Archive for December, 2011

Hot Prowls and Unsubscribe-List-This: Stanford 2011 Year in Review

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Yeah, that's about right.

A predominantly factual, occasionally satiric reflection on the crazy year that was 2011.

January:

  • After a record 11-1 season, Stanford Football continues to dominate in its 40-12 romp over Virginia Tech.  The almost banned Band celebrates with a party on the beach as hundreds of students ditch the first day of Winter Quarter.
  • Beloved quarterback Andrew Luck proceeds to solidify his Stanford hero status by deciding to forgo the NFL draft and finish his Stanford career.  Arrillaga scraps plans for the fifth on-campus gym to construct an edifice in Luck’s honor.
  • Confusion, fear, and panic, but mostly confusion grips the campus as Stanford Police fervently warns the entire student population of a Hot Prowl via mass text alert system.  As is the case with most current events on campus, “Hot Prowl” quickly becomes a popular party theme.
  • To add to campus confusion, mid-January brings mid-60’s and sunshine.

Also offered starting spring: Math 2 / Music 4B: Days of the Week in Modern Song

February:

  • Based on the popularity of hit single “Friday,” the Office of the Registrar introduces Phil 240: Front Seat / Back Seat: Existential Determinism in the Age of Rebecca Black
  • Valentine’s Day week heralds the annual V-week and the sale of chocolate va-jay-jays.  Despite promoters’ claims to the contrary, the student population remains convinced that “V” stands for very-awkward.

March:

  • Rogue reporters “out” Stanford athletes through sensational reporting in a Stanford Daily article on “The List.”  Student-athletes respond: “dude, you could’ve just picked up a copy if you ever went to the gym.”  Professors respond: “don’t misquote me, bro.”
  • Kappa Sig loses its housing, and fratstars adopt a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, scavenging social entrepreneurship mixers and RA candy bowls for subsistence.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy graces the halls of Stanford, generating more fanfare than Bill Gates and the Cataracs (though I admit that’d be an awesome name for a band) put together.  Ms. Frizzle plans a visit for 2012.
  • Stanford men’s swimming wins its 30th consecutive Pac-10 championship.  In other news, Stanford Hospital completes its first successful gill-removal surgery.

Revelers participate in the Stanford spring festival.

April:

  • Embracing Stanford’s hippie tradition, Stanford students choose to tie-dye their entire BODIES!!  Just kidding, that’s paint from the Asha Holi Festival on Sand Hill Fields.
  • Fear once again grips the campus as students find themselves on constant lookout for Indian men smelling like apples.
  • The great mailing list fail of 2011 (see also: “unsubscribe-list-this“) proves that, given an audience of thousands, Stanford students choose to post dozens of videos of silly cats and zero profanities.  My faith in humanity is restored.
  • Perez Hilton visits campus.  Hilton’s tweets on the visit: 37.  Stanford students in attendance: 8.
  • ASSU elections come and go.  The Wellness Room is still doing well.

Ah, the semi-charmed Stanford life....

May:

  • ‘The annual 680 Lomita Exotic party committee runs out of words that rhyme with “exotic” and opts for more direct marketing.  “Sweaty, Partially Naked People” is a great success.  Or at least people think it was.  Most don’t remember.
  • The International Hide and Seek champion is finally apprehended in Pakistan.  Osama bin Laden’s death is heralded with fountain hopping and “America, F*** Yeah” blaring from freshman dorms.
  • Third Eye Blind hosts a free concert.  Excited to reclaim their youth, Stanford students show up in droves with Beanie Babies and Giga Pets. (more…)

Top Eight* Reasons NOT to Go to Stanford

Friday, December 23rd, 2011
  • Gotta catch 'em all!!

    They’re flipping good at everything.  Seriously, where’s an underachieving kid supposed to find some mediocrity?  Yeah, sure, their engineering is world famous, but they’ve gotta have some underdog humanities programs or something, right?  Wrong again.  Stanford has the #1 psychology program, and the #1 history and the #2 English graduate programs in the nation.  Friggin’ overachievers.

