Archive for October, 2010

Time, Success, IS

October 30th, 2010

As the title suggests, this blog entry consists of three short fragments that are completely unrelated. Well, that may be a lie. Everything is related in some way. Alright, here we go:

Time remains in an interesting topic. In my Astronomy class, we have talked about how time slows down when you are near strong gravitational forces and when you move at high speeds. This is related to how space time can be warped. Wow, it is all very complicated and fascinating. However, sometimes it seems beyond the understanding of human beings. Even the regular passage of time without any physics theory is hard to grasp. At this point, there are only six weeks of classes left in the semester. I still don’t understand how the beginning of the semester turned into half way through the semester into the last weeks of the semester.

Remember how I shared that one of my best friends here at Wooster, Itai, was applying in New York City at Goldman Sachs. Well, he got hired. He’ll be starting a couple months after graduation as a Technology Analyst. On the day he heard this news, the Wooster Volunteer Network had organized the Nearly Naked Run. This event is a fundraiser and the money that was raised this year went to the victims of the Pakistani Flood. The Nearly Naked Run is a relay race with teams of four people. Unfortunately, our first runner tore his hamstring in the first two seconds of the race. We couldn’t compete, we couldn’t win, and our friend was injured. However, there was also an individual sprint. Itai competed and won. The prize was 50 dollars to the Wooster Inn pub. It seemed like it was Itai’s day.

IS is going relatively well. I have over twenty pages of literature review and my goal is to have thirty by Thursday. When I hit thirty, I have met the page requirement of the literature review and then I will start worrying about the quality of my writing. Next week, I will have to present my IS topic to my fellow Communication majors.

Bastiaan

Cedar Point and Crossing Guard Dreams

October 25th, 2010

Let’ start with some hard facts:

3 x Millennium Force
2 x Top Thrill Dragster
1 x Maverick
2 x Haunted House
1 x Magnum XL 200
1 x Shooting Rapids
1 x Steel Dragon
1 x Panda Express Food

All people that have spent a day at an amusement park know that this is not a bad score for less than 8 hours at the Cedar Point. It was a beautiful 75-degree sunny day. The nice weather was only interrupted by a one hour thunderstorm that closed down all the rides that involve going up. I was very lucky a couple of times, especially one time when I went in line for the Top Thrill Dragster right after it had been closed down. Only one couple was in front of me in the line. I have written about 400+ feet drops and 120 mph speeds before on this blog, so I won’t go into detail. Still, I want to mention again that the feelings the drugs in your brain generate on these rides are amazing.

Being a crossing guard may be my dream job. I was on duty for half an hour today and I loved it. The main street that runs through The College of Wooster is called Beall Avenue. The street has been completely renovated over the past two years, but in the process they removed the traffic light at the main pedestrian crosswalk. This has led to huge lines of very upset drivers in both directions. Campus Council has taken the initiative to address this problem. Part of the solution that the Beall Avenue Committee came up with were a funny educational video to be displayed in the main student lounge, an article in the local newspaper, and crossing guards during rush hours. I was on duty from 11:30 until 12:00. I had a real whistle accompanied by an orange reflecting vest. The results of crossing guarding where miraculous. There was never a line of more than three cars in either direction and students only had to wait ten to twenty seconds before crossing. I had a great time addressing the crowds. I was asking them if they knew how to cross, I was complimenting skilled crossers, and I was encouraging everyone to watch the educational video. At one point, I was even talking to the press who was present to document the event. I felt so happy after my half hour of duty that I consider becoming a professional crossing guard.

Bastiaan

PS you should find time to watch an amazing 1.5 hour documentary called “home.” Here is the trailer, but the whole documentary is legally available on YouTube on HD quality for free.

Three Great Things

October 23rd, 2010

Of course, I am writing IS. There is always work to do, so every moment not spent on IS could be considered procrastination. However, I am not too bothered by it. It seem like I am remembering the following lesson these days:

“All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.”
Samuel Butler

Yesterday was amazing. It started out as a normal day, but it was also the day of my driver’s test. I went down to the Wooster Department of Motor Vehicles to take my road test. However, upon arrival they told me that I had to take all tests again. The last time I was at the Wooster DMV was more than sixty days ago, so my “written” test and my eye test had expired. Fortunately, I had come a little early. They let me take both tests right there and then. I was most nervous for the eye test, but I am glad that I found out the standards are not that high. The written test wasn’t that hard either, because you can miss 9 out of 40 easy questions and still pass. So, right before my scheduled road test time, I had completed all non-road tests.

The night before this test, I had gone down to the testing area to practice my maneuverability skills. The first time I took the test, I knocked down a cone and that means immediate failure. I didn’t want that to happen again. I went to the test site together with my friend Itai. Unfortunately, they had taken the cones inside for the night. However, Itai and I are liberal arts educated students and therefore possess extraordinary creative skills. We found some crates that people had left outside of a nearby gas station. We placed these crates where the cones usually are and we started practicing. I tried it six times before I felt confident enough that I was going to pass the next day.

