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I had Folder Review this morning, which went well, I think. It was my first time working with L, one of the directors. We chatted before and we are always friendly, and I did ask for her feedback for my past assignment question. But I never really worked with her. She was perfectly nice and helpful. I've been teaching this class for a while so I'm pretty confident about grading criteria and I don't get stressed with this (which is part supervisor assessment of you), but I still want someone who will respect my experience while giving helpful suggestions. It's nice to have that done.

It was first part of midterm today, so I got to just sit there and do my work. Next week should be less stressful work wise overall.

Before we can do the closing for the apartment there is a last batch of paperwork I had to take care of. It seems neverending. The mortgage people just seem so disorganized and non coordinated. Instead of being upfront with a list of all I need, they send me requests in batches, without explaining clearly some parts. When we got out commitment for the mortgage at the end of August, I directly asked the broker if we needed to sign it to email it back to him. He said no, just to submit to the board. We did. Well, today it turns out he did need a signed copy too. So extra hassle for me to print it, find the email with Bear's signature, scan it, etc. They also don't coordinate with attorneys enough. The attorneys have our board approval but no I had to forward that too. They sent other paperwork to the attorneys. It's like that recognition agreement run around. No wonder this process is taking so long.

Anyway, my Dad took a half day from work so we could go and get me hazard insurance for the apartment. That took about an hour but went smoothly. At least that office was competent. I will be so glad once we actually get to closing.

Book Meme
13. The fictional character you want to believe you resemble and the fictional character you actually resemble

I want to resemble Elizabeth Bennett but I'm kind of a combination of Eleanor Dashwood, Anne Elliot and Hermione Granger.
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I went to work yesterday. The students were discussing the first reading - or more accurately, I was asking them questions trying to get them to read closely and think about details of the text, of who the authors are and who is the intended audience of the reading. The second class has more kids willing to talk, which makes a better discussion.

As my second class was over and I checked my phone, I had a message from the lawyer - the Recognition Agreement finally, finally came in. I texted Bear to go pick it up and we handed the rest of the required paperwork to the broker yesterday so she could turn in our to the management. Next step, the board. At least there is progress. This whole buying an apartment process is so slow.

Bear has Mondays off (he left for his work session today and will be gone until Saturday evening - this is his schedule during most weeks of the semester), so he was with Tanya all day. He no longer really dreads sole responsibility, which is great. They had a good time and she ate well but Bear couldn't get her to nap. So I put her to bed at 7:30pm and she was asleep in seconds. She did wake up an hour later and was crying for me, so I went to bed (she sleeps with me) and was reading my Kindle, thinking I would wait for her to fall asleep deeply again and sneak out to the living room and work on my story or spend some time with Bear. But I was super tired and just ended up falling asleep. I guess I needed it.

Today Bear left at 10:30, so I had time this morning to read some more and to clean the bathroom. We went to the playground together and I was glad Bear was with us since the elevator wasn't working today. We live on the 5th floor (with it technically the 6th, since there is a ground floor too). It's actually easier to go up the stairs, since Tanya can climb up herself while I carry the stroller but I have to carry her on the way down too, landing by landing, since I don't want her to fall.

In the afternoon, Tanya and I went to the post office (I got Star Trek stamps!), bank and the fruit and vegetable store for some grapes and peppers. And more playground. There was a little dog in the post office, on the line right in front of us, so Tanya was entertained. It is not a child to stay still, so it's good to have good distractions to prevent her from running around all over the place.

I finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik today. I started out being a little uncertain about this book, because the main character was a little too naive, and I was one step ahead at least 5 times, but then she was a 17 year old girl, so I gave her some slack. But as the book progressed, from one action to the next, as the stakes got higher and higher, and body count grew, and the plot thickened, I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next. By the end I was really enjoying the story. I liked the romance, mostly because it was understated and not really the plot of the book. The main male character is very Snape like at times, which is good in my book. And I like the growth of the protagonist. And the secondary characters. No one was truly evil, there were circumstances to everything, and complexity to characters. I liked the emphasis on the horrors of war, although it got a little too much. So the book grew on me and I'm glad I read it.
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Thursday was my first day of classes. Since I'm staying at my parents' this week, my Dad drove me to work on his way to work. We had to leave early so I was there by 7am. The offices don't usually open until 8:30am but there are comfortable couches on the second floor by the offices, so I sat there, ate my bagel with cream cheese, drank my tea, and read my book. Grace, one of the secretaries, actually came in early by 8am, so she opened all the offices and, most importantly the printer/copier room. And since it was the first day of class for me, there was a lot of printing (which is one of the reasons Grace came early - there is usually lots of teachers who need to print a lot. I was first and got it all done fast.)

After printing and photocopying everything I needed - syllabi, my semester class breakdown schedule, first day writing sample, reading guide, reading homework for Monday - I also printed two potential essays to choose from to teach as the second essay in a few weeks. Our textbook is being updated next year and the department wants us to pilot a few readings to see how they work and what readings to keep in the old textbook, since after essay 2 the students need to connect two different essays.

