freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I am in the orientation/registration run-up phase, which is horrible and exhausting, already requiring 12-hour workdays, and uncomfortably like being nibbled to death by very small annoying things, possibly miniature vampire ducks (petty and draining and stupid). The preparation part is not materially assisted by the fact that we've been running an online registration pilot throughout, so what with rugby players and online forms I have been registering students intermittently from the 7th January, and will be doing so until the 10th March. No wonder I'm a bit frayed.

The registration process, the orientation prep and the various other admin tasks have been exhibiting an unusually high level of people doing exactly what my strategic, careful, detailed, widely disseminated notices and announcements have told them not to do, often half an hour earlier. Submitting forms without class numbers. Trying to register when they have deferred exam results outstanding. Arriving in my office for curriculum advice for which I am explicitly unavailable at this time of year. Trying to schedule classes which haven't been approved by the relevant committee. (This was a gosh-darned professor and head of department who clearly did not read the detailed email to which she was replying). Trying to schedule my exam checking meeting on top of the orientation talk-giving commitments during which I'd blocked out my time as unavailable. It feels like trying to herd mutant toddlers in earplugs.

On the upside, Robynn randomly sent me a knitted teacup-warmer in the shape of an owl (or, more specifically, in the shape of an owl cosplaying as my journal icon, although without the umbrella, unless the "#STRESSMUSTFALL" tag counts, which it definitely does, thank you Robynn!), and this morning the mountain was wearing two hats under a moon, because it could.

20170214_123506

20170214_063814

I will try very hard not to attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by reading failure, and will take what consolations I can get.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Tumblr is doing a meme where you list the household in-jokes and catchphrases which would make absolutely no sense to an outsider. I have a bunch of family ones for those (my subject line is one, along with more Goon Show quotes than you could shake a sausage at), but actually a really huge bunch which echo around my social circle and which variously date from old CLAW days, the SCA, particular digs experiences, and my own irredeemable tendency to spangle my immediate surrounds with catchy quotes from things I love. If my usual readership has followed me over from LJ, there should be at least one person out there who recognises each of these...

"That grooves my ploons."
"Back, you leechies!"
"Well, you can write that down and stick it to the wall!"
"That's you, that is. That's your girlfriend."
"Magic carpet ride!" (or in fact any decontextualised quote from the Aladdin song).
"I dugged an hole!"
"That's no cat!"
collecting the laundry

My tendency to tell myself "This is not the droid you are looking for" out loud at intervals when fumbling around hopelessly is both far more individual, and far more instantly recognisable.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Aargh. The horrors of reg season (we are now in change of curriculum week, aka "Hellweek") have been materially reinforced by additional circumstances this year, namely student protests, and the fact that I'm chairing a selection committee at the same time. In the latter category, a potential applicant has just written a lengthy rant on the "discriminatory" wording of the job advert, in which he used the phrase "No disrespect, but..." in cold blood. Honestly, don't people stop to think? There is absolutely no way in hell I would give the job to someone with his particularly combative and insensitive attitude, even if his rant was valid, which it wasn't, and he met the qualifications requirements, which he doesn't. The rigours of my role notwithstanding, I still fundamentally like students and wouldn't subject them to that.

In the Department of Student Protests, they're happening, and buses are being burned and shacks built, but so far not on the part of campus where I work - it's all a bit distant and muffled, the focus of protests is housing and not, as we feared, registration. I think the people in the housing offices and Bremner are having a bad time of it, and there's been considerable property damage. But the Rhodes Must Fall movement, who are the perpetrators, have extremely effectively destroyed all the goodwill that actually existed for their message with all this bullshit. Now they're just vandals. Which is an enormous pity, as a lot of what they're protesting about badly needs change. As usual, The Onion nails it in their Tips for Campus Activism - not in the bulk of the list, which applies to a far different and more privileged notion of protest, but in the final item: "Above all, stay strong and never give up the fight! You don’t want to give “the man” the satisfaction of dismantling your demonstration by putting pressure on you or cordially agreeing to your terms." "The man" did exactly the latter, in all the gains achieved last year, and now is patiently doing the former, as protests spiral out of control and the perpetrators are arrested left, right and centre. Overall it's a very sad upshot for a worthwhile movement.

And finally, in all this chaos, once again friends keep me sane. I found a pack of chocolate digestives in my in-tray last week, attached to a card addressed to "O great and mighty Dr T". Upon opening, it revealed the following:



It is an index to the horrors of the last month that I was too fundamentally weakened for the usual yell of grammatical horror. Instead I collapsed in feeble and hysterical giggling, which was indeed the fell intent of the perpetrator. This was Tracy, who apparently bought the card years ago specifically with me in mind and has been biding her time waiting for the precise psychological moment for delivery. She hit it dead-on. It quite made my week.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
So, it appears we have Stealth Wol-Enablers on the recurring pattern. (Normal wol-enablers I have on the recurring pattern and more or less as an epidemic. This is not a complaint.) You may remember the Great Random Glass Wol Mystery of 2009, during which a mysterious glass wol appeared, unsolicited and unexplained, in the front garden, and I adopted him gladly but in some confusion. Many, many years later Laurence & Linda accidentally outed themselves in the comments on a completely different post as having been the not-quite-Breakers And Decorators concerned. Apparently I have lovely friends who give me random, unexpected wols entirely without explanation. Glass Wol is on my mantelpiece even as I type.

Apparently I still have lovely friends who give me random, unexpected wols entirely without explanation. (Whether this is the same friends or different cell of the secret organisation, history does not relate). Yesterday I staggered home from a merry 10-hour day of orientation prep and boss-wrangling, to discover a small, localised outbreak of tiny wols attached to pegs, lurking in my postbox. Thusly:



(Photo, incidentally, the inaugural one on my spanky new smartphone, since apparently even I can be dragged kicking and screaming into the Century of the Fruitbat.)

Above wols on pegs are, in the idiom of the modern-day Lydia Bennet, totes adorbs. I went "awwwww" not just because they are totes adorbs, but because the sudden giant lump in my throat made any form of more articulate vocalisation physically impossible. I feel loved, and I have lovely friends. It has been difficult to restrain myself from attending the first day of orientation today with a row of wols pegged to my cleavage in reminder therof.

