Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Day 212 -- Jogger's Progress

Time6 days, 23 hrs, 1 min

After the long runs on the weekend, I took yesterday entirely off, and didn't even feel bad about it. Sometimes on an off day, I feel cranky and out-of-sorts, but yesterday was just fine. Maybe it's because I was still pretty sore. Anyway, today I did five miles. The one thing that I regret is that yesterday was the warmest morning for some time, and promises to be the warmest for some time to come. It was cold this morning, with a stiff wind.

October was a good month, overall. I'm pretty sure that my days and mileage will start to drop off, as it gets colder. But I did OK this month. One fewer day than September, but only 1.2 fewer miles, so my average was higher.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Day 211 -- Mount Pleasant

It has been a big week. I don't normally run on both Saturday and Sunday, but I decided to take advantage of the clock change. With the clock set back last night, I could sleep in and still get out early. So I did.

Being me, I didn't just settle for a light four mile jog. I didn't get a real long run yesterday, because Mrs. J had to work, so I did ten today. That caps a 37 mile week, with 20 of them in the last three days. Neither of those is a personal record, but it's been a while.

I was pretty tired by the end. My 10 mile route brought me back close to home after seven miles, and I wanted to quit then. But I imagined myself three miles from the end of a marathon, and decided I wasn't going to let a little fatigue stop me. So I toughed it out. I'm tired now, but it's a good tired. A well-earned tired.

Virtually, I'm in Mount Pleasant. I have a nice picture of a blacksmith's forge, but blogger won't let me upload it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pumpkin Carving

Today tbhe kids and I carved our Halloween pumpkins. Usually, Mrs. Jogger is the artistic director, but she's at work today. So we did the best that we could. From left to right, the pumpkins are owned by the oldest and newest Little Jogger, the medium Little Jogger, the medium Little Jogger, the smallest Little Jogger, the smallest Little Jogger, and the first Little Jogger.

Day 210 -- Our Lady of Grace

Just west of Burlington is (get ready for this) West Burlington, where I found Our Lady of Grace Grotto. The grotto dates back to 1920, and was restored in the 1970's. My favorite part of this website is the following quote: "If you have yet to see a geode, you're about to be comforted."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Day 209 -- More Burlington

I didn't want to leave Burlington without showing this cool photo of the Burlington Bridge in the fog, taken by Jim and Mary Kay on their bicycle trip down the Mississippi. Also, below, you'll find the old rollercoaster at Crapo Park. (Hey, I didn't name it!) The photo was apparently taken in about 1985, according to this site. Apparently, Crapo Park is now a huge arboretum, but no word on whether the rollercoaster is still there.

I ran four miles this morning, so I'm already on my way out of Burlington.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Guess the text -- Update

From Dr. Crazy:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

Here's mine:

"Mud clan. Married into Standing Rock Clan. Used to live around Heart Butte? May be dead?"

I think Uncle Not A. should get the author, anyway.

Update: Uncle Not A. did identify it as a Tony Hillerman mystery, but somehow failed to get that it was "People of Darkness." Maybe if I had included the next sentence: "Rudolf Becenti." Anyway, Blogger wouldn't let him post a comment, so he sent me e-mail.

Day 207 and 208 -- Burlington, Iowa

I'll keep this short, because I have no confidence that it will actually get posted, so I don't see a lot of point in writing too much....Blogger has been having difficulty for two days now. Yesterday, I couldn't even read any blogs on Blogger (which you yourself may have experience, if you tried when I did.) Earlier this evening, I could read, but not post. Right now, it thinks it's going to let me post, but who knows?

I ran into Iowa today, the seventh state of my Odyssey, and in some respects, my home state. I was born in Michigan, and lived for a while in New York, but I went to high school and college in Iowa, and my family still lives there. I think that if the emperor called for a census, I might have to go there to be counted. In fact, I'm heading for Grandma Jogger's house next, and then westward.

