Friday, December 30, 2005

There comes a dog warmly welcomed

A Big Long Rambling Post That Starts With a Funny Picture.

I saw this nativity photo and thought that the addition of the golden lab was a humorous touch. (Look out! He's going to snorfle and drool on the baby Jesus!)

So most of our Yule stuff is still out; primarily the tree, lights, and boxes therefrom. Some things I have begun to put away, such as the candles and the music (Rosy English Children Singing in Large Echoey Spaces and A Very Wretched Christmas With Authentic Irish Miners).

I had this week to stay at home and try to catch up on everything I haven't done for the past 4 months, as well as prepare for my two new classes and half dozen interviews which begin next week. So naturally I started getting sick on the last leg of the train journey home Monday.

I haven't been horribly ill, as I would if I hadn't gotten my flu shot, for example. But I am definitely glad I don't have to venture out or be around people. This year, I think I just wore my defenses thin.

Actually, I don't know what the heck illness this is. It's flu-like and I've been running a fever, but it has been a normal degree of uncomfortable illness instead of something that sends me to the E.R., as flu generally does. (Maybe it's flu after all, but reduced in severity because of the vaccination?)

Whatever virus (of this sort) I get, it always begins with a sore throat. Then the next day it progresses to being a sore larynx and pharynx, with stuffy nose. Then those begin fading away somewhat and I think I'm getting better. Then it moves to my lungs and starts a whole new life.

I still have a bit of laryngitis, and a heck of a lot of coughing. Usually dextromethorphan and guaifenisin (sp?) take care of that enough that I can sleep. (If not, I can add Nyquil, if I catch it in time.)

However, the other night we made the brilliant decision to try some instant chai we had gotten as a gift--in the evening right before bed. Duh. When we were still giggling in the dark about being awake at 12:30, I should have guessed what the problem was.

But it wasn't until around 4:30 am, when I was still awake (and coughing) in the living room by myself, that I made the association with the caffeinated beverage right before bed.

So my recommendation would be: don't try new forms of caffeine right before bed!

As Argot has introduced me to a new form of to-do list (which you can view over there in my second blogroll), I get to display online exactly how very slowly I am accomplishing the things I've been waiting to do this week, for-positively-ever. Like going through all my post from August and since.

One great thing is that TheLimey has gleefully taken my multifarious credit card statements off my hands as he wants to organize them and put them into a spreadsheet. I've been "managing" them online while the paper versions piled up. Now I feel both guilty and -- suddenly weightlessly freed!

I think possibly the fact that a week or so ago I finally broke down in helpless tears about the amount of crap I have to do that never goes away and perpetually looms over my head, may have influenced this convenient turn of events.

Now I am free to focus on sending in all those various other items that were due to be renewed in, say, October.

I might even get around to working on my lesson plans today, if I get through that mail-pile! Now that's a Happy New Year. (Please, don't remind me that we haven't yet sent out our wedding thank-yous and it's been four months.)

Next week: four(4!) internship interviews. Yikes! Two phone interviews and two on-site interviews in Ohio. Four more interviews in the subsequent two weeks as work begins again.

If that seems to add up to eight interviews instead of the seven I mentioned, it's because it does. But only because one of the sites conducts phone interviews and then also hosts an "open house" so you can see the location in person.

It's generally considered much better to show up in person, no matter how much they protest that phone interviewees will receive "full consideration", so I plan on attending the "open house".

Some places conduct only phone interviews for everyone, in order to avoid unfairly privileging those who can afford to travel across the country for in-person interviews. I kind of like that, but I also regret that I can't turn on the warmth and charm as well over the phone as in person.

Anyway, wish me luck!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Little Help?

In the interests of promoting the production of literature.

Okay, how do these spelling variations strike you at first glance as far as how you would pronounce this name? (No overthinking allowed!)




Mainly for Liddy

Blatant rat sketch thievery from this site. Not even because I can't draw rats, but because I'm too lazy (busy?) to be bothered with all that. (So I just added chakras.)

A pleasant drawing: Anodea, the rat with the midnight blue heart chakra. (As you can see, it had to be switched with his throat chakra, which is now green.)

(Ah, Silver, ye knew not what ye wrought.)

There was just no way I was making a koala with a salmon spleen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sucked In...

...again again AGAIN! Thanks to the carbon-unit mega-meta-internet filter interface known as my sister (Argotnaut).

You are OS X. You tend to be fashionable and clever despite being a bit transparent.  Now that you've reached some stability you're expecting greater popularity.
Which OS are You?

Didn't realize just how transparent I was, nor that I had reached stability!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Very Squirrel Christmas

Originally uploaded by Squirrel Hugger.
Hope your holy-days are happy!

Chicago Christmas

Millers Pub Inside
Originally uploaded by doctorlizardo.
We had our own Christmas on Friday at home, as we were going to Illinois to visit my grandmother who is 90 years old and couldn't make it to the wedding. (And possibly not to the next year.)

We saw Chicago's Union Station, me for the billionth time, TheLimey for the first time. We rode the glass elevator at Marshall Field's, which I now hear is closing! What a shame.

We rented a car and ventured out into the Illinois prairie to stay with my cousin. The prairie--or, as TheLimey put it when he awoke and, stunned, saw the landscape in daylight for the first time, "The middle of f*in nowhere!" (I found this hilarious.)

To underscore the outback-ness of the land of my ancestors, I found a chilly little possum just sitting on a tree branch in my grandma's yard at eye level.

You can see the photographic evidence here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Roundup

1. Internet has been out at home. I got up yesterday at 5:30 to begin my internet-related tasks, and it wasn't happening. It continued not happening all day long and through this morning. For all I know, it'll still be out when I go back there. Very frustrating,as this is a period of intense emailing and posting stuff. I think I have actually been experiencing the irritation and anxiety of withdrawal about this. (Note: not "withdrawl". Gosh!)

2. My students became insane at the end of the semester. Not all of them, really just a few. But those ones made up for the other 77. Wanting extensions for the work, Incompletes for the class, extended Incompletes, wildly accusing me of losing assignments (when in fact I had already told them that those assignments weren't graded yet), etc. The blizzard on the day / evening of the final did not help, and a number of people had to take a make-up final.

3. I gave weekly assignments/quizzes in my classes because one of our profs did that to make sure people did the readings. (I hear it worked.) It was okay to do it when I had one class. However, it just about killed me this semester when I had two classes totalling 80 people. Today I saw that prof and asked her about it. She told me that the whole reason she did it was that the textbook company she used had an internet quiz service available--she didn't grade them herself at all! "Oh, no, that would have killed me!" she joked pleasantly in her jaunty South African accent.

And here I just thought I was having trouble with it because I was simply not organized enough. Good grief.

4. I often pick up self-help / self-development books that I think might be useful for clients (or heck, for me!). Recent favorite, even if only for the title: (Regardless What You've Been Taught to Believe) There is Nothing Wrong With You. Good if you can accept material through a zen Buddhism-type lens. Might be difficult for some of my more perfectionistic clients, though they probably need it the most.

Friday, December 16, 2005


I find these odd little paintings of cartoon animals compelling.


As a very nice change from last year, I have already amassed six (6!) internship interviews this year. Also two rejections (or was it three?) but hey. A lot better than last year, which was maybe two interviews out of 17 applications. I guess now that we have had our official site visit from the APA and are likely to be accredited soon, we look a heckuva lot better.

I guess this means that I will still be hearing from a few more sites, as I sent out--what, 15? 16?--applications. Frankly, I now actually hope there are more rejections coming, as I don't know how I could schedule any more out-of-town interviews in the first few weeks of January as it is. It will be crayzeeee!

I better get my lesson plans for January in order right now, (meaning next week or so--still not done grading the current classes' stuff and grades are due Wednesday!) ) as there will clearly be no time to do it as I go along, as usual.

Update: Now it's 7. Boy, do I feel wanted!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New Dental Research

Now, what do you s'pose this means for unicorns?

Hot Topic

Two events prompted this post. First, a conversation I recently heard at a get-together (not my colleagues for once, so they were normal, non-psychologist people, I might add) and then an email from my sister.

