Walking again

26 January 2014

I’ve started walking seriously again. You may remember that a couple of years ago I walked in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. You may even have donated. I am training for a different event this time, and I am NOT doing any fundraising. This is purely for fun.

I’m going to walk the Portland Half Marathon with my mother-in-law, Keiko. So by Sunday, October 5th, I need to have the speed and stamina to keep up with her. This is going to be a challenge. For the 3-Day, we had a rest stop every five miles and lunch and snacks and there was no need for speed. I just had to keep walking. The half marathon is going to be 13.1 miles without substantial rests, and I will be trying to keep up with Keiko. Here she is walking in last year’s half marathon, which she walked at just under 14 minutes/mile:

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I’ve started training using the long park that runs along the power lines near our house. It is very hilly, and there are plenty of other walkers. Last week I did a “fast” 3 miles at 17 minutes/mile, and today I did a relaxed 4.4 miles at 19 minutes/mile. It has been beautiful and sunny (we are in a drought) and the walking has been lovely. When the hours of daylight increase more, I should be able to walk in the evenings as well as on the weekends. I am looking forward to that. Obviously taking a walk once per weekend is not going to cut it in terms of training.

The weather has really been incredibly lovely here in Oregon. I know much of the country has been experiencing the polar vortex, and my former school district has been having show days. I see lots of talk about that on facebook. However, the polar vortex has not affected the West Coast. It has instead been unseasonably dry, and there have been unusual winter wildfires in some parts of Oregon. But the weather means that on today’s walk, I got a glimpse of Mt. Hood:

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Of course, just because it isn’t in the single digits, doesn’t mean it’s not chilly. The weather channel told me that it was 36° F when I started my walk, and in some places the sun was just starting to melt the frost that had lingered in the shade:

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I hope you are keeping warm and cozy, and I hope you get sunny weather soon if you don’t have it right now!

Throwback Thursday

23 January 2014

At my new job, I found out I am somewhat distantly related to one of my coworkers, who is descended from the Mohawk Brants who settled in Canada after the American Revolutionary War. What a surprise! So conversations with Joe (he even has a family name!) got me to thinking about my ancestors, and I dug through the photos my parents have given me to find some from that side of my family. So here are Joseph Brant Poodry Jr., Joseph Brant Poodry Sr., Joseph Brant Poodry III, and me, in 1972 or possibly 1973.

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Note that my rebellious dad is the only one not wearing a hat. Kids in the 70′s, geez. Also, great-grandpa is wearing a tie (a bolo tie, but it counts), grandpa’s got the top button undone and has no tie, and my dad looks like he has TWO buttons undone. I obviously think this is hilarious.

This one is of great-grandpa Wyman Jemison, his daughter Lucille Poodry, Joseph Brant Poodry III, and me, in 1971. 2014_01_22_21_44_43

I actually sortof remember Grandpa Jemison, in that I recall being at a large meal that he presided over, and I remember being told that he was deaf. Plus, he lived to be 99 years old and died when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I have been told that he said the blessing in the Seneca language, but I don’t remember that. I don’t remember Joseph Brant Senior at all, though obviously I met him.

So a little more detail: My grandmother Lucille was turtle clan, and my grandfather Joseph Brant Poodry Jr. was snipe clan. I am directly descended from Mary Jemison, who was a Scots-Irish immigrant whose family settled too far west in Pennsylvania. She was kidnapped from her homestead near Carlisle (later the location of an infamous Indian School) and taken North where she was adopted by a family that had lost a child in war. Mary Jemison had at least three husbands and there is a statue of her near her log cabin in Letchworth State Park by the Genesee river gorge. I am also related to the family of Ely Parker, the subject of the book Warrior in Two Camps by William Armstrong. Parker was a lawyer and engineer, but is noted for his role as secretary to General Ulysses S. Grant. Parker wrote up the surrender papers that ended the US Civil War.

Family names indicate I am related to Joseph Brant, who was a Mohawk war chief during the American Revolution. He fought against the colonists (darned illegal immigrants!) and after his side lost he settled in Canada with many Iroquois. Which brings us back to my newly-discovered cousin Joe. Pretty cool.

