Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Plans coming together

I'm thinking of a new course --- on the great and lesser problems of mathematics: and after lots of discussions, it looks like the course will happen: I've settled of seven or eight books for the students to read, I'm thinking of potential topics for them to write about, and am looking forward to running it.

Yours, contemplating grading essays for a change,

Monday, August 30, 2010


It's not looking good for Bella -- her back is looking worse, and the sores are spreading over her body.  She still doesn't appear to be in pain, but it is very sad to see.

Yours, in that permanent anticipation which hurts so much,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cooking again, or is it still?

We're helping our vet friends, E&S celebrate S's (Friday) birthday this afternoon.  So we're making a few things to take over --- LOML made my coleslaw recipe yesterday, and I'm braising ribs again, and making The Vegetarian Epicure's mac and cheese.  And LOML's made chocolate cake.

Yours, wondering whether this counts as "still cooking" or "cooking again",

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bad news about Bella

We learned this morning some sad news: our golden retriever, who we adopted as a stray in January, has malignant lymphoma.  We're not sure what the prognosis is other than bad.  It could take weeks, or months, or years.  At the moment, she's not in any pain as far as we can tell: and while we can easily keep her comfortable and happy, we will do so.  But it's not the sort of thing where we can really do very much more than that, which means we will have a few difficult times in the foreseeable future. 
At the moment, she still seems playful and energetic, running for balls, and jumping on the counter to try to grab food (I wish she'd stop that part!) and we're hoping this will continue as long as possible.

Yours, saddened,

Friday, August 27, 2010

August Birthdays

There really are a huge number of people in our circle who have August birthdays: in addition to LOML, my mum and dad, Skibo, of course: at the party tonight we sang a joint happy birthday to five people present, and half an hour later another arrived.  Then on Sunday we are visiting our friends S&E, the vets, to help celebrate S's birthday today.

Yours, helping make every birthday count, I hope,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Preparing for a party

Since Skibo didn't have a real birthday party a couple of weeks ago, when we were at the beach, we're throwing him a party tomorrow.  We're combining it with celebrations of two friends, K & B, who apparently were born a day apart -- not just in dates in the year, but in the same year as well.

Since it is a week day, and a teaching day, I've tried to get some things prepared in advance: pizza dough, ribs and wings marinating, for example.
I'll still have to fly around the kitchen in the afternoon, but it will be possible, instead of crazy.

Yours, always choosing possible over crazy, except when not,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hump day

Sometimes Wednesdays are called "hump day".  The day at the middle of the week, after which it is all downhill.  And that is how today felt.  One week into classes, and I'm already asking how many weeks it is until the end of the semester. 
I am, at least, enjoying the students in my classes -- they seem engaged and bright, and interested. But still, I'm exhausted. 
Yours, figuring it's probably early-onset old-age syndrome...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Can we ridicule the country we choose to live in?
If it is the US, then the answer, unfortunately, is "yes, all to easily".
Assuming that this report at Salon is correct, there is a school district that is now requiring its students to bring supplies to school.  And when I say supplies, I don't mean number 2 pencils.  No, I mean supplies to deal with a different sort of number two: I mean toilet paper.
We've brought fifty pounds per child of supplies to school here further east --- dry erase markers, reams and reams of paper, folders, scissors, glue, etc.  But we've never been asked to supply such essential items before.
I could have understood if this was Texas, perhaps.  Alabama, well maybe.  But....

Yours, hoping this is a hoax, but fearing that it is actually Hawaii, of all places,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Contemplating a course

I'm contemplating putting together a new course here, a course for the brightest, most engaged students on campus: it will focus on the great problems of mathematics, but those which have been solved, and those which remain open.

In addition to the great problems, I will probably include about half as much material again on those problems less great, but which the students can really fully comprehend, get their teeth stuck into, and while not solving, at least develop a more visceral understanding.

That's the upside.  The downside, of course, is the extra work it will entail.

