A different kind of teaching for me

May 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Posted in education, life, local, motorcycles | 3 Comments
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I’ve begun the process of becoming a RiderCoach for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). The first step is to take the Basic Rider Course (BRC) and pass it with flying colors. I’m registered for the class at SUNY Canton that goes from June 11 – 13. Check.

Then the good folks at Adirondack and Beyond Motorcycle Rider Training (ADKMC) who run the classes at SUNY Canton decide that they’d love to sponsor me for the RiderCoach Preparation course (RCP). Then the folks at the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program (NYSMSP) enroll me in a local RCP, and I continue studying and volunteer to help out with (or just watch) some BRCs.

The RCP lasts about three 3-day weekends, or they may schedule it differently. Quite a commitment. There’s a knowledge test and a skills test. After passing that, I can teach the BRC for ADKMC!

The site coordinator there says teaching three courses a year (out of 18 offered) is a minimum. Less than that and you start to get rusty. I imagine they have RiderCoaches scheduled for all of the courses this season. Perhaps when I pass the RCP I’ll offer to cover any of the current RiderCoaches if they want to back out of a course they’ve already committed to and do something else that weekend.

I’m really jazzed about this. It’s something that involves a different area of my brain than my regular job, and it’ll be nice doing something non-college related during the summer. Not as good as being a tour guide in the Grand Canyon, but I’m liking the idea of it.

Haitian Earthquake Relief, Doctors Without Borders

January 14, 2010 at 11:40 am | Posted in life | Leave a comment

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

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Monday: not as good as it should be, not as bad as it could be.

January 11, 2010 at 9:15 am | Posted in food, life | 5 Comments

I got to my office this morning and realized that I did not have my mug of coffee. My 32 ounce cup of organic, fair trade, locally roasted, freshly ground coffee made in my french press … it was gone. I must have left it on my kitchen counter. Even worse, I had some before I left my house, and that coffee tasted good.

That description makes me sound like such a coffee snob, and I am, though I’m not as bad as some. For instance, when having a breakfast at the local greasy spoon I’ll drink a cup of diner coffee and ask for a refill with a smile. I’m not as picky about my coffee as I am about my beer, for example. I’ll drink water before Bud. (Unless I’m a guest at someone’s house who drinks it. When in Rome, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.)

So it wasn’t as if I couldn’t get a cup of Maxwell House in the lunch room, it’s just that I took the time to make it and now it’s wasted. Wasted coffee … wasted *good* coffee, and wasted time.

The hell with that. I’m only 5-10 minutes away from home anyway, and I realized my lack of coffee just as I reached my office so I know that cup of coffee’s still hot. It’s a pain in the neck, but I’ll go and save the good coffee. Also, sometimes when you have to put extra effort into something it adds something akin to a feeling of accomplishment. Almost a righteous feeling. Like the kind of feeling you get from choosing to not take the easy way out, fixing your mistake, cleaning up after your own mess … that sort of thing.

So I put my coat back on, grabbed my keys, went out across the frozen parking lot to my car and what do I see? Lo and behold, there in the cupholder was my cup of organic, fair trade, locally roasted, freshly ground coffee brewed in my french press, still hot my favorite 32 ounce to-go mug.

Vindication! Sometimes you get rewarded for choosing to not take the easy way out, without having to actually do the extra work you were going to do. Definitely a righteous feeling.

Damn, this coffee tastes good!

I’m still alive

December 30, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Posted in life | Leave a comment

It’s between semesters and I have some time to relax and reflect.

So, I’m off to go do that. Bye.

Time to crawl out from under this rock

June 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Posted in family, life, martial arts, math, motorcycles | Leave a comment

Hi all,

Just some quick update stuff. I wanted to mark my return to the blogosphere with something deep and/or profound, but nothing’s coming to me. So it’s just non-deep and non-profound me here.

Dad and Sandy are coming to visit in 9 days. Excellent. It’s also giving me/us an excuse to get some delayed house projects off the back burner. Good stuff.

I haven’t been motorcycling much since Jenny hurt her back a while ago. The few solo rides I’ve taken have been good, but I’ll be glad to have my riding partner back in the saddle. Best not to rush the healing of these back injuries, you know.

