September 1 Off to New York.
Plenty of small unfinished tasks to keep me busy this morning, before my flight to New York. There was packing, updating the webpage, responding to old e-mails and trying to find research info. Most was accomplished before we left for the airport around 11:40AM. We made it to the airport without an incidents, although we somehow missed the exit from 101 on our first pass.
Getting through the airport was simple but slow, since they had only 2 people at the Delta desk distributing tickets. When a guy (wearing a United jacket, no less) went to pick up his ticket, all progress stopped for the next 10 minutes, as neither agents seemed to be capable of either solving his problem, or punting him off on someone else. Self check-in seemed like a really good idea at that point, assuming I can properly print my e-ticket next time. Security line was a bit lengthy too, and I was not amused at having to take off my shoes and separate my laptop from the rest of the luggage.
The plane itself was 757 which, while not empty, was definitely not full. I had intended to read, but was intrigued when the LCD in front of me, normally dedicated to their in-flight entertainment, displayed a Linux boot-up screen, penguin and all. The system itself had problems during the flight, but I hope those were due to transmission and not software. I found myself suckered in to watching CNN coverage of the disaster in New Orleans (saw some Fox too). Frankly, the attitude of the anchors was pretty disgusting. Paula Zahn is only slightly less despicable than Bill O'Reilly.
We (the people in the plane) touched down in New York around 10PM local time. As usual, baggage took its time in coming, so I had a nice long wait in JFK. My grandmother, who as usual had arrived far too early, was (equally predictably) frantically searching for me. Once the baggage was claimed, we got in the car, and despite a few bottlenecks, had made it home in a bit more than an hour. Dinner was an interesting collection of miscellany, followed almost immediately by sleep. Only 10PM California time, but 1AM here, so definitely time.
September 2 Getting acquainted with the city.
Had a hard time waking up this morning. Jet-lag and all. My grandmother insisted on making sure I didn't get myself lost on my first day of research in the city. Probably a wise move, and the company was certainly appreciated. Still, took us a good bit of time just to get to the train station. Finding a parking lot to leave the car for the day wasn't quite trivial.
Train from White Plains to Grand Central station is convenient, but takes a good 40 minutes. Add to that at least 5 minutes to switch to the subway, and about 10 minutes on the subway, not to mention time to walk, and getting down to NYU's library takes well over an hour. In our case, it took a bit longer, since we made a few stops, and had to buy tickets (Paris metro is quite a bit cheaper, even adjusting for Euro-inflation).
My reason for going down to the NYU library was of course research. Fortunately, not only was the library easy to get into (a quick look at my Stanford ID and I had a card, quite unlike the process for visitors at Green), but the materials I was looking for were easy to get at. Talk about open stacks: no waiting for them to request the rolls from the lower level, you simply go to the relevant shelf and pick it out yourself. The microfilm readers were also an improvement over BNF: loading them was easier and the image they displayed was quite readable.
After a few hours of digging through Le Temps (and finding very little), I called it a day and we headed home which took a good hour and a half. Dinner was stuffed cabbage and vegetables, a truly 'kosher' dish as my grandmother put it. I suppose I'm retreating to my roots. After dinner, we restored my grandmother's AOL connection (her password had stopped being accepted after a PMU reset for her iMac). Finally we had a look at some of my Paris photos before I went to bed.
September 3 Research in New York.
I was supposed to get up at 7, but that was too difficult, so I got up at 8 instead. My quick breakfast was made much less enjoyable by the fact that the milk I tried was definitely going bad. I can't seem to escape bad milk. My grandmother dropped me off at the White Plains station, where I managed to get the express train to Grand Central, despite numerous contradictory reports as to which train it was (the one on track 1 or track 2).
The sunny weather, my book (Hemingway's 'A Movable Feast') and the fact that it was Saturday morning made everything seem good. A glitch in the subway system meant I had a good 10 blocks to walk through Chinatown, which let me see all variety of little stalls set up on 4th Ave. advertising cheap Thai food and jewelry. The library itself was almost empty, as I spent 6 hours grinding my way from Feb. to April of 1936.
I did actually find a few interesting bits, though not a whole lot of things that were fully relevant. Le Temps seems to have been the paper of the lower bourgeoisie: republican (to a fault), and equally anti-fascist and anti-communist, although for the most part more the latter. It's election day message was in essence against the Popular Front, but for the Radical Socialist party (who, despite the name, were neither), the key ingredient of the front.
My return was rather uneventful too, although I found it amusing that Hemingway should find Ezra Pound such a nice fellow, given his later predilection for radical right politics (which Hemingway decidedly did not share). At home, dinner was enjoyable, as we argued over the relative merits of globalization and whatnot. I find the neo-liberal argument, that globalization is inevitable, as unconvincing as the paleo-Marxist argument now seems, that a worker's revolution is inevitable. In history, there are very few things that are truly inevitable. After exploring the possibilities for upgrading my grandmother's internet access (56K seems painfully slow), I called it a night.
In New York, doing research. Made it through a lot of Le Temps and L'Humanité. We had a very large gathering that brought in about 25 family and friends. Managed to visit a few New York sites too.
At home, recovering, and preparing to go back to school. Lots of packing.
Moving in to campus. A lot of furniture arrangement issues. First time I've had a single-occupancy room on campus, but it's been hard to fit everything well. Most things are comfortably settled in. Classes are Arabic, Logic, Flute and history research. First week of school wasn't too exciting, although the food has been exceptional!