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30 March 2007

A Short Note

Apologies once again for this not being a real post.

I went to see Bethel Park High School's production of Thoroughly Modern Millie on Thursday, and let me tell everyone that it was awesome! I saw Laurel and Andrea performing, and got to talk to them during intermission as well as after the show. I also saw Jay on stage, and yes, I recognized him, although sadly, I didn't get to meet him.

But congratulations to everyone involved! I'll definitely come back next year!

The real reason for this "short note," however, is to alert my readers to the genesis of yet another blog, this one belonging to my aunt Barb, Laurel's mother. It's called "At the Front of My Mind," and she intends to use it to tell everyone just what is at the front of her mind. Most recently, it's her new van, which I got to ride in for a very short time after the musical. And it is very nice. I wonder what happened to the grape-flavored lollipop in the old van that was acting as a pin to hold the one window shut... Comments addressing this are welcome, as I am concerned for the welfare of this probably two-year-old and probably now-disgusting lollipop that was once sacrificed by a poor child who was ready to eat it in order to fix the van.

I guess I'm posting that link for two reasons: (1) to be fair, since I posted the link to Grandpa's, and (2) because I like her as an aunt. Not that I don't like the others. They just don't have blogs... ;)

CHEM exam first thing in the morning, which I'm studying for now as I type (albeit intermittently, or how would I have posted this?). Later in the day, I'll be going home for the weekend to see my brother in Beauty and the Beast on Saturday night.

And I'll just say it now: during April, my blogging will be sporadic at best. I'm anticipating lots of crap to just hit me all at once. Some of it I already know is coming. But I know there'll be more. I just have that feeling.

Until then, enjoy the rest of March, and have a happy April!


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28 March 2007

Concert Announcement

I figured that since these are both public events, there'd be no harm in posting the following here. Plus it encourages people to actually visit this place I call my blog.

How convenient that my two major musical ensembles decided to schedule their spring concerts on the same day! Back-to-back! Less than a block away from one another!

University of Pittsburgh Symphonic Band Concert
Sunday, April 15, 2007, 1:00pm ET
Bellefield Hall Auditorium
315 South Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA

Heinz Chapel Choir Spring Concert
Sunday, April 15, 2007, 3:00pm ET
Heinz Memorial Chapel
Fifth and Bellefield Avenues, Pittsburgh, PA

Both events are free to the public; no tickets are required.

If any members of my family would like to meet up with me over a meal either before the band concert or after the choir concert, send me an email, and it can be arranged. Also, if you feel as though you'll be able to sit through one concert, but not both, then by all means, only go to one.

Any other questions? Post a comment here or email me, and I'll answer them. Thanks!

I'll have a real post somewhat soon.

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24 March 2007

Catching Up

I looked at the calendar recently and exclaimed, "Egads! has it really been that long?" And in fact, it has.

For one thing, when I last posted, it was winter, and we were on Standard Time. Both of these things have since advanced one step in their respective annual cycles. Grandpa and Grandma were also in the middle of their trip to Tanzania at that time.

Speaking of which, Grandpa kept a journal and took many pictures, and he's been turning it into a blog with a tiny bit of help from me, so that people don't have to sit through two-hour slideshows at family gatherings. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about... the ones where he talks excitedly about each of 400 pictures and you're half-asleep, hoping each time he gets to the end of a memory card that it was the last one. Yeah... I've watched you guys... ;)

Anyway, since my blog has some regular readership within our family, here's the link. It's not quite finished yet, but the point is that you can go crazy with it at your own pace, because it's online. It's better for everyone this way. And yes, he enabled comments, to encourage feedback from people who aren't going to be half-asleep when they're viewing the pictures. Like I said, go crazy.

That aside, the primary purpose of this post is to tell you that the TravelLog I intended to keep over my trips never happened, because I was too busy taking in places I'd never been before (in most cases). Which I guess is why I'm linking to Grandpa's blog, other than the fact that I promised him I'd link to it. So instead of one TravelLog, you get another.

Nevertheless, I shall attempt to summarize what has happened the last two weeks here, but with caution: The last time I tried summarizing more than one week at a time, I had to declare a holiday. Which by the way, is less than two months away. But we've got to get through Andrea Day first. Gosh, we're so lame...

So let me try to catch you all up. And no complaints about the length, because you haven't had anything for weeks.

