freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I was driving up Klipper Rd to campus yesterday morning, and there was a dude stopped on the side of the road with his car on fire. Literally on fire. The bonnet was aflame in a more or less circular patch across most of it. I have no idea what would cause that degree of catastrophic failure, but it was beyond catastrophic. Someone actually photographed it, which must have been a few minutes after I passed it, viz:

When I drove down in the evening it was a burned-out shell. No paint left at all. Gutted. It may have actually exploded. It was weirdly post-apocalyptic, and vaguely associated in my mind with student protesters burning buses. Maybe the car self-destructed in solidarity? But I can't actually get my head around how bad the engine problem actually has to be for that to happen so suddenly and completely.

Something else I can't get my head around: student narcissism. I was stopped ten minutes before the end of the day by a student, who wanted advice, from me, now, and would not accept that I wasn't available, wasn't the right person, and the advice she needed could be given tomorrow by other advisors who were there expressly for that purpose. Followed me to my office. Sat in the chair asking questions about course choices, and every time I told her "no, please sort this out tomorrow", seemed not to comprehend. Argued more, tried to slide in more course questions, talked about her medical condition and the difficulties she was having, which seemed to be largely imaginary. I eventually invented an appointment, twenty minutes later, and threw her out, still trying to con me into giving her detailed advice for which I had consistently told her I was not available. Who does that? what the hell is going on in her head that she cannot compute that I have other pressing commitments which make me unavailable to her, and to address which there is an elaborate system to ensure she receives the advice she needs? I accept that students are largely just post-adolescent and have not yet experienced the Total Perspective Vortex, but seriously, I think that was pathological.


Friday, 13 June 2014 08:46 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Right, well, thank fuck that's done. I emerge from two weeks with my head down on this bloody paper, having just sent 6000-odd words off to my nice ex-supervisor so that she can confirm my argument isn't actually on crack. I am buggered. I've been putting words onto the damned screen for up to six hours a day for two weeks from the midst of a 15-volume pile of critical tomes, while simultaneously writhing with distaste and hating the universe in general and everything in it in particular, with special reference to African film and all its works. It's been very slow and torturous, and I'm still not convinced I'm safe from being ceremonially lynched by a mob of petulant postcolonialists, but the worst is over. Even if there are giant flaws in my argument I'm now editing rather than writing, and it's the writing which is like drawing blood at the moment. In the unsexy non-vampire way.

I suffer from existential crises when doing this sort of thing. I start disbelieving in my own academic existence, and it makes the writing process really rather hard. At least if there are words on the screen for me to work with I have some evidence in favour of my status as tangible and instrumental. Really, a lot of my life is spent as a sort of a wistful academic ghost.

The particular bugger about this bloody paper has been that I've felt impelled to write it to the exclusion of almost everything else. This means that I have not done interesting things to my nice house (newsflash: I still love living on my own even when I hate the universe because academia), or adequately paid attention to my cat, or done any socialising, really, that hasn't entailed jo&stv battering down my door and either plying me with food or dragging me out. Which means there was really rather enjoyable tango at the Crypt on Tuesday, but otherwise not a lot. It's not that I hate everyone, I promise.

I am also on leave for the next ten days, three of which will include an entirely self-indulgent jaunt to Barholomeus Klip, that luxury farmhouse guest lodge thing with the amazing and practically continuous food. I can't really afford this, I'm pre-emptively spending a chunk of my November bonus, but I decline to feel remorse or guilt. Stuff it. I've earned it. Not to mention the fact that it's the end of the first semester and I'm more than somewhat dead on my feet.

