Blacker Hovse FAQ

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Traditions


  1. The Church and Hovse of Blacker (the two being one and inseparable)?
      Current practice in Blacker is that when ever someone mentions "the Church and Hovse of Blacker", every Mole within earshot says, "the two being one and inseparable." When written, this last phrase is usually abbrieviated as "ttboai".

      Presumably the idea of a Church of Blacker started in 1939 when James Fahs (fr: 1937, left: 1940) stood up during nominations and made a plea demonstrating why the Hovse needed a Pope to keep track of the Hovse morals. This event was documented in the Secretarty Logs. XXXX On 2 May 1939 James was elected to be the first Hovse Pope.

      The office of Pope still exists and there is a list of known Popes.
      On 15 April 1940, Robert Maker (fr: 1936, left: 1940) was elected to the new office of Keeper of the Cans. The KoC was an assistant to the pope and existed as an office until 1973. The last known KoC was Gregory Brock (fr: 1968, grad: 1974) who was elected in early January 1972. The KoCs are listed with the Popes

      Over time there have been various Cardinals in the Church. Most of them were appointed on an as need basis.

      The Church currently has 6 Saints. People are elevated to sainthood by being able to win at the lounge run but getting out of the wooden door under their own power. More information can be found in 2.11

      As to why ttboai came about... XXX

  2. When do Frosh become Sophomores? Juniors become Seniors?
      The first definition is that there are always frosh in the house. Who would answer the phone when upperclassmen yelled "Phone frosh"? :-). Seriously, Frosh become Sophomores when there are new frosh in the Hovse. So the transition at the end of picks, 1st term.
      Sophomore become Juniors at the end of finals 3rd term. Juniors become Seniors at the end of Ditch Day. This is because as soon as Ditch Day is over, that batch of Seniors can not do Ditch Day twice. And it has been proven that Ditch Day is always "tomorrow". The the juniors are promoted to fill the void.

  3. What is the Blacker Election process?
      Blacker's elections have moved over time from May (third term) to January (second term). The first Blacker election was held in the Atheneum on 14 May 1931. In that election, the first President, was elected. He presided over the election of the first Vice-president, Secretary and Treasurer. Until 1951 nominations started at the least powerful office and worked up to President. In the early 1990s, it was Secretary, then President, then everything else. The latter 1990s swiched it to President first.

      Throughout the 1930s elections were held either in the beginning of May or the end of April. The officers would then take office towards the end of May or June. In 1932, the turnover was on 6 June. In all cases no records of actual vote tallys were kept.

      In the 1940s before World War II, elections were held in early to mid April with elections generally getting earlier each year. When civilians returned to Caltech in 1946, Blacker immediately held an election on 6 March. A normal election was held a few weeks later on 5 May. In 1947 the election was on 8 April, in 1948 on 1 April and in 1949 on 7 March. Before World War II, no records of actual vote tallys were recorded. Starting with the election of 5 May 1946, the number of votes per candidate in each ballot were recorded, except for the 7 March 1949 election.

      On 2 March 1953 there was a House Meeting to discuss splitting up elections into 2 nights. The reason was so that defeated candidates could run for other offices. It was decided that the Presidential election would be on one night and the remainder of the officers the next night. Three days later on 5 March 1953 there was another House meeting with a formal motion. The motion was to elect the President, Social Chairman, Secretary and Pope on the first night and the rest of the officers on the second. The motion passed 37 to 8. [Sec'y Log, Vol II, p. 107]. Thus in 1953 and 1954 the elections were on successive nights. From 1955 to the end of the decade the elections were held a week apart. Elections changed slightly in 1956. The first day of elections contained the ballots for President, Treasurer, Secretary and Pope. The ballot for the remaining officers was held on the second night. In 1958 the position of Athletic Manager was added to the first night election. The 1950s typically saw elections in the first week(s) of March, with the exception of 1957 which had a first week election on 27 Feb. No records of acutal votes were kept in 1950 and 1951, but the tallys were kept for the rest of the decade. By the 1950s, the turnover to the next officers was in late March. Presumably this was for the beginning of 3rd term.

      1960 through 1964 continued the election pattern of the 1950s, that of elections on two nights about a week apart, except for 1961. In 1965 the election logs are undated, but were held before 30 March. There is no indication if the previous tradition of multiple day ballots was continued or not. Unfortunately, the surviving Secretary logs end with that 30 March 1965 entry. The subsequent volume was lost and logs were not re-started until the 1990s. The eary 1960s saw elections in the first two weeks of March, but in 1962 they were held on 1, 2 (Presidential runoff) & 8 February. In 1963 there were held in late March while 1964 was on 27 Februrary and 6 March. In 1965 elections were held before 30 March. For the remainder of the 1960s, the actual date of elections is unknown, however, it is presumable they were held in February or March. In 1960 the elections formate was President, Secretary, Atletic Manager, Treasurer and HS the first night and the remainder the second. For the elections from 1960 to 1965 a record of vote tallys has been preserved. Turnover of officers was a week or so after the elections.

      Starting in 1971 the elections were definitely in the Month of February with the exception of 1979 which held them in January. Since a lot of processes were simplifed and traditions dropped in the 1970s I wouldn't be surprised if elections were consolidated into one night at this time. No record of vote tallys exists nor of when the actual turnover was.

      The 1980s saw elections transition from February to January. I'm fairly sure the 1987 election was in January, but I don't know if the transition was earlier than that. No record of vote tallyes exist, but presumably they were specifically not reported. (In 1990 results were not announced and that was at that time a long standing).

