Real post coming soon - Read more »

25 April 2007

Bomb Threat

Just so that everyone is aware and not worried, there has been a bomb threat at Sutherland Hall. All residents, including me, were evacuated at approximately 14:00.

I didn't get to see that much of what was going on, but it appeared that they had bomb-sniffing dogs ready and all that stuff. Who knows when we'll be allowed back in?

For the time being, I've made my way down to lower campus to write this. The stark contrast between relative panic on upper campus and relative peace on lower campus is amazing, and mildly amusing. Nobody's totally free of stress because it's finals week, but people and their parents are moving out with laundry carts and all that down here, completely oblivious to the goings on up the hill. Although it's probably better that way.

I'm not particularly worried, but in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, no one can be too cautious. It's just that I still have to call that building home for the next five nights. Ugh.

This is not the kind of "bang" we were looking for. As if the stresses of finals weren't enough.


Post a Comment

22 April 2007

Term 2074 Finals and More

My last finals week post was quite strictly about finals, but I guess the weeks leading up to finals weren't all that bad in comparison to what I dealt with this time around. So I didn't have that much to write about then, but I do now. But first, the necessary schedule and disclaimer: It's time for me to go back into my little shell... again. And this is why:

Nothing on Monday, which is nice compared with the killer ones I've had all semester. I'm not too thrilled, however, about the MATH/CHEM combo Wednesday night and early Thursday (yes, noon is early). PHYS on Tuesday should by far be the easiest. Also, you'll notice the little thing in the corner under Friday; that's a 7-10 page paper for PS that's due at 12:00. It's just that since it's not an exam, it doesn't have a definite time span, you know? The prompt:

Some studies of presidential influence with Congress... claim that presidential success or failure depends on personal ability or lack thereof. Other examinations... emphasize the role of factors in the political and institutional environment, factors over which the president has little or no control. Using your thorough command of the course materials, indicate your position on this controversy....

I'm pretty sure my position is going to end up being that both are important, although maybe not equally so. We have a list of 11 different realms of political "interaction" to consider while writing the paper, and we're supposed to integrate them to come up with our response. I don't think it should be all that bad; I just have to take extra special care to set aside time amidst all the studying for CHEM, which is really having me a bit worried.

So after 12:00 on Friday 27 April, I'll be done. But beyond that, I have to stick around in Pittsburgh to play for commencement on Sunday 29 April. Then the morning of Monday 30 April, the symphonic band will be leaving for a short two-gig tour in New Jersey. I'll return to Pittsburgh the afternoon of Wednesday 02 May, and depending on exactly when we get back, I'll be at home either later that day or the next.

Now I told you in my last post that I had the feeling I'd forgotten something important. Well guess what? I did. A few of you already know this, but our band director, Jack Anderson, was honored by the National Council of ΚΚΨ at the concert last weekend with the Distinguished Service to Music Medal in the Marching Band category, a very high honor indeed. And he totally deserves it.

My Aunt Barb was also recognized last weekend by the ΚΔ sorority for which she's been a long-time advisor. This one I sort of knew about, and I'm sure she's very deserving of this honor as well, though I don't have a personal basis on which to judge her positive influence on sorority life. Sorry, Barb.

And then on top of all these people being honored, I found an article today for all of my relatives who are Pitt band alumni about the owners of Camp Kon-O-Kwee. So there.

Just so you guys know, I don't have any definite summer plans. I hope to find some sort of a reasonable job within a reasonable distance of home that pays reasonably well. On the side, I'll be continuing work on redoing my high school band's website, as practices for their 2007 season have already started! Wow. Since I won't be busy with schoolwork, I'll have a bit more energy to devote to insane coding... or at least, that's the idea.

A couple weeks ago, I fixed a major problem I'd had with the sidebar feature of the new site for over two months. I just had a "Eureka!" moment, flipped two lines of code, and voilà!, it was working. It turns out that databases have to be opened before you can reference their contents. Corey will stay in Pittsburgh for the summer, so he'll have to keep me straight via email and instant messenger.

