Heading Out

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

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Reassured - at least here

I just met one of our local election judges at the Supermarket and since the line was long we chatted about Tuesday. They are obviously well prepared for a much larger turn-out than usual, with special provisions to get potential problem folk out of the main line, so that it can keep moving. He also talked about the ways that they are going to ratify the vote, and I have to say that I am considerably reassured, at least for here. How it goes elsewhere is, of course, perhaps another story.

Another day of lecture notes and preparation for a couple of presentations (one in DC, one to a visiting wheel) are going to occupy my afternoon. I chatted with Hatless last night, and it might be useful to explain that he is a Department Chair working in the domain of the Duchess (who is a Dean). The reason it is perhaps necessary to explain the positions that they hold is that the Tsar is on his way out, the Duchess is a temporary holder of the position, and last night Hatless said he may not keep his position. Given that I have heard that at least one and maybe two of the other DC's in the Duchy are either retiring or moving on, it would appear we are going to be heading for some large changes in Administrators, with a number of potentially radical changes. And they say that only election year politics are interesting !

Oh, and I should explain that a Rabbit is an animal with a very small brain whose major interests in life center around the act of procreation (for those who did not get it).


Friday, October 29, 2004

Well I didn't mean that bad

I have just extolled, over on Jimbo's site the occasional benefits of being thought of as an absent-minded academic. However what happened today went way beyond that, alas. Having got up extremely early to drive to another city for a Society Board meeting I got to what I thought was the correct hotel in good time. But no meeting was posted, and so (having left the agenda on my desk) I thought a bit and realised that it was probably the hotel across the street. It was a Marriott and when I appeared flustered the manager appeared to see if he could help. When I explained the situation he not only checked there, but others in the chain in this city, and none had the meeting. So I called the group that runs our Society for us - ah! For some odd reason I had remembered the wrong city, they were a long way elsewhere. My only excuse is that they actually did not mention the name of the city, only that of the hotel in their note to remind me of the meeting, and being in a hurry and . . . . . .Rabbits!

So since I had a couple of critical items on the agenda I called to explain what I had proposed to say and tried to get an obviously highly irritated (and rightly so) executive to transmit my apologies and my requests for action to the Board. Not a good day. And so I think it is time to reconsider any plans to run for re-election and recognise that writing on the wall, blurred though it is.

Watching the news tonight I got the impression that Bush is starting to just go through the motions. He seems to have lost the conviction that he is going to win, and with it the energy that gives him. On the other hand (apart from a moment coming down the aeroplane steps) Kerry still seems uplifted and energetic.

I am somewhat bemused also by the attempts today, having seen the ABC video of the HMX, that people still seem to be making to explain that I really did not see what I did. Are we supposed to be idiots? On the other hand I did see part of the Sinclair show last Friday night (after eating at Burger King for two lunches) and did not think it too bad. Yet there seemed to be no comment when PBS ran "Rumsfelt's War" which had a strong political message even closer to the election - perhaps a little bit of a double standard.

Blogger did something to the original version of this and so I will use my newly touted absent-mindedness to justify having forgotten what it was that I originally closed with. Plus I changed from the blue pills to the pink ones yesterday and these seem to have odd side-effects. (It's all excuses).


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Halloween Party etc

Since I will be out of town at a meeting tomorrow we had our Party this afternoon. The Actress came (we provided some of the food and she brought it) and was the only person there in costume (one of the Stooges), which cheered up an initially bland afternoon. One of the students was remarking that all politicians are the same, and the evils of the Clinton years but it was interesting that no-one else in the room, and there were a fair number, did anything but let him finish his rant and then changed the subject.

Well we had our meeting and made our recommendation and it went very well given the rancor from a couple of the members ahead of time (the debate about who holds the dossiers). In fact, apart from the fact that I miscopied the data onto the white board, it could not have gone smoother. It was pointedly mentioned by the Dauphin that one of the candidates was almost poached last year, so I sent him the invitation that I received earlier this month for the position elsewhere (to make the point that at this level they are not that uncommon). (I also did not tell him that concurrently I was sending a letter withdrawing my name since, as I put it "I am too near the end"). In reality I do not have the energy to build another effort for five years somewhere else, especially since, depending how in love I fall with my new toy, I may be heading out in the non-too-distant future to do the "rest of my life" scenario.

Our meeting on the other position will be at 7:30 on Monday morning and then we have candidates for the Duchess's position coming in starting next week. I worry about some of the candidates that we have ended up with, but also realize that it might not be that much of my problem, but then with a new Tsar as well who can tell? I think I may stick around just a little longer to see how it will play out - or is that really an excuse to myself ?


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

'Cos it's October

New Kid has some good advice - I hadn't noticed it was so common, but it is.


