Tuesday, March 30, 2004


I spend a lot of time by myself. For starters, I've got the commute to work every day; that's a solid two hours. My lunch hour is all mine. Sometimes I just take 15 minutes and eat lunch at my desk, but just as often I've got a full hour to fill. And then I usually spend at least a good chunk of the work day alone. Louis' meetings seem to average a couple hours in length, and some days he's not around at all. Just me. And then I can add to that the hours I spend awake at night. I'm not technically alone, since Catherine is in the next room, but it's still a lot of time with just myself.

I believe it was Paul Tillich who said "loneliness can be conquered only by those who can bear solitude." Solitude is an obstacle to overcome at least as often as it is a refuge from the world. There is nothing inherently noble about being alone, and I don't think that people who treasure a state of separateness are any more virtuous than those who thrive on social interaction. It's not altogether clear to me why I should feel good about being able to be alone when I am so very bad at being with other people. It doesn't particularly feel like a virtue, keeping one's own company more easily than keeping company with someone else.

Monday, March 29, 2004


Why exactly am I paying dreamhost.com? So they can fail to maintain their servers properly? Their mail servers are constantly down, and it drives me crazy. I think I'm moving my domain.

Perhaps too much.

This was my first weekend acting like a real person, no sling. I don't know, the healing is going slower than I thought it would. I'm still sleeping at least half the time in the recliner; either I sleep there all night, or I move out there from bed when I wake up and my shoulder tells me to get the hell out of bed. You'd think it would be better by now.

Anyway, last week it was snowing, this week it is summer. The temp got up to 81 today, and we took some advantage of it. Yesterday we ran errands, then went to this hyper amateur Shakespeare production at a local tavern. The guy who played the wall and the guy who played the lion were both funny. Other than that, it was forgettable, but at least it was free. After that, we went over to the powwow for awhile. It's growing, many more dancers than last year, but maybe the variety of vendors has diminished. My favorite eagle dancer returned this year, and there were a couple other dancers that I really liked, so that's all good. After that, we went out to dinner with our neighbors.

And that would have been enough for my first weekend out, I think. Enough free motion for my shoulder, anyway. But we'd already promised to drive down to West Baden Springs with the neighbors today, so that's what we did. Three of the four of us had been there before, but there was a classic car show going on, and also more of the restoration has taken place since I'd been there last, so it was worth the admission fee. Plus, we got to show Garry and Amanda the World Famous Jug Rock, and that alone is worth a trip to the country.

Anyway...time for the recliner. I've got twelve hours before I have to get ready for work, and I'm going to spend all of them in my arm chair.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Good book.

Janna Levin gets two thumbs up from me for How the Universe Got Its Spots. Not that I totally understood what she was saying. I was doing really well up to Chapter 10, then I started to bog down and didn't catch back up until chapter 16 or so. I suppose I should be worried about my inability to figure it all out, but experience tells me that I'm going to have to read it--or another book on topology--five or six times before I get it. It took me a long time to get relativity (and hey, I get both special and general relativity now, at least in concept. I couldn't derive either mathematically to save my life, though), and even longer to get quantum. As if I really get quantum, but you know what I mean. I'm on my third go round with The Elegant Universe. I'm a slow learner, you know?

The title of the book was a little bit misleading, but I guess she couldn't call it "How the spots of the universe may or may not have been formed and what they may or may not mean." I couldn't do her job; it would be very frustrating to have all these theories raging in your mind but be limited by the available observational data. And She must get tired of thinking "Well, one of these days, we're going to get a satellite launched that might help clear up some of this ambiguity." Anyway, I like the idea that the cosmic background radiation has spots, it makes the universe seem more cozy and less overwhelming.

So, I enjoyed the book, and I liked how accessible the writing was. It reminded me a bit of Joao Magueijo's Faster Than the Speed of Light, in that they were both rather conversational, and they both dealt as much with the life of a contemporary physicist as they did with current research topics. I don't know enough physics to agree or disagree with the guy, but at least I understood what he was saying. Some day I'll make a bibliography of all the cool "science books even art historians can understand" I have on my shelf, it would give me an excuse to re-read some of them.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Lunch time.

