Archive for May, 2008

Life and … goggles?

31 May 2008

Since Wednesday, I’ve been experiencing massive sinus drainage down the back of my throat, and difficulty maintaining energy for very long at all. My voice sounds like it’s about to fail, my right ear keeps clicking at me, and my nose can’t decide whether to let me breathe trough it or not. Bleah. Does that stop me? No. Of course not.

Thursday was the day we took the physics classes to a local amusement park to measure accelerations and times and forces, so they could understand viscerally what we mean by inertia and “normal” force and free fall and then fill out a packet and make some graphs placing all that excitement and fun into the language of mathematics. I spent hours on my feet, in the sun. I had a great time. I went on roller coasters and ate way too many calories of food.

Friday I felt drained of energy, and worse than I felt Wednesday. I came home from school and fell asleep on the sofa. Oh, that’s no different from most Fridays, except this Friday I found the Scripps National Spelling Bee on TV when I woke up and that was pretty exciting. But I am not able to sleep through the night due to the gunk in my head, and even my old standby pseudoephedrine has not seemed to make a dent in the problem.

I would have preferred to stay on the sofa all day today, but I went to school to help a student with an end-of-year project. We spent a good 20 minutes running around the school trying to get to the science classrooms…all the right doors were locked from the other side, and I couldn’t find a custodian. The athletic director, who was busy with all-day lacrosse, let me into the building three times. Yes, three, the third time going with me all the way up to the room so I could be sure of reaching it. Sigh. I wonder if I should bake her some cookies.

I did spend the REST of the day on the sofa, once I was home, except for the half hour I spent in the bathroom gargling with salt water and running salt water through my nose (in one nostril, out the other) with my neti pot. For five minutes after I was done, I felt great! I just hope I can get most of this cold over with tomorrow because next week is a busy one—the AP kids are finishing their Rube Goldberg machine, we are going to film it, and the seniors have their last day of classes on Wednesday. I’m giving a test on Tuesday to my other classes, and then starting the remaining juniors on special relativity. I will need energy!

So the goggle thing. Yes.

I first got my own goggles for an innocent enough reason. I own an electric drill. I think I even bought that first pair of safety goggles at the hardware store, rather than st…borrowing them from school. Not very exciting, just plain, clear plastic with little ventilation holes punched in the sides, and the usual elastic band. They make that nice goggle-line across my forehead and cheekbones, just like the kids on their way out from chemistry class have.

Then I discovered Junkyard Wars, thanks to a friend. And I got goggle envy. A few years later when I started working at the science camp, I ran a three-day junkyard wars competition and at the flea market down the road where I was buying appropriate junk I found a pair of welding goggles for a dollar. How could I pass that up? I wore those goggles for three weeks (mostly on top of my head or around my neck). Besides, you never know when you’ll need to watch a solar eclipse, or even weld! I don’t actually know how to weld, but I think I could take a class at the local community college.

One October, my husband brought home old-style aviator goggles, to go with his leather, faux-fleece lined aviator helmet. It was for a costume. By then my old original goggles were getting yellowed and scratched, so we got safety-glasses style goggles for our occasional projects.

It never occurred to me that I had a goggle obsession.

Then a few weeks ago I ordered a pair of “mad scientist goggles” from the Girl Genius online store. I was bringing a sixth pair of goggles into a house that only two people live in. I love my new goggles. But they came with an arch-nemesis. My arch-nemesis is apparently named “Optichox” and has a secret base in an obsidian pyramid in downtown Munich. His? Her? nefarious plan is to tear asunder the dimensional barriers and allow QUOHOGG, a friendly and entirely benevolent 8th dimensional intelligence, free access to our world. Optichox is out to get me because my research in trans-dimensional harmonics is coming rather close to uncovering proof of the existence of evil world-devouring intelligences in the 8th dimension!

Anyway, I wore my goggles all day at the amusement park on Thursday (again, mostly around my neck), and even had my caricature drawn while wearing them (check out the t-shirt I am wearing in the drawing!). Some of my students think the goggles are great, others just ask why I would want them. I think I have a thing for goggles, actually. I guess it’s a good thing that my chosen profession allows me to wear them often. And think: liking goggles is pretty harmless. I could be collecting expensive shoes or leather furniture! But it is just goggles!

