186 South College

grab your coffee, sit back and hang out with the UD Honors Program for a while

Month: November 2013 (page 1 of 3)

Growing Pains

Robert Frost is my favorite poet. His poems have that simple yet beautiful sense to them, and whenever I finish reading one – whether filled with images of forked roads, or changing seasons, or fire and ice – I always acknowledge his work with a quiet, “Wow.”

I’ve been thinking about Robert Frost a lot lately. Every so often, more and more frequently now, a line or phrase from one of his poems will pop into my head. I think my Robert Frost syndrome stems from the current time of year, especially as a senior.

For Robert Frost, winter means age. Winter signifies death…or, sometimes, change.

Last weekend, one of my friends brought a legit set of tarot cards to a party. I watched her flip over three cards and read the fortunes of several of my other friends. But after everyone was given a glimpse of their future, then, of course the inevitable question for me was, “Do you want your fortune read?”

Caitlyn characteristic #57: I’m incredibly superstitious. If a black cat crosses my path (which has, for whatever reason, happened to me way too often), I’ll have a mini panic attack for the rest of the day and will immediately throw a handful of salt over my left shoulder as soon as I track down some salt.

Needless to say, I was apprehensive of the whole fortune-reading thing because I actually tend to treat stuff like that seriously.

One of the cards that came up in my hand was Death. My heart started beating a million beats a minute. Death? Perfect. But after a little internet research (and after my friend consulted her handy-dandy “Tarot Card Guide Book”), I learned that in tarot readings, “Death” rarely means, you know, death. Death often comes before a great change or a wild transformation.

My Connecticut backyard, the first snow of last winter.

Death is a new beginning. Winter before spring.

I still remember my senior year of high school so vividly. That year was filled with excitement; I was constantly looking forward – waiting for the flurry of acceptances and deferrals and denials, waiting for a fresh start and a new chapter and all those other “new” clichés.

Now it’s my senior year – of college. I can recall driving up to Delaware, my whole family in tow, ready to move into Russell. Then we arrived…a day early. My mom had read the date of freshman move-in incorrectly. (Side note: My mom is – usually – never wrong. My whole family trusted her unflinchingly. Hence the surprise at this particular mix-up.) We finally got off the exit, drove past the then-intimidatingly-huge football stadium, found the (empty?) Russell dorms…and realized what had happened. Major face-palm moment. But I was actually relieved; as soon as I got into my mom’s red CRV, my previous excitement morphed into terrified anxiety faster than I could say, “Blue hens.” In the car, I asked my mom and dad what would happen – did they remember their freshman years?

My backyard again…with a little more snow

“Yeah it’s scary,” my dad admitted. “Definitely at first. But before you know it, it’ll be your senior year of college and you’ll be graduating again.”

Why did he have to be so right?

 

“…To go with the drift of things,

To yield with a grace to reason,

And bow and accept the end

Of a love or a season?”

 

~Caitlyn Goodhue

Comfortable

I specifically remember listening to National Public Radio when I was seven. It was the first dose of purely American news I ever fully digested. We had lived on a military base in Stuttgart Germany for the past three years. Military orders and a few moving trucks brought us to south Texas, a place that served patriotism super-sized. Audibly famous radio reporter Don Gonyea explained the items on the menu. It was NPR talk that made me realize my mother was incredibly different from her military wife counterparts, a unique inhabitant of one of the reddest states in the nation. “Liberal” and “primary” were words I sprinkled into family dinners before I knew their precise definitions. Morning Edition played when I got ready for school, Car Talk was always on after my soccer games, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me made my dad laugh.

[Later on that year?] When I was in the second grade, my mom purchased John Mayer’s first album, Room For Squares. The tracks of that album became the background music of my early years on earth. If it wasn’t filling our Volvo, it was emanating from our home stereo system. If it wasn’t available for play, it was hovering on the surface of my mother’s lips and vocal chords. She thought he was a genius. “Have you heard ‘No Such Thing’? This is a kid who was a total nerd in high school and look at where he is now.” By the age of eight, I knew every word to every song on the album. Heavier Things dropped in 2003. In my mind, it was the work of a musical god. I went so far as to debate one of my carpool drivers on the merits of the track “Split Screen Sadness”. Mrs. Scheffler found it too poppy, while I found it catchy and a unique departure from his previous work. I was a third grader. By the time Continuum came out, I was a fan of unparalleled devotion. I considered “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” to be the greatest song of all time.

