Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Location: United States

Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Service announcement

My computer seems to have died for real this time. It won't power up at all. Whee. Since I'm concentrating on paying the rent and finally getting my truck insured and re-registered, I doubt I'll be doing any computer buying soon. So posts may be even more intermittent than usual 'round these parts for a while.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Things I learned during my trip

Well, I'm finally starting to really recover from the combined, malign influences of jet lag and The Flu from Hell. I think. Which means that I can finally get around to summarizing the results of my trip. So, here's what I learned:

1) In manuscripts lies my salvation. While I was looking at MSS., I was not fretting about a thousand other things. I was making progress. I had tangible (and attainable) research goals. I felt inspired and--dare I say it--kinda cool and halfway competent.

2) I have a metric crapload of manuscripts to examine for my dissertation project.

3) I need to travel to see manuscripts as much as I'm able this year.

4) I also need to apply for funding to travel to various libraries to see manuscripts this year.

5) How to Get Around in Big Ben Burg and The City of Bikes 'n' Spikes.

6) That I actually prefer Bikes 'n' Spikes Library to Big National Library because it has late opening hours and the librarians will let you look at all your MSS. at once--which makes for easy comparisons among MSS. Also because B 'n' S doesn't charge $2.00/ten minutes of email access.

7) That I need to take even more immune-system-boosting stuff the next time I travel.

8) That I need to tie things to myself in order to keep from leaving them on the trains.

I also got to know my adviser a bit better and stayed with two lovely B&B owners who run two lovely B&Bs at reasonable prices.

All in all, I think it was a leap forward. I'm actually somewhat encouraged.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Late Night Video Corner, Part Two

Finally, a truly compelling reason to buy mints!

Late Night Video Corner, Part One

A prairie dog gets his drama on (hat tip to Morgan):

A prairie dog gets his melodrama on:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Blogging and Timing

'Kay, so I gave the blogroll an overhaul. If your blog's been removed and you'd like to have it restored, just let me know: I took off blogs that had moved to undisclosed locations, blogs I hadn't read for a while, or blogs whose owners I hadn't heard from in a while. So your removal may well just be a reflection of my laziness. Feel free to email!

Next thing I need to do: revamp the "Showings" section of selected introductory posts. Any suggestions?

Another thing I'm overhauling is my time-management skills. So I bought one of these. I especially like the timer's versatility, since it can be clipped to things, used as a magnet, or placed upright on a table and since it has a vibrating and light-up alarm, as well as the traditional beep. This means I can use it to time myself without annoying everyone around me.

What's this all about? Well, I've reached a point in my career (and life) in which I have loads of things to do, but very few firm deadlines and few people to be responsible to, other than myself. I also tend to want to do tasks from start to finish, and am extremely detail-oriented. Now, that kind of thing can be extremely useful at times, but it's a real problem when you're working on a big project. It is, for example, pretty much impossible to just sit down and write a dissertation chapter from start to finish, despite what some folks might tell you.

Since I get obsessive about finishing projects and pay lots of attention to all their ins and outs, other stuff can fall by the wayside. This means that, when I dig my way out of some big task, I emerge blinking and bleary-eyed to the sight of a pile of bills, a full email inbox, and an unmade bed. Not so good. And when I'm not in Mole Mode, I just tend to multitask to the point of utter uselessness.

So, I need to get better at letting the small stuff go, consistently working on several things for short periods every day, improving my ability to focus on the task at hand, and saving time to look after myself and--yes--maybe even have some fun now and then. I think it would all help me to feel a little more in control of the process, which would be a Very Good Thing.

I bought a very helpful book by Elisabeth Wilson called Relax while I was traveling, which sensibly suggests ways to be more productive and organized as a way of reducing stress, along with the meditation and relaxation techniques you might expect. One of the techniques she recommends is Mark Foster's "rotation method" from Help Yourself Get Everything Done, and I'm going to try it. It's a little like cross-training for life beyond the gym.

Essentially, you make up a list of the most urgent tasks you need to complete and then work your way through the list as many times as you need to as many times as you can with the time you have. On the first rotation, you spend 10 minutes on per task, on the second rotation you spend 20 minutes per task, and on the third rotation you spend 30 minutes per task. This ensures that you spend at least a little bit of time on everything and don't get too bogged down to see the big picture.

I'm going to try it out for the first time on Monday--I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Any of y'all have tricks you'd like to share?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

This is one guy who actually should quit his day job

I do actually have things to blog about. I could, for example, write about the ridiculous--but extremely cute--polka-dotted rockabilly dress I bought for less than $20, because there's always room for frivolity here at Chez Wiseass. But I'll spare you. Oh, wait: I didn't spare you, after all, did I? Heh.

