Friday, April 29, 2016

Heh. Star Wars.

I saw this on Twitter and I laughed, and then retweeted it with, "Or My Little Ponies, whatever"

Not that I was EVER tempted to even try drugs as a kid/teen....but yeah, early on I spent my money on toys, then on cassette tapes of music, and still later, on my doll collection. (And I also wonder if my parents' decision to give me a VERY small allowance had the unintended effect of my never getting involved in troublesome behaviors....)

Now, as an adult, most of my budget goes to keeping myself alive and healthy (food, prescription medications, etc.) and my discretionary funds (and if you've been reading here, I've backed off a good bit from the NO SPENDING ON FUN mode that I went into with the furlough days - I'm still being very careful but am finding I'm doing okay and the cut wasn't as deep as feared)....and yeah, some of that went to MLP stuff.

And yeah, I can see some folks equating wanting to buy Star Wars stuff (or My Little Pony stuff, whatever) with being an addiction similar to that to drugs....but at least I am never unable to do my job effectively because I just received a G1 pony in the mail.


Somehow I got recruited by the Nielsen people to do one of those tv diaries. And yes, I am being honest in what I watch. It will give them something to think about - local or local-ish news, medical shows, and then cartoons like My Little Pony or We Bare Bears. (And who knows.....maybe my input helps keep some of the shows I like from being replaced by stuff I dislike)

But it is sort of annoying to keep the diary; it's sort of like those diet plans where they tell you to write down everything you eat. (And does it count if you have the news on so you can hear the weather but otherwise mostly ignore it?)


I am tentatively hopeful that the roof-repair I did last week helped. We've had some rain - not driving, violent rain like what had seeped in before - but still, rain, and there's no water getting into the room. (Also, I suppose this means I periodically need to plan on going up there and brushing the accumulated debris off the roof; I am sure that helped. If I had a better ladder AND someone to hold it for me I'd do the same on the front roof, but it would take a longer ladder than what I have, and, as I said, someone to steady it for me.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Downtime is coming....

It looks like the rain will clear out by Saturday morning, so maybe on Saturday (after New Pony, and I think this is a Trixie episode?) I will get to go antiquing. I don't have anything in mind that I need or want but that's kind of the point of antiquing - the serendipity of finding something cool you didn't know existed or you didn't know you could use.

(Though I will say, it seems with the rise of eBay and Etsy there are fewer small-town antique shops, and there seems to be less random stuff in them - back before I started my small collects of G1 ponies, I used to occasionally see them in the toy sections of the shops, but now no more. Am wondering if there's a collector/seller in the area who regularly combs the shops or who "picks" yard sales for them, so they don't turn up any more)

But I can still usually find an occasional interesting piece of cut glass, or one of those souvenir plates, or something interesting. Will try to remember to keep my eyes peeled for wall shelves - I need one that will hold my few G1 Ponies (Posey, Bubbles, Heart Throb, baby Surprise, Up Up and Away, Star Hopper.....and also on order, because my favorite shop had a sale - Twice as Fancy Dancing Butterflies and Baby Glory. But I really should stop with those.... though I kind of want one of the "first tooth" baby ponies now, because they are kind of silly looking. And the G1 baby ponies are SUPER cute - they don't have the creepy iris-less eye effect that the G4 ponies have, they are just much smaller and chubbier versions of the adults, and so they are super cute.  Though I'm not sure I like the so-called Beddy Bye Eyes ones, which have those open-and-close doll's eyes; I think I prefer the painted-on eyes that I think of as being "distinctive" of the MLP franchise)

I also need a larger shelf for my Monster High dolls, though I might go to Lowe's sometime and see what they have, because I think it will take a shelf that is maybe 2 1/2 feet long or so to easily house all of them.

It's just relaxing to go antiquing. It's not like clothes shopping, where you have a goal you probably have to meet ("need new jeans" "I have that fancy do to go to so I need a dress") and it can be extremely frustrating if you can't find what you need. And it's not like grocery shopping. Grocery shopping isn't BAD at good times (when the store is not crowded and they've just restocked) but I've found that lately - probably because of budget cuts meaning cut workforce - many stores don't restock very fast and more than once I've gone to the SOLE store in town (the Mart of Wal) that carries a product just to find an empty shelf. (And of course, no one around to ask "Hey, do you have any more in the back?"). But with antiquing - you don't HAVE to buy anything. If you don't see anything you want, you can just smile to the owner and thank him or her on your way out the door. And usually the stuff there is stuff you don't really NEED, but sometimes it is stuff that makes your life happier - like the vintage cookbooks that I like to flip through and sometimes even try recipes from, or the nice old embroidered dresser scarf, or a cute picture frame that will fit that snapshot you have and want to keep.

And yeah. I admit, I am very much a "clutter" person. I like having stuff around. I like having shelves full of books; it makes my house seem more friendly. I like having my toys around me because they cheer me up when I'm sad.

In a chain of clicking the other day, I wound up on an article (someone linked it on Twitter) where a book-lover was talking about this new "art of decluttering" thing where the person (the method is called the Konmari method) essentially tells you to get rid of 3/4 or so of the stuff you own. And that includes books - at her most extreme, she was telling people to dispose of books they hadn't read yet (which seems silly to me: the books I haven't read yet are the ones I will read sometime) and also to even TEAR OUT PAGES so you only keep "the words you like." WHAT?!?! (the person has since backed off of that but honestly? Tearing up a book is vandalism. If you only want a few pages out of it - say it's a poetry anthology - make a photocopy of those pages to keep and then donate the book somewhere)

But, yeah. I don't know. I think in some ways this is another indicator of how our culture tends to be bad at moderation - you have, on the one hand, all of those Hoarders shows (which make me twitch and yes, I really need to go back to my big closet and get rid of all the clothes that either are nearly worn out or that don't fit me well, and I also need to cull books again) but on the other you have people tell you to live in a sterile box and experience everything "virtually."

I don't know. As I said, I tolerate a certain level of clutter - in fact, I like some forms of it, I have stuff all over my walls - souvenir plates in the bathroom, family photos in the living room, inspirational quotes and stuff on the wall over my bed (and also, I think that's where my G1 pony shelf will eventually go). I don't like PAPER clutter - I pay my bills as soon as I receive them because I hate having stacks of those reminding me I have to do them. And as much as possible, once I complete any grading, I take it back to my office (I DO have a lot of paper clutter there, but I don't live in my office) so I don't have to look at it any more. And mail. I get tired of dealing with mail. (I have said more than once that I'd pay an anti-subscription to the publisher if I could stop getting that weekly 'Shopper' thing that's full of classified ads, and if I could put a stop to all the annoying junk mail from car dealerships and quickie-loan places and local furniture stores. Already I've stopped a lot of the catalogs, from places that actually abide by your request not to send things out....). And I can't leave dishes in the sink without feeling very uncomfortable about it. (Actually, having a messy kitchen and bathroom bother me more than clutter in the rest of the house. Germophobia? Maybe.)

Back to the decline of antique shops - I've read that in some parts of the country, the vintage-furniture market is crashing, because Millennials don't want it, or can't afford it. And that makes me a little sad (though I bet that there are Millennials who do like and care about it, just not most of them). I like vintage furniture and when I needed furniture* I tried to buy older stuff as much as possible, because it tends to be better made and prettier and is real wood. And often I find I can get a nicer piece than I could afford new. The "buffet" I use for storage in my dining room is a mid-century piece that cost me $250 plus a delivery charge and I bet I'd have paid a lot more for a comparable real-wood one that was newly made.

(Though maybe if the economy EVER gets better, and Millennials actually gain some spending power, some of them will discover the fun of antiquing....)

(* Except for upholstered furniture. I learned that the hard way when I got fleas from an old chair. I guess I should be grateful it was not bedbugs.)

Another thought: perhaps I find antiquing fun because the shopping represents "possibilities" and the consideration of same: looking at a vintage cookbook, I see the possibility of making some of the recipes in it. Considering an old printed tablecloth, I can think of the possibility of how it would look cool on my dining room table. Looking at a goofy piece of costume jewelry, I can think of the outfits I might possibly wear it with. And so on. And I don't HAVE to buy that thing, I can just think about how I might possibly use it in my life, and then decide if I want it, if I'm willing to pay what it costs or not and find a place for it in my home....

With regular shopping, so often it's "I NEED these things" (laundry detergent or new jeans or socks or vegetables or notebook paper) and so there's not that element of choice there - it's more "Is this detergent likely to contribute to hives" or "do these jeans make me look intelligent*" and there's not that element of possibility - it's more, get in, find what I need, pay, get out. Not as much browsing but seeing as I mostly wind up shopping in big-box stores (because that's what exists here), they tend not to be fun to browse in.

(*Heh, there was a news story - in the typical way science news gets misinterpreted - claiming that women with larger rumps were smarter and healthier, when it really meant that carrying more fat in your hips and thighs, as opposed to your abdomen, MIGHT have an effect on long-term health and possibly of course I thought of the gag of a woman asking her male partner, "Do these jeans make me look smart?")

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Abstract is submitted.

I don't know why but it feels like more of a win to get to the EXACT word count allowed than it is to go one or two words under. It's like winning at Tetris or something.

Wednesday morning things

* Locally, we got lucky. There was a lot of thunder and lightning (I was awake for it) but as far as I could hear, no hail, and the rain didn't sound unusually hard. (I THINK my roof repairs held - I haven't checked yet but I didn't hear any dripping water). Of course, I haven't been outside and I know it was kind of windy. Hopefully there are no limbs down in bad places (like, a big one I can't move myself across my drive).

I think they are saying some of the north Texas towns (Howe, for example) got it a lot worse than we did.

