Doing What You Like

During out Methods class back in Fall Term, my advisor mentioned that certain groups of historians tend to stick together while others have nothing to do with each other. Historians of Russia, for instance, have a strange legacy left over from the Soviet days in which many of them don't (or at least didn't) actually like Russia; many were funded by the US government and regarded Russia as a complex, fascinating, but basically distasteful object of study. He then told us that, in his experience, gender historians tend to have a lot of solidarity, since many of them are connected to women's rights movements and are used to fighting the good fight together. The other group with a lot of teamsmanship is French historians. "Why is that, Jon?" I asked. "Because we all love France! We love to go there, we love to eat there!" he replied.

I bring this up because of a conversation I had with L and C while we were on our epic hike on Saturday. L is getting paid to research all summer. C is going home to Japan and may or may not do some research while he's there. When I run down the list of people, the connections are usually obvious between their lives and their research: so-and-so lived somewhere for years, so-and-so was in such-and-such movement for years, so-and-so has always been fascinated by such-and-such. It's the whole "History of Punk Rock" phenomenon writ large: you study what you're already into (I gather that anthropologists are notorious for this.)

After giving it three seconds thought, I've concluded that I am an academic mutant. My actual interest, intellectual history, is too broad and too old-fashioned to count for much in the discipline of history itself. In the end I'm going to emerge from the long dark tunnel a specialist in France, of all things, something I have no personal connection to. Academia is kind of predicated on obsession; the only reward for digging through the dusty bins is finding interesting scraps and showing your equally obsessive and dorky compatriots. It takes a lot of focus and energy to keep going.

So, as usual, I conclude a blog post by reflecting on how much I love coffee. Today's job is drinking a lot of it and combing through notes and articles trying to come up with a(nother) MA thesis topic.


Il Fait Chaude

(It's hot.)

I typed that in to google image search and I got the picture of something that is, indeed, totally fucking chaude. I bring this up because today was miserably hot here on the Cali central coast. Thick air, you know? When you can feel it hit you as you're walking and you're all "wait! That's freaking AIR! How can it impede my progress?!" Tomorrow we're going on a hike with a pack of the beautiful people, so I'm dressing for the occasion: ratty PBR hat to keep my baldness from being sunburned and shorts, BIG-TIME.

Today, some grad students beat the shit out of some undergrads at softball. Well done, guys...way to represent! I was there in spirit.

Our TV just died. I'm not kidding. It's a 300 dollar Sony we got for our wedding and now it's been renamed "Mr. Warbly-Jiggledy" and it's good for nothing more than inducing headaches. Will it magically regenerate? I kind of doubt it; it's like a troll hit with a +3 flaming broadsword.

Have you noticed that my blog posts oscillate wildly (or, if you prefer, widely) between novellas about theory or life or combinations thereof and these wine-induced ramblings? Next time: novella. You've been warned.

The next time you play 20 questions, consider playing for animals. May I suggest: muselids. The family including the weasel, the wolverine, the pine marten, and the badger. No one ever expects a muselid.

+3 Broadsword,


A demain le bon sex

...that's a fun phrase from the introduction to History of Sexuality. Oh, Michel, you nut.

Anyway, here's some classy moves I've seen lately:
  • The guy taking his baby in a stroller to the liquor store on Laurel and Pacific. Looking good, guy!
  • The sunburned guys with black plastic sacks full of bottles riding stolen mountain bikes around. I think those guys are the true harbingers of springtime; the bluebird is obselete, replaced by sunburned mountain-bike guys.
Also, I had the good fortune of bumping into this guy and his lady friend on the 13 the other day and we got to talking about the municipal character(s) of different bus lines. What I mean is that every mass-transit system has a certain spirit, a certain je ne sais quoi, a certain Geist, and here are the three I know about:
  • Eugene, Oregon: Lane Transit District. Just a bunch of really nice people...they'll give you directions, they'll stop if you're running trying to catch the bus, they're very careful and considerate drivers.
  • Portland, Oregon: Tri-Met. Released from institutions for the criminally insane...they'll run you the fuck over and laugh over your corpse. They'll drive past you without even looking up. Someone could be cooking up meth in the back of the bus and the driver'll just ignore it.
  • Santa Cruz, California: Metro. Petty petty petty. They'll deliberately drive away from you if you're running for the bus. They'll shut the door in your face. They'll blaze on through those red lights when they're getting frustrated. I totally like them; I get on at the downtown station, so I get to indulge in mass schadenfreude while they're blazing past people at the later stops.
Back to Gramsci. Antonio! What's happenin', bitch?!


