Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back to School

School started two days ago. For all the bitching and moaning I did before it started, it's good to be back up in front of the classroom again. The only problem is I need about 90 minutes of class time to get through everything I want to cover in the 50 allotted minutes. Well, that and the fact that my classrooms are packed solid full of bodies without a seat to spare. I don't need one. I rarely sit when I'm teaching anyway.
The Friday before classes started I got an email from my new office mate asking if I would mind if she brought her brand-new baby to the office with her. The only problem with that isn't really my problem at all; the office has, over time, become something of a storage closet for end-of-life computer equipment scavenged from around campus. Recently the maintenance staff seemed to think it also looked like a good place to store mopping equipment. It doesn't strike me as a very baby-friendly environment, so I took the opportunity to let the folks who own all the stuff know they might want to clear it out of the way if they want to be welcoming to this new faculty member. The mopping stuff got picked up today anyway. Actually, I haven't seen my office mate's baby at all, although the office mate did stop by this morning to introduce herself and say hi. She seemed a little confused as to exactly who I was and what I was doing in that office when she walked in the door. I introduced myself. I think she looked disappointed that I'm not Asian. Oh well. You don't need to look the part to know the language.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Top Scientist Advises, "Don't Become Eminent"

So maybe this explains why I'm becoming an old fogey and I don't care. And I'm not even eminent.
(via Shannon)

Tick Tick Tick

I'll be back in school in a week. I'm not particularly excited about it or dreading it. After almost 20 (!!!) years as a teacher of one kind or another, the "first day back to school" jitters just don't really happen much anymore.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Candles vs. Incense

This afternoon I sat relaxing at my kitchen table reading a magazine. (It's not something I find time to do very often.) To make the most of the relaxing mood, I lit some incense and started thinking about how I like incense better than scented candles.
I like Japanese incense the best. It's much more refined than the stuff they sell in head shops that's imported from India. Awesomely enough, my wonderful boyfriend found Nippon Kodo's website and ordered a ton of incense from them. It's the same incense I sometimes bought when I lived in Japan.
There are several reasons why I prefer incense. First of all there's the scent itself. I've got a lot of olfactory memories of Japan intertwined with the fragrance of incense-- temples, walking past high-walled graveyards, the altar at my ex-in-laws house, Kyukyodo in Kyoto, even my old apartments. I like the smoke. I know they sell "smokeless" incense, but the smoke appeals to me. I like to watch it drift, to see how the air currents are flowing in my room. Incense has a beginning, middle and end. With scented candles you have to think about when to blow them out. And you have to remember if you extinguished them before going to bed or leaving the house. Not with incense. It gets lit. It burns down. It's done. If you want more, you light more.
Incense is all fragrance, not much light. Candles set a mood. Maybe I like them better when the days are shorter. They're cozy in the winter. Incense takes me someplace else. I don't know when I'll get there again in presence. For now an olfactory journey is about as close as I get.


My final paralegal certificate courses ended two days ago. I checked my grades and see I got a 95% for the microcomputing applications course and a 91.45% in the criminal law class. Okay. So after a ten year break I returned to school and still had my (nearly) perfectionist streak intact.
I will not become a paralegal. The point of the whole endeavor was to educate myself in legalese so I can make that a translation specialty. If it works out, wonderful. Either way, it has been good to learn more about how the law works.
Theoretically this should free up several hours in my week that were previously spent on homework, exams and fun stuff like that. So far the time has been filled with some paying translation work. (yay!) It's got nothing to do with legal subjects, more corporate eco-speak stuff. Anyway, it's work and they pay me for it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Trail Report and My Philosophy of Hiking

Yesterday we hiked a big hike-- two peaks (3,910' and 4,052'), 6.5 miles, 2,500 feet vertical rise. We went up to the top of Crawford Notch and hiked the Webster-Jackson loop trial.

It was a beautiful day for it and it was a beautiful hike, even though my actual hiking experiences usually go something like this:

First 45 minutes to 1 hour or so: Head is dizzy. Legs feel completely not up to the challenge. Carry on.

