Thursday, March 08, 2018

Thursday morning random

* Still not sleeping all that well. I am guessing it's allergies. It's been VERY bad here; right now I have a sore throat which I am 95% sure is allergies. I keep getting something like a mildew smell in my living room so I'm going to have to see if a leak happened somewhere or what. (Sigh)

At least I don't have afternoon lab, which means I will be able to go home for lunch and have a proper cup of tea, which is one of those little things that keeps me going through the morning.

* I must have pulled my left deltoid working out Tuesday. It was VERY sore yesterday, and at one point yesterday afternoon I was afraid I'd be unable to lift the arm enough and manipulate it right to get the pullover sweater off, and I was wondering what I could do if I couldn't. (It was a hand knit sweater so cutting it off - which I would have considered had it been a v. old t-shirt- was out of the question). The biggest issue was that it was stiff, or the pain made it stiff - I couldn't quite get it to do what it wants.

It's some better this morning (I put heat on it last night) but I think maybe I take a second rest-day from exercising just to be sure. (The dvd I used Tuesday afternoon as some pretty tough moves for the arms on it, and I can tell I get sore if I overdo things).

* I'm already feeling some apprehension about the memorial service on Saturday. First, it will just be a long day (I am helping out with the lunch, and suspect I will be on tap for the reception AFTER the graveside part of things). The other thing is that I still find myself caught up sad at odd moments and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be a teary mess. (The worst part of this is the suddenness, the fact that I'm having to rearrange my brain to have this person gone from my life now rather than having had time - as I did with a lot of the previous losses, when the person was old or ill and I had kind of pre-mourned them). Also just the fact that pretty much the whole day will be gone due to that, and I find more and more I desperately need the weekend time to be alone and to recover.

I'm still doing it though; it's important to me to help out at things like this. It's just I know I will pay for it next week.

* I'm working a bit on another one of those "multidirectional diagonal scarf" things out of one of those "multicolor cake rolls" of yarn. (Several different companies have these now). The color changes are slow enough the scarf will be blocky instead of stripy (it will probably look like this one but the yarn I am using is peach/white/pink/orange instead of the colors there.

I guess these "yarn cake" things are this year's version of that "ruffle scarf yarn" that was hot a couple years ago. (These are a bit more useful, at least, in that you can make other things of them).

It's just kind of interesting how EVERYTHING seems to have its trendiness. Are we all really that jaded that we need companies coming up with new fads so we buy stuff? I would honestly prefer to have just good sources of basic, mostly-or-all natural-fiber yarn in fingering, dk, and worsted weight. (DK weight, in particular, is tough to find without going to a specialty yarn shop. Fingering is tough to find, too, which is surprising given that in our warm climate it probably makes more sense. But then again: few of the "mass market" yarn companies make it, at least at a sufficiently-cheap price point that big-box craft stores (what I mostly have access to) stock it...)

(Thought: Amazon is popping up brick-and-mortar shops. I kind of wish KnitPicks were big enough and enough of an octopus to be able to do that. Of course, if they did, it would just be in the big wealthy cities, most likely).

* Then again: I do need to work from stash for a good long time now. (Both to reduce the size of the stash, and to keep myself from spending money: I have a goal now of trying to put AT LEAST $100 a month from what's left of my take-home pay back in my savings account to build it back up. Because my current car, while it's in good shape now, is 8 years old and it won't last forever, and I vastly prefer trying to pay cash as much as possible rather than doing "financing" and having a monthly bill - I do think my next car will be a "pre-owned," one simply for the cost savings, but still. And yes, I know $100 sounds like not much but I'm going to try that as a basement value.)

* And yes, I know, there are a lot of little places where I could cut back - dropping some of the add-on packages I have with cable. (But then again: If I want TCM, I have to have the movie package, which is the main one I do). And the $4 a month or whatever to Pandora.

