Archive for the 'Mudd' Category

False fire alarm

Saturday, October 11th, 2003

South has about one false fire alarm a year, usually due to kitchen non-fires. When there was a fire alarm at 6:50am last Friday, many students stayed in their rooms the whole time. I do not think this is a coincidence.

I took time to get fully dressed, and even then I was one of the first students in the parking lot. Only a third of the students in the dorm came to the parking lot during the 10-minute alarm. Some students came out of their rooms briefly, saw Michaela waving her burnt toast around, and went back into their rooms. The rest either slept through the alarm (unlikely, given how loud it is) or decided to stay in bed.

In California, it is illegal to "impair the effective operation of a [fire-protection system], so as to threaten the safety of any occupant or user of the structure in the event of a fire". So it's clear that we can't reduce the sensitivity of alarms in the dorm just because we find false alarms annoying. But what if we think a reduction in the false alarm rate would make residents take fire alarms more seriously? Could we argue that making the detector near the kitchen less sensitive would make the alarm system "less impaired"?

Cornell University has taken steps to reduce false alarm rates in dorms. They were able to do so with the encouragement of the Ithaca Fire Department and presumably without breaking any New York laws. This is encouraging, even though I live in California.


Sunday, September 21st, 2003

Aurora Burd, Dave Gaebler, and I all have escheresque posters involving stairs behind our doors. I have Peacock's "The Courtyard", Aurora has Peacock's "Castle of Illusion", and Dave has Escher's "House of Stairs".

Fire drill and donuts!

Friday, September 19th, 2003

There was a fire alarm in South Dorm last night. Unlike the first time I heard a fire alarm in South, I managed to leave my room quickly despite the deafening noise and strobe lights in the hall.

As I got to the parking lot where we gather after fire alarms, several South Dorm residents noticed 3 stacked boxes of donuts. We wondered what the donuts were doing unattended in a parking lot. Then we saw Dean Guy Gerbick carrying additional bags of donuts from his car. He told us the donuts were for us to eat during the drill.

Security silliness at Mudd

Thursday, September 11th, 2003

From an e-mail titled "Terror Warning 3/18/03" and sent to all Mudd students:

The President of the United States has announced his intention to remove the current leadership of Iraq. As a result, the intelligence community believes there is a high probability of large and small-scale attacks that could involve mass casualties and seek to cause maximum economic, psychological and symbolic impact. Reports from Los Angeles County of Emergency Management, State Office of Emergency Services, and the Federal Department of Homeland Security suggest that terrorists may attempt multiple attacks against U.S. and allied targets.

Officials have expressed particular concern about buildings, subways, and other enclosed areas. There is also concern about Iraqi sleeper agents proficient in assassinations, kidnappings, and bombings.

To address the increased level of threat, the Department of Homeland Security has raised the national Terrorism Threat Level to Orange-Plus Alert (High).


In response to specific recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security, the HMC Incident Management Team suggests that as far as possible, we:

Limit visitor access to buildings and school campuses to a single entry point.

Effective Wednesday, March 19, 2003, limit access to each building to the main entrance. All other entrances will require key or combo access.

The "one unlocked door per building" policy was not implemented well. One building has a glass wall with many doors along it, and even there only one door was unlocked. The unlocked door for a building at the edge of campus faced a street rather than the rest of campus.

But even with those minor problems fixed, the policy was silly because it introduced inconvinience without protecting us at at all. The policy was killed within 3 or 4 weeks.

What security measures or "security" measures have you been affected by?

Vons delivers to my dorm room

Sunday, September 7th, 2003

I eat in my room a lot, but I don't drive and I don't like carrying heavy bags of groceries 2 miles. Instead of begging for rides, I order from They deliver groceries to my dorm room. I've been using for a year, but most Mudd students don't know about it.

The site's "Favorites" feature makes it possible to order very quickly if you buy the same things each time. Many items have photos, so lists are easy to scan.

The minimum order is $50 and the normal delivery fee is $10. $10 is worth it for the time I save by not begging people for rides, riding to Vons, walking around the store to find the groceries I want, waiting in line at checkout, waiting for the people I rode with to finish, riding back, and carrying bags of groceries to my room in several trips. Orders over $150 have free delivery, but my orders aren't that large.

When you check out, you have to specify a 2-hour delivery window when you know you will be in your room.

My complaints about the site:

  • The front page doesn't mention the $10 delivery fee.
  • At 800x600, the "main" frame is tiny and I have to scroll a lot.
  • I have to enter my credit card information for each order.
  • The site isn't sure whether it's Vons or Safeway. (They're the same company. The store is called Vons in southern California and is called Safeway elsewhere.)

Tips for Mudd students:

  • If you live in South, give your location as "South Dorm", not "Marks Hall". Many Mudders don't know where "Marks Hall" is, and there is also a "Marks Hall" at CMC.
  • Give the address of your dorm (below), not your mailing address (340 E Foothill). I don't know if this is necessary, but it's what I tried first, and it worked for me. (Source for addresses: Dean Guy, "Cable Television" e-mail to all Mudd students, Sept. 2002.)
    Garrett House 495 East 12th Street
    Atwood 1200 North Mills Avenue
    Case 560 East Foothill
    Linde 550 East Foothill
    South 400 East Foothill
    East 445 East 12th Street
    North 440 East Foothill
    West 425 East 12th Street
    (More addresses -- link added 2003-09-23)

Back at college

Monday, September 1st, 2003

I'm back at Harvey Mudd College. Yay!

Classes start on Tuesday.