Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another letter to the school paper!

Speaking about money issues, this school does not go out of its way to be accessible to students with disabilities.

The elevator in Dunn is still broken, the 3rd floor is still inaccessible, and Dunn has some very steep, vertigo-inducing stairs.

Today, I was in Jones, luckily only on the first floor. Because their ONE elevator is broken as well. They say it may be fixed by next week, but it shouldn't be broken with no alternatives.

Too many buildings on campus have just one old elevator. The dorms aren't much better - in Richardson, one is constantly broken and there have been times when both are broken.

Last week, I was in the brand new waste of money called the UC, and the big glass elevators in the center were, you guessed it, broken. There are others in the UC, making it an exception. Too bad we don't have class there.

One thing we must do in addition to fixing the elevators in Dunn and Jones is adding a second one. Do you know what it's like to feel stranded because the elevator is broken and you're in too much pain to walk down 3 dizzy flights of stairs?

Also, the school does not help those with mobility issues who do not need a wheelchair. Sometimes, I cannot walk because of my pain. But if it's before 6pm and I need to get to class, I'm SOL.

Finally, people who park in front of the curb cuts are not disciplined enough, because they keep doing it. They are so important they can just impede a person's progress because they couldn't be bothered to find a legal parking spot?

This school's priorities disgust me sometimes.

Dunn's second floor is accessible through the building next door, but it doesn't really help me when I'm trying to conserve energy and move as little as possible, because I have to walk the length of the psych building twice.

I'll let you know if there's a response.

There's been some recent back and forth - a student wrote in decrying the waste of money that is the UC (and more proposed renovations - but only for dining stuff, because it's from Aramark so the money can't be used in a sensible way) and the lack of books in the campus library. An official wrote back (in the paper) saying, Aramark blah blah we do our best go Tigers. Another student's letter was published today saying, essentially, So? We don't pay our professors well, we don't use our money wisely.

I wonder if mine will be published.

ETA: I got a call on my (now MIA) phone today. The letter won't be published.

Because they're doing an article on the subject. Parts of my letter will be used in the article, along with the short phone conversation.


ETA2: Paper's out. The letter is printed. But someone did call me, and my phone number isn't on my FB or anything, it was with the letter form. Maybe they didn't have room, who knows?

Some culture

I have to give a presentation tomorrow on something related to 18th century France. Last time it was 17th century France and I did architecture and discovered I loved making powerpoints. I wish I could go back to all the classes I've had where I could have used a powerpoint and make them! So much fun. I am easily amused.

Anyways, I'm doing it on a rococo style painter, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun. Yes, she was a female painter. She painted men as well as women for portraits, and did a few of Marie Antoinette.

But my favorite painting is this one:

It's a painting of an actress called Giuseppina Grassini. I just love this painting.

Another piece of art I fell in love with this weekend while studying is the Minoan Snake Goddess.

I am going to try to get a color copy of the painting and maybe a reproduction of the snake goddess? The school only prints in black and white and rococo is about pastels, soft colors, so some of the beauty would be lost in translation.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another aggravating school thing.

Though it doesn't make me angry because it's not shaming anyone.

Another fail that really grates (and I've never even taken a stats class!) are announcements and posters and boxes in the school paper about a survey, which shows that most Tigers don't drink to excess or smoke pot, basically that we are good kids and value our education and bodies. Except they put the number up on the signs saying "80 odd percent don't binge drink" and it's not even 1000 people. Our undergrad student body, according to wiki, is around 15,000 people. Grad students? 5,000. A tenth would be around 2000 people, and they didn't even get 900! And it would have been very easy to widen the net - we all have school e-mails and there are campus wide e-mails on a regular basis. Not everyone would respond, but it would probably be more than 800 odd students! Or maybe they truly got a random sample and didn't even need 1000 students. I guess it would take time to calculate all the answers. Perhaps they need money to do a yearly survey of students' alcohol and drug habits.

And we're broke.

"Long meals make (for) short lives."

I'm not sure on the exact wording, but I know it included "long meals" and "short lives". I don't remember if it was "Long meals make short lives" or "Long meals make for short lives."

Both on google turn up cookbooks and stuff on hair.

No picture. Hmm, I could take my laptop and lift the offending napkin holder up to its computer, but the place where I saw it is closed today and they may have removed it.

Basically, they used to insert ads for stuff on campus, especially food, on the sides of a the napkin holders. But now it's all "healthy" BS - stop eating you fattie, get healthy.

The quote is attributed to nobody but "a proverb." No sources!

