Boston

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I’ve really been enjoying my time in Boston.

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It’s been a good conference. It makes such a difference to have the kids grown. I’ve still been on call for M (“what sort of thing should I use to melt the butter for my artichoke?”), but it is so much easier to focus on work now, and to be able to be prepared enough to not feel constantly one step behind.

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It also helps that I am now one of the old people here. I realized that other people now see me as an experienced old person, the way I used to see all the people who have now retired. Odd.

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I didn’t stay in the conference hotel because I was trying to save money. I go back and forth about this. It’s nice to be able to roll out of bed and take the elevator to the meetings. But it’s also nice to have an excuse to walk through the city, often at odd hours.

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This time I have really enjoyed that. The weather has been perfect. We’re close to a lively shopping street, and I walk home through crowds of people in their summer dresses and shorts strolling the streets. Crowds of people — college kids, families with little kids, people speaking French — it’s wonderful. That is a thing I miss about a warm summer — that lovely languid feeling of being outside late at night in the warm night.

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Anyway, I’m packing up to go now, even though I’m here through the evening.

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I’ve had a good time.

Today

  • Too hurried this morning to eat breakfast at home, so I am eating oatmeal from the cafe. It’s delicious, if you remember to order it without raisins. It has lots of seeds in it and maybe cardamom. Yum.
  • I have a blister the size of Wyoming on the back of my heel. My feet are my Achilles heel, if you will. And because I have a blister on my heel, I have to wear backless shoes to work which are not great for walking in. I hobble along, hoping I won’t twist an ankle or break my neck. It’s going to heal soon, right?
  • It has been great having the nephew and his friend here. They’re a lot of fun, even though they do insist on calling the city near me “San Fran” (do not call it that, ever) and they worry about going to the other city near me for fear it is dangerous. I think they ran into a retired cop somewhere who scared them. After a few days of finding SF dirty, foggy, cold and full of homeless people (all true, and yet also heartbreakingly beautiful), they managed to speak to a youth somewhere who gave them a secret list of bars to go to. They headed off last night after dinner, consulting a paper napkin. I hope they had fun.  In their defense, it has been cold and foggy, and they’d been traveling for two weeks when they got here, so I think they just needed to recuperate.
  • While it has been wonderful having them here, I am an old person and can’t keep up. I really need to go to bed at 9 some nights. Also, I am fretting about laundry and meals for K and M and backpacking equipment. So I’m slightly relieved that they’re heading out for points south today. I can only say this because I know they will never read it. Really, they are lovely.  And yes, K and M can feed themselves —  I just need to worry about it before a while before I come to that conclusion. And put a meatloaf and some spaghetti sauce in the freezer and buy a couple gallons of milk.

In training

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Went for an amazing hike yesterday, starting in Muir woods, climbing a hill, descending a hill and emerging at the beach.

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I’m in training.

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We walked five miles, and it was actually easy. Sadly, we were under the impression that it was 7.5 miles, and the ease of the hike was a lot more impressive when we thought it was 7.5.

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Still — it was great to be out again.

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Feeling not completely unready for the AT.

(ha)

Higgs

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Phew.

Went at lunch to see a discussion of the new particle. The room was much too small — they had to chase as many people out as were sitting there, which was really sad. It’s not every day you have people breaking down the doors to hear about physics.

It was interesting, too. There was a discussion by a theoretical physicist about how they had figured out that such a particle must exist, and then a discussion by the experimental physicist who had actually designed the experiment that found it. Really cool.

Two things of note: Of the eight physicists at the front of the room, four were women and four were men. The experimental physicist is a woman. And there was a discussion of the Superconducting Super Collider that was never built in Texas. Remember that? One of the physicists mentioned that not only did the US did not want to pay to build the SCC, but then we were also reluctant to contribute money to a collider built elsewhere that the US would not own. Hmm.