The only other thing I can think of is that I'm applying to be a counselor at Music Camp, which would keep me busy from 07-14 July. But that's about it.

So now I think I've covered everything. If not, it'll have to wait until Saturday, or perhaps a quick blurb in the comments section. Until then, have a great week everyone!

Random tangent: The weather this weekend has been phenomenal. Right now, it's warmer outside than it is in my room, and that hasn't happened it quite a while. Hopefully I get a chance to enjoy it some more today!


Post a Comment

20 April 2007

Out with a Bang

For those who didn't already know, today was the last day of classes here at Pitt.

As is custom in Dr. Siska's CHEM courses, he wraps up a little early on the last day in order to make something go boom. And so he did, but it took a while. The setup was liquid nitrogen in a capped 2-liter pop bottle standing in a shallow dish of water, all underneath an inverted garbage can, which can be seen behind the podium. After waiting a good minute or two, during which Dr. Siska made some general "wrapping-up" comments and wished us well on our finals, the moment finally arrived.

My classmate, Will, was only able to take 20-second videos with his cell phone, but fortunately the ultimate explosion was framed quite nicely by one in the series of several videos he took during those few minutes in the hopes that he would end up with a nice recording. I would, however, recommend turning the sound on your computer down the first time you watch this; you wouldn't want to blow out your speakers... or your ears. Then you can adjust it until you've felt as though you've gotten the "full effect." But you really had to be there.

Dr. Siska's words explaining why the explosion was taking a long time are a bit hard to hear in the video, so this is what he said (or at least something very close):

The makers of these pop bottles are very careful. That is, they make them very... very able to withstand very high pressures. Best of luck, everybody; I'll see you next week.

While setting this up, he also mentioned that "this falls into the category of 'do not try this at home,' ... or in your dorm." So I'm just passing along the warning for my less intelligent readers... that is, if I have any.

Last term he lit hydrogen-filled balloons with little bits of various metals on the tips in order to make custom fireworks of various colors. He's a fun guy, Dr. Siska is.

As for the rest of how things have been going, I'm finally at the other end of the massive 16-day tunnel that has been... the last 16 days (duh!). Even though finals are coming up next week (a quick post about that tomorrow), I told myself this afternoon that I'm not doing anything academic until 12:00 Saturday. And even if it only is for half a day, it's kind of nice.

What's been keeping me so busy? For starters, the DRS service learning project has taken up a lot of our group's time these last few weeks. First, on 05 April, we got an email from the writing center assigning our conference paper for the class (which we had repeatedly been told we were not going to have to write). It basically said, "It's due in a week [12 April], make sure to have all of your team members contribute, and oh, by the way, happy Easter." We really felt loved. We couldn't meet on our usual Friday and Sunday that weekend because of the holiday, so we met on Monday 09 April and Tuesday 10 April to wrap up our project and get ideas together for this paper, gearing up to present it at the Freshman Conference on Saturday 14 April. We'd worry about the client presentation on 17 April later.

Then, just as I'm about to leave for our meeting scheduled on Wednesday 11 April, I get another email from our professor, which among other things, said:

This year's timing of the Freshman Conference has been difficult in relation to the final client presentations for our class. ... [T]he quality of the final report and presentation is of highest priority. ... Your conference presentation can be a dry run for your client presentations so you can get my feedback before Tuesday [17 April]. ... With respect to the final conference paper, ... [the] deadline [is] extended until the last day of classes on Friday, April 20th. Thus you can focus you current efforts towards your final client report and presentation.

This email was sent only 25 hours before the paper was originally due. And it was completely reversing everything in the original assignment, effectively saying "don't focus on what you've been focusing on; do this instead for Saturday."

