Friday, June 30, 2006

Still unpacking ... and it's the World Cup! and Blogger Meetup!

Still unpacking ... and it's the World Cup! and Blogger Meetup!

Well, I'd say the apartment is about 3/4 organized at this point. Usual running around to pick up bits and pieces -- had to jury-rig a way of hanging a rack on the back of the kitchen/laundry room door, because I think the owners might take it amiss if I were to use the screws that came with the rack. The one complaint I have about the place is a lack of storage space. I may have to get rid of some stuff. But really, it's just silly use of space -- I'm not all that short, and I have to use a stool to get into the second shelf of the upper kitchen cabinets, and the lower cabinets have those stupid half-shelves.

Oh well. I can now watch TV and DVDs, my good computer is hooked up (after going out and buying a serious surge protector that also connects the cable co-ax) and I can again listen to stuff via the Lyra, and my new Skype number rings over the stereo speakers so I can hear it...

And best of all, I had a blogger meet-up today! What Now was in town on business, and so we went out for a drink and snacks. Like all my other blogger meet-ups so far, it was really nice. WN was nothing like I expected in person -- far more bubbly and less ... serious? professional? Not in a bad way. Just that I always thought of her as looking as no-nonsense as she sounds/writes. She's still pretty no-nonsense, but much more outgoing and sparkly. The cats even deigned to (with a little encouragement) come out and say hi! Proof that i have great taste in blogfriends. We went down to the old town and walked through about a third of the pedestrian mall, where we found a decent little place (no outside seating, unfortunately, at least not if we wanted to sit within 30 minutes!). There was another place that looked pretty nice, but was very spendy. I was totally surprised at the prices where we ended up -- I guess it was happy hour -- my beers (2, thanks for asking) were only $2.50 each for draft microbrews!

Tomorrow and Sunday are the final push to get the place in shape (except, maybe lining the kitchen cupboards). But first ... Engerland, Engerland, Engerland ...! Yes, I did get exorbitantly-priced cable for a reason, and that reason is the World Cup. And on Monday? Back to work. I've got books and journals to read and courses to plan. Academic blogging to resume Real Soon Now.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Carnival Calls

Carnival Calls

Hey, did you know that Carnivalesque Button is still going strong?? I've just been a mess about posting anything useful of late. But the latest Early Modern edition, Carnivalesque 16, is up here at Virtual Stoa!

Still looking for a host for the July version -- Ancient and Medieval. Interested in Hosting? It's fun and not all that difficult.

Carnivalesque is certainly not just for historians (or for academic scholars). We welcome perspectives from related disciplines, especially literary studies, archaeology, art history, philosophy - in fact, from anyone who enjoys writing about anything to do with the not-so-recent past. You can nominate your own writing and/or that of other bloggers, but please try not to nominate more than one or two posts by any author, and limit nominations to fairly recent posts, preferably since the last edition (on the relevant period) and certainly within the last three months.

To submit nominations you can either send an email to the upcoming host (once a name has been announced), to the carnivalesque e-mail address: carnivalesque At-sign
earlymodernweb DOT org ANOTHER DOT uk or you can use the handy submission form at Blog Carnival.

Potential hosts should be regular bloggers with some knowledge of
and interest in pre-modern history (though, again, not necessarily academics). If you are interested in hosting an edition of Carnivalesque, please send an email noting whether you are particularly interested in early modern or ancient/medieval, and telling us a little about your background and historical interests.

Update: Meg at xoom has graciously agreed to host the July Ancient/Medieval Carnivalesque on or about 25 July. You can forward submissions to the above addresses, or to meg AT rageaway DOT com.

The next History Carnival will be at Chapati Mystery on July 1. Email Sepoy at sepoyATchapatimysteryDOTcom with submittals. Or you can use this handy form.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Settling in, part three

Settling in, part three

Since my last post... my stuff finally showed up. On Sunday. The moving company had told me to book people to unload for 10, since the truck was supposed to show up between 8 and 12. Ha. Movers showed up at 10 -- problem. I had specifically asked for burly people. Apparently, the temp agency doesn't care, because I got a fairly overweight and out of shape woman and a wiry but tiny middle-aged guy. They were really nice and worked really hard. And let me tell you, if I'd realized how little they were being paid, I'd have hired someone else. Also, they helped to explain where the African-Americans are in this town, because I just haven't seen all that many, nor even many Latinos, who are the fastest growing minority. As it was, I had to pay them for 4 hours before the truck showed up. And then it took 5 hours to unload, because there were intermittent thunder showers with amazingly hard rain. I'd forgotten about that. It rains with a vengeance in this part of the country. But still, no earthquakes, no direct hurricane hits, no tornadoes (I think).

