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I can never sleep properly before the first day of school. I'm not nervous about work or meeting new students. I think my brain is just trying to make sure that I'm not late and that I prepared all my first day handouts.

My parents came over last evening and stayed overnight since I had to leave by 6:30 and my Mom is watching Tanya. Bear is away until Saturday afternoon. She roped my Dad into working from my place (his work allows occasional work from home days) so he could help out too when he wasn't working. They are also leaving for a vacation in Aruba tomorrow for 10 days, so both were looking forward to spending time with their granddaughter.

I made sure to say goodbye to Tanya before I left because that is a better option that just disappearing on her. She's been waking up between 6 and 7 lately anyway, so I didn't really wake her up. No crying - pretty successful exit.

My commute is pretty long. I need to take a subway and a train. Since I only have to travel twice a week and I can get a lot of work done on the way, I don't really mind it too much, especially in the morning. I got the luxury of reading my book for a few hours. The beginning of the semester, before the grading starts in earnest is pretty nice. Most of my planning handouts are ready and I can read for pleasure guilt free.

I stopped by the corner store to get my bagel with cream cheese, which I eat later when I get on the train and caught the subway. I saw a very gorgeous sunrise this morning. The subway travels above ground for the while and the window across from me was bright pink with the sun disk all dimmed and slightly yellow. Very lovely.

I was reading On the Move , the autobiography by Oliver Sacks. Since his death on Sunday I just wanted to get started on it. I just finished reading Roadside Picnic by Strugatsky brothers, so the timing was right. (I'm still working on the Hamilton biography but that book is long, so I will break it with other books. And I usually read two or three books at a time). I'm almost 100 pages into the book - I read the first three chapters. I find it interesting that he doesn't really discuss his childhood. He starts as a teenager getting his first motorcycle. As motorcycle enthusiast, it is a major part of his identity, so I understand his choice. It is just unusual not to have a general run through of dates/parents/siblings/childhood memories. Some details make their way through the narrative as he goes along but mostly, the early chapters are his late teens/20s - college/medical school/travels. Some of his other books (I read 2 so far - Mind's Eye and An Anthropologist on Mars ) have autobiographical details, especially Mind's Eye which deals with his eye cancer and perception. But those focus more on his later life. This autobiography is definitely surprising in details about his youth like motorcycles or weight training. And there are his travel letters and accounts which are an entertaining read. I'm definitely enjoying the book so far.

I also listened to my iPod when not reading a book. I haven't recharged it in a month I think - there was just no time with looking after Tanya all the time. We listen to the radio at home or to CDs. (On Tuesday, Tanya rummaged through Bear's CDs, found a CD of sci-fi music from movies and TV and dragged it to the living room. So I put it on. She didn't care for early tracks like Twilight Zone but when I put in Halloween, she just started dancing to the scary horror movie music. It was hysterical). Last week, in anticipation of listening to my music again, I made a Favorite Broadway playlist - taking two tracks from all the musicals I have. I wanted to just have one favorite track per musical but that was too hard. Even two was hard but I stuck through it. My 'flaw' in this playlist was adding songs from Buffy Musical - now I just want to rewatch the whole episode (I picked Rest in Peace and Standing), which will lead to watching more Buffy episodes. Other musicals included Aida, Anything Goes, Avenue Q, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables, Cabaret, Hedwig, If/Then, Into the Woods, Once, Rent, Buffy and Rocky Horror. I should probably add Dr. Horrible.

I got some time in the morning before my classes started, since there was no office hour today. I had to print and photocopy syllabi, reading guides, rosters, writing samples and a lot of paperwork. I also put together the first assignment question. We are starting with Jane Goodall's reading again "In the Forest of Gombe" but I am asking them to see the drawbacks to some of her concepts. New approach. Maybe I can teach some critical thinking!

First class is really easy. I talk about the syllabus and class requirements and then the students write a writing sample. During that time I reread the first essay and prepped my discussion question for next week during the first section and read the writing samples from the first section in my second one. (I teach two sections of Basic Composition). My second section filled up - so it has good number of students. I don't have to worry about cancellation, which is a relief.

After my classes, I stopped by the department and said hello to more colleagues I haven't seen all summer and then started making my way home.

It was very hot today and the subway station tried to boil us all alive, I think. It was so hot with no air conditioner. It was a relief when a train pulled up.

