Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Sorry I've been so quiet of late! I've been insanely busy and then the internet has been sick and dying here at the Stanford House, so I've been totally unable to procrastinate and update the blog. Life is rough. I have a good number of posts that I want to do before I leave, so hopefully the internet will hold up so I can cram them all in!

First up, some photography... namely, of boys trying to kill each other in an organized forum!

(Corpus Challenge day, where Oxford Corpus (which, ironically, only has one player from Corpus... and he's actually from Stanford) unfortunately lost to Corpus Cambridge)

(The aftermath of the scrum)


I've got a friend on the Corpus/Summerville rugby team, and so I've enjoyed going out and watching a few of his games over the past few weeks. For the past two, I decided to bring my camera with me and try my hand at a little sports photography!

(By far favorite part of rugby... so poetic)


(A rare moment where I got the ball meaningfully in the frame!)

Rugby is a CRAZY sport, complete with much blood and very uncomfortable-looking tackling procedures. I really like watching it though, because the rules keep the play moving a lot more than American football and the scoring is (slightly) easier for a layman like me to follow.

(Ahh, such beauty)

(Apparently this is legal...)

(...as is this)

And, it's very very hard to take pictures of! 30 men jumping all over one another, trying to grab an egg-shaped ball (that's usually tucked under someone's arm for safekeeping) and taking down anyone that stands in their way makes for SUPER chaotic shooting!

(Brief moment of sunshine on some pig-pile action)

(Leviathan-esque tangle of arms)

I had a good time, but certainly won't be dropping out of school to become a pro rugby photographer any time soon! It gave me a lot more appreciation for eventing, where you know where the subject is going and only have to think about one horse and rider at a time. Hopefully I'll be able to put my practice to work at Badminton in a few weeks!!

(More blood, more intensity)

(Love it)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tree Killer

When I last updated, I had four major assignments standing between me and spring break. The mid-length paper and the oral presentation are now mercifully complete, and I have until Monday and Wednesday, respectively, to to finish the rest. Phew! My mind currently feels like a wrung-out sponge, and so I decided to take a break tonight from the craziness of finishing off the term for a little mental downtime. I managed to set aside enough time to actually clean my room and sort my papers for the first time since probably January (I'm not sure how my roommate put up with me, except for perhaps the miracle that I managed to keep my huge mess on my side of room!). Here is a photo of result of my sorting: all my notes, outlines, and rough drafts for my seven tutorial papers gathered together (and remember that every page is double sided!):

(Yikes! So much paper!)

I can honestly say that I've never gone through so much paper in a single term in my life. Sorry, trees! I've learned that I do my best work in a combo of typed and hand-written notes, and many, many outlines, so I'm guessing that this trend probably won't improve in the near future.

I've also calculated that, between all papers I've produced this term, I've written 27,993 words over 122 double-spaced pages! This is a far and away single term record for me (even over that one term at Stanny where I had to write 17 papers!), with a 1000-word and 5000-word paper still left to submit. I must say that I'm quite proud of that, whatever misgivings I had about my writing in the middle of the term. I have more to say on the tutorial process, but that will have to wait until I'm feeling a little less wiped.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Last Tutorial Paper Submitted!

Can you believe it? It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about my embarrassment over submitting my first paper a week early! A lot has happened between then and now, and after much trial and tribulation (and a few crises of confidence), I can really feel the degree to which my writing has improved over these past ten weeks. I've learned how digest a huge amount of material in a relatively short period of time, how to really make an outline (or three!), how draft, how to revise, and how to polish. I've been truly proud of some of the work I've produced this term, and I'd like to think with good reason!

I ended up having to write two extra papers compared to everyone else in the program because of my mid-stream switch, but it was worth it to get to study such a fascinating subject in the end. I really never thought I'd enjoy really modern art, but I definitely got into it! In fact, I discovered a whole new set of artists and works that I'd never even begun to appreciate before, because I've never taken an art history course that has ventured much further than the 30s. Plus, now I can say that I written papers on 1980s American sculpture, which I think is almost as rarified as Sumerian! Well, maybe not quite...

Just for fun, here are the titles of all the papers I wrote for my tutorials this term (I love Oxford titles because they're very to the point - none of the twenty minutes wishy-washying around trying to find something poetic like I always have to do at Stanford!), along with a *somewhat* shortened summary of my thesis:

1. Who Were the Sumerians?

(Only God knows)

2. How, When, and Why was Writing Invented in Ancient Mesopotamia?

(Because they liked teh moneyz and wanted to keep track of them way back before the "0" and other such nonsense)

... (subject change!) ...

3. Cubism: A New Visual Language

(Picasso: Apolitical firebrand working in surprisingly traditional molds. Sure.)

4. Does Propagadism Preclude Realism?


5. How did US Cold War Policy Guide the Definition of "American" Art in the Forties and Fifties?
(Double Length)

(All American art has its place in the fight against the commies!)

6. Is there a Dialogue in Pop Art?
(Double Length)

(You betcha!)

7. Is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial a Minimalist Sculpture?

(Shore is, sorry Richard Serra haters)

Needless to say, it's been a ton of work, but I've also had a great deal of fun. Bring on next quarter, where I'll be tackling two tutorials at once!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Trip Back in Time

It's so hard to believe that my first quarter at Oxford is almost over! In just 11 days, I'll be packing up and heading home for spring break. There are currently three papers standing between me and freedom, so I've been understandably just a bit busy. I do have a few good things to talk about but am not feeling terribly organized at the moment so they'll have to wait until a bit later on. Instead, in digging around for some photographs to submit to a literary magazine here in Oxford, I stumbled across a few of the pictures I took last time I was here, for a day trip at the end of Pa and my horse-hunting trip to Ireland in 2006. It's so weird to look back at these photos and realize how many of these sights are now part of my every day life. Another reminder of just how special this experience truly is!

(The archetypical Oxford photo - 'No Walking on the Grass' signs at St John's!)

(St. John's chapel, which I revisited for class this term)

(St. John's grounds with Lynda, the woman I had dinner with at the ballet)

(The Corpus Christi crest!! My college!!)

(The Samuel Beckett Theater)

(Magpie Lane, which I now walk down every day!)

I've recovered from my homesickness of a few weeks ago and am feeling so unbelievably lucky and happy to be here. I've finally come to terms with some of the things about the town I had issue with at first and have figured out how to still be myself while succeeding in the Oxford academic system. I'm going to be sad to say goodbye to the friends I've made this quarter, but am equally excited to meet some new folks next term!