Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spent the afternoon/evening visiting relatives. I felt bad since I didn't get to see them on Easter due to being in New York. This was the first Easter I haven't spent with family, cracking cascarones and eating Easter candy.

School starts again on Tuesday. I've had such a good break I don't know how I'm going to go back...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Seven sins

Gandhi's seven social sins:
  • politics without principles
  • wealth without work
  • pleasure without conscience
  • knowledge without character
  • commerce without morality
  • science without humanity
  • worship without sacrifice

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back home

I'm back from New York today. It was AWESOME. Life-changing, even. Every day brought new wonders and amazements, and I'm still pretty shocked that I saw the things I did. I will post pictures and a lengthy recap of what I did as soon as I can.

EP is home, though, always. I'll be happy to sleep in my own bed tonight, and after the chilly weather of NYC, I am enjoying the heck out of the 80-degree weather here on my return.

More later. Yay for spring break. I finally have time to do some real writing here. My fingers are just itching to produce some lengthy posts...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This has to be one of the most interesting things I've read in grad school. All I can say is Donna Haraway combines feminist theory, socialist theory, technology, and biology in an amazing way: "Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." Wow.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

There's an interview with Tina Fey in this month's Reader's Digest. A couple of excerpts:
RD: How do you deal with it if you must write some comedy material and you're just not feeling funny?
Fey: I put on an I Love Lucy costume [laughs].

RD: Today's comics seem a little more type A, a little less self-destructive, than the previous generation. Why do you think that is?
Fey: There have always been different types of people if you look at great comedians. You have John Belushi and Richard Pryor, who lived dangerously. Then you have Jerry Seinfeld and Bob Newhart, who are happily married, mild-mannered guys. And their humor doesn't come from a place where they need to almost die to make comedy.
RD: It seems like you fit in the latter category, that you're well-adjusted.
Fey: Yeah, I think so. Jerry Seinfeld once said you don't have to be crazy to make comedy. To make comedy, maybe you just have to work hard and be funny.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Can I do it? Can I grade all the essays, finish my paper, and do all the stuff I need to do before I leave for NYC on Thursday? It's going to be a close call.

I found out today that my car has a major oil leak. I got home and it was leaking drops of oil like big drops of blood. The engine was smoking below the hood. Not good.

I started looking at maps of New York today. Eerie how I can actually see a picture of my sister's apartment building using Google maps. It's funny, but somehow I don't even think of New York as a real place. It's almost like a fantasy to me, I guess because it's so different from here. The farthest east I've been is Chicago, and that was certainly shocking to me. I have a feeling I'll be very surprised at what I find when I get there. You can try to imagine what a place is like, but it's not like actually being there.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I recommend...

- If you hadn't noticed, I recently added Tales from the Lake Shore to my sidebar. The blog is updated with one thought-provoking and/or visually interesting and/or funny photo per day from Chicago, a city that is endlessly photographable. Ooh, Chicago, I want to go back. Cool idea and great photos.

- A blog I've rediscovered recently is Intersections, which I would say is about 200 percent more rad now that its author Daniel Hernandez is based in Mexico City rather than Los Angeles. It's a fascinating look at a culture I've always been curious about, complete with awesome photos and stories that make me wish my life were that exciting.

- And I can't not mention my blog friend Stu's Mystery Music March on feeling listless. He has pledged to "churn out thirty odd pieces of writing about music" this month, of which he's nearly halfway through. The musical works written about so far have been very eclectic, ranging from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to the American Graffiti soundtrack to Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird," and the posts themselves are, as always, a delightful mix of critical and personal reflections.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday night report

I don't know what it is about Monday nights that inspires me to blog. It's my longest day of the week: teach from 11:30-1:30, drive home and read like mad from 1:30-4, then go back to class from 4:30-9 p.m. But here I am, bleary-eyed and fairly exhausted, typing something.

Reading for today was a book called Maus II. It was amazing. It makes me realize how little I know about art. That's not how I usually look at the world. I'm not inspired to draw very often. Sometimes I wonder if I had more training or education in it, it would come more naturally to me. I don't know.

There's a student in my class who draws at every free moment. While he's listening to me lecture on how to write research papers, he's drawing. When he's supposed to be doing group work, he's drawing. And these aren't just doodles; they're really good drawings. Realistic human forms, mostly. On one hand I'm annoyed because, well, he's not paying attention to a word I'm saying. On the other hand, I wish everyone could find something they're that passionate about. Who am I to discourage that? Maybe I'm too lenient and I should tell him to put it away. But I don't.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Personal time

On Thursday I took some "personal time" after I completed my office hours. Having spent the previous three days grading essays like a machine, I felt like I deserved it. I went to the mall and dropped into a hair salon to make an appointment to cut my hair, since it had started feeling like frayed rope at the ends. So much for growing out my hair. I felt like it was overtaking my face. While I waited for my appointment at 1 p.m., I decided to buy a sandwich at a nearby cafe.

