Saturday, February 24, 2007

Coughing. And Not Traveling.

For weeks I toyed with the idea of writing a conference proposal for the NCTEAR conference, which is taking place this weekend in Nashville. I did write a proposal, which was accepted, and then came a commitment that was important to a family member, so I had to cancel.

This morning, we packed up our things to drive down to Leadville, Colorado, only to find that all roads out of Laramie were closed. We tried 287; we tried the interstate; nothing doing.

So we came back home. No conference presentation, and no fun day spent with spouse and other hikers. I've spent the day (again) sitting in my easy chair, playing solitaire and watching TV. And coughing.

So I'm about finished with my antibiotic, but I'm wondering what else I should do. I've been drinking water and gatorade like they're going to stop making it. I've been hanging my head over a pot of boiling water. I have a humidifier going in my bedroom. And still, the cough and the shaky breathing is bothering me.

Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sick, Sick, Sick

It's spring semester in Laramie, Wyoming, so that means it is time for the yearly crud. In past years, the yearly crud has attacked my ears (2004), throat (2003), and chest (2002, 2005, 2006). This year, it's again attacking my chest like a bank vault that needs to be dynamited. It all started on Tuesday when I woke up with a sore throat and coughed my way through visiting student and mentor teachers in Casper. Then on Wednesday it was a fever of 102 and an iron band around my chest. I staggered to the doctor's office and got a prescription for antibiotics, but it's now Thursday evening and I'm still feeling shitty. Better than on Wednesday, but still pretty shitty.

Anyway, I cancelled class on Wednesday night, didn't go to my discussion section on Wednesday or lab today, and it looks like I won't make it to chemistry on Friday either. So . . . lots of time off but with no energy to get any work done. Chemistry exam on Wednesday, lots of papers to grade, but I doubt any of it will get done in a timely fashion!

I've watched lots of movies, though, and got a lot of extra sleep. So that's a good thing. That's me, seeing the silver lining . . .

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Science Literacy

I've been doing some thinking lately about the kinds of learning that are taking place for me, especially this semester as I'm pursuing a general chemistry class for the first time. I've discovered that -- though I am usually a quick study -- chemistry takes much longer for me to get comfortable with, to digest to the point that I don't feel hesitant about my ability to answer particular questions. That plays very much on the affect, as I am usually easily frustrated when learning information and skills doesn't come quickly. I'm learning, as a result, to allow myself plenty of time to master even what might seem to others as the simplest of problems.

Take balancing chemical equations, for example. I began working problems from the textbook, as preparation for the exam, but found that I wasn't sure about how to proceed, even after hearing how to do it in lecture and reading about it in the textbook. I decided that I needed some simpler problems to work, so that I could work my way up to the slightly more complex ones in the textbook. So I got online and found some sample problems -- really, they were designed for a high school chemistry class -- and spent an hour or so working those. I also read a couple of different sets of directions for balancing chemical equations. After this practice, I went back to the problems in the textbook and found them quite easy. I also found that, along the way, I had developed my own preferred method of balancing equations -- a mixture of suggestions from various sources along with my own twist.

I hope that I can remember this experience and be patient with myself in future. The reality is that I'm probably going to be spending much more time studying for this course than I have for any other. Except perhaps my first qualitative research course, when I had to read and re-read and re-read in order to understand the theoretical frameworks that were presented in that course.

Luckily, I'm pretty serious about being successful in this endeavor. I'm going to need every bit of luck and hard work I can get my hands on.