Greek life advantages

Some of the best advice that I can give you during your time at Rensselaer is to “get involved.” You won’t regret it. Whether you’re a freshman or a graduate student, it’s never too late. RPI is fantastic at giving you one of the best opportunities in the country for a great education, but that’s only part of the equation.

If you want to be well-rounded and feel as though you truly had a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime college experience, gained beneficial life skills, and made lifelong friends, you need to do more than just go to class, to the library, or study in your room. There are far more opportunities to expand your horizons while attending Rensselaer than you might think.

Whether you play a sport on the college or intramural level, join a fraternity or sorority, get involved in a campus office, join one or more of the numerous available clubs and organizations (including such groups as the RPI Players, WRPI, The Poly, Red & White, etc.), and/or volunteer for a local community organization, you’ll be happy you did.

One area where I was personally very involved during my time at RPI was with my fraternity—the Rensselaer Society of Engineers. That participation in Greek life helped shape who I am today, by giving me social and leadership skills that I likely would not have gained had I not been involved. The lifelong friendships and positive feelings from almost forty years ago cause me to remain involved in campus life to this day, as President of the RSE alumni board, a member of the Rensselaer Alumni Association Board of Trustees, and chairman of the Reunion Committee for my class. Even after all these years, I continue many of the friendships from my time at Rensselaer.

Please don’t miss this unique opportunity. You will develop some life skills and lasting friendships, and this involvement could even help you foster some key contacts that could assist you in your chosen career later in life. Some of these affiliations might enhance your résumé to make you the preferred candidate for a position when you and another applicant have very similar skills to offer. Most companies are looking to hire employees who are well-rounded and demonstrate some life skills, in addition to what they learned from books.

It is worthwhile to stay in touch with the school after you graduate. Sure, you may be asked to donate to the Annual Fund from time to time (and that ultimate choice regarding possible participation is yours alone), but this is only part of the overall picture. After you leave, the continued contact with RPI can be very beneficial. For example, the RAA started an Endowment Fund a few years ago, and some of the money from that effort has been used to create the new Rensselaer Career Services office to help both new and older alums find jobs via RPI connections.

Please take advantage of every opportunity afforded you, no matter how small it might seem at the time. You might be surprised by what “getting involved” can lead to for you.

Tom Keating ’75 is a member of the Rensselaer Alumni Association Board of Trustees, and an advisor to the RSE fraternity. You may reach Tom at

Founded in 1869, The RAA is one of the oldest alumni associations in the country, and consists of over 100,000 alumni worldwide, represented by an alumni board of trustees who work to empower and engage current and future alumni in meaningful and strategic partnerships with Rensselaer. If you have questions about the Rensselaer Alumni Association and its programs and services, contact the Alumni Office at 276-6205, or

Alum101 is a program that helps you transition from student life to post-graduation life. Join us for Alum101 events and programs throughout the school year.

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Full issue: September 23, 2015

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Collegiate Store back in business


On Monday September 21, the RPI Collegiate Store had its reopening. For the past several months, it has been temporarily housed in the Games Room and Mother’s while its original location underwent renovations.

According to store manager Ken Palmer, “It’s just a relief that the temporary space is over; we’re home where we belong and we can really get settled and focus on doing the job of the Collegiate Store. Before, it was tough because we were in three different locations. Everyone here at the store is really excited to get moving.” He understands that it was quite a shock for everyone coming back to find a chaotic construction zone. It may have been upsetting for a lot of people because of the inconvenience of having the bookstore scattered about the Games Room and Mother’s being temporarily set aside, but he hopes that once they see the new space, they will understand what the wait was for. The store is still going through growing pains and will take some adjustment, but Palmer is confident that, in a few weeks when it’s full of merchandise and fully operational, everyone will be able to really take it in and think “oh, well this is really cool!”

He said that the first day of reopening went very well; there have been many ooh’s and aah’s, and people have been surprised in a good way. He explained that “everyone who’s stopped by has been blown away by what the new store looks like. Operationally, we’re ready to go—just making the place look nice. What people react to most is that it’s brighter in here. It looks bigger than it did before, as if there’s more open space; which is funny because we can actually fit more stuff in here than we could before the remodel.”

When we asked him if anything about the store had changed besides its appearance, he said that everything has changed. According to Palmer, “there’s very little that even resembles what the old space looks like, especially when you consider the computer store, which used to be in the Voorhees Computing Center, is now in the space not only is the store better from the remodel, but we’ve built it from the ground up and essentially added a second store into the space. So we’re just really taking advantage of the space to make it that much better.” Many people believe that the lights unquestionably brighten the area, making it seem larger and even more modern. The assortment of products also feels a lot more impressive now that it’s centralized. Another feature is that there is even a changing room for those who may wish to purchase school apparel.

Palmer said he hopes that everyone really likes the computer store, with its computer and electronics demo tables, being up front. It is currently being arranged, but should be fully stocked in the next week or two. He suggests that everyone drop by to take a look at the space, and he also hopes that the entire campus enjoys the changes Follett has made to the store. In the long run, Palmer hopes for more integration with the school system in order to provide a more seamless experience for all. He does not know what exactly will be implemented in the future, but one thing is certain—he truly believes the new RPI Collegiate Store has much potential.

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Staff Editorial: Sports teams are killing it

The Poly wants to give a shout out to all of RPI’s sports teams for having awesome starts to their seasons so far. In particular, we feel that football, field hockey, and soccer have been doing well. In fact, field hockey broke an Institute record by scoring 14 points in their last game against Keuka College. Football has won their first two home games this season by over 30 points and even managed to shut out Norwich entirely. Men’s soccer has had a perfect season so far. The rest of RPI’s sports are doing equally as well and The Poly encourages everyone on campus to keep up with and follow RPI’s athletics successes.

Athletics has a positive impact on all members of the RPI community. Supporting the Engineers is a cause that everyone can get behind and it can really unite all different subsets of campus culture. Supporting teams can be the perfect way to alleviate the many sources of stress that come with being a successful student. When there’s snow on the ground in a couple of short months and winter fully descends on Troy, cheering on our hockey team is the way that many of us at The Poly keep ourselves going.

What are you waiting for? Get out and see any of sports in action today!

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New flying game thunders into market

Imagine this: take a version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, with only aircrafts from before 1950. Next, add in multiplayer, sprinkle in some Russian magic, and what’s been created is War Thunder. I loved this game from the very start—I lost an entire Friday night the first time I played it.

War Thunder has iconic aircraft and ground vehicles from the five major countries that participated in World War II. This means that fans of the German Bf 109 can test their skills against British Spitfires and Japanese Zeros; American Shermans and Soviet KV-2s can take on German Panzers.

The game uses a tiered system for unlocks. For every country, the player starts off with tier-one vehicles, meaning biplanes and early tanks. As the player does well in battles, research points and Silver Lions are earned. Research points go to upgrades for the vehicles and progress towards new ones, and Silver Lions are used to repair damaged vehicles and purchase shiny new ones after researching them.

Gaijin Entertainment puts an extraordinary amount of effort into researching the new aircraft and tanks they put into the game. This is something I love about the game, because it offers possibilities for everyone; for example, arcade is perfect for the casual player. It’s easy to hop into a game; the controls are basically point and shoot, and everything is an amazing, chaotic mess. The planes have a higher lift output, making them easier to fly, and all targets have lead markers so it’s easier to land shots on opposing aircraft. I’ve had some good fun with realistic battles, flying in formation with my roommates, and taking on the enemy. It’s a bit more challenging in that there is no lead marker, and head-on ramming is not considered a “valid strategy.” Height advantage and the element of surprise are important here. Finally, there are simulated battles .I haven’t taken the dive into them, but from what I’ve heard simulated battles require the player to fly in the cockpit and have a grasp of how to actually pilot an aircraft.

If I could change one aspect of this game, it would undoubtedly be the tedious grind. It’s not that noticeable in the first two tiers, but once you hit tier three it feels like walking up the down escalator. Let me put this into perspective: just yesterday I had a great game flying as the Americans. I took down seven aircraft, and got three or four assists. But at the end of the battle I got a staggering 1,600 research points. Sound like a lot? The P-51 Mustang that I’m currently researching costs 61,000 research points. Assuming I play as well as I did every game (hint: I get my wings clipped off a great amount of the time) and games take me an average of fifteen minutes, I could research the Mustang in ten hours of gameplay. For a casual player who wants to play with the high-tier turboprops and jets, the goal is simply out of reach.

I could probably write an entire article analyzing the alleged Russian bias. What I will say is that due to the nature of the game, the Soviet aircraft have a natural advantage. Soviet aircraft fly best at low to mid altitude dogfights, which is what arcade tends to devolve into. By contrast, American planes are designed to capitalize on “boom and zoom,” where altitude is quickly converted into speed and then back into altitude, something War Thunder doesn’t lend itself to over the course of a fifteen minute game. Soviet machinery during WWII was also of a notably lower quality than other nations, despite good designs. Since poor build quality can’t be coded into a game like War Thunder, it makes the aircraft seem better than their counterparts.

Complaints aside, I think War Thunder is a fantastic game. The best part is that it’s free, so the cost of giving it a try is zero. Anyone who is slightly interested in a WWII flying game should take a look, because this game could be for you.

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Rensselaer crushes MIT in 42-7 victory

RPI FOOTBALL SCORED 42 unanswered points against MIT to improve their record to 2-1 for the season.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the game last Saturday against Rensselaer to take an early 7-0 lead. But that was the last time the visiting team would set foot in the RPI end zone, as the Engineers’ defense quickly ground the opposing offense to a halt and held them in check the rest of the way. The Rensselaer offense played well, scoring touchdowns on each of its first three drives en route to a six touchdown game. RPI won by a final count of 42-7 in the first ever meeting of the two teams and improved its record to 2-1.

MIT quarterback Danny Callahan completed all four of his passes for 71 yards on the first drive of the afternoon, finishing off with a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Seve Esparrago. RPI senior quarterback Jeff Avery responded by hitting an open junior wide receiver Joey Giacone in stride for a pickup of 47 yards on his first throw of the game. Four plays later he found senior wideout Logan Gaddar open in the corner of the MIT end zone for a 14-yard score.

Sophomore running back Mike Tivinis gashed the visiting Engineers’ front seven, piling up 79 yards on 22 touches for the afternoon, and scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, to give RPI a 21-7 edge after fifteen minutes of action.

The RPI defense played stout in the remaining 55 minutes of the game, surrendering just 33 rushing yards on 27 MIT carries. Senior linebacker Mark Grimes had seven combined tackles while senior defensive backs Teague Florio and Philip Lanieri III each had five. Junior lineman Malik Joseph recorded three tackles including the lone sack of the game for the RPI defense. In addition, the secondary yielded just 14 completions on 38 passing attempts for 102 yards to opposing quarterbacks. Freshman defensive back DJ Stefonsky and sophomore defensive back Brandt Beck each recorded interceptions. Beck’s interception setup RPI at the MIT eight-yard line with 2:15 remaining in the second quarter and lead to a five-yard receiving score for senior running back Matt Lane that put the home team ahead 28-7 heading into halftime.

Rensselaer scored two more touchdowns, one in each quarter, to round out the scoring. In the third quarter, Avery found sophomore running back Johnny Ramsdell cutting across the middle for a 23-yard touchdown.

In the fourth, with the game all but out of reach, RPI took advantage of a poor punt by MIT to score its sixth and final touchdown. Avery completed a 12-yard pass on fourth and twelve to give RPI a first down inside the visitors’ 20. Freshman running back Hunter Costlow ended the drive on the next play with a powerful 19-yard burst down the left side, driving past a would-be tackler into the end zone for the score.

Avery finished with 252 yards and three touchdowns passing and added 24 yards rushing. In addition to Tivinis, sophomore running back Ethan Wells carried the ball nine times for 41 yards and Ramsdell took two totes for 33 yards. At receiver, Gaddar led the way with five grabs for 64 yards and a score, while Giacone snagged one ball for 47 yards and Lane caught three more for 34 and a touchdown.

