Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 09:05 pm
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The semester is officially over. I spent Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning grading 43 papers. Plus on Monday, in the last class, I gave the final exam and graded 43 of those. But today I had my Folder Review, turned my grades in, held final office hour where I returned the folders and grades to mostly happy students and then I was done with teaching.

I didn't sleep well last night - but then I never do lately, having to go pee a lot. Late pregnancy is not too fun. I got up close to 6am (and so did Tanya for some reason). My parents were staying over to make it easier for my Mom to watch Tanya and for my Dad to drive me to University for the last time. We left by 6:15, after I made my bagel with cream cheese, got dressed and packed my lunch. I was at school by 7am and my Dad helped me lug the suitcase and a big bag full of student folders to the nice couch by the offices. Offices weren't open yet but that couch is extra comfy. So I finished the last of the papers - I left 3 good ones to the end. Then once the offices opened, I got help carrying my folders downstairs to the writing centers, printed three final exams that I still had to grade and finished sorting everything, right in time for my folder review at 10. As usual it went pretty smoothly. I then only had to do my electronic grade book and hold that final office hour.

Larry, one of my colleagues stopped by, and kept me company a little. We chat about books and music so it was very nice just to hang as some of my students tickled through to pick up their folders. He also wanted a chance to say goodbye properly as did many others. I got lots of hugs today. I will miss people I worked with for sure. And the teaching. But it was time to move on - they could only offer a part-time gig, and while it was ok for a while, I really do need full time work and more money.

After the folder review I went and got myself a reward brownie, chatted to Emily, another co-worker, for a bit and then caught up on "Flash" on the office computer and just hung around until 4 when my Dad came to pick me up after his work.

Now I'm just very tired from a long day, even if half of it was mostly sitting around. Since my body is busy making a human, it is pretty tiring just to sit too. But now I have 4 days with no work at all before I start my new job on Monday. I do have full two days ahead alone with Tanya though, so that would be exhausting, I'm sure. But at least no more grading. I can read (Gaiman's Norse Mythology and Jude the Obscure), watch some TV (Baking Show, Supergirl and Supernatural and Sense8 is starting soon) and finally catch up on my blog a bit. I've been reading all the entries but barely had time to comment, much less post, so I will probably do more of that over the next few days.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 12:42 pm
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Happy International Women's Day! When I was a kid in Soviet Union, it was a national holiday with a day off school and I would get presents. The presents stopped when we moved to the US. I can't take off work today, since I work part-time and also I really need to keep to our semester schedule, but it is a nice thought.

I had a big grading deadline on Monday, with Folder Review in the morning (where I meet with my supervisor and have to have all Paper 2 graded), but most importantly, I needed to get all the grading done so I can give it back to my students to keep on track. They are turning in Paper 3 today, so they needed my comments from the previous paper. I also had midterms to grade, but those were not as essential, and also go much faster, so I did one section for Monday and the other I finished today. So this weekend I was pretty much grading and grading and grading and being in a stressful grumpy mood. But I got it all done, so yay. Next week is spring break, so I get some extra time to work on Paper 3.

I finished midterms this morning, and had the time to wash my hair, and give myself a pedicure and manicure, so now I feel like a proper person.

I had a minor cold since Friday, so made me a little cranky. Mainly my nose was running and by Monday the cold was making my upper teeth, upper throat and left ear hurt a little. But it feels almost ok now, so I'm taking it as a win. So many people were really sick this winter than this cold feels like it was a lucky break. And I was really happy, actually, that it wasn't allergies (since we just moved it was a concern, but definitely a cold).

On Saturday, Bear and I went to my OB-GYN for my pregnancy check-up. After this, I will go every two weeks as I'm entering my third trimester. Everything with the baby looked good. She's two pounds one ounce already. She doesn't seem to want to move around as much as Tanya did - only when she's uncomfortable or in the car or when I'm at work, so she's probably (hopefully) a lazier, less spirited baby. She is a good size baby so far, although I'm gaining less weight than I did with my first pregnancy.

The only concern now that does worry me a little is low placenta. The ultrasound tech and the doctor told me this at the anatomy scan at 21 weeks and they said it will probably move and not to worry. At this scan at 26 weeks, it hasn't moved. It is still low - the tech called it marginal. So it's not placenta plevia, at least not right now, and there is still 10 weeks for it to move up. And in most cases, it will. But it is there and makes me a little nervous. I mean, if I will need to have a C-section, I will have one, it is not the end of the world. Mostly, I don't want to go on bedrest, or at least not until the semester is over and I want this baby to go to term. Again, this is all speculation right now, everything is in flux and, according to the mighty internet, in most cases, the placenta should move up and I would be able to have a natural birth. It is is problem in my .5% of cases only. We'll see. It's just making me a little nervous.
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Today was much colder and snowier than the forecast predicted. I wore my shuba (fur coat) so I was very warm and the snow looked very pretty - large, white beautiful snowflakes. After a weekend of bitter cold, with high of 11F (-11.5C), today wasn't as bad as it could have been with maybe 25F (-4C) high.

