Friday, July 30, 2004

Organize...

Today, once again, is an organizational day. Yesterday i was paralysed by the amount of material i have, so i think it's time to clear off my desk again so that at least i will have enough room to look at it all.
And when that's done, i will probably spend the rest of the afternoon getting ready to go away for the weekend. Doing laundry, buying groceries, maybe even cook something in preparation.
By the time i get back from the weekend it will be August, and that means i have to work like i have never worked before!! Pressures on.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Excellent, Grasshopper

Met with my advisor today about my introduction. He loved it!! He said that normally he doesn't act this favorably towards first drafts. Usually he orders massive rewrites, but he was really pleased with mine. According to him i have "an excellent sense of structure". I tell you, it feels pretty good. Now if i can only harness this positive energy and get down to business.

And on the business note, I am proposing a three day dissertation contest a la 3 day novel contest, which was started here on the west coast. Same rules apply: you've got three days to work your ass off, and hopefully you will get some good results. Unlike the novel writing contest, there is no entry fee and no prizes. Ultimately i don't want it to be contest at all, just a bunch of sorry ABDs getting as much done in as short a period as possible. The PhD will be its own reward, she says in a lofty voice. Yeah right! SO far i've got one person signed up. It will likely take place in the second or third week of August. Let's get busy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

cultural colonialism?

Om Puri, one of India's great actors, has just been awarded the Order of the British Empire for his contribution to British film. This seems a little odd to me. Yes, Om is a great actor, but to knight him? And i guess my problem is not so much with Om but with knighting actors, singers, etc in general. It makes me wonder what the criteria is. At one time i imagine it was for great heroics or something. But for acting?

Maybe its because he acted in great Raj era pieces like Jewel in the Crown and Gandhi. Is it a way to honour those colonials who played the game according to the Imperial power's rules? Why Om and not Big B? In spite of the fact that Bacchan acts almost exclusively in Bollywood production, he was still voted Britain's actor of the millennium in 1999. And for all you videsis out there, let's not forget that Om is no stranger to Bollywood either. He's more than just a parallel cinema guy - think about the likes of Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge, Maachis, Maqbool and Pukaar to name just a few. This is one busy guy.

Monday, July 26, 2004

A look at books

Last night i finally finished reading THE LITTLE FRIEND by Donna Tartt. I was so looking forward to reading it because i loved her previous book THE SECRET HISTORY. Unfortunately, our little friend did not live up to the reputation of her previous novel. Not to say that it was bad, just that it wasn't written with the same urgency. Her first novel i could not put down, her second one took me 8 days to read (for me, a life time). In short, THE LITTLE FRIEND was probably a couple hundred pages too long and contained too much extraneous material. Early on a character is introduced in such a way as to make you believe she will play an important role in the story - a rival? An unlikely ally? a scape goat? But in the end, she plays no significant role at all. And as for the title, i never did figure out its significance. But the novel was not a complete waste of time. Some really great characters and interesting setting. Overall, 6.5/10.

A couple of weeks ago i read THE TOURNAMENT by John Clarke. Started out as a clever novel of a tennis tournament in which all of the twentieth centers great minds were playing. Imagine Picasso vs. James Joyce, Virginia Woolfe vs. Ella Fitzgerald etc. Quite captivating, n'est pas? Everything is reported in true sports journalistic style, with unique details on their playing styles that reflects the general ethos surrounding the player in question. Van Gogh suffers dizziness due to an ear injury, Ayn Rand annihilates her opponents, and so on. Thinly veiled political views were also captured in the sports play and commentary. Liberty and freedom among the most dominant themes. But after about 50 pages the cleverness gave way to triviality, and by page 88 i had given up entirely. Would have made a good short story, but a novel? Too tiring.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

A chick with a stick

Whew, i am fairly tired tonight, so i will keep this short. Just got home from my first night of hockey this year. Much better than last year. I am not the best, but i am not the worst either, just in the middle where i like to be. It is not actually a league that i am playing in right now, just a hockey school type thing - for girls and for beginners. Hopefully it will get me ready for league play in the fall. The stuff tonight was a little simple for me - stopping, gliding on one foot, stuff like that. But the scrimmage was fun, though i couldn't play to my full potential - didn't want to be a puck slut or anything. All i need to do now is find someone else who lives around here to drive me so that the Brain doesn't have to become a hockey dad before his time.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Hot Docs...

Not doctors, documentaries!! Toronto Star film critic Geoff Pevere came up with a list of must see documentaries that are available on DVD. I love docs so much that i will watch them even if they are on VHS!

Anyways in the article he also taps into the rise in the popularity of documentaries. I may or may not disagree with what he has to say. But the rise in popularity of historical documentaries, commemorative peices and biographies relates, at least tangentially, to Chapter One of my diss. Here i look at the rise of memorialization in this post modern era. Gripping, i know. But it's funny how you become so absorbed in your own work that eventually everything you encounter in your daily life comes to be related to it somehow.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Everybody salsa!

