One of the earliest improvements I made to House the Original was adding a simple through-wall A/C to the upstairs bedroom, which had originally been an attic. Thanks to its attic-ness, temperatures in the summer were frequently ten to fifteen degrees warmer up there, and the little A/C (still going strong!) saved me from spontaneously combusting like Krook. House the Sequel, despite being an improvement in many ways on House the Original, has been entirely lacking in A/C. I didn't want to drill a large hole through my wall, as that's really not aesthetically pleasing, and the various options for houses with no pre-existing heating ducts (e.g., mini-splits) have one significant problem--they cost $$$. $$$ which I have already spent on fixing whatever else has been wrong with House the Sequel, like the incorrectly-installed bathtub. (Given the choice of having the bathtub crash through the floor into the kitchen or having pleasant temperatures upstairs, I opted for intact floors.)
Nevertheless, I finally broke down and grabbed myself a window A/C:
...which, as you can see, is still in a box, as opposed to doing its thing in a window. I don't know if you've looked at the title of this blog lately, but it's called "The Little Professor" for a reason. Just getting the A/C out of the car and into the house involved high drama, because the A/C weighs nearly as much as I do; I hope the neighbors weren't overly concerned by my yells of self-encouragement, which they might have mistaken for howls of agony. (Come to think of it, since the box wound up on my foot at one point, there probably were some howls of agony in there.) Needless to say, getting it up the stairs was a non-starter, let alone getting it into the window, but I have high hopes that a handyman will arrive on Wednesday to take care of the problem (well, that, and replacing the kaput gate to my deck, and fixing a window, and...). Of course, getting it out of the window come winter will be...interesting.
In case you're wondering, it's currently 87 degrees upstairs.
I've been writing some version of this blog for about a decade (it originated on Blogspot), and so Dr. Crazy's questions did strike a nerve. It was always my intention to write an academic blog, and not a political blog, a personal-life blog, a travel blog, or anything else of the sort. In my case, that meant de-anonymizing fairly early on: it's very difficult to anonymously write about your research when the research in question occupies the nichiest niche that ever niched. (Religion and literature: big business. Nineteenth-century non-canonical religious fiction, with occasional visits by poetry: let me introduce you to all ten of us. In the known world. Quite possibly the galaxy.) Moreover, when I started, I was a non-tenured sort of academic. Then I mutated into a tenured sort of academic. And now I'm at the point of thinking about applying for promotion to full professor. Does this affect blogging?
Yes and no. This school year has seen the blogging slow down considerably, thanks to the trials and travails of revising Book Two; I imagine it will pick up again once I can get my new project(s) under way. But more than that, going up the academic ladder means...I've accrued commitments that are not a weblog. Even though I hardly qualify as an academic "star"--more of an academic streetlight, maybe, or perhaps a nightlight--I'm at that point in my career where people ask me to do things, whether it be referreeing a manuscript, writing an article, or sitting on Committee #3921. (As I recall, a previous chair's congratulations on my tenure application included the line, "And now, I have a committee I need you to be on.") At the same time, there are also fewer subjects that I can write about, in large part because I'm not anonymous; some of the strangest/most frustrating/most aggravating experiences I've had as an instructor or graduate director just can't put in an appearance here, because there's no safe way to keep other parties nameless. Too, some things I might have once posted here are now over on Facebook or Twitter.
Still, Twitter is hardly a substitute for a long-form blog post when it comes to writing up the latest Victorian novel about baptism. Although it might be fun to live-tweet a religious novel, come to think of it...
While wandering through Wegmans, I noted that they had their mini greenhouses for sale again. I was particularly tempted by the thought of buying a little greenhouse of carnivorous plants for my department office. (Pitcher plants! Venus flytraps!)
However, I'm not entirely sure what message that would send to my students.
Sir Walter Scott has been completely dispatched (at least for a couple of weeks, at which point I'll go back and look at him again). Final...er, more final...revisions to Book Two now in sight.
I think my students in the Gothic course have become convinced that you can't have Gothic without people (usually women) swooning away. Which reminds me that my mother once asked me to recommend Victorian novels without either marriages or swooning women. This rather substantially reduced the available pool of novels.
Midsemester break looms upon the horizon! And I'm doing...absolutely nothing besides writing-related endeavors, although I'll probably get back to shelving.
My mildly radioactive cat has returned. Despite the impressive display of rage on her return trip from Ithaca (probably untranslatable by even the standards of Star Trek's Universal Translator device), she promptly went back to her old self once she entered the house. Ironically, that's something of a problem: Vicki is very affectionate, but I have to limit physical contact for the next couple of weeks because, well, mildly radioactive cat. I suspect my water bill is going to double, given all the hand-washing I have to do every time I pet her.
I was a little startled to discover that googling for Lawrence Alma-Tadema turned up, among other things, Alma-Tadema fan fiction.
My usual reason for trekking to Ithaca, NY (home to gorges and Cornell) involves academic bookstores, of which there are noticeably more than in Brockport. (Before you ask: there are none in Brockport.) However, tomorrow I'm trekking to Ithaca with an aggravated cat in tow. Victoria, who will be thirteen shortly, decided that she would celebrate her impending birthday with a discombobulated thyroid. (This is not uncommon among cats of a Certain Age.) Oral meds? Not working very well. Transdermal meds, applied in the ear? Massive allergic reaction. (I was on the other side of the country at the time, so there was some long-distance cat wrangling going on--between bouts of bronchitis-induced coughing.) So, as Vicki is an extremely healthy cat otherwise, we're going to nuke the problem. No, seriously: radioactive iodine treatment. Which, alas, means a) driving 100 + miles to Ithaca, where she'll be treated at the Cornell veterinary hospital (arrrrgggh), b) leaving her there for a week or more in quarantine (because, radioactive cat), and c) driving her 100 + miles back from Ithaca (repeat arrrrgggh). Unfortunately for my ears, Vicki is a cat of...Strong Opinions. So we're talking at least two hundred miles' worth of what my family refers to as Furry Sirens. Sigh.