Next up for 2-1 Rensselaer is the Transit Trophy game against undefeated rival Worcester Polytechnic Institute next Saturday in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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UAR Task Force chair appointed; Arch discussed

SENATOR ANDREW SUDANO ’17 SPEAKS about the duties of the joint Senate and E-Board Union Activity Fee Task Force

This meeting started off with reports from the committees of the Senate. Joe Venusto ‘17 from the Facilities & Services Committee discussed looking into increased seating in the Darrin Communications Center on the third floor, and also into the placement of water bottle fillers around campus. The Hospitality Services and Advisory Committee discussed walk-throughs of the dining facilities on campus in order to make meal plan recommendations for the next academic year by the end of October. Victoria Tong ’16, chair of the Rules and Elections Committee told the Senate that information sessions for freshmen election candidates have begun, along with the official start of campaigns as of September 22. All interested candidates must attend one of the sessions before they begin to campaign, and all interested freshmen are encouraged to attend a session sooner rather than later. Paul Illori ’17 told the Senate that the Student Life Committee is in the initial stages of deciding which of their projects are actually feasible to cover for the upcoming academic year.

Senator James Whelan ’17 from the Interfraternity Council, discussed the end of rush and the signing of bids on Friday, September 25 on the third floor of the Rensselaer Union. Senator Victoria Phan ’18, representing the Panhellenic Association, informed the Senate that sorority formal recruitment ended on Sunday. Phan also told the Senate about an upcoming carnival event hosted by Delta Kappa Epsilon and Alpha Omega Epsilon on October 17.

Grand Marshal Marcus Flowers ’16 then brought a motion before the Senate to appoint Andrew Sudano ’17 as chairman of the joint Union Activity Fee Task Force with the Executive Board. Ilori told the Senate that this motion was a formality, as they had forgotten to appoint Sudano as the chairman during the meeting last week. Thomas Alappat ’17 agreed by pointing out that Sudano was the founder of this committee, and he believed it would be unwise to appoint someone else to the chair of the new UAR Task Force. Graduate senator Jen Church brought up concerns that the Senate might not have the authority under the current set of bylaws to appoint the chair of this new task force. Flowers pointed out that the Senate did have the authority to do so, as the UAR Task Force is an ad-hoc committee that will be dissolved once the UAR is released early next year. Furthermore, Flowers told the Senate that he trusts the recommendation of President of the Union Nick Dvorak ’16 in his appointment of Sudano as chairman of the UAR Task Force. The motion appointing Sudano passed 7-2-5.

The meeting ended with more discussion of the Summer Arch program. Administration has begun to provide Flowers with information about the meeting times of their committees and that there will be student representation on all of them. At the same time, Flowers expressed concern that each committee wanted to meet with him one-on-one before telling him the meeting times. With news of the Summer Arch program being available for several weeks now, Flowers explained that the initial rage has died down, and reminded students that changes are actually going to go into effect in a few years. Flowers informed the Senate that the program is not fully planned by the Institute, and that now is the time for students to get involved, both inside and outside of the Senate. According to Flowers, the Senate cannot take on these changes by itself, and it should consult as many different students as possible in order to get the best idea of what the students of RPI want the Summer Arch program to be.

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Lovin’ the first few weeks

RPI contains a diversity of people and places

The academic year at RPI is in full swing. Professors are giving their first exams, and many students have set their routines for the semester. Most clubs have already hit the ground running and are active around campus doing a million different things. There are a lot of things for students to do outside of classwork and just hanging out with friends. As a freshman, it can almost be overwhelming to keep track of everything that is going on around campus. In fact, I daresay it is impossible for one person to really know everything that is going on. As soon as I think that I know my way around campus, I find out about something I literally had no idea even existed. It’s been a personal goal of mine in these first few weeks to get out and experience as much of campus as possible while still maintaining some personal sanity. In a sense, my first few weeks here have been one giant exploration in what RPI can offer.

That said, I’ve found it really easy to overcommit and lose sight of having enough time for academic commitments, even though we are all paying more than $40,000 a year in just academic tuition. Everybody I have met is involved in at least three different things along with taking at least 16 (and for most upperclassmen, closer to 20) credits of coursework. It’s also worth noting that RPI has a reputation for “grade deflation” and it is something I have already seen firsthand in my short time here. In the mix of everyone’s commitments, sleep is often sacrificed, especially on Tuesday nights where The Poly staff is working in the office past midnight to bring you all this wonderful paper. Of course, I would never sacrifice my experiences for a need as basic as sleep. College students live a different lifestyle than most other people, and it is one that I am still adjusting to.

I also love the diversity I see around campus and the fact that RPI is, at least in my opinion, one large multi-cultural melting pot. I have made friends from places all around the country which is an opportunity I would not have if I were not attending RPI. In today’s society, international borders are becoming less and less relevant as globalization continues unfettered. Being able to work with all sorts of different people is an opportunity that I believe will provide a great payoff in my future. College is practice for the real world, so why not make the most of it?

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New Narcos gets high marks

WAGNER MOURA PORTRAYS Pablo Escobar in the new documentary series Narcos on Netflix. The first season of the show was addictive, despite various areas of improvement for the show.

Anyone who follows my reviews will know that I really like Netflix’s original programming. Daredevil, House of Cards, and Bojack Horseman are some of my favorite shows of this year, and I’ve found it hard to find a genre that Netflix doesn’t have a finger in. Then, out of nowhere, Narcos is released and has forced me to re-evaluate these thoughts. What Narcos delivers is a fresh and immersive historical drama focusing on one of the most ruthless and powerful underworld criminals in modern history, Pablo Escobar.

For those with no clue who this guy is, he’s a smuggler who made a vast amount of wealth from cocaine production and sale in America. This man’s affluence, and subsequent influence, made him able to even become a congressman for Colombia, with his goal being to become president. The story also focuses on two Drug Enforcement Administration agents, Steve Murphy and Javier Peña, whose goal is to take down this empire with the assistance of the few incorruptible Colombian government officials brave enough to face down Escobar. What pitches this show against some more of the more popular historical dramas like Downton Abbey is the brutality and instability of the setting in that time period. In the ’70s to early ’80s, the U.S. was in the midst of the Cold War, deposing South American leaders for their communist leanings in favor of fascist dictators, and this comes into play many times in the series. The show is a geopolitical commentary that uses the story of a drug kingpin that’s able to flourish in this system as a microcosm of the situation in that region.