Thank you, kind Stealth Wol-Enabler(s). You have scattered Uplift and Cheer on a week that badly needed it. I vanish now with the traditional faint squeak into the tentacular maw of Orientation (this year with added terrors in the form of lurking disruption threats and my lectures being recorded), considerably energised thereby.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am up unseasonably early as my sister and niece are arriving back from the UK at an unseasonal hour and I have undertaken to collect them from the airport. I confidently predict that the driving experience will give me flashbacks to playing Fallout, i.e. apocalyptic wastelands devoid of people. A tinsel tumbleweed may roll by occasionally. I shall thoroughly enjoy it.

I had Christmas Eve dinner with jo&stv last night, which entailed savage Polish barszcz (for which I have an unnatural fondness) in its natural habitat, i.e. filled with mushroom dumplings. Later there were pierogi, controversially with added pancetta (Polish Christmas is traditionally vegetarian). It was, needless to say, excellent, and also excellently subversive. Other than that we eschewed all trappings of actual Christmasness, which was curiously freeing. Today I have brunch with my sister and niece, and then trundle on home to play more Fallout while they recover from an intercontinental plane flight (they've just spent 10 days in the UK with my mother). This strikes me as an excellent Christmas plan, mostly because of its singular lack of a lot of actual Christmas. I may roast a chicken later, in a meditative sort of fashion, and watch Return of the Jedi or something.

By way of further creative deconstruction of Christmas tropes, have the Nutcracker performed by hip hop dancers. This made me absurdly happy.



merry seasonal wossnames of your preferred depth and flavour to all!
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Lo these many aeons ago, back in the mists of time, one of the multitudes of DM-ing Andrews of my immediate acquaintance (the polar-explorer namesake one) ran a Rolemaster game. Standardish medieval framework, featuring the usual quotient of ridiculous semi-British humour, puns and insane party antics. I think it may have been that one where Dylan's character critically fumbled a riding skill, fell off, and rolled a 66 crit on the dismount, coming really absurdly close to death. But it also featured the party mind-controlling a peasant, for reasons lost to history, no wait, now I come to think of it it was in order to force him to dig a grave for the messenger we accidentally killed because he came galloping past us in a Suspicious Manner and we critted fatally on an attempt to stop him somewhat less lethally. (He had nothing whatsoever to do with us or our quest and was a mere item of local colour. Andrew being Andrew, his messenger's badge was a small red fish).

Anyway, we forced said peasant to prepare a grave, causing him to shamble up to the party once finished, spade in hand in the approved American Gothic pose, and utter the immortal line, with all the delivery of a medieval Eccles, "I dugged an hole." This became a catchphrase, not just in its original form, but in its somewhat idiosyncratic grammatical franglement, in a manner not unrelated to LOLcats or doge. I wroted an blog post. I wented to an work. Our students hadded an protest. Our protesters also flunged an things at our VC, in a manner which did its damnedest to undermine the otherwise praiseworthily conducted protests and which has been ruthlessly suppressed, hopefully in the Carrollian sense1. But I digress.

All of this is a vague and pointless preamble to the observation that The Jo had another outbreak of mad l33t carpentry skillz, and maded me an TV cabinet2. Thus:



It is a thing composed of equal parts beauty and utility. It is precisely measured to the dimensions of the various bits of my home theatre system and ever-expanding DVD collection, and has wheels and handles and dinky brass clasps on its cunning back compartment to store acres of electrical spaghetti, and it is bringing me much joy not of only of the utilitarian and organisational variety, but of the warm glow of Nice Friends Made Stuff For Me!

I have Nice Friends. But you knew that, since a lot of them are you.



1 "Here one of the guinea-pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court. (As that is rather a hard word, I will just explain to you how it was done. They had a large canvas bag, which tied up at the mouth with strings: into this they slipped the guinea-pig, head first, and then sat upon it.)
"`I'm glad I've seen that done,' thought Alice. `I've so often read in the newspapers, at the end of trials, "There was some attempts at applause, which was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court," and I never understood what it meant till now.'"


2 Which seems, in fact, to be a Theme of a certain cosmic inevitability. The Evil Landlord did something similar when I was living with him, constructing me a giant TV cabinet which stored not only the home theatre system, but my entire DVD collection, at least for about a week and a half until my hopeless addiction to media acquisition overran the space almost instantly. It is a source of great sorrow to me that my current living room is no way in hell large enough for the original TV cabinet, and I had to leave it behind, thus necessitating the Joannular carpentry outbreak.

medium armour rating

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 12:24 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I had supper with jo&stv the other night, and Jo had recently acquired a cuddly and slightly Cubist blue velvet elephant approximately the size of an actual toddler, i.e. large enough for its trunk to curl lovingly around your neck when you hug it. Apparently I give off a "needs hugs" vibe, because after I'd spent the entirety of watching Interstellar ferociously embracing said elephant, she insisted on donating it to me wholesale. Now I have a blue velvet elephant. My lovely cleaning lady Margaret, who also works for the aforementioned jo&stv, appears to be somewhat taken with said blue velvet elephant, to the point where she invariably and meticulously centres it on my bed after she's made it, regardless of the fact that I habitually cluster it with my plush Cthulhu and fluffy snowy owl on the chest in the corner. (I'm really not a stuffed toy person. Those I retain have particular and specific meaning and have been given to me by particular and specific people, and their function is more memorial than adorable. They thus don't generally merit bed-space, even supposing I actually were an actual teenage girl.)

Jo and I theorise that Margaret is familiar with said blue velvet elephant from its initial days in their house, and is merely externalising her sense of its multi-household significance.



I have christened him Dorian, via an entirely logical if somewhat opaque process which will only make sense to anyone who plays Inquisition and shares my aesthetic, crafting and party composition proclivities to a reasonable extent. He really is the exact colour and texture of ring velvet. Presumably his Tier 2 additions to attack, willpower and electrical resistance will be of use when I need to apply hugs to my insomnia in the small hours of the morning.

I should add, for posterity, that the current Eskom incompetences manifested as load shedding, are particularly maddening to one whose current leisure hours are whiled away by computer gaming. Even though they're predictable under the fairly well-run load shedding schedules, the blackouts are putting a serious crimp in my gaming, and causing me to retreat into reading somewhat grumpishly. On the upside, I've read a lot recently. Reviews to follow.

We Can Do It!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 05:44 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
It may have come to the attention of my more alert and observant readers that I am a happy, geeky bookworm and have quite a lot of books. Really, rather a lot. Enough that, despite the fact that I moved into this house with eight tall bookshelves courtesy of a munificent Evil Landlord and subsequently imported another courtesy of Pam, I still had seven boxes of unshelved books piled in my study. This, too, after a relatively ruthless weeding process chronicled in these very pages. As far as books go, I am unashamed to admit that I have a Problem.

