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31 December 2007

Revisiting a Rather Nice Year

Here we are again in the last few hours of a rapidly waning year, waiting patiently for the arrival of 2008. It's a time of reflection for many, and so, in keeping with what appears to be becoming this blog's tradition, it's time for me to reflect.

January opened with a second consecutive Photoshop doodle just before I went off to begin my second semester at college. As usually happens around the fourth day of a new year, I had a birthday, this one rendering me nineteen. Once the celebrations died down, I was re-assimilated into life in the city as well as classes, including a rather challenging honors chemistry lab.

February, or Feb'y as I called it for much of the month, was really, really cold and snowy, but it passed by without much incident. I'd been afraid of what 02/07/07 had in store for me, but it really ended up being a rather normal Wednesday. I officially declared my major, had a bunch of exams, and was just plain swamped. But it all turned out well.

The madness of March came upon me, and I ended up travelling quite a bit, to Hartford, New York City, and Buffalo with the pep band. In favor of my academic pursuits (which, after all, is why I was at school), I opted not to go to San Jose, though, so I still haven't experienced the West Coast. Oh, well; I'm sure I'll have more opportunities to travel in the future.

April was peppered with concerts as I came down the home stretch, and then tragedy struck another college campus, while our own was slightly jarred as well. I finished my group service project with DRS, and my first college year went out with a bang.

May and June were fun, even though I wasn't able to end up with a job for the summer. I had a few projects of my own to keep me busy. One of them, which came to fruition in July, was to arrange four-part harmonies for the Canadian and American national anthems. The ultra-hyped 07/07/07 came at the beginning of my first "stint" as a camp counselor, but other than that, nothing really radical happened.

August brought the end of life to four of my teeth, but I'm sure they're okay with that. Then, after over three months at home, I got itching to get going again back at school. I also escaped the curse of Friday the Seventeenth while I was at band camp in Bradford, so I don't have to worry again until October 2008.

September and October were the bulk of the first semester in my major. Some classes were much easier than expected, some were much harder. In November, after a busy band season, I was inducted into one of the band fraternities, and that has turned out to be a very rewarding experience.

December started on a high note with Pitt's stunning upset victory over West Virginia in football, but then finals came around, and that wasn't so stunning (and I swear, I'll post more about that at some point). The holiday season snuck up on us all as usual, as well as the annual slew of colds and general malaise. I don't know; this December just felt different. But Christmas was fun, in all its iterations.

Before being caught up in the "Christmas high," I recall having thought that 2007 just needed to end. I think that was just because of recent events, though. I mean, if December wasn't great, but the rest of the year was good, then that's not all that bad, isn't it? All in all, 2007 was a rather nice year, I'd say.

Still, I'm optimistic for 2008. I'm growing up. Life is getting to be more important. Big decisions will have to be made. It's scary, but it's also exciting. I don't usually make resolutions for January, but this year I've got plenty. And if I can manage to keep just a few of the big ones, I'm sure to have a great 2008!

Happy New Year everyone!

Random tangent: You'll recall that my brother got angry that we had sparkling red grape juice to ring in 2007 rather than our traditional sparkling white (actually, you might not recall that). Well, this year, after a trip to the grocery store, Mom realized that we didn't have any non-alcoholic celebratory beverage, and proceeded to blame us for not reminding her. But then she realized, as I had done much earlier, that there was, in fact, sparkling grape juice in the refrigerator already. Of course, it's red. Oh, well; David'll live.


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25 December 2007

A Christmas Complication

©2007, Timothy J. Parenti. All rights reserved.
This video is 0:43 in length.

As you can probably tell from the still shot, I had a little problem earlier today. My seven-year-old cousin Danny was a bit too excited to see me today at the family gathering and transformed into Magnet-Boy! Fortunately, I was able to get a little help from Uncle Richard.

I'm enjoying the holiday with my family (immediate and extended), and I hope everyone is having fun doing the same!

Have a Magnetic Merry Christmas!

And of course, I'll have more of the usual stuff later.

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18 December 2007


I have really been in need for a creative outlet lately. Here it is.

I've decided to launch a francophone webcomic, Philippe! Philippe started out as the unofficial "official mascot of French class" back in high school, and after learning that my brother had chosen the name as his French pseudonym this year, I had to revive the character.

I plan to have a new installment every Tuesday I can manage, even if that only ends up being four weeks (which is how much I've drawn as of now). If I hit a dry spell, that doesn't mean I won't pick it back up at some point.

To avoid people asking, Philippe is a squiggle. His basic form was derived out of boredom at the markerboard in French class. There's really no other way to describe what he is. And yes, I realized that no arms and legs would become an issue. Oh, well.

The comic is drawn using regular markers and paper. My art's not good enough for anything fancier.

If you have any ideas for future editions of Philippe, please send me an email. If I like them, I'll get right to drawing them!


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11 December 2007

OChem Update

Just a little update... while I'm sure I didn't "ace" the OChem exam, I certainly did much better than the last two. Granted, I said that about the last one and it didn't end up meaning much, but this time I have qualitative evidence that I did better:

I was able to do 10 of the 12 "complete the reaction" problems (only 10 are graded), and I finally was able to complete a full synthesis problem on my own. That, and I only ended up leaving two problems unfinished.

I'm holding out hope for the benefit of the doubt being given in the name of improvement. And then, of course, there's the chance that I did everything wrong... but I don't think so.

One down, two to go!


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Term 2081 Finals

Not much to explain; it's Finals Week. What else is there to say? Anyway, here's my schedule:

Aw. They're in descending order of difficulty. How quaint. Obviously, any prayers between, oh, 14:00 and 15:50 EST on Tuesday are appreciated... because no matter how much studying I have done, and no matter how much studying I continue to do between now and then, I will not reach a point where I will be able to call myself "prepared" for the CHEM exam. Sure, I will have prepared, but to "be prepared" implies completion of the preparation, which won't even come close to fruition. Come test time, I'll just go in and write what I know; that's all I can do. And that's all I have to say about that.

The MATH exam I'm not too worried about, as I've done fairly well on the midterms and have gotten pretty good at fitting the necessary equations and transformations on my one-page "cheat sheet." I'll be making that Tuesday night at around 18:00 after I've had a couple of hours to wallow in self-pity. And I hope I'm kidding there, but the way things have been going in CHEM, you never know...

As for ChE... please. In a matter of 60 seconds, my classmates got my professor from "bring your Felder textbook (for the data tables), a calculator, and a ruler" to "bring your Felder and Wankat's books, a calculator, a ruler, and a one-page cheat sheet." I've been getting high-90s on the exams and 100s on the quizzes as it is.

Of course, I won't blow off studying... what else do I have to do all week? But if, after two or three hours of studying, my mind has gone numb because of the seemingly simple and repetitive concepts, then I won't feel bad calling it quits. My only concern is that this exam is three hours long, as it's a six-credit class... our midterms were two hours and our quizzes were one. Yikes!

I'm going to stay in Pittsburgh all day Friday to tie up loose ends, and begin my journey home shortly after the men's basketball game against Oklahoma State on Saturday 15 December. I'll be home for three full weeks before classes resume on Monday 7 January 2008.

Random tangent: I'm usually adamantly against New Year's Resolutions, because January is such a horrible time of year to start anything. I much prefer March, June, and October for resolving to do things, for reasons to long to fit in this already-long tangent. But I've got a January resolution this year already, although I'll probably start it Friday after my finals. It was more or less prompted by the most recent episode of my all-too-frequent emotional breakdown series. No need to worry; good comes out of all of my breakdowns, you see, in case I haven't made that obvious by mentioning the resolution in the first place.


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06 December 2007

More Concerts!

"Why are you so dressed up?"

"Oh, I had a concert."

I swear, if I've had that conversation once, I've had it a dozen times this week alone. But that's just how it works this time of year.

So tonight was the Heinz Chapel Choir's private concert for the Chancellor and his cronies. I certainly was neither as nervous nor as excited this year as I was last year, but that's okay. Chancellor Nordenberg made a similar speech, we sang through our program, and at the end, a very eagerly expressive smile appeared immediately on his face as he and his wife promptly began what became a standing ovation.

