Monday, December 06, 2004

How do you blog when you have nothing to say? doesn't stop most people.

No one reads this, and I suspect that very few people will ever lay eyes on this page. So why do I bother? Well, to be honest, I don't. I write something once every few month, using the theory that I don't write until I have something to say.

By that standard I should not be writing. It makes me wonder what the threshold should be for me to write, and if I were to write what it would be that I would write about.

And there you have it. A post about nothing. Trivial and inconsequential - just like what all the other bloggers write.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Remembrance Day - Veterans' Day - Armistace Day

Just remembering the service of my relatives who, as it so happened, were on the other side of WWI & II. Couple these with my mother's stories of being bombed and living through WWII in Germany - and you can see, I think, how I end up profoundly anti-war.

Maternal grandfather - served in WWI, Civil defense WWII; refused to serve without a uniform when handed an armband and a rifle at the end of WWII.

Maternal Uncle - Trained paratrooper, last NCO in a unit of 40-year-olds on the Russian front - led his unit to surrender to the Americans (desertion, but kept his men out of Soviet prison camps) .

Maternal great-uncle - WWII officer, drowned when the Wilhelm Gustloff (with thousands of refugees) was torpedoed by the Russians.

Maternal great-uncle - WWII soldier, spend many years in Soviet POW camp .

Maternal grandmother's cousins - two sons died in WWI; third son (with heart condition) was pronounced fit in 1945, sent to front, promptly died on heart attack; daughter's husband, WWI pilot with Red Baron, commanded airfield in WWII - when the Americans released him from POW camp the Russians promptly arrested him, sent him to Siberia.

Another set of my grandmother's cousins - one of them had his face blown off by a mine in WWI, was one of the early successes in reconstructive surgery.

Great-grandfather - soldier in WWI; after he was conscripted, his family lost not only his income, but also company housing (he was a mining engineer).

Great-great grandfather was a musician (looks like a bugle in the one picture of him I have) in the Prussian (?) army. Don't know any stories of his service ~1860s - ?

I'm sure some of my maternal grandfather's 6 brothers were soldiers in one of the wars, but I don't know - never thought about it. Must find that out...

Monday, October 04, 2004

Just finished reading Johann Hari's interview with the former left-winger turned neocon supporter Christopher Hitchens. And some of the responses. It really got me thinking about the left, the right, and just about anyone else's moral clarity and logical consistency. After all, we all do it - we excuse/overlook the misdeeds of those we support while taking our opponents to task for their past actions. Yet while no one is 100% good, we are willing to overlook one side and not the other.

So do we strive for consistency - and end up with ideological purity, or do we try to be reasonable and end up with moral relativity?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Being apart from the one you love for long periods of time really sucks. How long has it been? Well...what's the date? Twenty-seven days. I can't believe it. I'm really looking forward to seeing her next weekend, but I don't know how I will handle the fact that she'll have to leave again. I thought I was doing fine until I looked at these 'I miss you' cards in the store and I got really choked up. I really didn't realise how much I missed her until that moment. It's not the same as loneliness. I am lonely because I am alone and don't have any friends in a new town. I don't have a peer group - I'm not a grad student any more, but not quite a prof. I've been in this town three weeks now and had three days in three weeks in which I spent a significant amount of time with people. Sure, I'm around people, but I am rarely interacting with people over long periods of time. A few words on the corridors, a few words with students after class - that kind of thing. Sure I talk to Linz often enough, but that is different. She's far away, it's all on the phone. It's good to talk but it's not 'shared experience' the way simply hanging out with someone is. And I need shared experience. We are going to be apart for most of the next two years. I can't imagine such a thing. Hopefully I'll be able to see her on weekends soon enough. I hope that will make things better. Of course it will insulate me even more from the community, but it will be worth it if I can just spend time with my love.

She started talking about a Ph.D. today - or was it last night? Sounds great, and yet sounds awful. If I can't get a job in KC, where would that leave us? Granted you can do a Ph.D. largely non-resident, but I know that's not what she wants to do. I want her to aim high, I woul love for her to do a Ph.D. It's a strange pathology, wanting others to do this awful thing you did, knowing that no one should ever wish the life of a doctoral student on someone else. But it would be cool. The problem is, what happens if I cannot get a job near KC? How do we work out that problem?