What really messed the commute up was not the snow but the holiday weekend schedule. Today is President's Day and many people have a day off work like my Dad or Bear. I, on the other hand, had to go to work. It is not a day that absolutely every one has off. It depends on your company. But all the subways and trains are on the weekend schedule with fewer trains and weekend work and all sorts of fun. I didn't realize this until I was almost at my train this morning.

The subway was late and I thought, well, I'll be late, I'll catch the next train. But by the time the subway made it to my destination, I though that I might have time to catch the usual one. But there were no newspaper people by the subway station and the street was emptier than usual, and as I got to the entrance of the train station, it finally dawned on me why it would be emptier. I pulled out my phone with the train schedule app and saw that trains were running once an hour (instead of four trains an hour during rush hour) and the next train was 45 minutes wait. I slowed down my super walk and sighed. I didn't stress about it - no one comes to office hours at this point of the semester.

The commute ended up being worse on the way back. The train was 20 minutes later than usual but it came on time despite the ever increasing unexpected big snowstorm. It was the subway that messed everything up because during the weekend my subway line doesn't stop at the usual stop due to various work. I had to take another line to go further downtown and then I ended up waiting 40 minutes for my subway line to show up. There was no reason given, it was just super late. So I came home an hour later than usual. I read my book and listened to music so it wasn't so bad. Bear was home with Tanya and I wasn't rushing to work, so I didn't stress too much. But I guess this semester is all about weird commute.

Otherwise, my Monday was fine. I graded on the train, taught paragraphs and connections, made peer review sheets, read my book (I'm back reading "Buried Giant" by Ishiguro - it took me 100 something pages to realize that this book is not meant as a historical novel set in 6th century Britain, but a historical fantasy set in fantasy 6th century Britain where dragons and ogres are real). I don't really care about the Grammys but I had it on in the background for a bit so I could watch the opening number from Hamilton. I was singing all the words. And I watched "Downton Abbey" episode from yesterday. I found that on teaching days, I can't grade in the evening - I really need to decompress. 13 papers left to do by Thursday.

This weekend was nice. We went to Long Island to visit Bear's parents. Bear took a day off on Friday because we needed to both be at the post office to apply for Tanya's passport. All three of us had to be there in person, according to the rules. Tanya and I went to a local store two weeks ago to get her passport photo done - it was surprisingly easy. She looked at the camera at the second try. She is mostly fascinated at new places and observes. Don't put up a fuss. So that helped a lot. I really thought it would take a lot longer.

Anyway, on Friday, once we got back from the post office, we had lunch, finished packing and drove to Long Island. There was a snow forecast of Saturday and cold, so we didn't want to get stuck anywhere and thought we might as well go early. There is a lot more snow on the ground in Long Island than in Brooklyn. Tanya and Bear ended up playing in the snow in the back year for a bit, while I unpacked.

The weekend itself was nice. I spent most of it at the kitchen table grading papers. But I got a lot of work done, while also making time to socialize (Bear's brother and his girlfriend came over on Saturday so her kind of birthday party). And, most importantly, I finished the 3rd Robert Galbraith book. I read the last 50% in three days, while traveling and grading. so that's a sign of a good book for me. I just wanted to keep reading. I will do that book post sometime this week to talk about this year's books but overall I do really enjoy these detective novels.
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I really need to figure out how to handle my work stress better. I work part-time during the semesters teaching two sections of writing classes at a University. The rest of the time I'm home with my 18 month old, which is another job in itself. Of course, part-time is a relative term. I physically go to work two days a week and teach two 80 minute classes. But during the weeks where I have commenting on rough drafts (for papers 1 and 4) or grading papers (there are 5) - so seven weeks total, I don't have any free time at all. My every spare moment, which with an 18 months old and household stuff, really just includes nap time and bedtime, is used to grade.

There are 43 students at present, and I spend about 30 min on paper, sometimes more. Plus, after reading about 4 to 6 of them in a row, especially this early in the semester where the writing is very terrible, makes my brain literally hurt and shut down. So grading and commenting weeks are weeks of high stress for me where I try to get through 6 papers a day, every day for a week, to try to get them back in a week. I do have half a week backup time, just in case, but that just prolongs the agony.

So this week, from last Thursday to this morning was commenting week. I was fine, stress wise until Monday. I got a whole class done by Sunday night and I was on track. Of course, by Monday night I was exhausted from waking up early and teaching and commuting, so I got less done. And on Tuesday night, Tanya decided that she needed me nearby at 9:30pm to sleep, so I ended up commenting on two papers with a flashlight. But then I felt so exhausted I fell asleep, 3 papers from my goal. That really shouldn't have raised my stress that high - I was still on track. But by the evening I was feeling it. Frustrated and testy. I really try hard not to take it out on others, so it's probably bottling in too. I got 3 papers done during Tanya's long nap on Wednesday and actually managed 6 in the evening without my brain drying up. And I got 3 done on morning commute and last one in office hours. I was all ready for class. But last night, it really wasn't helpful to start getting upset over it. So I need better grading stress strategies. I'm going to really try to stay on track this semester.

