31 January 2013

Ten of Tens: Adjustments

My plan for this month was to try to eat more local food, and I've done a pretty lousy job. The only thing that saves me from having to admit complete failure is that The Mate managed to make one trip to the farmer's market, where he discovered that even in January, you can get a decent variety of vegetables.

On the other hand, even though it was on the list for some time later in the year, I've been making a consistent effort to pack my own lunch.  My days are long, and it's both psychologically and practically difficult to pack two full meals, so I've been getting home famished -- yet somehow, since the beginning of the year, I've completely avoided take-out food and all the styrofoam and plastic packaging that accompanies it. 

This morning, the lunch opportunities in the fridge were pretty slim.  No leftovers; half a loaf of bread. I made a sandwich, then ate it for breakfast instead of cooking hot cereal.  I cut up a bunch of carrots, but even in combination with some almonds in my desk, that wasn't going to make a meal.

And then I remembered the pea soup I stashed in the freezer a couple of weeks ago -- just for moments like this. I pulled out a mason jar and stuffed it in my lunch bag.  Saved. This weekend, I'm going to crazy on cooking up more soup.

For next month, I'll keep going on packing lunches and substantial snacks, and planning more carefully for what I need and when.  It's become more habitual, and in another few weeks it should be pretty solidly ingrained.  And I'm going to try again on the local food front.

27 January 2013

Remembering Infertility

The well-meaning questions: "When are you going to give Doug a baby?"  "Where are my grandchildren?"

The celebrations of joy: new babies announced.  Other people's new babies.  Other people's reports about conceiving easily, even accidentally.

The Offspring looked up from his book this afternoon and asked, "Mom, are you okay?" I was reading an entry in Lotsalaundry's book, Your First Year of Motherhood, about infertility, and he saw it on my face. I burst into tears and went and hugged him, and it was a few minutes before I could explain.

Because ten years later, it can still hurt like hell.

Remembering all those years of wanting a child, remembering the pain as others had babies, and the babies grew into children and then into teenagers.

Ten years of wanting a child.  An adoption attempt that ended badly: another story, another pain that will never go away.

Ten years during which I went on with life.  Got a PhD, got a tenure-track job; completed some triathlons and half marathons; traveled with The Mate and hiked and biked and saw beautiful places and experienced something of some other cultures.

Yet always in the background, often in the foreground, the ache, sometimes mild, other times a stabbing, heart-rending pain.

And then, surprise, a pregnancy.  Ten years ago today, I was already pregnant, but didn't yet know it.  I was surprised again when he was born, an actual live baby.  A miracle.

Nine and a half years later ... the most difficult and the most rewarding thing I've ever done, the most exhausting and the most exhilarating ... life changing?  No, change isn't a strong enough word.

The externals are much the same.  I still live in the same city, I still work at the same job, with many of the same colleagues.  I'm still married to The Mate.  I have hiking boots, skis, a bike and some clothing that are older than The Offspring.  I still listen to the Indigo Girls and Simon and Garfunkel, still play Mozart and Bach on the piano when I can find the time, which is less frequent these days.

The landscape of my heart, on the other hand, has had a complete overhaul.  Yet that pain is still carved into my flesh and etched into my soul.

23 January 2013

Biking in the Cold

Sixteen degrees isn't actually all that cold.  People routinely ski in temperatures like that (and colder); Canadians and Siberians have to just live with it.

So biking in temperatures in the teens is really a matter of gearing up -- literally, with the right clothes, and mentally, with the right attitude.

Part of the problem is dressing so that the extremities, and in particular ears, fingers and toes, stay warm, without having the core of the body overheat, because sweating in cold weather is bad, and sweating in work clothes is, well, also a problem.

Today, I wore long underwear, wool pants, and windpants on the bottom, with a silk underlayer, a cotton turtleneck, a wool/cashmere blazer, and a parka on top.  Feet: knee-high boots with wool socks.  Hands: down gloves.  Head: thin hat under my helmet; gore-tex helmet cover outside my helmet; a neck gaiter; and Dermatone over any bits of exposed skin.

Upper body got a little too warm; legs and toes got a little chilly; hands were fine.


The train pulled out of Penn Station right on time, proceeded a few hundred feet, and then stopped.  Eventually, it pulled back into the station.  No one had any information about how long it might take before the power problem near Secaucus might be resolved, and I gave up, got back on the bike, rode home, and drove to the office instead.

