The Barn

[There are photos at the end of this post – if you’re too busy to read, scroll down before you leave]

Now that I’m in my last semester of just over 5 years of a Bachelor Degree at UBC, I have met my fair share of people over the years who I might refer to as ‘informers.’ Through these people I keep abreast of the goings-on of campus, things like parties, beer gardens, political gossip/scandals, random UBC trivia, etc. A couple of days ago, I received an email from a particularly interesting individual who has twice before given me very interesting information. I only just got around now to processing the info he sent me, as this is by far the most academically intense week of my entire degree: 4 midterm exams, 2 term papers, 1 position paper, 1 presentation, 1 long assignment, 2 grad school applications to finish, and the usual shifts at work. But I digress.

I was emailed by a guy I met last year at a beer garden. He saw my website a while back and this is now the third time he has sent me something to post. He sent a number of photos and with a brief explanation, so I have once again agreed to post the photos and paraphrase his email.

On February 16th, the new AMS (student society) President, Jeff Friedrich, took over from outgoing President Kevin Keystone. On the first day back from Reading Break, February 26th, Jeff walked into his new office to find a rather unique architectural structure had suddenly appeared. My informer sent me photos of the actual process that was undertaken to build the structure, and as far as I know I am the first person given permission to post these photos. Rumour has it that one or more of them *may* also be reprinted in the 432 next week, UBC’s Science Undergraduate Society newspaper.

On two prior occasions I have received photos of organized activities which all seem to link back to one thing: a black hand. If we should believe the rumours, the hand is supposedly the symbol of some shady group referred to as The Black Hand. No one seems to know anything about this group, or is willing to talk at least, and no one seems to even be able to tell me whether the monicker is the group’s real name. It appears as though the label has just been given to this nebulous group based on their call sign. The two previous examples of this group’s impressive work are still up in my website archives:

A man’s office is his castle

One commonality between the Castle left in the AMS President’s office last year for Kevin Keystone when he arrived and the newly built barn is the small red E added to the black hand logo. UBC students will quickly recognize this E as the symbol of the UBC Engineers, well known for their clever pranks including hanging a VW Bug off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in 2002 (click here for that story). My connections in the Engineering Undergraduate Society claim to have no knowledge of these events, and they sure keep a straight face when telling me, so I don’t know whether to believe them or not. I guess for now I’ll have to keep on wondering.

And now, for the photos:


As a well-connected student at UBC (you’re welcome to disagree), I have become acquainted with a number of people over the years who I might refer to as ‘informers.’ Now in my 5th year of university, I get fairly frequent bits of insider information into the secret goings-on of this campus from these informers. Today is one of those days.

This morning I was emailed by a guy I met last year at a beer garden. He’s seen my website before and told me he had something to post. He attached several photos and explained a little story, so I’ve decided to post the photos he sent me and paraphrase his email.

Essentially, someone went to the UBC Alma Mater Society (Student Government) Vice President Finance’s Office in the Student Union Building and decided to give her a birthday present. She (Sophia Haque) turned 22 on Friday, and this is what someone did:

As you can see, there is a significant quantity of aluminum foil in the office.

They covered the walls, the desk, the computer, the phone, individual books and even the thumbtacks on the bulletin board! Apparently, they also completely rotated the room, moving the desk, couch, chairs, fridge, and filing cabinet to new spots.

They even did the ceiling – the VP Finance office now looks more like the VP Interior Design office.

This note was left on the desk. It’s rather mysterious. Some of you may remember a castle appearing in AMS President Kevin Keystone’s office last February, with a large black hand painted on it (see here for the photos). Incidentally, it was the same informer who sent me those photos… coincidence? Note the plate in the upper right-hand corner with fork, knife, and spoon all individually foiled. My ‘informer’ told me there’s still old salsa and sour cream on the plate!

I’m still trying to figure out what this ‘Black Hand’ is… having checked the AMS Clubs list, I’ve decided it’s not a club. Wikipedia has a listing for it, but it takes you to the UBC page which has no mention of the Black Hand.

This leads me to believe that what I assume is some sort of organized group is trying hard to maintain its secrecy by removing all online references. Yet, having received these photos and permission to publish them, I wonder what their true intentions really are.

A Man’s *Office* Is His Castle

This morning I was emailed by a guy I met a few weeks ago at a beer garden. He’s seen my website before and told me he had something to post. He attached several photos and explained a little story, so I’ve decided to post the photos he sent me and paraphrase his email. He requested that I not name him, and that’s a good thing cuz I only know his nickname anyways! :-D He has blacked himself and his friend out in a couple of photos, for obvious reasons.

Essentially, some people went to the UBC Alma Mater Society (Student Government) President’s Office in the SUB and decided to have a bit of fun with the incoming president. The old president, Spencer Keys, was to hand over power to the president-elect, Kevin Keystone, on Monday.

Apparently there is a tradition of welcoming new presidents to the office, and this year was no different. Someone decided to build a castle in the president’s office, and so a castle was built out of bricks and mortar.

The foundation was laid and row upon row of bricks were stacked with mortar to hold them together. It seems they didn’t do as good a job as a trained bricklayer, but from these pics it’s still fairly impressive. The middle stack – a buttress if I dare call it that – is quite interesting.

What really makes the buttress stand out, I think, is the sailor that has been mortared onto the top. Quite a nice touch.

When the castle had been built, the individuals involved proceeded to paint a large black hand and a small red E on the castle. The small red E symolizes the Engineering Faculty, which seems to have been involved in this endeavour. The symbolism of a black hand, however, is unknown.

Here’s a pic of the sailor from close up.

The masons left this message-on-a-brick for the incoming president, which explains some things a bit:

The black hand reference is still rather mystifying – is it one UBC’s clubs? Possibly the bricklaying or pottery club’s nickname?

I also received this photo, spliced together it seems, from two photos. It shows the perspective from the president’s desk. Sort of a fisheye effect, nifty.

I must say I’m impressed. In the photos, judging by the height of the corner towers (turrets?) in relation to the ceiling, I would guess their height to be a bit over 6 feet or so. The buttress with sailor is definitely my favourite feature. It must have taken quite some coordination and effort to carry this prank out.

The one real question I have, however, is: what does Kevin Keystone, the new UBC AMS President, think of his new office?