So, how is everyone? Are any other Capetonians cordially freezing to death at the moment, or is it just me? It's been icy, down in the 6-degree range, with snow on them thar hills. The air has teeth.  I have unearthed my Giant Coat of Sweepingness and have been sashaying up to campus every morning imagining I'm Sherlock. It adds a certain useful layer of impatient disdain to the interactions with students. I hope you are all well, and warmer than I.
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I really am taking a ridiculous number of pills at the moment. Honestly, if you grabbed me by the neck and shook me I'd rattle, probably just before I uttered a short shriek of rage and plugged you in the eye. (Some of the pills are anti-PMT vitamins, and they're only mostly working. Can you tell?). My spanky new cellphone has a 6pm alarm set, which is absolutely necessary as I'm actually quite absurdly fatigued at the moment and am remembering less and less with more and more facility. At 6pm sharp, wading through the ankle-deep cats who know their supper time is 6pm and who have become conditioned with Pavlovian intensity to the sound of the alarm, I take the following:

  1. Warfarin, a little pink pill. Currently ambling between 5mg and 7.5mg, as my INR levels are still surprisingly low. Either I have a high natural tolerance to Warfarin, or I'm eating cranberries in my sleep.
  2. A giant purple multivitamin pill, full of B-vitamins and evening primrose oil and those other girly-assisting substances which are supposed to stop me from slaying six on a lunar cycle.
  3. A small, tastefully pastel green agnucaston pill, a herbal somethingorother which stimulates dopamine production and thus also tends to reduce the number of corpses I have to feed to the cats.
  4. A giant off-white horse-pill antibiotic monstrosity. This is because I had a root canal half done a couple of weeks ago, and the temporary filling did its usual thing of dying the death about a day and a half after I saw the dentist, so the tooth is (a) merrily disintegrating, (b) mostly composed of a giant hole which traps quite unlikely quantities of food in it, probably measurable in bushels, and (c) hurting like hell, which suggests it's infected. Fortunately my nice dentist warned me of this possibility and gave me a pre-emptive prescription. I'd like to know why the hell he doesn't just take the simple step of constructing his temporary fillings out of something other than cottage cheese.
  5. A probiotic, on account of above. In capsule form. I love pills in capsules. Apart from the cheery superhero colours, they're much easier to take and are moreover consolingly space-age.
  6. A small blue trepiline pill. This is an out-of-date antidepressant whose major effect seems to be drowsiness, so I take it (a) randomly now and then when I'm going through an insomniac phase, but (b) currently daily, as it's supposed to reduce the likelihood of migraines, and I really don't want to repeat last month's merry little session.
  7. A nice painkiller, usually the cheery yellow Syndol equivalent. I'm not allowed to take anti-inflammatories on Warfarin. Paracetamol isn't touching the sides, and the tramadol which the nice physician prescribed has a really weird effect on my insomnia: it makes me spacey and somnolent and floaty, but I come sharply awake every time I start to drift off. Really very odd. I try to avoid codeine, but not when there's toothache involved.
I'm not naturally a pill-taking life form. This is ridiculous, particulary since the last week has been very bad for exhaustion (it seems to come in waves), so it doesn't feel as though they're actually doing anything useful. Phooey. On the other hand, there's probably a new career for me somewhere in a salsa band, to which I would contribute percussion by the simple expedient of wriggling my hips.
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I like Melbourne a lot; its buildings are eclectic and vibey, its atmosphere is decorously festive, and its people are very friendly. Also, half its architects are Cthulhu cultists. Fact. I counted one tribute to Cthulhu, one silver Yog Sothoth on the side of a skyscraper, and more non-euclidian angles than you could shake a stick at. The hotel we stayed at was considerably more plushly comfortable than the perfectly adequate Brisbane one, and had escaped the fatal tendency to decorate in white and oatmeal. The only black mark against it is that my techno-jinx apparently escaped yesterday morning, and took down the hotel internet. Since Sid is still rampaging and I'm fairly dead, internet withdrawal is at this stage an entirely unnecessary additional symptom.

Melbourne University was closer to Cape Town in feel, older buildings, a less corporate feel to the welcome, but they're a bloody good university and are doing fascinating work. Their people are also lovely, what's with this? I refuse to believe that all Australian academics are sweetness and light all the time. I suspect a plot.

I also like Melbourne because it has lovely botanical gardens filled with Indian mynah birds, who have the ability to make the most extraordinary range of sounds - clicks, trills, whistles, pops. liquid gurgles. I want one. I could probably teach it to imitate an expresso machine. Also, the Victoria National Art Gallery had a phenomenal exhibition on Viennese art and design from the early 1900s, including paintings and posters and furniture and jewellery and, occasionally, bits of buildings, and covering artists like Kilmt and Hoffman. Amazing stuff. Incredible aesthetic. As a bonus, the front of the gallery has its entire giant glass window covered with a thin film of falling water in beautiful, meditative patterns, before which I lost myself for about half an hour. I love falling water.

