I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Work and Play

A few busy days since I came back from New York and my talk at NYU. It was a very rushed but utterly delightful trip (train from Phillie; lunch with Chris; long walk; talk, with pointed, knowledgeable and generous questions; dinner with the nicest imaginable group; good night's sleep in this lovely hotel; train back in the morning).

I then started a couple of busy days with my writing collaborator. We gave a talk together on Friday at Penn; then spent a couple of happy days wandering the streets, checking out the new Galileo exhibition at the Franklin Institute, eating and drinking with his cousins, with our mutual friends, at Time, at Parc, and at the Sofitel. We made good progress, I think, and sketched out our talk for Kalamazoo sitting in the sunshine at Rittenhouse Square which is almost exactly at this degree of greening (though much more crowded on Sunday):
Picture of Rittenhouse Square Park
The next few days have been a bit slower (though I did write out the first draft of that talk on Monday night), but I have now put together my talk and most of the powerpoints for Boulder. I leave tomorrow afternoon. I also slipped out this afternoon and bought a pair of shoes and two —TWO — frocks. What was I thinking? Perhaps something about giving all these talks...

Yesterday, though, I went out at 4.00 and did a tour of the amazing masonic temple. It was begun in 1868, and thus pre-dates the city hall. It looks very much like a cathedral:
Masonic Temple In Philadelphia In The Daytime

I really don't know that much about the masons, and our tour guide wasn't too forthcoming. He was a young mason, very keen to normalise the activity of the fraternity and to demystify freemasonry. The interiors of this building — the Egyptian Hall, the Corinthian Hall, the Renaissance Hall, the Gothic Hall, etc. — and the staircases, hallways and ceilings, are all pretty spectacular. Check out this site to do some on-line tours or look at photos.

Click here to see a larger imageClick here to view a larger image.Click here to see a larger view.

Masonry here is on a much larger scale than the little lodges I'm familiar with: tiny buildings in little country Victorian towns. I guess most lodges in American country towns are tiny, too. But in this country it's sometimes hard to remember how BIG everything is. I picked up Time Out, too, in New York, to get a sense of what's on, and what we should book tickets for. Absolutely mind-boggling, to see what's going on there. A month suddenly looks like no time at all.

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