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Thursday is one day where I don't have to go in to work. Usually it means that I have a lot of grading to do at home but most Thursdays I just take a day off to decompress and grade on the weekends. I need to grade five papers at some point today but right now I'm just relaxing. I had a doctor's check-up appointment today and while I took a bus there, I walked home (It's about 30 minutes walk). That was very nice; I miss walking just because.

So I wanted to cover the TV shows of this Fall season. I am looking forward to January with "Downton Abbey" "Sherlock" "Teen Wolf" and "Community" but for now there are my shows this fall.

TV Shows Fall 2013 )

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 09:53 pm
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I had a dentist appointment this morning to get a cleaning and my dentist is near my parents' house. So I got up early and took a subway and bus to get there. I had to wait an hour, which was annoying, and then, this time, the cleaning really hurt. Usually it is just bothersome but fine, but today was just terrible. My teeth are still feeling it. I got fillings last week and it went much better than today, and usually it is the other way around.

One thing I knew I could do near my parents' house, other than go visit them, was to do some shopping, since they live near two shopping plazas. I needed to get a toy for Galya's birthday in June (she is turning 2) and there is a Toys R Us right there. Most of the fun toys were 3+, though. Next year will be much more fun. But I think I found a good one - it is a little xylophone/piano combination for toddlers. Then I stopped by at Kmart to get cheap summer shorts to wear at home (I have home clothes and clothes for outside and I don't mix the two. It is the way I grew up and it is weird to me to be in jeans in the house, for example. Or shoes.) And, finally, there is a store where I can get greeting cards for 50% off - I needed four of them (birthdays and baby showers coming up). I got my shopping list done - the only thing left is a present for Bear's Mom. She is turning 70 in June.

After all the shopping, I walked to my parents' house. My Dad took a day off, since he has extra days left over he needs to use and my parents are in the middle of renovations of their top floor. He was needed to help the guy who was installing their shower today. Plus, he knew I was coming over today. With the renovations, I can't stay overnight at their house right now - they gave away my old bed and couch even but I thought I would hang out there until after dinner. But I only stayed for lunch, as my parents wanted to drive to Brooklyn to look at a few warehouse to find their wood railings and shower shelves. I went to a few stores with them, and after they drove me home. So I ended up cooking some pasta for dinner instead.

Netflix put up "Struck by Lightning" this week (the movie Chris Colfer wrote and starred in) and I watched it today. I ended up really liking it (Alison Jenney is amazing) and it even got to me in the end. I also watched "Modern Family" finale - which was pretty emotional at points. This season was not that good but this show still certainly has its moments.

In the weird things I read today column was the news that Amazon is getting into fanfic business and got licenses from a few TV shows. It is just such a weird thing - as a writer, I would not want to give my copyright up and, as a reader, I can just get some much for free.

I've been reading a few articles lately about students loans - there seems to be a major discussion in the media lately. And it has been really depressing to read comments who mostly want to push toward 'useful' degrees that don't include humanities. And I find it sad. As a culture humanities are important. Learning English and history is not a waste of time - not just because of analytical, writing and reading skills but because wide knowledge and rich culture made a society. Why is knowledge not a good thing of itself today? I understand that people want a return on their investment but college should be more than just a path to money. Now, I never had any college debt - it was a combinations of a State School, scholarships, my parents and graduating in three years instead of four. And I understand when many get frustrated with debt but college should be about more than that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday, May 14th, 2012 11:00 pm
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For the first time in maybe half a year I actually watched Monday’s TV live. First “How I met Your Mother (HIMYM)” and then “House.”

I have been keeping up with “HIMYM” online but I was mostly bored with it and in the first half of this evening’s episode I switched to HBO and Harry Potter during the commercial and didn’t care to go back. The show seems to mostly stay in place and it is just not interesting anymore. I don’t think I’m coming back for it next season.

I need to catch up to about 4 episodes of ‘House’ and I don’t really care. I do like House and Wilson interaction in the latest storyline but that is about it – the rest, the patients just leave me indifferent. I will watch the finale, of course, and I will probably catch up to the episodes I missed by having them run in the background while I’m doing something else but I’m glad the show is ending. It used to be a must watch for me but I really stopped caring.

