Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jumbo Eggs: Our Findings in the Weatherman Egg-Hunt

Thanks to everyone who has been participating in the search for Jumbos! Here are our latest hatchlings:

http://www.tuftslife.com/images/weather/cloudy-day.png (Brian)
http://www.tuftslife.com/images/weather/thunder.png (Alina)
http://www.tuftslife.com/images/weather/rain-heavy.png (Sydney)
http://www.tuftslife.com/images/weather/rain-light.png (Sydney)
http://www.tuftslife.com/images/weather/snow-heavy.png (Sydney)
http://www.tuftslife.com/images/weather/snow-light.png (Sydney)

 Thanks again for all the contributions! If there are more Jumbos out there, let's find them! Meanwhile, comment about your favorite Jumbo below.

Jumbo the Weatherman

I observed that, on TuftsLife, Jumbo displays the weather. I also observed that, by altering the image URL, one can find new Jumbo icons. For example:

I hereby challenge everyone who reads this post to paste "http://www.tuftslife.com/images/weather/" into their browsers, and then add endings ("something.png") until new Jumbos are discovered. Then, post the links as comments.

Good luck!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Fun Part of Psychology

Our minds alter the world so that we can operate better in it.

Do you see ridges between the strips? In other words, for a given strip, the left side is lighter and the right side darker?

You should, or your brain is broken. Our mind does that to highlight edges, so we know where objects start and stop in the real world.

This one's better:

See the tiles labeled A and B? They're the same color. Really really.

You see tile B as lighter because your brain figures, "Oh, there's a shadow! So if there wasn't a shadow, that would probably be a white tile - like those other white tiles outside the shadow. So let's adjust - and see it as whiter." Which is great in real life; otherwise, shadows would mess you up all the time. But here, it's a trick!

Moral: Your mind enhances the world. And by enhances, I mean lies to you about.

Mock Trial

My last post was on Thursday.

On Friday, I was busy; namely, I was learning everything I could from the PDF that had been sent out for the Tufts Mock Trial tryouts. It was a sampling for the previous year's case.

I had to prepare a cross examination of "Ari Finch", select a witness to portray (and be direct/cross examined), and give a speech defending/prosecuting a fictional character.

I concentrated on Finch's affidavit, double-dipping the witness as both the person I would cross examine and portray, so that I would only need to learn his/her character (for time).

Saturday afternoon, I went to tryouts. As I first got there, they took my picture and jotted down notes about my high school mock trial and drama experiences. I then began presenting my cross examination. I reached a question for which the witness did not give the expected result:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Brief Montage

Bicycles outside South Hall

South Hall (where I am)

A Dharma van. I mean a Tufts Facilities truck.

My college Spanish worksheet on the same exact Juanes song I gave a presentation on in junior year. This song is also my daily alarm clock.

The "Free Compliments" guy.

A blimp. Or, flying fish. You decide.

Votes Matter

I voted in my first school election yesterday. It wasn't for representation; it was for a referendum.

The choice? Referendum 3 or Referendum 4. I saw lots of posters around campus urging support for Ref. 3, so I was, naturally, inclined to find out how and why I should oppose it. I never quite like going with the grain.

So I did the research. Ref. 3 creates 4 new Senate positions for minority groups. In other words, student groups like Tufts African-Americans get to send a special representative to the Student Senate. With full voting power, including power over student funds. Ref. 4 lumps all 4 groups into 1 new Senate position, with limited voting power; specifically, s/he cannot vote on financial matters.

Seems to me like Ref. 3 gives unfair financial consideration to minority students.

Long story short, Ref. 3 won, according to the "Tufts Daily" news this morning. Approximately 1000 votes were cast. Ref. 3 won by a single vote.

Which reminds me that your vote always matters. In small elections, especially, but even in big ones! The philosophy goes something like this:

Does it matter if you are nice to your friends and family? Does it matter if you make enough money to live comfortably? Does it matter if you die? Of course it does! So what if you are a single person; your life matters! If you believe that, then you should vote. Sure, you're just one vote. You might not get noticed. You might not change the world. But that's the case with every aspect of life. Why stop living, just because you're small?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What We Learn in College

Here's what's new since we last spoke:

Spanish Recitation
We learned the song "Me Enamora" by Jaunes. This also happens to be the best song in the world, which Rachel, Josh, and I presented on in junior year.

Spanish Class
We have a presentation, biographical essay, and in-class discussion on Global Warming, coming up. Oh boy.

