:: p-dog ::

"I made a new friend." "Real, or imaginary?" "Imaginary." -- Donnie Darko
| contact leslie |
:: blogs and pics ::
Clare's pics
:: currently cooking ::
Grilled Tomato and Red Bell Pepper Soup
Why is everything better when you grill it? This soup is definitely worth polluting the air for, plus it gives you a great excuse to buy three pounds of tomatoes at the farmers market.
:: currently reading ::
The Plot Against America
by Philip Roth
Alternative history in which FDR is defeated in the 1940 presidential election and, instead of fighting against Germany & co in WW2, the US tacitly allies with them. Bad news for Jews everywhere. Good reading.
:: archive ::
:: Sunday, September 17, 2006 ::
Sad news.

After three years, I've had to put puddledog down. Tell the kids we gave him to a nice family on a farm, where he could run and play and chase butterflies. That is, if he could run without tripping over surplus skin.

Please join me at http://leslie.overt.org for future musings.

The blog is dead. Long live the blog.

:: Leslie H - 10:29 PM - ::

:: Friday, September 01, 2006 ::
Back! I'm back! Back in school, back to blogging, back from a massive shopping spree at the Vacaville outlet mall. September 1 has always felt more like the beginning of the year than Jan 1. So here I am, getting started.

I've had a bit of a blogging crisis lately--seems to be going around--and puddledog will probably be going through some changes in the next few days/weeks (/months, depending on how on top of things I am). Call it puberty.

I have a long list of things to post about. The first: my classes. School began this week, and I managed to talk myself down from the 18 hours I wanted to take to a much more sane 14, a nice mix of math-y courses that teach skills and discussion-based courses focused on education policy. Here are the winners:

Leadership and Social Change - (MW 10-11:30) My last required course for the policy school (not counting the 9 hours of thesis work in the spring). This class rose from the ashes of "Agency Management," and I can't say I mind missing that one. Leave the bureaucracies to the MPAs! Robert Reich created and is teaching the course, which is heavy on the reading/reflection and light on the workload--we turn in a total of 7 2-page papers over the course of the semester. Pros: interesting reading, engaging instructor. Cons: fuzzy topic could mean little real learning, he cold calls on people--not cool.

Education Policy and School Reform - (M 12-3) First and possible only class I'm taking in the Ed school, which I have a rather dim view of. I didn't expect to like this course enough to take it, but it seems like a good group of students, examines interesting topics, and will hopefully expose me to some perspectives on education policy I haven't paid much attention to yet.
Cost Benefit Analysis - (M 5-8) Are you sensing what fun Mondays are going to be? This course is a practical follow-up to all my mircoeconomics last year--using economic tools to assess the relative effectiveness of a bunch of alternatives. The topics we examine in class are primarily related to energy/environment and health care, but we get to choose our own subject for analysis for the final project, so I'll probably look at programs related to poverty, education, or juvenile crime (for example: determining the most cost-effective literacy or crime prevention program).

Research Design and Data Collection - (TTh 2-3:30) A partial continuation of my quantitative methods classes last year, this class will hopefully help me to look critically at others' research as well as put together my own and anticipate potential objections people will have. It seems to be a very realistic look at the role of reports and studies (themes so far: studies don't convince anyone no matter how valid and reliable; people only believe you when your conclusions confirm their opinions; and few will hesitate to totally misstate your results). I also like what I've seen of the professor.

Education Reform Workshop: Policy and Law - (Th 4-6) The law school threw together this course a couple of weeks ago, but the line-up of instructors is impressive (they include the dean of law school, the CA Secretary of Education, and Clinton's deputy chief of staff), and it's drawn quite a group of grad students from all over Berkeley. Sadly, the first class/discussion was kind of bullshit: "Who is responsible for the achievement gap?" Ummm... I have faith it will get better, though.

So that's my semester (+ 15ish hours per week working for the non-profit org where I spent the summer). More soon on what the hell I was doing in August, wedding-related nonsense, etc.

:: Leslie H - 3:58 PM - ::

:: Friday, August 11, 2006 ::
It always takes me a few weeks to realize it, but apparently I'm on blog-vacation. Like Congress, and Europe, taking August off. (Or, like this kitten, just...too...tired...)

Enjoy your last month of the summer!

:: Leslie H - 8:24 AM - ::

:: Saturday, July 29, 2006 ::
Goodtime Jesus, by James Tate*

Jesus got up one day a little later than usual. He had been dreaming so deep there was nothing left in his head. What was it? A nightmare, dead bodies walking all around him, eyes rolled back, skin falling off. But he wasn't afraid of that. It was a beautiful day. How 'bout some coffee? Don't mind if I do. Take a little ride on my donkey. I love that donkey. Hell, I love everybody.