Guessing wrong

Well that will teach me to be foolish. Wandered into the Admin meeting, which was remarkably full today, and were talking about my little bout of optimism. Turns out it was totally unfounded because I had asked that no-one call one of our funding agencies unless we had some good news about progress. I had not heard the results so when I heard the call had been made I assumed it meant that something went right. No, the call was made because it went totally wrong, and it was made to the wrong person. How do you politely tell a person that they are a Rabbit when it would likely be more useful to stand on the desk and scream (I actually did that once - the problem was that the guy I did it to was an ex-Marine Drill Instructor and he just about fell out of his chair laughing).

Ah well, our visitor came on the Ohio project, and seemed more excited than I would have thought, though we only got an hour of time. But there was some reassurance that we were on the right path, and we will get some additional support that I hadn't expected. When I came in this morning I promised I would do one thing on the Administrators list, but I forgot about the review meeting tomorrow and the need to write some more lecture notes. And with little questions popping up at regular intervals by phone she couldn't keep my nose properly to the grindstone so that (while I will get the chance to buy another case of wine) by the time I came home even the notes weren't finished. So I have two reports to review tonight so that I can include that tomorrow also in the notes and presentation. And I need to correct next semesters syllabus, and the Card's aren't doing too well.

Just been one of those days. . . . . . . .


Monday, October 25, 2004

After England

Yesterday Mum was still reflecting on what turned into more of a social week than usual. To make up for missing the Old Time Music Hall up at Stanley, one of the caregivers took Mum in her own car to the Metro Center for lunch and a day out. Then the Traveller dropped by and took her out again over the weekend. She was much perkier and chatty as a result, though we really had no great news to exchange.

Spent the rest of the night preparing lecture notes, which included, apropos the previous post, a comment on the sensitivity of the explosive therein cited, as a legitimate part of the class. Actually it also crossed my mind that the logical use of that particular explosive is likely to be in the petroleum industy for perforation charges, though that wanders down a path we need not tread.

Well full of good intentions I wandered in this morning intending to finish the review for D.C. of that proposal, but what with one thing and another it did not get done until the doors were closed and the lights in the corridor switched off. Between not being able to even see a disk on the Mac with some TIF images that I needed for class (and which took half an hour to resolve - it was to do with the way they were saved) and the need to read the dossiers before the review meeting on Wednesday the day went by as though it did not exist.

But, but, but . . . I heard from the Development office and they auctioned off that piece that I hastily finished and gave them the other day, it fetched $500. I am sort of very pleasantly surprised, but wonder if I really ought to keep the other one we made. And Purchasing found the bids and I got to sign the order for my new toys. More than a hair higher in cost than I had expected but we can worry about that tomorrow. 8 weeks delivery, which means I get to go to Minneapolis in January for a week of training - whoopee!!

And so home to blog, and doze in front of the news - but I forgot about the dinner - and so with but the veriest rest to untangle the Actress's necklaces we put on our garb and off we went, the speeches were a bit long, and we were sat next to a local political candidate, that the organizers surely did not know we had just dropped a donation on, but it made for a pleasant dinner (though she barely ate and then fled to another event).

And now to bed and to worry about an odd conclusion that one can draw from an e-mail I got today, which might lead to a much more positive Admin meeting tomorrow morning, but may be just a little fooling myself with tenuous hope.


Missing Explosive

Corrente has explained why the particular explosive that was left unguarded in Iraq is such a big deal, so that I don't have to. In fact the comment that it was left so that it could be used for civilian mining purposes is a bit unlikely. The point that is made is that HMX is a very brissant explosive and very powerful so that it tends to shatter the container and make many dangerous fragments, rather than generating a lot of gas, such as is useful in mining where explosive such as ANFO will move the rock and break it into larger handleable sized pieces.

HMX is not that useful in mining by itself since it is too powerful and produces rock pieces that are too small, but it can be used in relatively small quantities as a booster. It is also much more expensive that most other explosives and thus is not that easy I would have thought to find other than in the military black market. Thus to leave it where it can be easily picked up by terrorists does come close to what might be called criminal negligence, However he did get the velocities wrong, they are in meters/sec not miles. (Not that you would really be able to tell the difference if you were being up close and personal).


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Weak Excuse

It is a beautiful fall day, but lecture notes call and so off I trot (after obediently raking leaves in part of the yard). Get to the office - no keys. Must be a sign, so I drive by the bookstore and pick up the odd volume and head home.

Guilt arises, and so I rake the whole of the front yard, (which did not show by this time any of our activity from the earlier treatment) then aided and abetted by Elizabeth Moon, rested, spending the afternoon finishing "Marque and Reprisal." This is a good series and I just hope she hurries with the next one. (She is one of about eight writers that I buy in hardback 'cos I'm a self-indulgent old ferret). Then a quick trip out for dinner since we must be back for THE GAME. So while I sit up here blogging the Actress is practicing flute and now occasionally screaming downstairs with the set on low. (I keep wondering what the neighbor - a writer for the local paper - must think we are doing). Hmmm it isn't sounding good.

