April 2009

Hello, Spring!

This weekend was one of the greatest weekends of the semester, but it was also filled with many ups and downs. I’ll start (as I tend to do) with a discussion of the weather. On Saturday we had our race on our “home” course of Vancouver Lake, yet we were delayed for two hours by some intense fog. It was so thick that when standing on the beach, the whole lake was obscured starting about 10 feet in front of your face. Eventually things cleared up and the regatta was off with a bang. And then Mother Nature pulled out all the stops and we were bathed in beautiful sunshine and flat water for most of the day. I actually got a sunburn, if you can believe that!

On the rowing front there were some impressive highlights during the course of the day, but I personally take pride in the Women’s Varsity Four race. We beat a fast Division II team in both the heat and the final and it felt so fabulous to clinch that win being somewhat of the underdog. It got me really excited for future races in that boat. This weekend we head down to Eugene for a regatta that is forecasted to be cold and rainy, but I’m looking forward to some more quality racing nonetheless.

Yesterday I had an unexpected day of rest as my one class was cancelled due to a philosophy conference. I spent all day relaxing, reading for Thursday’s classes, and watching TV. Sometimes it’s a much needed break, especially as we’re winding down into crunch time. My poor roommate woke up sick today and I’m really hoping that she gets better soon because it’s really hard to be sick at the end of a semester. I also hope she doesn’t pass it to me! As for finals, I’m still not too worried, but it’s getting to the point where all my papers are starting to form a pile in front of me. 

There are also two SAAC events this month that should be great successes. The first I’m currently working on with my co-chair, it’s a community outreach program at the local grade school. We’re planning on taking L&C student-athletes down the hill next Wednesday to spend PE class time playing games with the kids. I think everyone involved will have alot of fun at this event! SAAC is also planning a tournament of “Pio Pong” during one of our reading days. Essentially it is a single elimination tournament styled like the popular game of beer pong but played with sports drinks. The whole day if focused on promoting healthy living, so we’re also bringing in a speaker to talk about making healthy and smart decisions. Not only is it going to be very valuable information to hear, it’s going to be an exciting event with a positive and fun spin on healthy lifestyles.

That’s all for now - off to choir rehearsal! We’re really getting into the nitty gritty of these Brahms pieces, and it’s sounding awesome.

Until later,

9 April 2009

lots of concerts

Many apologies for the later-than-normal entry, but life seems to keep throwing me back into the hospital….

It’s finally sunny and warm out, which is awesome.  The un-awesome part for me and a few other lucky individuals is that the sun and warmth also means seasonal allergies! So I’ve been rather miserable lately fighting off the symptoms of that.  It all culminated last night with a visit to the ER when my wheezing turned less from wheezing and more into “I’m having trouble breathing.”  So, Seth and Jess were kind enough to accompany me to the hospital, where I got hooked to all sorts of cool machines and was given plenty of Albuterol.  They decided to keep me overnight to make sure I didn’t have any health complications that would affect my still-healing spleen.  So, I didn’t really get any sleep last night.  My pal Amy came and got me around noon, and I basically got back to my room and fell asleep immediately after (which is why I’m only getting around to posting now that it’s 2am the next day).

Aside from that fun rehashing of past events, the week went pretty well.  Last weekend, LC was rocked by the likes of Church and Portland electronica juggernaut Starf***er.  As usual, I helped set up and prepare for the show.  Both bands were exceptionally nice and courteous and everything went very smoothly… a welcome change of pace from the Minus The Bear headache of a few months ago (which, once again, was mostly caused by stuff on our end, not theirs).  It was an evening full of dancing and good times.

Saturday night, Amy and I went to the Portland bar/venue Holocene to see a concert which I had won tickets to via a promotion on Holocene’s facebook page.We saw impressive sets from Portland’s Swim Swam Swum and The Shaky Hands. As well as an I-don’t-know-what-to-make-of-this jam session/collaboration between The Shaky Hands and bluesy guitarist Sigmund Henry.  Overall, it was a pleasant evening with some great rock ‘n’ roll and people-watching opportunities.

