Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yale-Harvard Game

I'm hoping there will be an important blog update soon, but for now I'll have to counsel patience. By the way, Saturday before Thanksgiving, I went down to New Haven for the Yale-Harvard football game. Now when I say 'I went to the Game,' let's be clear, I didn't actually see any football; I spent 4-5 hours tailgating. I mostly hung out with people I've never met before -- although I ran into several good ol' Branfordians -- and now have a hilarious story involving vomiting (not me) that I can't in good conscience put on the internet. I also ran into Ted Kennedy at a Dunkin' Donuts just across the Connecticut border.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cambridge and Cambridge

Apologies for the long, long delay between posts (3 weeks!), but I was probably entirely psychotic during those weeks and any post might have constituted grounds for institutionalizing me, so it was probably all for the best.

I've made it to Cambridge, MA. I'm staying with Sean, who lives down the street from the Harvard Stadium (unfortunately the Yale-Harvard game is at Yale -- although I still might go) and just across the river from Harvard Square. It's a little weird to be back in the U.S., on the East Coast, in a real college-y area (hello, 1999, it's nice to see you again).

Continuing on the Yale-Harvard axis, a month ago, I was at the other Cambridge, in England, visiting the Institute of Astronomy. If you're an astrophysicist, I highly recommend visiting the IoA. The Institute building/grounds are nice (here's a photo of the cows outside my office window) and the people are friendly and seem to socialize all day (morning and afternoon tea/coffee!).

I had some fabulous Indian food, had a look around Cambridge, and went to a party. Cambridge is a very cute place (but packed with tourists and drunken students). Here's the second oldest building in Cambridge (the Round Church, 1130):

Of course, the biggest tourist attractions are the Colleges in Cambridge. I went to (I think) Trinity, St. John's and King's -- some of the oldest and, therefore, most visited by tourists. They all charged an admissions fee, which doesn't seem quite right to me (since I was accompanied by an University employee, it was free for me). At Cambridge, walking on the very well manicured lawns is reserved for senior members of the College (hence the signs, although I saw them ignored several times by tourists).

Yale has a college system based on Cambridge and a lot of neo-Gothic architecture, so I wasn't surprised by the Colleges -- although real Gothic is a lot cooler (this is the King's College chapel):

Despite the faux-oldness of Yale buildings, they have a logic which I had internalized as being more 'natural' or more 'authentic': Gothic buildings with gates and courtyards (you can walk on the grass at Yale) surrounded by a moat next to the sidewalk and the narrow streets. Yale is in the center of the city; the moat is at least partly functional, ensuring that fewer first-floor residents have their rooms broken into, and isn't everything in England old and close together with narrow streets? The one time I visited Princeton, I scoffed at their Gothic buildings surrounded by ginormous lawns. As it turns out, Princeton has it right (sigh). Some of the Colleges are huge, and many of the Colleges back onto the River Cam, their grounds (with ginormous, beautifully-manicured lawns) covering both banks of the river (this area is called The Backs).

The river (a river?!) is crossed by some very cute bridges and full of tourists punting boats.

After a few days in Cambridge, I caught a ride from a woman I met at the party up to Manchester for a few days. If Cambridge is (sigh) Princeton, then Manchester is Ohio State -- a huge campus and University. But just down the street from the campus was a the downtown area with a lot of clubs, bars, pubs, and restaurant. It looked like a cool place to be a student. I was too sick to do too much wandering, but I did manage to watch Control, the Joy Division biopic; it seemed appropriate to watch a movie about a Manchester band while in Manchester.

So, finally, I've managed to cover England, now one of these days I'll finally blog about Amsterdam. One last note, a while back I linked to this post by Tim, gushing about the music of the Mountain Goats, but it totally bears reiterating: they're totally awesome and I don't understand how I lived before hearing their music.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.