Category Archives: jobs

wackadoodle art installation or photosynthesis experiment: you be the judge

I really enjoyed Antwerp. Sometimes, when you go places for conferences (especially academic ones), you can end up far away from the city you are in, or so insanely busy that you rarely see more than whatever happens to be in between the hotel and the venue.

Antwerp was a great location for a conference.  The university it was held at is absolutely gorgeous (more pictures of that later), and the city itself is nicely navigable on foot, even for me (I can get lost on a straight line). There were also weird and wonderful things around nearly every corner from a printing museum (with the world’s oldest printing press!) to this bizarre combination of sculpture and science they had out on a side street. I couldn’t resist photographing it, but I really should have videoed.  There was steam shooting out bits and propellers spinning and just generally a lot of movement that the still photo doesn’t really capture well. It does look like something out of Scott Westerfeld’s steampunk adventures doesn’t it? It is almost too easy to imagine that it’s just one moment away from lifting up one of those spidery legs and skittering off down the street. Continue reading

Sometimes, you get to smile so much your face feels tired

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The past month has been busy, stressful, fun, and (thank goodness) sporadically sunny. In getting ready for a talk at a conference in Antwerp, I was really having to work closely with the themes that we have drawn from our study. Every once in awhile, I feel like I gain greater insights while trying to figure out a way to communicate with others than when I purposefully analyse and focus on the data. I’m sure it is a consequence of really having to understand the topic before trying to teach others, but it felt like a real breakthrough to me. The themes (and the metaphors we are using to explain them) are fairly complex and really, really, interwoven, so separating them out in a way that makes sense outside of my own head and instincts has been more difficult than I expected. That said, I feel much better about the presentation, and hopefully most of the bugs will be worked out this week during our practice meeting.

So, yeah, that’s one reason for the happy picture in this post. Another reason, of course, is the horse himself. The barn I ride at has been hosting some fun summer dressage shows. I’ve been entering them as much to force myself to focus on goals as to actually compete. Moss really deserves a rider who is always trying to improve. He’s such a talented guy, and he really enjoys working (and, of course, hacking and galloping), but it is waaaaayyy too easy to just enjoy riding around and around on such a nice horse without really focusing on improving, so hopefully these little shows will help me up my game a bit.  They’ve already convinced me that I should start trying to do more complicated dressage–Moss has really gotten a lot stronger over the past few months, and he feels ready to really start working on more demanding work. My big goals, I guess, are to get us “off campus” for a few tiny (low key!) shows and to work on more collected work (the extended work, we like, but the stuff that requires us to slow down? not so much).  I’ve also signed myself up for the Stage 1 exam for the BHS. Hopefully, I’ll get that, my riding and road safety, and my Stage 2 done this year and then start prepping for my Stage 3 (which I can use to get jobs teaching riding!).

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la la la, what do you mean I have a deadline at work?

stalinWithout fail, when I have a very high pressure deadline, I start reading a really interesting, really long book.  I’m sure it’s just a coping mechanism, but I am equally sure it looks like craziness. I’ve pick up Stalin before, but I got distracted by some BookGeeks books, and it spent some time languishing on my shelf.  Not because it wasn’t fascinating, because it is, and tremendously well-written, but I’m fairly certain there was a David Eddings and random young-adult-lit craving in between then and now, and it just wasn’t the right time to read the book.

Now, though, now that I need to write a 6,000 word article by Tuesday, well, now I really feel like some gritty Russian history. Unexpected, I know, but it’s really engrossing right now watching everyone run around in response to some of the truly terrible policies they were busy implementing while he was in charge.  I suppose it’s partially about perspective.  (If I think I’m stressed, imagine what day to day life at that point must have been like). I think that it’s also so divorced from what I’m experiencing that it’s easy to forget about everything else I’ve got going on when I read it, making it quite a successful distraction.

The second most successful distraction in my life (well, after my husband) would have to be the horses. I am so glad that I’m back to my four day a week riding schedule with Moss. The holidays were nice, and the extra sleep was nice, but seeing the sun rise Thursday morning on my hack was just one of those things that seems to make life solid and happy. There was no one else on the farm ride, and Moss just relaxed, stretched his giraffe’s-would-be-jealous-neck out, and ambled around.  He’s easily the happiest horse I’ve ever ridden, happy to be in work, happy to be on a hack, happy to snuffle through pockets for mints.  He’s still got the thoroughbred edge, which is what keeps me interested, but there is something about a horse that sincerely seems to be enjoying himself that is gratifying and confidence building.  I’ve been working lately on getting him really motoring around and going forward-forward-forward.  Suddenly, I’ve got this huge powerful horse on my hands, and we’re magically able to work on collection (before we’d unlocked the motor, he’d always strongly objected to any sort of compression in his stride).  Next I need to work on his downward transitions, as I think I’m too hesitant to really demand them.

I keep considering writing a review instead of going back to the paper, but I think I’ll save that for a reward for myself after I finish the edits on the paper.

Sigh. And now, back to the typing and editing of the paper.