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One of my colleagues here started an October alt-commute climate change challenge. Any day in October that someone does anything other than drive to campus (walk/bike/bus), it's possible to earn points. This makes me more than happy. I've wanted to start up an alt-transit support group anyway, and now I don't have to! It's a great starting point for getting our small college set up to participate in the regional bike commute challenge next spring. Strength in numbers!

Oh, even better, there will be bonus points for bicycling in a costume. The colleague who started this is someone who started here at the same time that I did and who I was pretty sure was awesome. Now it's even more clear that yes, she IS awesome.

Days are getting shorter now, so I'm on my bike in the dark a lot. I want to add more fun lights to my bicycle, and have been trying to think about what might be the best way to go. In the past, I've added fairy lights, but in general those lights aren't designed for bicycling. One set started to scratch Froinlavin's paint, they tend to wear down and break after a while, and the battery packs typically aren't configured for attachment to a bicycle or for rainy weather.

Then I got to thinking: wouldn't it be funny to add a light-up sign for one of those tech companies that's trying to "disrupt" the taxicab industry? It would just be hilarious to roll past someone who is waiting for their vehicle, to see their facial expression. "Hi! I'm your _____ Driver."

More realistically, maybe I should figure out some Halloween-themed bike lights.

Also I should probably add some port/starboard bow lights to Frodo.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1325877.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Oh students

Today has been a day of lots of different kinds of student interactions, from The Professor Is In - type work to helping students find typos in their R code.

I love it, but I also wound up concluding that I need to revise the office hours sign on my door. Right now I have small type that politely says, "Please don't bother me when my door's closed unless it's an emergency," but multiple people are demonstrating an inability to read the fine print, and it's not just my students, it's students who aren't my students directly but who have heard through the grapevine that I can be helpful and that are desperate for last-minute help.

I'm not going to be so snippy as to install a sign that says, "Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine," but I *am* going to reinforce some boundaries. If I don't, I'll never get this stack of papers graded, or this manuscript reviewed, or these half-dozen manuscripts written.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1325657.html. Please comment there using OpenID.



Meet Gramps:


He (or she?) is our oldest leopard gecko, one that we've been observing getting skinny lately. Thanks to him, I finally had the realization that we need to be regularly tracking our reptiles' weights so we can start to catch problems before they become dire.

I've been supplementing him with some stuff called "Repta-boost" as of mid-week last week. It's a vitamin-rich protein powder. If I put some on his nose, he will lick it off. He's starting to seem more feisty again. No signs of weight gain yet, but also no precipitous weight declines, either.

I still have some work to do to get animal rearing running smoothly, but I'm at least feeling like I have a better handle on the resources I need to keep everyone healthy (both supplies and expertise).

My eventual plan is to learn how to do tests for parasites. But that's going to require a free afternoon without other commitments, something that I don't have right now in the middle of the semester.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1325450.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Animal Care

Yesterday afternoon I trundled over to the local pet store to see what they had by way of tiny crickets and reptile deworming agents. At this very moment, I don't have a huge supply of tiny crickets, and the tiny tree frogs need tiny food! I also got some wingless fruit flies this morning from colleagues. One more type of animal to learn how to care for.

The deworming agent is a hypothesis. By now I've had one too many herp slowly waste away and die. It's impossible to know whether that's a product of age or something else, but it's starting to look like involvement from a parasite or malnutrition, so it's time to take action. For malnutrition, we're going to go back to dusting the crickets with a calcium supplement. I definitely know that it isn't the quality of regular care because I have a student worker who is excellent.

Meanwhile, our current cricket supply appears to have contracted a disease that makes them turn pink when they die, bleah. I've seen it show up in cricket cultures before but I don't know the cause.

It's a lot to manage and learn about. In addition to testing out the deworming hypothesis, I am also going to learn more about how to diagnose different types of parasites.

