Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

To quote the cat

Well we're not going to have much time to settle into the semester until the second week in October - quelle joie. And so today was spent trying to stay afloat. In his infinite wisdom the Prince Regent is having everyone justify their budgets again - weren't we here last year ? It is getting somewhat dispiriting to realise that it is always going to be "what have you done for me since breakfast ?" The infighting as to who gets credit for what is foolish and divisive, but at least it is being kept, to some degree, from the faculty in general. Unfortunately I can only see it getting worse. We bring a national leader to the campus and after he has been here a week tell him he has to find half his salary after the end of this semester ! Utter Madness.

Back at the office finally got the last presentation off to Europe, where it arrived OK, copied the paper for Brazil, and told those concerned that we might get an extension on the Boston work. In the delay in purchasing the large toy the price went up $20,000 - and where the . . . . am I supposed to find that ? On the other hand the problem that we were trying to work around with the Ohio work seems to have been solved by someone in California - its just that the price for the system is just the other side of incredibly outrageous. Lets say they added more than a zero to what we might think a decent price - except that, apart from us, I don't think anyone else knows how it works. But, Yikes that's high. Hmm, I wonder how little of it I can get by with getting. Went down to finish the piece for Development, and well let's just say that it looks a little more artistic than originally intended. (That's what you get when you try and show off in front of a class). Arranged to meet the Pole at Frankfurt station on Sunday to see if we can find the hotel together.

Came home and switched on the TV as the Distinguished Majority Leader of the US Senate began to speak. Heard choking noises and the cat threw up all over the carpet. "Nuff said. (Since I had to clean it up). The Actress, normally almost totally non-political just got sworn in as someone who can register folk to vote, prior to going to a rally when I am out of town. Even the new Milladoiro (O Nino do Sol) is not helping with the headache after upgrading lectures to the gentle tones of the Convention.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Call to England

Had to call the front desk at the home since four tries at five minute intervals did not get an answer. The Manager went up to Mum's room and she was just watching the Olympics with the sound turned up too loud to hear the phone. Not really anything else new. We discussed the problems of Teacher and money again and now I was telling her the same things that she had told me last week. Helas !

Since I comment here on what I read on other sites, I suppose I should use Trackback, but first of all I checked with the Blogger help page and it says that they don't support it yet, and secondly being still in the neophyte stage, I am not sure I would understand how to use it. (Is there a Blogging for Idiots book ?) I am waiting for Safari to come out with their next generation since the number of little tokens just above the square I am writing in is only two, and I think there might be a few more if I used a different program.

Well just put the Olympics off, since there are a couple of lectures to revise before I depart at the end of the week . . . . .

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Wisdom of youth

New Kid on the Hallway wrote about Image and the perceptions of folk, and I was reminded of the Advocate coming back to talk to kids, at the High School where he graduated. His talk was about how his audience, the smart kids in the room, felt insecure and poorly achieving, and yet they were, to everyone else, very successful - and he told several anecdotes to the point. (Mainly against himself). I don't think it's something that ever goes away. At the end of a quite successful career I found myself last week thrusting facts into a conversation with the Prince Regent to remind him that we had a certain reputation for something. It probably wasn't needed and probably sounded very ego-centric but it really comes from insecurity.

Our recent debate left us with three new areas that will be a focus for new investment and effort, and they all fall in the area of someone I will call the Mighty Boyar, or Boyar for short. At first I was quite miffed, but realise with a little hindsight that among other things that they are trying to build a couple of things that model something that I helped become quite successful, On the other hand that basic insecurity keeps driving me, even now, to write White Papers and research proposals even as they stretch beyond the time that I plan to hold my current position. And so I begin to debate again, as to when to go ?

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Friday, August 27, 2004

Are we Curious?

Hmm ! Jimbo has installed a Site Meter, whatever that is. Do I want to know who comes here, or maybe who doesn't ? Some years ago we put a meter on one the sites that deal with what I do (in the limited time between blogging). I watched it for about a month, and it was ego-massaging to see who came for a while, but then I stopped and while it may still be there, I have forgotten how to access it.

If there were a lot of folk it would change what I write, I think, since this is a quasi-amusement on what "rings my chimes" every day and so I can with an expected small, though fondly thought of, audience, feel free to be honest and unrestricted. On the other hand if the meter said that no-one came would I feel hurt and rejected ? Could I use it to work out who these fascinating, though pseudonymous folk are that I drop in on, and who in turn visit here ? Do I want to ? Well I bookmarked the site-meter site just in case I change my mind, but for now, I have no idea who you are, dear visitor, and I am not looking. (Not I hasten to add that I mind if others check to see how often I turn up - like the bad penny).


Progress report, I did not do a good first class, since we had to get too many things organized, but the time is set, the notes from last year are posted and we are ready for serious progress next week. I am going to go in tomorrow to rewrite next weeks notes and need to change a couple or more lectures because of a change in class makeup and interests.

We finally found out what was wrong with the demonstration. To keep this vague the answer was two degrees - which as an angle is quite small, but unfortunately enough. There was a hint that, having found that, we might get more funding - but I am not totally optimistic, having been here before. The two white papers went off to Michigan this afternoon, and now all I have left are the article and the two white papers for Indiana. Did I mention that I leave for Europe next Saturday ? So I am going to try pre-recording the lectures for the following week as short segments and posting them to Blackboard. For two lectures it is not that much effort and I can correct if it is too much of a disaster. But for tonight - the wine is Beni di Batasiolo's 1998 Barolo, and while I wouldn't really recommend it, it is passable. Goodnight, whoever you are !

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Being collegial

I am going to break someone's neck. We are in the middle of an experiment outside and the Administrator comes out and says "there's a student to see you."
"Send him down", quoth I.
"My class assignment is to interview you about xxxx (the class subject)."
"Pardon!"
"I need to ask you why you think that xxxxx is useful to you in your career."

(Pause - take deep breath - the test ends - tell everyone what to do to start running the next one).

"Why don't you come up to my office . . . "
Remember that I have acquired a reputation for occasional rudeness to students and so be very polite and give the interview - which ends up lasting about 20 minutes.