Anyway, the reception was fabulous as usual, and this time I got a picture with a few choir friends and the Chancellor. I heard plenty of complements, and people seemed amazed that college students (mostly non-music majors) could make such beautiful harmonies with such little rehearsal time. And when I think about it, it's true! Most of this year's Holiday pieces were given to us in mid-October, and we've only had 12 two-hour rehearsals since then. It is truly something to be heard.

And you can! WQED-FM will be broadcasting tomorrow night's concert live, and you can listen to our performance online! Here's what you need to know:

Heinz Chapel Choir Holiday Concert
Friday 7 December 2007, 20:00-21:15 EST
(Saturday 8 December 2007, 01:00-02:15 UTC)

Ted Sohier is your host as the Heinz Chapel Choir processes down the aisles for a candlelit concert in the hushed atmosphere of the Heinz Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. John Goldsmith conducts the choir in Allegri’s Miserere, with guest coloratura soprano Candace Erb hitting the high C.

Listen live online! (Requires Windows Media Player)

I'm sure this will be rebroadcast, too, at some point, but I'm sure you wouldn't want to miss out while you've got the chance now. What better way to get in the holiday spirit than listening to holiday songs?

* * *

I know I promised a better explanation about Saturday night's celebrations. That will most likely come with my normal "finals week" post later this weekend. And if I'm lucky, and have extra time, I'll do another "life update" thingy, but probably not until after my last exam on 13 December. Because as fun as they are, they take forever to write.

Random tangent 1: Three inches of snow Wednesday! Yee-ha! Wait... do cowboys even know what snow is?

Random tangent 2: In an organic chemistry review session on Wednesday, a molecule was drawn on the board. The professor asked us to name it, at which point someone said, "Bob." And for those who care, the real answer was cis-1,3-dimethylcyclohexane. Oh, well. At least we got a laugh.

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02 December 2007

Pitt Campus Celebrations after Backyard Brawl Win

©2007, Timothy J. Parenti. All rights reserved.
This video is 6:19 in length.

Too important not to post.

Pitt's campus was filled with energy after the Panthers' upset victory of #2-ranked West Virginia in the 100th Backyard Brawl last night.

I stayed out until about midnight before heading to a friend's house, plus I had an inclination things would get too crazy for everyone's good. And as I hear, things did indeed get quite a bit more rowdy after I left, both on campus and in South Oakland. Still, this stuff's pretty exciting.


I have a concert in an hour, so I can't write any more now, but I will!


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19 November 2007

My Father's Brother

I am not, in fact, referring to my Uncle Dave, although he does indeed fit that description. I am, through a different definition of brotherhood, referring to myself.

The Final Degree of Initiation for ΜΚΥ was Sunday morning, and I'm pretty sure I mentioned that I was a pledge. I say "was" because, as is implied by the "final" in "Final Degree of Initiation," I have "finally" been initiated, and am now a Brother! A Brother of the Fraternity that my father helped to found in 1978, which thus would make me, in a sort of esoteric sense, my father's brother. Or more specifically, my father's Brother.

And pretty much the whole of the Brotherhood went to the Waterfront afterwards to have a good lunch at Fuddrucker's. It was my first time there, and it was really good food. So that's awesome.

Sadly, my "Big Brother" Kevin was recovering from having recently been ill, so though he attended the ceremony, he opted not to join us for lunch. Oh, well. Hopefully he'll get better soon.

Panther football: What more can I say? After a long Friday, I slept through the first half of the Rutgers game Saturday, then I got up, did some things, ate, and proceeded to watch the last seven minutes. And what a seven minutes they were! Once again, a spectacular game-winning pass to the endzone is turned into what ultimately was a spectacular game-losing penalty for offensive pass interference. But if you look at some of the injured players and redshirts sitting out this season, things are looking up, I'd say. Just not this season. Oh, well.

Exams: All but one midterm is now in the books. Friday 09 November was my ChE exam. Since our professor has been out presenting at conferences and our TA has been lecturing in his absence, I got the score back but not the actual exam. I got a 97%, which is really good, and even though I can't be certain where my mistakes were, I'm pretty sure my hunches aren't far from the truth.

Friday 16 November was my Diff. Eq. exam. And unlike the last exam, this one literally was the practice test with different numbers. With the exception of one fraction that everyone seemed to have trouble expanding, the test was easy as pie. Now, the jury's out on exactly which kind of pie is easiest, as we're still waiting for figures from the latest experiment to be calculated. But it was definitely as easy as pumpkin pie, if not apple.

All I have left is an OChem exam on Wednesday 28 November, which, I vow, will go much better than the previous one. And I can say that with confidence because I actually do know most of the material now. That last one was just an unfortunate combination of everything bad all at once. I also have to give a presentation in ChE Lab on Thursday 06 December, but it's only five minutes, and my part isn't very technical in nature. Then I have one final each day from 11 through 13 December, then I'm off until 07 January 2008. Whoa, that'll feel nice.

Thanksgiving: I'm actually quite excited for the holiday this year. I think this will be one of my most thankful Thanksgivings in recent memory, simply because it will be a welcome break from what is often a monotony of work and labs and exams and rehearsals. Granted, my break is cut short because I have to be back for the Pitt football game on Saturday, but I'll be fine. I'll get to enjoy myself both in Girard and in Pittsburgh.

For those of you wondering, I'm leaving Oakland on Tuesday evening after choir rehearsal, spending Tuesday night at Jana and Richard's house, and leaving with them first thing Wednesday morning. It looks as though I'll be with my dad's side of the family on Friday, which is closer to Pittsburgh, as I'll have to return early Friday evening.

Christmas: There are only 37 days left. Are you ready?

Obviously, I'm not. But, um, I might actually have a bit of a list this year! I have taken note of a few things that I could actually use! So for those of you who ask me year after year, "What do you want for Christmas?" and are tired of the same old "I dunno" response, you may well be surprised when you ask me this time around.

Granted, my list is at three items right now, and I'm sure I have more relatives than that, so... good luck. I think I'll hold off on announcing my list until I can think of more items, or sometime around the end of classes (07 December).

Getting older: As if my own departure for college weren't enough, now we're starting to have to deal with Laurel's. It's exciting, but as if the paradigm shift from "I'm a kid, woohoo!" to "Ohmigosh, I'm growing up" wasn't enough stress on the system, I am now shifting further to "Ohmigosh, we're growing up!" Apparently, seeing people younger than you reaching milestones you've already reached makes you feel old; I don't know.

But sombre as the feeling can be from time to time, I do find it exhilarating. Being the oldest of the "actual" cousins of the Cousin Club, you'd think I'd have felt this more often by now whilst watching my cousins grow up, but there's just something about the leap to college that is much more significant. Hmm... how about the nascent stages of adulthood? Yeah, that's probably it...

Anyway, since you all liked responding to the last time I mentioned getting older, what do you "old people" think about this? When did you first come to the realization that reliving past memories vicariously through those younger than you gives you a weird feeling? Does me talking about my first coming to this realization make you feel old now?


I know that I've got more to write on life in general, as I've been pondering a great deal of things lately, but I'm getting a bit weary of writing this, as I'm sure you may well be of reading this. Besides, I have hardly any schoolwork to speak of this week (or rather this next day and a half), so I should be able to post again.

But all is well, life is good, and I'm thankful for that! I'm excited to see all of my relatives for the holiday. Bye.

Random tangent: It is a well-known fact that spinners spin, heaters heat, and other things of that nature. It so follows that panthers panth and otters ott. Discuss the implications these findings have on society as we know it today.


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04 November 2007

What? You Want a Title?

Living at the corner of two one-way streets isn't any fun. Back when I lived on upper campus, I'd tell people to "turn left here, here, or here," just to see what they'd pick, and which way I'd go home this time. Now, there's really only one way to get here. You can't even approach it from both sides like on a normal street. Boo.

In other news, Daylight Saving Time ends today. There's just something about "November" and "Daylight Saving Time" that doesn't make much sense to me. But that's alright, because it's meant brighter evenings. Granted, having an 08:00 class five days a week, I'm quite ready to shift that hour into the morning, because it's been a bear getting up these last couple of weeks.

Speaking of DST, this is the fourth time I've had to change my alarm clock this year, and the first time I'm actually home to do it. Why four times, you ask? Well, I got the alarm clock for my 17th birthday in January 2005, seven months before lawmakers decided to change the dates for DST beginning in 2007. It had this (then-)great feature of automatically setting itself for the time changes. Unfortunately, the 2005 rules were hardcoded into the clock.