What I really need is to have a veterinary consultant who is a herp specialist come out to do a site visit. But I don't know if such a person even exists around here, nor whether I can afford such a visit within my (professional) budgetary constraints. I just can't see it being all that useful or productive to bundle up one unwell animal to bring it to a vet when chances are good that the vet would be able to figure out so much more by just coming to look at how things are set up here. Plus you have to factor in that most vets mostly only see dogs and cats, so there just isn't as much that they can do for animals like herps and chickens.

It's not always easy, being a zookeeper. In fact, I bet it's rarely easy.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1324717.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Of all the mornings...

The bed magnets were quite strong this morning. So strong that I spent a minute or two sitting there, with my phone in my hand, on the verge of sending a cancellation text to my coach and one other rower, before remembering a morning not too long ago when there were so many no-shows that a teammate sent out a grumpy e-mail to everyone.

I deleted the text message, saddled up, and headed down to the boathouse.

When I arrived, the gate was still closed and locked, and my teammates were huddled up with my coach beneath the freeway underpass.

I hadn't realized it when my thumb was hovering over my smart-o-phone, but it was windy and rainy this morning, enough so that I wasn't the only person dragging myself to get to practice.

So we went and had an early breakfast instead, and it was nice to have a smidge of time to just hang out and talk.

Hopefully I can sleep well tonight.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1324309.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Photographic evidence [kayaking, herps]

[personal profile] scrottie kayaks, with Albany skyline behind him:
City view

Me, pointed upriver:
Bridge view

Mr. Skink:

These are just asking to be a .gif:
Thirsty leopard gecko

Thirsty leopard gecko

The smaller gecko was also thirsty upon arrival:
Thirsty leopard gecko 1

Tiny tree frogs:
Baby White's Tree Frogs

...and now I need to find more tiny food to give to the tiny tree frogs...They are slightly larger than a quarter. If well-kept, they will get much larger.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1324217.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Weekend highlights: Reptiles and Kayaks

I am behind on work and should get back to it, so I'll try to go for bullet points.

Saturday: went rowing, had coffee with teammates, then [personal profile] scrottie drove us up to Saratoga Springs (henceforth pronounced "sur-RAT-toga" because, as Monty Python would say, 'tis a silly place). S went windsurfing, I went to a Reptile Expo. Holy snakes, batman. The expo was useful. I got to see all the the herps that people can breed in captivity, and acquired some for the Animal Phys lab. The newcomers include three adorable baby tree frogs.

[If Flickr cooperates with me today, photos. If not...there will be photos of cute frogs and geckos sometime soon. Update: GRR Flickr.]

By the time I got the newcomers situated, it was evening, so then we swung by the grocery store and I went to sleep.

Sunday morning I woke up and continued grading papers. I am behind on grading. But I got far enough through the grading to declare that I could (finally!) follow up on my intentions to go kayaking with S. So we ate lunch and headed down to the river.

Strangely, the wind was out of the north, and strong enough to create whitecaps. Usually the only time there's wind, it's out of the south and a storm is on its way.

Well, whitecaps are no problem in a kayak!

It took us a couple of minutes to remember how to do everything, but then we set off towards the north. Nicer to face the headwind and upstream current first, and then have a tailwind and downstream current for the return.

We made it past the Menands Bridge, to a point where we could see up towards Troy. Eventually we'll go on a paddling trip all the way to Troy and will stop there for lunch or coffee or somesuch.

Kayaking was so mellow and relaxing, after all the rowing I've been doing. It also produced a different sort of tiredness. The blisters are in different places from either sweep rowing or sculling. My upper body was fairly fatigued, but my leg muscles felt fine. I could tell I was low on glycogen by the time we got back. We were out paddling for a good 2.5 hours.

I wasn't too sore this morning, although my shoulders are a bit stiff. I hope we can manage to squeeze in more kayaking expeditions before it gets too cold. If I want to make that happen, I suppose I'd best get back to the grading...

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1323914.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Snappy [misc photos]

I am tired by now. Yesterday late afternoon I went off to a workshop at another area small liberal-arts college on inclusiveness in the science classroom. It was one of those experiences where there was a lot of preamble in terms of defining and recognizing microaggressions, and thinking about identity and portrayal in the classroom, plus a bit at the end about restructuring labs so they're open-ended while engaging in knowledge co-creation.

