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:


  1. Thanks for the insect pics. Insects aren't animals right?

    The flowers kind of look like lantanas I think?

  2. Of course insects aren't animals. If they were how could vegetarians eat them? :P
    And I think you're right about the flowers. Thanks!

  3. This was actually a few days ago, but I missed it the first time. Oops! I always want to read Slaughterhouse Five, just because of the quote in your title. Something about it is just...shivery? But in a good way.

    I love the uncooperative architecture. It's like if Hogwarts was cranky!