Sunday, March 02, 2008


It's been a rocky week around here. A lot of the reasons are not necessarily appropriate for this venue--work woes, family sorrows, scheduling miscalculations. But there are a few relevant tales to tell my reading public, including the fact that I have barely risen from the couch all weekend due to being unbearably sick, and the fact that I spent about six hours in the library at school this week doing my reference homework, and it's really just so interesting.

The sickness anecdote is mostly an apology because I meant to blog sooner. It seems like the more I plan what I want to write about, the less likely I am to sit down and write it. Unlike certain other blogging friends of mine, a plan of action for a well-constructed essay and a deadline for posting it brings out the WORST in me.

But we had our first big homework assignment in Reference class this week. It was incredibly time consuming--we had about thirty dictionaries and encyclopedias to look through for terms and answers. It was all about practicing how to look things up--where do you look for the meaning of the phrase "a Roland for an Oliver?" (Answer: Bartlett's famous quotations; it means equally matched and originates with Charlemagne's paladins.) What's the best way to use the Encyclopaedia Brittanica? (Answer: start with the index. There are Micro and Macro volumes, and facts are often embedded in longer articles. Don't waste your time, just go straight for the index.) Why would you ever use the Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary if you have a full OED on hand (or online)? (Answer: OED is very British in orientation--it does not cover American usage and etymology as thoroughly as British.)

A lot of people hate Reference. The fact that I kind of love it is, in my mind, another indication that I'd rather work in a public library than a school library. But now is not the time to bring you this internal debate.

Other news relevant to the blog: I finally finished To Say Nothing of the Dog, or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last, by Connie Willis. It was about the journey, not the destination, as so many other books are. It took me almost three months to read it; I kept getting distracted. But it was so much fun, by the time I finished it--you don't often get a Victorian farce and a time travel mystery in the same book. So excellent--Linden, you might enjoy this one, too. Not to overload you with recommendations, because I know I'm prone to.

And now, I'm reading Mary Roach's Spook. She's funny, and she's on my list of people who research things and then tell me all the fun stuff, thus saving me from going in-depth into a subject I'm only somewhat interested in. Oh, and again I'm finding confluence--spiritualism is a major theme and the Enigma machine is mentioned in both Spook and To Say Nothing of the Dog. I feel liek the whole world is finally falling into place.

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