Friday, August 23, 2013

Oh, bother.

Every summer I get to the point where I am tired of being hot, tired of the lack of schedule, tired of myself.  In a word, as Owl would say, bored.  Which is odd, because there is still plenty to do, and my to-do list for this weekend is two pages, most of which are things that I was looking forward to a few days ago.  But at the moment, nothing sounds good, so here I am to inflict my grumpiness on my poor unsuspecting readers.  Well, maybe not so unsuspecting since I just warned you.

We had a summer like this about ten or twelve years ago, with a month's worth of days where the temps exceed 85.  That sounds pleasantly balmy to my Texas family, but believe me, when your house is un-air conditioned and many local restaurants and offices are similarly lacking, it is too hot.  We had just moved into our last house when the last one of these too-hot summers happened, and I whined and cajoled until Dean agreed to get air conditioning.  Then we didn't need it again for another three or four years.

So this time, I'm hanging tough.  We can wait at least another summer or two to see whether or not this is a permanent trend (thank you very much, global warming), or just another freakishly hot couple of months.  We have an abundance of fans collected over the years, and most years, they work just fine. Just this year, they haven't been quite enough.

Actually, in spite of the heat (which is mixed with smoke from wildfires today, making it extra-specially oppressive), I am cheering up.  I googled Pooh quotes to go with the Owl reference above, and have these gems to share:

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?”

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what's the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What's for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting to-day?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It's the same thing,” he said.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

And this, which is exactly my experience of keeping a blog:
“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

So there you go.  This was going to be something else when I sat down, but the wisdom of Pooh seems good enough for now.   Maybe I will re-read Milne this weekend.  Have a good one.

Friday, August 16, 2013

like seven inches from the midday sun

I got nothin.  It's too damn hot. We're off to meet up with Dean's family (or parts of it, anyway) this weekend and next week it's supposed to be a little cooler.  Maybe I will have something to say by then.  Right now I'm too grumpy.

In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures to prove I went to Mt. Brown Lookout.  I am still recovering.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Piqued by their teasing, she peeked up at the peak

I hesitate to post on the topic of frequently misused words, because lord knows I'm not perfect on this one. When I'm typing fast, I'm just as likely as the next person to type "their" when I mean "they're," or "lose" when I mean "loose."  I know the difference, I'm just typing fast and not really paying attention and things slip by me.

But I've read so many typos/errors/misused words recently that I'm practically in rant mode.  I read a book by a New York Times best-selling author from a major publishing house where twice in one book a character left a room in high dungeon.  The first time it made me laugh, because it's obviously a mistake and it's kind of cute (how can you leave a room in a dungeon?).  But the second time you have to at least consider the possibility that maybe they really didn't know that if you are bummed about something, you leave the room in high dudgeon.  *shakes head* *thinks gloomily about the future of western civilization*

And then there's peak, peek, and pique (spelled differently but all pronounced the same).  I've seen all three of them misused in the past couple of weeks, but at least it has mainly been in blog posts and self-pubs.  So just for the record:

peak is the apex, summit, or highest point of something.  You climb a mountain to its peak (and if you live in an outdoors area, you hear people say they are going to bag a peak). Or: Gas prices peaked at over $4 a gallon.  Or: Whitney Houston was at her peak in the 80s.

peek is to look at something briefly, or through a small opening.  You can peek in the oven to see if your muffins are done. Or a child can peek out from underneath the covers.  (which will inevitably lead to playing peek-a-boo).

pique is to enhance or stimulate--The lecture about spelunking piqued my interest in caves. Or: their constant chatter about the movie star piqued my curiosity about her movies. Or pique can be used to describe being irritated or angry.  She was piqued by the ceaseless rain.  After the insult, he stormed out in a fit of pique.

Then there's "feeling peaky" which means feeling slightly out of sorts, but not really sick.  And there's "feeling peckish," which is another thing entirely and means "hungry."

Are we clear?  Although I have to confess, I thought there were "peek-toe shoes" because your toes peek out, right?  But they're not peek-toe, they're peep-toe.  According to, "peep" can mean the same thing as "peek" sometimes (other times it means to utter a soft, high-pitched sound like a baby bird).

Oh, and PRIMROSE when used as a color is a shade of YELLOW.  Seriously, people.  It sounds like it should be pink because it has "rose" in it, but it's yellow.  Look it up if you don't believe me.  In Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus's treacherous friend Buck Mulligan is often associated with the color yellow, and he wears a primrose waistcoat.

