Category Archives: The Spring Semester ’07

The Last Day

I am done! Finished! Friday is being spent packing and preparing to go home, from selling back books to helping my roommate pack. This was definitely the hardest semester of Cornell so far. Sophomore slumps are real. Cornell definitely tries your resolve. Punches it, kicks it, knocks it down, and when you finally get an A on a test and think you’re back on your feet you get whacked in the face again and fall back down only to hope you can pick yourself back up and wipe the dust of your clothes when you finally see your grades in June. I’ve never been owned by a test before, never felt so utterly hopeless afterwards, never had my brain feel so confused not during but after the test, and never felt so excited to be finished – excited because it was the last final of the hardest semester in my academic career and all the other feelings because the Multivariate Statistics final that was my last one this year was so confusing and hard and weird I was speechless after I walked out and could only listen in relief to my other classmates’ confusion as well. I’ve never had a math final with NO numbers or problems whatsoever and only hypothetical questions with terms I had never heard in that class before.

But anyways, it is over, finished, completed, never to be taken again (knock on wood). Despite what I said above, I am excited for the summer ahead and going to Washington, DC in the fall. Thank you all for reading this blog and thank you to those who comment on my blogs. Hopefully, we will meet again here next fall and to those of you coming to Cornell in 2007, Congratulations! It’ll be a blast.

Cornell and The Office

Once again on The Office, Cornell University was mentioned. Fictitious Andy Bernard, an employee in the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch, went to Cornell and in this past episode he was a candidate for taking over the position of manager of the Scranton branch held currently by Michael Scott (Steve Carell). The quote that deserves so much attention:

Michael Scott: The pros about Andy…he went to Cornell.

Booh yah!!!!! He went to Cornell. Despite how bad finals week can be that certainly makes it better. Well, at least for a day.

Study week or study break

This past Friday marked the end of classes, which means slope day, dodgeball, and study week. Study week lasts from this past Monday to today, Wednesday in which there are no classes and no finals and all the time to study for them. Problem is (or it could be a good thing), I think there are more study break events in this time period than actual blocks of hours to study. I’ve received three e-mails inviting me to five or six study break socials. I went to one on Tuesday night after a disappointing Nets loss in my residential advisor’s room. On Monday a group of tour guides, including myself, went to Rochester to watch the Minnesota Twins’ AAA team face a dominant Toledo Mud Hens team that is the AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. On that same day, the Class of 2009 was having a study break picnic out in the Arts Quad. Today there is another study break where hot food will be served in our house professor’s apartment. On Thursday there will be free 10 minute massages given by certified masseuses (count me in for that one), and friday, a lawn bowling tournament outside the residential hall. And it keeps going on for the next week. In all honesty, if someone went to all the study break activities going on during the finals weeks they would never get anything done. So for all the critics who say Cornell is a giant place to stress about your grades and future life (which I have done many times) there is an escape if you wish to take it…and, as a result, possibly fail all your finals.

Where the Money Lies

I just wanted to give a tip of my hat to my friend Cesar who was successful in his quest for getting on the Student Assemblies Financial Committee (SAFC). It was a grueling interview process that lasted an hour. The hour was split up into two 30 minute periods where he was placed in front of 10 or so Student Assembly members who rapid-fired questions at him.

I mention this not just because he was successful in accomplishing an extremely difficult task, but also because the SAFC is the power behind the SA. They deal with the money – its distribution, handling, etc. Think of them as the Ways and Means Committee of the United States government. Once again, congrats to Cesar and if those of you reading this are interested in becoming involved in student government, it’s not a popularity contest like in high school (or at least not as drastic as it is in high school) and you can be in charge of some really important responsibilities. I am not a fan of the SA in any way for numerous reasons, some mentioned on my blog, but it is still an influential group to be a part of.

