Monday, August 10, 2009


Someone told me the other day that professors have very high levels of job satisfaction. I wonder what time of year they were asked to report. I like what I do, but I'm guessing if they asked them in, oh, July, job satisfaction was way up.

I like having two months off.

I could get used to this whole jet-setting thing, though it's coming to an end. I left for Panama hearing word of JetAmerica's incredibly cheap flights to mid-sized cities, like nearby Minneapolis and home-town Hartford. I return, full of hope and longings for home, to find out the airline went belly-up before it started. Which isn't surprising. But it is unfortunate. Particularly when you think "I'll just pop over to see my parents for the weekend," and then you look at airline prices. Oh yeah. That's why people work. Income.

My contract period starts two weeks from today. Already I'm in this weird state where I'm still on vacation but I'm coming to remember what school entails. And the other day, I found myself looking fondly toward fall weather and fresh apples...and a regular schedule. It is amazing how having four seasons always keeps you looking hopefully toward the future, even when it entails going back to work.

(But not yet.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Now Featuring (More) Pictures!

Please follow this link to see my pictures from Panama. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

around the world

I'm finally getting around to reading Laurence Bergreen's fabulous book Over the Edge of the World, about Ferdinand Magellan's around-the-world voyage from 1519-1521 (drawing of his flagship Victoria above). Appropriate reading after a month in the country whose canal makes global shipping possible. I can hardly imagine what it would have been like: sailing beyond the limits of your maps, beyond where anyone you've ever heard of has gone before, when everything you've heard says that only sea monsters, cannibals, and the edge of the world awaits. Every time a storm hit, and there were many that hit as they neared the Antarctic, could have been simply a storm or the end of the world. Can you imagine running into an elephant seal for the first time? Given that my flight home from Panama was accomplished in a day and required nothing from me (get on, buckle up, fall asleep, watch this movie, have some peanuts, get off, repeat)...I can't even imagine what they went through. How this world has changed in 400 years.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back on Familiar Ground

We're back in the U.S.! After a month in Panama, it's surprising and completely pleasant to be in a place where you know exactly how things work. The customs officer greets you in English. You pick up background conversations and song lyrics without even trying. You know where to buy what you need, how much it will cost, and what's the best bang for your buck, food-wise, during the airport layover. You know where things are and how things work. This is amazingly comfortable.

Our cell phones were dead after a month of disuse (always remove the batteries from the phones if you're not using them), and we realized just how hard it is to manage a call home, or anywhere, if you can't suddenly whip a phone out of your pocket. How easy communication has become...if only you have the right gear.

We're in Michigan for another week or so, visiting Matt's family. If we can turn this visit, too, into a writer's retreat, we'll stay longer. If not, we'll have a nice visit and come back to Wisconsin sooner.