Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn rain

I planted about 10 more tulip bulbs this morning. After planting about four, it started to rain a little bit. I thought I'd finish up the one I was working on, and then come in. But instead I put up the hood of my rain jacket, and kept on digging and planting. When I reached the corner of the flower bed, I had to dig up three rocks, and my jeans were soaked, and the dirt had become mud, and the light rain shower had become serious rain, and the project wasn't very fun anymore. So then I stopped. But just because I'm not digging in the mud in the rain doesn't mean I don't appreciate it.

Snow is predicted for Monday, and remember, Dear Reader, how excited I am for winter and snow this year. Meanwhile, I like the rain.

Jonathan went over to the church this morning to practice with the other children for their program for Sunday. We walked him back home with our umbrellas. And an umbrella for him. And I could see that I was not the only one who likes the rain.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Let's talk dirt

230 tulip bulbs have been buried in our yard. 230. Their 30 remaining friends wait to join the others in the north east patch of dirt on our property. 230.

And there is a crater in my trowel-yielding hand the size of Yellowstone. Broken blister. Dirt caked. 230.

The landscapers left us a mountain of dirt, by request, just in case we needed extra wheel-barrows-full to fill in holes. It sits near the curb out our front door. A neighbor took a truck load to fill a hole the size of a tree in his yard. Another neighbor hauled shovel and barrow up and down the street, back and forth, over and over again. And we have been hauling and spreading, shoveling, wheeling, dumping, spreading, filling the large holes in our yard, and 230 other small holes. And yet no matter how many loads of dirt we take, the mountain does not shrink. It is a miracle. It stands there, miraculous, unchanged and unchanging. The miracle dirt that does not fail or diminish.

It eyeballs us. Sinners. Waiting for the snow plows. Waiting. In majestic miraculousness.

And now I have a Yellowstone-shaped crater in my right hand. Trowel blister. From digging 230 six-inch-deep holes. Six inches apart. Exactly. Ish.

Only 30 more to go.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A few random things

Today I taught logarithmic differentiation, and my students laughed. I know that last sentence means nothing to you, but it was a personal goal of mine, and I'm happy to have checked it off.

We have been getting some things fixed up around our yard. To start, we got a whole new sprinkler system that does not leak around our foundation. We also got a beautiful gravel path through the overgrown raspberry patch. And we tore out the box bush in front that was starting to smell like old socks. I will post pictures, someday. I cannot post the before and after smell, but you try to imagine. Times like this, when projects are finished and look great, I love owning a yard.

I got 260 tulip bulbs for my birthday, to plant this fall. I spent a few hours Saturday, and planted about 50 of them. Only 210 to go. Times like this, I hate owning a yard. (But just think how lovely everything will look with the tulips in the spring!)

Since the semester started, I have been finding that lunch is not necessary. I wouldn't have believed it. I have colleagues who don't ever eat lunch. They can't eat lunch. When they eat lunch, it puts them to sleep in the afternoon. I was falling asleep during the afternoons. So I decided to take a shot at skipping lunch regularly. I figured if I could do it, I would also save time and money during the day. And you know what? My workdays are so busy that I pretty much don't miss lunch. When I remember, I eat an apple or two, but that's all. And I have been staying awake in the afternoons, even during research seminars! This seems great. Doesn't it seem great? I try to eat an extra large dinner to make up for those missed calories. I suppose if my weight starts changing one way or the other, then I may have to go back to lunch. Meanwhile, I like the new schedule.

Fall has been spectacular so far. The mountains are orange and yellow, the valleys are green and yellow. We've had rain in the last two days that has cooled things off and made the world smell wonderful. Or maybe it just smells nice because the stinky sock box bush is gone. But either way, October has been lovely. I am determined this year to have a positive attitude about the cool weather, in preparation for picking up a positive attitude about cold weather. And then colder weather. I am going to be so super excited about winter this year that you will have to stop reading this blog because of all the lovey-dovey mushy posts about wonderful winter. And then once I have picked up this positive attitude thing, I will trick myself into enjoying the winter. The bitter cold, lack of color and smell and sound... I will love it. Love it, I say! Love! Until I have to stop reading my blog.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some pictures from Tokyo

Tim took most of our pictures in Tokyo, because he was the tourist, and I was working. Here are a few pictures that I think look nice, as well as my personal interpretation of what was happening when they were taken. Sometimes I was there, and sometimes I wasn't.

This is a picture from our first Sunday in Tokyo, and I was there for this one. Tim and I decided to find our way to the Meiji shrine, a huge shrine in the middle of Tokyo. We carefully looked up the trains we needed to take, where to transfer, etc, then headed out on our own into Japan. Alas. We took note of the train stops written out in our Latin alphabet. When we arrived at the train station, the signs were in kanji. Uh... ? It took us some time wandering the train station, and a stop by the information desk, and some hand waving and penciled writing to figure out where we were going. But we got there.

