Heading Out

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

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Staged versus real excitement

Given the alternatives I think I would have preferred watching King Kong, which had a number of exciting moments. Today the Engineer was to fly back to the West Coast, and so we turned up to drive him to the local airport, expecting no problems, and with plenty of spare time. When we got to the local airport (which took 2 tries since we drove past it the first time, not recognizing what it was) they checked him in, and then said, "well we aren't sure that the flight won't have problems." It was only with a bit of chat that we discovered that the airport was actually closed because of the fog. So the Actress and the Engineer chatted some more, and found that he could be booked out of a larger airport a mere 70 odd miles away, and on a flight that left some 105 minutes later.

So we hopped back into the car, and I turned the wrong way out of the airport, adding about 20 minutes to the trip. Did I mention that it was foggy. It was also raining (which at this time of year in Maine is rather rare apparently, it is more commonly snow). Then we had to find the second airport, not a trivial or instantaneous process. We get there some 15 minutes before the flight, but the Engineer has to check a bag and the line to the electronic baggage check is hardly moving. But the flight is 15 minutes late, and 10 minutes after he joins it, the baggage line is still not moving. However a friendly attendant chats with the Actress and lo, the bag moves to the front, and the Engineer trots off to the security line. Turning up just before a flight, young etc etc - yup, fits the profile, and so off he has to go for the extended search, as they finish calling all seats for the flight. The Actress is mildly perturbed, but in the end, just as they page him from the plane he finishes at security and disappears into the concourse. We wait 30 minutes, he does not reappear, and so, at a much more leasurely pace, we head back up North.

One Persian rug, and a Chinese dinner later we have also found out that he made it to la Guardia, and then "something happened." We don't know what, but he will be spending the night there and should be on a flight tomorrow. But it is hard to get reassigned to a different plane, due to the time of year.

Now the forecast tomorrow is rain, but the locals are saying snow, and we have to travel through the more distant airport. So methinks we will be up a little earlier than usual and away, just in case. Two such adventures in two days are better left to the movies.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A trip to Rockland

Today we took time out to drive over to Rockland and the Farnsworth Art Museum, with the collections of 3-generations of Wyeth's. It was very definately worth the trip, and wandering around the galleries that surround the Museum would have been an additional pleasant few hours, had we not made insufficient plans to do so, and had, therefore to leave earlier than we would otherwise have liked.

It is already on the list for a second visit when we return here later next year. Other than that, living off the last of the Christmas feast, and noting that the maid did not take the small tip I left in the envelope are the full strain of the burden of our day. The snow is thin enough and new enough still to be pretty, and the air is clear and good. This is continuing to be a great vacation. (And even the e-mails are relatively quiet this week).

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Monday, December 26, 2005

'Snow joke

Walking down the town street after dinner, the snow falling in gusts and the street lights on, made it just the scene of winter in Maine that you would think. Only a little over an inch more as I head for bed, but it is still coming down. A quiet Boxing Day with rain this afternoon as the boys showed us around town. We found one of the artist colony type shops open and bought a few small things.

Tomorrow is a work day for all but us tourists so, depending on the depth of the snow, we will go out to see what the surrounding country has to offer. And if the weather is too bad I suspect that there is always a shopping center somewhere. Talking about energy today, it is a growing concern up here, but there is not a lot of sustainable fuel (apart from trees) apparent. And they seem quite environmentally conscious and worried about nuclear. But I am on holiday, so no sermons, sorry Bishop. (grin)

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Very Merry Christmas was had by all.

Staying at a hotel at Christmas has benefits and disadvantages, especially when staying near one's child, but for a variety of reasons we do. This morning a slight contratemps since we had put a do-not-disturb sign outside the door, after getting in a little late. So at 8:30 am we get a note under the door saying that they would not clean the room, since they could not get in. It seemed to foredain a less than good day. But after we arose and got ready, the maid was still working the hall (an hour later) and so we did have our room cleaned after all.

The day was spent, after church, in typical familial manner, though we brought the UK Christmas pud from a local store. Had Cornish Game Hen and everything worked out well, with the only problem being how to get a new CD cabinet back home. I was mildly amused by the fact that last year we were at St John the Divine in New York, in a packed assembly while this year, we were in a very much smaller and less well attended church, and yet both worked very well, and were enjoyable in their own ways. There is much to be said for a more rural existance.

