Friday, February 28, 2003

As winners write history

I finally finished my second read of Sharon Kay Pennman's The Sunne in Splendor. My foray into Plantagenet history is fairly recent, compared to my studies of the Tudors, Romanovs and Stewarts. My fascination with Plantagenets began in the summer of 1999, when I was living in Bloomington and I went to see the community theater's dramatization of Shakespeare's "Richard III." I was fascinated. Geneology dictated that the Tudors and Plantagenets were intricately interwoven with each other and since then, I've been trying to track down the 'real' Richard III.

I've had some help from the Richard III Society, a UK-based organization bent on redeeming Richard Plantagenet (aka Gloucester) for the various crimes attributed to him. For a bit of background, Richard III was only king for just over two years. I found this to be a very readable biography of Richard III.

I haven't yet had the opportunity to read the original source material from that time period yet. That's a project for this summer. Right now, I'm depending on various source materials - from my own collection of history books - to try to figure out what the truth about Richard III really is. Most of my background material for this time period comes from acclaimed biographer Alison Weir's The War of the Roses (aka known as The Hundred Years War) and her Princes in the Tower. The latter biography I do not recommend as Weir has a tendency to be biased, regardless of her subject and "The Princes in the Tower" is possibly the most flagrant abuse of that bias. (Alison Weir has a way of inserting her own theories, not necessarily based on any historical evidence, into her biographies. She advanced some theories about Anne Boleyn's health in The Six Wives of Henry VIII that has never before appeared in any other text. That being said, I do consider Weir's "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" to be one of the best book on the subject).

Anyway, back to Richard III. I'm a shameless apologist for the man. Evidence before his reign as king does not show any noticeable desire for power. Rather, it shows him as a highly loyal subject to his brother, Edward VI, and a good, competent governor for the North of England. In addition, unlike many men of the time, there is evidence that Richard III was faithful to his wife (his two illegitimate children were born prior to his marriage to Anne Neville, aka Anne of Warwick. There is little information based on Anne, but Jean Plaidy's The Reluctant Queen is a good Anne-centric novel). Based on the first 30 years of his life, it's so hard to think that Richard would step completely out of character and become the tyrant that Tudor historians portrayed him.

It could be my own tendencies to redeem Richard III based on his character that I enjoy "The Sunne in Splendor" so much that I decided I needed to purchase my own copy of it. It is a highly accurate novel - possibly the most accurate portrayal of the time and attitudes out there. Frankly, the late 1400s were little documented at the time or rather, there is not that much documentation extant today. So a lot of what has survived to this day has been the work of latter-day historians, such as Sir Thomas More, Croyland and de Commynes. Here is a reading list of some of the sources and evaluations from that time period.

Sir Thomas More is possibly the best known 'biographer.' I use the term loosely as much as of what More has written regarding the character of Richard III, both in terms of physical and mental description, does not match up with contemporary chronicles. Note that Sir Thomas More was around 7 years old when Richard III reigned; More's history was written well after Richard's death. In addition, this history was never formally published during the reign of Henry VII - the man who defeated Richard at Redmore Plain (aka Bosworth Field) - as some of the allegations made were damning to members of Henry VII's court. More was the one who advanced the idea of Richard's deformaties - possibly helped out by Edward Rous (who contended that Richard was in the womb for 2 years!). Shakespeare based his Richard III on much of what Rous and More put forth as an accurate history.

Pennman manages to deflect all allegations regarding Richard's later life and activities skillfully. She doesn't completely absolve him from guilt, but she also makes it clear that he wasn't a tyrant. He was a man in love with his wife, deeply devoted to his brother, and wanted only what was best for England. I'm a hopeless romantic so I prefer this version of history than the one that became prevalent during the reign of Henry VII.

