster CHEM exam, aced a PHYS quiz, and both basketball teams won in a doubleheader... all on the day that is usually the worst for me.

Well, guess again. As I'm sure most of you have heard by now, my girlfriend and I have broken up. It was pretty much in the works since Thursday 16 November, and it was confirmed on Monday 20 November, our would-have-been six-month anniversary together. However, it was over long before then. According to an email sent to me on Friday 24 November, she "started to like someone" and didn't want me "to come home and find out [she] was with another guy." Okay. Fine.

But here's the interesting part: The next time I saw that she was on AIM, I saw that she was away. So I checked her away message. It was a direct insult at me. And below it, in her profile, in the same font and color as my name had been for nearly six months... a new name, and the date "11/17/06," which conveniently was also the first day of the FootSteps weekend she was attending. So my difficult week was more difficult than I'd originally imagined, and I didn't even realize it until a few days ago.

Next Friday the Seventeenth: 17 August 2007. A wonderfully refreshing eight and a half months away after a year that had three of them. And coming full circle, the last Friday the Seventeenth (back in March), was Andrea's half birthday. Isn't it amazing how stuff works out like that?

I'm really surpised it's almost December. This semester has really flown by. And I have a feeling I'll be saying that a lot.

Random tangent: There is no random tangent. Seriously, this whole post has been random tangent. The last thing you need is another one.


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26 November 2006

Turkey Day and Football

Well, I'm back at Pitt, after what felt like an all too short Thanksgiving Recess. Sure, everyone else got to leave Tuesday right after classes and not come back until a few hours ago. I've remained quite reticent, however, about my misfortune. I was stuck here until Wednesday morning, and then I had to wait for someone (and her sisters) to come home from school before we could leave for my lovely little hometown.

But of course, I'm only joking. It did feel weird, though, roaming the streets of Oakland at 11:00 and running into absolutely no one. It was like a ghost town (spooky). I had a lovely time with my cousins on Thanksgiving, and then with the other side of my family on Friday (the one with practically no cousins to speak of). Then I had to be back here for Pitt's football game against Louisville Saturday afternoon, which they lost, by the way.

Pitt thus finishes the football season at 6-6. I'm sure my high school would've liked to have finished this season with as good a record as that. And yet, as good as 6-6 is, it isn't good. I mean, it's only winning half of the games. Sure, we won four in a row early in the season, outscoring out opponents 169-27, but those wins were against teams like Toledo and the Citadel. Our most impressive win (if you could even call it that) was against Virginia in Week 1.

Some would call the loss to Michigan State a fluke, and maybe it was. I don't think anyone, though, thought Rutgers would be as good as they were. South Florida was underestimated, and you can chalk up the double-overtime loss to Connecticut as bad luck at the very end. West Virginia and Louisville were almost considered unbeatable from the very start, although Pitt put up a good fight in both games... at least in the first half (don't even get me started on that).

And so now we're here, ranked sixth out of the eight teams in the Big East conference, and though there are a couple games next week, it's mathematically impossible for our position to change as a result of them. So what does that mean?

Well, as one of my fellow trumpeters started singing as Louisville started to run away with last night's game, "I'll be home for Christmas." Some people say we're still bowl-eligible, but that's really not the case. A page on devoted to bowl possibilities shows that the Big East has six bowl tie-ins, but it also says that if the Navy is eligible, they would receive an invitation to the Meineke Car Care Bowl instead of the #6 team from the Big East. And guess what? That's exactly what happened, and they will be playing the #5 team from the ACC on 30 December. So for us, getting a bowl bid at this point would be a miracle... and totally undeserved.

Amidst the speculation that has pretty much ended was that we might go to the International Bowl in Toronto on 06 January 2007, the only college bowl to be played outside of the United States. Even as recently as Tuesday, people were projecting that Pitt would play Western Michigan there as the #5 team. I guess he thought that Cincinnati would lose, and that Pitt's pathetic second-half against WVU would somehow compel them to do better against Louisville. In both cases, he thought wrong.

So, that's about it from the college sports front. It's amazing that I'm actually following this stuff, given how confusing I find sports, but when it directly ties into your plans for Winter Break, I guess you'd be foolish not to.

In semi-related news, only two weeks until finals. My, where has the time gone? My last paper of the term is due Wednesday, so that's always exciting. Of course, it means I won't get much sleep Tuesday, but what else is new? And some presentation that apparently our parents have known about since June is due on Thursday. Good thing it's on the papers we've been writing. But I can't wait until I finally have my own computer next term so that I can caffeinate at the keyboard (beverages aren't allowed in the computer labs). It'll make working until 03:00 that much easier...

Random tangent: I hope you noticed in my last post that I went on a random tangent at the end. I think that's something I'd like to continue. After all, this blog isn't called Randomness for nothing!


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13 November 2006

A Difficult Week

Those of you who might be trying to contact me in the near future might want to know that this week will be extremely difficult for me. But what else is new? Allow me to elaborate...

I have a PSY exam at 13:00 today for which, thankfully, I have pretty much finished studying. Then I have a CHEM exam Friday morning. Okay, that's not that bad. But keep in mind that the Pitt football game against West Virginia is Thursday night. That sucks up my entire evening.

So I'll just study ahead of time? That sounds good. I'll take advantage of the fact I have practically nothing on Tuesdays. I won't be able to study much tonight or Tuesday night, though, with those nights being the only nights the marching band has left to practice. That, and there are basketball games Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I may skip one in favor of more study time; it depends on how much studying I get done during the day on Tuesday.