* I'm essentially done with teaching for this semester. Today is student research presentations (which have to be graded, but I don't have to talk) and tomorrow I give a couple exams. And my final exams are written. This is good. This feels good. I mean, I will miss some of my students when they are done - I had a number of good ones this semester - but it's nice to have the pace slack off a little.

* Also, I'm done-for-now with a couple things - I sent in my little research proposal and in early June I go up to Tulsa to present it to the group that hopefully will fund it. It feels good to be moving forward on something. I also just have a few corrections and edits on the abstract for my summer presentation and I can submit that.

I guess the few weeks of crazy working where I stayed over later than I normally did or pushed myself paid off. I feel a little better about the whole post-tenure process that is coming up in the fall because having a paper come out, plus give an on-campus presentation, a presentation at a national conference, and be planning and searching out alternative funding sources for new research is pretty good on top of the teaching I normally do. (And I get pretty good teaching evaluations, and my chair told me that she has heard students counseling other students to sign up for my section of the intro class. I don't THINK it's that I am "easier" - my grade distribution is about the same as everyone else's and I do push to get in all the material (I hear rumors that not everyone does). So maybe I have a talent for teaching the intro students?*)

* I am tentatively considering taking Friday's furlough afternoon and going antiquing as a reward for getting so much done. Sadly, it's supposed to rain/storm again both on Friday and Saturday. I will have to see - if it's another late-night thing, I can still go, but it's not much fun to go out shopping in heavy rain.

* I had to go refill a couple prescriptions yesterday. One wasn't quite ready despite my having called ahead. I had to wait. They have magazines in their waiting area but my choice was to read about turkey hunting or to read about having type II diabetes. (I think they need a third magazine choice there.....) I just sat. (So far I have managed to avoid type II diabetes despite it slightly running in my family so I didn't want to scare myself by reading about it. I know exercise can help prevent or slow its development and exercise is one thing I'm pretty insistent about)

(*Edited to add: oh crud, does that mean I'm Miss Cheerilee? With three daisies on my butt? (even though there's a fan trope that she's actually a TERRIBLE teacher). Speaking of which, I want to start on the Amigurumi version of her some time: a friend on Rav bought me the pattern for her LAST year on my birthday and I've never started her! But I have to finish the gift mitts first)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bad weather coming

Spare a good thought for my area of the country this evening. We are under an 'enhanced' risk (bordering on 'moderate') for large hail, winds up to 80 mph, and tornadoes.

We've already had two rounds of hail; the second one took out some of my garden and dinged up the side of my garage. I don't want a third, especially not with large hail. (I may have to get an insurance adjuster out to check the roof at some point; I am still thinking of biting the bullet and have a re-roof done this summer even if it means I have to close out one of my little "emergency" accounts to do it).

Of course, I'm most worried about tornadoes. My house is pretty solidly built and it's weathered a good 70 years here, but still - a strong twister in the wrong place would destroy it. I've decided I'm going to trust that the bathroom (with me hiding out in the tub with several quilts and maybe the rubber yoga mat over me - they say to get under a mattress but I can't LIFT a mattress) will be a safe enough shelter, as the storms are supposed to come late tonight, and it's creepy being up in my building late at night (there are rooms that are safe to shelter in here). There aren't any "public" shelters other than on campus, and I don't feel much like spending the hours I'd rather be asleep playing a game of sardines with my colleagues and whatever town residents realize our building has shelters. (The last time I went to an on-campus public shelter, some woman decided I was her new best friend and proceeded to tell me about all the surgeries she'd had in the past year. I don't know. I have that kind of face, I guess).

I don't like hail but tornadoes....I have a long held fear of them. I was *just* old enough to remember hearing about the 1974 outbreak (it killed a lot of people in Xenia, Ohio, which wasn't near to where I lived, but still, it was in *Ohio* which was the state where I lived at the time). And I remember far, far too many summer afternoons when the sirens would blare and we would all run down into the basement to wait it out....someone grabbing the cat first if there was time and he was somewhere nearby. If I had enough prior warning I'd usually grab a favorite stuffed animal or two, or, I admit, if we had a LOT of warning (like, there was a tornado watch), I'd take a backpack and fill it up with all my favorites and just grab the backpack. (Heh. Now they talk about having "go bags" with a battery radio and a flashlight and stuff in it. As a kid, I had my own type of "go bag").

I still occasionally have bad dreams about it....I remember one, where my brother and I were home alone and we had to get from the top floor of the house into the basement as a tornado was visibly approaching. We never actually *experienced* a tornado....the biggest thing that happened, when I was *very* young, was lightning hit the chimney and knocked part of it down (and the rebuild was never as good; the bricks were poorer quality). Also the basement flooded at that time - I remember sitting on the open basement stairs watching my mom bailing water up and out one of the windows to my dad, who was trying to dump it on the ground where the yard sloped away from the mom said she felt a slight shock when the lightning hit, I guess she was lucky - she was standing with her feet in water. (I guess we were also lucky in that the chimney got hit - so no fire was sparked)

But yeah. I'm really hoping this isn't as bad as they're building it up to be. One of the OKC area schools (Mid-Del? I think?) went ahead and cancelled classes for today. I guess they don't have safe rooms, or something, and figure the kids are safer at home? (Though what do working parents do, when there's no school and probably the day cares are closed as well?)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday morning things

* Still working on the gift-mitts; am about midway through the second one.

* I watched the movie version of The Life of Pi yesterday while knitting. I read the book not too long after it came out but there were a lot of details I had forgotten - that Pi's real name was Piscine Molitor Patel, some of the details of his early life, and just how long the lifeboat journey took. The story is, I guess, an allegory about faith - the central question being whether you prefer "the story with the animals" (where Pi is in the lifeboat at first with a tiger, a hyena, a zebra, and an orangutan but at the end winds up with just the tiger) or the story without (where the animals were stand-ins for humans - the tiger, presumably, being Pi himself, or perhaps his anger, or perhaps his baser nature). The idea being because Pi is the lone survivor and no one saw "Richard Parker" before he walked off into the forest, neither story can be proven to be the "true" one...

I do prefer the story with the animals, and I have to admit, that except for the carnivorous island bit, I actually find it either more believable, or more attractive to believe, than the one without. (I'd rather think of a tiger eating a hyena than a person who had been a lifelong vegetarian resorting to cannibalism....)

Also, I found the violence/sad events in the movie harder to take than in the book. Even little stuff like when the survival booklet where Pi had been keeping a journal blew away in a storm seems more painful when you SEE it than when you READ it.

* They're predicting big storms tomorrow evening. I hope they're not too bad though the Weather Channels' "TorCon" rating is worrisome. I also hope the roof patching I did got the leaks so I don't have more water coming in. I'm ready for us to be done with severe storms and especially hail.

* I finally got around to cleaning my bedroom, including going through the dresser and pulling stuff out of the backs of the drawers. I managed to find the "Luna Pops" t-shirt I thought I had lost. I need to do more cleaning yet but eventually I want to get it cleared enough that I feel comfortable getting an electrician in and FINALLY replacing the ceiling fan and light. (I have to buy one, first)

* I also pulled the various Monster High dolls ( own six. I bought an Elissabat in her black/purple dress and also the Paris version of Rochelle Goyle, both of them because I liked their outfits, so I probably won't be changing their clothes). I took off the woolen dresses the other four had on and dug out some thinner/lighter (all commercially made; I still have not made time to sew dresses) outfits and re-dressed them. I need to get a shelf for these. And one for my little herd of G1 MLPs. I just like having these things around, looking at them, handling them, posing the dolls. I know it's childish but it makes me happy. Years ago, I used to collect dolls. I still have most of my collection in storage at my parents' house and I suppose some time I should retrieve my most favorite ones so I have them down here - the Brickette and the old Toni with her trunk of mostly-handmade clothing and some of the recent Ginnys. And the Sindy I bought on a family trip to Canada when I was in high school - she was intriguing because she wasn't really available in the US. Sindy was like a somewhat-more-innocent version of Barbie; she even looked younger. I bought a bunch of her outfits, too - my favorite being a v. traditional riding get-up that even came with a long tartan skirt in addition to the jodhpurs, so she could be an old-style sidesaddle rider if you wanted. There was one shop in Quaker Square (a shopping center in Akron build into old silos from the Quaker factory) that sold some Sindy stuff (along with trains and Britain's soldiers) so I was able to get her a few more outfits there.

I keep thinking, I should try to see if I can rearrange/get rid of stuff/find better book storage so I could set up a shelf in my room for at least my few favorite dolls I've collected. And then maybe open up an Etsy store or something and sell the rest, though I bet I'd find it tedious to have to truck down to the post office every few days to put one in the mail (and deal with the inevitable saddlesoreness if the PO loses one of them, or if a bad customer CLAIMS one of them is lost). I know there are also people who just buy lots of stuff and then sell it FOR you on eBay, though you probably make less profit that way. I don't know. What I need to do is go through the old collection and maybe set aside 1/10 of it as "keepers" and then find new homes for the rest of it. (And my "keepers" might not necessarily be the most valuable dolls; I would keep the ones I liked best)

I don't know. At one point when I first got into it I had visions of making money off the collection one day but one thing I've learned as an employed adult is that stuff like that is a hard way to make money, and you generally don't make as much as you'd want to. And also, that the way that you keep stuff "really" valuable for the "hardcore" collectors is no fun - the letters NFRB, meaning Never Removed From Box. One thing I see on a lot of the Ponyblogs and other places is that some people are big into alteration now - oh, I'm sure the NRFB people are still out there - but it does make me happier to see people *enjoying* their collection. So people do stuff like figure out solutions for what is termed "box hair" on the new ponies. (The other night, I took the Applejack "Water Cutie" I had and washed her hair with a little conditioner, and then wrapped her mane around her neck and her tail around her leg like I saw some of the pony-people doing. It did soften up her mane and make it more smooth-looking, so I may take the Rarity I have that is like that and take care of her hair next.