We got better at the train system very soon.

Here is Tim at the same shrine, in front of a huge wall of Japanese wines. I like the decorations on the barrels.

If Tim is looking particularly hot in this picture, it's because he is a pretty hot man. Also, it was around 95 degrees and 90% humidity. Hot hot hot. We weren't as prepared for the weather as expected.

The above picture is me, later that day, trying to figure out exactly what we might take from this street....

Moving on:Deeper in the shrine we saw these traditionally clad women. I like the fact that the one is talking into a cell phone. Our trip was a mix of the familiar (young women on cell phones) and the unfamiliar (in kimonos).

Above: Unfamiliar. Tim took this picture sometime later in the week. It must be something famous and important.

Below: Familiar. Tall buildings. Probably also something famous and important in there.

So Monday, I headed to the Tokyo Institute of Technology to talk research with Japanese colleagues. That was the day of the raw egg lunch, but you can read about that elsewhere. Tim decided to head to the large park that contained the Tokyo zoo, and some other shrines and things. Like this Buddhist temple:
But unfortunately, he reported that pretty much everything was closed. So he headed back on the subway to the electronics district, Akihabara.

You can buy new electronic stuff in Akihabara. Perfect for a guy like Tim who likes electronics and stuff, right? Except he didn't want to go shopping. He found his way to one of the huge multi-story video arcades to play Street Fighter like a local. Kinda. He couldn't use their stick controller thing as well as his controller at home. So he stayed a while to practice with it.

And I was working and eating red bean shaved ice. Yum.

Which brings us to Tuesday, on which date a Japanese colleague took Tim and me, along with another American couple there for the conference, on a sightseeing tour! We started with the Edo-Tokyo museum, which was nice. But we didn't take many interesting photos, so we'll skip ahead to:

...The Imperial residence. We couldn't actually see the imperial residence. Apparently Imperials live there. But we could see this nice looking house near this nice looking bridge and take a nice looking picture. And a long drink of water. It was still 95 degrees with 90% humidity.

This sign says no bicycling and no running. Something looks wrong with those runners. Something will be wrong with you, too, should you go running around the Imperial residence.

It was too hot to do more outdoor things, like running, so upon the suggestion of the other American couple, we headed over to Akihabara to take in the cool sights at the electronics district. Oh hey. Tim was just there yesterday. We split up for some shopping, and Tim took me into the deep, dark abyss of an arcade.

It was creepy. Totally smoke-filled, full of Japanese males. As we went deeper and deeper into the arcade, I pointed out to Tim that I was the only female in sight. Maybe there were signs all over the place that said "no women allowed"? Maybe. We would never know, since we didn't know any Japanese. Tim didn't care. He showed me how you could pay 100 yen and play Street Fighter. Um... Cool? And so he played Street Fighter, and I sat at the machine next to him, and looked around nervously, and tried not to choke on smoke. And started getting a headache. And within a few minutes Tim started looking around nervously, and assured me he was almost done.... And as we left the arcade many minutes later, he commented that it wasn't much fun to take me to a Japanese arcade.


I don't know what the above picture is of, but I like it.

Wednesday I spent the day at the conference. And a tropical storm blew in and the sky opened up in rain. I purchased an umbrella for walking around campus. Tim was in Kamakura. Which is an outdoorsy location with a giant Buddha and a lot of temples and shrines. He also purchased an umbrella -- our two most useful souvenirs. His pictures from that day look pretty cool. Above is the giant Buddha from a distance. And then he got closer:

And even went inside. But his picture from inside is darkness with a big white hole where the door is. Not so interesting.

Anyway, the location looked pretty neat. Here is another picture Tim took that day:

Lovely, eh? Unfortunately, the pounding rain washed him completely away by the afternoon. Soaked, he hopped on a train and ended up back at the hotel.

Thursday, Tim went... somewhere else. And took some more pictures. Like this one below.
Hey. Isn't that Akihabara again? Wait a second. More Street Fighter?

Friday, while I was still at the conference, Tim wandered over to the Ginza shopping district, which is famous for being a pricey shopping district. You can buy pricey things there, like this car:
But Tim didn't buy a car, after considering our carry on space.

That evening, after the conference, we decided to find a nice restaurant for some very nice food. But then we wandered past a little Ramen shop and changed our minds. This was Tim's favorite meal of the whole trip. Except for the one where we ate steak. But close second.

See. He even photographed the food he was so excited about it. And here are his dinner companions.


And that's about all that I have, except this photo from inside the little grocery store near our hotel:
Fresh octapus for you and me.

The end.