Coronormal Day 122

Another grey morning, 15°, high pollen, high humidity, stiff and achey limbs, and my mile came in at 9:37. Morning Office, grocery trip, hot breakfast. Finished Nazianzen, worked on the sermon, and read The Difference Engine. We had a sweet chat with Thomas and his dad mid-afternoon, and that was the highlight of the day. Soup for dinner, and the ending of Gåsmamman, and episodes of QI and University Challenge.

Coronormal Day 121

I woke up stiff — my back threatened to develop spasms at a couple of points — so although the conditions for running were satisfactory, I decided not to time the run and simply to go slow and steady through the mile, which I then did. I felt limber by the time I finished, but I’m glad I didn’t push. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, and some online reading (including my roughly biannual visit to Ray Davis at Pseudopodium, where I marvelled, as usual, at his irascible erudition (if you stop in, don’t miss his Manifolds and Manifolds).

From then for the rest of the day, I alternated among reading The Difference Engine, working on a wedding sermon, and translating a snippet of Gregory of Nazianzus. As one does. Pizza for dinner, and more Gåsmammon.

Coronormal Day 120

Another grey, cool morning, 15° and high humidity, calm, and high pollen — but my pace just didn’t come together, and I ran to a 9:46 mile. Once again, the variation in my times puzzles me. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, correspondence, and I planned a bit of writing and research.

But that plan came — not quite to nought, but to not much. Just an uneasy day, unfocused, and listless. (I know: ‘Well, then, make a list!’) I did read a fair bit of The Difference Engine, but that was the closest I came to productivity. Leftover risotto for dinner, and we began watching the Swedish TV series Gåsmamman.

Coronormal Day 119

This morning the conditions were fine: cloudy, 13°, medium pollen, high but not too high humidity. I wasn’t in good form, though, and the time was 9:25. The rest of the day was taken up with correspondence, with trying to make my word processor app work (it seems to have become hopelessly entangled in a Moebius strip of footnote-generating), and finishing up my book review.

Margaret made a perfect risotto for dinner, and we watched the most recent Bond film, Spectre, after dinner.

Quatorze Juillet, Corona Year One (118)

This morning was humid, 14°, and I had sluggish legs; as so often in humid weather, it felt as though I were running through high-density air. My mile time was 9:51. After the Morning Office and some cleaning up, Margaret and I ventured out to Rick’s for breakfast. After that, I buckled down on my book review.

In the afternoon, a friend stopped by for a lovely visit, and then our new television and its dedicated stand arrived, so I spent much of the late afternoon and early evening putting the bits together (with insufficient directions, I venture to stay). It is indeed vast, although it’s last year’s model, the smallest they made last year, and you can’t buy one this small at all among this year’s models. It set up very easily, once I united the bits to one another, and I’m looking forward to watching a Bond film on it tomorrow….

New Normal 117

The weather was fine for this morning’s run, but I felt… well, I was stiff and slept late, my heart wasn’t in it, and I was tempted to not run at all. Instead I chose to take a deliberately slow, untimed run, so that I did keep up my mile-ing, but not at a demanding pace. Morning office, fruit breakfast, and on to writing the review I owe.

I hammered away at it all day, on and off; I try to make sure that the summary I write would satisfy the book’s author, before I evaluate the success of the endeavour. That entails scan-rereading the thing, and trying to tease out in two or three sentences the heart of what an author spent many pages explaining. As such, I made a lot of headway, but did not finish up. We had leftovers for dinner, and Margaret had a long evening of business meetings.

First Sunday of New Normal

A beautiful morning for a run, if a bit chilly (6°) and with so abundant a proliferation of pollen that my eyes and nose were streaming all the way. It took a while to limber up, but good enough by the end, getting home in 9:23. Morning Office, hot breakfast, Morning Worship on Radio 4, and for the first time since mid-Lent, off to Mass for the first time in months. It was a tremendous relief and joy.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Margaret and I decided the time had come to buy a new television set, and the smallest in our price/features range will be more than twice the diagonal length (24″ -> 49″), and many times the resolution of our current monitor. It’s a disconcerting prospect. We obviously aren’t much fussed about these details, having lived happily with our current monitor for twelve years, but since the next few months, or years, seem likely to be more housebound than the past, it seemed a reasonable time to make a change. Although I did much of the pricing and comparisons two weeks ago (to avoid the risk of impulse buying), I did some follow-up investigation (apparently our soon-to-come TV will not easily fit on the table that currently supports our monitor, so I found a support that will work on our table).

Some reading, some reviewing, some work on Legends Vol. II, and jacket potatoes for dinner, and more Mallorca Files.

