September 30, 2009

Pomp and Paperwork

I'd like to go on to graduate school. Today, I realized that I intend to graduate next May, so perhaps I'd better look into the process.

In essence, I need to take the GRE Real Soon Now, line up three letters of recommendation, and not least of all, figure out which universities to apply to.

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September 28, 2009

The Roman Holiday Is Coming to an End

In the news this week, I read with some pleasure of the arrest of Roman Polanski by Swiss authorities. An Associated Press story yesterday quoted the Swiss Directors' Association as saying his arrest was “not only a grotesque farce of justice, but also an immense cultural scandal.” I concur. It is indeed a grotesque that a man could drug a 13-year old girl, rape her, and escape his just punishment for decades, while enjoying a lucrative public career in a nation that claims to follow the canons of civilization.

The same AP article quoted the French Culture Minister, who said that France's Prime Minister “is following the case with great attention and shares the minister's hope that the situation can be quickly resolved.” I also have a hope: that Mr. Polanski be quickly extradited to the United States, to serve his sentence for the crimes originally committed, and be tried as well for his flight from justice.

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H1N1 Part 2

I was feverish from Wednesday through Saturday, but Sunday I began feeling better. Today, I'm back up to about 80% capacity, which I hope is good enough. We had no classes today for Rosh Hashanah; the three-day weekend to recover was a stroke of luck.

The weather today is brutal. We've got a High Wind Advisory with gusts greater than 50 mph, and a Coastal Flood Watch, as the winds can push the Great Lake's water to one end, kind of like sloshing around in a tub. Thunderstorm cells have been rolling through; a friend that lives ten miles to the west got hail. None of that here, though. Which is a pity, because I'd like to gather it up and use it in my ice-cream machine, just for amusement's sake.

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September 24, 2009


I'm sick with the flu now, I started feeling bad Wednesday. I've only missed one class*, as most of my classes have mandatory attendance policies. Which means I was spreading around my germs. But I respond to incentives.

* I was also late to class this morning. It normally takes a half hour to walk to that class, but I had to take two rest breaks on the way, which nearly doubled my time. I am embarassed to admit that, even with illness as an excuse.

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September 21, 2009

Deutsch ist schwierig.

Academic work is grinding and cheerless. For homework, I had to translate the following German audio:

Sadly, the beginning and end of that is cut off, because it was part of a movie. Here's the whole thing, minus the video:

To be clear, I didn't have to translate from listening, we were provided the lyrics, to wit:

Ich esse gerne Sauerkraut und tanze gerne Polka.
Und meine Braut heißt Edeltraud, sie denkt genau wie ich.
Sie kocht am besten Sauerkraut und tanzt am besten Polka.
Deshalb ist auch die Edeltraud die beste Braut für mich.

Ich sing' die Sauerkraut-Polka, die Sauerkraut-Polka Tag und Nacht,
Ich sing' die Sauerkraut-Polka, weil sauer lustig macht.
Ich sing' die Sauerkraut-Polka und sage laut:
Ich bin nur für Sauerkraut und meine Braut gebaut.

Ich esse gerne Sauerkraut.....

Wenn ich im Gasthaus warte und hungrig bin,
leg' ich trotzdem die Karte gleich wieder hin.
Ich brauch' nicht nachzudenken, ich kenn' mein Ziel.
Ich sage dem Ober gleich, was ich will:

Ich esse gerne Sauerkraut......

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September 17, 2009

Starving Student Special

Here at UB we have an Asian Studies Program. It's related to history, as Asian Studies is basically a combination of history of Asian nations or peoples, combined with study of their languages and current organization. Note that it's distinct from Asian-American Studies, which tends to be about the immigrant experience in America.

Anyway, I am now tangentally involved with the program, in that the Modern History of Korea class I'm taking is cross-listed in the program, and the professor teaching it is a member of the Program, instead of the History Department.

What the hell's the difference between a Department and a Program? Money, prestige, and administrators.

Anyway, UB is considering elevating the AS Program into a full Department. As part of their consideration, a couple of professors from schools eminent in the AS field are visiting UB and talking to the profs, the administration, and the students. Which is where I come in.

