Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I am currently reading The Ten Year Nap which was recommended to me by a professor at a near-by girls college. It has 3/5 stars on Amazon so I would not have picked it up had it not been about mothers who had stopped working to raise children-- a topic that I am interested in.

One of the reviewers on amazon said that the book is just all of these women complaining about their lives, but not changing their lives. And reading it, I find that it is a *depressing state* book. I mean that all of the characters in the book are living a life that I do not care to emulate. In short, it makes me want to return to work shortly after my kids can walk.

I was reading the book this morning, and one line in particular caught my attention-- it was something about how now that this woman character was married with kids she didn't stay out all night anymore like she did when she was single. A similar statement has been said to me by many of the women who come talk to my Women's group- except that our speakers say they don't spend all of their time working like they used to- now they lead more balanced lives.

Then I think of my life where I am young and already I have to work on leading a balanced life. If I am already working on adapting now, how will I adapt in the future? This is my handicap- the fact that I get so stressed out about life in general... Cardiovascular exercise is supposed to help with that- and it might help me some- except that thinking about doing cardio also stresses me out. That's where Yoga comes in. For the first time I am able to really relax, and I don't anxiously anticipate Yoga the way I do other activities. Yoga could be the solution to my headaches.

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

I went to see Twilight: The Movie with some teacher buddies last Saturday. I had read the whole book series and was excited (Harry Potter-style) to see the film. My experiences at Cinemark made me want to write about two things:

1. Getting along with girls (I hope none of them read it. I should unlink PM from my regular blog.)
2. Human yearning?

1. I got invited to see this movie by my friend and fellow English teacher at school (we'll call her Blondie). We're kind of friends by default--we are both aware that we have nothing in common but we went through grad school together and are now working in the same place (I recommended her for the job, actually). Blondie is a person with very blond hair (obviously) and lots of eyeliner who gets drunk at bars more nights in the week than not and dates many macho loser type guys. Then she talks about her adventures in the teacher's lounge and says things like "how do I get myself into these situations?" and lets other teachers play Life Coach with her.

All that being said, she's a nice person and we get along pretty well as long as we don't spend too much time talking about her drama. But the bigger social problem is, we don't actually have anything to talk about.

So when I get invited to the movie, I think: "I could see a movie with just about anyone." Also, that this would be a way to show her that I'm willing to hang out every once in a while (I usually dog out) so that I wouldn't look like I never want to. Gee, that looks pretty awful once you type it out.

Saturday: two other teachers join us. One's a science teacher from our school and one's from another school (friend of science teacher). Science teacher is 36 years old with dyed black hair and piercing on the inside swirly part of her ear (I don't know what that's called, but it's notable for a teacher). Teacher from other school has long brown hair and talks about her dogs. Both are nice, but here's what lunch was like:

The three girls "joke" back and forth about how they are all sluts and basically take turns telling stories about these lame guys that they are not really dating but who just WON'T stop calling and texting. They've all got their phones out on the table and are sending or receiving texts throughout the conversation. What was most boring about this lunch was that this "You're a slut, no you're a slut" exchange was standing in for humor. That was it! Nothing interesting or funny was said the whole time, and nobody was asking questions and listening to anyone else, either. It was just taking turns talking. I just kept thinking I'd be having such a good time if my other friends who are actually fun and funny were here.

The high schooler in me couldn't help but wonder if this was what it was like to hang out with the popular girls. I think a couple of years ago, this lunch would have made me feel inadequate or boring and I would have believed in the Sex in the City charade, but this time it was just plain boring, and a little sad (in an empty way).

But there's this other part of me that recognizes my own superiority complex--the older I get, the more ridiculous it is for me to stereotype people like we're all in high school and the harder it gets to ignore the complexities of people's lives (as Fermi says: the XY axis isn't complicated enough to chart someone's life).

What we did all have in common at that table was that we are all self-aware and we want for people to think we're interesting, fun, sexy, and smart. We just have different ideas of what those qualities are.

But, the thing that still pisses me off every once in awhile is when I feel Blondie stereotyping me as a complete square. She has this look of utter shock when she asks me what I did over the weekend and it involved leaving my house. She also says things like "You don't seem like the type of person who would..." a lot. I mean really, is going to bars the only thing that makes a person (and a grown-ass person, I might add) interesting? I know it's rough to be single sometimes, but can't you all stop trying to one-up each other with what you think are wild n' crazy tales that you were the first one to experience? Nobody wants to sit there and listen just so you can feel interesting while telling it!