And you know? There is something sort of regressively FUN about doing that - about washing your doll's hair (or "doll's," these are animal figures that play that role) and dressing her in different outfits and all that. Much more fun than having the thing in a box stored somewhere away from all natural light so MAYBE in fifteen years you can sell her at a profit. (If the market hasn't crashed, and if anyone has enough disposable income for fripperies like that....the more I look at what's going on in the economy, the more I say, "Buy yourself a few toys now, and enjoy them, because in the future you might not be able to").

Honestly, if you want an investment? Buy stocks. Or gold, Or real estate, depending on your philosophy and what the advisors are saying this week. (Though I hear those ads claiming you can make "lots of passive income" by buying real estate and renting it, and I cringe and think of my buddy Bruce from grad school, who had to make a flying trip home one week to help his dad deal with a particularly nutso tenant who wasn't paying rent, refusing to move out on the pre-agreed move-out date, and was damaging the property. Being a landlord is more work, and more confrontational work, than I'd ever want)

Also, I think it's important to remember that happiness is worth something too. You can't put a dollar value on it but maybe that's why it's so important.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Well, that's done

I took one of my "furlough afternoons" (one left for April now) today.

I mowed the lawn, for one thing. We've gotten something like 5" of rain in the past week or so and this was the first day it was dry enough. I also trimmed back the leggy leaders on the holly bushes so they don't look so bad and so more light gets in my dining room. (I'd take the hollies out, except I don't know what I'd put in their place, and there is some value in having spiny plants next to your windows - it makes your house a little more creeper-proof)

As I was mowing, I kept thinking about the leaky roof in the sewing room. If I didn't do something soon, I'd have to replace the drywall up that and argle, I don't think that's something I am strong enough to do myself. So I figured, since the next round of rain is to start Monday, I didn't have time to get a guy I'd try to do it myself.

Went to Lowe's. Looked around the roofing department. Bought some roofing caulk (very sticky black stuff) and a caulk gun, and also a can of some kind of rubber sealant that claims you can spray it on and it will stop leaks. (It is a different brand from that one heavily advertised on cable, where they try to make a boat with a screen door for the bottom; I tend not to trust that "as seen on TV" stuff that makes extravagant claims). Also bought a new push-broom (the one I had, the head got cracked, the one I had before that is STILL on the roof). And some dust masks to try to protect me from allergies.

Coming home, I asked myself, "Do you really want to do this? You might not be 100% yet after having been sick off and on all winter." And I thought about doing it tomorrow morning but I told myself that it wouldn't take much more than an hour (turns out I was just about right there). So I got out the ladder - yes, but, the lowest point of the porch roof is only about 6' 5" off the ground, so it's not TOO hazardous to climb up on. I climbed up and pushed ALLLLLLL the accumulated junk (leaves, catkins, pecans, decomposed stuff, branches) off into the wheelbarrow (Well, not all of it went in, but that's another problem for another time). Got the caulk. It didn't quite fit in the caulk gun. So: "there, I fixed it" - I used a pair of clippers to cut a thin ring of the cardboard base off the bottom and THEN it fit. And then I also realized I had to "pop" the seal, so I got a long nail and did that.

The caulk is nasty stuff and I may have ruined my jeans trying to get back down - I had to brush against it. But ruining jeans is better than ruining a leg if I hadn't been able to safely get onto the ladder. I caulked all along the facia where I THINK the water is coming in. And then I went up on the roof and caulked some more around the flashing. And then I unleashed the spray-on rubber sealant on the seams. (Heh. You have to be 18 to buy that stuff, did you know? The kid at Lowe's had to re-do the transaction because he forgot to check that part. I told him, "I'm considerably over 18 but you can see my driver's license if you want"). I thought maybe it was because "yutes" would use it for vandalism (it's like even stickier, even nastier spray paint) but I suppose the stinky propellant is something people might huff. If they want to destroy brain cells. I probably lost a few even working with it out in the fresh air - it has a very nasty solventy smell.

At any rate. I really hope this does it. I still think I may need to get a roofer out to look at things and maybe brace for a BIG re-roof (this one will be a tear down as the previous one was not) but I hope this prevents more water finding its way in.

Also, I admit, it feels good to be able to fix something yourself. Both from the super-frugal angle (it did cost me $50, but I got the push broom and a couple additional dust masks for mowing the lawn with) because I tend to approach Scrooge McDuck level about things like this. But also, it makes me feel capable - I think of Heinlein's list of things an "intelligent man" should be able to do.

I also cleaned out the gutters, which I don't do as often as I should, but now if we get another "toad strangler" (as one of the OKC channel 9 weather guys calls the heavy rain) at least it will go down the downspout instead of out over the gutter. (If I do get the roof replaced, I may see if they do gutters as well. I have just the one but it's not in fantastic shape)

And finally, it's good to see there's life in the old girl yet, and even though it seemed like I was sick more than I was well this winter (mostly GI stuff but there was a week of a respiratory virus in there), I was able to get up and do the stuff and not be too winded when I was done. (Actually, mowing the lawn felt more strenuous: it had gotten really tall and it's no joke mowing through a dense carpet of Houstonia.)

I'm getting old

I suppose that's the conclusion one begins to draw when popular musicians from one's high-school days start dying off.

(Yes, I'm referring to Prince. Even though 57 is awfully young to die. And also, he was only about 10 years my senior....Apparently he had had the flu and got bad complications from it? That's the hypothesis right now, anyway.)

I dunno. It's complicated; I was not really a fan (then again, I was not really a fan of ANY current pop music when I was in high school - I had been raised on WCLV and my parents' Beethoven albums so I mostly listened to classical music if I was given my choice, but I also had developed an interest in the antecedents of rock, especially the vocal style sometimes known as doo-wop). But Prince was "there," just like some of the New Wave bands like INXS, were "there."

(I do remember some of my friends pointing out some of the raunchier lyrics Prince produced. As I was and am still somewhat of a prude, that may have been why I didn't listen to a lot of his music, but even I realized he was musically gifted).

But despite that, I think actually Prince had appeal to teenaged girls because he presented a "bad boy" image but he didn't seem really ALL that bad - I mean, he was a little tiny guy, like 5' 4", and he wore guyliner before it really became a thing. So I think there was a sense that behind those lyrics about s-e-x there was someone kind of shy and sensitive and.....and we could totally have been wrong about that and we might have run away if he had shown up in person and been an actual-factual adult man, but the idea was that there was a sensitive soul in there.

And yeah, from some of the stuff I've read and also some commentary in the past day, apparently he was a notoriously shy person. (Funny. A lot of performers are. I am shy, at least in the sense of "Take me to a party where I don't know anyone and I will stand up against a wall and not talk unless someone talks to me" but I can get up in front of a class and teach with no problem. I suppose teaching is a sort of performing. But I can also be talkative in situations where I don't feel like "Everyone else knows everyone else already" or "but there are far more interesting people than me here; why would anyone want to talk to me?" For example, in the dining car on the train, seated with three strangers, I can handily keep up a conversation - secret is, most people like to talk about themselves so you ask them where they're going or what they do - and I admit to actively feeling disappointed when they sit there and dink around on their cell phones and won't interact)

Edited to add: Charles posted this quotation, from a 2009 interview that Prince did:

"It’s a hurtful place, the world, in and of itself. We don’t need to add to it. And we’re in a place now where we all need one another, and it’s going to get rougher"

And while I don't know the full context of that, yes, that is something I've often noticed and felt: there's enough pain in this world as it is, so why try to add to someone else's? I tend to think we're put here to try to alleviate others' pain when we can.

Also, people are tweeting various things - someone posted a (redacted to protect some details) check for a $12,000 donation that a charitable foundation he was involved with made to a library. I tend to want to believe that people have good impulses and that it's only the baser impulses that make people sometimes behave like monsters of ego (not that I've heard anything about him being like that) so remembering the decent things someone did is nice.

But this HAS been a strange year, with a lot of talent leaving us. (I joked about getting Sting and Weird Al Yankovic to a safe house, but, yeah). I suspect 2016 will be remembered as somewhat of an annus horribilus once it's over. (And from other perspectives: we were asked to fill out a survey yesterday about how we would "prioritize" what categories should be protected in the case of further reductions-in-force. I read the e-mail four times and managed to convince myself it was a HYPOTHETICAL and not an ACTUAL, and also it helps that a colleague on the Faculty Senate polled us in the department last week for lists of things we would want to have as categories. And that this largely arose because apparently NO criteria were used for the previous reductions-in-force. And someone formerly in HR claims that if I haven't received a letter by now, I CAN'T be RIFfed for next year, exigencies are financial exigencies. She did also remind me I'd be eligible for unemployment and it's possible that would last long enough to the point where I'd be rehired, nature is such that I'd be out there on Day 1 hunting jobs and probably taking whatever the heck I could minimally tolerate. Something like being a cashier at the wal-mart would make me so sick and so crazy I couldn't do it for long, but I MIGHT be able to do something like stocking store shelves.....I don't even know if there are any jobs in the area specifically for someone with experience in biology. I don't have teaching credentials so even if any of the public schools WERE hiring.....maybe the Noble foundation needs a glassware-washer? Though it would stink to have an hour's commute every day. But yeah. Telling myself it's purely hypothetical and also telling myself I fit the protected categories: I teach classes no one else in my department can, one of the classes I teach (at least) is mission-critical, I get good evaluations, I work hard, I have scholarly productivity and service, I'm not the kind of person who goes "I would prefer not to" and then sits there, passively refusing, when some kind of onerous service task comes up....Though I do have seniority which sometimes actually works against a person.) Things HAVE to get better, right?

