Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We're here!

Writing dropped off the priorities list after my last post in October because we did, in fact, move to Snowy State (although there's still no snow here).  J got a job in Snowy State literally days after my last post--a college friend called on a Thursday to say that if J could be there on Monday, there was a job waiting for him, so he drove off with a car full of stuff and the cat.  It's not a super reliable job, since theater work is unreliable work: when it rains it pours, but when there's nothing, there's nothing.  Because J works on the technical set construction end, his kind of jobs dry up once the acting starts, as with the start of all the big Christmas shows.  

Between my stipend and pinching our pennies, we're doing ok.  J lived with my mother in October/November while looking for an apartment, and I stayed in Cloudy City to finish teaching, sublet our apartment, and finish the move out on that end.  The Post Office has lost at least two of the twenty-three boxes (yes, 23!) of books I mailed, which concerns me since my academic and craft books are hard to find and expensive.  

My sewing machine is also somewhere in transition across the country, so with the unpacking and holidays there will be minimal craft making.  I've felt a little at loose ends since getting unpacked because I usually mix writing time with craft project time, and most of my sewing/craft things are either still in the mail or were donated.  I'm trying to keep purchases minimal right now because of J's job situation and all the travel I'll be doing for research after the holidays (hello, airplane craft projects), but it just feels odd to have so much of our usual stuff around and then reach for a pair of scissors and not be able to find them or be sad to not have glitter.  (Although there is no such thing as too much glitter anyway).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Moving forward . . .

My mother works with a lot of corporate bureaucrats, although she isn't one herself, so "moving forward" is one of her favorite phrases to use when she's annoyed with the way things are (not) progressing.

J had another job interview yesterday, near Major Metropolis.  It was a place that sounded good at first: union, union wages, health care, good pay, good location.  But at his interview he was told that overtime is mandatory, there are layoffs every three months of people who are deemed "no longer useful" and the shop only works when there is work, and sometimes there isn't work.  That last part is pretty standard in the theater business, but the rest sounds sketchy, especially since we would have to move long distance for him to work there and there isn't much other work for him in the area if he were to be laid off.

Moving home to Snowy State is looking more and more likely, since he's gotten some offers for short term work there, his professional network is pretty strong there, and our families are both nearby if he can't find something for a while.  Cost of living is also lower.

Moving to Snowy State is looking so likely, in fact, that we're selling a lot of our furniture this week and making preparations for him to drive out there at the end of the week if we don't hear a gold plated offer from the sketchy place.  It's a bit jarring, because we've been sitting on our hands for so long and now things are suddenly moving forward so quickly.

I had to go through my fabric stash to get rid of things for the move (Snowy State is a multi-day drive, and we can't afford movers or to ship much).  Some of it I was able to get rid of with a sense of relief, because I've been sitting on it for so long that it's no longer exciting, and there's an awesome sewing/fabric thrift store in our town that only does donated fabric and notions, so it's going to a good cause.  But I still have a ton that I have plans for but no time for.  I'm increasingly excited to move near family in Snowy State, but parring down my fabric stash and the plans I had for it feels like a big break with the plans I had in Cloudy City.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Where have I been?

Out of the stockpot, into the fire?
It's been since July since I posted!  It got so easy to push off posting until next week, then the week after, then the week after.  Mostly this has been because of anxiety over two big issues that came up over the summer.

J has done lots and lots of applications, and even got a job offer, but the place that offered him the job stopped responding to phone calls or emails before he had a chance to start.  He's currently in limbo at another place where he got to the final round of interviews (as in, he was one of three candidates), but the hiring committee has pushed off notifying for two weeks running now.  Both of these would have meant major interstate moves for us, as would all the other applications he's put out without hearing back about.  Right now we're contemplating a move back to Snowy State, where our parents live and J has a network for finding freelance work because we went to school there.

The other big issue has been a threatening-to-become-major medical issue for me, some joint pain which has started to impair my mobility and ability to do things like type, knit, and sew for long periods.  I thankfully have insurance coverage for it, despite J's work situation, because I'm still insured through my family due to my student status, so that at least has not contributed to the anxiety.  The good of it has been that my doctor hasn't found indications of rheumatoid arthritis or anything else which would cause long term damage, but not having a diagnosis means also not having a treatment plan.

So while nothing actively bad has happened to us, the lack of forward motion, the looming certainty of our January get-out-of-town deadline, the uncertainty of where we would go, and the possibility of losing my ability to do both my job and my favorite hobbies for an undiagnosable medical reason has made for a lot of anxiety and fear here at chez Construct.  That the joint pain may be itself a symptom of anxiety over the whole situation hasn't helped.

I'll be trying to get back into the swing of blogging again.  AB's posts over at Secret Confessions of a Trailing Spouse have always been encouraging, so I know this too shall pass.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Planned Parenthood

I've never used Planned Parenthood--I've been incredibly fortunate that my healthcare has been covered through my family for my whole life, and that my privilege to be a full-time at this point in my life has allowed me to keep that coverage into adulthood.

But that coverage has been dependent on a lot of things which were never certain--on my father keeping his job, on my maintaining a relationship with my father, on my ability to attend college and graduate school.  Without violating anyone else's privacy too much, I'll just say that I have both friends and family who currently or in the past have lacked health insurance to cover even the most basic care.  I have both friends and family whose health care is currently uncertain because it's being threatened by both state and federal budget cuts and government shutdowns, and being used as a bargaining chip by the so-called progressive left in this country.

I've been to Planned Parenthoods, various ones, several times, with friends who didn't have health insurance, who couldn't access health insurance for fear their parents would find out about their use of birth control, whose health insurance didn't cover the care they needed, who used to have health insurance, but who lost it due to unemployment, who had to leave college due to health issues and could no longer be covered by their parents' insurance, who left marriages and therefore lost health insurance.  Their lack of insurance has made me very aware of the temporariness, the contingency, of health insurance, and therefore care, in this country.

Emergency care is available to the uninsured in this country only to the extent that it stabilizes the emergency--care providers are under no obligation to treat the underlying problem which caused the emergency, or even to provide follow up care.  Government-assisted or -provided care is available on a contingent basis as well--contingent on what legislators believe to be moral, contingent on politically motivated budget cuts, contingent on the government staying open, which, as we're seeing on both a state and federal level, is not a guarantee.

