Thursday, September 30, 2010


Guess who didn't go to Sinai tonight? Apparently a huge sandstorm came up that made the highway unsafe, and we never even made it out of Cairo before turning around and returning to the dorms. All in all, it was an interesting two hour bus ride with my friends, even though we didn't get anywhere.
I won't bore you too much with what happened at school today, except to say that the map quiz I've been studying for never even got brought up. Of course, once Professor Ikram didn't say anything, none of us were going to! My Arabic quiz went well too, even though I did have to cram to learn all the vocab right before class started.
who drew that on the table?
Today was the first day I was asked for my bus pass, ever. It was a little weird, but it turns out my card wasn't activated to scan for the buses, so I had to turn it in to do that and pick it up later in the day. It was an unnecessary hassle just like so many other things are in Egypt.
When I got back from campus, it was about 6:00, and I was supposed to be in the lobby to leave on the trip by 7:00. I plugged everything in to charge, and finished packing, then headed downstairs to wait for 45 minutes until the bus got there. During that time, I helped Jen catch a cab to the airport for her flight home, and also saw a girl get her foot run over by a speeding car. She was okay, but it was really scary. At least the car stopped after, even if they didn't stick around for long, and at least they didn't actually hit her.
The weather had been windy all day, with lots and lots of dust in the air, so I guess the news of the sandstorm shouldn't have been a huge surprise, but it kind of was. It was pretty disappointing to know that our entire weekend was cancelled just because of a freak event that no one could have predicted. Oh well. The trip is going to be rescheduled, thankfully, although we're not sure when yet. Hopefully some people who paid but weren't able to go this weekend will be able to next time.
Since we were all a little bummed about having to spend the weekend at home instead of in Sinai, everyone on the bus (about 8 or 9 Zamalek students and 2 RAs) started making new plans for the night and the weekend as soon as we got the news that the trip had to be cancelled. Two of my friends actually decided to take a train to Alexandria instead, and last I heard, had already bought tickets to leave tomorrow morning. I'm not quite that desperate to get out of Cairo, myself. I'm looking at the trip being cancelled as a good opportunity to catch up on my sleep and reading, and take a breather from everything that's been going on.
My plans for the night, once the bus had turned around, morphed to include getting dinner with three other students at a restaurant called Crave. I'd actually walked to it before, although I didn't really know where I was then. I had spinach ravioli, and it was delicious. We also decided to splurge and order dessert, so I had sweet potato pie with caramel. I would have taken a picture for you, but I was too busy eating it.
here's the menu instead.
does the woman look like mrs. claus to anyone else?
On the walk home, I saw a very familiar face.
it's a hooch-dog! sorry it's so blurry...
It was very strange to see a dog that looks so much like mine, and know that it really wouldn't be a great idea to go up and pet it. He was very well behaved when we walked by, though, and didn't even move. I might walk back that way another day this weekend to see if he lives there, and maybe get a better picture or talk to his owner.
So, no catch-up blogs this weekend (yay!) but also no monastery of St. Catherine and no sunrise from Mt. Sinai (boo!). It's all working out, though. I just have to remember to go with the flow. This is Egypt.
Also, this is completely irrelevant to the rest of this post, but I just heard that Tony Curtis passed away. This makes me sad. But it reminds me of this movie, which I love, and which I have an excuse to watch again now, since Tony Curtis is one of the stars.

Poor Charlie Potatoes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

a new pair of church jeans

I finally slept in today for the first time in a few weeks. It was lovely, although I still woke up at 6:30, and just dozed until my alarm went off at 8:00. I caught the 10:00 bus to campus, and still had plenty of time to hang out in the library before I had to go to class.
Dramatic Lit was interesting, as usual, even though we were talking about Everyman, the most stunningly terrible play ever. Well, not really. It just wasn't my cup of tea.
Egyptian Lit was boring, as usual. I think I actually fell asleep a few times, which I continue to feel bad about. I really don't want to be disrespectful, and I really don't want to get caught, it's just sooo boring! Maybe I'll grab some coffee right before class next time and see if that helps. It's worth a shot at least.
I also got a paper assigned in both classes today. The Dramatic Lit paper won't be too hard, it's just six pages on a pretty simple topic, but the Egyptian one might give me a little trouble. I have all quarter to write it, which is already encouraging procrastination, but since it's supposed to be ten pages at the bare minimum, I won't be able to procrastinate for that long, just because I'll have to do some real research to even find that much stuff to talk about!
While I was in the library today, I came across this. Some of you have probably already read or at least heard of the article, but I thought it was interesting, so I'll post it. If you're interesting in seeing how you score on a similar quiz, go here. You can also compare your results to the people who were actually surveyed and see how well you did compared to a bunch of different categories. I did pretty well myself, I thought. Actually, I was pretty proud. Good for me.