The body was willing, but the tracks froze.


Yep, down gloves.  I bought them by accident in an end-of-season sale at Campmor a couple of years ago.  I realized they weren't synthetic after I'd paid for them, and decided not to return them, even though they were stuffed with bird bits.  Pretty much the best decision ever.  I also wear leather shoes and boots.  What can I say?  Nobody's perfect.

21 January 2013

Ten of Tens: Local Food

January was supposed to be the month of finding ways to eat more local food.

Everyone in the household has been afflicted with one bug or another at some point this month, so trying to change habits and get into a different rhythm has been... a challenge.

Still, The Mate managed to make it to the farmer's market last week -- the littleish one at Tompkins Square, not the bigger Union Square farmer's market -- and even there, came home with a decent haul: brussels sprouts, squashes, apples, potatoes.

Meanwhile, we've increased the size of our box from Urban Organic.  Great selection of vegetables and fruits, and they try to buy local, but there's always a lot of food in the box that's been shipped quite a distance.

Next part of the project is to try to find a local source of dry beans and legumes.  I'm also thinking about preserving some tomatoes, hot peppers, and herbs next summer.

14 January 2013

Biking Like A Kid

I think when I was a kid I had a pink Huffy bike with a banana seat and cruiser handlebars with streamers.  Did it have a sissy bar?  It might even have had a sissy bar.

I know I biked around the neighborhood with no helmet, up and down the steep hills in my New Hampshire town through drifts of gravel left after streets were sanded during winter storms, and I remember that gravel was treacherous, could pull you down to the ground if you weren't careful.

Kind of like the gravel I now ride through near the library to avoid a pair of rather treacherous intersections on a heavily traveled road through the campus where I teach, where I have to stand up on the pedals and keep moving or the tires will sink into the rocks and the bike will fishtail and fall.

The end of day came, then, when I heard my father's whistle.  I might have been poking the stones at the bottom of a stream with a stick, or lying on the big flat rock in a clearing watching the trees in the wind, or playing ball in the street with my brother and some neighborhood kids.  "Car!" came the occasional holler, and we'd scatter to the side of the road.

Riding my bike makes me feel a bit like a kid again, almost as if I could shed responsibilities and stress as I coast along city streets.  The Offspring, who has gotten to be a careful and observant rider, follows behind me, and we holler happily back and forth at one another as we dodge potholes and swerve around double-parked cars on our way to Hebrew School by way of the compost bins at the Greenmarket.

It's a nice way to start a Sunday morning.

12 January 2013

Sometimes You Have To Give Up

Item one: a metal laundry drying rack purchased about three years ago, a few months after which the screws holding it together started falling out.  I replaced the first, and the second, and the third... and it hung on for a while, remaining useable.  And then a couple of weeks ago about five of the screws fell out all at once.

And I gave up.  I realized the amount of time I could spend trying to keep that thing fixed just wasn't worth it any more.  I took the thing downstairs and threw it in the recycling bin.

At the moment, we have no drying rack.  I'm thinking about possible creative solutions, alternatives to buying another rack that will have to live in the corner of the bathroom.  Maybe several lines of cord strung near the ceiling of our half bath?

Item two: a pair of long-finger bike gloves.  I put them on yesterday and discovered I'd let them mildew after wearing them in the rain.  They're so beat, if I try to wash them, they're likely to disintegrate.  They went in the actual trash.

I've looked in a couple of stores for a replacement, but haven't seen anything I like.  I have a pair of leather gardening gloves I've owned for years.  I might try those as an alternative for days cold enough I want to cover my fingers but not cold enough for winter gloves.

Yes, sometimes even I throw something away.

10 January 2013

"Appropriate" Advertising?

The Offspring's teacher asked each kid to bring in an advertisement.  The only guideline: nothing inappropriate.

And so The Offspring began paging through a copy of Metro New York, and finding a non-inappropriate ad turned out to be a bit difficult.

Full-page Macy's ad?  Nope: woman in bra.  Plastic surgery? No: worse, with the before and after pictures.  Weight-loss program?  Footcare?  Yet worse: women in scanty clothing in, ummm... fetching positions.  The new NYC casino? Oh boy. Varicose vein surgery? Woman wearing dress with very high slit up the side.  Other varicose vein surgery?  Hideous leg and foot with gaping wound: he decided to pass on that one.

