Saturday, November 24, 2007


Thanksgiving has come and gone in its usual unremarkable way. It is a holiday that I enjoy, yet never feel obliged to celebrate. Over the years, I have gathered that this is a rare attitude among the American populace; while one always reads of how painful big family holidays are for members of dysfunctional families who have lots of bad memories of past holidays, I have yet to meet anyone, even from an awful family, who claimed to detest Thanksgiving. It seems to be a general favorite, perhaps because Thanksgiving is often celebrated with friends rather than family.
I like to host Thanksgiving dinners, but this is not generally practical for me, so I was pleased that this year Travis took on the job for our department. As Travis is vegan, this meant I used margarine instead of butter in the sweet potatoes. But as I'm perfectly content with vegetarian Thanksgiving, it was not much of a stretch to go in a vegan direction. Most of my favorite Thanksgiving foods are not dairy-focused, or can use margarine.
We met on Friday so that more people would be able to attend, and we ended up with a pleasant group of four art historians (Travis, Kathy, Leslie, and me) and one visiting Czech psychologist, Daniela. Additional people had planned to come, but for one reason or another bowed out. The Friday timing meant that Daniela was able to experience a traditional Thanksgiving on Thursday, and as an observer of American culture, she quite enjoyed seeing both the traditional and non-traditional forms. Our most traditional foods were the sweet potatoes, mulled wine, and mashed potatoes, but only the first two turned out to have their traditional form, as Travis had put the potatoes in the food processor and this gave them an unusual consistency. They tasted fine, but they were very sticky. We have christened them Potatoes a la Travis, and Leslie says she thinks this new recipe will please her father, who wants his potatoes exceptionally smooth.
I meant to take pictures, but left the camera in the car. While we enjoyed ourselves, the main notable item other than the food was Daniela's revelation that her family has a house rabbit. This is not the Czech norm. She said that he is very patient with her younger son (who tries to treat him like a stuffed animal) and has taught her how intelligent rabbits are.

Usually I find Thanksgiving break an excellent time to get a lot done. Past Thanksgivings have seen the composition of entire short stories. I am not sure that this year will be typical in this regard, however.
It is not that I do not have plenty to do. As I sat in the airport Monday night waiting for my flight back to Pittsburgh, I contemplated the rather long list ahead of me. It involved things like writing my College Art Association conference paper, writing a proposal for the upcoming Czech workshop, writing an abstract for a book chapter that I hope to contribute, writing the next postdoc application, and fixing an article that allegedly had developed problems in the course of emailing. These all had to be done in the next two or three weeks maximum, not to mention making some progress on my dissertation for a change.
The airport happened to have free wifi, so I took it into my head to check my email, and discovered that my advisor had finally read my first two chapter drafts (she had warned me that this would happen shortly) and that as a result she had decided it was time for me to start cutting and reorganizing. No dissertation, she assures me, should be more than 300 pages.
While this news did not actually depress me, it did distract me from dealing with any of my other projects during the flight. On Wednesday, then, I bravely wrote up the chapter abstract and a proposal for next year's AAASS paper (admittedly, these were revisions of documents I already had on hand) and took care of various other things, which made me feel productive. I also cut significant amounts of Chapter 2. I felt very productive indeed!
Unfortunately, I was nearly out of printer paper, so I could not really work out many more cuts.
On Thursday, the mouse for my desktop computer began to behave very strangely. Rebooting was of no use. Changing the batteries did no good. When I tried removing it to reinstall it, it failed to reinstall. There is not much one can do with a computer without a mouse or similar device; I am pretty good at using keystrokes, but Microsoft and the other software companies make it pretty difficult to use a computer solely via keystrokes. Meanwhile, although the laptop was working, I couldn't use the internet from it since (as the Verizon software had screwed it up once and caused me to have to reinstall Windows) I don't use it with my home internet connection.
The annoying thing about such irritations is that, although one can work around them, one would rather fix them. Attempts to fix such things quickly eat up hours of one's valuable time. Nothing is convenient. One cannot simply settle down and work smoothly.
Perhaps, too, it is a bad weekend for technology. My Sibling has experienced what will prove to be either a dead motherboard or dead hard drive on his laptop, which (naturally) is the home of a major project. And this morning I discovered that an unidentified lapine had chewed no less than three cords connected to the telephone. While phone cords are easily replaceable, I may need to get a new phone if the power cord can't be replaced. It is just as well that I don't know which rabbit perpetrated this particular mischief, although I suspect Orion was to blame.

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Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Chew through a phone cord? I can't imagine that a rabbit would ever do such a thing. Are you sure that your phone cord was not the victim of an attack by a dreaded dust bunny?

November 26, 2007 8:58 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

The dreaded dust bunnies all live under the couch.

I realize that Dr. Zaius has led a very sheltered life. He has never, ever, had to walk across the street to use the pay phone as a consequence of his rabbit having bitten through the phone cord while he or his roommate were talking on the phone and, perhaps, even petting the said rabbit. No, such an event could never, ever, have occurred in the life of Dr. Zaius. He has never had a rabbit who chased cats, either.

November 27, 2007 2:31 AM  
Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Au contraire, mon ami! I actually had a rabbit that chased not only cats, but dogs! A miniature pincher in fact. He was one fierce, bad bunny.

November 27, 2007 7:47 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

You can't keep a Fierce Bad Rabbit down.

November 28, 2007 3:28 AM  

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