LOST Class
We took a look at characters' faith. I'm too tired to explain it all. Basically, Locke has faith in the Island, which he is reminded of via a series of leg injuries; Jack develops faith in that which he cannot explain over time, though he is reluctant; Ben had faith in Jacob but that didn't turn out so well; Rose has faith her husband is alive even though we don't see him for a while; Dogen (Asian man from Temple in later seasons) is bound to Jacob in servitude in exchange for a shady deal, so he may or may not even have any faith at all, but come to think of it, Jacob's kind of evil, no? If you want to understand better, watch these hand-picked faith-related episodes. They're on Hulu, too:
  • "DEUS EX MACHINA" (Season 1) - Locke gets Boone killed trying to get into hatch
  • "ORIENTATION" (Season 2) - Jack first pushes button in hatch
  • "DEAD IS DEAD" (Season 5) - Locke (Smokey) returns to manipulate Ben
  • "THE INCIDENT" (Season 5) - Ben kills Jacob
  • "SUNDOWN" (Season 6) Sayid kills Dogen
That's what's on my mind. Aside from the funky Calc problem due at the end of the week. And my American Politics paper on pick-your-topic (DEATH PENALTY!) as it relates to public opinion polling, due next week.

I think I'll be studying the effect of question wording on public opinion (Death Penalty vs Capital Punishment; Criminals vs Citizens; etc). I'd have to suspect that "Would you support the execution of American citizens convicted of murder, or would you prefer life imprisonment without parole?" would yield different survey results than, "Do you support capital punishment for murderers?" After all, deep down, what human being wants to be responsible for killing people? Especially if there are alternatives? Now, to get some polls...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Culture Wars?

Having recently (nearly) finished "Culture Wars?" by Morris P. Fiorina, I feel compelled to give a brief overview of the book's arguments:
  • Americans are not polarized or divided, for the most part. We actually agree on most issues.
  • Politicians, on the other hand, are extreme, divisive, and essentially out of touch with what most people want.
  • As an example, most Americans are fine with abortion in the case of rape, life endangerment, and even birth defects. Most Americans are not okay with abortion for marital, gender-selection, or contraceptive motivations. Yet, politicians and, specifically, political parties adhere to rigid "pro-choice" all-the-time or "pro-life" all-the-time ideologies, which essentially represent no one.
  • By representing no one (or roughly 10% of the population; extremists on any issue), parties deter most people from politics; only roughly 50% of Americans vote for President.
  • One thing that could be done to help would be Primary Election reform. Primaries, when parties select which candidate to run in the general election, are mostly voted in by people of extreme views; most other people don't really care to vote. In Iowa, for example, voter turnout is generally around 10% for primary elections, but 50% for general elections. And the freaking Iowa Caucus is supposed to be important. However, the book argues, if states reformed primaries such that anyone could vote for any party's candidates, instead of having to select one party, then moderate, independent people (the overwhelming majority of Americans, according to the book) could vote for moderate candidates, who could in turn actually win those elections. Instead, because one has to identify with or select a party in most state primaries, only people with extreme views or strong party affiliations go and vote for their parties, and only extreme candidates win, making it to the general election. The population, party-associated or not, is then stuck with extremists to decide between.
Other things on my mind:
- College seriously expects us to read entire books per week? This brings up the questions (1) can this be done, and (2) why did I buy the books, when I only needed them for a week?
- "Begs the question" is a commonly misused idiom. Mr. Moxey gets credit for first bringing this to my attention. You cannot say, "This begs the question, 'will we ever know the truth?'" You can say, "'Why is democracy the best form of government?' 'Because a government that is democratic will be best.' 'Hey, that begs the question!'" Learn more.
- Archived Dr. Who episodes are online. I intend to watch them all. Once I have time.
- It is superior to shower in the morning.
- Always carry a towel.
- You just lost the game.
- Ricky made a Blog.
- I do not need to carry around my mailbox key with my room key; I only confuse them anyway.
- Douglas Adams was hysterical.
- Making nouns into gerunds is erroring the English language.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Trick Turning and Other Miscelaneous Nonsense

"Trick Turning" on campus refers to eating a meal at the dining hall, then running off to a take-out eatery and stealing food from them using the same meal credit, thanks to a fluke in the system that seems to fail to let them know you've already had a meal on that credit. The take-out food can be useful as dorm snacks.