I support Planned Parenthood because health care ought not be contingent.  It ought not depend on staying with an employer, in a relationship, on being born to the right parent, on maintaining a relationship with a parent, on student status, or on the moral, religious, political decisions of others, be they relatives or legislators.  Lacking either universal care or the political will to institute universal care in this country, I support Planned Parenthood because it offers care that is contingent on nothing more than individual need.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Planned Parenthood

If you haven't heard already, Shakesville and What Tami Said will be hosting a blog carnival of posts in support of Planned Parenthood on July 7.  If you have been affected by access (or lack thereof) to Planned Parenthood, visit Shakesville or What Tami Said to see how to participate.  I have never accessed Planned Parenthood services myself directly; I'll be posting on the privilege which has enabled me to say that, and why it's important to me that Planned Parenthood be available (hint: it involves valuing affordable healthcare for everyone, even those who don't have the good fortune to be related to someone with a job which provides family healthcare).  If Planned Parenthood or affordable healthcare access is something you value, consider adding your own post.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Deaccessioning

The cat and I have been spending some time in the guest bedroom going through things to get rid of before we move.  Currently it's sewing patterns.

I learned to sew mostly on my own and later working in the costume department of a living history museum, like Plimouth Plantation or Colonial Williamsburg on a small scale.  (It was an 1840-1890 midwest town and I also worked as an interpreter, so I was the young lady school teacher.  Also a lady blacksmith.  Also a male soldier. Basically it was the best high school job ever.)

The costume department made our own clothes and the clothes for the rest of the staff and the volunteers, and the museum either couldn't afford bulk licencing from pattern companies or couldn't find patterns correct to the costuming director's standards.  The more experienced folks drafted patterns from their own research, original clothes in our or other museums' collections, or modified slopers.  That was probably the most long-lasting benefit I got from that job--I stopped working there after my second year of college, after four years working there, and never worked up the skill/nerve to draft anything more complicated than a lined jacket, but it definitely gave me the confidence to try later in college and grad school.  (Not trying to brag, but re-reading that, I can't believe I drafted my own lined jacket at 17.  Working with ladies who whipped out whalebone corsets and full hoopskirt dresses and Victorian jackets sans patterns definitely put things in a different perspective at the time!)  I also did some volunteer reenacting in the 17th and 18th centuries and sold clothing to people for several years, so I have a lot of other self-drafted and commercial patterns from that as well.  I kept almost all of the patterns, slopers, and muslins which fit me, and since I haven't done any more reenacting in grad school, they've just sat in a box for the last three years.

I've sorted things to get rid of and keep, getting rid of things that either just wouldn't fit me now or which I could easily redraft.  Do I need a 17th century cap pattern or an 18th century corset pattern in the near-term future?  Probably not.  Will J and I get back into reenacting some time period once he's working a job which doesn't require 80 work weeks in the summer?  Definitely.  In the mean time, what I kept now takes up four manila envelopes in the file cabinet instead of a whole box, so that feels better.

I felt sort of sad going through everything, because those patterns represent a learning experience I didn't really appreciate at the time and cutting ties with an activity and subculture that had and has a lot of meaning for me, which I don't have time to participate in any more.  But deciding to get rid of patterns which I could easily redraft also felt pretty good:  I hung onto them when I moved because I wasn't confident of being able to recreate the clothing which I had given away or sold when I moved to Overcast.  I've grown a lot in my sewing, and if I did it once I can do it again.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This is why I have a Master's

Chocolate chip cookies + marshmallows = smartest idea ever

(We put our marshmallows on skewers and rested them on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet while the last batch of cookies baked)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Visibility and Women's Work

Since finding out our moving plans, I've had a bit of a blah.  Like emotionally just being relieved to have a direction, but not having the energy to do anything about it.  So we've made booze (basil vodka, steeped for two days--great with strawberry liqueur and a little ginger ale), and I've been thinking about my own position next year and the year after.

 I've never really thought explicitly about myself as someone who was defined by their job, but really, that's a big reason I'm in grad school.  My father is defined by his job and profoundly unhappy because of it; my mother defines herself (I think) much more as someone who paints, cooks, gardens, and mothers, and is happier for it.  Her job is important to her, but she's managed role shifts and job shifts within her career, and not been shaken by them, and that's always much more how I saw myself.

So I find myself a little adrift this summer trying to self-motivate towards research and writing, with the thought of picking up, moving, and self-motivating elsewhere for a year.  I'll teach in the fall, and I definitely don't see myself primarily as a teacher (although that is an important part of why I wanted to be an academic).  But this whole "you're done with coursework, go write a book!" thing with no road map leaves me feeling a little lost.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Changing Gears

Thank goodness my carefully curated interior design will not be disturbed.

The left hand finally figured out what the right hand is doing.  The granting organization which thought it wouldn't let us know until July has, with some gentle nudging from my department chair, director of graduate studies, and advisor, realized that they need to respect university deadlines, and let me know today that I got the grant.  Which is good!  It's only one day before the deadline for a lot of stuff, and about three months late for notifying my landlady about whether we're renewing our lease, so it means a lot of scrambling, but it also means that I came in with five years to finish my dissertation, and now I have six.  Considering I'll start Year Four this fall, that's good news.  And it lets us stay to finish our CSA and our garden.

When we thought that we wouldn't know until July, J and I started to make plans like we would both be moving at the end of his current contract in September.  We made plans about what to sell when (most of the furniture, mostly in August).  We started looking at the apartment markets in cities we're likely to move to.  So we've got all these plans in motion which need to be put off six months.  J's job in theater is mostly on an academic year schedule.  There's summer theater, and there's winter theater, and they more or less line up with the academic calendar neatly, which is great for us long term (It just worked out that way.  I had just gotten into grad school and he had just declared his theater major when we started dating, so we hadn't really thought about the long-term compatibility of our career choices).  There is no theater in Overcast during the winter, and jobs elsewhere start in September, so he's moving in September no matter when I move.  We did two years of long distance already; I'm not looking forward to another semester of it.

But.  Getting this grant puts me off the academic year calendar.  Our current lease is on the academic calendar, which makes dealing with the move in December or January pretty complicated.

ETA: There was originally a lot more whining about our lease situation and how terrible life is generally, etc, but after a. a trip to the farm to pick up our CSA share b. talking with a good friend on the way there and c. talking with the landlady about renewing our lease for the fall only (until Jan 1), life looks much better.  We're moving Jan 1.  We have a firm date.  J may move before then; we may be long distance between September and December, and we may not know yet where we're moving, but at least we have another six months or so to figure it out.

