Talk of the Quad: What you’re working for
What is a year? A year is what it takes for you to go a long way and end up back where you started, changed. It has been a year. It is spring.
Last year, 2014, was the first I can recall without a May. The month passed silently—no milestone, no ceremony. But my sophomore year in New York City feels surprisingly sophomoric. There is an eerie rhythm and consonance plucked from the cacophony.
Two years out, you begin to forget. Coming to understand something in practice can destroy your ability to explain it, so as postgrad life normalizes it becomes indescribable.
To write another sappy reminiscence for the college paper is in some sense an admission of defeat: have I learned nothing? Let it go! So, we’ll circle back to the big life questions, but first I just want to touch base about learning to love your employer. Soon-to-be grads may initially chafe; I sure did! But I have tried to empathize with the corporation, and would like to share with you a few handy tips (which, like much advice dispensed, is largely a catalogue of my failures).
One. Although the language of the office sounds very familiar, it is more useful to treat it as a distinct derivative. The Standard Written English you have been taught in the classroom is not actually the dominant dialect of late capitalism. Corporatese has all the artfulness of an electrical signal between neurons, because that is roughly what it is. When a manager says “Are we all happy with this?”, the literal meaning of those phonemes in that language is closer to “Can we end this meeting?”, to which the answer should always be a resounding yes.
Two. Meetings expand to fill available time and space, so maintain a high quotient of people who don’t want to be there. If they evaporate away like energetic particles from hot tea, the temperature in the room will drop and the proceedings will slow. The meat is not in the meeting; it is a set-up for more substantive conversations to come.
Three. Insofar as industrial society is a doomed experiment and a joke, your managers are in on the joke. The good ones, anyway, are fully aware of all the profound problematicals. The libarts intellectual colliding with reality exudes feckless impotence: totally correct and still at a loss for what to do. The good manager is a step ahead of you, not behind. They have learned that a fish always thinking of water is apt to hyperventilate.
Four. Workplace commiseration is a bonding agent used by the status quo to deaden you; complaining about your company is not nearly as subversive as mirthfully running circles around it. Some of the most habitual complainers are among the most co-opted tools of the system. Resist assimilation not by negative displays of protest, but by positive displays of humanity.
Five. The corporation is glacial: slow, but massive. If you only watch the speed, you won’t appreciate how it carves the territory beneath. Use its momentum while you dance in the crevasses.
Six. In a healthy relationship, you should be using the corporation, just as it is using you. If the relationship is abusive, not only will you be miserable, but the corporation will suffer endemic ossification.
Seven. “Take professors, not classes”—so choose your bosses and coworkers. If you are lucky, you will get to do good work with idols. But you may also realize that even those who give off the most light and heat offer no salvation. You may notice a new kind of hero, quiet and content. What do you really want? It itches.
For all that, you’ll go from paying to earning; by selling your daily labor, you buy the freedom to shape and tend to a life. You can model some of your landscaping on the world President Mills has overseen. Nouns for things you’ve attended will become verbs to perform: you must orient, you must convoke, you must commence. The curricle (that’s a chariot) will run off the curriculum (a racecourse, originally) unless you lay one down. The most satisfying things in my life today are nascent frameworks for sustaining events and people: peer meetups, apartment lecture series, book clubs, workday morning soccer.
It won’t be the same. Noncommittal diversification gives way to smart concentrated bets; as Stanley Druckenmiller says, “put all your eggs in one basket and watch the basket very carefully.” Like holding cash, holding your time totally liquid is expensive. So people begin to settle where they lie—with careers, and with people.
As they do, and as our time in Brunswick gets harder to recapture, it feels unfair that the blessings of life are so frontloaded; the young have so much already, and on top of that we give them college?
There aren’t many kids around in Manhattan, but when you see the gaggle of giggling schoolchildren erupt against the backdrop of the two hundredth gray commute by 2nd Ave. sidewalk or subway car, you begin to get a hint, a sneaking suspicion. They look happy. If you can’t recapture, can you recapitulate?
Why do you exist?
Of the many humbling realizations of young adulthood, none is so serious as that you were not made for your own sake. On the horizon, the circle closes. Have you not gotten enough college? Good! That’s why you got any. Bowdoin plants the yearning for Bowdoin, and you are begotten of yearning; if we were sated it would cease. A satisfied life is sterile.
