Saturday, December 22, 2007
So my school work is done, I just have grading to do. I'd be feeling pretty good except that Paul's cat, Monsieur Willy, had to be put down today. SHNIFF.
He'd been off his food this past month, though still strutting around yelling. We babysit him a couple weeks ago, and he was okay. But today Paul found, just before going to work, that Willy was acting different. He asked us to check on him--Fernando went over, and was concerned that Willy seemed to be in pain. He thought it best to take him to the vet.
Myriam's in town, so her mother drove them all down to the emergency vet in the evening. And the long and short is that they, in conference with me on the phone, and later Paul on the phone, decided it was probably best to put him to sleep. (Me balling away on the phone while trying to get out my opinion to F.) At least I got to give him some last pets before he left--I had a feeling this was how it would go. He's an old cat, and he just had that Death's Door look about him.
Even if he'd had something semi treatable (the vet thinks he was diabetic, and maybe other problems, so it wouldn't have been a simple treatment) he still would have had to be kept at the vet's for a couple days, to have an IV to rehydrate. I thought that would just be too awful for him. Cats HATE being away from home. How terrible to put him through trauma, only to have to bring him in again in a couple months, and still put him down. Instead, we figured, he's only been feeling sick a short while, he hasn't reached the stage where he's totally unresponsive to everyone (it's really sad to see an animal get to that point), he was sitting calmly on his velvet blanket with F and M petting him... it seemed like this would be the best way to go. Even for a human, non?
Oh la. Poor Fernando. He just LOVED that cat. Willy was one of the nicest cats I have ever met. So calm, so sweet, so friendly. We would have loved to take him, but... that would have set off the Meowee East again.
Even so, when F brought back our cage with the blankie, I wasn't thinking and set it down on a chair, and Sherry took ONE sniff and... FIVE ALARM FIRE!
Hiss! Hiss! Growl! Moan!
Haley of course gave as good as she got. I isolated her before she got really offended. Then locked up Nombly, while Sherry hid behind a bin hissing. I threw some niblets at him, and left him alone til he was ready to emerge.
And now, all night, he's totally accepting of Haley but he thinks Nombly is a new cat (just like whenever we bring N home from the vet.) I don't know if it's because Haley made it pretty clear that she was still she (HISS YOURSELF ASSHOLE! -- Oh, ya, that's Haley alright) or if it's because N looks like Willy, and Sherry knows Willy's smell. Or option C., Sherry's just a big dumb jock... which is the most likely reason.
Whenever Sherry hisses at N, Haley doesn't even get threatened (as one would expect), she just looks startled. "Dude... are you kidding me? Even I know Nombly, and I haven't lived with him ten years."
All this to say... taking Willy in would have meant another year of Meowee East negotiations.
Oh la. Anyway... poor Silly Willy. I'm going to miss that damn cat.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I've never managed to read a Dickens cover to cover, except Christmas Carol, but I've discovered that I love watching them. I'm watching Martin Chuzzlewit while sorting and entering grades, and it's just so great. Dickens was capable of creating the most fantastic characters! I really fell in love with his abilities when I watched Bleak House, and Chuzzlewit is also wonderful. I love sweet, bald, little Mr. Pinch! And I love old Chuzzlewit.
Sigh. Tomorrow it's back to Indonesia and the female workers. Well, at least they've given me some ideas for my own story.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I'd love to go out and walk down the hill, get some groceries, get a little movement... but I have to get this blasted grading done, and it takes so long... I can't interrupt myself for more than 30 min/1 hour, or else it's too hard to get back into it.
Monday, December 10, 2007
It's like my body doesn't want me to be an academic--it's all "oh she doesn't need blood in her head, let's take it from there first."
It sucks. I'm a bad blood giver-er. I drank two Nalgene bottles of water between 6 AM and my treatment around 9, and still... still! The passing outness. And I have small veins too--my vein was very uncooperative today, she had to squeeze the line to make it flow. And then they make you wait around cause they're afraid you'll leave and pass out somewhere in the street, your head stuck in a cold, wet snowbank...
So all in all this hospital trip took 6 hours out of my day. That's almost an entire Harlequin novel. (Between bus rides, waiting around, laying around being phlobotomized, I read almost the whole Jennifer Crusie book I started that morning.)
I'm a blood failure. I feel so ashamed.
Monday, December 3, 2007
When I was a teenager I started a small collection of bookmarks with self-esteem poetry on them--I've probably blogged about that before. I used to read them like affirmations, or if I was feeling crappy, or nervous about something etc.
Those poems are corny, they're not Great Art, but they do the work, ya know? And once in awhile someone manages a new one and people go crazy for it, like the Wear Sunscreen editorial, or REM's Everybody Hurts, or Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance." People go crazy for these things either because it helps them through a suckitudinous time, or because they recognize the ideas being expressed and know they're true. And they're better when put to music, because Voltaire was right when he said "Anything that's too stupid to be spoken, is sung." (Lucas' horrible love scene writing would work great in a musical.)
Wear Sunscreen has yielded a lot of Advice for me. When I walk around McGill looking at the 18 year olds, I know that part from Wear Sunscreen is totally right: "Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked."
