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A Quick, Sad Note

Just a quick post to note the unfortunate passing of LSU Medievalist Lisi Oliver. She was killed on June 7 when she was struck by a vehicle while walking her broken-down bicycle along the side of a road.

A while back I made a couple of posts summarizing some of what I found interesting from her book, The Body Legal in Barbarian Law. I also attended a Kalamazoo session she gave a paper (excellent – entertaining and witty) for on Saturday, May 16. After the session was over, I spoke with her and mentioned that her book was an absolute gold mine for someone writing a Medieval blog intended for general audiences. I gave her the address and was hoping she’d have the chance to read those posts and offer a comment or two.

Sad news.

Oliver, Lisi, The Body Legal in Barbarian Law. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (2011). ISBN: 978-0-8020-9706-4.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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When a Blog Goes Insane

OK, there’s something strange going on. Today, and the day ain’t done, I have 674 page views on my blog. Of those, 552 are to my post on whether Origen castrated himself. Heck, even the 122 non-distesticulation hits would be a pretty decent day. I have only averaged 100/day for a couple of months since I started it up. The even stranger things is the vast majority of visitors came to the site once, to that page, and from all over the country. I’ve had times where an ISP locked onto the blog with quite a few hits and there was a period a couple of years back where the Russian Federation seemed to take an interest which I have never figured out.

When I first saw the stats for today I wondered if someone had hacked my account with a free car offer or Cirque du Soleil tickets or something. Nope, it’s Origen’s self-surgery or, IMO, lack thereof.

This post has been a favorite since I put it up, supplanting my A World Lit Only by Fire review as the most viewed post. And there have been some rather disturbing search terms which have accompanied it such as, “How do I castrate myself?” or “Self-castration methods.” But whatever’s going on today is something else.

I’m happy for the traffic but it can’t be real – my best previous day was somewhere in the low 300’s. If this has happened to someone before and you have an idea of what caused it, I’d appreciate some insight.

I logged on to work more on, maybe even finish my first session report from Kalamazoo but this has distracted me. Maybe by the end of the week. Or maybe 700 hits/day is a new normal – maybe I should do the ad placement thing after all?

Or not.

Edit: Found it. My blog is on Esquire!. Or a link to it anyway, next to the last paragraph. And I thought it was cool when I started being listed as a source by Wikipedia. Of course the main article has nothing to do with medieval history, unless Bob Schieffer is really old.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Blogology

 

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Kalamazoo 2015 Saturday Update and Wrap-up

Well, Saturday was another warm one but absent the rain for the most part. I went to the first two sets of sessions and took the third one off for a nap. This wasn’t so much to make it through the rest of the day but so I could drive home today(more on that later). Once I got up and cleaned up I hit the mead tasting, grabbed my two display copies of books, and headed to the Pseudo Session.

I don’t review the Pseudo Session – I mean, you have to be there, right? I believe this may be the best session I’ve ever been to for overall quality of “papers.” I’d rate two as outstanding – worth being on my list of all-time greats. The other two were very good though you did have to really follow along for one of them as it was a textual analysis. Besides, learning more about the Vikings, IKEA, Petrarch, King John and Anselm is always useful. I should note that after however long he’s had the job – he was doing this at my first Kalamazoo in 2000 or 2001 (I forget) – Richard Ring is stepping down as the organizer of the Pseudo Society Sessions. He’s put a lot of work into this for a lot of years and the program always delivers. There are some folks taking over but we’ll all be sad to see him go (though I really think he needs to give a paper next year).

I did make it to the dance but didn’t hang around long, really for two main reasons. First I was bored and didn’t work very hard at not being bored – you get out of things what you put into them and I didn’t put much into it. Second, my back was bothering me. As you age, you’d think you’d want to be sedentary and sit around. For me it’s the opposite. If I sit much over multiple days my back tells me it doesn’t appreciate it and by Saturday night I’d sat a LOT. I don’t know if dancing would have helped or hurt things and didn’t want to chance it so I headed back to the dorm and went to sleep.

Which brings me to why I’m posting at about 10 a.m. Sunday. What! you may ask – does Kalamazoo not last through Sunday? Do they not have sessions? It does and they do. I was planning to attend an 8:30 but not a 10:30 session as I didn’t see one which really interested me and that would get me on the road sooner. Well, I woke up this morning – wide awake with my brain not giving any hint that sleep might return any time soon. This was at 4 a.m. So after thinking on it a bit I decided that I might as well put wheels on the road which I did and I got home right about when the first sessions would have been starting, around 8:30.

