“Wake up frosh! It’s Ditch Day!”
That cry, combined with the pounding of fists upon doors as seniors run down the halls, still elicits excitement in me now – 3 years after I graduated. It signals the beginning of Ditch Day, the most magical day of the year at Caltech.
I’ve written a short description of Ditch Day, but I’ve been inspired by Ilya’s detailed chronicle of his stack (still ongoing.) This diversion will be part story and part ‘look at these cool things!’
T-minus 4 years to T-minus 9 Months:
When I first arrived at Caltech, I didn’t get what Ditch Day was, even after the concept had been explained to me. For the record, this is a common characteristic of almost all Caltech undergrad culture. I got just a taste of what Ditch Day during my first term at tech, when I was fully fooled (gullible frosh) by a fake Ditch Day – “huh” I thought, “I had heard that Ditch Day normally was third term, but I guess they like to keep us on our toes and change it up every few years.” A few awesome puzzles and a note to go back to bed whetted my appetite for the real thing.
And boy, were my expectations met.
I went on an Indiana Jones themed stack that involved deciphering a coded language, traversing a 3-D maze, finding a location by shining a light from the top of a staff, and an eight-course dinner to cap it off.
From then on, for the next three years (and after!), my brain was always whirring with possible puzzles, clues, and generally awesome things that could be used for a stack. In my heart lay the burning desire to make an epic stack, the likes of which had never been seen.
(Or at lest a really good stack, but if you’re going to shoot for epic, you have to frame the desire epically.)
To be continued….