Saturday, August 30, 2008


  • Driving into the mysterious black box.
  • Epoxy: no gloves!
  • Best factory job ever: Corvette assembly plant.
  • A cricket as big as your head.
  • Bats and more bats.
  • Illusions in the dark.
  • Fat man's misery: conquered.
  • Fire tower: conquered.
  • Zen through sleeping.
  • Rooster in the cave.
  • Mock pit crew competition.
  • The smell of lantern smoke.
  • Deer, pigs, wild turkeys, mouse, crickets, bats, snake.
  • Pig at Pig.
  • Tuberculosis and saltpeter.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Flashcard Exchange must be the best site on earth. It must be.

Monday, August 18, 2008

By Popular Demand

Or, at least by request of my wife. Noting that this blog is only good for helping us answer questions like, "How long ago did we visit that lava tube in Oregon?" or "Have we ever taken an underground boat before?" Catherine asked me to type up a list of everything vaguely amusing we've done this year.

January: Trip to Nashville for Catherine's 50th birthday. Saw the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman, went to the Bluebird Cafe, Belle Meade Plantation, saw a Nashville Predators' hockey game, visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, several honky-tonks, Studio B, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and the Parthenon. Had a super good time, and a super good dinner at Ellendale's.

February: Went to a taping of Prairie Home Companion at the IU Auditorium, which was nice, but overloaded with classical music. Much better: the Reba and Kelly Clarkson "2 Worlds 2 Voices" concert at the Conseco Fieldhouse. More amazing than amazing can be.

April: Passed my exams, spent the next week in Cincinnati for the Annual Meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians. Had a death in the family that week, so I pretty much stayed in the hotel room when I wasn't in a session, but we did have a brilliant evening out at the Cincinnati Observatory.

May: Catherine visits her parents, Susan goes racing. I went up to the Speedway for Pole Day. We both went up for Carb Day, but it was mostly rained out, so not much racing was observed. Memorial Day was spent in front of the TV, watching the race.

June: A week in Washington State, visiting my parents. Highlights previously noted. Really ramped up our goofing off this month. Spent a couple of days at the Write Inn in Oak Park so we could take in the Chicago stop of Cyndi Lauper's True Colors tour. Catherine finally got to tour the Frank's Oak Park studio. I think that makes our third FLW house tour together (she didn't get to go on the more in-depth tour I took my first semester back in grad school). Even though that jaunt to Chicago wore us out, we managed to road trip to Bloomington, Illinois, for another amazing Reba McEntire concert. Lady Antebellum opened for her, and it was great to hear Hillary Scott sing the Linda Davis role in "Does He Love You." If Reba needed a kidney, I'd totally be there for her.

July: Oh, yeah, an immensely long road trip to Shiloh. Another weekend in Columbus, Ohio. That's notable because while we were at the Columbus zoo, we discovered that not only am I afraid of kangaroos, I'm afraid of lorikeets. Five trips between Bloomington and Rantoul--I finally checked the odometer: 4000+ miles of driving in July. Good thing I like our car A LOT.

August: Finally, the State Fair arrives! I was happy enough just to get to see the chickens, but it was an extra great day because we got to see Carrie Underwood on the grandstand. She is much more awesome than I expected, and although she isn't Reba, I would definitely spend more money to see her. I think that might have been our best grandstand concert to date (and that's no small feat, since we also saw Reba on the grandstand once). That day at the fair was wedged in between three days spent volunteering for the Drum Corps International championships.

Today we FINALLY went to Bluespring Caverns and took the boat tour down the Mystery River (prompting this post: have we, or have we not, ever been on an underground boat ride?). Nice day; it included a side trip to Popcorn, Indiana, that demonstrated you should never believe marketing campaigns. This weekend was a warm-up for next, when we head to Mammoth Caves and the National Corvette Museum for a four-day weekend.

For such a miserable year, filled with anxiety, drama, death and preliminary exams, we sure had a lot of fun.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

je ne parle pas français....

...but I still managed to find a hotel just two blocks from the archive I will be using in Vanves in November. I'm just saying.