Why do you care what she thinks? you might be thinking. Good point.

This is getting lengthy, so I'll have to write about human yearning some other time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life vectors and Money

Novella came and stayed at my apartment recently. I had a very good time with her, and we got to hang out more than I was expecting which was nice. Along with other things we talked about people we knew from high school and what/how they are doing now. I started thinking about high school people -- about how we all had very similar day-to-day lives at one time, and now we have scattered and are doing very different things with our lives.

Then I think- maybe it only seemed like we had similar lives. Maybe the part of our lives that was the same was not the part that mattered. Maybe the things that influenced us were the parts that were not so visible to my high school eyes.

I guess this is the nature vs nurture thing. Or it could be the nature and nurture thing where nature (our genetics) is the X axis and nurture (our experiences) is the Y axis, and our resulting direction in life is the vector in space having both X and Y components. And that is how it would be in 2 dimensions. But with genetics I imagine that we would not only have multiple lengths of the X axis component, but also that we would have other dimensional possibilities.

So the part that is the same is the fact that we wall went to the same high school. But there are so many other variables. How much did we pay attention in class? How did our home life influence our interest in school or boys or girls or drugs? Maybe our home life was so drastically different that it switches us into another dimension entirely. If we consider all of this it makes perfect sense that members of a high school class would be scattered about the universe.

Human beings have too many variables to make a good science experiment. In the class I am auditing I think about how there is so much we don't know about biology and life. We don't know every step in evolution, although we have pieces. We cannot create a living E.Coli bacterium yet (from non-living synthetic materials.) I feel like we are close. We should be able to create an E.Coli. But even bacterial life is SO complicated. If humans continue to exist for long enough (assuming we don't bomb ourselves into extinction) I bet we will get far enough in science to create life from non-living materials.

On a side note- tomorrow is Monday. I am meeting with my boss AND ordering supplies for my project. The total cost of supplies I need is $7.40. I have a feeling that my boss will tell me to purchase the supplies with my own money. And I will tell him no.

I have the feeling because in the past he has told us to purchase things with our own money - and I have already spent $170 on my research project of my own money. I am not doing this anymore. It pisses me off because it is HIS JOB to get us funding - AND he makes ten times as much money as I make. And he expects me to use my salary to do HIS job, and still do my job? The problem is that my boss feels that he doesn't have enough money. He is selfish and stingy.

I am ready to tell him tomorrow that I am not spending another cent on my research project, and that if he doesn't have the money to support my project then I can find another group.

This is hard for me because I am standing up to my boss, and because it is dealing with money. I have issues with money because my dad never wanted to spend money and so I thought that if I spent less money than he would love me more.

The great thing is that Jips, my husband, loves to spend money. And since I want him to have the things he wants because I love him and we can actually afford the things he wants... it makes me think that I can have the things I want then, too.

But beyond my husband - I have trouble with money. I hate talking about it. I hate asking my boss to spend money on my research because he is always acting pissy about spending the money. So this will be a big step for me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

point for a penguin

So since we like to talk about grad school things on this site and since grad school is one of the main things keeping me from posting more often than once every 2 months or so, I will post a story.

The setup: Contemporary Political Theory class. 9 - 11:50 thursday mornings. This was my week to lead discussion and make questions for the class. There are about 20 people in this class. Most of the people get along pretty well and are respectful to one another. There are a lot of crazy terms flying around that don't actually mean anything, but there are other people besides myself who don't live (or aspire to live) the purely academic (read bullshit) life of political science grad students. Anyway, everyone in this class is nice and respectful except for this one guy, we'll call him super-prick.

cast of characters:

myself: feisty, had very little sleep the night before, worked very hard to do a good job with this presentation stuff

super-prick: things he is God's gift to everything and everyone on Earth (and probably beyond). Thinks he is the smartest person in class, more so than the teacher or those who have studied more, longer, and in more places than here. He's tall and definitely conventionally attractive (I'm sure some brainless girls have been stupid enough to fuck him over the years, that is if he will let beings of substandard intelligence go near his axis of power). What is, by far, the most infuriating thing about this jackass is that he is so arrogant about knowing a lot about political theory and he is, by far, the most condescending person I have ever encountered. He generally doesn't even look up from his paper when he speaks.