I posted my last post at 03:32 on Saturday 03 March. We were on the road to Hartford, CT by 04:10. And for a 10-hour bus ride, the trip was actually quite pleasant. Now, it's easy to see that downtown Hartford is practically a banking and business Mecca. But the downtown area seemed to be unbelievably boring on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, which is when we had our free time. I'm sure it's booming from nine to five on the weekdays, though.

Even though this was ages ago, I'll mention that the women won their game against Cincinnati on Saturday 03 March, but unfortunately, since they lost to Marquette on Sunday 04 March, we left Connecticut almost immediately and were back in Pittsburgh by 10:15 on Monday 05 March, the first weekday of Spring Break. So we really didn't get to enjoy the town, and since I'm not yet 21, I had one less option then nearly everyone else. It's okay, though.

But there were some problems along the Hartford trip. On the way there, I was able to catch a few "Z"s from about 05:00 to about 06:30. By the time I woke up, we were in the 717 area code, and a quick glance at my cell phone showed that I had no service, despite having a nationwide plan. Great. So once I got to Hartford, I called my father and he did some research for me on things that would likely fix my phone.

So, yeah, I said I was back in Pittsburgh by 10:15 Monday 05 March. The plan was that I would spend most of the day on Monday in Pittsburgh, enjoying some probably much-needed alone time, before my father would pick me up in the early evening after finishing work so that I could enjoy a few days at home. So I got a phone call around 16:45 from Dad, saying that he was leaving, but not 45 minutes later, I got another phone call.

His van had died. Just suddenly, with very little warning, it quit working. So there were delays as he called AAA to get the van towed and called my mother to bring the other car down so that the journey could be continued. Ultimately, I got home at around 00:00 Tuesday 06 March.

My short time at home was rather uneventful. I got a haircut while I was there, and while going around town doing errands with my mother, I ended up seeing a few minutes of my high school's play practice for Beauty and the Beast. Other than that, like I said, it was quite uneventful. Although I do know that at some point, there was seemingly random discussion about the Discover Card commercials with the scissors in them. Some find them creepy. Others don't. My mother is definitely in the first category. I have mixed feelings.

Then the night of Wednesday 07 March, it was back to Pittsburgh so that I could leave once again at 04:00 for New York City and the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament. And unless you were living under a rock, or (gasp!) don't care about Pitt basketball, then you should know that Pitt made it to the final round before losing pitifully to the Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday 10 March... a G-Town I don't like, due in part to the fact that it really isn't a "G" town.

Over the course of the trip, I went to Brooklyn late one night with a group of friends in search of yummy deserts, only to become disoriented and finally arrive at our destination after they had closed. So I'm out the cost of two subway fares. Big whoop. It was an experience, and that's all that matters.

Also, since that week both our women's and men's teams played Marquette University, we heard their fight song a lot. And we couldn't help but think that the song sounded familiar. And then, someone realized that its tune was ridiculously similar to the "song that gets on everybody's nerves," you know:

I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves,
Everybody's nerves, everybody's nerves.
I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves,
And this is how it goes: (repeat entire song ad infinitum)
So yeah. It gets pretty annoying. We ended up singing along, replacing the last line of this song with "And it's Marquette's fight song," poking fun at the song itself. It was quite amusing.

However, some quick Internet research resulted in another startling development. The song is called "Ring Out Ahoya," and it has fairly lame and repetitive words, in my humble opinion. But wait a minute... what is that? The word "hoya" hidden in there? Well, Wikipedia cites a theory that "the call of 'Ahoya' was often made by sailors on the Potomac river while passing Georgetown University in Washington, DC," and that the cheer "made its way to Marquette through faculty moving between the two Jesuit schools." Great. That explains us not really being fond of either team.

Meanwhile, my phone still wasn't working when we arrived in NYC the morning of Thursday 08 March. But since our rooms weren't ready when we got to the hotel, we had some downtime hanging out in one of the many ballroom-type areas. So I borrowed another friend's phone, and made several phone calls. I called my father, then I dialed some stuff on my phone (which didn't work), then I called customer service on my friend's phone, and after about 20 minutes with them, my phone was finally fixed. Turns out it had been a combination of an incorrect setting on the network end and an incorrect default setting on my phone (which they had never said to change).

But the point is, it's fixed now. Which turned out to be useful, since I'd often have to leave one group of friends to meet up with another a few blocks away... such as when my lunchmates decided to go to a brewery in Brooklyn after lunch. Yes, these are the same people who went to Brooklyn for desserts. Yes, they got lost again. But this time, they ended up going to the dessert place instead of the brewery. Because it was mid-afternoon, and they knew where it was this time.

