Out West

Well, yesterday I handed in my grade sheets for my courses, so I’ve finished all undergraduate teaching duties for the calendar year! Time now to turn to all those things that have been piling up waiting to be done. Eventually, this will mean research, but in between there are various tasks, from writing letters of recommendation to reviewing grants, fellowship applications, and more.

Mostly, I just want to disappear for a while. Leave the planet for a bit and go walkabout, like I did last year’s holiday season. That might happen, but I have to be partly available for a little while for a number of duties. Either way, I need to get out of the old mode, and into the more contemplative one. In order to begin the resetting, I decided to hide away from campus entirely and in the afternoon visit one of my other offices… the beach.

I had some errands to run out in Santa Monica, such as picking up my boots from that great boot repair place (where I’d dropped them off to get stretched a bit… the miracle repair I told you about before had resulted in them a bit stiff and slightly tighter on the slopes, and so I thought I’d try a stretching of a few days), and so this fit well. I figured I’d just stay there until the evening.

I have a love-hate relationship with Santa Monica. It sometimes annoys me a lot, and seems to be a place that is so squeaky clean that all the flavour of real life has been drained out of it, to be replaced by mostly smugness…. but at other times, I’m very happy with it, since it has a number of gems that I like a lot.

If the truth be told, one of the main reasons that I like to go over there is the tarts. […] Click to continue reading this post

Flying Clams

There’s a lovely new book (or it sounds that way) out on Darwin. It’s a biography by David Quammen, called “The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution”. There was a very nice radio piece on it on NPR’s Morning Edition, on the segment by Robert Krulwich, with an interview with the author. I recommend it, as it is a very pleasant conversation that does not dumb everything down, for a change. From the […] Click to continue reading this post