But Tim! Can't you just tell it to ignore DST and change it manually?

I wish I could. However, the manual states that "If you live in an area which does not observe Daylight Saving Time, you will have to manually undo the automatic time changes on the first Sunday of April and the last Sunday of October."

Bah. I guess they weren't worried about selling that model in Arizona.

Anyway, I must change it four times a year now:

  • The second Sunday in March - After 01:59 EST, the time "springs forward" to 03:00 EDT (as per the new rules), but the clock ticks on to 02:00 EST. I tell it that it's 03:00, but it assumes it's 03:00 EST. Forward one hour.
  • The first Sunday in April - At 01:59 EDT, the clock thinks it's 01:59 EST, after which it observes the old-style "spring forward" to 03:00 EDT... but it's really 02:00 EDT. Back one hour.
  • The last Sunday in October - After 01:59 EDT, the clock performs the old-style "fall back" to 01:00 EST... but DST hasn't ended yet, and it's still 02:00 EDT. Forward one hour.
  • The first Sunday in November - After 01:59 EDT, the time "falls back" to 01:00 EST, but the clock, thinking it was 01:59 EST and that DST has already ended, ticks on to 02:00 EST. Back one hour.
At the very least, this is a nuisance. But it is an otherwise good alarm clock, and I suppose I can bother to remember both sets of rules. In fact, I have done so with no problem, because I'm amazingly good with remembering dates, as anyone who knows me can tell you.

Anyway, of the four dates listed above, this is the first time I've actually been home to change it. On 11 March ("spring forward"), I was in New York City for the last night before leaving from the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament. The weekend of 01 April ("un-spring back"), I was with my family, enjoying my brother's school musical. This past Sunday, 28 October ("un-fall forward"), I was just returning from the band's trip to Louisville, Kentucky. Granted, I was technically back by 00:30, but I went straight to bed, and I don't really consider myself to have returned until I woke up in the morning. Today is the first time that I will not be going on a trip, only to come back to an incorrect "smart clock."

My atomic wall clock, though, has given me no trouble, as Daylight Saving Time information is encoded in the broadcast signal. Lucky me.

I also realized that I never got around to posting my arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner from Independence Day. I mean, I wrote it in July, recorded it in August, edited it in September, let it gather dust in October, and only just now converted it to an MP3 in November. So here it is; enjoy:


The Star-Spangled Banner, arr. Timothy J. Parenti, 04 July 2007.
All rights reserved.

Yeah, I know... it's a tad on the "quick tempo" side... I must have been feeling a bit perky that day. Just think of it this way: faster tempo = shorter time = smaller file = less bandwidth used. Although, who really cares all that much about bandwidth anymore?

I feel like I'm running out of things to say, and yet there's a whole month of stuff missing from this blog. Yet I don't want to ramble on and bore you either.

Um. Last time I posted, I had just taken my first OChem exam. Well that one went decently well, and I just took another one this past Monday. I haven't gotten my grade yet, but that one definitely did not go so well. The combination of the trip to Louisville immediately prior and not being able to study much whilst there really didn't help, although neither is really an excuse for drawing blanks so large as I did on Monday.

Oh, well. My only consolation, I guess, is that I pretty much understand all of that material now. Which means I can still build on it for the next exam.

In ChE 0101 lab on Thursday, we did an experiment with a "spinning bowl concentrator." Basically, we took iron shavings and sand, went to great lengths to ensure that all of the iron was magnetic and one size, while all of the sand was non-magnetic and another size, mixed them together, and used complicated means to separate them again in a fluid-based system. It seems utterly redundant, but the point was the process of the separation, which will involve tons of calculations. And in order to do those calculations, we have to know exactly what we started with. Hence making a mixture and separating it immediately thereafter.

My ChE 0100 professor is out of town for the next two weeks presenting at conferences, so the TA is going to teach us. We'll get our professor back for two days before Thanksgiving Break, so it's like he's gone for three weeks! Depending on how you look at it, this could be a good thing or a bad thing. And quite frankly, I'm not sure many people in the class itself know where they stand on this.

Um... Pitt's won a couple of exciting games (Cincinnati and Syracuse), but we've lost a couple, too (Navy and Louisville). Both of the losses were in spectacular fashion, as only Pitt can do.

Well, that may not be entirely true, as I'm sure there are plenty of others who could lose just as spectacularly, but could I really care less about them?

Meanwhile, basketball has started up. I'm pretty excited.

Also, my Uncle Dave from Tennessee was in town this week for a conference of sorts, so we met up Thursday night and had some food at The O. It was a good time, especially since I only ever really see him for Independence Day and Christmas.

Other than that, I don't really see all that much to say. I know I'm going to be kicking myself in a day's time (i.e., 25 hours today), knowing just how important were those things I've forgotten. But you know what? That's the beauty of having this here blog. If I find myself in that position, I can just write more.

So now I'll be like bromine, and do what we pay good leaving groups to do... leave.

Random tangent: Off and on, I've been feeling artsy. I figure I'd like to take a picture every day, as a combined method of release as well as honing of my photography skills. But alas, I don't have the diligence... yet.

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02 October 2007


Oh my. It has certainly been a while since I've blogged. But then again, it seems as though it has been a while since I've had the time to catch my breath. I apologize for this lapse, which by my count, is the fourth longest on this blog, the longest being 47 days from here to here. At least I got a post in for September, albeit a solitary one. And now I won't have to worry about October!

And so, through the magic that is my Internet day-planner (which is literally always open, by the way), I will make a feeble attempt at going through the last twenty days in something resembling chronological order... forwards, that is. Now that's something I haven't done in a while.

Basically, I've gone through a lot of things that have affected my life in some way or another, which is good, I suppose. Why don't you read and decide for yourself?

In order to give some context, though, I must go back a bit further. Tuesday 04 September was the fall rush event for Mu Kappa Upsilon (ΜΚΥ), the Honorary Service Fraternity of the University of Pittsburgh Band. (I'd provide a link to ΜΚΥ itself, but the site's broken and they're scrambling to fix it.) On Thursday 06 September, I received a bid to become a member. So, when I wrote on Wednesday 12 September that there would be Greek letters in my next post, this is what I was referring to.

Of course, I also said that I might include the whole Greek alphabet just because, so here it is:


Daunting, isn't it?

Anyway, I ended up accepting my bid on Friday 14 September, going through the First Degree of Initiation on Sunday 16 September, and started the pledging process. Part of it has already involved writing those letters (upper- and lower-case) in order, and reciting them in under ten seconds, all from memory. Fortunately, the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens got me interested enough in the Greek language that I didn't have to study much for that "test." But gosh, that was last Tuesday. I promised I wouldn't get ahead of myself, didn't I?

I also rushed the various Kappa Kappa Psi (ΚΚΨ) events, but I had to accept or reject my bid to ΜΚΥ before the ΚΚΨ bids were to be delivered. I got the standard "no bid" letter from ΚΚΨ, but the person who delivered it to me (interestingly, my section leader and fellow ΜΚΥ pledge class brother) went out of his way to say that he felt it was more of a "wait until next term" than an outright "no." And quite frankly, I'm pleased. I had been asking around if anyone had pledged both ΜΚΥ and ΚΚΨ in the same term, because (at one time) I was actually considering it. My concerns about having "too much on my plate" made them make the hard decision for me, from the way I understand it.

And that's just fine with me. I can focus more on my schoolwork.

Which is going well; thanks for asking! A few quizzes each week with good marks, slightly above-average OChem lab reports (which I'm hoping to bring up), homework assignments of varying difficulty and length... it's all adding up to a good experience, though a stressful one.

By the way, my finger recovered fully within about 24 hours of the 11 September incident, by which I don't mean the terrorist attacks of 2001, but I'll be coming back to those later, as it turns out.

On Thursday 13 September, I actually had my first ChE 0101 lab session with my group of five, and we performed a multi-stage liquid-liquid extraction. It doesn't matter what that is; it just sounds impressive. We finished about 20 minutes ahead of the end of the class, so we all went our separate ways to work on our portions of the progress report. The progress report was a little rough coming together, since nobody communicated well with anyone else about what information they needed from other parts in order to do their own (myself included), but we later came to find out that we did quite well.