On the upside, I get a grading free weekend. Yay. I still have to write a letter of recommendation, write a bunch of emails, and read the essay for next week to prep Monday's class, but no grading! I get Paper 1 on Monday, so I should really enjoy it. I just watched the latest episode of "Supernatural" - yay, girls! - and now I want to curl up with the 3rd Robert Galbraith book Career of Evil (J.K. Rowling detective books) which I got from the library today on my Kindle. I got notification in the morning and took our my other book I'm reading and stuck a Kindle in my bag to read on the way home. Unfortunately, the Kindle didn't pick up the school Wi-Fi so I couldn't download it. I ended up reading National Geographic on the way home, which is fine, I'm behind on them but I can't wait to read my book it. It already had a very, very creepy beginning from the perspective of a serial killer targeting the main character, so it should be fun!

Tanya continues to be awesome and watching her pick up language continues to be super fascinating to me. She is repeating absolutely everything we say now and is starting to sing along with songs. My Mom told me to try reading her some small baby poems which I've been reading to her for a while (some Barto ones) and not to say the ending word on the line to let her say it. And she totally did! And she did that with the alphabet poems too. She really does remember it or at least recognizes the rhyme.

We also started letting her wear just the underwear at home for about an hour in the afternoons to get her to recognize when she needs to go pee and to start asking. She's been good about pooping in the potty for a while now and knows how to ask that. And in this last week, since we started diaper free time she really started to pick it up and has been mostly recognizing when she needs to pee, although she can't quite hold it all the way yet. Still, no giant accidents. I'm really impressed how far she came in just a week of this. We want to get her diaper free by summer. Fingers crossed. She has been having fun with putting all her stuffed animals on the potty. She picks Elmo up, for example. says, "pee, pee. begi (run), begi (run)" and runs with him to the potty and tries to put him on. It's hysterical sometimes.
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This week was the last week of the semester so it was a bit hectic. I needed to finish grading all papers and final exams by Friday afternoon. The students finished their final exam on Thursday afternoon. Since I was staying at my parents since Wednesday though, my Dad drove me to work and I had all Thursday to do a lot. My brain stopped working after grading 10 papers (it takes about 30 minutes per paper with all the comments) but luckily the finals didn't require brains. They are Pass/Fail with no comments needed. By the end of the day Thursday, I only had three papers left and of my smart A students, so I knocked them off by Friday morning and still had time to go to the playground with Tanya.

And the final handover of grades went well. I successfully argued with my director for higher grades for two of my students and everyone passed. And the students were mostly happy when they came to pick up their folders with their final grade on Friday afternoon. I do love seeing them improve over the course of the semester and they end up realizing how much they did need the class - it is a required class for them, so many resist.

On top of all the grading, Bear and I took Tanya to her pediatrician on Wednesday for one more vaccine shot. Now she just needs a booster flu shot in a months and a Hepatitis A shot at some point next year. And that's it for a while. Yay. We brought some toys with us and a book and she did pretty well. She still hates being weighted and measured and shots, of course, but there was less fuss than last time.

She is such a girl. Her new favorite game is to go to the closet where all my necklaces are hanging on the jewelry organizer. She wants to be lifted up so she could reach them and then I point to various ones and she says either "no" or "da" (yes in Russian). She tries some on or wants me to try them and this can go on for a while. Occasionally she goes in my closet where her fancy birthday dress is and wants to wear that for a bit. And she loves scarves and hats.

In less than pleasant news, in this hectic work week where I did not need more stress, we had to pull out of the apartment contract. Our realtor called on Tuesday afternoon, wanting us to switch mortgage brokers. Then not even two hours later he called again to say that he spoke to the president of the board and that the board doesn't want to let my Dad and I be co-owners since it would go against their occupancy rules (even though my parents have a house and have no intention in leaving it).

When we first came to see the place, he reassured us that our situation would not be a problem, that the board makes exceptions all the time, that the president is his friend and all. My parents were giving us half the downpayment so we wanted to co-own. My Dad also has a high income. The board wouldn't let just Bear and I get it because our income is not high enough for them - I work part-time since it makes the most financial sense right now with a baby and I don't have to pay for childcare this way, and how can I give definitive proof that I will have a full time job soon? No one can guarantee their job. Anyway, that judgment on us based solely on income pissed me off more than anything. The bank had no issue giving us a mortgage with our current combined salary, I have a very high credit score, we have a lot of savings, no debt, we rarely eat out, we don't buy alcohol, we don't qualify for any assistance programs, we can do more on our salary than people who make twice as much - but that really doesn't count here. I wrote the realtor a lengthy email on Friday because he should have checked with the board before we signed the contract and wasted these three weeks in putting together all the documents. Argh. He did write back to apologize but it did cause us a lot of stress. We got our deposit back (I checked with the lawyer and even put a stop on the check, just in case) and the lawyer reimbursed half of his fee so I at least didn't lose any money.

It was nice to have a weekend with no grading looming over it. On Saturday I cleaned the bathroom, finally ordered photos for my photo album and went to the dentist to finish with the crown. I order photos once a year - I like having a physical album and I get to look through all the pictures and pick the best ones that represent the year. Then I order it in December because of all the holiday discounts.

