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Happy Hanukkah!

This year my parents decided to give me Hanukkah gifts (we don’t do them every year). I got a new hat and new boots to match my winter coat. I love the boots. Hat it nice but I do love my Olympic hat, even if doesn’t quite match my coat.

I watched “Dr Horrible: Act One” today while using the elliptical machine – I’m trying all kinds of things out now that we made it face the bed and computer – I managed 15 minutes. I think musicals will be a good fit since I won’t have to pay attention to dialogue (the speakers don’t carry as much and the machine is a little loud). Still, I am more motivated to get on it.

Caught up to “Burn Notice” finally. Burn Notice )

I have no desire whatsoever to catch up to the last four episodes of “Dexter.” I might be done with it – this season was not the best to say the least.
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“Good Omens” came up on my library holding list so I downloaded it to my Kindle today. Just from reading the introduction I know I will love it so so much. I can’t stop laughing.

Papa finally has his scan appointment since the medicine finally came in. That means that he had to go on the iodine free diet right before Hanukkah and past New Year so he will miss some holiday cakes. Maybe I can make him a desert for the holiday to the diet’s specification.

Community )

Dexter S6E8 )
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I didn’t have to work today so I was procrastinating on grading. I did catch up to some TV like a “Burn Notice” episode and “Dexter”.

Dexter S6E7 )
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As usual on Fridays, I graded in morning from 7 to 9:30 and then had office hours. My students are actually showing up today because their last paper really counts. So it feels very productive. I’m very behind on their Paper 4 grading – I just can’t bring myself to do it except on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Well, I have exactly two weeks to finish everything.

I need to catch up on my TV – I made a list – at least 9 hours of TV I still didn’t watch like “Burn Notice”, “Dexter” and “Leverage” and the list keeps growing. Doesn’t help that “Burn Notice” still didn’t put some things online when I actually had time to watch. I did watch the third “Once Upon a Time” episode – it is still hit and miss for me but I do like it when it is on in front of me.
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Instant box mashed potatoes freak me out. Yahoo had an article judging the best one. Because it is so hard to boil potatoes and then mash them, putting some milk and butter in? I know they are just dehydrated but I find them creepy.

I just have one work day this week – tomorrow. And I’m only doing a lecture on Black Death and then a peer review workshop. So a pretty easy day, I think. I was looking up clips on YouTube I would like to show like the flagellant scene from “The Seventh Seal” and the Monty Python clip. And, of course, I will show the Black Death video set to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” because it is a great way to remember the information.

Once Upon a Time )

Dexter S6E6 )

I really love that when the time approaches for students to turn in their paper (or a rough draft in this case) because someone’s computer always “crashes” and “everything gets lost.” Right. Because I believe that so much.
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Today’s class was all peer review and individual conferences – some students were surprised to learn that you can have a god argument when you use one author to show how the second one is wrong. But it is nice to see students have an epiphany about their writing whether the structure of the whole paper or when they say outloud what their topic sentences should be or what makes a connection. This is the part of the semester when it is starting to click.

Norman Conquest lecture is tomorrow – I’m pretty much combing old lectures and can do this in my sleep but I’m excited. I get to do history in my own subject and it has been awhile since I got to teach medieval England. Great and very clever clip of Bayeux Tapestry animated.

I read Part 2 of “El Cid” in the evening. I definitely need a new book for next semester, having to read it twice in a year is a bit too much. I’ll probably read more than the students would bother for a discussion class tomorrow.

Dexter S6E5 )
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I graded 10 papers this morning, I’m almost done with these Gilgamesh papers. I also gave my Global students their third quiz on the readings and did a lecture on Islam. But in me Law class today was time for something completely different. The class was about ius commune – medieval procedure that was combination of civil and canon law. So I gave them the terminology and a handout describing the steps and then we had a mock trial, reenacting a medieval case.

HIMYM was pretty funny today with lots of parent’s appearances and Wayne Brady and really unexpected and great Weird Al cameo.

Dexter S6E4 )
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I read a lot of Brundage and Stein and refreshed my memory about medieval universities. It has been a while since I looked at the details or taught it or read about it. It took me half a day to put this lecture together and read everything for it and make a Powerpoint but I’m so looking forward to it tomorrow.

We went to Brooklyn this morning to visit my grandmother at the rehab place. She still has a week or two there probably. But it is good to see she is doing better.