So far today I have been asked for and sent a copy of a paper to Japan, and promised to copy and send some papers from a conference to some folks in Brazil (it was from before electronic times). I have helped our Development office select one of our pieces for an auction and put a price ($3,000 - tee, hee) on it that surely it won't make. And I am now (bite) three-quarters of the way through the sandwich I started an hour ago. And I am late for a new faculty reception, am half-way through preparing that final report that must be done before I go home, and Michigan just called to remind me to finish negotiating the current contract because they have a new Statement of Work for the next phase that I need to send them before Friday which is tomorrow.

Of course I had 20 minutes to spare today you lazy child of a female dog, but you are my colleague so I will smile gracefully the next time we meet and thank you for the chance to talk about my work.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Congratulations, you're a Drac, a seductive fae.
What kind of female faerie are you?
Take the female faerie quiz by Paradox.

Oh! It worked, Egad ! (I got there from here).

Well those that think that we can always mine coal when the price of oil gets too high might be amused by someone telling me that the local spot price for coal in Kentucky was $100 a ton (should be around $30) last week. What Energy problem ? The permission came today to spend the money on the contract that allows me to buy a big new toy. Except that after going through the bidding, and then the ordering and then the building thereof it will not get here until sometime in February - which I had to re-explain to the grad student who still thinks it should show up next week.

Tomorrow must be spent on writing a final report, except that I have to post the presentations to Europe, and hopefully get in contact with the folk in Michigan since, after reading what they say they want in the Statement of Work it differs from what they said over the phone. Oh and teach, tomorrow is the mandatory safety bit where we show gory pictures.

An exhilarating yet exhausting part of the job is watching for opportunities and being ready if they appear (the tide). But sometimes they are hard to recognize. The Prince Regent made a comment last week, and I shot him an e-mail and some data. Hatless and the Duchess saw him later (not knowing I had) and were pleasantly suprised at the outcome. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't but you gotta keep at it. Same with research, I think the project we were running outside is now over, but the final report will be couched in optimism - if the test run goes better tomorrow - maybe, just maybe . . . . .

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Oh Foolish Mortal

Watching the Olympics with the sound off, while I blog. Still can't get excited.

Having watched the orderly way in which all other academics have reported their preparations for the semester, I made the neophyte's mistake of scheduling (actually inadvertently) a visit by a research review team during the first two days of the semester. As a result I was slipping away for meetings, phone calls, apologizing to all and sundry for not being there and concurrently trying to attend some demonstrations outside in the pouring rain. That was yesterday. Today I tried to balance all this with meeting the students for class and failed. So we rescheduled for tomorrow. (With it being a senior/graduate class I let them pick the hours). And now we could not repeat the earlier data. Nor could we explain why not. The changed result was very small but critical, and so, even though they have left and this is over, we will be out tomorrow (after catching up with everything else - ha!) to take a small step back, and get it right.

Fortunately the lectures are, with about four exceptions, almost prepared, though I need to review some of the handout text after the conference next month. And now I need to also climb on top of the paperwork, our budget justifications, and an article the Indiana folk want me to write, and we have all the appointments to the new contract mixture to be prepared. (At least they are probably all now here for this semester). The Administrator, being on top of such things, had all the raise letters typed, so that all I had to do was sign them. (Yes they are unbelievably late this year). I doubt that anyone will comment on the numbers. Where does one find gratitude at a University - in one of the dictionaries somewhere between ghonorrea and syphilis.

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Monday, August 23, 2004

Not what I planned on writing

It got worse you know. On page 106 "a beautifully formed WHITE crystal rose - symbolic of the old Terran royal house after which the LANCASTER was named."

(Oh not again !!!)
"The Barons have vanished,
The knights are all dead,
The old orders banished,
Ye-et the rose still is RED."

So there! (That is the second part of the chorus).

The New Yorker had a piece on the First World War last week, and I disagreed with a lot of it. I have long believed that Smith-Dorrien was a good early example of a competent general removed by his politically better connected rivals. It is, unfortunately a fate of many armies that competence in battle is no match for politics.

The piece included a discussion of divisions being led into battle by a German lieutenant and being wiped out. While not familiar with that event I am familiar with a similar situation in the Second Battle of Ypres. In the major histories the fresh battalions of the Northumbrian Brigade were slaughtered in lines as they moved forward. The number who returned out of battalions of around a thousand men each, were on the order of 300. Yet if you read the actual death and casualty lists (not to consider that they were not dreadful) over the course of the next few days a very significant number of men came back into the lines and the numbers that died were reduced quite markedly. A plot of deaths as a function of date for a couple of battalions over the course of the war showed that there were about two days a year where there were severe (as in more than 30) deaths, but for the rest of the time it was in one's and two's that they usually died. And while that is tragic in itself it is no more than some of the troops in Iraq currently see. My point being that the contemporary writings of a considerable number of participants at the time do not convey the hopelessness that the writers suggest. But in the end it is the comment that the generals "did the best they could" which most irritates. Telling the troops to walk forward into uncut wire at the Somme does not prove "the best." Unfortunately too often it was the generals who had risen to power politically, rather than on competence, who ran things then (have things changed ?).

And I would dispute that memorable anti-war literature was "written only in the 1920's". There was contemporary literature that was antiwar and memorable - Wilfred Owen and Sassoon's poems spring immediately to mind.

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Sunday, August 22, 2004

The quiet shattered

So here I am, a quiet read before bed. Picked up "The Dark Path" by Walter Hunt yesterday, and it is a sequel. So nip down stairs and check and there it lies "The Dark Wing." So tonight I start to read it and begin to get that feeling and yes there is the damning sentence . .

page 103 "with the sword-and-sun of the Empire surrounded by a pair of white roses, emblem of the LANCASTER . . . ."

Shriek! Lie on the floor and wave my arms ! Mutter foul imprecations !

Cough, clear the throat, All stand

"For here's to the RED rose,
The Lancaster RED rose,
Old John O'Gaunt's RED rose,
The Royal School's RED rose."

Need I go on (No ! All the neighborhood cats are howling)

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Reference Anecdote

Mel in Jimbo's discussion on tenure files has commented that at some places you are not allowed to know your referees at the time of a tenure/promotion. I thought I might add a short anecdote.

About 10 years ago there was this phone call

Me. "Hello ?"
Voice "Professor X, my name is Professor Y from Prestigious University and I am calling for a reference in regard to Professor Z."
Me. "Who ?"
Voice "You mean that you are not immediately familiar with the works of Professor Z."
Me." No I am not, but I would be glad to review a representative sample of them if you would like to mail them."
Voice. "Thank you but no, you have already supplied us with sufficient information."
Me "You're welcome, goodbye."