The theme of the first half of the semester (first 3 readings) is activism. I'm starting with the intro to Kristof and WuDunn's book Half the Sky about how essential it is to help women all over the world and how that help will elevate not just women but the countries and whole of society. There are a lot of heartbreaking and inspiring stories of women in this book. I love that book; I read it in 2009, and I've taught this intro before. I usually try to introduce the concept of "agency" to my students with this essay. And for the 3rd essay I'm teaching Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker article "Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted". . He raises concerns with the long term impact of social media "weak tie" activism and questions the ability of this kind of activism to actually change policy. It's a great article to argue with and will lead to second half of the semester about the impact of social media and tech on individuals and the impact of the new communication style.

What I needed is the bridge between these two essay. I was torn between the intro from We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author, and
"The Matter of Black Lives" by Jelani Cobb, New Yorker from March 14, 2016. So I printed both essays and read them before my classes started at 10:20. And "The Matter of Black Lives" is the clear winner for my sequence. It concerns itself with US activism, social media activism and its impact, and about marginalized groups, which would fit really well with both Kristof and WuDunn and with Gladwell and will build with each essay assignment. And for me it was an educational article since it tries to organize how the movement grew and to give it context. I felt hesitant about teaching this before since I feel like I've only known enough about Black Lives Matter from the periphery and the internet but not the essential things about it. But this essay is good for that and I like the idea of giving my 18 years olds some background too so they can follow the news. I felt like I learned a lot just by reading it. And I'm still thinking about the questions it raised. The feminist essay is good too, but it feels a little too basic to me (I did study women and gender history at a graduate level at one of the best universities in the world for women and gender, so this is probably just my bias, and my students would find good ideas there, but I also want to challenge them a little more).

It felt really good to read though, to read deeply, to take notes while reading, like I was clearing cobwebs from my brain. After being home all summer with my toddler, my brain certainly needed it. I'm read many fiction books but I really needed to get back into work mode.

Classes themselves went well. It was 20 minutes of intro, going over the syllabus pretty much, and then the students had to write a writing sample for me for an hour. So easy day. During the first class I actually worked on my fanfic story for RS Games. I printed what I had so far from Google docs and wrote about Remus and Sirius in longhand. I wrote two full big pages and I felt so incredibly productive. It's due in two weeks so I really need to just finish it. I have the bones, I just need to write it. But it was flowing well, I know where I want it to go and the characters are almost writing themselves, so it's just the matter of finding the time. And during my second class I read the writing samples from the first class. I found two students who had very weak samples, so I brought those over to the director as they should be moved to a section with extra reading help.

My classes were done at 1:20 but I had to wait until 5 for my Dad to pick me up. I tried career center as they were having a workshop at 3 but as I thought it was full. So I decided to go get my school ID updated. It was very, very hot and the school buses between different campuses were very full so it was a bit of the wait. The faculty HR office where they do IDs is a the furthest possible location, so it took a while to get there for about 2 minutes of "here sit for a pic, here is your id". But I got it done and most of the rest of the writing samples so I don't have to think about it anymore.

Yesterday, was very very hot again, but Tanya and I went to the playground in the morning anyway. She being very 2 lately with a lot of not listening and complaining. I think it is a little worse because I went to work. She's definitely having a little more trouble falling asleep. She is staying with my parents tonight while I go back to Brooklyn for Yeva's birthday party at the Russian restaurant. Bear is good with bedtime routine but not actual going to sleep part - she usually wants me or my Mom for that. So we figured she should stay here and my parents would drive her back in the morning. I'm not looking forward to leaving her overnight - I only done it a few times before, and only once when we were not on vacation in Florida with her just a couple of rooms away - I know I'm going to be worried and will miss her a lot. And I'm just not looking forward to this party. But I have to go since there was a whole drama about it.

We still didn't get the Recognition Agreement. I keep calling the mortgage broker, he keeps blaming the bank's attorneys - it is really frustrating at this point. Fingers crossed that this would finally resolve itself next week and we can submit it all to the board.
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It's Labor Day weekend(3 day weekend) and I'm spending about 7 hours at home before traveling again. Tanya and I went to my parents this past week and just got back at 9am. And around 4pm, Bear, Tanya and I will travel to his parents' house in Long Island to stay until Monday. And then Tuesday morning, Tanya and I will go back to my parents for one more week. I just have to keep careful track of packing and what goes where.

My first day of teaching is this coming Thursday, September 8. But this past Thursday, September 1, I had my teacher orientation. It was just an hour and a half to catch up on new policies and anything new, and to get back into the teaching mindset. So I feel school has already started (and my first ever day of school was Sept 1, 1986 when I went to 1st grade - the first year Soviet school started taking students at 6 years old. I can't believe it was 30 years ago). On the morning of Sept 1, I worked on my syllabi, figured out the schedule (on Thanksgiving week, due to schedule changes I will have to teach Monday and Tuesday, but I didn't want my students to write a draft in a day, so I shifted things around), picked my reading sequences, picked my first day writing sample for the students to do, and set up the class internet site. And since then I re-read the first reading and my brain is now trying to come up with a new assignment question. It's quite nice to reorient my brain back to teaching - I do love my job very much and I'm looking forward to meeting my students on Thursday. I also like teaching Basic Composition and Fall semester in general. It's a little less work too, with no mandatory comments of drafts 1 and 4 and with first two papers only 4 pages long.

