Thursday, March 31, 2005

10,000

I reached 10,000 visitors--as did jo(e).

I feel bad that I haven't been posting much or reading much either. Work is fantastically busy right now. In fact, I should be doing something for work, but I'm not sure I'm going to until tomorrow morning. I just don't have it in me.

I'm also reading a million books at once--okay 3. I've been working on the writing. I'm hoping to escape to Starbucks for a bit this weekend and write. Man, I am beat.

A Desk

Can I be petty for a moment? I'm obsessing over a desk, or really what it represents.

So a guy is moving into our space. This guy is someone I like and respect, but I'm not entirely sure what his responsibilities are and how he fits into the food chain relative to me. Why this is important to me, I don't know. Technically, we're on the same level, but I think realistically, he's higher up in the pecking order.

So his desk arrived today--and it's huge. Me and the web guy, who share the office full time, plus the language guy, who's there half time, have hand-me-down, small wooden desks. Most of the time, you can't see the top of my desk. It's piled with books and papers and folders. I'm a have-to-have-everything-right-in-front-of-me person.

So the desk has solidfied my feeling that this guy is "better" than me and made me feel all jealous. It's just stupid, really, for me to feel this way. And I'm harboring horrible feelings like he's been sent to spy on us or something. It's just icky and I have to get over it. Thus, I'm blogging it, purging it from my mind until I nearly walk into the desk--and all it represents--tomorrow morning. Breathe deeply, count to ten.

Whirlwind Wednesday

Yesterday was insane--a good kind of insane, but insane. I am in the process of scheduling 21 interviews with students (they begin today), so I had a few callbacks and e-mails to make for that. I'm also trying to coordinate faculty schedules for the same program. I met with a resources person and helped them put up their new newsletter.

Then began the back-to-back meetings:

12:00-1:00--discuss fall course and blogging workshop this Friday
1:00-2:00--conference call for technology and writing grant
2:00-3:00--curriculum support meeting
3:00-3:30--work with dining services staff to create video clips

I had no brain left after that. All the meetings were very productive. I spent the rest of the day reading e-mail and--finally--posting a note about the Supreme Court hearing the MGM vs. Grokster case. Shew.

I like days that have a lot going on, but I'm so spent--physically and emotionally--afterwards. It looks like today will be similar.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Good Karma

Well writing two posts about my job anxiety (one of which was eaten of course) must have worked out some karma because I had an excellent day today. I got a lot accomplished, including insisting a somewhat technophobic faculty member do her own work (nicely, of course and with plenty of instructions) and she did! and I was actually proud of her. It was like it was my own kid. The best part was, it was much less work for me this way. So cool.

Then, I got invited to give a talk at another University nearby. Yippee! Not only am I excited for my own professional growth, but I love connecting with the surrounding schools. We can share great ideas and it's great to be able to say, well, Big U down the street does it this way. Now, I have to live up to my reputation. Oh, and did I mention that this little nugget came through my professional blog. Yeah, I'm a little too tickled for my own good. What can I say?

Blogger, on the other hand, is experiencing bad karma. I had to wait about half an hour to post this. And there was yesterday with the eating of the post and as jo(e) said in her comment below, comments are amazingly slow. I'm so tempted to transfer this whole thing over to typepad. I kind of like it here though. What do you all think?

Job anxiety

My post that got eaten was about job anxiety. I don't have that much. But enough.

First, I actually like and care about my job. It's not just a job to me. I try to treat it that way for my own sanity, but it's hard. I like to think about what I'm doing, study it, write about it. So when things aren't going well, I have a hard time just blowing it off.

Second, a lot of people around me are frustrated by their jobs, either by people they have to deal with or by certain aspects of their jobs. I commiserate and sympathize with these people.

Third, I struggle with wanting to excel at my job, but not really knowing what that would mean for someone in my position. There's no clear guidelines to indicate when I'm doing a good job.

Finally, I'm in a kind of weird situation with Mr. Geeky working at the same institution and going up for tenure. If he doesn't get tenure, it's likely I will move on as well. And that's kind of weird for me. I think I'd like to stick around for at least 3 more years, possibly longer, depending on how things are going, but I might have to contemplate a huge relocation.

It sucks to be riding sidecar. And it really wouldn't matter, I guess, if I were doing something different. I'd still have to at least consider the possibility of moving in a year. Did I mention this is the second time I've been through this anxiety?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Thinking out loud

Here was once a lovely post . . . eaten by blogger. I think that that's a sign to go to bed and contemplate moving the blog . . . sigh.

Is it fixed?

So is it fixed now? I took Steven Krause out--sorry Steve. How odd.

Monday . . . back to work random thoughts

Breaks are good. And I don't feel too put upon to go back to work. I have some projects to look forward to.

It was really nice to not have a schedule. In all seriousness, I could get used to that. Unfortunately, I really need my job. I'd love to find the perfect part-time job that paid me enough, but I'm thinking that's out of the question for now.

I was able to catch up on a few things: laundry, writing, exercise. Fitting all those in while working is difficult. I'm going to try though.

I am so affected by the weather. The weather was awful all week and it's even worse today. I am so unmotivated when it's icky outside. My world shrunk down to the inside of my house. Maybe that's what it will be like when I'm 80. It's not so bad really.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Short blogging hiatus

I'm going to take a short break and not blog this weekend. I've gorged myself this week. It's been quite fun, but I want to take a break. In the spirit of Laura at 11D, I leave you with some links and brief thoughts for your reading pleasure.

  • At the Free Culture blog, a post about Orrin blow-up-downloaders-computers Hatch being named to a Senate Intellectual Property committee
  • At phillyfuture.org, a link to some pictures of the Dali steps, taken the same day I was there. I missed them. Also there, a link to some information about the state of the blogosphere.
  • From the New York Times:
  • This is what I need.
Have a good weekend everyone. See you on Monday.

Friday Random Ten: Spring Edition

Following Dr. K, who did the Good Friday/Easter edition, I did the spring edition. I only had two songs with spring in the title, so I searched for flower, tulips, daffodils, and finally, birds (I have a lot of bird songs). There are a few SXSW songs here, all of which are good.

In The Springtime Of His Voodoo--Tori Amos Boys For Pele
Waiting for Spring--Dierdre SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist
Flower Child--Lenny Kravitz Let Love Rule
Daffodil Lament--The Cranberries No Need to Argue
Three Little Birds--Bob Marley & The Wailers Legend
the littlest bird--The Be Good Tanyas SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist
My Bird Performs--XTC Nonsuch
I\'ll Be Yr Bird--M. Ward SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist
Birdhouse In Your Soul--They Might Be Giants Flood
And Your Bird Can Sing--The Beatles Revolver

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Slacker attitude

I have been slacking off this week. I had good intentions to get some things done around the house, but those never came to fruition. When it comes to my house, I am simply overwhelmed. I have tried to simplify, to get rid of things, to take things one step at a time, but it seems that my house is always one step ahead of me. There are certain things that I manage to stay on top of--the kitchen (thanks to help from Mr. Geeky and Geeky Boy), the bathrooms (thanks to our cleaning woman and the fact that we are pretty neat in the bathroom to begin with), cooking, and the laundry. The rest--paperwork, the kids' room, general clutter, small home improvement projects--are just too overwhelming to face. Baby steps, I guess.

I also had plans to catch up on some CSS, to write more (I did not write a single thing outside of this blog), to do a few minor work things that I can never get done at work. What did I do instead? I blogged; I read a lot of blogs. I also putzed around the computer--downloading new things, dressing up the blog. I watched tv. I entertained the children, including a trip to the museum, a movie and a night of board games. I read books. All with a complete slacker attitude. You know, I could do this or not.

Thing is, I'm like this fairly regularly. I happen to believe in down time--serious down time. Sometimes my down time lasts just a day. Sometimes it will last a week--as this one has. A lot depends on how I feel, whether I'm getting enough sleep, the weather (and the weather has been rotten this week). In our work-hungry culture, the kind of down time I've been experiencing this week is frowned upon. I should be doing things even when I'm not on vacation. I should have the days filled with activities for the kids.