      In the 1990, the nominations & elecection for Secretary were held the second week of 2nd term (the Secretary wanting to get rid of their job as soon as possible). The third week of the term was the Presidential nominations and election. The forth week was election of the remainder of the officers as well as "real" nominiations (for endless made up offices). In the early 1990s a runoff ballot would be held every day until someone won a given election. In 1992, the Hovse decided to have one ballot that was left out for a number of days and to let people rank the candidates in preferential order. This way the secretary could do all the run offs at once. The only interesting thing was that the candidate "No" could no be dropped from a runoff. So "No" gathered votes until someone won or "No" won. In 1994, Eric Dickson (fr: 1992, grad 1996) made the addition of checking for a condercet winner (the winner beats everyone else in a pairwise contest as well as NO). In 1995 or 1996 it was decided to hold the election for President first and Secretary second in case someone wanted run for both offices.

  4. What are the "Real" nominations and elections?
      Over time Blacker has added the process of electing people to titles other that those that are found in traditionally organizations. The first such officer to appear was that of Pope. In a house meeting on 26 April 1939, "Mr [James] Fahs [fr: 1937, left summer 1940] presented an elequent plea for establishing a house pope to guard the morals of our degenerate members." [Blacker Secretary Log, Vol I, p92] This office has been elected every year since and has at times had a roompick.
      Keeper of the Cans aka K of C: Added in the elections of 15 April 1940. This person was the assistant to the Pope. The last known K. of C. was elected in January 1972.
      House Prophet Elected 6 April 1942. The was only elected in 1942. Presumably the closing of the Hovse a few weeks later for World War II put a premptive end to this office.
      House's HA aka HHA aka House Horses Ass: This title first appeared in the election of 27 Feb 1951 and was still in existance in the 1990s.
      House Swine aka HS: First nominated 25 Feb 1959 and appeared every year until records end in 1965, but was not present in 1980.
      House Choudry Appeared in 1965 election. The Secretary log entry implies that this position is to be annually elected. It did not exist by 1980.

      Sometime after 1965 the tradition of spending one or more nights after dinner nomininating people for anything that could can make up (House Delta Function, House Unit of Depth, HintOr (Evil Master of Subtlety), etc.) arose. This tradition was in full swing by 1980, however, by the volume of offices at that date, presumably nominations were only held one night as only 27 such offices were elected. This is in addition to electing the Pope. By this time the Pope was mostly ceremonial, just responsible for going to dinner one night to challenge the frosh to the Lounge Run and making a Purity Test. But since that office used to be offical with a pick, I'm not counting it with "Real" elections.

      In 1980 the random officers were:
        House Amateur Chemist
        House Amphibian
        House Asymmetrical Mutant
        House Barker
        House Cat
        House Cute Little Frosh
        House Cute Little Frosh, Emiterus and Permanent
        House Cutest Couple
        House Delta
        House Function
        House Hardly Mortal Look-alike
        House Honorary Kernel
        HHA
        House Light Switch
        House "Little Old Lady from Pasadena Raper"
        House Lost in Space
        House Madame
        House Master
        House Most Disco Dancer
        House Most Improved Taste in Music
        House Most Obscure Frosh
        House Narcoleptic
        House Most Off Campus
        House Permafrosh
        House Propsition 1 Enforcer
        House Propsition 1 Enforcer Assistant
        House Teddy Bear
        Robert Roe Blacker Memorial Cutthroat Chair


      Between 1980 and 1988 this list expanded wildly.
      In 1988 there were 307 random nominations (including writins)
      In 1991 there were 407 random nominations (including writins)
      In 1992 there were 344 random nominations (including writins)
      In 1994 there were 501 random nominations (including writins)
      In 1995 there were 311 random nominations (before writins)
      In 1996 there were 373 random nominations (before writins)
      I don't currently have data or ballots from 1997
      In 1998 there were 206 random nominations and no writins were tablulated


      Most of the nominations each year are based on whomever is a member of the Hovse at that time. Various nominations repeat every year. Here are a few annual ones that need more comment:
      • Hovse Virgin: at one point this was nominally the Pope's nominal duty to deflower. However some years that is a little impossable as it has been various infants, the Fleming Cannon, and No.
      • Permafrosh: the person that the Hovse thinks will be most froshlike for their duration at Caltech (and the rest of their lives). Some of these people are:
          1980: Steve Colwell (fr: 1979, grad 1983)
          1981: Unknown
          1982: Unknown
          1983: Dave Hull (fr: 1982, grad 1986
          1984: Dawn Meekhof (fr: 1983, grad 1987)
          1985: Mike Serfas (fr: 1984, flamed 1986)
          1986: Andrew Hsu (fr: 1985, grad 1989)
          1987: Glenn Eycaner (fr: 1986, grad 1990)
          1988: Rob Padula (fr: 1987, grad 1991)
          1989: Nye Liu (fr: 1988, left 1992)
          1990: Walker Aumann (fr: 1988, grad 1993)
          1991: Bevan Bennett (fr: 1990, grad 1995)
          1992: Andrew Grangaard (fr: 1991, still at Tech in 1998)
          1993: Peter Manca (fr: 1992, grad 1997)
          1994: Sam Foster (fr: 1993, grad 1998)
          1995: Bill Penn (fr: 1993, grad 1998)
          1996: Jon Allen (fr: 1994, grad 1998)
          1997: Nate Anagnostou (fr. 1994)
          1998: Reuben Walter Ogburn IV (fr: 1995)
          1999: Jane Greenham (fr: 1998, grad: 2003), Ayeh Bandeh-Ahmandi (fr: 1998, grad:2002), Victoria "Tory" Sturgeon (fr: 1998, grad: 2002)
          2000: Vikki Kowalski (fr: 1999, grad:2004)
          2001: Unknown
          2002: Unknown
          2003: Unknown
          2004: Unknown
          2005: Unknown
          2006: Andrea Dublin (fr:2005, grad:2009)
          2007: Dahvyd Wing (fr: 2005, grad:2009)
          2008: Unknown
          2009: Unknown
          2010: Unknown
      • LHOOQ: Reportedly if said in a french accent this is close to to the french word/phase that means: "She has a nice ass".
      • Or: These nominations, (replace all "er" with "Or", such as HintOr, Evil Master of Subtlty) started in the nominations of 1988 and show no signs of ending. During the early 1990s these nominations were held the 3rd week of the term along with nominations for offices other than secretary and president. Starting about in 1997 they were done the 4th week of the term.

