Monday, November 10, 2008
August- nothing much- started my second to last semester with a data analysis class. I'm not excited about it, but the instructor is good and I can manage to get through it. Why is is that I either get a great instructor in a subject I'm diffident about at best, or a crap instructor in a subject I'm excited about? I did get lucky and have a great instructor in a great class a couple semesters ago and I just loved teh class. Water Pollution...sigh... those were the good old days.
Speaking of the good old days- I had my 30th high school class reunion. The drunks in school haven't sobered yet and the cliques are as strong as ever. Blah- there was a choice of beer and water to drink, and some little finger foods. I got that (wow) and a can koozie for my $20.
September-I trained to become a certified interpretive guide. now I can point to trees properly, get kids lost in the woods with authority, and say, "why yes you are the best group I've ever taken out" with total sincerity. With that, school, teaching and life- no time for anything.
October- took another trip to Buffalo with my BFF. Two hours after we got there her mom collapsed and we spent the week around hospitals, pacemaker surgery, infections, an ankle sprained while trying to use the bedpan, oh the usual vacation stories. I came home and BFF stayed for the rest of the month.
November- Ahhhh... All caught up. So I'm planning an excursion to New Mexico in a few weeks for Thanksgiving. DS is now laid off with a brand new car and brand new car payment. (Oh joy) I was an election judge for a very busy election, and have become used to taking 4 week vacation every year to recover from my life.
I've started taking public transit and BFF suggested I do a Bus Blog. I have a notebook I carry with me on the bus and I should have time eventually to get it in here. Now it's off to check on my new snake- a gorgeous little fox snake named Buddy. He's living in my classroom, loves to be held, and has a baby mouse sized bulge from his weekly feeding this morning. He's just a cutie!
Monday, July 14, 2008
I haven't been travelling much this summer, but I want to make a trip to Iowa (when it dries out) and I need to plan another trip to New Mexico around Thanksgiving. I want to get to Detroit one weekend, but my Sis who lives there is off on vacation right now in Wisconsin, so there's not much point.
The new kitten got neutered last week, and he came home with fleas. DH was picking them off with tweezers and we ended up giving both cats a bath. That was quite an adventure. It was only the kitten's second bath ever. I just wash the cats in the bathroom sink, and DH was trying to help. Well, the bathroom is very small, hot, and not really big enough for two people and a wet howling kitten. DH got scratched just watching! I was fine. I'm tough and can hold a cat with one hand and wash with the other. Big Sister cat didn't make a peep when she got her bath. She's my kitty, and is much better behaved. Little Brother cat--- well, he's a terrorist dressed in fur.
Completely different topic- why do people talk on their cell phone about personal things in public places in LOUD voices? I'm sitting here in my office and down the hall about 50 feet is a lobby where students can hang out between classes. I can hear every word about this woman's divorce settlement, because she's talking to her soon to be Ex, complaining about how their original agreement won't work now because she's $1000 a month short on bills, and it's his fault she's behind on her bills, and she borrowed $1500 from her parents for her lawyer (which I guess he's supposed to pay) and ..... She's practically yelling into her phone. Now I've heard many, many phone conversations from students in the hall, and most of them start with "What are you doing?" "I'm waiting for class to start." "Well call me back later." you know- earth shattering intense, totally mind numbing conversations.
But about once a day I'm treated to a breakup (The best was the woman who said "You let that STANKY thing in my bed when I was at work!" to her EX who apparently was seeing someone else in his free time- someone "stanky"- and she yelled at him for about 15 minutes before she yelled "What do you mean we never talk! We are talking NOW!") or a make up (gag! "You know I love you snookums!") or a hookup ("I got your number from Steve at the bar. I think you are so hot!") Bathroom conversations are the worst. I'm sorry, but sitting in there, minding my own business and in the next stall you hear "so how's it going?" and you wonder- do I answer? Why should they care how I'm doing in here? Then they continue their conversation on the phone, and you are so glad you didn't answer because even in a stall, you don't want to look like an idiot. Then you have to do the timing thing to either wait until they are gone, or try to beat them done and get out before they appear, so they might know there was an idiot, but they won't know which idiot.
