Just possibly I am facing this with a slightly greater equanimity than might be the case, but on the other hand, possibly not.
Work is fairly frantic with various rather pressing things having turned up during my absence.
On top of which, I am supposed to be giving a commentary at a workshop on Friday on a draft book chapter which at present only exists in rough note form, and which I anyway only got at the weekend.
I have been invited to contribute to a group blog and while in principle I am all for doing this, this is not the moment at which I sit down to the task with a merry song on my lips and a feeling that I have all the time in the world to collect my ideas and express them happily.
A paper which started out as a brief panel presentation at an event a couple of months ago developed into a 'please tidy up and expand for publication in our online journal' and this seems to be involving me in a certain amount of irritation, such as the editor coming back to me today after previous rounds of editoriality and saying that they have been told something that if true I probably need to work into my text, or at least revise one of my statements, which I actually didn't think was correct, but have felt obliged to check in the various relevant published works, and as far as I can see what is actually involved here is somebody adding 2 and 2 and coming up with giraffe by misunderstanding the implication of one term in its particular historical and cultural context, and then combining it with another phenomenon of a slightly later period in order to produce something that has the evidential status of 'bazaar gossip'.
Then I am suddenly being asked for abstract of forthcoming talk with some urgency, when they have had months to indicate that they would like this by, oh, around now. (Abstract that is that I hadn't yet written, though I have now.)
These are all very first-world problems, but, on top of my not feeling 100% well with vague and intermittent symptoms that don't constitute me sick enough to get off work and existing commitments, aaaaarghsome.
I was not entirely prepossessed by the dermatology clinic at London Teaching Hospital last week, since, although it was no longer in a building large swathes of which were being closed down and echoing around it, it was in a really unwelcoming hole and corner space on the floor over the clap clinic, with the receptionist concealed behind the door, a queue across the doorway to see her, and everything seemed really disorganised. I will, however, concede that I did manage to get seen (by a doc who did not seem to have had prior access to my notes) within 15-20 minutes of arrival.
I am also in a 'financial transactions badly aspected' phase, and while none of this is actually critical and it is not as though I have the bailiffs at the door due to these various instances of inefficiency, it has involved more time than I like listening to hold music and please hang on messages, repetitive phone conversations, and naggy emails.
Would my dearios not have imagined that, two months late and counting, I would have had paid my expenses for being Guest Speaker at Ottawa conference? Ha!
There is new system at work whereby instead of minor sums coming out of petty cash with proferred receipts as necessary, all expense claims have to be put in the same way and signed off by line manager. Our LM is currently away so I got a minor matter of a taxi fare signed off by someone who used to be my LM before the reshuffle, who, it turns out, is not authorised to sign off on that account.
Also I am having Immense Faff with Financial Institution which already has Massive Incompetence Form, in which people give me the wrong information as to why they are calling me, are not giving me pertinent information, and signally failing to transfer my money that they happen to be holding to the place where I would like it.
Added unto which, I am trying to find a pillow that suits my requirements (non-down, fairly flat) and discover that the various purveyors of beds and bedding along Tottenham Court Road have masses of cushions and jolly throw pillows and snazzy pillowcases but are really coy about committing to just plain ol' pillows that you can then put your existing cases on, and seem to have very limited ranges.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2189783.htm
- Current Music:Barrett Strong, Money and Me
Email from somebody who is research assistant to A Clueless Senior Academic, on a wholly-work-related topic, to my home address.
Am prepared to bet that ACSA said to research assistant, contact the knowledgeable and helpful Dr Oursin with this question about a specific collection of archives -
Without, however, giving the RA my work email contact, so no doubt they googled for me and got my personal website.
RA does not write very well (mutter, grumble, shakes antimacassar, what are young scholars today coming to).
On the surface, the question is, are bits of the collection missing, which yes, there are certain things not there, this is the nature of personal papers, they seldom survive in their entirety -
But I suspect that what the question is REALLY about is concerning a ripperology-type sensationalist factoid about the person in question and have the records of person's (alleged) SEKKRIT DODGY RESEARCH been expurgated? And not why no luv-letters, family holiday snaps, etc.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2175722.htm
I will concede that it is probably never a good idea to click on the links in those spam emails that Abebooks send one, and that one can't automatically ditch in the Junk folder because one does sometimes buy books from them.
All of 4 of them by women, and 3 of those are beloved children's classics (but wot no Little Women???)
Okay, this seems to represent one person's idiosyncratic and MANLY tastes, but I think there is a difference between '50 books that I consider to be classics' and '50 classic books and why you should read them'.