And this morning I went to the Chinese supermarket to get Jasmine rice and Udon noodles and a did a couple of more chores. Then I came home and made spinach pie.

I had a box of spinach in my freezer for a while and I was determined to used it and not to waste it. I looked up a bunch of recipes online and picked this recipe . I bought the puff pastry dough yesterday on the walk back from the dentist. I added mushrooms to the onion saute and didn't use garlic. My Parmesan cheese was a bit old so I used some smoked cheese. It came out well - Bear already ate like half of it - but next time I will use less salt and I will roll the pastry more to really cover the middle of the top more tightly.

And in the evening we drove to Brighton Beach so I could go get Tanya some Russian books for New Year presents and also some puzzle blocks. I got a book of fables and a learning book for learning concepts like "up/down" "left/right" etc. Bear already taught her "on/off" when turning the lights on or off. In the car today, she saw me in glasses (I don't always wear them when I'm not at work or not watching TV or computer) and said "ochki off" (glasses off). So she's getting it! It was nice to get out and go somewhere all together.

TV for the week )
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November 24th seems to be an auspicious day for me. I should buy a lottery ticket tomorrow. I had to look it up to see if the dates matched up and they did. Bear first told me he loved me on November 24, 1998 - I just remembered it as Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Then 15 years later, on November 24, 2013, I took a pregnancy test and discovered we were having Tanya. And tomorrow, we are putting money down to buy our first place - a two bedroom apartment. It is not guaranteed - the place is in a co-op, so we will need board approval and we still need to get approved for a mortgage - but if everything goes according to plan we can move by the spring (after lots of renovations first). So very adult of us.

My Mom had this wild plan to get the house across the street from them. But we would need to make a lot more to afford that place - it has a studio to rent out but we can't just depend on a tenant to cover the bills. Looking at that place and thinking about it though just reaffirmed the decision to get an apartment for now. And the place we looked at before but turned down, decided the accept our lower offer, so I called today and set everything up.

I had a very busy weekend because I had to finish grading (and go to the dentist for my crown replacement. I get anxiety going to the dentist so I'm glad that's done for now). Now I'm all done with grading this set and have a free holiday week ahead of me. Yay. We came over my parents' place yesterday to see that house and Tanya and I stayed, while Bear went home. My Dad drove me to work today and picked me up. Tomorrow we are going back home and then on Wednesday morning, we are leaving for Bear's parents for Thanksgiving. Lots of travel. We also went to visit my grandparents on Sunday morning - so pretty busy.

But I am really looking forward to just relaxing, enjoying the holiday, working on my story for RS Small gifts, and maybe finding time to cross stitch. I'm also making inroads in the Hamilton biography - it was pretty gripping reading about how the states voted to accept the Constitution. I know what should happen but I'm really enjoying the details and realizing just how contentious and uncertain early American history was.

TV: Reviews with spoilers
Supergirl S1E4 )

Supernatural S11E7 )

Grimm S5E4 )
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On my 17th birthday, my then sort-of boyfriend gave me two music tapes as presents (yes, tapes. It was the 90s). One of them was the Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" album. He didn't know much about modern popular music and his sister recommended it. At the time I wasn't really into it. I thanked him, of course. It was super nice of him but I put the tape away in my tape tower and didn't listen to it much. A year and a half later my Dad was having a birthday party and one of his friend's daughter came over too. We were hanging out in my room and she wanted to listen to it. To my utter surprise I knew and loved most of the songs on the album because they were all over the radio at the time. I didn't realize I had them. I listened to that album a lot after that. It still remains one of my favorite albums to this day.

I was thinking lately that I might have another album that I put away but might appreciate now as my musical taste evolved. A long time ago, maybe a dozen years or so, I got "Broadways Greatest Love Songs" CD as a present. I think it was from Bear but I can't be sure. Most likely from him. I liked two songs on that album right way, "On my Own" from Les Miserables (which I already knew and loved) and "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar (which I discovered on that album). I didn't really care about others. I only downloaded the two songs into my iTunes, once I got iTunes, and put the CD away. Because I was making my Broadway playlist recently, and musicals are on my mind, it occurred to me that I should try it again. I know more of Broadway now. I listened to and saw more shows. My tastes certainly have changed. And I was right. I put it on today and I totally love it. I know more songs from that CD and more musicals. It's funny when that happens.

I have a week to catch up but there isn't that much. Last Sunday and Monday, we went to Long Island to visit Bear's parents for Labor Day weekend. His father was turning 75 on this Tuesday, September 8, so they were also having a little birthday party. On Sunday, Bear's brother John and his girlfriend Laurie came over and we had a nice dinner. I even came down to have ice cream cake once Tanya was sleeping.

On Monday, I was making soup for Tanya in my mother-in-law's kitchen when disaster struck. The blender she gave me to grind the chicken and blend the soup had a loose bottom. Not loose enough to notice but loose enough for soup to start to escape from the bottom as it reached good consistency. As I lifted the top portion of the blender and my mother-in-law tried to help, the bottom fell out completely and all the soup, with nice organic ingredients, ended up on the counter and floor and pants and slippers. I wanted to cry. Well, I just had to start over and make the soup all over again. There was no carrot or potato or celery in the house so we sent Bear's father to the store. The second soup came out fine and I double checked the blender super carefully.

