June 3rd, 2004

Fishy Circumstances


Last night, I counted: I've written an astonishing 45 pages of decent writing in the past week or so. That's more academic-style writing than I needed to produce in a month during the largest series of deadlines in other degrees. If only any of it were intended directly for a dissertation chapter, I could be done by July at this rate. Alas, this is the sort of writing I can only do when I already know my material well through having already written about it. I don't need to track down most of the footnotes and I already have copies of nearly all the material I need to reference. I've already hashed through my arguments by writing flailing chapter drafts which are still in dire need of correction and revision. At this rate, I'll have better chapters if I cannibalize my writing from what I've written in the last week and readapt it back into being a chapter.

I realize now that the reason those chapters flail so much is because I didn't have any sustained argument in them. They are collections of interesting and useful information on their respective subjects, they occasionally drift into brief arguments of a trivial sort, and collectively they provide the background material which will make the real argument in my last chapter possible. These article deadlines have given me a major incentive to work through all that material and find my arguments. It's all to the good.

I think I can have the current article in reasonable shape by this weekend. One way or another, I have to have it sent off by Wednesday, since I'm heading out of town then for a week and a half and won't be able to work on it; anyways, it's already technically overdue. When I come back, at the end of June, I hope to fend off the vortext of lassitude* and be productive despite the lack of these immediate deadlines which drive me to productivity.

* Credit to haggisthesecond for coining this phrase.
Fishy Circumstances


Give or take the mounds of articles and books heaped up around my computer, the sediment of all my recent work, and much of it still in use, the apartment is looking rather clean. Sometimes tidiness seems more urgent than writing.

I had a lovely social day yesterday, in addition to doing some writing. Enough critical errands built up that I needed to go into campus for the first time in a month, and so I wrapped the trip into socialness. I had a library book to return, a Proquest dissertation to bind, and a Metropass to acquire. I caught up with departmental friends. I saw my advisor briefly. I ran into a CRRS person who works on things related to what I do, at least, related to the study of eyeglasses. I went to the Centre and had a delightful little chat with Professor Akbari, which resulted in her lending me a copy of her latest book for the weekend - it's on optics and romances! I was delighted to discover it at Kalamazoo since I hadn't realized that her work dovetailed so nicely with mine. I'm looking forward to talking to her about it sometime soon.

Then I met up with double0hilly, briefly meeting two of the incoming first years, Alexandra and Victoria, on the front porch of the Centre. They were diligent and declined the offer of our company in favor of homework, so we went off to chat and loiter at Mullins for a while. Afterwards, I joined her and hereward for part of dinner at Salad King, but since that's a restaurant, you'll get a separate post on what I thought of the food. It was very relaxing to spend the later afternoon being social and not working for a change, and with good company. The evening was spent helping pittenweem move; at least the move all took place within the building she was already living in, so it didn't take too long.

Tonight is the first Thursday pub night. This weekend, I'll write a great deal more. All in all, things are going well.
Fishy Circumstances


In the summer of '93, the midwest was innundated with rain and floods. In Des Moines, the rivers burst their banks and, despite desperate sandbagging efforts, the water works were flooded, contaminating the entire city's water supply. The system had to be shut off and cleaned out. It was two weeks before the city had water again.

When this happened, my family was preparing to move abroad for the year, to Venice. My mother and sister had already left, a week or so before, while my father and I stayed behind to do the last bit of cleaning and preparing. I was on a different ticket than everyone else since I was going to Venice for a few months, then flying back to the US to start my undergraduate degree. The floods happened a few days before I left and a week before my father was due to leave. The streets in the low-lying parts of the city were flooded. We went down to watch in the bright sun of the following day as residents rowed boats in to see if they could salvage possessions from the six-foot-deep flooding drowing out their houses. We were travelling from one flooded city to another, but the one we were going to was built around it; Des Moines wasn't. Friends who lived in the one major suburb with its own water supply offered us showers, which we gratefully accepted. All sorts of generous societies and companies trucked in bottled water for the city to drink. We finished packing the house by candlelight.

These days, the water works back in Des Moines are very well fortified against any possible floods. By one major creek, there's a street-wide guillotine-like device over one intersection that will keep businesses from being flooded by the creek the next time it happens. Flooding isn't likely to do in the city's water supply again; it's going to be very cautious after those two interminably dry weeks in the middle of summer heat.

But there's more than one way for water supplies to go wrong, and as of a few hours ago, most of Des Moines is again without water. A major water main broke back home and there's no water in my neighborhood. It's major local news, but this time the outage shouldn't last very long. It's a localized problem, albeit one affecting most of the city. In one of those strange coincidences though, my mother left a week or two before this happened - to go back to Venice.