Thursday, July 29, 2010

Party On, Bardiac

The party continued this morning when I took some brownies to our departmental staff, and to the staff of another department. These folks are just great, the sorts of staff folks who make the whole community a better place.

And then I went for a bike ride to explore a bit with some friends. We found an overlook for a local dam (but I was walking my bike at that point, because my skinny tires just aren't made for off-roading). It was a fun ride. As long as I was just spinning on a near flat, it was great, but every time I hit even a slight upslope, my legs were complaining. We had a bit of a sprint near the end, and I hit 25.2. I think I'm going to play a bit more with the sprinting, because at this point I think my improvement is mostly just getting in the right gear to really stand up and power things up a bit, and that's just a bit of practice. (I think Mark Cavendish can rest easy, though.)

And then we had lunch. Yum!

And now I'm being lazy. I really need to go mow the back lawn, but just thinking about it makes my legs complain.

I dropped off the check for my birthday present beginning yoga classes!

And, I chatted with my sister in law, who is the best. All is good. I'm so lucky my sibling married someone wonderful.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Let the Party Begin!

I'm taking brownies to my biking group tonight, so I'm counting it as the official start of my birthday celebrating.

I'll take some brownies in to the office staff in my department (and another that always shares treats with me) tomorrow, so they can enjoy some, too.

I got the results from my lab work back, and it's mostly good. My blood sugar was within the high range of normal (ie. NOT in pre-diabetes range), so that's good. If I lose weight and work on not eating sugar, and keep exercising, I'm guessing I can keep it in the healthier range okay. I'm guessing the thing that helped this time around is that I've been exercising?

The cholesterol was good (though the hdl was not quite in the normal range), but the triglycerides were high. So I guess again, less sugar would be better. I hate worrying about health stuff. It seems like there must be a better balance between worrying and not and actually doing something (like losing weight) than I manage to achieve.

But for now, I'm going to party! Let the biking begin!

For my birthday present to myself, I'm going to take a beginning yoga class, and see how I like it. One of my friends who's already good at yoga is going to take it with me, partly to be supportive (which, wow, can I just say, what a good friend) and partly to look at how another instructor works with beginners. So I should enjoy it.

Lesson Learned

The other night, my internet went out. I did the usual turn on turn off stuff with the modem and computer, but had no luck. (The TV still worked, though.)

So in the morning, it wasn't going well again, so I called the cable company and the tech there walked me through trying to get it to work, and when it didn't, made an appointment for a tech to come to the house.

This morning the tech came, took one look at the little modem box, and said (in a kind chuckling sort of way) that he knew what was wrong. The "standby" button was pushed.

The only thing I can figure is that I was vaccuming in that area the other night and must have moved the modem and hit the (poorly positioned because way to easy to press accidentally) button.

That will teach me not to vaccuum!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'm setting a couple biking goals. I've been biking inside during rain (and watching the tour) a bit, and outside. So I've tried some different stuff.

Sprint: my fastest sprint speed yesterday was 22.9 mph.
Goal: 23.5 mph. (Mark Cavendish goes upwards of 40mph.)

Sprint: my longest sprint interval yesterday was 45 seconds.
Goal: 1 minute.

Trainer: my fastest 10 miles is at 18 mph (with the lowest resistance setting)
Goal: 10 miles at 20 mph.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Computing Weirdness

NWU's IT folks just changed the system we use to read our email over the internet (at home or elsewhere off campus) about two weeks ago.

Ever since then, when I go to log in, it takes me to the log in page and I type in my information, and then about half the time, I get a screen that says it can't find that page.

If I go to another page, and then back to try to log in again, it usually logs me in just fine.

See, I tend to think that machinery should either work or not work. But this working sometimes thing is weird. I just don't get it.

But it's frustrating in that minorly frustrating way. It adds clicks before I get to see what I want to see. But that's it. It just adds clicks. It's not like the computer blows up and takes off my legs above the knees or anything (for which I AM grateful). So I feel a little silly calling the help line to ask about it.

