Monday, June 30, 2014


Amid the many things today
The many things of every day
I have to find time to write

The Mrs. will be on her way
To work so she can earn her pay
I have to find time to write

My daughter will need me to play
With her and though I will I say
I have to find time to write

How else will I find my way
To the kind of job that offers pay
Unless I find time to write?

Sunday, June 29, 2014


One of the things I sometimes do to find what I will write of a morning is to look back over what I have written. There are times, such as yesterday, when I leave a stub of a piece for myself. I am not always of a mind to pursue any individual stub, of course, to build from any one toothing stone, but I sometimes am, and it helps to have such a thing from which to work. Indeed, my upcoming presentation at the South Central Modern Language Association conference is such an outgrowth; I had a nascent idea as I was writing the dissertation, footnoting the possibility, and I have returned to it for the conference paper. Or I will return to it; I have a few other projects that require attention before I get to that one.

Sometimes, though, what I find is less fortunate. I admit that the writing I do in this webspace is largely unpolished. I do not review it closely before releasing it into the world, checking over it only lightly before clicking "Publish" and releasing my words into the digital ether of the Internet. (It occurs to me that ether is a good term; the online environment does wonders as a sedative.) That means that errors of usage occasionally escape even my eyes, and when I look back over what I have written, I am vexed to find them. When I do, I correct them, of course, but that does not mean that evidence of my mistake is not available. After all, once information is on the Internet, it is nearly always on the Internet, through being shared and through being archived. It is likely that I have escaped notice, but I may not have done so; there are many people who spend much time online, and I might have been seen and copied so as to be ridiculed by them.

That I should not worry about such things, I know. In truth, I do not worry about them in themselves; catching someone with a terminal degree in English in occasional spelling errors is embarrassing but hardly harmful. Catching other people in moments of weakness when they have exposed far more damaging things, however, is far worse, and it happens more often than it ought to have. It is in part because I do worry about such things that I share myself in text rather than image in this webspace and elsewhere. I have had the unfortunate experience of teaching a class with my fly down (entirely accidentally); I know whereof I speak. Fortunately, it happened without so many cameras available as has since become the case. Were it to happen now and to be taken out of context--which is easily done--I could be subject to disciplinary action and perhaps litigation or prosecution. None of these suggest themselves as desirable; each would be enabled by a sharing of error.

I suppose I need to take more time to look over what I write, even here.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I yesterday received a copy of the newest addition to the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game, Sword and Fan. Written by Marie Brennan and others, the book presents information about the world of Rokugan taken from the perspectives of two major in-milieu texts: the Book of Sun Tao (modeled after Sunzi's Art of War) and Otomo Madoko's The Subtlety of the Court (an extended application of the Book of Sun Tao to diplomatic settings). Discussed are strategy and tactics (and the differences between the two), the use of cavalry, in-milieu factional conflicts, refined etiquette, seasonal politics, and outsider politics; new game mechanics are presented in an appendix in the back. Overall, the volume is an excellent addition to the materials for the fourth edition of the L5RRPG.

This is not to say the volume is perfect; there are some flaws which mar the otherwise superb work. One is minor, but annoying: erratically throughout the text, italicization is misused. This is not in the sense of putting into italics what should not be; it is in the sense of individual characters within words that are otherwise italicized (and should be) appearing in plain type. It suggests a lack of attention to detail and implies that other parts of the text may not have received the kind of inspection and consideration that they ought. The implication is confirmed by how clunky some of the mechanics in the appendix are. Some of the quirks in the presented techniques make sense, given their thematic flavor and the need to be adaptable across more than twelve hundred years of in-milieu history. Others, however, seem to be heavy-handed attempts to balance power, and while power-balance in a game meant to be fun for all players is good, principles of good storytelling (with which L5R and RPGs generally are concerned) suggest that the mechanisms underlying the story be kept hidden.

There is far more good in the text than bad, however. The extended discussions of battlefield and courtly strategies and tactics are welcome. In particular, the more exacting discussions of etiquette and protocol included in the three political chapters are helpful; much of the culture of Rokugan appears in its forms of etiquette, and help in navigating those forms promotes engagement with the milieu and thus a more immersive storytelling experience. Too, the major fictional thread that unites the book is handled well. Detailing a conflict over a particular province, it exemplifies the theories discussed in the main text of the book, including that of the ultimate power of the political over the directly martial. Further, the way in which the vignettes are divided creates the impression of a long time spent in study on a read-through of the book. The events depicted span some time, and reading through the book carries the reader through that time. At the end, then, the reader has the impression of having been deeply in contemplation of the work across a significant span, fostering a sense of wisdom that appropriately echoes the study of major cultural touchstones.

Sword and Fan will doubtlessly be useful to me as I run more games and play in them. I have the notion that it will also be useful away from the gaming table, which I appreciate and may, at some point, discuss in this webspace.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Because I am in a contingent position, and because I have financial responsibilities, I remain on the job market. Admittedly, recent months have seen me only lightly on it; I have been trying to attend to other projects, those of the sort I believe will help me find continuing positions. But I have not ignored it, and I will doubtlessly return to it in force once the new term begins and job postings in the academic world begin again to proliferate.

I send out scores of applications for such jobs, somehow. Many of the application materials remain consistent from application to application. My CV changes, but as I do things and not necessarily in response to the job (my resume does change, however). My teaching and research statements are fairly constant. My transcripts are more or less done; I do not see myself going back to college at the undergraduate or graduate level, certainly not soon, although I may end up seeking continuing education to develop or enhance certain skill sets I currently perceive as lacking. (If any of you have a lead on inexpensive copies of and courses in graphic design software such as Adobe's, I would appreciate knowing.)

Letters, though, are different. I admit that I reuse materials from letter to letter, although it is not the case that my letters are all the same. They do shift from job to job, foregrounding my teaching or my research, and foregrounding different parts of that research as the job posting suggests. Community college jobs and small four-year posts focus on the teaching, to which I had an accelerated introduction and intensive experience. Other academic jobs, which are usually either medieval studies or generalist posts, receive different treatments. In the former, I highlight the beginnings of my dissertation and some of the work I have done at various conferences since. In the latter, I present the fortunate breadth of my coursework and the fact that my research is often diachronic and so suited to general studies.

