Sunday, November 25, 2007

Up close and personal

Last night Husband and I went to see Josh Ritter. He was playing in a venue which we hadn't been too before so we had no idea what it would be like. It turned out to be a run down old church on the edge of the city centre which, too all intents and purposes, looked like a very neglected youth club. The car park was made of mud, but was free, and the tour bus just fitted into the back.

I guess there must have been around 200 people there. I used to go and see local, or up and coming bands in venues like this. I did not expect Josh Ritter to turn up there. He is obviously not as well known in the UK as I thought he went. It was his last gig in England before heading home via Cork, Ireland and he was grinning like a fool he was so happy.

The performance was amazing.... the energy in the up beat numbers had me dancing up a storm in my new cowboy boots. The tenderness in delivery of the slow numbers - some near the end that he sang un-miked with the audience joining in - was just overwhelming.

At the moment, and for the last few years, really great live music is my religious experience. It's the thing that takes me out of myself and lifts me up like nothing else. Last night certainly took me there.

Friday, November 16, 2007


This is something about which I ponder on a regular basis. Not what makes a person an adult, but what makes me feel like I have achieved that status inside. Something has changed these last few years. Life has moved on, I have: a husband, two cats, a mortgage and I'm working in my 2nd 'proper' job... but to me its the smaller things in life that keep popping up and prompting me to think about my adulthood:

1) Having three types of towel: guest, old (for dirty jobs) and everyday nice.

2) Commuting: in one of my previous workplaces, many moons ago, I was surprised at someone commuting 25 miles/45 minutes to work. For why would they do that? I know commute 70 miles/90 minutes, and I know why I do it.

3) Friends to visit: we quite regularly have friends to stay over night or for Sunday lunch. I love entertaining and cooking so will put on a spread. Then we'll go and do something: a concert, a walk in the woods - last weekend it was a trip to Stonehenge.

4) Stability: for me this is what has made all the adult-y-type changes possible. After so many ups and downs my life has settled down, and in a way that is rather pleasant most of the time. A friend that I hadn't seen for 3 years recently commented on how happy I seemed. And I guess that, despite the CFS, the commuting and the last remaining student debt - things are good.

5) Bon Jovi: my iPod pick for the last 10 minutes of my commute home last night, after I'd finished the Princeton University podcast on the history of sin. I'm a sucker for music as holders of emotional memories . Cheesy big-haired Bon Jovi remind me of when I wasn't an adult a reflection which makes me realise I am one.

6) Understanding pubs: There are almost no pubs where I come from, it just doesn't seem to be the tradition. And anyway, my parents wouldn't have frequented them if we did. It wasn't really until I started dating my husband that I grew to understand pub etiquette; an essential part of being an adult in the UK.

What makes you feel like an adult? If you do that is...

Friday, November 09, 2007

I am good

Ok, that negative post has stayed at the top of this blog for far too long so lets move on to something more positive.

I've been at my job for 5 months now and things are going well. It is a challenging position, there is so much to do and so much to think - my grey cells are certainly getting a work out. In mid-October I had my first papers go for consideration at the high-up committee. They went down well. I've just finished writing a new paper to go to the high-up committee in a couple of weeks. And, if I do say so myself, it is damn good. Myself and a far more senior person were tasked with researching and writing it. We had a chat, I pulled together all my evidence, he told me what he knew about it, I wrote it, he added about a dozen words and ta da! it was done. So I must be doing something right, as my work generally doesn't get edited heavily - in fact hardly at all. I'm proud of my paper as it dealt with concepts that are pretty difficult to explain in any ordered way, and I think it makes good sense. It's got practical recommendations for now and for the future.

So today I say....

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ok.. so that wasn't so subtle

I have just been chastised for my facebook status message. Ok, it wasn't that funny (or clever) in hindsight. I'm normally quite reserved at passing public judgment but when a member of my extended family gets arrested for doing something so utterly stupid that I honestly don't quite know what to say it just slipped out. And it did not reveal any body's identity, not to anyone who didn't already know. But I admit it wasn't the wisest thing I've ever done. I have now been suitably told off, but still feel slightly indignant.... but I've changed it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Another technology post

Ok, I know I ranted about recently, but I couldn't help sharing with you my latest discovery in the land of Web 2.0.....

I'm seriously thinking about where I want to go in my (as yet to begin) academic career. I love my job in higher education, it interests me, it challenges me, but I'm not sure if I want to pursue it much further academically. I still enjoying reading about HE but I'm just not sure I can see a PhD in it for me. I am, however, considering returning to my Undergrad roots of Religious Studies. I'm not sure exactly where I want to direct my studies, a massive list of theoretical disciplines are whirring around my head - social anthropology of religion, sociology of religion, cultural studies - along with areas of study - secularisation/resacralisation, wicca, witchcraft, feminist spirituality, paganism, cult, myth and many more.....

Anyway, this means I'm going to have to start reading properly... anything I can get my hands on that interests me... and enjoy what was always one of my favourite past-times: 6 degrees of academic separation. This involves reading an interesting book or article, scouring the bibliography and picking what you want to read next from there, and then repeating the process ad infinitum. I find it the best way to circumnavigate an idea - backwards and forwards in time, and around the circumference of the literature.

So this leads to my technological discovery after I started hunting around for some free/cheap reference management software to help me keep track of what I'll be reading. I know EndNote/Reference Manager/ProCite are all used in academia, but I don't want to shell out £100 on one of those. Then I came across Zetero. It's free. Developed by academics for academics and students. And better than that, it is an add on to Firefox, not a separate programme, just a little logo in Firefox's lower right hand corner which when you magically click it, it opens up your library. You can automatically capture data from any kind of web page: library catalogue, amazon etc. and manually add anything else. You can sort and tag, have multiple "collections" for different projects, and export beautiful bibliographies.

I'm sure the pay-for programmes can probably do a lot more, but I like this one, it's small, simple, fits with my favourite browser and free, free, free.... yippee!