Yours, likely to decide to do the course anyway,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back in the swing

Weekends become precious once again, as the semester is back in full swing.
Today, LOML and the kids are off to continue their movie-going summer: the sequel to Nanny McPhee --- hopefully, they will enjoy it.
Me, I plan a gentle, relaxing afternoon in the kitchen: making two batches of bread, one in the mixer, one by hand, in parallel, to compare the differences in flavour and texture.  Science, and food, in one fell swoop. 

Yours, wondering what could be better,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Everything went swimmingly

The waves this year, at this beach, were stronger than previous years, previous beaches.  And the children, while swimming better than ever before, were also less afraid, less cautious.... this of course made LOML and me more nervous than ever.
But we dealt with our nerves, calmed our fears, and made sure not to show them to the children.  And their joy shone through it all!

Yours, pleased with how they love the water,

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another sunset picture

Yours, letting you know that this image makes me happy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A sunset from last week

We saw some lovely sunsets last week.   LOML and I caught a few moments of a few of them.  Here's one.....

Yours, wondering if you remembered how much I like sunsets....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A new academic year begins

So I wish to pass on lots of luck to all students beginning today.  May my explanations be crystal clear, yet memorable, my assignments on the light side of odious, yet pedagogical enough that you learn from them, and my examinations fair, yet do-able!

Yours, hoping the students help out with their end of the bargain,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Last day of temporary sanity

Tomorrow we start the new semester.  Today is my last quiet day of sanity.
Or in reality, battling the new version of blackboard, trying to get my computer set up the way I want it (despite the fact that in a couple of weeks I should have my hands on the new laptop which has only been in the department since June).
But still, compared with tomorrow, I can sign off as
Yours, temporarily sane,

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's come down to this

In the interests of parental sanity, and with new semesters of learning looming up in front of us, we're letting Boo read Skibo to sleep.  And then she gets permission, after reading to him, to read another chapter to herself before her light goes off.

It's one way to get her to do her reading homework,  I guess, although Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is probably a couple of years ahead of her current reading homework level --- not that anyone will object, I am sure!

Yours, proud of my children,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Spanish tonight

Back home, cookbooks and pots and pans, oven and ingredients, inspiration and friends.  We're having our friends K & K over this evening, and we're trying more recipes from The New Spanish Table: pork shoulder braised in wine and dried fruit, rustic smoky mashed potatoes, and spinach with raisins and pine nuts.  We're trying to be creative in this fashion at least once a week: and fortunately our friends seem to be more than willing to act as guinea pigs:-)

Yours, inspired,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Driven with success

We drove home successfully, and are now back at the house.  The children are (I hope) asleep, and I am heading in that direction myself shortly. 
With stops it took close to eight hours to get back (we were slowed rather substantially as well by the traffic much of the way): this included looking for a particular fast food joint in an area where there were 11 highway exits without that particular chain.  We finally realised that we could look for the closest such restaurant with the GPS and took a ten minute detour to get there.

The highlight of the day, though, was walking out along the pier at the beach before leaving: well worth the dollar each it cost us for the privilege.  We got to see some fishermen handling live shrimp: I had no idea what they looked like live: not curled up at all, and incredibly agile, jumping five to ten inches in the air.

Yours, naming one of the shrimp "Jehosophat",

Friday, August 13, 2010

The final full day

Today we had our final full day at the beach: as always this signalled the time to start packing up, cleaning up and clearing out.  We went out to dinner at a diner a few miles from the beach: the number of cars outside augured well, but the food was somewhat ordinary.  And we waited twenty minutes to get seated and another fifteen before the food arrived.  Rather disappointing (especially, I suspect, to LOML, who ended up being sick rather later, which we suspect may have been the result of the shrimp at dinner).

