All I want for Christmas is a marking elf and a research assistant! Sincerely, Dave.
Did I really write to Santa? No I didn’t, but I wish I could! Now, you’re probably wondering why a grown man, a few years removed from his fourth decade, would be doing such a thing? Well, it certainly is a weird request, but boy could I use that elf! There’s only a few days left before Christmas holidays but I’m struggling to clear up a huge back-log of marking that has been accumulating for a while. It’s kinda of a never-ending battle; well, it sort of does end, but that’s usually at the end of a semester.My biggest priority is to return my Grade 12 History Independent Studies, which I promised to have done before the break. I should have them for Thursday. The research assistant is a story for another paragraph.
Speaking of Christmas vacation, it can’t come soon enough; I’m pooped! It has been a crazy last couple of weeks. On top of the marking, I’m still trying to do some railway stuff and plan the trip to Europe. Tonight is the first traveller/parent meeting, and that means I’m a step closer to making the leap across the pond! So I’m really looking forward to the two-week break and a bit of a rest. It’s going to be nice to relax and spend some time with the family, especially with my boys Ethan and Noah. They are getting particularly excited for Santa’s arrival on Sunday; hopefully he brings the Lego they are hoping for!
The railway has been the railway; the usual cycle of research, reading and a bit of writing has continued. Last week I spent some time gleaning the web pages of Google Books for information on the Port Arthur, Duluth and Western. I was able to find quite a bit of new material, particularly on the early history of the railway (1885-1890). I also turned up a bunch of stuff on iron mining and the whole Minnesota connection. It seems as if any free books seem to end at 1890; I don’t know if that is a mandated date because of copyright or what. I’m also curious if there would be more material available if I lived in the US, since Google just launched their whole ebook store here in Canada just over a month ago. There are times where all you get is a “snippet” view, which is like a tantalizing little morsel that leaves you dying to see the rest of the information. Maybe it’s a big conspiracy by Google to tease people like me!
Yesterday I picked up a copy of Ole Paulson’s book which I had been told contained some tidbits of information regarding his brother, John Paulson. It arrived via inter-library loan from St. Olaf College, which was a pleasant surprise since I was told that books could not come from the States. This is not the original book, which was written in Norwegian, but rather a translation that was done in 1981. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book (it’s not very big, and I’ve skipped over parts), and there are some really interesting sections. The book has also helped to confirm some details in the life of Paulson, whose life story is slowly starting to come together.
This brings me to the second part of my Santa request. As much as I love researching the railway and making discoveries, it would be nice to have someone helping out occasionally. I’ve mentioned before that this has been a particularly busy year and I feel somewhat overwhelmed at times. The process of finding information can be very tedious and time-consuming; I can’t imagine how many hours I’ve spent doing this over the past 17 years. During the break, my wife and I are planning to complete the basement project that we began more than two years ago. The last major task is to install the laminate floor, which should not be too difficult (I hope; I’ve never done it before!) but will limit the time I have to do any railway-related stuff.
Anyway, it’s time to wrap-up this latest ramble. I most likely will post again after Christmas; maybe Santa will visit…though it would be disturbing to see an elf and some person under my tree in the morning. Merry Christmas!