The Weekend Recap

Aside from watching the Nets and Rangers win, this weekend was quite an exciting and fun one. The tour guide softball team almost won their playoff game against the Cornell fitness club in which with runners on second and third and two outs I grounded out to third base. The speech team had our end of the year banquet. I was fortunate enough to go to a Chorale concert, which a couple of my friends are in. Chorale is the Cornell chamber choir, which I’ve always described as Christmas carolers on steroids not singing Christmas music. I attended Inherit the Wind at the Schwartz Center. It was a well produced play that included several Cornell students and several other prominent actors. The two lawyers were played by one person who was in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and in a couple of movies (I threw out the program) and another who was in Law and Order, Six Feet Under, and all these other tv shows. So if you’re thinking of being part of Cornell performing arts, these are people you will be performing with in front of a sold-out 600 person auditorium.

For non NY Giants fans and those who just want to know what life at Cornell is like, you can stop reading here.

The other event that occurred this past weekend… the 2007 NFL Draft. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN gave the Giants a C- on their pick selection (which at Harvard would be inflated to a B+…j/k, cough, cough). I was a little surprised though for such a low grade seeing that our needs at CB and WR were filled by talented, proven players. Then I saw no team got an A- or better and only two got a B+, so suddenly the C- didn’t feel like the Giants had just been put on academic probation. Now I’m a Michigan fan so I always hope the Giants draft players from Ann Arbor, but this year the one pick that jumps out is Zak DeOssie, a linebacker from Brown. I mention him because like Cornell alum, Kevin Boothe, who did it last year (drafted in 2006 by the Raiders in the 6th round) he was the only Ivy Leaguer taken in the NFL draft in an individual year. The report on him is that he is a great special teams player and long snapper, and has the potential to be a very good starting linebacker given some time. It will be interesting to watch his progression. Finally, like every season (even when Dave Brown was QB), I predict the Giants to go to the NFC championship game.

Back form GA

I arrived back in Ithaca on Tuesday afternoon. Fortunately enough, I didn’t fall too far behind in class work since there was a lot of downtime during the tournament. Being in the south for a week was an experience I had never been a part of before. Every word had 3 more syllables than it should. People were so polite; I felt rude even when I said please and thank you. I saw one guy walk out of his house and up his driveway wearing a camouflage hunting suit to pick up the newspaper and look at his giant Confederate flag smack in the middle of his front yard. I went into a Wendy’s and spoke too fast. The cashier missed two parts of my four part order from the $.99 menu. When she read it back so as to make sure she hadn’t missed anything I couldn’t understand what she was saying and I just said yes. When the total popped up as a little over two dollars I knew something was wrong and pointed out the other items I wanted. She must’ve been thinking, “Damn Yankee.” I went to a Catholic mass and for the first time heard a sermon defending the Catholic doctrine and beliefs. I guess Catholics aren’t too welcomed in the south. Nonetheless, the week in Georgia was quite an interesting and enjoyable time. I didn’t make it to the quarterfinals, but did learn what the judges are looking for so that next year I expect to break to the out rounds (quarterfinals, semifinals, etc.).

Famousr? (sic)

I’m in Georgia now and I had such a huge chunk of time during the tournament today that I did a rough draft of my paper and afterwords my speech coach told me about this website where you have to pick whose more famous from a choice of two people. I’ve come to the conclusion that Tom Cruise is the most famous on this website.

I challenge anyone to find someone more famous.

I Saw the Conservative Guy who Sat Next to the Other Conservative Guy who Always Wore the Bowtie on CNN’s Crossfire (aka Robert Novak)

Jon Stewart calls Robert Novak the D****bag of Liberty, Enemy of American democracy, a 115-year-old vampire demon, and my favorite, I sincerely believe you’re a terrible person. So who is he (besides what the title says)?

Robert Novak is a conservative journalist who, as I mentioned above, was on CNN’s Crossfire when the show was on the air and started a conservative newspaper that reports about the news on the Hill. He also makes appearances on the Capital Gang on CNN as well as represents the right side on Meet the Press and is a political analyst on Fox News (I feel so much pain when I write those two words).