In fact, this TV season has the lowest number of shows that I follow or that I watch live. There are only three that I watch as they actually air and that I get excited about: Glee, Community and Grimm. I’m still surprised by how much I got into Glee this year after two years of indifference and occasional watching. Community is the funniest comedy around and Grimm is my favorite new show and I adore it to pieces and it just keeps getting better and better.

Modern Family and Grey’s Anatomy are shows I like that I usually watch online after they air. HIMYM is the show I do watch online but reluctantly. And House I kind of watch online now, but not really. I gave up on Bones in April when I realized that I just didn’t care anymore and I don’t miss it at all. But that’s it.

At least summer is coming up with the crack that is True Blood, SYTYCD and Burn Notice. I’m done with Leverage and I don’t even remember other shows. I haven’t even finished last four episodes of Dexter Season 6. (And I will watch Borgias all at once on Demand probably).
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Long day, as usual. I was going to grade in the evening, but after so much teaching and prepping to teach, and office hours, and reading some rough drafts and basically working from 7am to 6pm, I just have no energy. So I caught up to blogging instead and I’m going to read a little more.

I gave a lecture on Mughal Empire in my Global History class. The Department Chair emailed me last week asking if she could come observe me teach, which was not really a question. This is the first time I was observed teaching in years and years, and certainly the first time since I started teaching at Local College a year ago. I also knew very little about Mughal Empire until last week, when I started working on the lecture. But I think the lecture went very well. I did background for India, Babur and Akbar. There was Powerpoint, a video clip for students to watch and the discussion of two primary sources. So good variety. It is not like I was teaching differently or anything – I’m pretty set in my methods. And I don’t really get nervous teaching but I was a little more hyperaware because the Chair was sitting there. And this is my favorite class this semester, which I really did not expect.

So I did order that summer type white dress from that Chinese website. We’ll see what happens. I have no expectations whatsoever.

I didn’t want to watch “House” today. Too tired. So I didn’t. I’ll just catch up to it in a few weeks. I used to look forward to it so much but not lately. And there is only half a season left. I also don’t want to watch “HIMYM” anymore. I think “Glee”, “Grimm,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Modern Family” are the only full season shows I’m interested in anymore. The rest are seasonal.
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When I have a grading deadline I have a harder time even starting it. Argh. I really don’t know how to break out of the bad habit.

I did lectures on Judaism and Charlemagne today. And then I had to stay later to meet plagiarism kid from last year. I showed him the steps to writing down the paper. I don’t know if they would let him do this but at least he is willing to try.

“Modern Family’ was hysterical. I laughed outloud so much at that show.
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Best line from one of my college papers I read today
“The Citadel has pros that make it look respected and it also has its cons that make it look like an asshole.”

Grading day again so I got up at 6am. 12 papers today but I got it all done. And today I got a fresh batch of papers so it never stops. I did write a new question based on articles by Leila Ahmed “On Becoming an Arab” and Gladwell’s “The Power of Context.” I’m asking them to consider “How does context influence identity?” And, of course, we spent a significant amount of time in class discussing what ‘context’ means (even if they just wrote a whole paper on Gladwell and ‘context’ is in his title. We also looked at the different types of context like environmental or political and what ‘identity’ means. I talked my question over with Emily, one of the other instructors. I do always like discussing my question with other instructors just to talk it out and make sure it would work. There is a lot to be said for collaboration.

Because Ahmed’s article assumes a general knowledge of history, geography and terminology which most students lack (and I’m always surprised at the lacunas in their history and geography knowledge) we went over some terms that popped in the essay. Like the difference between ‘Arab’ and ‘Muslim’ and where Arabian Peninsula and even Egypt were on the map. (I brought my Historical Atlas for them to look at because they needed to know where Ottoman Empire was and explain what Ottoman Empire consisted off and many couldn’t even point to Egypt). We went over World War I, World War II, nationalism, Balfour Declaration, Zionism, propaganda and other terminology. One class asked me to talk about different types of Christianity because Copts were mentioned in the article. While a part of me thinks this type of article is hard for them because of all these terms another and stronger part says that this is the type of stuff they should read in college and that we must expect them to learn.

