Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas creep

Enough said.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Generally, I decline to discuss politics with my friends. This is because I want to stay friends with them. Since I joined Facebook, however, I've been getting some insight into where some of them fall on the political spectrum, and it's been interesting. Especially as election day approaches, a lot of them have expressed their political views by posting videos, giving virtual campaign paraphernalia to other friends, updating their status with political messages, etc.

I have one friend who is "amazed" at Sarah Palin's intelligence and strength, while another wonders, "How can anyone take Sarah Palin seriously?" Two of my friends (who are not acquainted with each other) have joined a group called "Excuse me, but has anyone else noticed that Sarah Palin is insane?" I have at least one friend who has joined a group in favor of California's Proposition 8, and at least one friend who has joined a group opposing it. Some have sent each other virtual campaign buttons for McCain, others for Obama. A few have said they are afraid of what will happen if one candidate or the other gets elected president. One posted a video attacking Palin's feminist credentials; another posted a video questioning Obama's legal eligibility for the office of President of the United States. One writes that she voted for Obama, while another says simply, "I voted." My AP US History teacher from high school weighs in, giving a prediction on how the electoral college numbers will work out.

I'm glad my friends are passionate about politics, and I'd like to think that they'd be able to discuss the issues with their opponents in a reasonable way. But when it comes down to it, I'm not willing to put that assumption to the test. I'm not sure if that says more about me, or them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I am, in fact, working steadily at my thesis; I just don't feel like I'm making any progress. I've written and re-written the introduction five or six times, producing a total of probably fifteen pages of material, of which I've been able to keep five pages. It's a nice, tight, well-written five pages, but still - five pages. At this rate I should be finished just in time to attend Link's high school graduation.

And then last time I talked to Blackwood, I mentioned that some of the things Edgeworth has to say about sensationism reminded me of Wordsworth, and then Blackwood brought up Joanna Baillie, because she also says things that sound like Wordsworth, except Baillie says them earlier than Wordsworth ... and the next thing I knew, I was agreeing to read Baillie's fifty-page manifesto on drama and passions and morals. So I've spent the past couple of days reading up on current criticism of Joanna Baillie, and I'm now writing this post as a means of avoiding her actual essay. Baillie is interesting enough, I suppose, but I have a feeling that she will end up being, at most, one part of one paragraph in my thesis, and likely no more than a footnote. At this point in my career, three days worth of research feels like a lot for footnote.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

who knew?

Apparently the Shortpacked! character Faz majored in English. No, it doesn't say that on his character page. So how can I tell? Glad you asked.
Come on, who else talks like that?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I've had some insomnia lately. I always do when I'm pregnant. Antihistamines usually take care of it, and Dramamine has the added advantage of helping with the nausea. All of which is a roundabout way of explaining why I love Shakespeare. (Really.) I had occasion to look up the phrase "heavy is the head that wears the crown," and came upon this passage from Henry IV Part II:

How many thousand of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lull'd with sound of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
In loathsome beds, and leavest the kingly couch
A watch-case or a common 'larum-bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them
With deafening clamour in the slippery clouds,
That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?
Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude,
And in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

I love the imagery, especially the personification of sleep. When you're lying awake at 3:00 in the morning, it really does start to feel like sleep is a thing that you've somehow offended or frightened away. You try all kinds of tricks to lure it back, but nothing works. And of course, in my case, the part of the ship-boy is played by Glen, who takes about 0.68 seconds to fall asleep every night, and can easily sleep through the deafening clamour of a thunderstorm that would wake death itself.

Monday, September 22, 2008

under way

Having completely started over so many times that I've lost track, I feel a little sheepish announcing that I've started drafting (again). Hopefully this time I will actually finish drafting and move on to revising. As the project now stands, here's the general idea:

Maria Edgeworth is now more or less part of the Romantic-era canon, at least from a pedagogical standpoint. Her novels are taught in numerous undergrad courses because of her importance to various aspects of the development of the novel in English. Yet there are still pieces missing in the bigger picture of Edgeworth scholarship. The 1980s and 90s saw a surge of scholarly interest in the notion of sensibility and its importance in eighteenth-century British culture and literature, and several influential book-length studies and numerous articles were published on the subject. However, Edgeworth has, for the most part, been omitted from that discussion.

Edgeworth's attitude toward sensibility varied widely at different points in her career. In her non-fiction writing, she was skeptical of its importance and perhaps even its existence. This quote comes from Edgeworth's Practical Education, which she wrote with her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth:

On sympathy we cannot depend, either for the correctness of a man’s moral sentiments, or for the steadiness of his moral conduct. It is very common to talk of the excellence of a person’s heart, of the natural goodness of his disposition; when these expressions distinctly mean any thing, they must refer to natural sympathy, or a superior degree of sensibility. Experience, however, does not teach us, that sensibility and virtue have any certain connection with each other.

In her novels, on the other hand, the signs of sensibility are often the markers she uses to designate her characters as exemplary or superior or virtuous. Conversely, a character lacking in sensibility cannot be the hero or heroine of the story. As an example, here's a quote from her novel Helen, in which the narrator comments on a shallow and vicious character:

There are things which no man of real generosity could say or do, or think, put him in ever so great a passion. He would not be harsh to an inferior – a woman – a protégée on whom he had conferred obligations; but Mr Churchill was harsh – he showed neither generosity nor feeling; and Helen’s good opinion of him sank to rise no more.

Of this, however, he had not enough of the sympathy or penetration of feeling to be aware.

In spite of Edgeworth's assertions in her non-fiction works that education trumps every inclination of nature, it is in fact Mr. Churchill's nature that marks him as inferior. His behavior is merely an expression of that nature.

Why the discrepancy? Edgeworth's declared purpose in writing novels was didactic, so the facile explanation that the novel is simply fiction and does not reflect the author's views can reasonably be dismissed. It could be that she changed her mind over time - Practical Education was written before any of the novels I'm examining. However, I suspect that the answer is more complex. I think that part of Edgeworth's project was to reclaim sensibility from the realm of the sentimental, and return it to a more Shaftesburian notion of "moral sense" mediated by education or self-refinement.

I think I finally have an argument.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

we've had a change of plans, Data.

