Monthly Archives: May 2007

Context is everything

On Tuesday, I had to go see a professor to discuss my final paper topic. Waiting in the hall, I could hear that the person ahead of me in the office was handing over a first draft. When I was told to go back to the drawing board and develop a different (better) topic, my anxiety level skyrocketed. Knowing that someone else (not even in my class!) had a draft done made me feel like a real idiot for not even having a topic yet.

Today I brought the improved topic back to the same professor. This time, the person in the office was getting advice on a topic, while the girls waiting in the hall with me had vague ideas of what they wanted to write about but weren’t sure whether those ideas translated into topics.

Needless to say, when I walked out of that office with a greenlighted topic, I suddenly felt ahead of the game even though the paper is still due on Wednesday. It doesn’t take much to regain confidence in oneself; it’s just unfortunate how little control you have over making that transition.

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Filed under s for school

Tell the one about your computer’s built-in cup holder!

Wow. Mad props to the Tribune for giving the task of writing up “fast takes on Web news” to someone who apparently is woefully out of touch with the ol’ tubes. Click to read:

High 5

I mean, really. I feel like someone just walked up to me wearing neon parachute pants and suggested we order some ‘za (totally rad!). Three of these five are hopelessly inane, and ought to be embarrassing. Let’s review:

1. Dell hasn’t used that slogan since its pitchman got busted for pot, which happened in 2003, unless they’ve revived it without my knowing. While it can be used effectively in relation with this story, this botched parody makes it sound like the author thinks the slogan is current.

2. Facebook has been open beyond college students for a pretty good chunk of time now (Sept 2006), and even before that, faculty and grad students could have accounts. So not only is the smirky teens versus grown-ups “joke” obnoxious as hell, it would have been inaccurate last fall even if slightly more appropriate and timely.

3 & 4. AOL and Larry King are fair game.

5. …. *gobsmacked* ….. Seriously, this lost wallet joke would have been old-fogeyish ten years ago. Leave it to Doug Larson, dude.

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Filed under a for annoyances, n for news, s for sightings

A late Memorial Day offering

We do not now have in this country a National Army Museum, but there is one in development, and they now have a promotional video on their website. The video is called “I have a story to tell” and is worth watching, I think. The museum won’t be open until 2013, which would be sad except by then I hope to have enough experience to hope to be hired, if and when they happen to need archivists. In the meantime, the Army runs quite a network of museums; one that isn’t on that list is the very-worthwhile First Division Museum (Big Red One!) at Cantigny, in Wheaton, IL. That one is actually flashier than the UK’s NAM, and it’s on the grounds of a large estate that includes a historical house and parklands for members of the family not entertained by replica trenches.

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Filed under h for history, m for museums

They all think I’m smart until the end of the quarter

Alas, alas, woe is me, etc. Once again my utter inability to come up with a decent final paper topic on my own rears its incompetent head. I like to think I’m not a moron, but my total suckitude at this very basic element of academic life makes that pretense hard to uphold.

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Filed under s for school

Let it be known

If I don’t have to make a research trip this summer, I’m going to buy myself a new laptop (and make a profit this summer, the way the exchange rate is).

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Filed under b for brilliant ideas

This could be interesting

The University of Pittsburgh has some points to take into consideration when choosing a roommate:

Will the apartment be the place where you want to study or party or both? What are the prospective roommate’s habits? Does he or she smoke? (Do you?) What about alcohol or drug use? What about musical tastes? Does reggae or jazz get on your nerves?

My only requirement is that my roommate have a good dealer.

Consider living habits. Remember the Odd Couple—Are you like Felix or Oscar? It may seem trivial at first, but small things like leaving dirty dishes for days, drinking milk out of the carton, or not flushing the toilet can become very irritating over time.

This would never seem trivial to me.

How do you feel about guests sleeping over? Waking up with your roommate’s boyfriend or girlfriend, friends from home, or the whole wrestling team can be a memorable experience. Occasionally. But there’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in your own apartment. If your roommate has frequent guests, and if they empty the refrigerator, hog the PlayStation, or run up the phone bill, they can ruin your life and studies.