On another topic- movies:
I watched "Shopgirl" last night with Steve Martin. What crap! First of all there's Steve doing voice overs because obviously we (the viewers) are too stupid to figure stuff out. ("She decided that *this guy* gave her what she most needed, real love, while I never would." or some such bull. Okay- I can figure out her motivations- they were these- She didn't stay with the rich guy (who paid off her $36,000 student loan for her, but said he didn't love her and didn't want a serious relationship) because not only did he cheat on her with some old friend of his (who seduced him with a nasty line about how he could just lay there and do nothing during sex, "just like in Thailand" where apparently he had had the same experience with a professional) but he wrote her a letter about the cheating incident and then sat there next to her while she read it. That makes him 1- a coward, 2- a self centered bastard and 3-so out of touch with her that he didn't care. Why tell her about a one night stand unless he wanted to trash the whole non-relationship thing they had going (he said he wanted something casual but then called her all the time, flew three hours in a private jet just to see her, bought her expensive gifts, and then there's the whole student loan thing) or deliberately hurt her because if he was really sorry, he would have bought her a nice bit of jewelry, never told her and NEVER done it again. (guys- we don't want to know about these things. We want you to learn from it, and suffer in silence about the filthy horrid thing you did.) All together this move was a waste of time, and I'm glad I Netflixed it because if I had paid to see this in a theater, I'd have been extremely pissed.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
so- I'm going to go home and sit out on the deck and read a bit. I gave blood today, so no heavy lifting. I'll probably garden tomorrow and do some housework, maybe take a bike ride, but today- relax, relax, relax......
Monday, May 5, 2008
Well, back from another trip, this time to lovely Niagara Falls. Trip highlights:
- Niagara Falls- Oh my! this time I went on the US side. We walked out onto islands in the river right above the falls! Very cool! Photos to come.
- Meeting Morsecode- it's nice to "know" someone, but it's fun to meet them in person. Morsie and I have known each other for quite awhile, and it was great fun to acually meet.
- Roycroft- this is an area where they do loads of Arts & Crafts style pottery from the Art Deco period. I saw some beautiful work, and of course could afford none of it, or want to risk it coming back on the train. I did get a very neat pair of glass earrings with gold leaves on them.
- Shopping! There are loads of great independent shops that have been around for generations- Chocolate, used books, knick knacks all very fun. I got a smiley ball for my antenna that says "Buffalo- Where it helps to have a sense of humor"
- Eating! Tim Horton's of course (where I really confused the counter girl by asking for a half dozen of TimBits chocolate and a half dozen of TimBits in Honey Dipped- I ended up with about 20 in all!) and all sorts of great food.
- Meeting new people- I went with a friend from Buffalo, and met her aunts, uncles and cousins and several of her friends there. Her Mom was our hostess, and I was very spoiled. I had to be very stern to pick up a check now and again.
It was a great trip- another Amtrak Adventure. No pillows again, and there was a way too friendly guy across the aisle who was either chatting us up or snoring like a buzz saw. (My friend said he was also farting all night, but as I was further away, I didn't get that bit of excitement.)
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I really do love my job, but since I can't roll over any more vacation, and I'm being forced to take it, well, I guess I've learned to like it!
I'm also managing to avoid writing a paper due in three days. Cap and Trade carbon reductions and senate bill 2191. Yes, it's as interesting as it sounds. Which is why I just can't get into it. I have two more classes and my project to be done with grad school and I have NO enthusiasm for finishing. I'm going to slog thru and finish. I just want to get it over and move on with my life. I'll work on my paper tomorrow, maybe tonight. At night I just want to spend time with my DH. I don't get to see him often because I'm usually off doing something else. I emailed the groups I'm working with in a town about an hour away, and told them not to expect to see me for at least two months. I was driving there two time a week average, and just can't take the time away from my paying job for my volunteer work at the moment. I hope they are fine with it. If they aren't, well, life goes on. They can't drag me 60 miles.
So- reading has become secondary in my life, but I'm reading the first in a series- Diana Gabaldon's Lord John series. I loved the Outlanders, and these are much smaller and faster reads.