Also, I think the fact that I've been low-level sick more than I've been well since late January is evidence I'm getting old. Though hopefully that's starting to turn around and I am now wondering if I got some kind of awful bacterial infection (or maybe even? fungal?) that led to me developing internal hives and THAT was the source of the lost appetite, inability to digest certain things I could in the past, general malaise, and pain.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday morning things

* Some current reading - still working on Moby-Dick but I find I need to intersperse it with lighter things. (Especially after this weekend, with the what-I-think-now was a GI virus and also the concerning news). I re-started Footsteps in the Dark, which is one of Georgette Heyer's mystery novels. This one centers on a small group (three siblings and the husband of one of the sisters) who are involved with the inheritance of an old house connected to a ruined priory.  The place is said to be haunted and there is some weird stuff that happens (for example, the alleged remains of a monk or priest are found walled up in the stairwell in what may have been a priest's hole from Cromwell's day) but the suggestion is that it's not so much that anything supernatural is going on but that someone who wants to get the new owners to leave and sell the property cheaply is tricking them.

I enjoy these kind of books; the setting is a big part of it. I read these things for an escape more than for contemplation about the human condition (such as Moby-Dick can lead to). It's not that different from re-watching a favorite movie or something. I keep some of these books and re-read them periodically - I find I forget enough of the details that I can re-read them.

I also started one of the later Campion novels by Margery Allingham - Traitor's Purse. I'm having to take this one chapter by chapter as it's kind of difficult to read, at least in the early part, because it's almost sort of nightmarish - or at least it's similar to the nightmares I sometimes have. Campion wakes up in a hospital. He doesn't know why he is there or even for sure who he is. He escapes, gets picked up by a woman (who he later finds out is his fiancee) and a man (who later turns out to be the victim). He has been given the task of doing.....something. He doesn't know what, he can't remember. There's a mysterious society, it's hinted that what he's doing is vitally important to national or perhaps even global he has to do something that he cannot fail at, but he does not know what that thing is.

The Campion novels are a bit more fanciful in some ways than many of the other Golden Era novels (Campion was originally devised as a parody of Lord Peter Wimsey) and you do have to suspend disbelief a bit (As much as amnesia has been used as a plot device down through the years, it really doesn't generally happen the way it happens in books; what is far more common is "transient amnesia," for example, you are in a car wreck but you cannot remember what let up to the wreck or what happened right after, but you can remember everything from several weeks before the wreck. Or, as sometimes happens in Alzheimer's patients, you lose your short term memory but remember who you are and things from your past). This novel is a little less "light" than some Campion novels given the trope of "there is this thing you must do but you do not remember it and you cannot reveal that you do not remember it"

* I made spaghetti bolognese last night. (Or, as in the breezy style of the British cookbook I used, "Spag Bol"). I admit at first I was slightly apprehensive about it given my couple month's stomach issues - would I tolerate the acidy tomatoes okay?

Turns out I did. And I am wondering if maybe, just maybe, the stuff is finally OVER. Also am wondering if the abdominal pains could in some way be related to the hives.....I had had a few days of bad hives every time the stomach was bad. (Is it possible for one to get hives on internal organs, or would that be deadly?). Also, I had a lot of little, what felt like "muscle pulls" in the abdomen that seem to have gone away.Or maybe this was just really drawn out aftereffects of either a virus or some kind of food poisoning I didn't realize I had? (I am still going to try to avoid Red #40 in case that does affect me, though I wonder if what happened Saturday was actually a virus)

When I heat the Bolognese sauce back up though, I'm going to add some oregano and a little salt - I didn't put any salt in at first, and the only seasonings this recipe called for was a bay leaf and garlic and onion. (The recipe in my "Mama D's" cookbook calls for oregano).

* Edited to add: a little medi-Googling (dangerous, I know) has revealed that yes, internal organs *especially the GI tract* can be affected by hives and they can be painful, crampy, and cause diarrhea and vomiting. Hm. I wonder if this was some kind of awful, long-extended bout of hives that affected my innards - definitely some of the weird random pains in weird random places made me go, "if this was out on the skin I'd say it was a hive"

Good news: I'm not gonna die.
Bad news: not sure how I get rid of it, short of going on corticosteroids, if I get it again.

* I will say I've been on a triple-species probiotic (Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum) for a little while (a bit over a week) and I think - hopefully - that is helping fix my stomach issues.

Also, I wonder: could adjusting one's gut flora have a slight anti-depressive/anti-anxiety effect? I don't mean for people with serious issues - they probably still would need something to alter brain chemistry - but for people who just feel kind of "blah" and mildly dysphoric like I have felt since January. (Oh, there have been bright spots: the weekend of my birthday when I went to Whitesboro was pretty good). But I feel much better, much more "myself" since I started taking these. (It's possible it's a placebo effect but I am not going to think to hard about that lest I convince myself it is and it stops working). It could also just be the absence of abdominal cramps makes me feel happier and more hopeful because that pain is gone and also the weird nagging worries ("What if this is pancreatic cancer?" "No, it can't be: they tested all the enzymes and things that show up in your blood in January and said your pancreas and liver and kidneys all looked very healthy." "But what if they missed something?")

It could also be something I'm allergic to has stopped flowering. I get weird psychological symptoms from allergies and also I need to sleep more, and I've noticed these past couple days I'm back to my old "bounce out of bed 25 minutes before the alarm goes off" routine.

At any rate: it seems like they are helping me so I am going to go ahead and keep taking them (and buy more when my 2-month supply runs out). They're expensive but if I continue to feel this good while taking them it's worth it.

* First gift mitt is done except for the thumb. I have extra reason to want to finish these as the person who is leaving gave me her floor mat (that plastic mat that sits under a rolling chair). Mine had all but broken up - I am kind of heavy and also I tend to fidget and roll around a lot in my chair, and the mats crack over time. I had used duct tape to try to get a bit more life out of mine but when she saw that I had it all taped up, she brought me hers ("I'm not taking it with me, and there won't be anyone using that office come fall"). It's a little thing but I appreciate it.

(Empty offices on a college campus are as much a sign of bad financial times as empty storefronts are in a downtown. And sadly, both my college and my downtown have way too many of both. And yes, I am STILL sad about the quilt shop closing. It is not the same to have to go to JoAnn's for fabric or having to wait until I have time to do stuff like drive to Whitesboro)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

More big storms

So, I'm glad I planned out that alternate lab that can be done indoors now.

Late last night - maybe about 11:30 - we got another very big round of storms. Thunder and lightning, heavy rain, hail, all of that. I was awake, despite having gone to bed around nine, because the power went out very briefly BEFORE the storm hit, and a power outage shut off my white-noise generator, and the absence of sound is as noticeable to me as a loud sound is.

I don't know how long the outage was, probably not more than a couple minutes because while it un-set the clock I use as an alarm clock, it didn't mess up the programmable thermostat. When it came back I got up, re-set my clock, put the white-noise machine and the air filter back on.

Then the storm hit. More hail. I don't like hail; it always sounds like it's going to bash through something even when it's small. I told myself, "this is no big deal. It is small hail and you have screens on the windows so it will just bounce off the screens" until I remembered that the one window I had put the little A/C unit in never had its screen replaced. (Crud.). But apparently it wasn't bad enough to break a window, or, maybe it was that was an east-facing window and the wind seemed to be out of the north. (And yeah, the sewing room roof leaked again, like it does every time it rains and the wind is strong out of the north. I'm gonna have to get someone out.)

I peeked out the front door after the worst of it let up and it didn't seem like much had accumulated. I guess just north of me (up by campus here) they got it worse; driving in this morning some of the houses still had hail piled up in their front yards.

Eventually it let up and I got back to sleep - the storm was probably over shortly past midnight. (So the hail that was on the ground hung on from midnight to at least 7 am)

Also, the house a few doors north of me, their big old hackberry totally came down. Now that it's down, I can see that the heartwood was all rotted and crummy, which is why it came down. It looked like someone had already been there cleaning it up a bit and cutting it into pieces that could be hauled away, and further along, I saw several trucks of O G and E guys cutting branches and working to restore power....I guess I was lucky in that I got mine back so fast. (I don't think the neighbor's tree coming down had anything to do with the power outage; there are no lines near where it is lying)

I took the "alternate" route in because Wilson has started flooding a bit during and after heavy rain (construction in the area) and while it would probably never flood to the magic depth necessary to sweep away a car (shallow curbs and a drop off on at least one side), still, you never know when standing water is a warning that the foundation of the roadbed has been carved out, and I don't want to end up in a sink hole.

I had a few branches down but nothing big. Lots of leaves plastered all over the siding, I guess the wind was pretty strong at one point.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Making some decisions

* Sometimes it's a relief to say to yourself, "I don't have a dog in this hunt"and just not need to offer input unless specifically asked. We're discussing restructuring one of the gen ed classes, and it is a class I teach, but I don't have extremely strong feelings one way or another about it. I'll just modify the material I cover (cutting some stuff out, expanding other stuff) depending on what recommendation comes down.

(There is a push here - probably on all campuses - to make all sections of a multi-section class "exactly equal." (heh. Yes, they do store the professors' cutie marks in a big vault for the duration of the class....). You can't really DO that, because everyone is different and everyone teaches differently and frankly I am FINE with that fact because the way I, specifically, teach may be great for some students and awful for others, whereas my colleague Prof. Starswirl might be just what the students who don't learn well from me need. But anyway. The whole equalization process is somewhat tedious and I have more than once argued that if they want it EXACTLY equal, they pay one of us the "combat pay" that teaching a big, big section triggers, and they have one or two mass-sections of the class, and too bad so sad if they don't work with your schedule....)

