Monday, May 24, 2004

Sara is in the living room watching The Swan (for intellectual purposes of course). Now, I am usually able to watch some of the crappiest television around, but this was even below me.

It really seems like something out of an Orwell novel.

In other news - I received an award today. It is from the Graduate Minority Student Association "For Inspiring Those Who Follow". I even got a neat little clear plastic (it is supposed to look like glass or crystal) pentagon with the university logo, my name, the name of the award, and the date engraved on it.

I also drove up to Boston to look at the outside of an apartment for Sara. We are now trying to schedule a walk-through. It is hard, though, with all the graduation fuss beginning.

I need some inspiration to revise the paper for the edited volume. Can you say burnout? It really has not gone anywhere as of yet.

The mosquitos are coming out. I hate them.
Gas Prices.

They keep going up. I have very mixed feeling about this phenomenon.

This is good because:
-It will force us to become more efficient with our consumption of oil.
-I can laugh at all the stupid SUV owners.
-It might bring about more demand for energy efficient or hybrid vehicles.
-People will be more likely to use existing or demand more public transportation.

It is not good because:
-I am sure Chenney and his oil buddies are making a pretty buck (which will probably be paid back into Bush's re-election campaign).
-SUV owners are the ones who can afford to pay the excessive costs of gas.
-Poor people will face higher costs for commuting.
-Cash-strapped local governments are likely to cut back on public transportation.
-This will inevitably lead to inflation (higher costs of transporting goods=higher prices).

Maybe it is a sign of better things to come. Let me explain. The oil companies are beginning to think that Bush will lose the election, so they might as well gauge the public now while they can. One can only hope...

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Finally! The grading is DONE!

I think everyone got the grade they deserved...more or less. Everyone passed, although there were a few students who might not have deserved it. Not my problem.

What now? A night off with a few beers and nothing to do. Very nice...

Tomorrow I will tackle the next item on the agenda. Revise a paper Sara and I submitted to be included in an edited volume. The topic is fun: Food and Identity. The revisions - not so much.

We also have started our simultaneous house/apartment searches. My search is being done long-distance with the help of a very kind professor at the college who is visiting potential places, taking pictures, and sending me a report. I have a couple of leads, and she is going to visit another place on Wednesday.

Sara and I saw an apartment in Boston yesterday. It was nice, but Sara has safety concerns since it is a basement apartment (with good reason - a few years back we had our apartment broken into). On the way back to Providence, we drove through a nice section of Boston - West Roxbury. We saw a house we really liked. If only we had enough money to buy it. We are not quite there yet. Damn!

Funny story:
When we got back home last night, our dog welcomed us with the top of a small garbage can around his neck. We have a small plastic trash can in our living room where we dispose of our tissues. It has a rounded top with an oval flap that swings open. Our dog, for some strange reason, loves to chew used tissues when we are out of the house. He usually manages to get the top off, but this time he pushed his head through the swivel opening and got his head caught. The top then came off and stayed around his neck. It looked like one of those plastic cones you put on dogs when they have a wound or have had surgery to keep them from licking/biting at the wound.

This actually had happened once before. It kept him from getting in the trash for about a week, but then he was back at it. We will see what happens this time. Both times he was extremely pleased to see us, and in his own way begged for some assistance. The first time he had to endure me trying to change the film in the camera in order to take come pictures of him. When I get them developed, I will probably post them.

I can't believe graduation weekend is a week away. The graduation carnival (Sara called it the divorced parent circus) will officially start on Wednesday when my mother and step-father arrive. We will have dinner with them then, but they are planning on spending the next few days in in Boston. My father and step-mother arrive late Sunday night. They will require more attention. Luckily my sister arrives Saturday and can help in that matter.

I am looking forward to seeing my mother, step-father, and sister. It has been almost two years since I last saw them.

It's the carnival I am not that thrilled about. This will actually be the first time all our families we will meet. Sara and I eloped just to avoid such a carnival.

At the very least I will have some interesting stories to write here.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. If anyone still stops by here...

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

So tired...



I have been so spacy today. We parked near campus to go do some errands. As we dropped some stuff in the car to go do some more, I turned around and walked straight into a parking meter. Remember that I am 6'5", so my line of sight is high above the meter. It hit me right in the gut and kinda knocked the wind out of me.

Follow that by imagining me tripping on cracks in the sidewalk, whacking my head on low lying branches, going to a bbq that is actually taking place tomorrow (and finding out that nobody was there of course) and stumbling down some stairs. Now you have an idea of what my day has been like.

Here's hoping to a better tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2004

I guess you can call it post-dissertation burnout.

I have found it extremely difficult to motivate myself to do anything. And there is so much that I need to do. Each day, however, I find slightly more enthusiasm.

Today I managed to clean a very, very gross bathroom (in our apartment, not just a random one in case you were wondering) and vacuum copious amounts of dust and dog fur from our carpets (just the living and dining rooms - the rest of the apartment has to wait). Then the motivation was gone.

I have stacks of exams and papers to grade. I need to get to them soon. My reasoning, however, is that it would not be fair to the students to grade them when I had absolutely no willingness to do it.

