Thursday, May 13, 2004

Ugh. I am beat. Just a few days walking around University Park campus, and look at me - a wet noodle in an ugly hawaian shirt! This is the wages of employment in the IT industry.

I'm done with the History Day judging. Nothing too exciting to report, and I figure I oughtn't dish on the submissions lest one of the students - or worse, one of their parents - go googling & find me mocking their hard work.

I found myself sitting with museum employees, or history magazine editors, or teachers, or whatever. Then I had to admit that I'm just a customer support drone. One guy started referring sarcastically to me as the judging board's "historian". Or maybe it wasn't sarcasm, I don't know. I fake certitude pretty well.

The judge from last year's bedsore trial was one of the first-time contest judges this year. I did a doubletake when I spotted him at the orientation. He didn't remember the trial, for which I don't blame him. I sort of wish I could forget it.

University Park is a terrible welter of construction and cheap new buildings. It's as if the campus has gone metastatic. In ten years, there isn't going to be a free square foot of land which isn't claimed by the athletic department or as part of a dedicated garden. They finally finished the "Peace Garden" behind McAllister building - the one which was the 1996 class donation. It's hideous - sort of a deranged alien rendition of a rock garden, in which the rocks are symmetric stone blocks placed evenly and rigidly in a geometric grid, with dull little trees in between. Just looking at it killed another little chunk of my soul.

There's a new patio on the street between the HUB and Osmond Lab. It's built around a cool waterfountain - a wall of black granite, scored diagonally with lines along the vertical surface to interrupt and guide the water. That part is nice. The part where they placed three-foot-tall blocks of rough-cut limestone in the place of wooden or metal benches has me at something of a loss. They look like incredibly painful places to sit, cut so that the stone ridges will cut right into the back of your knees. Why do architects hate us so?

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