Category Archives: daily life

the only constant is change

Gone are the days when I used this blog on a frequent basis to share resources, ideas, announcements. It’s left my workflow, though I’m writing as much as ever. More Slack and text messages than in years past. An example of one other professional change.

Last year I turned over the administrative and business reigns of UCGIS to another professional, and slipped into the role of Senior Research Fellow instead. Still cats to herd, still deadlines, still expectations, but a responsibility of a different type. So far so good. Meetings with I-GUIDE Teams take up the bulk of the hours and the most satisfying ones are focused on the GIS&T Body of Knowledge, for which I still serve as Project Manager. Maybe in 2022 we’ll actually finally migrate off of Drupal and in to our own instance of The Living Textbook. That’s a hope.

Earlier today I listened to the most recent episode of the Quitted podcast, in which Holly Whittaker describes the liminal space in which she finds herself: having quit (or having been removed from) something (again) and not yet started something new. I’ve now listened several times to the last 15 minutes of the episode. The bits that are most powerfully resonant for me are about the reluctance to disappoint people whom you think are counting on you, and the metaphor of having your body responding viciously when you allow yourself to be sucked back into something that your gut absolutely knows it must leave. Plus the overall point that it’s all about identity. How you respond when someone asks what you do. What is our purpose? Our purpose as human beings is just to be human beings. Super important wisdom that I need to be reminded about, again and again, as I weigh the next round of changes.

London 5: Food, Entertainment, Music

Post-Ireland, post-Lake District, post-visitors, some regular living in London weeks.

Last night after the show at Royal Albert Hall, I experimented with the time-lapse functionality of my iPhone camera. I held the phone during the 40′ trip from RAH to home (via 3 different tube trains). Ended up being 23 seconds long and liable to give someone motion sickness (YouTube link).

Egypt 2: On board the Emperor Asmaa in the Red Sea

Seven nights on the Emperor Asmaa, sailing from Port Ghalib down to the St. Johns area, and back via Fury Shoals and Elphinstone, among other great dive sites.



Foo Fighter frenzy

Until this summer, it’s been years since I’ve paid attention to the Foo Fighters. They were always one of Chris’s bands, along with ones like Rush, King Crimson, Sugar, The Charlatans, Urge Overkill. Usually there were a couple of songs from each group that I liked, but for the most part, I couldn’t really listen to some of these bands for very long.  I’d try. How many times I’ve tried to listen to Bob Mould, knowing how much C loves him. But I just can’t, and that’s okay. There are plenty of musicians that Chris and I have in common, and plenty of hours of life for us to enjoy our own favorites.

Summer 2015, the renaissance of the Foo Fighters in my life. It began in July when the internet brought me the story of these wacky Italians who organized 1000 of their closest friends to play Learn to Fly together as a mass invitation for Dave Grohl to play them a concert.  Of course Dave agreed, in his own charming way. I loved the group video and spent some days thinking about what person or group I adore enough to make such an attempt. Honestly, can’t think of anyone. Though I once almost bought a $500 plane ticket to see Rodrigo & Gabriela again.

Anyway, listening to Learn to Fly just reminded me of how much I did enjoy certain FF songs. Which meant some evening sessions playing their old albums, and then Chris brought home a few episodes of Sonic Highways on Netflix. And for 3 nights this week, we learned about the music scenes of Chicago, Washington DC, and Nashville. I now have a fan-crush on Dave Grohl.  Did you know he grew up only about 20 miles away from me, in the greater Washington DC area?  Did you know he’s actually 2 yrs younger than me?  Needless to say, our paths never would have crossed during our adolescent years. His first concert was the Rayguns. Mine was the Beach Boys, followed a few months later by Shaun Cassidy.

Fast forward 40 years. Those first few episodes of Sonic Highways were great. I learned about how clueless I am about the DC rock scene, and all rock scenes for that matter. I’ve only been to the 9:30 Club once in my life, to see Adrian Belew and The Bears, maybe sometime in 1986 or 1987, after his King Crimson years. How did I even know about Adrian Belew, or King Crimson?  Chris, of course.