EVERYONE is gorgeous at 18, they really are. No joking. The other one I quote at people ALL the time is: Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, and don't put up with anyone whose reckless with yours." Sheesh that's good advice that people need to remember more often. And the one I tell myself: "Do one thing every day that scares you." Okay, I don't follow it, but you know... I try.
Now, I'm not crazy about "I Hope You Dance" from a tune perspective--it's just ok. But lyrically, it's a bookmark classic. I gotta give it my nod of approval. It's the chick version of all those "get in the game of life!" sports analogies.
Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance lyrics
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
The other thing on my mind concerns the books we read for this same class. This year the prof assigned a lot of "great works" so to speak--we read a lot of the classics of social science: Popper, Kuhn, Skinner, Foucault, Marx are those that come to mind (and I had to write short papers for all of those weeks). These books were a joy to read. You don't have to agree with what they're saying, but there is something so fabulous about reading an author who has really gone to the table and given it their all.
This came up in the meeting I organized on methods, where one prof said (and all agreed) that you have to do what you're passionate about, because that's what, in the end, makes for potentially great work--as well as making you happy. And I thought--that's exactly the same in the land of fiction; they warn you to stop trying to catch trends, and just do what you love. And I assume that rings true for most professions.
I read (ahem sped-red) Das Kapital for the first time this weekend, and it was incredible. I loved it! One minute he's all dry and logical and slowly, meticulously laying out this argument to the point of making you shout "enough! I get it!" and then he has a passionate outburst about the evils of capitalism. And no wonder, because then in another section he'll give you this minute description of the terrible working conditions of the time--of a man carrying his 7 year old son to work a 16 hour day in a factory, and he has to feed the child while he works because he's not allowed to take a break.
On the flip side, that's why I love to read Ayn Rand too. And I loved Imagined Communities. And Thoreau. All these people can be critiqued, they're loved and hated--but the thing is, this is great writing, great research. These are the Mozarts, while most of us will be Salieris. But there's something nice about being Salieri too--watching genius from the sidelines. Reading these works is like listening to great music, there's an intellectual exhilaration to it.
In reference to writing good social science, the best way my prof could come up with to express it was--you gotta give'r. I'd never heard this before seeing FUBAR, so I guess it's an Anglo-Quebec thing. But it's the perfect expression. Marx knows how to give'r.
So all this to say. Enjoyed some good books this year. And the next time I'm at work and I see a new scheme for increasing sales per hour, I'll just be thinking: Hmmm increasing the surplus value from the labour commodity... I see I see... Puts me in the mood to read Dickens.
I'm in the Islamic Studies library - it's one of the prettiest, and one of the quietest. I'm supposed to be grading papers, but my mind keeps wandering off to a couple things.
First--our prof is the Director of Grad Studies, and very active in the department (improving it, etc.) So he was asking our feedback on the course, and then on the department. I brought up the whole TA problem, where we have this agreement to work 180 hours, but a lot of profs don't know how to manage that properly etc. Bla bla bla. We were talking about how long it takes to grade papers, and the prof was saying you shouldn't put any comments in the paper, just give summary comments at the end. And I noted that at the 200 level the writing is really, really bad and they need enough feedback to improve for the next level.
He disagreed, in the sense that we're not here to teach writing, we aren't qualified to teach writing - we're qualified to teach political social sciences. Point taken. I, of course, consider myself qualified to teach writing ;-) but in principle I agree that once you get to university, you should already know how to write.
There are two problems, though. One is--clearly there's a problem at the level of either Cegeps or high schools or whatever. Two--there aren't good enough resources for students at this institution, and that's even been recognized. The writing center gives courses, not tutoring; and you can go for tutoring, but I don't know how much that pays--plus, apparently they're often short on people to do copy-editing etc. Anyway, I only learned about the tutoring option last week, so it's something I would suggest to students in future.
There are some other problems, but I'll leave it at that. I still feel the need to give some feedback at the 200 level, in the papers themselves, so that anyone who cares to improve (and that's not everyone) can... but within 30 minutes per paper. But really. The writing is so, so poor at this point... I think a lot of professors who haven't graded a 200 class in a long time would be shocked.
The other thing on my mind is a different topic, so I'll start a new entry.
Monday, November 26, 2007
My first Christmas song purchases this year...
"Calling on Mary" - an original song from Aimee Mann
Allison Crowe's 6 song album - this is stripped down and very un-produced, which is its appeal. (As a work friend said the other day, there's something different about hearing music the way it comes out, as opposed in post-production.) She has a full album as well.
"Mary Mary" Harry Belafonte - I'd actually never heard this song before last year, by Sarah McLachlan
"Behold That Star" - The Christmas Revels -- gospel song
"Mistletoe" - Colbie Caillat , who's all In and Popular right now--I heard her first on Myspace! (Heard and thought was boring. But this is a nice, original Cmas song.)
One of these 12 songs for 6$ generic Celtic Christmas albums that you can usually buy off a booth in gift stores!