The explanations Pennman offers - for the death of Richard III's nephews, the reason why Richard took the crown, where Anne Neville disappeared to, why Richard and Anne no longer seemed to be together towards the end of Anne's life, Richard's attraction to his niece Bess (Elizabeth of York, later on Queen of England, as she married Henry VII and was the mother of Henry VIII). All of this is explained - but without a subversion of contemporary history. Consider this a solid recommendation for a well-written historical fiction that can also be taken as a history lesson - but one that goes down a heck of lot easier than most texts.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

I'm thinking on rescuing the Blog Wars participants from Gilligan's Island (or the Blue Lagoon - I forget where everyone is now) to alleviate some of the boredom and tension people are feeling lately. It seems like people are down in the dumps and are feeling uncommonly ill-willed toward their fellow fen. It could be a case of just winter blahs (because, face it, the weather has sucked big time) or it could be disillusion with fandom or generally a lack of inspiration or motivation to be fannish in general. Whatever it is, fandom just feels... different. Not to mention RL stuff is rather freaky right now - all with random terrorism alerts, war with Ira, and economy that is clearly ailing. All of this contributes to a not-so-good feeling in fandom or in general, online stuffage.

The Blog Wars, I think, are a good way of curing what ails us all. That and staying away from incoherence and pettiness online. Though, sometimes that's easier said than done. If the urge to be just plain mean strikes, just invoke the Jerie!Principle: "No, no, no."
I was able to witness southern behavior once again through the eyes of my friend. She was amazed at some of the things - how doors were constantly being held open, how everyone addressed us as "ma'am," how friendly everyone in the stores was. She was really impressed - slightly freaked - but impressed. I was thinking of that this morning when I got on the bus. It was the 8:50 am bus, so pretty crowded but I managed to get a seat (the last time I was on this bus, I had to stand and actually fell when the bus turned a corner, as my grip on the pole was weakened by someone leaning against my arm. I have a nice black and blue bruise on the back of my shin from that). Anyway, my bus stop is the second to last stop from campus, so on the last stop before campus, more people got on. About six or seven guys stood up from their seats and immediately moved into the aisle so that the women could sit. I've seen that so many times - unless the bus is very empty, most of the guys don't sit unless the women have.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Our current Supreme Court make-up scares the heck out of me. Of course, it's not something we think about everyday. Heck, I didn't even think about it until today's ruling re anti-abortion protests. Granted, they looked at an interpretation of the anti-racketeering law, which in theory makes sense to me. If you don't fall under the definition of the law then you can't possibly be convicted of it. So, yes, disappointed I am, but I'm no legal scholar re this particular point of law. But to me, it's dismaying that the right to choose is being eroded over time and I can only see more problems in the future if we don't take more notice. If this issue means something to you, then the next election should mean a lot to you as well.

And I'd like to clarify here, for the record, that the right to choose does not mean that one is pro-abortion. Abortion takes life - I understand this. I'm not, in anyway, an advocate of the practice and I am personally opposed to abortion. What I do support, however, is the right for women, for men, for families, to make the right choices for them. I do not believe that either state or federal governments or Joe Bob down the road has any right to tell me what I can and cannot do when it comes to my body. Nor do I feel that I have the right to tell Joe Bob what he can do with his body.

Mind you, this stance is a belief, not an opinion. As such, I'm unlikely to change my views on this subject.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

It's a cold, cold, cold day here. Apparently, 30 degrees F with a windchill factor that makes it feel like 21 F. Gotta love those bursts of "wintery weather mix", but I bet the Northerners are laughing at us. I've seen a distressing number of people here wearing only hooded sweatshirts - really, most people don't have the clothes here to cope with that kind of weather. My car is still iced over - I was too lazy to defrost this morning so I hopped the bus instead and since the busses are running on schedule, I figured I'd just let my car thaw out when it was good and ready to thaw out.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Due to the rain, I have a bit of free time on my hands. A little too much free time. So if you're free, AIM me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I just purchased Windows XP ($15), Windows XP upgrade ($5) and FrontPage2002 ($5) from the University software program. XP is for me, FrontPage for a former coworker who is taking advantage of the reorg to start his own business. I was originally going to go with Windows 2000 as per the Brother's recommendation, but then he just bought a new laptop for himself that runs XP. He approves so that's all I needed. Plus, I was sold when I saw this version - academic - comes with a full copy of Office 2002. Nothing can possibly rock more than that.

