Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Formspring Question: are you happy with the housing you have for next year?

Yeah! I got to single into a room in an Honors suite in Pontigny Hall. So, there are eight guys in the suite, but we each have our own room :)

Fall 2012 Class Schedule

Due to the fact that I recently declared my dual-major in Biology and Anthropology, this coming semester I'll have a pretty packed schedule. In this table, the four classes/labs in black are the one's I'm already enrolled in, and the math course in red is one that I'm hoping to petition into in the fall (due to SMC's 4-4 curriculum, one has to ask permission to take a fifth course).

If you have any questions about scheduling feel free to contact me.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Formspring Question: can you talk about your housing and what the housing process is like both for you for next year and for freshman?

First-year students are assigned a room in one of the dorms on the freshman quad (Lyons, Ryan or Joyce). For upperclassmen, students are assigned lottery numbers and are allowed to select housing based on that number, and you can improve your selection if you opt for Honors or GREAT (substance free) housing. Hope that helps!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Introducing APPetite: An Original Play by SMC Students

Saint Mike's theater students put plenty of large and small-scale shows on throughout the academic year. Unfortunately I hadn’t seen any so far, until a week ago Friday.

The show, APPetite, was an original "devised" piece of theater, and it explored the modern obsession with technology. In it, after having come back from studying abroad in Italy, the main female character struggles to reconnect with her sister and friends who seem to be enslaved by their iPhones, deals with her uncooperative boyfriend, and eventually is driven to try to find love in a robot. The show is audience interactive, where at one point audience members can text questions to a character on stage. The plot was well developed, the characters were interesting, and the content led one to reflect on one's own relationship with technology. I, for example, having recently gotten an iPhone, would struggle if for some reason I suddenly didn't have it, and seeing this show made me consider what my own appropriate balance with technology should be.

 I was so impressed with the show that this past week I sought out an interview with two of the show’s participants, Liz and Amanda (it’s their senior seminar), and we had the opportunity to talk this past Friday during the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

We sat down in a row of chairs off to the side so I could record the interview on my phone (ironic?), and I began by asking what the inspiration was behind the piece, and what made them decide to do a show on technology:

Amanda: "Well it was really our director Kathy's idea. She wanted to do a show about technology, a devised piece; and... do you know what devised theater is? (I did) You do? Ok. So basically we started meeting back in September with the whole cast and all we had was one idea to go off of and we just started shooting off ideas and we had lists and lists of different plot lines, of different ways in which technology influences our lives; and it kind of all just stemmed from this one idea, and we picked some things that we thought people could relate to as well as some new things about technology that would interest people as well.”

I then asked Liz about her own character in the show (the sister of Amanda’s character), who was iPhone addicted because of her fast-paced career in the technology business, and did portraying that character make her reflect on how she used technology in her own life:

Liz: “Absolutely, and something Kathy really wanted to get across were the positive aspects of technology as well as the negative, and I think I've definitely discovered in my own life how negatively I use technology, I mean, I'm kind of glued to it all the time.” (I indicated a similar sentiment)

When I told them that the show had led me to think about how I used technology in my own life, they were pleased because that was one of their clear objectives. And it was a long, arduous process; at one point they had to cut a chunk of the cast because the show was growing too large and lacked direction, they said. They didn’t enjoy cutting people, but some left voluntarily which made it a little less painful.

Another obstacle Liz and Amanda faced was, since it was their senior seminar, having to shape and concentrate on other characters in the show while still working on their own. “There was a lot of tears and frustration,” they agreed. And the show went through a lot of transformation. “Amanda’s character was a drug addict at one point,” Liz said, laughing.

And because of the nature of the piece, they had the opportunity to integrate experiences from their own lives into the show. For example, Amanda’s character studied abroad in Italy, and so did she. “All the pictures [in the show] were real,” she said; and when her character in the show is experiencing a post-study abroad withdrawal, she took that from her own life.

Like Liz mentioned earlier, though, the show was intended to highlight the positive aspects of technology as well as the negative. In APPetite, Amanda was able to stay connected with her friends from study abroad via skype, and everyone in the show was connected in some positive way via technology. So the show begs the question of moderation; because yes, it’s cool that you can order joke books online to impress girls, but it becomes consuming when getting things or doing things online are the only ways you can impress girls.

Before we ended the interview, I asked Liz and Amanda if they had any advice for incoming theater majors. They agreed that the best way to start as a freshman is to be willing to “start from scratch”, because acting in college is a whole new ball game. “You might come into your freshman year after having gotten leads as a senior in high school, but that may not happen your first year of college,” they said. But they encouraged incoming students to get involved in any way possible, because the department has tons of opportunity to do so; whether they’re on the main stage or a smaller venue, and the department is always willing to support a pitch for smaller shows. Also, they said, be willing to just listen and learn, because that's the best way to learn and grow in the theater.

APPetite ran 11-14, 18-21 of April, 2012.