Novak came to Cornell and talked about the well-being of the Republican Party as well as the outlook of the 2008 election, and, in my opinion, to plug his book that will be released in the near future. He mentioned his opinions on why the Democratic nominees are weak, why the Republicans need leaders like Ronald Reagan, and what the Republican party needs to do to regain the majority. None of what he said was out of the ordinary. I could’ve turned on NBC and heard Tim Russert say the same things.

What is interesting is the comparison between Helen Thomas and Robert Novak, two journalists, one conservative, one liberal, both of whom paid a visit to Cornell. Albeit, Helen Thomas is the George Washington of White House Press reporters and I do not actually believe Novak is part of the White House Press Corps. Nonetheless, they are both political journalists. Here’s the difference between the two:

Helen Thomas sees the glass half full=> the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech is what makes America’s democracy different from that of a monarchy. The press has a responsibility to ask tough questions to the President. The Government inherently wants to improve the nation. Entitlements like Medicare, social security, and welfare are necessary.

Robert Novak as he himself said tonight sees the glass half empty=> He’s a starve the beaster, which means little government as possible and you do that by tax cuts to decrease government funds and therefore services like education, healthcare, Medicaid, Medicare, and social security. His nickname is the Prince of Darkness for a reason. His two favorite presidents of the 20th century are Reagan and Coolidge (the same Coolidge who led the country into the Great Depression), his three least favorites, Johnson, Nixon, and Carter.

One thing they both agree on, the US should be a diplomatic force in world affairs not a militarily aggressive one.

To recap: Robert Novak came to Cornell. Was it a memorable experience? No. Will I forget what he said? Yes because I can hear it on any tv news station, with the exception of his two favorite presidents. The second one still baffles me.

Speech Competition- Nationals

On Wednesday I’ll be leaving to go down to Rome, Georgia to compete in the National Championships for the Cornell Speech Team. It should be quite an experience. It’s five days long so there will be quite a lot of downtime to work on class assignments and the like, which is good since I’ll be missing four days of classes.

Otherwise, tomorrow I plan to attend a guest speech by Robert Novak who is a Republican strategist and pundit. He was on CNN’s Crossfire back when the show was still on the air. This should be interesting since I’ve never really gotten to hear, in-person, someone talk as a representative of the Republican Party.

As for the Virginia Tech shootings, it is shocking and was certainly part of the campus dialogue today. I think it hits home a little closer to us, at least with me, being that we’re college students. These people were our peers, our age and when they were reporting that the first shootings occurred in a residential hall, I could only think of Becker House or Mews Hall, the places where I lived. And with the second set of shootings that took place in an engineering building, I could only think of Duffield Hall here at Cornell and my friends that are engineers.

Ode to Kurt Vonnegut Jr. ’44

The ‘44 should have an asterisk since he didn’t actually graduate from Cornell, but dropped out and joined the military during World War II. Nonetheless, THE Kurt Vonnegut, the Mark Twain of today, a Cornell and Cornell Daily Sun (our newspaper) alum, passed away on Wednesday night in Manhattan at an age of 84. His novel, Slaughterhouse V, which was one of a few books I enjoyed reading for my high school English classes was inspired by Vonnegut’s experiences during World War II when he was in a German prison camp near Dresden during the time of its fire bombing by the Allies. The Cornell Daily Sun handled Vonnegut’s death very well through its Thursday and Friday editions, both of which honored his achievements (later issues will continue to do so). In addition, the front page, which usually has a red pinstripe to separate the header from the front page, was black on Friday. It doesn’t seem like much, but it definitely created a feeling that words would not have been able to describe.

“I was happiest when I was all alone – and it was very late at night, and I was walking up the hill after having helped to put The Sun to bed. … I am an atheist, as some of you have gleaned from my writings. But I have to tell you that, as I trudged up the hill so late at night and all alone, I knew that God Almighty approved of me.” – Kurt Vonnegut ‘44