Archive for April, 2006

Just before bed

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

It’s been a pretty difficult, work-heavy week.  One working all-nighter, many completely filled days of classes, meetings, rehearsals and more work.  TGIF, I say.

Today, I partially repaid my sleep debt, I went to my favorite store and spent the afternoon at Prof H’s author conference as a scribe, which was both interesting and gratifying.  I really respect her eloquence of speech, which always sounds so textured, informed and composed in a way not commonly associated with extemporaneous speaking.

And then afterwards, unexpectedly, there was a very lovely dinner at Casablanca, where we shared appetizers, but I also ordered duck liver paté and the venison entrée.  Hmmmn.  I was so stuffed.  In fact, I still am stuffed, and it’s just past 4am.

But sitting amongst all the career academics and listening to their flurry of conversation about the institutions they had studied and taught at, their thoughts on publishing academic work and questions of audience, readership and marketability, I was never more glad for the classes I’m taking now.  Concepts, ideas and frameworks referred to as germane to the dinner conversation included Derrida, Bakhtin and Wittgenstein (“Wittgenstein is very clear about this: you don’t change people’s minds, you change the language games”), all of whom I have read this past semester.  Or was assigned to have read this semester; technically I didn’t read either the Bakhtin (which I lugged to Madagascar) or the Wittgenstein (though I have a lovely hardbound 50th anniversary commemorative edition).  As a bonus I also recognized the South African wine ordered (Glen Carlou) from having bought some of their very excellent 2002 Pinot Noir in London last summer.

And now, having watched Madagascar with Emily and Mary, followed by the sort of meandering, profound conversations that occur in common rooms after 2am, I am finally headed to bed.  Goodnight.

Crunch week

Monday, April 24th, 2006


After a non-stop week and weekend of back-to-back events going from Sat 7pm Veritones-Dins-Voxjazz gig to 11pm Joanna’s birthday party at Daedelus with Doug to the 1.30am Kong to 7am One-Day-Class at Boston to 4pm meeting with Lynn to 6.45pm gig to 10.30pm Salient “mint julep” cocktail party with Brandon to 1am Pfoho belltower party (!!) to 1pm Dins infosession-rehearsal to 4pm Park Street Church service to 6.50pm Sanders soundcheck to 8pm Greenroom rehearsal to 9.15pm Prefrosh Jam to 10.30pm HUCEP to 2am Sign-in to 3pm section…. and the two prefrosh I hosted this weekend have slipped away, very neglected, before I even learnt their names.

And now I have to face 4 response papers, a problem set and a ton of research coding that I have to turn in/present tomorrow.

See you next week.

Food rant update

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

Still no luck in my self-declared “No Food” days….  last night the dining hall served an exquisite chicken saltimbucco (an Italian-style grilled chicken breast with cheese and proscuitto ham), and chicken florentine soup (mmmmn) as well as Emerald Beef, which I’ve always liked.  Needless to say I felt stuffed all night.

Tonight the chef has whipped up individual tasting plates of some fantastic sweet-potato and potato balls served with a sweet butter and grated-cheese sauce.  Then among the hot entr

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Last week was a blur of activity, what with hosting four prefrosh (new admits), which as Asya pointed out, is really a full-time commitment (even though Dave kept insisting I wouldn’t have to babysit).  While I’ve cleared the resulting sleep debt, the work debt is really escalating to crisis point very rapidly.


Friday night was Southeast Asia Night, which was a surprisingly well-attended and fun event.  We got to hang out, see many of the Singaporean upperclassmen together (for once) and eat yummy food including Vietnamese spring rolls, Thai iced tea and kueh lapis fedex-ed directly from Indonesia by the resident billionaire’s son.  On Saturday we rented a lovely big car and made the drive down to Brown University in Providence, RI for the Singapore Lecture Series which was… just about exactly what I’d expected.  There was good food, fairly interesting speakers (but rather desultory content) and a beautiful campus.  It was a nice chance to take a nice drive and rigorously discuss subjects I’ve been thinking about recently with Darryl, Mel, Shirley and others (as much as a conversation can be rigorous).  Maybe at some point I’ll type up and post a few of my musings about Singapore, which largely represent a perspective I’ve only heard vague echoes of elsewhere despite straining to find similarly inclined individuals.


Sunday was Easter.  Happy Easter! (And because I’ve had mortifying encounters with this, Happy Passover!)  I finally did laundry (so many “missing” items of clothing turned out to have been in my overstuffed hamper), read some Al Young and some Rushdie and made it to the gym.  Overall a good, fairly productive-feeling day.



