Thursday, June 25, 2015

The geekiest goodbye message to a marching band that an outgoing senior could write!

I marched in the band for all four years of high school, and anyone who does this obtains the right to compose a "Senior Will" that is supposed to call out special memories shared with friends, admit to any kind of silly activity or wrongdoing whose time is so far gone that the band directors would have a hard time punishing you, or to leave advice to the underclassmen of your section and the band in general.

Looking back over my four years in marching band, I spent a great deal of time with many people -- especially those on the drumline.  We traveled together even more than the band did for contests, and always placed very well at them.  However, in reading several senior wills that told of interesting stories that happened among cliques or circles of friends outside our official time together, I realized... gee, I'm really such a freaking square!  I had a small number of very close friends in the band, and would say I had a great deal of notoriety and esteem among everyone else, but never really participated in the cliques nor could tell interesting stories about very many things at all from my own viewpoint that involved the others.  (Either that, or the audio recordings I had of such things as the clarinets screwing up America the Beautiful or the guy who could fart on-demand just could not be appropriately transcribed onto paper and still convey any kind of comedy whatsoever.)  My senior will would need to feature a different approach, or else it would not be very long and kind of sad.

In my junior and senior year of high school, I immensely enjoyed the study of physics.  Showing my true nerd colors, I took over one of the general-purpose band rooms that had a whiteboard during my senior year and started scribbling down physics equations that related to marching band plus various other related musings and oddities.  This quickly became known as the "Wall of Insanity" (or maybe I was the only person who called it that!).  It was a community effort and several others made contributions that would come and go throughout the year, including a 1073741824th note (2^30th note, or "nano-note"), probably the fastest note ever written at the time. :-P  Nevertheless, after pondering my senior will content problem, it didn't take me very long to start copying some of my favorite things from the Wall of Insanity and writing them in my will.  Everyone's lives can be made better through some basic understanding of physics, right?

Pondering the Wall of Insanity

(Well, now that I'm a college-educated man, I'd say a basic understanding of probability is much more important, and will save you from getting duped into playing fools' games.  As such, I'd highly recommend the book Innumeracy.)

At last, here is what I produced:

Nevertheless, it got rave reviews at the time because it was so novel and different, and brought some basic math and physics phenomena to a level that any marcher had experienced and thus could sympathize with.  It featured some silly things, like equations to prove how we could get rid of drum majors, practical things (such as lots of dimensional analysis), plus some wisdom relating to my preferences in drill based on practical experience wrapped up in a fancy-sounding scientific name: "The Theory of Minimum Displacement."  I had actually marched a set identical to the "bad set" shown in the diagram, and always hated running back to the beginning of that set because it was so far away from the endpoint.  I believed (and still do) that simply by making many marchers appear to be moving quickly, the whole scene on the football field will appear to move quickly even if the individual members do not travel long distances -- back and forth should be sufficient.

Also, notice the font choice on my senior will.  Look familiar?  Yes, I'm still using it here on this blog today.  Back then, I chose it because it was the same typeface used by our band directors on various documents such as schedules, tape tests, etc., so it was rather ubiquitous, and that subtle detail was most assuredly picked up on by many of my band mates.  I use it on my blog nowadays because it's a nice, pleasant serifed font -- my other choices here are only Times New Roman (which lacks originality) or Courier New (only to be used for code).

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