Anyway — busy weekend coming up. I have to find something formal-ish to wear to an event tomorrow. Uh oh.

Frenzy

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Today has only picked up on yesterday and then expanded it. We’re all in a frenzy here. Except for those of us who are not, but ought to be if only they were thinking.

But enough about that — the hike! I got the guide to the AT in Maine last night, and I think I’ve found a section that might work — the Bigelow Range! Just west of the Kennebec River. I think we could do it — if we cut off the end, I think it will be around 30 miles, which is about 7.5 miles per day. Honestly, I think that’s a reasonable starting point. It sounds pretty — peaks and views and tarns and then lakes. I’m getting even more excited.

Okay — got to eat lunch and resume my frenzied activities.

Ugh.

Ohhh!

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What a day!

In the first place, I am still sick. I mean, I’m better, but still prone to coughing fits. I’m leaving to go home soon and lie prone on the couch for a while.

It seems like it’s been a very long day, too. It starting with having to run around the house collecting paper and then drag the bins out to the street and continued when I got accosted by the bike lane proponents and then had to run to catch up with M, who wisely ignored them. At work I read a dense document, wolfed down a salad, participated in a disturbing webinar, and then had a gloomy budget meeting.

Partly it’s the build-up to going away, and the need to force all ducks into rows for that. I don’t know if all professions are like this, but in mine we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy on committees fixing things just so only to have the next iteration of the committee completely undo it so the the third iteration can redo what you did the first time. We’re in the undoing phase right now, which is disturbing to me because I worked very hard with the fixing committee some years ago. It does no good to tell them, “But we tried that! It doesn’t work! Here are the reasons!” They just look at you patiently, you poor obstructionist you. I’m trying to work out how much I should care. One part of me is figuring out how I can make it onto the committee to fix what’s being dismantled, and another part of me is thinking about what else I could do with my Julys if I never attended this blasted meeting again.

I’m sure it’s nowhere near as dire as I’m making it out to be. (Well, actually, I’m not.)

And then the budget, well, the budget is never fun.

All right — I am heading home, now. The sofa is calling and I am heeding its call.

See you tomorrow . . .

The hardest part

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I think I am pulling things together. I put together my conference schedule — I believe I mentioned that yesterday — and I’m meeting Joy for lunch. I spoke to Lynn, who, it turns out is also worried about hiking more than 8 miles a day. We’re probably hiking in Maine, not Connecticut, and N may be joining us, and my mother has been informed that I may only see her briefly and she even offered to come pick me up after the conference which is actually really helpful.

I need to figure out when I’m leaving to come home and where I’m leaving from and whether I’ll need to rent a car, and where exactly we are hiking, but in general it seems like a manageable amount of unknowns.

I’m getting a lot of the administrative stuff I need to do for the conference and the year after under control. It’s the sort of stuff you put off and put off until you are having nightmares about it, and then it takes about three hours to actually do.

So, travel-related anxiety battled to a standstill a week and a half ahead of time. Go me.

I am interested in Lynn’s plan — to lose ten pounds before we go in order to be able to bring ten extra pounds of something good, like chocolate, along. It’s worth considering. (Who am I kidding?)

I’m considering the purchase of some weightless clothing.

I’m actually starting to get a little bit excited about the whole thing. Five days in Boston, conferring and eating well (ahem). A day in between at my mother’s house. Four days hiking in Maine with my best friend. (Experience tells me we will hate each other for these four days but it will not affect our friendship, which is good because there is no one else who will do things like this with me.) Some unspecified time hanging around Maine with beloved daughter N. Home to K and M.

Yes, I am excited.

(That is my pack up there. Don’t you think the little yellow flower makes it look delicate and ten pounds lighter?) (And no, lying on that porch swing reading about the trails of Maine would not be the same. It is tempting, though.) (Also, have you seen pictures of the Knife-edge trail that goes up Mt. Katahdin? It looks terrifying. We are not doing that.)