Your youth was a gift to you, but also an escape and a rebellion for your parents; work pays for and provokes rebirth, the first job. All of you are graduating with a tremendous outstanding debt: to create, to understand your creation, and thus to redeem. Forge dense new stars.
The past has the air of necessity, for it must have gone just so to lead to you. But as it unfolds you come to see the now-necessary past as a once-contingent future: it just as well could have been otherwise. Constants in your life turn variable; people come in and out like planks in the ship of Theseus, so that by the end nothing original remains except, somehow, identity—which finally dissolves triumphant into the memories of those who owe you everything.
Your parents need you. Hug them at graduation, or their parents, or whomever lives. Tell them what fun you’ve had. They’ve worked hard for you, and the best years of your life brighten theirs.
Toph Tucker is a member of the Class of 2012.
Talk of the Quad: Life per second
I didn’t mean to graduate. I did a pretty good job of forestalling it, finding every impediment to arrest the current. But time glides on, nature abhors a vacuum, and I am left with little time to even ask if it was the Best Five Years! Well, except now, at 3:40 a.m., alone in the office.
In the morning I’ll take the train from 116th to 59th Street. I’ll turn East and walk from 8th Avenue until I reach this building, at Lexington. It is tall, a convenient landmark. There’s an emergency kit with a respirator and 250 mL of water under every desk.
I’ll pass many people and recognize none. More people work for this company in this office (one of our 192) than attend Bowdoin. I’ll take the elevator up to six, then walk down to three, sit down in 03E-113 (in the fun wing, f.y.i.), and work. Gladly! For years.
When I arrived at Bowdoin I thought only of work. By the time I left, I thought only of people. Today I am young again, and think mostly of work. It can take anywhere from three months to three years to get together with a friend. There is a lot I still owe you all.
There is one difference between Bowdoin and the world outside. The world is sparse, big and slow. Yes, even here in bustling New York City, there is a deep slowness. Bowdoin is dense, small and fast. Yes, I mean fast. It’s a supercritical chain reaction of people and ideas. You cannot help but run into friends, and Searles Science Building is thirty seconds from the Visual Arts Center and three minutes from your dorm (depending). Now, I can’t even get out of this building in three minutes.
So, yes, I miss the clichéd intimate liberal-artsiness of it all. You do a lot of living per second.Alumni tend to tell students that you don’t know how good you have it, and to make the most of it. But that seems neither insightful nor actionable. I actually have great faith in Bowdoin students’ ability to make the most of it. Moreover, the first thing any alumnus should acknowledge is that our experiences are a poor predictor of yours.
Graduation is divergent. With its bigness comes real life’s particularity, its incoherence. Our cohort dissolves; a generation falls out of phase with itself. Other threads, personal and professional, come to dominate. Life individualizes, independently.
Maybe they were the best fourish years. People rightly disagree. Regardless, the best of the rest of your life will not be so neatly circumscribed by spatiotemporal boundaries, a contiguous place and time with a name you can wear on your back. There are no more semesters.
At homecomings, this stings. For a moment it seems everyone is together again — but it is soon revealed as a mirage, like crossing shadows. What you recapture is a pale imitation. I described this to a friend. “You just have to learn to be happy with less,” she said.
I found that blunt, beautiful, and true. But “less” what? Not less friendship, less learning, or less meaning. Less density.
The campus was and remains a focal point, but the authentic alumni experience is not the ghost we grasp at on campus. It does not play out at the place we mistakenly call “Bowdoin.” Bowdoin exists in the fleeting, contingent reunions, but it isn’t encapsulated by them.
The authentic experience plays out subtly, quietly, for the rest of our lives. Our Bowdoin is diffuse, radiating out 10,000 miles. It has been there all along, but we only see it when our pupils dilate in the twilight of what we’ve known.
What do we see?
We see what Bowdoin teaches, what remains when the cramming fades and the lessons are distilled. We see the true Bowdoin Hello, exchanged between acquaintances who only appreciate the extent of their shared experience once they’re removed from it. We see Bowdoin.
And we begin to notice new lights, in the distance, dotting the sparse expanse in myriad signature colors. We hope we’ve packed what we need for the journey.
Schaeffer pseudonymously blogs from the other side of Brunswick
Pem Schaeffer keeps a blog that has earned him a reputation as a man who hates Bowdoin. He doesn’t see it quite that way.