Contingency and Boredom

Holy crap, you guys. I am so fucking bored these days. I have this perfect-storm mix of anxiety and boredom governing my moods and perceptions as we crawl closer to summer. Here's the short stream-of-consciousness version of what I'm thinking about:

"We are so broke, I really need to work full-time this summer, but shit! I want to go to Oregon for a week to see everyone, especially my grandma, and then there's Becky Fay's wedding, which is so far north it's almost Canada, but how can I get a week off when I don't even have a job from which to get said week off FROM yet?! And I was supposed to find a tutor in spoken French for the summer, but the deadline already passed for the language studies fellowship from the department because I didn't have the actual logistics worked out yet and I flat-out overlooked how bloody early the deadline was (first time ever for me missing a deadline, as far as I remember) and in the meantime I'm just stewing here, reading books and writing reaction papers, and I still have barely read any actual history all year, just endless tomes of theory and political science garbage and so on..."

It's all contingent, kids. Everything depends on everything else. And from where I'm sitting in the framework, it sucks, because I can't make any concrete plans to do anything until certain things are taken care of (primarily landing a temp job).

Here's what it boils down to: I hate, HATE summers. I hated them before because they're hot and people are loud and everything bugs me. I hate them more now because you're left high and dry during the summer when you're a grad student in the humanities; the meager stipend you live on is gone and it's so fucking hard to find summer employment. I dearly wish I could just fast-forward to Fall, but instead I've got to grit my teeth and try to make things work for June, July, August, and most of bloody September.

Care packages of booze and/or prescription painkillers gladly accepted by the management.


Recipes for Successfulness

Blogs ought to edify and edumicate, right?

How to get over a hangover:
  1. Before you go to bed, drink 1 pint of water and take 2 ibuprofen.
  2. Sleep in as long as you possibly can.
  3. If you can keep food down, eat cereal.
  4. Whether or not you can keep food down, drink coffee.
How to clean the giant clump of shit off of your bunny's ass when it gets stuck in her hair:
  1. Run warm water in the tub.
  2. Hold your bunny firmly but gently and put her ass under the running water.
  3. Hold her with one hand while using the other to pull the crap and encrusted hair off.
  4. Have your S.O. handy to dump the poop n' stuff in the toilet.
  5. Have a stiff drink after you're done. Because it's gross.
How to write a standard rock song:
  1. It goes verse chorus verse chorus bridge verse chorus.
  2. Have the rhythm guitarist or bassist sing harmony on the chorus.
  3. 1-4-5 and 1-4 are safe chord changes. Mix and match as necessary.
How to get a PHD in history:
  1. Learn to read a couple of languages while you're an undergraduate.
  2. Do about 3 or 4 years of coursework; produce a MA thesis during your second year.
  3. Take your qualifying exams.
  4. Go somewhere and root around in archives for a while.
  5. Come back and write your dissertation.
  6. See! Wasn't that easy?


Cheap Wine, Good Times

We had K and L over last night, ate meat, drank vino, watched funny crap about metal, and, uh, drank more vino. I feel just a little bit woozy this morning. But it was fun.

P.S. The above collage of rock, or "rockollage," if you will, was thrown together using picasa, which is google's free image program. It's pretty great, and it even runs on linux! Huzzah!


Why No One E-mails Me Anymore

Two quick thoughts:

First, I was grumbling about how I rarely get substantive conversational e-mails from people these days, and I realized that it's because I blog so friggin' much. My old blog featured short entries with no option for comments, so friends from whom I was separated geographically were obliged to stay in touch via e-mail. Now, everyone who gives even one quarter of one shit about what I'm up to has a pretty good idea and can chime in whenever they feel like it in the comments. I will always prefer e-mail to a blog comment, but I am reconciled to this brave new bloggy world nevertheless.

Second, everyone knows that I have a Devo tattoo on my shins. Sometimes, however, even I forget how awesome Devo's first full-length major label album (Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!) really is. It's kind of like unstoppably amazing music, from Uncontrollable Urge to Shrivel Up. It's the soundtrack to nerd sex.


Scattered Thought: Gun Control

There was a very succinct summary of the gun control situation in the US in Le Monde this morning. Here's the fancy blog-citation thing in French:

Here's google's attempt to translate it into English.

Basically, it says that Americans are very protective of their guns and the NRA is one of the nation's most powerful lobbies, so it's unlikely that the Virginia Tech massacre is going to result in gun control legislation. I appreciated how succinct it (the article) was and the clarity of a non-American perspective saying, essentially, "Americans are insane about guns. As a result, this kind of thing is going to keep happening."