So far, I have not been successful. I remain contingent faculty, although I am at what is evidently the high end of that category. I am repeatedly told by many people that I have to continue to make the attempt; my typical first reaction is on record here and here, and I do often feel as though I keep my chin up only so that it can be the more easily struck. But I do press on, even if it is because I am too stubborn to concede defeat despite not being able to envision victory. I do cling to the thin thread of hope that I will find a continuing faculty position, despite seeing friends of mine--published authors and Fulbright scholars--seek and fail to find despite their more impressive credentials, better locations, and more helpful demographics. (I do not mean to say that they would be hired only because of their demographics, or that I am not only because of mine, but I do know that an impulse to demonstrate diverse recruiting/redress evident and systematic injustice obtains.) And I am trying different tactics, since the ones I have deployed thus far have not seemed to work.

Perhaps they will work.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


I made a comment yesterday about "the idea of literary succession," the notion of writers taking over the works of other writers (with permission or other ethical justification), indicating that I might take it up again. Today does not seem like a bad day to do it.

Some clarification is needed before I go on, though. Succession implies legitimacy as determined by the originator of the intellectual property,* so those works which have passed into the public domain and are given refigurings or sequels are excluded from this discussion, as are various forms of fan fiction (although Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons argue in Warrior Lovers: Erotic Fiction, Evolution, and Female Sexuality that there is some legitimacy in fan- and slash-fiction, albeit of a different sort than that I mean by "succession"). Instead, it will focus on such things as the estate-authorized expansion of a given corpus and the assumption by a child of the continuation of that corpus; examples include the Second Foundation trilogy and the Dune volumes of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

While the former cases are legitimate in principle--a person's estate and its executors, in which that person presumably vested trust and authority, have the right to open the person's property to the use of others--they do operate under the necessity of fidelity to the demonstrated intent of the original person. While the exact intent cannot ever be known, of course (following a weak version of Wimsatt and Beardsley's intentional fallacy), it can be strongly suggested. If, for example, an author's corpus never ranges to, say, avocadoes, then it can be inferred that the author had no intention of treating avocadoes. Authorized successors who then range into avocadoes do poorly in doing so; they go against the wishes of the person who ultimately authorized them, which is rude at the very least and, in other circumstances, actionable. Such is the problem of the Second Foundation trilogy, which runs headlong into matter that Asimov appears to have abjured in his own writing.

The latter case, that of an heir assuming authority after the death of the original person, is also clearly legitimate. And it offers, at least potentially, privileged insight into the intent of the original person; it hardly strains credulity to believe that authors will speak to their children of the directions they mean to follow in their works. The thing for which they must watch is the difference in narrative voice. Each author will be distinct, of course, as each person is, and it is not to be expected that the child will be a duplicate of the parent. Trying too much to be so results in problems; what one person does as an expression of that person's being, another can only do through an effort that cannot be hidden and which mars the performance through being obvious. This is the problem with the Herbert/Anderson Dune books. Anderson is not a good writer, however many titles he may have to his credit, and he and Brian Herbert tried too hard to replicate Frank Herbert rather than adding to him. The texts suffer greatly as a result.

There is clearly more that can be said, of course. There always is. I could do more to consider the issue, although I do not think it likely that my own work will push forward as some others' has.

*I realize that my making such a statement places me ideologically on the side of traditional understandings of copyright, which provokes another discussion entirely. But I do believe that those who develop works have a right to benefit from the labor involved in doing so and that the benefit involves some control over how it is presented and displayed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


While I was writing yesterday in the Tales after Tolkien Society blog, Travels in Genre and Medievalism, a thought occurred to me that relates to what I posted but is not of the sort that I can really put into that webspace for a couple of reasons. More important is that I am not sure it will fit. Less is that I do not think it will take the kind of treatment that it needs to receive to be in that webspace. But it will work here, and the idea will nag at me until I get it out and onto something resembling the page, hence this post.

One of the traditional definitions of the Middle Ages, of the medieval, is as the time between the end of the Western Roman Empire (usually set at 476 CE) and the emergence of the Renaissance or Early Modern period (dates vary, but they seem to focus around 1500 CE for various reasons). It occurred to me as I was writing yesterday that Asimov's Foundation series, which proceeds from his reading Gibbon, focuses on the end of the Empire and the millennium between its end and the emergence of a similar order. It is, then, a quiet and subtle iteration of medievalism in a place that would not be expected to display medievalist tendencies.

I have not done the work to explicate the parallels, and I am not likely to do so anytime soon; I have many other projects requiring my attention. But it would be interesting to see who the historical (and perhaps legendary) parallels are for Hari Seldon, Salvor Hardin, Hober Mallow, the Mule, the Darells, Golan Trevize, Janov Pelorat, and the like. It would be interesting to see explicated the parallels to the incipient Galaxia seen at the end of Asimov's own work on the Foundation corpus. (As something of a purist, I reject the Second Foundation books despite their authorization by the Good Doctor's estate. I may well comment further on the idea of literary succession in another post; it seems like a good idea to pursue.) And it would be interesting to see what all comes of such analyses of works written by a Russian Jewish immigrant to New York City who was educated in the natural sciences at Columbia; the take on "the medieval" thus presented seems like it would be worth reading and would serve in part as a corrective to normalizing views of the time.

Having such ideas occur and knowing that I will not have the time to be able to pursue them is one of the great curses of my work on The Work. It is one of the reasons I would not mind stumbling into riches (instead of currently working to secure some semblance of financial stability); had I but the time to follow up on all of the thoughts I have...but that will never be the case. Even I can only endure so long, after all, and there are always new thoughts to be had.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


In some of what I write
I write to tend the garden of my mind
I write to pluck the weeds that grow within my head
I write to uproot them and cast them aside
I write to yank them from the ground

When I do
I see how deep their roots really go
Yanking on them
I feel how strongly they cling to the ground
And I find that I never get them all
Pieces of them remain
Soon to spring up again

I bend repeatedly to the task
My hands are gnarled from grabbing and pulling
They sting from the nettles
My back is sore from the work
For my legs will only let me go so low
And still exert the force to pull the weeds

Yet for all that
The weeds return
It seems I feed them instead of the flowers I seek to nurture
Through spreading around manure

Monday, June 23, 2014


A few days ago, a friend of mine commented on the stories of his library collection. Like most scholars of the academic humanities, I join him in having an extensive home library. Like his, mine is filled with stories, not only those within the books but those of how the books came to me. Some are simple enough, author to publisher to bookstore shelf to my home shelves. Others have been gifts, and so their stories are a bit more complex. One of the piece on my shelf is yet more complicated, and quite dear to me; my name is on it, not inside the cover but outside on the spine, and I hope to have others join it yet.

