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Kathryn Kucera: A year fits into just three little boxes…

My friends, here we are in the fabled last week of my first year of college. With nearly all of my finals under my belt, I am sitting in my room, watching my roommate pack up everything on her side of the room, while all of my stuff is img_0019.JPGstrewn about my half. To think that I will have to condense all the physical evidence of the milestones of this year into three measly cardboard boxes to return to in the fall is a task both daunting and cathartic.

Since I’d really like to never have to think about finals week again, I’ll just tell you that they went alright and I am anticipating mostly good, and a couple satisfactory, grades. I’m just so glad to have my sanity back!

CB1CB2CB3CB4CB5Last weekend was kind of the last hoorah for me and my friends, all together at LC and in Portland before we had to plunge into the murky depths of finals, packing up, and shipping out. It began on Thursday, the last day of classes, with Critical Blast. Critical Blast is an annual event at LC to celebrate the last day of classes, the coming of summer, the year in review- bands play, kids BBQ, tie-dye, get rid of junk and clothing accumulated throughout the year, pick up other peoples’ swapped junk and clothing, and do a lot of hugging and reminiscing and skipping and dancing and enjoying life. Many of my friends performed and the event went late into the night, moving into the Co-Op after it got cold and dark.



The next day, Friday, was May 1 and my boyfriend, Dylan (who is currently a sophomore) and several of his friends were all  signing leases on the houses they will be living in over the summer and next fall. While some upper classmen choose to stay in the apartments on campus, many who have grown comfortable in Portland choose to move off campus into the city to pursue the opportunity to assimilate more into Portland culture. Dylan and his four roommates/friends found an adorable house in the Hawthorne area of southeast PDX. That night, after grabbing some burritos at Cha Cha Cha’s on Hawthorne Blvd, my friends Natalie and Lauren and I walked over to the house for a housewarming party (for which I had baked some delicious banana bread). Many of our friends came over for the shindig, as well as some juniors and seniors who live in the area, and we danced the night away.  The house is in such a great location- right off of the main strip of Hawthorne which has lots of cool little shops, cafes and restaurants as well as a generally hip young vibe. Let’s just say the clerks at Fred Meyer are much more likely to look like they walked out of a Wes Anderson film here. Many of my friends ride their bikes between here and campus, but it’s also really easy to catch the 14 Trimet bus downtown after taking the RAZ shuttle from campus, and vice versa.

On Friday afternoon I will head to the airport, though not to fly home this time. I’ve decided to spend the summer with my sister at her home in Pittsburgh, PA. I got a paid internship with a historical society there that is working on archiving photos of Pittsburgh’s history of the steel industry. I’ll also be working some kind of serving job or barista job to make some money to be spent on books, bus passes and other such necessities in the fall. One thing I am looking forward to in the Pitt, besides spending time with my lovely sis, brother in law, and niece, is a trip my sister planned to go on a ghost tour in Virginia! CreeepyAWESOME. On a more serious note, it will be strange not going home- three months is a long time and, being the California girl I am, summer just doesn’t seem like summer without spending days at the beach, getting salty and sandy and toasted in the sun, hiking the golden hills, visiting Big Sur, bonfires, camping… yet I am embracing this time as a new adventure, an urban summer is something I have never truly experienced. I will miss my friends at home, but I have devised that this is all part of my diabolical plan to get them the heck up here to Portland for a visit next semester! I will be returning to Portland in mid-August, a couple weeks before school starts again to reunite with all my friends staying here over the summer and hopefully to make a trip out to the Oregon coast! While it isn’t the golden paradise back home, the Pacific ocean is the Pacific ocean, and, in my experience, it is life-giving tonic for the soul.

I have so enjoyed sharing my experiences with you all as I have grown, changed, been challenged and inspired, discovered and established myself here in the Lewis & Clark and Portland communities. I do not know yet if I will be writing next year, but please know that anytime over the summer and even beyond you are welcome to email me with your questions, concerns, favorite Dan Savage quotes, the excitement of bubble bath rediscovery, or if you happen to know of anything cool to do in Pittsburgh…

2657_175229050436_743660436_6432579_4029659_n_2.jpgLove always, Kathryn

5 May 2009

Cary Young: now, where was i?

