Slide Rule, Dynamo, Tau Beta Pi!!

The title of this post is from the old Tau Beta Pi cheer. Silly honors society… you can see why they phased it out ;o). The point of this trip to Pittsburgh was to attend a Tau Beta Pi division conference. Six out of our eight chapter members could come (one is abroad, and one had swimming conferences), so we actually had very good attendance, at least by percentage…


I had a thoroughly excellent trip to Pittsburgh this Friday and Saturday. We left Hicks shortly after noon. I rode in the back seat of Kristina’s car, with Kristina driving and Emily riding shotgun. Needless to say, Kristina is an aggressive driver, so we got to Pittsburgh in about 5 hours. This included some slowdowns behind trucks in construction zones, but when your average speed is 85…

If you come from/live in Pittsburgh, you may not want to read my opinions in this paragraph. As we approached the city, I think I can safely say that Pitt is the ugliest city I have ever been in, even considering Buffalo, NY and some pretty bad parts of Chicago, IL. It epitomizes the urban decay present throughout the Rust Belt. I also can’t handle the serpentine layout of streets in and among the ridges of the Alleghenies. Most of the buildings I saw looked like they were about to fall apart, or at least hadn’t been maintained in years. More than anything, this view reminds me why I don’t want to stay on the east coast. While there is something to be said for history, and having older buildings around, in a lot of cases, you end up with a city that is just plain ugly. Do people regularly make puns by calling it The Pitt?

Now that that’s out of the way, we arrived at definitely one of the poshest hotels I’ve ever been in, let alone stayed out. We hung out in the pool table-equipped lounge on our floor for a bite, while students from other schools trickled in. The event was being hosted by PA-Lambda (UPitt), and obviously PA-Gamma (CMU) would also be in attendance, so they weren’t staying at the hotel. We met a few people from UDel, and the head of TBP Division 3, which PA is in. Since we would be done with scheduled events at midnight, I left a message with one of my friends from high school he attends CMU. I figured he’d be busy with a frat party at SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon), but maybe he could stop by. Normally I don’t leave such planning to the last minute, but I didn’t think we’d have any free time while there.


We had dinner at Sam’s Subs, near the hotel. Apparently they paid off the restaurant so they would let us bring in cases of beer. I intentionally sat a table with some UPitt people; most of the other Swatties (We’re PA-Kappa) sat together. We talked about our engineering programs, and compared our ID cards from different states. The consensus was the my Minnesota one looks fake; I guess more eastern states have stricter ID standards?

After dinner we hopped in a chartered school bus to head over to Arsenal Lanes for some bowling. Unfortunately, we clumped by school, so there wasn’t a lot of inter-chapter interaction. We fit in four games of bowling; I felt like my technique was definitely improving. I could consistently get the ball where I wanted it, but the number of pins I actually knock down is still pretty much out of my control. I got 9 in a lot of frames…

My friend Gus, whom I have known since 3rd grade, called me while I was at the bowling alley. I suppose that based on the amount of time we’ve spent together after graduation, we’d be best friends, but it may have more to do with both of us liking Star Trek, D&D, and Macs, and regularly having events built around these hobbies. At any rate, his frat was having just a small private party, so he could duck out at any time. We agreed to meet back at my hotel later.

On a whim, Gus and his girlfriend Chelsea decided to check into the hotel for the night, but there wasn’t anything available. Apparently there were 4 basketball teams staying there, in addition to our little geek conference. The post-bowling “party” in the lounge on our hotel floor was anything but. Gus and I caught up briefly, and then he suggested that the three of us go to the O, aka The Original Hot Dog Stand. It has a pretty interesting atmosphere at 1am. After some good conversation, Gus took Chelsea home, and I walked back to the hotel. It was nice to see someone from back home in the middle of the semester, even if it was a short, last-minute sort of thing.


I hit the hay for what was a fitful sleep. At best, I got 5 hours, but I doubt I was actually asleep for that long. We had to get up at 6:30 to get breakfast in the hotel at 7 so we could get to the Pitt campus for our morning speaker at 8. The hotel had really good eggs. I’m also glad that I have transferred some of my caffeine addiction into coffee.

The first speaker was the chair of the engineering department at Pitt. His talk was basically “you should be terrified of the threat of outsourcing, and how you won’t be able to get an engineering job because they’re all going to India and China”. It wasn’t that great, but it gave us some good information.

Next we had a get-to-know you session, where we went around the room sharing most embarassing moments, favorite Disney movies, etc.

The division leaders then gave us a brief lecture on TBP chapter management. It’s not a huge deal for us, since we can all sit around a table, but there was some important stuff. This was followed by a game of TBP History Jeopardy.

To be continued in a later post… I am heading over to the SCCS Media Lounge right now to finish up some stuff so we’ll be ready to open tomorrow!! :o)

Private Investigations” from Money For Nothing by Dire Straits

Posted in LiveJournal Archive
4 comments on “Slide Rule, Dynamo, Tau Beta Pi!!
  1. antimony says:

    Glad you had fun — the TBP convention I attended was in Madison, so I was the only one from PA Kappa. And the only one from the whole area who wasn’t 21, so I ended up sitting around while everyone else bar-hopped.

    Funniest moment of the conference: I and another TBP girl (possibly my randomly-assigned roommate, though I don’t actually remember) got on the elevator after the last meeting, and had taken our nametags off. An older couple gets on the elevator, and turns to us in a patronizing but intending to be helpful manner and tells us that “you girls should watch out, there’s a lot of engineers running around here”. Without saying a word, we both just drew our badges out of our purses and held them up. And managed to keep from cracking up until after we got off the elevator…

    I do wonder why we should have been worried by the engineers in the first place, though.

  2. Nicolas Ward says:

    I didn’t think there were any Tau Bates on my friends list.

    There was a pretty good male/female split at this conference.

    I think we’re going to attend the national convention this year in Orlando. That should be fun too.

  3. Lisa ritz says:

    Would someone please post the words to the cheer? I would love to share it with my kids.

  4. Nicolas Ward says:

    Lisa, I’ll see if I can dig it up – as you can see this post is from 10 years ago. I might have a copy somewhere.

Nurd Up!

Nicolas Ward

Software engineer in Natural Language Processing research by day; gamer, reader, and aspiring UltraNurd by night. Husband to Andrle
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