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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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