D’ya get the feeling we’re missing a prepositional phrase here? Or are we saying it’s ok to wake up with your roommate’s boyfriend in your bed every once in a while?

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Filed under e for easily amused, s for sightings

Why I am a History major, and not studying English Lit

Want to read something utterly fascinating? Let me recommend to you Bab: A Sub-Deb, a title described by James Lileks as “sound[ing] like a novel written entirely in the voice of someone with a head cold”. The premise is that Barbara (“Bab”), a 17-year-old itching for her debut, has written essays and diary entries about her various comic mishaps.

I thought the stories themselves were entertaining enough — in the same genre as the Jeeves stories, except that the clever-linguistics angle is supplied by Bab’s poor spelling and overdramatic sensibilities. But the book becomes absolutely absorbing when you keep in mind as you go that this girl is seventeen, and that the backdrop is 1917 America and all that goes along. It’s not that you get little glimpses of the past; you find yourself transplanted by the author’s assumptions about her audience into someone else’s world. Well, I do, anyway.

Can you imagine this sort of thing?

I spent the morning with mother at the dressmakers and she chose two perfectly spiffing things, one of white chiffon over silk, made modafied Empire, with little bunches of roses here and there on it, and when she and the dressmaker were hagling over the roses, I took the scizzors and cut the neck of the lining two inches lower in front. The effect was posatively impressive. The other was blue over orkid, a perfectly passionate combination.

I just had this conversation with my mom today (I wish):

“Work!” mother said. “Career! What next? Why can’t you be like Leila, and settle down to haveing a good time?”

The male equivalent of “coming out”:

Eddie Perkins saw me there and came over. He had but recently been put in long trowsers, and those not his best ones but only white flannels. He was never sure of his garters, and was always looking to see if his socks were coming down.

The war peeks in:

So here I sit, Dear Dairy, while there are sounds of revelery below, and Sis jumps at her chance, which is the Honorable Page Beresford, who is an Englishman visiting here because he has a weak heart and can’t fight.

And this classic:

Mother rose and made a sweeping gesture with her right arm.

“I wash my hands of you!” she said. “You are impertanent and indelacate. At your age I was an inocent child, not troubleing with things that did not concern me. As for Love, I had never heard of it until I came out.”

“Life must have burst on you like an explosion,” I observed. “I suppose you thought that babies—-”

“Silense!” mother shreiked.

It’s just too cool. And it’s completely irrelevant to my final papers/exams.

ETA: Ye gods! Socialism! This book just keeps getting better!

So I told him that Adrian was a mill worker, and the villain makes him lose his position, by means of forjery. And Adrian goes to jail, and comes out, and no one will give him work. So he prepares to blow up a Milionaire’s house, and his sweetheart is in it. He has been to the Milionaire for work and been refused and thrown out, saying, just before the butler and three footmen push him through a window, in dramatic tones, “The world owes me a living and I will have it.”

“Socialism!” said Carter. “Hard stuff to handle for the two dollar seats. The world owes him a living. Humph! Still, that’s a good line to work on.”

ETA2: It. Does. Not. Stop.

I meant to ask father tonight, but he has just heard of Beresford and is in a terrable temper. He says Sis can’t marry him, because he is sure there are plenty of things he could be doing in England, if not actualy fighting.

“He could probably run a bus, and releace some one who can fight,” he shouted. “Or he could at least do an honest day’s work with his hands. Don’t let me see him, that’s all.”

“Do I understand that you forbid him the house?” Leila asked, in a cold furey.

“Just keep him out of my sight,” father snaped. “I supose I can’t keep him from swilling tea while I am away doing my part to help the Allies”

ETA3: I spared you the reference to nurses at the Front, but I cannot keep this from you:

“Knit! If that’s the scarf you were on at Christmas, and it looks like it, because there’s the crooked place you wouldn’t fix, let me tell you that since then I have made three socks, heals and all, and they are probably now on the feet of the Allies.”

“Three!” she said. “Why THREE?”

“I had no more wool, and there are plenty of one-leged men anyhow.”

One last addition: The last chapter is effing MIND-BLOWING.

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Filed under b for books, h for history, s for sightings