Thursday, 28 June 2007

Aww, cute!

Too cute not to share: The San Diego Zoo's Panda Cam.

Okay, so here's what's up

My anticipated office move has been postponed indefinitely. Yay. Except now I have no excuse not to clean my office. And I'm now the farthest away from the department office and the stairway convenient to the new lab. But at least I'm closest to the copy machine.

The new lab is almost 'complete'. The recording booth has been delivered and Tang Chow from ElectroMedical is here (with a crew, I assume) to assemble it.

Keys to the new lab are here. But the paperwork telling us which key is whose (around here, keys get assigned as a personal responsibility) has not arrived, so they have not been dispensed.

Next step, get all the stuff out of storage and into the new lab, once we have keys. Who do we call to get professional movers, which is how we got stuff into storage in the first place?

And then, a big chunk of my professional life is going to be devoted to getting the lab into shape to receive actual students (not to mention study participants) before school starts in the fall.

Long weekend this weekend (Canada Day), the highlight of which for many is the World's Saddest Little Street Fair. Which is not what its organizers call it, but that's what it is. As for me, I'm going to try to make it south of the border (i.e. into the US) for some decent Mexican food.

Next week starts a 9-week yoga session with Craig (I think) rather than Colleen. Except Colleen is going to be filling in at least once, maybe twice. But whatever. Yoga goes on. Yay.

Starting Tuesday next week I have a string of appointments.
  • One of my former students (now a practicing speech-language pathologist) is planning to go back for a Ph.D., and I'm having lunch with him to talk 'statement of research interests' and that sort of thing.
  • Training on the system the University bought to make their web lives easier, which seems to mean making it impossible for us to do anything useful, or easily.
  • Nerve conduction test at the hospital to check to see if my ulnar nerves are on the verge of collapse or it's just the vitamin B12 deficiency my doctor has me working on.
  • Follow up with my doctor on the B12 deficiency. Apparently a normal daily intake of B12 is 5-7 micrograms, or something like that. I'm on 500. One of my regular drugs apparently can cause a problem with B12 absorption. And apparently B12 is important for nerve function. Who knew? But apparently in ruling out diabetic neuropathy, especially when one is on one of the drugs I'm on, you check the B12, and it turns out I'm B12 deficient. Haven't actually made this appointment yet, and I may wait until after the Fringe, just cuz.
  • Regular endocrinologist appointment to talk about the blood sugar, the weight, the blood pressure, and I presume the B12 and the ulnar nerve issues.
And most importantly, July 18-29 is the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. This is the 20th Fringe ("20 years to life"), and I'll be acting as a Warden (venue team leader) at Venues 8 and 9 (north side of the Conservatory building, otherwise known as the Crocus building, but we don't talk about Crocus anymore). It's going to be 12 days of hot hot hot theater, outdoor entertainment, food-from-carts, and so on.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Times like this I wish I had a hot tub

This is how stupid I am. All day I've been achy. All over. And it's just occurred to me why. I worked really hard yesterday in yoga. The good news, I suppose, is that I survived my first yoga class with an instructor other than my regular instructor, who I'll be losing anyway at the end of this session. So I guess my enjoyment/success/whatever of yoga isn't completely going to fall apart if I have to find a new instructor, which I do. Not that I was really expecting a huge catastrophe, but now I have some impetus to actually find a new yoga instructor.

Okay, so last night's guy was Craig, who normally teaches the Ashtanga 'power yoga' class at my gym. As opposed to 'slow flow yoga', which is what I do. Differences: 'power yoga' is a little more 'athletic'. With bouncing around and constant movement between poses. For 90 minutes at a time, which I just couldn't do. 'Slow flow' involves more holding of poses, using movement just to transition. Also it's only 60 minutes, which is plenty for me.

Colleen (my usual instructor) likes to do slow flow in the dark, with candles, and surf-n-tweeting-birds music in the background. Craig doesn't. Which makes balance poses easier, but doesn't do much for my practice otherwise. With the lights on, it became obvious that I like to do yoga with my eyes closed. Also Craig is more 'hands on' than Colleen, in that he was constantly (in the sense of doing it twice) adjusting my pose so I was going a little further into it than I was totally comfortable with. Which is not a bad thing, I guess, since the whole point is to stretch.

I suppose every instructor has their quirks, which having only had Colleen's I'm a little sensitive to. Craig does his Surya Namaskar (sun salutation, which he kept calling a 'sun salute', which to my ear is just not the same thing, but I'm not sure why) differently than Colleen does. Several vocal things that Craig did really took me out of the moment the first few times I heard them. Craig was always talking about noticing the breath. "Notice the inhale.... and the exhale ...." which is a good thing to do in yoga (it's all about the breathing). He also has a thing about maintaining and open and noble attitude, or something like that. They just caught my ear a lot, in the way that coming to Canada I have to stop and refocus everytime someone says 'shedule' instead of 'scedule', or "reZOURCE" instead of "REsource". Or uses it as a verb.

