Spring is here!

Correction: Spring semester is here.  Spring is most definitely not here.  See the picture below that I took last May February.

So I’m back in the miserable wasteland fun town known as Ithaca, and I’ve survived my first week of interesting, exciting classes that I need to take to graduate.  They’re mostly ChemE classes, taken with the same one hundred people I’ve been taking classes with for the past two and a half years.

As my college career has progressed, my standards for the definition of success have varied drastically.  Take, for instance, the following:

Most freshman engineers start out taking either the second semester of single variable calculus or multivariable calculus.  As a kind of “welcome to Cornell” gift, both of those math classes are curved to a B.  Minus.*  That means that if you do average on everything, all you get for your efforts is a B minus.  I managed to get exactly zero points for an entire question on the second prelim, which set me back one-sixth of the points without even accounting for mistakes I made on the other parts of the test.  I studied hours for the final, and judging by my final grade, I did a lot better on the final than the second prelim.

Spring semester of freshman year, I started rock climbing, and progressed from struggling up the wall using any of the holds to struggling up the wall on routes.  Now I can also climb some of the problems at the bouldering wall.  So there’s been improvement there.

Then there’s this semester.  So far I’ve been present when the Cornell men’s hockey team beat Harvard 3-2 with 40.5 seconds remaining in the third period.  I tried to read one of my textbooks.  I later gave up after five pages, but it’s the thought that counts, right?  I took care of swim test and timecard logistics and returned library books all in one morning.  In four hours of ChemE work, we did most of not just one, but two assignments, and got one of the questions right on the first try.

And finally, I have not yet shown up to class in my very fashionable pajamas with penguins on them.

*I’ve never had this definitively confirmed, but based on peoples’ general performance, I can believe it.

Radical Reels

A couple weeks Some time ago, I had the opportunity (finally) to attend the Radical Reels film festival.  Cornell has been a venue for Radical Reels all three years I’ve been a student here, but this year was the year I decided I would go, even if I did have prelims on the evenings directly before and after.  Thanks to my West Campus house, I managed to secure a free ticket, though after getting to see this year’s show, I would pay for a ticket myself if I couldn’t convince someone else to buy one for me.  This is the equivalent of my endorsement for this film festival because the last things I’ve bought (or would have bought with my own money if I wasn’t home and could use my parents’ money) are pencils (5 for $2), books that cost less than $2, and an ocarina (end of summer gift to myself from the farmer’s market).

Radical Reels was described to us as all the adrenaline from the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, which includes films about other things like conservation rather than just jumping out of planes and falling skiing down vertical cliffs gently rolling snow-covered hills.  While some a lot of Radical Reels was about things I wouldn’t personally do (wingsuit flying, anyone?) and/or can’t (so I grew up in New England and can’t ski down the bunny hill without falling) it was still a lot of fun to watch.  There were a couple of climbing films in the mix that I especially enjoyed.

Bottom line (it’s also below): I’ll be trying my best to get to Radical Reels next year as long as it comes back and I’ll even pay for my own ticket with my own money.

That said, I also want to mention Cornell Outdoor Education (COE), who arranges/facilitates the event.  I’m not affiliated with COE in any way except that I give them money so I can injure myself.  I’ve taken a couple PE classes and gone to the challenge course, and I regularly climb at the main climbing wall and the bouldering wall.  Through all that, I have predominantly had positive experiences with COE.  The worst thing about anything I’ve done with COE is that my hiking class walked too slowly, but I walk between 3 and 4 miles an hour as my standard pace, with a backpack on.  Relative to other people, I also apparently slow down when I go downhill and speed up when I go uphill.  So as long as you walk like most of the rest of the human population appears to, you won’t have my “hiking with other people” problems.  The hiking was still nice; I just apparently walk very fast.

To end this post with a picture, here’s me hanging upside down ten feet in the air at the climbing wall last spring: