Friday, December 31, 2004

Okay, real quick-like, here's the misery threshhold hypothesis:

People remain mostly at the same level of happiness regardless of circumstances, unless those circumstances include something that's really disastrous or otherwise misery-causing. (Including so little money you can't afford food and warm housing, life-threatening illnesses, death and divorce, etc.)

So, in the absence of particular trauma (or above the misery threshhold, as I put it), we are basically as happy as we are ever going to be, and no lottery-winning or fabulous-babe-having or whatever will change that for more than a few months. (Research backs me up on this.)
Had about 3 or 4 hours of sleep last night. Stayed at the clinic working on this proposal (the "^%$*^%" preface before the word "proposal" should by now be understood) until 2am or so. At midnight one of my colleagues exclaimed, "This is so bad for my skin!" "Yes," I agreed, "my skin, my lungs, my liver....and whatever few remaining eggs I have." Then we both giggled maniacally for a few minutes.

Went home around 2am. I tried to work some more at that point, but found myself sobbing uncontrollably, simply out of sheer exhaustion, I think. Not particularly sad about anything! So I had to go to bed for a few hours. Then I got up early and continued. Now I'm back at the clinic. It's closed for a few days, so several of us are using it as our "office" for now.

Just sent my lit review to my advisor, due a mere 11 days ago. Now I hope I can finish the method section in the next hour or so, although I may be forced to lie on a "therapy" couch and take a brief nap first.

I'm feeling quite destroyed. I have a swollen lymph gland, which I've never had before. In one sense it's good, as it means that there is some infection that my body is fighting off effectively. (Possibly the same plague with which TheLimey awoke on Wednesday?) In another sense, it feels like the wolf is at the door, health-wise. (And my neck hurts!) Bad time to be losing sleep.

Especially considering that once I finally even get the blasted proposal sent out, I still have to create the entire proposal defense presentation for the week of the 10th, while simultaneously preparing for my internship interviews next week (haven't even begun that yet, since I've been doing the proposal night and day). Hope a few days' preparation can take the place of a month's worth, since these interviews are after all the culminative goal of over seven years of training!

Also, this coming week I begin teaching a new class (well--same class, new group of students) and I have new clients, too, of course. This is NUTS! I am so damn tired.

However, looking at my blogroll, I realize I should really not complain, as I am not in Big Al's disappearing shoes--(I'm afraid he's either in jail or getting some limbs amputated, or perhaps both) ...nor have I been diagnosed with ALS as has Brainhell. Also have not been swept away by any tidal waves or other natural disasters, nor hit by any SUVs.

Nope, as I was discussing with SamuraiChick the other night on the phone, we are definitely above the misery threshhold at this time, overall. But that's another whole discussion. Must....get to.... sofa.... nap.....

Thursday, December 30, 2004

This morning, another squirrel doing a balancing act on the telephone wires outside my third-floor window. They seem to have a pretty clear idea of whence the flying peanuts originate (you can see them stand on their haunches, begging in the direction of my window whenever I open it), and every so often one seems to decide to seek the source. Or should I say, The Source of All Peanuts. One is currently quite mangy, poor little chilly crit. Another seems to have had a chunk taken out of his back fur, unless it's just a spot of mange. They don't seem to mind at all being actually hit with a flying peanut (as my aim is sometimes a bit too good).

The woodpeckers are getting into some serious lard-eating now that winter's here, as are the nuthatches--my favorites. Sometimes they arrive at my windowsill in squeaky, yarpy little pairs. (Or would that be a brace?) And of course, the bluejays also arrive loudly, usually in threes.

The red-tailed hawk has also lately been lingering in the big tree from time to time. I guess that makes my feeder a meta-feeder, of sorts.

Along those subject lines, I have to say that was not at all what I might have expected...

Decided to leave all the typos as they were, for effect.

Just so you can see how a Russian-spy wannabe dresses when using overflow wi-fi on winter nights:

Also have pictures of TheLimey* from holiday events:

...and then there's the artsy image of his brother's place, complete with full moon:

*Note: isn't that one damn fine-looking man?!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

As youi read this I am outside freezing and oops typoing like mad--cold fingers!...stupid entire university s closed down for the week so my only access the Union's overflow wi-fi. Had to send stupid #$%^&%$ dissertation proposal draft off to advisor. It's kicking mybutt. aRG.

got beautiful new suit from Thelimey for Christmas for my internship interviews. Lets hope I can actually get the prereqs done so I canbe worthy of wearing it anfd maybe even go on internship next year! (I.e. finishing, & defending stupid proposal by January 15.(

Legs hurt from crouching....msut go!

Fix typoews later.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I'm going to do that lazy thing in which I plagiarize from one of my own emails to someone. Now here's the holiday gift for the person on your list who has everything:

At the links below one can get plots of land on Mars, as well as a square foot of an estate in Scotland, entitling one to legally use the title "Lord" or "Lady".

Lord of Glencairn

Overlord of Mars


The thing I like best about these is the potential for using them in conjunction. I just can't wait to be an interplanetary aristocrat! (Lady Elisabeth-Eve of Syrtis Major Planitia, Mars, or similar.)

(Note to TheLimey re: your gift. No, it's not one of these, as I'm sure you've guessed what with all that shaking of the box. >grins smugly< )

Oh yeah--happy Winter Solstice, which was yesterday, or last night, depending how you look at it. (I've been having trouble remembering what day of the week it is lately, let alone remembering what current planetary positions are.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Finished putting in my students' grades. The average percentage without extra credit was around 90, so I better not hear any complainin'.

One student's final paper was mysteriously missing, which initially made me concerned that maybe I had somehow lost just that one paper and no others in the same pile...until I looked at her attendance and assignments, which were full of many holes. She ended up with the exact lowest possible score above failing. I gave her a D instead of a D-, for some reason. I wonder if I'll hear from her about it? Good thing I save everything, in case of complaints.

Recently had a blog visitor who was marked "unknown browser"! What on earth would that be? I occasionally get Safari and of course Firefox and even Opera... but what else is there? Is it a homemade one?! I hope so. That would be cool.

Last week was still the kind of mild rainy autumn weather that had us all glancing bemusedly at one another when we walked outside: "This is December?" But now suddenly the weather's caught up with us and is in fact making up for lost time.

To walk to school I have to wear the following layers: Long underwear (2 kinds), thermal jogging pants and top, nylon windbreaker ski pants, woolly knee-highs, woolly turtleneck sweater, silk balaclava, woolly scarf, wool hat, purple chenille gloves, and to top it all off, my big swingy leopard-print faux-fur coat*.

With these layers I can barely even feel the chill, except around my eyes. The drawbacks are that I look ridiculous, and my glasses fog up completely unless I take great pains to prevent it. I only mind the ridiculous part for the sake of others, because I really couldn't care less for myself. I could do worse than look ridiculous! (And have, believe me.)

The other night I had to email a document to my advisor, and the Union was closed (this only makes sense if you know I don't have Internet access at home). So I stood outside it, in the dark, in my layers, feeling like a Russian spy as I used the tag-edges of the Union's wi-fi leaking out into the winter night:

Yelizaveta's fingertips became instantly numb as she removed her gloves to insert the wireless card. Glancing around to make sure there were still no observers, she huddled in the alcove, each breath freezing onto her glasses as she held her coat futilely around the laptop. She pleaded with the server, "Come on, come on, come on! Just send this one thing! Don't freeze now!"

...or something to that effect, but in Russian.

*I recently realized that the leopard coat is now 16 years old, and in all that time I have never been able to find any other coat that matches it for warmth and lightness. (And I've tried.) It's Wonder Coat! However, the older I get, the more I imagine that others are embarrassed to be seen with me and my ridiculous leopard coat. (Especially given the other layers I typically wear with it.) Therefore, I am considering dyeing it a dark sable brown or something.

Monday, December 20, 2004

You'd think I'd be happy to have another week to work on this proposal, but I'm really aggravated that now it's going to drag out over Christmas, too. Advisor wants me to get it a lot more finished before I send it out to my committee. And it needs to be a lot more complete before I can begin to think about polishing it. She also suggested some reasonable changes to the structure, which is good, except that I had just begun feeling like I had a handle on how I wanted to present the literature. Now I feel all confused and inchoate, like the whole thing is suddenly a pile of random data bricks again instead of a brick data box.

She pointed out that it is hard for me to write out the thoughts she knows are in my head. "Writing is hard for you." And she's right! What is my deal? Why is this so hard for me? I know the research I want to do, and I know why, but I am really sick of looking up someone else's research to cite after every single statement I make in order to convince someone else of my research design. Like this:

One graduate student mentioned that she was really, really tired of writing (Lizardo, 2004; 2003; 2002). Others have also stated this (Colleague and Coworker, 2003; Student, 2004, 2001). This seems like an obvious point, but one must find sources for every single bleeping sentence in the manuscript (Fedup, 2004; Headachey, 2003, 2002). Otherwise, the paper will be immediately burned in the trash can (Garbagio, 1987) before being flushed down the toilet (Crapper, 1886) by one's committee.

