Another Awesome Telecom Halloween Party

 

For the past few years, Halloween in the Telecom Department has been synonymous with one big ole epic party. This year, thankfully, was no exception. After back-to-back awesome parties first at Travis’s and then at Rachel’s house last year, Glenna Read graciously offered up her Prospect Hill home for the annual celebration.

“Some folks had mentioned that they were worried that no one would have the space to host the Halloween party,” Glenna explained. “It seems like an important tradition in the department and a great opportunity to hang out and get to know people outside of the school setting. I didn’t want that tradition to go away.”

The tradition of teamwork continued as well. Nic, Teresa and Ashely came over early to help “spookify” the house, Issac brought speakers for the dance party and Glenna’s boyfriend Ben did the cleaning. The group effort paid off, and the Telecom party was a raging success despite the snow (seriously there was snow!) and generally miserable weather. Telecomer’s mixed and mingled inside, eating food and discussing gaming ethics while outside in the garage, a perfectly crafted playlist and some glow sticks kept the dance party going all night long.

 

From the swarms of people gathered in Glenna’s beautiful straight-out-of-Pinterest home, it is hard to imagine that just last year, Glenna and Ben were commuting and not official Bloomingtonians. According to Glenna, the move to Bloomington has been amazing for both of them.

“We have so many more friends!” Glenna told me. “It’s nice to have a (semi) social life again.  We love Bloomington.”

And Bloomington (and the Telecom Department) loves Glenna and Ben. Another massive thank you for hosting Glenna and Ben! You guys rock!

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Message in a Time Capsule

By Mona Malacane

On October 9th, 1964 Reed Nelson’s parents wrote him and his two brothers a letter and sealed it in a time capsule in the city near their farm – Salem, Indiana. The time capsule was scheduled to be opened on the city’s bicentennial, 50 years later.

For the past few years, Reed has been reminding his family of the approaching opening of the time capsule.  Although his brothers didn’t share his enthusiasm about the letter, Reed continued to look forward to the day the time capsule would be unearthed. Well that time finally came, and on September 27th at 4pm on a warm Saturday the capsule was opened and Reed got the letter.

But before I talk about that letter, please indulge me a few sentences to reflect on how cool time capsules are. They are literally pieces of history (of communication!) that are wrapped up and stored like presents to be opened in the future. Yes, museums are also full of historical artifacts that communicate … but they aren’t wrapped up like gifts and  hidden away. The feeling on being reminded that you can open the gift soon, after having forgotten about it, is so exciting! Like finding money in your winter coat that you haven’t worn in a year, but times 100. And now think what if that artifact was specifically for you, put away and preserved for FIFTY years. Is it just me, or is that not one of the coolest things ever?? Ok thank you for your patience, now back to Reed’s story.

The whole day was filled with bicentennial activities, a parade, a 5k, fireworks … but Reed was there for the time capsule. Slowly but surely, the concrete slab that capped the earth over the capsule was jackhammered away and the names of those who had letters were read out loud. Reed’s parents still live near Salem and were also there for the opening of the time capsule, which added an extra special touch to the day. “My mom made the comment in the letter, ‘when you’re reading this you will be older than I am right now,’ and that was amazing.”

The letter addressed to Reed and his brothers, Mark and Paul.

The letter addressed to Reed and his brothers, Mark and Paul.

Reed with time capsuleFor Reed it was an immeasurably special moment when he read the words his mother wrote 50 years ago.  Reed says it brought back memories from when he was 10 years old and it felt like it was yesterday. Unfortunately, one of those memories was that of his Aunt passing away. There was the lighter side too. “The previous night [my mom] had taken us three boys to the elementary school fall festival, which was a big deal. But the … and the …  girls got into a fight that night at the festival … And when they started fighting, they started fighting. [My teacher] came out and grabbed their hairs and separated them, I remember that, and then I took off!” Of course Reed had heard at school earlier that day that the two girls were going to fight at the festival, but his mother wasn’t privy to this information and she was naturally surprised by it. In the letter she wrote, “My, my, those two girls fought.” She also wrote a few complained about Reed’s younger brother, which made him chuckle.

The city of Salem has put another time capsule into the ground to be opened in 2064 and this time Reed put a letter in for his kids and grand kids. “That’s a hard letter to write to your children who are 30ish and who will be 80ish when this capsule is opened, and to my [five] grand kids, so listing everybody on that envelope – my first son and his son and his wife; my second son, his 3 sons, and his wife; and my wife’s daughter and her daughter – it got pretty full,” He explained. “I was writing that last paragraph with tears, I wasn’t crying but they were just tearing in my eyes … it was incredible the finality of the feeling that you have when you’re writing 50 years into the future and you know you won’t be around to read it.” Even so, Reed created a little piece of history for his grandchildren that I’m sure they will appreciate when they receive it.

