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Ebb and flow

[personal profile] scrottie got back into town this morning, after an interesting series of transit adventures. To back up: he's been out at his boat, moored in the Sacramento River Delta, for a couple of weeks. Here's a run-down of various transportation options for getting between there and here:

-Drive: It's about a 12-hour drive if you do it as directly as possible, and that would send you along an extremely busy transportation corridor including the huge mess known as Los Angeles. You would also need to own a car or sort out a one-way rental.

-Fly: You would need to get to an airport. There are some buses out in the Sac River Delta, but they run on a fairly sporadic schedule, so it will take a couple of hours to reach an airport. You would also have to pack things in such a fashion as to not upset airport security, be okay with the carbon emissions associated with flying, and have the sort of charming persona that more easily lends itself to slipping in quietly (=white, nondescript pleasant female).

-Greyhound: Well, this is America, so most of the people who ride the bus are people who lack other means for getting around. Buses would probably be fine if it weren't for the passenger culture. Because the route passes through the Central Valley and between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, things can get rough.

-Amtrak: Almost works. The San Joaquin train goes past Antioch and runs down to Bakersfield, where there are bus connections over to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. The Texas Eagle now only runs 3 days a week, and gets within 25 miles of Phoenix without actually stopping in Phoenix. Alternatively, the Southwest Chief connects up to Flagstaff. Then there are more Throughway buses to reach the Phoenix airport. Also I would note that the San Joaquin train can get almost as interesting as Greyhound, but with the advantages that if things start to escalate it's easier to move somewhere else in the train, and that there are conductors on board who can monitor and intervene directly (in theory).

So S wound up taking a rideshare service to the Antioch train station, the San Joaquin train, the bus, then the Texas Eagle, then the bus, then the light rail. And that was his third attempt: a freight trail derailment delayed his original departure, and then rideshare failure delayed his second departure. The rideshare portion still sounds like the most unpleasant part.

But I'm so glad to have him back. Last week I was chatting with a friend about S's whereabouts and what it has been like to move back out here, and we got to talking about relationship dynamics where partners in a relationship need unconventional space arrangements in order to sustain a healthy relationship. It was a good reminder that I'm not the only one. After the nonstop people time in California, I was feeling like I really needed some quiet alone time to decompress, and I know S has been feeling similarly (to an even larger extent than me). And while the quiet has been good, it then becomes even nicer when S and I are reunited because I feel like I can be more fully present.

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1.5 weeks ago, I went over to the Clark Park farmer's market in search of yard eggs. Only one booth had them, $5 for a half-dozen.

This morning, I decided to make poached eggs on toast for breakfast.

The egg white for the second egg that I cracked disintegrated into the water.

I was short on time, so I eventually resolved to fish out the first egg and eat it.

This seems like a reasonable metaphor for Valentine's Day this year.

Let's pick up what shattered pieces we can. Acknowledge the hurt, the tragedy.

And maybe I won't buy eggs from that vendor again.

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A quotation I recently encountered

"Amsterdam has more than 150 canals and 1,250 bridges, but it never seems crowded, nor bent and bitter from fleecing the tourist." -Julie Birchill, from a 2004 travel article.

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Today's lecture began with a warning from the lecture computer about connectivity for something not working right. Clicking OK caused the machine to log me off and then it entered some sort of short-term death spiral. A hard reset broke that cycle and then I could just click "cancel" on the unresolved connectivity issue.

Then I realized I hadn't brought my phone with me for the purpose of two-factor authentication so as to be able to access the software for clicker questions. The most frustrating part of that was watching some students decide to get up and leave.

Then the microphone misbehaved again, probably because I was wearing it slightly too low and the jiggling caused it to cut in and out.

And I didn't like the flow of the second half of the lecture. Too many lists and details. I don't have a good grasp on how to streamline the senses. But I will just have to pick myself back up and keep at it for Wednesday's lecture.

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Photos, Lemon Curd Tragedy, Helga

First, a couple of photos. From yesterday's ride:

Phoenix Mountains Preserve looking south:
Phoenix Mountains Preserve
I mean, WOAH, it's dry, but also, it's so amazing that there are parks like this embedded in the Greater Phoenix Suburbopolitan Area.

Cross-cut Canal in Papago Park:
Cross-cut canal

Also, surprise flowers from my uncle for my birthday. I had to put them up high so Emma wouldn't try to eat them. Silly cat. Reading Man likes them, too.

Second, this morning, I decided I should make pancakes, but I keep feeling this sense of a dilemma because what with moving and everything I don't have access to freezer stockpiles of rhubarb or berries. Those are my usual go-to items for pancake toppings because I don't like syrup. Finally, I remembered that I'd been saving a jar of lemon curd from my sister-in-law. I got about halfway through pancake-making before I had a moment to pop open the jar of curd, and discovered a lovely little mold culture growing on top. Sigh.