Photo credit goes to Keelia Liptak (Thanks Keelia!). Also, check out these blog posts from Keelia (who designed lighting for the show) and Brendan (another participant):


APPetite: SMC Spring Mainstage

Lighting Design for Appetite

New Play: APPetite in Rehearsal!


APPetite: A Saint Michael's Production

APPetite Halfway

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Maude Barlow Speaks on the Global Water Crisis at SMC

As I mentioned in my last two posts, this past week at SMC we've been celebrating Earth Week, and tonight we had the privilege of hosting our keynote speaker, Maude Barlow, in the McCarthy Arts Center. Mrs. Barlow is a well-known activist for human and water rights issues, a best-selling author, the recipient of eleven honorary doctorates, as well as an incredibly personable human being. Her talk today was on the topic of the "global water crisis", which was incredibly informative as well as appropriate given the recent Bottle Free SMC campaign, which is backed by Green Up.

She began her talk with a funny anecdote about a student at an American university who, while she was speaking at a sustainability weekend there, offered her a plastic water bottle. She politely refused, she said, and then shocked the student when she told him that she would be fine drinking water from a tap. The audience laughed, and it was nice because it was a light-hearted way of showing that we, as a species, have a long way to go. 

After this, she mentioned the photo of her that was projected on a screen (pictured right, in poor quality) standing next to some SMC students while at the Keystone XL Protest surrounding the White House last November. For those who don't know, this protest was against plans by a corporation called TransCanada, which was planning to build a crude oil pipeline from Alberta, CA, through the Oglala Aquifer (once one of the biggest groundwater systems in the world) and down to the gulf of Mexico to be refined. Mrs. Barlow briefed the audience on this conflict, and highlighted the sheer absurdity of the situation. 

"So what do you do when you have a wonderful aquifer like that, that's already in danger, with many thousands of jobs dependent on it? Well, just put a pipeline that for sure is going to leak with the world's most corrosive oil, of course that's what you do; I mean are we all crazy?"

She then transitioned into her talk about the "global water crisis". She began by saying that "the most important thing I want you to come away with that we're a planet running out of fresh available water." These words might take some people by surprise, because it discounts the idea most of us learned in elementary school that there's a cycle of water which cleans and contains all fresh water. But this is apparently not true, and she explained why; "we're taking water from where we can access it, and we're polluting it, or we're diverting it, or pumping it out of the ground." These practices neither benefit the planet nor replace the removed water, and this is a problem, she said.

My mind was blown, and what ensued for the next thirty minutes was a combined slew of some things I already knew, some things which I thought I had known that were apparently not true, as well as some things that I had no idea were true. Some examples: most major rivers don't reach the ocean anymore because they're diverted to grow things like food and cotton in inappropriate areas, massive amounts of land-based water is sent from major cities as waste into the ocean (which is a huge factor in rising sea levels), and a lot of the water we lose can be understood through the concept of "virtual water".

Virtual water is a concept which basically represents the amount of water that is used to produce any given thing, and the example that she used was of a beef steak taking an Olympic-sized swimming pool amount of water to be produced. Throughout the duration of her talk she explained why both virtual water and real water are connected to other issues, such as climate change and food justice. They're all connected, she said. And they're all relevant to everyone. It's easy for us to write off a drought in the third world as something that's too far removed for us to be able to deal with. But when these droughts are a result of our current economic system of trade agreements and otherwise, and when there are forty-thousand something people in Detroit without running water who have to walk to retrieve enough to bathe (reminiscent of women and children in the third world doing the same), we have a different issue. But it's always been this issue; it's always been this close to home, it's just that it's increasingly visible and always getting worse. Unless something is done about it.

I came away with something extremely important from this talk. Like she said, that we're running out of fresh available water, and that we need to do something to change it. But more than that, we're in a position to change it. We're the 1% in a global consumer perspective, and we have the power and the capital to change this issue and so many more.

At the end of her talk, she left us with the words of her ninety-five-year-old activist friend. In regard to the commonly shared feeling of being overwhelmed by social justice issues to the point that it feels like we have to pick and choose, or care about one over another, she quoted this friend, saying "Activism is like taking a bath, you do it every day, or you stink".

Green-Uppers posing for a photo with Maude Barlow after the event.

Thanks for reading, and a HUGE thanks to Maude Barlow for coming to SMC!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Earth Fest Facebook Album.

I don't want to overload my blog with photos (not that I haven't already), but as a follow-up from my last post about Earth Fest, check out these photos! It was a great day, and I hope to see a bunch of you prospective students there next year!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

This Weekend: Earthfest!

It is my pleasure to announce that this Sunday (tomorrow), in Ross Sports center, Green Up will host it's annual Earth Fest to kick off the incredibly rad Earth Week. Earth Fest is an eco-friendly festival with the objective of educating and sharing our love for the natural world with everyone else who cares. But on top of that, it's a day of music, food, and fun-filled activities, all sponsored by your friendly neighborhood sustainability club! This year our musical guest will be Mission South, and as always we will have the Ben and Jerry's truck as well as tons of local food and other vendors.

