Thursday, November 29, 2007

random bullets of crap

* I wonder what percentage of blog posts are titled with some variation of "random bullets of crap." 5? 10? A bunch, I am sure.

* I have a cat named Max. I have another cat, Mini, and I refer to her as "Min." With cats named Min and Max, you'd think I was in Math. I am not. And I have not renamed Deuce with some math-related name like "Median" or whatever.

* I am deeply grateful that Muir had decent handwriting, and that Robert Underwood Johnson took to dictating his letters (and thus they are typed) in 1890. Helen Hunt Jackson had really interesting, such that although I am not working on anything scholarly related to her, I grabbed images of her letters off microfilm just to have them around.

* I don't like personal drama. It is really tiring. And stupid.

* I like it when it snows and I can go out into the yard and try to figure out what all the little prints are...squirrel, bird, rabbit, cat, other.

* I only have two more weeks until this semester is in the books. It went by very quickly.

* I am not teaching freshman composition next semester. Instead, I am teaching Professional and Technical Writing (ESL version), which is for juniors/seniors. That's pretty cool.

* I did some work at a coffeeshop today, and I ran into one of our folks-on-the-market. She's super nice and smart, and I really hope she gets a job...or at least an interview. We have a few people on the market, and two in particular are just awesome and I want wonderful things to happen for them (such as interviews and offers!).

* We have good coffeeshops here for working—big tables, lamps, WiFi. There aren't many, but the ones we have are pretty great.

* I really dig the two seminar papers I'm working on. Well, I dig the topics/ideas. The papers are a little...drafty at this point.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

freshly tattooed

Muir Doodle TattooI am now the proud owner of a John Muir doodle tattoo. Good thing I like the guy.

The tattoo —no photo because it's difficult to take a photo of your own right arm with a cameraphone when you're right-handed— looks pretty much like the doodle shown here.

It was pretty funny when I handed the image to the tattoo artist and said "it needs to retain its crappy-doodle-ness," and he just sort of looked at me like "are you sure?" and I said just go with it. He was a really good sport and did a good job. At one point, after starting, he did that nice customer service thing where he asked if I was ok, and I said "yeah, this isn't my first rodeo" and he had to stop because he was laughing. I get on well with tattoo guys.

I never did the transcription of the letter in which the doodle was found, but I've done part of it below. I say "part of it" because I didn't need all of the letter—it had nothing to do with my research, so I didn't scan all of it from the microfilm...I just liked the doodle and the doodle was on the first page. So, you get the first page.

The letter (dated July 23, 1888) is from John Muir to his daughter, Annie Wanda Muir, who was 7 years old at the time. He wrote the letter while in Victoria, BC, but was talking about the California mountains.
My Dear Wanda,
When I was at Mount Shasta on my way up here I was walking along thinking about the changes that had been made since I last climbed the old mountain—the railroad and the cars and the sawmills and the lots of new houses. I was thinking how different everything about the foot of the mountain looked when all of a sudden I saw a bear. A brown hairy muzzle with long teeth and a wet black nose. I was startled at first and said hulou old fellow what are you doing here. Then up he jumped like a man and looked at me with his cunning eyes and held out his arms and spread his claws and big paws. Then I saw that he was chained and I gave him an apple and he ate it up then I ventured to walk close up to him and pat him on the head as if he were a dog. Then he took my hand in his mouth—as if he might bite it off and he did bite it a little. But I yanked it away before he could get a good hold...
I really think the man should have written children's stories. His letters to his kids are really great.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

funny thing i heard in a bar

I think about this exchange and it makes me laugh because it was just so incredibly lame.

I was sitting at a bar with a chum and some drunken fancies-himself-an-athlete kind of fellow (think of a stereotype and you'll get the picture) was talking himself up to...whomever could hear...and he says (in an attempt to make himself sound tough, I guess):

"I had Tommy John surgery. I had it on my shoulder."

At which point I leaned over to my chum and said, "Uh, Tommy John surgery is for your ulnar ligament. In your ELBOW. You can't have it on your shoulder. What an idiot."

