Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sleepy and a Gnome

I was going to sit up and do an assignment I need to do (besides my MA essay) in order to graduate... but I. Am. So. Tired. So Fernando gets the computer yet again. He's asked me to add a section to the blog where Swis' exploits (that's his pink haired gnome warrior) can be celebrated.

The History of Me: Chapter 2

So I've sort of realized lately that my 30s seem to be about Trying New Things. Or, to be more precise, opening my mind up to things that I'd closed my mind to earlier in life.

Maybe this is a normal 30s thing, because in Sarah Kramer's intro to La Dolce Vegan cookbook she talks about trying out horror movies, after swearing them off as a child. Anyway, I think I can classify this as The History of Me Part II (despite my promise to write about loving the 1930s.)

Animal Movies: I am NOT going to change my mind and start watching animal movies. I went through enough evil Born Free, Fox and the Hound, Watership Down, and Bambi experiences as a child to last me a lifetime. I remember watching these things avidly because I loved animals, but at the same time being left with horrible torn feelings anytime an animal was hurt or even had (in the cartoon case) its feelings hurt. (Best friends hunting each other! Get OUT!) I can even remember watching a movie about a guy having to give up his seeing eye dog because he had an eye operation, and I was devastated to see them part, despite my parents trying to convince me that this was good ("The dog will now go help someone else!" "Screw you.") The other day I tried out Phillip Pullman's historical series [spoiler], which has been made into TV movies, and her dog and her boyfriend died within 30 minutes of each other!! I couldn't even watch the dog scene, I had to fastforward. (The boyfriend, meh, not so bad.)

Board Games: My husband complains that we never do anything like play board games. (Well really he wants me to play Warcraft.) So I'm going to try out a few... surely there's something we can both like? We tried Life--the library has a ton of games--but it was too much based on chance. Though I did win big.

Cooking: I hadn't exactly sworn this off, but I'd never believed myself to be "a good cook." (A good baker, however, yes.) So this new foray into cookbooks and constant homemade meals has been a blast. A delicious blast. Tonight I had homemade French bread, and homemade onion soup, and homemade mint chai latte, and homemade peanut butter fudge.

Math: Well I'm not lying when I say I'm bad at math, I think I have the numbers version of dyslexia--I get numbers confused, and can't remember them, and barely know my times tables, and have difficulty grasping concepts. But after taking the obligatory undergrad Methods course, I got the courage to take two non-obligatory grad level Methods courses. And while I'm still a stats fool, I'm less of a stats fool than the average Joe! Heh heh. Anyway, it just feels good to conquer something like that.

Language Learning: I took to French like a fish to water when I was 11 years old and was first learning. But somewhere in my 20s I became convinced that learning a new language was Scary and Hard (mostly bc of the memorization involved.) When I considered doing a PhD I had to face up to this fear, so I did two things. I started watching French miniseries with the French subtitles on, and rediscovered my love of language. And then I bought Arabic books and tapes and started learning that. In the end, I won't need to learn a new language, but it really taught me to stop putting things in the "I Am Bad At This" category of my brain. If being in academia teaches you ONE thing only, it's that you can do ANYthing at a low level of competence if you work hard enough at it. (I'm sure this applies to sports too, but I have no interest in finding out.)

School: I always knew I'd go back, but it didn't happen til my late 20s. (I'm 33 now, I went back in the fall of 2003.) The surprising bit was that I chose political science, instead of english lit.

Punctuality: I'm not a compulsively late person, but I'm compulsively Just On Time. I've been analyzing this lately. It seems to be attached to my Fear of Boredom. It's as though I want to spend the least amount of time possible sitting by the door, or waiting at the bus stop, so I leave at the last minute I can, within reason. Because it's within reason I'm usually on time, but I'm rushed. The classic case is me ON the bus. I read my book until the LAST second possible; but then it's a scramble to grab all my bags and get off. So I'm trying to Put the Book Away earlier than my instinct says. And Leave for the Bus, even if it means more time spent in the cold.

Sleep: I tried to make a vow a few weeks ago to never get less than 5 hours of sleep, at least not intentionally. (Insomnia I can't control, but bed time I can.) I've already broken it many times, and am breaking it now. I want to work up to 7 hours, but apparently I can't even handle 5. I did resist taking a nap, though, which must count for something.

And on that note, I'd better go to bed.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

not norma rae

Yawn. I feel like going back to bed.