First hour to first summit: Quiet yet grumpy. Annoyed at all rest stops because they are not getting us closer to the summit

First Summit: Moment of elation somewhat dampened by how cold and windy summits are. Put on all layers of clothing available. Hunch down behind some sort of wind block and eat gorp, summit cookies and jerky. Realize there's still one more summit and the descent to go.

Ridge to Second Summit: Feel pretty good thanks to sugar buzz and the relative ease of most trails between summits.

Second Summit: Briefly enjoy nice views. Realize it's just as cold and windy here as at previous summit. Carry on.

Descent: The hardest portion of the hike. Complain about how much my knees hurt all way down. Wonder when we can get back to the car already.

Drive Home: Rhapsodize about how excellent the whole hike was and how much fun I had!

Yesterday really was a good hike, the toughest we've ever done. My girl bagged her first 4,000 foot peak and it was my second. The views really were astonishing, big green mountains as far as the eye could see. The peak of Mt. Washington was clear and not too far away from us since we were hiking in the Presidential Range.
And my knees didn't even really start to hurt that much until about the last half mile of the day. As we drove away, wonderful-yet-slightly-devious boyfriend pointed out the one of the mountains we had just climbed to our left. It was HUGE. I had to bend over with my head near my knees to look out the driver's side window in order to see the summit. I found it hard to believe that we had been capable of climbing that massive beast of a mountain. Then I realized we drove past if on our way there as well and he hadn't pointed out that was our destination. He had kept it to himself because we probably would have mutinied if we had realized that was were we were headed.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What a Weekend

Saturday night I went out with my sister. We were supposed to go see our buddies in Geezerteen play at the Press Room, but it wasn't to be. Sis told me there was a party in Dover with some of the people she volunteers with working with the police horses. She asked if I'd mind if we stopped by. I said "no problem", figuring we'd get there around 8 and leave around 9:30.
It never happened. The party happened, but the journey to Portsmouth never did. I met some very nice people at the party and there was plenty of good food and drink there. Around 9:30 I started to notice it looked like we weren't moving along to our next destination. By 10 I was thinking it wasn't likely we'd be making it there. By 11 I was all set and ready to go home. By 11:30 almost everyone else had left the party and I finally convinced sis it was time to go home.
The next morning I was at the pool by 7am for my girl's big swim meet. I showed up that early because I thought I had to be there to work the concession stand. When I went to check they told me the work assignment was from 11am to the end of the meet. If I hadn't had been so sleep deprived and vaguely hung over I would have gone home to sleep for a few hours. Instead I parked my chair on the sunny hill and read the Sunday paper and kind of nodded out for a while. My girl's first event was right around 11. I watched her swim and do an excellent job-- winning her heat and besting her previous time by six seconds. I went to the concession stand after that and saw someone setting my ex up behind the grill. Since only one family member has to volunteer per meet I left it to him. Of course, he could have communicated to me earlier that he would work the concession stand, but since he doesn't talk to me at all, naturally he didn't. Anyway, I moved my chair under the trees and watched my girl swim several more great events. Then when she was done I was able to head home and nap for a little while mid-afternoon.
Later in the afternoon me, the wonderful boyfriend and the girl went to Portsmouth to see the The Eagle, a tall ship that was visiting Portsmouth. It was an hour-long wait to get on the ship, but I think it was worth it. After that, we went out to dinner at the Muddy River.
Another whirlwind weekend. I love it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I used to be a confirmed coffee drinker. Had to have a cup every morning or I didn't feel alive. Now I think I've hit the other extreme and can't, or at least shouldn't, drink coffee anymore.
I weaned myself off the coffee by drinking tea, without even realizing it. This week I've gone to local coffee shops a couple of times to do some work and enjoy their air conditioning and both times I've felt fidgety and agitated for the rest of the day. It's got to be the coffee. I need to switch to decaf, or at least half decaf. I hate feeling this antsy!!!