Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Apparently, we collect printers

About two weeks ago, after four faithful years of heavy service, my PowerBookG4, of beloved memory, bit the dust. It refused to boot up. One frantic phone call to Daniel at work and 15 minutes later the computer was plugged into the MacMini and booted up as a removable drive. A couple hours later, all 45 GB was copied over, except a few minor things that refused to copy because of bad sectors. So, the work is safe. *whew* Today it went in to the Apple Store, since there is miraculously still one month left on its AppleCare Plan. The machine isn't really dead, only flakey. In fact, it booted up fine the day after the problem and has run normally since. But I still don't trust it, especially not as I begin working on Big D. I'm having the Apple guys run their diagnostics on it, and then we'll reformat or get a new drive as necessary.

But in the meantime, I needed to get back to work on a non-flakey machine, so as of 10 days ago, I am now the happy owner of a 2 Ghz MacBook. I love new computers, but they also stress me out. It took the better part of the last week to re-install everything, set it up exactly the way I like it, and put it through its paces to make sure I'm not missing anything crucial before the old computer went in for service.

I also got a printer - a Canon something-or-other that can print/scan/copy. I've wanted a printer with a copy function for a couple years, and what could I do? It was an extra $30 (after rebate) with the purchase of the computer, providing I remember to send in the stupid rebate thing.

Here's the funny part, though: we already have a scanner and three other working printers in the house, not counting the old dot matrix in the storage area. All the printers serve a different function. The middle-aged, cranky laser printer (it needs a serious cleaning right now) for cheap & quick non-inkjet, the large format colour for, well, large format colour and card stock, and the tiny colour inkjet that can fit in my backpack with the computer when I'm on the road. Because I am paranoid.

See, this is what happens when two desktop publishing geeks live together, get married and have no children. A proliferation of printers.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The mid-April lament

I wish that some day soon, I will have a TA or three of my very own. And they will grade all of my students' tests and papers, and I will be kind to them and occasionally even buy them coffee, or cookies, or candy.

It comes down to this. Here I sit, once again, in my P.J.s at midnight on a Sunday night, stacks of essays on three sides. My only consolations are one glass each of coffee, iced tea and water, several pillows, a blanket, a pint of Haagen-Dazs Mayan Chocolate ice cream, and a spoon. Even the cats are avoiding me, rather than assuming their usual nap spots nearby on the table and the couch, Tiger because I can't pet him while writing and Ford because I won't let him repeatedly knock my pencils and stapler off the table, chew on the students' papers, or even better, sleep on them. No fun at all, that's me.

There is no other way to say it: Grading end-of-term essays sucks monkey balls for all parties involved.

I think I'm gonna need a bigger spoon.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Time to Spin, Part 4: An Honourable Profession

Me: "In another life and time, I probably would have raised sheep and spent my days making useful things out of their wool. Spinning is a good skill. An old skill. It's an honourable profession."

Wise Woman #1: "Yes, but not very profitable."

Me: "I know. My children would never have gone cold in the winter. They might have starved, but they sure wouldn't freeze."

This is NOT a post.

...because if it were, that would mean that I'm not working right now. I prefer to think of this as "warming up the fingers for writing", which sounds useful, rather than posting a blog entry, which would be closer to "procrastination" than anything else.

After recent conversations with two very wise women who have both gone through this and come out the other side to talk about it, I am beginning to accept that this dry spell in Big D topic writing is normal. It's so big, so overwhelming at this point, that it's too much to tackle on a conscious level. I don't know if my supervisor will buy that, but it works for me. (My supervisor, by the way, is either being exceedingly patient and is not a bit concerned about my lack of written product, or has too many of her own problems to deal with right now to chase me down. I know for a fact it's actually the latter, but I also have an active fantasy life. She's incredibly supportive, though, which, when I'm feeling emotional, as I was today, makes me a bit weepy and concerned that I will surely let her and many others down. I hope that feeling passes soon, because it really bites.)

One of the Wise Women described my current state perfectly, in terms of her own experience: "laying on the couch late at night, wide awake, book you were reading forgotten in your lap while your brain whirls... begging for inspiration, 'please let this happen, let me be brilliant...'" I sometimes think I'll surely go mad before I write another word. But when it comes down to it, I don't have to be brilliant. I just have to be done. I know this, but it doesn't help right now, because I can't get my inner voice to stop screaming long enough to focus on putting words on a page. It's not a panic attack - it's frustration at not having the words. Lately I've been wondering a lot why I'm doing this. I hold tenaciously to the notion that the quest for knowledge, the desire to better oneself, do something you love and be recognized as "An Academic" and maybe even "A Good Teacher" is an Honourable Goal, an Honourable Profession. But in the back of my mind, there's that Wise Woman's voice: "Yes, but not very profitable."

No, we certainly don't do this for the pay.

Suddenly, I hear a Klingon voice, a little bit Worf, a little bit Captain Koloth: "Honour! Sucess! Qapla' batlh je!" Two Klingon warriors step out of the shadows and challenge me to a duel to the death. I brandish dual drop spindles, one end blunt and heavy, the other end sharp and pointy, and some tightly spun garrotting wool as my weapons of choice...

As I said, active fantasy life right now. Not so much with the writing, though.

So, the "Big D" proposal is going very, very slowly. Not backwards, thank goodness, but currently stalled for yet a few more days while I sort out more grading and Major Computer Issues (which will be told another day). But I didn't really intend for this to be a post about Big D. This is a post about what I've been doing other than Big D. And since I sometimes feel like I live and breathe technology all day, I have to fall back on low-tech a lot more these days, to clear the brain.

And wool is almost as low-tech as it gets, baby. A stick or two, something to weight down the bottom of one stick for a spindle whorl (a potato will do, or a mud-pie if you're desperate), and some hair. Yep, Low-tech.

Doctor Who Tom Baker scarf: 59.25% done and already a whopping 7'9" without any stretching. Daniel is pleased with it so far.

Next, wool for spinning:

No label, but it's probably hand-dyed merino. I picked it up at Lettuce Knit in February (?), where there were a half-dozen of these at $5 each, likely left over from a spinning class. I bought the four that matched in colour and started spinning it last weekend. I'm aiming for thinner than I usually do, so that I can ply it into a 2-ply DK yarn and make - I don't know, a hat, maybe? This is the first time I've started from roving with a specific project in mind. If it ends up a little thicker than DK, that's fine too, I can work with anything between DK and worsted:

There is a bug flying around me, tiny, mothlike. It's been bugging me for days, flitting in and out of my peripheral vision, occasionally popping up right in front of me in a way that is both reassuring, since it means I wasn't imagining it, and aggravating, because it is a freaking moth. The cats can't seem to catch it. Ford has tried and failed more than once (Oh, brave hunter, save me!), and Tiger... well, Tiger's response is:

What moth?

I finally broke down and dealt with it, since there's too much untreated wool in this place to let flying insects hang around unchecked. If my Daniel is reading this, I, um, set it free outside, dear.

Cats. They do keep things in perspective, don't they?

It's fine, Ford, I wasn't doing anything with the keyboard anyhow.

Coming soon: Really Big Computer Issues, garb, feast gear, and more things to do when you're staring at a blank computer screen and can't form a full sentence.