Because of Labor Day weekend, I had to work on Tuesday instead of Monday and then again Thursday. My parents are on vacation in Aruba so Bear took three days off this week to take care of Tanya when I'm at work. (He usually watches her on Monday since it's his day off and my Mom has Thursdays). He was really nervous about it since last time he watched her all day was May. But he did fine, of course. She really mastered walking now - it's so fun to watch.

On Wednesday, when we were both home, we decided to go to Brighton Beach for variety in the morning. (Brighton Beach in Brooklyn is the center of Russian community and it has a Boardwalk and a beach). We played on the playground near the beach and I went to the Russian book store while she napped in her stroller, with Bear walking back and forth, to pick up a book and toys for Jo, who is turning 2 in October. It got pretty hot but it was still nice to do something different. I also cooked a lot on Wednesday - in addition to another batch of soup for Tanya (with my immersion blender this type and old school grinder)- I made cabbage stir fry and chicken and pasta. And on Thursday I made rice using chicken broth from the soup, instead of water.

By the way, my parents might be on vacation in Aruba but my Mom Skypes me some mornings while she's having breakfast on the balcony overlooking the beach. Technology is pretty amazing.

Work has been good so far. The classes are nice and small, so the commenting on drafts is much more manageable. The drafts, which I got on Thursday, are also only three pages long, so it's hasn't been too stressful getting them all done. I managed to get a lot done this morning, working for maybe three hours while Bear took Tanya for a walk. And I like my students, especially the second class where the students actually brought up passages in the reading that weren't as clear. The drafts are pretty terrible - mostly summary and not a lot of analysis - but that is typical of first papers. I know they will get better. We are going to work on topic sentences on Monday. They need some.

I'm still reading Sacks. I'm more than two-thirds through. (I used to have really fast reading speed until I was 17 and read "War and Peace." Reading that book slowed down my reading speed and it stayed that way. It's weird). Definitely enjoying it. He was friends with Auden, which was weird since I read Christopher Isherwood's "Christopher and his Kind" not that long ago and he and Auden were best friends. Like all the people I read about knew each other.

I bought the HumbleBook Bundle from Neil Gaiman this morning but I still need to figure out how to download it. But first, I really just want to finish Sacks.
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I'm on the train home from work right now and while I can use this time to grade, I'd rather procrastinate. I had enough time to stop by Dunken Donuts because I wanted a bagel but I ended up getting their new Oreo cheesecake square and hash browns. The cheesecake square was ok; it is basically a donut with cream cheese like filling (only with more sugar). Next time I'll stick to the bagel. I did also eat an apple I had with me. So healthy snack is covered. But sometimes a treat is sorely needed too.

The next 5 to 6 weeks to the end of the semester are going to be super busy. I have to finish grading Paper 3, comment on Draft 4, grade Paper 4, 5 and final. On top of that I have to made Passover Seder dinner this Friday for us, plan a giant Passover Seder with my friends on Saturday (one of my favorite things), and travel to Bear's parents for Easter.

To that end I'm going on fannish vacation until June: no time wasting Internet like fanfic or Tumblr. I will keep watching Supernatural, Grimm and Spartacus and go to my daily sites like Mark Watches, DW and LJ and read news sources but otherwise , I need to focus. I'm going try to read too - I've been so behind.

A few weeks ago I read Oliver Sacks The Mind's Eye . I've taught a chapter from that book before but I never read the whole thing. He is such an interesting author, definitely challenges my view of the world. I'm looking forward to his autobiography.

This book had a lot personal stories as he described the loss of perception of objects, loss of speech, face blindness, and loss of stereo vision, and loss of vision in general. Sacks himself has face blindness and he lost stereo vision due to cancer and he describes both experiences vividly. I can only relate to not being visual but it was interesting to imagine existing without other abilities. I can't see anything with my eyes closed but I never saw it as a disadvantage. I'd take my highly logical brain over a visual one.

I often find Sacks scary, fascinating and hopeful all at once. One of my greatest fears is forgetting or losing my brain, so his cases are very creepy at times. After my Grandma Tanya had a second stroke in 1999, she spent the last six months of her life in a catatonic state. She would sit there unable to move or communicate. The day before she died, my cousin, her eldest granddaughter came to visit from Belarus. There was sign of recognition on my grandmother's part and she died later that night. She got to say goodbye and let go. But all I could think of was that she was probably able to think but not do much else and how scary that must have been. Sacks' case studies often scare in that way.

But this book is also hopeful. It is about adoptation and resilience when something happens to change your perception of the world.

I definitely want to read more of his books. I gave The Man Who Mistook His wife for a hat to Bear for his last birthday, so I'm going to pick that up at some point.
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The snow storm on Thursday made this week feel strange. My university first cancelled all morning classes late Wednesday night. One of my classes was therefore cancelled but not the second one. I was supposed to give the midterm and I didn't want anybody not showing up because of the storm and having to do a make up later. Plus going in for just one class was not worth it with all the commute. So late Wednesday I cancelled my second class and rightly so for on Thursday morning University realized that the snow kept falling. All classes cancelled officially. Papa worked from home and Mama was watching Tanya and I could grade some papers. The snow was very pretty and heavy.

