The Weekly Blab
Volume 6, Issue 22—February 29, 2012
Waiting for Spring Break…
Things always get crazy-busy just before spring break, because we all try to squeeze things in. This year is no exception, and my days are packed with all sorts of meetings, events, and so on. It’s almost impossible to get anything done. I’m hoping that spring break will bring some relief, and perhaps a few days off.
Today is February 29, an extra day in the calendar. I always thought we should get February 29 off as a holiday—it only comes every four years, and it seems unfair to stick in an extra workday in “the cruelest month”—but no one else has picked up on this eminently sensible idea.
For those who are interested, there are several extra days each year in the Jewish calendar (which is Lunar, and therefore consists of 12 shorter months, each 29 or 30 days in length). This leaves several extra days each year, and to catch them up, a “leap month” of 30 days is added 7 times every 19 years between the months of Shevat and Adar. The leap month is called Adar I (and has 30 days), and the original Adar is then called Adar II (and has 29 days). Confused yet? The shorter months and the extra leap month are why the Jewish holidays seem to “float” relative to the standard calendar.
The Islamic calendar is also Lunar, but there are several variations of it depending on which country you are looking at. Thus, the months can start on different days in different countries. Unlike the Jewish calendar, no extra month is inserted to catch up the average of 11 extra days. As a result, the Islamic year drifts relative to the seasons, repeating its pattern every 33 years (since 33 x 11 about equals 365).
So far as I am aware, there are no extra calendar holidays with either the Jewish or Islamic calendars either. Life is unfair all over.
The previous week was chock-full of interesting events. Wednesday was the Engineering Week Luncheon, where all of our engineering and engineering technology student competition teams were recognized, and there are a lot of them! W.L. Stanton Stafford (Newcomb-Boyd Consulting Engineering Group) was the keynote speaker, on the topic of “Sustainable Architecture, Engineering and Construction-Opportunities for the Next Generation”.
A second Engineering Week event, the Engineering Alliance of Georgia Dinner, was held on Saturday night at the Georgia ‘Tech Hotel. I had the pleasure of seeing (for the second time in a row) SPSU students winning the Engineering Technology Student of the Year Award (Christopher Cutter, MET) and the Engineering Student of the Year Award (Garrett Bailey, Mechatronics Engineering). Chris was sitting at my table, as were his mother, two brothers, and a sister, all as proud as they could be. When Chris’s name was announced, the announcer mangled SPSU’s name (calling us Georgia Polytechnic State University), and didn’t say it at all when Garrett Bailey’s name was announced. Also receiving a well-deserved award for her many years of exceptional service to Future Cities was our own Dawn Ramsey, who was quite surprised by the honor. She received a huge bouquet of long-stem roses.
Also on Wednesday was a really interesting Black History Month event—a talk by Kevin Powell (an author and media critic) about “What Happened to the Civil Rights Movement?” Kevin was a real interesting guy, pointing out that the civil rights movement’s leadership really hasn’t “passed the baton” on to the younger generation, and as a result, movement has become irrelevant to many. He called on students to redefine the civil rights movement into their own language and milieu, and reminded them that civil rights apply to everyone, including women, Latinos, and GLBTQ. About 70 students were present, many of whom stayed on for quite a while after the talk to ask questions. A moment of frightening realism also happened before his talk—Kevin got a threatening message earlier that day on Twitter, saying that if he spoke there would be trouble. The SPSU police and F.B.I. were called in, and after a careful search of the premises, nothing was found. The SPSU police stayed at each entrance, just in case, and the talk went off without a hitch. The event was sponsored by several student organizations, and coordinated by Arthur Vaughn (SPSU’s Controller). Kevin also turned out to be a fellow comic book and jazz fan, so we’ll definitely stay in touch.
Also on Saturday, SPSU hosted Science Olympiad. I got to say a few words to the audience, and to help give out the awards. The winners were obviously excited, and Lance Crimm (Engineering), Stephanie McCartney (BCP), and Susan VandeVen (IT) did a fine job coordinating the event. Thanks to all the SPSU faculty, staff, and students who volunteered for this important event.
On Sunday, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Ambassador Cheick Sidi Diarra, who is the Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, Special Advisor on Africa and High Representative for Least-developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. Now that’s a title! Other SPSU folks at the dinner were Rich Bennett (International Programs), Austin Asgill (ECET), Jeff Ray (ETM), Jeff Orr (ATTIC), Greg Quinet (Business), and Folly Teko-Ahatefou (president of SPSU’s African Student Organization). Ambassador Diarra’s visit was facilitated by Chief Tunde Adetunji, who is the CEO of the Africa Heritage Foundation. The AHF and SPSU are working on a number of projects of mutual interest in the areas of building relationships with African universities, and offering African cultural events. We all had an interesting conversation about how SPSU and the AHF can work with the UN to help educational and workforce development in Africa. There are many opportunities, and I’ll keep you informed as they develop.
Ambassador Diarra was also on campus for several hours Monday afternoon and evening, participating in a meeting with the Deans and Senior Staff, a visit to the “Celebrate Africa” exhibit (held in the Architecture gallery), a tree planting, a reception, and finally a talk on “Economic Opportunities in Africa”. Once again, many of the students stayed around after the talk concluded to ask additional questions and to have their pictures taken with the Ambassador. My thanks to our faculty who attended the various events and who encouraged their students to attend the talk—we had a respectable audience of about 150.
Shout Out To SPSU’s Speech Team
This past Saturday was also a good day for members of the Southern Polytechnic State University Speech Team, who earned several statewide honors for their performances in public speaking and dramatic reading at the Georgia Intercollegiate Forensic Association’s annual State Championship Tournament. The team earned two 1st place honors: Toby Pope (senior TCOM major) won first place in Program Oral Interpretation, and the team's first-ever Readers' Theater entry, The Job, also earned first place. Misty York (ETCMA, the team’s coordinator) tells me that this is SPSU’s best showing ever at the state tournament. SPSU placed 3rd overall, only two points behind 2nd place Gainesville State College. Berry College won the team championship for the 6th consecutive year. Other SPSU winners included a 3rd place in Oral Interpretation for Ayana Reyes Howell (sophomore, Architecture), 3rd place in Poetry Interpretation and another 3rd place in Extemporaneous Speaking for Tyler Maran (sophomore, Mechanical Engineering), 2nd place in Informative Speaking for Anthony Stallworth (junior, IET), and 3rd place in After Dinner Speaking for Kyle Wood (freshman, Mechatronics Engineering). Congratulations to all, and a special thanks to Misty for her fine leadership.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s contest was all about comic strips, and the winner was Ronnie Richardson, who not only got all five right but caught me in an error! Here are the correct answers (as well as a corrected question)!
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
In honor of leap year, the answers to this week’s questions all have to do with leaping. First with the most takes the prize—no looking up the answers now!