Oh the Poetry!

The entire summer going into senior year was dedicated to doing anything I could to help get Barack Obama elected President of the United States. It was also a time in which I spent many hours in front of the tv watching Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Brian Williams, and the crying Brit Hume (though that was on election night). During these countless hours following the campaign and the many weeks volunteering for Obama’s campaign the name and the man David Plouffe kept appearing, whether it be in emails I received, on television/radio interviews, over the cell phone one time.

I always knew him for his genius, original, and out-of-the-box strategy of how to conduct a political campaign. Well, that, and for his reputation of having a sailor’s mouth when not on camera. I was obsessed with how he devised his strategy of winning the Democratic primary and how he gelled so well with Barack Obama’s pragmatic idealism. Therefore, it could not have been more exciting to be notified via email that he will be the convocation speaker for the Cornell Class of 2009! How fitting! My last day (well technically second to last, since convocation is held the night before graduation) will be used listening to the campaign manager that transformed how political campaigns are run! Forget the movement that Obama created. Plouffe erased the entire political strategy book and wrote a new one over the course of a year and a half. Like what Herb Brooks did to the USSR in the 1980 Olympic Games, Plouffe took the Republican’s game, gave it a face lift and put it on steroids, then threw it right back in their face. He used math, spreadsheets, formulas, and didn’t forget the human intuition to help bring Change into the White House. Oh baby, am I excited to hear him speak!

Rip Van Winkle

It’s almost as if I went to sleep and woke up 20 years later. For the first time in my Cornell career I got sick. This wasn’t the cough and need tissues sick. This was a stomach virus sick. Apparently it’s going around campus. From Tuesday night until early afternoon Saturday (though technically my stomach is still recovering even though the rest of my symptoms are gone) I was victimized by a fever, sore head, dehydration, stomach cramps, chills, and diarrhea. A visit to Gannett took place; so did nights of 12-15 hour periods of sleep. Wednesday was like walking in a fog and going nowhere. Thursday was sleeping all day. Friday was missing one class and tirelessly navigating my way through the last two. Saturday I could see and eventually got to the light.

I mention this experience because for the three weekdays and one weekend day I was inactive, on the DL, it felt as though I missed 20 years of things to do, and unfortunately, twice, missed out on my last opportunity to attend an event as a Cornellian.

Going into my sickness, feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had surfaced on campus with a non-human protest using black flags was sponsored and created by the Islamic Alliance for Justice, which elicited a response of vandalism by certain individuals, a condemnation of that vandalism by President Skorton, and a statement by a couple of Jewish student groups saying they condemned the actions, but also protested against the protest. I was skeptical my generation could be the one to make progress and inherently change the course of violence when as far away as Cornell, students in their ivory tower up on the hill couldn’t get past a protest and a “misrepresentation of numbers”. (When it comes to violence, there are no right numbers.) During my five days away, apparently there had been an about face. One panel discussion that took place on Wednesday, which turned into trench warfare with professors taking sides and another on Thursday, which represented all the characteristics of a higher education: enlightened discourse, stating actions, intentions, and goals of each side, what is to come, and what possible answers to the problem are. Basically, elitism at its finest. So now waking up from my sickly slumber I again feel hopeful…until I read on BBC that Benjamin Netanyahu has been asked to lead Israel’s government. C’mon Israel are you serious! Again, picking him again! You’d think the corruption scandals were enough to do in his political career. That’s like us saying well the economy is really bad, lets vote for George Bush and give him another try; there are other political opportunities out there (read Tzipi Livni) but we’ll just elect someone who already tried…and failed. Unless Barack Obama is God, I think I’ll choose my 20 year nap again.

As if Israel and Palestine and Cornell Hillel and Islamic Alliance for Justice weren’t enough I also missed two hockey games (one being senior night, which means a lot to me since I’m a senior), A Capella Night Live, the play The History Boys, and the Ithaca Chili Cook-off (this was the last chance for me to do this). Oh and skiing too. Inactive for five days felt like missing one month…or 20 years…and in reality, three blog posts. Hopefully this one made up for it.

I’m Certified!

