Well, phew. And FLOPPP

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

No really, after I do this thing tomorrow my dance card is practically blank. Okay, I have a work presentation but that is reprise of thing I did elsewhere, and another work-related thing but that is an 'in conversation' type of deal, and a day workshop (at least, I think there is - things have gone a bit quiet) at which I am just there to be an informed discussant.

Oh, and do some really minor edits on a article which has been accepted (so I have two peer-reviewed articles on the way to publication, a chapter in a volume that's suppose to be out this year, and three more chapters in various stages of maybe getting published sometime).

Gosh, this might even mean that I could get back to sorting out the material from my research trip and doing some proper planning on the New Project and putting together a proposal for possible funding.

Well, there is a paper I'm giving in the New Year but think it will largely be reworking existing piece with different slant.

No, really, have I forgotten something?

***

Mary Cadogan, writer on children's literature & school stories and other areas of genre fic, has died aged 86, Was also involved with the Krishnamurti organisations, which I didn't realise were still a thing.

***

Apparently there is a desperate national shortage of sperm donors. This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2163735.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.

o tempora o mores

Thinking further about that whistleblowing thing, I am moved to contemplate exactly what reciprocal loyalty and commitment to an institution is owed by individuals employed on the kind of insecure and often exploitative terms that so widely pertain these days?

The thought emerged following somebody in my dwcircle posting on being advised by an older person (though prob not so much older a person as A Girl Like I) that you should not turn down an internal sort-of promotion even if it meant working on things you liked less and with a potentially unfriendly schedule, because at a certain phase in your working career you need to suck it up and slog through this sort of thing, with a view to eventually emerging at the sunny and leisurely uplands of senior management in due course.

My own cynical viewpoint of this is that while this may once have pertained (and may still in some sectors?) it is not something that in this day and age I would take as solidly guaranteed and therefore why sacrifice the enjoyments of one's prime for this rather uncertain reward. Not to mention, probably senior management is no picnic these days either.

It used to be that organisations would employ people at rather low beginning salaries (but at least they were paid!) and provide some form of induction into the intricacies of the place as well as, in many cases, opportunities for more formal training.

This must arouse the kind of emotions I felt when I learnt that C19th civil servants' hours were 10-4 and they got Derby Day off. This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2156201.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.

Delphic sibyl

It crossed my mind, reading this piece about the anomie of Modern Life (oh, please) versus the life of ye primeval hunter-gatherers, that the latter are indeed, a very long time dead and therefore may be called 'happy'.

My introvert Bludd Thikkt With Cold:

Humans lived in close-knit communities, and friends were people with whom you went hunting mammoths. You survived long journeys and difficult winters together. You took care of one another when one of you fell sick, and shared your last morsels of food in times of want. Such friends knew each other more intimately than many present-day couples.
I think it all depends on what you mean by 'intimacy', too.

Plus, you know, withered by 25, dead at 30. But hey, happy communal intimacy and 'acutely aware of every sound, taste and smell' in their vivid sensory apprehension of their surroundings (including the rich aroma of the shelter containing this tightly-knit community and any commensal animals, towards the end of winter...).

I don't think they were necessarily happier on a permanent basis than people in the modern world. Happiness by its nature is transient. They may have experienced things more intensely (maybe) but a lot of things would have been not exactly good things, like hunger, cold, injury, etc.

There is a probably irreducible amount of quotidian human misery (even absent the 4 Horseman riding madly acrossly the landscape with Death, Famine, Plague, etc) in any society at any given period in history, and this will be much the same from generation to generation, and some of it will be down to 'throughout the whole of history' factors and some of it will be due to very specifically located sources of discontent.

Freud said something (and I think this was quoted in a novel, probably DM Thomas's The White Hotel, which la patronne does NOT recommende, so I do not vouch for its accuracy or authenticity) that the aim of psychoanalysis was to replace pathological misery with ordinary human unhappiness.

As I was saying a few days ago about Naomi Mitchison's Solution Three, she posits a society in which people are striving to do well and maximise happiness but where there are still problems about people who do not necessarily fit comfortably into the prescribed patterns, plus the good old human difficulties of the deaths of lovers and children, loving someone who does not return the feeling, etc etc. The ritual use of pot is by no means equivalent to Huxley's soma.