The U.S. has one of the highest average work hours/week in the world. Additionally, according to this Google answer, lots of people work through lunch and never use their vacation time. I take an hour lunch every day. I've started taking days here and there when I'm feeling stressed. This is my first vacation that wasn't in the summer for an actual trip somewhere or at Christmas time. So I took advantage of it by doing nothing. I have no regrets, really. Yes, I hope to be back in a productive mode come Monday, but for now, I have 3 full days of nothing to look forward to.

Digital Rights Management

Anil had a post yesterday about DVD Jon, the guy who circumvented iTunes' DRM. DRM is something I am very frustrated by. As Anil's post indicates, it's really crazy to keep trying to enforce DRM. There are always going to be hackers out there who will crack the code. Meanwhile, the people who are really hurt by it are average citizens, those who don't even know that tools exist to circumvent the problem. The people who might actually be pirating music or movies will always find a way to do it.

DRM is especially damaging to education. Yes, there's fair use, but if a DVD is protected, try getting a 3-minute clip for your conference presentation. Soon computers themselves will be hardwired to protect content, just making it harder to use your content legally.

I love my iPod, but one of the things I find frustrating is that you can't transfer music via your iPod from one computer to another. Granted, I circumvented this, but many people I know haven't. It's my music. If I want to have it on my home computer and on my office computer, I should be able to. Here's the relevent clauses in Apple's Terms of Service:
You shall be authorized to use the Products only for personal, noncommercial use.

You shall be authorized to use the Products on five Apple-authorized devices at any time.

You shall be entitled to export, burn or copy Products solely for personal, noncommercial use.

You shall be authorized to burn a playlist up to seven times.

You shall be able to store Products from up to five different Accounts on certain devices, such as an iPod and iPod mini, at a time.

However, they make it difficult to do what you've been authorized to do. I know that much of this comes from pressure from the movie and recording industry.

Some DRM-free stores are popping up--one is mp3tunes.com, which charges only 88 cents/song. Granted, you might not find exactly what you want, but at least the music is yours.

DRM is a good argument for continued P2P sharing of music, however illegal that might be.

You should also see Clancy's post about Lessig's talk at the 4C's.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Art Museum Fun

Link to more photos

We made our way through lots of rain to the museum. I took the long way because I've never taken the short cut from our house and didn't want to risk getting lost in the rain without a good navigator.

The museum was rather crowded even at 10:00 a.m. because schools are out for spring break and there were a few not on spring break who were visiting (lots of buses). Unfortunately, the Dali exhibit was sold out. I hadn't even thought of that. But we paid our $10 to go to all the regular exhibits. We hadn't been in a while so it was fun.

Note to self: Medieval art is not always child appropriate. There are only so many paintings of Jesus on the cross that a 9 and 5 year old can look at before they're grossed out and/or scarred for life. And of course, I made it so much better by explaining that entertainment for children in those days would have been live executions. And we talk about violence on tv--ha! Also, armor is out for the 5 year old. She thinks there's people in there. I only got her to calm down by having her recall the Simpson episode where Homer jousts with King Philip. If anyone overheard us . . .

19th century European art, very good for the children, relatively tame, although every time we saw a nude, Geeky girl yelled out, "Let's go look at the naked people!" Shew. I put Geeky Boy in charge of the camera and he was mainly taken with contemporary art. He also liked the Renoirs and the Pennsylvania furniture section, but those pictures didn't turn out.

We covered a lot of ground. Geeky Boy wanted to do Japanese and Chinese art and I wanted to do American art, so we did both of those fairly quickly. Geeky Girl especially liked the Japanese tea house. It would be fun to go when they have a tea master. We didn't get any pictures of that though. We went into one room of contemporary art where Geeky Boy took a picture of nearly every piece in the room. He thought it was really cool. I'm thinking a trip to the Tate Modern is in order.

Finally, we ended in Persian and Indian art, by which point, we were all exhausted. We have plans to go back in a few weeks for the Dali exhibit. We might make another trip to the science museum once Mr. Geeky returns. That would round out our cultural experiences quite nicely.

An excursion

Today we go to the art museum. Which is the exact opposite of Target--maybe. We may or may not go to the Dali exhibit. It would cost us an extra $40. I'll ask the kids. They always make pretty good decisions about what they'd like to do. I have been the the actual Dali museum in Figueres, Spain, but that was 15 years ago. I've heard this exhibit is really good, so I'm inclined to shell out the money and go. Besides, I think the kids will get a kick out of it.

Of course, I will blog the experience. I will also take the camera, so maybe photo blogging.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Spring has sprung

Chez Geeky Mom. Please tell me if this is too painful on the eyes. It's easy to tone down.

Target observations

A successful trip to Target, especially since I didn't break the bank. We stuck to necessities--laundry detergent, light bulbs, shoes for the kids, etc. We did indulge ourselves by purchasing The Incredibles on DVD. Though we certainly don't *need* it, we probably will watch it many times, starting tonight. We're planning a big family movie night tonight featuring The Incredibles.

Whenever I go anywhere, I like to assess the kinds of people I'm surrounded by. One of the things I like about the area our Target is located is that it is fairly diverse (for the suburbs). It's definitely middle America though. Lots of people buying stuff that looks more expensive than it really is. Probably lots of people buying stuff they can't really afford. When I looked at how people were dressed, you can kind of see the desperation around the edges (I include myself in this picture). Their clothes don't fit as well as they should; they're too tight, too loose, too short. Partly, I'm sure this is the same reason my clothes don't fit too well sometimes. It's harder to find the right size in cheapville and cheap clothes are much more susceptible to shrinking and stretching (and fraying and ripping).

There were a few people who looked stylish and well put together and they stood out, almost as if we were being visited by a super model. Others were trying too hard; these were mostly teenagers who were trying to keep up with the latest fashions but couldn't afford to do so. Something was off--their shoes didn't match or underwear was showing or their pants were a little too short.

I wondered what the stories were behind these people. Who was recovering from a bitter divorce? Whose kid was on the verge of doing drugs? Who had suicidal thoughts in the middle of the night? Who had just been diagnosed with cancer? We try to leave those things behind, to cover that up with our clothes and the looks on our faces, but it doesn't always work. It reminds of the novel, White Noise by Don Delillo where the family goes shopping to ward off their fear of death. Isn't that why Bush encouraged us to go shopping after 9/11? To try to get our minds off of our death and deaths of thousands of others?

When I go shopping, I almost always think about this, about why we shop, why we consume. I know it is to fill some hole deep within us, but that we can't fill with consumer goods even though Target and Wal-Mart and K-Mart and Sears and Macy's and Bloomingdales all try to convince us otherwise. I always think before I shop. I try to only shop when I need something--food, household goods. I may not always succeed in only buying necessary items, but I try. I think.

Music

So I finally bought some music. I actually ended up not going with any of the suggestions. Somehow, I ended up on a search by clicking through recommendations based on everyone else's recommendations. It was quite a journey. I ended up with Rufus Wainwright's Wait Two. I almost bought a Lucinda Williams album and a Magnetic Fields one (really liked the 69 love songs). I had a free song from a Pepsi cap, so I also downloaded Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams which I had heard on the radio (WXPN, the greatest station ever) the other day.

I have also finally managed to download the 750 songs from sxsw. It took me three days! Yousa! Either I was doing something wrong or it just takes that long to download a 2 gig file. I haven't unzipped the files because the kids are asleep in my room--where the iMac is. In addition, I downloaded the free Wilco stuff.

More music than you can shake a stick at!

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Meme involving books--I think

So David tapped me for this pluse he called me cool. I'm sure I'll never find 3 people who haven't done it.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
I just order Fahrenheit 451, having never finished the thing eons ago. There's a good reason.

So which book? I'm assuming I pick a book that I want to preserve. I have to pick just one? This is so unfair--oh wait (thinking out loud, ha) . . . The Riverside Shakespeare. Better get to work on that. If I have to pick a single play, it would be Twelfth Night or Cymbeline. I know I should pick Hamlet, but I want happy stuff. Hopefully, I'll get to memorize the whole thing.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Hmmm. I'm sure that I have, but I can't think of anyone right now. I tried to avoid books with male protagonists in the era in which I would have been susceptible to crushes, so maybe I missed out on that whole thing.