My TA union is in negotiations and thinking of striking. Quel botheration. I agree with a couple of their demands, but not all of them, and not enough to strike. From what I've heard, I think this is timed so that striking would happen during final exams--that is to say, no TAs to grade finals. I guess it also gives the TAs an advantage in that there's almost no TAing over the summer, so you lose a few weeks of pay, and then go on with your summer--there's no pressure to go back to work. And the professors would have to grade their own finals? I don't know how this works. For some profs that would come out to 500+ final exams. On the other hand, grad students don't exactly have a lot of money and can't necessarily do without the pay.

Personally, I'd rather be paid. The union is looking for a $10-ish increase in pay, to match some other universities in Canada--the top ones, like Toronto. Their reasoning is that McGill calls/treats itself as a Top University, and therefore should pay the same. But there are two differences that I can see (a) the standard of living is lower in Quebec; (b) the tuition is lower than in those universities (except for international students, which many TAs are.) For myself, as a Quebec resident, my tuition has been so low it comes out to more money than I would have made with higher pay.

The other issues which I agree with, could probably be settled without striking. Oh well, we'll see what happens.


Well the great grading binge is over, but I still spent hours adding up grades and adding them to the spreadsheet etc. I need a pancake break. Also got my taxes done. And I resisted taking a nap so I can go to bed at the usual 4 or 5 AM. Except... it's almost 4 AM and now I want pancakes and some TV!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Now that I'm not sick, I'm back to sleeping 12 hours. Which sucks! I went to bed at 6 AM, which I was pretty proud of, and now I've awoken at 6 PM. Bleh. Half my life is going to be spent sleeping. And having WEIRD dreams. I need to become a sci fi show, where I'm living an alternate reality in dreamland... then at least I'd be getting somewhere.

Monday, March 24, 2008

the race against the nets

I am still completely turned around in my sleeping, despite having gone to work and school in between. I sleep from 8 AM to 5 or 7 PM. And the cats are so sleepy and quiet during the day, they're no help.

Alright, I've only been on the net about 20 minutes. I am now getting off. This will be a NEW RECORD.

grading grading grading and blogging

Just grading this week, so I'm trying to stay away from the computer. I try to hop on for an hour or two to read my emails and post a couple bloggies.

I think I'll kill my anti-Christian blog. I just don't follow what Christian folkies write, so how can I then trash them? I'm just not engaged enough in That World. I usually only get riled up when my dad tells me something. Or they act crazy enough to get on the news, like with Golden Compass. Maybe I'm just not a negative enough person to spend time thinking about stuff that annoys me anyway.

I started a music blog though. Well I already had this blank blog called Tea Scone, and I'm constantly thinking about music, so I decided to start dumping my opinions there in order to keep the air clear over here. I update that MUCH more than the religion one. I allllways have something to say about music. (Ahhh I'm playing that Mark Isham song again... my soul is mellllting.) Plus I can always post my American Idol opinions there, for whoever still watches it. Again, it's nothing original... just my compulsive need to write down everything I'm thinking (that's safe for webizing.)

I think I might start a romance blog too. Novels, movies, songs, real life--anything. I love good love stories. I spend a lot of time on them too. La musique, la cuisine, l'amour! ... ahhh zees are zee sings zat Meeess Mabel wants to spend 'er enerj-eeh on!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

and so on

Not much to tell. Sickitude mostly gone. Finally had energy to cook again today. Life (and grading) continue.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Only 40 cms to go!

Fainting, The Headache, and Sandwiches

I saw a girl faint on the bus the other day. And me without my smelling salts.

It was interesting. She fell on the girl next to me.

So. Chest congestion continues, making it hard to fall asleep. Sleeping very weird hours now. I've also had one of my bad headaches for 3 days. The sore throat is on and off, still taking codeine for that. The headache might be a rebound headache from the codeine, since I had previously cut down on the stuff.

When I do manage to fall asleep, I can sleep fairly long. And I'm still having all these weird dreams, which I've been having since taking these headache pills which put me in REM all the time. Last night I dreamt a war had started up involving Jordan and Israel, and I was icing a really gigantic cookie I had made. The night before I dreamt that (a) Lisa Sanchez was still the district manager at my work, and she gave me a Below Average on my eval, even though I'm not a manager; and (b) that my stats prof was working at a sandwich shop in a mall. Must be cause he was eating a huge sandwich when I spoke to him the other day. But I have no idea what Lisa Sanchez--who was our hated DM years ago--was doing in my dreamland.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Diary of a Sickatude

Still have the chest congestion. Seemed like the sore throat had receded, but now it's back and I'm back on the codeine and bran muffins. My eyes also seemed to be infected for a few days. The one that started it appears to have healed; the other is healing. Stupid plague.