The major hang-up we were worried about was that the team members who did the spectral analysis (again, doesn't matter) kept the printouts from their calibration of the machine, but then just wrote down numbers for the actual data, i.e., they didn't have the printouts that they probably should have had. We were worried that we were going to have to redo the entire lab during our second lab session on Thursday 27 September, but after meeting with the professor and going over our progress report, he told us that we didn't have to, and so we got out at about 08:30. And I was quite productive for the balance of the normal class time, so that felt good.

On Friday 14 September there was an unofficial trumpet party (as there was no home game). And of course, some freshmen just like to drink. Most can't handle it well. Two of them got sick, and since the host of the party was taking care of the first one, I got stuck tending to the other one until about 02:30.

This person will remain unnamed for their protection, but I will say that it was very difficult listening to their mumbles as they were slumped over a trash can while the other people at the party continued drinking and eventually started singing bad '80s music and the theme from Zelda at the top of their lungs. Not to mention the fact that, having never consumed a drop of alcohol, I had no idea what this person was going through, or what would make them feel better.

So that was stressful. And of course, I made fun of this person a few days later, once they had sobered up.

Saturday 15 September was the day that the Panthers lost to Michigan State, incidentally the top choice school of my cousin Laurel. But more importantly, it was the 20th birthday of my friend Will, who is incidentally in every one of my classes. You'd think we're going for the same major or something... ;)

So on the evening of Sunday 16 September we held a surprise birthday party of sorts in his (somewhat spacious) dorm room. People sang karaoke (often poorly), and tried to get other people to sing karaoke, and video footage was shot, but I've promised that it won't be featured here... at least not for five or ten years. Because then it'll be funny looking back. I also took some photos of the decorations, but I think I'm going to save the only real funny one for my 20th birthday blog post in January.

Which brings me to another point. On Wednesday 26 September, I came to the startling realization that there were exactly 100 days remaining until my 20th birthday. So what? Well, that means that I'm in my last 100 days of teenagerhood... or whatever it's called. And in fact, I've only got 94 of them to go.

I updated my Facebook status to reflect this realization, after which I got a "Wall post" from an acquaintance (Ben's girlfriend, Megan) saying:

omg! if you're in the last 100 days then so am I!!


we're old.
how depressing

To which I responded,

We ARE getting old. I feel like I should do something to make the most out of these last few months of teenagerhood, but I really can't think of anything. Eh, teenagerhood mushes right into early twenties anyway when you're in college; the two are nearly indistinguishable.

So, as with just about every other milestone, though it will be celebrated, I probably won't try to "get anything in" before the "deadline," because I actually have a life. And it's those memories that count...

And I realize how old I'm making the forty-, fifty-, and seventy-somethings of my readership feel by saying this. Sorry. But still, it's a pretty big milestone!

Speaking of Ben, we're actually getting back into the habit of emailing each other again. I know how much he's helped me in my life, and it seems that this might be one of those times when I'll be giving back. Anytime, Ben; anytime.

On Thursday 20 September I met up with my aunt Barb to have lunch. We went to Joe Mama's, despite recent allegations of a racist manager. (Personally, I just think the guy was a jerk, but I have been steering clear of the heated discussion.) We talked and ate, ate and talked, realized that the number of half-pound meatballs sold last month varies greatly depending on which copy of the menu you have, and talked some more. It was a good time, as usual.

On Thursday 27 September, my phone buzzed at 07:45. My first thought was, "I could've sworn that alarm already went off," but then I realized it was my mother calling. She had a seminar in Pittsburgh, to which Dad was taking her, and Dad would have several hours to kill. She asked if would I like to have lunch with my father, and of course, I hastily rearranged my schedule to make "family time." Because family is just that important to me. So I ate at Five Guys for the first time in my life, despite it being less than 150 feet from my dorm.

Um, what else?

Oh yeah, Pitt sucked again on Saturday 22 September.

There was a chemical spill which cancelled my OChem class on Friday 21 September, and rescheduled it for later.

There was a whole debacle over Heinz Chapel Choir and Marching Band again. The band had a scheduled performance at a festival at North Allegheny High School (NAHS) on the evening of Saturday 29 September. But Choir Camp was to be held all day on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 September at Camp Allegheny, 90 miles from the city. Throughout a series of email messages, there was some confusion, disagreement, and even resentment between all the involved parties (the directors of both ensembles, me, and two other students), but it all worked out in the end.

For me, aunt Bev volunteered to pick me up Saturday afternoon from Choir Camp so that I could make it to the band event and still do the things I needed to do in Oakland on Sunday. Basically, she ended up unnecessarily making a giant 215-mile loop just for me. Thanks a bunch!

It reminds me of the other times I've been a stressed Panther.

Since Bev admits to having a lead foot, she got to camp early, ad we had extra time once I left, so we made a 4- or 5-minute stop at the Flight 93 National Memorial, which was just three miles off of the main road anyway. It was quite a sobering experience. Granted, the effect was lost on almost-seven-year-old cousin Danny, who saw the little trinkets left by the memorial wall as "cool toys." But you have to excuse him; he wasn't even 11 months when the planes crashed.

On the way to NAHS, I helped Danny with his first grade spelling words and simple addition and subtraction problems, while attempting to carry on conversation with Bev about many of the same things I'd talked to Barb about a week earlier over lunch. That was fun at times.

We ended up passing the school, asking for directions at a gas station, turning around, and then seeing that though its location was obvious from that direction, it clearly would not have been from the other direction. Incidentally, we were three vehicles behind the last Pitt band bus that pulling in. I quickly suited up, and got ready to play.

The band was receiving updates on the score of the Pitt game during the band show. And they're well on their way to finishing 2-10. Looks like I'll be home for Christmas. And New Year's.

The performance went well, and then I basically crashed on my bed, as is usual for a Saturday night after a band event. I've actually been doing a little bit better on sleep for the last few days. (I suppose tonight would be an exception to that.)

So, after waking up at 07:15 for five days of classes plus Saturday for Choir Camp, I wanted to sleep in on Sunday. But at 07:45, there was music coming from outside.

It was the start of the 5K run for the annual Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race about two blocks down, and since my window faces Fifth Avenue, I could hear just about everything. I heard all of the announcements, I heard the Pitt Men's Glee Club sing the National Anthem and God Bless America, and I heard Mayor Luke Ravenstahl fire the gun to signal the start just after 08:30. I also heard about 3300 people take off down Fifth Avenue.

(By the way, I just realized that I haven't posted my arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner here yet. Well, for now you can go back and listen to O Canada! again.)

Anyway, from about 09:45 to 10:10, the 5500 runners who had started at Frick Park for the 10K race then came through Oakland, which was the halfway point. It was fun watching people attempt to cross the street. The best strategy was to simply join in the running and work one's way to the other side. Hopefully, you were headed toward downtown. If not, you'd have a little extra walking to do.

By the time church was starting at 10:30, the steady stream of over runners had subsided, so I could cross safely without getting trampled. Sunday 30 September was the last day for Dave van Dyke, the pastor at Bellefield Presbyterian Church for seven years. So farewells were said as he starts the next stage of his life.

Monday 01 October was my first exam, in OChem. To be honest, it wasn't bad. There were a few tricky spots, but nothing that was unexpected. I'm anticipating a rather large number to be on the "Total" line when I get it back.

And that's about all that's in the past. Probably literally everything of any significance whatsoever. This post reminds me of "A Taste of May," and we all know what happened to that...

Looking ahead, I have a ChE (Foundations) quiz on Wednesday 03 October, and an exam on Wednesday 10 October. That's also the day of the Pitt-Navy game, which will be televised nationally, so Pitt had better do something worthwhile! The final report in the ChE 0101 lab is due on Thursday 11 October, and my first Diff. Eq. exam is Friday 12 October.

That is followed by a series of concerts with the Heinz Chapel Choir, one off-campus the evening of Saturday 13 October, one at a local church the morning of Sunday 14 October, and then the usual Fall Concert (free to the public) at 15:00 on Sunday 14 October in the Heinz Memorial Chapel. Please let me know if you plan to attend so that I can arrange to do something with you.

Also, information about the Holiday Concert series will be coming out soon, so keep you eyes peeled for ticket pre-ordering deadlines. They'll sneak up on you before you know it!

