One of the cool things about Caltech is our waited dinners. For breakfast and lunch you go to a station and order what you want they make it for you and you sit in the dinning hall with whoever happens to be eating at that moment. For dinner though everyone in the house eats at the same time and gets served by student waiters. The food quality is not as good as lunch (where we eat with the professors!) but the dinner traditions make up for it. You’ll have to wait until you get here to learn most of them, but one that most of the houses have is called floating. Floating is the punishment for breaking rule during dinner (such as hitting a waiter with cheesecake) and entails getting a pitcher of water dumped over your head. Here’s a picture of floating from our alumni reunion.
One of the fun things you can do in Pasadena, if you can drag yourself out of bed at 8am on a Saturday morning, is head down to the archery range. The Pasadena Roving Archers is a club in Pasadena that has an outdoor range and on Saturdays they have beginner classes. The nice thing is that if it is your first time, then the lesson is free. It is $5 after that, but free if you are a club member, and as a college student it is only $15, well worth the investment. I’ve had difficulty dragging people down to the range with me to have some fun because most people are unwilling to get up that early in the morning. It is a really fun thing to do on a Saturday morning, but some advice if you decide to go. The equipment that they lend out for beginners in the Saturday class runs out pretty quickly and it is first come first serve, so you should get there at 8.20am or so to make sure you get into the class. For Thanksgiving, there is also a turkey shoot, where first place takes home a turkey, second a chicken and third bacon. I took my stack there for my Robin Hood Ditch Day stack and got them a small private lesson with one of my coaches. Be sure to check it out!
The funny thing about my senior year is that I actually wake up earlier on the weekends than on the weekdays for classes. Since I picked up archery, I’ve had to wake up at 8am to go to the archery range on Saturday mornings for coaching and on Sunday mornings for general shoots. Yes, I wake up that early, even when I have been partying at until 2am in the morning. The prime example of this is this past weekend. A group of students managed to organize a party this past Saturday where we had DJ Earworm come down from San Francisco to DJ a party. You may recognize him from his mashup, the United State of Pop.
Anyway, to get back on topic, after the massively awesome party, I had to crawl out of bed at 8am to go down to the range. It was a special day because there was a 2D animal round, where I was shooting picture of animals. Somehow this is supposed to simulate hunting. It was a pretty fun experience, since most of the shooting I have experience with is at target faces. I was shooting a bit blind because I just got new arrows this week and did not have sight markings for them. As a result, I was happy to hit the bonus spot in the “kill” zone of this deer. I think this was the from around 47 yards or so.
One of the nicest places in Pasadena you can visit is The Huntington, a nearby library, art gallery, and botanical gardens. Most people I know have only been to the gardens, which are absolutely beautiful. They have all different types, from desert plant life to a Japanese garden complete with huge koi. I thought the fish on campus were big, but they don’t compare to these guys.
A few weeks ago I was at the Huntington for an English class, British Romantic Literature, with Professor Kevin Gilmartin. He got us into the library to see some very old books from the period we were studying. We were able to see original William Blake watercolor prints and first edition Jane Austen novels. There was also an introduction on the method scholars believe Blake used to make his engravings. It was amazing to be able to see the original works in person. The amount of detail in the engraving and the colors blew me away. There are few classes that go on trips like this. The last one I went on was with my Irish Literature class two years ago, also with Gilmartin. There are some art history classes that go on trips to the art galleries and other English classes that may get you into seeing old books, but I haven’t taken any others. When you get here and it is time to fill those upper division humanities requirements, I highly recommending asking upperclassmen what classes go on trips to the Huntington. Not only do you get to see things that normal visitors don’t get to see, but you also get a free pass into the gardens for the rest of the day.