It's certainly not as though I've never noticed these advertisements before, but seeing them through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy is a whole new thing.

It opened up a window for a comment about the inappropriateness of a great deal of the advertising he's been seeing since he was a tiny thing, and that comment will be the start of a conversation that goes on for the next several years.

Meanwhile, we've been stopping every day -- his choice -- for a few moments of silence at an impromptu shrine to the sixteen-year-old boy shot a block from The Offspring's school, apparently over a jacket.  He's trying to wrap his head around how such a thing could have happened.

Peter Yarrow gave voice to the heartache of a parent watching a child grow into a torn world back in 1969.  Much has indeed changed since then, but there is still so much to do.
Do you ask why I'm sighing, my son?
You shall inherit what mankind has done.

Yet Yarrow found hope:
And if you take my hand my son
All will be well when the day is done.
When fathers take the hands of their children, and see through their eyes as they make decisions that can affect generations to come, then perhaps all will be well when the day is done.

09 January 2013

Attempting to Do Digital Humanities

Back at the beginning of the millennium, I tried to put together a web-based edition of a bunch of scraps of biblical lore in Old English (some incorporating Latin) that are copied into about a dozen and a half manuscripts now held in libraries in London, Cambridge, and Oxford and date from the tenth through twelfth centuries.

The texts overlap in the various manuscripts, with some nearly identical, but most varying in one way or another. I made a rather goofy facsimile of a page from one of the manuscripts in the fashion of Victorian re-drawing of maps and illustrations, to try to show the colors used for the large capitals as well as the arrangement of the text on the page:
This is from the twelfth-century manuscript known as Cotton Julius A.ii, which also contains a prayer, a "Dialogue" between Adrian and Ritheus, and a translation of some proverbs by the Roman statesman Cato and related material.

I wanted to make a non-linear hypertext edition in which readers could jump between edited text, diplomatic transcription, translation, detailed manuscript description, and other texts with similar materials depending on interests and on experience with manuscripts.

But I didn't have the coding skills to make the edition as sophisticated as I wanted it to be, nor the social engineering skills to get someone else to do it for me (or with me). More problematic: as I worked on the edition, I realized the coding languages, conventions, and possibilities were in rapid flux, so any digital edition I might publish would rapidly become out of date.

Here's a translation:

Here it says about the two thieves who hung with Christ.  In Hebrew, they were called [Acha]sachat and Macros, and in Greek Malica and Ioca, and in Latin Cismus and Dismus. Cismus lived, and Dismus did not live.
Noah's ark was three hundred fathoms long, and fifty wide, and thirty high.
Saint Peter's Church is three hundred feet long and two hundred feet wide and the steeple one hundred twenty, and it has twelve thousand and fifty lights, and there are sixty-two steps in the stair.
Solomon's Temple was sixty fathoms long and sixty high and thirty wide. And there were a hundred and seventy thousand workers who carried the stone, and a hundred eight thousand that cut and joined them, and there were three thousand, three hundred officials.
Istorius said that the length of this Middle-Earth was twelve thousand miles, and its breadth six thousand three hundred, not counting a few little islands.
Man has two hundred nineteen bones and he has three hundred sixty-five veins, and there are that many days in twelve months, and a hundred twenty years has thirty-thousand and six hundred days. 

I ended up compiling the full text of the materials into a nice traditional, linear, print publication (with no colors).  You can read it in English Studies if you have access to an academic library, or know someone who can download a pdf and email it to you.

I still want to explore the possibilities of digital editing and publishing, though to start with I need a project that's somewhat less complex, in the number of manuscripts and/or in the variability of the texts.

08 January 2013

Ten of Tens: Eating Local

The other day, I made a list of ten changes I want to make this year, a month at a time, to see where they take me.

The plan for January: Eat more local (when it's not so easy).

In the summer, it's pretty easy to get a lot of our food from local sources.  We get a share in Community Supported Agriculture, and every week we go to a drop-off location a few blocks away to pick up our weekly allotment.

(Want to join a CSA?  Now's the time to start looking -- at least in our area, they get fully subscribed pretty early in the year.  Here's a web site with more information.)

We supplement with trips to the farmer's market for the berries, plums, and apples we'll use for our year's supply of jam and apple sauce.

In the winter? Not so easy.  The CSA goes dormant, and the farmer's market is far smaller than it is in the summer.  Plus, it's not much fun to shop in the cold.  But I'm going to give it a try.  I don't even know what you can buy at the farmer's market this time of year, so it could be interesting.