And last week I bought a couple songs off Donna Summer's HORRENDOUSLY tinny, horribly accompanied by generic keyboards Christmas album. Only for her voice, would I accept such crap. Too bad, because she does interesting things with the end of O Holy Night.
And un-Christmassy, the new Alicia Keys. I wasn't crazy about her last album, but haven't given up yet.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Today I started the Jennifer Crusie romance, which is potentially a bad idea because she will eat up my homework time. But I had all this school stuff on my mind, and I was royally annoying myself. This is the true meaning of escapism--when you need to read or watch something to escape your own mind.
I never really became conscious of the NEED for escapist literature until I had a job I DETESTED as a student painter. I would come home and read Georgette Heyer novels, and it was the only few hours of joy I had before having to go to bed and wake up to a hated job again. They helped me SURVIVE.
I couldn't read non-fiction today, to escape, cause that just would have drawn me back into School Thoughts. I tried an Oprah magazine yesterday, but all these info bits were too short to keep my mind tethered, keep it from wandering off.
The music in my mp3 player didn't work--I tried to make myself sing along with the lyrics to Jesus Christ Superstar, but The Brain kept waaaaandering away.
I tried watching tv last night,but that only worked for Ugly Betty--which is sufficiently dramatic and crazy to dominate my gray cells. But that's just one hour.
Enter: The Expert Entertainment Novel. It drew me in from the first page, and it will last for so many hours at a time, that eventually the things on your mind just fade, fade, fade away. I read it at the freezing 211 bus stop, I read it in the 211 traffic, I read it while waiting for the light to change to green, I read it while spending an hour petting Master William (brother's away for the weekend). And finally, I feel better.
... Jennifer Crusie is Calgon for the mind.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
So my school friend (more of a war buddy, really--one of the four who survived stats together last semester) didn't win Miss Canada, but she won Miss Earth! It's all very exciting. So if you see her on CBC or CTV this week, remember that I know her, and that makes me famous by association. Which is all that matters, at the end of the day.
She's been missing class for a few weeks, and oddly enough when she returns this Monday the topic will be Feminism. ;-) Presuming that she still had to do her readings while out there, the real money shot would be a photo of her reading Foucault while waiting to go on stage for the bikini contest.
So here is:
1.Twelfth of Never - Dolly and Keith Urban
(He's the best duet partner I've heard her with, since Kenny. Wow.)
2. If I Were a Carpenter - Dolly and Joe Nichols
3. Both Sides Now - Dolly with Judy Collins and Rhonda Vincent
4. Where Do the Children Play - Cat Stevens plays guitar, but I also posted his original version which I had never heard. Yikes, that man's pretty electrifying to watch!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!" (Dickens' Pickwick Papers)
So. I enjoy Christmas. When I was in my late teens my family and I attended a church that kept Old Test holidays, so we didn't keep Christmas for about 7 years--and this is one of the most beneficial things I got from that church experience. We had 7 years of collective playah hating--of trashing the materialism and lack of values of the holiday... it was a very deconstructionist period in my life. And now that that's out of my system, I can enjoy myself.
My family and I have since kept Christmas (usually in January or February, and then we called it Winterval or Festivus - the airing of grievances!) but with no pressure, no expectations, no disappointments and fights, no turkey dinner, no hours of prep and cooking and stress. Christmas became an excuse to get together and eat chips and shortbread cookies and hang. Once you strip away the bullshit, you can take a new enjoyment out of such things.
And since my husband grew up in that same church, this is something my in-laws *get* as well. I buy a few presents for my sisters-in-law and co., but it's all very low scale. The only other presents I buy are for the managers at work, and that's fun. We hang up stockings in the office and stuff them with treats and junk.
I think the other thing that kept Christmas down-graded in my life was this working retail--you just can't commit to stressful dinners and events and parties when you have one day off in the biggest retail week of the year. Fernando works at a hospital, so he only gets Cmas or New Years off. Usually I sit alone at home and watch A Christmas Carol and eat. If Fernando's home then we watch Heidi and eat veggie burgers.
So all in all... it's just a Not Big Deal. (I don't mean the commercialism and materialism etc. aren't problems. But my philosophical beliefs don't tend to drive my day to day emotions.) The first year I am no longer working for a retail store, I will do a little more than veggie burgers--maybe fly out and spend Christmas with my mother for the first time since I was, like, 16.
I love the catalogues, I love all the new products coming out, the new albums, the new books, the gadgets... I love going to the Basket Company to see all their cool crap and buy a couple stocking stuffers. I love going to 10 Thousand Villages to buy a couple decorations. I like to curl up in my jammies with catalogues and maybe a Christmas magazine. The most money we spent in past was buying the handmade decorations that Fernando's foster mother made (a big source of income for his foster parents.)
I absolutely DETEST the cold, so the coming of Christmas provides me with a sort of gentle lead-in to The Horror The Horror. Because of my behaviouralistically built in positive associations with the lights, the stories, the movies, the music, and the baking... If I have enough energy left over from school then I put up my little fake tree and decorate it. I feel all warm and fuzzy until January hits me in the face with a snow shovel.