So anyway, I spent all day wondering feeling like I could really use a good jacuze (which is what you do in a jacuzzi, not something you say when you're going to accuse someone of something) (beat) and not really remembering why. And now it's almost midnight and wa-a-ay to late to do anything about it.

Note to self: make friends with someone with a hot tub.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Hagiwara's Review of Books

Every once in a while, I try to fill in a lacuna in my literary perspective, and go back to read some 'classics'. This is 'classics' in the sense of 'stuff we all know from watching cartoons', not anything that's necessarily any good. Stuff by dead white men. You know. "Things I should have read by now."

In the past, this has included a number of real stinkers. Two Towers, Last of the Mohicans, and Moby Dick come screamingly to mind.

This time, I went for 'less literary and more popular', I suppose. Inspired by the graphic novel version(s) of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I decided to explore that speculative/pre-science-fiction/proto-pulp-adventure genre from the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Haggard, Verne, Wells. That sort of thing. I know there's a name for this genre but I'm not sure what it is.

I haven't actually tackled Haggard yet. But I managed to get through some classics anyway: Verne's Around the World in 80 Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth; Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde; Well's Island of Dr Moreau; and of course Dracula by Stoker and Frankenstein by Shelley.

Here's how stupid I am. I didn't know Verne was French. I mean, I knew he was French. I didn't realize he wrote in French. I mean, except for Passepartout (the comical sidekick in 80 Days), his characters aren't French, and so for his stories don't take place in France. Harry (the narrator of Journey) is English, raised by his German uncle (the 'hero') and most of the story takes place in or under Iceland (except for the parts that seem to take place under Scotland). Fogg in 80 Days, of course, is English and most of the story takes place in English controlled (or speaking) parts of the world--Egypt (at the time), India, SE Asia (which isn't so much English speaking, but there's plenty of English influence around, what with Formosa and Singapore and so on, and most of this is on a boat) and the US. I haven't read any of the Nemo books yet (although I may, one day, although I understand they're darker and just not as much fun as the others), but he's a Sikh from India, and of course the stories take place underwater.

Okay, so Jekyll and Hyde is a pretty good story. And everything you've heard about it is true--except that Hyde is actually not a huge monster. He's actually fairly slight but very vicious. But the semi-Freudian, unchecked desire/suppression/sublimation themes are all there. Jekyll is actually not a particularly sympathetic character either.

Dracula and Frankenstein were completely unexpected. I actually enjoyed them both. Dracula is definitely the better read, from the thriller point of view. It's also more skillful, in that it's epistolary (told in letters and diary entries), which is much harder to pull off, especially if you're writing a thriller and you have to generate a sense of urgency. Frankenstein is also epistolary, but the novel is is narrated (via diary entries) by a narrator telling Victor's story as Victor tells it to him. It's a little too self-conscious in its exploration of humanity and loneliness and beauty and evil and so on. Also it resembles not at all any of the popular cartoon versions of the story. The 'monster' is, as I expected, sympathetic. But in the novel he's actually very articulate. Calculating, and amoral, I suppose, but that's rather the point. I mean, I knew that the title Frankenstein refered to Victor (the creator of the 'monster') and not the monster, but I didn't realize that the whole point of the book is Victor's dilemma (having created the creature he hates and fears, and vowing to destroy it, and his self-justification of all his horrible choices in the matter) and not the calculated revenge the creature takes on Victor. The monster is amoral but honorable, in a weird way. Just wants to get along. Victor is just reprehensible. Cowardly. Selfish. Egotistical. But there are no villagers or torches or anything. It's just one moral quandary after another.

This is all bedtime reading. During the day I have work stuff to read. Not that I do, but I found in college if I read work before bed I end up falling asleep if I try to read work during the day. So before bed, I read junk. By which I mean 'for pleasure'. Now I'm in the middle of Canterbury Tales. Which I'm reading just so I can say I have, since I use the first lines of the prologue in my biennial "History of English in 45 minutes" lecture. That and there's a series of novels based on the characters of the pilgrims in Tales by an author I like that I may tackle one day. But not for a while. I'm getting tired of all this 'literature'. The next read is definitely going to be from the 'trashy mystery novel' category. I'm behind a couple of Janet Evanoviches and Tim Cockeys. Not to mention a couple of Martha Grimeses. Although I'm getting a little tired of those.