Besides the great story, there are some fantastic actors. Wagner Moura plays Escobar incredibly well, and I was impressed with how well he developed the role to be his own. I don’t know if putting a Brazilian in the role as Escobar would have been my first choice, but he did a fantastic job. And just to be clear to readers, it’s not because I believe he can’t play the role as a Brazilian, but because the actors speak in Spanish almost 80% of the time to create a sense of immersion. Only the DEA, some of the Colombians, and the narrator speak English. Throughout the show, Moura never spoke a line in English as Escobar, and being Brazilian, I assumed his Spanish would have some Portuguese inflection, but I never got that impression. For the white American DEA agent, Steve Murphy, Boyd Holbrook is the representation of the American ideal in the region, playing by the rules unless they get in his way. On the other hand, his partner Javier Peña doesn’t always shoot straight, but has a stricter sense of morality when it comes to dealing fairly with the Colombians. What I thought was interesting was how personal the story must have been for Peña’s actor, Pedro Pascal, best known as the Viper in Game of Thrones. He actually left his home country of Chile at a young age due to the government of U.S. supported military dictator Augusto Pinochet. In addition, his ability to portray a character that walks the line between the Colombians and Americans is pretty incredible.

I think immersion is the greatest quality of this show; however, it comes with some consequences. I think some of the scenes depicting Escobar’s excessive brutality are exaggerated to the point of being unrealistic. Specifically, one of the sex scenes is almost cartoonish, and some of the gore becomes somewhat desensitizing at points when I should be caring the most. But this isn’t my main complaint. My main point of criticism is that they set up a second season. When I went into the show, knowing the story of Pablo Escobar, I was expecting the whole thing to be a one-off series, and when it ended without the drama resolved, I felt cheated. Porqué Netflix, porqué? But all things considered, I will still happily watch the next season when it comes out, and you should watch the first season to be prepared for it too.

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Men’s soccer 15th in nation

Men’s soccer maintained its spotless record with two home wins against in-state opponents Oneonta and Potsdam last week.

In a Wednesday night showdown against Oneonta’s Red Dragons, the RPI defense held strong against a nine-shot siege in the opening 26 minutes. Meanwhile, the Rensselaer offense failed to attempt a single shot in the first half.

The momentum of the game changed early in the second half on one possession. In the 58th minute, senior midfielder Matt Carberry sent the ball flying into the Oneonta zone. Senior forward Nathaniel Gunderson located the ball before the defender could and kicked it past keeper Vincent Pellegrino to put the Engineers ahead.

Sophomore goalie Ryan Nealon saved two shot attempts down the stretch and earned his fifth shutout of the season.

In the second game of the week, RPI scored two minutes in to take a 1-0 edge. The goal was scored by junior midfielder Devon Baughen, his fourth of the season, and was assisted by Gunderson. Potsdam responded quickly, scoring the equalizer six minutes later.

Rensselaer went ahead again in the sixteenth minute of the game when senior Paul Lentine converted a penalty kick into his third score of the season and a 2-1 lead for the Engineers. Then, in the second half junior midfielder Vito Mesiti scored his second goal of the season assisted by Carberry to pad the Engineer lead. Nealon saved both shots he faced in the second half, cementing the 3-1 victory for the Engineers.

Thanks to the impressive 7-0 start, Rensselaer is now ranked 15th in the country. Next up are two road games against Bard and Babson Colleges this weekend on Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th, respectively.

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E-Board recognizes clubs; Union updates

FLYING CLUB REPRESENTATIVES ASK for money from E-Board to fund aviation club activities.

On Thursday, September 17, President of the Union Nick Dvorak ’16 kicked off the meeting with the swing of his gavel, bringing the group’s attention to the first subject at hand: the approval of a new club, Destination Imagination.

Keegan Caraway ’18, Noam Eshed ’18, and Shamus Cardon ’18 presented before the Executive Board what exactly Destination Imagination is and what the up-and-coming group requires of the Rensselaer Union. Destination Imagination is a global program that issues challenges for students from middle school through the university level to solve. The challenges themselves are categorized into subjects such as technical, scientific, structural, fine arts, improvisational, and service learning. The contestants must then find the most creative and innovative way to solve the problem, all while performing a skit.

These three leaders have already gathered a group of students interested in participating in this world-wide movement, and came looking for the Union’s approval. Besides Union recognition, the newly developed group also discussed the possibility of receiving funds for trips, materials, and other miscellaneous needs. The willingness to fundraise themselves was voiced as well as the possibility of charging club dues. The topic of lab space, details concerning club size, and their constitution were mentioned. After some changes were made to their constitution, Destination Imagination became a Union-recognized club in a 12-1-0 vote.

Another club came before the E-Board with the same interest of becoming Union-recognized. Priyanka Raju ’18 and Shruthi Perati ’18 presented for the Sangam club. Sangam is a classical style of Indian dance, and they have been dancing since they were children. They stated that they are willing to train novices who are interested and welcome connoisseurs and experts alike. Plans for funding the 2017 fiscal year were discussed, as well as the future possibilities of Sangam performances both on and off campus. After questioning and discussion concerning the constitution, the board voted a unanimous 13-0-0.

During the topic discussion of business operations, the accounting information was examined. Eateries frequented by students, such as Ben & Jerry’s, Salad FX, and Father’s Market, have been enjoying an increase in sales. Sushi in Father’s alone made sales of over $158,000 in the past year.

Next the condition of the McNeil was considered. The matter of having round tables versus square and rectangular to offer more seating for larger groups was discussed. Also, the Board was looking to change the old carpet.

Donna Grace Moleta ’18 and Conrad Mossl ’17, members of the E-Board, presented a new project which would deal with the placement of large scale graphics on the walls of the stairwell between the first and second floor. The project would cost of the union nearly $2000 and the material itself should last around ten years. The purchase of the materials was approved, while the design itself requires adjustment and further approval. The graphics consist of images displaying areas on campus affiliated with the Union.

