August 28th, 2002

Fishy Circumstances

On the water

Yesterday afternoon, C. called and asked if I wanted to come along on a harbor/dinner cruise. So we went. It was on a spacious converted island ferry, all tidy and nicely painted, with decorative lights and ivy twining around the columns to make it look less functional. There was music (generally too loud, which is why the people clustered as far away from it as possible to talk), appetizers, dinner, dessert - not bad food, though I wouldn't rate it much better than that, and pleasant company. The boat failed to go much of anywhere, mostly just back and forth along the coastline and frequently in laconic circles, but at least it was out on the weather, and, while the sun was still up, offered a lovely view of downtown and the island airport. All in all, a pleasant way to spend the evening.
Fishy Circumstances

For today

Yesterday I did some reading: an old history of glass which was far more on drinking glasses than anything else, and had been written shortly after WW2. It was full of often-subtle anti-Nazi/German jibes. For example:
"Its source [i.e. the pressure on the Roman empire] was the northern Teutonic lands in the basins of the Oder, of the Spree, and of the Vistula, where the tribes were wholly pagan. This would have mattered less had they not also been predatory by instinct and destructive by nature, characteristics it would seem which twenty centuries have not wholly eradicated."

The other book was very satisfying to begin reading. It's a cultural/intellectual history of the ways in which knowledge about technology was protected in the Medieval and Early Modern time periods. Nicely written, but I'm not very far along. I was rather distractable yesterday.

Today I promised myself I would try to largely finish up the little bit of work I was doing for a professor in my department this month, but the day is off to a slow start and I'm not feeling that eager to run into school. I'll spend the next hour tracking down bibliographic references and looking through the material a person previously working on this project left for me, go pick up the tickets for tomorrow night, and THEN go into school. That'll be better, I think.

Tangent: The BBC has an article on the dying art of the postcard today. I used to be so much better of a letter writer and postcard writer as well. I hardly sent any while travelling this summer. It's something I used to really like about myself.
Fishy Circumstances


All summer long I have rested happily in the knowledge that I did not have a TAship this year, that I had plenty of time to work on my dissertation, in addition to writing abstracts 5 hours/week and taking Latin. A more senior PhD has turned down their TAship and I now have been assigned the one section for the spring portion of a year-long course, the same one I TA'ed for last year. On the bright side, this will be the first time I'll TA for a class I've already run a section for. For once, I can benefit from my experience!

It's nothing against teaching, I enjoy working with the students, even if studying to be sure I know more than they do each week always makes me nervous. It was more that this is the year I want to write most of my dissertation in. It's a sobering thought. I don't have much time, really, to do this project, and I've been lousy at concentrating lately. Fall term is now more important than ever in terms of productivity.

On the same lines, part of a dream I had last night involved me misspeaking to the chair of my department while passing by. I said "I've changed the focus of my dissertation" and he looks sternly worried and asked if I had cleared this with my committee, in a voice which implied I obviously hadn't. I hurriedly corrected myself, "I've narrow the focus of my dissertation!" and he looked less stern, if equally worried. The thing is, I'm happy about the fact I've narrowed the focus. It's a good thing. So why is my subconscious at all worried about it?