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Feb. 20th, 2013

I gave a research talk yesterday and had my first dissertation committee meeting this morning. They both went super-well. Everyone is excited about what I am doing and it's significance. Two of my committee members are saying "grant proposal ready" (the highest form of go-for-it that academia has).

State of the me

It seems like the time for updates!

Things have been progressing well in the health front. I am lifting heavier, running faster, and doing more stuff than ever before. Rows @ 45 lb, chest/shoulder presses @ 32.5 lb, bicep curls @ 35 lb etc. I am still playing soccer when my schedule allows it and my endurance is up. I haven't had a cigarette in almost 7 months and my eating habits are pretty good (major weakness=Culver's custard).

School is eating me alive. Some weeks are 8-12 hour days 6 days a week. Some weeks are a little more tame, but nonetheless exhausting. If I am not working on schoolwork, I am usually too drained to do anything more ambitious than make dinner and watch a movie with Faydra. I went to the SfN conference and was so jazzed while I was there, yet I have felt seriously unmotivated and drained upon my return. I think I may have a low-grade bug or something.

I have sewn something for the first time since July (when I made a shirt for Bill but never finished the last hem.) Faydra will be an ant for Halloween and while I probably could have put more into it (like a collapsing bustle to support the abdomen section), it will work for a one-time costume. I didn't particularly enjoy it. I've missed painting, but without knowing where the *beep* my kit is, there isn't much to be done about it.

I am teaching again this semester. It is starting to feel like a calling. It is very time-consuming and emotionally taxing, but I find myself saying "next time I will....".

Big day!

Today I had the first meeting of my comprehensive exam committee. In 40 minutes, we had decided I was ready, approved my proposed topic, and set a due date of August 3.

Two hours later, I sent off the first draft of my job description for a fellowship I am developing.
Comment and I'll give you a color that I think represents you, and then you list ten things you like in that color!
Ari chose tabby, which is a bit of a chalenge. Here, I am thinking about things with depth of color and pattern. Apparently it is another word for a type of cement too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabby_(cement)

1. The boys, Maahes and Ra. They are a pair of orange tabbies that Ari saved and we adopted some years ago.
2. Polished white marble with veins of yellow and pink when it catches the sunlight.
3. Strawberries and fresh whipped cream layered with yellow cake.
4. A desert sunset with sparse clouds streaked across the western sky causing swirls of pink and orange to play across the darkening sky.
5. A school of small fish in an algae-infested pond. Suddenly, the mood will seize them and the will startle and swirl, flashing silver against muddy water and swaying algae fronds.
6. An extreme-close up look at well-shaded clothing in medieval illumination.
7. Cheesecake after an excellent meal that has been given a quick squiggle of berry demiglaze.
8. Faydra's first fingerpainting that still sits by the windowsill in the kitchen.
9. Rupert's rock wall. I don't know how long it took him, but he hand-laid every rock to fit perfectly with those around it. When you relax your eyes and take the whole thing in, it is a beautiful dance of line and texture. My father built a similar wall when I was a child, and I never forgot the proud look when he stood back and took in the finished product.
10. A skilled bellydancer having the time of her life, flashes of light from the fire catching a smile, a flurry of silk, and hands framing the telling of her story--motion and joy woven together with the rising smoke and beating drums.

Faydra's Mexican fudge

Faydra made fudge this weekend. I'm posting the recipe for the curious and so I don't forget it.

14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 pound 60% cacao chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is the best)
3 TB unsalted butter
small splash of coffee (caused it to not set properly and didn't add much to flavor. I would omit in the future)

Butter 2 loaf pans or a 8x8 square. Add all ingredients to a pan and stir over medium low heat until smooth. Pour into pans and cool for 2 hours.


The turning point

Today I did my first pull up. Next up is squatting my body weight (currently 145/155) and running a 1/2 mile without dying (don't ask... I'm still figuring out breathing).

Phase 1: get strong enough to do stuff (Progressing!)
Phase 2: do stuff
Phase 3: have fun doing stuff


Writing exercise

As part of the Writing Institute, we do writing exercises. This one was focused on making the longest sentence possible in 20 minutes. We then learned about proper sentence breaks, building sentences of variable length and structure, and properly building sentences as they were written in the 16th century. Scribe brain has ideas. My sentence:

The bag was weighty with authority, the sound of pastries--perhaps chocolate croissants or empanadas--reverberated through the room, echoing hunger pains and throbbing minds, sputtering like volkswagon bugs on cold mornings, cuasing studetns (or at this moment, donkeys lurching for carrots placed on the end of stick) to pour desperate words into their writing, dreaming of coffee and watching the World Cup, most likely in a cafe (somewhere European, preferably), yearning for weekends and wrist braces, footie and sun, referees of sound mind (or, failing that, Columbian 'justice' or super-villian shark traps--in short, not-so-sound bodies) to dream lazy dreams and contemplate the buttery folds and greasy magic the bag may contain, to savor not only victory, but also the delicious knowledge of the mysterious contents, locked inside a brown paper prison for a tortuous 20 minutes of writing exercise, no doubt with the purpose of expanding consciousness, confidence and skill; ultimately, time would tell, unless there was an unfortunate pastry (or World Cup referee) incident--but chances of that arepretty slim, unless of course you find yourself in Columbia (or a shar tank) and confess to supporting the USA (I have hedged my be by supporting England--no one fucks with those guys), or time stopped altogether, like some Einsteinian thought exercise that involved getting shot of a cannon out of the front of a spaceship traveling at the speed of light, or like it is want to do in that odd hour between 9 and 10 am on Friday morning, where 20 minutes continues in a mobious loop, consuming those nebulous minutes you are supposed to be putting on the end of your life with correct diet and exercise (only the right exercises--available for easy payments off of the television, late at night), or never having any fun, ever, or quitting that pastry habit/obsession, recently formed when a bag, now 3, slammed on the table with authority.
Happy Birthday Bill.
I love you.