I hate when the campus IT folks change stuff that works just fine because they're going to make it way better! It's like when Word decides to make every document Cambria with an extra space between paragraphs because some idiot thinks that's BETTER! Gah.

(I did call, and the computer guy had me clean out my whole browser thing and start fresh. But then the next time I tried the email, it did the same "can't load this page" thing. So I called again, and got a different guy, who said he couldn't help me but would tell the IT folks. I'm guessing there's a circular file somewhere with these sorts of complaints, eh?)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kids These Days

I've been putting some seed up on the railings of my deck because several kinds of birds seem more comfortable eating there, especially when the fledglings are around.

I can see out to the railings, and it's very nice to watch what comes to feed.

A White-Breasted Nuthatch lands, just on one side of the little pile of seeds on the railing and begins to feed. A moment later, another lands, just on the other side of the little pile of seeds and immediately goes into the wing fluttering, crouching, and screaming behavior that baby birds use to get their parents to feed them.

I had to laugh. I imagine the adult (I presume) was sitting there thinking, "FEED YOURSELF!" And after a couple moments of unsuccessful begging, the juvenile (I presume) deigned to move its beak half an inch lower (if that) and actually pick up seed for itself.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A More Serious Dilemma

Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk? (It's an immature and one or the other, but I'm confused.) And these are the best photos I got, even though they're not great.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I went to my well woman visit thing last week, and the doctor strongly encouraged me to lose weight. Strongly. Or else bad things will happen at some point in the not so distant future.

I get really stressy about anything medical. Anything. So I make the appointment, and then I stress out for two months about it (It would be SO less stressful if you could get an appointment in less than two months!). I fret and worry and stress. And then it's not actually that bad, and I wonder why I get so stressy. (Weirdly, I don't stress at all about donating blood, or I simply wouldn't do it. I don't know why, but my blood pressure when I donate is about 20 points lower for the top number than when I go for the well woman check. They always have to check it twice, and it drops after a while to way less scary.)

I had to go have a blood lab thing yesterday, and the guy took one look at my arm and said he would use a really tiny needle. But I said that I give blood a lot (obvious from the line of scars) and that he should use whatever big honking needle they use for that, and it would be fine. And he looked doubtful, but he did, and indeed it was fine. Now I have to wait to see if bad things have already started to happen. And I'm a little stressy about that, too.

So, I need to lose weight. I just have to decide that I really want to enough to do without sugary stuff in a strict way, and I can. But boy, that's a hard decision for real. If I were all dramatic about it, I'd wave my arms and talk about quality of life. But it's just sugar, right? Mmmm, sugar.

So, on Sunday, I started being strict. And it's going okay. But I went out biking a bit yesterday, and my legs were sad. I biked the Cty C hill, out 8 miles and back(the hill part is about a mile long, and steep for me, but would barely count as a pimple in the landscape for the Tour men; after that it's a mildly rolly ride). And by the way back, my legs were sad. I've got to find a balance between being strict and eating food that works for biking.

About 10 years ago, I lost 25 pounds being very strict. And I've gained most of it back, mostly within the past year. :( So I know I can lose it, but I think I'm going to not be quite as strict (when I go out to dinner with friends, for example). I also exercise a whole lot more than I did 10 years ago, so hopefully I can balance things out.

I can't bring myself to think about how much I should aim to lose. :(

***I wrote that part earlier, and then went for my Wednesday group ride a bit ago. It's a slower ride and less hilly, but longer, and my legs were way better. I tried to make sure I had eaten a bit better and drank a lot of water. BUT, on a regular "work out" ride, my average heart rate is about 154 for the hour or hour and a half, and on this ride my average rate was 142. So I know I don't work nearly as hard on these rides. But they're fun rides and I like the group folks.***

I'm about to hit the big 50. A couple of my friends are throwing me a party. I'm feeling a little awkward about it, but also good. I just chatted with one of the really good cook folks, and she's going to bake me a cake. (That will blow the "strict" thing for the day, but that's okay.)

