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Expeditions

First, before expeditions, here are the pieces of that small wooden table I mentioned:

Pieces I

Sanding the legs is going to be a chore. Every time I sand a piece of wood furniture, I think of my mom and how she taught me to refinish furniture when I was a kid. I've put those skills to good use over the years.

Next, today's two expeditions. This morning, I got up at 4:45, donned my bicycling layers, and finally biked out to the high school where our rowing winter practices are happening, 14 miles from home. It was cold and dark, and parts of the ride were bumpy, but I felt fortunate to be out in the right place at the right time to hear a Gathering of the Crows. I don't think I've ever heard one anywhere outside of the Seattle area before. The crows did not have a New York accent, so far as I could tell. I also scared a bunch of deer in the park along the Hudson River.

I forgot to pack along my bike lock, so I didn't get to stop by the Troy Farmer's Market on my way back home, and didn't get to stop at a coffeeshop for breakfast, either. That was about 2.5 hours of bicycling for an hour-long erg session, which will probably explain to you why I haven't attempted to make it out there until now. The facilities were really nice, and it was good to see a couple of my teammates again.

My second expedition was on foot, over to our local coffeeshop, which I've decided I like. It is utterly unpretentious, and today's latte was tasty. Someone behind the counter knows what they are doing. The place is full of eclectica, including an old jukebox and some arcade games. Oh, and this sculpture hanging up:
Pieces II

Yes, that's wired together from a bunch of old bike parts. It's only slightly claustrophobic in this coffeeshop.

With my parents' recent experiences with bedbugs, I am a bit nervous about places with that much upholstered furniture, though.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1267581.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Yes, I will adopt you, city.

Yesterday, on my bike commute home, I encountered, oh joy! The city's Department of General Services sent around a crew to patch the worst of the bone-shaking potholes!

I should probably send them a nice thank-you note. I owe a lot of people some nice thank-you notes right now. Also some belated birthday notes. This semester is a hole, and I've fallen in it.

Riding around Albany, my feeling is, there are some shabby areas, but the city has good bones. People are trying.

I'm wondering how I can connect better with people in certain neighborhoods. There's one corner that I ride through that often smells overwhelmingly of heavy pot use, and I've slunk past multiple altercations on that corner. I hate feeling like I have to slink by, for multiple reasons. What I'd like to do is try and invite more people to find other ways to spend their time. My feeling is that a lot of what I'm observing is coping mechanisms. I don't have any issues with occasional recreational use (though it's not for me), but chronic use sure starts to seem a bit like alcoholism. I'm hoping we can make some flyers for next spring that say, "Come try rowing!" and then I will hang them up all over.

I think S and I are also going to have to start a Tuesday night bike ride. I haven't mentioned this to S yet.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1267308.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Side table

People often put bulk trash items by the side of the road out here, and on more than one occasion I've been severely tempted to go trash-picking.

I finally gave in to the impulse on Tuesday, and grabbed a small, wood side table.

It's going to require a lot of work, including re-gluing part of the top together, re-gluing all of the legs, replacing a lower shelf and small side board, and then refinishing the works.

This one didn't appear to have a cockroach infestation, at least.

If you've ever shopped for table legs, you'll know they can be surprisingly expensive. This is a kind of silly project, but if I get it done I'll have a nice little nightstand.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1267097.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Things I love about my job

This week I'm teaching students about human evolutionary history.

First off, there are some really great visual resources for this topic on Wikipedia.

But secondly, I have something of a dilemma: we've actually managed to cover all the topics I've sought to cover this semester.

Student nature being what it is, I'm sure my students would be fine with me saying, "Okay, go forth."

Instead, though, I've been trying to think: what have I left out?

And I realized, while biking in to campus, I have some things about the evolution of brain size, but I haven't directly addressed the question of, "Why big brains?"

To the internet. Google brought me to this article:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05197-8

It's fun to see where things stand in this field.

