Thursday, March 22, 2018

On alternative universes

Last week, after Stephen Hawking died, there was some talk of alternative universes. I don't know if Hawking literally believed in them, or if he liked to joke about their existences, but two instances I saw on the internet:

1. Hawking was apparently asked at meeting what he thought about "Zayn" leaving "One Direction" (a boy in a boy-band; apparently one much-loved by the fans). And apparently Hawking said that given alternative universes, there were some out there where the band was still together, and in fact, there was one where the young woman in question was happily married to him."

I don't know if that's literally true or just one of those things that makes the round of the internet. (I want it to be true). If it is true, if Hawking did say that, that was incredibly kind and....goes against the stereotype of the smart, powerful adult mocking a teen girl's fascination with something.

(I've heard from other sources that Hawking, for all his brilliance, was by and large a decent guy. That makes me happy, in a way. I mean, I know I am a Bear of Very Little Brain - especially compared to Hawking - but I hate the trope that's out there that says "If you're a brilliant person that gives you license to be an a-hole; you don't have to be kind" or, even worse, "It's silly and stupid to care about people's feelings.")

2. But Hawking could also rag on people who could take it:

Hawking may have had (at least 1) Ph.D. but he also Mastered the sick burn.

(John Oliver - I think that's who it is? is asking him if there exists an alternate universe where he (Oliver) is smarter than Hawking, and Hawking responds, "Yes. And also one where you are funny"

And then, despite his limitations from ALS, he smiles, and you KNOW how pleased he was with himself to have come up with that. Then again, I think people who are brilliant in one way often have that kind of quick mind where they can come up with clever retorts or funny things to say. I love making people laugh and while I don't claim any especial brilliance, I am happy that on good days, my mind is quick to come up with things. I'm too "nice," in most cases, for the "sick burn," but I do tend to come up with funny absurd responses to things)

But anyway. Riffing on that....I admit the idea of "alternative universes" appeals to me. Because there's one out there, then, where I wound up well-loved and famous. And another where I'm a wife and mother and am happy doing that. And yet another where I am (as I've talked about before) Benign Dictatrix, and thus can make rules like NO ONE SHALL PLAY LOUD MUSIC THAT EMERGES FROM THEIR CAR IN EITHER RESIDENTIAL OR EDUCATIONAL AREAS (last week, someone parked out behind the labs with their car stereo on "11." It wasn't close to my lab - I could hear it but not enough for it to interrupt the students' work - but had I been in the lab he had been parked right outside of, I might have been out there, yelling and flailing my arms about how the students couldn't work)

I also noted, on Twitter, on the 15th:

"In the alternative universe where cartoons are real life, and Bob's Burgers is a real restaurant, Mr. Belcher is probably having a lot of fun today:

The "Et tu, fruit?" Burger: burger with a slice of pineapple on it
The "Caesar burger": burger topped with caesar salad and stabbed through with a knife."

Later on I thought of:

"The Ides of Starch" - a burger with fries ON TOP OF it, and stabbed through with a knife.

But yes. The alternative universes I can imagine are always more fun than, or nicer than, the one I actually inhabit. (That's actually my "help my brain stop yammering at me so I can sleep" trick, or my "stuck waiting somewhere and don't want to go nuts" trick - imagine another type of universe, whether basing it on some novel/movie/tv show I like, or imagining a different life-path for myself (Lighthouse keeper! Bookstore owner/manager! Pastry chef!)

I've also read a half-baked idea that the Afterlife is actually one alternative universe where we go on living, and we just wink out in another one when we presumably, the way you know, is suddenly you find people who died in your "other reality" are there again....and that's kind of a little comforting to think about.

I've also contemplated that maybe novels are peeks into alternative universes that exist, and therefore, each of our lives is a novel in one of those alternative universes...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Past spring breaks

I got to thinking a while back about the various spring break travels my family and I did, and what I could remember. Four stand out in my mind, in chronological order (as best I remember):

Atlanta/Everglades/Disneyworld (I think that was when I was 10)
Massachusetts - Stockbridge, Cape Cod, and Boston (I think that was the following year)
Harper's Ferry/Williamsburg (Maybe...sophomore year of high school? Or freshman?)
Montreal (High school, I think later than the Williamsburg trip)

For the first one, we flew in to Atlanta. Spent a day or two there (Maybe my dad had meetings? Maybe? I remember my mom and my brother and I went on a Grey Line bus tour, but he didn't come along - very often that was the pattern of our trips; we went somewhere he had meetings and we spent a few days without him, and then when his meetings were done we did stuff together).

I mainly remember the Cyclorama (big thing like a diorama of Civil War stuff) and the historic houses. I remember my brother and I both got little figural erasers of a peanut with a very recognizable grin (this was when Carter was president, and of course he had been a Georgia peanut farmer). I think I still have mine somewhere....After that we drove (rental car) to the Everglades (or maybe we took a short flight? I don't remember).

I liked the Everglades; it was interesting. I remember the boardwalks through the swampy areas to look for alligators, and the forests (so different; palm trees). My favorite part was one of the visitor's centers (I think it was the Flamingo Center, though I don't remember it being pink). It had a bridge between the two halves and there were those big binocular things mounted on them. (As far as I can remember, they were free - I would have been a broke little kid and unlikely to keep feeding quarters in to them). The park was not crowded; I don't know if it was an off time or just if not a lot of people went there, but I remember I was able to grab one of the binocular things and look at the birds (anhingas and roseate spoonbills and maybe there were others) for what seemed like a long time with no one bugging me. (Or it could have been that we went there early in the day - we stayed at a motel in Homestead - and we got to the part as early as it opened).

As I remember, there was a restaurant there where we ate some of the meals - I remember getting Key lime pie, which I had never had before.

After a couple days there, we went to Disney World. That may have been just for one day, I can't remember. It seemed hectic. (Part of the issue was my mom - unbeknownst to me until a year or two ago - was going through perimenopause and was sick to her stomach much of the time.) We didn't go on a lot of the thrill rides; the lines were long and with a small child (my brother) it wasn't possible. And anyway, I didn't like roller coasters (still don't). I remember the Dumbo ride; I liked that - they were Dumbo-shaped "cars" that would go up and down, there was a button in them to make them go up and down as they went around. And we did "It's a Small World." And I remember some kind of submarine ride; I didn't like it because I'm kind of claustrophobic (yes, was, even back then) and didn't like deep water (even though the water really wasn't deep, it seemed to be). I think my parents have a photograph of me with the costumed Miss Bianca (from "The Rescuers") but I was 10 at the time and I couldn't quite enter into the fantasy of it in the way I might have when I was younger.

The following year we went to Massachusetts. First, we went to Stockbridge. I think part of it was it was a convenient stopover, but also - my mom was trying to track down some genealogical information, and one side of her family (the Ames side) apparently lived there for a time. (We didn't find much, I think she went to the cemetery and looked around and they asked people).

We ate dinner at the Red Lion Inn. Even as a kid, I liked "kind of fancy" restaurants. I don't remember what I ate but I remember my parents getting veal oscar, which looked gross to me because of the asparagus on it and the sauce.

(I probably had some kind of chicken thing; I liked chicken as a kid and chicken was usually pretty "safe." My brother probably had a hamburger....). The next day we went to the gift shop, then called "The Pink Kitty" and I remember my parents buying me a little toy mouse....

(The Red Lion still exists, and the photos on that website look a lot like I remember it looking.)

We also went to the Norman Rockwell museum there, which was pretty interesting to me.  I hadn't known much about him before. (I liked the "Four Freedoms" paintings best, I think. The man in "Freedom of Speech" always reminded me of the husband of one of my mom's good friends...)

Next, we went to Cape Cod. I liked this as well. It was almost deserted because it was early spring and was kind of cold. But, that had the benefit that the ranger on duty (who was a nice, older man) was able to give us a lot of personal attention. (He found out I collected seashells and brought part of a whelk egg case from his collection at home to give to me. I still have it). Again, we did a lot of hiking around (Hiking in cool weather is more fun, I think, than hiking in the height of summer when you get all sweaty). It was pretty, and it was interesting.

I remember it had boardwalk trails, too. (I tend to think if you see a boardwalk trail, it's gonna be an interesting hike).  My dad took us to, and pointed out, the Marconi site. I remember that because (a) I had never thought before about the early days of radio - radio was just something that was THERE. (Radio was important to me as a kid. I did not have a tv in my room - we weren't allowed to - but I did have a radio. I listened to a lot of WCLV, nerd that I was). And also, it was such a wild, windswept seeming place, and I remember standing whereever we were (I don't know if we got as far as the site, or just within view of it) and looking out over the ocean and thinking of Europe on the other side....(I had a pretty vivid imagination as a kid, which may be why I liked some of the historical stuff).

I didn't know about Henri Beston's "Outermost House" back then (was a good 20 years away from reading the book) but if I had, I would have wanted to go and see the site where it stood.

After that, we went to Boston. (Again, I wonder if my dad had meetings, or if he was meeting with a would-be collaborator on some research, because I remember doing a walking history tour with my mom....then again, could our dad have taken my brother somewhere I would have been less interested in? I don't know). The only thing I remember from the walking tour was an old, old cemetery with jumbled headstones (I remember thinking that coffins had to be stacked upon coffins). There was an ice cream store near it. (Maybe a Schrafft's? I don't know, I do remember we went there for ice cream*)

(*heh. It seems a lot of what I remember from these trips is (a) food and (b) shopping)

We also went to Faneuil Hall, which was cool and interesting (and had a toy store, I remember that).

I can't remember if that was the trip (there was a much, much earlier Boston trip when I was very small) where we went to the USS Constitution. I don't remember much of that but I remember we saw it, so that's why I think it must have been the earlier trip....

Then, when I was in high school, we took a couple trips. First, to Harper's Ferry**

(** Yes, National Parks are a theme. My dad used to teach a National Parks course for the Geography majors, and I think a lot of these trips he was able to partly write off on taxes because he was gathering material and taking photos. I know my brother and I featured in a few of the slides he showed his class...)