Angry as we had been right after we received this email, we coped and got through it all, little by little. The email also gave us permission to use both of the conference sessions in which we weren't presenting as group time to work on the rest of the project. So we presented our "conference presentation," which was actually a toned-down version of a client presentation, at 12:00 on Saturday, ate lunch, and then got straight to work on the actual client presentation for Tuesday. It was sad, but it needed to happen.

Because of the recently cloudy and gloomy weather, we didn't get all of the pictures needed for the online interactive accessibility map either. So those are going to be finished this weekend. Fortunately, our clients were so thrilled with what we designed that they were fine with giving us the extra week on the deliverables. Actually, the site won't go up until the summer anyway.

All in all, in the twelve-day period from 09-20 April, we met as a group at least once on every day except Sunday 15 April, which the others used as a homework day, while I performed two back-to-back concerts followed by dinner with the family. So this is why I haven't been blogging; I'm lucky I got my response to the Virginia Tech incident out when I did.

On top of this, I had the normal CHEM lab reports due on the killer Mondays, and a PHYS exam on 12 April, although why one would schedule an exam just a week and a half before finals makes no sense to me. I also had a few off-campus concerts with the Heinz Chapel Choir, one at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind on 10 April, and one in Oakmont on 14 April.

Speaking of the Heinz Chapel Choir, we had our officer elections for the 2007-08 Academic Year on Tuesday. And for an ensemble of 51 voices, you'd think that there wouldn't be that many officers. Apparently, the choir has an unspoken tradition of turning every conceivable job into its own officer position. Elections took an hour and a half on 11 different positions. And since people couldn't ever agree on anything, or in some cases just to follow tradition, it was decided that many of the offices would be filled by two people.

An example of where both barriers came into play was the much-coveted "social chair" slot. Apparently it's been run by two people for a while. This time, there were eight nominees, but a few pairs of nominees who were going to be living together next year wanted to run on a "ticket" with each other. It was decided that they could make such wishes known, but that ultimately people would vote for them as individuals. And of course, two people from two different tickets won, so as consolation, their "running-mates" were by consensus given "assistant social chair" status, since if they're sharing the house, they'll have to be in on the decision-making. So that's four right there.

In the end, we have 18 elected officers and co-officers for this ensemble of 51: a president, a vice president, a secretary, 2 co-historians, 2 co-librarians (of the music), a business manager, a personnel manager, a wardrobe mistress, 2 co-webmasters, 2 co-social chairs (and their 2 assistants), and then a new position that apparently was being resurrected after falling by the wayside in past years: 2 co-stage managers. It's ridiculous. But it made the odds of being elected that much greater. And if the appointments weren't controversial, the general consensus was to just "co-" you with the other person running. Which is how I came to be co-webmaster for next year. So there. Enjoy.

I have the feeling that I've been rambling, but I also have the feeling that I've forgotten something crucially important. But then again, maybe not. I've been used to having a lot on my plate, and now that most of it is wrapped up or wrapping up, it's a bit of a relief. But it'll be back to the books tomorrow!

Random tangent: I think I'll be alternating studying with room cleaning and packing for the next several days. Because both of them are really important right now.

Video credit: William Burroughs


Post a Comment

18 April 2007

In Response to the Tragedy

Tragedy. That's about all you can call it.

We were just starting a "last day of CHEM lab" party at around 13:00 Monday when we heard the news, interestingly from our TA whom we were celebrating. We observed a moment of silence and said all that we could say at the time, knowing little then about what had transpired: We were glad we weren't there.

Quickly, though, the full magnitude of the events that occurred in Blacksburg, VA that day was realized, and our world got a little bit smaller as people came together to show their support and prayers for those grieving. Emulating Joseph Giordano, who just before operating on a wounded President Reagan reassuringly said that "today, we are all Republicans," the thought has spread through the wonders of the Internet that for this period of mourning, we are all Hokies. Banners looking just like the one shown here have popped up all over, pairing the black ribbon and the Virginia Tech logo with logos from countless colleges, as well as the phrase that, by shrinking our world, will help so many people through these tough times.