The other thing I've been dealing with is the board application for the co-op apartment we are buying. The mortgage commitment finally came through last week, after a very long time, because the bank was taking its sweet time to investigate the building. When that came through I just had to get bank checks and the last documents regarding the bank commitment for the board application (the rest of the board application was ready a month ago). But then the mortgage broker and the attorney were giving me the run-around about the Recognition Agreement, one of the documents. The attorney' secretary told me after a day that they never give that original document until the board interview and to apply without it, even though I told her it was on the list of required doc. She was all, "well, you are buying for the first time, and they do this a lot, and they know better." I got together with my apartment broker, got her all the rest of the documents and checks, and the broker turned it in. Of course, on Tuesday, we got an email that we did need that document in addition to a few others relating to an estate sale (although the attorney's office told me it was not an estate sale since the daughter who is selling is a joint owner). And I needed to pay more fees since apparently the board application was outdated and there had to be more fees (apparently it was updated May 2015, and yet we got the application from their website just this summer). Anyway, this time mortgage broker did speak to the bank's attorneys, and next Tuesday we should finally get the Recognition Agreement. And I got more bank checks and all the other documents they asked for from the attorney. I just was to get this done. It's annoying. It's just taking forever.

In more fun things, I finished "Stranger Things", which I really enjoyed. I'm glad there will be a second season. And I'm really liking "Ancillary Justice" - I'm about half way through. Grimm announced that the next season is the last - 13 episodes, and I'm ok with that. I think the show ran its course but it's good that they know it's the last season and can wrap everything up. I just want Monroe and Rosalee super happy at the end.
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30 Days of Me Meme

Day 20: Your feelings about education and school

Education and school has always been important. My whole family went to college so it wasn't even a question that I would attend. I always loved school and looked forward to it. A lot of my self image is tied to being good a school and a straight A student. And ever since I was little I was teaching my dolls too and making them learn poetry I had to memorize. School is fun. That's why I'm still in the classroom, teaching.

30 Days of Fanfic Meme

20 – Do you ever get bunnies from other people's stories or art in the same fandom?

Not really but stories in general are influencing and inspiring, just in seeing what works as a story. And certain fandom conventions carry though.

Life

Dark Matter . Last night I checked out the pilot episode since it was added to Netflix. I enjoyed it and I'm curious enough to watch more. I did think it was trying a little to hard to be Firefly with the precocious young girl with mind powers and a tough chick and Jayne like character (only less adorable).

Tomek book 8 I finished the 8th Tomek book. After 25 years this series did not lose its magic. It was certainly amusing, even the awkwardly placed exposition. The first half of the book is all about Smuga and Nowicki' escape and the second part was Tomek's expedition to try to meet the escapees. With geography and ethnography lessons in between. Both parts were enjoyable. The "twist" at the end was very obvious, especially since I could see there was only so much book left, but it left me giddy with anticipation so it was worth it. And this books made me take out my atlas again so I could trace their South American route through Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Brazil where the story takes place. Now I want to read the final Book 9 of the series and at some point reread the first seven books again.

Today was a teaching day. I started Dante's Purgatory on the train. This week will be busy with grading so I took advantage of the commute to read and relax a bit. We started discussing memes in class today. The students know "Internet meme" but they can't really define it - to them it's a funny Internet picture. After I got home, Bear was just leaving for the playground with Tanya (Monday is his day off so he watches Tanya). I had an hour and half to myself so I could cook in peace. I made a cauliflower casserole with cheese and also turkey meatballs (both baked and boiled).
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30 Days of Me Meme

Day 16: What is in your purse or wallet

I have one of those over the shoulder small bags instead of a purse and it really just fits wallet, glasses, keys, lipstick and occasionally phone. And a bunch of receipts find their way there.

My wallet has my IDs, credit cards, grocery store cards, health insurance card, a Metrocard (a subway card), bank cards, photos of Tanya and a few of my friends, cash and coins. Also a few business cards of my doctor, dentist, eye doctor and Tanya's doctor. A library card. I think that's it.

30 Days of Fanfic Meme

16 – Summaries – Do you like them or hate them? How do you come up with them, if you use them?

Summaries are very necessary. A lot of people will either read or pass on your story with summary alone. I neither like nor hate them, they are just a necessity. I usually try to summarize my story briefly - main characters, situation etc. I also found that if I say in the summary that my story is AU I get more hits on AO3. I did use song lyrics once - but I think that got misleading.

Life

We are at my parents' for half a week this week and yesterday afternoon we were at the playground here. We noticed a bunch of big teenage boys hanging out in one corner of one of the play areas for a while, where some stairs and slides are. Later on, when Tanya was running around in that area, climbing the stairs, I saw that they either spray painted or kind of burned the phrase "Thug Life" in big letters on two of the stairs. This made me roll my eyes so hard. Yes, privileged white teenage boys who live in a really safe area of firmly middle-class private houses on Staten Island, who most likely never knew either hunger or true hardship in their entire life, you are so "thug" that you had to paint a very clean and nice playground to show how tough you really are. Please.

