Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Daily TED #5 Adam Savage

This is an entertaining view inside the mind of Mythbuster Adam Savages' creative obsession. It doesn't seem that his mind ever stops....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I can see me in one of these

I've been struck by the urge to travel a bit this summer. I'm already signed up for a conference in Ithaca, NY in early June, and Mr W and I will take a week and so something, but I wanted to start camping again.

Then it hit me. For the last three summers (when I was in the long distance relationship) I was working on the weekends I didn't have Mr W, and getting house stuff done when I had him, so I stayed pretty close to home. I made my choices willingly, so it's not like I was forced to budget my time that way.

But this summer, THIS summer, I am filled with the promise of not having to budget my time as in the past, and I won't be teaching, so I will get 15-20 hours a week back, or it hopefully will feel something like that.

So, I want one of these, a 13' travel trailer. I won't get one, most likely, but I want one! This is not a new theme with me. After Mr W was born, I got this same sort of urge, but it manifested itself in having to have a VW Vanagon campervan. I searched relentlessly, and we found an '86 for a reasonable price. We used it pretty often, they are great camping vehicles. It was decided in the divorce that x would keep it, as it's finicky, and needs frequent small repairs (that cost a lot of money).

But in using the Vanagon, I realized I'd rather have a small trailer that can be set up and left at the site, just in case the car is needed to do something. I love the idea of having everything I'd need in such a little space.

I'll probably buy one of these instead, as the price difference is several thousand dollars! It's from LLBean, and I like how it's got its own little screened in porch.
I had a dream last night that I have occasionally, and I'm going to have to think about what it means if anything). Every once in a while (probably several times a year) I dream that I'm a little ways up in a building, or on a dock and that I can see whales in the water. Often they are orcas, sometimes nondescript whales. It's always such a thrill to see them, and I usually say in my dream something like, "I have dreams like this, it's so cool to see them for real!" Duh.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On a lighter note...

Yesterday's post was a bit heavy, and after a good night's sleep I feel better about my place in the world. Mr W's going to turn out fine, and he'll be exposed to enough good partnerships that he'll be able to pick up what a good marriage is.

So, I wanted to show you these flowers. This plant is pretty humble, but a few months ago it developed a stumpy offshoot from one of its branches and lo and behold produced about 5 rounds of flowers. For my part, I try to ignore it except when it's really dry, and haven't moved it, in hopes that it will keep flowering when it sees fit to. Well, it sat dormant for the winter and now has this delightful crop of flowers. Waxy star centers, velvety petals, just perfect.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I worry

I got sucked into subscribing to a few months ago, thinking I'd enjoy listening to audiobooks while I knitted in the evenings. Having the side job of teaching has made it rare that I knit in the evenings like I used to, and I've accumulated a few credits, so I was perusing the offerings the other day on Audible's site.

I made a good wish list that I will likely order from, but one book caught my eye. It's called "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce - A 25 year Landmark Study". I haven't downloaded it, but that didn't keep it from making me blue the last couple of days. From the site:

"Wallerstein shows how adult children of divorce essentially view life differently from their peers in intact homes, and also sheds light on the question that so many parents confront: whether to stay unhappily married or to divorce. "

This has made me worry that my kid will be somehow damaged by my divorce, and that breaks my heart a bit. I should point out that I did not want to divorce, and while I was the one who filed the paperwork, my x was having an affair that he had no intention of ending, clearly stated that he had fallen out of love with me and had no interest in getting counseling. I still don't see how I could have done things differently.

But I still feel like we cheated Mr W out of something. As it is, x and I are in the same town, and Mr W goes back and forth without incident. His friends all get shuttled around by car anyway, so it's not like the only friends he has are at one house or the other. I would say that his needs are being met, and he's got two loving parents who take the job of parenting very seriously.

I read an interview with the author of the book, and my sense is that the damage comes in large part from children seeing their parents be so horrible to each other, and for a long time after the divorce. Kids also sometimes have to care for siblings or even their own parents, while the parents are recovering emotionally from a divorce. Reading this made me feel a little better. Even though I still have strong feelings about how the marriage ended, I try really hard to separate them from the duty of raising Mr W, and I think I've done a good job on that. So good a job that Mr W wonders periodically why we don't all just move back in together and be a family again.

