Monday, December 31, 2007

Wild party...not

We arrived home last night to find a wild party raging all over the house, with drunken youths swinging from the light fixtures and a live band disturbing the neighbor's livestock. Okay, I lied. We got home to find a very quiet house, with both of the young people sitting on the sofa and reading books. That's the perfect end to an excellent (working) vacation.

And now suddenly it's the final day of 2007, and how will we celebrate? What will make the perfect end for an excellent year? We'll go for a walk, eat some sauerkraut, and play some board games later on. Not all that exciting, is it? I'm reminded that a year ago we celebrated New Year's Eve by watching paint dry (read it here). Even Monopoly has to be more fun than that!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Meeting the OMDB Candidate

No one wants to meet an OMDB candidate, but every pool of candidates includes at least one of them--and sometimes more.

The OMDB candidate inspires Search Committee members to proclaim, "We'll hire Candidate X Over My Dead Body." Sometimes Candidate X becomes Candidate OMDB within nanoseconds of the start of the interview, but the rules of the game clearly state that the interview must continue to the bitter end even after the Search Committee has relegated Candidate X to the OMDB file.

What causes an otherwise hire-worthy candidate to assume OMDB status? Here are some sure giveaways (although circumstances have been changed to protect the guilty):

1. Candidate OMDB expresses a fervent desire to teach her dissertation texts and only her dissertation texts in every class from now until the end of time.

2. Candidate OMDB believes that American literature begins with Washington Irving and, when pressed to consider earlier authors, cannot envision ever teaching a text dating from before 1800.

3. Candidate OMDB oozes smug self-satisfaction while saying, "I don't know if you know anything about American literature, but..."

4. Candidate OMDB expresses a fond desire to teach just about every course in the curriculum, most especially those taught by Search Committee members, and then coyly suggests that his administrative experience would make him a prime choice for department chair.

5. Candidate OMDB name-drops shamelessly: "Maybe it's obvious that I studied with [Big Name Scholar]...."

6. Candidate OMDB transform the interview into a personal monologue, causing Search Committee members to lean back and take mental refuge in their Happy Place, so that when he finally stops chattering long enough for anyone else to get a word in edgewise, no one is alert enough to notice.

We have one more day of interviewing and we are very pleased with the quality of our candidates so far, with a very few exceptions. We've already encountered more than enough OMDB candidates for this search, so I'm hopeful that we've filled our quota and tomorrow's candidates will all be stellar. Then we'll have another kind of problem: why can't we hire all of them? That's when the provost steps in to say "Over My Dead Body."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's better than walking on hot coals

One day down, two to go--but let's not get too excited. We had only five interviews scheduled today and one had to be rescheduled because the candidate had two flat tires on the way to Chicago, so we're doing nine tomorrow and eight on Saturday, one after another all day long in the big interview room with the horrid carpet.

Where do hotels find all this horrid carpet? Do they all patronize the same Horrid Carpet Warehouse, or do their design teams offer Affirmative Action for the Aesthetically Impaired? One hallway in our hotel features puke green walls and checkerboard carpet with interlocking lines and angles that make my eyes hurt.

And how did all this ugliness ooze into the prettiest part of the prettiest big city in the midwest? I'm not a city person, but I can't walk a block up Michigan Avenue without being awed by the wealth of architectural variety and detail, the Gilded Age buildings oozing with sheer, brazen, unashamed hope. I sense the presence of Carl Sandburg swooping among the towering stone towers or stomping along the crowded sidewalks. Sherwood Anderson looked at the Chicago River and saw mud, but it was the kind of mud that could support the (self)creation of an artist. Harriet Monroe made poetry happen here. In the public library just up the street stands a bronze bust of Gwendolyn Brooks looking like a straight-talking, no-nonsense goddess of poetry. City of big shoulders indeed.

But none of those authors had to live with this horrid hotel carpet. Sherwood Anderson stayed in a cold, bare room in a cheap rooming house while he wrote Winesburg, Ohio; if, instead of bleak, bare, drafty walls and floors, he'd been surrounded by horrid hotel carpet, his muse would have jumped in the river. How many potential works of Great Literature were stillborn because the muse couldn't coexist with obnoxious upholstery?

Good thing I'm not here to create Great Literature. Horrid hotel carpet is appropriate for the big bad interview room because no one expects to be comfortable in there anyway: the MLA interview room is a black hole of angst right now, full of people so desperate for a tenure-track teaching job that they wouldn't notice if the floor were coated with hot coals.

