Pockets of Blue

musings of my mind

Month: March 2006

Career Fair Guide

After attending and pretty much owning the career fair today I wanted to pass on some tips to some of my younger, more inexperienced readers…

How to Work a Career Fair

  • Research is for losers.  There are hundreds of companies at career fairs, and if you know even the slightest detail about any it just screams out "desperate."
  • Dress for Success.  Cargo pants and a wife-beater with bowtie just scream out "Professional."  Suits are for losers.
  • Lighten your load.  Ignore all this hype about "resumes."  Companies
    will discover all they need to just by talking to you at the career
    fair.
  • Make a good first impression:  Lighting up a stoge as you approach the HR person will let them know that you don’t mess around.  Don’t forget to display your confidence by blowing smoke rings in their face.
  • Lighten the occassion.  "Yo’ mama" jokes always win over recruiters.

With these simple tips you are sure to score some interviews at any career fair.  Or be removed promptly by security.

Ice Climbing

Ice climbing to me was always one of those sports that seemed out of reach.  I’m not sure if it was the stigma, the price of equipment, or the simple idea of climbing up a sheer wall of ice up to thousands of feet tall.  Either way, experiencing it pretty much shattered any preconceptions I had previously had.

When registering for courses for the Spring I realized I needed another ‘activity’ in order to graduate.  I was pleasantly surprised that Ice Climbing was being offered, and was the first to sign up.  After a brief meeting in the Red Barn (our on-campus climbing gym) we met on friday afternoon to head to the Adirondaks.  Only four souls were brave enough to embark on this journey, which was very nice.  Along with our instructor and a TA (my age), there were six of us total.

I was pretty psyched the whole way up, about five hours from Rochester.  We stayed at a ski shop in their bunks downstairs and got up early on Saturday for a day’s climbing.  Our first wall was down into a canyon from the outlet of Chapel Pond.  Anybody familiar with my pics from hiking Giant will remember seeing this pond, very visible for most of the hike.

We briefly reviewed tying knots and belaying basics, and George (the TA) scrambled up around the wall to set up the top rope.  We waited (im)patiently for them to come back so we could start.100_1050_1
I was naturally the first to volunteer to go, and started making my way up the choppy middle section of the wall on the right.  I progressed pretty well about 2/3 of the way up (guess I’m a natural) before my hands started getting really sore from gripping the ice axe so hard.  Then I decided to go up the right side of the uppermost central rock face, and ended up falling after an axe placement slipped.  After a 50 foot fall or so I brushed myself off and went back at it.  Good ol’ combat roll at the bottom saved me from injury.

Haha, ok so of course when you fall the rope simply tightens and your belayer (the person controlling the rope at the bottom, see my pics) catches you.  Falling was still unacceptable to me and I went about 9-10 times before doing it again (incidentally on my last climb of the weekend).  The next few climbs I made it to the top, taking just about every route I could.

The beauty of ice climbing is that you’re not restricted to finding holds in the wall like in rock climbing.  You just pound your ice axes into the ice for handholds and kick your crampons (spikes sticking off your boots, they’re pretty badass) into the ice for footholds.  This allows you to take just about any route to the top.  Usually I just want to get to my destination when i’m in the woods (in the case the top of the wall) so I usually just head straight up.  Either way, it’s extremely taxing on your upper body, especially your hands and arms.  Come to think of it, it’d be a really fun yet effective method of working out.  Sweet.

I had taken an outdoor rock climbing class a couple summers ago, long before this blog detailed my life’s story, and was quite unimpressed with my classmates.  It was a similar trip, we went to Rattlesnake point to the west of Niagara Falls in Canada to do some climbing.  They seemed mostly uninterested in climbing and I ended up doing by far the most.  This time was different, though.  There were only four of us and it was clear that we all enjoyed the outdoors and a challenge, not to mention handling standing around for hours at a time in sub-freezing temperatures.  We all gave it a shot time and time again, which was admirable, especially at a nerd-filled school of engineers and techies like RIT.

The next day we spent climbing on Pitchoff Rock.  Anybody who has driven into Keene from Lake Placid will have probably noticed this wall, it’s on the left side opposite of Cascade Lake.  According 100_1092_1
to Tony it’s one of, if not the most climbed wall in the Northeast.  This is because of it’s accessibility and approachable dimensions.  The ice here was even more beautiful than on saturday, esepcially because the sun was shining.  However, the sun has a very dramatic and fast effect on ice, and after about a half-hour it was dripping pretty badly.  The column especially was dripping pretty badly, and we joked (well half-joked) about kicking it right over when climbing.  A column is simply a free-standing pillar of ice formed from a giant icicle, like at left.  Here it was difficult to maintain your lateral balance on since it was so thin, and I ended up flailing my axe a few times to keep my balance.  Overall it was pretty easy though.  After a few climbs the ice started getting really soft and difficult to manage, and eventually I started pulling my axe right through the ice.  This led to my second and last fall of the weekend, and I decided to call it a day due to fatigue and some serious soreness. 

Afterwards we headed to the Noonmark diner for lunch and pie and then headed home to the sounds of NPR.

I’ve decided that ice climbing isn’t something I’m going to jump right into yet, as it’s still not as much fun as simply climbing mountains and is incredibly inexpensive.  Rope, boots, carabiners, ice screws, ice axes, crampons, and belay devices will make you self-sufficient, to the cost of $1000+.  However, I figure that once I start climbing peaks tall enough to be glaciated I’ll need this stuff anyway.  All in due time.

