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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).


Anonymous said...

you have WAY too much time on your hands.
i enjoyed it though.

Tim Parenti said...

As I mentioned in the very first paragraph, this list was compiled over several sessions. I definitely did not do this in one sitting. This was, like, three or four weeks in the making.

Stephen Lewis said...

first off, by all means, steal the idea. i am thoroughly impressed with this list. i was considering restarting the blog now that i've gotten more ideas from college, but i haven't gotten around to it yet. so cheers to you, tj, you're definitely getting a mention next time i post.

comments on the list:
1. right before i came to school, i got new shoes... and i have avoided wearing them for that exact purpose. all i know is that when i was trying them on in the store, something in the back of the heel didn't feel right. but i bought them anyway. so i've been avoiding those new shoes for that exact reason.

6. every campus visit i went to before, there was chalk on the ground all over. amazingly, i have yet to see it done here.

12. we have a kappa kappa psi here. just thought i'd mention that. by the way, how'd you get greek letters in your text?

16. amazingly enough, i knew about this, thanks to the MENC website!

17. i think i've started to avoid salad. just because... i really don't think it's good for me. i dunno. i head home tomorrow, so i'll see how much weight i've gained (or hopefully, lost).

26. you sing tenor, don't you? welcome to the life of a bass. (evil laugh)

28. our laundry machines only accept quarters. quarters are practically unavailable anywhere on campus. there's something wrong with this picture.

34. i had the same craving for a pizza hut pizza one night. but i didn't get it. so i was sad.

42. the environment of football games is so much different from back in high school. there's a lot more heckling the players from the stands. anything's pretty much fair game, except for cursing and racial slurs. however, i still think one of the greatest insults was when a football player fell for no apparent reason, and a voice from the band section shouted, "you fell!" it was hilarious. had to have been there.

43. i actually fixed an elevator! there was an elevator that was stuck on the first floor, with the door open. i fiddled with the buttons, and managed to get the door to close (by holding in the "close door" button and the floor button. i rode the 'vader back down to the first floor, and the kid waiting there said, "man, that elevator's broken." as the door closed normally, i said to him, "no it's not." and laughed. slam.

49. all i can say for this one is, i had one heck of a fun time trying to picture this... we have no escalators on campus, but next time i see one...

Lexi Elizabeth said...

1. I don't even own new shoes and haven't for like a year, but a lot of my friends have broken their shoes at band.
6-10. haha. i like that.
12-13. what if someone was blocking the middle number? would you be allowed to assume that's the band?
18. duh. haha. they wouldn't arrive early after another one just left early. they are, of course, promoting diversity, right?
22. they aren't allowed to do that. that's my birthday, and with a gazillion people celebrating their birthday on mine, it makes it less special. unless their real intentions are towards me and they're just making everyone else happy. haha.
23. well someone sounds sarcastic
33. haha. i don't think anyone would look at me like a geeky nut. haha
36. i believe that. haha. during the band trip we could never just go down or up without stopping. i'm sure college is worse.
40. that isn't even two meals a day. i would hate that. how on earth is that too many? does that include snack times or something?
42. elaborate???
43. that's really good to know, especially since i was gonna do that all the teim at college. now i guess i won't
44-46. wow. creepy.
48. I'm a procrastinator. except i'm worse than that. i wouldn't look at the assignment until 20:00 (8 pm for normal non-tim people.)
49-50. why? that's so...odd and random and stupid.

Laurel said...

49-50 EWWWW I saw that and it was soooo GROSS!!! I'll comment more later!

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