Thursday, July 26, 2012

RBOC: Arrival in Cornstate

  • I now live in Cornstate!  Seriously, some of these stereotypes of an abundance of maize in the Midwest have some truth to them.  It's everywhere.  The city I live in isn't necessarily defined by corn, but the state at large sure is.  Hence that particular pseudonym.  I'm still working on one for the city.
  • Many thanks to Fie Upon This Quiet Life and her husband for putting me up for the night in their swanky, sophisticated digs!  (Not kidding.  It's awesome.)  I was so tired out after a day of cleaning and driving that I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow — even though there was a big portrait of William Shakespeare staring down at me from the wall.
  • Fie and partner also served me a scrumptious dinner when I arrived.  One of the featured dishes was, of course, corn.  :)
  • It's fucking hotter than a fucking motherfucker.  I continue to despise this heat wave, and global warming in general.  It's bad enough having to haul around boxes of books while sweating buckets, but I'm actually more irritated by having to drive around the area to one furniture store after another, looking for cheap yet not-so-crappy furniture, while the sun beats down on my car and me.  It doesn't help that these stores are all in strip malls, either.  Strip malls are not friendly places.
  • Neither are big-box stores.  Blech.
  • One the one hand, I'm going to move again in two years, so I can't really purchase the most beautiful, durable, heavy furniture around — I really want to limit myself to stuff that I could conceivably haul away with me.  On the other hand, I'm reaching a point of stubborn, bourgeois refusal to buy the cheapest, flimsiest stuff available to spare myself money and time.  Bourgeois consumption appears to be a progressive syndrome.  
  • I'm making the best of this tendency, though.  By forcing myself to comparison-shop, I found a wonderful, lower-back-friendly bed for less than half of retail price  
  • I also bought a discontinued model* of office desk at a big discount.  Since that would require a $100 delivery charge obviating the discount, I figured that I could get a cheap piece or two of living room furniture.  After searching exhaustively with a very patient salesperson, I found a decent enough sofa-loveseat combo for $500.  It's not the leather upholstery that my inner contemptible bourgeois fuck craves, but it looks nice anyway.  With all of that delivered in one go, it's a good deal. Won't have any of it until next week, but such is the way of furniture shopping.
  • On top of all those needs that keep me driving around in the heat, I won't have internet access in my home until next week, either.  My office at CBU isn't air-conditioned right now – I think they turned it down low on the assumption that no one would be in the building until August – so it's not exactly a pleasant workspace.  After hauling a ton of books into that office, periodically wiping the sweat from my face so I wouldn't drip on the texts, I was not inclined to stay there to work.  Guess I have to keep café-surfing for another week.  
  • And work I must!  I have to give my (potential) editor a formal response to the reader reports by tomorrow.  Yikes!  Gonna be a heavily caffeinated evening.
  • Did I mention that it's hot?  How hot is it, Koshary?  Weeeeeelllll, it's so hot that the cover of the left headlight on my car fell off the goddamn car last week before I left Ghosttown, after the adhesive holding it in place melted.  I am not making this up.  I didn't even realize this was possible.  I was frankly astonished that I made it all the way to Fie's house without some wayward dragonfly zooming into the exposed bulb and exploding it.  Gotta find a VW dealership next week and see about fixing this.
*Extra chuckle for you all: the store discontinued the model because it sold poorly in comparison to other office furniture sets: it has a metal frame supporting the wooden top, and true bourgeois consumerist fucks disdain anything other than a pure wooden desk.  Suckers!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