But anyway. I don't have a strong opinion other than that I am not convinced I agree with the "students are oh so very much worse now than they were even five years ago" - I have some pretty good ones. There are always people who are apathetic or clueless, but the good students are as good as they've ever been. So whatever.

(I still maintain I wish I could get them to leave their bobdarned cell phones IN THEIR BACKPACKS for class. I think we'd have fewer clueless-seeming ones if they weren't constantly trying to divide their attention up.)

* The prairie conference I have (usually) attended in the past is in my parents' town this summer. So, free lodging (and board) if I decide to go. But: it falls in the next-to-last week of summer session. I thought about it, consulted my chair - because we still have the weird oogy "you're not supposed to leave the state if you're being paid" thing in place.  Even if you make arrangements for class to be covered, which I will. I CAN take a week of "personal days," which feels like tempting fate, but whatever. But it's too good an opportunity to pass up, ESPECIALLY if there is even the remotest chance I may have to go back on the job market some day.

So I bought train tickets today. I'll have to also move a check up at my doctor's but that should be fairly simple.

But what pushed me to do it is this: we have been told that if we don't get at least 10 in our summer classes, and we still agree to teach, we are paid at the adjunct rate, which is about half the professor rate. So I's not like I'm being paid that much for the week I will be gone. (And anyway: I am arranging make-up stuff, and may even pay a colleague to cover one of my sections for me)

I have something I can present and I can also meet with my former advisor over a paper we are working on together.

Oh my gosh

My friend has RALLIED and they are talking about moving her out of ICU and to a private room. She's communicative and the tubes are out.

This is fantastic, on Sunday there were a lot of teary-eyed people in church (she is very well loved and special to us) when we heard she was "being taken off the ventilator and they don't expect her to wake up."

Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday afternoon things

* Still no word. I had kind of been praying, "Whatever is best for this person, but You know how I *want* it to turn out" (that is: she gets totally better and has a couple more years of good-quality life at least) but I also recognize that what I want may not be what is best for her.

* Last lab in one class and I had to call someone out on a safety violation in lab. Something I've harped on for every week. It makes me tired and it makes me wonder how some of these folks are gonna make it in the so-called 'real world' if a simple instruction like my three or four Safety Rules isn't something they remember.

* Discussion today in faculty meeting about some of the challenges we've had with students. I didn't say, but wanted to, that I blame cell phones for part of it. I've given up harping on "DON'T TEXT IN CLASS" because for some people, I'd be stopping class every 10 minutes to call them out and that gets demoralizing for me (and for the students who ARE paying attention) quickly. The frustrating thing is that when the texting students come in and gripe about their grade, they don't believe me when I talk about how dividing your attention is a bad thing.

* Simple solution: make cell phone jammers legal for institutions like universities and hospitals and movie theaters. (I'm sure there's some unintended consequence I'm not seeing but in most of the rooms where I teach, it would be possible to step outside to make a call.)

* And no, I don't think that it's that I'm terribly boring and need to teach differently; EVERYONE I know who teaches who doesn't go to the extreme of making students leave their cell phones on the front desk or in a cubby complains of this. I dunno. I just hope it eventually sorts out, where people wake up and realize that (a) checking their friends' FB status updates is neither that important nor an appropriate classroom activity and (b) if they want to make something of themselves, they have to pay attention to life. 

* It's very humid here today and that is making me slightly cranky.

* I think a lot of my frustration (and maybe even some of my GI tract issues) this spring has come with the fact that a lot of the big things going on in my life are totally out of my control. If I'm worried about a looming deadline I have, I can manage it by working hard on whatever has to meet the deadline. If I feel stressed because I have a ton of grading, I take it home with me, sit down, and do it....when I feel like I have control I can juggle stuff, but when literally the only thing I can do is pray about stuff, I feel like it's all beyond my control (Well, it IS). But it's nice to have a few things you control.

Monday morning thoughts

* I wonder if any language has a word for that brief, pleasant moment upon awakening, before the things you were and are concerned about flood back into your head. (There are many of lists of "untranslatable" words on the Internet. One is here, another is here

* Because, yeah, no further news, and I'm in that unpleasant position of "Do you pray for a (nearly) miraculous recovery for the person, or do you pray for a peaceful passing?"

* We're back in a pattern of heavy, persistent rain. This is our rainy season but still. I'm having to plan a totally different lab (made from scratch) to teach some of the calculations about communities (diversity indices, for example). I bought a ton of beads (my own money; we have no  budget and no easy way to buy things on short notice) at the JoAnn's on Friday and will be making some artificial communities based on different colors and shapes of beads that the students will be sampling and analyzing. (The upside to the expense is that I will have that in reserve from now on and can use it any time that the logistics of going out into the field to collect the data for the lab becomes impossible). At least those "pony beads" are fairly cheap.

* I'm guessing the Saturday stomach thing was either a virus or some kind of weird food intolerance/food poisoning based on how much better I feel today. But, ugh. I hate this not-knowing what food is going to "betray" me now (if it's an intolerance). I wonder what people with many, many food intolerances do - just get something like those "Ensure" shakes and live on those? Take lots of vitamins and get calories from whatever they can possibly digest? Go on parenteral nutrition?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

a difficult year

I think that's just going to be how 2016 will be seen, once it's over.

Globally, big earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador recently. Lots of people dead in Ecuador; I am not sure about Japan.

And locally: the worst news is that my friend from church, the one who had abdominal surgery back in January, was rushed back to the hospital with a massive infection at the surgery site. I guess the doctors did what they could but as of this morning the news is "she's been taken off the ventilator" and not because they were certain she would get back to breathing on her own....her relatives have been called in. It's sad. Not unexpected, but sad.

Also, I'm still having some issues. I don't know if I have developed some kind of weird food intolerance (Red #40, maybe? That's the only thing I ate Friday I don't normally eat), or got food poisoning, or got one of the many little GI viruses running around. I work at 2 am Saturday to terrible lower abdominal cramping, and, er, the other thing that lower abdominal cramping usually comes before....I also felt nauseated but didn't throw up. That lasted a couple hours with cramps continuing for a couple hours after that. And I felt cold, so much so I put the heat up to 78, which is higher than I EVER let it go - and I was still cold. And eating was difficult, food really didn't appeal to me - I forced down a bowl of whole-wheat hot cereal, and when that stayed down, at noon I ate some applesauce and a little frozen yogurt that was leftover from my trip to Braum's earlier in the week. And at dinner I made rice and had some frozen raspberries but it was an effort to eat.

I was fearful at the time that it was Yet Another Flare of what I think is IBS, but now I feel much better today (if a bit tired and shaky) so I wonder if maybe it WAS a virus, given how fast I recovered and the fact that I was able to eat more or less normally today. Or maybe the probiotic I am now taking is helping me bounce back faster, I don't know.

But yeah, I'm ready for things to look up for an extended period of time.

I spent most of yesterday and today working on the gift-mitts for the colleague who is leaving.

Friday, April 15, 2016

for future reference

Mostly mine, but whatever. I FINALLY got the xkcd "Garden" thing to work (I guess its popularity had to die down in order for it to load for me) and I want to keep watching it, so my link to it is here

I have a cactus, so far. And a little tuft of grass. I tried to use a diversity of light colors and angles to see if I can get some different stuff.

ETA: And Garden 2,, with a different arrangement of lights.

UPDATE: Garden 1 has a deer! and a birdbath!

Hexagon quilt grows

It's bigger than when I last photographed it:

hexagon quilt

My goal is to eventually get this to double-bed size. I THINK, though I am not 100% sure, I am going to make borders for the top, bottom, and side, and applique it on to them, so binding would be easy. I admit I like the idea of it just being edge-to-edge, that is, with the sort of undulating edge formed by the hexagons but it would be tough to bind that way (both because of the almost-fractal nature of the crenellations requiring tons more binding to be made, but also the sewing-down of said binding would be enormously tedious). I don't want to just cut the hexagons off square at the edges. Maybe there's some way to do a "blind finish" without a binding, where I just sew them to the backing directly....I will have to look in some of my books and see what others have done.

Also, I mentioned being able to use tiny pieces. This pleases me as I see it as a way to preserve memories of fabric that is almost all used up. This piece, for example:

puppy fabric

The little dog fabric was one I had a dress of as a child. (My mom is a fabric-saver, like I am). She had a few tiny scraps of it and passed some on to me, so I was able to use a piece of the fabric in this quilt. Some of the other pieces in the quilt are from the tiny scraps left from quilts I've made. I enjoy doing scrappy quilts, maybe even more than more-planned quilts...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

feeling cautiously optimistic

Things seem to be settling down a little. At last night's board meeting, it turns out we have someone willing to fill the pulpit (at least MOST Sundays) throughout the summer and hopefully by the end of the summer we will have a regular interim, or even, dare I hope? a plan for a new full-time person. The only downside of our current arrangement - and the person filling the pulpit was very clear about this - is that some of the day-to-day ministerial duties are not getting filled (e.g., visiting people ) because he is employed full time elsewhere.

(An aside: those duties are why, despite my occasional thoughts that "maybe doing something like becoming a chaplain would be a good retirement activity for me," I would not be as likely to. As I've said before: I'm good with the God stuff, I can pray, I can teach, I can even preach a sermon. But the day-to-day people stuff, especially the conflict-resolution stuff ministers often get called in to work on: well, I want to run the other way from people who are arguing when it's an argument where there isn't a clear wrong side that can be convinced by evidence)

So it looks like we've won a few more months of something like stability. And maybe "a few months of stability" is the best we can hope for in this life. (We are told to pray "give us *this day* our *daily* bread," not "give us bread for the rest of our lives" or even "give us bread for the rest of this year," as much as I would like either one of those to be the case).

