Buried deep enough I’ve got sand in my mouth

Green, Yellow, Red
Creative Commons License photo credit: brianwallace
Three different not-in-Morris people were kind enough to ask today in one form or another if I was dead. To quote one

All OK? You’ve been soooooo quiet.

Many, many thanks for asking. It’s nice to be missed :-).

And yes, all the big things are OK, even if some of the details are a little stressful at the moment.

My wife and son are still amazing people, UMM is still home to some incredibly cool folks at all levels, and institutional corn dogs at the Student Activities Fair remain one of my favorite start-of-the-school-year rituals.

On the other hand, I’m still scrambling with some school stuff like syllabi and planning — I’m seriously crap at almost all of the mechanics of teaching, which makes my career choice unfortunate at times. (At least I like my job, though, which puts me way ahead of lots of folks.)

Computer Science at UMM is also really swamped because a search failed and we’ve got 3 faculty doing what 5 faculty (actually 6 people, two of which were half time) were doing four months ago. We canceled a couple of things, and moved a few other things around, so I think it will all work out fine, but it’s a challenge.

And on top of that, it turns out that I have arthritis in my neck that is causing my vertebrae to poke at my spinal cord in ways that express themselves annoyingly in my left arm. I got a steroid shot in my neck last week up in Fergus Falls that was (I think) helping. Unfortunately I pulled an almost-all-nighter night before last doing course prep, and may have undone much of that progress. Damn. It would be useful if I remembered that I’m no longer 18 at key moments… On the neat side, though, I’ve got the MRI images, so I have lots of cool pictures of my spine which I can give to Len Keeler‘s physics course on medical imaging. So there will be a bunch of physics students marveling at what a complete mess my back is, and getting college credit for their trouble!

So in short, everything big is all still fine. Some of the details are a pain, however, and that tends to draw energy from all the “optional” pieces of my life (blogging, Flickr, people who aren’t standing in my office door looking confused or unhappy or just glad to see me again). Hence a fair amount of Twitter, but very little that moves any closer to the paragraph form.

Sorry, and thanks for asking. Hopefully things will settle down in the next week or two. If you can’t find me in my office, I might be taking a nap on the couch in the computer science lounge.

The rowdy folks at the back of the bus

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5 Responses to Buried deep enough I’ve got sand in my mouth

  1. CoryQ says:

    I’m glad you are OK.

    Hopefully the package you should shortly be receiving in the mail will be a cheerful note in the malestrom of activites you currently face.

  2. Pisafe says:

    Swim Nic, swim! And do physical therapy, every day, as perscribed, for at least three months. Dad had a bad back, and I fought with a pinched nerve in high school. Swimming takes a load off, and the PT builds muscle and range of motion, so the nerves get a little break. Mom has arthritis, too, and when in the arthritis swim class was very pleased with how much better she felt. I hope the shots work well (I had cortizone in my foot/ankle and couldn’t believe the change) and that you are able to get your pain under control. I won’t comment on the syllabi and other teacherly stuff, I didn’t care for it either. :) Oh, and I just remembered, Jen is an ergonomics specialist for Best Buy. When she comes for a visit, would you like an office consultation? She can help you adjust your work station (both at home and at work) so that you are less likely to injure yourself through repetitive motion or poor posture etc. Cool huh?

  3. Desert Donkey says:

    Nic, Good to hear that you are surviving the little travails of life. Dont let the bastards get you down :-) LDJ

  4. While I must agree with you that you are seriously crap on many of the mechanical aspects of being a teacher…you are amazingly talented at teaching and this certainly makes up for any of the mechanical teacher duties you may be lacking in.

    I highly agree on the fact that you should start swimming. Maybe even try doing some yoga, sometimes they offer classes at the RFC… you could also get a Wii Fit and try some Nintendo Yoga. I do Nintendoga almost everyday and it makes me feel great. Also I am sure certain member of your family would thinking investing more money in video games is a sound investment.

    Maybe you could make a convincing argument to the school that you deserve one of these expensive chairs that are supposed to be good for your back. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000GIPM6I?smid=A14X2WOLPJFQSS&tag=dealtime-kitchen-20&linkCode=asn

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0006VJKFY?smid=A14X2WOLPJFQSS&tag=dealtime-office-20&linkCode=asn

    Or maybe it is time for the dungeon to invest in these: http://www.isokineticsinc.com/category/ex_ball_chairs?utm_source=Adwords&utm_medium=PPC&utm_sponsored=exercise_ball_chairs_ad&utm_campaign=exercise_ball_chairs

  5. Phi says:

    Thanks to all for the kind thoughts and suggestions!

    I have been swimming, and yesterday started my first day of yoga! Man, that was serious work – I have no upper body strength and the push-up-y things like plank and hover were pretty devastating :-). I do think (based on very limited and noisy data) that the exercise is helping my lower back problems and I’m sleeping better. It’s early days, though, so the real question is where things are in a month or two.

    Tyler: I’d totally dig a cool chair like that, and could probably talk the U into paying for one. I really wouldn’t want to spend a bunch of money (even if it was someone else’s :->) on a chair, though, if I couldn’t sit in it first, and there’s really no way to do something like that out here. I guess I could drive to the Cities and sit in chairs out there, but I can’t really see myself making that sort of effort.

    That said, my favoritest chair in the whole wide world is a 25 year old drafting chair that I bought from a catalog for about $100 in the early 80’s while I was at Reed at the strong recommendation of my friend Peter Shirley. It is a great, simple chair, and I’ve hauled it through untold moves and four states. If I could clone it I’d make a dozen and leave one everywhere I spend time.

    Weirdly, I quite like the “cheap” chairs here in the Science Building. The fancy “Captain’s” chairs are actually bad for my back (I think they’re more show than actual ergonomics), but the plain little chairs work fine. The one problem is that they’re a bit low and force me to look up a bit, especially when I’m in the CSci lab. With the new neck problems, looking up is pretty uncomfortable, so that’s not a big win, but in my office I’m fine.

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