 Happy belated video blog update!  So, I finally got my skateboarding video, though it is still relatively shaky and not altogether my finest work.  I figured it might still be useful just to give an idea of the size of the campus and give you a *bit* of a feel of what it’s like around here.  Sorry about the Cloverfield-style camera-work.

I think this is going to be my last post of the year (unless I’m mistaken).  It has been fun keeping a log of my activities, and I hope at least one or two of you found something useful here at some point.  If you want to keep tabs on me, follow my Twitter.

Last weekend, I spent most of my free time working on my final project for my Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence Classes.  Since my programming partner/friend/future housemate Nick and I are in both classes together, and they’re taught by the same professor, so we, with his consent, decided to write one larger final project that would count for both classes.  Earlier in the year, there was an assignment in Algorithms to create a game called “Anagrams.” It’s a relatively simple game that involves finding words from a pool of communal letters, and then stealing and adding onto your opponent’s words.  The original assignment was very rudimentary and completely text-based.  Our final project was to create an (efficient, difficult) AI player and to completely redo the user interface graphically, with options for more customization than was allowed in the original program.  We spent a solid week of free time developing and refining it, finally turning it in today.  I’m the first to admit that it’s not a very impressive accomplishment, but I’m still pretty proud of it; in the process I rememberd how enfuriating the Swing toolkit can be (lack of thread-safety FTL), as well as discovered a pretty neat layout that I didn’t know about before, GraphPaperLayout, which was far easier to use for us than the beast that is GridBagLayout.

Anyway, if you want to download and play our game* (or check out our code), we decided to release it under the BSD license.  You can download our project here (requires at least Java 5.0).  There’s a readme file that explains how to play.

*–we only tested it on Mac OSX 10.5 at screen resolution 1680 x 1050.  As far as I can tell, *should* conform to Java 5.0 conventions and is likely to run properly on similar Mac systems.  I see no immediate reason why it wouldn’t run on Windows or the flavors of Linux, but I can make no promises.

Last weekend I went to the Bridgetown Comedy Festival with my friend Angela.  She won free tickets on the internet and, since I’m 21, decided to take me along.  We saw  live podcasts of You Look Nice Today, with special guest John Roderick of The Long Winters, as well as Jordan, Jesse, Go, with special guest David Koechner (of The Office and Anchorman fame).  Those were both hilarious shows, made even better by the pizza and root beer at the Bagdad Theater.  After the second podcast, we went outside to wander around and ended up running into Mr. Koechner on the street.  That was pretty cool.  After a brief encounter with him, we went on our way.  We ended up wandering into the Mt. Tabor Legacy Lounge to catch some standup.  I think we saw at least ten performers, one of whom was a mildly disappointing Bill Dwyer, who is much better as a TV personality than he is an edgy comic.  We actually saw him perform twice, and both times I sort of wished I hadn’t.  I was, however, blown away by Hannibal Buress.  I’d never heard of him before the show, but his act was basically perfect.  His timing was dead-on and his dry wit played very well to the Portland audience.  He reminded me very much of Mitch Hedberg, but he made the cadence and posture much more his own  that most Hedberg-esque comedians are able to accomplish. Buress’ act was definitely the highlight of the evening for me. But he was not even the headliner! We were there, after all, to see SNL alum Janeane Garofalo and she  pretty funny.  If nothing else, it was really cool to see a celebrity comedian perform in such a small venue; there were probably only 150 people there, at most.  Overall, it was a great experience, I can’t wait for the 2010 comedy festival!

Amy, Nick, and I have still been house-hunting.  We’ve got an application in for another house, but it’s rather difficult to rent when you haven’t rented before.  I promise we’ll be good tenants!D and D

Last afternoon, the band Fruition played a concert on the lawn; the show was really fun, but then it started raining and now all of our PA equipment is drying.  I *really* hope nothing is broken; it was completely drenched… I mean like…when I turned the speakers, water poured out from inside of them. Regardless, it was a fun show >_>.Students dancing to/watching the band Fruition play by the reflection poolPeeps painting at the outdoor show.