Moving was aided by a nice neighbor who helped with the heavy furniture (and then said I could pay him back by visiting his church. I told him nicely that, when I went to church, I went to church X, but thanked him. Then, one of the members of the local England contingent showed up -- I've got English workers in the buildings on either side of my building -- some kind of skilled labourers. He was, um ... rhymes with "kissed as a heart" since England had won that morning (I was able to see the game up to the goal, because by 11 I knew the truck would be late). But he staggered over and helped bring up the last of the stuff and then helped to put the couch together. We ended up having a glass of wine at his place and watching Deadwood and playing fussball. I owe him a meal, though. We'd never have got done when we did without him, and he saved me at least an hour of OT for the help.

Cats seem to be ok. I think the Girl has peed a could of places, but I'll get a black light and run over the carpets and treat them. Can't smell anything, except where a previous animal clearly left its scent. The boy is still sleeping under the covers on my bed every day ...

Kitchen is mostly unpacked. One more box of foodstuffs and some odds and ends. But I had a cup of tea this morning! I'm now sitting at my desk, but using my laptop. I want the office in total order before I open up my computer. Living room is useable -- couch is clear, rug on the floor (does anyone know what one uses under a flat-weave oriental rug to keep the color from rubbing off on the beige carpet?), TV and DVD player set up -- not the speakers, though, so no DVD's for another day. Boxes still everywhere. ButI lucked out. There is no recycling in this town, and I have no storage -- the one problem with this apartment. But the manager needs boxes so I can take them all to her and not just put them in the dumpster.

Today, I bought a car. Not the Civic. On my way to pick up the Civic, I got a call from the Hyundai people. 2003 Elantra GT with high, but acceptable, miles for $2500 less. I don't think it's as good a car, and of course it made a funny noise today when making a tight turn, but seems fine. And it's got a three month warranty, plus I bought a two-year, bumber-to-bumper warranty (I don't on new cars, but on a used one?). I almost think they gave me the deal on the Hyundai so I wouldn't take the Honda. The two lots are owned by the same dealer. The Honda guys made a big stink, but I could believe they found someone willing to pay a lot more for it, so did a deal with the other lot. Either way, the Civic was overpriced and the Elantra underpriced. And my payments will be really affordable, so I'm happy.

I totally forgot about going to my orientation yesterday, but the HR person called me and let me come late. So I'm in the payroll system, the Credit Union, which I joined last week, set up my direct deposit, I'm set up to start my health insurance two weeks after my start date, and just have to do my retirement stuff. Plus, the nice HR person said I could ask for a Mac laptop -- I might not get it, but I can ask! And I have my parking permit. And got a couple of hints about campus life. Apparently most of the faculty eat at the same time, and usually in the cafeteria. Guess I know what I'll be doing!

Now, I think I should maybe eat something?

Because, well, I can. I have food and dishes!

I think I will be pretty much settled in by Thursday night, so I can have a blogger meet-up on Friday!!!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Settling in, part two

Settling in, part two

Well, I've been here since Monday. My stuff is not here yet. The cats and I are not adjusting well to the lack of furniture. OOOH!! I just heard from the truck driver -- this was going to be a post about how much they sucked, but apparently the incompetent woman was replaced, and the new guy will have my stuff here today. He'll be late, and I will end up paying the Labor Ready people a bit more, but I will have my stuff. And I will be able to watch an hour of the England game!

Oh -- And I think I've bought (providing the financing works) a used Civic. Lots of miles, but not for its age.

More later -- England are playing, and the local chain restaurant opened early for the neighbors!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Settling in, part one

Settling in, part one

Ok ... so here's what's been happening

First, do not trust United when they say that someone will bring you the little tags from the pet carriers -- tags United puts on the carriers themselves, with information about what flight the owner is on, and what seat number -- they will not do this. You will have to hit the service button and threaten hysteria to get the flight attendant to check right as they are closing the plane doors. Fortunately, the flight attendants all seemed fine with the bitchiness. Oh -- and if you want to take a red-eye? The airbus 300 is not a plane designed for this. I can usually sleep in any plane (as my most recent travelling companion and reader of this LJ can affirm). I have never been so uncomfortable on a plane in my life. But the people were all nice and the children all fairly quiet.

