Tag Archive for 'greg'

Cornell In The Fall

So what have I been up to since my trip to Cleveland? That’s a good question. I don’t have much of an answer, I’m afraid. And, sorry, but I still haven’t taken a picture of my office to put up yet. Patience.

I did have the pleasure of getting a visit from Greg this weekend. In fact, being a better blogger than I, his version of the weekend went up Sunday. Here I am, reporting it on Tuesday. But I have pictures, so ha ha!

My Friday started out on a not-so-lovely note, what with receiving a take-home exam in a class I’m not doing great in. It started getting substantially better, however, when I started said exam that afternoon and got about half of it completed without significant trouble. Since the exam is due this Friday, and I’d nearly finished the other homework assignment due this week, that meant I wouldn’t feel stressed about spending my weekend with friends.

I was in the middle of cooking a paltry, last-minute-running-out-of-food-items meal of pasta with chicken, mushrooms, pesto when Greg knocked on my door. I’d had Aladdin on for entertainment while cooking, but that quickly took a back seat to the hours of talking and catching up. And, because British humor makes everything better, we topped the evening off with a couple of episodes of “A Bit of Fry and Laurie”. (Dear God, Stephen Fry has the most amazing grasp of the English language–but that may be a topic for another day.) Then off to bed.

McGraw Tower

Saturday morning, we managed to rouse ourselves and get to campus in time for the noon chimes concert in McGraw Tower. It’s not really fair to say that the chimes are one of things Cornell is famous for, but it is fair to claim that they’re something that anyone who went to Cornell definitely remembers. In addition to chiming the hour, there are daily concerts on the tower’s twenty-one bells, making them some of the most frequently played chimes in the world. Since it was Family Weekend for the Class of 2010, lines to climb the 161 stairs to the top of the tower were fairly long, but we made it in. We dashed around the top of the tower, snapping photos of the surrounding views, the bells ringing overhead as a student below us played “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera. That was followed by a song I didn’t recognize. We then headed down a flight to the room where the student chimesmaster was playing (and the volume was a little less ear-ringing) just in time to catch Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” and “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. It was really quite impressive to watch the chimesmaster playing because it involved standing on one foot while ringing a bell with each hand and one foot. Quite the dance. The concert concluded with “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters,” the Cornell alma mater, and then we got to fight people down the stairs.

Ezra Cornell

We then wandered about campus a bit, taking in the sights and the history as narrated by me and some of the legends and such I’ve read. The autumn leaves made a wonderful backdrop for the statues of Ezra Cornell (above) and Andrew Dickson White, the university’s first president. Even on a day that was relatively gray, some of the colors were still spectacular. We swung north to get a view of Falls Creek Gorge, which was much changed from when I saw it with Mark a few weeks ago. The rain made a huge difference. (As an aside, when I took a look at Six Mile Creek on Friday, it looked more like Six Miles Of Rushing Muddy Flood Waters River.) Instead of taking Greg out toward the Plantations and the eastern reaches of campus, we circled back through the science, labor, and hotel buildings–with special attention toward the Space Sciences building, which is home to the Mars Exploration Rover project. Our final stop, prior to the obligatory Engineering Quad tour, was at Uris, where we took a peak at part of the brain collection there. In particular, I had to point out the brain of Edward Rulloff, a nineteenth-century genius and murderer who plagued this area and who now has a Collegetown restaurant named for him. Since I pass Rulloff’s every day and salivate over their list of specials, we decided to try lunch there, a decision I do not regret in the least. Excellent sweet potato fries.

We picked up a bottle of chianti on the way back to the apartment, and, after a brief pit stop, continued our extensive walk by heading down to the Commons to visit a couple of used book stores. I really need to start carrying some paper and a pencil with me into these places so that I can write down books and authors I want to check for at the library. It’s ridiculous how many books of interest I find. I also got a kick out of discovering a copy of a German geometry textbook from 1929 that was written in Altschrift so that I could barely make out the letters.

Still haven’t made it to the new independent music store in town. Still need to.

When we got home, we jumped straight into lasagna making and Joe, Joanna, Greg, and I had a lovely dinner of that together. Since we lost track of the time, we had a brisk walk back up the hill in order to make it to campus in time to see A Scanner Darkly, which is based on a Philip K. Dick story (like Minority Report was). The rotoscoping they did on the live-action in the film made things a bit bizarre and tough to follow, but we decided that was probably the purpose, what with drugs and addiction being the primary topics of the story. As always, there was a twist, which I’m pleased to say I guessed before the big revelation at the end. Ah ha, my father would be so proud.

Back to the apartment in time for some SNL, which was not, I’m sure, as fantastically and unspeakably wonderful as I expect this weekend’s episode to be. I’m every so slightly looking forward to Hugh Laurie hosting.

Sunday was back to gray and rainy, which meant that Greg slept past nine, but I, thinking he might wake up like on Saturday, got up earlier. One of these days I’m going to write an ode to the sleep I’ve missed. Or something like that. I did eventually wake Greg up by starting to make blueberry muffins, but I think he forgave me. Joe joined us for breakfast, and, although Greg had to head off in the early afternoon, Joe ended up staying the entire day. I’m nice and distracting like that.

Jon got home and joined us for dinner, dessert (apple crisp!), and The Incredibles. All in all, a lovely weekend.

A Tale Of Thunder

Otherwise known as “What I Did While Everyone Else On Earth Read Harry Potter 6”.

I have officially survived the camping trip at Pymatuning State Park. Anyone who was in the Ohio/Pennsylvania vicinity, I’m sure, knows that it has rained this weekend. Most of the weekend, in fact. It just got done pouring outside my window a couple minutes ago, actually. But that’s beside the point. The point is that the commentary is below, and the photos are here.

