Expatriot Act

The university of these days is a collection of books.

15 February 2007

An Olde Fashioned Malady

Tuesday I ventured out into the cold to get some cold remedies as my two roomies were still asleep and I was in dire need. When I came back in I was coughing, Adam asked if I had received my Victorian Trading Company Catalogue of Maladies and picked out some consumption (referring to the Victorian Trading Company catalogues I get sent to the house with various replicas of weird Victorian stuff).

Today I was blind with pain from the stomach muscle I pulled while coughing, so I called the doctor to see if she had advice (or preferably drugs). She asked me to come in and I obliged, and upon my visit I learned that perhaps I did order a little something from the Victorian Trading Company Catalogue of Maladies as I have...


After picking my jaw up from the floor my first question was, "Don't you get vaccinated against that as a child?" I mean, I know my parents have had their negligent moments but they're not Scientologists or anything. She said yes, I was vaccinated, but it can wear off after 18 years or so. Would have been nice to know that. So I'm at home until Tuesday. When I called to have my co-worker put up my out-of-office reply she told me the whole department was in an office looking up Whooping Cough. I've inspired a real Victorian bout of hysteria!

It's not as serious in adults as it is in children but I'm probably still pretty contagious or whatever. Adam, who's been taking care of me, is away for the weekend and Debbie's been building a fortress in which to hide since I started coughing on Saturday. So it's just me, raspberry vegan cheesecake, codeine, and bad movies on TV-- the height of Victorian decendance. Perhaps if I collect alms from the right souls I can get that fainting couch I wanted.

10 February 2007

Quantify Your Love

This week is going to prove to be an extremely busy one, between schoolwork, work, hosting my Ulysses group meeting at my house (I'm making vegan potato soup and offering Guinness, of course) and giving a lecture at Drexel. So busy in fact that I don't really have time to think about it being the feast day of St. Hallmark. That is a good thing. But oddly the subject comes up in the strangest of places, like my course reading.

To give an example outside of cataloging, imagine trying to model something like love. Love is an abstraction, but it is something we all know and recognize. Exactly how do we do that? To make a model of love that can be used in research or in some other kind of rationalized practice or process, we operationalize it. Operationalizing makes it possible to observe, count, or verify something such as love. However, operationalizing something very abstract, such as love, is not only difficult, it can cross the line into the comical. For instance, because we cannot see love,we have to identify things that are observable to indicate the presence or existence of love. Thus, one could operationalize the presence of love between two people by counting the number of times they kiss each other and the amount of time they spend with each other, or observing whether they live together, and so on. Doubtless, these actions are easy enough to verify, but no matter how many of them we come up with, any model of love gives a rather sorry representation of the real thing.

Here's sending a wish to all of you lovers out there for the unquantifiable Real Thing.

08 February 2007

The Kids Are Alright

Ian MacKaye, always sticking up for the little guy.

Can I get an Amen?

02 February 2007

Profiles in Awesomeness: Septa Operator 55

I know what you're probably thinking, me praising a SEPTA employee? Has she finally fell off her rocker? Well I'm just as shocked as you are, but I just felt that I needed to give some big Illadelph ups to my morning train conductor, who identified himself this morning as SEPTA Operator 55.

Normally the conductors on the Market-Frankford El (and the Broad St. Line) are anonymous and only speak when absolutely necessary or totally pissed off. But not S.O. 55. Every morning after the Spring Garden stop he exclaims, "Good Morning Philadelphia!" just as the waterfront appears and disappears from view. He also gives us helpful courtesy hints to make our ride more enjoyable..this morning he informed us that smoking is prohibited not only on the train and in the underground platform but on the platforms that are outside as well! I was surprised to hear that, thanks for the info, S.O. 55!

But the real reason I'm writing this praiseworthy post is regarding an incident sometime last week. A stop or two into my train ride, when the doors opened, someone hurled an empty soda bottle out of the doors onto the platform. One thing you may or may not know about me is that I DESPISE LITTERING. I have almost gotten in physical altercations with strangers over it. It's just one of those things that really gets my goat, I think it's so disrespectful to the other inhabitants of this fair city. Anyway the doors were closing, and S.O. 55 reopened the doors and announced, "Will the person who just threw that bottle on the platform please go retrieve it and put it in the receptacle. This train is not moving until you throw away your trash." Boo-yah! Take that, littering scum! That person was probably so fucking embarrassed as a train full of eyes burned a hole in him, he went onto the platform, picked up the bottle, threw it in the trashcan and got back on the train. Once the doors closed, S.O. 55 told us passengers about how very dangerous it is to litter on SEPTA trains and platforms, as bottles and debris can get on the tracks and cause fire hazards and service interruptions. I couldn't possibly hide the grin on my face, and I think I saw a few other smirks as well.

So SEPTA Operator 55, I salute you.