Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When Deans Speak

I don't usually go in for pointing out grammatical mistakes or typos in other people's emails. After all, we're dealing with an electronic medium, spur of the moment writing, relaxed proofing standards, etc... But when (a) the author in question is an administrator of an Ivy League school, (b) that Ivy League school is my alma mater and (c) she's a representative of the administration actively seeking to disenfranchise alumni from our traditional involvement in campus affairs, well then, all bets are off.

So anyway, when Dartmouth Dean of First Year Students Gail Zimmerman emailed the student body about some campus incident or another (see the background details here), she included this embarrassing nugget (emphasis added):

Whether that ability exists or not, it would not likely stop her emails from reaching your inbox given the dearth and ready availability of other free email systems such as hotmail, gmail, and yahoo.

Dean Zimmerman is an administrator who insists that Dartmouth students use diffuse constructions like "First Year Students" instead of "Freshmen." I guess she's too busy harnessing the power of language to build a new social order to bother consulting a dictionary.

Via the Dartmouth Review.

New York's Bridges

The Gothamist reports today that over the next two years, six of New York City's major bridges will turn 100 years old. The City has formed a commission to coordinate the celebrations.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

UWS Spring: Trees by the Water

I took a walk with the family yesterday down to the 79th Street Boat Basin. The trees along Riverside Park where in full bloom. What a beautiful day in the UWS.

Apartment Renovation Update

Our guys haven't ignored the rest of the apartment while work in the master bath progresses. They've been getting ready to lay down new bamboo flooring by working the floors with a strong citrus-flavored anti-adhesive to get rid up the remnants of the original par quet.

They're also finishing the framing and surfacing of the bedroom walls and walk-in closet.

My wife's been looking for a mini-chandelier for the closet. Chandelier in the closet? Well. we are planning on decorating the apartment mostly contemporary / modern, so the wife thinks a classical crystal - frilly chandelier in the closet might add a bit of humor into the mix.

It's tough to appreciate the detail from these photographs, but the contractors are doing a great job plastering and smoothing out the new walls in the bedroom:

Master Bath Update

The tiling work is probably 85% done in the master bath. As with any project, we've encountered a few snafu's along the way. Neither we nor our architect or contractors realized we needed to order 1/2 inch edging tiles (the ceramic equivalent to moulding) for the shower stall. We've placed a rush order for those pieces but the shower can't be finished until that additional shipment arrives from Italy (in 3 weeks!).

Meanwhile, the quartzite slabs have gone up on the walls in the water closet area (around the future medicine cabinets and sink). Even covered in white plaster dust and without grout, I think the quartzite was a good choice:

The contractors also did a great job cutting the quartzite down to 4" by 4" squares for the shower floor (shown here, again pre-cleaning and without grout):

The top of the shower bench is looking good:
The third tile element in this master bath is the white marble tiles for the floor. I like the brown-gray veining my wife picked out on this pieces:

These last two photos, however, show another snafu with the tiling. The contractors had to cut the 16" by 16"tiles into rectangles to finish the edge against the wood floor of the hallway. So far so good. But they inexplicably found two or three marble tiles from our batch with no veining and (what looks to us like) distinct yellow discoloration. Now, when you look into the bathroom, it looks like we selected two different types of marble for the floors (see the first horizontal row of darker tiles in the photograph above). While the two-tone marble effect is a common enough choice for many bathrooms, it isn't something we had contemplated. The choice is all the stranger since they used another couple of the "good" tiles (no discoloration, distinct veining) for the sections of the floor that will eventually be hidden under the vanity and closet floor. We're going to ask the contractors to redo that small section if we have enough "good" tiles left in our order.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How the West Was Lost

The Black Lips. These guys rock. Check out their MySpace page for info & tour dates.

I hope it was a nice suit

We have a saying around my office, "You are a professional, act professionally." In other words, it doesn't matter whether you choose to be a lawyer, a journalist, a cab driver or a cashier; YOU should do YOUR job better than I could if I stepped into your shoes for a day.

With that in mind, here's an excerpt from a recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. The facts of the case aren't really important here (the case involves a female physician bringing a Title VII discrimination claim against the Tulane School of Medicine after the medical school denied her tenure). Her attorney's conduct, on the other hand ...

Phipps: . . . so that’s about all I have to say, Your Honor. I don’t have anything other than that. You know, my client lives in Chicago. We communicate occasionally on the phone, she sent me the documents. And um, she’s a doctor. She continues to earn a living, and she’s generally unavailable if you call her because she, she’s sort of a traveling doctor.

Judge: That’s not much of thing you come in here and tell us, I guess.

Phipps: Well, my attitude is, the [district court] judge got it right . . . And as far as whether even Ricks should apply, I don’t think it should.

Judge: What do you do about Morgan?

Phipps: I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know Morgan, Your Honor.

Judge: You don’t know Morgan?

Phipps: Nope.