I thought "trick turning" was an incredibly suggestive choice of slang, which I wrote a comedic sketch on for "The Institute", a university sketch comedy group. The premise was that a young freshman student returned home over Thanksgiving to explain to her mother what she learned, namely, trick turning, which the mother misconstrues; all the while, neither party knows that the other has a different understanding of the conversation. It's funny. Since auditioning (and failing to be admitted, although they, in truth, took on no freshmen this time), I have been told on 3 separate occasions, by their people, that I was good. That's very kind of them. I'm joining "Major: Undecided" (sketch comedy, open to everyone) instead.

Other thoughts of mine include:
  • Who choreographs dancing fountains? Where do they learn how to do this?
  • What's with the double period? The world may never know..

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


For those of you who missed classes this week, here's the rundown:

American Politics
Polling is great, but you have to be careful about survey questions. Not only can there be statistical errors in extrapolating sample data to a larger group, but there are other errors to look out for: are your respondents really random, or are you isolating some people by the way you find your participants? Are you suggesting that a certain response to the question is preferred?

Even if not, some people lie, perhaps to sound better than they are. Always give people a way out. Turns out, the survey we filled out the class prior had some experiments in it. In one experiment, we rated political groups, some of which didn't exist. About 2/3 of the class had strong opinions of fictional groups; that's an invented opinion, a lie.

Another question asked us about our approval of Massachusetts criminal procedures. Half of us were given the question with the additional sentence: "Write 'Don't Know' if you do not know enough to have an opinion". Those presented with the way out almost all took it; those who weren't explicit told to write that ended up inventing drastic approval ratings. Interesting.

Commas serve as decimals for Spanish speakers. 4.6 becomes 4,6.

Television can be analyzed as literate, much as a Shakespearean play can. Not all shows, of course, but ones with a storyline, symbolism, and meaning. Unlike most shows, LOST has a big storyline: you can't just watch a random episode here or there. The character development, recurring motifs, and philosophical messages will be explored in our course. Homework: Watch 2 specifically chosen (and thematically related) episodes on Hulu. Then read specific commentaries. Then write a short paper. This class rules. We even break for food halfway through.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Picture Post 2

Mostly because I need to save time for homework, here's everything you need to know in picture form.

The confetti that Mom put in the Rosh Hashanah card. All over my Spanish. Ok, that's a lie, I posed this shot. I knew about the confetti already so I managed to not get it on my stuff.

My TI-84 Plus Silver. He's lonely because we can't use calculators in Calc. It's freaking called CALC. WTF Mrs. Fricker?! (kidding she was awesome)

The book from which I need to read this week. Let me clarify that: the novella that I need to read in its entirety by Friday. And our professor wasn't going to mention this. At all. It's on the syllabus. Somewhere.

Thanks for reading. Or looking. Or leaving this page up in your browser while you did something else, just so I could believe I was getting air time.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Dewick, being the superior dining hall to Carmichael, was overcrowded tonight (around 7pm) with nearly every student on campus. It was Sundae Sunday.

They ran out of forks. They ran out of seats. And, worst of all, by the time we were ready for it, they ran out of ice cream.

I had a whipped-cream sundae, topped with rainbow sprinkles and strawberry goo. Yum.

Moral of the story: Learn to eat dessert before dinner. Contrary to household wisdom, it won't ruin your appetite. What ruins your appetite is whipped-cream sundaes.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

College Collage

I thought that was a witty title. Turns out there's over 285,000 results for the same thing on Google. So much for originality.

What better way to explain Tufts than through pictures? My original plan was to shoot all over campus - this plan failed. So here's what I've got:

My dorm. My bed's on the right. Window/desk(s) behind camera.

My dorm keys. Note the keychain from Israel. I actually planned that out in May. Brilliant!

The Britta pitcher Sam made me buy. Haven't used it. Seems clever, though!

The sketchy hangar in which I auditioned for Cheap Sox (improv comedy) this afternoon.

Tisch library. It's awesome. And big.

More to come at some point. Got homework to do. See y'all later.

Reform vs Conservative

Warning: This post is brief, mostly because I just got home at 2 AM.