The English department has changed the requirements for the MA thesis, and I have languished in the program long enough to be the beneficiary of this change. Backstory: the requirements for an MA in English vary from university to university. Here are three random examples: the University of South Carolina requires an MA thesis of 50-80 pages; the University of Utah requires MA candidates to pass a six-hour comprehensive exam, but no thesis is required; and the University of Washington requires a "master's essay" for students continuing to the doctoral program, but students may substitute 10 additional credits of graduate seminars if the MA is their terminal degree. The thesis requirement in my program was previously in the neighborhood of 60-70 pages.

Recently, however, the department noticed that students were taking an awfully long time to finish the program, and that a lot of the thesis projects were longer than 70 pages. Theorizing that these two facts might have a causal relationship, and wanting to get people graduated faster, the department decided to change the thesis requirement to "an article-length essay prepared with a particular scholarly journal or other publication in mind." In other words, about 40 pages, and probably a maximum of 50.

Well. That sounds a lot easier than what I planned on doing before.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

a message from the ether

I got an email from my superego today. (Subject line: "Thesis superego checking in.") My understanding of Freudian psychology is superficial at best, but I'm pretty sure that's unusual. Anyway, he informed me that he had looked into his crystal ball and foreseen that I would defend my thesis this semester. We've set up a meeting for Friday so we can talk about the specifics of how we can make that happen.

So if my thesis advisor is my superego, what does that make the other members of my committee? Or is the committee as a whole the superego, with Blackwood in this case acting as its representative? Or is the committee in turn merely a microcosm of the larger superego that is the university, or the academy? Is the superego even supposed to have representatives? I probably should have paid better attention to that part of Theory of Lit, but honestly I just thought Freud was kind of a loon.

Whatever. What I really wish is that my subconscious would send me an email and tell me what the main argument of my thesis is.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


We spent a few days in Oregon over the weekend. We didn't have a particular reason for going; I just like it there. It was fabulous, as always.

We stayed in the Willamette* Valley, at my aunt's house, which was full of good food and lovely people. On Friday we drove out to Newport, on the coast, and spent the day at the ocean. Oregon State University has a marine science center there, complete with petting tank. Really. Here's me, petting a baby skate:

Peach wasn't so sure about the whole fish-petting idea. She petted the anemones, but declined touching the starfish - "It looks pokey." Everything else in the tank was moving, and she was not OK with that.

The aquarium gift shop had a poster on display which, in retrospect, I probably should have bought. How often do I find a poster with my actual name on it?

The kids loved the beach, and would fain have played in the ocean all day and all night.
But since the water temperature is around 38°, we made them come out after an hour or so.

The cousins I played with as a child now have children of their own, who are about the same ages as my children. Peach is still figuring out how extended family relationships work, and hasn't quite wrapped her head around the fact that her aunts and uncles are her parents' sisters and brothers. Under the circumstances, I didn't think it would be useful or efficient to try to explain how the various people she met were related to her, so I just told her the kids were her "cousins." Although it doesn't look like it in this picture, she is having quite a good time.

Link and Peach traveled surprisingly well, and we made the trip there and back without incident. (OK, there was one little incident. Words you never want to hear from the back seat of the rental car as you're heading up I-5 on your way to the airport: "I'm throwing up now.") Link is big enough now to carry his own clothes in his backpack and tote his booster seat as well. Peach's backpack wasn't big enough for all her clothes, so she carried a toy duck in it instead. Here we are buying tickets for the train in Portland:

It was a really nice trip. We had no internet access for five days, and we didn't even bring our computers with us. There was nothing I could do about my thesis, so I just didn't think about it. I read cheap detective novels and watched "Jeopardy" and ate as much as I wanted and never had to cook. I really didn't want to come back.

* It's pronounced will-AM-it, if you were wondering.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

OT (but I couldn't resist)

With college football season fast approaching, all sorts of media outlets are ramping up their coverage of the sport. [Query: why doesn't my spell check like the word "ramping"?] The various NCAA FBS leagues are currently holding "media days," wherein they make their coaches, and some players, available to the media for interviews and questions. All of this brings great joy to my heart, not only because I'm a fan of college football, but also because it leads to some truly fabulous quotes like the following ones, which I swear I am not making up:

- During Big 12 media days on Tuesday, Kansas State Coach Ron Prince had this to say about his starting quarterback, Josh Freeman: "The future is in front of him." Good place for it, if you ask me.

- Also during Big 12 media days, Colorado defensive tackle George Hypolite (go ahead, click the link to see his picture) explained to the media that the topic of his honors thesis is "the interrogation of African-American masculinity through a social constructionist, decolonial, feminist gaze." If you understood that, you are probably an English major, although he, astonishingly, is not. Bonus points if you figured out that his paper is about himself.

For the record, I found both quotes at The Quad, the NYT's college sports blog.

Friday, July 18, 2008

excellent headline of the day

In the college football section of the website, there is currently a headline which reads, "Player's Death Worsened by Stress."

I have questions. Did the stress somehow make him even deader? Or was the quality of the death experience worsened by the stress? Did the stress downgrade his death from merely tragic to horrible? I read the article, but it did not satisfactorily answer my questions.

Yes, I'm working on my thesis. Quit bugging me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

today is the first day of the rest of my thesis

Today I am officially out of excuses. I've finished grading the finals from my Comp section. I've added up all my students' grades. I don't have any more classes to take. I'm not teaching any classes during Summer term. There is absolutely nothing left for me to do but to write my &@#% thesis.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

and speaking of coincidence ...

The final exam for my section of Composition was scheduled for this morning, from 9-11 a.m. Accordingly I went and hung out in my classroom, and waited for my students to come and turn in their finals. Sometime around 10:30 or so, the power went out. Hm. Probably not a scheduled outage, being in the middle of Finals. I called Information and asked if they knew why the power was out in my building. They didn't, but they would be happy to connect me to Campus Security so I could ask them.

After a few seconds, the information person came back on the line to tell me that Security's line was busy. I thought I could guess why.

