May 2009

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.

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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 kkucera@lclark.edu


5 May 2009

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