I attended conservative Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat services today, having previously attended each in reform. Each has advantages and disadvantages:
  • Guitar/instruments: Present in reform. A positive experience for me. The conservative practice that music should not be played since the destruction of the temple is silly in my opinion. Why are we still mourning? Let's be active and lively and rebuild a bit, no? Let's bring back the instruments and show those persecutors that we survived until today, and we're gonna dance and sing and play about it.
  • English: Reform services - There's still Hebrew prayers, so it's not too bad, but there is a lot more English. I like that a lot because, for the first time in some cases, I can really hear what we're praying about, and understand it. At the same time, it feels less Jewish, as though we're at church or something. Praying in Hebrew connects all Jews around the world. I'm not ready to give that up.
  • Length: Conservative services are a bit too long. Reform, a bit too short. Don't rush, people, but don't drag it out - can we compromise?
  • Mourners' Kaddish: Conservatives alienate the people mourning by making them stand and recite. I always hated that. I want to stand up with them and show that I'm there to support them. In reform services, everyone stands and recites together. The downside: You don't know to respect anyone who is actually mourning. Consensus?  None.
  • Overall: Reform has more people and more music, but conservative has just as much enthusiasm and singing. Conservatives discuss the Torah portion, not so much in reform. But the reform services read haftorah in English - so we actually heard the story, not some melodic nonsense. But melodic nonsense sounds pretty. Hmm.
So what's my plan going forward?

Bounce back and forth, of course. =)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

That Which is Easy

Being Jewish was never hard for me. I grew up in a town where a disproportionately large percentage of the population was openly Jewish, where everyone knew what a Synagogue was and where to find them, and where the Jewish holidays were days off from school.

That's not to say I didn't go out of my way to practice Judaism. When we had off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I spent the days in services, cell phone off, computer unplugged until the holiday was over, or I fasted for the 25 hours, neither eating nor drinking, while Jewish friends of mine chose to observe differently, or not at all. I kept Kosher my senior year to an extent to which I never had before, removing cafeteria meat from my diet and adhering to a strictly vegetarian menu outside of my home.

Granted, I did not practice as strictly as others might have. I did not keep the Sabbath, save for the high holidays; I did not fast on other fasts, save Yom Kippur; I did not go to services, save occasional celebrations and unique occasions. But nonetheless I was Jewish, in both identification and practice. It wasn't hard to be so.

When I learned that Tufts University housed a population approximately one quarter Jewish, I knew that not much was going to change. I was matriculating from one pretty Jewish school to another. Hillel was going to be big on campus, and Jewish life was going to be pretty regular.

Then again, maybe not. Rosh Hashanah starts tonight - and of my 4 courses scheduled during the holiday, 1 has chosen to give us the day off. In American Politics, I'll be missing a lecture; I can grab the slideshow offline. But for Calculus? Brand new material. No problem though, I can come to office hours: directly after class. Uh, oh.

Then take Kashrut. No big deal at home, but here? No meat intake, save once a week shabbat dinners. That means 1/20 meals is meat. I now have to be protein-conscious, something that wasn't much of an issue when I ate 2 meals a day at home in high school.

There are accommodations, for sure. Do I need to look hard to find services? No way, Hillel's there for that. Can teachers give tests during the holidays? No, but that just means I'm guaranteed to miss lecture, as opposed to something easy to make up. Clubs? Most offer alternate audition or meeting times in respect of the conflict.

But still, it's going to take some effort. Be it eating the right foods, explaining why I can't come to dinner Friday night, or, my least favorite, missing the next lesson in Calculus II, being Jewish went from something that I could do passively to something I have to decide to do, actively. I considered going to classes, I considered not taking notes but just listening in, but ultimately, I want to be in services with the shofar, the apples and honey, and the other Jewish people. So I've made my decisions, and we'll see how it goes.

I'm not nearly crazy enough to suggest that "G-d will support me" or anything like that. I'm making my choices because I want the experiences. Í'm taking off, it's up to me to make that work.

I find no reason why any institution should show particular respect to religious holidays; in fact, it's odd that, should I wish for a project extension due my absence because of a traditional family trip to Mexico, this would not be granted (one cannot merely take vacations), yet, should I wish for an extension due to absence because of a traditional family religious celebration, of course, by all means! It's kind of silly; religion isn't something to be revered or endorsed by academic establishments, it's a mere collection of rituals or beliefs. No one would get special treatment for being Republican or practicing Yoga, but slap G-d's name on a belief or custom and step back: there's something sacred about it now. A bit odd, no?

Ah well, enough about that. Shana Tova to all, a happy and health new year, and keep me posted on things in your lives as I, after all, keep posting about mine.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Food Favs

Eating at a dining hall really forces you to think about what you like, tolerate, and outright despise. With so many buffet choices, and so little room on the plate (dining trays have been eliminated starting this year: it either saves cleaning water and the environment, or it saves Dining Services a few bucks), which foods will make the grade?