Here’s something to ponder for the rest of your Monday: if we were to bury a Telecom time capsule before moving to Franklin Hall, what would YOU want to preserve for the future?

Barb Cherry’s Love of Horses

By Mona Malacane

“Humans tend to get stuck in their heads. It’s a human thing, but then particularly if you’re a scholar who works alone a lot and in your head. One of the reasons I like dressage and Livingston so much is that he gets me out of just being in my head. I cannot ride well unless I’m fully integrated; mind, body, emotions, everything has to be in sync in the moment. I can’t be worried about yesterday, I can’t be worried about tomorrow, because if I am then the flow is not going to be there … He has taught me about how to exist in the moment … and what I have learned from him, I cannot learn from people.”

You may remember from her orientation introduction that Barb Cherry loves horses and has one of her own. This week I sat down with Barb to talk about just what it is about riding that makes it so special to her.

She has loved horses since she was young and attended summer camps to learn how to ride, but it wasn’t until she got her first horse after graduating from Harvard Law School in the 80s that she became involved in horseback riding as a sport. He was a thoroughbred named Garfield and the two of them started competing at Eventing, which has three parts: a dressage test, cross country jumping, and stadium jumping. Since then, Barb has owned a mare named Mystic and a Polish Trakehner named Dzieciol (pronounced Jen-tjo) and now focuses on dressage, where a rider and horse perform a series of athletic and dance-like movements from memory. It is sometimes referred to as horse ballet and has an interesting history .

Barb's horse, Livingston.

Barb’s horse, Livingston.

She has owned her current horse, Livingston, since 2002 and he is definitely the most beloved of all the horses she has owned so far. Their coupling was something like serendipity, “I had just lost my mare and the only reason Livingston was for sale was because his owner had just died from cancer … The widow was in the process of moving back to France and the last thing she was going to do before she left the States was to sell [Livingston]. So it was perfect timing. It was almost like it was meant to be, I had lost my horse to death and he had lost his owner, I felt like we were mutual orphans who found each other.”

Livingston is a “papered” (meaning, he is registered as a purebred) German Hanoverian, a horse that is bred to be light and refined – perfect for dressage. He also happens to have a rather impressive family tree, something Barb was not aware of until after buying him. “I didn’t find out until I owned him … that his sire [his male parent] was the number one improvement sire for the Hanoverian breed in Germany … So [Livingston] has tremendous bloodlines. I knew he was a papered Hanoverian but I didn’t discover how exquisite his bloodlines were until I moved to Virginia and started training with a dressage trainer there who is also an international judge. When she found out who my horse’s sire was her jaw nearly hit the floor.” His sire, Lauries Crusador, has a history that I feel woefully undereducated to recount here, but he is famous enough to Google or YouTube if you’re interested!

Barb 3Barb only trains Livingston with the very best. In fact, the pair has spent quite a few summers down in Florida because the state has become a hub for high-level international trainers who travel to the warmer climate during the cold European winters. But while training with the best can improve both the rider and horse’s technical skills, there are some parts unique to horseback riding, and dressage in particular, that just can’t be taught. “My view of dressage is that it’s a sport, it’s an art form at the same time, but most importantly it’s a partnership,” Barb explained. “It’s an interspecies partnership because you are performing and communicating through your bodies. And the way I communicate with Livingston is a way that I cannot communicate with a human. I have learned more about myself and my own body and how to integrate my mind and my body from him. He’s my biggest teacher.”

Aside from being the offspring of an eminent stallion and inheriting excellent genes along with it, Livingston also has a wonderful personality that Barb loves. The two of them, as you may have felt from the quote at the beginning of this post, are a perfect match together, especially for dressage. “He has an exquisite temperament, exquisite talent, everything you could ask for,” Barb said while smiling. He even gives kisses! [insert pic] She can’t imagine owning another horse as perfect as Livingston because he is “one in a million.”

Livingston sneaking kisses.

Livingston sneaking kisses.

Inner Journalists Volunteer

By Rachelle Pavelko

Getting to know my fellow Ernie Pyle classmates and cohort members over the past year has been an incredible experience, due in part to the amount of time we have spent together in the graduate lounge, writing furiously, guzzling coffee, and fanaticizing about <insert appropriate holiday break here>. Additionally, they are generally wonderful people with impossibly busy lives and fascinating past experiences. A common thread of being invested in the community with a desire to know more about people is apparent – it must be that inner journalist living inside.