The last book you bought is:
I just bought four: Fahrenheit 451, 1984, We've got blog, and Little Children

The last book you read:
I just finished Amateur Marriage--really, really good.

What are you currently reading?
Cluetrain Manifesto--also good, but getting boring. I'm also always re-reading Dilbert comic books; I can't help myself.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
Well, I'd take the Riverside Shakespeare because I'm assuming I'd forget it before I go to the island and if I did memorize it, it might provide me with, um, necessities.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, because I haven't read it in a while and I could probably read it more than once, maybe 3 or 4 times at least.
Ulysses. I've actually read this book and it made sense to me, but it might make more sense after my head has baked in the sun for a while.
Confederacy of Dunces--for some humor
Jude the Obscure--because I couldn't think of anything else and it might actually make my own life seem wonderful by comparison


Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?
Bitch, Ph.D.--cause she's cool and needs a break from all the politics stuff she's doing right now. And I'd like to see her bookshelf
Jimbo--Maybe it will be a break from the visit by big gorilla.
New Kid--I know she's reading something cool.

Search fun

Inspired by David, who's always doing this and which I always find fun to read, some recent search activity that landed people at my blog:

"smelling girls sneakers"
"stressed out burned out mom"
"vignette mom"
"Martha Stewart 'miss my pet's' name"
"wearing jeans to work"

Always interesting, no?

On vacation, but still working

I'm taking vacation this week since the kids are and Mr. Geeky is in California for a conference. I'm planning to accomplish a lot anyway. Here's today's plans:

-deal with finances--pay bills, take taxes to accountant (found $400 in savings and didn't even charge me; go h&r block!), get cashier's check for property taxes
-finish laundry--Mr. Geeky did all the laundry before he left, but it needs to be put away (making significant progress)
-work on the book
-possibly work on another blog presentation (blogging and science)--the Schiavo case should offer quite a bit of fodder for that
-e-mail some faculty about smart classroom issues--I know this is technically work, but I didn't get it done last week and it's something I really want to do.

Tomorrow we have plans to go to the art museum and/or the science museum. I hope my list here will keep me honest.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The subtleties

Watching "This Week": George asks Rummy what he's going to do about the vacancy left by Paul Wolfowitz. He asked, "What kind of man are you looking for?"

Rummy goes with it, "I'm not sure what type of man I'm looking for."

And people wonder why there aren't women in the upper echelons of the academy or business.

Let's talk money again

This morning's New York Times includes an editorial about the 2006 budget. Not surprisingly, it includes a number of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the top .2% of wage earners. Interestingly, the Washington Post article on the same topic doesn't really mention the tax cuts, but focuses on the cuts to spending, mostly to Medicaid, student loans and environmental programs.

It's actually hard to find anything about this story. I realize that the budget doesn't go to the house for a couple of weeks and until something actually happens, no one wants to write about it. Thing is, this is when you need to write about it. Once the budget is passed, there's not much you can do. And I know, all these big numbers make your eyes glaze over. They do mine too. But, actually, if it realy is money that makes the world go round, we should be paying attention to this. We should be asking questions like, why do tax cuts only apply to the wealthiest? Why are we even talking about tax cuts when we have such a huge deficit and we're trying to come up with ways to make programs like Social Security and Medicaid solvent.

Here are a few people writing about it:

Echidne
Kathy at Liberty Street--especially good at looking at some of the specific proposed spending cuts
BlondeSense--who notes that the Alaska drilling provision is tied into the budget bill

I want you to note that the three links above are female bloggers, writing about the budget. And I just did a search through technorati.

You know what everyone's talking about? Terry Schiavo. Fine, the whole thing could have implications for right-to-life/right-to-die reasons. But you know, this money stuff is going to matter more. If medicaid gets cut and with the new bankruptcy laws, we won't be arguing over her right to live or die because there won't be money to sustain her.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Here we go again . . .

All around the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel . . .

Just thought you'd need that tune in your head before you read this post. Inspired by Bitch, Ph.D.'s post about the question of women bloggers being raised yet again, I thought I'd link around and summarize a bit. I am trying my best to keep my anger in check and I know no one's really going to read this and since most of my readers are women (my own sizing up of the readership), I am going to try to keep it light and happy. You deal with the subtext.

First, I recommend three of Dr. B's posts: 1, 2, 3
And there's links in there. Basically, a lot of people are pointing out that a lot of white male liberal bloggers have some latent sexism. Am I surprised? No. Remember my post about sexism among my colleagues. People of good conscious are sometimes sexist. I'm not sure how to remedy that.

Mel has a nice post about diversity in the blogosphere, about the importance of hearing other voices and the potential for the blogosphere to allow those voices to be heard. I think that is why we always get up in arms when the woman question comes up. It's because everyone touts the blogosphere as being so democratic and diverse when it's not. Partly it's that the msm only pays attention to what's at the top. And the top bloggers are only paying attention to what's at the top. Everything else just under the surface gets ignored. There's lots of diversity bubbling beneath the surface.

Another thing I find funny about the "Where are the women?" question is that there was just a bunch of bru-ha-ha over the mommy blogs. Hello--those are pretty much all women.

Here are some thoughts from my own hunt around the web. Chris Nolan's 10 reasons why people keep asking this question. James Robertson on Chris Nolan.

Professional lurker has an excellent post about the issue and especially thoughtful on the idea of gendered language.

Another long and thoughtful post at Body and Soul (a blog I immediately blogrolled).

Burningbird looks at it from the technology standpoint, a view I'm quite interested in. And this whole issue dovetails with the sxsw vs. e-tech controversy that both danah and liz lawler write about at many to many. In fact, Dave Winer's response to the question (which I'm not going to link to because others have) is primarily that, hey, there's a lot of men in the tech field and blogging started as a techie thing, so of course, it's still heavily a man's blogosphere. God, can we get past the "women aren't techies" or "women aren't political" stuff. Because it's. just. not. true.

I could go on and on, but I won't. The thing is women are everywhere, but somehow they keep getting rendered invisible. I think everyone who asks where the women are should read Invisible Man. And I think no matter how tiring it is, we have to keep shouting "We are here! We are here! We are here!" Because if we don't, into the beezlenut oil we go.

Update: I also want to add Cleis's post at Sappho's Breathing which has a great list of reason's men give for not reading women's blogs.

One more update: Echnide (one of my favorite blogs) has some great thoughts on the issue plus links to her own posts on these supposedly "male" political issues.

P.S. Promise this is the last update.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Missing the technology boat

Sometimes I think about what might have been, if I'd just been born a few years later--say 1972. Actually maybe 1976. When I see all the great stuff that's going on--and has been going on--in the technology world, I feel a little left out. Which is odd given that I work in a technology field. I do know a lot about technology. I taught myself html and css (both need some work). I learned enough php to get by editing scripts that other people write for me (yay web guy and language guy). I can work any software program you put in front of me in no time. I've learned video editing software of all stripes, dreamweaver, photoshop, fireworks, gimp, audacity, cleaner, and on and on. And I'm always looking for new software. I can work on any platform: Mac, Linux, Windows. I can even do Unix. And I love, love the internet. But my knowledge is not very deep. This actually serves me well in my current position. I never know what kind of problem someone is going to present me with and I can think about all the the things I know about and come up with a solution that is likely to work well for someone who's not that good at technology.

So why do I feel I've missed the boat when I seem to be so technologically proficient? Because I think there could be more. I've always felt a bit behind the curve, kind of like missing the wave (to mix my metaphors). I did take a computer science class in undergrad, but nearly failed (it was at 8 a.m.; I'm not a morning person). It was mostly about the innards (motherboard, processor, etc.) which went right over my head at the time, and business applications (spreadsheets, databases). There was no programming, no thinking about how computers can be used to solve problems. And, there was no internet.* There was no sense that computers could one day bring far-flung people together. Five years later, there would have been much more to offer, a real computer science major.

