July

Our only full month of summer.  Our only full month of ridiculous adventures, which this month included hiking, biking, hockey, a play, and klezmer music.

I found out that biking to my church was actually not too far, and proceeded to bike to church on and off for the rest of the summer.  It was nice to use my bike for transportation instead of just recreation.  Not having a car easily available for the summer meant my roommate and I did a lot of biking, as well as bus riding and walking.  Our latest record is just over 13 miles, which we hiked near the end of the month on the Cayuga Trail.  I take responsibility for coming up with the idea, but my roommate agreed to it.

We set out early on a Saturday morning because we weren’t sure how long it would take us to hike the 8.5 mile trail and get back to our apartment.  The first part of the trail winds through campus and the Plantations before continuing on its journey up Fall Creek.  We picked a horribly humid, hot, and mosquito-ridden day to hike, and I had a wonderful time.  If you’re looking for scenic vistas and thundering waterfalls, you’re not going to get them on the Cayuga Trail.  If you’re interested in a nice walk through forests next to a creek in the Finger Lakes region, hike the Cayuga Trail.

Bluffs along the Cayuga Trail

Bluffs along the Cayuga Trail

We had been at the Plantations (the Arboretum) earlier in the summer for Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, put on by the Ithaca Shakespeare Company.  Student tickets on a Thursday night were only five dollars.  (If I remember correctly, the only two activities my roommate and I paid for all summer, excepting a couple meals out, were the Museum of the Earth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.)  I’ve read A Midsummer Night’s Dream before so I could follow the play.  It was fun and entertaining, and the only complaint I have is against the sound.  Having experience working sound as well as having spent over a decade in band, I can probably hear funny noises in the system and out of tune notes better than the average person, but this wasn’t even a fine tuning problem.  The system was just flat out not picking up the actors’ voices very well.  Not a deal breaker, but it was definitely distracting to the performance.

One of our other performances of the month was a (free) concert by the Klez Project at the Schwartz Center.  My roommate, friend, and I were in the, shall we say, younger portion of the audience.  I happen to enjoy klezmer music, but I can also sit through hour-long classical epics and country music, so judge my musical taste as you see fit.

Finally, hockey in summer?  Indeed.  For one weekend only, the pep band appeared at summer hockey games – an alumni game and a charity game.  It was disconcerting to leave Lynah in shorts when it was still bright, but we coped.  Because hockey.

June

When I last left off, it was spring and I was taking too many classes, but at least it was moderately warm and sunny.  Now it’s cold, wet, grey, and miserable.  Back in June, I spent the first portion of the month at home before returning to Ithaca for research and unassociated shenanigans.  At home, I managed to go kayaking four times in the span of eight days, twice on lakes and twice on the river.  I’m not a huge watersports person, but I liked my sailing class well enough, and I enjoy kayaking.

When I returned to Ithaca and moved into my apartment, I discovered that my roommates had already achieved the accomplishment of watching the entire first two seasons of The Walking Dead.  However, when we weren’t watching zombies being shot and hacked at, we did all the things there are to do in Ithaca in the summer.  Which was more than watch The Walking Dead.  Which we may also have watched the next two seasons of.

We hiked at Buttermilk Falls, Taughannock Falls, and Lick Brook Falls.  We visited the Museum of the Earth, went to a free concert on the arts quad, and climbed up the 161 steps to the top of the clock tower.  And we went to work during the week and returned to the apartment at night to make dinner and watch The Walking Dead.

Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls

At this point of my career at Cornell, I’ve hiked pretty much everything there is to hike in Ithaca.  Over the summer, though, I made my first visit to Lick Brook Falls.  It was quite an experience, and not just because it was a first time visit (Buttermilk and Taughannock were both repeat hikes).  My roommate and I, among other things, ran across a road, bushwhacked down a very steep slope, leapt across a stream, saw a snake, and missed our bus, resulting in us walking four miles to Wegmans.  If you’ve ever heard of the types of fun, I thought it was type I fun except for having to walk next to cars on the highway.  And even that didn’t exactly suck.  It just wasn’t very fun.

Lick Brook Falls

Lick Brook Falls

We actually ended up at Lick Brook because it had rained the day before, when we had spent a few hours at the Museum of the Earth.  It’s a nice place, well organized, and small enough so that you can see everything, but large enough that you’re not reading when each piece of rock was transported to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.  The Museum of the Earth has fossils arranged in chronological order.  There are trilobites.  Lots of trilobites.  The museum wasn’t something we had to see in the summer, but it was a good way to spend a rainy Saturday, plus all the rain was what brought us to Lick Brook the next day – it’s best viewed after rainfall.

Museum of the Earth

Museum of the Earth

If a museum isn’t a typical summer activity (at least not when the weather’s nice), the concert on the arts quad was quintessential summer in Ithaca.  While the band played folk bluegrass or something like that, families sat on lush green grass on lawn chairs as the sun set in the distance, and my roommate and I played Frisbee until it got too dark to see.  We saw a lot of sunsets over the summer, the sky flaming orange and pink before fading to black.  We did not, however, see those sunsets either time we visited the clock tower for chimes concerts.  But still, the view’s okay.

View from the top of the clock tower

View from the top of the clock tower

And that was just the start of summer.  The adventures would continue until the start of the new semester, at which point I would trade one kind of craziness for another.  But back in June, things were pretty good, and we still had two months before fall semester.

The Last Two Weeks and Prelim Woes

Since my last post, I’ve taken my final three prelims of the semester, (mostly) completed the last two experiments for orgo lab, and turned in three problem sets and two critiques in the two days before Thanksgiving break.  I managed to take six out of my seven prelims on left-handed desks, but for the final prelim of the semester, we were kicked out of our own building by a CS class (CS 3110).  Not cool.  The class had to split up into two smaller rooms with a shortage (though not a complete and utter lack) of left-handed desks and by the time I got to the prelim room, there were people sitting next to all the left-handed desks.

It wasn’t the worst room I’ve taken a prelim in; that honor goes to Call Auditorium.  The desks are approximately the size of four postage stamps and at any given time someone is lunging for their test because their desk has fallen down.  Again.  I mean, why would anyone even think about making a desk that stays horizontal?  That’s so 1950s.  Now we have hover paper and mind outlets where you don’t need to write with your hands; you just think and the words appear on the paper.  Oh, wait.  We don’t.

I do have a funny story about another prelim in a large auditorium.  I think it was my first differential equations prelim and I had settled in and was waiting for the test to be passed out.  As it got nearer to the start time for the prelim, people were still coming in and having trouble finding seats.  Since the prelim was scheduled to start in just a few minutes, the TAs started handing out exam booklets.  Some people near the front started to get confused, which was when the mystery of the missing seats was solved.  There were students from two different classes in the auditorium.  Either Cornell double booked the auditorium or someone made a mistake.  And I don’t think it was the engineers, because we actually needed a room that size.  The other class was an ILR class with three a few dozen people in it.

And now that I’ve discussed just a few of the horrible things that can happen during a prelim (I’ve got plenty more, including the time we listened to pipes clanking and hissing for ninety minutes straight and the time we were sent to the wrong prelim room.) here are some pictures of the current snow:

That’s the same waterfall from my last post.