Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Photos

Here is a picture of the table set for today's meal as well as the centerpiece, a bowl filled with ornaments.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wynton Speaks...

Here's a little video (yes, another, they seem popular these days, aren't they?) of Wynton Marsalis talking about the wind instrumentation of a big band jazz band. I'd say I agree with most of what he says, except maybe his last statement...that might be a little questionable.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow Totals

So for everyone who is trying to comprehend why I'm making such a big deal about a little snow, here is why:

Several of my friends this was the first time they had ever seen snow.
Others this was only the 2nd or 3rd time they had ever seen snow.
Many others said that they have never seen as much snow as we got.

Remember, I am in south Louisiana, right by the gulf coast. Directly due west of the Florida panhandle. Just the thought of snow is a huge deal down here. Here are some snow totals for the area and their relative locations to LSU:

Zachary, 5.5" (a little due North of Baton Rouge. I think maybe about a 15-30 minute drive once you get out of the city itself?)
Baton Rouge, 3.0" (where the LSU campus is, where I am)
Mandeville, 2.5" (about an hour or so West of here. Mandeville is on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain)
New Orleans, 1.0" (about and hour West-Southwest of here. It is on the southern shor of Lake Pontchartrain)

So as you can see, this was by Canadian standards, not too big of an event. A few inches, nothing too much to worry about. By Virginia standards, it was about average. The Zachary total being above average, but not extremely rare in the DC area. However, down here, this is unheard of. Snow is rare down this far south. The chances of a white Christmas here are practically zero. The chance of snow at all from the beginning of December until the end of February, again, close to zero. That is why it is such a big deal down here. A snow event like this is extremely rare, and makes a lot of people who never see snow, but want to, extremely happy.

I must say, it was very nice being woken up at 6AM to a door opening and closing and knocking on doors in the room next to mine to see snow piling up in the grass. I wasn't expecting to see it, either, because I know how rare it is down here. Even though it is something that is so normal for me, I still am making such a big deal out of it, just like everyone else. I guess its because its something so rare here and its cool to see it. Death Valley with snow in it? No way! But it did!

Something amusing: in one semester here at LSU you could practically say I've seen everything that one needs to see. The semester started with a hurricane, Gustav. And now it ended with a nice pleasant snow "storm" in the middle of finals (which are going very well so far)!

Snow Pictures

Here are some pictures that I was able to find from friends of the snow here at LSU.

This is the Memorial Tower with the Christmas tree in front of it

This and the next one are of Tiger Stadium. Obviously, snow filled. Its so weird to see it filled with snow!

These are of Mike VI in his habitat in the snow.

And this is a picture from just outside my dorm building. The closest door is the stack I'm in.


Guess what? Its 6:35AM right now, and it is snowing in southern Louisiana. And it is accumulating, as well. Too bad my camera is broken, or I would have pictures to show, but I don't, since my camera is broken. I've never been so happy to be awake at 6AM ever. Seriously. And if you were wondering, right now it is 34F here, and at home in Virginia it is 40F and all they are getting is rain. I definitley think I'd rather be here in the snow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quick Video

Here's a short video, that is kind of funny when you're not expecting it. Make sure you have your speakers and sound on when you watch it. Its short, so don't blink or you'll miss something!

Question. Which Panda was it?


Right now, it has been raining off and on constantly for the past 36 or so hours. It was in the mid 70's yesterday, and today it was in the 40's most of the day. Big change in temperature, huh? Well, just to let ya'll know, we're forecast to have some winter weather of our own in the early hours of the morning into tomorrow early-mid morning.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Award

My Dad awarded me with this award. I have decided that I will award it to my cousin Krista. I enjoy her frequent updates about what is going on in the lives of her and Campbell. Since I rarely get to see them, her blog is a good way of keeping me informed as to what is going on in Campbell's young life. Congratulations, Krista! And now, as has been going on, you are challenged to award someone else with this award.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

35 Years and Counting...

So I was looking for a different video when I came across this one and was like, hey, this is pretty cool! Thought I'd share it with everyone.

One thing to note in the video is the series of pictures where both Crossmen and Spirit are together. These were taken during the age-out ceremonies. Spirit and the Crossmen have a special bond between the two corps dating back to the late 70's (Crossmen were formed in 75, Spirit in 77). It is a bond that exists through to today. I'll write more about this in a later post.

This coming season is the 35th year for the Crossmen, the longest surviving merger of two smaller corps.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2009 Tour Schedule Is Up!!

