Archive for September, 2006

Sort of anticlimactic

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Okay, so I went to the big Safety Meeting.  Seems the president saw a picture of one of the chem faculty’s research lab, and it’s a total mess.  The president feels it’s a safety issue — you couldn’t get to the eyewash station if you got chemicals in your eyes — so he’s ordering everybody to clean up the clutter in their labs if it poses a safety risk.  There was a lot of bitching, but I doubt many faculty have labs that are that cluttered.

Super Secret Double Probation

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

I’m all a-twitter.  We got an email from the dean this morning announcing a MANDATORY lab safety meeting for all faculty in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  I’m just breathless with anticipation.  Will it be about not wearing open-toed shoes in the lab?  Chewing gum?  Neglecting to wear gloves?

Walt apparently knows, but he’s SWORN to SECRECY.  Perhaps I’ll be able to tell you all after the meeting.  Perhaps only if afterward I kill you.  Time will tell. Shhh.

Really cool video

Monday, September 25th, 2006

You have to check out this video of airline traffic.  Seriously.

Part of a whole set of data visualizations from Science magazine.

Great fall day

Monday, September 25th, 2006

This afternoon was a lambent, lapidary, crystalline day.  I had a meeting at 4 PM, and I was really pissed, walking across campus, that I was going to be in a meeting instead of on my bike.  I managed to get home and onto the bike by 6 PM, and had a short ride before the sun went down.  I almost violated my “no riding after dark” rule, as it was definitely twilight by the time I got home.  Worth it, though.

Damn, weekends are tiring

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

I spent most of today and yesterday cleaning out Betsy’s apartment at the Chateau Girardeau*.   Now we have a bunch of large boxes in the middle classroom, waiting to be unpacked and sorted out.  Robin is sick, and so her contribution consisted of opening doors for me when I came back and unloaded the car.  I was carrying in box after box.

“What’s in that one?”

“Mostly kitchen stuff.”

“What’s in that one?”

“Random crap.”

“What’s in that one?”

“More random crap.”

In fact, they’re all mostly random.  We’ll eventually figure it out.  We also now have a bunch of pictures to hang.  I’m beat.

* Have I mentioned before my bemusement at the fact that “Chateau” anything is code for “old folks’ home?”  What’s the deal?

The mule jump

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

I really thought that I was going to miss the mule jump this year.  Last night there were terrible storms in the area, and this morning it was still thundering.  The weather forecast gave 100% probability of rain through 10 PM tonight.  However, about 5 it let up, so I decided to go up to Altenburg.

As always, people were directing traffic to the parking fields, but when I went down the gravel road toward the usual parking area, the volunteer motioned to roll down my window.  “Do you have front wheel drive?”

Sinking feeling. “.. uh.. Yeah?”

“Okay, you should probably be able to make it up the hill there,” gesturing at a muddy track up into the parking area.

Probably?  Not very confidence-inspiring.  Still, I went for it, and it worked okay.  As I walked down the hill, I could see the fair and hear the announcer talking about the start of the mule jump.

While there were fewer competitors this year than most, the jumpers were doing as well as ever.

This mule, Romeo, cleared that jump and went on to take second place.  When it came to the final round, he balked:

The owner wound up losing this tug-of-war.

Spectators at the Mule Jump.

Afterward I checked out the produce and baking competitions.

Here’s a double pumpkin in the “Garden Oddities” division.

The pie competition.  I really have to enter next year.

Then I ran into Don and Janet, our friends who live in Oak Ridge, and we drank beer and ate brats.  All in all, a good time at the Altenburg Fair.

On the mule jump, and existential crisis.

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

This weekend is the Altenburg Fair (officially, the East Perry Community Fair), at which, tomorrow night, the Mule Jump will occur.  If it doesn’t rain, I’ll be posting about it tomorrow.

As for existential crisis, Betsy has left Robin and me enough money to pay off our debts and have some left over.  In about 4 years, I’ll be eligible for retirement from the university.  Robin will be eligible for retirement sometime around then too.  So here’s my question:  Should I retire, or is there some compelling reason to keep teaching?

I’m not entirely sure that the rewards of teaching are that compelling to me any more.  Read my ratings.  Classes that used to be exciting are getting to be routine, and it seems like fewer and fewer students are really interested in biology (as opposed to making a lot of money being doctors).

On the other hand, what will I do if I retire?  I’d ride my bike a lot, but will I get bored?  I’ve hardly taken a vacation in 25 years or so, much less been unemployed.  I’m scared that I would retire and just wither away.

So there it is.  What do I do?

I’ve been sicker

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Well, as of today I’m not as sick as I was earlier this week.  I got up Monday morning with a sore throat, and a general feeling of malaise.  Monday and Tuesday all I did was go in, teach my classes, and go back home to bed.  Now I’m just congested, but I don’t feel bad.

Meanwhile, though, this means I haven’t ridden my bike since Sunday, and I’m having withdrawal symptoms.  Maybe I’ll get out for a short ride today.

Little house on the airwaves

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

I did a 50-mile ride on Sunday morning, to Oak Ridge, south to Millersville and Burfordville, then west to Tilsit, and back up to Jackson and Oak Ridge again.  On the county road to Tilsit, I passed this cabin:

Yep, that’s a log cabin, with morning glories climbing all around, and a satellite dish on top.  Back to a simpler time.  They’re probably watching Ponderosa re-runs in syndication.

Palm Jumeirah

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

In the Persian Gulf, near Dubai, they’re building some artificial resort islands in the shape of date palms. (Google Earth KMZ file).  You should also check out this real estate site about them.  Particularly the little video file.  I’m trying to figure out where women are allowed to show their ankles in this place — apparently on yachts and in the spa, but not on the beach.  Apparently Beckham and several other British soccer stars have bought homes there already.  Weird place, Dubai.  According to this article, sort of Las Vegas on the Persian Gulf.