On Wednesday afternoon my Mom picked Tanya and me up and we left for my parents' house for the next week and a half. Bear has started his work season where he needs to stay late at work from Tuesday to Friday and works Saturday morning with Sundays and Mondays off. It is much easier for him to stay at his parents' house on late nights as his work is much closer to their house. And my parents love having Tanya around. And as much as it is often difficult for my Mom and I to be under the same roof, it is ultimately better for Tanya. And Papa can drive me to work instead of me taking the train. Next week Bear needs to work Monday so he is just coming here tomorrow and I'm staying put. But regularly until May I will spend Tuesday afternoon to Saturday morning at my parents.

I definitely can get some grading done while my parents play with my kid and I have Folder Review on Monday (meeting with a program director) so I need to get a lot done. There is plenty of misreading and failing grades. And one student fudged formatting and thought I wouldn't notice how wide the spacing was. I pulled up his paper since they have to submit it online as well as a hard copy and I 'fixed' his formatting. It was 4 pages instead of 5.

My Mom picked up us on Wednesday instead of Tuesday because Tanya had her pediatrician appointment on Wednesday for her last two vaccines until August. She is 69cm already and 17.5 pounds. She's getting heavy.

The doctor, however, is overly concerned that she is not sitting independently yet. She can sit, she just still leans forward a little though and is not sitting up by herself. She rolls around a lot; it's hard to contain her and she gets to toys easier that way. I think she is still a little scared of sitting. I read that on average babies sit at 6 and a half but there is no worry until eight months. And my Dad sat later and so did many other babies I heard about. So I am not worried at all. But my doctor thinks action should be taken now and I should call the early development program to have her evaluated. She already wants to say that Tanya has a gross motor delay. But Tanya does absolutely all other skills and American Pediatric Association only says diagnosis is appropriate at 9 months nor at 7. I get that the doctor just wants the best for Tanya but I think it is really too early to worry and it makes me a little uncomfortable. I'll probably call anyway, it wouldn't hurt I just don't think it is really of such an immediate concern.
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This week was an easy week workwise. Not a lot of grading, mostly just lessons on outlines and topic sentences and thesis. We started a new reading on Thursday and it just happened to be Tim Wu on the very day FCC made a net neutrality ruling.(Yay on that) Of course, none of my students knew the term nor bothered to read the news, so we spent some part of the class using their smart phones for good instead of evil. I love teaching something that makes them pay attention to the news.

I got Paper 2 on Thursday too. I have until Folder review on March 9th to finish them and the midterm which they will write next week. Plenty of time, I hope. The first paper I graded do far already failed for very shallow text reading and not really answering the assignment.

I don't understand why people on the internet were freaking out about color of that dress. Did they never hear of differences in perceptions? I saw white and gold and so did Beat but he, being an artist, actually made his brain see black and blue after seeing the real dress picture. Both just depend on eyes, lighting and other variables.

It was weirder for me to realize after teaching Oliver Sacks last year that many people are visual when they close their eyes. Many people like Bear can picture a say pink elephant in color and 3d with their eyes closed and see it like a real elephant. He can even rotate it in his head. I never seen anything. All I see is black. I know the concept instantly but I don't actually see it. I never realized before last year that when someone asks you to close your eyes and see a beach they expect you to see an actual beach. I get the concept and feeling but no visial. Humans are fascinating.

Yesterday was sad because of Leonard Nemoy's death. TNG is my show but I've seen enough of original series and I've seen all the movies. It was very nice to read all the positive, wonderful things about the man. I didn't see any Internet trolls and that was such a reflection of what kind of person he was and what Star Trek means to people.

Speaking of Star Trek, I'm so happy the Mark of Mark Watches got to Star Trek: TNG reviews. He does have to slug through that first season but still that show is magic.
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I'm in the midst of Paper 1 grading from which I hope to emerge on Thursday, so all my spare time goes to that. I have 43 papers total plus maybe 1 student who still hasn't turned his in. At 30 min per paper and brain being exhausted by really bad papers, it takes me a while to grade and comment. I have 8 papers to finish by class time tomorrow and 21 to grade by Thursday. The average grade is a C so far, which is common for the Paper 1 of the Spring semester. They do get better as I keep reminding myself. Part of the reason I really like teaching Expository Writing is because the students really do learn and we can see progress unfold.

I did get a nice day off yesterday. Tanya, Bear and I went to Long Island to visit Bear's parents for the day. They've been clamoring for Tanya to visit since they haven't seen her since Christmas and they are a bit old and in pain to travel. With all this winter weather it is a bit tricky but yesterday wasn't Arctic cold and the snow only started in the evening when we came back.

Best part of driving for at least an hour - Tanya got to nap! And she just had one nap to do in between. And for her it was like being in a brand new place since she probably forgot the house in 7 weeks.