All those who are teachers or have family members who are teachers know that if you want to teach at a public school you need to past the PRAXIS test. Another one of those stupid tests created by the ETS.

In order to teach high school/middle school social studies in North Carolina I needed a 320 combined score on the Social Studies Content Knowledge and Social Studies Pedagogy tests. Well $280, countless hours of studying, another hour waiting for the test to begin, and an additional three actually taking the test later, I passed (with a score of 350)! In fact, yours truly is so knowledgeable about social studies that an ETS certification of excellence was given to me for such a high score. Too bad it doesn’t count the same as being on the dean’s list. As for pedagogy, not so hot, but still enough to pass. My score was equivalent to the bottom half of the national average. So better than at least 30% of test takers. Hopefully that doesn’t mean I’ll only be better than 30% of all teachers. I’ll just focus on the good part…I passed! 

A Kind Word from Mike Huckabee

Cornell alum Ann Coulter made an appearance on Mike Huckabee’s show this past month. The topic of Cornell came up, and Mike Huckabee used his experience in Ithaca to give some praise to the university. Cornell was one of the most respectful audiences he had given a speech at is the rough paraphrase of his quote. I think that feeling, coming from Mike Huckabee, speaks a lot about Cornell’s ability to hear and understand the other’s side despite the bastion of liberalism that is this university. The fact that Mike Huckabee is one of the more moderate Christian conservatives, helped his likability no doubt.

So to all the conservatives thinking of applying to Cornell, Mike Huckabee came to Ithaca, survived Ithaca, and enjoyed surviving Ithaca. If Huckabee can do it, so can you.

A Fun Quiz

There are very few times in which a quiz/test/exam is bearable to study for. It’s even rarer to describe studying for a quiz as fun, but for my Politics of Violence in 20th Century Europe course, that’s exactly the description warranted for an upcoming geography quiz this Friday. It’s worth 10% of my grade and involves memorization, but is extremely useful and very necessary. I have to know the geographic locations of 47 European countries, those countries capitals, the 27 countries that comprise the European Union, and the map of 1914 Europe.

I’ve actually enjoyed studying for this quiz. Proof: Capital of Montenegro–>Podgorica, Capital of Macedonia–>Skopje. It’s rare to enjoy studying for a quiz; it’s rarer to enjoy doing it during second semester senior year. I think I picked the right class to take. Consider this a recommendation to take Gov 271 when you come to Cornell.

Post Super Bowl Office

It would be hard to find a funnier episode of the Office than the one that aired after the Super Bowl last night, “Stress Relief”. The fully developed story lines, the one liners, and the extreme hilarity paralleled with serious, compassionate events made this episode one to remember. Lines like Andy’s, “The fire! It’s shooting at us,” or Pam’s, “If it were an iPod it would be a Shuffle” are etched into my memory as solidly as Santonio Holmes’ game winning catch (don’t fall into the hype, this super bowl was not as good as last years, sloppier play and an insane number of penalties as two reasons being why), but one line, one of little more obscurity is very relatable and relevant to Cornell students.

Michael comes in after taking a “personnel” (read personal) day. He finally gains his composure to roast his fellow colleagues, and when it comes Andy’s turn he announces, “Hey Andy, Cornell called and they said you suck! Bam roasted.” It’s incredibly funny, just as funny as any other of Michael Scott’s roast remarks during that scene, but whether the writers knew it or not, they took a cheer (better word would be insult) from the Lynah Faithful’s repertoire implemented during hockey games. It goes as follows, one person shouts “Hey Sieve, your mom called and she said…” then everyone yells “…you suck!” This is one in a series of you suck chants (sieve refers to the goalie, in all honesty I didn’t know what a sieve was until I got to Cornell), so the next one could be (if we were playing Brown), “Hey sieve, the state of Rhode Island called and they said…you suck!” It gets more creative as the person goes down in the series, and they’re not all set, so different teams warrant different “you suck” phrases and if a different person does it at two different games, it’s more than likely the chants will be different. Regardless, Michael Scott is more than welcome to join the Lynah Faithful to cheer on our hockey team! He showed his worth last night by insulting Cornell’s own, Andy Bernard.