Wednesday, September 28, 2005

malfunctioning wardrobe

I face a wardrobe dilemma. Tomorrow I have blocked off ten-twelve hours of quality time to be spent with my microfilm. OK, it's Banned Books Week and so I really should recognize that the microfilm truly belongs to the larger university community or, more specifically, the history collections people who paid for it. It's still mine.

I digress.

The microfilm reading area is among the least attractive and more poorly lit rooms in a library that is already rather dreary and dark. If I'm going to be crouched over a dusty microfilm reader all day, I want to do it in jeans and a sweatshirt. Here lies the wardrobe problem: my advisor (may he live forever) is taking me out to lunch at a reasonably nice restaurant. I could wear jeans in a pinch, but not a t or sweat shirt. I could also bring a change of clothes in my bag, but that would cut down on the number of library books that I can carry.

On a more random note, a secondary definition for the word "diligence" is a public stagecoach, esp. used in France [1745]

Words Written: seven hundred-ish
Lessons Graded: three
Books on Floor: forty-three

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

O Frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Exactly seven months to the day of its ordering:


any progress in a storm

Had another very productive day on Sunday, despite the headache-inducing lights in the library stacks. Woke up with a headache on Monday and took a nap instead of working. My advisor (may he live forever) and I are trying to set up a time and place to meet this week to look over my latest and talk strategy.

'scuse me, got to get back to work.

Words Written: haven't counted yet
Lessons Graded: three
Boks on Floor: thirty-five, plus five index file folders full of book reviews

Saturday, September 24, 2005

fact of the day

The bee uses twenty-two different muscles when stinging.

Words Written: one thouand, one hundred and eight (hurrah!)
Lessons Graded: two

Friday, September 23, 2005


Thanks to all for the suggestetions and advice. When I first saw those words, the sentence seemed oddly jarring and it took me a few readings to realize that the "was" truly bothered me. Since the rest of the book is so well-constructed, I thought perhaps this might be a rule exception I'd missed in The Chicago Manual of Style.

The sentence comes from one of the most beautiful and evocative novels I've read in a very long time, Mary Dowing Hahn's The Old Willis Place: A Ghost Story, page 17. (Yes, to cheer myself up after reading about the Clinton years, I read a book about ghosts.)

The writing is not going well and I'm not sleeping well; the two are probably connected. It's been a long time since I had any chocolate, so perhaps a quick supply run would be beneficial.

I'm also worried about the latest storm - and how much gas the folks who left Houston used to fuel their SUVs and Hummers - but no amount of chocolate can fix that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

reader query

Every year there was more traffic, more people, more houses.

I think the verb should be "were." What do you think?

Monday, September 19, 2005

First Ladies follow up

Joe, in response to my last post, asked how many First Ladies have been "publicly active on policy matters" and speculated that H.R. Clinton might be the only one. Ever a kind and thoughtful chap, Joe kindly implied that I might know more about this subject than he and that my answer might interest him.

(beams with pride) Take ten points for Gryffindor for brightening my morning.

HRC was not the first nor, I would argue, even the most villified First Lady to speak out and act in public policy matters. That title would go to Eleanor Roosevelt, who spent three terms plus a tad more as probably the most active, influential and out-spoken First Lady ever.

I could run this post on for screens and screens, but two more ladies truly stand out in my humble opinion. (More examples available upon request.)

Betty Ford worked quite tirelessly, and against much criticism, in favor of the Equal Rights Ammendment. Much pilloried in the press of the time, Ford was also very open about pushing her husband to appoint the first female Surpeme Court justice if ever he had the chance. I think Ford's reputation hs been rehabilitated (if also opened to a new series of nasty remarks) by opening the clinic.

Lucy Hayes, the first First Lady to have graduated from college, was a very outspoken supporter of the temperence movement. All of the jokes about "Lemonade Lucy" aside, she used her status as First Lady to encourage temperence awareness throughout the nation, particularly among its women. In the second half of the 19th century, this was a deeply controversial stance for a woman in her position to take.

P.S. Ten points to Greg, too, for thoughtful follow-up.

(WOW! You actually enjoy my historical ramblings!)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

First Ladies

In my copious spare time, I've been reading The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House by John F. Harris. It's been quite enjoyable, as Harris doesn't bring a particular agenda to the saga, just a very straight-forward approach and plenty of research.

On page 256, Harris discusses Hillary Clinton's attempts to Get Along with the Washington media after the 1996 election. Speaking in Australia, Clinton commented:

There really is no way to escape the politics of one's time if you're in that position, other than to just totally withdraw - perhaps, I don't know, have a bag over your head when you come out into public - or in some way to make it clear you have no opinions and no ideas about anything and will never express them publicly or privately.

I think HRC prophesied the future with this remark. Apart from a picture in People magazine when she lost weight, I haven't seen a thing of Laura Bush all year, other than occasionally smiling and waving as she gets into a helicopter.

Bush must be a strong woman; I admire her ultimatum that George either becme sober or file for divorce. I hope someday to read a Harris book about the Bush years and find out her views and feelings on the events of the last five years.

Words Written: two hundred and nine
Lessons Graded: fourteen

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Your Rising Sign is Aries

You're full of energy - and people look to you to get the party started.