Oh yeah. We are also supposedly related to Red Jacket. Red Jacket was on the opposite side from Joseph Brant. He stayed in the newly formed United States of America and negotiated land in this country. However, in his time he was renowned for giving really good speeches that were so awesome people stayed awake to hear them and didn’t fall asleep listening. Here is my dad and me at the Red Jacket statue in Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo, NY. The oval on his chest is a peace medal, depicting George Washington and Red Jacket shaking hands. Ely Parker is buried right by this statue.

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Pajama Day!

31 December 2013

 

 

Pajama Day

When I quit teaching, I thought I would never have another reason to wear my polka-dot pajamas. I don’t wear them to sleep in, because I sweat in them and wake up all clammy. I bought them specifically for Pajama Day, traditionally the Monday of spirit week leading up to Homecoming. I thought I would never have another spirit week again. Well, that is probably true.

BUT, I have been delighted that at my new job, we have so far had Employee Appreciation Week (as a teacher we had a teacher appreciation luncheon on one day each year), Octoberfest (no beer, but free lunch with brats and potato salad and sauerkraut and other goodies), a Halloween Costume Contest (departments dress up according to themes, so it was a lot like being in the science department at East), a Pie Party, and today is Pajama Day! So here I am at work, ready to answer customer calls (even the CEO wears a phone headset most of the time), in my polka-dot pajamas!

Of course, there is a downside to wearing one’s comfiest clothing to work. I had to bring extra clothes to work so I could also run errands (which I had to do at school, too). Also, part of the joy of pajamas is not having to put on deodorant and a bra, but since I was coming to work I did that anyway. On the other hand, I also brought my slipper socks to change into once I got to work, which is awesome. And I get lots of compliments on my PJs, also.

Happy New Year!

 

Change is Good

13 December 2013

There have been big changes in my life. I now live in Oregon, having previously lived in Pennsylvania. I am no longer a teacher, by my own choice. I know I stopped blogging for a while, but I hope to start up again. I am happy.

New Dance Shoes

10 February 2013

After dancing at Hogmanay Ball, my feet were in a LOT of pain. Especially my toes, which felt like I’d been mashing them against something hard for hours. Which I had. My toes were mashed against the ends of my dancing shoes (ghillies) and then mashed against the floor.

That week, I saw a review in the travel section of the paper about nufoot shoes, $10 neoprene slippers. So I bought a pair. After all, they were only $10. Last night, I wore them dancing for the first time, at the Swarthmore English-Scottish Ball. Perfect. They are form-fitting, so I could show off my pointed toes while dancing Scottish. They have non-skid spots on the soles so I could stop easily instead of sliding across the floor, but with enough slip that turn-singles were smooth and put no stress on my knees.

I have no idea how long the shoes will last. But I like them, and I recommend them for dancing!

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Potted

25 November 2012

Today I potted the amaryllis my mom gave me on the day after Thanksgiving.

We went to Winterthur where we enjoyed the Yuletide tour and ate a yummy lunch in their cafeteria, and the gift shop happened to have amaryllis bulbs. So my mom bought one for herself and one for me. I’ve never had one before, and we’ll have to make sure the cat doesn’t eat it (he doesn’t usually eat the plants on the dining room table, and we will keep him supplied with cat grass, which he loves) since they are poisonous to cats, but I am looking forward to the tall, red blossoms.

We had a very nice Thanksgiving, with my parents arriving on Wednesday afternoon after I got home from parent conferences and my workout class. Greg made sweet & sour tofu for dinner, and made the tart for Thursday’s dessert. I made rolls and cranberry sauce. We all drank wine. Thursday we spent relaxing and cooking, in preparation for our guests arriving 3-ish for a 4-ish meal. We invited one of my colleagues and his wife, and one of Greg’s colleagues and her husband. Interestingly, this resulted in two Chinese women at our meal, along with a part-Mexican, a Japanese man and a half-Japanese man (Greg), and my parents and me: a mix of white and Native American. We all ate turkey (except Greg), tofu-turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, roasted vegetables, Pennsylvania-style chow-chow (pickled vegetables that my colleague made), dinner rolls, and a fruit-and-nut salad. And then there was ginger-blueberry tart and apple pie for dessert. With decaf coffee or tea. I was sooooo full afterward, and it was all so good!

