Friday, May 19, 2006

Davenport Hall of Horror

I wish I had a photo of Davenport Hall, perhaps I will post one later this week. It was a dark and stormy not really. I do, however, feel as if there is a perpetual cloud over the building and that the clock's hands are stuck on the witching hour.

I've been in a lot of buildings on a lot of campuses. What is it that makes some seem more like sets from B-movies than others? Dear readers, what buildings freak you out on campuses across the country?
I hardly ever become nervous working late at night in the anthropology department at Wash U. Once after 72 hours and no sleep, I saw some floating Coke cans, but that was just my mind and not some metaphysical specter. After that I believed the study about airline pilots going crazy with sleep deprivation, when I had previously thought it was an exaggeration.

The Museum building at Michigan is fairly benign. Come on kids, after the curators' ball who could see it as scary? Yes, maybe some of those cruators go creak in the night, but none of them walk down the hall with the REE-ree_Ree soundtrack playing in the background. When the camera pans to Flankus, we don't expect something to jump into the frame and scare us. I can't think of any of them eating their yogurt with a side of eyeballs, can you? Now, I admit that back 'n '99 there was some freaky stuff going on in that building, still none of it was all that gory.

Something about Davenport Hall in Urbana, on the other hand, just gives me the Willies. Even in the middle of the day I can be walking down a corridor, and I start to feel the walls pulse around me.

Could it be too much chemical fumage, or perhaps breathing in all that prehistoric bone dust? How long do you think weird shit from the past can live in soils and on bones? I don't think I brought back any rodent feces so that rules out hanta, and there aren't any fleas, so no plague. Taos isn't a big risk area for Valley Fever. Prehistoric staph?

Ohhh, Ohh, OMG, it's another premise for Fox's House . This one isn't as good as Dan's where the young grad student measuring artifacts pricks his finger on an Amazonian dart, but it has promise even if we follow the formula. After House has ruled out poison, chlamydia, and some rare form of Cancer, will we find that this is just another episode about Wilson's disease? I sincerely hope not. I vote for botulism from the ling-anth friend whose kentuckian mother's canned goods were unfortunately mis-sealed. Your right, botulism is too predictable, and too easy to diagnose. How about bird flu brought back from Syria by a professor named Henry. We didn't even know Henry was sick, because his immune system is so hard core that he only showed slight symptoms before recovering. While visiting the dying student, Henry and House can talk about bikes. We learn that House not only speaks a little Chinese but also a little Arabic. OMG, House is sooo hot! In this episode, Cameron reveals that before her marriage, and before med school, she considered being an archaeologist, but that the ability to change the world and help people was just too limited......No, Cameron does not moon over Henry as she usually does to visiting scientists.

Yes I am a freak, and sometimes a hypochondriac, but regardless there seems to be something wrong with Davenport. If not the structure itself, perhaps it is the work I do there. On glassware-cleaning-acid-bath days, my heart rate stays up for hours, and as many of you know, I can think my blood pressure to 150 over 90. Is this the source of the claustrophobic-like meanderings of my mind? Last time I went to the doc, my diet and exercise had helped the BP. It is getting more difficult to keep it up by thinking panicky thoughts, and my resting heart rate has finally gone down to 85bpm (from the hummingbird rate of 100). So, yes, while it could be my occupational nervousness, I just don't think it is.

The hallways also are very long, which is not unusual in campus buildings, but there is something about the length to width ratio that just sets off my spooky meter. Maybe something bad happened there in the past and I am picking up on it. I don't really go in for that kind of thing, despite loving movies about heaven and hell. Finally, I don't think it is the one-armed janitor, he is very nice, and not at all urban-legendy, well mostly not.

I have been feeling weird in Chambana since I arrived. It could be the mounting pressure of working 12 hour days 7 days a week, for 13 days..... and only having 36 collagen and apatite samples prepared (when I proposed over 150). Stan says that now that I've got the system down, I don't have to be dependent on him being in town to work. This means that I could come back almost any time to finish the work. I am sort of hoping that my class in St. Louis doesn't make, then I could stay and finish up. If not, I hear it is pretty common to get extensions on NSFs.

On a side note, there is fresh blood in the lab this week. A very nice student from Wisconsin. David says he is used to working long hours. We will see how his time here compares to what he is used to. He is only staying for about a week, and I don't think you can break a person in that amount of time, especially if he is already a good worker......Unlike me who instantly doubled my sluggish 6 hour work days.

PS - the spellchecks number one replacement choice for NSF is "nosebag," wtf is a nosebag?


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