maandag, augustus 18, 2008

Another update

All is well. I'm well. Pneumonia is all over.

Since the last post another year of school has ended. I didn't write about it at all, but it was a good group of students. I initiated a client counseling competition for the students, and it went very well. First time any law school in The Netherlands had participated. I ended up in India with the team, one Swedish/Hungarian guy and one German. Although I was sick while I was there, I was very proud of the team. They didn't win, but I won't go into all the reasons why.

India is incredible. We were in Bangalore - not the best place to visit, but still, very much India. I was able to get to Mysore, which is someplace I've wanted to visit since I started doing yoga more than 30 years ago.

While I was there, I was annoyed by almost everything. Except the food. I enjoyed it all, but was still annoyed. In Bangalore, I always felt as though I was being taken advantage of. Having said that, it's been several months now since I've come home, and I keep thinking that I would like to do it again, but for about six months instead of two weeks. It's the first place I've ever had big culture shock. I think if I went back, I could better factor that in.

We also went to Prague. I'll try to do another post on that.

Ian's won all kinds of awards. I'll save that for another post, too.

We're also one with everything we need to do for the adoption procedure. Now it's just waiting...

And - we've made the change to Macs. We got a desktop and a laptop. I've got to say, the learning curve was a pain, but I'm glad we did it. I see now, though, that I don't have any idea how to upload pics from a Mac to here. I'll do that when I figure it out. Or, maybe I'll switch to using a Mac template instead of blogger.

OK - enough for one post. More later - and hopefully not six months from now.

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zondag, november 11, 2007

Am I well yet?

I went to the doctor Thursday morning to see if I was good to go to make the trip to Prague. She pretty much said that I was crazy to even think about it, so I guess you'll have to get your traveloghue from the Czech Republic later. Ian's already rebooked for next Spring break. I asked the doctor just how much longer I could expect to be house-bound and she said probably about 2 -3 weeks. She also said that I could start to do small things around the house and take the dog on short walks. And next week, I can even go to Amsterdam for a day if I want. I know there was a time when I would have been excited if someone told me I could spend a day in Amsterdam next week. And I do feel just a little bad about wanting to say, "A day in Amsterdam? Whoop-dee-do. But what about Prague?", but there you have it.

She said there were three reasons I shouldn't go on the trip. The first is that after walking around for 15 minutes, I will be wiped out - and Prague is a city I'm going to want to walk around in, so I would probably end up walking around in it. That won't be good for me. Also, it is damp and cold in Prague (even moreso than here, I guess, which is hard to believe), and that won't be good for me. Finally, she said that every virus on the plane and in the streets would be looking for me because I'm very susceptible to anything right now. I've caught a very small cold already, which has slowed my recovery somewhat. I thought maybe that had happened, but I wasn't sure until she looked into my throat and confirmed it was red in a way that wasn't great.
However, she also said that the rattling in my lungs is less, so I am healing. She then added that it almost always takes this long, "for someone of your age."
Those words just kind of hung in the air for a few minutes... I don't think I have ever heard them before - at least not when they were specifically directed towards me!

Anyway, it's frustrating, but I'm actually a little relieved to hear I shouldn't go to Prague. That was what the voice inside my head was saying, but I didn't want to prevent Ian from having a good vacation - he's really ready for one!

It does feel good know that there is nothing on my plate for the next couple of weeks. At least I don't need to feel guilty about doing nothing. It seems as though either "Oprah" or "As the World Turns" is on here 24/7. Maybe I'll finally see what the big deal is about Oprah. And if that doesn't work out, I can always see what's going on in Oakdale...

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TED talks

I don't know how I missed the talks that are held in my old stomping grounds. Monterey has always been a great place for new ways of looking at things, and the TED talks are keeping that tradition alive.
The vid below is one of the many I've watched over the past week. This one is a wonderful essay on creativity and how traditional education has got it wrong.

If you've ever wondered what's wrong about education today and how it could be chanaged, give it a watch.

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donderdag, november 01, 2007

Closer to fine.

I went back to the doctor a couple of days ago - more x-rays and blood tests. My lung is better and my blood is clean. I feel better every day.

Ten years ago this month, my dad died of lung disease. I guess it would have been hard not to have thought about him during the last month even if this wasn't going on with me, but. . .
So far as I know, I don't have anything else going on with my health other than this pneumonia. And I haven't been anywhere near so sick as my dad was toward the end - I haven't needed oxygen, for instance. Still, it has reinforced my conclusion that if I do ever end up with a chronic condition that is not going to get better, well ... Ian won't let me finish that sentence, so you'll have to fill in the blanks yourself. I will say, though, that it's a bit unnerving to watch someone you care about work themself to the bone trying to keep everything together when you're not well enough to pull your weight.