Back to the day of the test. I really hoped that I would not get the robot like lady from hell again, but I did. Again, she showed no sign of being human. Small talk, no. Smiles, no. Unscripted sentences, no. I asked her a question that she did not expect and her face went blank. It was almost like one of the blue screens Windows users are familiar with. She rebooted and we could continue my test. I passed my maneuverability test without touching any of the cones. I asked her, just to be sure, if I had passed. She confirmed that I had passed that part of the test. My little in-car celebration again received no human response. We continued on to the road. When I made my first turn I heard a deep manly voice next to be: “SLOOOOOOOOOW DOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWN!” That is always a great start of a road test. Unfortunately, I heard this same exact voice when I turned later. It didn’t feel good, but I just kept going. When we returned to the DMV station, the lady from hell told me I had passed the testing. I couldn’t believe it. I tried some small talk again, but she did not respond. In her robot like voice, she reported that I had to slow things down because if I were to get in contact with another vehicle significant damage could be caused. Never thought of that before, damage after contact with another vehicle… When she handed me the report card, I noticed that I had passed the test with a total of 25 out of the 25 allowed penalty points. One more and I would have failed. Fifteen points for driving too fast (once for taking a fast right turn, once for a left turn, and once for driving too fast in general). Five points taking a turn to the left too wide. Five points for braking too late. I didn’t care, because I never had to deal with those demons again.

Okay, maybe my story about the driving test was a little too elaborate. However, it shows how emotionally involved I was in this process. In the picture on my new driver’s license, you can still see the blushes on my cheeks from the stress. So, the first out of the three great things in this post is that I got my driver’s license.

The second great things is that I went to the Ringling Brothers Circus on Friday. They call it the greatest show on Earth. At first I was skeptical, now I am a believer. I am pretty sure that this must indeed be the greatest show on Earth. I was not too excited that I signed up at first. It was a Friday late afternoon and I was about to board a bus full of first years that were very loud. I felt like a senior citizen on a school bus. However, as the show started I forgot all about the bus trip. I entered a new world where people can do things that go beyond the imagination. The highlight for me was a steel globe with a diameter of 16 feet . In this globe, seven motorcycles raced around. Yes, it sounds as impossible as it looks. They make loops in all directions while they manage to avoid each other in this tiny space. I still can’t believe that I witnessed that. Also, the animals in this circus were amazing, the acrobats inhuman, and the stunts were life threatening. I loved it.

The third great things is that I will be going to the Roller Coaster Capital of the World tomorrow. It looks like the weather in Cedar Point will be 74 degrees and sunny. Perfect for a day of riding coasters.
Bastiaan

Visiting another great school

October 21st, 2010

Four days of break can have extremely positive effects. I think almost all students go back to classes with renewed energy even though fall break is just two additional days off. I immediately noticed how many students had gotten a haircut over break. That may seem like a small detail, but it just illustrates how a little bit of extra time gives people the opportunity to do things they usually don’t really have time for.

My fall break did not involve any class work. I met the goal I had set for myself in order to not have to worry about Independent Study (IS) over fall break.

Friday, I drove 7 hours to Geneva, New York to visit one of my best friends from home. Henk is studying abroad in the United States this year and he is at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. It was my first visit to a college other than Wooster, so I finally had some material to compare my school to.

I really enjoyed the visit and how Henk showed me HWS college life. When I had fully arrived on Friday we went out. It was interesting to see that all students at his school go to bars in downtown Geneva. Most students in Wooster stay on campus to celebrate the weekend and dance at our campus bar. Both are nice ways to socialize, but I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere  and the sound the level in the bars in Geneva. It was a nice environment to meet new people and have conversation.

Another thing I really liked about Henk’s campus was the large lake they have right next door. Especially with the fall colors it was beautiful. Aside from meeting Henk’s friends and socializing, we played lots of tennis. We also watched some movies, played some video games, and laughed an awful lot. It was really a break that included everything except for academics. It was amazing to be worry-free for four days.

Of course, you probably want me to come to a conclusion about which college was nicer or better. Henk and I obviously joked about our own college being way better than the other. However, I have to come to the conclusion that small private liberal arts colleges are just an amazing way to get educated: living, learning, eating, playing sports, all on one campus with your peers.  Henk’s school is great in many ways, but so is Wooster. Finding the right school is really about how you fit in. If you are looking for a small liberal arts school, it is like looking for a family that will adopt you for four years. Henk has been welcomed at HWS with open arms  as I could tell from the large number of friends he has made. I have felt like a God in France (that is a Dutch expression) during my three years in Wooster. I think we both have found the right family.

