October 7, 2008
Entomology Major for Pitzer?
Since the end of August, the local populations of black widows (and also a lot of what I now know to be Steatoda grossa, the introduced European "false black widow") seem to have exploded. We have killed many on our stone-walled patio and along the outer corridor of our building. They seem especially partial to enclosed, wood-slat benches in the alcoves, making the students a tad nervous. Numerous extermination attempts have reduced their numbers, but I still see them everyday at Pitzer and Scripps and our friends' homes in Claremont. (The false ones are only mildly poisonous and prey on true black widows, so I guess I should look more closely before I squish and spray.)
Here's the one that kicked off the action for us back in August:
And a zoomed-in view:
Yesterday, I saw this tarantula sauntering down the sidewalk between Mead Hall and the Grove House. These Aphonopelma species are all around this area, but no one can remember seeing one in town. I guess they mostly get squished by cars or killed by pets. I captured this one and released it the Claremont Wilderness. (Actually, some friends made the dropoff and say they saw another one on the road on the way. Like with the black widows, is this an OUTBREAK? An Arachnophobia-type event? Stand by for updates....) The sighting and capture created quite a stir among Mead residents! Oliver (our nearly-three-year-old) loved it and instantly added a tarantula-walk imitation to his growing repertoire.
Ready for transport:
November 7, 2007
No, what's your real residence?
One problem with living on campus that we have discovered is that the institutional address confuses many people and causes problems. The Los Angeles Times won't bring our morning paper to the apartment. Instead, I have to paw through the stacks of papers left outside the mail room, and sometimes others beat me to it. Another issue, it seems, is pricing. We recently had a Sunday birthday party for Oliver, which we had "at home," that is to say, at the student center in the next building. Leda ordered one of those bouncy, inflatable jump-room things and was quoted a price for the rental over the phone. When it arrived and they saw that it was a "school," they jacked up the price by 25%. As if Pitzer College students were going to be bouncing in it. As if we had some institutional budget for the affair or were using it for a fundraiser. Who knows what market logic goes into their pricing scheme? "This is where we live," Leda said and I repeated on the phone a couple of days later. "This is our residence. It was a private party." No joy. MEGAZONE INC. of Santa Fe Springs, CA ripped us off. (I'll erase this last sentence if they send us a refund check and say they're very very sorry.)
October 15, 2007
Radio Black Hole
Surrounded as we are by cement and steel, we get the worst radio reception ever in the apartment. Even with a tv rabbit ears plugged into the stereo, the best NPR option is very static-y. We overslept this morning because our clock radio gave us nothing. We switched to one of the "sounds of nature" settings. I'm hoping that our Time Warner cable will give us radio stations, but I suspect that that formerly free little perk is gone with the winds of corporate greed. Maybe not. I'll dig a coax splitter out of storage and try it tomorrow. We don't even get the Claremont Colleges station, for crying out loud, and the tower is maybe 500 yards away. Maybe we can get them to hide an antenna or a booster or something in the rooftop garden!
The Los Angeles Times hasn't figured out how to find us yet; the paper is still going to the Brighton Park apartment every morning, despite two calls to circulation. I think the call center must be in Bangalore, so my detailed descriptions aren't helping very much!
Almost every student we talk to asks us how we're handling life in the dorm and particularly the noise. I think things may get louder as students in our first-year complex relax more and start breaking in the space. Right now, with the last bits of construction still happening all around and the fresh and uninviting landscaping, habits haven't really been forged yet. We hear people on the stairs outside our living room quite well and also the occasional conversation right in front of our door. We can almost always hear people out and about, but so far it's not bothered us. Last Friday there was a very loud dance party just across the sidewalk, and we didn't sleep (or even try) until it was over, but it stopped right on schedule or even a bit before (1 a.m. quiet hours on weekends).
The only real annoyance so far was this evening, when I was out after dinner kicking a ball around with Oliver and a green bottle rocket came whistling right over our heads from a Mead Hall dorm room across the street and exploded against the elevator shaft in the corner of North and East Sanborn. It could easily have a) hit someone, b) gone right into someone's room and then (a), c) ignited the mulch which is everywhere, d) landed on the roof and smoldered a while, or e) gone over the building and burned down the Outback and probably the beloved Grove House as well.
Other than that little blip of mind-boggling immaturity, we've had a great time. Oliver gets two or three baby-sitting propositions an hour while he's outside.
There was a Horned Grebe in the pool all day today, diving forlornly for non-existent fish. He was gone at dark.
September 27, 2007
Green light, moving day
We have finally been given the green light to plan a move into our new dorm apartment in Sanborn North, four weeks into the semester and a month and a half after we originally expected to be in. The final batch of students are moving in tomorrow and we'll follow over the weekend. The other faculty-in-residence will be stuck in Brighton Park for another few weeks and the hall directors even later, I think. At the dedication earlier this week, I almost choked on my lemonade when guest Ed Begley Jr. said that after seeing the construction in April he never thought Pitzer would make it but they did. Ahem. Sort of. Mostly. Anyway, we know the College has tried their best. We will be ever so happy to be out of temporary digs and into the new dorm apartment.
I discovered more future neighbors; a bunch of the first-year students in my Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology course at Scripps live in Sanborn North and are looking forward to convenient consultations about papers and exams.
September 14, 2007
Dorm life postponed
I thought that by now my new position as Faculty-Spouse-in-Residence in one of the new Pitzer dorms (Sanborn North) would have me back in the blogging rhythm. My wife and I accepted the gig last Spring. We found renters for our condo and headed to Brazil for the summer. Originally, we expected our apartment to be ready in early July, so we'd come back and move right in. Construction got behind and our date was bumped to August 20. Ok. We'll arrive back from Brazil and go on vacation for a week, come back and move right in. Wrong. Only one of the four dorm wings made it for the arrival of the new students, and only the student rooms. They've now moved a bunch more students in, including in our building, but all the common areas and our apartment and basically anything not a student room are still not finished. We've had a bunch of other half-hearted estimates from the Dean of Students, but he no longer has much confidence in the contractor's dates. So, the new students are busy forging culture and habits and stories while we sit up in a College-rented apartment across the street. I've met exactly two of our new dorm-mates, in line for the salad bar at the end of Orientation Week. Stay tuned in this category, because sooner or later we'll be moving into our new apartment.
(The "faculty spouse" thing is because I am now a visiting Assistant Professor across the street at Scripps College.)