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a little bit more about me

My name is Beth and I accidentally have found myself living in Arizona but I'm originally from Tennessee. My education is in history and anthropology, which means that I know a little about a lot of things and can hold my own at a cocktail party in mixed company. I work in museums, doing all sorts of things ranging from researching and writing exhibits to cataloguing absolute wickety wak. I love comedy, baking, photography, my daughter, dogs, and above all else, napping.*

* 2013 edit: Oh yeah, and my new son too.

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    0.16 MPH

    One of the sucky things about moving from a small town to a major metropolitan area is the traffic. Having just moved here a couple of months ago, I still don’t know my way around very well, so I’ve only figured out a couple of different routes between work and home. I had to close the museum today, so I didn’t get out until about 5:30. In normal traffic, it takes me no less than an hour to get home. But today’s the day before Thanksgiving and Arizona’s major airport lies between my work and my house. It took me 3 hours to get home tonight. That is not a misprint. Three FUCKING hours to go the 18 miles from my work to my front door. Sigh. I miss my small town life. 


    Twitwit: Quitwit?!

    Today was possibly my best, and most unfortunate, day at work. I found out Twitwit had done something "for" me, as in taken the initiative a) to determine I wanted it done (by her freakishly inaccurate powers of mind-reading) and b) doing it, followed by c) neglecting to mention to me steps a and b. When I told her I was pissed, she became really defensive. Hit a nerve, did I?

    Guess so, because only five hours later I watched Twitwit be escorted by the Boss from the building. Evidently, she had been given notice and decided to take preemptive action. By quitting. Effective as soon as she could pack her stuff in her office. Class act.

    For an instant I thought, Oh Shit! I'd rather put up with her than cover her stupid work until we hire someone else. But then I realized that since she had left, I had finally relaxed, too. Bottom line is, I'd rather pick up her slack than put up with her.

    So the good news? I no longer have to endure Twitwit's antics. The bad news? See: good news. Until now, every day work had the promise of revealing a new Twitwism. Sigh. I guess now I'll just have to mine the mentally unstable transsexual assistant for gems to put a sparkle on my day.


    The Case of the Disappearing Goldwater Files

    Barry Goldwater was Arizona's golden boy. Ever the politician, he created a lifelong legacy by founding Arizona State University's Arizona Historical Foundation, an organization dedicated to collect, preserve, and make available historical documents that address Arizona and Southwestern subjects.

    So it's a little ironic that the Arizona Historical Foundation has now closed off access to Goldwater's own papers. Goldwater donated a large sum of money and his political and personal papers to the foundation in 1959, with no stipulations on access to his own files. Most recently, a journalist accessed Goldwater's files to research an article in a local newspaper. His article highlighted Goldie's personal unsavory conduct and received such ire from Goldie's granddaughter C.C., a board member of the foundation, that she succeeded in having his papers sealed.

    The Goldwater collection has seen alot of action since it was donated to the foundation. Researchers, academics, journalists, and the just plain curious have sifted through his papers for decades. Some of the resulting articles have aired Goldie's political dirty laundry, like his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act or his steadfast support of McCarthy to the very end. Writers have pointed out how conservatives from all spectra of the right (old right, new right, and rabid right) alike stood by him. (And those categories pretty much take care of enfranchised Arizonans.) His politics were what made him Arizona's golden boy, though. C.C. Goldwater had to draw the line at her grandfather's personal dirty laundry.

    From here on out, I guess if you want to know about Goldwater, the man, you'll have to rely on C.C.'s own recent production, the HBO hagiography, "Mr. Conservative."


    Bite the Ballot

    This year’s midterm elections in Arizona meant endless ads for any of the 95 offices and issues up for grabs. The ballot covered every position from governor to state mine inspector and included no fewer than 19 special interest initiatives. Arizona ballot initiatives provide an opportunity for regular citizens to participate in the democratic process . . . and it shows. The idea is so poorly conceived that it requires voters to vote yes or no on each issue, even opposing ones. So, yes, I’d like to ban smoking in restaurants. And yes, I’d like to allow smoking in restaurants. They are always (intentionally?) poorly worded, disenfranchising even the informed. But they do achieve their purpose. They allow all the regular multimillion dollar sleazeballs lobbies to participate equally in spreading rampant racism and homophobia (and generally corrupting the electoral process). I should have known this was a sign of things to come.

    I received the early mail-in ballot only to discover a process even dumber than the proposition system itself. In order to select your candidate, you connect a broken arrow by drawing the line between the two points. Cause they wanted to simplify the procedures, I guess. People had gotten too confused by circling the candidate of their choice or filling in bubbles. A side note: While the accompanying instructions clearly stated “Complete the ballot using no. 2 pencil or pen only. DO NOT USE RED INK,” the last page of the ballot itself read, “Use ink only.”


    Does This Look Like Goodwill?

    One of the major projects I’m tasked with at work is preparation for the move of all artifacts. And since I’m in charge of documenting which box every single object ends up in, I’ve been going through all the catalog records to put together a database to track everything for the move. In normal museums, stuff would already be catalogued in a database. Here in the alterna-universe in which I work, that never happened. Why? Probably because it makes sense to do it that way. By best guesstimates, there are about 25,000 objects in the museum’s collections. But nobody knows for sure because there are only 300 entries in the database. Everything else is recorded only on paper in a file cabinet, making any research awfully time consuming if I’m looking for any specific object. I have to trawl through every single piece of paper in a four-drawer file cabinet until I stumble upon one that may or may not be the exact item I seek. So far, I’ve been hunting for three whole days for one specific artifact in our collection and I still have no idea where it is. Only once I find the paper catalog record will I be able to track it down in the collections storage room. 

    And oh how informative those records are. I thought I’d share with you some of the catalog cards for the more significant items in our collection. 

    • unknown metal object, heavily corroded
    • electric fan
    • lid for pot, has metal handle
    • white cotton tote bag, “Tis a Mark of Distinction to be a Reader of the Reader’s Digest”
    • keychain given to new bank customers, Wells Fargo bank

     I’m glad the museum is a repository for such historically significant artifacts junk. It’s as if the museum served as an alternative Goodwill all these years, taking the crap that people wanted to get rid of. God forbid someone actually throw out a precious “trash can lid, broken handle.”