So I was checking my e-mail a few minutes ago, and I open up the weekly DCI (Drum Corps International) newsletter. The first thing in it is the news about the full tour schedule being up, with a link to the schedule. Obviously, I went right there and began looking to see who was going where, particularly, where I would be going over the summer and what other corps we would see along the way. Here is the schedule:

June 25: Toledo, OH (this has been our first show both years I've already marched, and looks like it will be the same again, this year. The only drawback (maybe?) is that this year, like in '07, it is a week into the competitive season)
June 28: Decatur, IN
June 29: Erie, PA
July 1: Ft Edwards, NY (Mom and Dad saw me here last year, and we did Retreat/Encore here. It is a unique and special show. It is practically in the middle of nowhere, NY, and is at a baseball field instead of a football stadium. Its unique, but fun.)
July 2: Beverly, MA (This is the home show for our Brass Caption Head who is from the Boston area)
July 3: Bristol, RI (I can't see myself anywhere else on July 3/4 than in Bristol. Its a great place to be for the July 4 festivities)
July 4: Bristol, RI parade, and maybe another 1 or 2? Not on the actual competition schedule
July 7: Chesapeake, VA
July 9: Columbia, SC (this show was rained out last year, it started raining in the middle of the corps after us was performing)
July 11: Orlando, FL
July 14: Ocean Springs, MS
July 16: Houston, TX
July 17: Dallas, TX
July 18: San Antonio, TX (Whats different this year, is that there is no longer an Afternoon/Night show. What they are doing is dividing the corps up between Dallas and Houston, and every corps goes to both on the 16/17, half going Houston/Dallas, the other half going Dallas/Houston. They are then going to use the scores from those two shows for all the corps and place them in performance order for a long full 21 corps show. I'm interested to see how this change will affect attendance. They're doing something similar for the Atlanta show, as well)
July 21: Monroe, LA
July 22: Hattiesburg, MS
July 24: Murfreesboro, TN
July 25: Atlanta, GA
July 26: Charlotte, NC
July 27: Salem, VA
July 30: West Chester, VA (this is the corps original home. It is one of our multiple "home" shows. San Antonio and Allentown being the others. Clifton, somewhat.)
July 31: Lawrence, MA
August 1: Allentown, PA
August 2: Clifton, NJ
August 6-8: DCI World Championships, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN

I am very excited for this summer and this schedule. My only complaint is that I don't have any personal home shows. We won't be at the Warrenton show. There isn't a Westminster show (not that I don't mind, I really don't like that field). We aren't going to the Lafayette, LA show, either. Lafayette is about an hour or so west of Baton Rouge, and a number of people from southern LA go to that show. Monroe is in the northern part of the state. Oh well.

Good things are that we see Spirit 8 times. Spirit and Crossmen have a special connection that dates back to 1979. Also, one of my friends who is on the drumline here at LSU and is also a music major, is auditioning at Spirit this weekend. Also, here there are people who march at Glassmen, Bluecoats, Cadets, and Crown, as well as someone who marched at Madison in 06.

This summer is going to be an exciting one, and with the entire brass staff being back from last year, I'm certain it will be a very educational and productive summer. Only about 6 months until move-in!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tiger Band Photos

Since my parents asked for a picture of me in my LSU Tiger Band uniform, here is one as well as some other pictures of the band. For pre-game, I am in the bottom of the S. When we are in the straight lines, I am in the 4th line.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Moment to Breathe!

As the title suggests, I have been incredibly busy as of late. Last weekend wasn't much of a weekend at all. Really, this week has been two weeks, essentially.

Last week (week of the 10-15), I had an Intro exam (music theory/music history combined class) in the middle of the week, so the first part of the week was spent studying...a lot...for that exam. I also had a couple assignments due at the end of the week for my music ed class. Then on the Saturday it was our 4th home football game in a row. It was the Troy game which was rescheduled from September 6, thanks to Gustav. It was also the homecoming game. Because there was not a football game originally scheduled for that day, it was also the first game of the season for the men's basketball team. Normally, a 60 person pep band, the Bengal Brass, would play for this game. However, since there was a football game as well that day, the band directors decided it would be nice if the full 325 member Tiger Band play for the game. So that day began with an EARLY practice at 8AM followed by a meal. Then the basketball game. All 325 of us in the PMAC, a domed basketball arena with a capacity of 10,000. After the basketball game, we ate again, and then went to do our usual football gameday routine, which involved a short concert in the PMAC, followed by the march to the stadium and then the football game. Needless to say, that was a very long day.

