Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Tradition is important. It binds us together. Gives a sense of greater purpose. College is full of important traditions. At Georgetown there are as many traditions as there are undergraduates. You don't step on the Healy seal. You try to steal a full set of Leo's silverware. Your room gets wet in hurricanes. You run the Exorcist steps and watch The Exorcist  on Halloween. We have had the luck to do two of those things in the past week. Usually The Exorcist is shown in Gaston Hall, but not this year. So, to continue tradition, we are watching it in the common room tonight. If you hear screams, that's probably us.

Q and A

Where do you put your faith?
Who do you think you are?
What is history?
How do you do that?
Why the fuck would you say that?
Did you hear a word I said?
What are you doing here?
Why now?
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Daily Schedule

1:30 pm -- Wake up

2:00-2:30 pm -- Lunch

2:45-4 pm -- Ancient Greek Homework

4-5 pm -- Planning 2nd Semester classes

6:30-11 pm -- Crew for History Boys

11:30-??? --  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Problem of God

An interesting aspect of the college experience that often isn't highlighted is the ridiculous intersection of classes and experiences you get to have while you're there. That International Relations class you're taking gives you a reading that you talked about the week before in Ancient Greek. The conversation you had at rehearsal last night with the set designer comes up discussing seventeenth-century opera in your seminar the next day. By living at school, never being away from your studies, has the amazing ability to bring the most wide-ranging aspects of your academic life together with your regular life. A few days ago, as we all spilled out of our Intro Theology course, I heard my professor mention that the biggest problem humans have when engaging with the divine is language. We are incapable of describing in words our experience. That thought kept twirling in head until Concert Choir rehearsal, when an idea (the confluence of two entirely unrelated classes), popped into my head:

Music brings us closer to the divine because it transcends language and human understanding in a way quite similar to the divine. It transcends linguistic boundaries and touches an inner part of ourselves that we cannot reach with words alone.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

College Essays - Revisited

Today, during the two-hour break we had from rehearsal, I met up with the friends from high school. One of them is still a senior, out here visiting schools. It may be a tad sadistic, but one of the most enjoyable experiences for college students is to watch other kids apply to college. That speaks volumes about the pain involved in the process; and who doesn't like little bit a schadenfreude once and again? But an interesting point came up in conversation. Namely, why do college essays suck so much.

One easy argument against college essays is that they are simply extra work that nobody wants. But I think they are hard because, if done well, they require you to put a lot more into them then you might realize. Not only are you asked to put down 250-500 words, you are asked to fit yourself within that short space. And that is of course predicated on the assumption that you know what this "self" is. It's a challenge for anyone to encapsulate themselves in 500 words, but for a 17-year old it is often overwhelming. And this is on top of senior year school work and choosing colleges and general teenage life (which is never allows as much time for self-reflection as you want).

Michael Winerip of The New York Times has a wonderful line about this in an article he wrote recently: "They’re thinking big and exotic, when they need to think small and meaningful. The single most important advice I give them is to write about something that happened to them that made them feel deeply."

So maybe, instead of focusing picking just the right life story, they should focus on the internal relevance of the story. Don't write what you think they want you to write. Write about what is important to you, what you think defines you. And if you do it well it will also allow you to think deeply about yourself. Correctly done, the college essay should be a defining experience, a line drawn, before and after. (And, done correctly also means done!)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What if Life were more like Theater?

I'm currently working on my first college show, History Boys. My stage manager, Caitlin, is absolutely amazing and when I found this, I couldn't stop laughing and thinking about her. Eventually I'll have time to do actual work. Until then, enjoy theater jokes!

During tech week, everyone is like:

 But your stage manager is just:

Thanks to

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Hoya: I Win Science

Science Professor Named Interdisciplinary Chair

            As recently named interdisciplinary chair in science, physics professor Jeff Urbach said he hopes to build bridges between academic disciplines, scientific and beyond.The honorary position recognizes interdisciplinary research and excellence in teaching and advising.
            “Professor Urbach’s work is a wonderful example of interdisciplinary research that crosses the boundaries of physics and biology in particular,” said Allison Whitmer, senior associate dean for strategic planning and faculty development.
            Urbach has worked in Georgetown’s physics department since 1996. He helped found the Program on Science in the Public Interest, which focuses on the intersection of science and society. “I like the interdisciplinarity of it, the fact that in brings in a lot of different types of science,” Urbach said.
            In addition, Urbach currently serves as director of the Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology.
            Chemistry professor Paul Roepe, who has collaborated with Urbach for several years studying malaria, lauded Urbach’s research skills. “It can be a uniquely productive experience because his perspective is different than mine,” Roepe said. “It’s eye opening.”
            Urbach said that the recent opening of Regents Hall has been especially exciting because the building is designed to facilitate student collaboration across scientific disciplines. “A big part of the design was putting the disciplines in close proximity so we could interact more,” he said. “I think that’s going to be very important in the long run.”
            Urbach added that the undergraduate research opportunities promoted by the new building will teach students skills they cannot learn in lecture alone. “I want them to develop this independence and work out their own solutions to a problem,” he said.
            Brian Rost (COL ’13), a teaching assistant for Urbach’s intermediate mechanics class, praised the energy Urbach puts into developing his students’ abilities. “I worked for him all summer and am now doing my thesis this semester with him. He really knows his stuff and is … a great resource for me in my project,” he said.
            Helen Decelles-Zwerneman (COL ’14) also conducted research with Urbach. “Doing summer research with professor Urbach was one of the very best experiences I’ve had at Georgetown,” she said. “He was very eager to help me in the application process and clearly has an interest in seeing young scientists get the valuable research experience they need.”
            Urbach said that his favorite part of working at the university is having the opportunity to interact with students. “I really like the diversity of things we get to be involved in,” he said. “It’s a privilege to come to work every day and help students advance their knowledge and understanding.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


What makes us special is not the novelty of our ideas, but the confluence of ideas that we generate as we go through life.