Tuesday, August 31, 2004

meow

Heh heh heh, otis here.
since the girl readABBIE the cat's blog she is letting me tipe too.
i call it CLOG, not blog.

Very tiring day today.
two men with loud toys came and went in the my litter room. I was mad, so i followed. then they went under the sink and i know you're not supposed to do that and that it should only be attempted late at night but they did it anyways so iwent with them. then their toy became very noisy and scary so i ran away but i managed to run through the litter box and throw some up behind me so they would no whose boss.

then the landlord came over. ilike him. he wears very nice pants so i rub along them alot and i know that he doesn't have a cat because there is never any hair on him so i rub extra hard. and also because he is old he doesn't move very fast so i made a run for the door before he shut it and got out in the hall but then the girl came and picked me up.

now iam going to sleep because my eyehurts. i did all of this withone eye clsed. they keep saying my eye is like this because of the namp. i don't know what that means but i must conserve energy because they will try to squirt my eye again tonight. i heard the girl say that so i will be on my guard and not easily fooled.

Call off the hounds

The upside of being me is that i just remembered that my ID card was probably not in my wallet when it was stolen. So i went through the pockets of all of my coats and low and behold - there it was. Looks like i can go to Bumbershoot afterall.

Bumber Blues

I find it utterly amazing how i don't learn from my mistakes. This is so typical of me that i am not even that mad at myself. For a couple of months now we have been planning to go down to Seattle for Bumbershoot with a bunch of friends. Now it is just a few days before we are supposed to leave and i have come to the conclusion that i don't have any ID to get across the border with. My ID card was stolen at hockey about a month ago and i haven't replaced it yet, my passport is expired and i can't find my birth certificate!! So if you or anyone you know wants to go to Bumbershoot on Sunday and Monday give me a call. You can see the Pixies, Public Enemy, The Marley Brothers, Sam Robert and a whole lot more!!
But the thing is, i am not really that disappointed. I am not really into music, and even though there is lots of other things to do at Bumbershoot i was going with music lovers so i would have had to do it all alone. Besides, August has been so busy that i have barely looked at the Diss. A couple of days of good work before the term begins might get me started on the right foot.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Utterly Distraught

On Saturday the Brain and I saw a really great condo that we were considering putting on offer in on. Sunday we decided to take the plunge. Monday we found out that the condo doesn't allow cats. How depressing! This condo had everything we required and was nicer than we ever expected we could afford. But no cats!! Can we dress Otis up like a little boy and get away with it? Sigh.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Good B-Day

Well, in spite of the unexpected monsoon that hit our town the birthday BBQ was a success. Instead of going to the beach we had people over to our place, and even though our place is not laid out for a party it was pretty good. The little kids played well together and the fathers competed with each other over who's kid was cuter, more athletic, smarter and everything else.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Birthday Blues

I am pretty sure my birthday bash is going to be a bust. It has rained for a week. I don't think it is going to clear and i have planned a lovely outdoor BBQ at the beach. When people ask about what we will do if it rains, i reply in an upbeat manner that it doesn't matter, we'll just have it at my place. Ha ha hmm.
This idea sort of sucks because a) the layout of our apartment isn't really conducive to that nice party flow of music, wine and conversation. b)if we still want to BBQ we have to walk outside, through the alley and into the backyard. In the rain. and c) i have told our friends to bring their babies and our apartment is totally not baby proofed. It is all fun and games until the teetering tower of books comes crashing down on an unsuspecting 11 month old!
But it is not just the party that gets me down. I will be 32 and i still don't have a PhD. I asked my mom and she said that she doesn't get a sharp pain in her heart on her birthday because she is sixty something and doesn't have a PhD. But she never really wanted one to begin with. It like my birthday, rather than the starting of a new school year, symbolizes that i am starting yet another year of doing the same thing.
But never fear i will make it through the day just so long as someone remembers to bring the cherry chip cake. There is nothing that a high dosage of sugar can't cure.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Back to School Blues

Usually i love back to school. I get to buy all new notebooks and highlighters. But this year something is amiss. The Shoppers Drug Mart where i usually do my back to school shopping seems to have forgotten that it is back to school time. In the past they had row upon row of binders, pencil cases, pens and pencils. But this year, just a very meager selection. Have they forsaken back to school given the demographics of our neighborhood? Are they leaving it to the big box stores out in the burbs? What is going on here? I am distraught.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

More Can(adian) Con(tent)

I just recently finished reading The Navigator of New York by Wayne Johnston. Now if you remember way back when, i did a brief review of Johnston's COLONY OF UNREQUITED DREAMS, and didn't really like it that much, though i did think it was pretty important in terms of CanLit.

