Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Sic transit December

December 29, 2014

It was a hard fall and it ended hard.  Every semester feels difficult, but this semester was significantly harder than most I have had in a long while.  I was teaching two sections of a new course, which means that I don’t have the routine down yet and I had to do a lot of adjusting on the fly.  (I’m generally pretty good at adjusting on the fly, but it still takes its toll.)  On top of that, one of those sections just didn’t work very well.  There were a lot of good students in there, but as a whole the class never really came together with a sense of its own identity and purpose.  There is a palpable moment that tends to come three or four weeks into a class when everyone seems to come to the realization: “We’re really here, and it’s a lot of work, but we’re in it together and we’re going to see it through to the end.”  After that sets in, even difficult classes get easier to deal with.  That just didn’t happen in this one and they remained difficult right through to the end of the semester.

 

The winter weather has set in, and the theme of the season so far is: dark.  Not terribly cold, no real snow to speak of, but just day after day of heavy, oppressive cloud cover.  I appreciate not having the clear the driveway, but it’s been hard to live through.

 

Christmas, though, was great.  E and I had our traditional “Finnish Christmas” at home on Christmas Eve.  I cooked ham, carrot and rutabega casseroles, peas, Christmas tarts, and cinnamon pulla.  We ate very well, then opened our presents around the tree (this year we took a young pine from out back; it’s a little funny-shaped and scrawny, but it’s nice and green).  On Christmas Day we drove up to Maine to be with my family for a couple of days.  That was lovely and relaxing.

Now we’re home, just waiting for the year to turn.  We have some big projects planned for next year, but I’ll write about those as they happen.  Until then, Happy New Year / Hyvää uutta vuotta to everyone!

Boston bombing

April 17, 2013

I was working outside on Monday afternoon, raking old leaves off the lawn in the spring sunshine.  I had just gotten in and was getting ready to have dinner when E. called from work and told me about the bombing at the marathon.  It was about an hour after the incident.  I turned on the radio and listened to the coverage.  It was very early and there wasn’t a lot of information, but I wanted to hear whatever I could.  Apart from going to swim in the evening, I kept the radio on for the rest of the evening until E. got home.

On Tuesday I talked with all of my classes a little bit about what had happened.  Several of my students had been in the are and one was actually running in the marathon and I wanted to give them all a chance to tell their stories.  Some people were shaken up, but I think it was good to get back into class and get their minds on something else for a little while.

E. and I don’t have many friends or contacts who were in the area, but we’ve been getting in touch and hearing from people.  So far, everyone we know is okay, which is a comfort.

It’s been a couple of days now.  After lots of rumors and speculation in the early hours, solid news is now trickling out little by little, but there is still so little we know for sure about what happened and why.  I keep going back to check the news and see if there are any answers.  I advised my students to be patient, to let the answers come out as the come, not to believe rumors or rush to conclusions, but it’s not easy advice to take.

Hoping that everyone else out there is okay.

Modestly presenting…

February 16, 2013

After much effort and many rejection letters, I am happy to announce that my first official work of scholarship is now published:

http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/10.1/forum_jensen.html

I was working on the article all last summer and I am thrilled to see it completed.

Puer natus est

September 22, 2012

We have another nephew!  Same family, third child.  We are delighted to be the overseas aunt and uncle.

Our nephew

January 18, 2010

We just learned the name of the boy that was born to E.’s brother Olli and his wife Tiina back in December, Aino’s new baby brother: Matias Onni Johannes. Matias and Johannes are common enough Finnish names, but Onni is a little different. It means “happiness” or “luck,” and here’s hoping he’ll have plenty of both in his life.

Knowing the way Finns like to make nicknames, I suspect he’ll probably be known as Matti, although one never knows for sure.