Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Every now and then, the little squirrel gets let out of her cage at work. This past week, I got to participate in a two-day faculty retreat which was held at USC's research and teaching facility on Catalina Island.

This facility is on the opposite side of the island from Avalon, where most visitors go, and I'm told it is a rugged ride to get from Avalon to there by car. USC runs its own Coast Guard cutter-equivalent back and forth from San Pedro each day, weather permitting, to the dock of this marine institute to shuttle faculty, students, staff, visitors, and supplies. The time-pressed, wave-adverse, or well-heeled can get there by helicopter.

I had visited once before just for the day, so I knew that this was no mere field station. In addition to the labs, classrooms, dorms, and faculty apartments, the college of letters, arts and sciences (of which I am a part) installed a cluster of executive-quality "houses" a few years back, ideal for retreats such as the one I attended. I was going to show you a photo of those houses, but it would have looked like a Tuscan village and you would have never known we were on Catalina Island. Instead, here is the view I had on an early-morning walk, five minutes outside of the institute.

In a bald ploy to ensure I am invited back for future retreats, I brought along two large containers of my super-duper chocolate chip walnut cookies and peanut butter blossom cookies, the favorite of many Colburn recital receptions. The ploy worked. In fact, the faculty and staff said if ever I wanted to bring a batch of any cookie of my choosing by on Friday afternoons, I should feel free.

We got a lot accomplished during those two days, and we participants are returning to our respective squirrel cages with long to-do lists and renewed commitment.

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