I am not going to force anybody to read George Eliot or the Brontes or Jane Austen or or or [insert here numerous names of fantastic women writers] or insist that they enjoy them, but really.
Am a bit o tempora o mores to come across not one, but TWO reviews of new books which riff off of beloved children's classics in today's Guardian Review section, one of which is in fact a repeat offence and a sequel to previous riff/rip off of bcc. The New World – Andrew Motion's second Treasure Island sequel (with added dodgy representations of Native Americans), and Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders: Transplanting E Nesbit's much-loved characters into the trenches (are the original characters 'much-beloved'? except for the Bastables, I find Nesbit's characters can be a bit stock and thin).
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2169283.htm
There was the case of Jamie Oliver's revolting addition of tomatoes to kedgeree.
Further kedgeree horror in today's Guardian Weekend: Breakfast of champions: Florence Nightingale’s kedgeree: A version of this classic breakfast dish was created for the famous nurse by one of Queen Victoria’s cooks Which includes - can I get an ugh? - parmesan. And croutons.
And no seasoning which would give it the remotest allusive reference to curry, which apparently the Deadly Nightlight loved. Where be the cayenne, we ask?
Plus, it apparently advocates serving the fish, topped by the egg yolk + parmesan, on top of the rice, rather than mingling them all together.
When you're at the discussion stage of a seminar or conference panel and somebody asks a question which suggests that All They Know About The Subject was gleaned by skim-reading an article in Journal of Things Misheard In A Pub some while ago, or possibly that they are simply free-associating -
- and which is -
a) pretty much completely tangential to what the paper/panel was actually about;
b) something on which one, as a member of the audience rather than the speaker or panel member knows Rather A Lot
- but what they have come out with is such a tangled mess of misapprehensions that one hardly knows where to start unpicking and disentangling, plus it would be completely hijacking discussion of the actual paper/panel.
Speaker did point out, a shade wearily, that it was something on which there was already A Good Deal of Scholarship, which was why they were doing something entirely different.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2163352.htm
[M]oving Gwendolen on beyond Eliot's ending into the liberating world of fin-de-siecle Bohemianism and allying her to the suffragist movement, the author replaces Deronda's Zionism with a moral cause that sits more comfortably, if predictably, alongside her heroine's story.
The RONGNESS, it BURNZZZ.
Does this not, my dearios, strike one as of a tremendous presentist banality?
Though really, you've got to admit that this sounds like a classic instance of 'the good bits are not original* and the original bits are not good'.
What is this thing that this thing is that is all about people rewriting classic novels from the pov of a character (who, in this particular example, gets swathes of her own pov in the original, so it's not like giving a voice to the silenced) or updating the story to the twenty-teens, and so on? It's almost like people can't think of new stories (and while there may be only however many plots there are only, it's possible to mix those up and do something that doesn't depend on something somebody already wrote).
And on 'we have been here before' 'I married myself', wasn't there an extended episode on precisely this theme in Doonesbury, some while ago (character was Marcia)?
Okay, my dearios, my dr rdrz will know that the words 'hidden' or 'secret' in a headline pertaining to libraries or archives or, really, a lot of other things, will set the peeves into a frenzy.
'Secret' does not mean 'O, I've never heard of these, they are new and strange to me, someone must have been withholding information!'
'Off the beaten track'*=/='secret'
I am hedjog, hear me *SIGH*.
*And honestly, can we consider Westminster, trendy Clerkenwell, the London School of Economics, Aldermanbury bang in the middle of the City of London, the Royal Festival Hall, or Bloomsbury, 'off the beaten track'? I'm only surprised he doesn't include a certain institution slap bang across the way from Euston Station, but perhaps that's near enough to the BL to be considered on the beaten track?
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2139269.htm
For reasons which are perhaps obvious, there has not really been any culinary activity this weekend, although there was pheasant and lentil soup for Friday supper and I have just popped a 3 Malts and Sunflower Seed loaf into the oven.
Did my other panel today - not sure how it went because it's hard to tell when you're actually on one, also the way it was framed was not quite in tune with My Thorts on the panel topic. However, I got in my obligatory Mitchison plug.
I then failed to get into the following panel of my first choice, as by the time I had got out of mine and got myself organised the queue was massive and I was several behind the last person they squeezed in. I did get into my second choice but found the room acoustics unhelpful particularly as there was apparently a film being shown in the adjacent room.
I then did a little final wander about before dragging myself home (actually this was less painful than might have been as I was v lucky with DLR & Tube connections).