There are some others of the sort I have mentioned before, others whose pages have been marked by scholars who have gone before me. I have from them not only the benefits of teaching but of their own notes and notations. Were I a better reader than I am, I might be able to develop somewhat of their character and their scholarly process through examination of their marginal notes. Not all of what those of us who work in the academic humanities do reaches the pages we publish and that few others read. Most does not, actually, with pieces getting rejected and ideas explored and found lacking and others only fleetingly considered but soon forgotten because not written down or not read again once written. The marginalia only appears when the book is read; if the pages are not opened again for a while, the words they bear, inked from the press and from the pen of the purchaser, are also left entombed.

The exhumation of such words makes for interesting stories of the sort my friend discusses. The image of the book as mausoleum for the author (something that plays in part with Mark Edmundson and in part with the assertion by Barthes of the death of the author) is perhaps macabre, one that makes scholars of literature ghoulish, grave-robbers as often or more so than archaeologists (although without the fedora-and-bullwhip social cachet, more's the pity). But delving through dungeons and raiding the tombs of the long-vanished, searching for the knowledge and treasures hidden therein, makes for entertaining narrative. It is one of the primary plot-arcs of the role-playing game, from Dungeons & Dragons (which has the one in the name) through text-based video gaming through the raids of the MMORPG. A number of movies follow the idea, as well, and not only the Indiana Jones films or Tomb Raider. In a sense, the Christian resurrection narrative partakes of it, as well. Surely, then, those of us who root around among pages seeking our own treasures and looking to use them to make yet others can be forgiven for doing so. We but enact in practice what others fantasize; are we to be blamed because others do not themselves seek where we seek and find what we find?

Sunday, June 22, 2014


The porch does not often call to me
It did today
And so I sat outside
In the air
In the breeze
In the sunlight shaded by the trees
And listened to the birds sing

Their lyrics escape me
But their melodies do not
And the cats want the birds not to escape them

While the morning is yet cool
While the air is nice
And the breeze makes bearable the damp
It is good to sit outside
With a cup or two of coffee

Saturday, June 21, 2014


It is summertime
And the lyricist writes
The livin's easy
Even though I see no jumping catfish or high cotton
(And I wonder at the metaphor of cotton
If there is one)

I have seen the summers
I have felt the sun beat upon my back
Beading sweat upon it
That runs thence down the crack of my ass
And down the backs of my legs.
I have watched as the air shimmers
The rolling limestone of the Texas Hill Country
Clad in oak and cedar as another lyricist writes
Giving back what Helios has offered
I have felt the febrile air
And I have to wonder if the world perceives itself
As infected
For where I have pus, I there have fever

Are we the dead white blood cells
Or that which they seek to drive away?

Friday, June 20, 2014


One of my colleagues, Brian Brooks, has resumed blogging at This Is Why, and people ought to go read what he has to write. Leave many comments, too, as feedback is helpful. And do not be an ass to him. Please.

I promote his blog, as well as that of the Tales after Tolkien Society, because I believe in collegiality. Brooks is a friend, and the Society people are my people, and it is appropriate that I talk them up therefore. It is also the case that I promote them because I believe in the potential for development represented by the format of the blog, following Kathleen Fitzpatrick and others. I believe that we all benefit from the presentation of ideas by people and through consideration of the same, and I believe that those who push forth their ideas benefit from the reports of that consideration. It is a commonplace, I am sure, but it has also been my experience that the more serious examination of what I write by others has helped me to write better. There are things in my work that I do not see; they are in my blind spots. There are things I see in my work that are not necessarily there; they are the projections my mind makes onto what it observes to help it make sense to me. Other readers are not blinded as I am, they do not project as I do, and so they can help me to remove what needs removing and enhance what needs enhancing...if they will.

It is a process with which I have become familiar, and from both sides. In my work at the front of the classroom, I am often one who reviews the words of others to find what they need to write and what they need not to write. In my work on The Work, I am the one whose writing is assessed. It is not always assessed favorably. For example, I had a freelance piece rejected yesterday, which annoys me greatly, but I still look for the feedback on it so that I can improve from the experience. My contribution to the Society volume is in revision at the moment (if a bit lower in priority, as I have a conference paper to pump out before I can attend to it more fully), and I early on lost track of the changes I had to make to the text of my dissertation after my committee saw it. (I remain thankful for the time the committee members spent in poring over the pages I sent them.)

I write in part to improve my ability to write, to think as I need to think to make some semblance of sense of the world and to express that sense-making in a way that may help others to do the same for themselves; I write in part to practice writing. As with any such practice, however, I do not do well to do it in a vacuum; I cannot always tell where I err when I write alone, and so I hope for commentaries about the words I release into the world. I do not think that I am alone in doing so, and so I ask not only for feedback for me, but for those with whom I associate and in whose success I would take some delight.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Thanks to a friend, I ran across Danielle Kurtzleben's 4 June 2014 Vox piece "Being Overeducated in Your First Job Hurts You Later in Your Career." In the piece, Kurtzleben reports research coming from North Carolina that asserts the negative impacts of holding jobs for which the worker is "overqualified" early in the worker's working life. While they are not as pronounced in the short term as those of unemployment, they are of far longer duration; the article arrives at the conclusions that taking any available job simply to have a job is not likely in the individual worker's best interest and that the effects on those workers are likely to continue for some time, inhibiting economic growth among those who actually go to do the work. Kurtzleben also helpfully points out the areas in which the research is deficient. No single study can account for all ideas, certainly, but the acknowledgement that there is more to be said on the matter limits the claims of the article, making it a better bit of reporting than that which presumes to be the definitive word on an idea.

I was not overeducated in my first jobs. Working with my great uncle on construction sites in my early teen years was a helpful experience for me (and I think I would be making more money at this point had I continued in that regard and become an electrician, although I would not be as comfortable in the day-to-day performance of my job duties). Working as a grocery store cashier during high school and into college was, as well, and each was suited to my level of achievement and the need to confine myself to part-time work while I was conducting my studies. Similar was my later work in food-service (at which I excelled, although I entertain no fantasies about returning to it). But I would be overeducated for such jobs now, and in areas not really conducive to them. Such is the danger of pursuing graduate education in the humanities, as I and many whom I know did. Absent an academic career or the fortunate happenstance of a skilled job opening in a company with which the worker had earlier experience, employment prospects are not good--and even with them, they are not good. Kurtzleben suggests that employers might react against the overeducated; my experience, and what I have seen of the experiences of those close to me, suggests that the "might" is many times "do." It is not only in first jobs that being overeducated can damage; it is in later jobs, as well, when the lines of work that ask for such attainment play out and the need to find some work to do--because the bills must be paid--drives the search for any job, and few if any are forthcoming.

