Close up shot of young leaves of tea plant

Backyard Wildlife College Newsletter 2:1 (2019)

“More than just fluffy bunnies”

(Backyard Wildlife College, Allentown PA, est. 2017)

Infrastructure improvements at Backyard Wildlife College

On Friday evening, we arranged for some improvements to the infrastructure of the College.

With the fear of frosty mornings a few weeks behind us, the little patio was repopulated with its usual sojourners: a small selection of herbs, a couple of succulents, and a growing collection of carnivorous plants.

We opted for an experiment in full soil growth, with a random mix of herbs and flowers, including some rescues.

1. Petunia. A freebie that was table decoration during an open house at Muhlenberg College, rescued from oblivion at the end of the session.

Small petunia in full soil

Petunia

2. Lemon Bee Balm: useful for all sorts of things apparently, but let’s first see if it grows and provides some flowers for the bees and bumbles on the BWC campus. Continue reading

Knit happens! Unbelievable, but here is an FO!

Yes, I am now known as “she who knits during meetings” and I have to say it is one way of keeping my ears focused on meeting materials. My meetings are always productive, and in cold meeting rooms I can keep myself a bit warmer than my other female colleagues, with a sweater or afghan in progress on my lap. Wool for the win!

Ja, ik ben intussen gekend als “die die breit tijdens vergaderingen” en ik moet zeggen dat is een van de manieren waarop ik mijn oren kan toespitsen op de vergadermaterie. Mijn vergaderingen brengen dan ook altijd resultaat, en in koude vergaderlokalen kan ik mezelf wat warmer houden dan de meeste van mijn vrouwelijke collega’s, met een trui of deken op mijn schoot. Gered door de wol!

These socks were not exactly large enough to do so, but they are a tangible result of a few faculty and department meetings. I think I also had them with me during AAS.

Deze sokken waren niet echt groot genoeg om dat te doen, maar dit is wel het tastbare resultaat van een paar faculteits- en departementsvergaderingen. Ik denk dat ik ze ook tijdens AAS mee had.

Yarn is Into the Whirled, Pakokku sock, “Snow angels with an ood”, knit on 0/2mm circular needle. 72 stitches cast on, 2×2 ribbing for a while, then plain stockinette and my go-to sock pattern that’s mainly hiding in my head. Made for me.

Garen is Into the Whirled, Pakokku Sock, “Snow angels with an ood”, op 2mm (US 0) rondbreinaald. 72 steken opgezet, 2×2 ribbelsteek voor een eindje en dan gewoon jersey en het gebruikelijke patroon dat ergens in mijn hoofd rondzwerft. Gemaakt voor mij.

Socks in almost self-striping pattern of dark and light blue

America, we need to have a chat…

It’s about time. I’ve lived here almost six years now and you keep giving me these weird surprises. Like this:

Amerika, het is tijd dat we eens praten. Echt praten. Want ik woon hier al zes jaar en je blijft me maar van die rare verrassingen geven, zoals dit:

Large glass of orange liquid topped with whipped cream, claiming to be an orange cream shake
Advert for an Orange Cream Shake, not my cup of tea!

A larger than life picture of a massive glass of orange cream shake in the weekly adverts. Not even a milkshake, but a cream shake. It’s almost on a par with mint chocolate.* Is it just me?

Continue reading

The best-laid plans…: Dealing with “demons” that interrupt planning

I have this irrational habit of procrastinating by reading how-to-get-organized books and articles. I am always looking for the holy grail of productivity, and although I know it doesn’t exist, it hasn’t stopped me from going “oooh! Shiny!” when I see something interesting or new I haven’t heard of yet, and then reading all about it.

In the end, it always comes down to the same list of recommendations: keep track of what’s going on or needs to be done and don’t keep it in your head, review regularly what you’ve got on all your lists, break the large projects into small bites, and begin doing something. That “something” should in my case not be “read more things that might get you unstuck” because I am not really stuck, I’m just lazy and sometimes lack internal motivation. Nothing quite like a deadline!

This spring break I am reading How to Make it All Work by David Allen of How to Get Things Done/Getting Things Done fame, and Joli Jensen’s Write No Matter What came through Interlibrary Loan the other day and they complement each other nicely.

Continue reading

New site, old site, hiccups possible

Ads on the blog should be a thing of the past now I run this site through our BergBuilds project. Overall, everything you found on the old wordpress site should show up here, too.

In the process of migrating content, a few links may have stopped functioning. If you find one, let me know and I’ll try to fix it.

For the moment, the old site will remain, but no new posts will appear there anymore. Please adjust your bookmarks.

Renaissance Music at ‘berg: A Brief Review

We are into the final third of the semester, and all the work the students have been putting into their performance courses is bearing fruit. Concerts galore! Free concerts, on campus, no less. What are you waiting for?

