Saturday, December 29, 2007

Keeping Bridges

One recent astute observation from my father-in-law accosts me. My in-laws are visiting us this week. I had mentioned that I hadn't decided on whether to prepare the abstract for the book chapter I'd tentatively agreed to write. He said simply: well, it's always good to keep bridges open.


I've recently been urging Rocket to be accepting of all her selves, to listen to them, not too hastily reject one for another. It is complexity that makes us whole. Who really plays one role in life?

And so, I think of Trillwing's hyphenation. It's funny what listening to our advice to others can do. Right now, as I shrug off the vestment of the seeker of a professorship, it is not always easy to see without bias, to accept without acrimony, that I still do love the academy, that scholarship is a true part of my being.

I am disappointed, yes. But then, I am sometimes disappointed with my children. That does nothing to diminish my love for them. [How odd to pose myself now as parent to the academy, I who have ever been its child, lavishing in its warmth (even when that "warmth" has proven bitter cold)]. Who among us plays one role?

I think of a line from one of my mother's (rare) poems ... and the parents now appear as children...

I do pass into the next chapter of my life, but (like Kundera perhaps) I shall weave an essence through it all that binds one to the other.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I grieve

I grieve for the prospects of peace and democracy in my world. I grieve for the chances of the next generation to rise above the violence and destruction that are visited upon this planet right now.

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today.

***Updated to say***

Pakistan blames "al-Qaeda". Oh yeah... and we of course should always trust our "good friends" and "allies"... you know the ones who sold nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, especially the undemocratically elected seized "President" who immediately pardoned the scapegoat nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan...

Yes, of course, we should always trust the word of tyrants and dictators, especially when we are motivated like our "dear leader" George Bush to "spread democracy around the world."

Please! Let leadership and sanity return to my world!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Baked Mango Chicken with Rice

This experiment turned out well, so I thought I'd share it.
  • 1 cup (uncooked) rice (I opted for Vietnamese red rice).
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2-3 cups water
  • one medium onion, slivered
  • one whole mango, diced
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) carrot(s), coarsely chopped
  • 4 chicken thighs (about 1 pound)
  • Seasoning to taste (I used salt, pepper, and paprika)
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread rice along bottom of a 9 x 13" roasting pan. Pour in stock and water. Set on stove top over high heat to bring just to a boil. Meanwhile saute onions in a little olive oil (or butter). Add to rice mixture. Prepare mango and carrot; add to rice mixture. Brown chicken in onion saute pan. Add to rice mixture. About now, the liquid in the rice mixture should come just to a boil. Turn off stove, and carefully slide pan into oven. Cover with foil. Heat for 40 minutes to an hour (my chicken was not fully defrosted before I browned, so it took just over an hour). Check chicken for doneness after 40 minutes. Leave uncovered in oven for the last 5-10 minutes to brown the skin, if desired.

That's it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Holding Pattern

No, that does not describe my holiday travels. We, in fact, are staying home.

If you didn't know, there's not an airline around who'll accept to fly a woman who is 34-weeks pregnant without a doctor's order; and there are few of us who could afford the bribe necessary to get a doctor to write such an order, or the one necessary to get an entire flight of passengers and crew to pretend they don't notice. All that said, what woman 34-weeks pregnant would even want to fly?

Chanukah was pleasant and mostly uneventful. Rocket's folks will arrive to visit for a week on December 26. I've decided that I'll mostly take the week off. Hence the holding pattern.

I've realized I'm in that odd state between things where the old is not quite extinguished, and the new not yet inflamed. It's finding the energy to clear out the ashes in between that takes the most effort.

I started writing the brief bio I committed to. I'm still undecided on the book chapter. I'll yet have more than a week to deal with that after the new year.

I spent a little time looking over things. I've got a white board on the wall facing my desk that is filled with projects and ideas for my research firm. I've hardly looked at it these past couple months. I glanced over some of the attempts I had made in September, before I was mistakenly led to believe I'd be getting programming help for my proofs-of-concept. It's been eight months since I defined the first proof-of-concept, which I had initially hoped to have for August, then wished to complete by the end of the year. I've been clearing away the hurdles and debris that have been holding me back.

I back-burnered my research when the term began at Lemon four months ago; it's going to take me a bit of time to get back into a routine. But that's exactly what I intend to do. This (teaching at Lemon) was a good experiment for me, one which failed, but which nonetheless taught me something. The summer had been quite productive for me. I was excited and impassioned. I had hopes that I'd be able to continue that, while also teaching adjunct.