I, perhaps obviously, immediately went to my reference files and checked up on Professor Z and his work was in a very narrow area of the field, and I can no longer remember why I hadn't heard of him. Oh, and I sort of knew Prof Y but not well. And the conversation has been reduced in length a bit.

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Call to England

Mum was watching the Olympics, where there is more UK succcess than in some previous times. However the main news was that she has been called by one of Dad's cousins about the condition of Teacher, Dad's sister. When Teacher's husband died some eighteen months ago, he was really her care giver as she was in early stage Alzheimers. Her son, Tunneler, lives in NY and could only get away to arrive on the day of the funeral. Since then he has visited her about once a month, apparently using monies that Teacher's husband had kept in a separate account (it was a second marriage). Nothing particularly wrong with that, except that with the situation getting worse, he does not appear to be involved in helping find a new solution and cousin was concerned that the available money may be running out.

This is the frustration of being that far away. Traveller has never been that close to Teacher so while I will drop a note in that direction it may not help much. I can drop by and see Teacher when I am there in September, but only for a night, and that won't really solve anything. And the computer that has Tunneler's address and number died earlier in the week. Being the rat fink that puts an Aged Relative in care is not fun, having done it for Mum, and watching her trauma at doing it for Dad. But if Tunneler won't I guess I may have to take a week off sometime (hopefully not before October - we're swamped) to go over there and help sort this out. Rabbits!

Otherwise all is well, she is getting on well with her own new care giver and looking forward to my visit, which she had forgotten about.

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Seven to Eleven

The Actress is at the last night of the season. The wine is Domaine de Montvac 1998 Vacqueyras, and Patricia Briggs has a new book out "Raven's Shadow." Brubeck and Milladoiro stacked on the player. Sigh ! Oh, and shades of my youth there are damsons to nibble on with the almonds.

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An expanded comment

Jim has commented on a question from Prof Grrrl on assembling promotion/tenure case documents and I made a small comment. I thought that for those who might find it useful, including perhaps those just starting such an effort and perhaps to help the wives convince hubby that blogs are good I would expand a little on my comment.

In essence I suggested that you keep a record of those, within the profession, who write concerning your work and why they wrote. The intent being that when it comes time to submit a list of references you will then be able to provide some that know some specific items of your work that they can bring out. Having reviewed a fair few dossiers in my time, for all sorts of reasons, the external letters, if properly used, have always carried very significant weight. However there are two sorts of letters, the " yes I am not familiar with the individual but the work I reviewed is good" which don't get reviewers excited (particularly if from an Associate Prof who was a Grad Student with the candidate) and then there are the "yes, I know Prof A because of the work on . . . . , where this specific item caught my attention and I have followed with interest the development of the idea since. etc etc". Being able to provide names and specific areas to ask about can also make the Administrator's job who is collecting the reference list somewhat easier (though it depends a bit on the system you use).

Just print out the e-mail and stick it in the file. We couldn't, back then, do it electronically but I saved all the letters in a box and it helped, and was of increasing importance as I moved up.

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Friday, August 20, 2004

A disorderly mind

The Actress has a severe cold and was up most of the night, and thus in bed most of the day, but in the true spirit of the theater is off to the performance tonight.

The conference is over and facetious comments elsewhere can be blamed on the large glass of Japanese whiskey (Nikka - the experiment continues) that I celebrated with. We got the Oklahoma contract signed and in the discussion, and based on some sample materials that were on the table at the time, a possible answer to the Boston problem bubbled into one's head. But can we try it next week when the Boston folk are here ? Do I gamble or play safe ? For those who dice with research there is really no question ! (Which may explain the lapses in funding that seem to occur from time to time).

The decision about the future directions have now been disseminated and our focus on Experiential Learning, Homeland Security issues and the Environment are, in an increasingly irrelevant opinion, somewhat conservative and being reactive rather than pro-active, but we shall see. Correction - that only applies to the latter two the learning module is still hot and can be made a lot of.

Next week also we will be ordering the piece of equipment that had originally been designated for elimination, with the money redirected to fund an alternate program. (This was one of my earliest intemperate posts). But until it arrives (and perhaps gives me something to play with in my declining years) perhaps I should be cautious about celebrating.

Saw our oil alum again today and he was pointing out that good though the market is, the declines over the past decade mean that when he now needs equipment to drill new wells, or re-treat old ones, it is impossible to get timely responses from the companies that provide the services - they are already booked up for months. So maybe my $50 prediction was too conservative (we got within about $0.50 of it today).

Prof Grrrl was talking about the joy that comes with teaching, and after going in all groggy this morning, the first lecture really brought me back up for the rest of the day. Showing folk how to actually accomplish something new that they had not thought they could do - yup, mighty tasty groceries ! (Though making a new idea work actually just beats it by a head). The down side is that I am now totally drained. Done ! Toast ! And with the iMac dead there is not even the brain-dead option of refurbishing old photos !

Protocol question from a neophyte - is it proper to write your own blog for the day before seeing what others have written or the converse ? This evening has been about 50:50, though I think I had better stop commenting before visiting elsewhere . . . .

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Thursday, August 19, 2004

I'm Bushed

No, not in the current versions of the term, but just the older one of having had a very long busy day. The Course got off to a great start with everyone having ensured that the note books were full, the refreshments in place and the demos ready.

Don't know that the skull on the notebook cover was the most appropriate picture, but the Administrator said it was and so that's what it is. Things rolled along well all morning with both my lectures clicking. I skipped part of others to join in the phone interviews for the Admin job. Got very different views from candidates of different backgrounds, but reasssuring in that there were a couple of good ones today (better than the earlier interviewee). If I can slip out tomorrow I can hear two more.

Rumors of decisions from yesterday's meeting are already spreading. The fact that there has been nothing from Hatless suggests that that avenue is not being pursued. If not before we will probably discuss it on Tuesday. It appears that the Prince Regent has managed to prevail yet again. (But then he is the effective monarch).

After the afternoon session I snuck back and tried using glossy paper to print better photos on the laser printer, but they really didn't turn out much better than on plain stock, and the paper was much more expensive. Then I slipped a print of each attendee "Killing the Pig" over the skull on the cover of their notebooks. Barely got finished before I had to dash to the dinner (must be reliving the inner childhood that just tenured suggests I seek).