That's all for now, I think. I'm glad I got to finish this before I fell asleep at the keyboard.

Random tangent: George passed out Dum-Dums prior to Monday's exam. I got Root Beer and Mystery.


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12 September 2007

Bands, Details, and Burn!

First off, I hereby remember those who died on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday morning six years ago, 11 September 2001. I observed a moment of silence at 08:46 ET on Tuesday, even though I was in class and probably wouldn't have been talking anyway. I felt safe taking time out to close my eyes and say a short silent prayer simply because the problem the professor was working was super easy.

Anyway, it was really rainy Tuesday morning, and I felt bad because I had to borrow a friend's umbrella just to go from Benedum Hall to my room to Benedum Hall again. Apparently I'd forgotten things when I got up in the morning.

Speaking of which, I decided that the number of the day was 734, because when I rolled out of bed, my atomic clock read 07:34 with an indoor temperature of 73.4°F. Being who I am, I obviously found that too interesting to not take note of.

Backing up to Friday night, though, band practice was pushed back an hour because we had a performance at the Petersen Events Center immediately afterwards. Apparently, because the Grambling State University Band was coming to Pittsburgh (for the football game on Saturday), they sold tickets for a "Battle of the Bands" show. It was actually a "battle" between competing local high school bands that simply featured Pitt and Grambling at the end, but whatever. They sold tickets. They made money. They're happy.

I actually found a ticket to the event lying on the ground outside the next day, so I picked it up and kept it as a memento. The litterer was sitting in section 120, row L, seat 5! But that's not the point.

The point is that we were dressed in our practice uniforms for this performance. As usual, I put all of my important belongings, such as my wallet, phone, and student identification, into a plastic baggie which would stay in the knapsack we are given to hold music and other things.

After the event, I checked into my dorm room, and out of habit, put my ID in my right pocket. Then I changed clothes, transferred everything (except the ID) into my new pants pockets, and left for the trumpet party.

Needless to say, I found myself in Panther Central at about 01:30 answering numerous questions (such as my street, ID number, birthdate, etc.) so that I could get a Verification of Resident Status form and an emergency unlock code for my door. And about five minutes after I got into my room, I realized what I had done.

Grrr. This kind of stuff makes me mad. Which is why I'm usually a very "details-oriented" person. Apparently, I had had an off-day.

Saturday brought a good game, but some considerable rain, and that was another problem. All of my band music got soaked. So I went to practice Tuesday and had to peel apart the flimsy papers in order to hold them flimsily (with a great deal of trouble) so that I could attempt play... until a gust of wind "flimsified" the music once more, at which point it would often stick to itself. I later was able to make fresh photocopies of everything (literally everything) from the music the section leaders kept, but I still felt bad about it.

Especially because I had, only four hours prior, mildly burned myself in OChem lab. I was wearing a heat-resistant glove, but they're not waterproof. So a few milliliters of nearly boiling water (on the order of 90°C or 195°F) was pretty much poured straight onto my right pointer finger before I could even realize what was happening, at which point I simply dropped the flask into the sink. Luckily, it didn't break.

My finger hurt for a few hours as I self-treated it with cool water, because that's what you're supposed to do. It's much better now (about 9 hours since)... almost like nothing even happened, except there's a tiny bit of stiffness. I can even write without much discomfort, which is good, because tomorrow's OChem lecture is going over just about every nomenclature convention for organic compounds known to man... or rather, devised by man. And there are a lot of them to write down.

I'd write more, but it's rather late, and I've got to be rolling out of bed at 07:34 again. Ugh. Hopefully this bad stretch won't extend itself to a full week; I've got important things coming up soon.

Random tangent: There are going to be some Greek letters in my next post, but which ones? Maybe I'll write out the entire Greek alphabet, just to make you wince. Unless, of course, you're not intimidated by such things.


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27 August 2007

Term 2081 Schedule

Time to start year two! And so, as usual, here is my schedule for the fall term:

Class Titles and Credit Values
ChE 0100 Foundations of Chemical Engineering6 cr.
ChE 0101 Foundations of Chemical Engineering Lab 1 cr.
ChE 1085 Departmental Seminar 0 cr.
CHEM 0310 Organic Chemistry 1 3 cr.
CHEM 0330 Organic Chemistry Lab 1 1 cr.
MATH 0290 Differential Equations3 cr.
MUSIC 0612 Heinz Chapel Choir 1 cr.
MUSIC 0630 Marching Band 1 cr.
16 cr.

Classes begin 27 August 2007; final exams are 10-15 December 2007. No classes 03 September for Labor Day, or 21-25 November for Thanksgiving Recess.

The first thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is that my Organic Chemistry (OChem) lab cuts into choir. Oh, well; that's life. I already talked to the choir director and he (very cautiously) said that I'm a fast enough learner that he can spare me for one hour a week. And that leads right into marching band, too.

Last year, the procedure was to leave choir around 17:35 (15 minutes early) to be able to be on the practice field for band by 18:15 (15 minutes late). Since I'll be an hour late to choir on Tuesdays, that doesn't work. So I'll end up getting to band around 18:35 or so on Tuesdays, which isn't great, but at least I can afford it. And it's a doubly good thing that choir doesn't start until Thursday 30 August, so I won't have to use this technique until 04 September.

Moving on to my actual classes. It seems I get off-track like this every time I go over a schedule...

Oh, 08:00 classes. I think Foundations (ChE 0100) will be okay, though; since I managed to get up today and get to the room in under seven minutes, something I could never have done living on upper campus. The elevators in Benedum are, surprisingly enough, not so busy at 07:55 as they are at, say, 09:55 or 10:55.

My professor is fluent in English, which is good, and he has a bit of a sense of humor. After going over some basic examples in class today, he said, "we could go on all day listing more examples, but instead we'll go on all semester... just in more detail." So for an 08:00 class, at least the guy's trying to make it fun. Plus, since it's two hours long, we got a break in the middle. I don't know if that will become standard, but it was nice nonetheless.

I was able to grab a bagel between Foundations and OChem (CHEM 0310). Not that that matters, because I should have eaten breakfast before my first class. Stupid alarm clocks. Anyway, this just shows that I'm slowly adapting to the new meal plan; it's really weird. But that shall be another post.

The OChem professor, George, likes to be referred to by his first name because "that's the name [his] parents gave him." So there you go, my dear friends. With very little fluff, we just jumped right into business, and started the usual "review" of past material which begins a new term. He did, however, mention that he is the slowest in the department when it comes to teaching organic chemistry, and so toward the end of the term, he'll ask us to come in on some Sunday afternoons. At least he admits it upfront, you know?

George had a good analogy up his sleeve for chemical bonding, too. He said that he was a helium atom, and he pointed out another student (again, atomic helium). He waved his right arm around, called it his electron, and had the student do the same. He mentioned that because both arms were extended outwards, there was a mutual attraction between them, so they got closer and closer until they formed a bond (a handshake). But, he added, if he were to get too close to the other atom, the internuclear forces would cause it (or the other student) to become repulsed!

So if I've got to get up for three hours of classes from 08:00 to 11:00 thrice a week, at least these people have senses of humor, right?

My Diff. Eq. (MATH 0290) professor took a similar approach to jumping right in. He's very soft spoken (i.e., hard to hear), and he has a thicker accent, although it is, for the most part, decipherable. He did, however, lose just about everybody in the class in the first step of the second example, where he did the following in one step:

I thought that's what we were taking that class to learn. I'm going to thoroughly read the assigned section to see if that's in there... and if not, I will definitely consider looking at other options as far as Diff. Eq. professors go.

That's about all; this is long enough as it is. Besides, I've got to be up for class at 08:00 again! All in all, it was a good day.

Random tangent: The left window in my room is stuck. Stuck slightly open. Facing Fifth Avenue. Ugh.


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14 August 2007


At this point, I am utterly restless.

But firstly, with regard to the zucchini sneaking I mentioned in my last post, it didn't happen. We simply didn't have enough to go around. Plus, a full-page article on the front page of the local newspaper's Food section robbed us of the stealth aspect. Oh, well. Next year, right after we watch the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics, we can try again.

Good; now that's out of the way.