But this has strengthened my resolve to model a good marriage for my kid. I may or may not end up with someone who has kids, but I want very badly to show Mr W how a marriage is supposed to work: the support, the give and take, that kind of stuff. I feel like I owe him that much.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Our Daily TED #4

This one's on Motivation. I've heard snippets of Dan Pink's work in the last few months and like his presentation. This is sort of business oriented, but also applies to our world. What DOES motivate us? It's interesting to me that in certain tasks, an incentive (carrot vs. stick) works, but in others, there's more at work there.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Waiting while the weeds grow

It's been raining, raining, raining. It's funny to me (and probably annoying to the rest of the world) how cranky Coloradoans get when there's more than a couple of days of rain. We're on day 2, and I'd very much like to get garden stuff done this weekend, but that may or may not happen.

No one really complains about the rain without a little tip of the hat to the fact that we need the water. We always need the water. As a place that gets 14"-17" of rain a year, every sprinkle is appreciated.

But the weeds! The people that owned the house before me landscaped the front 8' of the house with pea gravel, large pavers, a garden area, and a little porch. This has been a good lesson for me because I will not use pea gravel in the future. The weeds are relentless in this stuff, I don't know why. I've got some kind of Sedum that is plentiful, and at the moment, there's some kind of wild lettuce that's making a play to cover all the gravel. And it's raining. I will probably try to get out there when there's a break in the rain and pull a few - the soft soil is conducive to that. I also resort to Roundup for this area when things dry out. There. I admit it.

In other news, it's the new normal around here, with me getting used to not checking my email 30 times a day to see if anyone on the online dating site wants the pleasure of my correspondence. It's a relief, and I feel like I can now devote that mental energy to more important things and be OK with just kind of keep my eyes open for a while. I'm sleeping better, and that's good. Me and Mr W are going to Denver tomorrow to visit the aquarium. He wanted to go, so we'll go.

Our Daily TED #3

This video is of Spencer Wells, who is a geneticist with the National Geographic Society and head of their Genographic Project, which studies the shared genetic history of humans living today. Very cool, great speaker.

It's been raining here for the last couple of days, which has put the kibosh on gardening, and weeding in particular. My front walk looks pretty disheveled. It's good to get the rain, though.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Our Daily TED #2

By popular demand, here is Jill Bolte Taylor's absolutely amazing recounting of when she had a stroke. All the more interesting because she's a neuroscientist, and had a good grasp of what was going on.

Glad I figured out how to imbed video. :-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our Daily TED

Do you know TED? TED talks are presented by amazing speakers on a wonderful diversity of topics. Academics, artists, humanitarians, the talks are inspiring, informative and not-too-long (less than 20 minutes).

I have made a goal to listen to one TED talk a day for a month, in the hopes that I'll do it every other (how's that for optimistic realism?). To help motivate me to stick with it, I'll post the video on this blog.

I show TED talks periodically to my class, and the one I'm sharing today I will show to my class tomorrow, as we are talking about DNA replication. This talk has to do with using DNA to build things.

Paul Rothemund details DNA folding Video on

Sadly, it doesn't look like you can view the video within the blog, but clicking on the link should take you there.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Um, it probably WAS me

It was like a line from the book, "He's Just Not That Into You".

I'll do a quick recap: I get an email from someone on the online dating site. We exchange a few emails, then there's nothing for four days. Then I write him off, then he emails, then I not-so-subtlety hint that I'm ready to meet for coffee, he gives me his phone number, I call and we set a time.

He called tonight and said he's "not ready to date". That I was his first contact on Match, and he's "just not ready". And as much as I appreciate his phoning me and letting me know that way, I'm pretty sure it's simply code for, "I'm not that into you".

And you know what? I'm fine with it. I wasn't feeling like we clicked all that well either. I feel so grown up. This book has actually helped me; it's so easy to lose perspective. It's funny how it's part deciphering the code (It's not you, it's me = It's you), and part cheering section (stuff like, "Why would you waste your time trying to get someone to like you? If someone likes you he will really let you know it").

And all of this is easier to take today because of the day I had. I went to church, and chatted with a couple of people I hadn't seen for a while, and that was nice. Later, I was hosting a study session for my students, one of which lives a few blocks away and has a kid that goes to Mr W's school. He was saying how he gets clothes for his kid from the twin boys next door to him, and do I know J and D? Yes, I say, they are in Mr W's grade. More connections made.

