Fall Semester 2006 is HISTORY!

December 17, 2006 § Leave a comment

For the most part anyway. After a rather long hiatus, I am finally venturing back into the blogosphere at least for a bit. Finals are over (thank God!) and this past semester is just that – the past. But despite everything that may have transpired to get me down, I do have some great memories, listed here in no particular order: 

Every single White House tour was awesome, and each brings to mind a memory very special.

With the Brewers, it was wonderful seeing the West Wing through the eyes of the boys George, John, and Mark, who were excited about everything and just mischievous enough to get into things I hadn’t been daring enough to try and see. And I gained new insight into the Drs. Brewer – now I know who is the more daring of the dynamic duo!

My tour with Fr. Baer, Alys and her friend Coty, Catherine, and Kevin was one of the best times I have ever had. Being a rather youthful group, we vigorously went to work being as goofy as we could for pictures. Kevin kept us in suspense with his vast knowledge of American history (yes Kevin, we have incorporated some of your comments into our latest tours!).

I also had a fantastic time with Dr. White on his tour, both meeting him and Daddy for dinner and taking the tour itself. We got the Canadian viewpoint on the White House from Dr. White, and he expanded our knowledge for the tour even more by telling us about the part Canada played in early American history. And if St. Bonaventure Hall is ever condemned as dangerous, we decided which room in the White House Fr. Pritzl could have (the Roosevelt Room) and which one would be Dr. White’s (the Oval, of course).

Finally, the last tour I went on (at the point of writing this) was when we took the seminarians from TC, Brandon, Paul, Don, and Rob. I am still waiting for the results of Paul’s research…

This was the most social semester thus far, especially with the realization of my dream of having potluck dinners for students and faculty. As the new treasurer of the Philosophy Club, I took advantage of the fact that our budget is quite tight to arrange monthly potluck dinners. To be honest, I was stunned by the support I received from the faculty: Msgr. Wippel and Dr. White came to two of the dinners, Dr. Zaborowski came to one, and Dr. Doolan came to all three! Attendance was rather small, our largest crowd being ten people, but everyone had a great time. For a few hours at least, Philosophy takes the back burner and we all enjoy each other’s company (dessert, anyone?). Well, maybe philosophy doesn’t entirely take the back burner…there is the occasional lapse into a serious discussion of why Goofy and Pluto are both dogs but one is rational and the other isn’t…

One afternoon I walked into Mr. Dr. Brewer’s office, and was greeted by a smile as he looked up from a pile of papers he was reading. “Hi” he said, “do you feel like an author?” I asked him why I should, and he proudly informed me that our article had been accepted by the board and was going to be published. My name is in print for the first time although at the end of the contributing authors as a result of the fact that my name comes near the very end of the alphabet. Unfortunately, the article is only available to subscribers to Inorganic Chimica Acta, but I don’t think that anyone is bewailing the fact they can’t read “The N-Alkylation of Iron (III) Tripodal Complexes”.  It’s a real page-turner.

But no, really. Research work was really amazing this semester. For our latest structures, Dr. Brewer was called a “molecular sculptor” by one reviewer, and another reviewer (who is not usually a religious man) said that our structures made him realize that the hand of God is at work in the world.

To retain our sanity in what was a particularly difficult semester, the Brewers took me on a field trip to the University of Maryland for a talk by Dr. Peter Stang, a giant in the field of molecular self-assembly. The Brewers were wonderful as usual. I had a great time, and felt refreshed after a short time off of the campus. The lecture was so fascinating that I ended up writing a research paper on it for another class. Also, I got to meet our master crystallographer, Peter, and see the x-ray defractometer myself. What an incredible piece of equipment!

As silly as it sounds,one of my favorite memories of this semester was standing in the hallway in Maloney playing the game with Dr. White of making plans about moving the School of Philosophy (see part II of the game above, in the White House). We decided that it would be a good and practical idea to move the School of Philosophy into Maloney Hall, since it has a larger faculty, and move the Chemistry department into St. Bonaventure. Obviously, we would still allow the Chemistry department use of the labs in Maloney. Hmmmm…I’m not sure how much the Brewers would like the idea.

On a whim, Mommy and I rushed to Baltimore one Friday night to see a performance of Mozart’s Requiem Mass by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. It has been one of my life’s goals to hear that masterpiece live; all my dreams were fulfilled that night for $10. I have the CD (Sir Neville Marriner) but it is nothing like hearing it yourself. Now I am addicted to concerts…I find myself checking the BSO calendar pretty often.

At the beginning of the semester, Kenny and I went on a hiking trip with our new associate pastor, Fr. Mark White, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The hike was only supposed to be six miles, but the three of us must be unconsciously adventurous, because we ended up taking a wrong turn somewhere and took a ten-mile walk round-trip up and down the mountains. It wasn’t a problem: in what other company could you discuss philosophy, theology, and literature, say the rosary, play games (like “in my Grandma’s suitcase…”), quip back and forth about Zeno’s paradox, and laugh about fig newtons while hiking? I did not regret the lost study time.

St. Augustine was the focusof this semester’s School of Philosophy lecture series. My favorite speakers in the lineup were definitely Dr. White and Dr. Rist. Despite half the subject-matter being just a tad out of my intellectual reach, I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures and the opportunity to stretch my mind. The sometimes cat-and-mouse Q&A sessions at the end of each lecture were terribly exciting. Fr. Pritzl said that I should be given the attendance medal for coming to every single one, but I would immediately have to turn around and give it to Dr. White, who “nudged” me into coming even when I didn’t want to.

Haha, “Babette’s Feast” again…it’s tradition now. Dr. White had a pretty sizable crowd this year, and I enjoyed the movie even more the second time. Of course, I prepared ahead of time by pulling out my Leon Kass book and rereading the appropriate sections.

To finish, a memory with a special thank-you. Without the constant support of my neighbor-across-the-hallway and genius behind my research work (“Molecular Sculptor”!!!!), Dr. Greg Brewer, I would not have finished this semester in the condition I did. We spent a lot of time commiserating over his recrystallization matrices, and offered each other moral support in utter exhaustion. He doesn’t realize how many times I felt like crying about my life just as he walked into the lab with an interesting chemical fact or some crystals to look at. He re-awoke my wonder at the natural world every time and made me want to continue.

Of course, there are dozens of other memories, but they would take too long to detail: venerating the relics of St. Andrew at the Shrine, a supportive hug from Fr. Fisher after a truly harrowing week, laughing with Msgr. Hughes about classical music, the Christmas Concert at the Shrine, visiting Steven at St. Charles Borromeo, joking around with Kevin in the sacristy, visiting with cousins…thank God for it all.

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