Tonight, I watched a performance in Council Chambers of the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company.  They were brought here by our Improv Club (”The Serious Club”).  It was a hilarious show and I got called up and was interviewed as part of their sketch.  Definitely a fun evening!

Tomorrow’s a thank-you pizza party for all of the IT department.  Can’t wait to eat some good food and play games on a huge screen.

That all’s good, but It’s not all great; I’m quite stressed by work and house-searching.  Finals should be fine, though.

Anyway, off to study for finals and such.

If you end up coming here, you can find me next year.  I’ll be the IT-worker/soundboard-operator/possible student-government-member/rock-show-planner/ex-RA/senior CS major.

And one final note of nerdiness… if you’re an incoming student and you play World of Warcraft, send me an e-mail.  The LC WoW guild (”That secret club that meets on Saturdays” when we’re in the company of non-Azerothians) plays Alliance on the Silver Hand server and (occasionally) Horde on The Scryers server, and would love to have you; if you want, you can just roll a Death Knight and feel it out.

It sure has been fun!  Thanks for reading!

now playing in my ears: “15 Stepz” by Amplive ft. Codany Holiday

1 May 2009

Jess Asbridge: A List of Lasts

It’s hard to believe that this is the last Real Life post of the spring semester. I can think back on all the days where time seemed to creep by, but now in comparison it’s like everything is in fast forward. I’m not even a senior, but I feel like I’ve been saying: “This is my last [fill in the blank],” quite a bit in the past couple of days, so I decided to compose a short list:

-My last (and first) big choir performance until next spring! Unfortunately I’m still trying to find a recording of our performances, but no luck so far. On Friday we performed in Evans Auditorium on campus for a completely sold out audience! The Women’s Ensemble went first with our “Four Songs” by Brahms, followed by the Orchestra with a piece by Mahler. After intermission I was able to snag an empty chair and watch the Orchestra and Cappella Nova perform Mozart’s Requiem; such an epic and beautiful piece! Sunday’s show at United First Methodist Church downtown was better overall, but also included an impromptu and poorly timed serenade from the church bells during the final intense moments of the Requiem. I hope to maybe join a choir while I’m abroad, and really look forward to singing again at L&C next spring. Our conductor is one of the most amazing people here at L&C, and her energy and enthusiasm for what she does is positively unparalleled. All in all it’s be a fabulous experience.

-My last race of the season! After taking a break last weekend from racing, the crew team heads down to Sacramento on Friday for our final big race of the spring season. This is a huge regatta, including Division I, II, and club teams from up and down the west coast. Our women’s team did not perform as well as we wanted at our conference championships, so we’re gearing up for a mighty throw down come Saturday. I’m also excited because our winning pair is getting the chance to race, and being that this is an important regatta, we’re going to pull out all the stops in showing what L&C crew can do with speed. Plus it’s going to be really really fun!

-My last week of classes until January! Ok, this one isn’t totally true because I will still be a full-time student while abroad in Ireland. But it’s my last week of classes at L&C until my final semester ever, and it’s kind of a big deal. I think that I can say with confidence that I have had the BEST professors of my college career thus far, packed all into this one semester. Through their teaching I have discovered some new things about myself. Even just working on my final papers for philosophy have showed me what I am capable of achieving in my understanding. For once I’m actually proud of the work that I’m turning in, and I hope that my final grades reflect this significant change.

-Final SAAC meeting! At least, as secretary. I’ll miss being this involved in the fall, so I’ll probably make up for it tenfold next spring. I’ve made so many friends and connections through SAAC and working/being in athletics that I can’t imagine what I would be doing without it. It’s sad to see the senior athletes go, but I’m ready to be the one to fill their shoes and leave my mark.

I guess next year as a senior my end of the year list will be more sincere in its finality, but it’s still nice to feel this sense of closure with things. And then that feeling fades and I start thinking how unbelievable it is that this fall I’ll already be a senior, and I’m going abroad, and I’m living off campus in the spring. All this new independence is a bit overwhelming, but at the same time it gives me some really fabulous things to look forward to in the next year.

