In Cold Blood

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is a book about the nature of violence in America. It tells the story of a family, the Clutters, who were murdered by two former inmates of Fort Levenworth, in Kansas. To me, the two most interesting parts are the buildup to the murders and the trial and appeal process.
The buildup to the murders show two different kinds of lives in America: the lives of a rich, rural family and the lives of two paroled ex-convicts. The Clutters had may have seemed like the all-American family, and in a way I guess they were. The farther was a strict but compassionate businessman. The son as somewhat of a loner, good with his hands. The daughter, beloved by all but told by her father to break off her relationship with her Catholic boyfriend. The mother with some sort of mental illness, perhaps a kind of depression, going off to various mental hospitals. This book could have been rewritten as a study in mental illness, focusing on the mother and the two criminals, especially Perry. The personal life of the criminals is a story of poverty: one criminal, Dick, had a fairly normal childhood, if poor; the other, Perry had both a poor and abusive childhood. Both seem to be trying to improve their station, but the means by which the think to do this is through robbing a rich farmer.
The trial and appeals process delved more deeply into the theme of mental illness. In Kansas at the time, the test for whether or not an insanity defense could be used was called the M’Naughten Rule. This rule stated that if the defendant could distinguish right from wrong, no matter how else their mental illness affected them, they were legally sane and could be tried normally. However, Capote mainly uses this as a way to talk about the law; I wish he would have used it to delve more into the nature of mental illness and America.
It does seem like this book tries to concentrate on too many elements, and is too bound by the exact timeline of how things happened. The backstory, the childhood of the criminals is only revealed when the police are told this backstory. This leads to a 20 page interlude right after the criminals had been captured, which could have been well put elsewhere.  Overall, however, I liked this book.

Possible masters paper topic

I’m thinking of writing my master’s paper about Web 2.0 technologies and archives.  I don’t really have it narrowed down any further than that yet, although by the middle to end of the summer I’m going to need to.  I’m taking research methods in the fall, and so it is recommended that I have my topic in mind going into that class, so that by the end of it I will have a full master’s paper proposal ready to go and start working on in my last semester.
I should probably focus on one sort of Web 2.0 technology: blogging, flickr, facebook and twitter all come to mind.  Perhaps some others are out there that people are using, but I think those four are four of the main ones that are out there right now.  I think what I’m going to start doing is create a category for each of those in Zotero and start plugging in articles I find along the way.  Then, when it comes to the end of the summer I’ll be able to really see how much information there is out there, and hopefully one or more of those articles will spark an inspiration for a study that I can perform.

Colonille black tea

Today I’m trying a new kind of tea, Colonille black tea which is made by serendipiTea.  I usually don’t really like black teas, and recently I think I figured out why.  Its the same reason I don’t like coffee: I think that its the fact that both of these drinks are roasted before you brew them, and I think the roasting puts in flavors that I don’t like.
But back to Colonille.  On the website it is described as being

Sumptuous, graceful & inviting. A tea that kindles elegant evenings, sweet thoughts & long walks. Beautiful bouquet with a distinct chocolatey taste coupling the vanilla, finished with a full red color, rich palate & distinct memory.

It was given to me by my friend Elizabeth, so I figured I should at least give it a chance.  I brewed it for about 2 and a half minutes, which is what Liz recommended.  When I first smelled it after brewing it, it kind of  smelled like it was a semi-weak hot chocolate; I think that’s the vanilla flavoring.
Taking the first sip, it seems to have a pretty mild flavor; not very much roastedness, which is good, but also not a lot of sweetness, which is kind of what I expected through the smell.  I think I’m going to have to try it with milk, sugar, and milk and sugar.
Adding sugar makes it taste even more like hot chocolate, and adding milk to the sugar makes it taste even MORE like hot chocolate.  Its really quite strange.  The flavoring helps cut the roasted taste of regular black tea and makes it quite drinkable.  I can’t decide how I best like it, straight up or with milk and sugar. I think I’ll have to try more of both to determine. This is definitely a very pleasant tea.

Whole Foods and food

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can raise our good crops?
To fall like dry leaves and rot on our topsoil
And be known by no names except “deportees”

“Deportee” by Woody Guthrie
I’m thinking about changing where I get my groceries, from Trader Joe’s to Whole Foods. Both are pretty similar stores; they both like to get organic foods, foods with no preservatives, things like that. Whole Foods, though, has two advantages: its a real grocery store, with a full meat counter, full bakery, etc etc and that they really try to get a lot of local food. I think the thing that did it for me in the end was the fact that they have gallons of milk in glass bottles from a local dairy farm. Local food is a thing that I like; it allows you to contribute to the local economy and keep local farmers in business against big corporate farms. Also, you get the freshest food; the milk that I got from Whole Foods is definitely fresher than milk that I’ve gotten from Harris Teeter. So I think I’m gonna keep going to Whole Foods, for now at least.

Blogging here, there, and everywhere!