On to graduate school in creative writing where I actually wrote a lot about science, math and computer science. (I was dating Mr. Geeky and hanging out with the Math babes). I joined newsgroups and listservs. I lied on a job application to get a job doing a computerized layout for a conference proceeding and a series of newsletters. My first day on the job, I read the manual. The next day, I started laying out stuff taken from all formats of floppies. I was basically immersed in technology and loving it. But not loving my program so much. I quit and got a corporate job. Just three years after I quit, the school began a master's program in Instructional Technology. Before I left, I actually investigated getting a Ph.D. in Education. It was just a little too early to see what was coming and how I might fit in.

Though the corporate job had nothing to do with computers, I ended up 1) proposing a dramatic change in our computer system that would move us from a terminal-based system to a pc-based system and 2) doing almost all the training on computer use. Again, a little later in the game, I might have shifted to the IS department.

And then, the next go around in graduate school after spending a year at home, learning html btw, and generally really experiencing the internet. Used the web in every class I taught. Taught in computer classrooms. Really thought about (and wrote about) teaching with technology. Taught other graduate students how to do html. This is what I was really excited about--the effect of technology on teaching, on the lives of my students. Unfortunately, no degree program in composition/rhetoric. Had to focus all my research energy on Renaissance literature, which I truly enjoyed but was not passionate about in the same way.

So here's the path I envision that might have been. I think I still would have gotten my undergraduate degree in Creative Writing (that, too, was a passion). But I might have minored in CS or I might have gotten a Ph.D. in Compositon/Rhetoric with a focus on technology issues or I might have gotten a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology. I know I probably could have stuck my neck out a little, especially in the last round of grad school and could have construction my own program. But I just didn't. It didn't occur to me to do so. I also know that I could still get a Ph.D. But I don't have the energy for it now. There's too many other interesting things to do. I know what getting a Ph.D. takes and I just don't have it in me right now. Someone visiting my lab from Columbia University once asked me why I didn't have a Master's or Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and I simply said, "I came along too late in the game." He seemed to understand, being a little older than me.

It's funny how all these little things add up to take you down the path you end up going down. I did make conscious decisions all along the way, but new paths were being built after I'd passed the turnoffs. When I was being interviewed for this job more than 2 years ago, I was asked, "Why this job? Why now?" I quoted Robert Frosts poem, "The Road Not Taken." I was taking this path now, but I have a different way of reading the ending:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I have always thought of the ending as triumphant: "My life is great because I took a path different from everyone else." To some extent, that may be true in my case, but there is the sigh, the resigned notion of being unable to go back. Although for me, there were many divergings and, as I said, divergings that opened behind me, there is still the "what if . . ." As I get older, I feel both a twinge of regret and a bit of triumph, never completely one or the other.

*Technically, the internet existed, but was not widely available, certainly not at my tiny liberal arts college.

Woot! Friday Random 10: Vacation edition

This is one of the best random shuffles I've gotten. I almost always get stuff I don't like. But I think I like everything in this list:

The Ghosts That Haunt Me--Crash Test Dummies The Ghosts That Haunt Me
Particle Man --They Might Be Giants Flood
Zanzibar--Hoodoo Gurus Stoneage Romeos
The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead--XTC Nonsuch
Minor Swing--Django Reinhardt Django Reinhardt - Djangology 49
The Blues Are Brewin'--Billie Holiday Lady's Decca Days Volume Two
Your Eyes--The Sundays Static & Silence
King Of The Road--Roger Miller Golden Hits
Where The Streets Have No Name--U2 Joshua Tree
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For--U2 Joshua Tree

Okay, there's some audience participation here. I am planning to take some of my birthday money on music. Everyone suggest songs, albums, artists you think I should buy. I have pretty eccletic taste in music. I'm up for anything--so suggest away. I'll even buy through your iTunes affiliations if you have them.

technorati tags: , ,

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Compatibility funness

I'm a generally unfuckwitted, liberal, not-too-generous, not-too-selfish, relatively well adjusted human being!
See how compatible you are with me!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

I'm 90% compatible with Musey.

Parents: the blame everything on them drug

I was flipping through my Newsweek last night and was stopped by one of those Parents: the Anti-Drug ads. I've been seeing these for a while now. In theory, I agree with the premise of the campaign. I think encouraging parents to be involved, to talk to their kids is a good thing. This particular ad, however, was about keeping tabs on your kids after school. And I thought, okay, good idea, but how am I supposed to do that when I work until six? I have a very flexible employer and I have a husband who's an academic with a flexible schedule, so I think we'll be able to work something out when Geeky Boy hits junior high that allows one of us to be home when he is. But most people do not have this kind of arrangement.

I went to the campaign's website to see if they linked to information on after-school programs or other community resources. Nope. Not much there. In their partners list, there are quite a few good organizations, some of which probably offer some of those resources. In general, however, their campaign is all about using information to combat a drug problem. We know this doesn't work. DARE doesn't work. Just Say No didn't work. They've done studies. What we parents need is support, information on community resources for getting our kids involved in something they enjoy, so they won't want to do drugs. What I've found in my own community is that it's difficult to find these. Most are still sending out information on paper only. If you don't receive this info by mail, you have to physically go somewhere and get it. And for those of us who can barely manage to make it to the grocery store, asking us to take time out of our work day to go get some flyer is crazy.

I'm frankly not overly worried about drugs. I probably should be given my own checkered past, but I kind of have an idea of how it all happened. My parents checked out but at the same time were giving me directives about what I *should* be like. I hope to avoid checking out myself and to only fight the fights that need to be fought. I mean I don't care if my kid dresses all in black or has hair in their eyes. He/she will figure it out. That kind of stance has more to do with peer relationships than with me.

In retrospect, I know that the drugs I did did some damage to my potential. Luckily, I suffered no physical damage, but the amount of time I wasted drinking and doing drugs meant my grades slipped which had all kinds of ramifications. There's no sense crying over spilt milk, but I do sometimes wonder if I wouldn't have really finished my dissertation if I had gotten off track very early on. And I think what was more damaging was not the drugs themselves, but the attitude surrounding the whole subculture. It was not a constructive way to fight authority--which is what we were trying to do at times.

It's not like I have any magic formula to deal with all of this when I have to with my own kids, but I *do* know that it's going to take more than me and Mr. Geeky to handle the whole thing. It's a shame really that the Anti-drug campaign doesn't offer such support.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Birthday greetings

Today was quite a good day--as it should be, of course! I did not get to goof off today, but it was very productive. My colleagues took me out to lunch for Indian food. I love Indian food! For dinner, my family took me to the Japanese steak house near our house. It was also really good! I am so full right now.

I also got a nice bouquet of flowers from my dad--sunflowers, daylilies and yellow daisies. Spring is in my house!

Food fun continues tomorrow as our campus restaurant is having a special Irish meal. Two of my colleagues, including my boss, are from Ireland. I'm looking forward to it. I used to go to this great pub/restaurant in Bloomington, IN called the Irish Lion. I loved that place. This meal will be very close to that--without the Guiness, unfortunately.

Next week, I'm taking a vacation to hang out with my kids--much needed! It will be good to be recharged and ready to go.

Thanks everyone for the birthday greetings! There are so many of us with March birthdays. Maybe next year, we should have a big party.

Happy Birthday . . .

To me! Yay! I'm headed to 40 more quickly than I thought possible. I don't feel anywhere close to 40.

I have to say that in the last 24 hours, the blog world has really raised my spirits. I was tickled at the P/H meme. I was also tickled at the mommy blog thread at Unfogged. Just reading lots of different things made me smile for much of the evening. Thanks, everyone!

Sometime later--when I'm goofing off at work (cause it's my birthday)--I will write something more substantial.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mommy blogging

Over at Unfogged, there's a great post about Mommy Blogs. And even greater are the comments, in which Bitch, Ph.D is, of course, heavily participating. In fact, I can't believe I got to post this before her.

I think ogged is right, by the way. Just think of all the news coverage dooce is getting and that whole NY Times article on mommy blogs. They probably got reamed for that.

I may not like all the mommy/parent blogs I have run into, but I have quite a few on my blogroll and quite a few people in other categories who are parents and blog about it quite a bit.

