Posted by: bkropf | October 24, 2007

Bring Your Sword to Beaver Falls

I suspect the vast majority of people around me believe I am some form of terrorist. Understandably, I look a little suspicious entering the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning wearing a black hoody, looking nervous from the sweat on my brow from lugging all my belongings up a flight of stairs, not to mention the fact I left all my baggage hidden by a large load bearing pillar.

Beaver Falls, where do I start? It was perfectly dilapidated. Jenn and I drove west from Pittsburgh about 40 minutes through some colorful vistas of trees and hills to this small little town on the banks of the Beaver River. The town population used to hover around 50,000 in the steel heyday. Over the past decades however, the population has been declining to the present 9,000. Rumor has it you can purchase a house for $30,000 if you are in the market. We took a 20 minute walking tour of the town. This entailed walking past a bunch of boarded up buildings on the main street. We did find some ‘thrift stores’ open which were purveyors of the towns discarded waste. We spent some time perusing the goods and laughing.  

The Geneva College campus where Jenn works is not bad though. It was very quaint. We chatted for a while catching up and then took a tour of campus, strategically at 3:30pm. This is when the Dagorhir meet for battle. Nerds from all over campus leave their computers for a period of an hour, grab their swords and meet in the campus grass for some form of competition. An older man, his Dagorhir name is ‘old man,’ comes to campus for these exhibitions and annihilates the students in combat. He was so funny, he had a large beard, an Indiana Jones style hat, coupled with Batman’s belt of tools. Jenn and I watched the battle rage for a while videoing and taking pictures while others on campus walked by watching the proceedings. It was funny to see the people’s reaction to the fighting as they walked by.  Oddly enough, people seemed to believe it to be normal for the most part.

After the tour we went to the cafeteria for dinner and sat next to a bunch of sweaty swordsmen. It was fun to be back on a college campus again and see all the funny happenings. Made me miss my old days at SPU.

After dinner we talked with some people and went out with Travis, Jenn’s coworker, to a local pub. They had the best wings I had ever had. Unfortunately when I went to order mine, the wings were ‘on hold’ because they were counting how many they had left. We never found out the final count because we left for another place to get wings. Sitting down it was a little awkward because I was directly facing a lady in the next booth.  She was weeping. How am I to respond when I am only about ten feet away, right in her face. I just mouthed the words to her, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” I think she got my drift and felt a little better. We got there at 10:05 and the kitchen closed at 10pm so we ended up returning to campus to watch the Bachelor.

Have no fear, for the record I still do not endorse the Bachelor. With that said, my two favorites Jen and Brettina are still in the running with only 4 left, however, I have a bad feeling Brettina is going next week. Too bad.

One thing you need to know about me is that I consider myself a nerd. First of all, I am not cool, not proficient at sports, I can be somewhat shy and socially awkward at times. I tend to like chess, physics, reading books like Brief History of Space and Time by Steven Hawkings (very good book) and sometimes I like to wear my same green shirt for every family gathering. With that said, I try to hide it in some situations: work, meeting women, and any other interaction with humans. With this in the open, I find I have a strange affinity and affection for nerds. I don’t know what it is, but I loved watching those kids sword-fight [maybe it was because my little brother Ben and I used to manufacture weapons on the farm and fight]. I loved watching two nerds interact on the train in Chicago as their excitement grew entering the city with high hopes. Here is why I like nerds, they are not pretentious and accept others as they are, they do what they enjoy instead of doing what others think is cool, they are cool in their own way and often are wildly successful in life

I ‘helped’ a blind guy the other day but was such an idiot about it. The man was traveling with his son in the subway station. I knew he was blind because he asked me, a tourist, for directions.  I must have forgotten he couldn’t see because he asked which side of the platform to stand on and I pointed and said, “Over there.” He then asked his son where I pointed and walked off, while my head was in my hands.

Tip learned in Beaver Falls (and Ogden) for the future, women do not like to be called chicks. Seems to be ‘derogatory.’

Goals for the day: Find a computer so I can post this entry, wander around in the rain trying to find somewhere dry to read, find the ‘T’ and take it south to South Hills Village to meet John, a high school buddy.

Travel Tip for the Day: Instead of carrying maps of the city around and looking like a tourist, take a picture of the map.  Then if you get lost, you can zoom in on the picture in the view finder to see where you need to turn.  No clumsy maps this way.



  1. You didn’t learn not to call women chicks in beaver Falls, you learned it in ogden! I repeatedly corrected you on that! Come on Barney, give me some credit!
    P.S. The sword fighting people are called Dagorhir and I watched them in Beaver Falls too. You should check out their website … pretty interesting stuff!

  2. That’s a good travel tip and has saved my butt a lot in Europe.

    Brettina needs to go… she’s hiding a dark side.


  3. I love your thoughts on nerds….I agree. They are cool because they do what they enjoy and don’t care. I don’t really understand about the sword fighting. Is this just something they do there or is it a whole movement?

  4. I personally hope it is a movement. I’m going to get on board if it hits the Pacific NW.

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