I spent my morning drawing a section for a 19th c. farmhouse we're renovating. Crazy house, made up of an original farmhouse and at least three renovations. The drawings are driving me crazy because they're based on a set of board-drawn plans. Really nifty to look at, groovy hatch patterns, but impossible to interpret with any sort of accuracy. We're going to have to go out and do some field measurements sometime soon, but I have to have this section done today because Louis needs it for a noon meeting tomorrow.

My basic life:

Get up at 6:10. Shower, breakfast, skim the paper. Leave home at 7:00. Drive one hour, arrive at work at 8:00. Work. Go to lunch for fifteen minutes to an hour. Work. Leave for home at 5:00. Drive one hour, pick Catherine up at the university, arrive home 6:15. Attempt to do some homework while Catherine cooks dinner. Eat dinner. Watch one episode of Perry Mason while doing so. Brush my teeth while Catherine makes up my bed on the recliner. Watch random TV in the recliner until I fall asleep.

Repeat forever and ever and ever.

Monday, March 22, 2004

House of Pain.

We have a sea of empty pill bottles on our kitchen counter. I stopped and counted them up today. Between Catherine's cracked tooth, and my excised clavicle, we've taken over 485 pills in the past few weeks. That includes my prescription pain killers (which I had to stop taking because it turns out I'm allergic to them), but doesn't include the two new bottles of ibuprofen we started working on on Saturday. I think our drug intake today alone pushes the total to over 500 pills.

The good news is, Catherine had the tooth extracted today, and Saturday's accident didn't appear to do more than set my healing back a couple of days. I'm hoping we both get to cut out the painkillers soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

AC update.

The shoulder has been progressing fine. I got the go ahead from the doctor on Thursday to start moving my arm around, and I had to tell her that I'd been moving it around quite a lot already. In fact, I've only been wearing the sling to drive (which probably sounds crazy, tucking that extra hand away when I'm behind the wheel, but being in the car is really uncomfortable, as a driver and a passenger, and the sling helps). So, she said I could try vertical movement, and I had to tell her again, "Yeah, well, I just spent two days taking field measurements, so vertical movement is already happening." So, progressing fine.

Today, though, I found out what happens when you move your arm in exactly the manner prohibited by your physician. We were shopping when Catherine dropped something fragile. I automatically reached out to grab it...and went to my knees. I thought I was going to throw up right there in the store. Throw up or cry. Or both. Luckily, I didn't do either, but I stayed on the floor clutching my shoulder for awhile. Instinct is the enemy. I should have just let the damn thing break.

Saturday, March 20, 2004


I think I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating: I haven't bought myself a new book in over eight months. I traded in some books for credit at the local used bookstore last fall, and I've been making heavy use of the public library, but I haven't purchased a new book since at least July. A friend sent me books for my birthday last August, and again for Christmas, and Catherine bought me a watercolor book with the money her parents sent us for Christmas. That's been it for new books, and it's been killing me.

Finances are still really tight--especially because publishing houses are apparently stupid and don't know how to pay their authors--but Catherine got a pretty decent honorarium for a lecture she gave yesterday, so she offered to buy me a book this evening. My very own book. My. very. own. book. And there on the shelf was a book/CD-ROM set of Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun, by David L. and Judith R. Goldstein. This is the coolest thing ever. I never got to hear him lecture when he was alive, and now at least I can hear a full lecture on CD. And the book that comes with it looks really good, too. It's very timely, too; I've been reading about Kepler these past two weeks, and here Feynman's discussion of planetary motion falls right into my hands.

As I was leaving the science section, I saw Janna Levin's How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space. I really wanted that one, too, but no way was I going to put Feynman back. When Catherine saw me deliberating, she pointed out that it was probably the only science book I was ever going to find written by a woman in the next twelve months, so I really should get it, too. So, my wife bought me two whole books tonight, and I'm going to go read them now.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


So, for the past two days, I've been working on my very own project, the redemising of a retail space (currently occupied by Reebok) at an outlet mall north of the town in which I'm working. "Redemising" is the fancy way of saying "take this space and divide it into two stores, the way it was built originally." Luckily, it's pretty simple, because I've never done anything with commercial architecture (I'm enrolled in a commercial drafting class right now, but I haven't done any of the homework yet). I've gone out to the space twice in the past two days to take field measurements (sure, send the kid with the sling), and I've done a preliminary floor plan. I have to do a demolition plan, a floor plan, a reflected ceiling plan, a mechanical plan, and details. I may have to do the plumbing, I'm not sure. Anyway, tomorrow I'm in charge of the office because Louis is taking his kids to Tennessee for the weekend.

