Wednesday, August 31, 2005

and now what?

Oh good golly - the aftermath is far worse than even I, the ever and eternally optimistic, had imagined.

The good news is that every one I know (and the ones I just admire, such as Editor B) are safe. My heart goes out to the folks who stayed in the Superdome and now are being bused to the Astrodome. To be alive yet without options and in a place dedicated to fun and frivolity, headed for another as a refugee must be an awful sensation. It's all so much better than it might have been, yet so dreadful.

Words Written: more than expected
Lessons Graded: twelve
books on floor: nineteen

Gratitude that books are all that I have on my floor: priceless

(thank-you, blessed saints above)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

more on Katrina

One of the few nice aspects of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina is that this morning Sam and I had perfect dog-walking weather: cooler and with just enough rain to keep the streets reasonably empty. The geriatric golden retriever did go by twice. For some reason she and Sam have never gotten along. Distant sightings make both of them suspicious and up close they bark. I've chatted (all right, yelled) with the golden's owner, and both of our dogs are generally pretty calm and placid; perhaps they're arguing politics.

Speaking of Katrina, Steve Osunsami of ABC news wins my award for "most helpful image" of flooding. A picture flashed of him walking a street in the hours before the hurricane hit, with water up to his ankles. Last night ABC showed a picture of him well up to his thighs in flooding, and S.O. explained that this was as close as he could get to the old location, shown in the background and obviously with water over his head. For a spacially challenged person like me, this is terribly helpful.

He's easy on the eyes, too. (giggle)

Now back to that pile of things to be marked up...

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Last night I dreamed that I was the mother of 8 - 10 children. Hopefully this is symbolic of all of the books I will one day write. I had hired Vernon Jordan to babysit them. I prefer not to dwell upon what that bit of casting might symbolize.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I'd like to thank the academy...

Which Food Network chef are you?
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Alton Brown

This may be the nicest, most flattering thing anyone says about me in 2005. Thanks to Greg, even if he does think that I throw like a girl. (blows kiss)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

slow progress

I had a pretty good bout of writing just now - I'm sure that the powers that be will have all sorts of changes they want made, but it was nice to reread what'd I'd written and see several pages, all of them essentially on track.

Thanks to spending so many hours reading my students' prose I'm now one of the folks who compulsively notices errors in punctuation and spelling in everyday life. You'd think I could do this with my own prose. Nope. The advisor (may he live forever) thinks I need to proof-read more effectively. (sighs)

Now, now - no comments about my many typographical errors in your comment boxes. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Monday, August 22, 2005

a box of books

Blonde Champagne has a truly great post about the banalities of textbooks.

Actually it's better than great. It's fantastic and hilarious and all the funnier because, as someone who has had to actually teach with these monster slabs as supposed teaching aids, it's true.

Some textbooks are actually pretty good - they've been compiled with an eye toward people having to actually read and use them. Alas, far too many of them are written by really terrific writers and then bled of any soul or purpose by the publishers, who know that they must make everyone happy.

I still have my Lit anthologies from college. I won't pretend that I reread them on a regular basis (I still can't read more than two John Berryman poems in a row) but I've gotten a lot more use out of them during insomnia bouts than, say, the biology books that are unreadable even at 3 AM.

Editor's Note I have no idea how to make a Biology textbook interesting. Smaller words? More jokes?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

papal ponderings

This is a very interesting article about Pope Benedict's visit to Germany. Among other things, he has called for an end to DIY religion.

As a good Protestant, this is a tricky statement for me, which is why it's probably intellectually (if not spiritually as well) good for me to read it. On the one hand, I understand his point completely. The Pope would like to see a return to more traditional forms of religious worship and ways of living out faith and spiritual values in daily life. I, for one, am not entirely comfortable when I walk into a church and see a full drum kit where I would expect to see a cross. On the other hand, I know that this is the setting which has brought a great many people into Christianity. If this kind of worship brings them peace and helps them make better choices, all well and good.

The tricky part, of course, is that all religions are to one extent or another DIY. They are institutions created by and for people. I think that the Pope might be calling for people to struggle more with faith, to be made uncomfortable with the issues raised and to face that challenge head-on, rather than seeking a fuzzy version of that experience.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

message from an old student

Dear Prof lemming,

I'm being deployed to the Middle East soon. Remember how you teased me that I really should sit down and read the textbook rather than just reading the index? Well, I've thrown the book in my bag. It's a long flight and I'lll try to read it then. If nothing else, it might help me get some sleep.

I should be laughing - he's trying to be funny - so why do I want to cry?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

technical assistance?

It had to happen sooner or later - my first spam comment arrived on Monday's post. (Who on Earth would buy stock from a company heard about through a blog comment?) (I digress.) Does anyone know how to get rid of it, or is this the reason why so many of you use haloscan instead of blogger for your comments?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sir William, I cannot wait until lunchtime

Excuse me.
Oh, hi Sam.
It's time.
Not this morning, I have a headache.
No, you don't.
I'm sleepy.
It's time, mistress. The vicious cats are out and the rabbits and...
Sam, we're going to regret this. There's some really good reason why a walk this morning is a bad idea.
Walk? Did you mention a walk? Nothing could have been further from my mind. The leash is over there.

Walks on summer mornings are great for many reasons, not the least of them being the quiet. Little bits of mist rise from the yards, rabbits scurry about and, apart from joggers, Sam and I have the walk to ourselves.

Today school started. This means mornings full of squeaky brakes, kids lined up in driveways and nary a bunny or bloodthirsty, life-threatening or dangerous cat in sight until Saturday morning.

Public Service Announcement
(aka I've been grading papers again)

It's = it is
its = ownership

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog-time.