“I don’t have an axe to grind per se with Bowdoin,” he said. “I have an axe to grind with certain principles and positions.”
Schaeffer, a politically conservative Brunswick resident, is in the political minority around town. “That makes you notice things often, more than those in the majority will,” he said.
Power outage, battery maintenance coincide to cause prolonged network downtime
If outage had happened an hour later, network would’ve been fine
A short power outage triggered prolonged network downtime today when a system enabling a smooth transition to backup power failed to cope. E-mail, campus telephones, wi-fi, and Bowdoin websites were all offline for several hours — from around 10:30 a.m. to, in the case of wi-fi, 3:30 p.m. The Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) system in the Hubbard Hall data center had been known to be in need of new batteries for about a week. Parts were ordered and shipped, and the replacement was scheduled for this morning. People were onsite to replace the batteries when, around 10:30 a.m., a fallen tree branch took out a power line on Maine Street.
Historia longa, memoria brevis: A brief account of the half-forgotten history of Winter Carnival: Ice, Blood, and Bird
Our Friday article on the upcoming revival of “Winter Weekend” incorrectly stated that the last such event was in 2006. In fact, there was a two-day “Winter Carnival” (or “Frozen Ivies”, or “Winter Ivies”) the weekend of Friday, January 30, 2009. Several alumni have reminded us of this fact, with varying color and fondness. If the 2009 and 2011 events are understandably forgettable, the unintended consequences of the 2005 event should not be. The lengthy account of crime beat reporter nonpareil Joshua Miller ’08 should be read in its entirety, but this is the gist of it: three violent confrontations at Ladd House, leaving the wall blood-stained (see photo above), and one at Super Snack.
SeaWorld implicated in possible infringement of polar bear logo
Update: College and SeaWorld are both investigating
The Bowdoin mascot is turning 100 this week, and everyone wants a piece. Madison Whitley ’13 recently spotted a hat in a SeaWorld San Diego store bearing the current incarnation of the College’s polar bear logo. The issue is now before the Treasurer's Office, which handles trademark and copyright issues, according to Vice President for Communications Scott Hood. “Tell Shamu to sleep with one eye open,” tweeted @BowdoinCollege.
Parodic Twitter account @notbowdoin mocks Communications
The parodic Twitter account @notbowdoin began drawing attention with its late-October mockery of official Bowdoin communications: “The College is taking Hurricane Sandy as a serious threat. Please stay indoors and tag your Instagrammed hurricane photos with #bowdoinfall.” Since then, it has attracted 123 followers. The Orient was granted an interview with the student behind @notbowdoin on the condition of preserving the individual’s anonymity.
Election 2012 liveblog: Obama, King, and ‘yes’ on Question 1
The Orient spent the night reporting from the Pub, Shannon Room, and Angus King's victory event in Freeport. With video, photos, and more tweets than you can stand.
Trustee Bob White ’77 speaks for Romney at Republican National Convention
White seen as Romney’s most trusted friend and adviser
An hour before Clint Eastwood took the stage, Bowdoin trustee, alumnus and parent Bob White ’77 spoke at the Republican National Convention yesterday. Currently Chairman of Romney for President, Inc., White recounted his long experience with Romney's character and business acumen.
"For 30 years, I have been at Mitt Romney's side when he did extraordinary things," said White. "As Mitt says, I'm his wingman."
Air show an exercise in air superiority and military PR
Yesterday, as the first man to walk unearthly soil returned dust to dust, a small fleet of his country’s finest flying machines climbed sunward to “touch the face of God” in the skies above Brunswick.
The 2012 Great State of Maine Air Show, which took place this Saturday and Sunday, featured the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, a Navy F/A-18 Demo Team, stunt performers, parachuters, pyrotechnics, walk-in active-duty Stratotanker and B-1B supersonic bomber (“the Bone”), and a lot of recruiters.
It also featured concession stands (with $7 beer) as far as the eye could see, with each corner of each concession tent topped with its own American flag. The BMI of attendees Saturday was radically bimodally distributed, with most of the low mode currently employed by the Department of Defense and most of the high mode never far from their folding lawn chairs.
Talk of the Quad: Metamorphosis
The elevator cab had drawn up to the sixth floor of Coles Tower with a shudder and was at rest. Its doors slid aside, ready to accept me, but I did not enter. I only knelt at the threshold, just barely tripping the sensor, and unceremoniously dumped my two captives down the dark steel chasm between cab and shaft. They made no sound.