And the final reason I love Christmas: A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite books ever, and this is the time of year I get to enjoy it. It's fun to have certain things that you only enjoy at one time of the year. I either reread Dickens, or listen to my Patrick Stewart audio while baking, or watch Alistair Sims, or Mr Magoo. And my ALL TIME FAVE audio version, with Mr Pickwick on the B side! (Ooh I'm ready to write my first hiphop-reggae Christmas song! "Mistah Pickwick on da B side...")
The nice thing about Dickens is that you get to enjoy Christmas, and honour your philosophical/spiritual beliefs. ;-)
``Spirit! are they yours?'' Scrooge could say no more.
``They are Man's,'' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ``And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy."
``Have they no refuge or resource?'' cried Scrooge.
``Are there no prisons?'' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ``Are there no workhouses?''
Friday, November 16, 2007
I'm just sitting in the empty grad lounge, waiting to leave for the train, checking for any last minute student requests before I go home and ignore the computer... turn into a zombie and eat well earned fake cheese sandwiches.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Photo: My hand blurry, because it's shaking incessantly. I seem to have developed a shake.
Now, to accompany my "Crapitudinous Week" post... here are the little things that kept me going:
[Oh wait-- forgot to mention, under bad things, that I missed taping 2 of my fave shows.]
- that my sister in law's dinner was a success
- The Police concert with my brother
- the return of the Earl Gray tea nibs chocolate bar at Snax
- discovered that The Last Chapter 1+2 are free on my cable box
- appearance of Aretha Franklin's Nessun Dorma on itunes
- an A short paper in SEA class, to counter Soroka's B+ obsession
- when I missed the train the first time, I ran into a Great Buddy on the bus
- when I missed the train the second time, I got a nice seat on the bus
- on the 211 from downtown last night I sat next to a sci fi geek and a string theorist discussing physics (when I got up to leave I thanked the sci fi geek, who was still there, for an interesting eavesdrop)
- booked the perfect room for the round table
- movie in SEA class
- the Kettle chips I'm eating
And to crown it off, when I went to Papillon to do groceries, they not only had my fake cream cheese, but have started carrying the fake cheese I used to only get at the Health Tree (which I rarely go to). OMG my grocery bags are full of cheese and bagels.
It started with my Foucault short-paper writing marathon last weekend. I loved Foucy, and it was a blast to delve back into the old modern and post-modern theories (from my Eng Lit days) -- and delve I did. To understand this boy I was referencing my critical dictionaries, my philosophy Intro Guides, and I had to use Sparknotes for each chapter of the book. The end result was worth it--so many creative ideas, new ways of looking at things etc. I'd like to read Disc and Punishment one day... ONE DAY.
But this took up the weekend and was very stressful. I barely got the paper in on time, and I'll probably just get a B+ anyway because I have NEVER been able to break out of the B+ box with Soroka. To Soroka, I'm just a B+ kinda gal.
In between all this was a reunion dinner with old church folk--the teens, most of whom were younger than me, but I knew some of them anyway. It was a dinner I promised my sister in law I'd go to (I know how it sucks to organize something, and then fear that no one will go) -- but I promised it back when I had no papers due that weekend. Then the course schedule changed, and I ended up with Foucault.
So Fernando and I went out but I had remembered the wrong restaurant. Fernando figured it out, and we crossed the street to the right one. Sigh. I made the rounds and said hi to everyone, and left about an hour later.
Couple hours later I'm back in bed with Sparknotes and Foucault and jammies. Ahhh!
Got the paper in. Watched tv I think... I was feeling depressed by then, because I knew I still had other things i needed to get on the computer and do, and didn't want to do. Couldn't go to bed til they were done! Then Fernando and I ended up in a massive argument. It's our Classic Argument. It's like Argument #3 and we've had it for 10 years. I think we manage to fix it about one increment each time... maybe in 30 years it will be gone. Or will only take 5 minutes to get through.
So then i did whatever the work was I needed to do, and then I don't know... I think I went to bed later than I wanted to. I just kept watching more and more tv. Fernando and I were watching back to back episodes about a show of a couple with 8 kids. !! I don't know... amazing what sucks you in when you're depressed.
Next day: I ate a totally crappy lunch at the cafeteria, served by a lady who was being a jerk to her employee. I guess that was the only bad thing, besides being tired.
Tue: Caught up on sleep. Did some odds and ends work that needed doing. Went to work to make up a few hours. Bleh bleh bleh.
Meanwhile I was stressed out about booking a room for a round table discussion which I organized, but which I only knew the date for at the last minute (thanks to the wonder that is Professorial Organization). That hung over me from Friday til Wed.
I just missed the train twice this week. I think I messed up the time on my watch -- I usually have it set exactly for transportation purposes, but it was no longer in synch.
One of those times was today--which meant taking the bus on a morning when the radio was all "OMG THE TRAFFIC IS SOOOO HORRIBLE!" I was 10 min late for teaching my conference. Plus 2 blocks out of my house my feet were soaked cause I forgot and wore the wrong shoes for rain. Wet socks. Wet feet. All day.