My personal favorites from Dewick include:
  • Chocolate milk, sneakily only available at 1 of the 2 drink stations
  • Hot chocolate
  • Pink lemonade, in part because pink is superior, but also because regular is Crystal Light. Which, by the way, should have been named "Crystal Lite." It's sugar free, not illuminating, people!
  • Pasta. Preferably not whole-grain. Chunky veggie tomato sauce to top.
  • Strawberries. They surpass all other fruit in awesomeness, though I did manage to both consume and kidnap bananas today. There is one chillin' in the fridge now.
  • Ice cream, soft-serve variety.
  • Eggs, scrambled. Only because I want the protein.
  • Tofu, fried. See above reasoning.
  • Mushrooms. And peas. Clearly the most lovable of all vegetables.
But wait! I'll bet you don't agree with the above list! You think there are superior fruits, more nutritious veggies, and protein sources that aren't rubbery. Is it true? Then comment below! C'mon, people, I know at least a few of you have Google Accounts, I can see you following the blog. Add your thoughts!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Classes in the Bag; Texebooks, Not

That title is so freaking clever that I might not need to say much more.

I successfully signed up for Intro to Psychology and Intro to American Politics (the latter of which I hope isn't AP Gov again), as well as Spanish 21 although I'm afraid of the difficulty. I also got a Calculus course, but not the professor I wanted. Just don't my teacher that!

A brief overview of the process:
You search through the multi-hundred page coursebook to find what you might want. Then you go through those to find courses you can take (prerequisites, proper year). Then, of those you can take, you look them up online to find out which ones aren't full. Then, you have to select which time and day and professor you want, such that none of your courses conflict, and such that you have time for meals. Then registration opens for you, say, at 10:45 AM. Your quickly refresh the page, type in the courses, click GO, and BAM! Denied from one or the other! Quickly, you need backups! Something else to take - but what? It can't conflict with anything you're already taking! Ahh!

Missing class Thurs/Fri for Rosh Hashana; cleared it with AmerPol, can't find email addresses for anyone else so I'll get their contact info Tues/Wed.

A clarification about my last post: texting is okay for adults, it's just not as perfectly convenient, is all. And talking on the phone is still good, especially talking to people who don't live nearby. "Meet me outside" should be texted. "What's life like where you are?" should be spoken.

Back to point: Need textbooks. Finally got around to going to the bookstore - an hour after the closed. Trying again tomorrow, but mostly ordering from ABEBooks, Chegg, and Amazon Marketplace (thank you Getchabooks). I'll letcha know how it goes.

gtg2now, ttyl

I keep my phone by the end of my bed as an alarm clock. I knocked over the charging cable this morning. It had a nice long drop. It's fine though. But if it does end up breaking, I can shoot for one of those iPhones everyone on campus has. Not that I want to buy the data plan. Unless a texting plan covers that - cause I'm gonna need one of those.

Texting. Adults do not understand texting. At all. They assume it's some fad or trend, that it doesn't have much actual reason for existing, and that real phone calls, or better, personal visits, are always superior. I used to agree: no longer.

Texting is legitimately useful, but only for college kids. Not for high schoolers (sorry underclassmen), not for business people (usually), and not for old people (sorry parents). Joking. About the parents thing. Really. Ha.

Why college kids? We live together, and we have random course schedules. This is the perfect mix for texting. Now, if you don't live with a bunch of kids, it's no big deal. This is why high school students don't need it: if you want to meet your friend for pizza, call them. You'll have to drive out anyway, arrange transportation, pick which place to go to, etc. But on campus, if you wanna do something with a friend, you can literally just walk outside and go. Just text first and bam, you're on your way.

But why not call? A few good reasons.
1) Your friends' cell phones are from California, China, and Texas. They use AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and then a few dozen you've never head of. Long distance charges, depending on your plans.
2) You have too many friends, so they're not all in the Fav 5. That means each call is gonna cost minutes. How many minutes are you willing to pay for?
3) They're in class. Or in a presentation. Or at a performance. They can't have their ringtone going off - and they can't chat. But they can write back "Sure, c u @ 6."

