Morals, shmorals

Well, bugger that. I spent the past several hours crafting a post about general trends in American high school history studies and its application as propaganda about the American Empire, but it’s a Friday and no one wants to read over 1,000 words of serious business.

So I’ve shelved that essay – after all the hard work I put into it, no way was I going to delete the whole thing – and instead bring you the following, courtesy of Writer Beware:

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100% pure squeezed sunshine*

Every now and then I get the most intense craving for orange juice. I’ve never done any sort of “scientific” observation to see if there’s a pattern or a trigger, but when it hits I cannot ignore it; I am completely in its thrall, and everything else must be set aside until the craving has been satisfied. I can guzzle nearly a quart in one sitting, if it’s a really powerful craving (and I have enough OJ on hand).

I don’t generally get these cravings with other foods – sure, I indulge in chocolate at certain times of the month, and stress and frustration make me want to run to the nearest ABC store and stock up – but not even when I was pregnant did I get cravings like I do for orange juice. It’s just one of those weird things.

(Also, the juice has to be pulp-free. I do not like encountering orange bits in my juice!)
* Tropicana slogan

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Gradual poaching

I had originally intended this post to be a commentary of sorts in response to Cathy Day’s essay yesterday in The Millions, “The Story Problem: 10 Thoughts on Academia’s Novel Crisis.” Her observations about the way creative writing programs are structured – mostly out of necessity – produces writers who are better equipped to write short stories than longer works left me pondering not only my own tendencies as a writer but also how those categories might apply to the work of medieval historians. Continue reading

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Books read in 2010

As part of keeping up with Post Every Week in 2011, here’s one I’m duplicating from my LiveJournal: a list of books I read in 2010. Some of them are linked to reviews I posted on my book review blog, Beyond the Blurb.

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Posting in 2011 and a film review

WordPress is trying to encourage people to blog more by challenging them to post every day or every week in 2011. I could be cynical and say it’s just to generate more traffic and business for WordPress as Twitter and Tumblr continue to lure people away, but it’s a harmless and fun idea, and Lord knows I need to step away from the cynicism fountain for a while, so I’m going to join in. Sort of. I won’t “officially” sign up, but I am going to make the effort to post here at least once a week in 2011.

The eternal problem with resolving to post more frequently, however, is coming up with things to talk about. I have friends on LiveJournal who post every day, using their LJs as an electronic diary, but that’s not my style. For this first post of 2011 I considered sharing the latest installment in the saga of trying to get my son licensed to drive, but I need to resist the temptation to rant and try to be more upbeat and optimistic, for my health if nothing else. I would post something related to medieval history – such as the follow-up to my earlier post about Bertha of Kent – or academia, before I get dropped from Cliopatria’s blogroll – but I don’t have anything prepared (story of my life). So for this week’s post I’ll discuss a movie I watched recently.

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Bits ‘n bobs

Earlier this afternoon my son asked me if I knew anything about quantum computers. My response, as they say on the Internet, was O___o.

(He was asking for a paper he’s writing for his chemistry class. Something to do with finding a way to manipulate nuclei to pass one solid object through another solid object. Pretty sci-fi stuff, as he says.)

Now that he’s a high school junior, we’ve been spending a lot of time researching potential colleges for him to apply to next year. I’m thinking about creating a separate blog to document that process, but can’t come up with a good/clever title for it.

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Behold the mighty zucchini

No doubt there are dozens of people making similar jokes today, but I can’t help myself.

Woman uses zucchini to drive off marauding bear

I hope the folks at the Zucchini Marketing Council are paying attention, because opportunities like this don’t knock on your door every day. Broccoli might be the miracle food, able to kill cancer (or so George Carlin tells us, and who can argue with him?), but can it protect you from bears? Can lima beans? Can a mess of collard greens?

I think not.

So you gardeners, when you’re wondering if you’ll ever manage to get rid of those zucchini – you swore you put in only two plants, but somehow you’ve harvested enough to leave full bags on your neighbors’ doorsteps under cover of darkness several times – don’t despair. Because when the bearpocalypse comes, you’ll be armed and ready.

(I have to add that it amused me to read in the opening sentence of the Wikipedia entry on zucchini:

The zucchini (pronounced /zʊˈkiːni/) (the incorrect term) or courgette (what it should be called) (/kʊǝˈʒɛt/ or [kɔːˈʒɛt])

There’s some amusing debate on the discussion page too.)

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Bertha of Kent: The Historical Record

I’ve been meaning to compose an entry about Bertha of Kent probably for as long as I’ve had this blog. That’s going on four years. Just goes to show you, hell hath no highway department like good intentions.

Bertha intrigues me because she’s such an enigma. What we know about her – what few details survive in the historical record – would probably fit on the point of a thumb tack. In this regard, she’s not so far different from many women in the early Middle Ages. That she is not only mentioned at all, but in multiple sources even, is notable in itself. Yet given her reputed role in the mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity at the turn of the seventh century, the silence of the sources on Bertha is both disappointing and tantalizing.

What do we know about Bertha? Continue reading

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I can see clearly now*

I can see again!

After four years of steadily (and noticeably) deteriorating eyesight, I finally hauled myself down to the optometrist for an eye exam. I already knew that my vision had gone from bad to worse – not being able to read anything further than arm’s length away was a hint in giant blinking neon letters not even I could miss, and driving had become an exercise in only following routes I’d memorized because otherwise I couldn’t see where I was going – but I was astonished to “see” just how bad it was. That big E at the top of the pyramid? Even with my glasses on, I couldn’t see it with my left eye. I could see it, and I knew it was an E because it’s always an E, but it looked like someone had squashed a spider and projected a many-times-magnified image on the wall in front of me.

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Summer thunderstorms

Thunder and lightning by sammyj3693 (Photobucket)

After several days of triple-degree temperatures, a thunderstorm (not nearly so dramatic as the one pictured) developed right over our area this evening. We heard it approaching, then, within 10-15 minutes, it was directly overhead. It’s a vigorous storm – a rather close crack made me jump as I was typing this – but not a violent one; the rain is steady but not a deluge. Despite the sudden uptick in humidity, it’s a welcome relief from the swelter that had dominated the weather this week (this entire summer, in fact; not only did we track in Michigan’s winter, we also brought Arizona’s summer when we moved back here last year). I love summer thunderstorms in the South.

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