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Laurion

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Shoe (castle?) has dropped [Jan. 29th, 2016|10:20 am]
Laurion

When last we spoke, I mentioned that the iconic castle at Brandeis University was at risk. Well, now we have further details of the plans by the administration recently approved by the Board.  Rather than tear down the whole thing, they’re opting to keep the parts that most tie into the marketing of the school, the A and B sections that appear so frequently in imagery, and that contain the well popularized Cholomondley’s coffeehouse. The rest they intend to tear down and replace with a modern block shaped dormitory.

Alumni interested in discussing this and in organizing a response to this may wish to join the newly formed Facebook Group. Let me know if you need an invite to join, I’m not sure.

Anyhow, I do understand the pressures. Students want modern dorms with A/C and efficient working heat. ADA compliance is a beautiful thing. Safety is important. Residential students bring in more revenue. But here’s the thing: In the past decade (so, recently in college evolution terms) they knocked down the cottages and the Ridgewood dorms and rebuilt very large modern facilities in their place, so I’m not sure how much pressure there actually is for more beds. I know there’s a growing international population that drives some of the demand for residential facilities. But I do actually think that safety and energy efficiency are the bigger drivers. I think if not for these there’d be no debate. But faced with this, I do acknowledge the compromises of the current plan. It is always cheaper to knock down an old building and start from scratch than it is to rehabilitate an old structure. Building new gives lots of opportunities that just can’t be done effectively with old structures. The Castle is a study in inefficient use of space.

But it’s a castle. It’s not supposed to be an efficient use of space. And too much of the campus already was, or has recently been turned into, unappealing blocks. The Castle is a refreshingly organic (so to speak) and culturally unique object. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. The administration recognizes this and is trying to preserve what they see as the parts that most embody that legacy. Sadly, the parts are very much less than the whole.  At the same time, they’ve had scaffolding and safety netting up and all over the whole thing for a year or two now, fully selling to everyone the fact or image of the building as structurally unsound and falling apart on a daily basis. A current editorial in the Justice carries the perspective of at least one student.

So, the Castle is unsafe. It’s inefficient. Fixing it while retaining the exterior and they layout is expensive, especially doing it right and not just slapping some patches up. With the new dorms in place, the school can afford to close down the Castle as a dorm while they address the issue. Now is the time. So alumni and students who want to influence the plan need to vote with their dollars, both earmarking any current donations for preserving the Castle exterior in its entirety, and reminding the administration that alumni dollars are a long term value, whereas the cost of reconstruction is a short term one. I have no idea if that’ll work at all, and I’m at least content that the administration is in fact trying to do its best given the needs and limitations it has, and isn’t just bulldozing the entire structure.

References

  • http://www.brandeis.edu/castle-project/about.html
  • http://www.thejustice.org/article/2016/01/castle-to-be-torn-down
  • http://www.postalstampart.com/product/Brandeis_University_Usen_Castle_1st_Day_Cover_Usen_Castle_Stamp
  • http://www.ebay.in/itm/USA-MINT-POSTCARD-USEN-CASTLE-/172069546601
  • http://www.schoolneedlepoint.com/
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/201962490156975/
  • http://www.brandeis.edu/studentlife/dcl/tour/village.html
  • http://www.brandeis.edu/studentlife/dcl/tour/ridgewood.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Castle_%28Waltham,_Massachusetts%29
  • https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/01/27/beloved-brandeis-dorm-will-longer-castle/oQOg2wMXFenXR3gWlneEeM/story.html
  • http://www.thejustice.org/article/2016/01/editorial-commend-university-decision-on-usen-castle

 

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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We have a castle? [Nov. 6th, 2015|04:39 pm]
Laurion

Attention Brandeis Alumni (and others):

In recent news, it has come to my attention that the administration of Brandeis University is proposing to tear down Usen Castle. They say it is old, it is falling apart, it is unsafe, and it is inefficient. See http://www.thejustice.org/article/2015/11/trustees-to-decide-on-future-of-castle for a recent article on the debate. It is well known for its bizarre architectural elements (see http://allthetropes.wikia.com/wiki/Bizarrchitecture and http://www.brandeis.edu/studentlife/dcl/roomselection/images/UsenCastle.pdf)

That may be. But it is also historic (National Registry as of 1979), iconic, and emblematic. It is the one thing, other than the university seal, that appears most on paraphernalia and imagery. When the Post Office issued a stamp in honor of the school’s 50th anniversary, it was the thing pictured on the stamp. Still listed as a popular dorm, you can see more and read more at http://omeka.lts.brandeis.edu/exhibits/show/photographs-of-the-castle-from .

For those of you in the SCA, it should be no surprise that there was a tradition of using the castle in various ways – meetings, inspiration for arms, the odd strawberry war with another borough, etc.

For those of you with ties to the BSCF, this was more or less where the club started, where many many meetings and movie nights were held, and where many many larps took place over the years.

For those of you curious about academic history, this building predates Brandeis and was the main building of the old Middlesex University (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middlesex_University_(Massachusetts)) an old medical college, and the only veterinary college in New England, until Tufts in 1978.

For those of you with memories of 90’s television, the coffee shop there is widely considered the inspiration for Central Perk in the TV show Friends.

Abbie Hoffman and Angela Davis spent time there engaged in political discourse.