What this means is that when I write even a smallish 20-page document, it takes WEEKS just due to my having to stop at every sentence and make sure someone else said it before me. Assuming I can find a text that does say it, of course.
Can't talk. Trying in heroic, against-odds manner to get dissertation proposal sent off to committee members today.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Since last spring, I have been keeping upon my refrigerator several post-it notes covered with tiny block allcap lettering (as that is how my leftie handwriting looks). This is known as The List, since every time TheLimey and I talked about something whereby one of us said, "Oh, we should do that some time!" I took it seriously, and wrote it down so as not to forget. Several items have been crossed off ("Open geodes", "go to the Chick-Inn" [nearby drive-in diner] and so on), but since we have both been so busy, there are a lot of items left.

Somehow, the idea of posting The List online came up (probably via The Limey) and the idea of team blogging came up (probably via me) and--vye-ola! Now we have The List online.

Yes, we actually woke up one morning and had a discussion still in bed about how the items should be posted: one item per post, with details in the text? Or a post of one list, editable by either of us as the need arose? So, no--there's absolutely no nerdistry occurring in this hip "power couple". Just in case you were wondering. No way.
As the December 15th date for internship sites to respond to applicants approaches at ludicrous speed, I have begun receiving replies. A couple of interviews, several rejections. Now, since we are a new program and are still seeking our APA accreditation, we knew that there were likely to be sites that would reject us summarily. Therefore we were advised to cast a wide net when applying for internships. I applied to 15 sites. One of my colleagues applied to 30. (30!)

Anyway, I just haven't felt very anxious about the outcome. I'm too tired, and it's out of my hands. I've done my best, and either I'll get an internship, or I'll have to wait another year and apply again... and there are a few contingency plans if that does happen to any of us. I'm not going to die either way.

So, not feeling very anxious, I was amused to see how serious some of the rejections were:

"I am writing with difficult news..."

What could it be? My husband didn't make it through surgery, and you're repossessing my car?! (As another colleague interpreted that opening line.)

So far I have interviews in Erie, PA and Kent, OH. (Though I think the actual site is in whatever town-sized town is right by there.) I had to turn down the one in Portland after all, for their non-accredited status.

Now, I must go home and make some objects to give away at the clinic holiday party tomorrow. (I wonder if the convenience store has those zipper-y sandwich bags?)
I managed to salvage my broken-strapped purse after all. I found the strap of an old shoulder bag that clips onto my current purse (though it has a different color hardware) so now I can keep the one I have. Now that's recycling! I like how pocket-y and organize-y this one is, anyway.

Speaking of which--dangit, I forgot to put my recycling out again this morning. So now I have a giant overflowing milk-crate stack full of glass and plastic bottles, egg cartons, and soup cans in my kitchen. Lovely.

I was very hurried as I was writing out the multiple-choice answers to the exam for my class this morning (I spent a lot of of the night working on my dissertation proposal draft), so they ended up with fewer questions worth more points, which scared them. However, I also accidentally left the answers actually within the text of a few of the questions. Sadly, as I have glanced over some of the tests to see how it went, I noticed that a student or two got some of those ones wrong anyway!

I told them before we began that if they saw anything strange about a question, they should not shout it out, but merely carry on. Furthermore, when they were expressing worry about how much each question was worth, I told them that this was a social science class, and if they didn't know what that meant for grading purposes, they should by now. And also to base predictions of my future grading behavior on my past grading behavior (which has been very forgiving). Why do they think I am going to be mean, when I haven't been up until now?

(Who knew my instructors probably weren't out to get me in undergrad, either?!)

From all appearances, I think the questions were relatively easy for those who attended class regularly, and insanely difficult for those who did not attend, which was pretty much my intent. There was no way one could guess about the details of some of the things we discussed in class.

For example:

In class we discussed a court case in Texas in which a man died while under medical treatment. Why does the insurance company say his wife cannot sue the medical establishment for wrongful death?

a. Since they had a common-law marriage, she has no grounds for a suit.
b. Since she has XY chromosomes, she is legally male and can’t therefore have been legally married to
another man, so has no grounds for a suit.
c. Since he was the insurance holder through his job, she has no grounds for a suit.

d. Since the couple was estranged for over a month when he fell ill, she has no grounds for a suit

The answer is "B"--the woman in question is transgendered, and the insurance company was positing that chromosomal sex is the be-all and end-all of deciding what sex a person is. Which, if you take my class, you will know is not true for a number of logical--though non-intuitive--reasons. We discussed how laws affecting the specific definition of marriage are not just semantic frippery, but affect real human beings in real, everyday situations.

But if someone had not been there for that discussion, it is highly unlikely that they would choose "B", don't you think? I've seen a few people choosing "C", which I think is a common strategy for when you don't know the answer.

Oh, grading. What a pain in the beehive. I really just want to give everyone As, except those people who started skipping all the time.

Monday, December 13, 2004

For those family members who are participating in the Secret Santa gift exchange: just wanted to mention that the non-media items now on my Amazon wishlist (gloves, boots*, etc.) are not items I really expect someone to buy (as they are mostly crazy expensive), but examples of general size/style/color. (Especially considering the $$ limit.)

*The "stripper boots" are not even for example purposes, mainly because they didn't come in 8 1/2. (Really. That's why.) I only put them there because I keep hearing so much about them from someone.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Okay, today I have a little quiz. Nigh unto a year ago, I was getting ready for my first date with TheLimey, having never yet met him in person.

What song was I playing as I was getting ready?

(A hint: it's dancey. And if you're both snoopy and insightful, you may be able to figure it out.)

(...Oh yeah, I like how on today's post I am the "mad" doctor, whereas on the previous one I was the "good" doctor! Of course, he does know that one of my childhood aspirations was to be a mad scientist, so I guess there's precedent. But it could also be because I made him see a chick flick.)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Today was our last day of regular classes. Next week we have finals. So today in my class we reviewed for the final, which I based primarily on class discussion. (This is to reward those students whose attendance did not suddenly fall off after the midterm.) I also had a number of pizzas delivered to the classroom, which they must have liked as they ate most (but not quite all) of them.

I also asked the students to fill out an anonymous form about their experience in the class. I worded it so that if they had anything bad to say, it wouldn't be so hard on me mentally to read it (i.e. "What should there have been more of in the class? ... What should there have been less of?") But I still dread any kind of reviews. I actually care what my students think, I guess. But at the same time, I have to do things that I know they will not like!

Some of them stayed to talk a few minutes after class, and told me that this was their most interesting class, and the only class they never skipped, and that I showed them that some people teach because they like to do so. I felt pretty flattered. I imagine that not every student feels that way, but it was still nice to hear it.

I do have the dilemma in which the number of close-relative deaths increases statistically significantly near finals, which I'm finding out is true for my class. The thing is, it may indeed be the case that more people die near the holidays (suicide, stress-related disorders, etc.), so I certainly can't dismiss them. It's hard to know what proof to ask for without being crass, too. When my family members died a bit ago, nobody asked me for any proof at all. (Of course, the doctoral program is quite the fishbowl, so we all know what's going on with each other anyway--it'd be kind of hard to lie about something like that. Also, it didn't happen during finals week.)

I guess I'll find out in the spring, when finals week doesn't coincide with any major holidays as observed here.

Meanwhile, here's a nice link to a German Christmas site, just because it reminds me of attending the Weihnachtsmarkt all those years ago ... frigid, still air, scent of deep-fried dough of some kind, tangerines, evergreen trees, cobbled streets, the horrible aqua-colored second-hand parka I had, and Boy George singing over the radio (which tells you how long ago it actually was).
I knew it was out there somewhere. The Dead Grandmother Syndrome!

I think next semester I will hand this out on or near the first day. Just in case.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Okay, I posted a new profile photo, since Yahoo finally got the drift of my not paying for my site for the past year or so (I tried to delete it, but it wouldn't let me, of course, so I was just using it for storage) and made that site "inactive".

Well, it's not so much a photo as a "collage" to display my many "facets". However, don't be too impressed because I'm wearing a pretty puffy bra in that one picture, as I recall. Furthermore, I'm not usually smiling so darn much, as it is very hard to smile while simultaneously complaining about a bunch of things. And the butterflies aren't even real, but part of a screen saver.

The photo only shows up when I'm looking at the profile, but--who cares. I'll mess with that later. Unless it magically fixes itself, which Blogger often does.

Complete nonsequitur: I've noticed that taking Robitussin DM makes everything smell weird and rainy, as though I've been crying a lot, only I haven't been crying at all. Very odd. I think it's the action of the Guaifenisin, rather than the Dextromethorphan.

Recent reading, stolen out from under the birthday of a friend of TheLimey: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists : A Novel

I hope he gets her another copy and actually sends it, as it is quite funny in a Monty Python way. (I also learned about a horrible true ingredient for dog biscuits, and who should wear black.)
You can probably tell that the work I am doing this week is especially irksome, as I have to pepper it more thickly with blogging procrastination breaks. Yep, irksome.