Fortunately, for such problems there are benevolent friends like Jo, who enjoys, by her own admission, a Project, and who possesses not only power tools and the will to use them, but considerably above basic cabinet-making expertise, an actuary's numerical precision, and more organisational skill and energy than is strictly fair or necessary in this imperfect world. As a result of which there has been, of an evening over the last few weeks, a sort of blur of activity in my living room, resulting in piles of planks, a small cloud of sawdust, and a satisfying and slightly bewildering tendency for bookshelves to arise, phoenix-like, from the whirlwind at a rate a smidgen in excess of half a bookshelf per hour. It has also revealed my own predilection for Handmaidening, if there is such a word: I derive an unholy kick out of facilitating efficient systems, and if Jo behind a power drill is anything, it's an efficient system. By the end of the process the balletic precision of our movements would bring a tear to the eye of efficiency experts. It really makes things go a lot faster if there's someone anticipating the process to hand the cabinet-maker tools, nails, planks, pencils, screws, gin-and-tonic, and that vital bit of stuck-together wood she was using to space shelves, so that she doesn't have to stand up or climb down ladders every two minutes.

It made, I have to say, my feminist wossnames incredibly happy. Not just the self-determination of bookshelf building - and I will look at those shelves for ever after with nostalgic joy because Jo built them and I helped - but something about efficient women with power tools. All Rosie the Riveter. Definitely speaking to that bit of me that's only mostly heterosexual, possibly because the patriarchy.

So I have five spanky new bookshelves, and my books are Housed, dammit, and all we have to do now is work through the mutual and perfectly symmetrical guilt feelings that have arisen because Jo feels bad about me paying for the materials for her Project, and I feel bad about all the time she's spent building me bookshelves. We freely admit that these are entirely irrational feelings that have nothing whatsoever to do with the considerable pleasures and achievements of the process, and that the two impulses do cancel each other out. The gin definitely helps.

And, look! Bookshelves! All full of books! (or, to be perfectly accurate, books and DVDs. I have a DVD problem too. Memo to self: Go digital. But not too digital. Because some things need to be tangible, and you can't help friends make furniture for your Kindle files.)

Photo0094

postcolonic

Friday, 13 June 2014 08:46 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Right, well, thank fuck that's done. I emerge from two weeks with my head down on this bloody paper, having just sent 6000-odd words off to my nice ex-supervisor so that she can confirm my argument isn't actually on crack. I am buggered. I've been putting words onto the damned screen for up to six hours a day for two weeks from the midst of a 15-volume pile of critical tomes, while simultaneously writhing with distaste and hating the universe in general and everything in it in particular, with special reference to African film and all its works. It's been very slow and torturous, and I'm still not convinced I'm safe from being ceremonially lynched by a mob of petulant postcolonialists, but the worst is over. Even if there are giant flaws in my argument I'm now editing rather than writing, and it's the writing which is like drawing blood at the moment. In the unsexy non-vampire way.

I suffer from existential crises when doing this sort of thing. I start disbelieving in my own academic existence, and it makes the writing process really rather hard. At least if there are words on the screen for me to work with I have some evidence in favour of my status as tangible and instrumental. Really, a lot of my life is spent as a sort of a wistful academic ghost.

The particular bugger about this bloody paper has been that I've felt impelled to write it to the exclusion of almost everything else. This means that I have not done interesting things to my nice house (newsflash: I still love living on my own even when I hate the universe because academia), or adequately paid attention to my cat, or done any socialising, really, that hasn't entailed jo&stv battering down my door and either plying me with food or dragging me out. Which means there was really rather enjoyable tango at the Crypt on Tuesday, but otherwise not a lot. It's not that I hate everyone, I promise.

I am also on leave for the next ten days, three of which will include an entirely self-indulgent jaunt to Barholomeus Klip, that luxury farmhouse guest lodge thing with the amazing and practically continuous food. I can't really afford this, I'm pre-emptively spending a chunk of my November bonus, but I decline to feel remorse or guilt. Stuff it. I've earned it. Not to mention the fact that it's the end of the first semester and I'm more than somewhat dead on my feet.

So, how is everyone? Are any other Capetonians cordially freezing to death at the moment, or is it just me? It's been icy, down in the 6-degree range, with snow on them thar hills. The air has teeth.  I have unearthed my Giant Coat of Sweepingness and have been sashaying up to campus every morning imagining I'm Sherlock. It adds a certain useful layer of impatient disdain to the interactions with students. I hope you are all well, and warmer than I.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
ursula vernon axolotl

As the above enthusiastic axolotl suggests (it's an Ursula Vernon, of course), I have moved! The nice removals guys whisked me across to Claremont in three hours flat, and I am tootling around the new place cautiously unpacking boxes and putting down roots. Millyuns and millyuns of thanks to all the lovely people who helped me pack over the weekend and move stuff across on Sunday, and to Jo&Stv for additional endeavours with drilling and unpacking and producing champagne. (I'm not sure if it's a good sign that almost the first things I took across to the new place were (a) gin, (b) tonic and (c) new tumblers, to add to (d) the fridge that was delivered on Friday already.) It's actually a slightly scary place, to be a lone single person attempting a move, and wonderful friends are wonderful. Also, various nice neighbours have come to introduce themselves, it feels like a friendly street where everyone looks out for each other.

I still don't have internet, of course, and, rather than producing this post by sheer power of will, I am producing this post by sheer power of leaving the computer at the long-suffering Evil Landlord's, and diving in at intervals to subdue my Tumblr feed. Telkom have variously told me that (a) they have no ADSL ports free in the area, I'll have to wait until one is freed up, (b) they have no ADSL ports free in the area, I'll have to wait until they install new infrastructure in October, and (c) (via a phone call at 8am this morning as I was struggling awake) they're busy with installing my new line at the moment and will let me know by the end of the week. I am somewhat suspicious about (c), but prepared to be pleasantly surprised if necessary.

I am incredibly tired, bruised, aching in every muscle and joint, somewhat confounded by piles of boxes, and pining slightly for want of cat, as I haven't yet moved Hobbit across. But other than that I'm feeling quietly happy, enormously self-contained, and slightly new.