Friday, August 12, 2005

My hovercraft is full of eels

I'd encourage everyone to follow Editor B's link to the latest on the Cindy Sheehan story. This is one of the elements of blogging that I most admire - a story and its many perspectives can quickly reach a large audience.

Long-time liberal that I am, I don't understand the enthusiasm for silencing the dissenting voices like Sheehan's. Aren't we fighting a war in the Middle East so that they can have their own opinions? Well-trained historian that I hope I am, I look back at previous military conflicts and understand the enthusiasm. ("Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids...") That's what professional training does for you, folks. Exciting, huh? Don't all of you quit your day jobs to join me, though; the job market is crowded enough already.

It's been years since I made or recieved a mix tape. An old friend who knows more about music than I ever will sent me not one but two mix CDs in the mail yesterday. I'm under strict instructions not to look at the song index until I've listened to both of them, all the way through. Said friend is an avowed loather of anything associated with Liza Minnelli and knows that my computer is oddly obsessed with her voice, so I am slightly trepedacious.

I made slow but steady progress in writing yesterday and hopefully today. It's as though all of those years of graduate school during which I learned to read and summarize a book in twelve hours have washed away. I've reverted to my undergraduate habits, which means I am at my most productive after dinner and before bedtime. I haven't yet abandoned diet coke for gourmet coffee (my big luxury in college) but watch this space come October. Mind you, I can still read and summarize a book in twelve hours, less if it's something interesting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

do you suppose he drinks possets?

Luke Duke
You are Luke Duke. You are sensible and charming.
You rarely get to drive, but you are okay with
that. You are hard-working and honest.

What Dukes of Hazzard Character are you?
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I always preferred Luke to Bo.

Happy Hour (cheers!)

For a variety of reasons that would be far too dull to explain here, I looked up the dictionary definition of the word "posset" this morning. Thanks to my As in 19th Century British Literature, Medieval and Early Modern History, and having read my fair share of romance novels in which possets are used for nefarious purposes, I was confident that the word meant something along the lines of "a soothing and tasty drink, usually served at bedtime and probably containing either alcohol or opium."

Well, at least I was right about the alcohol. My seven inch thick dictionary defines posset as a drink made of hot milk sounds good so far curdled OK, having seen that verb it sounds rather less appealing with ale, wine or the like, often sweetened or spiced. Said word first turns up in the written record in about 1450.

I think I'll stick to sleeping pills.

I had a good writing day on Monday and a wretched one yesterday. Can't yet tell about today.

Books on Floor: twenty-one

Monday, August 08, 2005

I've got plenty of plenty

"Wait," called the mother of the child who has only read three of the Harry Potter books. "I have something for you!"


The something turned out to be a watermelon. Now, when I say "watermelon" I don't mean one of those partial watermelons that you buy at the store and that goes bad right away in the fridge. I mean a very large, intact, definitely oval and very long watermelon, one picked yesterday.


Friday, August 05, 2005


Celebrating thousands of words written, even more lessons graded and countless books stacked on the floor. Thanks to everyone. I had no idea that this blogging thing would turn out to be so much fun and that I would meet so many nice folks along the way. You've no idea how much I appreciate your support.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Saturn's Moons

One of the great features (to my limited mind) of using Firefox is that you have handy access to the latest BBC headlines. "Really, I'm not procrastinating, I'm just getting caught upon the news and the latest cricket scores."

Every now and again they'll post an update on Cassini's latest pictures and how scientists have interpreted them. The latest Cool Pictures of Titan and an analysis of its atmosphere are up right now. Come on now, everyone needs a break from work every now and again.

Alas, a hot tub has not materalized in my office, but I did find some notes I'd thought lost and several back issues of professional journals whose reviews I can mine.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

more follow-up

US Ambassadors to the UN

For the record, after a lot of digging around through my memory, I came up with six names and two "close but not quite" names. A quick poll among my fellow dog walkers came up with, as I predicted, an average of three names and a good guess or two.

Last night I dreamed about the people I examine in the diss, rather than the authors of the books about them. I think it unlikely that any of these people would actually turn up at my front door on a service call, but am delighted that they turned up to fix the hot tub in my office.

I've been grading book reviews all morning, and am happy to report that while some are better than others, all are improved from last time. My favorite phrase, "I thought this book would be boring but it was actually kind of interesting" showed up on several occasions, much to my delight.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

several updates

Memo to Messrs Bolton and Bush: hop into Air Force One and visit a small American city such as, oh, Indianapolis. Watch while your assistants ask the first hundred people they meet to name a previous American Ambassador to the UN. I predict that few, if any, will be able to name more than three or four. Then ask them what they know about the UN. A little humility here, please, folks...

Shoe update: Despite the furor created by the Women's Lacrosse team at the White House, I opted for the sequined flip-flops.

Writing Update: it's going. I've switched energies around a lot today and yesterday, working on lots of different areas. This doesn't feel productive in the same way that writing 3000 words is productive, but one word plus another plus another will eventually equal done, right?

Words Written: lots of scribbles, wadded up and thrown in the trash can, but also some promising notes alongside the deletions

Books on Floor: thirty-one

Monday, August 01, 2005

of shoes - not ships or sealing wax, just shoes

Most of the time, I own three or four pairs of shoes: one for dog walking, one or two for teaching and attending church and a really nice pair for weddings and funerals. Oh yes, and a pair of good winter boots, since dog walking is a year round activity.

Last week I walked into a shoe store last week and purchased three new pairs of shoes. (I'd claim that Green Book is somehow to blame if I could figure out a witty enough way to do it.) I can't remember the last time I owned this many pairs of shoes.

Tonight I am invited to a fancy cocktail party and must actually gasp make a choice!