Notes from a dork

Recently, on the open interweb where students (who are protected by FERPA) feel the need to publicly rate their teachers (who need none, so seek no protection, and work insane hours for low pay because teaching is so much fun), I was described as “a little dorky.”

Me. Dorky. Really?

To investigate the accuracy of the statement, I looked up the current meaning of dorky and found this: socially inept, awkward, unfashionable.

Let me dissect this mush. I stand in front of 120 students at a time and talk for hours. Maybe that’s what socially inept means now–the willingness to make eye contact and speak. I do so in clothes I like, that are comfortable and likely unfashionable, but I don’t care what you wear, so I’m surprised you care what I do. Perhaps I should be more offended. Go ahead, you can be offended for me, but I’ve been at this for decades and have seen the cycle: Years after graduation, students grow up and regret their actions. Some even come by and apologize. They know not what they do when they are young and unemployed. Some do not think of their professors as fellow humans, though we perceive the best of our students as the great hope for the survival of humanity.

Anyway, this proud geek/nerd/scholar couldn’t stop at one source, so I continued on my quest and found another definition: stupidly foolish, inept, clueless.

Now wait a minute. What might I be clueless about? Atomic theory? Organic reactions and rates, oxidations, nucleophilic substitutions, kinetics, equilibria? Transition states, Newman projections, stereochemistry, molecular shapes, bond angles, hydrogen bonding? Ah, nope.

Maybe I’m clueless about things I don’t care about. In that case, clueless might be the perfect platform on which to choose how to live a life. But I plead not guilty to “stupidly foolish” and “inept.” Those words are my antitheses; I am smartly serious and quite ept.

And on to a third source, to satisfy the statistician in me: In slang, I found dork to mean nerd (guilty) and jerk (nope, not me. I’m nice. I care. I work hard. I show up. I’m honest. Maybe you’re just petrified of strong women. Try to outgrow that.)

So after some spreadsheet work with multiple scatterplots and best-line-fit analysis, I am self-diagnosed as 57.9% dork, which makes me maybe dork-ish. I’m also 50% Irish. 25% French. 25% mutt. 100% female. 98% stubborn. 32% angry. 84% content. 98% curious.

Don’t pin a label on me. It won’t stick. And I won’t do it to you.





Please, brain, stop thinking for a few hours. Let me sleep. Thanks.

What wakes me up at 2 am? My brain. Actually, small molecules and synapses in my brain. Normal people (who are asleep right now) probably call them thoughts.

The old brain just can’t downshift. It won’t stop thinking. About everything.

Like when you type the word brain, you automatically add a g, because of the “in“.

Like my work-in-progress (aka my book)–how to distribute that section that Jim wants spread across the first 57 pages.

And the next book. The characters. The plot. The desire to write it (NOW) instead of finishing the other one, or sleeping like a normal person.

And I really need a good word for WordsWithFriends.

And more and more and more thoughts about. . .

The future and the past.

Decisions to be made and secrets to be hidden.

Sore knees.

Infinite hopes and worries.

Fear of war and incompetent leaders.

Need ice cream.

Must write a blog post.

Need to hush that barking dog, quacking duck, snoring man.

Must flip the hot pillow. Cover the cold feet

So thirsty. Must deal with opposite of thirst.

Must mentally compile tomorrow’s list.

Must worry about things I cannot control, so when they happen, I’m ready (but so sleepy).



He adored me

A mother is a busy person. Her life revolves around keeping the children alive. Feed them. Give them gingerale and hugs when they’re sick. Make them wear pants and change their socks. She keeps the children clean(ish) and presses manners down upon them with a mallet. I’m a mom, so I’ve done all these things.

But despite all the effort from the mom, there’s something magical about a daddy.

Our daughters adore their father. I’ve shared him with them because I relished and snuggled under a blanket of adoration from my own father.

Dads.  They go to work. They mow. They play. They watch sports. The get sat upon. They receive running hugs. They sneak us a cookie. Or a dollar. Or the car keys. They teach us to juggle and they tickle. They work for smiles.






perhaps we might remember to think

A blog post, Tweet, Facebook post, or even a road sign can be effective if you agree with it, or if it makes you laugh. But sometimes the best ones are offensive. They sting a nerve. These can make you think.

For example, here’s a quote from a roadside sign in front of a rural church:

“If evolution is true mothers would have more than two hands.”

At first I was struck by the missing comma. Then I kept thinking.

My mind paused to ponder the possibility that it was a joke–perhaps it was supposed to be funny.

The brain sent molecules equivalent to a snicker of doubt. Nah.

Perhaps the strange sentiment was posted to remind all sons and daughters to hold our mothers in high esteem, to honor them while accidentally revealing Mr. Sign-Guy’s lack of comma skills and misunderstanding of science.

This made more sense but what if the author just didn’t like commas, or Mr. S-G couldn’t find one for the sign, and had never had much of a relationship with his mom? In that case, this sign would be intentionally poking at evolution, a well-supported scientific theory, one that scientists fully acknowledge and believe, and will consider to do so until it is disproven, in a way that has no correlation to choosing to believe in something, like religion, based on faith. Because you’re told to. Because you’re afraid not to. Because the belief is perceived to be stronger, truer, and more sacred when embraced blindly.

Surely we would not have the ability to reason and think and test and reconsider and argue and retest, but be expected to choose to forgo utilizing these tools. Such a system would be poor design, when in fact the brain is incredible.

All scientific theories are bashed like piñatas by scientists. We hack and poke and probe and doubt and search for other options. We think and test and argue and test some more. If a genetic anomaly in females produced an extra hand which was handy for all of the things a mother must carry and fix and cook and wash and push and hold and heal and scratch, and that genetic anomaly became the rule, are we really to believe that single oddity would help the religiously faithful finally comprehend the beauty of evolution? It would seriously take something that blatant to flip the switch to stop the stupid?

Hmm. That church sign really got into my head.

But on the other hand (since I am a mother, I do have many), it was more likely just a sweet tribute to mothers, and supposed to be funny. I just didn’t get it.

(And probably the comma blew off in a storm.)