Tonight the spotlight was on Collegium Musicum, an ensemble that allows students to explore music from the Renaissance and Baroque. It is amazing to think that we have this semester eleven talented students on campus who are sufficiently interested in this type of music (“old and dead” to many) to dedicate their Thursday afternoons to weekly practice, under Dr. Ted Connor‘s expert guidance.

Yesterday’s concert was big, electric, exploring (and exploding into) the space of Egner Chapel in search of optimal acoustic effects, with repertoire that roamed far and wide through space and time. The approach to today’s concert Continue reading

Choir Music at ‘berg: A Brief Review

If you are a member of the Muhlenberg College community and you weren’t in Egner Memorial Chapel on Friday night, what on earth were you doing that was worth missing this fantastic concert from the Women’s Ensemble and the Chamber Choir? The work that Dr. Chris Jackson has done in three semesters with these two groups is phenomenal, and this evening the students showed how versatile they are as performers. If you weren’t there, you missed out BIG TIME. (Disclaimer: Chris and I are in the same “cohort” of 2017 incoming faculty, I may be a bit biased, but it’s still darn good choir conducting and programming.)

During the concert both choirs made clever use of the chapel’s physical space, singing from Continue reading

Creepy Crawlies: Survival tips if you’re caught indoors

To: Creepy Crawlies

From: InInEx Club (Intrepid Indoor Explorers)  (motto: “Because it’s there!”)

Safety tips for indoor explorers

A small team of our intrepid insect and arachnid explorers has been exploring the indoors area of the human dwelling. They have, at risk of life and limb (mainly life), assessed the dangers and possibilities for successfully surviving an indoor encounter in flat Nr. 1. Thanks to the courageous behaviour of these heroic crawlies, we now have a much better understanding of the situation indoors and can offer some advice on how you stand a chance to get out of there alive. We await further news on the other flats in the dwelling and will update you as soon as we can.

What we know: Continue reading

Newsletter 2 from Backyard Wildlife College

“More than just fluffy bunnies”

(Backyard Wildlife College, Allentown PA, est. 2017)

Newsletter 2 (July 2018)

Hello all, and welcome to newsletter 2!

The College has lots of exciting news about new arrivals spotted on campus!

IMG_6296

Ms. (or Mr.?) Fox was seen walking through the back alley about a week ago, and again a week later running across campus pursued by the Crow Airforce Acrobatic Team. The College has not received further news about Fox’s intention to join the Division of Furry Creatures, but we are open for negotiation. We realize that increasing species diversity may bring tensions, in particular when carnivores join the faculty or will serve in functions already occupied by current members, but as our motto makes abundantly clear, we are not in the business of enhancing the “fluffy bunny view” of nature.

Speaking of fluffy bunnies, a Visiting Assistant Rabbit has been appointed! Following several early morning campus visits, Continue reading

Note to Creepy Crawlies Division

To: Creepy Crawly Creatures Day and Evening Schools

From: Council of Fauna, Allentown Backyard Wildlife College (BWC)

Concerning your relations with humans:

The College kindly but urgently requests you to stop trespassing on human property, and in particular in the kitchen of flat Nr. 1, where ants have been found holding foraging labs. The team leaders have been notified that the nuclear option is on the countertop and fully deployed. Members of the Ants Department should refrain from seeking entrance, for their own safety and that of their colonies. We remind you that the College does not offer an “Indoor Ants” programme, and it never will.

Furthermore, there has been a request from the College’s human benefactors for the Mosquito Aerial Programme’s buzz training and target landing trials to take place away from the college perimeter where it meets the human dwelling. Other targets for practice are available elsewhere.

While we all appreciate the Creepy Crawlies Division is numerically the largest and among the oldest parts of any BWC, and that Allentown is the new home of the brown marmorated stink bug, that should not give the Crawlies license to display such inconsiderate behavior towards others. It sours the relations with the off-campus community and gives the entire College a bad name, and destroys the hard work from Furry and Feathered Creatures in community engagement.

rabbit

Professor Bunny captured here in the glamour role of Most Favoured Furry.

The arachnids should under no circumstances enter the human dwelling. There is a zero-tolerance policy because it is apparently impossible to tell which of you might be poisonous. We have been reliably informed that every single one of you found inside will be eliminated. Even though everyone at the College knows that none of you are dangerous to humans, we regret that no amount of education seems to help with this case of rabid arachnophobia.

firefly on a book

A firefly taking part in the “Lighten up” action, providing much needed reading light to members of the off-campus community.

In more upbeat news, participants in the “Outside Ants” program and “Drawn to the Light: Night-time Flight Navigation” course have been commended for their non-intrusive behavior with the human visitors to campus, and in refraining from entering the human dwelling even when the backdoor opens (with the exception of a couple of bamboozled fireflies). The College hopes that other programs and departments of the Creepy Crawlies Division will follow their example.