As for those of us who already have jobs, the horrid carpet is the least of our concerns. We want to find someone who knows a little something and knows how to teach it to our students, someone who can teach a 4/4 load plus serve on committees and still do some research and publishing, someone we wouldn't mind running into in the hall every day. If putting up with horrid hotel carpet is the price we have to pay to find that person, then it's a price worth paying.

So I'm willing to put up with the ugly carpet. Just don't ask me to write any poetry about it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fit for a king

The bed in our hotel room has nine pillows on it. Nine! It's a king-size bed, but until nine-headed kings become more plentiful, nine seems a bit excessive.

Who sleeps on nine pillows? And if we're not planning to sleep on them, what do we do with them? The closet is already crowded with clothes, a safe, and, of course, extra pillows. (In case we need more!)

Some of the excess pillows can sit on the sofa, which is shoved in a corner of the room so dim that if I tried to read over there, my eyeballs would jump right out of my head and out the window and fall splat to the street 24 stories below. I would gladly trade any six of our pillows for just one 100-watt lightbulb, but that would violate one of the unspoken rules of hotel management: "Keep the Customer in the Dark." The less we see, the less we know and the happier we are--or at least that's the theory.

This works with valet parking as well: a charming young man in a dark overcoat whisked our car out of sight and hid it in the bowels of the parking garage, knowing that the absence of car will translate into an absence of awareness of the parking charges adding up day by day. It would be distracting, for instance, if we had to face the unpleasant fact that none of the motels where we stayed on our honeymoon charged as much for a room as this hotel charges daily for a parking space.

Now here's a thought: let's put that idle space to good use and solve our pillow problem at the same time. I say we take the excess pillows down to the parking garage and ask the valet to stash them in the car. He could even take them for a test-drive! With the excess pillow problem solved, I'll be able to relax and enjoy a snooze fit for a king.

Caution: road hazards ahead

So here we are in Chicago getting ready to interview a zillion job applicants at the MLA convention--and let me just say that the excitement level on the road trip was a bit uneven. That long stretch of I-65 from Indianapolis to Gary is so boring you could drive it in your sleep, while the final 30 miles into Chicago are packed with back-to-back (and bumper-to-bumper) thrills. If there were a way to spread out all that excitement over the entire trip, it would be a more pleasant drive all around.

Now I have one or two little logistical matters to adjust before I'm ready to start the interviewing assembly line, but my brain is stuck in thrill-ride mode. Somehow I need to connect with my inner Indiana. Is there a Hoosier in the house?

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of the resident woodsman, pyromaniac, bread-baker, gardener, teacher, and theologian (and how we squeezed all those clumsy characters into this little house is a mystery to me), and I reminded him that in two years I'll be married to a 50-year-old man.

"Really?" he said. "Anyone I know?"

Friday, December 21, 2007


It's not every day that one sees a spine dangling from a tree; nevertheless, that's the sight I found myself contemplating during my morning walk. It wasn't a complete spine, just about a dozen linked bones hanging from a notch in a branch about ten feet above the ground. The question, of course, is where did it come from and how did it get there? (That's two questions, I realize, but you try to think coherently while contemplating a treed spine.)

Now the spine in question was in a tree at the edge of woods frequented by hunters, and since deer season has just ended, it would not surprise me to find that this section of spine originated in a deer. The other options are less appealing: the bones are too big to have come from anything smaller than a deer, and the other large mammals in these woods are (1) people and (2) bears. I haven't heard of any bear sightings recently and if that's a piece of person up there, I don't want to know about it.

One part of the puzzle was solved when I stumbled upon the remains of a deer about 20 feet uphill from the treed spine. The head was entirely missing and the rest of the carcass had been pretty well picked over, so I assume some hunter killed the deer, took the head for a trophy, and left the rest. But how did the spine get up a tree 20 feet away? Deer are not known for their posthumous tree-climbing ability, but I suppose a hunter could have hung the spine in the tree. But why? Just to be cute? What else could hang it up there? A carrion bird of some sort?