I don't know. It's a hard calculus: do you give up all the little things that make day to day life more pleasant and tolerable with the vague hope of saving up enough for a big thing in the future? (I can see why people rail about "poor people" spending money on lottery tickets and the like, and people snapping back about it. I'm sure a financial advisor would look at my life and come up with a long list of petty oeconomies that I could tack on ON TOP OF rarely eating restaurant meals, and carrying my lunch to work, and doing my own yardwork....and it's really hard to know. I know I spend money in ways my dad would say was wasteful....but then again there are things he had that I do not have, and I feel like the $4 or $5 expense a month to stream classical music into my office (without having to deal with the vagaries of over-the-Net radio stations - been there, done that, got burned out on the NPR pledge drives) is a small price to pay for blocking noise from the hall or keeping myself happier.

* Today is International Women's Day. My main joke was: can I have today off to sleep, because I am tired? But I do admit it seems like oh, so many things, it's turning into a marketing opportunity: I saw people on Twitter commenting on how they got many advertising e-mails (apparently moreso if you're a woman in tech; I haven't seen any yet but I'm just lowly academic biology).

And I noticed that Sonic has - perhaps debuted today, I don't know - a new pair of spokesdoofuses, this time a couple of women to play off the two men they've used for years. (Yes, I suppose you could argue that the fact that the women in the ad come off, like the guys, as Not Too Bright is probably a blow for equality, but it still seems bad optics to me - if they indeed debuted the ad today - to go "Hey, ladies! It's International Women's Day so we made a couple of commercials with women in them!")

Are we gonna, in a few years, see "international women's day" mattress sales? 'Cos that's where these things seem to go. (Presidents' Day car at with an "instrumental rap" version of Hail to the Chief was one of the most annoying ones I remember)

I dunno. Where I am, I feel like I'm treated pretty fairly given my gender. The main "unfairnesses" seem to be things women and men mostly bear equally (Though I do seem to be the one who fills the printer with paper more often than not). The biggest issues I've had with being a traditionally-feminine-presenting woman have been a few students who came from backgrounds where they seemed unable to take me seriously because I was wearing jewelry and a skirt. But I see that less as a "structural problem" and more as "individual whose parents didn't teach him right"

And yeah, "unfairnesses" - I was just thinking this morning about all the additional things I am asked to do as a prof (the latest being a rather....not the best tone, to be polite....e-mail fundamentally saying "if you teach online at all*, you should really also be recorded and videoed and put that up on the site for people who learn differently" along with the patronizing reminder that only a small subset of the population has Ph.D.s** and we learn differently (and therefore, I presume, are Privileged) and so, we need to bend over backwards more....)

(*not clear if it applies to those of us who use the course management software merely as a parking space for handouts and the like, but I have had students ask me, "Can't you type up what you say in class and distribute it to us" and I am just like "they don't pay me enough, they really don't ")

(** Big point here: many of our people who teach online have terminal Master's, so this is doubly insulting)

And also all of the recordkeeping and reminders and the basically buoying people up so they don't sink, when I was just kinda thrown into the water and told "swim, damn you."

And granted, yes: I recognize I came from a different background; my parents drummed into me information about keeping up with my grades and knowing due dates and all of that, and not all of our students have that blessing in their lives. BUT. I am tired, and it seems like every semester there are more things I am asked to juggle and I really wonder where the point comes where it dawns on someone in some office somewhere that the faculty are, you know, being asked to do, you know, and awful lot beyond teaching and research, and, you know, maybe that's partly why morale is relatively low ESPECIALLY GIVEN that most of us have seen the erosion in our income relative to inflation over the past no-raise years....And I get that times are hard, but it does really feel at times like I'm being asked to do six impossible things before breakfast (to paraphrase Humpty Dumpty....)

But yeah, I don't feel as hard-done-by on my campus as some women apparently do on theirs, so, go us, I guess?