I started watching Friends when I was ten, a consequence of the Dugan household’s very first television and antenna. We had a grand total of ten public channels. One played episodes every weekday night from 9:00 to 9:30 pm. My mother made this discovery before I did. And despite the fact that most of the references were over my head and that it was a relatively late hour for television, she let me watch. When she felt guilty about some sexually explicit comment that no doubt confused me, her signature phrase was “Remember, this is just a show. Real life isn’t like this.” But I hoped that it was. I wanted to live in a well-decorated New York apartment with a crazy neighbor and a crew whose lives were so entertaining that national audiences found themselves laughing.

Some of the time, I find myself acting as a cultural nomad. My iTunes contains both dirty rap and bluegrass, my closet holds studded black tank tops and cashmere cardigans, my bookshelves hold works by JK Rowling and Ralph Ellison. But more often, I find myself referencing NPR stories, scrolling through artists on my iPod until I reach John Mayer, and quoting Friends. I know them well. I can identify reporters by their voice alone, I know every word to every song, and I consider myself one of the gang.

My preferences aren’t something I give much thought to. They so heavily involve my past, something I rarely consciously reconnect with. I prefer to think of myself as living fully in the present, so on top of everything that I am already planning for the future. In my mind, nostalgia is for the weak, and so I convince myself that I am repressing it, that I don’t experience it. Music gets me from one point to another and the news makes me an informed citizen and television keeps me entertained. I like to think of my tastes as dynamic, current and automatic, growing up just as I do. But they aren’t.

The most significant aspects of my personal preferences involve comfort. I associate Robert Seagull with weekend family pancake breakfasts. The conversation topics of the Central Perk Cafe made me laugh with my mother and the first friend I made in Catholic middle school. John Mayer released Battle Studies when I was in a huge fight with my friends and Born and Raised 12 days after the sudden death of my godfather. My life has been a series of transitions, changes, instability, the pillars of a Navy brat. Constants were and are rarities. And while the news of NPR can be biased, the humor of Friends is juvenile, and the music of John Mayer is vanilla, I don’t have to try to like it or understand it. It is worn in. It is safe.

Adventures Around Europe

I have never been much of a traveler. Sure, I have been to New York City quite a few times and have visited Honduras and Costa Rica, but for the most part, my travel experience is limited. So coming to Europe and making travel plans for myself was a daunting thought.

 But, so far, I have managed to survive. In the past two weeks I have visited two famous European cities: London, and Paris. Both of the cities were beautiful and intriguing in their own right. And, I can undoubtedly say that these weekends were some of the best experiences of my life. 

To put it simply, London is the most incredible city I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It was clean, had beautiful architecture, and I simply felt at home. Combining all that with the fact that the royal family lives there and there are oodles of attractive men with accents, I did not want to leave! While in the city, I had the opportunity to explore some fascinating historical monuments such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Platform 9¾ in Kings Cross Station. There is so much to do in the city and I had so little time. Of course, my trip to London also featured typical London weather. It was very blustery and rainy. And, in pure rookie fashion, I did not carry an umbrella with me. So, it was a wet and cold weekend. But regardless of the weather, I am already excited to return.

London was also my first experience with public transportation. Thankfully, it was a positive one! When people say that the Tube (London’s subway system) is incredibly easy to use, they’re telling the truth. With a Tube map in hand, I was soon traveling like a pro. I even had an English woman ask me for directions. To me, that was a symbol of my public transportation successes.

Paris, however, was a different story. Although the city was gorgeous and eclectic, the language barrier was immense. I quickly learned that my fourth grade French would not get me very far. However, other than the inevitable language struggles, I enjoyed exploring the city. Over the course of two days I visited the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre Museum, and many of the other sites that Paris is famous for. It was an action-packed (and extremely cold) weekend, but absolutely worth it to get to experience one of the most important European cities.

While my weekends were busy, the experience of traveling is definitely worth it. To know that I have successfully navigated two major European cities makes me very proud. Thanks to these trips I have become more independent and able to conquer daunting things (like public transportation). Prior to studying abroad, I didn’t like walking around Newark at night by myself. But now, after having walked alone in foreign cities in the dark and survived, I feel that I am ready to conquer UD by night!

One of the many benefits of traveling? Getting to take postcard-worthy photos like this one!

One of the many benefits of traveling? Getting to take postcard-worthy photos like this one!

