The good folks over at ARTstor have teamed up with Magnum Photos to provide access to 73,000 high quality photographs through the ARTstor database. As someone who teaches visual culture classes and who uses ARTstor in the classroom, I’m quite excited by this announcement.
In my academic work I focus on a range of topics, but, in general, the historical period that interests me the most is the end of the 19th century and the first few decades of the 20th. I often find myself in archives, reading letters and diaries of historical figures who are significant to whatever research project I am working on at the time. This process of discovery through the day-to-day writings of my research subjects is, perhaps, one of my favourite things about doing academic work. These brittle and stained pages contain so much information and tell stories in a way that official history textbooks can not.
I wonder what will become of our day-to-day archives. It is rare that I sit down and compose a letter on paper (with a pen!) these days. Correspondence happens by email or by IM. Sure, we can save copies of emails in folders, but what happens when the current software and operating systems we use become obsolete? How many personal stories will be lost from our generation? What kind of archive will we leave for those curious about the world in the early decades of the 21st century?
I love shopping at stores that carry healthy, organic, local foods. I like to support businesses that are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. I believe that we vote with our dollar every single time we make a purchase so I try to buy products that have a low impact on the environment, are fair-trade and made without scary ingredients. I look for gelatin-free candies and allergy friendly products. In other words, I often end up at natural food/health food-type stores. However, I am frequently frustrated by the presence of big vats of peanut butter at these stores. See, I also have a severe (as in anaphylactic shock) allergy to peanuts. I think it is great that these stores sell peanut butter to those who want it, but my issue is with the way it is sold.
It seems to me that it is becoming increasingly common to offer up peanut butter at these kinds of stores in a self-serve set up. Big whopping scoops of peanut butter being dished up into small plastic containers by eager customers who, like me, are concerned with buying products that are healthier alternatives for themselves, their families and the planet. But this, of course, leads me to question which kinds of health issues are more valued by these businesses. The second someone lifts the lid of the big ol’ vat of peanut butter in one of these places is the second I have to bolt for the door. I’ve had to stop going into many of these shops, even though in my heart I’d like to support these businesses.
I have read research that says it is “impossible” to have a reaction to peanuts just by smelling it. Funny…I’ve had my throat swell, my eyes run and witnessed hives develop on my skin when I’ve been around peanut products. I know from first-hand experience that I don’t need to ingest a peanut to have a reaction. When I was a small child my teachers discovered the hard way that putting me in a separate part of the classroom when other kids were eating peanut butter sandwiches did not prevent an allergy attack. The same thing has happened to me in these stores.
My frustration with this issue has been boiling over lately, which is why I was so delighted to discover The Healthy Cupboard in Fonthill today. This store carries peanut butter (along with other kinds of nut butters), but they sell it in sealed jars. No fuss, no muss. No deadly scent, no chance of someone scooping peanut butter under my nose and a minimal risk of peanut butter residue being all over the rest of the store, the counter, the door handle, etc. (a trace amount on one of these surfaces can also trigger a reaction to an allergy sufferer who happens to touch it). So a big thank you to The Healthy Cupboard, a shop that will undoubtedly become one of my favourites in the Niagara region.
Last week I attended the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference in Toronto. It was very different than the conferences I normally go to, but I enjoyed it very much. Even though I have a secret dream of being a librarian I was at the conference to talk about some current work I’m doing — I co-presented with our Department’s liaison librarian, and we talked about the challenges of teaching research skills in large lecture-style classes. It was an interesting opportunity to really think about the approaches we’ve been taking in the classroom and to think about what we’d like to do to build on these things for next year.
A few days in Toronto also gave me the opportunity to engage in some non-conference activities. I finally made it over to the new-and-improved AGO and also found a few hours to visit the ROM. We also went to see a performance of “East of Berlin” at the Tarragon Theatre — an absolutely amazing experience!
I did it. I said I would never do it, but I did. I am now the proud owner of a macbook. hmmm… I knew it would be a good system, but there have been certain people in my life who have been, well, so darn obnoxious about their macs that I swore I’d never go over to the “dark side” just on principle. (note to my friends with macs — I’m not talking about you! )
I have a wonderful HP notebook called “Huey” (my dad named him) that I love. I mean, I LOVE Huey. I take him everywhere with me and he makes me happy. Huey just celebrated his 3rd birthday and I know that in laptop years that means he is a senior citizen. I didn’t want to wait until Huey was sick to get a new computer, I thought it would be better to get a new laptop while Huey was still happy and healthy to avoid the “ohmygodijustlostallmyfiles” panic. So, I knew I’d be getting a new system soon. Factor in the crappiness of Windows Vista and the awesomeness of Scrivener, and it was pretty much a no-brainer decision.
So, I’ve spent the day figuring out how Anna, my new macbook, works. So far so good!