Talk of the Quad: R.I.P.: Our Edison, our Disney
There's not much that hasn't been long since said. You've seen his Stanford commencement speech, of course.
Talk of the Quad: The functional illiterates of 1976
Sometime this past February, a self-proclaimed "doddering alum" of the Class of 1976 joined the elite club of individuals who have clicked the "Ask Us Anything" button on the Orient Express.
Hastings ’83 won’t allow Netflix to move too slowly
Netflix's original business finally has a name that doesn't contradict its nature.
Technology wreaks havoc on privacy
"Privacy is dead; Get over it." So spake Sun Microsystems former CEO Scott McNealy nine years ago, singing the praises of a national ID and implanted smart chips in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Today, the phrase is more often associated with social media than national security, but the two are closely intertwined.
Gesture-driven Kinect heralds new era in user interfaces
Compared to the past's hopes for the present, ours is a disappointingly dull period in the advance of man. Our quest to escape this backwater rock is stagnant, even regressing—a vision increasingly starved for resources by petty terrestrial concerns. Having split the atom, we now find ourselves too petrified and mistrustful of our capacity to justly wield such power to continue developing it.
Students discuss the pros and cons of off-campus housing
According to Associate Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall, roughly 6 percent of students live off campus. While many stick close to the campus frontier, others live as far as five miles down Mere Point Road. All represent conduits piercing the membrane of the "Bowdoin Bubble."
First year seminar explores living in the ‘Facebook Age’
For most students, the lure of Web sites like Facebook, YouTube and ChatRoulette presents a compelling distraction from their homework. For the students in sociology professor Dhiraj Murthy's first year seminar, however, such browsing often is their homework.
Best Buy to open annex in College Store
A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday will herald the arrival of a unique Best Buy annex in the College Store on Maine Street, the product of a collaboration between the College and a seven-month-old entrepreneurial incubation group within the Best Buy Company.
Brunswick Naval Air Base to change name at closing
Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB) will become known as "Brunswick Landing: Maine's Center for Innovation" upon closing in May 2011, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) announced Tuesday.
Bowdoin students, staff figure in Olympic history
"When I watch it on TV, I still find it hard to believe that I was there," said Bowdoin Women's Ice Hockey Coach Stacy Wilson of the Olympics. "It's sort of surreal."
Doubles policy now gender neutral
When the year's housing lottery begins this spring, students will be given the opportunity to live in gender-blind double bedrooms when they return in the fall, allowing male and female students to share a room together. While no formal announcement has been made to the campus community, students involved in the long campaign for gender-neutral housing options were informed yesterday morning of the change.
Students disappointed, angered by small cup size
Although many changes in life at Bowdoin may go unnoticed, the appearance of new paper cups in the dining halls has sparked anything but indifference among the student body. In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, the Dining Service replaced the old eight-ounce paper cups with a much-maligned six-ounce version at the start of the semester.
Energy usage brought to light by new environmental Web site
For eight years, Bowdoin has run annual energy conservation contests, in which dorms compete to save the most energy. With the help of a new online tool, though, students are now able to track their green performance 24/7.
Full classes leave students classless
Being bumped from a class that has hit its enrollment cap is a frustration known all too well by most Bowdoin students. While course registration is a subtle, complex beast, some insights might be gained from the enrollment data published every semester by the Office of the Registrar. Readers should note that data is currently only available for the Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 semesters, and the Spring 2010 data is somewhat warped by the fact that the add/drop period has not yet ended. This data looks at class sections—that is, each offering of Economics 101 is examined separately, as if they were different courses. Classes that are one or two seats shorts of their gap are counted as "full," to account for last-minute fluctuations that the course market could not fill.
Naval Air Station runways close tonight
The latest milestone in the meticulously planned closure of the Brunswick Naval Air Station (NASB) will come tonight, at 10 p.m., when its two massive 8,000-foot runways close. The base—the last active-duty Department of Defense airfield in the northeast—was a casualty of the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission Report (BRAC). It will close entirely in May 2011.
Chance to vote early draws hundreds of students to polls
Around 400 students braved a quarter-inch of rain on Saturday to cast their vote for the November election early. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., town officials aided by student volunteers set up shop in Morrell Lounge of Smith Union for Early Vote Day. The turnout was comparable to last year's, when 409 students voted early. According to Brunswick Town Clerk Fran Smith, last year was the first time the town organized an Early Vote Day during the past nine years.