I'm afraid it's going to have to remain a mystery because Your Intrepid Explorer is, frankly, less than enthusiastic about investigating the matter any further. I'd rather contemplate the mystery of Christmas cookies--warm and crunchy and utterly spineless.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Nutty syntax

The peppery aroma of ground cardamon fills the kitchen but while the dough rises I'm puzzling over the syntax of a recipe calling for "1 cup roasted chopped almonds." It's clear that I am expected to perform three actions:

1. measure
2. roast
3. chop

But in which order? Measure then roast then chop, or roast then chop then measure, or chop first and then roast and measure at the end? What if the recipe called for one of the following instead:

1 cup almonds, roasted and chopped
1 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1 cup chopped almonds, roasted
1 cup chopped roasted almonds

And does any of this really make any difference?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Computer limbo?

What do computers do when nobody is looking?

The question arose this morning while I was sitting in the library computer lab surrounded by bright, shiny computers all booted up and ready to work, but with no one around to use them--except me. I have a few small matters to attend to on campus this morning but I had to flee my office because the elevator installation project has begun and the whole building is suffused with some sort of chemical odor that made my head throb almost instantly.

So I went to the library, where the computers seemed to jump for joy with eagerness to serve as, and I wondered: do they feel lonely when no one uses them? At the end of the day when the lights are turned off and the students and staff members go home, do the computers celebrate? Do they miss us when we're gone or do they take a few nips from their secret stash of bites and belly up to the bar to gorge on ones and zeroes? Or do they just relax and take a snooze?

Silly questions, I know, but I spend way more time with my computer than I spend with any human being or pet, so I'm tempted to personify my computer, to think of it as a helper and friend rather than a cold-hearted piece of machinery. I wish them well, all the computers of the world, and I hope that during this blessed season even the poor neglected computers will have a chance to let their hair down and celebrate a little--and if they want to have a little after-horus limbo party under the desks in the library, that's fine, as long as they're ready to serve me when I need them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

An imperfect Christmas

I've just posted final grades so now I can start thinking about Christmas--a little late. I have not written a card, mailed a package, baked a cookie, or put up the tree. This is bad. If I do nothing but prepare for Christmas 24/7 until the 25th, I still won't quite get everything done. So I've decided not to try.

Oh, I'll get a few things done: I'll write some notes and send some gifts and put up a tree (especially now that the Texas kid is home to help and the Kentucky kid is coming Wednesday), but I refuse to beat myself up for once again failing to produce the perfect Christmas that exists within my imagination. We'll settle for an imperfect Christmas, and if the young'uns complain, I'll just gather them at my knee and remind them of what happened on the first Christmas after the old guy and I got hitched:

It wasn't really our first Christmas. We got married (25 years ago tomorrow!) a week before Christmas, so we spent our first Christmas on our honeymoon. A year later, we were living in a horrible tiny upstairs apartment under a roof with a slope so steep we had to bend over to get out of bed. We were both in school and therefore had no money except the pittance we brought in from part-time jobs, including my holiday fill-in work as a typesetter at a small-town newspaper.

Now the publisher of this newspaper was an old-fashioned skinflint, and he saw no need to switch over to newfangled computerized typesetting equipment as long as the ancient punch-tape machines were still running. I spent long days sitting in front of those machines, surrounded by their incessant clatter and vibration, typing letters and codes on the stiff and sticky keyboard, which translated my typing into perforations on a long skinny sheet of tickertape: punch the tape with one machine, carefully remove the tape without tearing it, and feed the tape into the other machine, which translated the ticker-tape into long columns of justified text.

The room was big and poorly lit, with a cold concrete floor, and I sat with my back to the door so that every time the door opened, I felt a cold draft on my back. I went home every day stiff, sore, and frustrated, because often the tape broke or the machines messed up, and the only solution was to totally re-type whatever got wrecked. I had been in love with journalism for as long as I could remember, but my idea of a great jouralistic job was more like the one Rosalind Russell filled in His Girl Friday: exciting work that could make a difference in the world (and it wouldn't hurt to have Cary Grant as a boss!). Instead, I worked for a crusty old skinflint and shivered in front of a piece of noisy, cranky equipment and typed (and re-typed) articles about the impending increase in water rates and the village Christmas parade. (My favorite sentence: "The winning float will not be chosen.")

So I was inclined to feel a bit sorry for myself that Christmas--and to make it worse, we had no tree, and even if we'd had the money for a tree, we had exactly two Christmas ornaments, both wedding gifts. So it didn't look or feel much like Christmas.

Until one day my husband brought home a Christmas tree--a sad, scrawny, bare tree, the last one in the lot, which was why it cost him only $10. With only two ornaments, though, it looked pretty meager. Where would we get more?

