The joy of spam

Great lines from spam comments:

  • I’ve learned to use a teabag.
  • I have tried it, and brownies.
  • I say to you, I definitely get irked.
  • Inspiring quest there. What happened after?
  • I was told I had problems sleeping.
  • Be sure to eat something before you leave.

And my responses:

  1. Congratulations!  Much less messy than loose tea, and easier in the office.
  2. I expect brownies are better; stick with them.  (Wait, did you mean for housekeeping, or the cookie bar?  I think my response probably applies to either, actually.)
  3. Oh, me too, me too.   I try not to say it too often, though.
  4. They lived happily ever after, of course.
  5. I think you’d know about it before anyone else.
  6. Good advice; keep your blood sugar from crashing if there’s a long line to be seated.


Et toujours McPhee

“Where to end a piece?  As noted above, I usually know from the outset what the last line will be. . . .  Ending pieces is difficult, and usable endings are difficult to come by.  It’s nice when they just appear in appropriate places and times. . . . William Shawn once told me that my pieces were a little strange because they seemed to have three or four endings.  That surely is a result of preoccupation with structure.  In any case, it may have led to an experience I have sometimes had in the struggle for satisfaction at the end.  Look back upstream.  If you have come to your planned ending and it doesn’t seem to be working, run your eye up the page and the page before that.  You may see that your best ending is somewhere in there, that you were finished before you thought you were.”

The New Yorker, January 14, 2013, p. 55.

Sir John on friendship

(Maybe this will let Sisyphus procrastinate for another minute.)

People aren’t obligated to deal with you.  They have to decide whether the friendship is a net gain.  If there’s something you do that bothers them, they can ask you to change it.  But if it’s really ingrained, part of your character, and you can’t change, then they need to think about whether it outweighs the good things about you.  Maybe it’s really a minor thing, compared to what they get; but if there are more negatives than positives, then they need to let go.


Glendower went to the vet this morning for his annual check-up and shots.

When she picked him up, the vet exclaimed at how soft and plush his fur is: “You feel like a rabbit!” she said.

“Well, that explains the chewing,” I said.

Hunting the snark

Via nicoleandmaggie, I got here, and read this:

“You didn’t get ideas.  You smelled them out, tracked them down, wrestled them into submission; you pursued them with forks and hope, and if you were lucky enough to catch one you impaled it, with the forks, before the sneaky little devil could get away.”  From Naked Once More, by Elizabeth Peters.

I’ve read quite a lot by Elizabeth Peters (and her alter ego, Barbara Michaels), but not the Jacqueline Kirby series.  Clearly I must address this deficit.  The boojum sounds related to my octopoi.



$@%%@^^!! CAT!! thinks he’s a puppy

When we got Glendower, he looked like a very attractive cat, but we soon discovered that he was really a puppy.  Or a cat suffering from demonic canine possession.  Or maybe he was really a rodent.  He chewed on things, especially cords.  It’s a wonder he didn’t electrocute himself.  We cleared all the electrical cords and connectors out of my study so we could confine him safely when we couldn’t watch him.  For months, I charged my laptop downstairs overnight and worked on battery power only when I was in my study.  I couldn’t leave any books or papers on my desk, either, because he would knock them on the floor or chew on them.

I tried wrapping cords in aluminum foil, as a friend suggested.  That just made them even more attractive.

Eventually he seemed to outgrow puppydom and turn back into the cat he appears to be.  I stopped worrying about him chewing on things.  I moved back into my study.  I acquired my 27-inch monitor and set it up.  Life was good.

So I came into my study this morning, fired up the equipment, and my laptop couldn’t find the external monitor.  The monitor kept going to sleep.  I fiddled with connections and the control panel and so on.  Finally I noticed that that damnable swyvyng animal had chewed almost through the connector cable.  The good news is that it was only the cable, no damage to the actual converter dingus, and even better is that the cable for my MP3 player can substitute in for it, so I don’t even have to go out before I can get back to the IPM.

Basement Cat was like this as a kitten as well—more with papers than with cords, though.  And he is now a very sweet and mostly well-behaved cat.  So given time, I expect we can hope that Glendower will also settle down.

But as I said last spring, if I had wanted a puppy I would have adopted a goddamned puppy.

Oh.  This is my 600th post.  How appropriate that it’s a big grumble about cats and electronics, with an undertone about manuscripts.


If you’ve been following along on the writing group posts, you know I have an Inquisition Post Mortem (IPM) to transcribe.

IPMs appear in the records when someone in the medieval/early modern period died intestate (that is, if you’re lucky they appear; sometimes you’re SOL).

I knew this thing was large.  And the lines are very long. Sir John wanted to see my new monitor, and I showed him how beautifully the IPM displays on it, and he was impressed with the clarity, but said something like “Holy Toledo!” about the size of it.  Anyway, I waded in and got on with transcribing.

Well, at a certain point it becomes a bit trying to count lines from the top of the page, so today I opened up the JPEG in Paint and put in line numbers.

Seventy-eight (78) lines.  Each line takes about 3 lines, sometimes more, of 12-point Times New Roman.  I don’t think I really wanted to know this.

The line numbering might have been a suitable task for an undergrad research assistant, if I had one, which I don’t.  Shoot, a patient 10-year-old could probably have done it just fine.  Having the numbers (4 sets of them, at beginning and end of each line, and two more sets in the middle, because, as I said, the lines are   l   o   n   g  ) will certainly help me keep my place as I transcribe.  Or even just read and take notes, but one reason I’m transcribing is that I keep losing my place, so the line numbers will actually be even more necessary if I do try to just read/note.

Anyway.  I’m a bit overwhelmed at the size of this thing, though it does look useful for the sorts of family relationships I’m trying to sort out, so it will probably be useful in the long run.  The hand is very legible and the Latin is no more than normally abbreviated.  It’s not that bad.  I’ve read worse.

No one has ever even printed this, let alone translated it; no shortcut is available to me.

I would really like to hurry up and finish the MMP (or, rather, the MMP-1 and MMP-2) and publish them and get on to the next thing and get to be a full professor before I retire.  How many of my colleagues have to get to transcribe or at least read 78 x 3 lines of early modern law-Latin in an Anglicana hand before they can get on with writing their articles?

How many of my colleagues even understand the question I just posed?

Actually, to be fair, probably 4-5 of them, and we have another person who works with non-Western alphabets and manuscript sources, so he’d get it, as well.  OK, I’m just whining.  It’s February, after all, and it’s in the 30s and raining, which is about the worst of all possible worlds, weather-wise.

Random bullets of fretfulness

  • I have a cold.
  • I have papers to grade.
  • There is snow on the ground.
  • My throat is all scratchy.
  • I have to stop putting off copy-editing something.
  • I have spreadsheets to create for a service thing.
  • Although tidy a few weeks ago, my study is a mess again.
  • My eyes hurt.
  • Basement Cat just jumped off my lap.  For at least an hour, he was my antidote to fretfulness.
  • Now I have to go fix dinner even though I don’t really feel like eating, because
  • I have a cold.