Confident and honest, you'll be the one to say what everyone is thinking.

You are easily bored, and you always find unique ways to do things.

You don't just dream it, you do it. And that's why you're so successful.

Too intense for some, often times people are intimidated by you.

But you're usually smart enough to charm them anyway!

an ordinary morning

Is it just me, or does Jack FM occasionally play Neil Diamond? I could swear that I heard his voice yesterday.

Sam almost caught a cat this morning. I'm not sure who was more surprised. I think he expected the kitten to run and the kitten hadn't met a hostile dog before; she certainly looked surprised.

I've been writing rec letters for former students this morning. Usually these are easy to do, and I can knock off a thoughtful letter in under half an hour. (Someone wrote them for me after all, so I'm mysteriously qualified to write them for others.) Right now I'm struggling with writing a letter for a woman who was an excellent student, but who I didn't really get to know very well in any way other than academic. I hate to fall back upon the usual "great student" platitudes but I suppose they'll have to do.

Words Written: three hundred and six
Lessons Graded: four

Monday, September 12, 2005

of microfilm and mail

Good news: the microfilm (you remember, it was ordered back in March) left the archive at the end of August. The Twenty-fourth, to be exact.

(dance of joy)

Bad news: the library staff at my university have yet to change its status in the card catalouge from "on order" to "being processed."


Yes, yes, I know, materials that will be used by a lowly graduate student are of far less importance than materials that might possibly be used by a professor. I'm still going to request a rush in processing and see if it gets me anywhere.

The grocery store clerk told me that the former director of FEMA had no disaster relief experience and mostly specialized in horses and horse races. Can anyone confirm or deny?

contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says...

Update: ohmigd it's true - and he was asked to resign from the horse gig for doing a terrible job. (Thanks Eileen!)

Friday, September 09, 2005

spam as poetry

Like many people, some of the spam I get is just, well, strange. Most of the time I roll my eyes and junk it unread. One of today's messages sneaked through my initial delete cycle, and I have to confess, some of the random words selected to sneak the thing past any filter in place were not all bad.

clairvoyant coven

A coven of clairvoyants, a murder of crows, a pod of dolphins, sure, why not?

try clomp buzz

I can't decide if "clomp buzz" would make a better microbrew or mead.

burdock within intuitable and influential hieroglyphic but rainier

It's possible that there are hieroglyphics which depict burdock - did burdock grow in ancient Egypt? Certainly there's a certain amount of intuition involved in any translation, and I know I get more work of an intellectual nature done when it's raining.

(I never said it was good poetry...)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

no end in sight

I continue to marvel at the many breakdowns in bureaucracy associated with Katrina. (I also mourn the insistence that people who have lost everything must also abandon their pets.) I'd no idea that one of the levees had needed repairs for twenty years. Others are blogging better about this than I - Editor B has a link up to a vivid survivor story.

On a lighter note, like Mr. Spoon and TRP I've added comment verification. Nothing like landing three spammed comments in under an hour to make this a good idea. Drewster was also hit this weekend and muses that we need a verb to describe this condition.

Monday, September 05, 2005

here we go again

Spent most of the day writing. This is the fourth or fifth time I've had to write a new introduction, and if I didn't have copies of each earlier edition on hand, I'd not recognize the new ideas, let alone differentiate them from someone else's words.

I imagine (pure fantasy on my part) that writers of fiction do not have this problem. Oh, they have editors and I know that Jo Rowling cares deeply about her audience. No one is going to look at a novelist and tell them to reincorporate, reindex and otherwise reorganize and revamp the same twenty pages. I'm citing the same fellow scholars, leaving the same places open for the material I need from the (still not arrived) microfilm... hopefully I've cast matters in a new angle that will appease the powers that be.

#3 offered the very good suggestion of looking at other introductions, pulling paragraphs that really flow and work - or, as I put it, "the ones where you want to underline every word" - and use them as models. Unfortunately I have yet to find an introduction that I really enjoyed, that flowed and did a lot for me, that ran for more than three or four pages. Thus I suspect that what I have would not meet my reading and underlining standards, but will probably please said powers that be very much.

So (reasons my brain) the introduction is kind of serving as a reversal of the three Norns in Wagner's The Ring of the Niebulungs: it tells the whole story right over again from the beginning even before the beginning has actually happened.

Words Written Today: seven hundred and two
Words Written Saturday: six hundred and forty
Lessons Graded: one
Books on Floor: twenty-three

Friday, September 02, 2005

worn out

At the risk of sounding terribly self-centered, I'm bone-wearingly tired right now. Katrina's aftermath is horrific enough, from the damage to the looters. The war in Iraq (am I the only one bothered by the president being able to declare war, despite what the Constitution says to the contrary?) continues. Quite honestly, I don't think the administration or the congress know what to do about either, politics aside.

Now, though, we get the two tragedies combined, as the analysts worry about the over-extention of National Guard troops and the possibility of keeping troops in the South for many months. I cannot wrap my understanding around what will happen to the thousands of displaced people without a place to go and understand why the mayor of Dallas feels the same way.

I'm clinging to faith that God has all of this in hand.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

thought for the day

The latest predictions are that the New Orleans public schools may not reopen for an entire year.