I had a list with twelve things on it - an abstract, a paper review (from China, egads!) a proposal review for them folks in D.C.; lecture notes, etc etc, but the weather won out. And the nice thing about our age is that I can do the most critical things tomorrow on our table here - just needing to patch in the odd picture on Monday - to get the lecture notes done. But there is that proposal . . . .oh, Rabbits! And you can't tell that the yard had been touched.

Found an interesting site tonight by Contrapositive, and will likely print it out and stick it on the wall, giving a Cheat sheet for election night. Gives a lot of insight in what to look for.


Friday, October 22, 2004

I want my toys

Well if nothing else last night surely demonstrated that Texas should not take Missouri for granted. And I still had to get up early today to go into a set of meetings that ran until about 2 pm. And sadly could not get by with an excuse, in fact I sent Szlachta home and gave his talk for him this afternoon, since he clearly has the flu.

We finally got the Indiana group to agree on what will be done, and then talked to Michigan who are getting more carried away with what they want and make it doubly frustrating that I can't go down and work on this myself - ah to be a grad student again. Home for a quick nap and then out at friends for beer. Must have had too much since I can remember watching wood splitting and pontificating about how the shape of the ax was wrong - must learn not to do that.

Came home and watched "Bush's Brain" thinking it would be an easily assimilable version of the book (which I haven't read) it seemed more to be a response to Karl Rove's letter in complaint of the book. But by this time, and after so many blogs, not that much new any longer.

Wonder if Bush really is going to Iraq this weekend? And will that really be the October surprise that pushes him over, the polls seem to be heading his way a bit more today and I couldn't see why.

We were supposed to get the bids for my new toys earlier this week, and they did not show. So Purchasing was called and claimed to have sent them inadvertently to a totally different office. Turns out the person who nominally would then get them there has been sick for the last three days and the papers were not on her desk. So where are they? They think they have a copy that I might be able to see Monday - is this a joke ?


Thursday, October 21, 2004

We're Allowed

We stopped going to ball games when the Cards changed pitchers every inning of the game we were at. And we don't live there. So why are we sat here with the Actress making the odd screaming sound?

What election? What classes (sorry Mel )? 'Scuse me, I just went deaf, its the bottom of the sixth and you should know why!!! I think I'm on a losing bet trying to blog against this.

Otherwise today was odd, the visitor on the Ohio project did not come, so I worked the list to rank research productivity on campus, (and saw that I am slowly inching down the list) before sending it on to the Dauphin and the Duchess to keep them amused. Our Indiana project guy called and e-mailed about three times, but given that the three of us were somewhat ill we probably managed one sane mind between us. (We were me, the Specialist and he I shall call the Szlachta ). We had to twice revise the budget and statement of work for this coming year, at the same time as I was writing the presentation for the following year. And both got out - the first on up the ladder at our funding source, the second for evaluation elsewhere.

I finally got the presentation off to Washington, it was delayed by having to talk to undergrad students about research opportunities last night, I tried to be a little amusing but not sure, given the health and some comments, that I succceeded.
I guess the flu shots, which are totally unavailable around here according to the note at the doc's office earlier in the week, will now be too late in any event.

Ah ! The Actress's old piano teacher is still at the Cardinal organ, guess I'd better quit! It might even call for a drink!


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Academic Courtesy

In the meeting this morning I brought up the fact that not that many folk were able or willing to meet our candidates last week, and the discourtesy of interviewing one of the candidates for the Duchess's job in the week that faculty in the discipline the candidate is from will be gone to a meeting. The lack of courtesy shows up in the fact that conventionally at this level the appointee will be granted tenure in the given discipline, even though they will rarely show up there. So it is common to have the candidate sort of meet with the group so that they can do the decent thing and vote tenure should the candidate be selected. But this time someone set a schedule, and now no-one will back down, and it is really quite sad.

We still haven't decided what we are going to do about the other position, and now it appears we will not be meeting, but making decisions by e-mail. I don't think its good, and I don't think the reason that we can't meet is that we're all taking two weeks off to canvass for our Candidate of Choice. Speaking of which it was rather nice to get a letter from one of the candidates that atrios supports saying thanks without ostentatiously asking for more money. I got a very heavy hint for more from the one candidate on the other side in a different race that I sent a small donation to.

The conclusion on the ENT is that it's probably sinus, which is what I thought before all those tubes made their merry way, but the cure may cause interesting side effects, and so I get to try three different drugs in consecutive weeks - wheee.