Anyhoo, I saw one of these pop-psych kind of profiles that one is meant to fill out and annoy one's friends by spamming them with it, also demanding that they fill it out too and then send it back. Like this:


Of course, as posted, it was filled out in a serious kind of way that would make an anime character gag.

What I ache for is to see how others would fill this out. It is ripe for mocking, and yet my brain is too inert to properly mock it right now. I leave it to you, gentle readers of clever persuasion. (Oh, c'mon, just a few of them!)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Now I had to go and try the avatar maker, too. It's the kind of thing I could mindlessly do for hours, like Neopets. (I used the illustration option, not the avatar option.)

Well, despite my adding wrinkles, it still made us look more glamorous than we actually are (darn).

Unfortunately, I don't have an actual lizard (it's symbolic), although TheLimey does have an actual football. However, he doesn't have an actual Tower Bridge behind him (it's symbolic), so... I guess that's alright then.

(Pictures transported from TheLimey's home computer to my school via my new Lexar "Sport" Jump Drive -- birthday present from ArgotNaut! I am now way too excited about its potential.)

Monday, December 06, 2004

The mutual-birthday weekend was extremely fantastic, in a very low-key way, which is what both of us needed. There was a lot of various napping, especially involving a particular extremely-high-gravity sofa. This spawned some ridiculous speculation as to how it came into existence, why it is so high-density, and in what way the US government might be involved.

Somehow TheLimey was even convinced to take me to see the second Bridget Jones flick, which was very fun for me, though of course the sequel was not quite as good as the first and had a few contrived moments. However, I had to see How It All Turned Out, and I am quite satisfied.

We also went to a very nice and swanky restaurant, courtesy of TheLimey's brother and sister-in-law. (I have never experienced Chocolate Volcano Cake like that. I think I will find myself dreaming about it very soon, possibly tonight.)

I did get a lot of Nothing Done. Now I have to try to pop myself back into reality, just like that old A-Ha video. (I hope I don't have to repeatedly bash myself against the wall like that, though.)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Romance for Engineers

(With apologies to Library Squirrel's Squirrel Romance as well as the entire Cooking for Engineers site.)

"Darling," he murmured tenderly, "your hands are half-scale. Furthermore, your limbs appear to have been turned on a precision lathe." Vasodilation increased blood flow to her cheeks approximately 27%, and her skin conductivity also showed an increase.

"Also," he continued, "your facial features are symmetrical to a tolerance of nearly .1 micrometers, except that the right side of your mouth is slightly higher than the left [see diagram 1], which is not noticeable when you smile and is therefore unimportant for my purposes."

The moon, being full, displayed a luminance of approximately 2,500 cd/m², revealing the steady increase in her cardio-respiratory activity. He swept her into an embrace with an initial pressure of .5 PSI, increasing irregularly to about 50 PSI...

Turns out that Wing-Ding!! (TM) has, as I expected, quite the history.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Someday, when I restore the sleep cycle that was so brutally destroyed between September and November, I hope to begin waking up on my own again. At a regular time. Also, falling asleep at a regular time would be nice, too. And by "regular time" I don't mean at 11am, 3pm, 7pm, and then midnight, as it is now. No, I mean sleepy at 10, asleep by 11.

I have definitely become a convert to the idea that if you are getting enough sleep, and at approximately the same time each night, you will wake up on your own. Apparently most of us are going around quite sleep-deprived, hence the ubiquity of alarm clocks.

There seem to be two schools of thought about being awakened: some people feel that only a shock will wake them (loud alarm, cold water, repeated slapping, bright lights, blanket removal, etc.) and those of us who require gentleness in order to be able to slither our heads out of the bedclothes. I am definitely one of the latter.

I used to think that I needed a loud alarm, but now I have discovered that having an east-facing bedroom that gradually lightens works much better. (Provided, of course, I am getting enough regular sleep.) I absolutely hate being shocked awake, and it makes me want nothing more than to crawl back into the covers and start over. Whereas if I wake up gradually, I actually feel okay about getting out of bed. In fact, I actually find myself bored with lying there, like a kid who wants to get up and play.

The only drawback to this method is that TheLimey's bedside radio is set to BBC (WuldNyews), and I seem to hear the actual content of the news sooner than he does: "....Mumble mumble mumble mumble blah blah blah, terrible, horrible, awful things happened to a ridiculous number of people in some distant part of the world today, caused by your countrymen. Mention of blood and maiming, body count, dispossessed families. Right-wing nutjobs insist this is proper, says right-wing nutjob spokesperson. Furthermore, twenty additional species went extinct as you were listening to this report, and in related news, SUV sales are through the roof this quarter. This is Felicity Forthright, for BBC News, Angkor Wat."

A grim, if gradual, way to wake up. Of course, he thinks that my "cathedral chimes" alarm is far too loud, (which it is), so I guess we're even.

PS: I am still very sad about Mr. Foxsmith and Lady Devonport. Why can't they get together on the outside?! There can't be any really good reason. I'd like to see some follow-up on that.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Awoke at 5:30 am, two hours ahead of my scheduled wakeup, with the distinct sense of a cloud having lifted. Then I tried to get back to sleep and failed until about 7:29, after which I began hitting the 9-minute* snooze for nearly two more hours. But when I really did get up and--skipping shower and proper breakfast--began immediately working, I did find that I feel like myself again. How odd! Yet how familiar.

It's such a discrete phenomenon. I'm beginning to wonder if this has had anything to do with the new type of pill I was forced to switch to this year, after the one I had been taking for [ahem] 19 years (!!) was discontinued. (If that doesn't make a person feel old, I don't know what would.)

Now that I think of it, the very first pill I originally tried made me (and several of my friends) severely depressed after a specific amount of time. It took us each individually a while to figure out what was going on and switch to a different brand, as we all initially assumed we were just going nuts, as women tend to believe when we are unhappy. We only found out later that all of us had had the exact same experience with that particular pill.

I can't wait until they get that male pill developed!

Not that there's much motivation for researchers to do so, and anyway it'll be too late for me by then, boo-hoo. But I do have all these younger sisters, and some of them are bound to turn out hetero.

Anyway, I'm feeling like a human being again instead of a ringwraith, and not a moment too soon. I want to have fun on my birthday! (Even if that just means lounging around watching VH1's Worst Metal Videos.) I want to be vicariously delighted by TheLimey's opening his various extremely thoughtful and pleasant gifts from me! I want chocolate cake with no frosting! (An odd preference that we curiously share.)

So take that, depression.

*Why are all snoozes set for 9 minutes? Why not 10, or 5, or 15?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

During this upcoming week, TheLimey and I both have our birthdays, two days apart. My original plan was to celebrate by aggressively Doing Nothing when we got together next weekend, having gotten a good deal of work done this weekend. However, as I have been having overwork rebound exacerbated by the holiday weekend, this means that I got a good start on Doing Nothing already this weekend.

One thing (not on my list) I did recently accomplish was the traditional holiday consumption of sherry and roast chestnuts while watching Regency House Party. Okay, so maybe the PBS part is not traditional, but it should be. It's a great antidote for commercial TV reality shows, which are largely uneducational, but has all the interpersonal soap-opera machinations that one could want.

I had been hearing about these chestnuts ad nauseum lately, so that when I actually saw some of the $4/lb nippers for sale at Meijer, of course I had to get them. Not having (legal) access to an open fire, I had to roast them in the oven after having a chestnut expert score them, expertly, with an X. To me, a chestnut novice, they were like tiny popcorn-flavored potatoes in a furry, bitterish, peachlike skin and a crispy shell/coat. One of those food items that are compellingly eatable.
I must also mention that my adorable little sister* (yes, another, and there are more where that came from) to whom I will refer as BirdGirl since she has no online identity yet has also begun selling her handmade jewelry on eBay. You can see the link down there by the ones of my aunts. I'm beginning to think I had better come up with something to sell online, and quickly, or I'll be kicked out of the family!

*And by "little" I mean only that she is younger than me, since she is a grown married woman of nearly 24, but will of course always be My Little Baby (TM).

Friday, November 26, 2004

What I really want (what I really really want) is for Frinkenstein to post a narrative regarding "Wing Ding", which, as a non-Frinksibling, I simply cannot describe adequately nor amusingly. How about it?
Did manage some successful baking. The magic peanut-butter middles turned out great, even though I used Land-o-Lakes Baking Butter (which is part canola). It's a shame TheLimey doesn't like peanut butter. Luckily, others did.