In short, if you have a relevant connection to the place, and if you have an opinion on its future, now is the time to make your opinions known to those who are making decisions about it.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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(no subject) [Sep. 14th, 2015|07:29 pm]
Laurion


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Free bookcases. [Aug. 23rd, 2015|05:21 pm]
Laurion

We’re trimming back the book collection and with it the bookcases. This is in preparation for moving J from his current room into what is at the moment our library and guest room. He’s three now and graduating to a big boy room and a big boy bed. But this means we now have a couple of empty bookcases as books have been moved into deep storage.

So, could anyone use a bookcase or two? Let me know, and I,d be glad to take pictures or send descriptions.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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Further proof of our debatable mental faculties. [May. 27th, 2015|10:21 pm]
Laurion

So…  Amanda and I have decided that we’re going to go to Pittsburgh this summer to visit her brother. And since we’ll be there anyway…  Let’s take the toddler to Pennsic!  What could possibly go wrong?

Pennsic, for those who don’t know, is an SCA camping event that regularly draws over 10,000 people. It’s two weeks long, although we are only planning on going for the second week, called War Week.

For those who do know, we don’t yet have an encampment. Got room in yours? Also, have you camped with a toddler who may or may not be potty trained? Advice and support much appreciated.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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Use makes perfection…. [Apr. 24th, 2015|11:55 am]
Laurion

Knight of the Burning Pestle

Last night was the first performance of Knight of the Burning Pestle.  I commented to one of the actors at Wednesday’s dress that it felt like the whole thing has come together, gelled, at the point where the play is being conveyed properly. That even if the audience isn’t comfortable with the language of the Elizabethan era, they would be able to get the quirks and twists of the dialogue and the plot. Last night’s performance proved it. The house was more full than I expected for a Thursday opening night, and from where I was sitting, they were having quite a fine time.

But don’t take my word for it.  You could ask people who were at the show last night, or better yet, you could come see the show for yourself.  There are performances tonight and tomorrow at 8, and next Thursday and Friday at 8, and Saturday at 2.  Tickets are $15 each, and the theater itself id just outside of Davis square, so super easy to get to.  I’m very impressed with all the cast and crew and it’s an amazing production.  And if you don’t laugh, I’ll even refund your tickets myself.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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It’s okay, I’m with the band. [Mar. 23rd, 2015|03:22 pm]
Laurion

knightoftheburningpestle.com


Just to get that out there first thing.  What is Knight of the Burning Pestle? It’s a play written by Francis Beaumont around 1607. Lucky him, he’s been overshadowed in history by some guy pretentious enough to land the epithet of ‘Bard of Avon’.  And that’s a real shame in its way, because Knight of the Burning Pestle is -damned- funny.


And there’s a production of it coming up by Theater@First.  Click on that link for the full details, but in short, April 23rd, 24th, 25th, 30th, and May 1st at 8pm, or May 2nd at 2pm at Unity Church in Somerville, within a song’s distance of Davis Square.


You won’t see me on the stage playing a part. I’m not directing or producing in any way. I’m not even doing tech.  You see, this show is going to have LIVE MUSIC, and I’m in the band.  One of the fun parts of the script is how often it references music from the period. So we’ve taken those, and some other appropriate period music, and will be enlivening the performances all for you.


Come see one of the best plays you don’t know.


Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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Add another line to the resume… [Dec. 8th, 2014|09:10 pm]
Laurion

Now that I’ve told those who need to be told first, I can now say that earlier today I accepted a new job offer. As this year passes and a new one arrives, I’ll be stepping down from Regis and (re)joining Brandeis as their new Academic System Administrator. It’s a big change in some ways, and a little change in some others. As I have seven years under my belt at Regis, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I had some mixed thoughts about making the change. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done at Regis, and the growth opportunities it has afforded me. But equally, I’m looking forward to bringing my acquired skills and established enthusiasm to a new group, and looking forward to seeing what I can do there. And what new ways I might grow in doing so. And it doesn’t hurt that I’ll have a title that better reflects the work I so often do. I’ll still have to explain it to most of my family a few times before they start to understand it though. *grin*

 

(One of the hardest parts may be learning to walk to a different building after I park…)

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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Probably about time [Nov. 13th, 2014|09:44 pm]
Laurion

Well, in honor of my 20th anniversary being in, out, around, over, under, and through the SCA (yeah, 20… I looked. Feast of the Simple Fare in Barony Beyond the Mountain in 1994 was my first event. Hard to pin it to an exact day though), I’ve gone and done something I’ve never done before.

 

I’ve become a paid member.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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Now with even more cuddles! [Oct. 20th, 2014|08:59 pm]
Laurion

Our household has recently gotten an upgrade of the furry nature. This weekend we went out and found two new cats to join our family. We weren’t expecting two. We were expecting one. But these two came as a pair, and we decided it worked out best to keep them that way. So here are Abelard and Heloise, but we’re generally referring to them as Abel (brown and white tiger) and Lulu (grey with gold eyes).

So far the introductions are going as well as can be expected, and Abel is almost aggressive in his demands for cuddles. Lulu is playing it cool, letting her brother be the ambassador for now. And Tica is tolerant so long as the new ones don’t get too close to her food or her library. Pictures below.

 

IMG_0610IMG_0611

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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