There is a free student day every month, but you have to register at least a month in advance, so it isn’t a last minute decision you can make without spending money. I’d say it is a very nice place to take a girl on a date winkwink
Ditch Day was great!…for the underclassmen! My first look into Ditch Day as a senior was…hectic. But a TON of fun to plan. There were three stacks in Page House - Mario, Zelda, and Training Day, and they all had really awesome activities planned. I worked on Training Day with six of my friends, and we had a lot of fun things for our group to do. There were two teams - Denzel Washington (dirty cops) and Ethan Hawke (clean cops), and after we fed them breakfast they headed over to the North Fields for some exercise-ball activity. There was a ring and four giant bouncy exercise balls, and the idea was to bump each other out of the ring.
As far as I know, there was no injury incurred during this process - success! Then we bought four water balloon launchers and filled up 700 water balloons (which took FOREVER, my fingers are still sore from tying those little guys), and had them shoot water balloons long range at each other. That was great, and I have freshmen, sophomores and juniors proudly displaying their epic bruises from that one. They all went to the pool after this, where we had scattered 500 playpen plastic colorful balls, and they had to collect all of this “money” and find the ones with letters written on them, then solve an anagram which spelled out “Chicken Fight then Mannions,” after which they all ate lunch at Tom Mannion’s house.
Last Friday, all the seniors across campus ran around the alleys of the Houses banging pots and pans yelling “WAKE UP! IT’S DITCH DAY!”
Ok. Usually, we wake up 10 minutes before class, so for freshmen like us, it’s around 9:50 and then we rush off to class. What time did the seniors wake us up Friday? 7:30. In the morning.
But being freshmen and hearing all the great things about Ditch Day (if you don’t know what it is, it’s one of the best days of the year at Tech), we all wake up excitedly, rush off to the lounges and search for stacks to sign up for.
Ever been to Hawaii?
Ever wanted to?
Well, apparently Caltech decided we needed a nice relaxing atmosphere after our midterms, and decided to hold a Luau dinner for us. Since I’m not Hawaiian, I don’t know what true Hawaiian food is, but Caltech Dining Services gave it a pretty good shot (I think, although if you want to ask a real Hawaiian, find David. He might even show you a couple steps of the Hula).
So what did we have?
For an appetizer, we had
Tossed Green Salad with Cherry TomatoesAssorted Fresh Fruit Spears and Whole Fruit
For Entrees (here’s where it gets good)
Kalua PorkShrimp SkewersHuli Huli chickenKorean BBQ Ribs (…I have no idea why this is Hawaiian, but it was good, so I’m not complaining)Steamed Rick (It says Rick on the menu..but i’m pretty sure they meant Rice)Hawaiian Poi (I don’t remember eating this. I think it was the sauce for the Kalua Pork)
And last but not least: Spam Sushi. Apparently spam was the main source of red meat for Hawaii for quite awhile. Spam Sushi sounds really weird, but give it a try. It might surprise you.
Pineapple Upside Down CakeFruit SorbetsFrozen Chocolate BananasAssorted Dessert Bars (Lemon Bars, Chocolate bars, etc.)
Then we had some nice Kern’s juices, sodas and water for drinks.
As a freshman, sophomore, and junior major in Geobiology, I had to take several classes which required field trips. As a result of my being in the department, I have been able to travel (free of charge!) to Croatia, Venice, Australia, Hawaii, Baja Mexico, the Ridge Basin, and just recently the Grand Canyon. The difference was, for this last weekend, I was a TA, because I’m TA’ing an “Introduction to Geology” course called Ge1. Their field trip is to the Grand Canyon, and the TAs got to go along to help maintain order among the frosh (mostly, we carried the gear from place to place…but it wasn’t too much, only some posterboards and a cooler!!).
Friday is a good day. We have a saying at Caltech that the weekend starts when you turn in your last problem set. So since I have no sets due Friday every weekend is a three day weekend. And what better way is there to spend your afternoon than playing some Friday Football!