Ways of life being different doesn't necessary mean they are better/worse and some will be better/worse for particular groups and individuals. This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2147048.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.

Friday randomalia

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

Not only did I miss Wiscon this year, I am also not going to the Women's History Network Annual Conference - both of them places where I anticipate annual reunions with fellows of my own totem - but I think I decided against WHN this year even before it was badly timed in relation to Ottawa excursion, because I was already fed up with the surplus of war-themed conferences, exhibitions, media events, blogs, etc etc when it was announced much earlier in the year. (Also, how long can I go on recycling bits of my Stella research to fit conference theme? - I could have done something on her progression from 'we need to stop the evil militarist Prussians!' to pacifist activism, but really, that is a Bluebells of Scotland remix, no?)

***

That gratifying experience this morning of knocking off several errands in the course of doing one absolutely necessary thing (getting my hair cut, as I do not want to present my Canadian audiences with my world-famed impression of a Yorkshire terrier in need of a visit to the groomer), as these were things becoming A Bit of A Thing, because I am working tomorrow which is really not what one wants the weekend before Abroad Travel, such as getting my currency sorted and restocking on things that only available in certain organic products shops. Which I did even before entering the hairdressers. I also achieved banking of a rather small cheque that has been sitting in my handbag waiting for the conjunction of me and a bank.

***

I discover that my flight is departing from Heathrow Terminal 2, of which one has heard but I don't think ever visited. It is now called The Queen's Terminal, and frankly, were I a monarch, there are lots of things I would like more than a terminal at Heathrow, but I suppose she had to say thank you, I've always wanted one.

***

I am STILL revising my motorhorn rendition of the Bluebells of Scotland presentation for the conference next week. Also decided to recycle my relevant PowerPoint, with some additions, and then had immense faff and angst trying to find out where I'd filed it.

***

I also came across this, about The Good Soldier, in a blog post by Nina Allen about litcritics being weird about sff, and it pretty is equally applicable to the thoughts I had when re-reading Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End:

The story on the surface is a predictable bit of soap opera... but Ford’s use of techniques that were then very new (a discursive, time-jumping narrative, a supremely unreliable narrator), the subversion of the novel’s restrained, nostalgic tone by the passion and violence of the events described, together with the perfectly crafted elegance of the writing itself make this novel something very special.
YESSS. There is something very weird about the conjunction of the modernism of Ford's amazing technique, and the really v retro attitudes embedded in the story he is telling. This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2146688.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.
Performing seals

Paper I am trying to get at least drafted during this week off is definitely being a performing seal kind of act; I totally have the red ball on the nose thing down, and I can honk the hell out of those motor-horns, but where's the challenge?

Am also getting some serious sleeping in.

Less Sekkrit Projekt reading than I might have hoped.

Constraints on the day and its activities: Aged P's schedule, only one front door-key, that sort of thing. This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2143266.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.

No cooking

Currently back at the old family mansion, on a week's father-sitting duty (92 and a bit frail) while my sister and family are having a collective camping holiday. I am hoping that this will be a) relaxing and b) productive (writing conference paper, Sekkrit Projekt reading) and that there will be no crises.

Today partner and I went out for a short pre-prandial walk which took us along the seafront, where the tide was extraordinarily far out, actually past the side of the harbour, and well past the end of the groyne that encloses the Inner Harbour. So we walked around it and across the Inner Harbour, which was fine until we struck the patch that was mud rather than sand, and of a very adhesive nature.

It seems to me that the tide never used to go out quite that far, it was only very rarely that the low tideline went beyond the end of the groyne.

Le Continong was clearly visible from the clifftop.

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grumpy hedgehog

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.

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Further on the loneliness question

Marie of Roumania

I also wonder whether there is an observer issue involved similar to the 'Facebook effect', whereby any given individual assumes that most, if not all, other people they know have vibrant social lives, close intimate friendships, fulfilling marriages/romantic/sexual relationships, etc.

I think I noted this heretofore apropos of people thinking that other people have their lives far more sorted than they themselves do.

It may just be that they are chaotic in different ways/areas and that what is going on is contrasting different strengths against differing weaknesses.

Or, indeed, it's not improbable that everybody has the equivalent of the cupboards it is best not to open lest the mess stuffed in there in the interests of a public performance of tidiness falls out.

Also, that thing I have noted of making one's life sound far more glamorous and jet-setting than it is in conversation, simply because it makes for more interesting conversation to talk about going to exotic, or at least foreign, places/doing a media thingy than one's daily to and fro on the Northern Line and days at work.

People are more likely to talk about social events and occasions than sitting at home with a good book, perhaps, even if, indeed, simply because, the latter is Not a Story.

Y/N?

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Delphic sibyl

I think this motif kicked off with reading a couple of things about migraine, one in the Migraine Trust mailing about somebody commenting way back in the day that secretaries who suffered from migraine tended to be really efficient, so they everything was in order in case they were suddenly smitten with an attack, and a blog post somewhere about the busy-busy life and the way these can be ticking along but thrown into chaos by small things putting a crimp in the progress of scheduled events or having a migraine attack -

Which made me think about the days when, yes, I did organise certain matters of life admin just in case I had a migraine at the weekend.

There was the article by somebody with a health condition that meant that they couldn't necessarily work all day every day, and the over-valuation of a certain model of productivity and the idea that if you were not giving your ALL perhaps you shouldn't be doing it at all.

Then there was the piece about the actual SCIENCE behind the 40 hour working week and the fact that people only have a certain number of productive hours in them and that after that productivity goes down, mistakes increase, accidents go up, and really, not such a good idea, particularly if the extension endures for more than a brief crisis period.

Leading me to think of certain colleagues who seemed to spend more time than they actually were required to on the premises even though this didn't noticeably pay off in any way discernible to anybody else.

Wondering about, also, the need for variety, and okay, Trollope got up at 5 am and did his self-set quota of noveling words for the day, even if that meant starting a new one partway through the allotted hours; and then he went off and worked at the Post Office, he didn't scribble scribble Barsetshire all day, he took a break until the following morning.

Though there can be such a thing as too much variety, so that one spins around going wibble.

So there are no actual conclusions here, just thoughts.

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Should I stay or should I go

Delphic sibyl

I've been thinking recently about the fact that, only a few years ago, I would now (or even somewhat earlier) be having talks with HR, winding down my work commitments, etc, because I would have reached Retirement Age.

Which is no longer a thing, and okay, I totally get that people of my years don't necessarily feel like being put out to grass just yet, though I can imagine instances where they wish they could.

It means I don't have a definite end-date to work to, and that I have all sorts of thinks about if/when I should depart the workplace. Sometimes I feel it would be nice if one were just told to stop. One could then think what next and make plans and so on.

I think this may be another of those cases where you find me and Robert Frost's Neighbour, sitting in the bar with our drinks and our backs turned to one another.

It resonates for me with that rather terrifying thing one hears about about people in certain sectors who claim that they have no work/leisure division, because work is So Much Fun and during what might be leisure they are checking their email, social media, etc for work-related matters.

Also with people who are being obliged, rather than spending their days looking for work, or engaging in relevant unpaid volunteering, having to do uncongenial labour for no pay, just for The Experience.

There is something there about necessary boundaries and their erosion that bothers me.

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Mingled yarn of LIFE

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

This has been one of those exasperating weeks full of meetings internal and external which have broken up my days in such a way that I have been able to get on v little with current cataloguing project, which is just a tad ironic as two meetings this week (and one last) were relating to a project which is going to be rather dependent on this collection actually being bloody catalogued.

However: upsides.

Research leave is not quite definite but looking distinctly possible.

My poor sickly tablet has been checked out of hospital and appears so far to be in fine fettle (apart from the sheer hassle of getting everything back on it).

I have had some very flattering feedback apropos of the talk I gave last week.

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Reader

It does occur to me that perhaps if you don't read a great deal all the time, the likelihood of reading a book that is life-changing is perhaps higher?

But my own experience - pondering this after seeing some online article in which people listed the usual suspects the 10 books that changed their lives - is that I could not name a single book that actually changed my life.

There were books that impressed me and became a part of my mental furniture, there were books that validated my thoughts and feelings, books that provided comfort and support, books that made me argue with them and define my own ideas -

The person I am was made by books.

But I can't say that after reading any book, not even Middlemarch, my life was changed.

Except in the sense that all experience is part of the ongoing process of change that is life?

But to say a book changed one's life implies to me that it caused one to move onto an entirely different path. There is nice instance of this in Gail Godwin's A Mother and Two Daughters in which the elder daughter leaves her first, military, husband because of something she read in The Alexandria Quartet. But that is surely fairly rare...

Or John Stuart Mill picking up Wordsworth and realising that feelings are important too.

Looking at it from another angle, sometimes the books that change us are the ones we write (I'm counting Ms Evans' translating of Feuerbach here).

Is this just another instance of making a more dramatic narrative point than the experience actually justifies? I sat stunned and quivering when I first finished Doris Lessing's The Four-Gated City, it had a deep impact on me, but I don't think it altered my life.

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Brush the wandering hedgehog dancing

And, okay, I thought this number by the sublime Smokey was called 'More Joy' rather than 'More Love', but have it anyway:


Anyway, I'm not sure these all count as joy precisely, but there is something very cheering about -
- Getting over a cold
- Starting back to the gym
- Beginning processing an important largish archive which there are rather pressing reasons to get done soon, and finding that the lovely creators were a whole lot more organised and efficient than the creators of the last two archives I processed, and feeling like I am making reasonable progress already
- Doing various bits and pieces of life and work administration involving making appointments or setting arrangements in motion which had been hanging over me.

Also, yesterday I noticed that the sun was starting to come back!

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Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

And instead of ringing them out and in, I will face the music and dance, even if I am pretty sure that 'there may be trouble ahead' is something that one can pretty well always say and be correct:


***

The usual statistics, roundup, etc:

Up to 7,901 Journal Entries; 57,253 comments received, 7,247 posted.

Numbers of comments seemed down this year: the top posts for comments were:
7/5 In the Huxley/Wordsworth cage-fight smackdown, I am rooting for Aldous*
3/3 Has God's supply of tolerable husbands/ Fallen, in fact, so low?
6/3 What people actually eat when
1/7 Counterintuitive culinary challenge
10/1 Is today Anachronistic Historical Notions Day, or what?
14/9 Is this entirely wise?
15/9 'Serious issues around young people entering the modern workplace'
9/6 1066 and All That: failure to read and take note of
6/9 Don't think the trope really reverses...
27/8 Why didja havta be a rule-breaker
But, as ever, stats of views suggest this isn't the whole picture.

First lines (excluding birthdays or filtered posts):
Jan: Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Feb: I was inspired by reading in Winifred Holtby as I Knew Her that WH, in her book about V Woolf pointed out that several characters from previous books by Woolf were at Mrs Dalloway's party
Mar: London in literature is a huge subject, and I'm not going anywhere near Dickens.
Apr: You know, at my age I should probably stop expecting there to be a world out there in which the people who write in literary periodicals are sophisticated and knowledgeable and tolerant and so on and so forth.
May: Currently on the go Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Dragon Ship (2012), on the e-reader.
Jun: Happy 100th birthday, Barbara Pym!
Jul: When discussing the problem of travelling when vegetarian in the comments to an earlier post, I suggested that one does not go to X place in order to eat in the restaurants of other cultures that may be there (I really do not go to Prague for Thai food) but that sometimes these are the only places that do not centre their menu on great hunks of animal flesh (&/or cheese).
Aug: Article in today's Guardian G2 section on the absence of women from time travel movies.
Sep: Dept of, channelling Barbara Pym: last night's conference dinner.
Oct: 'In my experience, high-profile male columnists jump on a subject like Syria regardless of what they might have to contribute, simply because it's a hot topic and they have to be seen to be addressing it.'
Nov: Was wondering, following [livejournal.com profile] slemslempike's lead, about outfit blogging.
Dec: Okay, I realise that I already missed Stir-Up Sunday, which was last week, but it's more than high time to switch over to my bah humbug seasonal icon, right?

***

I'm not doing that huge list of questions, except to say that there were no deaths in my immediate circle and I acquired a new great-nephew.

***

I read 205 books logged in my GR account but that doesn't include the volumes ingested for Sekkrit Projekt.

***

Furrin parts visited: USA, Germany, Czech Republic, the Netherlands. UK travel (overnight stays only): Glasgow, Exeter, Manchester, Sheffield, the family residence.