Monday, March 17, 2008

1 month to go...

Reassuring meeting with Stats Guru today.

Still have the plague, but managing.

Gotta turn from my MA paper this week, and focus on grading for awhile.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

coldy all the way

My sickitude is reaching new heights! I'm full on coughy phlegmy sneezy nose-blowy gross to be around.

But I've decided I've got to stop complaining about my throat infection and school. Well school, really--I hate it more than the throat infection.

Earlier this week I saw Bill Cosby talking about how hard Af-Americans fought for good education in the civil rights movement, and I tried to use that to make me stop complaining about school. But it didn't work.

However, I've had a new kick in the ass. Gilby and his wife have a "couple friend," and last night the wife died. She's my age, and from what they know it was totally sudden. One day she's updating facebook, the next day she's gone. She and her husband had just bought a home, adopted a baby, and were making plans with Gilby and L. to go on vacation together. She had a degenerative disease, but obviously wasn't ill enough that anyone thought she'd pass away.

That's crazy. So my new standard for A Good Day is gonna have to be: My husband didn't die in his sleep last night. I can't begin to imagine how devastated this poor guy is, and is going to be.


Thursday, March 13, 2008


Doctor for hour and a half, then slept for 10 hours. Blehhh. Now I have some congestion and a cough.

Today reconfirmed why I don't go to the doctor when I'm sick. I went this time because Fernando's been so sick, I thought it was "responsible." I should know better.

I never go to docs because there's always a good chance that what you have is viral, in which case there's nothing they can do (unless it goes on for weeks, like Fernando). Why sit in a germ filled office when I could be in bed? And sure enough, my throat infection is probably viral.

They did a quick strep test, which only tests for the most common kinds, and it was negative. My test then gets sent to a lab, and if it comes back positive in two days (or after the weekend) then I fill my Penicillin prescription. But even if it still turns out I have strep throat, by the time I get the call, and get my Penvee filled, and it takes 72 hours before you feel any effect, I'll be over the hump. So what's the point?

And what did it take to get this non result? $30 and a woman scraping the back of my throat with a gag-inducing q-tip. OUCH! Twice. No, no, forget the doctor next time.

I don't regret going, though. I had my new ipod, and I read a good book in the office, and I needed a walk. I'm not usually up early enough to enjoy a beautiful sunny morning like today. It was -13, but no wind, and the sun glinting off all these awesome snowbanks. I walked through the park on a human-trod path, and at one point saw a piece of wood in the snow. I thought, what is this wood here?? Then realized it was the top of a park bench. I was walking about 3-4 feet off the ground. Freaky!

oh la looo looo

I'm gonna walk over to the walk-in clinic this morning, and line up with all the old ladies who get out of bed at 5 AM. Yesterday I couldn't fall asleep until 7 AM, and I don't feel anymore tired today, so might as well take advantage to jump the line.

Loo loo loo. Installing stata, and hoping it's gonna work. Restart computer loo loo loo. I'm not as used to installing stuff on PCs.

I wonder when the mall opens, where the walkin in located. How early could I go? I don't want to stand around outside. At least I have my new ipod, and I'll bring a good book (as opposed to the boring ones I try to read when in school.)

Loo loo loo. Laaaaaa la la la. There must be something I could watch on youtube right now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

iiice cream! we're gonna eat iiice cream!

3 Projects Today:

1. Try to swallow food and liquids, even though my throat feels like the Bill Cosby "Tonsils" skit, post-operation. [Go to 3:42 in the following video, which is only part 2 of the skit.]

2. Try to rip off an ipod.

3. Set up STATA on the PC Eyal lent me.

I'm attempting #1 right now--spaghetti with squash sauce. Going alright. I'm also not talking at all, to give my throat a rest.

I'm also in the middle of #2. My Sugar Brother offered to pay for the 2nd hand ipod I wanted to buy--so Friend Eyal (so useful that F.E.!) scanned eBay, bid on, and paid for my ipod. Brother Paul paid for it. Yesterday F.E. delivered. Here's me scrutinizing the tunes that were still uploaded onto it (about 400+ songs).
I plugged Heigh Ho Silver into my desktop, double clicked on the icon, and saw a problem I hadn't anticipated. I just couldn't see the actual music files (as I would on a regular player.) I could see the songs in iTunes, and I could see they weren't protected... I just needed to extract them! I found a fix at Macworld. I had to download a free program that allows me to see hidden folders. Seems to have worked, so I can get all that emo music off Silver.