As for the random course schedules: You never know what your friends are doing (see Reason 3). So calling might not be good for them. Think of it like the difference between an in-person visit and an email. If I come to you asking a question, you might be busy, or not even there. But if I write a letter or email, you can answer it whenever is convenient. Same goes for the texts, only, they beat out email because all you need is your phone, not a whole big laptop.

Between all my classes and events, I've set my phone indefinitely to vibrate. The first step, perhaps, on the way to more texting, less talking.

Thanks to Eppie for the random corrections you make to my posts. Granted, I'm using words like "wanna" and contractions like "I'm," so it's not really English 2 here, but it's nice to keep my who's and whose in check, or fix a letter that was sqapped thanks to mistyping.

Making Ends Meat

A typo? Never! A corny play on words? Bingo.

Keeping kosher (read: vegetarian Sat-Thu) on campus isn't the least abnormal. Either we've got a lot of observant Jews (25% by population), which I doubt, or we've got vegetarians, vegans, and kids on diets, which is much more likely. Whatever the reason, 11 meals into college, not a single person has questioned the lack of meat on my plate. That being said, I haven't asked the dozens of kids I've sat with whether their fruit platter is a health choice or religious tradition.

I guess I expected kashrut to be an ice-breaker for religious identification, but that has yet to happen. In fact, the only time my peers have learned that I am Jewish (or vice versa) was when Shabbat dinner was discussed. ("I'm gonna head off to Shabbat in an hour" - "Oh okay. So, um, you're Jewish, then?" - "Yep." - "Cool.")

Now, maybe I'm a bit out-of-the-ordinary, but I always want to explain Judaism to people. I want them to ask about what I do, why I do it, and the like. It allows me to shape the views of others; I get to represent my religion is a positive light to someone who has little or no experience. I always thought, however, that, at a school where 1 in 4 students identify with the faith, or where Hillel has its own, fairly extensive building on campus, everyone I met would already have talked to someone Jewish.

I was pleasantly mistaken. I've been able to explain Shabbat to my roommate, prompt a classmate to ask to come to dinner, and exchange a quick overview of kashrut with a Chinese student (during International Orientation, skits were apparently performed in which one of my favorite religious facts was pointed out: Jews and Muslims don't eat pork).

As far as my diet goes: Dewick (the dining hall near me, "downhill" on campus, the larger and, according to us, better of the two main halls) actually has an entire buffet table of vegetarian options - I can grab anything there knowing it's safe. Then I venture out to other stations, checking detailed ingredient information posted. I think a listing of "Roast Pork, Kosher Salt..." is wonderfully ironic. Friday nights are my meat intake: Kosher chicken or brisket (both for Freshman Shabbat yesterday).

Jewish jokes also appear in comedy forums on campus: "Here today because you were turned down from an ivy? Don't worry about it guys - it's not cause you're not smart. It's cause you're middle class and Jewish," or last night's: "Jew walks into a bar with a frog on his head. Bartender asks, 'Where'd you pick that up?' Frog answers, 'Brooklyn, they're all over the place'". Yeah, it wasn't funny when he told it, either.

Though, diverging for a moment, the comedy show a few days ago was pretty awesome. "Yeah class of 2014! Okay, now turn to your roommate sitting next to you. Oh shut up we know you're sitting together - you don't have any real friends yet..." Somehow, we ended up laughing as they made fun of us. Huh.

Anywho (the cheery alternative to anyhow), that's that for that. Happy eating!

Quick Lessons

Today's Life Lessons:
- Shabbat is worth missing Stir Fry. Well, I haven't tried the stir fry yet...
- Jumbo Idol is a blast, and our class is so freaking talented - I cannot wait to see these singers in the musicals, a cappella groups, and more competitions
- Hillel is really far from South
- Don't use street maps to navigate; cut through grass
- Don't help friends with homework or you'll be strapped to dynamite. At least, I think that's what I think the gist of "Academic Integrity" was about. You also can't get caught plagiarizing yourself. Apparently, once you write something, you can't have the same ideas ever again, or you're no longer original?
- Upperclassmen are funny. There's gotta be "Intro to Improv" junior year that we haven't heard about yet.
- College kids stay out late. I'm not talking 2 AM late (check the timestamp on this, why don't ya?); I mean late. I think some of them don't sleep. Ever.
- Dining serves ice cream with everything. Try varying things; have your breakfast ice cream compliment a waffle, lunch add flavor to your platter, and dinner leave you feeling warm and chocolatey.
- The main dorm doors open after scanning your ID. Sometimes. Other times, they just don't like you. They tend to get groggy as the night goes on.
- Dining closes at 7 PM on Fridays. Works for Shabbaters, but, really? No late-night cookies? I'll have to steal those in tupperware beforehand.
- All the building and street names are designed to sound alike to screw with freshmen.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Course Selection

So as it turns out, they give us lots of responsibility here at Tufts. I have to not only pick my courses, but schedule them so they don't conflict, give myself time for lunch, and arrange back-up course schedules in case, come tomorrow, some of my desired classes are filled.

I now appreciate my high school guidance department.

So far, I have "LOST as Literature" for 1.0 credit, a treat from the EXperimental College here at Tufts. That leaves room for 4.5 more credits worth of courses; but seeing as I can't find any good half-credit ones, that means 4 classes.

So I'm aiming for some Psych, Politics, Spanish, and Calculus - but I have no idea if that'll work out. So I've set some backups.

In the meantime, I'm looking up my courses on SIS to find out how many spots are open in each time slot, and I'm checking up on professors on RateMyProfessor. This could take all night.

AP Credit-wise, some good test, some not so good. Spanish got me out of 4 of 6 required courses - sweet! English? Took care of my entire writing requirement - but taking 2 AP English courses wasn't any more useful than taking 1. Math was also good for placement - everything else, just some credits. But it'll help.

Rate My Professors just told me which Spanish and Math will be amazing. Cool.

Off to more scheduling - I'll write more when my brain's not exploding.

Whiteboard from Hell

I wanted to stay organized in college, so I purchased a small whiteboard on which to write down incomplete tasks, upcoming activities, and the like. Since I have arrived, I have attempted, repeatedly, to affix the plastic slab to the wall above my desk. It has been said that "if, at first, you don't succeed, try, try, again." My experience has been kind of like that, only with a whole lot more repetitions of "try" squeezed in there.

The board came with four adhesive squares, sticky on both sides once the protective waxy paper was peeled off. They are currently stuck to my wall quite effectively...but the whiteboard won't stick to the other side.

I've tried masking tape. Duct tape. No tape. Lots of tape. Poster tack. Poster tack stuck to the square adhesives. Tape stuck to the adhesives. And - oh, there we go. As I'm writing, the damn thing fell off the wall again.

A loud clatter in the middle of the night? The whiteboard. Stuck, sometimes, halfway down the crack behind the desk. It's also a magnetic board, so of course everything stuck to it goes flying in all directions.

But fear not, readers. I think I've finally solved the problem:

The crossed-out task reads: FIX WHITEBOARD. Go duct tape!
I think it has a very college-style feel to it.

Pasta and Comedy counteracts Exams and Bathrooms

Second day on campus.

Got up in what I thought was enough time to do everything, but ran into some trouble: my bathroom shower, for example, was broken, or, at least, seemingly so. I later showed my R.A.; she had it working on the first try. Dumb freshman, or did a handyman stop by? Cause if one did, he could have also taken a look at the door so squeaky you'd think someone was dying when it opened, the lock on the door that snaps shut with the sound of a bullet, or the sink that drains slow enough in comparison to the faucet's flow rate that it should be a calculus rate-of-change problem.

Needless to day, I was late to breakfast. Not usually a problem, unless you have something after breakfast. Like Spanish testing in the computer lab across campus. Ben (roommate) and I sprinted. Only to stand in a nice long line. The tests placed me in Spanish 4, but my AP Credit indicated Spanish 21 (the next level after 4), so the professor in charge recommending trying the harder course. Vamos a ver como hago.

The day was a blur, but I know there was lunch in there (met some new friends, none of us were in a pre-orientation group), there were some wonderfully lengthy lectures (academic panels on mathematics and psychology, admittedly by choice; safety presentations; diversity discussions), dinner (pasta, thank you Tufts! Turns out my dining hall even has a veggie buffet table - I think I'll shop there) with my LOST advising group, and some fun activities in the evening: I attended a comedy show featuring one of my senior advisers from LOST, Brian. We actually have 3 Brians in the class. Yeah. But the comedy was good; very freshmen-oriented, with jokes about roommates, awkward speed-friending, and long-distance relationships. The improv group in particular, Cheap Sox, was great - they're Whose Line for college.

Diverting back to LOST class temporarily, I forgot to mention: Yesterday, kid comes in late, we ask, "Oh, are you here for LOST?" Kid: "Yes! Yes, I'm lost!" Okay, it was funnier to be there.