This past weekend, Venerable decided to host a frosh party. Now, even though it’s exclusively for “frosh,” a ton of upperclassmen hang out with us as well. All of us really like to have some gambling every now and then (not with real money of course), so Venerable let’s us hone our skills by pitting us against each other in poker, craps, roulette, the whole works. They lined up stacks of chips for us, and we can take as many as we want.
(Ok, for those people who really like gambling…this may have been a little fake, but hey, it’s still pretty intense!)
Plus, we got a dance floor set up outside with the Venerable DJs and a couple of..hammers…
Blacker Interhouse was amazing - they built a huge ship that had gigantic oars, two stories of dance floors, and the whole courtyard was filled with water. As soon as I get picture uploaded, I’ll try to post one - there were a lot of people dressed up as gods.
Ever try any Korean bulgogi? What about squid balls? Or some Chinese Shao Mai (steamed dumpling variations)?
Then International Day would definitely be fun for you. It’s hosted by all the ethnic clubs of Caltech and boasts food from Korea, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Romania, Thailand, and Turkey.
Plus, we got to see a ton of great performances, ranging from drum cadences, Chinese pop songs, and even a mixture of the east and west with some beatboxing with Korean traditional instruments.
Let’s take a quick look:
I forgot the name of this dish…>_<* but so light and fluffy though. Definitely worth a try if you get the chance.
There are many different feelings about politics. Some hate
it, some flourish int it. To some it is just annoying. I enjoy it. It’s really
interesting. I’m taking Introduction to Political Science this term and it’s
great having it play out right outside my room. It’s election season at Caltech
and every position in the Houses and ASCIT (our student government) is up for
When I give tours I spend a lot of time talking about the
labs, classes, and pranks, but rarely do I mention student government so here’s
There are over 300 miles of sewer lines in the canyons of
San Diego. As can be expected, these sewers and manholes can get overloaded or
break, spilling millions of gallons of untreated sewage and the contents of
your toilet into the ocean and canyons. Only a few years ago, the EPA ranked
San Diego in the worst quartile in terms of sewage spills. Thus, the San Diego
Oceans Foundations works with the public to raise awareness and recruit
volunteers to patrol the canyons and
monitor the status of manholes and the sewage system. And so today, we drove out
to Tecolote to clean up the canyon and inspect the manholes. The area we hiked
was extremely wild and not charted (at times the trail simply disappeared). At
one point, we ended up on the highway:
We finally arrived at the hostel in the afternoon. It’s the
first day, and we’re getting settled in. Before it got too dark, we decided to take a
jaunt down to the beach, which is located only a block and a half away from
where we’re staying. The following is a message brought to you by two lovely
members of the Caltech Y:
The hostel we’re staying at is located right in the middle
of Ocean Beach, a salty-aired California town straight from the pages of a storybook. As I am writing in my room, I can hear Jamaican steel drums outside my
window. All along the street are shops and indie cafes, and today the street
was blocked off for the weekly Farmer’s Market where you can buy fresh produce,
gorgeous flowers, and homemade crafts. We will be on the trail most of the day
tomorrow, but we will hopefully get a chance to explore the streets in the evening. During the day, we will be hiking the Tecolote Canyon to inspect
man-holes and the sewage system. The area we will be exploring is still in the process
of being charted, so I’m sure we’ll be in for some surprises. We’ll also be on
the look-out for animals as we help clean up the canyon.
Hi everyone! My name is Laura, and I’m a freshman in Lloyd. I’m here to share with you the amazingness of Prefrosh Weekend. I was already pretty sure I was going to go to Caltech when I arrived at PFW last April, and my four fantastic days there solidified my decision.
(All right, it’s been 4 days since OPI, but let’s pretend I posted this a week ago.)
So the water system in Atlantis OPI has been giving us quite a few headaches recently. The basic idea is that we have 3 levels: one just below the dance floor level (around 3 inches off the ground), one at 16 inches off the ground, and one at 7.5 feet around the edges of the elevated platforms. Water flows off the sides of the temple into the troughs around the platforms, where they waterfall off the sides into the 16 inch level. This extends around about half of the party, and every 4 feet or so the water there goes into the ground level through notches that we cut.