And somewhere in there I feel obligated to get some stuff ready to send home for FootSteps 46, which starts Friday. My girlfriend will be attending.

So basically, after the basketball doubleheader on Friday evening (which I should be able to attend no matter what), I'll be able to catch my breath on Saturday. But not for long... a MATH exam looms on Tuesday 21 November.

The moral is: If you try getting a hold of me and I don't respond, it's not because I don't care. It's because I can't care. It's not like I've fallen off the face of the earth. I'll still be here when this all blows over.

Random tangent: Wow, it's been a long time since I've had a moral to a post; I used to have them for like every post (1,2,3). Perhaps it's something I should bring back...

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05 November 2006


I am a semi-celebrity in the band. Or, at least I was for a short time. With the exception of the trumpet section, most of them have probably forgotten about this by now, but I've been way too busy to write about it.

Anyway, both of my parents are Pitt alumni, and both played trumpet in the band, just like I do now. But apparently that's not a very common occurrence.

So right before band camp, our director gave his annual speech in which he asks students to look left and right and consider that their future spouse could be there. He said, "We believe in inbreeding" in the Pitt Band, and that that's what keeps the organization strong.

He then pointed to me as an example of a "product of inbreeding."

Now, most band members end up being given nicknames which they are generally stuck with for the rest of their lives. And traditionally, they get little to no input. However, my section leader was nice enough to ask me if I was easily offended. I wasn't sure, and he rephrased the question, asking instead if being called "Inbred" for the next four years would get on my nerves.

Um, yeah.

It took him another day, but eventually he came up with "Purebred" instead. Aw.

Some people call me by my nickname, others don't. But "Purebred" is all that "Kitty" ever calls me...


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14 October 2006

Stressed, but Happy Panther

It was on this day in 1911 that the Pitt band first formed. So I guess that makes it Pitt Band's 95th birthday, huh? That's pretty cool. Anywho, today was an interesting day, and interestingly enough, I spent a good portion of it with the band!

We performed for the Fort Ligonier Days Parade, which, if you didn't know already, is a pretty big deal down near Ligonier. The only downside was that we were to step off dead last, and no one told us this ahead of time.

So we warmed up at 10:50 for an 11:00 stepoff, thinking we might be stepping off shortly thereafter. Wrong. We waited and talked, talked and waited. After a while, I started playing random Christmas carols on the trumpet. But we stepped off at 12:25. Yeah. It was a long parade, not in terms of how far it went, but in terms of how many people were in it.

After we were done, we played a mini-concert in the street. We each picked up a boxed lunch (although they were in plastic bags, not boxes; wouldn't they be "bagged lunches"?). Then we boarded the buses and went back to Oakland.

Earlier, we had been assured that we would be back in Oakland by 15:00, most likely sooner. This was good, because I had to leave Oakland at 15:30 for a Heinz Chapel Choir concert in Uniontown. Except at 15:00, we were still miles away from Oakland. Looking at the map, it would have made much more sense for me to find some way to get from Ligionier (A) to Uniontown (C) directly, without the stopover in Oakland (B).

Finally, at 15:45, we arrive, and I'm panicking. I misplaced the choir's phone contact sheet, so I had no way of contacting anyone in the van that was supposed to take me to Uniontown... until I had a "Eureka moment" and became resourceful. I opened the email that had the van lists, and then logged on to Facebook and quickly scanned each person's profile for a cell phone number. Finally, I found one.

Ring, ring. Hello? Yeah, I'm supposed to be in your van; have you left yet?

"Um, yeah. We heard you had another way of getting there, so we didn't bother waiting for you."

Nice. I was so lucky that one of my fellow trumpeters had overheard my lamentations on the bus back to Oakland. He was getting a ride from his parents to his home, which was in that direction. I was fortunate that they were so willing to let me hitch a ride. Sure they had no clue exactly where in Uniontown we were going, but that's why I took the time to print out directions from Google Maps.

So I finally got to the church where we were going to be singing at 18:15, the concert being at 19:30. Granted, I'd completely missed the "logistical rehearsal" where they figured out who was going to stand where and all that, but I just told the people on either side of me to nudge me frequently in the proper direction. And it all worked out.

But I was wondering how my high school band was doing in competition on my college band's birthday. When I finally got back home, I was pleased to be greeted with two messages on the answering machine, both with loud cheering in the background. The first was from my girlfriend:

"... I advise you to call me ASAP if you want to hear how we did. Oh, my God. ..."

The second was from my father, two minutes later:

"Hi, ... it's Dad. Just wanted to let you know Girar..."

I was disappointed that this second message got cut off, because obviously, I wanted to know. But I called my girlfriend and she told me that they swept in every category. I was happy; that hasn't happened for Girard in a while.

So I am now a stressed, but happy Panther. And very tired. Hence the substandard writing style. Oh, well. I'm also an apathetic Panther right now.


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12 October 2006

Observations 1-50

It's hard to believe it's been almost two months since I left for Pitt. Obviously, college life is very different from high school life. But there are some things that even I wasn't expecting. I think it shows that even in these seven weeks I've learned a lot. In fact, 50 things come to mind right now (although, actually this list was compiled over several sessions).

So with this post I'm starting yet another series, although this one will hopefully be the most prevalent over the next four years, as I've been getting new material for it almost daily. And no, I'm not stealing an idea from a friend, although he hasn't blogged much lately. This is a series based solely on my observations, both of myself and of others. And what would such a series be without humor?

I'm expecting some comments on this one. But please, reference the item number(s) in your comments so that I know what you're talking about. So, in no particular order, here's a semi-random synopsis of things I've learned at Pitt so far:

1. Don't even think about wearing new shoes to band practice, no matter how much you want to break them in. This is especially important on days you practice the pregame show (highstepping in heavy shoes, ugh!).

2. If a loud, annoying security alarm is going to go off in a computer lab, it will happen when you're trying to concentrate on writing the most difficult paragraph of the assignment, and it takes the lab technician five minutes to contact someone who knows how to disarm the alarm.

3. When the alarm pauses for two seconds, everyone in the vicinity smiles and breathes a sigh of relief, then they grumble (and some mutter obscenities) when it turns back on again.

4. It then takes the lab technician another five minutes to actually disarm it, after which the entire population of the computer lab applauds him, though he probably should have been able to deal with the situation quicker.

5. Sometimes elevators go mute. Not intentionally; they just forget how to go "ding" on every floor.

6. Some people enjoy writing Greek letters (such as ΣΑΕ) in sidewalk chalk all over campus, along with catchy slogans meant to encourage people to join them.

7. Other people like crossing out such Greek letters, replacing them with new ones (such as ΣΧ), modifying the slogans into more offensive sayings in order to dissuade people from joining the original group of chalkers.

8. Still others like randomly walking up to such modified letters, adding Roman letters (such as S) in front of them to make them look like English words.

9. Completely ignoring the chalk wars, other letter combinations (such as ΠΛΦ and ΔΤΔ) are taken to the next level, being written on buildings all around campus, including the Petersen Events Center, the Litchfield Towers, the Book Center, and PNC Bank. This from the Pitt Police Blotter:

Tuesday, September 5
12:13 a.m. - Individuals marking the walkway and buildings with chalk near the Petersen Events Center were given a warning. The incident was cleared.
So, it's very important to be mindful of where you're chalking.

10. The University will pay someone to scrub such chalk letters (and their respective slogans and web URLs) off of such buildings. Because apparently that's vandalism. And apparently, vandalism is generally frowned upon.

11. Sometimes, professors will leave the room saying "1, -1, 1, -1, 1, -1, ..." to demonstrate an infinite series as they go out into the hall. Then, when they return, they'll complain about how exhausted they are. Well, wouldn't you be if you'd just gone to infinity and back?

12. If someone is wearing a shirt that says "ΚΚ," and something they're carrying in their left arm is blocking the third Greek letter, don't assume it's someone in the band (which would be ΚΚΨ). Chances are, they're from ΚΚΓ.

13. Likewise, if someone is wearing a shirt that says "ΚΨ," but something is blocking anything before that, don't assume they're in the band either, because there is an ΑΚΨ.

14. As an excuse to promote dorm unity, Residence Life will give away free food in the lobby in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

15. Such free food will be distributed on 13 September, even though the month isn't observed until 15 September.

16. Some "heritage months" (see above) start and end in the middle of the calendar months. Why? To be different. We're promoting diversity here!

17. You can make all the resolutions you want about eating healthy today, but if the salad bar closes at 20:00, you may still have to settle for a burger and fries. Besides, salads don't typically make the best dinner entrées. Just eat one for lunch tomorrow and you're even.

18. If you're running toward a shuttle bus stop, about 50 yards away, and the bus pulls out as you're running, it probably left early. This automatically means that the next one will be late.

19. There is a difference between Milano's Pizza (3606 Fifth Avenue) and Pizza Milano (1302 Fifth Avenue). I'd elaborate on all the subtle differences except I don't know them, seeing how the latter isn't in Oakland. Regardless, I'd still like to try it out someday, and see how it compares. I wonder if their cheese falls right off the slice...

20. Don't skip lunch on a Monday. Because that just screws up your meal plan for the whole week.

21. If you're on the first floor, no matter how many times you press the "1" button in an elevator, it won't go anywhere. The same goes for the floor you live on. And yes, since those are just about the only two buttons you ever press, it's easy to do... repeatedly!

22. Everyone whose birthday falls in August or September automatically gets it shoved to 17 September, just because it's easier to celebrate the whole dorm's birthdays a couple months at a time.

23. Contrary to popular belief (or at least Mrs. Dilworth's), it is possible to walk the streets of Oakland for an entire day without running into a parking meter or a light post. In fact, thousands of people have repeated this stunt day after day for months and even years at a time. It's truly amazing. Someone should write a book about it.

24. The gas coming out from the manhole covers isn't poisonous. If it were, we'd all be dead by now. Come on, this is college, not 24; it's probably just steam!

25. Actually, that was #24.

26. Some choir songs don't make sense without the solos. For example, here are the first 68 "words" to my "background" part for Lennon and McCartney's Yesterday:

Doo, doo, doo, doo doo, nm (×32), noo noo, nm nm nm noo, noo noo, noo na na na, ah, na na na na na ah, na na na na na na hanging over me, yesterday, doo doo.
You get the point.

27. The soloists are extremely glad they don't have to sing all this nonsense.

28. It is totally worth walking all the way down to the Litchfield Towers Lobby to put Panther Funds on your card so that you can save the 25¢ a load on laundry. Besides, who wants to carry quarters around?

29. The elevators in Benedum are evil. Enough said. But I'll elaborate. The doors try to close several times, but when the buzzer goes off and the little number above the door starts blinking, get in or get out, and fast! The doors are closing no matter what. You wouldn't want to be sliced in half now, would you?

30. Murphy's Law has a corollary that applies to salads. It is easy to make a heavy salad (e.g., 10 ounces) at the salad-by-the-ounce bar, costing you more than you were expecting. But the next time, your salad is so light (e.g., 7 ounces) that you have to buy a snack item on the side just to get the full value of the meal block. The lesson: you will never have a perfect salad; deal with it.

