Wednesday, September 14, 2005

That's an 'A', not an 'E', Mr. President ...



Sax
– Yes, we all know about William Jefferson Clinton and his technology innovations, but apparently a sax is also a small axe for cutting roof slates, with a point for making nail holes. From the Olde English seax, ‘knife’, of Germanic origin.


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“Change and decay in all around I see ..” Even the OED fails me sometimes. It’s all very well to know that SAYE is an acronym for “Save As You Earn”, but why the cryptic entry that SBS is “Sick Building Syndrome”?
Buildings can fall sick? If so, who treats them, doctors or architects? Is a sick building wheeled into some kind of vast amphitheatre, where a tall man in green overalls and mask pokes into its innards, all the while bullying a team of plumbers and masons and electricians into passing him the “No. 10 pliers, please” or “3/8 inch left threaded sprocket for outbound drain”?

Or does SBS refer to people getting sick of buildings? If so, there is only one place on earth the term could have originated – Chapin Apartments in the State University of New York at Stony Brook, known on campus (for obvious reasons) as the Peoples’ Republic of Chapin . Units in this lovely complex of semi-detached (you can’t always hear the couple in the next apartment fighting over birth control) town houses (grad students’ version, glorified slum) each with a view (see below!), are available at very reasonable rents ($650 for a shared apartment, out of a stipend of $1050 which is about $900 after taxes, how do we pay for the trips to the micro-brew?!).

The view, ah the view! Out of the window of my room, I had this scenic panorama. Of an overflowing garbage vat. Right outside our front door. Wunnerful!

And when we stepped out in the morning, we had this glorious view of the second ugliest building in the entire Northern Hemisphere (referred on appeal for the top ranking, the jury’s still out on that one), the Stony Brook University Hospital. Which started out as a standard ’60s style government building eyesore, till somewhere down the road the Flash Gordon crew butted in with a request for a “really really shit ugly space-port”. And THEN they had a ‘moment’ that may have inspired George Lucas for the Darth Vader look. And after that they chose the most treeless spot in 1800 acres to put it up.

Campus legend has it that when it was completed, the guy who was supposed to formally inaugurate it didn’t get a good look until he stepped outside for a photo-op. Whereupon he started saying something about “This truly modern facility tha …. aaaAWWWKKk!!!” And had a spectacular fit and became the first emergency patient in the UMC. Patients are blindfolded when they enter and leave the building …

Oh, check it out for yourselves.





NB: The cafeteria was kind of OK, though.

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14 comments:

A Cynic in Wonderland said...

Well maybe that eyesore grows on you. Strange are the ways i find this particular blog of yours JAP. Oh for sickly buildings come to mumbai. They get wet and then collapse ( literally)

A Cynic in Wonderland said...

Drat the english lingo! I meant i find the link in unexpected places. Bah!

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Cyn - "unepected places" such as?
Re: "eyesore grows on you", have you SEEN it? Eeewww!

J.A.P.

Ph said...

DO tell Cyn!

M (tread softly upon) said...

lol @ JAP. well the 60s and 70s architecture leaves a lot to be desired and there are buildings in an Univeristy in Chicago which is where i went to school that can amaze, bewilder and faze you for their ugliness and "eye soreness".

Srin said...

uhm...a sick building would maybe be like a sick company?one that needs to be demolished or repaired?

Vishnupriya said...

reminds me of two giant salt and pepper shakers :)

the still dancer said...

or rather phallic. But then, hoover tower at the farm would surely take the cake. Rather prophylactic in appearance, wouldn't you say?

Vishnupriya said...

about my last post, i believe you when you say india is better at crisis management. i was in the states when they had the big power grid blowout on the east, and i saw everything go up the spout FAST. i guess in india were so used to landing in s*** that weve also learned to climb out.

oh, and have you seen whats happened to the former blog of an award winning actress thats still linked to from yours???

oh and arka, PHALLIC!!! ummm, theyre two of them and theyre kind of stubby. i wont elaborate, but fundae straight!

Anyesha said...

Eeks...that building sure is ugly !!!The last time I was on that campus there was another building (the Wang something Center - google it...I am too lazy)giving that ugly hospital stiff competetion. It is a frightful apparition in crimson.
And the houses in Chapin are nasty to say the least...the grad housing was much nicer.

Karthik said...

Oh for sickly buildings come to mumbai. They get wet and then collapse ( literally)

Umm... I wouldn't call getting all wet and collapsing sick ;)

A fool on the hill said...

Didn't quite get your answer to my comment on the TV-ghost post...

Jay said...

Gee, after that post, I really hope buildings don't have feelings.

GREATBONG said...

JAP,

I read this in Austria where I was not being able to log into my blogger account. Now that I am...here is my 2 cents.

1. The Health Sciences Building is shaped like a few giant die placed next to each other----the subtext being not so subtle....here your fate is in the hands of the roll of the dice.

2. The Medical center of Stonybrook once housed a serial killer doctor who used to poison his patients---but even after he was caught administering injections to a patient not under his care who subsequently died, the admin kept him on. For more info read this


3. Chapin is the closest one can get to the Warsaw ghetto possible....our first apartment used to get flooded with ankle deep water when it rained heavily ....the name Chapin does not come from the folk singer Harry Chapin who died on LIE but from an union of the words "Chapta" and "Indian" because these are the only people who would ever live in that hellhole.

4. Stonybrook came second in a survey of universities with lowest student satisfaction. Here also we didnt come first.