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Friday Afternoon Confessional: On the road again

I confess that I am heading back to Michigan this weekend, as my grandfather died last weekend and his funeral is on Saturday. I confess that he was afflicted with Alzheimer’s and that my primary reaction to his death is a feeling of relief that his suffering is over.

I confess that my plan of focusing on teaching and putting off any new research project this semester, while perhaps necessary in the long run, has left me sometimes bored and frustrated in the short run. I have been planning on writing a book on the devil as my next project, and now I’m trying to figure out ways to get started on it over the course of next semester (as well as potentially working on learning to read Hebrew).

My current idea is to focus on getting a feel for the secondary literature, with an emphasis on figuring out which primary texts are most important and relevant for my approach. Secondary scholarship is perfectly suited for commute reading in my experience, so it will be relatively easy to integrate this into my schedule, and it will concretely set me up for more concentrated work this summer. With any luck, I’ll be able to work up a proposal by the end of the summer and to start writing in the fall.

In the meantime, however, I need to actually finish this semester. I confess that Shimer College’s approach to the end of the semester, which includes a week-long self-directed project for most students (i.e., those who aren’t taking comprehensive exams or working on their senior thesis) and a final conference where students meet with a committee consisting of all their instructors to reflect on the semester, is in many ways very compelling — yet it is proving to be incompatible with my preferred “get it over with” approach to final grading. I will survive, however! And thrive! In part by doing most of my grading during my train ride to Michigan.

Speaking of which: I confess that after two years of near-constant Amtrak travel, I have finally signed up for their rewards program. I confess that to be as rigorous as possible in missing the point, I even signed up after buying my ticket for this weekend. Who knows what rewards I could have earned had I taken the two minutes to sign up before buying my first ticket to Kalamazoo? I confess that I’m an idiot.


December 9, 2011 - Posted by | Friday Afternoon Confessional


  1. I confess I liked MiT’s attempt at humor last Tuesday.

    I confess that being really ill is proving to be a great escape from the world. I am reading, Gass.

    Comment by Guido Nius | December 9, 2011

  2. my condolences, AK. i confess i threw away melatonin which was giving me side effects only to find it listed last on the natural sleep aid i bought from pharmacy, i didn’t read past chamomile and failed to notice it was written there when i bought it, but since it has many other ingredients melatonin’s side effects maybe are not that pronounced it seems to me, hopefully, and i will use it only when it’s really impossible to sleep or should find something else

    Comment by read | December 9, 2011

  3. I confess to frustration with myself for engaging in a debate on Facebook. My general rule is to try to limit my use of various media to what they do well. For example, I don’t watch the news on TV because they can’t go in depth like you need them to if you want to be truly informed. Similarly, I don’t engage in arguments on Facebook or Twitter because it seems absurd on sites where anything but brevity is out of place. So I keep it light and funny.

    Well, when a friend who works for the City of Toledo mentioned the police were talking about installing crime cameras, I did a little research to discover a consensus that they aren’t all that effective for reducing crime. I said as much and pointed out that the police chief advocating them said that Toledo had solved all 11 homicides that had occurred during his tenure – without the help of cameras. Another friend, whose son was murdered while working at a gas station, said she advocated for the cameras because a surveillance camera was key in catching her son’s killer. I will never have a starker reminder of why I don’t engage in arguments on Facebook. Well, that and the other arguments were “there’s already cameras everywhere” and “there’s nothing to worry about if you don’t do anything illegal”.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | December 9, 2011

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