Archives by Month: September 2012

Finally

I finished my Watson Application. As a reward for your patience, here’s a prose poem I wrote in one of my creative writing classes:

They had always imagined They would die in their sleep so They made a bedroom worth dying in. A big bed, like king-sized but custom made and square. Antony and Cleopatra sized. A spring mattress with a memory foam pad because She had back pain but He was a waiter. Wrapped in a sheet printed with dinosaurs that They had bought on the way to a picnic because it was the cheapest one in the store. He said the red satin pillowcases kept cold the longest but they were really to train Him not to drool at night. She made Him do the laundry and the pillows had begun to look like they had been worn to the gym. Only three pillows because She half rested on His chest. Curtains made from two parachutes to save the world from what was Theirs. The nightstand was the fruit of a dare made in North Carolina. He told Her She was too chicken to go to a late night garage sale advertised on a lamppost. The sale was at night because it was being hosted by an elderly couple whose house was at risk of foreclosure and they were each working two jobs; She had bought the stand out of pity and to stave off the guilt for Her presence in their home. The lamp on the nightstand was made out of a flashlight and a kite because She said He wasn’t

good with his hands. Monogrammed towels didn’t hang off the doorknobs but tie-dyed ones that Their daughter had made did. She had warned them individually to wash them before use, but she was older now and was receiving towels of her own. They didn’t have a rug because of Philip. Philip was Their dog who was named Philip because They savored the horrified facial expressions: Philip took a dump in the living room or Philip only likes to sleep with Us when he’s in a bad mood. Philip could hear the front door open from the bedroom and would sprint to greet Whoever it was, but Philip couldn’t get traction so his nails clacked on the hardwood as he ran in place for a moment like a cartoon before clumsily bounding out of the room. The spot Philip always lied on was right above the water heater and He didn’t want to ruin it even after Philip was gone. The house was quieter now. This night He fell between the dinosaur sheets and took a bottle of pink pills out of the nightstand; put it to His lips, tilted His head back until the rattle stopped. He pulled close the third pillow, the one that still smelled of shampoo, and shut His eyes. Now He knew what Philip had known, that no one was coming home anymore.

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Goodbye, Summertime

When I walked out of my dorm this morning at 7:30 in the morning I saw frost on the ground.  To me, the early frosts signal the end of summer. No more lazy summer days or jumping in the lake to cool down.  I couldn’t have been more excited to see that frost.

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer! But fall–especially fall here on campus–is my favorite season.  And it’s not just because my birthday is in October (one week until I’m 21, woo!).  When it’s fall, it means I get to pile more blankets on my bed and finally pack away my bulky fan that takes up my entire windowsill.  Students pull their Patagonias and North Face jackets out of the tubs under their beds (or, if you’re me, it’s a fleece from L.L. Bean).  It’s sweatshirt and sweater season, folks.

Most of all I love the fall colors.  I know that sounds cliché, but fall colors in Maine really are spectacular.  I’ve lived through twenty Maine falls (granted I can probably only remember about fifteen of them), and I still get a little shiver of excitement when I see the first red leaf of the season.  When I was driving back from Boston last weekend, I noticed that the leaves had already started to change. Now the change is really getting underway, and several trees on campus are beautiful shades of red and orange.  When I walk out of the front doors of Miller after class, I usually just stand on the steps for a minute or two, drinking in the foliage.  For some reason, these colors just make me happy!

My favorite thing to do in the fall here on campus is wander the trails in the Arboretum and on Runnals Hill.  Since most of the trees on these trails are leafy, walking on the trails in the fall is like walking into a painting of brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges.  If you have never heard of these trails, they are definitely something you need to check out next time you are on campus.  Colby has an amazing expanse of woodsy paths that are great for running or, if you’re like me and running is an enemy, walking.  Check out my friend Nick’s blog on the trails to get a better idea of what I’m talking about!

Before I go, I thought I’d leave you with a few pictures of Colby in the fall.  Enjoy!

The beginning of fall colors! View from Johnson Pond.

The trees are starting to change!

It’s beginning!

Yellow is my favorite.Walking in a world of color!

Until next time,

Morgan

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Where to?

I’ve recently been having trouble focusing. My mind wanders from my homework to the trees outside, glittering in the golden sunlight of an early autumn afternoon. It then cruises along the open farm fields around Waterville, then up to northern Maine; Katahdin rising up in the distance behind the blue waters of Lake Chesuncook.  It flies from there to mountaintops in the Adirondacks of upstate New York where I spent this past summer.