Harper's Ferry had a direct link for us - my brother and I grew up in Hudson, Ohio, which was the home of John Brown, who did the Harper's Ferry raid, so that was of interest to us. I remember it mostly as being a lot of old buildings, few or none of which were actually open to go in, and it didn't seem to be very heavily staffed. (It was fun to walk around, though, and I think we also hiked a little). We stayed at a funny old hotel - a very old creaky building up on a hill - I think it was called Hilltop House? (Which is apparently no more - it closed in the early 2000s) It was the oldest place I ever stayed in to that point. The room we had was big - there was a large main bedroom and two smaller rooms off it, so my brother and I each had our own room for the stay. There was no television in the room; I think the idea was people went down to the lobby and socialized.  There was also a restaurant there, and that was the first time I learned of the existence of the polite fiction of the "private club" - West Virginia (or at least that county) was, at that time, dry, and my parents wanted a glass of wine, so they had to each pay a dollar and they got a little card indicating they were a member of the restaurant's "private club." (I think some of the restaurants here did that before we got "drinks by the glass" around 2008 or so).

From there, we drove to Williamsburg. Again, the history - I liked walking around the place, I liked listening to what the docents had to say. I think they were even less all-in for historical accuracy then than they are now (My mom donates a little to them and gets a magazine), but it was pretty informative. I remember the armory and the printer's shop and the horse-drawn wagons. I didn't do handcrafts as much then or I would have been even more interested in the shops where people made stuff. (I still have three small cloth dolls I bought from one of the shops, apparently made by a local woman - they represented a mature couple and their grown son, or at least that was my headcanon). My brother got one of the tricorn hats, which featured for several years after that in Hallowe'en and book-report costumes.

The last trip I remember from my "childhood" (though at this point I might have been as old as 15) was a family trip to Montreal. We didn't stay IN the city, I think (as was typical) my dad went for a more affordable choice, we stayed in one of the outlying areas. (I want to say it was Longueuil? Maybe?) We did drive into Montreal for a historical tour (I remember going to a big cathedral) and to the Botanical Gardens (It was Sunday, I think, and it seemed like the whole world was there). I think I remember a "monk's garden" and a medicinal-herbs garden there. And I want to say there was also a cafeteria sort of place where we either bought lunch or sat to eat a lunch we carried with ourselves.

We must have done a bus tour, I remember the cathedral and also seeing Habitat 67 (Which I thought was incredibly cool but now realize it must cost a king's ransom to live there, if you can even get a property in it)

(I remember one night in Longueuil, we got broasted chicken from a carry out place. It had not yet become common in the States so it was a novelty. I also remember my dad taking me to a deli sort of place - I think he was concerned they would only speak French and (bless his heart) he thought my high-school French would be enough. Luckily, the people were Anglophones....I learned many years later that Montreal has a considerable Jewish community, though I cannot remember if this was a Jewish deli or not)

I did get to use my French a little. The hotel we stayed at had breakfasts in the restaurant and one day I carefully (on the urging of my dad) figured out how to say "the French toast is very good" to the woman who served us (who was also one of the cooks). I cringe now to think of it, but she did smile and say, "Oh, c'est belle!" in response to my compliment.

I also got to buy a few comic books and things in French, and a French copy of what had been a favorite picture book when I was a child ("Daisy Dog's Wake-Up Book"). I THINK we also stopped in Toronto, or at any rate, went shopping SOMEWHERE where there was a mall, I remember that. (I also remember buying a Sindy doll - at that point I was collecting dolls and it was cool to find ones that weren't common in the US.)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Paddy's!

This was drawn by (MLP Comics artist) Tony Fleecs, it is from his DeviantArt page.

They may have missed a trick in not giving Lyra an accent....she could definitely be an Irish pony, with that harp cutie mark.

(I am, I hope, in Illinois or very close to it as this posts - Amtrak is not always the most timely mode of travel)

Friday, March 16, 2018

approaching escape velocity

* I think I have enough clothing packed. Threw in a skirt at the last minute in case church on Sunday happens. (No one would look askance at me wearing slacks, but I prefer - from long practice - to wear a skirt).

I do still have to decide on shoes: tennis shoes, maybe wear the clogs (which would double as 'semi dressy' shoes) and maybe also carry a pair of Birks. I don't know.

* Books have been packed. Probably too many books, but I like to have a "safety book" (at least one more than I could read in the allotted time) just in case.

I didn't quite finish "The Cruellest Month" last night - 30 pages to go - but I might be able to read that before I leave. I want to know how it ends up, less for "who murdered the person" and more for "How is Gamache going to deal with the ugly situation where reporting someone for corruption is coming back to bite him?"

* Because of unpredictable temperatures in the sleeper, I also have lightweight pajamas, heavier weight pajamas (both in carry on that will be in the room with me), slippers, and one of those fleece blankets that folds up into a little pouch.

* "Comfort Ponies" have been packed.

* Yarn has been packed, as have the two in-progress sock projects. So I have yarn for a bunch of socks, the hippo kit, yarn for a shawl, and I also threw in a pattern for a unicorn/horse that an ITFF friend sent me for my birthday, in case I feel like I want to make more toys. (I think I will do this one as a plain horse, aka "Earth pony," and do it out of slightly-more-realistic colors. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it will be white with a pink mane. I don't know.)

* I got my meds and my mouthguard and my cosmetics and toothbrush and the hair pomade I use (there will be shampoo and conditioner there) and a hairbrush and the special-snowflake deodorant I have to use (hives - so I have to use an 'all natural' one with minimal scent or other ingredients)

* I have my ticket.

* I still need to go to the bank and also grab some water in case they don't supply it on the train. And I need to do stuff like set the automatic waterers for my plants and unplug some of the energy draining/heat generating appliances, and turn down the thermostat (though it's supposed to get hot here so I doubt the heat would be coming on anyway). And I need to figure out lunch, unless I grab a less-healthful option when I go out to the bank. (I do have frozen things I could defrost one of for a lunch at home....)

So I think I'm ready. I do want to do some clothes-shopping over break (I need another "transitional weight" dress or skirt, and maybe a new pair of lightweight slacks) and I need to get more of the "squeezy golden syrup" (it's reasonable at either the Fresh Market or Meijer's; it costs nearly double that off Amazon so it makes more sense to buy it up there and carry it back. None of the food stores I normally frequent currently carry it. (Oh, how I wish we had a proper import shop. In North Texas there IS somewhat of a Brit expat community so you'd think one would do OK, but....) I use it to sweeten my tea, and while it's not ESSENTIAL, it's very nice, and sometimes having nice things is nice, and makes life a little better.

My train is already slowly trundling towards Mineola, and I heartily hope it meets with no delays this go-round. (Last time it was delayed by many hours; I had to eat dinner at the burger joint in Mineola and then sit and wait forever. Though this go-round, if it was seriously, seriously delayed, I could delay leaving here a bit - that's one use of Daylight Saving time, I guess, you're less likely to have to drive in the dark in the evening....)

I have a couple of embargoed posts but otherwise I will be back in abouot a week.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

nope, no milkshake.

I have to go to the bank but I got out of the office too late - it was like six minutes before the drive-through closed and I didn't want to risk it. I will have to do it tomorrow. (I have a big note-to-self on my master list of things I need. I need cash for tips and also emergencies - like if I need gas and my cards won't work).

I did run to the chain-pharmacy and get more Claritin (was nearly out) and a new pack of earplugs (essential travel items for me: earplugs and a dark eyeshade).

I decided against the milkshake; it was stressful enough getting cross-town to the Walgreen's; lots of aggressive and entitlement-minded drivers who figured "whoever wants the right of way most should get it, forget what the laws say." Trying to drive any time between about 3 pm and 6 pm here in town is just bad. So I went home and ate up the last of the chili I made earlier this week.

I threw enough clothes for a week in the suitcase. I had a headache so I hope they match each other well enough and I didn't do something like take a bunch of black and grey shirts with only tan trousers.

I did pick out books - the Churchill book I want to finish, plus a copy of "The Everglades: River of Grass" (Yes, I bought a copy, after thinking about Marjory Stoneman Douglas again). And a couple of British mysteries - an Inspector Littlejohn ("The Case of the Famished Parson") and one called "Information Received" (the first of the Bobby Owen mysteries).

And the yarn is in. I need to pack up the Weasley Homestead socks with their pattern and put them in my bag, and tomorrow I need to add the "Comfort Ponies" (I always travel with a stuffed toy these days) and stuff like my cosmetics and mouthguard (Again, I have the Master List so I am less likely to forget anything. And my ticket is already in my carry on; that and my medications, money, and ID are probably the most crucial things...)

But yeah. This week has been excruciatingly long and I am looking forward to going to bed tonight, and I am looking forward to sitting down in the train compartment tomorrow night and pulling out a book and being able to read uninterrupted.

I'm so done

I did one of those things just now that professors sometimes have to do, but that makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I just had to report a difficult student for bad behavior.

Without giving too much detail: this is someone who chronically skips class. They e-mail me claiming they have documentation as to WHY, but I have never seen any (in one or two cases, they said they lost it). This is someone who is repeating the class in part because they had poor attendance, didn't do the work, and did poorly in lab last time. They are skipping lab now - in fact, they told me they thought they didn't need to go because "I still have all the lab assignments from last time." They come to class, sit for fifteen minutes, and leave.

The parts that make me slightly sick are two:

a. It's possible they have some kind of medical or disability issue, but I am not a mind reader. They have not gone to any of the offices (there are two on campus that can help) that assist with this. I made a big fat hairy deal on the first day of class (for which I believe they were present) that if they had ANY problems, they needed to work through these offices, I could not give special treatment or accommodations without documentation. But I have a sinking feeling it will come out they have an Issue and I will somehow be painted as the bad guy.

b. This is someone who has got upset with me before - it was one of those truly trivial things - on the attendance- reporting (unofficial) I am required to do, I had them down for one absence more than they had at that point and they came and griped at me. And they griped at me for saying they had "poor attendance" (they come to the first 10-15 minutes of class and then leave. In my book, that is non-attendance. Especially since they are dinking on their cell phone the whole time.)

I do have the benefit of my chair knowing (and I e-mailed her about making the report, just in case the student comes in to grieve at her about me) and she backs me up but:

they don't pay me enough for this.
they really don't.

this is someone who, if they act like this in all their classes, should not be in college. They need to take a couple years, GROW UP a little, straighten out whatever life issues they have, and then come back.

