Friday, January 01, 2010

Looking Back at 2009

I realized how addicted I am to the internet today when I couldn't "get online" until dinner time today. It's an integral part of my day no matter what I am doing. I have to consciously plan to go "offline" for some vacation days but I certainly do NOT like it when it's not my choice.

I broke down and bought a Blackberry Storm. I helped my parents get one to see how they worked and then decided to move forward to get one despite how much more they were than "regular" flip phones. Now I can't imagine life without one.

At the very end of 2009, I bought a Netbook. Earlier in the year I had consolidated my desktop and laptop since I kept finding myself leaving files "at home". Then, I wanted to see if I needed something in between. The recent terrorist attach on Delta/Northwest as the plane tried to land in Detroit underscored the need for consolidation on what I was carrying on plane trips. I will still take the laptop in the car but the Netbook will do on planes - esp. if I more fully utilize the flash drive (once I find the one I'm looking for among everything at home.).

I upgraded to Kindle 2 and the internet connection to update subscriptions and download began working at the farm this year so I don't have to "miss" anything. The only flaw I see in the Kindle is not being able to download anything you've missed in a few days (no longer than that) or a place to go to download what you've missed instead of having it delivered to you if it's a more extended period. But I'm sure there is a reason for that. Just like my Wii won't let me "backdate" working out if I wasn't home to record it.

Speaking of the Wii, I bought one in late 2008 and am continuing to use it on a regular basis. My diet and my love of sugar and fat is still what needs to be adapted to my age. I helped Santa get my brother a Wii and it's amazing how many homes the Wii has penetrated. The boxing is really good for my stress level. If only the Wii had been available when I was in grad school. But, alas, all I had was the stepper.

Speaking of another 2008 change that is still here - Molly is as cute as ever when I can let her hair stay long and she loves running full speed, especially in the snow. Unlike Shadow, she always returns to me or at least to the house. I do have to watch the birds of prey at the farm - esp. after watching "The Proposal" on pay per view on Dish yesterday and seeing at least a "re-enacted" bird taking the dog into the air. She still struggles with noise and with males. It doesn't help that the main males in my life right now won't follow my advice and just ignore her. Luckily, my cousin's children in Kentucky did when we visited this summer and they figured out that she would come up to them after that. I'm also quite sure that Dad's using his "booming" voice doesn't help and although he's made several strong efforts - including getting on all fours to give her treats - teasing her at the end is simply counterproductive.

Like in 2008, I applied for a job outside the ivory tower. This one I really wanted. But, alas, it was not meant to be. Meanwhile, another possibility that actually fits me more may open up in 2011.

I feel like I am gradually catching up on the everyday tasks of life and am in the process of "cleaning out the clutter" both physically and mentally. One effect of working out with the Wii was that I noticed what bad shape my ceiling was in with the popcorn and the dirt that collected when I didn't understand about changing furnace filters. I could take care of the walls but not the ceiling. As I was noticing this, Julie's husband was looking for projects and the end result is a great a new ceiling, a remodeled kitchen, and color on the walls - including some purple, some coordinating greens (thank you sherwin williams), and a updated kitchen.

In the process of all of this, I learned what a great crafstman Dustin is and that official drawings of actual sizes of appliances that are replacing the same brand of appliances in custom cabinets do not always fit. I also learned that A&E Repair (formerly Sears) will rip you off. I couldn't figure out why they kept sending a different repair person since that seemed quite inefficient in diagnosing a problem that the help desk they could access couldn't help until I was told they could charge for separate calls for each separate repair person. Argh!!! But, ultimately, I love my new kitchen and my new washer and dryer.

The plumbing is also all updated, including a mechanism to help de-metalize the water in addition to the water purifier (not softener). The plumber also suggested lavatory faucets that are all brass and will never have to be repaired because of handle leaks. I also started turning off the water and water heater when I leave and am hoping to reap some savings from that.

I developed (at this late date) a much healthier approach to my main place of employment. Our administrators are doing their best to mitigate the bad economic news and so far, we've had no furloughs nor any layoffs. Sadly, most of my colleagues don't realize how lucky we are. I've minimized one of the major issues and they are still trying to figure out what is going on.

Teaching American History grants continue and in some ways I couldn't anticipate. "THE" book came out last year and my name went on the front of the US history survey textbook despite some glitches into my role in putting teaching material in the actual book. But I still need to do more writing.

I served as president of an international organization during an economic crises we didn't expect. I'm still not sure that even our leadership team understands how close we were the to the end given that we don't produce enough actual revenue to support all of our work. But, I did what I could and, unlike others before me who couldn't let go, I will let my successors handle their own challenges - at least one of which I'm glad I don't have to deal with - esp. on a regular basis.

I continue to host the family for Thanksgiving and another cousin may decide to join us next year. I finally caught up with him and his family in Denver.

Speaking of which, this is the "Denver era" as far as conferences are concerned. But that is a good thing considering that the city is my brother's second home and the downtown has been revitalized and that they are pet-friendly and within driving distance even if I have to stop in the way.

A colleague moved from the National Archives in Kansas City to the Eisenhower Library and helped me jumpstart Truman one last time. This morning I awoke with ideas of how to reorganize the concept into an analytical framework instead of a narrative framework.

I have organized and will 'chair' a final organizational meeting about TAH grants. Next time, my colleagues will get to handle it.

After venturing to Newark for the first time last year, I will be going their four times this year. This is not only an interesting assignment but negates a much more local assertion that I wasn't up to the task of dealing with urban teachers. I do believe Newark is much more urban than any city in Kansas, esp. any outside of KCK.

I"m sure I will think of more later but it's on to bigger and better. The only regret I have is not realizing some things about how I am too hard on myself much earlier. But if I continue to beat myself up for that, aren't I still just being too hard on myself?

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