31 March 2011


I always try to organize classes so that the grading is staggered. And every semester, some slippage occurs, and I wind up with multiple classes handing in work to be graded in the same week, sometimes on the same day.

So, wouldn't it make sense to just go ahead and plan that everything should be turned in on the same day? Then, when the inevitable slippage takes place, the grading will be distributed across multiple weeks, after all.

27 March 2011

25 March 2011

Looking up

That revise-and-resubmit that hung on for so long, last fall, into this spring, remember that?

It's accepted.

I feel like I'm wading through a swamp as I work on the Next Thing (quite an attractive swamp, this one, with tropical birds and lilies and flowering vines, but still wading through mud that tries to suck my hip boots off at every step, not to mention the mosquitos), so it's useful to be reminded that One Step At A Time results in publication.

20 March 2011

Spring Break Scorecard

The not-so-good:
Severe insomnia.
I didn't go anywhere, not even to one of the day-excursions Sir John and I have discussed.
Unusually painful root canal (I've had several; they aren't usually this bad).
Newspapers full of distressing but compelling news (no doubt contributing to insomnia).

The better:
Not having to teach while insomniac.
Having time to watch the DVR'd Paris-Nice race.
I went to the gym every day, and got my swimming up to 5/6 of a mile in one session; I only skipped doing yoga twice.
I also got a massage.
There were four sunny days.
I had lunch with a friend.
I read three pieces of brain candy (Freda Warrington is doing good Faerie stuff).

And that list of things to do during spring break? I have just barely scraped a C (70.2% of the items are crossed off).

Funny how I managed to put off the thing that looks like grading. I guess I know what I'm doing tomorrow morning.

19 March 2011

Whatever it takes

Somewhere in the popular press recently I saw an article about what helps celebrities cope with their fame, keep producing the songs or whatever that made them famous, and the differences between "successful" celebrities and the one-album wonders. A key factor (it was claimed) was the belief that God wanted them to be famous.

It seems like a corollary would be that atheists either can't be famous or can't stay famous, but whatever. I thought to myself, "Suppose I believed in a goddess of academic success, and believed that she wanted me to be successful?"

"No, come on, self, stop laughing; just play around with the idea for a few minutes. Just for fun. She looks like Maggie Smith? Okay, I can go with that. What does it feel like to believe (just for a minute) that the goddess of academic success wants me to be successful?"

. . . . . . . . .

Well, look, I tried. I think I'm too cynical for some affirmations. Also, Benjamin Franklin got mixed up in there somehow, because the way it wound up being phrased was, "The goddess of academic success loves me and wants me to be happy."*

In other words, Maggie Smith is urging me to have another beer.

*"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." I don't have a citation; it's attributed to him on t-shirts and stuff. Check with an Americanist on whether Franklin really said it.

15 March 2011

National Archives commercial

Medievalists may already be well-acquainted with these resources, but in case (like me) you weren't, allow me to point them out. I have spent a fair amount of time combing the online records and catalogs at the National Archives site (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/), but hadn't bothered with their teaching resources.

Well, there's a lot of good stuff there. Under Resources for Students: Study Skills, for example, there's a list of questions to ask about primary documents. There's a whole set of lessons about various historical periods, including medieval as well as later periods. There are also tutorials in paleography and Latin.

Now I have to figure out how many courses I can work this material into. It's no good just putting up links; students never follow them. There have to be assignments with consequences (grades if you do them, loss of points if you don't). And maybe I'm just doing an "oooh, shiny!" sort of thing. But this is giving me ideas.

14 March 2011


Over the past couple of weeks, my lists have been growing, both in the sense of adding items and in the sense of having multiple lists in different places: in the calendar, on post-its, jotted on the edge of a hand-out, in hopes that I'd remember at some point that I needed to do this or that. My first task this morning was to consolidate these lists.

The result is very long, which in itself is a bit daunting, even though most of the individual items shouldn't take very long. (Exceptions: taxes; perhaps revising a syllabus that needs serious intervention.) But, happily, I recalled Dr. Crazy's 60% rule: when she finishes 60% of the items on a list, she thinks she's done well.