But there is still that White Paper and tomorrow's lecture notes, and the night is still young, 'tis only I that am not.


Monday, October 18, 2004

England and After

Yesterday Mum was back listening to the "Antiques Road Show" again. The Nurse had called and the Traveller will be up next weekend so she will be able to get out. One of the caregivers is also planning to get her out for a lunch, so things seem to be picking up - even though the rain is more persistent this year.

Listening to the music last night I suddenly realized how to solve a problem that was blocking one possible solution to the Michigan work. Carefully, and quietly, drew it on the program. The Actress did not come since she had been out Friday night, Saturday night and was going out again tonight. So in the intermission I chatted to the two old friends who have the adjacent seats. He retired two years ago and she is my age. They used to give many parties, but now they talk of entertaining only at restaurants, and after many talks of what they would do here when retired, they now talk of moving to be near their kids (who are providing grandkids at a steady pace). They are also travelling a lot and so we must find a date for dinner. It did make me think.

Almost no-one was at the office today, colds and flu or some such has struck, which is awkward given all we have to do and visitors due. But the quiet meant that I could work on class stuff, and then go and teach. I am using some of a book I wrote as a basis for the accompanying lecture notes, but all the illustrations were saved as PICTs. So a part of the day was spent with Photoshop resaving all 115 illustrations in this chapter as JPG's. But I added a bit as well to update it so there was some progress.

So tonight was another concert and so we went there by separate cars, which allowed me to fix myself dinner since the Actress had to be there early. Chicken pie, not elegant, but filling. And then fruit. I go to see the ENT lady on the morrow, right after an Admin meeting (good excuse to leave early). We might discuss our problem with the interviewees from last week, but otherwise the Committee is going to have to get together and face some reality (oops I said a political naughty word!)

I squeezed time for Simon Brown's trilogy "Inheritance", "Fire and Sword" and "Sovereign" into the last week - but was a little disappointed with the second half. Somehow I got the feeling that these are a set-up for a following offering that will be set a couple of hundred years into the future. We shall see.


Sunday, October 17, 2004

The measure of a life

Browsing around came to this list at Frogs and Ravens I thought it would give me a good excuse to learn how to change fonts. So here is the list - I think I counted 92 done, but some I dont't think I have a great urge for. Wonder where it started ? Bold are done.

1. Bought everyone in the pub a drink (but it wasn't that full)
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain (very small one)
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said "I love you" and meant it
9. Hugged a tree
10. Done a striptease
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (It was, I wasn't)
14. Stayed up all night long, and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten my own vegetables
19. Touched an iceberg
20. Slept under the stars
21. Changed a baby's diaper
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
23. Watched a meteor shower
24. Gotten drunk on champagne
25. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
28. Had a food fight
29. Bet on a winning horse
30. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
31. Asked out a stranger(The Actress)
32. Had a snowball fight
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favorite fantasy
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip Does a daylight skinny dip count?
38. Taken an ice cold bath (English Boarding Schools did that)
39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
40. Seen a total eclipse
41. Rode on a roller coaster
42. Hit a home run
43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
48. Had two hard drives for your computer
49. Visited all 50 states
50. Loved your job for all accounts
51. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
53. Had amazing friends
54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
55. Watched wild whales
56. Stolen a sign
57. Backpacked in Europe
58. Taken a road-trip
59. Rock climbing
60. Lied to foreign government's official in that country to avoid notice
61. Midnight walk on the beach
62. Sky diving
63. Visited Ireland
64. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
66. Visited Japan
67. Benchpressed your own weight
68. Milked a cow
69. Alphabetized your records
70. Pretended to be a superhero
71. Sung karaoke
72. Lounged around in bed all day
73. Posed nude in front of strangers
74. Scuba diving
75. Got it on to “Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye
76. Kissed in the rain
77. Played in the mud
78. Played in the rain
79. Gone to a drive-in theater
80. Done something you should regret, but don't regret it
81. Visited the Great Wall of China
82. Discovered that someone who's not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog
83. Dropped Windows in favor of something better
84. Started a business
85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
86. Toured ancient sites
87. Taken a martial arts class
88. Swordfought for the honor of a woman
89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
90. Gotten married
91. Been in a movie
92. Crashed a party
93. Loved someone you shouldn't have
94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy
95. Gotten divorced
96. Had sex at the office
97. Gone without food for 5 days
98. Made cookies from scratch
99. Won first prize in a costume contest
100. Rode a gondola in Venice
101. Gotten a tattoo
102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on
103. Rafted the Snake River
104. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
105. Got flowers for no reason
106. Masturbated in a public place
107. Got so drunk you don't remember anything
108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug
109. Performed on stage
110. Been to Las Vegas
111. Recorded music
112. Eaten shark
113. Had a one-night stand
114. Gone to Thailand
115. Seen Siouxsie live
116. Bought a house
117. Been in a combat zone
118. Buried one/both of your parents
119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off I do NOT recommend this.
120. Been on a cruise ship
121. Spoken more than one language fluently
122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
123. Bounced a check
124. Performed in Rocky Horror
125. Read - and understood - your credit report
126. Raised children
127. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
129. Created and named your own constellation of stars
130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
132. Called or written your Congress person
133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
134. ...more than once? - More than thrice?
135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
137. Had an abortion or your female partner did
138. Had plastic surgery
139. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
140. Wrote articles for a large publication.
141. Lost over 100 pounds
142. Held someone while they were having a flashback
143. Piloted an airplane
144. Petted a stingray
145. Broken someone's heart
146. Helped an animal give birth
147. Been fired or laid off from a job .
148. Won money on a T.V. game show
149. Broken a bone
150. Killed a human being
151. Gone on an African photo safari
152. Rode on a motorcycle
153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
157. Rode a horse
158. Had major surgery
159. Had sex on a moving train
160. Had a snake as a pet
161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
164. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
165. Visited all 7 continents
166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
167. Eaten kangaroo meat
168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground
169. Been a sperm or egg donor
170. Eaten sushi
171. Had your picture in the newspaper
172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime
173. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
174. Gotten someone fired for their actions
175. Gone back to school
176. Parasailed
177. Changed your name
178. Petted a cockroach
179. Eaten fried green tomatoes
180. Read The Iliad
181. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school,
182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them
183. ...and gotten 86'ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you
184. Taught yourself an art from scratch!
185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
186. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
187. Skipped all your school reunions
188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
189. Been elected to public office
190. Written your own computer language
191. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
193. Built your own PC from parts
194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
195. Had a booth at a street fair
196. Dyed your hair
197. Been a DJ
198. Found out someone was going to dump you via Blogger
199. Written your own role playing game
200. Been arrested