Then, my mind leaves these familiar scenes. It goes to places I’ve only seen pictures of and read and heard about. Fjords in Norway, the city streets of Stockholm, the steppes of Patagonia. I want to explore these places and to know them with the same intimacy as I know my dorm room at Colby. Soon, in about a year, I’m going to get my chance.

I’ve been spending my spare moments perusing the study abroad options on the Colby website, looking for places to go in my time abroad Junior year. I’m barely able to contain my excitement; I have to make a conscious effort to not continuously blab about my fledgling plans.

Some of my reasons for planning on going abroad include sensible things like gaining experiences that will help me in my career and learning another language. Still, deep down, what’s really driving me to study abroad isn’t a reason; it’s a feeling. I just want to go.

There are also several reasons for why I shouldn’t go abroad. I have plenty of friends who couldn’t go abroad for academic or athletic reasons and other friends who aren’t planning on going because they don’t felt the urge.

Still, the reasons I have for not going have yet to even touch my desire to travel and explore. Perhaps this is a bit of a risky thing to do, but I think I’m going to let my study abroad plans be governed more by emotion than reason. I’m going to do what I want to do, simple as that (as long as the off-campus study office lets me, that is).

As I learn more about possibilities for next year and develop my plans, my daydreams will become less scattered. I’ll imagine the city I know I’ll be living in or the program I’ve signed up to work with. Soon, my visions will be replaced with real places and people and experiences – some better than I could have imagined and some worse. Soon, I’ll be living abroad. I can barely wait!

Alice H

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On a Place Called Portland

As of late, I have discovered that I quite enjoy visiting cities, because the city environment is relatively unfamiliar to me because I grew up in a very rural area. One of my favorite things about Colby is the college’s proximity to Portland. The city of Portland is about an hour and fifteen minutes away from Colby, making it a reasonable commute for students with cars, or for students with access to the Zip Car service that we have on campus. This weekend, I spent a lot of time exploring Portland with one of my friends, and I found that it is both a great place to hang out and relax on a weekend, as well as a great place to study.

There is a lot of debate as to whether, in college or for all mental tasks in life, one should designate a single study space for himself, or study in multiple spaces. I tend to find the latter option the best for me and, throughout my time at Colby, I have found that I can study well in a variety of settings. One of my favorite places to study is in Portland, at Bubble Maineia. While Portland really is a manageable distance away from Colby, it is still rather far to travel to regularly and, thus, I don’t really get to study there a lot, except for on weekends when I decide to go to Portland. I have tried many different bubble tea places, and Bubble Maineia is my favorite. They have several flavors and, on top of that, they also sell really tasty Chinese vegetable buns. The combination is a perfect snack to have while studying, and the atmosphere is not loud, so it is not hard to concentrate there.

As far as recreation and dining go, there are also a lot of fun activities and restaurants in Portland. Portland has many art galleries that are fun to look at. There is also a really cool ferry service that you can take to travel to some five islands near the city. In addition, Portland has a lot of restaurants that you can’t really find in Waterville or Augusta. My favorite restaurants there are an Indian restaurant called Passage to India, and a French restaurant called The Merry Table. Passage to India is a great place to go with a friend, because they have an economical dinner for two option, in which you get an appetizer and naan bread to share, your meal, and a dessert. The Merry Table is a great place to go for crepes, though I also highly recommend their tartine appetizer.

Overall, Portland is a really great place and, if you decide to come to Colby, I highly recommend that you check it out!

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A Walk in the Woods

Last Wednesday was probably one of the most beautiful days on campus, and I spontaneously decided do something different with my daily jogs and go in the trails behind the athletic center. I took some pictures for you guys and thought I’d change it up this week with a photoblog!

Beginning my jog at the bottom of Mayflower Hill

Lower part of Runnals

Quidditch field

Some planks PPD put down over some mud

Cool stone stairs

Trails are awesome

Woodsy

The brook. Best part

So tranquil

It’s a bench. Yup

I was going for artsy. With the leaf and everything. Except not

Bubbling brook

My feet. Photo contest winner right there

Sunny

Maine

Back on the big path

Wish I was a science person

Baseball field, coming out of the trails

Best weather ever.