RBOC: The Great Escape edition

This isn't an ordinary house-move coming up for me.  It's an escape.  Sweet, sweet escape.  Details:
  • The bulk of my possessions have been loaded into a trailer and shipped off to my new location!  (The pseudonym 'Balltown' got a distinctly lukewarm reception; I'm pondering upgrades.)  If only I didn't have to clean the daylights out of my old place to get back my deposit, I'd already be halfway there.  But, since I do have to clean the daylights out of my old place, I won't get to ship out myself until Sunday morning.
  • I'm already sick to death of the stupid prepared foods in my fridge that I've been eating since I packed up all of my china and utensils.  It's going to be a while before I get a craving for hummus.
  • Once again, I am homeless (on the internet).  I surrendered my modem to the cable company and closed my account, so I am now dependent on cafés with wifi.  It's odd to have greater internet access on my telephone than on my computer.  It's also odd that the patron with the most inane and irritating things to say also seems unacquainted with the concept of "inside voice."
  • I am constantly dehydrated, since it's motherfucking 8,000 degrees and I have been hauling and cleaning all day.  It's probably not helping that I'm determined to finish off the bottle of tequila, rather than pour it down the drain.  (I know no one around here who favors tequila, or else I'd have given it away.)  
  • Seriously, it's hotter than the devil's nutsack.  I want to lodge a formal complaint about this.  Weather should never be hotter than 87 degrees.  And I fucking despise moving in the summertime.  This might actually be the worst thing about being an academic — even worse than not getting paid in summer.
  • I think I will actually have to use a toothbrush to scrub grout in my shower.  Crap.
  • To end this post on an up note, I get to crash at Fie Upon This Quiet Life's house the night before I move in!  Chez Fie, I do believe, will be far superior to some scary-ass roadside motel along my dismal route.  There really isn't a single place where I even want to stop my car between Ghosttown and The City Formerly Dubbed Balltown.  TCFDB will be my destination on Sunday, come hell or high water.

We are sick f***s when it comes to guns

Gee, I wonder if the horribly common incidence of massacres has anything to do with the fact that our country has somehow convinced itself that there is a sane reason for a civilian to amass a stockpile of military-grade firearms.  Last I checked, the countries that ban such things have not yet turned into totalitarian dystopias.  Is it possible that perhaps Americans have fundamentally misinterpreted personal freedom and political self-governance to mean the right to possess the capability to destroy other human beings in large numbers?


I'm never going to run for office, so I'll say it: fuck you, NRA.  Fuck you for jacking off all over the second amendment and then acting like anyone who wants to regulate any weapon smaller than a nuclear warhead is some jack-booted would-be dictator.  Fuck you for encouraging the paranoid fantasies of disaffected, delusional people who believe that the U.S. government is simply waiting until we're all unarmed to conquer us.  And fuck you twice for fomenting a lack of regulation such that anybody can acquire enough firepower to do such harm to others.  We are not being harmed by not owning military assault weapons designed to blow away a bunker full of heavily armed, armored enemies.  We are being harmed by assholes, crazies, and inhuman monsters who own military assault weapons using them to blow away a crowd of unarmed, unarmored, innocent people.  And you are helping them to harm us.

My beloved grandfather was a lifelong member of the NRA.  He served in the U.S. Army during World War II; he knew a thing or two about what totalitarianism actually looks like.  And if he were alive today, I would tell him all of this to his face.  But no one – including me, I suppose – has the guts to have a serious conversation about this in the national political sphere.  So after you NRA fucks stroke your bones again about not letting any government take away the weapons to which you never, ever should have had unfettered access in the first place, we will try to put all this out of our minds and move on...until the same shit happens all over again.

Fuck the NRA and every person who parrots their insane talking points for endangering our lives.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Gonna get my travel on

I mean, I'm already traveling heavily this month, but you knew that already, right?  Ah, but I got word today that I'll also be doing a bit of air travel this fall: my paper was accepted – along with its entire invited paper session – to the Big Giant Pseudology Conference for this year!  Since I got in on this via an invitation from a kind and supportive senior colleague, I am mindful at this moment of how much academic careers can depend upon precisely these displays of professional and personal generosity. 

In honor of my thoughtful colleague's invitation, please allow the Muppets to serenade you with a Beatles tune.  I've always held a soft spot for this sketch: this was my first exposure to the song, even though my parents sometimes played Beatles records on the stereo in my early childhood.  (Sgt. Pepper wasn't as big with them as later albums were.)  Bonus points for the classic, if Orientalizing and anti-porcine pseudology-laced setting!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reader report 2

The second reader's report on my manuscript came in.  The second, much like the first, recommended extensive revisions to deal with some theoretical and methodological issues that I had not discussed, but said that, once I had dealt with those, the press should publish the book.  So, first of all, YAY!

Now I'm going through the two reports with a fine-toothed comb, trying to figure out where they agree and disagree, and how to thresh out what to do with the conflicting bits of advice.  I need to talk with the editor about all this before the consideration process moves on, so I need to make sure I know – as much as I can, anyway – what I think of the suggested revisions.  (Obviously, all the revisions that the two readers both suggested must be done.) 

