University of Oregon

Spring Term '11: Course Preview

Trafton B.

March 31, 2011 - 10:30 AM

Here we go; the beginning of the end is officially underway! I'm actually in the basement of McKenzie Hall at the moment sitting at the Information Technology Help Desk waiting for a IT student to help me wipe and reboot my laptop. I think it might be mad at me for using it so much last term, so I guess it's time I gave it a little TLC. Anyways, this gives me a free moment to tell you all about the classes I'm taking for the final quarter of my undergraduate career. As always, I'm extremely excited for this term to get underway.


Introduction to Planning (PPPM 399). At this point you may be thinking, "Why is he taking an intro class during his final term of college?" Well, that's a great question. The short answer is because it's my last required PPPM course, and it's the only core course that fit with my schedule. Also, the course is taught by a professor I've had twice before, Prof. Schlossberg, so there's that added bonus of knowing the professor already and not having to figure out his teaching style. The other two classes I've taken from Prof. Schlossberg were smaller discussion-sized classrooms, though, and this is a 100-person lecture, so it might be a little odd getting used to the new dynamic.


Even though this is an intro class, I'm sort of excited to take a step back to understand the full scope of the planning field. I've had a good amount of experience with transportation planning and I've at least been exposed to the theories of other types of planning, like environmental, housing, urban development, energy, etc., but it will still be nice to have a broader understanding of the entire field. One of my tasks in the next few years after I graduate is to find out which field I'd like to go into, so this might help me in that regard. If nothing else, I know a bunch of students in the class so it will at least be a planned time to hang out with my fellow PPPM nerds.


History of Chinese Literature: 1900 - Present (CHN 307). This one might catch you off guard, but it will help to tell you that this is the final course to finish my Chinese minor. After taking the 100-level Chinese sequence my Freshman Year, studying abroad for the following summer in Shanghai, and taking the 300-level sequence my Sophomore year, I've put off finishing my Chinese minor until my final term. Go figure, right? The course should be pretty interesting actually. Chinese literature isn't my favorite topic, but there aren't any big essays to write so I can't complain. I suspect that I'll take the course Pass/No Pass so I don't have to worry about my GPA dropping just because I misinterpreted Patrick Hanan's translation of The Sea of Regret. Also, for those of you who don't know this, spring time in the Pacific Northwest makes focusing on school work exponentially more difficult at the University of Oregon. The nice weather plus senioritis might make this a very interesting term.

Community Planning Workshop (PPPM 608). No surprises here. Just the second round of the same class from winter term. My team and I are still working on creating a construction and demolition waste ordinance for the City of Eugene. We had our first class Tuesday morning, so it was the first time our team was back together after not seeing each other for two weeks. We sat down around the table ginning from ear to ear because we were happy to see each other again. Let me tell you, the work we're doing is downright grueling at times, but having a team that you enjoy working with makes things so much more enjoyable. I honestly don't think I would still be doing this work if it weren't for my fantastic team, and I cannot stress that enough. We have a few mini projects on deck. I'm compiling a list of stores or organizations that accept different types of demolition debris so we can create web-based search engine for contractors that need to recycle these materials. My teammates are working on other projects, such as conducting an economic market analyses, and updating policy measures for procurement. I'm very excited to see what we'll be able to accomplish in the next two and half months.


Disc Golf II (PEI 102). To continue my streak of senior year PE courses I switched from billiards to disc golf, and this was probably the best decision I made so far this year. Why? Well, my teacher is the #1 ranked disc golf player in the WORLD!! Check it out, David Feldberg is his name, and he's awesome. I can't wait for our next class already. Thankfully the weather is getting nicer as well, so it looks like I might be playing a lot of disc golf this term. Can't wait.


Urban Farm (LA 390). A while back I blogged on my 'honorable conundrum' about whether or not to write an senior honors thesis. One of the pros to not writing a thesis was that I would be able to take a class in the spring time that I'd been dying to take since I first heard about it my freshman year. Well, this is the class I was talking about. The Urban Farm is a one-and-a-half acre plot of land on the north side of campus between Franklin Street and the Willamette River, and the courses teaches students everything from the basics of farming and gardening to the intricacies of being an urban homesteader and the agricultural implications of growing your own food and eating local. I feel like a broken record when I say this, but I can't wait. Our classes are from 4:00 to 6:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and about ninety percent of our time will just be working in the farm, planting vegetables, weeding plant beds, tilling the soil etc. My group is already planning out our first dinner together at our group leader's house. I'm finally going to understand how I screwed up my compost bin. One option for our final project is to design a garden for an actual place and develop a 12-month growing calendar, and I think I'm going to design a garden for my backyard in Eugene. When my roommates and I first looked at the house last spring, I looked at the backyard and thought, "Hey, this would be a great place for a garden." I never really followed through with that thought though. Not until now at least. I highly doubt I'll have the time to build the garden itself, but at least I'll know how to build a garden by the time this term is over and that's really what I want to get out of this class anyways.


