Alone in the Archives II

30 05 2010

Not quite ALL alone today. Techguy is here and is expecting Techgirl at any moment.

But to the picture … Anyone remember playing Myst back in the day when it was cutting edge gaming? Remember that empty wind sound that was the musical score of the WHOLE game that made you feel so damn alone? Yeah, that’s what it sounds like here today. And yes, I feel pretty damn alone.

My goal today is to peruse my accumulated transcriptions and the xeroxes my super provided me with and start writing, hopefully tonight but tomorrow at the latest. I also decided yesterday that I’m going to discuss focusing my sample on one particular and common–no. I’ve changed my mind. I just realized that the particular type of occupational accidental death I was going to focus on perpetuates a class, age and occupational difference which would single out inventories of the young, inexperienced workers who do particular tasks. I should focus on disease since it knows class less (though cleanliness and age are still obviously factors here).

Great. Now I have to go pull another data sheet and redo my samples. Gripemoan.

Anyway, I never beat Myst without the help of a walkthrough guide but then again, I was quite young when it came out and it was probably pretty significant that I even played it. I was always really intrigued by the story and the beautiful scenery, which have been the main factors of my gaming selections ever since (Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Shadow of the Colossus). I think it was one of the first game I ever played with multiple endings and I was impressed by the idea that you could be trapped in books. Trapped by knowledge: swallowed by things that usually are the tools of man. Ironic.

Well, I better get some work done.

UPDATE: I just had the best discussion about Jane Austen with Techguy. This has made my life, especially since I brought up Austen movies with PCW and was indigently rebuffed as though How dare I think ze has watched such drivel!

Jane Austen for the WIN.


x.x Dead Guy Watch x.x

One of the men whose inventory I currently am transcribing owned A History of England. That’s the best thing ever.


Alone in the Archives

29 05 2010

All. Alone.

Guess how went to work instead of having fun? Meeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Working away at transcriptions, which is pretty dull. I like material culture and consumption history but these inventories are just … well, they are lists. I guess I like better know how people felt about their clothes, what they thought about when they put them on, what they read in the clothing choices of others… I’m not really concerned with how many.

But I’m just sayin’, not complaining. Alright, that might have been a complaint, but I’m not getting ready to mutiny or anything. I’m just pointing out that I’m really not that into the original economic lean which consumption history had before the cultural historians got their hands on it.

x.x Dead Guy Watch x.x

Generally, though, I get no context to the clothing. Usually what I get is this:

List of effects 1 black Coat 1 [work] coat 1 pair canvas Pants 1 pair Drawers 1 Under Flannel 1 Waist Coat 2 Neck Ties 1 Bag 1 [work item] 1 Miniature [Signed by Supervisor]

Not a lot of stuff, really. And besides the black coat and the under flannel, I have no way of knowing what fabrics or colours anything was. Maybe this guy splurged on a paisley necktie. Where his drawers linen or cotton? And at first I though the “miniature” might be a statuette but now I think it might be a painting. Who’s to know? What is it of? A mother, daughter, lover?

Really, though, I should stop wondering too much because it’s just going to make this whole process more painful.

Back to the ol’ drawing board I guess…

You’re a Gh-gh-gh–

29 05 2010


xx Dead Guy Watch xx

So yesterday I found 2 inventories in a single document, which was awesome. But the handwriting was so bad, I might as well have been dragging my eyes across the paper. It was awful. I can usually transcribe one whole document in an hour or so, depending on how much was recorded and how much formatting I have to do to make my typed transcription look at much like the original as possible,* but just the inventory alone took the same amount of time! It was worth it though. One of them had values of all the objects AND who bought them, which I’ve never seen (and done with this one inventory in the document). A third fellow died too but apparently owned nothing, which is interesting too.

My super comes back midweek so the next few days I will be focusing on having something for hir to see. I will probably go into work today at some point, which is a sad story except that I have a couple parties to hit up tonight. Or I might go down to the shopping district and check out the antique shops which are never open after work.

Yeah, that’s probably going to have to happen.

... Next Time!

Also, I am dealing with some Amorous Issues right now, in the form of crushing on someone very smart and funny, but shy. It’s very frustrating because I’m shy too. So we’re just going to go about in circles and never get around to anything. Anyway, last night I invited hir to a party and ze couldn’t come, which I might have been upset about if ze hadn’t ended the message with an Inspector Gadget quote.

Yes, that’s right: The presence of “Next time, Gadget” at the end of the message has brought this to a whole other playing field. I am going to have to stop being shy, dammit, because this person is so right for me.

I hope.

Anyway … maybe I should have breakfast?

*I come from the Carolyn Stedman type of transcribers. See her wonderful book The Radical Soldier’s Tale. She has quite a wonderful discussion about the problems with correcting grammar and punctuation and rearranging paragraph structure and how this effects the meaning of the transcription.

I’ve Put This Off for Far Too Long

28 05 2010

So, as it happens, I haven’t been blogging in a vacuum. And, as Bilbo Baggins says best, I’ve put off crediting my inspirations for far too long. I know now the Word is a short and dull little commentless blog, but one day maybe it will be like these fine publications!

The Tenured Radical


Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar

and last but not least,

Clio Bluestocking Tales

Thank you ladies! Because at the end of the day I know I can sit down to my pork chops and asparagus covered in a delightful-but-shoot-shouldn’t-have-put-so-much-cayenne-pepper-in-it maple syrup sauce and laugh, cry or generally feel intellectually challenged and respected.

Damn, did I mention there was too much cayenne in that sauce?

Oh no! Little kitten, DON'T do it! There is too much cayenne in that sauce!