I hop on my bike to meet a friend for drinks and run into another friend and her family, and the friend knows the friend I'm going over to see. I'm talking with the friend I met for drinks and her husband came in, and I end up asking if he might consider helping me with a brick patio, if I decide to put one in this summer. He said he would.

As I rode home, I thought about how much I like his town I live in, and that I've done pretty well for myself so far. Running into people isn't so unusual, even in this town of 130,000 people. I've made a fair number of connections in my 12+ years here, and am looking to make more. I actually mentioned tonight that I liked being able to leave stuff lying around on the workbench in the garage because I'm the only one using it. I hadn't appreciated it for a while.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Just the way things work

As I've kvetched about off and on, I have posted my profile on a couple of online dating sites. This process, as you may have heard and/or experienced, can be kind of grueling. You put yourself out there, try to make some connections, and end up being rejected a lot. Although it might seem like other people have a different experience, I think the vast majority of people have to (metaphorically) kiss a lot of frogs to find their prince or princess.

For me, the worst part of the process is getting no response. Silence.

Did he get the email? Did he get hit by a bus? Was it something I said? How I said it? There was a time when I would get these pangs of regret, as though it was something I did or said, or somehow misstepped to cause the person to reject me. Boo hoo. I diagrammed it once, and I'll have to look around for it, but one time I experienced a full circle of emotions starting from being happy and OK , and then "he hasn't replied!" through "was it something I said?" through "screw him!" and back up to happy and OK.

It used to take me a day or two to cycle. Now it takes me about 20 seconds or less. But it still happens sometimes that I can't shake this feeling of being irked that the other party hasn't shown the common courtesy of sending a "no thanks" after we've exchanged a few emails.

I went through it this week. I've been exchanging emails with someone new who seemed interesting and then there was nothing. I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I didn't sleep very well last night, partly because I was thinking about it. And come 4:15 am, when it was clear I was up for the day, I went to the dating site, blocked any further communication from him, and made my profile hidden. Good riddance.

And I decided, then, that I am taking a break from this, and he can kiss my whatever. Done. Because the only thing I can change is my own behavior, right? Now, in my last clever missive to this guy, I had included my personal email, thinking it was time to do so. You know where this is going. I have sworn off online dating, I am so done it's not even funny. And he sends a really nice email today, saying he's been just swamped with school (he's returning for a second bachelor's), and is sorry for not having written sooner.

I am so amazed at how things work sometimes. I was ready to take a break. I had made the decision to take the profile down, did it and meant it. And then, the very same day, he emails. I am a little bewildered at how the universe works sometimes. Or fate, or whatever it is.

I did tell him, though, that I'd like to meet him. I know that violates some kind of etiquette, in that the guy is supposed to drive that part of it, but I need to see if he's worth waiting several days between emails for in the first place, you know?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What is a good value?

I got the first estimate for my deck project, and it's about $4,000 more than I thought it would be, at just a bit over $11,000. I like this guy, and would not mind at all working with him. I'm still waiting for the second bid, and won't get that for several days, but let's assume for the moment that it's close to the first one.

I'm having trouble justifying this project. I have no doubt I would use a deck, and it would be nice to have direct access to the yard from the house. I don't know if that is worth $11,000 to me.

I'm wondering if the money would be better spent on something else. I bet I could get a modest kitchen remodel for $11,000 that would add value to the house. And for that matter, we've gotten another wave of "well, we're not sure what the budgets are going to be looking like for the next fiscal year" at work. I actually ran into my boss's boss, who is this totally nice guy, and who took about 15 minutes out of his day, as he was on his way to something else, to talk with me about the state of things. They just don't know at this point. Money was taken away, but likely we'll get some of it back. How much, no one knows. People are working on it.

This doesn't sound like a good time to spend that money, does it?

It's really important to me, if I get work done on the house, for the work to add value to it. So what would add more, a deck, or a nicer kitchen? I think the answer there is obvious, but I'd like to know whether the deck would add anything at all. Who tells people these things? I had an appraiser come out to do an appraisal the refi, I wonder if he'd be able to answer that.