The next day involved not only Winterthur, but seeing Lincoln at the movie theater and dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. All casual, no hurrying or rushing, and the only crowd was at the theater, where we had to sit more toward the front than we really wanted to, but it turned out OK. I really enjoyed the movie, and thought Daniel Day-Lewis did a really good job as Lincoln. I thought Tommy Lee Jones was also very good and I thought it was really nice that S. Epatha Merkerson read the 13th amendment. I was glad that a Native American actor (Asa-Luke Twocrow) played Ely Parker, one of my ancestors. There were some scenes I could not watch (the Civil War was a very bloody and terrible war) but not very many.

I’m wrapping up the holiday weekend with a little bit of schoolwork (lesson planning) and shopping online, and eating leftovers. I’m thankful that Greg and I both have good jobs and earn enough money that we don’t need to worry too much, and that we have loving families and good friends.

Awesome Evening of Science

13 October 2012

Yesterday when I got home from school, I caught the train into the city and met up with my husband. We had dinner at Sang Kee Noodle House and then took a taxi to The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, which was hosting the New Frontiers in Astronomy and Cosmology program, a celebration in honor of John Templeton (born in 1912) and marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Templeton Prize and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the John Templeton Foundation.

I might have ignored this event, but the star attraction was the lecture by Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality. I’m a fan of the NOVA series based on the first two books, and I have showed them to my students. Greene has also been on a couple of awesome RadioLab podcasts, The (Multi) Universe(s) and DIY Universe. So I convinced Greg we should go, and wrote in for free tickets.

The e-mail I got back said that the lecture was over-subscribed (the conference organizers had no idea that Greene was so popular?) so we arrived early to stand in line and get a seat. It was worth it. Before hand we chatted with a colleague and his students, and found out that one of his students had worked with one of my students over the summer. That student of mine was there with his brother and parents, and then I saw two others of my students there also! In fact, I got a photo of one with Greene!

This particular student plans to be a physicist when he grows up, and dreams of discovering a previously unknown law of physics.

After the talk, Greene answered a few questions. I asked if it was possible to observationally determine if there were in fact other universes outside of our own. The short answer is yes, IF another bubble universe bumped up with ours we should be able to observe the resulting “ripples” in the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Then, there was a panel discussion featuring

  • Marcelo Gleiser of Dartmouth, who is interested in the origin of life on Earth and elsewhere in the universe
  • Geoffrey Marcy of UC Berkeley, who is a co-investigator on the Kepler extra-solar planet finding team
  • David M. Spergel of Princeton, who works with the data from the WMAP satellite, which distinguished fine fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background
  • Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts, who has developed the idea of the multiverse and works on inflation and cosmic strings.

Wow. What a collection of thinkers! They were given the questions

I. What was the earliest state of the universe?
II. Is our universe unique or is it part of a much larger multiverse?
III. What is the origin of the complexity in the universe?
IV. Are we alone in the universe? Or, are there other life and intelligence beyond the solar system?

and this is what the discussion centered on. Then they took questions. Partway through, Marcy commented that he was surprised that the audience seemed much more interested in the idea of the multiverse than with the idea of aliens from other planets.

Other interesting tidbits: we were seated right behind 97-year-old Nobel Laureate Charles Townes, who invented the precursor to the LASER (the MASER, which stands for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) and who is also a Templeton Prize recipient. According to Wikipedia, Townes is the only figure other than Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama to win both a Templeton Prize and a Nobel Prize. The conference organizer was Donald York, one of the Principal Investigators on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a project for mapping all the galaxies in the visible universe. I have had my students use the data for projects through the Sky Server website. The data released is so comprehensive, a dedicated middle-schooler or high-schooler could ask a question and do research that could be eligible for journal publication. Finally, the panel moderator was George Ellis, also a Templeton Prize winner, who is a pre-eminent researcher in cosmology and general relativity, and who has co-authored a book with Stephen Hawking. The only way this evening could have been more exciting would be if Kip Thorne or Stephen Hawking had been there too. It was awe-inspiring to be in the same room with these people!