I will probably start making more frequent appearances here, at least for the next couple of weeks. At least that is something else I should do.

Random thoughts:

-John McCain was on Meet the Press. Although I disagree with many of his political positions, I respect the man. He is not an ideologue like most other politicians. I think it would be very good for this country if Kerry picked him as his running mate. This country is polarized and it is not good. We need a team that can bring it together. Will it happen? Probably not.

-People of the same gender can apply for marriage licenses today in Massachusetts. Good for them! A couple we are friends with (different genders) might join the merriment and get married as well. Congrats to all!

-What do you do if you live in a small city apartment, but you really want a fish pond? You go down to the sidewalk break a hole in it, dig it out, and build it right there. That is what some people who live a block away from us did. The pond is about two feet, by two feet, by two feet. It is right in the middle of the sidewalk - I kid you not. It is lined with rocks, it has a light for the night time, and there is even fish in it. I am surprised the neighborhood cats/skunks/other critters have not gotten them yet. It is a really bizarre sight. Sara actually took a picture of it. If you ask her nicely, maybe she will post it.

-We are finally taking a vacation! Next month, Sara, the dog, and I are going to Maine! A trip where we can get away from everything. Whoohoo!!!!

-I mailed in my signed contract today.

-I hate moving.

-Motivation to write more - gone.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

How much is the knowledge stuck in my brain worth?

Today it was worth $1.60.

I was able to answer the trivia question at the local Starbucks. The prize was a tall (meaning small) coffee. I negotiated and was able to get a tall (again small) iced tea instead.

The question? What is the lowest point on land on earth?

By the way, I accepted the postdoc in Washington state. I will be flying the friendly skies frequently on the Walla Walla-Boston express. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

You take a couple of days off to format and finish editing your dissertation and Blogger goes and changes its look.

It is going to take some time to get used to this.

As is getting used to the fact that the dissertation is history. I officially submitted it to the university today. It is done. Any changes now will be for a future publication.

As I look around my littered and cluttered office, I realize that I no longer am dependent on the books, notes, articles, and other sources that surround me. I can return library books, put my own stuff away, and throw away several trees worth of paper.

Yes, it is going to take a while to sink in.

There are still exams and papers to grade, though. As much as I tried, I could not wish them away. I will tackle them tomorrow.

Now to the Good News is Bad News section:

I got the postdoc at the college in Walla Walla.

It is an amazing opportunity, yet it is also about seven or eight hours by plane from Boston. Hmmmph...It is only for a year. That is what I keep telling myself.

Too much stimulus concentrated in a brief period of time. It is a tad overwhelming.

It is also hot. Where did spring go? I hardly got to know you.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Coast to Coast Treking
I am back from my one day adventure out west.

It went well, except the trip back. Hit a few snags there. What would a trip be without some delays, missed connections, and things of that sort.

And what do you do the day after you get back from such a long and intense trip? You go to Boston for the afternoon and you book your next trip (this time to Mexico). I am still not sure why my psychiatrist has not had me committed. He must be a quack.

More when I start making a little more sense.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Yes, the cork popped.

No, we have not recovered. There too many things left to do.

We have to format this huge document in a very specific way to submit it to the university. Here is an example from the guidelines of the crap we need to deal with:

Page Numbers
Each page, including blank ones, must have a number. The number should not appear on the title page or the copyright page but, these pages are assigned numbers and are included in the pagination. Preliminary pages are numbered with lower case roman numerals, centered at the foot of the page, three-fourths of an inch from the bottom edge. The title page counts as page i but the number does not appear on the page. The remainder of the dissertation is numbered with Arabic numerals beginning with 1.

On pages with major headings (e.g., the first page of a chapter), the numbers should be centered at the bottom as on the preliminary pages. On all other pages, they should be placed flush with the margin at the top right corner of the page, three-fourths of an inch below the top edge.

So yes, I do have ruler on my desk and I have been measuring how far the page numbers are from the top/bottom of the page. There are ten pages of rules like this. And they need to be followed precisely or else you don't get to graduate. My appointment to submit is on the eleventh, which normally would give me some time, but other events will definitely keep me on my toes.

Other events:

My students have their final exam tomorrow. A few of them are in a panic. I will have a nice pile of exams to grade as of tomorrow afternoon.

On Wednesday I am off to Walla Walla, Washington for another interview. I have written my lecture, but it needs some more editing and I still need to practice it some more. I am not sure when I will be able to do that.

I am not looking forward to the ten hour and two plane change trip out there. It will be the first time I will set foot in Washington state, though. I also fly through Seattle, so I will be sure to pick up a cup of coffee there. I also fly through Chicago, but I think I will skip the sausages/meat. I will bring the exams to grade/keep me busy.

I need to start planning my summer school course.

Oh yeah, there is that trip to Mexico I mentioned a while back. More on that when I get a chance.

Ah, the life of a doctor ... [to be honest with you, nothing has changed].

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I am watching Meet the Press this morning. I must say Kofi Annan has the coolest accent. No wonder he is Secretary General of the UN.