Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for March 2006

Thinking of Relocating

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I’ll soon be relocating the blog to a different, less searchable location. As my search begins in earnest for employment opportunities I have been strongly and wisely advised to make my thoughts less visible (and less identifiable). I’ve spent the last half-an-hour trying to remove different, random pages that show up on Google or AltaVista and have concluded that my web skills are not the equal of the search engines.

That�s frustrating but given the amount of learning and code rewriting I would have to do remove the links I think that moving locations is a better option.

I’m not sure how this is going to work and when it comes down I’ll be sorry to leave behind all the entries that I have here (and Ellen’s elegant design). But I hope to continue blogging and will make any future site available to those who want to continue reading. I�ll keep you updated.

Written by furthermusings

March 30, 2006 at 9:43 am

Posted in Blogroll

Finally There

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When Charity and I moved into our apartment complex last summer I began swimming mini-laps in the pool to try to get a little exercise. When the semester started I purchased some Speedo goggles and switched to the big kids pool on campus. Since then I have been slowly working up to 15 laps, one-half mile, increasing my speed and decreasing my rests between sets.

Recently I have been feeling quite proud of my regular swims, that is until I employed my mathematical skills from which I found out that I was, in fact, swimming ~1/3 of a mile instead of a half: 15*2*65/(5280). But today I finally broke the barrier and did the full half-mile, 21 laps. I’m sure the lifeguards are amused at my self-taught and ever evolving technique and my peculiar rotation of strokes but I enjoy it thoroughly.

Perhaps I should try for a mile next?

Written by furthermusings

March 28, 2006 at 12:05 am

Posted in UNC

For the Second Time

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Today, for the second time, I am contemplating the depth of education, of knowledge, that is largely outside of my control. Today’s graduate seminar was held outside under the sun and breeze of the Chapel Hill spring. As the beer loosened our conversation during the third hour of the seminar discussion we left the articles and turned to the possibility of a new course constructed around Cold War and told through movies.

My classmates opined about the lack of knowledge of the undergraduates and how perhaps movies could help alleviate the blank stares that we receive when we talk about the culture and history of the time period. One classmate spoke urgently about the need for the undergraduates to see Dr. Strangelove to have a sense of the reality of Cold War.

As the syllabus was brainstormed this movie and that movie was thrown out, debate sparked about whether or not the book was better. What could inform the undergrads and hope to convey to them that the study of bipolarity is not about theory but about understanding the political worldview of a generation? What could help them understand that school children sat under desks for bomb drills and that people studied these topics not for grades but out of concern for their own survival? I left the class with a list of hastily scrawled titles intending to look them up on Netflix when Charity steps out tonight.

As I walked back to my bike with my slightly inebriated classmate across the North Quad he talked excitedly about movies and the inner life of DC and I felt acutely again the gap between my education and his, or between mine and my professor’s.

My list, scrawled on my paper, grew longer as the rest of the class nodded and agreed or offered alternatives, because I knew none of the titles. It felt as though, as they loosened their tongues, the methodological facade, the analytic skills that graduate school strives to instill in their students, melted away and their deeper educations and knowledge of the world was revealed as the support of their arguments and their passions.

As we walked back to our building my friend raved about how great a class period it was and I thought about the list scrawled on my paper, another list, of three or four necessary books to really be able to understand the topic. Necessary to understanding why it is being discussed and what makes it important. Another set of books I am barely aware of and have never been, nor will ever be, assigned to read.

So again I am thinking about the gap.

When I went to Clemson, I took Milton classes and enjoyed them, but as I studied my professor it was clear that his knowledge was built not on completing of this class in college or that degree but on the education he had been building since he was in grade school, with his Latin and high school classes on social alienation. I remember thinking that if I wanted to be his peer I would have to devote myself and hope to arrive 20 years later.

And I am struck by how similar the feeling is today.

Written by furthermusings

March 15, 2006 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Reflections

The Namesake

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Last night I staid up late finishing The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. Each year UNC picks a book that it recommends to all the incoming freshman to read before they arrive on campus and next year’s will read this one. I’ve read the last two books hoping that they will give me a point of connection with the students and hoping that they will prove to be good reads.

As I put it down around 1am last night I began wondering if I would recommend it, and I still am. I had originally thought that I would hand it off to my pastor and be curious about his reflections as another son of Bengali immigrants growing up in the States. But as fell asleep looking at the swaying shadows of the waving branches on our wall last night I reconsidered my enthusiastic recommendation of it.

Certainly it was beautiful in places, one or two passages when the father and son interact were particularly so. Lahiri nails some descriptions of the suburban home of the Bengali parents and I laughed at the different details that she picked up so exactly. The later half of the book is full the descriptions are of the main character’s life in NYC, the upper-class social circles that he travels in as he connects himself to a series of women whom he lives with. Once they disappear the book leaves him until he finds another, a pattern which proves to be un-redemptive. I wonder if I am to feel heartbroken for him and his series broken relationships or just shrug and say thats the way life is.

In the end I think we are to connect him back to his parents, who the opening chapters centered around. The last scene leaves the main character with his father, connected back to a moment from adolescence. In this reconnection he is stirringly connected again to the world in which he belongs but that leaves the reader wondering about what meaning the events and people in-between have had to him. And just he reconnects to the world of his parents it disappears, sold off and dismantled as his parents become as disconnected from America and India as he is.

The Namesake has left me with a hint, a vision, of his connectedness to his origins, to his name, for the first time which he is prepared for by circumstances he neither rejoices in nor rails against. Just as he becomes ready to grasp it, to return in part to who he was, his home dissipates even as he finds it again. Its a moving ending, but not in a lovely way.

Pretty, contemporary, easy to read and interesting.

Written by furthermusings

March 10, 2006 at 9:28 am

Posted in Reviews

Another Cooking Lesson

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In the future, should you read “2 cups bran cereal flakes, crushed” in a recipe I would recommend you measure two cups of cereal first and then crush them, not to crush enough flakes until you have two cups worth. I think if you were supposed to do the second it would read “2 cups of crushed bran cereal flakes.”

I woefully confess that tonight I have come to this conclusion not through my grammatical expertise but through my practical cooking experience. No bran muffins tonight.

Durn it!

Written by furthermusings

March 1, 2006 at 10:11 pm

Posted in General