Monday, June 13, 2011

So. Many. Pictures.

Due to some camera/camera cord/computer issues, I've been taking pictures but not been able to upload them reliably.  Everything's fixed now, so on with Me Made June!  There's more than a week's worth of pictures, so click through to read (if this clogs up your reader, I apologize)

Friday, June 10, 2011

(Not a) Crafty Book Review

Ok, so this doesn't exactly fit with Freeze-dried's summer book club, but considering it's media and I hated the book I selected for this week's reading, I'm going to go ahead and review the videogame Kirby's Epic Yarn.

The book:  I tried reading Yarn by Jon Armstrong for this week, with emphasis on tried.  I couldn't finish it.  I think I've put down without finishing maybe four or five novels in my life.  It's got decent reviews on Amazon, and apparently got good reviews in Publisher's Weekly, the LA Times, and Locus, and was nominated for a Phillip K Dick Award, but I hated it almost as soon as I opened it.

Why?  It's supposedly fashionpunk, a twist on dystopic cyberpunk, and the story focuses on a master tailor who worked his way up through crime and intrigue from the neo-feudal corn based wastelands of America's heartlands to the global center of fashion.  I was pretty intrigued by the concept, since I love me some dystopic fiction and sewing, but I was very disappointed.  I've read my share of cyberpunk, and this was basically cyberpunk with programming replaced with sewing: the author seems to have a pretty good understanding of fashion and sewing terms, but threw them in in a way that, even as someone who knows the terms and is used to encountering a lot of jargon in genre fiction, I found off putting.  The writing, both dialogue and descriptive, was otherwise terribly stilted, with overly long, complex sentences put together with the same repetitive and boring adjectives.  And don't get me started on the gender politics: the only women I saw in about 150 pages were literally sex objects presented for the male gaze.

So that's how we get a review of a videogame rather than a book.  J and I picked up Kirby's Epic Yarn for the Wii on super-discount sale, so I'm not sure if I would love it as much if we'd paid full price (50USD), but for 20USD, I love it.  I tend to play a lot of games, but I would identify as neither a gamer nor the new-to-the gaming industry "female casual gamer" demographic.  Shooting zombies or matching jewels? No thank you.  Turning into a yarn robot who unravels sweater snowmen? Yes please.

I've never played anything in the Kirby franchise before, but the game doesn't require it to be enjoyable.  It's a platformer side scrolling game with about as much storyline as any Mario game (which is about maximum amount of story I want in my game, frankly).  There's no princess to save, and it's cooperative two player rather than competitive.  The aesthetics are awesome for someone who loves sewing/knitting/crafting, because the designers obviously put a lot of thought and care into tying both the game design and the game mechanics together aesthetically.  The image above doesn't really do the design justice: the fabric detail of the backgrounds and worlds are really detailed and beautiful, and the fabric design has a lot to do with the interactivity of the game play.  The point of the game is to collect points and objects to unlock more game, but a lot of the levels have such fun mechanics (ie, swimming as a dolphin, bouncing, etc) that they're very replayable.

The other thing I like about it is that it's challenging and varied but not difficult or demanding.  That is, there's enough puzzle solving to hold your attention, but it doesn't require you to try a level over and over to succeed or to memorize a bunch of nonsense key combinations to beat the bad guys.  I find overly dense interface to be a real barrier to my enjoyment of a game, so if I can't understand it without a long tutorial or memorizing a bunch of junk, I just don't play anymore.  Kirby has a good combination of being pretty, fun, and easy to play in short bursts while having more goal and variety than something like Bedazzled or Farmville.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer in a glass

It's still not quite local strawberry season in Overcast, but when the first strawberries of the season showed up a few weeks ago in the grocery store, I had to get some for eating and some for booze.  This is probably my favorite of the liqueurs we've done so far, both because it was easiest and because it's retained the flavor of the fruit best.  (We've done blueberry, orange, banana, and fig besides this).  I didn't really measure, just putting enough hulled and halfed strawberries to loosely fill a quart mason jar, with enough vodka to cover.  They sat for about two weeks, turning into the horrible pale alien fruit things you see above.

With just draining, the yield was only about 2 cups/12 ounces, but squeezing the strawberries in a cheesecloth bag brought the yield up by half again to about 3 cups.  Since it was still at this point basically pink vodka, we added a little more than a cup of 1-1 simple syrup and a little lemon to round out the taste and dilute it a little. Verdict:  It's basically a perfect little sip of summer.  I'm thinking there might be strawberry mint spritzer in my future.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crazy Knitting

I've started what might be a crazy knitting project.  The image above is of a "coffee cloth" from Marianne Kinzel's First Book of Modern Lace Knitting, and I love me some lace knitting.  I haven't done any lace knitting in the past few years a. due to time and b. I never wore the scarves and shawls I made, so I stopped making more.

I never wore them because I'm not really a shawl person, and although I liked lace knitting, I wasn't really a lace wearing person until recently.  I spent the last few years of college and the first few years of graduate school trying hard to look grown up and professional, so there wasn't much room in my closet for frilly things. Due in part to having more room in my life to not dress professional (hello next year of no teaching!), my own changing taste, and more confidence that I can be taken seriously while wearing ruffles and lace, I wanted to go back to lace knitting.

But I'm still not really a shawl wearing person.  I do wear a lot of circle skirts, though, and I had several balls of a wool/silk blend in my overflowing stash.  (I have a newfound concern with clearing out my stash besides our impending move: I found another ball of 100% wool which had many of its wraps snapped, I assume from being eaten by moths.  We've never had moth sachets in our house before, but we do now!)

So here's the plan: I cast on and knit a stockinette stitch yoke to a little more than my waist measurement, leaving the ends unconnected so there will be a slit to get me in and out of the skirt.  I gradually increased the yoke so that it measured both more than my hip measurement and had the right number of stitches to repeat the lace pattern. (Rather than starting with the very center of the pattern, which was all just [k1 yo] rep to get the piece to size, I started a few rounds down where the actual lace pattern started).  When the yoke got to the right size, I connected the ends and knit a few rows in stockinette in the round, then started the lace pattern.  The original pattern has eight repeats of the pattern; my skirt has twenty five.  And rather than wearing just the lace, which is intentionally see-through, I plan on making a silk or other light fabric circle skirt to go with it, and stitch them together at the yoke, leaving the hem of the lace to do its own thing.

