October 5th, 2012


Marta's Day Out

On Tuesday I'm taking a French language exam and somewhere in the last two years I've lost my dictionary. I usually use an online dictionary to look up words anyway, but we're not allowed to use computers in the actual exam, so I needed a dictionary that ran on flattened out tree pulp rather than circuit boards. I'm actually fine with that, since computerized translators can make a rough stab at whole phrases, not just words. But it did mean a trip to suburbia (or our nearest approximate to it, Bay Plaza shopping center). Our campus bookstore was out of all but the dinky $5.95 French 101 version, and if I'm going to risk this much prep work to an exam I want the right tools.

I did get a dictionary, a proper decent-sized one that is easy to use, and if it gets me through this exam it will be $20 well spent. But on my way out I walked past my own personal kryptonite, in honor of something's 75th anniversary:

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And narry a book was bought. I probably own most of them, but the hardcover Hobbit with Alan Lee illustrations? It was all I could do to keep from drooling. I just didn't feel like I could justify $30 for a book I already own.

They also had some really nice notebooks - high quality wire binding, thick cardboard stock covers printed with the Hobbit maps, good substantial unlined paper. Exactly the kind of notebook I like to make lecture notes in when I teach. Maybe once I get through my exam, or get my pigsty of a bedroom cleaned up.

In other news, I learned that I'll be teaching ethics as a night class this July. I'm left trying to decide which books I want to teach, or if I just want to use electronic readings and have the kiddos budget $30-$40 to print them out. The real question is what to focus on. In the past I've done a strong emphasis on political philosophy (libertarianism, applications of utilitarianism to political issues, Rawls, etc.) but it seems that what really gets my students talking is anything touching love, sex, and friendship. How much of this is being twenty and liking to talk frankly about sex and get ye olde prof to blush a bit, I don't know, but I think it seems more relevant to them than the more political topics that I find genuinely interesting. A part of me is not too happy with indulging their privilege (politics only seems irrelevant if you are lucky enough to be able to meet your needs on your own), but it may be best not to fight things and just go with Kant + Aristotle and some eRes readings on friendship, homosexuality, abortion, and the like. I'm waffling here.

And of course the reason I'm allowing myself to waffle? Because French translations await. They will hold till tomorrow, though.

Also: I had a good meeting with my dissertation adviser on a paper I wrote laying out the problem I want to look at. Kinda-sorta a pre-dissertation proposal. I got good feedback and, while there is a rather significant problem, there's really only the one. The good news is I have a direction that we both agree on and the pieces are falling into place that will let me do this. Hopefully. I'm optimistic in any case.

Also #2: I'm still looking for betas, for a short book review and for a Swordspoint fic. Let me know if you're interested, either in the comments or by dropping me a line at mlaytonATfordhamDOTedu.

Also #3: I like people-watching. Standing in my living room, watching the couple slow-dance in the courtyard is nice. For a reason I can't quite peg, standing on the bathroom mat in bare feet, closing my eyes and listening to the faint song of Charlie Haden's "Spiritual", closing my eyes and listening with the feel of the mat under my feet... it was wonderfully refreshing.

Also #4: But depressing too. Not the bath mat and the song , but slowing down and having a moment to really think about those dictionaries. At the store today it was tantalizing - all those names of countries reminded me of places I've been, places I've lost, and places I want to go. (Why is NYC not even enough of an adventure for me?) I found myself running my fingers over the spines, and just getting a thrill from the possibility.