We are now in Sydney, with, thank FSM, the weekend off, as I'm more than somewhat dead. We have, alas, taken a sharp nosedive in hotel quality, and are tending to the minimalist and threadbare. The walls are thin, the decor isn't, the kettle plug took me twenty minutes of swearing to plug in, and there's no power point for my netbook without unplugging the clock. If, however, the bed supports my weight, I shall be able to at least defer my complaints.

This is Melbourne, though. See? non-Euclidian angles, and slimy green bulbous bits. Perverse.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
This is a very seasonal job which I am, to a greater or lesser degree of reluctant efficiency, holding down. Apart from the hellish frenzies of end-of-year, start-of-year and first-week-of-second-semester, aka Hellweek, it is characterised by what I can only describe as Doldrums around May/June, namely now. I have things to do, but they're not madly urgent, and it's thus very hard to motivate myself into actually doing them, with the net result that I'm bored. I also have to achieve them in between a more or less continual stream of student interruptions as the end of the semester approaches and student angst levels start to rise. I am not good at interruptions. See Homicidal Rage, previous post.

It is thus, alas, the time of year in which I reliably and fervently hate this job. Or, not so much hate it as loathe its guts to the last twisted, blackened inch. I wish to eviscerate said guts by means of throwing a hysterical fit and resigning to do something interesting and fulfilling and for which I am actually fitted by inclination and training, like teaching Chinese to reluctant badgers. I'd say that the hatred is exacerbated by the fact that (a) I'm also horribly glandular and perpetually exhausted, and (b) the Dragon Age fixation is making me doubly resent having to spend my days doing something other than hitting darkspawn very hard with a sword, but in fact it's exactly the reverse: the level of hatred for the job is causing both manifestations. This is Not Productive. I console myself with the thought that it's seasonal - I don't usually hate this job nearly as much as I do currently. There are times when I really only find it mildly depressing.

The other drawback to a job with a recurring seasonal cycle: you end up realising that in fact what you're doing is playing an endless game of Desert Bus. As soon as I get to the end of the year, I turn right around and go back to the start, scoring One Point thereby. Hooray.

Please to ignore the above extended whinge, mostly it's an attempt to account for my unaccountable lack of posting lately. Sorry. As you were. I promise I'll Get Better.

up the anti

Sunday, 30 January 2011 01:12 pm
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It's been a torrid week, and the coming one will be worse. I'm tired, grumpy and all peopled out, and inclined to be very, very short with stupid questions. Is it just me, or is it increasingly depressing to realise that things one takes for granted - grammar, politeness, a modicum of altruism, actually reading important texts or listening to important lectures - are not equally accepted as a baseline of behaviour by about 80% of the people you meet? I must be getting old, and set in my ways. There was a particularly egregiously horrible advertising poster in the supermarket this morning, threatening to "UP THE ANTI!" on value, or prices, or quality, or something. Instead of inciting me to righteous mockery it made me want to cry. It's not helping that the English department, bless its snakepit soul, doesn't want me to teach again this year. Am feeling rejected and non-academic.

This is all very low and blue, so I shall attempt to introduce a more cheery and colourful note with a rather delectable recipe I recently invented. Please excuse the smugness of tone in the ingredients list, I need all the happy I can find right now.


You need:
  • One medium butternut you grew in your garden, and practically had to run down and tackle owing to the speed with which the vines are streaking for the borders.
  • A double handful of the baby tomatoes your tomato vines are producing in insane quantities possibly reflecting a new religious cult of some sort.
  • Three or four spring onions which are growing in your garden with a ridiculous enthusiasm given that in some cases they have to grow out from under the butternuts.
  • A handful of sweet basil which manages to grow manfully in your garden despite being repeatedly sat on by the cats.
  • A couple of generous dollops of marscapone. (If I could find a way to grow this in my garden I would).
  • A couple of rashers of fatty bacon. (You could leave this out, I suppose, if you were adhering to strict vegetarian principles for inscrutable reasons of your own).
  • A generous slosh of olive oil.
  • Garlic to taste, i.e. lots. Five or six cloves at least.
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, anything else that grabs your fancy and looks as though it might work with the above.
Wash the butternut to remove random cat hairs, and halve lengthways. Scoop out the seeds and a little bit of the pulp to leave a hollow down the middle. I usually shave off a small piece of the round, curved underneath part so it sits firmly and doesn't rock the boat and tip off all the stuffing at inopportune moments. Throw the seeds etc. into your compost with a brief benediction.

