03 August 2009

Back at it.


I'm getting back to work. Kind of.

First, as I mentioned in my last email, my father came down with a serious illness as I was finishing up the semester in May. We didn't know what it was at the time; we now know it was HSV-1 encephalitis, a rare infection of the brain. He was hospitalized for about six weeks and is now in a nursing home recovering. We thought he was dead; then we thought he was braindead; then we thought he was dead again; now he's alive and doing better than anyone ever imagined. I'm grateful. Who knows, maybe we'll get him back online again soon. I hope so. Hi, dad.

[Illustrated cross-section of the brain, from Jacopo Berengario da Carpi's Isagogae breues, perlucidae ac uberrimae, in anatomiam humani corporis a communi medicorum academia usitatam (Bologna: Beneditcus Hector, 1523). Image from Historical Anatomies on the Web.]

While I'm on the topic, can we haz single payer system, plz? This whole "reform" debate is making my head spin. Until we kill off the health insurance industry -- an industry which profits from human suffering -- our health care will continue to suck.

Second, as of July 10, 2009, I'm the proud owners of a three-bedroom fixer-upper in Durham, Nor'Carolina. And've been fixin'er up ever since. Remedied a drainage problem by creating a dry creek bed / herb garden that drains into a rainwater collection barrel; tore up most of the grass, to be replaced with edible bounty; painted with milk paints and zero-VOC paints; explored recycled paper countertops long enough to realize they didn't fit our budget now (give it a few months!); and am in the process of installing 700+ square feet of bamboo hardwood floor sustainably-harvested by workers paid a living wage. Next stop: a kitchen floor mosaic made from reclaimed broken tiles, and a rocket stove for our outdoor kitchen. The goal is to use all found and reused materials (our only exception being the EcoTimber bamboo floor), and to reuse (or give away for reuse) anything we remove from the house. Pictures forthcoming.

Between these two Big Life Events, I haven't done much intellectual work. In fact, I haven't read a book or opened my Google Reader for 2 1/2 months. (That sentence sounds scary on read-back!!) I did, however, manage to squeeze in some writing for an essay I'm co-authoring with my generous former advisor, Martin Foys (more on that soon). His book Virtually Anglo-Saxon is a must-read for the digital media / literary studies crossover crowd. Highly recommended.

Oh, and I started playing the ukulele, to keep me sane. It's a really fun instrument to learn. Maybe I'll post some videos of me and Phil jamming.

So that's the roundup, no doubt boring to all but me, who, reading this back, feels pretty proud at having accomplished so much in such a relatively small amount of time. And, bonus!, the hiatus from academic work has made me hungry to get back at it.


Wynken de Worde said...

Welcome back! I'm glad to hear your father is recovering. Enjoy him, the house fixing-up, and the ukulele!

Whitney said...

Thx :D