Our amphitheater. We really need to have an awesome outdoor country concert here

Okay definitely not on the trails anymore. But I kept taking pictures

Sports fields in the background

Bobs.

Near my old dorm

Instagram-ish

Typical Maine road

Fall day

-Nick

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Hey Ho Ho and a Bottle of… Algae?

There’s a part of me that wanted to be a pirate; maybe it was the dying fad of pirates that once stormed the screens of cinemas worldwide, maybe it was because they can travel the four oceans and see the world, maybe it was the fact that they get to wear cool hats, excess eyeliner and own parrots. However, standing at 5 feet flat (and that is just on the “good days”) on the round side, with no previous training in pistols firing, dueling, pirate talking (“Arrrrgh!”) or rum drinking, I opted to go into marine sciences in Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science for this semester.

After battling with three boxes of my earthly possessions, overly emotional goodbyes with friends and an awkward long taxi ride, I arrived at East Boothbay. The four of us are the first batch of students in the Bigelow- Colby project, where will study and conduct research under the wings of experienced and professional scientists; the student and teacher ratio is almost 1:3. We are working in the new building, with state-of-the-art equipment. We have white coat, goggles and glass whiteboards (like in CSI). Real legit.

 

East Boothbay is simply breathtaking. We live in a beautiful little house that is just five minutes from the campus. The area is surrounded by water; there is a beautiful lake just a few miles from the house so blue and shimmery that it looks like a mirror fallen from heaven. The other day, we had a pizza picnic right at the docks. The slightly salty sea breeze, mixed with the sounds of laughter and a good slice was just so perfectly refreshing. I feel like I am living in a beautifully illustrated children’s book with verses that rhyme.

We have to do six cruises this year, where we will be collecting and analyzing different data over time. Our first cruise was smooth and cheery, and we could run the experiments without any troubles. The filtered seawater was stored in big glass bottles just like rum, we learnt cool hand gestures to lower sensors deep into the bottom of the sea, and we sail the boat singing and talking about latitudes water salinity. Save for the interesting lessons about phytoplankton and zooplankton, I felt like a real pirate, ready to seek treasures.

The second cruise was a lot rougher; waves after waves splashed, and the cold seawater cut us like tiny glass daggers. However doing field work means that we need to cooperate together as a team and brave the storms; even when we are all dizzy from the sways, we could not shy away from filtering and preserving the chlorophyll samples since they cannot wait. We are still inexperienced, but I really look forward when we work like a well-oiled machine, and the day we can run the ship all by ourselves. At night we still rock from left to right since our bodies still think we are on a boat.

 

Also, my name is Josephine Liang, a junior in Colby. Welcome to my blog and hang on, sailor, we are in for a great journey!

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Sup Fellas

That is short for fellowships, not a retrieval of some archaic slang whether meant ironically or otherwise. I have but one thing on my mind, and it weighs heavy on me every day: the Watson Fellowship.

The Watson Fellowship seems almost too good to be real. What the fellows all have in common is passion – what that passion is per person is almost entirely unique. The Watson Fellowship allows for a year of postgraduate travel. Now, let me be clear: that is a full year of out-of-the-United-States-or-your-native-country travel. Like you are not allowed to come back for 365 days and you are completely cultured and an expert on your topic and have spent all the $25,000 that they gave you.

What I found most surprising about this fellowship is that there really is not an end goal. By that I mean, there’s no massive research paper, no book expected to be produced, no constant conference with babysitters. The product is in fact the Watson fellow, who is supposed to be a person of exceptional promise that will benefit humanity as a result of their growth over their year pursuing their passion.

If ya’ll aren’t intellectually salivating, then I have failed as a writer, because there is no opportunity that rivals this. This fellowship is what academics wish for 3 times when approached by a genie or sign away their health to the devil for.

The reason this is burdening me so is that the campus deadline for over 3000 words of application material is September 28th. Gives me about a week, you know? Because I had been looking at the National Competition deadline in November thinking I was fine. Nah. So I apologize to everyone for being super irritable and self absorbed lately, because I want this and need to figure out how to tell Colby and then hopefully the Foundation that I deserve it (only 4 kids get nominated from each school to enter in to the national considerations, and then only 40 kids are chosen.)

I’ll keep you updated.

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“Einstein Was a Zombie”

“Einstein was a zombie.”

“No, you are obviously thinking of Frankenstein.”

“NO. Einstein was a zombie, and I know it.”

