Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Vacation is Working

I wondered how relaxing it would be to be with my thoroughly-on-vacation guys while I tried to balance a bit of beach time with 6 or 7 hours of class prep time each day. Surprisingly, it has been incredibly relaxing. I suspect that at least part of the reason (besides the wonderful view) is that when I'm not working, I'm not working: no cooking (Barnacle Boy has been getting up at 6:15 and going to the bakery for my lemon buns); no laundry (towel and bathing suits get dried, that's it); no tidying (and it looks it, abandoned soda cans are scattered hither and yon). So there is time for an afternoon swim in the waves, to walk 5 miles along the waves, to sit on the deck and write and still sleep 8 hours a night. There's a lesson here somewhere...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The view from vacation

I returned from my chemistry meeting Thursday afternoon, went into my office Friday, then left early this morning to come spend some time on the Jersey shore. One week left (and a bit) before classes begin and I'm excited to be having some low key time off. Retreat was time away, and a respite, and there have been family visits of all sorts, but this is time with just my boys (all three!) in a place we go often enough to have worn grooves. No need to think, we can just settle into the rythym of it all.

Right now I'm sitting on the deck watching the waves, the view is amazing, but it does come with the occasional wart - as you can see! We're staying on an island, essentially a large sandbar. Beach erosion is evident this year - the high tide is nearly to the boardwalk. The gradual erosion of older homes is also evident. Every year we see small family cottages replaced by enormous shore homes. Even the little Catholic church down the street, which dates to the late 1880s, is accomodating the new age, with an electronic ticker sign on the corner advertising Mass times.

Goals for the week: walk morning and evening, play silly games in the waves with the boys, eat lemon buns from the bakery with my morning tea, and...sigh...prep to teach next week (but this beats my office by far).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pocket Guide to WMD

I spent the last week at my professional society's national meeting. There is always a huge exposition along with these meetings - hundreds of vendors peddling their wares, loads of tsotchkes to bring home to Crash and the Boy (lobster lollipops got best of show in my book). This year, the FBI had a booth - hoping to recruit chemists. A couple of my students have gone to work in forensics - real life CSI - so I thought I'd see if there was any good information I could bring back to put up on the career bulletin board. I picked up the basic info, then spotted the brochure: A Pocket Guide to WMD

A Pocket Guide to WMD? Does the generally public really need to have in their pockets a guide to identifying weapons of mass destruction? or listing the associated laws? (Yes, it is illegal to produce, obtain, possess, demonstrate, or teach others to make weapons of mass destruction.) My favorite part of the guide shows the standard warning symbols for biohazards, nuclear materials, and flammable or explosive chemicals, advising us to be able to recognize these symbols. In bold print, it goes on, however, to warn that we should "not expect to see them on a WMD device".

Interestingly, the brochure didn't provide any information about identifying actual devices, like the guides to identifying energy ship sillouettes from WW II, just broad definitions. ("Any weapon involving a disease organism.") The brochure itself seemed to me to be an incendiary device, the sole purpose to suggest we be ever vigilant for we know not what.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Urban Sophisticates

Crash is at a week-long writing camp in the city called a Plop and a Plunk - run by his quirky, but inspiring 7th grade language arts teacher. How inspiring? My child - who historically loves to read, hates to write - begged us to rearrange vacation plans so that he could go to this camp and...write?!

He and his fellow campers climbed onto the local train yesterday afternoon (sans parents), headed for the big city for the first day of their big adventure. They met with a photographer to talk about her work, then went to a local cafe to talk and write. It's been rainy and unseasonably cold, so I figured Crash would have gotten hot chocolate, which he did. He reported that his buddy Wild Man ordered a cappuccino. Such sophistication! (Though most of this group considered ordering something caffeinated "risky behavior"...)

Today they are going to the Rosenbach museum to see Bram Stoker's brainstorming notes for Dracula. Wish I were there!

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Fine Cup of Tea

A riddle, what does a Best Western motel have that the Ritz Carlton does not?

The answer - a great cup of tea. Or at least a microwave in the room so that water may be brought to the boil for said cup of tea. It was rainy and damp in Mystic, CT yesterday and the tea was a welcome start to breakfast, even if it had to be in a styrofoam cup. Last spring, at a conference held at a Ritz, the room had note inviting you to have a fine cup of tea. Made with water below the boiling point, in a carafe covered with coffee oil. Not hardly!

No tea is my travel penance; so I'm glad in this month of being "on the road" to have had at least one wonderful cup.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sad Sailors, Sigh

Wil smama had a bad start to her day - mine was much ado about nothing (though we had plans, many plans!).

