Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Greetings from Home

We are back from Philadelphia, where we spent the day at Penn, going on tours to show Daniel the school and reacquainting ourselves with the campus since there has been a lot of construction since we visited a couple of years ago. The day did not start very auspiciously, since there was an unpredicted torrential thunderstorm while we were at breakfast, but the sun had come out by the time we got to campus, and although it was quite hot, there was more of a breeze than when we visited Duke. We went on the main campus tour first, which covered the new business school buildings, student union, main library, residential quad, and football stadium. There were at least four other tour groups going around simultaneously and the information session was packed. We had a perky rising sophomore as a tour guide who amused Adam when she explained that there are dormitory floors for special interest groups, like Women Entrepreneurs and Infectious Diseases (doesn't everyone want to live on the Infectious Diseases floor?).

Then we went to the bookstore, had lunch at Mad Mex (a very enjoyable Mexican restaurant not open when we were students), watched the old law school being torn down so a new one can be built, visited Paul's and my freshman dorm, walked up the middle of campus past the high rises to the shopping arcade along 40th Street, walked back to 34th Street for iced frappuccinos, and headed to the engineering school for their tour. This one had fewer students than the general campus tour and was conducted by a recent graduate. Daniel seemed more impressed by the lab facilities at Penn than he was by the ones at Duke, though that might be because we saw more robotics and lots of machines instead of classrooms with fancy podiums (Wharton gets those, heh). The engineering school has been substantially rebuilt since I was a student and they're building yet another major facility now, so it looks like it would be awesome to go to college there...though of course I'm biased, since I spent four happy years there!

Adam took this photo of me with one of the Ben Franklin statues on campus. (People are often warned to avoid this bench since drunk frat boys have been known to pee on it, but we figured it was safe since it had rained so hard that morning.) Adam thinks Franklin looks lecherous, which I suspect was not accidental on the sculptor's part.

And here are Paul, myself, and Daniel next to the most famous work of art on campus, though it isn't the original -- Robert Indiana's first Love sculpture was designed for the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is now at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

One of the achievements for which Penn is best known is the first digital computer, known as ENIAC. This is just a small piece of the original giant calculator.

Our engineering school tour guide showed off the award-winning robotic dog in the case, but when I asked him if the designers were Doctor Who fans, he said Doctor Who was cheesy. Harrumph!

This is Franklin Field, home of the Penn Relays and of the Quakers' football team. This week it is hosting sports camps.

Paul and I met at The Daily Pennsylvanian (he was the film editor, I was the books editor), housed in the building with the oversized columns on the left.

The gate outside Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall depicts Thing engaged in a variety of tasks.

Between the high rises stands an enormous sculpture called Covenant by Alexander Liberman. Despite Adam's penchant for renaming contemporary art, he did not appreciate being told that it is known by everyone on campus as the Dueling Tampons.

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