August 2003
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August 2003 Archives

August 28, 2003

Disaster fiction? My current

Disaster fiction?

My current book on tape is Harry Turtledove's Great War: American Front an alternate history of world war one set in a land where Lee won at Antietam, Britain and France recognized and supported the confederacy before Lincoln was able to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and North America became divided up between Canada, the USA, the CSA, and the Mexican Empire much as Western Europe was.

It is hackwork, but it is more interesting than the other thing I checked out of the library, Dickens's Tale of Two Cities - a novel that did not translate well to book on tape.

What struck me is something that this has in common with, say, John Ringo's stories of alien invasion, Walter Jon Williams The Rift or what I have heard of the Tribulation novels in the Left Behind series. There is something odd in reading about destruction and devastation happening in places where you know the name and the geography, and it can make otherwise plebian prose somehow more compelling. So just as we can go down to Gettysburg and walk the battlefield today, imagining what was happening on those green fields a hundred fourty years ago, so can this disaster fiction take spaces that we know, if only vicariously, and overlay new images onto it.

I don't know if I will finish it, I do not normally read alternate history fiction that overlaps with the stuff that I teach. However, it is a nice change of pace from the heavy diet of military science fiction that takes 19th century colonialism and warfare involving asymetrical technology and imposes it onto some future space - I think I blogged on this a few months ago.

For our drive to Albany this weekend, it will be Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill and Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath

And so to lunch.

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Red Ted
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August 27, 2003

Sleepy day, it has

Sleepy day, it has been a busy few days.

Saturday was baby's first birthday party. We had grandparents, brothers, us, and the baby - 9 adults and the birthday boy. It was fun, it was also our chance to show off the new house, and it was the deadline we needed to get the boxes out of the living room. The little man thinks that vanilla cupcakes are good things (tm).

Sunday was baby's actual birthday. It was a quiet day - Grandpa for brunch followed by a day of working on and around the house. I had forgotten the size of the gulph that separates parents from everyone else when I got confused about brunch timing. Brunch was scheduled for 2 hours after a late breakfast. For us, that meant we slept in until 7:00, ate soon afterwards, and then worked on the house. The grandparents arrived a few minutes before noon, having slept until 10:00 and then having a lazy morning.

Monday and Tuesday I was in the archives about an hour away. I like doing research - skimming sermons, looking at pamphlets, figuring out connections and patterns. I had played in the online catalogue before coming up and had about a dozen pages of things to look at. Many of these were bound in volumes with other pamphlets, and I turned the pages of the volume to see what happy surprises might be in there. I found some new names, including James Henley Thornwell of the OS Presbyterian church who led the movement declaring that Catholic ("Romish" to use the terms of the actual debate) Baptisms should not be accepted by American Presbyterians. Rather, converting Catholics must be re-sprinkled. I looked at a LOT of pamphlets and sermons.

Thornwell led me back to J.R. Graves, about whom I have been doing more reading, and Graves' attempt to hoist Presbyterians on their own petard because of this debate. This pamphlet, the "Tri-lemma," is online - which is good because otherwise I would be reading it on microfiche and I HATE microfiche.

Today was working at home and catching up on houseie things. I primed the linen closet yesterday, was supposed to paint it today but did not. Instead we put more drywall compound around the kitchen heating register and the brace for the upstairs baby gate, and I changed an outlet under the supervision of Mark my handy neighbor. I also worked on syllabus, read Graves "tri-lemma" and started working through my 85,000 characters of notes from Monday/Tuesday. I even took a little nap, and had the cable guy come figure out why our cable modem has an intermittent total failure (gaps in the HBO trap is his bet, he tightened the thingie that keeps us from getting premium cable channels.)

Tonight I get the baby while J does month-end-frenzy from work. I think the little man and I will go grocery shopping. He likes it, and we are low on food. And, unlike going shopping with his grandpa, he does not move slowly - which means I will not have to push to get through the shopping in a reasonable time. Tomorrow I get to have a morning cholesterol test, spend the mid-day working up my notes, and do more housie things in the late afternoon.

Off to water the grass seed.

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Red Ted
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August 22, 2003

I think I got

I think I got ambitious with my syllabus. I am assigning a lot of reading for a low level class - large textbook, reader, short monograph, and Uncle Tom's Cabin. The last is 509 pages of 19th-century prose. It is an easy book, but it is a long book - especially because many of the kids read only 20-30 pages an hour. That means what, 20 hours of work just to read the novel once.

That said, I am pretty happy with my schedule of readings. They have letters, they have a novel, they have essays, they have women. What is missing are primary documents written by African Americans, and primary documents involving indians. Perhaps I should have used Frederick Douglas's autobiography instead of Stowe's novel. Too late for this semester - the books are ordered.