Subject line is Death Cab For Cutie, who are my current driving music, and who are probably the quintessential quirky, wistful alternative band. They're only very occasionally twee.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Being a grown-up is complicated. The last week or so has been a bit of a blur, during which I've spent more time listening to the dismal help-line hold music of insurance companies, internet providers, security companies and Telkom (ritual ptooey) than I actually care to think about. The new place has a landline, but it's something weird called a pre-paid line and isn't upgradable to ADSL, so they'll have to install a new actual ADSL line. Which they can't do yet, because apparently that area has run out of ports. I have to wait until one frees up. This could take months. Things on the to-do list: gently prod the Evil Landlord to unearth from the depths of his study the IBurst modem which came with the original IBurst package which used to supply our internet, and for which he has been stoically paying for the last few years because he's never got around to cancelling it, despite the fact that we have ADSL and he never actually uses the IBurst. If he can find the modem, I can borrow it until Telkom knits new ports out of their nose-hairs, or whatever it is they need to do. Otherwise there will be internet withdrawal, and it's never pretty. I own my internet addiction with a complete absence of shame.

I suppose I shouldn't point fingers at my Evil Landlord about paying an IBurst subscription pointlessly for, ooh, five years now (I got the ADSL when my dad moved to CT, which was in 2009, so it's been a while...), because one of the more positive upshots of today's earful of hold music was that the insurance company noticed I'd been paying a minor bit of insurance on my old Citigolf for over a year after I sold the car, since they apparently didn't cancel it as I asked when I cancelled the main insurance. They are going to refund me. Possibly I can afford a kettle for my spanky new kitchen. Which is good, because tea withdrawal is possibly slightly more ugly than the internet withdrawal, all things considered.

In the Department of my Spanky New Kitchen, I now have a fridge and washing machine, both spanky. Jo came and hand-held me on Sunday while efficient little ladies in Tafelberg Furnishers steered me expertly to the maximum possible expenditure within my budget. (Salespeople are scary, have you noticed? But both appliances on special offer at around R2000 total off their value). They're delivered on Friday. Removals proper happen on Monday. The kitchen chez Evil Landlord is piled with tottering piles of kitchenware as I negotiate the tricky procedure of extricating my stuff from his. This is not assisted materially by my proverbial cheese-brain, which means any selection process is punctuated with treks down the passage to his study, clutching various items and knitted of brow as I try to remember who bought the damned thing in the first place. (His default is that I probably did. This is one of those generous divorces.) My boxes arrive tomorrow. Saturday and Sunday will be devoted to packing; anyone who wishes to come and assist is extremely welcome, I will feed them tea and/or gin as required.

Also, if you've bagsed books from the giveaway piles, please can we arrange for you to collect them or me to deliver them in the next few days? I'm going to need that floorspace...

Isn't it weird that you can hear a song over and over again until it's part of your general musical background and the lyrics are a pop-culture commonplace, and yet the identity of the singer can be a total shock? Who the hell is Jona Lewie? I always assumed the song was from Men Without Hats or Men At Work or some other early 80s all-male outfit not necessarily with "Men" in the title. But I suppose the 80s were also a bit of a blur.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Life got a bit complicated recently, what with mad fraudulent incursions on my credit card (my bank is on it) and the discovery of potentially dodgy moles on obscure portions of my anatomy (my dermatologist is on it). I am also, reluctantly and with trepidation, looking for my own place to rent, thus disrupting a working relationship with the Evil Landlord which has lasted for 15 years, but which has become a somewhat different space-sharing prospect with another human being in the mix. I'm feeling a bit ... beleaguered.

I shall thus distract myself randomly with random things. We keep a notepad stuck to one of the kitchen cupboards, with a stub of pencil balanced precariously on top of it (it only falls off frequently rather than continuously), for purposes of a running reminder list for groceries. While this normally reads, with a moderate degree of sense, things like "Trolls" and "Eggses" and "Earl Grey, dammit!", on occasion (usually following a Sunday night in our kitchen with added jo&stv) it blossoms forth into what I can only describe as cryptic graffiti. I have taken to carefully preserving these effusions for posterity, and the other day found a whole stash in a random pile of paper on my desk, which I have scanned, and which I reproduce for your delectation. (I cannot reproduce the one that read, in shaky trailing letters, "SEND HELP...", because I left it incautiously on my printer, which this morning grabbed it and madly overprinted it with four different entries denoting the $1 attempts of TENSO COM TOKYO to fruitlessly charge my credit card. I apologise for this careless trashing of a possibly priceless artwork. For a given value of "artwork").

The ones I can reproduce are more in the order of a free-form, possibly avant-garde, artistic riff on the genre of shopping list. Thusly:

fridge 1 fridge 2

"Honey" was actually a shopping list item and is actually in my handwriting. I should hasten to report that as yet Chez Extemp/EL is not graced with flamethrowers, trebuchets, robots of any size or a small cow, although all of the above would be handy for my current sense of beleaguerment. Also, I could do with a touch more surreal in my weekly grocery quests. (If "Trolls" aren't surreal enough).

Have a lovely weekend!
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am officially Over 11-hour days. You can keep them. I do not want them, they are skraaaatched. I wish to unsubscribe from their newsletter, which is a nasty and exhausting publication offering little inspiration. Other, that is, than grateful ex-confused first years, who are actually both cute and inspiring at times. All puppy-dog. Their ears droop when they're lost and bewildered, and then you solve all their problems with the laser power of your curriculum skill and fearsome missile array of institutional knowledge, and they bounce around with their tails wagging madly. (Thoroughly mixed metaphors brought to you courtesy of too many computer games, and Roxy).

I could also, may I add, have done without the 3-hour readmission appeals meeting this morning, on account of the awful things that happen to students, and the complete lack of tangible feedback even when we are able to find reasons to re-admit and thereby, presumably, make students happy. Apart from the usual (death of parents, poverty, depression, abortions), this morning we had five separate examples of students with unplanned pregnancies whose babies are now being looked after by parents or in-laws at the other end of the country while the student is studying. I don't know how people do that. I mean, I don't have children, I have only observer knowledge of that mother/child bond, but it must be hideously difficult to live apart from your baby like that. Some people have really sucky lives which make me realise mine isn't really that bad even with 11-hour days.

In the insane morass of registration, orientation and seething seas of student angst, I am grateful for the internet, which keeps me sane. (As do jo&stv, who feed me rosé and ice of an evening, and listen to me with commendable patience while I blither on whingesomely). Today's internet sanity moment is Canada's response to all the wretched stupid ugly Russian anti-gay stuff around the Olympics. I have been reading way too much slash recently for this little gem to allow me to do anything other than laugh until actual tears.