Bastiaan

Fall Break is Around the Corner

October 13th, 2010

This semester has been beautiful so far and today is beautiful as well. This is the third time I am experiencing fall in Northeast Ohio, but it feels like the first time again. The colors, the crisp air, the patterns in the sky, everything is so unrealistically beautiful. It almost feels like time has frozen and winter will never come. However, all students at Wooster who are not first years know that it won’t be long until we need to get our winter boots out. Not yet though, because it is 70 degrees right now and I am wearing flip flops (although flip flops is not really a sign of good weather; some college students wear them year round).

I am in a right-before-break state of mind. Although fall break is only a two-day extension of the weekend, it feels like a nice resting point in the middle of a busy semester. What I want right now is to get enough senior independent study  done so that I can leave for fall break without having to worry about doing schoolwork. I am visiting one of my best friends from home who studies abroad in Geneva, New York this semester. I am looking forward to seeing his campus and meeting the people that he hangs out with in the US. It is still not easy to push myself to do work right now because the weather is so nice and there are so many other things to do.

As you know, last weekend was homecoming so I did not get a lot of work done. This week I have been interviewing people for different roles on campus. In addition to that,  I have all my usual commitments that take up a lot of time. If you follow this link you can see how full my calendar was this week and that does not even include working on IS (independent study) or homework.

Well, since I am trying to get IS work done before break, I should probably stop here.

Bastiaan

PS one more thing: I am giving two campus tours this week and I love giving tours, especially when the weather is as nice as now. Alright, one more thing. One of my best friends here, Itai, is interviewing with Goldman Sachs this weekend in NYC. That is pretty exciting. He also happens to be the star cricket player that you saw in my last post.

Homecoming sets Record

October 11th, 2010

Of course, this blog is supposed to help prospective students decide if they want to go to Wooster. They told me I could write good stuff, but they asked me to write critical stuff as well. This is exactly that. I am reporting about a good event, but not without criticism.

The team that was scheduled to play the Fighting Scots Football Team during our homecoming weekend dropped out of our conference. It turned out that it was not easy to find a team to replace Earlham as an opponent.

Our college president, Grant Cornwell, is a great cricket fan. When he found out that the attendance record for a college cricket match in the United States was 400, he decided that our homecoming without a football game would be the perfect opportunity to break that record.

Some of my friends are on the cricket team, so I was happy that they got this opportunity. However, the way it was implemented made it feel a little bit like a hoax.

First, there was a press release by Associated Press. The title of this release was “No Football Foe? That’s not cricket.” This article was picked up by the websites of Indian Times, Collegefootball.com, Sports Illustrated, Fox News, etc. I thought it was pretty cool to have the name of our college in all these major news outlets. However, the press release made it sound like our college was just as happy to have a cricket game as it would have been with a Football game. I am not sure that everyone was on board with that.

Part of the reason that this event turned into a marketing tool is that we have a new vice-president for enrollment and college relations. Scott Friedhoff knows what it takes to get the name of a college on the map. He invited the Cleveland Plain Dealer to report on our cricket game and he made sure the crowd pretended that they were extremely excited for the cricket match. I am sure that on video it will look like no one could wait for the game to start. In reality, however, hardly anyone knew the rules of cricket and people were just sitting in the stadium more excited to break a semi-official record than to watch the game.

Although we broke the attendance record by a lot, we probably broke a different record as well. Within thirty minutes of playing time, about half of the crowd had left. The sheets that explained the basics of cricket did not teach people enough about the game to make it worth their time. In the video below you can get a short impression of how the event was. You get extra credit if you can spot me 25 seconds into the video.

If you know enough about cricket, you can also tell that we have some pretty talented players on the team. And, they left the fake excitement out of the video. Both good things. You also don’t see that there were some very supportive fans that stayed until the end. We had over 900 people come to the game. It started at 4:30 p.m., but it did not end until after 9:00 p.m. when there were only a handful of cricket lovers left in the stands.

Overall, homecoming was great. We can give the weather a lot of the credit for that because it was just beautiful. On Wednesday, I am planning to write something that does not show how much of an old whiner I really am.

Bastiaan

Cars cost money

October 6th, 2010

This year is the first year of my college career that I own a car. It is great to have a car. You can go on a romantic getaway (see previous post) or you can go shopping. You can pick people up from the airport or you can go out for dinner. However, having a car also brings responsibilities. Car ownership is one of those outside of the classroom learning experiences.

A couple weeks ago I checked the pressure of my tires for the first time. I did not know how exactly I could get my tires up to the right pressure, but I asked a very nice gentleman who helped me out after he laughed at me for a while.

This week, as you may have already heard, I learned that you need to register your car every year before your birthday. Failure to do so can lead to a 45 dollar fine plus a 20 dollar late fee. Talking about great birthday presents.

