December 4, 2003
Test Spin: Tori Amos
| December 4, 2003
On a new album of greatest hits and a few b-sides, Tori Amos is back in full force with Tales of a Librarian. Long time fans will adore the studio versions of rare songs Tori has played live and included on various singles, and new listeners will have a sampling of some of Tori’s best work.
Opening with “Precious Things,” a track that seems both airy and gothic, Tori opens a door into her own mind and memories. Some of Tori’s favorite themes are brought up here: sex, Christianity, and family. Her voice lilts in despair at her own shortcomings before rising in indignation at the things kept secret from her. Finally, it settles into a growl to wind up a chorus that calls out to wash away a past love. A piano playing extraordinarily high notes in the back puts you on edge, and single guitar lines snap with each word Tori wails. With an explosion of drums, Tori gets to the “little fascist panties tucked inside the heart of every nice girl.” Wow.
Smack in the middle of the album is the stark “Me and a Gun,” hitting you like a brick in the face. With no instrumentation, using just the power of her voice, Tori recounts her own rape. We get the visceral details of bodily hurt, the thoughts of survival that kept Tori alive, and the contemplations that haunted her after the experience. Once you hear it, you can never forget the song. I still get goosebumps every time I listen.
Archived article by Sue Karp
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December 5, 2003
Cornell students have formed a team to enter into the 2005 Solar Decathlon competition in Washington, D.C. The competition is designed to “push the limits of sustainable energy,” according to the press release, and the goal is to “research, design and build a solar-powered, energy-efficient home with all of the amenities needed to sustain a typical household.” In the fall of 2005, each participating team will assemble its system on the National Mall for a week of public tours and evaluated contests. International schools are represented, including teams from Spain and Canada. The Cornell University Solar Decathlon team marks the University’s first participation in the event. “We are also the only school from New York State,” said Angela Carter grad, co-leader of the PR-Business subteam. Last spring, Cornell was selected to compete against 19 other universities in this international event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The CUSD team is composed of over 70 students from all academic levels and disciplines, representing at least 7 different programs at Cornell ranging from mechanical engineering and architecture to government and computer science. “The team was formed by a group of very dedicated and enthusiastic students, mostly undergraduate engineers and architects,” Carter said. “[They] submitted a proposal to the competition organizers last spring and were accepted to compete along with [the] other schools. In the fall the group advertised the project, gathered interested students from across Cornell, interviewed for approximately 70 positions and created the official CUSD team.” The team is currently performing extensive research. Rather than committing to one design or technology right now, nine subteams are exploring their options and are “being as creative as possible,” Carter said. The subteams include researching materials, appliances, controls, energy production and storage, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, architectural planning and site design. CUSD will be documenting every step of the project online in the coming months. A design should be ready after next semester. All team members will be reviewing the potential designs. Stephanie T. Horowitz, a fourth-year architecture student and one of the CUSD team leaders, said that this project is “a great opportunity for students to gain practical experience while advancing research in the field and educating the community.” The press release expresses the team’s hope that Cornell’s participation in the event will promote awareness of energy-efficient innovations with the aim to facilitate the technical, political and cultural transition to environmental sustainability and renewable energy. The team is looking forward to “joining with local citizens, schools and businesses to spread the word on clean energy and ‘green’ design throughout the community.” The CUSD team’s solar-powered living system will “exceed the expectations of the Solar Decathlon Competition,” Carter said. “It will employ the pinnacle of evolving technology to maximize the social and environmental impact toward our sustainable goals and create a symbiotic relationship between the comfort, beauty, logic and educational value inherent in every detail.” “The house will be 800 square feet and will contain all the modern living amenities, [such as a] kitchen, workroom, bathroom and so forth, including, of course, all major appliances tweaked to be as energy-efficient as possible,” Carter added. A major issue is how to make solar-powered houses economically feasible. “Financial feasibility is in our team’s mission statement. The fifth point of our team goals [is] to accomplish all of this while simultaneously achieving financial feasibility by keeping the repeatable construction cost of our home underneath current market values. In terms of economically feasible solar communities, I would say it is definitely possible,” said David Wax grad. Wax is also working on a business plan that would enable the solar panels of “residential solar users” to not only be economically feasible but also profitable. “Living in an environmentally sound home is an ideal that team members share,” Carter said. “For many of us, this is a testing ground for ideas we will implement later in our lives. It is technically possible and will become more economically feasible with time.” Edward L. Robertson grad said he hopes to live in a solar-powered home one day himself. “Absolutely!” he said. “The Solar Decathlon is the first way that I have been able to contribute a vision of my ideal home through the looking-glass of feasibility, innovation and gridless independence.” He added, “The purpose of this