Oh, but the concertgoing isn’t over yet… on Monday, Amy, Nick, Lillie Mae, and I headed downtown to the all-ages punk club Satyricon to catch folk-punk gods Defiance, Ohio.  The show was $7 and featured 4 openers, including Drunken Boat, a well-calibrated Portland pop-punk group.  Defiance, Ohio basically blew us away.  It was definitely one of the best, most exuberant concerts I’ve attended.  It also beats Gogol Bordello as the smelliest, but I eventually got over that.  Defiance, OH are way into the DIY punk thing, so they attract a motley crowd of people from all sorts of unwashed Portland subcultures.  It also means, however, that all their merchandise is especially cheap.  I bought 5 full-length CDs at that show (3 Defiance, OH and 2 Drunken Boat) for under $25.


Since last Wednesday, academics have been picking up.  Many seniors are turning in their theses, which means it’s both stressful and relieving time for much of the student body.  My classes are gearing up for final projects/finals.  There are also a *lot* of events occurring.  The last month or so of every semester is packed with events that clubs and groups want to have before the break, so there’s usually something going on every evening (and day).  Perhaps most notable this week is LC’s annual International Affairs Symposium, which is a multi-day event full of guest speakers, lectures, and debates.  Not everyone attends, but it’s one of our biggest events each year, so everyone at least knows about it.  Sometimes the most anticipated portions of the symposium attract crowds that fill up Council Chambers.  It’s safe to say that students from all academic disciplines pay attention to the symposium and scour its schedule for interesting speakers.

In Computer Science, we’ve been working on writing programs that implement hash tables (Algorithms) and genetic algorithms (Artificial Intelligence).  There’s been a lot of coding lately, which I particularly enjoy.  There’s nothing like working on a project and getting your program to run as intended.  I really enjoy the collaborative focus that many of the LC Computer Science courses allow students to have.  That’s not to say that we do all of our work together all the time, but in most of my CS courses, the professors allow people to work as teams on assignments rather than as an individual (not unlike software development in the real world).  I particularly enjoy that approach to teaching computer science.

I can’t wait to be allowed to skateboard again (still can’t from the spleen thing).

It’s class-selection time for Fall ‘09!  I don’t know when the incoming freshmen get to select courses, but for the returners that time is now.  I signed up to take an International Affairs course.  It’s always good to choose first the class that’s most likely to fill.  I’m also looking at taking Introduction to World Music, Introduction to Electronic Music (this one will be sweet), and Computer Network Security (commonly known among the students as “hacking class”).  Still mulling over some options to round out the schedule.  Anyone got ideas?

If you’re coming on a campus visit anytime soon, make sure you stop by the Hoffman Art Gallery on campus (next to/down the hill from the library) and look at all the senior art majors’ projects currently on display.  I don’t think the tour goes into the gallery, so you’ll have to do it on your own time, but it’s definitely worth it!

Now playing in my ears: “The Things We Won’t Let Settle But Let Set” by Defiance, Ohio

9 April 2009

What is this “tan” you speak of?

Dearest friends,

I’m back! And I’ve had to hit the ground running. I was so glad to go home to California over spring break and recuperate, swimming and making meals with my two best friends, laughing a lot, and crafting with my mom, all the while in divine 70 degree California weather away from the cold rainy grayness I left behind in PDX. Taking the train along the coast was an experience, indeed, and I feel that if I were to make the trip again I would be able to come more prepared. For example, you don’t know until you’re actually on the train that you will be stuck in a car with an entire high school marching band on their way to Disneyland and a group of forty middle schoolers on a science trip for the next 27 hours. Anyway, not that I’m back I must say it’s amazing that a) there are only about three more weeks of the school year left and b) that I have more work now than probably throughout the entire semester. Even though I won’t have finals in all of my classes, my life is pretty much entirely consumed with two huge research projects in my Qualitative Research Methods course, and Exploration and Discovery course. I am trying to maintain my breathing and not have a mental breakdown. We had a couple of absolutely gorgeous sunny days this week which made it nearly impossible to focus, as everyone forewent holing up in the library annotating our research to bask in the sun and picnic on South Campus, skirts, shorts, and lots of pasty Oregon flesh abounding. A little vitamin D is probably good for balancing my stress level anyhow… right?