We are a month into a semester and I already have that one student who feels she is above it all. And I knew what kind of student she was going to be from the very first day - I was just hoping for the best. Our students are allowed only four absences a semester by department policy (it's really six, but the students don't know that). She is already absent 3 times. This is the girl who wanted me to really pay attention to her writing sample because she couldn't understand why she was placed in a lower class of Basic Composition. After all she was a transfer student who took 100 and 101 already in a different school (really not the same as our classes) and she was a history major who knew how to write papers. This is the girl who thought Paper 2 was due this week and not next week and obviously didn't do a lot of revision despite both syllabus and assignment question being very clear on due dates and all the work she must still do.

And she so far turned in a short rough draft 1, a short final paper 1 (automatic fail), and a short rough draft 2. She emailed me yesterday with the late homework of one paragraph revision and told me that she might (might) stop by my office hours Thursday to really see why she failed her first paper. Other than shortness, it was pretty crappy too with terrible topic sentences that mentioned the author despite my comments on the rough draft that she shouldn't mention the author in the topic sentence but really express her paragraph idea. I would love for her to actually show up to my office hours. Maybe she will stop feeling so special and start actually doing the work. I also sent back her paragraph, where she only revised the first sentence, with comments on pretty much every sentence and quote telling her just how much she actually needs to revise. Her second quote had little to do with her first quote or her connection. Sigh. I really hope she learns to prioritize.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday, May 11th, 2015 09:00 pm
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My semester is officially done!

Well, I still have to turn in the electronic gradebook, which I usually do waiting for students to pick up their folders, but the computer in the office wasn't working. But I can do it tomorrow. The main thing is the grades are officially in, the folders are out of my hands and it's done.

It's a bit anticlimactic as usual but it's nice not to grade anymore. This year the end of the semester was unusually not that stressful. I was done with final exams on Saturday, with Paper 5 on Sunday and had 3 late Paper 4 to do this morning on the train. But there was not the usual last minute rush to finish everything. Maybe it's because I'm only working part-time this semester and don't have two history classes to finish too or maybe I just got more organized, whatever it is, it was nice not to be frantic.

I started with 44 students in 2 classes. 4 withdrew for personal reasons. Everyone else passed, including all my jocks. I had 5 As, which is pretty typical, 3 Cs (the lowest passing grade) and the normal variation in between. It's really amazing that every semester the grade spread for the classes is pretty much the same. This holds for other professors too in the writing program, for the most part.

After I met with one of the directors for Folder Review and all the grades were in, I passed by D's office, who is one of the big directors for the program. She actually called me to chat because it turns out she was tutoring two of my baseball jocks. She didn't tell me before because she didn't want the knowledge to affect anything. I'm glad she didn't, not because I would have done anything differently but because it would just be stressful to know that one of the directors is seeing all my assignments and all my comments etc. I'm pretty confident in my work and grading fairness and in my comments. I've been doing this for 10 years; I mastered that grading criteria but still, knowing a boss is looking carefully is not relaxing. She was really happy to hear that the boys passed (with a C+ and a C) and we talked about them for a bit. She said they enjoyed my class. I know Mike, one of the jocks, would be so happy with his passing C. So it's all great.

The best part is when students come to pick up their folders and get the final grade. Not all come but many do and the relief on the faces of many that they passed is fantastic. And some are ecstatic to get a C+ or a B. One girl, who was so serious all semester, just lit up with a big smile when she heard she got B+. My A student was thrilled. Most were relieved they passed the final, which is not difficult but you have to pass it to pass the class. One girl gave me chocolates as a thank you. (which I'm allowed to take since the semester is over and the grades are in)

It's so gratifying to see how far they've come during the semester. There is a big progress. Most got Cs or failing grades on the first paper. I wish I could keep teaching it but they rarely hire full time positions; part-time is cheaper for them.

One of my former students stopped by who needs a recommendation for Medical school. It was nice to chat wit him.
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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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Today at work, we discussed the new reading - Ethan Watters "The Mega-Marketing of Depression in Japan". As part of the homework, the students had to make up a vocabulary list of words they don't know and post it in a Drop Box on the class website. The most common words not known to 18-19 year olds college students in this essay - inkling, vulnerable and bureaucracy. Sigh. I was also worried that this essay was too similar to Michael Moss' "The Extraordinary Science of Junk Food," which we read first and which the students will have to connect to Watters. And yet one girl (a jock, though) was all surface level with it: "This essay is about depression. How are we supposed to connect it to junk food?" Let's see: both are about corporations and marketing which changes culture; in both science is used to advance the corporations and to justify the marketing in the first place. But I guess that requires too much thinking.

I need go grade Paper 1s but Tanya seems to want my attention more during the days. I will try to do 8 to 10 papers tomorrow somehow. Tonight, she had a problem going to sleep - maybe it were the pears she ate this afternoon, or maybe she just needed to cuddle - so that was an extra hour I wanted to use to grade. Ah, well. I'm not really stressing about it too much.

I started to read Thomas Hardy's "Far from the Madding Crowd" again - I was at 20% on my Kindle a few years ago. I really wanted to read the whole thing but I think I got distracted. So I started again now and reread those pages, which seemed to go faster. But now I paused again in almost the same place because Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" came through on the library hold and I need to read that before the hold ends. But I definitely want to get back to Hardy. I enjoyed "The Mayor of Casterbridge" a lot and I really like his characters and the general flow of his prose.