After the time change (which I will rant about in a later post), we left New York at 09:00 on Sunday 11 March, arriving in Pittsburgh before 17:00. Then it was a busy, busy week, with the service learning project picking up speed, but more importantly, jumping straight into one of my killer Mondays with a lab report due just like any other week. Except I couldn't concentrate very well on it. So that's not been fun.

The busy, busy week culminated with a PHYS exam on Thursday 15 March. But since the class is two hours long, our professor proceeded to lecture after we had all finished the exam. And she got to a good stopping point at about 12:43. So rather than let us out two minutes early, she moved on. And at 12:45 she wasn't done. By 12:46 she was practically pleading with the students to stay and listen to her finish, which she finally did at about 12:47.

Ordinarily, this would not be a blogworthy occurrence. However, it is in this case, because the pep band was scheduled to leave for Buffalo, NY at 13:00. I had told the director ahead of time that I had an exam/lecture until 12:45, and he basically said that we weren't obligated to leave at exactly 13:00, so it would be fine so long as I didn't dilly-dally. And I didn't. That didn't stop some people from poking fun at me when I finally got to the bus at 13:05.

Buffalo was fun. About as fun as staying in a hotel on a snowy day playing cards and watching basketball can be. Because that's about all we did on Friday, although we might have actually gone out had our hotel actually been in the city. After Thursday's win against Wright State, people celebrated at the hotel, and then we went to bed. We woke up around 12:15, which conveniently was when basketball started. I watched people play rummy, and so learned how to do so myself, which was useful when the person in last place decided to quit because it was too painful to keep playing hands to 500. So someone not much better at rummy (i.e., me) took over for the rest of the game, so that the other three could play. And it was sort of fun. I won a hand or two, but got negative points on a few others. Whatever.

When the evening news came on, we all took naps, and woke up in time for more basketball. Meanwhile, it had started snowing fairly hard outside. Around 20:00 we decided that we had better eat something, at which point we realized that there was a Houlihan's restaurant in our hotel. I had never heard of Houlihan's before, even though apparently there are three in Pittsburgh. I didn't even know how to spell it before this point. But the point is that now I am aware of its existence, and have eaten there. The food is great, but a tad pricey, although since I'm under 21, I could afford it, as I wasn't spending my daily stipends on varied beverages.

After dinner, we finished watching basketball, and at around 00:00 (the beginning of St. Patrick's Day), there was a sudden influx of students into our room. Soon, there were 15 students of varying drunkenness there. Fortunately, I'd brought my computer and there was free wireless Internet in the lobby. So I hung out there for a few hours. Not that I have anything against drunk kids. It's just that 15 or so was too many for one hotel room. When I came back, there were only 6, each of which had calmed down considerably. Three of them were my roommates, so they belonged there, while the other three were getting ready to leave anyway. I timed that well.

Saturday 17 March was the day of the second game, against Virginia Commonwealth, the end of whose upset over Duke we had seen live on Thursday. We had to check out of the hotel at 12:00, but our game wasn't until 17:50. So what to do in the meantime? As we had done on Thursday, we made our way into town to a little bar/grill, which had been designated the proper pregame party place for Pitt people (I love alliteration!). And we took out our horns and played some school songs for them in exchange for a free buffet. I'd say it was a fair trade, considering the place was super-crowded and we still had to do horn swings.

After lunch, we got to the HSBC Arena, where we watched the game before us (Butler v. Maryland) in its entirety. I bought a shirt at halftime of that game. And that's about it. Pitt took an early 13-point lead, which was completely thrown away shortly thereafter, after which we proceeded to go up by another 13 points by halftime, which was thrown away much more slowly over the course of the second half... but still enough that the game went into overtime. We eventually won.

Since we'd already checked out, the bus was already packed except for our instruments which took about five minutes, and we were on the road shortly after 21:00. Having had a late all-you-can-eat lunch, and having not had a chance to eat dinner, we stopped at the Burger King on Peach Street in Summit Township (Erie) around 22:30. People wanted to go across the street to get wings at Quaker Steak, but Jack advised against it since it was Saturday night and St. Patrick's Day.

We get back in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday 18 March. Which was followed by the main part of Sunday. Which meant Monday was coming. Again. And being fresh off another trip, I couldn't concentrate on my work. Again.

