Sunday, June 29, 2008

All packed

I am ready to leave. There are these awesome vacuum bags that suck all the air out of your luggage. My sweaters look freeze-dried. It rocks.

Watch this space for pictures of the reading room at the British Library. And bits of countryside seen out the window of trains. And possibly the view from the top of Arthur's Seat. (Which sounds far lewder than it is.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I don't think he understands

My cat and I clearly need to sit down and discuss the terms of his lease. I'm not being picky here -- we jump when he meows, we give him food, we pet him when he wakes us up at improbable hours, we scratch his ears whenever asked. We ask little in return: a few snuggles when he doesn't want them, some aesthetically pleasing sunbathing sometimes, and a bit of ad hoc vermin control. This is where the communication broke down, so I use this forum to say gently to him:


Last night, Leo whistled for him to come in (whatever you may say about him, you can't deny that in some ways he is a well-trained animal), and he came happily trotting up the steps and into the back room. It was only when he got in that Leo saw that he was carrying a mouse in his mouth -- a live one -- that he proceeded to drop and bat around. I'll admit that we're probably boring at night, and I can understand that he might want to bring a toy in, but we have a cat so that we DON'T have mice.

Leo came upstairs and explained the situation to me, and we agreed that mice that come in of their own free will looking for a handout deserve what they get, but mice that are dragged inside deserve rescuing. Leo rescued the mouse. All is well.

But Puck is in the doghouse.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Things to do

In the week before I leave for England, Scotland, etc (libraries, folks, not fun) I have to:

1. Write paper for conference at beginning of trip. Being heard by large people in field. No competing sessions. Eep!

2. Finish essay to send to LARGE SCARY JOURNAL with a habit of rejecting people.

3. Figure out what I'm wearing to things (including, but not limited to the conference). This involves checking weather, because though it's summer, I'm pretty sure England is not 100 degrees. Also shoes. Figure out how to take the fewest number of shoes that allow me to have appropriate shoes for all occasions and not be carrying a giant suitcase with me everywhere.

4. Get some English money so I can leave the airport without pawning some of my clothes. (Or, I suppose, carefully selected shoes).

5. Gather books. Both academic (which involves figuring out which papers I am planning on working on besides the giant book I'm transcribing) and amusing. For amusing books, need a combination of frothy yet not embarrassing.

6. Pack (see 3).

7. For 6, try to acquire voluminous luggage. Also for 5. Also figure out luggage weight limits and spread books about.

8. Print out ticket reservations.

9. Buy train tickets.

10. Figure out whether my cell phone wants to work there and how much it costs.

And probably a whole bunch more. If anyone can think of anything that I need to do that I haven't, please do remind me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I want to be a Luddite . . . but I can't

I went to the library this morning. I had emailed myself a list of books and articles that I needed to get. The moment I walked into the library, the internet went down, and I realized that you can't do anything in a library without internet. They've removed the card catalogue. I didn't have my list of books, and there was no way to get it back. There's a Frog and Toad story by Arnold Lobel that seemed strangely apropos.

So I've decided that I'm against technology, because it raises expectations and then just lets you down.*

* I realize that there's some irony in the manner of my complaint.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Impossible Question #7

I have been given a Herculean task -- I'm writing an essay on a 15th century Scottish poem written by a poet that may have been blind. Other than his name (Blind Hary) we don't really know much about him except that he occasionally got paid for something. I have to construct a paragraph that says "We don't know what books he may have had access to or known. We don't really know much about his education. But since a chunk of my argument hinges on him knowing some things about a series of saints, we're just going to assume that he knew their fairly obscure biographies in detail. And for two of the series who may each be one of two saints, we're just going to go with the one I picked, yeah?"

I can't see it.

But then, neither could he.

Unless that was just a nickname.

So I am going to hie me to the library tomorrow with an agenda: I'm not leaving until I have come to some conclusion about things, and framed it in brilliant prose.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


But I can't help it.

I have a student who is hearing impaired, and it's driving me completely crazy. I know that she's not trying to annoy me. I know that she is entitled to learn just like everyone else. I know that she can't help not being able to hear. I feel an immense amount of compassion for her. But . . .

Well really, my objection is that I have no training to deal with this situation (and it is a situation; she can't understand my normal speaking voice). But it puts me under an immense amount of pressure trying to balance her needs and the needs of the 16 other students.

Also to do with not hearing things and how I am a bad person, this amused me greatly. We could use it as a jumping off point for a discussion of censorship, but we could also just laugh hysterically.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Apocalypse soon?

Leo is sitting in the room with me, reading my blog. Shouldn't he know what I'm up to without having to read my blog? Is this evidence of the coming apocalypse? Should I call him to find out what he thinks about this? Or just wait until he comments on this post?