Chop up the tomatoes, spring onions, basil and garlic and mix together. Add the marscapone and mix. Cut the fat off the bacon and reserve; chop the bacon and add to the mix. Add salt and pepper in appropriate quantities.

Slash quite deeply into the cut side of the butternut in a cross-hatch pattern or angular mystic runes or whatever your preference is. Slosh olive oil generously onto the cut surfaces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. It sometimes pays to rub it in a bit so you season into the slashes.

Pile the tomato/marscapone mixture into the hollows and mound it generously above until you've used up all the stuffing. You should pretty much aim to cover the whole cut surface, but peaking along the middle of the length. If there's any stuffing left over you're not trying. For extra decadence, drape the bacon fat over the top. Aesthetics demand that you remove this before serving, and principles of non-waste demand that you eat it. It'll be melt-in-the-mouth crispy. Darn.

Bake uncovered at about 200o for about an hour, or until the butternut is soft. This always takes longer than you think it will. It helps to haul it out the oven every twenty minutes or so and baste it with its own evil, fatty pan juices. You are aiming for all the artery-hardening marscapone goodness to ooze down into the flesh. In more ways than one, see expanding hips.

Slice into fat 2cm-slices to serve as a side dish. Or eat an entire half yourself for a not particularly light supper. Remember to wipe your chin.

Documentary evidence of the Insane Tomato Explosion follows. This is the second time this week I've filled this blue plastic bowl, and there must be almost as many still ripening on the vines.

Also, more demented butternuts in preparation. Observe the spring onions scrabbling out from under.

deep breath

Sunday, 23 January 2011 08:05 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
So, orientation starts tomorrow. I've worked a week of 11-hour days in preparation, and most of yesterday and today, in between odd bouts of socialising ([ profile] librsa's birthday picnic yesterday, lunch with [ profile] friendly_shrink today). Two hours of photocopying this morning, an extended wrestle with advisor schedules and an online evaluation yesterday, an evening spent writing up everything I know about curriculum advice in alphabetical order, which was a strangely surreal procedure. I even put up a Microfic, although it's a very quick and unpolished effort.

It is remotely possible that I'm prepared for tomorrow. This is not, of course, going to prevent me from lying awake tonight fretting about all the little details I've forgotten, and whether my OLs will rise magnificently to the occasion or will crumble under the onslaught. (They've always done the former, but I'm paranoid).

General lessons learned this last week:
  1. Never administer enormous logistical challenges if you're a control freak.
  2. This is where my health problems are stemming from. I've been fine for months, but my sinuses are acting up today for the first time since around August. Bloody stress.
  3. It may produce presentations rife with thundering cliché, but Powerpoint is weirdly easy to use. It certainly beats my previous line in dodgy overhead projector copies.
  4. Earl Grey makes the world go round.
I shall now go and watch a celebratory Smallville episode before toddling goodly off to bed at 9pm in preparation for a 6am start. Sigh. Season 4. They're making Clark play football. I don't get American football. It's a completely bizarre combination of macho and mincing, and I'm finding it both incomprehensible and insanely boring to watch. I say this from the point of view of someone who finds a slow, pleasant enjoyment in several arcane hours of cricket. I suppose it takes all sorts.

Wish me luck! I shall be thin on the ground for the next few days.
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Words cannot describe how bored I am with my sinuses. I regard with affectionate nostalgia the days when I used to suffer from common or garden colds. A cold! a mere set of snuffles, productive of nose-blowing and ritualistic whinging, but not actually incapacitating - those halcyon days! Now the slightest germ, such as those exotics produced in liberal quantities by (a) students flocking back from all corners of the globe at the start of term, and (b) inter-continental air travel, dives straight into my sinuses, where it starts summoning Cthulhoid Shoggoth-creatures with mad abandon, thus alerting the glandular fever virus to new, exciting opportunities to lay me low. Age, it's a bugger.

