Friday, November 30, 2007

The last post

Well, of NaBloPoMo, anyway.

It's been a long and busy month and I've by no means managed to post every day. But I gave it a shot, posted more than I normally would, and that pleases me.

In all of this, I think I've learned that it's often difficult for me to find something to write about on a daily basis. I don't know what the reason for this is - privacy? boring life? too much other stuff going on? who knows? - but it's made it difficult not only to write things, but also to shove stuff out into the world of cyberspace that I think is at least not too me-centric, if not somehow worthwhile of being read.

And so, I'm going to keep posting. And I'm going to keep wrestling about what I want to do here, and how I can make this more interesting for me, and hopefully for other people too. I have visions of a better design. More photos. A wider variety of topics (preferably some arising from me having more things to talk about simply because I'm doing more.) And hopefully this space will evolve as I go. I suppose it's come a ways already, and it's just hard for me to see, given all the time that's passed. But I have high hopes that as I keep going, it'll turn more and more into the vision I have in my head, as amorphous and undefined as that might be right now. But it's been an interesting road, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A fine line

There are lots of fine lines in my world. Today, I dicovered a new one.

Today, I have learned that there is a fine line between enthusiasm and stupidity. It is enthusiatic to want to bike to and from campus the day after an hour long walk and an hour and a half of aikido. Apparently, it is stupid to actually attempt it, though.

This distinction is based on the fact that I was so tired on campus that I was forced to walk my bike home, and am now almost incapable of moving. My plans for tonight? No movement, except for maybe to the tub for an epsom salt bath. Despite the pain, it actually sounds rather lovely.

I did it!

No...not posted everyday. It's probably pretty obvious by now that I fell off that particular bandwagon when things started getting crazy. But, given how much I have posted after all, I'm happy with the results of NaBloPoMo.

However, out of the post I wrote a little while ago, I managed to in touch with the campus aikido people, and went to my first club meeting last night. I'm feeling it today (those poor shoulders!), but it feels so good to get back to it, and to actually be using my body for something other than sitting and writing. Plus, everyone was really nice and friendly.

I'm rather pleased at how easily a fairly large portion of what I already knew came back to me, especially in terms of falling and rolling. To be fair, part of this pleasure is derived from the fact that remembering all of this is likely to save me from a variety of the injuries that tend to come from repeatedly being thrown to the ground. I walked into the class, fully expecting to do a bloody face plant at some point during the evening but, happily, that wasnt to be, and I got to walk out almost as intact as I walked in.

There are only two more classes this semester, but I imagine I'll be keeping this up when they start back again at the beginning of next semester, and possibly adding in some adult swim lessons too to keep me moving and out of the apartment a bit more than I have been. Hello, healthier lifestyle...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

While I'm not American and actually celebrated Thanksgiving in October, I hope everyone celebrating today has a lovely day, and plenty of things to be thankful for in their lives.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I'm tired...

...which apparently has made this ranking thing make me feel way happier than it should.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

In recent news...

I'm happy to report that I got into Really Big City (RBC) only an hour behind schedule, and have been laying low here ever since. And, really, by laying low I mean running around, eating yummy food, seeing new friends, and generally enjoying myself after a month of crazy work.

There's still work to do, but I felt like I pretty much arrived and, minus the immediate stressed of home, collapsed into a little puddle of needs-a-break, and therefore responded to my body's (admittedly overt) signals in the best way I knew how.

So, now that I'm caught back up on my need to do things like lie on the couch, watch TV, and wander aimlessly through parks doggie-watching, what's the plan of attack for this week? Happily, I finished off a whole bunch of work before packing myself up and loading myself onto the plane, which leaves me with only a few things to work on at the moment.

