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For the first time ever, I think, I was able to make a stab at asking someone's question online that was actually relevant to my area of research! I feel so gratified. All this work on these degrees, and a casual public enquiry justifies the whole thing. Well... the Discovery Channel thing did too, but for much the same reason. Both were public forums where I just happened to come in handy. (I say this now. It's entirely possible that the recipient of my advice will not find it as useful as it was intended. Oh well. My thought still applies.)

My father also consulted me for advice today on something actually relevant to my dissertation, not just the degree, and yes, I could confidently answer.

Now if only I can finish writing this chapter draft in the next two weeks and do lots and lots of grading next week.

Note: I should add that one of the reasons that my area of study doesn't feel nearly useful enough on a daily basis is that people keep asking me the sorts of questions I really don't know the answers to. Just because I'm in the history of Medieval technology doesn't mean I know too much about military history, for example.