May 20th, 2007

Fishy Circumstances


Smith College is an institution of many traditions, many of which cluster around commencement and reunion. The best of them involve good weather, so it was a real disappointment when cool drizzle set in to dampen all the usual outdoors events of this past weekend. Ivy Day just isn't the same when a large parade of white-robed women sit in a gym instead of processing through the sunshine and rows of rose-holding seniors. Illumination Night wasn't at all - it rained steadily, and the Chinese lanterns weren't even hung, let alone lit, on the rows of strung wire winding through campus. Commencement too was indoors, in the ITT instead of the ivied walls of the quad.

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Other moments of note:
  • In place of illuminations, a newly-met acquaintance and I spent a few late-night hours in the greenhouses, breathing in green and musing on Indian figs (prickly pears), Turkish corn (New World corn), and our unexpected talent for locating infesting slugs.

  • The Computer Science department's 3D printer is so nifty! 3D printing is meant for rapid prototyping and thus the results are no more durable than paper - even less so in some cases. The machine lays a layer of glue-bound starch 1/5 of a millimeter at a time to build up 3D computer-imaged forms. The resultant forms can be marvellously detailed; they can also be fully functional. It's possible to print ball bearings, for example, or rings locked into impossible knots or twisted into toroids. Printing Kepler's geometric map of the planet's spacing is entirely within this machine's capabilities.

  • Unfortunately, my class color is yellow. This means that if I continue to go to reunions, I will continue to accrue bright yellow objects; it's really not a good color for me.

  • I ran into more faculty with whom I'd studied while at Smith when I was at Kalamazoo last weekend, than when I was at Smith this weekend!

  • In German, "body bag" means "backpack". A "handy" is a mobile phone. Thus, one can have a "handy body bag".