***

Publications that actually appeared: 1 article, 1 book chapter.

***

Were it not for this cold dragging me down, I would say I am probably in better health than this time last year, when I was recovering from Dental Abscess Hell (this took longer than I thought it would).

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Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

I'm sure I have hymned before the necessity, if not the actual pleasures, of boredom, but whatever, I think it bears repeating.

Article in today's Guardian G2 as to whether large swathes of great works of music, literature are too long, full of makeweight, and really, really, deserve to be ruthlessly cut.

Quite early on there seems to me to be a dodgy segue from 'this opera/symphony has its duller bits' to 'too much already!', in the comment about Der Rosenkavalier:

Der Rosenkavalier being one. It just feels too long, and I find myself wondering why all this inventive music is going on. It's like being fed too much cream and dessert. It rapidly becomes indigestible.

which sounds like a fairly strong argument that any work of art needs to be not just a constant string of high points, a sort of juke-box musical without even the tenuous thread of narrative on which the numbers are strung...

The other day I walked through Euston Square Tube station, and the current bit of classical music they were playing was 4th movement, Beethoven's 9th. Which was lovely, and unexpected, and a lift to the day, but there is something about its coming after the previous movements when one hears it at a concert which is an even more amazing experience.

You need those less spectacular and dramatic moments for the spectacular and dramatic moments to BE spectacular and dramatic rather than More of the Same.

Jude Kelly gets it about right:

But there is also a sense that the best art is like life. Some of it is a bit dull, but you need the boring parts to appreciate the climaxes. Reaching the end of a Wagner opera is like climbing a mountain: part of the achievement is in the struggle to get there.

Think David Hare misses the point: great artists don't necessarily have boring bits because this is the reverse side of Their Greatness. Surely it is more that they are not actually scared of being thought boring, if that is what they need to do to get the effects they ultimately aim for.

Also read something somewhere recently to which I went mentally 'How True' that life and relationships can't and in fact pretty much shouldn't be a constant stream of intense peak experiences. Because then you don't in fact appreciate the peak bits when they happen.

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Leaving the spaces in

woodshed

Blud thikkt with cold at this: High tech turning work/life balance obsolete (via [personal profile] onyxlynx)

Programmers - who are known to sleep under their desks, wear pajamas all day, and code for 16 hours straight without standing up - have long been pushing against workplace mores. Traditional labor unions have worked to strengthen the work/life divide, fighting for such separations as weekends and eight-hour workdays. Meanwhile, tech executives, who pay their employees partly in perks like haircuts, gym equipment and snacks, have built cultures that blur that divide. Programmers are encouraged to stay all night for "hackathons," and many offices have nap rooms.

Under his Nerd Life Balance philosophy, Floyd doesn't try to fight this new blend of office and home but argues that programmers can still start families (teach your kids to code)

Perhaps those of you who do rock-climbing could comment on the following:

"We're talking about the engineering culture of the future," he said. "It doesn't mean you have to work 16 hours a day, but it means your brain is kind of always thinking about work. While you're rock climbing, you're thinking about it."

because my own sense is that when you're rock-climbing, you need to concentrate on the rock and the climbing. Am reminded of Paper I Once Heard At A Symposium on the maths tripos in late Victorian Cambridge, which was regarded as tremendously intellectually challenging (strong men broke under the strain and had those typical Victorian middle-class male crises) and the candidates strongly recommended to break up their studies with massively strenuous manly exercise. (O HAI, Philippa Fawcett!) Possibly your late Victorian maths dons were on to something, though.

As I commented over there:

I am reminded of reports by social investigators in C19th London of home-working: mother and all the little children making boxes or plaiting straw or whatever, all day every day, in conditions which I think even then would have been prohibited in an actual workplace.

And all that early C20th occupational psychology research that demonstrated that shorter hours and holidays improved productivity...

Also, comment by Sir Peter Medawar in his memoirs that when he had to wash up his own lab glassware (because the funding didn't cover assistants to do that), this provided valuable switch-off time that benefited his research.

Can we say, 'Condemned to repeat it?'

This also resonated with something that a friend posted in response to birthday wishes elsewhere, 'perhaps the secret to making the most of birthdays as one gets older is ... worrying less about filling in the blanks', which made me think of the importance of blanks and the place of silence in music and stillness in dance and the spaces between words and paragraph breaks and the still point of the turning world.