Anyway, this is the kind of nuts and bolts stuff I'll be doing for awhile. Louis is working on the really big stuff, a children's museum, a private residence with a lap pool and an observatory. I'll be making a lot of drives up to the outlet mall. Once it gets to the drafting stage, though, all projects look alike, drawing a bunch of lines and making them look good, it doesn't matter if it's a retail space, a greenhouse or a medical clinic.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Lunch hour.

Well, I thought I'd better write while I'm alert. I'm at the public library , which you will note was designed by I.M. Pei. That probably explains the best parts of the job: 1) I'm being given a lunch hour; and 2) I'm in one of the most architecturally distinct towns in the United States. The job seems fine. At least, I'm being given things to do, and keeping busy. In fact, on my first day (yesterday), I did more than I did during the entire semester of my internship at another firm. I've done some tech support (got a new computer up on the LAN, installed some drivers and software, backed up the file server) and some drafting. I've been to two different project sites. Yesterday afternoon I worked on cleaning up the site plan for a summer residence at a local lake. Right now, I'm working on the drawings for an Eddie Bauer demising (downsizing), which is my first commercial project ever. So, that's all good.

There are a few drawbacks to the job: it's a 77.8 mile commute (round trip) and I'm being seriously underpaid (it works out to the same as a pizza wage when you take into account the gas mileage and the huge tax penalty I'm being hit with as a contract employee--28%). Also, it is snowing outside, and my shoulder hurts, but those two conditions should be temporary. But, there's a good deli down the street, and the library is one block from the office, so I'm trying not to focus on the "could be better" part of the deal.

Long day done.

Survived my first day of work. It went pretty well, but it would been even better if my shoulder wasn't still recovering. As fast as it's healing, it's still not healing fast enough to keep up with life.

Man. I thought I would sit down and catch up with the details of the last several days, but I'm too tired. I think I'll just go to bed instead.

Friday, March 12, 2004

moving forward. did lots of stuff today. dressed myself and ran some errands w/catherine over her lunch hour. i'm used to driving with one hand, i've been doing it for months. not so used to driving a brand new car with one hand. after doing it most of the afternoon, though, i've relaxed a little about it. remembered to pick up my last paycheck (good thing). felt good enough about it to pick catherine up from work, that last corner into campus is really hard to do w/one hand, but i did it twice today.

i also folded four blankets today, which is a major accomplishment. and i dressed (but couldn't undress) myself.

after perry mason, i did some homework that i didn't get done last week, due tomorrow. also, that reminds me that i found something to look forward to. my next communications assignment is to go to a public lecture and critique the speaker. i was going to put it off for a week or two, but catherine found me a good one tomorrow afternoon. the iu hps department's spring colloquium series started awhile ago, i missed the first couple of talks, but i'm going to a lecture on kepler tomorrow. this is something to anticipate, because i've always wondered about exactly this topic in relation to kepler's first three laws. they are purely empirical--they describe the behavior of the planets, but they don't explain the reasons behind it at all. i'm really all about the 'why' of kepler--how come planets move more quickly when they're near the sun?--so it will be interesting to sort of step back and just think about the empirical evidence for the afternoon.

now i'm entertaining an ice pack on my shoulder, cussing out my web-hosting service for once again with-holding my e-mail from me. it is very reliable in the areas i don't care about (web-hosting) and never reliable in areas that matter to me (e-mail). sad that free yahoo is better than paid-for dreamhost.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

i finally slept in my own bed last night. it took a lot of fussing with pillows and blankets, and it wasn't as comfortable as i wanted it to be, but my legs were tired of 24/7 on the recliner. totally looking forward to being able to just crawl in bed and sleep in any position i want, it's been so long since i've slept comfortably on my right side, and right now, i can't sleep on teh left either. soon, i hope.

