Friday, January 18, 2013


Now we've been back in the classroom for a little while, and I'm already caught in this vicious cycle of a daily schedule:

first-thing am: Lecture
immediately after lecture: Sometimes finally get a chance to eat breakfast, indulge in brain-candy in the form of email and facebook, then do stuff I really need to do like administrative items, lab supervision, sometimes student help, phone calls, etc.
lunch: Eat?  or meetings
after lunch: Sometimes lecture again, sometimes I attempt grading or manuscript writing or something more pressing like student recommendation letters
a while after lunch: Think something like, I should really start prepping lecture for tomorrow.  Instead write a problem set or put readings online or do something relevant that is not lecture prep.  Office hours. 
4 pm: Meetings.  Or grocery shopping.
evening: Home, workout, laundry, dinner
9 pm: Realize nothing is ready for tomorrow am, and work way too late getting something prepped

Right after I teach I am really not in the mood to get ready to teach again.  And then it gets late, and even if I get started I won't be done before I have to get home, and then I'm up late working.  And then I'm tired and even less inclined to work harder the next morning.

I am doing it to myself by having four lectures a week, but I really need that much time.  Says I.

It's Friday, and my brain can tell.  I finally got my flu shot earlier this afternoon, and I was sitting here a few minutes ago wondering why the hell my shoulder was so sore, trying to remember what I did yesterday that would make it hurt.

Next week: try to prep lecture in the afternoon, and go to bed by midnight.  New Week Resolution.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

current states

We have a new system at work, wherein the files I save to my desktop while connected to the campus network will be available on the desktop of the classroom computer when I log in.  This is nice, in that I don't have to keep track of a usb stick, but I'm a little bit displeased by the fact that the students will get to see my computer desktop every time I exit out of my powerpoint to show a video or website.  So far, I've attempted to clean things up prior to each class period, and to at least put things into folders when they have students' names as part of the file name.  I should experiment with limiting display settings, but that seems irritating since any changes made in the classroom will be reflected in my office. 

Which leads us to right now: I still don't have a lecture ready for my 9 am class, but my desktop files are super organized.

I have two students doing serious directed research this term, the kind that will hopefully be publishable.  One is doing part of a local study that they helped to design, the other is helping me with the lab portion of an external collaboration that involves foreign samples.  Both are great students, but hey, undergrads need supervision and direction, so I have already spent a lot of time in the lab with them over the first few days of the term.  It's been a while since I've had two students at a time doing work that actually needed to be reproducible (read: actually working on lab work that is part of MY research), not to mention that one is working with samples that can't be replaced, and I admit that I kinda forgot how much time it takes for me to be as available as I need to be.  It's great, and I like that I'm forced to spend time in the lab, but today I didn't have time eat lunch, so I will probably have to reevaluate how this is going to work from a scheduling standpoint.

The theme for this week: busy.  Back to lecture writing.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

bad signs

First weekend of 2013.  So far, this year is not my friend.

-Back problems continue (damn you body, behave now that I have permission to stop paying doctors).  
-I'm already a bit daunted by this term's "to do" list, which includes two full-time research students, some upcoming manuscript deadlines and a class that I'm reorganizing significantly. 
-Partner was called in at 3:30 am last night, and then went in again at 10 am.  He will probably be on call a lot over the next few months, so I hope this 3:30 am thing is not going to continue. 
-Our oven decided to go crazy while I was making dinner this evening; some research reveals that it was actually recalled in 2009, but even the recall fix might not solve the problem (if the citizens of the internet can be trusted) so we're better off buying something else anyway. 

Maybe time for a New Year's resolution after all: don't complain too much on the blog. 

I'm also commissioning a small table (via Partner's carpentry skills) to put on my desk at work, to accommodate my laptop and mouse as a standing desk.  I have a kneeling chair in there already, but that becomes a bit much for the shins after a few hours.  Let's see whether I can stand while writing; if so it might be a nice third option for the office. 

2013, you are welcome to improve at any time.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


New Year's was a bit of a non-event around here - we spent a nice evening with some friends but went home early, because we are old and lame like that.  We watched the ball-fall-rerun and went to bed.  Now I'm having a hard time remembering that it's 2013, though I suppose it's only been a day so I shouldn't feel too bad.

I spent xmas at my parents' place, and Partner stayed here because his work schedule didn't really allow for a long trip to another part of the country (though a friend recently referred to this as "Partner got to stay home").  As usual, all the old irritations of family became dominant after about a week, and yet I stayed longer than that, so by the end it was nice to leave.  My family is composed of largely unhappy people (not everyone, and not all the time, but dominantly), and I have a hard time with the things that drove me nuts as a teenager yet are still there (like my sister's complete disregard for my parents' needs), so there is usually tension.  I'm glad I went, but maybe next time it will be a little shorter.  This was the first time I hadn't spent xmas with Partner yet was not doing field work, so that was a little strange as well.

Now I have a lot of unfinished stuff to do and unresolved things around the house, so somehow I'm not feeling the "clean slate" relief of a new year.  I'm not really one for resolutions, though.  This year, my primary goal is to try to do that thing they always tell me to do in yoga but to which I never listen: don't push myself too hard.  Physically, in this case, since I was just told by my chiropractor yesterday that I am now ready to "play it by ear" and come in when I feel like I need to.  This is a big step, since only a few months ago I was in that office three times a week and still in pain a lot of the time.  So I need to not jump immediately back into my old workout routine with its high-impact activities, and I need to be ok with modifying things I used to do, like yoga and weights.  This makes me feel old, and weak, but the absence of pain is a great motivator (and so is the large chiropractic bill I just paid).

 Even without a clear mental transition, I feel like 2013 will be about moving forward mentally - maybe because I'll be turning in my tenure materials, maybe because I hope to be past all this physical stuff.  Hopefully it will be good, either way.