Snow melting odds: a March Madness alternative

March Melting

It’s that time of year for me to lose another five bucks on a sport that I pay little attention to yet am socially obligated to follow for three weeks in March and April. To me, March Madness is always the same. Of course there are occasional surprising upsets, and some years are crazier than others, but in the end, the fan bases of sixty-seven teams go home disappointed. The whole charade is like a night at Colosseum: I pretend to have fun until reality strikes and I realize I’ve immersed myself in the lives of dozens of sweaty dudes.

This apathy has taken a toll on my brackets. Instead of looking at teams’ styles of play, strengths of schedule, and common opponents, I find myself simply taking my anger out at the teams that disappointed me the year before (fuck you, Villanova).

I will be boycotting March Madness this year. It’s overhyped and I’m terrible at it. We need another March/April-specific alternative to lose money on.

My eureka moment came during a drunken argument simple inquiry while walking through the main green: “Which snow mound will be the last to melt on campus?” No need for 67 games; just countless piles of ice, salt, and dirt in a war of attrition against the sun.

I am overjoyed to present the first annual March Melting. Here are some previews to get you oriented:

The Prestigious: The pile on Wriston QuadIMG_4949

Strengths: Good balance of dirt and salt, sheltered from wind and afternoon sun.

Weaknesses: Heavy weekend traffic of drunk college kids could pose a hazard.

March Madness Equivalent: Duke

Few piles can stand up to the prestige of the one on Wriston. Made up of snow from all around Wayland Arch, the mound has been a consistent presence this season, from the snowball fights and tackle football of the first snowstorm, to the sweltering 50-degree heat of March 12th.

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Brown Mythbusters: The Bio-Medical Center exhaust vent

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There is a distinct yin and yang vibe surrounding the two concrete structures on the north patio of the Bio-Medical Center. The eastern stack takes outside air in. The western stack pumps inside air out. Today, we are only concerned with the output stack, whose overhead cover and continuous output of warm air offers refuge from the cold for some, but evokes a sense of danger in others, who believe toxic chemicals from the research center are dispelled through the vents.

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Professionally-rendered diagram of air flow.

“I always hold my breath when I walk by there,” says Erik Danie ‘18.

So by basking in a few seconds of warmth, do you run the risk of exposure to hazards such as carcinogens and possibly even byproducts of top-secret biomedical experiments? Or is the exhaust safe to inhale? Or does it even matter?

Phase 1: Unlike the CIT shower investigation, this myth only required one step to solve. We spoke with a representative from facilities who assured us that the air is, in fact, perfectly safe to breathe. All exhaust that escapes the concrete structures—which serve as both fire stairwell egresses and ventilation output—comes from classrooms and meeting rooms in the building. This air is kept separate from the lab ventilation and output from fume hoods, which exits through the top of the building.

Although the idea of easy access to toxic fumes from the biology/medical labs could be appealing to those seeking new freaky superpowers, the only thing remotely dangerous about the air under the western ventilation stack is the second hand smoke coming from the guy standing next to you.

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The Hunting Ground screens at Brown

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“My rape was bad, but the way I was treated in the process was worse.”

The Hunting Ground is a documentary that explores the world of sexual assault on college campuses, and the processes through which those cases are handled. BlogDH went to IFF’s screening with the intention of gathering student reactions at the end of the film. The night did not go as expected. What started as a montage of adorable college acceptance videos, quickly escalated to a platform for the interwoven narratives of college sexual assault victims across the nation. The overarching theme was to follow the first two women in this movement to file a Title IX case against their school, UNC Chapel Hill. The personal story arcs for so many of the victims made the story hit close to home, with one student who exited the theater saying “that could be me.”

As the documentary layered the various complexities that victims face on college campuses, at times going against inert administrations, athletic infrastructures, and the fraternity system, one would stop to catch a breath and think, “this must be the end of the movie,” only to be hit with another punch to gut. When the film let out, very few attendees wanted to speak with us. Some shook their heads, declined to comment, and one person said, “I have no words.” We gathered what afterthoughts we could, but we also would like to acknowledge that the film was very intense, and many people were unable to talk about it immediately afterwards. Another student said, “I don’t know if I have anything positive on the subject,” illustrating the moroseness that hung over the audience, despite occasional messages of hope.

In many of the featured cases, students filing sexual assault charges were downright ignored. When you did see change, it was often followed by a lack of institutional memory. Many have clamored for college administrations to inform their student body of potentially dangerous areas on campus in regards to sexual assault. Wesleyan did that just a few years ago, by sending out an email warning incoming freshman to stay away from a certain fraternity house, because they could not secure it as a safe environment. It was met with outrage from alumni, parents, and some students. The next year, they did not send out the email, and by Halloween a student was raped in the fraternity house. Despite the anticipated backlash, another student leaving Granoff still insisted that “Brown-specific sexual assault data should be reported to students, because the issue goes well beyond protecting image (of the University).” Continue Reading


Not quite viral: President Paxson’s online office hours

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Yesterday, The Brown Undergraduate Council of Students set up their own version of a Reddit-style AMA for President Christina Paxson. From 2:30-3:30pm they opened up a comment thread on their Facebook page and invited students to ask the president questions which she could respond to in real time.

There were 33 questions asked. Here are some things we learned:

Classes of ’16 and ’17 will not see a renovated Ratty.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 4.14.11 PMStill, the new Ratty may not feel all that new.

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Paxson will go anywhere with Margeurite.

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A Cool Thing You Probably Missed: Axolotl Day

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One of the “Axolotl Art Contest” submissions.

Although I was already planning on attending Axolotl Day when one of my editors pressured politely asked me to cover the event, I had not the slightest clue what an axolotl was. But as I exited the Sci-Li elevator and entered the Science Center, I knew I was in my element.

The atmosphere was like that of a second grade birthday party. There were balloons, a face painting station, free pizza, and a raffle to win a real live axolotl (which I later learned was a critically endangered type of salamander). I entered my name into the axolotl lottery and sat down to listen to a short talk about the creatures.

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Calling people out on their shit: The Rackers

People generally fall into two categories after they finish their meals and leave the Ratty. There are “Sorters” and there are “Rackers.” The Sorters clear the leftover trash on their plates, separating paper waste from food waste, and place their dishes, cups, and silverware into the appropriate containers. The Rackers shove their miscellaneous plate-cup-food-trash stacks onto the tray towers adjacent to the sorting system.

During breakfast at the Ratty on Monday I sat near the sorting/racking station and kept track of who racked and who sorted. To my surprise, the split was dead even. As I sorted my own plates, I left the Ratty disappointed that half of Brown students were too lazy to take six seconds to make the jobs of the men and women at Dining Services a little easier.

When I brought up this phenomenon to a friend who happened to be a Racker, he defended himself: If sorting really made life that much easier for kitchen staff, why do they even have racks out in the first place? So after my next meal I went into lazy investigative journalism mode and asked the same question the first conveniently available BDS employee I saw, Arlindo.

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