I have to decide about asking my sibling and his family. The thing is, I'm not out with my family, but at this party, they'd have to be incredibly obtuse to not notice that there are a lot of lesbians.

I think my brother would be okay. I know my sister in law will be fine.

But I grew up with a mother who lectured me a lot about how horrible "homos" are. In fact, the last big fight I had with her (probably 15 years ago now), she was insisting that gay marriage was an insult to her marriage, and I dared to say that it wasn't, and she said that basically I didn't have a right to an opinion because she is my mother and blah blah. So I told her that if I weren't allowed to express a differing opinion, then she couldn't talk politics at me. Period. And I've pretty much shut down every attempt she's made since to say anything political. (A few years after my father died, she said she'd decided that maybe gay marriage wasn't such a horrible idea after all.)

So, it's just been easier never to say anything to her. (I haven't told her anything meaningful about my personal life for years before that, because she thinks my business is everyone's business. Seriously, when I was in high school she'd meet some friend at a restaurant, and then I'd walk up from the restroom, and the stranger would tell me about how they'd been talking about my period or my failing a school quiz.)

And I'm a coward. Have I mentioned that before? Yes, I'm a coward. COWARD.

So I have to decide to tell my brother. And then my Mom will inevitably find out. So I should probably mention it to her before that. And then there will be fireworks simply because I'm an uncommunicative and horrible daughter who should have told her years ago. And that's true. I am uncommunicative.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Research Crumbs

I'm working on my questionnaire thing, so that I can get it all ready for the IRB and ready to do the project. But every time I talk to someone who's smart and has done stuff before, they have a good question that brings me to a stop for a while. That's good, because each time, figuring out the answer helps me. But it's also frustrating in that endless draft way.

So here's how you can help: I'm trying to figure out a good term(s) for the sorts of papers I'm interested in researching about within English literature courses. I've been using "research paper," but a colleague just gave me some really helpful feedback and thinks that the term itself might be confusing and/or misleading. S/he suggested that "literary analysis" was what s/he'd been assigned as an English major.

So, what term(s) do you use for the "big paper" usually due near the end of a junior or senior level lit course?

If anyone would be willing to send me a copy of an assignment for one of these papers, I'd find that helpful, because I need to think about how these work before I ask my colleagues here. (If you're a colleague here, pretend you aren't for the moment, or something.) My email is bardiacblogger AT yahoo DOT com.

Thanks, oh wise sharers of the blogosphere!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bike Bragging

This ad cracks me up.

I rode a short loop today. Around here, some of our tougher little hills have names. Today I rode Priory Hill and Orchard Hill. (You can guess what's at the top of each of these little hills, can't you?) The Tour men wouldn't notice them, but I do. You know the way the Tour men look after a 100+ mile ride going up a really steep 5K climb at the end? And some of them "fall" off the back? I look like I've fallen off the back of my lone self peleton after 2 miles and a very short hill. But it's worth the struggle to get up the hill when I get to bomb down it.

I wonder how many energy gels I could eat without throwing up?

Friday, July 16, 2010


I made what I thought was a witty comment on a blog the other day, and the blogger took it seriously. I do that sometimes. Unfortunately, I think the blogger was a little offended or irritated.

Usually, people get what little humor I have in person, but on the internets, no one knows your a dog.

My students sometimes don't get my sense of humor. I think it's a regional thing with that. Only partly, though, because sometimes I'm just not as funny as I wish I were (because if I were that funny, I'd make a whole lot more money and live in Fantasy City).

So, I went to the doctor's the other day for my well-woman check thing. I'm healthy, mostly, but I need to lose weight. I'm a stress eater. When I get stressy, I eat sugary stuff, in excess. And I feel better. And I gain weight. And blah blah. And this past year has been extra stressful.

