Mitch's Blog 7.0

Mitch's Blog


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Finally, A New Post

Beschäftigt. That’s what I’ve been ever since spring break ended. And with two more tests coming up this week as well, I doubt that I’ll have much free time to do much but study. I guess I can look forward to the fact that I’ll earn my summer vacation in just a little more than a month. Since my last final exam will be on Wednesday evening, I will be able to come back home on Thursday, May 11th.

Although I changed it a couple of weeks ago, this will actually be the first post with the new design of the blog in place. I’m glad those who’ve posted on the Zonkboard like the new look. What I am especially interested in finding out is whether or not anyone is having problems viewing the website. So far, the only problem I’ve run across is in viewing the site in Internet Explorer with a resolution of 800x600. The top picture that says “Mitch’s Blog” and such gets cut off. I wish I could fix this problem, or, rather, inconvenience, but it looks like it’s just some sort of bug with Internet Explorer. All I can advise you to do is switch to Firefox...or a higher resolution. Other than that, the site looks fine at higher resolutions in both Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows as well as Safari and Firefox on Apple OS X.

USA Today ran an interesting Advanced Placement-related article in the front page of last Tuesday’s life section. I recommend anyone who took or is taking AP classes to go check it out. I sent the link to one Brainerd High School teacher I thought would enjoy it – Mrs. Niemi – but she must have been out of town again this year on another late spring break because she hasn’t responded. Or maybe she just doesn’t want to talk to me anymore (doubtful).

The 37th annual UND Writers’ Conference took place last week. This is basically a weeklong event that brings a small group of nationally-known writers to town to discuss their work and the overall craft of writing with other writers in the area. Besides that, there are also a few movies shown throughout the week that pertain to whatever the particular theme of the year’s conference happens to be. The theme this year was “border crossings.”

Anyway, the reason I brought that up was because I worked – volunteered – at the conference’s information/help desk three nights last week. In so doing, I earned a few of the 12 service project hours that I need to complete this semester as a part of my commitment to the Honors Program.

I probably should continue the rest in a reply to Jake’s comment on the last post, but last Friday evening from 6 to 9 was one of the times I staffed the desk. Therefore, I didn’t find out the score of the Minnesota-Holy Cross hockey game until after it ended and until after you, Jake, were probably back on the bus heading back to the Twin Cities. What a long way to come for nothing. Though Minnesota’s loss made UND’s chances of getting into the frozen four much greater, I, for one, wouldn’t have minded seeing the likely battle that would have ensued at a Minnesota-UND game.

UND certainly is lucky to have had such a wealthy alumnus in Ralph Engelstad. “The Ralph” Engelstad Arena was completed in 2001 at a cost of $100 million. The arena is pretty much only used for hockey-related events, but in the off-season it does get used for some other things like concerts and circuses. Also completed in 2001, The Alerus Center, which is clearly visible from Interstate 29 between the 32rd Avenue South and Demers Avenue exits into Grand Forks, is more of the city’s multiuse facility. In the fall, it’s the home of UND Football; during the rest of the year it houses, among other things, concerts, conventions, trade shows, and exhibition sporting events. The center has well over 20,000 seats, which makes it the biggest indoor arena between Minneapolis and Seattle. When Cher performed there in 2002, she performed in front of what was then her biggest audience ever.

One of the even neater things about the Alerus Center is that a Canadian hotel company is in the process of building a 13-story hotel and entertainment complex next door. When the all the construction is completed, Grand Forks will have this:

Monday, March 13, 2006

My Week's List

I got home to start my spring break on Friday evening. Oddly enough, last week at school wasn’t all that stressful for me. While I did have quite a bit of homework to get done, I didn’t have any major tests like a lot of other people did. During spring break, however, I am going to have to write an essay as well as get caught up on some chemistry assignments I’ve been putting off for what seems like way too long now. We’re deep into studying acid/base equilibrium now, so, really I should look at those assignments soon.

Other things I need to get done during the weeklong break include giving the blog a facelift. To keep everything looking fresh, I try to completely redesign the look of the blog every 6-8 months or so. The most recent overhaul came last June, so now would be a perfect time to give this place some new colors. I’ll have to go shopping around for templates sometime this week; hopefully I’ll be able to find something I like.

I also have to get some prints developed of pictures I’m going to submit to an annual photography contest that the photography club/organization at UND sponsors. The contest is in its third year and is entitled “UND 24/7.” Basically the only qualifications that the pictures have to meet is that they must have been taken on the campus of UND during the 2005-2006 school year and they must show some aspect of “life” at UND. I found 5 or 6 nice-looking pictures that (I think) could potentially woo the judges. The person/people in charge of the contest seem a little old-fashioned though, since even though he/she/they do accept digital photos, anybody who wishes to submit photos taken digitally must get them printed onto an 8x10 piece of paper, a much more expensive and inconvenient (for the photographer) process than, say, sticking the photo files onto a CD-R. Also, there are three categories that photos can win in – two for film and only one for digital. Still, I would love it if one my photos ended up winning. Besides getting his/her photo(s) displayed on campus in the Memorial Union, the winners also get prizes. I’m not sure exactly what they are, but I wouldn’t mind a gift certificate or something to one of the local camera stores that sponsors the contest. In addition, if the media relations department likes your photo(s) enough, it may use it/them in UND promotional materials. That would be really neat if one of my photos ended up getting placed in something like the “advertisement” brochure that UND sends out to high school juniors and seniors.

As soon as I fix them up a bit in Photoshop, I’ll make sure to share all of the pictures that I’m going to submit to the contest. I’ve shared two of them before – they were in the batch of snow shots I took at the end of January.

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Back to my to-do list for spring break, I wouldn’t mind seeing people I know who are also in town this week enjoying a few days off from school.

I can actually already check off one of the things on my list, since on Sunday evening I finished that “Ultimate Brainerd Climate Page” that I talked about a few posts ago. I can’t believe that I’ve finally finished something that I started during Christmas break in 2004. I do find it really interesting to gather that sort of data, though. It’s like collecting a bunch of pieces to a very big puzzle and then putting them all together.

Though it’s laden with the most data, the easiest chart to assemble was the one that tracks the average temperatures in Brainerd during every month of every year since 1898. I got it done in just a day, thanks to the fact that I largely just had to copy and paste data between Excel and Word.

Just for fun, I decided to confirm my supposition that the past few years in Brainerd have been warmer-than-average. I've made and posted a rather crude Excel chart that illustrates how global warming is also evident in Brainerd's climate; 1996 was the last year that was below normal (with "normal" being represented by the dashed blue line on the chart). Note that I’ve also added a red trendline to the data. This line shows that the average annual temperature in Brainerd has been rising at a rate of 0.0082°F/year, which is pretty insignificant. What would be more informative would be to know the rate that the temperature has been changing per decade. Yeah, I know it would be easy to calculate, but it's not something I feel like doing right now.

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Previous Posts

Four Years Have Passed
Winter of 2007-08 Musings
7th Annual Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials
Another Birthday
A Beltated Update
2007 Vacation: Day 10 Summary
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2007 Vacation: Day 6 Summary


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The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of Mitch Wahlsten and the participants
Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001