Dizzying, but exciting!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Moving destination locked in

I've secured an apartment in my soon-to-be location, and now I can happily, if a bit harriedly, start planning the details of my move and resettlement.  I have a few appliances on my shopping list, as well as some serious needs – I'll have to buy a bed when I get there – and some less-serious needs, like a proper muddler to prepare my fabulous mixed drinks.

First things first: I'm considering the pseudonym Balltown for my new location.  Technically, I'll be living in a small town unto itself, but urban sprawl has long since made the town itself an outlying suburb of the huge regional city, for practical purposes.  You've probably never heard of the small town, but everyone has heard of the huge regional city.  I haven't spent enough time there to form really strong associations, but it has quickly become apparent to me that most people there are die-hard sports fans.  Balltown seems as handy as anything else.  My new neighborhood will be about half an hour away from Tinytown by car, which I'm willing to live with.  Lots of my colleagues make that commute every day, even with little cars that don't seem ideal for snowy weather.  That said, I was told by my chair there that I will simply have to accept the reality that I must buy new tires twice a year: snow tires when winter comes, and all-weather tires when the weather warms up in the spring.

I know, Balltown isn't the most evocative name, but frankly, after the deeply resonant misery of Ghosttown, I'm ready for a touch of blandness.  Just a touch, mind you.

So, questions for those in the know, or who care to toss in their two cents:

1. Is it worth the savings to look for a used microwave oven, or do used models have too high a tendency to break down?

2. On a similar note, what should I do about a washer/dryer?  For some damn reason, the Balltown metropolitan region is the only housing market I've ever seen in which renters are expected to furnish their own laundry machines.  My apartment, like every other one, has hook-ups for the machines, so I could just buy a set for myself that would either move with me to my next location or be re-sold later.  But even a low-end set costs about $1000 retail!  This actually leads to several questions at once:
    2a. In the long run, assuming that I neither marry nor spawn in the next few years, is it more cost-efficient to buy the machines or just do my laundry at a laundromat?
    2b. In the long run, no matter what my family situation, is it too time-inefficient to go to the laundromat?  In other words, are the purchased machines ultimately worth buying in terms of time and convenience as well as money?  There's definitely something to be said for being able to power through grading or other grunt work with only two-minute breaks to transfer clothes from one machine to the other, instead of putting everything on hold for a few hours to go out to the laundromat.
    2c. Is it reasonable to buy a used washer/dryer set?  Who on earth keeps a second set of machines hooked up to demonstrate their efficacy?  How would I confirm that the machines are in working order?
    2d. Since the hook-ups are installed side by side in a relatively spacious one-car garage, does it make any sense for me to search for a stackable "apartment-style" set?  I'm pretty sure it doesn't make sense, but want to confirm with people more experienced than I in these matters.

3. Should I buy a television set?  I've never bought one that had any reception; the last one I owned was, perforce, merely a very large DVD player.  As a consequence, I really don't care much about TV, and I certainly don't feel much like paying for cable access or a dish or whatever to get all the premium channels.  But I would also like to have people over now and then, and I worry that I will seem either too austere and Puritan or just a supercilious asshole without a TV for them to watch.  I will also admit that I know how awkward it feels to drag a chair in front of a sofa so that I can position my computer on it to watch DVDs.  (Particularly on dates.  Yeah, awkward.)  Crap, did I just talk myself into buying a TV?  Fuck.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Brawl ridiculous

This post is especially for Fie Upon This Quiet Life, apropos of our after-dinner conversation.


If you prefer video to cartoon, how about this?

(I recommend starting the video at 5:12, so you don't have to endure Kenneth Branagh's irritating delivery of the St. Crispin's Day speech.  Plus, you know, Derek Jacobi.)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Apartment hunting and blogger meet-up!

So, guess what?  It turns out that the greater metropolitan area in which I'm looking for an apartment right now is also home to another distinguished academic blogger.  Last evening, I got to have dinner and drinks with none other than Fie Upon This Quiet Life!  Most exciting, most exciting!  We dined upon pub fare, threw down a few pots of small ale, and enjoyed some sophisticated conversation.  I even caught a photograph of the two of us on my iPhone!  See here: - Let's not do LSD again
*NB: May not be real, or accurate, or a photograph.

It's nice to know that I'll be acquainted with at least one or two people in the area with whom I can get together for a bitch session and a few beers.  