That is the argument I overheard today in the sixth grade classroom I am doing my civic engagement in.  I’m an education minor, so I have to spend a lot of time in local classrooms getting a feel for the classroom setting.  This semester I’m taking the minor’s core class, Teaching for Social Justice.  Basically, we learn some of the ins and outs of being a teacher, as well as methods of teaching such as John Dewey’s progressive education.  This course requires us to spend a minimum of sixty hours in a local classroom this semester acting as an assistant teacher.  I know it sounds like a lot of time, but I can already tell these are going to be some of the most rewarding hours of my semester.

Today was my first day in the classroom.  I’m in a sixth grade classroom in Vassalboro, a pretty farm town about twenty minutes from Colby.  I’m actually working with a teacher who is a family friend, and it’s so neat to be able to have her as a mentor.  She has a bubbly personality that all the kids just adore.  Since today was just my first day in the classroom, I mostly sat and observed the students.  The best part of the day was listening to the conversations the kids had as they worked in groups.  Besides the fantastic Einstein conversation I mentioned earlier, I listened to one boy explain that, “If aliens really existed, they would have already taken us over.  Since they haven’t, they don’t actually exist.”  Later on in science class, a boy raised his hand and asked the teacher, “Why is it called a graduated cylinder?  Does it have a diploma or something?”

These quirky little conversations remind me why I want to be a teacher.  You never know what is going to come out of the kids’ mouths next.  Everyday is a new experience, a new opportunity to inspire a student.  I’m already looking forward to next Wednesday, when I get to see those smiling faces again.

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Computer Science Projects

Last year I took CS151 – the intro computer science class – as sort of a filler class that just happened to fit into my schedule. A year later, I’ve taken three more CS classes, researched CS over the summer, and am trying to fit CS in as a second major. That one class happened to be the coolest class I’ve ever taken, and a huge part of that was the weekly projects that had to be done for it. The way most CS classes are structured consists of homework due every day, a quiz every Friday, and a project due at the beginning of the week. Projects aren’t just some small thing – they are usually equivalent to between 5 and 15 hours of work and turn out to be a pretty massive endeavour.

While you’d probably ask why you’d do that to yourself, it’s actually a ton of fun – I look forward to doing the projects each week and get carried away doing them. I do a lot more than is necessary, not just for the extra points (your grade is determined by how many “extensions” you do – so if you want an A+, you got it – you just need to do a lot of work) but because I love doing it. This week I thought I’d give it a shot to show you some of the cool stuff I do. If anyone wants to see some pictures and a video of programming robot soccer (which I did over the summer, written in C/C++) check out some of my past blog posts. Additionally I think I detailed my interactive digital media class (where we created an interactive tracking system using Csound) in a past post.

We made this in the first few weeks of CS151: (written in Python)

 

L-Systems:

 

My final CS151 3-d project:

 

Some Boolean logic (CS232):

 

Waveforms for another Computer Organization project: (we wrote in VHDL)

 

Some quick Java code from this weeks CS231 lab:

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On Laundry and the Like

With the semester really starting to pick up, I am finding it more and more difficult to do the things that, on paper, don’t really count for much, but are otherwise quite necessary. I feel as if am always l looking for a little slice of time in between homework assignments and my many meetings to do the small things—a slice of time during which I can take care of responsibilities such as laundry and cleaning my dorm room. Getting used to scheduling these things is one of my many challenges of college. Since these things, though not too taxing, generally take time and, because laundry requires you to hang around your dorm room waiting for the process to finish, I have found that I can only really complete these types of tasks at night.

As a natural night owl, I find it easier to just do my laundry, for instance, at 10:00 or 11:00 at night, rather than in the morning or afternoon. There tends to be less of a rush at this time, and I feel more at ease doing laundry and cleaning after I’ve finished my work. Last night, I found the fact that the laundry room is used less during the late evening particularly useful, because now that I live in a smaller dorm (Go-Ho only has one washer and one dryer, compared to the 3 washers and 4 dryers that were in Coburn and Foss, the dorms I lived in my previous two years here), laundry takes longer, because I cannot do two loads at once. Because I live in a single, cleaning my dorm room is not necessarily the first thing on my to-do list—without a roommate, I don’t feel guilty tossing books or clothes on the floor or on surfaces. Thus, I have found that it is useful to do laundry and cleaning all at once.

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