All together over the past week I also made: my notorious Invisibly Whole Wheat Butter-Brownies that do not at all seem like any kind of health food; oatmeal-currant cookies for TheLimey (I am always severely disappointed by raisin-like objects, as they are specifically not chocolate chips); a really good apple pie (I have begun adding lemon zest to the stuff I roll the apple pieces in); 2 chocolate meringue pies, cream puffs that didn't stay puffed long enough for me to fill with pastry custard but I did it anyway; onion-rosemary tarts; slow-cooked beef noodle soup and chicken stew with cheddar biscuits; and I can't remember if there was anything else. I'm still not satisfied, and I still have a ton of ingredients remaining. Perhaps will do more later this week when I return home.
As usual, beginning to feel better after less than a week. Now, if only my sleep would also go back to normal. One adaptive function about depression is it often makes me look at things I my life that I have been putting on the back burner or repressing entirely. Darnit! What is a subconscious for if I can't just store a bunch of stuff there, like a big spiderwebby attic or basement? Why do I always have to face every little (or big) thing? Stupid knowledge.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Well, crap.

I've clearly gone from Holiday Blues to a full-fledged depressive episode. How do I know? The following constellation of symptoms:

1. Very suddenly having both insomnia (secondary) and hypersomnia -- extremely difficult time even waking up, let alone actually getting out of bed. I'm usually one of those people who is wide-awake and happy right off the bat in the morning. (The sudden onset is especially telling.)

2. Everything in my life--and I mean everything--suddenly seems not only pointless but also doomed to failure.

3. I've lost interest and enthusiasm for things and activities that usually please me. (Even squirrel-feeding is less exciting than usual.) Things seem grey and dull.

4. Depressed mood. (This seems obvious, but depressed mood can just be situational, and on the other hand one can be quite depressed without actually feeling sad.) However, considering everything else, it's part of a pattern. I've actually been waking myself up in the middle of the night by sobbing in my sleep, and also experiencing weeping in the morning, which is (again) unusual for me.

5. Situation pattern: I have often gotten depressed shortly after I've accomplished something, or worked really hard at completing something, or gotten something I really wanted, or even just gotten excited about something for a few days. This clearly fits that pattern. (If my emotions were an oscilloscope output, it would be the drop after a big spike of some kind.)

Now, this might sound bad. (And I certainly don't enjoy it, though I am lucky in that it doesn't generally get bad enough make me non-functional as it does some people.) However, it always makes me feel better when I finally realize I'm actually having a depressive episode. This sounds perverse, but bear with me.

Recognizing that it is actually depression means that :

1. All the negative assessments, pessimistic predictions, and awfulizations about everything and everyone I've found myself making lately are likely not based on reality and will change when the depression fades, so things in my life might not be as bad as I fear, and

2. Nearly all depression fades within 2 weeks, which is not only my clinical training but also my personal experience. In fact for me it's usually quite a bit less, so all I have to do is wait it out.
Okay, so it's not only that I must wait it out, but also that I should not make any big decisions or important assessments based on my feelings while I'm still depressed. I must temporarily take my negative ideas about things with a grain of salt.

Recognizing what's going on, I now get to go easy on myself and allow the mood to flow "through" me in a zen-like fashion instead of taking it too seriously. And I also must stop trying to "snap out of it" (which is a treatment that works for no-one, yet we all still try to do it to ourselves!)

Monday, November 22, 2004

I think I'm experiencing Holiday Blues. To which I never wanted to fall prey. We always get a lot of clients going through something like this, increased suicide attempts, breakups, etc. etc. I usually like the holidays a lot, and look forward to the domesticity and coziness of them. I have always been relieved that at least I have that, and don't have to be sad at the holidays. There are enough other times of year in which to be sad.

But this year I seem to be having the ever-popular depressive reaction instead, which is a bummer. Literally.

I did some baking and cooking over the weekend, but my aspirations were higher than my achievements. Ironically, this led to my feeling that I had failed--at something I planned as a rewarding relaxation for all my hard work over the past several months! I think I'm conditioned to be far too goal-oriented at this point.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Thought I was tired of thinking about this, but here is a new twist on the election maps: cartograms. Makes me feel a lot less isolated to see how the statistics really play out.

Stretchy maps

Good things about taking steroids:

-Reduced inflammation of everything, whether targeted components (lungs, joints, etc.) or not. As a result, skin looks ivory instead of pale and blotchy. Also less baggage around eyes.
-Sense of well-being and optimism. This seems weird, but is always true for me. Only partly related to feeling able to breathe again.
-Huge, ripped delts and quads! (Okay, maybe not in the 5 days it takes for my lung tissue to de-inflame.)

Bad things about taking steroids:

-Hoarseness. Not such a big deal now, but definitely was a big deal when I was still recording.
-Reduced appetite. I'm trying to gain weight, here, pal, not lose more!
-Increased impatience. I think I even experienced 'roid rage towards some tangled hangers* on Sunday.
-How could I forget the thing where I think I smell like a goat? I forgot it, because it doesn't seem to have happened this time. I wonder why not?
-All kinds of terrible long-term effects if taken for very long. Infections, flesh-eating viruses, brain lobe slippage, irreversible memory loss, voting "red", and I don't know what all.

*Note to self: name next band** "Tangled Hangers".

**Further note to self: go up against TheLimey's putative band, "Suckling Pig" and beat them ... somehow... at something [editor's note: sorry, don't mind her. Must be the steroids talking.]

Monday, November 15, 2004

This weekend will be the first in approximately 31/2 months during which I will be...not so much unbusy as not so insanely busy as to have to a) stay awake until 5am or b) get up at 3am. In fact, it may be the first time I will be able to plan to take an afternoon off! That's right, an entire afternoon.

During the past 31/2 months, TheLimey and I have been able to see each other only approximately every other weekend for quite a while now. That comes out to twice a month, in other words, which is pretty shabby. At least we spent entire weekends together, but were nearly always both engaged in parallel frantic keyboard tapping on our respective laptops for 10 to 12 hour stretches those days. I know, what could be more romantic, you say. What indeed.

Well, as it turns out, we can both have an afternoon off this weekend. I am giddy with possibility. The Ann Arbor U-M Art museum! Watching my VHS copy of Barbarella, which I still have never seen! Feeding squirrels on the big, sophisticated U-M campus for a change! Perhaps a real full-size film, since we haven't seen one since Supersize Me came out! Walking around Ypsi fantasizing about remodeling houses! (Yes, we are a party couple.)

My secret desire: a combination of drinking and baking. Some nice warm Glögg (really, I didn't like mulled wine either until a German friend of mine gave me this stuff as a gift), and my favorite recipes for mini custard-creampuffs, dried-cherry biscotti, and perhaps even the onion-rosemary tartlets. [drools].

I have the grocery list of ingredients and the wheeled shopping basket awaiting me as soon as I get done with school stuff today.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I forced TheLimey to read Asimov's The End of Eternity, which I suspected he would like as much as I did. I hadn't read it in many years, maybe since my teens, and was surprised to find that it had weathered the years extremely well.

As I was reading it, I thought to myself, "Wow, for something written in the '50s, this somehow managed to remain very undated--even the descriptions of technology seem contemporary!" Then I seem to remember looking at the copyright date and it being in the '30s, which blew me away.

...But now I can't find any reference to its being anything other than 1955, when it was published, and TheLimey has my copy so I can't look inside to see what the heck I was looking at!

Well, anyway--it's still a damn good book. One whose plot hasn't aged in all this time. It makes a lot of current authors look like they're writing cheap retreads. And I hear that the plot twists kept TheLimey awake until 1am a couple of nights. Heh.

Maybe I should dust off The Caves of Steel next.
Whatever happened to "Alternative"? No, I don't mean what passes for "Alternative" now: mere blurred photocopies of Grunge overlaid with yarling (vocals adapted from Southern Rock, a la Eddie Vedder).

No, Back In My Day, one could turn on 89X and a wide variety of alternative musical styles (hence the "Alternative" moniker) might leap out. Anything from Sinead O'Connor to Gangster Fun to Buckwheat Zydeco to Sisters of Mercy to Style Council to The Cure to Patsy Cline. And we liked it that way.

Now Alternative actually means, "there is no alternative to listening to just this one style."

I blame Nirvana, although initially they were just one more interesting flavor. I guess I really blame Pearl Jam.

Back in the day I could wear fishnets, a black slip, combat boots, the de rigeur plaid shirt and biker jacket, and be at home in any venue. Heck, one night I was wandering around Ann Arbor alone dressed like that and found a dive bar where a Rockabilly band was playing. I struck up a conversation with them and ended up singing a Patsy Cline song when they went back on. Back then if I wore spike heels in the mosh pit, people would pick me up if I fell. (Completely non-drunkenly, of course.) Now I'd be pigeonholed as a "Goth" instead of part of a diverse counterculture.

And speaking of diverse, I really miss the few years between 1985-1990 during which skinheads had yet to become closely associated with Nazism. It's a shame, because I really liked the bald-boots-and-braces look. It was very dramatic on pretty guys. Now, of course, it's all about dumb ol' White supremacy.

Friday, November 12, 2004

PS: The fish balls were good. In Norwegian the label states they are made of cod, but in English the label states that they are made of "white fish".