I saw about 4-5 students this week, 30-45 minutes each talking to them about the midterm, how to do better for the final, looking over their upcoming papers. (This wasn't inherently bad, I like them much -- but it takes a lot out of a gal.)
Tomorrow is this stupid round table, and of course I'm stressing about -- will people come? And how much pizza should I order? Do people want pizza? Where do I get the drinks?
Then it's back to work on Sat. And then... Sunday should be okay. Just homework.
You know. I live in a great country, I'm a rich girl, I have this nice warm home, and lots of jammies, and food to eat etc. I have friends with MORE on their plates than me, and with bad personal problems etc. But still... there's such thing as a Shitteous Week, even for me.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
But I see that Aretha Franklin has finally released an album which includes her covers of Jumping Jack Flash, and Nessun Dorma. So life can't be all bad. Where there is Aretha, there is hope.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Umm. I think I can give Rick a pass. He sounds like he's in pain while singing.
Colin's pretty zippy--he's sounding more and more like Harry Connick Jr, which is a little disturbing.
Why would I even give Rick Springfield the time of day (except for "Jessie's Girl"?) Because I just haven't been able to bring myself to do homework today. I watched Open Water on tv. Showered. Tried to sleep but had leg cramps (I've had them for three days.) Tylenol eventually kicked in and I fell asleep with Nombly on my back. Got up. Supper (spaghetti sandwich.) Watched an episode of The Last Chapter II on Illico. Watched the first episode of The Last Chapter I on Illico.
Then I did some work on adjusting my grades--so I was able to pretend to be working while watching Beauty and the Geek (excellent episode, I might add.)
And now here I am, listening to Rick Springfield's Christmas With You.
The good news is the battery on the computer will soon run out, and I'm too lazy to plug it in. I'll have to go back to my room and read homework. After I listen to this Neil Young song I haven't heard in forever.
Grading 78 exams is tiring, to say the least. I don't mind grading that much, but not in these quantities... no one can like it in these quantities. Especially when you're trying to put Helpful Comments etc. which only 1% of your students will read. At least that's the advantage to grading final exams--no comments necessary.
I still have the mini tv in here from when I was sick, so I watched Henry V and Almost Famous while doing all the technical stuff. I can't wait to graduate and get to working on my Henry V story!!
Today in my pseudo-theory course I was trying to defend the point that Fiction isn't just Made Up... that nothing can come into an author's mind that doesn't already exist. All people look at is hobbits, and they don't see how connected to the world literature is--hell, even the mass market stuff.
The topic came up because we were debating whether much of what we experience as "the brute facts" of reality is as constructed as a work of fiction. My final view was that there has to be Some sort of difference, at the very least because we've given it that difference; my example being that Israelis and Palestinians fight over UN documents more than they fight over Israeli and Palestinian literature. But I still think the lit is only another step removed away from the histories and the UN documents. If these things didn't resonate, if they didn't hold some sort of reality for us--whether it's in fantasy form, or in the theme, or in the structure of the writing--then we wouldn't read them. Art wouldn't matter to us, or captivate us.
Kind of reminds me of when I was 20 and trying to argue with my step-mother that taking obligatory English classes in Cegep isn't useless, even for an adult student returning to school in aircraft maintenance. ;-)
Well... if poli sci-ers can't appreciate how *real* Lord of the Rings is, then poopoo on them! They don't know what they're missing. :-)
(Another day you'll find me defending empirical sciences just as strongly. Really, everyone needs both an Arts and Science education!)
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
I stayed dopey all day today, but when I woke up from my post-school nap, I had the chills again. Three blankets, monkey jammies, and the space heater under my blankets--and I was like that for 15 minutes before I felt warm.
I'm okay now, except that throughout all this I've had one of my intractable headaches--the one that feels like someone is boring into my skull, and pain killers don't help. So no homework tonight, no grading--I've brought the mini tv into my room, and I'm watching my taped shows. I keep massaging my head, which helps a bit--the muscles around my skull are super tender.
Okay my battery's about to run out and I'm too lazy to plug in the computer. bye!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Before it was a tv show, Arrested Development was one of my fave bands, in the early 90s. They were like the Black Eyed Peas, but less sex more politics. Some of the songs were too self-righteous even for my righteous age of 20, but when they were On... they were on.
They have a new album out, and I'm glad to see it has How Far is Heaven, which they did a great cover of on a has-beens music show. According to this review, it's the same old problem: "The self-righteousness with which he expounds how spiritually and politically tuned-in he is would usually be enough to put you off, but when the music behind it is of such funk and rhythm, it's ok. You don't have to listen to the words."
Not to mention, rap is so dominated by gangster rap these days (K-os is one of the few conscious and popular rappers I can think of, and he's Canadian), it'll be nice to have AD back on the scene.
Bill Adler is a hip-hop historian who helped write and produce "And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip Hop," a five-part documentary series for VH1. He said Arrested Development was among the "last gasp" of a wave of socially conscious rappers who also were able to achieve widespread commercial and critical success.