I do not (often) regret my choice to go to graduate school. I do not (often) regret taking the time to earn my doctorate. But I increasingly see reason for such regret. And I do not know that I can resist the feeling.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


One of the things I can do because I am at Sherwood Cottage alone is sleep in. I did so today, evidently because I needed the rest, and I was glad of it. But there is danger for me in doing so. Given that I do my best work in the morning, when I sleep in, I see less morning, and so I get less work done. Much less. And I am not sure why; it should not matter when I work if I am at my best when I wake up. Yet it does, somehow, almost as if I partake in some ways of the Arthurian Gawain, whose strength waxes until noon and then fades away again. (I would hope not to partake of him in other ways; he has...problems...with women. And with anger.)

That I need sleep, I acknowledge; I could hardly not. Yet I am not fond of the need for it, such that I would rather not need it just as I do not need beer but imbibe and enjoy it. I could get much more done, I think, did I not need to stop for several hours out of every twenty-four and do nothing but rest. When I rest waking, I usually do something else along with it, typically reading or some such thing (although I am behind on my reading, I admit). I take in knowledge and ideas, as I ought to do, instead of laying out with eyes closed and mind still for--what? I have noted that I rarely dream, or at least that I rarely remember dreaming. Healing, perhaps.

Yet I am enfleshed, and as such, I am subject to the weaknesses and frailties of the flesh. I have evidenced such weakness more than once, and I will not rehearse the litany of that evidence here. Among them is the need for sleep, which I know not all see as a weakness. Indeed, my wife enjoys sleeping, which confuses me but which I accept as part of her and try to respect (although I do not always do well in it). How Ms. 8 feels about it, I am unsure; it is not as if she can yet tell me, but I note that she sleeps much and deeply. The cats, when they are not expressing their opinion of my writing via expressing their bowels, sleep much and lightly; I have to think that they find it a useful way to pass time.

I suppose it is, for those who have nothing better to do. I would rather have a book or a (metaphorical) pen in my hand than my head on a pillow. (I would also rather have a pint in the other. Beer in bed is a bad idea.) There is always work for me to do, if I will do it (which I admit I will not always do). Even did I work on it all day, every day (which I do not), I would not get done all there is to get done. If I must sleep, then, let it be so that I can do more and better when I wake.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Since I have been making short posts anyway, I thought I would try to make a post via email. Evidently that is a thing that can be done that I have been missing out on doing...

Just a few minutes ago, I got back to Sherwood Cottage from the City of Thunder (muted though the Thunder was not too long ago...), where I put my wife and daughter on a train. They are heading to the Texas Hill Country to visit family and help with my wife's elderly grandmother. (The phrase "elderly grandmother" was redundant for a while. I suppose that it once was not, and now is less so than it was, say, thirty years back.) My father-in-law and his wife headed back to the Natural State on Sunday, and my folks headed up to Iowa this morning, so I am at the house alone and will be for some few days. It is not necessarily to my liking, of course; I rather like having my wife and daughter around. But I cannot say that I do not appreciate having the time to work on The Work and other things, which I cannot do when I have company over and can do only slowly while taking care of Ms. 8 as she deserves.

It will take me a bit to get back to where I ought to be in terms of the thinking that underlies my writing, even such informal writing as this. What stringing words together in some semblance of order requires is different by far from that which being hospitable and maybe even friendly requires. Writing is a largely solitary activity, even for those projects (such as the Tales after Tolkien Society blog) that work with multiple writers; each of us works alone, only coming to the others with a draft of the text in hand. Being with people, though, requires direct interaction and sustained. It offers an immediacy that cannot be had through the interchange of text, and it is valuable therefore, as well as in offering actual physical closeness and thus a range of sensation that the written word can only evoke. It is greatly to be esteemed therefore, and I do value it.

But I am also an introvert. I draw strength from quiet and expend it in being among people. My family is certainly worth the expenditure, and I do not begrudge it. Indeed, as the athlete exults in the performance despite being exhausted at its end, I take pleasure from being with those whom I love. But just as the athlete must train between performances and gain strength to be able to enact them, I need time away and apart. I have it now for a little while, and, again as the athlete, I do not want to grow stiff and cold from too much time training and not enough in the performance; I look forward to having my people with me again. Even so, I will not waste the time alone that I have.

Monday, June 16, 2014


I am happy to live in a world where the Spurs completed their drive for five and beat the Heat.

Yesterday, my first Father's Day as a father, was a good day. I got to have a fine breakfast with my father-in-law and my father and our families. I was happy to pose for pictures afterwards, and I was happy to tend to things around the house with welcome help from my dad, as I got help from my father-in-law with some other things yesterday and before. And, yes, I am happy that the Spurs won the game and the series.

I do not have much to say about things, really. I do not think I need to say much about them. I have been treated well, and I am fortunate beyond all reason to have been able to celebrate Father's Day as a father and with my father. But I have said so, and recently.

For now, I mean to enjoy the time I have. I will return to work on The Work and commentaries about it soon enough.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Although it is short, I've been sitting on this one for a few days...

Bill Strawderman's "Trouble with the Curve--Dad's Advice Bane" popped up on one of my social media feeds a few days back. The piece is a bit of a send-up of the ways in which (idealized) relationships between fathers and their children change as both fathers and children get older. It "charts" the relative wisdom of fathers and the appreciation of that wisdom by their children over time, plotting their ideal intersections and discussing the broad swaths of time during which the two are disparate as "the arc of attention," "the trough of delusion," "the rise of reason," and the "sea of sagacity." Overall, the piece comes across as a mildly amusing pseudo-application of elementary economics and motivational thinking to fatherhood, making it appropriate for the Father's Day piece Strawderman notes it as being.

The piece echoes quotations attributed to Mark Twain discussing how foolish fathers seem when we are in our teens and how much they seem to learn in the few short years between then and our presumed entries into adulthood. I am a fair bit away from that time on both sides of it; I have not been a teenager for some years, and Ms. 8 has a few years before she hits her teens. (Thank God for both!) Until this past February, however, I was not so much concerned with the matter as I now am; trying to live up to the best examples of fatherhood enforces some changes of perspective, and I have a hell of an example against which to measure myself, as I have noted. Now, as then, I am grateful for it. Now more than then, though, I hope to do half so well as my father has done for me these past thirty-one years. Ms. 8 deserves it, and I cannot help but think she does far more than her father did. (I was a little twerp. Now, I am at least a big twerp.)

