24 June 2009

Knowledge Never Sleeps

... and, apparently, neither do I. After a quick four-hour nap, I'm back up and at-'em, attempting to make sense of Marx, neo-Marxist theory, and critical theory (little c, little l - it makes a difference, trust me). Ironically, I may have found my new favorite place to study: the Kroger. It has free wifi, a Dunkin' Donuts with free refills, plenty of electrical outlets, and plenty of opportunities for people watching.

23 June 2009

Silver Linings

Great fountain, right? My classroom at IUPUI overlooks the square this fountain is in and, off in the distance, you can see Indy's downtown. I'm not overly thrilled with this second summer class: it's, essentially, six and a half hours of my day, every day, for the next week and a half. That doesn't include the reading time. It's a lot of review material, repackaged in pretty interesting ways. I'm on the fringes of burn out and pessimism is creeping in. In hopes of heading it off, there are lots of bright spots:

* Grad school is hard, but it is also a priviledge. I am so fortunate to be able to do what I do. I seriously read and write all day long and this is amazing.

* And it's made me smarter. The fact that I actually understand the content of this new class and can explain in the simplest terms possible the complexities that are theoretical frameworks is pretty awesome, despite lots of confusion around me. I like synthesis.

* I will have a two week break in July. It's coming. I need to hang in there. Harry Potter comes out that first weekof break and the Chihuly exhibit's at the Flint Institute of Arts. The second week will be spent with the aunt and the uncle, lounging about their lake house with non-required reading and plenty of knitting.

* The dissertation proposal is a bear; writing is difficult and the synthesis of ideas in a way that is clear and purposeful makes the process all the more murky. However, it's interesting to see my ideas come together in cohesive ways. As mentioned earlier, I've actually learned something these past two years.

So, yeah, all is not as blah as I sometimes allow it to be portrayed. Life is good.

Cereal-Covered Donuts

These are donuts with cereal on them. Apparently, they're a hit as these are the third incarnation I've seen at my local Kroger store. I can't help but find them hilarious, wondering what the marketing impetus was behind them: are they attempting to cater to those people who spend a good amount of time in the morning pondering, "Cereal or donut? Cereal or donut?" Are there many of those people? And why does the thought of a cereal-covered donut make me want to barf just a little?

Also: donut or doughnut? Oh, so many questions.

21 June 2009

Amazon.com Bitterness

Originally uploaded by Klis

If Amazon.com and I were dating, this would be about the time we would be seeing lawyers behind the other's back and squirreling away assets.

Normally, I love Amazon with the pages upon pages of stuff - nowhere else on the Internet is it possible to engage in such random Internet shenanigans involving such a range of material. I tend to turn to Amazon for textbooks, primarily because the books are usually in stock and I'm able to situate them in relation to other books dealing with the same topic matter. Additionally, none of the independent bookstores in the area deal in textbooks and the IU campus bookstore is run by Barnes and Noble. So, yeah, I order my textbooks from Amazon.com.

I placed two orders this summer for books - dense, highly-priced textbooks about educational theory that would soon be filled with notes and tabs and thinkings as the summer's classes progress. In the first order, one of the books arrived with cracks in the spine, as though the book had been bent. I returned it easily enough and Amazon sent me a replacement within four days.

The second order, however, arrived two weeks after it was supposed to, despite being listed as "in stock." When it arrived yesterday, I hurriedly opened the package, the class having started earlier that week, only to discover that this book suffered a similar fate: not only was the spine cracked but there was a dent in it as well. I examined the box, which was devoid of dents, and came to the conclusion that this book was shipped out of their facility in this condition.

I have no issue with books that suffer from bangs and dents; what I have issue with is paying brand-spanking-new prices for a bang and dent book, especially when it's a textbook costing upwards of sixty dollars. Who was possessed with the thought that this book would be alright to send out as a brand new book? And, having received two shipments of books with cracks from Amazon, I have to wonder whether the quality control at Amazon is beginning to slip. Perhaps these two experiences were just outliers?

Come on, Bezos, get it together!

19 June 2009

5T: June 19, 2009

5T: June 19, 2009
Originally uploaded by LimeGreenOctopi

I came across this idea in the Rearranged Design blog. Five Things is simple: once a week, you rid your life of five things you no longer need or use. Taking a photograph provides some validation: these are five things that are no longer taking up space in your life. The trick is not to throw said items away but rather find them places they would be happier; simply because they are not enhancing your life doesn't mean they won't enhance someone else's.

With a move looming on the horizon, I figured it would be a good time to start editing the collection of "stuff" I move with me, so here's where I'm starting: two Fiesta bowls in a color I don't actively collect (I remember them being on a really good sale - but what good are they if they don't fit in with anything else?) and a GRE prep book that I'm shipping to my friend Lee. Not only is she a collector of the shamrock Fiestaware but preparing for her own GRE. Nice. Vegetarian cookbook and Squirrel Nut Zippers CD are off to the Friends of the Library book store. I have the funniest feeling I will be making many more donations to that place before the summer is through.

The interesting thing is now that these items are out of my space, I'm actively looking for other things to get rid of. This could be addicting.

05 June 2009

The Perils of Television

I blame my fear of sewing on Lifetime, Television for Women.

Back in the day, also known as the late-80's, early-90's, Lifetime was a fledgling channel airing reruns of made-for-television movies. Lots of them, spanning decades of stories of babies swapped at the hospital, terminal illness, and workplace drama. On a day home ill from school, I happened to catch just a snippet of one such movie. The plot went something like this: there's a sewing factory employing deaf women who spend a lot of time hunched over their machines, sewing while simultaneously working for workplace safety. The five minutes I happened to catch found one such woman sewing through her fingers; she stands up and begins screaming but - lo and behold - works in a factory that employs women who are deaf. No one notices her for a good three or four minutes, by which time both she and I are freaking out.

The image of that large, industrial-sized needle going through her fingers has stuck with me much longer than I imagine it sticking with any other rational person. It's the self-imposed bully that keeps me from sewing, at least until recently. I borrowed a friend's machine to attempt a quilt top for another friend's baby shower. It's something I've wanted to try for a while so I screwed my courage to the sticking place and attempted, the fruits of which is above. It's something of a hot mess, really. Adam, I am not. I think the pattern was a little much for a first time out; there are a few blocks that are not a standard size, hence some of the zigs do not match the zags. I'm debating whether I want to get batting for this top or buy new fabric and start over.

Regardless, I made it through an entire project. With all my fingers un-sewed. I almost wish I would have watched the end of the movie - perhaps the woman had a happy, sewing ending? It could have alleviated years of mental sewing anguish.