austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Learn to laugh, dare to dance, touch the sky

We went to dinner. They held one in the student union's dining hall. I wouldn't want to miss that. I ate dining hall meals like seventeen times a week through college; if the food were even slightly the same the time-travel power of taste would be irresistible. The place looked nearly the same, and bunny_hugger wondered if the dining hall was still informally called Sodexho, based on the catering company that had been long-ago replaced even before she was a student there. It was still a current nickname for the place, according to the student newspaper.

There was a major difference. In the day the balcony over the dining hall would be festooned with signs for student groups and events and whatever political point some mass of students wanted to make. There was nothing of that here. bunny_hugger wondered when this heritage faded. It transpired this was a new change, and was a side effect of the renovations due to start the next month according to a modest sign on the door. When the dining hall reopens it won't have a balcony. Students wanting to send a message can have them put on the computer monitors in the corners of the dining hall, and that will be there when the rebuilding is done. There's no way that can compare.

Dinner was good, though. They've expanded the vegetarian options since bunny_hugger was a student there, even if you don't cheat and have breakfast cereal for dinner the way you do when you're an undergraduate and don't see why you shouldn't have dusty store-brand Froot Loops for dinner. What was missing was other students from the class of 1996. We were the only people sitting at the table for that, apart from someone who was from another class with even fewer people who huddled up to us for psychic warmth before going off to her class's mixer. 1996's class mixer was in a barbecue restaurant, which may have had people bunny_hugger recognized but would have been dire for a basically vegetarian pair.

We started to explore the student union after dinner, like this odd little upstairs nook with a TV in it. And the lounge, with a piano and a couple of groups of gamers. One of them was playing what looked to me like Apples To Apples with a computer doing the judging. They were running tours of the area from that lounge and we joined in that, which let us into some of the areas that are also student dorms and locked off by keycard access. They weren't into keycard access for everything back in the day; in the mid-90s you just had to go through regular old doors propped open. Unfortunately the modern college dorm doesn't offer so much for casual visiting; I think all the actual student rooms had automatically closed doors, so it was just hallways.

After that bunny_hugger took me on a tour of campus, to the buildings that had been cornerstones of her experience. The outsides anyway; most of them weren't open. Even the library was closed by that late in the evening. But we could check the side door where, back in the day, 24-hour computer-lab access was allowed. The door was still there, though not the numeric keypad to get into the room. We also investigated the long corridor that's part of the science building complex, and the stairs leading precariously down underneath to the other 24-hour computer-lab that was available when the library's was closed. This one still had the numeric keypad, surely long-since disabled as there was a keycard-access reader also attached to the door. There was also some mysterious stenciled graffiti in the stairwell. It's good to see mysterious symbols still spreading on campus.

We tromped around the campus some, with bunny_hugger pointing out to me the buildings that were old when she was there, and what ones were freshly-renovated when she was there, and what ones were new. I quipped about the science building and its severely 60s Modernist styling; she was unsure about it. The joke was on me; the building was extremely new. But it had been built in a retro style, so that it fit with the 60s Modernist styling of the older parts of the science building and its related buildings. It's not an ugly building, you understand. It's just got personality, and that makes it easy to comment about.

But there is only so long we can spend tromping around the mostly-shuttered or locked up campus at night. We made our way back to the car and got back to the hotel where, we'd learn overnight, a bunch of kids were having run-down-the-hall contests. It'd be one of our bad-luck experiences with hotel rooms the past couple months.

Trivia: The alliance between Prussia and Austria-Hungary which Bismack negotiated in 1879 was to last theoretically for five years, but to be renewed automatically unless denounced. Source: The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848 - 1918, A J P Taylor.

Currently Reading: 1919: The Year Our World Began, William K Klingaman.

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