I shall direct you particularly to this post by Historiann which features a piece of short fiction by Jonathan Franzen. Historiann says:

“In addition to a thoughtful exploration of how the girl would have experienced the rape and its aftermath, it is also a perfect illustration of how class works to suppress the reporting and prosecution of crimes by privileged men.”

I once decided to write a paper on the privilege of masculinity for a gender class (which I never had to do but one day this paper will happen) and I read a small stack of rape studies for it, including Anna Clark’s Women’s Silence, Men’s Violence and was stuck by the similar dialogues surround rape today and rape in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries. The idea that women are only as good as their reputation is still so pervasive today…

Speaking of rape and gender, I always liked Denise Riley’s argument that women are women biologically but not necessarily cognitively but I remember saying so once to my super and hir sad and tired reply was that that’s true until you are walking down a dark street at night and you hear footsteps behind you.

RETURN showing the Number, Ages, Ratings, and Causes of Death

27 05 2010

xx Dead Guy Watch xx

Yep yep yep. I’m in the archive and I’m having fun looking at stats about my dead guys. Lots of crazy deaths here. For example, did you know that if you lived in 1866, you could die of Mortification of the Ear (1) or Toe (1)? How about Black Vomit (1)? Or Urine Retention (2)? Some of them are not so ridiculous, but are somewhat surprising. Can you actually die from insanity (2)? How exactly do you expire from Dysentery and scurvy (1) at the same? What the frick is Thunderstroke (1)? Some of them are archaic deaths … few people these days pass from Lock Jaw (7), consumption (163) or measles (3). And there are huge numbers for occupational deaths; 1219 men were killed by a particularly hazardous reality of their job.

All in all, 4866 men died in 1866.

There are some problems with these stats, obviously. Firstly, there is no context. While the table is broken down between tasks and age, there is no similar context for how many men were actually working. Secondly, who is declaring the cause of death? Some of them are probably overlaps, like Excessive Drinking (7) and Atrophy of Liver (1). And finally, there is the whole Unknown section, which accounts for nearly 1/5th of the deaths. That is a lot of question marks.

But still, these are great to have. And I know that in 4 out of 5 cases, someone was trying to figure out what these men died of and made sure to record it.

PCW is having a grand time with the legislation. Ze is currently dealing with the heaps of abbreviations and such attached to all our primary sources.

Quick PCW, hand me the The Project Legislation Repellent Spray!

Oh dear. Well, that will do.

We All Fall Down

27 05 2010

I’m listening to Waxwing by the Parkas. Quite good.

Now, I have posted for awhile because, well…

Because I just graduated! Yes, I am the happy holder of a BA (Hons) in History! So basically for the last couple of days I’ve been taking my parents and my grammie around Colour City (no, there were no walking tours … well, there was that one, but I was the appreciative recipient in that instance). So yeah, no post.

I put them on the plane today and I’m pretty relieved they are gone. Not that I don’t love them or that I didn’t enjoy the time they spent here, but I was a whole lot of running around, whole lot of headaches and a whole lot of telling my father to put away his iPhone. In restaurants, no less. Nice restaurants. Just because you have your phone with you doesn’t mean that you have to answer it.

Also too much time away from my dead guys.

I did take them to archive, though, before my convocation and they quite liked it I think. My Project Co-worker (PCW) gave a nice tour when I asked hir, which was great since I don’t know as much about the actual collection as I should.

Also, my supervisor airmailed me a card from Britain where ze is currently visiting. This is just one of the many considerate things ze does for me and I’m very lucky to have hir as a mentor.

Tomorrow’s edition will be more comprehensive, I’m sure.


Something’s Cooking

20 05 2010

… maybe.

Well, I have chicken stock on the stove and I boiled some eggs, mixed chicken salad for sandwiches and made a salad for my lunch tomorrow, but I wish other things would move off the counter and onto the burner.


It was beautiful in Colour City today, which was really something. We had lunch outside instead of the lunchroom or huddled in the dim campus bar, averting our eyes from the tv. I picked some blooms from a flowering tree, which I just realized I left in the archive. I mostly read today and cleaned my desk, much to the hilarity of my co-worker. Ze said my stacks of books looked like a castle wall I admit it does. So I’m bringing my little metal model of a French Gunner and his cannon to position on the parapet. He will guard me from all invaders!  I have the house all to myself as my roommate is out inducting some people from the Central Provinces into the local customs of the Coast.

Yes, it involves liquor.

Also, I’m trying to coordinate this party next week and it is not going so well. Basically we have one person coming from Far Away to convocate on Tuesday and I want hir to see us all before ze goes back but hir parents booked a very brief visit and so every night ze is here someone else in the group has something else on the go. It’s been a nightmare to plan. On top of it all, my folks are coming into town for the same days as ze and so I have to juggle my peers with my parents (and grandma). Ugh.

And my parents want this Super Awesome Historian’s Tour of Colour City which I don’t have the time or desire to provide. I charge for that, dammit! Not really, but hey … maybe I should. It seems to be popular.

… … …

Mellow Yellow? ... Nope.

I think I put too much tumeric into the stock because instead of being a nice chicken stock yellow, my soup is a horrid piss yellow. FAIL>> but I’m sure it tastes fine. And no one will notice when it becomes The World’s Best Mulligatawny Soup! Yum Yum Yum!

Also I need to make a cheesecake and some tandori chicken for the potluck at work on Friday. Maybe I should wear a casual tie …

This is just a long ol’ cooking edition of Acadic, isn’t it?

UPDATE: Now that it has begun reducing, the stock is becoming an even more horrific fluorescent-piss yellow. Yegads!