If I can get the habit going now, when I'm not spending 15 hours a week commuting, maybe I can keep it up when that starts up again.  (Next week, it turns out.)

Confusing the Bystanders

If you're going to commit to buying used, for economic and/or ecological reasons, you might find yourself walking through Chinatown with skis, boots, and poles on your back, on a sunny 45-degree day with no snow in sight anywhere.
Photo: Douglas Morse

And the responses from bystanders and passersby are likely to run the gamut from amused to mystified to all kinds of baffled.

As the Talking Heads put it, "You may ask yourself, Well, How did I get here? / Letting the days go by, water flowing underground."

07 January 2013

Wrestling With Imagination and Realities

Walking The Offspring to school this morning, we passed a shrine.  Someone made a poster, there were several dozen memorial candles, young teenagers were adding their contributions in Sharpie on the building wall.  I hadn't heard, but The Mate said there had been a shooting -- apparently one teenager shot another for his coat.

The Offspring asked a couple of questions, and I pointed out that the life of the killer, too, is ruined.  I pointed out that the lives of both families are affected, if not ruined.  I pointed out that teenagers are particularly prone to impulsive behavior that can lead to terrible mistakes.  And I added that this is why I don't want him playing violent video games, or playing gun games with his pals.

These games seem to happen whether there are nerf- or water-gun props, or not.  A stick gets used as a gun, or just arms and hands.

Zeke was about three when he started talking about Power Rangers.  The kids at school were talking about it, and even though he'd never seen the TV shows, he seemed to have absorbed a great deal of information about it.  That seemed harmless enough.

But now it's shooting.  Shooting games, imitating machine-gun fire, dropping to the ground pretending to be dead.  It bothers me, and in the current context, it's bothering me than ever. Yet I played those games as a kid, too.

Growing up as an immigrant and an outsider in a small town, I wanted desperately to fit in, not to be different, not to stick out. I love living in New York because it absorbs people from everywhere.  I fit in as one marble among millions, each one unique, each respecting the others' differences.

And so I want The Offspring to fit in.  I don't want to wrench him from context, keep him from joining the other kid games, make him an outlier.  We're different enough with no television in the house.  I can't see forbidding gun games, and I don't think it would stop him from playing them at the playground or at other kids' homes.

So all I can do is talk to him.  Talk about real violence, real death, and my discomfort with games of violence.

Can I do more?

06 January 2013

My Ten of Tens

Over the last several years, I've been trying to deepen my ecological commitments by making small changes that, over time, add up to fairly significant impact.

One success has been using public transit to get to work.  The Mate bought me a Brompton folding bike for Mother's Day (!) nearly five years ago, when we still lived in Washington Heights. 

Once every few weeks, I schlepped it onto the A Train and then New Jersey Transit, and rode it two miles to campus at the other end.

A year later, we moved back downtown, and I was close enough to bike to public transit at the New York end.  In the fall of 2010, I decided to try to take public transit to work once a week instead of driving.  It was a huge success, and I happily got through the whole semester.  There were hitches in the spring, as I started feeling the aftershocks of five hours a day in transit. But by that fall, I was taking the train and the bike to work almost all the time, instead of driving.

These days, I sometimes think about driving to work, but then I remember wasted time sitting behind the wheel and getting enraged by the antics of the other drivers, when I could be sitting on the train getting work done or even (gasp!) resting.  Or I remember the billboard at the entrance to the outbound tunnel that for a couple of months read, "People call commuting a nightmare.  Nightmares are shorter."

Commuting to work on public transit, and using my bike to get around town, has become my normal. When I started the experiment, I had no idea that was going to be the outcome.

Another experiment I'll call successful is this blog, whose fifth anniversary came and went unheralded last November.  I started it as a way to think through environmental issues in a way I couldn't do in my academic writing or in the classroom.  I diverged into writing about chronic illness when I came down with "the itis" a couple of years later. Since then, I've developed two classes on the environment and, to my on-going amazement, published an article that grew out of the blog.

