January 1 Happy New Year! Well at least I think it is. Definitely new. We'll see how happy.
At any rate, in managed to rain a good bit. I was in the living room with my laptop by the fire, trying to find out about cell phones. Particularly ones that might work both in the U.S. and Europe. Turns out such beasts do exist, but they're not exactly easy to locate. Or cheap. Inconveniently, the roof began leaking in several places while I was there. Not usual, and probably a bad sign generally, since it means water is collecting under the roof (between the roof and ceiling).
For the evening, we went to a new year's celebration at the house of one of my father's cousins. I can never keep all our relations straight. I got to see what an expatriate Iranian banquet was like. Fortunately, there were enough people speaking English to keep me occupied for the most part. And of course their two year old son has the same name as me too. Guess I'm not as special as I though I was.
Happy 2005 everybody. May it be a good one.
January 2 A bit tired from yesterday. Biked to town, and a little bit up Higgins Purrisima road. The combination of being out of shape and having only one functional gear made the experience somewhat more memorable. Then we went back to town to pick up a derailleur for my bike. And what'd you know, that bike shop is no longer in existence.
For the afternoon, packed up most of the stuff that I'll be taking back to the dorm. That includes a lot of books. Not sure how far I'll get readingwise, but it's important to start somewhere. Realized just how convenient laundry on campus is too. Plan on bringing some of that.
January 3 Got up reasonably early to go to the airport. My roommate came in from Atlanta, and so we headed off to campus. Did some room cleanup, and bought more books. I am very, very amazed at how much books for this quarter have cost. Hopefully next one will be cheaper. Also fixed up the networking in the room. One less cable on my desk! Returned home for the evening.
January 4 First day of classes. Had French, then a pause, and then lunch. After lunch was a very crowded American History Since 1945 class. We filled up the seats. We filled up the floor space. We even filled a good chunk up of the hall. Hmm... No class in the afternoon, but had various errands to run. Looks to be a nice busy quarter. More problematically, I no longer have a functional computer. The hard disk, having made funny noises in the past, has officially decided not to work.
January 5 Had almost all of my classes today. French in the morning (we're doing stuff now). First day of Set Theory seemed manageable. American History Since 1945 dealt with issues surrounding the dropping of the Atomic bomb on Japan (mainly, why it was done, and who made the decisions). Looks like we've got a good professor. For North African Social History, we did a little logistics, a little discussion, and we'll be meeting next week. I even know some of the folks in the class!
After dinner, had a house meeting to sign up for ski trip housing. Needless to say, I got a lousy number, but it was a zoo, trying to get 130 people signed up for houses. Of course, I'm not even sure I'm going now, but at least I know where I'm staying.
January 6 So I had class stuff pretty much all day. From 10-4 (no breaks). More unhelpfully, we had a meeting about the weekend's ski trip. Or rather, about its cancellation. Owing to the impending storms in the mountains, there won't be a ski trip. Unfortunately, we also forfeit our deposit on the housing we payed for. Which means nobody's gonna get reimbursed. I am not impressed.
January 7 Friday was a pretty light day for class. In French we did our usual routine, as in Math. Afternoon history seminar consisted of receiving the syllabus. Since I already had a syllabus, it wasn't an extremely helpful session.
In honor of the pouring rain, I checked a movie out of the library. "The Return of the Pink Panther" featured Peter Sellers at his best. Lots of laughs, especially once the "hunchback of Notre Dame" appeared. "Give me ten men like Clouseau and I could destroy the world!"
January 8 My day of reading at the library wasn't too much fun. Finished making my way through Edmund Burke III's "Struggle and Survival in the Modern Middle East." It's basically a collection of short articles on little-known individuals living reasonably ordinary lives, although just how ordinary is a good topic for debate. The phrase disparate well describes them though (large spread of locations, large spread of time, and large spread of personal experiences).
My father turned up in the evening with a replacement hard disk (for my dead one) and a shifter for my bike. Fixing the bike took a good bit of work, and we almost disconnected the wrong shifter. Swapping disks in the computer was just as time-consuming, mainly because we didn't have the right size and type of screwdrive. Torx T8 really does mean Torx T8. Still, I now have a functional laptop. Yay!