Saturday, October 16, 2004

A Long Lunch

The big question before going to the DAR lunch was whether to take a projector and the laptop or just talk with some small objects. So I dithered and then prepared both. When I got there it was a fairly small room and no screen, so I was just about to go with the verbal version when the Regent (?) said "Oops, we forgot your screen." And so I had to head back to the car and haul in the two bags. It was a small crowd (the Actress had three times the number when she spoke) and very little chat over the meal (they were all talking about Native American heritage, and how many of them had some - a theme I gleefully pinched for a bit of the talk). But they were kind enough to ask a lot of questions so that the discussion was twice the length of the talk.

So now, still high on adrenalin, I have to grade and write a lecture - ho, hum, and it's such a lovely day out.


Not infallible

One of my colleagues brought his graduate class through the lab yesterday and as we were showing off all the neat things we do, we passed over a large mess. And so I had to confess a sad lack in infallibility.

We had been asked by a neighboring University for help with one of the student projects. It seemed to be a relatively simple project and so rather than go into a theoretical design I suggested that they come down and use our toys to try some ideas. Well it turns out that I was proved quite wrong in front of all our folk, their students, two of their faculty and the odd additional observer. And I learned a fair bit about trees that I didn't know before. That is the blessing/curse of science that, if you have an opinion on something, in many cases you can go and do the experiment and it either works or it doesn't. And alas, if a large proportion of them worked then I would have become rich and retired young, and I'm not. Which is a philosophical way of saying "Oh, Rabbits!"

Today I get to give a lunch talk to the local DAR chapter, and should be working on my remarks. I am going to give a modified version of my usual talk to visiting school classes, one of which I gave last Wednesday. Though I enjoy them, the problem is that the Enrollment folk want to keep me doing it and it takes time I don't have. Though this one was interesting since I was explaining about the pre-Roman calendar in Europe and one of the kids got it before I reached that point. He was the first one in about 20 years and it was quite cool. (And so I'll go and do another next week).

Back to the Theater tonight, and tomorrow night, so I guess I should come back after lunch and do Monday's lecture.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Rust or the coming of Fall

The last week has, alas, been a confirmation of age as the rain has brought Arthur more prominently to knees, one hip and the other odd joint. It is an affliction that I and the Administrator unwillingly share, and collectively moan about in sad chorus.

Though there are many topics one could blog about, Nightline tonight went back to where John Kerry won his Silver Star and found that what was written was, in fact, true as atested by the other side who were also there. I am trying only partially successfully to take profgrrrl's advice and watch a video (Master and Commander) while tonight's wine is a 1998 Domain Capion Le Juge from L'Herault and is quite good. (In case you wonder I had a good consulting job back then and stuck a case of wine under the stairs). Our candidate from Monday withdrew and the candidate today will likely also. This was the second interviewee that the Administration chose not to visit with. This is not good. (Next Tuesday's meeting might be interesting), and there is a quiet row going on about the candidates for the Duchess' job. Life, in other words, is currently politically fascinating - even at our local level.