I've read a lot of Asimov's short stories and his autobiographies when I was a teenager. He deserves the acclamation as one of the best sci-fi writers; I adore his stories. And I read a few of his books. But I never read the Foundation series and this year I thought it was time. It is an easy read; I'm already a 3rd way through. But it suffers from being written in 1950s. It is technologically silly in many ways because Internet exists now. And most glaringly, there are absolutely no women. I haven't met one yet. 50,000 people - scientists - move to this planet, "with their wives and children" - no girl scientists ever exist, apparently. I know this book is a product of its time and I have the same problem with the collection of classic sci-fi short stories, but it gets a bit much sometimes.
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I officially went back to work last Thursday. It is part-time, 2 classes, two days a week. I'm definitely over the commute - I want to find something closer. I have to get up at 5:30 to pump before I even start getting ready to leave - I don't need much to actually leave the house: get dressed, brush teeth and hair, put tea in thermos and go. I get a bagel with cream cheese on the way and I do very limited make-up. Still 5:30 is a bit early. And two plus hours one way gets tedious despite the fact that I can do work on the train. Especially when I get up several times a night to change a diaper and feed a baby, waking up early is not fun. And the next day after I went back to work, Tanya started waking up at night a little more again - she was getting better at sleep but I guess she wants to check that I'm still there.

She also refused the bottle and would only eat from a spoon. I think we solved that problem a bit today - I replaced the bottle nipple with a larger size. Hopefully, tomorrow she will eat better. She fills up at night so she can afford to go on strike during the day. My Mom is already here, staying overnight. She is staying until Thursday actually because of the expected snowstorm. Joy.

New thing this weekend - Bear and I started feeding Tanya veggies from a jar. Menu yesterday and today was organic squash. Tanya loves it. She is an adventurous one, just ate it up and didn't spit it out or anything. So now she gets solids twice a day. Cereal of some kind: oatmeal, rice, buckwheat or quinoa at 11am and veggie or fruit at 3pm. We'll see how it goes.

Now for more fun stuff: TV and books.

TV (I watched this week)

1. Supernatural S10E10: I actually watched this week's episode live for a change. I like the whole dark Dean. I can't stand Metatron and I was hoping Dean would kill him but no such luck. He is just so swarmy. Rowena is a fun manipulator and I'm curious where that storyline is going. I like the season so far.

2. Glee S6E4 It's funny that the reaction to this episode is so different depending on the audience and if you get the joke. The comments on mainstream reviews on EW or TVline hate the episode because they think the writers are coming up with ridiculous plots. The fandom on Tumblr was just loving it. I was giggling like a silly person throughout the episode trying to keep it down so as not to wake up the baby. I thought it was hysterical. There was a lot of meta and I don't think we are supposed to take this show seriously at all anyway. Definitely an episode of joy. Who can't love a bear cub? And there was a nice Klaine scene - and that shrine of Sue was just awesome. Love the season so far.

3. Grimm S4E10 This season is on the roll too. Nice and suspenseful episode where everyone got to be a badass and kill some evil dudes. While I knew the Monroe would survive, there was still tension and really nice scenes. Both Rosalee and Juliette got to be in the power walk and neither sat on the sidelines. I like Juliette's storyline so far of turning into a Hexenbeast - at least she is not pregnant - but I hope she doesn't hide it from Nick. And isn't the solution here is too simple - Nick can get rid of her powers like he did with Adeline. I am glad that Wu was finally brought in - I like it when characters on the show actually communicate with each other and work together.

Books

Well, one book really. I barely have time to read as it is. I'm reading Tim Wu's The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires . One of the chapters is included in our textbook for the writing program and I loved reading it. I'm going to teach it later in the semester. But the chapter intrigued me enough that I wanted to read the whole book. I went online, and in a few minutes borrowed the book on my Kindle from the library. Technology is awesome.

Tim Wu is a proponent of the net neutrality and of the open communication system (decentralized, cooperative) as opposed to the closed system (monopoly, centralized control of information). In this book he traces the communication technologies of the twentieth century and sees a Cycle that starts with an open system which closes on monopolies and then get opened again. While he acknowledges that monopolies that strive for public good can bring in some good in research, etc, he believes that ultimately closed systems stifle research and progress because monopolies refuse to develop, and actually repress, new technologies that can potentially topple them (like radio did with FM radio and the television). He also traces the role of government because information empires at its height have to be supported by the state. For him, information should never be in a closed system because while corporations are about profit, what's at stake is free speech. He traces the telephone, radio, movie, television, cable and internet from their inventions to present day. It is certainly an interesting read. He is writing for general audience and his explanations of how each technology works is very clear and awesome. Part history book, part theory, part advocacy for net neutrality it is enjoyable.
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This morning I left the house to go to work orientation for the new semester. It was only a half day and I wasn't teaching or anything - but it was the first time leaving the house for work in a long time. I haven't ridden the subway since June. It was really nice. I didn't sleep to well, which happens when I know I have to wake with alarm clock. I had to get up at 6:30 - sneak out of my room so as not wake Tanya, and pump. Then she woke up at 6:50, I fed her and started getting ready. Bear made me a sandwich and my parents came over at 7 too. My Mom was babysitting and my Dad worked from my place. I left at 7:30 and was back at 1:30 and it was really nice.