January 9 Spent entirely far too long today reconstituting my computer. Installed a lot of software, configure a lot of odds and ends, and finally have things set up pretty satisfactorily. Still, the bigger disk is obviously helping. Additionally, I now realize just how much was not backed up. Definitely enough to make me grumpy.
January 10 Had the usual 3 classes: French, Math and American History. Got in some flute practice too, and a bit of fiddling with my reconstituted computer. Began reading about the Cold War, as well as trying to make my schedule a little lighter. Settled on dropping the seminar on International Field Research. That's something I can definitely take in the future.
January 11 Don't remember. Honestly.
January 12 Nothing to see here. Move on right along.
January 13 Finished the math problem set at just the right time, namely just before going to sleep. Good timing.
January 14 First real Friday of the quarter. This one involved lunch at the Clark Center, and a history seminar on thesis ideas. We've got some eclectic ones, and some practical ones. I strongly suspect those roles will get crossed at some point.
In the evening, after looking for something to do for quite a while, wound up watching the first half of Return of the King in a friend's room. Started too late to finish. We stopped right when things had really gotten bad, but the extra bits of the extended edition were certainly interesting.
January 15 Last night's lateness bled into today. Had a devil of a time getting up and off to the library. History reading went extremely slowly. Still haven't figured out the proper way to speed-read/note-take at the same time. Still, after about 100 pages, it was latish afternoon, so I called it quits. Had an inspiring evening of figuring out overseas paperwork and info.
Also watched "One Two Three" on DVD. A very funny, fun movie. My roommate though so too. Favorite bit of dialogue:
"You mean she married a communist? Wow! This'll be the biggest thing to hit Atlanta since General Sherman threw that little barbecue."
January 16 Being circumspect with time is tough. I wasn't too much with today's. Got a fair chunk of reading done, but that was more or less all. Between the gloomy weather outdoors, and the newest Sy Hersh article in the New Yorker making the rounds (U.S. covert ops in Iran helping lay the groundwork for war), working hard was (hard).
January 17 My method of celebrating Dr. King's illustrious past was finishing up Julia Clancy-Smith's "Rebel and Saint." The second half was a much quicker read than the first half. It didn't really sink in until afterwards just what a specific region she was referring to, but the dynamics of Sufism and anticolonial resistance in the pre-Sahara aren't nearly such dry topics as might appear at first glance. Indeed, millenarianism and false messiahs make for quite unusual political developments.
January 18 Felt overburdened, despite the extralong weekend. My afternoon was mostly spent in Green library's "Special Collections" area reading an honors thesis by a student who graduated last year. While convincing historically, I really wish the author had taken a creative writing course at some point in her past. Her grammer was impeccable, but her style gave me a headache. Anyhow, I wouldn't want British imperialism to get a bad rap just because I couldn't stand the overused long words.
January 19 Weather's been having something of an identity crisis. Cold and not particularly pleasant for the most part. Clear too though. Usual morning schedule of classes, plus a meeting with my partner to discuss the afternoon's discussion section (history). Had a meeting with a professor after lecture, which proved profitable. More ideas for that honors paper. Leading discussion went okay, though I didn't lead much. Didn't really need to either, since it more or less led itself.
January 20 Boy am I tired. Up for classes in the morning, with flute practice instead of lunch (show's how behind I am). Flute lesson after history lecture (the H-bomb, no less). Finally, studying for a French quiz all afternoon, and getting within spitting difference of the end of my math problem set. Tried to go to sleep. Couldn't. So finished the problem set instead.
January 21 Friday's all about finishing the week off. And of course, this time, visiting folks from last year's dorm. up in San Fran. Same sort of nice family restaurant I went to in Las Vegas, my first trip there...
My main concern was getting a bunch of odds and ends done. French quiz first though. Last night's inspiration got me the last math problem on the problem set, but it'll take more than just inspiration to get all the necessary paperwork filled out for overseas studies. Looks like the insurance company has not held up its end of the bargain (namely providing me proof of insurance). History class in the afternoon was mainly a Q&A with previous authors of honors' theses in history. I left both less and more intimidated.