3. TBA

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

sickitude update

Alright. I still have a killer sore throat, but the codeine and popcicle chewing seem to be keeping it in check.

The good news--when Fernando had his sore throat (first symptom of his sickness) it was a post-nasal drip type sore throat, and he had stuffed sinuses. I have totally clear sinuses, and I can tell this is a throat infection, not nasal drip pain. I've had this throat infection (tonsils?) several times in the past. And it's never turned into something nastier. And my body aches seem to be receding.

In other news...

Fernando was on super hard core antibiotics, but he still has this crazy cough and gross lungs (he sounds like an old man whose been smoking for 60 years.) So he went to the doctor today, and the doc said there's no way this is still a bacterial infection. He must now have a viral infection. So the new drug of choice? Prednisone! Weee! The all-purpose super drug! Let's hope this works. It's been a month now he's been sick!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Stata is away! (Hooray!)

I've had my codeine refresh... playing around in my stats. Hmm it's too late to hit the pharm on the way home. Doh! Now it will be Fernando's turn to trek down the hill tomorrow.

My prof still hasn't replied, re. setting up a meeting to talk about the critique I got on my paper. What the hell does the "cluster" option in Stata do?? Help!

I enjoy playing in my stats, but it takes so long, I will JUST DIE of happiness if the Eyal-computer option works out. I can sit in bed and Stata away! Weeee!

Sigh. Alright. Better hit the road.

The dreaded "Stats Stare"

(Not dissimilar to the 1000 Yard Stare)

And then the heavens opened up...

At school.

I started feeling sick again during my students' exam, but then remembered it was time to hit the Tylenol/Codeine again, so I think I'm alright. I think I can go to the computer lab and manage a bit of work.

But most importantly, Friend Eyal--also known as God's Gift to Terri--is going to lend me a PC so I can use the stats program at home. Fingers crossed that it works etc. If so, having that program at home will make the next few weeks heavenly, especially if I get sick.


Fernando's been home for almost 2 weeks, and I thought--well with all his coughing, if I haven't gotten sick by now, it's not going to happen...


I was congested the other day - now I have a sore throat, which he says is the first stage - and I might be getting feverish cause I'm having the whole "must put on 5 layers to get warm" "now boiling hot, must remove all flannels and put on spring pajamas."

It's 4 weeks til my deadline. I CAN'T get sick. I woke up at 7 this morning (engaged in the above pajama fever dance) and felt awful, just no energy. But after falling asleep again, I feel better now - just a cracking good headache, and still the sore throat.

Noooooooooooooooo! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

wouldn't trade them for the world

I've talked before about "the woman whose living my life" -- the blogger with a rich husband who lives in London and San Fran. But there is one obstacle that would prevent me from actually wanting her life: She can't have cats.

She's a huge cat lover, but because they travel all the time, and live in two cities, she can't keep one. In her old home the nabe had a bunch of cats, and one of them would live with her when she was home: Clyde. She talked about Clyde all the time, and took photos.

But they recently moved to a beautiful new house on a hillside, and she couldn't bring Clyde with her because, again, of the traveling. (Plus there might be wild beasts around where they are, or something.) So she's totally broken hearted about it. She has a fake cat in 2nd life named Clyde.

I can hardly read her blog entries about saying goodbye to him, because I know how she's feeling. I could not give up my 3 monsters.

(Of course, they would give me up for an extra serving of softies. But then that's the beauty of cats.)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Put the deco back in decorate!

Paul and I went down the hill to the store today, in the raging snowstorm. It was very exciting. Had to get decongestants for The Sick One. Looking out the window, this appears to be the wildest snowstorm yet! Craziness!

The Sick One and I have decided to move next year (lease up in April) so now I've started planning where I want to live, and what new bits I'd like to buy for the new place.

It's not that we really *need* anything, and I hate to be too Consumeree-Evil... but I am glad of the idea of starting fresh somewhere. We've lived here for 10 years. We decorated somewhat when we moved in, and we used to have people over etc. But the floors have worn out, and there's paint peeling in spots--it needs an overhaul. And it's harder to overhaul while living in a place than when you first move in. Plus the owners are cheap and never fix anything up. I mean, think about it... after 10 years surely something needs improving. (Well yes, they did install new pipes yesterday... after my kitchen was flooded last weekend.)

We need a new couch, because the current one (inherited when parents moved away) gives me an instant headache when I sit on it. I need something higher. Or maybe a couple of Lazyboys! Then we can be like old people, sitting around on our chairs, smoking a pipe or doing the knitting.

The beds are fine. Washer, dryer, dishwasher all fine.