Those members of the band who were going to San Jose, CA for the Third Round game against UCLA had to leave at some point on Tuesday 20 March, but I was not among them, because all of my projects are coming together in the next couple weeks, and it just would've been bad. In case you didn't know, by the way, Pitt lost.

It was another busy, busy week for me, so I decided to "crash" on Thursday 22 March to watch the game with a friend. Afterwards we got to talking, and we decided that we wanted to try having a relationship with each other. Her name is Emily; I think you've heard of her. And just so people don't get worried, we have discussed some things, acknowledging that we are very different people, that we will have differences in opinion on matters, and that we are willing to do what we can to work them out. And yes, I'm a careful person. And no, I won't let anything influence me in a negative way.

Somewhere else during the course of this week I took a MATH exam, which I haven't gotten back yet. I also registered for my fall classes, so you'll see that schedule in August. And now it's time to work once again on my CHEM lab report for Monday... ugh! I also have a CHEM exam on Friday 30 March, right before I go home for the weekend to see David in Beauty and the Beast. I think I mentioned they were doing that...

Which reminds me that I am in fact going to Bethel Park to see their play on the evening of Thursday 29 March. And I don't know exactly what I'm doing for Easter. So this is a call to all cousins (and their respective parental entities) to post any relevant Easter travel plans on the Cousin Club blog, so that people know what's going on. And on the off-chance that you may be able to transport me to or from Girard or Grove City on a given day, please email me.

Oh, and there was an anti-war protest march here on campus today. It ended up disrupting Pitt's shuttle service for several hours in the middle of the day. Not exactly the best way to get the support of Pitt students, but hey, they got attention and raised awareness.

So I think that gets everybody caught up on just about everything that's going on down here. Except maybe that right before Spring Break my last pencil ran out of lead, forcing me to buy a five-pack at the Book Center for $3.19 when I'd been planning on buying pencils at home over break. Yeah, that made me not happy. Especially since I didn't have any cash on me and had to use my bank card to buy pencils. So lame.

And that is all.

Random tangent: Oh gosh. What to put? I picked a basketball bracket for the first time ever and got 23 of the 32 First Round games correct. Granted, it's gotten worse since then, but for my first bracket ever, I'm not complaining.


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03 March 2007

Basketball Tournaments

Just a little note to say that I'll be leaving for Hartford, CT and the Big East Women's Basketball Tournament (presented by Aéropostale) in the next half hour. Yes, that's right. We're leaving at 04:00 in the morning. I haven't slept today yet. Sleep can wait for the bus.

Currently, I'm just finishing up packing, but I'm taking this little break to let you know that I intend to reinstate my TravelLog series for this trip and the trip to New York City later in the week. And I'll try to do a better job this time.

I am taking my computer, so you might get some quick blurbs throughout the week if the hotel has Internet access, but right now I have no clue. We shall see...

Until then, to all my Pitt friends: Have a wonderful Spring Break!


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01 March 2007

220 Years

Yep, that's right. February marked the 220th anniversary of the founding of the University of Pittsburgh. And to celebrate, big news that made the front pages of both The Pitt News and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: the Cathedral of Learning is getting a much-needed bath starting in March. I mean look at it.

The Post-Gazette even set a slideshow to music on their website... music I'm proud to have been a part of making. Although you can tell that they cut and spliced the music to no end, looping through about three times to get it the right length, the Theme from Planet Krypton (arr. Dr. Mel Orange) is clearly being played in the background, by none other than the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band. That was a kind of interesting surprise when I went to view it.

But enough about the University; it's been a busy month for me, too.

First of all, as I mentioned in my last post, Mondays have been bad this term, and this one was no exception. I got back the two lab reports for CHEM. One was good, one not so much. And very little explanation as to why points were taken off. Not to mention that that was followed by a very tedious titration experiment that ran long.

Also Monday night, in MATH, we were talking about multi-variable integration by Fubini's Theorem. It doesn't matter what that is, but if you're really interested, that's why I provided the link... to scare you. Anyway, the point is it provides two routes for solving certain types of problems. Our professor said sometimes one is easy and one is hard, sometimes they're both easy, and sometimes they're both hard, but you only need to follow one route to get the answer.

He then pointed to the example on the board and asked the class which route he should take. A smart student recognized the easier one on sight. The professor then said that that was good, but that he was going to intentionally go against that judgement to show what we could get into. He went through many steps, evaluating the first integral and getting something even more complicated. Faced with the task of integrating that mess again, he drew a big arrow and wrote the words "Give up" on the board. He actually wrote it. I never thought I would see that happen in a math class.

