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First a meme taken from pretty much everyone:

2016 Meme )

Today is the first day of the new semester for me, so I'm at work. My Dad dropped off my Mom very early (6:20am) and drove me to work. He will pick me up at 5 today. I already printed everything I needed to print from Syllabi to first day Writing Samples to my rosters, so now I just have time to kill. My classes are from 1:40 to 4:40 this semester (an hour 20 minutes for each class) and I technically have office hours from 12:30 to 1:30. So I'm now I'm just catching up on books and emails and blogs and commenting.

Before the offices opened and I could print and use a computer, I was looking forward to sitting on the new comfy couches close to the offices. But they replaced them with these modern looking armchairs, which are not nearly as comfortable! Sometimes, new things are not better.

I also wrote an official "intent to move" letter to our apartment's management company. They have no problem in our breaking our lease, as long as they get 30 days notice. They won't have any issues renting the place and for a higher rent pretty quickly. So we will officially move on February 28. Renovations are going well so far, and they should be done by mid February hopefully. As long as they are done enough for us to move our furniture, that should be fine. I definitely don't want to be paying double rent after February.

I watched the first episode of "Victoria" on Monday, which I really enjoyed. This is not a surpise as I generally like historical dramas and English TV series. And while I was neurtal on Jenna Colman on Doctor Who, I do like her in this role. And yesterday, I brought myself to watch the final episode of "Sherlock" for Season 4. I was a bit bored with it and a lot of the plot didn't make sense. I wish they just had a normal mystery and not a convoluted conspiracy/family soap opera drama. I did like where it all ended and I'm happy if it is the end of the show. If it's not, I hope they get back to fun mysteries again.

Something I want to write down so I don't forget later: this last week, Tanya started playing by pretending to be a character and assigning us roles. She is Cookie Monster, Bear is Elmo (somethimes its vice versa) and I'm the Cat in the Hat. It's pretty cute and an interesting stage in her play development.
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Last two days were rainy so we were pretty much stuck indoors. I only left for about 10 minutes today to go to the post office to drop off some letters (rent and next semester's contract). Good thing was that Bear had these two days off - yesterday was a holiday and he took today off because the floors were getting delivered to the new apartment and he was needed to carry them inside - he even got a hand cart at work. He, with some help from my Dad, ended up carrying most of the boxes anyway. Bear loves it - it was like a workout for him. Nice thing for me was that he was home in the early morning and in late afternoon. Tanya tends to play with him more when he is home, so I get free time to cook and just be a little. And it was just so nice being home all together, very low key.

Bear put away the tree and holiday lights yesterday and packed a whole box full of our games. I packed a box of books today. We are not moving until the end of February but we are starting to pack because there is just so much. I'm going to have many many boxes just of books. And once my semester starts in two weeks I will not have much time. We just need to get more boxes.

I did a lot of cooking even with the leftover holiday food. Yesterday, I made kotlety (fried meatball type) from beef and baked yams yesterday. And today I'm making baked ziti and split pea soup with beef. The apartment smells wonderful right now.

Over the last two days I also backed up 2016 blog to a Word document (I crosspost to Dreamwidth and LJ, but I want a copy that is not on the internet). And I watched 2 TV shows and read a book. So fairly good two days.

For a long time I wanted to read Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man . I loved the movie, although the movie mislead me a little bit on the intent of the main character, which colored this read a bit. And I had the book on Amazon Wish List for a while. Finally, I actually ordered it. But for a year Amazon couldn't find a copy for me. I cancelled that order. Last year I discovered that the Brooklyn Public Library now had it as a ebook. I put it on my library wish list. And last week I put the book on hold, thinking it might take a while. But on January 1st I got a notice that I can now borrow it. I did and read it in less than 48 hours. It was not a long book but it was also compelling. I didn't want to put it down. I forgot how beautifully Isherwood writes. His prose is just delicious. And, of course, since I teach in a college, I found the whole section of George teaching his English class just perfection. Isherwood really captures perfectly the class dynamics and student mentality. That section was sublime - really funny and just right. I really want to have a copy of this book because, while I rarely reread, I already want to reread this one. I loved this book so much.