Does that sound like a crazy project?  Have you ever had a technique you wanted to do, but didn't know what to do with it that would be wearable/useable for you?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Book Club

I've finished my first summer book club book!  Admittedly, I picked it for my first book because it's super short: more of a novella than a novel (~140 pages/20K words).  I read Bone and Jewel Creatures, by Elizabeth Bear.  I've never read anything by Bear before, but I read Tor.com occasionally, which often has single book reviews and combined reviews of books with queer characters, strong feminist leanings, and other features of sff that don't get talked about enough.  Bear is a contributing writer over at Tor, and her books pop up frequently over there, so she's been on my radar for a while.

Anyway, the book at hand:  short and awesome.  It's not short and sweet because, well, it's not sweet.  It's pretty unsettling, but not in a horror-genre way.

Despite being very short, the characterization is both detailed and subtle.  The narrative sort of dumps us at the end of what could have been an epic multi-book fantasy series, full of court intrigue, political maneuvering, love and backstabbing, but without being about those.  It's more about what those people do with their lives once the epic change is accomplished, and what legacy they leave in the lives of those around them.  

The story centers on a very old woman and her relationship with a grown apprentice and a small child, in a way that is nurturing but not exactly mothering.  The main character's central power is to create life from death, which, when you think about it, is pretty metaphorical.  It's unusual to see older women in sff, or other fiction, and it's a book about self-determination and sacrifice without being about the idealization of sacrifice for women.

The main character is both strong and frail, and she is both strong and frail as a woman without the book centralizing her femininity.  For example, the plot centers around a long-past love triangle, and the betrayal and hurt that it caused, but her character hinges more on her friendship with another woman.  Her accomplishments and strengths are not exactly gender neutral, but they are more about the pursuit of intellectual accomplishment and teaching, rather than being about mothering.

(I guess in this case I would classify nurturing as more of teaching and supporting, while mothering is a more sentimental, emotional nurturing.  Not a perfect distinction, and not to say that there's something better about non-mothering nurturing than mothering, but it's not common to see older women in fiction in non-mothering roles).

I once had a conversation with one of my committee members, who is A Very Big Deal in women's history, who asked me what I thought feminist history ought to look like, if it necessarily had to be about women, and if you could have a feminist history that was not necessarily about women.  After a while of going around about what feminist history might look like, we arrived at this: while feminist history could be explicitly feminist and say that up front, it could also be only implicitly feminist in its presentation and interpretation, like a secret feminist handshake.  Bone and Jewel Creatures has a pretty firm handshake.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A placeholder

I did a lot of academic work today which did not directly result in writing (translations, organizing photos, etc) and a lot of hand wringing over my grant status.  The grant which was supposed to notify me around May 15 is now saying July.  July!  This is a university organization, and I have to file my fall status with the university by June 15 or pay a massive late filing fee to the university.  

The left hand knows not what the right hand does.  If this were a completely outside organization making this grant, I could understand that they might work on a different schedule.  I've applied for grants at institutions in the United Kingdom, which are on very different schedules; I know how that goes.  But this organization is within my university, and makes the same grant to many, many graduate students every year.  Presumably they would have knowledge of the schedule said graduate students work under.

So, in lieu of actual content or progress, I give you a cat picture.  Please enjoy.

(Yes, he's leaning on the screen; yes, we've checked it to make sure it's sturdy and he won't fall through it).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Me Made Kickoff

Me made June at chez Construct is rolling, although we had some technical difficulties yesterday--my camera is broken (and on its way to being fixed by my dad) and J takes his camera to work with him to document things they make at the shop.  I don't think I've mentioned yet, but J transitioned May 1 from working at the liquor store to working at the theater scene shop, and his work clothes for the shop are mostly me-made--I've patched and remade all of his pants, and made some of his work shirts.  

Anyway, back to the lady clothes.  The top above is self drafted from a bias cut thrifted Express top that I love.  And, despite not really being a ruffles kind of girl, I've caught ruffle mania from the rest of blogland and had to put ruffles and some lace on this. 

 This is a Vintage Vogue pattern that I had a terrible time getting to fit right, but I just love it.  When I first put it together, the shoulders were so large and so far apart, and the waist/bust so large, that it literally did not stay up on me.  It took a lot of cursing and modifications to get the neckline narrowed, but it's now one of my more comfortable go-to dresses because it's light enough to wear in summer but heavy enough for layering in the winter.

And finally, the air plant, because that's sort of how I'm feeling today.  I don't usually wear my hair down in public because A. it gets bigger as the day progresses B. it gets in my way when teaching and C. people touch it.  I ran errands today, and while I love getting compliments from strangers, I do not love being touched by strangers.  While walking, I had one man stop me and tell me I had "dropped my smile" and a lady waiting in line with me ask if she could touch my hair.  And then another woman touched my hair without asking.  People!  Leave strangers alone!  Young women do not exist in public for the gratification of strangers.  I appreciate that you may want to tell me how "wholesome" and "all-American" I look (code words, I think, for white, non-threatening, and retrograde, and things I am frequently told by strangers in public, at airports, in banks, at grocery stores, etc), but do not touch.  It's an invasion of personal space that I've never heard that a man of my acquaintance has experienced, like being told to smile. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The questions we ask

I'm starting to think about the questions my dissertation asks, and the problem I see with the existing scholarship in my field is sometimes not that it answers important questions incorrectly, but that it asks the wrong questions.  Like a cat who likes to sit squished between both a window screen and a couch, the scholarship is awfully comfortable and doesn't want to go anywhere.  (Is that too much metaphor to put on one cat?  Sorry.  Had to work in the cat photo somehow).