  5. Presidential Turnover Ceremony?
      The Blacker Presidential turnover Ceremony as practiced from at least 1990 to the 1996 has been fairly consistant. The old president stands up and gets everyone's attention. Note: He/she does not ring announcements. Usually they are wearing one jacket or the other. The president has brought the presidential box to dinner and shows many or all of the items to the people present. The president tells the history behind each item, if known. In the years that 2 jackets existed, the president pointed out the features of the old jacket including showing the listing of names of past presidents, that it was gift of an RA, and who added which addition. If the new jacket exists, the additions to that are commented on. The purpose of all of this is to pass on the verbal history of all of these items. At this point the president gives a final, farewell speech. He/she ends with saying that only the jacket knows who the next president is. The president consults with the jacket and reads of the name of the next president. The jacket is taken off by the old president and he/she helps the next president into it. This is the actual moment of the transfer of power. If you look in many Blacker sections of Big Ts, this moment is photographed. The old president hands the new president 2 glasses and a knife to ring announcements, which is immediately done. Hopefully at least one of the glasses breaks. The new president usually gives a speach at this point and then runs normal announcements. After annoucements are over and the waiters have opened the curtains, the new president is carried away to a pond of choice and dumped in (without the jacket of course). Various ponds have been used from Milliken, to Baxter, and most recently the Gene Pool.

      In 1992 when Dave Kim (fr: 1987, grad 1992) handed off the jackets to Andrea Mejia (fr: 1988, grad 1992), he started his portion of the ceremony by repelling into the Dining Room from the hatch in the ceiling in the North-East corner.

      In 1995 when James Honnaker (fr: 1992, grad 1997) handed the jacket(s) off to Alison Slemp (fr: 1992, grad 1996), there was a twist to the events. He showed the remains of the old jacket to the Hovse and said that a drunk Andrew Schoen (fr: 1992, grad 1996) had ripped it up. He showed the Hovse that the jacket had been ripped into several pieces. He then annouced that he did not like the new jacket and that he had burned it. He produced a box of ashes that contained the metal bits that had been attaced to the jacket. Instead of putting the jacket on Alison, he sprinkled the ashes over Alison's head. These events angered a number of the Hovse members. There was talk about BoCing him, including from sever former BoC chairmen. About a week later James admitted that the burning was prank that he had pulled on the Hovse, and produced the undamaged new jacket. He stuck by his story of the demise of the old jacket. Alison and her mother repaired it as is detailed in the Presidential Jacket section. All of this could have been expected, I guess. The first words that he said to the Hovse after having Benjamin Smith (fr: 1989, grad 1994) put the jacket on him and ringing annoucements that first time was, "Suckers!" To add more irony to the incident, about a week after his recantation of the cremating the jacket, James was voted by the student body to the position of Board of Control Chairman.

  6. What are the Presidential Jackets?
      Blacker has two presidential jackets that contain the names of the presidents and various heirlooms/additions. The original jacket, tan and threadbare, was a gift of Dr. Edger Anderson, the RA, in 1967 or 1968. By tradition, the named of each president was written in the jacket. A number of presidents also made personal additions to the jacket. By 1991, all of space for writing new names had been depleted, so Dave Kim (fr: 1987, grad 1992), the last name in the original jacket, gave a new one with matching pants as a gift to the Hovse. The new jacket was also tan, but with dark brawn lapels and a stripes down the pants.

      The pants to the new jacket were lost before December 1992.

      The original jacket was severely damaged in January 1995. According to his own account, James Honnaker (fr: 1992, grad 1997), the Hovse President at the time, was wearing the jacket at a party. According to James, Andrew "Nature Man" Schoen (fr: 1992, grad: 1996) was drunk, took it from James and ripped it into several pieces. The jacket was later repaired by the next president, Alison Slemp (fr: 1992, grad 1996), and her mother.

      A description of items and notations on the original jacket:

        Left shoulder:
          Maroon cloth with black pattern edge. Added by Bibi Jentoft-Nielson (fr: 1985, grad: 1985, president 1987). Bibi thought the jacket needed some more color.

        Left breast pocket:
          Black patterned edge (as found on the left shoulder) at the top edge of the pocket. Added by Bibi
          Greek lower case letters, decending diagonally from wearer's right to left, stiched in black. Gamma delta gamma beta. Added by Bibi. She was tired and meant to stich gamma delta beta gamma, but screwed up.

        Left Breast area:
          Frilly, gold/off-white patterns (loops) in lines. 2 vertical and 1 horizontal. These were added by Alison Slemp (fr: 1992, grad 1996, president 1995) and her mother to fill in the ripped area and rejoin the fabric.

        Left pocket:
          Two cigaretta burns, date unknown, but previous to 1989. Filled in by Alison Slemp or her mother.

        Inside left side of jacket:
          Writing in marker and sitching (* denotes stiching in black, (Bl) is the color of a black marker, (Br) is brown marker, and (Pur) is purple marker). The writing extents to the bottom of the fabric.
          