I’m not a “foodie”

27 May 2008

This is not a food blog. I write about a lot of different things. But I appreciate good food and I enjoy reading food blogs such as Mac & Cheese (mostly restaurant reviews), Orangette, Just Bento (though I don’t make bento lunches) and Slashfood (which reports anything vaguely food-related). There are many more out there on the internet! I would hate to feel like I had to write about my meals every day. However, sometimes it is worth making the effort, like today.

Tonight as we ate dinner, my husband remarked “this is why we don’t eat out more often.” I had to agree. We had a very yummy dinner. It started with an e-mail this rainy morning: let’s have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Garlic bread. Salad. There was a shopping list.

I got home finally with the groceries at around 5 PM. We sprang into action. Me: hard boil eggs (I use Julia Child‘s method , below). Him: chop onion and red pepper, open cans of tomato products. He makes a yummy tomato sauce, a recipe that as far as I know he created. He added some Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs this time. Then he started on the garlic bread, combining buttery spread with garlic and spices. This was slathered on two halves of a French bread loaf, and awaited the oven. I took some of the remaining bread and cubed it, melted some butter with more garlic and herbs in the microwave, and combined them in a bowl. I put my croutons in the oven and he started water for pasta. A little while later, the garlic bread went in the oven, spaghetti went in the pot, and I washed some of our CSA romaine.

Not too long after, we sat down to a delicious dinner. Simple ingredients, not that expensive, and (another of his comments) the doggie bag is huge! We’ll be able to eat the entire same dinner again tomorrow! Plus, it really didn’t take that long to make.

Here’s the salad. I’m calling it “Not Caesar Salad.” First of all, while it has romaine lettuce and croutons, I added cucumber. The salad dressing is “vegan Caesar” which means it isn’t Caesar at all, since there are no eggs and no parmesan in it (much less anchovy). We made up for the egg and parmesan by adding the hard boiled egg and freshly grated parmesan ourselves. The croutons came out fabulous. I might make croutons every week from now on, they are so easy.

Here is how Julia Child said to hard-boil eggs in The Way to Cook:

Use a pot that is tall rather than wide. Place the eggs in the pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil quickly and then remove the pot from the heat for 17 minutes. Remove the eggs and place in ice water for two minutes. Meanwhile, turn the heat back on under your pot. After two minutes in the ice water, return the eggs to the boiling water for 10 seconds, then put them back in the ice water. After a few minutes (up to 20) you can peel them easily. She says to peel all of them for storage, but I store them in the shells. Don’t do more than a dozen at once.

I love to read – part 2

25 May 2008

There was a time in my life, from middle school through college, when I rarely read a non-fiction book for pleasure.  As a younger kid, I read many non-fiction books, about astronomy, archaeology and ancient history, dinosaurs, and other science-y topics.  I loved them.  But there was perhaps a dearth of such books aimed at 13- to 20-year-olds (or I had read them at an earlier age), or I really needed an escape in those turbulent and emotional teenage years.  Whatever the reason, I immersed myself in fiction whenever I could.  Nowadays, I am more receptive to non-fiction.  Here are some recommendations:

The first adult-level non-fiction book that was not assigned reading for a college course and which made a big impression on me (as in “Wow!  What a GREAT book!”) was Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, by Elizabeth Wayland Barber.  This book about the history of textiles and women in society opened my eyes to things I never knew and is very engaging and accessible to the layperson.  While it may seem obvious to some that women would be interested in clothing, this book is not about fashion but the culture, meaning, and creation of cloth for fashion and decoration, from the paleolithic through ancient Greek and Egyptian times.  Barber starts with the earliest known textiles, of which there may be no evidence other than in ancient carvings or paintings.  I loved this book, and I finished it quickly!

Another great book from a similar time in my life is A Scientist in the City, by James Trefil.  I read this on an airplne to Chicago for an education conference when I was still new to teaching.  I read this book without particular expectations, and I loved it.  I love cities, and I was fascinated by the complexity of the systems that make cities possible.  I was also impressed by the accessibility of this book.  You do not have to be a scientist to enjoy it, only interested.  Well, it helps to have some high school education.  I have passed this book along to high school students, only to have them keep it for months, because after they read it, their mom has to read it, and their brother, and it takes a while before I get my copy back!