Was sat next to an alum in the oil bidness and so we discussed the long term implications of oil prices (since we are only $1.50 and likely only a week or so away from my oil barrel price prediction). He was much more optimistic about Saudi ability and likelihood of increasing production to control prices than I remain. But the data is not there to know how long we can rely on the Middle East, we are not going to get much more out of Iraq, and Iran is stirring the pot to make sure that continues. China on the other hand is already seeing energy problems as they continue to grow and if our energy demand grows by half-a-million barrels a day where will it come from ? No easy answers. (And alternative energy will in the short term not be able to do anything about meeting the demands for fuel for existing cars). No I think the pundits quoted a week ago as anticipating an average price of maybe $30 - $35 a barrel next year are going to prove to be quite optimistic.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Odd day

Well my iMac sits alone by the step, having given up the ghost at the last thunder clap. Rabbits! There was so much that was not backed up.

Been that sort of a day - I did watch the Shot putt tonight just to see the setting being used - then a couple more events but still no excitement.

While frantically putting the last touches to the notes for tomorrow's course took a little time out to go to a new faculty reception and in chatting with Hatless's wife found that she has just had gall bladder and stomach surgery, to go with the breast cancer treatment last year. So she has been confined a lot, which may explain some of Hatless stress.

But then I later went to the meeting to decide on "Where our Good Ship of Academe" should venture forth into a new emphasis area of research activity and he was the one that made the presentation I was expecting from the Duchess. (Though she wasn't there again). Not a very impressive presentation and virtually filled with the little downloadable gimmicks that disguise a poor argument. Which was sad (and frustrating) since there was a much better case to be made. It was too vague and filled with generalities where there was a chance to be specific and pro-active.

Interesting that the discussion turned to the question as to whether it is better to fund say 18 faculty with grad students in the hopes that one or two will seed programs that grow to greatness, or whether it is better to fund a small group to make a more concerted effort, or whether it is better to find a single national leader to come and create a program, with addtional support that the position would allocate.

The latter is much in the vein of the role of the Distinguished Professor and I got the feeling that the Prince Regent did not care for it (a pity since that is the option Hatless expounded). Unfortunately most of the others favored the scattering of the seed on the ground approach. And in my experience this does not work very well at creating national (or better) programs.

Yes maybe with a lot more effort by one or two people it can be filtered and massaged until a nucleus to build a strong program can be defined from the one or two folk that emerge. But in terms of creating a faster track to a strong program it is better to take a few people who are already active and give them significantly more funding which allows them to step up to a higher plane of performance and visibility more rapidly. For those not funded it also gives a reward to aim for (if in subsequent years it is passed judiciously around) rather than, as in the broad scattering of the seed, becoming considered something of an entitlement. (This, I hasten to add, is separate from Start-Up funding of which I am very strongly in favor).

I don't know when the final decisions will be made, but sitting almost silent through most of the discussion I came away uninspired and maybe this is where I should start the disconnect process - or have I already ?

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Not really convinced

There is an article in today's Telegraph on the eight different types of intelligence, and why these should be tested for, and used to allow greater access to Universities.

I am not convinced, since there are surely only certain types of intelligence that would gain from the more conventional University programs, while the others might better be developed in a different form of environment. But then that would get one into issues of streaming, and while I am a successful product of such a system, one senses that it is no longer PC.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Missing the Olympics

This is the first year that it seems we have no great interest in the Olympics - and I have no idea why not. Apart from the Opening, that I watched alone. we haven't watched any. It may be just that there is so much else going on, or there wasn't enough hype, but so far tonight I just blogged around, will now read a bit and then bed. In curiosity I switch on the TV and lo there is a feature on Chaco Canyon - sorry Greece. They are using 3-D modelling well, and I need to get back to doing it again.

We will find out how the current political clime is shaking out after a meeting tomorrow, but since we have to get ready for the course on Thursday (plus I need to mail our presentations tomorrow) I think I will miss the meeting (another negative - tsk!).

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Quiet at last

The whirlwind that seems to have seized my moments has still not stopped. Self-promises to work on the presentations at night are defeated by, the theater, an invitation to dinner, and tonight friends whose child (and husband) return to China on Saturday. They came round to share our reminiscences and their immediate memories. So I am still one paper presentation and two course presentations short for this week. (Since today was taken by another Congressional visit).

My intent was to blog about the Advocate who is 29 today, and is spending it, as he has the last two or three, as the medic at a camp for disadvantaged inner city kids with AIDS out East. I can be a little more descriptive of him than of the Engineer, who turned 26 on Wednesday past since the younger child is a Grad Student at a place where, if I am not mistaken, one of the visitors to this site also resides. These are the true riches that have come from the past years. I was then going to go on and talk about why I am not that equivalently financially rich as a lead in to a discussion about Universities and patents. (About which I have been very disillusioned for a number of years). However it seems that for the first time in three days the house is quiet and I can just rest, and so my little diatribe will wait, while I return to the land of "Elvenborn", having finished "First Rider"s Call" which was better than "Green Rider." The Actress alas is now well into Menopause, which means that there are good days and bad. Yesterday was a good day.

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

A Call to England

With the Actress off to the matinee, this was a little later today (given also that it was the Actress birthday - she got Calendar Girls among other things). The Engineer and the Advocate called, but after she had left. The Engineer and I had a video chat with him in his office and me in the bedroom. We also had a call from . . .

Hmm! what shall we call you, dear friends ? (Old Friends . . .? Can't get too Bushie . . . .)

Mum was quite bright, after the Traveller and family had been up for a couple of days. The weather was good so they went to a local Stately Home (where Bobby Shaftoe lived) where the eldest Grandchild insisted that she pay for lunch. We are getting old !

Not really a lot new but she sounded in good spirits and we talked of the Olympics and that the Opening Show wasn't quite as good as some in the past.

Well must dash out to dinner . . .

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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Now don't forget

Ah, Saturday, nice lie in bed Saturday, zzz! Oops ! Today is Highway cleanup day, and so instead of bed there we are in the early(ish) hour standing at the tail end of a pickup drinking coffee and nibbling on muffins. Fifteen show up and so off we went in teams of four to clean two miles of highway verge. After years we have it down to a fine art. 3 teams split the stint into 2/3 mile lengths and 2 to each side. Two bags each and off we go. All done in just under two hours. As a social comment on the discharge habit of the travelling public, not as many beer cans as usual, no hard liquor or diapers, just one dead animal, mainly soda and fast food refuse.