                                   THE PRESIDENTS   (Pur)       
                                OF BLACKER HOUSE    (Pur)
                                FROM DR. EDGAR      (Pur)
                                          ANDERSON  (Pur)
                                           67-68    (pur)
          DAVID SHENTON (Bl)   GAVIEN MIYATA        (pur)
             78-79      (Bl)          68-69         (Pur)
                               WILLIS DRAKE         (Pur)
          BILL SCHMIDKE (Bl)         69-70          (pur - 70 brown)
              79-80     (Bl)   ERIC SCHIFF          (Br)
                                     70-71          (Br)
                               GARY SPIVAK          (Br)
          TRICIA STODDARD (Bl)       71-            (Br)
                80-81    (Bl)  JAMES BONOMO          *
                                     72-73           *
          STEVE RYAN *         DOUGLAS McELROY       *
                                     73-74           *
          CHRIS THOMPSON (Bl)  LON ROLLINSON        (Bl)
              82-83      (Bl)        74-75           *
          RICHARD MURRY  (Br)  DEANNA HUNT           *
              83-84      (Br)        75-76           *
          PETER ASHCROFT (Br)  DAVID FORGERSON       *
              84-85      (Br)  JACK KOHN 77-66       *
                                   77-78             *
                

        Inside right side of jacket:
          (Names of presidents continue--the writing continues until it runs out of space at the bottom)
           
          TOM NOLAN         (Bl)
            85-86           (Bl)
          NANCY DREHWING    (Pur)
          86-87             (Pur)
          BIBI              (Red)
           JENTOFT-NIELSON  (Red)
                  87-88     (Red)
          Ken Andrews       (Bl)
              88-89         (Bl)
          Clifton Kiser     (Bl)
              89-90         (Bl)
          Dave Kim          (Bl)
              90-91         (Bl)
                 

        Right outer side of jacket.
          Near bottom, 2 small cigarette burns and white paint spot. Origins unknown.
          Attached to bottom, section of telephone handset cord, black, springy. Added by Ken Andrews (fr: 1986, grad 1990, president 1988). He was also the BTE troll.

        Cuffs of both sleaves
          Cloth, red & gold strip. Added by Alison or her Mother to stabilize the fraying ends.

        Back:
          Full back silk screen (in black) of part of Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. The first 15 measures are printed. Added by Cliff Kisor (fr: 1986, grad 1990, president in 1989).

        MISSING: Left lepal .
          Nancy Drehwing (fr: 1983, grad: 1997, president 1986), had affixed a diamond stud earing there.

      New Presidential Jacket.
        The jacket is beige with dark brown collar. The lapel and bottom pocket edge have a 1 cm dark brown edge. The jacket liner is dark brown. The pants had a dark brown leg stripe.

        Left arm:
          black silk screen, slightly smuged, "Blacker Hovse". Sideways, bottom toward wearer's back, "B" toward cuff. Put on by David Kim (fr: 1987, grad: 1992, president 1990)

        Left lapel:
          black silk screen, Blacker shield with "Blacker House" under it. Added by David Kim.

        Left breast pocket:
          Austrialian flag. Inked in by Katy Quinn (fr: 1989, grad: 1993, president 1992). Katy is an Australian citizen who came to the US a few months before attending Caltech.

          Two pins.
            Smaller, round, "Outward Bound Pacific Crest" in brass in perimeter on green field with compass in brass with white background in middle.

            Larger, round, Green perimeter with "Lamont" at 12 o'clock in brass. Inner field is blue with white, open, right hand above a twisted rope. Lamont was the name of the House that Katy was president of in High School.

            Both added by Katy Quinn, president 1992.

        By left bottom pocket:
          Four holes in a rectangular pattern that look like they once held something on. What it was is currently unknown.

        Right collar:
          US naval lieutenants bars. Added by Benjamin Smith (fr: 1989, grad: 1994, president 1993) to symbolize the command that goes with the job. The bars were given to Ben by his grandfather, Allan B. Heinsohn, who had worn them while serving on the second U.S.S. Yorktown during World War II.

        Right arm:
          black silk screen, slightly smuged, "Blacker Hovse". Sideways, bottom toward wearer's back, "B" toward shoulder. Put on by David Kim.

        Back:
          Center, between should blades:
            Lowercase greek letters Gamma delta beta gamma. Black silk screen. Put on by David Kim.

          Right tail:
            Sewed on circular picture of Disney's Beauty and the Beast dancing. Original artwork by Andrea Mejia (fr: 1988, grad 1992, President 1991) who added it to the jacket.

        Inside:
          Right side above pocket in black marker:
          To the
          men and 
          women of
          Blacker
          Hovse
          15 Jan 1991
          Dave Kim
                 
        Right side, below pocket in black marker:
          1991-92
          Andrea Mejia
                 
        Right side, on tan, outer part of jacket, left and below of the Andrea entry, in black marker, except for "Alison Slemp" which was embroidered:
                92-93
          Kathleen 
               Quinn
          
                93-94
          Benjamin 
           A. Smith
          
                94-95
          James 
           Honnaker
          
            Alison
            Slemp
                 '95-'96
          
            1996-1997
              William
                Penn
                 
        Left side on tan inner part staring just below the first button in black marker:
                   '97-'98
          Jon "Marty"
            Allen
          
          Eric Hale
              '98-99
                

  7. What is in the Presidential Box?
      Over time a series of trinkets have been gathered by the various presidents of the Hovse and passed on to their successors. At some point all of these items were placed in a box. In January 1994 the box was a plain shoebox. Some time after that, but before April 1998, a lot of watercolor items were drawn on it. "Nut Brown", etc.

      Below is a list of the items found in the box listed by relative age, if known, and who added the item, again if known. The box was surveyed on 19 April 1998. FAQ maintainer comments are in [ brackets ].