Well i liked NAVIGATOR much better. If nothing else the topic is more interesting - quest for the north pole, turn of the century New York, dawning of a new age.... But having read COLONY so recently, i could anticipate many of the twists and turns that the story was going to take. The same is true for a lot of authors, John Irving comes to mind. Ultimately i would recommend this book to people sooner than i would recommend COLONY. But i have also decided that i am done with Wayne Johnston, at least for now. There was a time when i though i wanted to read THE DIVINE RYANS, but that time has past.

Right now i am reading the much anticipated final chapter in the adventures of Thursday Next, Something Rotten, by Jasper Ffordewho has a truly wonderful website. God only knows what crazy antics Thurs will get herself into as the head of Jurisfiction, but i have heard that, among other things, she has to get Hamlet to go to his anger management classes. I'll let you know what i think of the book when i am finished.

Can Con

Yesterday i wrote a really great post, hit a random button and KA-PoW, it was gone. So now i am going to try to recreate that post, which never works, but here goes...

Monday night i finally saw falling Angels, thanks to Pacific Cinematheque's presentation of Canada's Top Ten Films of 2003. Let me say from the outset that i really enjoyed it but couldn't help but feel that the book by Barbara Gowdy upon which it was based would have been better. But i am a book person and i always think the book is better.
The movie chronicles a season in the life a dysfunctional family in 1969. Dad is a bit of a nut case with his own bomb shelter, mom is a comatosed depressed drunk and the teenaged girls are trying to keep everything as normal as possible. One plot summary i read said it was "wickedly funny". I wouldn't go that far. It had its funny bits and truly poignant bits. But it was definitely a well made and well acted movie. None of that low budget CBC feel to it. The rebellious daughter, played by Katharine Isabelle, was awesome.
Tonight as parts of this series we are going to go see
Love, Sex and Eating the Bones. I will report on that later.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Why God Never Received Tenure at Any University

I found this amusing little tidbit over at Sharleen's blog. Very funny.

1. God had only one major publication.
2. It was in Hebrew.
3. It had no references.
4. It wasn't published in a refereed journal.
5. Some even doubt God wrote it alone.
6. It may be true that God created the world, but what has God done since then?
7. God's cooperative efforts have been quite limited.
8. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating God's results.
9. God never applied to the Ethics Board for permission to use human subjects.
10. When one experiment went awry God tried to cover it up by drowning the subjects.
11. When subjects didn't behave as predicted, God deleted them from the sample.
12. God rarely came to class, just told students to read the Book.
13. God expelled the first two students for learning.
14. Although there were only ten requirements, most students failed God's tests.
15. God's office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Vancouver Full of Rain

Yesterday it poured!! I can't think of a better day to go see a movie, so we went to see Maria Full Of Grace. Now i know that others have complained that it is a little bit slow in places, but i really liked it. And Metacritic gave it an 85. Pretty good. It is about a Columbian girl who decides to become a drug mule. It gives an inside view of why people do it and what they have to go through. I know that it was probably really tamed down for the likes of the masses, but i still found it fascinating. Besides, the woman who plays Maria is wonderful. She carries the whole movie.

For dinner i made a beef and mushroom stew for Martha's Everyday Food issue 15 (the latest!!). I mention this only because i know that many of my readers are also subscribers to Everyday Food. The stew was really good, but i think the fresh rosemary is a must. Also we found it a little on the winey side, but perhaps that is because we used cheap wine! Anyways i think you could go with less wine than she recommends.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Breifly....

