Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Meme

I found this one here, and had a hard time finishing what I needed to do earlier today and not procrastinating to do this first.

Summer or winter? Winter
Hugs or kisses? Hugs
Favourite desserts? Mmmmm Deep dark chocolate Mousse, hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, creme brulee but only in Paris. The secret recipe Cheesecake...
I’m most likely to... stay up late
I’m least likely sit-coms
What book are you reading now? “Storm Front” by Jim Butcher
What is on your mouse pad? I have a track pad, it is the same color white as the iBook it is in.
What did you watch on television last night? X-files
Favourite sounds? Wind-chimes, rain, nightingale
Least favourite sounds? Babies crying, cat fights, car alarms
Rolling Stones or The Beatles? I have very high regard for the Beatles, but, The Rolling Stones!
What is the furtherest you’ve been from home? Latvia, or maybe Rome, which is farther?
Do you have a special talent? I am told “procrastination, and inducing it in others” by one and “finding male kitten testicles” by another, in truth, I think Turning Out Streetlights, a talent that I had though left me a couple of years ago, but which seems to be back with a vengeance.
Where were you born? Northern California
Who do you miss the most? Real Mountains, Thai food, fresh fish
What colour shoes are you wearing? I am barefoot
What was the last thing you ate? Singapore My Fun
What are you listening to right now? Law and Order on the TV, sorry to say. Not a common thing.
Favourite smells? Sandalwood, Nag Champa, Patchouli, sautéing mushrooms, wood fire in the fireplace, fresh baking bread, garlic in almost anything
Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? Noelle
Hair colour? dark brown with silver wings
Eye colour? green gray blue
Do you wear contacts? no
Favourite food? Sesame noodles, rare grilled steak, Caesar salad as I make it, Green curry, fatty tuna sashimi, Uni, Salmon raw, cooked... whatever. Lobster, Dungeness crab fresh caught then cooked fast....
Scary movies or happy endings? Scary
Last movie you watched? Blade Runner Final Cut
What colour shirt are you wearing? turquoise
Were you named after anyone? no
When was the last time you cried? Today, reading a story about a cancer patient’s thoughtful and orderly suicide.
What is your favourite lunch meat? Good roast beef, hard to find, my own roast turkey, from the store... maple ham
If you were another person would you be friends with you? probably
Do you use sarcasm a lot? no
Do you still have your tonsils? no
Would you bungee jump? yes
What is your favourite cereal? Lucky Charms
Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? No
Do you think you are strong? YES
What is your favourite ice cream? Dve Caramel Toffee Moment, and Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip (not together)
What is the first thing you notice about people? Their eyes, their appearance of fitness
Red or pink? Red
What is the least favourite thing about yourself? Fatness, disorganization

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inauguration

It is a beautiful, cold and snowy day here in Ohio. I stayed late at home to watch the inauguration.

High points for me:

Aretha Franklin singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” I was wiping my eyes.

A quartet consisting of Itzhak Perlman on violin, Yo Yo Ma on cello, Garbriela Montero on piano and Anthony McGill on clarinet playing a piece by John Williams that refered to other American classical music, most notably Aaron Copeland. How wonderful to bring classical music back into a spotlight.

Poet Elizabeth Alexander on being asked about why Obama chose to have a poem for the ceremony “He has said the precise and distilled and mindful language of poetry is perhaps something that can create a moment of meditation for us”. Again, we have evidence of the restoration of thought, scholarship, and the arts to our leadership.

Her poem:

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.”

Exerpts from Obama’s address that particularly impressed me:

“We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

“For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.”

“Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.”

“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”




I hope that we turn from sloth, selfishness, greed, and thoughtlessness to a future in which we move forward, improving the world and ourselves together.

Achievement, Responsibility, Compassion, Sustainability, Freedom, Peace

“In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.”

Today is a good day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year's Musings 2009

I could have been a pretty good scientist. I am smart enough, and I have a good concept of scientific method and experimental design. I can work very hard when the occasion arises, I have done 36 hour experiments with pleasure. I love finding out new things. My teaching load and lack of resources makes being an outstanding scientist nearly impossible.

I can be a very good teacher. When I have motivated students, I am good at advising and presenting material in new ways. Those students that I have interacted with who have gone on to become very good scientists in their own rights I am very proud of. That means you, Diana, and Anna, and Rob, amongst others, though only one of you may ever read this. You have done well, you are smart, you will contribute to the body of human knowledge. I wish I reached more students with potential.

I might have been a good mother, that possibility is gone by the wayside naturally, and I am not inclined to ever adopt. I appear to be missing some essential social skills or attributes or opportunities to have achieved that. I like men. The feeling does not seem to be mutual.

I might have been a good lover/wife/companion to someone. I seriously doubt that I ever will be. I have rarely even dated in my life. I have had what, a half a dozen sex partners? Only one did I love, and all of that is in the very distant past. I have had the pleasure of any number of love interests, but only one or two reciprocated in any way, and those were not truly possible.

I could look great (for my age). I have good bones, decent genes and I really like to work out. I have often thought that one could spend much of one’s life at the gym, perfecting the body, leaving to read or party. Unfortunately, I really like to eat. I’m a good cook. I am terribly subject to continuing doing whatever I’m doing. I can sleep and eat and read books for days and days. I can work out and watch my diet too, but I have to get started. My schedule for the last year has interfered withy my normal gym habits. My schedule this term is finally light. Yay! Maybe I can get back into good habits.

I could have been an artist perhaps, or even a poet, but my heart is truly in science, and you know, you can make a living with science.

I am an overworked professor. Most of my students hate me, I neglect my grad students. I WANT to teach well, I WANT to be a perfect mentor. Unfortunately I have trouble with prioritizing, am a slow grader, and have a workload unimaginable to my scientific colleagues. And, you know, I am just not a type A person. I am not terribly competitive, I like my personal time, I am watching Star Wars and drinking a light margarita as I write this. I have a lap full of cats. I should be cleaning, or working on revising lectures for the classes that start in 2 days. But there is lovely snow out, Star Wars is on, the cats are warm, and I am comfortable.

I am tenured, my job is secure. My cats love me. I reach the occasional student. Already I have perhaps effected more people in a positive may than the vast majority of people ever do. Hopefully I have not discouraged more people who would otherwise not have been discouraged and who had potential. I like teaching, particularly early in the term when I still believe that ALL the students can succeed and do well. Being single, my life is my own, I can pretty much do what I want.

I really have a good life.

I am not one who makes New Year’s resolutions, but, with the light schedual I have finagled this term, I hope to do more research, get back into shape, and work more with my research students.

Here’s to the New Year! (and we have a President I have hopes for, and lovely lovely snow)

All is well.

All will be well.