My brother and both of my parents are at band camp for the GHS Marching Band overnight, leaving me alone in the house doing laundry, packing for college and my band camp, and wondering why the tax bill from the school district sitting next to me wasn't opened sooner (good thing it's not past due!). Sure, I could've been doing all of these things during the daytime, but that's not how I operate, you silly goose! I often catch a "second wind" around 01:00 or so, and I've been using that energy to actually be productive (and to blog just a tiny bit as well).

And I've gotten quite a lot done. Mind you, I have a heck of a lot more to go, but at least I'm getting there.

I mentioned earlier that I'm leaving for Pittsburgh second thing Thursday morning. I say "second thing" because of the follow-up appointment for my wisdom teeth in Erie at 08:00 on Thursday. The plan is that I'll be all ready by late Wednesday afternoon to pack up the van, then I'll head out to Alumni Night at the GHSMB band camp for the evening. First thing in the morning, we head out to Erie, I "open wide," and then we jump on the Interstate, getting to Pitt by noon, ready to move into my new place of residence. It's "Big Move #3" because #1 was moving to Pitt last year, and #2 was coming back home. Although I guess if you count the family moving to my current residence back in 1992, it would be #4. Nah.

Meanwhile, the freshmen will be at their mini-camp learning the ins and outs of Pitt Band. If my move-in goes quickly, I may stop by for the last few hours to help. Then it's a traditional "meet-'n-greet" dinner for the trumpets, where I'll get to meet all 15 freshmen, and try to learn their names as fast as possible. That's right: fifteen newbies. So as long as nothing happens, we'll have a grand total of 40 in our horn line, up significantly from 31 last year. I'm excited!

In fact, I'm restless.

One thing that hasn't been contributing to my restlessness, though, is my mouth. It seems that as far as the pain from my surgery has gone, someone finally flipped a switch Monday morning. I took a dose of ibuprofen before bed Sunday night and didn't have to take another until 21:00 Monday. I'm actually able to eat pretty much anything again, and even sneeze without hurting myself! You don't know how it feels knowing you aren't allowed to sneeze even though you need to until you've experienced it. It's hard. You need the relief, but those things are so fast everything could pop right out. So you half sneeze, half stifle, but you still feel weird afterwards.

Does anyone else share my pain? Probably not.

The point is that my recovery has gone splendidly. Another kid at my church, however, who went to a different surgeon the day after me, isn't doing so well. Apparently his bottom teeth were so difficult that they took 90 minutes to remove, and they gave up on the upper teeth until later. Nevertheless, oozing and bleeding and lots of pain are still in his life. I'm blessed that they're not in mine.

Now, I don't know if his complications had more to do with the actual teeth or the competency of the oral surgeon, but I feel that I need to give a shout-out (and pitifully minimal free advertising) to him who helped make sure that I wouldn't have to go through anything like that: Thank you, Dr. Alonge!

I think that's just about it. I also think my last load of laundry is done. I've got quite the day or two ahead of me; Pittsburgh is just 56 hours away.

And I'm so restless I just can't wait.

Random tangent: Happy 17th birthday to Alec, my friend from Music Camp. I don't know if he ever reads this, but whatever; it's the thought that counts.


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07 August 2007

VRD, or Not

I'm writing today because it's technically Visit Randomness Day, and it would be a shame if I didn't celebrate it. I know, I said I was going to scrap that holiday and come up with something different, but I didn't get around to it; maybe next year.

The thing is, because of all the emails I sent out last night to my family and friends regarding my recovery from my wisdom tooth surgery, I've had 40 visitors on Randomness today.

I'm still quite surprised at how well I've been doing. Today was the first time I could "legally" brush my teeth since the surgery, and despite my being afraid that I would "break" something, I was able to be careful enough that it didn't hurt at all. I only had to take two doses of ibuprofen today, too! I'm quite amazed!

Other than that, all is going well here. The plumber came and finished installing our sinks which finally arrived for the new bathroom. My brother actually started reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It's been raining a lot today, too. Oh, well. It looks like the weather will be pretty decent tomorrow night for zucchini sneaking!


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06 August 2007

A Few Grams Lighter...

...and much less wise. It's no big deal, though. I like to think it was mostly bad wisdom that they took out, anyway.

All that sleepy-making medicine wore off around 15:00 today, and I took some ibuprofen just after that... just before the numb-making medicine wore off.

Right now I've got this thing wrapped around my head which kind of reminds me of playing Caesar Rodney in 1776 back in 2004 (see left). The only main difference is that the one I'm wearing now has cold packs to make my mouth bleed less and to (very marginally) dull the pain.

I remember very little between about 09:00 and 12:00, but picked up little bits and pieces here and there. Good news came back regarding the health of one of the surgeon's family members, which was nice to hear because the original health issue took the surgeon away from his office in July and was the reason for my "tooth delay." I heard something about another appointment, just a check-up, which I've been told is going to be at 08:00 on Thursday 16 August, conveniently the day we were going to have me leave for college again.

But I don't feel like I should be going to college. I've determined that surgery makes you three. As in "three years old." So right now I'm a three-year-old with a blog, trapped in a 19-year-old's body. That sounds like it could be dangerous.

Daddy read some numbers from his "Drug Book" and told me how long the various drugs would last, and we think we figured out when everything happened pretty well, because pretty much everything has worn off by now. Actually, you'd think I'd be in heaps of pain right now (8 hours post-surgery), but I'm not. It's more like tiny anthills of pain.

Anyway, Daddy took good care of me, changing my gauze every so often and the like. Daddy also made me some chicken noodle soup and cooked zucchini bits that I could eat for lunch, even though it was 15:45 and it took me nearly an hour to finish my meal. Both Daddy and "big brother David" were helpful with getting me water, and they also went to the grocery store to buy some Tim-foods.

When Daddy was cooking my soup this afternoon, he was telling me about how the different parts of my mouth were reacting to "the trauma." And I said that, from a national perspective, it was like my mouth was the Cabinet and all my teeth were the Cabinet members, and some foreign entity just came in, picked a few, and "took 'em out." I must be pretty smart for a three-year-old.

Daddy also said that when I finish the second half of the noodle soup, I can have the alphabet soup he just bought. There's even Jell-O that's chilling in the refrigerator now! I'm so happy!

Switching gears a little bit, I had mounds of fun with the Cousin Club at the ninth annual Fun Week and at the family reunion. Seeing everyone was fun, but the point of this post is to tell all those people how I'm feeling since they all went home and can't just ask me. So there'll be more on that later.

They gave my teeth to Daddy in a little envelope/baggie thing, and I just weighed it on his little postal scale for weighing letters. The whole bag weighed just over three-eighths of an ounce, which, for you Metric-ators like me, is about 11 grams.

Now we just have to wait until my grades come in December to see how much wisdom I lost. ;)

Random tangent: My brother actually "laid low" most of the day without being asked. So that helped. He's playing video games now. That's about as random as I can get right now; I'm tired.

Photo credit: Daddy! Taken after our performance on Sunday 21 March 2004.


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01 August 2007

Camp Pictures

First, my apologies for not updating. At first, I was engrossed in the book, then I came to the realization that summer's almost over, so I have to wrap up my little pet projects... which, unfortunately meant at one point doing a complete coding overhaul to a website I was working on. Then I started playing with my new camera, and here we are, on this day I like to call "the first of août." I just think the name is so cute.

Finally, I've picked the camp pictures I'm going to show to you, for the most part. The main problem was that I don't have photo releases for the campers. The camp does, but not me. And I don't want to open that potential can of worms, so I'm going to leave the campers out of it for now.

But my campers were sooooo cute! So if you get the chance, ask and I'll show the other pictures to you. Or maybe I'll go around asking for the necessary permissions. But probably not, so you'll just have to imagine.

Anyway, I've uploaded 37 photos to Flickr. The photostream begins here. Enjoy.

Random tangent: Wisdom teeth out this coming Monday... eek! Just over two weeks until I pack up for Pittsburgh again. See you all then!

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21 July 2007

Two Purchases

A quick update on two things I've purchased in the last 36 hours:

1. A Canon PowerShot A570 IS digital camera. Cool. Now I'll be able to take my own pictures. Yay!

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (at Wal-Mart, well after midnight). I'm going to start reading it quite shortly. Don't spoil it for me!

While at Wal-Mart this evening, I also bought a few notebooks for school in the fall, but that's not so exciting.

I promise I'll get camp pictures (from my dad's camera) up shortly. Have patience, and give me a little time to get through the 362 pictures I took!