  • They win so often it’s boring.  17 Directors’ Cups?  Yawn.  Couldn’t they, like, lose occasionally to spice things up?  And don’t even get me started on Stanford Men’s Swimming.  30 consecutive Pac-10 titles?  Why even bother going to meets?!
  • Small classes mean you might have to get to know your professors.  Ew.  You mean, they might want to be my friends, engage in meaningful discussions, and even take me out to lunch?  Gross.  Where’s the hand sanitizer?
  • Is that... sunshine I see?

    The weather is too nice.  How’s a kid supposed to concentrate with sunny weather and 65 degree temperatures in January?  What am I to do with my seasonally-inappropriate collection of pastel-colored ascots?  Besides, everyone knows that character can only be built by walking to class in the snow, uphill, both ways.  Like my forefathers, I want to suffer for my education, dammit!

  • Stanford students are too happy.  Seriously.  Aren’t you supposed to hate college?  But no, those meddling kids at Stanford insist on enjoying themselves!  All!  The time!  Is there something in the water?  We thought it’d be game over when we took away their lake  But noooo, they have to frolic in their fountains.  So we dyed them red.  And they frolicked in the stadium.  So we engineered a torrential downpour.  And they frolicked to victory over Cal in the Big Game.  Turns out you can even take happiness for credit at Stanford!  Bah humbug!
  • (more…)

The Stanford Christmas Tree

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

I don’t know about anyone else, but when the holidays arrive, I gather candy and good cheer and want to share it with everyone. The most direct way to do this is to buy Christmas decorations. From tinsel and holly to lights and ornaments, all of it brings a smile to my face. That’s why year after year I’ve been disappointed at being unable to find any on our campus. During my one fruitless search I found gnomes shaped like trees, but nothing involving the holiday that honors the tree the most – Christmas. That’s why when I saw the Tree dressed up  like a Christmas Tree, it made my dead/finals week.

It's a bad angle but there is a Santa hat hanging from the tip of the tree.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Happy Holidays Stanford!

Stanford in NYC Scrapped – Genuine Reasons or Well Played Game Play by the New York City authorities

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Manhattan skyline at nightJust last week I was all set to write about the very probable construction of a Stanford campus in the Big Apple. Stanford has been the long time frontrunner and the anticipated winner for this 2 billion dollar technical campus in New York City followed closely by Cornell University. Good thing that procrastination and finals week kept me busy enough to prevent me from posting about what is now a possibility that has faded into the oblivion, because it allows me to shed light on the recent development, or should I say back draw. It is true that slow and steady wins the race but sometimes it gets difficult to understand why the rabbit extremely close to finish line, not preoccupied with the illusions of overconfidence, failed to win.

The striking part about this issue was the fact that Cornell announced a $350 million gift shortly after Stanford decided to drop out of the race. This leads to the speculation that part of the reason for this sudden change of plans may be due to financial reasons. But was it so? I am skeptical about this reason since Stanford was poised to start a large-scale fundraising campaign, one of its kind, to meet the financial requirements of this project. Would the amount of the Cornell gift be a sufficient cause of concern?

Another reason for backing out of this contest was the attempted renegotiation of the terms of the project by the City’s authorities. This prompts one to think whether these attempts were made deliberately to force Stanford to withdraw out of frustration. With the huge gift, Cornell would potentially need lesser money from the city itself for the completion of the project while the Stanford proposal may have asked for more. Thus, in an effort to save this additional expense, the City might have pushed for new terms.

Whatever the reasons, this withdrawal ensures that the spirit engendered by Stanford in Silicon Valley will stay only in California, at least for the time being. Furthermore, it is yet to be observed whether Silicon Valley can in fact be duplicated in a State much different from California.

This Week in Stanford 12/6/11 – 12/19/11

Monday, December 19th, 2011

 

Forgive me Stanford, for there were finals. I didn’t have a chance to post the news last week since I was (attempting) to study diligently and it kind of got lost on my to-do-list. But I’m free. I’m home. And just because I’m not in the Bay Area doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s happening there.