I know that not all people are so fortunate as to have their fathers in their lives. I know also that not all are so fortunate as to have fathers worth having in their lives. I know that I am damned lucky to be in both positions as I write this--and, more, to have been able to be with my father on this Father's Day. I hope that it will happen again.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Last night my in-laws, my wife, Ms. 8, and I went to Pawnee, Oklahoma, where we attended the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show. It is a kind of reenactment of a spin-off of the old Buffalo Bill show, held at Pawnee Bill Ranch/Museum State Park. On display were Native American dances, trick riding, trick roping, trick shooting, and a healthy does of jingoism, as well as some fine animals that did not in all cases react well to the gunshots and fireworks of the event. Indeed, an equipment failure (one of the horse's cinch lines, I think) and a collision (one horse bolted, rider trying to calm it, and knocked another rider off of her horse entirely) marred the event, although both parties concerned were able to leave the arena under their own power. But the Mrs. enjoyed it, as did her dad and step-mother, and that was the point.

While last night was my first western show to attend, other than local rodeos once or twice when I was a kid, it was not the first "historical" performance exhibition I have seen. I may not be the kind of medievalist who longs for a return to the Middle Ages (I would likely have been a clerk, either civil or in the Church, but I very much like indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and electronic information technology), but I have appreciated living history demonstrations--in part. They are spectacle, and I do enjoy seeing such things on occasion, but as spectacle, they gloss over much and flatly elide other things, making them inaccurate representations. That does not stop them from being billed as "the way things were," more than just the day or two that the show or circus or traveling fair was in town, but always. And because the events are aimed at and, really, meant for children means that the young are embedded in faulty assertions and ideas that they will forever be shaking off from themselves or will forever be in error.

Do not mistake me: I appreciate the level of training and talent and physical strength and stamina that go into making such productions happen, and not only by the performers. I appreciate displays of skill as displays of skill, even if the aesthetics are not always those I would employ. My problem is in the presentation and situation of things (when the performers are good, which has not always been the case, and I think myself justified in being annoyed at paying for poor performances). While I know that one goes to a show to escape the tedium of daily life, so that to be reminded of it in "the way things were" (which has always been more of the mundane than of the miraculous) distracts from the point, I think more could be done to highlight that what is on display is in many cases exceptional. It would give a better view of things, prompting better understandings, and none among us does not need to understand better.

Friday, June 13, 2014


That the Spurs won last night pleases me.

My wife, Ms. 8, and I are expecting company this weekend; both of Ms. 8's grandfathers will be at Sherwood Cottage over Father's Day weekend. It is a trifecta of fatherhood, really, one that may well spur what an old professor of mine called an "unholy synergy" among us, as I am fortunate to get along well with both my father and my father-in-law, and they get on well enough with one another. It should make for an interesting time, particularly tomorrow, when the plan is to work the grill. (And comments about my lawn will be...voiced, I am sure. Rain has fallen repeatedly at Sherwood Cottage, coming just often enough to keep the yard from getting dry so that I can push a mower through it. Maybe I can get it taken care of today...maybe.)

There was a time when I would not have considered such a thing--not just the in-laws bit (although I did have times when I doubted I could get another date, let alone find a wife--and certainly not so good a wife as I have). I test as being strongly introverted, drawing strength from quiet and calm, and my feelings about "home" are on record. People coming over tends to disrupt calm, and people coming over feels in some senses like I am letting them inside me, and I am willing to engage in the excitement of my (externalized) self being penetrated only rarely, and only by a few. (I am very much aware of the overtones of the statement, thank you kindly.) I am lucky in that those who do find their way in know what to do once they are inside and manage to hit all of the right spots when they get ready to come.

Over the years of being married, I have grown more accustomed to having other people in my space--even to allowing that the space is not mine but ours. And so I have grown more comfortable with having people over, not only as guests during the day, but even overnight and for days or weeks at a time (my mother-in-law, for instance, has once or twice been up for a couple of weeks, and it helped with adjusting to the presence and demands of Ms. 8). It is still  "thing" to have people over, of course; I work hard to be hospitable, even with family, and that takes adjustments and thus attention and effort. (I do not necessarily begrudge them.) But it is not a major production anymore, not a major imposition, not an untenable disruption.

The change is a good one, I think. While I doubt I am going to open a bed and breakfast anytime soon, I did not do well to isolate myself so much as I did and to shut out others as I did--all innuendo and double entendre aside. And I can perhaps teach Ms. 8 a lesson that I did not learn until far later in life than I ought to have, which strikes me as a good thing to try to do.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


As I was contemplating the grotesque inequities of the world yesterday evening, a thought occurred to me regarding the aspersion with which those who work in the academic humanities are held. One of the criticisms leveled against us--and I write "us" for the very good reason that I work in the academic humanities, if not so well or so long as have others--is that what we write is unintelligible to the layperson. We write removed from the realities of those outside the ivory tower, speaking each only to each and judging ourselves based upon how well we make writing that nobody will read. We write to impress one another, using words nobody else would consider and stringing them together in sentences long and torturous such that nobody else can stand to look at them, and then we condemn as uneducated Philistines those who are not willing to endure the pain of going through what we write to see the truths therein.

I will not say that there is not truth in such accusations. I am minded of a piece by Ian Barnard, "The Ruse of Clarity" (CCC 61.3 [February 2010]: 434-51), in which the author asserts that clarity cannot be had in writing that wrestles to make sense of difficult concepts. The work of the academic humanities is the identification and interpretation of sign and symbol, searching therein for images of truths of human experience, and all of them are difficult concepts; it is not to be wondered at, then, that the writing that seeks to uncover them, to walk the reader through the process of arriving at them (for the writing of the academic humanities is didactic at its heart), is a challenge to read. And those of us in the field do write for others in the field to read. It is those others in the field who offer us jobs and promotions, who offer us opportunities to go to other places and see what can be seen; of course we write to impress them.