Actually, I'm just saying because I've always wanted to go to Paris, but last time I had the opportunity, I was too tired to make the trip and I spent the long weekend in Brighton instead. Catherine has promised multiple times that she will visit me while I'm in France, and we've been planning to go to Versailles, since Vanves is only about 18km away, on the western side of Paris. One of the brilliant things about being an architectural historian: as long as you take time to look at a few buildings when you're out and about, it counts as research.

Anyway, I've reserved a studio with kitchenette in an apparthôtel, and couldn't be happier right now, really.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why Cyberspace Isn't Empty (But Should Be)

According to the editing screen for this blog, I have a minimum of five posts in draft state, waiting quietly in the background for me to finish them off and release them in their final form into my blog. I can't seem to make myself bring any of them to completion, though. I get 3/4 of the way through, and then think, "Wtf is this? Who *cares*?" and abandon them.

A partial list of my partial thoughts this week:

  1. Musings on American Idol, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson;
  2. A plea for packing advice (I might finish this one--how do you pack for 12 mos. in two different countries?);
  3. My opinion on various guidebooks for India (and a scathing review of Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?);
  4. Confessions of panic attacks and depression (multiple variations on a theme);
  5. A plea for cell phone advice (short form, can I live in London for three months without a phone? I don't think so);
  6. Summaries of our vacations that bored even me (the summaries, not the vacations);
  7. Reviews of the two dozen graphic novels I've read this summer;
  8. Even more boring things
This is perhaps a sign that the blog needs to be put out of its misery. The archives are really useful for me in those moments I need to know what I did on my 34th birthday, or when I was last in New York, that sort of thing. And I'm sure I'll want to write something or another down this coming year, but in the meantime, wow, how did my life get so incredibly dull?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Good Job, A.I.I.S. Chicago

I need to give the people from A.I.I.S. some props, that's for sure. They handled all the arrangements for my last two trips to India. I did have to do some last minute running around the first time--mostly because I applied to the program a month or two after the deadline has passed--and I was a little stressed out about GOING TO INDIA that first year. If I remember correctly, though, last year I was so relaxed about the whole thing that I almost forgot to send in my visa, and I didn't get around to packing until a couple of days before my departure. I could be that relaxed precisely because I wasn't responsible for obtaining the supporting paperwork for the visa, making housing arrangements, affiliating myself with a university, etc. About all I did last year was buy the plane ticket (the first year, CLS/AIIS took care of even that detail).

All of this is to say is that it is kind of stressful putting together your own research application for India. In the end, USEFI came through for me and got me an affiliation with JNU in Delhi--good for them, I say, because although I managed to get a department to agree to support my affiliation, and although said department send the letter of approval to the foreign students registrar, I was never able to figure out how to get that letter sent on to me for inclusion with my visa. I spent a lot of time trying to work through the JNU switchboard (in Hindi!), but never had any luck. So, without USEFI, I'd be out of luck right now.

So, that was one huge step taken care of for me. The rest has just been non-stop drama, though. I had to include seven copies of the proforma (essentially a data sheet) with my visa application. That's seven photos, plus two for my visa, plus two for my passport. That's a total of eleven photos. You know how much that's going to cost you at the local CVS, the US Post Office, or the photo store downtown? 59.94 plus tax. And if you're me, after you pay for all those photos, and use only two on your passport application, you're going to lose the rest when you're moving. After a lot more drama, I managed to use the scanner and the local "U-print" facility to produce replacement 2" x 2" photos, but it was a huge hassle and required two trips across town. And then you have to fill everything out, glue on the photos, and send it all off via overnight mail because you needed the visa, like, yesterday.

Anyway, that sounds like a bunch of whining, but the point really is this: it's easy to take the Chicago office of A.I.I.S. for granted, and wonder, "Hey, where is my paperwork?!?" But when you have to sit down and do it all yourself, you suddenly realize how incredibly together they have it--they know what they're doing, and if there is some small delay, just be glad you're not standing in Kinko's pasting on photos with a glue stick while listening to the creepy kid next to you make a drug deal on his cell phone. Because that is a really sucky way to spend the afternoon.