Jerie says that wiping the hard drive is easy. I'm rather frightened myself. But she gave me her phone number and said to call her if there are problems. I just might do that... so now you know what I'm trying to do on Thursday night. If it fails miserably, at least I have this weekend to haul the computer to the Brother and have him work his magic.

I'm such a dork. I've already programmed my VCR for tomorrow's "Little House on the Prairie." I happened to check the schedule and found that it was yet another episode I haven't seen. Which, btw, is a rare occurance. I've been watching "Little House" forever. We even got it in Germany (before our television went kaput). I think that there are just a few eps I haven't seen and "Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow" is one of them.

I'm in negotiations with the Brother on where to go for dinner Saturday night. Now that he's employed again, he wants to go to this new restaurant in the South, on the river, and I just looked it up. Prices range from $20 to $50 for an entree. We have to go Italian because my friend is a pretty picky eater and doesn't like spicy food - hence the usual Tex Mex eateries are out. I'll keep you posted on this issue of vital importance.

I just found out that in March, there will be a sci-fi convention here. A friend of mine is coming down for it. Or rather, her husband is attending and Sarah is only coming if I'm free to hang out. I asked her about Trek and she said that there was no Trek at the con. So, we'll be doing a long, leisurely lunch at the burrito place and generally just hanging out. So yet another attempt to attend a con has been thwarted.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

It's All Jemima's Fault

Jemima convinced me to enter the Awesome Author Award contest once again. Two of my fics are already-rans, due to my non-prolific J/C writing. After the "Die J/C Die!" debacle, I'm really suspicious of contests that are not ASC and are most definitely based on things other than quality. That is the only explanation why fics, which obviously haven't even been spell-checked, can win. Jemima thinks alien voters. I'm inclined to agree with her. After all, what else could possibly explain the unforgiveable neglect of authors like Penny and monkee?

Sour grapes? Not entirely. As recent conversation with Tori made clear to me - just because someone wins 'shiny' JPGs doesn't mean that their writing is any good. And that goes for me too. I fully acknowledge that my fic might be substandard to some people, but I take pride in the fact that regardless of anything else, I always use spell-check.

Monday, February 17, 2003

I Heart Me My PC

I've been geeky today, trying to track down the source of my computer problems. I lost Yet Another Email to the dreaded kernel32.dll error - which basically means one of my programs is doing something that it shouldn't be doing.

In my search for help, I found this site which is made 'specially for those of us with the Microsoft love going on. I spent some time trolling the message boards. I see a lot of the same issues going on - and most people agree that the ME O/S is basically crap and to either upgrade or downgrade. Which makes me feel comfortable in my decision to upgrade to Windows 2000 Pro. Yes, it's probably overkill for my needs, but I'm not going the XP route and I'm most certainly not buying a Mac (if someone sends me $2000, then I may consider a Mac but until then...).

Some of you may be amused by the Microsoft Humor section, especially the Top Ten Things Likely to be Overhead From a Klingon Programmer.

The last reminds me of when I was working in Corporate on a major software project and every day, I got a list of new software bugs. In our venacular, they weren't bugs, but "undocumentated extra features." Uh-huh. There were enough "undocumented extra features" that the project was killed a mere 6 months after I finished my assignment. My co-workers always blamed me for killing a $80 million project. It's not my fault that many of the "undocumentated extra features" happened on my watch.

I was just the business analyst, ya know, not the programmer. (The programmers were fun too - we had four vendors, including home grown and they all blamed each other for everything that went wrong. No, I wasn't sad when the project was killed, but then I went two months without a project and that was rather dull).