Anywhoo, settling back in and taking care of all the things that need doing after a month away has been pretty time-consuming. Thanks to everyone who's sent good and encouraging wishes my way. And thanks to those who responded to my last post--I'll be getting to that blogroll clean-up soon.

Meanwhile, here's something to brighten your day: car-phone salesman Paul Potts's winning performance on "Britain's Got Talent" (Hat tip to Owlfish). I just keep watching this and getting goosebumps. Honestly, this almost makes up for all the exploitative crap we see on most of these talent shows.

Watch it here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Post-Spring Blog Cleaning

It's long past time to overhaul the blog a bit. I've been meaning to get around to this for some time and, in fact, made a post about tidying up the place months ago, but a flock of crises intervened. So I'm giving it another shot, hoping that I'll actually accomplish it this time.

One thing I have to do for certain is give my blogroll a good scouring. Loads of blogs I listed over there have gone defunct or moved or changed their names. If you want to be added to the roll, stay on the roll, or want me to revise your listing, please make a comment here to let me know. (Flavia, I know I need to change yours: it's got top priority!)

Poem and Picture from the City of Bikes 'n' Spikes

A Strange Wild Song

He thought he saw an Elephant
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
"At length I realize," he said,
"The bitterness of life!"

He thought he saw a Buffalo
Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
His Sister's Husband's Niece.
"Unless you leave this house," he said,
"I'll send for the police!"

he thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek:
He looked again, and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
"The one thing I regret," he said,
"Is that it cannot speak!"

He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk
Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
A Hippopotamus.
"If this should stay to dine," he said,
"There won't be much for us!"

He thought he saw a Kangaroo
That worked a Coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it was
A Vegetable-Pill.
"Were I to swallow this," he said,
"I should be very ill!"

He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four
That stood beside his bed:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bear without a Head.
"Poor thing," he said, "poor silly thing!
It's waiting to be fed!"

--Lewis Carroll

Poem and Picture from Big Ben Burg

The Men in Bowler Hats Are Sweet

The men in bowler hats are sweet!
And dance through April showers,
So innocent! Oh, it's a treat
To watch their tiny little feet
Leap nimbly through the arduous wheat
Among the lambs and flowers.

Many and many is the time
That I have watched them play,
A broker drenched in glimmering rime,
A banker, innocent of crime,
With lots of bears and bulls, in time
To share a holiday.

The grass is lush -- the moss is plush,
The trees are hands at prayer.
The banker and the broker flush
To see a white rose in a bush,
And gasp with joy, and with a blush
They hug each bull and bear.

The men in bowler hats are sweet
Beneath their bowler hats.
It's not their fault if, in the heat
Of their transactions, I repeat
It's not their fault if vampires meet
Amd gurgle in their spats.

--Mervyn Peake

Monday, June 11, 2007


I'm back, and this is my (appropriately blurry) POV right now. Nice to be here, and I missed y'all. Hope you're doing well.

I'm not so much jet-lagged as socked-in with the radioactive Godzilla Goo that continues to occupy my sinuses. Turns out I was wise to stay put last week when things were much worse, since descending in to Big City last night had me holding my head between my knees and frantically massaging the area just above the inner terminus of my eyebrows. I don't even want to think about what it would have been like if I'd come back when I was supposed to.

Boy Roomie picked me up at the airport and we had a nice dinner before I had a joyful reunion with Mousie, made a few pathetic attempts to start in on all my post-trip chores, talked to my Mom, and passed out on the couch.

I expect to stay here for a while, catching up a bit on blog-reading, answering the odd email, and napping in between. I can't do this all day, since I have to at least clean up and unpack enough to make the apartment habitable in advance of possibly serving jury duty (joy!) for the remainder of the week.

I'll try to post some thoughts about the past few weeks and other things I've had rattling around in my head soon. Meanwhile, I can already tell, through bleary eyes, that the blogosphere hasn't gotten any nicer since I left, what with one blogger having tirades about him sent to his employer on the basis comment-war aggro and another blogger resigning her job after misogynist online harassment. Oy. Anything else I've missed?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hiatus extension


Just want to let you know that my hiatus will probably last for another week or so, since I've managed to come down with a nasty bout of flu and need to stay where I am for a while to recover and keep away from crowds of people who probably don't want to share my infestation.

See ya on the flipside.