Monday, January 25, 2010

First day of school

Today the new semester starts for me.  This semester will be much busier than last semester since I have 4 classes (last semester I only had two).  They are also all new classes, so in some of them I will only be a week or two ahead of the students.  It should be an interesting semester :) 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away!

January is the rainy season here in California, and it certainly has been living up to that description lately.  All last week it rained pretty steadily, with a brief break for Saturday and most of today.  Tonight the next set of storms are supposed to roll in.  For the next few weeks it looks like we'll have a repeating cycle of three or four days of rain, followed by a few days off.  It isn't too bad for me because I've been spending most of my time at work.  I haven't been able to run, but since my run-in with the coyotes, I haven't been too keen to hit the trails :)  It is probably a little rougher on Jeremy who is stuck in the house with the cats all day.

One side-effect of all of the rain, is that the ants have decided they'd rather hang out in the nice dry house than outside.  We've been fighting an on-going battle with a bunch of tiny ants for the last few days.  Our first idea was to try to contain the ants without resorting to chemical warfare.  We looked up "natural" ant control on the Internet and found a couple of things to try. 

The first suggestion was to dump black pepper on the ants to scatter them and then to follow them to their home and block them back in.  Let me just say that the only thing worse than having a bunch of tiny black ants running around your floor is having a bunch of tiny black ants AND a bunch of black pepper all over your floor.  After the pepper, the ants just kind of ran around in circles, so we couldn't follow them to the place they came in.  Either they are really smart ants, or the pepper solution doesn't work. 

The next suggestion we tried was vinegar.  Supposedly vinegar contains some chemical that messes with the trails that ant leave and if you keep cleaning an area with vinegar, eventually the ants will leave.  That may be true, but you clearly need to clean the area with vinegar for longer than 48 hours in order for this method to be effective.  We've been mopping with vinegar four or five times a day for two days now, and I think we're about done playing nice. 

Jeremy has been muttering about "stupid hippy vingegar crap" and our house is starting to smell pretty funky, so I think we're going to resort to Raid.  At least we tried.

We're looking forward to getting rid of both the ants AND the rain.  Of course, we keep reminding ourselves that it could be worse ... it could be snow!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Memorium, Scott Swanson (1973-2010)

Swanson & I at a wedding, many moons ago.
Man, we looked young. And I still have that tie.

An old friend of mine, Scott Swanson, died this past Monday. He was born sick, and had kind of a wry sense of humor about that fact that his doctors routinely predicted he would be lucky to make it to 20. He lived to be 36. Still, his passing was still somewhat surprising as I guess I'd started to take it for granted that he generally seemed to be okay.

We were definitely kindred spirits in that we were both grumpy old men long before our time. Scott was probably more entitled to his grumpiness, but I also think he was much less sincere about it. Grumpy people don't touch people the way Scott did. Grumpy people don't spend so much time helping others, even while they themselves suffer.

I've been trying to find a way to express this loss. I can remember a tour of Sherman's during a particularly low point in graduate school. During an even lower point in my life later, I can remember Swanson demanding that I come out with him in the city instead of wallowing at home. I remember standing with him and Peil on Gail's balcony the following New Year's, when life was back on track. I remember him acting like a proud papa I remember many a late-night IM chat.

Scott and I were never best friends, and I imagine that that's mostly my fault. We would go long stretches where we would just lose touch. But he was the epitome of what any friend ought to be. No matter how long it had been, he always managed to be there right when I needed a friend the most. I will forever regret that we lost touch over the last couple years - a function of the fact that when my life gets full I find it too easy to discard people. I will always have to live with the fact that I never got around to calling him while he was lucid these last couple of months. I always convinced myself I'd be able to call him later. Hopefully I will learn to not take anyone for granted, and to remember that the person I brush off today might not be here next week.

I think that the best any of us can hope for is that, when our time comes, someone will miss us, will care when we're gone. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have found and married Kate. I never realized until this week how comforting, how affirming, it is to have someone beside you that you know with absolute certainty will care when you're gone. We should all be so lucky as to be missed by one tenth of the people that will miss Scott.

Rest well, brother. Lord knows you deserve it. I'll see you in the next life.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm a little torn ....

... I really want Jeremy to get into the school that he wants so that he can follow his dreams and all that good stuff. On the other hand, I will really miss house husband. Tonight I came home to find this:

Mushroom and pepper tarts with chive-herb crust, served with homemade challah! At least there are a couple more months before school starts :)

Happy New Year!

Happy 2010 everyone! We hope that everybody had a great holiday season and that 2010 is starting out well. We'll post all about our holiday travels soon. We're also planning on finishing our holiday newsletter this weekend (we are calling it our President's Day newsletter this year).