Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A busy few days

[UPDATE: Is it just me or is Blogger getting really slow lately? I just wanted to fix my grammatical errors, and it's taken nearly 15 minutes to get logged in... grr.]

Phew. A busy five days! I added like 30 new pages to my book over the weekend (it is, I hope, nearing completion). On Monday I went to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster PA to talk about the "Cyclops" episode of Ulysses (thanks for the invite, F&M!).

Monday night, back in Bethlehem, I spent several hours in my office putting together a large 'what I've accomplished lately' file for my department, then graded a stack of papers, then prepared a 'lecture' on T.S. Eliot for my graduate students, and then read a couple of challenging short stories to teach to my undergraduate class (Katherine Ann Porter's "Theft" and Willa Cather's "Double Birthday"). Then I woke up Tuesday and taught. Somewhere in there I slept. A little.

I would especially recommend the Katherine Anne Porter story; she packs real psychological complexity into a character study that only runs 5 pages. The Cather is also intriguing, but it helps a bit if you know your Stravinsky from your Schumann. Both are in the Updike-edited anthology The Best American Short Stories of the Century.

I also missed most of the debate last night, but I have a good reason -- we actually had dinner plans in what hackers like to call "meatspace." It's too bad Cheney can get away with lying about what he said about the Saddam-9/11 connection, but oh well.

Did I mention that I spent 10 hours in my car over those same three days, while trying to get all these things together? Some readers already know this, but every week I drive from New Haven, CT, to Bethlehem, PA, every Monday night, stay in Bethlehem for three days, and then drive back to New Haven Thursday night. I do this because my spouse has a job in Connecticut, and we technically live there. That's about six hours in the car a week -- not too bad considering that most Americans spend more than an hour in the car every day (and some spend more). But if you add in Monday's drive to Franklin and Marshall, 2 hours southwest from Bethlehem, I just spent 10 hours in three days behind the wheel! That means finishing off an audio-book (Josh Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time -- a pleasant listen), lots of NPR, and lots of Hindi songs (today I'm humming "Hum tum/ ik kamre mein band ho/ aur chhabi khojaaa".....)

But it also means less time to get work done.

Thank God this week is fall break (well, the second half of this week, anyway), so today is, effectively Friday for me. I'm kind of relaxing this morning, but there's more book to be written this afternoon.

I would recommend:
Adam Kotsko's genius mini-post on a recent New Yorker cartoon.
Berube's characterization of Cheney as a "barking loon," pre-debate

Lilith's photos
from Budapest. Interesting architecture lesson about 19th century brothels!

And, my friend Ross is a graduate student in the lab at Columbia that just picked up the Nobel in Biology. Cool, huh. Imagine deciding what to research and saying, "Dude, why not do a project that will more-or-less definitively explain the sense of smell?"

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