I just had a weird little twilight zone moment. The temperature here and in Banaras was exactly the same, only it was night there and they have 100% humidity and we are only at 52% humidity.

So blog readers everywhere, i am calling on you for help. by the end of August i should have more tomatoes than i know what to do with, so in an effort to preserve them, i am looking for a good salsa recipe. If you have one, send it on in. Who knows, it may even win you a jar of said salsa.

In the mean time, i seem to be spending every free moment learning about preserving vegetables. Quite interesting actually....

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

In the beginning....

... there were only little green tomatoes... and now there is one reddish one. A little cheery tomatoe that should be ready to eat tommorow or the day after. And there isone small cucumber that will ready tomorrow if all goes as planned.

My Own Private Police State?

I know that my mom believes i live in a 'safe' neighbourhood, and that brings her great comfort. But i have to ask myself, what is it about my neighbourhood that makes it safe? Well, that obvious, it's the police presence. Seriously. About three time a week, between midnight and two, there will be at least one police car with its lights flashing within a block of our apartment. Guarenteed. Monday night there were two police cars and an unmarked police van in the alley outside our bedroom window (the brain slept through it all) plus a car across the street and one at the corner. Last night was a quiet night. Just one unmarked police car, lights flashing, across the street. So is our neighbourhood safe because of all the police? Or is it heading down hill? Or do we get increased police protection because it is an upwardly mobile WASPy nieghbourhood? On the other hadn, don't answer that.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Varanasi in Vancouver

Today i am having a really India feeling day.  It is hot here (i know it's not India hot, or even Ontario hot for that matter, but for us westcoasters it is hot), so as i sit here doing a translation from old Hindi with the fan on, i feel sort of like i am back in Banaras*.  I have a cold glass of water and weights holding down my papers so they don't fly away.  The major difference is that if i were in Banaras and wanted to do a translation in the mid afternoon, the power would likely be out - therefore no fan.  So without the fan i would probably be lying naked on my bed thinking about cold things, or maybe i would be sitting in the shower.  You know, just hanging out in the only place where there is some relief from the heat.
 
OOOOH, and i have just come up with greatest idea.  I will add a weatherpixie from Banaras to the blog!  How exciting, now everyone can know the temperature in Banaras as compared to that of Vancouver at anytime!  I can't believe i've been at this a year (blogging that is) and have only thought of this now.  I wonder what other flashes of brilliance i will have today.  Watch out world 'cause here i come.

* Just a little FYI for those of you not in the know - Banaras and Varanasi are the same place.




Thursday, July 15, 2004

How does your garden grow?

Well, to be perfectly honest, it is growing very well.  A little bit too well, if you know what i mean!  I don't know how this has happened, but somehow the garden has exploded into something that is more than i can handle.  The squash is taking over everything, including my now dead broccoli seedlings, and one of my tomatoes is growing massively.  I have five foot stakes holding it up, but if it grows at all tonight then those stakes will be too short.  I don't know what is going on.  As for quantity, get out of here.  My one roma tomato plant has thirty tomatoes and counting on it!  And tomorrow i will be giving away broccoli.  Speaking of which, don't be afraid to call if you would like some fresh produce.

And on a completely unrelated note, blogger has just updated and now you can very easily change your fonts, so over the next few days i will playing with fonts.  Oh how exciting!  Until then, it is time to get back to the grind.



Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I've said it before and i will say it again. Organization is key to the timely completion of a dissertation! Yes, it's true. I spent far too long today looking for a translation that i knew i had somewhere in my office, but just where exactly? After looking in all of the logical places (ha ha), i finally looked at the mass of what i like to call 'documents' that are on the floor near the bookshelves, and what do ya know, right there in the unsorted mass of junk covered in dust bunnies was the translation! Well thank god, i don't want to spend anymore time than necessary looking at this quasi-medieval hindi than i have to.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Good Morning Campers

Today in the Chronicle there was an article about PhD Camps. Sounds great, sign me up! One week of intensive and highly structured writing. Food, coffee and whatever ever other nibblies you need are supplied, as well as a few knowledgeable counselors to guide you in your writing hell. Check it out.

Monday, July 12, 2004

I am young and I am restless

Yes, yes, another new layout. i don't know what is up with me. I think i am restless. Some people rearrange furniture, but i find that redecorating my blog is much easier on the back. And yes, it will continue to change over the next few days, but on the whole i don't plan to mess too much with this colour scheme. The black on white is a little black on white, if you know what i am sayin', but i am sure i will get used to it. The other look was just a little too sportif for me i think. This is, well i don't know what it is or if it is even me, but what the hell.
Okay, so here's the situation. The PhD and i broke up. I got rid of all that nasty PhD stuff (library books) and started to clean my office. And then ... after the feeling of liberation for a few days, i began to miss the PhD. Anyone who has done one knows that rarely an hour passes by when you do not think of it. Maybe if i put this into chapter 1 instead of waiting until chapter 3... what if i approach the problem from this angle... and, well, before i knew it i was back together with the PhD. This may not be the best thing for my mental health, but what's a girl to do? The lure of those extra letters at the end of one's name is just too much to resist!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