So then, well, at least I had some lemon juice I'd saved in the freezer from the big bunch of Meyer lemons that she and my brother brought up from their tree. So I could just make my own curd. Fine. If only I could figure out how to get the frozen juice out of the glass canning jar. Unfortunately, the heat differential from pouring hot water around the jar was too much stress for the glass, and it cracked. Fortunately, it was still sufficiently intact that I could still extract out the mostly-frozen lemon juice. Unfortunately, a chip of glass fell into the mixture of melted butter and half-frozen lemon juice. But then fortunately, I was able to fish it out. THANK GOODNESS. But when something like this happens, it sure makes me wonder what the universe is trying to tell me, heh.

Third, after breakfast, I got to enjoy some quality Sunday morning Helga time, and deal with a whole host of small irritating things. That included things like window-washing (so now I can look THROUGH the window instead of looking AT it), sweeping and mopping all of the tile, sprucing up the dining room table, and straightening out and reinstalling a window screen on the kitchen window. I feel so much better after getting these things out of the way, and now the house FINALLY feels civilized enough to let other people see it. People such as my parents, who are coming for a visit this afternoon. Ahem.

I still haven't resumed tackling the neverending toilet repair saga, but found another titillating internet video on how to replace the rubber gasket seal between the toilet tank and the bowl. I feel like I have learned a lot about toilets recently. So maybe I'll get to that next weekend. We shall see.

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Saturday morning loop

This morning I got up on the early side, threw on the ol' chamois shorts, and set out on a ride. My initial destination was the Roadrunner Park Farmer's Market, by way of part of the bike ride that goes around Mummy Mountain. So the trip was mostly flat but with a couple of short, steep hills thrown in for fun.

Ninety-five percent of the route to get there was great. The remaining 5 percent was a reminder of everything that's unenjoyable about bicycling out here. In a nutshell, I found myself dumped out at the intersection of 52nd Street and Shea, needing to make a left-hand turn across 5 lanes of fast-moving traffic, into the lane.

And it's never the driver who passes you too close and too fast who is the biggest concern. It's actually the driver behind that driver, who is tailgating and who won't even see you. So up onto the narrow, winding sidewalk.

At the corner of Tatum and Shea, I paused for a map-check, right behind another stopped person on a bicycle. He didn't look like your average road cyclist - no helmet, backpack on. But he was riding a decent bike and wearing bike gloves, and asked if I knew where Power Road was.

I do, but Power Road is at least 20 miles out to the east, in Mesa. He told me he'd started biking at 6 am on the previous morning (didn't catch where he started), and that the next day he was going to ride down to Florence. I decided that he clearly needed my bike map more than I did, so I got him oriented and pointed in the right direction, gave him the map, and carried on my way.

The Roadrunner Farmer's Market was fun. Part of my idea was to meet up with a friend and his daughter because they live on that side of town, and that worked out wonderfully. I appreciated the distinct offerings at this market, which included someone selling fresh-squeezed prickly pear juice, and another company selling Arizona pistachios. After shopping at the market, we went over to the playground so N could run around for a bit, then we stopped by a neighborhood bistro that J had been telling me about and had delicious Arizona food in a lovely garden/patio setting.

For my return trip, I took 32nd Street down to a crazy freeway overpass over highway 51, which led to a bike path and then Dreamy Draw Drive, along the northwest edge of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. I thought I'd been through that area before, but now I'm not so sure. Regardless, wonderful scenery out there. Dreamy Draw then connects up with the Arizona Canal, so I was able to take canal paths all the way back to Tempe Town Lake.

It felt good to get some miles in (42 or so), and the section along the Arizona Canal reminded me of the year I trained for and ran a marathon, because I did all of my long-distance runs along that section of the canal. Here's hoping I can continue to get in good bicycling adventures while I'm out here.

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I am alternating among:

-Meeting with students to chat about how their exams went and how to switch up their studying methods. This can be draining for me, as an introvert. So. Many. Students.

-Prepping all the various pieces of the course (lectures, assignments, etc). I am trying to get a leg up on exam-writing this time because the first one kicked my butt pretty hard.

-Leafcutter Manuscript of Doom. Having had some time and space away from it is allowing me to reapproach and ask the big question: How does/could this work impact the field at large? CMW was good at continually asking that question, and she's correct about its importance. Then I have to dive back in and think hard and write awkward, vague things, and refine them, etc.

-Mentoring grad students here. This part is fun because it's vicarious science for me.

Collectively, though, this all still feels exhausting. My sense is that the feeling will pass, but patience has never been my strong suit.

How Emma feels about things:
How Emma feels about things

And at least the Black Prince tomato seeds are sprouting okay:
Black Prince sprouts

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Boat fit: Princesses and peas

I tried to grab a set of oars this morning that had the proper grip size, but I didn't. The larger grips were so terrible that I cut my lap short and went back to the dock to swap them out for a better set. The second set were an improvement, at least.

There were two coaching launches out on the lake, with groups of boats. I wouldn't say that I've missed trying to row through the wakes that bounce off of the concrete walls of Tempe Town Lake. Thankfully, both launches were off the water before I'd wrapped up, so I got in at least a little bit of peaceful rowing.