- edit the parts of my dissertation proposal that are already drafted
- send those aforementioned bits of my proposal to my supervisor for leisurely reading on his end
- create a draft of the methodology for the same proposal, which is obviously taking up an obscene amount of thought and energy right now
- prep some syllabus readings for next year
- make up for the few blog posts that I left out due to travel and other engagements for NaBloPoMo
- have a lovely Thanksgiving with the not-yet-family-but-close-enough
- see some more friends
- eat some of the food groups that I have yet to get my hot little hands on, specifically Mexican, Thai, and the good sushi place
- take an afternoon to wander some more parks in the sun and the cold, rather like the first time that I came to visit

While there's certainly some work that needs to be done, nothing on that list is all that painful and that last four aren't even work at all, which is probably the most lovely way to set up a to-do list. While this visit isn't entirely a vacation, it does feel like a nice break, at the very least, and I'm going to enjoy it as much as I possibly can. In the meantime, I hope everyone else is having as nice a weekend as I am.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

First to fall

Well, I'm just too busy to post. Between class, meetings, packing, and catching a flight tomorrow, I just don't have the time or the energy to do a post, and it's possible that tomorrow will be a wash. But, I've posted more in the last few days than I have in ages, and that's something that I can live with.

Monday, November 12, 2007

An easy out after a crazy day

William Shakespeare

Never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet, and her Dailyethnography.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oh, the excitement!

Given yesterday's rather dour post, and the onset of weather that has prevented me from running yet again, I decided to kill the getting out of the house bird and the fitness bird in one fell swoop, and started looking for campus clubs that do activities and somesuch.

Now, many years ago, in a land far, far away, yours truly did some training in the modern but quite interesting martial art of aikido. Not enough to be good, mind you, just good enough to not dislocate her shoulder every time she did a faceplant-avoiding front roll when someone managed to throw her properly.

For awhile, I looked for a new dojo in my university town, but the only ones around that I found are in a different style of aikido than I'm used to, and one that's militaristic and not really my cup of tea (really, I like a lot of explanation and hand-holding, especially when trusting people to throw me headfirst towards the floor). However, it turns out there is an aikido club on campus. Now, I don't know what they're style is, but it's incredibly cheap, and could be just the thing I'm looking for to get me out of the apartment a bit more, and to help me maintain some semblance of fitness through the winter.

Happily, if campus aikido falls through, there's also karate, tae kwon do, jiu jitsu, kendo and a variety of other hybrid approaches that I could get into (by the way, I'm not toally wedded to the martial arts thing, it's just that they make up most of the offerings and, admittedly, I also have the uniform already, so no big outputs of cash for gear necessarily.) But, any way you slice it, I'm happy to have at least the bginnings of a plan in place to get me through the winter just a bit more easily.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Day 10 Revelations

My life is boring.

That's pretty much the only conclusion I can draw, especially based on the last few days of posts, and the fact that I am offically out of things to write. (Although, to be fair, perhaps going from monthly posting to daily was not the best way to ease back into this blogging thing.)

Life's busy right now. I spend most of my time locked down to my desk working on some form of grad work, be it TAing, funding or scholarship applications, syallabi, or my slow-coming dissertation proposal. Sometimes I break the monotony by going for a run, or doing some yoga. Or, in the case of this week, getting a ready made lasagna.

I don't go out. I don't knit, I don't sew. I don't often see friends, in part because most of them are in the same situation as I am right now. It's an exciting weekend if there's a movie that I like on the TV.

So, it seems to me that despite all the work that I have to do, I need to do at least something that goes a little beyond my desk and my yoga mat. Happily, I'm taking off for a little trip on Wednesday, which is at least something, and maybe out of that will come a bit more excitement, a bit more activity and, with any luck, a bit more to write about.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Finished Object

It's rare that I get to show off finished objects, possibly because it's so rare that I actually finish them. Big ones almost never get done, but even little ones take me forever to do.

But, this little guy did get finished, probably because I love knitting them, and was a present last year for my sweetie, who's a programmer - he likes that it looks rather like the Linux penguin.

Happily, he finished up quickly, especially since I knit him out of lamb's pride wool on smaller-than-recommended 4.5mm needles from the Pasha pattern on Knitty. The colours are a bit muddy, but I rather like them that way. In addition, his head looks really big compared to his body here, but that's an effect of the angle of the picture, and not the stuffy itself.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday love

I love Thursdays. I suppose it's not the most unusal day to love, being that it's both close to the weekend, and that it's not Monday. But it's probably not the most usual either.