  • In probably the biggest news of the last week, Stanford dropped its bid for the NYC campus giving room for Cornell to swoop in with their engineering center. The pure unadulterated California spirit that pervades our school is saved.
  • Andrew Luck didn’t win the Heisman. Although he was a runner-up at the Heisman award ceremony, he’s not only No. 1 at Stanford, but he may be taking that spot in the NFL draft pick next year.
  • Stanford doesn’t Occupy Wall Street. We don’t Occupy our campus. We Occupy the Future.  The SF Chronicle covered the event, offering a way for students to gain insight into why faculty and administrators alike may have invited them to the event.
  • Stanford admitted755 profros in early admission! This might be a little premature, but welcome to the farm! Or, really, it’s an awesome place and we hope they join us here.
  • Fiesta Bowl game tickets are gone. Vamooshed. Or in literal terms – sold out. If you’d like to get one still, I would start chatting up friends and alums.
  • We’ve ditched the engineering school in NYC and now Stanford is making plans for a much needed expansion of the campus’s artistic space. They’re going to add a new gallery and an academic building. We already have an engineering quad – it’s nice to finally see the arts get a space of their own.
  • Stanford’s ever growing offering of free classes are making waves in our credential heavy society. In this op-ed, Carey discusses how free courses from universities like Stanford are changing the meaning of “higher” education.
  • And just to end on a little known fact, other research teams are finding support for a Stanford study that says we can hallucinate color. The blog looks red – but is it really?

Otherwise, enjoy the holidays and break!

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Check out this epic Christmas-themed flash mob:

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YouTube Direkt

Safe travels, and have a wonderful break!

Just Enjoy the Show: The Twilight Saga Continues

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Yes, the long-awaited The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.  I know what you’re thinking.  Before you think it though, here it goes.  Breaking Dawn Part 1 is actually enjoyable.  That’s right, I said it, enjoyable.  If you know exactly what you are getting you will not be disappointed.  This is different than a lot of movies recently racing towards the Oscars that were a bit, ahem, disappointing.  I won’t name names, though, cough cough The Descendants, Moneyball, Beginners and The Tree of Life.  Even The Help.  I mean, good?  Yes, definitely.  The best we’ve ever seen?  I don’t think so.  Many of the movies seem to be coming up short.

I read a couple of reviews of Breaking Dawn, including the one in the L.A. Times, and I was expecting the worst.  This is from a fan of the Twilight series, both books and movies.  Okay, not a die-hard wait in line for the premiere or wear a t-shirt or admit out loud (oh wait, too late) fan or anything.  I probably would have fallen asleep during the midnight premiere.  Not even Harry Potter could keep me up I think.  Gasp, a Stanford student who likes Twilight and admits it?  The series is silly and a fantasy of course.  But that’s just it, it’s an escape.  I mean when you have to deal with guys not even offering to pick up the check anymore Edward and Jacob seem like a dream.  Also, amidst many vampire series, mostly lame, Stephenie Meyer did something right (make the characters likable).

So the reviews were harsh of course but to tell the truth Breaking Dawn personally was the only movie this holiday season so far that was fun to watch and without high expectations.  The movie covers the wedding, honeymoon (finally but don’t get your hopes up too much, this is still PG-13 after all), Bella’s pregnancy (spoiler alert, sorry) and birth (world’s fastest pregnancy) and ends with her transformation into a vampire (spoiler alert but come on you should  have seen that one coming).  Part 2 is up next but Part 1 was like an entire lifetime consolidated into one movie.

Breaking Dawn still doesn’t top the first Twilight movie with its sort of indie innocence before all the mega-fame and budgets.  However, Breaking Dawn is better and more faithful to the series than Eclipse, focusing more on the romance than the violence.  Actually, when I read the Breaking Dawn book in high school (hiding it under the desk from people who literally cringed when they saw it) I wondered how they would make it into a movie, especially with the birth scene.  Bill Condon (director of Dreamgirls) did a nice job.  The actors, Kristen Stewart (a strong actress anyway), Taylor Lautner, and Robert Pattinson do the best they can with the material they are given and try to do as little winking at the camera as possible, so for that I applaud them.  Pattinson especially is much better in this movie and even gives Edward somewhat of a backbone.  Bella and Edward’s wedding is a highlight with its beautiful décor and wedding dress (vampires really do have good taste).