Next, the apartment. It's very nice. People who choose to visit me will have a decent place to stay. But. Because I have to complain about something ... When I spoke to the realtor, I did say that I would prefer to live closer to the part of town called Old Town. What clearly didn't occur to me is that, to most USAmericans, I am close. One can drive to OT in less than 10 minutes. But what I meant was that I wanted to be able to walk there with ease. That isn't going to happen. Instead, I am about equidistant to OT, the Uni, and most of the shopping. The apartment itself is very nice. High ceilings, central heat and air, nice-sized rooms, and new construction. But it's an apatment complex, with all the charm that entails. And frankly, I'd forgotten how much I don't like living in apartment complexes. Still, it's very nice. It's just ... well ... OT is, for the US, actually old. There are tons of really lovely and charming brick and stone buildings that are between 150-200 years old --some even older. There's a pedestrian precinct with not bad looking pubs and coffee shops. There are even nice little wooden victorian houses and brick terraced houses ... And I hate having to drive there. As far as I can tell, this is definitely not bicycle-safe country.

Yesterday was a wash. Very tired and jet lagged, and I wanted to spend some time with the kitties. But... I went to grab dinner at a place I knew had TVs in the bar, thinking to watch replays of the football. It's a chain restaurant, but not the one known for its flair. Cheap Coronas in the bar, but sadly, I'd forgotten I was on the right coast time zone, and had just missed the footie. I'd noticed the England flag on a couple of cars as I drove in, and I had just ordered my beer when I noticed that I had been noticed. Three English builders trying to chat me up at the same time. Very pleasant, none my type. Turns out they live in the buildings on either side of me. Joy. But still, neighbors. Sadly, the chain restaurant is the best they can do for a local. Not me. I will be seeking out a better pub. I also found a much better place to watch the football -- another chain, but one I'd never seen before. This one is a bona fide sports bar, so I was able to watch the Netherlands play the Dirty Cheating Bastards this afternoon.

I spent part of today looking for a car. I need to go and test drive a Hyundai I saw -- a couple of years old, and only about 23000 miles. Also under $10k. But neither a standard transmission nor anti-locking brakes, which I really want. I also test drove a new Scion xA. the one I drove was an automatic, but they have one standard transmission coming in later this week. It's about $14k, but I really liked it. Unfortunately, their financing is terrible -- I can't get anything lower than 6.25%, so I'll have to see about getting a loan from a bank if I want that one. that, and I really hate the idea of buying a new car. I don't think anyone in my family has ever done that. It's against the rules ... Oh well, off to a couple more car places this evening.
Car update: I may take my father's advice and try to get a beater for a couple of grand to last me a few months till I can estimate finances better. I hate to waste money, but it sounds like a decent idea not to get locked into a loan I really might not be able to afford, and I can always trade the car in ...

In other news, no one told me I had to make arrangements with the post office for a mailbox key, so I will have mail sitting and waiting for me in a day or two. I have unfortunately ascertained that I really should have had a pedicure before leaving old city. As it happens, there are no cheap Vietnamese nail shops here, and pedicures are half again as pricey as I am used to spending (by used to, read "about twice a year"). Coffee and grocery stores are OK -- although the drip I had this morning seemed to have been flavoured. At least the evil *$ doesn't have a shop here, as far as I can tell.

Finally, because I know that the kitties are the most important part of this ... They are fine. The boy is throwing his cat litter around like a crazy man. The girl has taken to the tops of the kitchen cupboards, by way of the counter-tops and refrigerator. Pictures to follow as soon as I have the other computer and peripherals set up. They aren't eating as they should, but the vet said they needed to lose weight, anyway. i think they will be happy when my bed is here. The boy kept waking me up crawling into my sleeping bag last night. The girl slept on the floor nearby. I am going to disturb them shortly by using the new vacuum cleaner .... But they seem to be adjusting much better than I expected. No sulking after yesterday afternoon, at least.

That's about it for now. I'll be trying to catch up over the next few days. I missed you all!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The kitty has landed

The Kitty Has Landed

We are in New City. We are all fine. Blogging to resume shortly.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Actual Panic Setting in

Actual Panic Setting In

Ok ... so I have finally found a second cat carrier that meets United's odd carrier restrictions -- apparently the carriers have to be secured by bolts rather than clips ... I may go and get metal bolts ...