So fellow summer readers, what have you been reading lately? My favorite recent read is THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG AT NIGHT TIME by Mark Haddon. The hype surrounding this book has been huge and usually that puts me off a book, but this time it was dead on. As you've probably heard, it is a story told by a 15 year old autistic teenager about the incident of the dog at night time. The true insight of the book comes in letting you into the head of an autistic individual and how they think. And in that respect it's brilliant. It's a quick read and it keeps a smile on your face, in spite of some very emotionally driven scenes. I think the general consensus at Bookclub 3000 was positive, though there was one nay sayer in the crowd (uncomfortable with all the poo scenes i believe). And speaking of Bookclub 3000, word up dudes and you are now privy to the random thoughts and musing that pass through my head.

The second book of note that i've read recently is THE ROMANTIC by Barbara Gowdy.I don't really know how to evaluate this book. Yeah, it was a good read. No complaints. And yet there was nothing earth shattering about it. The only other book by Gowdy that i've read is THE WHITE BONE, which i thought was a truly exceptional book, completely written from the point of view of elephants. Fascinating and well written. So by comparison, THE ROMANTIC was nothing to write home about. But having said that, i still want to read FALLING ANGELS.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Last night we had the pleasure of hosting two of our friends for dinner. It was their first time at our house, so we wanted to give a good impression - we cooked, we cleaned, we went the whole nine yards!! It was a little unnerving because these two individuals are younger, hipper and better looking than we are, and we aren't entirely sure why they would want to hang out with us.

As the night progressed and more wine was drunk, things became clear. In spite of his boyish good looks and charm, the King of Kareoke is in fact a little on the geeky side. I know, i know, his newly minted M.Sc. in Geophysics should have tipped me off to this before hand, but what can i say, sometimes i miss the obvious. So while the Brain and Kareoke chuckled to themselves about the intricacies of induced polarization and the perils of maxmin, Miss Bulgaria 2004 and i slid into the next room to look at Otis the cat. In a moment of silence she confessed to me that she had never seen this side of the King, i assured her that at least in the Brain, such behaviour only comes out in good company. I think she was relieved. At any rate, Otis was happy because she kept petting him.

After joining up with the boys again, another startling admission of geekdom by the King was uttered. I won't bore you with the details, but it has something to do with longitude and latitude confluences and other some other guys that will be familiar to the EOS crowd. And it is laugh out loud funny.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Sometimes i think we have a truly great landlord. Not only is he around a fair bit, but never in you face, he's a pleasant guy and he responds quickly to phone calls. Today we called about the tap in the kitchen and he showed up at our door step about half an hour later. Not only that, and this is part that is truly impressive, he worked quickly and diligently inspite of the fact that Otis the Cat stood/ sat/ spralled out between his legs the whole time. And when Otis wasn't doing that, he was trying to get under the sink with Mr. G. Good God that man has patients. I tried to lure Otis away, but Mr. G just said (in his greek accent) "No problem, he's a good cat". Well, thank god for that, because i forgot to ask mr G's permission before we got the cat.

Monday, July 05, 2004

To be PhinisheD or not to be PhinisheD, that is the question. Right now i am struggling with a descision about whether or not to finish the damn diss. Looking at it in all honesty i will not be finished in the fall, so can i gone with this misery? If so, for how long and will it be long enough. When i think about not having a diss in my life i feel absolutley free and happy, but with it in my life i feel weighed down all the time. And it is really starting to take its toll on my mental and physical health. Carpal Tunnel syndrome is a serious affliction, you know. Just ask Mr. Futo Maki. So that is where i sit and the wieght of this descision may keep me from writing for a while. On the other hand, it may make me write more. Who knows.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

This is just a little heads up for those in the city - some theatre you may not want to miss, or just a kind of cool idea. It is called SHAKESPEARE BARDATHON, and is being put on by SAVAGE GOD at Christ Church Cathedral at the corner of Burrard and Georgia. In thirteen days, from July 12 to 31, they will stage thirteen of the bard's plays. Unfortunetly they are not necessarily his thirteen best plays, at least in my humble opinion. On the upside, admission is by donation.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

So i have given it some thought, and maybe i won't change the name of my blog. Ultimately it is not because so many of you said you liked the name, but because if figure if people out there in cyber space are already linked to me, it would do me no good to go and change on them, not that i was going to change the URL anyways. So i guess 'blogito ergo sum' is here to stay.

Just in case you were curious, i was planning on changing the name to 'turtles all the way down'. Either you get the reference or you don't. And if you do, you are likely a nerd or geek or some sort. I know the story via Clifford Geertz, but apparently it also appears as a witty anecdote involving Bertrand Russell in A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME by Stephen Hawkings.

And just in terms of a diss up date - things are not going well. I had wanted to have twelve pages written by Monday. That meant three pages a day starting today. So far i have written about 250 words. But they are damn good words!!