Then on the way home realize that tomorrow and not Monday is the Actress Birthday. Drop by, in order, the bookstore, the card shop and the cake shop. Luckily a lady in the latter ices a quick greeting, now it just has to stay cool in the car until I can get it home.

Scoot into the office to do a quick presentation, but spend most of the time blogging and doing e-mail and scanning in more slides. Digital ICE does not work when scanning in the Polaroids from the late '80s. Today its more than 50 Stonehenge pictures. Which means I need to shift them over to a CD. (Wonder if I should send the slides or CD's over to the Archives).

Tonight it is off to the theater with Teacher as a guest. So must be home early. Maybe I won't get to do any presentations - well there is always Monday night. (We have Congressional folk in the lab on Monday).

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Friday, August 13, 2004

Short shrift . .

Well this is interesting. Came in this morning to find that the two papers on my chair yesterday, that I then spent the morning reviewing, were actually sent because they are part of the session I am chairing in Germany and were only sent for my information. Then on to the first phone interview. And through the wonders of the Internet check on the things that the candidate is saying. There is a Powerpoint presentation within the Website. Download it and read it. Abstract it and later send it to the rest of the committee. The numbers will speak for themselves.

Work on the presentations for Germany and then there is an e-mail message from the Dauphin. Am I aware of the meeting looking into our Boston and Oklahoma work. What meeting ? I make some joke about expecting a clean handkerchief and a good brand of cigarette. Not being informed or invited and even the very fact that there is some form of meeting, given the attendees is, to be polite, intriguing. Especially since the technology is so promising. But why are they meeting without informing us ?

A strangely quiet afternoon, and then home to see the start of the Olympics. The Actress is off at the Theatre.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

But it was so nice . . . .

Motivated by other cool people that have been reporting on the indulgence of lying late in bed, before the start of the semester, I took an extra hour under the covers this morning. Herumph! I came in to two papers that needed to be reviewed Today sitting on my chair. Oh, and a reporter had called from Seattle. But since I was at the Great Political Event I had missed the chance for a line in the piece. (Which peripherally deals with our Ohio work).

Not to worry there was a student on line who needed to know if the company he was working for during the summer could use our stuff to solve a problem. Would love to have sounded brilliant but it was solved about 30 years ago - sigh! It was a day that went like that. I reset up my laptop to scan in slides and worked through about 50 off to the side as little problem after little problem filled the day. After sending off the paper reviews (though there were apparently supposed to be four) was reminded that we have to submit the presentations for Europe by Monday. Ulp ! So we argued about a common style and chose one. (I need to do my two tomorrow). Then finally got round to finishing the recommendation - actually she had 128 hits on Google, but I didn't read them all. Discussed our results with the Boston folk - for over an hour - don't think we will get more from them they need results faster and cheaper than they can realistically be obtained. Nobody ever did this before and feeling our way forward as we are we just cannot pull instant answers out of thin air. They will be here in two weeks, and the folk from Belgium are flying in on the same plane that I come back from Europe on - that's going to make for a really smart conversation next month. Then we did a first estimate for the Kentucky work (which isn't in Tennessee as I thought yesterday).

Listening to Milladoiro is gradually getting me soothed down (its Galicia No Tempo) and the Saki and crockpot chicken is also helping (the experiment continues). Speaking of which after putting the prediction about oil on the noticeboard I saw the quote at MyDD about analyst quotes for oil prices next year. And I quote:

"I just finished canvassing the Street to see what analysts are using for the price of oil for 2005, the integral element of their estimates. The average of the whole Street is $31 a barrel. Nobody is higher than $35; many are still below $30. Here are the prices I have as of this morning from the firms that have helped:
Goldman Sachs: $35
Raymond James: $34
AG Edwards: $32
Merrill Lynch: $32
Lehman Brothers: $30
Smith Barney: $28
UBS: $28
CSFB: $27
Bear Stearns: $30 "

Obviously they didn't read the NYT yesterday. Well off to meander around the blogospere and then back to "Green Rider." I was tempted to suggest that Kerry respond to Cheney by asking whether he would rather live in Ireland or Israel, but realized that would be too nuanced.



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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Not all politics is national

It's already Wednesday and our nice steady research productivity that we have sustained over the summer is being shredded by the onset of the semester. But first we have to have meetings - some of which I have even called.

First we had the meeting for the course and divided the lectures - I have four. As we finished it was off to find out how the new budget forms work. Except that they relate to NIH and NSF and our folk often want to pay us by the hourly rate so this didn't help much - except to consume an hour and a half. The colleague wanting the reference was there and at least I could tell her it was half done. (Top of my list for tomorrow). The forms also don't deal with monthly estimate and expense, which some of our masters want.

Indiana is that way and so I did this month's written and financial report, (meaning no time to write any of the new ideas that they want me to send - sigh). But I got four cookies and a cup of coffee with the demonstration.

Back at the office we were scrambling to get the info for the reporter/journalist. Somewhere in 5,000 photos we have to have the ones that will work. The Administrator finally found four and I forgot to burn these to a CD so will need to e-mail them first thing in the morning (Item 2 on my list).

But then off to the Congressional visitor. I ended up on the front row and had to make some unanticipated (by me) remarks. Since the Duchess had snaffled the obvious portfolio (but wasn't there oddly) and the nominal reason was under the aegis of another colleague I played nice and just make gentle waffling noises. They did give us a couple of cookies - so I suppose in all I had some lunch. And then there was the tour (which I skipped to sign the forms on the Ohio contract in a different office - we may even get to start s that this week (what a silly hope). So I got back to the office at 4 pm and helped with the final photo selection. (The Administrator is better than I at judging what the public likes).

In case, gentle reader, you had missed the signs there is actually one of those university political manoevering things going on here. We have a senior Administrative position currently coming up (other than the Tsar). Duchess, who is not by some definition qualified, is the favorite of the Prince Regent (better name than number 2). Her major competitor on campus is the Dauphin, who would probably be the choice of the committee - if he were to run. I think that Hatless might be running, except that his recent dropping of the hat would weaken that effort, and I really think he is hoping that there is an Aministration change since that is where he came from (the last D.C. one that is).