"At that point, conscious hip-hop and so-called gangster rap were kind of at war with each other," he said. "I think the so-called gangster rappers emerged on top and they've really defined hip-hop pretty exclusively ever since."
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
So doctor-lady told me they aren't migraines, but chronic tension headaches--which is what I had already surmised, given my Google obsession with my illnesses. Tension headaches are what everyone gets. Mine may have been exacerbated by stress (can anyone say Stats class?), but not necessarily--the thinking is that some people may have faulty wiring when it comes to tension. Being tense is just what we do! And since tensing a muscle strains it, and you're tensing all the time, pain builds up--muscles get all crapped out. When she felt my neck and back, she said my muscles are as hard as her desk (then she rapped the desk).
Til now I've been taking Tylenol with codeine, but I knew I needed to be switched to something preventative instead, which is what they *do* with headaches. She prescribed amitriptyline, of which I will take 30 mg each day before bed--and best case scenario, it reduces my headaches to a couples times per month.
They think that the drug helps tension type headaches by changing your perception of pain, and by reducing tension. I looked the drug up, and it's actually an anti-depressant! So I'm going to have a cheerful winter. Woo! It was originally developed for people with a nervous disposition, and it makes you drowsy and sleep deeper. I'm supposed to take it before bed. But she said take it a couple hours before, so that it wears off in time for me to be able to wake up.
I took my first pill last night (and did NOT take it early) and I must say... though I woke up once because Sherry was yelling at me, I KERPLONKED right back to sleep. And when my radio went off at 10 it took awhile for me to hear it... and then I set the alarm to ring in 30 more minutes , and went KERPLONK again. This should be great fun. Between my flu shot, my happy mood, and my Kerplonking 8 hours of sleep, I will pass the winter Gleefull and Unsick!
Anyway, it will take 2-4 weeks before I see if there's a result. In the meantime, I'm going to track down a dentist who can fit me with an NTI device, which might help attack one of the possible sources of my tensing--that is to say, clenching the teeth all night.
Monday, October 15, 2007
There's this old cliche about how women become their mothers as they get older--what did Wilde say? A woman's only tragedy is that she becomes her mother, and a man's is that he doesn't. Anyway, it's scary to see it happening to you especially when you have TWO mothers.
I recently decided that since I spend half my life in my pajamas, it's time to start investing in Great Jammies. I can't be wearing old jogging pants and t-shirts all the time. So I've been buying a few as I see them on sale - right now I'm wearing cozy flannels with ice skating monkeys.
But the thing is... my stepmother always had an Excellent Jammie collection. In fact, the only good nightgowns or pajamas I owned she always bought me. And so the inexorable process of turning into my step-mother begins... Thankfully I, you know, LIKE her.
Step-mommy is not the Intellectual of the family--she leaves the navel gazing to my dad. I mean, she's a smarty-pants... she's the type who puts all her work into something, so she's the top of the class in any schooling she does. She's a pilot, she's taught flying, she took aircraft maintenance, she did art classes, and God knows what else--she was taking courses when I met her, when I was 9, but I don't know in what. She taught herself to remove the paint on doll faces and she repaints them and sells them and gives the money to an orphanage in Mexico. She packs the boxes so well, they probably arrive at the buyer's home on the wings of angels. (She has 279 positive rankings on eBay - none negative. Here's her web site.)
Step-mommy is also a gorgeous red-head with a tiny little waist, and always had a snazzy wardrobe, and long painted nails and makeup. She's probably part of the reason I can't stand it when some of my guy friends are judgmental about things like makeup and fashion--my stepmother would have on her purple belted snowsuit with matching lipstick and earmuffs, and hauling her ass to shovel the snow in the drive. Or she'd be checking the oil on her engine, with her manicured nails and her fur coat. My step-mother is Dolly Parton.
She won't be the person to get the *heavy deep* advice from--if you go to her with a problem, she won't pull out the hidden psychological meaning, or divine the subtle social realities for you. She'll be sympathetic, and then she'll tell you to stop whining and get on with your life. (She's sort of Cognitive Psychology: I don't know what's causing your problem, but here's how you fix it--stop doing it.) And you need someone like that in your life too. While I love to Process an issue to death, I think she taught me to balance that with a good attitude--a sense of when it's time to stop talking and start acting. She went in for the whole Positive Thinking fad of the 80s, and I can't say that hurt me either.
Dolly Parton's put down in song her own life advice, and this is her newest release, and it really reminded me of Step-mama. Not only is my step-mother a small town family girl like Dolly, and a Fashion Chick (though thank God my stepmommy hasn't had all the scary face lifts), but she also apparently has the same Salt of the Earth approach. So here be my Dolly-steppy song.
You better stop whining, pining Get your dreams in line And then just shine, design, refine Until they come true!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
As I stroll through my week I think "that's funny, I should blog that" but now it's all gone, gone, gone. School marches through my brain, obliterating everything in its path, aided and abetted by shnuffling nose.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
But I returned to Cheap Salon Land the last 3 times (that is, one haircut per year, because that's all I had time for), and the first two times went pretty okay--the cuts weren't exciting, but they had nice shape, they fell well. But the last time threw me back into Hmph!-land. I didn't like the way it hung, or the shape of it or her technique. To me, a good haircut means your hair looks decent even when you roll out of bed, or it dries funny. That last cut was very hit or miss, as far as Boring Hair Days go.