Ignoring my paper also meant that I paid more attention to my needlework, and I finished a 4 year project. (Well, I started it before grad school, so shouldn't I finish it first? Sure! Perfect reason to ignore the paper.) The pattern is here but mine looks a bit washed out compared to this. Over 46,000 stitches-56 colors, most of them shades of gray.
I also finished a Hardanger piece, very pretty blue on blue. I'll try to post a photo later.
Now I'm working on a Navajo rug pattern I got in New Mexico, and a HUGE bellpull with loads of blackwork, that is also an older project I want to finish this year. After seeing the Navajo women weaving, I want to take it up again, but I have NO room for a loom, and just can't justify another hobby.
Monday, March 24, 2008
In the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque- This is the view from the top of those spiral stairs in my last blog, down to the path below. Under the stairs was nothing. My sister, in the stairs photo, had to close her eyes to climb up and down. She was very brave to offer to go back up the stairs for the photo.
This is a Navajo artist (left) with my son, who painted a wonderful painting of five Kokopellis on a piece of limestone. It's just gorgeous, and Matt bought it for an amazing $25. This was taken at White House ruins in Canyon De Chelly.
The "two owls" near First Ruins in Canyon De Chelly.
Me, on a rock, at Antelope House, Canyon De Muerte. You can just barely see the antelope paintings over my head.
At the bottom, where the canyons meet. (De Chelly and Muerte) This is close to where we got stuck in our 4-wheeler. Another tour pulled us out.
All in all, our vacation was wonderful. The train ride down was a bit noisy, with kids out on spring break, but there was a room on the first level of the train that for some reason had all the seats removed, so the kids used it as a playroom, and us non-parents enjoyed them playing elsewhere. We saw a heard of elk and antelope, and a huge fllock of wild turkeys. I was on the lookout for a roadrunner, but I never saw one, even when we were told "Ohm they are all over the place." Right. All over except where I was. We walked along a canal my nephew likes to fish in and saw gunea fowl and quail, loads of ravens, and heard some red-winged blackbirds.
In the morning we hiked up to the 10,000 year old burial cave, and then went to santa FE for lunch and serious jewelry shopping. Serious as in from the Navajo, on blankets, around the town square. I got DH two decorated guitar picks, one from a guy who claimed he made them for Steve Miller. I beleive him. If he would have said Bruce Springsteen, I might not have, but Steve Miller is beleivable. I got several pairs of earrings, and Matt got two sand paintings. He's started collecting tiles, and these go very nicely. Below is a photo of his two sand paintings and the Kokopelli rock from the artist above.
At Canyon De Chelly we stayed at Thunderbird Lodge, which was once an old trading post. The rooms were nice, but the bathrooms were NOISY! Just flushing could be heard from both sides, and if someone was in the shower, you had to close the door or it could easily wake someone up, like me, who was exhasuted from all the hiking and spending.
We played rummy that night, and I lost miserably. Must have been the altitude. Yeah, that's the reason.
The 4-wheel tour of the canyons was a bit expensive, $200 for the six of us, but it was totally worth it. There were other tours, but this one got us all in one car, with no strangers. Our guide was excellent, even getting stuck didn't bother him. Without a guide, you can't go into the canyons, and without going into them, you can't see anything. The second day there we drove around the top rim and got photos looking down. We stopped at the Hubble Traing Post on the way home, and, of course, did some more shopping. (There was shopping IN the canyons too, where there were more Navajo selling jewelry and art.) I saw the most beautiful pot, all hand carved, and I just didn't have the money to get it, and I would have had to carry it home on the train. But I'll probably always wish I had bought it.
We were trying to get to Acoma Pueblo on the way home, but it was just too far of a drive to make it before it closed. Well, that's for next time. We managed a short trip to Old Town Albuquerque before we jumped on the train for home. My nephew loves trains, so he got to come aboard and look around. Still more shopping from, you guessed it, Navajos at the train station. All in all, I got 7 pairs of earrings, two pairs of socks, three T-shirts, several magnets, bookmarks, a pen and a keychain for me, and some gifts for family and friends.
The next great adventure? A trip to Buffalo, NY by train with my good friend, and hopefully a large meetup with the BOs.
Today? Back to work, slogging thru emails, realizing I only have two weeks to write a 10 page paper draft on cap-and-trade carbon credits, and several pages of revisions I promised to do on the watershed plan by wednesday. Oh yeah. Back to the grind.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I plan to take lots of photos. Stay tuned for more adventures.....
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
I had the greatest time friday. I went to a Recource Day in Springfield, where a bunch of environmental educators got together to share ideas and who is doing what. I got loads of info about IDNR programs, col stuff happening all over the state and after a forgettable lunch (ok but not fantastic) I got a behind the scenes tour of the Illinois Natural History Museum and Research Center. OMG! When you walk into the first room- like a warehouse with rows and rows of shelves, the first thing you see is a pair of stuffed African Lions, with an elk next to them, and two standing grizzlies. Peek around the elk and there are two Dalls sheep, assorted wild boars, and a wall full of African antelope heads. Look up on the shelves- fox, squirrels raccoons, bobcats, and about 20 rabbits look down. We were all quiet, just in awe of all these mounted animals, and someone says "and they all come to life every night."
This place holds everything that is not on display at the museum, which is all the research specimens and all the non-native animals donated from Grandpa's trophy room. Birds, even an eagle, and skeletons of everyhting imaginable. When we walkied into the bone lab, they had the pig skeletion wrapped with Christmas lights. We asked how often they found them that way. They have 95% of all the native plants in Illinois in their herbarium. And the rocks! Oh the rocks! Beautiful specimens, huge fluorite crystals (the Illinois state mineral) and fossils on top of fossils! It's funny, but Illinois has no dinosaur fossils, but we have mammoths and tons of sea fossils and plant fossils. I could have just roamed for days, opening drawers, poking in boxes. Amazing, simply amazing. I'd love to have some of that for our school.
so here's my daily rant- I'm taking an online class, and the instructor has been MIA for a couple weeks. Then he shows up, claims the flu (like he only has to get to a computer for 5 minutes to post a "keep on going, I'm sick" message) and puts up a lecture and then announces a test. Well most of the material on the test we covered 7 weeks ago, with no discussion or input from him, period. He said te test was going up friday. Friday, no test- not unusual, because he always says something is up when it's not. So I went into work Satuday to catch up on my work for friday, and thought, Oh I'll down load the test and work on it at home. He had said something about it being an essay test he would post and we'd have a week to work on it. So what did I see Saturday? The test is online and I hvae until Sunday at 2:00pm to take it! He never says which Sunday, but typically these are online for a week. Since he doesn't say, I have to assume that he only is giving us a day and a half, over a weekend, to take this exam. And it's timed- 69 questions (4 essay) in an hour and a half. That's not bad except it takes about 30 seconds to submit each answer, not uncluding the time to read the question, decide on an answer, maybe check the book or notes to be sure (all online tests are open book) so it could (and did) take about 65 minutes for the multiple guess/ TF part. Once you pick an answer, you have to click save, wait for the saved box to pop up, close that box, click on the submit button then "yes" on the "are you sure" box, brcause once something is submitted you can't go back and change it. Then there were the essay. He said he wanted a "good sentence" for each one. Well, I'm sorry, but a sentence is seldom enough. I know this stuff very well since it's the same thing I'm teaching a the college level. ( I teach undergrad 100 level non-major introductory science lab and this is a 400 grad level majors class and I think my class is harder.) I only had 4 minutes left when I finished. And this online test had no "restarts" which means once you start you have to finish. If you get booted mid-test, too bad. You are done.
I almost emailed the instructor twice, telling him that he was an idiot, but much nicer, of course. I almost posted a note to him as well, but didn't do either. This isn't my class, and he's going to have to learn how online classes work. I'm just planning to ream him on the eval. I've onnly really done that once before, adn it was the same thing- any instructor who goes MIA for more than a week, and doesn't answer questions (even "Since we are behind, when are our assignments due and what should we be reading?") gets the wrath of RockWoman! I just keep thinking- I could sooooo do this better. Example- we have powerpoint lectures to listen to every week (well we get them about every other week whhich is why at week 8 we are only starting chapter 5) and during the lectures, he voices over the slides. He has a boring voice, tells the same joke every lecture, and worst of all YAWNS during his own lectures! Over and over he's yawning at us. So how easy do you think it is to stay awake? C'mon... at least re-record the clips you are yawning through!