My next step is that I am going to check the oil of my car. I have never done that before and I have heard it is important.

Also, my windscreen wipers are not working as well as I want them to. I will check on those too.

Hopefully, I won’t get a flat tire, because I don’t know how to change a tire for the spare one.

Lastly, I am learning that even here in the US gas uses a lot of money (at home people always say that it is so cheap here)

Something else I wanted to share that is not car related: I had an astronomy exam on Monday. I did not study as much as I should have, but the exam questions asked exactly what I had studied. It is always the other way around: you study everything and it seems like the exam knows what you skipped over and asks exactly that. Not this time. It felt great and I am hoping to get a 100 percent, but I know I probably missed something.

Well, while I am sharing, one more thing. The weather today was crazy. It started out gray, then it turned nice, then it was very gray again, and now it is beautiful. The weather websites are spreading rumors that it will be sunny and in the mid 70s for the coming four days. That includes our homecoming weekend, so that is very good news. I love beautiful fall days.

Please, can I share one more thing? I got really nice birthday presents from my girlfriend. She gave me a very good shaving brush made out of boar bristle. She also gave me some amazing smelling shaving cream. I can’t wait for tonight when I am going to use these gifts together with my straight razor!

Bastiaan

Life is just very good

October 4th, 2010

The title of this post says it all. Life is just amazing. The only problem is that I keep forgetting about it and it appears to me that I am not the only one.

I say this because during my romantic getaway this weekend I had to deal with some disappointments. I had planned to stay in a tent and I ended up staying in some kind of conference center that was much more expensive. I also got fined because I had failed to renew my license plate registration. Some small things that really upset me.

However, the getaway was great. We saw lots of deer, birds, and other wildlife. The weather was great and the Ohio State Park (Deer Creek) that we went to was beautiful. On the way back, we stopped in Columbus for dinner. We discovered the Short North. It is a neighborhood in Columbus that reminded us much of Soho in New York City. There were lots of little restaurants, designer shops, and art galleries.

The disappointments of the weekend had such a big impact on my that they almost made me forget about all the good things.

It seems like people are never satisfied, no matter how much they have. I go to a very good school, I have good relationships with my parents and siblings, I have a great girlfriend, I am healthy. I could go on and on with this list, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that a lot of times I am irritated, disappointed, or even unhappy. I can’t really say that anything is wrong in my life, but sometimes it feels that way. The crazy thing is that you can expand this concept to people like Bill Gates or Brad Pitt. They have more than me, at least in terms of monetary wealth, but they still have times that they think life is hard and unfair to them.

These thoughts only remind me that I should be grateful. I want to be happy about everything that I have. It does not seem fair if a person who is as privileged as me cannot enjoy this. If I can’t enjoy it, it would be better to have someone else be as privileged who can enjoy it. In other words, I try to make it worth that I am so privileged.

I think the next thing I will do tonight is make a list of 100 ways in which I am privileged. Who knows it will help me appreciate what I have more.

Bastiaan

Getaways

October 1st, 2010

This week was on of those weeks that go by without me being aware of it going by. It is Friday morning and the week is almost over. It is also the first time that I sit down to update you on life here at Woo. I have been wanting to write about last Saturday, so let me start with that.

Last Saturday, I went to Ingenuity Fest in Cleveland: “The Ingenuity Festival is Cleveland’s annual weekend-long celebration of art and technology, designed for audiences of any age and experience, staged in Downtown Cleveland. ” The founder and current Artistic Director of this festival is my Arts & Entrepreneurship professor James Levin.

The setting of this Festival is amazing. It is stretched over more than a mile long bridge in the center of Cleveland. Instead of being on the top level, it is on the bottom level of the bridge. This levelt was once used for the subway line. Now this bottom level was covered in art and technology. The highlight was a 130 feet high artifical waterfall that came down from the bridge. Another big highlight for me was the performance of one of Wooster’s best student bands, Freddie Cool. It was very interesting to see all this art displayed and performed in this unconventional setting.

A highlight of that day that had nothing to do with Ingenuity was the Sushi dinner that we enjoyed after going to the Fest. Sushi Rock in Cleveland is unbelievable!

After bing away from campus for a full day, I had to catch up on some homework of course. Fortunately, I have had some very productive moments this week and I feel like I am on top of Senior IS.

I have also gained experience with my straight razor. My face is still mostly undamaged. However, I did give myself two minor cuts and quite some rash after shaving with my new razor twice. It is a learning process and I am willing to suffer a little bit before I master the art of straight razor shaving.

Today, I’ll be going off campus again, this time for a romantic getaway. My girlfriend and I have been together for three years exactly today. We want to celebrate that by staying in some nice nature are here in Ohio.

Well, that was the update for now. I’ll work hard to write a little bit more frequently in the coming week!

Bastiaan