22 March 2008

Uncle Harvard's Largesse

(For some reason, this didn't post on Saturday when I wrote it...)

Back in Cambridge for a few days this week, researching and getting into a small amount of trouble with S. So far we've gotten to eat at some of our favorite restaurants here in town, hear our favorite Irish music played by Mr. Ronan Quinn, and receive what were in fact too many free drinks (as in, we left several of them sitting on the table untouched because we were pretty far gone already by then). Tonight we will partake of 80s night at the Phoenix, though it looks like most of the Irish carpenter community has fled the dying dollar to return to the Celtic tiger. But the thing that's really defined this trip has been the reminder of the kind of bounty you get at this type of institution. Particularly the law school. It did not train us well for how humanities programs are treated in the rest of the academy.

Example 1: The copy center, where you (or the guy who wanders in looking for a bathroom and decides he wants some expensive readings on jurisprudence) can pick up for free the coursepacks for all your courses and anything else that looks interesting. They photocopy it for you, bind it, stack it on a counter and you just walk by and get it. Like socialism.

Example 2: The coffee. Every day, even though you are kind of a nobody, just a student, some people show up and make a fuss about fixing free hot coffee for you and your classmates. The free gourmet food which is around and available 90% of the time is just an added perk.

Example 3: The quarters. In Special Collections at the Law Library, they have lockers for you to put your stuff, lockers that charge you a quarter to open them. Except that Harvard provides the quarter. They all already have quarters in the slot for you, ready to go. Of course.

Example 4: The alcohol. Constant, constant free alcohol. At a minimum, weekly free happy hours, and, more often, parties sponsored by firms with free-flowing top-shelf tequila or whatever the party theme dictates.

Example 5: The ice skating rink. They actually build an ice-skating rink outside the law school commons building every winter. With skates provided, of course.

The main thing we've noticed being back in this nest of free crap is that most of the stuff provided by Uncle H is of the luxury or convenience variety -- tunnels to keep you cozy walking between classes in winter, free shuttles to drive you all around in the evening, fancy snacks and wine at the most menial of club or classroom gatherings. None of it is essential, because people here are assumed to not need such things. It just goes to prove that the rich just get more and nicer free stuff, while the poor don't even get access to basic life necessities. Ultimately, HLS' brand of socialism made us both a little sick, even as we simultaneously took advantage of it. It's a love/hate relationship, definitely.

14 March 2008

Stuff Made While Sick (And Shortly Thereafter)

I call it Scarfy. I taught myself how to cast on, bind off, and make the fringe (previous knitting projects have required much assistance from the wise A.). Plus, pink! And alpaca, so super-duper soft.

Glitter eggs. Thanks, Martha.

I am currently obsessed with making pysanky. Partly this is because no other crafty-folk seem to make them, so I feel a little more cutting edge than when I copy something Martha did (not that I don't like to do that regularly). Partly it's because my Mom used to make them, really elaborate ones with tiny woodland scenes of deer on them. Yeah, I'm not there yet, but I like this site as visual inspiration. I won't even tell you how long the two below took to make.

We learned to make tamales last weekend (the tamales were made when we were all no longer sick, of course), and produced probably over a hundred with three different kinds of fillings and fresh tomatillo salsa. Awesome! And they are actually all gone now, that's how yummy they were. Not as hard to make as I'd thought, though they are definitely a team production.

Finally, not anything I made, but I enjoyed this bit of news. Yes, extreme wealth is a mortal sin. Thanks for that.

04 March 2008

Check it Out

Go here -- it's hilarious. Though to be fair, it's really about upper-middle-class, overeducated (white) people. The description of NPR-listening, "This American Life" fans particularly kills me. It's good to be reminded of how absurd and privileged many of my preferences are.

01 March 2008

My Student's Paper Title Can Beat Up Your Student's Paper Title

"Dude, It's Her Vagina, She Can Do What She Wants With It."

Need I say more? One of "hidden" joys of teaching a women's history class. I'm going to go for some serious entertainment and apply to be the instructor for the women's studies 101 class next year. Imagine the possible essays. (S., you don't have to imagine, you lived it!)

I haven't blogged in quite a while (Florida? When did I go there?), but I blame this wicked flu I've had for the past forever. I don't usually get sick, when I do it's usually just a cold or something brief and passing, so I was fairly unprepared for five days of fever, chills and hacking. Now I've just had an additional week of "just" hacking and fatigue that followed, which frankly is working my last nerve, but I'll take it to have the fever gone and finally be feeling a little more like my human self again. As E points out, it's the constant little kitten coughs that drive you batty, because they sound mild enough that you and those around you assume you should be able to hold them in. Except you can't, or else you end up in some sort of kitten-coughing fit, which is just ridiculous. I've reached the point of taking herbal tinctures and thinking my mom may be right when she claims red hair has given me a weakened immune system. No, wait, what? That's not right. The herbal tinctures must be interacting with one another.

On a brighter, less whiny note, I had the pleasure of at least getting sick in excellent company -- my fantastic friend S. was visiting from her current perch at the feet of this demigoddess in SF. Of course, we managed to give her some NW hospitality, including the flu, inappropriately racialized comments at John Henry's (every time!), and lots of midget hippie boys pot-staring at us as we drove around and thinking, in S' imagination: "Dude, your car's really weighing you down!" These are clearly the kind of hippies who share a lot in common with the student who wrote this week's prize-winning paper title. It was, in all seriousness, an amazing visit with one of my favorite people in the entire world, followed by my accompanying her back to SF for two days. Since we both had the flu at that point, our needs were met by some basic lying around, knitting, sipping delicious "tonic" and playing Rock Band with R. & J., whom I finally, happily got to meet and get in hilarious arguments with about the apocalypse. (And now I get to congratulate them both on the engagement that just transpired this weekend! Congrats!)

I've seen San Francisco before, so I was happy just to get to see my friends, sick or no, and be introduced to this Rock Band game. Let's just say we rocked the Clash, among others. And we managed to make it out one day to go to Alcatraz, which was fascinating and well worth it, flu and all. We are now starting a "Bring Back Alcatraz" club, email for T-shirts. Honestly, compared to our modern prisons... My favorite thing of all about it was Rule #5 from the prison handbook, which I actually bought in magnet form: "You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter and medical attention. Anything else you receive is a privilege." Wait, I have a right to that stuff? Seriously?