We need new blinds. I have curtains up right now, but with Nombly the Peeing Wonder running around you never know what's safe. Nice looking blinds, but washable, would be prudent.

I'd like some new book cases. I have some old metal ones from the 70s that need to go. And some plastic ones that are buckling under the weight of my books.

And possibly I would like a new bread box (which we need to keep the cats from eating the bread.) There's a really cute one on someone's blog that I envy.

And maybe I'll get some cute dining table off Craigslist. Here's someone custom made Louis XV dining table. Heh heh.

Or "Scandanavian teak"?

Something chichi?


Ahh that's more like it --you'd all want to be invited over to eat on that!

Art Deco, to get my Bertie Wooster on.

Or since the 80s are back in...!

Get my Regency on.

But nothing says retro like Formica. Love this photo--it's so my Gramma's house in the 70s.

Anyway. It's my new obsession. Now I'll have to start my millionth blog! Tscone Decorates!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Oh la oh la, 6 weeks to go.

I just got feedback for my MA essay, from one of my reviewers--she's one of the stats monkeys on staff, and she also does gender stuff. A great prof and researcher.

But as I feared, she gave me alllll kinds of advice for the stats part of the paper... sigh. The main problem with this is, I think somewhere along the way I lost my data set, which means if I want to make any improvements to the model I'll have to rebuild it up again. (I have the original raw data, but you have to recode stuff, and cut out what's not needed, and name things. Running the stats takes two seconds, but coding the data in the first place can be long, and prone to mistakes.)

I keep forgetting to check my folder at school to see if the data's still there. So... ugh. Might as well drag a sleeping bag into school and sleep there for a week. I wish I had this frigging stats program at home, but it costs 1000s of dollars.

What I would rather do is throw that model out, and use my other data set, which I think has less problems in it. But at this point I think I'd have to ask one of my advisers about that. Oh la oh la.

Meanwhile--last weekend was wasted because I had building plumbing problem. The pipes apparently freeze in the garage below, and everyone's kitchen water, from me up to the third floor, all backs up through my sink. I was pushing the building manager to send someone to fix it, from Friday evening onwards, but she insisted all I had to do was ask my neighbors not to use their kitchen sinks til Monday. And when I insisted that they might not listen to me, she hung up on me.

So Sat night the upstairs neighbour used his washing machine, which hooks up to the sink, and my kitchen was flooded. So then she sent a repairman Sunday morning. After calling the neighbour an asshole and trying to blame it all on him.

All in all... I was a total stressazoid. Really it's fighting with her that does it, more than anything else. Fernando's still in Calgary, with bronchitis and pneumonia. When we talked on the phone about this, we decided we should finally move.

This place is cheap (hence the crappy cheap landlord) and well situated (4 bus routes and walking distance from our jobs) but we're willing to pay more money to escape the manager and owner. And this time I want a building that's newer or been renovated. But we can't move til next year, cause it's too late to not renew the lease.

Anyway. I'm excited about moving, but I have to get my mind back on the school work. Come next week I'll have almost non-stop grading until May, so time will be tighter. And if I don't meet the April deadline for this paper, then I'll have to pay another semester's tuition, and that would ruin my summer anyway.

Okay. Off to make supper and do some work. Oh la oh la.

UPDATE: I just remembered I can check my McGill folder from home. It looks like the datasets are still there. PHEW.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Posts from my Week Off

Tue, Feb 26

I don't know how many times I've sat by this bedroom window writing political science papers. I can't wait until it's over and I can associate this parking lot view with beautiful beautiful fiction writing.

If I'm ever published, and writing becomes Real Work, maybe I won't regard it as so beautiful. But for now it's a lovely fantasy sitting at the end of the next 7 weeks.


I'm sitting here reading about gender inequality and the connection to violence in Somali society... and I have to admit that I do like paper writing a... a little bit. Ahem. I do still love to learn new things. I just don't want to have to write about them and be tested on them. But even the writing isn't bad... I mean, it's still writing. I ahem ahem kind of enjoy the wrestling with verbs and punctuation and adjectives and sentence structure. Ahem ahem. Cough cough. Don't tell anyone.


Poor Nombly. He's trying to sleep next to me, but I keep singing along with the Purple Rain soundtrack that I'm listening to under headphones. Sometimes the cats won't stay in the kitchen with me because they're fed up with the constant barrage of sound coming from the stereo.

"Let's go Nombly! Let's get nuts!" I try singing TO him, to make up for it.

...Probably I shouldn't scream out the finale of "The Beautiful Ones."


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