The woman taking orders was busy preparing something behind a metal counter off to the side of the main counter. "Can I help you?" she asked. She was an older woman, in her mid-40s about, and she seemed like a foreigner, from Germany, maybe, from the way she spoke. I went over there and placed my order for a turkey panini. I wasn't sure that she heard me, so I stood around and gave her a puzzled look until she finally said, "I am preparing it." The only other people in the cafe were a couple of Asian guys. It looked like they were waiting, too, and were in line ahead of me. From the woman's slow demeanor, I had a feeling it was going to take a looong time to get my food.

It was 12:35 when I sat down at an aluminum cafe table. The cafe had glass walls and so you could see out into pink-tiled mall. Two teenage couples with babies passed by. A woman in white pants, a white sweater, and black sunglasses passed by, looked at the cafe hopefully for a second, then walked past in a rush. I looked up at the white beams converging in the center of the ceiling, sunlight coming through in between the beams through translucent white glass. Ah, sunshine. But I felt bummed. Can I ever not be grumpy? I thought to myself. Finally, I was free. No work to do, no homework looming ahead. Here I was sitting idly in a nice cafe, but I still felt like a grumpy old lady. Maybe I still felt machine-like from the activity of the past few days. Maybe I was annoyed at having to wait for an overpriced sandwich. Maybe I was ashamed of sitting in a restaurant alone. Again. This happens all too often.

A family came in for gelato, further distrupting my sandwich getting made. I considered cancelling my order, but then the two Asian guys finally got their orders, also paninis, a hopeful sign. Finally, the lady delivered it to me: a turkey panini on round focaccia bread, marked with brown waffle-like marks from the griller. It turned out to be delicious, with two round slices of smoked turkey, feta cheese, and roasted red peppers. A side salad consisted of leafy greens, croutons, cheese, and spicy dressing. Everything seemed to be fresh. Thank God--if I had waited 20 minutes for a bad sandwich, I was really going to be angry. By this time it was 12:55, so I ate in a bit of a rush to meet my hair appointment.

Summary of the rest of the afternoon: I got my hair shampooed, cut, and styled by a guy that I am going to guess is gay. I bought three shirts at Sears, and the total price was $16 (what a steal, really). I went to Wal-Mart to buy candy and some personal items.

It was a pleasant afternoon, after which I felt less like a grumpy old lady and more like my usual occasionally grumpy but cautiously optimistic self. I think this is one of the things I like most about my job, being able to spend an occasional Thursday afternoon on myself when I find it necessary. True happiness may not be tied directly to pleasure, but it sure is nice to take a break to go out and buy a bunch of stuff for myself once in a while.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Nerd basketball

Caltech's basketball team is really bad, according to this article in TIME:
The team just finished 1-24 and, for the 23rd straight season, failed to win a game in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
There are signs of improvement, if not a quantum leap. Four years ago, the team lost by an average of 60 points, dropping games with scores like 108-16 and 127-32. This season Caltech lost by 29 points per game, took two league opponents into overtime and, for the second consecutive year, won a nonleague game (the team bounced Gallaudet in December).

My nomination for quote of the week:
"We've had two straight winning seasons," brags Haussler, before correcting himself. "O.K., two seasons with a win." He laughs. "The paradigm is just different around here."

For more, rent Quantum Hoops.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Voted

After a long internal debate, my vote in the Democratic presidential primary went to Hillary Rodham Clinton. I like her plan on health care better than her opponent's, I think she is better prepared for the job than her opponent, and I like her pragmatic approach to passing bills in the Senate. Also, the fact that she's a woman and would be a powerful advocate for women's equality doesn't hurt. Too bad her loss in the primaries is pretty much a foregone conclusion...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I made it through February! Woo hoo! And I bought my plane ticket to NYC! Even more good news.

Used books

It's funny sometimes to see the notes of a previous owner of a book. I love to see things highlighted with corresponding notes in the margin: "Wow!" or "Exactly" or even "Duh", or better yet a brilliant pointing out of something that was obviously overlooked in the text, i.e. "What about Native American women?" in a paragraph about women's voting rights. However, I would say most of the used books I've bought have been unmarked (perhaps with the intention of selling it after the class is over), or marked at the beginning but sparsely later on, evidence of early good intentions.

On my latest round of book-buying, I found a book whose previous owner was apparently annoyingly neat and organized. Witness the following note on the title page, which looks like a note you'd find in a textbook explaining how to study for a test. Additionally, it seems like every other line in the book is highlighted in yellow, with many less-than-brilliant summary notes in the margin. Overkill. Still, you have to admire the effort. I didn't know students like these actually existed.