Posts Tagged caltech

Jeremy Tollefson

When I first arrived at Caltech, I felt a little out of my element. I had met a few people when I came down to visit for the “prefrosh” weekend (determining which school to attend as a high school senior), but I didn’t know anyone at the first get-together for freshmen on campus after I found my room. I got some food at the BBQ, and looked for a place to sit. Jeremy, who had been standing in line with me, asked me if I wanted to sit down with him and a couple people he had met / known previously. Thus began our friendship, because it takes a great person to be open and inviting enough to ask a stranger to sit and share a meal (especially on a high-anxiety first day of college!)

Jeremy and I ended up rooming together our freshmen and (most of) sophomore years. We had some wacky adventures (getting kidnapped to go to Las Vegas for a weekend, prank wars with our friends in a different dorm, Starcraft battles and academic craziness), and we formed a strong strong bond. Like, ionic or something. He watched the movie Can’t Hardly Wait like 20 times in our dorm room while we did homework; I would play Ocarina of Time to an audience of him and sometimes Tim and Molly. Life was good. Tragically, Jeremy left and we didn’t see each other for a while, but since we have *true friendship powers* I still see him at PAX and on random occasions like a trip to Bend, OR!

I think the lesson I learned best from Jeremy was that I could be outgoing in a less than “all out” way and really develop socially. I used to be very introverted, and only with huge effort was I able to get over it for individual social situations. He’s awesome, and I’m more awesome for knowing him!

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Ditch Day 1999

I knew the night before that it was upon us.  I was up late playing Starcraft (1) with Jeremy, and people sure were up late moving heavy objects around outside.  But it was still exciting to be roused by the raucous call of “Wake up, frosh [freshmen]!  It’s Ditch Day!”  And so my first Caltech Ditch Day experience began, as I moved groggily out into the Blacker courtyard.

Ditch Day at Caltech is like a combination puzzle/scavenger hunt, where all of the non-Seniors — including much of the teaching and school staff! — take part in elaborate themed missions traditionally called “stacks” (the term is rooted in a bit too much lore for this blog).  Said stacks usually conclude with “breaking in” to the absent Senior’s room and collecting a group reward for a day well done.  One of my Senior mentors, Dave Tytell, had teamed up with fellow redhead Walt, and they created a thrilling adventure in their Redheaded Conspiracy stack.

There were a few of awesome parts to this stack – (a) it was all freshmen, so we had a great time figuring stuff out as we went, (b) it was a bunch of really fun pieces with a minimum of overarching theme, which was a lesson I wish I had applied better to my own Senior stack, and (c) it took us to the tops of buildings and the depths of sub-sub-sub-basements, which definitely was a comfort zone shift.

My favorite moment from the Redhead Conspiracy stack:  we dropped a bucket of multiple colors of bouncy balls from the top of the tallest building on campus (Millikin Library) with a news crew watching.   We were telling each other as we did it “you know, they are going to ask us to count these next…” and sure enough, there was a note at the bottom of the bucket.  But we were wrong – it was far worse than we expected!  They asked us to figure out the relative fractions of colors in the bucket!  Oof.  It was a fun hour or so of combing the courtyard below for bouncy balls, though – we even recruited passersby.

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