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?