Judge: You haven’t read it?

Phipps: I try not to read that many cases, your Honor. Ricks is the only one I read. Oh, Ledbetter, I read Ledbetter, and I read that one that they brought up last night. I don’t know if that’s not Ledbetter, I can’t remember the name of it. Ricks is the one that I go by; it’s my North star. Either it applies or it doesn’t apply. I don’t think it applies.

Judge: I must say, Morgan is a case that is directly relevant to this case. And for you representing the Plaintiff to get up here—it’s a Supreme Court case—and say you haven’t read it. Where did they teach you that?

Phipps: They didn’t teach me much, Your Honor.

Judge: At Tulane, is it?

Phipps: Loyola.

Judge: Okay. Well, I must say, that may be an all time first.

Phipps: That’s why I wore a suit today, Your Honor.

Via Above the Law and the Legal Profession Blog.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Well, that explains *everything*

Dada-ist provocateur, Yale student and future cultural editor for the New York Times Aliza Shvartz explained this weekend the idea behind her blood laced senior art project:

It is the intention of this piece to destabilize the locus of that authorial act, and in doing so, reclaim it from the heteronormative structures that seek to naturalize it .... As an intervention into our normative understanding of “the real” and its accompanying politics of convention, this performance piece has numerous conceptual goals. The first is to assert that often, normative understandings of biological function are a mythology imposed on form. It is this mythology that creates the sexist, racist, ableist, nationalist and homophobic perspective, distinguishing what body parts are “meant” to do from their physical capability. The myth that a certain set of functions are “natural” (while all the other potential functions are “unnatural”) undermines that sense of capability, confining lifestyle choices to the bounds of normatively defined narratives.

Okay. It is now clear to me why I almost failed out of college. For MY senior thesis, I failed to externalize the suburbanist modalities of my personal hagiography by subjecting the "self" to ultracrepidarian fissures.

Meanwhile ... anybody want to wager she doesn't know what "normative" means?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday morning around Sherman Square

Master Bath (Con't)

It is now the begining of week 3 of our apartment renovation. The primary tiling of the walls of the interior master bath is almost complete. Here's a couple of close-ups of the machine the contractors are using to cut the ceramic tile. I'm not 100% sure what one would call this machine, but "water cooled rotary saw" sounds about right.

They've been slowly but steadily adding rows of tiles to the main walls. The green plastic spacers are of course temporary; they'll be removed once the previous day's work has set.

And here a couple of shots of the architect's plans for the bathroom. It's good to see they're not just making it up as the go along.

All in all we are pleasantly satisfied with the progress in the bathroom. Of course it occurs to me I haven't yet posted an explanation of what the final product is supposed to look like. Basically, we're shooting for a two-room master bath mini-suite. The outer room will have the quartzite walls and include the sink, medicine cabinets and linen closet. This outer room will be separated from the inner bathroom by a sliding pocket door with glass insert. The inner room will house the shower and commode. We're ordering the shower doors and the glass-insert for the pocket door this week. I'll post additional pictures in a couple of days - whenever there's another visually signficant step towards the final product.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Historic Photos of Wall Street

I've been browsing the archives of public domain images in the Library of Contress website and came across these historic photos of Wall Street (I work a couple of blocks away in downtown Manhattan). Anyway, here are few interesting photos and prints that I've found:

Looking west towards Trinity Church in 1878.
A print from 1847.
Another old print and a couple of stero prints.

Inching My Way to the Corner Office

One of the administrators in my firm has told me I need to move offices to make way for the incoming summer associates. This is my current view:

And this is the view of one of the offices they've offered me:

Its going to be difficult but I think I'll be able to adjust.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Shock Value: Updated

Well, that didn't take long.

Yale: Student's Art Project Only 'Creative Fiction'

A Yale student’s bizarre art project in which she claimed to have repeatedly impregnated and induced abortions in herself is a work of "creative fiction," the university said in a statement this afternoon.

A college spokesman said the project was "designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding [the] form and function of a woman’s body."

I guess it takes a college girl (yes, I use the word "girl" deliberately, as only a child would pull a stunt like this) to find ambiguity in how the female body functions. I guess it's also safe to say she's not friendly with anyone in the medical school.

The Panic of ‘73

This cartoon appeared in Harper's Weekly, Oct. 18, 1873 (from the Library of Congress):

The caption reads:
“Cartoon showing Pres. Grant helping female personification of America out of the wreckage of Wall Street, saying ‘I am glad to see that you are not seriously hurt. The houses in this 'Street' have been shaky and on false bases for a long time’.”
This is another entry in the “The More Things Change” file ... The Panic of 1873 was a “severe nationwide economic depression” caused (in part) by the unintended consequences of short-sighted federal monetary policy. Congress moved the U.S. from a silver- and gold- backed currency to a gold-only backed currency. The move triggered a national sell-off in silver positions and led to the demise of at least one well established banking house (Jay Cooke and Company).