Anyways, even if I could find said "proverb," I'd still be mad at the fat-shaming and food policing.

But what gets me - and makes me write a blog post about it - is that it makes no damn sense at all, outside of guilting fat students, thin ones, "average ones", and makes us really think about our food.

I like food because it tastes good and fills me up, and sometimes when I eat within 30 minutes of a pain pill, it helps the medication work better. The food also keeps me alive, as it does for everyone. Certain foods don't, depending on allergies or whatever, but we need food for living. Even zombies eat!

Anyway, here are the problems with the "proverb" -

No country or time given, so I assume it was a diet guru who said it.

When  proverbs were written or said, most people did not have access to excess food. It's only recently in human history that all classes can eat to gluttony. (While the relatively rich people of the world starve themselves.) And it's not even true across the world, or the country, or my state, my county, my city - I'm sorry, people have "food insecurity."

And mealtimes have long been considered important for socialization - and not just with the nuclear family. It's a way to schmooze, get free food (as a guest), get to know people, make business/political connections (even back in Roman/Greek times). Mealtimes are important.

"Long" meals are important as well. When my family (after the divorce, when he was still there it was compulsory. If he showed up, we'd all scramble to make it look like we never left the table.) eats at the table, be it at home or at a restaurant, we take longer than when mom makes a pot of delicious mac and cheese and we come and go as we please. We talk about things. That is considered a good thing, especially as your children get older. It's a way to connect and be a family. Of course, it's not the only way, but it's a good routine way, and I think calling it bad is just wrong. And then there's dinner with friends or extended family, the plates are empty, but who cares, we're busy yakking.

Another thing that makes a meal "long" is taking your time, which is often encouraged for a number of reasons, but I'm sure it's been encouraged as a way to lose weight, because everything you do either makes you gain weight and become a bad person or makes you lose weight and become a good one.

The so-called proverb makes no damn sense if you think about it, which I believe we're supposed to do. FAIL

ETA - do check out The Fat Nutritionist website.

ETA2 - I saw it again, and I was totally wrong. "To lengthen your life, shorten your meals." Google turned up nothing, with "to lengthen your life" - except 7 foods to lengthen your life.

ETA3 - looking it up with the quotation marks turned it up, but no source besides "proverb." The first result - not linking to such a hate-filled site, is called
"Weight loss with your food addiction" And it's under "diet" quotes and proverbs, but no damn source, country, or time.

So I was wrong about the quote, they did find it somewhere, but the analysis still stands. It's bullshit.

A little pain anecdote

It's only painful for you because my writing is so bad.

So last week, I did a lot of work to make sure I'd be comfortable while watching Chandni Chowk to China. I know, all the work for an Akshay Kumar action movie that was panned? (Well, I enjoyed it.) I had to show gori Bollywood support.

The undoubtedly busy and overworked SAC (student activities council, I think) offered to bring in a different chair when the movie would be screened in a meeting room with uncomfortable looking chairs (it was locked, so all I saw were straight backed misery makers), and to take PICTURES of said chairs and e-mail them to me, to make sure they were okay. The movie was moved to a theater, but they still sent pictures.

The movie was at 7 and Tiger Patrol starts at 6pm. Tiger Patrol is for safety - they run from 6pm until 2am. I wish they were 24/7 or 24/5, but I'm sure it has to do with money. You can walk with someone (safety in numbers, I guess) or ride on a golf cart. The previous times I've used Tiger Patrol, I've always ridden in a cart. So I called them after 6, asking if I could be guaranteed a golf cart, because it hurt too much to walk.

"If it hurts, shouldn't you call an ambulance?"


"It's chronic, blah blah blah."

So I rode in a golf cart.

Also, always timely, I was thinking about those full body scanners at airports as part of security theater. They just see through your clothes, not through your body, and no one's stuffed stuff up orifices. Once the butt plug bomber tries (and fails), they'll add in full-on X-rays. Something embarrassing? It can't see through fat folds, so I could stick a plastic knife in my bra and it would be hidden under my boobs.

On a personal level, I don't care, I will fly naked, just let me read my book and listen to my music. I really love flying - it's so much fun once you're up there. (I want to visit a nudist colony or resort.)

On a more rational holy shit what is wrong with this country, I oppose them and will go through the longer metal detector line.

Why don't I give a damn?

Because when I was 15, I had a hideous skin infection on my butt. MY BUTT. And my dermatologist was an old man. And if I wore clothes below the waist, they were ruined. And there were some doubters (dad and/or his mom) who had to see. "Come see the living infection!" Too bad mom didn't charge them for a peek. I was also on heavy painkillers so I didn't care.

