Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blog Fail

Um, yes. I've been failing on the blog posting front. I blame the move. When you spend all day packing, loading, and unloading in sweltering DC heat, you tend to spend the rest of the day doing things not involving any form of exertion. Yes, blogging is a form of exertion. I believe I burn at least 3 calories per paragraph. My fingers feel heavy as I write this. Might not be able to finis

Monday, August 17, 2009

GW Address Fail

I was changing my address online for school today when I discovered something mildly hilarious: among the many nations individuals can claim as their home country, "U.S.S.R." remains an option. Nice work, GW. Way to make our comrades feel at home.

Combine Obamasocialism (kidding, I love the dude) with this and things are getting a bit red around here. Hey, I'm not complaining. I'll be first in the bread line (mmmmm, carbs).

PS: Speaking of fails, I was washing my hands in a restaurant in Adams Morgan yesterday when I read the following words on the wall: "Please wash your hands...this sign brought to you by the District of Columbia Department of Heath." I don't know you, Heath, but damn it I respect you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


One of the many things I was dreading upon my return to the states was my impending move into my Dad and Stepmom's house. This has been compounded by the imminent rental of my childhood home to a Parisian couple. In order to rent the house out, I have to have all of my belongings out of the house by August 23rd. I have a lot of things at the house. This is not going to be fun.

I've been planning on writing a sort of wrap-up of everything that happened at Oxford and Nice, but have been sidetracked by my obligations here. Once I get everything out of the way, I'll be sure to share all the joy that was my summer studying the law abroad. Yay moving!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jet Lag

I hates it! I woke up at 7:30 this morning! That's just wrong. Last night, my eyelids felt heavier than Rush Limbaugh by 7 pm. I drank two cups of coffee at dinner last night. I don't drink coffee. I'm supposed to watch my beloved Redskins tonight at 7:30. I'm honestly afraid I won't last that long. (slapping face). I can do this. (electrocuting self). zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (fail).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Um, Wow

That posting once a day thing didn't happen. There's good reason for that; I spent every day in Nice not in my room on the internet. I consider that progress.

Nice is indeed Nice. I spent all of Sunday lounging on the beach on my own personal bed. Yes, I rented a bed for the day.

The beach at Nice is a rock beach. I know that sounds painful, but they're all super smooth. Still, the really swank hotels have their own private beaches where you can rent a bed with a canopy.

Each section has their own personal waiter. For some reason, my waiter was extremely nice to me, so he found me a bed in the front row, right by the water. Next to my bed was a carpet into the Mediterranean. This, people, is luxury. Oh, and it was a topless beach. I was topless.

I spent Monday doing all the non-Beach things Nice had to offer. I started by visiting a Russian Orthodox Cathedral that looked like it was airlifted from the Kremlin. Pictures weren't allowed but I managed to take some incognito photos with my palm pre. It's possible that I'm going to Russian Orthodox hell, but it was totally worth it.

I then walked in cool Mediterranean rain up to the Marc Chagall museum. I knew nothing about Chagall and had low expectations for the place. When I walked in, I was immediately blown away. His paintings were so vivid and meaningful. The museum was arranged by periods of his artistic life, culminating in a room with a series of religious paintings centered on depictions of famous events from the Old Testament. Very cool. I'll post pictures once I upload them from my camera.

After that, I walked what seemed like forever up to the Matisse Museum. That was exhausting. So exhausting that I'll leave it for another post...

Part II to come later...I gotta run...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Nice is Nice

I'm at the French Riviera. Repeat, I'm at the French Riviera. I'm staying in Nice for the next few days in an attempt to purge my mind of all the ridiculously horrible cases I read involving international human rights violations. My plan was to get to the nicest beach I could afford to go to before heading back to DC. Somehow, Nice seemed like the appropriate place. I hope I am correct. In an attempt to make everyone absurdly jealous, I will try to post at least one gorgeous picture a day. Yay, vacation!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Have a Contract From Oxford

It's true! As a result of my performance last Friday at formal dinner, the University gave me a contract in order to reimburse me for my services!

As you might recall, I paid 240 pounds to rent my cello. That's pretty steep. When Professor Steinhardt heard how much I paid, he looked into getting an honorarium from Oxford in order to help me defray the expense. That resulted in a contract paying me 150 pounds for my services! Granted, that's not all that my cello cost, but I never told them how much it cost. I'm more than happy with the amount.

The coolest part is that I now have an actual contract from the University of Oxford. Here are the terms as written in my contract:

"Dear Mr. Ruckman

Set out below are the details of the programme on which it is proposed you work. Our terms and conditions are given below.

Programme Summer School/Masters in International Human Rights Law
Venue New College
Role Musician at Formal Dinner (!!)
Dates Friday 31st July
Fee 150 pounds (they used the actual pound symbol)

etc........legalese......blah, blah, blah....

If the proposal and the terms and conditions are acceptable, please complete the form below and sign your acceptance, and return one copy of this letter to me at the above address.

Yours Sincerely,

Name of Oxford Employee (which I shall omit in an attempt at discretion)"

Awesome, right?!? I might not cash the check when I get it from them. I'll just frame it next to my first food stamp (kidding, kidding).

Okay, back to studying.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Exams During Summer = No Bueno

It's my last week here at Oxford. On Friday, we have back to back two-hour exams. If you don't hear from me for a while, it's because I'm freaking out in the Oxford law library. All of that busking and not studying is finally catching up to me. Sad face.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blair Witch Like Proof

Um, I'm having a hard time figuring out to upload the video to this here blog. Instead, I posted it on YouTube. Sadly, I haven't been able to edit it to make it right-side up. That is likely a project for when I get home. Also, the actual video is 16 minutes long, but for some reason this one is only 9. I must figure this out.

Although the mic on the camera was pretty good, I'd have to say that it sounded much boomier in person. I hope you enjoy anyway. Just remember to turn your computer sideways! In case you didn't click on the link above, here it is again:

A Seat at the High Table

As mentioned previously, Friday nights at Oxford are formal dinner nights. Everyone gets all spiffy and is served a classy meal. Last night was doubly significant because it was a celebration of Professor Steinhardt's birthday. My contribution was a performance of Bach's first cello suite.

When I arrived, Professor Steinhardt asked me if I'd be willing to perform some Bach for the group. I agreed and then rented a cello. Once I rented the cello, I was told that I would be performing after formal dinner on the third Friday night.

As you might imagine, I was quite nervous about performing in front of the whole group. So, in order to prepare, I forced myself to go out busking. I figured if I could play it well on a crowded street, I could play it well in a gorgeous chapel.

I think it turned out okay. There is video, but my camera is out of batteries. Once that situation is remedied, I will post the video. The setting was perfect for Bach, my cello sounded good, and everyone was extremely appreciative. I wish you all could have been there to witness it live. Hopefully the video will suffice.