This is going to get a whole lot closer to shall we say an earlier historic period in Italy, before it gets much older. Oh ! A hysterical thought pops into mind. Surely they don't think I am going to run. Actually I wouldn't have a prayer, but it certainly might explain the portfolio decision. Who said paranoia is not well and flourishing in academe. (Since, as you know, I will step down before too long this is probably also maybe just an ego-massaging thought but it will amuse me tonight . .)

Having made the prediction here about oil prices, just for a bit of fun I stuck a note on the wall outside commenting that I would be vindicated if oil hits $50 and my usual erroneous self if it drops to $30. That was before I saw a recent and tomorrow's article on the subject in the Guardian. Instead of Christmas I should probably have put the Election. It should generate a little amusement among my students.



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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Cheering Up

Coming home annoyed with self, kicked a table without my shoes on. Rabbits, since the wee toe is now swollen and red - but six weeks one way and a month and a half the other.

Was going to do all sorts of things but ended up ordering the missing Elven book, and picking up "First Rider's Call" which means I need to re-read "Green Rider" by Kristen Britain first. I am reminded of a time decades ago when blue over failed romance I went out to get some cheerful music and came back with Piaf. So tonight as I got buried in discussions of anonymity at various sites as I listened to Calic - La canco catalana a Sardenya.

Actress rehearsal did not go well either. The show starts at the end of the week. Think I had better sleep in a little in the morning to be more rested for the fray - not sure that the new mattress is really helping though it seems a lot more comfortable.

Grump! Snarl ! (Is that less effeminate ?)

Oh, and since the future is clouded, and the lecture only touched on this at the beginning as intro, nevertheless if the price of oil drops back to $30 by Xmas I was wrong, if it goes over $50 I was sadly right. (This is per barrel and not, yet, per gallon).

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Yesterday's Hero

I began this blog, in part I suppose to catalog the gradual closing of a career. And the wind blew a little colder today.

We were discussing the leadership of different activities and one came up that has been something I have been positioning us to take advantage of for some time. But the decision has been made that this will be led by the Duchess, with the note that "we need the right dynamo leading the charge." Well let's see there was the command lecture that went down quite well after that, the e-mail from the reporter, for which we have to dig some stuff up ASAP. I guess I could go on massaging my ego, but yep! there is writing on that wall, and if I were only wearing my glasses I could read it.

Hmmm! We have political delegations here intermittently over the next few days - so with critical contract deadlines I wonder how much work we will be able to get done. We got the Boston visit postponed for a couple of weeks, so that eases the pressure a little there - but we need to move the Ohio initiative and then there are all the course notes to do for the class next week. Call a meeting for the morning and distribute the effort.

So now I have three of yesterday's four things ticked off the list. The one that remains is the letter of recommendation (did you guess I hate writing these). A quick check thrugh Google brings 37 immediate citations (but not a blog - though I did not look to see if she has one - because I have no idea how to go about it). The first three paras are easy, but now the work product . . . .

Nine items on todays list - I did five - oops! Gotta stop by the bookstore.

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Monday, August 09, 2004

So I Made a List

It only had four things on it, but I need to get them done, but at the end of the day had only done two. The most important was the lecture to be given tomorrow. The Tsar (a better title than Number One I think) won't be there, though I guess that is not that important any longer. Decided to intro with the Hubbert's Peak premonitions of imminent energy problems since they help to explain the current gas prices and so into the spiel. So happily gathered data this morning, there was a good (read cynical) Danish Conference that I downloaded from last year (but can't immediately remember where from). And then we discussed the candidates (is it cheating to have attending a meeting as something achieved on the list ?) We rescued one from the discards and deleted three that leaves six to move on to the next stage, And that is all I did virtually all day.

Oh there were a couple of chats with colleagues and a grad student, and - how could I forget - the tests for Tenessee worked. Here I can confess that I actually didn't think we'd get as good a number as we did. Now all we have to do is to convince someone to put up the money - sigh! But they are interested. Everything is burbling along, just a little more pressure than totally comfortable - we need to get back to the stuff for Boston . . .

Well I'm now over half-way through "Elvenblood", the Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey sequel to "Elvenband" and horrors!
just found that there was a third volume. Now I need to chase that down. If it's not one thing . . . . .

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Blogger's Sunday

The new semester seems to be coming at express train rates, and there is too much to do, so I excuse myself that this will be the last free weekend for a while. Yesterday we dropped by a Beauty Contest, then watched "Girl with a Pearl Earring." The Actress pointed out that it was a lot more enjoyable if you had read the book first. The DVD has a feature on the scene where the patron comes to pick up a painting and then doesn't come through with more. It bothered me a bit then, and its been an itch since.

For a couple of reasons I know some working artists. One is local and we have bought some of his work, both for ourselves and the occasional gift. He, though talented, works other jobs to stay alive. The other in internationally known. So I suppose that she would be my equivalent of Vermeer. I got to thinking of her profit margins which I know in a couple of cases - they are not very great. And thinking about both and what little I know of their relations with clients, the scene felt wrong. Except that they both seem to act as he did, when you start talking about their work. I know that it was used as an artifact to introduce all sorts of elements. But . . . .

So I needed an escape and having not had much luck with Thomas Frank (which I did finish with more effort) and had finished the Chernegor Pirates (which was a bit of a disappointment and thus took a week) I turned to a reliable source and picked Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey's "Elvenbane" from the books-I've-read shelves ('cos I haven't read the sequel which was across the room). By 2 pm today I was at page 434 - notice the difference when the author(s) set me free.

Of course I should be preparing the lecture for Tuesday, but I found a good quote as I have gleefully blogged away the rest of the afternoon, so this was really work related . . . .right . . . . .

Oops! Almost forgot the experiment. We had Sangria with fahitas.

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The Call from England

Mum's phone is still not working right so, knowing that, she is still calling out to all of us. Her dentist dropped by yesterday and for thirty pounds pulled a tooth and remade the denture. He added a couple of clasps and these are pulling her remaining teeth into shape and so discomforting. Much better than the $x00 it would have cost over here (since she is paying for it herself).

We talked about her hip operation since Mary, the 93-year old that fell, broke her hip and so they are giving her a new one. Mum recommends it, since she has had no pain since they did hers just over 2 years ago. However after her incident last week her leg is all black and blue, but the cut is healing. I need to remember this since the Administrator has a growing crack in her hip, and is coming to talk to me about it tomorrow since they are talking hip surgery to her. (She is not confident).

