April 2008 Archives

The Jane Austen Survey

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My life lately has been Austen-tastic. That's one of the things I want to blog about if I ever get a couple of hours in a row when I can concentrate.... Anyway, as I've mentioned before, I'm not only a Janeite but a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, though I've never yet attended one of the conferences. I hope that will change in 2009; the focus of that conference is on siblings in Austen's work, a topic I wrote a pretty decent paper on as an undergrad.

A full exploration of the Austen-tastic-ness of my life will have to wait until I've got time to write about it properly, but in the meantime I'd like to invite any Janeites who read my blog to take the Austen survey. The point of the survey is to gather information about the sorts of people who are Austen fans (my guess is they're pretty damn diverse); the results will be presented in a breakout session at the 2008 JASNA Annual General Meeting, in a presentation entitled "Anatomy of a Janeite."

Survey participants need to have read all six of the finished novels. If you have, please complete this survey.

I just got an email from some university staff person who has to send messages to some huge list. I almost didn't read it, but then thought, "What the hell; I can skim it in 15 seconds, and it might be relevant to some aspect of my life." The actual content of the email wasn't anything I need to know, but her signature caught me: it read, "Please consider the environment before printing this email."

I have friends and colleagues who print out all their email. It makes me crazy. It's such a waste--of paper, of toner, of energy, of space, of everything. I realize there are times when you have to print out an email, but 99 times out of 100, you don't.

One of the reasons I still like and use the email organizer Eudora is that it lets you have all sorts of signatures and choose a different one each time you send an email. On my old desktop I had something like 30 signatures. On my laptop I've only entered ten, one being my home address, another being my work address, a third being the url for my blog, and the rest being quotes I like, including this favorite, something US Grant wrote shortly before he died:

Some Stuff From Yesterday


First of all, I'm bummed that Obama didn't win the Pennsylvania Primaries, but the despair I feel about the future of my country is currently more diffuse than the anxiety I feel about certain other topics, so I won't dwell on it. The one thing I liked about yesterday's election was the "I Voted" sticker I got after voting. Sometimes they're really lame but this one was cool: it was big and square and had this parchment colored background, with a picture of the flag and the script of "We the People" from the preamble to the constitution. OK, it's not really all that important, but these days I'm grateful for small pleasures.

Next, did you know that you can ship live birds through the mail? I didn't, until I went to the post office yesterday and a guy was doing just that. If you scroll down on the PO's special handling page, you'll find instructions on how to do it. You can also send bees.

Finally, something else I learned at the post office yesterday: did you know that postage rates are going up again? A first-class letter will soon cost 42 cents. (I just noticed that there is no cents character on my keyboard.) So rush out and buy as many of those "forever" stamps as you can afford, though at least some of the new $.42 stamps are cool: there are some featuring the face of Martha Gellhorn, whom I totally dig and admire--her essay collection The Face of War is pretty damn amazing.

Watering the Planet on Earth Day


In recognition of Earth Day (I started to write, "In celebration of Earth Day," but it doesn't seem right to "celebrate" Earth Day when we're doing such a shitty job of caring for the planet), I'm providing links to a website where you can check your water footprint, which I learned about thanks to this news story.

No one with a brain will be surprised to be told that the US has the largest water footprint in the world--we use more of all the other resources in the world, so why should water be any different? But what makes me crazy is the amount of water we waste in the most careless and irresponsible of ways.

For instance, the movie Michael Clayton is a case in point. Now, I loved this movie; I thought it was just about perfect in terms of its storytelling, and although I wondered for the first 90 minutes why Tilda Swinton won an Oscar for her performance given how little screen time she had, in the last 15 minutes I totally figured it out. But I was really annoyed at all the water just left running in this movie.

I Hate April Fool's Day, But I Love Deadlines


First of all, I hate April Fool's Day. As far as I'm concerned, it's the single worst ritual of spring, and the one we really need to get rid of. Easter might have become irrelevant, Daylight Saving Time might be a great unnecessary, contrived annoyance, but April Fool's Day is irrelevant, unnecessary AND annoying.

I'm sure someone is saying, "What a killjoy you are, Holly! April Fool's Day is about JOKES! Don't you have a sense of humor?" But April Fool's Day is about practical jokes, about jokes that depend on trickery and deceit. They are jokes of which someone is the butt. The jokes are only funny if someone falls for them. I prefer other types of jokes.

And OK, this year, I fell for the first joke I came across: I admit I was horrified when I read that Al Gore had announced he'd run for president on an independent ticket. "Oh no," I thought. "Not another divided election...." And then I happened to glance at the date. So I didn't even cock an eyebrow when I heard that Philip Morris would cease all tobacco production and begin growing organic peanuts instead.

Because Jim Asked Me To....


My friend and blog host Jim was a very ugly baby. Jim is who introduced me to my evil ex Adam (which I don't hold against Jim, because he did warn me not to date this guy) who, according to Adam's mother, was also a very ugly baby--but we'll never know HOW ugly, because Adam was unwilling to produce any sort of evidence as to just how horrible he looked as a wee sprog. Actually, it wasn't just that he was unwilling to show anyone his baby pictures; he was unable to do something that risky, because he lacked A) a sense of humor and B) plain old chutzpah as well as C) genuine confidence in his adult good looks. (Though in his own unpleasant, insecure way he was very vain and was always telling me how good looking he was, as if I couldn't see for myself that he was a handsome guy, aside from his CRAZY eyebrows--they were like rodents nesting on his face--and the fact that the rhinoplasty he got after college left his nose just a tad too delicate to match the rest of his profile--it wasn't as bad as Michael Jackson, but you get the idea.)

Jim, on the other hand, had a sense of humor and chutzpah and a thorough awareness of how devastatingly attractive women found him. (I was no exception.) Having outgrown his infantile repulsiveness and turned into quite the handsome dude, he positively gloried in having once been so very, very hideous. He'd show his baby picture to anyone. It's easy to see where he got the attitude; his mom likewise gloried in having given birth to such an ugly child. When I met her, she cackled in delight as she told me how people would withdraw in embarrassed confusion when they saw him in his stroller. (I never met Adam's mom, by the way; I know from Jim that she would simply state, with a matter-of-factness that mortified Adam, how ugly he was as a baby.)

But it seems that other once-ugly children are trying to wrest Jim's position as ugliest baby away from him. He asks, therefore, that you go to this photo of the world's ugliest baby on flickr and add it to your favorites, and then add a link to his entry in which he declares himself the world's ugliest baby.

Seriously. Jim deserves the title, and we must help him keep it.

Karen Armstrong on TED


Thanks to Saviour Onassis, who sent me a link to this wonderful talk by Karen Armstrong:

It's her speech after winning the 2008 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Prize, which is

designed to leverage the TED Community's exceptional array of talent and resources. It is awarded annually to three exceptional individuals who each receive $100,000 and, much more important, the granting of "One Wish to Change the World." After several months of preparation, they unveil their wish at an award ceremony held during the TED Conference. These wishes have led to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact.

Armstrong's wish is for a "charter for compassion."

She rocks.


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This page is an archive of entries from April 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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