Sunday wasn't much better. It would've been nice to get some time to relax, however, I did not get this opportunity. My Sunday began with a dress rehearsal for the Trombone Choir concert. This was followed by a required recital, the Percussion Ensemble concert. That was a very enjoyable concert. After the concert, I had a short period of time where I did get to relax a little and get something to eat. But I didn't have much time, because I also had another dress rehearsal on Sunday, this time for Tiger band and our "Tigerama" concert. Tigerama is a concert that the Tiger Band and the top two concert bands, the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Winds, put on as a fundraiser. The Tiger Band plays all of its show music from its various shows from throughout football season, as well as the numerous school songs that LSU has.

After the long days of Saturday and Sunday, I had to return to my normal class schedule on Monday, which is probably my busiest day of the week this semester. That evening was the Tigerama concert. Then Tuesday, my second busiest day, was the Trombone Choir concert. After that you think I would have gotten a chance to relax the rest of the week, right? After all, my two busiest class days of the week are done, and it only gets easier throughout the week. Nope. I had another round of math homework and quizzes due at the end of the week, as well as ANOTHER Intro test coming up this Monday, just over a week after our last one. Oh, and today was our 5th straight home game in a row. Unfortunatley, it was also our 3rd conference loss in a row. Georgia on Oct 25, Alabama on November 8, and Ole Miss today. At least we came back from a 31-3 deficit to beat Troy 40-31 last week!

Next week, I also have a dress rehearsal for the Symphonic band concert on Monday, the concert being Tuesday. At least next week is Thanksgiving and I'll finally get a real chance to really relax for some time! Too bad the week after that is "dead week" which is the week before finals where basically nothing is allowed to happen. Followed by finals. After finals, I go to San Antonio for the December camp for the Crossmen and the 2008 season banquet, then I get to go home for at most two weeks, depending on our bowl selection.

Now that Ole Miss beat us today, the Cotton bowl is looking very unlikely, as it will probably choose Ole Miss over us. Our best realistic hope now is the Chick Fil'a Peach Bowl against an ACC team, which at this point could be any team, because they are all about even this year as the ACC has no dominant team. At least with us probably not going to the Cotton bowl, that means we won't have to worry about being slaughtered by either Texas, Oklahoma, or Texas Tech, whichever one gets left out of the BCS.

It will be interesting to see which teams go where, especially if Oregon State wins the Pac-10, forcing USC to have an at-large bid to a BCS bowl. If that were to happen, then there is a good chance that Ohio State will be left out of the BCS and play in the Capitol One bowl, most likely against Georgia, who, if the trend continues, should beat Ohio State pretty easily, as Ohio State is now what? 0-8? 0-9? against SEC teams in bowl games? It'll be interesting to see how things play out over the next two weeks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This is from Aunt Barbara's blog just with my answers, instead.

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (well, Disney Wrold)
8. Climbed a mountain (I didn't climb really, rode up on an underground train, really)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (It's really small and kinda far back from where you can stand to see it)
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked (I'm counting this as getting rides from people who offered after I started walking home in HS)
23. Taken a sick day when youʼre not ill (Mom, Dad, I'll admit, I did this once or twice in 6th grade, but not in middle school or high school)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (Didn't want to spend all the time haggling to get the price down only to be cheated by them anyways when I was there. They do that, you know)
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (both)
31. Hit a home run (in kickball)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community (They're everywhere up by Grandma and Grandpa in PA)
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangeloʼs David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (Story that fits here, on our free day at a beach in New Jersey, about 8 or 9 of us were eating at this restaurant and we see on of the alumni who does a bunch for the Crossmen and started talking to her. Then she decided she would pay for all our food, so we all got a free meal during that free day. It was very kind of her.)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Ok, not the VERY top, but I went up onto it partway and it was still a very good view all around)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (Only bought)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (Visited Dachau when I was in Europe 3 summers ago)
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (It would be kind of sad if I hadn't and I've lived 12 miles away for 7 years now)
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades (I drove through them - does that count?)
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (I got a really cool picture of a trombone slide during this! I'll post it in a few days if I remember to.)
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House (Havn't been inside yet, though)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someoneʼs life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person (I honestly still havn't, even after having had two free nights at the Riverwalk. Something I'm gonna have to try to do this summer, I guess)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Friday, November 7, 2008

Growing Excitment for the Alabama Game

Tomorrow is finally the day. The day that the whole LSU football nation has been waiting for since January 3, 2007. The day that Nick Saban, former LSU head coach, announced his return to college football as the head coach of Alabama. Here is a brief overview of how this came to be.

