The Best Laid Plans of Authors

I had planned on writing a blog post when I got home from Day Job.

I was tapped to fill in for an emergency absence (‘flu season. ‘Nuff said.)


Changing History or Changing How We Understand History?

I accidentally spooked a colleague this week. We were in the work room. I was reading a new history of the Russian Revolution and shaking my head because of how much recent archival research has changed understandings about the events (for those willing to read the resulting books and papers). I grumbled, “I wish people would stop doing research and changing history.” The other teacher stared and said something along the lines of “When I hear people talking about changing history, I think of 1984.” I agreed with her, and assured her that I would be updating the material in the book with the new evidence, not changing the overall story.

Except, at least in European history, sometimes the evidence found later does shift the understood story around. Then what do you do? Continue reading

The Itchy Foot Itches

I did not want to go back to work on Tuesday afternoon. I wanted to put my pick-up in four and just keep going west, over the horizon, as the cold, crisp air blew into the cab, heading into the grasslands that lead to the edge of the Caprock and then down into the mesa country. It had nothing to do with the classes I was substituting for, nothing to do with the students per se, and everything to do with a cold front’s passage, the brisk afternoon air, the clear skies, and an old, old itch. The westering urge had been woken, the whisper of “Something hidden. Go and find it… Something lost behind the ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”* Continue reading

Strange Evening

My neighborhood is not one where you typically find bodies in yards, unless they are birds or squirrels that succumbed to predators or youthful folly. So you can imagine I was a bit nonplussed when I turned down a residential street to get away from some unusually heavy traffic and I found what appeared to be an unconscious person in a yard, with two dogs. The dogs were not aggressive, but they did seem to want me to notice them and possibly do something (Border collie mixes). Continue reading

Overheard in the Halls: Part Eight

Mrs. Botanica: Everyone have their jackets on? Good. This way.

Small herd of life-science students debauch into the tall grasses beside the school to collect samples. Many of the students are wearing fleece coats. A few have the brand-new official heavy jacket (to be worn when fleeces are too light but it is not parka weather.)

Mr. Long-Slavic-Last-Name: How many pounds this year?

Mr. Dvorak [sipping large drink]: Hmm. Two. I don’t know if the new jackets work as well as the fleeces do.

Mr. L-S-L-N: Hadn’t thought of that.

Cut to the next morning, when Mrs. Botanica is in the workroom making copies. As I pass by the doorway, I hear, “After three years I should know better. They’ll be picking seeds and twigs out of those fleece jackets for the rest of the week.” Fr. Pax makes a sympathetic noise and I keep going.

******** Continue reading

One Foot in the Past

I freely admit that I live in the past. Following in the sartorial footsteps of a professor who was voted “Best Dressed Faculty” for five years running, I lean toward the Victorian and Edwardian in my clothing.* I read about history. I write books with strong historical elements. (OK, I steal from the past.) And it feels as if I have one foot in the past, as if I am closer than I really am.

Continue reading