Tomorrow morning, there’s going to be a student-led walk-out at UT in protest of the budget cuts, outlined in Timi’s entry from last week, that are suspiciously targeting Centers that study minority and marginalized groups. Timi makes a great point about how these budget cuts are an affront to the diversity UT promotes. On a personal note, these budget cuts are an omen of the not-so-sunny future I face as an art historian of Latin American art.
Like Timi, I am also a proud product of a minority-studies undergraduate program. As a Latin American Studies major at the University of Chicago I’m not sure what I would’ve done without CLAS (Center for Latin American Studies). Not only was there a plethora of courses across disciplines to choose from, but the diversity among the faculty and students was invaluable in my development as an academic.
I’m a big girl and I understand the bottom line. Trust me, I’ve been in the game long enough to have a response to that question that strikes fear into the heart of any proponent of a humanities-oriented education: what are you going to do with that? The truth is no matter how much time we spend on machines, driving on bridges, and getting heart bypass surgery, a liberal education still matters. Because, in the most fundamental of ways, we still communicate. All the time. Even right now. And moreover, we communicate the same issues and ideas that humanity has tossed around since we were playing with shadows in caves. So philosophy, Latin, and the art of Ancient Rome still matter.
My immediate fear with the proposed budget cuts is that it too is an omen of a not-so-sunny present. First come the most vulnerable Centers of study. Then come foreign languages. Next history. And finally, I become obsolete.
The fast-paced, always on-the-go lifestyle of college students makes it very difficult for the occurrence of genuinely good days. Not to be a Debbie downer and say that college students have bad days on a daily basis, BUT there is a constant agenda that makes it hard to just relax.
Let me begin with a disclaimer. The following effusive praise has not been sponsored by a company, it’s a genuine emotion that I feel—Apple’s iWork may be just the most perfect companion as I embark on my doctoral path. But this story actually began during the spring semester when, on day one million of working on my Master’s thesis a little box popped up in MS Word informing me that “they” would no longer be conducting spell-check. Really great. Thanks, Bill!
Since at that point about half of my thesis was still composed of notes and quotes in Spanish, MS Word could not keep up with my bilingual writing. That wasn’t half as annoying as MS Word shutting down all the time, since the file was getting so large. I had to keep my +20 pages of images in a separate MS Word document since having my thesis in one file would crash my computer. And forget about having both documents open at the same time along with iTunes or Firefox. Now, the blame isn’t wholly on MS Word. My iBook was almost five years old by then, so it was aching for retirement. But even after I got a new computer, MS Word was still not cooperating. I was going to upgrade to the latest version of MS Office when I realized I could defect. I had done so in 2005 when I finally gave up the PC-virus-merry-go-round and moved to Apple-land. With iWork my defection could now be complete. See ya, Bill!
I acquired the iWork suite of applications in July when I upgraded to a desktop (and finally accepted that I’m not a laptop person). But it wasn’t until I started making Keynote presentations that my life dramatically improved. As an art historian, images are an essential part of my presentations. And since I work with contemporary art I usually have to scour the internet for a not-so-great image file or make my own scans. MS Power Point likes neither of these files. Even after arranging my files nicely into a Power Point presentation, more often than naught one image wouldn’t transfer. With iWork’s Keynote not only will all my images transfer, but it helps me center the images with magical grids that appear to guide me. Now all my images and text boxes are perfectly aligned and spaced. Love it!
I just wrote my first seminar paper on iWork’s Pages and it was a glorious experience. It never crashed. It was a dream to work with—so intuitive, so smooth. Once I realized that I could export my document into an MS Word file (which you can also do with Keynote, into a Power Point file) I reached my breakthrough moment where I could finally stand up and say:
I’m over it, Bill! I’m over your viruses, the clunky way I need to maneuver Windows, your unreliable software. Stick to the philanthropy and leave the genius to Steve.
It’s awesome to have this nice mini-break to ease off all of the stress of the semester. And these last couple of days have been really hectic, but now I finally have a chance to catch my breath and reflect a little bit (yay for blogging!)
The evil empire known as Sanrio (but really, I love Sanrio and how they created a billion dollar empire out of a cute little kitty, it’s stuff like that that makes the world awesome) came to town this weekend as part of a program sponsored by Target called Small Gift.
With one final nearly tucked away, and the prospect of a few days of leisure on the horizon, I can’t help but think of all the non-homework I’ll be doing starting tomorrow afternoon. Though a “To do list” seems against the spirit of a mini-break, it’s nonetheless inspiring to have goals:
1. I will have a Daniel Day-Lewis marathon on Thursday since he’s starred in some Pilgrim-era classics (”The Last of the Mohicans,” “The Crucible”) and films I’m simply grateful for (”The Age of Innocence.”)
2. I will finish the fourth and fifth “Harry Potter” books and get far enough into number six so when I watch number seven on IMAX over the weekend I can be at least 80% aware of what is happening.
3. I will stave off any turkey-induced comas by sipping maté.
4. I will not go shopping.
5. I will have pumpkin pie for breakfast.
6. I will jog on the treadmill as long as “The Last of the Mohicans” is playing somewhere in tv-land.
7. I will not wake-up before 8 a.m.
8. I will resume all homework activities around Saturday afternoon. Or Sunday morning.
Right now, I am sitting in a hotel room in Mountain View, Calif. I am about to head off to an interview for a job that you could say is a job of my dreams.
Taking a mini-break during the semester isn’t something I ever do. Before this past weekend I’d actually only take one break in the 10-ish years I’ve been a university student.
There has been talk all around campus about budget cuts. They have been presented as a necessary evil in order to achieve progress. But what does this “progress” mean?