I also watched two TV shows: Sherlock S4E1 and the latest Doctor Who Christmas special, which my Dad got for me.

Sherlock S4E1: The Six Thatchers )

Doctor Who 2016 Christmas Special )
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Mad Max: Fury Road )

TV: Downton Abbey and Sherlock )

I spend most of last week at my parents with Tanya since I had work orientation for two days. We only got home on Saturday morning. The week itself was pretty nice and orientation ended up being very helpful, despite being over two long days. I'm just going to do a short recap of the week. I should really just post more often.

Monday In the morning, Tanya and I went to Tanya's doctor for her last vaccines for a while. The visit actually went very well, no drama. Hopefully, no more visits, fingers crossed, until August. My Mom came over early to cook some soup and pack and as we neared our place, we saw that she was already outside, ready to go. We did have to come back as my Mom forgot her purse but still came to my parents's house pretty quickly.

Tuesday - Tanya started using declensions in Russian! She said, 'idyem babe' 'let's go to grandma' and not just nominitive 'baba' or 'grandma'. She said 'k mame' (to mama) too. I'm continuing to be amazed by how she is learning the language. She repeats after us a lot, and uses both English and Russian. It's really fascinating.

Wednesday - Day 1 of orientation. My Dad drove me in early. I was in the building by 7am (orientation was at 10). So I found an empty classroom, turned on my computer, ate my breakfast while finishing watching the Sherlock special. Then I worked on my syllabi and the online site. The orientation itself was more useful than I thought it would be. It was a recap of pedagogy of the course but the refresher was nice. I got some nice new idea for discussion day and for peer review day. I wanted to shake up my discussion class this semester; last year I felt I was talking too much and needed to get the students to participate more.

Thursday - on Thursday morning, I turned on my phone to watch the Oscar nomination, and as I was setting that up I saw the news bulletin that Alan Rickman died. My first reaction was refusal to believe it, hoping I misread or that it was a prank. I didn't have an emotional connection with David Bowie - I didn't grow up with his music or the movie - so Monday's news wasn't personal, but Alan Rickman was one of my favorite actors. I own Sense and Sensibility, Galaxy Quest, Dogma and Love Actually DVDs and Bear had all Harry Potters. My Dad has Die Hard. Alan Rickman was just such a presence. I kerp getting sad every time I catch my Snape mug with his image on my bookshelf.

On Thursday I also got myself some new slippers on sale, more food for Tanya at baby R US and some more milk for her.

Friday - Day 2 of orientation. I had to work on Assignment questions in the morning and also turned on my contract. We also worked on the grading criteria and later practice graded some papers to make sure everyone was grading on the same rubric. The best part of orientation was seeing some of my work friends, like Rosemary, and meeting new teachers too. There was lovely conversation at lunch about both work stuff and just regular TV, books, politics, life stuff. I'm also turning into one of those parents apparently who offers advice to expectant parents. I should stop that.

Saturday - back home, mostly a quiet day. I did take a walk to the library in the afternoon, for the first time in years (I've mostly been using their ebook feature and borrowing books for my Kindle) so I could renew my library card. And as soon as I stepped outside once I renewed the card, I took out my phone and put the 3rd Robert Galbraith book on hold. Technology is awesome. I then walked quite a way to the playground to join Bear and Tanya. So I ended up getting some walking exercise too.

In the evening, Bear and I started watching "Mad Max". I'm savoring this sudden ability in the last month to have free time in the evening and watching movies or reading. Tanya is finally staying asleep, most of the time after she falls asleep. Now that the semester is starting that time will be spent grading but still, time I will have. Yay. Why is my body and brain telling me to have another baby again and have erratic sleep again? (We are still thinking about having another but I'm starting to get a bit of baby fever -which I did not have when we were planning Tanya, but appently I do now. Still, brain, think of sleeping).