But a curious question. The phone rang tonight and the Actress said "Oh, that will be the Advocate " and it was. Mum was very good at being able to do that, and I have inherited that sort of sense. Is it really common or is it that we are able to apply an unrecognized logic to make the determination ? (No it's not infallible).


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Neither Catholic nor Christian

In regard to the recent comments by some Catholic Prelates I am reminded of a small couple of anecdotes.

While a young lad in school in the UK we were asked by our Divinity teacher to find the new Commandment that Christ asked his followers to accept. As an incentive the teacher promised that the first to find the answer would receive a boost in grade of one level for the term. Being then, as now, a highly curious individual I spent the following Chemistry and Math classes at the back of the room rapidly searching the Bible. And as most of you are likely aware I found the answer at John 13:34 "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another . . . " It has always struck me as the true defining feature of a Christian.

Thus when, as an undergraduate, I went to a televised transmission of a Billy Graham Crusade in the week that Jayne Mansfield (the English answer to Marilyn Monroe) had been killed in a rather bloody car accident (she was as I recall beheaded) I applied that criterion to Mr Graham's subsequent comments and adjudged that they did not fit the definition. And so as he continued to talk about signs I looked up and saw one - it said "Exit" and so I did.

I have the same conclusion about the comments of a fair number of folk that claim the mantle of being Christian, and then open their mouths and prove they are not. Sadly, but in keeping with historical tradition, this also includes such folk as some of the Princes of the Catholic Church at present, and am left reflecting that they, being wealthy in the power and respect that they hold, are also likely in time to run afoul of Mark 10:25 "It is simpler for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a man of wealth to come into the Kingdom of God."

Oh I got a B in Divinity that term (which tells how poor a scholar I was for most of the time).


Monday, October 11, 2004

England and After

The weather in the northern UK was lousy and "The Antique's Road Show" had reclaimed its time spot. Mum sounded a little tired, and had been disappointed in that when she went to go on the outing to the Review the electric lift for the wheelchairs had failed on the van and so she was left behind. The Traveller will be up next weekend and the Nurse is going over to be there for a couple of days around Dec 2, so she will have company.

Dinner last night with another candidate. He is one of those strong managerial types who have a crushing handshake. However since I have slight arthritis (Arthur we shall call it) in various joints including a joint in my little finger, this can be quite a painful exchange. So he lost points for that. But gained a lot since he had spent a fair amount of time on our web sites and had a lot of intelligent questions. It was surprising how few of the Admin came to the meals, their only chance to meet a potential key player - its either arrogance or more probably, like me, just too many darned things.

Such it was today, I lost all sorts of points since it was the Administrators 50th Birthday and I had sent three of the staff out of town before the Actress told me she had arranged a lunch (and then I had to have lunch with the candidate since all the others who should have been there weren't). Perhaps that's why things have been a little, shall we say fractious, around here the last couple of days, hmm! (Yes, I can be a bit of an idiot).

Well the Duchess made the cut, and now faces three outside candidates. She has cut me dead twice in the last couple of days, so I must have sinned somewhere else unknowingly - ah, well. Hatless didn't like the selections and has written another "I'm upset" memo, and it seems to work for him. Funny old world.

Um! A few blogs ago I made a calculation based on a starting salary of $50k and there were a couple of comments that this was perhaps high in some disciplines, so I went and looked today and for here it actually isn't, pretty much across the board. (There were a couple at $45k and that was about the lowest I found).


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Image from Youth

Frogs and Ravens discusses how she imagines she will look at the other end of her career. Hee! Well from one of those who is . . . . Remember this was back before the days of trimness, and fitness when I got the image of being a Pickwick. The sort of avuncular image was quite appealing, with the vague absent-mindedness and the slightly disarrayed garb.

So, as they say, here I are. Not quite that stout, wearing multifocal rather than thin reading glasses (though I had a set once) and somewhat crumpled, and definitely absent-minded. More aloof than I would have liked to be and perhaps not as kindly as my early image of myself. Oh, and a little more hair than the good gentleman.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

Time is a wasting

For the past couple of weeks I have been busy at night, and so not been able to catch up on all that needs to be done every day. I obviously ought to make a list (the Administrator tries to keep one for me but it only works if she knows what has to be done) but there are so many constant little fires during a day that the list would only be longer at the end of the day than the beginning and it would be depressing (I know since that is sort of what happens).

So now the weekend becomes the spare time to catch up, but there is a theater event tonight and another candidate comes in for dinner tomorrow night. So here we are back in the office with two lectures and a White Paper to write.