Good first day overall. Now I'm home alone with Tanya for 48 hours before Bear comes back. Then we will travel to Long Island for Labor Day weekend. So still a bit of vacation left before the semester really starts.

On exciting front, Tanya is starting to be braver in walking. Lately she's been holding on to just one hand, but yesterday she did a few steps by herself if I let go her hand several times and even started walking by herself from a standing position. Just a few steps but very exciting.

And in TMI, I really hope my body gets the message soon that I weaned and haven't nursed her for over a week now. My boobs are very uncomfortable. No one tells you these things. It's like postpartum. It sucks but no one really mentions the details beforehand.

And in exciting news my friend Janna is pregnant with her second baby. The first one is turning 2 in a month. I probably won't have the time but I found the birth record cross stitch kit anyway to try to make it for the baby. I'm trying to be optimistic about having the time to cross stitch again. Last time I make anything was Tanya's birth record, just before she was born.

Fandom Meme

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 05:53 pm
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A week or so ago this meme was going around and it got me thinking about my fandom loves. I figure that instead of posting this and responding individually, I will just write up my answers for 6 fandoms in one post. I picked these six fandoms because I'm much more deeply entrenched in them due to fanfic - I either read a lot (and bookmarked lots if anyone wants recs) or I wrote fic myself. So while I love many other things like Supernatural or Doctor Who or Dresden Files, or other Star Trek or Dollhouse or Agents of SHIELD or Battlestar Galactica or Farscape etc, fanfic in these 6 fandoms in particular lets me to think about the show/book and understand did a bit deeper. If anyone wants to ask me about other show/TV, I will do this meme in comments but here are my main ones.

These fandoms are, in order of my involvement: Harry Potter, Star Trek: Voyager, Buffy, Torchwood, Highlander: TV Series, and Glee.

Here are the questions.

* How I entered that fandom
* Favorite character
* Least favorite character
* OTP(s)
* Pairing that everyone likes but I don’t get
* Favorite thing about the fandom
* The thing I most dislike about the fandom
* If there is something I would change from said game/show/movie/etc., what would it be?

Harry Potter )

Star Trek: Voyager )

Buffy )

Torchwood )

Highlander: TV Series )

Glee )
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Saturday is a pretty mild day for me. Bear is at work for half a day and then he goes to work out so I’m usually just home by myself until 4pm. But I can sleep in and be on the computer or catch up on “Angel” (I really don’t want to rewatch Season 4 but I’m making myself suffer) or “Buffy” (I love Season 7). I did try out “Alphas” pilot, since it is now of Netflix and my Dad likes that show. It was alright. I didn’t mind it but I don’t think I’ll watch the whole show – I get enough of investigative type shows, even with the sci-fi twist.

I did go for a walk and I stopped by a few furniture stores to look at their couches and sofa beds. We really need to get on that.

In the evening, after a trip to Home Depot, I cooked dinner. This time I tried oven-fried chicken (skinless and boneless chicken breast baked in after being coated in a flour/paprika misture) and roast potatoes with herb de provence. And a salad. Chicken turned out really well. The roast potatoes were good too, just took longer than I thought they would. They just needed higher temperature than the chicken.

After dinner, late in the evening we went to visit my Grandparents for a little bit. They live about 15 minutes away by car, so that’s very near. We also picked up two more boxes of old books from their closet storage. I sorted through them. We decided to take one big box of book to Bear’s grandmother’s nursing home tomorrow.

Among many penguin books, I also found my old AP English study book – how I loved that book with its list of books to read at the end.
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When summer comes, I seem to lose the drive to blog. I write down notes every day in my Word document and tell myself that I will catch up on the more full entries and I usually do. But this June I just don’t feel up to it. And before I knew it, four weeks have passed. And I decided to change the format, at least for June, and to combine my notes into a few themed posts. Less reading list spam too that way.

Part 1: TV

In the summer, and in particular this summer, I only have three TV shows to watch – “True Blood” “SYTYCD” and “Burn Notice.” And well, “Buffy” and “Angel” rewatch along with MarkWatches project. Watching it slowly and reading all the comments and reviews are making me appreciate and feel it more too. (And I also catch up on YouTube clips of Chrolli and Chryed storylines for my soap fix, although there haven’t been my screen time on that). This past year, I seem to be really backing off TV, although it is still my favorite story telling medium. I guess not many shows hold my attention anymore.