Because my friend Jen is going back to the States tomorrow, we all went out to dinner to Abu al-Sid tonight. The koshary was just as good as last time, and luckily, we got to sit at a table this time, even though once again we didn't have reservations. I won't push my luck again, though, next time I'm definitely calling ahead!
mmm...  koshary
We also went to the waffle place again for dessert. What can I say? Waffles are delicious.
When I got back to the dorms, I did my homework, then started to pack for my trip this weekend. Yes, another one. This time, we're visiting St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai, and also climbing Mt. Sinai to see the sun rise. Yes, this means another weekend of catch-up blogging. I know, it makes me sad too. I don't like it, but once again, I'm not willing to miss writing anything down. So, tonight's will be the last blog I post until Saturday night, when I'll do my best to post both tomorrow's and Saturday's. Or something. It will work out, just like it did last time.
In really sad and frustrating news, look at my favorite pair of jeans:
that hole is right where you think it is
I only have two questions about this. One, what the hell did I do to rip my pants like that? And two, how long has it been there? I'm not quite sure I want to know the answer to the second question. Suffice it to say, these poor jeans will have to be retired much earlier than I was planning, because I only bought them two months ago! I mean, really? What kind of jeans do that? They're not even cheap ones. And now they have a big rip right in the back pocket. What the heck? </rant>
So, I'll be off to Sinai tomorrow, and I'll be back blogging on Saturday night, just in time to do all my homework and then go to class the next day. Still, Mt. Sinai. Wow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

quick unfortunate arabic lessons with elise

I had another lazy day today. With naps. Unfortunately, I also got some work done. How dare I?
I read a morality play called Everyman for my dramatic literature class, which was actually kind of interesting, since I knew to look at it through a lens of medieval church propaganda. Of course, I also spotted this:
look at the last two characters. really? yeah.
I don't know this particular Doctor Who episode seems to be stalking me, but it definitely is. (For those readers who don't watch the Doctor, which, by the way, you should, the episode is Blink, the one Charlie sang about in my last blog.)
Basically, the day was wasted on homework and sleeping and lazing about. It was pretty nice to have another short break from school, though. I'm starting to like the weird schedule that AUC keeps. School on Sundays is still pretty odd, though.
My only other accomplishment for the day was making another vlog, this one teaching some common Arabic words and phrases.

If you have time, check out the other videos on the channel that my friends and I share. I think you'll enjoy them, and don't forget to rate, comment, and subscribe!

Monday, September 27, 2010

complaining - a good way to get what you want?

Sometimes, complaining seems like the only way to get stuff done at AUC. If you talk to the right people at the right time and tell them your problems and make a big enough deal about it, your problem will most likely get solved. This is fairly contrary to the way I generally go about getting things done in the States. It does seem to work in Egypt, though, sometimes in magical ways.
For instance, I was talking to my friend today about scholarships, and how I hadn't even been told of the result of the largest scholarship I applied to, even though it was long past the notification date. Not three hours later, I checked my email in the library to find that I had been accepted for the scholarship. Clearly, my complaining about it made it happen. What else could it be? Crazy random happenstance, maybe.
The scholarship is for international students studying Egyptology at AUC, and I didn't really expect to get it when I applied, because I'd heard that the competition was really intense. I'm so excited, though, because I've never won anything like this before! As long as crazy Egyptian/AUC-ian bureaucracy doesn't screw things up, everything should go great. It's a big relief since I was starting to wonder about money for my travels around Europe this winter break, but now I don't have to. Yay!
I also studied for my map quiz in the library today. Thankfully the quiz turned out to not be today, but at least I've already started studying. Here's one of my practice maps, and my tempting alternative to studying, no matter how many times I've already read it:
which looks like a better use of my time?
Today on campus all the students in the plaza, including myself, were treated to an impromptu guitar and singing duet of that classic American tune "Rockstar", by Nickelback. I'd post the video here, but I really can't stand that song, so I won't. I'm sure you know it, though. The guys who were playing looked like they were having fun, though, so good for them. I certainly wouldn't be brave enough to play that song (or any other, for that matter) in public that loudly.
yay for enthusiastic covers of sucky songs!
After I got home, I met up with my friends to go out to dinner. Well, I say dinner. I mean waffles. Well, I say waffles. I mean waffles covered with chocolate. Well, I say chocolate. I mean nutella and ice cream. Yeah. That's what I mean. It was delicious, and while I probably won't substitute it for dinner again, I'll definitely go back for dessert!
waffles and nutella = love (probably a bad life strategy...)
And that's it for this Monday. Tomorrow is my day off, and I'm planning on sleeping in for as long as possible, and maybe taking a trip to the Cairo Museum. I'll let you know!
(Also, since maybe my luck will hold, I'm going to complain about something else: my roommate goes to bed so early! I hate to disturb her, but to avoid that, I have to leave the room completely just to talk to my family on Skype or do my Arabic homework. I feel like I can't say that she's disturbing me by going to sleep, because I know that's a horrible thing to say, but still. I would rather her wake me up in the middle of the night by coming in late than her go to bed early and force me out of the room. I guess that's just because I'd rather have something real to complain about, huh? Yeah, I'll stop whining now. Sorry.)
borders recommended this to me today.
get your own ideas, james patterson!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