      • The Art of War, by Sun-Tzu. Added by Nicholas Breen (fr: 1996, president 1999).

      • The Prince, by Machiavelli. Added by Nicholas Breen (fr: 1996, president 1999).

      • Two paint grenades. Added by Eric Hale (Fr: 1996, president 1998).

      • Baseball signed "Marty" with two 8s written on opposing sides. Added by John "Marty" Allen (fr: 1994, grad: 1998, president 1997).

      • Undated Letter from the Residence Life and Master of Student Houses Office on their letterhead, presumably from spring 1996. Presumably added by Bill Penn (fr: 1993, grad 1998, President 1996)
                     One Free Favor
           The certificate allowes the Honnorable
           President of Blacker House to one free
           favor from the Residence Life Office at
           the California Institute of Technology
                  for the year 1996-1997.
        
                  <s> Kim D. West
                  Authorized Signature
        
           *This may _not_ be taken in conjunction with any activity
           deemed illegal, immoral, or just plain stupid.  Stupidity
           will be determined by the Pasadena Police and/or Fire
                                Department.
        
                         _Offer Expires January 1997_
        
        [ Presumably, this letter was viewed with suspicion and left unused. ]

      • Document of Rotation Pick Rules, undated, but presumably for fall 1997 [ Starting in the late 1990s, the IHC ruled that since pucking rules changed so often, only people going to picks were allowed to know them. ]

      • Magic 8 Ball. Added by Bill Penn.

      • Micky mouse Twirl Pop, added by Bill Penn.

      • Letter in envelope from Bill Penn to the next president.
           Blacker President,
              
               When you open the box of presidential
           trinkets and you come upon this lolly-pop
           please remember these things:
        
               You are a sucker:  If things become difficult,
           or people get restless, or any problem comes up that
           you would rather hid under your pillow than
           deal with, dont get upset with the people involved;
           things will workout, and you are the sucker who
           asked for the difficult job you have.
        
               The whole house is full of suckers:  When
           the time comes that you must make a difficult
           decision that could affect the whole house, be
           strong, be determined, and be faithfull to your
           decision.  If anyone complains or you start to
           feel bad about your decision, remember, those
           who complain are the suckers who elected you, to
           make the dicisions that you find best.
        
        
        
           <s> William C. Penn
              William C. Penn
              Blacker President
                   1996-1997
        


      • Small box with red granite figurine of Chinese origin. Box also has a chinese, unused, envalope with "Blacker gdbg Hovse" on it. Source unknown, but after Jan 1994 and before 1998. I think this is a gift from Alison Slemp (fr: 1992, grad: 1996, president 1995) since I know she visited China.

      • White round container labled "James A. Honnaker". A gift from James (fr: 1992, grad 1997, president 1994). He said it was a, "gift of himself". I.E., his own sperm.

      • Graduating Senior underload petition (printed on blue paper). Added between Jan 1994 and April 1998 by James Honnaker, Alison Slemp, Bill Penn or John Allen.

      • Box with "Mack's Earplugs". Source unknown, but added after Jan 1994 and before April 1998.

      • Guatemalan trouble dolls. Source unknown. Added after Jan 1994, and before April 1998.

      • Robert's Rules of Order, Revised. 75th anniversary edition. Added by Benjamin Smith (fr: 1989, grad 1994, President 1993). Has the written note inside the cover:
            Future Blacker Presidents,
               This is to show you what Blacker could
            be like if we had a Constitution.  Beware, 
            lest we be like the north Houses or Fleming.
            Hopefully, in the future, we can continue to be
            reasonable & operate without a Consitution.
                Good luck.
                  
                   <s> Benjamin Allan Smith
                   President
                   Dec '92 - Jan '94
        


      • "Scientific Progress goes 'boink'". A Calvin and Hobbes cartoon book by Bill Watterson. Added by Andrea Mejia (fr: 1988, grad 1992, president 1991) The inside cover has the inscription:
             To the Presidents of Blacker Hovse,
                  This is for after that really
               nasty house meeting, the day
               where you have six meetings
               with the dean, you finally
               figure out housing, and then
               have to get ready for five
               midterms the next day.  The
               crises will pass, and somehow
               you'll survive, but I hope this
               will help you laugh a bit.
               Best of luck, and believe in yourself.
        
        
                                    <s> Andrea Mejia
                                        1991-1992
        

        The back cover is chewed up in the bottom corner. The inside has the inscription:
             "Asriel!  Stop that!"
              Katy Quinn  '92-'92
        
        And a drawn picture of a cat. Katy (fr: 1989, grad: 1993) was president in 1992.

      • Plastic key ring with oversize plastic kiddie keys. Added by Cliff Kisor (fr: 1986, grad 1990, president 1989) because of lock trolling in Blacker.

      • A paperback copy of "The Mole" by Dan Sherman. c1977. John and Lynn Salmon (RAs Fall 1984 to Fall 1989) found the book and gave it to Peter Ashcroft (Fr: 1980) when he was president in 1985..

        The following items have and unknown source and existed in the box before January 1989:
        • Breast Doorbell buzzer. Basically a wall mounted, life size, rubber, female breast. If you pressed the nipple, a buzzer battery operated buzzer rang. By 1993 it had lots of ink stains. Eric Hale, president in 1998, cleaned it up.

        • New Testament, Psalms Proverbs. (Small green book).

        • Brown bow tie with dark red and white stripes.

        • Tueroz metal cigar case. Empty. From Havana, Cuba.