(Recently we received at work an email sent via somebody's iPhone which was a dense wall of text and practically impossible to read, because no para breaks.)

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Prickles on the inside

grumpy hedgehog

Feeling rather out of sorts with the world at the moment.

This may simply be the knock-on effect (as it were) of my fall last week, even if the physical outcomes are moving into the realm of the residual.

There is also the prospect of yes, I do have to dive into the book maelstrom to try to find several books that I need for article I'm currently revising, which aren't in the most likely places so are probably buried somewhere. And while this exercise usually has the outcome of turning up other things that I was wondering where they'd got to, there is also the whole 'building up the tottering towers' again before the exercise can be considered completed. There's a time/energy thing there that's daunting me.

Also, various forthcoming travel muddles or potential muddles that I am going to have to sort out and would rather not.

Nothing massively serious but an array of nigglesomeness.

I am in that mood where I would like some comfort reading, but what I really, really want is something that has the charms of familiarity and yet a certain novelty: i.e. an as yet unread slab of GB Stern's ragbag chronicles or one of Jane Duncan's 'Friends' to whom I have not yet been introduced. Alas.

If you have anything cheering to contribute, now would be a good time.

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Hedjog is grumpy

Spiny sea urchin

(None of these are really full-on spiny sea-urchin territory, but cumulatively? yes.)

Dept of annoying business practices: o Boots, how less helpful could your current shelving of vitamins be? I think, having scoured the shelves in 3 of your establishments, that you no longer sell Vitamin D by itself except in the chewable kiddy version. Nul points. O, newly expanded local supermarket: how is it, that, having oodles more room having taken in the long-closed betting shop and more recently closed launderette, your actual shelves are so much higher, with things well above my eye-level? O, British Film Institute: if you want me to sort out your problem with renewing my annual membership, it would really, really help if you provided a number that did not (on several attempts over 2 days) just ring and ring until silence. I should not have to fossick on your not entirely intuitive website to find a number to actually speak to somebody.

Dept of Down The Salt Mine: we have coming up several months of work disruption due to redevelopment. Not looking forward in the least. Also, another department looking to muscle in on our workroom space.

Dept of Academic Struggle: trying to finish a review of a book which is good and worthy and makes a useful contribution but seriously lacks wow factor. This has been going on far too long.

Plus assorted other stuff I don't at the moment feel entirely comfortable about posting.

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I am glad those neiges d'antan have melted

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

Today I had to go over to Putney on professional business.

I lived in Putney for something under 2 years at the beginning of the Slow Motion Trainwreck Relationship, until we moved to Suburban Surrey.

Putney actually had quite a bit going for it, particularly once I was working at Waterloo rather than Euston from the commute angle - a short journey by frequent overground trains rather than a somewhat circuitous route involving either a long walk or an (infrequent service) bus ride to Putney Bridge, hangups at Earls Court, etc.

Unlike Suburban Surrey, we add.

However, although it doesn't seem massively changed in the bit around the intersection of Putney High Street and Upper Richmond Road, the old rather fleapit cinema has gone, there are yay hordes of yoga studios, spas and beauty parlours among the restaurants of URR, and I am sure there used to be a rather good secondhand bookshop (or junk shop that also sold books) that has joined the dodo in oblivion, along with the coffee-roasters next to the station.

Which cannot be entirely gentrification, as Putney was pretty much gentrifying rapidly when I lived there.

But quite fortuitously, in the context of the SMTR, I was thinking about, on the one hand, the situation of always, as it were, looking over the shoulder of one's present situation for something better to turn up, and on the other, doing one's best in the circumstances in which providence or deity of choice has placed one. Neither of which are entirely satisfactory positions, and I think (vis a vis not only the SMTR but the job I was in when it started) that there is definitely a point where one should not just try working with what one's got but chuck it up altogether. But constantly thinking that the grass over there is just so much greener, and acting on that presumption, not so great either.

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State of the oursin

hedgehog and cactus

Well, I think I'm finally over the jetlag from hell, but it's hard to tell, because I have been sleeping so badly all this week...