'please don't let me have a blood clot' and other topics

I went to see Student Health services this morning, just to see if they could tell me what is going on with my leg. It hasn't stopped hurting for very long at all since it started Thursday* morning.The pain hasn't gotten worse either, which I guess is probably good.I don't really know what I expected from a doctor's office in Egypt, but I wasn't really surprised at what went on. I was sent back by the front desk to consult with a nurse about which doctor to see. When I talked to the nurse, she told me that her daughter gets cramps too, because she doesn't walk around enough. On a campus as big as this, with no means of transportation around the dorms either, somehow, I don't think that's it. If it were, I think I would probably be happier.
She seemed like she was about to tell me to leave when another nurse came in and asked if she'd taken my blood pressure. The first nurse said no, not yet, but then when the second nurse left, just asked me if I was having headaches or 'blood pressure complaints' and since I wasn't, didn't bother taking it. That was comforting.
Then I sat in a chair that the second nurse pointed me to to wait to see a doctor. It didn't take very long, and he was a pretty nice guy. I told him what had been going on, and then he poked my calf for a while, asking if it hurt (which it did), and then told me it was probably just a cramp.
Hello? I know it's a cramp! I told you it was a cramp! It's just a cramp that has lasted for FOUR WHOLE DAYS. What are you going to do about it?
Basically, nothing. I mean, I don't know if there's really anything to do at all, I was just expecting a little more than what I got. He did give me a prescription for pain, which I guess is nice, but I don't really know if I need it. I'd rather have it hurt and know that something is still wrong than not feel it at all. Does that make any sense?
He also gave me a recommendation to go to the hospital where AUC international students have insurance to get an ultrasound, to make sure I don't have a blood clot. From what he told me of the symptoms of a blood clot (swelling, warmth, discoloration, and pain), I don't have one, just pain. But, since the insurance does cover it, I'll make an appointment and go, just in case. There goes my fun Tuesday.
Anyway, classes went well, even if I was falling asleep a lot of the time. In Egyptian Literature, we read the story of the shipwrecked sailor, which I highly recommend. It involves a sailor, a shipwreck, a snake, and a shooting star. It's not as alliterative as my description makes it sound.
Arabic was funny today, because we played Memory, trying to match Arabic words with their English definitions. I didn't do very well, but that's okay because I still learned the vocab. I also learned a bit of Japanese vocab too, because one of my classmates (who went to a British high school in Cairo) asked my friend Satomi (who is studying at AUC from Japan) for a 'rubber', which really surprised me until I realized she meant an eraser. I'm not sure if Satomi knew either, but it all worked out in the end. It got me thinking though, and so I asked Satomi later what the word for a whiteboard eraser was in Japanese, because it couldn't be the same as a normal eraser, since part of that word means rubber. It turns out it's 'kokuban-keshi', while a normal eraser is 'keshi-gomu'. So, I learned a new Japanese word today, and also really surprised the other girl when I started speaking nihongo to Satomi. It was fun.
Most of my day post-classes has been spent studying for a map quiz that I may or may not have tomorrow in Art and Architecture. If it is tomorrow, it'll serve me right for not studying earlier, but I really hope it's not until Thursday! I will get a much better grade then, and not worry about it so much.
Here's the map I've been working on filling in:
there are 102 places to be put on this map, and i'm still missing about 15
zoom in on lower egypt!
Also, post doctor's visit and classes, I was having a fairly crappy day today. When I got off the bus in Zamalek, I was totally prepared to go up to my room and crash, but instead I decided to walk around the block, do my grocery shopping, and get some dinner from the really good taamiyya (falafel) place that Emily showed me a while back. By the time I got back to the dorms, my day was looking so much better, that I might just have to walk around every day from now on. Even though I got hissed at (that'll teach me to wear a semi-low cut but completely modest shirt!), it seriously improved my mood.
Even better, my friend Jen and I spent about an hour watching Amanda Palmer videos and hanging out, which was really fun, and I'm sad that she's going home in just a few days, even though I know it's the right thing.
So, classes tomorrow, and keep your fingers crossed that I don't have to take this map quiz! I don't want to fail the first test I take in Egypt...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