The visitors wanted to talk to current students in the program, but also current students taking classes in the program but that are members of other departments. Free lunch was offered as an inducement. I have a nice long lunch break of Thursdays, so I was all over this.

It turned out to be a nice informal chat. We met in a conference room, two visiting professors and six undergrads. (The session with grad students was later). It wasn't a rubber-stamp kind of thing, where they were here to say "Yes, there should be a full department." We talked about the ups and the downs of program elevation. (Upside: prestige, money, internal advocacy. Downside: paperwork, wasted money, somewhat more difficult to maintain interdisciplinary character.)

There were lots of burritos left over when we wrapped up. Someone had a nice afternoon snack.

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September 13, 2009

Cute Overload

I've been really busy recently, and neglecting my blog. Then, I watched a video to unwind: a video of a blowfly larvae being removed from someone's scalp. That's going to haunt my dreams for a while! The following video is the antidote.


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September 10, 2009

Stabby Stabby

I spent last weekend in the town of Town of Brutus, NY. I am glad it was not the middle of the month.

Also, while there I ate much delicious food, so while my look may have been lean, it was not hungry.

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September 03, 2009

Soothe the Savage Breast

This evening was the first rehersal for University Chorus. The concert will be on December 10th at 8 PM, feel free to mark your calendars.

I was apprehensive, as I've not read music in several years, nor performed outside the shower. I got to the rehersal room, was surprised to see a friend I didn't know sang, and was pleased at the large number of other men there.

When we started, I initially decided I was going to be quiet and follow along until I recovered my musical chops. I abandoned that plan after 30 seconds, the time it took me to realize that no one in the bass section had any chops whatsoever. Sure, it's a non-audition, open-to-the-community choir, but I've been in it some years where we were really excellent. I was with a subset of the choir that sang in Carnegie Frelling Hall. This year? Not good.

So I sang out lustily, to give the others someone to follow. I did OK I think, except for some reason I am currently incapable of producing an ascending fourth interval. That is not a skill I expected to have lost. It caused me much embarassment as I led the section off-track, but hell, when I tried not leading them off-track, no one lead them at all, and the other guys mumbled themselves into silence. I believe in being wrong loudly and proudly, rather than being to scared to step up.

But hey, don't let my criticism discourage you! We've got a good conductor, I am confident he'll whip us into shape by the time December 10th rolls around.

In non-choir related news, I have now purchased all but one of the books I'll need this semester. The sum total was $512, exactly $32 per credit hour. When I break it down that way, I feel less depressed about it.

Amusingly, at the bookstore, a clerk came and offered to give me a hand. We fell to conversing, and it turned out he is a freshman planning on being a history major. He helped me grab the ten books required for one particular class, then became distressed when he realized that all ten books were, in fact, for a single class. I assured him that one learns to read them faster with practice. He still looked a little nervous as I left.

UPDATE: The new GI Bill contains a book stipend, currently worth $41.67 per credit hour. I'm coming out ahead on books, woo hoo!

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September 02, 2009

T Minus Two Semesters

I got my schedule finalized today, hooray! I had to drop an interesting class with a good lecturer in favor of a boring class with a mediocre lecturer, because the boring class is necessary. Bah.

Anyway, I'm at 16 credits, and will have to take 15 credits next semester to graduate. That's why I'm "only" at 16; sure, I could take another class and get to 19, but then I'd have less to do in the spring. And keeping my hours down means I can spend more time on each class.

For the curious (Hi Mom and Dad!) I'm taking Victorian History [satisfies "modern history" requirement], Modern Korean History [satisfies "Asian/African/Latin American" requirement], German 101, and a seminar in Historiography. Also University Chorus, just because.

Next semester I'll take German 102, another seminar (maybe, it might not be needed), and two other upper-division history classes. And then I walk.

Of course, I need to pass everything first. Mustn't count my metaphorical chickens et cetera.

Also, Thursdays are going to be a bit strange, because I have one class that ends at 11 AM, and my next class starts at 6 PM. I don't forsee myself staying on campus that entire time.

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