Happy March! We were granted another sunny weekend with temperatures in the 50s. February did not feel nearly as long as endless January, but it didn’t fly by, either. But I think we are out of the bitter cold days, finally.
It’s grading time! Papers in Privacy and an exam in Political Protest. I am blessed with excellent graduate assistants, though, so I am very fortunate. And I have a couple of guest lecturers in protest, so I am easing into spring break. I’m on a law school panel about the Hong Kong protests this week, and there are a couple of committees for which I have to do some work, but otherwise it’s pretty quiet. Now that I’m not part of the governance apparatus for my department I can actually catch my breath and do things I want to do.
On Sirius’s recommendation we also started watching the British TV series Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn, and were immediately hooked. The show is based on a series by Ann Cleeves and is set in northern England (the Angel of the North appears in the opening credit sequence). Vera is the stereotypical gruff loner detective but gender-switched. She doesn’t like children, has few friends, drinks, and is devoted to her job. But she cares deeply about the people around her, she just can’t/won’t show it. Blethyn is just as good as you’d expect. She plays the role with warmth and depth, and I love that she’s not playing her as the more common tough-as-nails type. There are several season so we have plenty of episodes to look forward to.
We also watched a very enjoyable independent film starring Keanu Reeves, called Henry’s Crime. Reeves is a highway tollbooth attendant who is tricked into driving a bunch of acquaintances to a bank robbery and is convicted of the ensuing crime. In prison he meets James Caan, who’s been in for years and is avoiding parole. When Reeves gets out he meets Vera Farmiga, an actress, and starts to have the first real adventure of his life. It’s entirely unbelievable and very low-key (to the point of being comatose, according to some reviewers), but the acting and Buffalo setting work well. If you’re a Keanu fan, check this out (we found it on Hoopla); you’ll get to see him performing scenes from The Cherry Orchard as a special bonus. He’s pretty good!
Book awards season is heating up. The Republic of Consciousness award, which is a small, newish award emphasizing form-breaking fiction, announced its longlist on the 26th and the International Booker Prize longlist came out on the 27th. I’ve only read one of the books from either longlist (I read Love when it was longlisted for the National Book Award), but I have several of them in my TBR. I won’t try to read them before the shortlist announcements, but I’ll be following discussions and reviews of them and will eventually read quite a few of them, I imagine.
Liverpool lost!!!! Their record-tying winning streak came to an end at Vicarage Road, where they were decisively thumped by Watford 3-0. Watford has been languishing at the bottom of the Premier League, in the relegation zone, since the beginning of the season. Even two managerial changes couldn’t keep them above it, despite the fact that they have a talented team and the newest manager seems to be a good fit. I watched the match and still can’t tell you what happened, except that Watford were excellent and Liverpool were not. They’re still 19 points ahead and the title is not much in doubt, but they’ve been barely winning games they should handle easily and they lost the first leg of their Champions League match away at Atletico Madrid. I’m hoping this is a brief blip. Kudos to Watford, though, and having become the giant-killers, they’d better stay up!
I’ve mostly been on top of things in terms of teaching and admin obligations, and I’ve even had the chance to read work-adjacent material that isn’t prepping for a class. I hope this is the start of a pattern.
We did another longer walk in Forest Park this weekend, 7+ miles on a warm and sunny afternoon. It went well and we’re getting used to the new packs. I think I’m pretty set on what I’m taking next week, and our loads should be lighter than last time. I’ve also been rowing diligently and it’s started to feel normal
My last dilemma is about my reading material. I can’t decide whether to take just the phone for ebooks and one mass-market paperback as a print alternative, or just take my ereader as usual. The electronic minimalism of having just a phone and a book I can leave when done is very appealing, but I’ve haven’t traveled without an ereader since I got one. We’ll see.
My Project 333 experiment is over. I’ll write up my thoughts on it in a separate post. I’m glad I followed it for two months, but I am equally glad to have the freedom of my closet back. Like other challenges, it’s helpful for discovering new ways to approach something that may have become stale, but I can’t see dressing this way all the time. That said, there are other fashion challenges out there that I may pick up, because I like the senses of discovery and creativity they bring about.