My subject line is still Magnetic Fields, who also keep me sane; said song is invoked both in honour of homoerotic Olympic ad campaigns and the probable cause of unplanned pregnancies, but of my new skirt, which is a pleasing shade of brilliant purple but which trial and error (i.e. wearing it to campus this morning) has revealed as being diaphanous to the point of unwonted revelation. I don't think you can quite see my underwear, but I quite definitely have legs. Who knew? Generally I prefer to keep the actual existence of my legs shrouded in a decent veil of mystery, but being as how there is absolutely no other option, I have simply worn the thing all day with a cheerful acceptance of its less professional aspects. It has caused me surprisingly small amounts of self-consciousness or angst. It's really a very cheerful shade of purple.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
It being Stv's birthday and all, we went out to Overture for supper last night. I feel that it is important and indicative that, if the Salty Cracker crowd could be said to have a favourite default restaurant at which to hang out and celebrate anything at all, it's bloody upmarket and one of the top ten in the country. The waitstaff know us. Stv got free champagne. At in excess of R600 a head for a four-course meal with a wine pairing, that's an expensive neighbourhood joint. (And a bit distant, too, being half an hour's drive away in Stellenbosch). It was a lovely evening, although slightly negative notes were introduced by the following:
  1. It's faculty exam committee season, which means I'd spent the entire day checking and annotating the 635 student records on a 364-page board schedule which is a fraction under 2.5cm thick. This puts me in a strangely zen state composed of equal parts of numerical trance, Machiavellian structural insight, advisor empathy and seething resentment, and incidentally renders me completely exhausted and glandular to the max. I was only really capable of conversation by the end of the first course and my second glass of wine. Overture was a kindly panacea to the day's ills, but conversely I wasn't really in the best state to enjoy it properly.
  2. We may be overdoing the neighbourhood joint five-star expensive restaurant thing to the point of over-exposure. The food was, as always, excellent, but I didn't think it hit its usual plane of dizzy high. Lovely tomato risotto (they always do great risotto), but slightly arb green bean salad with unidentifiable duck, and bland square chunks of mostly tender pork. Fellow diners' mileage may vary, you are perfectly free to blame my exhausted state rather than any diminution in quality, but I wasn't blown away. Beautiful evening on the terrace, though, exquisite dusk clouds, and as always the best sort of company.
  3. It is possibly fortunate that my tiredness was sufficient for me not to rise to the provocation offered by a fellow guest, who during the course of conversation incautiously offered a statement to the effect that she thinks Stephenie Meyer writes well. Them's fighting words, where I come from. It is my professional opinion that Twilight's stylistic and narrative infelicities are only marginally better than its gender politics in general loathsomeness. In default of the spirited debate and righteous suppression I would normally offer to such provocation, I present, as threatened, the blog which picks Meyer's grammar apart, with maximum snark. Fortuitously, today also gave rise randomly to this Slate article, which does statistical/linguistic analysis comparing three hugely popular texts - Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. It's a fascinating comparison, and in particular the tables which look at adjectives are extremely telling. Viz:





    The thing which immediately strikes me: Collins's characteristic adjectives and adverbs are generally more sophisticated, but they also relate to complex states and actions and very frequently to abstractions. Rowling's are very action-oriented, but you can see her younger audience intentions in their comparative simplicity, with a focus on straightforward emotional states which tend to reflect action. Meyer's are definitely less sophisticated than those used by Collins, but they're also almost entirely emotional, and when they're physical it's physicality which largely reflects or responds to emotion. This echoes the frustration I feel when reading Twilight (and, for the record, I've read the entire series twice and supervised a couple of graduate theses on the books, if I diss them it's from full knowledge and exposure), because really, when you get down to it, nothing much happens in them. You drift passively around in Bella's head while she angsts and reacts and feeeeeeeeeeels. The language is not accomplished at the structural level, frequently obvious and clumsy and weirdly unfocused (my undergrads can do better), but it's the pacing, characterisation and plot which are really problematical, and which are heartily outdone by almost any piece of fan fiction I have read recently. I stick by my assertion. Even without getting me started on the gender politics, Meyer does not write well.

Rantage and random analysis brought to you courtesy of my really rather strong feelings about this, did you notice? And by the sure and horrible knowledge that in about twenty minutes I go to meet my four-hour meeting doom. Doooooom! At least the energy from all that ranting has my blood buzzing enough to mostly compensate for my state of over-fed, mildly hung-over sleep deprivation. Now with extra glands. Sigh.

Subject line is still Arcade Fire, "Wasted Hours", from The Suburbs. It's a ridiculously catchy, lilting, gentle tune which was playing in the car this morning and which has thoroughly colonised my head. It's curiously soothing, particularly after losing a day to board schedule checking. One feels they understand.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I've been on a bit of a quest over the last year or so to update the artwork in my living space, which has hitherto tended towards slightly amateur block-mounting of random posters, some of which date back to undergrad and damned well look their age. This is something of a solitary quest: the EL's indifference to home furnishings of a decorative nature verges on the sublime, and his input stops abruptly at the heraldic shield over the mantlepiece. My own taste is very much towards pop art, often with a fan twist, and I have made merry hay with various internet art sites and the local framer, with results which would probably cause exquisite pain in anyone with actual artistic chops such as I do not in any way possess. However, I am deeply happy with my Ursula Vernon and Martin Leman cats, giant greeny-blue stylised owl, Firefly silhouette collection and those dreamy, alienated superheroes in the atmosphere above Earth. This particular picture is in my bedroom, generously sized and properly framed (the slightly small image is all I could include, because of the artist's completely legitimate protection of her work on her website). Noelle Stevens also produces Nimona, which is possibly my currently favourite web comic; I adore the slightly spiky, faux-naive precision of her images.

I love her art, but I also loved the theme here: happy introversion, with that fascinating colour inversion which puts all the madly partying people in sombre blues and purples, and the girl/cat/tea/book ideal in warm orange and peach. It encapsulates everything that is currently true about my ability to interact with people, particularly at the moment with the merry gang of depression/fatigue/glandular fever/sinusitis having its wicked way with my hapless form. (Not nearly as savagely as a few weeks ago, but there are lingering traces).

See, the weird thing is that I am predisposed to quite like people. My job requires that I engage empathetically with a continual string of distressed students, and after six years of this I still like students and wish to improve their lives to the best of my ability. I'm good at empathy. My therapist, poor lady, spends half of her life hacking through the thickets of what I think other people are feeling in order to get at my own heavily-protected feelings, and we still have that argument about the extent to which it is ok to prioritise other people's needs over your own. (For the record: more often than she thinks it is). I love my friends, and stand firmly by my assertion that I have the loveliest friends in the known universe - and in that I include the bunch of you who hang out here and who I have never actually met in person, or who I see only every few years when we coincide continents. I love dinners with friends, mutual tea-drinking sessions, role-playing games, movie evenings. I have been known to cautiously enjoy parties. But, ye gods, it has to be at carefully spaced intervals, and on my own terms.