31. They'll overcharge you for anything here when they can: ordinary first-class postage costs 49¢ in the Towers Mailroom, instead of 39¢ anywhere else.

32. Expect the unexpected, but don't count on it.

33. It's interesting to note security guards' reactions when greeting them with "Good morning," at 00:30. Some just shrug you off as a geeky nut. Others quietly acknowledge that you are, in fact, correct. Still others think it's the most amusing thing they've heard all night morning, and will be laughing hysterically for the next five minutes.

34. Some days you just have to eat a super-fatty personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut; nothing else will satisfy the craving. Fortunately, these days are few and far between.

35. No matter how far behind schedule you are, if your professor is in the same elevator as you, you haven't missed any material. Plus, it's a good opportunity to carry a conversation with him. After all, you've got 10 floors, and the elevator is so crammed that it's going to stop on every floor between 4 and 9 on the way (and even 12 after you get off).

36. If you can get the whole way down the same elevator after class without having to stop for other people on their way down, you have been generously blessed by the amazing grace of God.

37. It's quite difficult to walk down the street and eat at the same time, especially if you've got a drink in one hand and are trying to pay attention to traffic and objects around you (see #23).

38. It is always 4:33, at least according to the clock above the picture of George Hubbard Clapp's head in Clapp hall. And you know he's right, because he looks important.

39. Never pass up free food, even if you have way too many meal blocks to use.

40. Thirteen meal blocks per week is way too many for any sane person. Some would even argue that 11 or 8 are too many. But that's just them. As for me, we'll see how things go in future terms.

41. Occasionally, a pigeon will thrust itself toward your face. Not intentionally. It's just that someone else scared it away from them, which just happened to be toward you.

42. When referees reviewing a play at a football game are arranged in such away that the letters on the back of their uniforms spell "FUB," it is perfectly appropriate to scream the fictitious word repeatedly at them. In fact, it's expected.

43. Simply laying a receipt in the path of the elevator doors, rather than throwing it away, is one of the most inconsiderate things you could do, especially if you just walk away. Because the elevator senses the receipt in the doors' path, it refuses to close them. After a while, it starts making an annoying buzzing sound (à la #29), but it still doesn't close. And the whole time it's stuck on the same floor, reducing elevator availability and increasing elevator queues for the whole wing.

44. Some security guards know you by name, and even though they see your smiling face and carry a friendly conversation with you every morning, they still swipe your ID card every time you go through the door.

45. Other guards have never even touched your card, waving you through while saying, "G'head, man," simply because you look familiar to them and you pass through the doors frequently enough (although for all they know, you could just be a frequent visitor, with good or bad intentions). And that's all they ever say to you. Ever.

46. Suddenly for one day only, the aforementioned guard does start swiping cards, and then he's never seen again. Spooky...

47. It is difficult to get in on the required departmental research experiments for Intro to Psych because apparently they're posted late in the day, so people who don't have marching band who are constantly checking the site snatch up the good appointment times on the good experiments. I guess I'll have to become more like them.

48. If an online homework assignment is due at 21:00 on Sunday, there will be plenty of posts on the discussion board... after 17:00 on Sunday. Sorry, fellows. I'd have loved to have helped, but you just procrastinated too much!

49. Take a spare French fry and put it on an escalator heading down. It's fun watching the spud try to escape. Trust me.

50. When you're done watching the spud, pick it up and throw it out. Because a fried potato wedge caught in an infinite loop of the dirt from people's shoes gets pretty gross after three days.

Comments are encouraged, but please, reference the item number(s).


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09 October 2006

A Stunning Turn of Events

So, I was sitting in Physics (PHYS 0174) today at 15:00, waiting for the exams to be handed out. Both TAs were there, and all the students were ready to take the test.

Except our professor is in Japan this week.

And his replacement never showed up.

The TAs made a few phone calls, although I could safely assume that they didn't call our professor directly because (1) he was in Japan, (2) he probably didn't sign up for the super-ultra-international plan on his cell phone, and (3) it was 04:00 Tuesday morning in Japan.

About ten minutes in, a student asked one TA what was going on and if we were taking our test or not. The room suddenly became hushed for her response, "I don't know." There were cheers for the brevity and yet accuracy of this statement.

A few minutes later, the other TA came in and said we'd wait five or ten more minutes just in case someone decided to show up. Some students raised concerns because they had a calculus exam at 16:00. They were told not to worry about it. How reassuring.

By 15:20, he came back in and said, "Obviously, there is no exam here." No one knows when we'll be taking it, and one can only hope that the substitute professors that were lined up for Wednesday and Friday actually show up, so we don't just sit idly for twenty minutes, only to leave.

Well, that's enough of a rant. But wasn't that a stunning turn of events?


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28 September 2006


Ugh. What more can I say?

I took my first two exams this week in Intro to Psych and Honors Calc, as some of you already know. Despite the fact that both the exams actually went pretty well (I was one of several who caught an error on the Psych exam), I'm still bogged down. As I write this in short bits on the left side of the screen, my online physics homework is on the right, due this Sunday night at 21:00.

You see, in order to study for my exams, I moved some of the routine weekly stuff to the back burner. Well, now that's all due, plus I've got a paper due Monday, and once that's out of the way, it's just in time to start studying for the next round of exams! Such is the life of a college student. Those who have been through it know what I'm talking about, while those still in high school think I'm going crazy. I know; I thought the same thing about my college friends last year.