Tempe Town Lake is full of dead fish right now. Running into a dead fish's body with a rowing shell is a creepy experience.

I missed a cooler that was floating in the water by a mere inch. I don't know what would have happened if I'd smacked it with an oar, but that probably would have meant some swimming.

I'd forgotten how much I hate Vespoli seats. They have never been comfortable.

I'm also disliking the adjustable shoes - wrong foot angle and too much slop. The shoes, seat, and boat hull shape are all conspiring to make it extra difficult to row cleanly.

I miss the BAP, and the blue Hudson, and the silver Kaschper, and the amazing BPRC teammates.


Maybe I should get on the erg until my attitude improves.

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Shifters and cutlery

The Jolly Roger's front shifter gummed up again several weeks ago, but I haven't had the wherewithal to do anything about it. OTOH I want to get out and do more fitness rides, so today seemed like a good day to finally swap out the trigger shifters for the thumb shifters (single lever that can be run indexed or friction). And while I was doing that, well, I should really clean my drivetrain, shouldn't I? And once all that was situated, it was lunchtime already.

So I had a post-lunch shakedown ride. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the thumb shifters were WAY better than the trigger shifters had been. I followed the old People's Ride route, just to see how it felt and get a sense as to my current fitness level. I had a tailwind on the uphill leg, so things felt fast and fun. A good reminder as to why I like bicycling - it can be fun!

On the return, I took a quick detour over to Fashion Square Mall to search for a grapefruit spoon. We've been low on them ever since the TSA confiscated mine on my way to the job interview in New York. Kitchen Supply Chain Store 1 had relocated deep into the bowels of the mall, which was annoying but surmountable. They only had a single type of grapefruit spoon, and it wasn't great, but I bought one anyway. On my way back out of the depths, I decided to see what KSCS 2 and KSCS 3 had to offer. KSCS 2 had some strangely shaped ones that didn't look any better. KSCS 3 had one that looked great, but cost $14. That's too far outside of my price range for grapefruit spoons.

I took a second detour towards the end, to visit a Goodwill that [personal profile] scrottie and I know as "The one with all the silverware." I'm low on butter knives, and I don't like modern cutlery anyway.

They've become like most other Goodwills, where the only cutlery they now have is batched in bags. At least now I know not to bother going back, I suppose.

So I ordered some used cutlery on the internet instead.

Now I need to bake a couple of things and work on my lectures for this week.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1203949.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
It seems my current fitness plan is simply to quax a lot.


1. Singh Farms again for more mulch. I even took a photo. Here's what it looks like to quax 2 coffee bags full of mulch. Somehow, things were better balanced this time or something, so the ride felt more smooth. People on the bike paths around Tempe Town Lake don't understand how to behave on shared-use paths.

This is what 2 coffee bags full of mulch looks like

2. Singh Farms didn't have any yard eggs, arghdarnit. But on the ride home, I saw signs up for the Clark Park Farmer's Market, so I headed over to see if they had any. One place did, but they were $5 for a HALF-dozen. I bought some anyway. A number of people were hanging out, enjoying a cover band playing some live music. Most of the booths were selling value-added products, but it seems like Clark Park is site of a number of good things, lately.

3. Then I was going to head down to Home Depot, but it occurred to me that my newly received credit card might need some sort of activation, so maybe I should get some cash. On my way up to the ATM, it occurred to me to stop at the Farmer Market to see if THEY had any yard eggs. They didn't, but I bought some other eggs there anyway, because I'd rather send as much money as possible in their direction over SproutFlour. When I paid for that purchase, I found that my new credit card did work, so I didn't have to go all the way up to the ATM. Not that it's all that far away, but I wanted to head in the other direction.

4. So then it was time to head to the Home Despot. Why there, you may ask, when I live within a reasonable distance of TWO Ace Hardwares? Simply because we struck out on drawer slides at the Aces. I may or may not have come home with a pothos plant, too. And some rebar and chicken wire so I can fence off the back patio, as I promised our neighbors in the front house.

5. After lunch, I headed down towards SproutFlower. I wanted to get there before the bagel shop closed at 2 pm, so I could ask whether I'd lost a handkerchief and gloves there the week prior. They had the gloves but not the handkerchief. That counts for something, at least!

6. Okay, home again from that, and then over to the feed store and back again so Emma won't starve. Thankfully Tempe Feed and Tack is basically right around the corner now.

7. Cat food accomplished, I had to go to Ace Hardware anyway to get some additional supplies for the drawer project.

I have no idea how many miles that was, but I was out and about for most of the day, and now I am kinda tired and sun-weary. Once I got home, I set to work on the kitchen drawer project. It was even more annoying than anticipated, but it finally works and is DONE. While I was at it, I used a long nail to FINALLY punch open the outflow valve on the junked water heater, and also fixed the rear gate latch (just needed the proper nuts and bolts). Campfire rule x 100 around here.

Meanwhile, Emma spectated from her chair:
Queen on her throne

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