23 November 2006

Catch up day

This last week has been absolutely non-stop.

It's at least partly due to Thomson Higher Education, who invited me up to the Austin area to take part in a focus group for their upcoming textbook, Biology: The Dynamic Science.

If an out-of-town weekender wasn't enough to be distracting, that Friday, just before leaving today, I get a nice new piece of swag: a pocket PC. An HP iPaq hx2495, to be precise. I got it from... um... it fell off the back of a truck, as they say. Not that I got it through any nefarious means. No students' grades will be changed as a result of my receiving this. Completely legitimate. But I don't want other people to put pressure on my gift horse, so to speak. I had been looking at pocket PC as a possible alternative to a new laptop, since laptops are getting to be such a nuisance to travel with, particularly through airports. And lo, I get this just before a trip -- a nice test drive.

So, for instance, shortly after entering my room, I was able to write a few notes:

This is interesting. Eight pillows. Who needs eight pillows? Flat screen, Hi-Def tv with digital channels. Sweet!

It's actually rather scary and a little intimidating.

Downsides: Can't connect to the internet to blog. They have wi-fi, and I'm connected, but I'm not a T-mobile user. Drat.

As you might tell, it is extremely swanky in the Hyatt Lost Pines resort and spa where we had the workshop. I had a bit of a heart stopping moment when I saw the "max room rate" on the inside of the hotel door: $595! And I was there for two nights! (Note to the Hyatt management: If you're charging someone that much, don't you think you could spring for free wi-fi?)

The day got off to a bit of a missed start when I walked into a room with my breakfast that I thought was mine. I wasn't quite paying enough attention to realize the sign outside said, "Thompson" instead of "Thomson." So I accidentally went into a room full of lawyers, I later found out. Luckily, I was not the only one to make that mistake. They laughed and said they'd met a lot of my colleagues.

It was a lot of fun meeting with other instructors, and they had three of the textbook authors there to listen to our comments.

After we finished, the lot of us got in a little bus and headed to dinner at Eddie V's. It was very good. And parts of it were -- there are not other words for it -- fucking awesome. Among the things I had were excellent hot bread, superb steak, some excellent potatoes au gratin, and (here we ramp up into awesome) a Lady Godiva molten chocolate cake with Mexican vanilla ice cream.

Anyone who knows me even casually knows I love my desserts.

That molten chocolate cake is in my lifetime top 4 list now.

It nearly robbed me of the power of speech.

By the end of the day, I felt a lot better about attending the workshop. The day before, when I was only halfway to Austin and tired and knowing I had a lot of work to do, I was doubting whether it was a good idea to go. I felt much better about the decision on the drive back. Pretty much all I was able to do after getting back was a quick round of exercise.

But then Monday, of course, the weekend away caught up with me. I forgot I had a demo to attend on some grad program recruiting and application software the university it looking at buying. I didn't quite get a quiz done for my neurobiology students.

I ran over to consult with my colleague Debbie Cole about her guest lecture to said neurobiology students, and she invited me to visit her grad class in linguistics. I did, and it turned out to be a good night to visit, as she was also hosting David Garcia Ordaz, who was reading from his book of poetry, You Know What I'm Sayin'? (available from El Zarape Press). David is a superb reader of his work -- lively, energetic and funny. Light years away from the formal, stilted way that poetry often gets read.

And that was just Monday. I had meetings Tuesday and Wednesday. I had students coming to see me. Trying to fix a figure I was helping my colleague Anita with. I have a backlog of paperwork that I'm still not through with. Barely time to think.

Today is my chance -- I hope -- to put out a few smoldering fires of work. (And blog!) The building is empty because of American Thanksgiving, and let's just say I relate to today's cartoon in Ph.D. comics. I can work through some student evaluations, play the Doctor Who Children in Need concert on my desktop speaker very loud without disturbing anyone else, you know, that sort of thing.

Enough blogging for now...

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