Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I've been twittering a bunch lately, but I feel like writing in actual sentences. Not sure I'm up for paragraphs, but we'll see what happens.

Driving to campus today I wasn't sure what music to listen to. I ended up choosing a Chinese disco/house CD that I got a few years ago and which I've barely listened to. The lyrics, to the extent that there are any, are mostly in English or Spanish. The mix is kinda hyper and treble-ey, but it actually seemed to fit the day somehow. While driving in, I saw an eagle soaring high above the road. Always an impressive sight.

The reality of the financial slump/recession/depression is gradually becoming more real. I hear and read more and more stories of difficult times. Things aren't so terrible at COA, but nevertheless, times are tight. We're short faculty, and it looks like we'll continue to be short faculty for next year and maybe even the year after that. There's not much to be done, although maybe there are at least a few things that can be done, but I'm not sure anybody is doing them.

I had some skull-crushingly frustrating meetings today. But I had a good class and some good student meetings. And I'm working on a grant proposal that is feeling a little unwieldy at the moment. I really wish I were a faster writer.

Tomorrow we are supposed to get 4-8 inches of snow, followed by a bunch of rain. Splendid.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Random Bullets of Stuff

Minimally motivated to post a blog update, but not motivated to write paragraphs. So, random bullets:
  • I did a fair amount of grading this weekend, but I should have done more.
  • All three of our cats have had colds. Apple and Monster are mostly over theirs. Ancho is still in the midst of his. His sneezes are quite impressive.
  • For some reason my eyes are goopy and very itchy right now. It's pretty annoying. I hope I don't have the cats' cold.
  • Today was a mini-thaw. It got up to 42 degrees, and it almost smelled like spring for a little bit. Lots of slush.
  • The birds at our feeder must have smelled spring, too, since they were chirping much more than usual.
  • But now the slush has frozen and there are many slippery, icy spots on roads and sidewalks.
  • The extra light in the afternoon is very noticable. Spring is still months away, but at least it's getting light later.
  • The moonrise this evening was amazing.
  • I'm drinking a Fin du Monde. Delicious. A nice change from Dogfish Head.
  • We've eaten well this weekend. On Saturday I made a tasty spinach salad and a pasta dish with roasted onions and chard. Today Doreen made a slightly weird but excellent minestrone-like thing.
  • I'm not quite ready for the week. Hard to believe we're at the half-way point of the term.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Miscellaneous Musings

  • I've been writing lots of letters of recommendation for students applying to do summer research somewhere. I often go to the web page of the deparment or institute that will be hosting the students. There are usually a few pictures to go with the website, designed, presumably, to encourage good students to apply. The pictures for field biology programs are usually from some scene outdoors, often quite scenic, and most of the time with some animals being studies: perhaps birds of lizards or something. The biomedical program's pictures involve some combination of lab coats, microscopes, beakers, and pipettes. The math department pictures? Well ... not so hot. Sometimes it's a few people sitting at a table. Other times it is a posed shot of last year's students, usually taken in front of a blackboard.

  • My spell-checker wants to turn the word "combinatorics" into "dominatrix." Accepting this change would surely make my letter more interesting, but probably not in a way that would help the student who is applying.

  • Speaking of spell checking, there is one undergrad research program web page on which the city in which the university resides is spelled wrong.

  • And finally, a non-letter-of-recommendation-writing observation. Last night I was reading a quite interesting research paper by, I would guess, a non-native English speaker. The author meant, I assume, to say "manipulating the parameters, we obtain ..." Instead, he wrote, "mangling the parameters, we obtain." Awesome.