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The 21st Century Dandy

an inventor of Aristotilean Machines

Four years and counting
Today is Erika and I's fourth anniversary. Last year we were visiting Cocoa Beach shortly after our anniversary. We came across a shop that purchased and sold beautiful South American art pieces. As a belated anniversary present to ourselves we bought this beautiful terracotta lady.

This year for our anniversary Erika bought me this:

Needless to say I am very happy.

Apropos, as the days are getting shorter
In my meager free time, I've been re-reading At Day's Close: Night in Times Pastby A. Roger Ekirch. It is an excellent cultural history of the nocturnal sphere, focusing primary from the early modern period into the 18th century. There are amazing tidbits scattered throughout, and even re-reading it I hardly go a page without being surprised.

Coincidentally, I came across this review in the Times Literary Supplement of Evening's Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe by Craig Koslovsky, a new scholarly work that tackles similar territory. The reviewer unfortunately misses the significance of Ekirch's work, but a quick use of Amazon's "Search Inside" function shows that Koslofsky does not. It looks like it might be a fitting companion to Ekirch's text.

Liz Hand's essay "For the Love of the Dark" (originally published in 2003 in The Washington Post) is required reading for me this time of year. It, like the Bradbury passage I invoked yesterday is a pretty perfect encapsulation of how I feel about this time of year. Even here in Florida it is starting to feel (slightly) cooler. If you look at some of the trees and squint you can sometimes imagine the leaves starting to change colors. It helps if you've been drinking. Liz's work reminds me that even down here, there is a reason for the season.

Happy October
...that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.

-Ray Bradbury October Country

Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.
I've just gotten around to posting photos of the tatoo, which has been finished, healed, and has had hair grow back over it (as you can see).

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This is all I have for you today
Charles Stross

Garry Trudeau

Abi Sutherland

State of the desk
The summer is more than half-over and I have somehow managed to make some progress on various fronts (with footnotes because that is my life at present):

I am perilously close to having two chapters written. I'm still very happy with where the dissertation is going, even if I've had my moments of sheer frustration.[1] It is progressing, which is I think all I can ask of myself. I've got one article out to a journal, another one lined up to go once I get a chance to go to the post office. I've got one more to rework before sending it out. The course I'm teaching this Fall is the same course I taught in the Spring so I've got minor adjustments to the syllabus to make.

I've been working on a secondary-world fantasy story for a year or so (a long with many other unfinished works of great antiquity.) I don't write a lot of secondary-world stuff[2]. Over that year it has ballooned from what I thought would about an average short story size of 4,000-5,000 words to a hefty 13,000. Which is a much harder length to get published. Still, I've finished a rough draft now and will begin the arduous process of revision. I'm pretty certain it needs to be cut down. If I can cut 2,000 words I think I'll be happier with it.

One of the biggest stresses is, of course, the impending job search. I'll be going on the market for the first time this year with the understanding that getting a job is relatively unlikely. If I somehow do miraculously have a job, I can pound out the dissertation and defend in the spring or summer. If not I've got another year of funding to go through the process once again. I've also got grants and fellowships to apply for that (if I get any of them) will hopefully beef up the job application. My desktop is currently filled with various versions of generic cover letters and writing samples and such, and all I can do is polish them until the MLA joblist goes live in September.

It is a weird, but not unwelcome, thought that in a year I could be finished with my doctorate and Erika and I could be moving (to gods-know-where). We're both pretty sick of Florida, despite its sometime advantages.[3] We both want to move somewhere with four seasons and less sprawl.

[1] I really didn't think when I set out to write about the Victorians that I would delving into dual language editions of Plato trying to determine exactly what a particular translator has rendered χώρα as. For the record, I do not know Greek.

[2] I've had a secondary-world novel pretty much outlined with some fairly extensive notes for years. It will someday get written, certainly after I revise and finish what I've got of House of the Moon and maybe even after I've finished the Faust novel.

[3] Beaches, drinking outside on a February evening and not dying of cold, manatees

"Past empty lots and early graves"
Apparently I work in a horror film:

This is my department's floor at present. I haven't been in for several weeks and they are in the middle of extensive renovations but still it was kind of eerie opening up the door and seeing that. The department office is untouched, which makes for a very strange contrast.

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It has been a horror movie kind of day all around. We're in the midst of a day long series of thunderstorms, and campus was predictably quiet.

In other news, my tattoo was finished about three weeks ago. It has healed and looks amazing. I'll get around to posting photos soon. We spent the Fourth in Warren, PA with Erika's family. It was a good trip, especially since we saw Jacque on the way home. It made both Erika and I miss places where it is not 96 degrees in July.

Semester's end
Why do students think that professors live in their offices? My students took their final on Saturday (yes, the university scheduled their finals for Saturday, the day after our last class) and I spent this past week marking exams and papers and finalizing their grades. I've emailed my students letting them know when I will be on campus so they can pick up their exams and papers. After letting them know this on Tuesday I immediately got several emails basically saying "can I come and get my paper on a day you have specifically said you will not be on campus?" I'm on campus now, so we'll see if anyone shows up.

Still, grades are in. Assessments are finished. This summer will be for writing the dissertation, prepping for the job market, and maybe finishing some short stories that have been hanging around my neck like an Albatross that proclaims "I used to write."

Fall in April

It's a little shiny from ointment and as I said before it is not entirely finished. Casper is going to add more lights are darks and add more shading and detail at the next session. Last night was basically several hours of pumping in color.

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Honestly, I love the tattoo. It has been amazing watching it evolve from a drawing he did on my arm, to the outlines and background to what I have now. I'll post updated photos after my next session in a few weeks.