In a completely different vein is The Cartoon History of Time by Kate Charlesworth and John Gribbin.  Is there a name for non-fiction graphic novels?  Because this is one.  Dramatically different from Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon Guide to Physics, The Cartoon History of Time is very short (only 64 pages), very colorful, and is hosted by Junior Chicken and Alexis the ‘Quantum’ cat.  Starting with the laws of thermodynamics and explaining quantum theory, cosmology and relativity on the way, this is a fun and humorous look at exactly what the title says: the history of time.  Along the way, famous physicists are introduced and pop culture references abound.  While I love this book as well, I rarely find another person who loves it as much as I do, in fact most people I mention it to seem never to have heard of it.  However, I found another person in that situation, Lucy Lyall who is the creator of the webcomic Kaspall not only knows this book well but her whole family loves it—and yet, most people she knows/meets have never heard of it when she describes it as an inspiration for becoming a comic artist!

This winter I finished reading a book I spent at least two years reading: The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins.  Dawkins is a most excellent writer.  I love his precise and elegant sentences and the way he explains the more obscure vocabulary words that are specific to genetics and biology.  One of the best things about this book is that it is broken into small pieces, of only a few pages each.  Though the whole book (not including the notes and bibliography) is 614 pages, I could read three pages before falling asleep, feel like I had learned something, and not have difficulty picking it up again a week later.  I learned a LOT from this book.  Evolution is a topic I understand, but I am far from being an expert in it.  Dawkins helped me understand better where the evidence comes from and how we can trace the changes back to the origins of life on Earth.

While I was already reading The Ancestor’s Tale bit by bit, my husband returned from a trip with a book he’d picked up at the airport for airplane reading: Lynne Truss‘s Eats, Shoots & Leaves.  A charming book that appeals to those of us who are well-educated and enjoy good usage of Standard English, our copy comes with a “Punctuation Repair Kit” featuring sticky-backed apostrophes/commas to be placed appropriately when needed.  What is missing is the jumbo bottle of correction fluid for removing unnecessary quotation marks!  Interestingly, I still remember vividly the first time I heard that joke about the panda, told to me by my friend Line.

A panda walks into a bar,and orders a sandwich.  The waiter doesn’t blink an eye, and goes ahead and brings the panda the sandwich.  The panda sits and eats the sandwich, then when the waiter brings the check the panda pulls out a gun and shoots the waiter!  Then the panda starts towards the door.  The bartender who witnessed the scene from behind the bar leaps out and chases after the panda, yelling “What do you think you’re doing!  Why did you shoot the waiter?  He didn’t do anything to you!”  The panda turns and says to the bartender “I’m a panda.  Look it up.”  Then the panda continues on his way.  So the bartender goes back to the bar where he keeps his handy  encyclopedia, opens the book to the entry on pandas, and reads “Panda: a black and white bear native to China.  Eats, shoots and leaves.”

About six years ago I picked up Mark Kurlansky‘s tome Salt: a World History from the library, and read it while waiting for vacuums to form in various machinery I was using during my summer doing carbon nanotube research at the University of Pennsylvania.  Nearly every day I was evaporating metal onto a substrate to test electrodes, or putting my electrodes in a vacuum oven to test their durability under high heat and low oxygen.  When you need extreme vacuum, you have to wait awhile to get the air pressure low enough.  That gives plenty of time to read, which is good because Salt is a thick book.  However, it is fascinating!  When you look at history through the supply of salt available in various locations at various times, it is amazing how much influence such a simple and abundant compound has had.  I liked this book so much I gave a copy to friends as a Christmas present!  Now, since it is a holiday weekend, I am reading Kurlansky’s much slimmer volume Cod.

If you have a chance, try out one of these books!  If you think there are books I’d like based on what I’ve said about these books, I’d love to hear about them.  Summer library season is right around the corner!

Worms

24 May 2008

Last summer we bought a worm bin and have been adding kitchen scraps to it on and off. We keep the bin in our basement, and it has produced a tray of dark, earthy-smelling, nutrient-rich soil. I think it is amazing that we could plop a couple thousand redworms into some coconut fibers, add the bits we cut off beans and broccoli and other scraps, and wind up with this glorious material!