Pymatuning State Park

The weekend of camping began around 2:50 Friday when Greg picked Mark and me up from our uni. We drove to Heinen’s with our shopping list and started tracking down ingredients. That night we were having typical camping fare: hot dogs and s’mores. Made it back to the car in time for some rain, an unfortunate precursor to the remainder of the trip. By 4:10 we were out on the road and heading due east toward Pymatuning State Park. Rather than taking I-90 by the lake, we took 322 (basically Mayfield Rd.), which gave us a much more pleasant viewing experience in my opinion. The two-lane highway cut through trees and cornfields, mostly, punctuated at times by little towns and their single spire churches. We ran into a couple of Amish buggies as well. Rain continued in intervals.

Shortly before six o’clock, we arrived at the campground, shooed some people out of our reserved spot, and took a quick look around. We had a non-electric spot, with no one immediately adjacent to us, though the campsites are fairly close together. Everything was pretty standard: gravel driveway, fire ring, and rotted-out, nasty picnic table. Our lot was pretty well covered by trees, but peeking between them and off to the left was the lake.

Suspecting that the rain would follow us (WHY did I leave my rain jacket at home?!) we hurried to set-up the tent and store our gear. Once that was done, we grabbed our water bottles, filled them at the spigot, and headed toward the camp store to get some wood and ice. We pretty much made it back without much worse than a couple raindrops, a rumble or two of thunder, and sore hands. That’s about where luck ended.

Immediately, we set to with the fire: gathering wood, making wood shavings, and generally being scout-like. Within a few matches, it was clear that nature was against us. We kept striking matches, the wood kept not burning, and the rain kept falling. We leaned over the fire but to no avail. The light rain turned into a downpour, and we ran into the tent for cover.

When the rain slowed, we ventured outdoors again, me in my wet shirt and the guys in fresh, dry ones, to find our rain-soaked firewood. Cue a new march to the camp store, this time for lighter fluid and a full box of matches. As Mark put it, “with enough lighter fluid, you can get even water to burn”. It turns out that perseverance is also a necessary ingredient. It was well after dark (and raining again, surprise!) before we got a fire capable of cooking our hot dogs. Let me tell you, though, those hot dogs were excellent. Greg and I finished up with a couple of s’mores, then we all crowded into the very dark tent and called it a night.

I didn’t sleep particularly well, what with a winter sleeping bag and the ground trying to mess with my back. But I managed to stay still until 8 AM, when I started recording our little escapade. At half-past a rather vociferous crow woke Greg up, and we both started moving around. I grabbed my shower things and headed for the bathhouse. About all I say for it is that the water got warm.

When I got back, Mark was up, and it was time to try our pancakes. Greg had a punctuated coffee can we planned to put over a small fire and atop which we could cook pancakes, but things did not go quite as well as planned. Temperature regulation is a bit difficult on a campfire. As we were hungry, we gave up pretty quickly and laid into the Frosted Mini-Wheats we had the foresight to buy. Black cherries made a nice end to things.

Another trip to the camp store for more lighter fluid and some foil. (The kind we’d brought was not what we needed.)

Then we decided to try some hiking, but the trail was poorly marked, and it looked like it was several miles to the dam (and then we’d need to come back), so we decided that the car would be a good ally. Besides, I reasoned, that would give us a chance to sit and read for a bit at the dam.

As it turned out, going in the car was a brilliant idea because the moment we arrived at the dam, we suffered an absolutely torrential downpour. We sat in the car steaming (quite literally) with our Teddy Grahams and dried fruit until it passed.

Greg and I set out to explore, cameras in hand. We walked along the outlet, crossed the bridge that ran across the dam, poked around a building that I suspect provides some control over the dam, and journeyed down to the spillway. Naturally, there are many photos. We returned to the car to find Mark in the same spot, Dave Barry book in hand and ears firmly ensconced in the headphones attached to his iPod Shuffle.

By this point, the sun was out and it was growing muggier by the second. Greg and I changed into swimwear while Mark stayed back at the campsite with his book. Greg and I walked out to the beach and waded into the wonderfully cool water. There was once a time when I would have been swimming with my head wet with lake water, but I must say my sensibilities have changed somewhat since then.

When we got back to the campsite, we read for awhile before making another trip to the camp store, this time for ice and beverages. When we got back, we started straight into getting the fire going and dinner cooking. For this meal, we wrapped pepper- and Worchestershire-seasoned veggies (mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and potatoes) and beef in foil packets and placed them in the coals to cook. I added dessert by cutting up a couple of apples and wrapping them in foil. Just before dinner was ready, we noticed the change in the air that could only be a thunderstorm coming in. Down came the clothes line. Into the tent with the books. Back into the car trunk with the supplies. Just as the sky broke open, we fished the last foil packet out of the fire, doused it, and jumped into the car with the food, dinnerware, and three Cokes. Like the thunderstorm from earlier in the day, this was quite the storm. Eventually we found a pavilion where we could hide out and eat. In some ways, that dinner was our crowning glory.

Once the rain stopped and we got back to camp, there was still an hour or so before the sun was supposed to set and we had lots of wood and lighter fluid. So we lit the fire anew and made some more s’mores. Well after dark, we crawled back into the tent and talked for an hour or two before falling asleep. Now, had anyone been close enough to hear us, they would have been amazed at finding such geeks out camping. Among our topics of conversation: XML and the Oxford comma.

Since Pymatuning really seems best suited for fishing and boating, we had no qualms about heading out fairly early the next morning. Breakfast was leisurely, cereal and watermelon, followed by breaking down camp. By 10:30, I think, we were on the road home, and we got back to campus shortly after noon. The first and most important order of business? A shower. A nice, long, warm battle against the stickiness of sweat and the stench of woodsmoke. I’m happy to report that I have won.