Anyway, I have already said more than I want to say online. Hopefully no one ever reads what I post. I should put a counter on my page to see if anyone ever drops by.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Teaching fills my life, but for once it does not consume my life. Maybe because I'm here in this town alone while my wife is a few hundred miles away I just don't have enough of a life to consume. Maybe I'm just enjoying the freedom of being done with my PhD. Actually seeing ths final bound version was a wonderful experience - to be done after so long. Sure I have papers to write and a new research to design and carry out...but for the moment I can't help but enjoy the freedom of not having that great weight hanging over my head.

Anyway, I've been at work for almost fourteen hours now, so it's about time I headed home.

Friday, August 06, 2004

A new job, a new town, new surroundings. A chance, perhaps, to re-invent myself. Old habits die hard, nonetheless - I have not yet made the changes I need, but I don't think I have yet dug a deep enough hole that I will be unable to extricate myself from it.

So what now? There's a world of possibilities out there. I just need to figure out what want and go for it...

Tuesday, May 18, 2004 much for consistency. I suppose I ended up too busy, and then couldn't remember the address of this place. Well, I found my way back somehow. Not like anyone would miss me - not like anyone knows I'm here. Not that it matters all that much.

Almost out of a job. Less than two weeks on employment left, and then the great unknown - Kansas maybe - without a job, without a visa (as yet), without any clear sense of prupose. But there are some good things to look toward. I finished my Ph.D. Even of the decade, it would appear. Second biggest event of my adult life. And yet it seems so empty in the eyes of everyone else. Few people had much to say. No one made a big deal of it. First one in my father's father's family to get a Ph.D., first in my mother's family too - it's a really big deal to me, and yet no one seems to see it as that big a deal. It's really deflating. It's a big deal to me, it's a really, really big deal. But no one seems to notice. Well, that's not fair - my wife, my major professor, one of my friends...but not one person I knew before I started this journey has said anything. It sucks.

Still, I shouldn't focus on the bad. It's still a great feeling to be done, even though it is a little drowned oiut by all the other stuff. It was a good day, it was great to know. Anyway...have lots of work to get back to. As if I had any readers... :)

Monday, February 16, 2004

Off to a good start, I would say. Haven't touched this since I set it up, though slow and unreliable internet connections are a little to blame. Anyway, I suppose once you get desperate enough again, once you fall far enough behind where you are supposed to be with work, there will always be time to blog. To whom, I can't say, but anyway...

Contrary to what the titile says, I really haven't had any new ideas in a while. Teaching is starting to be a drag - always rushing to get lectures done, and then wondering if you are boring the students. Oh well. It should get better soon for me, if not for them - I am finished with the 'Tropical Forest Ecology' - so I should now go on to the 'Tropical Forest Management' half, which I really don't know enough about to diverge too far from Mike's outline.

One of those things - the more you know, the harder it is to teach. If only I were a school teacher working from a beginning syllabus I knew nothing about. That would be easy - teach what's in the book...who cares if there is any real depth to your knowledge. On the other hand university students are probably more likely to be forgiving of gaps in your knowledge than younger children. You aren't out to earn the respect of undergrads in the same way - they accept that you must know something well, and once you have that to stand on you are ok. A school teacher hasn't staked out a field in the same way, and so you assume that if they don't know what they are teaching that maybe they don't really possess any real knowledge.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Twice on the first day, you ask? Actually no one will ask because no one is reading this. I need to write to keep awake though - something to get my brain back to functionality. There is a good reason why I get nothing done on an afternoon - it's because I am too sleepy from working all night getting the next day's lecture done. Actually it's also true that I am barely functional in the afternoon - whether I have a substantial lunch or not. I would do well in a country that had a siesta. But instead I am sitting here in an airconditioned office, biding my time and waiting to go home so that I can get to work. That's really pathetic, but it's the simple truth. Procrastination and sleepiness - what else can I blame my inactivity on?

Oh, by the way - for the legion of readers that I don't have, my time is timestamp + 4 hours.
Six years after I first blogged, I'm going to give it another try. Back then no one read what I had to write, or had any way to find it. Here at least people will probably be able to find my posts, but I still have major doubts as to whether anyone will actually read it.

So what does one write about in one's first post? How about writing about how busy I am, which results, of course, in my doing something that takes up time but has nothing to do with all the work that needs doing. I suppose there is a universality to procrastination - when you have an exam the next day you feel an overwhelming need to clean the house. Today it's more than just procrastination though. I need a break, I need to focus my mind on something other than the work I need to do. This becomes my option for relaxation, my chance to unwind a little. Will I keep with this, for once, or will it fall by the wayside like most things I try my hand at? We shall see, I suppose. Now back to work - have to come up with a lab/field trip exercise for a class of 120 students for tomorrow. How will it go? We shall see, I suppose.