Now I realize that teaching (82 students as the term began, eventually dropping to 75 in the end) consumed far more time and energy than I had expected (not to mention the 9-12 hours weekly commute), and was thus incompatible with my plans to make strides in my research. When it's a choice between teaching and research, it's the latter that most drives me.

It will be a couple weeks until both Rocket and I are settled into our new roles (I, no longer the teacher; she, no longer the actively employed). I suppose just when we think we've settled, son #3 will arrive and upset the apple cart again. There are no deadlines for life. What remains for us now is to learn (once again) how to live.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Clearing the decks

My ship is tethered to shore, firmly holding against wind and waves in this protected inlet, yet like an eager horse, tied to post, awaiting freedom to fly.

I need to clear the decks, in preparation for the journey. A few weeks ago, I agreed to pen a brief (2000 words) biography of my dissertation protagonist, for a set of library volumes. It's not so much. I considered writing my regrets, and recommending a colleague (the one who got the post I almost had three years ago). But it won't hold me down too long. A commitment is still a commitment.

Then, there's a book chapter (culminating from the conference I gave a plenary address at last summer in the UK). I'm supposed to prepare an abstract for that by January 11, and a final chapter submission by end of October 2008. Should I still write it? Does it matter any more?

I wonder at these little milestones, that I used to believe meaningful, that might have served in my tenure portfolio as evidence of productiveness. Now I view it more as tying up loose ends, not disappointing those counting on my word, not cheapening my word by backing out. But they hold little meaning for me anymore, little hope that their reach shall be broad.

I am sad.

Today is different though. The sadness does not consume me. There is no depression in my heart. Resentment has left me. I am me, unadorned, free. There are choices that I have made in my life, commitments that I will hold to. I have a family I adore.

And... I have dreams, and passions. I met my wonderful wife in 1994 as we both entered graduate school. We've passed through many things since then. I wondered out loud the other night, which one my many selves it was that Rocket fell in love with. She replied that she fell in love with a dreamer, overflowing with passion and ideas.

Let the dreams begin (again)!

Pouring out a full cup

Dear Tasse,

It's been a tour. As we face the new year 2008, I've decided the tour will end. I am no longer seeking a faculty position in academia. I resigned my "part-time" position at Lemon as of the term just ended. Working 25-30 hours a week plus a 10 hour weekly commute (for $6000 take home pay!) left me little time or energy to pursue anything beyond lecture preps and grading. Teaching 75 students is not part-time work. And for such pay, and no benefits, its rewards pale against the cost.

I leave with a great deal of sorrow and disappointment. A PhD does not mean what I thought it had. The academy is not the place I thought it was. It is the temple at which I have worshipped virtually all my life, believing knowledge and inquiry to be its principals. It seems I was deceived. It's sad to leave, but surprisingly not so hard.

I've come to believe that (surely some, including you, had tried to open my eyes to this) academia is not a welcoming home for me and my ideas. Although I still love teaching, and I have no doubts that I am a good teacher (my student evaluations, and gratuitous comments, attest to that), my commitments are not compatible with what has been and remains expected of a professor of [Field 1]. I realize (in part, teaching adjunct at Lemon has helped in this regard) that most of the jobs I might have eventually gained would have left me wondering why I had struggled so long to attain them.

I will be forging off on my own, building my research into something beneficial and marketable. I am confident that my ideas are worthwhile, that I will be able to accomplish some good with them. The only questions that remain are when, and whether our savings will last us long enough. I thank you for your support and encouragement these past many years. Be well.


Dear Articulate:

Thanks for your note. As you know, I am always ready to stand behind you and your work. I know that no one has tried more than you to make things work, and I admire your courage and your persistence.

As usual, warmest wishes to you and your family.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Painful goodbye

Briefly (since it's after 1:00, and I'll be up with the boys by 7:00). I've finished grading the final exams for the second class. Now all that remains is to register grades for my first class, and calculate (and double check) the grades for this second one, then register them as well.

On both exams, the final essay question was essentially: What did you learn in this class, and how might you use that in your life and career moving forward? I asked for specifics, but left them room to expand on their real thoughts. I found it the sort of question that would force them to reflect on the term, especially important since both of my classes were Gen. Ed.