Below is a picture of the former vegetable waste, with some eggshells mixed in. We should probably crush our eggshells more before adding them, but I don’t mind seeing them in there.  I wish you could smell through the computer screen—this stuff smells like great potting soil!

Our bin is round and less than two feet in diameter. Still, it wouldn’t really fit in the kitchen, and it isn’t very pretty. True to the blurbs in catalogs, it doesn’t smell bad and doesn’t breed flies. We got it in part because going down to the basement is easier than going out to the compost pile in the back yard, especially in winter or in pouring rain. Also, there are poison ivy plants near our backyard bin (they weren’t there when I first constructed the bin, or I wouldn’t have put it where it is) and I do not want any poison ivy on me, thank you very much.

I highly recommend having a worm bin if you don’t have room for a compost pile. We take out our garbage only once a week most weeks, though our neighborhood has two collection days every week. We’re looking forward to adding the castings to our potted plants (I have to do a bunch of repotting this summer) and we’ll continue watering our plants sometimes with the liquid “tea” that collects at the bottom of our bin (there is a handy tap for getting that liquid out). When we get a whole tray full of castings, we can mix it into the soil in the rose bed. Also, I can sell you some bait if you want to go fishing!

Leftovers

15 May 2008

Tonight was leftovers night.  I was very excited.  Leftover macaroni and cheese, my favorite since childhood.  Not the blue-box type, but made with homemade sauce started with a butter and flour roux.  Add warmed milk and thicken slowly over medium-low heat.  Then add extra-sharp cheddar and stir until it melts in.  Pour over cooked macaroni and top with crushed saltine crackers.  Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top.  mmmmMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I had some leftover green beans and leftover potatoes, and I cut those into bite-sized pieces and added them, with a sliced radish, to some leftover baby lettuce from last week’s CSA share.  Balsamic vinaigrette topped off my salad.

No leftovers for dessert.  Just a fresh strawberry or two, from this week’s CSA share.  There weren’t very many, but these are fresh, local, red-all-the-way-through, super sweet strawberries.

Win-Win-Win-Win

15 May 2008

Have I mentioned I teach high school?  Oh yes, I have.  This is the time of year when numerous people ask “how much longer?”  I never count down days until June, but June is indeed very soon.  We always end mid-to-late June, about the third week.  Yes, I know colleges are out.  No, we do not end unusually late.  Our school year starts after Labor day and by law must include 180 student days.  My own high school graduation was in the last week of June, much later than graduation at the school I currently teach in.

Anyway, that’s not what this post is about.

My AP class took their exam on Monday afternoon.  That means we have time before the end of the year with no set curriculum.  We have done all the topics we were supposed to do.  So now what?

I always let my classes have some say in what happens post-exam.  I offer the opportunities to learn about special and general relativity, or quantum mechanics, or more advanced electronics.  I offer possible projects.  Kids make suggestions.  Last year one group made a trebuchet and the rest of the students added amplifiers to the construction-paper speakers we’d already built. We used LM-386 op-amps in the amplifier circuit, and enclosed the speakers in cardboard boxes, including an on/off switch, power-indicating LED, and an input jack for attaching a portable music player.

This year all 12 students agreed on making a Rube Goldberg machine.  We watched the Peter Fischli and David Weiss movie Der Lauf Der Dinge (The Way Things Go) earlier this year.  On Tuesday we looked at some videos on YouTube such as this one.  Then we took over a rarely-used classroom and started rearranging the tables and planning a path for energy transfers to take place, eventually to result in stapling two papers together.

Among the supplies I have provided are ping-pong balls, plastic slinkies, 6-volt lantern batteries, old CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs, clothes hangers, wire, string, and a couple of boxes of pneumatic cylinders and connectors.  And a moderate reel of flexible clear plastic tubing.

I am thrilled to be watching my students explore, create, and build.  One student took over the pneumatic equipment, making intricate air-filled “circuits” that move pistons in complex ways.  Some are planning trains and dominoes.  Others have made a switch from an extending slinky and some aluminum foil, turning on a fan to blow a ball up a ramp and onto another electrical switch.  Pulleys have been hung and at least two bowling balls will be involved.  Yes, we are taking pictures, and there will be video.