In other words, by the end I wasn't sure whether I could even communicate anymore, nor was I sure about how to take the discussion and translate it into concrete changes to how I teach, in order to continue working on making my classrooms and courses into more inclusive spaces. I like co-creation as a concept but struggle with effective implementation. With what remained of the day, I finished writing and revising my lectures for today, then fell into bed so I could get up, finish a bit more grading, teach, hold office hours, go to an hour-long training session, then try to tackle other urgent semester projects.

Anyway, that's all rather dull. So, have a few recent photos of things.

State of the rowing stigmata:
Rowing stigmata strikes again

The other morning, [personal profile] scrottie and I happened upon a regatta hosted by the Albany Irish Rowing Club. They row with way more layback than we do, what with their fixed bench seats. Their regatta looked fun, fast, and furious. Lots of clashing of oars as boats rounded the buoy.
Albany Irish Rowing Club Regatta

Our lush brussels sprouts:

Emma, demonstrating the proper use of a space blanket:
Space Cat

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1323716.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Fluid 1x [rowing]

I successfully managed to drag myself out of bed this morning, although when I woke up my lymph nodes were definitely swollen. At least my sinuses are feeling better. At the boathouse, a teammate was commenting on having a lot of allergy symptoms the last couple of days, so I'm hoping I can chalk things up to that. Fingers crossed. I'm still going to continue prioritizing sleep.

For the Head of the Charles, our coach has been working on borrowing a boat on my behalf, from a coach at one of the clubs along the Charles. Setting aside some mixed feelings: the potential borrowed boat is a midweight Fluidesign 1x. The last two times I have raced in the 1x at the Charles, I have borrowed a boat and oars from a Tufts coach, a heavyweight Hudson 1x. The borrowed Hudson was a nice boat, but definitely noticeably too big for me. The oars were awkwardly unfamiliar. It really does take a couple of practices to get dialed in with any specific boat.

A teammate here has his own midweight Fluid 1x, so our coach got permission for me to try rowing it. Rowing in someone else's 1x is also a little awkward, because one of the biggest benefits of owning your own 1x is that you get to adjust it perfectly for yourself and then never have to make any more changes to it. (like having your own bicycle) As a club rower, I am constantly having to adjust and readjust club boats, to the best of my ability, and sometimes I get it wrong.

Footstretcher adjustments in this Fluid 1x took some extra work because there was a screw head sticking out in a track and blocking the movement of a sliding adjustable piece. But eventually we got it sorted out and I got out on the water. The boat itself felt slightly too big, but it wasn't nearly as awkward as that Hudson 1x. After this first row I'm feeling indifferent between the Fluid 1x and the bright yellow Dirigo 1x that was donated to our club at the start of this year.

People who know about bigger Dirigo boats are wrinkling their noses right now*, but this particular Dirigo 1x is a decent boat - definitely better than the club boats and oars I had access to in California. The Dirigo 1x isn't completely free of issues**, and it picks up well when rowed with higher pressure and stroke rate.

The best piece of news in all of this is that I will get to row with familiar oars. My oar tests in California made it extremely clear that one should get extensive practice with whatever oars one will then use for racing, because different kinds of oars handle very differently, and the wrong oars can make for a completely miserable experience.

*The big, yellow, wood/fiberglass composite Dirigo 8+'s all seem to date from the same era, and are...fine...but not particularly great boats. They tend to linger in club inventories still.

**Seat tracks don't quite slide freely, the feet are positioned just ever so slightly too close together, and it's squirrelly in wavy water.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1323333.html. Please comment there using OpenID.



I feel like hot garbage this morning. The humidity is helping ever so slightly with the sinus headache that started Saturday afternoon, but it's still there.

We biked into campus yesterday so I could work on finalizing and then photocopying an exam for this morning so that I wasn't photocopying it immediately before issuing it (always a recipe for a jammed photocopier). I had to lie down for a nap twice (camping pad in my office) and skipped rowing this morning.

I'm behind on grading. I'm behind on too many things.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1323009.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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