Also, there has been no more hinting of further cuts on campus so I am being optimistic that the cuts we've made, plus the early retirements coming up in the fall, are going to be enough. (And as I said: I'd tolerate a 10% or so pay cut if it came to that. And I'd rather just be told up front, "because of exigencies we are cutting your salary" and I could make my peace with that better than this polite fiction of furlough days, which upsets my rule-following instincts, because one rule of my life is "do grading as soon as you possibly can" but the rule of furlough days is supposedly "no grading because that's paid work."). But I am hoping no news is good news or at least neutral news.

I still don't know about summer; I have three in one class and zero in the other but often summer enrollment is slow and it's still early. The worst-case scenario is that I don't QUITE get 10 in each class and wind up teaching full time for adjunct pay. I told my chair I'd do it - the three in my one class apparently NEEEEEEEEED it to graduate, but I also told her that (a) I would not be happy about it and (b) this is probably the last summer I teach if it comes to that.

(A slightly better case scenario: a few people sign up for my one class, no one for my other class, and I teach just one class for adjunct pay but have more time to work on research and stuff. Best case scenario: each class tops out at exactly 10 and I get what the full summer pay is for this year [lower than last year but still])

It helps that my paper is really-truly and officially out (I had a link yesterday) and I printed out a copy of the .pdf and hung it up on the "faculty activity" bulletin board in my hall. (And yeah: I'm kinda proud of this little paper, even though going into it I didn't think there was enough to make a paper of the data, it actually turned out pretty well).  And having done my talk. I'm now back to prepping what I hope will be my summer research and preparing to shop the proposal around to a few of the smaller organizations I belong to (they don't have official grants program but at least one representative of one hinted they might bankroll me to the tune of a couple hundred dollars, especially if I come and speak to them some time about the research). And I'm almost done with that - just need to beef up my references a little but I have the plan of "how to do this" even down to "this is how I want to analyze the data." (Really, you should have that plan in place before designing the experiment. Thinking about the question first and then "what proof will it take to adequately answer it" should inform experimental design - I've seen too many cases where someone collected a mess of data and then wanted to try to shoehorn it into some statistical design, and it didn't work)

I also had a student come up to me after my talk and ask if I was doing more research in that area. Well, I hadn't planned any right away, but I also have a question and a simple experimental design in mind (comparison of mite populations in a couple forests vs. grasslands) that he could do, so if he does come and talk to me about summer research I can quickly put something together. If he doesn't? I can hang on to the idea and do it next year. Or do it with another student.

I'm also hopeful Opu-wise that things are better: I'm back to eating my normal diet again with no issues. I also started taking a probiotic that was recommended to me. (It's expensive, and you have to special-order it and then refrigerate it - it comes in a chilled packages). If it works to keep my stomach happy it will be worth every penny. If it doesn't work, I can just quit taking it when the 2-month supply runs out. It's entirely possible the issue though was the bad aftereffects of a virus, which were temporarily masked by the PPI (which is why I got better and then got worse again after stopping the PPI). It's also possible, I suppose, that I had a small duodenal ulcer (that was where some of the worst pain was) that has since healed up on its own - they sometimes do.

There really is nothing for your sense of gratitude like feeling better after you had been feeling bad. Life seems totally new now that I'm not coping with random abdominal cramps. I feel better able to get stuff done and more capable of managing. (I DO plan to clean up my bedroom well and look into getting a new light/ceiling fan put in; for one thing, when it gets really hot out it will be nice to have the fan)

Also, being back to working on the hexi quilt top makes me happy - every patch sewn in feels like a little achievement and it's fun to see the top grow. And it's fun to dig around in my scrap boxes and pull out oddments of fabric that I just have tiny pieces of - too small for most things but too big to just throw away - and be able to use them up. And it's just happy colors - red and yellow and turquoise and pink and lots of the novelty prints that I love so much. I was actually thinking yesterday afternoon, "I'll be a little sad when this is done and I don't have it to work on any more" but of course I could start another paper-pieced or hand-sewn quilt top. Or I could go back to more hand-quilting. (Even if I do track down another longarmer, this one is definitely getting handquilted, both because it's handsewn and I'm afraid some of the seams might not survive the extreme stretching that can happen on a longarm machine, but also because I think a quilt with that much laborious handwork should also be hand quilted)

I should photograph the top some time. It's grown a good bit since the last photo.

I also realized this morning that it's just under a month now before I get to go see my parents. I confess, I'm already thinking about what projects to take....this might be the trip where I work up the Moomin toy from the magazine a friend in the UK bought for me and sent to me (Hi, Bee, if you're reading this!). And maybe I bring the hexie mom said, "I found a bag of scrap fabric that I think was yours and that you left here" so there may be some good stuff in it I can use.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

And Wednesday morning

* POSSIBLY (I don't know if you need an institutional subscription/access) you can get my latest article as a .pdf file from here. As I said, I'm not sure people not linked into my state university's system can get it but I'm saving a copy of the .pdf so if you want it and can't, e-mail me and it will be no effort at all to send it on.

* I guess my talk went well. It was mostly my students at it (I had told them, as the topic touched on something we covered in class, this was one of those vanishingly-rare chances at extra credit if they came and summarized the talk.) There was a smattering of students from other classes in my department; I had to sign a few people's notes pages to prove they were there to the prof (who couldn't be there as she was in a lab).

There were a few of my colleagues (and one of them, the one giving a talk on Antarctica afterward, gave me a little shout-out because I had mentioned that tardigrades can survive in Antarctica) and a former (? I thought he had retired but I guess is still teaching) admin who said he enjoyed the talk.

I guess one thing I do today is update my CV - another paper and then this presentation can go on it. If I don't update as I do stuff, I forget things, and then it looks worse than it actually is.

* Even though I had seen my colleague's Antarctica talk before, I stayed partly to be polite but partly because I knew I wouldn't be good for anything for at least an hour after giving my own talk. And these things are never all that well attended.

* I also went to the previous talk (previous to mine), which was two Finance students talking about student loan debt and whether it's worth taking it on. (Conclusion: generally not, unless you are specifically going into a field where employment chances are excellent).

They also brought up an interesting point about how a lot of millennials are getting out of Master's programs or whatever and they wind up living with their parents because their debts are extreme enough that they can't afford housing/life in general AND pay off their debt.

And it strikes me: what I did at the time when I was in grad school - living with my parents - everyone then saw it as slightly eccentric but I was just doing the thing millennials are doing but in reverse: I lived with my parents, got room and board (they did not charge me rent and I only had to buy my own food if I wanted something vastly different and more expensive than what they were having, or if I went out to a restaurant with colleagues or something). I was a TA, which was good training for what I am doing now and which also netted me a tuition waiver and a decrease in fees. There was  a stipend, but it was small - it allowed me to buy the clothes I needed and a few balls of yarn (since I didn't have rent to deal with) but, had I chosen to live "out," I probably WOULD have had to take out a few loans, which I would now be paying back (though given my attitude towards debt, they probably would have been paid off well before now - I graduated when I was 30 and started working a couple months after graduating).

I am very grateful I didn't have debt for my education. That was rare enough 20-30 years ago when I was in school and it seems even rarer now. (I could go into a whole dissertation about what has caused college costs to rise but I will note that it's not cost-of-instruction, unless you include all the people who demand stuff like smart classrooms. And even then that's not where most of the raised cost goes. I could happily manage with a chalkboard and my own voice if I had to. I use the computer and projector because it's there and it's easier to project a photograph of the species under discussion than it is to describe it, and it's a better way of showing graphed data than trying to reproduce it on a chalkboard, but I really and truly could teach with just chalk and a chalkboard and I wouldn't do stuff like demand a smartboard and clickers and all those gewgaws)

And also: I recognize and own the fact that the reason I don't have undergrad debt is that I had an "inheritance" to pay for it. My dad took his share of the money from the sale of his parents' property and invested it - with the plan of using it to pay for my brother's and my educations. And his investments did very, very well (it was the 1980s boom, he pulled the money out largely before the bust in 1987 or thereabouts). So it was also my dad being generous (he could have spent the money on himself or on something like a lavish family vacation) that helped me to avoid debt.

And yeah, some would say that's "privilege" and maybe it is but that doesn't stop me from being grateful for my circumstances. (ALL my circumstances: I think the fact that my parents loved me deeply and cared about my developing into a decent human being (and therefore, disciplined when necessary) was a greater privilege than whatever money I had available to me. Privilege in the sense of giving me an advantage over other people)

* I fixed the errors in Raven last night. It was less tedious than I remembered and there is something *so* satisfying about being able to drop down to a mistake, fix it, redo all the stitches above, and then it's like the mistake *was never there*. Would that there were more things in my day to day life that were like that - that I could erase mistakes I made, or erase their effect.

I give another exam Thursday and will have to be more attentive to what I am doing so I don't create more errors, but as I said, I suspect it was when I was distracted by both invigilating AND dealing with abdominal cramps that I made the errors.

* My new/old Ponies (the G1 pegasusususes that I ordered from Etsy came). Very cute. And I do have to get a little shelf - I plan to put it up on the wall over the head of my bed - for these guys. I now have two Earth Ponies (Bubbles and Posey), one unicorn (and a SPARKLY unicorn at that: Star Hopper) and two Pegasi, one a Baby Pony - Baby Surprise and Heart Throb. I think that's a nice sized herd for someone who doesn't want to go TOO whole-hog into collecting.

I guess I really was "too old" for these the first go-round because I do think they were toys for children younger than I was then. But as an adult collector with a little case of 80s nostalgia, it's okay for me to have them.