The next day I came home from work with a grocery bag full of discarded rolls of used yellow ticker-tape, and we spent the evening twisting it into paper snowflakes and angels and stars and garlands. In the end it was the oddest Christmas tree I'd ever seen, festooned with yellow perforated paper that barely covered the bare spots, but it looked festive, so we dimmed the lights and lit the candles and sat in front of the tree sipping eggnog, and nothing could have looked lovelier.

Now we have an artificial tree and so many boxes of ornaments that we won't use half of them, and it will look far more sparkly and colorful than our yellow ticker-tape tree, but even then, our Christmas won't be perfect. It's never perfect--but it'll be festive, and that's enough.

Eggnog, anyone?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Finally (almost) finished

One more paper! That's all I need to read to be entirely done with grading. Unfortunately, the paper isn't here. It should have been here earlier this week, but I granted a rare deadline extension so I don't have it.

I ought to have an immense feeling of accomplishment right now, but until I grade that final paper, my semester feels incomplete. Yesterday I read all my freshman research essays one after another all day long, which felt like soaking in a vast tepid sea of mediocrity and then emerging, pink and wrinkled and slightly waterlogged, onto solid ground. The capstone papers were much more pleasant, and the postcolonial exams were either wonderful or awful, with lots of A's and F's and not much in between. The exams made it pretty easy to discern who had done the reading and who had not.

Now that (most of) the grading is done and (most of) the grades are posted, what I really want to do is go out Christmas shopping and then go home and bake--but no, I've got to wait for that final final paper to come in. Not that I'm bitter. And even if I were, whose fault is it that the paper isn't here? After all, I'm the one who granted the extension. So I'll just sit here kicking myself until the final final final paper comes in--finally.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Recommended reading

"The impulse to keep a diary is to actual diaries as the impulse to go on a diet is to actual slimness," writes Louis Menand in the Dec. 10 New Yorker. "Most of us do wish that we were slim diarists," he adds, and then he goes on to explore why we aren't. Menand's article meanders through various theories of diary-keeping and the work of various diarists both famous and infamous. Altogether a delightful article.

The Best American Short Stories 2007 (edited by Stephen King) is more uneven but equally rewarding. Many of the stories deal with families struggling to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune: child murder, parental discord, schoolyard angst. My favorite among these is Joseph Epstein's "My Brother Eli," which explores the aura of the artist and its effect on those closest to him. The story is told from the perspective of a working stiff trying to understand his famous brother, a successful novelist too sensitive and special to feel at home in his working-class Chicago neighborhood. The narrator's no-nonsense observations reveal the ties that bind as well as the boundaries that divide the two brothers:

Eli was wearing a tux with an especially wide sateen collar, a shirt with lots of big ruffles and a red cummerbund and an enormous red bow tie, of the kind which, if, when you shook his hand, it flashed 'Kiss Me,' you wouldn't be in the least surprised. He looked like a Jewish trombone player in the old Xavier Cougat orchestra. His wispy, now completely white hair was combed over and patted down to cover his baldness. He got the family talent, wherever in the hell it came from originally, but I got our old man's thick hair, which maybe was the better deal.

The narrator's clear eye, compassion, and absence of rancor result in a story that reveals a believable world.

Another type of world is revealed in Roy Kesey's "Wait," in which a group of people gathered in an airport terminal in an unnamed country wait out an oppressive fog--a mundane situation to be sure, but Kesey's surreal take sparkles:

The fog scurls. Toilets clog and garbage cans overflow. Darkness drops, the generators growl and fail, and the airline personnel regret that no additional blankets are available. The subgroups gather into themselves. The girl from Ghana dreams the roar of a thousand fontomfrom drums while across the lounge the accountant fights through a nightmare involving misconstrued negative amortization schedules.

The wait goes on and the characters develop novel ways to pass the time, each activity more unexpected than the last--but like all waits, this too must pass, as much as the reader would like it to continue indefinitely.

And who is that reader? In the introduction to the volume, Stephen King proclaims the short story alive but not entirely well, suffering from marginalization to the bottom shelves of bookstore magazine racks dominated by photos of celebrities and sports stars. The result of this marginalization, he says, is that the audience for short stories consists of "other writers and would-be writers who are reading the various literary magazines...not to be entertained but to get an idea of what sells there. And this kind of reading isn't real reading, the kind where you just can't wait to find out what happens next...It's more like copping-a-feel reading. There's something ucky about it."

