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Oh, Jones Dear!

For my dear friend jonesiexxx:


My Civic Duty, Day 1

In November I received a jury summons. I took my one free postponement and said that I'd be available the week of Feb. 28 (my quarter break) and they did indeed send another summons. Off I went to the Hall of Justice in downtown Rochester, in the dawn drizzle.

I went through security, found the jury room which was not yet open (I had given myself plenty of time to find parking), so I hung out watching people in the lobby. Lobby? Very large room with rows of relatively comfortable chairs. There was a bank of elevators in the center, and door to courtrooms ringed the periphery. There were all kinds of people sitting quietly; white, black, Latino, Asian, some with little kids. Here and there along the edge sat a young person talking to an older one who was writing in a notebook and asking the occasion question. Family court? I'll never know.

We were finally let into the jury room where we were shown a DVD about jury duty, efficiently sorted into groups assigned to various judges and then led off to our courtrooms. Voir dire started almost immediately. The judge went on at some length about our system of jurisprudence, the prosecutor talked to all of us about what her job was and what it wasn't, the defense attorney got up and told us what the prosecutor's job was and wasn't, and also told us that if we thought that cops walked on water, never ever lied or abused their positions, we had a duty to withdraw from this particular jury. Fourteen people were called to the jury box and questioned, three of them were either excused by the judge or disqualified themselves, three more people were called to fill those seats. I was one of those. The judge questioned all of us about our jobs, our experiences with the justice system and our families and hobbies, and then the prosecutor and the defense attorney asked some questions. The attorneys huddled with the judge who predicted with a smile that we were all going to be dismissed and another group of 14 would be questioned, but ha. Eight of us were found to be suitable (including me) and we were allowed to leave, with instructions to come back at 9:30 Wednesday.

So that's what I did.

Jan. 25th, 2011

In July of 2009 I started to go to the gym three times a week. There was nothing amazing about this; I'd started to go to the gym three times a week many times. ("It's easy to quit smoking! I've done it dozens of times!") But this time was different, in that I kept going for seven months. I felt and saw a difference and I liked it. My back didn't hurt so much, my stomach didn't rest on top of my thighs when I sat down. I liked it.

And then I had surgery on my left shoulder, and couldn't drive for weeks afterwards, and wasn't cleared for the gym for much longer than that. But finally I was able to go back, and I tried, but I felt overwhelmed and frantic. I had to quit something and since quitting work wasn't an option and not taking care of my house and family wasn't an option, the gym resumed its place on the back burner.

Lately, though, I've been trying to make it two times a week. I know that's not enough to make a difference, but it's better than nothing. And today, for the first time in a long time, I felt that good feeling of having exercised. Not exhausted, not sore, not annoyed and depressed, but kind of limbered up and stretchy. I like feeling that way.

Next academic quarter I will have a better class schedule and will be able to go first thing in the morning (without first thing being 6 AM; I just don't do that in the winter). If I could only lose some weight, too, I'd be a very happy camper. (I gained quite a bit in the last 9 or 10 months, and I'd really like to lose it.) We are having our fruit and soy and spinach smoothies for breakfast and I am eating salads at lunch, and we are having vegetarian (but not vegan) dinners... doesn't seem to be helping. But I'm not going to make the gym contingent on losing weight. That way lies madness, or at least a convenient excuse to not go work out. I don't want to do that.

Wow, And All Without Earbuds!

Mr. OddP and I dusted off our symphony duds tonight and sallied forth into the filth and froth of the 147th straight day of moar! snaow! to hear the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra play Messiaen: Les Offrandes Oubliées (The Forgotten Offerings), Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2, and good old Beethoven: Symphony No. 5. It was all wonderful, and we had fabulous seats. I forget from time to time how music really sounds not having been mediated by a recording device, having been fed to a CD, then passed to my iPod, from there to me through earbuds. Plus, I'd forgotten how much I enjoy watching the conductor lose himself in the music and end up nearly jumping in place conducting the end of the last movement of the Fifth!

I have also decided that it's time for the woodwinds to stand up and demand the reverence due them. The strings are always hogging all the glory, sitting up close to the audience and all, insinuating that really, Dear, all those other dimly glimpsed beings in the back are only to support US, don't you know. And I like the strings; that Messiaen piece had some lovely cello parts. But when the English horns and the oboes get going, really, it's a whole new game.