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Is Google buying the 'net?

Check this out. Pretty wild, huh? I'm not sure what it all means and I certainly don't have an opinion worth a penny at the moment. It's a definite 'wait and see' thing for me.

Though, I must be one of the few people online who doesn't care that yahoo has basically bought everything. It makes sense to me. You've got a new industry - ie the Internet - that starts out as fragmented with many, many players. A highly fragmented industry with high competition will eventually lead to consolidation. The early days of the Internet had way too much competition due to low barriers to entry. There were a lot of suppliers in those days, and the buyers - ie you and me - were weak and without power. The shake-out and consolidation have ended up turning the table - theoretically, we the buyers have more power than before, though the real winners in the Internet game are the advertisers. Before, they were at the mercy of the online companies. These days, the suppliers are practically giving away their advertisement in an attempt to move excess 'inventory.'

So back to the yahoo thing. As far as I could tell, with the exception of that webring things, Yahoo's gobbling up of the internet was nothing but positive for me. Suddenly, I only needed one username and password for the majority of my online activities. In addition, my clunky geocities URL became a nice and pretty URL, thanks to Yahoo.

I also don't really care if Yahoo is spying on me. I did object to their TOS from a few years back when they claimed to own the content on Geocities websites indefinitely. But in general, Yahoo's 'watching' of me doesn't bother me in any way.

I'm a marketer, so it could be that my view on this subject is skewed. I believe that better information leads to better marketing and better products. After all, if Yahoo doesn't know what I'm doing and how I'm doing, how is it going to make itself better for me?

In addition, Yahoo provides me services for free. I'm not paying for either of my two Geocities websites nor for any of a myriad of Yahoo email accounts of Yahoogroups. I play Literati for free and I get to check my television listings and get airfares for absolutely no charge. So Yahoo wants to put a cookie on my computer to see what I do and where I go, so really, why should I complain? Especially when it's information in aggregate?

I think I give up a reasonable amount of privacy when I get online. I mask a bunch of information about yours truly to the best of my ability, but I also know that I'm tracked regardless of where I go. I could prevent that by using a proxy service and by turning off the cookies in my browser. The first I tried and it worked to an extent, and the second is too much work - cookies, I have to say, make my life a heck of a lot easier.

Of course, I don't want to see advertisements online and I definitely don't need any more spam or direct mail and that's another rant entirely, and I've already gone way off topic as it is.

But what I really meant to say is, can anyone else see the Internet being run entirely by Google one day?

Friday, February 14, 2003

Love me, hire me

The round-table conferences went exceptionally well this morning. I went last year and sat down with a car manufacturer and wasn't too impressed. So this year, I didn't exactly jump when the notice came around that the conference was back. But then there was an empty spot for a marketing position with a pharmecutical company and I figured I'd be an idiot not to go. Plus, the event was business casual and not business dress. So I really had no excuse not to go (sometimes, the idea of stuffing myself into pantyhose is enough to keep me at home). As Lin put it, "It's a lose/lose situation. You feel bad if you go, you feel bad if you don't go."

The pharmecutical company (Eli Lilly) was really looking for sales reps. I managed to get one question in about their training program and then cornered the recruiter to give him my resume even though I'm pretty sure that sales and I are not a good fit. But beggers can't necessarily be choosers and he did promise to send my resume up to the company's headquarters. I understand it's a long shot, but at least I got my resume in, and a contact name.

The second chat was really by chance. Lunch was provided and I saw an empty seat next to Lin so I went there and turned out, I was sitting right next to the recruiter from Dell. At first I was like, "Uh oh, how did I end up next to the recruiter? What am I going to say" But then I remembered a recent news item on Dell, re their leasing of floor space from malls and Sears and I asked about that. Once the ice was broken, I found it easy to keep talking. I know I have to be aggressive about this, so the recruiter was trying to slip out, but I managed to grab him just before he walked out and handed him my resume. He gave me his email address as well.