At least, I think that's the figure she uses. At any rate, I'm adopting it. Sixty per cent is a D, by many grading schemes (and can I just say that the standard American scheme is pretty funky, in my opinion, and not applicable to many situations---but that's another post). I think I can manage to pull off a D in list-completion, this week.

12 March 2011

Thank you

I appreciate the condolences my readers have offered. My cats are an important part of my life, and even with what many would consider a household full (or overfull) remaining to us, we miss the Scot. It's kind of you to take the time to comment: thank you. He was indeed beautiful, and well-loved, and I like Clio's idea of drinking to his memory, preferably in good Scotch.

And thanks as well to anyone who felt sorry but didn't know what to say, and to anyone who wondered why all the fuss about a cat, but refrained from expressing such a thought.

I suppose grief hits people differently. It doesn't necessarily feel like sadness. With me, it takes the form of feeling tired, stupid, and heavy, as if I'd gained 50 pounds overnight (not the case, I assure you: I'm one of those annoying people who lose weight when unhappy). I mind the stupidity more than the fatigue. It took me six hours to put together a quiz, last week. Admittedly, it was a paleography quiz, so I needed to do a certain amount of copying, cutting, and pasting on top of choosing what to test on, but I think I could have done it in two hours in better circumstances. Also, I'm more than usually distractable, so the six hours were interspersed with e-mail and extra trips around the building, because of forgetting things and having to go back for them. But that's how it goes.

Today I feel a bit lighter. Not normal; but ten or 15 of the extra pounds have gone away, and that's enough to make a difference.

08 March 2011

Basement Cat plots

Now I've finally got rid of that old guy, so that's one down. It shouldn't be too hard to take out the old bat*, or that whiny middle management type.** The real challenge will be His protegée***—He gets out the squirt bottle if I so much as look in her direction. Even She squirts me if I attack that one, and I have Her pretty well under my paw. She'll soon forget about that old guy. I'm much younger, stronger, more fit, better dressed—a full Cleveland with an orange jacket? Puh-leeze! Solid black is always correct for every occasion. And I have much better teeth (here, check them out; see, doesn't that hurt?). Chicks love me! I'm the Man! Anyway, if I sit in Her lap and groom Her hands a lot, She'll mellow out and start letting me out more. (She did say I was only grounded for the rest of the old guy's life, right, so I should be fine, now.) And then I can further my plans for world domination, starting with this household. Of course, I'll have to do something about Neighbor Catboy, too. I am the Only Basement Cat around here. Maybe I'll deal with that guy before I take on His protegée. I don't like Neighbor Catgirl, either, but she can live if she never gets up on my windowsill again.

*The Shakespearian Heroine.
**The Grammarian.
***The Tiny Cat.

04 March 2011

R. I. P. the Scot


He was a braw gallant,
And he played at the ba;
And the bonny orange tabby
Was the flower amang them a'.

02 March 2011

Victour he is at all mellie

The Scot has been battling abdominal lymphoma since Thanksgiving. This is often, perhaps usually, highly treatable in cats. And since the Shakespearian Heroine, with a different sort of cancer, has managed to shrink her tumors to invisibility, at the outset we were optimistic. While it would have had to be an on-going campaign, it should not have been an intensive one.

But after initial advances, the Scot's war did not go well. The enemy was wilier, more persistent, more resistant, than anticipated. And our side had only limited tactics at its disposal.

So the white flag has been raised, and we are now negotiating the terms of the Scot's surrender.

In other words, we have a few days to say goodbye, and then

Well, then. You know what I'm trying to say.

On to the ded gois all estatis,
Princis, prelotis, and potestatis,
Baith riche and pur of al degre:
Timor mortis conturbat me.

He takis the knychtis in to feild,
Anarmit under helme and scheild;
Victour he is at all mellie:
Timor mortis conturbat me.

The Scot will follow William Dunbar, good gentle Stobo, and the others of their nation.