Meanwhile in Hair Colour land... I had gone as blondie as I could with bleach, but that meant leaving the bleach on for 2 hours, which brought my hair to the consistency of straw. So, like, vegan... but straw.
So now I've decided to leave the bleach on less long, and go back to darker yellow, which is where my roots are now; but in the meantime I have all this bright blonde hair leftover. And of course, what's the real purpose of bright blonde hair? Well, to die funky colours, of course!
Yesterday I chopped up my hair so that it has a better shape/wider bangs/more choppy uneven bits; and today I dyed the bottom layer an orangey red. I originally wanted pink, but it's Fall now, so I thought a more autumnal colour would be appropriate. And it will better match the orangeness of my blonde hair.
There's actually three colours (four if you count the two shades of blonde, five if you count the gray), because I'm also letting my natural hair colour grow out in the underlayer. I think I'm only allowed two-tone hair at work, but ummm... hopefully the dark underlayer will just seem like a trick of the light. Heh heh.
Anyway, so you can go to Facebook to see The Evolution of My Hair 2006-07.
I'm studying Southeast Asia this semester, and Alice takes place in Malaysia during the Japanese invasion of WWII, so I'm in the right mooood.
I must say I'm quite enjoying my Asia class. While I'm a bit tired, after 4 years of McGill, of talking about civil society, and the state, and authoritarianism, and democracy and the economy, etc. etc. etc. (a bit like reading 7 Stephanie Plums in a row), the prof spends a lot of time telling us about the countries. And the readings are very case studyish, and historical. I LOVE learning about countries.
If I look at a map of Europe, the countries all look like Individual Countries--because I've known people who are Swiss, Greek, Italian, Polish etc. You grow up just naturally knowing more about these places, and studying European history, and seeing European-set movies. But I hate it when I look at another region of the map, and it's just a big Blank. When I first studied the Middle East, it was just land with lines drawn over it; and I loved how, as I studied the region, it took shape in my mind. It started to mean something.
Studying sub-Saharan Africa last year was a bit tough, because most of the readings were so broad (eg. covering 6 countries at a time), so it's hard for me to Say Something about these places now. What's Chad? What do I know about Chad?? Or Benin? Or the Central African Republic? Or Guinea-Buissau? Ah well, I'll have to get there on my own.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Not sure their newest album is as good, but here's a duet from it, with the System of a Down guy.
And here - the fantastic wailing of "Les Amants."
Up this week - Gloria Gaynor, and Hall & Oates! I don't get more cheezy and random than that. But I think I'll have to pass... hold out for something truly great or truly crap.
Speaking of holidays, my cooking mood seems to have survived through September. Last semester whenever I got fed up with homework I went and baked brownies or something, and then ate them all, which didn't do my Petite Waistline any favors. This semester I still find that restlessness, but have discovered that I can quench it by cooking anything, doesn't have to be sweets. Well it can be sweets... yesterday I made pumpkin bread, and last week little low fat brownie cookies, but I'm learning to pre-wrap and freeze these things, so there's a mild barrier between cooking and scarfing.
But I also make chick pea sandwich filling, or try fake cheese recipes, or stuffed mushrooms... and I watch whatever I've taped off tv at the same time. And then I go back to my readings with my little treats. And then there's food in the fridge to take to school! It's all rather revolutionary.
So all this to say--bring on that inevitable holiday cooking mood! This year I'll be ready!!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I almost considered growing it all out now--at the rate my hair grows, I'd be able to cut out the blonde by about graduation. And then start fresh with some new ideas. But if I happened upon a job interview in the meantime, it would look pretty crappy.
So now I'm just sitting here before I have to hit the shower and rinse, and then go to schoolz. Loo loo looooo...
Myself I am very bad at kinesthetic and mathematical, though I'm okay with logic, depending how it's phrased; I'm not great at visual-spatial; I'm stronger re. musical; and my strongest areas are in interpersonal, intrapersonal and linguistic.
I like this idea, because, for example, we often don't talk of body-intelligence as intelligence. Like, if someone can cook well but knows nothing of politics, we think they're stupid; same with the "jock" who's great at sports, but maybe terrible at reading. But this approach sees these things as just different kinds of intelligence, not measured by SATs or even the school setting. Or, for example, I'm watching Beauty & the Geek right now, and the thing about the geeks is that they're very smart in math or logic etc., but often have low interpersonal skills. Or sometimes we'll know someone who doesn't think very critically, but they're just really nice... that, to me, is a skill -- a kind of intelligence.
Anyway... I think people who go into the teaching profession need to take more of an approach like this, and stop thinking of some students as stupid.
The broad spectrum of students - and perhaps the society as a whole - would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means." The learning styles are as follows:
Visual-Spatial - think in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors. Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery. Tools include models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.
Bodily-kinesthetic - use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing. Tools include equipment and real objects.
Musical - show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia.