This may turn into a series, but that's all for now.  What is the mis-used word that irritates you the most?  Ha--that piques you the most?

I sound disturbingly like an English teacher.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Good-bye, Grad School

I've been putting off writing this post for weeks now.  Okay, months.  The header to this blog still says it's a blog "about going back to school," which has been untrue for more than six months now since I finished my degree in January. Reminds me of that old Saturday Night Live skit about the Reagans not wanting to move out of the White House when his term was up.  Grad school has been my life for the past three years.  Now what?  At a minimum, I have to figure out what the hell else this blog going to be about.

(If you've been around awhile, the rest of this is old news, so you can skip down to the end now.) It's no secret to anyone that knows me that I've had a hard time finding something to do since we moved to Montana, twenty-one years ago now.  I worked as a database programmer/analyst before we moved, and at the time when we arrived, there just weren't any businesses here doing that kind of thing. I've held a variety of part-time jobs in the intervening years, and had a great time raising our kids here and exploring the area, but I've never really found something to do, and I've never been one to find fulfillment in homemaking (although I admire people who do).

Going back to school was really the result of a dare. It wasn't exactly worded that way, but Dean threw down the gauntlet one time (I'm not sure he really even meant to) when I was complaining about how much I missed having intellectual challenges and stimulation, so I took my courage in both hands and tottered off to the community college to see what I could find.  Since I already had a four-year degree and two years of grad school under my belt, you would think I would see junior college as a piece of cake, but I was terrified.  I'd been out of school so long, and I was so much older than everyone else.

That first semester I signed up for Chinese and Java programming.  Chinese, just because it was brand new at our school and it sounded fun and exotic, and programming because even though I'd done all sorts of different application-level programming, I'd never actually taken a class that was strictly about writing code.

Both of the classes were great, but it quickly became apparent that neither was going to yield a long-term path to a job.  The Chinese professor was just here visiting for one year, and the programming professor gently told me one day after class that even though I was making an A in the class, there was almost no chance I'd get hired for a programming job when there are plenty of 25-year-old unmarried childless computer whizzes in our area competing for the same jobs.  They're willing to stay up all night to meet a deadline, amped up on Red Bull and M&Ms, but I'm not.  I've always been grateful for his honesty, even though it was discouraging to hear.

So it occurred to me that I could finally finish the master's in English literature that I'd abandoned 20 years before.  I spent several weeks investigating the possibilities of working online with a professor from the school I originally attended, or doing it completely online at a different school, or commuting down to our state university.  I finally decided on commuting to UTown, even though it meant I would have to start over, because neither of the other two options provided one of the main things I needed--to get out of the house.

Then it took a semester of prep work to get through the prerequisites for even turning in an application, and a semester to wait and see if I got in, and then I finally started in the Fall of 2010.  There are plenty of posts about that, and you can click on the GradSchool label if you want to read them.  Two and a half years later, plus a few extra weeks of revising my thesis, and I was done.

It took about three months before I could even think straight, or as straight as I ever do.  My brain was so wiped out from attempting all that higher-level thought that I couldn't really manage regular life.  I'm just now starting to get back to a semblance of having a non-student life.  Part of it has just been rearranging my schedule.  My best higher-level thinking hours are from about 8 p.m. until 1 a.m., so I got in the habit of frittering the day away so I could save my mental energy for those night time study sessions.  Just in the last month or so I've finally started to figure out how to re-orient my day so I can get things done.  Not to mention having to move my mental energy back here, geographically speaking, instead of having it centered down there, in UTown.

So now what?  I'm teaching those non-credit classes I told you about (if enough people sign up for them-- minimum enrollment for the class to proceed is six).  I talked to a friend yesterday about how to start getting some editing jobs/experience.  I talked to another self-employed friend about helping out with some admin tasks.  Those are bits and pieces that will keep me going for awhile, but I'm not sure where it will end up.  I guess I don't have to know.

There will be another one of these, about things I learned in grad school that I'm still thinking about.  But this is just mainly to say that I'm having a harder time than I expected letting go of being a student.  Not even that I still want to be a student, but it gave me an identity, a place where I belonged--if only because I was paying tuition.  I miss that.  I guess I'll be floundering for awhile, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.