I've been going round and round in trying to frame my dissertation, because I do find the way that the current scholarship answers the big questions to be wrong, but I also find the questions wrong in a way I couldn't articulate until recently.  Graduate education, or at least my graduate education, has focused on learning to engage with the terms of debate as they stand in the field.  There's nothing wrong with this; I think it's necessary to know how to engage a discussion as it stands in order to recognize your position in it and the limits of that debate's frame.  What it doesn't teach you is how to reframe the debate.  Some of the best scholarship does that, and while it may be overly ambitious for a dissertation project, at least in my subfield, the terms of debate are so broken and retrograde that I'm beginning to feel they're unusable for what I think my evidence is telling me.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Goals

Monday was Memorial Day in the US; it's officially for reals summer here (90F helps prove it), so it's time to solidify summer research plans and other things.  On the slate for summer blogging plans:  Me Made June, the Summer Book Club, and Notorious/Another Damned Medivalist's Summer Writing Group.  I think I'm going to loosely tie the book club and the writing group together: my reading list (and book club related posting) is going to be heavy on sci fi/fantasy with a feminist angle, along with some more generalized posts on race, feminism, and material culture provoked by my more heavily theoretical reading for my writing project, a first draft of a dissertation chapter.  (omg)   A lot of what interests me about my dissertation topic is the systemic creation of the consumer culture we engage with now and the personal creation of identity through clothing; I hope the intersection of theoretical issues with consumerism and identity making might interest you as well.

In non-theoretical news, J and I spent the hottest day of the year (so far) biking and picnicing at Snooty U's arboretum.  By my conservative estimate, we biked around a thousand million miles, but J says it was more like ten.  Except for a broken shifter on my bike when we were almost home, it was basically one of the most perfect summer days you could ask for: homemade beer, at an empty park, eating fancy cheeses and warm strawberries with a nice boy.  More picnics are also on the summer to do list.  

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Deaccessioning is a good word I learned while working for and later researching at museums, and it's how I'm trying to think about the move.  It means that, rather than getting rid of something or throwing it away, you deprioritize it out of the primary research or display rotation, and move it on to somewhere that will value it.

We're currently in the process of deaccessioning books and furniture, which was stressful to begin with, like the plants, but is now becoming less stressful.  (I think I got stressed out about the plants because they were one of the last things I had yet to realize we had to move).  The furniture stressed me out to begin with because so much of what we have is thrifted and we've put a lot of work into making it ours.  Painting, reupholstering, building, it's all too big to move with us, but like handmade clothing, something with that much work put into it is hard to part with.  Additionally, I think what stresses me out about the thought of moving is my associations:  although all of my own adult moves have been very smooth and relatively stress-free, I never moved as a child until my parents divorced, so it doesn't have the best memories for me.

Part of what consoles me about deaccessioning furniture which we've put a lot of work into is the thought that if we did it once, we can do it again.  It won't be the same, but that's part of the fun of handmade, that you can make it better next time.

So what does this have to do with all the pattern photos?  We've been making a conscious effort to stop buying books, fabric, dishes (I collect vintage/antique serving pieces) and other bulky things, but without really thinking about it, I've shifted my aimless buying to patterns.  I was never really interested in accumulating a lot of patterns until the past few months.  I started drafting my own patterns two years ago, and stopped buying new patterns unless I had something in mind I wasn't sure how to draft.  But there's something consoling about buying vintage patterns: some of these, like the ones in the top photo, have pretty heavy wear but they're still in good shape, and they all have so much potential.  They're part of my effort to shift my thinking about the move as a break from what I've made in Overcast to thinking about the move as a bridge to something new and exciting.

And the news about the move?  Next week.  Or at least that's what they say.  That's two next weeks that the granting agency has pushed off the decision.  Their original notification date was 10 May, and it's nearly June. I guess when you're the one handing out the money instead of the one asking for the money, you can call deadlines however you want.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer book club

For anyone who, like myself, needs a little motivation to do more than stare at the book shelf, Freezedried is doing a summer book club.  I haven't put much thought into my list, but I have a stack of economic/race theory books I need to read and a stack of sci fi/fantasy I want to read.  Hop on over to let her know if you're interested.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Plants Inside and Out

As part of my defiant homemaking, the gardening continues.  This is the first year I've had a successful garden--our last place only allowed containers, and it was too shady for even lettuce.  The half nearest the viewer is the neighbors'; the half towards the back is ours.  We'll have some leeway on when we move (J's job goes until mid-September, so we have to be here at least that long) but the neighbors may end up getting the last of our garden. I'm becoming ok with that--they're nice people, and the garden is already worth it for the relaxation I get from it.

Remember this guy?  The little airplant we got in Brooklyn earlier this spring?  It's apparently very happy, since it started blooming all over.  It's very entertaining to watch, since it changes from breakfast to dinner and puts out more flower buds every day.

It is also one of the things I'm least worried about packing.  We're starting to get rid of books and furniture, since we'll be moving by January no matter what happens.  Right now it feels like bailing out the ocean with a teaspoon, since we have so much stuff.  I don't know how to begin thinking about which houseplants to move and which to leave.  If you've seen my second ever post, you know I have a lot of houseplants, and that's not even all of the houseplants.  When we moved across town last summer, the plants alone took a car trip by them selves to move, and I've gotten more since then.  (Whoops).  There are a couple that I'm looking for the excuse to get rid of (over grown rescue plants and office plants) but my plants are as much of a collection as anything else.  It's taken me three years to find and cultivate what I have, and it makes me sad to think of giving them up.  Something like my books can be shipped and sustain a little damage, while my collection of antique dishes can be packed relatively compactly and be taken with us in the car.  The furniture is mostly going to be sold.  But the plants--they take up so much room, won't ship well, and I don't know what to do with them.  That's honestly what's stressing me out the most about the move right now.  I don't care where we go, just let me take my plants!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beer and Working from Home

Not a full beer post, but here's some pics from the bottling of our most recent beer.  Both me and J's families are full of medical professionals and engineers, so making beer is basically the only time we get to feel like scientists. The above photo is the post-fermentation measurement of the alcohol content: the floating thing is a hydrometer, which floats higher or lower depending on the density of the liquid.  The higher it floats, the denser the liquid, the higher the remaining sugar content.  Floating lower means more of the sugars have converted to alcohol. 

And here's our bottling set up.  The top jug is emptying into the bottom jug to mix the beer with the priming sugar (what gives the beer its carbonation after it's bottled) in a controlled way, but the priming sugar can be added straight to the first jug if you don't have a lot of glass jugs lying around.  (Which we do).  Mixing your beer with your priming sugar this way lets you get less of your dead yeast in your bottles. (See that pale layer in the jug on the chair?  That's about an inch of dead yeast sludge.  High in B vitamins, but gross tasting and looking).  