The computer in my classroom was down because of the power outage, but I had my laptop with me, so I went to the University's web page to see if I could find a phone number for Facilities Management in my building. Searching the website, I found a link to "Facilities Management." That looked promising. Clicking the link, however, brought me here:

Yikes. All your facilities management are belong to us? The funny thing is, the FM page hack was completely unrelated to the power outage. I later found out that somebody, presumably in the physical plant, basically flipped a switch somewhere that cut the power to the entire campus (query: why do they have a switch like that?), but it was just an accident.

The hacked page has since been replaced with an "account suspended" message. I'm not a big fan of hackers, generally speaking, but I will admit that in this particular case they made a final exam period incrementally more interesting for me.

I'm ... famous?

I don't read many webcomics. I like Shortpacked! and xkcd, although I don't always get the jokes. I read UserFriendly, although I don't know why; I get the jokes, but they're usually not that funny. I used to read Sluggy Freelance, but at some point I realized that it was no longer making me laugh, so I quit.

And then there's Dinosaur Comics, by Ryan North. The gag is that it's the exact same six panels, with the exact same six pictures, every day; only the dialog changes. It is perhaps a bit of an acquired taste, as it seems to get funnier the more I read it, and when I want to explain to someone else why a particular strip is funny, I often can't without giving them a lot of backstory. Sometimes a strip is funny enough on its own that I'll send it to a friend, but a lot of times I feel like the humor comes, at least in part, from the knowledge I have of the characters involved.

I don't know much about the guy who writes it, other than that he's Canadian and taller than average, but some of the comics hinge on somewhat esoteric concepts, especially involving science and technology, or linguistics and literature. This has always seemed like an odd combination to me - most people I know tend to specialize in either hard sciences or social sciences, but not both. The really funny thing, though, is that there have been several times that the comic has been about something having to do with linguistics or literature that has recently come up in one of my classes or my research. It doesn't happen often, but it has happened enough times for me to remark on it to Glen.

Eventually the coincidences between Dinosaur Comics and my life became kind of a running joke between Glen and me. I speculated that Ryan was perhaps my alter-ego, or that I was perhaps his evil twin. Glen, of course, pointed out that I was neither Canadian, nor taller than average, nor male. I responded that either Ryan or I might be in disguise, and further noted that, like Clark Kent and Superman, no one had ever seen Ryan and me in the same place at the same time. Glen was still skeptical, so recently, I proposed an experiment to settle the question.

I'd been thinking about René Wellek lately, mostly because I don't know much about him. With most literary critics, I can at least associate a word or phrase with them that says something about them: Bakhtin - carnivalesque; Said - postcolonial; Greenblatt - New Historicism; and so on. I'm aware that that's a very limited description of their work; all I'm saying is that at least I have something conceptual to hang on the mental pegs that are labeled with their names. But for Wellek ... not so much. And so I'd been thinking that I ought to get around to looking him up and seeing what he's about. Since there was NO WAY that Ryan North should be thinking about René Wellek unless he is actually me - or I'm him, or whatever - I jokingly said to Glen that if Ryan mentioned René Wellek in his comic in the next couple of weeks, we could take that as definitive proof.

Behold the Dinosaur Comics for June 18th, 2008 (click on the image for a larger version):

When I was finished hyperventilating, I called Glen and asked if he remembered the Dinosaur Comics experiment. He did. I asked if he'd seen the comic today. He hadn't. He went and looked at it. And then he laughed, and fessed up that he had emailed Ryan North, told him the story, and asked him if he would help Glen prank me by name-dropping René Wellek in one of the strips. Ryan obliged.

Some women are impressed by material things, like flashy cars or expensive jewelry. Some women are impressed by men who exhibit extraordinary physical prowess. Some women like to get flowers or candy from their significant others. I've never really been excited about any of that stuff. But this ... wow. I'm really touched.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"honey roasted"

Behold Blue Diamond's "honey roasted" almonds:

I suspect that "honey roasted" is actually some kind of code for "lightly dusted with crack cocaine," because I cannot stop eating these things.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

editor needed, indeed

Occasionally someone who wants cheap editing or tutoring labor will contact the English Department and ask them to pass along a job posting to the grad students. We got such an email today. I have no interest in this particular job; the most striking thing about it, to me, was that it was written by someone who is so obviously in need of the services they are requesting. It was like a subtle plea for help encoded within the text of the job description, which I have copied and pasted directly from the email:

Are you interested in editing and helping with a series of books? The first book is done, but needs to be edited and possibly have a second set of eyes on the book to try to improve it.

You would be paid for it and given some credit. It is a interesting 7 volume set called "[book title]" about adventures of country boys in Northern California.

If you are interested contact:

[redacted] W. [redacted] Esq.

[redacted] & Associates

Attorney's at Law

Yes, "attorney's." I don't think Mr. Redacted could have crafted a more striking advertisement if he had hired a PR firm. Nothing attracts the attention of English majors like a misplaced apostrophe.

... I'll let you find the other glaring error on your own. :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

was that it, then?

The deadline to apply for August graduation was last Friday. Yeah, that didn't happen. I sort of went back and forth talking to Blackwood and Descartes for a couple of weeks, and in the meantime I didn't get anything written.

The problem is that when I talked to Descartes, he insisted that my argument was completely passé, and would be even more so in another five years when I want to apply for a PhD and use my thesis as a writing sample. In addition to being very smart, Descartes is, in his field, kind of like that kid in your high school who was always wearing the hot new trendy thing a couple of months before everyone else. This means that if anyone in my department is likely to know what's hot in Romanticism, it's René. On the other hand, he also tends to think stuff is no longer current long before everyone else is finished talking about it. The phrase "so five minutes ago" is, in his lexicon, not hyperbolic.

Blackwood and Descartes are good friends outside of work, and both are very professional, but they are very different kinds of scholars. And Blackwood is, after all, my chair. So I went back and talked to Blackwood again. "Descartes says my argument is completely irrelevant, because no one is having that conversation any more." Blackwood responded bluntly, "He's wrong." Maybe I should just have the two of them meet with each other, and get back to me when they get it figured out.

Anyway, Blackwood reassured me that I did not need to rethink my whole argument; rather, I need to keep drafting, and make changes if necessary as I go along. If Blackwood suspects that I've been using this situation as an excuse to avoid drafting another chapter, he's right. If he further suspects that I'm avoiding drafting because the task seems to large, and I'm afraid of failure ... no, he'd have to be psychic to have figured that out.

