Tuesday, July 25, 2006

new ventures in the blogosphere

I'm very excited about some new things starting up in my little bloggy circle.

There is a brand new collaborative blog on the block, The Active Academic, and I'm thrilled to be a contributor along with other people I've really come to admire. It is a place for us to motivate each other, post recipe suggestions, have some friendly accountability while we try to change our bodies for the better. Face it, academia is a sedentary pursuit. We currently have 17(!) professors, ABDs, and grad students talking about their goals and challenges. We're putting a tag system in place so you can find relevant posts faster, because we have a LOT of content in a short amount of time.

Then, StyleyGeek came up with a great idea for a Carnival for Grad Students and it looks like my title suggestion is winning the name vote. The idea is to have a place to collect writings about grad student life, experiences, etc from different points of view. I'll let you know when the first one appears!

Friday, July 21, 2006

creepy crawlies

Let me say first that I really love living here in West Coast University Town. I do. The weather is much nicer than my hometown in the Northeast.

I am getting really tired of the arachnids however. I swear, this place has spiders everywhere. The only place I don't remember being so bad was the very nice new house I lived in when I first moved here. The 100+ year-old house I lived in next? 8 legged wonders in nearly every corner. Even the bathroom. What do they eat in the bathroom?? These are not "cute" little squish-em-with-a-tissue spiders either. These are big leggy long beasties. Cellar spiders or something? I looked it up once. Blargh. Usually I don't mind them because I hate bugs more, but when you see them every day, all over? Ick.

The worst ones are those that seem to be having their prime adult phase outdoors right now. They are not leggy and skinny. They are thick, squat sumo-wrestler buggers. And they make webs like steel thread. They also like to stretch webs across doorways. Ask Mr. Bee. He walked right into one on his way to work on Monday out our front door. He is terrified of spiders. Not a good day. We now find ourselves on Spider Watch 2006 whenever we leave. Sumo spiders like to make webs on the streetlamps nearby, as well as from the front eaves of our row of townhouses to the bushes in front. Nice little row of spiderwebs out front these days. *shudder*

I usually don't bother killing them, because there's always another one to take it's place. I guess I should be happy they aren't black widows, though I've seen two of them in rather close quarters. Well, time to head to the lab. Hopefully I won't get snared on my way out.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I sucked it up and started going to the gym again. I've discovered that going before work was sabotaging my brain function, but working out at the end of the day that doesn't matter so much. The biggest drawback of the end-of-the-day workout is the crowd. Many many more people, and a lot of them are doing the Show Off method of exercising. It is at this time of day where you see guy after guy walk up to the reclining sit-up table with huge round weights in hand. The guys doing 5 reps of an arm curl at 300 lbs and then walking off with a swagger. Girls in spandex asking the guys to "teach" them how to lift weights. Blargh.

I am not in shape. I am overweight. It sucks to be working on an eliptical next to the human model for Barbie. However, you can be completely anti-social at the gym and no one minds. The most awkward thing though, is seeing people you know.

Who is the worst to run into at the gym?

A) Several of your former students, who wave to you while you're doing chest presses
B) Your department chair, who nods at you from the pull-up bar
C) A random faculty member who you don't know well, but you know he recognizes you
D) One of your fellow grad students from your cohort, who hasn't seen you much lately
E) An old ex-boyfriend

I'm going with B. I'm not sure that E was even the right person, but I wasn't going to stare at him to find out. Your vote? Who was the most awkward person you've run into at the gym?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Line of Sight

I saw a former student on campus the other day and it triggered a memory. He wasn't even "my" student as he was assigned a lab section belonging to someone else. I was teaching my evening lab and everyone was worried about the upcoming midterm. The Tutoring Center had been full of anxious students earlier that day. At one point I turned and found an unfamiliar face by the doorway. I immediately felt guilty for not seeing him earlier: he was in a wheelchair, placing him a good two feet below my line of sight. The Tutoring Center was closed, but he had a quick question, did I have time to answer it? He went over to a table so that I didn't have to worry about whether to stand or to crouch while answering him. It was a quick question and he was on his way and I went back to my students.

Then it happened again. I turned toward the door and he was there again. I hadn't noticed him enter for the second time. Cursing his silence and necessary short stature and feeling guilty at being so oblivious, I went over and answered another question for him. He was very cheerful the whole time and thanked me several times for taking time out to help him. Then he was gone for good.

It struck me that there are experiences related to being wheelchair-bound that I've never considered. We all know about the ramps and older buildings not being very wheelchair accessible. How many of us have thought about living life at waist-height to everyone else? To be overlooked in a crowd, to not be tall enough to be seen with peripheral vision? Sharp contrast between being invisible sometimes and having people stare the rest of the time?

Sometimes the teacher becomes the student in this life.