Category Archives: Musings

The New King of Wessex

As an assignment for the final project of my History of English course, I chose to write a blog as King Alfred. I will be “reblogging” them here, or you can just follow King Alfred the Great. I hope you will enjoy!

DIY Blues

I find myself longing for my garage back home.

My fingers itch for the feel of sanding wood furniture.

My manicured fingers look foreign–there should be paint on my cuticles and wedged under my fingernails.

My work clothes have been at the bottom of a drawer, paint splattered and worn out, for far too long.

I haven’t used a power tool other than the drill/screwdriver in ages.

I miss the intoxicating smell of stripper and turpentine.

Small crafts are fun, but they don’t invigorate me the way upcycling or repurposing a piece of furniture does. Heck, I even miss home improvement nightmares!

I should be writing a paper for my Shakespeare Seminar class, but as much as I love old Bill, I just can’t shake this desire to transform a room or a piece of furniture.

But, alas, my desires must be put on hold—at least for another 4 weeks.  After I say So long to Bill and modern Brit Lit, it’s hello to paint, toxic fumes, and sandpaper!

My Long-Time Obsession with Office Supplies

When I was a little girl, I used to look at and play with all of the cool stuff on and in my mom’s desk. She had a long metal ruler that flexed, some kind of long horsehair brush (I think it was used for dusting out the typewriter), a beige heavy metal stapler with a matching tape dispenser, and cool ledgers, and a desk pad.

I lover pens and mechanical pencils. I sat in awe as I stared at all of the different types of paper clips. I punched holes with three different types of hole punchers into any scraps of paper that I could find. I used those paper hole reinforcements–you know those little circles with a hole in the center–as eyes on my notebook covers.

I even played with her rubber cement! It was the coolest thing ever! I also loved her big, heavy, silver scissors. I have no idea what brand they were, but they were beautiful and fun to use. She even had a tiny pair of scissors in her desk that I loved to use.

I also loved her filing cabinet. There was something magical about the way the files were organized. I loved that you could run your finger down all of those File tabs until you found what you were looking for. Organization at its peak.

Everything was so grown-up and sophisticated. I wanted to work in an office someday, or have a job where I got to use all that really cool stuff.

1980s Office Supplies
1980s Office Supplies

Today I am grown up. My obsession with office supplies has not waned one bit. The only difference is that instead of them being magical, they are practical and useful. They are tools. However, I still get excited about purchasing them. I appreciate quality tools. Moreover, I enjoy organization.

Today I received my first good quality stapler and tape dispenser. My Swingline 747 stapler is beautiful, sleek, heavy, and works better than any stapler I have ever owned.  I just used it for the first time to staple a 20-page journal article and the Swingline staple went through like a knife through butter. No jamming. No hang-ups. I am in love. Now I cannot wait to fill my tape dispenser and use it for the first time!

I had forgotten about my youthful fascination with my mom’s office supplies.  Using that stapler seemed to bring it all back to me. In fact, I think I will give her a call now.  Just to say thanks for never yelling at me whenever I would play with her office supplies. If not for her, I would not be the quirky, weird person that I am today.  Thanks mom. I love you for that.

A Society of Convenience

I’m all for a bit of good technology. Heck, I am dying to get my hands on a pair Google Glass and the Cicret wrist band, but when does it become too much? When Staples® began its Easy Button™ marketing campaign, I thought, “I wish it really were that simple!”

Samsung, LG, and GE will soon launch Smart refrigerators that are programmable and let you know when you need milk, eggs, juice, etc–for a hefty price, of course!  What is available these days are robot vacuums, cars that park themselves, and smart phones that are basically pocket-sized computers, TV’s, and stereos.  With Smart Home Systems, you can automate just about everything from lights to door locks using your smart phone from anywhere in the world. It’s the stuff that I dreamed of as a kid when I watched shows like Star Trek, Buck Rogers, and Battlestar Galactica.  And then there was Hal from 2001 Space Odyssey, which set me straight.

When was the last time you walked into a video store? Do they even exist? I have been using Netflix for about 7 or 8 years now, so I don’t even know if video stores are still around.  Between Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix, I don’t even need Cable television, but I do still use their Internet services.  Has anyone recently bought an album in a brick and mortar store? I certainly haven’t!  Several chain grocery stores have latched onto the desire for convenience and now have online grocery shopping.  That’s right, you can sit at your computer, tablet, or use your smart phone to order your groceries and choose a delivery time.  Pretty convenient huh? In this era of online ordering, Amazon wants to make it even easier and more convenient to order the items you need.

Amazon has taken the Staples® Easy Button™ marketing ploy and turned it into a reality.  The Amazon Kindle Store now features the Dash Button that is connected to your wi-fi and Amazon account.  Currently, there are different products that you can order with just the push of a button. Low on coffee? Press the Maxwell House button. Low on detergent? Press the Tide button. No need to worry about sitting at a computer to order your products.

And my grandparents thought that vending machines were a great invention! Ha!

I’m a big fan of innovation spurred on by capitalism, but sometimes I just need to sit back and let the advances of technology soak in.  Is it too much too soon? Will this spur the next phase of consumerist gluttony?  I really don’t know.  I prefer to hunt for bargains and “discover” new things while I shop.  I enjoy the personal contact with sales people, cashiers, and floor managers.  I don’t mind waiting in line, where many good conversations have begun with complete strangers. I like watching the little kids discover the candy aisle.  The weirdo in me also likes to see what garbage everyone else is buying. I’m in no way saying I am perfect, or that I don’t partake in the many conveniences of modern technology, but there are just some things that I never want to give up for the sake of convenience. I order plenty of things on Amazon and other websites, but that’s never been about convenience for me.  I just like a good bargain.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Technology and Convenience. Please feel free to chat away!

Wondrous, Ambitious, Fabulous–The Short Story

Discounting the short story as light reading or just something that you were forced to read in a class is to also discount the Epic Poems and every novel ever written. Beowulf, one of the oldest Epics, if written today would be no more than a short story. It is short. It has all the requirements for a story—a beginning, a middle, and an end. Coleridge’s masterpiece, “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” could have been a short story too, though I’m glad it isn’t. Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” could readily be considered a collection of short stories. Which brings us to the question—how did the short story evolve? One could spend a ridiculous amount of time on this subject, but most literary historians could agree that the popularity of the short story is rooted in the 19th century, when magazines became popular and affordable.

Okay, sure the history is boring. Most of us do not care how the short story evolved and became a popular format; in fact, most of us don’t read short stories unless we have to. But I have come to admire the short story. A good short story that is. Take for example, Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” published in 1894. It takes about fifteen minutes to read, and at least an hour to haphazardly analyze. She places us in the midst of a late 19th century woman’s hope for her new future when she learns that her husband has died. What does that say about the women of the era? With a flick of her pen, Chopin gives us a glimpse into the mind of a woman, and then suddenly and effortlessly shocks us. Hawthorne gives us stunning imagery and plenty of symbolism in “Young Goodman Brown” that takes modern writers chapters of exploration to accomplish.

What the short story offers is a roller coast ride. They are short, fun, and even frightening. A good short story will give you hours of pleasure as you ponder its meaning, themes, and social agendas. I find myself often reminded of a short story that I had once read when events in my own life reflect the themes, questions, and societal politics. This is not as odd as one would think, for isn’t every “chapter” of our lives a short story too?

Photo Source:

The Bedford Introduction to Literature, 4th Edition 1996