It's too much to hope that anything will come out of it, but the truth is, I've been entirely too passive about the whole job search. In four months, I'm going to be out there on the street with very few options. There's always the other academic program but I'm so tired of reading and of studying. I'm ready to be out there again and be an employee, a corporate drone once again. Anyway, in terms of getting my resume to the recruiters and being aggressive with the questions, I did much better than I usually do at these kinds of things. So, cross your fingers for me. May isn't so far away.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Blog Rerun

Once again, in honor of February 14, I present my annual essay on the topic. It's a day early, I know, but I won't be on campus again until Monday and I can't update the blog from home atm, due to the demise of IE. The formatting on the essay is currently messed up; I'll fix it when I get home.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I talked to the people at the International Affairs program. I've been invited to Interview Weekend- which is next week. Lynn is coming next weekend. And she's not flying here. I have to drive 2 hours to go pick her up. So this is a minor problem. So the people were very nice and have agreed to let me just do half a day on Saturday so I can leave by 1 pm to pick Lynn up. I still slightly dishonest for even feigning interesting in this program because really, what I want is a job, not another 2 years in academia.

Speaking of jobs, there is a career fair going on in the business school now. I'm debating, but probably won't go. I may consider tomorrow - I'm just so anti, well, I went to the career fair last semester and most of them were not hiring, especially not MBAs. They were just here to make sure they maintained their relationship with the university. Which I understand, no problems there. It's just really hard to have to go to these people and ask them for a job when they don't have one. I am going to a conference on Friday afternoon and sitting down with a major pharmecutical company. Hopefully that will go well.

I did email S. this morning and ask her for some email addresses of people I worked with in Corporate. Unfortunately, I hadn't brought them with me. One of them tried to recruit me the spring before I came here. I didn't interview then because I'd gotten admission here, but now, I can look into it. We'll see. I haven't got that many non-techie contacts. But there are signs that people are hiring again. People are starting to get interviews, more companies are coming... that kind of thing. I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best!

Thursday, February 06, 2003

The pest people came by today. The apartment was a complete wreck, especially by the computer. At any rate, they came back and I was kind like, "Huh?" Turns out my building is officially "infested" with these non-stinging wasps (you were right, Sara!). Apparently, they feed off cricket larvae - which is odd. There is no cricket larvae in January. Since the exterior of the apartments is stucco, it's also not a question of wood-burrowing insects. In addition, the exterminator noted that it was only the first floor units that had this problem - the second floor units seemed to be immune. He speculates that the bugs live between floors. So he blocked off my vents today with paper to see if that stops it. He'll be back in two weeks, I guess, to see what the deal is.

My computer most definitely has the Chernobyl virus. I just got it in the last two days or so. If you sent me an attachment or if I sent you one, please scan your computer for any potential viruses. This one has basically infected all of my exe files which means I've basically got to uninstall everything and reinstall. I'm hoping to keep it fairly stable for another two weeks and then have my brother look at it. On a positive note, I cleaned this afternoon instead of playing on the computer like I usually do. So the vaccuming is done, part of the bathroom cleaned and all of the kitchen done. I really do like the place to be clean - I just can't be bothered to clean it when there are pictures to diddle, fic to write, blogs/LJs to read, chats to attend...

McAfee responded to my cry for help. Amazingly fast. I haven't absorbed their instructions yet, but I'm going to. When I'm awake. Right now, I'm thinking, I might get away without a reload of the machine. Only a bit of my software works - McAfee deleted the executables for MS Office, Photoshop, Real Player, etc., to name a few. IE is also acting funky so I'm going ot have to reload that. I still haven't figured out where the virus came from. I suspect Photoshop, but it's really hard to tell. It could also be from Kazaa. At any rate, Kazaa and I need to part company. I've been having ethical qualms about the program from day one and the reason I downloaded it no longer exists. So I can't justify having it on my machine - especially since it is a good source for viruses.