In 1999? (maybe 2000), Nick Saban was in his first year as head coach here at LSU. He took over a program that was struggling, and began turning the program around. Fast. In 2003, he took the team to the BCS National Championship game and won. This gave LSU our first football National Championship since 1958. The championship game was held on January 4, 2004. On January 4, 2005, exactly one year after that game, Nick Saban was announced as the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins in the NFL. While Tiger fans were disappointed at his departure, many understood that he was moving to a different level. When the Dolphins played the Saints during the 2005 season, the game was held in Tiger Stadium due to Hurricane Katrina. Saban was warmly recieved back "home." During the 2006 season, Alabama fired their head coach and began looking for a highly qualified coach who could win championships. Many rumors were circulating all over the place that Nick Saban was at the top of the list. In a mid-December press conference, Saban denied all rumors that he was considering the coaching job at Alabama. He said he was not going to leave the Dolphins. However, on January 3, 2007, the day that LSU played Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, Nick Saban was announced as the new head coach at Alabama. Thats when the whole of the Tiger Nation turned on Saban. He lied about leaving LSU for the Dolphins, and then he lied about returning to Alabama. Alabama is another SEC school, and not only that, they are also an SEC West school, meaning LSU plays them every single year. This game has been highly anticipated since that day. Tomorrow will be his first time back in Tiger Stadium "Death Valley" since becoming head coach at Alabama.

This game and the return of Nick Saban has been one of the, if not THE most talked about sports story this week. Every day there are articles about the game, tv stories about the game, everything. More than anything else in the sports world. Also, College Gameday, the Saturday morning college sports show on ESPN is being broadcast from the LSU Campus. Also, to make it even better, Alabama is ranked #1 in all the polls for the first time (this is the first week they're ranked #1) in a long time. They are 9-0 and looking towards and SEC championship and a possible BCS National Championship. Tiger fans here at LSU would love nothing more than to see all that go by the wayside thanks to a loss to our beloved Fighting Tigers in Death Valley.

I have been looking forward to this game for such a long time. This is the single game that I have been anticipating this season. The atmosphere is going to be incredibly electric. Record attendance is expected as a possibility. There is going to be additional securty around the Alabama team (for obvious reasons, fans hatred of Saban). My only gripe is that thanks to CBS the game is at 2:30. In the afternoon. This is going to be an extremely eciting game. I can't wait until kickoff in 23 hours and 37 minutes. It's going to be fun...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day is FINALLY Here!

Today is the day. Tonight millions of Americans nationwide will be watching election returns coming in all night long, late into the night, waiting to see who our next President will be. After two long years of campaigning, almost a full 24 months, over 700 days, we will FINALLY be able to stop watching campaign ads and the back and forth between all the candidates who have attempted their bid to become the nations next President. Its been a long two years. And it only seems longer when you look at it in months or days. Thats a long election process! Canada is what? 37 days? That's about 5% of what this national election cycle has been! Unfortunately, as things go in America, very soon we're probably gonna start hearing about Senate races in two years. At least we can hopefully go two years without thinking about the next Presidential cycle.

No matter what the result, this years election is seeming to be an accomplishment for the US. The voter turnout in some areas is expected to be as high as 80%. Compare that to the past few Presidential elections where turnout has been less than 50%. Maybe people are starting to realize after how close the last two elections that every vote counts. And that is why it is so important to vote. You never know if your vote is the one that could change your state from being tied to going one way or the other. You'll never know unless you actually vote and make your voice heard.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Death Valley" (or Tiger Stadium)

The football stadium here at LSU is Tiger Stadium, and it is nicknamed "Death Valley." And for good reason. The stadium with a capacity of 92,400 (6h largest in the NCAA, 3rd in the SEC) has a long history and many traditions behind it. The band is a large part of some of these traditions, as the band's pregame show is cheered on by everyone in the stadium and is so well known. Every single person in the stadium will notice and know when someone messes up during pregame, as it is that well known and that obviuos when someone does.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest Death Valley tradition is that of the night game. The words by the announcer "It's Saturday Night in Death Valley...and here come your Figting Tigers of LSU." ring throught the stadium as a deafeaning roar from the stadium erupts at the end of pregame when the band plays the fight song as the football team runs out from the locker room, underneath our H-style goalposts and through the band tunnel onto the field. Death Valley is one of the most intimidating places to play on a Saturday night, and is reffered to by many and is voted in many polls as a dreaded place to play on the road. It is one of the greatest college football venues in the country. The following is taken from the LSU Sports website information on Tiger Stadium:

