Sweating it out

Tomorrow I fly back to the West Coast after three weeks east. I can’t say it was a very productive time in terms of working uninterruptedly, but it was a very nice time seeing friends and baseball and eating good food. Tomorrow I fly back with chili powder, cumin seed, ground cloves, ground cardamom, and cinnamon sticks. Possibly I’ll fly back with a garlic bulb and maybe even an onion.

I saw my grandmother and hopefully have been subjected to the last of humiliations while spending time with her. We went to eat at Ruby Tuesday (gosh) because the little Italian place was booked (it isn’t even that good). She suggested I get a sangria because they’re good, though she did warn me it would be watered down. It was fine, but very watered down. It was basically juice, which is hilarious because the woman won’t pay to drink juice with her meal if we go out for breakfast.

Panic is starting to rise for the pending job cycle. I haven’t seen a lot for inorganic chemists, but I’ve done almost no work on developing another research plan and now is the time I have to work on that. I am looking forward to having more time this year for independent research and, yes, pleasure reading. I also hope to devote a little time to learning French, since I hope to be rewarding myself with a trip to Paris next summer.

Wasting time

I’ve spent most of the last two weeks putting off important, if perhaps difficult or tedious, things I need to accomplish.  Mostly, I just want to go home.  What I have gotten done has been worth the while, though.  I made a modified aloo gobi and gained some valuable insight in cooking with cauliflower and potatoes (together) in the process.  I read The Three Musketeers in the course of about a week.  And I am slowly working my way through teaching myself quantum chemistry.  Slowly is maybe not the best choice of words.  In the couple of weeks I have been working on it, I’ve made a lot of progress.  I find, though, that I can’t plan to do too much in a single day.  It takes a long time for the ideas to click, or for me to trace the origins of a certain equation.  I mean, I took calculus in 2005 and haven’t looked at it since.

The Three Musketeers was a highly engaging novel, and with loads of intrigue waiting for me, I basically cancelled the rest of my life (thank goodness I had already made the aloo gobi!) to read it.  In looking back (after a week), I’m starting to ask what the focus of the novel was, or whether it could be said to have two fairly well defined foci.  It’s hard to write an 800 page adventure novel with a single focus (though an 800 page tragedy seems considerably easier).  As an American reader of largely English work, I also found the ending of the book to be unsatisfying, in as much as d’Artagnan’s resolution of his first quarrel was “okay, friends now”, which seemed a little unbelievable to me.  I also felt that the relationship of d’Artagnan and the cardinal was left disconcertingly ambiguous, though this may have been intentional.  I was also a little annoyed that he didn’t cry more over his lost love, but that’s the American in me.  We love tidy endings with happily-ever-afters, which so much of good literature does not provide.

Reading The Three Musketeers rekindled two desires for me.  First, I really want to visit France, particularly Paris.  Second, I miss reading good novels.  I have compiled a small collection of nonfiction for bedtime reading, and in doing so I have cut myself off from what made reading fun and engaging in the first place.  Fortunately, I’ll be going to the library tomorrow to pick up some books for traveling.

The AL East standings almost match run differentials, for once

I assume I’m not the only one to notice that, so far, the Orioles pitching staff has allowed the fewest runs in the AL East, while the offense has also scored more runs than the least scoring team (the Red Sox, surprisingly).  Why is no one talking about this?  I guess if I had greater motivation, I’d try to dig through advanced stats to see whether anything clever can be said about this, but in reality, it’s probably just noise so I’m discouraged from expending the effort.

The Orioles, like all teams in the East not named the Blue Jays, are struggling right now.  Compared to the AL Central and West, it looks like they’re struggling to score runs.  These divisions have two teams on top with more than 200 runs scored, while only Toronto can claim that.  The top two teams (Tigers and A’s) have given up 165 and 147 runs, respectively.  The conclusion we can draw from this is that teams that score a lot of runs and don’t give up many runs win a lot of ballgames.  Darn it.

What a year for reflection

Hello, blog.  I didn’t forget about you.  And not only did I not forget about you, I’ve actually thought a lot about you recently.  I’m a little embarrassed over a month and a half has gone by since I last wrote, but oh well.  I’m not going to try hacking you to put a false time stamp on anything.  And anyway, no one besides me knows or cares.

Graduation took place yesterday in a torrential downpour.  I dashed after we were told to leave the field.  My shoes are still wet from yesterday, but I think my hood is almost dry.  It doesn’t look too bad.