I started developing this bug on Monday, with a sore throat, suggesting I caught it off my mother. She kicked it after two days, being more or less superhuman and ridiculously healthy, and why the hell didn't I get those genes? No fair. I've been pretty much useless for any practical purpose since Tuesday, and though I'm back at work today I'm still cement-skulled, headachy and spaced. (This last may, of course, have something to do with the insomnia as much as the shoggoth-colonisation. I really find falling sleep difficult at the best of times, let alone when the inside of my skull hates me and wants me to suffer.)

However! This will not endure. Come the end of this year I'm damned well upping my medical scheme from a hospital plan to full cover, and finding one of those nice specialist people who'll go into my sinuses with something vaguely resembling the mole-creature drills from The Incredibles, and settle their hash once and for all. Which will, I hope, make for far more entertaining blog posts, if fewer opportunities for Cthulhoid references. Although to be fair some of the current outbreak may be because we played Mythos on Sunday. Can you tell we played Mythos on Sunday? (I won, mostly because [ profile] librsa wasn't counting. His deck-fu is much stronger than my deck-fu, I still get all distracted by the pretty pictures rather than the tactical value of the cards).

As a side-effect of the Cthulhoid state of my sinuses, I completely omitted to mention that my new Microfiction story is up. This was my choice of topic ("Feathers", for no adequately defined reason), and with characteristic cussedness I hated it, hated what I wrote, wrote two versions of the story and hated them both, and am still not happy with the effort I finally posted in a state of "grrrr". It was too close in theme to the first one I wrote, "Light", and what the hell's with me and flying imagery, anyway? Really, the lesson is that I shouldn't try to translate weird dreams into fiction. Or, possibly, I shouldn't try and translate weird dreams into fiction in 250 words.
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Gah. The wages of being terminally conscientious is to spend five hours on a Saturday morning in a student-record-checking meeting which, while productive, essential, illuminating and guaranteed to reduce unnecessary student angst by a small but significant amount, was solely and directly the result of your own concerned suggestion and would in the absence of such have been replaced by a distributed check failing to supply parity and oversight but taking place, importantly, during working hours.

Also, we substantially underestimated the time it would take, so that was five hours without food and only minimal tea supplies. By the last half hour I was actually hallucinating slightly: I'm damned sure the weird monkey-man on the etching immediately opposite me in the committee room turned to look at me at least once.

In other news, these crack me up. I put it down to exhaustion.

Now I shall play Zelda all afternoon, since that's where my brain's at. I'm playing Occarina of Time, which is cute, but at which I significantly suck. The bit inside the giant fish where the flailing tentacle lashes at you from the ceiling has so far killed me five times. On the upside, I get to practise my swearing.
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Nope, still no brain. This is probably (a) because it's so hot that I have a thundering headache and my chocolate stash has melted again, (b) because of cities. Bring me a cottage in the country, stat. And a new chocolate stash.

Other than that, I'm fundamentally dull.

bad horse, no biscuit

Wednesday, 27 August 2008 07:29 am
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I hope everyone by now has seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the Joss-Whedon-scripted tragi-comic web-only musical superhero parody, Now With Even More Whedons. As well as being over and off the top of the wall it's also like my new Emo Potato t-shirt, both angry and sad - I think Joss, while still Our Master Now, was possibly in a rather dark Sithish sort of place when he made it. The tunes are lovely, the actors are great (especially Nathan Fillion being a complete bastard), the Evil League of Evil is hysterical, and the movie doesn't like the world very much. Which is fine, as neither do I.

On the upside, some other evil genius has now reproduced Dr. Horrible characters as My Little Ponies. After which Making Light rewrites the lyrics and puns the hell out of them. This makes me think that there might be bits of the world I actually do like, after all.

Any angst in the above brought to you courtesy of the fact that I've just run out of chocolate biscuits, causing the day to stretch drear and waste until my 5pm date with the X-files before jo's game. On the upside, added angst practice for playing Indigo all miffed at cosmic injustice.