I also finished catching up to “Legend of Korra” online.

I can’t wait until the Olympics, though – gymnastics and swimming make great summer TV. “True Blood” and “Burn Notice” I watch with my Dad – which occasionally gets a little uncomfortable in watching the former but that show is such crack.

So here are my thoughts so far.

True Blood S5E1-3 )

SYTYCD Up to Choosing Top20 )

Burn Notice S6E1-3 )

Legend of Korra Season 1 )

Dawson’s Creek is now on Netflix Instant Queue. I’m ridiculously excited about it. I might not even rewatch it but it holds a special place in my heart. I did rewatch the finale and the pilot and a few scenes along the way. Oh, the drama. And the 90s songs, which makes it very nostalgic.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Saturday, April 7th, 2012 12:30 am
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Tonight is the start of Passover and tomorrow we are gathering for our annual Passover Seder Fest with my friends where we cook all day and then have a gigantic feast and where I actually get to go through the whole Haggadah and not the fast version my parents go for. When we did our First Seder with my parents tonight – they just mostly wanted to eat as usual so I have to do a fast forward reading and ceremonies.

In the morning I went shopping for tomorrow (I send the list of ingredients each of us has to bring) and I stopped by my bank too. So all the chores are done. I just need to pack an overnight bag since I’m going to Bear’s afterward for his family’s Easter celebrations.

While the Seder itself was a bit too fast at home, as it usually is, the food was fabulous. There was salad, egg and fish and there were potato pancakes. And mazza, of course. And I make a great haroset (a mixture of apple, pear, walnuts, a little grape juice – tomorrow I will make the actual version with cinnamon and ginger. Mama doesn’t like cinnamon, so I have to be tame). There was also Passover cake!

I didn’t watch “Grimm” tonight because I was in the middle of Buffy’s “Restless” episode and I didn’t want to stop. So I’ll catch up on Grimm later.

I did finally finish my History Big Bang Highlander story, which I will post tomorrow. I’m just relieved I got it done on time. It is not my best story ever or anything, but I got it done, so yay.
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Crap! I need a new computer. It is only 3 years old and I love my Vaio – but my screen is acting up. I need to actively hold it for it to work and it would be cheaper to get a new laptop than to fix it. I hate this. I really, really do. But I can’t work on it one handed.

So I’m very frustrated and cranky today, especially as I got a Sony run around and they raised my hopes up before dashing them again. There is a small possibility that they can replace the LCD screen but I’m not sure. There was a known problem with my model involving an LCD screen and there is a warranty extension of five years to fix that. The chat person online told me my problem would be covered. But when I went to the Sony store in NJ they sent me too, the technician was not sure since that problem involves a horizontal line on the screen and not the screen freezing a whiting out. At least I know for sure it is LCD screen not the video card since the technician connect me to external monitor to check it. This whole day has been running around and trying to figure it out.

And I don’t really want to spend $600 to buy a new laptop when my hard drive works just fine. And I am really emotionally attached to my computer too, as silly as it sounds. Just a frustrating day.

I watched “Angel” and “Buffy” in the evening to make myself feel better.
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Folder review was today – My director actually complimented to me several times that I was doing a great job (and she heard before that I was good) - which is always great to hear. I didn’t actually finish grading all of the papers, so I’m not always that great – I just presented those I had concern about. I did finish all the midterms for Writing class last night and I did get up at 6 to grade papers. But I will need to grade more over Spring Break together with history midterms for two classes and one response paper. Grading doesn’t end. On better news: Spring Break – no teaching next week. Yay. And I’m happy Folder Review is done. Those matter in future hiring decisions.

We went to Costco afterward and I got bottles of wine for Passover – that is coming up in a month already. How are we a third way into March already?

I found the best way to sit and fold and stuff all the invitations. I put episodes of “Angel” and “Buffy” to watch on the laptop and then just folded. We actually have three extra invites, which was unexpected. Oh, the “Angel” episode was the one about the stalker guy whose eye and hands could separate from his body and it is one of the creepiest. It is even creepier the second time.

Grimm S1E14 )
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I spent the day in pajamas. I still managed to do some reading but I felt that being sick justified me catching up to all the “Buffy” episodes for the coming week of Mark Watches. I’m still coughing and my voice is a bit low but at least it stopped hurting too much.