Much to say, little time, or will. But I'll be back soon.

*To clarify: this is a poem, a prose poem. I did not write it. I do not think I'm Jesus.

:: Leslie H - 9:39 AM - ::

:: Thursday, July 13, 2006 ::
I felt a little bad about leaving you with a rant against basic human decency, so I thought instead I'd tell you about the Mexican (as opposed to Spanish) tapas I ate for dinner. Oh my goodness, this place! Who knew Oakland had so much to offer? My whole office decamped at 5 in honor of two people leaving and two people arriving, and we ordered almost one of everything on the menu. Maybe it was the 2+ glasses of sangria, or the fact that everything was flavored with the sweet sauce of FREE, but if you happen to be stumbling through Oak-town one eve, stop here and order it all.

:: Leslie H - 9:53 PM - ::

I always sort of liked the whole chivalrous door-opening for the ladies thing, but I think I may officially change my position. No one will smile at each other on the street in downtown Oakland, but working in the same building makes you neighbors of some kind, who afford each other at least some low-level civility. I like the smiling, the occasional "have a good day" hazarded on the way out of the elevator, but I just don't know what to do about the door opening. It's epidemic. I'll be moseying my way toward the main exit and suddenly notice that some man ten steps ahead of me is standing proudly by the door like a cat with a dead bird, looking at me expectantly, like "I opened this door for you, so you'd better trot right along." So I smile and mosey a little faster, say thanks, and wonder why I look like I can't open the damn door by myself. Worse is when someone closer to my age gets to the door about the same time I as do, and, clearly unsure of what's expected of him, heaves the door open and stands back grudgingly as though he's given me one of his kidneys. And then we have to wait for the elevator and ride it up together. Of course he'll stand back and let me walk in first, no matter who is closest to the arriving elevator--because you can't open the door for someone and then storm into the elevator in front of them, no! At this point, thanks to his awkward gallantry, we've simply had too many interactions to credibly pretend we're alone in the 6x6 box. But he's wearing headphones, the universal sign for Don't Talk to Me, so in self-defense I'll take out my cell phone and busily press random buttons as though I have some very important text messaging to do.

Anyway, my point is, if you don't stop it, men of the world, I might start opening doors for you, and we'll just see how you like that.

:: Leslie H - 4:45 PM - ::

:: Sunday, July 09, 2006 ::
Now Really Engaged

It only took us three months (okay, more than three months), but Bryan and I finally got it together enough to get the official engagement ring. And here it is! Snatch me bald-headed!

It's beautiful, and I love it, and my training ring, which I'm already a little nostalgic about, successfully deadened the nerves in my ring finger, so I don't even notice I'm wearing it. (Except when I look down and catch a glimpse of the giant blue rock.) I had only been wearing it for an hour before I was wrist-deep in chopped grilled vegetables, so I can testify that it stands up quite well to soiling and doesn't get in my way at all. Though Bryan says I'll have to stop backhanding him across the face when he forgets to do the dishes. Trade-offs.

We had a fabulous time yesterday in the sunny south bay. Bryan and I decended upon Doug's place with bags of produce from the Oakland Farmers Market, and I got to try two of the recipes I've been hoarding that require a grill: a tomato, onion, and bell pepper soup (recipe link in the sidebar), and grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Grilled peaches! Oh, the goodness.

A couple of pictures from last night are in our summer album, and I'm hoping to add some soon from the 4th.

:: Leslie H - 1:52 PM - ::

:: Wednesday, July 05, 2006 ::
You, Me, and Our Monkey Brains

Two links for you today--work is hectic after the long weekend. First, Clare's latest Peace Corps post: moving. Second, why no one gives a crap about things that are going to kill us, entitled "If only gay sex caused global warming." Unifying themes: irrationality, cat death.

:: Leslie H - 1:31 PM - ::

:: Monday, July 03, 2006 ::
It's been a while since my last photo-post, so I thought I'd bring you this shot I snapped in my lush, forested backyard (that is a LIE).

What's that in the treetop? Why, it's a black bear! What chased it up 15 feet of tree? Why, it's a small orange cat!

Hope you are all having as much fun on your holiday weekend as I am.

(I actually stole this from Cute Overload--god I love that site--which I think stole it from Yahoo News.)

:: Leslie H - 9:12 AM - ::

:: Saturday, July 01, 2006 ::
I got this email the other day from a former student of mine.

hi ms hall
well iam so glad
i walked the beatiful stage
so cool
next year ill be a FRESHMAN
so whats up
anything new
me nottin
just trying to get a job
well talk to you later

If you think of it like a poem, it's less depressing that he's about to start high school and can't spell beautiful.

:: Leslie H - 9:26 AM - ::

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