tanis and bubastis

I woke up this morning without any clear idea of how the day was going to go. I knew two things for certain: 1) I had no more water, and 2) I needed to be downtown by 8:00, which left me no time to go buy some, except at the cafeteria, which was closed. That was it.
In the lobby, I met up with two other students who were going on the Tanis trip and we shared a cab downtown, where luckily, we found a McDonald's, and I bought a water bottle for the day. I still didn't have any food, but my lovely friend Kim, ultra-prepared as she was and always is, let me eat the extra banana that she had brought with her. Thanks Kim!
Actually, we were joking about Kim being so prepared all day long. In one purse, she had a giant water bottle, her wallet, mobile, iPod, book, and probably more, as well as hand sanitizer and a mongoose. I'm not sure about the mongoose, actually, since I never saw it, but she did say it was in the zipper compartment, so I may never know for certain.
Also while we were at McDonald's, I stole toilet paper from their bathroom, which turned out to be my one concession to being prepared for the day.
Once everyone had arrived, we drove in the bus to the new campus to pick up the students who lived there, and then we were off to Bubastis, an ancient site in the middle of the delta. Here's the map of our trip:

The site of Bubastis is actually in the middle of the modern city of Zaq-a-ziq, so everywhere we looked we could see cars and apartment buildings, but that was okay. Originally, the site was a temple, although the monumental structure is completely gone now because like a lot of other sites in Egypt, it was torn apart for its limestone (which was then used to make quick lime for mortar), leaving the granite facing stone lying all around. If you look carefully, it's still possible to see how some of the temple was laid out, which was pretty amazing.
a colossal statue of a goddess, reconstructed
what most of the site looked like - granite blocks everywhere
a row of granite cobras with no heads
(this is why kim needed her mongoose)
you can see the outline of the hypostyle hall in the columns
monuments are great, because i can take
pictures of soldiers and not get in trouble
a well where the holy family stopped on
their journey through egypt, according to legend

After we explored Bubastis, we used the unfinished visitor's centre's scary scary bathrooms (thank you McDonald's!) and headed for Tanis. The drive was about an hour and a half, and we had a police escort the entire way. This was a little annoying, because I think we were drawing enough attention to ourselves already, what with the huge bus, that we didn't really need a squad car and a motorcycle with both their sirens on to announce our presence. The drive went really slowly, because we had to pass through lots of little villages on the way. It was interesting to see another part of Egypt outside of the big city that I've gotten used to. Well, that is, when I could stay awake. The professor lectured a lot during our drives, and he had one of those soothing documentary type voices and it just put me straight to sleep. I did manage to get a few pictures, though.
donkeys and a motorcycle
We arrived at Tanis around 1:30, and after the professor talked for a bit, explaining where everything was, we got to wander and take whatever pictures we wanted. The site was very different than what I expected, but still very interesting. Like Bubastis, it was full of granite blocks either left behind from previous constructions or moved to the site by the government for safe-keeping. Here's what we saw:
first, adorable puppies. don't worry, i didn't touch them.
a broken colossus of ramses the great, about 10 ft tall
another broken colossus of the pharaoh
- the queen is just visible behind his leg

the royal tomb of psusennes the somethingth - originally, the 'top' was
at ground level, and everything you see here was buried.
ancient egyptian sprite bottle - so much litter everywhere!
sorry, i don't remember what this means
it's probably horus/the pharaoh, though
broken columns
pretty sure this was the inscription on the cover
of my hieroglyphics textbook
hieroglyphs inside an opened tomb
inside a tomb - the granite sarcophagus
is it? could it be? the well of souls? yes. (no.)
who is that mysterious man in the distance?
Just as I ran out of water and was dying to get back on the bus, we did, and the air conditioning was probably the most beautiful thing ever. Then the drive back to new campus took three hours, and another hour to get back to downtown and catch a cab to Zamalek. Yay for Egypt traffic, again. Our cab driver was nice, though, and even admitted he didn't know where we were going, but was happy to follow our directions instead of just driving around randomly. As soon as I got into the dorms, I bought two big bottles of water and some dinner, and I'm not feeling so tired and dehydrated anymore.
So, that was my trip, and although I didn't find the ark of the covenant, I've concluded that going to Tanis was a good idea. It was a really long, really hot day, full of lectures and driving and big chunks of rock, but I'm glad I went. Even if it ate up my last day of the weekend and I have to go to class tomorrow and talk about Antigone and The Shipwrecked Sailor and pretend I know Arabic. That's okay. I went to Tanis.