Mondays I work from home, then Tuesday I'm on campus late for office hours and class, followed by frantic preparation that night and the next morning for Wednesday afternoon's tutorial. It's certainly not horrible by anyone's standards, but things tend to get pushed aside for those days, and in addition to more working from home, Thursdays afford me a bit of time to clean and straighten things up, and to cook some more of those bulk meals (with copious amounts of leftovers!) that I eat through the end of the week and the weekend.

Also, Thursday night is one of the best night's for TV in my world. Despite the fact that I work and teach in communications, I don't have cable (feel free to gasp if you need to - my friends and colleagues do on a regular basis when I mention that little fact.) But, Thursday night offers me not only my regular Law and Order fare, but also Ugly Betty and new Scrubs episodes.

So, after a day of working (well, usually - sometimes the work bit is purely theoretical, as it was today, since I spent four solid days grading exams at the end of last week and the beginning of this, and just needed a bit of time to not think) it's nice to make a good dinner, curl up under a duvet (since, baby, it's cold inside!), and relax and watch some TV and have a bit of online time with my sweetie. Which is, I think, what I'll get back to now, in preparation for work tomorrow, and through the weekend.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Message for the boy on the bus

I know how much cooler you look when your hands are in your pockets. Really, it just adds to the whole look, especially when they're stuffed into the pockets in something the resembles a fur-lined embossed hefty bag. However, I think you'd maintain a bit more of your coolness if you took your hands out of your pockets to steady yourself when the bus took a corner, rather than stubling and banging both shoulders and your head into the poles because you were too cool to take them out.

Just somethin' to think about.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Work, work, work

It's been another day of work over here. Grading got finished off, but even after that was done, I spent a significant chink of the afternoon plugging away at my dissertation proposal.

This proposal's been giving me grief for a few reasons. First, a lot of my literature review and theoretical frameworks were overlapping, which made the whole thing feel super-redundant, and therefore neither useful nor good. In addition, I do research that is different from a lot of my department in that I deal with people - I survey them, interact with them, watch them, talk to them, and ask for their thoughts and experiences and stories. Setting up a methodology without a lot of guidance, especially in terms of a lot of the nitty gritty detail stuff is intimidating me quite a bit.

Finally, the biggest issue is that that the whole thing just feels so...well...big. There needs to be a lot in there, and there's a lot that could and should go in there, as well as a lot that I want to get in there. Just sorting it all out in my head and then on the page is proving to be difficult, especially since everything works together in multiple ways, could be organized in multiple sequences, and just generally presents an awful lot of options to deal with at once.

Now, none of this is insurmountable, and it'll all get done eventually, but I'm finding the work process to be especially painful. Every time I do this, I have a few hours of frustration with little writing, and then little breakthroughs that let me get a bit of writing down. I'm grateful for these periods of productivity, but they just feel so few and far between when I'm sitting down to it. And all the frustration in between? It doesn't leave me feeling all that confident or productive,

I can see the possibilities in my topic, and I think there are some really great ideas in there that I'm looking forward to investigating further? But getting to the point where I can actually do some work? That's going to take...well...some work.

And now, back to it...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Inside!

To go with the end of daylight savings time, apparently we've also been subjected to a significant drop in temperature. We've now officially gone below zero (celsius, for anyone who shivered just reading that) in this neck of the woods, and I can feel it, even though I haven't been outside yet today.

Part of the problem is that my apartment isn't all that well insulated, especially given the large bank of windows against one wall, and the fact that there are two outside doors, neither of which is sealed well at all. While it never gets unbearable in the cold months, it does tend to stay at a relatively low temperature. And, while there are two heaters for which I can turn on the fans, they're right in front of the windows, and don't even come close to heating. It's very rare that I even turn them on.