"Part of the lore of Tiger Stadium is the tradition of playing games at night, an idea that was introduced in 1931 against Spring Hill (a 35-0 LSU victory). In 2006, LSU celebrated its 75th year of playing night football in Tiger Stadium. Since that first night game in 1931, LSU has played the majority of its games at night and the Tigers have fared much better under the lights than during the day. Since 1960, LSU is 206-59-3 (.774) at night in Tiger Stadium compared to a 20-23-3 (.467) record during the day over that span. "

One of the things every member of the band looks forward to each year is an "epic" pregame. This means doing pregame at night for a HUGE game such as games against Auburn, Georgia, or Florida, and sometimes (this year being one of them) Alabama. However this year, the Georgia game was played at 2:30. This was a huge disappointment. This was because CBS chose to broadcast the game at that time. Today, the same was announced for the Alabama game on November 8. You can imagine how upset everyone in the band is. This years freshmen will not experience a true, "real" night in Death Valley this year. And maybe not next year, either. It all depends on CBS now. This is because the SEC (Southeastern Conference) is in a TV deal with CBS, and CBS chooses what games they want to show when. 2:30 is their favorite time slot to show their games, because they opt to show regular tv shows during the night game hours instead of huge football games that will probably draw even larger audiences if shown at night. I wish they would realize this. The day I found out I made Tiger Band after the pre-season week and cut night, I was waiting for the Georgia game, hoping to be at night. It wasn't. And neither is Alabama. The two biggest home games of the season, played in the daytime. Its upsetting. I have never really liked going to football games during the day. I always enjoyed the night games, and being under the stadium lights. Its disappointing.

Here is some more history of Tiger Stadium (which I'm sure you will find very interesting) from the LSU Sports website:

The home of one of football's proudest traditions, Tiger Stadium once served as a dormitory for approximately 1,500 students, and while Broussard Hall, then LSU's athletics dormitory, was being renovated during the fall of 1986, the LSU football players lived in Tiger Stadium.

The original phase of construction was completed in 1924. This first phase included the east and west stands, which seated about 12,000. Seven years later (1931), the sides were extended upward to accommodate an additional 10,000 fans, raising the capacity to 22,000. In 1936, the stadium seating capacity was increased to 46,000, with the addition of 24,000 seats in the north end, making Tiger Stadium into a horseshoe configuration.

The next phase of construction took place in 1953 when the stadium's south end was closed to turn the horseshoe into a bowl, increasing the seating capacity to 67,720.

The original upper deck atop the west stands was completed in 1978, and it added 8,000 seats to the stadium's capacity. Additional seating in two club level sections, which flanked the existing press box, brought the total addition to approximately 10,000 seats and raised the stadium's capacity to approximately 78,000.

Refurbishing began on the stadium in the summer of 1985, when the east and west stands were waterproofed, and 25,000 chair back seats were added to replace the older "bench" type seats. Another phase of improvements was completed in 1987 when the north and south stands were waterproofed and newer bleachers were again installed to replace the older ones.

The playing field was moved 11 feet south in 1986 to provide more room between the back line of the North End Zone and the curvature of the stadium fence, which surrounds the field. It also put the playing area in the exact center of the arena's grassy surface.

Prior to the 1987 season, more seats were installed at the upper portion of the west lower stands in Tiger Stadium. Also, the stadium's seating arrangement was renumbered to make all seats a uniform size. The addition of bleacher seating in 1988 brought the capacity to 80,150, but the elimination of some bleacher seating after the 1994 season dropped the capacity to 80,000.

Now the sixth largest on-campus stadium in college football, Tiger Stadium continues to provide fans with the ultimate college football experience. Eight years ago, 11,600 seats were added with the installation of the east upper deck, bringing the capacity to nearly 92,000. In addition to the new east upper deck, 70 skyboxes, called "Tiger Dens,” were built, giving Tiger fans luxury accommodations. The addition of the 11,600 seats in 2000 marked the first expansion to Tiger Stadium since 1978, when the original west upper deck was completed.

