Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Who are all these people? and stress in our lives.

I added a blog feature (see left) that allows me to see not only how many readers I've had in the last 24 hours, but where they're from.

What a surprise to see how many readers there are from all over the US and even the world! Here's a somewhat random sample, just the most recent 24 hour clip:

Location Time
Morrill, ME, United States Wed, 30 Sep 2009 04:13:42 -0500
Central District, Hong Kong Wed, 30 Sep 2009 01:43:26 -0500
Palmerston North, New Zealand Wed, 30 Sep 2009 01:08:58 -0500
Dixmont, ME, United States Wed, 30 Sep 2009 00:09:23 -0500
Biddeford, ME, United States Tue, 29 Sep 2009 17:31:40 -0500
Vancouver, BC, Canada Tue, 29 Sep 2009 14:49:53 -0500
Paducah, KY, United States Tue, 29 Sep 2009 14:26:20 -0500
San Antonio, TX, United States Tue, 29 Sep 2009 12:12:18 -0500
Monrovia, CA, United States Tue, 29 Sep 2009 12:01:13 -0500
South Portland, ME, United States Tue, 29 Sep 2009 11:44:28 -0500
Casselberry, FL, United States Tue, 29 Sep 2009 06:56:30 -0500
Harrisonburg, VA, United States Tue, 29 Sep 2009 05:53:41 -0500

Harrisonburg is easy. That's my father-in-law, Aimee's dad, Dick. Hi Dad.

Someone from Morrill, close by, checks in almost every day. Hi! Nice to "meet" you.

The rest of you are presumably random visitors, although a minority might be regulars. I would have to analyze the results every day to find out, which I'm not likely to do.

But I am surprised to see how many folks, from all over the planet, check in to see what, if anything has been happening on a small farmstead in the Maine forest.

I hope you find something worthwhile.

As for what is happening on this small farm, the answer is not much. We're already tired from teaching. Aimee was particularly exhausted yesterday. A couple months ago, in midsummer, in a fit of "leading from the front," she assigned herself (she's her own boss, now, as Director of the Center for Biodiversity) to teach Cell Biology, a class for which she is only marginally qualified to teach. As an evolutionary ecologist, Aimee works mostly with whole animals, their DNA, and the environment they live in, not their cellular structure and function.

The upshot is, not only does she have to work her butt off just to stay a page ahead of the students, but she also has to prepare laboratory experiments in a field in which she has barely ever worked. That and her Director duties have her close to the end of her tether. It doesn't help that she cannot ever do anything half-way. She just isn't built that way.

But she is setting a good example, making sure the quality of teaching is good (better than it would be with a random adjunct hire -- the other option), and saving the college money.

Still, it's definitely a bit OTT and we had a conversation yesterday about what we could do to cope while she gets done with the class.

As for me, I am just plugging away with students at our barn project, which goes well, and doing my best to stay ahead of my other classes, while almost all my research and service work is on hold. I'm not at the end of my tether, but I have very little extra time in my day and am usually content to get done with my work, come home, do the farm chores, check on the animals health, and collapse on the couch with a plate of dinner to watch the BBC news, a detective show, Jon Stewart, and go to bed.

Couch spud.

All of my former idealism about how bad TV is for people is out of the window. For years, roughly from leaving my parent's home in 1978 to late 1996, I never even owned one. For years after that I just watched video movies on weekends. These days, I still only watch about two hours a day, but it helps me relax. If I had to do a hobby or read a book, or even make conversation with my lovely wifie, in those two hours, I wouldn't get to the totally passive, absolute wet rag state that I achieve before bed and all the poison stress would invade my sleep, resulting in a downward spiral.

Corticosteroid, I believe, especially cortisol, are the chemicals the body produces under stress. I am long familiar with high stress in the workplace, and I believe these days I can tell when my body is under the sway of additional cortisol. I can also tell when I have successfully bled most of it away.

That happens around 8.30 pm most nights when I turn the thing off, usually after having watched Jon Stewart's "moments of Zen" on our DVR, and stumble outside to taste the air, look at the stars, and walk the dogs.

I also find blogging relaxing, which I suppose takes me back to my original thought about who the audience is for this here farm blog.

Having an audience is nice. I'm glad I'm not writing to myself all the time.

(Although I suppose I am in some ways, since this is a journal or diary of sorts.)

But don't expect great thoughts or great writing this fall, or you'll be disappointed. We will be in a kind of survival/shut-down mode until the college vacations arrive.

Luckily the first of those comes soon, the President's Day holiday, for which we have a four-day weekend.


Let's hope Aimee uses it to get some rest. I'll try to make sure, but as Dick knows well, she's impressively stubborn and doesn't always do what is good for herself.

6.05 am. The day just began. Aimee got up to take her shower and I must eat my breakfast and also get ready. Another day on the line.

Wish us well. We could use it.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

The earliest posts, at the very end of the blog, tell the story of the Great Farm, our purchase of a fragment of that farm, the renovation of the homestead and its populating with people and animals. Go all the way to the last post in the archive and read backwards from there to get it in chronological order.

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