Mini-break!

Last weekend, we had a big snowstorm.  Maybe you heard about it.  Maybe you were in it.  Maybe you listened to the NPR reporters going on and on about it, heard about the government shutdown, and thought, “what, for a little snow? What wimps!”

Anyway, by the time it was all over, we had about 20 inches (51 cm) at our house, but the airport reported 28.5 inches (72.4 cm).  Happily, the neighbors used their snowblower to clear our sidewalk, but since my husband was at his graduate classes on Friday and Saturday, I had to shovel the snowplow leavings from the end of the driveway on my own.  Then, due to the local transit system shutting down, I had to go drive into the city to get him, which was fine, since I know how to drive in the snow and hardly anybody else was on the roads.  I took it slow and steady, and even without 4-wheel drive, I easily made it.

So then it snowed again Tuesday night and all day Wednesday, and I didn’t measure this time since it is harder to measure when you already have snow.  The airport recorded an additional 14 inches (36 cm) but here it was enough to top off our compacted-and-sunken snow cover back up to about two feet (61 cm).  And this was heavy, wet snow, since the forecast of temperatures in the teens (Fahrenheit) had been completely wrong.  The temperature hovered around the freezing mark, and some of the precipitation was in fact sleet and freezing rain at times.  YUCK!  Happily, both my school and my husband’s work were closed today so we could shovel out together.  I have the added bonus of no school tomorrow either, for some reason, so I won’t be going back to school until Tuesday, since Monday is a federal holiday.  So I am in the midst of a 6-day weekend!

You might wonder why I have not been spending all my free time writing blog posts for you to read.  Two reasons.  Number one, I actually had class for my AP Physics students yesterday and today, via “Elluminate.”  They are the same company who once upon a time told me I had to re-format my computer.  No problems this time, though, and I was able to teach all about how to determine the electric field from a dipole (along a bisecting axis) and a line of charge and a ring of charge and from a disk of charge. All of this required advance preparation, including some complex equations that I typed into Word’s equation editor ahead of time.  I have been told that it might be easier to do my equation in LaTeX, but I have never had the patience to figure that out.

The other reason?  Reading.  On facebook a couple of weeks ago, a cousin had mentioned Diana Gabaldon’s latest, and I hadn’t realized it had been published last year, so I got it from the library.  If you are not familiar with Diana Gabaldon, she writes time travel romances.  An Echo in the Bone is her seventh novel  (all are 700+ pages) about the adventures of Claire, a twentieth-century-born physician, and Jamie, her 18th-century Scottish highlander husband, and their family.  There are several goings back-and-forth between the 18th and 20th centuries, lots of historical figures (An Echo in the Bone features my ancestor Joseph Brant, as well as Benedict Arnold, Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, and major revolutionary war figures in Saratoga), and lots of sex.

Upon finishing An Echo in the Bone, I immediately started in on Connie Willis’s latest book, which arrived from Amazon.com last week.  Blackout is another time travel novel, featuring Oxford University historians studying World War II.  Connie Willis first introduced the history department of Oxford University, and its head of time travel James Dunworthy, in her short story Fire Watch in 1982.  Dunworthy is a major character in Willis’s novel Doomsday Book, in which a minor character from Fire Watch does her history practicum in the Middle Ages while Oxford suffers from an influenza epidemic.  Dunworthy appears again in the comic novel To Say Nothing of the Dog.  That one takes the historians to the Victorian era.  In Blackout, Willis returns to her favorite era and location: World War II Britain, and reintroduces one of the characters from Doomsday Book, Colin Templer, now seventeen years old.  Unfortunately, Blackout is only part I of two books, and the second half of the story, All Clear, is not due to be published until fall!

So there you go.  I have been keeping busy.  I have a bunch of tests yet to grade, that I gave on Tuesday, and I have some more work to do for my AP class (I want to send them some notes via e-mail, since we won’t be teleconferencing again tomorrow), and I am sure I can find plenty of other ways to continue to keep busy.  I have two netflix movies to watch, for example.  And I have some sewing projects to do.  And four more days before having to be back at school!

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