Newt N’ Salamander! But congratulations to everyone who participated. It was epic and everyone fought the good fight. I brought my actual camera this time, and so I have a lot of pictures with a lot of descriptions, but I will go through a quick recap of contest day, followed by a few last words, as this will be my final blog entry.
OPI is in 5 days! Everything’s been coming together in the last week; we finished up putting the plywood on the temple using the scaffolding, and now the tip (which you can barely see in the picture) goes 28 feet up in the air:
We also got up the wallboards on the bottom of the temple, which water will flow over.
The crazy thing about Caltech is that for most students, not sleeping is part of the culture :) Maybe this is actually true of college students in general (staying up late doing absolutely nothing) but at Caltech one usually has to stay up late doing problem sets. So, sometimes, on the occasion that you are done with all of your sets early, and have the time to go to sleep at a decent hour, you actually don’t. In my case, I stayed up later than usual (4am, I usually go to sleep promptly at midnight). On top of that, we had to register for classes Thursday morning at 8am, and so I woke up at 7:30. Registration begins at 8, but I think you actually have 2 weeks to go online and complete this task. However, there are some classes which have limited seating (only 20 students are allowed to sign up) and so, in the case that you sign up at 8:15 instead of 8:00, you might not get into that class. In my case, there were 3 classes like that which I wanted. So, I had to wake up early, get my “mouse clicking” skills in top shape, load as much of the website as I could, and countdown the minutes until 8. Luckily, I got every class I wanted (over the terms I have become the master of obtaining limited seating courses), but after that adrenaline rush, I could not go back to sleep (most students wake up, register, and plop back in bed). This meant that by the time I went down to the ME shop at 1pm, I was completely out of it. I was a walking zombie in desperate need of sleep (or caffeine…but I don’t like coffee, unless it is extremely sugary and has lots of whipped creme and caramel).
This last week, we’ve worked mainly on the temple. It’s basically a giant facade going 28 feet high, attached to several raised platforms at 8 feet and a staircase going down onto the dance floor. Creating the backing for the facade is a challenge in itself, because you need to backbrace it so it doesn’t fall over backwards when people push on it, and also make sure it weighs enough so it doesn’t fall over forwards if it catches the wind! We used a few 16 foot 2x4s nailed together as the main beams going straight up, and then attached a lot of shorter 2x4s to brace them so they don’t move so much. If you look in my second post, you’ll see a picture of just the main bracing, which only goes up to 16 feet.
Another week has gone by. Another deadline past. Only 18 days left until Contest Day. Are Hungry and Hateful ready to take on Deth Frog or Newt N’ Salamander? The shop is closed all day today, so that leaves about 12 days in the shop to make Hungry an eating machine and Hateful a force to be reckoned with. Basketball season ends tomorrow, so now I can spend every day in the shop from 1-5. You can take that how you want…bad for my social well-being, but ME72 is not about making friends! It’s about domination, and more time in the shop will help me perfect the Hamsters!
The shop was closed this past Monday for Presidents day, and so we didn’t get to start working until Tuesday. I was mainly focused on fixing and finishing up Hateful, while Will focused on creating Hungry. Hungry09 was a total upgraded revamp of Hungry08. He is a bit fatter and shorter, but he will have more ball gathering power than ever before! So while Will was busy creating our ball devouring monster, I basically finished up the waterproof boxes from both Hamsters and then worked on re-soldering all of the electrical connections in Hateful, and then combining everything. Tuesday was pretty uneventful, but very efficient.
It’s been raining. I guess our party theme is Atlantis, and there’s
going to be a ton of water all around, but we’d kind of like all the water to
come after we’ve built everything. In the meantime, we’ve lost 3
out of 4 good building days out of the last couple weekends. Luckily it
was nice and sunny today, and we got in a solid weekend of work!