living system is not to create [for] us the perfect home. It is to create the ideal home for the average person [who] does not have to be technically savvy to be able to run the solar home or environmentally educated upon purchasing the home. Our living system will primarily be the best financial decision for the average person.” Team research will be available to design students and professionals, industries and interested citizens through a website and manual to be published in 2005. These will document the project as a case study and will include resources applicable to sustainable building. “Personally,” Carter said, “I am really enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with students from such different academic backgrounds. Joining mechanical engineers, computer programmers, business students and architects in a joint project is rare indeed in most university settings. … The project is opening me up to new ways of thinking about problems and environmental issues in general. Everyone is contributing their best to the project, and we are making real progress as a team.” She added that the team is welcoming new members with a goal to involve as many departments as possible. “There is a role for every student,” Carter said. Archived article by Lauryn Slotnick
December 5, 2003
With architectural outlines complete and more than half of its fundraising goal met, the congregation Tikkun v’Or plans to break ground this summer and erect what will be the first reform synagogue in Ithaca on Triphammer Road. There is no need to start from scratch to build a community, since a solid congregation has existed for the past 14 years. Prof. Doug Stayman, marketing, calls himself an “almost-founding” member. “[Since 1991] we have grown not just in members but as part of a growth of Judaism,” he said. Those 14 years mark the “bar mitzvah” of the congregation. Metaphorically, Stayman said, Tikkun v’Or is finally becoming a member of the Ithaca community. According to Stayman, the new building is more than just a building. After having held Shabbat, High Holy Day services and other spiritual events in the Unitarian Church and Sunday school at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, the new synagogue will be valuable and convenient for its members. “We are not just building a building. We are community-building,” Stayman said. The campaign for the new place of worship is called “Kehila,” or “community” in Hebrew. The synagogue’s first phase will allow space for everything but Sunday-morning education. Later, the second phase will bring the remaining Hebrew school activities into one location. Overlooking Cayuga Lake, the temple will “take advantage of the natural beauty but not consume it,” said Robert Libby, the David A. Thomas Professor of Management. Libby is chair of the building committee, whose goal was to find an architect who uses space efficiently. The architect chosen was Michael Rosenfeld of Massachusetts. Rosenfeld has had experience building around nature and designing synagogues for medium-sized communities in the past. “He has a concern for sustainability in environmental issues. He uses sustainable materials and fits lots of activities into space efficiently,” Libby said. The entire synagogue, both phases one and two, should be finished by Passover of 2005. Tikkun v’Or has used this building process to come together. “There were a number of people who volunteered,” Stayman said. “The process of galvanizing to do something for the community brought everyone closer together.” An anonymous donor was also responsible for starting the wheels turning. The donor gave a challenge grant, matching dollar for dollar every donation up to $400,000. Because the proposal was met with such enthusiasm, the synagogue’s goal is now $800,000 instead of $600,000. The money will provide the congregation with more than enough funding to complete phase one. Once the building is up and running, the 110-member congregation hopes to grow so that it can soon hire a full-time rabbi. “We had a rabbi, but it’s hard to afford it. We are lucky to still have educated, trained prayer leaders,” Stayman said. Currently, prayer leaders Mona Sulzman and Abbe Lyons conduct religious services. “I lead services and I am also a bar [and] bat mitzvah educator. Once a month I lead a service with my guitar,” Lyons said. Lyons does not know how her role will change once the temple is constructed. “We have made it clear we would like to continue. I hope that the congregation will grow big enough so that there will be room for plenty of people to get involved,” she continued. Stayman also mentioned several ways for Cornell students to get involved. “There are teaching opportunities, student-led youth groups, potluck dinners and of course services,” he said. For adults there are Torah study groups and book discussions. The congregation is also offering a program in January directed principally toward non-Jews. “It’s called ‘A Taste of Judaism,’ and it teaches people about Jewish practices and what Judaism is all about,” Stayman said. Tikkun v’Or does weddings, funerals and bar and bat mitzvahs. “We are there for happy and sad occasions. That’s why it’s important to have this temple available here,” Libby said. Tikkun v’Or, despite its lack of a home, has certainly increased the size of the affiliated Jewish community in Ithaca. “It’s hard because Ithaca is a transient community, so not a lot of people affiliate,” Libby said. Both Libby and Stayman’s children had their bar mitzvahs at Tikkun v’Or and attended Hebrew classes when the school was established. Today, nearly 70 children are enrolled in pre-K through seventh grade. Tikkun v’Or’s long-term goal will not just be met by its soon-to-be-built four walls and a roof. “We want to make sure we’re here for future generations,” Stayman said. When Libby and Stayman first moved to Ithaca, they had no reform temple to call home. “We want to see other families have the opportunity for education, worship and social action,” Libby added. Stayman concluded, “This is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave a permanent marker of our love for reform Judaism and our hope for the future.” Archived article by Jessica Liebman