One thing that came out of my conversation with Descartes, however, was a realization that I really do need to be more aware of what current scholars are saying about my topic. I've looked for recent journal articles about Edgeworth and Sensibility - there aren't any. I've looked for books about Edgeworth and Sensibility - nope. What I haven't done, however, is look through current Romanticism journals to see what kinds of things scholars are saying in general about Edgeworth, and Sensibility, and the novels I'm writing about. Rookie mistake. Blackwood gave me a list of journals to look at, and strongly suggested that I might want to give him another chapter in the next week.

At this point we both know I'm not graduating in August, but we also both know that there's no reason to drag this out into next Fall semester. Having missed the August deadline, I won't be able to graduate until December, but neither of us wants to be repeating this conversation in October, so he's approaching it from the perspective of "there's really not a deadline in August, but let's pretend there is." OK. Let's pretend.

Monday, May 05, 2008

good news/bad news

After several revisions, my outline - yes, just the outline - is good enough to circulate. I suppose I should count this as a victory of sorts. Blackwood says, "This is really good ... ready to circulate immediately." So I sent it off to Descartes and Victoria.

Descartes responds that he has "no doubt" that my thesis "will be plenty smart." (Notice the future tense there.) That's the good news. The bad news is that on the other hand, he thinks pretty much everything I've said in my outline is slightly wrong. He questions the idea that scholars are still reluctant to accept novels as Romantic - "Is anyone really making that argument in earnest these days?" He thinks that my topic "is actually really well-timed," but he's concerned that I may have "misread the nature of the moment in which it's appearing."

Daunted would be an apt description of how I feel. Also really dumb, because I accidentally put "Scottish Renaissance" in my outline instead of "Scottish Enlightenment." When he pointed that out in his email, I couldn't help but notice that he used the exact same phrasing that I used when I commented on a student's Final that he probably meant the "Early Modern" period, rather than the "Modern" period, when he was writing about Queen Elizabeth I.

I passed Descartes' comments on to Blackwood, and he was fairly nonchalant about the whole thing. I don't really understand why. If Descartes' assessment of Romantic studies is correct, then I have a lot of information, but no argument. I see that as a problem.

Can't wait to see what Victoria has to say.

Friday, May 02, 2008

things I did not know

Allow me to recreate for you a portion of the conversation that occurred last night during dinner at our house:

Me: It's just so frustrating. Why is it that I can never remember the year of the Act of Union, but I still remember the birthdate of the kid I had a crush on in the third grade?

Link: You had a crush on someone in the third grade?

Me: Well, yeah, when I was in the third grade.

Link: I had a crush on Megan, but her mom said we had to break up.

Me: ...

Yeah, that's the first I'd heard of it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

why I love my university library ... and yours

The library at my university is large. Published statistics say it has 665,000 square feet of floor space, covered with 98 miles of shelving, holding more than 6 million items including books, periodicals, and other resources. Better yet, it's part of the interlibrary loan program, so if it doesn't have an item that I need, the library will borrow it from some other university and have it shipped here so I can use it. So not only do I have millions of books on hand that I can use, I basically have access to all the other university libraries that are part of the ILiad program as well. Which is how I came to be in possession of a book from the University of Oklahoma library. The book has a chapter about sensibility and Maria Edgeworth's Belinda, and wasn't among the 6 million items available locally. Thanks, OU! I've never been a big fan of your football team, but I'm now a big fan of your library.

Friday, April 18, 2008

happy happy

This, as nearly as I can recall, is the substance of a conversation I had with Glen this evening, around 6:30.

Me: Hey ... what's the date today?
Glen: The 18th.
Me: Are you sure?
Glen: [checking his watch] Yup. Today is Friday the 18th.
Me: Oh. Oops.
Glen: Why oops?
Me: The date "April 18th" doesn't ring any bells for you?
Glen: No, why?
Me: ...
Glen: Oh.
Me: Happy Anniversary, honey.

When we got married, Glen was working on his master's thesis (in Computer Science) and had already finished his coursework, and I was working full time, not going to school at all. We thought we'd be clever and get married during Finals, so there wouldn't be a gazillion students getting married at the same time.

Ten years later, I'm working on my master's thesis, and now our Anniversary falls in the middle of Finals week every time. Clever. This year, to celebrate my anniversary, I'll be grading exams and doing research for my thesis.

I still think marrying Glen was the smartest thing I ever did.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

one down

Among the many benefits of working for Sister Mary Clarence (fun! adventure! bullet points on my resumé!) is the added bonus of having permission to use her office on campus. In addition to being quiet, comfortable, and relatively close to the library, her office has a lousy wireless connection, which is very helpful when I'm trying not to get distracted. So I went up on campus tonight to work on my draft.

By 11:30 or so, I felt like I had enough of a chapter to send it off to Blackwood. He's expecting it tomorrow morning. I haven't been this nervous about turning in a paper since ... well, probably the last time I took a class from Descartes, so maybe a year. Whatever. I'm very nervous. Which is putting a serious damper on the excitement I should feel at having written an actual chapter of my actual thesis, regardless of how rough a draft it is.

Monday, April 14, 2008

what we learned this semester

Today was the last day of class for the Brit Lit section I TA'd for this semester. We've given reading quizzes randomly during the semester to encourage the students to do the reading and be in class, and today we gave one final quiz: list five things that you didn't know about British literature when you started the class. Herewith, some of my favorite answers.

