Lots of stuff

July 31, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Posted in dogs, life | 5 Comments

Not much time to blog recently. Lots of stuff going on.

Eddie: He’s gotten to the point where he goes to bed in the crate and doesn’t whine or cry at all. When I leave for work in the morning, he goes in the crate and only whines for about a minute. I’m very happy he’s started to accept this. Next step is being able to walk, talk, and generally be in the house in a normal volume while he’s in the crate. I understand, he just wants to be with people. He wants to be with us. But sometimes we’ll have people over who are scared of dogs, or with very small hyper children, or something. And we’ll need to crate him, and he’s got to accept that.

That being said, we’re also having him be with us more often when we’re just hanging around. He’s always on a leash when he’s in the house so far, until he has “come” and “sit-stay” and “down-stay” much better. I just got the book How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend by The Monks of New Skete. I don’t know when I’ll have time to read that, but I will. Maybe on the plane to MathFest.

House: Jenny’s having family over this weekend while I go to MathFest. (Overlap not on purpose.) I’ll be back for the end of their visit. Hopefully we’ll be able to go to Canada together. Anyway, we made the last unpacking push this past weekend. It’s so nice. You can walk through every room and not trip! Mostly, anyway. And some of the pictures are going up.

Work: Now that Eddie is settled into a routine, I’m doing much better at getting to the office and getting work done. I’m not quite up to during-the-semester productivity, but I’m getting there. I’ve been working on my paper this past week, and I’m making slow progress.

Misc.: It’s hot and humid. Hoo boy. Our house isn’t too bad, but the bedroom is the hottest room in the house, and if we don’t remember to open the windows and turn on the fan up there (the door is closed because of cat allergies) at 7pm, it’s nigh unbearable by the time we go to bed. As houses go though, it’s not bad. Pretty well insulated. Hopefully that works in our favor come winter!

I try to put on a good face about Eddie, but it’s equally true to say that his addition to our family has been a royal pain in the keyster. He’s taken away a lot of time I could have spent on work (that’s why I didn’t teach summer classes, to get work done), and time that I could have spent with Jenny. I got him too soon, before I was prepared, before I read up on being a dog owner, before we got completely moved and settled into our new house. As a result, I’m stressed most of the time, my nerves are frayed, and I’m not being a very good dog-owner, professor, or husband. I’m trying hard not to resent Eddie for it; it’s not his fault, it’s not anything he did. But I sometimes wish I never met him. And I feel bad that I feel that way. He deserves better. No, I don’t plan on getting rid of him. But something’s got to change.

Damn it, finishing grad school was supposed to decrease the stress! What a year.

Red tape

July 19, 2007 at 6:17 pm | Posted in conference, math | Leave a comment

I wonder … if I kept track of the time it takes to fill out all these frickin’ forms, took how much money I end up getting from all the different offices and departments toward my upcoming trip to the Joint Math Meetings, how much money do I make per hour? Divide total funding by mind-numbing hours spent cutting through red tape and dancing the government agency shuffle. If asking for money is a profession, how much does it pay?

Of course, the real question is, could I make more money some other way for the same number of hours? Tutoring? Waiting tables?

One wonders …

Hey, I just thought of something. There are people whose sole job it is to write grants. If it pays to have a person like that, then the getting of grants has to be worth the effort! Hmm …

We’re going to San Diego!

July 19, 2007 at 1:04 pm | Posted in conference, life, math | 2 Comments

I’ve been invited to speak in a special session at the Joint Math Meetings in January in San Diego! Woo-hoo!!

Ok, for those of you who aren’t privvy to the math-world, let me fill y’all in. This is not Nobel Prize level, Fulbright level, … nothing like that. All it means is that I’m a working mathematician, and I’m social enough to talk to people with similar interests. The “special session” is a group of mathematicians working in the same area as my dissertation was in. I was excited to find the special session two years ago at the JMM in San Antonio, and last year I struck up a conversation with the organizers. I also told them my office mate and colleague Arlo was working in the same area, and he got an invite, too.