Part of the problem is, I think, crowds. Students are probably okay because they come through my door mostly singly or in pairs; they don't overwhelm me with input. I don't deal well with having to force my way through herds of gazelles in those mad fifteen minutes between lectures, and generally try to time any movements out of my office not to collide with them. But even if I have to navigate campus crowds, I know it's temporary - I can psych myself up for it, and pace my endurance knowing that it's finite. That's the other half of it - having, in the immortal idiom of the internet, sufficient spoons. Dealing With People is a finite allocation of energy. At the end of the day it tends to be gone, which is why I don't socialise much during the week. I can do parties, particularly if they're full of people I know, and alcohol helps, but I need to get a good run-up at mental preparation, and I've left a hell of a lot of parties very early over the last couple of years.

So, this giant chunk of introspection brought to you courtesy of the fact that I told my book club last night that I'd be taking a sabbatical from it for a while, because I can't do it any more. Part of the problem is that I'm not reading book club books, which sit in my bookshelf reproachfully and weigh on my conscience, but it's also about energy and groups. It's only six or seven people, but there tends to be lots of wine and chat, multiple streams of discussion and catch-up and laughter, and while I enjoy it in many ways, it also exhausts me. They're lovely ladies, but over the last few months I've missed several sessions, and have increasingly had to exert supreme mental discipline to persuade myself to attend the few I did make. I don't use socialising to recharge; it drains energy rather than bolstering it. It also, regardless of how much I like the people, makes me anxious, often only subliminally, but when I get home after any social evening I always require at least an hour of something solitary and soothing - computer games or reading fanfic the current favourites - before I can actually unwind enough to sleep. This does not work well with either insomnia or fatigue.

So, yes. I love that picture. It shows the happy introvert. Better still, it shows the happy introvert quietly recharging, so that when energy levels permit, I can leap out into the world and engage with all the people I really like. Because introversion is not misanthropy, and there's only so much you can get from cats.

Subject line from early Eurythmics, specifically "Savage", which is what was randomly playing off my MP3 player in the car this morning, but which is one of my favourites of theirs despite its possible slight dodginess. You can play with me there sometimes, if you catch me in the mood.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I have just found three CDs in the side pocket of my Ipad case. They are unmarked, save for a small, cryptic barcode sticker. They do not play when put into a normal drive. I have absolutely no recollection of these - where they came from, who gave them to me, what they're for. I have been reading enough dodgy fanfic that I am half convinced they're a sneaky hacker ploy, and the seven seconds the one spent in my drive making meditative and abortive read noises to itself is in fact the herald of my entire system melting into slag, because unlikely superviruses. This is ridiculous. I know my memory is bad, but this is ridiculous. Who's given me CDs lately? Why? What are they? How long have they been there? What is the meaning of life?

In the Department of Memory, Lack of, Total, there's also Bartholomew's Klip. We had that lovely weekend there over Easter - five-star luxury on a game farm with nothing to do except go on desultory game drives and consume early tea and muffins and biscuits shaped like rabbits, brunch, high tea, sundowners and godlike snacks, dinner, and the shortbread and decanter of sherry in your room when you went to bed. It was bloody marvellous. The group represented that happy confluence of 8 people any one of whom was interesting to talk to in their own right and who were downright hilarious in combination, which is pretty much the definition of a good weekend, although owing to the booze flowly-freeing more or less continually, it was also extremely argumentative. (In a more than somewhat entertaining way, although I do find myself wondering what the hapless staff thought). Jo and I don't agree about feminism, but a bottle of champagne soothes all ideological ills. The food was beyond excellent. Vi pwned me at Scrabble.

I've just remembered that there are a bunch of photos of the place on my camera, and have been since Easter. A full month later, here are some, in a spirit of memorial penitence. (There are a few more on Flickr).

DSCN2645 DSCN2644 DSCN2627

Lovely old farmhouse, lots of garden space, weaver nests in the tree outside the dining room, and if you hang around on the wicker chairs on the patio reading dodgy fanfic on your Ipad for long enough, someone brings you a gin and tonic.

The landscape is also very beautiful, in that sparse, self-contained sort of way I love about the Karoo.

barts klip stitch

There were inordinate varieties of buck, but my camera skills were not up to capturing them. Also, renosterveld, and heart-warming stories about endangered tortoises and invisible Cape leopards. And my dawn and dusk camera skills have not entirely deserted me.

DSCN2636

We slid in on an off-season half-price, and booked out the whole house (five double bedrooms for eight of us), and it was expensive but bloody worth it. A++. Will spend absurd money on again.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I am sternly informed by my fellow New Year celebrants from last night that I am not in fact permitted to consider the burglary the first act of the new year, but the last act of the old one. To which I say, gee, thanks, 2012. Way to exit with an over-dramatic flounce like a complete arsehole.

We had the usual giant multi-course New Year meal for eight of us last night at jo&stv's, which was just getting into gear around Course 3 (those amazing Vietnamese rice-paper spring rolls Jo made after stealing my cookbooks for inspiration) and my third glass of champagne (needle indicates "slightly incoherent but passionate holding forth about fan fiction" on the drunk-o-metre) when a complicated concatenation of events caused Karen to phone Jo to tell her to tell me that the house had been broken into. It appears the bastards kicked down the front door, rushed in while the alarm wailed, stole the television (again) and Winona (my netbook - woe!) and ran away quickly before the armed response arrived, which they apparently did in under three minutes. ADT hauled in the police, but repeated phoning of my cell was bootless as it was in another room and we were making a fair amount of noise. (Phoning the Evil Landlord was absolutely bootless as he's hiking somewhere in the Cedarburg and is likely to be entirely without either reception or the actual phone). So the nice policewoman apparently sat in the house for an hour twiddling her thumbs in between phoning down the entirety of the list of numbers tacked up next to the phone, which is how she reached Karen, who phoned Jo.

It all makes perfect sense, really. For a given value of "sense". Given that this was at about 10.30pm, my apologies to anyone else who was randomly phoned. (Including the Evil Landlord's sister, who came rushing through from Paarl as a result of a garbled voicemail just as everything was over and we were departing to resume our rightful year-end gourmandising). The Nice Next-Door Neighbour is of the opinion that the unfortunate officer was prodded into the above slightly excessive action by Mrs. Cake, who was rampaging around in her usual busybody fashion when I arrived, and it does seem in character.