Pretty busy right now. VOR is in town. Here is a little survey i did to give you something to read.
PhDiva
Last Cigarette:never
Last Car Ride:Sunday on the way home from hockey
Last Kiss:Sunday at the airport, or do cat kisses count?
Last Good Cry:About 6 weeks ago when i decided to drop out of the PhD
Last Library Book:Academic or otherwise? Abercrombie, Thomas A. Pathways of Memory and Power: Ethnography and History among an Andean People. and The Navigator of New York by Wayne Johnson
Last book bought:Jasper Fforde's latest - Dirty Rotten Scoundrels?
Last Book Read:Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (i am embarrassed to admit)
Last Movie Seen in Theatres:god, it's been too long ... Super Size Me?
Last Movie Rented:Strictly Ballroom
Last Cuss Word Uttered:Sh*t
Last Beverage Drank:glass o' water as i type
Last Food Consumed:garden grow cherry tomatoe
Last Crush:The lil' Assie babe, oh i mean the Brain
Last Phone Call:VOR at her sister's
Last TV Show Watched:Canadian Idol
Last Time Showered:About 5 minutes ago
Last Shoes Worn:dirty orange flip flops
Last CD Played:Sarah McLachlan - Rarities, B sides and other stuff
Last Item Bought:blow dryer
Last Download:
Last Annoyance:my tomatoes keep falling over no matter how many stakes i use to prop them up!!
Last Disappointment:
Last Soda Drank:early morning diet coke to get the engine going
Last Thing Written:besides this? oh yeah, a letter begging the university to let me continue on for yet another year
Last Key Used:house key
Last Words Spoken:OOOh kitty, you're such a pretty boy.
Last Sleep:woke up at 10 AM, so about 8 hours ago
Last Ice Cream Eaten:last night, just plain chocolate
Last Chair Sat In:the current one
Last Webpage Visited:New Kid on the Hall

CREATE YOUR OWN! - or - GET PAID TO TAKE SURVEYS!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Still above average

While sitting here pondering my academic plight i came across a few fascinating/ startling articles on the Dead Thesis Society's research page. In particular, Frank Elgar's research focuses on the plight of graduate students in Canada. Here are a few decontextualized facts from an article he published in Dalhousie News:
... fewer than half of PhD students in Canada in the arts and social sciences will complete their programs. Most who do finish will require seven to nine years of postgraduate study.

... Canadian universities are less likely to offer thesis support services to students and supervision guidance to professors compared to their counterparts in the United States and Britain.


And from the January issue of UBC'sThe Graduate Elgar reports that
Most students take much longer than expected and many walk away after more than four years. Only 10% finish within the prescribed number of years, and the completion rate itself is steady at 50%.


And just as an addendum to all of this, he also points out that the average time for a Humanities PhD is hover at somewhere around 11 years. God help us all!!
The 3 day dissertation is not going well. In fact i think i may give up. In theory i think the 3 day dissertation is a good thing, but i just chose the wrong time to do it. The inlaws just left and Voice of Reason is coming late tomorrow night. mentally i am very much in vacation mode, and perhaps i should just concentrate on enjoying the summer because school starts again soon enough. i know i don't take any classes or anything, so what i do is pretty much the same as in the summer, but there is a distinct mental shift. I believe as scholars we like to slow down for our four month summers. Not a good idea when you're trying to finish your PhD, and yet a fact of life.

Besides, it looks like a fair portion of tomorrow will be taken up with re-applying for another PhD extension. My advisor says i shouldn't worry about this too much, it is just a few administrative hurdles i have to clear, but it worries me. The grad studies web site says that they are reluctant to grant a second extension. The thing is, statistically it almost always takes Humanities PhDs more than the requisite 6 years to finish, and 8 years is the average. I've always been average, so why should this be any different. I just hope grad studies sees it my way. Besides, if they don't grant me the extension i will be really mad if i spent the last days of summer working my butt off!!

Search me

No really, search me. I don't know if you have noticed, but now blogger has added a little search function at the top of the screen. So now you can search my blog. Pretty cool.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Another cola war?

Yes, the cola wars continue, but a new advesary has entered the arena - MECCA COLA. This time, however, Coke and Pepsi are not the only enemies. Mecca cola is trying to cash in on anti American sentiments in the Middle East by launching a cola that is 'against Americans and Zionists". If you ask me, this is some astute marketing. Where else is it available, you may ask. France for one, and apparently other European countries. I am pretty sure, however, in the good ol' US of A it is almost imppossible to get a Mecca cola to accompany your Freedom Fries.

Eats, blogs and leaves

For those of you not in bloggerland, and i am speaking to one of you in particular, i thought this little rant would be of interest. Yes, push button publishing brings with it many a nasty little grammar or punctuation error. I too am guilty of these, but more often spelling errors ( i forget to spell check).