One week to spring break! And we’re taking the last two days of this week and starting early, so I have to get a bunch of tasks done before we leave, not to mention teaching my classes. But it is lovely to think we’re over halfway through the semester. And out of January/February at last.
I did a major wardrobe cull on Friday, so I have also abandoned Project 333. But I did count up how many clothes I have got in my ‘current wearing’ sections (i.e. not summer clothes or party clothes or specialist clothes) and it came to 72. It does feel like a lot in most sections (how many long-sleeved striped t-shirts does one person truly need?) though I was shocked to end up with only 2 skirts. I’ve taken one large bag to the charity shop and another to recycling, and I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. I would be interested to know what other fashion/clothes challenges are out there, though. Years ago I was in a Livejournal group which used to have occasional ‘theme days’: Bletchley Park, Festival of Britain, Literary Heroines etc. The trick was to dress according to the theme without wearing an obvious costume.
Can you bear to read books on your phone? I find it wearing on my eyes and too intrusive to really fall into the book. I would always take my ereader.
@Ros: I’ve been cataloguing my clothes and I have way more than 72, which includes multiples of things in different colors. I need to do one more good cull. I have the closet space to keep them, which is deadly. Your LJ fashion challenge sounds like so much fun! The one I’m thinking of is the 10×10 challenge, which is 10 pieces for 10 days. That feels manageable to me and should have the same effect of discovering combinations I haven’t thought of.
I haven’t read much on my phone in the last few years, but I started reading ebooks in the 1990s on a Palm Pilot and then read on my Palm smartphones or a PDA (I still have an ancient Sony Clie somewhere) until the Sony ereader came out in the mid to late 2000s. If I read on a reversed screen (black or grey on white) it’s not as bad.
I am with Ros above. I simply cannot bear to read books on my phone. I cannot even read long emails.In your shoes, I would take my Kindle.
I hope you have a lovely time on your walking trip. As usual, I look forward to your trip reports.
@Keira: Thanks! I’ll definitely post on our trip. We’re going back to Norfolk and walking Peddars Way (an old Roman road) and part of the Norfolk Coast Path. That is one area of Britain that hasn’t been flooded, although we’re expecting plenty of mud.
We don’t read as much on these trips because we’re physically worn out at the end of the day and we go to sleep pretty quickly. I don’t think I made it through an entire book on either of our last trips during the days we were walking/hiking. But we definitely read on trains, buses, planes, etc., and we’ll have hours on those.
To be fair, most of Britain has not been flooded! Cumbria, the Severn Valley, some of south Wales, and a few other places. But we are mostly keeping our feet dry. You will be fine in Norfolk!
@Ros: LOL, this is true. 😉 It’s good to remember that even in times of widespread flooding it’s a minority of land and people who are affected. The Missouri River flooded badly last year, and we drove past a lot of it on our way back to STL, but even then it was only in parts. And we know better than to try and complete Offa’s Dyke outside of late spring/summer whether there’s been unseasonably heavy rain or not. But seeing the photos of Wales and Shropshire, including places we’ve been recently, was disconcerting.
We mostly expect mud, just because, well, fields, cows, and rain. But the weather forecast is quite promising for most of the time we’re there. We’re really looking forward to it.
Sunita, Please post update on your upcoming walk. It’s great armchair traveling for me.
I do read on my phone, but only for short periods on my commute—usually a library book where I switch back and forth between phone and tablet. On the other hand, I read most of the Odyssey on my phone while commuting! I think for traveling I wouldn’t want to rely on it because of battery life. Otherwise, for a week I would put up with it. And I imagine most of the time you’re reading you’ll be able to charge as well.
Looking forward to your walk posts! I love the armchair traveling as well.
PS I’ve been catching up on Elly Griffiths’ Norfolk-set Ruth Galloway mysteries, if you want something light and local to read. I think she evokes setting well.
@Fsn: Will do!
@Liz: Thanks for the Elly Griffiths suggestion, my library has a bunch of them and I just borrowed the first one. TheH is looking forward to it too. He’s been ripping through the first Vera Stanhope novel this weekend, so he’s ready for another mystery.
We are both taking backup battery packs, which mitigates the power issue somewhat, but that is definitely an issue. Luckily our airplanes have had power outlets for each seat now, and trains generally do, but buses don’t always. I’m inclined to try phone-only just to see what it’s like.