Saturday, October 15, 2005

University of Illinois 9-17-2005

Last month, I returned to my Alma Mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to give a seminar and visit my old stomping grounds. The campus looks much better than when I left it -- but that was during the horrible drought of 1988, which caused trees to drop their leaves and turned grass the color of straw. The first picture shows the Illini Union building from the southeast.

Up until the 1950s, the quadrangle walkways were lined by majestic Dutch Elms, but they succumbed to disease. Their replacements are finally filling out. The latter picture isn't very good; I need to learn how to handle an overly bright sky.

Here is Altgeld Hall and its belltower, situated on the northwest side of the quadrangle. That's where my math classes were, and I used to study in the library.

The Alma Mater, situated between the Illini Union and Altgeld, welcomes students and visitors to campus; its inscription reads: "To thy happy children of the future, those of the past send greetings." When I was on campus, the legend was the woman with the outstretched arms would seat herself in the chair behind her should a virgin walk by. The statue proved fodder for practical jokers; in one memorable incident during my freshman year, some wag placed a beer can and a frisbee into her hands. Another creative person turned the figures into the Coneheads, a staple of Saturday Night Live at the time.

Finally, the apartment in which my wife and I used to live. Her vegetable garden is gone, replaced with grass.

A surprise bloom 10-15-2005

The cereus plant appears to have forgotten which time zone it is in. Last night (10/14), I checked the plant before going to sleep, and judged that one of the two remaining developments would bloom on the evening of the 15th. I was up shortly after sunrise this morning, and looked at the plant again. No bloom during the night. I happened to look out again about two hours later, and to my surprise saw a fully opened flower! This flower opened after sunrise. Here is a picture of it...

This may have happened before. Several times, I have checked the plant before midnight when I suspected a bloom was imminent, only to judge the flower would open the following night. I'd look again the next afternoon, however, only to find an already spent flower. Obviously, the flower opened in the interim, well after midnight. Perhaps it even waited until after daybreak. I recall this was more likely to happen late in the season... like this time of year.