There is No Escaping Consequence

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is a natural law. Not a suggestion but a law. A ball dropped from a tower will fall, and an object at rest will tend to stay at rest till acted upon by an outside force; laws.newyearsfoodtableHolidays with family and friends are wonderful, but as is the case with most things wonderful, they do not happen without work and some sort of inevitable aftermath. The bigger the party, the more work there will be before, and surely, the more work there will be after. Many will eagerly give advice on how to deal with the work, I will not. It is enough for me to say it exists and is inevitable. No matter what you do, it will exist.afterpartyYou could pay to have someone else clean up, ignore the carnage and let it sit for a day, or maybe ask everyone to stick around and lend a hand. Fine solutions but they are all just methods of dealing with an existing fact. For every good party or meal, there is an equal and opposite chairsNow in all such things a person can choose to set  plan in motion but they cannot choose what will actually happen. You can send out invitations but you cannot force someone to show up. You can bring your kids to the party but you cannot guarantee that they won’t drop a plate on the carpet. messBut you should always take the chance.

You control the controllables the best you can then throw the dice. You enjoy yourself then deal with the aftermath come what may. Otherwise a holiday is just another day. Otherwise there are no great times spent with good company.

Just make sure you are prepared to scrub the carpet.

Forrest Gump says life is a box of chocolates. I say it is a party.

Tis’ the Season

Working for an academic institution means keeping an academic calendar. I’m not sure how exactly my calendar is academic but I do know I get a nice long Holiday.

So what shall I do with this time? Be useful?

Of course not.feet upWith my time I have had fine dinner conversation with an Argentinian student who got in a very public argument with his homeland’s president, then another someone who is in part responsible for bringing us such fine products as the Pillow-pet and Stompies, then yet another conversation with a different Argentinian who thinks it likely that those who argue with the president are avoiding taxes… oooh juicy!

Yet amid this life of excitement and intrigue, I mostly run errands.1 pound meat

It is called “Red-ing” terminal despite it being spelled Reading. I am giving this language lesson to you despite my being on academic holiday. What a workaholic I sign

The sociologist Elijah Anderson considers this place one of the “Cosmopolitan Canopies” or places where all demographics intermingle peacefully. He has obviously never been here at lunch time during the flower show and I am guessing he has no explanation for this:onions

Yes friends, those are chocolate dipped onions. It is the Vegas of foods, sugary coating on something innately smelly. I should not judge; I have never tried one. But I have been to Vegas so it is the onions who get a pass on this one.

In the heart of the market is a place worth paying for parking. DiNic’s.DiNics counterPull up a stool next to these guys or get it to go, but order the roast pork with broccoli rabe. Don’t go treating broccoli on a sandwich like a chocolate covered onion, give it a try. The travel channel did and then named it the best sandwich in sandwich

I’m not sure the Travel Channel got it completely right, but it is surely top ten.

In the event you find yourself in the area and want to buy me something, a natural desire, here is what I want:balsamicI will wait with anticipation for your gift. Don’t worry, I’m patient.

My days are not all errands. I’m painting again. More to come on that shortly.

O yes, and Mr. Yankee-Whiskey-Papa… well done sir. Well done.

Boston College

Doug Flutie. I’m sure there is more to the place, but really… in my mind it is mostly Doug Flutie.ImageWandering around campus I saw no undersized mullet wearing super athletes, or if I did, I did not know what I was looking at. But then that is the story of Flutie Flakes, no one really appreciated what they were looking at.Image

Underdogs aside, this campus like so many others, does pay attention to the window dressing. Stone walls, arched windows, and wood paneled walls are there, but so are the harps.ImageThe school houses one of the largest collections of Irish literature and they know the right accessories with which to decorate. I saw first edition James Joyce along side Samuel Beckett.

I’m not sure if any of them wore mullets or ever had a breakfast cereal named after them, so again, Flutie wins.Image

Mercer University

I had never been to Macon Georgia before but my information told me Mercer university merited a visit.

Mercer was founded in 1833, stayed open during the civil war, and then just quietly became a good school. They don’t have a football team, have not made it to March madness, so most of us have never heard of it.

When I was there it was obvious the school had pride in itself despite its national non-recognition. It was more obvious when I began meeting students who appeared more excited about science then socializing… not the undergrad experience I remember.

This is a good school.

I could go on about this and that but really, the thing that struck me the most, were the portraits of past presidents in president’s hall.

Old guys but not painted in old style? I have by now been in a lot of “president’s halls” and no one else does this. I like it. The paintings themselves are OK, but the idea is what I appreciate. An old southern school not afraid to be just a bit more modern, or perhaps even irreverent with its past? Refreshing. These portraits were surely an ode to history, but done so without rebel flag waiving or a longing to return to a past when things may not have been “ideal” for everyone.But even stranger… this statue. Look at it. Look up at my header. Look back…

I refuse to look it up but I’m sure mine was first.

Penn State

They call the place happy valley, though it has not been so much that this year. As I drove over the hills my mind drifted to my Alma Mater’s book store which sells T-Shirts that read “Not Penn State”; then I saw this.

Then right after that I saw this.

That explains everything. Maybe the football program is divinely inspired (the sport itself is in fact divinely inspired. There is no room for argument on this) and should be protected at all costs? yeah, no.

The sadness in the whole series of events is that Penn State is first rate in so many other things. Granted the campus did not awe me, I have no deep love for gargantuan straight lined building that scream 1972.

But if you are a scientist or educator, or aspire to be one.. or aspire to being so many other things, it is by all accounts a top shelf school.

But sadly, over the past decade or so, if you happened to be an underprivileged young boy, the school was willing to sacrifice your youth and peace of mind to protect a revenue stream.

Athenaeum Providence

Athenaeum. Cool word. Cooler building.

The Providence Athenaeum is the United States’ third oldest subscription library. It was founded in 1753, 23 years before the Declaration of Independence, but 22 years after Ben Franklin founded one in Philly.

Philly wins!

But it isn’t a contest. There is just something about bookshelves that require ladders and wooden desk chairs.
They make you want to be there.

Nutcracker 1776

Tickets are a bit steep but what do you do when the ticket is to see your own kid? What we did was buy one ticket with which the Mrs. saw the first half, then we switched at intermission.pinkballerinaWhen the lights began to dim I found my seat and sat down. The woman next to me looked over and remarked, “you don’t look like the woman who was here before.”

“Yes. She looks much better than I do. She’s my wife.”

“Not better; just different.”

I think I like this lady.crossI have seen the schools Nutcracker before but it still amazes me that it is more or less a high school production.

When the Sugarplum Fairy danced onto stage the excited woman on the other side of me proudly whispered, “that’s my daughter!”

She’s very good. The mother asked which one was mine. “O, she is little. Does she like ballet?”

“She loves it.”

“I am soooo sorry,” she said in all seriousness. “We moved here from Oregon for my daughter to go to this school.”littlemakAs I watched my girl all done up in lipstick and blush, bun pulled back tight, I wonder if there will come a moment when this all ends. Will she decide she is done? Perhaps my budget will crush her dream, or maybe a stone faced instructor will one day have to tell her that her skill has taken her as far as she can go and that its over.nut2012

But none of those times are now. Now is all smiles and this strange soft, mushy feeling I get when I see her stand with straight back and elongated neck on stage. I love the wide eyed excitement in her face when she tells me all about how the little kid she was in charge of is a hand full and how she got to be in the front row and how there is an after party and can we please, please, please go?

My fear of tomorrow can wait till then.