Another Step Closer to Old Fart-ness, a Useful List, and a Description of Ornamental Hermits
And have we learned anything during the past twelve months?
1. That we shouldn't date graduate students who cannot do their own work
2. That you can gain much wisdom from kung fu movies
3. That cheese is good
4. That normalizing databases to 3rd normal form is very important in an OLTP environment
5. That 33 is considerably better than 23
Anyway, I've been mulling over possible choices for the upcoming year: should I dye my hair red? Should I move to Las Vegas? Should I quit my job and become a Gentleman Farmer or Itinerant Wanderer?
Speaking of changing jobs, I've learned of an interesting occupation that is, Sadly, no longer in vogue: the highly fascinating job of being an * "Ornamental Hermit". Apparently, at one time it was quite fashionable for members of the aristocracy to hire ornamental hermits to meditate in caves or retreats on family estates. According to Edith Sitwell, who wrote English Eccentrics, it was not uncommon during the reign of King George II.
Her book even contains a description of duties, according to the terms of one preserved agreement, which states that a hermit should "continue in the hermitage seven years, where he should be provided with a Bible, optical glasses, a mat for his feet, a hassock for his pillow, an hour-glass for his time-piece, water for his beverage, and food from the house. He must wear a camlet robe, and never, under any circumstances, must he cut his hair, beard, or nails, stray beyond the limits of...(the) grounds or exchange one word with the servant." The payment for such services was seven hundred pounds after seven years.
If such a position were still available, I would, of course, contemplate growing a beard.
I must certainly recommend Sitwell's book, as it also contains informative sections on Quacks, Alchemists, Amateurs of Fashion, Men of Learning, Travellers, and Marine Adventures.
* I am not making this up