My school is paying for my trip since I’m presenting, so Jenny and I are chipping in the rest so she can come, too. Finally, my wife is travelling with me to one of these conferences! Of course, I’ll be busy a lot of the time with math stuff and hanging out with math folks. After all, that’s part of what got me this invite in the first place. But there’s some talks she might be interested in, and she’s used to hanging with math folks. She even likes it sometimes. We may see some friends we haven’t seen in a while, too. And then we’ll spend some time alone together doing stuff. The old town is pretty cool from what I remember.

All the academics who read this blog will be completely nonplussed by this news. It’s life as an academic. Pretty ordinary, actually … nothing to write home about. But it’s a first for me — an invited research talk. And so, it’s worth recording to me.

The vlogging will continue until morale improves

July 18, 2007 at 9:02 pm | Posted in internet culture | Leave a comment

I was sorry to see Amanda Congdon leave Rocketboom, and I’ve been checking out her stuff since she left. The series Amanda Across America was good. It turned me onto Daryl Hannah’s vlog, which doesn’t suck at all (high praise). But most of her stuff on ABCNews.com is not so good. The attempts at humor often fall flat.

But was she always that way, and does she appear different to me because I expect something more? When she was an unknown, Rocketboom was offbeat, hit-and-miss, and answered to nobody. They didn’t disappoint, because you didn’t expect them to be good, and sometimes they were great. I don’t know if it’s my expectations that make her different in my eyes, or if she’s changing under the pressure from being in the spotlight, but she seems more vapid these days. The humor isn’t as deep. It used to be that some of the jokes were surreptitiously aimed at a small subset of the audience, and if it went over your head, too bad. I don’t see that now. You can be quirky and silly, but if that’s all you are, I’ll lose interest. And I’m losing interest.

He talks in his sleep!

July 17, 2007 at 2:36 pm | Posted in dogs | 3 Comments

Eddie is sleeping on the floor of my study as a blog. He just started barking in his sleep! Not full volume, but a low volume, sort of breathy bark. I wonder what he’s dreaming about?

Eddie update

July 17, 2007 at 2:27 pm | Posted in dogs | 1 Comment

For a while, it seemed Eddie was all I could talk about, so I made an effort to post some other stuff. Of course, he still takes up a lot of my time. Mostly because he’s never been trained properly and consistently. Some well-meaning folks have taught him some good stuff, but it’s been intermittent. He’s a good dog, but he’s becoming a much better behaved dog.

What follows is a lot of detail that non-dog-owners will probably find rather boring. Heck, many dog-owners probably will, too. But here goes.

He’s really good on a leash. Sometimes when he’s full of energy it takes more of an effort to control him, and when there are more distractions it’s harder for him to focus, but overall he’s very good. Most of the time he walks right beside me, and only a gentle tug on the leash is necessary to speed him up, slow him down, or avert him from a distraction (someone’s garden I don’t want him going in, a hot girly dog across the street, etc.). He’s also got a good short-term stay, a sit-stay, and a down-stay. (Short-term = 30-60 seconds.) When we’re waiting to cross the street at a light, I’ll tell him to sit-stay, and he’ll just chill until I say let’s go. Once in a while he’ll think he’s supposed to go in the middle, but I correct him and he goes right back into the stay.

When I got him, he’d never pee or poop on our property, just somewhere along our morning/evening walk whenever he felt like it. I want to get him to pee and poop in a certain part of the yard, and only there. Once he’s used to it, it’ll be very nice to not have to worry about him peeing on someone’s house we’re visiting, and when winter comes, he (and I) will appreciate being able to go out, quickly take care of business in an appropriate place, and get back inside. I devoted Saturday to this effort. Just taking him back and forth from the house to that spot, and not going anywhere else. I gained a partial victory. Now he pees there. But after 30+ hours of not pooping, I capitulated. So he pees in the side yard before and after walks, and poops somewhere along the walks. I’ll wait till the peeing there is solid, and try again in a couple of weeks.

Sometimes, when he is bored, or when he thinks he should be given treats when he isn’t, he can get annoying, pushy, and a little aggressive. This I want to stop right away. Unfortunately he knows how to push my buttons, and he really pisses me off like no human being over has. I know that when he jumps up, for instance, pushing him off or grabbing him and holding him down is a form of positive reinforcement. (Any attention is better than no attention.) And yet, in the moment, I get so angry that I don’t react appropriately. I don’t hit him or anything, but I will grab his collar and hold him down, for instance. Bad owner, no biscuit. So I need to have appropriate reactions to this sort of behavior at my fingertips.