Dissertation Doom

Well, today has been a bust as far as the 3 day Dissertation was concerned. I spent more time than i expected just getting my life together after the in-laws' visit. Not that they disrupted my life too much (otis has some different opinions on that), but usually i spend most of Sunday getting ready for the week ahead. It is not just the laundry and grocery shopping that normally get done, but also some mental preparation and cleaning off my desk. Oh well, tomorrow is always another day.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Down Town Dan Brown

Right now i am reading ANGELS AND DEMONS by Dan Brown. It is not as good as THE DA VINCI CODE, but i sort of suspected that going into it. The thing is, i believe i was destined to read it. Earlier this week i had talked to Papa Inlaw about it, and then when i went to the library yesterday it was just sitting there on the FAST READS shelf. Now i know that not everybody sees the FAST READS shelf as a taunt, but i do. Yeah, like i couldn't read that book in under a week!! So i had to get it. Basically, reading it is like watching TV, and not particularly good TV at that. It just seems like it was not as well researched as DA VINCI.

My favorite (mis)quote in it sofar is when the protagonist, Robert Langdon, a reputed Harvard academic quips in the all knowing voice that all Harvard academics have:
[Shaitan]... It's Islamic. It means 'adversary' .... The church chose Islam for the name because it was a language they considered dirty.


Hey, hold on here, it sounds to me like he is trying to pass Islam off as a language. Not only that, it is a language that all god fearing, that is Christian god fearing people consider dirty. Well, i got some news for him. Shaitan is, in fact, an Arabic word, but also exists virtually unchanged in Hindu and Urdu and god only knows how many other languages. So much for crossing his 'i's and dotting his 't's. The part that scares me is how many Americans now believe that Islam is more than just a religion... it is a religion with its own language!!!

But i don't want to slag the guy too much. His website is a really good accompaniment to his books and reveal many of the so-called secrets found in his novels. Who knows, i may even read one of his other novels. I mean, everyone loves o good conspiracy theory filled novel once in a while.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Game Plan

So today i have to get down to some serious work! For the past two days i haven't been feeling that well. Really bad headache and overall blahness. I think i had the flu or something. I could not stay awake to save my life (or read a novel!). But i feel like i am back in the game now, and have to make up for lost time!

I have to come up with a game plan for the great 3 day dissertation race that starts on Monday. I know that i will be trying to complete, at least in the rough, one chapter. It will be on place and memory. I think i will try to work at least some of the time at the library at school as long as it is not too hot. (Why are all of the libraries on campus like ovens?) Also i have decided that i am not going to work 24 hours a day, but more like 12. If anyone needs their beauty sleep it is me! Between now and Monday i should piece together at least a rough outline of what i will write. But i would also like to catch up on the work i didn't finish in the last two days. What to do?

Monday, August 09, 2004

A look at books

I just finished reading THE CRAZED by Ha Jin. This was the first one his books i have read and i quite enjoyed it. Its setting is a provincial university in China and in many ways focuses on the plight of 'intellectuals' both during the Cultural Revolution and in the 1980s. It is this point of view that made it quite interesting to me. And just as a short mental note, if i ever have to teach a course on Modern Asia, i should consider using one of Ha Jin's short stories to look at the Cultural Revolution.

The other book that has been taking up my time is HAby Gordon Sheppard. Subtitled "A Self Murder Mystery", HA looks at the suicide of Quebecois auteur Hubert Aquin (yes, we probably all know him best for NEXT EPISODE's startling win in the CBC's Canada Reads a few years ago) through a dizzying array of interviews, film scripts, newspaper articles, literature, letters ...you name it. And at first i found it quite engaging. i loved the style with which it was written. It gave me food for thought for the ol' diss. Sheppard skillfully includes a wide selection of voices without passing judgment on them. He also manages contradiction well.
The story is also engaging because right from the out set it is made clear that a number of people, including Aquin's wife, knew that he was going to commit suicide, and yet they did nothing to stand in his way. This made me see suicide in a different light. But after about 600 pages with 250 more to go, I am starting to get fed up with the whole thing. I loved it in the beginning and now i just wish it would end! Sometimes less is more.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Condom use India style?

This interesting little ditty comes to courtesy of the DECCAN HERALD via Living In India.

The little rubber balloon is making waves, although, for all the wrong reasons. The condom is not serving the purpose it was originally designed to. It is, instead, being used to make — believe it or not— waterproof roofs and roads and Banarasi saris in Uttar Pradesh.
According to a report prepared by Prof Ramakant of King Georges’ Medical University and presented at an international medical conference in Bangkok some time ago, barely 20 to 25 per cent of condoms produced in the country are used in sexual activity while the remaining are used for commercial purposes and this explains the increase in HIV cases despite promotional and awareness campaigns advocating safe sex.