The new request for a White Paper came in a phone call yesterday, a day otherwise quite good for the old morale. Apart from that request it was also suggested that I apply for a Distinguished Chair somewhere else, and I was, separately, put into a group that will be meeting in Washington immediately following the election.

So instead of working on all that writing, I am sitting blogging merrily away and trying to decide if I really want to consider moving, and if not what, if anything, should I try and do to use this to puff my chest here a bit. The cost of living isn't that different between the two places, but if I retired from here the improved financials would be significant. On the other hand do I really want to almost start over ? Probably not, and the Actress would probably be upset. Ah, decisions, decisions. Almost as hard as deciding who won last night's debate.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Oil be back

Sorry about that (the pun that is), but it's another one of those days. I had forgotten that the new carpet is being laid tomorrow so have spent the evening moving furniture (they don't "do" TV's and one of our indulgences is a big screen and surround sound - but one of the older huge box ones). Judy Collins has been singing nostalgic songs from an earlier period of dissent, though the iMac as I moved. Today was also benefit day for the local medical community as I visited the dentist and optician - the chiropractor comes next, and then the ENT exam. But maybe I should wait for the chiropractor until after tomorrow night when I get to move everything back (including all the videotapes) - hope I can get it done before the debate.

I have seen that when the current increase in oil prices began the Saudi's promised to increase production by 1.5 million barrels a day to get prices under control. This has now dropped to a promise of only 0.5 million barrels and isn't apparently of major use since there isn't the refinery production to handle their particular version of crude. This is, of course, one of the problems of trying to gear up an industry which has not had any encouragement to invest in new capacity for a while. There are not enough drilling rigs, refineries, tankers or other facilities to be instantly switched on as the need grows, and increases in those investments will be hard to justify if we are as close to Hubbert's Peak as it would appear. (If it takes 4-years to build a new refinery and world production will peak in two ????). This may have some impact immediately after the election when heating oil and gas become more critical issues over the winter. And bear in mind that if demand is growing at 3% a year then next year the issue will be even more prominent. Now how do we suggest to students that there are opportunities in the energy production field ? And how do we get them to believe that it will be one of the more lucrative fields over the next decade ?

Development came for a piece for the auction today. Earlier I had noted that they didn't like my first suggestion and asked that I make something else. However since the owner of the original something else didn't want anything like it to be made (even if this was going to be in another form) I had thought the issue gone. But back they came today now desperate for "anything" - so I had to slip a coat over my white shirt, tie, slacks and dress shoes and "finish" the chosen item. The Administrator thought I was a fool, and probably she was right, but you never know when one of these things will catch someone's eye and then . . .

We still have serious problems with not enough students for the current work, and were asked about undertaking more today. And there is the Annual report for Indiana due, and a couple more White papers to prepare. But when the Mac's first came out there was this neat sort of science fiction advert which showed a faculty member calling a friend in another University and getting them to guest lecture via computer. I sort of did a step towards that yesterday using the Kaiser, though he had gone to bed when I gave the lecture and so I could only use his slides and video, but in return he gets one of my lectures with sound on the powerpoint - and so we get closer. Had he a Mac we could even do the live conferencing - I must see if he can find one, though they are a lot more expensive in Germany.


Not paying attention

Hmm! I had some problems with blogger on Sunday night, that weren't cleared up by Monday and so I thought I posted the comment down 2 for the first time. Turns out the problem was more complex, and am still trying to delete the multiple copies.

For those wishing to waste (as I will) the odd moment you might want to play The wine game.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

If politics wasn't so addictive

Back in June I predicted that about now I would be able to finally sit back and catch my breath for about a month before the holiday season began. I'm old enough that I should have known better.

After getting back into town, Friday was just spent catching up, with too many decisions being demanded and no energy to do them. And so I watched the debate during lunch and chased blog comments. Saturday was getting back up to speed on lectures and stuff, and then Sunday was a dinner for a visiting candidate.

Monday night a past grad student took us out to dinner, last night when I thought we would be sitting watching the debate was a concert, so I ended up watching parts of the debate on tape after Nightline. And so I spent too much time today trying to catch other folks opinions. Which given the class, meetings and interaction with one of the folk from Michigan (while I intermittently watched a test we were doing for him go interestingly wrong) meant that at the end of the day I couldn't think of much productive activity that I have done since I came back.

I think it is all George Bush's fault. Four years ago it was hard to decide who to vote for and it didn't seem to matter since both talked fairly close to the center. Hmm! Well we certainly guessed that one wrong. Normally folk would be really tired of the whole thing by this stage in the contest - but not this year. There is true anxiety in lots of minds (including a lot of folk driving round here with yellow ribbons on their vehicles for Supporting the Troops) that something has to change. And so we read the proverbial tea-leaves from the various pundits (though I don't completely understand where Jimbo gets all his numbers from) with some form of dread fascination and trepidation.

