Saturday, January 31, 2009

short trip to OH

I went to Ohio on Thursday and just got back today (Saturday). No more than 5 years ago, I'm almost sure that I didn't know a soul in the whole state. Suddenly, everyone lives there.

Mom and dad-in-law don't live there, but after a short drive, there they were. We ate dinner and drove around the town together.

Professor Todd and Leigh live there. I stayed at their lovely home on Friday night. It was very nice to catch up with them.

Oh yeah, I went there for an interview at Ohio Northern University. Nice place! Did you know that the footballs used in the NFL are made in Ada, OH, home of ONU?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

observations from home

Tomorrow will mark the 3rd week of my unemployment, so it seems that now is good time to put down some thoughts about this experience.

First, I don't miss my old job. At all. This has been surprising to me because though I didn't care for it much, I certainly didn't hate it. The biggest issue for me was having zero coworkers in the traditional sense, which I take to mean people that work together. I can and do miss people, but I don't miss doing tasks in my old office.

Second, financially this report is a bit early. Due to the week delay between work done and paycheck as well as the some saved vacation time, I have more money right now than had I worked the last 3 weeks. But this state ends very soon. And I haven't had to pay for health insurance yet.

Third, I've been pretty busy. I have had one interview and will have another on Friday. Preparations for these interviews takes some time, especially for Friday's as I need to give a 30 minute presentation. Other tasks have been writing cover letters, filling out applications, and reviewing a paper for a journal. I had Staples print out the paper for me since we don't have a printer. The Staples employees said the paper looked boring and very long. Does my career field lack excitement? I found the paper to be moderately exciting but will recommend a couple significant changes. Look for it soon in Water Resources Research.

Fourth, I have taken up much more of the household chores. While working, I did dishes maybe once a week and only sometimes helped cook dinner. Now, I do most of the dishes and help with cooking most meals. By the way, another nice feature of living in a small apartment is the small number of chores to do.

I made ice cream. Maybe I used too much cream and too little milk, because it was very creamy and not so frozen.
Still, we enjoyed eating it.

Fifth, I have been doing more bicycling, but not as much as I would have expected. With temps in the 50s for the whole month of Jan, the riding weather has been fantastic. But I was sick much of last week. Still, I haven't done a ride longer than 1 1/2 hours yet.

Finally, I'm in a new-to-me-and-not-my-favorite mental state. During working life, I spent most of my time living my life -- doing my job and living my family life. Now, I spend a good deal of time imagining our lives with each prospective job/location. So my mind is several months in the future while my body remains in the present.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hannah Coulter -- Jill's take

Hannah Coulter had one great regret in her life, and that was the way she'd talked to her children about her own childhood. She was afraid that, in telling them stories of the hard times she'd endured, she'd given them the idea that hardships were to be avoided and that it was possible to "move on" to some better life. She had wanted her children to have a good education so that they could have a better chance than she'd had. Later, she learned not to complain about the chance she'd had. The chance she'd had was her life. She'd had sadness and troubles in her life, but a lot of happiness too. Hannah was afraid that her children had left home looking for a better place that they would never find.

I do not believe in "the pursuit of happiness." People who are pursuing something better are usually unhappy, because they are always comparing what they have now to what they might someday have or where they live now to where they might someday live.

I know that there is no better place than our our little piece of Albuquerque. Having biked and walked this place extensively, I know it well enough to love it. We may move, and if we do I will bike and walk that place until I love it, and then there will be no better place for me than that place.

But that will take some time because learning to love a place involves learning to love the people in the place. Here we have a "membership." We have people. I love my part of Albuquerque because I know it because I live with it. And I love my people here because I know them because I live close to them and see them often. Even the wondrous Facebook doesn't allow me to live with people that I just don't live with. There is nothing like actual proximity for growing love.

So I preach the membership like Burley Coulter did: love your place, love your people. You should know by now that your place and your people are good. Live in your place. Live with your people. Proximity is a gift from God. Don't waste it looking off into the distance.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Angels and ice cream

While riding back home from Coldstone (finally got around to using my birthday gift certificate), I noticed one of my old bikes parked at a bike rack. I sold 4 bikes in 2007 via Craigslist, and this was the first one I have seen post-sale. Very little had been changed since I sold it; same tires, same mismatched brakes (sidepull front and centerpull rear), and the angel sticker.