I deal with the cold here using every tactic I can think of (many of them taken from environmental action web sites.) I wear socks inside almost all of the time (and I'm a bare feet kinda girl, as much as possible.) I have an electric blanket that I use when it gets really cold, and the rest of the time I sleep under two down duvets and two quits (sometimes with socks on then too.) I shut the door when I shower to keep in the heat, and get dressed in the bathroom to avoid getting too cold.

I was considering joining Crunchy Chicken's Freeze Yer Buns challenge, but it felt a bit like I'd be cheating, since I never bother to turn on the heat anyway. But, challenge or not, I'm happy to live my chilly little life up here, and do what I can to keep myself warm until the spring starts to come.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Productive weekend

I have to admit that I love a good, relaxing weekend as much as the next person - sleeping in late (hopefully after staying up late to read old Nancy Drew books in a hot bath), involved cooking and baking of yummy things, afternoon movies that evolve into afternoon naps.

However, in times where I have a lot on my plate, I actually find productive weekends to be much more useful in the long run. While I could have gotten by without working this weekend, doing so meant that I'll have a bit less to do over the course of this week, which is probably better and less stressful for all concerned. It also meant that I wasn't ruining my relaxation time worrying about all of the things that I wasn't doing while I was "relaxing."

I'm still not inclined to go all-out on the weekend to get work done, but I managed to get over half of the exam that I need to grade all done and out of the way. Happily, the average is right where it should be, so hopefully I won't have to do much more than actually grade the remaining ones. I also worked a little bit on my slow-coming dissertation proposal. There's still rather a lot to do there, but at least it's coming, and I have a sense of where it's going, and how to approach the rest of the work on it. All in all, not to shabby for a weekend.

Thankfully, the rest of my weeend "work" wasn't as much of a trial as grading and writing. I straightened and aired out my apartment bit (so much nicer to work in now), and cooked some simple but yummy food for tonight and the next few days. And, now that that's all done, after I change the sheets on the bed I plan to take the rest of the evening off to actually relax a little bit, quite possibly in a tub full of hot water and bubbles.

I hope evryone else had a relaxing, or at least a productive weekend!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Return to Normalcy, Part the Second

After a few weeks of dealing with the mould in the apartment, and then a few more weeks of embracing my newfound ability to get rid of stuff and amassing large bags of things to be dropped off at the local thrift store, I simply ran into a few weeks of one little-but-still-annoying-and-distracting thing after another.

First I got sick, and spent a few days in bed recovering from a body flu - from the mould or the stress of dealing with the mould, I really don't know. Then, I hurt my back, and spent a few more days lying down in bed while it fixed itself. Shortly thereafter, my account with the online game that I play for research (okay...and fun) was hacked, which sent me into a week of alternately dealing with the game reps and frantically searching my computer for all manner of virus and trojan horse nasties (which, thankfully, came up negative.) Finally, after all of this, my computer required yet another trip to the repair shop to replace its trackpad. And then, really finally, while it was in the shop I learned that there were issues with a scholarship application that I submitted that needed dealing with (through a computer, of course.)

I waited over a week for my computer - much longer than they originally told me that the repair would take - and they wouldn't let me have it back in the meantime. I dealt with scholarship issues by throwing money at them rather rapidly, and they got resolved, although for awhile, whether everything was going to come out okay was uncertain. My game account was restored, although I never got any details on what exactly happened. And, everything was just about back to normal.

Thankfully, I had a lovely visit from my sweetie in there, as well as a car on loan from my folks, and we had two weeks of eating sushi and thai, dropping off my Goodwill donations, and stocking up on groceries and all manner of fun things (why yes, I do lead a very exciting life - why do you ask?) And, since he's gone home, I've taken the time to get back into a work-regular exercise-healthy eating groove that's kept me stable enough to get some real work done. And I suppose that's where I am now - lots of work left to do, but finally in a place where I feel like I can do it after the quasi-craziness of the last two months.

(Please note that I didn't say that I necessarily want to do any of the work, just that I can - exercise and healthy eating do not make the student work comprising the Mount Grade-More sitting on my dining table any more appealing to tackle, but tackle it I will.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Return to Normalcy, Part One

Or, I suppose it's really more of a return to what passes for normalcy in my world.

