Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A wonderfully boring weekend

I had a great Memorial Day weekend, and did not a lick of work. We went and saw Prairie Home Companion. (In this case, "saw" is just an expression - we only had a view of the stage if we stood up.) I've grown up listening to this show, and I love going to see it live. It's not as if it's wildly different than listening to it on the radio, but somehow just sitting there, with no dinner to put on the table, and nowhere else to be, allows you to just focus on the stories and songs.

We also went thrift shopping, and purchased a kitchen table for our new place. The new place, as you recall, is tiny, tiny, tiny. So I'm hoping this will fit it. It's perfect for two people on a daily basis:

Then, when we have guests, you can pull up both sides and it expands to allow six or eight to sit comfortably:

And if you're going to invite an entire soccer team to dinner, it expands even more:

You'll have to imagine the leaves we'd put in the middle for now, since we'll have to make them.

I'm excited - it was a good deal and solid wood and Andrew is willing to let me paint it. Now to look for some matching chairs...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go (I've not been as productive as the dwarves lately.)

After a mere four days of research, I've ordered a new computer. When I ran my plan by the professor administering the grant, he thought I was spending dangerously too little. I tried to reassure him that since we bought our last computer for the group, six years ago (which is pretty much the stone ages, in computer years), the type of machine we needed was tip-toppity top of the line. Now, computers are insanely big and fast, and we still use the same digital cameras as six years ago. It's like we still build the same size pyramids, but now we get to use cranes and premade bricks, and don't have to have slaves drag stone blocks over logs. But, just to make him feel a little better, I threw in a second hard drive, at 250 GB. That's a quarter Terabyte, people. Although that's so much space it feels like we'll never use that, I know that it will fill up quickly. To use another rather contrived analogy, putting video data on your computer is like packing your station wagon for camping. The car looks sooo big, and only two of you are going, but still you manage to fill the entire car and have to hold the firewood on your lap. Um, well, that's what happens when we go camping anyway.

I've been struggling to write a paper for the past two weeks. It has no official due date, which isn't helping matters. Nobody really cares if I work on this or go cook myself a terrific meal. (Which must explain why we've been eating so well lately.) I also can't figure out what my point is, exactly. That has not stood between many an academic and his paper, but, you know, it's hard to know when to stop if you're don't what you're trying to accomplish.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Computer woes

I'm having computer problems, again. After the massive rebuild, my machine hummed along happily for a few weeks, but now is suffered what has been deemed a terminal illness. It is much worse, I think, to lose a work computer than to lose a home computer. I tend to back up most of the stuff I care about, which at home means photos of my family and friends, and at work means videos of students doing physics. But it's really lowering my efficiency to not have all my documents and articles and notes easily accessible at work. For right now I've borrowed a laptop, but it's not available all the time, so we (i.e. me and my advisors) will have to figure out a better solution for the longer term.

But enough grousing. Let me tell you about my wonderful weekend. We went camping with three other couples. There was a bit of hiking and canoeing (not by me, of course, because I just sat at the campsite and read all day) and much socializing and eating. The weather was quite cool, but bearable with two layers of long underwear. And having some time away, even though it was only two days, was a nice break between the end of the spring semester and the start of the summer semester. I don't think we'll go to the Pennsylvania State Parks again, though, because they have a no alcohol policy, and really, what's the point of camping if you can't sip some whisky after dinner?

I finished grading student exams yesterday, so now I have a whole three and a half months stretching before me that can be filled up with just research. I'm working on two different projects this summer, one which focuses on Teaching Assistants and one that focuses on introductory physics students. I'm going to two conferences, one in Maine and one in North Carolina, where I will present a total of three posters and give two (short) talks. I need to write two papers and, of course, have a lot of brilliant ideas, but those are awfully hard to schedule in.

What are your big summer plans?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Phi, the physics wonder cat

Every time I go to download pictures on to my computer, so that I can post a few here, I find that Andrew has used the camera to take several dozen pictures of the cat. His dedication to her is probably even greater then mine, for when she meows at five a.m., I'm inclined to lock her in the living room so I can get me some more shut-eye, while Andrew gets up and feeds her, then lets her outside.

Some further testimony to his devotion to Phi:

There you have it, ladies and gents. A styling cat with a devoted photographer.
More news soon.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Beautiful Shoes -

The Washington Post published a story (free subscription required) in their Health section with gruesome illustrations of what happens to your feet and your spine when you wear high heels. I hate stories like this, because they force knowledge upon me so that I am torn between doing what I know is good for me and doing what make me happy. And I love high heels. I could write an ode to them (and may, in fact, commission AinA to write one, as she is such the poet). They make me taller. They make me look elegant. As I walk, they click on the floor in an authoritative manner. They take a dress from everyday to dressed-up. What else can I say: my love of high heels exceeds my good sense.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Just so you know that I'm still alive

It doesn't feel like anything noteworthy has happened to me lately. But I know that if you all continue to check my blog and see the same old post, you'll soon point your browsers in other directions.

We went to a lovely Cinco de Mayo party on Saturday. I've never been to one, but the folks that hosted it love to cook, and do it well, so there was a feast. Sangria and margaritas and enchiladas with salsa verde. I couldn't eat the turkey with mole, but I am once again tempted to try making it, just for the challenge. They reported that it took about three and a half hours to make the mole. It sounds like something you do once, just so you can say that you've done it. Sort of like croquembouche. (And de-I knows that well.)

Yesterday was one of those days that we all have occasionally, where you question why you have chosen the job that you do, and whether you could get paid more for less pain for doing, well, anything else. Street sweeping, for example. But it passed, and today was better. I spent almost seven hours writing six problems for my students to work on. This is so low on the efficiency scale that it almost falls off, but since it was my first time writing problems I assume I'll improve with practice. Either that or I'll be looking for that other job sooner than I expected.

We watched Fiddler on the Roof last night. I've seen it performed live, but never caught the movie until now. It's really very good, as far as film productions of musical go, and I cried buckets.

Must go now - making borscht for dinner, in honor of Tevye and his family.