I spent some time this morning and yesterday afternoon working on turning my notes on the semester into a proper syllabus. I am excited about the changes I am making - it will be a good challenging class. I just fear that I will overwhelm the kids.

And off to run errands, get ready for the baby's 1 year birthday tomorrow, and otherwise do busy work.

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Red Ted
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The house is coming

The house is coming together.

This is good because our pace of unpacking is slowing down. We still have a few boxes in every room, but most of the furniture is where it belongs.

I was sitting in the living room the other day, looking across at the hunter green carpets and the big oak bookcase full of history, and I thought that I liked what I saw. Last night and again early this morning I was in the upstairs looking at the way that the yellowish-white walls glow in morning light or dim incandescent light, and I liked it. It was warm and cheerful and made me think of honey.

And so to work

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Red Ted
at 09:27 AM | TrackBack
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August 20, 2003

I love the web.

I love the web. I hate the web.

I love the web. It helps me work.

I spent some time this morning preparing for my next library run, following up on a trip Monday to the Princeton Theological Seminary. I was reading library catalogs, pulling call numbers, and doing prepatory work that let me decide where to go, what order to go to places, and what to start reading when I got there. That was great.

And, some of my documents have been placed online, particularly documents that appeal to a constituency or that are in a field with amateur historians. So I was reading James Graves 1880 work on landmarkism online, will read more in it online, and will not spend my precious archive time looking at that particular document.

I hate the web. It distracts me from my work.

I also spent a moment of downtime looking at the Everquest 2 web site. I played Everquest for a while, lost some writing time to it, and if I have the spare time next spring I will probably try EQ2. This would be fine, but a 5-minute study break turned into 30 minutes of looking at screenshots and trying to figure out the new skill trees.

I fear that this blog also distracts me from my work. I justify it becuase it gives me a place to write loose stream-of-consciousness things about my work, my short-term plans, and my life. It is good to keep a diary.

And so to run errands - Ted needs new glasses.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 01:34 AM | TrackBack
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August 15, 2003

The pile of boxes

The pile of boxes goes down and down, hurrah, hurrah (sung to the tune of "When Johnnie Comes Marching Home")

We are starting to see where the house might go. Of course, we still have more stuff than we have space to put it into. The office works - all the books are in - but we don't have anyplace to put computer disks, computer parts, stray notebooks, or my history textbooks. The living room works, except that the stereo, the chair, and the blanket chest are all arguing for posession of the same bit of wall. It would be easier if we did not want a TV in the house, but we do want one. We have had cable for over a week now. The TV has still not yet been plugged in.

I am revising chapter 4, going over it looking for bad logic, awkward phrasings, bloated text and the like. I found a fair bit of kibble to take out. I still wonder if my narrative for the chapter works. I think it does, I am comfortable that I have found some sort of conceptual crisis in 1844-45. I am not sure that I have described it accurately, set up the crisis properly, or properly articulated what changed and why. So, I get to do more.

Things to do today: write, errands, phone calls, move stuff around the house. I have stopped putting my to do list in the blog. Now it sits in Wordperfect and gets copied and edited from day to day. Houses are a lot of work, yep.

And so to work.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 08:55 AM | TrackBack
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August 12, 2003

Back into the swing

Back into the swing of things.

We moved a week ago last week. We are still surrounded by boxes, shifting boxes, shopping for new furniture to set off the contents of those boxes, and otherwise having a grand old time.

The list of projects and things to do has hit two pages, although a chunk of that is the step-by-step to do list for the basement bleach and painting party.

Given all that, this weekend we did the only logical thing. We went to the beach for a couple of days. Relatives were in from Michigan, and from New Mexico, and we baptized my neice. It was good to see people.

Now that I am back, it is write write write and class-prep, class-prep, class-prep.

I am working on chapter 4. I need to come up with something meaningful for the end of the chapter. I still have not gotten up to Princeton to do the reading that will let me change the second section in the chapter. So far I am doing background reading and thinking about how to handle things. Princeton tomorrow.

I have not showered today. We caulked the tub last night and it will take 24 hours to dry. Otherwise I would be halfway to Princeton right now.

To do today:
sand and prime a door
trim and poison the rose plants
shift furniture in my office, get things into a position where I can start emptying boxes.
read the appropriate chapters in: Noll, Holt, Carwardine
Get the course packet to the printers.
Call: electrician (he came Saturday after we left for the shore) and floor guy.
Put up shelves in living room book cases

Posted by
Red Ted
at 08:44 AM | TrackBack
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