Every year, my friends and I get together during Passover (usually on a Saturday) and have a Passover Seder (which I run because I have the book and it matters most to me. I actually keep Passover, foodwise, unlike my friends). This Seder is one of my favorite traditions of the year and I always look forward to it because we all cook together and make this gigantic dinner. And it is really a multi-religious fest since the women are all Jewish and our partners are Christians and Muslim.

Since I’m the person who usually organizes things, and especially this event, I usually give out grocery lists and generally make sure this event happens. So today I sent out Seder Menu for general approval.

Seder Menu )

In the evening, after all that grading I managed to watch some TV, including last night’s “Modern Family” on Hulu and "Community" and "Grey's Anatomy" on TV.

“Modern Family” I loved the table conversation. Two laugh outloud moments (I was watching the first half in my office at the end of my office hours since I was done with grading and needed a rest, and after one involuntary really loud laugh from me(Cam’s sarcastic line about getting another child from the Orient) I was glad it late enough for not many people to be hanging around the offices.

Ah, “Community”. You are such a nice fluffy show that understands the awesomeness of pop culture tv and movie references. No-no juice!

I had a minor panic over computer cord; I had to use a pen to move the inside where you connect the battery cord.

My jaw on the left side feels a bit stiff where it joins my skull. It’s annoying.

Today was a very long day.
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More grading this week as I spent the morning finishing in class exercise 1 for history classes. Most did well, only a few managed to mess this up.

I did my lecture on Greece and in my first class there were technical PowerPoint difficulties. I need to save it differently or get a new flash drive. Second class always get a better version of the class.

I can’t seem to muster energy in the evening lately. This year’ “Modern Family” Valentine episode was not as funny as last year’s but I do like the very terrible and awkward flirting of Claire and Phil.
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49 out of 50 states have snow. That’s the whole South. And some people don’t want to see that the weather is changing. We got a good amount of snow but now as much as in post-Christmas blizzard. Since we aren’t actually blocked in our house, it is a plus.

‘Got Medieval’ has a great response to Palin’s use of ‘blood libel’ and the subsequent Jewish WTF response to that.

I turned on TV at 9pm (while still doing the free stepping thing in Wii – I do like the option of watching tv while technically exercising) to see “Modern Family” and ended up watching Obama’s speech from Arizona memorial service. It was a good speech. I really liked the part that we should aim our government to be like the little girl saw it. It was a bit unsettling to go to “Modern Family” comedy right after that for a few minutes. Good show, though, as usual.

I had my sonogram at the urologist’s office today. Everything looks fine so I’m happy with that. I really liked the sonogram technician. She kept up fun dialogue and generally made it fun. One more test on Friday.

Exercise: 36 min on Wii. I really like the advance bicycle course and I think I got over the virtual dog running after me. (I have a phobia for real dogs; I’m usually ok with dogs in pictures and such but first time I did the bike game when the virtual dog started running after me I got very uncomfortable. But my brain is back to seeing it as not a real dog.)

Cross stitch: tan on the little bear’s face and paws and some light brown for his ears.
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Advil is my best friend today since my body decided to be extra mean from the migraine last night that sent me to bed at 10 because light and reading was making it worse to the really bad cramps this morning. But with Advil I was actually able to do some work, mostly lots and lots of reading. I didn’t want to stare at the computer too much today so as not to trigger another migraine. My heart also wanted to have its own rhythm today. Really not helping, body!

But despite all the body rebellion, I had a really good day mostly because I got to read a lot and it was technically work. I started “Travels of Marco Polo” today and I couldn’t put it down. It is so good! I was not expecting it to be this good. I can’t wait to read more. I didn’t realize that Marco Polo was seventeen when he set out on his journey with his Dad and Uncle and they got to China when he was twenty-one. I think my students will like this fact.

