Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sun evening

I can't believe tomorrow is May 1. Graduation for our grant teachers is May 19 and it seems like we just started yesterday.

We had our department banquet on Friday - the food and company was good despite the rain.

This week will be a bit more catching up and then getting ready to go to Denver with grant teachers. I'll spend Wednesday night in KC to catch an early flight. Hilton Honors has a new program for certain membership levels where you can pick your room a day ahead a time. I'm anxious to see how this program works.

I met with one of our oral history grant teachers last week and he's doing some great work. I will check in with the other two over the next few weeks also. One more grant activity the next week with a Gilder Lehrman Institute speaker in Kansas City and then a few weeks off before we start the intense June and July with grant activities. I really enjoy them but having the entire day scheduled means it is a different schedule and goes really fast but is also tiring. I'm excited about the NY trip and DC is starting to feel like my second home. But I can make that a good thing.

I'm also trying to figt in fun times during sabbatical in between the work. My brother discovered that the train trips to Mexico were just being revamped so we will be riding in Pullman cars between El Paso and Mexic City. The challenge will be getting the schedules of 3 adults together.

Some grading took place this weekend but that will end soon enough. I have some finishing up to do for the methods class tomorrow. We celebrated my brother's birthday last night and had a great time and the rain stopped for a little while today - just dry enough to mow the lawn so that can be taken off the list next week.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dan Cohen - Digital Humanities Blog - The Single Box Humanities Search

Dan Cohen - Digital Humanities Blog - The Single Box Humanities Search: "The Single Box Humanities Search
Posted to Google and the World of Search on 17 April 2006, 11:42 AM EDT

Google and the World of SearchI recently polled my graduate students to see where they turn to begin research for a paper. I suppose this shouldn't come as a surprise: the number one answer—by far—was Google. Some might say they're lazy or misdirected, but the allure of that single box—and how well it works for most tasks—is incredibly strong. Try getting students to go to five or six different search engines for gated online databases such as ProQuest Academic and JSTOR—all of which have different search options and produce a complex array of results compared to Google. I was thinking about this recently as I tested the brand new scholarly search engine from Microsoft, Windows Live Academic. Windows Live Academic is a direct competitor to Google Scholar, which has been in business now for over a year but is still in 'beta' (like most Google products). Both are trying to provide that much-desired single box for academic researchers. And while those in the sciences may eventually be happy with this new option from Microsoft (though it's currently much rougher than Google's beta, as you'll see), like Google Scholar, Windows Live Academic is a big disappointment for students, teachers, and professors in the humanities. I suspect there are three main reasons for this lack of a high-quality single box humanities search."

My main concern is that the regular Google search engines points students to wikipedia. While it has some great information on some topics you can't find anywhere else, the lack of reliable validity of authorship troubles me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Chronicle: Daily news: 04/25/2006 -- 01

The Chronicle: Daily news: 04/25/2006 -- 01: "How the National Archives Struck a Secret Deal on Documents With the CIA


A top official at the National Archives and Records Administration said on Monday that the main purpose of the organization's controversial deal with the CIA was to make sure agents did not mishandle documents as they reviewed them for possible reclassification."

More available in the complete article - free at the Chronicle website.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It's Monday, it must be DC

I'm off to DC again.

Did some research on our 115 attendees. I'm set to go on this one. :-) Glad I have an authors' meeting keeping me busy all day tomorrow so I don't spin my wheels too much. I have dinner plans for all but one night and am going to a play. Grant teachers will start arriving tomorrow night so it will be a great meeting. Plus, I'm _almost_ caught up at home!

Saturday, April 15, 2006


OK. This is my second weekend working on relaxing. Yes, I have to work at relaxing. I did get everything that absolutely had to be done as far as work finished during the regular work week. Yesterday I feel behind on around-the-house things because when I asked for the update on how many we had attending the TAH symposium next week, our numbers had soared from 30 at last count to 115! This is great - esp. since many people integral to the grants nationally and to the historical profession (our main audience at this point although we want participation by a wide diversity of the grant stakeholders and we seem to have that).

After celebrating Easter with the family, I'll go to a fraternity meeting to get some closure on last week's drama. The alumni board member who asked me to be the adviser will be there and always does a great job.

My favorite senior colleague went with me to work on the squirrel problem at the farm. The pest control expert will be back in the area on Monday and help me get going. I don't like sharing a dwelling with squirrels. Apparently my efforts to keep them away from decks and door trim have sent them to the attic. Luckily, the only wires they have chewed can be accessed in the attic and don't require tearing up a wall.
The other great news this week - the electric at the farm is finally complete and I now know the mystery behind the plug-ins that did not end up in the soffit and ended up hanging down from them. Some various workers not working together basically. But now it's all set.

