I could really use some balloons...

One of my favorite things during exam time at Queens was a Kappa Delta tradition that I helped start as a freshman. Each sister would tell the Academic chair how many exams, papers, and/or juries she had, and she would receive a bundle with that many balloons taped outside her door and a pushpin. After each exam, she got to pop one balloon, giving her a tangible reminder of what she had accomplished and also allowing her to get out a bit of frustration. I absolutely loved coming back from an exam or from turning in a paper and getting to pop a balloon. I would have had five this year--three papers and two exams--and four of them would now be limp and deflated. I would have gotten to make noise and scare my cats a little. It would have been great. As it is, I have to approach exams in a grown-up way and just keep track in my head of what I've accomplished. Hmph.

I turned in my historiography paper this morning for my research class, and it was easier and less time-consuming than I had thought it would be. My project was to examine a musical artifact and attempt to place it within a historical context, and I chose a shape-note theory and hymn book from 1854 (the third edition of William Walker's Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, which is actually still in use today in later editions). I spent four hours with my artifact yesterday in our Special Collections library, and I loved every minute of it. First of all, I learned how to read shape-note notation, which my grandmother in NC had once told me was the way she preferred to read music. I decided to skip the bulk of the book, the compilation of hymns, and instead concentrate on the rudiments section at the beginning. It was so cool. I had read in a romanticized New Yorker article that Walker had probably had no formal musical training, but there were all kinds of things in the way he taught certain concepts that were right in line with some of the medieval and Renaissance theory treatises we've been reading this semester in History of Theory. There was no way for me to know, based on this book, whether Walker had learned from these Latin sources or whether the shape-note tradition had just sprung out of older musical practices, but it was really fun to speculate. There were also terms he couldn't seem to define consistently, and it reminded me a great deal of some of the poorer Latin translations we read. I wonder if some of the confusion of terms comes from a more advanced education than people might have thought he had. Interesting to ponder, no?

I'm enjoying an all-TV afternoon, which I try not to do often but which I feel is well-deserved right now. I have a very strict schedule if I do decide to watch TV in the afternoons, which starts at noon with two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ellen DeGeneres' talk show, a Strong Medicine rerun on Lifetime, and a Gilmore Girls rerun on ABC Family. The last two are shows that I've never watched at their regular weekly times but whose reruns I'm really getting into. Television is scary like that... it's easy to get hooked on a show with smart writing, and there are always reruns of shows like that to distract me from being academically motivated. I get my required work done, but I never seem to do much outside the parameters of my classes. I realize it's my own fault, but somehow, I've always found it really easy to lose myself in the drama of whatever television universe I'm watching. In any case, I need to learn to restrain that a little. We thought seriously last year about dropping back to limited cable (which is basically the networks, religious programming, and several home shopping channels), but we decided we'd find it difficult to deal with that. We know lots of people who don't have cable but who are part of Netflix, so they get DVDs in the mail all the time and watch movies instead of television. It seems like a fun thing to try, but I'd have trouble not having access to CNN, Comedy Central (for The Daily Show), and Bravo, not to mention the withdrawal Jack would go through without a choice of sports channels. =) It's something to think about, but for now, I really enjoy television in moderation. Hopefully I can cut back a little, especially next semester when I'm writing my thesis and will be forced to do work "on my own" instead of for a class!

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You should have balloons for yourself, if that is what makes you happy! I like the idea of something tangible, and the balloon idea is even more satisfying than crossing it off your to-do list. I should suggest this to Steve, who is still trucking away at freaking dissertation revisions, poor thing. I keep reminding him of how far he has come so far, that in the grand scheme of things he is SO SO close!

I'm at Steve's right now (he is at work), and he is one of those people who does Netflix but doesn't have cable. Except in his case, he doesn't get ANY channels, not even the basic ones! Maybe it has something to do with living in a high-rise apartment building, maybe it messes up the signal? Who knows. But, I am glad that he doesn't have TV to distract me right now (though he does have the internet, hence why I am here!), because I am working on a final paper too! Later tater.
Yes, I think Steve needs many balloons. It's a good idea!

The distracting nature of the TV is its main drawback, yes. Steve was the first person I knew who got Netflix, and after you guys and others seemed to like it so much, we did a short trial, but ironically, we ended up getting season 1 of 24. Oh well. =)
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