I don't know. When I was a student, someone pulling these stunts would have been told to leave campus. Yes, I know: I came from a more privileged background and I went to a college where the expectations were different (and also, they had a huge endowment and were operating in an era of higher state budgets, so they didn't have to scrabble for every dollar of tuition) but it does wear me out a lot how faculty's well-being is sometimes seen as of less importance than that of the students. (The whole "why don't you just" brigade, where the follow up is "come back in the evening and hold nighttime office hours" or "just let people come in and take exams whenever instead of having a set time for them" or "have yourself videotaped giving your lecture and post it on the CMS page" or "offer lots of extra credit work" (If someone won't do the regular work, why should I write and grade extra assignments for them?)

I dunno. Ninety-five percent of my students are fine-to-great, but there are those few who just....they suck all the air out of the room and I know I have less energy for the students who are NOT difficult. (This happens in public schools, too: the kids who are tractable/who work independently get ignored because the troublemakers take all the time/energy of the teacher, and it's not fair to the well-behaved students)

But yeah. Debating swinging by the Braum's and getting a milkshake because I don't drink alcohol but I need SOMETHING right now.

Oh, so tired

* Still tired, though I am pretty sure this is allergies DESPITE me taking time before Elders' and Board meeting to quickly wash my hair (and going to the meetings with still-slightly-wet, skinned-back hair).

* I really need spring break. I plan on doing a lot of sleeping. Also, my parents are closer to the eastern edge of the time zone (so the sun will appear to rise earlier than it does here) and hopefully I can get my body clock properly recalibrated. (And a big un-prize to those in our government - both state and feds - who are talking about making this abomination year-round. So you want people who have to go to work early in the morning to be even more likely to die in a car wreck? I could be down with year-round DST IF they were to change our work schedules slightly so we didn't have to be places before 8 am or so. But with 8 am classes, I really like to be in at 7, so I can deal with overnight e-mails and look at my notes and the like.)

* I think I might have one time-embargoed post over break (if I can get it written this evening) but again: these mid-semester breaks really sneak up on me (Thanksgiving is the same) and I feel not-ready for them (in the sense of not being ready to travel, not in the sense that I don't need a break).

*  I dunno. The second week of any month is just hard because of meetings at church. I guess it's hard for everybody who is in both CWF and on the board.

* I have to figure out what books to take on my trip. I guess I take Young Titan and try to finish it (I kind of pushed it aside when I got so into "The Cruellest Month"). I HAVE a lot of books, I will just have to find a couple I particularly want to read that will seem like good "train" books. (Mystery novels usually work well, as do popular-press history or "science lite" books.) I do have that monograph on soil invertebrates but I don't know if I can bring myself to read it on break.

* So apparently Toys R Us is closing all its stores? I know a few people who have said it's been awful in the past 5-10 years (I do not know; the one in Sherman closed back around 2004 and I haven't been in one since). On the one hand, if they had bad business practices, they should go. But on the other hand - I admit, I do worry about a future where you have only the Wal-Mart and Amazon behemoths for shopping, and if they don't carry what you want - or you can't wait for its delivery - or it's something a little unusual - you're out of luck. I suppose some of the larger cities still have independent toy shops? I don't know.

I have also read that the up and coming generation of kids "plays less" with toys, and I confess, that makes me a little sad. I guess a lot of them would rather play Minecraft and the like? One thing I have noticed about the up and coming generation of college students: more and more, you get people who are uncomfortable with "doing stuff." You can kind of tell who played with Lego (or built stuff out of scrap wood, or whatever) because they are more comfortable working with things, and also (I think I've said this before) I think people who did things like cooking or crafts or building stuff as a kid is better at following directions. (The following direction thing drives me to distraction - we have stuff laid out as simply as possible in the lab book, and I also verbally go over the important points, and yet people just IGNORE some of the instructions, to the point where, for safety things - like avoiding cross-contamination - I have to hover over people and watch them and frankly it's a lot of wear and tear and anxiety on me). I also admit some amazement when I say THIS ONE THING IS IMPORTANT and about half the class, it's like they didn't even hear it. (Maybe they did not, I don't know). I just know....I was so uptight as a student that I hung on every word of a prelab, and sometimes took notes, because I didn't want to break stuff or screw things up.

And also, as someone who kind of low-level collects dolls and other toys, it just makes me sad: I would like to be able to still buy things like Monster High (though I guess Mattel has killed that line, based on some things I've read) into the future.

It kind of sucks: as a kid, I had no money (parents were stingy with allowance and pay for chores) and also there weren't that many good toys out there. As an adult, I have money to (at least occasionally) buy a toy for my "collection" and slowly they seem to be being phased out in favor of clicky flashy things on a screen.

(Well, there's always amigurumi, I guess.)

I guess also part of it - from stuff I've read - is that kids want to grow up really fast and eight-year-olds are abandoning things like dolls as "babyish."

(I played, on some level or other, with stuffed animals, until I was 12 or 14. Granted, I was an extremely late bloomer in some regards, but still: I think putting away the trappings of childhood too early is sad. I would tell those kids, adulthood REALLY does not have that much to recommend it; I would rather imagine horses running across the prairie and having adventures instead of worrying about whether Brendan "like-likes" me and trying to learn to put on make up.)

I dunno. If I could go back, even for a short time, to having that imaginative child's mind where I could easily create an entire world, and families, and adventures, out of a small group of toy animals and some dollhouse furniture, I'd swap being an adult for it, at least for a couple days. 

* Board meeting was pretty good last night. Not quite as long as I feared. Apparently the minister we have now is semi-permanent, which is a giant relief to me - we cycled through a lot of temporary people and each time they drew near the end of their time, I'd wonder: so is the decision going to be made that we fold? And so far, the answer has been "No."

The presentation on the planned homeless shelter - the main group working for it (there are three, and frankly, I think they need to join forces early on instead of trying to work in parallel for the same goal) has it well thought out: the big plan is to provide a "hand up" with the goal of getting as many people as possible into a position where they have a job and can pay for an apartment/rental house themselves, and also to help with other underlying problems (e.g., drug abuse). At this point no commitment from churches being requested (they don't have their non-profit status yet; they just recently applied for it) but at some point we are going to be asked to contribute $100 a month, which I think we can do, and I think if some people know about it, they'll increase their giving to cover that.

The other big presentation was about the bell choir - we have a set of bells given as a memorial but they hadn't been used for years and the rubber/polypropylene inner parts perished, and so they need repair, but the good news is it's something we can do ourselves given the parts, so there's a plan to have a few workdays to do that. I volunteered: I'm pretty good at fiddly things, and I have smaller hands than some people, so reaching up in some of the bells will be less of a problem.

I also gave a tentative commitment to play in the choir. I don't know about that given my history of terrible stage fright with clarinet and piano, but with bells I'm not the only one and I'm only responsible for part of it. And if I do one performance and hate it I can drop out.

There was also further talk of "safety procedures." The newest plan is to equip the choir with whistles, and if they see someone trying to get in (they have a view of the main doors, which are glass), they are to blow the whistles and then we all bug out into the area below the baptistry. The idea being: it will buy us the five minutes or so that it would hopefully take for the police to arrive, and it's probably smarter than running outside.

And also, to be honest: I suspect the two most likely threats we face would be a tornado (which would require the same safety procedure: the under-the-baptistry area is below ground and well sheltered by strong walls) or fire (in which case you get out whatever door is nearest to you). As I commented quietly to the people next to me: "if some person wanted to make a statement, they'd go to Victory Life" (the very large, well-known, non-denominational church in this town. We are small and sort of out of the way, so I suspect we are at less risk for any kind of harm-doer).

And to be honest? I suspect if we had a random threatening-seeming person wander in, they would more likely be someone impaired on a substance (years ago, apparently, a drunk person did stumble into the sanctuary and the deacons gently guided him back outside and sat with him until paramedics came) or who was otherwise not in their right mind - and in that case, I think the "correct" (certainly: the Christian) response is to strive to calm the person down and get them somewhere where people who are trained to care for them can. The board moderator had talked to police and said they discouraged people with carry permits from carrying, because "things could get confused" and I presume that means that someone who is merely disturbed and not an actual threat might have people "drawing" on them, or, there might be friendly-fire type errors in a really dire situation. The police officer seemed to think getting out of the sanctuary as fast as possible would be the better response and that relieves my mind; I tend to agree with him and I am glad that my gut feeling is backed up by someone with actual training.

But I will say it was a little hard going there and Steve not being there, and me having to remind myself "he's not just on vacation" because honestly that is still what it feels like - that he's away on a trip, and some day I'll be down at church for something and he'll walk in being his loud self.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

one thing ready

My long day is done. (And without me winding up as a future Board Moderator at church; instead, I am likely to be a future bell-choir member, which is less stressful and less effort and probably more fun, given the other people who will likely be in it with me)

I did one thing to prep going on break:


Got out and wound off yarn for my "on trip" projects. The plain pink is the Wollmeise for the Paddington's Garden shawl; the purple and green is "Chaudron Baveur" (Leaky Cauldron) from Biscotte et Cie. (for just simple socks). The "Time to Make the Donuts" is the pink and orange, also for simple socks, and the plain grey-blue is for the Will-o-the-Wisp socks. And the hippo kit is a freebee from one of the British knitting magazines a while back, so I plan on making her.

I also have two ongoing pairs of socks I will take. That's quite enough for a week. 

Wednesday morning things

* To be honest, my sleep schedule is STILL messed up from the time change. (It's always worse in spring. In the fall, my body is like "yay another hour of sleep" that first night, and then after that, I'm good, and I wake up at the usual time.)

* Today is just going to be long, no bones about it: class in the morning, field lab this afternoon, student coming in AFTER field lab (no, this is not the chronically absent and unreliable student) to make up an exam - I moved the exam and it's inconvenient for several people). Then I have Elders' meeting at 6 and Board at 6:30. I am hoping I have enough time between the student making up the exam and Elders' meeting to at least wash my hair, because pollen from the field lab.

