Heading Out

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

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Here we are back again

And the semester has begun. And suddenly all those free moments that existed over summer are filled with the committee meetings that go with the beginning of the semester. And we live with the procrastination of others. We are off to make another big presentation next week, and instead of me scribbling a Powerpoint in the evening hours before hand (seemed to work well in two meetings last week), we are going to have a 3-hour meeting to discuss our presentation next Monday. Don't these folk have anything else better to do. Not to mention we leave Tuesday so the time to prepare new material is almost non-existant.

The class schedule is still taking some working out, given some conflicts, but hopefully will be taken care of tomorrow. And lo, already this semester, the executed head of a Dept Head has rolled down the hall. And the new Tsar does not appear until next week. I am looking at three proposals that I was supposed to write in the past week, and realizing that the two days set aside for a final report draft included today and tomorrow where all my time has been consumed in meetings and such. Looks as though the weekend has been booked.

It was interesting today to give a presentation on Peak Oil to a group that included some of the upper echelons of the campus. One got the feeling that they thought this was just a ploy for us to get more money, despite the facts facing them from the gas stations around campus. I suspect I will see some form of rebuttal from a couple of colleagues afore long.

The Conference ended well, I caught our hospitalized colleague back in the hall, and snatching a snort from a bottle in his bag during lunch - but other than that he was well behaved and left early. I think I got invited to lecture in China, the question is do I really want to go. (One does not say No! one just obfusticates until it becomes clear that one is not going - so I have to decide whether I want to - since, again, they are willing to pay).

One of the side benefits of helping write TOD is that I am buying and reading a fair number of books on the subject - pity that most of them really don't contain much new information, just the same stuff repackaged. I am also getting a bit grumpy tonight since I just got The Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper by Sequentia, and it is more song than harp, and only a couple of the tracks are likely to be played again.

I wonder if they were telling me something when the new security system locked me out, and had completely scrambled my codes, and only my codes while I was away. Wonder how long before I can get back into a routine, which now must, perforce, include the stationary bike and other exercises to keep my day largely discomfort free. Lots of wonders, no free time, yep the semester is here again.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Oh, my aching back, or the joys of Co-Chairing at a Conference

So here we are, desperately trying to find seats for those wanting to get into the morning session, while the organizers dash off to print another two dozen sets of notes on the papers. And we succeed, and it's lunch-time and there is a chance for a few minutes breather, and the hotel liaison comes over. As co-chair would I mind coming and helping with one of the conferees, who has passed out in the bar and banged his head, and who is being taken off to hospital by the paramedics. (This is lunch). So I go and we do the "what is your name," "what is the day" (in French) and he seems not to be concussed, but off they take him, in brace and stretcher to a local hospital.

So I return for my own lunch - and get asked to talk to one of the session chairs of the afternoon. Their team (due to set up a booth this afternoon) are stranded in Denver, can I chair his session, while he builds the booth alone. (I grab a passing grad student I had brought and we give partial assistance until I have to go get the afternoon rolling). We have to rewrite the paper the other grad student is giving (don't ask). The session this morning was 20 minutes late after the first speaker, and after we had re-arranged all the rest of the day to handle this, the last speaker of the morning gave what was planned to be an hour review in 20 minutes. (Which got the hotels staff mad because we had asked them to put lunch back, and there everyone was grousing that they were late). One of the afternoon sessions ran out of oomph an hour early, and this was the one I had to go back into and chair and bring back to enthusiasm.

Catch a breath for ten minutes and down to the exhibition hall, where I was going to rest and chat at the booth we had, for the first time. agreed to put on. Three and a half hours later I realize we should have done this years ago, since we were so busy, but it is amusing that - from the other side - one can see those who consider themselves the Conference Royalty. Yes, a different perspective.

The company paying for the hosting rights must be having a very good year, the drinks of wine were water glasses that were comfortably filled. Ah, only two more days and then home. Somewhere I should have kept notes on all those folk I promised to talk to in the next two days - but I did not. So all I have left to do is review the papers for the session I have to chair in the morning . . . . .zzzzzzzz!


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Technology has an immeasurable impact

So there we were. chatting via iChat with the Engineer, in full video and no longer thinking much of it. Tonight, as a side benefit of the TOD site I sat in on a lecture on exponential growth that took place in Colorado, and didn't think too much about the process (the lecture was excellent). I routinely take technical pictures, wander into my office and send them,. within minutes, to a sponsor.

Work is done in minutes that, when I first came to campus as a junior faculty member, would take me days to analyze. We take it so much for granted, and that came to me today as I looked at the profile for the incoming freshmen. Half their bands and movie/TV star folk are people I have never heard of. I suppose they are the start of the Harry Potter generation.

On campus we are starting to see the seams come apart as the budget crisis tightens, and now blame becomes the name of the game. Do I have any funds left, how can they be sequestered away (this while I sit huddled with the Administator trying to get it all committed so that there is nothing left to steal). All this in the full knowledge that we have to find a way to solve this problem,but no-one thinking to put their head on the block.

And at the end of the summer, as the sun burns down on an exhausted crew we have, finally, a beautiful experiment that, in a minute and a half, proves one of our premises for a contract. Take the photos, mail them off.

And the exercise bike comes tomorrow (it has been in town for 3 days - don't invite my opinion of our local delivery service).

In May I had a routine, at the end of the summer we have "survive the day" I cannot recall us ever being this busy, and the energy crisis has not yet even begun to bite.

Well time for the last few nights rest before I begin, too late as always, to refine the lectures for the new class,


Friday, August 05, 2005

Only a few more days of rest in the summer

With the new semester only a couple of weeks away, the determination to grab a final few hours off is matched only by the ease with which folk slip into my office. Some bring good news, another little chunk of money has come our way, others bad, the experiment that would conclude a contract was ended but less than a full set of data points were recovered. Two more road trips have been tagged into the schedule, and there is "great interest" in my class this semester. (This time last year it was just about now that I discovered that the enrolment had been capped at zero, which made it difficult to get students to take it at the last minute).

Mum is definately aging and the Traveller said that almost everything is slowing down, as she also sleeps a lot more. You notice it in the phone conversations, that used to run about 40 minutes, and then 20 and now don't often last much more than 10. And her comments and interests are much reduced.

In the never-ending game of politics here, apparently Hatless is not too happy that I have taken over something that he has been happily claiming as his for the past four years. It was sort of inadvertent, but someone has to move us off dead center, and having said the wrong thing at the wrong time (or vice versa) I guess I am going to get the obligatory 15 minutes before being dragged off stage for perhaps one of the last times.

Odd thoughts begin to cross my mind, such as how can I reclaim the office I had before I moved downstairs - given that the faculty that moved into it has now really taken root.

Well the new Tsar shows up in a month, and we'll see what this new (but still aged) broom brings to the table. The rumors continue to swirl, but almost nothing yet of substance.

In the continuing investigation as to what makes the hip feel good I have discovered that 45 minutes of an easier exercise tape works better than 30 minutes of a more intense one. Also we are getting a reclining exercise bike for the anniversary this year (it is supposed to be shipped already) and so I decided to see if cycling through the news helped. Not having the new bike yet I used a rather decrepit old one from the garage and found that 20 minutes on it required 20 more minutes of walking before I was comfortable again. Well at least it's an excuse not to exercise too much for another week or so.

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