In between all the hectic tying up of the semester’s countless loose ends, we LC kids still manage to make the most of our young lives here in PDX. This past weekend was filled with music music music. Sometimes, when life is gray, one needs to bring a little color in unexpected places- such as your face. One night, inspired by the sounds of Ziggy Stardust and a wonderfully ambiguous late 80’s era song called “We Care a Lot”, we decided it would be fun to paint each other’s faces like creatures from space. Here are some pictures of that: 2657_175212575436_743660436_6432242_5637530_n.jpg2657_175212605436_743660436_6432248_2326805_n.jpg2657_175212650436_743660436_6432255_1333414_n.jpg
The next night, we ventured out near Reed College to a house show in South East PDX to see my friends’ band, ‘bird announced land’, play with another great Portland act called ‘Church’. bird announced land, fronted by Yvonne l_413e4b33d21295c18d8e2884ebedfa66.jpgwho offers sweet vocals comparable to those of Jolie Holland, showcases the digs of some of LC’s most talented musicians. Church offers beautiful three-part male harmonies, driving duel drums and a plethora of crazyweird keyboards/gadgets. The crowd at the show was really supportive and we had a great time- although we missed the bus that night and ended up having to take a taxi back across the bridge to LC. Be sure to check out both these bands’ music! l_216a6b414a5e4df8ad8d0284867da814.jpgAwesome people and awesome tunes. http://www.myspace.com/birdannouncedland and http://www.myspace.com/songforcecrystal

sunburncolorflierlow-1.jpgComing soon to an LC campus near you! This Saturday, KLC (LC’s radio station if you haven’t already learned from my previous posts) is hosting its annual music festival, Sunburn. Twenty-three bands from far, wide, and right here in PDX will be coming to blow the minds of LC, PSU, and Reed students, and anyone in the community willing to pay $5 to get in. I am on the festival crew, and will have VIP access to all the bands, so hopefully I will be able to bring you not only news of how awesome the festival was, but perhaps also some funny backstage anecdotes. Stay tuned for that. Also, if any of you are visiting this coming Friday, be sure to stick around campus to see my friends’ band, Cindergarten, play with Portland’s own Wampire in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel at 8pm. It’s gonna be rockin’.

Keep the rock alive, kids, and shoot me an email about your Emergen-C ingestion methods preference, why you suppose it’s so hard to remember how to correctly cite references no matter how many papers you write, or if you happened to see me during your campus tour! kkucera@lclark.edu

8 April 2009


dscn5822.JPGIt’s quite amusing how the existence of sun in Portland makes my day 100 times better than it was before. Any frown is quickly replaced with a smile at the sight of clear skies and blooming flowers. And fortunately this is how my entire week has been so far. Jamba Juice, ice-cream (mainly butter brickle) and popsicles have easily removed the urge for soups, tea, cocoa and well classes. dscn5819.JPG

Although finals are definitely right around the corner and next week will probably be my hardest week of school to date… I have been basking in the sun, skipping around like a giddy school girl and uhmm avoiding work… but that doesn’t mean that this kind of negligence is acceptable because indeed it is not.  dscn5850.JPG

However, I do think it is necessary to have at least one week where I can at least breathe. Luckily, this semester I only have two finals but a lot of other course work to complete before the finals period; so before I begin to stress and relocate to the library I decided to relax. It will all come to an end when the weather becomes a bit dreary tomorrow but every moment wasted was worth it.  (I say this now wait until next week for a follow up of me crying). dscn5853.JPG

 A lot of the professor’s here like to share in the delight of the sunlight with their students.Yesterday I had my dance class outside and as you can imagine it was extremely awkward at first but once you ignore the people around you and focus on the intent… it becomes a very satisfying experience.dscn5858.JPG

I’ve seen a bunch of “prospies” on campus this past week and I always think it’s the cutest thing ever. It brings back memories to my freshman year; I never had the opportunity to visit the campus beforehand but I saw the delight and intrigue in these students faces, the same emotion I felt when I saw the campus for the first time.dscn5873.JPG

Over the weekend, I took probably a bunch of pictures of the campus, little details that I had never noticed before.. I went downtown and just walked around pioneer square… and thankfully only spent $11.00, which is an all time record for Talitha Morrison. I also went to LC’s LUAU… The Luau is the oldest campus event hosted by the Hawaiian club here. I really enjoyed it, this year more than last. Shoutout to Lisa… Girl can shake hehe… As for the Haka (youtube haka ) .. 6.jpg