Friday, September 24, 2010

'thank you for your disturbance'

*I should be blogging right now. Why am I not blogging now?* Oh wait. Never mind.
Those thoughts have been going through my head for the last hour and a half, but I guess they finally got through to me.
Today was a good weekend day to not do anything. I think I succeeded in that, while also accomplishing something! Good for me. I did my Arabic homework, and it only took an hour and a half, because I had to go on a hunt for a new dvd to use. The one that I bought with my textbook (used, of course), finally decided it was too scratched to go on living, and ended itself, taking my dvd player program with it, at least temporarily. Luckily, I could borrow the dvd from a friend, and even better, soon we'll be onto the new textbook, and it won't be a problem any more.
the picture that justifies egypt's rating (from here)
I learned an interesting fact today. Did you know that Egypt ranks as 49th in a list of the world's 60 most failed countries, with its neighbor to the south, Sudan, coming in at number 3? Read here for pictures and the full list.
Now, I don't really know how I feel about this. I love Egypt, almost everywhere I've been has been welcoming and intriguing and alive. I'm not saying there aren't bad things about the country (police state, anyone?), but I don't think it ranks as a 'failed country'. At least, not from my point of view. I guess there aren't that many countries in the world (193 according to the world almanac), so if you put 60 on your list, that's almost a third of all the countries we have! When I was reading through the list, it seemed like almost a roster of the third world, which may seem accurate given today's definition of that term, but according to what I learned, the 'third world' is just those countries that weren't allied with either the United States (the first world) or the Soviet Union (the second world) during the Cold War. [Please, Mr. Thomas, anyone, correct me if I'm wrong!] Is that really why so many countries are underprivileged and in trouble today? Because they didn't pick a team, or nobody wanted them? Is that what happened to Sudan? To Cambodia? To Egypt? Or is it the countries themselves? Did they do something wrong to invite trouble? Or is it a few people in each country, making bad decisions for the masses? I don't know the answers to these questions that I just made up, and I don't know if I can or want to. And since I'm rambling anyway, I think I'll move on to happier things.
I spent about three or four hours today watching John Green, one of my favorite authors, live on the internet. The purpose of the liveshow was to raise money for two things: jamesatwar's cat Chomp Chomp's operation (to remove a ribbon from his intestine that would otherwise kill him) and to fight malaria. Like John said, it wasn't either/or giving (i.e. either I can help James' cat or I can fight malaria) but both/and giving (I can both help James' cat and I can fight malaria). The liveshow was a success, and we completed the $1500 needed for Chomp Chomp to live to chomp another day, and raised $500 dollars to buy mosquito nets to fight malaria. [If you want to fight malaria too, please go donate to Malaria No More.]
John, aside from donating money to both causes himself, set up an auction system for viewers to promise donations in return for John doing things. In this way, I got to watch and listen to John read from his first book Looking for Alaska, read a chapter from his never-to-be-finished zombie apocalypse novel, and oh yeah. Proclaim his love for unicorns (which, according to John, suck like malaria).
The moment was captured by a screenshot-ready nerdfighter, and is now preserved for eternity on facebook:
The entire proclamation of love can be viewed on the effyeahnerdfighters tumblr here as well (and I highly recommend you do so).
Aside from the Arabic homework and my interview with the Egyptian police, the liveshow was the highlight of my day, as you can probably tell. What's that? I didn't tell you about the police yet? Okay, fine.
I got a call this morning around 10:30 on my room phone, which almost never rings, from Waleed, and RA of the dorm. He asked me to come down to the garden, because there was an 'officer who wanted to speak with me.' I was fairly confused and a little worried, until he clarified that it was about the squirt-gun incident from last week. I went down to meet them and found my friend Halima already there. We explained to the officer what had happened, and he took very good notes and seemed interested, but eventually pretty much dismissed what we had to say. According to him, it was not a threat to Americans' security, not targeted at Americans, just teenagers out being stupid. I agree with him, except for the part about the targeting. It may not have been assault or harmful in the long term, but it was targeted specifically at American students at a specific place and a specific time where American students reliably are. There is just no way that a random car full of Egyptian teenagers with a squirt gun would hit the same place multiple times randomly just as a bunch of American students were walking to the bus. That just doesn't make sense. That being said, I don't think there's a whole lot to be done about it, unless they get caught in the act.
At the end of the interview, the officer asked us to write down our names and information, including passport numbers. I tried to remember mine, then asked if he wanted me to go up to my room and check. I guess it seemed to him like I was trying to avoid giving him my information, because he immediately started reassuring me that he was a police officer and worked with the US Embassy. Yeah, dude, I get it. Now can I go get my passport number for you? Eventually I did, and came back and gave it to him, and it was all fine. He said goodbye, and thanked me 'for my disturbance', and English phrase he seemed very proud of. I didn't have the heart to look puzzled, so I just smiled and went to eat lunch.
And thats was it for today. Tanis tomorrow! If I can find my way to the downtown campus alive, that is...
p.s. I know this is post is a little nerdfighteria-heavy already, but here's John's latest video, one of my favorites in a long time:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

fedoras and bullwhips (and phasers?)