So in the coming year, I want to pick ten new things to try to turn into habit, one for each of the next ten months.  (The light fades in November and December.  Just getting through is enough of a goal: it's too hard to do anything new.)  I'll see where these things take me -- if just one brings about a transformation comparable to the changes in my teaching and scholarship or my commute, it will be a big thing.
  • Pack lunch to avoid the packaging that comes with take-out.  Bring a cloth napkin.
  • Limit water use: three-minute showers; go to the car wash instead of washing my car with the hose; use a pan to rinse dishes instead of running the tap.
  • Recommit to not shopping and/or buying used.
  • Research the environmental impact of web storage.  Write some letters to push for change.
  • Finish reading Ecological Economics and find the next thing to read.
  • Create a change.org petition on an environmental issue.
  • Research the water and energy costs of the foods I eat most.
  • Research the environmental costs of medical care.
  • Write a proposal for a humanities-based environmental studies minor at MU.
  • Eat more local. (Out of season, when it's not so easy.)

My problem with ideas in general in my life is wanting to implement them all at once.  I'm always reading ten books at once, writing five articles, working on bunches of different things simultaneously.  I could probably get more done with better focus and less enthusiasm, but then I wouldn't be me.  So the first challenge will be to decide where to start.

If you want to try something like this, I posted some more ideas over the last couple of days.

Year of Tens: More Ideas

Yesterday, I posed a challenge: ten months, ten new ecologically sound habits.  Here are some more ideas for change:

Call ten companies that send you catalogues and get off the mailing lists.
Take three-minute showers.
Turn off the tap while you're brushing your teeth.
Take the money you saved from your month of no shopping and buy one really long-lasting item.
Or, take that money and make a donation to a good cause.
Get the various damaged and broken stuff lying around the house repaired instead of replacing.
Decluttter.  Get rid of the stuff you really don't use.  Donate or recycle as much as possible.
Use a sink or pan full of water to rinse dishes when handwashing instead of running the tap.
If it's brown, flush it down.  If it's yellow, let it mellow.  (To be honest, this one totally grosses me out.)
Recycle wrapping paper.
Switch to fair trade chocolate and flowers (I'm thinking Valentine's Day) and coffee.
Join Green America for more ideas.
Stop using plastic grocery bags.  Get one of those thin cloth bags and carry it everywhere.

I'm working up my own list of ten tens for the coming year.  I hope to post it tomorrow.

05 January 2013

A Year of Tens

How about a challenge?  Pick ten small changes you can make in your life that will lighten your tread and lessen your impact on the planet.  Then, for each of the next ten months, pick ten days to make that change.  (November and December are stressful enough, what with the holidays and the light going away, to try anything out of the ordinary.)

Ten months, ten days, ten habits.  If a change feels right, maybe you'll stick with it for the long term.  If not, move on to the next thing on the list.

Here are some possibilities, in no particular order:

Use a re-usable mug for your take-out coffee.
Bring lunch to avoid all the trash from a take-out meal. (See: leftovers, below.)
Write ten letters (email messages count) encouraging businesses to adopt greener practices.
Write ten letters (email ditto) to elected officials, encouraging them to support green legislation.
Reorganize bins in your home (kitchen, bath, home office, laundry) to maximize recycling.
Go beyond the basics: recycle (or donate) electronics, clothes, eyeglasses, shoes, toys.
Compost.  (Not impossible, even in NYC.)
Cut back on food waste.  Plan shopping so you won't end up with food going bad; save leftovers.
Go on a shopping diet: buy household necessities, but nothing else.
Carry and refill your own water bottle.
Avoid buying anything made out of plastic (including packaging).
Take public transit to work or to a weekend activity, or if you live close enough, walk or bike.
Give up paper towels.
Think about library books as an alternative to buying paper copies -- or ebooks.
Make your pet greener.
Shop responsibly: before every purchase, educate yourself.
Cut back on meat.
Check the investment portfolio in your pension plan.  If you can, rebalance toward sustainability.
If you can't -- ten more letters.


Changing our lives to lessen our environmental impacts is beyond quick fixes.  It's not realistic for any of us to ditch the car, the home, the electricity, the medical care.  We can't go back to the stone age.

But we do need to commit to continuous change, for the rest of our lives, to reduce our ecological impact.  And we need to educate the children in our lives to carry on that habit of constantly re-evaluating .

If you make a list, write it in pencil.  Make changes as you see what's possible for you.  But don't give up!  Keep working on making incremental changes.  At the end of six months, a year, five years, look back and see what you've accomplished.

And please -- make more suggestions to add to the list.

