Getting ready for commencement, of course, means more than just putting up the platform. One of the other things I enjoy every year is the general sprucing up of the campus. On the one hand this is just good maintenance policy, but on the other all the hustle and bustle really adds to the feeling that what is about to happen is a Big Deal. I admit that I may be desperate for excitement but I think it creates a charming and fun atmosphere. And thus it has always been. Here’s a picture from the commencement spruce up of 1927–they’re smoothing the gravel drive for the visitors who will soon flood the scene:
And this morning these genial fellows were carefully putting mulch around the hedges, working very hard in the already hot sun:
To add to the festive atmosphere on the quad, a tour group came through, snapping pictures of me snapping pictures of them:
Bonus: So when I walked out the back door of the Shepherd School on my way in this morning, I saw this:
A closer look reveals that they are Rubbermaid trash cans.
I love the concept of trash cans as lamp shades – whoever at B&G came up with that deserves recognition.
I’ve done some research on James Turrell’s Skyspace installation in front of the Shepherd School and have discovered that its true, albeit secret, purpose is to attract UFO’s to the Rice campus. Think of it as a UFO terminal. Rice’s administration sees this as the “next frontier” in federally fund research. Like the Johnson Space Center did in the 1960’s, this will “launch” Rice into the forefront of 21st century research. This is the real reason for the plastic trash containers: they’re intended to remind the aliens of their families back home, on another planet. You see, the standard Rice exterior pole-mounted light fixture resembles a certain alien species, except for the “head.” So, Mr. Turrell worked with the university to find a quick fix. They tried some conical hats but that didn’t pass muster. It turns out that an upside down trash container looks very much like the headgear worn on the alien planet! Who knew?