The distinctive environment of Tiger Stadium became even more pronounced in 2005 as the ambitious West Upper Deck project was virtually completed. Construction on the project -- which began immediately after LSU's home finale against Ole Miss in November of 2004 - carried a $60 million price tag and rebuilt over 3,200 special amenity seats as a well as a state-of-the-art press box to Tiger Stadium. The west side renovation, which included the removal and rebuilding of the upper deck to mirror the east side upper deck, was finished during the 2006 season.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Memorial Tower

On campus, by the parade grounds near the Student Union (pretty much the center of campus) is the tall clock tower, the Memorial Tower. This clock tower goes off every 15 minutes using the Westminster chimes sequence. It can be heard somewhat easily from the Pentagon where I live. It is quite convenient to figure out what time it is, having the clock tower go off every 15 minutes. At least, until 10 PM. The bells stop ringing at 10 PM daily. Every day at noon, after the full on-the-hour sequence is played and the 12 chimes of noon ring, the Memorial Tower then plays the LSU Alma Mater in its entirety, all two verses. Just a unique thing about the LSU campus.

Oh, and on a side note, I received my absentee ballot in the mail a couple weeks ago and waited until after the last presidential debate (the "Joe The Plumber" debate) to fill it out. I mailed it in at the end of last week. Now I just have to sit back and wait for everything to be counted.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Big Weekend In College Football

Every weekend is big in college football, and this weekend is no exception. This weekend, during college gameday the winner of the "Battle of the Bands" contest will be announced. You can keep voting up until then, and all your support is much appreciated. Also, this weekend includes some big matchups between some good teams.

Oklahoma and Texas face each other in the "Red River Shootout." Both teams are undefeated and ranked in the top 5 of the AP poll. The winner has the easier path to the Big 12 championship game, and more than likely to the national championship game. However, both teams still have very difficult schedules remaining after this weekend. Also in the Big 12, Oklahoma State and Missouri will play each other. Both are undefeated as well.

In the SEC, LSU (Geaux Tigers!) will play in the swamp at Florida. This is one of our biggest east-west games every year. The LSU-Florida game is always a game to watch. For this game, the band is sending a 100 member pep band. Some of those who are not going in the trombone section are planning to get together to watch the game. The band has not had practice all week because this weekend was originally going to be fall break, meaning we would not have had classes on Thursday and Friday. The band directors had planned on us not having rehearsal this week. When fall break was canceled due to Gustav, they were nice in letting us still have the whole week off of rehearsal. It was definitely nice not having practice all week and not having anything to worry about after lunchtime all week (aside from a required recital Tuesday night and concert band on Monday). Also in the SEC, Vanderbuilt, a surprise 5-0 team, plays Mississippi State, a 1-4 team. Many people are expecting that this is where Vandy could end up tripping up, looking forward towards their game with Georgia next week. I hope they stay undefeated.

In other conferences, USC plays Arizona State. I hope Arizona State beats USC. I always like it when USC loses, as I've never much liked them. I was very happy when Oregon State beat them a couple weeks ago. I was not so happy about 30 minutes later when the fire alarm in my stack went off because someone knocked the cover off the fire alarm. Oh well, those things happen. In the Big 10, Michigan State plays Northwestern, both sleeper teams for the Big 10 title. We'll see what happens.

Although it is not college football, I am happy to say that the Oakton Cougars football team is 6-0 at the moment, having defeated Chantilly at home on Friday. Tomorrow night they play at Centerville, who is a surprising 1-5 so far this season. After last seasons disappointing ending, missing the playoffs (which were expanded last season as well, doubling the number of teams who make playoffs) by losing the last two games of the season, the Oakton Cougars football team took very seriously preparing for this season. The moment the season ended, they began preparing for this season, determined not to let there be a repeat of last year.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Video Is Up!

The video of the band playing The Raiders March is up here:

You can vote every day. The winner will be announced during College Gameday on October 11.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In today's Daily Reveille, the school paper, there was the following article:

Auburn fan, don’t call me ‘nigger’

Johanathan Brooks

Sports Contributor

Print this article

Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008

Updated: Thursday, September 25, 2008

I had my fourth away game experience when I went to Auburn, Ala., to see LSU play this past weekend.

It was a good time, and I list Auburn as one of my favorite college gameday experiences. But one bad apple left a sour taste in my mouth.

Nearly everyone was gracious in welcoming me to the city and hoped I enjoyed myself, but one guy thought he’d be bold enough to actually call me the “n-word.”

I’ll admit, I don’t have high regards for the state that tried to force Rosa Parks to the back of a bus, forced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to march from Selma to Montgomery so people like my grandparents could have their basic civil rights and had a governor who defied the Alabama National Guard by refusing to let blacks enter the state’s largest college.