The first time I was on painkillers was post thyroid removal. So this was the first time I was on them for more than a week or so and I wasn't used to them like I am now, which involves changing meds and increasing dosages and worries about addiction until holy shit it hurts I am going to rip the lamp from the wall - I don't know why lately that has been my desire when the pain grabs my by the stomach and won't let go, I wrap my fingers around the edge. I mean, I get holding onto my head or rubbing my eyebrows so much they hurt later, well not really, but sometimes the pain makes me all Hulk-y.

Anyway, I'm pretty blase about people seeing my body. To my sister's chagrin. I have shorts that are just longer than underwear that I never wear anywhere and only wear when I'm hot (oh that narrows it down) but does she want me sitting around in just my panties? And why are panties so much more scandalous than a bathing suit bottom? Eh, I tried swimming in the hotel pool this summer and realized I couldn't because I still use my fingers to plug my nose and there's a piercing in the way. Oh well, less chances to turn into a lobster.

Sunburn! Tore my back up but good in June 04. The first real day of vay-cay, we're at the beach, settled into the condo, I'm playing and having so much fun until little Miss Kill Joy shrieks at me, "Kaitlyn you're so RED!" Suddenly, PAIN!!!! Salt water, sand help help help. So I spent most of the days with no top on and later with no bra on under a big loose shirt.

Just no shame, whatsoever.

Oh, after spring break, I talked to a girl whose hand was burnt, but only on the top and it stopped below her wrist in a sharp line. When I asked how that happened, she said she forgot to put sunscreen on it. Needless to say, I put sunscreen on, but never enough and never often enough so the first day of any swimming/outdoors summer thing ends with me burnt to a crisp. The next day, if it's not too bad, I can swim with a t-shirt on, like I did at camp. Ooh, sunburn while camping - fun. Actually, the sleeping bags made of nylon (smooth, like a windbreaker or something) rather than warm cloth ones actually felt nice. I remember lying with nothing on my back (in the tent of course!) with my back against the sleeping bag. It helped some, but waking up in a ball in the corner never did. (I'd fall asleep on the air mattress but rarely wake up there.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Just a short Friday post

I am in love with the TV show Dexter. So addictive and so good.

Yet another show where I sympathize with people I loathe - cops.

The first 2 seasons are streaming on Netflix, and somebody mentioned it on another website, so I was like what the hey, just watch the pilot, if you hate it, no matter. But no it was a cliffhanger. So I had to watch the next one!

I'll always watch it on DVD, because it's not on basic cable. What is on basic cable is Mad Men. The DVDs are available, but I wish at least the pilot was streaming, so I could know if I wanted to watch it. I don't want to jump in, and since I don't watch AMC, I don't see the promos.

Couple of things I like about the show, like a lot:

They're in Miami. They sweat. Maybe they film there (don't want to look up too much - only four episodes in, while I don't mind a movie being spoiled, I'm not ready for a TV show spoiler!) and it's natural. Or maybe they're spritzed with cold water before a shoot. Either way, it's realistic.

Another realistic part - Dexter is a CSI. But he doesn't go around solving crimes - the cops and detectives do. The cop parts seem very realistic - dull assignments, office politics. Not what you see on CSI unless an actor is quitting. (I don't watch CSI that much and have abandoned the L&Os.)

Finally - Dexter is adopted. He does call his dad by his first name sometimes, but beyond that, it's pretty obvious that they are setting it up so that Dexter is part of the family. In the 4th episode, in a flashback, his (adopted) dad says, "This is where my dad, your grandfather worked." He didn't have to say the part I emphasized, but it's another way of showing that Harry saw Dexter as a "real" son.

This is so refreshing because people who've adopted are asked if they're going to have "real" kids, even today.

I just like it.

What I don't like? The opening credits! Ewwwwwwwwww

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Some money saving advice

Well, it only applies to Netflix users.

I'm always curious about others' experience with Netflix, and tonight I googled "is netflix worth it."

On this website - A site called Thrifty Fun and page is called "Is Netflix worth it?" - there is a reply from someone who loves the streaming (as do I, though I can't wait until subtitles/CC are available on all of them!) and is thinking of buying the 100 US$ device, but is worried that when technology changes (as is its wont), the box may be useless.

I thought about this (not the obsolescence, but the price) and I realized that our TV is pretty new (bought in Fall 2007 or after) and hey, my laptop has this thing and so does the TV, maybe they can be hooked up!

A quick googling later, and yes, they can. I even called Netflix to make sure it was kosher. (Maybe the wouldn't play, I don't know.)