I was impressed and moved by many of the comments. Perhaps I'll share some of the pith in the coming days. I found myself in tears at times, realizing that I did touch these students. How much ever more painful it is then for me to walk away. These kids deserve a teacher like me. But I deserve so much better than Lemon (or any other institution I've applied to) has been willing to give me.

Damn, it hurts to go!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


There is an often neglected corollary to Schadenfreude, what one might call Freudensorge, to suffer at another's joy. For three years that has been for me (shamefully) a recurring condition. I say this not to defend it, nor to excuse it, but simply to acknowledge it. I am human after all. Behind the mask of strength and self-confidence I wear for myself, to convince myself that it is all worth it, that I will at long last find myself a home, a niche, a place to be, I am still imperfect.

For three years, since receiving my PhD, and being shoved unceremoniously out the door, I've been shat upon (in part I admit by my own expectations, in part I'm now convinced by my lack of whatever it takes to interview well). In all this, I remain confident of my abilities, my teaching (confirmed by my students' continuing remarks), and my research (in some ways perhaps unconfirmed, but nonetheless clear to me). And yet, three years is a long time to go with little reward, little applause. I've been lucky to have retained the love and support of my wonderful wife. Yet that too, that support (that lack of need to support myself), has been a mixed blessing, saving me from poverty, but shielding me from necessity.

I've floundered a bit, in search of my place. Three years! Application after application. I don't feel sorry for myself (at least not any more). I try not to let the anger, the frustration, the sadness consume me. It's rather futile I know. Yet it's hard to hear of others' success, their moving on to bigger and better. I wonder about friends I've lost touch with. I just looked up a blogger I used to know as Dryden. As it turns out, he has landed himself a tenure-track gig.

Is it just me? I'm sure it's not. No self-pity, right? I know that I could stick it out. Others have done it for longer, and finally achieved what they sought. I could have remained at Lemon. It was handed to me in unsubtle terms that I could stay an adjunct there for as long as I wanted. But I didn't want. I wasn't willing to hang on any more. For me, three years has been enough. I've finally accepted that the tenure-track faculty job I've spent so much effort chasing may not in fact be the right one for me. Cut your losses.

Is it failure? It doesn't really feel that way, though surely I would have like to have had a job that I might decide wasn't ideal, than to have spent so much time seeking one, only to back out now. Better late than never.

As I've advised others to do, I feel that Rocket and I are driving. We're in charge of our lives, our choices, our decisions. It's all calculated risk. But that doesn't lessen the apprehension. After three years of rejection, it's only human to be just a bit unsure of my own worthiness. This is the choice I make.

Wish me well, my friends. I promise to shirk Freudensorge, as I can.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The door is closed

I've shut the door behind me. I must say, it's quite warm on this side, without the breeze, drying me, causing myself to constantly replenish warmth and moisture. That wind has taken much from me. But it has taught me some as well. Goodbye breeze, I'll remember you. But... I doubt I'll miss you much.

I feel at the moment, not resentment, not envy, not frustration, but opportunity pure and simple. I am ready for this. These past few days, I've had the chance to reflect. Each of those emotions welled up for a time. But they've left me. What remains... is me.

Today, I took the boys for a hike. The Painter had been asking to walk to the top of a mountain. It was nice. Driving through the hills, surrounded on all sides with impressive--some gaudy, some beautiful--mansions, I was able to smile mostly, not with envy, simply perhaps... appreciation.

I don't know who lives in those houses. Many were decorated for the season (funny to see snowmen over green grass, beside orange trees). Real people live there. People with children and lives. Some of them for sure are cutthroats, making money by taking advantage of others; some perhaps inherited their money; some likely worked their way out of poverty. It doesn't really matter. I don't know them. I just see the outside of their houses, like seeing someone's jacket or their hair.

A nice leather coat looks warm. A full head of curly hair may look right or wrong. I feel no need to judge. But that, alone because I've realized I don't want their lives. All I need is my own. And that is just fine with me. Perhaps some day I will live in an impressive mansion. Perhaps not. Either way, it's not the house that will make me happy, as I'm sure it's not the houses I see that make their inhabitants happy or miserable as the case may be.

I thought I envied those friends or colleagues or strangers who had faculty posts, especially those who moved seamlessly from graduate school to professor. But I don't. And I don't resent them either. Their lives, their choices.

