Wednesday, August 31, 2011


If you use LaTeX and BibTeX, and are having trouble managing a bibliography, JabRef is a handy tool. My notes would pretty much be dead without it.

Portland is cold

When I got out of bed this morning, I actually shivered because it is cold. How exciting! I finally am back in my element. It's strange how comfortable I am with the cold, and how miserable in the heat: already I notice the people around me generally dressing much more warmly than I do, and I just came in from Phoenix. Anyway, just a little more personal happiness to share with everyone.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Another day in Portland

Every day I have had in Portland so far (all four of them) has been a great day, but today was extra-special in one respect. I must confess that there was one aspect of the last three days that I was not especially happy about. You see, one of the reasons I have fled here from Arizona is to escape the hideous glare of my nemesis, the Ancient One, who some people today call "the Sun." And behold, when I arrive in the Pacific Northwest, there he still is in the sky, mocking me. Well, this morning, I was in for a treat. This is the way Portland is supposed to look:

In your face, life-giving Sun! Where is your solar brilliance now?

(It actually came back later in the day. But I'm not bitter. At least it's not 116°.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I successfully completed my move yesterday to Portland, Oregon. I will be pursuing a postbaccalaureate in mathematics at Portland State University with some assistance from the GI Bill, while (in a major, major coup) continuing to teach my philosophy classes online exclusively. Moving to this city and returning to school are two dreams I have had for quite some time; I thought both would have to wait until retirement, but when you love something enough, you find a way.

I have been walking all around the city since I got here, almost in a daze, noting familiar spots, learning about some of the unfamiliar ones, and of course acquiring a library card and checking out books from the magnificent Central Library. I can see that it will take discipline for me to sit down and do my teaching and my studies when the streets pull at me like a magnet: Portland is the closest thing to a utopia I have yet experienced. It is as though someone took most of the best places in the Chicago area—the ones for which I still feel homesick—folded them together, and placed the result in a region with more hills, more greenery, and much better temperatures. Aside from the risk of apocalyptic geological activity, it is difficult for me to find anything here I don't like.

I still do have to wonder, in advance, whether I eventually will tire of living here. It seems as though I have a difficult time staying in one place for more than four years. At the same time, some cities just get in your blood, and no matter where you end up going, you always miss them. Well, only one way to find out.

Two shots facing downtown from the rooftop of my apartment building in the Goose Hollow neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How people in science see each other

I can confirm that most of this applies directly to people in the humanities as well.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hummingbird video

I just uploaded my first YouTube video—it's a little under two minutes of hummingbird nest-building activity, shot about a year ago in California with a dinky Sony DSC-W30 mounted on a tripod:

Hummingbirds are awesome.