Seriously. Even if you're drunk you shouldn't say stupid crap like that. You just look really...stupid. And lame.

But funny!


thanksgiving break

I consider it to be over and must now get back to work. Thus the blogging. Ha!

At my job-for-money, we had the week "off" because our primary client did as well and also because 2/3 of our company was in SoCal at a soccer tournament. The upside of the time "off" was that I could spend quality time in the library on MTW, but the downside of the time "off" was that now that I'm a contractor and not an employee, I don't get paid for not-working. Hmm. Oh well. Beggars and choosers and all that. I certainly hope the house sells soon so I can stop freaking dwelling on this/working. I'm sure my friends do as well.

Anyway, so I spent some quality time with microfilm. At one point I wondered just how much it would cost to own a 57-reel set of microfilm all for my very own, because I will be using it for the rest of my scholarly life (or at least until I have some sort of crisis later in life and switch subjects), but then I thought that might be a little too extravagant and besides, ILL works just fine (this time, hearty thanks to the University of Arizona library for sharing!).

Spending so much time with microfilm proved quite fruitful. I admit to letting out excited squeals of joy when I came across letters that I knew existed and knew said what I "needed" them to say, despite the fact they hadn't been reprinted or discussed in other scholarly work. Who says you can't use the Force in research? Not I! I'm a big fan of going with one's gut/the Force. Until it screws me over, of course. So there's one paper that's sort of cruising right along. Parts of it have been workshopped and those parts have received good reactions from fellow students I respect, as well as the prof. So yay on that. If anyone wants to know what I'm working on, I'll tell you. I just don't want to vomit it up on my blog and be all boring blah blah. But it involves Yosemite the park, The Yosemite (the book), and the Century circa 1890/91. And other stuff. French people.

I will spend some time this morning getting together sort of less-important bits and pieces of work, and then spend the rest of the day and all of tomorrow working on another paper. It is also chugging along, but I have to present a 10-minute summary of what I'm working on, on Tuesday, so it should probably be less floaty-idea-and-citations-in-Julie's-head and more concrete/on paper.

On the personal front, I spent some time with a school chum and her lovely husband, and I declare them to be good folk. Funny thing, said school chum was all "hey, you read profgrrrrl! I've read her blog for years!" and I was all, "dude, we're sushi buddies." Which reminds me: profgrrrrl, don't you need to visit the Pacific Northwest sometime soon? I think you do.

On the other personal front, what would Thanksgiving be without the traditional fighting? Yeah, I got me some of that, too. That was not fun.

On the other other personal front, my dad had his surgery and should be home today, I think. Or yesterday. I'm a crappy daughter, I know. But at least I called on Thanksgiving! He had his L1-L2-L3 vertebrae fused, a rod put in somewhere, and some disc replacements, and blah blah. In other words, his back has been thrashed for years and this is the first step in fixing it up. When I talked to him he was loopy on pain medicine (as you would be) and he said "you had your knee done, right? how did you feel afterwards?" Now, considering that an ACL replacement is not nearly as invasive, lengthy, or all-encompassing as his surgery, I said "I wanted to shoot myself in the head for three days" (which was true, I did) and followed that up with "and so you're supposed to feel like crap for some time because you had a hell of a lot more done!" I hope he doesn't try to push himself too hard. That would indeed be a family trait.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

not california

[click to embiggen]
Look! Snowy!

Good thing I got the car tuned up/winterized the other week, and also took care of getting all new (all-season) tires on Saturday. I spent a good chunk of change on my car, but it was necessary because, as you can see, I'm not in California anymore.

[Ok sure, it snows in California. But not in San Jose.]

Sunday, November 18, 2007

i learned something important about people here...

...they sure do love their karaoke.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This image goes with this blog post. I finally cleaned up the scan.