It's funny because when I see myself on other people's blogrolls, I get categorized all kinds of different ways--parent, geek, writer, techie, academic. I like that, actually. We all play different roles and different people appreciate our different roles. Someone my read my blog for the parenting stuff, someone else may read it for the geeky stuff (rare though it may be), others for something else. Heck, that's why I started the thing, to write about whatever crossed my mind--and sometimes that's my kids.

Search humor

David was commenting on some of his search results. I was just checking mine and they're quite amusing.

#1 for "faculty whining"
#7 for "absent parents"
#1 for "philosophical dilemma"
# 1 for "soccer mom agenda"

Today *will* be a good day

Right? Right? Please? The key I think is just to do what I want and ignore the crazy attitudes of the people around me. I'm formulating a way to deal with rude people. It's just so shocking when it happens that you have no idea what to do about it. It reminds me, actually, of what Wolf Angel was writing about a while back, the way some people treat waiters badly. She was writing about class. But wasn't it Dave Barry who said, "A person who is nice to you and rude to the waiter is not a nice person." I think that's it. Some of these people are probably not nice to anyone, so I should not take it personally. But gosh, I'd like to give them a piece of my mind. Probably not going to happen, but I can dream.

Anyway, I'm going to try to push all that aside, work on the paper I'm writing, work on another blog presentation, make a comprehensive plan for Instructional Technology. I'm going to ignore stupidity around me. Breathe deeply.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Random Monday thoughts

I tried my best to feel good about my job today. And I do. I feel good about the things I'm doing. But I am still easily rocked by the rudeness of some people. What has happened to asking nicely? Since when did it become okay to order people around or to yell at someone for something that isn't their fault? Sigh.

Morale is not too good around me either. There's nothing definite to point my finger to, no particular event or person, simply a piling up of little injustices: people being rude, no raises, no rewards for good work, no career path, no sense of direction, the blurring of job responsibilities, the "do more with less" mentality.

I finished The Amateur Marriage. What a great book! It really made me appreciate my own marriage. In my head, I had composed a really sappy post about what a great husband Mr. Geeky is. But I will spare you all of that and just say that I consider myself very lucky to have found such a compatible partner.

I'm now working my way through Cluetrain Manifesto. I'm liking it so far. What a swith from Amateur Marriage though. I think I'm going to have to order some more books. :)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Getting to know meme :)

1. IF YOU COULD BUILD A SECOND HOUSE ANYWHERE, WHERE WOULD IT BE?
Either in the Loire Valley or an island in the Caribbean.

2. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ARTICLES OF CLOTHING?
My favorite pants are these oatmeal fuzzy pants and I usually wear them with a low-cut pink sweater I got from Target (which I absolutely love). I wish I'd bought five of them.

3. THE LAST CDs YOU BOUGHT?
CDs? None. Downloaded TMBG's Spine.

4. WHAT TIME DO YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING?
7:00 a.m.

5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE KITCHEN APPLIANCE?
Coffee pot. I'm in love with the coffee pot.

6. IF YOU COULD PLAY AN INSTRUMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I used to sing. That's an instrument, right? I'd love to play guitar. Harmonica is a close second.

7. FAVORITE COLOR?
Purple.

8. WHICH VEHICLE DO YOU PREFER, SPORTS CAR, MOTORCYCLE, OR SUV?
Sports car. I really want a hybrid though.

9. DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE AFTERLIFE?
Not really, but I still harbor a sliver of hope.

10. FAVORITE CHILDREN'S BOOK?
From my childhood--Mother West Wind Stories by Thornton Burgess
From my kids'--Harry Potter books

11. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON?
Summer, especially when it's really, really hot.

12. IF YOU HAVE A TATTOO, WHAT IS IT?
No tattoo.

13. IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Time travel.

14. CAN YOU JUGGLE?
No way.

15. ONE PERSON/PEOPLE FROM YOUR PAST YOU WISH YOU COULD GO BACK AND TALK TO?
My sister.

16. WHAT IS UNDER YOUR BED?
Last time I looked--a glass, a couple of socks, a box of sweaters, and lots of dust.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DAY?
Saturday.

18. WHICH DO YOU PREFER, SUSHI OR HAMBURGER?
Hamburger--but only if it's a good one.

19. FROM THE PEOPLE WHO NORMALLY READ YOUR BLOG, WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST?
This time of night? Scrivener or maybe Rana? It's iffy.

20. ON WHICH BLOG DID YOU FIND THIS MEME?
Terminal Degree.

21. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FLOWER?
Daffodils and tulips.

23. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEAL?
My granny's fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and lady peas. With strawberry shortcake for dessert.

24. DESCRIBE YOUR PJS.
Comfy cotton pj's--matching pants and long-sleeved t-shirts. In the summer, shorts with a short-sleeved t-shirt. They're sexy in a comfy sort-of way. I've never been a sexy pj girl. If I'm gonna get sexy, there will be no pj's involved.

25. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BREAKFAST?
Fried eggs over easy, toast w/grape jelly, hash browns, and bacon. French toast is a close second. I love french toast.

26. DO YOU LIKE YOUR JOB?
I love my job.

27. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB?
Actually, I have my dream job. But I'd love to not have to work and maybe to be a full-time writer.

28. WHAT AGE DO YOU PLAN TO RETIRE?
Have you seen my blog? I think I'll be 80. I'd love to retire at 55 or 60.

29. WHERE DID YOU MEET YOUR SPOUSE OR SIGNIFICANT OTHER?
We met at my ex-boyfriend's wedding. It's a long story. I'll blog it on the anniversary of the event.

30. SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO THAT YOU HAVE NEVER DONE BEFORE.
I would like to go to Alaska or Hawaii or both.

Sluggishness

In an hour, the writing group will be here. I need to tidy the living room and bathroom, bring in a couple of chairs. Not only do I not feel like making the preparations, but I don't feel like having the group at all. Primarily, I'm just tired from lack of sleep, but also I'm kind of resenting the intrusion into my quiet afternoon. Normally, we have these things at night, but we agreed to reschedule this one. The screenplay we're discussing is exceptionally good, one of the best pieces we've read, so it's not like I have a lot to say about it. I hate it when I feel lazy like this.

A beautiful Sunday

It is a gorgeous day outside, but cold. I'm ready for the days when it's this bright and sunny and 60 degrees. Heck, this Southern girl actually likes 80 or 90 degrees. Bring on the heat and humidity I say.

I stayed up really late last night reading The Amateur Marriage. It's really a great book so far. I read about 200 pages of it last night. If it were a bit warmer outside, I might go sit out on the deck and read. As it is, I'm contemplating a warm bath instead.

I also read an entire screenplay yesterday in preparation for my writing group meeting today--at my house! And I manged a bit of writing. I'm hoping to do some more today--mostly revising I think.

There will likely be politics later today since I will watch George and Howard (Kurtz) and read the NY Times and I caught up with the political blogs. I'm still finding it all depressing. Maybe I should just start signing over my paycheck to the administration, just forget the charade of taxes and credit cards. Sigh.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Bloglines weirdness

Last night when I got home from drinking, I thought I'd check a few blogs before going to bed. Unfortunately, bloglines was down, so I thought that was a sign to go to bed. I read Dilbert for a bit, then passed out.

This morning, I got up, made coffee and a poptart (yes, healthy, I know) and toddled into Mr. Geeky's office to read blogs. Bloglines was up; I got to read blogs, posted to my own and went to shower.

Well, after the shower, I moved to my own computer for blogging and lo, and behold, bloglines is down again. Dang, dang, dang. (Yes, I know I have a problem.) So then I think, well, it's just too weird that I could read them on Mr. Geeky's computer 20 minutes ago and now, it's down. So I ask Mr. Geeky to check the url. Sure enough, he can get in (PC with Linux/Mozilla) and I can't (Mac with Firefox; tried Safari too). It's really odd. I should e-mail them, but I'll have to wait until Mr. Geeky is finished with some things. So if anyone else wants to or has done so already . . . I'm going to eat now and will e-mail later.