Well, my computer is just finished rebooting and I have to get to work pretty soon here. That's what my the academic part of my term looks like so far, and there will be more to say about Duck's Track & Field and intramural sports in the coming week or two, so stay tuned for that.


Until next time, good night and Go Ducks!!


Trafton B.

March 27, 2011 - 6:13 PM



That was my attempt to write the transcript for the commercials we've been hearing all week long. This afternoon our dreams were finally answered as Ross, Winston, Dana, and I went to the Advance AutoParts Monster Jam. All I can say is that it was everything we could have hoped for and more, but I should also specify that we really weren't expecting too much. Not to mention, we really had absolutely no idea what to expect from a monster car rally. I guess you could say this was a learning experience for all of us.

First lesson: bring earplugs. The moment we sat down in our seats they started the wheelie competition, which was nothing more than a monster truck revving its engine and flying over the pile of junkyard cars. I distinctly remember sitting down, hearing the engines, and immediately standing up to go look for earplugs. Thankfully, Ross new the guy working at guest services so we didn't have to sacrifice our hearing. Apparently he'd already given out four hundred pairs before us. Not surprised.

Second lesson: monster jam rallies are more like shows than competitions. After the wheelie competition they had a few quad races. Supposedly this was a team race between Team Oregon and Team Washington, but there wasn't really a ‘team' or a ‘race' aspect to it. The two racers at the front of the pack dueled around track for maybe five laps while the remaining eight racers behind them were irrelevant. Team Oregon crossed the finish line first and then all the quads zoomed out of the arena except for the winner who apparently won the privilege to discuss his heroine victory with the short, portly announcer. I don't quite remember what his speech was about, but I assure you it was not Oscar-worthy.

The next event was the monster truck races, which were no more complicated than the other events. There's only so much a monster truck can do inside a 12,000-seat basketball arena. The racetrack was a straight shot across the stage; first one over the cars wins. Each race lasted an average of five seconds.

The first heat showcased the reigning champion, Grave Digger, against the challenger, Captain USA. Grave Digger won without much contest. The second heat saw King Krunch win over El Matador, which set the stage for the finals. Once again, Grave Digger prevailed to defend his crown over King Krunch. I hope that you're sensing a distinct lack of enthusiasm in my descriptions because these races were pretty hokey. Thankfully, the several hundred eight-year-old children in the audience didn't know the difference, and they went bonkers for Grave Digger.

Now, I was obviously prepared to see monster trucks and I'd even figured on seeing some quad or motorcycle races. The next act on the other hand caught me completely off-guard. I mean, who could really expect to see a mechanical, car-eating dinosaur? Not me. At least not until I witnessed the awesome metal-crushing power of Megasauraus.

Megasaurus is literally a three story tall robotic dinosaur on wheels that served one purpose and one purpose only. It could lift any car with its two robotic arms, hoist it up to it's mouth and chomp it until the car was completely demolished. It was a slow process. Hold the car up. Take a bite. Lower the car. Shake the metal out of its teeth. Repeat. There were some added effects like burping and breathing fire and shaking its head at the crowd. The whole ordeal took about twenty minutes and it ended with the junker car splitting in half and falling out of Megasaurus' arms.


Megasaurus in action.  
What was even more ridiculous was the narrative of Megasaurus' birth. If I could transcribe the entire history, I would because the writing is absolutely flawless. It was something along the lines of "Megasaurus is one of a species of gigantic man-eating creatures that evidently evolved from the Jurassic era that laid dormant for thousands of years. Somehow they were revived on a small island where native scientist theorized that this rebirth was triggered by atomic radiation and bombing..." There's probably a Megasaurus website somewhere. If you have a spare moment, I insist that you check it out. You won't be disappointed, I promise.


After Megasaurus was finished, the portly announcer let the crowd out for intermission so the crew could clean up the mess and prepare for the second act. He also made a point to tell all the children in the crowd to visit the Monster Jam concession stands where they could purchase memorabilia for all their favorite monster trucks and drivers. Excellent marketing.

I wish I could tell you exactly what happened in the second half of the program, but we decided that McMennamin's happy hour sounded more enticing and left. From what I heard there was a freestyle competition and a few more quad races. Sounds titillating. All in all, I can now say that I've been to a Monster Jam in my life, which is exactly what I was hoping for. 


Photographs courtesy of Dana Gordon. 