Sorry for the long absence. I have been busy with midterms and other classwork (yes, even as a senior I still occasionally get some work). Last week we had Mexican food night, widely considered by those in my group and the rest of the class to be the most delicious day so far. Among the dishes we prepared were chicken in traditional chocolate mole sauce (Tom uses guajillos here, which are a bit harder to find countrywide and less hot than the adobo I usually use to make mole at home), and seafood enchiladas, which were the biggest hit, although very mild, as well as your standard chicken enchilada filling. But I promised pictures, and pictures you shall have.
Hateful Hamster lives again! Not only does it live, but it jumps into the pond, swims across the pond, collecting balls along the way, climbs up out of the pond and then…stops. Ya, so the last part is a bit of a let down, but at least he didn’t sink :)
So, before the ingenious success of Hateful, a lot of thought and work had to be done. Wednesday I went into the shop for 3 hours to work on keeping Hateful afloat. Will decided she needed to take a day off from the shop, so I was on my own. The first problem I decided to tackle was the water leakage problem. For this entire term that had been a major problem. Water was inevitably going to leak from the small gap where the rod was coming out of the robot and spinning the paddles, but that amount of water should be relatively insignificant in the overall scheme of things. However, gallons of water (figuratively) were leaking into Hateful. There was a direct correlation between the amount of time he spent in the water and how much of his body was submerged under the water. The thing was…duct tape is awesome (don’t get me wrong) however it is not the best choice for forming water tight seals. The water was leaking in between the duct tape and getting inside Hateful from all sides.
I am pretty sure I came up with the solution in a dream. Yes it is weird/cliche, but I woke up Wednesday morning and suddenly came up with the answer. Hot glue as much of the foam shell as possible directly to the board, leaving only a little area where we would have to make a flap to open and close to get to the electronics inside. It was such a simple solution, and now I wonder why we didn’t think of it earlier. First problem solved!
Now, for the second problem…Hateful’s foam “belly” was rubbing on the ground when it was driving around on land. In fact, in some areas it was so large that it was preventing the wheels from making enough contact with the surface (and so it could not drive). Hateful needed to lose weight, and I needed to figure out what diet was right for him.
The reason why I have not written a post in about a week is because…well, I have a concussion. Tuesday night we got out of basketball pretty late, and the kitchens had already closed, so I was kind of angry. I was not really thinking/paying attention when I swiped my card to get into Avery. As I yanked the door open, I suddenly had this intense pain in my forehead and I had no idea why. In about half a minute I realized that the metal door was against my head, and I deduced that I had in fact slammed the door into my face. I thought it was no big deal, and luckily no one had witnessed this horribly embarrassing moment. Well, later that night, as I was showering, it looked as if the walls were closing in on me, and my vision was starting to blur, so…I went to bed. This was a bad idea, and I know that, but it was around midnight. I had to go to sleep. Anyways, basically I felt horrible the next day, and every day since then, and when I visited both the athletic trainer and the Health Center they told me I had a concussion. They said it could take anywhere from a week to a few weeks before I would get better. So, for the past week I have been dealing with headaches and being intensely confused. I randomly forget what I am talking about in the middle of conversations, and I cannot focus too long on reading or work, or else I get a headache and become very confused. So, seeing as this upcoming week is midterms week, the Dean told all of my professors that I may need extensions on my midterms until I can think again…AHHH! I’d rather not get extensions, but I also would not want to take my midterms if I can’t think…
Caltech may be a small campus, but it has a large variety of food options. There are three main dining locations on campus — The Lee F. Browne Dining Hall, the Hameetman Center (which houses our beloved Red Door Cafe), and the Broad Café.
Although there are a lot of smaller things, such as midterm smoothies and milkshakes (Blacker does something similar to this) and some larger things like Faculty Dessert Night, the soc team usually agrees that beach trip is the most work.