Other than that, I have no more reflections or parting thoughts. My mind is almost at the point of being completely drained from all the hectic last minute details of these final weeks. As always, I am happy to respond to any questions that people might have about L&C or life in general as a college student! Feel free to contact me at any point during the summer or next year at

Happy Summer,

29 April 2009

Maisha Foster-O'Neal: we haven’t committed any lasting damage

Anna painted a heart on my faceThe Clothesline Project display on campusThere should be a yellow warning sign that says Schoolwork Crossing, and the end of the semester should heed it. Even though we’re about to bump hard into final exams, there is a negligible decrease in the number of cool events going on around campus. It’s tricky to balance all the last assignments of the year with all the other things happening, but I can stuff writing three essays and taking two final exams into the next week.

Diva Day performanceWhat Makes YOU a Diva?Wednesday was a great day for abandoning homework for the afternoon. The Womyn’s Center hosted the Clothesline Project, the only Take Back The Night event we decided to do this year. Most of the shirts in the Clothesline Project display were hand-lettered by members of the Raphael House, a local Portland women’s shelter. I like the Clothesline Project because it raises public awareness about sexual and domestic violence through creative survivor empowerment.

Anna painting her foot pinkI made rainbow handprints and Anna fingerpainted my cheekIn the afternoon, the first of the Senior Thesis plays (written and/or directed by graduating theatre majors) was held outside. Modeled on the Vagina Monologues, “Diva Day” combined interpretive dance (click for video), anecdotes, and experimental theatre. Oh, and all the actresses wore silly giant representations of Diva Cups over their costumes. Afterward, the audience members and cast had a dance party and painted their answers to “What makes YOU a Diva?” onto a big banner. My friend Anna and I painted our hands and feet and danced across it. We accidentally left smeary footprints on the ground, but the paint was both washable and nontoxic, so I think we haven’t committed any lasting damage.

Anna is the best kind of dork when discarded clothes are there for the donning!On the subject of Anna, she’s a phenomenal performance poet and musical artist. She said it’s okay I share some of her awesomeness with y’all, so here’s a video of her performing an original composition at the Platteau Student Art Center’s Last Open Mic of the year, and here’s a song she recorded in a studio with better audio quality than my digital point-and-shoot can muster. The Open Mic on Friday was three hours of story-reading, ukulele, high-energy girlrock, poery, and original compositions plus covers of such favourites as Tegan & Sara, Sufjan Stevens, and Nickel Creek.

Nothing Compares To You playbillIt’s a good thing I like experimental theatre so much, because when I showed up at the mainstage for Nothing Compares To You, another Senior Thesis play, I had no idea I was in for such a spectacularly nontraditional performance. For the entire hour-plus show, the audience was herded around the set (no seating!) from scene to scene by two silent and bescarved actors. The somewhat anachronistic scenes at first seemed entirely unconnected, but by the end they were geniusly intertwined. One of the best performances I’ve seen, like, ever.

Les & Eva Aigner speaking about their experiences surviving the HolocaustAfter the Diva Day performance on Wednesday, I went to a talk by two Holocaust survivors. Eva and Les Aigner, who now live in Portland, regularly speak publically about their experiences as Jews in the ghetto and in Auschwitz. Even though Les said he felt like the luckiest man in the world for having survived the Holocaust, the talk sure put my last 25 pages of essay-writing into perspective!

I went out to dinner at Oba! with my parents on Saturday night. I was glad they were picking up the bill – the food was so good but pretty expensive for someone on a college student budget. Also, this time of year is one big conglomeration of Prom Nights, so the restaurant was flooded with high schoolers pinned to corsages and zipped into schmancy dresses. I’m so relieved that that particular rite of passage is behind me! They all looked really excited, though. Awww.