Meanwhile, the hunt for a place continues.  I am quickly coming to the conclusion that I would not be happy living in Tinytown, and it would be worth the commute to live over in Huge Regional City.  That's actually where my department chair lives, and I'm due to have lunch with hir today.  I'll be probing for information on that as I nibble at my victuals.  And, no doubt, driving over to HRC to look at soulless (but clean! and sturdily built! and away from meth-heads!) apartment complexes afterward.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

RBOC: Pre-moving prep

The grumbles:
  • How nice of Ghosttown's municipal government to summon me for jury duty right at the end of my time here.  How extra-nice of them to mail the letter late, so that I have per force missed the deadline to fill out an affidavit explaining that I'll be out of town at that time.  How stupid and bizarre that the letter somehow had to be routed through Major Regional City, even though I live a mile from the courthouse itself.  How charming that I must explain to these chuckleheads that, because of their slowness, I will just have to fill out the affidavit one week before the jury duty date that I will miss.  Sigh.
  • It's actually befuddling how many options there are nowadays for moving house.  After lining out price comparisons of trucks, pods, and trailers, it seems the easiest thing for me is, bien sûr, also the most expensive: hiring a trailer that will drive my stuff to my new location for me, so that I don't have to mess around with winching my car to a moving truck or hire some hapless, feckless grad student to drive one vehicle or the other.  (Yes, someone actually suggested this.)  It's annoying to have to put so much on my credit cards this summer, since there's no way even to begin paying it down until I start getting paid again, but since I have a decent sum of moving expense reimbursement from CBU, I'm not going to sweat it.  
  • I'm trying to be parsimonious with my increasingly sparse cash reserves, since I may have to part with two months' rent up front for whatever place I might rent.  That means that I can't pay my credit card bills in full as usual, so right now I feel guilty and embarrassed about carrying balances.  And then I remember that I have a tendency to be too hard on myself about mundane crap like this.
  • On Thursday, I'm driving up to CBU to hunt for an apartment (or a house?) to rent, since it has proved so difficult to find good prospects via internet.  CBU is located in Tinytown, which is so small that, as I suspect, people don't bother paying for classified ads; instead, they just rely on word of mouth through their social networks.  Either I'm on the scene to present myself to the potential landlord, or I'm not.  Gonna be a freaking road warrior this week: after streaking up there and running around the area, I have to drive back to Ghosttown on Sunday.  It will be a very tired Koshary that staggers into his apartment that evening.
  • Speaking of the apartment hunt, I'm starting to admit to myself that I might not be able to find anything in Tinytown, period, and must therefore extend my search further.  The immediate surroundings of Tinytown have precious little to recommend them, so the obvious choice is to start snooping around the western suburbs of Huge Regional City, which is where most CBU professors live.  I was hoping to avoid a daily 45-minute commute, especially given what I have heard about winters in Tinytown, but perhaps this is just the way it must be.  
The exciting murmurs: 
  • Today, I powered down my office computer for the last time, locked the door, and surrendered my university keys to the department secretary.  I'm really out of Ghosttown U.
    *turns a digital cartwheel of delight*
  • The fun part of watching my finances, insofar as there is one, is that my brother turned me on to an online bank with better rates than any brick-and-mortar bank I could have found in my soon-to-be-new state.  I closed out my account at the regional branch here in Ghosttown today, and deposited the cashier's check for the balance in my new account — by photographing it and uploading the pictures to the online bank.  Seriously: I now deposit checks by photographing them with my iPhone.  O, brave new world that has such gadgets in't!
  • On the positive side of heading for the suburbs rather than the small town, living over in HRC would at least lessen the sense of isolation.  I've heard great things about downtown HRC, and it's only 45 minutes from there down the road to Massive University Town.  (As well as to Tinytown.)  MUT is supposed to be a lot of fun for overeducated, liberal elitists like me, particularly given the mainstream culture of the state, and I have every intention of getting down there from time to time to explore.
  • Oh, and another thing about HRC and MUT: there are women there.  Many, many women.  I'm not sure that anyone who reads this blog can fully comprehend how exciting this is for me, after a year of living in a town in which there appear to be virtually no women in my natural dating range.  I'm hoping for a lot of positive unbloggable interactions.  (But I'll keep the sadsack breakup songs, just in case.)
  • One more thing about HRC and MUT: I know, I'm going overboard with the acronyms here.  Once I land in my new location and have a chance to gauge the atmosphere, I'll try to come up with some more evocative pseudonyms.