I woke up around 4:00 this morning with the most painful cramp in my calf that I have ever felt. I tried to stretch it, and it just wouldn't go away at all. I didn't get any more sleep, and the pain didn't go away until I got home from school, at around 6 pm. It was a long day. Now my leg is fine, though, and I really really hope that never happens again.
smoggy thursday
Cairo was really smoggy this morning, one of the worst days I've seen. I feel a little lucky that the campus doesn't get covered with smog, since it's so far out in the desert, but the bus ride usually makes me forget that one positive side of new campus. (Also, I sat behind rude people twice on the bus today. The first guy talked really loudly on his phone the whole ride to school, and the second guy sat down and immediately reclined his chair all the way, crushing my legs. That was a great way to spend an hour.)
In other, less painful news, I discovered a student newspaper that is suckier than The Bottom Line. Any current UCSB student should know what I'm talking about.
The newspaper did have sudoku (oh, sorry 'sudoko') so that was alright at least. The puzzles were both pretty easy, even though I'm out of practice. Sadly, I couldn't finish the crossword puzzle. It was just too difficult for me.
a hand made crossword puzzle all about finance - a main feature
Good news on the work-study front! I got an official offer of a job in the library archives today, and all I have to do is submit a commitment form to be processed, and then I'm in! I'm a little less enthusiastic about the job than I was when I started looking into it, just because school is starting to get busy, but I think I'll really enjoy the work. I'll let you know more when I get started!
I finally hung out with my friends after school today, and we went to get dinner at Pizza Hut, then wandered Zamalek for a while until we found a bakery/gelato shop. The gelato was amazing, and really cheap, but I'm definitely going back for some desserts sometime soon. They had all kinds of Egyptian cakes, as well as more Western style desserts. It was funny, though, because the kind of cakes they described as 'Western' I've only ever really seen before in Japan:
delicious looking fruity chocolate cakes
Tomorrow I plan to catch a taxi to downtown, just to explore a little bit and find where the old campus is, so I'll know ahead of time when I have to meet there to leave for Tanis on Saturday. I'm so excited! Did I already explain why I'm so excited about Tanis? I'm too lazy tonight to check back and see, so I'll just explain again.
Remember that movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark? It had that one guy? With the hat, and the bullwhip?
yeah, this guy. this guy right here.
Anyway, in case you never saw the movie (it wasn't ever very famous or anything), in it, an archaeologist named Indiana Jones (swoon) goes to Egypt in search of the lost Ark of the Covenant, stolen from the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem by an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, and lost forever when his capitol city, Tanis, was buried by the desert. He also fights some Nazis and gets the girl and shoots a guy in a sword fight. All in a day's work. But I digress.
Basically, the city of Tanis existed. It was the capitol of a pharaoh named Sheshonk I, who is famous now for his tomb at Tanis, and for being mentioned in the Bible as having sacked Jerusalem and plundered Solomon's temple. So, if the Ark of the Covenant is anywhere, why not Tanis?*
So that's pretty much what I'm going to do on Saturday. Go to Tanis, follow in Dr. Jones' illustrious footsteps, find the Ark, and melt some Nazis. That's the rough idea, anyway. I'll let you know how it turns out.
my plan for saturday goes something like this (but i'll keep my eyes closed)
Also, I just wanted to say, I searched "ark of the covenant indiana jones" on google images to get the above picture, but it also gave me this one, and I don't know why:
it must be fate
*Actually, there's a ton of reasons why not Tanis, mostly because there isn't anything really left there that hasn't been dug up, as far as I know. But I can still dream, can't I?
** And it should go without saying that none of the pictures from movies and tv shows belong to me, they are all the property of their respective copyright owners, and I mean no infringement by using them here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