Yours, packing it in,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Connection issues

Connections have been poor at the beach (but better than nothing, which is what I expected.
Today we continued celebrating Skibo's birthday, this time with a trip to the local planetarium.  Poor interpretation, but great exhibits, and even more surprising, free.  Of course, we spent a fair few dollars in the gift shop, and also donated a lot of change (they had a wonderful "investigate the gravity well as your coin circles the hole" display which happily swallowed all denominations of coins!) so we hope that we treated them fairly. 
Later LOML and I had a lovely time as J watched the children and we went out for a nice romantic dinner together: overlooking a creek, we ate an appetizer of tuna tartar drizzled with a sriracha mayonnaise dressing (delicious!) followed by plates of (rather more ordinary) fried shrimp, scallops, catfish and stuffed crab.

Yours, enjoying the final few days,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A lovely day

We celebrated Skibo's birthday today, and had a lovely time: we opened presents, swam, played mini-golf, went for ice cream, pizza, and cake, and swam again.  Just a lovely day, and so nice to be able to help him be six years old!

Yours, making memories,

Happy Birthday, Skibo!

Skibo turns a year older today.  Let's hope that over the coming year he becomes even smarter, even more handsome, and a little better behaved.  Not necessarily in that order!

Yours, celebrating wildness, wishing it would tame,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New moon

I always hope that it's going to be a full moon while we are at the beach, and, of course, this changes from year to year: we're always there for essentially the same dates, so it is quite predictable: and this year, I knew well in advance that it would be two weeks out of sync.  Yesterday was the new moon, so perhaps this evening, if I am lucky, I can try to catch a sliver of crescent.   Perhaps I'll set the tripod up on the deck and try to take a slow shot of the sky, weather permitting.

Yours, a couple of days shy of waxing lyrical,

Hotter than before

We took a walk this afternoon, down to the end of the street (perhaps a couple of hundred yards at most) and then 12 shortish blocks along the main road, to the little stores on the island.  What a mistake!  It was hot enough that as soon as we got there, I turned right around and walked back to get the car so that the children wouldn't have to walk back.  It wasn't a long walk --- under fifteen minutes at an adult pace, twenty with children dragging, but in full sun, and high humidity, in retrospect it was not the thing to do.

Yours, driven with a purpose, in this instance!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Mum!

Many happy returns, Grandma!  (Mum to me!)

Yours, with love,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What a lovely place!

We're at the beach, and the house is beautiful!  What a lovely place!
And the beach is wonderful too....   Looking forward to the week,

Yours, waving,

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Off to the beach in the morning

And so to bed, to get a good night's sleep first....

Yours, zzzzz,

Friday, August 6, 2010

At last, I'm done!

And now that I am home, I'm done for the next week!  We're off to the beach, going to enjoy finding out about a new beach town, exploring all that there is to do there, swimming, a planetarium, cooking, and, of course, celebrating Skibo's birthday!

Yours, counting down,

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!  (Dad to me).

Yours, with love,

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Driving Rain

Or rather, driving in the rain.  For hours, through torrential downpour.
It added a good couple of hours to the trip.  But I made it home, safe and sound, thank goodness!

Yours, dripping,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Talks done, panel done, time to enjoy myself

No, wait, I have to drive home tomorrow, almost nine hours.
Time to get some sleep!

Yours, on a driven schedule,

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's terrible of me

I am away on LOML's birthday.  And so, I have to say at a distance, Happy Birthday to you, my Love!

Yours, with love,

Monday, August 2, 2010

A long drive later

I arrived last night, spent a lovely evening (until well into the early hours of the morning) with friends I've not seen in ten years, including having the police come by and explain that the music was way too loud!) Today I wandered, got checked in, and had dinner with friends I've not seen in five years --- and then walked home, a good brisk walk for 60 minutes.  I've definitely got some exercise in today:-)

Yours, enjoying my old neighbourhoods immensely,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

And I'm off

In about half an hour or so, I will be on the road.  Heading north for a few days, to proselytize about mathematics and computers.

Yours, on the road,