So why have I not been posting?  (The beer certainly hasn't needed any supervision).  I've made the transition to summer without making the transition to summer schedule.  This is the first summer in grad school that I haven't had a clear direction to point in: the first summer, I had a finite research project to work on, and the second summer I had exams to prep for.  This summer (and, let's be honest, basically since I finished my Master's exams) I've been at loose ends for a direction to go in.  Writing fellowship apps helped, because although I hated them, they were a direction to go.  This limbo (still haven't heard about where or when we're moving) certainly doesn't help, because I can't buy plane tickets for research trips six months from now if I don't know where we'll be 6 months from now.  That really shouldn't keep me from working on near-term goals, like going through photos from research trips I've already done, but that's so boring compared with planning trips to places I've never been.  

Which is all to say: working at home is hard, and snuggly cats don't help.  Pout.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Grading and Moving

The picture is of VERY early iris at the arboretum in Overcast; my iris at the house are up but not even budded (it's still tulip and daffodil season at home).  The arboretum is one of the things which has made me feel grounded in Overcast . . . it has been a place to go to figure out what's native, what's invasive, and what varieties will grow well here, so thinking about moving sometime in the next year, it feels sad to visit it.

This weekend was spent antiquing and plant-buying with my mother, so expect a few catch-up posts on that.  The next few days will be spent in a blur of grading and waiting in anticipation of news.  The deadline on the grant which will tell us the date of our move is this week, but as with all things academic. I'm not holding my breath that this will be done on time.  J is casting a wider geographic net in his job search, which I think makes us both feel better about our prospects for next year.  This week with my mother here has made me want to be back in Snowy State, but also made me realize that a year in Snowy State would mean very little research or writing.  Keep your fingers crossed for us this week . . . a no on the grant will mean a semester of pure research and writing, but a yes on the grant will mean an extra semester of support from my university.  A funny place to be in.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

To restore, or not restore?

Now that blogger's back, here's some photos of the poor decisions I hinted at last post.  There's a small, very reasonably priced antique store/jumble shop near our house, and usually I go there for costume jewelry, goofy tie tacks for J, and bits of lace.  They frequently have a couple of jumble tables covered in vintage textiles, which is where I found the lace, but this time I found these beauties:

Friday, May 13, 2011

A lovely day and a foolish decision

My mother's visit so far has been great: yesterday a brewery tour at Ommegang, the highlight of which was definitely their restaurant.  It was a bit of a drive from Overcast, but it was a great day for a drive, and we stopped at this (ridiculously over-priced) barn full of antiques arranged into little rooms with creepy mannequins posed in all the rooms.

Today was a visit to the local arboretum, where all the crab apple trees were in bloom, picnic under the apple trees, and then antiques.  The crab apples were just at their peak, and the arboretum has a whole hillside covered in them, so we had a good workout climbing the path-less hill to find the perfect place to sit for lunch.

At the antique store, a local place which is a little more of a jumble shop and has very reasonable prices, some very foolish decisions were made.  I'm going to do a full post on my poor decision making tomorrow, but to give you a hint, here's a photo of one of the foolish choices:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jacket Success!

I trimmed down the seams of the RTW jacket, and it's looking much better.  It's pulling a little oddly, but I'm hoping that's just from being pinned and from the facing kind of drooping because the lining isn't holding it in place.  But the fit is SO much better.  It may make the jacket unwearable if my body changes much (my mother pesters me to "make clothes that you can wear after you have babies") but I'm ok with that.  Here's the before and afters:

Vogue 8333

It has a much more tailored fit now--thanks to almost a 1/2 inch taken off every seam except the center back and center fronts.  I'm not really looking forward to making both of these modifications to the lining, since I didn't make great notes about what changes I made, but really, it's just shaved down on all the seams.

Posting may be light the next few days, since my mother is in town to visit for the week.  I'm hoping to get some pictures up of the garden and the farmer's market, but we'll see whether my digital camera wins out over her grocery store instant in number of photos taken.  It usually loses, but I'll try to take some photos.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blog note

I'm having trouble posting comments on blogger blogs the last day or two; I can't even reply to comments here.  So if you've posted a comment here, or haven't seen me commenting around lately, I apologize!  I have been reading, and hopefully I'll get my comment situation figured out soon.

Boudoir Photos

Not really, but here are some pictures of the beds in our house.  J and I went to an awesome party on Saturday for some friends who finished their Master's (Mistress) degree exams, and we had a little bit too good of a time.  So on Sunday, we headed out to the greasy spoon near our house for some pancakes, eggs and fried ham, but that didn't quite settle my stomach.  J, knowing me, suggested that the thriftstore next door could cure what eggs and toast couldn't, and indeed it did.  There's several thrift stores in Overcast, and this one specializes in furniture and local art (new, not resold) so we don't usually get much, but we got two amazing finds. 

We found a quilt and a quilt top--the quilt for 80$ and the quilt top for 40$, both hand sewn.  My mother has a house full of quilts she got when she was my age, back before antique quilts were collectible, when she would pick them up for ten bucks at garage sales.  But I haven't seen any in my price range at all, and I've been looking for several years.  Most of my vintage table cloths are ones picked up for a song, but I've never seen quilts for less than 100. 

Here's the quilt top on our guest bed, spread out so I could see how big it is.  It must be around a king, since it reaches to the floor on both sides of the full guest bed.  It's not a color combo I would have picked, but it's really fun without being overwhelming.  I've never made a quilt before, but I think I'm going to at least figure out how to back and bind this one, since it's too pretty to leave folded up.  I have no idea how old these might be--the pink and brown looks and feels like it's all quilting weight cotton, and it's a little 70s in the colors and prints, but I really don't know.  The white and pink looks like it's pieced from garment fabric, and the white fabric is several different kinds, and none of it feels like synthetic.  Don't know.

The white does have this odd header/footer band which looks like it must have been added later.  When we first bought it, I thought it must have been added because the maker ran out of blocks to make a bed-length quilt, but after getting it home, it looks like the band was added right over the quilt blocks at both the top and bottom.  From what I can feel through the fabric, it feels like the blocks are intact, so I'm thinking of snipping a few threads to see, but I'm not sure if I should take the whole thing off or not.  We'll see.  Expect some unscheduled quilting adventures later this summer.

