Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Plural of Anecdote...

The plural of anecdote is not "data."

From a post at Fannie's Room.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Weekend of Contemplation and Remedial Geography

I had to get away this weekend; to think, to ponder, to just be. So, I high-tailed it to the Finger Lakes region of New York State, which must be one of the most incredibly beautiful places I've been. It is stunningly spectacular in autumn; if you want to see fall colors and geography so incredible that you might actually cry, and you're heading north on Interstate 81 (I have no idea what the directions are if you're heading south...), take Exit 15 towards Dunmore/Throop and follow Route 20 West (it will become the concurrency of Routes 5 and 20 at some point, don't worry about it, and keep driving!). You'll pass through some breathtaking valleys and several towns, including Skaneateles (pronounced approximately as Skinny-Atlas), Seneca Falls (home in 1848 of the first Womens' Rights Convention), and Auburn (home of Harriet Tubman and William Seward).

But, I didn't go that way this time. I drove up via Ithaca, and meandered the western shore of Cayuga Lake. Tons of wineries and an apple cider-y (worth a stop; who knew there were so many different flavors of apple cider), and some fine, FINE ice cream. None of which I partook of this trip, alas. Though some may contemplate best over ice cream and adult beverages, I opted for the great outdoors.

Which is how I encountered my lesson in remedial geography. I've posted about visiting Taughannock Falls before. I went again. Here's the thing: there is a lovely, mostly-flat, groomed, three-quarter mile trail along the bottom of the gorge that takes you to the base of the falls, which looks like this:
The falls are about 33 feet taller than the ones at Niagara. The falls there, in the left of the picture? Are falling about 215 feet. And are beautiful!

But something possessed me to take the rim trail. I did not make the connection between the bottom of the gorge and the rim and the vertical distance between them. Somehow, I forgot that up = climbing. Note the rim is well above the water fall.

There were stairs. Many, many, many stairs. Witness (and this is not all of them!):

I am not in the best shape, so the equivalent of approximately 2o stories of stairs were a challenge. But, up I went. Thankfully, there was a bench at the top!

Down was easier. And I am a little more sane than I was last Friday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Word Count and an Industrial Revolution Bleg

This book chapter is hard, ya'll. It's the "why this happened" chapter, and several very eloquent folks have had opinions. And I think their opinions have been good, but not the whole story. I think the whole story is... well, the whole story. It's a mess of all the things people have said about why, and then some more. Ideological and religious shifts, check... status declarations and negotiations, check... professionalization and specialization of the industry, check... urbanization, check... development of the American Middle Class (however you define that), check... but also? Trains. Post office rates and structure. Wood-pulp paper. Thing is, they're not all discrete bits that I can summarize and move on; several are deeply inter-related, which makes this chapter challenging. Why I'm wrassling with this one now, and not a "what happened" chapter (infinitely simpler), I don't know. Call me a masochist.

Right then. The point of the post:

Word count today: 390 so far. I expect to pound out a few more in the next half hour.
Word count update: 672. I have more longhand, but I'm only counting what's in Word. Maybe I can squeeze some more in before bed?
Word count update 2: 1,018. Much is repetitive; much needs more fleshing out; much needs much, much reworking. But, in the spirit of Shitty First Drafts, I have something. And it seems to kind of be coming together. I hope I feel the same way in the morning!

Yay also for Shitty First Drafts. [h/t Clio Bluestocking and Notorious, PhD]

Bleg: Can anyone recommend a good overview of the American Industrial Revolution that touches on the social aspects? I'm not interested in when the cotton gin was invented (well, I am, but not for this particular project...) I'm interested in urbanization, rise of the middle-class, link with evangelicalism and religious reform movements, etc. I've seen things tossed out there as though they're related to Book Topic, but would like to take a step back before I go there and check out what scholars of the IR have to say, yanno?

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Labyrinth of Copyright, Continued

This is a follow-up to my post a bit ago regarding Orphaned Works.

The Copyright Advisory Network (sponsored by the American Library Association) has a handy tool online that gives quick-and-dirty copyright information based upon date of first publication and whether copyright is asserted. Worth bookmarking, y'all (requires Javascript):

Digital Copyright Slider

[h/t BookofJoe]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All That Remains

And, actually, not even that.

Fieldwork shot: What was left this morning of the nineteenth century house we excavated around earlier this summer. What's left now is nothing; bare earth. Watching the backhoe was kind of cool, but watching the house come down was not. Sometimes, fieldwork isn't fun.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Class Starts on Wednesday

I'm getting ready to start teaching again; class starts on Wed, so far there are around 30 students registered. While in the past, I've had up to 6 drop out for various reasons, that hasn't been the case with this particular course (Intro to Physical Anthro). This course seems to average 1-2 drops, so I have a big class.

I have to tweak the syllabus a bit, in part to compensate for an anticipated H1N1 outbreak (easy on the attendance, have a backup plan, etc. At least the uni has a plan to deal with it, at least initially), and in part to change up a bit how I'm lecturing. Although there is some technical stuff that they have to get (meiosis, mitosis, and the mechanics of natural selection), I'm going to try moving a little away from the text, and make them more responsible for the content. It should make things more interesting, encourage attendance, and make it easier to keep on schedule.

I think I'll also move the essay due date earlier in the semester, so I don' t have a giant stack of papers to grade right at the end.

Beloit College has a "Mindset" list for incoming students. It gives a glimpse of how different the world of my students is from my own. For example, the Class of 2013 has never used a card catalog to find a book. The KGB has never officially existed. And women have always outnumbered men in college. I've also discovered that they don't edit or compose on paper, but do everything on the screen.

I do enjoy the teaching, and I'm looking forward to it. Unfortunately, personal shit is hitting the fan, and that will likely take a lot of my energy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mail Delay

I came home to a small package in the mail. "Return to Sender" stamped on it. "WTF?" I thought, "I haven't mailed anything like this in the last few weeks..." Checked return address; yep, mine. Looked at the date on the postage meter stamp. Looked again. December 17, 2001. TWO THOUSAND AND ONE! Hello, like, almost 8 years ago? And it turns up undeliverable... NOW?

Just for fun, I entered the Delivery Confirmation number into the post office website. Below is the entire roster of information:
  • Arrival at Post Office, August 27, 2009, 6:47 am, FORT WORTH, TX 76107
  • Undeliverable as Addressed, August 27, 2009, 8:06 am, FORT WORTH, TX 76107
Where on earth has this packet been? I hope it went somewhere interesting for the last 8 years, and wasn't jammed in some machine that whole time.

Perhaps it is a message; that even where you think you know where something's been the last 8 years, it can be lost. And maybe even returned to you, even though the intended recipient went without.