Archives by Month: November 2012

Almost There

So there’s about a million and two things going on now.  And nearly every person I’ve talked to has said something about how they’ve been slammed with work, similar to everyone else they know.  BUT we’re so close to break!  There are a ton of performances and activities going on within the next few days, so that’s helping to take the edge off finals.

Tonight I’m going to see Powder and Wig’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so that should be interesting.  Tomorrow during the day there’s a bunch of holiday stuff going on around campus.  And tomorrow night is the men’s hockey game against Bowdoin – it was even written up in the New York Times (  Sidebar:  I don’t like adhering to the major stereotypes about Minnesota because anytime I say I’m from there, someone goes “Minnesoooooota” and I don’t speak like that (although I appreciate a good Minnesotan accent, don’t get me wrong).  We’ve also established I hate winter and Minnesota is in a winter-y state from essentially October to April.  However, I love a good hockey game.  Plus I actually understand the rules (I don’t understand the rules to football, and no matter how many times it’s explained to me it still perplexes me).  Therefore, I am quite looking forward to the game.

Next Friday is the last day of classes, which will be unemotional for me because I only have one class that morning.  I will miss my W1 class (shoutout to GM120).  Kinda wish I could take W1 again next semester, but I wouldn’t be allowed to.  That night is the “Carols and Lights” service which I’m super excited about because I loved going to the “Lessons & Carols” service we had at my high school.  I think I went to three different carol services last year.  I love Christmas carols.  They were playing in Pulver today and that was fantastic.  Next weekend is Loudness and we have Outasight coming on Saturday – should be an awesome concert.

Then it’s reading period and I have a bunch of stuff to do, but it’s gonna be ok because after that week I can go home!

The little things that made me happy this week:

My roommate told me she brought us Christmas lights – I thought it’d be enough to go across one wall.  No – she had enough lights to go around our entire room.  I vote to keep them up even after Christmas.

I made an ice cream sandwich with SPRINKLES in Bobs the other day.

Full moon

Happy Friday!

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I often like to voice my dislike of structure.  I find myself complaining about strict schedules and how I hate the confinement of routine. Still, there’s one commitment that I’m involved in that actually makes me feel freer.

As a member of the Nordic Ski team at Colby I couldn’t imagine life here without the team. We have a physically and mentally demanding schedule, which some of my friends believe borders on the edge of insanity. Honestly though, I don’t think that anyone on the team would have it any other way.

I was reminded of this over Thanksgiving break. The team spent vacation training in Stoneham, Quebec. Unfortunately there wasn’t much snow there, but we did get to ski on a 2km loop of man-made snow at Foret Montmorency. Although I’d originally been bummed about the lack of snow, I forgot my disappointment as soon as I tucked down the first hill on the loop. Getting on snow again after months of running and rollerskiing is sort of like taking a drink of cool water after being thirsty all day – it’s ridiculously satisfying and you just can’t get enough of it.

Grinning like a fool and practically laughing with happiness as I skied down that hill, I remembered how thankful I am for having the opportunity to ski, to train, and be part of a team. I am thankful for every pre-dawn morning practice, for every time training has left me too sore to walk up the stairs, for every race that I get to compete in, and for every member of the team.

The schedule the team follows is demanding, but it grounds me and makes me feel whole. I’m not sure what my Colby life would be like without the team. I do know that being on the team is not a routine that drains me, but one that keeps me together.


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Some Thoughts on the Semesters

I finished the body of my honors thesis yesterday. Now I just have to write the introduction and a few concluding remarks. That probably sounds backwards, but you actually write those things last for larger projects like theses. The project seemed very intimidating earlier in the semester; I worried that I wouldn’t finish and that I hadn’t gathered enough critical sources. But here I am, almost ready to hand in a full draft of my thesis, and ready to do that earlier than I had planned, too. Some things just have a way of working themselves out.

Progressing this far in my thesis forced me to confront the obvious—that fall semester really is coming to a close. While I’ve finished the bulk of my honors project, I now find myself with a slew of research papers and essays to do. Professors have handed out final paper assignments, exam review sheets, and final project grading rubrics.