Our San Francisco adventure was complicated, first by an AWOL member of our little group, then by the odd location of Millbrae's BART station, and finally by the fact that none of us knew which streets the MUNI ran on. Fortunately, we got a cab who was willing to take the 5 of us down to North Beach and the restaurant. Met up with last years' RAs. Learned all sorts of the latest gossip. A good number of 21st birthdays were going on in the restaurant.
January 22 Guess I survived another one. Year I mean. Is being 21 years old all that it's cracked up to be? Today I start finding out.
For my paper-to-be on universities and the Cold War, first reading was Clark Kerr's "The Uses of the University." Despite his claims (in a postscript, no less) that the book was "descriptive, not prescriptive", what it amounted to was a brief history of the development leading to the "research university", followed by a lengthy explanation of what great things such universities would do in the future. Frustratingly, he completely dismisses, out of hand, the question of pernicious government meddling in higher education. A capital "l" Liberal.
In the evening, went home to..., well..., see home. And also a cake (pie really). With candles. Lots of candles. It was fun. Especially recounting old Tom Lehrer songs.
January 23 Returned to school in the early afternoon. Didn't get a chance to enjoy the nice day 'cause I was reading stuff until it got dark. Yup. Out to dinner for some Indian cuisine. Pretty good stuff (famous comment of the night: "I'm feeling spicy"). Waiter seemed to have something personal against me though. Did he think I was Pakistani, or was he just generally disgruntled?
January 24 Today was pretty lousy. As spending all day on something and not getting anywhere. Blah.
January 25 Muddled my way through David Prochaska's "Making Algeria French." Noticed a lot of disturbing parallels to American history. Had the colonists there been able to massacre the natives like they did here, it might look quite similar too, in the end.
January 26 Week always gets tighter as you move along. Time, what time? Weather is going backwards now. Was visited by a massive downpour around 3PM. Arrived in my history seminar positively dripping. Interesting observation of the day: "Graduate students don't know as much as you think they do." Not a huge surprise but it was good that somebody else (with experience) could articulate it. The Jews of Algeria made there way into discussion, proving last year's Jews and Muslims class has some broader applications.
January 27 Feeling just kinda tired. Flute. Class. Flute. More class. Flute lesson. Math homework. History homework. Bed. Oh, and there was dinner somewhere in there too. Almost, but not quite, finished what I needed to.
January 28 Weather still in an identity crisis. Wet and miserable for much of the morning. Clearing up with my afternoon history seminar. Visited Hoover Library and Hoover Archives for the first time. Hey, I've only been on campus a little more than 2.5 years now, and there's plenty left to discover. Got my plane tickets for next quarter (in France). A good bit cheaper than online too. Evening was a spur-of-the-moment programming project, combined with more class readings.
January 29 Trying to plan out my essay on the Cold War university. It didn't work too well, but I hope something more will come of it. After dinner, disaster struck. Wanted to watch a movie with a friend upstairs. In my haste going up, my sandal caught under one of the stairs and I tripped and fell forward. I caught myself, but my shoulder took the full impact, and... well... hurt and wouldn't move. While I was trying to figure out what to do, I pressed on it with my other arm, and there was a very noticable pop. Guess I've dislocated and relocated my shoulder. Here's hoping nothing permanent goes wrong. It sure does hurt though.
January 30 Had a visit to the doctor at Vaden (the student health center) about my shoulder. He claims things'll be just fine in a week or so, provided I refrain from an untoward physical activity. I hope so. Right now it's swollen to the point that my elbow is almost immobilized. Well, spent most of the day just trying to ignore it all. Unfortunately, I find it hard to both be productive and ignore pain.
January 31 First post-injury day of school. Walking everywhere makes life difficult, but since I can't bike and avoid using my right arm, I didn't. Since I've dropped French (as of last night), I had only 2 classes today. Still, especially in the afternoon it was hard to concentrate. I have what'd be termed "radiating pain" down my right arm. Still, had a fun conversation with a self-described "neo-conservative" (they do exist) and a discussion of current developments in Palestine.