 * There is someone here (student) that I am helping who is being very demanding, who seems to expect lots of extra treatment, expecting I go way out of my way. And of course I don't hear even the ghost of a thank you. I am trying to be forgiving and say "maybe the person is embarrassed at being so demanding and they realize they are a problem so it's hard for them to say 'thank you'" but I'm having a hard time with that.

* So yeah. I just need a break. I'm not even going to say "I need to be fussed over a little" because knowing some of my dad's chronic health issues and the time dealing with them it takes my mom, I know I can have no expectation of being fussed over. (That is the saddest thing, I think, about being an unattached adult in this world: you have no one to fuss over you. As I've complained copiously: I do a lot of cheerleading of others, a lot of emotional support, and frankly, a lot of unthanked labor. But I don't often feel like I'm on the receiving end of any of that, and while I can suck it up and keep soldiering on, at times it gets hard)

* I'm just not feeling it today. I'm sure part of it is the long day, part of it is going to Board meeting tonight knowing Steve won't be there. Part of it is just worries about everything: other people in my life who are not doing well, worries about the future of my career (in today's Regents newsletter, there was a warning about buying prescriptions online, and now I'm anxiously wondering if this is a lead-up to our drug coverage getting axed), worries about the state of the world in general.

(I wrote all of that before 10 am)

* Weirdly, as I walked into my 10 am class (ecology lecture, though about half of it was explaining the sampling techniques we will use this afternoon) I had a huge burst of energy. Sometimes that happens to me and I act positively caffeinated. I think I scared the students a little.

(I think it's some kind of weird effect of the cardio workout, which I did this morning - for a couple hours after it I'm tired/low-energy, but then things re-equilibrate and I get a burst of energy. And my mood goes way up, which is a desirable thing and is a reason I exercise as much as for any kind of weight-loss effect)

* There will probably be no pie for me on pi day. (I did allude to it in class, because I was talking about measuring tree diameters using a DBH tape, which is scaled to a factor of pi, so when you wrap the tape around the circumference of the tree, it tells you the diameter. Yup some ecologist/forester years back was either (a) sufficiently lazy or (b) sufficiently compulsive to be bugged by the inaccuracy of other diameter-measuring methods that he* came up with a tape that did it automatically)

(*I assume it was a "he," the measurement is called "Diameter at breast height" but it assumes said "breast" is 4.5 feet off the ground, which would assume a height of around 6' tall. Also, I DOUBT a woman would put the word "breast" in a measurement after years of hearing guys snicker about it. Wikipedia offers no help, other than to teach me the term "butt swell" (the wide spot at the base of the tree, which makes my inner 12 year old giggle). I had always called it "base" or "root flare" before this...)

* I do need to make time (Maybe tomorrow if not today) to wind off two skeins of yarn. I am taking the current socks-on-the-needles (some just-simple weird striped socks of Online, and the current pair of Weasley Homestead socks) but I also want to wind off the "Storm" colored birthday yarn (for a pattern called Will O' the Wisp that seems ideal for it. And I have some funny stripey yarn from (I think it is) Fibernymph in a colorway called "Time to make the donuts" (YES, in Dunkin' Donuts colors: hot pink, orange, and brown. And I had to have it because I sometimes say to myself, under my breath, "Time to make the donuts" as I head off to class*)

I also dug out the "Suß" yarn and the "Paddington's Garden" pattern; I think that's going to be the one "bigger" project I take along. (That yarn is already wound off and ready to go).

(*I sometimes wonder: would I have been happier as a "little old donut maker" instead of what I do? I mean, even given the crazy-early hours bakers have to get up - I kind of keep those hours NOW. And everyone likes donuts so I assume a lot of the people coming into a bakery are happy. And even though donuts are "controversial" in some circles (the sugar in them. Or the fat. Or the gluten), you don't see people doing "die ins" outside donut factories or throwing, I don't know, melted butter on bakers like people sometimes do surrounding the sale of meat. Then again, making donuts probably pays even less than professing does these days, so....)

*But yeah - no pie for me on pi day. I will have approximately one hour to wash my hair/eat/maybe do Duolingo or piano practice/find a devotional for Elders' meeting when I get home. So not even time to go get corn chips and have "Fritos chili pie" with the leftover chili I will be inhaling for my dinner. (And nothing else pie-like in the house: not even a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie). And probably no time AFTER board meeting; I am expecting between choosing a new vice-moderator (Steve was Vice Moderator before) and the presentation from the person who is starting up a homeless shelter in town, I am predicting it will be after 8 when I finally get home.

* Then again, my mom did get (and freeze, so it will stay fresh) a little cake for me from the really good cake shop in their town. Their insurance agent sends a coupon every year for a free (small, like 5") birthday cake and she went and got my dad's yesterday and got one for me at the same time. (The cake shop is hard to get to, so I can see only doing one trek out there). Chocolate cake with almond frosting - she knows what I like.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tuesday morning random

* Holy cow, Friday is the start of my spring break. That sneaked up on me. I still have to do a LOT of laundry (to have clothes ready) and pack. (Wednesday is going to be a lost day: day full of teaching, plus Elder's and Board meetings at church, and I expect Board to be long-ish as Steve was to be the moderator starting this summer, we will have to promote someone into that position. Sigh. And also, we're going to have a presentation from someone who is trying to get a homeless shelter started here - which is a super important and necessary thing, but I also know it will mean the meeting will be long. They're looking for board members and I'd do it except I'm doing too much already. (And I might wind up being called to be vice-moderator if the fellow who was to be vice-moderator after Steve moves up into moderator...and that would mean I'd be moderator in 2019....) I bet, though, that we will have SOMEONE who will volunteer.) But yeah. I have to make time to pack, I guess that will be Thursday night though I might try to get some of the laundry done this afternoon/evening.

I also have to think about projects and books to take. I'm close enough to done with "The Cruelest Month" that I may well finish it before traveling, so I may grab one of the new-to-me vintage British mysteries for on the train, and I might try hauling the soil invertebrates book I bought used (it's one of those dense monographs) to see if I can force myself to read it. Or I take my German books and work on that. I still struggle with some of the abstract vocabulary and I'm slow to pick up how the more-complex sentence structures (like: when you can use what clauses where) work, and I think I need bookwork for that instead of the fundamentally parrot-work that Duolingo is.

I will probably take the 2 pairs of ongoing socks, and maybe some more sock yarn. I MIGHT wind off the birthday yarn for the shawl (I found a simple triangular pattern I want to use - Wing and Wing, bought from Ravelry shortly after I got the yarn). Or I take the Paddington's Garden pattern and the pink yarn ("Suß" by Wollmeise) I bought for it. I don't feel up to dragging along anything big, or that takes eleventy-hundred different skeins of yarn, so neither of the blankets and not the owl sweater....

* My allergies are really bad right now and I'm exhausted. My eyes feel puffy and I'm covered with itchy hives. The ONLY thing I did differently yesterday was to take my soils class out around campus and we did attempts at the double-ring infiltrometer test (measures how fast a known quantity of water enters the soil; it is not entirely unlike the "perc test" you have to do for siting a septic drainfield) and the bulk-density tests. I was down close to the soil a lot and I could smell the molds coming off it.

I will say lab was more successful than I hoped. This is a pretty likeable class, they generally have good attitudes. (Unlike a class of several years ago, which had a critical mass of guys who apparently had NEVER had a woman professor - or never had a competent one and couldn't believe one could be. They were rude to me in many ways and I remember them laughing about the whole bulk-density thing because it is kind of a "butter churning" motion. I did get them back because after demonstrating it once, I said "Now you try it" and handed the sampler to one guy, and I guess he didn't realize it weighed like 50 pounds, and he nearly dropped it. Not that they showed me any more respect after that*....) But at least this time people were like "I want to try that!" and the guys were joking with each other about "try your strength" and how quickly they could get a sample. Also I found that one of our bulk density samplers still works in the sense of you being able to unscrew the vessel (this is a problem with them; they get stripped threads or soil gets caught in the threads and cements them together) so that made working with it simpler.

(*From past experience, I often get mad respect from students after doing something like that; I remember way back when I was a TA and had a jerky athlete - who thought he was God's gift to the university, one of those - in my ecology class, and one day we were out doing forest sampling and a stick insect landed on him and he Freaked. Out. Like, screaming "oh my G*d, get it off me, get it off me" and I just reached over and gently picked it up and held it up for the class to see and talked about them and their camouflage and what their ecological role was, and then very gently set it on the bark of a tree because "I don't want to hurt it" and a couple of the students came up to me after class and were like "that was awesome" because apparently the guy bugged them too. I've also had students here comment on (A) "Wow, you really move fast in the field" (often with some variant of "your legs aren't even that long" if it's someone taller than me) or (b) "Wow, that thing really is heavy" about the bulk-density sampler. (It is, but I take it as a point of pride to haul it if I have to. Usually one of the guys volunteers to carry it part of the way after he learns how heavy it is...)

* CWF was last night. It is kind of an effort to go but I do think sometimes I need to make that effort to be out around people. The devotional part of it was about love (reference made to the ugly, battered childhood toy that a kid hangs on to because of love....and I thought of a particular one I still have, that I keep under a pillow on my bed, that yes, is that very childhood toy). And the person doing the devotional handed out paper and asked us to write, in 25 words or less, a way of saying "I love you" without actually using the word "love" and I was surprised at how many complained how "hard" that was....I immediately knew what I'd say:

"You are very special to me and my life is better because you are in it."

Perhaps a somewhat self-centered description (as an alternate, I wrote, "I want the best for you," which I think is the true definition of love - sometimes wanting the best for a person means you don't get what you want (like: they have to move away to pursue an opportunity in life, or, like with children, you have to see them grow up and leave the nest). But I didn't find it that hard and I realized, as I heard other people read theirs: Could we all have written what we wanted to hear from someone who loved us? I know what I wrote was kind of what I would long for a loved-one to tell me at some point.

The funny thing was, the little "online story" that suggested the activity, said that the one SHE did with a class ended with one person saying things like "I've seen worse haircuts." "These cookies are hardly burned at all" and "Oh honey, cuddle up next to me so you can warm up your feet." More of an action thing. (And maybe that's why I'm disappointed in love? I want or expect high-falutin' romantic statements when I'd probably be better off being satisfied by someone telling me a little white lie to make me feel better? I don't know.)