I also caught up to “Who Do You Think You Are?” which premiered yesterday. I just ran it in the background though; the episode wasn’t that exciting. (Martin Sheen one)

And in the evening I watched “Sabah: A Love Story” on Netflix about a 40 year old Muslim woman from a very traditional family living in Toronto who just takes care of her mother mostly and who falls in love with a Canadian man. I really liked the movie, especially since it was centered on interesting women characters and focused on women’s choices.

I also finally finished Equiano book. I did like it very much, it just got a little too long. I can’t believe I never heard of it before – it is one of the most famous slave narratives and it really makes the reader see Atlantic world on the 1700s too. My students and I will discuss it on Wednesday. I started reading “Things Fall Apart” by Achebe, which I’m enjoying a lot. Another book I should have read a long time ago. I do love it when teaching a class lets me read new books.

And speaking of book, here is a link to an excellent article by Margaret Atwood about “The Handmaid’s Tale.” She writes about her experiences in writing it and her thought about it. What stood out to me is that she deliberately didn’t include any cruelty or event that did not happen before. That way people cannot just dismiss the book as something that can never happen.

It is so cold in Europe -30C in Minsk, my Aunt said. It hasn’t been this cold in maybe 55 years. I can’t even imagine.
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I woke up and there was snow everywhere! It really feels like winter now. Which meant I didn’t really go anywhere but I did get to play on the Wii Fit for a my 30 minutes to move around a little.

It was Sveta’s birthday today so I called her on my phone card and we got to talk for some time. She is in school doing an MBA and raising a daughter and I’m busy too. And she is seven hours ahead of me – so it is not always easy to find time to talk, even with Skype. We need to keep trying though since she is my oldest friend in the world and we grew up together. (Our mothers were pregnant together with us – that is how long I’ve known her!)

I finishing Buffy Season 2 today – watching it again – for the third time, all in order, and slower, and reading Mark Watches reviews, really gives this rewatch new layers. I’m noting all the problematic Xander portrayal and gender issues I didn’t pay close attention to other times.

I’m getting nervous about my three hour seminar class. It is a brand new format for me. It is a challenge and it keeps me on my toes but I’m feeling the nervousness. It has been building for the last couple of days. I know I just have to get used to it and I will figure it out as we will go along, but I’m just nervous and I can’t help it. A lot will depend on students too.
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I’m such not a “girl” sometimes. I was looking at wedding planning books on Amazon since I do need to get one when we actually decide on the date and I love lists – and there are so many things in those books that I just don’t care about – like flowers or bridesmaid’s dresses or color schemes. It all seems so silly. We want a small wedding at a Russian restaurant and I don’t care if it is ‘perfect.’ It is just a party, really. I mean, I’m looking forward to it but there is no need for being elaborate or stress over tiny details. Or spend so much money. Plus a lot of stuff in those wedding planners are not for a Russian wedding since the catering and venue and music are all together in a Russian restaurant and there is no gift registrar. (In Russian weddings, there is just an envelope with money, as in many other cultures). Still, there are useful lists in those books that I might need or something at some point. It just seems so silly to spend a lot of time planning one evening.

Since the semester is not starting until the 17th, I’m pretty much a home, reading and writing a little. I did call the bookstore to update my textbook order. But not much is going on. I did watch some more “Buffy.”
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Last official day of classes.

I wrote Exam 3 for law class and graded some writing and some history. I can’t wait for this week to be over.

I did watched “Glee” as my break and some Buffy too.
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And so starts the week of hell. All the grades for all four classes are due this Friday around noon. And I give all my final exams. So that means finishing El Cid papers and Global quiz (which I finished this morning, so yay), all Law class research papers (did six so far, one more to do today out of 22 total) for Wednesday, all Paper 5 for my writing class and left over Paper 4 (40 papers – 7 I still want to do today) for Friday, and final exams for all classes for Friday. Joy and rapture.

My only distraction will be Mark Watched Buffy posts, since he started today, and maybe some hour of TV to relax my brain a bit.

But my week will be full of grading gems like these, courtesy of History of Law students:

“Childbirth had a decreasing immortality rate”

“Often when exploring different cultures and societies, differences are drawn and certain aspects are rarely alike. The same idea goes for time periods since they are always changing and are always quite different once compared to each other.”

