The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hypothetical problem


So, here's my hypothetical problem. Let's just say that this female researcher named--I don't know--Stusan was co-teaching a course. Let's just say that Stusan met with her co-teacher before the course started, and they discussed the numerous things that needed to be done before the course started. A list was created and tasks assigned. However, the co-teacher completely failed to any of the things on his list, causing Stusan, who was lecturing first, to have to hastily complete the entire list herself.
One task was to figure out what video tapes were to be used, check them out from the library, find a functioning VCR, and preview the tapes. Stusan eventually found the correct tapes, and it took her two trips to carry them all home from the library. Stusan and her extraordinarily helpful labmate tested three lab VCRs and 5 heavy monitors in all possible combinations with multiple connector cables but to no avail. Finally, the helpful labmate had her boyfriend who works in a pawnshop buy a used VCR for the lab. Thus Stusan was finally able to watch the videotapes and write her labs.

Yesterday, the co-teacher walks into Stusan's office, and rifles through all of the videotapes, selects one and starts to leave her office before he observes that, indeed, Stusan is IN the office. He offers a few words of greetings, happily discovers the conveniently located VCR and monitor, and settles in to watch the tape.

So, Stusan is a little pissed off. Although the lazy co-worker has been informed that Stusan is pissed off at him for his laziness, he has no idea what kind of effort went into the tasks that he neglected to do, and is enjoying the spoils of Stusan's hard work.
Here is my question for you, given that Stusan is attempting to maintain a professional and ladylike reputation, and also does not want the students to suffer: what should Stusan do?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have some cake


OK, I don't usually post random funny things that I see on the web, but I strongly recommend that you check out the blog Cake Wrecks which chronicles cake-tastrophes. It made me laugh so hard that I was rolling around, gasping and crying. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sweet niblets


The Sweet Corn Blues Festival was a-happening this weekend, a mere three block from our house. There was corn (both on the cob and kettle). There was blues. The main attraction for the kids is that their favorite store Acme comics puts out all of their 10-cent comics and discounted figures for sale.



The kids found some wonderful treasures and ate some corn and ice cream. We also ran into many people that we knew.


Also, Argos was a superstar. We couldn't walk 10 feet down the street without someone asking to pet him. I guess that Malamutes are uncommon here? Argos is a large handsome dog, but people act like they have never seen anything like him. Argos got noticeably greasy from all of the petting (especially what with everyone eating buttered corn on the cob). He had corn, too. (Argos likes to eat the cob, so we try to limit his corn consumption.) But overall, he was a great sport about everything, given that it was quite hot, and he had been pet by probably 50 or 60 people over the hour and a half that we were at the festival.

The blues were really good, too. I would have liked to stay longer, but the kids will only politely tolerate so much live entertainment.

article in the Pantagraph

More TaeKwonDo


Sam tested for his high green belt today. But that's not all--after having been a TaeKwonDo spectator for the last 9 months, Danny joined the class and tested for his yellow belt. Sam really enjoys the fact that he outranks Danny!

Here's Danny and Sam doing their forms:
video
Danny breaks a board!
video
Sam had a little trouble breaking his board this time. But he got it eventually!
video
Here's Sam sparring with Katana:
video

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Empty nest


Joseph started Kindergarten today! Of course, he is an old pro at school--he has been going at least part-day since he was a baby. But it was still emotional. All of the other parents were verklempt and taking videos.
As a nod to the significance of the event, we made Joseph a "To know me is to love me" sticker to wear to school. Danny nostalgically relates that he wore a similar sticker on his first day of kindergarten a million years ago.

On a related note, yesterday Joseph had his dreaded pre-Kindergarten doctor's appointment. As anyone with older kids may recall, this is the really bad one. Joseph had a blood titer, a full exam and five vaccinations shots. The poor little guy could be heard screaming "I do not like this!!! I do not like this at all!!" throughout the medical center. Sam ended up getting an unscheduled chickenpox booster just because he happened to be there. The nurse rewarded the kids with stickers and afterwards we took them to Acme and let them pick out some new comics.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2nd 3rd Sunday Market


We all went to the 3rd Sunday Market for the second time--this time I remembered to bring a camera! Sam and I took loads of pictures. I will post some on my blog and some on his. Sam really has his own perspective on subject matter and composition, so I recommend checking out his blog, too.

As I have mentioned, the 3rd Sunday Market has seriously cool vintage. My favorites are melamine dishware and Bakelite jewelry.


My Bakelite pusher wasn't there this month, but there were still quite a few pieces of Bakelite jewelry for sale.

It looks like most of the wares are cherry-picked from old farmhouses around the midwest. I have seen old 40's-50's technology here that I never knew existed, like non-electric calculators and various specialized kitchen implements. There are also more modern vintage machines like chrome hairdriers, typewriters, and cool (dangerous) old toys.

Ooooh--I want it!

WTF? Are there any shells left in the ocean after some insane crafter did this?

Hi Kim--I recall that you like the aluminum?

There is also a hint of the seamier side of midwestern farm life: vintage cartoon porn!

Also, there was a startlingly diverse array of "Black Americana" as it is euphemistically called. I have never seen this kind of thing in vintage stores--only in museums documenting the history of racism in America. I am not entirely sure how to read it. Who collects these things--racists or people trying to make sure that past racial prejudices are not forgotten?






On the way home, we passed this historic arch:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Garden explosion


Our rental house in Normal has a garden plot in the backyard. (It looks like most houses around here do.) As a grad student, I never had enough time for a well-maintained garden, so I couldn't resist the opportunity. This spring I planted beans, tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini, eggplant and some herbs. And while I was away at ISBE, the garden exploded!

The beans are pretty much done--they were quite good.

I planted 6 different heirloom tomatoes (plus Sweet 100's). They are really tasty! We have been eating tomato salads every day. Also, I had to go to a potluck today, and I made up a pretty good dish with tomatoes, parsley and basil in mixed brown rice with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Also, Penny the turtle has a pretty small and boring indoor enclosure and I wanted her to be able to be outside sometimes. I fenced the garden and tacked down the fencing, so Penny can patrol the veggies during the day without escaping.

ISBE 2008


This week I have been at the International Society for Behavioral Ecology meeting at Cornell University. I had a great time, too. Really, these academic meetings are the closest thing to a vacation that I get. (Believe me, taking kids on vacation is not a vacation for the parents!!) At these meetings I get to catch up on my sleep, my drinking and recent developments in animal behavior all at the same time!

I met up with old friends, including Gita, Robin and Nathan and Tracie, and met plenty of new people.

The talks were great, and my poster was received well.

Other random highlights: I had a nice chat with Malte Andersson--he was a very pleasant guy who also likes running. I also met Amotz Zahavi, who turned out to be exceedingly charming and kind of an old horndog. Everywhere Zahavi went, he was surrounded by beatific young female grad students hanging on his every word.

The food was excellent and the dining was very well organized--apparently Cornell has a culinary school as well as a school of hotel management. We also had a few nice meals in Ithaca (Mexican food, Thai food, Indian food and Mediterranean food) which were quite good). I was able to run most days, although Ithaca is really hilly, so I probably got more exercise than I intended.

When I got home, Joseph had drawn this giant poster-sized welcome home card: