Two Complaints and Some Acquisitions

Complaint #1: Why is it so darn cold? Now that it is the end of February, we should be easing into the mid-40s during the day. The air should start to have that fresh spring smell to it. The Charles should definitely not be iced over. I should be looking forward to the muck of mud season, and within a few weeks I should be seeing daffodils pushing their little heads up. Spring! Instead this morning I awoke to frigid temperatures (it was about 13 here in Cambridge) and I had to bundle myself into a heavy down coat, hat, scarf, hood, and ski gloves in order to comfortably leave the house. I marched like a penguin (although sadly without the dulcet tones of Morgan Freeman narrating my every movement) to the library, a walk during which I was frequently buffeted by 20-mile-an-hour winds. I’m thinking fondly of warmer climes.

Complaint #2: Why is Widener so darn cold? Having reached the refuge of the library, I expected warmth. It is true that it is warmer in than out, but as I type this I realize my fingers are stiff and cold (not to mention dry and scaly) and that my nose is starting to run (as it does when it is cold). There’s a fine filigree of frost starting on the interior of my carrel’s window. So I ask: would it hurt to turn the heat up a few degrees?

Cold weather and the discomfort of walking in the cold hasn’t prevented me from book shopping though. Without further ado, this week’s acquisitions:

Francis J. Bremer, John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father (OUP, 2003)

Gordon S. Wood, The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin (Penguin, 2004).

Both of these books were courtesy of the fabulous remainder table at Harvard Bookstore (that’s not the COOP but the independent bookstore right across the street from Widener).

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Light Snow Falling

It’s a beautiful afternoon here in Cambridge, with a light, fluffy snow falling and making the Yard outside my library carrel window lovely to behold. It’s cold out but not windy, making this snowfall a pleasant contrast to the blizzard conditions of two weeks ago.

This seems like a great time to extend a heartfelt Congratulations! to Another Damned Medievalist, who has been offered a tenure-track job at a Small Liberal Arts College. You rock, ADM!

And, in this afternoon’s reading, I discover that Honda will likely be offering an affordable hybrid in the United States next year. This makes me a little sad, actually. I’ll be buying my first car this summer and I was interested in a hybrid, but I cannot afford the ones already on the market (which top $20,000). I also can’t wait until next year to buy a car. Sigh.

I also read on the IRS’s website that it is phasing out the tax credit for purchase of a hybrid vehicle in 2007. Lovely. So much for our collective commitment to lessening our dependence on fossil fuels.

Student Emails

Hugo Schwyzer has a great post on student emails over at Cliopatria. I have to say, most of my interactions with students take place via email unless I require them to come and see me in office hours. To stem the flow of procedural emails, I’ve made my syllabi more detailed. I also now require students who want to talk about paper topics or have me look over drafts to do so during office hours or by appointment, in person. I also now respond to student complaint emails (which I never got very often but usually had something to do with grades and grading) with one line inviting the student to discuss his/her complaints in person. I find this approach lessens the volume of email in my inbox and leads to more personal relationships with students.

I’ve never been on the receiving end of a rude series of student emails like Scott Eric Kaufman has. As usual, Scott presents the exchange in a very humorous way. Enjoy!

The Absent-Minded Almost-Professor

I’ve been very pleased with myself lately. I have been offered and I have accepted a tenure track job. This sort of job market success gives one a swelled head. One floats around on cloud nine, talking to oneself in the mirror and addressing oneself as “Assistant Professor Goetz.” Despite the fact that I am now working frantically to finish my dissertation in anticipation of being a real, live, actual working adult this fall, I’ve still been having an extended zen moment of peace and contentment.

This evening I met a member of my dissertation committee for dinner. There were congratulatory glasses of champagne. Fine food. Giddy Rebecca extolling the virtues of new department and new colleagues. General excitement.

And as I came to my apartment door afterwards, still pleased with myself, I fished around in my pocket for my keys.

No keys.

I frowned (for the first time in days). I pawed through my purse (again, frantically).