1. Shortly after arriving in California, I begin a regime of non-stop hacking and coughing. This makes me sad. Eventually, I hack and cough my way over to the local hospital, which informs me that I have bronchitis. This continues to make me sad, but in a diagnosed sort of way.
2. By the time I arrive at MLA, I am down to one or two really bad coughing fits per day, but no longer need to drug myself to sleep at night. (Granted, I insist on having these coughing fits during interviews--"Er, don't worry, neither dying nor contagious"--but still.) On the last day of MLA, however, I realize that I am now sick with something else. Sadness persists.
5. On the second day of my classes--the second day!--I wake up and feel...strange. I get to work and continue to feel strange. And then, certain untoward events occur which suggest to me that perhaps my students might not altogether appreciate my presence in the classroom. I go home and resign myself to a temporary diet of ginger ale and saltines. Today, I'm still confined to the house, sniffly and groggy. Also, sad.
Dear immune system: what is going on? It's time to get your act together.
Editor's note: The following fragment came into my hands after an archeological expedition to Brock-Port discovered a miraculously still-functional electronic device, known to the ancients as a "laptop computer," which contained several documents of a most curious description. Although the bytes were considerably degraded, we were able to decode the narrative below, which throws a most shocking light upon the manners and customs of academic life in the twenty-first century.
...Icy winds, as cutting and uncaring as an anonymous peer review, blasted around the crumbling brick towers. They piled the dank, dirty snow into treacherous heaps, concealing deadly ice patches that threatened the lives of any innocents who dared venture beyond the doors. But those trapped inside were held fast by cruel orders, and heavy chains, and evil spells beyond description. For this was the Dungeon of the Syllabi, to which all faculty who left writing their syllabi to the day before classes were consigned. Woe!...
...Shivering in her chilly cell, Elle P. hunched over her laptop, staring bleary-eyed at a syllabus for the Gothic Novel. Her chains of USB cords clacked softly as she sought to relieve her aching back. Beyond the steel door, she heard the wails of fellow inmates, bemoaning their fates as they pounded unceasingly at their uncaring keyboards. Some of them, it was rumored, had been sent to the dread Dungeon every semester for years and years upon end. Elle shuddered at the thought of the bitter torments that awaited those who failed to complete their miserable task: incomplete assignments! Late papers! Sneering student evaluations! The disdain of her colleagues! Whimpering softly as she bemoaned her fate, all the more horrid for being self-induced, Elle burst into a song of despair--but her voice soon died away, for she had never been very good at rhyming on the fly...
...Finally, the gnawing pains in her belly drove Elle to abandon her office in search of what sustenance the Dungeon had to offer. Timidly, she crept out into the halls, trembling as the howls and shrieks of the other lost souls escalated in volume. She inched past the mysterious, fading posters attached to the walls, which blazoned forth the agonies suffered by prisoners past, and, fearing to take the clanking elevator--for who knows if it might suffer some mysterious breakdown, trapping her there to die of starvation!--she crept down the steps. There, standing before her, were vending machines, filled with unhealthy food intended to inflict cavities, sugar rushes, and halitosis on all who dared consume it. But the demands of the syllabi forced Elle to indulge...
...Behind her, a SOUND! Elle whirled about and found herself faced with some unearthly creature, tall and indistinct of form, its features obscured with a scarf, its body wrapped in a heavy coat, its feet encased in fuzzy boots. Her thoughts spun and crashed uselessly into each other in what remained of her brain. Was this the ghost rumored to haunt the building's halls? Was it some vampire, out to suck her life's blood? Or, even worse, was it the embodiment of the feared SERVER OUTAGE, which had been known to destroy faculty lives with one zap of its electronic paw? Elle's senses swam, and she felt herself swooning to the floor, at the mercy of this strange beast, when it spoke:
"I'm, like, looking for the computer lab. Is it, um, on this floor?"
Not trusting herself to speak, Elle pointed one trembling finger in the direction of the computer lab.
"Cool, dude! Thanks."
...She had completed her task! The curse would soon be lifted! Elle once again attempted to lift her voice in song, but ceased when the next cell's occupant complained that she was off-key. Nevertheless, she joyously printed out her syllabi and skipped to the door, contemplating her future after her release from the Dungeon. Never again would she fall prey to that dire demon, Procrastination. Her life would be one of virtue, cheerfulness, and, above all, punctuality. As she neared the office ahead, she saw other inmates, all congratulating each other with great excitement over their impending depatures from this fearsome pile.
Yet, all of a sudden, a terrific SHRIEK arose from amidst the crowd. The congratulations turned to screams, moans, and gasps of agony beyond mortal description. Elle rushed to the office as she saw one sufferer after another faint to the floor, clutching their syllabi in their cold hands. What could it be? What new evil? Why were faculty being brought low at the very moment of their triumph?
And then--she SAW. Shaken to her core, she sobbed witlessly for a moment, then swooned (again) to the floor. For the punishment dreaded beyond all others had been inflicted upon them. Upon the photocopier, there was a sign, inked in a red more bloody than any human blood:
"Photocopier broken. We've called the repairman. Sorry!"