Thursday, February 23, 2017

winter escape

As much as I hate the sound of an alarm clock in the morning, it is my fate in life to need one. I sleep like the dead.  Sir Isaac Newton understood me.  He asserted that a body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force (hence, the alarm clock was invented…for me).  On days when there is no place I have to be and nothing in particular that I have to do (at least until late afternoon), I don’t set the alarm at all.  If I wake up early (say before 9 AM), I’ll go right back to sleep.  If I wake up and it’s after 10, I’ll force myself to get up (or pick up my iPad and be a lazy-ass for a while).

Last weekend, with no alarm clock set, I woke up and checked the clock.  It said 9:11 (it’s a digital clock). I ordered myself to go right back to sleep – 9:11 would be a very unlucky time to do anything, especially get up.  Nothing has changed my perception of the world more than the tragedy on September 11th.  Terrorism was something that, even though I knew it happened in the world, it was not in my world.  We had the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and I remember the pictures from the first responders, and especially the one of the fireman carrying the little baby (Baylee was her name).  But Oklahoma City was far away, and it was a one-time event with finite people involved who had a specific ax to grind.  Not only that, in 1995, I brought two babies into the world.  With three kids to look after, there was already plenty to consume my every waking moment. 

iconic photo - Oklahoma City

September 11 was different.  All my girls were in school.  It was a typical Tuesday morning at work.  I was involved in a long conference call when I began hearing people all around me (we were in cubicles then) talking about something on the news.  Nobody seemed to be working and it was something bad, I could tell it by the tone of their voices.  It didn’t stop.  Something was going on.  I had never dared bring up a nonwork-related web page while at work, not even news, but curiosity got the best of me.  As soon as my call ended, I started visiting news sites to see it all unfold just after the second plane hit the towers…I did nothing but watch the horror all day, into the evening, and the days after.  Someone and people in his office did the same.      

My world has never seemed as safe as it was before 9/11.  The reality is that with all the extra checks and surveillance in place, it’s probably more safe now than it ever was.  It seems like there is just way more intense hate being spread among larger numbers of people these days.  Hate and violence, evil and crazy. Is this the result of overpopulation?  Could it be a consequence of technology, which has given us collectively too much free time on our hands, ability to collaborate more easily with like-minded people, and capability to do higher levels of damage to others?

Tomorrow, FRIDAY, I am not on campus for any classes.  The weather is predicted to be sunny and temperature of mid 70s.  Is this really February????  My daffodils. Snowdrops, and irises have exploded into bloom.  The maple trees have their red leaf buds.  Bradford pears in our neighborhood have blooms already.  Our apple and cherry trees still look dormant, thankfully, but the weather is supposed to be warm all weekend.  If they get their buds, surely they’ll be frozen like last year…and like last year, no fruit this year. 

I’m taking my kayak to the lake tomorrow - thank you Mother Nature (or global warming).  Adventure and escape from the real world – these are a few of my favorite things.   

Our backyard - a few weeks ago  

Thursday, February 16, 2017


This week has been wonderful.  For no apparent reason, out of the blue (so to speak), I’ve come to the most bizarre realization that I love my life.  Is it unusual to have walked on this earth for so many years without having that kind of thought clearly in one’s brain?  It’s not that I’ve been ungrateful or dissatisfied…or maybe I was, or perhaps just not as grateful or happy with things as I should have been.

For now, World, I’m delighted to be here.  Thanks for putting up with me. 

It has been a good week, really.  We had Valentine’s Day this week.  Someone and I never exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day, but two of my students surprised me with little gifts of chocolate.  I mean that literally – BIG surprise - I didn’t think things like that ever happen in college.  One student gave me a small heart-shaped box of chocolate.  Another gave me a home-made chocolate candy treat that she made herself – it was amazing!!!  How very thoughtful of both of them to even think to give a gift to me. 

So, in my last post, I was all excited about watching my UK Wildcats play basketball against Florida.  The Cats totally sucked that night and we lost – it was a HORRIBLE game.  We have won two games since then, but I won’t be getting too excited about any future games.  It’s just bad luck. 