It's a lot less scary than shooting up, though, because no one runs around aiming guns at me because I've got an oatmeal raisin cookie.

And it's less scary than drinking lots of alcohol and then trying to drive home, because I'm way more functional after a double ice cream cone than after even one drink.

So, anyway, the doctor suggested maybe counseling would help with stress. Maybe.

But here's the thing: Counseling me is not going to change the economy. It's not going to reduce my class sizes, or zap the furlough pay cut and produce a raise so I can keep up with the cost of living. Counseling me isn't going to end patriarchy or sexism or racism. And if counseling leads me to accept those things calmly and not care, then counseling is the wrong thing. I would do better to get a gun. (But I'm sure prison is way more stressful than my current life, so... See, that's supposed to be humor, but around here, people would just look nervous, knowing they have an arsenal in their basement, and thinking that I probably do, too.)

I AM thinking of trying yoga, though. I have a couple friends who do yoga, and they seem to find it helpful for stress (and core strength, which is good for all sorts of stuffs).

I need to find something that will help me do something other than eat sugar when I get stressed out. And I'm open to other ideas.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The BooBoo in Perspective

I found out today that an old friend has cancer. This friend has one of those cancers that's pretty darned bad, but apparently not so bad that they won't try treating my friend.

I feel useless. All my education, and I can't do a thing to help. Even if I'd studied the right things, it sounds like there wouldn't be much I could do to help.

Except, maybe my friend needs donated blood? Or maybe someone else's friend needs donated blood.

See, that's perspective.

My booboo is just a bruise. It looks WAY more impressive than it ever felt painful, and way more impressive than it ever was dangerous, I'm pretty sure. I think part of the impressiveness may come from the fact that I iced my elbow that evening. In fact, the bruise is suspiciously almost exactly the size of the ice pack on my skin. So I'm guessing I had a little extra bleeding from the artery (not much, because it didn't swell up huge or anything), and that pooled where I was sitting with my elbow on the ice pack.

My legs are regularly sorer from riding my bike than my arm was that evening. And my arm hasn't been sore since. (And I rode the next day without problems.) I may not be the biggest whuss you've ever known, but I'm in the top ten. If it hurt, I'd be whining like crazy.

I don't see any point in going back and showing the nurses. For one thing, they'd feel a little bad. But they were plenty concerned for me that day. They took good care of me, and they don't need to feel bad about that. They iced my arm and made sure to go over what to do if I didn't feel well and so forth; they made sure to warn me not to do anything strenuous with the arm that day. (And remember, the stuff they make you read warns you that you may get a bruise. I could have asked them to stop at any point and I'm sure they would have, so it was my choice to get poked, and my choice to continue donating when they hit what they thought was an artery.)

For another thing, I think those nurses know way horrible things that can happen to people, and my booboo is not one of those things.

For a final thing, I've been giving blood off and on since I was 16 or 17 (with parental permission early on). I didn't give regularly all that time, but I've probably given regularly for nigh on 20 years. And every single time, I've been a pain in the rear to the nurse who has to find my vein. And just about every single time, whichever nurse had the needle has found my vein and I've donated without any problems.

This is the worst problem I've had, and it's a booboo.

But it's an impressive looking booboo, so I showed it off to my blog friends.

And in another 8 weeks, I'm planning to donate blood again. (And hoping they hit the vein in my right arm the first time!) My blood can't cure cancer (what a superpower THAT wouyld be!), but just maybe it makes someone's friend feel a little less crappy along the way.

Monday, July 12, 2010


One of my friends is a really good gardener. She has amazing patience for figuing out plant stuff. And so, she's figured out how to fool artichokes into thinking they're two years old in their first year. She's got artichokes (the chokes, not just the plants) on her plants now! In the upper midwest!

Now that she's been successful, she shared a couple little plants that she didn't have room for in her planting area (so they were in a pot, a bit too crowded for real plant happiness) with me! I planted them today. MAYBE they'll actually grow up enough to make chokes. And MAYBE I can dig them up and get them to survive in my basement for winter and then plant them next year for reals?