Zach Vaughn, a second-year PhD student in the journalism program, grew up in an underdeveloped and poor area of Middle Tennessee, which was where his connection to volunteer work initially stemmed.

“I’ve always had a connection to others who grew up or are in impoverished situations, particularly those that experience systemic poverty with no foreseeable end,” he said. “This led me to initially serve in AmeriCorps a number of years ago, and these experiences have stayed with me.”

After moving to Bloomington, Zach sought an outlet to get involved with his new community. He soon joined the Circles Initiative within the South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP) – a program that strives to create personal and community connections to enact successful life change.

Zach explained that once paired with a leader (a person experiencing poverty), allies (the community volunteers) have regular meetings with their leader to discuss action plans to take steps out of poverty and set achievable goals. The objective, apart from helping others overcome poverty on their own terms, is to develop friendships and a contingent working towards overcoming poverty in the Bloomington and surrounding areas.

Through his Circles experience, Zach has witnessed real change. A former truck driver, unable to work due to medical issues, was able to go back to school, earn his GED, and was accepted to IVY Tech. The support system he had encompassing him in the form of his Circles community made the once insurmountable challenge feel far more realistic.

The desire to participate in charitable work and provide opportunity to others is also innate to Roshni Verghese, fellow classmate and second-year PhD student. Roshni’s father runs a non-profit organization in India, Byrraju Foundation, which assists villages with development, hygiene, education, and health issues. During the past academic year, Roshni was able to serve the Bloomington community through her volunteer work at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a food bank that provides healthy, nutritious options to those in need.

“I have always been curious to get an insider’s perspective of how food banks operate and the impact they have on a community,” she said. “The voluntary nature and the network of community-conscious organizations, farms, and people that fuel the food bank is remarkable, and that’s what got me to sign up and help out.”

An average day for Roshni at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard involved stocking shelves with various products and produce, as well as packaging charitable donations from large organizations, local farms, and individual walk-in donations.

“The open mindedness and the hospitality of all the people that work at Mother Hubbard’s is commendable,” she said. “It is extremely easy for people that don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or those that have basic luxuries in life to judge those that do not, and the people here [reminded me of] the way my parents raised me, that nothing good can come from such distanced judgment.”

I, too, have been thinking about ways to get involved and volunteer for the past few years. As a lifelong student, time, energy, and a stable ZIP code are sometimes hard to come by. After moving to Bloomington last summer, I decided it was time to find an organization that would best fit with my volunteer aspirations.

Last fall, I filled out an application with Big Brothers, Big Sisters to serve as a “big sister” to a little girl who was looking for a mentor and friend. After a few months of interviews, training, and waiting on the match process, I was paired with a 10-year-old girl – a lifelong resident of Bloomington, a lover of music, crafts, playing outside, and taking adventures.

The “littles” within the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program are all experiencing some form of adversity, whether it be a challenging family life, financial or housing instability, or difficulty with schoolwork and peers. Families that enroll their children in the program realize that a mentor might be able to provide additional positive reinforcement.

Being paired with my little sister has been a mutually beneficial experience. I have always loved spending time with kids, and, more importantly, I love acting like one. I now have a fulltime friend who expects me to be fun, silly, and happy every time we get together. She serves as my excuse to go to all the latest Disney movies that I’m secretly dying to see. (Same goes for the new exhibits at Wonderlab, and frequent trips to Chocolate Moose.) I’ve seen a lot of what Bloomington has to offer with her by my side. Each Saturday we pick a new adventure and spend a few hours talking about her school week, her friends, and the constant excitement in her ever-evolving elementary school life.

It’s no secret that graduate school can be challenging, demanding, anxiety-inducing… there are a lot of descriptive words that can be used here. Having a few hours each weekend to pack a picnic with a 10-year-old and hear about the week’s playground antics is incredibly therapeutic. It’s a great personal reminder that I need to relax. On the flip side, it also makes me realize how grateful I am to be in graduate school, doing what I love and working toward a future career that I’m incredibly excited about.

The Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization has definitely proven to be the right fit for me and a welcomed addition to my new life in Bloomington. Through this process, I just hope I can make my little sister laugh half as much as she makes me smile. Maybe it’s time for me to try roller-skating again…

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The Magic of Halloween

By Mona Malacane

Some people would say that the winter holidays – Christmas, Hannukah, Thanksgiving, Black Friday – are the most wonderful time of the year. For others, it’s Valentine’s Day. But here in our little pocket of the university, I think it’s safe to say that for many of us, Halloween is something special.