We do so just as accountant write to other accountants, engineers write to other engineers, physicians write to other physicians, and so forth. Yet we are condemned for our doing so, while other specialists, not more professionalized than we, not more credentialed or embedded in their work than we, not more called to their work on their part of The Work than we, are not. It is the case that those of us working in the academic humanities need to do a better job of making our work accessible to those outside our fields of study, as do those working in other fields. We do not do enough outreach, really; we do not do enough to justify to the others from whom we derive enough support and sustenance to be able to work on The Work instead of working directly to make our food and goods. But it is also the case that those outside the field need to consider why it is that they hold us to a different standard than others whose knowledge is ultimately not more arcane than ours, whose work may be or more immediate practical benefit but which does not work to understand the activities that make us who we are.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I cannot say I am displeased to have woken up with the Spurs ahead of the Heat.

I suppose that such comments deserve some explanation. I have noted before, and more than once, that I grew up in the area of San Antonio, Texas, and that I did my undergraduate work at the University of Texas at San Antonio. It makes sense, then, that I would have a particular affection for the San Antonio Spurs, although I am perhaps late in coming to it; I was not fond of sports as a child, largely because I kept getting beaten up by those who played them for the schools I attended and saw them praised for failure more than I and mine would be praised for success. Even now, I react...adversely to much praise of athletes--a discussion for another time entirely, I know. The important thing to note is that I am a Spurs fan as much as I am a fan of any team in any sport. (This includes the Cardinals, folks. I enjoy a good game, but I am for SA over St. Louis any day.)

Like much else pertaining to sports, my fandom (such as it is) has elements of the irrationally superstitious about it. Like many fans (again, such as I am), I have the idea at some level that my observation of the game influences it. (Yes, I know that the idea behind Schrödinger's cat applies, so that it is not quite as irrational as all that. Still...) Unlike many fans, I am convinced that my influence upon the Spurs is a baleful one. While it is not the case that my not watching a game ensures a Spurs victory, I do not recall ever watching a Spurs game (even for so loose a definition of "watching" as "following real-time updates online") that the team won--with one exception: one watched in the reflection of a mirror at a bar and grill. The former alone is simple coincidence, that the games I watched happened to be games the Spurs lost, and that correlation does not mean causation. But the reverse-watching being a winning game for the Silver and Black...that seems to me, even if irrationally and superstitiously, to be a bit more than mere coincidence.

As I think on the matter, I have to consider whence the idea comes. It in part seems to me to be a manifestation of the medieval I study; one of the commonplace understandings of the European Middle Ages (an admittedly nebulous idea) is that the people frequently worked in symbol (as opposed to text, which is itself a series of symbols, but typically not regarded as such). That is to say they looked for omens and portents in daily occurrences, reading the events of the natural and human worlds as not only themselves but representations of greater orders entirely. The world was not merely the world but a reflection of its Maker also, albeit one in a mirror not always easily seen. It is a kind of thinking to which many minds are no longer accustomed, one that opens possibilities within creation and so one of value even if, from time to time, it convinces a person that a team is best served by that person's not watching it play.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Because my father has worked for the US Department of Veterans Affairs for some time (he is an HVAC/R technician at one of the many hospitals), I have paid some attention to news reports about the scandalous lack of care given to veterans by the very system that is meant to aid and support them. I have heard the complaints about the travesties of veterans waiting months or more for appointments and the lies told to try to hide the fact. And I agree that the situation is bad. I agree that the US is disserving those who served the nation and that it is entirely unworthy of them or of the nation to act thusly.

I do *not* agree, however, that the situation is entirely the fault of the VA.

After years of cuts to funding, years of cuts to services, years of cuts to the number of beds available, years of cuts to hiring, years of cuts to programs designed to encourage improvement, it should not be wondered at that the system put in place to serve veterans falters. When there are not people to process paperwork, there will be delays in processing it, and when there is no money to hire people, there will not be people working. When there are not facilities in which to treat people, they will not be treated, and when there is no money to pay for facilities, there will not be facilities. When there is no chance for advancement, people will not remain in their jobs, and when there is no money for raises or bonuses, there is no chance for advancement. And when there is no money, it is not the fault of the VA alone, for it is not the VA that determines how much money the VA receives. While it is the fault of the Department that its employees lied and hid the state of things, and those who are responsible should be taken to task for their misdeeds, it is also the fault of those who control the flow of money to and through the VA for creating the situation--and the US House is ultimately responsible for determining that flow, since it is from the House that bills about money must come (US Const., art. I, sec. 7).

Establishing fault does not provide for a solution in any event, and that solution is the thing that needs finding. And it is not to offer veterans vouchers, except in the short term while deeper systematic issues are resolved. It is not more cost-effective in the long term to give the care of those who were wounded in uniform to private industry--the reverse is likely to be true, given prevailing health care prices--and that it would be more efficient is questionable at best, given the treatment times already experienced by hospitals and clinics. It is not to throw our collective hands in the air and rattle off some stock phrase about "the damned government" and give up on the endeavor.

It is to accept that we may have to pay a little more to do what we damned well ought to do than we would prefer, and to pay it if it needs paying.

Monday, June 9, 2014


I have not much been to church since taking up residence at Sherwood Cottage. Sundays before Ms. 8 were days I caught up on the work I had let slide during the preceding week and the sleep I had neglected to take. Sundays after have been much the same, with the latter more important because more sleep was lost to being a parent. Now that I am in between terms, not teaching, I am doing other work, and Sundays are sleep days and chore days. And the care of Ms. 8 remains a concern, as it will for some time to come. None leaves much time or effort for church-going, really, and I find that attendance is not so important to me as to induce me to make the time as I know some will say I ought to if I "think it's important."

The issue is that I do not feel called to attend church here. The ringing bells on Sunday mornings do not draw me as they have done in other places. I do not hear in them the voice of the Spirit speaking to me. Nor yet does my wonderful wife; we are not called to worship so much as nagged about it, and that not from the place within us that sent us to seek the communion and Communion with congregations elsewhere. Some have expressed surprise, others annoyance, and they are free to do so, but neither of us sees the need to sit and worship when we do not feel worshipful, or to enter into congregation with those whom we suspect overmuch of being in the pews to be seen in the pews and not because they hear the Spirit calling to them to be there. Both of us have seen too much of that sort of thing in our lives already, and we see no need to start our daughter amid such things so early in her life.

