Thursday, September 29, 2005


I am currently teaching an STS course to about 125 students, and they tend to get very passive. Yesterday I started out by tying the history I wanted to cover (early textile factories in the U.S.) to current issues (via the theme of technology and democracy). I asked them about some currents issues and got no response. I felt angry and realized I was feeling angry because of all my feelings about my father. And then I decided to use that anger, and I told my students in no uncertain terms that they had better care because these things are going to have a big impact on their lives. I think it was a useful rant--they certainly paid more attention the rest of the class period.

I will be going up to Concord tomorrow just for the weekend, with my daughter. I had a lot of things I needed to get done this week, but I have had all day today to work in my office and I have made good progress.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

things are smoothing out

My mother found a funeral director in London willing to expedite the process and she and my sisters will be flying home tomorrow evening with the ashes (in a plastic box so that security doesn't have to inspect it). My daughter and I will go up to Massachusetts Friday just for the weekend.

I turned off my alarm this morning because the night before I lay awake and so I wanted to catch up on my sleep. That didn't work, though at least I slept until almost 5 am (a lot better than 3:30) and then I got up and went running. There were many cars going to the track, probably the big army ROTC group. So I decided to run on the road instead--part of it has a huge shoulder and part is a dead-end road to the sewage treatment plant so it is fairly safe running in the dark. It was lovely--the stars were bright and the dead end part of the road runs on top of the dike along the lake. I felt strong running up the gentle hills and fast running down and the temperature was perfect.

Monday, September 26, 2005

my father

shocking news

I learned a couple of hours ago that my (step)father died suddenly of a massive stroke this morning. I'm still in shock, not feeling anything clear yet. What happens next isn't going to be known for a while--my parents were getting ready to board a plane in London to come home from a trip. At least one of my sisters is going to London tonight.

Update: My mother called my sister this morning and said he was dead, but that turns out to have been premature. When they took him off the ventilator he didn't immediately die (as the doctor had predicted). Apparently it is just a matter of hours while the blood seeps down into the brain stem.

Further update: He died peacefully about 8:15 pm eastern U.S. time, one in the morning there.

Friday, September 23, 2005


There was a small group of ROTCers on the track this morning, probably Air Force or Marines. They were being trained in mindless obedience. At one point they jogged around the track several times chanting "Die for freedom, Die for liberty." I ran my 2 1/2 miles faster than usual.

For something completely different see: the giant pink bunny.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


and more here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I have such a hard time feeling the pattern of forgiveness--I didn't grow up with it. I was trying today to work with child feelings, with me as an older child who blamed me as a younger child for wanting the abuse. On one level I can understand it wasn't my fault, it is never the fault of a child. But there were things I did to provoke it, not knowing any better, and I thought maybe it would be more helpful to try to work with the idea of forgiving. The trouble is, it is just so hard to grasp that idea that one can say what I did sometimes made it worse but it can be forgiven, I am still deserving of love. I said I could feel that maybe 20%.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Second place in my age group!!

Actually there were only two women in my age group, but I'm still proud of my hat (which is embroidered with "age group 2nd place" on the back) and I had a good race. This was the Hartsville Sprint: swim 750 meters, bike 14 miles (actually 15.5 miles), run 5 K. My total time was a few seconds under 2 hours 5 min. Times on my watch were 22:39 swim, 1:00:44 bike, 36.41 run. In my first triathlon in May the swim and run distances were the same (bike was shorter) and my times were swim 25:02 and run 40:27.

Considering I got injured in July and spent half of August not able to swim, bike, or run, I'm very happy with that. Only in the last two weeks have I been able to swim freestyle without my shoulder hurting. I had requested my money back for this race back in July but when a friend contacted me last week and said she saw my name on the participant list I decided to do it after all (my cancellation hadn't been processed).

My son was home for the weekend, so my daughter and I had an early dinner at home and then hit the road. The only trouble was that I had misguessed the scale of the map showing where the race was and what I thought would be about a two hour and 15 minute drive took three hours, plus we learned it would take us at least half an hour to get from our motel to the race site in the morning.

We got up at 5:15 and got to the race site in good time, in fact it was still completely dark. I picked up my packet and my chip then unloaded my bike and started to set up in transition. No running shoes in my transition backpack! I went back to the car, hoping they had fallen out. No. I've driven all this way and gotten up at 5:15 on a Sunday morning and now what? I know I packed them, but I must have taken them out to pack something else and not put them back in. I began to contemplate whether it would work to run in the custom-orthotic sandals I was wearing. Then my daughter suggested I wear the shoes she was wearing. She wears a full size bigger than me, but my running shoes are larger than my regular shoes. I had recently bought her running shoes with a lot of arch support so I thought that might work, but it was nowhere near enough arch support for me. She suggested I add the arch supports I use in my bicycling shoes, and amazingly enough that worked very well.

We had planned a picnic breakfast, but by that point it was hard to think about eating. Still, I did eat grapes and cheese and a cracker with peanut butter (and then a banana just before the start). I went back to transition and put my eyeglasses in my helmet and put on my prescription goggles, and then we headed to the beach for announcements. There was both an international distance and a sprint distance race. For the bike, the international distance race was twice around the sprint loop (after an out and back section). They announced the international distance route was 27 miles instead of 25 as had been posted (I just checked the sprint route on Google Pedometer and got 15.5 miles).