  • ... that Chaucer is dirty-minded and that Beowulf is so long and never should have been turned into a movie.
  • Old English is, like, impossible to read.
  • That a lot of great writers had a second job spying on people.
  • How freaking awesome the Celts were.
  • That because I'm redheaded I'm related to Jesus. [Yes, he's kidding.]
  • Henry the VIII had a difficult time with his 5 [sic] wives.
  • Not everything I saw in the Beowulf movie is factual.
  • I learned about the Popish Plot, and also that I like how that sounds.
  • Daniel Defoe was a political genius of a writer. I think I have a new hero.
  • John Donne wrote poems that weren't about sex.
  • I didn't know about the two forms of satire, horatian and juvenile. [sic]
  • I learned a lot about the [assigned] readings and their significance in literature.
  • I learned that there was a lot of amoral literature before the 1960s.
  • Shakespeare had contemporaries.
  • I learned that life is pretty good now compared to England in times such as 1665-66 or the bubonic plague, or the Hundred Years' War, or the time after the Romans when they kept getting invaded, or the Wars of the Roses, or when it was deadly to be a Catholic, then a Protestant, then a Catholic again.
And there were a few that made me feel good:
  • ... a new found love for Milton's Paradise Lost.
  • I learned about Milton! Surprising, but I never actually learned anything about him in the past. I am going to take a class about Paradise Lost and Hamlet in the fall.
  • Sensibility refers to affectation of emotion, delicacy, etc. from the 18th century. Now Sense and Sensibility makes sense!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

peu a peu

Yeah, I don't know how to produce diacritical marks in html. Anyway, I did some editing, and managed to grind out another page while Peach was napping this afternoon.

cautiously optimistic

I talked to Blackwood on Friday. Of course Thursday's meeting was on my mind, but I wasn't really sure how accurate the grad secretary's representations were. It's her job to scare us, and she's good at it, and I understand her reasons for doing so, but she presumably is not aware of the status of our individual projects, so what she said may or may not apply to all of us. Blackwood was not encouraging. His first question for me was, "How important is it for you to graduate in August?"

Here's the thing: is it important for me to graduate in August the way it's important for someone who's committed to a PhD program that starts in September, or who's gotten a job offer contingent on their receiving their degree, or who simply can't afford any more time in school? No. In theory, I could take the full five years if I wanted to. But in a way, that's why I haven't gotten it done. There's not outside pressure, no deadline beyond the departmental five-year limit, which I am not yet approaching. If I give up on August graduation, it will certainly remove the pressure I feel. But knowing that I have until December to get it done, I will inevitably put it off again, and find myself in the same position when the next set of deadlines come up. For now, I have to act as if I'm going to graduate in August, because if I don't have those deadlines to contend with, I'm never going to get this done.

On the other hand, I don't want to put pressure on my committee; it's not their fault that I'm so close to the deadline. Not that they would pass me if I didn't deserve it, but I don't want to unduly burden them with a lot of drafts and revisions in a short amount of time.

Ultimately, Blackwood agreed to wait and see what I come up with in the next two or three weeks. He's obviously concerned that he hasn't seen any of my draft yet, but he's still open to the possibility that the first draft will be good enough that I would be able to make revisions in time to meet the defense deadline. He thinks it will be obvious within the first ten days of May whether it's going to happen or not; I'm still holding out for a later decision. So, assuming that the 23rd is my deadline, here's today's score:

Friday, April 11, 2008

unless it isn't

There was a mandatory meeting today for everyone in the English MA program who is planning to graduate in August. The meeting was apparently held for the purpose of convincing us that we will NOT be graduating in August, because we are probably not ready, and won't be able to meet the department deadlines, and we shouldn't even THINK about asking for an exception, because the department DOES NOT CARE. Really, the message that I took away from the meeting was that we should all consider, very seriously, just putting it off for another semester. The graduate secretary even went so far as to estimate that of the 27 students who told her that they intend to graduate in August, only 12 of us actually will. Thanks! She did not indicate whether she already knew who the twelve would be, or if that was just a guess based on past averages.

The first deadline that looms in our path is coming up on May 23rd - that's the day we have to apply for graduation. That's 42 days from now. I haven't talked to Blackwood since the meeting, but I'm thinking that I should have a pretty good idea by then whether I'll be able to meet the rest of the deadlines or not.

In other news, I'll be teaching Boswell tomorrow ... I guess it's technically "today" at this point ... Friday the 11th. Sister Mary Clarence had hinted that she might go out of town this weekend, so I asked her on Wednesday if she would be here on Friday. She said she would. Then at about 4:30 Thursday afternoon, she called me up and said she wouldn't be here Friday, and would I go ahead and stand in for her. Well, yes, I had told her I would do it if she needed me to ... but then she told me she didn't need me to, so I didn't prepare. Silly me.

Don't get me wrong, I love to teach, and I really REALLY love teaching literature instead of writing and rhetoric for a change, but I kind of told Blackwood I'd have something for him to read tomorrow, and it's only halfway done. I tried working on it some more after my lesson plan was done, but my brain had already clocked out.

So, for those of you playing along at home, here's the score:

days till application deadline: 42
number of pages written: 8

I need to get a nifty graphic or something so I can post my score at the top of the blog every day. But I need to do that some other time. Right now I need to sleep.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

it's fate

I must be going to graduate this year. What else could this mean?

See? It's fate. And it probably doesn't hurt that I've started my draft. It's a wee little thing, just seven pages so far. But that's seven more pages than I had last week.

Friday, April 04, 2008

three questions

Sister Mary Clarence asked if I would teach today, as she had a friend in town from England and wanted take the day off to be with her friend. I had about two days' notice, which seemed like enough time to prepare. Ha. The students had some really, uh, "fun" questions today. For the record, our topics today were eighteenth-century British monarchs, the Enlightenment, and Hogarth's "A Rake's Progress."

One student wanted to know whether Church of England doctrine taught that the monarchs of Britain were descended from King Arthur. Um ... I don't really know for sure one way or the other, but I'd say probably not. This isn't as wacky as it sounds; we've previously discussed the ways that various monarchs and other figures used the Arthur myth to their political advantage, including Henry VIII.

Another student wanted to know if Charles II and James II were Catholic (or, in Charles' case, Catholic-ish around the edges) because of the time they spent in France. Well. That sounds reasonable, but I don't really know. I had focused more on the political ramifications of the Stuart boys' religion, rather than the origins of their religious leanings. I looked it up when I got home; it turns out their Mum was Catholic. Should I have known that off the top of my head? Maybe. Why couldn't they have asked about the Hanovers? I could go on about George IV all day.

When we got around to looking at Hogarth's engravings, a student wanted to know how big the originals were. I was at a complete loss. Honestly, I don't think that's something that I could have been expected to know. Anyway, I looked that up when I got home as well. (Answer: about 12.5 X 15 inches.)