But as the fall semester winds down, I can’t help but think about what next semester has in store for me. I will be studying abroad in England (at Oxford’s Worcester College) during the spring semester, so while most students on campus are picking their classes for the spring, I find myself filling out health forms, signing study abroad agreements, getting passport-sized photos taken (if you ever study abroad in England, know that they do love their passport-sized photos. I’ve already sent around 8 or 10 so far, and since I don’t keep these on stock, that has meant quite a few trips to CVS), signing Ethernet agreements for while I’m at Oxford, and reading the “fresher’s pack” that the college sent me “by post” (I find their lingo fascinating and wonderful).

All of this is very exciting, but nerve-wracking, too. I will be traveling with Butler, a study-abroad agency that Colby is connected to, which means that I will be going to England with a group of students from around the area who are also going to Oxford. They offer group trips to explore the area on weekends, and have been helpful in emailing the group little tips about life in England to prepare us for departure. So while it’s a little scary to be leaving the country for the first time, I am confidant that I am in good hands and that I will have a blast there.

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Playing Teacher

A few months ago, I wrote my first blog post on the civic engagement assignment that’s part of my Teaching for Social Justice education course. Today, I spent my second to last day in the sixth grade classroom I have started to call “my classroom.”  Next Wednesday is the last day I will spend with “my” sixth graders, and I don’t even want to think about saying goodbye to them! Even though I’ve only spent a semester with these kids, I feel like I’ve gotten to know them all; each one has his or her own personality or quirk. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be a teacher and watch your students graduate, knowing you probably won’t see most of them ever again.

Over the course of the semester, I have been observing Mrs. Miller to (hopefully) pick up on teaching techniques that either work well in a classroom or do not.  If there is one thing I have learned, it is that no two days as a teacher are the same. Some days the kids are full of energy and eager to learn, and other days it seems like a massive funk has settled over the entire student population. A teacher always has to be on his or her toes; if an activity isn’t working, a teacher has to have an alternative (and sometimes coming up with that alternative is done on the spot).

I guess I have always known that being a teacher won’t be easy, and spending time in Mrs. Miller’s sixth grade classroom has helped me realize just how difficult teaching can be at times. But no worries, the sixth graders have not scared me away from teaching! Someday I will have a room that I can call my classroom; a room where I won’t just be “playing teacher” but will actually be the teacher the students look to to learn.

Until next time,


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Planktons, planktons and planktons

This is gonna be a brief update; my belly’s too full of goodies to tap on computer. Must. Persist. Here’s a picture of me as a pirate. There you go.

The past few weeks have been a frenzy of presentations, lab sessions and counting tiny things in the microscope. The end of times is approaching and it is crazy how little time we have to finish everything, and I welcome Thanksgiving with tears in my eyes.

Bigelow’s main interest lies in the tiniest living things in the oceans: virus, bacteria, phytoplanktons and small zooplanktons. I love zooplanktons the most since they are always so lively and kicking; some of them actually look super scary under the microscopes, staring at you like tiny aliens that will burst through the microscope and snicker at you. Planktons flow with the currents and are drifters, and you probably know them better as the tiny things that rushed by before Dory and Marlin got swallowed by the friendly whale.

Just because they are tiny, it doesn’t mean that they are not important. Phytoplankton provides half of Earth’s oxygen through photosynthesis. Without planktons, they marine ecosystem will collapse and the Earth will heat up like a hot air ballon. Also when you look at the water under microscope, you can no longer see the awesome geometric shapes and intense beauty that is crafted by Mother Earth. It would be a sad, sad world. Also, Bigelow scientists would be out of jobs.

Here’s an awesome website to learn more about planktons called the Plankton Chronicles:

If you are a fan of TED talks, here’s an awesome one:

I am working on a nice long and juicy post for a while, and it will be here soon, I promise! Hang on, sailor!


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Impending Winter, part 2

So I realize that my post last week was fairly dramatic – I got freaked out the first few days it was cold.  But now I’m remembering the fun stuff in winter – that despite the fact that it’s going to be freezing, there’s a ton of stuff to do.

Colby has JanPlan; a few other schools in the Northeast have similar programs.  I recently saw some friends from high school that are at different colleges around the country, and they were all super-jealous of my schedule for the month of January.  I’ll be taking a class called Images of Men and Women in American Film, which only meets 1:30-3:30 Monday through Thursday.  So what will I do with all of my free time??

