They grow culture in a petri dish.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Academic Housekeeping

Yesterday, I ran into a coworker, Curtis, who was bemoaning the loss of a crucial few paragraphs of writing to our somewhat less-than-current Rolfs' Office computers. Attempting to save (or some such action), he got an error message, and the software was unable to recover his writing. Beside himself, Curtis was almost unable to write. I sympathize with this feeling. Often, I'll plan a day based on one or two actions which will carry forward the rest of the day's actions. But, if I am unable to complete the first actions, I'm mentally lost.

This fact reminded me of part of Catharine Beecher's 1841 Domestic Economy. In this advice book, she encourages housekeepers to be systematic; then, she admonishes them to be adaptable as well. In the chapter "American Housekeepers," she observes, "A woman, who attempts to carry out any plans of system, order, and economy, and who has her feelings and habits conformed to certain rules, is constantly liable to have her plans crossed, and her tastes violated, by the inexperience or inattention of those about her. And no housekeeper, whatever are her habits, can escape the frequent recurrence of negligence or mistake, which interferes with other plans" (282). While Beecher advises that the proper housewife ignore her feelings and display, instead, happiness and efficiency, I think that, with academic housekeeping, it is just as useful to record frustrations in order to surmount them. That said, here are my recent academic (and housekeeping) frustrations:

1. UPS delivery of Amazon books. How the hell did I ask for UPS delivery!?! I'm never systematically home. Since I got my second failed delivery notice, I'm going to be hunting down the UPS hub sometime in the near future.

2. My advisor. Out sick. Again. WTF!?! What have I done to have the anger of God continually rained down on me on this front? Sabbatical. Fractured wrist. Hellish take at exams. (And now) food poisoning. Honestly, y'all.

3. E-bay refunding of money for upholstery fabric (ok, ok this is "housekeeping" in an "academic" setting). I won a bid for good, heavy, cheap upholstery. Waited. Waited. Finally, the seller refunds my money, explaining that some family person got sick again. My condolences, but—ya know—note to seller: don't do business if you can't do business.

Ok, good. Frustration out: calmness in. Just like Curtis, I guess I'll have to start somewhere else.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I find I am now violently—though, with any hope, only temporarily—addicted to pancakes.

That is all.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

When You are on Trial for Murder, it Would Help Not to Look Like a Murderer

Phil Spector, you have hit a trifeca of my interests: the criminal justice system, personal grooming, and ideas for inventions. Let me say at the outset that I have no knowledge of whether or not you shot Lana Clarkson at your mansion on February 3, 2003. Further, I understand that, in the American criminal justice system, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. That said, ya look like a murderer. Or, more specifically, you look like a cross between convicted serial killer Aileen Wuornos and fictional film hero Edward Scissorhands. (Ok, ok, if I were splicing DNA, I'd have to add director Tim Burton into the stew, but, well, you get the point.)

Since you are a well-known and successful record producer and since Clarkson was shot at your residence which was described on as "castle-like," I assume that you're set for money. Bubbola, use some of that money to fix yourself up. I'm talking, a haircut, a facial, and some less intimidating clothing, but those are only my opening offers. Indeed, I think you could use some major Swan-strength work here.

Were I to run a criminal attorney-based makeover business (what a wonderful idea!), I'd fit you with the "Guy Pearce." In this personal makeover package, you'd reflect your foggy memory (a la Memento) and justifiable drive for success (L.A. Confidential). Also, were you convicted of cannibalism, I'm pretty sure the jury'd let you off for being simply "over-hungry" (see Ravenous). For example, these images of Mr. Guy Pearce from First Snow don't scream "dangerous killer;" instead, they elicit "oops, I dropped my contact...yowza!"(Exhibit "A") and "honey, you've got some ketchup on your forehead" (Exhibit "B"). I mean, don't you feel compassion for the sexy Australian?

In conclusion, Phil: I'm not saying that you should get away with murder if you did, indeed, murder someone. However, I am saying that you can't get away with leaving the house looking like a derranged madman. That, my friend, will surely bring punishment.