Most years I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I’m not going to either.  Instead, to mark the end of one year and the beginning of another, here’s a list of 8 things I’m thankful for in 2013.  [And maybe later I’ll make a 4th of July resolution and have a Valentine’s Day egg hunt.]

1. Surviving my first year and a half of college.  I could say that after a rocky start it’s been smooth sailing, but I would be lying.  Every semester presents its own challenges, some of which start with M and end with -athematica.

2. Office hours.  My favorite place to wrangle answers out of the TAs enhance my knowledge of such subjects as Fourier series, the Schrodinger equation, and much more fun.  Seriously, though.  I’ve gotten a fair number of homework assignments done at office hours thanks to TAs and other students.

3. Camping.  Last summer my family went to Acadia National Park for vacation and camped for most of a week.  Not only do I voluntarily sleep on the ground, freeze, haul water, and get bug bites, but I also enjoy all of it.  Except maybe the bug bites.

4. Hiking.  Dirt, sweat, and more bugs.  What more could I ask for?

4b.  Also, trees and grass.  I was never more thrilled to be heading back to Ithaca than after visiting New York City over Thanksgiving weekend.

5. Hezekiah.  For those who haven’t been introduced, Hezekiah is my clarinet.  We’ve been through a lot together in the past seven or so years.  We’ve been to a districts concert, Madison Square Garden, NCAA playoff games, and a whole lot of other pep band events.  I’m glad we’ve gotten to experience so much together.

6. Peanut butter.  One of my favorite foods.

7. Spending Christmas with my family.  We didn’t have any “big” plans for Christmas day, so we went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in the theaters.  I really liked it, but I’m not a Tolkien purist.  The only thing I could do without is the 300 foot falls that don’t seem to hurt anybody.  Apparently gravity works differently in Middle Earth.

8. Family and friends.  Things tend to be much less terrible when you have fellow sufferers.

The Finals Countdown

I have actually been done taking finals since last Friday, but I have one last assignment to complete before I can leave for break.  In the meantime, I’ve been going bouldering, baking, making Star Wars snowflakes, wandering aimlessly around campus . . . in short, everything I haven’t had time to do this semester.

We’ve had a fair amount of snow accumulation, about half a foot or so over three or four days.  Yesterday it snowed again.  Today it’s almost 40 degrees outside.  Whatever, Ithaca.

The engineering quad last weekend.

The slope this morning (first blue sky in a week)

I attempted unsupervised baking for the first time last week, which involved a total of four ingredients, one of which was water.  The other three were flour, butter, and cheese.  I had to hand grate the cheese.  Using a peeler.  Last night I expanded my ingredients list to include sugar, cinnamon, and apples, and made mini apple pies in my muffin tin with a friend.

And the other day I spent one and a half hours cutting out a Star Wars snowflake.  It was completely worth the time and effort.

Given that this is a Star Wars snowflake, what is it a snowflake of?  Do not say a house.

Credit to for the pattern

When I first came to Cornell last year, seniors were telling me how each semester goes by faster than the last.   It was just one of those things that they said, and I’d go, “Yeah, sure, and when am I going to be done with my writing seminar?”  Well, so far it’s true.  I wouldn’t say my first semester dragged on forever (obviously it didn’t last forever) but compared to the past four months, it was long.  It doesn’t feel like I’ve been at Cornell for another semester, but I guess I have.  And it was busy.  It was crazy.  But it was also a whole lot of fun.

So I guess I’m saying that you can – and should – enjoy college (yes, even if you are an engineer).  Happy holidays, everyone!  Don’t worry, I will be back.

Thanksgiving Break (part 2, Madison Square Garden)

So I have apparently now been to the World’s Most Famous Arena, at least according to all the signs plastered around MSG (Madison Square Garden, not monosodium glutamate).  The story behind this trip is that over Thanksgiving break, the men’s hockey team plays a game at Madison Square Garden.  Since the pep band plays at almost all the men’s hockey games and I was abandoned stuck in Ithaca for the break, I went to MSG with the band for the game.

Unlike our absurdly early departure for an afternoon lacrosse game in Maryland last year (it was an NCAA playoff game, which is why we went), we left for New York City around 10:30 in the morning.  Five hours later, we were dropped off next to Times Square.  We were actually early, so we took a walk to see the tree at Rockefeller Center.  It was incredibly crowded, and I say that having been to New York City before.  So after struggling through the crowds to Rockefeller Center, the tree was there, but it wasn’t lit.  Basically we walked however many blocks to see a dying version of something I can see from either my dorm or bedroom window.

We then walked back to where we had been dropped off to meet the bus at the bowling alley where some alumni wanted us to play a few songs.  They fed us dinner, so it was worth it.  There was a picture of the band that made it to the Cornell Chronicle.  My clarinet and right leg made an appearance (far right side of the picture).

After the food and mini-concert, we made the trek to MSG by foot, all ten or so blocks.  Someone explain to me why people see fifty people with instruments, walk into the middle of the group and stop, and then get confused if they get touched by anyone or anything.  We eventually made it to MSG, were allowed inside, played the Alma Mater for another pre-game event, and found our seats.  We were seated in the second level, close enough to see the puck on the ice, but getting far away enough to feel somewhere removed from the action.

As for the game itself, it was really cool to be playing at MSG, but there was a disappointing ending: Cornell lost 3-2 to Boston University.

Second period.  Of especial note: the at least half empty BU section on the side of the rink opposite from us.  The corresponding Cornell section was below us, and it was full.

It was still fun, and I’d do it again, but at the end of the trip, I couldn’t wait to get back to Ithaca.  Where I had two problem sets, a project, an essay, and two finals awaiting me to be completed in the span of two weeks.  Such is the life of an engineer.