I have no respect for a teacher who can't admit that she doesn't know the answer to a student's question, and I'm obviously not going to make stuff up, but it's still embarrassing to have to say "I just don't know."

porn for English majors

I ordered something from Labyrinth Books a while ago. At this point I don't even remember what I bought from them, but ever since then, they've been periodically sending me sale catalogs in the mail. Usually I hate getting junk mail, but I love the Labyrinth catalogs. When one showed up in my mailbox a few days ago, I flipped to the Literature section, and lo, they have a bunch of Cambridge Companions on sale - Chaucer, Milton, Crime Fiction, Shelley ... $14 to $17 each. I can't afford to buy them all. Maybe I'll just get one.

Or two. They're on sale, I should get two. *sigh* Here, look at the description of The Cambridge Companion to Chaucer:

"In this revised edition, new chapters cover the literary inheritance traceable in Chaucer's works to French and Italian sources, his style, as well as new approaches to his work. Other topics covered include the social and literary scene in England in Chaucer's time, and comedy, pathos and romance in the Canterbury Tales. 334 pgs."

Sexy, no? There's also a literary biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins ... it's pretty old (1992) but on sale for only $9.98, down from the original price of $45. Maybe I'll just get that, and one of the Cambridge Companions.

Books are such an expensive habit.

Friday, March 21, 2008

this is getting ridiculous

I just got rickrolled by Sports Illustrated. Twice.

I did NOT get rickrolled by In fact, Glen installed a firefox extension on my laptop so that no matter what youtube link I clicked on, it would always show me Rick Astley. He is in SO much trouble.

Obviously I meant that Glen is in trouble, not that Rick Astley is in trouble. While I feel that Astley must take some responsibility for perpetrating his particular flavor of 80s pop music on the world at large, I'd like to think that rickrolling was not his idea.

Commenter elricky was kind enough to post a link to some audio clips of an LAT interview with Astley himself, but the link is too long for the whole thing to appear in the comments. Here's the link. Yeah, I could have linked to this, but I thought it would be too obvious.

ain't no party like a geeky corporate party

We had free tickets to see Collective Soul last Wednesday at an arena about an hour from our house. I've been to rock concerts before, but this one was different. It was held as part of a tech conference, so I wasn't expecting masses of unkempt teenage children to show up, but it was still ... yeah, different is a good word.

I made Glen change out of his geek clothes before we went, because, you know, rock concert. I needn't have troubled him. As we drove past the venue, looking for a place to park, I could see the conference participants approaching in full geek regalia. White tennis shoes abounded, and everyone's shirt was carefully tucked into his high-wasted jeans or khaki pants. I say "his" because as far as I could tell, there were only about six other women in the whole crowd.

The first odd thing about the show itself was that security was a bit less enthusiastic than I'm used to. Tons of people got cameras into the venue, as we discovered when the concert started. These weren't wimpy little cell phone cameras, either - they were full-on recent-model Nikons with video capability. Someone posted some hi-res photos to a Flickr stream, so the pix are courtesy of, um ... someone named a4gpa.

Anyway, we went inside the venue, and that's when I realized that I really wasn't in Kansas anymore. Normally I would expect to pay $3 for a plastic cup full of tap water at a concert, and if I wanted something to eat I would probably just wait until I got home rather than get scalped by the vendors. Here, we were greeted by buffet tables full of free food and beverages. It was standard conference fare, nothing special, but - free. There were video games and even a slot machine on the concourse.

When they opened the doors to the arena, everyone filed in and down the stairs in a completely orderly, unhurried manner, even though it was general admission. This was a nice change, but I was beginning to feel that my fellow concert-goers weren't really entering into the spirit of the thing. Our all-access passes got us onto the floor, where we found ourselves in the ninth row (I counted). This is undoubtedly the closest I will ever be to the stage at a concert, because even if I could afford floor seats, they all get bought up online by scalpers in the first twenty seconds that the tickets are on sale anyway, so I was pretty excited.

The opening act was a stand-up comic, which was unusual, but not necessarily bad, I guess. By that time they had let in some extra people - Collective Soul fans, presumably - who weren't conference attendees. There are about 20,000 seats in the arena, and it was probably two-thirds full. Anyway, the comedian did his bit, and then the band was announced by some sort of uber-geek who appeared to be in charge of the conference. We could hear rock-concert-appropriate screaming from the back of the arena, but most of the geeks just clapped enthusiastically. As the show got started, there was a surreal moment when I looked around at the audience and realized that I was in the ninth row, on the floor, at a rock concert, and I was the only one dancing. There was even a wee little mosh pit in front of the stage, but no one was moshing. A couple of heads bobbed up and down here and there, and that was about it. Behold the participants in the wee "mosh" pit:

Collective Soul were very cool, and they played a good show. They were professional and comfortable onstage, which I love, and they put a lot of energy into the performance.

They sounded good live. Not studio-perfect, but that's not what live concerts are for anyway. There were some scorching guitar solos, and at one point Ed Roland played the iconic guitar riff from AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" during the bridge in "Hollywood." Even the geeks got excited about that.

CS's set was only about an hour plus a one-song encore, but some of the geeks still left early. I'm not sure if it was past their bedtime, or if they just couldn't live one more minute without their wireless connection, or if - heaven forbid - they just weren't that excited about the show. Toward the end, more non-conference people started to filter down to the floor and fill up the aisles, which was nice, because I was no longer the only one jumping up and down and screaming.

After the encore the lights came up, and everyone filed out. I heard someone remark that the show had been really loud, which made me smile. It was one of the least-amplified shows I'd ever seen - my ears were barely ringing when I walked out. The security guys thought it was funny too.

I love geeks. I love their geeky clothes, their geeky jokes, and all their geeky ways. Yes, I'm mocking them, but it's Horatian mocking, not Juvenalian.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

anomaly in the student-teacher continuum

While I was in England, I graded the first written assignment from the Early Brit class. There was a predictable mixture of good, bad, mediocre, and even a few excellent assignments. The worst assignment of the lot was truly pathetic - instead of the required 4-6 pages, this one was barely 2 pages long; and instead of a book report, for which the student possessed detailed written instructions, she had written a book review. The student received a Very Bad Grade.