In scheduled sewing adventures, the RTW jacket continues to vex.  It at least looks like a jacket now, and the lapels look great after all that work, but the fit is terrible.  I made my muslin modifications, but it still feels huge.  There's a lot of extra room in the underarm, which pulls on the front oddly.  I may make another go at widening the seams in the front princess seams, the back sides, and all the underarm seams, but the pieces in the underarm are so small already that I'm afraid of narrowing them too much.  At least the lapels and the pockets look ok.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sewing and Errands

I've finished the handsewing for my RTW jacket (all the padstitching and interior taping) and it looks ok.  I think the interfacing may have been a poor choice for this project, because it's delaminating around the edges of the pieces which have spent a lot of time in my bag, but it'll be sewn into the seams, so hopefully that will keep it from coming all the way off.  Plus there's plenty of interior sewing holding it to the shell fabric. 

I don't quite know if my pad stitching is going to do what it needs to do, since this is my first time padstitching anything, and I'm not sure if I helped it roll or just puckered the fabric.  I suppose we'll see when it goes together.

I thought today was going to be spent sewing and doing some research work, but that's not to be, because I need to find a new power cord for my computer.  The computer is fine, thankfully, but the powercord no longer transmits electricity, so but I need a new one in order to use my computer.   I finished my current round of grading, though, so at least I'm not pressed for time until exams come in in about two weeks.

Speaking of grading:  I usually try not to take student misbehavior or slacking personally, since 9 times out of 10 it's due to something non-academic, and I did my own fair share of it in college.  But without getting into the specifics, I'm more than a little annoyed at a paper that a student turned in.  The paper is about a politically sensitive subject, and bases a rather vague but well meaning argument off of a lot of fundamental misunderstandings about the nature of American government and about religion.  The problems of the framework are not wrong because I disagree with them politically: they're just factually wrong.  

This is bad enough, from a graduating senior who is an American, and, presumably, is qualified to vote.  But the students also had to turn in a proposal on which they got feedback early in the semester, and I spilled a lot of ink informing the student of the errors in hir* framework for understanding the interaction of religion and government, and explaining in a basic-civics kind of way how the American government actually works.  I also met with the student in person a few times, and we discussed at length how religion and government interact in relation to the student's paper topics, the student asked questions, and kind of sounded like zie* got at least the basics of how the Supreme Court is in fact different from the legislative branch, and does different things.  

But, I get the paper, and the same fundamental misunderstandings are right there, and underpin the whole argument of the paper.  IF those the student's assumptions were true, it would still be a bad paper due to poor writing, lack of sources, and vague argumentation.  BUT it also has these deep factual errors, making it both wrong and incomprehensible.  

Normally I would chalk it up to just not getting it and move along, but I met with this student on a number of occasions, talked hir through the problems of hir framework, and made detailed suggestions about where to look and how to reframe the topic so it was based on factually true things.  And the student did none of them, so I was kind of pissed while grading the paper.  I've assigned a grade, but I'm going to wait until grades are due to put an official grade in for the paper, because I'm not sure if I'm being more harsh because I spoke with the student so many times than I would be if I hadn't spoken with the student.

*What's all this "hir" and "zie" business?  If you haven't come across it before, hir and zie are used as gender neutral pronouns.  I prefer them when talking about students or about anyone else I want to keep anonymous.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Gardening and Rain

We live on the second story of a house which has been split into two apartments, and we share the backyard with the neighbors, and this is the view from our kitchen window of the yard.  We also share the garden and the picnic table, which you see here being supervised by the neighbor's dog.  Why is the garden diamond shaped?  I don't know.  Why does the neighbor's dog sit on the picnic table all the time?  I don't know.

Everything is looking pretty tough right now because we had just enough sun and warmth for the weeds to shoot up, but then the temp dropped again and it started raining so it's been too yucky to go out and put anything besides peas, lettuce and kale in.

My last few years of gardening have been in containers on the porches of apartments, and they have been dismal years.  Part of that was heavy rain and not enough sun at the apartment, but I'm kind of worried I have a black thumb.  We've also joined a CSA, so we'll be sure to have enough veggies.  Joining the CSA was also sort of a protest against the powers that be trying to push me out of Overcast with their draconian funding rules.  If things don't go according to plan and we have to move before Fall semester starts, the CSA share will go on after we have to move, but really, planting the garden is just as risky.  This is the first summer in three years that both J and I will be in Overcast all summer--we've both had exciting and career-building things which have taken one of us out of Overcast for at least a few weeks at a time the past few summers, but not this year, so I'm bound and determined to plant the garden.

I'm of a mixed mind about canning this year, though.  Whether it's August or January, we're moving sometime soon, and a bunch of glass jars won't help that.  (Although I guess we really wouldn't be canning if we moved in August).  I suppose worst case scenario is that all of our friends end up with a bunch of free home canning, or we'd try to only can a little and make room for some of it, but it seems like a lot of hassle.  I'm sort of inclined to do small batches regardless, since J and I have had good luck with small batch pickles, but I'm not sure right now.  Really, this funding uncertainty isn't so bad except when you try to plan more than two months ahead.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In which links are substituted for content

Today is a sewing, errands, and perhaps even reading day, so here are some links that I'm thinking about.  The insightful Ethel Louise has a very smart post on the recent celebrations over Osama bin Laden's death, and her discomfort (which I share) regarding both the message such celebrations send abroad and their meaning for policy and thought at home.  While I saw my facebook overflow with the kind of nationalistic celebration at the news which is being reported in the media, I'm skeptical regarding the extent of such celebration.  The reports I've seen, at least of the street celebrations, seem to have been small in number and in participation, making me think that they are being reported out of proportion to the number of people participating in them.  Which makes me wonder why the media finds it important to focus on these celebrations--perhaps to convince viewers that the news of bin Laden's death is more important than it is, both symbolically and strategically?  EL has much more on the symbolic importance of the news.

Tenured Radical has a provocative piece on the intersection of war abroad and the war on women, responding in part to a piece in the Nation on the recent rollback of American women's access to basic health and reproductive services.  While teaching the 20th century history course this semester has been very difficult given my background, that course and the Obama administration's ambivalence towards the attack on half the nation's (and, through foreign aid spending policy, half the world's) population have convinced me of the conservative turn of both the GOP and the Democrats.  When Eisenhower, Nixon, and even Reagan look progressive compared to the sitting Democratic president, you know the left in this country is in trouble.  Which makes the use of socialist as a political slur all the more infuriating: what we have seen is the expansion of state power without the expansion of state protection.  Given the erosion of citizens' access to government after the Citizens United SCOTUS case, the non-wealthy in this country, especially women, are increasingly subject to the will of the government without a voice in its implementation.