On the colleague front, she's finally fed up with some of the same situations I am and we have a much more shared vision. I admire her tenacity but sometimes you don't have to deal with absolutely all the problems other choose to create. The best conditioning is to ignore them. And I get an "A" on that front this week - very successful management to encourage not having to manage at all.

And I'm about to earn at least a "C" on weekends. Sheesh. . . still need to work on separating work and personal, huh.

Anyway, this week should be an even bigger week than the last week in DC. The foundation for sabbatical is definitely set. Meetings with two publishers plus a play with my mentor and friend. It will be great to see a play in DC.

There were a few challenges this past week but all were successfully handled. It's just been a busy month but it will make May even better.

The rain hasn't appeared yet so I may get some more time outside after I walk the Shadow man.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tuesday update

It was a major milestone for me when I didn't spin my wheels out of control working last weekend after two 4 to 5 day travels in a row. I knew it would all be there Monday. Of course, I did cheat and do a little work email, etc., but will save most of that for later in the week.

The best news, Dad was elected mayor of my hometown and I will travel there (only about 35 miles but across a state line) this evening to take him to a celebration dinner and see him installed. It's a big day for him. He was successful in a career for a wide variety of reasons although he will usually tell you it was only because no one wanted ot travel 12 states in a car like he did. But his people sense is off the charts and an essential skill for a public servant. He also loves interacting with people on a variety of levels. His family had to reinforce it was not a situation of if he could do it but if, at 70, he wanted to do it. And, the bottom line is that he does. Mom was active in school board and park board a few decades back and is having fun watching as she knows the full implications of what public service truly entails. :-)

Am enjoying the windy farm but had a non-rushed morning (kept waking up way too early on the weekend which isn't normal this close to the start of daylight savings time but probably has something to do with being on east coast time last week which actually meant a 2 hour change for my body clock). Will hit a chunk of the grading and then head to help Dad get ready. He knows it's a busy time but doesn't understand I will be there when needed. I couldn't be here for the election party because of a federal committee meeting in DC (and he also didn't know for sure what early week in April until a few weeks before because he had been so easy). Tomorrow will be busy with home repair people.

My insurance agent did an oustanding job of finishing up my claim with the adjustors who wanted to spend lots of time trimming a few hundred when my initial salvage efforts and hard labor saved them thousands of dollars. It will be nice to see that check and it's nice knowing my insurance is worth its weight in gold. Plus I have an agent who is willing to go to bat for me when necessary.

So, that's a load off that has existed since December 11.

The methods course went well yesterday and they turned in their last lesson plans. I also attended the fraternity meeting on Sunday (I'm academic adviser)after they endured a situation that, as I told them, separated the men from the boys. The methods class has a week off from class (they've earned it) next week when I'm headed back to DC and have a guest speaker upon my return.

May 19 is graduation and sabbatical officially starts at that point. A colleague is worried about my mental separation but positive events in DC and KC have only underscored the importance of putting my mental and physical energy into endeavors which are appreciated and rewarding and truly have an impact on the world around me.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Everyday Economist ? Blog Archive ? Understanding China

The Everyday Economist: Understanding China

I'm Still Here

I thought I would have more time to blog on the road but instead spent more time interacting with people at the conference and the committee meeting. Our grant teacher who presented at the National Council for History Education meeting did an outstanding job. Seeing the two presidential libraries - the LBJ in Austin and the George Bush Sr. in College Station - was one of the highlights as well as the road food we found that day. (interesting that google seems to be able to find everything . . . )

I was home for only about 12 hours when I headed out for DC for the second ACERA meeting. I looked forward to getting to know the other committee members better and was not disappointed. I was even invited to dinner by the boss and the restaurant across the street (which I had never noticed before) has a great view of the Archives.

On my way home, I stopped for a meeting in Kansas City that was equally as productive and demonstrated that I should not be shy about selling my skill sets in a variety of venues.

So, in some ways, a colleague's advice to be sure to mentally prepare for sabbatical has already provided a foundation of widespread roots from which my career and personal life can only grow. I'm more optimistic about my entire life as a whole than I have been in a long time (and didn't realize that until I was writing this).

Two recent articles on blogging - one in US News and another in the Washington Post - demonstrate that this interaction with colleagues (or perceived interaction since I don't have a site meter and haven't created the niches that other successful bloggers have) is well worth the investment of time and energy.

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