Well I hope you all had as good a Christmas as we did, and may your New Year be Prosperous and Happy.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Dreaming of a White Christmas in no longer needed

Well there we were sitting having a pleasant Thai dinner to heat the inside, when we looked out and saw a fairly heavy initial fall of snow that has now steadied down into a light but continuing fall. So I am glad we got the last of the stuff for Christmas taken care of today i was a little surprised that this little corner of Maine is a bit hillier than I expected, but it is just about as crowded in the parts of towns that we have been shopping at. All should settle back down by about Wednesday of next week I should imagine.

( A quick look out suggests that it may even have stopped snowing). The joys of hot chocolate on days like this. Nothing much else of note, though while I have been checking what is going on back home I am trying to keep a non-existant input until I get to visit he who I guess should be called the Ard Ri since the earlier title did not conate the brutal efficiency of the executions to date.

So now some more family time, and some new facets to life. But the problem with hotel rooms is that there is only one place to write and sleep and the priorities just changed.

G'night all.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse.

Well this might, in time, make this post a little less anonymous, but the bloodletting continues. Just today there was news of a couple of female occupants of the tumbrils as they rumbled down to the market. And one of them was the Duchess, who it was that raised the question as to whether that entire rank of the academic nobility was doomed, and the answer came back yes.

So we will see what happens as the campus struggles to decide how to perform without one layer of management, and the other changes that go therewith. I myself decided to keep a low profile (or at least leave for a week) though talking with the Dauphin this morning, even he is not sure that he will survive this reshaping of the campus.

In another place I have talked about the solution to our coming energy crisis being solvable, not with a single silver bullet, but with bb's. I am working on about three of these at the moment, and preparing the paperwork to start one of them, and doing the meetings therefore took virtually all day, and even then some folks have already left. This will be the idea that I will call the golden bb, and we will see how far it flies.

We are packing and ended up sharing a couple of gifts since they would not fit into the suitcase. There is probably another case load sitting outside the two full cases right now, but with a little patience maybe I can squeeze more in. And so we wander off toward the North East, where rumor has it that it is cold.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Making silver bb's

The world's oil problems will not be solved by a single silver bullet, but by a large amount of silver bb's. So quoth Congressman Bartlett, if I remember correctly, at the Denver World Oil Meeting.

And so I spent my day in meetings trying to build consensus to build a mold for bb's. Talked a lot, broke to have an office party - we draw lots to give away all the odd stuff we pick up at conferences and things over the year, and the students had more fun with these than most. I ended up with a lavender candle.

There is a respite from politics as we all wend out way through the next two weeks. I am charging the cameras and starting to think about packing, while trying not to think about all the things that won't get done while I am away.

One of the grad students became a father for the first time the other day. Came in today for the first time, complaining of being tired, and left almost immediately. Now I need to get his attention and remind him that he still needs to get some work done - ah, the joys of being Scrooge.

Christmas concert tonight, slightly better than usual. Mum needed to go to the bathroom when I called, so the conversation was a brief 5 minutes. All is well, the scarf arrived and is appreciated, it is cold and ice on the roads.

I think I have 1 whole student signed up for one class last semester, though it may be another glich in the machine. There is increasing pressure to write a book, though it bemuses me why we should do it before we have proved that anything will work. Goodness knows there are enough "the world is doomed" books out there already.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

A continuing thought on being unknown

I see that the subject of anonymity is being discussed again. I still have not decided if I ever will unveil, since the work that I do is quite heavily related to the TOD site, and by being unknown I can more easily be honest.

It is interesting, however, that when I went to the Denver meeting some of those there knew who I was, and I did get introduced a couple of times as HO. Fortunately I had my badge turned or off, and at this meeting, at least at the present time, there was no-one there that knew me in my professional life. That may well change since I suppose that some of my work may eventually show up there and so there will be folk in the audience who know me from both sides. I did discuss this with a couple of colleagues and they both felt that there was nothing to be gained at present, and a lot to lose by coming out. And this despite (or perhaps because) I am long tenured and close to the door.

But while it does make it awkward, it also allows me to make some comments at both places that I would not make otherwise.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The tumbrils roll, like drums in the night!

