Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My brain is melting.

My friend Tanya once wrote about how it's so hot in Bangladesh that she could feel her proteins denaturing. I don't know what that means, but I think my brain is denaturing due to the hardness of my economics class.

Today in class, the professor was lecturing about something called "Present Discounted Value", which I thought was a relatively simple concept until he started doing the calculus. He wrote this huge formula on the board and accompanied it with a weirdo graph. I just tried to type it out so you could see the formula and how freaky it was, but it's not possible. Anyway, he stepped back from the board, and said, "You might say to yourself, there are other ways to conceptualize an inter-temporal utility function."

Now, my question is...if I was ACTUALLY thinking to myself, "What am I doing in Mexico?"...does that mean I don't belong here?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

If my life was an ONION headline...

Montello Forest Lane Elementary first grader Isaac Zaman has filed a formal grievance with his mother, saying that the level of paper work expected in first grade is "too, too hard." He is petitioning to be transferred back to Kindergarten, where instruction is based on "movies and nap time." Mr. Zaman's mother was unavailable for comment.

The unidentified woman was found in a ditch alongside Bascom Hill, her bag full of journal articles and notebooks. Also found was a Penguin Dictionary of Economics, a week's supply of Snickers, and 25,482 post-its scattered about her lifeless corpse.

The food pyramid has traditionally included the "four food groups", but a radical new finding by the FDA has prompted the addition of a fifth group: Snickers. FDA director John Smith said, "It's got all the major components of perfect nutrition! Milk chocolate gives you dairy, peanuts for protein, and nougat - did you know that nougat is a vegetable?"

The recently discovered corner, which for weeks had been exuding a putrid aroma, has been found to be the official "hidden poop area" for the two yorkies living at the Zaman/Metcalf residence. Yorkie owner Katie Zaman said, "I was playing the piano and noticed a terrible smell. Since there were no turds evident in the room proper, I peered over the edge of the piano, only to discover a virtual mine-field of turds." HazMat specialist Paul Metcalf remarked, "It's going to take a strong nose plug, and a good supply of paper towels, but we'll get the job done." Because of the lack of turds in plain view, the family had assumed that the dogs were housebroken.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I refuse!

Isaac missed three days of school this week because he was sick with a sore throat and fever (not to mention the weekend barfing spree). Today I woke up with a headache, which is normal, but it usually goes away once I have my coffee. It's still here, and now I can feel my throat starting to get scratchy and sore, and my nose is stuffy.

But I am trying to do the "mind over matter" thing and just refuse to get sick. My dad hardly ever gets sick and he says that it's all about willpower. So I'm willing with all my will to stay healthy! I've got so much work to do!!! Here is my weekend to-do list:

1) Reading for Soc 365: 3 chapters
2) Reading for Soc 651: 4 articles
3) Writing for Soc 651: 3 essays (which will require reading MANY MANY articles)
4) Writing for fellowship application
5) Soc 360 problem sets (statistics) from chapters 3 and 4
6) Soccer game Saturday morning (I think I'll beg off)
7) Finish cleaning my Montello house and find my other bed linens

And that list does not include the long-term deadline stuff that I should have started weeks ago, but we won't go there.

Ewww, the dude next to me in the computer lab has a really gross cough.

In other bodily health news, I seem to have traded my stomach for a bottomless pit. I'm always starving. I am afraid I'm going to balloon to the size of a circus attraction by the time this year is done! Maybe I should be a good Muslim and observe the Ramadan fast that begins soon. (I think it starts on Sunday??)

Can I just have a nap, please?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Puppy update.

This morning, I woke 43 precious minutes before my alarm went off (at 3:45) to the sound of a dry-heaving puppy. Shad had his family jewels removed on Tuesday and didn't handle the anesthesia well. I felt bad for him, but felt worse for myself - that 43 minutes is like gold!

With my sleep ruined, I got up and rummaged through the pantry for the last can of puppy food. After eating he seemed to feel better. I'll be glad when he's completely recovered, though.

Che is back to 100%, in fact he is beating up Shad for once! Isn't there a story in the Old Testament about how a tribe was slaughtered after all their men were circumcised and recovering??? Anybody know what I'm talking about? Well, Che has launched his offensive against the weak Shad - payback time for all the humping he received!

I'm hoping that this weekend will be better than the last. My buddy Gina is coming home with me on Friday (I actually have a social life, people!) and then we're going to a birthday party for a friend on Saturday. Lots to look forward to, but I've also got a pile of econ reading to do in my spare time. C'est la vie.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Help! It's Jim Wolff again!

Check out the latest Jim Wolff piece in the paper. Comments?

Monday, September 18, 2006

My terrible weekend.

Thank God it's MONDAY!

This weekend was awful, and here are the reasons why.

1) Saturday: Isaac's Soccer Game (BTW, I've decided that I am NOT cut out to be a soccer mom. Isaac's decided that he'd rather take piano lessons, anyway.) I was driving home from the game, talking to Isaac about why it's not important if you win or lose, but how much you enjoy yourself while you play (he said, "Mom, I don't enjoy running."), and suddenly my front right tire went a little too far to the right and slipped off the road. I may have been fiddling with the radio or something. Anyway, since I was on a curve and going a bit fast, I lost control of the car and did a 360 into oncoming traffic. Fortunately it was a county road and the only oncoming traffic was a little farmer dude who was going slow enough that he had time to drive out of my way, but it was terrifying. I thought the car would flip over or explode or something. Thank GOD we're both okay, and I think the car is okay too, although it might need an alignment.