Just let go of the questions (like how can a vampire get someone pregnant and the whole verging on creepy imprinting thing), sit back, and go with it.

Bruno Mars – It Will Rain [New Music]

 

 

Chemistry is Sexy

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Bravo, Stanford chemists. The class that was once (is?) the bane of many a freshmen has managed to reclaim a bit of pride from a few intreprid students. They’re chemists. And they know it. And now everyone else does too.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

The video,  a peek at what this element of science means at Stanford, is gaining traction online. With views from Australia to China, it’s clear that chemists everywhere are bonded in their love of this subject. Or, you know,  some students are trying to reaffirm their lab intensive calling.  Either way, the video has bright colors and flasks – way better than your average chemistry joke. Take a study break and enjoy!

Hidden Treasures: Stanford’s Social Dance Scene

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

 

Stanford students havin' a ball!

To the uninitiated, the verbiage of the social dance world probably sounds like a foreign language.  Wanna Lindy HopShim Sham, or do the Hully-Gully?  Need a partner for Kerry Sets?  Did you learn BNP at FNW?

Yet, every first* Friday of  the month, hundreds of Stanford students gather in Roble Gym for “Jammix,” an event for social dancers consisting of dozens of dances from the past three centuries.  From polka to salsa, from swing to redowa, Jammix has it all, and newbies with a willingness to learn are welcomed alongside old pros.

Wait, you may ask, where do these students come from?  Thanks to Stanford’s enormously popular dance division courses, every quarter brings new initiates to Stanford’s thriving social dance community.  And don’t be discouraged by flashy dance shows like “Dancing with the Stars” – jeans, T-shirts, and socks or dancing shoes are the preferred attire among Stanford’s dance ninjas.

How do I get started?

There are tons of awesome dance courses at Stanford.  The timeless favorite starter course is Dance 46: Social Dances of North America I.  Often full within 48 hours of the opening of registration, “Social I” is a jam-packed whirlwind of America’s favorite social dances.  Ever wanted to sweep a damsel off her feet a la Fred Astaire?  Don’t worry, you’ll be a pro at waltz and swing in no time!  Ever envied Michael Buble’s sweet salsa moves?  He’ll be wishing he’d saved the last dance for you.  😉

It don't mean a thing.... (Stanford swing dancers in Roble Gym)

For the full gamut of awesome social dance classes, check out the following list.  Most of these courses are taught by Stanford’s resident expert Richard Powers, whose role as a world-renowned dance historian has kept social dance alive and authentic on the Farm and beyond.

I want more!
  • Awesome!  Lucky for you, the annual Viennese Ball is right around the corner.  Held every February, Viennese Ball is the largest social dance gathering of the year.  Usually hosted at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, Viennese covers two dance floors with live swing and waltz bands and features a beautiful, elaborate opening ceremony.  Bust out the tuxes and evening gowns, because this is a breathtaking night to remember!
  • In advance of Viennese, Stanford holds the Bon Bon Ball and “Austria Fortnight,” two weeks full of free social dance lessons throughout campus – no partner or experience necessary.  Wanna learn more?  Check out the Stanford Dance Division website here.  Happy dancing!
* sometimes second

Good one, Arrillaga.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Intended as motivation for finals...?

I’m pretty sure I’m an involuntary participant in some sort of psych experiment right now.

All quarter long, the entrance doors to Arrillaga Family Dining Commons have been mysteriously difficult to use: some open one way and some don’t, and this usually switches from day to day.  If you’ve eaten at Arrillaga recently, chances are good that you’ve also tried a perfectly good looking door, only to find yourself looking like a moron in front of the impatient food-seekers behind you.  “Way to go,” their raised eyebrows convey, “you’ve only been opening doors for the last, what, sixteen years?”