Sunday - I made pea soup in the morning and then walked to the local kosher butcher store to get some hot dogs and buns (I made them for dinner). I also went to a bunch of little stores including a Chinese bakery and a regular bakery. We got the first real snow of the winter in the afternoon. So quiet day. We finished the movie in the evening.

We are visiting Bear's parents today since it's a work holiday. Tanya is napping and I can finally catch up on the blog. I'm also reading three books now (Bechdel, 9th Tomek book and Purgatory), so I will probably read one of those now. It's really cold outside, 25F or -4 C, and it snowed a little this morning. There is finally winter. Some tea and a book sound just about right.
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I need to exercise more. I have to go up a fairly steep hill when I go up Local College and various stairs and today it was much more difficult than usual. I barely been outside walking in January over my break and it shows. I really need to do master that hill again.

I taught a class on Martin Luther today and on gender in Ancient Greece. The day was nice overall but pretty tiring. It was nice to come home, eat some pain yogurt with honey and a banana and catch up on "Downtown Abbey". I also watched "Sherlock: The Sign of Three" after dinner (I made angel hair pasta with eggplant), which was the biggest fanfic put on the screen I've ever seen. Lots of squealing on my part. So much mushiness and just wonderful dialogue and situation. And cute moments all around. And I adore Mary very much. The writers really did a great job at that dynamic, since adding Mary just added awesomeness.

I finished The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling today. The hold came up in the library last week so I downloaded it to my Kindle. It was strange because most of the characters are not very likable and the man who died which kickstarts the book was a bit too saintly, but all the characters were also very three dimensional and I wanted to keep on reading. I was actually reading much faster as the book progressed and I wanted to know where the story was going. People were not pleasant but that was because they were just people, selfish and overly self-concerned regular people. I found it realistic in a lot of ways - people's petty concerns and lives. So in the end I think the book will stay with me and I think it was crafted very well.

I suppose I should go look at some more Writing Samples now before I go to sleep. I need to come up with the Assignment question for Paper 1 for tomorrow but my brain is fried, so I will most likely do that on the train tomorrow.
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Soup Project 2014: Soup 3 - Tomato-Basil Soup

I got this recipe from my Betty Crocker book. They are all available online so it makes it easy just to link to the Tomato-Basil Soup recipe

It came out well and was tasty, although I might add more hot water at the end next time to make it a little more watery and less like tomato sauce. (Bear used it as sauce for his dinner - he liked it a lot, just as sauce). I probably added a little more carrots and accidentally a little more salt but that didn't matter. I couldn't use regular sugar since little bugs decided to live in my sugar bag, and I just put in a little brown sugar instead. I had dried basil leaves, so I used those.

Since I used real tomatoes, I had to learn how to peel and seed them, since I never had to do that before. After searching on the trusty Internet, which knows all things, I discovered a great peeling methods in the comments of one section that described boiling and then using a bowl of ice. The comment mentioned that if I had an electric kettle, which I do, it is much easier to boil water in it and then pour over a bowl/pot of tomatoes and let them sit for one minute. Then rinse tomatoes under cold water. And it will be easy to peel. And it was great. I put the X cut on the bottom of the tomato and the skin was coming right off without too much hassle. So I learned a new skill today.



Otherwise it was a mellow day. Sunday is our grocery shopping/cleaning day. I clean the bathroom, while Bear sweeps and washes all the floors. I'm hoping to watch "Downton Abbey" and "Sherlock" on PBS today but I will probably watch them tomorrow morning online instead.
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Sherlock S2E2 )

Right before bed I read the short story which next episode is based on “The Final Problem.” spoilery thoughts )