Random tangent: "Dollar" starts with "D," and yet it's symbol ($) looks like an "S." "Pound" starts with "P," and it's symbol (£) resembles an "L." At least the EU got things right by making the Euro symbol (€) look something like an "E"!


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07 July 2007

Lucky Sevens

I feel I had to mention this.

I was just watching some of the Today Show to catch up on headlines, and realized that their weekend hosts are going to quickly tire of saying the word "seven" over and over again. It's even worse than all of last year's superstitious people. Good thing 08/08/08 doesn't carry much significance above being a cool date.

On the one hand, it's a bummer I'm leaving on 07/07/07 for Music Camp, because then I don't get to celebrate in my own cool way. On the other (and probably more important) hand, I don't know that I could think of a better group of people with which to celebrate!

Happy 07/07/07!


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04 July 2007

O Canada!, Baptism, and Pictures!

I do not know why, but lately I've felt compelled to blog. Compelled to write my thoughts. Compelled to get on my virtual soapbox and speak to the world.

And yet... it's practically taken me forever to decide what to write about. What luck.

Fortunately for you, I've come up with stuff. Yay!

Way back on Memorial Day, I sang with the Girard Ecumenical Choir (which only performs once a year) at Girard's Memorial Day ceremony. As usual, we sang the hymn God of Our Fathers as well as the American and Canadian national anthems. The hymn was written out in four-part harmony, and we were all familiar enough with the Star-Spangled Banner that we could "fake" harmony there. O Canada!, however, was sung in unison straight off of the sheet we were given.

Now, I may not have the most musical ears in the world, but they're certainly trained enough to know that that just doesn't cut it. So a few days later, I started arranging O Canada! for four-part choir. I soon forgot about it, but then on the morning of Sunday 01 July (Canada Day) I realized that there would be no better day on which to finish the project. Working under that self-imposed deadline, I came up with the following composition, which was recorded on Monday and (heavily) edited on Tuesday. Enjoy.


O Canada!, arr. Timothy J. Parenti, 01 July 2007.
All rights reserved.

While I was working on this, I decided that I'll do the same for the Star-Spangled Banner on Wednesday 04 July (Independence Day). I may even do La Marseillaise on 14 July if I'm not exhausted from camp... which means I probably won't be doing it. Here's hoping that once I give my arrangements to the person in charge, they will be received with open arms and hopefully performed next May. Of course, if not, I'll just be proud that I arranged a couple of national anthems. And that's good enough for me.

I mentioned camp just then. While I've got my mind on it, I'd like to say that this will probably be my last post before camp, which starts on Sunday 08 July. Since I'm a counselor, though, I have to be there on Saturday 07 July (07/07/07). Camp continues through the evening of Friday 13 July, and I'll probably return some time the next morning.

I'm going to have to actually set up a voicemail message for my cell phone.

Backtracking a bit (but for a reason), it wasn't all that easy to arrange O Canada! on Sunday because that was also the day on which my great aunt Jana's daughter was baptized. It was a quaint little ceremony with five other babies and their families present.

Afterwards, it was time for a picnic! And since the father of the baptized is a chef by profession, no one went hungry. He cooked burgers, hot dogs, and chicken on the grill, had Italian sausage, lasagna, an array of salads, and quite a few desserts. Of course, there were also cookies and snacks ready as all this food was cooking, so by the time everything was ready, I wasn't really in the mood to eat it. But what I ate was really good, and what I didn't looked good, too.

One of the main "attractions" of the picnic was this elaborate fruit bouquet. Seriously. Whoa. One relative said that some of the chocolate-covered strawberries were "the size of small pears." They tasted amazing, too.

Obviously, this picture was taken with my cell phone, which is why it's not the best quality picture. Ever since about December, I've wanted a real digital camera of my own, but I haven't gotten around to it. I hope to get one in time for camp, but unfortunately, I can't promise myself that.

See, even though my father is usually off on Thursdays, and could take me into Erie to get a camera, he'll likely be too busy preparing our bathroom for the remodeling scheduled to take place, conveniently, while David and I are at camp. Mom's also off that day, but she doesn't really know that much about technology, and she admits it. But definitely in time for band camp. Because quite frankly, these cell phone pictures suck.

But that hasn't stopped me from taking over 700 pictures (of widely varying quality) since I got the phone in December. Here are some of my more recent ones:

Tuesday 01 May
The Ocean City Music Pier. Ignore the blatant spelling error.

Tuesday 01 May
Beach at Ocean City.

Saturday 05 May
Just part of the cookie room at the Italian wedding I attended. Amazing cookies, too.

Friday 11 May
An abstract look at my unpacking from college.

Wednesday 06 June
Feeding the fish with my mother in Linesville. The ducks weren't walking on them that day, though.

Friday 08 June
My grandparents and I toured a replica of Columbus' Niña while it was docked in Erie.

Friday 08 June
I'm slightly worried about the one who left this message on the band room chalkboard at graduation.

Saturday 16 June
At the Lake City Firemen's Carnival: Bingo?

Saturday 16 June
No bingo.

Saturday 23 June
Bathroom prepwork before the remodelers come.

Sunday 01 July
Cute and recently baptized baby.

Sunday 01 July
Amazing cookies. I was so full that mine took me an hour to eat.

Well, hopefully you enjoyed that. I know I sure did. Gosh, I've been treating you to all sorts of media today.

Also, at some point during the baptism on Sunday, my six-year-old cousin Danny, who was in the pew in front of my family, bolted out of his pew, ran into the aisle, and came into our pew. He squeezed past each member of my family until he plunked himself down between my father and I. Dad felt honored that Danny would decide to sit next to him... until he realized that Danny was clinging to me. And he did so all day.

Dad said to "be gracious," and I was, although I still hadn't been expecting such behavior. He started calling me "Uncle Tim," even though I'm his cousin, and sat on my lap on numerous occasions. He also tried calling me "Uncle Phil," but I drew the line there. It was quite adorable, even if it got really annoying when it was time for us to leave. Fortunately, six-year-olds are also easily distracted.

It's nice to be looked up to, I guess. All I know is that my arm hasn't been tugged so hard in quite some time.

See you after camp!

Random tangent 1: My family will be observing its standard Independence Day festivities once again. I mean, when you have a prominent relative who truly was "born on the fourth of July," the tradition kind of forms by default. I'm hoping for a little better weather, though.

Random tangent 2: By my count, there are 666 days until the Heinz Chapel Choir trip to China. Ironically on Independence Day. Good thing I'm not that superstitious, but still... that's freaky.


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21 June 2007

Tooth Delay

Whoa-my-gosh. There is simply so much to write about here. So much that I think I'm going to skip all the things I was "putting off" when I last posted. In fact, I may even skip most of what I was considering posting and chunk what's left into short little posts so that I can actually put something up.

I guess I'd better start.

Well, I'd mentioned that I was going to have my wisdom teeth removed on Tuesday 17 July. Well, after three weeks of thinking this, I was recently informed that apparently my oral surgeon will not be in the office that day. They offered an open slot on 10 July, but that's during Music Camp; we made it known that we picked the day we did for that reason.

So now they're booked straight through all of July. After that, it becomes less of a "what day is convenient?" situation and more of a "what's the soonest opening?" problem, because band camp starts on 17 August and I'd like to be mostly recovered by then. So now my appointment has been rescheduled for Monday 06 August at 10:00 ET. Oh, well.

This is not fun for me because it's right in the middle of the ninth annual Cousin Club Fun Week, and right after the family reunion on that side. So I'm going to be in pain and not able to be with my cousins for a good portion of the one week they'll be up. Grr.

Another disappointment is the fact that my father wanted to have this all taken care of before my orthodontist appointment on Thursday 26 July. Also, I was looking forward to recovering while reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, it seems as though I'll probably have already read it by the time I go in. Vicodin and magic was a combination I wanted to experience! Although, it probably wouldn't be so "intense" as other drugs, but I'll pass on those.

Finally, it's right before my other self-created holiday is scheduled to occur (Tuesday 07 August). Now last year, it was a shameless (and failed) attempt at self-promotion, but I decided soon after that that I would keep the date and change it into something completely different. Since it's coming up, I was just beginning to entertain the thought of a day of "liveblogging" when this came up. Now, it's a painful thought.