And maybe it's true. After all, everyone is crazy, just to varying degrees, and we are accustomed to our own degree of craziness (i.e., we seem normal to ourselves and our friends). Maybe college is just the next rung on the craziness ladder? I have, in fact, noticed that my life has become a lot more random, and I think that's reflecting itself in my personality. It would make great blog material, but for now it goes unrecorded, at least until the next time I can find fifteen minutes to keep this site active.

College life is so underrepresented in the blogosphere...


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16 September 2006

Commenting Workaround

I checked today and was happy to see this update from the Known Issues blog:

Users are seeing errors when posting comments with current Blogger accounts to blogs on the new version of Blogger in beta. Until we fix this, the workaround is to preview the comment before publishing. (You only need to preview once per account.) Update (9/13): This issue has been re-written to clarify the core bug and offer the workaround.
What this means to you: If you're logged in as a blogger who has not switched (which is the majority of my readership), click the "Preview" button once you've finished writing your comment (circled at right). When your comment appears highlighted in yellow on the left-hand side, click the orange "Publish Your Comment" button. I will receive and moderate your comment normally.
And the great news is, you should only have to do this extra step once for your Blogger account! Now if they'd just fix it the rest of the way, so I can comment on your blogs just as easily...


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10 September 2006


Yes, I know, I know. I need to write about college. I've been gathering a whole bunch of little snippets that I think I'll have compiled soon. I just have to find the time to actually post it.

Anyway, since I'm sure you've been diligently checking out my blog for my first college post, you may have noticed in the sidebar that I switched to Blogger Beta this week. As a long-time Google Account holder, it's really quite great, but not all that different from the original Blogger. The main thing I like is that you don't have the little "Publishing" wheel. In fact there is no republishing at all. Any changes made immediately go live.

But there are some downsides. Apparently one of the "known issues," literally posted just hours after I switched, is that I can't comment on your blogs as myself, because you haven't switched yet. Not that it's a big deal. I'll just click "Other," type "TJ," and put a link to my Blogger profile in the website field. It will act just like other comments until they get this fixed. Because that could get very annoying.

They also thought that you can't comment on my blog, but they ended up saying that it was never an issue (they just got the issue above mixed up). Although, I'm not quite so confident that all is well in that regard. If it doesn't work when you try to leave a comment from your Blogger account, please do exactly the same thing as I do. If you don't know your profile link, find another time you commented me, right click your name, and select "Copy Shortcut." Then you can paste it right into the field. Sorry for any inconvenience, but I plan to reject any comments from Bloggers that don't follow this procedure in the meantime.

Or, you could always switch as well. That would work.

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28 August 2006

Term 2071 Schedule

I know that everyone is dying to hear about band camp and the orientation period, but first it's time to present my schedule, as I've done in past semesters, so here it is:

Class Titles and Credit Values

CHEM 0760 Honors General Chemistry for Engineers 1 4
ENGR 0081 Freshman Engineering Seminar 1 0
ENGR 0711 Honors Engineering Analysis & Computing 3
MATH 0235 Honors 1-Variable Calculus4
MUSIC 0630 Marching Band 1
PHYS 0174 Basic Physics for Science & Engineering 1 3
PSY 0010 Introduction to Psychology 3


09:00-09:50 CHEM 0760 lecture
10:00-10:50 MATH 0235 lecture
13:00-13:50 PSY 0010 lecture
15:00-15:50 PHYS 0174 lecture
16:00-17:50 ENGR 0711 lecture
18:00-20:00 MUSIC 0630

10:00-10:50 MATH 0235 recitation (computing)
18:00-20:00 MUSIC 0630

09:00-09:50 CHEM 0760 lecture
10:00-10:50 MATH 0235 lecture
13:00-13:50 PSY 0010 lecture
14:00-14:50 PHYS 0174 recitation (computing)
15:00-15:50 PHYS 0174 lecture
16:00-17:50 ENGR 0711 lecture

09:00-09:50 CHEM 0760 recitation
10:00-10:50 MATH 0235 recitation
13:00-13:50 ENGR 0081 lecture
15:00-15:50 ENGR 0081 recitation
18:00-20:00 MUSIC 0630

09:00-09:50 CHEM 0760 lecture
10:00-10:50 MATH 0235 lecture
13:00-13:50 PSY 0010 lecture
14:00-14:50 PHYS 0174 recitation
15:00-15:50 PHYS 0174 lecture
18:00-20:00 MUSIC 0630

Classes begin 28 August 2006; final exams are 11-16 December 2006.

No classes 04 September for Labor Day, or 22-26 November for Thanksgiving Recess.


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16 August 2006


Yes, indeed. For those of you who haven't already heard, as of this past Thursday, 10 August, I am a licensed driver. And so is my girlfriend. Also as of Thursday. No, we didn't go together. No, we didn't "conveniently" schedule our appointments back-to-back. It all happened through multiple twists of fate, some of them totally ridiculous.

Back on 24 July, I scheduled my test for 13:15 on 03 August in Meadville, because Erie, as always, was booked weeks out, straight through 17 August, the day I leave for college. On 30 July, my girlfriend proposed a little deal: we wouldn't tell each other when our appointments were. Whoever got their license first would drive both into dinner, the other would pay. So I agreed to this.

I didn't know she hadn't already scheduled her appointment. So on 31 July, she happened to be with me at the computer, and she asked me to log in for her and see what appointments were available. Except she had an extra impetus: her permit was set to expire on 10 August. So Meadville was booked through 11 August. That wouldn't work for her. Erie was booked through 22 August, except for one lone appointment on 09 August at 09:15, left to her by the grace of someone else's cancellation. She resigned herself to the fact that I would know the time of her appointment, and told me to sign her up for it.