Having said that, I’m going to circle back to loving life.  Is it bad luck to say that things are just perfect lately and I hope it lasts?  I think it is.  Perhaps invisible delight is better than exuberant glee in cases like this.  I will remain grinning on the inside and poker faced on the outside.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

girly girls

It’s a good day.  I woke up early this beautiful, crisp Saturday morning, not by way of an alarm clock or cat, or dog, or husband.  Completely on my own volition – it’s a marvelous thing – getting to decide when I want to wake up and get up.  And now, I’m writing a blog post because I want to. 

But yes, there is plenty to do today (always?).  I have assignments to create and assign for my students at University #1.  I must complete configuration of a new classroom for University #1 to be opened tomorrow for students who start a 12-week class on Monday.  And then, I have six online classes for University #2 that also begin on Monday.  I need to update the course calendar for them, and send out welcome messages.  All routine stuff, but I like doing it.  As of Monday, I will have 10 classes on three different schedules covering seven subject matters.  I like challenge. 

One of my students is legally blind.  She has been able to cope well so far, but we have not launched into anything she is not already familiar with.  She magnifies her computer screen and scrolls around to find things.  I have to be mindful not to go too fast because it’s harder for her to find things on the screen.  In my new 12-week class that starts Monday, I will have a student who is profoundly deaf.  She has a cochlear implant, but she still doesn’t hear well.  The student resource person who notified me of her issue sent a link to a YouTube video so that I could understand how she perceives sound.  It’s worrisome – she hears as if she’s swimming under water all the time.  She relies on reading lips, but in my classroom, the instructor’s station is on a long table pushed against the wall.  My screen is projected to two walls.  In effect, when I’m showing the class how to do something, my back is to the class and I talk to the wall.   I can move the monitor and keyboard to face the class (though the tables are very narrow and it will be uncomfortable for me with my elbow against the wall, given that I’m right handed, and my notes in my lap because there will be no space to lay them. Even with that, it will be impossible for her to sit close and have her hearing ear directed toward me.  The room is just not configured right.  If we were meeting on the newer campus, there would be no issue.  Another challenge.

Emily stayed in Morehead this weekend because she was not given any hours to work.  Her boyfriend drove over to be with her…of course…they are very tight these days.  I was a bit relieved that they did not get engaged over Christmas.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with him, only that they are both young and should get farther along in their lives and plans before committing.  Out nest is truly empty this weekend.  It seems odd. 

Yesterday, I volunteered to act as a judge at a regional science fair.  That was FUN!  I’m a closet science geek anyway, so there were plenty of interesting things to look at.  Three other judges and I evaluated projects submitted by students in 6th through 8th grade, on topics related to math, engineering, and computer science.  Most of the projects were interesting, but I will tell you about the little girl’s project who won our category.  She had created an eco-friendly air conditioner using a piece of ply-wood cut to fit a window, with holes drilled in it, and cut-off plastic 2-liter pop bottles stuck through the holes.  The board is placed in a window so that the large end of the bottles face out – the idea is that as air comes through, it compresses and cools.  She recorded five trials showing that room temperature cooled two to nine degrees over a 90-minute period.  The main reasons that she won were because she had a clear objective and hypothesis statement, and was able to explain the science of her experiment better than the others.  She got her idea off the Internet:  people in poor areas of Africa use this invention to cool their huts.  What I LOVED was her display – all girl.  Pale pink board with the main lettering in iridescent silver, and rhinestones glued around all of the important scientific and procedural information that was glued to the board.  Clearly, she spent a lot of time bedazzling her display.  We asked all of the entrants if they had a career objective during their interviews.  She blushed, and said she wants to be a ballet dancer when she grows up.  Of course she does!  Little girls usually want to be a princesses, dancers, or movie stars.  Her project will advance to the state science fair next month.

So now, it’s time to commit this post to the blog, and get to work on things.  University of Kentucky plays Florida tonight, and I want to watch it.  College basketball is an exciting sport.  In last Tuesday’s game, I gave up on UK midway through the second half.  We battled back and the score got really close.  Monk scored a three in the final seconds to tie the score, and then we won in overtime.  It was a nail-biter!  

Monk, Fox, and Briscoe - amazing!