And aren't potatoes great? I forgot how great they are. Just heat them in water for a while, and they're done. What an easy thing to make and eat, even for me.

I think I'll eat the rest tonight.

(The chocolate hasn't been bad, either.)
Why is it that I have such a hard time telling if I'm "really" sick or it's something I could probably give the doctor a miss for? It's as though I am so used to being miserable and exhausted that I can't tell if I'm really miserable, sick miserable, or just...tired or something. I have to resort to the old "If one of my sisters had these symptoms, would I make her go to the doctor?" To which I answered, definitely yes.

I know I could probably have controlled my symptoms enough to get through a day at the clinic, but I am just so worn out, and tired of coughing every time I talk, and itching every time I inhale, that I called in sick and went to the "Health" part of the health clinic myself.

Basically there's nothing wrong with me except that I can't breathe without coughing--no infection or anything. So that's good in one sense--but it also means that I was essentially right in thinking that if I could just control the symptoms AND get a good rest, I'd probably be okay. So now I feel like I wasted an afternoon I could have been resting, and also a bunch of money, for something possibly unnecessary.

They gave me a breathing treatment (which has left me jittery and tired) and a course of steroids to reduce the lung inflammation. They also gave me several other prescriptions, including Advair.

Even though I asked which scrips were the most important (given my insuranceless state) and got only those, the whole shebang came to $180. While the breathing treatment and steroids were actually pretty cheap, that golblanged-freaking Serevent was $80 all by itself.

I'm not surprised my lungs are irritated, because that's how I am feeling overall--unbearably irritated by everything. Little noises, strangers breathing in the same room as me, any tasks related to school, watching my remaining money get sucked into the prescription machine--they all make me just want to punch someone. If only I weren't too tired to do so...

Man, steroids always make me irritable--on top of this preexisting irritability, I can't imagine what I'm going to be like!
Well, hopefully I will get to have a few normal nights' sleep, a couple weekend days where I can work eight or nine hours instead of 16 or 20, and then I can post something less cranky.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Blogger sure is recalcitrant today. Then again, so am I.

I ended up canceling my class/office hours. (As TheLimey suggested I do on Tuesday so I could get things done, but I guess I had to really get sick first before I was willing to do it.) For the past several months now I have had a lot more tightness in my lungs than usual, and in the past month it has gotten really bad. Last weekend I had a full-on asthma attack, which hasn't happened for about 4 years, and was really not what I had planned for Saturday night.

I think this constant months-long cough/irritation/wheezing is turning into bronchitis, even though I know how to manage the symptoms so I'm not dropping dead on the spot all the time.

Anyway, today I am exhausted and my lungs feel sore when I just inhale. The thing that has helped me the most the past few days is to take Robitussin DM, which has stuff to make your lungs less irritated so you cough less, and to thin out whatever gunk is actually in there. So, given what remedy helps, that tells me what the underlying problem is. (Well, yes, lungs swelling shut--but how, specifically.)

I think I just need to rest, for the love of Pete. Rest and get my immune system back up and my inflammatory response back down. Woke up in a panic about getting everything done at 3:00 am, then couldn't get back to sleep. I hate this! I feel like I have consumption, and it's not very glamorous nor poetic.

This weekend I will finally be able to begin working on my dissertation, now that it's mid-November. Which means that once again I will be running severely behind, as I will be trying to get proposed and get committee approval and graduate school approval by the end of next month in order to begin data collection in January, before the fresh students have been exposed to me and Dr. [NAME OF ADVISOR] for too long. Probably too late to quit grad school now, huh?

Maybe this weekend I can do my dishes, which are nearly all used and are filling the sink and the countertop. Wow: time to do the dishes. What a luxury!

Tonight, if I have the energy to wash a pot and boil potatoes when I get home: canned fishballs and potatoes! (However, I will be eating the potato skins, which seemed positively bizarre to the Norwegians I knew.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I am SO tired of constantly playing catch-up, crisis-management, terror-stricken hurrification in absolutely EVERYTHING in my life for the past year and a half.

Found out today that the US Mail does not run tomorrow as it is frikkin' Veterans' Day. (Not that I have anything against veterans.)

It's just--there went my carefully engineered plan as to how I would mail a few "urgent" apps today (the one day I didn't have clients or teaching) to arrive Friday, and then tonight work on all the individual forms and de-identified sample reports to send, then send them tomorrow Priority Mail to arrive on Monday.

As it stands, instead I had to even more frantically and insanely than before throw together a bunch of real honest-to-goodness crap (that I hope they will even bother to look at) and mail it the most expensive way possible, just so I could get it all out tonight. That would be to the tune of about $180.

In addition, there are still three apps that I absolutely couldn't send today because of all the extra written stuff they require in the application packet, so I will have to send them overnight on Friday, for another whopping $60. Good LORD this is ridiculous.

Not to mention, because of all this insane hurrying, I forgot to include something pretty important in the two I sent first today, the "urgent" ones that are due Friday. I hope it won't count too much against me to fax it to them--if I can find a fax number--but who knows. When people are upset about a pore-sized smear on your vita....


Hope I didn't put anybody's frikkin' cover letter in anybody else's frikkin' envelope. Cripes.

As one of my colleagues pointed out, internship is in itself already such an aversive activity--why do they also have to make applying for it so aversive?! They should at least make the application part easy. I have been working on this stuff from dawn to midnight every day for weeks now. As another colleague remarked: "I can't wait until this 'full-time job' is over so I can get back to my normal full-time job!"

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Weird things that the ants living in my apartment seem to particularly like:

1. Robitussin DM
2. Marmite
3. Turkey ham

Today, received my box of Norwegian foods from NordicHouse...I won't open it until I've sent my application letters. Hopefully tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Last night was not a good night to be alone (or "utterly alone" ... for those who remember your Betelgeuse). I had a hard time working, what with a terrible headache coupled with sheer physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. That latter was exacerbated by watching the TV coverage of this country stabbing itself repeatedly in the liver, and also by how extremely isolated I've been lately due to all this work.

I'm not too optimistic about those few remaining votes in Ohio. Happy to see Democrats finally coming out of the woodwork, but it's still not enough. It's a lot easier to work the system when you're already in charge of it. And also have loads of money.

It seems a bit ironic to me that parties can pour incredible amounts of money into campaigning and ads in certain states, but can't be bothered to spend that same money on improving the lives of underprivileged people in those states. Why? Because pouring money into ads is about remaining in power, which is about increasing wealth and privilege.

Helping others won't accomplish that; in fact, it will undermine it. Can you imagine what it would be like if corporate America and rich donors were willing to pour that same kind of money into improving lives of people in their own locales?
As I teach my students, the purpose of any system or organization is what that system or organization actually does, rather than what its stated goal is. And for most systems, that means ensuring its own survival at any cost. (For others, it means generating endless paperwork!)

Knowing how few people are actually benefiting from this administration, I can't believe how many others are willing to support it. Are we really that dumb? It's the have-nots vs. the haves-and-wish-they-could-haves. And all this crap about "moral values" being the reason to vote that way. Give me a freaking break. If your gay neighbors are just living together rather than married, how the hell is that making your life better?

I don't think we're dumb; I think we've been led to be afraid.

In the course of all this work I've been doing, one thing I've had to do is thoroughly scan [not skim!] the history of research in the area of prejudice and discrimination. A very prominent thread is that of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA). One study I read investigated how personality traits are related to voter propaganda response.

In a very small nutshell, people who were high in RWA were likely to respond to threat-based advertising (Your kids will become perverted! Communists will take over your neighborhood! Bombs will fall on your local Dairy Queen!), while people who were low in RWA were likely to respond to improvement-based ads (Improve health care for grandma! Increase your state's attractiveness to employers!). Voting out of fear leads to Republicans in power!

I had a guest speaker in my class yesterday: one of our professors who has done a lot of research about gay rights issues. She described ways that anti-gay campaigns are likely to affect the day-to-day functioning of one's gay clients (or non-clients for that matter). Respondents in her study frequently used "Nazi" references in their descriptions of how they felt ("When the amendment passed, I felt like I had woken up in Nazi Germany.")

When research on prejudice first began, it was essentially because researchers wanted to figure out how people in Germany could have allowed things to go so far, and one of the things they came up with was this Authoritarianism business. It certainly played a big part in that system degenerating into such wickedness. So these references to Nazism are not at all out of place in the current political atmosphere. We are high in RWA and we are responding to threat-based political propaganda--fear!

I can't help but remember the seemingly far-fatched conclusion reached by Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine: that an undercurrent of fear in the U.S. is creating all kinds of social ills.

In light of what I've seen lately, I think I'm beginning to agree with that.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Over the weekend, workedworkedworked. Got up at some crazy hour Saturday (only partly on purpose; see previous post), slept in until 7 (!!) on Sunday, then today got up at 3am. To work more, more, more. (With a rebel yell.)