For the past week, the doors have been emblazoned by rotating labels.  The first day they explicitly demarcated “pull here” or “use other door.”  Secretly gleeful, I proudly opened the door on the very first try and joined my fellow diners in a small happy-dance upon our successful venture.  But they’ve changed ever since, becoming less immediately user-friendly, and significantly more challenging for the running-on-empty-omigosh-it’s-Dead-Week brain.

What’s up with the sassy doors?  I have four theories:

  1. Psych 1 student having a little too much fun with his or her final project.  “I have to inform human subjects about their rights as participants?  Whaaaat??”
  2. Really bored Arrillaga employee.  There are only so many times you can arrange the salad bar according to John Arrillaga’s specific instructions (alphabetical, by last letter of county of origin, in French, in case you were wondering).
  3. Annoying publicity for some student start-up.  Note the QR code.  Not cool, kids.
  4. Blame Cal.

This Week In Stanford 11/29/11 – 12/05/11

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
I would say happy dead week, but considering the Primal scream I heard last night – that’s not the emotion dominating anyone’s mind. Either way, this is what’s happened at the Farm over the past week. Good luck, Stanford.
  • Happiness is popular here at Stanford! This might not be quite as common during finals week, but the class is still giving students a new perspective.
  • There will be more free online courses offered through Stanford’s CS department in Winter Quarter, including Human Computer Interaction and Tech Entrepreneurship.
  • President Hennessey will receive the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers medal of honor.  I sometimes forget how many amazing things our university president has accomplished. Alas, this is just a reminder that he is a badass.
  • Forbes just released it’s Impact 30 list, meaning they have decided to provide the world with their own list of  top social entrepreneurs. Of course, Stanford represents. 8 Alumni can be found on the list.
  • Kathleen Gerson, fellow at the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences, is validating shopping at work, making me a little bit more hopeful about the 40 hour work week she talks about. She calls for a new balance between personal and work life. I can’t help but agree with her.

Top 13 Things to Make You Feel Productive When You Are Actually Procrastinating

Monday, December 5th, 2011

#1. Do your laundry. You can only turn your socks inside out for so long.

#2. Vacuum your room. Thoroughly enjoy the sound of all the little grainy particles getting sucked up through the tube.

#3. Download all of the updates your computer keeps reminding you about. Resist the reflex to hit “Remind Me Later”.

#4. Make/Confirm/Reconfirm your travel arrangements for Winter break. And Spring Break. And Summer break…

#5. Refill any prescriptions you might have.

#6. Create the perfect holiday playlist. Nothing rings in the holiday season like hearing “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” or “The Night Santa Went Crazy“.

#7. Find the perfect gift for that person who is impossible to buy gifts for.

#8. Figure out an exit strategy for when you run into that awkward ex over break.

No, you don't need a third glass of eggnog...

#9. Go to the gym/go for a run/do an ab workout. Armies of  gingerbread people are marching out of ovens as I write this. Here is my motivation.

#10. Buy/make stationary and/or thank-you notes. You’ll be needing them shortly.

#11. Call your parents/grandparents/other extended family. They love hearing from you and it has been a while…

#12. Download apps like Concentrate and/or SelfControl. Use them.

#13. Make a list of everything you have to do during dead week/finals and create a schedule for when you’ll get it all done. Starting… eventually.

Bonus! #14. Write a post for The Unofficial Stanford Blog. It works. Trust me.

The Descendants: Good, but Great?

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

The Descendants is getting rave reviews.  Critics claim George Clooney is at his best and will definitely be Oscar-nominated.  I am sure he will and the movie may even be as well.  So it is with high expectations of a real-life type of drama with a touch of comedy (done by the same team as Sideways) that I went to see The Descendants.

George Clooney plays a father who finds himself the sole guardian of his two daughters after his wife has an accident and is in a coma.  He is clueless as to how to deal with his two girls, one 10 and one 17, that he does not know all that well.  They must come together though as Matt King decides whether or not to sell his family’s ancestral lands and learns that his wife had been having an affair.

Do not get me wrong, I like a real-life type of poignant movies as much as the next person but somehow I felt detached from these characters.  I think the problem comes down to George Clooney.  If an actor like Matt Damon had been the lead it might have been different.  Clooney is a little cold in his acting, which works as a politician in The Ides of March but not as a father whose life is unraveling.