But yeah. For all of my claims of being "cynical" about love (probably because I have been sufficiently disappointed in it in my younger life) there is still that romantic deep down in there, who longs for someone who will quote Byron at me (yes, I know, but) or similar things. Even though that doesn't happen in real life, and chances are the Byron-quoter is going to turn out to be creepy in some way. (You don't always get what you want, and most often, you should be happy if you get 10% of what you want, I think)

I dunno. I've always been better at friend-love than the other kind. (Maybe we all are?)

Monday, March 12, 2018

things I recommend

Just a palate-cleansing post after that last angsty one.Here are some things in past weeks that have made me happy:

1. Making afghan squares/granny squares. No, I can't see ever wearing a garment made of them (though, IDK, maybe if one could whip up something fast to go as a hippie for Halloween....) But they are nice for making blankets of.

2. Poetry on YouTube read by its poets:

(LOVE Yeats.)

(LOVE Dylan Thomas' voice. And also, as I grow older, I understand that poem so much better - the wise men who are upset because they took the safe path, the good men who couldn't do more...)

(And I love this because Williams' voice is so DIFFERENT than I imagined it would sound - it's higher, and there's just a HINT of his New Jersey background there....and it kind of cracks me up. Sorry, but it does)

That's one of the joys of You Tube - being able to find recordings of people reading their own poetry. (Or sometimes: composers playing their own work, though my favorite-favorites were long gone before recording technology made the scene)

3. The Gamache novels by Louise Penny. Detective stories, yes, but also a lot of human psychology, and as I said: Penny seems to have a fundamentally hopeful outlook on life that I find bracing and cheering.

4. If you are unpartnered, and don't have a pet that shares the bed with you, getting some kind of soft cuddly thing (even a hotwater bottle if you think toys are too childish) so you have something to reach out for in the dark when you just woke up from an unpleasant dream. I've been hugging my big Polar bear (Polaris) to my chest a lot these recent days, and here's my most recent (and last, for a while, because I need to be tighter with the purse strings) acquisition (received her over a week ago, but never photoed her):

It's Sea Pinkie! Or maybe, given my February birthday, I should call her Pinkie Pisces.

This is the midsized one from Amazon - the Soft Plush version. And yeah, she's pretty soft. Despite Fluttershy being my favorite pony, I now have more versions of Pinkie Pie than any of them. But then again: I do think Pinkie Pie would be a good (if somewhat hyper) friend to have....

5. Learning stuff. I'm keeping up with Duolingo. Irish is taking me a LONG time to master, because Anglophones/romance-language people have a hard time braining the unusual letter combinations in Celtic languages, I think - an m and  a b together, for example, sound like a v. Also I think learning this without a book (I am learning German with a couple books as an adjunct, and I learned French from books) is harder; I wish I could find a good Irish Gaelic primer that explained the rules.

And I'm still working on the piano, and that reminds me, I should e-mail my teacher this week to see if she'd be available (The ONE consolation of Daylight Saving time coming is that she wouldn't be driving home in the dead dark, so she will stay in town after work to give lessons)

And yes, I think there's totally value in learning stuff you don't NEED to know. Will I ever go to Germany? Highly unlikely, and it's my understanding many Germans will eagerly speak English with you when they learn you're an Anglophone. And I will probably never perform a sonata, given how my hands shake when I have to play for a stranger (performance anxiety is a very specific and limited thing with me: I can get up and read or speak or even pray off the cuff in front of a big crowd without fear, but put me at an instrument and I freeze up. I think it's because I don't trust the instrument not to betray me. I suspect I would feel similarly about singing in public (if my voice were remotely good enough for me to consider it) because making my voice hit a particular note, instead of just saying particular words, is something I don't trust it to do.)

I also someday want to get back to my Life Project of reading all of Shakespeare's plays, but....maybe that's a summer thing, now, when I am not needing to haul out of bed 'round 5 am and so can devote more time at night to reading.

So, I don't know

I'm tired this afternoon and I hope this doesn't come off as too sad because I don't intend it to be.

1: depending on what happens with my state's finances and a truly stupid piece of legislation that was apparently written by a Washington think-tank and may be pushed through our legislature, I may wind up having to decide "Do I learn to tolerate teaching online or look for a new job?"

I dunno. At this point I'm leaning towards saying "Okay, I'll give teaching online a try" if it comes down to it but I suspect I will dislike it and it will be a disheartening way to finish out my career. But inertia is strong with me and teaching is what I know. (Alternative options are not that appealing: drive an hour's round-trip each day or move if the nearest community college 'cross the river will take me, or if there is a N. Texas private school that would take me.)

There was also some talk in the faculty meeting of how these online classes are being run: big classes, and once they exceed a certain size, the faculty member in charge gets what is euphemized as a "coach" but which is really a grader/question-answerer: in other words, the person who does the unappealing scut work for less pay than the faculty member makes.

But here's the twist: this "Partnership" with which we have partnered needs them, and one of my colleagues suggested that if one needed summer funds, one might apply.

And I don't know. Part of me goes "As a matter of principle, this goes against a lot of what I stand for" but the pragmatic part of me is saying "this might be the side hustle you're looking for, also you would either get your foot in the door (in case this is your career future) or do it long enough to decide you don't want to, and have to think about something else."

I dunno. I would rather do textbook-editing work this summer but that seems not to be forthcoming.

The other career option, if teaching totally goes south, based on a news story I heard: look into seeing what it would take, education wise, to re-tool myself into an RN. Though I suspect the level of close human contact, especially close contact with cranky/angry/sad humans, and the grossness of body fluids, and the sadness of patients you can't help, would make it a bad career fit for me. 

2: My chair reported she had had a complaint from "on high" that our last-semester's evaluations "had an unexpectedly large amount of erasures" which I take to mean "we think you tampered with them to make your faculty look better" which is terrible and insulting:

a. The faculty never see these before they're tabulated. We don't touch them. We NEVER touch the originals. Our secretary gives them, and I doubt she has any favorites she would try to stack the deck in favor of.

b. Yes, we used a TA for some of them because of scheduling conflicts and now we're apparently not allowed to do that, so we need to start scheduling these like now.

My chair did call the higher-up in question to ask for clarification and explain, and he very quickly was like "Nononononono, we didn't mean YOUR department" which suggests that they suspect some OTHER department but instead of going straight to them, as is CLASSIC administrative style here, they make insinuations that everyone is doing it wrong, make people feel guilty, make people be off-balance. And yes, I understand "building a case" but I also remember the "if you don't follow the sick-day instructions [some of which might well have required sick me to come in to campus to take care of things; the assumption seemed to be you had a spouse who could take care of it] to the letter, you will be regarded as insubordinate" and "insubordinate" is one of those magic words that means they can take away tenure. (And I said, bitterly, to a colleague, "Then I'll just teach sick, even if I have to stop mid-class to throw up" and he said, "I think they're trying to build a case against someone who is actually abusing sick-day policy" but the literal-minded part of me just goes WHYYYY forever)

And yes, I can see how having higher-stakes post-tenure review COULD lead to faculty wanting to game the evaluations system (I have heard of such things as bringing in snacks on the day you have evaluations planned. That seems far too bald-faced to me, and I would feel like I'd have given up integrity if I did it....though I don't know....if it came down to "you might be pushed out of your job if you don't game the system...." and the choice is giving up my shot at a pension and having to find another job at 50 years of age (or older) depending on when it happened....I don't know. I don't know when you through principal out the window in the name of self-preservation.)

But yeah. Maybe they just need to go to online evaluations like some universities have instead of the paper ones, if they're worried about people tampering.

I don't like feeling though - both elements from 1 and 2 - that I might some day have to sit down and have a VERY hard think about which of my principles I'd be willing to sacrifice in the name of keeping a job....This is not the future I envisioned in 1999, or even in 2010....and definitely not the one I want.

I wish things would change back to how they used to be but I'm doubtful that will happen.

3. And there's talk about how "active shooter drills" are traumatizing schoolkids and I can see that. As a kid, I was freaked out enough by tornado drills. I think what it was - I don't know if this was a general little-kid thing, or if it was a specific-to-me, very anxious and very literal-minded little kid thing, but I really did believe the things that we "trained for" were guaranteed to happen, I did not understand how "rare" "rare events" really were, and doing the "huddle quietly in a corner while teacher tries to hold the door shut" thing would have caused me to beg my parents to homeschool me. (If I had known homeschooling existed. I think I vaguely knew that kids in some remote areas did: I used to get "National Geographic World" as a kid and I think they had a story once on the Australian outback, and kids on ranches there that went to "school" by using a big radio set-up, kind of like a ham radio)

And here's the one I shy away a bit at, lest people think it too sad or final, but it's something I've been thinking about in the wake of Steve's death:

4. If I were to die suddenly, I want a VERY simple funeral. I don't want anything big or elaborate, I don't need them to serve lunch (at most, my brother and his family and maybe a few cousins might travel for it - my parents are unable to really travel far any more, and I would not expect them to). I don't want people to go to excessive trouble. I don't want it to be "outrageous" in any way; I am not an outrageous person; I would want it rather quiet and conventional.

And I would want a very plain, very traditional service. Read the 23rd Psalm and maybe some other passage of Scripture that seems fitting (I'm sure others could choose better for me than I could). Sing "For the Beauty of the Earth" and "How Great Thou Art" because those both mention the natural world in some way and the forests and the meadows and all that were important to me. Have a short eulogy. I don't want lots of people to get up and tearfully have to talk about me. I would want it to be short and plain and let people go back home. I don't want anyone to do anything that they don't want to do.

And as for my stuff? I want my books donated to the university library (if it still exists). They can use the ones they can use, they can swap or sell the ones they can't use, or donate them to the local public library (again, to use or sell as they see fit). My yarn and fabric - surely there is some group, either that works with at-risk kids or that is a self-help group for women that could use the supplies in some way.

My personal stuff, the various toys and things? If friends or family want some as mementos, great. Otherwise, I don't know - sell them on Etsy or donate them to some kind of program for kids in foster care or other sad situations where having a toy might make things better.

My piano - if a family member wants it, that's where it's to go first. Failing that, find a music school that wants it and will use it. It's a good piano, it's still in good shape.