The text of the letter in which the bear-doodle can be found is actually funny and poignant, and if I didn't have 104 essays to grade for Friday I would transcribe it.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

i think it's time for a new tattoo

For those of you who know me in real life, you know I have a lot of tattoos. With the exception of a few, they all have stories and deeply personal meanings behind them. Mostly they are markers of events or feelings or things I want to be sure to remember, etc. I got my last one six years ago, and certainly a ton of stuff has happened since then that I should mark. But nothing really jumped out like this one thing did...

Some of you probably know what it is I work on in my scholarly life. Some of you might recall the Great Yosemite Bear Story of 2007. Ahem.

Well, the other day in the microfilm room, I found my next tattoo.

In a letter to his daughters when they were wee ones (like 7 and 3), Muir doodled a little grizzly bear in the corner of the page. It's really cute -- half scary, half cuddly. Very Muirish.

So there you go. The only question now is where (on my body) to get it. Hmm.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

random notes from the car dealership

* No, I'm not getting a new car. I just always have my car serviced at the dealership. These days, the dealership is 73 miles from my house, so I had to wait for a "free" day to drive up to Spokane and park myself in the customer lounge. It's the 60,000 mile service and will be an all-day affair (or at least half a day). I have to say that I love the free coffee, the nice lounge with the broadband connection, and the little desk area. Also, the lack of other people is pretty cool. In California, it would be hustling and bustling and the WiFi connection would be overloaded and the coffee would be empty and then they'd still charge me a gazillion dollars. At least when they charge me a gazillion dollars today, I'll be happier about it.

* You will be hard-pressed to find a better 8 and 49 Scrabulous player on Facebook. I'm like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of Scrabulous: not terribly sucky, wins a few against the Yankees, but loses a bunch of close games and winds up with a shitty record (see above). But I will always play, and with anyone. I think I'm a Scrabulous masochist.

* I had an awesome potential bingo in one of my games yesterday (with my nemesis, no less -- the one who takes great pleasure in beating me although she does it all the time so it's not really unexpected) but I couldn't play it anywhere! I held on to it for a few moves until it became apparent I really wouldn't be able to play it, and then let it go. It was "quixote." I couldn't even play the non-bingo version, which would still have rocked. Le sigh.

* I don't really have end-of-semester stress. I only have perhaps six hours of reading left, in total, and my two seminar papers are trucking along quite nicely (the other seminar is a portfolio of stuff we've been doing all semester, and my second drafts of those things do not require a lot of work).

* I will still have two sets of GenEd essays to grade, and that does kind of suck. But whatever. More on that later.

* My profs think I'm smart! Yay! More on that later.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


My passport photo makes me look like a terrorist. Ok sure, a sketchy Italian one, but still.

Just saying.

edited to add... against my better judgment, I've put a link in the comments


Monday, November 5, 2007

most influential

So I was just sitting here thinking, as I am wont to do early in the morning, and for some reason I thought about Neal Stephenson's book, Snow Crash (1992). What I thought about was that this book was probably more influential on me/how I think/what I care about/etc than anything else.

Then I said "huh" to no one in particular.

I still stand by what I said in January, that The Diamond Age is my favorite Stephenson book (if not one of my favorite books of all), but Snow Crash was far more influential.

Let's see:
* religion and society
* violent human nature and restraint
* avatars and the metaverse
* railguns
* pizza

Yep. Most influential.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

put a coat on, young man!

It was chilly this morning...maybe upper 30s? Something like that. I had to run up to campus and get some stuff from the bookstore (that's right, mom and dad, I'll finally mail your package!), and as I was getting back into my car I saw a guy walk on by wearing only a pair of running shorts and a thin t-shirt.

He did not appear overly red or frozen, and didn't have any sort of gruff aura around him, so I took the opportunity to joke: "Put a coat on, young man!" and he turned around and laughed...

"I'm from Alaska. This is nothing!"

Touché, my young friend. Touché.

[This story will appear ironic to those who know me in real life and from California and know I rarely wear a coat. In fact, it wouldn't be an outing with my friends to San Francisco without one of them (or her mom) chiding me for not wearing a coat.]