Annoying history of feminism FAIL in passing comment in a review in the Observer on that programme about women in WWI: 'What Ms Adie failed to tackle, and only because it's such a gargantuan question, was why it was that feminism took a good 50 years to be reborn.', which is thoroughly AAAAARGH I don't even, because does Euan Ferguson think that equalisation of divorce law (1923), the 'flapper vote' (1928), various legislation relating to the rights of mothers and children, birth control, the abolition of marriage bars, etc, simply dropped as the gentle dew from heaven???
I find this creepy, because as a child I had statue-related nightmares: Statues of the great and good across the capital and Manchester will be able to chat to passers-by thanks to smartphone technology.
And I may return to this when able to brain more effectively: are such 'bibliomemoirs' a sign of an increasingly superficial literary culture or vital guides for a public swamped by choice? Or, can you say 'false dichotomy' and 'it's all more complicated'?
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2137299.htm
Am feeling grumpy and misanthropic. This was partly set off by dealing with the people who are organising, for some value of the word organising, my transatlantic jaunt next month, and frankly, if they were setting up a whelk-stall, I would be grassing them up to the nearest Environmental Health Officer stat.
I am also feeling less than wheeeee! about Loncon. This is partly simply because I am at that stage where even something that in other circumstances would be a change and a treat is Yet Another Weekend which is not a nice dull ordinary weekend at home when I can collapse into domestic routine. Since return from last transatlantic trip there have been, I think, precisely two nice ordinary weekends when I have not been working/conferencing/away from home, and there is no prospect of another until after return from the next one. Can I get an AAAAAARGH?
Also am feeling a O Dear The Noise! and The People! about Loncon, even though there are people I dearly want to see I fear that a) this will be for 10 seconds apiece tops and b) conversation will be stymied by ambient noise (which is getting to be an issue for me) and c) that is if I even manage to find them in the throng.
Plus, have heard not a dickybird of preliminary discussion anent either of my panels.
On top of which there are various life admin things adding to the general sense of frazzle.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2135948.htm
This irritates me. Particularly when the ceiling for the designation 'Compulsive Book Hoarder' is a measly 1000.
I don't really think this article makes the necessary distinction between 'book hoarding' and people who keep books because Research! and Re-reading! and Future Reading! Sometimes I buy books either because who knows when I'll see another copy at affordable price or in order to have in case of future urgent desire to read or just running out of anything else to read.
I take bags of books to the local charity shops from time to time, I don't just sit on the ever-increasing pile - though I was looking at the shelves recently and thinking I might clear out some of the deadwood that I'm unlikely to read/re-read ever.
But I'm not sure there is a such a thing as 'too many books' except in the context of the contingencies of space to put them in.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2126190.htm
Someone asking about the current location of a particular collection that was obliged to find a new home, via the FaceBook page set up at the time of the threat to its existing home a couple of years back.
The first four hits (including the relevant Wikipedia entry) if you google for 'The - -' refer to its current location.
I don't even.
ETA Also, people who post conference CFPs without giving the date of the actual conference.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2123946.htm
I heard today about a young man who took his girlfriend on a romantic trip abroad, and when they were in a particularly romantic location, proposed in full formal style* -
In a public place, with people passing to and fro.
This is perhaps not so bad as the chap who set up a surprise party to propose, since, as this was a romantic foreign spot, they were presumably at least strangers who didn't know either of the couple rather than their entire social circle.
Is this public performative proposing becoming a thing?
What this actually reminded me of - 'I will orchestrate a SURPRISE for my beloved, of course she will be thrilled and delighted' - was a query addressed to Dr Petra Boynton's agony aunt column in the Daily Telegraph:
'Shall I surprise my girlfriend with an escort so we can have a threesome?'
An exquisitely tactful codfish was applied.
*Perhaps, with all this down on one knee proferring a ring retro-behaviour , the appropriate response would be 'Sensible as I am of the honour you do me, you must ask dear papa for his blessing first.'? (Rushes round corner, texts dear papa to say NO! NO! BLESSING NO CAN HAZ.)
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2122101.htm
I think we can tell from the title that this is not aimed at the serious reader with a serious book habit:
Ten spectacular and easy ways to arrange your books.
I think this is predicated on not really having a lot of books, no? If they are envisaged as design features rather than a storage and shelving problem:
Chances are, you haven't touched a lot of books on your shelf for years. Why not flip those the other way and keep the spines of your favourite books forward facing? It's a beautiful homage to your taste in literature and very personal.
None of those arrangements seem designed to facilitate access or have the concept that you might, you know, actually read the books, even when they don't have pictures hung in front of them (WTF I say WTF).