I’m doing the REU again, and the team I’m directing is making progress. They also seem to be enjoying the work, which I’m glad about. I also finally got some comments and suggestions from my editor about the paper I submitted last year. Essentially, it’s recommended for publication after serious revision, but the editor’s notes are detailed and thorough. I’m digging in.

I haven’t gone back to TKD this summer, and my attendance last year was sporadic due to work. I need to get going with the physical activity, though. The gut does grow without it.

There it is. Nothing deep or profound. I told you.

So close …

May 14, 2009 at 8:28 am | Posted in life | 4 Comments

It’s finals week. The end of the semester is so close. Soon my brain will be free enough to think about reaching out to the ‘verse again.

Houston, the ice sculptures have melted.

February 22, 2009 at 10:43 pm | Posted in canada, food, life, wine | 3 Comments

This weekend Jenny and I took a nice trip to Ottawa to see what was left of Winterlude. The only ice sculptures we saw were half melted and falling apart, but we had a nice time anyway. Due to leaving late and rearranging our plans on the fly, we didn’t get to skate on the Rideau canal. Next time.

Instead we had very good, long, relaxed dinner at Le Twist across the river in Gatineau. It was very good, but it wasn’t great. I don’t even know if I would expend energy to go back there. Its looks were nothing special, and the lamb burgers, though tasty, were a bit small. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t avoid the place if we were in the neighborhood again.

I think part of why my experience was so good was that Jenny and I were kind of snipping at each other all day, having left later than we’d planned and being hungry, and when we got there and relaxed and had a glass of wine and some food in our tummies, everything just got better. We started talking easier and laughing more, and it finally felt like we were on a little vacation together.

And though the food was slow to come, the appetizer was quick, and our waitress was nice and formally served our bottle of wine. It was an Argentinian red wine, a Marcus James Tempranillo; I don’t remember the vintage. A nice wine. Nothing to write home about (though apparently good enough to blog about), but I will look for it at the wine shop next time we go.

The Tombs Of Eternity exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization was pretty cool, as was the accompanying IMAX film about the mummies. Then we hung out at By Ward Square market, found our new favorite Irish pub, the Heart And Crown, and had dinner at our favorite sushi place, Wasabi.

All in all, a nice break from the day to day, or for that matter, the week to week.

Happy New Year!

January 3, 2009 at 9:59 am | Posted in life | 1 Comment

Oh my goodness, it’s been over a month! Well, now that the semester is over and the holidays are over, it’s time for an update.

Halloween was fun. Jenny had a great idea for a last minute costume for me. She bleached and spiked my hair and I went as Billy Idol. Fun stuff. Maybe I’ll get a flickr account someday and post the pics.

Thanksgiving was good. We had some family and some friends over, ate food, and played games. The next day we put up the tree! That was exciting because we didn’t get around to it last year. We like our tree. And Jenny’s dad endured winter driving that wasn’t as bad as he feared.

The semester ended a bit roughly. I’ve got to reorganize some things. I’ve got the upper level courses worked out pretty well, but the workload on the lower level courses is killing me. I’m teaching 3 sections of 100 level Prob and Stat in the spring, so this is the time to figure it out.

Jenny and I had a nice romantic Christmas, just the two of us. She’s knitting me a sweater! Then I went south to visit my Mom in SC for a week. Got delayed on the 24th on the way out, and got sick on the plane. That only lasted a couple of days though, and we had a good time. Saw tons of movies. Love Actually, Lost In Translation, Benjamin Button, The Lake House, and The Accidental Tourist. Mom likes movies! Luckily she likes good movies.

Jenny and I have been enjoying the new year. We have been playing a great new game called Carcassone. We’ve played it before and liked it, and we finally picked it up with a B&N gift card. Fun stuff. Last night we saw Tortilla Soup. Great movie! If you don’t want to eat like a horse after the movie, you’d better see it after you’ve just eaten a whole lot. It’s got lots of scenes of fantastic food being prepared. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

For this year’s new year’s resolution, I resolve to blog more frequently and consistently.