Have booked a week away at Grayshott, further ahead than I would like, but I was just getting too stressed out at trying to fit it in any earlier, around existing commitments. Also, after the Monster Manchester Conference (even if I am only going for part of this) is probably a good idea.

Have also managed, finally, to book an appointment to use one of my vouchers for a discount massage, and perhaps should try and schedule in the other two over the course of the next month or so.

Am continuing rather irked at my inability to push to a further level in my gym workouts - I've been pretty much plateauing, and even temporarily falling back, over the last several months, and while I can see that all the health things at the end of last year meant I had to take it easy, I am getting rather narked at not making progress/getting back to where I was.

However, on a slight upside, I have buckled down to processing a collection that has been an elephant in the room at work for a long time - important but presenting a lot of problems to get into a state where it can be made available - and finding that it is not quite so terrible a task once I get down to it.

Currently dithering over a revived invitation to talk about something that, yes, I know something about, but basically because I've read or even reviewed the recent literature on the subject, it is not My Own Work, it would demand a certain amount of preparation, and while one wants to be obliging, especially as this is a colleague in the profession, I am getting less and less inclined to Do Stuff that is not either What I Am Currently Interested In, or something where I can recycle material I already have on hand and written up in some form.

More narkery over 2, count them, 2 conferences that I have put in proposals for that have not yet come back to say yay or nay.

Yes, my dearios, the peeves and their little niggles are way restless and fretting at this moment in time.

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Age-meme, reprised

vortex

If you want to play, say so in a comment. I'll give you an age and you answer the following questions about you at that age.

[personal profile] boxofdelights gave me 30, which was such a year I have been rather circling round this with extreme caution.

I lived in: the flat I bought on leaving the Slow Motion Train Wreck Relationship, in a rather characterless 60s-ish purpose-built block, just off a main road, near the Tube station I still use.

I drove: I took the Tube, buses or walked: didn't drive. The flat actually had a garage, which was not really much use to me.

I was in a relationship with: I'd relatively recently got together with partner, and our relationship was developing on a weekending sort of basis. However, at some point during this year, DL, who I had assumed had faded out of my life, re-erupted into it and Complications Ensued, including a badly-thought-through, mistimed and fairly disastrous holiday on an island Somewhere in the Mediterranean, where DL was building a house. Also, there were long hiatuses in communication, which might, or might not have been, obviated if there had been such things as emails and texting, but meant that I did not know where the relationship was at or even if it was still a relationship for significant periods of time.

I would also consider that my women's group was playing a significant part in my life at this time, though by the end of this year it was beginning to wind down, as people moved on to other places and it got just too few of us to be viable, plus perhaps we had exhausted its possibilities.

I feared: I can't think of anything in particular that I feared but looking back I have a sense of a horde of inchoate anxieties, manifesting as hypochondria, and then becoming, by the end of this year, anxiety attacks for which I was taking medication, and preceding what was going to become a serious depressive episode.

I worked at: I had just got the job as an archivist at what is still my place of work now. Looking back I think the change from a large governmental record office with a long history to a small and what was then a fairly idiosyncratic institution (actually, it's still idiosyncratic, but in very different ways) with a start-up archival project may have been more of a factor in the general unsettlement than I quite appreciated at the time.

I wanted to be: more settled, less anxious, more in control of my own life.

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Life in the archives

Writing hedgehog

The good thing: that time when you return to some cataloguing project that you've had to put on one side for a bit and are rather dreading, and then you get a spot of quality time with it and realise, yay, that it is just about there in terms of having made the second pass through and almost ready to start assigning references.

***

The bad thing: when a reader turns up slightly under two hours before closing on a Saturday and you intuit somehow at once that this is the person who gave you a deal of trouble with their enquiries during the week (and was, in fact, perhaps inadvertently rather rude - we totally know what archives we actually hold, srsly, you do not need to tell us) and are not, alas, surprised that a) they have not looked on the library website to ascertain the actual opening hours and b) in spite of the fact that you emphasised the desirability of doing so, have not actually preordered any items, and get flappy about this.

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Year-ending rounduppy thing, 2012

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

I see I have just tipped past the 7000 posts mark!

I'm not sure that this is in fact any accurate measure of how popular individual posts are, since if I actually kept track of the stats on Google Analytics I think I'd find several not particularly comment-accruing posts getting numerous hit. But anyway, it's become one of my traditions.