Berlin

I was in Berlin for four days and four nights near the end of February.  Most cities would not be able to provide four days’ worth of entertainment for your typical 21-year-old American male.  Well, in fact I didn’t cover even close to everything I wanted to.  And this was four days of my ridiculously fast, subway-cruising tourist pace.

My Mom and Dad graciously came to visit me for a week in February, and we made our way from Amsterdam to Osnabrück, Hannover and finally Berlin.  Amsterdam was nice but brief.  The Van Gogh museum was fantastic; I would call it my favorite art museum (and artist) of all that I have seen.  After a single night there we took a train to Osnabrück in the late afternoon.  I was a bit curious as to how we would keep busy in Osnabrück but it actually wasn’t bad; luckily, we claim a few very fine restaurants.  Unfortunately I had a million clerical things to do those last couple of days, so finally leaving Osnabrück was bittersweet yet relieving.  So on Wednesday we drove to Hannover as kind of a pit stop on the way to Berlin.  We didn’t have much time to do anything and just kind of walked around the city for awhile before dinner.

Finally on Thursday we made it to Berlin.  First stop was Checkpoint Charlie and it’s adjacent museum, which was fascinating.  It provided a good, quick history of the city that would end up being supplemented and reinforced several times at the other myriad tourist attractions.  Afterwards we walked to Unter den Linden, the main street of former East Berlin.  This street contains several of Berlin’s many museums and is terminated at one end by Berlin’s icon, the Brandenburg Gate.

At this point it sounds like I’m just going to be retelling each of the touristy things we did in chronological order.  Well, that’s boring so I’ll just hit the high points: 

  • That first night we ate at a fantastic authentic Greek restaurant down the street from our hotel.  I forget the name of it, but I do recall everything down to the little detail was great: the gorgeous waitresses, modern decor, delicious fruity wine, fresh baked bread, even the bottled Greek mineral water was very much above average.  My taste buds relished the finest calamari they had ever experienced, and to top it off they provided a complimetary Ouzo shot at the end.  All for under 25 euro apiece.
  • Giant, life-size foosball.  Somehow we wandered this huge foosball field complete with about 20 people playing it.  I can’t really describe it; check out the photos.  Needless to say it was awesome.
  • The VW dealership had a Bugatti on display.  Not just any Bugatti but a 1001-horsepower V16 exotic supercar.  Needless to say it was awesome.
  • "Siegesäule" (victory tower) in the middle of the Tiergarten.  It provides a very nice view of Berlin and it’s surrounded by a massive park making it all the more impressive.  Best of all, entrance was €1.50.  Eat that Eiffel Tower.
  • Jewish Memorial.  My pictures don’t really do it justice, you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Several things stood out for me in this city:

  • Incredibly varied architecture.  The reunified Berlin is only about 16 years old, yet the city itself is thousands of years old.  The development going on there at the moment is unreal.
  • Price.  Food in general was super cheap, arguably half the standard prices of Amsterdam.  Beer was like 2€ a bottle (this is unheard of in a western European city of 1.7 million people)
  • Ridiculous nightlife.  Keep reading.

After two nights my parents needed to get back so they could make it to work on Sunday.  I wanted to get on the same flight but it was prohibitively expensive, so I hung around for an extra couple of days to catch a cheap mid-week flight back to the USA.  Naturally, I stayed at a youth hostel for dirt cheap and hung out with a bunch of like-minded traveling international kids.  The first night I met a few kids at the hostel bar and we ended up going out at around midnight.  After wandering around for a while we stumbled upon one of the hundreds of techno clubs of Berlin.  It was big and very open, but at the same time had a bit of a cold atmosphere.  I chalked up the lack of dance floor inhabitants to the fact that it was a sunday.  Eventually we ended up at this reggae club down the street, and it was pretty much the exact opposite of the first club: warm, small, chill, and absolutely packed with people.  Mind you, this was at 4 AM on a sunday night, and there were at least 150 people.  I didn’t make it back to the hostel til after 5 (which, apparently, is early for Berlin).  The next night I kinda took it easy since I had to get up early for my flight, and ended up downstairs at the bar singing karaoke with and to a rather large crowd of Dutch kids.  This reaffirmed my opinion that Dutch people are cool.

The flight home was long and boring, and the initial jet lag really took it out of me.  I was quite depressed near the end, especially when we finally touched down in New Jersey and it was completely clear that my European journey had at last come to a conclusion.  All good things, alas, must eventually come to an end.

Reentry

The day has finally come.  On Tuesday I set my first foot on American soil in over five months, at Newark International Airport.  I was pretty meloncholy for most of the (excruciatingly long, 9 hour) flight and am still getting over it.  The things that I expected to be strange — not having to switch languages anymore, fighting crowds of fat people — haven’t actually been that bad.  Just a lot of minor things that I have gotten used to are adding up to create a substantial feeling of disorientation.  However I doubt it will take long to get back into school mode when I head back to RIT next week.

I’m writing this from home after my second full day back in Lewis County.  It is, of course, as boring as it always been, with the addition of a large, ugly Walmart Supercenter on route 12.  I don’t like the direction that’s going at all.  So on Tuesday I landed, took a bus to Manhattan, helped a German girl get oriented with the city, and made my way up to Queens after meeting up with Brandon briefly.  I was an exhausted, fatigued mess for most of the night and not very good company, but it was still great catching up.  An extra six hours awake combined with some serious partying the last few days in the fantastic city of Berlin led to a sound night’s sleep.  My parents picked me up in Utica after a 4.5 hour train ride (one of the stops was Amsterdam, NY…*sigh*) and we went out to eat and headed home.

Soon I’ll post about Berlin, complete with photos.  It was a great choice as my European farewell city.

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