last of the summer blog posts: gone cavorting, back in september

I stepped out of the last meeting of my summer session class into bright sunshine this afternoon and realized I was starting my second "summer holiday": no classes until the first week of September! I'll be working full-time, and preparing some paperwork for my fall projects, particularly thesis research, but with what time remains, I plan to enjoy a little rest and relaxation before the autumn schedule begins. With that in mind, I'm going to take a vacation from blogging. I plan to be back in the beginning of September.

In the meantime, if you're looking for something to keep yourself occupied, check out the daily twitter feed of John Quincy Adams, who, via the fingers of MHS assistant reference librarian Jeremy Dibbell, will be "tweeting" his journal entries from a trip to Russia made exactly two hundred years ago, in 1809. (You don't have to have a twitter account to read the posts).

Otherwise, turn off your computer and go out and enjoy the summer. See you back here in September!

*image via married to the sea.


Quick Hit: MHS wins for "best pencils"

The blog AuntieQuarian offers a list of the 2008-2009 Research Library Awards (The Rellas), and among them is the Massachusetts Historical Society:

Best Pencils
Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston, Mass.)
Never underestimate the importance of a sharp pencil at a research library. I’m not sure who is in charge of pencil provisioning at the MHS, but whoever it is deserves a raise. Always sharpened, with fresh erasers, these pencils are also all miraculously the same length. With long and complicated call slips to fill out for each request, the excellence of these pencils becomes even more delightful.

Thanks to friend and MHS colleague Jeremy for the link, and also for being the mastermind behind our pencil-sharpening program!


And a Happy (belated) Birthday to Dad!

I totally spaced this week and forgot my dad celebrated his 58th on Friday. He's home alone right now while Mom is traveling and us youngsters are scattered to the four winds -- hope he found some time to celebrate doing one or another of his favorite outdoor activities such as bicycling or taking the new puppy out hiking at the late. Not forgetting, of course, the importance of German chocolate cake!

Many happy returns of the day.

*the photo is from a very rainy bike ride around Loch Katrine in Scotland -- an outing I got cajoled into during Dad's visit in May/June 2004.


Happy Birthday Rachel!

I am always amused, Rachel, that your birthday happens to fall on Bastille Day. Hope you get that nap you were looking forward to and have fun playing with your new Kindle (despite the fact I am professionally obligated to be suspicious).

Thanks for all the years of friendship, good cooking, and a healthy dose of feminist outrage!

links list: i am lazy edition

I haven't had the oomph for actual narrative posts lately, so here's a links list of some of the online reading that's been keeping me educated and entertained the last couple of weeks. Hope you're all having a lovely July.

The living statue street theatre performance one & other is underway on Trafalgar Square's empty fourth plinth in London. I'm already mildly addicted and it's only week two! Watch here for regular updates from now until 14 October.

Elsewhere in England, the human shrub is planting unauthorized flowers in public spaces.

Writing for the Telegraph online, Josa Young argues for more, and better, sex in fiction:

I read quite a few "hen lit" and "chick lit" novels to see what they were like. I was quite astonished to see how old-fashioned some were, with women taking quite traditional roles and doing polite and rather unrealistic jobs. There were sex scenes all right, but they seemed dropped in from a great height, and quite pornographic while lacking authenticity and passion.

If writers take Young's challenge seriously, they might provide useful material for all the youths the National Health Service is encouraging to orgasm regularly for better health.

Columnist Christopher Byrne on the philosophy of "free-range kids" and what sort of adults their parents hope they are growing into.

Last week, Dahlia Lithwick had some predictions for Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings:

For those brave souls choosing to watch this spectacle on live television all week, it's useful to point out that most of her interlocutors will not be addressing themselves to Judge Sotomayor at all, although they will frequently use her name. Instead, they will be talking aloud to their constituents back home, with Judge Sotomayor serving as a sort of constitutional blackboard on which to sketch out their legal views: Senators will talk at length about their pet projects and concerns, then turn to ask Judge Sotomayor what she thinks of their pet projects and concerns. She will say she is for them.

As a teenager in West Michigan during the 1990s, I was a little too close to the original Promise Keepers Christian men's movement for comfort (thanks guys for helping precipitate my commitment to feminist politics!) Bill Berkowitz @ AlterNet reports on the movement's recent makeover and possible resurgence. Whoopie.

In other sad Michigan news, Governor Jennifer Granholm has signed an order closing the Michigan Department of History, Arts & Libraries as part of an effort to balance the state budget.

On the upside, I'm glad to be reporting some positive lgbt rights news from my home state: Kalamazoo, Michigan's city commission voted June 29th to expand legal protections for their nonstraight and transgendered citizens.

Threadless, the online t-shirt design group, offers a gallery of edible art: cakes inspired by threadless tees.

gwen @ Sociological Images explains what's wrong with a chart supposedly showing a correlation between certain books and peoples' intelligence.

Another false causation scenario is being floated by a Polish mother who claims her daughter got pregnant from stray sperm while swimming in a public pool.