I'm genuinely torn. I think guns are idiotic. I've never even fired a real gun, ever. But I'm also an adherent to the idea that one should pursue politics pragmatically, and one of the only points of convergence between the left and parts of the right in the US is civil liberties. It's a kind of trade-off; I'll let you stockpile assault weapons, you let me think dangerous thoughts and you let my friends have sex with whoever they want to - that kind of thing. Back in the corporate days, the major thing my former Navy SEAL boss and I had in common was a shared contempt for religion and a shared belief that people should be allowed to live their own lives more or less as they pleased.

I'm not so sure on the gun issue anymore, however. On the one hand, it would be practically impossible (I mean that literally; it would be impossible in a practical way) to disarm America. On the other, there's no question that the reason we have homicides on an order of magnitude above any other developed nation is that guns are easier to get than, well, jobs.

In class today we had a brief discussion of the Gramscian notion of a War of Position, in which a political movement aims for an aggregate of local victories rather than big one-off sweeping victories. It was a nice enunciation of how I'm starting to consider possibilities of practical leftist politics. So I'm left to ponder whether gun control would be something worth struggling over in lieu of other issues.

P.S. Needless to say, I was just as horrified as everyone else about the massacre. When Columbine happened, which was during my year in England, it turned out that a friend I had recently met was from there, just as one of my friends here went to Virginia Tech. Close to home, as were the pictures of the grad students who were victims; they were probably busy worrying about rent and groceries and dissertation topics, too, until the point was made moot by some maladjusted fuckwit

P.P.S. If someone says something snotty in my comments about me calling him a maladjusted fuckwit, I will come over to their house and kick them in the shin, hard. So don't. Yes, it's already ridiculous how the media is focusing on the fact that he was Asian. I, personally, don't care if he was black, white, yellow, blue, or purple. He was a maladjusted fuckwit.


Three Bad Days

For some reason I thought of this theme earlier, while walking back to the bunker from the science library.
  1. Looking for a place to live in Santa Cruz: Becky and I were up at 5:30am at her parents' place in Novato. We drove down and were in SC by about 8:00am, then started checking places out. Most of the places were already rented; those that weren't had "open houses" in which everyone interested in renting had to show up with applications in hand to fight over the rental. I left messages all over town and we drove back and forth from Aptos to the west end of Mission. By 4:30pm, exhausted, we stood overlooking the bay on West Cliff Drive and I got a phone call from a guy saying that we were welcome to attend the open house for the condo we had called about; it started at 1000 bucks a month, per person.
  2. After college I moved to Portland. I worked at a dot com for three months then got laid off. I didn't really have computer skills yet and I knew I couldn't fake it on my resumé, so I cast around looking for a customer service job. Three weeks in I decided to spend 800 bucks I didn't have to spend on bartending academy. I spent the next two weeks learning how to make drinks, then I found myself in late December, 2000, driving out to Troutdale* to apply for a bartending job at a chinese restaurant. I had a brief talk with the manager then headed back into town; I looked out at the sun setting at 4:00pm as I drove toward I-80 and thought "well, this is as bad as it gets."
  3. In England I got ridiculously drunk then got in a fight with my dorm-mate John. The details are still hazy, but I ended up getting punched squarely in the face by a guy twice my size. I woke up the next morning on my friend Dan's dorm room floor sporting a huge black eye with my stomach full of the hottest curry I had ever eaten (something I had decided on the night before after about 8 beers) burning a hole through my esophagus. Blacks eyes suck, because well after you've learned your lesson (in this case, don't get super wasted and get in fights, especially with big crazy British people), you still look like an idiot for weeks.
One thing I hate is knowing that there will be more bad days in the future and you never know when they're going to be. It doesn't do any good to worry about it, but it's one of those constituent elements on which I predicate my "life is pretty horrendous when it comes down to it" theory.

Editor's note: Ironically, I'm in a pretty good mood today.

* Troutdale is like...a weird truckstop on the farthest outskirts of Portland, Oregon. I'm not really sure why it has its own town name; it might as well just be called Truckstopville.


Fun Facts About Elephant Seals

We're back. Here are pictures of our primary camping activity: sitting around.

I'm not sure how anyone can camp without a Carhart. Because it's frigging cold in the woods, man.

These boots were made for waterproofin', and that's just what they did.