The Traveller and family are going up next Friday, and arrangements will be made to get some of the legal paperwork taken care of to cover the finances. It is very frustrating being this far away and not able to help, but he seems to be coping well.

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Friday, August 06, 2004

Stripping a veil

Apart from the addictive properties of the blogworld - which Just Tenured and Jimbo have been kind enough to comment on, another advantage is that it allows you to sort of publicly comment on things that you might otherwise shrug off.

So, because I want to post this before the potential event, so that we can see if they were right, herewith a comment on Earthquake Prediction. It is, in a sense stripping away a little of my anonymity - though not a lot, and a quick check down the right side of Crooked Timber suggests that there aren't a lot of geologist bloggers anyway (though I am not either).

Under the influence of a glass of Zubrowka (which, for those of you not in the know, is a Polish "bison grass" vodka) and the remnants of that bottle of Korean Jinro House Wine (don't bother it needed ice to be palatable) I shall venture a comment on an article today in Salon.

The comment is that the basic science is not new - in the US the marker is generally radon - and that the argument presented in the paper is not totally correct. What happens in the lead up to an Earthquake (and I am stealing this from a general knowledge base) is that two beds of rock are sliding one against the other. As long as they slide there are small quakes and no big issues. However occasionally the two sides stick, and the small earthquakes stop. When this happens the rock is put under increased load and at about 60-80% of its strength it starts to crack. These cracks are fresh and water is drawn into them, because there are fresh surfaces on each side of the new cracks the water can dissolve out some of the rock. Then as the movement continues the cracks are squeezed shut and the water is forced out (you see this in well levels). It now contains these higher levels of whatever (radon, metals etc as in the paper), and they can be detected. Generally at this point the quake is close.

OK so why blog on this - well if you watch California earthquake events for a short while you start to note that there is a bit of the fault that hasn't shown a lot of earthquakes for a bit. (The gap is there again today). You then add a prediction that there will be an earthquake there in September coming from Vladimir Keilis-Borok. And being a curious animal you want to get people to see if this is right.

There are two additional thoughts - I got into this by trying to explain earthquakes to a nephew that lives in Berkeley - within 2 miles of the Heyward Fault, and I usually do this sort of thing in class, but given the hiatus that I mentioned a few posts ago that may not happen this semester (though actually I am starting to rebuild an enrolment - one student at a time - grr!)

The second comment is to satisfy my own curiosity. The other day I mentioned a couple of malt whiskies - and shortly thereafter the ad at the top of the page mentioned where they come from. I am sort of curious to see how the ad changes as I mention other consumables. (Us experimentalists just can't stop )

P.S. Who started this thing about lists - it's giving me a complex, since while everybody I've been to is happily posting lists with stuff lined out, for us who are disorganized at the end of every day I strike at most one or two things and have about 8 more added. (Not that I don't do it - I just hide the list from everybody). Am I that inefficient . . . . .

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Creativity or through a glass clearly

The fun thing about blogging around the academic blog-sphere is the never-knowing anticipation of what has happened since yesterday. It's far too addictive. Then there are the quizes, which seem to be getting more common (or I'm just finding where to look). Today was the pirate at fidius which I got to from Just Tenured who turned out to have the same name as I earned.

Then there are the discussions. There is a good one on Creativity at the gaping void which I tried, for some reason without success, to add a comment to. It was on knowing "the great idea" when it comes. Having done some part of this my answer was something on the lines of "When the idea written in soap on the bathroom mirror in the dark at 3 am is still readable and makes sense at 6." On the other hand sometimes they just feel right, and they are easy to see and build on. The not-so-good usually don't just appear but have to be teased out like whelks.

On the other hand the occasional glass of what is good for one has also been known to help considerably (including my last disclosure).

UPDATE
Turns out I was too impatient and the comment did appear in somewhat better form than the above. Ah, well given the sort of day it has been I think it's time to find if the source cited above will induce further creative processes - but not, I think here, tonight. I think there is a bottle of Korean something or other around. . . . . .

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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Reality strikes

Maybe this is one of the reasons this is still anonymous. Today I had to review the initial 29 applications for a relatively senior position on campus. Bear in mind this is the initial screening and we are a relatively small committee. So the goal is to refine the pool so that we can meet next week and select the handful for interview.

OK here is the deal, as you may have noticed I don't have a huge amount of free time, so I set aside about 90 minutes for the initial screening. Figure it out - that is about 3 minutes for a resume. Here is a hint - sending in a note that says "I saw the ad in the Chronicle, here is my resume" unless the resume began with "After winning my first Nobel at the age of 15 I donated my inherited $15 million to your college and . . ." then it is unlikely that I even spent 2 minutes on it. (If you think that after years out of college that folk would know that then you are smarter than about a quarter of the applicants).

A nice relatively short (the range was I think between a page and a half and three pages) letter stating who you are, why you think you are qualified and what you might do with the job was pretty common to the applicants who were picked. Telling us at length how well you were able to teach French in Borneo is not exciting when we are hiring somebody to weld two halves of a ship together. Nor is sending in a thick report that proves how well you did your last job by requiring that we find and read the tables on pages . . . . (we have heard of cut and paste).

Oh and if you have changed jobs 5 times in the last 6 months it might be nice to explain that you really couldn't get your foot free from the caboose of the train, rather than letting us assume that you don't handle change well. We are really trying to find the best person who will fit the job and be here a while. And while we are going to spend a lot of time on individuals from now on that effort will be concentrated on the five or so folk left in the pile. If you don't have the time to put a little thought into making an effective presentation of yourself, don't expect the folk on the other end to spend even as much time on it as you, obviously, didn't commit.

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Doubting Thomas

Struggling through Thomas Frank's book "What's the Matter with Kansas ? How Conservatives won the Heart of America" on the changes in Kansas politics, induced by the radical right using social issues to move fok to the political right it was instructive to see how the results shook out in Missouri last night.

According to Frank's hypothesis, and I believe some of the intent of the Republican party in trying to get the issue of gay marriage as a constitutional issue onto the November ballot, conservative - read Republican - voters would be more compelled to go to the polls and vote for this - helping in the process the Republican vote. And the definition of marriage goes into the constitution with about 70% of the vote.

One also notes that in the current polls MO is inclined to vote for Bush.

But there were about 1.4 million folk who voted and about 800,000 of them were voting for Democratic candidates (based on the Governors race). There had been a suggestion that Republicans were being encouraged to vote Democratic and for the Governor since, as in California, he is apparently an unpopular figure and easier to defeat. Well either he is even more unpopular than reported or that didn't work, since he is now toast.

