October 28, 2011

Cuteness Overload

After my morning class today, I went to the Student Union for lunch. The Union has a bunch of service offices for students that need things. (The ID card office, Student Medical Insurance office, Wellness Education Center, campus events Box Office, etc.) The offices had all decorated for Halloween, and the staff (professional and work-study students) all put on costumes. Students were encouraged to vote for the best decorated office and best costumed staff, I presume the winners would earn a prize.

I had a fun discussion with a wicked witch, who was trying to get a posse together to hunt down an illegal immigrant who murdered the first person she met when she crossed the border, and then stole the shoes off her victim's feet. Tragic, really.

But what really made the day was the kids. The on-campus Early Childhood Development Center (it's basically a research pre-school) had all their kids in costumes, trooping through the Union collecting candy. They were enormously adorable. Plus they kind of "classed up the joint" as most of the college students also thought they were adorable, so there was much oohing and cooing.

I've been invited to a horde of Halloween parties this year. I don't know how many I'll be going to, but at least I've got a costume together– I'm going as Al Bundy while Hil is Peggy Bundy. Most of the undergraduates have probably never seen that show.

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October 23, 2011

Tim Burton's Next Movie

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October 22, 2011

Gee, Thanks

My Wednesday evening seminar this semester is on "Twentieth Century German History" and the professor was born and raised in Germany. This is satisfying, because having a professor with a German accent is pretty much a stereotype of college movies, and he's the first one I've had.

Anyway, last class I wasn't too happy at the end of it, because I said something kind of stupid early on in class. We'd read a book called The Origins of the Nazi Genocide, which was about the eugenics euthanasia program that the Nazis instituted well before they started systematically executing Jews. The blind, the retarded, the crippled, and the insane were hauled off and executed secretly, and it was on them that the techniques of industrialized killing were developed (e.g. gas chambers, mass crematoriums, etc.) The book also talks about the extent to which the Jewish Holocaust has outweighed the Nazi's systematic killing of Gypsies.

Anyway, in seminar discussion, I made a minor point, forgetting that the book had pretty much demonstrated the opposite point. And the book's evidence for that point was on the book cover. Whoops!

Later, though, I kind of redeemed myself by making some good points about the other books we'd read for that week, The Reader. The end of class was people volunteering what topic they had in mind for term papers; after most of the class suggested interesting things, I had to confess that I was just thinking that doing something on WWI might be interesting, as the class had spent almost no time on it.

As class was let out, the professor called me aside. I was expecting to get criticized for showing my ass in the beginning on the point of fact– while I had read the book, my slip of memory had made it look like I hadn't. Instead, the professor said "I know you're enrolled in the Master's program. Have you considered seeking a doctorate?" As I'm still pondering that decision, having another professor suggest it was certainly a point in favor.

Then the next day, he sent me an email suggesting a few books I could read over the weekend to get a more solid idea for a paper topic. Friday I picked up the four books, which total 1900 pages. Hmmm. I already have plenty of other work, of course. I think a skim is the best I will manage before I meet the professor on Tuesday.

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October 12, 2011

I Am Very Flattered

I've been invited to give a Veteran's Day presentation at the Park School in Buffalo, which is a very reputable private K-12 school. I'd better make it a good presentation! I have no idea how long I'd be talking, if there are other speakers, which kids I'll be talking to, etc; I need to call them back tomorrow. I'm just very flattered to be invited. (I was recommended by one of my professors.)

UPDATE: I just talked to them. I'll be the sole presenter, for an hour program (40 minutes talking, 20 minutes of questions). It's a monthly series called "Walks of Life", where the try to expose their 9-12 graders to people with life experiences unfamiliar to the students. The last one was three refugees from a local resettlement center. I guess I'll be talking about what it means to be a Marine, what war is like, what other countries are like, and what it's like to reintegrate into society as a veteran.

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October 08, 2011

Steve & Lacey Get Hitched

Last weekend Hil and I went to the wedding of our friends Steve N. and Lacey J. Really, Steve is a friend to both of us, but I barely know Lacey, so the invitation was to Hilary and I was the "and guest."

The wedding was on Sunday afternoon at a banquet hall, on a weekend when the Buffalo Bills were trying to go 4-0. Note that before the NFL season began, the consensus was that the Bills would win two games all year. The week prior, the Bills beat the New England Patriots, who were pre-season favorites to go to the Super Bowl, ending a 13-game losing streak in the rivalry. (The Bills last beat the Pats in 1999.) So what I'm saying is, pretty much everyone in Buffalo was crammed into Ralph Wilson Stadium or watching the TV at home at 3 PM on Sunday. We were joking about exactly how easy it must have been to reserve the hall.

At any rate, getting dressed into our formal best always takes longer than expected, plus we decided at the last moment that the gift needed rewrapped. So we left with just enough time to make it for the 3 PM start time.

Until, on the drive down, I took a right when I should have taken a left. Whoops! We ended up arriving at the site at about 3:05, and as the couple actually started exactly on time, we ended up standing in the back of the room. I had dropped off Hil at the door and went off to park (it was raining, so I wanted to spare her getting wet), so I even missed the procession of the wedding party and the march of the groom. I did get inside before the bride made her appearance, though. And there were a good dozen of us late arrivals standing in the back, perhaps 10% of the whole crowd, so we didn't stand out too badly.

The minister wasn't very good, as he had a very strange speaking style. As he read the service, he placed vocal emphasis in very strange places and on inappropriate words. The text itself was fine, though. The groom and bride spoke their own vows, and as the newly married couple had their kiss, a single tear trickled down my friend Iggy's craggy cheek. Iggy's wife was thrilled that his stony heart had melted to the romance. The truth is, he'd been watching his smartphone, and as the bride said "I do" the Cincinnati Bengals kicked a field goal with four seconds left to seal the Bills's first loss of the year.

After the ceremony an open bar opened up, and all the young people in attendance stampeded over to whet their whistles. Hors d'oeuvre began coming out, and after an hour it was reception dinner time. The food was quite good. Hil was seated to my right, of course, but to my left was seated a girl getting the only vegetarian meal that had been requested. We joked that the kitchen probably didn't actually make it themselves, they just sent the bus boy off to a restaurant somewhere to get it as takeout.

Then came dancing, naturally. I did much more dancing than I normally do at weddings. Perhaps as I get older I don't care about my dignity as much. Or perhaps because there wasn't any family there, I didn't feel as self-conscious? I dunno. Hil did more dancing than I did anyway.

The it was garter time. The garter landed well short of the assembled gentlemen, and my friend Marc S. was the closest one, so he picked it up. Next was the bouquet toss. Once again, it landed well short. The closest person was… Hil.

So we had the spectacle of Marc putting the garter on Hil, while Marc's girlfriend and I gave comic glares. In a twist that was new to me, as soon as he was finished installing the garter, the DJ had Marc sit down, Hil take off the garter, and she put it on him! "Just as high as he put it on you!" The crowd was in stitches, as men's suit trouser legs are tailed tightly enough to be difficult to pull up very high.

In a final note, I may be the first person to have applied Godwin's Law to a wedding. I brought along a copy of Hitler and the Fall of Weimar Germany because my readings for school are never done. Sorry, Steve and Lacey! And best wishes to the both of you!

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