And percussion looks, not for the first time, like the funnest job in the orchestra.

We stopped at Java's for a latte/hot chocolate nightcap, and thence home. And now to bed.


Ahhh, Fuggedaboudit!

OK, I blew it last weekend, and, like a diet, I decided "OK, I missed a day, let's go nuts and miss a whole lot of days!" But I'm back.

I went to Niagara Falls with a colleague on Tuesday to present at a small local conference on our work in Second Life. Oddly the registration for the conference officially opened at 1:30 PM and our session began at 1:45, so there were a lot of folks who hadn't signed in yet when we began, but that was OK. We had a small group, about 6, and they were interested. Finally! Someone who thought that we were doing something interesting!

So that got me all fired up, and I came home and started creating again. I now have a substantial beginning on a Second Life installation on volume displacement, density and buoyancy. It's far from done, but I'm getting there. I had also assigned some Second Life homework to one class and I have spent more than a little time with them inworld working on the concepts involved. I gave a quiz today, and the few students who got a start early on their homework rather than waiting until the night before it was due did much better than the others.

This is me, 30 years ago (everyone in Second Life is young, thin and gorgeous) and two of my students working on a uniform circular motion problem.

I still think this medium has a lot of potential.


It's Almost Epiphany....

... and that is my excuse for not having taken down the Christmas decorations. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

When we were looking for this house (not like we'd misplaced it or anything, just when we were househunting not yet knowing that the perfect exactly right house for us was about to go on the market) one of my criteria for a "good" house was "easy to decorate splendidly for Christmas." And this house qualifies; I have boughs over the doors in the foyer and the living room, swags of pointsettias over the windows, a nice bushy Christmas tree decorated with not only ornaments made by my kids in their littlehoods, but one made by me in Sunday school in 1955. I have a tiny carved wooden creche that my mother used to put out every Christmas, that she told me was mine when I was very VERY young. I'm sure it was gift, but I don't know from whom. My kids and I started a new family tradition in my house the first Christmas after their dad and I split. We went to a nearby shop the day after Thanksgiving and bought the little Holy Family set from Fontanini. Every day after Thanksgiving for quite a number of years we would go and add to our nativity scene. We still do, although not necessarily the day after Thanksgiving anymore. We have quite a lively little village of Italian peasants and shepherds and angels now, including some animals and scenery. (Yeah, I know. Italian peasants? That's what I get from buying from an Italian firm.)

So, the decos stay until Epiphany anyway. My inlaws are coming for a visit (sans my stepdaughter, which saddens me) this weekend, so I'll just let the greenery stay. Why not? It stays packed away for most of the year. Might as well let it breathe.

Post Retirement Plans?

I have training as a mediator. Specifically, much of it was divorce mediation training, but not all; certainly my certificate from Cornell's Industrial and Labor Relation's school in Alternative Dispute Resolution was not focused at all on divorce, but rather business and other kinds of mediation. I mediated a couple of divorces after I finished my training, but I felt out of my depth. I would have liked to have done some more mediations with supervision and mentoring. Just about then, they started loading on more teaching and scholarship expectations at work, so I left it behind, but sadly. It's very interesting work.

Well, I talked to an old mediator acquaintance last week, and she started me thinking. I don't think I want to do divorce mediation; it's sad work, especially the child custody part. (Apparently you haven't lived until you've have a couple who are fighting like wolves over one kid and really don't care who gets the other one.) But I had thought in the past, and continue to think, that I'd like to do church mediations. Now, there's nothing nastier than a conflict in a church. Everyone believes that God is on their side, and churches (even well-functioning ones) are hotbeds of cliques and factions. But I really think I could be good at that.

If I can get some additional training and supervision, that is. I will have to look into that. I'd like to be able to bring in a little money after I retire without having to dig into our retirement savings. I want to start taking those funds when Mr. OddP retires, and that won't be for 9 years after I do.

Back In The Saddle

I quit going to the gym when I had my shoulder surgery last March. I kept meaning to go back, and I actually did go back for a while in the fall, but felt way too overcommitted time-wise and so stopped. But I'm back.