I bought a TV this week (HD! a remote! CC available!) for only 150 US$. It's not tiny, about 15 inches, but it is easier to carry than the old one Goodwill will probably throw out soon. That one was 3rd hand - my sister's friend had it, than my sister, than I took it. It had 2000 etched on the back, among the other technological info, so it wasn't that old. It had an attached VCR that declared it was dying by, you know, eating tapes (FSM bless CDs and DVDs!). It had no remote. But what was bad was the volume was iffy, and hitting the down button under the word volume could lead to a number of things - making the channel go down, nothing, putting up some bizarre menu or something that required turning off the TV, and sometimes making the volume go down. It did have a major plus (my new one has this too) - I could hook up headphones and watch Bollywood into the wee hours on a screen smaller than my laptop, but dammit, it was on the TV without bothering anyone.

Now your TV needs a VGA port

And I think many new ones do - probably for video games. It also needs a headphone jack or anything saying audio in.

Then you get yourself a VGA cord or cable and an audio cable that goes from the headphone jack on your computer to the audio in on the TV. This is much cheaper than any streaming device (unless you already have the video game system that plays them in which case never mind) - I think I paid maybe $30 at RadioShack, and I needed their help because I got the wrong cord for the audio - the image showed up, but no sound.

I think Netflix is worth it, but I have a relatively new passion in my life that revolves around movies - Bollywood and foreign films. I think Netflix is best if you're a so-called "niche" viewer like me, and the turnaround is so cool. When I get an apologetic e-mail because a movie will be late, it arrives a day later or maybe 2 days later than the other ones. The horror! I send it in on Monday, I get an e-mail on Tuesday, and I have new movies on Wednesday. Even if it took an extra day, it would still be worth it to me because I get to try out so many movies without paying for them and regretting it (looking at you Maqbool and Mohabbatein - at least the latter has SRK, Aish, and pretty songs!). It would not be worth it for my mom, though she "requests" some movies, "if you don't mind" (I don't). If we end up living together as some wacky single ladies in the pacific northwest, we'll probably share the account. Or she'll tell me about some movie she may want to see, can you look it up for me? I've seen posts at BollyWhat from people sharing with non-Bollywood fans and those people are none to pleased with the changed recommendations or the Bollywood all over both Instant and regular queues.

RedBox seems to risky for me - if I didn't want to see it in theaters, I can wait. If I loved it enough when I did see it in theaters, I can buy it. Plus, it's all machine. Too many people have been billed because the machine never read the movie as turned in. And it just seems a waste of money - a dollar a night, what if you forget? Yes, if I hold on to my movies for a couple weeks, I'm not using my plan (3 at a time) to the fullest, but I still get charged the same amount a month.

And RedBox has a shitty foreign selection. Bah.

So my point is, if anyone reads this - I am no computer expert, but I was able to do this. Just some googling and some helpful people at the store is all you need, knowledge-wise. And a laptop, or a TV right next to the desktop.

And they had an adapter if your TV didn't have a VGA port, but it costs as much as a Netflix box. So meh.

One reason I'm really excited about my new TV is that over the summer break, I can watch Instant movies on my TV in my bed (like I'll be up there in that oven!). No, I think what we buy (or inherit/swipe from the house) in college is often our furniture in our first post-college place. And I don't need a big place, I don't have a big TV, but it has a remote*, and can be hooked up to my laptop.

Two shiny toys in one semester. Okay, my laptop isn't as shiny because of fingerprints, and I swear I will either take it with or me or order a cover from HP's site. Or I could do what I did with my old one and slap stickers all over it. The big Obama bumper sticker helped a lot. Also, it was a different material.

ETA - forgot the link, after I went through the trouble of describing it!

And I forgot to finish my thought.

*The TV we had for the longest time did not have a remote. It was huge and I loved it, but remotes are recent things for the TVs in our house - the VCR, DVD players, and cable boxes all had remotes, but you still had to... get up... to turn it on or off. And I don't remember if the cable volume buttons always worked.

So I'm like some stereotypical post-Communism girl going "real blue jeans!" I remember this from some YA book about Romania set pre-dissolution and pre-Ceauşescu's death. (I learned about him from a comic. Nasty fellow.)

Remote controls - despite the fact that I was born in '88 - have not been a big part of my TV life, especially those stretches without cable. The one we had in Iceland in 92-94, we kept until it died a few years back. Or we got rid of it. Anyways, no remote (and not much selection up on top of the world), but hooked up to cable or DVD, remote.

