Back when I was a freshman...

Back when I was a freshman...

Yes, this is another "Back when I was a freshman" story. If you don't like it, eit you! After all, this is my page, my nostalgie, and my rose-tinted glasses that I'm looking through, which means those events that are furthest away (i.e. when I was a freshman) seem like the best. So there!

So anyway, back when I was a freshman, we were told that it was a tradition for the pledge class to hack the chancellor each fall before Initiation. The chancellor that term was Schmooz who is pretty easy-going so we knew we could think big and he probably wouldn't mind. So we had several meetings of the pledge class, tossing around ideas of what we could do. Most of these ideas centered around hacking his room, 21. 21 is a double, about 10 feet wide and 20 feet long. There are two large lofts in the room which fill up about half the airspace of the room in opposite corners. One idea that I think was mine (but I'm not sure anymore) was to get a couple more sheets of plywood, and completely split the room vertically in half, and then move all of Schmooz's stuff to the upper half, and make him live in "21b." This was deemed to be too much of a pain.

However, (if I remember correctly) it did spark thinking along the lines of what our hack ended up being. The rationale behind it was fairly simple: poor Schmooz was tooling far too much, and not sleeping nearly enough. He would spend many hours a day at his large orange metal desk on the floor of the room, and not enough in his nice big loft 7 feet off the ground. So we decided to make it easier for him, and switch the places of the two - i.e. place his loft on the ground where he could get to it easily, and put his desk where his loft had been 7 feet off the ground. We weren't quite sure how to manage this without Schmooz walking in on us, when he announced that he was going off for a 3-day NERO weekend. This was sometime in late October/early November I believe. Of course, he had NO concept that we were ready by that point - most pledge classes pull their chancellor hack on the night before Initiation in December. So he blithely left Friday afternoon for the NERO weekend, completely unsuspecting of what he would return to.

The takedown of the loft was fairly simple to handle - we had Batman helping us, who had some experience in the matter. Then things got a bit trickier. We ended up suspending the desk from the 4 chains which had formerly held up the loft. Of course we cleaned everything off it beforehand, and (because Hardpack drew a map), were able to reconstruct the desktop exactly once the desk was stably in position. The desk chair was also suspended from loft chains; however, it had the unfortunate problem of swinging you into the desk so it was hard to breathe. We just used a kludge solution of putting a bolt into the wall behind the chair and attaching another rope to that to hold you away from the desk. We also managed to suspend his filing cabinets next to his desk in the same relative position they held on the floor with judicious use of rivets. So picture this full desk setup, suspended in the air 7 feet off the floor. The desk looks completely normal, with a computer on it, some scratch paper, various pens/pencils. The file cabinet is in easy reach off to the right, while you can sit (almost) comfortably in the desk chair suspended right along with it. All that remained were the finishing touches. We took his bulletin board and clock which had been on the wall behind his desk on the floor, and placed them 9 feet up in the same relative position to his desk. We messed with his screensaver to display an appropriate message on his computer, and then Crack put on the piece de resistance: a sign attached with a magnet to the side of the suspended desk saying, "If you had been tooling, this never would have happened! -- Schmooz" for these were the words Schmooz had uttered when Crack injured himself earlier that fall in a game of Dining Room Bowling.

Needless to say, when Schmooz got out of the car upon returning from the NERO trip, he was immediately suspicious since the light was on in his room, and there were many people standing inside it - so he wasn't completely surprised by having been hacked. However, our technical achievements startled and impressed him, which was good enough for us. In fact, it is generally agreed that it was one of the more impressive pledge hacks ever as far as technical expertise goes. It also made for many neat pictures - various people tooling in the airborne desk, and a classic picture of Batman sitting under the desk in lotus position, with an expression of heavy concentration, as if he was levitating it (since the top of the desk and the chains were not in the photo). Schmooz however grew scared after only a couple of days of sleeping under this big metal desk (we had to place the desk over where his loft was lying on the floor), so we took it down, and Batman/Schmooz/Beef/Bird (aka TepCo construction) used it as an excuse to build a replacement loft for the piece-of-junk which had been there.

They were using a standard loft design - piece of plywood supported on a frame of 2x4's with one side being held up by a 2x6 bolted into the brick wall, and the other side held up by chains. So after installing the 2x6 into the wall one evening (with a great deal of noise from using the hammer drill etc), they worked on building the frame of 2x4's. This took quite a while as might be expected, but hey, it was fun, so they kept going. Then came the time to install the frame. Now the crosspiece 2x4's fit into slots in the 2x6 just fine. However, since each 2x4 was slightly warped, the slotted 2x4 which was supposed to be the other side of the frame did not fit. So they torqued the 2x4's until they fit into the appropriate slot just barely, and then pounded the sidepiece on with sledge hammers.

At this time, I was involved in a raucous foosball game downstairs in the center room. It was kind of late, but it was okay because it was the night that we turned back our clocks, so we gained an extra hour that weekend. In fact, the time had just switched from being 3 am to 2 am at about that time. The phone rang. One of us went over to the phone and answered it with, "Hello, TEP, where we should all be sleeping!" only to hear the response, in a very angry tone of voice, "So should we!" At this point, the freshman, being wise, said "Hold on a sec" and yelled "SCHMOOOOOZ!!" because Schmooz was the chancellor and it was his job to deal with noise complaints.

Back in 21, they had no idea of what time it was, so they had been pounding away with the hammers. As Schmooz put it later, "POUND! [pause] POUND! [pause] POUND! [telephone ring] [pause] [telephone ring]" Schmooz turned to the others and said, "That ... would be Mrs. Castellani" (our next door neighbor whose common wall they had been pounding on) "What time is it?" When informed that it was 3 am, he realized he was in trouble. He managed to talk his way out of it somehow, with profuse apologies, but we had to be careful for a few weeks after that not to provoke her again.

Back to Perlick's page.

Eric Nehrlich's WWW home page /