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28 June 2007 @ 03:16 pm
To list or not to list (to port?)  
I used to keep lists for lots of things.   For just about everything, I guess.
Those 101 things to do this summer, for example - I kept that kind of list.
I had a list of everything I was going to have on my self-sufficient land when I grew up.
(I remember being a bit perturbed that a cinnamon tree wouldn't survive in Vermont.)
I once started a list of all of the books I was reading - my mom and perhaps both sisters do that - but I gave it up (too embarrassing, perhaps? that long section of nothing but trashy trash, you know).

Anyway, somewhere along the line, my life got too complicated.  Now, one might think that a list is just the thing to have when life is complicated.  And to an extent, I agree.  I have my calendar list, which is pretty much the only list left except for the groceries.  My brain just can't keep track of everything any more, either because life got too complicated, or my brain is getting too old.  Or both.  Probably both.  So the calendar list has those meetings I have to go to on it, and perhaps one or two other deadline-related items each week.

The nice thing about the calendar list is that I haven't been deleting it.  It's in chronological order, with current at the top and tomorrow right under that.  When I have a bunch checked off, I cut and past them down to the very bottom of the list, below the distant future.  So I can go down there, and see everything I've done.  It's somewhat satisfying, and helps to quiet the 'you haven't done enough' voice that is ever-present in my brain.

So.  I just started posting here, and my posting to the mystical sunken island that is usenet has tapered off considerably in recent years.  Consequently, I haven't kept people updated on the important events in my life.  Here is the way-abbreviated synopsis:

A year ago I went to see a play called Gay and Gray.  One of my housemates/tenants (who some of you met last summer - he predicted the rainstorm) was in it, presenting lines from an 80-something man from town who didn't feel up to the rigors of performing.  It was spectacular.  I might have actually posted about it on usenet; I forget.  I saw the director/playwright the other night at a party, which was cool.  He's working on something else, now, that might be out in a year or so.  I hope I can catch it.

The summer last year passed with the normal amount of stress:  "there's that dissertation that isn't written."  August 29th, according to my list, was my dissertation deadline.  I can't recall if I actually met that deadline or not.  I certainly didn't meet a lot of other deadlines that I'd set with my advisors.  My admiration of writers has gone up about 15 notches.  I don't know how you do it.

On October 30th (oh, so close to the 31st...) I defended.  Whew!   I was nervous beforehand, which most of you are probably thinking is perfectly normal.  But not for me.  I have an overweening sense of self-confidence in some areas, and this should have been one of them.  But the fact that I'd had the first version of my dissertation thrown back at me had chopped that self confidence into little bits of quietly peeping maybes and distresses.  Once we got going, though, and they started asking me questions, it was really a piece of cake.

Which would I recommend for urinary tract infection, red or white cranberry juice?  Red, hands down.  White, in theory, contains more of the proanthocyanidins than red (I don't know if anyone checked if this is true in fact), and proanths, in theory, are the active principle.  But I have my severe doubts about the latter point (cue protest from the researchers who've published on it) and all the clinical trials have been with red juice.  So there you go.  Most of the rest of the questions were probably too technical to bother with here, if I even remembered them.  There must have been ones that I didn't know the answer to ("I don't know" is always a good response to those) but if so, my overweening sense of self-confidence has conveniently forgotten all about them.

The copies of the dissertation finally arrived some time in February.  I should contact a printer who will make me many more for cheap, in paperback, at 71% size - a nice little book.  It's on the not-list, somewhere (every once in a while, like now, I think of it and contemplate doing it, but then don't - that's the not-list).

Right after the defense, I flew back to Vermont.  Had to be in time for a party that Friday (what's important, after all?).  And on November 11th I started Firefighter 1 class.  It was tougher than I expected.  Not the mental stuff - that was ok except for the lame way many of the multiple choice questions were written, and I typically got 90 or 100% on the quizzes.  The physical was more than I was ready to handle.  I hadn't realized how much 9 years of graduate school had wrecked havoc on my body.  Must do something about it.

November 23-26 was TurkeyBoink, and it was delightful to take time off and come see many of all y'alls again. :)

On December 19th, my stepfather (I don't know if any of you met him) died.  He'd been diagnosed with cancer the previous June or July or something.  It was very unfortunate, and makes me weepy even now.  I wasn't really close to him, because he kept a certain distance based on his beliefs of who I was - I think he mirrored some of my mom's criticisms in me, and expected that I wouldn't be interested in those things in his life.  And I was a bit nervous about my relationship with him, too.  Still, we got along pretty well, and I was there some of the time during his last weeks to help mom out.  In retrospect, I really think I should have been there more often.  Such is the way with hindsight.

On Dec 30th the local Unitarian Universalist Church, of which he was a long-time and very active member, held services for him.  They were quite wonderful.  We (his children and my mom with some help from me) put together a huge show of his artwork, and had a table with many of the books he had illustrated.  Since that time (ever too late - I should have done this with him when he was still alive) I've been collecting his books.  My favorite so far is The Amazing Memory of Harvey Bean by Molly Cone.  I think mom said it was one of his favorites, too.  I also occasionally come across an illustration of his that is a tiny delight - there's a little cabin in the snow, drawn with just a few pen strokes, that I'll have to dig up again.  So far I have at least 34 of his 60 or more titles.  It's a little like a treasure hunt, because he didn't keep copies of every one, and digging for illustrators is not as easy as digging for authors.  But I'll continue to work on it.