So my appointment was for 13:15 on 03 August, and we got there around 12:55. The examiner was talking to some people in a red car. They said they had scheduled a 12:30 appointment. The examiner had no such paperwork and told them to schedule another appointment and come back later. The kid's father looked more angry than the kid himself as they left the Driver's License Center.

Then the examiner took her 13:00 appointment out. By this time it was nearly 13:20. And running behind schedule isn't something that government employees like doing. The girl parallel parked well, so she continued to the stop sign before the road with her right turn signal on. Then she opened the car door, looked out, put her left turn signal on, and came right back into the Driver's License Center. Failure.

She had crossed the stop bar, which legally speaking, is just like running right through the intersection without stopping. Now it was my turn, and it was almost 13:25. The examiner said she had no paperwork on me, either, so she asked for my permit and went inside to check, and sure enough, the other guy had it in his pile. So on with the test.

"May I see the vehicle's insurance, registration, and the license for your licensed driver?"

I handed them to her.

"Okay, but I also need to see your permit."

"Um, you have it, ma'am."

"Oh. (pause) Well, you can tell what kind of a day I've been having."

Great, just what I was hoping for! I'll spare you any further details, but the test didn't go very well. Now, I'm not trying to make excuses, because I did deserve to fail the test. But I don't think the examiner's having had a bad day helped much. I'm thinking it was mostly psychological, because I don't think I have ever performed so poorly in the car as I did that day.

And conveniently enough, after two relatively quick failures, the examiner was within minutes of being back on schedule.

We rushed home and scheduled another appointment for 10 August at 11:45 in Mercer, because there were no graceful cancellations in Erie or Meadville that would let me get in before I left for college. It almost makes me wish I lived in a less populous county. But, my father is familiar with Mercer, so we went down on 06 August to get me familiarized with the streets and to practice parking in the actual slot I'd have to get into. I didn't do too badly.

Meanwhile, my girlfriend had the opportunity to win. I was panicking, knowing that I'm going to need every last cent I have for college expenses, and that every last cent I had (except for a big jar of unsorted coins) was safely deposited in the bank, from which it would be harder for me to justify a withdrawal. Oh, well. Maybe she'd win, but we wouldn't be able to go to dinner before I left, so I'd owe her over Winter Recess.

Right at 09:15 on 09 August, I happened to be waking up, so I said a quick prayer for my girlfriend (because I was actually rooting for her, despite possible financial consequences on my end). Later that day, I got a call that after going all the way into Erie, she couldn't take her test because her mother hadn't signed an important paper. But, due to the continued grace of people who cancel, she got another appointment for 15:00 on 10 August. Apparently she's more "graceful" than I am. Why is she the lucky one?

She told me what went on, and I really didn't want to tell her that my new appointment was a little over three hours before hers, but she insisted that I tell her because she told me when hers was. So what was the point of not telling each other the times in the first place? Anyway, I now had another chance to win.

My father drove me most of the way to Mercer, and I did the last leg, because driving that far right before a driver's test is never a good idea. I caught myself getting nervous again, but this time it was early enough that I could do something about it. I did all the necessary paperwork again, but this time I had to sign a sheet that listed everyone who was taking a test that day. And I saw, in two highlighted columns marked "P" and "F", all of the marks were in the "P" column except the second one. So this guy had only failed one person today, and that was hours ago. Yay!

Once we started the test, I wasn't very sure of how I did on my parallel parking. I used all three back-ups, and when I had finished, I looked in my mirror, and I couldn't see the yellow line from underneath the car. I even muttered, "Probably not," under my breath.

But the guy actually got out and walked around the car. He came back with good news.

"You're tires are just inside the line. If I were downtown, I'd try to do a better job, but that's passable for here."

He was very matter-of-fact, but a bit more lenient than the lady I'd gotten in Meadville a week prior. But not in a bad way. I think that knowing that about my examiner gave me more confidence than butterflies, and I did well. I even got lucky and saw a partially hidden stop sign because a police officer had pulled someone over, and the flashing lights drew my attention in the direction of the sign.

We came back, and that was that. The most stressful part was waiting afterwards for 15 minutes in Room A (the paperwork room) before being seen, only to be told to take my signed permit to Room B (the photo license room), where I had to wait another 10 minutes or so.

But at 12:23, I was handed a little piece of plastic with my name and picture on it. The picture even looked good on the first take. So I don't have to look at something hideous every time I pull out my wallet between now and January 2010.

I called my girlfriend and told her I won, but I tried my hardest not to rub it in. I also wished her good luck on her test. And she passed. As I've already told you.

So now I am officially a licensed driver... not that I'll be able to use that privilege much while I'm at college. Oh, well. A free bus pass is just as fun.


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09 August 2006


Only nine or ten cans. It's the last thing that's left from my graduation party. And don't get me all worked up about how it's called pop. Yes, I know that "pop" is the more popular terminology throughout western Pennsylvania, western New York, and all of Ohio (proof). Don't call me names just because in this case, I'm siding with the preferences of California, St. Louis, and New England. At least I'm not calling it a "Coke" like most of the South. Because most of what's left is actually Pepsi.

I probably actually call carbonated beverages "pop" more often in conversation, but when I'm writing in a semi-formal tone for a blog such as this, I feel that "soda" is more civilized. Feel free to disagree, just as long as you do it silently, without any words, and on your own time.

But the fact that soda is all that's left also means that I have no thank you notes left. I've handwritten and sent all 80 of them. And people thought my little "averaging five a day" plan wouldn't work. Ha!

