Saturday, May 24, 2014

Adventures of a Carillonneur: Connecticut

I ran out of time to publish this during finals week. I'm currently in New York, so more travel blogs soon!

For those of you who haven't heard, I take carillon lessons at Wellesley. I know I've talked about the Guild of Carillonneurs before - here's a link to a blog I wrote my first semester about a carillon trip I went on then. (Here's a helpful article about carillons too.)

One of my favorite things that we do in the Guild is go on road trips. Basically, we drive around to different towers and play concerts. Its really fun because every tower is unique, and every instrument feels very different to play. Plus, carillons tend to be at the top of towers, so inevitably we have our fair share of climbing steep ladders and narrow spiral staircases. I always feel like I'm delving into the past and going on an adventure.

The day after classes ended, we took a trip to Connecticut to play three different instruments - one near the University of Connecticut in Storrs, one in a church in New Britain, and one at Yale University. It's really cool that we got to go to Yale - Wellesley and Yale are the only carillons in the country played almost exclusively by student guilds.

Here are some pictures from the day! Overall it was a 13 hour trip, including driving time, playing 3 concerts, and eating lunch and dinner.

A church across the street from the
University of Connecticut

To get to the carillon we passed the clock
and all the gears and machinery

A church in New Britain

The bells from below - there was a thunderstorm going on,
I felt a little foolish for being up in a tower.

Harkness Tower at Yale

I really wanted to climb these stairs, but
we weren't allowed...

Friday, May 9, 2014

What I've Learned: Part 1 (Academics)

As of today, my classes are officially done for the semester! For me this has always been a bittersweet time - I tend to become very invested and interested in what I'm learning throughout the semester, so it can be hard when it ends. Not to mention it can be hard to leave my professors and classmates I have been spending so much time with!

In honor of the last day of classes, I wanted to share with you some of the most interesting random facts I've learned in my classes this semester. A vast majority of my time every week is taken up by classes and homework, but I feel like I don't actually talk to other people very often about what I'm learning. (I'm planning on writing another post soon about other things I've learned this semester outside of classes.) This post might be completely boring to everybody else, but here goes!

Computer Networks
  • I learned that it's really not very hard to do "mail spoofing" - that is, sending email from other people's accounts. The most malicious thing I've done with it is send a friend an email from their own address, but it baffles me that after about an hour I was able to figure out how to do something that could be potentially very damaging. (That class made me kind of terrified in general about all of the security issues with the internet.)
  • I'm a big fan of crime shows, and the impression I've always gotten is that an IP address is basically the permanent identification of your computer. But, did you know IP addresses change quite frequently? In fact, if you disconnect your laptop from one wireless network and connect to another, you very likely have a new IP. (So how do they always find people based on the IP address of their computer?!)

Latin 102
  • The United States has 3 mottoes in Latin (if you look on a dollar bill you can see them). Probably the most well known of the three is "e pluribus unum", which means "out of many, one". The phrase has the strangest context - it is found originally in a poem written about a farmer preparing a dish of food. The quote refers to the colors of the different ingredients mixing and become one. I guess when America was called the "melting pot" they were being a bit more literal than I thought...
  • When Harvard University was established, proficient knowledge of Latin (and Greek) was required for all applicants, and in fact students were not allowed to speak English on campus.

Classical Mythology
  • Maybe this is old news, but I never realized that Mt. Olympus (the mythical home of the Greek gods) is a real mountain in Greece. I guess I always assumed it was made up. Wouldn't they have eventually figured out there were no gods living up there if they could climb the mountain themselves?
  • You know the Disney movie Hercules? I learned all sorts of interesting things about the real story of Heracles (his original Greek name). His story wasn't so much a love story, but a horrible tragedy - because of the jealousy of one of the gods, he ended up going crazy and killing his entire family. When he does his labors and kills all the monsters, it is punishment for the murder of his family. (I don't think I'll ever be able to watch the movie again without picking apart every singe flaw in the story...)

Math (Combinatorics and Graph Theory)
  • Suppose there are a group of people in a room. Assuming friendship is mutual and we only consider friendships between people in the room, it is mathematically impossibly that an odd number of people in the room each have an odd number of friends. For example, there is no possible situation in which there are exactly 3 people in a room who each have 5 friends.
  • There is something called the 4 color theorem which says that any map can be colored with only 4 colors so that no two touching regions are the same color. (Even more interestingly, it can be shown that if the world were shaped like a donut instead of a sphere, 7 colors would be needed. It's actually a lot easier to figure out the case with a "donut-shaped" world.)
see - only 4 colors!