joys of juxtaposition

I take joy in seeing things juxtaposed right in front of me.

Yesterday I stepped out of the stairwell and into the department hallway to hear and see joy. Where just a few days before we saw students trudging towards the testing center or crying in offices, yesterday I saw two grown women playing with “magic wands” of static electricity. Pieces of metallic ribbon suspended in midair as they laughed out loud, steering things about. The best part: they were both doing their “job,” the one I’m paying them to do. Instead of sweating over linear algebra or organic chemistry, they were having fun, and developing ideas for how to play with kids at the same time.

Just this afternoon I was detailing out different funding sources, different programs, and getting the potential incomes and potential expenditures to be the same. When it was all done, I looked at each line of contribution. Thousands of dollars are anticipated from a politician’s foundation — basically a place for his friends to contribute to him without actually contributing to his campaign. He adamantly opposes things like bringing nuclear waste into the state. That’s ironic, because the next line on my ledger is a potential contribution from the foundation of a company that buries nuclear waste in our state. Who knew science education philanthropy would bring together such opposing forces?

My favorite recent juxtaposition, though, has been in my travel plans. As I have multiple stops along the way, and multiple modes of transportation, I’ve been comparing it to my East Coast Tour made during my sabbatical. The train segment of that journey involved boarding at Grand Central Station:


This time I’ll also be taking the train. Curious about what kind of exotic stations I’d visit, I consulted the online map, which was helpful enough to display “street view” images. Here’s my midpoint stop:


Quaint, understated. Decidedly less presumptuous than the station in NYC. And I suspect there will be fewer services upon arrival.

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