I think of Rocket's friend Kay. A couple weeks ago they spoke on the phone for about an hour. One thing that Rocket told me made me laugh, but in a sad sort of way. Kay (mother of two) explained that she plans to quit working for her current employer when her first child graduates from college. He's 5! She says she likes the work fair enough, but she doesn't feel appreciated there. She's been passed over for promotions several times. So... she's only going to stick it out another 13 years!

Um... words fail me. Why anyone would remain in a situation that makes them unhappy... I simply cannot fathom. I've been miserable looking for a faculty post. As I had anticipated, my stint at Lemon has been an eye-opener, a chance to get my feet wet, to see how I settled with faculty life. Truth is, while I love teaching, there is much about the job that I don't love.

Sometimes I wish to be the victim, to blame someone else for my misery. But, I'm not really happy being miserable, even when there is someone to blame. And so, I take full responsibility for my life. I've been unhappy at Lemon. It is my choice alone to leave, which (just as soon I've submitted my grades) is done.

But it's not just being an adjunct. I think about friends of mine who have those (erstwhile enviable) tenure-track positions that when I'm honest with myself I wouldn't really wish to have. What do I want? What are my priorities? I enjoyed being a graduate student. I enjoyed the freedom of it, the freedom to pursue my intellectual interests. Freedom for me. No one stood in my way. Freedom for me, because I appealed to the faculty to replace several of the program's requirements with courses from other departments, and I had an advocate in my advisor who was willing to pull for me.

For whatever reason they approved my reworked curriculum. I forged a truly interdisciplinary program, and participated fully in a cross-disciplinary emphasis (essentially a minor), which wasn't recognized by my department (thus rather than having it listed on my degree, my file includes a letter from the chair of the emphasis, the president of the graduate council, and the chair of my department attesting to my exemplary completion of the requirements). I passed my comprehensive exams; and the four on my committee approved my dissertation. Case closed. I'm a PhD.

The problem has been that in the midst of pursuing that goal, I settled into believing it should culminate in a faculty post. I coasted in the cart, expecting someone would knock at the door as it passed through towns, asking if I might not kindly come teach for them. Truth is, I'm not very good at coasting. I've learned I'm rather bad at getting my foot in doors with cover letters (though a few succeeded); and I'm even worse at interviewing for faculty posts. Funny that's what it comes down to--not whether I'm good at teaching or researching (both of which I am--I have no shame in that confidence), but rather whether I'm good at interviewing. No shame in that skill either; it's just one I seem to lack.

And so, here I am, finally, fully behind a closed door. And I stand overlooking a garden of delight, sheltered and protected in a greenhouse of my own design. Oh so much pruning and planting to do. Time to get my hands dirty (again)!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Suddenly Dad

Today, I administered the first of my two finals. Several of the students wished me well or embraced me, knowing they might never see me again, thanking me "for everything". I have yet one more final to write and administer (on Wednesday night). Then lots and lots of grading.

D, our au pair since the end of July has found a new family. We decided to forego the extension. We just couldn't justify the expense for a need we no longer felt we had. But she'll be leaving us suddenly, tomorrow! I wish her well. She was able to watch the boys today, which helped. Rocket will plan to be home early on Wednesday, so I can head into traffic by 4:30 (necessary for me to get down there in time to grab a bite before the exam begins at 7:00).

Rocket is officially telecommuting two days per week, so we'll likely both work from home on tomorrow and Thursday (I, mostly or entirely just grading), trading off keeping the boys company. I'll be on full-time dad duty during the day Wednesday and Friday, and through Thursday of next week, as she finishes up her loose ends. Friday would normally be a day off for her (still on the 9-80 schedule)... making Thursday her final day.

That's the end of something. We're all home then, suddenly! For now, I'll still keep my office, and will plan to keep plugging away on patent development and coding my proofs-of-concept. But I'm no longer on anybody's schedule but my own. I suspect I'll be content to work 5 or 6 hours a day.

We'll have time to leisurely pack over the next couple months, to purge, throw away, give away, or donate whatever we can do without. We've got research to do about where precisely we'll be moving, and about our options for moving our things. We've got to research about health insurance. I'm no longer expecting Miwla to call (though of course they may yet). I can't say that I won't be half-relieved if they don't. Then the decision is easier to make. I won't have to consider whether their offer represents something good, bad, or neutral.

