The Star Wars Cantina

This weekend, a couple of friends and I transformed Paces (Swarthmore’s party space) into the cantina from Mos Eisley in Episode IV.  We had some attendees with great costumes, including five Han Solos and two Chewbaccas.  The highlight of the night was live music from the Modal Nodes (video coming soon).  You could never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy:

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Social Media Overload

Keyboard

Keyboard

I’m starting to feel a bit overloaded by Twitter et al.  I think older generations are trying to access what they have deemed the “ADD generation” by assuming we like our communication to be incessant and in packets of 140 characters or less.  There was a tweetup and a social-media-focused poet at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention.  At the Tau Beta Pi National Convention last week, one of the first business announcements was that delegates should use hashtag #TBPconv.  And one of the things that Astronaut Mike Massimino of this summer’s Hubble Repair Mission highlighted was that he was the first person to tweet from space (even though he technically emailed Houston and they tweeted).

I think social media has become a fad that needs to fade a bit.  I’ve been working with the Renewal Project to help develop some of their social networking tools, and there’s just too much pressure to have all of the latest online fads available.  This New Yorker parody describes it perfectly:

If you already have a blog, make sure you spray-feed your URL in niblets open-face to the skein. We like Reddit bites (they’re better than Delicious), because they max out the wiki snarls of RSS feeds, which means less jamming at the Google scaffold. Then just Digg your uploads in a viral spiral to your social networks via an FB/MS interlink torrent. [Read full article]

Maybe I’ll have a different perspective after the talk on Friday by Twitter Co-founder and Swarthmore Alumnus Dom Sagolla:

Sagolla’s book, 140 Characters, examines how to best write for social networks’ new form of short tweets, status updates, and text messages. “Wherever possible, use fewer words,” explains Sagolla. “This is harder than it sounds, but once you get past the basics of grammar you start getting into the really interesting aspects of poetry and word design.” [From the Swarthmore College Communications Office]

Fall Break in Boston

MBTA Route 73 Bus to Mt. Auburn in the Harvard Bus Tunnel

MBTA Route 73 Bus to Mt. Auburn in the Harvard Bus Tunnel

I spent the first half of fall break in Boston.  Other than a quick overnight earlier this fall, this was my first chance to spend time there since the summer of 2008 when I worked with ACE.  Overall, despite the ten hours it took me to travel from Swarthmore to Somerville (thumbs down for Bolt Bus, thumbs up for Megabus), it was a great trip.  I got a chance to catch up with ACE and spend time with a number of friends from high school and college.  I also had some great Indian food, made it to Kimball’s, watched the undefeated Tufts water polo team play their alumni game, and rode the Silver Line to South Station on its first day of operation.  And I hopped on an Amtrak train to head back down south before the snow started.  Pictures from my trip to Boston are below:

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Pterodactyl Hunt

Pterodactyl Hunt

Pterodactyl Hunt

It took me until senior year to participate in one of Swarthmore’s finest traditions.  Last night, with about 300 fellow Swatties, I ran around the Science Center quad hitting people, monsters, and ogres with a foam sword.  My battle group gave up before earning my Pterodactyl Hunting License, so I didn’t get the chance to fight one of the three venom-spitting reptilian beasts, but it was fun nonetheless.  The Gazette has a few more pictures.

SEPTA Shenanigans – Norristown R100 Switch Failure

I enjoyed a 35 minute delay while riding the Norristown High Speed Line (R100) out of 69th Street this morning.  SEPTA was planning to operate single track service for tree-trimming work.  After leaving Wynnewood Rd., outbound trolleys were supposed to transfer to the inbound track, returning to the outbound track at Bryn Mawr:

NHSLAfter departing Wynnewood Rd., however, my trolley did not switch onto the incoming tracks.  So the operator of the trolley stopped, consulted with dispatch, and was instructed to back up through the incomplete interlocking at Wynnewood Rd. onto the inbound tracks.  They quickly realized that this left nowhere for the inbound trolley to go, so we moved back forward onto the outbound tracks, jamming the switch in the process.  So the inbound trolley was stuck at the platform at Wynnewood Rd., and we couldn’t proceed until maintenance reset the switch for it to leave.

Things got a bit chaotic on the trolley.  A number of passengers destined for Paoli had boarded an R5 earlier in the morning, only to experience a power outage and the train’s reversal to 30th St.  There, they were told to take the MFL to 69th St., the NHSL to Radnor, and the 105 bus to Paoli; halfway through this long detour, their train had to back up again, and some were pretty unhappy.

Despite some annoyed passengers, SEPTA responded fairly well.  The operator was paying attention, stopped the trolley when needed, and kept passengers informed of what was happening.  The maintenance team that responded acted out of an abundance of caution in closely inspecting the malfunctioning switch before each trolley movement.  Most passengers appreciated this and recognized the incident for what it was: an indication of the need for increased transit infrastructure funding.

And of course, the MBTA fulfilled its function well today in showing that things can always be worse [via bostonist].

Fireflies

Fireflies swarmed Parrish Beach tonight.  Pictures:

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Peaslee Demo Round

A few pictures from the Peaslee Debate Society’s Fall 2009 Demo Round.

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Take NJ Transit to Los Angeles

Amtrak locomotive and NJ Transit rolling stock in front of Gateway Plaza at LA Union Station

Amtrak locomotive and NJ Transit rolling stock in front of Gateway Plaza at LA Union Station

I spotted some NJ Transit rolling stock at Los Angeles’ Union Station last Friday.  I should have taken that instead of flying back to the East Coast.

New Jersey Transit in Los Angeles

New Jersey Transit in Los Angeles