I came back from vacation rested and well-fed and looking forward to settling back into my little apartment and really getting started into a routine of eating well, working out, and getting lots of work done on my dissertation. My folks, who had never visited my place before, decided to drive me back and stay the night at a nice hotel, since the day of returning was also their thirtieth wedding anniversary. After a not-too-early morning drive, we arrived at my place, and the first thing I thought after stepping in the door was, "what on earth is that smell?"

It turns out that, "what on earth is that smell?" is not a question that tends to bode well for the following weeks, especially when it is strong and clearly deeply bound up with the place that you live.

I didn't notice much other than the smell until a bit later, and wrote it off as a particularly bad case of mustiness after being closed up for two months in the summer. But then, in preparation for heading out for lunch, I went to the bedroom to pull on a skirt and some nice shoes. I opened the closet, looked in, and wondered why all my shoes looked...different.

It turns out that all of my shoes looked different because they were eaten through with mould. It also turns out that nice shoes made of nice materials also get eating all the faster and better because of it. To add to the fun, the carpet was also damp and thick with the slippery black stuff.

(The closet, after they took out the carpet and tore through the wall - yes, this really was the after shot.)

The rest of the day was spent throwing out bag after bag of shoes and bedding and baskets and clothing, and dealing with the super. That night was spent sharing my folks' hotel room. You remember? The nice one? The one they got for their anniversary?

Yeah. It was fun times. And totally not completely awkward at all.

For the next two weeks, I slept on my living room floor, out of the bedroom where all of the toxic mould was growing. I went to bed early and got up early because I never knew when workmen were going to show up, and I didn't feel like being walked in on while I was still in the shower. For the first few days, every time I left my apartment and came back there was a new hole in one or another of my walls. A few days in, I found more mould and soggy drywall in the kitchen. A week in, I found more mould in the work area that used to be a dining room. Although I was home a lot, I really didn't get much done between the need for lots of sleep, the constant disruptions to my life and schedule, and the need to be here to explain to the workmen that filling only half of the holes really wasn't going to work for me.

(The hole in my kitchen wall - one of five large holes in my apartment.)

Now, this all sounds rather dreadful, and it wasn't what I'd call a lot of fun, but it's actually reasonably funny now that it's all taken care of, and I no longer have headaches from the cleaner and adhesive fumes from the repairs. Everything is almost back to loveliness here (although, to be fair, it's now almost two months later.) But, it did prompt me to clean up a lot, and also to clean out, too. When I realised how much stuff I had, and how easy it was to get rid of without missing it, I pulled together eight large garbage bags and three boxes of to donate to the local thrift store, in addition to the more than eight bags of mould-ruined stuff and six bags of donations that went out that day. This is something I've been meaning to do for awhile, and although this probably isn't the ideal way to go about it, the mess really helped me to get a bunch of things taken care of, which is a pretty good feeling.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Or, yet another thing to do in November.

I like the idea of NaBloPoMo. I like the idea of posting everyday, and I certainly appreciate the push to do so, given how sporadic (at best) my blogging tends to be. But this month is to be the Month of the Big Push. I've done a lot of work in the last few weeks, but I still have a lot of things left to do, which may not lend my time to daily blogging.

But, at the same time, I certainly have things to talk about - stories to tell from the last few months, the things I've been thinking, work stuff, fun stuff, cleaning stuff, play stuff - really, lots of stuff. And so, while I may not exactly make the "daily" part of Daily Ethnography true, I'm going to give posting again a go, and see how it turns out.

Part of my trouble with this blog, I think, is that I have two many interests, and somehow the freedom to write about all of them in one place is overwhelming. It feels rather like writing about everything that I could possibly write about would produce a big, garbled mess were it all introduced within the confines of this one little space. But I suppose there's no way to know until I try, and I'm never going to post regularly at all if I keep holding back because of this. And so, here goes nothing...