  1. Read – I say this, but who knows what will happen.  Since I won’t have to be up early every day, maybe I’ll spend the mornings with some cocoa in bed.
  2. Sled – The hill in front of Miller and the hill in front of the chapel (if and when it snows).  I don’t have a sled but I’m sure I’ll be finding myself a cheap one from Walmart soon.
  3. Watch movies and TV – Looking forward to getting some serious work done on my Netflix queue.
  4. Travel – Maybe pop down to Portland or Boston for a weekend and visit some friends or explore the cities more.  Now I know how easy it is to use the busses; I’m keen to get back to Portland to look around the waterfront area.
  5. Take pictures – Still haven’t been to the Arboretum!  Maybe I can get some good snow shots.
  6. Ski – I don’t have my own skis or a car, so if I make it to Sugarloaf or Sunday River it’s going to be a big all-day production.  Hopefully it’ll happen though!
  7. Enjoy Colby – From what I’ve heard, campus gets a lot quieter as upperclassmen can take classes off-campus or not do JanPlan at all.  I like campus when it’s more relaxed, so it’ll be a nice time to embrace being here.

Once JanPlan is over, it’ll really be winter and the start of the spring semester.  That’s exciting stuff because I’ll have all new classes (placement to be confirmed soon) and I’ll probably have to seriously start thinking about what I want to major in, and how that will factor into studying abroad.

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!  Here are some pictures I took earlier this week.  Classic chapel/Miller shots, but they’re quite picturesque so one can never have too many pictures of them.


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My game! – In java

Hey guys

So this past Monday at midnight I had a Computer Science project due. Naturally, I only just finished it. I mean seriously, who cares about deadlines? Well actually, most professors. But the CS department is very different from other ones: there are only three professors who run the entire thing, and my lab professor does an exorbitant amount of work – so usually a project being “due” is pretty much a joke. It’s a little bit of a game among CS students (or maybe that’s just me..) to see how late you can turn in a project. As long as it’s on the server by the time our professor goes to grade it, it’s fine.

Anyways, so I don’t come off as too much of a slacker.. I’ve actually done a ton more on this current project than I needed to at all. I could’ve turned it in on Monday when it was actually due and gotten a good grade, but I got so into it I began to just code my game for fun. Plus, I don’t have Netflix and don’t feel like paying the 8 bucks to only use it for like 5 days over break. It’s really cool to make something yourself from scratch, and even though my project is not advanced at all, I still feel like somewhat of a god when I code. You can do such ridiculously cool things.

I just finished my write-up and put it on the wiki, and I thought I’d copy over some of the gifs and pictures to show you guys. My write-up is wicked wicked long and I could talk to you guys for hours about actually creating my project, but instead I’ll just show you the end result. And if any of you guys are wondering, I wrote this in Java. Keyboard input is used to control the snake.

This looks simple but it actually took hundreds of lines of code and many many hours to do!

I made it look sweeter

Snake died

Obstacles mean death

Parameters changed so more obstacles

I created a spawn space buffer. Exaggerated and demonstrated here

Final thing! Sorta.. it got messed up making the gif so you didn’t see the really cool start screen and game over screen

Screenshot of the intro

12.. I suck

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One Suitcase & a Carry-On

As I was packing for Thanksgiving break today, I couldn’t help but notice the difference between what I was packing this year and what I had packed last year.  Contrasting my one bag from last Thanksgiving break, today I stuffed four totes and two duffel bags of stuff into the surprisingly large trunk of my car. I have started the process of moving out of my dorm room, since I have to move out of my room before I hope across the pond to England.  For me, moving out is a process. I like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t have a lot of stuff, but somehow I always accumulate clothes and coffee mugs and shoes over the course of a semester. I thought it was best if I took a car load of stuff home this break rather than attempt to pack up everything in the middle of December, when we might finally have some snow.

I have two and a half weeks left at Colby after Thanksgiving break, and then it’s time for Winter break, which I will spend packing all over again. I am currently facing one of the biggest difficulties with going abroad: packing for five months in one suitcase and a carry-on. After realizing how many clothes I brought to Colby for 3.5 months of school, I’m starting to worry a little about packing for 5.5 months in one suitcase. I guess I’ll be doing a lot more laundry over there than I do at Colby!

It’s hard to believe that in five weeks I’ll be hopping on a plane to fly across the Atlantic. So many new experiences and adventures await me; now all that’s standing between me and that transatlantic flight is an empty suitcase waiting to be filled.

