The Paper on PBS Tonight at 10pm

Last Collegian post for a while hopefully. During my sophomore year a documentary filmmaker followed the students at the Collegian around to make a movie about the American media. Tonight it’s premiering on PBS’ Independent Lens at 10pm. I’m not in the movie (I actually took a semester off from the Collegian that year), but I worked with a lot of the people who were featured in it. I saw the film this spring and its pretty well done so if you get a chance tonight, check it out.

My Baby Is Growing Up

The Daily Collegian Online launched a new redesign with wider pages and improved navigation. It was a little bittersweet to see my original design fall by the way side but its great to see that they’re constantly improving the site. They’re really upped the ante with their multimedia features and sports blogs. I’m very proud to see how far we’ve come since we started in 2005 and since the new guys took over this summer. Kudos to Ryan, Dan, and the rest of the staff.

Most Ridiculous Penn State Press Release

Penn State Live: Avoid holiday family feuds between female relatives. A public service from your favorite land grant institution 🙂 I guess it’s an interesting area of research and there’s probably no time better time than now to remind people, but still its pretty hilarious that they would post something like this.

Launch Pad Takes Off

Collegian: Company aids student entrepreneurs. Consultant, entrepreneur, and college roommate extraordinaire Rob Shedd is interviewed about his Lion Launch Pad. Besides my obvious bias of being a friend of Rob’s, I think its a neat project because its offering student entrepreneurs an environment that seems similar to the type of environment the Collegian offers student journalists.

Thank You (My 1st Song)

Originally posted on the Facebook.

Me at the Lion ShrineIn my senior column for the Collegian I said “Thank you to all the students, professors, bosses, colleagues, friends and family who made my college experience an experience. When I look back on my years at Penn State I will think of you, not Old Main.” I originally wrote that as a little dig at Penn State’s administration, but I realize now it’s actually very meaningful. I spent the last week on a half-dead campus and realized that Penn State is just a place on a map with a lot of buildings that probably won’t be there in 15 years (let the fundraising begin for IST II Building). College has been more about the people who shared these four years with me. So without further ado, shout outs to the people who made my college years special. (Feel free to skim – this is ridiculously long)

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Senior's investment at college worth more than just tuition

Originally published in The Daily Collegian. This is my senior column.

Last fall I spent my first night back in State College watching the movie Accepted.

Given that I spend most weekends in a movie theater with my friends, it seemed like the appropriate start to the school year.

In case you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a bunch of lovable losers, led by the “I’m a Mac” guy from those commercials, who accidentally form their own college.

And much to their surprise, students start showing up and, beyond all logic, start paying the founders’ tuition.

After the initial shock, the founders do something that’s actually quite extraordinary.

They take the students’ tuition money and invest it in equipment for their area of study.

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Don’t Be Alarmed

Somewhere in my dream I felt a brief warning, a premonition that something was happening. Five seconds later the jarring ringing of a fire alarm threw me out of my bed at 5 a.m.

In addition to having alarms in every hallway, the University has recently installed alarms in every room. The noise is so loud you cannot think, let alone sleep.

A flood of horrible images rush through your mind as you try to get yourself out of your room. I grab my wallet and keys of the desk. Two planes hit the twin towers. I throw my shoes on my feet. Millions infected with AIDS in Africa. I grab sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Justin Timberlake brings sexy back.

I can only imagine what other uses this alarm system could provide. Perhaps guards could use it for prison escapes or even a new form of torture in Guantanamo. Every time I hear that alarm, I really wonder why they couldn’t just let me die in my sleep.

I feel like a real veteran to have the wherewithal to grab my sweats before running out to the cold morning air. Many were not so lucky, coming out tired and underdressed. One girl wrapped her comforter around herself and a shirtless guy. I saw two guys do the same, which may be an even more extraordinary gesture.

One RA told me he tried to write up a fire alarm as a community program, since you get nearly everyone to participate. It is funny how neighbors go day in and day out ignoring each other, but will begin to converse with each other while shivering outside at 5 a.m.

A girl who appeared to be an authority figure, an RA perhaps, comes around and yells for people to back away from the building. “This is not a fire drill!” she said. Duh. If she announced it was just a drill, I think someone may have hit her.