I met up with Rosemary who drove us to University. It was fun to discuss new readings and other pedagogical methods with other teachers and to use my brain. I was happy to come home too to see Tanya but 'mommy guilt' is not for me - I think its silly. I think it is really healthy to have a professional focus. She didn't even miss me that much :) . She did refuse the bottle after eating her quinoa cereal so my Mom had to give her milk by spoon. I guess she wasn't hungry enough since she had the bottle fine before. When I go to work next week, I will have to leave before she wakes up so that makes me a bit nervous, but I think we'll adjust, especially since it is either going to be my Mom or Bear taking care of her.

She is sleeping right now - she is having a nice long stretch since 8:15 (before that she does her pre-sleep half an hour nap and needs a bit of reassurance). I think she knows Mama wanted to watch "Glee" and to just sleep nicely! I'm really enjoying this season of "Glee" - it's hitting the right notes, so to speak. And I'm ok with the angst since I know there will be a happy ending. Can't wait to see it. And there is great fic coming out of all the angst.
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The weather is freezing so I haven't been outside since Monday. Usually I take Tanya for her long nap in the pram in the afternoons, getting in my own walk, but since it is dangerously cold for babies, she's been napping on me for the most part, at home. But the good side to this was that I can settle with her in the living room, put my TV headphone ears on and watch TV.

So, I caught up on Season 1 of 'Agents of Shield'. A little back story - I started watching this show from the beginning and I saw 12 episodes in regular broadcast. The first few episodes weren't that great but it did pick up. Just not enough for me to continue watching after the hiatus. I heard that it got really good, especially after the tie-in with Captain America 2 movie and I got spoiled for one twist. My Dad kept watching it and really liking it. But I didn't have too much time for movies and catching up.

Then last month I saw that the show was added to Netflix. And Bear got a copy of Captain America 2 in the library. After I watched the movie I was inspired to watch the show again from episode 13 on. And I pretty much binged on it. It got really, really good after that episode because it became not stop serialization with excellent twists and great character development and wonderful storytelling.

I'm actually very happy I'm just catching up since I could just watch the whole thing, without waiting. I'll just wait for Season 2 to get to Netflix next year. I definitely prefer watching the whole season at my pace.

We don't have cable since it's so expensive and I watch most things online anyway. Bear used to have a computer program to watch basic broadcast channels on his computer. It broke apparently. So I just said that we should get a TV antenna. I watch 'Glee' live (or at least I will attempt it because Tanya is not great at going to sleep and needs me often until about 10pm). So Bear picked one up on sale for less than $20 and we have such excellent picture quality now. I don't know why getting an antenna didn't occur to me before.

I start work on the 22nd, so I've been reading articles in the new book edition - there are many I haven't read before. I need to figure out 6 articles I want to teach and the themes for the essay topics I will give. So far I read an article on technology in education, which was really a criticism of our unevolving hierarchical education system; an article on the link between the Ivi League colleges like Harvard and Princeton to Wall Street (Wall Street recruits all majors heavily there so over 30% go work for Wall Street); and an article on the food industry designing food that is pretty bad for our health that sells well, not really caring about ethics. I really love the textbook for the writing classes. I did skip a promising article on plagiarism and creativity because it would be a bit too postmodern for the students and there are way too many cultural references for 18 year olds to get.
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So by Thursday night I'm so tired from my week that I don't want to do much other than lounge on the couch and catch up on Internet. And I'm writing this on Friday morning. Having a cold on top of this didn't help.

I left the house early to meet up with Rosemary to commute together. I don't really need to be at work that early this semester for Writing classes, since they are in the afternoon but I needed to do some copying and I had to grade history papers, which I do better not in the house.

It is easy work day - the students turned in first Rough Draft so they were doing peer review while I could just do my own grading. This weekend would be full of commenting on Rough Drafts, so that's a fair trade.

My Dad picked me up from work, as he wants to do once a week on Thursday so he could both spend time with me and go visit his parents too. So that was super easy. And then Bear made salad for dinner (we had quinoa and salmon burgers left over) and cleaned up everything because of my cold. And then we watched "Community" which had Bears!

So nice day overall, but the week accumulates and I'm glad I get to grade from home on Friday.
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I had to spend over an hour this evening doing an online harassment training seminar since everyone at work at University has to do one. It was mostly tedious but I learned all the policies like you can't even have anything on your phone that another person might find offensive. Or if you show vacation photos at work, that's fine, as long as there isn't a provocative bathing suit picture. Mostly it was about how complaints are handled and how to refer anything to Human Resources department because University really, really doesn't want to be liable. At least most hypothetical situations were done in graphic novel form. I do recognize that this web seminar was useful to be aware of the policies I just wish I didn't have to spend over an hour doing it.

In other news, my nose started running today so I have to deal with a delightful cold. And today I had to bundle up. At least the temperatures might even get above freezing soon. I snowed a little last night, so the sidewalks were a bit icy. Usually I walk up a giant hill for 10 minutes when I go to Local College but today I was on time to take a bus two stops that takes me up the hill (it only comes every 30 minutes, and it never seemed worth it to wait for it before).

