Thursday, December 27, 2007

Two Stories

1) Yesterday I went ice skating for the first time in a year with my best friend from high school. I used to do this a LOT, but stopped going as frequently in high school for a variety of reasons so it was interesting. I was rather uneasy on the ice, and my brain immediately thought "wow, that looks really cold and hard!" to which my stomach thought "hey, let me see!" I then remembered that I never really liked ice skating very much, but it does provide the good opportunity to chat with an old friend so we stuck with it awhile longer. In the end I was nicely humbled by all the little kids speed-skating in circles around us and have some really impressive bruises on my kneecaps for my effort.

2) Tomorrow the Cendes family will climb into our car for the exciting 12-hour drive to New Hampshire. We tend to avoid NH at this time of year (because the low next week will be 8F, the high will be 12F and the like), but I have a cousin getting married in a huge multi-day weddings this weekend in Portsmouth, NH, so away we go. It'll hopefully be fun- I have a pretty fuchsia dress, my cousins are a fun group to hang out with, and odds are there will be one or two entertaining incidents we'll all talk about for years to come. Hooray!

If we don't freeze to death, we will also try and get a few ski runs in the week after the wedding. Unlike ice skating, I have no qualms with barreling down a hillside as fast as a car so I'm really looking forward to this! Hopefully there will be pictures assuming I find my camera charger between now and tomorrow...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas

My sister has returned from Australia, and she has introduced me to the fun of Australian Christmas carols. The current favorite is the one above, telling the story about how Santa goes through Australia with six white kangaroos instead of reindeer (it's summer there, after all) and how they helped a joey find his mummy. How exactly a sleigh is pulled through the snowless Australian outback confuses me a little, but I suppose if the Aussies are ok with it than I'll just accept what they say.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Few Links

Done with finals but I'm still reveling in my newfound ability to waste time. There are a lot of YouTube clips to catch up on for starters- for example, the trailers for the next season of LOST are looking interesting, and Leonard Nimoy's Ballad of Bilbo Baggins has to be one of the most disturbing bouts of desperate-for-money-in-the-seventies psychedelic things I've ever seen. And at this time of year there are a lot of "best of the year" lists to peruse of course, like the best astronomy pictures and the best unanswered questions...

Oh, and Text Twist. Lots and lots of Text Twist. Hooray for winter break!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Night Before Finals

This week's "Quarked" marked the first occasion where my editor actually cursed at me. Luckily her "good Lord, Yvette!" was followed by a "thanks for making my day," so I guess I still get to write my column next semester.

The reason for the curse was because I decided to get into the holiday spirit a bit and write a poem commemorating the most important event in December- final exams! And because I am proud of the result and suspect I won't be writing anything new here for awhile, here is the unabridged version of a poem I've titled "The Night Before Finals." [Note for those not from Case: "SIs" are "Student Instructors," aka undergraduate TAs.] Enjoy!

The Night Before Finals
By Yvette Cendes

T’was the night before finals
And all through the dorm
Crazed cramming and panic
Was quite the norm.

The students were restless
And none touched their beds
While theorems and formulas
Danced in their heads.

With textbook in hand
And a bright pink highlighter
I had settled down
For another all-nighter.

Then outside my room
There arose a great clatter,
I raced to the door
To see what was the matter.

And who do you think
Appeared before my eyes
But a wizened old Prof
And a bunch of SIs!

From his terrible wardrobe
And long, unkept beard
I knew right away
This was gonna be weird.

“I’m the Prof of Tests Future!”
He said with a shout,
“I’m the one who writes finals
You’re so scared about!

“On English! On Physics!
On Psychology!
On O-Chem! On German!
On Astronomy!

“I choose from the topics
You’ve learned of all fall,
And mark away, mark away,
Mark away, mark away all!”

I stared at the Prof
With incomprehension
And thought a few things
Which here I won’t mention.

