Sunday, January 3, 2010

Silver Sucks

Silver sucks. You poor guys have probably been checking my blog for the past several weeks, wondering when I was going to update, if I died, etc.. Here's my excuse: I was busy the days leading up to finals week, and the rest was sheer laziness. So here's some stuff I've been typing up.

Thanksgiving Week:
Sunday, 11/22/09:
Women's Hockey, us vs. Manitoba. We won 9-0. It was so bad that by the end of the game, we had people begging the refs to give them a point out of pity.

Monday, 11/23/09:
The only thing of note was that we had no Computer Lab. In fact, we had no lab assignments whatsoever (as they're usually posted online), so I didn't have anything to program!

Tuesday, 11/24/09:
Half of the University Band was missing. I guess some people decided to go home early. Slackers.

At the end of rehearsal, a friend of mine in the band, Rachel, a trumpet player, told me that some friends of hers were throwing a Thanksgiving party for the few people who will be on campus on Thursday. I agreed to meet them, so we drove to their house, which was on campus and five minutes away, walking, from my dorm because it was right next to the medical school.

There was a very good reason for this, because a good portion of the people who lived there were medical students (and Rachel herself was a medical student). The ringleader was Jamie, who was very, very nice. It also turned out that there were three or four Japanese girls there, one of which I actually greeted ("Konban wa!") and said goodbye to ("Oyasumi nasai!") in Japanese before leaving with Rachel. The entire time, I was saying that I was not good at it ("Tokui jyanai!").

Wednesday, 11/25/09:
I only had one class, and that class happened to be the earliest class on my list. So, despite the fact that I only had Computer Science, I still had to get up at 7 in the morning. There was only about ten people in a class of thirty or forty.

But more important was happened at noon. A few days before this, I got an e-mail talking about a luncheon in the Space Studies department, followed by some sort of lecture or something about "Investigating Relationships Between Sunspot Rotations and Energetic Events". The day before this, I got an e-mail saying that it was postponed to next semester, but they were serving pizza anyway. Since I wanted to build connections, I opted to go anyway.

The Space Studies department is on the fifth floor of Clifford Hall. Walking in, past the reception desk, at which the awesome Bev sits (she's the one that gave me the form to fill out for a Space Studies Minor and turned it in), there is a "lobby" room (later found out that this referred to as the "Reading Room"), if you will - there are two large bookshelves, filled with books and magazines on everything related to space, facing each other. In the middle of these is a long table with chairs, and hanging up on a wall facing this is a flatscreen TV set to NASA TV. While walking to this place, you will notice the variety of stuff hanging up on the walls - including, causing much internal squeeing, pictures from the prototype Mars suit project that led me to UND in the first place.

When I first got there, I was pretty much lost, because there was seemingly no one there. I thought there would be several people. Guess not. Then again, I did get there a bit early. One of the staff reassured me that I was in the right place, it was just that the food wasn't here yet. So, I opted to put my coat on a chair, grab a newspaper, and read it while waiting. Literally, about 30 seconds after I sat down, this professor by the name of Paul shows up with two guys in suits who look like government agents or something. Turns out that he was giving two guys from Commerce or something like that a tour of the department. I stood in the corner and smiled and listened the entire time, knowing that I was a huge n00b and better stay out of their way.

After this, I read the paper for a little bit before the pizza FINALLY arrived, which prompted the appearance of very important people and two grad students. This was a bit scary, since I was easily the youngest person there.

We talked about a lot of stuff - rockets (and why the Russian rockets failed so badly), whether vodka protects you from nuclear radiation (which eventually led to joking about a seminar on alcoholism in space), and classical music (the only Mozart Dr. Whalen likes is [spelled in English 'cause I can't spell it otherwise] The Magic Flute). Yeeeeaaaah.

Apparently, there's about twenty people in the Masters program in Space Studies, with around a hundred doing the same in the distance program. And it also turned out that I wasn't the only one who wanted to be an astronaut - one of the grad students, an anthropology major, said that he wants to apply to become a candidate, too.

All in all, I enjoyed it very much. After the two hours I spent at this very interesting luncheon, I took the bus to the book store so I could get an application and (hopefully) fill it out and turn it in. This was foiled by the fact that I forgot to type up my spring semester schedule and print it out, but even more by the fact that I had no idea when exactly Marching Band would meet; since there was no more football, there was no way we would have the three rehearsals a week we had scheduled. In the end, I decided to pack up my application and leave, and turn it in later. While I was filling out as much as I could on the application before I left, I saw my Honors teacher with a cup of coffee and what appeared to be a large stack of essays. Guess he was telling the truth when he said that he needed the essays as an excuse to not visit his in-laws.

Thursday, 11/26/09:
There was no school, and rightfully so, because the dorm and the campus were entirely DEAD. And my roommate, G.I. Jane, was at her relatives' place. And the dining centers were not open. I felt sorry for those that didn't have anywhere to go to for food.