Falling off the tenure track

Last night I was out with friends to commiserate with one about his not passing the 3-year review. I tried to say that with as much of a positive spin as possible, but it's just hard to do. The whole situation sucks. Since Mr. Geeky and I have been here, we have seen quite a few people not get past this mark, but this was the first friend that we've seen this happen to. In previous cases, we either haven't known enough to make any judgement calls or there was some horrible and obvious reason why someone wouldn't get reappointed at the three-year review. Our consensus last night was that there was something wrong with the process. Many people tell junior faculty that the 3-year review is merely a formality, to make sure you're on the right track toward tenure. Some faculty menors know better and have prepared their mentees for the review as much as they would for tenure. There's real inconsistency in the message. As I said last night, the job search is enough of a crap shoot, keeping your job shouldn't be a crap shoot, too.

Although there is a lot of information about the process and what one needs to turn it at what time (cv, dossier, publications, etc.), there are no clear guidelines about what you need to have accomplished in order to be reappointed. This is true for tenure as well. There's no list that says, you need x number of articles, an average rating of x on teaching evaluations and to have served on x number of committees. Even if they don't write these things down, someone (Department chair, chair of the appointments committee?) should give this information to the candidate. Even direct inquiry often results in vague answers: oh, just have good research and teaching. What does that mean?

Although I hate to see someone fall off the track in this way, every time I see this happen to someone, it reminds me of why I got off the train in the first place. I couldn't take this kind of pressure. Of course, I'm riding sidecar to someone else and if he falls off (we find out next year), what will I do? And that's another tragedy in this case. The college will actually lose two good people as a result of this.

And, of course, there are no guidelines for staff either, which has the opposite effect. Instead of losing good people to a vague process, many people who should probably be eliminated end up staying.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Unbelievable

As regular readers know, I somewhat obsessed with my financial situation. I'm really making a concerted effort to cut spending and reduce my credit card debt. So I'm checking my most recent Citibank statement and notice this Credit Protector program fee. I think I signed up for this program just before or just after we moved to Pennsylvania, when my employment status was unsure and all that. Well now that I'm trying to pay off the credit cards, I don't need a $30 monthly fee to show up, making it that much harder to pay off the whole debt. So I call Citibank to cancel and before they transfer me, they try to sign me up for another program!!!

I literally sat on my phone with my mouth open. If you don't think that credit card companies are predatory, think again. Here I am, someone who has for the most part made all my payments, but carried a balance. I am a credit card company's wet dream. These people suck. And while it's my own fault that I got in this situation in the first place, I don't think they should make it harder for me to get out of it. I'm fuming!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Price differentials

I think part of all my stress over money stems from the adjustments I'm still making to the increased cost of living here. Here are just a few examples, from the mundane to the grand:

Average home price
Former red state: 157,350
Current blue state: 273,246 (in the neighborhood we first lived in, it was 800,000)

Daycare/mo.:
Former red state: $345
Current blue state: $810 (it was $950 for Geeky girl as an infant when we first arrived; the costs are coming down a little)

Hair care
Former red state: $25-30 (at a decent salon)
Current blue state: $50-60 (at a similar type salon)

Gas prices
Former red state: $1.40/gallon
Current blue state: $2.00/gallon
(part of an overall trend in gas prices)

In all other indexes--groceries, other housing costs (utilities, etc), our new area costs more. For two years, our salaries were the same. Untill I started working, we basically took a salary cut to move here. I think I'm still reeling from that.

The 3-minute post

Cause that's all I've got. So, so tired today. Mr. Geeky finally got on the plane yesterday, but I had been up until midnight the night before and last night he called me to help him arrange a train home, cause the plane wasn't going to make it. Sigh. So at 11:30, I'm finally in bed. Add two kids tossing and turning and you have a recipe for a rough night.

On a positive note, I'm getting my hair cut this morning. Skipping an hour of work to do it. My boss is gone the rest of the week and there's no one around. I don't know why they don't give us spring break.

Also, I got a babysitter for tomorrow night and Mr. Geeky and I are going out with friends. Yippee!

Okay, my three minutes are up. Maybe I'll be back when I have more time.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Chemical elements

I'm in quiz mode--the brain is not working today. The butt, however, is going to be just fine. found via Rana

Mo... Molybdenum
You scored 38 Mass, 34 Electronegativity, 80 Metal, and 10 Radioactivity!

I like to think of you as the miracle worker in The Princess Bride...
you can do anything and you do it for the betterment of society. Just
because you can raise the dead and make flying wagons and stuff doesn't
mean that you show off about it though. You are capable of forming
bizarre webs of relationships in which individuals are accomplices,
lovers, coworkers, and so on all at once. I once saw you hanging out at
the center of a cycloheptatriene... it was completely freakish and
bizarre, and I'm not sure I've known what to think of you since. But
hey, to each their own. Oh, and stay away from the carbon monoxide...
you suck that stuff up.



My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 75% on Mass
You scored higher than 66% on Electroneg
You scored higher than 99% on Metal
You scored higher than 83% on Radioactivity
Link: The Which Chemical Element Am I Test written by effataigus on Ok Cupid

My brain is perfectly balanced





Your Brain is 53.33% Female, 46.67% Male



Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve




Found via The Little Professor and PZ

No plane

Well, Mr. Geeky's plane lost an engine in Harrisburg. How's that for freaky? I'm kind of glad because it was cold and windy last night and I just did not feel good about sending him up in the air last night. It did mean, however, that I had to make two trips out to the private airport. They're going to make a second attempt today, and if that doesn't work, Mr. Geeky is taking the train.

By the way, there is absolutely no security at these private airports. Anyone can drive up, walk in, whatever. Also, all it takes is a phone call to fly in. And it's right next to the main airport. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Leaving on a jet plane

Mr. Geeky is jetting off on a private plane. I will be single parenting for a few days. Shouldn't be too bad. Things are pretty calm this week. Very few activities and work is slow.

Checking stats tonight, I noticed that I am the #1 hit for "total randomness." I think I use the words total and random quite a bit, not to mention there's an actual post titled "total randomness." Apparently, I'm totally random. I like it that way, thank you.

I'm really hating the weather. My little Firefox weather extension shows 25 and windy, ultimately going down to 17 with snow. Tomorrow it will be 34. This little southern girl is freezing her butt off.

Speaking of my butt. It's sore, both from walking/running yesterday and from my lovely fall down the stairs however long ago that was. Tomorrow, the butt is getting a thorough going over. Actually, the vertebrae leading to the butt are getting a thorough going over. Honestly, I'm not sure there's much they can do except tell me, yep, you hurt your butt. Try not to hurt it anymore. But you know, that's what health insurance is for.

Once again--totally random. :)

Wearing jeans to work

It's official. I've decided. I'm wearing jeans to work today. It's spring break. There's no one around and it will make me feel better to be dressed casually. I was telling Mr. Geeky yesterday that I should quit caring about the weird administrative stuff swirling around that doesn't really affect me and just do my job. It's hard when you care about the direction of your department. But in the end, I have very little effect on that direction and they have very little effect on what I do. So starting today, I don't care unless it really causes me grief.

There are fun things to be done: a new podcast, a paper to write, a project agenda, summer program planning. I need to work on those today.

On the home front, I need to do some more writing--and I have lots of reading to do. I have a screenplay to read by Sunday. Two more books are arriving and they need to be read by the end of the month. I've been doing serious writing about twice a week. I need to take a weekend day. I could have written last night, but I got so interested in reading blogs and then I read a book before going to bed and even though the pad and pen were right next to the bed, I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I did, however, write my senators and congressman about Social Security. You can't tell from my blog, but I'm actually kind of obsessed by this issue. Unfortunately, I'm also frozen in fear over the whole thing. Not a good state. I feel like whatever I do, someone else is going to decide for me and I'll just have to live with the decision. Kind of like working for a big corporation, hmmm.