Above, the bridge over the Mississippi at Burlington, from this site. I'm surprised to find out that it was just built in 1996. Below, a Jogger in a field of Patterson's bindweed. This photo is from Big River State Forest, north of the crossing on the Illinois side of the river. It's what I intended to post yesterday.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

You can't blame the wreck on the train

My Discrete Math students are not doing well on the exam that I gave last night. This doesn't surprise me. It was apparent, in the weeks leading up to the exam, that they weren't getting it. A number of them are simply not doing the homework, and a great deal more are doing the bare minimum -- scrambling to get something down, writing down whatever hints I give in class, and handing it in. So I did what I often do in this situation: I based the exam heavily on the homework. I always try to keep the homework in mind, but this exam, I lifted several problems almost verbatim from the homework, and had several more that were the same idea, just worded differently. And, as I say, my students aren't doing well.

In some sense, I should be pleased that my demonstration "worked." Now I can go in and say, "Hey, bozos, try rubbing a few brain cells together when you do the homework." (Actually, I never talk to my students like that. I'll be polite and positive, but also try to convey the idea that homework is there for a reason.)

In another sense, I'm still disappointed. Somehow, I blame myself. Why couldn't I have covered this topic better, or spent more time on that? Of course, the truth (and I really do know it, deep down) is that it barely matters what I do in class, if they aren't going to do the work outside of class.

technorati tag:

Day 205 and 206 -- Lone Tree

The definition of a busy day? Yesterday evening, I was thinking that I had stopped into the bank two or three days ago. Then I thought about it a little bit more, and realized that it had been that morning.

So, I didn't post anything yesterday. Which is probably just as well, sice I'm not finding many photos from western Illinois. I'm around Lone Tree, about eight or ten miles east of Burlington, Iowa. I should cross over by the end of the week.

I ran indoors yesterday. I never even considered going outside, it was so cold. It was probably just as cold this morning, but less windy, so it seemed better. Anyway, I ran outside this morning.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Day 204 -- Biggsville

I went 10 miles today. I had planned to do 12, but I left myself an out. I planned a 10 mile route that ended up back at my house, and a 2 mile loop, to do if I felt like it. Well, I didn't feel like it. There's a part of me that feels guilty for "quitting," but I'm not listening to that part. I can do 12. I have done 12, and I will do 12 again. Conditions just weren't right for it today. And it was a good 10 mile run.

I've made it about as far as Biggsville, Illinois, where I visited Biggsville United Presbyterian Church. I was raised a Presbyterian, and still have a lot of affinity for the Presbyterian Church. This seems like a nice little place.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Day 203 -- Warren County Public Library

I know, I've visited libraries before, but I like libraries. They are cool places. Just imagine if we didn't have a tradition of public libraries, and someone decided to start one. "Hey, I've got a great idea! We'll buy lots of books and movies and magazines and music and people from the area can just come and borrow them for a couple of weeks. And if they are late bringing them back, we'll charge them a dime!" People would laugh so hard milk would come out their nose. But we do have such a tradition, and even really small towns have libraries, and moderately sized towns like Monmouth (and like my home town) have really good ones. It's so cool.

I ran 4.7 miles this morning, in the cold October air. It was a good workout.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Day 202 -- Monmouth College

Just down the road from Galesburg is Monmouth, Illinois, the home of Monmouth College. I applied here, once, too. That's not quite as big a coincidence as it seems. I've been on the job market several times, and each time I concentrated on small schools in the midwest. So there are quite a few such schools around that I applied to. With Monmouth, I never even got a phone interview, even though, in my opinion, I was the perfect candidate for them. Having been on the other side of the job search now, I can see what a crap shoot it really is. Especially back in the mid-'90's, when there were a lot of applicants for relatively few jobs. It's really easy for little intangibles to add up to a big difference. In any case, that's not where I ended up. Their loss.

Wednesday is my day for running hills. I made the hill five times today. I run relatively fast up the hill, then jog down, then run up again. It's a good workout.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Day 201 -- Cameron, Illinois

In the background, a timber frame home from Trillium Dell Timberworks. Kind of cool, I guess. Aren't most homes timber frame?