Oregon Coast: Spring Break 'Oh-leven'

Trafton B.

March 26, 2011 - 2:51 PM

Oregon Coast: Spring Break 'Oh-leven'

Well, first thing I'll say is that it's very odd to think that this is my last Spring Break for a few years. With that said, however, this was one excellent way to end things. Fourteen college kids spending three nights in Waldport interspersed with miscellaneous trips to Newport, Yachats, and, of course, the beach. Yeah, I'd say that's a pretty good way to spend Spring Break ‘Oh-Leven!"

Ross, Steven, Kevin and I rolled into our seaside Shangri-La Tuesday night around 6 o'clock. Our first move was making the beach house feel as much like home as we possibly could. Kevin set up his stereo. I loaded the fridge with food and drinks. Ross and Steven started putting all the breakable items as far out of sight as possible. C'mon, fourteen college kids under one roof? Let's be real about this, things are bound to get a little rambunctious. This one of those things you learn in college.

The last couple cars arrived within the hour and spring break on the Oregon Coast had officially begun. Most of the girls had been camping in Northern California over the weekend, so sadly they were already running low on energy. I think Tuesday night ended with dinner, one hot tub session and falling asleep to watching Mean Girls in the master bedroom.

Wednesday was our day of activities. We drove into Newport for lunch at the original Mo's Restaurant on the coast of Yaquina Bay; clam chowder and a plate full of fish n' chips never tasted so good. Then we probably spent a little too much time in the Newport Antique Mall. Ross and I were on a mission to find old baseball memorabilia. Didn't find any, but we snagged a box of mint condition Upper Deck baseball cards from 1990, which kept us preoccupied for a few hours later that night.

After our brief antiquing stint, we headed across the bridge to tour the Rogue Brewery and taste some of their delicious brew. Obviously, it was pretty cool to see the whole operation. I think one of the funniest parts was that it was blatantly obvious that they put more money into their brewing equipment than the rest of their warehouse and business operations. Their only section of administrative offices still had plywood walls and no finishing, while they invested heavily into purchasing and customizing their own line of rubber kegs.

The brewery tour was also fun for my roommates and I because we've been homebrewing throughout the year, so it gave us ideas for our next brew. Plus, just about everyone got a sampler tray at the tasting room. All I can say is that I'm sold on the Rogue Brewery.

If Wednesday was our activities day, then Thursday was the anti-Wednesday. We barely did anything, and it was absolutely fantastic. Woke up at the crack of noon, at a very late breakfast and then watched movies all afternoon. Eventually we all made it out to the beach, but even that was pretty low key. It was exactly what I'd been craving all break, an entire day devoted to being lazy.

Friday morning we packed up our stuff, cleaned up the house, and headed back to Eugene. My car stopped in Yachats on the way home for lunch, and more importantly for one more seafood meal. They had a crab melt with avocado on special that was unreal.

As you can probably tell, there were absolutely no complaints from my perspective. It was just one final successful spring break. Now it's back to the Duck Store to buy books for what will hopefully be one final successful spring quarter as well.


Photo courtesy of Dana Gordon. 

Oregon Preview & Other Tales of Spring Break 2011

Trafton B.

March 21, 2011 - 12:07 PM

Oregon Preview & Other Tales of Spring Break 2011

Friday afternoon at precisely 2:30 PM I finally put a close on the winter quarter and immediately felt the sweet relief of spring break cleanse my weary mind. Earlier today I finally got around to counting up the total amount of pages I'd written throughout the term and the total came out to be 75,000 words in just a shade under 200 single-spaced pages. Not too shabby, and it's no wonder why my fingers hurt from typing last Friday afternoon.

Anyways, rather than discuss the toils of my past two and half months, let's discuss the prospects of the next seven days. My roommates and my Spring Break began at Hayward Field with the Oregon Preview.

Saturday was a gorgeous sunny day with scattered showers and one minor bout of hail. All Ducks were in full form with wins in several events, including Eric Hersey in the ment's 110- and 400-meter hurdles, Lauryn Newson in women's 200-meters, and a swept of all four men's and women's relays.

Kevin, Bob, Natalie and I spent most of our afternoon at the hammer field, where we watched our friends Jordan Stray and Cam Norris finish 1st and 3rd in the Men's Hammer Throw.

Jordan, or "J-Nasty" as we refer to him affectionately, had an impressively consistent day. All of his throws landed within a range of two meters and he won the event with a final throw of 214 feet, just a few feet short of his personal best. Cam has a great day too, finishing in third with a final throw of 168 feet and 11 inches, but he admitted that it wasn't quite the performance he was hoping for. Either way, it was a great start to track season.