Do people protest anymore or does the news just not cover it anymore? I guess there's nothing specific to protest yet on the SS front. When there is, can we protest? I live close to DC. I'll bring some pickets or some pitchforks, whatever we need.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Another walking vignette

It is just after dusk. There is a warm breeze. It is beginning to smell like spring--mud, melting snow, fabric softener. Yes, fabric softener. Except for the pain in my knee, the little aches in my spine, I could be 20 and striding across campus, the distint smell of fabric softener emanating from the dorm laundry rooms. I could be on my way to a party, where friend will call out to me when I open the door, offer me a beer and the music will be so loud we can't hear ourselves jabbering about the guy across the room. Or I could be on my way to the basement of the student center, ready to put in an all-nighter at the student paper, where a guy named Web (yes, really) wears a tweed jacket and talks about "putting this baby to sleep" (yes, really). Or I could be on my way to a poetry reading, probably my poetry reading where I will stand at the microphone, lights in my eyes and I will read each line slowly and deliberately. Or it could be 2 a.m. and I am on my way home, slinking across campus after spending the evening under the sheets with a boy, hoping not to run into certain people who might not approve.

As I make a turn to go up the abandoned bus route, the wind is in my face. Someone is cooking and I remember standing at the corner where two buildings meet, one the cafeteria and one a boys' dorm and watching others play ball against the roof--white ball, the game named after the dorm. I sit on the wall opposite and dangle my feet and applaud. I probably should be reading Middlemarch, but what's the worst that could happen?

I want to spread my arms and let the wind take me back there. But the aches and creaks and twinges keep me here, remind me of where I've been, and where I've yet to go.

Monday random thoughts

1. Technology I'd like to see: waterproof computers so I can blog in the bathtub, some kind of thought-transfer device, meal replicators, transporters (can you tell I watched too much star trek?).

2. Really don't want to go to work today. But I will and it probably won't be so bad.

3. Really wish spring would come. There's a chance of snow every day this week through Saturday. Ugh.

4. Has anyone ever discovered that someone you read regularly is really someone you know--like a neighbor or a colleague or a classmate from college?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I need to remember this when I'm down

Found at brina's (though I saw it a while back, too). I liked hers so much, I made my own. Surely this woman could beat anything. Much better than the mild-mannered one at the computer desk over there.




Update: guess her link isn't working--and this is from the hero machine instead. I like her avatar-thingy, though.

Walking and smelling the . . .

Well, nothing to smell yet. I was struck by a horrible headache right after preparing a couple of meals and eating lunch. So I took Tylenol and a warm bath and I almost didn't go out, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining for the first time in a very long time. Geeky Girl went with me, which slowed me down, but that turned out to be a good thing. I could feel the twinge of pain in my left leg and foot, letting me know that yes, indeed, something is definitely wrong. I ignored it.

Geeky girl commented on all the houses along the way, discussing how the wider houses had more stuff in them. I like looking at the houses. Though many of them are similar, Dutch colonials built in the late 1920s, they've been around for so long that they have all morphed into houses that look different enough. One of my favorites is a twin that's been painted several shades of yellow. It reminds me of a sunflower. The people who live there walk all around the neighborhood with their kid and say hello to everyone they see. Their house certainly reflects their attitude. Other houses are white with blue trim. Others have red trim. Some have porches in the front with doors on either side of a chimney. Some have no porch and the door is on the side with a small gable roof to protect entrants from the rain.

When we reached the busy street that leads to the town's center, Geeky girl watched the cars lining up at the stop light. She said she liked watching all these cars; they were funny. And I thought, yes, they are, and isn't it a shame there's so many of them bustling about on such a beautiful day. I was thinking I should walk to places more often. Our town center is nice, with little shops up and down the street. Today, many of them are closed. Only the five and dime is open, its wares spilling out onto the sidewalk--Easter decorations, shovels, lawn chairs. I think, life would be nicer here if more people walked or took trains and buses. I promised myself I'd see about taking a bus to school one day.

At our destination, a little convenience store just beyond the center of town, we bought a bottle of juice, a bottle of water and a dozen eggs: 3.19. We took a different route home, walking past an elementary school that's going to become an administration building. It is old, but Geeky girl thinks the playground looks neat. She asks what an administration building is. I tell her it's where there are lots of offices. She wonders what they will do with the playground. We work our way up to a street with the same kinds of houses we saw on the way. Geeky girl begins to tire, but knows we're not far from home. We pass people walking their dogs, a little girl about Geeky boy's age skipping back home, and a young-ish couple in workout clothes and nice sneakers walking together.

As we turned down our street, Geeky girl began naming the people who lived in the houses. One of the neighbor girls, a fifth-grader, was sitting on her steps. We stopped and talked to her, told her she did well in the talent show and asked her if she stayed until the end. We continued on our way and when we got home, Geeky Girl wanted to go back down to neighbor girl's house and so she did, running, her purple coat flying behind her. I took a deep breath and a swallow of water. How nice it must be to run like that without a care.

Sunday, Sunday

Just another day. I was so behind on the blog reading. Still haven't caught up with the political blogs completely--they write sooo much! I'm planning on tricking myself today and showering and putting on my workout clothes. That way, I won't be thinking, "Well, it's too much of a pain to work out because I'd have to change clothes." How smart am I?

Working out, aka walking, will not take place until after lunch. I'm not even showered yet and I'm following Lisa's plan to cook and freeze stuff today. I'll let you know how the whole thing works out. I'm thinking I need to have a destination walk today--maybe to the library, with a stop by the convenience store on the way home for eggs. I used all the eggs in Mr. Geeky's birthday cake last night.

I have not been walking since my fall down the stairs about a month ago. The fallout from that has been interesting. I have tingling/pain in my left leg which I think is a result of that. I go to a real doctor this week to find out. But since walking doesn't seem to aggravate the problem, I figure it might actually be good for me. Sad thing is, the weather is supposed to turn bad this week, so today might be my only opportunity to walk. I have other exercise plans when the weather is bad. I am so ready for spring.

On the kid front, things are quiet. Geeky boy spent the night out last night and Geeky girl slept in until 10. We watched Spongebob last night. Pretty cute, and yes, Scrivener, the soundtrack seems good, although you don't hear any of it until the credits.

Perhaps I should go shower and start my day now. . .

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A star is born

So here's a link to the video of the talent show. I highly recommend the large streaming version. Geeky Girl is on the right. I'm working on getting it into other formats, but I have limited tools at my disposal here at home.

The talent show was huge. They had it at the high school. It was standing room only in the auditorium. There were easily about 200 people there. It was really brave of them to get up and perform in front of so many people. After I dropped Geeky Girl off backstage, I ran back to the auditorium and stood in the back to watch. I tried hard not to cry.

We went shopping today. Mr. Geeky got gift certificates for his birthday, so he wanted to spend them. I needed jeans and we all just wanted to get out of the house after a week of snow and ice. It was a good outing. Except for me realizing I need a haircut and to lose some weight. Will definitely get back to the exercise routine . . . tomorrow.

Blog party!

Apparently, there was a party here last night. If you haven't read the 106 or so comments on the previous post, you really should. jo(e) and Scrivener have written a long poem about sleeping and dreaming and words. It's really fun and actually quite touching. And then jimbo--father figure that he is--runs them off to bed (or to another party?)

And Ianqui, don't worry, I didn't out anyone. :) I actually showed Sharon's blog (Early Modern Notes) and talked about PZ Meyers blog. I did show my bloglines account and I have the folder for Academic blogs and it was showing 43 new posts. They said "43 academic blogs?" I said, "Actually, there's more than that, that's just the ones that have been recently updated." It was truly funny, like being told the world was round after all.

I have lots to say about the talent show but I'm going to save it until later when I have the video. It was way cute, though.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Hooray for Friday!

I went to bed at 9:30 last night. I was exhausted. Today I did my blog presentation for the Board of Trustees. They couldn't believe there were professors who blog. At the end, though, one of the members who is a professor elsewhere said he thought he'd try this whole blog thing out in the fall. It was actually a very fun experience. I was trying hard, though, not to look like a total geek and gush about how cool I thought blogging was. A hard line to toe.

So the big talent show is tonight. Geeky Girl is beside herself with excitement. I can't believe I'm going to be a stage mom. There will be video. I'll keep you posted.