        • Cylidrical Bell. ~3 in tall, ~1 in diameter. Old in Jan 1990. Note that in the 1950s or 1960s there is a discussion on obtaining bells to annouce dinner to ring announcements since they no longer had glass cups. This, and the following two items, could be from that time. XXXXX

        • Brass bell, used to ring dress dinner. Normal bell shape, ~1 in dia, ~1 in high with ~1.5in handle. Old in Jan 1990.

        • Brass, ~1.5 in diameter cymbals. Marked "N 12". On a string. Old in 1990.

        • Key Ring with chinese characters and a single old key. The key is labled:
              Art Steel CO
               NY-NY
          

        • Acorn. Source unknown. I think it existed before Jan 1990.

  8. Who can ring glasses at dinner?
    • The President, to indicate the beginning of announcements.
    • Anyone the president designates as their replacement for that night for announcements
    • Failing the other two, the waiters may choose someone to start and run announcements
    • The BTE troll if, and only if, BTE is working.

  9. When can Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyrie" be safely played? Also wakeup songs for finals week.
      There are only 2 times that you can safely play "The Ride of the Valkyrie": Finals week and if you play the entire Ring cycle. If you play the Ride at any other time, anyone that can hear you playing it is fully empowered to attempt to throw you in the nearest shower after turning off the stereo. I have seen people using fire axes to chop through obstacles and using circular saws to cut through closets just to turn off that song. This is one of the few things that will whip Techers into a frenzy causing them to pretty much ignore all rules of civilized behavior.

      The reason for this is that the Ride is played at 7am every day of finals week, every term as loud as possible. The reasoning was explained to me as a freshman in 1990. At some point in time all or most finals were take home, 4 hours in duration, and due at noon. By playing the Ride at 7am as loud possible, it was a public service that made sure that everyone was up in time to take their finals in time. Afterwards they would and dash across campus at 11:55am (or later as epsilon goes to 0) to get them in by noon.

      When and where did the playing of the Ride start? In the 1957 Blacker Section of the Big T, the expansion of BME allowed Blacker "..to follow the ancient finals week custom of serenading the house with The Ride Of the Valkyies at seven in the morning..." This is the first mention in the Big T of the Ride after World War II. If a custom was "ancient" in a given year, then it had to predate any current member of the House. And it needed to be the established tradition across at least 2 genererations (ie older then the seniors when the current seniors were frosh). So I would guess that this tradition dates from at least 1949.

      The only other time that the Ride can be safely played is when one is listening to the entire Ring cycle. The theory is if if the listener can suffer through 3 or 4 German operas, then they get the few minutes of safely playing the Ride.

      By the fall of 1989, the tradition of playing the Ride had mutated a little. Not only was the Ride played at 7am, but the player could also play one long or two short songs of his or her choice immediately afterwards. These are called "Ride Chasers".

      Over time the Ride has gotten louder and louder. Complaints from guests at the Atheneum are not uncommon. Walker Aumann (fr: 1988, grad: 1993) and Noam Bernstein (fr: 1988, grad: 1992) had a stereo that routely broke 120 db at one meter and 90 db through a closed door. One day in 1990-1, Walker and Noam joined forces with Stuart Wagner and Frank Fillipantis (both Scurves from Ricketts) and they got 2 kilowatts of power on the roof of Firestone. It was loud. Luckily, the steroes were packed and gone long before the police arrived.

      The Ride is not played for Senior finals week 3rd term. During 3rd term 1987 Cliff Kisor (fr: 1986, grad 1990) thought that it would be a good idea to play the Ride for the Seniors. After the secound day of doing this, the BoC had a little talk with Cliff telling him to cease and desist, or else...

  10. Why are people tossed in showers? What occasions? What are the rules?
      In the old days (likely in the 1950s or 1960s) in the Houses, frosh initiations involved a lot of waterfights. So much water was used that the Administration banned it. (Legends have the reason being that there were concerns about damaging the foundations to the Hovses). This ban caused consternation with the upperclassmen as their plans to get frosh wet were thrwarted. However they realized that if they couldn't bring the water to the frosh, nothing was stopping them from bringing the frosh to the water. Enter the tradition of showering.

      Various rules and traditions have arisen around this holy rite.
        New frosh are immediately taken to the nearest shower and "baptised" into th e house. (And as of the 1990s were given a new, dry Blacker Hovse shirt).
        On one's birthday, one gets showered
        If one plays Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyrie" when it is not 7am during final's week or one has not played the entire Ring Cycle, one is showered after the Ride is silences.
        If you call a group of Moles "Wimps", that group may attempt to shower you, expecically when challenging the frosh at dinner.
        An upperclassman is sitting at an otherwise all-frosh table is considered to be having a birthday that day and may be showered; but only the frosh at the table may do the showering. As a note, the upperclassman who sites at an otherwise all frosh table has saved the frosh from a game of spin-the-bottle-and-see-who-get's-dumped, so showering your savior all the time might not be a good strategy.
        New Hovse officers are showered into office, or in the case of the president, they are taken to a larger body of water. If people are nice it is Milliken Pond or the Gene Pool by Beckman Institure. If they are not nice it is Baxter pond.

      Rules (as of the late 1980s and 1990s):
        If the showeree says "No", then everyone stops.
        Once you are in the shower room, stop struggling so that noone get's hurt.
        No headlocks or full nelsons at any time. (unlike in Fleming and Page)
        No intentionally damaging anyone.
        A group of guys cannot shower a girl, unless she gives them permission.
        A guy can attempt to "one-man" girl is she gives permission.
        A person must be wearing a dry shirt to be showered.

      A Hovse Tour is when a group decided that they want to sequentially shower a person in every shower in the Hovse. A supply of dry T-shirts must be available (see dry shirt rule.


