Saturday, April 14, 2007

Vacation, all I ever wanted...

Last month, Jen had her spring break. And we actually managed to take a trip. This is a bit dated, now. But I'm still clearing out a backlog of my half-composed posts. I've been busy with work-related (read: non-kid related) stuff. But more on that in another post.

For now, I'll just say we had a great time. We hopped in the car on a Tuesday, not sure exactly where we were headed. In that sense, it was much like our other New England trip, last August, to Vermont. Only this time, we were headed in the opposite direction, toward Rhode Island.

Initially, we thought to go to Mystic, sort of near the Connecticut/Rhode Island border. But we got a late start, and somewhat randomly decided on Newport. I had wanted to go there last fall, but never go around to it. And so there we were, headed to Newport, with no idea what exactly was there, or where we would stay. And somehow, again, it all worked out.

The drive was just over an hour, and after circling around town, we found an open room at the Jailhouse Inn, which as the name implies, was a former jail. Newport is a boating-beach-richie-rich sort of town. So going in late March was officially off season. That meant we got the room, which was a suite, for $60 per night. Normally, the same room would be $300 per night, post Memorial Day. Woo-hoo!

We stayed about three days and mostly did walks around town, found more great eating bargains. It seemed the locals were quite happy to have anyone in town during this time of year, even poverty stricken grad student types such ourselves. Newport had plenty of colonial history for us to wander around. And during the turn of the 20th century, it was apparently the hotspot for the Guilded Age set to build ostentatious castles. There's a spectacular walk along a cliff that takes you past the former residents of the Astors, Vanderbilts, etc.

Here's one of their little love shacks, known as "The Breakers":


Anyway, we had long walks along the water front. More cheap eats. And just a fun, relaxing time away from the madness. I wish we had time for more exploration. There's so much more I'd love to see up here. We haven't even touched Maine, New Hampshire...Ah, well. So much of our focus is no one returning to the Bay Area. That's already feeling epic enough...

Well, we definitely need the money...

After our income-free year in Cambridge, we'll have a nice debt to welcome us when we get back to Oakland. How should we pay it off? The answer may lie in this item posted to the Boston Burning Man listserv:

Hey there folks.

So I am friends with the producer/casting director for a tv series called "Wife Swap" and they are sick and tired of little cookie-cutter suburbanite families. They are looking for a "circus-esque family" that is quirky, extreme, creative, and/or different. They are looking for a family with flair and style. If your family is selected you will be paid $20,000 for doing the show which is an 11 day commitment, 6 of those days which you are seperated from your spouse. The rules are this *must be a Mom and Dad. They dont need to be married but they do need to live together *There must be at least one child between the ages 5-18 but they would love for there to be more than one child

I thought this could be an interesting and prosperous gig for the right folks. If you fit these parameters and are interested in more information please contact me and I will send along the information.

If only Liam were a few months older. Oh, well....

Brush with greatness...

Well, not exactly. But one recent dinner companion has had a moment in the spotlight.

We've finally come out of our shell and been more social in recent weeks. Something that's been tough to do out here given our schedules. But we've had some wonderful dinners in recent weeks, including a nice visit with Tim and Sarah, parents of one of Liam's classmates.

Another weekend, Jen brought over a guy from her MIT class and his wife. Sam, it turns out, specializes in studying...professional wrestling. He's a very interesting guy, actually, and we had a great time with both of them. Then, just a couple weeks later, Sam was featured in this story in The Boston Globe. Here's a taste:

Such discussions are a normal part of the newest full-credit course offering in MIT's Comparative Media Studies program: "American Pro Wrestling." The class explores the history of an American institution that brings athleticism, theatrical performance, and choreographed stunt work together in a square, roped-off ring. During the semester, students watch dozens upon dozens of wrestling matches, from 1980s clashes between Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage to modern-day battles on "Monday Night Raw." Students examine how technology has transformed wrestling into a multimedia business, and how the styles and storytelling methods have changed over the years. The required reading on the syllabus includes colorful titles such as "Steel Chair to the Head" and "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks."

This quirky addition to the MIT course catalog was the brainchild of grad student Sam Ford, who designed and teaches the curriculum. The class has created buzz on the campus and beyond. One blogger called it "The Undisputed End of Higher Education." Ford said a radio station in California called the class "a sign of the apocalypse."

Why study wrestling? Ford hopes students "use the class to learn more about how to critically analyze, discuss, and write about the popular culture they consume." And he's not the only one who sees the academic value of it.

Read the full story here.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

We'll be back...

Though there was never much doubt...As I mentioned in my email the other day...Yes, we're coming back to Oakland.

If folks haven't heard, Jen has been accepted into the University of California at Berkeley in the Sociology Department where she'll be a PhD candidate for the next 50 years or so. I am scheduled to return to the Mercury News in June, assuming it hasn't been sold yet again in my absence.

In fact, last night, we even booked our tickets...Our scheduled arrival is June 9. Prepare the parade.

When we return, you'll a chance to meet this short-haired weirdo:

Whoever he is...