I was able to do seven ahead of time because people sent me stuff well before my actual party on 1 July. Then, once I got sick on 19 July, and realized that I had better get them done, I just tackled the list in the order I opened the cards. Once I had 30 (one sheet of address labels), I sent them out. And the last ones went out Tuesday afternoon. Yay!

So now I can focus on more important things, like actually getting ready for college. Packing. Eek!


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07 August 2006


First of all, before I start, let me extend warm thanks to the 15 people who visited Randomness on Tuesday for Visit Randomness Day. And let me withdraw all thanks from those who intentionally boycotted my site on the same day. I love you, too.

Now, when I do errands around town I typically ride my bike. And if I have something to take with me, I get a plastic grocery bag, put the things in, and hang it from the handlebars. So I did just that this morning, as I had to go to my high school for something regarding a scholarship. I put the appropriate paperwork in the plastic bag, and lo and behold, there was a grape already in the bag!

Apparently, when my mom last bought grapes (which must have been fairly recently), one grape detached itself from the bunch in transit from the grocery store to our house. And so my mom put away the bunch of grapes, didn't notice the lone grape escapee, and put the bag in the bag pile with the rest of them.

Needless to say, I grabbed a different bag.


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01 August 2006

Further Randomness

So I'm writing about practically nothing at all, just because I told everyone I'd write today and I'm trying to make it worth everyone's effort to show up to this site.

My cousin is boycotting my site today. So that's horrible. In fact, she was just writing for her own blog right now! So maybe tomorrow should be Boycot Laurel's Blog Day. Just kidding. I'd never do anything like that to my cousin.

Although something that I just discovered that bothered me was that after going since 25 July 2005 without having a day with 0 hits, that's just what happened on 17 July 2006. So a 356-day streak got ruined; almost a year. Oh, well.

My little brother absolutely hates that Ford commercial with Taylor Hicks. He finds the "Possibilities" song so annoying he turns off the television every time it comes on, and he groans loudly if he accidentally turns it back on before the commercial is over. Him hating the annoying commercial is more annoying than the commercial itself!

He was so glad at the end of July because I read the fine print on the commercial that said "Take new retail delivery from dealer stock by 7/31/06." That would mean that starting today, they'd have no reason to air it any longer.

Wrong. Apparently car companies like advertising some of their sales for a few days after they're done to see if they can sucker some extra people into buying without telling them the deal is off. Those darn salesmen!

This is probably my last post of the day, because I've got to go home soon, and I've practically been online all day. So I won't be able to get online there because it wouldn't make sense. Whatever.

Visit Randomness Day Update: 13 down, 40 to go... and 2 hours, 9 minutes to do it. Wow, this totally didn't work. Not that I was expecting anything stellar. Thanks anyway to the people who did visit; not Laurel!


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About Camp

Now, just to shut Andrea up (just teasing, Andrea), I'll attempt to write about camp, which in case you didn't know, was 9-14 July.

Camp was cool. What else can I say? I mean, it's music camp! It's only the greatest place on earth! And it was even better when the announcement at left was read to us Sunday evening. No more buffet! Well, at least except for breakfast, but that's too early in the morning for anyone to care. But this is what happens when the new resident director of the camp is a former music camper. He cares about his people.

So now that I don't have a buffet to rant about this year, I'll have to come up with something else. Hmmm...this is hard!

Our musical this year had a lower tenor part than last year, but I think we got used to the high stuff when we shouldn't have. From my first year at camp in 2000, we've been singing songs arranged by Dennis and Nan Allen, and in 2004, when we did the "Christmas in July" theme, our part was somewhat higher than usual. Then in 2005, we sang an "X-treme" Bradley Knight arrangement...and that was awesome! But going back to an ordinary Allen arrangement was a bit disappointing. Although, actually, it was still wonderfully fun.

My best friend from camp started the week by complaining to Jayne, the choir director, that there was nothing higher than an E in our part. But that was just not the case. Neither he nor I looked at the last song when we were skimming through the songbook, so we missed the few Fs and Gs that were there. And it was fun singing them at the very end!

Band with Mr. Cramer was fun, too. Like usual, I played Taps on Wednesday evening. And ducking from his "deadly accurate" commemorative pencil tosses made up for not playing "Day by Day" from Godspell. Because my school put on that production the following weekend...and it was wonderful. They actually sang with harmony for the first time in, like, ever!

But enough about the high school's eccentric theater department. The concert was good, and my solo (duet) went very well, especially after Jayne gave me some pointers for getting me "in the mood." On top of that, in order to relax myself, I thought of the 76-beat-per-minute strolling tempo as just a 38-beat-per-minute relaxing tempo subdivided. And we kept having trouble keeping it in tune all week, but the Lord must've worked through us, because it was perfect for the concert. Yay!

That's about all I can think about right now; I'm getting a little tired writing about camp. Besides, I have to be at the high school band room in half and hour to talk to the kids about the next fundraising opportunity...because Mr. Music Booster President (a.k.a. "Dad") has to work late tonight.

Visit Randomness Day Update: 8 down, 45 to go... and 6 hours, 28 minutes to do it. I'm starting to think we'll fall terribly short...

Photo Credit: Tiffany Emerick


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Yay! Today, as defined by my 28 July proclamation, is Visit Randomness Day! So a big thank you goes to the 3 people who have visited my site thusfar today, one of whom was me. Haha. We're well on our way to beating 53!

Anywho, this is my first post of the day...and of the month. I intend to keep blogging throughout a good portion of the day so that you might be enticed to keep coming back. And it will be totally random. Which is appropriate because this blog is, after all, called Randomness.