I guess: sell my house and car, put the money with the rest of what I had, and distribute it with my bank accounts and retirement accounts.

What money I have, I want divided between my brother's family for them to use towards my niece's education (maybe about half of it go there, though they're also my life-insurance beneficiaries), and the rest between my church (if the congregation still exists, if not, maybe Week of Compassion), the Nature Conservancy, and the biology program here (for student scholarships, put it toward some existing fund)

Truth is: I plan on being here a long time. I want to be that 80-year-old woman in Keds and a denim dress who goes out and picks up trash and serves on the Library Board and bakes cookies for coffee hour, that sort of thing. Part of the reason I eat so dang many vegetables and force myself to get in a workout even when I don't feel like it is because I want to be here 35 years from now and be well enough to make either trouble or joy for people. (I would hope it would be the second; I don't think I could be a Ruth Zardo type). And as I've joked before, I want to die somewhere around 96 (though now I'd revise that upward, given that more and more people seem to be making it past 100) after falling off my roof where I went to retrieve a Frisbee.

(Here's hoping my talking about this cements my fate of staying here for a long long time)

And yeah, I also know I need to print this out and go to an attorney and get it all officially finalized. But it's hard to make yourself do that, and I really wonder how much detail they expect, because if it comes down to, "And I want my G1 My Little Pony Heartthrob to go to my niece..." or something, I just can't, and would just say "Sell it all and put the money in my estate" (Honestly, that's part of what's prevented me from going and doing a very formal will, the idea that I'm going to have to itemize everything. Of course, the bigger thing is that the idea of my no longer being around to read my books or play my piano is deeply unappealing, but I know this is one of those things that adults do, and I guess I have to do it some time)

(Now I feel like I have to do a super happy palate-cleaning type post, but I need to do Duolingo first...)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Some weekend happiness

I did get a little time to myself this weekend, even though it was (as someone else said elsewhere) the shortest weekend of the year - thanks to the Daylight Saving Time conversion. (And it comes too early, and we have George W. to blame for that. I still think Standard Time should last until early April, at least. I can't imagine any of the vaunted energy savings happened, but I suspect that people in some of the higher seats of power aren't getting up at 5 am to work out or driving to work at 7 am).

But yeah. I worked mainly on more squares. At this point, I have all the dark blue, all the magenta, all the cyan, and some of the red:

These are easy and don't take a lot of concentration and so they're kind of relaxing to work on. And it will be a nice blanket when it's done. (I think I tallied it up and it will take 140 squares, and I have something like 46 done)

I also received my Doki Doki crate - that was a lot earlier than I anticipated it, I guess shipping time from Japan really varies - I have got them as late as 4 weeks after being shipped; this one took about 10 days. (And I needed it Saturday evening, after the long day at church).

One item in it - a small, Mickey-Mouse themed whiteboard - I am going to bundle up in a puffy envelope and send to my niece (after checking to be sure she's still a Mickey fan; little kids sometimes change their feelings about such things unpredictably). I don't really have a use for it; it's a little more juvenile than what I'd want outside my office at work, and if I need to remember something I'm more prone to just write it on a sticky note and stick that up over the inside lock on my door.

There was also one of those "face mask" things - it says it has hyaluronic acid in it. I don't THINK I am allergic to that but sometimes I have to be a bit cautious about such things. (I used an argan oil hair masque today - I was concerned at once I might be sensitive to argan oil but now I don't think so. I liked this particular masque; it is orange-scented.)

And there was this:

It's a little Rilakkuma basket; I think I am going to use it in my sewing room to hold supplies; I think it would be good for holding spools of thread.

And two mascot-type items. First, a little Gudetama (Sanrio's hilarious little "depressed egg" that doesn't want to do anything):

Gudetama "himself" (itself? does an egg have gender?) is the yolk of the egg, the white forms his bed, and here he is holding a piece of streaky bacon like a blanket.

Gudetama doesn't want to get out of bed. I know that feel, bro, especially with the time change.

And then, as usual, my favorite item is the little stuffed animal:

A slightly grumpy-looking (and very round, for its species) little ferret from Potekoro Friends. (At first I thought it was a tanuki or raccoon dog, but when I looked the brand up, I learned it was a ferret, which makes more sense).

It took some doing to come up with a good name but I have hit on Snorri.

And finally, this weirdo:

It is a shower/bath sponge (it has almost like a loofa on the other side) that looks like a egg and streaky bacon sandwich. It is the "Like a Bread Series" (that's the English text on it) from Maru de Pain. (Apparently Japanese culture likes French for stuff.)

Yeah, I might use it. I don't know. (Probably in the shower, not in the kitchen. Kitchen sponges get gross fast and you're really not supposed to use them because it's hard to get the bacteria out of them. I'm more prone to use crocheted cotton dishcloths, which, if you use white cotton thread, can be washed with bleach or even boiled if you need to.)

But anyway. I need to go to bed soon so I'm not so wiped out for tomorrow. (And it will be a long day as it's also CWF in the evening, but at least I am not the group president this year, nor am I doing the food/lesson/devotional this month, so all I need to do is show up)

two further thoughts

I have to eat some lunch (ugh, time change messes with when I want to eat) but two other thoughts after church today:

1. Mike (who was probably Steve's best friend in the congregation, and the one who eulogized him on behalf of the congregation) came up to me in church and said, "So, did you recognize the reference to you in the eulogy yesterday" and I was briefly like "ohhhh crap" and then I realized it and said: "You said something about Steve's hugging, and how some people were slower to come around to it than others....was that it?" and Mike laughed and hugged me so yeah.

I'm wondering now....was I maybe a little bit of a "project"? I know other people in my life have tried to get me to unbend a little/be less stiff and formal, and I can totally see Steve being frustrated with me for being like that. (And also thinking about how he made me blush at the Christmas party, that would be in line with that).

I don't know. On the one hand, I do think being a little staid and formal is just who I AM and I shouldn't try to change that too much, because I think I'd seem a little ridiculous to myself trying to be very much otherwise. But I have cultivated a greater comfort with hugging people and with sometimes being a little "loud" in public (like: when something funny is happening) so I don't know.

2. I thought - but didn't say, because I was afraid of getting a little tearful again - that when I announced that the flowers were from his memorial service, that "I hope Steve knew, while he was alive, just how many people loved him." (I am not kidding - there were like 300 people there for the service, and MOST of them were not relatives or fellow-congregants).

And the minister had talked about how, in some discussions with Steve, how Steve had apparently struggled somewhat with feelings of self-worth and not being worthy (And also, because of one big reason of who he was, survivor's guilt).

And it strikes me....maybe there's a lesson for me in that. While I don't have the same things in my past/personal life that were challenges for him, I know at times I struggle with not feeling "worthy," and I often wind up taking thankless type tasks, I think, because somewhere deep in my psyche I feel like I have to "earn" people's liking me.

And so maybe there IS a lesson from me in that, that even if people aren't slobbering all over you that they care about you, they still do, and just if you aren't someone's "special someone" you still matter. (I have a terrible thing about (a) wanting to be "the very most important person" to someone* but at the same time (b) feeling like I don't matter and shouldn't intrude into their lives because they have family and friends who have been their friends longer than I have). So very often I kind of stand back and don't call people or ask them for help or stuff because....I don't know if I'm afraid I'll seem too needy, or if I'll hear a "no" and then feel like "Well, I was stupid to ask, and I don't matter to them that much" or if it's fundamentally my fear of rejection (I'd rather remain alone than risk rejection)...

(*and yes, it kind of horrifies/disgusts me to even put that in words. SO NEEDY.)

I dunno. I do wish sometimes I could just relax and accept that people (I mean, outside of my own family, I kind of take that for granted) love me, but it's hard, and I suppose in part I have my childhood demons to blame for that. (And maybe my tendency to be kind of stiff and over-formal is tied to that: afraid to let my real self out lest people find her messy and unmannerly)

But yeah: I hold firm in my assertion that there is always something you can learn, even from a sad situation, and maybe this is what I learn.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

"so that happened"

I went down to church shortly after 11 am. (Lunch started at noon, but there were preparatory things to be done - someone had already set the tables and everything yesterday but there was the cooking and putting things into serving bowls. And also arranging things on trays for the reception afterward)

I think the busy-ness helped for me. I cried at a couple points during the service, but it was not more than a couple quickly blotted tears, so I did okay. (Knowing my friends were pulling for me helped)

I really only knew him for about 3 years - it seemed longer but apparently he did move back here in 2014 when he retired from working in Dallas (yes, he retired in his mid-50s; I guess he was pretty good in business)

The place was packed. Every pew full, chairs lined up in the aisles.

Lots of things, oh lots of things. I'll only share a few here.

1. Probably the only memorial service I will ever go to that had both the Ave Maria and show tunes as music.

2. The thing that "got" me was that they had hung his choir robe on a hanger and had it hanging up on a stand over in one corner of the church. Seeing that empty robe, knowing all the times I hugged him while he was wearing it was hard.

3. During the lunch, a woman who obviously knew me (I don't remember her name, certainly I don't know her well) was going around handing out little rainbow bracelets with "One Love" stamped on them - apparently this was something his family decided he would have wanted (or, maybe he did have plans in place). And she said to me, "Oh, he talked about how he hugged you every week and you were special to him." Though now that I've sat through the service, I think EVERYONE was special to him in some way. (Maybe the hug thing meant something to him because I really was NOT a hugger before he went to work on me - and yes, he was never pushy about it but somehow persuaded me to start doing it).

4. He had survived a bout of lymphoma some years back which is why I wonder if maybe he did have some plans in place. And at any rate: the service was, from what I know of him, just what he would have wanted: big and a little outrageous in places and with people from all the walks of life he was a part of speaking.

5. He knew lots of people. Some people I would never have guessed he would have had a connection with.

6. Several people commented on how sometimes his humor could be a little...I don't know the best word for it? Tart, maybe, as the most polite one. (Though he probably wouldn't have flinched at "catty"). The minister remarked that he could "tell you off, but you would laugh at the same time." Funny, he never used that on me. I am now wondering if maybe he realized I am kind of sensitive and that I wouldn't react well to it, and would maybe even be hurt. ("Nononononono, we can't prank Fluttershy, I mean, she's so sensitive. It'll hurt her feelings, even our most harmless prank.")