The bigger details have been coming together for months, so it was nice that yesterday, members of Green Up got together to make official t-shirts for us to wear to the event. It was great weather and we played music while we did it, so it was a nice way to have fun and finish the minor details after having worked on all the other planning for a while. Because it's kind of like Earth Fest is a baby, and Green Up is the village that raised it. It's been put on for years before I came to SMC, but it's really rewarding that tomorrow will be the result of our collective club efforts to put on a great event about something that we really care about for the students at SMC. Everyone played their part, and now that it's all come together, we're pretty pumped.

So come and check it out! And after the fun tomorrow, Earth Week will commence with other events throughout the week that you can attend to learn about all the things that we at Green Up find to be important issues; namely, a talk by Maude Barlow about the global water crisis, which we thought was relevant to our recent SMC Bottle-Free campaign to get bottled water off campus.

Here's a schedule of all Earth Week events:

Sunday 4/15     Earth Fest w/ Mission South
                          BBQ w/ local foods -- Ben & Jerry's -- Tie Dye and more. FREE*.
                          2.30pm-5.00pm RAIN LOCATION ROSS
Monday 4/16   Screening of Blue Gold
                         Documentary on world water issues
                         7.00pm-8.30pm Cheray 111
Wednesday 4/17   Local Food Night in Alliot
                         Each station will offer a local, VT product
                         4.45pm-8.00pm Alliot Dining Hall
Thursday 4/19 Fair Trade Coffee Hour
                         Free* Baked Goods
                         8.30am-10.00am St. Ed's Foyer
                         Outdoor Volunteer Efforts Trash Pick Up
                         2.00pm-4.00pm MOVE Office
                         Maude Barlow - Keynote Speaker
                         The global water crisis and the coming battle for the
                         right to water.
                         6.00pm-7.30pm Recital Hall, McCarthy

Thanks for reading!

*NOTE: I would like to indicate that my colloquial use of the word "free" is not meant to offend, merely to express that these things will not require that participants pay anything to our organization upon receipt of these goods/services. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Weekend and Women's Hockey.

This past weekend SMC students had a four-day weekend for Easter, which I spent on campus and in the Burlington area. We've had long weekends before where a ton of people go home and a few stay, but in comparison this past one was post-apocalyptic; the only time there were people on campus was when locals (or other non-students) came to Easter mass on Sunday. 'Twas pretty creepy.

Anyway, Friday and Saturday I spent trying to do work as well as fraternizing with the remaining fellow students on my floor (mostly the latter), and then Sunday I went to the house of some family friends in Burlington for Easter brunch. I got to hide Easter eggs, which was an awesome new experience! I hadn't even been around an Easter egg hunt in years, and I think that hiding them (a.k.a perching them in precarious places because I'm tall) might be more fun than finding them. Either that or I'm growing up (weird).

Also while with these friends, I got to go to a game of the International Women's World Championships. It was Russia vs. USA, and USA won 9-0 (I'm not a hockey person, but I'm pretty sure that score falls in the category of athletic annihilation). It was a cool thing to watch, and I was impressed by one woman on the US team who was ferocious for her size; but that may just be my ignorance of the sport (are most female hockey players fiery and petite?). It was really cool to watch and I got into it despite the fact that I'd never seen a hockey match in my life. Here are some pictures:

Teams lining up; blue jerseys are USA.

Final Score.

It was hard to get action shots on my phone (I tried, trust me). And even if I could they wouldn't do justice to how impressive it was in person. Also, here's the page with what appears to be the goings-on of the tournament, for those interested.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Photos from Free Cone Day

So, I was working on this awesome video with footage from Free Cone Day that I was going to make into a cool clip to share here! But unfortunately, I ran into some technical difficulties, but I didn't want this day to go un-shared, so here goes.

Every year in Burlington occurs the awesomeness that is Ben and Jerry's Free Cone Day! It's their way of saying "thanks" for the patronage, and people gladly line up around the block to say "you're welcome"; sometimes more than once (which isn't even frowned upon). Check out the photos:

Taken from Rite Aid around the corner.

Tons of servers.

Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz!

My friends Tarah and Dan.

Self-explanatory. ;p

If I can figure out the video in the near future, I'll give this post an update. Otherwise, I can't wait to go again next year!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Trevor Hall at Higher Ground

For sure, one of the highlights of pursuing higher education in the Burlington area is Higher Ground. Saint Mike's students frequent this venue for musicians such as, for example, Cas Haley and Trevor Hall. Last night I saw them, and it was my first experience at Higher Ground! It was great; five friends and I piled into a four-door sedan (it's a short drive), and after an awesome show we hit up a nearby Burger King for veggie burgers and fries. Definitely my idea of a Sunday night ;)

Here are some photos! Also, I highly recommend checking out both of these artists (not to plug, they just rock!).




Cas Haley...


The crowd...

Trevor Hall...


Thanks for reading!