04 January 2013

This Might Be a Rant

The website CareerCast just published a list of the ten least stressful jobs in the US.  CNBC followed up with an interview with the site's publisher, Tony Lee, who elaborated on the claim:
"If you look at the criteria for stressful jobs, things like working under deadlines, physical demands of the job, environmental conditions hazards, is your life at risk, are you responsible for the life of someone else, they rank like 'zero' on pretty much all of them!" Lee said.
There's an excellent rebuttal, with a detailed description of what it is we do with all of our time given that we're only in front of students for six to fifteen hours a week, by Audra at Facts and Other Fairy Tales.

As Audra points out, we're under deadline all the time.  Classes don't prepare themselves, papers and exams need to be graded expeditiously to give students pedagogically useful feedback, and grades don't calculate themselves, though Excel certainly speeds the process.

Lee is under the mistaken impression that we teach what we want, when we want, and as many classes as we want.  He also thinks we only teach students who want to be in our classes.  The bulk of my teaching load is courses required for one program or another -- not electives chosen by students who love the topic.

We're also expected to do research, which creates additional deadlines.  During the winter "vacation," I  finished and submitted an overdue article and wrote an an abstract for another article.  I wrote a recommendation letter for a colleague applying to a professional-development program.

Plus, I submitted a grad school recommendation for a student -- another component of the job that can take up a good bit of time at certain times of year.

I'm still on "vacation" -- classes don't start for another three weeks -- but I've already met with my department chair and my dean, read some graduate admission applications, reached out to students who haven't yet registered for spring, and emailed several faculty about scheduling additional meetings before the start of the semester.

I want to take part in a week-long course for faculty myself next summer, and that means before classes start I'll need to get the application written.  This is made a little more complex by the fact that the school offering the course has a note on the application web site saying it is under reconstruction, and will be available in the middle of January.  I hope it doesn't go late.

I've been teaching at the same institution for nearly fifteen years, yet class preparations still take up a great deal of time: for one class, I've ordered a new 750-page textbook, and I have to read the whole thing in the next couple of weeks to decide which sections to assign as required and/or recommended.  For another class, I've ordered two new books.  In both cases, that means completely redesigning the syllabi and, since I teach the classes in "hybrid" form -- half on line, half face to face -- also the on-line component of the courses.  I regularly change textbooks and supplementary materials to keep my teaching up to date with recent research in the field.

Physical demands of the job?  No, we're not plowing fields, but nor is it a desk job.  I'm assuming Mr. Lee has never taught a class, whether a 50-minute class meeting three times a week or a once-a-week, two-and-a-half hour session.  Standing in front of students is high performance.  If you're doing it well, it's physically engaging; you're on your feet operating a computer and/or writing on a chalk board, handing out papers, circulating among students to make sure they're alert.

You're talking to a group, which really means talking (at my institution) to somewhere between 15 and 35 individuals.  Each brings different information, interests, needs, expectations, and abilities to the classroom, and somehow, you have to reach all of them.  Some need more background, some are half asleep because they finished a paper last night (or stayed up late being irresponsible), some need to be pushed harder.  Some need more time to digest, but others who absorb material will tune out during review.  You're constantly assessing all the students' attention and engagement levels, and making small shifts to keep them all on track.

And if you're sick, with a seasonal flu or a chronic illness, you still show up.  If you're exhausted because you yourself were up half the night finishing a paper, grading student work, caring for a sick kid, you still show up.  Teaching that class, creating that performance, doing all those minute checks on student engagement, is very difficult if your energy is sapped by physical factors of one sort or another.

Are you responsible for the life of someone else?  Not in the sense that a surgeon is, or a taxi driver.  But advising young people about their lives -- job plans and graduate schools, as well as semester schedules and majors and internships -- needs to be undertaken thoughtfully.

The biggest stressors in my job?  Cheating and complaints. Unfortunately, at least once a year I catch someone plagiarizing a paper wholesale.  Depending on course level, the importance of the assignment, and other circumstances, this might mean failure for the course, which in turn might mean delayed graduation.

Sometimes the students respond with email after email in which they refuse to accept the answer I've given.  Sometimes they confront me in a classroom or come to my office and cry.  Sometimes they get aggressive, and while I don't scare easily, I've been frightened a time or two.  Sometimes, their parents go on the offensive and complain to university administrators.

In short, the person who claimed professors have the nation's least stressful jobs is woefully uninformed about what our jobs involve.