2) Sunday: Isaac Doesn't Feel Good. Isaac woke up with a bad headache and a fever. I got out the Children's Motrin and fished out four orange pills, the correct dosage for a 40 lb. kid. Just as I was walking over to give him the pills, he projectile vomited across the room.

3) Sunday: Doggie Overdose. After tending to Isaac in the bathroom, I walked back into the living room to clean up the barf, and caught Che in the act of swallowing the last Motrin tablet. Four tablets is a fatal dose for a 1.5 lb. puppy, so we had to induce vomiting and take him to the only vet hospital that accepts pets on a Sunday - in Appleton (2 hours away).

4) Sunday: I'm Broke. The dog needed an IV, blood tests, and an overnight stay. The bill was $400, not counting the overnight stay that I'll have to pay for tomorrow, which should be cheaper because he was transfered to the local vet clinic in Montello. I also have to pay for their routine shots that they got last week, as well as Shadow's ball-amputation, scheduled for tomorrow.

5) As a result of all the drama, I didn't get my reading done! And tomorrow I have to get up at 3:45 a.m. to catch the damn van.

Can you top that for a sucky weekend? Send me skittles.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Grad school's, like, hard.

Here is your vocab list for today. These are words that people have seriously used in lectures, and I had to write them down so I could google them later.

Tautology: n. , pl. -gies . Needless repetition of the same sense in different words; redundancy. An instance of such repetition.

Hegemony: a term used mostly by Marxist critics to delineate the web of dominant ideologies within a society.

Pareto-Optimal: Having the property that no Pareto-improving change is possible.

Conjecture: (From Gina's friend) a description of a social formation as fractured and conflictual, along multiple axes, planes and scales, constantly in search of temporary balances or structural stabilities through a variety of practices and processes of struggle and negotiation.

Paternalism: describes the relationship of a dominant group, considered superior, to a subordinate group, considered inferior, in which the dominance is mitigated by mutual obligations and reciprocal rights.

Does your brain hurt yet? I feel like I'm learning a new language! My econ class is pretty overwhelming, and the stats classes are alternately boring and impossibly hard - a fatal combination. I had to buy a roll of Rolaids at the gas station this morning. Acid reflux - it's never a good sign.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Che Says...

"The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Two cute pictures and one gross one.

el Che Guevera. Isn't he adorable??? You'd never guess that he's acutally a socialist revolutionary, would you?

Che is going to kick Shad's ass when he gets bigger. But Shad's adorable, isn't he? He's still my favorite. Isaac is more attached to Che.

Our spider, whom we have alternately called Natasha, Cleopatra and Drizella, bit the dust. Actually, I think she exploded. If you look close enough, you can see some yellow goop dripping from her abdomen. Ewwww.

More Jimmy - I just can't get enough!

The conference that I attended on Saturday was great, and I meant to run home right afterwards and write up a summary of the "Six Factors" to consider for US foreign policy to the Muslim World, but then I took a nap instead.

But I did realize how important it is that we fight the prejudices that exist towards Muslims in this country. I realized that Jim Wolff probably listens to right-wing, neoconservative radio programming, as does much of the population here in the US. It scared me to think that Mr. Wolff's views are probably very common.

I have typed up Mr. Wolff's two articles on radical Islam and posted them online. (It was a nauseating task, and I recommend waiting until one hour after you have eaten before you read this if you find blatant racism sickening.)

August 17, 2006: "If we accept losing the Global War on Terror..." By Jim Wolff
August 24, 2006: "Are you sure you disapprove of torturing suspects?" By Jim Wolff
August 30, 2006: My letter to the editor as printed in the paper.

After reading these, if you would like to write a (respectful yet poignant) letter to Mr. Wolff, you can send your email to Please cc me on any email you send, as I would like to keep track of this. Thanks in advance to all of you!

[Edit: I fixed the links. Sorry about that.]

Friday, September 08, 2006

Jimmy, Part Three

Thanks for all the great comments about the newspaper article! It's so
nice to have people to bounce things off of, God Bless the Blogging

I'm attending a conference on Saturday called "Young Global Leaders Summit on the Future of Western-Muslim Relations". It should be really interesting. They sent us three articles to read (if you're interested, here are the links...
"Islam and the West: Searching for Common Ground"
"If It's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution."
, and “America shares the blame: A Response to Thomas Friedman.” Not that I have a shortage of reading materials, but I'm going to read this before I delve into the mysterious world of economic sociology this afternoon.

We had the most beautiful storm this morning complete with a nice lightening show. It kind of sucked when I had to run to my car with my book bag, a bagel, my coffee AND an umbrella, but it was worth it for the sky show. I'm very glad it's Friday so that tomorrow I'll be able to wake up at a reasonable 6:30 instead of 3:45. (Yes, Page, I know it's elderly to talk about my sleep schedule, but right now it's about the only thing I can think about.)