Interpersonal - understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail.
Intrapersonal - understanding one's own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They're in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.
Linguistic - using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together. Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture.
Logical -Mathematical - reasoning, calculating. Think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The president says the measure, which would renew and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, costs too much and would be “an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care for every American.”
The bill would cover four million children, in addition to the 6.6 million already enrolled. The overwhelming majority of those on the rolls are in low-income families.
Bush wants to veto this bill, and Congress is preparing to counter the veto. What I liked was this phrase:
Administration officials said they were concerned that the White House was being hurt by televised news reports that portrayed the fight as a struggle between Mr. Bush and poor children, rather than as a philosophical debate over the role of government in health care.
Well ya, but um, that's the point right? That there are real world consequences to our philosophies? Hmmm there must be some good cartoons for this one... let's see...
Monday, September 24, 2007
Anyway, my album of the moment, from library, is a cd of cover songs of Dolly Parton. It really rocks. Melissa Etheridge has a pretty I Will Always Love You, and Sinead has this spooky Dagger Through the Heart (I like it better than the bluegrass original), and I love this version of Jolene from some unknown Mindy Smith. Parton is such a great songwriter, and you see that in Jolene. There are lots of songs about cheating in this world, but not many of them to the tune of "I know you're hot enough that you could take my man, I'm just asking that you don't!"
I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man
But you don't know what he means to me, Jolene
Or The White Stripes if you prefer.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
The CTV review, the first I could find, agrees--so it wasn't all in my mind: "She lazily walked through her dance moves with little enthusiasm. It appeared she had forgotten the entire art of lip-synching."
That poor girl needs to find a new profession.
Sarah Silverman is hosting and, at least in the first couple minutes, she seemed as unfunny as usual.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
But what I've long wondered about too is how influential tv and internet and magazine ads really are. I would love to see some studies on this. I've OCCASIONALLY seen a product and thought "dude totally!" like the Bounce sheets that repel lint (cats!) or the odor fighting garbage bags. I often don't buy the product anyway, because it's too expensive; and I don't set out to find it. But if I'm in the store and see it, I'll be all "ooh there's that Bounce stuff!" (I did actually buy the Bounce. It does work.)
These cases are few and far between. Am I in the minority on this? I need to sit down one evening, record all the ads I see, and if I've ever bought these products because I saw them on tv. Usually I try new things out just because I see them in the store.
This even applies to ads I love. I love those Malibu ads, but never buy it. Bicks pickles, but I would buy generic.
Internet ads, even less. The only time I click on them is to get a handle on a site's philosophy ( is it conservative, hippie dippy, liberal, etc.)
Is it just me? Maybe advertizers are worrying for nothing.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
I read a fun article in Real Simple today - Gail Blanke "Find Your Song (and sing it)."
"I wondered where you get that kind of conviction, that you're exactly the right person to take the room, get the part, knock 'em dead? I bet it's from the music. ... We all need a song."
She believes that everyone needs a theme song, a pep-me-up, for those times when you're about to do something that makes you nervous. Or she counseled a 40 year old exec whose boss had told him to work on his communication skills: he recalled when he used to play soccer, he would sing "My Sharona" in his head on the way onto the pitch, to get in his super-star mode; she told him--well you have to do the same thing before you go meet a client! "Roger came out of himself; he became a motivator. He energized his clients, and they loved it."
I used to have my I-am-nervous theme song, but I'd forgotten til I read this article. I think it started in grade 11 when I was leaving my driving lesson. Going to my driving lessons made me queasy, and leaving them, I felt like an idiot. And I recall walking down St. John's singing to myself "I Have Confidence" from The Sound of Music.
After that, I used to sing it all the time in nervous situations. It's a great song because it's long, with lots of lyrics, so remembering it all keeps my brain occupied. And I love the way it starts with Nerves, builds into Confidence, builds into Bursting Confidence, has one last moment of Nerves ("oh help!") and then ends on one last blustery I'm-gonna-fake-it-if-it-kills-me note. I mustn't forget this again... it will come in handy for teaching.
"Somehow I will impress them
I will be firm but kind
And all those children
--Heaven bless them--
they will look up to me
And mind me!"
I guess you could have a few sub-songs for specific situations. Blanke has a client who chose a specific song for dating, after her marriage ended. When I'm on my way to an exam I sing "funky fresh dressed to impress - ready to party" by Missy Elliott.
If you have a power-song, you should Commentify me. If not... well, you should get one.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
I think I found alexa.com once before and then forgot about it. (And if you're on firefox, you can add it to your list of search sites. Do it! Do it! SO much fun.)
Look at Yahoo and Hotmail battling it out, and then Gmail's swift climb to join the ranks! (Though Gmail, Google, Blogger all give the same line--so I guess these represent the companies at large.)
Or let's see what happens to facebook and myspace this year. Myspace is still ahead, but look at that little facebook rocketing upwards!
Of course, youtube is leaving them all in the dust...
Hmm Fox looks less popular than I would have supposed. I guess Fox newsies prefer the channel to the web site. (And everyone prefers... youtube!)