~Rebecca Jaeger

How Your Phone May Shape a War

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, many of us are probably gearing up for some intense Black Friday deals. While stocking up on Red Bull and coffee to survive the night, however, be conscious of what you’re buying. Major companies such as Nintendo, Canon, and HTC are indirectly supporting armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and by passively buying their products you become part of the problem.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is famous for its mineral-filled mines, particularly tungsten, tin, gold, and tantalum. When armed conflict re-ignited in 2009, rebel groups throughout the region seized control of these mines. In order to make a profit, these rebel groups commit a number of human rights abuses, such as child soldiering, forced labor, and gender based violence (resulting in mass rape and genital mutilation). The minerals that are extracted under these abhorrent conditions are then sold to major technology corporations, which use them to fuel gaming systems, cell phones, computers, and everything in between. Because these conflict minerals are so cheap (as the rebel mines don’t have to pay their workers), corporations won’t stop using them unless someone makes them. That’s where you come in.

As consumers, we have far more power than we realize; without us, companies go bankrupt. If we, as a united front, demand action to be taken then there will be change. Some companies, such as Apple, have already heeded their customers’ demands and have invested in conflict-free mines in the DRC, thus helping to support their economy as well as helping to put an end to the gross human rights atrocities in the region. We can use the power of the purse to our advantage; we can shape the world, and we can save lives.

I’m not suggesting a complete boycott of all goods from companies that aren’t making strides to ensure that their modes of production are conflict free (despite my passion for this issue, I have a deep-seeded love for the Pokemon franchise that isn’t just going to go away overnight). I’m just advocating for greater awareness and greater transparency. Don’t be afraid to make some noise, to stand up for what you believe in. Contact some of the biggest offenders, whether it be directly through letters or phone calls or indirectly through your buying habits this holiday season, and let them know that this is something that you’re passionate about. Alone we cannot make much of a difference, but together, we’re unstoppable.

So as you’re starting your holiday shopping over the next couple of weeks, keep in mind the price that some people are paying to fuel that shiny new laptop or tablet. After all, are rape and slavery really in the holiday spirit?

For a more comprehensive list of how your favorite electronic company stacks up against others in terms of conflict mineral usage, check out RAISE Hope for Congo’s evaluations at: http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/companyrankings

For more information about how we can work together to make UD a conflict free campus, visit: https://www.facebook.com/ConflictFreeAtUd

IT Problems

I’m a 90’s child, like most (if not all) of the undergrads on campus; as such, I’m also a member of one of the first generations of people to have serious, in-depth Internet access. I remember my family getting a Windows 95 for Christmas. I remember sitting in front of the screen for hours, moving from Freddi Fish computer games to Neopets (the coolest virtual pets ever to exist). To me, it feels like my generation grew up with the Internet… Which is part of the reason why, I think, I scrambled to process what was happening when UD’s IT shut off my computer’s internet access Tuesday morning.

After jumping through the hoops of phone-calls and finding something else on which to access the web, I found that IT was claiming my computer had a virus. I’m a nerd, and a bit of a goody-two-shoes one to boot… Not to mention, my big websites are Twitter and Facebook. Where I could have gotten a virus from, I had no idea.

Much to my disappointment, IT wasn’t much of a help explaining how or why I’d gotten this virus. All they sent me was its name, before instructing me to clean my computer as soon as possible if I wanted access to UD Internet again. I could clean it myself, go to an outside source, or pay IT $85 to do it for me, regarding a problem I wasn’t even sure existed… Frustration and the beginnings of distress turned to anger at the fact that I’d gotten a virus I was sure I’d done nothing wrong to receive.

Since I don’t have $85 to blow on a whim (or a virus), I decided to clean my computer myself. It takes quite a bit of time for the scans to run, so while they were doing their thing, I did some research on the virus IT told me I had… And found that it was not only essentially harmless, but could indeed jump from computer to computer. Anyone on campus could have it, and could have unintentionally transferred it to my computer.

I was downright frustrated and disappointed by this realisation. Someone else, whoever first contracted this computer virus, had done something illegal, and now I was wasting my time (and could have been wasting my money!) cleaning it up! When the scans came up clean, and IT restored my internet connection the next morning, I’d simmered a bit, but here’s what still gets me.

It wasn’t my fault that my computer got that virus, and that same thing could happen to anyone else on this campus. Instead of locking out my connection, I wish IT had caught the person who first downloaded the virus: the person who had done something wrong, not the awkward bystander who happened to catch it. IE, me. I’m glad I didn’t fork over close to $100 to have the virus removed, but some people might have, all for something that isn’t their fault. But, dear reader, if this ever happens to you, run the following three, free programs to get the best DIY clean: RogueKiller, Malwarebyes, and Spybot.

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