a ramble on various topics

Today was ridiculously procrastination filled. I got up on time, got ready on time (probably because I didn't have to worry about my roommate, since I haven't seen her in three days - or does that mean I should worry about her?), and caught the bus on time.
Then I got to school, and promptly started procrastinating. In my defense, it's not like there was a lot of stuff I actually had to get done, but I sure didn't do any of it at all. I read the entire internet (the parts of it that I frequent, anyway), at least three times today - once on a library computer in the morning, once on a library computer in the afternoon, and once on my iPod touch on the bus ride home. I have to say, it is incredibly sad and pathetic that I get better internet on the bus than I do sitting in my dorm room. In my room, it can take ten minutes to watch a three and a half minute youtube video, not to mention how long it takes to actually upload one! On the bus, I can watch that same video in three and a half minutes, and that is how the internet is meant to work. Yes, I remember dial-up, and I know that almost any wireless connection I have is infinitely better than what we had with AOL, but the world has moved on, and my generation demands better internet. How else will we be able to watch our illegal US tv shows the same night they air at home (or rather, the same morning, Cairo time)? How else will we be able to skype with our friends and families without the call connection being lost, the sound fading out, or the picture freezing into hilariously pixeled parodies of our loved ones? The point is, I guess, while there may be nothing I can do about it in real life, whatever internet connection I have does at least allow me to post my complaints about it to my blog, and I guess that's all I need. (Except for the tv shows. We all need those.)
The three and a half minute video in question:

Wow, I really did not expect to write that much about really nothing at all. Sorry if that was really boring. The rest of this post probably won't be much better!
33.33% of my class time today was interesting, which I guess is okay, since some days, like Monday and tomorrow most likely, are 0% interesting. In Dramatic Literature we discussed Antigone, which I really liked because I haven't really discussed that play since high school, and getting a different perspective on it was neat. The professor for that class is hilarious too, and he's really good at getting the other students and me to get to conclusions ourselves, instead of just telling us what to think about the plays. I'm the only American student in that class too, so it's almost like my perspective on the plays is always a little bit off from what the rest of the class thinks from an Egyptian standpoint. It's kind of nice actually, because it means that I almost always have something to say. I'll be getting my participation points this semester! (Actually, it's a little hard not to get participation points in any of my classes, just because they're all so tiny. I guess that's a good thing?) For example, I used the word 'blustery' to describe a character in Antigone today, and got props for it. I almost wonder if it's just the fact that while all the students in the class are fluent in English, I may be the only one who thinks in it. That's almost weird to contemplate. Does everyone always think in their native language (outside of language classes, anyway) or do people ever think unconsciously in a language they didn't learn as a child? This is a serious question, my friendiss, one which will have to be explored as soon as I learn to read people's minds...
Well, that was pretty much the most rambling and disjointed blog post ever. Pretty sure there were some beginnings of thoughts up there that never got finished. Will I go back and check? No. I kind of like it.
My blogs for the past few days have been lamentably short of pictures, or at least that's how I feel. I'll do my best to take a few snapshots tomorrow if I see anything interesting.
I haven't posted a MIKA video yet, but I've been listening to his stuff a lot. Here you go:

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

it's so fluffy i'm gonna die

I thought my hair was going to kill me today. I really did. It was fine in the morning, when I was walking around campus slowly roasting in the sun, getting important items of business done, or as the case may be, not getting important items of business done. It was fine at noon, when I sat in the freezing cold rare books archive, learning about the proportions and grids Ancient Egyptian artists used to make their tomb paintings so regular. It was even fine when I swam laps in the AUC pool, although it was a bit weird to not have to wear a cap.
not me, but what i felt like. (and not my picture.)
My hair was not fine after I swam. I didn't bring shampoo to campus, because I didn't think I'd need it. I was wrong. Apparently, aside from making my hair clean, my shampoo also keeps it from being fluffy. I don't know how this works, but I know it does. As soon as my hair started to dry after my post-swim shower, I noticed something was wrong. My hair wouldn't stay still. It wouldn't lie flat. It was fluffy. I don't like my hair to be fluffy, so this was not a great feeling. Plus, it was really windy out, which meant my hair was fluffy and messy, which is a lovely combination.
Anyway, no one cares about my hair. Unfortunately, there's not a lot else to talk about today. Most of what I needed to do on campus today I did, except for reserving my spot on the Tanis trip, which hopefully I'll get to do tomorrow. Swimming was actually really fun, and I'm glad that it worked out. I rented my locker and borrowed a towel, and went swimming. Really, the only problem was the towel, which was about the size of a bath mat and about as useful for drying off. Whatever, though. Now I've got my locker, I can bring my own towel if I want. Problem solved.
And that was pretty much my day. Sounds exciting, huh? Back to school tomorrow, for adventures in Art and Architecture, Literature, and Arabic.
I did spend some time today filming a new video blog. Two in a week is hard, but hopefully this is the last time I'll have to do that. Hope you enjoy!