Clooney’s eyes look untouched as he goes through the motions but does not seem to register the emotions.  The close-ups of his face show this especially and it is a bit disappointing.  It seems that the movie may have been overhyped by the critics.  It is a good movie, but a great one?  I am not so sure.  The girls are very good, though.  Shailene Woodley shows her acting chops and accomplishes what I wish Clooney could have. We can actually see the pain in her eyes.

Out of My Element: Thoughts on the Chemistry 31 Series

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

The closest I'll come to Chemistry this year: stumbling for chemcat memes...

Oh, Stanford. I could write odes about the many, many, MANY things about you that I adore: the fact that it is December and a clear, breezy, perfect 74 degrees outside, the smell of eucalyptus wafting through campus, free laundry machines, the Nutella waffles at Coupa, the Bender room, the visual orgasm that is the quad and the oval, oh… and the beyond enviable world-class education that I am receiving and the oodles upon oodles of mind-blowing opportunities that gush out of the pipeline of resources that this university affords us. Don’t get me wrong. I am high on Stanford. I still wake up every morning feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. I still bike through campus and marvel about how I stumbled into this incomparable place. I still wonder how on earth I could have survived without Ike’s. And I’m not usually one to complain. But I do have one teensy, eentsy question that baffles and frustrates me about the Farm: why is the Chem 31 series only offered in the Fall quarter?!

Admitedly, it’s probably my fault. I’m sure that the “Approaching Stanford” materials mentioned how, if you’re interested in bio/premed you should consider signing up for the series. But for those of us (I’m sure I’m not alone) who weren’t 100% sure the minute we set foot on campus that the bio/premed route was our intended path and consequentially didn’t submit ourselves to Chem 31A/B/X right out of the gun… well, it seems we are a little bit screwed.

Maybe I am a little neurotic, or confused, or needlessly freaking out. Perhaps there is an obvious solution that flew over my head before or after I realized my dilemma. But it just seems pretty absurd to me that if you don’t take chem in autumn quarter of your freshman year, there is very little you can do to catch up with everyone else. Yes, you can take it in the summer. I get that. But for people who don’t want to or can’t pay for summer classes… they’re in a bit of a pickle. I guess it simply amazes me that the primary prerequisite for the core of one of Stanford’s most popular majors is only offered the first quarter of the main academic year. I’m sorry, but this seems like no-brainer. I’m fairly confident that there would be a large group of students interested in taking either the 31 A/B or 31X track starting in the winter, thus still allowing them to enroll in the bio core, or higher level chemistry classes for a premed track in the beginning of their sophomore year.

Again, I realize the importance of being organized, of putting considerate thought into your academic plan before arriving at Stanford. But people are human. People change their minds. People are unsure. For those of us who have epiphanies later in the game and don’t realize that that they want to do the bio thing until say, week four of their freshman year – should we be penalized for our realizations or changes in heart? Doesn’t Stanford encourage exploration in different areas of study during the freshman year? Isn’t that one of the main reasons we have GER’s? Isn’t that one of the reasons we don’t declare until the end of sophomore year? I simply think that this is one issue that Stanford didn’t exactly think through. And if Stanford doesn’t want to add additional quarters where this class could be offered, the university could make it loudly, explicitly, and repeatedly clear that if freshman have even the SLIGHTEST interest in maybe, possibly, conceivably studying bio or going premed that they should SERIOUSLY and ABSOLUTELY consider signing up for Chem 31 or, if nothing else, take a placement test. And – AGAIN – perhaps the university does, and it’s 100% possible that I missed it. But for those of us who need a little extra use of bold, underlined, and indented fonts and reiterated messages to hear a message, it would be abundantly helpful.

I’m hopeful that there is considerate reasoning for the rather inconvenient organization of this series. But at this moment in time, I don’t get it. It frustrates me, and it is going to be one of my more demanding scheduling issues in the future. For the sake of future frosh, I simply hope this can be resolved in a better way.