23
Apr
2017

One of the scents that is capable of immediately and forcefully reminding me of childhood is that of Honeysuckle.  Every time, I catch a whiff of the stuff, I am transported to a patch of scrubby grass and a grown up ditch, near the clotheslines that stood behind the apartments where my family lived in Oxford, Mississippi. We weren’t there very long, only two years, while my dad finished his doctorate.  Many of my childhood glimpses and snippets come from this place – I was between four and six years, then.  I remember, after the honeysuckle waned, the blackberries coming forth in full force.  Mom would send me, and whomever else was hanging about, into the overgrown vacant lots back there to hunt the berries.  I distinctly remember her always giving us a pail of water, with sugar melting in it, to wash the berries with.  Rarely did many actually make it home in those containers.

We have honeysuckle up here in North Alabama.  Only, it’s not quite as much and not quite as fragrant as it was in my memories.  But, you know how memories are, we tend to remember the good things as very, very good.  So, maybe honeysuckle doesn’t smell quite the same in reality.

We went down to Auburn this weekend to see some baseball and catch The Tempest at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (very good – go).  In the evening, after the game on Friday, we were strolling across campus to my daughter’s dorm when the scents hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s warmer down in Auburn, and the honeysuckle was in full bloom. The heady scent was just like I remembered it.  And to add to it, there were quite a few tea olive bushes around (at least I think it is what they are called, or something similar).  They have an extremely sweet perfume.  When I first encountered them in New Orleans, I always thought someone nearby had overdosed on some overpowering Giorgio, but eventually, I figured out it was the bushes.

I love that smell.  I miss it.  It always makes me feel happy.  I just stood there in the cool evening breeze, letting it waft over me and carry me back to my Freshman year on Tulane’s campus.  I almost cried.  I cannot believe my youngest is in college. Where did the time go?  It was just yesterday, I was tromping through briers, cutting up my shins and knees, picking blackberries.

17
Apr
2017

The boy in my family is forever trying to convince me to take up whatever fantasy, roll playing, and/or war game is the tops du jour.  He is convinced that I will love it.  However, I know that I just do not really have all that much free time, and I don’t want to spend it in front of a screen.

So this past weekend, I opted to go on a hike.  I took my doggie because none of the boys in my house wanted to go outside in the real world.  Unfortunately for me, I had a little mishap that ended with a sprained ankle, a bump on the head, a swallowed spider web, and an encounter with a rattlesnake.

I am starting to wonder if maybe, the boy has the right idea in spite of my objections.

Nah. I’d still rather play outside.

UPDATED to add this photo of the hiking buddy!

IMAG0902

13
Apr
2017

Because I always seem to be so busy these days – aside, I thought I was told that less busy was the norm when the kids become more independent – I seem to have tons of trouble even remembering what I was going to write about. Often, I have good ideas, quick turn around topics, and such, but if I do not capture the details right then, it is going to be very difficult to recreate later. (One of the “perks” of aging – I cannot remember a damn thing anymore!).   So, sometimes I will create a draft in WordPress, jot down a few lines to hopefully jog my memory later.  Only, I am not sure if that is really going to work.  I am perusing my rough draft folder, right here, right now.  I am not really sure I wrote ALL of them.

The top three items in my folder right now are:

3 for 1 Sale at Gangsters are Us:  I remember that one. It’s a photograph of three people who wore the same gangster costume to one of my sister’s murder mystery parties.  That party was more than 6 years ago!  The photograph creeps me out a little bit, because I was cross-dressing that night and was actually one of the three gangsters.  It’s weirdly eerie how much I resemble my late father in it – rather tough for me to put it out there. So I won’t.

Blame Game: This one is from January of this year, so it is fairly recent.  I even wrote several bullets, apparently to remind me of what I was so stirred up about.  There are nuggets like social warrior nut jobs and celebrity worship culture.  But, I have NO idea what it was about.  Nothing.  Not a sliver!  Maybe it will come to me.

Watching a Human Give Up:  I absolutely know what this is about.  There was a moment where I saw in my mom’s demeanor that when she received her cancer diagnosis, she completely shut down, and I knew she was giving up on everything.  What surprises me, in hindsight, is the date of the draft.  It’s August 10, 2015.  That is maybe the day or very soon after the day that we learned how bad it really was.  So, it was at the VERY beginning of a very long and difficult year for everyone involved.  Wow.  That one hit me hard, in the gut.

I hope you enjoyed the brief tour of what is jostling about in my brain.  Have a great weekend, and if you are blessed as we are this week in North Alabama, enjoy the weather outside.

6
Apr
2017

I am often asked by students to provide them some career advice.  Most of these questions are very generic, indicating that they really have not dived much into their own research.  My favorite (or perhaps, most irritating, really) is: “What career advice can you give me?”

Well.  Advice number one: Don’t ask vague open ended questions like that to any potential employer.  Be specific, be precise.  Ask questions during the interview. Do some research about the company and / or the type of projects they have been involved in.  One of the best questions a potential new hire asked me once was “What obstacles did the company have to overcome to grow from XXX to YYY employees over the past three years, and how can new employees contribute to that?” At a minimum, the question told me the recruit had actually read the company’s history; additionally, it clued me in to an element of ambition.  The student was already thinking about the big picture in business.

Advice number two:  This is my most critical piece of information that I can convey, and 95% of people will not take it.  Become an expert in your field.  No, correct that. Become THE expert in your area.  I don’t care if your first job is developing webpages in javascript.  Become fluent.  Read.  Be apprised of upcoming shifts in popular technology.  Curiosity, and the ability to research and act on it will enable you to transition from task to new task quickly and efficiently.   Do not just try to learn the basics needed to perform your job (or class assignments).  Learn as much as you can.

It’s April.  Spring has sprung.  Good luck in your job hunting, padawans.