Right before our face off:

The topic of the class is multiculturalism. One of the quotes I found from the book is that universities have an obligation to protect people from racist thought, even if it might go against free speech. Then I gave a quote from the LSU chancellor in a letter from 2006 saying that the university discourages but will not ban the flying of a purple and gold confederate flag. Maybe it wasn't the most theoretical of questions, but it talked about the not so pretty side of culture, and it also related to the culture of this area (the south in general). People are raising their hands and discussing things. There seems to be a good response, then this:

super-prick: (long pause) When I thought about this question (leans back in his chair for a long pause) I was reminded of high school and being stuck with these kinds of question in civics class.

(note: I can't remember what exactly he said, but he said it in a condescending way and basically said to the whole class, since he's too much of a pussy to address me outright, that he thinks my questions were not on his elevated level)

peace bone: (somewhat jokingly) well I did teach high school last year

super-prick: well I guess that fits

(damn son, why don't you just tell me I need to leave your intellectual space since I'm tarnishing your brain waves.)

So the class goes on and more people raise their hands and offer talking points. Super-prick raises his own hand to chime in.

super-prick: I would like to pose my own question (assumingly because mine was so inadequate)

peacebone: (interrupting loud enough for all in the class to hear) oh, is this a college level one?

super-prick: (blank stare and silence)

giggling ensues from a good number of people in the class.

Score 1 for peacebone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Your laptop will love you for this.

I sprayed Febreze on my hair tonight. I went to a cook-out before coming home from work, and I helped with the grill. This meant that my hair and clothes smelled strongly of charcoal. Clothes are easy enough to change, but hair -- what could I do? I didn't want to shower, and spraying Yardley London English Lavender on my hair would only make me more nauseous. I needed something to eat up the odor -- and Febreze did the trick.

Had I been in a reasonable state of mind, it would have been easy for me to take a shower. In fact showering is what I probably should be doing now. Instead of being reasonable, I am a slave to my desires: for yoga and blogging.

Today is my third day of doing the video: Fat Free Yoga. I am a bit obsessed with the way it makes me feel. The video itself is a bit hokey. Well, its not really the video but rather the narration:

You might not like this pose, but it likes you!

Your kidneys will love you for this. Your adrenals will love you for this.

One of the four workouts is even titled: Your life is in your own glands.

I do all of the 4 workouts except for the 16 sniffs in the gland segment. It is the "exercise" where you take 16 small sniffs inhaling, followed by 16 small sniffs exhaling. I actually tried to play along the first day, but I ended up with 12 sniffs each and then I was all out of rhythm with the video.

The video makes me feel so happy after and the next day. I think I am going to go shower now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

no substitute

Attitude is everything no substitute for quality work.

I am too tired to write a whole post about this... but feel free to share your thoughts.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the floor is made of lava

toothpaste for dinner

How Babies Are Made 10/30/08 is a blog post by Natalie Dee that has significantly influenced my life. Hopefully the link gets you there. If not, I believe I have provided enough information for you to find it.

How Babies Are Made has cured me of my "baby wanting" for the time being. This is good, because the idea of babies seems very appealing when compared with the drudgery of my graduate program-- however, the Hell written about in How Babies Are Made is significantly worse than grad school.

In other news, Tino has requested that I post some pics of the pups. Previously, I have refrained from posting any photos of my dogs because it could be incriminating evidence of my true identity. But now, I say: Bah! I am taking the risk.

The first photo is of Herman; I have titled it: The Floor Is Made of Lava, because he is walking from the chair to the couch as a kid would if they were playing the game.

The next photo is of Diego. He is our little Red Headed Step Child.

And finally, we have them both together on the couch in Together On The Couch.

Training Success: A Review, Days 1-5

The book says that we are supposed to do 2 training sessions a day of 20 repetitions of click and treat for 3 days. That didn't quite happen. I do think that my dogs get the idea of their current training sessions now, though. Here is a review of our progress:

Wed (day 1): 1 session PM
Thurs (day 2): 2 total sessions: AM and PM
Friday (3): 1 session AM
Saturday (4): 1 session AM
Sunday (5, today): 1 session AM

Today I actually have time to do more sessions with them but I am going to try to move on at this point. So far we have had 6 sessions which is the same number we would have had in 3 days of twice a day.

In Chicken Liver news, I have decided to trash the remaining livers. The livers have a grainy texture that fragments in my fingers as I try to feed them to Diego. On top of that they smell horrible. Chicken Livers have been the bane of my training existence.