It turned out that I wouldn't have to starve myself before the party, because one of the four people still in the dorm served a Thanksgiving lunch for us. While eating, the four of us talked about many things. The person who served it is in the band, but I'm really, really bad at names. Haley, who lives a few doors down from me, is a huge hockey enthusiast and often goes to our games - I remember her name because I already knew her before this event. And the final girl was someone I had never seen before (probably lived on the other, older side of the dorm, which has its own facilities, so we'd never cross paths), who hailed from Alaska and drove to Grand Forks through Canada after receiving her license a few days before. Talk about badass.

Finally, as night fell, I went to Jamie's place for the party. Now, when you think of "party on a college campus", I'd imagine that you'd think of orgies and drunk people. This was totally not it. There was no alcohol at all, and the people who came were very respectable. Again, I was the youngest person there - pretty much everyone was an upperclassmen or a grad student. We had a guy who was pursuing a Master's in Chemical Engineering, a Chinese couple pursuing Ph.Ds and their cute little kid, a couple of aviation students, a flight instructor, and several med and Japanese students. And I'm only covering the people I remembered - there was probably around thirty people there.

In terms of food, there was much of it, and it was very varied. There was turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes (one dish of it had marshmallows on top), but there was also stuff like a slightly spicy dish with rice noodles, green bean casserole, and a salad with almonds on top (which meant that I wouldn't touch it - because picking out the almonds would've been too tedious). For dessert, there was pumpkin pie, ice cream, and some of the best homemade banana nut bread that I've ever tasted.

While people were socializing and eating, this one aviation student and I were playing "Chinese checkers" with the couple, and the little kid was kicking our sorry asses. Basically, it consisted of wooden tiles with what I knew as Kanji (Chinese characters that represent concepts or objects), and you had to match them, like Concentration, if you will. One of the characters I thought was earth (土) (and so did the flight instructor, who was in the process of learning Japanese), but turned out to be a different one because the top horizontal stroke was longer than the bottom one. It was the symbol for a guard or something along those lines instead.

Once everyone was done eating, we set our chairs in a circle and played a game called "Signs". Basically, everyone had a specific hand gesture (mine was the Vulcan "Live long and prosper"). Now, everyone was in a circle, with one person in the middle. One person would have the "sign" (think of it as an invisible ball). In order to pass the sign to another person, they would have to do that person's hand gesture, and the receiving person would have to do the "thrower's" gesture in response (the catch: once you signal a person, you have to signal that person and only that person, no changing, and you have to keep signaling them until they see you and "receive" it). The person in the middle has to figure out which person has the sign, so the game turns into one of trying to flash the hand signs behind the middle person's back as quickly as possible so they don't see you. Once the person in the middle figures out who it is, they sit in that person's spot, and the person who got caught was now the person in the middle. It's more fun than it sounds, and I haven't laughed so hard in ages.

And then we played a variation when someone was the "leader", who would do a hand gesture that everyone else would then do repeatedly, and the person in the middle would have to figure out who the leader was as they changed gestures. While I was the leader, my first gesture was a twirling of my hand in the air, followed by a straight downward "chopping" motion repeatedly. The flight instructor figured out that I was a huge hockey fan, because we do that after we score a goal in a hockey game (the twirling of the hand being the prep alongside a bass drum roll, followed by the downward motion directed at the opponent's goalie, while yelling "SIEVE!" with each motion).

I had a TON of fun, and I was surprised at how much I had, because I'm not that much of a people person. I called Mom up afterwards saying that, HOLY CRAP, I actually spent time with people outside of band or school.

Friday, 11/27/09:
I did basically nothing except stuff myself on leftovers. And watched a ton of Trigun (yes, I'm still trying to finish that boxed set).

Saturday, 11/28/09:
So here I was, watching Trigun on my computer, when I suddenly got a call from Jamie asking if I wanted to come with her and some friends to Target for some shopping. I obliged, because I did need to get some stuff - I ended up getting two packs of flossers, some long socks, and chocolate, because it was cheap. Jamie, Yoko, and Miriam were there for grocery and winter shopping.

Afterwards, we went to Old Navy, which in itself was an entirely new experience to me. My clothes hail from Wal-Mart (the vast majority of my clothing, which is Faded Glory), Ross Dress For Less (my $15 prom dress that was every bit as awesome as the $400 ones), and the local thrift store (all of my winter clothing). So being in an Old Navy was completely new. I found myself boggled at how expensive everything was over there - what wasn't on clearance (which was why we went there) was INSANELY expensive, such as designer pea coats for $120. You know what I could buy with $120? I could pre-order Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey AND Poke'mon SoulSilver AND get Muramasa: The Demon Blade and STILL have money left over. Granted, if I got that, I'd look like someone from Persona 3, but that is still ridiculous!

While Miriam was trying on pairs of jeans, I got a sudden idea while talking to Jamie and texted my drum major asking about the Marching Band rehearsals in spring, because my band director hadn't replied to my e-mail yet. Within a few minutes, I got a text back saying that they were generally only on Wednesdays when we DID have them.

After THAT, we headed to the Columbia Mall (across the street) so Yoko could exchange something, while I tried (and failed) to explain to Miriam what Trigun was. She DID know what Evangelion was though (after all, it's so famous in Japan that the Rebuild movies were released in theaters, while they're going straight to DVD here).

And then after THAT, they let me have dinner at their place. It was really yummy, despite the fact that it was leftovers.

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