“You’re from the wrong story!”
I said with a wail,
“Isn’t this from Dickens’
A Christmas Tale?

“Besides which, dear sir,
Though try as I might,
I don’t know why you’re here
So late, late at night.”

Said he, “I showed up
To give some advice.
Listen closely now
So I don’t give it twice:

“Though you might want to fret
And get all stressed out
That’s not what exams
Should be all about.

“So don’t be a wreck!
Don’t get over-stressed!
Study hard as always
And just do your best!”

I looked at the Prof
And then looked at my text,
If I slept a few hours
I’d be much less perplexed…

Plus I’ve advice of my own
That I have to admit:
When you start to see visions
Then it’s time to quit.

So I waved to the Prof
And then closed the door
I ducked under covers
And started to snore.

And I heard someone say
As I started my rest:
“Happy finals to all,
And to all a good test!”


No luck with Chicago. C'est la vie. Here's a good question for you all though- how many people think they actually found another Hungarian chick for the part? Just idly wondering...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Come On Babe, Why Don't We Paint The Town...

Just so you guys don't hear any wild rumors, I auditioned for Chicago earlier this week. Explanation: every semester there is a musical on campus for students, and next spring the musical is going to be everyone's favorite musical about 1920s murderesses and flapper girls. It's really a great show and it just so happens that there's a small role of a girl who only speaks Hungarian. The fact that she gets to be in one of the best songs in the show and it's a small enough role that a physics major can manage it didn't hurt either!

So Monday evening I went to tryouts with the song 42nd Street prepared (and by prepared I mean I sang it a few times to myself over the weekend sitting in my room and got a suitemate to listen a minute before I headed over). The hall was teeming with theatre people who are not quite like the average student from these parts: they're all rather loud and interesting, I'd say, and a lot of them were borderline annoying because they liked to be overly dramatic. (Go figure.) I think what annoyed me most was how every girl in the place was auditioning for either Roxie or Velma, the two leads, meaning perhaps 20 girls auditioning for those parts. My mathematical skills indicated that perhaps a few of them should try for secondary roles but I suppose you can't tell that to a drama queen... Oh, and they all were saying "ohmigawd I'm so nervous!" like they suddenly weren't going to be for the actual production.

When I go into the audition room the auditioning board (ie perhaps 7 students) immediately noticed off my form that I speak fluent Hungarian. "Have we got the part for you!" they gushed, and I sang my little song and I think it went alright.

Then they handed me a typed sheet that they'd copied monologues from various roles, including the Hungarian part. I started reading it aloud but stopped a few words in, saying "wait, this is formatted wrong!" Everyone laughed really hard, and the one guy said I get 30 extra points for that comment alone. (Yay!) I got to read from the actual script instead, but unfortunately stumble a little because it's Hungarian and I'm not that good at it. Hopefully they understood that was the problem.

After I finished they asked a few clarifying questions (dance experience, if my email was properly written), so I left the room grinning a bit since I thought it went well. It left all the nerve-wracked theatre kids wondering what on Earth I'm so happy about because you're not supposed to be happy after an audition dammit!

So that's where things stand right now. They said that the callback list will come out Wednesday (as in, in the next few hours) so with luck I'll be very excited soon, and callbacks themselves will be Saturday. Even if I don't get it, though, it was definitely fun to delve into this world I haven't touched since doing musicals in high school and I'm glad I tried it!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How Fast Are You Moving When Standing Still?

First of the month, that means it's science article publishing day! The article this month that I wrote for JYI addresses the simple question of how fast you are moving when you're standing still- because the Earth is spinning, we're orbiting the Sun, which is orbiting the galactic center... you get the idea. I'm rather proud of this one because I could calculate all the numbers and speeds out easily on my own up until the very end, and it's always satisfying when you can (gasp!) apply what you learn in class to something else.

(And for those too lazy to read the article but still want to know the answer, you're essentially traveling the distance from New York City to Los Angeles every five seconds. Neat isn't it?)