In the meantime, I've been selling off equities holdings, and transferring more of our money into bonds and cash. I'd like to keep a year to 18-months liquid and accessible. If we decide to buy a place, we'll need the cash for a down-payment. We'll just have to see.

One at a time:
  • Exam #2: write and administer
  • Enjoy my boys
  • Grade both exams, final assignments, extra credit
  • Enjoy my boys
  • Register grades
  • Enjoy my boys
  • Celebrate our freedom!
  • Plan for the next chapter
  • Prepare for and enjoy the birth of #3
  • Move on
The journey is good.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I feel a weight, the weight of a heavy coat, or coat of armor, one that has embraced me, and protected me, though at times constricted as well, lifting, leaving me standing naked.

Today is my last lecture at Lemon. Part of me believes this may be my final lecture anywhere. It is a frightening event. I can't quite say a sad day. Birth is frightening as well, a great violence. And yet, there is something on the other side, a light, as well as cold air. For a newborn, there are people and love.

What will there be for me?

Perhaps I am like the fallen angels in Wings of Desire. The coat of armor will land on my head. But the colors of a world I have only ever before seen in stark contrasts will emerge.
Was ist das?
And so... I step lightly. Who knows, the call may yet come. Either way, I walk through a door.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Home stretch

I got through grading all the final projects for my Wednesday evening class. It was unexpectedly quite a pleasure to do. I had described to my students that my view of exams and assignments is that (at best) they should serve (like scenes in a good show) to propel the action, rather than interrupt it. The exams should not be simply assessing their mastery of what's come before, but should serve to further and deepen their understanding of the material.

With this project I feel that I truly did challenge the students to better understand the material of the course, to personalize it, to get under the hood so to speak. It does me good to feel I'm making a difference in their lives.

On Tuesday, at the beginning of class, I announced that the department secretary would be coming to administer the teacher evaluations at the end of the class. I said that I'd like them to be completely honest, because they'll mean far more to me than to the school, since I wouldn't be returning. There was an audible collective sigh, and a shocked, "You're not coming back?" "Why not?". I said I would take two minutes to explain, then leave it. I said that I found it abhorrent, disgusting, and insupportable that 55% of the faculty at their school were part-timers, underpaid, overworked, without benefits. I said that my choice to leave was not because I didn't enjoy teaching them, but about the institutional policies, and my personal priorities. They seemed truly disappointed, not so much with me, but that I'd be gone.

I got a nice email from one of those students today, explaining that they were all sad I'd be leaving, noting that they can all tell that I really care about them, about what they learn, and how it might apply to their lives, and thanking me for that. He said he truly hopes I continue teaching after I leave Lemon. It warms the heart. And saddens me a bit as well. For the moment, I have one last chance to continue teaching. I'm tired. If not Miwla, I'm walking away from academia, at least for a time.

One of my student's essays reported (a bit off topic, I might add) that she's spent the past 16 years in school, and how as she stands on the verge of graduating, she's a bit apprehensive about the world beyond. I know the feeling. But I've graduated, numerous times. I've walked in and out of those portals enough for the paths to be familiar. Different shapes, different materials, but somehow the same. I've heard the pomp of celebrations. And I've smelled the must of libraries. I've grown up with the computer technologies that surround us (I remember learning BASIC in middle school; I wrote papers on typewriters and "word processors"; I well recall my PC XT, on which I wrote my Master's thesis). The academy has been my world. But, when you've got one foot in and one foot out, it's only a matter of time before you step to one side, and close the door.

[I'm overcome with emotion, as I write that.]

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

When dead horses ride

I feel at times like I'm stuck in an episode of Seinfeld, where dropping hints seem to have the opposite effect. On November 19, I wrote to a couple guys I had met with back in September in response to their contact of November 18 to say:
My interest at this point is simply to hire a programmer on a contract ("work for hire") basis to assist me in the coding of some proof-of-concept tools, translating my algorithms into executables. As I've said, if all goes well, I'll have much more need for programming in the future.

I fear we're at an impasse. The agreement you sent countermands the entirety of the non-disclosure agreement ("This Agreement and any documents referred to in this Agreement contain the entire agreement between the Parties with respect to the subject matter hereof and supersede all previous agreements and understandings between the Parties with respect hereto.")

I'm no lawyer, and I don't have the staff to negotiate fine points of contract. The relationship I seek is simply translating my algorithms into executable code. The non-disclosure agreement protects my interests. I have indicated what I'm willing to offer in terms of compensation (and bonus) for your part.