If the condom is not being used for the purpose of safe sex, it is clear that safe sex is not being practised by a large section of the population, says Dr Ramakant. In the urban areas, condoms are being purchased in bulk by civil contractors and then mixed with concrete and tar for laying roads. The latex in condoms mixes with the concrete and the road surface not only becomes smooth but also resistant to cracks.

Similarly, on roofs, contractors are spreading condoms on the layer beneath the cement plaster. As heat penetrates, the condom spreads out to make a waterproof layer that prevents water seepage through the roof. Condoms are also used in large quantities in the manufacture of Banarasi saris. Weavers in Varanasi, for years now, have been using the lubricant in the condom to polish up the zari designs and impart gossamer-like quality to the finished product.

House Hunting Malaise

Whew, i never knew that house hunting could be so exhausting!! The Brain and i walked all over the city today (well maybe not all over), going from open house to open house. But it wouldn't have been so tiring if the places hadn't been so lack lustre. We did not see one place we liked. And i am amazed at how poorly some suites are designed! Anyway, instead of being frustrated, i have decided that the people with good condos never have open houses because they don't need to. On Wednesday we are going out whith our agent and i am hopeful about what we will see then.

There has got to be a condo out there for us considering how many have been built in the past 30 years. I know this is not the area we are looking at, but check out !these pictures of how the False Creek area has changed since 1978. Incredible. Now i understand why Douglas Coupland has dubbed us the Glass City.

Friday, August 06, 2004

The hunt is on

The Brain and i are entering the next exciting stage of our lives - we are going to become home owners. Well, maybe not immediately, but soon. Yesterday i talked to our real estate agent (it feels so weird to say that) and hopefully we will be looking at places this weekend. How exciting!! I am so excited at night that i can't sleep.

And on a completely unrelated note... readership is up!! I am still no )Instapundit in terms of readership (or content for that matter, but it is getting up there. Especially considering my mom and the Brain are no longer my most faithful readers!! So keep telling your friends... it makes me happy.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bush in Blogington

What is it about politicians and blogs? First our very own Paul Martin had a blog that was voted 'Worst Canadian Blog' because he neglected to update it for months on end. And now America's Funniest Newsource, THE ONION comes along and publishes this little ditty, CIA asks Bush to Discontinue Blog. It's pretty funny. Especially if you enalrge the picture of the blog.

3 day dissertation

I think i've come up with the dates for the 3 day dissertation contest - Aug 16, 17, 18. Now i know that these dates don't work for everyone, but i don't care because they work for me. You can do the contest whenever you want during August, as long as it is only three days. Actually if you get on a roll you can go for more than three days. After all the true reward of this whole endeavor is getting the damn thing done! Besides, there is no prize for this contest. The idea is more to get us writing while overcoming the loneliness that dissertation writing entails. To promote a kind of 'you are not in this alone' ethos. So let me know when you plan to embark on this journey and i will be sure to send you some encouraging emails.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

This Land...

Having problems understanding the up coming American elections and what the difference between Bush and Kerry really are?
Ok, so you're not stupid. How about this... who among us doesn't love a catchy tune? You have got to check out This Land. If you're at work you may want to turn the volume down a little, but make sure you can still hear it. If you are at home, join in. I only wish they had the little white bouncing ball and words at the bottom of the screen. Sigh.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Ahhh and Ugh

Ahh, this weekend was fabulous. We went out to a cottage on Bowen Island - close enough to the city that you it only takes about an hour to get there, and yet so so far away. And we did nothing all weekend other relax, eat alot, swim a little. And considering the combined brain power of those in attendance, conversation was surprisingly absent of dissertation talk, though UXOs did pop up now and again. But you, they da' bomb.

Now comes the ugh part of the weekend. Our change rooms at hockey were broken into during practice. I didn't loose anything that can't be replaced, so i should be thankful. And yet, now i've had to go through and cancel my credit and bank cards and i will have to get a new student card, library card, health card... Just undue stress in my life.

The up side of my weekend is that since i didn't look at it for two days it seems like it has grown a ton. Got some tomatoes and cucumbers for dinner. Harvested one hot pepper. And at long last the beans are starting to flourish. And of course the broccoli is still doing its thing. Anyways, i think we will be eating well for the month of August.