I might just do it anyway.

Random tangent: Summer started today at 14:06 ET, and at that moment I was in a hot conference room at my mom's work helping her do some data entry and formatting for a presentation of sorts. Gee, I'm so helpful, aren't I? While there, I heard no less than five times that I'm "the spitting image of my mother," or as my mother puts it, "the boy version." Well, at least we don't look dissimilar, or as mom said, I don't "look adopted." Gee, that's reassuring. ;)


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09 June 2007

Dream 5

Great. I kept putting off posts. Posts about my recent trip to Pittsburgh and daytrip to Linesville, baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2007, and International Spam Remembrance Day ©. We're in a transitional phase Internet-wise at this house, one that is hard to describe succinctly, but I couldn't get online easily to write about this stuff, telling myself, "Oh, I'll do it Saturday. Saturday will be better."

While all of that stuff remains somewhat important to me, and will hopefully be blogged about soon, it has all been preempted by this dream I had, one year to the night after my own high school graduation. The details of the things in the dream were quite realistic, even if they were fraught with inconsistencies and were often nothing like the actual version. Nevertheless, it felt very real, and as such, I don't want to have this dream again.

And so, it is with utmost regret (although not really), that I continue my dream series:

Dream 5: Tower of Terror, night of 08-09 June 2007

It was early on a partly-cloudy summer day in mid-July, 2007. I don't know why, but my family was in Pittsburgh. Well, my mother, my brother, and I were. Dad was elsewhere. For some reason, Laurel was with us.

We pulled off of one of the local highways, and there was a sizeable parking lot. We had to park near the road, farther away from the complex. On the other side of the road was nothing but trees. In retrospect, it was set up much like the Millcreek Mall back before they started building on the other side of the road.

The four of us gathered my stuff, and even though the highway wasn't busy, and our part of the parking lot was nearly empty, we proceeded to cross somewhat busy traffic as we got closer to the complex. Mom was familiar with this area, as was I. David stayed close to Mom (although, being David, not too close), and as Laurel lagged behind, carrying most of the baggage for whatever reason, I helped her get across safely.

We walked straight into a complex at street level. The inside was quite yellowish. There was an office immediately to the right, so we turned left with our luggage. After walking a distance we veered to the right a little bit, up a broad tile ramp marked "C." Yes, the office was Panther Central, and these were the Litchfield Towers, my home for the coming year. As it was July, though, we were just there to quickly check out my future room (which, by the way, would be impossible in real life).

We made our way to the Tower C lobby, and found the elevators, which were on the outer ring of the tower rather than the inner part. Actually, the tower switched from circular to rectangular a few times, but whatever.

There was an elevator waiting for us. It was one of those "express" ones. Cool. Mom and David got in and pushed the button, while I stayed back slightly, calling at an encumbered Laurel. Eventually the elevator started dinging, so we couldn't wait any longer for Laurel. I called out "six-two-zero" to her (interestingly not my real room number), so she could catch another elevator and find us easily. Lucky for her.

I quickly looked at the console in the yellowish elevator. Yes, 6 was selected, but so were 12, 15, and 18 (note that Tower C has 16 floors). I initially looked at David, but Mom ensured me that they had been that way when she and David first got in (which makes you wonder why the elevator was waiting for us). All the while, the elevator is dinging away, telling us it's about to go.

And then it just went. The door didn't close or anything, it just started moving up. The elevator dinged for 2, 3, 4... and we could see into every floor (though express elevators don't even have a door on those other floors). It also wasn't quite moving straight up and down, but rather at a slight diagonal. Even though the elevator floor was always level and parallel to the regular floors, it was as though the elevator shaft itself was diagonal, and we were somehow being pulled in that direction.

When we finally got to 6, the three of us were so taken aback by all of this that we didn't move. What if, while we started to get out, it decided to just start moving again, crushing someone in the process? After all, all those other buttons were pressed. We decided to wait until the twelfth floor to exit with a more coordinated, collective, and determined effort to get out of that elevator quickly. Then we'd catch another one back down.

After a pause, the elevator began to move up again, toward the twelfth floor. Somewhere in here, a door came into existence, and when the elevator finally got to 12, the door opened vertically from bottom to top, like some of those doors in Star Wars or Star Trek or some other space-age thing.

Another surprise. Again, we were frozen with shock, and after a while, the door closed, and we were moving up yet again (although really, we probably would've been so freaked out by this point that we'd have run screaming the first chance we got).

Even though earlier, there had been an "18" button, we arrived at the fifteenth floor, the last stop for the express elevator (at other points in the dream, the tower had up to 25 floors, and there were buttons to prove it). Again opens the freaky space-age door in a building with which we aren't yet familiar. Again we go with the totally awkward and irrational response of staying put. I guess our thought was, "Let's just take this elevator back down to safety at the ground level, alert the building management, and then catch one that isn't so... weird."

So I pushed the "L" button, and when the door closed, our freaky yellowish elevator started heading back down the shaft. I looked up at the little electronic sign that counted the floors. Fourteen, thirteen, twelve, .... Then I realized my mother was gone. That was unsettling, but at least we were headed to safety. Nine, eight, seven, .... "It's clicking away a bit faster, don't you think, David? .... David?"

Great. I was alone in this freaky elevator that was gaining speed down a diagonal shaft along the circumference of a circular tower... if you can imagine that, because my brain sure had a fun time doing it.

The elevator passed through the familiar "4, 3, 2, 1," then proceeded to the awkward "0," and then the unfamiliar "M, B, L, R, F, 39, W4, U, ..." I thought I was going mad, and all the while, the elevator was gaining speed. I looked at the console, and of course saw the inscription, "Elevator No. 13."

I was practically in a free-fall (although that's pretty hard in a diagonal shaft), and the electronic sign now housed an unfamiliar blur of letters and numbers. I knelt down to the emergency call box, which wasn't working. Neither was the stop button. My only hope was to push all of the regular buttons, and hope that the sign would eventually pick one of those numbers and stop, giving me enough time to get out... anywhere. It didn't matter where. Just so long as it was far, far away from this elevator.

I looked up at the console only to find two buttons: three and nine. The centripetal force from whirling diagonally around a circular tower was becoming sickeningly unbearable. I reached, with great difficulty, for the lone two buttons in desperation, and pushed them... then I sat back down, curled up into a corner, braced for impact, and prayed.

I awoke in that very fetal position, curled up in the corner of a yellowish elevator, stopped, door open (horizontally). All the buttons were there, and the sign read "6." Laurel beckoned from the hallway, "Come on; get out. We've been waiting for you. Don't you want to see your room?"

I collected my bag and walked out shaken, but not stirred. Immediately across from the elevator, the first thing I saw was a room which had my mother and brother in it. The number? 620. My room.

It was nothing like a Tower C room is in real life. It was about the size and setup of a standard hotel room with the bathroom on the left. The two beds were miniature, though, placed in front of a grand wardrobe with a mirror in the center. The chair and lamp often found by the window were a couch, and the TV stand and desk were an actual full-size bed. Everything was upholstered or covered with varying fabrics of abstract "jazzy" new-age patterns. The mini-beds were blue, the real bed was pastel yellow, pink, and green, and the couch was turquoise, purple, and red-orange.

The walls, of course, were yellowish. The bathroom was shared with the adjoining room, room 699; I wouldn't meet its tenant for another month or so. But this was going to be home, and I would get used to it. I'd just be taking the stairs.

* * *

So apparently, my dream-self daydreams quite a bit. And when he does so, he has a lot of nightmares "day"-mares. He must have slipped into daydream mode when he was heading up that ramp to Tower C, because apparently everyone got in the elevator okay.

I awoke from this dream at about 06:40 this morning, and was unable to get back to sleep until I wrote about it, effectively getting it out of my system. My mother has since told me that she dreamed about being stuck on a bus last night, and when I mentioned that she disappeared from the elevator in my dream, she posited that that was when she left for the bus in her dream. I wonder what David was dreaming then...

Here's hoping that later today I can actually post some of the things I was meaning to write about. And here's also hoping that that dream is never going to recur.

Random tangent: As I was finishing up writing this, all I could think of was "Darkness and the Elevator," even though everything in my dream was well-lit... albeit yellowishly lit. Maybe I should take over the writing of that, since my brain seems to have done a good job on its own.

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