My students are stretching their minds and learning, plus they are having a great time, I am having fun watching, and I don’t have to plan any more lessons for that class.  The less guidance I give, the better!  Well, except for the occasional “no, that is too dangerous” or “no, you may not damage the furniture or cabinetry.”

Win-win-win-win.

Gourmet

11 May 2008

It is CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season finally, and on Thursday we received our first 2008 share of organic vegetables from Lancaster Farm Fresh: baby salad greens, spinach, radishes, mushrooms, and asparagus. We are splitting the share with another family, and we gave up romaine (there was only one head in the share) but gained the full complement of asparagus in exchange. The large quantity of salad greens means we are eating salad with every dinner, because we will almost assuredly get more salad greens next week. Fruit shares start later this month…I’m hoping for strawberries! I’m also very much looking forward to a succession of peaches, watermelons, and finally apples at the end of the season. Last year we enjoyed new potatoes, an abundance of heirloom tomatoes, and more fresh corn than we could eat, and we are hoping for an equally abundant season this year!

Cooking with local food feels virtuous and tastes delicious. The shorter the distance the food travels from farm to table, the lower the carbon emissions from the transport and the fresher (and yummier) the food. So what are we cooking up with our bounty?

Friday night we had Jeanne Lemlin’s Fettucine with Asparagus in Lemon Cream Sauce (from her book Quick Vegetarian Pleasures) and a side salad. Tonight we are planning to make calzones with spinach and mushrooms, and a side salad.

But it is this morning’s breakfast that is referred to in the title. Recipe details follow.

Yesterday my wonderful husband made a batch of English muffins. I split one and toasted it. I spread both halves with herb butter, placed a layer of chopped French breakfast radishes on that, and added some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then I topped each half with a fried egg, cooked sunny-side up but placed upside-down on the muffin halves, with the yolk broken and running over the radishes. A little more salt and pepper, and I was ready to dig in.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm.

It was not pretty enough to take a photo, but I wish I could give you taste-o-vision over the internet. If I had a restaurant this would be on the brunch menu.

English muffins

1 pkg active dry yeast
1.5 cups lukewarm water
2 tbs sugar
4 cups flour
0.5 cup dry milk powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tbs soft butter or margarine
1.5 tsp salt
white cornmeal

Dissolve yeast in half a cup of lukewarm water. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup water, sugar, 2 cups of flour, and milk powder. Add yeast mixture and beat well. Add egg, butter, salt, and 1 cup flour. Stir until the dough cleans the bowl. Spread the remaining flour on a board, turn out the dough onto it, and knead for 10 minutes. Return the dough to a greased bowl and let rise until doubled.

Turn out the dough on the floured board and pat out to almost the desired thickness. Sprinkile well with cornmeal and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut carefully with sharp cutter. Put on sheets of waxed paper sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled.

Bake on an ungreased griddle with temperature a little lower than that used for pancakes, 7 to 8 minutes for browning each side.

Herb butter (adapted from Guy Clark at Fork & Knife)

1/2 pkg cream cheese or neufchâtel cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 clove garlic, put through a garlic press
fresh chives, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped
(you may substitute whatever herbs you have available—these were what I have growing on the deck currently)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Let cream cheese and butter come to room temperature. Add all remaining ingredients and combine with fork. Pack into a ramekin or custard cup and refrigerate until firm.

Evidence of Global Warming?

7 May 2008

Eating dinner this evening, we heard buzzing in the kitchen. We joked, that must be one heck of a big bug. Maybe its a giant bee, my husband said. Then we got up and looked into the kitchen. It WAS a giant bee!

My brave husband caught it in a plastic box, so we could take it outdoors. On close inspection, it LOOKS like a cicada killer (which rarely sting humans, so we didn’t need to be afraid of it). But according to sources on the internet, cicada killers typically emerge in mid- to late July. So either it’s a really early cicada killer, or it is something else…

Any ideas, friends?

UPDATE: It is a European Hornet, a new female looking for a place to build her nest.  We hope she is doing that in a nice tree somewhere and not attached to our house.