The parallel is not exact, of course, but the recent downturn in the housing and credit markets has arguably been exacerbated by the easy money policy of the Fed: by keeping interest rates low, the Fed increased the supply and thereby drove down the price of credit, leading lenders to lend more and borrowers to borrow more (since both lending and borrowing had become comparatively cheap).

And then there’s the byline of this November 3, 1907 New York Times article explaining the Panic of ’73:
“It was Then the Era of Paper Money, So That the Great Credits Which Were Created Had No Currency Basis.”
‘Nuff said.

72nd Street Control House and Verdi Square

A bird's eye view of the 72nd Street Control House, the newer 72nd Street Subway Station and Sherman Square's bigger cousin to the north, Verdi Square.

And now a little Classical Gas

This is old but awesome:

But she insists it's not about "shock value" ...

This is probably the most disgusting thing I've read about in years:

For senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse.

Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself “as often as possible” while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.
Some of us pro-choice social conservatives (yeah, we do exist) have been saying for years that the scare tactics used by the Democrats in the abortion debate belittles the seriousness of the issue and leads to poor choices by the very people the abortion regime is supposed to help.

Reminds me of a quote by Abbott Lawrence Lowell:
"Of course there's a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshmen bring a little in; the seniors don't take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Master Bath (Con't)

We've picked a white and light blue pinstriped tile for the shower walls; these are tiles that we've custom ordered from Italy (we ordered this stuff months ago - 10 weeks lead time from Italy!).

We're also using quartzite squares (4 x 4) for the floor of the shower and in larger scale (12 x 12) around the medicine cabinets. The contractor was originally planning to build a cantilever bench (~ 1 foot deep x 2 feet wide) using a quartzite slab, but apparently quartzite doesn't come that big (either that or it is prohibitively expensive. I wasn't paying too much attention when my wife was explaining this part). So the contractors are framing a bench block that will be covered in quartzite tiles (if my math doesn't fail me, the bench tiles should be 7 x 3 ... or 8 x 6 ... whatever. I tend not to sit too much in the shower, anyway).

Master Bath

Work is really progressing with the master bathroom - this bringing my ownership of private restrooms inside the city limits to a grand total of two. I'm particularly excited about this phase of the project - mostly because, even though we recently celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary, I haven't really bought into the whole "bathroom intimacy" aspect of marriage.

Here you can see they've tarred the wet areas of the master bath.

In other news, crude oil hit $114.93 a barrel today.

Here you can see the drop ceiling for the shower and what will be water resistant recessed lighting fixtures.

Preliminary Framing

Here you can see the metal framing for what will become a drop ceiling. You can just make out the current popcorn ceiling. We could have had the ceiling scraped, but that is a labor intensive process that would have added days and dollars to the project. We also wanted to add recessed lighting, but since our mid-70s-construction ceilings are made of concrete, there was no easy way to accomodate recessed lighting besides effectively re-pouring the entire thing. Better to just drop the ceiling 3-4 inches.

More metal framing for the drop ceiling and for the outer bedroom / hallway wall.

The brown sheet of plywood shows the depth of what will become the master bedroom walk-in closet.

I'm not sure what the fire extinguisher is doing inside the wall ...

Here you see the framing for the master bath. The grey square in the upper quadrant of this picture is the framing for one of our medicine cabinets. We decided on his- and her- medicine cabinets for each side of the bathroom sink, another framed space is opposite this photo. The blackened trapezoid figure on the floor is the metal and tile framing for the master shower.

Demolition and Drywall

The contractors have done a good job ripping the studio to hell and putting up some basic framing. The space feels tiny but I am reminded that there are several hundred pounds of trash that will be coming out of the apartment before too long.

Bands I've Known - Part 2

Jump to Bands I've Known Part 1 here.

5. Pedicabo - A Dada arthouse experi-core outfit I performed with in college. I have to say "performed", not "played", because it was never really about the music. The concept of the group was a bunch of too-cool-for-the-Ivy-League punks who not only did not know how to play their instruments, all of their instruments were stolen. Take that, Bill Joe Armstrong! I lost about 2 years of guitar chops trying to learn how to play like I couldn't play. Oh, and Pedicabo means something really bad. Still, we managed to put out 4 albums and a British EP, plus a few bootleg tapes.

6. Muncle Steve - Five or six guys with one tenuous link or another to Boston, gathering together once or twice a week in Alphabet City for beer and loud music topped off with a midnight run south to Houston for some authentic Cuban arroz con pollo. Yeah, we were part of that mid-nineties Lower East Side rock revival. And yeah, we rocked.

7. The Menloves - no, not that kind of menlove. Named after a 1830's Court of Common Pleas tort case. We were a bunch of 1Ls performing for a law school Talent Show. Not much talent on display that day, my friends. Yes, I have video of this one. No, I won't post it.