Perhaps this mother could have benefited from some of these strange sex ed tools from around the world.

And on a personal note, by brother Brian and his girlfriend Renee, both artists in the Portland, Oregon, area, had their portraits drawn by an awesome emerging artist named Elva last weekend at the Portland art fair.

via my sister Maggie on twitter, fifteen creepy vintage ads, featuring such gems as a 'pears soap disaster' and one with the mystifying tagline, 'is it always illegal to kill a woman?'

*Photograph taken near Government Center, Boston, Mass. by me. Altered using the amusing "supernova" filter in Gimp, the open source photo-editing software.


Quick Hit: Guest Post @ the Beehive

The Beehive is the Massachusetts Historical Society blog, edited by my friend and colleague Jeremy Dibbell. This week, he asked me to write an entry reporting on a talk given by one of our researchers, Amber Moulton-Wiseman, who is writing her Ph.D. dissertation on interracial marriage in Massachusetts. You can check it out over at the MHS website.


Introducing Lionel

Hanna's mother, Linda, is a fiber artist currently working toward her Master Spinner certification. She recently sent Hanna photos of a completed project: this knitted hedgehog that positively exudes personality.

Hanna has decided his name is Lionel, and that he has a healthy appetite for custard tarts.

I think all he needs is a little leather airman's helmet and goggles apropos this addictive game of fling-the-hedgehog. Welcome Lionel!


Midweek Fourth Plinth Post

Hanna and I have been slightly mesmerized by a performance art project going on in London's Trafalgar Square, 6 July - 14 October, atop the Fourth Plinth. 2400 UK citizens have been selected randomly from a pool of 22120 applicants to spend one hour each, twenty-four hours a day, for one hundred days as living art on the empty plinth in the square outside the National Gallery. This morning when we logged on, for example, a young woman just starting her hour (early afternoon in the UK) was tossing 1,000 paper airplanes into the crowd. Yesterday at about the same time, a woman was enjoying tea under a red umbrella in the company of a small garden gnome. Up next, as I'm typing this, is a small purple puppet named Cheeky.

The project, titled "One & Other," is the brainchild of artist Antony Gormley.

The official website of the project is live streaming video footage of the plinth twenty-four/seven and a flickr pool has been created to gather the still photographs people take and upload to the web.

Go and be captivated. Hope you all have a good midweek.


Quick Hit: 'Time poverty'

Following a luxurious three-day weekend away from work and school, it seems appropriate to post this link from AlterNet, "Slow Down: How Our Fast-Paced World Is Making Us Sick," in which Linda Buzzell argues that 'time poverty' is endemic in contemporary culture:

Time poverty is now a recognized psychological and social stressor. In a speeded-up, highly complex society, there just isn't enough time for everything: our demanding jobs, our interlocking bureaucratic responsibilities (taxes, insurance, legal issues), our loved one, kids, our community (including the rest of nature), plus commuting and keeping up with traditional media and endless 24/7 online communications. Constantly rushing to keep up as we inevitably fall further behind, we find ourselves destroying not only our own health, but our habitat and the habitat of the people, plants and animals with whom we share the planet.

Juggling two part-time jobs, a library science class, thesis preparation, and home life this summer has given me a lot of opportunity to think about the importance of fighting against the relentless pressure to be "productive" by external standards, and to fill my life with activities our culture assigns value to -- rather than the activities that I actually find pleasurable, nourishing and productive in a deep life-affirming sense of creating a life worth living.

I don't necessarily buy into the idea that those activities necessarily take place out-of-doors, away from technology, but I also recognize the importance of remembering that information technology is a resource not an entity demanding my constant attention or embodying some inherent moral value (positive or negative). I've realized over the last two years in graduate school that as someone going into library & information services, information overwhelm and the pressure to be plugged into sources of information 24/7 is going to be a constant pressure in my working life, and it will be important to establish boundaries -- to make sure there are places in my life where that tidal wave of sensory input is not allowed to intrude -- times and spaces where I have time for reflection, reconnection, and restoration.


Happy 4th

Happy 4th of July everyone; hope you're finding ways to enjoy the holiday weekend. This morning was the first crystal clear day we've had in over a month here in Boston; I went out early to pick up croissants, baked currant donuts and onion foccacia at the bakery in our neighborhood. Clearly, a number of other people had the same idea.

On the way home, I saw groups of folks already headed down to the Charles with picnic baskets and blankets to stake out viewing spots for the Boston city fireworks & pops concert along the esplanade. Enjoy the day!


Holiday weekend puppy blogging

Hard to believe tomorrow's the beginning of the 4th of July weekend already! Here in Boston we've had the cloudiest summer on record since 1903 and this morning Hanna and I had on our overcoats as we stood in the mist waiting for the T. I hope those of you who live not-in-Boston have a more summery forecast for the next few days. Meanwhile, here's the latest batch of puppy pictures to cheer those of you who need cheering, and charm all the rest.