At any rate, the idea of having artichokes in my garden is just delightful.

My bruise is developing along.
One of my friends suggested that I needed to make a way better story about how I got it, something about doing a header off my bike and being dragged along for several hundred feet or something. But I don't have road rash or a booboo anywhere but this one place, so that didn't sound convincing. Any good ideas?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Boo Boo

I gave blood the other day. Usually, this works out just fine. They look at my arms, and choose a vein in the right arm. And poke, dig a bit, and then wait while the blood collects.

This time, they dug around in the right arm and couldn't get any blood. Four of the nurses tried, and four failed. They said there might have been a clot or something in the needle. The digging around gets unfun fairly fast. Usually, the poke and a quick dig don't hurt. But sometimes, the needle sitting there for even a little moment between people trying really hurts. It's like it's sitting at a nerve or something, and just ouchies.

So then they tried the left arm. Let me tell you about my left arm. It's pretty whussy. Basically, it knows how to hold down the paper when I write, and that's pretty much it. So the veins are even more difficult to get.

The nurse who was in charge of me decided she couldn't find a vein, so called over one of the others, the "go to" nurse for bad veins. So she found a vein and went for it.

Poke. Dig. Dig a bit more. Another nurse dug around for a bit. Nothing. So the "go to" nurse dug some more, and then, voila, she got something. What she got was bright red.

Now usually, when you give blood, the blood is sort of a dark purple. But this was bright red, the sort of bright primary red that little kids use when they draw blood. The "go to" nurse gave the other nurse a look. The other nurse gave a look back. Then another nurse came over to look at the bag. And then the supervisor came over to look.

They were worried that she'd gotten an artery rather than a vein. But they told me that they weren't sure, that maybe my blood was just really well oxygenated at the time. They told me it doesn't really matter for the person receiving the blood stuff, but that they try not to use arteries because they're harder to stop the bleeding and also can hurt a bit more.

So they weren't sure.

But the bruising is impressive, isn't it? (It doesn't hurt now, but the first evening was a bit sore and swollen. I have a theory: if they have to dig around very much, then I feel sort of blah the next couple of hours. If not, then I don't feel blah at all.)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Not Half Bad

I got some of my momentum back yesterday.

I did most of the stuff on my list except finishing Freire. Instead, I realized that the Tour is on, so I watched that a bit. I also got my hair cut and went for a ride with the Wednesday group (18+ miles).

Here's today's boring list:

1. Donate blood.
2. Read Freire. (Don't want to cause problems for poor Oscar Freire!)
3. Clean up home office a bit.
4. Have lunch with a friend.
5. Do a load of wash.
6. Clean guest bathroom.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Lost Momentum

I've lost momentum on my projects. For one thing, it's way easier to read patriarchal twaddle than academic stuff. And easier to sit on my rear playing a computer game than prepping my classes (which involves that academic reading).

I need to regain some momentum!

Here's my to-do list for the day:

1. Turn off the computer.
2. Weed whack. (Weed whacking is self-limiting. I whack to the end of the batteries' lives for the day, and that's it.)
3. Go to campus, print out project notes.
4. Revise project questionnaire.
5. Begin working on IRB forms.
6. Finish Freire.

Let's see how far I get.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hard Sell: The Blood Bank and Me

I got a call a little bit ago from the Red Cross folks about scheduling a new blood donation. I donate pretty regularly and have for a while.

They always thank me for my past donations, and then go into a spiel about how my blood has saved so many lives and how they're short on blood of my special type (not so special, but whatever), and so on.

They don't need to. I'm happy to be healthy enough to give and I try to give regularly. All I need is to remember that it's time.