Edited to add:

Behold, one of the weirder e-mails I have ever sent (out to my department):

"Hi all,

Someone has left several hard boiled (?) eggs in the fridge in room 232. They seem to have been in there for quite a while (I am not sure if they are the same eggs, or different eggs every day).

Please let me know ASAP if they are yours. Because otherwise, I’m going to assume they are abandoned, and toss them."

Yeah. There's been a plastic "resealable" box with four or five eggs (I think, but am not sure, that they are hard-boiled) sitting in the minifridge where I stow my lunch. They've been there for weeks. At first I thought it was my colleague on a low-carb diet just bringing in a very repetitive lunch every day, but then I finally asked him and no, they are not his. So I asked other colleague who sometimes uses that fridge - no, they are not his.

I asked: could they have been Visiting Scholar's? (who has since gone back to his home country). One colleague said "Unlikely, they are in plastic and given his research into cancer and cells he is very compulsive about only using glass."

So I don't know.

So I sent out the e-mail.

But I will say that it strikes me that the line "I am not sure if they are the same eggs, or different eggs every day" is SUCH a metaphor for my life right now, it actually seems rather poetic to me.


And I picked up trash around my yard. Yeah, someone on my street (I am suspicious of the new renters at the end of the street) has begun throwing Monster cans and fast-food trash and used (non-winning) lottery tickets around (I didn't even know Oklahoma still HAD a lottery....fat lot of good it's doing education, but then every lottery that's claimed to be "for education" has been a giant scam, as far as I can see). A lot of it wound up in my yard. Either they parked and threw the stuff out (Hm. I saw a big pickup truck sitting out in front of my house the other night) or it blew there.

I picked it up because I'm a good citizen, but it makes me very unhappy. It's just another example of additional labor that people who are already working hard and are trying to do things right have to do on behalf of other people who don't.

(And the fundamental double standard: if I did not pick it up, and a lot accumulated? The city would come after ME, even though it is not my trash).

I don't know. I'm sure a lot of this is courtesy of my allergies being bad, and me being tired and sad for other reasons, but it does seem, more and more, that more work is heaped on the people already working hard. I don't see any other path though than to continue to pick up the stupid trash. (Though if it keeps up? I might get a little yard sign made up saying, "I don't appreciate having to pick up after other people, please find a trash can instead of throwing your stuff here" but knowing humanity, that would probably triple the amount of trash in my yard). The real answer is probably moving waaaaaaay out into the country where no one ever goes. (More and more I think about that, even as I am in no place to be able to afford such a thing - one of the renters at ANOTHER house in my neighborhood has bought a loud motorcycle. That crew is, as far as I can tell, fundamentally OK, but the motorcycle feels like a bridge too far - he leaves it idling out on the sidewalk for long periods in the evening and I KNOW I am not the only one bugged by it as their immediate neighbor has gone to talk to them about it.)

I don't know. It does feel like either the social contract has been broken of late, or I lived in such a bubble before I didn't see how it was broken: for example, litter. If I had thrown something out of a moving car, my dad either would have (if it was on a safe residential street) stopped, made me get out, walk back to the trash, pick it up, walked back to the car with it, and then been in trouble when I got home or, if it were on an unsafe highway, I would have been in even BIGGER trouble when I got home. (Not that I ever tried it, I just assume). But now, where I live, lots of people just pitch trash out of their cars, don't say anything if their kids do it - and expect the "little people" to pick it up.

(Which is ironic, given the "Leona Helmsley" meaning of that word - there is NO ONE in my town who isn't, by her financial standards, a "little person.")

And noise, also: NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOUR MUSIC LOUD LATE AT NIGHT. And yet, people think it's fine to park their cars in their drive in the warm months with the radio going loud at 10, 11 pm.

I don't know. Maybe I'm getting old but it feels like a lot of the rules I was raised with - pick up after yourself, don't be loud enough to disturb others, and so forth - seem to have gone out the window and I'm the only one who follows them, and yet, I suffer from the people who don't. (Noise, and having to pick trash out of my yard)

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