The only way to survive this is to take a couple of 15-20 minute naps during the day, even if it's at my desk. The thing that makes it so hard is that I also have to think and do really hard brainwork during all those extra-long awake hours.

Out of birdseed, suet, onion bagels. Within 12 hours will be out of TP, milk, chocolate soymilk, squirrel peanuts, frozen homemade soup, etc. No time to go to store.

Have plenty of Marmite and tea. However, nothing to put it on or put in it, respectively.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

High-/low- lights:

Started new practicum on Fridays at campus health center--I like it, but am already so stressed and overworked that the whole usual "new job" thing is extremely exhausting. Also put me even further behind on work I've been trying and trying and trying to get done before application deadlines. Days, weeks, even months behind. Advisor still won't let me not apply, dangit.

At least I managed to suddenly get a flu shot. One good thing about working at the health center is that I will notice more medical opportunities, such as the flu shot clinic they held yesterday. I didn't have to prove my wretched-lung status, only state that I have it. The nurse laughed when she saw that on the form I had responded "relief" where it asked "have you ever had any reaction to a flu shot?"

Stayed so long finishing up work yesterday that it was far too dark to feed squirrels by the time I left!

Was so exhausted when I got home that I went to bed early and set my alarm for 5am to get up and work more. Unfortunately, I was so anxious and stressed that it took about an hour to fall asleep. Then around midnight, people outside heading for the bar woke me with their drunken shouting. Hard time falling asleep again.

Then around 2:30, people outside returning from the bar to stand around in the parking lot woke me with their even drunker, angrier shouting (exchanged at length with some other tenants in my building who were also woken up).

, at 3:50am, I was woken up again by a man in my building shouting continuous abuse for 15 or 20 minutes at someone. I determined that he was in the hallway, but refused to stick my head out to see exactly where. This is because he was saying (to one of my neighbors, apparently), and I quote, "WHY would you say that about me? WHY? WHY? WHY would you say that, you bitch? ... Go ahead, call the cops! ... I'm gonna break into this apartment and kill you! ... I'm gonna beat your head in! ... I'm gonna break in and stab you!"

At "break into this apartment" I decided that it was time for me to call the cops, so I did. They got there pretty quickly, but the guy must have already left. I didn't hear any killing noises. In fact, I didn't hear a peep out of whomever was being called "bitch," so either she was prudently not responding to him, or she wasn't home, and he was threatening an empty apartment.

Anyway, by then it was 4:30 and I had slept about three hours total. I want some word to express the extreme level of frustration I felt, but there isn't one.

Today, worked forever on big giant thing due last week, then re-re-rescheduled to be due yesterday...still not done. Other huge application tasks also hanging over head on very thin thread. I was determined to make it to campus in time to toss out a few peanuts today, but was about 20 minutes too dark.

Luckily for me, there was one little critter out past squrfew. Consolation squirrel.

Now, back to working.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

(Why does my profile still state that my average number of posts per week is 0?)

Although I was feeling pretty happy with myself today, what with writing a very nice letter of rec for a student, having most of the re-re-re-re-revisions of my thesis done, and teaching, I ended up being completely "hated on" in a number of ways today.

First, my students are upset because of the Great Scantron Scandal, in which a huge number of their midterms were messed up by the scantron. I didn't find this out until I had already posted their grades with a pretty high "curve" (18 points). It's the first test I've ever made, and I thought maybe I had done something to make it really hard. So, lo and behold, after a bunch of people in the class went over their tests with the key, it was determined to be a scantron problem, so I re-scored them all by hand and completely redid their grades. This turned out to be more what you would expect a class to be--a normal curve. So my dilemma was what to do about those 18 points? Some people were extremely happy to get 106 percent or whatever. So today I handed out a poll asking what they thought was the fairest way for me to deal with this. I got comments like "we work harder for your class than any other so why don't you give us a BREAK!!!"

Now, it would be easy to say ... maybe I am a real hardass as far as class stuff goes, and that's why they're upset (well, okay, a couple of them). However, I have really tried to make my section of the class easier than the sections of other instructors. We have the same reading as the other classes, which I admit is a lot.

But instead of intermittent, biggish journals, (which are also graded for grammar and spelling), I give quite short weekly assignments--over the Internet for crying out loud--I don't grade for any grammar or spelling, I give nearly everyone a 9 or 10 out of 10 (even those who it's obvious made the least attempt possible), and even if their answers are wrong I still give points if their thinking is reasonable. Also, I am the only instructor who gives points just for plain ol' attendance (I've even structured it to give extra credit points overall if they attend every class), and so on.

So the upshot is, I do give them a break! Every week when I grade their assignments, give them points for showing up, give random extra credit questions in class, and also give them extra credit opportunities as other people's research permits. So I'm not really happy about that"tone". Especially since I am very open to suggestions or whatever. I would have heard the words without all that rage!

So, okay, there was that.

Next, I was outside standing near the usual stone benches, happily feeding a couple squirrels to salve my wounded ego. A young woman approached me with an odd expression on her face (I thought at first there might be a witnessing a-comin') and said, "You know, when you feed those squirrels, they come up to other people, too." She was so upset and angry that her lips were actually shaking as she spoke.

Completely submarined by this, I answered pleasantly, "Yes, sometimes they do." She replied venomously, "Even people who don't want to be bothered with squirrels." As if in illustration, another squirrel hopped gaily over to my foot. She cringed away from it, even raising one leg.

If I had had the presence of mind, what I should have said was, "Now lissen, lady. Ever since students have been eating on campus, squirrels have been approaching people for their scraps. Those of us who feed them are just taking advantage of this for our own entertainment. Nobody came out here and trained the little bastards to run after you." (Although technically, giving them more food would in fact be another layer of reinforcement, but--whatever.)

Of course, what I ended up saying was something like, "They won't do anything to you." And maybe muttered something dopey about a long tradition of people feeding squirrels on campuses, or something. What a day to have my presence of mind fail me.

There were a couple other things, too, but those ones hit me hardest. Bleh.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I am so sleep-deprived at this point that I am having hallucinations! That's right, classic visual hallucinations. Although before I had any training I didn't know that's what they were. I would have called them "swirly spots in my vision from being tired." Mine usually follow a pattern where there's what looks kind of like a ring of distorting glass in my field of vision. (It's a similar sensation to looking at something through your blind spot.) But not only is it distorting, it also has kind of vibrating black-and-white stripes running through it. It's very distracting when I'm trying to work. Inevitably the ring starts out very small and fat near the center of my field of vision, like a little solid circle, and then gradually grows larger and more attenuated. Once it's out of the center of my field of vision, I can work sort of "through" it as it grows larger and eventually fades.

Funny, because just last night I was just talking to a relative who called me in a panic because a doctor had suggested she might have hypnagogic hallucinations, and she thought that meant she was crazy (whatever that is.) But anyone can have those, if they stay up until 4am and then get up again at 6. Not that I ever did that, nor did the complex hallucination I didn't have involve a robot standing inexplicably at the foot of my bed.

(However, auditory hallucinations are much more common than visual ones.)

Monday, October 25, 2004

Over the past 4 or 5 days or so:

Introduced TheLimey to the thrill of tossing peanuts three floors down to the parking lot to waiting blue jays and squirrels. Squirrels wait standing on haunches like tiny brown penguins or small begging doggies. Blue jays screech and defy one to toss a peanut--I dare ya!

Spent maybe 40 hours working on thesis and quals, quals and thesis. Yes, they're supposedly "done" but both lack final approval. Tiny revisions turning out to be really big long things. Details depressing, so I won't post them. Still not done, of course, and here comes the week. Man, I am so behind, especially in stuff that needs to get done for/before internship applications November 15th.

Lots of angsting about applying to internships. Yikes! Feel half-hatched and unprepared for application process. Don't even have a CV yet! Nor a personal statement! And my Palm Pilot wiped out nearly two years of calendar entries, thus obscuring god knows how many hours of pre-practicum experience that I am now attempting to re-create in my spreadsheet.

Plus, Clu broke a hinge over the weekend. That little crack on the corner suddenly got bigger and the casing broke open. TheLimey broke off some bits (Yikes!) and collected them (I immediately shrink-wrapped them) and removed a screw. Looks like the hinge is somehow jammed, and has been progressively pushing out the mooring for the screw that holds the monitor to the body. rEMOVING THE --dammit-- removing the screw at least allows the cover to open and shut, albeit held on by only one hinge.

I have duct-taped over the visible cable as a makeshift protectant.

Oh, can't forget that we also broke off our various tasks early on Saturday (maybe 9:30pm) in order to lie--no, to loll-- in bed watching Red Dwarf on DVD. Talk about complete and utter decadence. (However, I am still collecting VHS tapes. He can get all the DVDs.)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I just have to post today's TopFive list (I'm cheap so I just get the free version)...

For temporary relief of minor heart pain.
October 21, 2004

The Top 5 Songs About Robots

5> Daneel's Song

4> Born to Be Oiled

3> 10 PRINT "Strawberry Fields" / 20 GOTO 10

2> The Way We Whirr

and's Number 1 Song About Robots...