It was a long, long, day. I spent much of the day swimming against the tide. I'm trying to get a mailing together for a professional organization of which I am a part, and it is a pain. For bulk mailing, they want addresses in a spreadsheet. Which has to be just so, with everything in the right place. And then they run it through some sort of computer that checks for valid addresses. One person lives at 123 E Griswold Street (or whatever), but the address we had on him was 123 Griswold Street, so the computer choked and said, "Sorry, I need a direction." Mind you, this is in a Wisconsin town of 7000 people. Griswold Street is probably three blocks long. Hell, you could probably put his name and his town on it, and they'd find him.
The good news is, once we get the database cleaned up, we can use it every year. We'll just have to make minor changes as we add and drop members.

I gave an exam today, and threw it on the growing pile of crap I have to grade. I really need to cut down. I'm just not grading it as fast as I'm collecting it. The students seemed to be satisfied with the exam. There were no major surprises. I suspect that there won't be any when I'm grading it, either. (Unfortunately, one major surprise would be if most of them did their algebra correctly, and I don't anticipate that happening.)

Tomorrow is a moderately slow day. I may have to resort to closing my door and locking out the world to get some work done. I hate to do that, but there it is.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Day 200

Today was the 200th day of my journey, which began on January 2. According to my handy-dandy calendar, October 16 is the 289th day of the year, meaning that I have run a little over two out of every three days. I note that Day 100 was June 6, which is the 157th day of the year. So I got through my second 100 days in 25 fewer days than my first 100. In fact, since June 6, I've run over three fourths of the days.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Day 199 -- Knox College

This is as close as I'm going to get to Galesburg, so I thought I'd stop at Knox College. I had a phone interview with Knox College, once, but it didn't go well. As I recall, the guy asked me how I felt about technology in the classroom, and I waffled, not wanting to offend him. Eventually, I figured out whether he was pro- or anti-technology (I forget which it was) and I told him what he wanted to hear, but it was too late. Alas. It seems like a nice school. The current head of the math department was at Michigan at the same time I was in the previous century. I knew her slightly, but not enough to drop in while virtually running by.

I ran outside this morning, because the gym isn't open early on Saturday. It was 30 degrees, but at least the wind had died down. It was a good run.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Day 198 -- More Knoxville

As predicted, another day in Knoxville. Another day when I went to the gym. I meant to run outside, but I didn't. Anyway, I made four miles.

Today was our "Fall Break". There were no classes. So I went into school and worked all day, on grading and on other things. I got a lot done, but not enough. I'm still going to have to grade all weekend to get caught up.

Water Tower courtesy of Water Towers of the World. I don't know why this particular water tower was good enough to be posted, but it was.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Day 196 -- Knoxville

Sometimes, when I'm trying to find a local photo to use for my day's journey, I have a tough time. I might not find anything that I really like, or I might have trouble making up my mind. However, when I saw this giant frog at the Galesburg East campground, I knew I had a winner. I don't think that I'm quite to Knoxville, yet, so tomorrow might be another Knoxville area photo. But I doubt it will compete with this one.

I wimped out today. It was snowing when I woke up, so I went to the gym to run. I want to start running more in colder weather. On the weekends, it's going to be run outside or not at all. But this morning I just couldn't face the snow.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

RfP Wednesday -- Erma Bombeck

I picked up a copy of Family - The Ties That Bind...And Gag, by Erma Bombeck, at the library the other day. I haven't read any Erma Bombeck for years, and I was probably too young to appreciate it when I did. I'm sure that I get a lot more of the jokes, now. I'm not getting many belly laughs, but I'm getting a few chuckles, and quite a few ironic smirks, as I reflect on how her family reminds me of mine -- both the one that I grew up in, and the one that is now growing up around me. So that's what I'm reading this Reading for Pleasure Wednesday.