Here is where I am used to living…

Here is where I will be living in a month…

Until next time,


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My Colby Bucket List

So right now, the end of Colby is unfortunately creeping up very fast. I have about two more weeks on campus, and then the next time I’ll be back I will be a senior and I’ll only have a year left of college life. I’m extremely excited but at the same time totally bummed that my Colby career is coming to an end. It’s been a great three years so far and I would be more than happy to have another three. More than anything, I just don’t feel old enough to graduate and go out into the real world – I definitely consider myself still a kid and not even close to being an adult. Anyways, I’ve vowed to make my last year on campus epic and to do some crazy crazy stuff. I’ll be trying to cram in both of my majors so unfortunately I’ll have a ton of academic stuff to do, but at the same time there are so many awesome events on campus for seniors that we can engage in – it will be especially nice because everyone is almost over 21! I’m definitely looking forward to it. So, without further ado, here is my Colby bucket list:

1.) Go to Montreal for a weekend

This would be so much fun! It would be a sick wintery adventure and a great bonding road trip past the border and into Canada. A ton of Colby kids do this, and we actually tried to go last year but we got mauled by a blizzard and had to turn back. There are so many awesome things to do here – Winter Carnival, skiing, tons of cool cultural things, and a great night life

2.) Spend Spring Break down south with some friends

Already made plans and started to save up for this senior year. We’re either going on a cruise or just spending some time down in the sunny Florida area

3.) Actually experience Doghead

Somehow, I have never actually made this Colby tradition. Freshman year I had mono, last year I was spending the weekend at Sunday River, and this year I’ll be abroad. It’s a little ridiculous, I know, so my first and last Doghead senior year is sure to be awesome. (For those of you who don’t know, Doghead is Colby’s St. Patricks day celebration – we stay up all night and then watch the sunrise)

4.) Spend a bunch of weekends renting out a Sunday River condo

Technically, already done – a bunch. But it will have to happen more.

5.) Win a broomball season

We’ve came close, but as of now no cigar. This season we probably won’t make it, but senior year – it’s happening.

6.) Share a drink with a professor

For some reason I think this would be really, really cool. It’s not that rare so I’m not too worried about crossing this one off.

7.) Swim in Johnson Pond

Okay, security better not read this. There is a massive fine for doing this, and it is highly against Colby rules, but you know, it’s college. It’s the perfect time for doing stupid stuff. (Not really, we’re pretty responsible! Sometimes.)

8.) Get a legit internship before I graduate

This may or may not happen. Definitely will be the hardest thing to cross off. I guess my Research Assistant position here at Colby last summer – working to program robot soccer – was pretty close to this but I’ve always wanted to spend a summer in D.C or New York City working for a big company or government agency. It would look great on my resume and I really want to do it. Only problem is, I’m abroad for a ton of the summer.

9.) Go on a spontaneous last minute road trip

It’s happened before, but definitely has to happen again.

10.) Get a senior apartment or AMS quad

Room draw with a proxy will be interesting.

10.) Religiously attend pub night

I don’t think I have to worry about this one.

11.) Get a job

The thought of this is scary. I don’t even want to think about it.

12.) Graduate



See you next week!


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Energy for Change

You know how you can tell when something is going to be successful? It’s got a certain energy and drive that tells you that it will work out.

I felt this type of energy at a recent event about fighting climate change. It was Bill McKibben’s ‘Do the Math’ tour on the climate threat posed by fossil fuels. As I sat with the 1,300 other cheering people in the audience, I realized that the intensity I felt filling the theater could be turned into real action.

Several of us from Colby and hundreds of other college students from across Maine were part of the crowd. This talk in Portland last Tuesday was only one stop in part of the nation-wide tour that McKibben and are making to raise awareness and spark actions across the country.

The message: the amount of oil, coal, and gas that the fossil fuel industry is prepared to burn would release five times more CO2 into the atmosphere than is sustainable.

The goal: to get people to rally behind the idea of turning to clean energy now and keeping those fossil fuels in the ground.

The science behind this information is too convincing to ignore. If we burn all of the fossil fuels that we have at our disposal, our climate will become extremely erratic. The human cost of inaction will be incredible – lives will be lost to storms, famine, and disease that will become prevalent.

This is something that we simply should not stand for. We should fight for a different future. We owe it to ourselves and to the rest of the world to do all in our power to keep our climate from becoming our enemy.

The energy I felt in the audience was an energy fueled by outrage, but also fueled by hope. As the cheering crowd got to their feet to show their commitment to the cause, I couldn’t help but feel like we might be getting somewhere.

Here’s more on climate math by Bill McKibben:

Alice H

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