Category Archives: UVA

Stuff mostly specific to UVA.

Summer weirdness

Well, the Mandarin intensive at UVA started yesterday. Small class (6 students). That’s good. For me though, the setting is a little weird.

This is my third summer language intensive. I took my second year of Hindi in an intensive summer program at Madison, WI. I took my 4th year of Sanskrit in an intensive summer program in Pune, India. Now I’m taking my first year of Mandarin in an intensive summer program at UVA. For the first two programs, I had to temporarily live away. In Madison, I shared a room with a student from Korea (who was studying something else than Hindi… I don’t remember what). In Pune I shared a flat with an American student who was also in the Sanskrit program. But UVA is where I’m doing my Ph.D. So for the length of the program, I’m just using the same old efficiency I was using during the past academic year. My lodging is the same. The university is the same. In the other programs, I was away from my wife for the whole duration of the program but during this program the isolation will be broken by weekend visits. Somehow, without having to live in a different city, it does not feel like a summer intensive. It’s not like I’m not doing all the work. I’m practicing my pinyin and my Chinese characters to death. There’s just some other intangible element missing.

Then there’s something more tangible missing: my friend Llerena. We took our first year of Hindi together and then went into the summer program together. After that, life took us into different directions. One day during the Hindi intensive, our entire class was walking together. I don’t quite remember what we were doing but what I remember however was that I was mumbling to Llerena that our path was not optimized. Of course, I meant optimized for speed towards our final destination. Instead of taking a direct but more boring route, we took the scenic route which meandered by the lake shore. Llerena just laughed at me and asked, grosso modo: What about how pleasant the walk is? Doesn’t that count? She insightfully pointed out how my obsession with optimizing for speed was flawed: optimizing for speed would have meant sacrificing other, more pleasant, aspects of our walk.

I should drop her a line…

Buddhism comp passed!

I’ve gotten word from Karen Lang that she and Paul Groner rated my Buddhism comprehensive exam with an “enthusiastic pass”. (Those exams are not graded with letters: either you pass or you fail.) Yay!

I’m working on my Hinduism comprehensive now.

And then the methodology comprehensive.

And then the dissertation proposal.

And then 9 months of research abroad… probably Taiwan.

And then writing the dissertation and defending.

And then back in the workforce.

Cavalier computers: still not advantageous

May 17th, 2007. Advertisement on the main page of cavalier computers’ web site:

 Cav Comp

Same computer at Sony’s store:


Cavalier Computers sells it for $1349. Sony sells the same thing for ($1399-$100 = ) $1299. Why should I buy from Cavalier Computers? Every time I compare their prices with other stores, I find that they sell higher. The upshot of all this is that far from being a student-friendly shop, Cavalier Computers is taking advantage of its position to extract a premium from the students’ pockets.

Thanks, Cavalier Computers!!!

UVA’s twisted sense of priorities

The Rolling Stones came to C’ville last Thursday to perform at UVA’s Scott stadium. The parking spaces normally available to faculty, staff and students were taken up by people coming from out of town for the show. Departments closed earlier than normal. Classes were cancelled due to the disruption.

Funny thing. When I applied to UVA, I thought I was applying to an institution dedicated to education, not entertainment. Now, the bright minds that organized the Rolling Stones show would probably claim that the fees charged by UVA to hold the event bring more money to the school, etc. Whether the event made money remains to be determined. Moreover, I would think there are some guidelines that determine what kind of fund raising is acceptable. Otherwise, why not sell “study drugs” to students? Or beer? Anyway, I would suggest that one rule be added (which evidently is currently missing) prohibiting events that are in any way disruptive to the normal daily pursuit of the academic mission of the school.

With the way the Rolling Stones show was handled and the recent calendrical flop, I must say I’m not impressed with UVA’s upper management.

Pleasant campus

I must say the UVA campus is the most pleasant one I’ve seen so far. Penn was nice but it suffers from being crushed by the weight of the city. UVA is open, wide and feels much more relaxed than Penn. UW-Madison’s campus didn’t have the charm of older campuses. The Université de Montréal’s campus (where the École Polytechnique de Montréal was located when I was studying there) is unremarkable. (Ditto for UQAM.)

I haven’t seen any European campuses so I can’t compare with those…

Caveat emptor: Cavalier Computers’ prices are high!

It seems to me Cavalier Computers is taking advantage of its position within the UVA community. Look at the BEFW11S4 (the Linksys wireless router) here. They sell it for $89. At MWave, the same device sells for $50.96. That’s a $40 dollar difference (yes, I’m rounding up). Also, at the time I’m composing this post (Aug 21st 2005), Linksys has a mail in rebate offer of $30, which MWave announces very clearly. On Cavalier Computers’ site, there is no indication of such rebate. So a student going to Cavalier Computers would pay $89 dollars, whereas one going to MWave would, after rebate, pay about $20. Yes, there is a shipping cost involved with buying at MWave but that would be in the $5-10 range. (I’m assuming the student lives near UVA and thus does not need shipping when buying from Cavalier Computers.)

Looking quickly at other wireless devices, I see the same pattern: Cavalier Computers’ prices are almost twice that of MWave. (Heck, Cavalier Computers is even pricier than Staples and Amazon, places *not* recognized for offering the best prices.) I will mention that when I looked at the price of Windows XP Home Edition, Cavalier Computers’ price was about the same as the others. (MWave was not carrying it at the time I checked.)

Check elsewhere before going to Cavalier Computers.