03 January 2013

Einen Guten Rutsch, Y'all

2012 was a tough year.  A car accident, the death of a colleague, illness, and the hurricane affected me personally, and the senseless killing of 20 children near the end of the year hit too close to home.

It's left me deeply fatigued and emotionally raw, reading the news aslant fearing more horrors and deeply affected by events around the globe.

So how to move forward to 2013?

I'd like to try to be calmer, less irritable with strangers and family members alike, more focused on the positive.

I want to keep working to make a difference in the world, to try to figure out how to have more of an impact.

At the same time, I want to give attention to the personal: sleep more, exercise more, make more music. Spend more time outdoors, in the woods and near water, or in it.

Drink less coffee and eat less junk food -- and eat more food that's delicious and healthy .  Spend less time spinning my wheels and getting stressed out about work.

The Germans wish each other "einen guten Rutsch," a good slide, into the New Year.  Maybe this year I can do more sliding, less scraping, slip and glide through life instead of bumping and bouncing.  Whaddya think; can I manage it?

Less complaining, more affirmation.  More hugs, fewer snarls, more thanks.

01 January 2013

Manuscript Facsimiles

A list, to be updated as I come across others, of digital manuscript repositories on the web.  Please let me know of others I've missed.

Alfred's Translation of Gregory's Cura Pastoralis, Universitätsbibliothek Kassel
Bayeux Tapestry
Beowulf Manuscript
Book of Kells, Trinity College Dublin
British Library's digitized manuscript page, and their blog
Bodleian Library
Damian Fleming's detailed list of digitized manuscripts
DigiPal Database of Manuscripts On Line
Digital Walters (Baltimore)
Lichfield Cathedral
Open-Glam Open Collections
Paris Psalter
Parker Library
Trinity College Cambridge
Trinity College Library Dublin
Worcester Cathedral Library and Archive

Blogs I Follow

Book List

What I've been reading, since about 2008.  Undoubtedly a partial list, since I forget to update, and then add several books at a time to the list.  I may try to fill in some of the gaps.

Andreas Kieling, Ein deutscher Wandersommer: 1400 Kilometer durch unsere wilde Heimat
Walter Lewin, For the Love of Physics
Henry Roth, A Star Shines over Mt. Morris Park
Michael Common and Sigrid Stagl, Ecological Economics
Amitav Ghosh, River of Smoke
Deborah Rumsey, Statistics for Dummies
David Kessler, The End of Overeating
Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soul Craft
Laurie R. King, Garment of Shadows
Frank McCourt, Teacher Man
Laurie R. King, The Pirate King
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo*
Amitav Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome
Deborah Luepnitz, Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas
Donna Leon, The Girl of His Dreams
Agatha Christie, The Secret Adversary
Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
William Styron, Darkness Visible
Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies
Ben Macintyre, Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
Allen Carlson, Nature and Landscape: An Introduction to Environmental Aesthetics
Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces
Stephen Harris and Brion Grigsby, ed. Misconceptions About the Middle Ages
Jedediah Berry, The Manual of Detection
Laurie R. King, God of the Hive
Rick Steves, Travel as a Political Act
Mary Swan and Elaine M. Treharne, ed., Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century
Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Robbin Crabtree, et al., Feminist Pedagogy: Looking Back to Move Forward
Nikolas Coupland, Style: Language Variation and Identity
Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, Kindheit in Ostpreußen
Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh, A Presumption of Death
Amitav Ghosh, The Glass Palace
Best American Essays 2009
Michael Chabon, Gentlemen of the Road
Elizabeth Peters, The Laughter of Dead Kings
Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies
Laurie R. King, The Language of Bees
Mark Harris, Grave Matters : A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial
Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World
Eric W. Sanderson, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City
Annie Leibovitz, At Work
Gail Sheehy, The Silent Passage: Menopause
Jasper Rees, A Devil to Play: One Man's Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra's Most Difficult Instrument
Margaret Atwood, Payback: The Shadow Side of Wealth
Laurie R. King, Touchstone
Maryanne Wolf, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us)
Best American Essays 2008
Elizabeth Royte, Bottlemania
Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Michael Chabon, The Final Solution: A Story of Detection
Heather Armstrong, Things I've Learned About My Dad (In Therapy)
Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days
David Albahari, Götz und Meyer
Jacquelin Cangro, ed. The Subway Chronicles
Selma Fraiberg, The Magic Years

*Read as ebook.