AKRON: 13 April 11: So this is Spring

So, it's been coolish for the last two weeks before this one. I was beginning to wonder when Spring would get here.

This week - well, it didn't actually come this week either. What we got was a sneak preview of summer. There was sunshine, temperatures in the high twenties (Celsius) and up to 30C yesterday. The blazers were set aside, the shorts came out, the sheets were discarded for the best part of the night. It came to a head last night, with rain, wind, and lightning. Today has been cooler, and I'm contemplating pulling out my fleece as I sit in the draft from the window.

Meantime, my husband is sitting on the sofa, bareback and in shorts, and completely content with the situation...

What I'm reading now: 13 April 11

I've read some AJ Jacobs before, and rather enjoyed his style of immersive (sometimes called "stunt") journalism: learning about a topic by trying it out, and then writing about one's experience. So when I came across a copy of his book The Year of Living Biblically, I grabbed it. It's a topic that's had some press recently, due to the success of another book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood  by Rachel Held Evans. (I haven't had a chance to read Evans' book yet.) Both authors undertake to follow the letter of the law for a year - Biblical law.

I found Jacobs' approach interesting. He is of Jewish background, and is agnostic (possibly atheist; I don't have the book handy to check my facts, sorry), and took on the challenge to follow the Bible literally for a year to prove that it is impossible to do so. He takes it on as best he can, even though he thinks it's doomed and he feels foolish with an untrimmed beard and blowing a shofar at the beginning of each month. Along the way, though, he finds that his experiment affects him in ways he hadn't expected. Jacobs' writing will amuse and might also make you think, whether you believe in Biblical literalism or not.

I've also been reading some books on, specifically Arthur Morrison's Martin Hewitt stories, and I'm currently reading Ernest Bramah's Max Carrados stories. I enjoy the detection, the clean classic lines of the story, and it's a pleasant change when not every story involves a murder. On the down side, there can be some racial stereotyping going on which I find considerably less pleasant, but it's also educational about the period.

AKRON: 13 April 03

I have a confession.
I'm not quite sure how to word it, but, I am - well, no, not OCD. That's still a diagnostic term, and it's been inaccurately used to the point of stupidity. Not anal-rententive, either. That sounds... unpleasant. And dated.

My confession, then, is this: I am a fussbudget.
Not, I have to say, about everything. Certainly not housekeeping, but that's a whole other confession. More specifically, I am a fussbudget about labeling.

One of the first things I did once I settled into my position here was to go over the desk and bulletin board and pull down everything, rearrange it, and in most cases, redo it on the computer for posting purposes. I combined and condensed notes, discarded outdated information, reformatted and realigned lines of text, and changed fonts to make notes more distinctive. I also relabelled all the file folders in a nice clean font (Felix Titling, for the font geeks).

Next - replacing the handwritten inserts in the fleet vehicles' key tags with a tidy (if unimaginative) Times New Roman. Clean, clear, uniform, and legible - what's not to love?

More recently, I relabeled the hooks and holders for the fleet vehicles' keys and mileage paperwork. I had to. They were labeled with the punch-style label tape. They were old, battered, hard to read, and not even all the same colour, so I made nice signs for each. I got a few comments and compliments on the fact that it was now so easy to tell which clear acrylic holder was designated for which vehicle.

Today, though, was my moment of realization that I was, indeed, a labeling fussbudget. I took down all the labeling for the fleet vehicles that I had so carefully created a month or six weeks ago... and I replaced it with larger, colour-coded signs. Yes. It's true - blue paper for the blue vehicle, white for one of the white ones, goldenrod for the gold one, grey for silver, and orchid for the second white one. Not only is the holder labeled (a decently-sized 4x4", with 55pt Arial (bolded) for the vehicle names), but so is the hook space, and the fact that the vehicle has a toll road transponder. I have even redone the key tag inserts in the same colour. I draw the line, though, at confessing how much time I spent trying to get the keys to hang so that the coloured insert in the tag would be visible.

And now I'm sitting at my desk, noticing a few squares of paper with handwritten notes on them, a sign that explains a procedure that is no longer followed, a chart that is missing some information I need with some regularity, a phone list that needs updating...

Fussbudget. What can I say?

Akron: 13 March 11: What's that bright thing in the sky?

This weekend, we had sunshine.

This is a big deal. It's been grey and hazy pretty much continuously for the last month, but on Saturday and Sunday, we had sunshine. The sky was blue, the sun was bright and warm, and I wandered around Lancaster Central Market with my jacket unzipped.

Yes, we were in Lancaster on Saturday morning, checking out some of the downtown sights. Lancaster Central Market is an indoor farmer's market. It has food stands, delis, produce, and a couple of craft-type places. And, lest I forget, one stall that sells only fresh celery. Nothing else - just celery. Best celery available worldwide, according to its fans, but still... celery? as a viable business plan? I am once again amazed at how much one can specialize in this neck of the woods. There were a variety of small shops - antiques and various specialties - that we visited as well. Didn't buy anything except a couple of packs of Beeman's gum, but I expect to be going back again ere long to purchase some teas that are not available in Manitoba for various family members. (incidentally, there are official Middle Earth/Hobbit teas, and they are products of Lancaster County.)

Yesterday, more sun and a trip to Philadelphia. After we dropped some people off at the airport, we went to see the Liberty Bell, wandered around downtown for a bit, then out to Passyunk Avenue for cheesesteaks. We tried a cheesesteak by the upstart contender for the title of Best Philly Cheesesteak, Geno's Steaks. We're back in Philly this coming weekend, so we'll try out the original then, at Pat's Steaks. Contrary to what you might think, the steak is not a solid chunk of meat - it's shaved and fried, and served in a hoagie bun with onions and cheese. Rather tasty, too, but Pat's and Geno's owe at least some of their popularity - and both of them had twenty or more people in line at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon - to the hype surrounding the rivalry, as well as to the quality of the product. Geno's was unquestionably efficient, though - we waited less than ten minutes, closer to five, to get to the head of the line, and less than a minute from placing the order to getting our food.

But the sunshine - that was the best part of the weekend. On Saturday, we dragged chairs out onto our miniature deck and sat in shirtsleeves, feet bare, basking in the sun and eating crackers, cheese, and olives. It was glorious.