Friday, March 23, 2007

This is fantastic

I've discovered one of the best things in life is social gatherings for things that most people don't think to have gatherings for: singing rounds, reading picture books.

A game of duck-duck-goose this morning involving five undergraduates, a sociology professor, and his three-year-old twin daughters gave me a brilliant idea. Sometime soon by the creek behind my house, there's going to be a stone-skipping, creek-wading, and duck-duck-goose party. Dear weather: please cooperate.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Here I go with the dead authors again

Hafiz, if you were here
You would probably wink and say
I should keep reading poetry
Instead of writing

If you weren't dead seven hundred years ago,
Tomorrow you could tell that to
My professor.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Librarian solidarity

Today's history nugget: I'm reading about Berkeley in the 1960s, which illuminates sides of academic life I hadn't even dreamed of. In 1969 a group of students held a strike that included storming the main library. The librarians, using a tactic they probably learned from protesters in the first place, linked arms around the card catalogue to protect it. Much as I sympathize with student protest in general, there's something very touching about this. If my card catalogue were threatened I probably would have done the same.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's time.

The problem with any theme for a blog or website is that I get tired of it after four or five years. Hopefully this one will last a good while?

The photo on the left is a Bryn Mawr lantern. Each student has one to light on special occasions like May Day. On the right is an object peculiar to Scandinavian churches - a lysglobe or light-globe, studded with candles. This one is from Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen, a block from where I went to school.

The Emma Goldman quote is from a time when she was dancing at a party and another anarchist told her to stop because her frivolity would damage the Cause. The best-known quote attributed to her, which she didn't actually say, is in the same vein: "If I can't dance, it's not my revolution."

Here's to living your ideals - and to dancing as you go!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I've discovered that tax forms read like a really bad choose-your-own adventure novel.

"As you approach the door, you hear a scream on the other side!
If you go through the door anyway, enter a 0 and go to Line 14.
If you turn around and go back, attach Schedule D.
If you listen to hear more, add lines 2, 3, 4, and 5. Enter on Line 2 of your PA-40."

Once we've mailed them in, some poor tax employee gets to process them, which can't be fun. I wrote jokes on the envelopes this year to liven things up a little.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


There are times when nineteenth-century literature feels really distant, and times when it feels really relevent. I'm reading an 1844 tract on the rights of women that refers to "ludicrous pictures of ladies in hysterics at the polls, and senate chambers filled with cradles." I'm thinking the cradles wouldn't be be such a bad thing - when I have children I'm totally going to take them lobbying with me. It's such rubbish that there are these strict categories - you are In Politics or Not In Politics; you are a Professional or you are a Stay-At-Home, you have a public and a private life, your kids are at home or chucked in a daycare.

I'd rather gnaw my own arm off than be In Politics, but I still want to give my senators a piece of my mind. And if I'm going to be in their offices my kids might as well come too and learn about it.