Did not leave the house today except to walk the dog. Mostly work, but got some light exercise in again thanks to Planet Fitness’ daily live cast. Almost done with the homemade blueberry pie I made over the weekend. Now watching the Met’s stream of La Boheme, even though it’s not one of my favorites. Too saccharine. And I don’t get mid-production curtain calls in opera.
Today’s real accomplishment was staying off social media most of the time. I’m really hating the tone right now. This was as normal a day as there has been in about a week. No big announcements, no additional cancellations, no big decisions.
Working from home. A previously scheduled home-cleaning service came in to give the entire house a really deep scrub, which means Ginny went to Dog Days for the day. Caren’s museum is now officially closed for the duration as are the UMinnesota libraries, so she had to remove all her material today from her assigned carrel. At this point, there is really nowhere to go.
We were briefly going to visit my family in Chicago this upcoming weekend, but that is certainly off at this point. I can’t see being away from the house, the dog, and our base with so much uncertainty in the air. We are now reaching the point where travel and certain localities could become restricted. I would not want to become locked out of my own home, or trapped in another state. Unlikely but not impossible at this point.
My main office in Denver had a quick all-staff this morning to discuss a few procedures, grab a few things from the office, and then disburse. People are rotating into the office to grab the mail and process things, but otherwise all work is being done from home. The big nonprofit questions are just starting to be asked: whither fundraising, whither income? Most importantly: where do your organization’s priorities fit in the New World’s priorities? This will not be clear for months, as we learn from both our donors and from the structure of what comes after.
Evening activities: lodge trustees meeting (by phone), 20 minute workout (video online now being put together daily by Planet Fitness), dinner, walk the dog, an episode of Vienna Blood, and a little of the Metropolitan Opera’s nightly streaming (Carmen).
It’s certainly not Day 1 of coronavirus / COVID-19, but it is day one of this journal.
Notable milestones today include the announcement of the closure of Minnesota schools, the closure of Illinois bars and restaurants, and 3,000 cases reached around the United States.
Caren and I went to the dog park briefly with Ginny, hit the Ramsey County library in Roseville to stock up, and visited a grocery store for some more perishable items for some upcoming cooking projects. I’m pretty confident in our non-perishable stocks. Gearing up for a late afternoon walk now after an afternoon of writing and organizing.
You don’t realize how busy your schedule is until its all canceled (or cancelled).
It’s all gone:
- Lodge Spaghetti Dinner (Saturday, March 14th)
- Friends’ album release party (Saturday)
- Lodge Degree Meeting (Monday, March 16th)
- Impromptu Lodge Trustee meeting for Monday (I’m calling in)
- My dad’s 70th birthday party in Chicago (next Saturday)
- Business travel to Denver (week from Monday)
- Denver Foundation meeting (week from Tuesday)
- Audit fieldwork (as online as possible)
- Grand Lodge of Minnesota Annual Communication (April 3-4; not cancelled yet, but come on)
- MN Opera Don Giovanni in May
- Caren’s trip to NYC for meeting of Costume Society of America (June)
I’m pretty concerned, which is part of why I am starting this journal. I am worried about the health of my family members. I am worried about people who are just being willfully obtuse about social distancing and therefore defeating the purpose. I am worried about the long-term economic impact of this sudden stoppage of activity. Job losses are coming. Business closures are coming. If we do ‘flatten the curve’ then there will be declarations of “overreacting.” But of course, that’s how we know it worked. So we can’t win. I’m fine with that, but the long-term policy implications may not be pretty.
What I am not worried about is my financial health. I’m only 44 years old. I’ve got time.
Right now, I am outlining the book as a series of individual stories, focused on people who were present at or led individual campaigns or battles across the world during the War of the American Revolution.
I intend on posting a proper living outline soon, but I have begun researching of the first stories I will detail: the U.S. naval attack on Nassau in The Bahamas in 1776. Led by Esek Hopkins, it is a small but important example of the war beyond the colonies.
“The first Quality of an Historian is to be true & impartial; the next to be interesting.”
I am going with Zotero to manage my research and citations for the American Revolution book. If you want access to the Zotero Library for this project, shoot me an email at email@example.com, and I will send you an invite. I am keeping it Public but Closed for now, but I may move it to Open later once I learn what limitations that imposes in terms of Zotero’s use.
Some research updates: my wife has managed to secure a copy of the out-of-print book from a university library. I should have it in a few days. Pro-tip: have a spouse or significant other in a major university if you want to write a book.
I’ll be sharing Google documents containing both my (living!) outline and bibliography soon. I will try to set it up so that you can’t change the document but you can leave comments. I might regret that, but I can always turn it off.
In reading The American Revolution: A World War, I’ve realized that its actually an exhibit catalog of sorts from a Smithsonian exhibit which just closed in DC. I encourage you to flip through the exhibition website. It looks like something I would have enjoyed.
I was particularly pleased to see that the exhibit showed the “Braddock Pistol.” This 1750’s flintlock pistol was made for General Edward Braddock, who was George Washington’s superior during the French and Indian War. At some point during the war before we was killed in Western Pennsylvania, Braddock gave this pistol to GW.
I love this because decades ago I was on a “storage room” tour of the National Museum of American History that allowed me to put on the white gloves and, briefly, handle this pistol. I can’t tell you what that felt like: this is a weapon which was both handled by George Washington and was present at the events which, at lease in part, eventually forced the American Revolution.
I’m not a Podcaster, I just write a lot. – What Big Pun would write if he were writing this blog post. Which he’s not. Because he’s dead.
With the end (for now) of the History You’ll Never Read podcast, I’m moving on to my next history project: writing a book.
I can honestly say I found the podcast process increasingly frustrating as it went on. Both the brevity and the style were not agreeable to me. In the future, I may turn to a more conversational style podcast with a partner, but while I’m still enthusiastic about history content, I believe it’s time to finally write a book.
It will be in the popular history style and be on the American Revolution as it took place outside the 13 colonies. Instead of the French being miraculous saviors that happen to show up at Yorktown and the Battle of the Chesapeake, we will look at their actions globally, from the Caribbean to India. The Spanish and the Dutch also have a role to play, from the Sieges of Pensacola and Gibraltar to the Battle of Dogger Bank. And I will certainly look at the role of the U.S.’s most accidental ally, the Sultan of Mysore.
There have been a couple of academic anthologies on this topic, but nothing that I have seen for the mass public. So often the Revolution is depicted as a hermetically sealed effort by the colonials to free themselves from Britain with a little reluctant help from the Ancien Régime. I hope to bring the global conflict to readers and show how much more indebted the United States is to other powers and how globally integrated the colonies were even before the war began.
I’m starting off with one of those anthologies: The American Revolution: A World War. This book appears to be filled with valuable information but it doesn’t have the narrative flow so vital to a popular history.
I’m also looking for a decently priced copy of: The American Revolution: A Global War. It appears to be out of print, so any leads I would appreciate.
This blog will be an ongoing record of research and documentation as well as particularly juicy bits I find interesting as I put it together. By following here, you’ll get a near real-time view into writing a history book.
Comments, questions and recommendations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
Episodes 8 and 9 are now up, wrapping up the series on the Anarchy. And, as you will here at the end of episode 9, this *probably* wraps up the Great Podcast Experiment as well. It took me 1.25 years to get it all out there and it was fun, but podcasting is probably not my medium.
The next content-creation whirlwind is already defined and being prepared for launch. I’ll be announcing it soon. Thanks for your attention!
This episode I provide some other resources for those that want to dive deeper or they want to look at the fictional side of The Anarchy. And then, The Battle of the Standard.