I don't know whether to laugh or bang my head when I see that perennial favourite of interior designers, using good shelf space that could hold books for knick-knacks instead, advising
[A] brilliant mix of books, accessories, and personal mementos to bring your personality into your bookcase. Start lining up your books on one side of your shelf, support the end with stack of two to four books, and arrange an ornament or candle on that stack. Repeat this on other shelves and even place a small frame and photograph in between piles.
What brings my personality into my bookcases is the books.
The infuriating situation with getting the right renewal of a prescription (rather than the wrong thing) continues, and is now at 'this is becoming critical' rather than 'moderately inconvenient' stage, since I'm about to run out and am going to be away for two days until Saturday evening.
Had one of those domestic accidents which it would probably be impossible to replicate, involving extremely hot water.
It is really tiresome when, at a booklaunch, one is about to depart, and someone says, 'Oh, I really want to talk to you about something, but I just have to go see X and Y', and 20 minutes later, there is still no sign that this desired conversation is actually going to happen. (This is someone who works approx 10 minutes from my own workplace, which they have occasion to visit anyway. If they have pressing things to talk about with me - as opposed to making a purely social gesture - we could do coffee or lunch.)
This bloody workshop for a project I am increasingly meh about being involved with, eating up a weekend when a) I have been away for several weeks b) I was working last Saturday, and I would really like some me/partner time.
Generally having one of those phases which makes one wonder 'is this Mercury in retrograde or what?'
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2113745.htm
And on top of my various niggles and peeves aforementioned at the end of last week (several of which are still nibbling at my ankles) -
My desktop PC has been falling over, running slow, and misbehaving for some while, and now Windows informs me that there is a hard disk failure and it's liable to expire at any time.
I think I've got everything backed up that I might need, but this is a really bad week for this, I can't really do anything - which I guess means, a new PC - until next week.
Okay, I have the wee notebook and my tablet, it's not as though it's an o desastre o desespoir scenario of being entirely cut off when it goes, but still, annoying and hasslesome.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2112846.htm
The last day or so the niggles and peeves have been rampaging; nothing madly serious, but just one thing after another being Really Annoying in a cumulative way (i.e. it is this icon rather than the Full Spiny Sea Urchin).
I think I shall put in some time this evening deciding on my treatments for my scheduled trip to Grayshott in several weeks' time.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2111368.htm
Somebody from Talk to Me London responds to the article I linked a couple of weeks ago about this horrid notion, and is determined that we should all be ASSIMILAAAAATED and that we will love it once we are.
Honestly, ducky (you don't mind my using these vocative endearments, do you, sweetie, because a stranger is just somebody you haven't met yet, right, and we should all be being more friendly?) it's not so much about fear of the stranger, but disinclination to be subjected to compulsory social interaction with people we don't know and don't particularly want to know.
The fear, such as it is, is predominantly about boredom and embarrassment.
In our experience we've found ordinary people happy to share the most extraordinary facts, stories and insights. If the potential is there for sharing ideas, laughter and the reassurance that we're not as alone as we thought, surely it's worth the punt.
Me, personally, I will share these things: but I will CHOOSE with whom I share them; and among the people I would not choose to share them with are the kind of people who think that you will have so much fun if you surrender your introvert qualms and Just Join In:
Stuart, we'd love you to be involved. We challenge you to come to one of our events and not have a good conversation.
We also may note that somehow 'real conversations' apparently don't need to take into consideration the subtleties of 'visual cues'.
I am also not particularly on board with the assumption that the loneliness of those Londoners who do cop to being lonely can be alleviated by the strategies being proposed.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2084356.htm
The guy is technology correspondent on The Observer, reviewing a book, The People's Platform, about The Internet. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/a
In this he mentions the 'startling' instances of gender imbalance and asks:
Why there is not more public debate on this?
Okay, maybe it is the particular corners of the Web that I frequent, but yr hedjog notes no lack of debate, comment and protest precisely on this issue. Which suggests to me that Mr N is not looking in the right places, no?
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2079295.htm
Books for men who do not read, we consider, should start off with something even simpler than Ernest H's stripped-down prose. Maybe Thomas the Tank Engine, coz of boyz luv traynz. Nursery slopes.
And we note the inclusion of Finnegan's Wake which is surely the primest of prime examples of A Book Not Read For Enjoyment But For Sense of Superiority And To Impress.
What with this at one end of the spectrum (srs manly bkz for manly menz so they don't look gurlie when reading) and Poems to Make Grown Men Cry*, is it, you know, just possibly rad and subversive to suggest that Men: Not A HiveMind?