But the spiel makes me feel like they're sort of lying. I can't have saved that many lives, because some of the blood has to have gone to people who weren't saved, or who weren't saved but made more comfortable, or who weren't saved but were a little healthier for a while longer, or whatever. And I'll bet some of my blood has ended up getting tossed because it was out of the fridge too long or whatever. I'm okay with that, because that's how life works. Even in the best systems, there's some waste and loss. And even my very special blood can't actually be an elixer of life every time.

And they've always got exactly the same three day supply of my blood type. Is that because they pretty much always have a three day supply? In summer it's OMG, we need blood because it's summer! In spring it's OMG, we need blood because it's spring, and so on. It's always a three day supply.

I don't know; the spiel irritates me. It's supposed to make me feel all warm and fuzzy, and it doesn't.


Bonus whining about the stupid book and blood: I find it hard to "buy" a female post-pubescent character who faints at the sight of a little blood (as in, a drop or two, pricked from a finger for a blood typing exercise in school). Seriously, you'd think she'd have fainted in the bathroom a couple times a day for a week a month and whacked her head something awful, wouldn't you? It's not like she'd survive hitting her head on bathroom tiles all the time. (Do vampires get turned on by menstrual blood? Driven crazy by the smell? Inquiring minds want to know.)

One last thing: do they even do blood typing exercises in high school or college biology classes anymore? Wouldn't the powers that be totally panic at the merest possibility that someone might have HIV or Hep [alphabet] or something?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Patriarchal Twaddle

I'm visiting my sibling's family, and one of the kids is a fan of that recent book series, the one you know of. No, the other one. So I just read it.

And can I say, what a load of patriarchal twaddle.

Look, a girl-child who's clumsy and horny and constantly needs a boy-man to guide her to her new life, take care of her.

She's clumsy, feels unappealing, etc etc. He's a physical speciman, strong, fast, older, experienced, dangerous but not to her. And rich, of course.

He'll introduce her to her sexuality so she's not really responsible and sure as heck won't get pregnant. Immortal love and all that.


It's easy to see why the set up is so appealing to young women and girls in our patriarchy, but it's disheartening, too. It's so effing conservative, but when times are scary, conservative seems comforting, I guess.


I can't believe this, but I have a couple specific problems with the book.

1. If you could pass as an adult, would there be any way in hell you'd go back to high school? ANY WAY IN HELL? But there are what, four, five of these "family members" sitting through the hell of high school again, not because they have to, but because? Well, it's not clear why.

2. Why are they rich? There's one earning an income, supporting five (or have I lost count), as a rural doctor, while they drive around in endless sports cars. Yeah. And even the main female character doesn't seem to have money worries. She gets in a cab and pulls out four $20s. Really? Most high school kids carry that sort of money?

3. Predators. In the real world, most predators are actually at a disadvantage getting animal/insect prey. If you look at something like wolves, they give chase a LOT more than they actually catch their prey. That's because they've co-evolved, and if they were able to get their prey every single time, they'd have killed off all the prey, and then they'd either have to find another prey or starve themselves.

It's NOT because predators are smart enough to avoid killing off their prey, but because if things weren't sort of in balance through co-evolution, they'd have died off.

Now think of this predator group: they're FAR superior to their prey. In fact, they're so far superior that just about no prey would survive a predation attempt. (And if it did, it would become a predator, too?)

You don't think a predator that effective would kill off its prey pretty darned quickly? (Think of the flightless birds and how quickly they died off when effective predators got into their previously safish environment.)

Here's the thing: you can imagine a given individual predator choosing not to kill off his/her prey. But the predator next door is at a huge advantage at a given moment if it does take the prey, so long as taking the prey helps its reproductive success. How does that work with a group that doesn't reproduce like mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, fish, or whatever?

4. And finally, how does this sort of group evolve? Yeah, there's that.

But, I talk to my niece and other kids, and it's clear to me that the patriarchal narrative is really attractive, and critical thinking doesn't let you embrace the fantasy nearly as comfortingly.

And I despair.

We need a narrative that's not patriarchal twaddle, or we need to get rid of narrative.