A third vote was cast by the E-Board, with an 11-0-2, concerning the approval of $880 dollars presented to the Flying Club in order to bring four extra people to the NIFA Safecon Tournament. Before this vote was cast, the club had only a budget to accommodate six people to attend. The group had need to have an even ten to attend, five pilots and five nonpilots, and consequently petitioned the Union. Representing the flying club was Alessandro Galli ’17 and Patrick Coleman ’16. They explained what sort of activities the Flying club would be participating in during the NIFA Safecon Tournament, which include flying skills test such as the spot landing competition and navigation competition. The club will fly their Cessna 172 out to the place of the tournament; this year it will be held in Schenectady.

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The fine art of procrastination

Managing to complete work on time since 1997

“I’ll be finished at ten,” I say it time and again… but I’m late; I wait around and then (bah-dah-dah) I cry on the floor, I can’t take any more. It’s not you, I let me down again.

Last Friday, I went to sleep telling myself that I would have a productive weekend unlike any other I’ve had thus far at college. Come Saturday, however… well, Saturday didn’t start for me until about 2 pm. Several of my friends from high school had been mentioning a show they said I had to watch. One of them even said she was as obsessed with it as she had been with Avatar: The Last Airbender, back in the heyday of her fandom. (We were fan buddies, and oh my gosh as good as Avatar??). The logical course of action, then, would be for me to watch. And so I did; I set aside homework, studying for my Data Structures test (may the Flying Spaghetti Monster splatter a garlicky red 100 mark on my test), and writing articles for The Poly. And, hey—you’re reading this notebook, so that means that I got it done right? It’s not like I spent my entire weekend marathoning the first season of Steven Universe, and I’m certainly not lame for it, okay? Agreed.

But I’m not here to discourage procrastination, or advocate one of the myriad methods that are being taught across campus about “how to be effective” or “how to rock at college.” It’s essentially an established fact of life that everyone procrastinates at one point or another. In fact, it can be healthy to procrastinate in moderation; taking a break from the intensive workload that RPI dumps on you, and taking the time to “treat yo’ self,” is necessary to reduce stress. Maybe not for first-semester freshmen, but for all others. And definitely not by watching an entire season of a TV show in one weekend. I’m no psychology major, but there has to be a reason all humans do it. Some say that it’s because humans will do any task other than the one at hand, or that they will do any task that’s less daunting than the worst. But neither option is quite so terrible—in fact, they can be taken advantage of. Some people do structure their procrastination so that it becomes beneficial. The real issue arises when we start labeling it as a negative thing; sometimes the adrenaline rush from procrastinating is just the perfect kick. And you can always delay larger tasks by doing something that is still productive, like reading Authentic Happiness.

In the end, this is RPI; most students turn out fine, procrastinator or not. And if there’s one piece of knowledge that Professor Hubbell imparted upon me before I dropped psychology (he was great, but I want to dual major. It’s not his fault!), it’s that we are here at college to learn time management. By that rationale, it’s only a matter of time until we all emerge into a brave new world as effective workers who don’t dilly-dally and dawdle. But for now, procrastinators, get to it later!

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South Troy Burger hits the right spot

Downtown Troy has many restaurants and other businesses that give the city an unique sense of character. Some of these restaurants stay open into the early hours of the morning, knowing that RPI students are up at all hours of the night. People have their own reasons for not sleeping, but one common need is a late night bite to eat. The Brown Bag caters to that need, as it is open from 5 pm–2:15 am Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays it is open from 5 pm–3:15 am. It is one of the last businesses in Troy to close every night.

For many, their first post-midnight meal is how they know they are truly in college. The Brown Bag, on 4th Street, has a reputation for being one of the best locally owned burger joints. It is hyped up as being one of the crown jewels of downtown Troy. This week for The Poly, I experienced the South Troy Burger and became a member of the esteemed group of RPI students that have experienced the glory of The Brown Bag. Judging off the line outside the restaurant, that group of RPI students is quite large.

The South Troy Burger is a burger topped with bacon and peanut butter, and instead of having a regular bun, it has a glazed donut to hold it all together. I’ve been warned by many people to prepare for a culinary experience unlike any other. After having eaten the infamous South Troy Burger, I can say that it truly is an experience. My word of warning is that the South Troy Burger is very messy and falls apart in your hand as you eat it. The donut provides the perfect sweet contrast to the savory components of the beef patty, bacon, and peanut butter. At first, I didn’t think the donut was going to make much of a difference, but it is really what makes the burger unique. After eating it, you’ll understand why you simply can’t do a peanut butter and bacon burger on a normal bread bun. It would be missing that subtle softness and sweetness that a fresh glazed donut adds to the equation.

A simple comparison is the flavor you get when you dip a pretzel in a chocolate fountain. Salt and sugar are cravings that evolution has hardwired into the psyche of man. The bacon is top quality because it is cooked to be crispy (if you like floppy bacon go elsewhere) and it is easy to tell it is prepared fresh every day. Anyone who has experienced the abomination that the campus dining facilities call bacon will welcome the change. The burger is cooked well done, but is juicy and nicely sized. Again, the contrast between a burger from The Brown Bag and one from Commons Dining Hall’s grill station cannot be overstated.

Unfortunately, my review would be incomplete without mentioning some troubling news I have received from my upperclassman friends. In the past several years, The Brown Bag has been consistently raising its prices. Seniors tell me that a basic hamburger at The Brown Bag was once around $3, whereas today it is $6. Of course, some price raises are business necessities but doubling prices in a relatively short period of time smacks of price gouging. They know that a good amount of their customers are RPI students. That being said, I am willing to pay for the heavenly goodness that is the South Troy Burger even if it can only be an occasional treat.

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Fazio places second at Saratoga

Three women’s runners make top ten against Wellesley

Running in their first eight kilometer race of the season on Saturday at Pineland Farms in New Glouster, ME, the Rensselaer men’s cross country team raced in their smallest meet of the season to date against host team, the Bates College Bobcats, and the Tufts University Jumbos. The RPI women ran against these same two teams as well as competitors from Wellesley College, a private girls’ school in Massachusetts.

In the women’s five kilometer race, the women’s cross country co-captain, junior Maddie Dery, placed fourth in 18:48.3, 16.6 seconds after the race leader from Tufts finished.