I’m sure this has happened to you

5 May 2008

UPDATE: This evening we got a very nice phone call from the head of tech support from the company discussed in this post. They found this blog entry and were embarrassed that one of their tech support people had sent out the letter quoted below. They do not, in fact, recommend that I reformat my hard drive, and they expect the problem to be solved very soon. I appreciate that Apple caught them by surprise with the Java update, and the timing was unfortunate that it happened several days before my last teleconference. It is good to see that companies are paying attention to “the interwebs” and responding. I have read that Comcast also searches blog posts for complaints.

The letter below is still, however, hilarious.

Last night I was supposed to have my last teleconference with my online graduate course. I tried to log in as usual a little before 8 PM. Nothing happened. After trying again and failing again, I called the professor, who suggested I call tech support. I spent most of the hour with tech support and was not able to fix the problem. The nice tech support guy said he would elevate my problem to “level two” and I would get an e-mail.

I got the e-mail today. Here it is:

We have marked your issue as solved. You can find all the details to your ticket here by following the link below.
If you feel your issue was not solved or incorrectly marked as solved, please reopen your ticket and include any details you feel are necessary.
Thank you for using Elluminate Live!

Hello [teawithbuzz],

Below is some information on the recent release of the J2SE6 Java version that MAC/Apple released last week. Unfortunately, since you have installed this update already, yes, there will be some complications with the use of Elluminate due to that update.

Because of Apple’s new Java version not allowing the user to revert back to the previous version (unlike a windows operating system and Java version), we have found that the only way to revert back to the previous version, is to reformat your MAC/apple and once that is done, to NOT install the J2SE6 Java version.

We understand your frustration, as reformatting computers is not always easy. We are currently working with Apple in creating a resolution for this issue. Please remember to perform a backup of any information you deem important, or that you require (email files, pictures, documents, contacts, etc..) before reformatting your computer.

Regards,

[name omitted]

Technical Services Specialist – Tier II
Elluminate, Inc.

Apple has just released a new version of Java: J2SE6 for Mac OS X 10.5.

The J2SE6 release is currently incompatible with Elluminate Live! We have notified Apple of the issue and are investigating potential work around options.

This update is not mandatory and we strongly recommend against installing it at this time. Unfortunately there is no easy way to un-install J2SE6 once installed.

I have edited this letter slightly from the original, but the part in bold was in bold in the letter they sent. My husband’s response was “That’s hilarious.” My problem is solved, as far as the Elluminate tech support people are concerned. I just have to completely reformat my computer.

[You should be laughing now. It really is hilarious. Of course I’m not doing it.]

I wish more Sundays were like this one

4 May 2008

I really enjoy Sundays like today.  I caught the “early” commuter train to the city at 9:33 AM.  I put my headphones on and listened to the podcast of NPR’s On the Media, and graded some papers on the train.  Upon arriving, I bought a cup of tea and a scone from Au Bon Pain and found a quiet table where I could grade more papers.

When I finished my tea, I walked to church.  I haven’t been to church in months, and I’ve missed it!  Today’s sermon was taken from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Our guest speaker, Reverend Chester McCall, spoke at times as himself and at times as King, applying King’s words to our modern times.  We were encouraged to call out “amen!” and “preach it!” which some of us were better at than others of us.  I am not much of a noisemaker at church, myself.

When it comes to King’s words, I always get choked up by that bit about

“He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

That quote is from a speech he gave the day before he was assassinated, so you may have heard it recently as the 20th anniversary of that tragic day was last month.

I was also very glad to see good friends at church, and to give my opinions on our church financial situation to the president of the congregation.  I used to be on the finance committee, and I definitely have opinions about how we should be managing our budget!  Happily, several other members share my opinions and also spoke up, so I have some hope that together, we may have some influence on the final decision that is made by the board and the minister.

The weather today is very lovely: partly sunny and pleasantly warm.  I enjoyed my walk back to the train station and spent my return ride staring out the window listening to a Selected Shorts podcast instead of grading more papers.  Oh well, I have time this afternoon, along with finishing the laundry, studying for my final exam for my NCSU physics course, and planning the next week of lessons.  Yes! I WILL get it done!