Well, that's my rant. Seems like that's all I do. At least here. But friday were were talking, hugging, eating and I just love getting together with my EEAI pals.
And two weeks from today, I'll be in New Mexico! VACATION!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
And then she had the nerve to complain about broken equipment when it was HER STUDENTS who broke it, and I very clearly told everyone to watch their students carefully so the equipment wouldn't get broken. And her most recent complaint other than the flame? That a one page-two sided lab was stapled backwards to the instructions, so her students had to ***gasp*** turn the freaking paper over! afater I gave her two copies to proof (which she has lost and is on #3- but claims I never gave them to her). Last week she was gone, drying out from her prescription drug problem. She did two weeks at Mayo last fall for the same thing. And she rants and raves and acts like I'm the one with the problem?
Usually ranting makes me feel better, but not tonight.
On to better things. I'm going to read some of my homework, to get ready to turn in an assignment Thursday, and try to relax before I have to go to bed. I'm going in early, if I can manage, and get back to work on the computers. The good thing? I have thursday away from campus- more tree tapping with 4th graders, and friday I'm meeting up with some of my treehugging friends for some professional development which includes a behind the scenes tour of our state natural history museum. Can't wait!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Another fine day in the woods tapping trees. This time it was families and scout troops. It was fun, maybe not “whee I'm bungee jumping” fun, but more like “what a good day” fun. More of a half adult-half kids group, and there was one group of teenage boys. They might have been from a group home or something. They had some trouble tapping the tree, and I told the the brownies that came out earlier did it in about 2 minutes- it probably took them 4 or 5. Then we couldn't get the bucket on because the spile was in too far, so we tried to get it back out and it broke off. We just looked at each other. Umm.... gee... what do we do now? Well one of the long time sappers dug it out with his leatherman's tool. I wasn't the only one (although they gave me a really hard time about it) . The group broke four today. Spiles are just tubes made out of pot metal, so they are pretty cheap and apparently break when really cold (and tapped with w hammer). There were loads of photos taken, and the TV station came out, so maybe we'll be on the news. It finally got warm enough that the sap was running a bit today. Some of the trees we tapped in the morning had sapcicles by the last group at 4:30.
Today I soloed the same part I shadowed two days ago. I really like doing it myself without someone watching over me. I like presenting material my way, with my examples and my jokes. The other presenter does a great job, but she's her and I'm me.
So nothing else is new and exciting, Tomorrow is homework. The MIA instructor has posted( said he had the flu) and now that we are two weeks behind, he said not to get all excited about working ahead. Apparently some chapters will be dropped. I don't know what's going to happen. I was really looking forward to this class, but so far it's Earth Science 101- definitely not a 400 level class.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
What a wonderful day! Freezing cold, outdoors, in the woods in a snowstorm, showing 4th graders how to tap sugar maples. It really was fun. First I “shadowed” someone who has given the mini talk on tree structure and a “build a tree” activity for several seasons. I probably could have winged it, I've done the same talk myself, but different people do things differently, so I watched and listened. I get to do it on my own on Saturday for about 9 hours.
It works this way:
“Hi kids! This is how a tree works, here's a giant tree cookie, here's the Xylem, here's the phloem....yada, yada. Now lets make a tree! Ok- nice a frozen yet? Into the woods! Let's pick out our tree.. where should we drill the hole?” It's really fun and fourth graders are great. The are still enthusiastic, and even though it was only about 20 degrees and snowing, they were very engaged and I only had a few whiners. Most of them wanted to stay out and tap more trees. Of course my feet and fingers were cold by the end of the day, but a day in the snow in the woods is 100% better than a day in the office. It's a strange thing. Standing out in the sugar bush, with snow falling and 20 degrees, I didn't feel a bit cold. I was about as bad as the kids, and more than willing to tap more trees.