Last Night I Dreamed: I had crash-landed on a strange planet, where I ended up doing a quick DIY thing to replace the dodgy bathroom sink in Neil Gaiman's old Victorian house. Later I escaped from the weird ape-people in the huge hall by flying up to the anarchist commune living in the giant trees.
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One of my students has insisted on writing her vampire essay on Queen of the Dammed. This is clearly about repression on a scale I have hitherto failed to associate with Anne Rice.

Amusing student errors such as the above are somewhat necessary this afternoon, since I'm menstrual, sore and grumpy as hell, and the continual stream of more than usually lost and hopeless students is irritating me beyond belief. I shall console myself with random photography. There's an Egyptian goose sitting on a chimney on the roof opposite my window, looking somewhat morose in the rain. Every now and then it has itself an enormous conniption about somethingorother, and flaps around honking. Then it goes back to pretending it's sort of weathervane silhouette without the actual vane part.

It's always fascinated me that birds stand on one leg when they're contented. Do you think they like to keep one foot warm, or indicate their basic subliminal trust that no-one's going to sneak up and push them over?
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Hmmm. Never let the Cosmic Wossnames think you think they've cut you a break. I was rejoicing in the rain, and thinking that although there is an insane number of things I have to do before Tuesday I could just about fit it all in, and then I suddenly discovered that the guest lecture on The Wizard of Oz I thought I was giving next semester ... is on Tuesday. I have had to bribe the Nicest Ex-Supervisor In The World with gin to let me off the lecture, because? no way. I can't even find time in the next few days to watch the film, let alone think up 45 mins of intelligent things to say about it. Curse you, Cosmic Wossnames! *shakes tiny fist*

On the upside, I am onto the last chapter in these book updates, and [ profile] mac1235, ace demon evil pirate downloader, has found me a totally illegal bootleg copy of Enchanted, which I plan to watch, digest and regurtitate on Sunday, which means I may (and I whisper this behind my hand, so the Cosmic Wossnames don't hear) submit this book to deadline. I hope it has redeeming features as a movie, since my Lawful Good alignment dictates I'll have to go and buy the bloody thing as soon as the DVD is released, on account of the guilt.

Oh, and anyone who isn't yet signed up for Tor's free e-book offer? Do so at once, you dingbat. (Epithet void where prohibited by lack of sf-fandom). The recent offering is Jo Walton's Farthing, which is a totally chilling piece of alternate history - Nazi Germany takes over Europe but makes peace with Britain. Lots of proto-fascism, discrimination against Jews and gays, and period country-house-party shenanigans. Very nicely done, surprisingly enjoyable given that it's the kind of heavily political writing I usually thoroughly despise. The characters leap out and bite you. Next week's download is Tobias Bucknell, who is apparently very good indeed.

Now off to make ginormous shopping list preparatory to achieving provisions necessary for a three-course Elizabethan meal for 35, which I'm cooking tonight and tomorrow as a sort of SCA swan-song. Wish me luck!

white light, white heat

Saturday, 8 March 2008 09:15 pm
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Come to Cape Town, they say. Enjoy the climate. Hah. It's been stinkingly, horribly, unbelievably, traumatically hot for the last few of days - not only is stepping outside like immersing yourself in a nice warm bath of soup, but within no more than twenty seconds you can feel your skin start to burn. Or my skin, at any rate, mostly because I'm very pale as a result of a pathological fear of the sun. Every clear, burnished-blue afternoon the peninsula lovingly piles up big, fat, white thunderheads over the mountains, but it's just to taunt me, nothing ever comes of it. I am consequently, in addition to being horribly busy, somewhat tending to interleave mad bouts of productive activity with sessions reclining on the couch, hand to forehead, whinging in faint and die-away tones.

I finished what I fondly imagined was the last tweaking of the Gaiman/Miéville paper yesterday evening, and then incautiously went and watched the BBC Neverwhere, which gave me a whole crop of new, interesting things to say. (I loved the series, which is interestingly made and brilliantly cast, and the Marquis of Carabas is incredibly cool, although I trust I found more academic ways to say that he's hawt and I fundamentally want his coat). I'm going to have to reserve most of them for the future rewrite/expansion I'm going to have to do (and submit to a fantasy-focused journal whose readers actually know what I'm talking about), since I only have 4000 words for this paper, and am having to lop interesting limbs off arguments left, right and centre (as both my readers pointed out. Perspicacious sods).

