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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.


Lexi Elizabeth said...

omg i can't believe i just spent like my whole life reading that. haha. i would've been fine with a slightly smaller update, but i guess that was pretty okay. I promise i'll update as soon as i get a day off, which might not be for another like two or three weeks, if ever. Our football team is doing well, 4-1. So cheer for bethel once pitt fails forgood. :D well, cheer for bethel now :-P i'm glad your classes are going well. i'm also glad i never plan on doing marching band in college. i would probably die because of all the work it entails.

Barbara said...

OOO, you are so lucky to get a mystery flavor. What did it taste like? I always think when I see one if it will be like Berty-Botts and be an awful flavor.

I'm glad aunt Bev was able to help you out.

Tim Parenti said...

Well, erring on the side of certainty, I ate the Root Beer one for my sugar rush during the exam, saving the Mystery one for the mystery of waiting for a grade to come back. So, I haven't eaten it yet, but I probably will soon... and I'll let you know what it was.

Jim Baxter said...

Ah,organic chemistry. I was never very good at it, but one member of my class was clueless. After we spent a whole class extracting a compound from a water solution he came over to some of us and wanted to know what he should do since he didn't get very much product. A helpful classmate suggested that he add water to make it look like he had done better. Needless to say he wasn't very happy after showing the result to the professor. :)

Grandpa B.

Anonymous said...

My boys LOVE mystery flavor Dum Dums and they typically seem to be "blue flavor" - maybe blue raspberry like those Icee drinks. I think the blue ones are sometimes 'mystery' because no one can quite think of a name for that flavor.

It was fun 'driving Mr. Tim' on Saturday. Daniel, who is never much good on long drives, behaved rather well. The odometer read 236 miles by the time I actually made it home, but it was nice to catch up on stuff and your help with Daniel's reading words was great. He likes to look through the blocks where those who have helped him have their initials and remember those times. Today he asked me what you wrote under your name and I said that was an interesting way Tim writes the date. I guess he'll get that some day!

Uncle Dave said...

Tim, since you are pledging MKU you probably have noticed some family members in the fraternity history. Those were interesting times in the Pitt Band history with KKP disassociating from the national group and starting MKU, and IBK starting at about the same time. I may have some trinkets saved from the early days. If I find them, I'll let you share them with your historian. DAB

Lexi Elizabeth said...

only one post in october? come on, you can do better than that.

Tim Parenti said...

I'm getting there. I've been going through a bit of a mild crisis right lately, so to speak, but I intend to blog about it by the end of the month.

Anonymous said...

Well, at this point, you have less than 28 hours.

Tim Parenti said...

I don't require a countdown, but thanks anyway.

Unknown said...

Well, I had a few minutes to spare this morning, so I thought I'd catch up with you. Yes, I am offended (ha, ha) b/c you are actually about half my age now since I turned 40 in April. you feel old? Imagine how I feel.Actually, 40 is great. So how has October been? DQ closes this Friday!

Anonymous said...

So Tim,

If one considers themselves to be "old" when they turn 20, where does that leave the rest of us? I do not consider myself over the hill ( but I do have a GREAT view). I think the oldies stations are still playing music from my teen years. I guess when that passes I will have to accept being REALLY old. For now I think you are growing up a lot, but nowhere near old.

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