Friday, April 09, 2004

Research Methods
I read the other night that it was the ruling family of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies who funded the beginning of the excavations at Pompeii.
But what was with this Two Sicilies? All the maps I ever saw had one Sicily on it. The Sicily.
Last night I got curious. I have no 'puter at home, but I do have a set of the 1964 Encyclopaedia Britannica.
I looked under "Kingdom of the Two Sicilies" first. Nothing. Then "Two Sicilies." Nothing again. Then "Italy." Whoa. Too much information. Then it finally occurred to me look under "Sicily." There was a lot there, too, but not as bad as "Italy." It said "See also Naples, Kingdom of." That entry was where I finally specifically found that the Normans who took over Sicily (yes, it's true - they not only got England but part of Italy - who knew?) also gained some ground on the mainland around Naples, and managed to keep it by pledging allegiance to the pope.
Then today a professor came in looking for a book he called Tax Dodges for Academics. That didn't come up in the catalogue. So using a process mcuh like what I went through last night with the encyclopaedia, but using on-line databases, I found his book, and much more quickly than I found out about the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, too. It turned out to really be entitled Tax & Financial Guide for College Teachers and Other College Personnel.
The professor was stocked. After I found it for him he ran to the director's office. I think I got a compliment - or, rather, the director got a compliment on the helpfulness of his staff.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Good, Bad, and Pompeii
One of my classes ends Saturday. The other ends next Wednesday. The Wednesday class was never hard, it was just reading and writing which had to be done. The Saturday class is the one I had a really hard time seeing any point in.

A friend loaned me a copy of a novel, named Pompeii, by Robert Harris. It's got me all reminded about the things I wish I was learning about in school. I've been staying up too late reading this week and sleep deprivation probably has something to do with it, but I'm feeling a little frustrated.

I mean, who wouldn't be fascinated by the Villa of the Papyri?

Monday, April 05, 2004

Stoneybrook Steeplechase
On Saturday I went to horse races with my friend Rob and a woman he knows named Dominique. Dominique is a woman of colour from Haiti, and she's from some sort of priviledged background. She has a sister who lives in Tunisia.
Stoneybrook used to be known as the biggest cocktail party in the southeast. It's not quite what it used to be. It's held in a new place these days, and there were a few years when it wasn't held at all. But there was plenty of imbibing going on Saturday, from college guys wandering around with Jeungling 12-packs to the mimosa set-up in the trunk of a Bentley.
I concentrated on bloody marys until late in the afternoon when the people next to us were packing up and gave us a three-quarters full bottle of champagne.
And somehow I didn't have a hangover the next day.