Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Site announcement!

Yesterday was site announcement day! I'’m going to San Manuel de Colohete, in Lempira. We also got our Muni-D t-shirts this week. Here'’s everybody huddled together before we got told where we were going. Later, we looked at the map where there were pushpins wherever there was a Muni-D volunteer going; I'’m the black dot at the bottom left of the map.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Simple joys

Last week I had my laundry done at a local Laundromat--or rather, I took it to the house of a lady in the neighborhood who does laundry for 9 Lempiras per kilogram. I dropped it off at lunchtime, picked it up on the way home around 6 p.m., and dumped it in my room. She folded it, so there was no need to put it away (and I'’m not too concerned about wrinkles here anyway) and so I left it overnight inside the plastic bag it came in. The next morning I finally opened it up to get dressed for the day, and had the delightful experience of putting on clean clothes that were still warm! After several weeks of my clothes being dried on the line, it did feel awfully exotic to have machine-dried clothes.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006





Because I know some of you are probably anxious to see what things look like here in Honduras, here are some photos of places around La Esperanza.

There is a park/public square at the center of town, in good Spanish colonial city planning fashion. The main church of the town is on one side of the square, and the other main public buildings are elsewhere on the square, including the main police station, the Hondutel office (think Baby Bell Central America), the Honducor office (Honduran post office) and the town hall.

Here is a typical street scene from La Esperanza. Though at first navigating without street names or numbers was frustratingly near-impossible, I think most everybody has got the hang of it. (It appears that many of the streets do in fact have names, but nobody seems to know them or use them, and the signs with street names painted on some corners to indicate, for instance, Avenida Calvario, are apparently quite recent.)

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

100 ways to miss Rice

I'm really missing Rice these days (is it dorm-sickness when you miss college?), and I am hoping it will be cathartic to write down what it is that I'm longing to remember and experience again.

Summary:
1. I miss Rice.

Hanszen:
2. I miss Hanszen.
3. I miss the Hanszen Quad.
4. I miss strolling into the Commons and finding my 300 best friends there waiting for me at least two times per day.
5. I miss Hanszen Cabinet every Wednesday at 10:10.
6. I miss being a character at Cabinet and making everyone laugh with a well-placed timed or facetious question about an announcement. (I do not miss the times when I tried to make a joke but nobody got it or laughted at it.)
7. I miss the snacks at Cabinet.
8. I miss reading the Cabinet Minutes and Backpage.
9. I miss the Masters: the Morrises, Weissenbergers, and even other colleges' masters whom I got to know.
10. I miss the RAs: Paul, Jen, Nancy, Chris, and even Henny.
11. I miss the Guardian.
12. I miss tinkering with the computers in the Weenie Loft.
13. I miss making someone's day by being able to come up to the Weenie Loft to refill the printer's paper.
14. I miss study breaks at the Masters' and RAs'.
15. I miss Chef Roger's cooking.
16. I miss goofing off in the Upper Commons with Halo, air hockey or pool.
17. I miss sitting in the Lower Commons after meals to discuss big issues and argue minutae with Hanszenites.
18. I miss Friday afternoon TGs.
19. I miss Beer-Bike.
20. I miss getting soaking wet and cold filling water balloons during Willy Week.
21. I miss having to plug leaks when someone's water balloon breaks during filling.
22. I miss wearing Hanszen Blue every day for a week.
23. I miss listening to 80s and 90s music in the Hanszen Quad the morning of Beer-Bike.
24. I miss being part of an army clad in Hanszen Blue in the water balloon fight.
25. I miss changing into dry clothes and going out to the bike track.
26. I miss standing anxiously in the bike pit during the race.
27. I miss being Hanszen's champion against the other colleges as lead biker.
28. I miss knowing that no matter how many people were showering at the same time, the Hanszen water heater would never run out of hot water.
29. I miss hunkering down for Hurricane Rita.
30. I miss stepping up to bat and volunteering whenever there was a task that needed to be done.
31. I miss writing people their reimbursement checks while they waited.
32. I miss the Associates' Progressive Dinner.
33. I miss the rehearsals for My Fair Lady, three hours each, five times per week.
34. I miss College Nights with goofy themes.
35. I miss Hanszen Pub Nights.
36. I miss the Hanszen Senior Pub Crawl.
37. I miss packing up my room for the summer and hauling my stuff into storage.
38. I miss getting into my room for the first time every year, refreshed by the air conditioning after the sweltering Houston August heat, and vainly hopeful that in the upcoming year I would be able to keep my stuff from becoming a catastrophic mess everywhere.
39. I miss wandering over to the intramural field to find a Hanszen IM team winning at powderpuff, softball, or flag football.
40. I miss checking my mailbox 3 times a day to see if I had received any correspondence, and popping into Glynda's or Joyce's office to see if my UPS package had arrived yet.
41. I miss being the "go-to guy" when people, up to and including the masters, had a question about the SA, parking, the university administrative structure, or anything else.
42. I miss coming back from Thanksgiving, Spring Break and other vacations when I've got several days' worth of mail piled up, even if it is only bank statements and solicitations for donations.
43. I miss my own O-Week, a time so full of promise and opportunity, with no real responsibilities, cares, or assignments, when everything and everybody was new. (I really miss this time now.)
44. I miss the expectation of hearing back from O-Week coordinators to see if I would be an adviser, even if I was always rejected.
45. I miss marching around campus in our O-Week shirts doing college cheers at whatever other college we happened to run into.
46. I miss being annoyed at the overcrowding of Hanszen Commons because of the influx of people from other colleges.