I don’t have a long wrap-up. I enjoyed it as always. I appreciated having the chance to talk to several medievalists, particularly Guy Halsall and Cullen Chandler, more extensively than in the past. As always, I like interacting with grad students. I really appreciate their enthusiasm and it always fires me up too, a little. There are worthwhile things going on and a lot of good, young people involved in doing them. I enjoy this when it’s in agriculture and I enjoy it here too. Plus while everyone is a discoverer in life, quite often I find myself more on a par with grad students when it comes to where they are on the voyage, at least when it comes to history. I’m afraid in my field I must come across as an old fogy.

I’m a bit surprised how many people recognize this blog, which also means I’m feeling guilty for not posting more often over the past year or so. The sessions were good but it surprised me that it took me a couple to really get in the flow of following arguments. I don’t recall that from the past few times I’ve attended so evidently a gap of one year between hearing papers isn’t enough to atrophy my brain but three years is. We’ll see how that works when I get to session summaries. Medievalists construct arguments differently from what I’m accustomed to plus it’s largely textual where I’m used to charts, graphs and numbers. I know in general I think a bit differently from historians, at least when it comes to looking at evidence and this was another reminder.

And finally, we should talk books. I ended up with 21. That visit to Powell’s sent me above my goal of 20. I was right on target until, while making a last scan, I spotted a translation of, On Anatomical Procedures by Galen for $10. My shopping was very different this year. I only visited about 8 booths, those where I have historically bought a lot in the past. It helped me to keep from getting tripped up though I had to work very hard to stay out of Brepols. Love their stuff but I don’t need to be buying high end monographs right now. If you’re interested in seeing the damage, you can check out my LibraryThing account for books tagged, “ICMS 2015.” Hopefully the link works.

I’m glad I had the chance to meet and talk with some of you. For those I didn’t see, maybe next year. Something could always come up but as of now there’s nothing on the horizon which should keep me away in 2016.

I’ll close with an image which you’re welcome to take a look at any time you start to miss Kalamazoo.Bilbos

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Books, Conferences

 

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Kalamazoo Friday Update – Social Time and Not Farming Naked

It’s Saturday morning and I’m waiting for it to become late enough to head to breakfast. This year I’ve generally been sleeping well, but not long. I’ve awoken each morning around 4:30 a.m. The downside of this is that in pretty much every session I’ve been to, there’s been some point where I had to fight to keep from nodding off. I’ve not snoozed my way through much, but there have been struggles and I suspect there will be again today.

Yesterday started out with light rain but that stopped early and by midday the sun was out and it warmed up. I spent the entire day in Schneider and went to three very good sessions, including my first Anglo-Saxon one in some time. I also got some work done during the break which was necessary. The intern I’ll have starting at work next week will now have a job description.

I did the solitary dinner at Bilbo’s thing, then went to the Early Medieval Europe Reception in Bernhard where I ran into Cullen Chandler, Chris Armstrong, Guy Halsall, Julie Hoffman (briefly) and several grad students, some of whom recognized this blog (one said it’s an inspiration which was very pleasant to hear).

This was evidently my evening to be a party animal as I rejoined several of these same people back in Valley III for more libations. I’m not absolutely certain but I believe these were hosted by Brill and the University of Pennsylvania Press. Brill might argue as I own only one of their books but I have enough of Penn’s that I don’t think they’ll mind me having a drink or two on them.

I very much enjoyed getting a chance to talk to some of these folks. The evening was also interesting in that I was able to discuss some aspects of my real job with several people, particularly a cover crops project I’m just getting started. Remember – don’t farm naked! Anyway, for a few minutes here and there, I actually wasn’t the least intelligent person at this conference.

Today will of course mean more sessions, Pseudo Society, possibly the dance for the first time since my first Congress 15 years ago, and I still haven’t gone through Powell’s at the book exhibit. Current book count stands at 14. I’ve been very good.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2015 in Conferences

 

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Thursday Kalamazoo Update

A very short post while I wait the 30 minutes until the book exhibit opens. Gorgeous day yesterday, contrasted with today’s rain (a gentle rain though and it isn’t snow). Attended one good, one very good and one somewhat “meh” session yesterday.