So, paper down, and I spent the day immersed in book updates, more precisely in that mad, academic see-saw between "gosh, this is dreadful" and "gosh, this isn't half bad" which reading my own writing always engenders. The first few chapters may still be dreadful, but they're a lot less dreadful than they were this morning. Also, the Cosmic Wossnames hate me: Enchanted isn't out on DVD, and Happily N'Ever After isn't in any of the nearby video stores this evening. I may be updating this concluding chapter (fairy-tale parody) on thumb-suck, Wikipedia, and my l33t scores in Academic Bluff.

Oh, and it isn't just busyness which is making me neglect to post. Work is still flat out, but the Evil Landlord's computer is having hissy fits which cause it to reboot every five minutes, which, given that it harbours the internet connection, is playing merry hell with my connectivity. He blames my techno-jinx. He may have a point.

We Are The Dead

Thursday, 31 January 2008 04:40 pm
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All-day curriculum advice, 8.30-4. Short on sleep from jo's game last night. Two snarl-ups with the advisor schedule, one the result of some admin assistant randomly circulating last year's timetable to her dept, possibly as some kind of surrealist statement. Venue double-booking. Headache. Cramps. Overkill at the gym yesterday, so sore arms. Nonetheless, this wasn't actually a bad day - I'm dead, and planning to send the EL out for takeout while I veg in front of X-Files all evening, but fundamentally I still enjoy students and like making their lives better.

In further mitigation, we seriously kicked butt in jo's game, more than making up for the nobbling we underwent last time. Memo to self: red-hot sandstorms are really efficient. Four of us completely incapacitated an army of 100, a third of them magicians, without actually killing any of them. Score one for my new policy of wilful reasonableness.

Also, Seed. Flash game for selectively breeding plants. Fiddle with it for a bit, then paste in the code from Elizabeth Bear's Goth dahlia, and feel inadequate.
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Hah! Back in the day when I used to indoctrinate incautious first-years into the consumerist evils of Disney cartoons, the ickle firsties would never believe that Disney's primary ideological purpose was to make them go out and acquire screeds of consumerist junk. I submit in evidence this, proof positive that the young are being conditioned. "She's the pretty princess with the things." Tchah. Also pshaw. Also, beauty myth.

I am keeping my upper lip stiff and my chin up in the face of a maddening day featuring the random disappearance of my email access, owing to the ITS geeks having cottoned on two weeks late to my new job, and changed my login directory tree without changing the equivalent email one. I have about a zillion things to do, most of which entail digesting the timetable needs of academics for two separate schedules. All of this data-gathering is done by email. Also, my salary slip hasn't arrived, suggesting the usual HR hangups. Am soothing the savage beast with David Bowie. (Later period David Bowie is actually very soothing, even the cover of "Cactus". Also, is it just me, or is he doing insane self-referential injoke references in "Slip Away" by sticking the smoky background riff from "World Falls Down" over the lyric "in space it's always 1982"?).

Despite chins and lips and soothing, grrrr.

all the nobody people

Wednesday, 23 January 2008 01:26 pm
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I can do this new job. It's doable. Bits of it I'm actually good at and don't loathe. So far, though, my ability to come to terms with 9-5 admin is being severely compromised by two things.

1. Traffic. Having been a hedonistic part-timer or home researcher for fifteen years, I have a deep resentment at having to spend an hour of every day in traffic. I'm going to have to leave the house indecently early to avoid rush hour, and it bites that the lack of sleep is more desirable than the traffic experience. It seriously makes me doubt the worth of the salary.

Rush-hour traffic is the absolute epitome of everything that is wrong with twenty-first century humanity as a species. It's a selfish, narcissitic, time-wasting, annoyance-causing unnecessity, to sit stewing in our individual chunks of metal as a bracket to our daily activities. It wastes resources, causes emissions, pollutes, clogs and clutters. It's unaesthetic, but worse, it's inefficient. Anyone could design a more rational system, but we're too snarled up in the complexities and status quo of capitalism, metropolitan living and gosh-darned habit to actually implement it.

