Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Orange CSU

The game of roulette is over. The winning bet - orange CSU. Funny, I wasn't aware that roulette included orange. Oh well.

This is a very exciting turn of events. Yesterday, R accepted a tenure-track job with Cal State University. The excitement is dampened somewhat by the fact that this job is in Orange County. (The realization that we'll be moving to the OC feels a little like a blow to the head. I'm still reeling from it all.)

As it turns out, the cake that S and I made goes great with champagne. The only thing that tastes better is celebration champagne.

Monday, February 19, 2007

in my news

Harvard University just announced that it has hired Drew Gilpin Faust as its new president! She's the University's first woman president (and, reportedly, the first president in over three hundred years who does not hold a Harvard degree). If she is at good at administration as she is as a historian of American women, then this is great news for Harvard (and, one hopes, for women in the IV league).

cold, week deux

Still bitterly cold here. The wind chill gets us well below zero and we've had more snow. The good news is that a heat-wave of 40 degrees is projected for later this week! (Yipee, flooding.)

Middleofnowhere has been somewhat isolating because of the size of the town (and, admittedly, the nature of my work) but this past week has been even more so. No school and so much snow and cold that there is little reason to go outside for long. S and I put our cabin fever to good use (once S recovered from her flu) and made cake. We're both big cake fans, so our late Valentine's day served merely as an excuse for cake - in this case, chocolate cake.

R and I are currently debating the benefits and drawbacks to West Coast versus East Coast living. Any thoughts?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

my Valentine

I spent the day nursing my sick valentine who, I'm happy to report, is recovering well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

it continues...

It is still bitterly cold here. I was so cold last night that I had trouble sleeping. Turning the heat up was of no use because the furnace was broken - as in, not working at all. It got down to 50 degrees in here by lunchtime today when it was finally working again. S wore here winter coat inside. Once the furnace was operational again she hugged the pipes that deliver steam heat to the radiators.

Note: S is home on a random Tuesday because these people are complete wimps. It snowed 2 inches last night and they cancelled school. Someone - like me - would assume that if you live in the northeast you learn that snow is a given each winter and how to cope (as in, drive carefully, control skids). Ok, so it did snow another 10 inches during the day, but still, I have no trouble getting around. I think these people were just looking for any random excuse to cancel school and wreak havoc in my life. (There are too many traditional "wives and mothers" around here, so there's no consideration for the value of my time.) Anyway, my strategy is "movie day" - six hours of hypnotic Pixar films. This should give me some time to work.

(The southern and sun-belt locations that are job-prospects for R look more appealing by the hour.)

Monday, February 12, 2007


R is away for the third time in as many weeks. This prompts me to increase my ferrous-ness. Allow me to explain.

Growing up in Montana, I acquired an understanding of iron-man football early on. In fact, I played a little in high school, but that is another story altogether. Anyway, "iron men" play both offense and defense. It is exhausting; no breaks; you are constantly on; it requires an iron will. This is the version of parenting I'm playing - both offense and defense, et cetera, et cetera.

In fact, I've been playing for about five months. The first teaching gig is a truly monstrous undertaking (especially for the over-achiever type - any of you familiar with that?). When we were living in Oregon, parenting was a blissfull partnership. One of us took her to daycare, the other picked her up. One managed the nap, the other bedtime; we even alternated getting up with her on the weekends so the other could sleep in (because sleeping in for S equals 7 AM). I highly recommend this arrangement; it cuts the exhaustion. Anyway, this doesn't work now because R is trying to stay one step ahead of his two lecture classes, 4 independent study students, and 5 interns (and, then, there's the whole job hunt thing too). So, I'm playing ironmaid (or ironmade) parenting. I'm doing it for the team.

And I have to say that I'm getting tired; I think rust is setting in.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

the more things change...

This morning I was checking in with my lifeline to the outside world and heard an interesting story about Guatemalan workers in the U.S. These 12 men were promised landscaping work in North Carolina and they came to the U.S. using temporary vistas (read: work visas). Some shady character representing a company that doesn't seem to exist "rerouted" them to Connecticut where they received $2/hour - this meant they had to ask their families to wire money for food (they had planned, of course, to send wages home). Some of them simply walked away from the work and the rest found a Latino aid association and are suing their employer.

The entire time I was listening to this I kept thinking "Braceros." This story fit perfectly with everything I've ever read about the Braceros Program. And here I find that it lives long after its official demise - isn't the administrative side of government wonderful? The son-king - in his limitless vacuousness - wants to revive this program, as the "work visa" program. I'm sure when he talks about it Cheney and his ilk salivate at the prospect of unlimited exploitable labor. In some ways U.S. history is reducible to one simple theme - stealing someone's labor (and their bodies and their lives in the process).

The one point of light in all this is the Latino legal aid organization that is helping them sue their employers. I really want to hold out hope that this case can put the employer to the screws.

Monday, February 5, 2007

i surrender

To the weather gods: You have demonstrated your infinite command of the wind, rain, and snow. I never doubted your power. Those snide comments questioning the reach of the "lake effect" were made by the uninitiated. The snow has been nice but 15 to 25 degrees below zero is too much. I acknowledge your control and my powerlessness in these matters. And I fomally offer my appeal for an end to the wind chill and a return to the balmy weather of freezing temperatures.

If you weather gods see fit to moderate the wind (and perhaps move in a tropical front), I will remove the heavy curtains from the poor-excuse for windows. And I will take S outside for sledding and snow angels. I will even take her back to school (which you well-know closed because of your tricks). This will allow me to appreciate the improved weather as I walk to the library for my temporarily-suspended visits with the microfilm machine.

Such a bargain can be had for a mere 30 degrees.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

dead ringer

A post the other day by Kungfuramone reminded me of one of the light-hearted aspects of our jobs: Humor. Academics are way too serious. But they don't have to be.

Take for instance the following comparison.

One of my favorite parts of the colonial U.S. history course is Paul Revere, as Matto and E well know. This is because Paul Revere is a dead ringer for Jack Black. You can judge for yourself:

Then, of course, my mind wanders to personality comparisons. And I imagine that Revere and Black acted in very similar ways. It is the raised eyebrow; this totally gives him away.

(I plan to take credit for this discovery some day when Black plays Revere in a historic film.)

Another attempt at humor (and a successful one in my opinion) was created by a friend who (sigh!) decided to leave academia. It is the "then-and-now-popsicle-stick." It is great for people who don't have a good celebrity or historic double. It requires a bit of image research, but can be well worth it. Anyway, my friend C. had to do a report in our seminar on "a prominent historian." She chose U.S. historian Ruiz. She illustrated her talk with a popsicle stick (or tongue depressor) that featured small pictures of the historian, then and now on either end of the stick. C. wasn't making fun of the assignment or the historian, she just happened on this visual aid. I was thoroughly amused. (Yes, chalk that up to complete nerdiness.)