  11. Why is there a Frosh project? (and what where they?)
  12. Why are projects called "gerbals"?"
      The Interhouse theme for 1988 started out as "Death". Blacker convinced campus that "Death" was their theme. Then at the last minute, Blacker switched to "Space Opera". Techers who showed up expecting "Death" got a surprise. Blacker thought this was amusing.

      The next year, 1989, many themes were suggested. Blacker ended up combining a lot of them. The final theme was "Dungeons and Dragons, Sadism and Machism, Catapults and Castles". One idea that had a loyal following was "Gerbals". The Gerbil proponents maintained that we could build a giant hab-a-trail and it would be cool. Tubes running everywhere with beer dispensers. This idea failed. But it was voted to use Gerbals as our cover story to confuse the rest of campus. Rich Zitola (fr: 1989, grad 1996) even build an 8 foot paper macheche Gerbil in the archway to Blacker Beach. The 8 foot tall maze that covered the courtyard helped in our disception. The other Houses kept incredulously asking, "you are really doing Gerbals???!!?!?" We'd point to the paper macheche and the maze and they'd wander off.

      Ever since, Blacker projects have been referred to as Gerbals...

  13. What is the Lounge Run?
      This is a long running traditional event that has been going on since at least the 1950s. Basically the frosh attempt to leave the lounge via the wooden door in the South East corner. The Upperclassmen try to prevent the frosh with "interesting and varied conversation". Very rarely do the frosh get out. (A total of 6 have escaped and become Saints in the Church and Hovse of Blacker (the two being one and inseparable). The first saint was Kitura Humphrey (fr: 1970, grad: 1976) in fall 1970. In the fall of 1975, Sai Wai Fu (Fr: 1975, Grad: 1979) and James Walseth (Fr: 1975, Grad: 1979) escaped. In the fall of 1993, Matthew "Tyson" Grant (Fr: 1993, Grad: 1997), Erik Wassinger (Fr: 1991, Grad: 1995) and Benjamin Lane (Fr: 1993, Grad: 1997). The interesting bit is that if we look farther back into the history of Blacker frosh initiations, the Frosh were only allowed to leave via the wooden door. Injuries significantly declined when referees were introduced in 1990.

  14. What is the Black Hand?
      Initially freshmen initiations included large water balloon wars. Someone got hurt and the wars were banned by the MOSH. In response the Master and his minions first appeared around 1970. After the frosh fail in the Lounge run, the stench of unworthy frosh wafts down to the master in his lair. Usually he is done with the frosh in a quick manner. Usually he is only interested in Frosh. Be grateful when Igor, Guntar or Helga is not coming for you. I'd say more, but the Master would not be happy and might take me again.

  15. Why do we say "Rutabaga, Rutabaga" at the end of announcements?
      Legend has it that in old movies, the extras said "Rutabega" to make background fill noise to simulate other conversations. In Blacker people would say "Rutabega" to fill the the silence between the end of announcements and the waiters opening the curtains. This tradition was in effect from at least 1989 to 1994. By 1997 it was long forgotten.

  16. What is Zoo Juice?
      Zoo juice is an alcoholic concoction invented by the members of Zoo Alley circa 1978. Legend has it, that the ingredients were that which happened to be in the Hovse Bar at the time. The ingredients include: Light Rum, Dark Rum, 151 proof rum, Meyers Rum, Triple Sec, Gallanno, Grenidine, Sprite, Sweet and Sour Mix, Pineapple Juice, and ice in a specific proportion. (Ask an upperclassman if you want to learn).

  17. What are 200/100/50 days and 1000 hours?
      These are Blacker Senior Class drinking events that correspond to 200 days, 100 days, 50 days and 1000 hours before graduation. The first known event was 100 days. The first reference to 100 days is associated with the graduating class of 1979. In this event the senior class of Blacker successfully attempted to drink 100 beers collectively in 24 hours.
      When it came time for the class of 1986, they thought that 100 days was too easy. So they made up 200 days: 200 beers in 24 hours. They were successful. Then when 100 days came around, it was 100 beers in 100 minutes. Rolling on their success they tried 50 beers in 50 seconds on 50 days. They also successfully attempted 1000 hours--1000 beers in the last 1000 hours before graduation. They were successful, though some people noticably gained weight.

      For 200 Days for the graduating class of 1991, Tommy's Burgers (mandatory chili) also counted.

      The empty beer bottles from 200, 100 and/or 50 days have been placed above the doors in the lounge. They last until someone decides to recycle them.

      In 2009, the Junior class (2011) decided to attempt a new event of 600 days. The rules was determined to be 600 mL of ethanol (with dilution ratio 12 oz of fluid per alcohol equivelentto be consumed by the class in 600 seconds. They suceeded wih 674 mL of ethanol products.

      Current interpretation:
        General Rules:
        1. Alcohol Equivalent: 12 oz beer = 6 oz wine == 1.5 oz hard alcohol
        2. Volume: must be 12 ozs of volume, so 1.5 oz + 10.5 oz water counts as 1 beer.
        3. Some years non-drinkers have been allowed to drink Root Beer instead.
        4. Some years people have drunk water to match up with other people drinking shots.
        5. To count towards the goal, one must be a member of Blacker (full or social) and either a senior or entered with or before the senior class and not graduated. On rare occasions (like 1997) a graduated Mole may be made and honorary senior and have their drinks count.
        6. Those that don't count towards the total are encouraged to drink sympathy beers with the seniors.
        7. 200 and 100 days are typically held in the library.
        8. 50 days is typically held in the courtyard.
        9. Official Blacker time is used. The lounge clock is official Blacker time, with the Library clock as a backup with the primary time is missing.
        200 days: 200 alcohol equivalents in 24 hours. Always a Monday from 00:00:00.1 to 23:59:59.9 Blacker time.
        100 days: 100 alcohol and volume equivalents in 100 minutes. Always a Wednesday from 22:20:00 to 23:59:59.9 Blacker time.
        50 days: 50 alcohol and volume equivalents. Always on a Thursday from 23:59:10 to 23:59:59.9 Blacker time.
      N/A = Not Applicable
      ... = Not Attempted
      (Blank) = Unknown
      Totals are are given in parens
      Y/N = Success/Failure