Got back to the dorm nowish to find an array of emails from friends, family, and even an occasional request from ABC Innovations clients. I haven't had a chance to do anything in the dorm since I've gotten here, least of all update websites.

My white board that I love so much keep falling off the wall; the included adhesives don't work, masking tape didn't work, and even Duct tape ultimately let the board drop. It must be especially made not to be used in dorm rooms. Joy.

I hope to add pictures to this Blog soon. At the very least, I'll try and keep posting. Until, perhaps, I become busy with schoolwork and can't stay up this late typing away at the laptop while trying not to wake Ben.

Giving myself more time for breakfast tomorrow. Then off to some "Academic Integrity" seminar. Oh, and I need to discuss course selection with my faculty advisor. Firefox is telling me it's spelled adviser. I've yet to make up my mind on that.

Oh, and I figured out that calling my new friends is expensive. I don't use my cell on nights and weekends exclusively, so it seems that texting is actually less damaging to the phone plan. That being said, perhaps I'll need to upgrade past my 200/month. I'd use gmail texting, but the laptop hasn't left the dorm.

It was amusing explaining that Shabbat dinner tomorrow is related to a Jewish holiday, but no, not Rosh Hashanna; it's its own holiday. That we have every week. Yes, every single week.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 1

College is nothing like I imagined. It's better.

The day started off with early-morning unpacking with my Dad (Apparently someone told him we needed to arrive before 8:00 AM - so I was up at 6:45. My roommate? Arrived around 10 and got settled just as easily.), followed by the friendly introduction of roommates' parents, and then the planned activities.

Matriculation was like graduation. Kind of. No student speeches, but faculty ones. And let me tell you, it's as though Tufts only hires amazing public speakers to the faculty: every speech given held everyone's attention. These guys know how to tell jokes, add stories, and make their point all at the same time. No matter my future career, note to self: learn to do that.

The Class of 2014 marched in like a graduating class and sat down. Someone read to us excerpts from our admissions essays, and I began to realize how fascinating everyone around me really was. We had kids who grew up in much tougher households than mine, or who lived in foreign countries, or who already accomplished incredible academic feats. Advice for students applying to college: Don't write boring essays. Ever. If it's an application essay, go all out making it interesting. Tell about weird stuff that's happened to you. They love that; it makes you a real person.

Apparently tens of thousands applied. Roughly 1300 were accepted. 70 of those were valedictorians, less than 200 are in the School of Engineering, and there's a record number from California. Cool.

My first friends? My roommate, two international students from China (though one lived mostly in Canada), and the kids on my floor of my dorm. Note to the college-bound: Join a coed dorm. It's fun having all kinds of crazy people around.

Not sure if I feel bad about not doing pre-orientation; people made friends there, but they're making friends again now, so no big deal.

It's a good thing we've got fans; no air conditioning and it's hot.

Other notes for college freshmen: Say hi to people. Just do it. Sit down and start talking. And try really hard to remember their names. Or don't, I'm sure you'll manage. It's a quick way to meet people, and it feels so nice having people to hang out with once the parents disappear.

Coming from a school of about 700, this is pretty insane. It's just my class on campus so far, and we're huge, at least by my standards.

Lots of ice breakers, but what do you expect? People from all over the country - and you forget that pretty fast. Everyone seems normal and nice, then you remember they're from California and Texas, shouldn't they be different, somehow? Where are the accents? I guess kids are just kids everywhere.

Food's good. Tufts has a daily newspaper; that's cool. And a lot of maps. And groups. Speaking of which, we got to see "Black Out" perform (step group, very cool), and some other great acts during a nighttime celebration - it felt a bit like summer camp, only more mature, professional, and awesome.

Dorm room's pretty much what one expects. It's nice, apparently we have a fairly large room compared to others. No one lives next door as far as we can tell. Yay, more bathroom for us.

Recycling and trash is outside the room: very convenient. And the recycling! Nice school - paper, plastic, glass, even compost at the lunch rooms.

Other things that tell me this is a good fit? They gave us "This I Believe" to read over the summer - for fun. It was awesome. When we arrived, the president of the college told us we have to be active citizens: his only request that we vote at every election. And everyone is so freaking friendly. This is awesome.

For those reading who aren't in college yet, you'll love it. For those reading who are in college, but not this one, I'm sorry. And for those long since out of college, enjoy through us, the Class of 2014.

This was Day 1.