Well I’m signing off for this week… There’s a lot more sun to enjoy… So I think it is definitely a necessity that I go outside and enjoy it. Until next week.. Stay safe…..dscf1514.JPG

Peace & Love


8 April 2009

blossoming of skirts

blossoming tree on campus that we climbed laterRachel and other students slacklining on campusQualitative Research Methods class held outside in the QuadrangleGreek CuisinaSpring has landed. There is a sudden blossoming of skirts and bare feet and mild sunburns. Professors tend to be skeptical about students’ requests to transplant class to the sunlight because they think we won’t pay attention. Every class I’ve ever had outdoors at Lewis & Clark has been one of the most productive class periods of the entire semester. I think we put on our best, most engaged behavior when we have class outside so that our professors will let us leave the classroom again on the next sunny day. My Judaism professor let us hold class outside on Monday morning. On Tuesday, Collins went hunting for an outside power outlet so that we could discuss Writing Women’s Worlds outside (one of the students in the class is partly deaf, so we pass around mics that come on a cart that has to be plugged in), so we ended up on the cobblestones in the Quadrangle. Three hours later in Utopias/Dystopias, we (jokingly) went on a quest to find an idyllic Utopia, and also ended up in the Quadrangle, but on the grass this time.

waiting outside the Keller with my mom before Wicked startedWicked set, before the showOn Wednesday (which was rainy), I saw Wicked with my mom at the Keller. It was super good! Elphaba and Glinda were wonderful, but Fiyero had a pathetically whiny singing voice, which was no good at all. My mom and I went out to dinner at Greek Cuisina, too. I love falafel probably more than is reasonable.

My girlfriend Kenna and I escaped campus on Friday for dinner at Sansai. Sushi is my one exception to vegetarianism, and man, it’s a tasty exception. Ambling around after dinner, we looked at our watches and realized that if we had any chance of making the next shuttle we needed to run. We missed it by half a minute, so we called one of Kenna’s friends who has a car and bribed him to come rescue us so we would get back to campus in time for the Starf****r show.

Starf****r show on campusLu’au hula danceStarf****r was crazy! I accidentally got caught in the mosh pit, and rowdy six-foot-tall hipster boys smashed me into a collection of contusions. Starf****r, which do not normally spell their name with asterisks, are a local indie rock group that have lately gained quite a following, and for good reason – they’re stellar. I love that Activities brings events like that to campus.

Hawaiian song at the end of the Lu’auLu’au musical performanceTessa, blurry Ali, and me in that treewe are silly on SaturdaySaturday was the Lu’au. In between Hawaiian foods for dinner in Pamplin Sports Center and the traditional and contemporary Hawaiian performances that followed, some friends and I climbed trees and generally photosynthesized. My favourite Lu’au performance was the firespinning. (Jeremy offered to teach me how to blow fire a few weeks ago, but I’m not so keen on filling my mouth with lamp oil, even if only momentarily.) The dances were great, too – some little Portland kids even did a choreographed dance, and they were way awesome. And I loved watching Gabe dance! Lu’au rehearsals abducted him for the last two months, so I’m excited to have him back in my life now.

AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed in Council Chamber Foyer for the 2009 AIDS SummitI just found out that we won’t have a final exam in Qual Methods, which means I can focus all my Qual energies on constructing my final project, an ethnography of Coming Out stories. I still need to type two of my interviews and then do some pattern-finding and conclusion-writing, but it’s coming along well. Much better than my final research paper for Judaism, which ground to a halt somewhere around the collecting sources stage. I always get everything done in the end, though.

The AIDS Summit starts today! We’ve hit some mild turbulence getting off the ground, but I think everything’s gonna fly in the end. At 8.30 this morning, Josh, Liz and I hung up four panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in Council Chamber Foyer. Tonight is a safer sex workshop in Tamarack, tomorrow is our Keynote and a biology of HIV session, and Friday is a showing of And the Band Played On on the bigscreen in Council Chamber.

As always, fire your thoughts my direction, maisha@lclark.edu. Very few readers email me, and it’d be cool to know that you’re one of them.

8 April 2009