It’s amazing to think on all I’ve learned and all the people I’ve met.  It’s a helpful reminder not to judge people too quickly or forget that I know (and should know) very little but what they share.  I’m proud that I’m in such an inclusive school and department.  I ended up driving some students to the department picnic a couple weeks ago, and one thing they said was that for previous social events, students were told to show up at a designated spot where a line of cars would be waiting to offer rides.  That’s great.  At that same picnic the senior students gave gifts to faculty.  They gave me chamomile-lavender tea and a baseball my inorganic students had signed.  What a great and thoughtful gift!

Speaking of baseball, I am somewhat amused to see that the AL East has negative run differentials (excepting Toronto), but that the Orioles held the top spot for a little before splitting the series with the Royals.  I also learned in an article about Chris Getz’s retirement that Brett Lawrie is playing some 2B for the Blue Jays.  I remember reading that he was annoyed about being asked to do that, so I assumed that he wasn’t actually (or no more than a few games).  I would have thought Brett Lawrie would approach it from the whatever-it-takes standpoint, but he has been expressing anxiety over the unfamiliar position than actual distaste.  I dunno.  I’m not a Blue Jays fan.

Opening Day is here!

I’ve never done predictions or stuff in the past, but as I have a blog now I suppose it’s required of me.  Let’s try this!

AL East

  • Rays
  • Red Sox
  • Orioles (84-87 wins)
  • Yankees
  • Blue Jays

AL Central

  • Tigers
  • Indians
  • Royals
  • Twins
  • White Sox

AL West

  • A’s
  • Rangers
  • Angels
  • Mariners
  • Astros

NL East

  • Nationals
  • Braves
  • Mets
  • Phillies
  • Marlins

NL Central

  • Cardinals
  • Pirates
  • Reds
  • Brewers
  • Cubs

NL West

  • Dodgers
  • Giants
  • Diamondbacks
  • Rockies
  • Padres

Wild Cards

  • Red Sox over Rangers
  • Giants over Braves

ALDS

  • Tigers over Rays
  • Red Sox over A’s

NLDS

  • Dodgers over Nationals
  • Cardinals over Giants

ALCS

  • Tigers over Red Sox

NLCS

  • Dodgers over Cardinals

World Series

  • Dodgers over Tigers

In conclusion, expect the goddamn Mariners to win the World Series.

Whatever it is you’re looking for…

I remember seeing the strangest, most exotic thing in black ink line drawings on posters in Vienna, in 2006.  It was a left-handed pitcher.  Whatever it is you’re looking for, you won’t find it here, indeed.  I don’t know why I thought about that just now, but I’ve since learned that the posters were for a retrospective of work of a single American artist, Raymond Pettibon.  With this context in mind, I suppose the lefty isn’t so unusual as welcome.  To me at least.  It must have been unusual to the Viennese.  Hopefully they were cultured enough to be interested in the oeuvre of the artist, despite the unfamiliar (and possibly not too interesting) glance on the posters.  Now I’m contemplating buying the book for $99 when I should have just gone to the show in 2006, even if for an hour.  Stupid me chasing old things.

Baseball is about to begin in Sydney, Australia.  I’m actually really excited for it.  I’m debating trying to watch the 1 AM game on Saturday.  I mean, it’s not like I’ll have better things to do.  It’ll beat going to Bellevue and spending more money on anti-aging potions or shoes.

Chemistry fun-fact: it’s totally not obvious that all of the electrons assigned to a metal in a complex are taken to be d electrons.  I can’t remember when/how I learned that, but I did my students a disservice by not devoting an appropriate amount of time to that idea.  We’ll try again on Monday.  Another thing we’ll try on Monday is making chromium(II) acetate, complete with quadruple bond!  I’m really excited for this lab.  We’re going to spend more time getting cozy with electrons and getting all in their business.

Spring Break is almost here. Thank goodness.

I had intended to keep this somewhat better updated, and as it stands, it will be better updated soon because I have gained a lot of insight these last two months and wish only to record a little piece of it right now.

One difficulty I ran into last semester and see I am running into this semester is that the homework problems I select are not always well-aligned to what and how I teach lecture material.  And this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, really, since one of the goals of college is to learn to put things and create knowledge for yourself.  So having homework problems that can’t be answered just by looking through notes is actually appropriate.

I’m surprised to continue to have that problem now, but an email I received makes me feel less like it’s my fault for having expectations.  The email was from a gen chem student in my lab section, asking a question about concepts I know they’ve done in lecture.  And it made me realize that some things don’t change and it’s not on me.  I just have to do the best I can to make the lecture material clear.