“A Study in Scarlet” is also equally good and fun to read and I have a hard time deciding which book to read. I can read more than one book at the same time and I often do but both are in their own style and I kind of want to finish Marco Polo first. But the first chapter of Sherlock Holmes did convince that I want to work through the whole collection this year.

And I’m continuing the “Silk Road” book – today it was about Kushan Empire of Central Asia in 1st-3rd cent CE and Buddhism.

In the evening, I cross-stitched and then I watched “Modern Family” which was really funny, as usual.

Exercise: 30 minute walk
Cross-stitch: More yellow - I finished the head on the ducky and did some wing.
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Before my classes this morning, I looked at the collections of essays in the Expos book, which I will probably teach from next semester. I haven’t taught Expos in a while; I’ve been doing Basic Comp lately since I like it more, but I can’t be picky. Since I’ve taught it last, a new edition of the book came out. So as I was browsing it I discovered to my delight this article:

Henry Jenkins, 'Why Heather Can Write: Media Literacy and the Harry Potter Wars"

This is the official description of it:
"Young people are immersed in technology, texting friends, chatting online, wandering virtual realities, and surfing the Web. Does this immersion work against literacy, or does it redefine what it means to be literate in the twenty-first century"

This article is basically about the Harry Potter fandom and how that works with the old media. And a big part of the article is about fan fiction and how it affects writing and how it can teach children to write better. There is a discussion of beta readers too. The article is about the conversion culture of old media that is dependent on hierarchy and a new more egalitarian media of the internet. And the article also has a large section on censorship attempts and how some Christians are actually using the books in the positive way to advance their values. (This was published in 2006)

I am so teaching this article next semester. Harry Potter was my first internet fandom, it is what really introduced me to fan fiction so this would be fun for me to teach and see what 18 year old think of it (they did after all read the books at a very different age than me. I was 21-27 through the series and I read for adult characters more than for the kids.)

In class today, the students turned in their Paper 3 and did some proofreading and then we did some close reading of the next article by Lenore Look. I was thinking of doing more grammar but we actually got into the first section of the essay well. The class went really well. They do have hard time picking out themes from the paragraphs they read; they get a small detail but not big picture.

Since this was Halloween weekend I was spending it with Bear at his house (Both of us love this holiday). So I took two trains for a very long ride to his place. By the time I got to his house I was falling asleep. I did get into some conversation with other people on the train, mostly because I finished one book and pulled out the second one, which was read half-way. The old gentleman across from me, who was also reading, found it amusing.

I finished “Theatre” by W. Somerset Maugham that Papa gave me for my birthday. I give it four out of five. The prose style is excellent; the man can write. And I especially enjoyed the last third of the book, since the subtle ironic humor was really strong here. The story is about a middle age actress Julia who has an affair with a young man and the repercussions on her emotional well being and her ability to act. She has an affable husband with whom she started a theatre where she works and one son, but she is actress first and foremost. She acts not just in the theater but in her life as well. I really didn’t like Tom, the young man who had an affair with Julia, mostly because he is using her to advance in society, but I wasn’t sure if he was actually self aware about that. Or maybe the perception of him changes with Julia’s views of him. I did rather liked Michael, Julia’s husband, they had a nice real marriage and partnership that wasn’t really about sex and they were certainly best of friends. But Julia not knowing what is real or not was fun. The more I think about the book the more I like it, but I certainly did not felt anxious to finish it or to pick it up like I just had to know what happened. So 4 out of 5.

Bear and I had dinner with his parents and sister and then we had a Halloween TV night – rewatch of “Community” and “Modern Family” Halloween episodes and then “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” I got Bear into “Community” – he doesn’t watch TV that much, but he watches TV with me when I show him something. He certainly watched all my favorite “Buffy” episodes without actually having the sense of the show narrative. He does like ‘Community” a lot. This was also the first time Bear saw “Rocky Horror” and he had this look on this face like he couldn’t believe anything can be that campy and weird. But it was certainly perfect for Halloween and the start of the Halloween weekend.
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This was a low key day. I went to the local library today – it is about 20 minute walk one way – and it was a very nice walk. The trees are now all yellow and red and the colors really show its autumn. And the Halloween decorations are up. This whole tableau just says October and it is lovely.