Day 196 -- National Coming Out Day

Did you know that today was National Coming Out Day? I didn't, until a few hours ago. I attended a "Safe Zone" training on our campus, intended to help "allies" of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trangendered (LGBT) to, well, figure out how to be good allies. We talked about issues, from appropriate language to myths and stereotypes to Wisconsin's proposed Anti-Marriage amendment. It was really a good discussion. Of course, the people who were there were mostly people who were already aware of most of the issues. But I'm sure that at least some of them were like me. I'm very committed to respecting people's right to be who they are, and open to people who are different from me in whatever way, but I'm not sure how to express that commitment and openness without having to get up on a soap box.

One of the interesting things in the training was one of those dorky little exercises in labelling. They had three or four people come up and they put a label on one's back, and then the others were supposed to treat the person stereotypically, and see if the target person could guess what they were. So the first guy was blind, and one of his co-actors spoke to him in a loud voice, and another one kept asking if he needed any help getting around. Then the second guy was a young woman in a miniskirt and too much makeup, and the others tried to hit on her. Then the third woman was a lesbian, and one of her co-actors did something that really made me think. She walked away and sat down in her seat. It really sent a powerful message. We all know that it's bad when people beat up and villify people because they are LBGT. But I, at least, don't usually think about how bad it must feel to be ignored because of it.

Anyway, I thought it was a pretty good use of a couple of hours of my time, and I got a little logo to stick on my office door, declaring it a Safe Zone for LBGT people. I don't know that it will make much of a difference. I don't expect hoards of students to come knocking on my door wanting to talk about the issue. But I hope it will make a few of my students a little more comfortable around me, and perhaps push a few different students to ponder why such a thing would be necessary in the first place.

Yes, I did run today, 3.9 miles in the rain, on hills. It was miserable, but fun.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Day 195 -- Dahinda

I love the sound of "Dahinda, Illinois." It just sounds cool. Behind me, you can see The Barn Bed and Breakfast, in Dahinda. Rustic decor, antique furnishings, deafening quiet, and an outdoor shower for hot summer nights. I don't think that I'll take an outdoor shower tonight.

I spent much of the day fighting jobs that people were trying to fob off on me. I managed to deflect a few, defer a few others, and accomplish one or two. But I didn't do many of the jobs that were already on my list. Oh, well, that's what tomorrow is for.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Day 194 -- Yates City

Thought I'd drop into the Salem Library in Yates City. Looks like a nice place. I wonder what their policy is for loaning books to passing joggers.

I ran to the gym and lifted this morning. It felt good. Yesterday was a scheduled day off, so my legs are rested. We're supposed to get a cold snap tonight, but this morning the weather was great for a brisk run.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Day 192 and 193 -- Rex Allen, Jr.

For the second Friday in a row, I was too busy to blog anything. I did run in the morning, about four miles. When I got home from work, Grandma Jogger and her housemate were here for a visit. We visited for a while, and after supper, Mrs. Jogger and I slipped out to go to a get-together for the new pastor at our church. When we got home, Grandma has just gotten the little Joggers into bed. We stayed up and chatted for a while, and then went straight to bed. I never even had a chance to read blogs, never mind write one.

This morning, I ran ten miles again. I felt pretty good. I did get a little tired towards the end, but in fact I picked up the pace in the last half hour, trying to complete the 10 miles in an hour and a half. I missed by 29 seconds, but I still consider it a good time. I'm a little sore now, but still high on endorphins.

Above, you see me with a picture of country music singer Rex Allen, Jr., taken in Brimfield Illinois. I just couldn't resist the jacket.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dear Jogger

Yes, today marks the end of my 42nd year on this planet. I've been thinking all day about something profound and insightful to say on this occasion, and here it is: 42 ain't bad.

I've had a good day. I did not run today, because I wanted to rest after yesterday's tough day. I think that was a good decision, since my legs are sore anyway. I got a lot of work done today, although somehow more work just seems to keep cropping up. Funny how that goes.