For a second I grasp the potential seriousness of the situation as I imagine all of my belongings exploding out my window like in Fight Club. I think I left my CD collection in the car, but I doubt any insurance company would reimburse me for my giant DVD collection.

Fortunately while this wasn’t a drill, this wasn’t a real fire either. Most likely it was the act of a drunken student or a technical issue with the fire alarm. I remember a year ago a similar event was set off by a wiring error in the attic.

Atherton Hall is listed on some maps as “Centre Halls”, but it seems it is miles away from civilization whenever an alarm goes off. In the course of 45 minutes I never saw a fire truck or even a maintenance van pull up.

The alarm eventually stopped and people started to move towards the doors, but I waited. I’ve been burned by fire alarms before. Sure enough the alarm starts up again for a few more minutes, an aftershock I guess. We finally get the go ahead and return to our rooms.

Appropriately enough, fire prevention week will start next week. So if you don’t have the misfortune of a major university being liable for your fire safety, perhaps you can take the opportunity to get some smoke detectors and test their batteries. And don’t worry, smoke detectors have a much nicer ring to them.

Thon Live

As a Penn State student, I should share with the world that this weekend is Thon weekend. The Penn State Dance Marathon is a student run event where thousands of students dance for 48 hours straight for cancer. They raise millions of dollars to help support the families of kids with cancer and to research for a cure. I personally am not very involved in Thon, although everyone on campus typically ends up contributing in some way. In the past we’ve had Penny Wars in my hall to raise money. You can see previous years’ Thon coverage on the Collegian’s site.

Anyway I have been pretty interested in the ways they are sharing the experience with the world online. They have a webcast running throughout the event, with shout-outs from participants and video of all the festivities. They’re playing it on one of the local access channels here and I have been tuned in all day (Yet another blow to NBC’s Olympic coverage). They are also running a blog with regular posts from Rec Hall. I am kind of annoyed by that, because I wanted to do a Thon blog on the Collegian site. Maybe next year. In any case, check out their coverage and if you can donate, because its a nice cause. And check out the Collegian’s site Monday for their coverage – I’ll be helping produce that on the website.

Update: The Thon webcast was watched by 25,000 viewers in 30 countries over the weekend, and 1/3 of those viewers donated money online. This turned out to be a major part of helping them beat last year’s record.

My Super Weekend

Hope you had a good holiday weekend. That’s right, Super Bowl Sunday is a national holiday according to one PSU professor. It certainly does a good enough job getting people to come together. I watched the game in a dorm with some friends, including one annoyingly happy Steelers fan. Though we like to think its a 50-50 split, the truth is the Steelers are the favorite team here in State College. It seemed like they might have been the NFL’s favorite too. Truth is I like the Steelers as a team, I just didn’t want to have to deal with their obnoxious fans. Congratulations to the Steelers, especially Betis and Cowher, and the thousands of Steelers fans who live under the delusion that their support made the difference. If you weren’t interested in the game, I thought the FedEx’s cavemen commercial was the best.

Actually the biggest sports news around here is Penn State’s upset of #6 Illinois on Saturday night. I went to the game Wednesday night against Michigan, which was a closer match-up than it should have been. I imagine I will be going to more games after this weekend’s performance. I spent my weekend at the theaters seeing Something New and Captoe, both very worthwhile. I think Phillip Seymore Hoffman should be getting an Oscar for his performance. Speaking of which, I am planning to put together my belated Best Films of 2005 list and Oscar picks soon when I get a chance. Also, I got tricked into watching Grey’s Anatomy after seeing the commercials – only to be left with a cliffhanger. It confirmed most of my worst suspicions about the show, including the fact that it couldn’t take Scrubs in a fight.

My real reason for writing tonight was just to get back to blogging again. I have been really slow about posting, though the posts I have written have gotten a lot of attention. It’s nice to take time and write a good post once in a while, but lately I have just only been doing long rants which don’t really reflect what I am thinking. So starting tomorrow I will go back to posting at least once a day, something I did when I started this blog. I am also pleased with the way I styled this post, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I do even more first person writing. Anyway, more posts are on the way in the future.