Blogger meet-up update. Present were, for various portions of it, ADM, Dr. Notorious,Jonathan Jarrett, Steve Muhlberger and half of Vaulting and Vellum (I still do not know which one is Vaulting and which is Vellum). Several bloggers who I know are here did not make it, unless they showed up after I left.

As for the books, so far I’ve bought 13. Then again, I’ve only visited 5 out of about 70 booths. I did pick publishers I tend to buy a lot from – Ashgate, Oxford, Cambridge, Boydell, and Scholar’s Choice. If I get Loome, Powell’s and David Brown taken care of this morning I’ll likely have most of the damage done. We’ll see if it adds up to less than 20. I’d say the odds are roughly even at the moment.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Kalamazoo Eve

Thought I’d drop a quick note before I start running through my program book and finalizing which sessions I’m attending tomorrow.

Got away from home around 2:30 p.m. after I finished mowing my pasture. After a stop at a McDonald’s that didn’t realize they’re part of a fast food franchise I got here a little after 6. Saw Lisa Carnell and Marca of Medievalist in Transit and chatted a bit, plus gave Lisa my bottle of wine for the Blogger meet-up. Saw ADM very briefly as well a bit later.

I almost left my fan at home. I figured that with highs in the mid-70’s and low’s in the 40/50 range I wouldn’t need it but I threw it in at the last minute. Good thing. My room’s on the West side of Eldridge and with the sun shining in all day and the windows closed it had to be 90.

So I opened the window, turned the fan on and got the heck out of there. I sort of hung around the lobby for a few minutes, didn’t see anyone I knew so I decided to head to Bilbo’s. I looked around for a bit and still didn’t see anyone I knew (though I think I later saw Scott Nokes – his table was full anyway, if that’s who it was). So I sat down next to a guy at the bar and it was James McNelis. Now I’d never met James before but his name was sure familiar as he and Larry Swain run the Congress Facebook Group. James and I talked about a whole bunch of things before he left. Then I started chatting with some grad students but when they started doing what students are predisposed to do in a bar I got out of dodge. At one time alcohol was fun – now it’s a poison, at least more than the one beer I’d had.

I have decided to return to my old Congress standby where I introduce myself as “the least intelligent person here.” I’ve appointed myself the Colonel Klink of Kalamazoo.

I’ve also decided to finally come out with it and call medievalists crazy. See, they write these papers, THEN present from them. That’s just plain backwards. It is SO much easier to present first and write second.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work. A couple of weeks ago myself and a colleague from the University of Wyoming gave a webinar titled Enhancing Biosecurity at Fairs and Shows. There were maybe 40 or so on the live show though hopefully more will watch the recording. Anyway, after we were done we stayed on the line to debrief and one of the first comments from one of the organizers was, “That was great, you guys should put together an article on it.” Present first – that’s the easy part, THEN put a paper together.

The humanities have been doing things their way for a long time so I don’t suppose a note from Colonel Klink will get them to change things but this process sure seems easier to me. Guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m not a historian.

If you’re at Kalamazoo hopefully I’ll run into you over the next four days. The description still fits – fat guy wearing a baseball cap who describes himself as “the least intelligent person here.” That’s OK, I’m on vacation. And starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow, that means the book exhibit. I just hope I can control myself.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Conferences

 

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Next Stop: Kalamazoo

I’ve been waiting to get excited about this year’s Congress. It finally happened this afternoon while I was mowing pasture. I have no idea why.

Yup, this is the source of my finally getting fired up for Kalamazoo. It's funny - I bought a new tractor last fall. All the bells and whistles, but I still like put-putting around on this one to mow.

Yup, this is the source of my finally getting fired up for Kalamazoo. It’s funny – I bought a new tractor last fall. All the bells and whistles, but I still like put-putting around on this one to mow.

The plan for tomorrow is as follows. My truck is all packed, with trash to haul to the landfill. Need to do that, run a few errands in town and I still have a few hours’ worth of grass to mow, about 6 acres or so. Once that’s done I’ll clean up and head north. I have no idea what time I’ll get in. And other than the blogger meet-up, I have zero social plans.

And this year’s book goal? No more than 20. I have a mortgage again.

Hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Conferences

 

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