I went to a talk hosted by the the international researchers about the origins of Swedish customs. I was really interested in the topic, as it was going to be covered by someone from the Nordic Museum so I expected an academic take, rather than just repeating myths. And to an extent the speaker did this, talking about the effects of the very sudden urbanization and fairly dramatic change from Calvinist / Lutheran to highly secular and permissive. The trouble was she wasn't a strong speaker; I still enjoyed her obvious enthusiasm for her subject, but she's very much a museum curator and not someone who deals directly with the public. Like a minor character out of AS Byatt. She was very rambly and didn't really develop her argument properly, though there were hints of something very interesting about the connections between genuinely old traditions, relatively modern adaptations and Romanticist concepts of traditions, and imported or completely novel traditions, but it didn't quite hang together.
Last Friday I was supposed to be helping Joanna and SS run a service, but she was ill and had to cry off at the last minute. SS panicked a bit, but between us we coped ok. Lots of the Paideia set showed up, including JB whom I'm getting to know and like a lot. And it was a bit disorganized but very friendly, and the meal afterwards was delightful, so in many ways we're really getting into the swing of this service.
Last night was our belated lab "Christmas" dinner. One of the Chinese students picked the restaurant, Dragon house, which does an admirable job of balancing authenticity with presenting something palatable and unscary to European customers. We ordered half a dozen different dishes between the seven of us, plus accoutrements, and made a very good and highly varied meal. There was plenty of good vegetarian food, such a really tasty dish with aubergines cooked for a long time so they were almost caramelized. Everybody is kind of stressed at the moment, but we made an effort to relax and it was a successful evening, on the whole.
And then this evening I had some really good discussions with my class about inclusivity. I was afraid it would get out of hand, but no, we had just the right level of controversy. So I feel good about that. (Can't believe I only have one more session of this course!)
Linkies: Epic sysadmin fail from Joanna. And siderea discusses an actually new social problem caused by the internet (as opposed to the online versions of ancient social problems that people keep getting their knickers in a twist about.)