When I got out of the car to go get my grandfather, since we were picking him up before visiting my grandmother, the wind just plucked my green scarf and made it fly across the road. The wind was insane. I was obviously careful not to just run into the street with car for it. But one of the cars did pause to let me pass and get it. I’m glad I didn’t lose it – I love that scarf. Mama on the other hand, really doesn’t like it. Maybe the universe is agreeing with her :)

Dexter S6E3 )
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Netflix came to its senses. Still don’t know if I’m going to keep the DVD part of it.

I finally finished Frederik Pohl’s “Gateway.” I did like it. The book is older than me but it didn’t really feel like it nor was it dated. Now only Hardy left to read, at least before I pick up my library book. I did read the intro to “Origin of the Species” during “House” commercials – I like the free classics I can get on my Kindle.

Dexter S6E2 )

Baseball playoffs annoy me when they preempt my TV and I have to guess when the show will start. And I can’t watch “House” online until next week. So that meant sitting in front of TV with it on mute.

House S8E2 )

My head finally cleared around 1 or so but I pretty much took it easy today. Next three days will be hectic.
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I woke up this morning with a runny nose and my eyes felt like I was getting sick. I think it is just a slight cold. I took Tylenol just in case and drank lots of tea with lemon and honey. I was supposed to go to Brooklyn to visit my grandmother but I figured I shouldn’t track germs to a rehab/nursing home full of elderly. I worked on my lecture for tomorrow instead. Fingers crossed that I don’t get too sick – I really can’t afford downtime during a full semester.

Work wise I also started grading Exam 1 for law class. They do well in an essay based on monograph and lectures but significantly less so on an essay focused on the primary sources. But they seemed to have learned something. As I’m thinking about my lectures and reading for the second half of the semester, I really think this class is coming together. I added an extra primary source reading for them today on Corpus Iuris Civilis. I’m really glad I’m getting to teach this class.

On the fun front, RS Games started yesterday. Yay. This was the first organized contest I participated in and it was fun writing for it and being part of a team. Go Team Remus! And now there is a month of stories and art. I can’t vote on anything but I get to read something every day. The art has been really good so far, I don’t usually respond to art as much as stories but for the last two days I found liking the art more. I even saved it to my computer.

Mama’s friend Galina might visit from Miami again later this month and I’m actually looking forward to it. The woman is so full of energy and she just brings good vibes with her.

I watched “Walk on Water,” an Israeli movie Netflix recommended to me. I really liked it. It is a story of a Mossad agent that has to befriend the grandchildren of the Nazi war criminal to track him down while coping with a personal tragedy. I just found all the characters interesting and there is beautiful scenery of Turkey, Israel and Berlin. This movies asks many questions and does it intelligently. All characters feel very well formed.

Speaking of Netlix. SNL did a great spoof . (One thing, though, NBC, how come your commercials don’t have buffering problems, just your clips? I probably need to install the new Firefox 5. It plays fine in Explorer.)

Dexter S6E1 )
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I’m getting ready for folder review tomorrow, meeting my goal of 16 papers. I actually spaced it out well today, although I did need breaks when my brain refused to work. Today's soundtrack to grading was "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." That actually works well with all the instrumental pieces.

I also made brownies since I’m going on my little vacation after I’m done with my classes tomorrow and I always make brownies to bring with me. I do love it when the house smells like chocolate.

Today was a warm rainy day, and that was actually perfect for all the grading.

Dexter S5E12 )
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The book club selection for December is “The Winter Queen” by Boris Akunin. I read 50 pages already today. This book is certainly much better than I remembered. I read it a long time ago and while it was good enough that Papa gave an English version to Bear for a Christmas present, I remember I was not much impressed with it. I think this is because I really liked a later book in the series, which I read first. That book was in a slightly different style. This book is the first in the series so a lot of a set up of a character. I also didn’t like the ending of this too much originally. But as I’m older now so I think that actually makes a difference. And I’m really enjoying the humor in this book – a lot is in the language, so I’m not sure how that actually translates; but it is funny. My favorite humor bit so far is that Russian roulette being called American roulette by the characters with one character lamenting of why didn’t the Russians think of it first. The book is just more interesting on the second go even as I sort of remember who the main villain is. In Russian this book is called "Azazel" but I guess that is too sophisticated for American audiences.