As of two days before the race there were 90 registered for the sprint and 116 for the international distance so it wasn't a big race. I didn't go in the water before the swim, but the international distance waves went off first so watching them I realized the water stayed shallow for a long time. When my wave started I ended up running fairly far out--I watched the people around me who started swimming and I was keeping up with them. But then I was out of breath when I started to swim and it took me a while to settle down. The water was amazingly black and murky, except every now and then I could see a can on the bottom. When I finally settled down I had a comfortable swim and even passed someone.

I got happily onto my bike, but it seemed like the first five miles was all uphill, though not steep. With a fair number of international distance people finishing the swim behind me I probably passed and was passed about equally. I realized it was much hotter than I expected and one water bottle wasn't going to be enough, so I was very grateful that because of the international distance there was a water bottle handoff. I felt I kept up my level of effort, but I haven't gotten back to working on my speed on the bike.

My rack was near the edge of the transition area and my daughter talked me through the second transition to make sure I didn't forget to change the orthotics from one pair of shoes to the other or to put on my race belt. I did forget to take an electrolyte capsule, which I usually do if I drink two bottles of water. The run was gently uphill for the first mile and it felt really hard. I walked the water station. There was a downhill and then a steeper uphill to the turnaround, which I walked. But then suddenly it felt easy and I enjoyed running, though I did walk one more hill. On the first downhill on the way back I told everyone I passed who was behind me in the sprint that it felt much easier after the turn around. I pushed to catch up with a friend I saw ahead of me, but it wasn't easy to gain ground on her. We did talk as we ran for a little while and then I moved ahead a little. I ran the last bit to the finish enthusiastically, though I was a little disappointed I hadn't broken two hours (less so now when I adjust for the different length bike course--1 hour for 15.5 miles is about the same as 43 minutes for 11 miles).

My daughter and I decided to wait around for the awards and I was glad we did--I was excited about getting an age group award and my friend left after the race so I picked up her second place Athena hat for her. But it was terribly hot--the high today in that area was 96.6. We had a long drive home but it was good to be in an air conditioned car.

Official results:
overall time 2:04:56
23rd out of 28 women and ahead of 5 men
Swim 750 meters 22.14
T1 3:33
Bike 15 miles 1:00:46
T2 2:22
Run 5 K 36:02

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Christ School

My son is at Christ School, in Arden NC. The school does not bill itself as specializing in learning disabilities, but we picked it because it has a good support program. Thursday I got an email from a teacher, a weekly report, that said my son had not turned in his rough draft of his first major paper and should go talk to the teacher about it Friday because the paper is due Monday. Other reports show some missing homework. I told my son he needed to talk to the teacher before he came home for the weekend, and I alerted my son's advisor that I had done so. The advisor saw my son at 7:45 am and told him to go talk to the English teacher during extra help time at 8. He didn't. Meanwhile I contacted the learning resource teacher to ask if it would be a good idea to sign my son up for supervised study hall in the evenings, and he said yes, so I contacted the director of the learning resource program and signed my son up, starting Sunday. By the time my son got to his weekly meeting with his advisor Friday afternoon he was signed up for supervised study hall and mandatory extra help, and the advisor had made an appointment and walked him to meet with the English teacher then and there.

I am very relieved that the support my son needs is there, even his advisor walking him to an appointment with the English teacher. My son said he was "a little bit mad" at us when this all hit him, but I promised him when his grades are all B or above he won't have to do supervised study hall any more, and I pointed out that the mandatory extra help was the consequence of not going to see the English teacher when told to do so (by the teacher and his advisor). And all of this happened before the paper was actually due. I said to someone that I wanted a school where my son would get a second chance, and they immediately became worried that I thought my son would get into serious trouble. But that wasn't what I meant, this is what I meant. Not ending up hopelessly in a hole with his grades if he messes up.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


My hip that was bothering me is definitely getting better, and my shoulder is better, I can now breathe to both sides when I swim freestyle. So I'm psyched for the Hartsville Sprint Triathlon early this Sunday morning. I had cancelled out of this race in July, only they never processed my cancellation. I looked for a sprint distance race later in the fall, but I couldn't find one in reasonable driving distance. So when a friend said she had seen my name still listed, I decided to do it. I'm not expecting to be faster than in May--I'm too recently back to full training after my injury. But it will be fun! I will try to remember that while I get ready for a church class tonight.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

many directions

I'm busy with STS and professional society business. But beneath that I wonder where I am going. I can't imagine that I can continue to expand in all directions equally. But which one? Last week I was talking about this with my husband and came up with a list of where I might put my additional energy as we move towards an empty nest and as my physical and internal healing gives me more energy. Over the next several years I could:
  • train for an ironman triathlon
  • focus on my spiritual life and expand my calling as a spiritual director
  • put my energy into doing much more with my scholarly research
  • expand what I am doing with Science, Technology and Society

