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Going Home

Last weekend I attended my five-year reunion at Swarthmore College. I graduated in 2005, and it was my first time back on campus since I attended the 2006 graduation to see off friends from that year. I think I had somehow forgotten how beautiful the campus is (being a national arboretum will do that).

Campus hasn’t changed much since I left; the Parrish remodel I had seen in 2006 makes a much nicer first floor lounge, New New Dorm is in place next to New Dorm (where I lived senior year, now called Kemp and Paul respectively), and the arboretum building got expanded. The newest trees planted around the science center (which was completed my senior year) have grown a fair bit. The napping couch in Hicks (the engineering building) was reupholstered. Otherwise, the campus is a very familiar place.

My sense of calling Swat home really struck me Sunday morning, as several of us met up to go to brunch at Java Joe’s. Since my parents moved to Seattle, I haven’t had a sense of permanent home. There’s not much tying me to Minneapolis other than high school friends I visit occasionally, and while my parents are associated with home, their current condo is largely unfamiliar. It probably also doesn’t help the sense of home there that my sister is still far, far away! I like Boston a lot, but I don’t feel Bostonian in a number of key ways. Swarthmore, however, is where I spent a good chunk of four years of my life (almost straight through in the last three years, since I did summer research twice). Now that I’ve been back, I can see myself returning more often, if for no other reason than to keep an anchor there; conveniently however I can expect to see a lot of old friends every time I go.

A more detailed rundown of the weekend is below the cut. Overall it was great to see everyone, but the official events were pretty lame. Apologies if I left anyone out!


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RIP Bike

If you follow me on Twitter or are a friend on Facebook, you probably already heard that my bike got stolen. A brief memorial to my thorughly well-used 2005 Trek 7500 FX ::cue sappy music::…

My 2005 Trek 7500 FX, fresh of the moving truck, clean, and unused.

My 2005 Trek 7500 FX, fresh off the moving truck, clean, and unused.

It was a solid bike, and it served me well, in spite of occasional abuses such as forgetting to oil the chain often enough or wiping out on wet leaves and bending a pedal out of whack. I certainly put money into this on top of the base purchase price (adding cargo racks, new handlebars, replacing shifter cables, new brakes, etc.), but it is still well below the cost of dealing with a car… and I get some form of exercise, as well.

As for the theft itself, I have learned the hard way regarding cable locks. I had switched to one a while ago for the weight and convenience of being able to lock to more things, but they are of course eminently more cuttable. This particular one, a Kryptonite KryptoFlex 1218 6′, was sliced mostly silently right below the window of my girlfriend’s apartment, locked to a lamppost. I took a taxi home, and first thing in the morning filed a police report and an insurance claim.

Thankfully, my renter’s insurance from Liberty Mutual (obtained through work) covers loss, theft, or destruction of personal property even if it’s outside of my apartment; there’s just a $250 deductible (and potentially depreciation calculated) that comes out of the value of the item(s), which means it’s really only useful for replacing something on the order of a laptop or bicycle.

In the end, I’m getting a check for almost $500, which should mostly cover a new bike purchased during the Eastern Mountain Sports winter sale. My natural disposition then is to see the silver lining, and take this frustrating theft as an excuse to get a new bicycle for cheap (even after you amortize what I pay biweekly for the insurance).

Incidentally, while googling for the insurance quote, I discovered that when he still lived in Chicago, Obama rode a 7500 FX :oD.

Hopefully, the new bike (I’m currently leaning towards a Trek Valencia) will serve me as well as the last one.

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Nicolas Ward

Software engineer in Natural Language Processing research by day; gamer, reader, and aspiring UltraNurd by night. Husband to Andrle
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