In response to the job wackiness, I've found another teaching job to apply for. Not ideal by any means, but it's teaching the stuff I want to teach. It's an instructor position in Denver. Year to year. I chickened out of applying to the one in WY a few weeks ago. I like it too much here. But I've asked people for references and all I have to do is write up my teaching philosophy and send the application on its merry electronic way. So I will. I'll think about the implications more if they actually invite me to interview....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Live and Learn

This umbrella will be put on Craigslist this evening or tomorrow. It was, in retrospect, an impulse purchase, and is now taking up more than its fair share of room in my little garage. I've met with two new contractors and will get bids from both this week, so the deck project is on. Because of that, I don't need this anymore.

I bought it last summer in an attempt to use my yard more, which faces west and gets uncomfortably hot at that time of year. As it turned out, I think I sat under it less than 5 times all summer. I have considerably higher hopes for a deck, which will also let me just let the dog out to the yard, as opposed to me having to leash her up and take her outside like I do now.

So, live and learn. I paid $350 for it and the dark plastic base that gets filled with water to stabilize the thing. I'll be happy to sell it for $100 (I'd probably take $75 even).

I've also taken pictures of a a few other items that I will also post on Craigslist: a bike trailer that I used to haul Mr W around in when he was a wee lad, a tagalong bike that he used for a summer, and Mr W's old bike, which is in really nice shape, but he's outgrown. If I can sell all of these things, I'll have recouped the investment for my raised beds.

In addition, I got a nice surprise today, in that my dad sent me some money towards plants for the garden - sweet!! Always the unexpected good surprises mean so much to me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010


With my raised beds done and in place, I have to now decide what to do about irrigation. There is no way I can be trusted to water things regularly, so have pretty much always used a timer to give everything 15-30 minutes of water a day. I use soaker hoses, and those have worked well for me.

I've heard of some people using a drip irrigation system, but that seems like more work to me. I'm OK with cutting old regular hose to the proper length, attaching fittings and then cutting soaker hose to fit on each bed. Is a drip system worth it? I'm also under the impression that having a drip system will limit my options a bit as far as where the driplines get pointed. I guess I just don't know all that much about a drip system. Any thoughts from readers would be welcome.

I had asked the other day what people thought of battery packs and drill bits and actually went to Home Depot last Friday to just buy a corded drill and a new, quality drill bit. I stood in the power tool aisle (with no one appearing to help me, which was unusual for 6 pm on a Friday night) for 15 minutes, but couldn't justify the purchase. I can't think of anything else I'd really use the thing for, so I'm going to search for new batteries online and see how much those cost. A new drill was only $40-$50, so if batteries are $30, then it's a wash and I'll either rent one for the day, or buy a corded one. Haven't checked rental prices yet.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Raised bed day!!

Here's what the yard looked like this morning. With all the moving going on at work, I was able to get two book cases (7' x 35" x 16"), and my co-worker helped me get them home with her truck. I know, that's the fate of people with trucks, isn't it? I bought her a gift card to the gelato store for her trouble.

I also got about a dozen moving boxes, which I cut into 2' sections, soaked in water, and put down (overlapping along the way) along the fence line and under where the raised beds would be. This is for weed control, and we'll see how it works out. The plants are supposed to have no problem penetrating with their roots, but weed seeds aren't supposed to be able to get through from the bottom. It was nice to have uniformly sized pieces of cardboard.

I knocked the plywood backs off the book cases with a mallet, and folded/broke them in half lengthwise to use like the cardboard, except I put them down on the sides of the beds as something for weed control on the paths. Not sure how this will work either, except that we don't get all that much rain here, so the mulch probably won't wash off of the plywood.

I also raked up leaves and stuff out of the yard, and put that in the bottom of each bed. You are supposed to be able to have a layer of non-composted compostable stuff, so I did.

It's important to overlap the pieces of cardboard and also to have them stick out from under the raised bed- again, for weed control.

Almost two yards of soil/compost mix later, and the beds are filled. I had to go back to the store and get more mulch, but I couldn't rest until all the cardboard was covered up. The square thing in the middle is going to get a couple more layers of 4 x 4's and will hold raspberries. Maybe. If I didn't make things too tight back there. It was a concerted effort to make the pathways along the fence wide enough for my cart, and I'm glad I did. The pot is something that I'm planning on getting rid of, it was just to heavy to haul it off today.

The proud gardener! I gotta get me a new hat - that one makes my head look small...