After I had handed all the assignments back, I got an email from the student with the Very Bad Grade. When I saw the sender's name and the subject line, I mentally prepared myself for something unpleasant. I've had emails from students with Very Bad Grades before, and even from students whose grades were not so bad, but still not what they wanted/needed/thought they deserved. Somehow, according to the students, it's always my fault that their grades are unsatisfactory. Such emails have never resulted in the sender receiving a revised, more satisfactory grade from me. Ultimately, the only results are that it probably makes the student feel better, and it usually makes me feel worse in some way. It's not as though I like giving them bad grades.

At any rate, this particular email was short and to the point: she thought the grade she had received was completely fair; she apologized for the poor quality (and quantity) of her work; she had had some personal problems at the time when she was working on the assignment and hadn't given it the effort it required; she would definitely do better next time.

Well. That's a first.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

more lols

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I only went on two excursions this time, but they were both wonderful, albeit in very different ways. The first was to Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts house. I don't think I have ever been in a place that gave me so much aesthetic pleasure. Everything about it was so simply yet perfectly designed, from the interior ornamentation to the placement of the trees on the grounds. The online tour really doesn't give an adequate idea of how truly attractive this house is. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the house for "copyright reasons." I have no idea what this means. Is the house somehow copyrighted? The designer is long since dead, so what exactly is under copyright, and who holds said copyright? I was irritated by this. In fact, I was tempted to take a couple of pictures anyway, but there were always so many people about that I didn't think I could do it without getting caught.

The other excursion I went on was "Molly's Mystery Tour," which apparently is a tradition at the Winter School. Here's how it works: everyone piles into a van, which Richard drives. Molly sits in the front seat, and tells Richard where to go. Everyone else hangs on for dear life. No one, including Richard, knows where the Tour is going to go until it gets there. This time it went up and down the fells, down various sketchy-looking lanes, and through several closed gates (which someone had to get out and open). Some of the terrain was very steep, very unpaved, and very lacking in guardrails. At one point, I remarked to the woman in the seat next to me that I supposed we were all going to die. I was sitting at the very back of the van, so I couldn't hear most of Molly's commentary, but she said something about "this is the route that Hartley Coleridge walked when he [something I didn't catch]."

Along the way, we stopped at St. John's in the Vale,

Castlerigg stone circle,

and a pub (not pictured). It was blowing a gale at Castlerigg, with lots of mist and rain on the fells - very Romantic.

When we finally came out somewhere in a village with paved roads, I looked back at the road we had just been on, and saw a sign next to it that proclaimed "unsuitable for motor vehicles."

the Winter School

The Winter School at Grasmere is very different from the Summer Conference. Several notable scholars spoke, but most of the attendees were older hobbyists. There were a couple of times when I found myself in the very odd position of being both the youngest and, apparently, the most educated person in the room. I'm not saying that to brag; Wordsworth is not my specialty, and I make no claim to be a Wordsworth scholar. But many of the other people there were, for lack of a better word, fanbois/fangirls. They neither knew nor cared about other poets or authors from the time period (although some of them admitted Coleridge to the discussion by virtue of his relationship with WW); they had come to bask in the glory of all things Wordsworth, and anything else they deemed superfluous at best.

The lectures were mostly aimed at a less scholarly audience, which made it easier to relax and enjoy them. Seamus Perry's lecture on Coleridge and women was a personal favorite, and may even end up helping me with my thesis research. Nick Roe's lecture comparing the Lucy poems to the work of modern poets like Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon was, I think, intentionally provocative. Some of the hobbyists seemed ... offended might be too strong, but certainly a little shocked.

there and back again

By the time I left England last summer, I had already decided that I wanted to go back to Grasmere this February. I knew I wouldn't be able to go to the next summer conference, but I wanted desperately to go back for something, which left the Winter School. It's shorter, and therefore slightly less expensive, and that seemed to me to be justification enough.

The trip over was much less bewildering this time. My flight into DFW was delayed a bit, which meant I had to hurry to catch my connecting flight to Gatwick, but that was as close as I came to having any kind of trouble. My luggage didn't even get lost.

I had a few hours to kill in London, so of course I went to the British Library again. Gawain and Chaucer were no longer on display, but they'd been replaced by the Beowulf manuscript (squee!). It was open to the part where Beowulf brings Grendel's head back to Heorot. I did notice a sign this time that said "no pictures," so ... no pictures. Sorry, Heidi. The Lindisfarne Gospels were also on display, open to one of the fabulous carpet pages.

Other stuff I was excited about: John Milton's "commonplace book," open to a page where he had made some notes about good and bad monarchies; one of Jane Austen's notebooks, with a dedication to her sister Cassandra; a manuscript copy of Jane Eyre, open to the page that says, "Reader - I married him"; a manuscript copy of Handel's Messiah, open to the Hallelujah Chorus; Lady Jane Grey's prayer book; manuscript copies of lyrics for the Beatles' "Yesterday" and "In My Life." It's overwhelming to walk through the exhibit and see so much history, literary and otherwise, in one place. You know you're not in Kansas any more when there's a whole section of the exhibit just for "Historical Documents: Tudors."

Old time is still a-flying

Is it March already? Huh. Well, here's what's happened in the past month: I got a haircut. I went to England again, and made some new friends. I came home, and got a kidney infection. I wrote an outline for my thesis. I got a really anomalous email from a student. I went to the dentist. I taught Dryden in the Early Brit class.

I'll write separate posts for some of those things, shall I?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

worst phish evar

I got a phish at my hotmail account. This in itself is not unusual. What's unusual about this one is that it has to be the worst phishing letter I've ever seen. When I get a 419 letter, I expect the grammar and so on to be a little off, because the sender is Nigerian, or at least pretending to be Nigerian. But this is just lazy:

Dear Bank of Lancaster County client,

You have received this email because you or someone had used your account from different locations.

For security purpose, we are required to open an investigation into this matter.

In order to safeguard your account, we require that you confirm your banking details.

The help speeed up to this process, please access the following link so we ca complete the verification

of your Bank of Lancaster County Online Banking Account registration information.

