May 8th, 2004

Fishy Circumstances

Turning to the sunshine

The Kalamazoo forecast for the week was for thunderstorm after thunderstorm. Last night, the lightning was spectacular. I stood in the light rain (albeit under an umbrella) and watched the lightning bolts split the sky for about twenty minutes last night with larkvi, who cared much less whether or not it was raining thanks to too much time in Scotland. It was the end of a good day, my paper over, quite a few good sessions seen, finally a chance to talk with juniperus over lunchtime at the AVISTA meeting, and a truly amazing dark belgium chocolate with fudge, sprinkles, and whipped cream sundae upstairs at the video store with Katie and two Torontonians. At the video store, the last 15 minutes of a cheesy old movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan was playing. We watched the last fifteen minutes and caught the entire plot.

I got up in time for breakfast and the plenary this morning. The Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at WMU claimed his profession, molecular biology, is completely unrelated to medieval studies. I disagree. I believe the two professions have much to offer each other, particularly when it comes to dating decayed flora and fauna. The talk by Eamon Duffy was good, although it was a very close sibling of the one he gave last year at Toronto. The plenary ran out of doughnuts before I arrived, which probably explains why I invested in one for lunch dessert to compensate.

With a full day of talks ahead of me, I though I would start with a meta-topic, and go to morganlf's talk, which was co-featured with one on lapidaries which was of great interest to me. They were both good talks, and if you're even vaguely interested in medieval fantasy lands of milk and honey, or else lapidaries, the website is here and you can see it for yourself. morganlf's talk featured an interactive CD-ROM she put together with a visual artist, which partially recreates, on a visually-engrossing and abstract level, the frustrations and confusions of being a medieval female mystic. It's very elegantly done, although from the presentation, it was hard to tell just how much concrete information was actually in there. The experience of using the CD-ROM is intended to intrigue the users and viewers to study medieval mysticism. It works well enough that several professors have already asked to use it in their course. I didn't even get a chance to talk to her after her talk, but I should have more opportunities to tell her how well I enjoyed it. Instead I spent much of the next hour talking to the other speaker, very satisfyingly. The other speaker was the first person who ever labelled my accent as being from Des Moines, which immediately endeared her to me.

I dabbled in the med-grad gathering, caught up with a summer CMS softball player, and caught the early afternoon Avista session, which was good, but would have been better if I'd been more awake. I wasn't awake enough to try for a late afternoon paper, which, alas, means I missed Katie's, but instead stood out in the warming sun, talking to a friend from past conferences, and hearing about his Adventures in Teaching. The sun makes me feel more awake, awake enough I should be fine for the evening, where the Pseudo Society awaits.