Just sayin'...

On a healthier note, I went on a journey by bus, train and bike today - nothing major, just a trip to see a fysiotherapist in Overveen, near Haarlem. It's about 2 hours, door to door. I still have back trouble, and all the lounging around watching TV I've done for the past month has not help it one little bit. Nor did grading the papers - which I'm finally done with. So today I tried something I've read about, but haven't done before. I had some physical therapy on my shoulder and back. The guy who did it was really good. Bas Willemsen. He's been trained in Active Release Techniques® - a relatively new therapy that deals with all kinds of muscle injury. The guy who came up with it lives in Colorado Srpings. Half my family lives there, so I've tried to make an appointment with him everytime I've gone back, but I've never had my emails or phone calls returned. Since I've had nothing but time on my hands, I researched providers here and found there were a couple.
It's a little painful, but I think it's going to be worth it. Especially since it's covered by my health plan. I feel pretty good today. Time will tell.
Anyway - add Overveen to the list of places to visit in The Netherlands. I would go back even if I didn't have more appointments to get my back fixed up. I forgot my camera, but I'll take it next time I go.
And now, I'm going to bed. I'm whooped.

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woensdag, oktober 24, 2007

Day 17

I went to the doctor yesterday for a checkup. I was feeling pretty good - I woke up for the first time in 16 days in sheets that weren't drenched from night sweats. I haven't had a fever for a couple of days. So, I was feeling pretty upbeat when I went to the doctor.
She listened to my lungs and said that I needed to slow down. That made me laugh, because I've been doing nothing other than staying in bed being waited on by Ian. (You can imagine how much he loves that!) Anyway, she said that my right lung was almost completely filled.
I guess the antibiotic they have me on (Ciprofloxine, I think) is strong, but not as deadly to bacteria as the wide spectrum antibiotic that didn't work. This one just keeps the bacteria from growing, and it's kind of up to my body to heal itself now. She said it would be at least a couple of weeks before I should do anything out of bed.
So, I left feeling a little bummed. I stopped by the store on the way home and bought some cookies covered with chocolate and toffee . I've got to say, they helped.
Ian's in Amsterdam with his German lessons tonight, so Rensa and I are holding down the fort.
Rensa's cabin fever is worse than mine. I went on a short walk with her night before last. It was just around the block - less than 10 minutes. We both needed it. I came home and couldn't move. It wiped me out.
I guess that's the sort of thing I have to stop doing.
The doc says it's serious, but I'll heal if I just don't do anything. Ian says he thinks the only thing I have left to cut out is washing my hands after going to the bathroom. Whatever. As I said, he loves looking after the loved one.
Other than that, everything is OK. It's turned cold - we had frost this morning for the first time. I think we set our clocks back this weekend. Hard to believe.

I didn't get to Maastricht to pick up my students' papers, so they're going to mail them to me. I think they'll get here tomorrow. At least then I'll have something to do!

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zondag, oktober 21, 2007

A little update

Has it really been almost a year since I last wrote something here?

Briefly, we spent last Christmas in the US with family in New York, Kansas and Colorado. We also went to D.C. (my first time there, believe it or not) for a conference. After that we came back home for a couple of weeks, then started work again.
I've really been enjoying my job. I can't remember if I've written about it or not. At first I decided I wouldn't because it was all new and I didn't know whether it would be appropriate. I think I've figured that out, and if I have time, I'll write more about my work later. It's been a fun and very exciting experiment - one I look forward to continuing.
The house is all but done, and we're enjoying living in it. We're going to replace quite a few windows and do a couple of other things to make it more energy effecient soon, but there's nothing that HAS to be done.
We've had quite a few visitors over the last year, and are looking forward to seeing more (including Rachael!) next year.
I started going to the gym again a couple of months ago. I hadn't realised how much I missed that - I hadn't really worked out since I moved here (well, I mean other than the noraml everyday biking and walking.).
I also discovered Facepage and have found a few old friends. I'm still looking for some, though. Anyone know where these people are? Cyndy Robertson, Jim Eldert from Santa Cruz, Sonrisa (who knows what her last name is now?) or any of the other people who lived on boats moored in the Monterey Bay harbor circa 1979-82? Anyone who used to work at Casa Maria or Tillie Gorts? Allen Posey from SF? I know there are others ... I remember reading that if you list the people you're looking for on a web page, when they google themselves, they might see it. So, there you go.
More recently, I've been sick for the past 2 weeks. It started as the flu, then turned into pneumonia. Nothing serious or painful, it's just worn me out enough that I can't go far from bed for awhile. As odd as this sound, I feel relatively strong for having pneumonia.
More than anything, I'm just bored. (Hence, this post, I suppose.) And my back hurts from being in bed for waaaayyyyy too long. I think I'm on the mend though.
I'm going to try to write a bit more. I've missed it.
After I get done with grading exams papers, we're going to Prague for a week. My camera has all but died - it still takes pictures, but the view screen doesn't show anything. As a result, the pictures are completely hit and miss. I'm going to think about whether I need another one before the trip or whether I'll wait awhile. The trip is pure vacation for me. Ian's been asked to speak at a conference there, then teach for a week, so he'll stay longer than me.
I need to come home, though because I have Dutch lessons starting up again. I'm going to try a program in Amsterdam this time. My Dutch is improving all the time, but I'm still not speaking as much as I should. I guess I'm just shy that way...