My headphones finally gave in; good thing I bought a spare a few month ago. But it was in that stupid annoying ridiculous plastic shell casting that makes me want to hit something. I think it took me over 10 minutes trying to open it with scissors. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? The most annoying packaging ever and induces rage. Maybe it was Crowley from “Good Omens” – it seems like his kind of thing :) .
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I finally finished my syllabi for my history classes, at least for the most part. And I requested all books in the library to later copy and post chapters of for students to read. And Abena picked more books for the Global class next semester. We are teaching the same class just different sections so I’m shamelessly using a lot of her ideas for books and class structure (lectures will be my own). One of the books, a slave account from the 18th century, was available for free on Kindle, so I’m going to read it before the semester starts. I’ll still make the students buy it since they will write a paper on it. I still need to add bookstore requests and requests for desk copies.

In the writing class news, I looked up my rosters. Eight out of my 27 writing students from last semester are in my Expos classes this semester. Two are A students, which is very nice. This semester I will have 44 students for the writing classes – my classes are full.

Sherlock S2E1 - a rather lengthy impressions )

Couple of blogs about the Sherlock episode which really put in words my problems with Moffat's portrayal of women and sexuality (they are very spoilerish):

1. http://slatternly.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/sherlock-a-scandal-in-belgravia-or-the-fall-of-irene-adler/

2. http://www.dispositio.net/archives/810

3. http://blogwasred.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/sherlocked-the-humiliation-of-irene-adler/

My computer is wheezing. I think it does that when the battery disconnects. Pretty disconcerting but hopefully an easy fix. I love my laptop and I hope it works for a long long time.
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What I like about New Year’s Day is that it usually a very relaxed day where we open presents, enjoy them and eat left over holiday food and I get to spend the whole day with my parents and with Bear.

When I was little I would wake up very, very early and then Sasha and I would go open our presents when all the adults were still asleep. (Sasha - short for Alexander - is my first cousin. He is only six month older than me so we grew up together until I moved to America. I call him my brother because in Russian language we don’t say ‘cousin’ we say something like ‘second-level brother’ and I always thought of him as my brother and his sister Katya as my sister.) I would stay over my Aunt’s house for most of the day, and we would open presents and then go to kitchen and eat left over olivie salad and cake.

Now as an adult I don’t rush to open presents, I like to sit there and look at the tree with presents under it for a bit. Still in pajamas.

My New Year Loot:

1. Not the Messiah (Monty Python CD) – from Bear
2. The Complete Sherlock Holmes (books) – From Bear
3. “Sherlock: Season One” DVD – from Papa
4. Adam Lambert CD – from Papa
5. $25 iTunes gift card –from Papa
6. “Gateway” by Frederik Pohl (book) – from Papa
7. purple pajamas – from Mama
8. socks – some from Mama, some from Bear’s brother and his girlfriend
9. $25 Barnes and Noble gift card – from Bear’s brother and his girlfriend (rest of Riverworld books, here I come)
10. Castle Keep: The Game of Medieval Strategy and Siege - toy from Bear

We spent the morning talking to relatives all over the world from Belarus to Russia to California on Skype. I love having cameras in the computer and seeing everyone. The technology is awesome. I found out that Sasha might actually come visit in May. He’s never been to America before. Now he just needs to get a visa to leave Belarus which is not 100% certainty. Fingers crossed. I don’t want to get too excited until he actually gets a visa but the idea of it is making me very happy.

Bear and I went for a walk in the afternoon before lunch and I had to find three different types of stain removal pencils/sticks – the drawback of a real tablecloth and lots of food. It got warmer today but we still had to negotiate walking in the snow.

After lunch, all of us watched “A Study in Pink” the first “Sherlock” episode. My parents really liked it. Bear did too. I was glad to see all the scenes deleted from PBS broadcast.

Then I ordered my Riverworld books and Bear and I played on the Wii. We tried some Winter Sports games and then mostly played on Wii Fit.

Today was a nice day.

Exercise: a walk and some Wii.
Cross-stitch: I started with purple color on the ball. I’m trying some parts in two-ply and some in three to see which I want to do. Two-ply is neater but three might look better.