Sonic Highways taught me too about the Zac Brown Band, and Tony Joe White, and this thing called Go-Go music. Yes, that musical style was being launched during my childhood and teenage years in the DC area, and I was ensconced in my suburban neighborhood.

Zac Brown is playing next week in Saratoga Springs, less than 4 hours from where I live.  Road trip!

en route to Yap

During this month of May, I’ll turn this blog over to observations on our trip to Yap.  Yup, Yap.  One small island among others within the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).  I’ll be there for 3 weeks, part of a class from Queens University (Charlotte, North Carolina). I’m accompanying my grad-school friend Reed Perkins, an environmental science faculty member. And his colleague Greg Pillar, and their 12 undergraduate students.  Reed takes a group of students *every* May term to Yap; this is his 11th trip.  They do a range of different environmentally-oriented projects, often focusing on watershed dynamics and sustainable agriculture. This year in particular they’re beginning a GIS-based project that aims to mitigate issues of sea-level rise affecting the outer Yapese islands.

My part in all of this? Being another “adult” on the trip, contributing GIS expertise, learning to scuba dive, and some weeks of off-work time.

To travel from Ithaca (NY) to Colonia (Yap, FSM) required me first to pass through EWR to CLT on day one.  Then about 27 hrs ago we left CLT for IAH, then HNL (where I’d never been before, but an hour in the airport doesn’t count for crossing the state off my list), and now Guam (GUM).


Guam, enough part of the US to still have my cell phone plan work, but still 15 hrs of combined flight time from Texas.  The touristy part of “downtown” of Guam City (?) looks like one gigantic Duty Free shop. All neon, all luxury stores. Cartier, Tiffany, Rolex, Louis Vuitton. Not where the Guamese hang out. But with our 5-hr layover, close enough to find a sushi restaurant for dinner (breakfast, EDT).  Dee-licious.

Almost time for the short flight over to Yap.  We found a wall of free wifi leaking through from the United Club. Fifteen people, thirsty for their internet stream after a dry day of travel.  wifiguam

stunning earth science designs in fabric

From my favorite fabric store, Spoonflower, check out the winners of the earth science contest.  Can’t wait to quilt with some of these!


statistics of dual career academic couples

Does anyone else out there have stories to share of  managing a lifetime of dual academic careers?  Here are some statistics about our phenomenon in a study by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford (pdf). Not too surprising that the proportion of academic marrying other academics is high. We’re meeting each other during the years most likely to be seeking mates and the years mostly likely to be in grad school.

I’ve been an exception to the trend of men’s jobs coming first. We’re just doing a tango. It takes two.

Naming streets, counting citizens, and mapping facilities = Empowered improvements

A NYT story about students from Harvard documenting locations and types of toilets available in a Mumbai slum.

“The act of naming streets, counting citizens and mapping facilities turns information into an advocacy tool.”

But what was unexpected, that using toilets lowered some rates of sickness, or that even the poorest of people would pay 2-3 cents to enjoy a cleaner site?

back in running mode on National Running Day

Two years ago, I completed the Rock & Roll marathon in San Diego in just over 4 hrs.  Fast forward to the present, and I’m in a state of recovery, from a year of cancer and its treatments, and 18+ months of on/off plantar fasciitis. But a few days ago I went about 2 miles with my Vibram 5-toe shoes, and today I’ll head out for another few miles in my new low-profile Brooks. My goal is to be running 1/2 marathons in a year, pain and injury free.

I love xkcd’s cartoons, especially on National Running Day.

alternative ways of grouping and describing Americans

A post from somewhere recently (the Atlantic?) keyed me into the work done by John Nelson at IDV User Experience, such as Thiessen polygons of Craig’s Lists boundaries.  Then I wandered onto a similar approach for Massachusett’s Dunkin Donuts regions by PasteInPlace.   Soon the indefatigable Seth Dixon had pointed me towards the US Personality map. Next thing I knew, I was back to John Nelson’s production of the US according to its Google Autocompletes.  (Which reminded me of the Google Making us Dumber site, which I see has become stale, or maybe it was this Oddee list I was remembering.)

Just a few bookmarks after a Sunday night hour of procrastination…