Well there I was, lulled by the blandness of the Tsar's reign into forgetting the bloodletting of a succession. Already the Prince Regent rode grimly to the square, now he has been followed by the Boyar, jesting to the last, and one other of the Boyar's rank went down with him (though that may have been voluntarily). Stepping down to the next level of us more humble minor nobility, I was sat at a table today and realised that 5 of the 12 of us would be gone by August. Of those there are two that I do not think went willingly into the cart.

So now we sit, and wait while the Taoiseach consolidates his position and decides how the island will be ruled for the next few years. From what I hear they ought to grease the tumbril wheels 'cos they're going to rumbling some more before we're done. Even the Dauphin is seeking advice on what he should do. Hatless is gone, as is his originally chosen heir.

The ghost of the ci-devant Prince is now trying to find a place that might not force exorcism (tenure being a wonderful thing in that regard) and so called me over for lunch (which turned out to be going to a Departmental Xmas party to which I had not been invited, though they were very welcoming). Then a little hint or two that the recommendations from our task force might perchance include his field. Just another little complication to life's merry dance.

In chatting with various folk about the campus future, I can see it is going to take a bit more effort than I thought to get a bandwagon rolling in any one direction. But slowly, and by chatting individually with folk, hopefully I can build a consensus within the month. That's all the time I have, and it involves weaving a future that may entrap me just a little longer. Pity that the Irish and the Scots speak different languages these days.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Yay, I did not go to work today!

The exam is written, and taken twice already, and I am left trying to evaluate art as practiced by engineers. There are three highly creative pieces, some very thoughtful ones, and a couple of "the enginerd strikes again" type. So Monday will be the fun of the evaluation and grading (in truth).

Well, having treid to get the task force going one suddenly sees that any broad vision is going to be restricted by who is here and what they are interested in. This cold water in the face, leads obviously to the conclusion we need to team with others, but with the head of the Prince Regent still recumbent in the gutter, I am not sure whether it is appropriate to seek guidance from his spirit, or try and navigate the fog of the succession fight to determine who to get advice from, and to whom one should tie one's flag.

If I said that student issue has not died, but continues to create enemies - this is amost absurd, except that in seeking for a person to blame . . . it does not help that my back is largely uncovered these days.

Talking to a colleague it transpires that my resignation is no longer held as tightly as I thought, which means it is time to move the announcement, except that I hate to do it before Xmas.

Other than the TOD books, I am now reading "Eldest" by Christopher Paolini, whose first in this trilogy was written apparently when he was 15. Does not bode well for the wait to the final book (he's now 19), but they are a good read.

Once I had a little routine, be patient, hopefully soon I can return to it, but, the way things are going, it will only be on bloody feet. Well time to go throw another log on the stove, and perhaps to try some Orangecello- the Montpezat that was the weekend wine is, sadly, not to be recommended.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lots of not much

On days like this I should print off the little calendar that the Administrator prepares for me and carry it around, since without it I am invariably going to forget something. In this case a meeting on student evaluations, just after class and a hasty trip over to a Christmas Party to ensure that I did not give offense.

Speaking of which that little affair with the missing form for the student is still going on. Must have been about a dozen memos or more today and now Hatless and the Duchess are beginning to joust though e-mails. The only sure loser now is going to be the student, and I think my hand will now get slapped since I pulled the Administrator out of the fracas and we will return to being flies on the wall.

At the Christmas Party (where they had prepared a plate for me, before it all disappeared) I finally had someone ask if the rumor of my departure was true. After three months or so I am surprised that it held up as long as it did. Must needs go visit the Dauphin and get the train moving, though I had hoped it would happen before we got into Christmas and now we have the rather odd case of the Prince Regent to add complication. (I was told by four different people today that it had happened, but there is still no form of an announcement.)

Finished the book A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer tonight, and it was one of those books it was really hard to put down. The basic premise is that fertility has changed to the point that (on this planet) woman are the large majority, and men marry into the family of sisters - one per family, with there being lots of sisters in the family that suddenly become wives. Very light-hearted and well written, so I guess I will wander the stores seeing what else I can find that she has written.

Tomorrow we will get into choosing which of the student pieces we will display - the first one that came in was easy, since the choices were glass and wood - but since the big visit coming tomorrow was cancelled due to the weather, maybe the rush won't happen until Friday.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The only thing certain is change

Ah, well I think I am still tracking red footprints across the floor. Yes it has been one of those tumbril days here in our little world, and the Prince Regent has just made the trip down to the market square. Now rumor had been rife for a bit that he was, as they say, heading out, but not quite this soon. And of course, this morning, I was trying to get my own little departure organized. I guess that goes on the back burner for a little longer.