In less upsetting news (or possibly more, depending on how you feel about sewing), I'm going to do So Zo's Me-Made-June challenge, and try to wear one item of self-sewn clothing during the month of June.  I'll be trying to take daily photos of what I'm wearing, but I'm only going to do weekly posts of the photos.  I like the idea of trying to move more away from purchased clothing, and I think I finally have enough clothing made to go for a month.  I'm planning on making a top or two to round things out, though, because I have a lot of dresses and skirts and not much else.

In RTW news, the jacket is coming along, but I'm stumbling on the handsewing in the jacket front.  Well, not so much stumbling as taking a long time.  I'm cheating all over the place by mixing methods.  I'm doing some of the RTW techniques, like the block fusing for some pieces, but the jacket front has different interfacing requirements, so I'm doing a mix of the pattern's couture methods and the pattern's suggested RTW methods.

Blog Pictures 384

As you can see in the photo, I'm doing fusible interfacing but also handstitching things like the tapes for the roll line and the pocket fold, as well as the pad stitching for the collar.  I also forgot somehow that the couture method requires an underlining (a layer between the outer shell fabric and the regular lining) to provide body, so I had to rip some seams and put in the underlining, which took some time.  It's also not benefiting from being schlepped around in my bag, which is the primary reason my knitting is on hold, because the second little sweater has suffered a few too many dropped stitches in my bag going from home to class for me to want to pick up for a while.  My jacket fronts were stuffed in my bag yesterday for between-class sewing, and suffered quite a bit of wrinkling in the interfacing.  It doesn't translate to the outer surface, but I hope it doesn't mean the interfacing will peel off at a later date from wash or wear.  Has anybody found a way to keep your bag from eating your projects?  (Or a way to follow the news without becoming totally disenchanted?)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sewing and Beer

Not together, unfortunately, since the beer was last night and the sewing is this morning before class.  Although it's the last week of class, I'm sure the prof would mind if the TA showed up tipsy.

The RTW jacket is coming along, but I'm trying to be much more careful in the sewing than usual, which also means going much more slowly than usual.  There's basically a million pieces to this jacket, and almost all of them are interfaced and/or underlined, even the facings, so that part is taking me quite a while.  It's gotten warm enough to keep the windows open, so the cat is helping by keeping things weighted down and not blowing around.

Things for the pot
J and I pitched a British bitter last night, a brown ale type with a lot of floral hops but not too much bitterness. I was going to do a tutorial-type post, but we got rolling and I forgot to take pictures.  We ordered a kit from Northern Brewer, along with some new equipment, which made life much easier.  The kit was about USD45, and came with everything necessary except for steeping bags for the hops (that's the little pile of cheesecloth and kitchen twine on the far right).  This recipe had both dried malt extract (the big white bag), actual grain, and malt syrup (the jug on the right).  The two silver bags are the hops and the inflated blue/black bag in back is the yeast, which we activated in-bag by popping the nutrient capsule the morning before brewing.

Things which need sanitizing
Yes, we sanitize in the bathtub.  We use bleach because it's cheap and easy to get, and doesn't foam up like dish soap.  There are specialty sanitizers you can buy from brewing supply houses, but bleach is at the grocery store and hard to run out of.  

Despite having dried malt extract, malt syrup, and grain, the recipe was actually very easy.  If you can make soup or tea, you can make beer, because the grain steeped at one temperature for 20min, the extract and syrup were mixed in at a higher temp, and the whole thing with hops was boiled for an hour (mostly to pasteurize).  We bought a candy thermometer for this batch, which was much easier to use than the digital meat thermometer we've been trying to use before.  Made life much easier, and was two dollars instead of twenty for the digital thermometer.  Also wonderful: cheesecloth bags which keep the grain and the hops neatly contained and easy to get out.

After everything was boiled up, the pot was chilled down in the sink full of cold water, and then poured into the carboy (big glass jug).  More cold clean water was added to the carboy to bring it to room temperature, and after everything was aerated (sloshed around to bring in oxygen and mix the different density liquids) we siphoned out some liquid to test its density (there's a special, but cheap, tool for this called a hydrometer that makes you look like a scientist), poured in the yeast, and put the beer away to do its thing.  

Sounds easy because it is.  This one will be done fermenting May 14; look for a bottling update then, and it'll be ready to drink May 28.  For today, I'm off to work on the RTW jacket.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some flowers and some writing

I thought I was going to get the article I started revising last weekend done much sooner, but due to the amount of revision it needed, I sat at my desk and wrote basically all week.  Which sounds like it should be a good thing, but like my MO on research trips, my MO in writing tends to be to sit down and be consumed by it until it's finished.  This tends to preclude blogging, cooking, interacting with J, and feeding the cat for a few days in a row.  Maybe this gets it over with faster; I don't know, I've never written another way.  Since I figured out how to be good at writing papers sometime around sophomore year of college, I tend to gather gather gather material for a few weeks, and then sit down and finish the writing in one extended burst.

TR has had a discussion up this week on the health hazards of being an academic, so of course I spent most of my week sitting and writing.  Part of why this article took so long to revise was that, although I have mostly gotten my bibliographic house in order with Zotero, my digital house is a mess.  I do most of my work on a little netbook, and I used to work on a desktop computer I brought from college to grad school, and the netbook got a virus and had to undergo a major wipe last year.  I fortunately still have all my files, but they are spread over backups on my desktop, and buried in various levels of a very annoying external hard drive I bought because I thought I was so smart.

I got it when I was still actively using both computers because it came with a preinstalled sync system which would supposedly only update new versions of files, so that the newest version of the file would always be available.  Not as good as cloud computing, but many of my archives and a lot of the places I travel don't have internet, so having a copy of the file to carry around is important.  But the stupid hard drive makes it almost impossible to access the files, so now I need to pull everything off it (and between the wipe and all the shuffling, there are now some very important files which only exist on the external harddrive--dangerous).  So I'm in the process of pulling everything off, wiping the thing of its software, and turning it into a big flash drive, besides uploading everything I have to Google Docs.  And then copies of everything will be going to J's computer as well.  I don't know if this is going to make more headaches for myself later, but it's not workable right now--I spent way too much time looking for my data that I could have spent writing.

Tomorrow will be spent brunching and finally sewing up the RTW jacket, because I get a stack of final papers to grade on Wednesday, and there will be nothing accomplished after that.