I have checked the forecast. Apparently, the cut-off is outside temp of 87/29. I am flying from a cool (around 55 F forecast) place -- at 11:30 at night a place that is supposed to hit a high of 90F the day I arrive, but the low is supposed to be 70, and I get there at 7 a.m.

Please note that I am concerned about the cats. The reason I am trying to fly with the cats is that I love them very much, and after talking to the vet, I thought we would all be safer and less stressed out with the shorter trip, no time in scary hotels in a strange car, etc. But I am also scared to death that something will go wrong, and my stuff will be arriving at destination city on the day I'm to get there (that's the first day of the 5-day window) and I'll have to fly out there to meet the truck and find someone here to take care of the cats so I can spend a thousand dollars I really don't have to fly back and drive the cats home when we should all be settling into New City.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Moving Advice for the junior faculty

Moving advice for junior faculty

A whole bunch of us academic bloggers are involved in thousand mile-plus moves this summer. Most of us are moving with pets. I, for example, am checking my cats as very expensive luggage, and hoping that the information United Airlines gave me on appropriate cat carriers is correct. This means about 9-12 hours in the kitty torture chambers for the very talkative cats. And if they go in the cargo hold, you aren't allowed to give them tranquilizers ... except maybe the natural ones? It seemed that it would be less stressful for them than having to be in the carriers in a car for multiple days ...

Any advice for all of us moving newbies?

Update: I did actually consult with the vet before buying the air ticket ...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Still here, mostly

Still here, mostly

Really. Sensible blogging will begin again. I've got all kinds of posts in my mind, from another "How to do College" post to the further adventures of ADM as she moves thousands of miles into a different latitude (with more sunlight during the winter, I hope), adjusts to a new life in a place where she knows almost no one, madly scrambles to get two new preps together for Fall, Three new preps for Spring, and somehow turns out two more book reviews, scrapes the back of her tiny brain for a conference paper (or two, because finally the most coolest evah Late Antiquity conference has a theme that I might be able to write to -- suggestions are welcome via e-mail... please!), and tries to generally astound and amaze the good folks at SLAC with what a good hire I am.

But first ... Final grades in last night. Office almost entirely cleaned out. One more trip on Monday to take care of keys, paperwork, purging computer files, etc. Wedding reception for good friends tomorrow. Packing up my house (the vast majority of the packing is not done) for the truck that arrives on Thursday ...finishing up with last visits, final details and as many World Cup matches as possible after my stuff heads off without me. I am kinda swamped. In the meantime, feel free to offer suggestions for posts, questions for me to answer, and talk amongst yourselves.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Union? or Guild?

Union? or Guild?

You know, I'm pretty pro-union. Raised in a union family. Boycotted lettuce and grapes. Joined every union I was asked to join. I've been a member of the NEA and the AFT. But I was thinking today about the teaching-to-the test mentality, which I think makes it far easier to hire less-qualified K-12 faculty. And I was also thinking about the commodification of education, which most of the college faculty bloggers have mentioned at one time or another. I think the 'prove you deserve funding by raising test scores' syndrome is part of the commodification, if not as clearly. And then I thought, The NEA and the AFT are Labor Unions.

I am not labor, except in the strictest sense. I am a professional. I feel bound to do my best because I want the respect of my colleagues and because I have a very real and realistic worry that not doing my best will result in my not being promoted or even in my not keeping my position. Coincidentally (becaue we all know I'm all about the peer validation), I can't do a crap job because I feel guilty and it drives me into a downward spiral of self-loathing.

That's me and most of my colleagues at 4-year institutions, most of whom are not unionized. It's also a lot (but proportionately fewer) of my CC colleagues, all of whom are unionized/represented in collective bargaining agreements (not all in the whole country -- I'm talking about the ones I know). From what I can tell about K-12 faculty (and I tend to see this through the eyes of K-12 faculty friends, who are like-minded, so take it with a grain of salt), that attitude is rare after a faculty member is firmly entrenched -- with tenure based on seniority, etc.

So I'm asking -- how much has the transition of faculty from professionals to labor helped to create this system of commodification. If faculty are going to act like their jobs should have contracts similar to those of auto workers or longshoremen, is it any surprise that our fellow citizens should see us that way?

What if we scrapped the labor union model and instituted a guild model with all of the training, peer review, and accountability of the ideal guilds we teach about, as well as having the rights to collective bargaining and strike?

Just asking.