Which leads me to a couple of conclusions (being a political idiot) the first is that Frank is wrong (which allows me not to finish the book) and the second is that perhaps the Republicans might have a bigger problem in the state than they think.

Hmmm!

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Interesting Times

Since the Actress is at rehearsal this may be a little longer than usual.

Odd sort of a day, that began by getting to the office some five minutes after our visitors from Indiana. Then as we began our presentation we got into a discussion about how much money was left before we become toast. It turns out, after looking at what had been billed, and a couple of misunderstandings that encumbered salaries had been considered as spent. They therefore thought we were out of money with no more to come, but part of the work incomplete. After getting a number of printouts (though oddly unable to find the master spreadsheet) we were able to give reassurances that we had enough to get us through the end of the year, which meant we would provide the desired result. Which significantly changed the atmosphere though, thanks to the re-allocations of budget priorities in Indiana, we will not likely get any more funding in the near future for this particular program.

However there is a new line of funding opening and we were encouraged to at least send in a White Paper to see if we could stir up some interest if we had any radically new ideas. Thinking about it over lunch and this evening I do believe that we will likely do that, though whether it will get us funding remains to be seen.

I thus had spent the first part of the meeting trying to work out how I was going to make payroll for the folks being paid on this work, if in fact, our books were as badly off as projected. Turns out they weren't but it was a worrisome hour and a half. I still have that problem, but not now until the New Year, which gives some time for other sources to appear.

And in that line, the folk from Michigan called and they have finally started the paperwork to get that effort under way. And we have a small enquiry from a company in Belgium for whom we had done a fairly big project. They wonder if we have the capability to do the next phase. So another hasty meeting this afternoon, and off goes an e-mail saying yes and where should we meet ?

The problems of my colleague that dropped the hat seem more serious than initially apparent. He is definitely furious at our current numbers 1 and 2 and I think his current memos may hurt him more given the new change. Certainly after my experience yesterday we have few friends in those parts of this academic house.

Following on from which I get to give a command lecture next Tuesday, and am thinking about pointing it at the opportunity we are missing. Must think of that some more.

Chatted with the Advocate this evening, the cost of living in New York have finally led him to give up living alone for a while and so he will be sharing a larger apartment, and saving a fair bit over current rent. So he is packing. he is trying to get some research approved, but apparently paperwork is as bad there as here.

I also have to give a lecture at one of the local schools in the Fall about riding one of the Harry Potter trains to boarding school - its going to need some work since when I tried out some of the thoughts on a 6th grader today I obviously failed to connect, or to fully understand some of the book plots. Well I guess we'll just have to go back and read them again.

Thomas Frank is still a struggle to get through, and not very well written or argued but I am close enough to the end to want to get there. Given that the competition is "The Chernegor Pirates" book 2 of the Scepter of Mercy by Dan Chernenko, with a sea battle on the cover I fear that poor Thomas is going to have to wait another evening.

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Monday, August 02, 2004

Later

It turned out to be one of those senseless things, she and her Grandfather were walking down the drive to get the mail. He was killed immediately and she died a day later - just after her Dad, my former student, got to her bedside.

I went and saw the second individual at 4 pm but somehow my heart wasn't much in it. And her judgement was that what I was proposing was included in what she would be putting forward, since she had decided to wear the hat. Which is fine, though it will be interesting to see how she advances the concept.

The Indiana folk are here and we start at 8:30 am with the review.

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Sand Castles

Sort of struggling to get through the Thomas Frank book last night I came up with the gestation of another thunk. In the wee hours after 4 am it grew. the thought came that to the Actress I was lying, a transiently useless lump, while within my head miriads of mental minions built, grain by grain a towering edifice of sand. So did I pass the time from 4 am to 6, filling out, and building on this crazy idea. Leaving the house at 6:45 am the cold slap in the face from the morning did bring a dash of reality to the process.

But then after getting to work I reviewed what it was that had got my colleague to throw down the hat, and I thought it would be worth chasing a little further. So I sent off a little note, to run it by a couple of those who will decide and have now met with the first. The second is scheduled for 4 pm. And so far there has been no show stopper. The only thing, of course, is that it is stopping work on a couple of other efforts that could also give rise to funding. So where to go? Well given that it so far hasn't taken more than a couple of hours there is little . . .

The Administrator just came in and told me that the young daughter of one of my former grad students was killed by a drunk driver -

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Sunday, August 01, 2004

More time wasting

Well courtesy of the teaching assistant I did the little quiz on the type of elitist I am located here and found that I rated a

"You know which wines go best with which foods, and you can make New York City's finest sommalier feel like a kid at a keg party. You wanna take that Emeril guy and beat him with a stick, but really - you've got more class than that. What people love: You know the best restaurants and what their specialties are. What people hate: Every waiter in town wants to mangle your pretentious ass."

In light of which this week's wine was a Solobal Rioja Crianza 1997 - that's the Ha! bit, the fact that I don't know what the penultimate word means, proves that they got me wrong. (On the other hand I did once send back a malt whisky in Vegas when they brought me a Highland rather than an Islay).

We drove around this afternoon checking out the Magellan, which managed to get us to an address we thought was somewhere else (but wasn't) and then back home. The Actress is pleased.

Otherwise I spent a bit of time staring at my navel and trying to decide how to play this little bit of university politics, that probably has little meaning and less significance anywhere, including probably here.

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The Call from England

Three failures from this end, and then Mum called here, her phone is malfunctioning and can only send and not receive calls. As it happens Rigger was up saying hello the other day and made arrangements so that a new phone has been mailed to her and should be there later in the week. I started to write posted, but that has become so much of an e-mail term.

Much sharper today and we talked of inconsequential things. She still worries about money, but not as a serious problem. The lady across the hall is a decorated Marine officer, and this week they discovered they share the same dentist. The dentist is coming in the next few days to extract one of Mum's teeth and modify her denture. All in one day. Given the six month who-ha when I had an implant this sounds impressive. But then I don't have to worry about dealing with a plate, which she has for at least 40 years.

There is also a trip to some sort of show planned. It is a while away yet, but has stirred excitement. Her best friend (who is 93) was put in the hospital after falling this week, and in brushing her arm against the loo door Mum tore a 2-inch cut in her arm. Her skin has become so thin.

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