Jan. 28th, 2007

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When I was down at Rachel's this time, she taught me how to brush my hair starting with the tangles at the bottom, and working my way up, which is much, much faster and more effective than the way I'd been doing it heretofore. I have to assume that this has been an established part of human hairbrushing technology for hundreds if not thousands of years, so I find it entertaining that I had long hair for more than a decade before I found out about it; what comes, I suppose, of descending from short-haired people!

Man, January is almost over. I answered Brendan a while ago about The Pinhoe Egg and Slave Day, and I've been taking classes for about three weeks now. Metaphysics is fun in the expected Philosophy way, as well as containing a majority of people I've either been in philosophy classes with before or recognize because I've often seen them about the halls. This seems very thematically appropriate for my last semester.

As you may recall, I eventually after a fair deal of consideration chose a section of English with an unknown professor, entirely because it was going to read Le Guin's The Dispossessed. I arrived on the first day of class to find that that professor had fallen victim to some unspecified misfortune, and that his classes had been taken over by one of the other professors in the department -- who brought with her an entirely different syllabus. So much for making decisions! Perhaps it was a little lazy, anyway, to try to keep so to studying books I already love, although I would like to take an English class focused on SF sooner or later. Meanwhile the revised class is adequately interesting, although I'm noticing a strange trend in the English classes I've taken so far of treating the students like we're younger and less, hm, trustworthy, than most of college has assumed -- a strange mixture of academic rigidity and intellectual tentativeness.

Astronomy is pretty awesome in a bunch of specific Astronomy ways I didn't quite know how to expect. Here are some of the awesome things we do in Astronomy:

  • We talk about the night sky in ways that are fascinatingly anachronistic -- for instance, we speak as though the stars were affixed to a rotating 'celestial sphere' -- which feels very Steampunk to me.

  • Sometimes we get laser pointers, which we use to point at where various stars would be if the room were the sky. We tend to sort of swarm; most of them will be clustered pretty close to the right place, but there are always a few outliers wavering nervously around the edges, so that, while they're clearly part of the general effort to point, they also wouldn't seem to be anywhere near it if no one else were up there. One of the laser pointers instead of a dot projects a large shape of the Eiffel Tower, which was apparently a prank of a previous term's class (the professor is French).

  • We watch slightly corny Discovery Channel-style movies about the makeup and behaviour of celestial objects (one each for the sun and the moon, so far), which leave me feeling surprisingly but powerfully peaceful, like I'm exactly the right size in scale.

  • Once she gave us grids and had us colour in the boxes based on charts of sunspot activity, so that we could see the patterns over years. (They sort of make eleven-year-long arrowheads.) The general joke is that they've misunderstood what type of 'arts students' we are, but actually that was a lot of fun.


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Andy H.

February 2013

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