Chauncey, Kelsey Prena's dog, enjoys getting dressed up for Halloween

Chauncey, Kelsey Prena’s dog, enjoys getting dressed up for Halloween.

 

For us, August orientation isn’t complete without at least some chatter of the annual Halloween party. Since mid-September, I’ve overheard a handful of people talking about their costumes and even received a few suggestions on what I should be. It’s also the time that professors start bringing in candy to reward (mostly undergraduate) class participation. Not to mention, this one topic has generated four (one, two, three, four) blog posts. (Which is saying a lot because Harmeet prefers novelty with blog stories.)

How about these two cool kids, Glenna Read and Nic Matthews??

How about these two cool kids, Glenna Read and Nic Matthews??

So what makes Halloween so magical? Is it because it reminds us of childhood? When one of the hardest tasks of life was rationing out your candy to make it last as long as possible? Is it just a good excuse to party? Or to show off our creative side? Maybe it’s a combination of those two – that we can temporarily step away from ourselves, play pretend, and blow off some cathartic steam? Perhaps it is as simple as people enjoying theme parties and/or traditions? I mean, our Halloween parties are pretty epic. Or maybe Edo was right … that Halloween is a mechanism through which we can communicate subliminal messages …

I’m sure there is some theory that explains why we love Halloween so much in this department, but I am not going to look for it. Instead, here are a few things that I think make Halloween awesome.

Now that we’re adults, our parents can’t control how much candy we eat.

candy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also don’t have to go beg strangers for said candy.

scared

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only to be disappointed with crap like apples or floss.

fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But then again, we don’t get free candy …

not fair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The up side: drinking your calories is more fun sometimes …

trick or treat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t have to suffer from embarrassment at the costume your parents picked for you.

bad costume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead, you can dress up as whatever you want! No permission required.

any costume

 

 

 

 

 

 

And boogie to some spooky tunes.

dancing

 

 

 

 

 

 

But don’t think about it for too long because it can be a little depressing …

too old

Yanyan and Pumpkin: A Story of a New Forever Home

When Yanyan Zhou told me she wanted to get a cat, I was skeptical. As a previous cat owner, I know cats can be hard work, often in unexpected, sometimes annoying and frequently destructive ways. (I lost countless vases, pots and picture frames due to frisky cats.) But Yanyan was determined; she wanted a forever friend.

“I moved to a new apartment and I was lonely. I needed something to talk to,” Yanyan explained about her desire to get a pet.

Yanyan didn’t have any previous experience with her own cats and was unsure if, as an intentional student, she would be allowed to adopt a pet. She had heard stories of international students in other states being denied the opportunity to adopt.  Yanyan asked me to join her for a trip to PetSmart, where she could check out some of the featured cats from the shelter and gather all the supplies she would need.

As soon as we got to PetSmart, Yanyan saw a big, orange, Garfield-looking kitten/cat and knew she found her something to talk to, her new best friend. As the handler pulled mini-Garfield out of his cage, we realized how much bigger he actually was once he wasn’t napping in a corner. His credentials said he was three months old, but it was clear this orange tabby was either a GIANT kitten or at least six months old.

The big boy stretches in his new home

The big boy stretches in his new home.

Either way, Yanyan was in love. Reluctantly she put her almost-kitten/cat back in his cage so she could fill out the paperwork and get all the supplies she would need to make room for her new love.

In the past, Yanyan has owned only had a rabbit and a few chipmunks for pets.

“I had chipmunks but they really weren’t good pets. They have to be in the cage or they destroy your house,” Yanyan said. She didn’t really know what things she would need to make her studio cat-friendly. Luckily, there was a very nice and VERY patient employee who went around the store with Yanyan explaining the benefits of wet versus dry food, clay versus organic litter.

To be honest, going over the details of pet ownership was a little too much for me. I ducked out partially out of boredom but also because there was this little grey kitten for adoption who kept giving me the “take me home” look.

When I came back half an hour later, Yanyan was almost done buying all the supplies and finishing up the paperwork. She was at the register with her yet-to-be-named giant kitten, who was shockingly not in a cage. Yanyan was holding him as she attempted to fill out paperwork.