Took a night off from homework. I have a couple articles to read. One instructor has been MIA for about 2 weeks. The other class is only demanding about every other week, so I can work a week then just read a week. I need to catch up a bit, because I 'll have an assignment due in a week and need to read this and next weeks readings to do it. Tonight I managed to read a large part of a book for the Reading Divas exchange. I spent yesterday ordering books I didn't have and digging out books I did for all my exchange commitments for the rest of the year. March, April and May are going to be BUSY so if I can get this all done and out of the way, that's one less thing to worry about.
Calm and warm tonight. 1.5 inches of snow today and more coming tomorrow. A snow day would be fine with me.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I was supposed to go out to Sugar Grove and take a class through the wonderful world of sugaring, but it was freezing ass cold today, and the school canceled. I have another tomorrow, when it will be slightly less cold, but still in the high 20's. This weekend is an event for the community sugaring, and it's supposed to be int the mid 30s, which should feel pretty nice after the cold we've had.
I read an article online about a Pastor who is trying to get people to stop complaining. He gives out purple bracelets and every time you complain you move it onto the other wrist. If you get to keep the bracelet on the same wrist for three weeks, you get a certificate. He said most people take months to stop complaining. What's so wrong about complaining? There's more wrong with being passive and going along with the herd. There is a difference between whining and complaining. Whining I can do without, but complaining is often very relevant and leads to solutions. If you don't complain, then everything's ok, right? I hereby vow to complain more, to stand up for all those who think passivity is good, and that we should be sheep. Frankly, that whole shepherd/sheep religious thing just sets me way off.
Speaking of religion, I found a book today when I was out feeding my habit. It's “the Little Book of Atheist Spirituality” by Andre Comte-Sponville. So being a loud and proud Atheist, I thought I'd take a look. I'll review it here as I read it. Oh I like this. It's divided up into three sections: Can we do without religion? (Um... yup- better than with I think), Does God Exist? (nope. Sorry- he's a figment of our collective superstition and refusal to accept the responsibility for our actions- God's will and all that crap) and Can there be and Atheist spirituality? (Depends on the definition.) Interesting so far...
Full lunar eclipse tonight. Last one for about three years, so I had to go out into the freezing night and look. Magnificent! The moon was in full eclipse, with a wonderful red glow. That is truly spiritual. Seeing nature in all its glory. I know why it happens, I know when it happens, I know when it will happen again. It's not magical or holy. It's science showing off, just like buds in spring and whispering soft snowfalls. I find it beautiful because I choose to, not because some old man in a long white beard (who is a Packers and Cowboys fan at the same time, apparently) has made it beautiful. Beauty is paying attention to the common and the uncommon. It would be the height of egoism to think that some supreme being made something as beautiful as a red eclipsed moon simply for me to enjoy, or to send me a grim warning, or to predict a new king, as has been declared in the past. It happens on a predictable cycle and it's beautiful because I'm there to appreciate it.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Rant for the day.
A few days ago, a student walked into a college c;assroom at Northwestern Illinois University. NIU is about 2 hours from me. Working at a college, and having this happen so close, I can only expect some kind of response from work. Here it is-- we are all supposed to go stand outside by the flagpole (in freezing weather) for a 10 minute "vigil" and we are signing a banner to send to NIU. Well, won't that make them feel better? Won't that just help? WTF!!?? My office is on the ground floor, first one in, easy acces for any CRAZY MAD EVIL GUN TOTING WACKO!!! Are we planning to lock the outside doors, or maybe suggest teachers lock their classrooms? How about even having ID cards displayed? Anything? Last communication from higher up was that the locks on the classroom doors will be changed to push button locks. Now teachers have to lock and unlock the doors with a key. So you could open your door without unlocking it, and then close it and it would be locked again. Now instructors will have to push a button in to lock a door. That makes us more secure how? Every instructor has a key.
So we have a meaningless gesture to NIU, who could use maybe some help with councellors or with some useful discussion about how to make campuses safe, and a meaningless change in "security" to keep us safe. It's going to cost some money to secure the campus, but it could be done, and we aren't safe until we do.