And Honey, am I out of shape! I'm struggling to do the things that I used to do, with about 60% of the weight that I used to lift. And I'm pushing. Dang. I'm holding this thought to get me through.

At least I'll be able to continue this into the spring. I was wondering what in the world I was going to do next quarter, since I had been, um, "promised" three preps. (For those not in the higher-ed game, that's three separate courses. Not classes; I normally teach three class sections a quarter, but two of them are usually in the same course. That saves time on prep and set-up.) No, I was going to get three different courses, one section each, and the labs for those would have been a nightmare, not to mention preparing course materials for three different courses. But it turns out that there is a scheduling problem, and two of those courses overlap, so yay! I'm going to beg to not have that time filled up with tutoring. I want to have that time to work on finishing the materials for the new course that I've been working on, and to do some more Second Life building and scripting. Keep your fingers crossed for me.


A Quart Of Milk And A New Best Friend

My daughters swear that I can go to the store for milk and come back with milk and a new best friend. They used to be in awe of my ability to strike up a conversation nearly anywhere with anyone. I think Mr. OddP still is a little... well, not awed exactly, but perhaps bemused by it. How do I know what to say?

Well, my mom was Miss Shy McShyerston in her youth, and found that she had to figure out how to talk to people; she was sent away to a boarding school when she was 12 (The Grier School for Girls which is still extant in Pennsylvania). Her parents weren't fobbing her off; they lived in a small Mexican town and there was no high school or equivalent. All the kids went away to school when they got to the right age. But there she was, younger than most of the other girls and with no mom to hide behind, so she learned to talk to people. (Anybody want to know the secret? Give three compliments a day. They don't have to be giant effusive ones, but "That sweater is a wonderful color!" is easy, and goes a long way. People never hate hearing nice things. OK, some do. But they can be safely dismissed as Curmudgeons.)

So, I learned to do that too. And it works. It helps that I am an ENFP (as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory), and very strongly extroverted; it doesn't drain my battery to talk to people. In fact, put me in my house for three days without errands to do and I can feel myself deflating, and not in a good way. I have to be out among people. And I can start a conversation with a door post.

But something doesn't work.


Speaking Of Friends...

We went to a sleep-over last night! I bought Mr. OddP new jammies for the occasion, and I washed my presentable ones, which was good because I ran into our host in the middle of the hall as I was heading for the bathroom to brush my teeth. Why, you might ask, this geriatric slumber party?

We belong to a "dinner club." It comprises four couples, and around the turn of the millenium we used to get together now and then for a dinner party. We all kind of drifted apart (as friends sometimes do), but reunited a couple of years ago and now meet roughly once a month for dinner at one or another's house. We often try to make it more than just dinner. Once for a summer dinner, we ate and then schlepped our lawn chairs and insect repellent to Highland Park for a production of ... oh, dear, I don't remember. Shakespeare. A girl disguised as a boy. (Like that narrows it down.) Anyway, Shakespeare in the Park that time. We always host in May of odd years because our neighborhood has it's every-other-year neighborhood sale on the first weekend in May. Our caroling party in December is always our turn. So we kind of trade off, but we sometimes arrange things to coincide with other interesting events.

It was C & L's turn this month. Several years ago they moved from the 'burbs to the 'hood. They bought a 1910 house with wonderful bones and woodwork and decades of neglect for a very reasonable price and then set about fixing it up. They have done a fantastic job, just a wonderful job (he's a plumber and electrician, so that helped a lot), and I love going there. Their dream has been to run the house as a B&B, and since the house is in pretty good shape and they are both retired, now's the time. Our New Year overnight was a test flight of this endeavor.

It was a fun evening, a comfortable night and a great breakfast. We were permitted to bring Widget ("Because he's a good boy.") with us, and I forgot my ear plugs which meant a lot of interrupted sleep for both of us because when Mr. OddP woke me snoring I poked him until he stopped, at which point I fell asleep and started snoring. Luckily we love each other enough not to resort to murder in this case, and our hostess decided that she was going to provide ear plugs for each room.

After mid-February, if you're looking for a B&B in Rochester near the river, let me know. I'll refer you.

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March 2011