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Patches

Yesterday afternoon I finally had a chance to sit down and patch that tube from last week's flat tire. For some reason, the act of pulling out the supplies and preparing to patch immediately made me think of my father. When he was out to visit in October, he'd commented that he suspected his ride shortly before the trip may have been his last bike ride ever.

I don't know how a person should put their bike away, under such circumstances. I've spent many years now raiding various bicycling supply caches in the family basement, and I think I'd struggle if they all vanished.

Edited to add...

Last night my sister sent me a photo of the sharry baby orchid I gave her, because it's blooming again! I replied with a touch of envy: she had decided to split the plant, and gave the other half to me, and I figured it wouldn't be blooming, given all the travel and how much the cat has gnawed on it, etc. But when I checked, I discovered that I was wrong:

Sharry baby orchid bud

This is an orchid variety with flowers that smell like chocolate.

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Last night's insomnia topic: preparing to teach Comparative Physiology this spring, especially managing all of the lab logistics.

I feel like I might be setting up a zoo for the spring semester's labs.

I will probably feel slightly better once I have a plan in place.

But I'm also going to have to figure out how to structure things for the inevitable factors that are going to disrupt the plan.

Perhaps I should have a serious chat with my colleagues who teach plant physiology and neurobiology. Oh, I could also have a chat with my predecessor, who is still active and in the area. Duh.

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FOUND

I am working on drawing up a list of suggested Biology-themed books for my students to consider reading over the break. I have no idea whether or not they'll even look at the list, but it feels important to put the list together. More suggestions welcome.

Anyway, this has meant going back through various records to try and remember what I've read, and thus what I'd recommend. Including clicking on my "books" tag on LJ.

Well.

About a year before I graduated and left Arizona, my now-deceased ceramics instructor had loaned me an incredible home-ec book that she thought I'd like because it had detailed information about what it would take for someone to grow enough food to feed a family for a year. And she was right - I appreciated it tremendously! But then after a while it was time to return the book, so I did.

Then I graduated and moved away, and lost track of the name of the book. Somehow, some ideas from the book stuck with me, so I've wanted to track down a copy for years by now.

Then B developed brain cancer and died. After her death, her family established a memorial artist fund. I remembered that she had mentioned that this particular book had come from her grandmother in Tennessee, so I tried writing a letter to her family to see if they knew anything about it. I got a reply, but no more information.

But just now, clicking on that "books" tag, skimming all the way back through old posts, I found an entry where I noted the book's title. This feels incredible.

I also located a copy on eBay and purchased it, tight finances be damned (for $13).

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1266091.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Sympathetic, but with firm standards

Do you think these two philosophies on begging for grades are reasonable?

http://core.ecu.edu/psyc/wuenschk/docs00/Begging.htm
http://leachlegacy.ece.gatech.edu/myturn/makingthegrade.html

I'm not sure whether I want to go so far as to add more clauses to my syllabus, but maybe when I go over the syllabus at the beginning of the semester I should clarify that there won't be any extra credit. I mean, I already feel like I've been overly generous when it comes to every single assignment type other than exams. And on exams, yes, I'm being pretty darned rigorous, but I don't think I'm setting an impossible standard.

I can appreciate how colleagues would become unsympathetic after enough rounds of begging. But on the other hand, we now provide almost real-time feedback on grades, so students don't have a lot of excuses when waiting until the end of the semester.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1265417.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Back to knitting

The rain turned to snow overnight, with temperatures forecast to drop through the day today, turning the slush into ice.

3 am insomnomnomia, where my brain was trying to write these last couple of lectures. Two more weeks, then the final, then the semester comes to a close.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1265289.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Brevet training

Brevet training always strikes when you least expect it, like on a cold, dark, rainy winter evening when one is riding home late from work without having had any supper yet.

I'd hoped it was just a slow leak, but had to stop in a small strip mall next to the interstate under an awning to do a full tube change and pull a small bit of wire out of the tire.

At least it's still possible to ride.

I need to give Froinlavin a good bath.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1265128.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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