That does not mean, however, that I feel a loss of my faith as faith. That I do not feel connected to the faith communities where I am does not mean that I do not feel connected to the center of my belief. I remain convinced that my work in the classroom is part of my practice of faith, as well as my work on The Work. In reaching out to students to lead them to wisdom through coming to understand stories and the ways in which they encode deeper meanings, and in looking for and deciphering the encryptions myself, I emulate Christ (in part, at least), which emulation is supposed to be the core behavior of the Christianity in which I am embedded. I am increasingly convinced that behavior is the determining factor--conversations with a very good friend and excellent scholar of faith traditions have conduced to it--and so those actions seem to me to suffice insofar as any mortal actions truly suffice for engagement with the divine. But it is a thing I will need to consider more closely than I have yet done, both for myself and for Ms. 8; I need to determine how I will teach her and what...

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Congratulations are in order for my cousin and his wife who are now proud parents of a healthy baby boy. While I am not exactly clear about my titular relation to the kid, it is good to see that the family is expanding. May they enjoy many years of happiness and health!

Aside from that news, matters at Sherwood Cottage proceed much as they have these past few weeks. My wonderful wife works still, and I stay home with Ms. 8 most days. In the free time that taking care of her permits me, I tend to household chores, mostly in keeping the floors clean and the dishes washed. Laundry happens as it needs to happen. (I retain my feelings about the dishes and the laundry, however.) I cook the occasional meal. Things work out reasonably well, overall.

I also continue my writing. There are the posts to this webspace to make, as well as the work curating the Tales after Tolkien Society blog to do. Since I have been given my course assignments, I also have work on my teaching blog to do, and I probably ought to also work both on the teaching website I maintain and the more formal course materials for my classes (syllabi, course calendars, and the like). There is also the work to do for upcoming conferences; the next one on my schedule is the Evil Incarnate conference at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, for which I have to write the paper whose abstract is here. And there are always other projects to do...

It is a good life, overall. There is good work to do and plenty, and there are opportunities for improvement of self and circumstance. My family is healthy and growing, and I have enough to eat. And I can sit and write, even if I get distracted form it from time to time.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


We tell people
To keep their chins up
To look up and look ahead

It seems sometimes that we do so
To strike them in the face more easily

Many times
Those who hear
They are to keep their chins up
To look up and look ahead
Are those whose eyes are focused
On the next step
On making sure they see the dog shit
Sitting on the sidewalk
Where people have allowed it to remain
After their dogs crapped it out
Disregarding the needs of others

They would stop and pick it up
Despite the dogs not being their own
Because they know
If they might step in it
Another might
And it might be before that one
Comes home

Tracking shit into the house
Is not a happy thing

Yet such people
Have their heads down
As well as their eyes
Because they are bent under burdens
Struggling to carry many things
Some they need
Some that what they need needs
Some that got thrown on there
From sources they could not see
Since their eyes were watching
For dog shit

Can they be blamed?

Friday, June 6, 2014


Several things to discuss today.

First, I am glad to wake up in a world where the Spurs can take the Heat. May the trend continue!

Second, and probably most important for the world at large, today marks seventy years since the D-Day invasion of Normandy. May such works never be needed again; may those who did such things have taught a lesson that never needs repeating, and may they be honored for the teaching!

Third, and of more importance to me, my parents celebrate a third of a century of marriage today. Or they ought to; they have been married for thirty-three years, and that deserves commemoration, just as their thirtieth did and those in their future together undoubtedly will.

Fourth, the Tales after Tolkien Society is gaining some ground. Information about it is here, and since I am one of the contributors to the volumes, I am not at all displeased.

Fifth, it may have been noticed that I have been writing in this webspace later than had been my wont. I am on break from teaching at present, and so I have taken the chance to sleep a bit later than I do while I am working. And I find that it is harder for me to get out of bed than it used to be; it is comfortable, and I am less willing to divest myself of that comfort than I have been. Perhaps the fact that the air conditioner in the bedroom my wife and I share blows more or less directly onto my feet helps; I am quite cool when I sleep, and I have tended to appreciate a cool bedroom, finding it improves the quality of my sleep. (While I was in the shower, I had thought of more things to say, but between drying off and sitting down with a cup of coffee to write, I lost them. Damn.)

Sixth, the weather at Sherwood Cottage continues to be interesting. We have rain again, which is welcome. The weather had been humid for a while, but rain had not been forthcoming, so matters were relatively annoying. With the rain, some good is happening for the land where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. The creeks and rivers around have been quite low for some time; it will be good to get some water into them. And there are some people who are only now getting a shower...

The only problem with the rain so far--and may it remain the only problem with the rain!--is of the sort seen yesterday. Rain fell in the morning, and then the sun came out in full force, sending some of the water back to the heavens from which it had fallen. It did so by way of the local air, increasing the humidity quite a bit and making things...uncomfortable. I have to wonder how those who lived here before air conditioning managed to endure, especially since they seem not to have had the advantages in dealing with the heat and humidity that such people as the Cajuns and the earlier indigenous folks had. It is for such reasons, among many others, that I am not the kind of medievalist who thinks that we ought to return to a medieval way of life. Air conditioning and information technology are my friends...

Thursday, June 5, 2014


I do not often remember my dreams. When I do, however, they tend to be strange ones, and I have to wonder what it is that they say of me.

For example, last night, I dreamt that I was in a small residential neighborhood outside of the town in which I grew up. I think it was even a street I had lived on, but I was not a child. I was, however, riding a bicycle...until a feral pig came trotting through surrounding lawns. I climbed a tree to get away from it, which I think a reasonable precaution to have taken, and it passed by, grunting. Shortly thereafter, a small dog--Dachshund, I think--came from around the back of a parked car and bit the pig directly on the ass. Left half of the ass, I think.

It was at about that time I woke, nudged into consciousness by the needs of Ms. 8. (By "nudged," of course, I mean dragged by screaming.") I did not settle back into the dream when I settled back into sleep, so that much of the experience was over. I am struck, nonetheless, by the fact that I remember as much of it as I do; again, I do not often remember my dreams.

What the fact that I dreamt myself in a place I have not lived for fifteen years says of me, I do not know, nor what says my having been on a bicycle as I have not in earnest for some time, nor yet what say the feral pig or the Dachshund that bit it in the ass. But I would be interested in reading what others would write of such things. It might make for some entertaining discussion.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I got a bit of good news yesterday. The Tales after Tolkien Society, of which I seem to be a charter member, has a blog now, and I am one of the contributors to it. The blog is new, as is the Society that sponsors it, but there are already other posts on the way, and more are welcome.

Part of what that blog will do is host short-form scholarship on medievalisms that pop up in contemporary popular culture. I do some of that on this blog from time to time, or I have done so; it seems to me that the posts to this webspace I would use to do so would now be better served to go to that blog, leaving this one to carry other commentaries and the occasional bits of material actually worth reading. I have to wonder if any of it will be missed, of course, but I can hope to find broader audiences and more comments left in response to the scholarly work I do online.