In the Contributors' Notes, Richard Russo offers another reason for reading:

You'd think that the life of the mind, especially the liberal arts, would make us better, if not happier, people, but too often it doesn't. The study of literature had had what I believed to be a salutary effect on my own character, making me less self-conscious and vain, more empathic and imaginative, maybe even kinder. Perhaps it's an oversimplification, but as I've gotten older I've come to wonder if maybe this is what reading all those great books is really for--to engender and promote charity. Sure, literature entertains and instructs, but to what end, if not compassion? How is it, then, that so many smart people use the study of literature to erect sturdy barriers between themselves and their lives, to become strangers to their truest desires, their best selves?

An excellent question well worth consideration by those of us devoted to the life of the mind. For those stuck behind those "sturdy barriers," this collection is an antidote, for it is suffused with that sense of compassion and charity that Russo considers the purpose of reading.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rogue recording on the loose!

I'm pleased to report that I am no longer on hold--but that doesn't mean I won't be again soon. Early this morning I spent about 20 minutes listening to the same cheesy melody over and over again, but the music was less frustrating than the ridiculous conversation that had preceded it, which sounded like an echo chamber:

"Why would we have called you at 1:30 a.m.?"

"That's what I want to know. Why would you?"

"Can you identify the person who called?"

"It was a recorded female voice, and it wasn't interested in answering my questions."

"No one from this office could have called you at that hour. This office isn't even open at 1:30 a.m."

"And yet the recording claimed to be speaking for your company. Why would your office try to contact me to provide a new Personal Identification Number at a time when hard-working people are sound asleep?"

"You must have requested a new PIN."

"At 1:30 a.m.? In my dreams?"

"Is anyone else associated with your account?"

"Only my husband, who was snoring right next to me at the time. We have no need for a new PIN, particularly at that hour of the morning."

"Then why would we call you at 1:30 a.m.?"

"That's what I want to know!"

After going around in circles like that for quite some time, being put on hold was a nice break, but after 20 minutes of having my eardrums assaulted by the same tinny, chipper tune over and over and over again, I had to hang up. I gave my morning exam and came back prepared to jump back into the on-hold queue, but now the line keeps being busy. Maybe I'm not the only one who wants to complain about receiving a phone call from a recorded voice at 1:30 a.m. Civilization has come to a pretty pass when rogue recordings can maliciously rouse law-abiding citizens from a sound sleep to offer unwanted information about their Personal Identification Numbers. Is this the end of the world as we know it?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Utterly workless

When a local farmer asked me what I'll be doing during Christmas break, I said, "I'll be teaching a January class three hours a day for three weeks, so I'll be working pretty hard."

"Three hours a day?" she said. "That's not work!"

And then I did some hasty back-pedaling: "Yes, but it's a writing-intensive class so I'll have to read drafts every day and prepare for the next class--"

But she just laughed and shook her head. Reading drafts! Teaching three hours a day! That's not work!

Well, okay, it's not plowing fields or chopping wood or changing diapers, but it sure feels like work. Three hours of teaching is not as painful as three hours of weed-pulling, but it's strenuous and challenging and exhausting to the mind if not to the muscles. It's just a different kind of work. Isn't it?

To a farmer, nothing I do looks very much like work: I sit, I read, I write, I stand in front of classes and say brilliant things, I go to meetings, I fill out forms. Mostly I think a lot. Thinking can look an awful lot like loafing, especially to people who work with their hands. There's not much point in trying to explain to a woman with calloused fingers that the time I spend staring out the window is just as valuable as the time she spends canning beets. How can my staring possibly feed a family? Work should look like work, and thinking doesn't.

So next time someone asks me what I'm doing over break, I'll have a better answer. "Nothing at all," I'll say. "I'll just spend three hours a day having fun with students--and being paid very nicely for the pleasure."

Keeping my head above water

My computer crashed. The phone lines were full of static. Rain kept falling and falling. The creek rose. The snow melted. More rain fell. More snow melted. The creek rose some more.

All this may or may not explain why I've been pretty much out of touch for the past few days.

When we left for church yesterday morning, the fields were still covered with snow. When we got home, the snow was gone and the creek had widened from bank to bank, but it was only about six inches deep under our bridge. Around midafternoon I glanced the window and saw water. "That's odd," I thought; "The creek is not normally visible from this window." So I walked down to take a look and found that the creek had risen to within a few feet of the bridge. That's at least a seven-foot rise in water level in about three hours--and it was still raining.

