An October Whirlwind

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 by Travis

Hey everybody,

It’s been 3 weeks since I last posted, but it feels like it has only been a couple of days. As a result, I have A LOT to talk about. Before that though, I would like to address something.

I know many of you who are reading this blog will be starting to apply to colleges now, and that that alone can be one of the most stressful things you will ever do. All the essays, forms, and transcripts will pile up, the deadlines will come faster than a rhinoceros traveling near the speed of light (it’s a Mudd thing, don’t ask), and on top of it all, you still have your senior year to worry about. No matter how many times you have to write an essay or fill out a form, just remember that nothing in life comes easy. The work won’t stop once you get to whatever school you decide to attend. In truth, it never stops, but that is the great thing about it. College allows you to challenge yourself; it will let you find your limits and then break through them. It will be one of the best times of your life if you are honest with yourself and pick a school that has the best fit, not just because it has the best reputation. So, when you can figure out that right word to use for that opening paragraph, or you’re having to jump through hoops to get a test score mailed, just remember, it’s going to be worth it, it’s going to be harder, and it’s going to be a blast.

Lastly, take the time to thank anyone and everyone who has helped you get through all that I’m sure you have overcome throughout school. I could never thank any of my teachers, from Mrs. Tobin in kindergarten to any of my high school teachers, enough for what they have done for me. Whether it’s your family, a coach, teachers, or anybody, let them know how grateful you are before you head out on your own and kick some butt. There will be plenty more people who will help you out when you get there (trust me, I would know), but it’s important to not forgot those who helped you get even to that point.

Anyways, now I’ll get to the good stuff, with the most notable occurrence being the first on my agenda. On Monday, October 15th, Taylor Swift played a concert for Harvey Mudd College as well as some students from the other four Claremont Colleges at beautiful Bridges Auditorium on Pomona College’s campus. Ms. Swift enchanted the audience with nine of hits, both new and old, and shared personal stories on everything from relationships to her own personal battles. She was candid and charming, answering audience questions sincerely and letting herself shine through to the audience, and we in turn made her feel welcome with nonstop singing and cheering.

I was even lucky enough to ask a question, and when I stood up with the microphone in hand to introduce myself, Taylor exclaimed that she knew who I was, and that she wanted to give me a hug and thank me for helping organize the event. She gave me a hug, and a surprise kiss on the cheek, after which I nearly fainted. What saved me was the roar of the crowd behind me; my friends, classmates, and other huge fans who all were sharing this special moment with me, and I could not have been happier.

Lastly, I want to thank anyone and everyone who helped make this possible. It will go down in Muddlore, right next to the infamous CalTech cannon heist along with many other Mudd moments, and having a part in that is huge for me. I could go on forever about the concert, but I’ll instead let you look at some photos from it:

The audience, singing along to one of Ms. Swift’s slow, melodious songs. (Frank Micelotta for VH1 Storytellers.
Ms. Swift, greeting the ecstatic audience with her impossibly sparkly guitar. (Frank Micelotta for VH1 Storytellers)
Here’s me, trying to contain my excitement and awe long enough to ask Ms. Swift a question. Yes, that is face paint. (Frank Micelotta for VH1 Storytellers)


After this wondrous night, Mudd continued on. That meant midterms, papers, and projects; however it also meant Fall Break. Don’t get me wrong, I love being at Mudd, but at times, the students need a break, and not surprisingly, Fall Break is right around that time for most students. Although it is not much more than an extended weekend, Fall Break is an amazing time to let go a little. Despite the respite being well-needed (and well-deserved), Fall Break always exhibits something remarkable about Harvey Mudd College for me. Students and faculty alike are able to jump back into the rigors and challenges of Mudd almost seamlessly. The post-vacation grace period is almost non-existent at Mudd, and I can only attribute this to the passion and hard work that Mudders have come to be known for. I personally was up late the first night back because I was so energized from the break that I finished most of my work for the days following, which is a rare occurrence for me (I usually prefer more sleep)!

After Fall Break sped by, and the shortened week it created came and went, it was time for my favorite time of the year at Mudd. Halloween. Although it has not actually happened yet, the weekend preceding Halloween is always an exciting time for the Claremont Colleges. Costumes are seen everywhere as there are numerous costume parties across all five colleges, and despite not dressing up last year, I was prepared this year:

I am Mudd’s reckoning!

I have always had a soft-spot for movie villains, and after seeing the epic finale to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, I had to try and pull off Bane for Halloween. After practicing the voice for nearly a month, customizing a cheap mask, and borrowing the rest of my costume from my dad and his friends, my costume was a hit last weekend. The Mudd costume contest is tomorrow, and I hope to continue my success there (and enjoy sitting through class tomorrow as my alter-ego)!

Now that I look back on October, it was a month that’ll be hard to top here at Mudd. However, I say that after just about everything I do at Mudd, for example: “It took awhile to understand how to apply this concept, how am I going to learn the next one?” or “When am I going to find the time to get that done?” As I mentioned in opening, college will force you to test yourself. Looking back at myself during October a year ago, I am frankly shocked at all that I have accomplished and learned in this short year. The seemingly superhuman exploits of the seniors here are starting to look more realizable; I am starting to believe in my abilities more and more everyday after at first being unsure of myself as a freshman. Furthermore, many of my classmates share this sentiment, and as I look around, I am starting to see these awkward, goofy freshmen of yesteryear become scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. The obligations of certain core classes are being replaced by the genuine interest and passion of major courses as we near the end of our required breadth.

With this sentiment, I’ll leave this October whirlwind behind me, and look ahead. It’s been half a semester here at this crazy place; 5/16 of my time here is gone, and I want to be ready to enjoy the rest of it!

To actually wrap up my post, here is Brian Cheney’s Pun of the Week, along with a Q&A with the man himself about life here at Mudd! Brian is a junior engineering major from Newberg, Oregon (also known as Cheneyville, Oregon).

What has your favorite class been at Mudd?

I enjoyed E72 the most, which was applied engineering mathematics. Each week the problem-sets were about 12 hours long, but there were no tests. The problems were all interesting, and both of the professors were pretty chill.

What do you do during your free time at Mudd?

Although there is not a lot of free time at Mudd, I guess when I don’t have work I play chess/hangout with friends. I do also go out on the weekends, it keeps me sane.

You make a lot of puns. Have you ever been asked to do a Wednesday-Nighter with your jokes?

Yes, once they asked me to do a theatrical performance with people and act out puns. I turned them down though, I didn’t want to do an hour long play on words.

PS. A Wednesday-Nighter is a Mudd tradition that involves an hour of entertainment and free food in the LAC every Wednesday night. The entertainment is often provided by Mudders themselves, and it is a great way to take a break mid-week and just have fun!

Until next time,