* And yeah, sometimes I am kind of nostalgic for the 80s. Not so much that they were necessarily so great a time geopolitically, but they were a time when my life felt more secure in a lot of ways than it does now. And when I look back at some of the sitcoms, I am struck with how *wholesome* they are compared to what is on now. Discovery Family, back when it was The Hub, used to run ALF - which was a favorite of mine as a teen. And I was struck about how even the "edgy" jokes seem tame now. Discovery Family currently re-runs "Blossom," which I glanced at the other day - I didn't watch it as a kid. It's kind of interesting from the standpoint of "This is 'Amy Farrah Fowler before she became Amy Farrah Fowler'" but also, again, from the "wholesomeness" angle. (The episode I mostly-saw was about Blossom "becoming a woman" - in the sense of menarche - and the jokes were all fairly gentle and not-gross. The one slightly edgy joke - her father looking distressed when she made the "I'm a woman" declaration, because he apparently thought she meant she had become sexually active, was subtle enough that it might have gone over a younger kid's head. And his relief when she clarified was kind of funny and also kind of sweet, in an odd way.) And I'm sure some people back in the 80s thought that episode went too far. (Though as one of the young-teen girls who went through the very experience Blossom did, even though I was prepared for it as my mom had had "the talk" with me, I was still somewhat discombobulated.)

Also, the 80s were a time when the toymakers more or less stopped hating kids (or at least stopped hating kids like me) and started making some nice toys.

I also admit I find the technological world of the 2010s somewhat baffling sometimes. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love the internet - I would not be nearly as happy living here as I am without it, because I can find kindred spirits from miles upon miles away and I live in a town where I don't always feel like I have a lot of kindred spirits. But the pace of change and stuff like the constant drumbeat of social media are a bit crazy-making. And also the fact that the internet allows the dark, spiny underbelly of humanity to show to a greater degree than it did in the past. That alone makes me nostalgic for the 1980s, when there was no, "Look upon the comments section, ye not-so-mighty, and despair"

As I said once before: in a lot of ways my childhood will have more in common with that of the fictional Ralphie Parker of the 1940s than my niece's childhood will have with mine. (then again: the 1970s are closer to the 1940s than they are to now, which is a scary thought)

* I am thinking maybe, given the fact that I have a little cushion now (the tax refund), I need to get my rear in gear, clean my bedroom extensively, buy a new ceiling fan/light fixture, and hire someone to install it for me. It's been about a year since the motor on the fan burned out and I've been limping along since then with no overhead light, just a bedside lamp.

The biggest obstacle is cleaning my room to the point where I feel comfortable bringing someone in, to be honest. But maybe this is the summer of FIX ALL THE THINGS, at least until the tax refund money runs out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday morning things

* Today is my talk. I am less nervous this morning than I have been but I am also still hoping there isn't "that guy" at the talk (As in: "don't be 'that guy'") who wants to show his great intelligence and importance by asking some kind of jerk question that either I can't answer, or that makes me look stupid. (Like: correcting my pronunciation of the Latin names. I've looked up the ones that I've only ever seen in print and not heard, and I know the basic guidelines of pronunciation, but still). It's UNLIKELY but you never know at these public type talks.

I dunno. I was always taught, all through grad school, that if you have a question about someone's methodology or their background or one of their assertions, you catch them privately after the talk and ask them don't try to make yourself look big by making them look small in the talk. It's okay to ask for clarification or to say something like, "Johnson found X in his research, how does that compare to what you found?" (Provided YOU are not "Johnson," I've seen that too - someone hijack the questions section to make it about their research rather than the research just presented).

* I started the gift-mitts for our departing person last night. We have a time and date set for a farewell dinner and it makes sense to give them to her then. I have a month, almost, so I should be able to get them done.

* Working on Raven during an exam today, I found several places down in the ribbing where I made errors (knitted where I should have purled, etc.) I'm guessing they correlate with the couple exams I gave when my stomach issues were flaring up. I marked the worst of them using the stitch holder I had with me and tonight I'm going to drop each stitch down and correct it using a crochet hook. It will be tedious but I think it's obvious enough of an error (at least to me) that I want to correct it. And I know how to.

* My stomach (and intestines, which I think were really the organ involved) are still better today. My biggest hope is that it was just a virus that messed stuff up for a while (I have had that happen) and the reason I got better for a while in February was the acid blocker....and I will be better from now on. My secondary hope (if the first one isn't the case) is that this is some weird perimenopausal symptom and it either won't be every month, or, if it gets worse, when I go see my lady-doctor in May she can suggest something that will help it.

* I've been slowly adding back in foods I "suspected." IF it is a food sensitivity of some kind, it's neither garlic nor pesto - I found that the Kroger brand gnocchi (which used to be a favorite of mine but most have too much sodium) are low enough in sodium for me to be able to eat them, so I had gnocchi and pesto for dinner last night and was fine. (And yes, I know you can make gnocchi, and they're probably better, but I don't think I have the time for that). I also suspect onions but I'm going to give it another couple weeks before I eat anything very onion-heavy.

* My tax refund has reached my bank account. It's....sizable. (I donate a lot to charity and I also had some considerable capital losses in investments this year). Part of me says, "Take some of that and just go have fun with it, plan a day to actually get down to McKinney again" (If they ever finished their eternal construction or if I can find a non-75 route that isn't jammed with traffic) but another part says, "Put every penny of it into savings; you may need a new roof soon. Or you may find yourself furloughed for longer depending on what the Legislature does." So I don't know. Yes, I can do both but if I spend $300 or something on stuff I hope I don't regret that later on. (Still so much insecurity in what's going to happen with higher ed. If they cut our salaries and just TOLD us, "Yeah, there's gonna be a 10% reduction come fall" I could live with that and budget for it, it's not knowing what's going to happen, if departments are going to be merged or eliminated, what the new structure will be, etc.)

Other option is to buy a couple of those "1 foot square footprint" bookcases - I desperately need more book storage (or I need to get rid of books, but that's a lot harder to do)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Little purple alien

I finished the Oh amigurumi last night:


I used a smaller crochet hook than the pattern called for (US "G" is the standard size I use with worsted weight acrylic) so he came out a little smaller. The only really tricky part was figuring out his "ears" because it turned out I put the sweater on "backwards" relative to how the pattern wanted it, so his front became his back and I had to rip out and reverse the instructions. (I used a pattern from Screen to Stitch, the same designer who made the Baymax pattern I used).

I liked this pattern because you make all the "boring" little parts first, and then attach them as you make the body - this means when you've finished the crocheting, he is essentially done, and also you don't get the stiff "seams" from attaching parts by sewing.

Because he was smaller, I had to adjust the eyes - there is a pattern for the whites of the eyes in the pattern, but I had to cut it down. And I also used felt for the irises (instead of just embroidering them) and for the pupils (instead of lock washer eyes). The eyes are proportionately larger than the "movie" version of Oh, so he is a bit cuter. (Up to a point, bigger eyes = cuter.)

Oh is one of those annoying but strangely endearing characters - he's a bit of a pest, he thinks he knows everything, he's kind of literal-minded. (I need to rewatch the movie). I think Jim Parsons was probably the right choice of a voice actor for him despite my going "It's Sheldon Cooper, in purple-alien form" through much of the movie. A deeper or less-idiosycratic voice would not have worked so well.

(And I had a bit of a scare - Yahoo disavowed any knowledge of my existence and I had to re-log in to flickr, and at first it wouldn't let me in. I was concerned that maybe Yahoo dumped Flickr without telling any of us - I know they're in financial problems - but then when I tried my old Yahoo login, it worked, so....)

I also pulled out the long-stalled hexagon scrappy top this afternoon and added a few more hexagons and also cut some more out of fabric I had gotten/saved scraps of specifically for the top. One thing I love about these kinds of projects is that you can put them away for over a year (which is how long I didn't work on this) and pull them back out and start right up again where you left off. That's the best kind of hobby for a busy person - I did a little pottery when I was in school and I always think it would be fun to throw pots again and try to get enough experience to get really good at it, but that's not a hobby you can do for fifteen or twenty minutes at a go and then leave - you have to get the clay all conditioned and the pot thrown in one go, you can't leave it.

(Also: my stomach/abdomen is nearly 100% better today. I'm guessing the IBS stuff - if that's what it is - is cycle-related. Ugh, but at least I know it's unlikely something that requires immediate medical attention)

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Loving new pony

I have to say, the slice-of-life episodes are my favorites. I wasn't as fond of the Season Six premier (despite Sunburst*), but I loved last week's episode and this week's.

Last week's was an adaptation of the old Gift of the Magi story - Pinkie and her sisters have a family holiday where they each go off in pairs and have a fun day together (though somehow I cannot see Limestone enjoying that) and then at the end, they exchange gifts. And every year, Pinkie feels bad because Maud's gift seems to exceed hers. But this year, she has a plan: Maud has her pet rock, Boulder (who apparently talks to her). She needs a pouch to carry Boulder in. So Pinkie figured out where a rock pouch store was ("Baby clothes!" "This place has got everything!"). Then she finds it's CLOSED while the owner is on vacation. (I know that feel, Pinkie. Any time I have to go ANY distance to shop somewhere other than a large store, I either call or e-mail to be SURE they will be open, after having been burned a few times).

So Pinkie is back to square one and enlists Rarity's help....and still comes up dry. Until she sees a pony with the VERY pouch and approaches him for a trade. But Pinkie is a corn-fed pony from Ponyville (or a rock farm at some indeterminate distance from same) and this guy is a city slicker, you can tell from his accent and his gold tooth and his little scraggly mustache. (Had this been set in WWII Britain, one would almost call him a "spiv"). And he talks Pinkie out of her most beloved item, her Party Cannon.