I can has A in ur class? This LOLcat created at icanhascheezburger.comI gave my final presentation in Judaism on Monday morning on the subject I’m writing my final research paper on, the Lilith legend. I made a pretty powerpoint and everything. Last week in Qual Methods I presented my ethnographic findings regarding how students tell their Coming Out stories to the class as well. Even though I got into a fight with the printer and showed up to class without a speaking outline as planned (tip: don’t wait to print until five minutes before class, it will bite you in the rear), my presentation went smoothly and my professor said I was cohesive and organized. I can has A in ur class?

one of the electronic music pieces at the concert included live flute and guitar accompanimentOn Monday night I went to the Electronic Music Concert. Students from all sections of the Electronic Music classes played their compositions. Some pieces had accompanying music videos (everything from self-filmed raps to classical remixes set to psychedelic fractal art), and some had live performances, including live musical accompaniment and John’s fire-juggling.

I already have a fun summer reading list all worked out. I’m so excited to go home and walk my dogs and bike and play with toddlers at the preschool I work at over break. I hope they’re hiring again this year – I still need to call during business hours and find out.

This is my last Real Life Blog entry for the semester! Your emails will still find me over summer, so definitely point your questions toward I’m happy to ramble at length about whatever you wanna talk about.

28 April 2009

Cary Young: i think my favorite logical gate is NAND

Working on a new video.  Apparently skateboarding around campus with a video camera doesn’t work too well unless you jury-rig a steadicam, which I plan to do later today.  If that doesn’t work, I guess it’s back to the drawing board.  Are there any particular video topics you want to see?

I just finished my statistics project that my friend Sam and I have been working on for about a month.  We presented it yesterday in class and it went a lot better than I was expecting (I guess I’m just pessimistic that way).  We culled a bunch of information from in an effort to see if there was a correlation between a software project’s popularity and its code’s adherence to program formatting conventions (comment things, don’t swear, don’t use goto, etc.). Our results were somewhat disappointing.  Based on our sample of sixty projects, we could find no correlation.  Regardless, we performed the statistics tests on the data, so as far as the coursework is concerned, we’re set.  I would have liked to have observed something definitive, though.

Course registration is in effect; currently I’ve got spots in International Affairs, an English Class (this one is a tentative backup), and Computer Network Security (”hacking class,” which I’m hoping will be really cool) I’m a bit miffed that I’m on so many waitlists for courses I want to take (as I’m going to be a Senior, I’m running out of time).  I’ve been trying to get into the Introduction to Electronic Music course every semester since Freshman year (yes, this is my sixth time on this particular waitlist).  It’s a relatively small elective class and everyone wants to take it.  They work hard to accomodate the demand, but it’s always overflowing.  Perhaps I’ll just give up on my (not-terribly-serious) dream of learning how to make beep-boop music.  I’m also on the waitlist for Introduction to World Music, which I would very much like to be the class that fulfulls one of my general education requirements.  Here’s to hoping that a bunch of people decide to drop those courses.  If not, it’ll work out some other way I’m sure.

A few days ago, Portland comedian/monologuist Rick Huddle came to Council Chambers and performed his “Spent” show.  He plainly and humourously told the story of the “current financial situation” (I love that euphemism), explaining sub-prime mortgages, credit default swaps, government bailouts, executive bonuses, and some of the governmental intricacies that had to do with all of it.  As someone who didn’t really take the time to understand all of this economics business, I found his performance very informative.  Definitely catch him if you get a chance (I also see on Rick’s website that he has an endorsement from the hilarious and insightful Mike Daisey, another brilliant monologuist who has performed at LC).
I enjoy this time of the semester especially, because it is professor-evaluation time.  It combines my loves of spending  filling in Scantron bubbles, voicing my opinions, and carrying manilla envilopes to the Dean of the College’s office.  The Dean’s Office, every semester, polls all students in all courses about the effectiveness of the course and the professor.  Some people don’t take them seriously, but as the professors will attest, these results have an effect on little things like tenure and raises, so it’s actually pretty important. I like that students have an institutionalized venue for voicing criticisms or praises and that it seems to be an effective catalyst for any necessary changes.

Anyway, I think it’s time for me to go back to work on my Computer Science project.  It’s larger than normal because Nick (programming buddy) and I convinced our professor to let us do one project for both of the classes we take from him.  So, yeah…  more on that endeavor when we actually get somewhere worth mentioning.

Still searching for a house for the Summer, which is approaching quite quickly.

Now playing in my ears: “The Cold Swedish Winter” by Jens Lekman

23 April 2009