And traffic brings out absolutely the worst in human beings, who manifest extreme selfishness, impatience, pushiness, stupidity and whatever the opposite is of civic-mindedness. Traffic sucks, blows and festers in exactly the same way that human culture currently sucks, blows and festers. If a wave of a magic wand could turn all commuters everywhere into orang-utans, I'd be waving 'til my elbow cricked. Bleah.

2. Over-emotionality. I'm good at bits of this job because I fundamentally like students and empathise with their problems. Empathy can be a bugger. I've just had to lock myself into my office for ten minutes in order to cry, having heard the story from the incredibly sweet Zimbabwean student whose curriculum is a disaster area. His widowed mother committed suicide last year, leaving him the sole adult in charge of two younger siblings. He's not sure if her death was the result of the Zim situation, or family issues. He's doing his damndest to get on with life.

Actually, the traffic's not so bad.

freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
This has to be done, mostly because it made me giggle until I choked on my chocolate biscuit, causing an advice-seeking student to back away from me looking slightly wild-eyed. Ursula Vernon has more Kama Sutra hamsters.

Annoying day. I may have to give up this 6.30am gym thing, the gym is simply too crowded, and there's a clear and present danger I'll snap and bite some inoffensive circuit-user. Also, power cuts over lunch, resulting in frustration and internet withdrawal. Phooey. On the upside: Friday! I begin to appreciate this day in a way I never really did while bumming around as a part-time lecturer.

Read the second Mark Gatiss Lucifer Box story, btw. Entertaining. Madly satanic. Dodgy as all get-out. Also, "Blink", from Season 3 of Doctor Who is just as terrifying third time around, even with knitting to focus on in the creepy bits.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Bugger. Forgot to post the fact that I have an extra ticket for [ profile] wolverine_nun's PhD grad tomorrow afternoon. Anyone who's in that approximate vicinity and wants to watch her get officially zotted on her swanky cowpat hat, let me know.

Yay!, she says sarcastically, Cape Town heatwave season has started! I shall infallibly spend the next two months dragging myself around in a state of heat-stress enervation, repairing at intervals to the fainting couch to complain, weakly, of my ongoing headache. I did not evolve for this climate, dammit. I blame colonialism.

Today's particular headache, however, is probably also due to the bottle of champagne we killed earlier today at the Friendly Psychologist's slightly uproarious birthday lunch. Alternatively, it's a reaction against the sad fate of the favourite character who was apparently killed at the end of the Farscape season we finished watching this evening. Miffed about that. Joss flashbacks. The problem with any kind of series fiction is the sense of entitlement it creates in the fanatical watcher. The characters seem eternally available to parade for your enjoyment, and then the bastards yank it out from under your feet in the interests of narrative tension. Bugger narrative tension, say I.

On the upside, [ profile] dragonroost, we've finished the season, it's yours to command. Please don't trample me in your rush, I'm sluggish in this weather.

Last Night I Dreamed: that David Bowie had played the part of Spike throughout the Buffy series. This worked surprisingly well, to the point where it took me a moment to disentangle the dream from reality when I woke up.

season of the bitch

Saturday, 8 December 2007 02:48 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Not a good couple of days. Yesterday was notable for (a) heatwaves hitting Cape Town, (b) me waking up with a stiff shoulder that bit me every time I turned my head, (c) PMT in spades, and (d), as the crowing glory, the sudden random wiggins of my computer monitor, leading inevitably to (e), internet withdrawal. I really do get seriously grumpy when I can't check e-mail or blogs. It's like someone randomly stuck me in a sensory deprivation chamber. I feel as though there's a whole universe out there, taunting me with its inaccessibility.

So, I've not really been a creature of sweetness and light lately. Champagne at Naga's birthday bash helped, though, as did fabric shopping. And I'm typing this on my own computer with the Evil Landlord's old monitor, which is fine except that the damned thing is a hulking leviathan that squats evilly on about two-thirds of my desk space, which is giving me acute claustrophobia. I really was very spoiled with the flat-screen. However, since the flatscreen is currently given to going black and evincing floaty box messages about incorrect settings every time I do anything graphics intensive, I guess I'm just going to have to deal with it.



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