Campus-wide:
47. I miss SA meetings every Monday at 10 and executive committee or senators meetings Sunday evenings.
48. I miss Wednesday nights slowly turning into Thursday mornings in the Thresher office.
49. I miss seeing my name in the Thresher.
50. I miss being invited to people's recitals at Shepherd, even when I was busy and couldn't go.
51. I miss sending out emails for the Rice Democrats.
52. I miss “Radio Free Sid” every Friday afternoon and knowing the weekend was here.
53. I miss deciding to go to campus theater events 10 minutes before they start.
54. I miss being able to talk in "Rice-speak" without having to go into a long explanation of what things like Beer-Bike and a residential college are.
55. I miss going to events at the Baker Institute, where I wouldn't really have to check in, because I was a “regular” and all the staff knew me by name.
56. I miss walking across the Academic Quad during a change of classes, and being able to turn around 360 degrees, and seeing at least 10 people I know by name.
57. I miss running around campus on Thursday nights to try to find this week's Thresher.
58. I miss heading over to Shepherd for someone's recital.
59. I miss walking through the Student Center and not being able to walk 20 yards without having to say hello to a half dozen friends hanging out there.
60. I miss browsing the Thresher and seeing that the subjects, sources and authors of the articles were all friends of mine.
61. I miss listening to NPR while riding out on the bike track.
62. I miss those glorious Houston days early in the semester when it's just too nice not to jog the Outer Loop and I'm not too busy to be able to.
63. I miss going to Canterbury and being with Canterbury people.
64. I miss working for the Thresher and having the “inside scoop” on campus news.
65. I miss going to lectures and speeches by great, cool and interesting people.
66. I miss never having to skip an extracurricular event I wanted to go to because I had too much schoolwork.
67. I miss biking around campus at the “Golden Hour” just before sunset and seeing everything bathed in a resplendent light.
68. I miss getting the inside jokes in the Thresher.
69. I miss telling myself that one day I would get up for the morning “Golden Hour” just after sunrise, and then doing it only once, on Graduation Day.
70. I miss the treehouse in the Academic Quad.
71. I miss giving campus tours to middle schoolers and the occasional VIP, boring sixth grader and minister of agriculture alike with the rather complicated story of William Marsh Rice and how this time, "the butler did it."
72. I miss the early morning bike practices that make me feel fit, awake, and productive all day long.
73. I miss the first days back each year, getting "welcome back" hugs, asking about people's summers, and feeling the full benefits of air conditioning after feeling the full wrath of Houston summer heat.
74. I miss going to bed at 1:30 a.m., looking at my watch, and thinking to myself "Wow, I'm turning in early tonight!"
75. I miss the nights when I stayed up until 4:00 a.m. to finish a project, then somehow managed to get up at 8:15 a.m. the next day and be moderately productive.
76. I miss always pressuring myself to get at least an hour's worth of rest so I can now say that I never pulled an all-nighter in college.
77. I miss having a calendar of breaks, vacations, trips, events, special lectures, and other fun happenings to look forward to all the time.

Academic:
78. I miss racing to class, late because I needed to sleep those extra 3 minutes.79. I miss the professors who were so good that they made me feel I had really missed out if I wasn't there right on time.
80. I miss going into Fondren Library after midnight.
81. I miss telling myself to get started on my assignment “for real this time” when I realized I had to turn it in within 12 hours.
82. I miss being invited to dinner at professors' houses.
83. I miss being amazed on the rare occasions when I went to Fondren during the day and saw the Academic Quad not dark, but with sunlight.
84. I miss going to class with really excellent teachers and fellow students who were just as bright.
85. I miss the classes where I learned something that I will still remember in ten, twenty, or even thirty years' time.
86. I miss setting up study meetings to prepare for big tests as a way to force myself to do the work to prepare.
87. I miss meeting as a group to work on group assignments.
88. I miss having meetings with professors to discuss big projects, especially when I came into the meeting being scared that I was woefully unprepared only to emerge feeling ahead of the game.
89. I miss being in classes where I had to fight to stay awake, even though I hadn't felt the least bit tired the night before at midnight.
90. I miss visiting professors and talking to them at their office hours not about material from class, but about things we both found interesting.

Houston:
91. I miss Sunday mornings at Palmer Church.
92. I miss taking the light rail downtown.
93. I miss telling astonished Houstonites that I had not driven to whatever destination but biked.
94. I miss taking my and Hanszen's bikes to West U Cycle for repairs.
95. I miss telling myself that I would go to the 9:00 at Palmer this week, though I don't think I ever did.
96. I miss going to the Taco Cabana where my host took me to eat when I was a "prospie" visiting Rice my senior year of high school.
97. I miss riding around town on my bike, daring cars to pass me.
98. I miss going to Chipotle, Amy's Ice Cream, Taco Cabana, House of Pies and the Village and seeing them filled with Rice people.
99. I miss running into friends at the airport and asking them for rides to campus because I didn't have another plan.

Conclusion:
100. I miss Rice.

Well, that does feel better now. See you all at Beer-Bike 2009, if not before.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

At least they don't spell it "potatoe"

I like potatoes as much as the next guy. French fried, baked, scalloped, and even au gratin. And to celebrate potatoes is, I admit, as good a harvest festival as any to have, and it was fun to see the festivities around town. Each neigborhood seemed to host one night of revelry, and over the course of the week we've been here, it seems like each of them enjoys its turn as much as the next.

What has really thrown me is the schedule of celebrations. Things get started really early in the day. This week, I saw a marching band (well, about 10 guys with drums, trumpets, and a sousaphone, anyway) going around town at 7:15 a.m. And twice this week, I've been woken at around 3:00 a.m. by the sound of someone celebrating by driving his car around the block several times to "share" his favorite reggaeton songs with everybody in the barrio.
I never knew potatoes could be celebrated so loudly.

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