July 17th, 2009


Sabbatical Rearrangements

Going To Work

When Mrs. Dr. Phil finished up her sabbatical, she loaded up a box with some of the things she needed to take back to her office. Huh -- that makes sense. So I thought for a bit about what I had at the office at WMU that I didn't have duplicated in one form or another at home. And what I brought was a black nylon portfolio with accordion file dividers. Useful for separating handouts and HW assignments, and now for carrying printouts and other items in a case with a nice handle. So I put on my IRoSF mesh cap from their Cafe Press page, and can head downstairs with my office glasses (reading and computer bifocals -- not multifocals -- to keep straight lines straight on the computer screen) and my Swiss Army Memory flash drives with the latest files.

At Work

The idea is to try to spend a couple of hours downstairs in the Kitty Room writing. It's not that I won't or don't write at other times, but a quiet place away from the TV is a nice change of pace. Well, that and I wouldn't want the kitties to go through major withdrawal after having Mrs. Dr. Phil spending a good chunk of every day with them.

Downstairs I'm using an old Sony laptop -- the SR33 is old enough that it runs Windows 98Me on a 600MHz Celeron processor with 192MB of memory. But here's the thing: I don't need it to work the Web anymore and it is more than enough machine to run Word 95. The screen is only an 800×600, but one of the reasons I like many of the Sony laptops is that the screen is spectacular. And the keyboard is pleasant enough to type on.

Bought it refurbished from uBid back in 2002. I'd been using it with an IBM Travel Mouse and a no-name Taiwanese numeric keypad with mini-USB hub. But the keypad's USB cable has gotten flaky and the mouse still uses a ball. So it's gotten a new Kensington numeric keypad and mini-USB hub, plus a Microsoft Compact Optical Mouse 500, matching what I'm using on the newer Sony laptop right now. Don't have to worry about stray cat fur or grains of litter clogging up the mouse ball now. (grin) Also bought a very nice ergonomic bead filled wrist rest at Staples the other week.

We're typing in style and comfort downstairs now...

Sabbatical Adjustments

It looks like I'll be teaching a class this Fall after all. PHYS-1060 Introduction to Stars and Galaxies, the same Astronomy class I taught last Fall. This is not a big crisis for my "sabbatical". I'm not sure it'd be very cost effective to teach one class four or five days a week, what with my commuting costs, but one class twice a week, when I was planning on going to WMU once a week on my own dime anyway, will work out nicely.

OAS Project

Not as many words in the file as I'd like this week, but a lot of design had to be done to make the expansion from novella to novel. And I'm over the 50,000 word barrier, while I still have some handwritten pages to enter. All in all, this is still doable for mid-August.

Dr. Phil

PS- you might notice that after years of sloth or inattentiveness, I am starting to add LJ tags to current entries and slowly go back through the older ones. Or maybe you won't notice. (double-grin)

The Death Of The News

Walter Cronkite, 1916-2009

The Voice of Reason from my childhood, legendary CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite, died just about two hours ago at age 92. In those days we had just three national TV networks in America, and while we watched the news on NBC with The Huntley-Brinkley Report and later the NBC Nightly News with John Chancellor, we still watched Uncle Walter, especially at major news events -- and most especially switching between NBC and CBS during the US space program. It is perhaps telling that I remember Frank Reynolds was the anchor on ABC at the time of Apollo 13, but I cannot remember the name of anyone anchoring the ABC news during the rest of Walter's tenure at CBS.

Watching some remembrances on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, everyone was talking about Walter crying twice on air -- announcing the death of President Kennedy and Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon. But what I remember was Walter Cronkite breaking into programming one night to announce in tears the loss of Grissom, White and Chaffee in the Apollo 1 fire on the pad during a test at Cape Kennedy. The moon program and JFK, brought together in one sentence. You might consider that my generation's Hindenburg. How ironic that Walter Cronkite died just shy of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing itself. Perhaps it best that his resonant voice will be played out this week and he will be remembered along with the first men on the moon -- and not drowned out by the recent weeks' tumult over Michael Jackson.

There are those who say that reporters of the news shouldn't be the news itself. A sentiment which is sorely breached by those who merge news and commentary and, may I suggest, creating news and things meant to look like news. Yet Walter is also best known for one simple commentary, where after traveling to Vietnam in 1968, he announced on the air that the war was unwinnable. As a result, President Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election, citing that if he'd lost Cronkite, he'd lost middle America.

He left CBS before he was ready, that is probably true. Yet he managed to continue to do things like host the Kennedy Center Honors and the Vienna New Year's Concert. And he sailed his boats for a long time.

The Most Trusted Man in America is now gone. Would that we see the likes of his kind grace our lives again... but I fear not.

Good night, Walter.

Dr. Phil