We went to Ano Nuevo State Park and got to see the molting female elephant seals. It turns out that all elephant seals travel by diving to 2000+ feet below the surface of the ocean, swimming for 10 - 20 minutes, surfacing and getting more air, and repeating. They do this to avoid sharks and orcas, which tend to be closer to the surface. The females go off the coast of Hawaii and eat buttloads of squid, while the males go to Alaska and eat buttloads of crusteceans. They return to Ano Nuevo at different times of year depending on whether they're there to have hot elephant seal sex, have little tiny 75 pound babies, or molt (which is when they hang out on the beach and lose a layer of skin.) Right now is female molting season, so we got to see 100+ of the ladies lying around making ridiculous noises and napping.

Elephant seals sound like this: "ORK ORK ORK ORK WAAAAAAHK --FART NOISE-- --FART NOISE-- WAAAAAAHK!"

The fart noises are fabulous. They do it because their bodies are designed for diving, not lying around on the beach, so even when they're on dry land they don't breath"normally." Instead, they expel all of the air in this huge fart-sounding explosion, get some more air, then hold their breath for 10 minutes. Trust me, when you have 100 of them all in a big pile and they're all doing that, it's hilarious.

Anyway, it was really fun. Becky's dad and Becky and I did a lot of beer-drinking, food-eating, and fire-sitting-around(ing). I feel prepared to go back and read another pile of Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall and EP Thompson.


Pitch a Tent

I'm going camping today at this place with Becky and her dad. Our plan? Beer, sitting around, food, short easy hikes. I'm looking forward to the two-day hiatus from books, the internet, downtown Santa Cruz, and grad student guilt.


The Rant

The problem with blogs is that they lend themselves to ranting, and the problem with ranting is that it's the most perilous form of prose. Letters and e-mails are directed to individuals or, at most, small groups. Books and articles are carefully edited and screened before they're published. Nobody reads poems. Rants, which have lived in history for a long time in pamphlets (which as we all know exploded following the invention of the press), became universally publishable via the internet, especially when automated blogging setups like blogger meant that you didn't even need to know a single HTML tag to share your thoughts with the whole wide world online. So, anyone with access can now publish anything they want to publish and anyone with access can read it. Search engines and tagging mean that everything published is theoretically accessible and efforts like the Internet Archive mean that every piece of old horseshit you ever wrote will stay available until the end of time.

So why do I care? I have two reasons:

First, because rants are usually underthought. There is no accountability in ranting; the term itself evokes an emotional outpouring, not a reasonable one. One says things in rant format that one would not normally say, or would at least say better in a different format.

Second, because rants lend themselves to would-be Bukowskism. To briefly rehash my stance on Bukowski: he's fine, but he spawned a whole generation of men who thought that getting drunk and being belligerent was carte blanche to become a writer or a poet. As Modest Mouse says, "yeah I know he's a pretty good read, but god who'd wanna be such an asshole?" The results of Bukowski-inspired writing have always been universally awful.

So this is the peril of blogging for me. In real life, I hate confrontation and I love reconciliation. I try to find the middle ground and the shared belief in almost any conversation and I deliberately seek balanced, evaluatory positions in my scholarship (side note: I feel like such a fucking cad calling it "scholarship"), not polemical ones. I am, however, also a deeply cynical, pessimistic, negative person and so I get angry and then sometimes I blog about it. It is, how you say, contrary to my nature to rant publicly, but that's precisely what blogging is for me and for a lot of other people.



Behold the wrath:
  1. The distinction between "seminar" and "lecture" is, per my understanding, that in the former a group of people discusses something they all ostensibly have some knowledge of, typically a shared reading, while in the latter a group of people listens to an informed person share his or her knowledge about a subject. The advantage of the seminar format is that, assuming that the group is intelligent, prepared, and engaged, all participants are able to come to a richer understanding of the subject than they would have through passive absorption alla the lecture format. So: if you're leading a "seminar," kids, DON'T LECTURE FOR TWO HOURS. IT DEFEATS THE PURPOSE OF CALLING IT A SEMINAR.
  2. On the other hand, if you're a graduate student taking a seminar, and you've ostensibly done all of the reading, WHY NOT SAY SOMETHING DURING DISCUSSION?! I'm just saying. In the blog-post-inducing seminar I just got out of, 6/13 of the I'm-sure-very-smart grad students present didn't say DICK the whole time. It felt at times like an unsuccessful undergraduate discussion section; glaze-over eyes, the people who weren't speaking diligently scribbling notes but being sure not to make eye contact, the works. I'm pretty sure Ms. Rossi and I carried about 50% of the discussion between us, and that's just because it would have been even more boring if we hadn't.
  3. I've talked about this before, but this experience brings it to mind once again. Why the disjunction between book smart and everything-else smart? Why the inability of brilliant people to read time? It's actually inspiring me to be less of an idiot at home; while it's not as bad as it used to be, Becky has been forced over the years to remind me about things that should be obvious (check the calendar, be careful, don't do stupid shit all the time). I now recognize this as symptomatic of an odious and pitiful condition, absent-minded-professorism, that I now categorically reject.
Chickenshits. I hope everyone pulls it together this week and next Wednesday's 3 hours are a little more tolerable.