Part of the problem is that I haven’t read up on dog owning/training. Everyone who knows me has just assumed that I read up on dogs before getting one, but I didn’t. Not one bit. See, we were going to get a dog soon after moving into our house, but Eddie came along before we moved, so we took him only days after moving. And of course I was busy packing and moving and stuff. So, no time to read. Now I have some good recommendations (thanks, Anne!), and I’m going to get a book this week. Probably “How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” by the Monks of New Skete. I’ve heard good about it from more than one source (everybody’s got a recommendation for dog books, it seems), so I’m getting it. First I’m checking the library.

On an up side, it seems he’s accepting the crate better, becuase he cries, whines, and barks for a shorter amount of time these days after being crated — sometimes for as little as a few minutes. This could be because I’ve been able to tire him out better the past couple of days (we had over a week of rainy days, but the past couple have been beautiful). (Yes, I’m being careful about heat exhaustion.) However, this is mitigated by the fact that he’s harder to get into the crate. I’ll be working on that this week. I started feeding him in the crate, and chucking treats in there at random times. We’ll see. It’s a lot I’m asking. “Sit in there away from where all the people are, and like it!” He doesn’t mind the crate itself, it’s not being where the people are all the time. But until I can train him to be in the other rooms of the house and be well-behaved, he’s got to stay here.

We are so looking forward to the time when he can sit calmly with us watching TV, or lie down in the same room and not beg or jump up when we are having dinner. And it will come. But we’re impatient for it.

Green vets

July 15, 2007 at 3:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Funny, the day after I talk about going green, I find this in one of the lists I’m on. We were talking about what mileage people are getting.

“The subject of fuel efficiency is very close to my heart because I had to give up 18 months of my life to go fight in Iraq; so that a bunch of mindless slave consumers could drive gas guzzling yank tanks down to Wal-Mart.”

First of all, I deeply appreciate the sacrifice this man and others have made, and his statement shows how it’s possible to support the troops, but not the war..

Secondly, I believe this war accomplished more than just preserving some Americans’ excessive and shallow way of life. (For example, removing Saddam.) I don’t think war was necessarily the only, or even the best, way to go about achieving those ends; sometimes war is the best/only way, but I do not believe so here.

Nevertheless, some good things have been accomplished in this war, though terrible the price.

Going green

July 13, 2007 at 2:28 pm | Posted in life | 6 Comments

I was just talking with Roberta about going green, and today I opened my electric bill. I can choose who supplies my energy. I can choose to get it from wind, small hydro-electric, biomass, or combinations of these. Here is the list. No solar in New York state right now. But we’ve got wind!

I’m thinking about maybe going with the first company’s option of 60/40 wind/hydro. But I’ve only just glanced at it. Jenny and I will look it over and figure it out.

Anybody out there going green with their electric company?

Rainy days

July 11, 2007 at 9:00 pm | Posted in dogs | 3 Comments

Wow, it’s hard to exercise dogs when it’s raining cats and dogs. Anyone have any ideas? Please tell me! What are some indoor methods for exercising dogs?


July 5, 2007 at 6:33 pm | Posted in dogs | Leave a comment

I’m sitting here doing office stuff (which apparently includes blogging; I may have to look at that) in my study with Eddie sleeping at my feet. I just got up between tasks and tossed a treat into the crate as I have been doing intermittently for a couple of days. Eddie woke up from the noise of me getting out of my chair and went over, ate the treat, and came out.

Then after 10 seconds or so, he went back in the crate and laid down to sleep! On his own!! He hasn’t done that since the first time (see previous entry). Wow!!

Ok, the title of this entry should probably be “progress,” not “victory,” but it sure feels like a victory! He has his head on an old smelly (like me) shirt that I put in there a couple of days ago.

I’m not going to close the door on him this time. I don’t want to turn this into a negative association for him.

I’m dancing in my mind!

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