“This week was challenging for us,” said Dery, “We were facing tough competition, and the course was a little hillier than we are used to. Our goal for this week was to race as a team, running with our usual workout groups to try to move up in the field. I think that we were able to stick to this goal, and it made for a strong team effort that yielded good results.”

This “team effort” is exactly what helped the Engineers place three runners in the top ten of the 87 person race, including sophomore Jaime Lord, who packed up with Dery to cross the line right behind her in fifth with a time of 18:48.8. After Lord came junior Shannon Trant in seventh with 18:55.6.

In spite of the women attaining fourth in the points, head coach John Lynch spoke fondly of the pack strategy, saying that the women started “conservatively” and executed the plan “perfectly.”

On the men’s side, junior Ben Fazio, who sped his way into first place at the Saratoga Invitational on Saturday September 12, demonstrated his athletic prowess on Saturday when he finished second in 25:47.0, a mere 7.2 seconds behind the leader from Tufts. The third place finisher from Bates didn’t cross the line until 22.2 seconds after Fazio.

Fazio had this to say regarding the men’s team and his victory at Saratoga: “[It’s] always a great experience to be able to win a home meet in front of a good crowd, and even better to have the team do well against some really good competition. I was just very happy to be healthy and competing in an RPI singlet again. We knew coming in that we would have our hands full with the St. Lawrence and [New York University] teams, but everyone was excited nonetheless to get the season off to a good start. Despite getting third place, we’re confident with where we are in our buildup to the championship season and still have our eyes very much set on a Liberty League title and an NCAA Championship berth.”

Following Fazio for the Rensselaer men in the 64-person race were junior Garrett Davis in 10th with 26:53.3, freshman Grant O’Connor in 11th with 26:44.6, junior Matthew Cicciu in 14th with 27:00.4, freshman Sean O’Connor in 18th with 27:08.2, and sophomore Matthew Stewart in 19th with 27:09.7.

The cross country teams will be on a brief racing hiatus this weekend, but will reconvene on Saturday, October 3, at scenic Letchworth State Park in Geneseo, N.Y., for the Mike Woods Invitational hosted by the State University of New York at Geneseo.

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London girl’s stomach removed after nitrogen drink

COCKTAIL DRINKS MADE using liquid nitrogen gives a unique smoking effect.

Scanlon was rushed to Royal Lancaster Infirmary where, in order to save her life, she had to have her stomach surgically removed. The boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen is 321 degrees Fahrenheit and this was the approximate temperature that the drink was consumed. Her stomach had been pierced due to the extreme temperature of the drink.

Oscar’s Wine Bar and Bistro took full responsibility for the incident. They had no scientific standards in place for serving the substance; only a policy of waiting about ten seconds for the nitrogen to boil off. The family-owned bar no longer serves any beverages with liquid nitrogen.

Liquid nitrogen can be used safely in a variety of recipes either to add an exciting reaction to the presentation of beverages or as a functional method of instantly cooling foods. Chefs in restaurants cannot wait hours for things to freeze completely, and other methods for flash freezing, such as using dry ice, are not as effective. Dry ice sublimates (changes from solid to gas) at -109 degrees Fahrenheit and is solid and cannot be dipped into or poured.

Liquid nitrogen has become a relatively common item in more eccentric restaurant kitchens. It is useful for flash freezing meats, berries, cheeses, and herbs. Why is this useful? A steak can be cooked regularly to perfect medium-rare conditions, then flash frozen before being deep fried, creating a crispy crust without overcooking the interior. In order to make faux truffles, Spanish chef Quique Dacosta uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the parmesan foam. The rapid cooling allows delicate structures, such as this foam, to maintain their texture and shape. Blackberries can be split into their tiny individual beads through flash freezing, making them easier to bake with or add to garnish dishes. Ice cream made with liquid nitrogen is smoother and creamier than if frozen conventionally with the small size of the ice crystals within the dessert.

With all of these uses for something as dangerous as liquid nitrogen in the kitchen and the ever accelerating advancement of technology, one can only imagine the future uses for chemistry in cooking. However, the necessary precautions must be taken to ensure that what happened to Scanlon does not happen again.

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Freshmen positions available in StuGov

Class council leadership opportunities open

Hello RPI Students,

The future always comes with a great number of unknowns, but one thing is for sure: the Career Fair is coming. For aspiring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students, the idea of getting an interview within 60 seconds of talking to someone may seem ridiculous, but for two days, that dream becomes reality. However, if you’re not prepared, you will miss out. There have been a large number of preparation events recently, from both students and Rensselaer staff, so if you haven’t gone to any, be sure to talk to someone that has. Similarly, don’t write off going to the career fair because you may be a freshman or you don’t think you’ll find anything. The networking opportunities are invaluable and can pay off (literally) in the future. Many of the recruiters were RPI students once and will be able to relate with you a lot more than you think!

In other news, the election season has opened for the freshmen interested in student government! There are many positions available, so I’ll take the time to talk a bit about each.

First off are the class councils. A Class Council is a group of students who work to exemplify everything that makes your class ideas into a unique and memorable legacy. The Council is in charge of hosting events for your class in order to enrich your time at Rensselaer. The Class Council manages the funds from your class dues that go toward all your events including your Senior Week.

The positions open on the Class Council are: Class President, Class Vice-President, eight Class Representatives, and four Class Senators. The Class President oversees all Class Council meetings and stands as a representative of your class in your events. The President will also work with the Undergraduate Council President, who coordinates with all of the Class Councils. The Class Vice-President assists the Presidents in running meetings and events. Class Representatives sit on the council and help by taking standard positions such as secretary, treasurer, etc. The Senate is the body of student government in charge of representing student rights and serving as a connection between students, faculty, and the administration. Senators serve as members of both the Student Senate, and their Class council. There are many committees for Senators to be a part of, such as the Academic Affairs Committee, Facilities & Services Committee, Student Life Committee, and more.

There’s a lot of work we’re aiming to do this year in student government, and we are (especially now) in need of more helping hands! Some of the projects we’re working on this year include resources for students applying for fellowships, indoor study areas, students identifying by their preferred name (a new one to our list), and the student needs in relation to Summer Arch.