In addition to this blog, I am now (at least occasionally) blogging on two other blogs out there in the world: Southern Sources and BlueNC.  They’re both very different, obviously: Southern Sources is the blog of the Southern Historical Collection, where I work as a manuscripts processor.  Things posted there are probably going to be specifically about collections, programs, and other things that the Southern Historical Collection is doing.  BlueNC, on the other hand, is a community blog for Democrats in North Carolina.  I’ve only written two posts there, but if I have more political things to say, I’m going to say them there and not at a bigger site like Daily Kos.  I like reading Daily Kos still, but posting my own things there is not very worthwhile.  Anything that I write just gets taking off the recently updated board quickly, never to be seen again, and I don’t write enough or well enough to develop a loyal following of readers.  I think I might crosspost most of what I write on the other websites too, or somehow link to them.  But we’ll see.

Weekend!

So my girlfriend is her this weekend from Virginia, huzzah!  This morning we went on a brisk walk down a trail near my apartment.  I think its stuff like this that I need to do to keep exercising on a regular basis.  I like going to the gym better than just running outside; I feel like I can run farther and its easier to listen to music and such distractions in the gym.  For me, its hard to get to the gym since I don’t live on campus; I either need to go when I can park on campus or I have to bring a bag and clothes and shower in the showers there.  Neither of these options are really appealing to me, although I drive there more often than I bring my clothes.  There’s a comment on American society there, but I’m just going to leave that one alone.  So I think a brisk walk/jog in the morning is a good addition and it will keep me from just doing nothing and losing anything that I may be trying to build up by going to the gym.  It also helps that Christi is here, because I much prefer working out with someone; it encourages me.

PANIC! at the apartment complex

So this week I’m feeding a friend of mine’s two cats in her apartment. One of them, named Killer, is very outgoing and is always right at the door when I come over to feed them. The other one, Newbie, is much shyer, but she usually comes out too when I come to feed them. Today, however, it was just killer at the door when I came in.
“Thats fine,” I thought. “Newbie will come out when I start putting the food into the bowls.”
However, when I started putting food into the bowls, there was still no Newbie.  So I started looking through the apartment for her; its not a very big one.  I grew more and more nervous the further along that I went.  Once I looked under the bed and couldn’t find her,  I really started panicking.  So I ran outside and did a loop around the apartment building; maybe she had somehow gotten out, even though I was sure I had locked the door and it had been locked when I got back this morning to feed them.  I came back inside and grabbed a bag of treats and started rustling it; that usually brings cats right out.  I did it all over the living room, and then sat down on the bed and did it some more.  And then who do I see slinking out of the kitchen but Newbie.
Relieved.  But where the heck had she been hiding that whole time?

ha!

Ha ha!
I FINALLY got www.shadeball.org to redirect to http://shadeball.org. And you know how I finally ended up doing, after days of strife and anger and stupidity?
sudo ln -s /etc/wordpress/config-shadeball.org.php /etc/wordpress/config-www.shadeball.org.php
Thats all. 10 seconds, and it was fixed. UGH

Finally up and running

Alright. I’ve finally got my new WordPress site up and running. I switched from Drupal to WordPress because WordPress looks better, and it does the things I want to do built in instead of having to work at it for a long time with Drupal. Drupal’s a great piece of software, but its not what I need right now. Its actually kind of similar to my switch from Debian to Ubuntu. I really liked Debian, but I finally got sick of taking hours to do the things that Ubuntu does built in. Yeah, I’m sacrificing some freedom, but its mine to sacrifice.
But yeah. I had to install WordPress three different times, because I’m bad at life. The first time I installed it on my Debian server, but I had somehow borked up my MySQL and couldn’t figure out how to fix it so I just installed a Ubuntu server. Then I got everything up and running and working well, until I changed an option that tried to redirect everything to www.shadeball.org, which isn’t supported right now(although I’m trying to fix that).

Subways and pathways

Pathway in Hyde Park
This is a little pathway near my house in Cincinnati, Ohio. It connects two parallel streets, cutting through the middle of a large block. Until I looked at Google Maps today, I didn’t notice that it ends up directly in front of a high school, Clark Montessori. But Clark is a magnet school, drawing kids from all over the city. I don’t think too many of them are going to be walking to school. My other thought is that perhaps Clark was a local high school before it became a magnet school… but I haven’t been able to find anything about that yet.
I really like learning about the roads, bridges, and transit history of a city. I feel like it can tell you a lot about what the city was like, what its founders were thinking, what the people who built various roads were thinking. For example, there’s one road in Cincinnati, Duck Creek Road, which is now split into 4 or 5 unconnected parts because of the interstate. But if you drive on some of the chunks, you can get a glimpse of what the city, or at least some of its houses, looked like before the interstate was built. There’s also things like the abandoned subway that was never finished and the inclines that used to take people up the steep ridges that surround downtown.
One of my favorites is the subway. Where the subway was going to be built was originally a canal. When German immigrants moved to Cincinnati in the middle of the 19th century, they weren’t allowed to live in downtown because the Know-Nothings wouldn’t let them. Instead, they had to live on the other side of the canal. It became known as the Rhine River, and all the German immigrants lived over the Rhine, and thats why that neighborhood is called Over the Rhine. But after the canal was emptied, they decided to build a subway in it. But it ran out of money, and so they built a road on top of it. You can still get into the subway (not legally unless you’re on a tour) and you can see all the half built platforms.
I just think its an interesting bit of history about the city.