To return to an old theme, the dining hall here really has a way of thwarting any diet moderation plans I have.  Recently they’ve been serving up unbelievably tempting delights like grilled asparagus spears, chicken and green pepper soup, coconut rice and wasabi peas (which have suddenly become a staple at the garnish counter along with sesame crackers and sunflower seeds).  *fake grumble*  I love my dining hall.


And right now, instead of working urgently on my final research paper for my junior seminar (due tomorrow!), I’m needlessly binging on… wasabi peas (again!), spicy popcorn (from Madagascar; they’re almost more potent than the peas), dark Valrhona chocolate (I still prefer the smoothness of Scharffen Berger) and an entire pound of fancy (and super-fattening) confectionery from Pastiche, an extremely highly-rated confectionery and caf

Indri Indri!

Monday, April 10th, 2006

Ok, so I have now mostly recovered from the nasty flu bug I had (yay!), and I have wrestled most of my room, my online accounts and my work schedule into some semblance of order.  I even made it to the gym this morning for the first time in… maybe a month?

Ah yes, Madagascar.  I have uploaded pictures on Flickr, but as yet I have been too busy/lazy to give them titles or captions, so you can go see them here (or just click on the pictures in the previous posts) to look at them, and maybe they’ll all be properly catalogued eventually.

Overall, the trip was a great blessing, and offered continuous evidence that I am indeed very blessed (I call this being “lucky” for lack of a more handy term).  For example, at the beginning of the trip, because our flight to Paris was delayed we were left with very little time to make our connecting flight to Antananarivo (the capital of Madagascar).  As a result, none of our luggage made it onto the plane…  except mine.  Which was fortunate not only for me, but also for the girls in my class since I had stuffed my huge bag full of clothes and shoes which I intended to give away in Madagascar and so had brought about four times as much as I needed.  So for nearly five days they wore my t-shirts, used my sweatshirts as towels and borrowed my toothpaste.

My Professor developed a pretty horrifying allergy/infection on her feet after the first night in the dry forest after she had to sleep without a mosquito net (which was in her delayed luggage) and got bitten by many unknown insects.  I am not exaggerating when I say that her swollen, purple, blistering feet seriously looked like special-effects makeup from a horror-film.  She was largely out of commission for the later part of our trip (and had to go to a hospital in the city), but we had the help fo her Malagasy friends to guide us around and by then we had gotten enough of a feel for the culture and the language to manage by ourselves just fine.

I really want to say something about the shopping, which was really good (I came back with my bag nearly full again despite having given away almost all my clothes and shoes), so maybe I’ll do that in my next post.  In the meantime, do take a look at this remarkable video I took of an Indri (one of the largest lemur species) in the forest of Andasibe making communication cries that sound like whale song.  Just click here to watch.  Incidentally, “Indri” means “look!” in Malagasy, so the scientific name of the species (Indri indri) means “Look, look!”  🙂

PS: The latest complaint I have that’s beginning to be a bother is the absurd light sensitivity my eyes have developed in the past month or so, especially my right eye.  Never mind that I was in dark glasses nearly the whole of Madagascar, I actually often experience severe discomfort (along with profuse tearing) looking at projector screens in lecture, out of the dining hall window or even right now as I type.  I’m hoping it’s something easily fixable…  like build-up on my contact lenses or something.

Coquerel’s sifaka (26 Mar 2006)

Monday, April 10th, 2006

Coquerel’s sifaka (26 Mar 2006), originally uploaded by J Y.

Although considered rare and endangered, we saw many groups of these gorgeous lemurs at Ankarafantsika, one of their last population strongholds. This picture was taken right at the entrance to the National Park.

At the Lavaka (28 Mar 2006)

Monday, April 10th, 2006

At the Lavaka (28 Mar 2006), originally uploaded by J Y.

I’m standing on the edge of a large canyon (or “lavaka”) that represents massive erosion due to deforestation. So much of Madagascar’s red soil has been eroded that satellite pictures show the countries rivers vividly “bleeding” into the Indian Ocean. I remember the oppresive heat and glare during the long trek across a scorching savanna of red soil and scrubby grass to get here.

Tiako Madagasikara

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Apologies for the lengthy hiatus.  I just spent the last two weeks on a trip-of-a-lifetime to Madagascar, and the day I left I was too tied up with packing and taking a midterm to post even the briefest away message.

The past 24 hours were spent flying across three continents (Antananarivo-Paris-New York-Boston) and catching a horrible flu bug which I hope goes away in a couple of days.  In the meantime, I have to make up two more midterms and get pack into the swing of things with achey joints and a vocal range about an octave lower than normal.

I promise lots of fabulous pictures and a maybe a story or two soon enough.  Just give me a chance to make it to the weekend 🙂