But with all that negative history, I never expected to be told to “Move out of the way, nigger” while lining up outside the stadium to get in.

The instance reminded me of a quote by my favorite comedian, Dave Chappelle:

“Have you ever had something happen that was so racist that you didn’t even get mad? You was like, ‘God damn that was racist!’”

That’s exactly how it felt. I didn’t even have the capacity to respond because I was caught so off guard.

To top things off, this wasn’t the first instance of racism I’ve had to deal with while trying to enjoy a football game.

I had the unfortunate experience of driving to Oxford, Miss., in 2007.

Aside from Oxford being where fun goes to die, I had to see dozens of confederate flags and listen to men sing “Dixie.”

I respect other schools’ traditions no matter how backward or racist I perceive them to be, so that didn’t bother me.

What bothered me was a grown man asking me when I was let out of prison to come see the game as if — just because I’m black — I’ve committed enough crimes by the age of 20 to warrant serving hard time.

I’ve only had one run-in with the law, and it was for speeding.

Maybe I’ve been sheltered growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta, but I honestly can’t recall an instance when an “adult” picked on me because of my race.

It was only these two idiots coming to see teams — ironically enough — comprised mostly of people who look like me.

My other two away trips saw no instances of bigotry. For that, I’d like to thank the lovely people of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Tulane fans in New Orleans.

In 2008 — a year that has seen a black man leading most national polls to become the next president — there are still people ignorant enough to try to offend me because I don’t have to tan and my hair is a coarser texture. And I think it’s ridiculous.

I don’t really care if people hate me. But if you are going to, at least have a real reason.

Don’t hate me because I’m black.

Hate me because I’m a national champion, and you aren’t.

That article serves well for me to discuss the second big difference that I have noticed between home and LSU (as I knew would probably be a difference in some form). Racism. I figured before I even came here that I would probably hear of/encounter some situations regarding this. LSU is in Louisiana, which is part of the Deep South.

The book I had to read over the summer before my senior year of high school, The Blind Side, is a book about Michael Oher, a football player for Ole Miss from the Memphis area, and his high school football career and college recruitment (sidenote, he was being recruited by Nick Saban who at the time was the coach for LSU. Nick Saban promised him that he would not leave LSU, and then he left LSU for the Miami Dolphins. Now Nick Saban is coaching again in the SEC, now at Alabama. Needless to say, there are a lot of negative and hard feelings towards Saban. It is going to be one interesting game when Alabama comes to play here on November 8, when it will be Nick Saban's first time back in Tiger Stadium since suddenly departing LSU). Anyways, in the book, there are portions that do show how there are still some remaining racist attitudes in the deep south. I was not shocked when I have observed the racist feelings that sometimes surface in some people at times.

I heard a story about how a New Orleans police chief said that any white person driving in a black neighborhood would be pulled over, and vice versa, any black person driving in a white neighborhood would be pulled over, and he said "If you don't like it and complain, we'll stop. An you can get robbed."

Now, the Oakton, the high school I went to, is considered in Fairfax County as being "the rich white school." This is because the school demographics are somewhat like this: 70% white, 20% asian, 10% hispanic, black, others. In the band program, there was an average of about 2-3 black kids in the program all four years I was there. Yes, this shows that even up in Northern Virginia, there are some areas that are still somewhat "segregated" in a sorts, it is not as bad as still is down here in some ways. As well, I never encountered any actual situations regarding racism while I was at Oakton.

Down here at LSU, it is different. And I'm sure its similar all across the deep south, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia. This also goes to show that although the civil rights movement occured almost 50 years ago now, there is still a LONG way to go before racism is eliminated. I honestly don't think it will ever completley happen, because there is always going to be one group that thinks they are elitist over another group in some form or another. Its a part of human nature.

I belive that this could also be a deciding factor in the November election in the swing state of Virginia. A large part of southern Virginia is comprised of blacks. However, a large portion of them do not typically vote in elections. The fact that Barack Obama is running as the Democratic candidate could change this and push Virginia over the edge. It will probably be interesting to see how the voting in this years election compares to that of past years, especially in states like Virginia and those in the deep south. There is a new factor that has not been in past presidential elections. We'll see how things go.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Vote for LSU

Last Wednesday evening, the Tiger Band had a recording session with ESPN. We are a part of a competition with 6 other bands as a part of the release of the new Indiana Jones movie. The winning band will recieve $25,000. If LSU wins, the money will go to our new band hall. You can go to the following website to vote every day until the winner is announced on College Gameday on October 11 (which there is a good chance the featured game will be LSU-Florida):

So go to that website and please vote for the LSU band! The videos of all the bands will be up on September 29.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fairfax County #2?