BCN debuts variety of new shows based on popular TV series
Your next ride in the Bowdoin Shuttle could end in small-scale fame and fortune. Having already debuted the third episode of "The Dorm" and the first installment of "Helmreich Survivor," the Bowdoin Cable Network (BCN) is heading into its 10th year with plans for new shows like "The Randy Ride," based on the Discovery Channel's "Cash Cab" game show.
Maintenance increases as construction slows
Dwindling endowment limits capital projects as Buck Center nears completion
Students returned last week to a slightly spiffier campus than they had left, despite budget constraints that are limiting spending on capital projects. Most notably, the gleaming Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness is nearing completion, scheduled to open September 22.
Seniors Yaffe, Scully to speak at 204th Commencement ceremony
While peer schools have recently snagged big names like Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Brian Williams for Commencement speeches, Bowdoin is sticking to its longtime tradition of keeping the focus on the students.
Campus, town prepare for Ivies Weekend
It's time to boogie down. On Wednesday, the Campus Activities Board (CAB) finally made the official announcement that Santigold and Sean Kingston will be headlining this year's Ivies celebration. The two stars will perform on the Quad Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Student bands Mr. Suds and the Phunky Fresh All-Stars will open.
Hundreds of Bowdoin students to participate in Relay for Life
Tonight, close to 500 Bowdoin students will be spending the night at Farley Field House participating in Bowdoin's fourth annual Relay for Life. "The idea is to celebrate, remember, and fight back against cancer," said student coordinator Julia Seltzer '09.
Local stores contend with slow economy
On Sunday, CyberLANd employee James McKernan told the Orient, "We hit a rough patch, but we're picking ourselves back up. Things are picking up." By Wednesday, a "Going Out of Business" banner had been draped across the storefront. Inside, the news was still sinking in for patrons and staff.
Study abroad imbalance to crowd housing
OCS Office reverses decision, allows students to study away during their preferred semester
Due to an imbalance in Off-Campus Study (OCS) applications, the College is preparing to accommodate an unusually high number of students on campus next fall. According to Associate Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall, 25 Brunswick Apartment doubles will become triples, two Stowe Inn quads will become quints, three Howard quads will become quints, and all 11 Stowe Hall quads will become quints.
'09 Council: Class short on funding
Senior class considers raising additional funds for Senior Week
For the third year in a row, the Senior Class Council will likely be forced to raise additional funds for Senior Week in May. The exact amount remains undisclosed since the council is still calculating expenses. Last year's Senior Week cost approximately $50,000; the current senior class has roughly $20,000 at its disposal. The past two classes have charged up to $60 per student.
Data shows dining hall traffic peaks at 1 p.m.
The dining hall traffic charts that appeared in Moulton Union two weeks ago offer many students a glimpse at a side of the Dining Service they might not normally see. The eight charts, which Dining Services Business Manager Steve Cole called "eye-opening," are the beginning of a wider effort by the Dining Service to understand dining traffic patterns, and to inform curious—or aggravated—students accordingly.
Financial forum illuminates details of committee's plan
Following the release of a memo by President Barry Mills last week, outlining a series of recommendations to aid financial planning, 13 students attended a forum on College finances Tuesday night. Part of a series of community meetings also including staff and faculty forums, the meeting sought to clarify student questions surrounding the College's fiscal affairs and plans to reduce future deficits.
‘Faith, Reason, and Evolution’ series concludes with Humes
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power made headlines last week for offering 4-1 odds on the existence of God. In October, plans for an atheist ad campaign on London buses attracted similar attention; the proposed posters read, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." Today, the lecture "Talk Radio Evolution: The War on Science and the Second Coming of Scopes," featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes, aims to take a more reasoned and in-depth look at one of the most hotly debated issues of our time.
Electronic books slow to catch on
On paper, e-books have long seemed like the wave of the future. But while their attractiveness has yet to translate into a thriving market, that's not stopping the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library from offering access to an ever-growing supply of nearly 100,000 e-book titles.
RIAA continues effort to end illegal downloads
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) made its presence known on campus last spring when it dealt out 11 pre-litigation letters to members of the Bowdoin community. But since then, according to Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis, the association has only ratcheted up its efforts to curb students' illegal downloading at the College.