Looking forward to a relaxing weekend with beer, movies, cooking, books, and other such activities.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Here's hoping for a better day

I'm feeling a little better this morning. I went out to the bus stop with Geeky Boy and chatted with a few neighbors. They're an interesting group--two dads and two moms this morning. I have most of the forms filled out that I need to--two soccer forms yet to go and one music form. We still have to decide what we're going to do about summer. Hopefully, we'll do that tonight or this weekend. I'm seriously considering Lisa's idea to cook food and freeze it.

I have an open day today at work. I have to finish up my blog presentation for the board of trustees. I want to work on a paper I'm writing and I want to start outlining my course for the fall (I know, planning early, but I work full time). So we'll see what happens. I'm still feeling blah, though. Hoping to keep busy to fight the blahs.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Self-indulgent whining, or figuring out the meaning of life

I think I've caught the dissatisfaction bug going around my little blog world. Today should have been a good day. I had a day off. It was Mr. Geeky's birthday. We had the talent show rehearsal. But right after I posted this morning, it all went wrong.

On Wednesday mornings, Mr. Geeky has an 8:00 meeting. Because we're down to one car, logistically it makes sense for him to take Geeky Girl to the meeting with him and then drop her off on his way to pick me up. She can't be dropped off before 8:40. We don't feel comfortable leaving Geeky Boy to fend for himself for almost 45 minutes before his bus arrives, so I stay home and see him off. (See Dr. B's post about this very problem) This morning, however, he missed the bus. Any other morning, this wouldn't be a huge deal. One of us would simply hop in the car and take him to school. But today, with the logistical nightmare we're dealing with, it's 9:30 before we can take him over. And then, of course, it's all my fault. Which pissed me off.

So, now I'm in a bad mood which tends to highlight the things I'm already dissatisfied about. By all accounts, I should be completely ecstatic. I have a good-paying job with good benefits and flexible-enough work hours that I can leave early when I need to and take plenty of sick days, personal days and vacation time. I have meaningful, interesting work. I enjoy the company of the people I work with. I'm given pretty much free reign to do whatever I want. And yet . . . there's still a nagging dissatisfaction at times.

What I decided was that I wanted things to be easier, that I was really tired of fighting for stuff that is just nit-picky. Often, for political reasons, I am required to get feedback or input from people I know will kill an idea. It is just like the Dilbert strip sometimes I swear. And though I understand local politics and I know another place is going to have its own set of politics, the Lilliputians have got me tied up and I find it frustrating.

Let me give you an example. Blackboard. The decision to choose Blackboard as our course management system happened before I got there. I don't really like it. It is a pedagogically unsound tool in a lot of ways. I think there are lots of faculty out there who are using it quite well and really pushing its limits. But I am not going to be a cheerleader for Blackboard even though I am often encouraged to do so. If I worked for Blackboard, then yes, I'd cheerlead all day and night, but I don't. My job is to assist faculty in using technology and to continue to research and make recommendations about technology that most fits a faculty member's pedagogical goals, not to promote Blackboard just because we spent a lot of money on it.

So I have to go to work and fight all those little battles. Every. Single. Day. Then I get home and there's dinner to make and kids to bathe and bills to pay and I want to read something and maybe write something and maybe just freaking relax already. So I want my home life to be simpler too. I don't want to worry about paying bills or making dinner. It's not that I want someone else to do it. I just don't want to feel like it's one more thing I have to do. That's when I think about staying home. If it were my job to do all of those things or if I did all of those things after I'd been, say, writing all day instead of fighting battles, then maybe I would have a better attitude about it.

Like everyone else out there, I'm thinking, "Why, why am I so anxious about all of this? Why the hell do I do this to myself?" Thing is, if I did quit my job and stay home, money would be tight. In a couple of years, this might be more feasible financially, but right now, my income is necessary. I'd like to find a way to make the home life simpler. I'd like to not be the frazzled mom who turns in forms late and forgets to sign the homework folder and forgets when the hockey games are. Right now, I don't know how to do that. I've tried a lot of things--schedules, notes, e-mails to myself. Nothing has worked completely. I gotta do something though because right now I see no way out and I don't like these ups and downs I'm going through.

Happy Birthday Mr. Geeky!

Today is Mr. Geeky's birthday! We don't usually do much for our birthdays. Mine's in two weeks. Sometimes we decided to buy a joint gift. Sometimes we go to dinner, but most of the time, we buy each other a couple of little things and move on. My birthday has almost always fallen during spring break. Throughout college, this was the case, so no one was around to celebrate. Sometimes I was at home or off on a trip, but usually it paled in comparison to spring break itself. This year, my birthday is after spring break so people are around, but that still won't mean much for the most part.

Mr. Geeky's family is big into the birthday thing. I met a majority of his extended family at his father's 50th birthday party, a huge affair that included both sides of the family, friends and even work acquaintances. It was overwhelming. And, I found out, very common for milestone birthdays. It seems overkill for celebrating the day someone was born. I don't know.

For Mr. Geeky's 40th, his family wanted to surprise him by flying here. So I planned a surprise party, inviting a few of our friends over, plus I planned a nice family brunch the next day. Well, Mr. Geeky was surprised alright and couldn't really appreciate the celebration because he was working on two conference papers and an on-campus seminar presentation that were due the Monday after his birthday. He even opted out of the family brunch. I had a good time, though. I promised never to do that again.

There have been lots of other milestone birthdays on his side of the family since his father's 50th and we've missed most of them since we're many hours away now. But I haven't missed them that much. I'd rather just sit around and relax on my birthday. And having a party is nice, but it doesn't have to be a big surprise. I'd rather know about, so I can get excited about it and prepare for it. I always feel a little tense for the recipients at these surprise birthday parties. What if they've had a bad day and feel like being alone and here are 50 people yelling "Surprise!" at them? What if they're depressed about getting older? What if they just don't like parties? Shouldn't the birthday person get to choose what they want to do to celebrate? And maybe that means lying around the house reading a book without being disturbed.

So tonight, we have to go to Geeky Girl's talent show dress rehearsal. Afterwards, we're taking Mr. Geeky to the restaurant of his choice. I've ordered a couple of books for him from Amazon which won't get here until Friday probably. And I'll probably give him this weekend as birthday weekend. He can lie around and do whatever he wants. It's his birthday, after all.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Accomplishments so far

Updated even more!
  • 57 loads of laundry folded and put away
  • 3.5 piles of clutter cleaned up
  • 4 snippets from the news on blogs/blogging recorded onto dv camera
    • Snippets have now been converted and embedded into the Powerpoint pres.
  • 2 lunches prepared and eaten
  • Hot chocolate and hot tea break
  • 1 practice talk given for Geeky Boy (who's a good audience, btw)
  • 1 dinner prepared
  • 1 kid's room cleaned to the point where you can see the floor.
  • 1 conversation with my mother (this is a difficult task).
  • Many, many blogs read (and more to go before I sleep). :)

Snow day

I'm home for the day with Geeky Boy who's had some kind of virus/stomach bug/upper respitory thing since Sunday. School is delayed 2 hours for Geeky Girl. Mr Geeky stayed home yesterday, though I came home early because of the snow.

I'm looking forward to this actually. I'm going to catch up on some housework, do a run-through of my blog presentation (which I will post, I promise), and probably do some writing. We might even build a snowman if Geeky Boy is feeling better this afternoon. There's absolutely nothing scheduled at work today, so I don't feel bad missing. Spring break begins next week, so things are slowing down. By Thursday, campus will be dead.

I look forward to quiet times on campus. No phone calls, very little e-mail, a lot of time to work on projects. Soon I'll be hiring summer students and planning for our summer multimedia program. That is always a bit harried. We usually have our hiring done and our projects selected by early April and then, of course, comes the end-of-semester craziness. Even though we don't usually get as busy as the faculty and students, you can feel the tension. Being right next to the computer lab where all those papers and senior theses and final projects are being composed, we are affected by all that stress. It just takes over the whole building.

So spring break is the calm before the storm and a snow day is a good way to start that off.

Annoying neighbor alert

It's 7 a.m. The neighbor across the street is shovelling snow and has his radio on loud enough so I can hear it through the walls and windows. School is delayed two hours, so I'm sure everyone thought they might snuggle in for some extra sleep. Not anymore. Geez!