I am also looking forward to moving on to the next training exercise because Diego has a problem of being over-zealous about food so that he scrapes my fingers with his teeth every time I try to put a treat in his mouth. I have cut up longer strips of centimeter cheese to help with this, but the box game that comes next will solve the teeth scrape problem.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Herman the Foodie

Training Success: Day 2

I think I read on a dog training web site that the handler should vary the food rewards so the dog is expecting the unexpected. Will it be chicken or cheese? Hot dog or steak?

In this light, I purchased something new: Chicken Livers. They were actually recommended in the same line of the book as hot dogs. This was my first experience with chicken livers, and you can take my word for it: Chicken Livers Are Fowl! Um, I mean FOUL! Nasty as hell. But the book said dogs like them, so I took them out with me in a baggie.

I take Herman out training first, and click and stick a piece of chicken liver in his mouth.
Herman spits it out.
I try again.
He spits it out again.

At this point I determine that Herman does not enjoy the chicken livers. Luckily I also had some centimeter cheese with me, and he likes that. So we used the cheese and did the click training.

Diego on the other hand LOVES chicken livers. (Although I cannot differentiate his love for chicken livers from his love for any other food.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's cooler than a back pack?

A hip pack.

I don't know if I've blogged before about how much I love Amazon: Amazon and on-line shopping in general.

The book I ordered: When Pigs Fly: Training Success with Impossible Dogs, arrived last night. Not only is it hilarious, but it makes me think that maybe my dogs aren't so bad after all. The Pigs-Fly training method is based on 100% positive reinforcement which I agree with. My uncle started his own dog training and dog walking company and he uses negative reinforcement. Dominant downs etc. His method took the life out of his dogs. They seem depressed and I didn't want my dogs to be like that.

Luckily Pigs-Fly has the answer. It is a slow answer but I think it will work. And the best part is that training my Pigs-Fly dogs won't take the life out of them.

So here we are: Day one: Loading the Clicker.
The clicker concept is that dogs can process a click noise in their brain faster than a human word. In this fashion the click becomes an instinctive signal. This is important for training because studies have shown that you have 1/2 a second between the behavior and the reward for the dog to associate the two. Clicking is easy and fast.

But in order for the clicker to work you have to "load it." This is what the boys and I started on today.

Materials: clicker, dog, bag of treats.
Today our treats were hot dogs and cheese. Each treat consisted of 1/40th of a hot dog or a 1cm by 1cm square of sliced cheese.

Instructions: click and shove a treat into the dog's mouth within a half second. Pause, and repeat 20 times.

I took Herman out first. He was afraid of the clicker so I hid it behind my back and showed him the treat. Then I clicked and shoved it in his mouth. After I ran out of a handful of treats he ran away so I had to walk up to him with a new handful and start again. Then we went back inside. Herman seemed relieved that the training was over. In general he doesn't enjoy new activities that he cannot predict. Hopefully it will get better.

Next it was Diego's turn. Diego went crazy-eyed-bible-thumping-fanatical about the treats. I am not sure if he got the link between the click and the treat, but boy does he LOVE training!

In the Pigs-Fly book, she says to start training somewhere boring like in the kitchen. I had to improvise and do it outside because we have a small apartment and I think it would be way too chaotic if I was trying to train two dogs at the same time. So we went outside but stayed in my apartment complex.

So that's it for today. Click and treat. I am supposed to do this twice a day for three days to fully load the clicker.

I started this post professing my love for Amazon. It is true. Who has time to physically shop? I don't, especially in my city's traffic. And so my next Amazon purchase is this excellent multi-pocket fanny pack to hold training treats, keys, and poop bags for my future Pigs-Fly training sessions. I am going to look rad with my hip pack. Can you tell that I am getting old?


I've got 14.5 inch calves (circumference). Previously ignorant of this essential detail, I ordered boots from Zappos. I only measured after noticing that my calves bulged over the tops and the side zipper pinched me on the way up.

I am interested in black leather boots that have a zero to one inch heel (and if heel, then wedge) that are also wide enough for my feet and loose enough for me to be able to zip them all the way up without cursing.

I have scoured Zappos.com. These are the ones I originally wanted:

They were not available in my size. These were the ones I mistakenly ordered (with the 13 inch calf size):

These are the two other kinds that I'm considering. Which do you ladies like best out of the next two: the "Thrilliant" or the "Keep N' Stylish" (respectively)? Like I don't have a million other more important things to worry about. Here's my thinking on these boots: the heels are cuter but prissier (not a good thing, in my mind), and the flatter ones are not as sexy but more practical and maybe easier to teach in.