It was a lovely low-key visit with nice food and desert. Grandma Regina got to feed Tanya some oatmeal and Grandpa Bill got to play with her and take pictures. Best way to spend Valentine's Day.

When we got home and Tanya actually slept from 7:30 to her 11 o'clock feed with no problem, I caught up on 'Grimm'. (Unlike on Friday when she did not let me watch 'Glee' by waking up at 9 and refusing to settle. Argh.)

I am really enjoying 'Grimm' this season, and of course there is a cliffhanger until March 20th. I'm actually enjoying Juliette storyline, go figure.

Today, while my parents came to babysit, Bear and I braved the freezing, freezing cold (16F), to walk 15 min to the tax accountant to do our taxes. Good thing about having a baby last year (well other than baby, who is awesome despite all the sleep deprevation)- child tax credit. Yay. Glad that is done.
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Happy International Women's Day!

When I was a kid, it was a big no-school today holiday where I would get presents. I just got chocolate today. I was spending the last couple of days in my parents' house and my Mom watches a lot of Russian TV, so they were all big on the celebration. It feels bigger this year to me.

This week was pretty busy with all the grading and folder review and I still have a ridiculous amount of grading to do. Midterm time generally is super busy. I'm looking forward to Spring Break in a week.

My parents were overfeeding me - and I discovered that the only way I look forward to drinking milk is with a home made banana smoothie. I do need more calcium so banana shakes will be in this week for me.

Marianna is having another girl! So it is all girls for us. That should be super fun. And Baby Bear started kicking just a little bit - I'm pretty sure it's the baby and not gas this time.

On Wednesday night, Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath came in the library to borrow on Kindle. I was done with it on Friday. I liked it, especially the story of David and Goliath itself with David with his super slinger skills. I think Outliers had better stories but as usual Gladwell makes you rethink many common tropes and he is certainly interesting.
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The best part of a Sunday on a holiday weekend is knowing there is another day off. Bear and I usually go grocery shopping on Sundays but we are going tomorrow instead. So it feels like a Saturday.

I spent most morning grading papers and watching Olympics (ice dancing and bobsled mostly) and then in the afternoon we left to get a subway to the city to meet up with the girls for our monthly get together. We met up in a Japanese restaurant this time - Bear, I, Yeva, her boyfriend Jonathan, Marianna, Adama and their little girl Galya (who at 2 and 1/2 is such a bundle of energy). Janna was going to come but we had to switch from Saturday to Sunday, so her husband couldn't make it and she didn't want to venture out with a 4 month old baby by herself. So after our dinner, Marianna, Adama, Galya, Bear and I went to visit her and baby Jo, since they live nearby in Manhattan. And Janna gave me some baby stuff already, since she had so much extra, even though it is a bit early to accumulate baby things. Still, in Russian mentality you never turn down free stuff.

The best news today is that Marianna is pregnant too! She is actually due with her second child a week or so before me (She is due July 23 and I'm due August 2) so we get to be pregnant at the same time! She hasn't even told her parents yet but Yeva got it out of her. And it's funny, when I first saw her today I did have a thought that her belly was looking similar to mine - I got a little bump in the last few weeks. I just dismissed it but I shouldn't have. This is going to be fun.
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I haven’t written in a bit mostly because I’m in the middle of the semester and I’m just too tired on most nights. And also not too much is going on. It is mostly teaching history classes, teaching writing classes, grading, and tutoring. And cooking (which I love – I made cottage pie the other week).

Well, I did have to get oral surgery a week ago. I needed extraction – one wisdom tooth and one other tooth. That wasn’t that much fun, as you can imagine. I’m actually pretty good with pain – I managed with two Advils and an ice-pack and only took Vicodin the first night, just in case. But I wasn’t handling the antibiotics particularly well last week. On Tuesday, I felt so weak that my Mom actually drove to pick me up from work so I wouldn’t have to commute back. I don’t like those days. Hopefully, now it will settle in again.

This weekend I was grading the writing papers. I did go outside to go to the store and since it’s Purim, we got hametashen.

I did take a break from “Doctor Zhivago” to read John Green’s “Fault of Our Stars” which I gave to my Dad for his birthday (giving him a book about cancer was probably not the best move on my part). I did like it and I wanted to read something by John Green just because I heard of him so much. I did read it fast – it is an easy read. I don’t think it is a book I would reread, but I did enjoy the humor and snark of the characters.

Now I’m watching the Oscars. Oscars are my favorite awards show. But it has been a while since I kept up with all the Oscar related news. When I was 18 or 19 I won a DVD player in a newspaper Oscar contest – I don’t think I can do that today. But I was still all excited for it. I even convinced Bear to watch some of Red Carpet with me to make dress judgments (I loved Halle Berry’s dress) and the opening monologue. Which I did not like that much. I like Ben Affleck joke and joke at EW expense but Seth MacFarlaine’s humor is not the Oscar type humor. His book song was just too tasteless for me. The whole thing was so dragging. He is doing better in later jokes but that monologue was not good.