I taught classes on consequences of Reformation and on gender in Ancient Rome, although that second class was more on how to do Citations. I'm definitely back into the semester mode with lots of grading to do already. But it is good to be back at work.
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I had to get up at 6am so Papa could drive me to work and I didn't sleep too well. So by the end of the day I was just exhausted. We stopped by Dunken Donuts for some breakfast and I went to the building I worked on last semester to do copying and also to say hello to many coworkers. Since I was too early for the offices to open I sat on the couch on the second floor, first reading with breakfast and then grading Writing Samples from one of my classes. I managed to get a lot done and came up with few extra handouts like "List of Forbidden Words" (like 'always', 'you' 'throughout time" "things" - students love to use those in essays).

Then after 11 I made my way to the Student Center to grab some lunch and catch the bus to my new building. It was so very cold, I'm thankful for my fuzzy warm furry coat.

In class, we talked about active reading and various class expectations. Next week the proper work starts with the discussion of the first reading. I really like the class with half of my "Basic Comp" students. I fell I joke a little more there.

Papa picked me up at 5 and drove me back to my apartment - finally. Bear came home from his parents' too (their house is closer to his work, and during snow days he needs to shovel all the snow on their property). But I was too tired for much after dinner. Leftovers are wonderful. I went to sleep early.
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Since the morning class was cancelled today I could sleep in a little more and not have an alarm clock, which was nice. But because all my notes for the first day of class where in my apartment while I was in my parents' house, I spent the morning prepping for my class more than I planned. I do love my Dad's Kindle Fire. I downloaded the PDF file and read the Thomas Lacquer and Joan Scott articles on the tablet, while making notes.

Papa and I left at 11:30 so he could drive me to campus. He later picked me up at 2:30. Surprisingly, given the amount of snow yesterday and yesterday's driving conditions, the roads were actually pretty clear today, so it was pretty easy. The campus did feel a little deserted as many faculty and staff couldn't come in today for various reasons and school started later than usual. But I did go to the department and printed the rosters I needed and parts of the articles I decided to use in class today and made all the photocopies.

And the class itself was a lot of fun. It is "Sex, Power and Identity in Europe before 1800" and we talked about the differences between sex and gender, the master narrative and why studying gender is important to understanding power etc. The only problem was the projector was not working at all - I will need to send in a request to IT. And I stopped the library after to arrange the time for the research class time for both my classes. So despite the weirdness of the first day of Local College today, it reminded me just how fun I actually have at my job a lot of the time. I will have to leave teaching soon, because the money is really crap and I can't do two part-time jobs, I need something full time, but I will miss it very much. I'm determined to enjoy this semester as much as I can. I know I will get burned out with the grading pretty soon and will complain about that but teaching itself is pretty great.

In the afternoon I watched "Supernatural" and "Agents of SHIELD" on my Dad's Kindle Fire. I'm staying one more night at my parents' house because my Dad wants to drive me to work tomorrow since it is still a bit slippery out there and he didn't want to make the drive to Brooklyn today. It does feel a little weird being here now - like a vacation. Mostly because they renovated so much since I moved out.
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Today is a really cold day all across the US but at least in New York it wasn't as bad as many other places. We had 7F (-14C) in the morning and maybe 15F (-9C) in the afternoon. Not that I had to go outside but we did get ice on the windows inside the bedroom. And Bear had to go to work and I was trying to get him to dress warmer - but he didn't want to sweat in the car.

I still have my two weeks before the semester starts on January 21 so I get to be home. I did work a lot on my syllabi today, mostly figuring out the reading breakdowns and types of lectures for history classes. I'm teaching 4 classes next semester:

a. Two writing classes (Expository Writing) at University where out of 44 students I will have, 17 were my Basic Comp students from last semester (which is a great number to carry over. All students at this Uni have to pass Expos and Basic Comp is for those who need extra prep to get to Expos, based on text scores.) I don't know which six articles I'd be assigning yet - I need to see if there will be a new edition of the textbook which has new essays. But I know I'm going to start with Beth Loffreda's "Selections from Losing Matthew Shepherd: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of Anti-Gay Murder." My students were mostly born in 1995, so most of them don't know it. I think they should.

b. Two history classes at Local College: "Global History: 1500-present" and "Sex, Power and Identity in Europe before 1800". I've taught both before two years ago, so I have most prep done, but at least this time I can do the gender class properly - two times a week, not a three hour seminar. Today I worked on syllabi for the gender class mostly (I'm adding a new book and changing it up a little), but I also worked a bit on the readings for Global. Another professor who is teaching a section of his course likes a textbook focused on colonialism and imperialism so I'm going to use that too. I needed to figure out what chapters from it I would assign.

On a non-working time today, I spent time after breakfast watching a new episode of "Teen Wolf." That show is such a silly crack. And nice views of shirtless boys. I did like the dreams and creepiness of the episode. Also I've been reading my mystery book more. It is coming along nicely. And January 11th for get together is back on, since Yeva changed her mind and can make it. So Friday and Saturday I will actually be social.
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This week was my first week of school. So I'm back at my regular job(s). It was still a partial week since only Local College started this week and for University there was just a teaching orientation. But still, I'm back in teacher mode, organizing and lecturing and reorienting my brain back.