The only sort of service agreement I'd be interested in signing at this point would merely specify those payment terms, and outline the programming work to be done. I'd even be willing to run it by a lawyer to make sure the interests of both parties to the agreement are satisfied. If this is not of interest to you, let me know if there is anyone you recommend who might be interested. You seem to be quite busy with your ongoing projects. I wish you both the best of success.
We spoke that afternoon, and they assured me of their interest in working for me, and promised to prepare a new work agreement by the end of the month. Of course, it was at their insistence that I allowed them to prepare a work agreement in the first place. I had never sought to hire a consultancy. I merely contacted an individual programmer who had done work for a colleague and who was recommended by him for his programming skills. He suggested including his friend, and I agreed to fly the 300 miles to meet with both of them a couple months ago.

About six weeks passed, during which I had heard barely a word from them. I had written them with the specifics of my proposal for hiring them, how much I would pay (including hefty bonuses based on the success of my business over time), and what I would expect from them. Their reply was apologetic. I intoned, in part:
I well know the issues involved in running your own business, since I've been doing it with various ventures since at least 1990. You've got to keep clear lines of communication open with your clients, focus as much as you can on the work of the business rather than its logistics (they will mercilessly suck up your time and energy).
I thought the point (boldface here) was not too subtle. I guessed wrong.

A few days ago, they forwarded me a completely different work agreement, which wasn't quite so badly worded, but which raised many red flags for me. First off, hadn't I written The only sort of service agreement I'd be interested in signing at this point would merely specify those payment terms, and outline the programming work to be done? Well, yes. But they sent me instead a six page document! Aargh!

Hence, my reply of yesterday finally cutting them loose. That as well, apparently, was not enough. I received two more emails from one of them, the one whom I had originally contacted. He first attempted to allay my concerns over the wording about partial credit that I had objected to, and asking just what a I meant by works made for hire. (Um... you ever heard of web search engines? a library? a lawyer? Do your own homework!) Nonethess, I sent him a terse email:
He responded (yet again) with commentary and quotations challenging the relevance of the cited document on copyright law for the work they would be doing (although the document describes "A software program created within the scope of his or her duties" as an example of work that falls under this category).

Frustrating. What I so much want to write back is:
  1. I hear you're a great programmer. Let me know what you charge for legal advice, too.
  2. I already have good legal counsel, thank you.
  3. I'm much better at research than at law. I try to focus on what I'm best at. Something to think about, eh?
  4. Oh, gee, thanks for the harassment clarification. I mean, now that I know you're quite adept at arguing obscure points of law, I can be assured you'd be the first to make a claim in court, should my business take off. Gosh, that's the first thing I want to do, hire someone who (what was it you were going to do for me? I mean it's been two months and I haven't seen or discussed any coding) is more interested in forging legal arguments than actually accomplishing any work.
Instead, I write it here, so I can keep silence with them, and let the dead horse lie.

First step, prepare my final three lectures, write and administer final exams, grade exams and papers, submit grades. Next step, get back to clarifying my algorithms. Then, learn C#, and do the programming myself. That'll save us an additional several thousand dollars over the next few months.

Meantime, I try not to wait too anxiously for a call from Miwla College. One way or another, we're ready for our move.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cutting them loose

Hi Q & A,

I've now had a chance to review the documents you sent over. One point of your proposal stuck out to me:
Client understands that as implementer [Firm] shall receive partial credit for any and all concepts, ideas, theories, insights, discoveries, innovations, and inventions pertaining to the work products specified in this agreement that result in a patent during or after the execution of this agreement.
On this point, I recommend you get yourselves a copy of Nolo's Patents for Beginners, (ISBN 1-4133-0455-9), which may be useful to you moving forward. In particular, p. 140 states: "if one person came up with the concept of the invention, while the other merely built and tested it--the second person is not a co-inventor."

As I wrote previously my interest up to this point has simply been a work-for-hire arrangement with a programmer, to assist me in translating my algorithms into executable code. I am sorry that such a relationship is not in keeping with your plans for [Firm]. Under the circumstances, it appears in my best interest to complete and file the patent applications that I have in process prior to hiring any programming assistance. While I had hoped to prepare the proofs-of-concept in advance of filing, these are not essential to the patents themselves, though potentially beneficial down the road in seeking clients and investors.