In the library, I picked up the seventh Charlaine Harris book in her Sookie Stackhouse series: “All Together Dead”. I love “True Blood” and the show is a huge improvement on the books. I don’t really like her writing style that much and the first few books I found rather simplistic in plot. But I miss the characters between the TV seasons and I do like knowing the basic outline of what the TV show will be about. So I read about two of the books per year. I don’t know when I’ll find the time since I’m reading three books right now plus a textbook.

“Modern Family” is a ridiculously funny TV show. They are not afraid of politically incorrect jokes. Tonight’s episode was wonderful. I laughed out loud at the goat joke for maybe five minutes.

An article about lack of good sex ed in this country, and women and UTIs (my main nemesis the last few years). The article really points out that women never get the actual useful advice they would need.
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True Blood. S3E11. Eric can’t die! How is he going to get out of this one? It was a good plan to trick Russell. I was wondering why Eric put his arm around Bill for. Eric and Pam moments continue to be wonderful. The best acting moment of the night went to Andy Belfleur. That was a great scene with him and Tara. Sam and Tara got together again, yay. Sam is acting way too much out of character – I don’t like it. I hope Jessica won’t be killed by Hoyt’s Mom. This episode was setting up the finale, really. I liked Jason tonight too. And what was Jesus in Lafayette’s vision? And I liked Arlene in this episode too. The baby is evil.

Emmys. I watched the first hour from 8 to 9 and then I switched to “True Blood” and then I switched back. I’m glad “Modern Family” got so much recognition. Jewel song made “In Memoriam” segment very touching. Yay, for Modern Family. I watch the Emmys but I’m not always the biggest fan of the show, which is weird since I love TV so much. “Modern Family” sketch with George Cloony was wonderful.

Finally made copies of Battlestar CDs for Bear’s Mom that I meant to make since Christmas..

“Everybody’s Fine” It is a very nice movie. It made me cry. I liked Robert DeNiro in it and he is hit and miss for me. I wasn’t expecting much and this movie surprised me in being so emotional with so much quietness.
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Jet lag day where I just wanted to sit there and watch TV and not interact with anybody until about 5pm. I woke up at 4am at first and made myself sleep for a few more hours. But for me adjusting back is always worse than adjusting to time ahead, for some reason.

I started catching up on TV shows – “Community” and “Modern Family” finales in the morning and “Bones” and “HIMYM” in the afternoon.

Bones S5E22 )

In the morning, I went to visit my grandparents and gave them their gifts and showed them postcards of Minsk. I was a bit tired and still sleepy for much interactions but I didn’t want to postpone a visit. After, Papa and I drove through a carwash – my first carwash visit, actually, and then we went to a food store.

I caught up on lots of stuff on the internet and just vegged most of the day. I finally ordered Bear’s birthday presents on line. I also found that the subscription to National Geographic was only $15 per year and I couldn’t resist it. I also uploaded the Minsk pictures from the DVD to my computer and watched them all. Botanic garden’s shot is now my desktop wallpaper.

The Kid came over in the evening. She and her brother were apparently checking every day to see when I would be back. I gave them their pencil cases, which they seemed to like. I went over to their house to talk to Laura, their Mom, and then I brought over stuff about Minsk to show them. I showed them my photos. And, on the globe, I showed them where Minsk was. That was a nice social interaction since I was feeling up for it. But still, I was too sleepy all day and tried to go to sleep early.
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I actually watched “Community” in real time. Usually I prefer to watch both “Community” and “Modern Family,” the two funniest freshman comedies from this season on Hulu. There are less commercials and it is faster to watch, especially with breakfast. But this time there is nothing much to do. Ok episode, not as funny as last time but the Glee joke just made me laugh and laugh. The main character just doesn’t understand the appeal of “Glee” (which I second). And that made the episode for me. Overall, this season has been good for comedies.

The trailer from the next Shrek movie reveals the plot to be pretty much a direct vengeance demon from “Buffy” plot. Shrek makes a wish that goes terribly wrong. But that actually not a bad plot.


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