As always, feel free to email me at for any questions, comments, or concerns.

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Players take on serious material in Suicide, Inc.

KYLE JOHNSON ’16 PORTRAYS Jason discusses Norm’s, played by Jeremy Feldman ’16, suicide note and makes edits to it.

Save for three chairs, a table, and a desk, the RPI Playhouse stage lay barren. The lighting and effects are minimal. The Players themselves are similarly plain in their garb; members of the audience would mistake them for one of their own. Thus is the frightening nuance of Suicide, Incorporated: how relevant to the average man and woman the story is.

Director Jocelyn Griser ’16 along with fellow producer Jeremy Feldman ’16 discovered Suicide, Incorporated during a perusal of the Internet’s selection of Black Box shows, in the endeavor to create a more intimate and meaningful show. “We do a lot of the theater that’s very fun. It gets people very excited, which has its own purpose, and it’s very good,” said Feldman. “[However,] we haven’t done, recently, the sort that makes you think.” The subjects pondered here are more than the single action of suicide, but what causes suicide, what puts people on the road to recovery, what pushes people over the edge, how different individuals deal with their loved one’s suicide, and ultimately, how to prevent it from happening.

The play opens with leading role of Jason, played by Kyle Johnson ’16, who is being interviewed for the position of suicide note editor. Jason’s character is parts sympathetic and caring and parts defiant and individualistic. In this way, he acts as the foil of both his boss, Scott, played by Joelle Woodson ’16, who is an apathetic and self-centered character interested in exploiting the pain of clients for her personal monetary gain, and fellow employee, Perry, played by Bryce Miller ’16. Perry is weak-willed, yet ever loyal to his boss despite the verbal and mental abuse he is placed under. While the play is pervasively serious with themes bordering on the macabre, Perry’s character offers sporadic comic relief throughout.

Main character Jason proves to be not only a foil of Scott and Perry, but also of his brother Tommy, played by Brendan Freiler ’18, and his client, Norm, played by Feldman. In the play, Jason is the paragon of responsibility while college-aged Tommy participates in wastrel-like activities such as playing poker, partying, and pulling all-nighters. Norm and Jason’s relationship is that of client and counselor. One of the main plots focuses on Jason’s attempts to prevent Norm from carrying out his suicide under the guise of helping him (Norm) edit his suicide note. Along the way, Jason insists that Norm write down positive things in his life. In every interaction between the two, Jason acts as the positive, asking helpful questions while not being overbearing, and Norm acts as the negative, pointing out the problems and going into panic attacks over them.

The seemingly simple plot delivers a heavy emotional blow. Miller said, “The topic hits very close to home, I think, especially at a high pressure environment like RPI. There are […] far more people than we realize that are dealing with depression, with any kind of mental illness, with suicidal ideation…at any given moment.”

This play is more than a show the Players are presenting; it has been an on-going project, starting from the end of the last academic year, chosen to be presented during this time due to the fact that it is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month so it can be “not just a show, but a message to the rest of campus” said Feldman. He goes on to say more: “We’ve been very grateful to the counseling center, to the Chapel and Cultural Center, and to Active Minds, which is the student mental health group on campus.” On the nights of the Players’ performances, Active Minds will have a presentation in the lobby before the show, with stories about suicide, and the impact it has on college students. The C+CC will also be providing religious counseling.

Since the script was originally written for an all-male cast, Griser altered the charazzcter of Scott and the Police Officer to be women. When asked about whether or not he was satisfied with Griser’s directing, Johnson replied with: “Oh yes! Yes, of course… she hasn’t been strict about [having] to do it this one way. She’s allowed us to put our own personal interpretations into it.” Griser certainly remains on scene, standing in for the place of Woodson (who plays Scott) during the dress rehearsal Monday night. As far as the performance itself, the Players’ presentation, along with the gripping story, will enthrall the audience. It is clear that the actors are in tune with their characters. Kyle Johnson says “I have his emotions. When I’m done with the show, a lot of those emotions will carry over. The character still lingers.” And the emotions one experiences vicariously through the story and its elements too will linger and cause audience members to question the moral behavior of themselves and those around them.

Words to do this play justice simply will never come to mind. And so, with a simple plea, this writer encourages you, reader, to go and become a watcher, and then a thinker.

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Ahmed Mohamed makes a clock

High schooler receives national media attention for device

AHMED MOHAMMED ARRIVING back home after speaking to the media about his ordeal.

Ahmed Mohamed gained national attention on Monday, September 14 when he performed the mundane: after transferring a digital clock to a small case, Mohamed was arrested as officials at his school believed the pencil-case-clad electronics presented a threat to the student body. Under suspicion of creating a bomb, Mohamed was led from the school in handcuffs into the eyes of a country enraged by how the situation was handled.

As Mohamed entered high school, he lost the reputation he had gained with teachers in his earlier schooling; in an attempt to demonstrate his inventive capability, Mohamed brought the clock to school in hopes to impress teachers. After showing his clock to his engineering teacher, Mohamed was recommended not to show the invention to other staff members at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. After the alarm of the clock went off in his bag in another period, Mohamed was instructed to show the cause of the disruption. Upon revealing the clock to his teacher, it was remarked that the device resembled a bomb.

Mohamed was led to the principal’s office, where he was greeted by police officers. The student left the school in handcuffs. He was taken to a juvenile detention center, where he was searched, had his fingerprints booked, and had his mugshot taken. While the Irving Police Department has acknowledged that there was “no evidence to suggest that there was an intention to create an alarm,” the department may still press charges on Mohamed for possession of a hoax bomb, and Mohamed’s tablet and clock have been confiscated pending investigation.

Upon his reception in the Principal’s office, Mohamed was greeted by several police officers—one of whom allegedly stated, “That’s who I thought it was.” Mohamed believes this statement to be a pointed remark at his religion and race; he is a Muslim of Sudanese descent. About a year ago, such racially charged events as Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement, such a statement has caused an uproar in the national news. Whether or not the statement was legitimately an expression of Islamophobia has yet to be determined, but the local police department has released a statement in which they claimed that “the Irving Police Department has always experienced an outstanding relationship with the Muslim community.”