*Most being poems that don't confine their tear-jerking qualities to a single gender, honestly.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2078012.htm
I had previously been unaware of this horrible initiative, Talk to Me London. This is not a good thing to encounter on an already misanthropic Monday.
There is not enough AAAAAAARRRRRGGGHHHH in the world, is there, my dearios?
I am seldom in concurrence with the younger male columnists of the Guardian, but Stuart Heritage has the right stuff in him on this issue*.
Blud particularly thikkt with cold, at this response to an FAQ:
Can I start conversations with people who aren't wearing the badge?
Of course! The badge is only there to help move things along. Plus, wearing the badge shows that you're happy to talk to others so why not go ahead and make the first move! If the person doesn't want to talk then that's fine, but it can't hurt to give it a go.**
Very tempted to set up my own 'What part of "Fuck off, I'm reading/thinking my own thoughts" is unclear to you?' badges and t-shirts.
There are permissible occasions to initiate conversation in London: asking directions; moaning about public transport; in the event of a major disaster the Blitz spirit may legitimately be invoked.
However, in the routine business of daily life, if you want a conversation with a random stranger, plz 2 pick out one who is also wearing a badge proclaiming their openness to this.
*He also flags up this ghastly notion: My Single Band. Apart from whether people would wear something that could scream 'Look at me, I'm a sad person', I'm also deeply cynical about whether all the people sporting them would in fact be unencumbered by existing relationships, a thought brought to you by the repeated spam messages I receive from Wouldbe Adulterers' Dating Services.
**What shall I do if weird people start talking to me
when I'm wearing the badge?
I think that should be 'who are wearing the badge', no?
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2073656.htm
Poster in underground spotted, promoting a new novel The Scandalous Duchess*.
Why am I AAAAARRRRGH about this?
Because Anya Seton's Katherine was a major thing in my teenage years and my Canonical Version of the story. (And appears to be still in print, available on Kindle, etc, so not A Forgotten Classic.)
Reading the blurb at Amazon does not reassure me.
We also note that the actual title has been ripped off from a rather more srs bznz bio of Katherine by Alison Weir, which came out in 2007.
Very tempted to add Kenneth Williams going 'Infamy!!!' to this post as well.
(Internet has been very up and down all weekend: I think it is coming time to bite the bullet and deal with the phone line issue. Aaaargh.)
Saturday breakfast rolls: lightly malted brown with chopped apricot (the basic adaptable soft roll recipe, half and half wholemeal and strong white flour, some malt dissolved in the milk/water mixture).
Today's lunch: game casserole (mix of pheasant, pigeon, partridge and mallard) in red wine with onion, garlic and crushed coriander; served with glutinous rice with lime leaves, stirfried spinach, and chicory quartered, healthy-grilled in avocado oil, and splashed with wild pomegranate vinegar.
I am in a really foul mood this morning.
Partly no doubt to not sleeping well last night and having the prospect of various rather wearing things to do towards the end of the week, some of which I can't even sort until a colleague returns to the office.
Several things which are all massively first-world problems but cumulatively, very irksome:
- my tablet expired, or rather, went into a 'let's stay with the pretty coloured X screen' at the weekend (this was probably purely a coincidence and nothing to do with downloading an app the library wanted staff to test...?), wouldn't respond to the procedures for a factory reset, and I was obliged to take it in to that firm of loathsome scamster shysters where I bought it (at least it's still in warranty), who tell me they will send it away for repair, which takes 2 weeks. Aaaargh.
- The home internet connection has been particularly up and downy the last couple of days. Yes, we should get somebody to come and look at the phone line. However, this would involve moving quite a lot of furniture and books so that the interior cabling was get-at-able. This would be tiresome enough that I think 'and if we did that, perhaps we should take that opportunity of having shifted substantial amounts of STUFF in that room to replace the carpet?' And then I hide under a blanket, missing my woolly stuffed dog.
- I think my iPod needs a new battery. The charge runs out very quickly.
- Never not irritated by the sluggishness of the logon of my work computer.
I have more or less got a whole lot of things with March deadlines in sufficient state of preparedness to go out into the world, littel myne chaptyre/artykel: and then I get a message re chapter I sent off (probably the only person in the project to get it in by the New Year deadline) asking for a revised version by early May. There is going to be a workshop for the papers in July anyway. I have desperately been trying to clear my desk for March/April so that I can focus on Important Thing I Am Doing, and this request cast me into despair and fury.
I am not sure this all accounts, however, for my spiny sea urchin state of grouchy this morning. Or maybe it does.
This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2053178.htm