I was just checking my e-mail and looking at some of the news stories that were showing on Netscape, and one of the stories was a listing of the top 10 richest counties in the country. Five of those 10 counties are in the Washington DC metro area. Prince William County ranked #9, Montgomery #7, Howard #3, Fairfax County, where we live, #2, and Loudoun ranked as the richest county nation wide. Seeing that really hit home how I live in such a well-off community.

For my MUED 1700 class, we are being assigned a reading partner at a local elementary school. We are being assigned a child who is behind where they are supposed to be in reading standards according to a test that they will be taking this week (they would have taken the test last week, but the East Baton Rouge schools had two full weeks off due to Gustav). It will then be my job to help this child improve their reading skills over the course of weekly meetings for about 8 or 9 weeks. When the person in charge of registering us for the program came and talked to our class, she was talking about how much of an impact we will be making in some childs life and how these children really need the help. She cited some statistics, and the one that is most prevalent in my mind right now is that the fact that about 40% of adults in East Baton Rouge parish are illiterate, meaning they have lower than a 3rd grade reading level. I'll say taht again, a third grade reading level. To most of us that seems really easy, but for such a large area, for 40% of adults to not be able to read at that level is truly staggering. That means that a large number of children also do not have parents who are able to help them with reading. For a large number of households, they either have no books or very few, usually being a phone book, maybe a Bible, and maybe a magazine. At my house, everywhere you look you will see books. I would say it would be safe to say that about 1/3-1/2 of the wall space at our house in Fairfax is covered with bookshelves and books or have books piled on the floor in front of it.

Seeing where Fairfax County was earlier just helped me realize even more than I already did, how much of a completly different community I am down here at LSU than I was up in Fairfax. I am truly thankful that I have such a loving and caring family that is there for me and how I have been able to grow up in such great environments for education. It is truly amazing how much a large difference ther is just in our nation alone, I can only imagine what it is like in some other countires in Africa, South and Central America, and the Carribean. There are other big differences between Fairfax and Baton Rouge that I will be writing about in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Pentagon

My dorm, Jackson Hall, is in the "Pentagon" on the LSU campus. The Pentagon consists of four dorms, Jackson, Taylor, Beauregard, and Lejune. At the bottom of the Pentagon is a smaller building with a small mini-mart in it and a place to do laundry. Each dorm in the Pentagon is not like your typical dorm, where everyone is on "floors" with an RA for every floor, or for sections of floors for larger buildings. Instead, the Pentagon dorms are divided into 5 "stacks." A "stack" is a stairwell 3 floors high, with 4 rooms and a bathroom on each floor. On the first floor, one room is a storage/maintanence room, and on the second floor, one of the rooms is a kitchen, where floor (or in this case, "stack") meetings are held. There is one RA for each stack. It is a different living environment from your typical dorm with a long hallway with 20-40 people in the hallway. There are 27 people in each stack, plus the one RA.

The Pentagon also provides a great social atmosphere. In the center of all the buildings (obviously, in a Pentagon shape) is a courtyard with a number of picnic tables and barbeque grills. At just about any point in time, rain or shine, you will probably be able to find people outside in the courtyard at these picnic table. The courtyard provides a great place to be able to meet people outside just your stack, meeting people from the other buildings. After classes, when the sun is going down and it is getting cooler, all the tables get filled with groups of people gathering together. Even on Monday in the rain, there was still a group at one of the picnic tables. People come out no matter what the weather is. All the other dorms on campus don't have anything close to resembling the Pentagon courtyard. Broussard, right next to the Pentagon has a small courtyard outside the TV/Pool room, but it isn't nearly as large. It also doesn't have as many people in it at any given point in time. People can almost always be found in the courtyard late into the night, usually until at least 1AM, sometimes later. When we didn't have classes, some people were out until 4AM or later. I have classes starting at 8:30 and 7:30, so I obviously wouldn't be able to do that and be able to function well the next day. After a couple days of staying up past 1AM, I would probably end up falling asleep in my 7:30 math class.

Even though the dorm rooms themselves in the Pentagon dorms are probably the worst on campus, being small and crowded (3 to a room for most people, except for some of the girls in some stacks), the social atmosphere in the Pentagon is much more enjoyable than that for other dorms on campus.