New Era

Words escape me in light of this momentous, historical occasion.
In all honesty, I cried a little (tears of joy) as I listened to the speech he made in Grant Park last night.
It feels nice to be proud of America.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dog-possible: Diego the Impossible dog

It all happened too fast and too early in the morning. At least that's what Diego thought. He's the one who took a bite out of the guy's leg. Yes, I'm being serious. My dog bit someone. Fuck.

7 am. I roll out of bed and put on my signature giant black robe.
-Right, so it isn't even mine, it belongs to Jips, and because it is designed for a man it is large and it engulfs me in fluffiness. -
I hook up the dogs: Diego, a 25 lb pure beagle, and Herman, a 55 lb brown dog, and open the door of my apartment to go outside.

Now, in front of my door there is a narrow walkway, (about 4 feet wide) and there was a blond 22 year old coming back from a run walking into us. I pull the dogs back and the guy keeps walking past.

Please note: my dogs are harnessed and on leashes: nylon leashes with loop handles, not that pull and click kind. We are standing in the doorway of my apartment which opens into this 4 ft wide walkway, and this guy deliberately walks into us. The physical closeness would mean nothing for someone walking along crowded New York City sidewalks, but it meant something to Diego. He freaked out - lunged - and bit the guy in the leg.

The wound was less than one square inch-positioned on the side of his leg- between his shin and his calf. But remember, he was coming back from a run? His heart rate was up- and he had great circulation--the wound bled all over the place.

He asks if he can come into my apartment to clean up. (His apartment is just upstairs- but I say sure.) I wipe the blood off of his leg with a Puffs Plus with Lotion. He wants peroxide- I look around and we have almost no first aid supplies. Awesome. We have gauze and Target brand neosporin.

He says he loves dogs, he isn't going to report anything, etc. He says not to be too hard on Diego. We introduce ourselves. He lives upstairs. He leaves.

But my dog bit a person! Sure, I bet Diego felt cornered and scared. Add that to the four year mystery of his upbringing and you get a dog bite. Keep in mind that Herman was in the exact same situation, and he just stood there. Herman we raised from a puppy- we properly socialized him and he knows his place in our house.

I looked up dog bites on the Internet and it says that it is the owners fault for not raising the dog properly. I do take responsibility for my dog-- but I got him from the pound when he was four years old and pretty fucked up.

Diego is cute and affectionate, and that sums up all of his redeeming qualities.
When we got him, he had a collapsing trachea, heart worms, and ear infections. I had to hold him if he woke up at night until his second dose of cough medicine took effect and he went back to sleep. Jips holding him didn't cut it for Diego- it had to be me.

He wouldn't walk on a leash. He would just stand outside and freeze up like a dear in headlights. So I picked him up and carried him on walks with Herman. In interesting places I put him down and let him smell. After about a month, he learned how to walk the whole way by himself.

One day I was picking up dog toys from the carpet because I was about to vacuum. I found a tooth- a large canine tooth. I checked the boys' mouths and sure enough it was Diego whose tooth broke off. He had surgery to remove the rest of it because it was hurting him to eat. The vet said that years of rocking metal with his teeth had caused them to wear down. Someone must have left him in a crate for a long time when he didn't want to be in one.

Then what else? He has seizures on occasion, and he has a back problem- he can't handle steep stairs or the disks in his lower back get inflamed. So now we walk around the slope hill in the back of my apartment, and his back is doing fine.

Add to that the fact that he likes to pee on the TV stand and my computer chair and you have our special dog. And he likes to attempt to "hunt" every other dog in our apartment complex. He gets the scent- nose down tail up- and lifts his snout to give that loud trumpet beagle bay that his breed is known for.

I say all of this, but he HAS made tons of progress. He is a much healthier and happier dog now that we have had him for 2 years. Except for the fact that he is still a little bit neurotic and scared of everything. We understand that he likes to hide in the bedroom during a thunder storm, and he understands that we prefer him to pee outside rather than on the TV.

So now what do I do? He bit someone, and I have to change something. I ordered this book off of amazon: When Pigs Fly: Training Success with Impossible Dogs, because I think Diego qualifies. I will let you know how the training success goes when the book comes in.