1> You Can Call Me HAL

Join ClubTop5 to see the whole list

(Technically, some of those look like songs about computers, but...)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I know you will all be as relieved for me as I am when I tell you that today the construction workers finally began laying the asphalt on my street! Oh, sweet mother of god. No more "BEEP--BEEP--BEEP" combined with grinding, crunching, and thumping on a massive scale. No more 3-inch layer of dust on my shoes (nor the rainy-day mud version of the same). No more of same dust filthifying every single item in my apartment and making my asthma worse. YIPPEE!

Of course, once the steady stream of subwoofers begins traveling past my window again, I'm sure I will once again crave some kind of long-distance tech weaponry. (If I could destroy only their speakers, I wouldn't feel guilty!)

The Feminist Majority have some cool items on their eBay fundraiser site; proceeds go to getting women to vote. And since women tend to vote less Elephant and more get my drift. (I can't believe that Wanda Sykes T-shirt is still so cheap! Of course, I think this is still the first day.)
Dangit, UKGeek, you know I have a personality-test compulsion because of my field. How could I not indulge in one with such sheer nerdistry involved?

You are .mpg You live life like it was a movie.  Constantly in motion, you bring pleasure to many, but are often hidden away.
Which File Extension are You?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

All I have to say is, Argotnaut and Frinkenstein's new home is missing only this:

The Galactika toilet seat.

Monday, October 18, 2004

After working on my quals rewrite an awful lot this weekend, including staying up very late last night and setting my alarm for 5am, I awoke with a strange ache in my left arm at about 4:30. It affected my arm from wrist to shoulder. I couldn't figure it out. Did I sleep on it weird? How about weirdly? No position seemed to relieve the pain. Did I overmouse? Seemed likely, and as I settled on the pre-dawn couch to begin working again, it made sense. I took some Advil and tried to find a more neutral position.

As the sky lightened, I began to hear birds outside my kitchen window stirring and cheeping for their breakfast, including the bluejays with their pterodactyl squawk. I refilled the feeder and whistled for the squirrels--both the jays and the squirrels know that's the food call. As soon as I whipped that first peanut out there across the parking lot, I realized what was the matter with my arm.

I splurged on an extra bag of peanuts recently because I had been out of them for a few days. As I sat and wrote in my livingroom all day yesterday, I took frequent breaks to entertain myself by throwing peanuts to the jays and squirrels. I throw them pretty hard, because I want them to reach the other side of the parking lot. But I usually don't throw nearly half a bag of peanuts in one day.

So, yes, I actually hurt myself feeding squirrels!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Don't forget, women readers, that tomorrow (October 19) is Women's Buycott Day (at least in the U.S.). Just delay one little day to get groceries/bookshelf/art supplies/software/Amazon purchase, etc. (See Google for details, of course.)

If women shut their purses and didn't shop for a day, would the economy suffer? The idea gets tested on Oct. 19 by 85 Broads, a networking group founded in 1999 by Janet Hanson, who worked for Goldman Sachs-headquartered at 85 Broad St.

[So] on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 19th, we invite you to leave your checkbook and credit cards at home as a symbolic gesture that we no longer "buy" the glacial pace of change for working women in America. Instead of shopping, go for a walk in the park, write a letter to a friend, enjoy a museum, or help someone in need.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Normally I don't mock poor, defenseless babies, even human ones. However, I can't help laughing at the Ugly Babies Gallery. Especially that one on the far right. I should save that picture for days when I need a good laugh. So, since I have received a request for the link, I'll post it for all to enjoy.

Ugly Babies Gallery

PS: The thumbnail that looks like it might be something horrible isn't.

PPS: Another non-word: ASHphalt (asphalt). Arrrgg!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Yesterday as I speedwalked through piles of sand, broken curbs, and streets that are nothing but dug-up dirt on my way to an early session, my shopping cart threw a wheel. This is pretty bad, as it only had two to begin with. I also had a whole lot of materials and textbooks and whatnot in it, since dragging the cart is much easier than trying to carry it all, despite the aforementioned obstacles (and despite the "bag lady" comments from colleagues. Materialists!) Turns out it's a lot harder to drag a one-wheeled cart through piles of sand, broken curbs, and streets that are nothing but dug-up dirt, than one with two wheels.

Laugh all you want, but I bid on a pair of 8-inch lawnmower wheels on eBay. They were only 50c! Even with shipping, they'll only be a few bucks. You'd be surprised how few 8-inch wheels are out there (that aren't for some kind of non-loadbearing application).

Next week is the midterm for the class I teach. I think I may have written it a bit difficult, but it's hard for me to tell. Sometimes they know a lot more than I give them credit for, and other times they seem clueless about things that seem really basic and obvious to me. Today I gave them a one-sheet study guide for the midterm, featuring a two-column list of terms.

Then I told them that they are allowed to bring this sheet into the exam with notes on one side of it. (I also said if the writing is really tiny and fills the page, they are being way too obsessive about the exam!)

Now I wonder if I'm being too easy on them?? Earlier I worried I was being too hard.

Note to self: stop leaving boots, plastic bags of noodles, at other people's houses.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I did a Google search and discovered that so far, there don't seem to be a lot of (any?) references to "Twilight of the Year". So, hey, I actually did coin a phrase! Nifty. Don't steal it for a book, though, because that's what I am using it for. (However, you have my full permission to use it for an album or painting title!)

Now, if only I had time to get back to actually writing fiction... (but please, not the way Frinkenstein did!)

However, I'm still collecting the stories of others...

(I may change the email address on that. I put my gmail address on it, which may be singularly stupid. I'm not sure.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The trees have gone all beautiful over the last week. Squirrels are looking plump: the pregnant ones even plumper than the others, of course. Starlings are appearing again, which they seem to do approximately three weeks after each equinox (or "the Twilight of the Year," as I call it. You may use it as long as you credit me!)

Construction is still occurring in my street beginning at about 7am every day, which makes me not want to go outside for my jog. The workers haven't even been rude or anything, it's just that I absolutely hate them at this point, through no fault of their own. After approximately seven months of this constant SKREEeeeeeeEEEEEEeeeekkkk..... BEEP--BEEP--BEEP ....kaCHOONkaCHOONkaCHOONka.... BEEP--BEEP--BEEP ..... SKREEE--EEeeeeEEEeeekk ... THUDD! .... THUDD! ... THUDD! (months during which I rewrote my entire thesis three times, mind you), I have been pretty thoroughly conditioned to passionately hate them. After all, these kinds of conditions even make lab animals infertile.

I ended up avoiding going outside a lot more than usual, which is too bad, because I feel like I got no summer this year. My house was constantly invaded by thick filth floating in through the windows on a daily basis. And then there have been the times when I awoke to absolutely no water for several days, sometimes with warning, sometimes not. And guests had to park a block away, which shouldn't be a big deal except that we invariably have to make a few trips in order to carry all my piles of books and articles upstairs. (Or away.) And the streets and sidewalks have been torn up and/or blocked of by barriers or giant mountains of one type of dirt or another, so that walking to anywhere while dragging my cart full of books was like a curse of some kind.

So there I was all summer, (doubly) covered in filth, all my materials and equipment similarly covered in filth, unable to make tea or have a shower, listening to the above noises for hours on end beginning by 7am, trying to re-re-re-write my thesis. During 94-degree weather.

No wonder I hate them!

However, I am hopeful that they may be done just in time for winter, as they laid the new curb (or kerb, or bordstein, depending whence you're reading this) in the past couple of days.

Have been running hither and yon trying to get my committee to sign off on the miniscule revisions I needed to make. Have to turn it in to the grad school by the 15th in order to apply for graduation this December. Unfortunately, a committee member today decided that the changes they had mutually decided on (and executed by me) are a) not enough and/or b)not done to satisfaction, so he (today) came up with another list of things for me to change.

Today! He decided this today.

Three days before the turn-in date.

My defense was--what, three weeks ago? Wherein they all mutually, together, as approved by my advisor, decided on what I should change then. And now there's more. With this kind of turnaround time I'll be lucky to graduate next June.

I've had so much to do lately what with new clients and community outreach groups in the offing, teaching a new class, trying to do internship applications, trying to get a handhold on beginning my dissertation, proposing a paper for AWP, and so on. Yesterday as we were discussing how to get my dissertation study approved by the end of December, my advisor shook her head and said, "You are going to be busy this fall."

As opposed to what? The way in which I've been slacking off so much of late?! Sheez.

I have been wondering why I have been so tired all the time lately... Huh.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Having finished my thesis (except the part where I'm running around trying to get signatures) was a little like dragging an old mattress out of a closet I wanted to clean out. Too bad that when I finally got it out, a cartload of other stuff turned out to be stacked up behind it, and is now tumbling down in an avalanche on my head. I don't think there's anything I've gotten finished in "good time" in the past two years. Maybe three.