I am beyond pissed off. New Year's Eve is logical if you're a burglar, everyone is either out or drunk, but it's bloody rude, and we ended up delaying Robbi and Vi's delectable smoked ribs main course by over an hour. I was deeply attached to Winona, and hadn't backed up the last two hours of LARP writing I did on her, which is making me spit. The TV was six months old, we'd just replaced it after the last burglary, and I shudder to think how the insurance premiums are going to skyrocket. The front door is trashed, the security gate is trashed, and I spent the night at Jo&Stv's rather than alone in a house I couldn't lock properly, fretting about the cats and the unspecified hordes doubtless carrying the house contents off into the night. (Fortunately they didn't).

The marvellous handyman sort of person Claire's dad unearthed for me has just left, having hauled himself out to work cheerfully on New Year's day for a complete stranger, and equally cheerfully accepted whatever the hell I wanted to pay him as he didn't think he'd achieved much. (I showered him with everything in my wallet). Since the security gate tends to the cheap and nasty his efforts to repair the lock were fruitless, but he has nailed the security gate to the front door frame, which means I'll have to do all entrance and exits via the back courtyard and the shed for a bit, but am unlikely to be murdered in my bed tonight unless they bring Grond or a tank or something. I feel very maiden-in-tower. Fetch me flowing golden locks and a prince, stat.

There is probably a stern Dutch Uncle talk I shall be giving the Evil Landlord in the near future, once he's staggered back from his four-day hike, which will entail pointed requests for a better security gate on the front door, a serious repair to the door frame, which has now been multiply splintered by callous door-kickers-down, and something baroque involving electric fencing. This morning's breakfast with Jo&Stv featured blueberry pancakes*, on the grounds that there were blueberries left over from last night's dessert, and a spirited debate on the relative merits of moats, bear traps, bears, bears in boats**, alligators, sentry guns, and something more lethal which explodes the heads of any unauthorised personnel over 20kg in weight, suggesting we'd be fine barring incursions of midget ninjas or (Jo's rather rude contribution) Hobbit.

I need to do That Post, all year-end reflective and resolvey, but right now I'm too narked. However - and I say this with something of forced cheer - happy new year.



* New recipe I wanted to try for the hell of it. I approve.
** I have no idea. We did conclude that the bear traps would probably simply sink.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
My poor little Mermaid finally died. The Mermaid was, lest this sound unduly surreal, the white CitiGolf I've been driving for the last eight years or so, who earned her sobriquet from the mystic and largely inexplicable inscription on her number plate. Perhaps as a result of this she evinced an uncanny attraction to water over the time I drove her, not always with the best results given the traditional workings of the infernal combustion engine. She always had a tendency to run her cooling system dry and overheat, and over the years I've had the radiator replaced entirely, had insane quantities of water removed from the distributor cap after an unusually deep puddle experience, had water poured into my boots via the front panel as a result of rain becoming cached under the bonnet, and had the bodywork reconditioned because of the exuberant leaks which tended to manifest in jolly Cape Town storms. She finally expired a few days ago, completely in character, when the leaky head gasket I've been pussyfooting around all year got to the point where it let water into the system, and she started driving in a jerky, hiccuppy sort of way which definitely Boded. Poor Mermaid. Always yearning for the ocean in a doomed and futile sort of fashion.

So last night the nice man from Ray's magical auto-mechanic place came round, and after confirming my diagnosis ("I really shouldn't be driving her, should I?" "Uh...no.") bought her off me on the turn, pressing oodles of cash into my slightly fluttering hands, detached me from the registration papers and a receipt, and drove her, hiccuping gently, away, bound for a complete re-conditioning and resale at his capable hands. I hadn't expected it so quickly, and had to do an extremely speedy purge of the interior of all the random guff which piles up over time. (The yield: gorilla lock, mermaid charm from rear-view mirror, bottle of sunscreen, bottle of engine oil for babying the leaky head with, eight shopping bags, an exploded map book, my now entirely useless campus parking disk, a coke bottle full of water for babying the leaky cooling system with, a metric buttload of random paper bits those poor sods handout at traffic lights, five nursery plastic sheets for carrying plants on, a flourishing crop of mould in the boot, and that umbrella I thought I'd lost last winter, thus continuing the watery theme).

Watching her toddle off, I felt completely bereft. A car driven over time becomes a personality, both an organism for whose continued well-being one is responsible and a trusted compatriot who bears one's chattels and one's lazy form tirelessly about the show. Her possibly dodgy Dagon-worshipping traits aside, the Mermaid has served me faithfully; she's ported me around the city, up the campus hill daily, over the Neck repeatedly into Hout Bay to visit my father, on tarred roads and dirt, in hail and pelting winter rain and February heatwaves and those amazing Cape Town winds which try to playfully blow you off the freeway. She hasn't done much distance stuff, but has successfully ambled out to Arniston a couple of times. She had a game little heater but no air-con, the world's most terrible gearbox, and a faulty passenger-door interior handle which used to randomly entrap passengers to no discernible pattern, causing amusing levels of panicked scrabbling. (I always chose to interpret it as a sign of affection, a reluctance to relinquish the cherished passenger, but I doubt they felt it). She didn't have the personality of my Biscuit Tin, but I was fond of her, and used mutate "Mermaid" into "Merrymaid" at odd moments, and drive around singing Gilbert and Sullivan.

I feel as though I've carelessly allowed something fragile and complicated with whom I have a relationship of trust to slip out of my control. Did I damage her carelessly? Will she be OK? Will her next owner look after her properly? Shouldn't I have vetted them, like you do for dogs? Do I over-invest in inanimate objects?

So I'm carless again, and slightly tearful. Various confluences of the Cosmic Wossnames have determined that I'm trying to find myself a Toyota Yaris, if only because it narrows the field to manageable levels which stave off panic attack, and in defiance of the fact that it's a silly name. The Jo, with ineffable kindliness and self-sacrifice, has volunteered to haul me around to various auto dealers on Friday, and to pat my hand gently as I try to grapple with the technicalities of test-drives and finance and what have you. There's a sheaf of car ad printouts on my desk and a page of annoyed scrawls which determine, after horrible hold music has caused the ear-wax to melt and dribble out of my ears, that it's not going to be worth going through my bank, as they hedge their loans about with sharp stakes and unpalatable restrictions. As a result of the indefinitely-delayed adulthood occasioned by indefinite grad studenthood, this is the first time I've had to do this. I'm in a state of wibble.