Other things to made me like the world again: here is a pictures of Leo (Bear’s sister’s little 5 month old kitty whom I actually petted because he was so adorable. (I don’t like to touch animals, so this is really weird for me to do

Leo )
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I managed some history papers today. It is soul sucking activity and I can’t help but put lots of comments on those papers.

“Witch” episode was fun to rewatch in broader context.

A nice walk helped. I can’t wait for Friday afternoon when I turn all the grades in.
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I need to exercise more.

I watched the pilot of “Buffy” again, since Mark Watches is starting on that on Monday. I’ve been meaning to rewatch Season 1 and it fills me with joy. Even as first season is pretty crappy, there are a lot of 90s gems and it was so my high school.
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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

And Happy Birthday, Uncle Tolya!

This morning I actually watched some of the Thanksgiving Day Parade with breakfast and then I just had it on in the background. It took them awhile to actually get to the balloons. I’ve been to the parade only once in 1995 and it was a lot of fun. Cold too, like today. I also had the Dog Show in the background. It is all very holiday like.

Bear put the turkey in the oven per his mother’s instructions and we got the appetizers ready and then we went to visit his Grandma in the afternoon. Bear’s sister came with us too. The whole place was pretty festive. We put some opera music on for her (she can’t really operate the cd player herself). We listened to “Carmen” mostly. John and Lori came to visit Grandma after a bit too (John is Bear’s brother and Lori is John’s girlfriend). So all her grandchildren and their significant others were hanging out with her.

By the time we all got back to the house it was time for appetizers and dinner. Lori brought a cat toy and we were all entertained by Katie jumping after feathers on a stick. And there were a lot of appetizers – I got full just from that. And then full Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, some baked vegetables including yams and I think there might have been more. And later there was desert – with apple pie and my cranberry bread and tea.

After all that food it felt great to take a walk. I was all ready for the sudden winter – I even brought my winter hat (last February I bought the official hat of the US Olympic team). I did love the crispy air and the smell of fire smoke.

Once we got home we watched Buffy Thanksgiving episode since Thanksgiving is a ‘ritual sacrifice...with pie.’

I’m thankful for having lots of food, and not being hungry in general; I’m really thankful for my family and friends and for getting paid to teach. And I’m really thankful that my father is healthy again.
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Happy Birthday, America! I’m wearing my USA Olympic t-shirt for the day. I kind of feel I had the Independence Day celebrations yesterday, what with the fireworks. And it is really hot to go outside today, anyway.

I’m reading a National Geographic article called “The Evolutionary Road.” The reporter is walking the area in Ethiopia where one can see fossils across the millennia and the article describes many archaeological finds. It is definitely more information than I knew before and it is fun to get that kind of broad picture. I do like recorded history better, but it is nice to at least be aware of a much broader earlier times.

In the afternoon, I was cross stitching while listening to classical music. I’m working on the backstitch of the postcards’ project. I think in a few more weekends I’d be completely done. Today’s color was brown.

I forgot to mention the short films in front of “Toy Story 3”. It was the most creative and awesome short that Pixar ever did. The sound effects and the theme of people not being that much different from each other worked very well – We might be like Day and Night on the surface, but we have a lot in common. It was very interesting and amusing.

I’m watching a bit of Season 4 of “Buffy” again because of Cultural Catch Up Project – I rewatched Faith episodes and I liked them a lot more on the rewatch.
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YouTube actually had the Doctor Who S5E4 “Time of Angels” episode that I was able to watch.

Doctor Who S5E4 )

“Dune” Since everyone raves about this book, I’m giving it more time but I’m still rolling my eyes. First the gender stuff was bothering me, but the second chapter is really just ‘Hi, I’m Evil and this will be my very Evil Plan. At least I’m not telling it to my enemies for no reason. But I will commit mistakes on Evil Overlord List just by not wanting to kill my enemy outright but by wanting him to suffer and know that I’m Evil. Cue Evil Laugh. And since I’m Evil, I must look the part and be very fat too and ugly. See and admire how Evil I am. And my first name is Vladimir just to emphasize by Evilness” I hope there will be some character complexity. The prose doesn’t suck, it actually flows quite well, I just don’t know if I can keep reading if I roll my eyes all the time.

More crossstitch today. I need to try to do this more on weekdays too, but I never seem to find the time.

Netflix instant play of Buffy have “Previously on” before each episode that are not on DVDs.


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