Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Student failing my class: "Can I pass if I turn everything in on time from now on?  Do I have to get A's, or is it ok to get C's and still pass?"

Me: "Do you think you will actually turn in everything on time from now on?"

Student: "Yes!"

Me: "Ok, well have you started writing the paper that's due on Friday?"

Student: "No"

Me: "Then I think it's probably not realistic to say that everything will be on time from now on"

Credit for optimism?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

snow redux

Today I walked to work, since shoveling is forbidden to me and I wasn't sure my car would manage.  It was actually really nice in the morning, in that quiet that snow brings, but the afternoon slush/plow remnants/wind was not as enjoyable.  And then three of my students didn't show for my once-per-week small class.  WTF students, I know you live on campus and/or in town, and I made it, so you can too.  Especially by 1:30.

How is February almost over!?  Last year I would have been prepping to return to the states; it's hard to believe it was a full year ago.  I'm not ready for March, though it will begin with a wedding that should be a lot of fun.

Treadmill is here, and Partner spent his one shoveling-free evening putting it together, so now I hope to get a little bit more active when I'm not just walking to work.  The new question of the day: will tomorrow bring a discussion of snow-blower purchases?  I'm suspecting this might be the next purchase, now that I'm broken and the shoveling is a one-guy job.

Also!  That controlled elliptical experiment proved a huge failure: back to the chiropractor I went.  Sad, but knowledge is power, I guess. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013


So, grant submitted, manuscript yet to begin, and the realization that if both grants I'm involved in come through this year I'm going to have way more work to do than I can probably handle (a good problem?  an unlikely problem?   both, I guess).

Today I had my first consultation with the physical therapist.  No useful information as of yet, but I'm scheduled for the real therapy thing next week.  Also, I'm finding that working with multiple medical professionals is actually a huge pain in the ass.  My chiropractor tells me I shouldn't use an elliptical ever again, whereas everyone else thinks it's fine.  My physical therapist just told me never to take steroids, whereas everyone else thought it was a great idea (and, arguably, it helped).  At least they all agree that I should be fixable and that the MRI was a good idea.  They also all seem to agree that crunches are useless and actually bad for you in terms of lower back stabilization.  Who knew.

After almost two weeks of doing nothing, today I tried a little low-ramp, low-resistance elliptical work followed by easy back extensions - the PT take on those activities made me think it would be ok, plus I'm going nuts waiting on the "safer" treadmill, so we'll see how I feel tomorrow.  Hopefully no worse, especially after icing all evening post-"workout". 

And now, blizzard time - tomorrow I may just walk to work, since I'm not supposed to shovel and I don't think my car will make it out if we do get the projected snowfall.  Poor Partner, it's a bad time of year to be the only functional body in the house.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

ups and downs

Recently, the ups:

- Received chocolate by mail as thanks for writing recommendation letters for an alum
- Was invited to a current student's wedding
- Got some research done
- My two research students are kicking ass
- Finished my grant proposal
- Had an MRI and I get a copy of the images sometime soon (this is awesome.  I am excited to see them)
- Finally got a DIAGNOSIS for my back issues
- Bought a treadmill, which will make my current need to cut back on high-impact exercise much more bearable

The downs:

- Was diagnosed with a small disc protrusion, and will now be on meds and physical therapy for a while
- Had a student twist an ankle during a field trip.  Not great, for the student or for the productivity of said field trip
- Treadmill won't be here for another week, and I'm basically banned from all other activities
- Need to get started on a manuscript for a project with bad emotions involved, so I'm not motivated
- Need to get a lot of other work done, which is also not happening right now
- Got some bad news about the health of my father-in-law

February has been a little dramatic - lots of meetings, lots of doctors' appointments, lots of frustration.  Lots of waiting, which is probably the worst part.  Also all those warnings about what my field work would eventually do to me: yeah, they were right.  I'm just waiting for that skin cancer prediction to come true, and then I'll be a complete stereotype. 

Still, feeling remarkably optimistic.  Knowing exactly what's wrong with you can actually be really uplifting. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013


The most productive work I did this weekend was grading, and running a review session.  But, I also spent all of Saturday getting tax return documents together and cleaning my house, so I'm still feeling pretty accomplished just because of the "home life" stuff I managed to finish.  I also pressed "place my order" on a treadmill purchase, which is a little bit stressful only because living here in podunkville the best I could do was to go look at a sort-of-similar model by the same company and then order what I wanted online.  I'm hoping it arrives in a fixable state.

This is the current culmination of my ongoing battle with my spine: new chiropractor, new advice, and an "almost no exercise" edict that I know I can't live with.  We've thought about getting a treadmill before, and it was my dedication to my elliptical that ended that discussion.  Now that the new chiro is pushing the idea that the elliptical itself might be part of my problem, I'm going to try this "walking only" thing and hope I can build back up to weights and squats and maybe a little bit of elliptical time.  I might go insane in the meantime, but at least winter won't keep me from moving, and Partner will have an at-home workout option too.  The primary trick is going to be finding a place to put the damned treadmill, even with its folded storage option (I'm hoping to keep the elliptical, despite the fact that it sits in the only good space we have for a piece of workout equipment, since maybe I will get to use it again sometime in the not-too-distant future when I'm no longer broken.  Overly optimistic?).  

Otherwise, same old.  This term my students seem to be either superstars with high A's or slackers who don't turn in any of their work.  Seriously, I've never seen so many kids in a mid-level course who just do nothing, including failure to sign in just ONCE to our online course management system, which in theory they would have to do to access the readings.  Tomorrow is Exam 1, so I'm sure it will be more than obvious soon enough.