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zondag, december 17, 2006

Happy Birthday . . .

Something only the people who have known me for a long time know is that I used to play the piano. And cello. And the sax. And even the trumpet for a very short while. I started with the piano when I was probably around 4 years old. My paternal grandmother was a music teacher. Her lessons were painful in a way that only those of us who were genetically related could understand. I was the only one in my immediate family who survived them with anything close to a great love for music. I quit playing for a number of years when I was on the boat and didn't have access to a piano, but wherever I was, I always knew where I could find a piano to play.

I took it up again after I moved back to the Midwest in the mid-80s. I played in a couple of bands and toured around a bit. It was all too loud, though, so I eventually quit and went back to college to study.

My Dad was also a musician. He played trombone in college, and later sang in a babershop quartet. I loved going to sleep at night while they were practicing. The music was good - mainly because they loved it so much. And there was always laughter along with it.

After I started serious study, I think I lost a little of my love for playing. I was so critical of my playing that it was difficult to enjoy it much. By the time I graduated, I was a fine player, but what my grandmother didn't kill, the structure of a university education in music did. So I drifted away from playing.

Still, I always had a piano after that, but none of them were very good. Because they weren't good, I played even less.

When I came to live here, I didn't bring a piano with me. And I never missed it too much. As always, I spied some pianos I could have played, but I never played them.

Recently, that started to change. I let Ian know that at some point - maybe after I sold my house in the U.S. - I wanted to get a decent piano.

A week or so ago I had a BIG birthday. And I got one of my presents a little early. Behind my back, Ian lobbied my friends to help out in getting me something really memorable to mark the day. And they responded.

In our garden room, we now have a really wonderful instrument.

The tone and action is really wonderful. I've been playing a couple of hours a day - the first time I've done that since I seriously studied. I'm still a bit rusty, but it's amazing how quickly it returns. And I'm really enjoying it. I explained to Ian that it's like seeing a friend you haven't seen form many, many years. Suddenly, all you want to do is catch up.

I notice I'm playing things differently now. My ear is different. I'm different. Because of that, what I play is different. It's interesting.

Anyway, I hope those of you who contributed will have a chance to visit. If you do, and you have the time, I'll play you to sleep at least once.

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Work and a new bike

So much has happened this last year. Much of it has been taken up with work. I don't think I've written much about it. I've edited a couple of books, but the English Language European Law School in Maastricht is mostly what I've been busy with. I'm teaching some really bright students from all over Europe. That's the best part of the job.
The program is new; the first of its kind, at least here in Europe. It's a grand experiment, one that I think will be successful. The aim is to teach a systemless form of law to students from a variety of backgrounds. It's an alien concept here, but in reality, it's not so different from the way I learned law in the U.S. The US has 50 states, each with their own law. Next to and over all of them, there is another Federal law. We certainly didn't learn the laws of all these systems. Instead, we learned how to research - how to FIND the law.
So that's what I'm teaching the students to do here.
Here's a link to a student's blog I ran across - from there, you can maybe explore more of Maastricht and the university, if you're interested. Oh - and if you're British, have a background in law and are looking to teach - give me a holler.

I'm going to be in the U.S. for awhile soon. Part of it is to attend a conference in D.C. A great perk! Another was the new bike I recently got. The commute to Maastricht is about 3 hours door to door. There is a 20 minute bus ride on my end, one a little shorter in Maastricht. By bike, it's faster. To help with the commute, I got a new fold up bike that I can ride from my house and the university to the train stations, then can carry with me on the train for free. It's all courtesy the Dutch government - a way to promote the greening of the country.