In fact, even though he apparently teased some people about their lack of fashion sense, he never said anything to me about it, even though I know more often than not I wind up a little frumpy, because, well, I just have a frumpy body type and sometimes I go for comfort rather than style. I do remember once or twice his commenting that a particular color looked good on me, or, when I started wearing bright lipstick more regularly, that it lit up my whole face. (Maybe he realized that positive reinforcement worked more with me)

7. The ONE time he did get me was at the Christmas party, when, in the persona of Santa Claus, he sidled up to me and asked me if I'd been a "naughty girl" and it caught me SO off guard that I blushed furiously, which make everyone laugh, which made me blush even harder. In the moments after it I was slightly irritated with him (I hate being the center of attention like that) but now....well, it's just kind of a funny memory and I forgave him for it a long time ago.

8. I was probably one of the more staid people he was friends with. Maybe, maybe I'm more okay with being a little staid now. Maybe it's just how I am and I shouldn't worry about changing it.  

The reception was still going on when I left, and I bet it goes on for a while longer, but I was just tired and peopled-out and I have a little bit of a I just begged off staying any later (hopefully there will be people who can stay to clean up)

I will say I have a sense of closure now and being able to go to the memorial service (and feed people before and after) makes a difference.

Anyway, yeah. I'm still unhappy that he's gone. I've accepted it but I'm still unhappy about it. 


I came home to find my March Doki Doki crate waiting for me, which was something I needed, so one of my plans for this evening is to open it.

Other plans include making chili out of the beef I bought last week (it's shrinkwrapped so has a long "good" date). 

And then I am going to try to go to bed early, because it's the stupid time change, and I know I will be stupid tired tomorrow even with extra sleep. 

Friday, March 09, 2018

a little request

If you're the praying (or even good-thought-sending) kind, could I (and the rest of the "church family" here) get some around 2 pm CST? That's the memorial service and based on how I feel tonight it's going to be monumentally hard.

I've dragged my feet on doing the cookies. The most complex ones (jam bars) are done, I just have to motivate myself to do a batch of brownies.

I have the added apprehension that all of the family that will be there (that we will be serving lunch to) are people I have never met in my life, and that does and another layer of concern. ("Will I say the right things? Will I remember people's names if I have to address them by name?")

I felt very, very anxious around 8 am today - it took most of the morning for it to wear off (that happens to me once in a very great while -  I feel as if I could crawl out of my skin and it's kind of unpleasant. If I'm at home I get into bed and wind up very tightly in a sheet or blanket and that helps, but I couldn't do anything in my office.  It wore off around noon and I was kind of exhausted the rest of the afternoon (I suppose it is an adrenaline thing, maybe - the sensation of anything like that is blunted on the beta-blocker, and when I checked my heart rate a couple times it was absolutely normal, but I felt very anxious).

It's rare, and I can't predict when it happens, so the thought of getting an rx and trying to dial in the dosage and all that is unappealing - I'd rather just white-knuckle this when it happens every 8 months or so. (And in this case I'm pretty sure it's situational)

But anyway. Knowing my "friends who live in my computer" are pulling for me will help.

making more squares

I alternated between working on the multidirectional scarf and making more squares for the color-bar blanket last night.

(What can I say? Tired, allergy-ridden, too much going on in my brain - so super simple versions of crafts I do are on order).

Afghan squares, as I said before, are pretty satisfying to do - for one thing, there's the nearly instant gratification of getting something DONE (I can make a square in about 10 minutes or so). Granted, it is just 1 of n, where n is quite a lot (over 100 for the color bar blanket), but still.

I also keep having something nagging at the back of my brain that I read somewhere about crocheting. Maybe it was from the Happy Hooker book, I don't know. But the comment was made that it became popular in the late 60s/early 70s because, "it could be done while your brain was in an altered state."

Mmmm-hmmm. Yeah. I don't know. For one thing, from what I've read recently, it seems the 1970s were not quite the pot-fest that pop culture makes them out to be. And another thing: it seems a lot of the people who crocheted were more likely to do it while on a picket line or watching their kids than while listening to Pink Floyd (or whatever one listens to while "altered." I have never done any of that - never even really been tipsy on alcohol - so I'm just going by stereotypes)

Also, I find that really simple knitting is easier to do with low concentration than crocheting. For one thing: I don't have to look at what my hands are doing when I knit, I can more or less do it by feel (which is why I do it while I invigilate exams). For crocheting, I have to look, lest I put the hook in the wrong loop. Granted, I think it is easier to fix mistakes in crochet - ripping back is easier, for one thing, because you don't have a whole needleful of stitches you might drop. And possibly, also, some forms of crochet are more forgiving of wonkiness? I don't know.

But it is nice to have something soothing to do like that when one is tired and sad. (I suppose all of the crud that allergies generate is a form of being in a mentally-altered state, I don't know. It's a state I'd rather avoid if I could. But then again: I'd rather avoid other kinds of mental alteration, that's just me, I don't like feeling out of it or out of control)

I'm also thinking of other future projects using the simple-granny-square technique. There are a number of "8-bit style" designs (I have seen one of Megaman) for afghans on Ravelry, and I saw a cute one with a puffin (that also donated some of its purchase price to wildlife conservation). Then again: I do have to work down my stash before I buy more yarn, and I have the big Deramores' kit for the vintage blanket. (And, how many blankets does one need? Though I find these days I use lightweight ones as much for emotional comfort as for physical).


Right now, my main reading (for relaxation: have been reading a lot of articles about detritivores and litter bags at work) has been "The Cruelest Month" by Louise Penny. This is another Armand Gamache novel. I just LIKE these. I think part of it is that I get the sense that the author is a fundamentally hopeful person; she sees the world as perhaps a bit better than it is. Oh, there are dark sides to things: there's an ongoing narrative thread about enemies Gamache made when he (apparently) helped bring down a corrupt superior, and one of the people planted on his team is supposed to find dirt on him to bring HIM down....and he probably knows that, and is trying to reform her (to the dismay of one of his loyal, long-time team members)

As is true of many mystery novels for me, the thoughts and actions of the detectives - especially when there are characters who recur over several books - are what are of interest to me, more than the murders. (And Penny tends to have a lot of the more horrible aspects "off stage," so to speak).

These novels are kind of an extreme case: most of them are set in Three Pines (which I guess is kind of the Cabot Cove of Quebec: small town where an unlikely number of murders happen. And what's more, *complex* murders that require a lot of work to solve, not just "that person got mad at that other person in a drug deal gone wrong and shot them" or "it was a domestic dispute that escalated"). A lot of the same characters recur (though Penny is not entirely shy of letting characters die, or letting them do something illegal that gets them sent off to prison....which is why reading these out of order can be a bit confusing)

One of the other things I like about these is that Penny does seem to explore a lot of psychological/emotional depths with her characters - the idea that strengths can also be weaknesses, or the complexities of loving one another, or how different people cope differently with grief. (Right now, the part I read last night: a grieving character was doing enormous amounts of cooking - ostensibly to provide food for elderly/ill people she knew, but really as a displacement behavior. And I understand that. It is exactly how I would react.... the idea of trying to do something to help others so you don't think about the big sad thing looming in your brain, and of working hard to keep yourself from flying into little bits. That feels very familiar.) In some ways the emotional stuff going on in these "genre" novels is more interesting and more complex than in some "modern literary" novels I've read (where there seems to be a lot more selfishness and personal dysfunction; one of the things I like about Penny's novels is that though her characters are flawed in various ways (Peter Morrow's envy of his wife's greater artistic talent), they are still people you can root for; they do not tend to do things I regard as "unforgivable" - unlike some characters in some literary novels I've read)

And as always, there's a lot of interesting cultural stuff. I was not entirely aware of the tensions between the Anglo and Francophone residents of Quebec until I started reading these. (It makes sense, though, and puts the whole "secession" debate - which I remember was going on when I was in high school and college - into a new light)

Thursday, March 08, 2018

And here's hoping

That this sore throat is actually allergies or dry air and not YET ANOTHER upper-respiratory infection :(

Am home now, am contemplating not going back this afternoon. Have a big bowl of probably-borderline-too-salty Thai Kitchen instant Hot and Sour Soup, hoping that if it IS a URI, this will start helping kicking it to the curb.

Too hot to eat, yet - I guess the photo did not capture the steam coming up off it in my 70-degree house.

The thing with spring allergies is that they must just be endured. I'm as antihistamined up as I can be (given that the experiment with the nasal spray made me stupid and unable to concentrate: I'd rather be a little miserable and functional than slightly less miserable and not functional)

But, I don't know. Maybe I take this afternoon off? Though that would mean doing the necessary grocery shopping (some additional makings for the brownies and jam bars, and more milk, and probably more eggs....) I don't know.

Thursday morning random

* Still not sleeping all that well. I am guessing it's allergies. It's been VERY bad here; right now I have a sore throat which I am 95% sure is allergies. I keep getting something like a mildew smell in my living room so I'm going to have to see if a leak happened somewhere or what. (Sigh)

At least I don't have afternoon lab, which means I will be able to go home for lunch and have a proper cup of tea, which is one of those little things that keeps me going through the morning.

* I must have pulled my left deltoid working out Tuesday. It was VERY sore yesterday, and at one point yesterday afternoon I was afraid I'd be unable to lift the arm enough and manipulate it right to get the pullover sweater off, and I was wondering what I could do if I couldn't. (It was a hand knit sweater so cutting it off - which I would have considered had it been a v. old t-shirt- was out of the question). The biggest issue was that it was stiff, or the pain made it stiff - I couldn't quite get it to do what it wants.

It's some better this morning (I put heat on it last night) but I think maybe I take a second rest-day from exercising just to be sure. (The dvd I used Tuesday afternoon as some pretty tough moves for the arms on it, and I can tell I get sore if I overdo things).