Getting back to "jogging" in the mornings. Mainly for mood control, since it helps my worry about school stuff shrink to manageable size. Also immediately began sleeping through the night again. Furthermore, reduces my need for a midday nap. All this despite the fact that this is basically just a 1/4-1/2 mile trot around the park! Amazing how much it helps. But I have to do it before 7 or 7:30am, or else it starts feeling like it's edging into my work time. It doesn't fix everything, but it's close to a miracle cure for a lot of stuff, minute for minute.

Return of cool weather = nesty impulses, including cooking and baking. Need to piece together that pink sweater I knitted this summer, too. Had the foresight to purchase window-insulating plastic the exact last week before it turned cool.

TheLimey claims he somehow beat me up in his sleep in the middle of the night last night, but I have no memory of being pummeled or kicked. As far as I know, I slept better than I have in a couple weeks!

Well, better pack up my stuff again to return home and try to do more work. Writing the midterm exam for my students, which is far better than taking an exam, but also far more time-consuming. Hope they read the text!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Another weird referrer to my blog. Like the virtual stock market on Neopets, but for blogs.

I wonder if someone bought mine??

As typically happens in Michigan, the weather suddenly changed over the weekend. Last week it was summer, this week distinctly winterish. (Okay, except for today, which has been aberrantly hot and even brought out a few lingering cicadas.) Anyway, I had to take the fans out of the windows and replace the electric blanket on the bed. You'd think there would be some time in between, wherein I don't need any devices to moderate the temperature, but that is never the case.

Reading Wicked, a Mistress-of-Science gift from the Limey. I can't believe it's been made into a musical already. Didn't it just come out, like, last year? Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister was pretty good, too. It all goes along with my short-story collecting obsession, anyhow.

And speaking of Amazon (which I was) I am pretty disillusioned about this whole book-reviewing business. I finally realized that the "helpful" vs. "non-helpful" rating system really has little, if anything, to do with people who are interested in buying books using the reviews to do so. It's actually just about how much other people agree with your assessment of books they've already read. (Probably with other factors thrown in, like how terrible your typing is or isn't). Which means that those with the highest ratings are those with whom the most people agree. In other words, people who have average or "typical" taste, and can express it as such!


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Have been alternating between cheerful optimism and bleak pessimism, punctuated by frequent 3:30 am wake-up calls of sheer panic and dread/nightmares about applications to internships. Most have application dates of November 15th, which is not very far off considering the things I have to get done (and get others to do) by then.

  • 1. Have thesis committee actually sign off on the revisions I made, so that thesis is considered officially "done". Am expecting/experiencing some difficulties in this area once again. You would think these people would want me out of here!
  • 2. Must propose dissertation...for some sites; for others it's a matter of having it close to proposed. Mine is maybe close.
  • 3. Must rewrite a section of that blanged Quals/Comps paper, as many sites require that a person pass their comps before application. We just got them back today, and frankly I'm almost surprised that I didn't have to rewrite all four sections, considering that was the week I was also redoing my entire thesis. Anyway, not a terrible shock, but is yet another thing to do.
  • 4. Must find certain supervisors and professors (3 or 4) to write personalized letters of reference specific to each application site. Since it is recommended that we apply to between 10 and 15 sites, this could mean managing the sending of between 30 to 60 letters of reference. And all by means of asking people for favors. Sheez.
  • 5. Most upsetting to me is realizing how few "contact hours" (with clients) I have accumulated. After our second year (a bit over a year ago) I was actually ahead of the game, as my practicum worked me somewhat mercilessly. I had great plans for last year to be the year in which I got a lot of experience in assessments and in group therapy.
  • Unfortunately, after the deaths in my family last summer, a lot of my plans went completely by the wayside. I could barely drag myself through my classes and research, and my clinic experience is what suffered the most timewise. Not to mention that whole other incident that happened a few months later just as I was beginning to pull myself together... I have spent the past 8 months or so just trying to catch up on a lot of that stuff. Therefore, I have now ended up being one of the people with the least face-to-face time, which of couse was the exact opposite of my plan.
  • And our clinic (where I am right now) does not have very many clients, as this is the first year that we have had students from all three years (i.e. 35 potential therapists, instead of the 10 we had when we were the only cohort.) So I am actually getting 0 client hours as we speak.

I have been hearing some of my colleagues talking about staying another year (one of them is actually doing so). I am beginning to wonder if I am crazy to try to apply with so few practicum hours, and my dissertation still so unformed, or if I am crazy to think of staying another year (tick-tock, tick-tock!). Perhaps I am simply crazy! I don't know, but this waking up terrified in the middle of the night all the time is getting kind of tiring.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

My aunt Jerrie is showing some of her work at a show in Illinois this weekend, so I threw together a really quick blog where I posted her stuff. Just so she would be able to have something to tell customers who ask if she has a website. I used frikkin' Geocities to make an entry page at, but of course unless you pay a cartload of money you can't even have live link on the page. Oh well. At least it's up there.
Seeing Maya Angelou was kind of like well-seasoned charcoal. It doesn't appear to be doing much, but then it keeps on cooking for a long time after.

She mentioned that audience members should go visit their librarian and ask for various kinds of poetry, and that the librarian would stare for a full two minutes before responding, as she or he would be unused to anyone actually asking for anything. She also adjured students to visit their instructors' office hours, because a good student can make a mediocre instructor great by showing interest. So I pretty much concurred with her on those points. She had some very interesting and personal things to say about her own life and how it led to where she is today.

I am thinking of little 16-year-old (but six-foot-tall) Maya standing outside the UN building, pregnant and unmarried, and how others must have viewed her. How do we see pregnant teenagers? Young Black women full of doubt and worry and defiance? And yet look how she came through that, not by denying or whitewashing anything about herself, but by putting it all out there for others to see and identify with. It's the weaknesses we're hiding that would make others love us.

Melanie and I left the building by the back door, at my insistence, as I wanted to walk across the sweet-smelling grass alone in the dark instead of across the pavement with the hundreds of other audience members in the halogen lights. The grass sloped precipitously down to a parking lot behind the Convocation Center, and as I waited for Melanie to inch down (she fell down a hill once and is now extremely careful on slopes) I realized that the bus in the lot was The Bus that Dr. Angelou now travels about the country in.

As it pulled away, I waved, silhouetted against the one light in the lot. Flickering lights appeared at the front of the bus for a moment, and then stopped. (So I choose to think that Maya Angelou's driver "waved" back to us.)

Thursday, September 30, 2004

I am terribly tempted to blurt out some question tonight like this one from an episode of the Simpsons:

Lenny: [at microphone] Uh yeah, I'm a
techno-thriller junkie, and I'd

like to know,is the B-2 bomber more

detectible when it rains?
Kent: Oh, what do you think, Tom Clancy?
Clancy: Well, the B-2--
Lenny: No, no, no, I was asking Maya Angelou!
Angelou: The ebony fighter awakens, dabbled

with the dewy beads of morn.
Moe: Maya Angelou is black?
Angelou: It is a mach-5 child, forever bound
to suckle from the shriveled breast

of congress.
Lenny: Oh, Maya, you're a national treasure!

Oh, I'm sure I'll be able to resist. But still.

[Reference: Insane Clown Poppy episode]

Found myself OWP again today, but it was just because I had such a run on peanuts yesterday. I was on campus in the evening, and in the (quad? diag?) found myself feeding 4 squirrels, 2 chipmunks and 2 bluejays--and a Northern Brown Flicker was lingering in the branches overhead. While I was feeding one squirrel, another came over and grabbed a finger on the hand I wasn't paying attention to. With his teeth, but not hard. It felt exactly like someone with long nails gently pinching my finger, except much cuter.

Oh, and the reason that I was on campus in the evening was to pick up the congratulatory flowers sent by Argotnaut & Frinkenstein! They smelled very woodsy and delicious. I realized that this is the only time in my life anyone has ever given me flowers! (Is that normal?) Anyway, I like flowers a lot, so it was very nice.

Well, better grade some papers and upload a new assignment.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

After a couple good nights' sleep, I'm beginning to feel motivated again. Yes, I'm still buried in work, but they're medium-to-large chunks instead of giant superhuman ones, so at least I can breathe. And my "patented" treatment works as well as always. Whew!

Turns out that if you cut a baguette before vacuum-sealing it, you get bread jerky. Though it's very well-preserved bread jerky.

Had to avoid squirrelific areas on campus yesterday, as I found myself Out Without Peanuts. I hate when I'm OWP! Luckily, today I remembered to refill the bag, so I was able to walk with head held up through the squirrel areas again.

Tomorrow Maya Angelou is going to be speaking here. In all the hubbub I forgot to get tickets, so now I will see if any are still left. My colleague Melanie wants to go, too. This may be the first non-school sociable kind of thing I've done in months! (If I can get tickets, that is.) Well, I mean besides relationship stuff, which is a different sort of high priority.