I like the orchestra using Jaws music to play people off who speak too long. I’m also enjoying the music theme with Bond songs and movie musicals and the dancing.
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Today was not my day. I was planning on waking up at 6, and grading a few papers before I had to leave at 7:10 to catch my train. I went to sleep pretty late as I tend to do on Thursday nights. When I looked at the alarm clock in the morning it was 6:54. The alarm went off at six but the volume wheel on the side was pushed all the way down, so I didn’t hear it at all. So there was a frantic rush to get dressed, brush my teach, put some tea in my thermos (I do love my Teavana termos) and make sure I had everything with me. I stopped by in the corner deli to get a bagel with cream cheese and only managed to be late 10 minutes to my carpool. Train was delayed a bit in places too.

After a hectic day of grading and teaching and lots of students at office hour, Rosemary and I went to Target on the way back since she wanted to do some shopping. So the day was looking up a little bit. I got practical things like Britta filters and a new bathmat but also some Hanukkah coins for tomorrow.

And then on the train back I discovered that I left my glasses case somewhere – probably, hopefully, in my office. I’ll see on Tuesday. While not a tragic loss it just added to the whole days which was so off track.

At least I could veg on the couch in the evening, although I should be grading. But my brain is dead and I will just have to grade first thing in the morning. Hopefully, my alarm clock will work properly this time.

I finished “Wolf Hall” last week, finally. I liked it overall but it got a bit tedious at the end. And the book does hinge on knowing who Henry VIII’s third wife was – I’m sure many readers didn’t get those subtle points. I also got tired of main character always being referred to as ‘he’ since I had to backtrack a lot to keep track whom the narrative was referencing. I did appreciate the interesting narrative structure. So I would probably give this book 4/5. I don’t regret reading it but I doubt I would reread it.

I started “The Book Thief,” for which I’m completely unspoiled. I heard good things about it but not too much of the plot. Of course, as soon as Bear is finished with the latest Dresden Files book, I will stop everything just to read it.

My semester is over next Friday so the week ahead is full of wonderful grading, so I won’t be reading anything else. But then I will reward myself with “The Hobbit” and ice skating.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday, May 11th, 2012 11:00 pm
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I finished all the grading! I woke up really early and just read all the rest of history papers and them used Excel for all the grading formulas and then put them into the system and I was done! Yay, for no more grading until September.

Two of my students plagiarized in their term Research Paper which was worth 35% of the grade. One guy, who was writing a paper on Plato, started taking about Plato and More and it was so clear than I had to google it. After I sent him an email telling him that because of plagiarism (and explaining that I used Google to catch it) he would fail the paper and the class, he responded back that he didn’t do this and he wanted to meet me and show his notes and he didn’t go near the internet. I pointed out that I have a specific website (I’m thinking he got someone else to write the paper for him or something) but I could always submit his paper to Academic Honesty Committee and let them decide. He emails back a minute later willing to just let it go “what’s done is done.” That amused me to no end.

Another student’s paper was pretty crappy, C level paper and I was ready to give him that C but then on the second to last page, he left one of the sentences he copied from the internet highlighted. Yes, he was that stupid. So, of course, I googled it too. He didn’t deny the plagiarism but has been begging me for a D, in numerous emails – have some dignity and admit responsibility there, kid.

Grimm S1E21 )

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 11:00 pm
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I graded Global finals all morning – knowing that Alexis is coming to help me with grading (well, by averaging essay numbers using a computer formula) – I actually got them done by the afternoon. So very productive day.

And I was looking forward to Glee in the evening, although the episode was a bit dragging. I did love Blaine’s hair.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 11:00 pm
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I had a whole day to grade and I still managed only one paper. I did do all the final exams on the train and on the ferry on the way to the city and during an intermission at the opera.

I wanted to see “Traviata” since I read about it last year. I’ve never seen in the first place but the new staging sounded interesting too. So in August I got tickets. I didn’t even know who was singing in it and was pleasantly surprised that Hvorostovsky was in it. I took Mama with me. We got to the city in plenty of time to pick up the tickets and then go to Columbus Circle to grab some dinner. It was actually a very nice time out.

The opera itself was really well done. I loved the first act. The death scenes did went on a little long at the end but that is usual in an opera!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 11:00 pm
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First time ever I didn’t finish on time for folder review. I just got one class done. The director was very accommodating but I know I can’t let this happen again. Basically, I went in for the Folder Review of only one section and the other section is rescheduled for Thursday. I don’t know why I do this to myself – I just put off grading sometimes. At least I’m pretty certain of the grades.

Academic honesty committee came to the decision about those midterms. The girl was fine and the two guys who copied her got a F for the class. It would have been easier for them to just not argue with me in the first place and admit what they have done.

Finally, I got the label from Macy’s! Yay. About time. I can send those rings back! Next step, actually getting my money back for them.

Glee )
bearshorty: (Default)
I’m working through the Sandman at a faster pace than MarkReads, and I’m getting into it again. It is a little funny – I read the first four volumes before so a lot of it is like reading a brand new story – but as I read it is coming back to me. I think I can appreciate it more now, especially since I’ve read much more Gaiman.

Thursday is a grading day so I pretty much just did that.

“Community” was a little weird today with an Abed episode.


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