(Maud does not do a similar trade. I suspect it's because it would be wrong for someone to trade away their pet....even if that pet is a rock).

Anyway, Pinkie gets slightly sad over the loss of her party cannon (not sad enough for her mane to flatten out) but eventually Rarity figures it out (after doing a funny bit of a Pinkie impression). Rarity is uncommonly bad at keeping secrets and she winds up blabbing to Maud....who then goes and stares down said spiv and gets the cannon back.

The lesson is a nice lesson, delivered by Maud herself: gift-giving isn't a competition. You choose your gifts with love, not to be "perfect" or "impressive." And she adds that she loves Pinkie's gifts, whatever they are, because they are chosen with love and because she loves Pinkie.

We also get to see Maud wink in this episode. It's a .....slow....wink. Maud would probably get on well with Tank.

Also, this is where the swan boats show up - there is a pink swan boat that's been being heavily advertised as part of the current Pony line. My guess is Hasbro comes up with the stuff they want to sell and then the writers find a way to work it into the episodes. (Though I admit Pinkie's shifty-eyed comment about how there were also "REAL swans that you can ride" slightly disturbing, because my impression of a Pony's size would put her as being considerably larger than a swan....also swans, at least human-world swans, can be kind of mean)

This week's episode featured the Cutie Mark Crusaders (now with 100% more cutie mark!) but first, two things:

BARBER GROOMSBY CONFIRMED AS SHOW PONY. (he is one of my favorite of the blindbags, and he is from a considerably earlier wave, so I wonder if the writers were like, "hey, this design is out there, let's use it" or if there was some kind of long-game going on when the wave he was in was released).

We also see Treehugger again in passing, as an artist's model. Which makes considerable sense to me. (In the human world, of course, artist's models for art classes do it in the nude, and I think Treehugger would be, like, totally okay with that.) Also there's at least a Warhol pony in there; I will either have to rewatch the episode or wait for EqD's followup to see what others I missed.

But I was happy to see Treehugger again. She's grown on me considerably as a character....

Bulk Biceps shows up again and made me wonder if his "dumbbell" cutie mark had less to do with his ability to lift heavy things and more of a....metaphorical.....meaning. (Both Dr. Whooves and Sunburst are now in line behind Big Mac as my "favorite stallion pony" and Bulk has dropped a bit in my regard)

There are really two morals at play in this episode. First: "You don't always have to do things together with your friends" which is probably the moral aimed at the kid-audience. Apple Bloom gets depressed when Scootaloo wants to go off and do Bungee jumping (too scary) and Sweetie Belle wants to try crochet (too boring). So she spends the day wandering around trying to find something SHE enjoys.

(Neat little observation here: Apple Bloom notes they have spent so long doing things to TRY to get their cutie marks, that they don't know what to do now that they have them. Scootaloo (I think it was) suggested doing things they WANT to do and Apple Bloom is stymied by that. Which is totally me at the end of a week when I've done nothing but stuff for OTHER people. Or, as I said to the tv as I was watching the episode, "Whoa, getting your cutie mark really IS like successfully defending a dissertation....")

The second moral is sort of along those lines. It's kind of like the old story about the Buddhist monk, who was asked by a novice, "What did you do before you attained enlightenment?" "I chopped wood and carried water." "And then what did you do after you attained enlightenment?" "I chopped wood and carried water." In other words: some of the big things you think will change everything really don't change a lot of things, they may just change how you react to things. And I can totally understand the CMC's disappointment in "is this all there is?" because there have been some adult milestones (the relatively few I've met) that had that feeling - successfully defending my dissertation, getting a job, getting tenure at that job, advancing to the highest promotion I can without entering the administration, getting papers published.....there's really no resting-on-laurels and I admit I don't even really do anything to celebrate a paper coming out rather than noting that it HAS. Because there's always more that needs to be done.

And another tiny moral, and one I probably need to take to heart: you don't need to be really good at something to be able to enjoy it. When Sweetie Belle shows up wearing her first-ever crocheted scarf, Scootaloo searches for a polite way to describe it, but Sweetie Belle breaks in and declares happily, "It's terrible! But I had fun doing it" and I tend to get far too hung up on what I am doing being "perfect" or at least "good" that sometimes I tend to squeeze the enjoyment out of things. It's been too long since I was a rank beginner at something, I think.

(And Rarity again shows a bit of snobbery, commenting that crochet is knitting's poor cousin. Rarity, they're both good techniques, they're meant to do different stuff and they work well for different things, you should know that.)

(*And yes, I am seriously considering modding the Dr. Whooves pattern to make a Sunburst. I have most of the colors I need already, I just have to decide if I'm willing to settle for him having a more orangey body or if I want to seek out and buy a more golden-orange yarn. Yes, I know I said I wasn't buying more yarn but acrylic is comparably inexpensive, it would be less than 10 bucks for body yarn for him - I already have the colors for his hair and hooves, and the felt I would need for his face and flank insignia. And I kind of love Sunburst, the pony wizard who (apparently) thought he was a Squib. To cross the fandoms a little...)

(Then again, looking at some of the fanart: those versions of Sunburst are very close in color to one of the oranges I have....and I kind of like him in that color. So I probably don't need to buy any more yarn for him)

Friday, April 08, 2016

Stuff I've done

* A couple weeks ago, a guy showed up to my office (as is typical of these things, five minutes before I had to leave for class). He said, "They told me in the office you were someone who could identify bugs."

So I kind of sighed and asked him what he had.

He handed me a piece of notebook paper. To which he had taped several bedbugs in different stages of development. (Luckily, they were dead, but still, my skin crawled for a while afterward). He said they were from his apartment.

I said, "These are bedbugs."

He said, "But I'm not getting any bites"

I said, "I'm really pretty sure those are bedbugs" and directed him to the local Extension Agent for assistance.

But yeah, my skin crawled a little for the rest of the day.

(I'm glad I ended my adventures in living-where-you-share-a-wall-with-a-stranger before bedbugs became a big thing)

(Edited to add: it's a LOT more fun talking to people who get dog-vomit fungus in their lawns and are freaked out by it. First, because most people are amused when I tell them that it really IS called dog-vomit fungus, and second, because it's harmless - it's just a decomposer and it won't hurt the lawn or garden)

* I washed my car over the weekend and by yesterday it was covered in fine yellow dust. So while I was gassing up the car, I wrote "pollen" in the dust on one of the fenders with my finger.

Yeah, I'm kind of a nerd.

* A recent comment I made on ITFF: "When everyone knows that SEMICOLONS are how Smart People write."

* This, from Twitter:

How I feel every time I pull a glass stir rod out of the drawer

(I kind of want to print that out and tape it to the drawer where we keep the stir rods)

Thursday, April 07, 2016

working on stuff

* The crocheted "Oh" is almost done; I'm to the point where the shirt/sweater thing gets attached (it was also made separately and it put on before you close up the head.) I am going to have to think about how you do the eyes: the pattern is written for lock-washer eyes, which I have, but it seems to indicate putting them on AFTER the head is closed (they have felt backings that are then sewn down, but the posts seem like they'd be too long). I will have to think about it. My inclination is just to use black felt for the pupils (and then sew the whole eye on after the head is done) because otherwise I'd have to figure out where to put the eyes on a not-fully-complete head. Anyway, sometimes even with the washers on the back, lock-washer eyes pull out of knitted or crocheted critters so maybe felt makes more sense. And I certainly have experience with making felt eyes from all the ponies.

* Childhood memory thing: I will probably rewatch "Home" after I finish Oh. One of my favorite things as a small child was if I had a toy of a movie or cartoon character, was watching that show "with" the character (I mean, my toy of it).

* One thing I need to do tomorrow or Saturday is practice my talk a couple times. I have a half hour to speak but have a sinking suspicion I'm going to have to cut stuff out: I have 25 slides but many of them are photos (including the couple of photos I took that were good enough).

I confess, I'll be glad when this is over. I'm nervous it isn't good enough but I'm telling myself that it IS, and reminding myself of some of the rather dismal talks I've heard places in the past and that I know my worst is best than some of those talks.

* I also want to get back to Starbuck now that I see I'm close to dividing for the sleeves. I do need to make more time to work on these kinds of things. And I also want to get back to the quilt that is in the frame some time.

* Hot water heater is still fine, and if anything, I turned the dial up a little TOO hot - though that's okay, I figure natural gas is fairly cheap (the "delivery fee" is higher than the fee for gas for me most of the "warm" months) and I can always adjust with cold water in the shower or places. And I feel reassured that the guy gave it a once over and said "Nope, it's not failing."

Also my gut is some better this morning; am now wondering if this is just something I'll have to schedule for every other month or so for the rest of my time as a (potential) Selene until I reach the stage of Hecate. (I had to look that up. I was remembering the three Fates as playing those roles but apparently not). Knowing what it is goes a long way to being able to cope with it.

* From the "oops, I did it again" files: Ponies in the Sun got a new batch of G1 ponies in, and I had been saying, "I would like to get one of the early-gen Pegasus to go with the two Earth Ponies and the unicorn I have." So now "Heart Throb" (a v. pretty pale lavender pegasus) AND a "baby Surprise" are on their way to me.

I really need to get a little wall-shelf for these; having the shelf be full will tell me, "No more early-gen ponies." (But it's so tempting and her prices are low because the "accessories" - the hairbrushes and stuff - are lost from them, though I don't really care about those)

And yes, I know: my petty oeconomising (to keep the British spelling, as the phrase was originally from a Trollope novel). But looking over my recent credit card statements: I really HAVE been "oeconomising" and I think I can spend a little on fun things that make me happy.