No (Competition for) Parking

Today was one of those days on which all the undergrads take themselves – along with their odd clothes, their work ethics, and their unusual hairstyles – away from campus on the big white Northfield Lines buses.


On the plus side, though, there’s no competition for space at the bike rack now. I think my bike’s a little lonely.
Bike Rack at the End of the Year

Leash Law

This sign, on a trail in Carleton’s Arb near the Rec Center, has borne this bit of editorializing about Carleton’s now-retiring president, Rob Oden, for as long as I’ve been working at Carleton. I wonder if the author of this graffito will return to modify it for the new president, Steve Poskanzer? (Click through for a more legible full-sized image.)

Oden Sign

Disturbance At The Heron House

Walking home from work today through the misty, I saw a magnificent great blue heron, stalking frogs in a creek that runs through campus. I couldn’t get very good pictures of it, but it was amazing. What an elegant bird, both wading in the shallow water and, after I
got too close, flying easily away down the creek. Three photos and a short video…

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron from Christopher Tassava on Vimeo.

Presidential Timber

Today, Carleton named its eleventh president: Steven Poskanzer, J.D., the current president of the State University of New York at New Paltz. The College’s search for the new president was fast, but very effective, and everyone seems to be immediately pleased with the choice.

At a short event this afternoon – one which was attended by a majority of faculty and staff and a good chunk of the student population –  Poskanzer gave a nice speech that (of course) hit all the right notes. I was struck by the number of emotional references he made – “bottom of my heart,” “very inspiring,” “moving,” and so forth – and by the careful way he mentioned staff as well as faculty and students. Both were nice touches.

This set of video clips offers a good sense of Poskanzer as a speaker and shows that he assembled a very accurate sense of the College through the search process. I’m sad to see our current, retiring president leave, but I think Poskanzer looks like the right guy for the job.

Deadline Day Office

I usually keep my office moderately tidy, neither at the “clean desk = sick mind” end of the continuum or the (in)famous “Geologist’s Office” end of the continuum.* But on deadline days like today (especially like today, with two big federal proposals going out), all bets are off. Click through for notes.

Deadline Day Office

*This photo by Alec Soth is part of a stunning 2002 exhibit of photographs of locales around the Carleton campus, “Vantage Points.”

Crashing at Carleton

I dunno if it’s the longer days or what, but I’ve noticed a lot of Carleton students sleeping all around campus lately:

  • on the sofas in the student center – sitting up, lying down; one and two to a couch
  • face-down at a table in the library
  • reclining in an Adirondack chair on the Bald Spot
  • leaning against a tree in front of one of the academic buildings
  • on a bench in front of the library
  • sitting in a chair outside the president’s office
  • lying in a spot of sun under an oak tree

I’m halfway amused by the kids’ abilities to sleep almost anywhere, but halfway inclined to shake them awake and shout, “You’ll never feel more energetic than you do in college! Get moving!”

Mystery Hydrant

Every day I can, I bike to and from work on a route that takes me through the Arb. I’ve said this before, probably more times than anyone has cared to read, because, honestly, the ride is one of those little dollops of quality of life that help make the rest of the day go that much better. Some of my pleasure in the ride derives from being momentarily in the woods, some from the decent speed I can make on the empty trails, some from weirdness like this bright blue fire hydrant, sitting about six feet off the path amidst the trees and brush. I love to imagine why this hydrant is where it is, and why it’s this very un-hydranty color, and who decided to put a blue hydrant in the woods. (Or, really, not quite in the woods: it’s actually right behind one of the bigger dorms on campus. Still, though.)
Mysterious Blue Hydrant

Pots & Pans Prank, Or, Those Crazy College Kids

Riding down the hill from the Arb toward my office this morning, I saw a mess of shining somethings on one of the lakes at the edge of campus: metallic litter? armored geese? those new aluminum fish I’ve been hearing so much about?

Better: pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils dangling from a rope tied between Mai Fête Island and the south shore of the Lower Lyman Lake. Nearby, there’s a banner reading, “Farm 1/Canoe 0” – suggesting a prank war between two of the College’s interest houses, Farm House and Canoe House.  Hilarious. I’d love to be there to see the denizens of Canoe House try to get the stuff back.

Prank of Pots & Pans

Prank of Pots & Pans

New Digs

I was very exciting when I arrived on campus this morning to see that Carleton is immediately starting to put up a new building, the William H. Sallmon Administrative Building. As President Oden says in the video announcement of the project, the building will be devoted to offices for Carleton’s large and growing administrative staff. In other words, me! Thank god. I need a new office, with room for a sofa and, I hope, a nice view.

Note the heavy machinery in place to start construction right away this morning.
Sallmon Administrative Building

A more legible close up of the sign.
Sallmon Administrative Building

March Run

A truly bizarre situation – the girls going to a tea party with Shannon, leaving me unscheduled for two hours – let me to do a nice long run through the Arb on Sunday afternoon. The weather was perfect, and though early spring is not the most beautiful time to be in the Arb, it was nice to establish a “before” against which to compare the verdant lushness of late spring and summer. To that end, a few photos…

Lyman Ice

he Lyman Lakes on Carleton’s campus are still mostly iced over, after many above-freezing days (including today, though it’s gray and gloomy). Ice is remarkably durable stuff.

Upper Lyman Lake is still mostly iced over, nearly two-thirds of the way through March.
Upper Lyman Lake

Lower Lyman Lake, on the other hand, is still about half iced over, though as late as Wednesday all of the open water here was still covered.
Lower Lyman Lake