However, this does mean that the state of fatigued uselessness which has dogged me for the last year and a half, may finally be lifting. The things I needed to do by the end of this year included a new car, a driver's licence and a new agent for the French house. I have a learner's, a car plan which will by gum by a car in jig time, and a contract from the new agent in my inbox. Two and a half out of three ain't bad.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
There's a piece of Harry Potter fanfic I read lo, these many moons ago, about which I can remember nothing except that it featured Draco Malfoy on the run through Muggle England by train. (It may, on mature reflection, have been an A. J. Hall). At some point his train stops in the middle of nowhere, and a soothing voice on the public address system advises passengers that there will be a slight delay because "there is a sheep lodged in the high-tension cables." I always thought this was pure hyperbole. Hah.

Today my otherwise calm and well-planned trek from Golders Green to Kingston was stopped for a total of about half an hour at two stations on the Northern Line, because (a) "they're still having that bit of trouble at Belsize Park" (precisely what kind of trouble history does not relate), (b) "the Fire Brigade are examining Chalk Farm station", and (c) "there's something stuck under the rails in the tunnel." It's a little disconcerting to be told all change, this train has been discontinued, please cross the platform to the other train, oops, sorry, that's also been discontinued, please cross the platform back to the first train, which has now morphed from the desired Charing Cross iteration to one that goes via Bank and is thus perfectly useless for purposes of Waterloo. (And what's with a station called "Bank", anyway? I don't know if it's meant to be taken in the financial or geographical sense, but either way, it's a sad failure of imagination).

It is, I suppose, faintly inevitable that passing through Mornington Crescent repeatedly for several days should cause hallucinatory fragments of the game to circle vaguely and continuously through my skull.

I managed in the end to change at Camden Town without undue trauma, and there was a lovely taxi at Kingston Station who took me and my suitcase (which is, I have to say, doing that inexplicable suitcase thing of becoming heavier and more overfull despite the fact that I'm actually taking stuff out of it rather than adding) to the B&B. It's a slightly downmarket B&B, rooms not en suite, but chintzy and comfy and right on the mighty river Thames, which this evening looked like this, with added swans, sculls and vapour trails:



Achievement Unlocked: Visit All London-Resident Ex-Boyfriends Whose Names Begin with A. (My romantic history has some strangely specific trends, at least in the geo-alphabetical sense). I had lovely lunches with lovely people on Monday and Tuesday, and [livejournal.com profile] egadfly and Iza were princely hosts (the latter allowing me to feel useful by assisting her to cut up and laminate untold oodles of stuff for her class full of teeny titchy kiddies, which is absolutely the closest I care to get to kiddies, teeny-titchy, for the use of, en masse, and was rather fun).

Oh, yes. *speaks urgently into Secret Service wrist-mike, à la Chuck*: [livejournal.com profile] wolverine_nun, I am happy to report that the bok has bumpied. Repeat: the bok has bumpied. *skulks off*.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Hooray! I am back in the familiar embrace of Winona, with all my logins automatic, instead of having to type the wretched things in manually on my mother's computer. I miss my own virtual space. I am also much in favour of Virgin trains, which are currently trundling me happily towards Euston with a power point and a table for Winona and easily-accessible internets, with no greater drawbacks than occasional fainting fits in the wireless connection, and a slight tendency to double-type when we go over a bump. Ain't the future wonderful.

I had a truly lovely week in Sedbergh with my lovely mother, and have now sadly left her to her pre-term preparations for the 71 teenage girls who descend on Wednesday. My mental image is of her manning the bunkers wearing an army helmet and an expression of grim determination. She does, however, send love to any of you lot who are acquainted with her.

It is also the start of another month, which is (a) terrifying on account of how the year is doing that acceleration thing, (b) means I missed [livejournal.com profile] wolverine_nun's spanky birthday party on Saturday, woe, and (c) obligated me to pay my intellectual debts. Unsuspecting sources from whom my subject lines have ruthlessly nicked euphonious words over the month of August are as follows:

  • 1st August: one of the more crescendo-to-silly bits of the Arithmetic Song from the Doctor Seuss Song Book, a copy of which I joyously possess. It's actually surprisingly atonal and tricky music to play, but the inherent insanity of the lyrics makes me very happy.
  • 6th August: the Obligatory David Bowie quote, here, of course, from "Life on Mars" in rather nicely layered commentary on Curiosity's perfect landing. The ineffable satisfaction with which a quote clicks into place on several levels simultaneously is... well, ineffable.
  • 10th August: Charles Dickens, the opening Chancery bit from Bleak House, in which he is sustainedly and beautifully rude about lawyers.
  • 14th August: you should have spotted this one - pretty much my statement of weather-related creed from "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", which was written for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid by one of the world's great song-writing duos, Burt Baccharach and Hal David. Those guys wrote great music, particularly for piano rendition. Hal David, by an unpleasant co-incidence, died a couple of days ago.
  • 19th August: a somewhat prescient reference to The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, since, while I have neither seen nor read the work concerned, I have spent the last week rather dementedly catching up on my YA girly literature from the library in the boarding house. This has involved a slightly gruesome amount of paranormal romance in addition to teen fantasy and a bucketload of Meg Cabot. Meg Cabot is fun - funny, acute and surprisingly well written. As a bonus, scientific experimentation suggests I can whack through a Cabot novel in about an hour and a half, which means that the total number of books I've read in the last week is... *counts on fingers* ... somewhere slightly in excess of fifteen. I feel much more frivolous now.
  • 20th August: a horrible pun mashing up the conference venue with the sort of agony-column state I was in after completely screwing up that first conference paper. My second paper is much shorter and more ruthlessly shaped, and I am poised to watch myself like a hawk for unnecessary elaboration.
  • 23rd August: dear Bilbo, slightly drunkenly at his birthday party, quoted in mitigation of the slightly drunken ability of a select cohort of academics to correctly remember the quote at the after-party.
  • 30th August: William Wordsworth, naturally, from "The Prelude". Sticking a pin randomly into "The Prelude" at almost any point will yield a quote useful for heading posts about sight-seeing in the Lake District.
I'm in London for a couple of days, crashing with [livejournal.com profile] egadfly, and lunching with various peoples who are being very kind about my feeble flutterings at the idea of navigating London with a giant suitcase in tow. I go through to Kingston for the conference on Wednesday, and then head back to CT on Sunday. I feel very globe-trottery.

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