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Notes from AHA and Todd's visit

So AHA (American Historical Association) had their yearly meeting in Denver this past weekend; there was a SHARP panel on teaching book history, which I had put in for last year and got rejected, but Todd and Kevin got accepted. Todd opted to come stay with us as we could take the bus to the convention center, which was great, so we got to work on our Early Modern Poet battle cards on the bus ride and then got registered and whatnot. To be honest the AHA program was one of the most boring programs I've ever seen; we met with Kevin and had coffee and talked book history for a while, then grabbed lunch and went to hang out in the exhibit hall, which was *great.* So many presses and publishing houses with sales; at the Penguin table, you could get a free book if you signed up for their newsletter, so I signed up and got their last copy of Shapiro's Shakespeare in America anthology, while at the Knopf table hardbacks were $10 and paperbacks were $3, so I got Alexander Monro's The Paper Trail and Tom Holland's Dynasty, and then made myself stop because conference bags were smallish if zippered and there was still a load of snow and ice outside. Then it was time for the boys' panel, which was boring except for them (I felt SO BITTER I was rejected), and then we grabbed dinner and then the bus home.

Saturday morning Todd and I worked on my press a bit; the problem was the bitter cold, and how that makes cast iron difficult to work with. It looks like the main problem I've been having is the throw-off lever, which needs to be loosened up, and we sprayed some liquid wrench into the bolts but could never quite get it going. Since Kevin has a C&P as well, we're talking about maybe meeting up in Utah and helping Todd take his press apart for a thorough cleaning so the two of us can see how it's done, then go home and replicate that on our machines. So hopefully that is something we can do or summer or early fall, and then in October all three of us hope to meet at the RBS Bibliography conference--Todd got accepted, I haven't heard back yet, and Kevin didn't put in for it.

Saturday afternoon we played tourist and I finally got to take Todd to my favorite spots in town: for afternoon tea at Dushanbe (where you book in advance and then they bring out one of those tiered serving dishes with scones and sandwiches and sweets, and where for reasons passing my understanding none of my local peeps was willing to go), and to my favorite secondhand bookshop where we spent several hours happily combing through the just-organized-enough-to-be-useful-but-unsorted-enough-to-stay-interesting piles of books. At one point the young desk attendant came over to us and anxiously asked if we were rare book dealers or "just" collectors. We reassured him that we were collectors, with me a poor grad student and Todd a librarian. "Oh okay," the man said with great relief, "I could just hear the knowledge when you spoke." And that became our running gag of the day.

The *other* gag of the day, though not running, was when we went to the nature shop that largely specializes in cool rocks, some fossils, knick-knacks fashioned from rocks, and science kits for kids. Anyway, on one of the tables was a case filled with perhaps 6-8 or so objects made of stone, about the size and length of a mechanical pencil, each shaped slightly differently and of a different stone. At first I wondered if they were part of the intermittent fashion for magical wands (usually for Harry Potter fans who can drop fairly serious money on a lovely useless object, or for wealthy hippies to do the same), and then I saw there was a placard identifying them as "personal massagers." Which...puzzles me? Because they aren't actually big enough to be terribly exciting in either orifice, being stone it certainly doesn't vibrate so it's not going to do much for your clit, and also being stone of various kinds I wonder overmuch about cleaning and safety, and frankly wish I had taken a photo to send to Can I Fuck the Thing? on Tumblr. I missed it but apparently Todd picked one up to inspect it, then saw what it was, and had an "Ack!" moment, which I regret not seeing because sometimes I'm a terrible friend who enjoys a good laugh at someone else's expense. Anyway, quel mystery.

And then Sunday I had to see him off to the airport shuttle, and so ends the holidays, and so begins the year in earnest. I saw a meme that had a picture of Captain Picard that said "Damage Report" and then the commentary was "How I start every morning in 2017" which seemed very real to my experience. I remain determined to fight for what I believe in; I remain heartened on how thus far Congress is bending to public pressure on various issues. I think every day for the next few years is going to be like this, and it will be exhausting, and it will be necessary. But I remind myself, yet again, that the majority of people *do* have consciences and brains, and are on the right side of history; I can't remember if it was Dan Rather or Bill Moyers who wrote that the dying mule kicks the hardest. So: Keep the faith, my friends!

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October 2018


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