Today was really cold and when I went for a walk in the evening I wore my fur winter coat for the first time. It is the warmest coat ever! And the fuzziest! In May/June, when my parents and I were in Minsk, Mama dragged me to the store and insisted that I buy a new fur coat. They are much cheaper there and my old winter coat was about ten years old and a bit shabby. I hate clothes shopping and spending money on clothes and shoes (give me books and travel any day) but my mother can be very insistent. So I bought one for myself. I found the one I liked. Mama did like a different one but it was my money so I insisted too. I am glad she made me buy it since it is so warm.

On my walk, I saw some Christmas lights already put up – very pretty. I need to try to take pictures of them to see how my new camera handles it. There was also a Christmas Nativity Play outside the local neighboring church. They used a real baby too and it was very cold. The baby was heavily swaddled.

Dexter S5E11 )
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Thanksgiving weekend is over; back to real life. It is nice to be somewhere else for a while. At least I have a vacation in a few weeks to look forward to

Bear drove me home after breakfast. We did some Russian vocabulary in the car. He stayed for lunch and then we watched “Expendables.” That was such cheese! Stallone definitely make a very 80s action movie with cartoon level of violence. And boy, the movie was bloody. Of course, I could see the plot a mile away – but that was not the point of the movie. At least general’s daughter was not really a love interest even if she was the motivation. This was such a boy movie. So it was an enjoyable movie to watch and mock.

I finished proofing my neighbor Laura’s paper by dinner time and went to return it. I ended up staying for tea and then for dinner. The Kid played some clarinet for me; she is just learning this for school.

Dexter S5E10 )
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Happy Birthday, Katya!

I got the ingredients for my cranberry/orange muffin bread that I always make for Thanksgiving to bring to Bear’s house. I’m making it on Wednesday.

I always use TV to avoid doing things I should. Even when I know I’m being self-destructive. Instead of grading stuff I need I watched more old Grey’s Anatomy episodes. Well, tomorrow will be a full grading day again. I really don’t want to fall into depression again and it feels like I’m sinking into it. I really need to pull myself together next week – even with the holidays.

Dexter S5E9 )
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We went to Brooklyn for most of the day, first to visit my grandparents and then for Papa’s doctor’s appointment. Most of the afternoon, Mama and I did some errands and some grocery shopping. I got some nice veal liver. Mmm. Can’t wait to fry some up on egg and flour. We also got lunch and walked along the boardwalk while waiting for my father to finish some tests. Mama was actually pleasant most of the day, and then had to ruin it by lecturing me on my relationship with Bear. I get where she is coming from and she is my mother so of course she will butt in, but it really doesn’t help my general state of mind. End of venting.

I saw the trailer for Julie Taymor’s “Tempest” again and it looks so wonderful; I realized that it has been awhile since I read the play and I barely remember it or even most of the characters. So I decided to reread it. I have The Norton Shakespeare so first I even read the intro to the play by Stephen Greenblatt. (When I got this book in college I didn’t know who Greenblatt was, and then I read lots of his stuff in grad school). It was a good intro, it really gave good introduction to all the characters and the play itself. Usually when I read Shakespeare (and it has been awhile) I read an act a day, so today here are some thoughts on Act 1:

Tempest Act 1 )

Dexter S5E8 )

Brothers and Sisters S5E8 )

After Dexter there was a teaser about “Borgias,” a new Showtime series coming next year. I’m intrigued. The preview is next weekend (and because of music awards no “Brothers and Sisters” so I will try to see it). I didn’t like “Tudors” so I’m not sure about Showtime handling another historical drama but I will give it an episode. That family was insane so the possibilities for this series are fabulous. We’ll see. I’ll certainly check it out.
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Highlander S6 E11-13 )

Grading today so TV served the needed break in grading. I need to return Paper 3 to the students on Tuesday. Bah.

I also took a break to order Papa some birthday presents from Amazon. I wish I had the money to get him a Kindle, since I know he really wants one. He had a really hard year with his mother's open-heart surgery and his own thyroid cancer and all (although technically, he had it for years and just didn't know it) and I wish I could get him something to really make him happy. I hope he will like the stuff I got him.

Dexter S5E7 )

Brothers and Sisters S5E7 )
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Dexter S5E4 )

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

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

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

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

Brothers and Sisters S5E5 )

Fun link of the day : Halloween costumes that should not exist. I was laughing so hard at these that tears came out.
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Dexter S5E3 )

I had my phone interview for the adjunct position to Local College today. I think it went pretty well. Since I actually have teaching experience I always feel pretty comfortable talking about teaching. So far so good. I think I might be teaching two sections of global history. Fingers crossed.