Wednesday, February 05, 2003

I think I have a computer virus or some other catastrophic problem with my computer at home. My brother recommends a hard drive wipe. Since he's not here, and I won't be seeing him for weeks, I may be doing it myself. This could be scary. If you don't hear from me (don't fret, Liz!), that's why. And now, I'm going home, with my newly burned copy of virus software and seeing if I can do combat. Wish me luck, kids.
The Best Movie Blurbs of the year. Do you remember any of these movies? Some of the might ring a bell, but really...

In other news, I've cut my hair. I'm going back to my 'professional' look. So it's just above the shoulders in the back and chin length in front. It's hard getting used to my hair not being tied back from my face anymore. But at the same time, I'm intensely relieved that I won't have to comb it 80 million times a day either. However, this also means that the flat iron, curling iron and hair dryer are back in my life after a nearly 18 month absence. ::sigh:: At some point, I also have to retouch my highlights. I'm thinking that March will be a good time to do that. My hair, regardless of length, takes way too much time.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

I watched the Columbia memorial service today instead of working on my paper. This was an ungood idea, and Liz rightly pointed out to me that I need to avoid these kinds of things. But the service was beautifully done. Thirty-three counties in this state have debris. I find it amazing and horrifying all at the same time. And I can't even begin to fathom at horrible it must have been, how terrifying it must have been for those astronauts. I can't get that out of my head.

And so now, I'm going to listen to Liz. Because I have a paper due tomorrow.
Advance warning for Lori: Michael Jackson on television this week.
Today's marketing class blew in a big way. A really, really big way. Made me wonder why I had woken up. I hate that. I mean, I'm paying for a seat and so obviously, I should go there and get something out of the class. But today, nope, nada. Our prof talks too much. Gets off track. Gets distracted. And then, nothing happens. She has even forgotten her own syllabus - graded our class notes which we turned in last week even though the syllabus clearly says that they won't be graded (I oughtn't complain - I got full credit, but it's the principle of the matter). Grrrrr...

I'm so half-hearted about everything. I really need to get my act together.

C. was thinking he'd get the flu. A. has the flu and he spent the weekend taking care of her. I'm rather terrified if the flu is coming this way. It's a particularly virulant strain and schools have been closing down because of it. My cousin had it a couple weeks ago and was out from work for eight days. I haven't had the flu in years and really, other than my chronic headache problem, I haven't been seriously ill since my horrible, horrible case of the roto virus in 1999.
I just sent a follow-up email for the interview I had in December. I still haven't heard back from the company, so I figured that I have nothing to lose. I want to remind them that I am interested in the job - my friend who got laid off about 18 months ago and found a job less than 3 months later, said that she followed up extensively with everyone. My problem is that I'm not a 'nagger.' That's not the right word, but I hate bothering anyone to do anything and I invariably get tongue-tied when I get on the phone to get after someone (though, when I was working, I managed to get through most of my 'confrontation' type things with minimal stress). I had a meeting with the director of the GBCS - rumor has it that he's been given 3 months to turn the results around. He asked me what he could do to help me find a job and I really had no idea. It was really pathetic.

I talked to Dr. P outside of the business school yesterday. He apparently let class out early (so we get out early on Wednesday as well, yes!) about my terrible negotiation. I asked him about having extra practice or tips on how to stop the downward slide. He told me it was okay to say 'no.' He said, "Just practice saying 'no', but make sure you're saying 'no' for the right reasons." Apparently my personality profile is "people pleaser" which means I just want everyone except for me to be happy. Which is possibly one of the reasons why I'm such an ungood negoatiator.

The parentals have reached safely. It's weird not having them here. I probably won't realize that they're out of the country until Thursday night at 10 pm, which is when I usually call them. I'm going to have to find someone else to call at 10 pm on Thursday night. It'll be very weird not to be on the phone at that time.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

It bugs me, absolutely bugs me, when people make statements about war and military without any evidence to back it up with. Ack. See here.