On a visit to Santa Fe, a woman approached me and asked if I believed in angels. I was a little caught off-guard, but answered that yes I do believe in angels. Satisfied by the answer, she gave me a 0.5 by 1 cm sticker (and one to Jill also) for protection. I stuck mine to the back side of the seat tube just below the seat stays. Jill placed hers somewhere, but I think it fell off.

I wonder if I still get the benefit of the sticker since it was given to me? Or does the new rider (or any of his friends) benefit, though he/they might not know it exists? My friend Dave thinks that it's inevitable that bike riders will get in a bike wreck some day. I disagree. I hope that I'm right.

On Saturday, I decided to join the club ride from my favorite local bike shop. In my mind, a group ride will be a fun time of cruising smoothly in a paceline, enjoying the draft of a large number of people until one takes a pull in the front. Instead, it was more of a disjointed slug of people that stopped to wait periodically for the dropped riders only to drop them again straight away. But my dream lives on!

I talked to a young man that admired my big boy blue bike. I told him that I liked his older bike frame with new components. This got him to explain that he had to replace the fork and who knows what else due to a crash. He was riding down Comanche (that's our road) perhaps using his clip-on aerobars (details are fuzzy for good reason) when a car made a left turn in front of him. He supermanned through the closed passenger window, cutting his face and breaking his back and something else (I forget).

I'm always curious to know how crashes happen, partly to not repeat them myself and partly for the same reason people slow to look at car crashes. In this particular case, I suggest that though the car driver was technically at fault, better awareness by the rider could have prevented it. Not getting hurt is much better than not being at fault. Separate turn lanes are present on Comanche for all roads, so a rider should take note whenever a car enters one. Also, riding on aerobars is not such a good idea when cars are present because the brake levers take time to grab.

Finally, I had a 70 minute phone interview this morning for a very challenging job. I feel good about my performance, but my experience does not line up perfectly with their projects. We shall see.

Hannah Coulter (Chad's take)

On the way home from my last day of working at the Lab, I stopped by our church to see if I could talk to our pastor. After listening to our newest travail, he said something to the effect of 'if I didn't empathize with you so much, I would think your situation is funny.'

And how are we taking it? As Hannah Coulter recommends, we're fine.

We were reminded of the writings of Wendell Berry by the Ten Wakes writer, and so decided to read a book over the Christmas break. Hannah Coulter is a fictional autobiography of a woman that lived a rather ordinary life in rural Kentucky in the 20th century. Very little action occurs, and the book is full of wisdom expressed in simple terms. I loved it!

The tone of the book is sad. Most of the Hannah's stories describe the loss of friends and family members and the departure of her children's generation from home. And this makes a good deal of sense because these tragedies are the big events that shape her life. Between these tragedies, day to day life consisting of farmwork and household work continues unabated. This is one of the lessons of the book: that doing our work and sharing our lives with family and friends is what we do. It is how we find our joy.

That's not how I envisioned my life going while growing up. I wanted the big things (family, job, health) to go well so I could be happy. The day to day stuff is supposed to be just filler, right? But I'm learning (maybe too often, Lord?) that big things do go wrong. My faith is challenged, but my response needs to be a resolve to plug along. Then I can always answer that we're doing just fine, and how are you?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

tender TN Christmas

We traveled to Nashville for Christmas for a visit to Jill's side of the family. Her parents, sis-in-law's sister & husband, and we all stayed at Matt & Lupita's house. Jill and I were in the office/ aquarium room. Listening to water flowing into the aquarium is quite soothing before falling asleep.

A brief aside. During our foster parent training, we heard numerous stories of awful families. Due to grace or just dumb luck (I think the former), Jill and I both landed in amazingly terrific families. Case in point, 4 families in a 3 bedroom house was a blast.

A highlight of the trip was an outing to the TN aquarium in Chattanooga. The aquarium is spread over two buildings, one had freshwater with a focus on TN creatures (there are a lot of different types of turtles) and the other had seawater with some big sharks.

Even little Enoch enjoyed watching the fish!

Jill and I took a trip to downtown Nashville. On Chrissy's (Vandy alumnus) recommendation, we visited Robert's Western World to listen to some live music. Of course there was live music at noon on New Year's Eve. It's very cool to see bunches of musicians walking around downtown with their instruments.
Did we ride bikes at all during the week? Rest assured our friends that yes we did, on Matt & Lupita's Bianchi Avenues. Their neighborhood is decent to so-so for riding. Southeast Nashville is quite hilly and the roads wind through valleys and away from streams and train tracks. The pavement is excellent, but most roads are narrow and lack a shoulder.

Ricky is looking forward to riding soon!

Happy new year!