 

Harvest

26 August 2012

Greg has been gardening again this summer, and the garden has provided sugar snap peas, garlic, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and melons.  Here is what Greg harvested today:

That melon is huge for a cantaloupe. It’s probably 10 pounds of cucumbers. I think we have already harvested 30 pounds of cucumbers. I will be taking some to school on Tuesday to put in the teacher mailroom to try to get rid of them. We already have a lot in our refrigerator.

With some of the cucumbers and tomatoes I will be making a jar of marinated vegetables. I don’t remember who “pinned” this to “pinterest” but it showed up in somebody’s facebook feed and I followed it to find this recipe. Sounds yummy, and I bet the vinegar will make the tomatoes taste good to me!

I don’t know what Greg has planned for the rest of the tomatoes, but I think we will be eating melon for breakfast and dessert for a while!

Last week I made this tomato pie:

I made a tomato pie last summer but I could not find the recipe. I searched all the cookbooks and the internet. So I had to make this up. It is pretty yummy.

Tomato Pie – serves 2-4 as main dish, more as a side dish

  • 1 pie crust, store-bought or homemade
  • a bunch of plum or Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • a couple of scallions, sliced thinly
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Brush a pie pan lightly with olive oil. Lay the crust in the pie pan, and brush the inside of the crust lightly with olive oil. Combine the tomatoes, basil, scallions, and most of the feta cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add pepper to taste, and mix gently. Add the tomato mixture to the pie pan, folding the edges of the crust over the filling. Sprinkle remaining feta cheese on top. Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden, and feta cheese is browned on the tops. Let sit 10-15 minutes before slicing and eating. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

This pie makes excellent leftovers.

 

Surly

20 August 2012

I spend a lot of time on Twitter, mostly reading what science teachers and science-y people have to say. A few days ago Jennifer Ouelette (@JenLucPiquant on Twitter) linked to a post about things happening in the atheist/skeptic community, which I am not a part of and don’t follow. I read it anyway, and I got really annoyed. Not only are some people jerks and trolls on the internet behind the safety of a pseudonym, but there are apparently also a**holes in real life as well. For no good reason, a woman known as Surly Amy was harassed at a conference and some people actually went so far as to try to harm her business.

The issue? Apparently sexual harassment occurs at conferences and women who speak up about it deserve to be harassed even more.

Seriously?

I immediately went to Surly Amy’s Etsy store and bought a necklace.

In case you can’t read it, it says “LEARN Something New Every Day.” which of course is one of my major ways I try to live my life.

I also wrote Surly Amy a note of support in the “message to seller” that you can write in when you buy things through Etsy, so she would know why I decided to buy this necklace. So, now I think you should check out Surly-Ramics here and on Etsy and maybe buy something for the science nerd/gamer/atheist/skeptic/Unitarian Universalist (yes, she does chalice jewelry!) in your life! Great gifts at a decent price! Also, you can follow Amy on Twitter (@SurlyAmy) and read her blog posts.

 

Diana

30 June 2012

Diana died this week.  She was a Christian woman in the best way, loving and caring and welcoming.  I met her when my father-in-law, Rich, brought her to visit us for a few days a couple of years ago.  Later that year, my visit to Portland, OR for a conference coincided with their visit to my sister-in-law, Jackie.

Rich, Diana, and Jackie and the Columbia River

Rich, Jackie, and Diana at a different vantage above the Columbia River

Diana loved to take photos, and she sent us papercrafted cards for every holiday while she could.  Every holiday including Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We also received papercrafted bookmarks that she made, with white flowers constructed of paper cutouts placed together with tiny dabs of glue, with bitty crystals in the center.

Most importantly, Diana was the person who Rich decided to share his life with.  They each sold their homes and moved to Oregon, far from where each of them had been living.  They bought a house where Rich could put together train layouts and Diana could do her crafts.  Diana will be missed by Rich and their dog Shadow, and by all of us who knew her and counted her as family.

We love you Diana, we know you loved us!


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