      Year 200 Days 100 Days 50 Days 1000 hours
      1979 N/A Attempted
      Success??
      N/A N/A
      1980 N/A Yes N/A N/A
      1981 N/A Yes (Tommy's
      Burgers)
      N/A N/A
      1982 N/A Yes (pints of
      ice cream)
      N/A N/A
      1983 N/A Yes N/A N/A
      1984 N/A Unknown N/A N/A
      1985 N/A Unknown N/A N/A
      1986 Yes Yes Yes Yes
      1987 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
      1988 No (~100)
      w/Jrs
      Unknown Unknown Unknown
      1989 Yes 100 No
      "fell short"
      Yes
      1990 Yes Yes No (48) Not attempted
      1991 No Yes No Not attempted
      1992 Yes Yes No (41) Not Attempted
      1993 No (132) No (82) No Not Attempted
      1994 No Yes No
      Unknown # short
      Not Attempted
      1995 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
      1996 Yes No No (12) Not Attempted
      1997 No (150) Yes No Not Attempted
      1998 No (~120) Not Attempted Not Attempted Not Attempted
      1999 No (~100??) Yes Unknown Not Attempted
      2000 Yes 204/28* No No Not Attempted
      2001 Yes 203.5
      & 80 sympathy
      Unknown Unknown Unknown
      2002 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
      2003 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
      2004 Yes, 214 Not Attempted Yes Not Attempted
      2005 Yes, over 200 No No, 43 No
      2006 Yes, 281 Yes Yes Yes, 1318
      2007 Yes, 230 Yes, ~125 No, 42 Yes, 1376 + 186 Sympathy
      2008 Yes, 234 Yes, 114 Yes, 55 Yes, 1067.5 + 700.5 sympathy
      2009 Yes, 200+ Yes, 103 No, 40 No, 632 + 109 sympathy
      2010 Yes, 200+ No, 77 No, 19 No, 935

        * For 200 days in fall 1999, the seniors permitted a whole variety of things to count. The full tallye is listed below

        CountItem
        16 Beer
        4 Kahlua & Milk
        5 Rum & Coke
        3 Rumballs
        25 Water
        22 Sodas
        10 Coffee, Tea
        12 Juice
        9 Unspecified Fluids
        1 Hot Chocolate
        1 100lbs of Monetary Theory Reading
        19 Cookies
        1 Peanut Butter Sandwiches
        3 Designated Driver Trips
        7 Flaming Emails
        6 Games of Nethack
        21 Games of Snood
        28 Physics Quizzes or Sets
        2 Major Faults Mapped
        5 Minor Faults Mapped
        1 Mud Cracks Mapped
        3 Times Wren was Propositioned

  18. What is/was beer crew?
      Beer Crew is a team sport in the 1950s in which the Houses competed. They would line up 5 people, use House beer steins, drink the beer seqeuntially and see which team could drink the beer fastest. This was usually done at barn dances. There was a trophy from the Acme Beer Company which looked like a keg on a pedestal. (Look in the 1990 Blacker section of the Big T for a photo). This sport died out. Around 1982 the trophy was re-discovered by Blacker and the sport revived.

      This time the sport consisted of 10 people with two 16 oz beers in front of them. The first one would drink, then second,..., to the tenth, the anchor, who would drink 2 beers in a row, then the ninth,..., and ending with the first. 10 seconds penalties for minor spillage and disqualification for major spillage. Blacker won that year.

      Blacker lost the next year, but won the following 6. The last win was in spring 1990 and was also the last official Beer crew. By this point in time, Beer Crew was an official Interhouse Sport with Interhouse points being awarded. ASCIT provided the kegs and the event was held on the Olive Walk. Blacker won with a time of 3:15. 2nd place was Fleming at just over 4 minutes. Some of the Blacker team members that year included: Chris Hurwitz (Fr: 1986, Grad: 1990), Eric Hassenzahl (Fr: 1986, Grad: 1990), Dan "Fru" Frumin (Fr: 1990, grad 1993), Mike Maxwell (Fr: 1989, Grad: 1992) (the anchor), John Salmon (the old RA), Joe Andrieu (Fr: 1990, Left: Summer 1994), and Benjamin Smith (Fr: 1989, Grad: 1994).

      DAPAC (the Drug and Alcohol Policy At Caltech) was implemented the following fall and Crew was banned. Since then there have been a number of crew Discobolus challenges and underground challenges.

      The Crew trophy sat on Blacker's mantle afterwards. Sometime in 1992 or 1993 it disappeared.

  19. What is a Tommy's Triple Threat?
      Tommy's is a burger chain in LA. The original stand is in Hollywood. Everything that Tommy's serves has chili on it. The Triple Threat is:
      1.Double Chili Cheeseburger, extra chili 2.Chili Dog, extra chili 3.Chili Tamale, extra chili, hold the tamale All eaten in one sitting and in less than an hour.

  20. What is the Hovse Slogan?
      During 1966 to 1970 it was: "Blacker Hovse for gracious living."
      By 1989 it was: "The Hovse of Gracious Living".

Page last modified 6 Oct 2010 FAQ author: Benjamin Smith (fr: 1989, grad 1994).
version: 2.1
Last modified: 17 January 2014, Copyright 2014
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