Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tap, tap, this thing on?

I've been busy this last week, working on a presentation for work. They do a weekly seminar series and I signed up way back in September to do the seminar for this week. My topic was all set, the research was finished and written up, it was more a matter of getting back in the groove of giving a presentation.

I was able to head home to practice, and gave my presentation to Sally numerous times. At the beginning, I'd have to stop and change something, or move a slide around in the PowerPoint presentation. But after a while, it clicked and I was ready.

I showed up early, worked with the IT guy to make sure the clicker worked and that the people who vidoeconference with us in Puerto Rico could hear us. Then, of course, the clicker didn't work for the presentation itself, and the settings for Puerto Rico's feed had to be fiddled with. But all that was OK. It was a friendly audience. The talk went smoothly and people asked questions for about 10 minutes.

Afterwards, I had a couple of people ask me if I had been, or had aspirations to be, a professor. This struck a cord with me because it hits me in the "are you doing what you're supposed to be doing?" department. I HAVE always wanted to be a college professor. I DO like to teach.

So why have I not pursued this? I am daunted by the amount of work that is required. The process of obtaining grants to support research is grueling, and so very competitive. I think I would feel like I wasn't devoting enough time to raising my son. I'd have to move, and things are already complicated enough being in a long distance relationship, and having Mr W's dad to account for.

I don't know. If I want to get back into it, I'd have to take on some kind of part time or volunteer work to show that I'm still thinking about it. I have a good job until June of 2010. I wish I had a crystal ball. Part of me just wants to know if I have the chutzpah to pull it off.

I think this comes from coming off of the first anniversary of my sister's death. I feel like I've rolled out from under something big and it's time to get back to looking toward the future instead of the past.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

And this is what a headrest is for

Let's see, today's Thursday. On Tuesday, I was sitting in my car with Mr W, waiting for his dad to come out to take him home for the rest of a sick day. As we sat there, I pointed out this old pick up truck. You know, the one's with the huge curved front end. I told him, 'look how there's no headrest. In those days, if you were hit, you could get whiplash from the impact. That's why we have headrests in cars made these days.'

Fast forward to the very next day. I'm coming home from a PT appointment for my hip. It's going great - really helping, btw. I'm stopped at a red light and a truck (not an old truck, but a Durango) bumps me from behind. I'm OK, although I'll let the PT'ist know tomorrow when I go in to see if she sees anything.

Turns out, the car that hit me was itself hit from behind and pushed into me. They seemed OK too, but they had this spindly ski rack on the back of their truck that made a real mess of the third car. No damage to my car, although I could read their license plate on my bumper (I think it was a dirt transfer, their bumper was very dirty).

I got out of my car after it happened, and only at that point did I realize that the back of my head felt like it had hit the headrest. It must have happened so fast that I didn't really remember it. Thanks, headrests!!

Stuff happens that fast sometimes. I'm glad it wasn't worse. I was also glad I had my registration and proof of insurance handy. It was good to be caught doing everything right, you know?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Purty Pictures

I’m giving the seminar next week at work. I’ve been sitting at my computer for the last few days trying to get all the info into a PowerPoint presentation. I like how it’s going so far, and wanted to share the “take home” figure of the whole thing. If my audience were familiar with the program that made this, it could be a 5 minute talk. I have lots of nice tables and figures, though. Maybe I’ll post more later.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Those people are so annoying

I’ve been thinking lately about stereotypes. Several things have brought this to my attention recently, and I’m wondering if it’s one of those “the universe is trying to tell you something” situations.

Mr W and I were sitting at the table last night as he had a bowl of cereal before bed. I like this time because it’s just he and I talking a bit before he gets ready for bed. Out of nowhere, he said how his friend took his granola bar, without asking, at lunch the other day. Didn’t apologize, and the adult who was around told Mr W to more or less get over it. Then he says, “he’s like that because he’s Cambodian.” Ouch. So we talked a bit about the dangers of going down that road, and how important it is to be kind and fair to people.

Then I was reading a piece about a popular knitting designer. Several comments praised how the piece avoided the grandmotherly stereotypes associated with knitting. This one doesn’t bother me too much. I guess I’m more amused than anything else that something I get so much pleasure out of can be considered the realm of grannies. Then again, I’d like to be one of those ladies someday…

Finally, I was dropping Mr W off at the all-day day care he’s at because there’s no school today. I let him bring a toy, and he was immediately swarmed by several boys wanting to get a close look. He shoots the ball of the toy, and everyone runs after it. It went all of 6 feet, so they didn’t have to go far. This big jock type young woman (this is a post on stereotypes, after all) says, “OK, you need to walk back to where you ran to, and then walk back to your place from there.” So Mr W dutifully walked to the place he ran to, but in his excitement, runs back to his spot. “No, you need to walk both ways.”