Bear came over today and we had a nice lazy relaxing day. We went to Home Goods to get some housewarming presents to his friends in the evening and I got ingredients for dinner – made angel hair pasta with fried eggplant and tomato sauce (plus there were cutlets in the fridge). Bear helped with the pasta and drying the dishes. I didn’t realize we were out of breadcrumbs – I like to dip the eggplant slices in egg and then breadcrumbs and fry that. But since we were out, I just used oil and pepper and Italian seasoning and a little flour. It came out well, but I still wish we had breadcrumbs. I also actually used milk to make special hot chocolate someone gave us as a gift. It wasn’t that bad, but not too special.

We also watched the first half of 1981 “Clash of the Titans.” I was very cheesy but in a good way. We’ll finish it another time.

Brothers and Sisters S5E4 )
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I woke up at 6 something again, my body is being weird. I don’t normally function on six hours of sleep but that seems to be the norm in the last week. So I did some editing since I was awake.

Today I went to see Neil Gaiman at the New Yorker Festival. I was looking forward to this for a while and I was really happy that it lived up to all my expectation. Really worth the $30. He is an awesome speaker. This was a conversational interview with Dana Goodyear, a staff writer of the New Yorker, and he was funny and intelligent as always. This is the first time I’ve seen him live, but I read his blog and I have seen interviews on line. It was, of course, much better live especially since I got there early enough to get a seat in the first row on the right side and it wasn’t a large theater. So he was right there. I was feeling off and depressed this week and the ninety minutes this afternoon listening to one of my favorite authors talk really just made me feel happy again.

Some highlights:

• Coraline - he talked about his daughter Holly being the inspiration behind this book because of the kind of stories Holly wanted to hear as a child and the kind of story she made up herself at age four. He also talked about the adventure of trying to actually publish this horror story for children and how it came about – a daughter of the publisher pretended not to be afraid of the story to hear the ending and the publisher thought it was safe for children. (Coraline was the first book of his that I actually read, right before reading the first Sandman volume.)

• Doctor Who – what he could reveal about his upcoming episode: some old character is wearing a new face and the episode will reference at least one classic episode. He also told a wonderful story to illustrate the importance of the show to British cultural consciousness and why for him a chance to write for the show was so awesome. One of his early memories as a three year old was taking a milk carton with a straw at lunch at pre-school-type place and pretending it was a Dalek. He made “exterminate” sounds.

• American Gods – there are enough stories for another book. Which will happen eventually. He talked more about how the book was the reflection of his immigrant experience of coming to America.

• Sandman – they showed some covers and explained the collaborative work with the artist; many covers have Gaiman’s altered image on them. He really looks like Morpheus in person too. (I only read four out of eleven Sandman volumes, I need to save up and buy more.)

• We were also the audience for the American premiere of “Statuesque,” a Neil Gaiman directed short silent eight minute film starring Bill Nighy and Amanda Palmer that only aired in England. It was cute.

The Q&A section was great too – good questions. What really impressed me was how awesome he was at the end of the event. He simply got off the stage and just started sighing books (and a leather jacket of some guy with signatures on his jacket). He really didn’t have to since it wasn’t official signing, but he wanted to get as many things signed as he good before the theater kicked everyone out. I got my copy of “Fragile Things” signed since it is one of my favorite short story collections. It takes me a while to get to Manhattan but it was really worth it.

pictures of Neil Gaiman signing stuff )

Before I had to be at the Festival event, I stopped by to get some food at a café close to Carnegie Hall. They had brunch and I got eggs and toast and potatoes and it was very delicious.

I discover new things every time I go into the city. Today it was a new statue in Battery Park (where you can get on a boat to visit Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty) called “Immigrants.” I took some pictures; it was really interesting and beautiful.

Immigrants statue picture )

This morning, as I was traveling to the city, I read the National Geographic article on Jane Goodall. I still find it amusing that this comes out just as I’m finishing teaching an article by her in my class. I love the photo of just her seventy something face – she just looks beautiful and her face really shows a life well lived. She did stumble into her career quite by accident, although having a mentor like Louis Leakey does help in the long run. One of the pictures of the chimps in the article is a little explicit and would not be publishable if it were a human (I don’t think it is online).

Cross stitching works really well with watching “Real Time with Bill Maher” – I don’t have to actually watch the screen intensively to hear the conversations between guests.

Dexter S5E2 )

My grandmother Tanya died eleven years ago today, so I wanted to take some time and remember the most wonderful and amazing person I have ever met in my life. This was my blog entry a year ago.


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October 2017

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