Legends of the Jews, Vol. I

I have for a very long time held a special place in my heart for Louis Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews, a valuable six-volume compilation of the truly mind-bogglingly vast array of sources that expatiate on the narratives from the Bible. I first consulted a copy in the Yale Div library when I was training there for ordination; I bought a copy of my own as soon as we could afford one; we have given it as a bar mitzvah gift; and I recommend it to non-specialists as often as possible, as a profoundly valuable record of the reception of the Bible and a cracking amplification of the biblical story.

While one can retrieve all six of Ginzberg’s volumes from the public-domain web, there are numerous difficulties with reading the PDFs. There’s the intrinsic problem of dealing with PDFs, of course, especially page-scanned PDFs. More intensely frustrating, Ginzberg provided the endnote references and comments in entirely separate volumes (notes for Volumes I and II appear in Volume V; notes for III and IV appear in Volume VI). Some readers will want to see the notes right in the text as they go along; some would rather not see the notes at all, and some might want to see the notes in a pop-up format (as in Kindle and epub files). Having to consult a separate PDF to keep track of the notes, some of them multiple pages, can be intensely frustrating.

Further, the OCR for the text can be unreliable (and some PDFs aren’t OCRed at all, I think), making text searches a headache.

For all these reasons, and because I love the book, its sources, and midrash in general, I have long wanted to generate a good, readable, notes-included reference version of Legends. I have put it off because it’s a beast of a job; even copy-and-pasting notes into the body of the text (while at the same time checking typos and OCR problems, oh, and adding Hebrew text in the notes). Lockdown and quarantine, and their consequent effect on the attention span for my own research and writing, and the soothing effect that focused text manipulation has on my peculiar neurology, all meant that the last months provided a convenient opportunity for me to set about producing my first version of Volume I (incorporating notes from Volume V).

Cover of the digital edition of Louis Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews

In reproducing Ginzberg’s text and notes, I encountered numerous small, obvious typos in his edition. I’ve corrected these without calling attention to them, as many readers may have not noticed them anyway. At the same time, though, I have probably introduced some typos myself, and if anyone notices one, I’d be grateful if they called it to my attention. I’ll gather and correct such mistakes in a subsequent version, if more than one or two turn up.

I’ve produced a Reference Edition (footnotes), a Reader’s Edition (endnotes), and an epub edition (for which some of the formatting had to be altered). In each, the original page numbers of Volume I are included between braces (for reference; I didn’t have the manic determination to track the original pages of Volume V in the notes).

Legends of the Jews, Volume I, Reference Edition

Legends of the Jews, Volume I, Readers Edition

Legends of the Jews, Volume I, Epub Version

(These links point to — the files are too large for WordPress’s file transfer allowances.)

NN One Fifteen

Lovely clear morning weather, a chilly 5° with a light breeze, high pollen (my nose was streaming awkwardly), and my legs were not as limber as sometimes, but neither were they heavy or stiff. The mile came in at 9:24. A bit of early morning typographic research on the origins and functions of the tilde, a grocery trip, the Morning Office, hot breakfast, and a final prep of Legends of the Jews Vol. 1 before I uploaded it.

That was the plan, anyway. ‘Final prep’ took longer than I’d have thought. Then I read some Difference Engine, and allotted some time to idle relaxing, and there went the day. Margaret concocted a delicious pizza, and we dipped our toes into The Mallorca Files, along essentially the same formula as Death in Paradise, which led us to speculate on which holiday location would be next to subsidise a BBC light crime drama.

New Normal 114

Chilly air, humid, high pollen, and a satisfactory time of 9:21. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, and I planned some work on the review of the book I just read, a look at my own book project, and a start on my essay about James and miracles. As it turned out, I did some work on the review, read some of The Difference Engine, undertook a fair amount of correspondence, and napped a bit. Margaret devised a piquant main course of curried broccolini and other mixed vegetables with tofu, in a savoury cashew cream sauce. Margaret resumed her evening business, and I watched an episode of Top Boy.

New Normal 113

Another rainy morning, a chill in the humid air, but the rain was filtering out some of the pollen, and I worked my way back to a time of 9:39. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, and I finished reading the book I was working through. I spent the rest of the day working on my book project (it’s been three weeks or so, but I’m very slowly hammering it into shape), and some light reading. Margaret baked potatoes for dinner, and worked through another evening of meetings while I watched the last episodes of The Office.

New Normal 112

This morning dawned with heavy rain, 15° but low pollen, and I thought to bluster through the rain for a full run, but after about a half mile I changed my mind. Morning Office, grocery trip, hot breakfast… speaking of which, I do love breakfast, and when I reach the end of my portion (two rashers of faux bacon, two patties of hash browns, and two eggs) I’m always a bit sad that I mayn’t have more. Of course, that would be gluttony, and would defeat the purpose of the restraint that I observe in having fruit for breakfast most days of the week; but oh, my goodness, the desire is strong.

All but finished the current nonfiction reading, but it’s a slow, frustrating read. Trudged onward, leftovers for dinner, Margaret continued her meetings, I watched The Office [US].