also notable is the fact that i haven't fallen asleep yet today. this is the first day i've not fallen asleep in the morning or afternoon (or both). in fact, it might be the first day since the beginning of the year that i've stayed out of bed in the afternoon. i've been off the pain pills for about a day and a half, and that's a relief. i can feel my body starting to wake up, bit by bit.

not quite up to real life, though.everybody has been really great, friends calling or stopping by, driving us places, all the good stuff, but i feel a lot like i'm still in sleep mode, pretty unresponsive. nothing really interests me beyond watching perry mason re-runs in the afternoon. my attention span in minimal. i'm not in pain or drugged, but i guess i'd pretty much depleted my energy banks even before surgery, so i'm riding low right now. i'm looking forward to looking forward to things again.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

yesterday was my first day of really being up, first day of getting dressed and out of the house. it was tough, and today i'm pretty much staying in bed. we had to run some errands yesterday, and sign some papers, so i wanted a clear head, so i put off taking any pain pills until evening. if it had just been me sitting around all day, that would have been okay, but all that motion really made things difficult. anyway, i'm going to take a shower, then go back to bed (or my recliner) until tomorrow. other than that, things are fine. cutting back on the meds means i can read a little bit, and watch tv for more than 15 minutes w/out dozing off, so i'm not quite so bored.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Ready to go.

End to another crazy day. Up way too early to drive to Columbus for an interview. I think it went pretty well, but I'm apparently not the best judge of that, so I'm really not going to worry about it too much. Drove back home, dumped off my portfolio, and returned the rental car. The rental was a 2003 version of the car we bought yesterday, and even though it was thrashed, it still handled the hills between here and Columbus really smoothly, so I'm looking forward to going over them in the 2004 model. I'd be pleased to do it on a daily basis.

Let's see. Returned the rental, came home and cranked on my homework for an hour or so, made some phone calls about another job possibility. Cleaned up a cover letter and resume and sent them out. Dashed into campus for a late afternoon interview. It also seemed to go pretty well, but I feel fairly lukewarm about the job itself. The pay isn't the greatest, IT work doesn't really excite me, but a job is a job, I say. I'll take it if they offer it, with pleasure.

Grocery shopping is done. Parents have been called and wished well. Clothes are laid out for tomorrow morning. Catherine's got money for a cab and the pharmacy bill. I'm fed and watered, and unlikely to break the rules and eat or drink anything after midnight. Catherine will be checking my e-mail for me for the next couple of days (fielding those thousands of job offers). I can't think of anything else I need to do, so I guess I'll just go brush my teeth and go to bed. Nothing wrong with that plan.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The day, she is crazy.

And to describe it would take more words than I'm capable of producing right now. The condensed version:

1. I have a job interview tomorrow in a town 40 miles away. I don't really want a job with that kind of commute, but on the other hand, a job is a job, and this would be a GOOD job, doing what I want to do with my life. So wish me luck.

2. I have to drive the rental car to the interview tomorrow because our car can't be driven that far without an estimated $1400.00 worth of repairs.

3. The estimated resale value of red 1995 Toyota Corolla located in the midwest? Roughly $2800.00.

4. Even if we wanted to sink $1400.00 into our car, we don't have that kind of money. We called my in-laws to see if they could finance the repairs. When Catherine's dad heard how much the bill was going to be, he suggested we look around and see how much it would cost to buy a new car.

5. We spent from 11:00-7:00 at the Toyota dealership WASTING OUR TIME. We did leave for an hour so I could go to the hospital to do pre-op paperwork and get some blood drawn. (They only let us leave the lot when we agreed to test drive a car on the way to the hospital and back.) Other than that? Eight hours of people trying to sell us things we didn't want.

6. My in-laws are buying us a new Toyota Corolla SE. It was the car we first asked about when we arrived at 11:00, and the dealership spent eight hours trying to sell us something else instead. Idiots. I can say "No, that's not what I want," as many times as they can say, "How about [fill in the blank with a car we'll never be able to afford]?"

7. The car should arrive some time this week, just in time for me to not be able to drive it.

8. I never want to leave my house again. I am exhausted and weepy, Catherine is jet-lagged and sick, and we couldn't care less about having a new car.