The conversation I heard consisted of an individual discussing the oh-so-humorous subject of people he knows using the "punishment" technique of burning a child's tongue/mouth with hot sauce. I was pretty shocked (especially at the cavalier attitude), but there were some other important things going on at the time so I was distracted. (Not that a party-contextual lecture at this guy would have helped anything anyway, I'm guessing.)

The email consisted of a description of a dinner guest of my sister's who could not tolerate (delicious!) spicy Ethiopian fare they were serving because--you guessed it--her parents had used "hot saucing" when she was a child.

My first reaction to all this is...are people nuts??

I see enough individuals with eating disorders and anxiety disorders and depression every work day to know this is creepy and bizarre. I mean, permanently making an association in your child's mind between eating--eating in general, hot food in particular--and punishment / pain / humiliation and so bad. Really, really bad. Do not attempt this at home, folks.

For another thing, if there's any activity you ever want your child to be able to voluntarily participate in as an adult, then for the love of God don't use that activity as a "punishment"! (Duh!)

Common things used in violation of this premise are: household chores, homework, exercise, and eating nutritious foods. As I personally love spicy foods (more the older I get)--and eating in general--I would never risk something so important on something so retributive, unseemly, and out-and-out dumb as this. (Those are clinical terms.)

My second reaction was...oh yeah, people doing this are nuts!

After all, the current poster child for this fad is Lisa Whelchel, former Mouseketeer and child actress, current home-schooling mom. Not, you'll notice, child psychologist, early education specialist, registered pediatric nurse, or developmental researcher. (Or even dog trainer, which--I have great respect for dog trainers, as they know that when it comes to carrot versus stick, carrot totally wins out in terms of behavior change of organisms.)

So, this Whelchel came out with a book that promotes "creative" "correction". Read those words very slowly, out loud, with enunciation, for proper effect. Don't you feel like you just said a line from a movie about Nazis? Can you guess how I feel about being "creative" (rather than consistent) in the ways a person punishes [read: wreaks revenge upon] a child? (Adults might pay hard-earned money to dungeonmasters for that kind of "creativity", but...children?)

There is a good aggregation of discussion about this at uggabugga. Especially the collected customer reviews, followed by this quote from the author:

I have three children, ages 8,9 & 10, including a son diagnosed with ADHD. It was out of sheer desperation that I came up with many of the discipline ideas in this book.

Yep, they're pretty desperate ideas, alright--and she even has a diagnosis for one child. But she's just not desperate enough to try a few months of simple family therapy / parent training. Now, that would be evil.

Meanwhile, the state of Virginia (for example) considers this practice one that can trigger an investigation of abuse.

This whole concept is from the same school of thought that brought us the texts of Dobson.

A reviewer: "My father used Dobson's methodology ... If you wish to die alone in a nursing home, I suggest you listen to [Dobson]. There is not a day that I don't dream of lashing my old man..."

As an alternative, here's my recommendation for a non-freakish method of training children parents. When actually used as recommended (instead of haphazardly tossed into a chaotic mix of random behaviors and "techniques") parents do seem to find it's magical-seeming.


Don't forget that tomorrow (11:15 EST or 1615Z) is the full moon (Long Nights Moon). Just in case you want to tip up a glass of winter ale, or toss grain on the ground, burn a Yulish candle, or whatever.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Friday, December 09, 2005

Restoration of Birdliness

I am happy to say that the bird feeders I have been assiduously (and in some cases surreptitiously) placing in the back-patio area since August are finally bearing little feathery fruit (to horrifically mix my analogies in midstream).

The bluejays (AKA noisy pterodactyls) were naturally the first to begin making regular visits, as their beady little eyes can spot peanuts on a plastic lawn chair from orbit. For a long time I thought that would be all we would get, even though this seems to be a very birdful area. Then winter hit.

The first songbird-y kind of creatures were juncos, happily doing their hopping little scratch-dance on the ground under the feeder. (Okay, feeders.) Then within only a day or two arrived a brace of tufted titmouses, with their cute little pointy heads.

Soon a brace of house finches (whose song I linked to above), male and female, began visiting. "Proper robins!" exclaimed TheLimey when I pointed these out, as American robins are big and bulky elephantine things compared to English robins, which do look a lot like house finches.

I've only seen a few sparrows, which means maybe they won't hog the entire feeder contents (blocking the songbirds) in ten minutes flat like at my last residence. I have seen a lot of chickadees in the area, so it seems likely that we should get some soon. Especially since they tend to travel in the company of those tufted titmouses. I can also hear nuthatches, which like suet cakes, in the trees around the house, and some other unidentifiable woodpecker-y sounding bird. I hope it likes suet, too.

The only problem is that in these little condos, of course there are a lot of pet cats who spend a lot of time slinking around our patio. Some are already actively hiding in the greenery under the feeders and stalking my birdies, dammit. Maybe I will get a taller board...though now the ground is frozen.

The only squirrels around here are still quite wild, but then I haven't actively pursued training them yet.

The Great 3D Debate

As I had recorded the recent 3D Episode of Medium, I have been waiting to view it until I could get some actual 3D glasses. Evidently some were included in the TV Guide for that week, but we did not get one in time. So I ordered some online. (Now, that's a cool site.)

Now that I have them, I plan to look at every single 3D image available online, as well as making my own. "Making your own?" scoffs TheLimey, "you mean, along with writing a book, painting, and doing music?" I am scandalized at his doubt, but then he has only known me whilst I have been attending grad school.

So anyway. We watched the episode, and TheLimey was most unimpressed by the stickoutiness of the 3D scenes. (Nevertheless, he dutifully put the glasses on at each prompt.) I tried to defend it, but a lot of the online pix I have seen do look a lot better.

I am wondering if we might simply have the wrong glasses for this particular process. Now that I am looking, there seem to be a lot of different types. Red/cyan (which I think is what we have), red/green, and it looks like some glasses have the red on different sides (L/R). So, who knows. (*Update: turns out ours are anaglyph ones [most widely used] so they were the right kind after all.)

Anyway, that's a really cool photo of the moon that I linked to up there, even if I'm using red and blue glasses instead of the recommended red and green.

Slithery Conditions

Today there is a blizzardish type phenomenon over Michigan, which makes me doubly happy that I have a work-at-home day today anyway. Last night as the snow was beginning it took me over an hour to drive the 20 or so miles home. At least I was able to take my usual winding dark country backroad route.

I know that sounds terrible, but the alternative is taking the highway. At least people are more careful and slow on the back roads, and there are places to pull over if I want to allow all those 40mph drivers go past so I can continue driving 30. Which I did, several times.

The scary part of slippery weather driving is not the slippery part: even if I slide off the road and run into a tree, at 30mph what's going to happen? The scary part is Other Cars. Therefore, the back road option is far superior. I can go as slow as I want, and escape Other Cars when necessary. However, on the highway, people are still trying to go 80, and I can't get away from them. It's on the highway that people die outright in the kind of accident we walked away from recently, as we see on the news all the time.

I might go to the grocery store two blocks away today, if anything. I could even walk if I felt like it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Finals Time busy for profs, too.

As I had to cancel my Psych of Women class last week, I posted my lecture for that chapter online for the students. (Just because they don't have enough reading as it is!)

The school is just getting projector/computer stands in the classrooms, so next semester I can do all PowerPoint, all semester if I so choose!

Which is cool, when you consider that
a) movie clips can be inserted into PowerPoint, and
b) I have a device that allows me to capture analog video to clips

(I wonder what snippets of Dr. Who would be applicable to any Psych class?)

Next semester I teach Personality again, which means that the suffering of the poor guinea pigs of this year will allow the next class to have a cool section. I also have been asked at rather short notice to teach Prejudice & Discrimination again, which is fine because I already have the prep done for it. (Whew!)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Magical Disappearing Blog

For some reason my blog disappeared. I can get to the posting/editing area of Blogger just fine, but when I try to view my blog directly, Blogger tells me that it can't be found. I've tried republishing and so forth, but no dice. So I have no idea if anyone can even see this post!