P.S. At least it rained for a little while this morning. That was nice.


Review of Some Awesome Shit

Here's how it all goes down:

The latest Modest Mouse album (We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank) is top-notch. It sounds like Portland to me, the gritty streets, the rain, the bridges, the endless number of amazing dive bars, the hot kids in cool clothes. As an added bonus, it's so many years past when Modest Mouse was anyone's hip discovery that you can just enjoy how good the music is and not worry about associations.

Rogue Ales are absolutely delicious. It's Easter, which means (of course) that Becky put together highly cute easter baskets for me and her parents, mine featuring a 6-pack. Dead Guy Ale is just amazing. I'm in favor of marriage, as long as you hook up with someone brilliant and gorgeous like I did.

I know nothing about French cinema, but I do know that The Science of Sleep is really fun. It's like L'Auberge Espagnol in that it's trilingual; it's set in Paris but the dialogue switches between French, Spanish, and English. It's made by the guy who did Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but I think it's less depressing and more fun. It stars the dude who played Che in The Motorcycle Diaries. Go see it; you'll feel better-traveled and more wordly, even if you live in your mom's basement, or in a van down by the river.

It turns out that the UCSC Arboretum is really neat. Becky's folks visited for Easter and we all rolled up there to check it out. I can't actually distinguish between different plants ("so this one appears to be a...flower, correct?"), but it was pretty and fun. There were cute lizards and hummingbirds and tiny bunnies running around, too, which I couldn't have been happier about.

I certainly enjoyed playing Cranium last night. I should take this opportunity to salute my teammates Becky and Tweak, who fought through antihistemines and, well, one rum + coke* to bring home the win. The highlight of the game for me was the charades-style round in which I had to act out "little black book." I did so by indicating someone flipping through a book, calling someone, then engaging in some frenzied lovemaking, FRESHMAN DORM STYLE! And we totally won the round.

Finally, a electronic hi-five to my brother, whose romantic fortunes have turned around in a big way of late. Good job, bro. That's what we call representing.

* For Tweak, that's a lot.


Two Quotes

"Electrify her with studded rubber nubs!"
-Condom machine, Poet + Patriot Irish Pub bathroom, Santa Cruz, CA.

"I will support your happy!
This happy is a secret for you and me."
-Japanese birthday card.

Today I'm going to play tennis for the first time in, I suppose, 10+ years. It's a boys vs. girls game. I predict a riot. I also predict that I get my ass beat.

When I was in middle school and early high school, I took tennis lessons at the YMCA and played a lot. I was quick, accurate, and I had a killer two-handed backhand. My serve sucked, but it slowly got better over the years. I enjoyed playing and I particularly enjoyed winning, which was sometimes a problem because I enjoyed winning in the frothing-at-the-mouth bloodthirsty-competitive way. Anyway, as the end of my freshman year approached, I started thinking about joining the tennis team; I was as good as several as the guys on the team and it just seemed logical. Then, a tiny flickering 40-watt lightbulb went off over my head and I realized that 90% of the guys on high school tennis teams are complete fucktards...it's like hanging out with the nasty refuse of an elite country club. Smarmy pricks, people, smarmy pricks.

So I dropped out of tennis and played in bands instead.

This happy is a secret for you and me. Prepare to be electrified by rubber nubs.


Cold-Water Flat

The water heater in my apartment building is mostly broken. It still issues a little lukewarm water to mix in with the cold, but everyone in the building has been taking campground showers: get pumped, get ready, jump in, scrub fast, get out ASAP. Becky overheard in the hall that it won't be fixed until Friday. Along with my goddamn fucking neighbors doing their thumping-clunking thing at night, I'm feeling a little less enamored of my place right now.