MacArthur High School has not directly made a statement on Mohamed’s arrest, but students were sent home with a letter which stated that “the Irving Police Department responded to a suspicious looking item” and that “the item discovered did not pose any threat to [students’] safety”.

The national response to the events in Texas has shown an overwhelming degree of support for the teenager. Mohamed has received recognition from current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and Facebook innovator Mark Zuckerberg, as well as a White House invite from President Barack Obama. The teenager has reportedly accepted President Obama’s invitation, and is currently considering transferring out of MacArthur High School according to sources of The New York Times.

The arrest of Ahmed Mohamed has created a perfect storm in American politics; the charge has been perceived as an imposition on innovation, as well as an act of racism. Ahmed has stated that he fully intends to pursue inventing, and has appreciated the support he has received.

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Success starts with you

How are you, RPI?

Happy Wednesday! As we slide into the first test rotation, I wish you all the best of luck. With rush winding down, and classes kicking into full swing, the semester will fly by and be gone before you know it. The days are long, but the weeks fly by…

Rambling aside, it’s a busy time for the Executive Board! I hope you’ve had the chance to check out the shiny new bookstore renovations down on the first floor. I’m pretty pleased myself with how bright it looks now, and I can’t wait until it’s fully stocked and settled in. If you have any feedback for how it looks or how things are going since the transition to Follett, please reach out to myself or Ken Palmer, the new manager. A quick congrats is also in order for the two new clubs that joined the Rensselaer Union crew last week: RPI Sangam and Destination Imagination.

As always, there are projects coming down the pipeline, and the committees are always in need of more help! From new McNeil room carpet/tables/chairs, to possible games rooms updates, the E-Board committees are hard at work. If you’re interested in helping new clubs form, working with the businesses of the Union, marketing the Union brand, or much much more, reach out to the committee chairs! Their information can be found on the student government website.

With the career fair fast approaching this Friday and Saturday, I wanted to take a moment to lend some advice to those who plan to attend. To those who don’t think they’ll go, I still recommend going and talking to recruiters and maybe grabbing some of the giveaway material as a souvenir. You never know who you may find! Even as a freshman, this is an excellent chance to get your name out there and practice your pitches. Taking the time to reflect on your experiences, and what you have done is invaluable when deciding on what direction you wish to take your life. Take this opportunity and grasp it with full fervor. Ask yourself, “What do I bring to the table?” The good news is that you’re starting on the right foot, as RPI will give you the solid primary skills to get your foot in the door wherever you may go. Your GPA and rigor of studies will set you apart from applicants from other schools, but what sets you apart from other RPI students? The answer is secondary skills. Networking, leading, and your charisma can get you farther than most people believe. One of my favorite ways of describing the Union to others is by saying that RPI gives you a toolbox through your education, and the Union is the workshop where you can build your future. Take every opportunity you can to master those tools, and to turn your passions into what you pursue in life. Even if you have chosen not to involve yourself with clubs, the opportunities to grow both personally and professionally are endless. And you never know, sometimes all it can take is a simple conversation and some good dialogue to find what could be your profession for the next 25 years!

So, the charge I give to you is to reflect on all that has brought you to where you are today. Every struggle and stumble, every prize and trophy, every victory and defeat have made you who you are. Take what you have been through, and take the chance. Speak with every company you can, and explore every opportunity at your disposal, and hopefully you will find what can one day become your career. Leverage your resources like the Center for Career and Professional Development to make all your attempts your best. And most importantly, don’t get discouraged! I know I spoke to three different recruiters at the Procter & Gamble booth last year before being offered an interview that eventually turned into an offer.

Good luck and happy hunting.

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Albany festival brings out food, local culture

LARKFEST IN ALBANY ATTRACTED over 80,000 people to historic Lark Street this past Saturday. The festival had local musicians, a variety of different foods to try, and a great time to be had by all in attendance.

On Saturday, September 19, 2015, the Lark Street Business Improvement District held their 34th annual LarkFEST on historic Lark Street, closing it for pedestrians between Madison and Washington Avenues. Spanning eight blocks, the festival held more than 60 vendors and hosted 14 major sponsors, while eight bands played on LarkFEST’s two stages located at opposite ends at Madison and Washington Streets. The festival’s stands offered local cultural food such as Korean, Thai, and Caribbean, in addition to the classic hotdog and hamburger stands that appear at state fairs. Additionally, caricaturist stands, boutique vendors, and a local flower shop all offered their services to passersby. The day-long event started at 10 am and concluded with its final musical acts at 5:30 pm. More than 80,000 people attended the event.

I had only been to Washington Park for Tulipfest, which is nearby, so I’m not too familiar with the surrounding area. As a result, when I did see the type of residential-commercial area around LarkFEST, I was surprised at how much it reminded me of Manhattan, New York City. The brownstone town houses looked just like those in East Village and around Central Park. Restaurants, flower shops, and boutiques all littered the first floors of buildings, with their upper floors containing apartments. Plus, certain streets still had little pockets of cobblestone streets. Lark Street definitely seemed like the place to be for the arts.

LarkFEST itself proved to be much larger than its eight blocks made it out to be. The streets were packed, with lines for food indistinguishable from passersby. I personally enjoyed those soda fountain stands that have refillable tin cups. I bought one of those in the morning and refilled it with root beer all day. If you’re not much of a pop person, then those local, freshly squeezed lemonade stands are the bomb. Almost every business had their own stand in front and even offered specials to those who sat inside.

I only had a chance to check out The End Men, one of the bands that performed at LarkFEST. Falling under the genre of heavy blues, the band relies on blues distortion and a rock beat. Matthew Hendershot took up the mic and guitar while Livia Ranalli crushed it on drums. Trumpet player Joe Page and tenor saxophonist Matthew Elia were included in the mix for LarkFEST and made The End Men unique from a typical four piece band set. Their music set the mood for LarkFEST’s outdoor and lively atmosphere.

I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this event before; in fact, I only heard about it from a friend, who actually didn’t end up going with me. Regardless, LarkFEST was a food-filled, fun-filled blast with great local music and colorful stands run by boutiques in the area. I would definitely suggest checking it out next year, if you can get there.

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