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Sunday, August 20, 2006

All this leisure isn't good for me. 

I'm getting lazy. Not having much to do means that it's all too easy not to do much. I try to make myself get up at a reasonable time, but even if I manage that I still seem to end up pootling around doing not a lot, and before I know it I've been out of bed for two hours but still haven't made it to the shower. On the one hand, I should be enjoying this freedom, on the other, I do actually have some things I need to do, but it's proving hard to make myself get to them.

On the list of things to do is getting myself sorted for classes starting, which they do in seventen days. I'll only have two days between getting back from vacation and the start of school (and one of those is Labor Day) so there are things I'd like to take care of this week. It would be great if I could get the bulkpacks for my classes before I go away, but I suspect that they won't be ready yet, which'll mean that I'll be standing in line with everyone else on the 5th of September. My 10.30am class on the first day has a deliverable due (nothing major, but still a deliverable), so I'm hoping to get that taken care of. And there are little things like getting deadlines into Outlook (time consuming but necessary) and sorting out all the junk in my room so that I can actually use my desk for the purpose for which it was intended.

One of the most important things I need to do to get ready for classes is to finalise which classes I'm actually going to be taking. At Wharton, we select electives via an auction, using points to bid for the classes you want. For fall classes, the first three rounds take place at the end of the Spring semester, and the final rounds (another three for full-semester and quarter one classes, five for quarter two classes) happen in quick succession at the beginging of the Fall semester. When the auction started I was very clear about which classes I wanted. I bid on five of them and got four in the first round. I continued to bid on the fifth, in the hope that someone would sell it, but had another alternative lined up. As the summer's gone on I've changed my mind a bit though. One of the courses I'd won sounds really interesting but it, or rather the professor who teaches it, doesn't get good reviews. I'm always slightly wary of putting too much trust in what other people say. I know there've been courses and professors that I've liked and others haven't and vice versa. But I talked to people I know and whose judgement I trust who'd taken a class with the professor concerned, and they weren't impressed. Coupled with these doubts, I looked more closely at two half-unit courses that are new this year,and decided I was very interested in both of them. One of them clashes with the course I'd been dithering about, which has sealed its fate and I'm dropping it. The other one clashes with both my options for a fifth course, so I need to rethink what happens there as well.

So for next semsterI have three full unit courses set, and two half unit courses that I'm bidding on. I know that I'll get one of them (it has plenty of open capacity) and am fairly confident that I'll get the other. Now I'm just dithering about my fifth unit. I don't actually need to do a whole unit. If I just took a quarter unit communications elective (ifI could get a seat in one), with the classes I'll be taking in the spring I'll meet the graduation requirements. There are a couple of full-unit courses that have caught my eye though. Both look interesting and useful, both have points for and against them, both are outside areas I intend to major in. I really just need to get my act together and decide on one of them.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dry Air 

My flight home from Vancouver yesterday was my first expereince of the new travel restricitons. Restictions in Canada were tight: no liguids, gels, or similar allowed through security, and within the secure area any liguids sold had to be in open cups. At O'Hare, where we stopped en route to Philly, sale of liquids within the secure area seemed unaffected (bottles of water and soda available, drinks with lids on them) we just weren't allowed them on the plane, not that anyone seemed to be checking. when I fly, especially on longish trips, I'm normally equipped with moisturiser, hand cream, lip balm and a water spritzer as well as a large bottle of water because drink service never seems frequent enough. It'll be interesting to see how things devleop in the coming weeks.

Some news stories around this whole thing have been amusing, for a number of reasons. I almost snorted in disbelief at the news reporter who asked a 'security expert' how you could use a sports drink to make an explosive, seeming having missed the whole 'disguised as' element of the 'liquid explosives disguised as sports drinks' story. My morning paper yester day reported tha tthe ban on taking liquid aboard planes in Canada had been extneded to aerosols and juice. Am I missing something, or isn't juice a liquid? Then there's Philly aiport announcing that they will be providing booties as everyone now has to have their shoes x-rayed. I've had to take my shoes off everytime I've gone through security at Philly, so is this reuirement really a new thing? Anyway, I'll be grateful for the booties.

Ona somewhat less amusing note, today's Chronicle of Philanthropy e-mail highlighted this story form the New York Post on the impact of the hand luggage restriction on orchestras travelling between the US and UK. I used to work with someone whose daughter was a professional cellist, and had to remember to pack the cello spike in the hold rather than with the instrument. The cello had to travel in its own seat, and was apparently offered an in-flight meal on occassion.

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Vacation Update 

the past two and a half weeks have been a mixture of rest and work. I've just come back from 10 days in Seattle and Vancouver, neither of which I'd visited before and both of which were beautiful. (Not to mention warm but not hiot weather and low humidity, a nice change from Philly.) Before I went, I got a chance to meet the Wharton class of 2008 as a panelist at the International Student Orientation and then representing the Wharton Graduate Association(WGA) at a couple of events during the first day of pre-term. The heat that day was almost unbearable (I think the heat index was something like 115) but they were all gamely getting on with things and meetoing each other. They're now pretty much half way through pre-term and had the math test today - rather them than me. I've also been keeping busy with WGA things while I traveled, when technoloy would let me that is, rather than Outlook helpfully deciding that life would be so much better for me if it refused to send any e-mails. I'm one of the WGA's Executive Directors for Academic Affairs this year, which is a fun but busy job.

I've got another 12 days of semi-leisure in Philly, which I'm hoping to use, at least in part, to swee some of the city that I haven't made it to yet. Then it's off for a week of absolute vacation on Maui before heading back into the school year again.

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