So happy August to everybody! We're celebrating the eighth annual Cousin Club Fun Week this week. It's a week when all of my out-of-town cousins come up to Girard and spend the week at my grandmother's house so that they can hang out with all of the in-town cousins. And we do all sorts of activities. Today we're going to the movies because it's so dang hot.

And that's about it; it's time for lunch now, so I've gotta get upstairs or there will be nothing left! More posts to come!

3 down, 50 to go... and 11 hours, 8 minutes left!


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28 July 2006

A Not So Impromptu Proclamation

Well, I’m not using my 75th post to write about camp, although I probably should; so there. Reread last year’s post if you’re really that bored. And I’m spending the weekend locked in a church basement for a youth retreat, so you won’t get it until at least Monday. But I might wait until Tuesday; you’ll see why.

Now, you may have thought that my last proclamation was going to be the only one. Oh, no. Although International Blog Post Remembrance Day is very important, it was a spur-of-the-moment holiday created because of the loss of one particular post. But rest assured, BPRD will be observed again next May, provided that I remember, which I more than likely will.

But this is the proclamation of the holiday that I mentioned I would create back in April. It is a “not so impromptu” proclamation in the regard that I've been planning it for months now. And the time has now come to announce it.

A Proclamation by the Author of Randomness

On 29 August 2005, for no apparent reason, except maybe in part due to the addition of a post that to this day remains my favorite, Randomness had 53 visitors in one calendar day, setting a record that has not yet been broken. Such a record should be celebrated, but it cannot be allowed to stand forever. So in an effort to break the record, but also in celebration of Randomness and its past visitors, a holiday is needed.

However, 29 August, being the second day of Pitt's academic term, is a ridiculously inconvenient time for me to celebrate this. In addition, other people would be in the full swing of their own back-to-school transitions, and would not want to celebrate it on this date.

THEREFORE, I, "TJ," author of Randomness, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the fact that I write this blog, do hereby proclaim the first day of August 2006, as well as the first Tuesday of August in all years thereafter as Visit Randomness Day. I plan to mark this unofficial holiday by blogging in a celebratory manner. I ask that my readers celebrate by visiting Randomness, reading its posts, and commenting on them, as well as by encouraging others to do the same.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of this blog the second.

Yes, I just created a holiday solely for the promotion of my blog. More may come. Deal with it.


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19 July 2006


Okay. I know that everyone is dying to hear about camp, but the fact is I'm too tired to write about it now. In fact, I'm too tired to do just about anything except lie in bed and type this on my calculator. The reason is, as the title suggests, because I'm sick. Not the disgusting vomit-y kind of sick... more like immense fatigue with a fever attached.

It started yesterday afternoon, although obviously I didn't notice it at the time. I had biked to my grandmother's house, where we discussed preparations for our annual Fun Week with the cousins. Afterwards, as I got on my bike to ride home, I was overcome by exhaustion. I thought little of it, though, as it had been a fairly long ride there.

I then went with my father and brother to the Erie SeaWolves baseball game for Church Night. On the way, we stopped at Lowe's (of all places) for something, and when I stood up to get out of the car, I got dizzy, and that's when the headache came on. It's been throbbing ever since.

Nevertheless, I survived amongst people screaming, "Why don't you swing?" to our players. I mean, three called strikeouts in as many innings? It's enough to drive anyone crazy, especially when you're down 4-0! Well, they did start swinging somewhat, but it wasn't enough, as Erie, the worst team in the division, fell to the second-worst team by a score of 7-0. I don't think I've ever seen the SeaWolves be shut out. Simply pathetic.

It's amazing how different the fans' attitudes are now that the SeaWolves are past their glory days of 1999 and 2001. People come to the ballpark no longer expecting Erie to win, but in hopes that they won't lose. Oh, well. It's been a bad season for baseball in our area, both in AA and in the Major Leagues.

Anywho, I got home, looked around for the thermometer which never seems to be where it's supposed to be, and eventually found it by myself (despite the fact that I was begging others to help me). I took my temperature, and indeed, it wasn't ridiculously high, but considering how rarely I get sick, it was enough to tell me, "Bed. Now." So that's what I did; it was 22:30.

Now, most days in the summer I force myself to be vertical (i.e., "up") by 09:30. On a bad day, when I'm especially tired, I might roll out around 11:00. Anyway, at 13:15, I mustered the strength to crawl out of bed, attempt to shake the stupid thermometer to reset it (although Dad actually did it), and take my temperature again. It was lower, but still elevated. And that has been the story of today for me every time I've checked it: lower, but still elevated.

So needless to say, I've spent most of the day doing very little, which is a shame, because I spent Sunday and Monday doing very little because I was exhausted from camp. I was really hoping to get some things done today. I did, though, spend about a half an hour writing thank you notes to people who gave me things for my graduation, because that's pretty mindless.

Mind you, a great deal of thought went into designing what I would write on them, but actually physically handwriting the notes is something I could do while half asleep. In fact, that's what I was doing today. So don't feel offended. Honestly, do you expect me to write dozens of completely different notes to the dozens of people who just gave me a card and some cash? Not that cards and cash aren't nice, but the answer is no way, José!

For those of you who are concerned about catching my fever through the mail, don't be. If you happen to be one of the lucky few who will receive a thank you note from me dated 19 July, just don't lick it, and you should be fine.

Anyway, at the rate things are going, my temperature should be back to normal by tomorrow morning. But now I've got to stand up; I've been horizontal for the last 45 minutes.

Whoa, dizzy!


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