As I walk into class TGIQ falls in behind me from the other entrance. As I look behind me I think I see her smile at me. I try to quickly grab the handout so that maybe I can chat with her or something, but I end up grabbing five of them. My fingers feel sticky so I fumble to try to take one of them off the top and then I mistakenly put it (not the four remaining) back on the pile. As I bend down to correct my error I drop the other four on the floor. I go to pick them up and finally make the switch and spin around, but she’s long gone. The whole thing feels pathetically humorous, like one of those episodes of The Office.

I try to go sit near TGIQ but as I try to I somehow end up pulling a muscle in the leg and have to sit down prematurely, at which point class starts and I can’t really move. Sigh.

I sit in class, starving, angry with myself, and yet have that unnamed feeling about TGIQ. It is an odd combination. A sI think about it, I realize I just can’t bring myself to talk to her. I can sort of visualize it in my mind; I can even visualize it going well, but there’s some sort of mental barrier that prevents me from trying to carry it out. (Just writing about this now is making my stomach seize up.) This brain resistance seems irrational and contradictory. Why encourage me to like this girl and yet prevent me from liking her? What’s the point?

It’s sort of ironic that I, the hero all of you are depending on for vicarious entertainment, is reduced to requiring vicarious entertainment myself.

TGIQ sneaks out early, and as she walks somewhat hunched over, a thought hits me: she’s the professor’s daughter. Yes, the professor who I’ve been seeing during office hours. It makes sense, that would explain why she seemed familiar yet different and why she’s taking the class but is not very interested in it. After all, professor’s children do get in for free. So why wouldn’t they go here?

Somehow I managed to be added to the email list for the Bechtel-funded Center for International Security and Cooperation, which is no part of our campus’s little corner of the vast right-wing conspiracy. Today’s talk is on the interesting-to-me and apparently nonpolitical topic of “How Organizations Learn” so I decide to head over and listen.

The conference room the talk is in is so full the crowd overflows into a little room behind it, which is also pretty crowded. I accidentally step on a few toes trying to find a place to sit. I can’t see the screen and don’t hear the talk too well, but I get the gist of things. He’s going over various ways organizations (specifically government agencies in the context of 9/11) share and adjust to incoming information.

The talk hasn’t gotten very far before I start to feel funny. My nose is running and my palms itch. And worst of all, there is these incredibly painful throbbing in the middle of my chest. Breathing doesn’t help; the pain keeps throbbing in and out unfazed. I am, quite literally, having an allergic reaction to the Bechtel building.

After I convince myself that this pain isn’t going away, I sneak out to get some air and cough up the flem that’s collected in my throat. On the way out of the building, I notice that they’ve gone so far as to decorate the place with war propaganda posters from the Committee on Public Information, the first major US propaganda office. Man, they’re not even subtle.

Stanford’s Media Lab knockoff, “Media X” is having its annual conference this weekend. I didn’t even know we had a Media Lab knockoff. Their website pointedly notes that unlike he Media Lab, they don’t just demo — they also write papers!

posted November 14, 2004 07:04 PM (Education) (1 comments) #


Donald Knuth writes Condi Rice
Stanford: Day 52
Stanford: Day 53
Stanford: Day 54
Stephen Pinker on Uniting Techies and Fuzzies
Stanford: Day 55
Barry Scheck on the Dark Side of Justice
Stanford: Day 56
Stanford: Day 57
Stanford: Day 58
Stanford: Day 59


You know what cracks me up about this is that I had to drop out Electrical Engineering when I went to Georgia Tech for the very same reason- every time I walked into the lab I would start sneezing and my nose would start running something fierce and I couldn’t focus because the allergic reaction I was having to the EE building was devestating!

I was happier as a Computer Science major anyways.

posted by Randeep at November 15, 2004 11:29 PM #

Subscribe to comments on this post.

Add Your Comment

If you don't want to post a comment, you can always send me your thoughts by email.

(used only to send you my reply, never published or spammed)

Remember personal info?

Note: I may edit or delete your comment. (More...)

Aaron Swartz (