Here's the bike - and I would highly recommend it if you're looking for a good one.

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donderdag, november 09, 2006

A week in Tuscany. And Venice.

So. I've been teaching law in Maastricht (I love it) and it doesn't seem like I've had a chance to breathe since February.
I've got a break for awhile now, and am using it to do some editing.

Then I'll rest.

And post some pictures.

And maybe write something.

We went to Italy last week and got back yesterday. RyanAir had cheap flights into Pisa. We spent a day there, and I've got to say that I liked it more than I thought I would. I thought all it had was the leaning tower of ...

well, you know.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I ran right into a wall painted by Keith Haring.

I guess it was one of his last works. Astounding.

We went on to Venice,

then Florence.

OK - that's my short update - for now. Life's good. More soon.

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maandag, juni 05, 2006


We spent yesterday with Ian's dad in Enkhuizen. Now if this doesn't just make you want to put on a pair of wooden shoes and kick your heels up, I don't know what will.

On another front, a break of at least a day or two is on the horizon. Maybe I'll post some overdue pics.

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maandag, mei 08, 2006

Why I haven't written

I'm not mad at you, I'm just busy.
I got a new job in Maastricht,

we've been to Paris with Natalie,

saw Janine and Chris get married,

and spent a day with Lieke and Gert-Jan in Rotterdam.

I'll try to be better at this. Soon.

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dinsdag, mei 02, 2006


We're back!

We spent out first anniversary in Paris with Natalie, Jeffrey and John. We chose Paris mainly because Natalie came over with her partner Colin. I'm sure that will disappoint those who find this site by typing in the search "Natalie Peck lesbian", but what can you do, girls? She's just made that way.

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dinsdag, april 11, 2006

It's finally spring in Holland!


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My eye

I may write about it a little later, but last week's minor emergency found me being rushed by my opthamologist's orders to a university hospital to investigate the possibility of a detached retina. They took pictures, and it looks good - see for yourself.


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donderdag, april 06, 2006


Now that the Budapest posts are up, an ad that is primarily for Bente.

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woensdag, april 05, 2006

Budapest, Hungary

One of the first things I learned on this trip is something I'm sure most Europeans learn as a child; Budapest is actually made up of two cities -- Buda and Pest. The cities are split down the middle by the Danube river.

Buda and Pest, as seen from Castle Hill, in Buda.

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St. Stephen's Basilica

Szent Istvan bazilika in Budapest has to be seen to be believed. It is the height of spiritual ostentatiousness, carried out by good Catholics after the Holy wars and persecutions were over (although some of us aren't quite sure the persecutions are really over yet) and they had some free time on their hands. Never mind that the people are starving, this building isn't about the people. It's about the POWER (and material wealth) OF GOD.

In case you think the entry fee to the main attraction doesn't leave your wallet light enough, you can always leave your bank account number and have a donation direct debited from your bank account, once you've sprinkled yourself with holy water and entered the chapel.

And if it's a freak show you're looking for, step right up! How about the "Chapel of the Holy Right Hand"? Uh . . . yeah. It's the petrified severed right hand of some dead holy person clutching a wad of jewels. Now if looking at THAT doesn't make you feel Holy, I don't know what will.
Looking at it, you can almost hear the former owner of the hand saying, "Don't even think about it, Your Holiness. If you want this back, you are going to have to pry it out of my cold, dead hand!"

All in all, this place made my head swim.

Once the organ started plaiying, the only thing missing to make the experience completely terrifying was a clown.

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Buda, Hungary

Buda is arguably the most picturesque of the two cities - especially its skyline as viewed from Pest.

Buda is also the oldest of the two.

Castle Hill in Buda, across the Danube as seen from Pest.

Castle Hill, seen from the Buda side.

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Pest, Hungary

Pest was (and is) the more industrial of the two cities, but has its own beauty.

The Hungarian Parliament is undergoing renovation, but is an incredible complex.

This last picture is a pan (that I haven't cleaned up) of the other side of the Parliament. Click on it to see a bit more detail.

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Budapest, City Streets

The streets of Budapest are best seen on foot.

Or maybe scooter...

Every turned corner revealed a surprise.

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Budapest - Castle Hill

Castle Hill is probably the most recognizable and visited place in Buda. It sits on top of a limestone plateau high above the Danube and is home to medieval monuments and museums.

The old town on the hill is filled with quiet retreats and beautifully painted old storefronts.

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