Yesterday afternoon Bob and I met up with Cam and another friend/hammer thrower, Sarah Holt, to watch the Women's Softball game against Utah State. Sarah is originally from the United Kingdom - she's training in Eugene for the year - so this was a good opportunity to teach her the fundamental rules of American baseball and softball. She had a great team to watch, too, as the #15 Ducks beat the Aggies 12-3 on their way to winning all four games of their back-to-back doubleheader weekend.

The real story of the day, however, was that Cam and I were selected for one of the games mid-inning promotions. We had to race miniature remote-controlled monster trucks behind the backstop, and the winner gets a prize package and two tickets to next Sunday's Monster Jam at Matthew Knight Arena. After an arduous race of peel-outs and poor RC racing skills, I beat Cam in a photo finish. It's a good thing we made a pact saying the winner would take loser to the Monster Jam, so we tried to have as much fun with the race as possible.

It's been a great start to Spring Break 2011, and it's only about to get better. Tomorrow afternoon, the guys and I drive over to the coast to meet up with our friends in Waldport, Oregon. We rented a house for a few nights, and I'm sure I'll have plenty to report back to you next weekend. It's probably going to be a lot like last Spring Break, except we're trading out the sunshine and snowfall for overcast skies and scattered showers. Why is it that my friends and I insist on having these nontraditional Spring Breaks? Aren't most college kids heading to Cancun or Hawaii? Aww, who cares, it's going to be a blast.


The picture above shows Jordan posing next to his new poster at Hayward Field. Photo courtesty of Natalie Rombach. 


Pyramids: A Modular Seating Unit for Lawrence Hall

Trafton B.

March 13, 2011 - 6:25 PM

Pyramids: A Modular Seating Unit for Lawrence Hall

I've been writing a lot about my own work lately, and I figure that you're all probably sort of tired of that...I know I am. So, with that said, it's time to showcase some of my friends' latest accomplishments. Now, I'm planning on boasting about the seemingly thousands of pages worth of reports, essays, reading responses, and blog posts this term. But one thing I won't be able to say after finals week is over (or ever for that matter) is that I built furniture. Furniture!! Did you hear me? My friends built furniture for their architecture course.

Emily, Emma, Melissa, and the rest of the interior architecture girls, plus the solo IARCH male, Nathan, built an entire seven-unit set of furniture for their Architecture studio this quarter (ARCH 486: Furniture Studio).

Pyramids is the name of their furniture module and it was initially inspired by a lighting arrangement on the second floor of the architecture building, Lawrence Hall. The ladies were also given a design object of creating a playful, modular seating arrangement for architecture students, which came from a variety of student and faculty suggestions, such as:


"We need places where groups can work, but we also need informal areas where people can interact and see each other."
"We need more little nooks to sit and hang out in between classes."
"It would be nice to have more places where small groups of students can pin-up work and discuss it."
"Everybody in Lawrence is always on the go. We need a place to arrive at and settle into. The coffee shop is too tucked away."

With that, the group got to work to develop the furniture pieces in the photo above. All I can really say is that I'm amazed and thoroughly impressed by the craftsmanship and creativity that went into each individual piece as well as the module as a whole. It's a perfect blend of comfortable, flexible seating that can be used as a relaxing private work space or a more open group meeting place. Before I knew anything about the ideas they'd been working on in the studio, I guess I just figured that each student would be working on his or her own pieces, so I was blown away when I discovered that they were creating this elaborate collection of pieces. I'd prepared myself to be impressed by the craftsmanship and creativity of several individual furniture pieces, which mind you I still was, but the mere fact that each of them is so well done and blends in so seamlessly with the rest of the module adds a whole separate level of grandeur. Better yet, however, is that it blends in with the rest of Lawrence Hall so well, which I think my favorite part about the whole project. The girls only moved it there last Wednesday for their final review, but it feels as if it's been there or it should have been there all along. 

Apparently the group had a design few faux pas while they were putting the pieces together, but I wouldn't have known if I hadn't shown up to the review session. Supposedly there were some measurement issues that caused the joints at the tops of the pyramids to be slightly less flush than originally planned, but it's practically unnoticeable to the untrained eye. As their professor said during the review, "That ended up being one of those happy mistakes in the design process." Considering that this was a first-run prototype put together in five weeks by a group of undergrads, I think they did a more-than-exceptional job.

Okay, it's time to get back to work for me, but if anyone is in Eugene and wants to check out these awesome pieces for themselves, they will be on showcase Lawrence Hall for another few weeks. Actually, I don't know when they will be removed, hopefully not for a while, but nonetheless you have to see them in person; they are marvelous pieces of art and, once again, congratulations on a job well done to everyone involved.

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