Back in July a form was not properly filled in for a student. Not my student, nor was I paying him, but the lack of the form was only discovered when the Administrator went to put him on some of our funding this month. We spent about half of yesterday and an hour this morning collectively deciding that no-one was to blame for the considerable fracture of a whole set of rules that ensued (a lie) and when, later in the day, I moved to correct another flaw the discussion had revealed (which had nothing to do with the student) the grapevine suddenly ran with the news that I had it in for the student. His advisor perhaps, but we had nothing to do with the first problem, and the student had nothing to do with the second. But accepting blame is what Administrators are for, so I will grin and go on.

The students deliver their projects on Friday and are already concerned about my definition of artistic merit - grin, it actually means that I don't want the surfaces left unfinished, but we will see what they all come up with.

In preparation for the dread day I ordered the new training for Vue the other day, and need to get back into the modelling programs since they are, at least nominally, one of the hobbies to keep me out of trouble into my dotage. It's just that I haven't even loaded the last upgrade onto a machine yet, nor one of the new programs I bought to suppliment the old. At least TOD is still generating some interest, though what with that and the new committee work it may be that modelling will have to slip into the background for another semester.

Tomorrow should be a little interesting as we see how the players move around the board and position themselves, and so to another late night to bed.

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Me and my big mouth

Well we had the meeting on where we go from here today, vis-a-vis a campus energy initiative and having sat quietly through most of it, I ended up doing the usual and so am now heading up one of the task groups, with a first report due in a month.

A nasty little row about a student whose paperwork got lost seemed to take most of today, even though we have now agreed to have a meeting between interested parties tomorrow to find an answer. And it also showed that there are some downsides to writing e-mails that come back to bite you - though hopefully in this case I am more the fly on the wall, but we will see.

It was another day when in the end I shut the door to get a report finally revised, or almost, since I have a Memorial Resolution that is a more immediate matter. And here the internet proved to be a boon, since it allowed access to a fair bit of information to fill out a background that few of us here were that familiar with.

And so, again, it is midnight in Glockamorah (well there it is likely 6 am) and I am still writing - thought we weren't going to do this? But here we are in the unfolding events, and so there is only one shot at writing this down.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

The beginning of an end

Since one of the objects of this site was to comment on the stages one goes through with retirement, I guess I had better start posting a tad more often. And here is the current progress.

At the beginning of the semester I had a chat with the Dauphin, who tried to suggest I wait a bit, and then that I talk it over with the Duchess (who did not seem to care one way or the other). However they asked that I wait until the new Taoiseach got settled in. Well that could take forever, and so I sent a little note on Friday saying that it was about time we did something- with the intent of getting some sort of announcement out in the next few days.

However in the general scheme of things the energy business is getting me twitchy and, as one of the "techno-nerds" it would be fun to get back and see how much of it we can play in. The problem is that if you think outside of the conventional box then you have to take a whole lot of time getting folk to understand what the box means - ah, well. And giving up this position will remove a pulpit that I could use with some fun. (I am now invited to lecture on the topic about once a month). We have a meeting on this tomorrow, and while the chances of anything happening are looking smaller and smaller, it is something that may have some impact on what happens next.

It is amazing how much change a year can make. Last year I was looking around the office and thinking about how difficult it would be to give it up. Which was, I suppose, the big indication that I was not ready. Now, it gets more frustrating almost daily having to deal with the administrivia. I suppose that part of it is seeing the train wreck of Peak Oil and Gas, that is going to derail so much, looming more imminently. It makes the running down of colleagues and departments, which I got inured to about 3 decades ago, seem more remarkably childish and non-constructive. And I suppose also that I must be conveying some of the lack of interest that end-points generate. It is hard to get enthused about an effort that will not generate much until some time after one is gone. It makes it evident that they need to get another leader in here with the dreams that I have, to a surprising measure, been able to fulfil.

And hopefully it will mean that I can also write things like this much earlier than the late hours of the night, which has become the only time often available over the last few months. On which note, let's see if I find time to post again this week?

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