Today for the second time I had a stranger call me looking for a spiritual director, and the conversation went well. I'm so happy to be back to my full training that I decided to do a sprint triathlon this upcoming weekend after all--I had cancelled out in July but they hadn't processed my cancellation. I'm really getting close to finishing the last research project and I'm excited about the next one. Doors continue to open for expanding STS at Clemson. So far I feel called to do it all.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


I woke up this morning a little earlier than I wanted to, and realized after a while that "I want to run" was running around and around in my head. That seemed a little bizarre even to me, but I decided to listen. I usually run Mon. Wed. Fri, but I decided to go ahead and run Sunday instead of Monday. It was a lovely morning, but my hip does hurt more now. I had this problem when I first started and I kept going slowly and it slowly went away. It came back a couple of weeks ago when I tried picking up my feet more when I run. I've stopped doing that and I got my new orthotics and I'm putting ice on it and trusting it will go away.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ride Report: Tour de Paws

I did a 40 mile ride last weekend, the first ride over 30 miles I've done since mid-June. So signing up to do a rolling 61 mile ride today was pushing myself, and I had no goal to go fast. My riding partner and I decided to get an early start while it was still cool and we got off about 8:15. The peloton didn't pass us until after the first rest stop. The ride was extremely well organized--mostly lightly traveled roads and good rest stops and sag. We started and ended at a church that was open with bathrooms, etc.

The first 20 miles seemed easy, the second section was harder (and with one particularly steep hill). My riding partner started to have bad cramps in his legs and turned back after leaving the second rest stop. But after riding the sag wagon to the third rest stop he got back on his bike. I rode on when he stopped because of cramps again, but after pushing his bike up that hill he was able to ride the last 10 miles. He was having cramps in several different places in his legs so it may have been an electrolyte issue--I gave him a couple of succeed capsules, which I take when I ride long in hot weather. I started after reading the stories of the marathoners who were dangerously low on electrolytes--the newspaper coverage tended to say they drank too much water but the other side of that is not taking in enough sodium. It is hard to drink too much water--someone in a running group did a weight test recently and found he was losing a pound of water for every 20 minutes he ran.

The last 10 miles there were a couple of sections where I was hot and my back was sore and I wasn't enjoying myself. But then I would cheer up again when there was something interesting to see. I passed a big plant compressing natural gas and an apple orchard with branches so loaded with apples they were bent to the ground and I was passed twice by a tractor with a disk plow (uphill--I was as fast as he was downhill). After the ride I ate hot dogs without buns and tiny amounts of baked beans and chips and my blood glucose still went a little high--I don't have that post-exercise carb uptake that other people write about. Still, I did a couple of errands on the way home and got home feeling charged up, though my legs feel virtuously sore.

Friday, September 09, 2005

middle school

I gave a talk to my daughter's middle school class today, on the history of computers. I got lucky, I started out by asking them what questions one might ask about the history of computers and what I got from them had about a 60% overlap with what I had planned to cover. Then they didn't want to stop asking questions, some somewhat random. The school's computer projector turned out at the last minute to be missing--I should have commented on the dangers of dependence on technology. But I always somewhat enjoy having to wing it when the technology is down; the pieces tend to come together in interesting ways.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

bike ride

I had a lovely bike ride before dinner today in the new cooler weather. I just did my Old Six Mile Highway loop of a little more than an hour. About 3/4 of the way home I saw an owl fly over me and land in a tree near the road, and I stopped my bike to look at it. It was big and brown with no ear tufts--a barred owl. It felt like a good omen.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

I believe in the principle that if you can't help someone who is in pain, at least don't avert your eyes. But I've been slow to understand and haven't had anything of my own to say. I read some of the live blog from New Orleans. I remember the mud we shoveled out of houses north of Charleston when I went for a weekend to help after hurricane Hugo. I invited my students to write reflections on what we might learn about technology from the situation in New Orleans.

What I would like to see discussed further is the future impact of global warming. Does it make any sense to rebuild a city much of which is already below sea level if sea level is going to increase 3 feet by the end of the century? That number comes from a Japanese environmental site, many estimates are lower but at least some of those presume no increase in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere. Could New Orleans the commercial center be rebuilt somewhere else, leaving the old city as a tourist attaction only (as when Houston replaced Galveston)?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

visiting my son

My son's boarding school is less than two hours away, so we drove up this afternoon to take him out to dinner. He clearly is adjusting well. Still no complaints (though it is typical of him not to talk about problems until they are over). I asked him if the adjustment was still hard or whether it had started to get easier and he said it has gotten easier, the week had gone very fast. Progress reports from teachers are beginning to trickle in and look pretty good. The report from the math teacher was phrased rather negatively, but the learning resource teacher said my son understands his math so hopefully it is a matter of figuring out expectations. My son is rather proud that he is neater and more organized than his roommate--he is used to being the one everyone else tries to organize.

Friday, September 02, 2005

My new hero

is Sister Madonna Buder. She recently won her age group at Ironman Canada: swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles, all in 16 hours and 46 minutes. She is 75 years old and a Roman Catholic nun. She started running at age 48 and then took up triathlons. She holds two age group records at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii and four for Ironman Canada.