"The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, and why nobody comments on Elise's blog posts."
I really, really like comments, I swear. Even just a few words can make my day. I won't think you're a creeper, I promise. (If this sounds like a plea for attention, that's because it is. And I've decided I'm okay with that.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

everything was beautiful and nothing hurt

I think I've reached a point in my life where I really need to read Slaugherhouse Five again. This has nothing to do with the rest of this blog, I just wanted to put that out there. It's a very good book, and if you haven't read it before, you should, because it is an amazing book to read for the first time, and every time I re-read it, I enjoy it just as much, but I always wish that I could read it again for the first time. And now for something completely different, an actual blog with actual events that actually happened. Probably.
I didn't really have any business to take care of on campus this morning, but I went early anyway, just because that's my routine now. I found my way to the Business Support Office and turned in my passport to get my student visa (finally), and I should be able to get it back in two weeks. That won't be in time to take it with me on my trip to Sinai, but I made sure to have copies made so I'll at least have that. (A small complaint about photocopying at AUC - it is very nice to have a photocopying service for large amounts of text and things like that, but it is not very nice to not have any copy machines at all available for a student to use themselves.)
After that, because I can't seem to stop, I went exploring again. I didn't get lost this time, thankfully, but I did have to make some rather interesting detours. I kept a short photo diary of my 15 minute adventure, so you can see how it went.
Once again, I tried to make my way to the elusive HUSS balcony. I found these stairs, which looked promising, except:
bottom: where i am, top: where i want to be
in between? no stairs.
I searched for stairs in the science building, and eventually found some, although I had to walk past a bunch of maintenance guys sitting around on their break to do it. I think they were wondering what on earth I was doing using the back stairs. Hint for them: if I could find the front stairs in the first place, I would use them.
I climbed up one level and found myself in the Biology department, as I had to enter the science building from the 1st floor (that's one above plaza level, which is one above ground level, for you non-AUC-ans.)
they had pretty butterflies

and not so pretty bugs (insects and arachnids for you, sarah)
and a really NOT pretty insect as big as my hand
And then suddenly, I was heading in the right direction, across the very catwalk I had been aiming for yesterday.
the view from the catwalk to my destination balcony
Although technically I was on the correct floor at this point, I still had to climb down a half flight, and then up one stair before I found where I wanted to go, because HUSS is just built like that.
l: where i was before, r: the correct staircase
And so I succeeded in my quest to conquer the route to the HUSS balcony. Not being one to shirk a challenge of course, I didn't want to take the same way back down. I exited through a doorway off the balcony into HUSS, searched for some stairs, found them, climbed down, and found myself walking out a door from the Administration building, which I don't remember entering. Go figure.
Then I went to class. Unfortunately, Professor Ikram wasn't there today, no doubt because she is off somewhere in the desert doing professional archaeologist-y things, for which I completely forgive her. Instead, we had a guest lecturer, Professor Swanson, who was very nice and definitely knew what he was talking about. I'm not sure how relevant the content of his lecture (mud bricks through the ages) will be for the course as a whole, but I'm completely serious when I say that it was definitely interesting.
mud brick arches still used today in cairo
Apparently, Egyptians have been using the same mud brick to build the same type of architecture from the Pharaonic period until modern times. Also, we learned that Professor Swanson really likes arches. I can't really blame him, arches are pretty cool. If you build a lot of them, you can make a room with a vaulted ceiling, and if you spin them around, you can make a dome. The arch is a very versatile structure.
Another interesting tidbit from the lecture was that apparently, a huge import of Egypt is... SAND! I never would have guessed. (Yes, IMport, not EXport.) Egypt imports sand to make bricks and glass, because its own sand just isn't right for some reason. Too bad, because we've got tons to spare on the Cairo sidewalks alone...
My linguistics class was pretty interesting today too. We talked about how language and society kind of both influence each other and how different theories of the function of language in culture have been proposed and tested over the years. One of my favorite parts of that class is the youtube videos that the professor shows us every once in a while, because they're always funny and relevant. Here's my favorite so far:

Somewhere out there is an Egyptian version of this commercial too, but I like the German one better.
At some point today, I found myself trapped in a plaza behind the library, and had to hop a short wall to get out, which led to this nugget of AUC wisdom:
never assume that an auc sidewalk won't dead end or that a plaza will have two ways out. sometimes, you may have to climb a wall to escape.
I also found these pretty flowers by the Administration building. I know that I've been told what they're called, but I can't remember for the life of me. Little help?
mystery flowers
After all my classes were over, I headed for the gym, so I could finally go swimming. Unfortunately, it was too late to rent a locker that would then allow me to borrow a towel, so it had to be postponed. That was pretty disappointing, actually, since I was looking forward to it all day. Which brings me to my next point - why I will be going to school on a Tuesday.
I have Stuff To Do On Campus That Cannot Reasonably Be Accomplished On A School Day. The capital letters make me feel better about myself, and my inability to stay home tomorrow. The things I have to do include such fun activities as locker-renting, reserved-book-reading-in-a-very-cold-room, and trip-to-Tanis-reserving. All of these should be prove to be well worth my time, right? No? Well, at least I'll get to go swimming.
And here is a new video for you, a song by the Indelicates: