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Wow, I kind of forgot to make one of these posts for a while, didn't I? I knocked my sleep schedule out of whack midway through and got stuck in a rut where I am a little too brain-fried to be productive and instead spend hours surfing the internet and not getting to bed early enough to fix the sleep debt problem. But I think I may finally have started wrenching myself back into a more useful schedule as of last night. *crosses fingers*

Anyway, stuff!

1. Took my weekly vegetable photos and posted them. Also applied some MiracleGro.

2. Made my weekly Facebook update post.

3. Finished reading Marie Brennan's Within the Sanctuary of Wings (which I enjoyed a lot -- I really do think the Memoirs of Lady Trent series gets better as it goes on, and I'm sad to see it finished) and returned it to the library.

more items under the cut )

15. Finally pinned down a meeting time with the DRE to talk about Youth Group activities this summer and in the 2017-18 year. Unfortunately, because we kept getting distracted and I will be gone for a while, the meeting isn't until July 2, but hey, at least we now have a time and date.

16. Took my trash bin to the curb for pickup.

17. Took recycling bins to the curb for pickup.

And that is that.
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1. Started making paper fruit for a new counter display at the rental office -- by which I mean I chose line art from online, copypasted it into Word documents (and resized and tweaked until I had about six iterations per page), and printed it out on colored paper. Miss Cactus already started cutting some of them out and adding detail with thin-point Sharpie pens. I am not sure whether I will arrive on Tuesday to a finished display, or whether I will get to do some cutting and coloring myself during any slow periods.

2. Acquired a new houseplant. See, a tenant couldn't bring the plant with them to their new apartment, but felt bad throwing a living thing away, so they brought it to the office and asked if we wanted it. I said yes. I then transplanted it from the dinky plastic store pot into the slightly larger ceramic pot the tenant had been using purely as decoration because apparently transplanting is hard. *sigh* Anyway, hopefully I will manage not to kill it.

3. Put three nails into one side of my oldest bookcase, to hold parts of my paperclip collection. (Context: I string paperclips in chains of ten onto keyrings, 25 chains per ring, and then hang them up for display. All the paperclips must be 'found' items -- I can't purposely buy them -- which is why it has taken me literally twenty years to collect a thousand paperclips. Well. A thousand and three, as of Saturday.)

more items under the cut )

18. Called Vicky and caught up for an hour or so. :)

19. Chopped onions, summer squash, and a large bell pepper and made a batch of veggie sidedish. Tomorrow I intend to bake some chicken.

All in all, I think it was a fairly productive weekend.
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1. Attended church, which was a special service with sermon and music by Samite Mulondo, the founder of Musicians for World Harmony.

2. Coffee hour cleanup.

3. Made my weekly Facebook update post.

4. Changed linens. Given the weather, I decided NOT to do the winter-to-summer swap. (I want spring back!)

more items under the cut )

18. I seem to have forgotten to mention this in my last few 'stuff done' posts, perhaps because it hasn't been on any of my to-do lists? Well, anyway, I have been reading (in bits and pieces, between other things) the Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I ended up starting with book two, The Tropic of Serpents, because I had to order book one via interlibrary loan and I am impatient. I then moved right on to book three, The Voyage of the Basilisk, which I just finished tonight.

They are fun books! I wouldn't call them deep literature, but they are a pleasure to read -- both in terms of the characters and plots, in terms of the worldbuilding (which is genuine world-building rather than region-building, and thought-out to a degree more writers should aspire to), and in terms of the actual writing, which manages to be smoothly invisible in service of the story despite having a distinctive first-person narrative voice. That is a neat trick, and I wish I could pinpoint how Brennan pulls it off.

Anyway, I have jumped back to start book one, A Natural History of Dragons, and I expect I'll make some reasonable progress on that during slow periods at work tomorrow. :)
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1. I had an appointment to give blood today, but alas, I was temporarily deferred.

The Red Cross won't take your blood unless you have a hemoglobin level of 12.5g/dL (which I think is grams per deciliter?), and today my hemoglobin was at about 11.9. *sigh* Apparently the normal hemoglobin range for women is 12.1-15.1, so I am actually slightly medically anemic at the moment, though not seriously so.

This has happened to me before, and was one of the reasons I stopped donating blood for many years. It has never had any noticeable effect on my actual energy level or health, and in fact can be easily countered by eating a roast beef sandwich (preferably with spinach instead of lettuce) at lunch for at least three days running before a donation appointment.

Unfortunately, I only scheduled this appointment two days ago, so I didn't have time to do the sandwich trick. *deeper sigh*

I'll try again in a few weeks.

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2. In other news, I did pass my first college class, though not with a particularly good final grade. Ah well. I did learn a lot -- both the actual course material, and more practical things like what I need to do to get course readings done on time, and how to participate in online discussions. My next class will go better. *resolve face*

And on that note... my next class has, in fact, already started! It's divided into six modules. Module one was the intro week, which is finished. Module two lasts three weeks: the first is mostly for reading, and the latter two are for discussion and a project. I've been doing the reading at the public library once again (and also at the grocery store and on the bus to and from Not the IRS) since that worked well for the previous class.

The class topic is the history and culture of Pacific Asia. I am not wildly enamored of the main textbook -- it's seventeen years old, which is okay for history but kind of worrying in cultural studies, especially cultural studies with a contemporary slant -- but I'm trying to treat it as a historical document. We will also have to read a novel (from an approved list of five choices) and watch a film (possibly of our own choice, though there is also a list of suggestions) for various future modules. I decided not to purchase any of the novels, since three of them are readily available through interlibrary loan and really, why spend the money when I don't have to?

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3. I did finish the preliminary edits on the Jade/Dave/Terezi crossdressing porn story (tentatively titled "The Law of Conservation of Mangrit," for lack of any better ideas) and have sent it to a kind volunteer for beta. Hopefully I'll have it back, tidied up, and posted within... oh, let's say two weeks.

In the meantime, I should probably work on some other things. *ponders WIP backlog*
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I wrote and submitted the fourth and last essay of my economic history class today. (By which I mean Wednesday. It is still Wednesday until I go to bed.) Tomorrow or Friday I need to submit my "learning journal," which is basically a written collection of stuff I thought about during the course; it's part of the participation score. And then I will be done.

I find it amusing that out of four essay topics, I spent one essentially saying, "Your topic question is badly ambiguous, so I will start by defining how I use the two terms under discussion and go from there," and another saying, "A single event that dominated a country's economic history for eighty years? I don't think that's how history and economics work, so I will talk about a policy instead." (The former got me a really good score, incidentally. We shall see about the latter.)

Registration is now open for the March term. I need to look through the course catalog in an organized fashion and pick something to spend my next four months on. Because you know what? Learning is pretty fun.

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On a random note, I have enjoyed one of my current textbooks (The Age of Extremes) so much that I borrowed three other books by the same historian (Eric Hobsbawm) from my dad, who had them around in the basement. I'm not sure if he had them as background reference material for when he taught British history at Drew back before I was born, if he had them as background reference material for the social conditions in which the history of science and technology occurred, or if he had them just because they're a good collective general history of the long 19th century, a concept Hobsbawm seems to have originated.

So that's something I'm going to be reading in the near future. :-)
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Today was going to be a day of looking through the course catalog to choose options for next term, and then emailing my advisor to discuss those options and also how to put together a degree program... but my internet connection has been down since midnight last night. *headdesk*

There is only so much a person can do from a phone and one hour on a public library computer, you know?

Oh well, at least I have been putting the time to other productive uses, such as getting through my reading for module 4 of my current class. We have hardly any economic theory this time around -- just a bit of Keynes, not even any Friedman (which I think is a strange choice, but whatever) -- so it's going much faster. History is a delight to me, even when it gets into "let's speculate about the future from our vantage point of 1987!!!" territory and is thus unintentionally hilarious. :-)

(To be fair, the author admits up front that if he's right about any of his predictions, it will be because he's lucky, not because he's good -- the only certainty is that events have a way of disrupting trends and certainties -- but 1987 was a particularly bad time for prophecies, considering just how dramatically events were going to change over the next five years.)

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In other news, I got a haircut. Yay no more hair in my eyes or doing that annoying flippy thing on the back of my neck!
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1. I have a general idea of what I want to do for my Ladystuck fic -- by which I mean I have a scenario -- but I don't yet have a plot, and I don't want to start writing until I have an idea of what is going to happen, however vague it may be. That way lies nothing but madness and frustration. So I've been tossing potentialities up in the air since Monday, and presumably they will land in a usable configuration within another day or two.

In the meantime, I've been working a little more on that still-untitled Jade/Dave/Terezi crossdressing porn thing that I've been picking at off and of for a long time now. It's currently 13,200 words in rough draft, I got past one logistical logjam in the actual sex part of the fic, and now I just have... well, the rest of the sex, and then some kind of winding-down scene, which shouldn't take nearly as long because winding-down stuff is vastly easier to write than explicit threesome porn. *sigh*

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2. In other news, there seems to have been some miscommunication with my new part-time job, since they haven't contacted me with a schedule and I can't access the scheduling app on their website to either list my availability or check if I have been scheduled, and if so, where and when I should be showing up. I sent an email to the person who ran the training sessions in December but have not heard back yet. If she doesn't respond tomorrow, I will have to try a phone call.

I HATE making cold phone calls without a standard script. But it will only get worse the longer I put it off, right? Right. So that's tomorrow's big willpower-eating activity.

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3. In other other news, I have one reading left for this module of my college course -- forty pages of Karl Marx, oh joy -- after which I can start working on the assigned essay. Today I got through about thirty-five pages of John Stuart Mill, which was actually much less trouble than I thought it might be. Of course, that's because only the first half of the assigned excerpts were properly on economics (international trade, to be specific), while the second half was really political theory about what situations might legitimately require government rather than private intervention.

I will probably have to sign up for a class or two in the next term within a month. I should look through the course catalog and talk to my adviser...
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In my various attempts at academic learning, the only thing that straight-up defeated me was visualizing stereoisomers in organic chemistry. A few other things could take a lot of time and concentration, but that was the only one I flat out could not do. And there isn't a good mathematical workaround, which is annoying. I wasn't great at visualizing inorganic quantum chemistry operations, either, but you can do that stuff with numbers and matrices, and math makes sense.

But enough tangents.

The point is that I am now damned glad I never decided to major in economics, because apparently I can't read more than about twenty-five pages of economic theory at a go without putting myself to sleep. Literally. I mean, this afternoon I was nearing the end of an excerpt from Malthus's work on political economy, and he mentioned the word "clogs" -- as in, things that obstruct a smooth rate of flow -- and I drifted off into a vivid hallucination of reading a paragraph wherein he began ranting about shoemakers. It was illustrated, too, with a very nice green ink line drawing of him hurling a wooden shoe beyond the drawn frame of his portrait.

...

I took a five minute nap after finishing that excerpt and before starting on the next one.
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News flash: essays are still a giant pain to write, and I am still terrible at time management. On the other hand, I have worked in one non-assigned source to support my arguments, which should make me look at least vaguely proactive and stuff. (I happened to take a course on the intertwined effects of technological development and economic development a decade ago, and still own those textbooks. Turns out they're kind of relevant to a course on economic history -- shocking, I know! *removes tongue from cheek*)

Right, back to talking about trade and war and stuff. *sigh*

ETA, 10pm: Essay finished and submitted! (I got a pretty decent grade on the first essay, which is reassuring considering I wrote it in one afternoon-and-evening. This second essay was written in one evening, which is progress of a sort -- I am reteaching myself how to do academic writing at a reasonable speed. Now I need to reteach myself how to pull my arguments and citations together a couple days ahead of the deadline, and do better about participating in discussions.)
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December 4: your feelings about returning to college (for Mom) [Tumblr crosspost]

Mixed. Very mixed.

My first attempt (attempts?) at college was not a good time in my life in many ways. In retrospect, I am fairly sure I was already suffering from periodic clinical depression in high school, but the symptoms were masked by circumstance: namely, I was surrounded daily by family and/or friends I'd known for years, who tended to pull and push me into more or less keeping on top of my life even when my brain was on strike. I didn't have that support system at Cornell, and it's very easy to fall through the cracks at a large university. Which I did.

So returning to college, in any form, was always going to dredge up a lot of negative associations. I still find myself being avoidant about signing onto the online classroom system sometimes, and have to give myself a metaphorical shake by the scruff of the neck until I work through that.

On the other hand, this is something I'm doing by and for myself, and there's a sense of accomplishment in just having applied and registered and so on, since I avoided doing even that much for years. And I like learning, plus writing essays is a good way to reinforce stuff that I've read -- explaining things to other people helps solidify one's own ideas and understanding -- so those parts are fun, if occasionally a bit tedious.

It's been interesting finding my feet in an online learning environment. I think in some ways I would have done better in a physical classroom; that would have put more structure on my life, which would have been helpful since I'm bad at time-management outside of a work environment. On the other hand, the flexibility is nice...

I've discovered that I am bad at reading textbooks in my own apartment; I get distracted far too easily. During the first module of the course, I wound up doing a bunch of my reading at the grocery store. I would literally drive there to go shopping, buy a slice of pizza at the takeout counter, and sit and read about economic history for an hour, surrounded by canned pop music and store announcements. It was ridiculous. So for the second module, I've started carting my textbooks to the public library and getting my reading done there, which has been working nicely.

I don't think I'm going to do excellently in this class -- middling to good seems to be where I'm headed, since I was awfully wobbly in the first module -- but I've officially cut myself some slack on that front. I am taking this course to re-teach myself how to be a student as much as to learn the actual subject material. (Though I am definitely keeping three of the textbooks, because you never know when things will come in handy as background material for fiction.)

Next semester, I will be more confident in what I'm doing, and will push myself for better grades. :-)

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December Talking Meme: All Days

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Elizabeth Culmer

June 2017

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