The issue of audience is one of some importance to scholars. Part of how we are evaluated is in terms of our impact, which is measured in large part by how frequently we are cited by others. This means that how frequently we are read by others is integral to our being validated by the broad body of professionals in the field. (This is of course imperfect, since a scholar who is frequently cited only to be rebutted is not likely to be regarded well--unless that person is Stanley Fish, against whom much ink has been spilled and many pixels arrayed, including some of mine. And there is something of the ad populum fallacy at work, whatever the prevailing opinion about a given piece may be; that many people make use of it does not mean its quality is sound--something people might say about particular French theorists who should remain nameless since the author is dead and the construction of a stable self to have a name is untenable.) And so I hope to be widely read not only because of my vanity (although certainly in part because of my vanity).

The Society blog may well offer a venue for more reading, and not only of my work, but of others in the Society. Certainly I hope that it will be the case; I am invested in the success of the Tales after Tolkien Society, and that success cannot come about except through continued awareness of and engagement with it. I will doubtlessly mention it in this webspace from time to time, even as I expand my attentions to include its evolving activities. For there is more to come; I am told that other social media platforms will soon feel the Tales after Tolkien presence, and I cannot regard that as a bad thing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Many days, what I write in this webspace comes from things I wrote in my journal the night before. Today is not one of those days; today's post comes from what I was thinking as I was toweling off after having had my morning shower.

I had cleared the screen my wife and I use as a hair trap and thrown what was there into the commode when I thought "It [the toilet] accepts things uncritically." Then, as I hoisted my hairy right leg onto the lid of the now-closed commode, it occurred to me that not even the toilet accepts materials uncritically, although it accepts quite a bit that is not well placed elsewhere. There are things that cannot fit through the piping leading away from the bowl, as any know who have had the unfortunate experience of the toilet backing up, and there are limits even on the size of what the bowl will accept. So even a toilet has standards, and with the shit one takes, that is saying something.

If even a toilet has standards, what can we make of people who accept uncritically what those who hold power over them say? And do we not see many such people, parroting what they hear from "color commentators" on various "news" programs, from media dominated by extreme pundits on all sides? Like toilets that have accepted caustic materials, they may have swallowed what was given them to swallow, but the pipes through which that stuff flows have been weakened and will perhaps be breached because of it, damage done to the drinker. Yet a toilet will reject things, and such people do not, provided they are spewed from the "right" place. (Or the left, lest I be thought unbalanced in my heaped aspersions.) The thought that a shithole will reject crap from some asshole when a person will not is hardly comforting (although it occurs to me that it might account for some people's breath). That there are so many people about--that all of us occasionally take in filth we ought not--is far less so.

It is a crappy metaphor, I know, hardly worth enthroning. Yet it is the kind of thing that occurs to me of a Tuesday morning when I am drying myself. And it is the kind of thing that I have used to great effect in my classrooms. Toilet humor is a low common denominator; students get the joke, and they get that it is a joke, even if they do not like the joke. The image in it tends to cling to them, as well, a stench of which they cannot rid themselves however much perfume they spray in the air or however many matches they light. "Do better than a toilet" is a phrase likely to remain smeared across their minds, a stain that cannot be scrubbed away. I offer the notion to my colleagues as something that might well fertilize younger minds, hopefully resulting in brighter flowers of thought or tastier produce of work done. Or it can simply piss off.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Some observations:

George was the talented Gershwin. Or Ira was caught by genre conventions that served no good end, while George was able to get around generic rules. Which I suppose makes him the talented brother, anyway. (Interesting things come up in my musical selections.)

When work comes in, it comes in in abundance.

I mowed the yard yesterday. It rained last night. I am suddenly glad that I mowed the yard when I did.

Pelican gumbo needs to be a thing if it is not already. I can't explain why, and I think it would ruin the joke if I did.

North central Oklahoma is surprisingly humid. There are no major bodies of water nearby; I have no idea where it comes from.

I really, really do not know why showtunes are as popular as they are. I also do not know why so many swing vocalists have the kind of vibrato they do. It makes taking them seriously as singers difficult, as if they cannot actually support the notes they hit.

Darker is better for bread, for beer, and for "classical" music. (Scare quotes are used because "classical" is too broad a term; there are a number of forms within the category, which I remember from the two-year mistake of being a music major, but investigations of which were which was a third-year class.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014


I am not displeased to have woken up to a world in which the Spurs advance to the Finals again...

When I wrote in this webspace at around this time last year, I did so in part to complain of the changes to my body wrought by life away from the kindly summer sunshine of the American South and Southwest and of the lack of adequate ventilation in homes and many other places in The City. Now I live much closer to the South and the Southwest; Oklahoma is not really part of either, having not seceded from the Union and having insufficient Hispanic influence upon its traditions and histories, but it is a lot closer than New York. The sun is more like it was when I grew up, long in the sky and unstinting with its gifts, although it is far more humid here than was true for me in the Folk Festival town (and the anniversary of the event is today, as well). Here, as in The City, though, I find myself cooled by window units rather than honest central air.

I understand why Sherwood Cottage relies on the things, three window units working in tandem to make livable the living space and ease sleep in the bedrooms. The building is not young, and it has obviously been treated poorly by some of the tenants it has had. Neither circumstance prompts the kind of expenditure that would be needed to have central air installed, and although the landlord is a decent person, I know that the housing is provided as a way to make money; spending money on it is not the most desirable act for the landlord to take.

I gather also that expense factors into many of the decisions to cool by window unit. Although I contend that the long-term cost of central air is less, I know that the initial cost is far greater, requiring much in terms of mathematics to figure out how much air needs to move to effectively cool a given space, labor to set up the duct work and other machinery, and outlay in terms of materials. I also know that it is an involved construction process. (I believe I have mentioned how I know such things.) Window units can be bought at local stores easily, often for under $200, and can be put into service within an afternoon. They offer immediate relief at a lesser immediate cost, and so they are attractive.

Even so, although I am faring better now and do not threaten to burst into flame at the merest brush of sunlight as I did while in The City, I still sweat far more profusely than I prefer or that I remember, and much of that perspiration still flows from my upper lip. I still fall back on older ways to keep cool, and they still work, but they still send me to the toilet frequently. At Sherwood Cottage, though, the bathroom is not quite so cool...