I want to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year!
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So today was a big grading day. I took breaks to watch “Sherlock” online and “House” live. Otherwise I graded. I managed 18 papers by midnight, which is a lot for one day. They take forever. They are only five page papers but I have to write a lot of comments on the margins and a big comment at the end and point to two things students should work on their next paper. Once I get into the zone I can do 30 minutes per paper but until then it takes 40-45 minutes. And they slowly kill my brain. The good news is that the kids are steadily improving. Most are hovering on C+/B cusp and I even gave one “A.”

Sherlock: The Great Game )

House S7E6 )
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Sherlock: The Blind Banker )

A great and funny slideshow of the signs at Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear that happened this past Saturday in DC.

“Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman is the book club choice this month with “Infidel” by Ayaal Hirsi Ali as the secondary book. I’m looking forward to this.
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I was in the library today again. Not much is going on really. I did have chili and baked potato for lunch and actually looked at the ingredients on the ‘sour cream’ and “butter-like substance” they give with it. Yeah, I’m just pouring the chili over the potato next time.

The Local College scheduled me for the global classes for next semester on their website, so I’m assuming I’ve been hired. I read the chapter on Mesopotamia and Egypt today – this textbook really does not go into much detail, just focuses on the big picture of similarities and differences between civilizations. I will need to find balance between details and connections. I’m starting to make a list of primary sources I want to use. And, film clips. I’ll definitely show the clip from “Darmok” episode of Star Trek: TNG where Picard is explaining Gilgamesh.

“Sherlock: A Study in Pink” This was awesome! And funny – I do expect this from Moffat. He again proves that he can write well. Lots of little references to the books – I haven’t read the books since I was a child, and now I want to reread. (I actually got some references from Gaiman’s “A Study in Emerald” short story from “Fragile Things” collection, since I read this much more recently.) Sherlock has a very nice baritone (Yes, I am shallow on some things). Everyone goes straight for insinuating a love connection between Holmes and Watson while it actually doesn’t read like one. The main characters even discuss it. The show is just playing with it all nicely. Women characters don’t talk to each other; it is a boy show. I always like Martin Freeman and he is great here. I so like that I can just watch the show online anytime. ”spoiler” ) I’m now really really looking forward to the next two episodes.

"HIMYM": This is a really funny episode – the show is picking up again. I love Barney and Robin’s speech – that kind of stuff has been missing. Barney, unlike Ted, really loves the whole of Robin, including her awesomeness at not needing a guy to take care of her.
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Dexter S5E4 )

I finished the full stitch portion of my "Good Book" cross stitch project since it is not a big project. Now I just need to do backstitch. I do like cross stitching and having “Real Time with Bill Maher” in the background. At least I know the main political issues of the week.

In the afternoon I took a walk and I found myself paying attention to the trees and multicolored leaves. There was one tree with green, yellow and red leaves and I wish I had a camera with me. The neighborhood is just very pretty now with leaves changing color – I also liked this deep red color that was in the leaves on the ground. I also ended up taking a nap in the afternoon, which I haven’t done in a while. I guess I really needed to rest this weekend.

The new British “Sherlock Holmes” series finally made it to America on PBS for the next three weekends. I’ve heard things about it and PBS usually streams, so I’ll definitely will try to catch it online. PBS also has Patrick Stewart’s “Macbeth” set in 20th century. I wanted to see this when the play came to Brooklyn a few years ago, but the play has sold out. So I started watching it tonight and just caught up in it. I might have just watched the whole thing (I’m up to “Is this the dagger” portion) but my neighbor Laura called and invited me to dinner with her family and some guests so I went over there, instead. But I will try to watch more tomorrow.

It was a very delicious dinner, they made shish-kebabs. It was nice to just hang out and be social for a bit. There were five adults and four kids and it was good chaos.

Brothers and Sisters S5E5 )

Fun link of the day : Halloween costumes that should not exist. I was laughing so hard at these that tears came out.

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