Pitt's Chancellor, Mark Nordenberg, sent a message Tuesday to members of Pitt's community. An excerpt:

Under any circumstances, ... a substantial loss of life would trigger feelings of disbelief and deep sorrow. [Monday's] events, though, have brought an even more intense form of pain to many of us, as they have to others. After all, most of those killed were young people actively engaged in the process of building the foundation for lives, ... and [these lives] were taken in the middle of a campus, a place that should reflect the best of human nature and not its worst.
Some have called it a massacre, and perhaps Monday's events are indeed deserving of that title. But the bottom line is that 32 innocent lives were taken that fateful morning, dozens of others injured without reason, and thousands or even millions have been affected in other ways. It's more of a tragedy than anything else, if you ask me.

A website has been set up in memoriam of Monday's tragedy. Please take the time to sign the online memorial, and reflect upon what others have written. During these next few weeks of healing, the families and friends of all the victims, as well as the entire Virginia Tech community need to especially be in our prayers.

More information about my own life coming soon, as finals week approaches...

1 comment:

Post a Comment

04 April 2007

Dream 4

For the third time, I will get back to posting about my life shortly. And I mean it this time.

However, I've been putting off this continuation of the dream series for quite some time now. Much of this post has been sitting on Blogger's servers as a draft for nearly two months. It barely counts as a dream worth blogging about, but it will ultimately serve to explain something about me that tends to bug people (and frankly, I don't see why).

Dream 4: Why twenty-four?, evening of 05 February 2007

It had been a very tiring Monday, so I lay down to relax for a while. And then, somewhere, in that state between wakefulness and slumber...

It was my PHYS class. Apparently, we were all on a field trip with my professor, climbing the mountains of India. Which I guess means we were in northern India, seeing that most of it isn't all that mountainous.

And so there we were, a large bunch of us, hanging from a rope, walking up this mountain thing. Since I was only half-asleep, everything seemed extremely exaggerated, almost cartoon-like. So of course, for whatever reason, we can no longer go up the mountain via this rope.

Obviously it didn't break, or we would've fallen. Maybe we felt the rope give a little bit? I don't know. Whatever it was, that's not the point.

Even though our course material is on electricity and magnetism, our professor proceeded to go into Physics I teaching mode. She started talking about why there's too much tension in the rope and how to calculate the speed with which we would hit the ground should we let go or should the rope give completely. Remember, I'm having this dream in February, back when I didn't care for this professor at all, so after a while, there was a general uproar from the handful of students behind her, basically imploring her to quit lecturing and help us get out of this mess. And she did, all while continuing to help us conceptually grasp why we were to do as we were told.

"If you cry, the tears going down your face will lower your center of mass!"

"Stop wriggling; you're causing too much torque!"

And so on. It was quite annoying.

Somehow, we were able to finally reach the top of the mountain (which apparently wasn't all that far away)...

...Then I woke up. I rolled over and looked at my clock; it said 11:15. Crap. My PHYS lecture starts at 11:00 on Tuesdays. I panic slightly, get dressed, and gather my belongings in about 45 seconds flat. Then as I was heading out the door, I noticed something peculiar.

It was dark outside. It was actually 23:15, still Monday night.

And this is why I prefer using a 24-hour time system.

Random tangent: In case you haven't heard, Pitt has no Easter break. I know, it sucks, but I went home last weekend and celebrated slightly with my family (by playing Yahtzee with my parents). Besides, I already have my Easter candy down here. And on top of that, I've been loving the recent weather. Everyone looks so happy! Spring is here at last! Or at least it was before the slight flurries we had this evening. But still, it's been nice seeing people lazing about on the lawns in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial or behind the Petersen Events Center, and just generally having smiles plastered on their faces. It's quite refreshing, at least emotionally if nothing else.


Post a Comment