I looked at her and said, “You’re kidding, right?” “Excuse me?” “You’re kidding about that, right?” “No, they need to walk because the floor is slippery, etc. etc.” I rolled my eyes, said goodbye to Mr W and felt sorry for the oppression that kids sometimes have to endure. Yeah, I know it’s for their own good, but wouldn’t it work better to: 1) tell them what you expect of them (“Hey, boys, we don’t run in here because it’s slippery”) 2) tell them the consequences (“If you do run in here, you’ll have to do a time out”) and then 3) enforce the consequences. I don’t know, it just seems pointless to make a kid go back and walk his path again.

I think stereotypes sometimes come in handy for us to justify other people’s behavior that we don’t understand. It helps us categorize peoples’ actions so we can then move on. But these recent experiences remind me to dig a little deeper in order to be clear as to what my wants and expectations are, as well as to understand the motivations of others.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Party Poopers

I like throwing parties off-site. You show up with a cake, meet the guests, they go off and have fun, come back for cake and presents, and then you leave things for the staff to clean up. Mr W's had two parties at Chuck E Cheese's now, and has enjoyed them a lot.

Yes, it can be sensory overload for the un-initiated, and many adults take refuge back by the food tables. The kids run around playing games for half the time, then come back for pizza and cake and a visit by the big rat, er, mouse.

I dutifully sent out invitations a couple of weeks ahead of time. To make it easier, or perhaps because I was too much of an optimist, I wrote "RSVP, regrets only" on the invitation. That way, and assuming most kids would attend, only the ones that wouldn't be there would have to call. Sounds good, right?

I had 4 kids not show up that I had to pay $15 apiece for. I can't believe their parents are so inconsiderate that they don't read the invitation and spend the 30 seconds it would take to call and say they won't make it. What is up with that??? It makes me pissed off all over again to write this.

The important thing is that Mr W had a good time, which he most certainly did. He was able to play the games with his buddies, and be the 'Birthday Star' for a bit. But I learned a lesson, which is that in the future I will make it crystal clear (and Miss Manners polite) that I need an RSVP. Hopefully that will at least cut down (it won't eliminate, I know) the incidence of having to pay for kids that don't show.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Let's Learn About Verbs!

Since I don't have cable, I usually pick up a few videos for Mr W to watch when he's at my house. It's been an interesting evolution from babyish stuff on out to more boy stuff. He had a Thomas the Tank Engine thing for years, and I can remember going to the library, looking for Thomas videos and being very disappointed when there weren't any. Of course, now when I go, there are 10 of them on the shelf. So it goes.

The videos are divided up into fiction and non-fiction, and the non-fictions ones alternately make me roll my eyes or just giggle. Sure, there are the stranger danger ones, and the potty training ones, but there are also ones that I can't imagine any kid sitting down to watch. Parts of speech? Come on! Hygiene? Can't parents handle that one?

Of course there are some that I wouldn't mind Mr W watching, like the stuff on science topics. He likes Cyberchase, from PBS, and anything Lego, robot, or super hero related. Such a little boy.

I like our library a lot. The community passed a tax increase for them a couple of years ago and I think they do a good job of being a repository of information for us.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Paying attention to ducks

CB and I went birdwatching today, at some wetland areas on the west side of Tucson. It was a really nice day, in the 70's and sunny. The last couple of times I've visited, it's been gloomy or rainy, so it was really nice to get out and enjoy some nice weather.

We saw mostly local species, including a pair of hawks that would cruise over the other birds and kind of stir things up a bit. CB really knows his stuff when it comes to birding, and when we go birding together, we have a system. He doesn't say what a bird is, he lets me try to figure it out (which is part of the fun, btw) and if I don't know it, he tells me. He's good that way.

We had just about walked around the length of the loop trail when we sat down to watch a bunch of ducks. Nothing earth shattering in terms of what species were there, but it was really neat just to sit and watch them for half an hour or so. Most of them were surprisingly busy. They'd be getting food, preening, getting into little scuffles with neighbors, but always on the move. They were close, so it was easy to get a good look at them, and appreciate some of the subtleties of the ones that can look similar other species. It was like a duck city, where they all had stuff they needed to do. Maybe all the action was because it's a good time to put on weight for migration.

I like that aspect of bird watching, when one is more concerned with what the birds are doing - appreciating them in some kind of context - rather than just checking off what the bird is.