Arousing commentCollapse )

First lines of months, public posts excluding birthday greetingsCollapse )

And I'm not doing that interminable list of questions that some people have done: at my time of life several are irrelevant or inappropriate, and others, the answer remains, 'same as previous year'.

But, all in all, it was not the best of times, even if it was not the worst of times either. Seriously over-committed, it felt like, to strutting my academic stuff in a variety of venues, plus major work upheavals with office move and systems changes. Given that I started the year with a list of various life-admin things to accomplish, I did get them done, but not all of them until mid-November (partly due to the Incompetent Financial Institution): and I did get a few other things, not on the list, sorted.

Upside: publication of The Textbook, Second Edition.

Dental stuff in the autumn: the really dragging-down stuff is resolved but there are some ongoing issues. Otherwise, health was reasonable until around then, when galloping exhaustion met infected tooth. Apart from the migraines, which seemed to be rather more frequent, and in a few cases, rather more severe, than of latter years.

A phrase that springs to mind to sum up is 'the taste of too much'.

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Time of the season

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

I was going to change over to my seasonal 'Bah Humbug' icon, but I see that Advent doesn't commence until the Sunday following Stir-Up Sunday.

So, sparkly Christmas tree and carol-singing on Euston station notwithstanding, I am trying to pretend that the season of festive jollity and halls decked with boughs of holly is not yet upon us, and that it is not yet time to break out the stakes of holly for plunging into the hearts of people who go around wishing other people a gladsome Yule.

***

State of the hedjog: as I may have mentioned, wheeeeeee, end of that long slog of paper-giving that punctuated the past months.

Okay, I have an encyclopaedia article that has now definitely reached the top of my to-do list, and I have three book reviews to write (two of them for books I haven't yet read), and I am trying to put together a panel proposal for the Enormous Triennial Women's History Conference the year after next, and although I couldn't make the specified deadline re contributions to an edited volume I contacted the editors to ask if there was any flexibility (I more or less have the thing, it needs editing and footnoting and so on) and there is, up to New Year, and yesterday I shot off an abstract for consideration for a conference next March (but it would basically be a mashup of 2 papers I already have written).

And a few things are already pencilling themselves in on my dance-card for next year...

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Thinggzzz at random

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

If one is being earwormed by a particular piece of music (or, in my case, sometimes just part of a piece of music), is there some reason for this (apart, that is, from the week when I was writing a blog post for Another Blog on charity balls, and could not get rid of 'Let's Face the Music and Dance', but I was actually deploying that in the post)?

Perhaps it is some indication of internal emotional weather, though why some mornings it's Brahm's Alto Rhapsody, and on others, the opening bars of 'Hoochie-Coochie Man', deponent knoweth not and can't even guesseth.

***

Although, as aforementioned, I did do 14 lectures (etc) in 11 months this year, at least they did not involve vast amounts of foreign or intercontinental travel, unlike 01/02, when it was 15 lectures (etc) in 12 months, on 3 continents and 6 countries, including enough visits to the Netherlands that I became somewhat over-familiar with Schipol Airport. However, one is 10 years older now...

***

Sometimes I am miffed by sudden and unannounced changes on the staff catering menus ('I was looking forward to X for my lunch, but it turns out X NO.CAN.HAZ') but just sometimes it works the other way. Today the menu as published was distinctly meh, but there was SURPRIZ MULLIGATAWNY SOUP - there is no bad.

***

With luck, today saw the last act of the prolonged dental saga until my next checkup in 6 months time. I hope.

***

Also in Dept of At Bloody Last, have received a communication from The Incompetent Financial Institution indicating that they have, finally, managed to set up a direct debit. We shall see.

***

Dept of Book-Related Ponceyness: A new public library in the Netherlands called Book Mountain has been winning plaudits from architects for its striking design. A mountain of 50,000 books covered by a glass shell, the building just outside Rotterdam is shaped like a pyramid. Architects may swoon, but we have yet to hear from librarians, conservators, and users. Some of us remember - and it's not that long ago, I don't think I'm being a Living Archive here - the debacle of the new Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and its innovative, yet conservationally disastrous, deployment of masses of glass.

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