Fortunately, the river was low enough to allow the creek to drain quickly, and by this morning the water level had fallen by a foot or two. No damage so far, although I did see a few large chunks of tree rushing downstream. After the water recedes, I'm sure we'll find some major limbs trapped against the bridge piers--but at least the bridge itself isn't under water. More rain is in the forecast for another few days, so who knows what could happen?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

And all the professors are above average

I had my final meeting with my least favorite class today and apparently they weren't any more thrilled to be there than I was because by the time class started, only two students had bothered to show up. Two more wandered in over the next 15 minutes, but by then I had already covered everything I needed to cover and I was doing individual conferences to deal with specific problems on research papers, which are due next week. Two students in that class never bothered to pick up their drafts with my comments--drafts that have been available for pick-up since last Friday. I don't know how those students will do on the final paper, but I'm not holding my breath for a positive outcome. I'm much more sanguine about the students I met with today. I've never had a class fall to pieces so badly as this one, so I really don't want to see the evaluations. Let's just put it all behind us and move on.

This afternoon, on the other hand, I'll meet for the last time with my wonderful capstone class, which will be much more pleasant. In the meantime, I'm reading and commenting on a few drafts from my postcolonial students, many of whom have really made tremendous progress this semester. While I'm inclined toward melancholy because of the awfulness of my awful class, I have to remind myself that I've had one outstanding class and one really good class this semester, which is batting better than .500. Sometimes that's the best we can hope for.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

An essential equation

I have discovered the equation for departmental bliss:

(S + C) * W = B

S = snow outside, big fluffy white flakes falling gently to the ground to beautify everything they touch.

C = chili inside, a big crock pot bubbling in the department office all morning long, guarded by the departmental secretary, who made the chili and transported it to the office

W = wonderful colleagues who gladly brought in cheese, bread, chips, pop, bowls, and everything else needed for a casual chili lunch

And B, of course, is Bliss, the departmental kind.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cratchit comes to college

These are the times that try men's soles (and women's too), and not just their soles but their ankles and toes, which rest most of the day on a cold floor in a drafty office. How to stay warm when the indoor temperature hovers in the low 60s? I keep in my office a big fuzzy poncho to toss over whatever I happen to be wearing (whether it matches or not), so that this morning you could have seen me wearing a brown and orange poncho over a purple sweater ensemble.

But the real key to comfort starts with the feet. If my feet are cold, I feel the chill clear up to my earlobes, which explains why I've developed an almost religious devotion to warm socks. The only thing that would ever tempt me to keep sheep in flocks: an endless supply of wool socks. I have 'em in black and brown and green and red, but the black ones have reached the end of their useful life, so today I took time off in the middle of the day to go and buy more, and since none of the local stores carry wool socks, I had to drive over the river and through the woods to get them, which stretched my lunch break into midafternoon. (If the Powers That Be want to object to my going sock-shopping during regular office hours, then maybe the Powers That Be should spend some time in my 61-degree office and then explain how I'm supposed to grade papers when all of my energy is devoted to staying warm.)

Now that my feet are toasty warm, I notice that my hands are a bit chilly. I can't type with gloves on and mittens are out of the question--but how about some of those Bob Cratchit gloves with the fingers cut out? Or here's a thought: what about the whole Cratchit outfit, with top hat and scarf and wool waistcoat and fingerless gloves? It might not look terribly professional, but if all of us who work in this building were to dress up for one day in the whole Cratchit outfit, we might inspire the resident Scrooge to put a few more coals on the fire and warm this place up!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Overheard in the halls of academe

"I would never wish for a building to explode actually, but some days when I've been grading papers--!!"

Winter in the air

Snow today! Tiny, hard snowflakes were coming down when I left the house this morning, not enough to stick to the ground but enough to make it feel like winter. The temperature in my office this morning is 63.7 degrees, which is too darn cold, and the department office is full of various types of rich, sweet chocolatey goodies, a very good reason to stay away. But I have a meeting at 5 (yuck) so I have to stick around. I may flee for a while and do some Christmas shopping just to get away from chocolate and cold--or, better yet, I'll spend some time at the rec center. It's got to be warmer there than here and it's impossible to eat chocolate while working out.