Today we finally got my boat onto the (now legally registered) trailer, the missing plug arrived by UPS yesterday (and it fit), drove an hour to the lake and....(drum roll...) discovered that my adored and adoring husband had not only dismantled a difficult to assemble set of lines (the kicking strap AKA boom vang) BUT lost the critical piece that attaches said assembly to the boom (and which secures the boom to the mast) on while helping me put it back after a dry run the previous night. No kicking strap, no sailing.

Thinking he must have left in the garage - I drove home with Crash to see if I could retrieve it and save the day. No go. Where, oh where, did he put it down? Crash and I drove back (it's now 3 pm, we left at 11 ish). Take the boat out of the water (did I mention that we'd put it in the water...we were that close??).

Four very sad sailors. Next possible sail date is September 6. I am praying for good weather already!!

The boys and I are blaming it all on Math Man's Myers-Briggs. Crash and I are INTJ, Barnacle Boy is ENTJ. Math Man can't remember what he is (so we're sure he's not a J!). I'm threatening to get us all t-shirts with our codes on them...and to restrict rigging and take-down to J's only.

Friday, August 10, 2007

RGBP Friday Five: Stress Busters do you deal with the stress monster!!!???
1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ?
It the rate of "stuff" happening that does me in. If I've got a moment to take a breath in between stressors, it's less likely to cause brain implosion.

2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else) ? Laughter! Exercise followed by chocolate runs a close second. In true desperation, Crash's brain sucker (guaranteed to provoke serious giggling, if not outright guffawing).

3.What is your favourite music to chill out to?Something I can sing along to...that makes me breathe deeply. Or something off my "calm" playlist if I can't sing.

4. Where do you go to chill?
Right where I am now, the huge chair in my bedroom. Windows open if the weather permits, listening to the trees rustle likes waves on the shore.

5. Extrovert or introvert, do you relax at a party, or do you prefer a solitary walk? INTJ, that's me. So that would be a walk - all by myself. At a recent family gathering, my attempts to walk the hills alone one evening were met with "Just let me get my shoes..." and "Oh, are you going for a walk? I'll be right there!" Thankfully I can say, "Not tonight, dear!"

Bonus- share your favourite stress busting tip!
Find something to laugh at, yourself if you can....

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Some Like it Hot

....just not us! We went camping for a week. We lasted 2 nights - albeit two nights where the temperature never dropped much below 80o F even in the wee hours, and the humidity was about the same. No need for a campfire to melt the chocolate for s'mores - it melted just sitting under the picnic table.

I still feel like a wimp for coming out and telling Math Man this morning that I really wanted to come home. As we hiked this morning (in the indescribable heat), we came up with ten reasons NOT to wimp out on camping.

1. It's been raining solidly for 3 days and will rain for 3 more.
2. You're morning sick.
3. You have a two month old who wakes up every hour.
4. Fifteen minutes after you set up the tent, a bear has come to call.
5. Your 2-yr old (Barnacle Boy) has consumed an unknown number of Advil.
6. There is a river of water running through the tent.
7. You hung the sleeping bags out to dry while you hiked and another storm rolled in.
8. You have no dry sleeping bags (see 7.).
9. The entire campground is infested with poison ivy. (And neither my then 1 yr old or 3 yr old managed to get into it, sometimes God is good!)
10. Someone fed your 15 month old (Crash) an entire pint of blueberries.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Fiat Lux!

We finally succeeded at getting the Fiat Lux out of mothballs yesterday. She cleaned up nicely, and we're hoping to get her ready to sail, if not this week, soon. The only missing part is the transom bung plug. Seems small, but as I told Barnacle Boy, water going inside the boat's hull is generally not conducive to speedy sailing - just to speedy sinking!

I bought my Laser in 1990, at the Philadelphia Boat Show. Currently you can only get a Vela grey hull, not my splashy red. I have the radial rig - which is rated for one person massing 50-65 kg: perfect for me, the Boy and Crash. Math Man needs more wind that we do to fly (he really should sail with the standard rigging), but he still can get a good reach out of it. This year, the Laser Radial will be a women's Olympic class, the standard rig (for 65 kg and up) has been an Olympic boat since '96.

Vela is from the Latin for sails.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

INTJ - really

Click to view my Personality Profile page

I have one introverted kid (Crash) and one extraverted kid (Barnacle Boy). These days the Boy is using "introvert" like a curse, he's looking for a companion to bounce with and after three weeks of camp Crash needs a bit of down time. After the umpteenth exchange of insults this morning, I just sent Crash up to my room with the instruction to either "nap" or "nook" (curl up in the chair in the nook of the dormer and read). "I can't nap." "Then nook!" Meanwhile, the Boy is blasting Harry Potter Puppet Pals behind me, someone is weed whacking mint in a nearby garden (noisy, but smells nice), my niece and nephew are playing video games in the living room and I would be trying to write a review of two opposing papers, except for the I vs. E war, the YouTube videos and the weed whacking.