We're not really celebrating tonight. Grandma Jogger and her housemate are coming up for a visit tomorrow, and we'll have cake and ice cream then. Although I just might sneak some ice cream yet tonight, after the kids are in bed.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

RfP Wednesday -- Who has time for Reading for Pleasure?

I haven't done much Reading for Pleasure this last week. I've read a little bit more of The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer, but I haven't finished it. I really bogged down on my Anna Quindlen novel. I've read three or four chapters. It's good, but it's not captivating my interest right now. I think I'll put it aside and try again later.

Just this evening, I popped into the library and checked out Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. Somebody posted an excerpt from it on some blog I was reading the other day, and I realized that it had been too long since I've read it. I've read a little, but not enough to blog about.

So, I think I'll let this RfP Wednesday pass unobserved. Forget that you read this post.

Day 191 -- Jubilee College State Park

There is no Jubilee College, any more, the thing having folded in 1862, but there is still Jubilee College State Park. The old school building is around the property somewhere, but I didn't find a picture of it on-line. (I didn't look very hard, either.)

I ran four miles this morning. I was indoors, at the track, because the weather threatened thunderstorms. I'm trying to get used to running in the rain, but I ain't messing with thunderstorms. I ran intervals -- slow laps alternating with fast laps -- which may have been too much. I didn't feel terrific anyway, so it was a tough workout. I'll take it real easy tomorrow. I may take the day off, or if I don't, I'll just do a little light jogging.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Day 190 -- Solar System

I've been aiming at this one for a while. The last time I visited The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things, I looked ahead to see if there was a good one somewhere on my way. And sure enough, the World's Largest Model of the Solar System is in Peoria, Illinois. Well, no, that's not true. According to Roadside America, Peoria's solar system has been surpassed by one in northern Maine. They also report that one spanning England and Wales is under construction and "scheduled for completion in 2005." I did a Google search, but failed to find a report that this project was completed.

In any case, I'm in Peoria, not Maine or England, so I'll make due. The Peoria Solar System seems quite nice, although Roadside America reports that you have to be careful when you time your visit.
When we visited, we learned too late that the barbershop housing Venus was closed Sundays and Mondays.

Isn't that always the way it is....

Monday, October 02, 2006

Day 189 -- Peoria

Welcome to Peoria. I surely couldn't resist getting a photo in front of the Hubcap House. One of the cool things is that I am standing here with Dr. Carla Yanni, of the Art History department of Rutgers University. It takes a special kind of Art Historian to pose in front of the Hubcap House for one's bio page. I can't tell whether this is a genuine example of good twentieth century architecture, or whether Dr. Yanni just has a cool sense of humor.

I ran 3.7 miles today, and lifted weights. I missed a week of lifting, because I lost my faculty ID, so I couldn't get into the gym. I finally found it in the dryer, wedged under one of the tumbler ribs. I'd looked in the dryer, but I would have missed it if that particular rib was at the top of the dryer barrel. I don't know how many loads it had been through, but it scanned OK at the gym this morning, so I guess that it's OK.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Advisor

I stopped to see my dissertation advisor on Friday. I had some time between my two commitments, so I popped down to the UW campus to see him. It was just about as awkward as I expected it to be. He told me about his research, and I pretended to care. I told him about life outside the bubble, and he pretended to care.

My advisor is a nice guy. There is not a mean or a selfish bone in his body. The things that he is most generous with are the things that are most valuable to him -- his time and his ideas. During that brief period when I actually did mathematical research, he shaped and nurtured my ideas tremendously. I don't know that I would say that I couldn't have finished my dissertation without him, but it would have been vastly different.

He just lives on a totally different planet than I do. On his planet, the most exciting thing he could think of to share with me, after we really haven't seen each other for ten years, is that his research emphasis has shifted. He's no longer working in area X, which is what I studied, but has gravitated to area Y. Mind you, 99.9% of the people on the planet wouldn't know the difference, or care. I at least know the difference. But that's his life. He has his mathematical research, and nothing else really matters. That makes him a great researcher, but now that I'm not really interested in that, we don't have much to talk about.