[link redacted]

If we do no receive the appropriate account verification within 48 hours, then we will assume this Bank of Lancaster County

account is fraudulent and will be suspended.

The purpose of this verification is to ensure that your bank account has not been fraudulently used and to combat the fraud

from our community. We appreciate your support and understanding and thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

© Copyright 2007 Bank of Lancaster County is an affiliate of Sterling Financial Corporation.

The link didn't even work. Amateurs.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

trust me, I know what I'm doing

When I took the TA job, I was told that I could do as much teaching as I felt comfortable with. The course covers all of British literature until 1800, and while the professor is a medievalist, my area of expertise is more toward the 1800 end of things. So we agreed that I would teach more later in the semester. This idea doesn't bother me; I like teaching, and I feel fairly confident with 18th century material. I do not, however, feel confident about teaching Chaucer ... which is what I ended up doing last Friday.

The faculty member who teaches the class, whom I'll call "Sister Mary Clarence," called me on Thursday to let me know that the heater in her house had died earlier in the week, and the repairman had given her a window of "sometime on Friday" during which he would appear and fix it. Considering that the temperature here has been in the twenties and thirties lately, that seemed to me like something worth staying home for. So of course I said, "Yeah, no problem, I'm all over that," followed by, "Um, what would you like them to know at the end of the class period?" She gave a few suggestions.

I spent many hours in feverish preparation, and still arrived in class feeling less than confident. The students didn't seem to know the difference. Adhering carefully to my notes, I rattled off some historical data about Chaucer, the Plantagenets, and the Canterbury Tales, and they all wrote it down as diligently as if it had been the Word of God, and not something I'd read in the same Longman anthology they'd all brought to class. It was very flattering.

At first I wanted to laugh at how seriously they were taking me, because in my mind, I was bluffing - it's not like I've never heard of Chaucer, but I wasn't telling them anything they couldn't have found out on their own with a couple of hours of research. Then I started to wonder about my own professors. In graduate school, the classes I've taken have been very specialized, and the professors have been teaching things that they specialize in. But as an undergrad ... I took Early British Literature, for example, from a Renaissance specialist. I am not suggesting that she was "bluffing" to the same extent that I was. It was an excellent class, and she was very knowledgeable. But the Medieval material was taught very differently, and perhaps less in-depth, from the way SMC teaches it. And my professor taught very little about novels, which came into prominence during the 18th century, and are a significant enough genre in English to deserve more attention, IMHO. Do professors ever walk into class and feel like they're bluffing? Surely not.

Friday, February 01, 2008

seven things

I've been "tagged" by Amy. I do not have seven other people to tag, but I am willing to play along with Amy's invitation to share seven random things about myself.

1. I used to be afraid of waiters. I got over it by going out to eat a lot.

2. I'm still afraid of spiders, formal occasions, and most dogs.

3. I like 80s hair metal - Guns 'n' Roses, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, etc.

4. I hardly ever wear makeup - maybe twice a year. It's not a matter of principle or anything like that; it's just that I'm not good at putting it on, so it takes a ridiculous amount of time, and somehow I never seem to have that much time to spare.

5. I need a haircut.

6. As a teenager, I decided that 26 would be a good age for me to get married. I was, in fact, 26 years old when I got married.

7. I never finished kindergarten.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

into the breach

It turns out that the fort had some structural irregularities. By the time Peach went down for her nap today, the short wall had leaned over so far that it was beyond repair, while the longer wall was also listing dangerously in the middle. I cannibalized the short wall to buttress the longer wall:

and then built a square tower where the short wall used to be.

At that point, Link was forced to concede (when pressed) that I am the coolest Mom on the block. I plan to treasure the memory of that statement when he is a surly teenager who is embarrassed to be seen in public with me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

snow day

It snowed today. On any other Monday, I would have sighed deeply and gone out to shovel the drive. Or not. Today, however, was a holiday, and I had nothing on my schedule. So I did what I suppose any right-thinking person would do on such an occasion: I built a fort in my driveway.

I wanted to make it bigger, but I got tired. Maybe tomorrow I'll put some crenels on it or something.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

new semester, new job, new baby ... some embarrassment

I had signed up to teach Composition again this semester, but was allowed to bail out after I got a job as a TA. I'm working with a professor I like, and she's offered to let me teach as much as I want (in addition to the grading for which I'm getting paid). The class is a survey of early British literature, up to 1800, and I'm really looking forward to it. Rhetoric is not and never will be either my specialty or my favorite thing, whereas I really dig Early Brit. Yay!

In other news, we have a new baby. His eyes are the same color as Link's (bright blue). He is very sweet and loves to cuddle, but like most babies he doesn't really understand that night-time is for sleeping. Last night I awoke at 2:43 a.m. to find him doing the Charleston on my spine.

Here he is sleeping:

And here he is not sleeping:

We're thinking of calling him Skippyjon. Really.

So, the embarrassment: I had a meeting with Blackwood today. It was one of those "New semester, haven't talked in a while, let's see where we are and where we're going" meetings, so the reason for my embarrassment is obvious: I'm not where I should be. I really had planned to work on my thesis last semester, but ... OK, maybe "planned" is too strong. I had intended to work on my thesis last semester. And then, just like Blackwood said would happen, I let teaching get in the way. My extremely plausible excuse is that I was used to teaching on a M-W-F 50-minute class schedule, and then last semester I had to adjust everything to a T-Th 75-minute class schedule. I think what really happened is that I intended to work on my thesis, but I didn't plan sufficiently for it to happen.

Anyway, I sat down in Blackwood's office, and after a few pleasantries, he said, "So where are we?" And I had to tell him that I still hadn't even decided which novels I was going to use.

I knew exactly what he was thinking. It's the same thing I always think when a student brings me a one-page draft for what is supposed to be an eight-page term paper. At that point, I know the student is probably not going to do very well on the paper, because she's way behind schedule, and her "finished" draft is probably going to be more like a first draft that I haven't had a chance to comment on. When that happens, I inevitably think, "Recriminations are useless; let me do what I can for this poor creature - which is not much." Yeah, it's embarrassing to be on the other end of that.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Warning: this will make no sense unless you're familiar with lolcats.