As she handed the cat to me in order to pay, I knew disaster was about to strike. This is PetSmart! Land of excitable dogs! And here I was holding a giant kitten who spent his life so far in the safety of a cage. Of course, 30 seconds into holding the orange fluff, a big dog came through the doors, freaking out baby Garfield and sending him climbing up my shoulder and onto my back as he attempted to put distance between himself and the dog. Unbeknownst to me, the collar for big-little kitty was a break-away collar that had been attached incorrectly to the leash so that as soon as the cat bolted, the collar broke away and skinny Garfield dashed under the shelves in the store.

I was exasperated and bleeding, Yanyan was on the floor attempting to soothe her new friend out from under the store shelf, and the PetSmart employees looked like they just really wanted it to be closing time. Eventually, the team got the cat back into Yanyan’s arms and then promptly into a cage; a new condition I demanded if the cat was going to be traveling in my car. There was no way was I having an excitable kitten roaming the backseat of my geo prism.

He kind of does look like a big pumpkin in this picture!

He kind of does look like a big pumpkin in this picture!

As we loaded all the litter, food and toys into the car, I asked Yanyan what she was going to name her new little orange cat. “It has to be a food name,” Yanyan explained, since her previous rabbit and chipmunks had been named Marshmallow and Bacon 1 and 2.

Naming an orange cat Orange was too generic and obvious. Carrot sounded too feminine to Yanyan. Pumpkin she decided. Pumpkins were orange and big and obviously awesome. Newly-named Pumpkin meowed from the back at this decision; I’m going to infer in agreement and not because he was terrified of the moving car.

Although it’s only been a few weeks, Pumpkin is settling in nicely with Yanyan.

“He is just so adorable; a really sweet kid,” Yanyan gushed to me. “He only has two modes: Sleeping and crazily jumping here to there.”

He also is a big cuddler, always wanting Yanyan’s attention. She says that Pumpkin can tell when she is not actually doing work on the computer, when she is just playing games, because Pumpkin will come over and want to play, occasionally barricading the computer keyboard with his body.

Even though adjusting to Pumpkin’s time schedule has been a bit challenging for Yanyan, she says he is worth it. Pumpkin is home forever.

Pumpkin and Yanyan = Best Friends Forever

Pumpkin and Yanyan = Best Friends Forever

 

 

Lean, Mean, Kick-balling Machine

By Mona Malacane

Some graduate students fill their Thursday nights with grading, writing papers, reading articles, catching up on their DVR, or gathering at Crazy Horse. But Ashley Kraus, Glenna Read, and Teresa Lynch, have been spending their Thursday evenings a little differently lately … As the lean, mean, kick-balling machine of Telecom.

Formidable kickball athletes

Formidable kickball athletes.

This semester, Ashley (a kickball veteran), Glenna, and Teresa are playing for Team Swift Kick in the Grass, one of 12 kickball teams in a league organized by the Bloomington Adult Sports Club. The rest of their team is made up of other kickball enthusiasts from the Bloomington/Bedford area (including some SPEA students). So far, the crew has played four games, with a record of 2-2 – their most recent W is from last week’s game against the Alcohballics.

They all play different roles on the team and appreciate different aspects of the sport. Teresa plays infield at second base and switches with another team member as first base coach. If you know Teresa Lynch at all, you won’t be surprised to learn that her favorite aspect of the game is the competitiveness and kicking butt and calling names; she currently leads the team in “RKIs” (runs kicked in). Ashley covers the outfield and says that her strength is “avoiding getting on base.” Glenna handles the left center of the infield and her highlight of the season so far was catching the game-ending fly ball when they played against last year’s league champions, Derby Sanchez.

Team Swift Kick in the Grass after beating the Alcohballics 8-2

Team Swift Kick in the Grass after beating the Alcohballics 8-2.

But competition and winning aside, Teresa summed up their favorite part of playing kickball together quite nicely, “It’s fun getting together with people and doing something that isn’t school related and is not drinking … so often we just get together and go to bars. It’s nice doing something active.” I’m sure the Telecommandos, FC Telecom, and the Telecom running group would all echo this statement.

Although I’m not part of any Telecom intramural teams and therefore can’t speak from that experience, I still think it’s great to feel camaraderie with your colleagues both on a field and in the building – a feeling that I think we foster pretty well in our department. Because in the end (yes, I’m going to use the trite saying), it’s all about having fun.

Their team motto: “Sometimes we win … sometimes we lose … but we always have fun … unless we don’t …”

So if you want to go and support Ashley, Glenna, and Teresa, and the rest of Team Swift Kick in the Grass at Olcott Field, they would love cheerleaders! They only have two games left in the regular season (schedule available here) so go out and cheer them on into the playoffs!

Go to a game, you know you want to.

Go to a game, you know you want to.