On January 26th, the college interviewed my mom about her time there, as one of the "Pioneers."  Actually, mom came in pretty late for a pioneer, ten years after the college was started.  But unlike many of the originals, mom is still around and mentally sharp as a tack. I was there with her for the interview, because she isn't exactly a glamour-camera-hog.  We carried on a conversation (with interspersed questions from the interviewer) about what it was like back when she was a student, and about daddy.  For those who don't know, my father was one of the early faculty members at the local college, though not a founder, and my mom was a student during his later years teaching there. 

That's two big deals having to due with dead fathers and stepfathers.  A heavy winter, belied by the weather (which inexplicably and somewhat scarily, stayed balmy until some time in February).  I liked all of the activity around both of them, though; death is much easier to handle if the life of the person who's gone is remembered and celebrated.

On April 21st, we had our Vermont Fire Academy Live Burn.  This is where the teachers set a concrete building on fire (well, ok, set pallets and straw on fire in it) and send us in.  It was f**in' hot in that building.  We were in four different companies, and each company had different tasks.  Crawl around and search for victims.  Sit around and feel how even more f**in' hot it gets when you dump water on the fire (steam heat, hella hot).  Climb up on the roof and smack a hole in it.  Some other stuff.  It was an adventure.  And again, I regretted that I've let myself go to such an extent that I was decidedly not top of the class.  (Oh, that precious ego with the overweening self-confidence, did it ever take a blow.)  But I wasn't anywhere near the bottom of the class, either, and completed the requirements without too much trouble.  That heat, though.  I hate heat.

On May 12th, we had our final exam in the Firefighter class.  The written was easy enough.  Most of the practical tests were pretty much a breeze, too; even the blindfolded 'follow the hose correctly out of the building' wasn't an issue.  Getting all of my gear on in under a minute was rough.  They gave us two tries, and the first took me 101 seconds.  Ouch.  Second time I made it in 58, a record for me.  I found it hard to believe at the time, and still am somewhat mystified, but hey, gift horses and all that.  I am reminded by the physical demands of this class of a discussion I had several years back with some of you (and bethzebra? or was it someone else?) about doing things one isn't good at.  I almost never do.  I'm glad I did this, but only because it was something that was important to me; I don't think the fact that I wasn't top of the class has in any way improved my psyche.

On June 9th I was considered important enough to acquire a mobile radio for my car.  Now the rest of the officers in our company can hear me when I respond to calls, and when I take over command at the College for the all-important calls involving burnt toast.  The radio is way cool, and gets excellent reception, unlike my portable radio, which is merely adequate.

The other day, tBotBCitW (hm. must get a better acronym) came over and we talked about sites for windmills and photovoltaics (and about the chicks and ducklings who insisted on joining the conversation) for more than an hour.  Not that I have any money to install either a windmill or solar panels, but I suppose I'd scrape it up somewhere.  Must call him or email him or something.  Can't let these things slip away.....

So that's stuff from my calendar list.  I kind of like it.  It doesn't have stuff on it that doesn't have a true deadline, which I suppose is a problem (those softcover copies of my dissertation, the reformat of the pdf version of said diss for my advisor, the editing job I'm supposed to be doing..... and many other things are left off).  But the problem with lists, for me, is that they get too full.  Things pile up on each other faster than I can do them and cross them off.  It's alarming, and discouraging.  So my management technique is to never put them on a list to begin with.  If they're really important, I'll probably do them anyway - they'll come screaming to the forefront.  And if they're really important and I still don't do them because I forgot.... well, life probably won't end.

Lists.  I used to like them.  Not sure what I think of them, now.

Ah - look at the time!  I can now safely not look at any list, whether on paper, in electrons, or mentally nudging, and get ready to meet my friend for a swim :)  Enough swimming, and hopefully I'll be in fit shape to go running (er, crawling - always crawling under the smoke) into those burning buildings. 


Selkiselki on June 29th, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)
What sort of software are you using for your calendar list? I like the idea. I wonder if I could export my calendar from my Palm Pilot into some kind of chronological list.

Or is it all paper?

I'm sorry about your stepfather, though I'm glad the service was wonderful.

Betonica with a mobile radio now! Whoo! :-)
betonicabetonica on June 29th, 2007 12:22 pm (UTC)
I'm just using a word processing document for the list - nothing fancy. It seems to do the trick, and I can't imagine that some fancy software would do it much better.

Got quite a list this morning, unlike most days, so I'm off to read about another college's pandemic flu planning, find a greeting card, send some email, yadda yadda.

But in the afternoon I get to go for another swim with friends :)
lorreslorres on June 29th, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It's great to feel caught up again.
Janetjanetmk on July 1st, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
Thanks for catching us up.