I'm teaching "History of England" and "Global History to 1600" this semester at Local College. I'm really liking my classrooms - they so far are leading to a good dynamic. Space of the classroom is so important sometimes. "History of England" just has 9 students, which is sort of amazing. And the students are asking questions, which is great. And it is my favorite ever subject and my specialty and this week I was reminded why I love it so much. The first lecture was on the Norman Conquest and it was just pure joy for me. I was having so much fun with it. I showed them "William the Conqueror" song on YouTube from historyteachers set to "SexyBack" and the fun Battle of Hastings powerpoint.

I've taught a version of this class before - I'm ending in 1688 this time, so the last third of the class will be new. But right now, I'm in my time period and just look forward to it. On Wednesday, I just had such a good teaching day in general that it made me sad to think that I have to leave it behind at some point soon. But I need a much better paying job.

In my Global class, I have a student who is catching my geeky references - I alluded to "Doctor Who" in the intro class with "now we move from time to space" phrase and showed Gilgamesh segment from Star Trek: TNG on Wed, and he mentioned it. I need to add some more as I go.

On Thursday, as I was taking the train to University these two older gentlemen visiting from Brazil needed some traveling help and then where talking to me a little, practicing their England. They were very exuberant and so, so friendly to everyone. Normally no one talks to others on the commute in New York, that is just not done so this is unusual. But it was pretty fun to chat with them. This one guy, Paolo, had a bit of idealistic picture of America, especially comparing it to Brazil and the level of poverty there. He's been in US before and he loves it here.

I'm all set for the start of class next week at University - I worked on those syllabi today. Tomorrow I'm taking the train up to Bear's parents for the Labor Day weekend. His Mom is so keen on us celebrating our anniversary with going out despite all our protests that it is really unnecessary. Our wedding anniversary was Monday (1 year) and our started dating anniversary will be next week (15 years), but we already celebrated Monday our way. I came home to a colorful bouquet of flowers and a card. Then we drove to the bakery that did our cake and got a few slices of the chocolate cake we had at our wedding. And then Bear spent an hour and half almost burning down the apartment cooking me a delicious dinner of eggplant Parmesan. There were candles and "Princess Bride" (it's our movie). So really no need for more. But I think his Mom just wants to do something for us so we are just going to let her.

Other than that in the last couple of weeks the only other interesting things was spending a day with Yeva and going to Uzbek restaurant, spending some time with my parents last week in their house and going on double date with Yeva and her latest boyfriend to Banya and then sushi.

I finished "Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde - which was good although I really, really didn't like the main character. But the language was so lovely. I also read "The Maze Runner" by James Dashner. The writing in that book is terrible as writing. I didn't believe the character's emotions and there is literately one girl in the whole book. The plot was moving pretty fast and I wanted to keep reading to see what was going to happen but I was guessing it before the characters got there. Then when I was done, I looked up what the other two trilogy books were about and I really, really don't want to read those. But I gave it a go. Now I'm just going to have time to read for school - I have Caesar, Christopher Columbus and my English biographies to do. First up, the biography of Empress Matilda who fought for her right to be Queen in the 12th century.
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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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I want this cold weather to stop following me already. First, Grand Canyon and Arizona were unnaturally cold with 18F highs and now New York had a big cold week. I love warmth and heat and I’m not used to this cold anymore. When I was a kid in Belarus, winters were like this and I was used to it and I had a fur coat and warm clothes. I have a fur coat now, and I’m actually not cold in body but my face and hands and my throat hate this weather. I got a cold again on Wednesday night. This time my throat was yelling at me. Getting sick twice in one month, and all because of the weather, is not my favorite thing. At least I had a flu shot in October, so I don’t worry about that too much.

On Wednesday, the classes started in Local College. I’m teaching two sections of “Global History to 1600” and my classes are full of jocks. Like a third of each class is jocks. That should be … interesting. They either slack or they do well, depending on how their coach is pushing them. We’ll see how it’ll go but the dynamic of this semester will certainly be different.

On Wednesday night, Bear and I had dinner with Yeva at our favorite Japanese restaurant. All-you-can-eat sushi is a really great invention on a cold night, right after a work out. Yeva, as usual, had a boy dilemma which is always interesting to listen too. Neither Bear nor I have very much dating experience since we met when we were eighteen, so it is fascinating to listen to Yeva’s dating life. She wants so badly to settle down and I really hope this new guy works out for her. At least she definitely got over her June breakup.

Since Rosemary and I teach on different days now at University, we can’t carpool this semester, which I will miss. On Friday, was my first go at getting there by public transportation. I have to take a subway, train and bus and it does take a long time. But at least I can work on a train and I will make myself grade papers there. I’m still figuring out the best time to leave the house and I think I can actually wake up at 6:30, not 6am.

Today, I figured out my first paper assignment for the writing classes – the question will sound more complex since I have fancy words in there like anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism – but they should be challenged anyway. I also went to see my AP history kid whom I tutor. The subway to his house wasn’t running at the time so I had to get Bear to drive me – good thing there is a car.

Bear and I were thinking of going to a Broadway show since there is a promotion until February 7th of get one, get another free – but most shows are too much even then. He was wondering about “Mary Poppins” and even half price, it would be $77 each. I’d rather see more movies and go out to dinner. And coincidentally, my friend Olia just moved to New York from Miami and we are meeting for dinner on Tuesday – so I’d rather do that.

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