I wish you both well, as you move forward with your business and your dreams. I trust that you will abide by the confidentiality agreement that we have all signed, keeping the details of our interactions, and any and all documents provided by me, in confidence. If I have need for your services in the future, I will be sure to contact you.

Best regards,


Sunday, December 2, 2007


Our lives are in motion! It's rather exhilarating.

Sudden changes. The doctor suggesting Rocket take off from work several weeks sooner than planned. The term rapidly coming to an end for me.

Last night, Rocket & I had a date (perhaps the last for a while, as you shall learn). It was her birthday. We went to a nice tapas bar. The same one we visited last April. I thought it a fitting location to celebrate as some of our life plans, ones that we discussed in embryo last time we visited that restaurant, were taking form (even if more rapidly than we had expected).

Before dinner, we stopped by my office to look over our finances, and run some calculations. One thing that Rocket discovered this week was that her disability/family leave pay will be a bit less than we had been anticipating. So, we ran some figures.

One of the results of these calculations (and a re-dedication to our family priorities) was that we've decided not to extend our arrangement with D. That will save us about $6500 over the next few months. She'll be looking for a new family, and will likely leave us sometime this month. Circumstances have changed dramatically from last summer when D came to join us. We had expected that Rocket would be working through the end of January. And we expected that I would remain at Lemon until the summer. Likely we'll still have her help for the next few weeks (at least long enough to get me through finals). If not, hey, I'll take the boys with me to campus. It may sound odd, but I'm actually quite pleased with these changes. We're driving. We're in charge. We're setting our priorities, and sticking to them.

We'll both be off of work in the next few weeks, lower income, but more time to spend with our boys. Some unexpected changes, but this is a calculated and measured move. We know what we have in the bank. We know our current spending habits. We know where we can cut costs. Truth is, we can sustain ourselves easily for a year to two (even were we to remain here), but more likely we've got a good three years of expenses covered (assuming the cost of living where we're planning to move). I have no intention to come close to that red line. But it's good to know it's far off.

One thing we realized in the midst of this, is that there's really little keeping us here through June or July (as we had been thinking). In fact, the only real issue is the Painter's kindergarten which won't end until mid-June. But that alone is not enough to keep us put an extra few months.

The plan now is we stick around through #3's birth (we've actually picked out a name, but we're keeping it under wraps for now... we may change our minds), and a month or so for mother and baby's recovery. But that brings us to possibly moving around the end of March or April. The sooner we leave, the sooner we reduce our living expenses.

We are, as it were, free! The only obligation we retain is the remaining $40,000 balance on our student loans, which if we chose, we could pay off. For now, it seems wiser to continue the ~$450 monthly payment, and keep the cash in savings (just in case). We own our vehicles. We have no mortgage. And we're on the verge of tying up all loose ends. Life is in our hands.

For now, we wait to hear from Miwla College. Either way, we're priming for our move, whether near Miwla or elsewhere in that rhomboid.

As I reminded Rocket, a bit more timid and apprehensive about these changes than I: This is something I'm really good at, something I thrive with. Reinvention. We're good.

Does history repeat?

What's up with the world and it's leaders these days? First we have this idiot in the White House. I swear, every time I hear him speak, even the rare occasions when what he has to say is reasonable (like for instance a pledge to increase support to fight AIDS in developing countries) he sounds stupid, inarticulate. How in the world anyone could have voted for him, thinking him a leader, someone to be followed, emulated, I haven't the slightest idea. And his presidency has pushed the limits of consolidating power in the executive branch even more than Nixon's.

We have a rise of insanity across the globe. EU-Iranian talks regarding Iran's nuclear program have faltered. Putin is consolidating power, cracking down on opposition, and suppressing free press in Russia; Musharraf continues his farcical reign as president, having gutted the Pakistani Supreme Court which was standing to consider the validity of his election to the post he seized in a coup, meanwhile suppressing free press; Venezuela's Chavez is exceedingly close to pushing through constitutional reforms (with seductively populist changes like reducing the work day from eight hours to six!) which threaten to permit him unbridled power, and a repeal of presidential term limits, all the while suppressing free press.

You see the pattern? Is there any hope in this context of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians? Is there any chance that America will elect a true leader, who will have the wisdom, courage, and moral authority to inspire the world away from the growing push toward authoritarianism? I don't know. Wisdom, courage, and moral authority seem to be in exile. It's up to us to coax them back.