No keys.

Re-searched pockets, purse, and other folds of cloth that might contain keys.

And, dimly, the conclusion reached into my brain: soon to be assistant professor Goetz has left her keys on her kitchen table. She has, in all her wisdom, locked herself out. Swelled head bursts with a pop and rapidly deflates as Rebecca contemplates her utter carelessness.

Half an hour and $50.00 later, I am back in my apartment. I’m really not so pleased with myself and more disgusted. And, I’m ready to do some serious dissertating.

Thursday Links

The blog silence will likely continue since I have a good incentive now to finish up the Amazing Mr. Book. I can still provide links to good reads, however.

So, the new History Carnival is up at Philobiblon. I’ve enjoyed posts on Gender in Archaeology, which begins with a disagreement about the role of feminism and gender in archaeology and ends with an excellent point about how understanding gender as a concept has moved historians and archaeologists beyond “gender” and into a broader understanding of the role of difference in human society. The comments are thought-provoking too. Giornale Nuovo presents wonderful pictures and information about the beginnings of natural history. For fans of the American Revolution, read all about Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

Jonathan at Head Heeb posted the first online symposium on the Old Bailey Proceedings Online. This is a fantastic set of searchable collection of seventeenth and eighteenth-century court papers, and the online “conference papers” about selected Old Bailey records are a great way to start a conversation about historical research, historical writing, and the internet. I’m just starting to read it, so I don’t have particular recommendations, but they all look pretty good!

My colleague and fellow Cliopat Mark Grimsley will be posting a series of ruminations on the state and status of military history in the academy today. Here’s the inaugural post, to be followed by more!

And now, for a dose of history humor, from a link generously donated by reader and fellow Batesie Mike D., The Onion’s take on historians, comment cards, and Denny’s:

On the card was written, “My bacon was crispy, and my waitress filled my coffee three times.” Willeford rated his dining experience “good.”

Historians have only just begun to unlock the secrets the cards hold, as there are over 270,000 to go through. According to Brayton, trends are already beginning to emerge.

“By examining these comment cards, we have unique insight into not just Denny’s, but the tapestry of food-service heritage itself,” Brayton said. “Here is a history writ large, with little yellow golf pencils.”

The comment-card archive charts not only the quality of Denny’s service over time, but also patrons’ response to select menu items. Of particular interest to scholars is the nation’s initial reaction to what would become Denny’s most popular menu item, the Grand Slam Breakfast.

Said Brayton: “Many people at the time thought it was just too much breakfast.”

Hee hee. Now, back to our regularly scheduled dissertation.

Blizzard Update

at 3:49pm:

I measured between 8-10 inches of snow. Keep in mind the snow is light and fluffy and drifting, which causes depth variation.

Temp: at Peabody Terrace, 21.2F
at Logan Airport, 16.0F

Winds: at Logan Airport, sustained at 22mph, gusting to 35mph.

It’s cold out there, folks! I’ll go out later to remeasure and play with my snowshoes.

This Week’s Acquisitions

The Commonplace Book of William Byrd of Westover Edited by Kevin Berland, Jan Kirsten Gilliam,and Kenneth Lockridge (UNC Press, 2001).

Exchanging our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South By Michael A. Gomez (UNC Press, 1998).

Through a Glass Darkly: Reflections on Personal Identity in Early America Edited by Ronald Hoffman, Mechal Sobel, and Fredrika J. Teute (UNC Press, 1997).

Rebecca’s Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World By Jon E. Sensbach (Harvard University Press, 2005).

The Two Princes of Calabar: An Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey By Randy J. Sparks (Harvard University Press, 2004).

The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume V: Historiography Edited by Robin W. Winks (Oxford University Press, 1999).

It’s blizzarding out, and I’m reliably informed that I can expect thunder snow withing the next hour. So, instead of going outdoors to take in the blizzard, I plan to watch it out my front windows with a pot of tea and my new books, and possibly a draft of chapter two.