Welcome to my commute

Imagine a mile of this:

That's steep.

followed by a mile of this:

And she's cli-i-mbing a stair-air-way to he-vuhn...

I’ve been walking somewhere between 2 and 6 miles a day, most of it either straight uphill or straight downhill.  The place I’m staying is in a very walkable area with easy access to the Commons and Wegmans on level ground.  When walking to get my groceries (either from the farmer’s market or from Wegmans), mass and volume purchased become a significant factor, and I think this has helped me keep my pantry and my menus simple and cut down on snack food.

Access is slightly less easy when it comes to Ithaca College and Cornell.  It is common wisdom in Ithaca that one does not simply walk from the Commons to Cornell (nor into Mordor, but that’s another story), and most Cornellians have a tale to tell sheepishly about the one time that they did it, and learned their lesson.  Ithaca College people, similarly, have the story about that one time that they missed the bus and had to hurry up the South Hill to make it to class.  And I had these stories, too, when I last lived in Ithaca.

But if you are in shape, know what you’re getting into, and take your time, it’s really not so bad. It’s fairly strenuous, and I’d find it a lot harder if I hadn’t been running. It’s also fairly time-consuming—but I listen to podcasts, which pass the time pleasantly, and I figure that walking this much and on these slopes provides a perfectly adequate amount of aerobic exercise, so I’m not also going running for exercise, which creates more time in my day.  It’s no surprise that the walk is significantly more pleasant when it’s under 80° than over, though even below 80° it’s pretty gross when the humidity is high.

I doubt I will find getting by walking to be as attractive when my free employee bus pass from Ithaca College starts working and/or it gets cold.  Also, it is easier to knit on the bus than while walking.  But until then, I’m hoofing it.

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Office Packing List

  1. Lab notebooks
  2. Physics Suite workbooks
  3. Tutorials in Introductory Physics
  4. Ranking Tasks workbooks
  5. Ohanian & Markert’s Physics for Scientists and Engineers, vol. 1 and 2.
  6. Phys 101 & 102 notes
  7. Lecture go-bag (macdapter, laser pointer, personal set of dry-erase markers)
  8. Circa punch, discs, and covers
  9. Schaum’s Mathematical Handbook of Formulas and Tables
  10. Overly-fancy tea kettle
  11. Tea filter
  12. Tea
  13. Tea
  14. OMG, how can I possibly have this much tea, and yet never have any Darjeeling when I want it?
  15. Meditation cushion
  16. Fountain pens and fountain pen ink
  17. 2-mm lead holders, lead, lead pointer
  18. Backup drive

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Goodreads Review: The Forbidden Circle by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Forbidden Circle (The Spell Sword The Forbidden Tower)The Forbidden Circle by Marion Zimmer Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Spell Sword, is, IMHO, extremely weak. It’s not very exciting—dreary really. The Forbidden Tower is better. I find the mechanics of “matrix work” to be very ad hoc, with a lot of problems that are solved by deus ex machina hand-waving. Overall, it’s less interesting than your average fantasy magic system, really. However, interesting parts of both works are the people and the relationships, which go through significant, interesting growth and change (moreso in The Forbidden Tower), and the relationships are complicated in interesting ways by the telepathy between the characters. I am have a telepathic premonition (okay, really, I’ve just been reading summaries)… that the dullness of the telepathy is going to plague me through the whole series, but the problem is, due to MZB’s skill in building, revealing, and evolving characters, I’m hooked. :-/

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This happens more than I’d like to admit.

Step 1) Reading Hark! A Vagrant’s Wuthering Heights series.

Step 2) Thinking, Ah, I should read Wuthering Heights someday.

Step 3) Searching for Wuthering Heights at Goodreads.

Step 4) Attempting to add Wuthering Heights to my to-read shelf.

Step 5) Discovering it is, in fact, already there.

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Disabling a pasted hyperlink in iWork Pages ’09

Don’cha just hate it when you paste some text into Pages, and it copies in hyperlinks, so that they’re all blue and underliney, and when you click anywhere in their vicinity, you pop up a stupid web browser window?

It even happens when you use Edit > Paste and match style!

And to fix them, you have to have to click and drag very precisely to highlight the hyperlink and only the hyperlink, no spaces or punctuation to either side of it, and, in the Inspector, on the Hyperlinks tab, unclick “Enable hyperlink.” Good luck highlighting exactly what you want without accidentally clicking the link!

So here’s my super-secret tip. First, Paste and match style. (If you don’t, you can disable the link, but it will still be blue and underlined if that’s how it appeared in the source.) Now, right click on the link that you want to disable. This brings up a drop-down menu, which you can ignore, and you now have your hyperlink and only the hyperlink highlighted, without any clumsy dragging and without accidentally opening the link. Unclick “Enable hyperlink,” in the Inspector as described above and you’re good to go.

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Gladiator at Law-Review

Gladiator-at-LawGladiator-at-Law by Cyril M. Kornbluth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The title (and the racy covers on some editions) might lead you to expect a little more swashbuckling than is actually present in this book. This is mainly a corporate finance thriller, with a few hard-sf elements mixed in. Apropos of the current economy, suburbia has been laid waste by a housing bubble, but then real estate world is turned on its head by… bubble houses. With some very grim consequences for society. Overall, though the book comes off as very dated. There’s lots of rapid-fire 50’s repartee and raging, obnoxious sexism and racism. Pretty much all the characters are thoroughly unlikeable.

I was really sweating as I got down to the last few pages, as no gladiatorial combat had ensued, and I was feeling very cheated. (It brought to mind the crushing letdown at the end of Make Room Make Room in which, it turns out, Soylent Green is made of… soy and lentils. But, then, rapidly and incongruously the title character and his band of misfits get dumped into the Roman-circus-like games.

Really, though, our “gladiator-at-law” doesn’t do much in the ring except pass around bribes, so, it was a bit sad.

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I have half a notion to write my own “Gladiator-at-Law” novel that fulfills my expectations from the title, followed, of course, by “Gladiator-in-Chief”, in which our hero is elected president, and “Gladiator-in-Law,” a lighter tome to finish out the trilogy, in which the hero gets married—with sexy and/or hilarious results.

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Goodreads Review: Packing for Mars

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the VoidPacking for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

I found Packing for Mars very fun and mildly informative. Great bedtime reading. Based on the title, I thought it would be more about the specific challenges of crewed flight to Mars, but instead it’s a more general discussion of the practical difficulties of human spaceflight, more heavily weighted toward the Mercury, Gemini & Apollo programs. I detected no physics/astronomy blunders. Lots of mind-boggling facts, and hearty guffaws.

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