Anyway, it's a new term, and with a new term comes new caricatures of professors. The Histcon prof I'm working with this term reminds me of the martians from Mars Attacks: all skin and bones, with this huge brain sitting on top. Or, if I may quote the old Scottish dad from So I Married an Axe Murderer, "it's like an orange on a toothpick!" Anyway, he's a smart guy. Should be an interesting class.

Today the prospective graduate students to the program visit and we all try to sweet-talk them into coming so that we get some clever new friends to hang out with next year. We've got a one-two combo planned to woo them: 1. Don't tell them about or bring them to the bunker. 2. Make them go out to the bar with us tonight and thereby realize just how good-looking we all really are.

To my friends who haven't updated their blogs for more than two weeks: you've been served. Go update. Some of us have procrastinating to do, and you can be part of the solution!



I'm kind of obsessed with the latent assumptions the academic world, particularly in the humanities, applies to graduate students. Here are a few examples:
  • All incoming students will already know the languages they need (except for particularly esoteric ones; Spanish yes, Nahuatl, not necessarily.)
  • All incoming students will know what specific field they will be working in.
  • All incoming students will have all the necessary background knowledge already; they will be familiar with the canon.
  • Most incoming students will have the independent means to travel and research.
This was true, I think, of most graduate students until the last few decades.*

Everyone's used to hearing me complain about the language issue, but what I'm stewing on right now is the concept of mentorship. How it used to work was that a graduate student would be selected by an advisor in large part according to their potential as a research assistant; they'd be sent off to do menial academic labor, reading stacks of papers and preparing notes, being sent off on archival missions, etc., and the advising professor would then take the raw data, write a book or an article, and get all the credit. In the process, however, the student would be exposed to a vast wealth of information and the professor would be confident in his or her abilities and sign off on them.

Now, the way it works is that graduate students perform menial teaching academic labor in their capacity as teaching assistants, but it's increasingly uncommon for academics to delegate any of their research (again, in the humanities; I know they still do this in the sciences.) The problem is that research assistantships served a purpose: they provided an in to new, interesting topics and concrete research skills that scholars need to develop while graduate students. They also led to the famous conflicts between advisor and advisee over matters of theory and framing; practically every great thinker of the past argued with his or her teachers about what things meant, thereby honing their critical reasoning.

Today, graduate students in the humanities, with rare exceptions, are subject to a kind of semi-benign neglect. Even if they have tough advisors that make them read a lot, they're hardly ever brought on board with research projects and they're encouraged to kind of drift around, desperately searching for a topic of their own. The problem is that most graduate students have no way of knowing what has already been said and done; the problem is as much finding a topic as it is actually researching and writing about it. Research assistantships used to expose grad students to material; now teaching assistantships expose grad students to horribly-written undergraduate essays.

When you're in this business, you're constantly reminded that contacts are as important as books; having someone in a position of power know your name is as important as writing well (of course, the two phenomena are related; they're supposed to know you because you wrote something they read and liked.) The aspect of actually working with and for scholars, and thereby experiencing first-hand what we're ostensibly doing here, is one of the most neglected areas of present-day grad study, I think.

I really hope this R.A. thing I might be doing this term works out; I'm sick of drifting around in the ether, having everyone pat me on the back and sign off on my essays, but never actually sinking my teeth in to what I ostensibly study.

* These assumptions are still true, albeit modified, at first-tier schools. I've noticed that a lot of the history grads at UCSC applied to and didn't get in to Berkeley. All of us, I think, were off on a few points: we had the GRE scores but not the languages, we had the languages but not the GRE scores, we had the essay but not the letters of recommendation from bigwigs in the field, etc.

The only universally modified assumption has to do with social class; while most grad students are still from middle or upper-class backgrounds, it's understood that we all have to apply for grants to go anywhere.


End of the Break

Chances are good you've already seen this, but if not:

A fitting tribute to some of the things I like best about living on Monterey Bay: otters and sleeping.

In other news, why do I look like such a complete fuckin' dork in a bike helmet? No one looks "cool" in a bike helmet, granted, but why couldn't I just be innocuously be-helmeted, rather than ridiculously be-helemeted? I really want to get around to riding my free bike (thanks again, Aiki...doh!) to the award-winning bike trailer this term, but for two factors:
  1. It makes me tired and sweaty.
  2. I feel like I look like this.
I have resolved, however, to get over it.

Anyway, I'll miss the sleeping and the lazy-ing, but I'm looking forward to seeing everyone back in the new improved bunker, getting back to work, and hanging out in general. SC homies: back to the Poet and Patriot within 1.5 weeks, yes?