And for the last two and a half years, I've had a remote for my DVD player (only bought last spring) and nothing for the TV. With the shaky volume control, and my laziness/pain, it could make turning on the TV a pain in the ass, because I couldn't just mute it when done. I do have headphones that hooked up like I said, so I could leave it on with them plugged in and turned off (so as to not waste the battery). I spent the first semester (a relatively pain-free one) putting the heavy TV on an old TV table (meant for dinners, folded up nicely beside my bed) and plugging in my mp3 player headphones, so I was a foot away from the TV! Not my brightest moment, considering we had the headphones that let you move at home before then. (You can mow the lawn and listen to pandora if you're like my mom and not comfortable with portable music players. Plus, they could get sweaty or died green, like mowing shoes.)

I'm painfree, should be asleep, and chatty as all get out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Daily Helmsman pissed me off today.

I can't find the article on their website.

The article is basically fine - trying to start a "safe space" for GLBTQ students on campus.

Apparently, when students "expressed discomfort in class at the discrimination, they were sent to psychological services."

That is a terrible thing - homosexuality was removed from the DSM, remember? It's bad thing because queer kids aren't getting what they need, not because psych services are necessarily bad.

But the following quote was the one above the fold in big bold letters, so that's what I saw when I grabbed the paper.

"Going to the psychology building to say you're gay is like going to say you're crazy."

I'm e-mailing the paper and thinking of looking up the quoted student (a freshman, so she doesn't know any better) but damn, Talk about an insult. (I won't contact her.)

Here's the letter I'm sending:

The article in Friday's paper was hurtful and offensive. It is wrong to send GLBTQ students to psychological services, not because needing psychological services is something to be ashamed of, but because it is outdated thinking on the part of the school, and does not help our GLBTQ students at all.

However, I grabbed the paper today and staring me in the face was the pull quote.

"Going to the psychology building to say you're gay is like going to say you're crazy."

I go the psychology building. I get therapy there. There is nothing wrong with being crazy. The ablist tones in the article were disgusting.

There is no safe space or student group for students who are neuroatypical, who suffer from depression.

I support gay rights in any way I can, but I can't be quiet when I'm insulted. I am crazy, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Oh - their website - The Daily Helmsman

ETA - article is finally up - Students seek LGBT safe zone

And I got an e-mail response to my letter. My concerns are "invalid" and they didn't mean to insult people with mental health problems, so it won't be published.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

With God on Our Side

I heard this song at the end of Constantine's Sword, a great documentary (available instantly from Netflix if you're curious and have an hour and a half to kill).

This is not the Bob Dylan original, but the cover by Aaron Neville. I love his voice.

Oh my name it is nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
l’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that the land that I live in
Has God on its side
Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side
Oh the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
l’s made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side
Oh the First World War, boys
It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side
When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side
I’ve learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side
But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side
Through many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side
So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Today's Baby Blues is awesome

The comic:

First panel: Hammie is taking some books from a librarian who is behind a desk. She says, "There you are. These are due back in 21 days." Hammie says, "Okay."

Second Panel: Hammie is carrying his stack of books and walking next to Zoe who has none. Hammie says, "I hope I can finish all these by then." Zoe tells him, "You have to."

Third panel: Hammie says, "What?" Zoe says, "Your library card states that you must read every word of every book by the due date.... or else!" Her eyes are closed, the image of a knowledgeable person.

Fourth panel: Hammie's eyes are huge. He protests, "But these are CHAPTER BOOKS!" Zoe, looking up and away, as if at an adult, asks, "Have you ever seen such huge biceps on a librarian?"

For the record, I never believed this. I frequently check out stacks of books and sometimes go through them outside and turn them back in (the drive-up box). But I had my first encounter with late fees a couple years and I was so freaked out, a day late, and it was 25 cents. That's it?

This made me laugh.

In other comics news, the latest Funky Winkerbean storyline, dealing with Wally's PTSD (we'll finally find out where he was for 10 years, I assume) is not making me laugh. I'm fine with soap strips, but FW is disturbing me. The parts where he freaked out at his daughter's basketball game and his old girlfriend found a gun under his pillow? Too many people talk about how unfunny Funky is, but this shit is disturbing, especially in comic form (and FW is drawn in a comic style, not a soap-y one). It would have a trigger warning and be under a cut at any good website.

ETA: A thought about why this storyline is so disturbing - it's dealing with PTSD. A psychological thing. Is he going to be institutionalized? (=am I again?) I really don't like this. I want smirks and cancer cancer cancer. Incest cancer?