* I'm already feeling some apprehension about the memorial service on Saturday. First, it will just be a long day (I am helping out with the lunch, and suspect I will be on tap for the reception AFTER the graveside part of things). The other thing is that I still find myself caught up sad at odd moments and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be a teary mess. (The worst part of this is the suddenness, the fact that I'm having to rearrange my brain to have this person gone from my life now rather than having had time - as I did with a lot of the previous losses, when the person was old or ill and I had kind of pre-mourned them). Also just the fact that pretty much the whole day will be gone due to that, and I find more and more I desperately need the weekend time to be alone and to recover.

I'm still doing it though; it's important to me to help out at things like this. It's just I know I will pay for it next week.

* I'm working a bit on another one of those "multidirectional diagonal scarf" things out of one of those "multicolor cake rolls" of yarn. (Several different companies have these now). The color changes are slow enough the scarf will be blocky instead of stripy (it will probably look like this one but the yarn I am using is peach/white/pink/orange instead of the colors there.

I guess these "yarn cake" things are this year's version of that "ruffle scarf yarn" that was hot a couple years ago. (These are a bit more useful, at least, in that you can make other things of them).

It's just kind of interesting how EVERYTHING seems to have its trendiness. Are we all really that jaded that we need companies coming up with new fads so we buy stuff? I would honestly prefer to have just good sources of basic, mostly-or-all natural-fiber yarn in fingering, dk, and worsted weight. (DK weight, in particular, is tough to find without going to a specialty yarn shop. Fingering is tough to find, too, which is surprising given that in our warm climate it probably makes more sense. But then again: few of the "mass market" yarn companies make it, at least at a sufficiently-cheap price point that big-box craft stores (what I mostly have access to) stock it...)

(Thought: Amazon is popping up brick-and-mortar shops. I kind of wish KnitPicks were big enough and enough of an octopus to be able to do that. Of course, if they did, it would just be in the big wealthy cities, most likely).

* Then again: I do need to work from stash for a good long time now. (Both to reduce the size of the stash, and to keep myself from spending money: I have a goal now of trying to put AT LEAST $100 a month from what's left of my take-home pay back in my savings account to build it back up. Because my current car, while it's in good shape now, is 8 years old and it won't last forever, and I vastly prefer trying to pay cash as much as possible rather than doing "financing" and having a monthly bill - I do think my next car will be a "pre-owned," one simply for the cost savings, but still. And yes, I know $100 sounds like not much but I'm going to try that as a basement value.)

* And yes, I know, there are a lot of little places where I could cut back - dropping some of the add-on packages I have with cable. (But then again: If I want TCM, I have to have the movie package, which is the main one I do). And the $4 a month or whatever to Pandora.

I don't know. It's a hard calculus: do you give up all the little things that make day to day life more pleasant and tolerable with the vague hope of saving up enough for a big thing in the future? (I can see why people rail about "poor people" spending money on lottery tickets and the like, and people snapping back about it. I'm sure a financial advisor would look at my life and come up with a long list of petty oeconomies that I could tack on ON TOP OF rarely eating restaurant meals, and carrying my lunch to work, and doing my own yardwork....and it's really hard to know. I know I spend money in ways my dad would say was wasteful....but then again there are things he had that I do not have, and I feel like the $4 or $5 expense a month to stream classical music into my office (without having to deal with the vagaries of over-the-Net radio stations - been there, done that, got burned out on the NPR pledge drives) is a small price to pay for blocking noise from the hall or keeping myself happier.

* Today is International Women's Day. My main joke was: can I have today off to sleep, because I am tired? But I do admit it seems like oh, so many things, it's turning into a marketing opportunity: I saw people on Twitter commenting on how they got many advertising e-mails (apparently moreso if you're a woman in tech; I haven't seen any yet but I'm just lowly academic biology).

And I noticed that Sonic has - perhaps debuted today, I don't know - a new pair of spokesdoofuses, this time a couple of women to play off the two men they've used for years. (Yes, I suppose you could argue that the fact that the women in the ad come off, like the guys, as Not Too Bright is probably a blow for equality, but it still seems bad optics to me - if they indeed debuted the ad today - to go "Hey, ladies! It's International Women's Day so we made a couple of commercials with women in them!")

Are we gonna, in a few years, see "international women's day" mattress sales? 'Cos that's where these things seem to go. (Presidents' Day car at with an "instrumental rap" version of Hail to the Chief was one of the most annoying ones I remember)

I dunno. Where I am, I feel like I'm treated pretty fairly given my gender. The main "unfairnesses" seem to be things women and men mostly bear equally (Though I do seem to be the one who fills the printer with paper more often than not). The biggest issues I've had with being a traditionally-feminine-presenting woman have been a few students who came from backgrounds where they seemed unable to take me seriously because I was wearing jewelry and a skirt. But I see that less as a "structural problem" and more as "individual whose parents didn't teach him right"

And yeah, "unfairnesses" - I was just thinking this morning about all the additional things I am asked to do as a prof (the latest being a rather....not the best tone, to be polite....e-mail fundamentally saying "if you teach online at all*, you should really also be recorded and videoed and put that up on the site for people who learn differently" along with the patronizing reminder that only a small subset of the population has Ph.D.s** and we learn differently (and therefore, I presume, are Privileged) and so, we need to bend over backwards more....)

(*not clear if it applies to those of us who use the course management software merely as a parking space for handouts and the like, but I have had students ask me, "Can't you type up what you say in class and distribute it to us" and I am just like "they don't pay me enough, they really don't ")

(** Big point here: many of our people who teach online have terminal Master's, so this is doubly insulting)

And also all of the recordkeeping and reminders and the basically buoying people up so they don't sink, when I was just kinda thrown into the water and told "swim, damn you."

And granted, yes: I recognize I came from a different background; my parents drummed into me information about keeping up with my grades and knowing due dates and all of that, and not all of our students have that blessing in their lives. BUT. I am tired, and it seems like every semester there are more things I am asked to juggle and I really wonder where the point comes where it dawns on someone in some office somewhere that the faculty are, you know, being asked to do, you know, and awful lot beyond teaching and research, and, you know, maybe that's partly why morale is relatively low ESPECIALLY GIVEN that most of us have seen the erosion in our income relative to inflation over the past no-raise years....And I get that times are hard, but it does really feel at times like I'm being asked to do six impossible things before breakfast (to paraphrase Humpty Dumpty....)

But yeah, I don't feel as hard-done-by on my campus as some women apparently do on theirs, so, go us, I guess?


Edited to add:

Behold, one of the weirder e-mails I have ever sent (out to my department):

"Hi all,

Someone has left several hard boiled (?) eggs in the fridge in room 232. They seem to have been in there for quite a while (I am not sure if they are the same eggs, or different eggs every day).

Please let me know ASAP if they are yours. Because otherwise, I’m going to assume they are abandoned, and toss them."

Yeah. There's been a plastic "resealable" box with four or five eggs (I think, but am not sure, that they are hard-boiled) sitting in the minifridge where I stow my lunch. They've been there for weeks. At first I thought it was my colleague on a low-carb diet just bringing in a very repetitive lunch every day, but then I finally asked him and no, they are not his. So I asked other colleague who sometimes uses that fridge - no, they are not his.

I asked: could they have been Visiting Scholar's? (who has since gone back to his home country). One colleague said "Unlikely, they are in plastic and given his research into cancer and cells he is very compulsive about only using glass."

So I don't know.

So I sent out the e-mail.

But I will say that it strikes me that the line "I am not sure if they are the same eggs, or different eggs every day" is SUCH a metaphor for my life right now, it actually seems rather poetic to me.


And I picked up trash around my yard. Yeah, someone on my street (I am suspicious of the new renters at the end of the street) has begun throwing Monster cans and fast-food trash and used (non-winning) lottery tickets around (I didn't even know Oklahoma still HAD a lottery....fat lot of good it's doing education, but then every lottery that's claimed to be "for education" has been a giant scam, as far as I can see). A lot of it wound up in my yard. Either they parked and threw the stuff out (Hm. I saw a big pickup truck sitting out in front of my house the other night) or it blew there.

I picked it up because I'm a good citizen, but it makes me very unhappy. It's just another example of additional labor that people who are already working hard and are trying to do things right have to do on behalf of other people who don't.

(And the fundamental double standard: if I did not pick it up, and a lot accumulated? The city would come after ME, even though it is not my trash).

I don't know. I'm sure a lot of this is courtesy of my allergies being bad, and me being tired and sad for other reasons, but it does seem, more and more, that more work is heaped on the people already working hard. I don't see any other path though than to continue to pick up the stupid trash. (Though if it keeps up? I might get a little yard sign made up saying, "I don't appreciate having to pick up after other people, please find a trash can instead of throwing your stuff here" but knowing humanity, that would probably triple the amount of trash in my yard). The real answer is probably moving waaaaaaay out into the country where no one ever goes. (More and more I think about that, even as I am in no place to be able to afford such a thing - one of the renters at ANOTHER house in my neighborhood has bought a loud motorcycle. That crew is, as far as I can tell, fundamentally OK, but the motorcycle feels like a bridge too far - he leaves it idling out on the sidewalk for long periods in the evening and I KNOW I am not the only one bugged by it as their immediate neighbor has gone to talk to them about it.)

I don't know. It does feel like either the social contract has been broken of late, or I lived in such a bubble before I didn't see how it was broken: for example, litter. If I had thrown something out of a moving car, my dad either would have (if it was on a safe residential street) stopped, made me get out, walk back to the trash, pick it up, walked back to the car with it, and then been in trouble when I got home or, if it were on an unsafe highway, I would have been in even BIGGER trouble when I got home. (Not that I ever tried it, I just assume). But now, where I live, lots of people just pitch trash out of their cars, don't say anything if their kids do it - and expect the "little people" to pick it up.

(Which is ironic, given the "Leona Helmsley" meaning of that word - there is NO ONE in my town who isn't, by her financial standards, a "little person.")

And noise, also: NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOUR MUSIC LOUD LATE AT NIGHT. And yet, people think it's fine to park their cars in their drive in the warm months with the radio going loud at 10, 11 pm.

I don't know. Maybe I'm getting old but it feels like a lot of the rules I was raised with - pick up after yourself, don't be loud enough to disturb others, and so forth - seem to have gone out the window and I'm the only one who follows them, and yet, I suffer from the people who don't. (Noise, and having to pick trash out of my yard)