Psych! Yeah, we’ll see about that.

Life update

October 21, 2008 at 8:58 am | Posted in conference, family, holidays, life, math | 1 Comment

Well, the semester is in full swing as you, dear reader, may have guessed by the infrequency of my entries alone.  But life doesn’t stop, that’s for sure.

Last weekend I took 10 students to the Fall 2008 MAA Seaway section meeting, a local math conference. The talks were very cool, and many students told me they had a great time. I was also the chair of the student program committee. Last meeting in the spring, there were only 2 submissions for the student talk session, so this time we decided to supplement student talks with other things, like math jeopardy and an ice cream social. We also had two faculty give an workshop for undergraduates on how to craft a math talk. Lots of good stuff for our students. Then we got 12 submissions for student talks! We had to get help to cover all of the rooms we needed to fit all of these activities! In the end, though, I think it was a success. And we have some ideas to make the arrangement of activities better next time.

Some family have been going through some pretty rough times, and there is nothing I can do about it. That’s weighing on me and making it hard to concentrate on anything. Life sucks sometimes.

This weekend we’re going to do some preparation for winter. We’re going to store the motorcycles, and put the trailer out of the garage and beside it, covered with a tarp. Then we’ll have the motorcycles winterized in one bay, and the car in the other. I should replace that broken window in the garage door, too.

Thanksgiving at our house is on, and we’re going to have folks over again. Hopefully we can avoid the plumbing disaster this time around.

Over Columbus day weekend Jenny and I visited some friends and relatives. The relatives were Martin, Uta, and Tanta Martha who were visiting from Germany. Tanta Martha knew me when I was a nipperkin. She nicknamed me “schlingel,” which loosely translates as “rascal,” a nickname that stuck to me with my Oma (Martha’s sister) all my life. This will probably be her last visit to the states, so I just had to make the trip. I made two different holiday liqueurs, whose recipes I learned from Oma, and brought them to share during this visit; they were a hit. I really improved the coffee liqueur this time. We also had a great visit with our dear friends Edz and Sacha. One of these years we’ll get them up here to chill with us in the north country.

Academic advising has begun. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s time to start thinking about next semester already. On the other hand, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to be teaching in the 2009-2010 academic year, so it shouldn’t be so hard to believe.

Time moves so fast. I should make some time to think long term about life and what I want out of it. I did that over 10 years ago when I was working as a waiter in a restaurant, and I set myself on this course, got back into school, and now I’m a mathematician and professor. But it’s about time for a long term view again. I’m not going to be switching careers or anything, but I need a better balance between work, home, family, etc. Jenny and I talked about that a bit on the car ride back from the visit with the german relatives. Putting it off to the “break” between the semesters doesn’t work. There is no better time than now.

Paper, textbook, and motorcycle updates

August 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm | Posted in life, math, motorcycles | 9 Comments

Just a couple of updates on stuff from my last entry. My paper is done, and it will likely be submitted to a journal this week! I’m very excited.

About the textbook problems: after I complained to the publisher (the email was positively scathing), our rep fixed everything to our (the textbook manager’s and mine) satisfaction. I have the new edition in the bookstore, and they took back the old ones at their expense, and all within 3 business days of my complaint. I’m upset about the price increase, but that happens with new editions all the time. Overall, I am very happy with the way the situation was handled. No hard feelings.

I got my motorcycle back with the new exhaust pipes on it. The pipes were from an ’82 Yamaha Virago 920, and I have an ’81 Yamaha Virago 750, but folks on online forums said that exhaust systems from those early year Viragos are interchangable, so I took a chance, and it paid off. They fit just fine, and it sounds great. Not too quiet, not too loud. And I picked up a windshield they couldn’t get rid of for less than half the price, and it looks great! The only problem now is I need new saddlebags, since the current ones now hit the stock pipes (which are higher than the aftermarket ones I took off). That, and I need to fix a pesky turn signal, but hopefully that’s just replacing a bracket; a quick fix. That should be done soon, but the saddlebags will have to wait … I’ve put enough money into this bike this year!

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