To continue the comments on garb, I carefully counted at todays Admin meeting and of the 32 males out of 56 folk at the meeting, 24 wore ties and all but three ( that included me) also had on jackets - almost all suits. But since it is now getting colder (and in response to the discussion at 11D I will be moving my own clothes between closets this weekend - next weekend I get to sweep the chimney) the more formal attire may be a little response to the weather though I also think it reflects a bit on the tone that the Tsar tried to impart.

In other news the candidates coming to campus for the position that the Duchess now holds will be announced within the week. It wil be interesting to see if she made the cut.

Well I've skivved enough, it's time to go back to lecture notes, and the little iSight that helps put sound to Powerpoint.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

England's Call

There are some changes going on in the Nursing Home with a couple of retirements, and the person in charge has now acquired an assistant. On the other hand the number of staff is down, and so Mum can't get out as much as in the past. So now she is scheming to get out for lunch. It entails asking to go the shops to buy necessities just before lunch and then inveigling the care person into having lunch with her, while they are out. She'll probably pull it off. She also doesn't like their brand of gin and so has gone back to the glass of white wine.

It finally clicked for the Actress to ask today why I was keeping a blood pressure monitor in the office, so I made euphemistic noises.

And tonight four of us took a candidate out to dinner - all that remained wore ties, and all but one (the Dauphin) jackets. I am now more curious about attire than when I made the comment the other day, since at the Conference I noted that less than 20% of the folk there wore ties - though of course this was Vegas, but then I was only counting in the sessions I attended (and where I carefully registed electronically to get my points). (The latter is sort of meant to be a comment on our Pavlovian behavior since I am now so close to the end that these are totally meaningless). One of the Search Committee showed up in a flannel shirt and no tie, and then made an excuse to leave before dinner. The candidate seemed to be well suited for the job and on top of the brief - well two more to go and we will know.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

Weather Effects

There was a time when I worked with a guy in South Dakota, and he was part of an effort to rename it North Florida in order to encourage business. The tables appear to have been turned, in a cartoon to be seen at The Moderate Voice.

Though Tom Engelhardt provides a more serious thought on why it might be happening, and a concern that is not getting that much attention.


Friday, October 01, 2004

While I was gone

A small comment on earthquakes. I had noted that there was a quiescent stretch of the California earthquake line just north of Santa Barbara and that it was due for a larger quake. I glanced at the Recent Quake Page and see that they had a relatively significant one to bring all back in balance, or at least closer.

Speaking of earthquakes, the rumor is that the Dauphin is also running for the Tsar's crown along with a couple of other internal candidates I would not have anticipated - this could get interesting, and bloody.


Missing the Debate

A week in Sin City, a lot more expensive than the last time I was there, but still behind in technology. The Amerisuites hotel required $0.50/minute in the business office to get you connected (hence no blogging) and the 20 Conference machines had a permanent waiting line of at least 3. Otherwise in a week where oil finally popped over $50 (so I can now take my sign down - 2 months early) the meeting went well. I watched a recruiter try and talk all the students in our booth into applying for jobs and companies were taking faculty to the Celine Dion Concert where the cheapest tickets were $175 - though I only found out about it afterwards. I contented myself with having one good dinner, though it got me into a discussion with the chef at Aquaknox about malt whiskies and why you couldn't really have a Glen whisky from Isla. (Hopefully they might now get one or two of the Island Whiskies).

What a snide comment on all these years in academia that it is one of the more memorable achievements of the week. Well the reason for the dinner was an e-mail that said that the Belgian contract was signed. So with all this success I come back to the reality of getting it all coordinated and without the brain or inclination to do it today. Due to the thoughtlessness of a colleague two students were left for me to pick up and take home from the airport - sigh - yup it was the one that got the concert ticket who left them. Thus not only did I miss the debate being on the plane, but did not get to bed until the wee hours. (Which has a second meaning for us old ferrets).

So I spent lunch watching the debate courtesy of the video feed from the NYT. This didn't allow pictures of any of the grimaces reported in the news, and with the tiny picture it was not much better than radio. So I did not get the great sense that Bush lost in the way that others have been commenting around the building and that the Actress commented first thing this morning. (And again when she stopped by to pick up my blood pressure cuff - which she now also want to use- from the office where I had been hiding it for the last couple of years). I thought that while Bush was repetitive it could have been spun out and didn't anticipate the much greater sense that he had lost that is evident from the comments in most places tonight.

For fun tonight's wine is a 2001 Central Coast Pinot - from Rex Goliath (the 47 lb Rooster) - better than it sounded, and better than the wine I had at the Fleur de Lys.

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