But the point is, the problem was much more easily solved via the other route. So it wasn't so much giving up completely as giving up on that option.

Continuing academic news, back on Friday 23 February (Craig's birthday) the first of two 7- to 10-page papers for my PS course was due. That was a fun time. But I did finish it. I did turn it in. I will get a grade. I am hoping it's a decent one, considering that it'll be a third of my final grade for the course.

Since I feel like going backwards today, I'll continue going in that direction. On Thursday in our service learning class, we got something we'd really wanted for a while. It was decided that rather than "wasting" 75 minutes twice a week having non-productive meetings, it would be better if one of those days each week was actually spent on the project. So we don't have to go to class on Tuesdays anymore, and it automatically frees up a time slot each week that is compatible with everyone's schedules so that we can actually get some work done. This has eased almost all of my frustrations with the project.

Hmmm. What else?

Laurel is in Mississippi, and that sort of makes me sad. Who ever shall I talk to? But then again, she's out doing good in the world, so I guess I can make the sacrifice. She'll be back.

But I'll be gone by then. Over spring break, I'll be going to both the women's and men's Big East basketball tournaments to be held in Hartford, CT and New York City, NY, respectively. And so, depending who wins and/or loses and when, I might be home for two or three days in between the tournaments, and I might not be home at all.

I have some work to do over the break, so I hope to use at least parts of long bus rides to accomplish that. Considering that I hardly ever watch movies, though, I know someone'll put something in that I won't be able to tune out. But along the same lines, they will be some pretty long bus rides.

So how about this kid named Jay hasn't posted a comment to my blog in a very long time. Granted, on 01 January 2007, there were comments posted from his account, but those don't count because it was really Andrea. So I checked, and you have to go back to 22 July 2006. And even then, the comment was a response to Andrea's earlier comment. Rewind a little further, and we see a comment posted on 06 July 2006... in response to my last petition to get him commenting again.


Go back to 19 June 2006 to find a genuine unprompted comment. My post on graduation. That was soooooo long ago! If you're not going to read anymore, I understand; you're busy. But don't just disappear like that. Say your proper goodbyes and be on your way. Although I hope it doesn't come to that, because I keep hearing we have a lot in common.

Feb'y has passed without much incident, for which I'm thankful. Although it's been stressful. And it hasn't been without its emotional moments. But all is well, I think. At least for now. We'll see what March brings.

A couple weeks ago, I saw an Internet advertisement for a movie. And I had to click on it. I just had to.

You all know I'm a math nerd. And you ought to know that I like the number 23. Well, appropriately enough, on 23 February (once again, coincidentally Craig's birthday), a movie came out: The Number 23 (R), starring, of all people, Jim Carrey.

I was heartbroken to hear that it got such poor reviews. The Boston Globe likened it to "spending more than 90 minutes watching somebody else complete a Sudoku puzzle," and the Chicago Tribune called it "ridiculous and dull." got straight to the point and said that "[t]here are at least 23 ways in which The Number 23 sucks," that "there's not nearly enough weed on this planet for its supposedly deep observations to blow your mind," and that "[w]atching 95 minutes of 23 trivia would actually be more entertaining than the film itself."


Nevertheless, Yahoo! says the film has already raked in $14.6 million. Sad to say, it's not quite 23. Yet. On average, Yahoo!'s users seem to like the film slightly better than the critics did.

I don't know if I'll go see it. It sounds like a renter to me. Although, then again, didn't I already mention something about not really watching movies? But it certainly piqued my interest. I don't know how many people I know have asked me about this movie, or "brought it to my attention." So just so you all know, I found it first, without any of your help. Even independently of the email that my grandfather sent me. But I thank you all nonetheless.

Which reminds me, not only is Laurel in Mississippi, but my grandparents are in Africa on vacation! So that's cool.

Boy, did I get interrupted a lot while writing this. It took me forever. I mean, I started this post last month... haha! And I've still got to update the template of the Cousin Club blog because it's March now. It's a good thing the ends of my weeks are awesome. Because now I can coast right into break. Except I'll be travelling. And I'll have to leave at 03:45 Saturday morning. But it'll be a welcome break regardless.

Random tangent: I'm really getting the hang of this random, sort of off-the-cuff blogging thing. Or maybe I just haven't been coherent at all since I came back to school. I don't know.

Photo credit: Darrell Sapp, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


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