I'll be internet-less for the next three days as I'll be retreating to the Wilderness for the weekend. Expect a conference update on Tuesday.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jimmy Responds

I got a response (printed in the paper) to my shortened version of the letter to the editor that I posted last week.

How would you respond to this?

Editor Emeritus' Note: Thank you, Katie, for voicing your opinion. I doubt that you would be able to expouse such comments about Muslim terrorists in many of the Muslim nations of which your husband is a native. There is a big difference between asking our security people to pay more attention to young male Middle Easterners at airports and train depots than they would little old ladies, and vowing to kill all Americans simply for their religious beliefs. I admire that you abhor terrorism, but of course you're not afraid to speak up. You live in America! If Muslim nations wanted to end terrorist activity, they could, but obviously American hatred runs deep, much deeper than any hatred I have for Muslims. If Islam is a wonderful religion, then terrorists should not feel they have put a gun to journalists heads to make them convert as they did a few days ago. I hope you continue to voice your opinion and hope Muslims around the world will come forward to do the same in their countries, if they dare.
-Jim Wolff

Now, if I wanted to be a bitch about it, I would really tear this apart. For example, my husband is not a native of "many of the Muslim nations", only one. And he basically lumps all Muslim nations together into one group, just as he lumps all Muslims into one group. I wish I would have used the KKK example...they are a terrorist Christian group, but the majority of Christians are not like the KKK. I am not quite sure how to interpret the last two sentences...what do you think?

Dog pee and racoons [Edit: raccoons]

My God, the sleep deprivation is killing my spelling abilities!

morning I woke up to the awful beeping of my alarm clock and dragged
myself into the shower. I usually get the dogs up (they sleep in bed
with us and can't jump down) and put them outside but they were
snuggled up all warm and I figured I'd let them sleep. I got out of the
shower and heard some desperate whining. I ran out in my towel and was
too late - El Che had peed on the bed. Of course, he picked the spot
where he could soak through the sheets AND blankets, so now it's all
got to be washed.

Then on the way to meet the van, I nearly
killed an entire family of raccoons but managed to slam on the breaks
in time. I ended up spilling my coffee and breaking the strap on mybook bag
(I have no idea how that happened!!) Just my luck, today I have to walk
to Egypt and back for my classes with a broken strappedbook bag.

And I'm so sleepy!

my classes are great. Yesterday's class in economic sociology was
really intense but it's another good one. I don't know hardly anything
about economics, although I've read three econ books to try to prepare
a little. He was talking about some guy named "Vaber" the entire time. Finally at the end, I realized that "Vaber"
is "Weber" (who I've actually heard of) - a famous classical GERMAN
economist. Sigh. The professor is planning to lecture every class
period for 2 1/2 hours straight. Can you say "Mountain Dew"?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First day update and some other thoughts, via list

Okay, I made it. Class number two was a tad numbing, I sorta already had an introductory statistics class way back in Minnesota, so I think the first part of this class is going to be BORING. Boring is better than ass-kicking, though. After class I walked back to the van (which I successfully drove this morning without harming/killing/scaring anyone) and deposited the HUGE packet of reading material for my Economic Sociology class that I picked up from the copy shoppe. I'm not kidding, it's an entire ream of paper, maybe more. I brought the first three chapters with me to the Union because I thought I'd check my email quick and then read it before I went home. Instead, I'm blogging. TKP, I'm feelin' ya!

Here are some thoughts.

1. I live in the wilderness. I subscribed to the Wisconsin State Journal and the people who deliver it won't come down the driveway to drop it off because our driveway is literally half a mile long and it goes through a corn field. I can't get any decent internet access and have to wait until November when they open up the "satellite stream" so that I can pay $399 for them to install a dish, which I'll then have to pay $70 a month to use for internet access. So until then, I can only check my email on the days that I'm at school (Tuesday through Friday).

2. The guy who wrote the nasty comments about Islam in the local paper gave a reply to my letter (they printed a shortened version of my letter). I will try to retype it here if I remember before I recycle the paper. He basically restated his bigoted comments in a euphamistic way and I am too tired to respond.

3. I finally moved the rest of my stuff in to my apartment. It's lookin' good in there, although I have stubbed my toe twice because we have a traffic flow issue with the bedroom furniture.

4. Isaac cried last night because he was nervous about school starting today. It's a good thing it was dark, because I cried, too. First days are hard, man! I was trying to be the strong and comforting mommy. He said, "I wish that we didn't ever have to go to school and that we just knew everything automatically." I wanted to scream, "Me TOOOOOO!!!" I made my mom come in and rub our backs till we both fell asleep.

5. I switched my blogger account over to "blogger beta", which apparently merged my acocunt with my google account. Now I can't post on anyone's blog unless they have a beta account. I tried to post on Tanya, Sonya and Gina's blogs, but dammit, I was FOILED! (TKP - you're post about mistaking the eraser for a bug made me snort loudly in the "quiet study area." Sonya - I wish you could hear Isaac talk about "sugar bugs." After the dentist told him about them, he made up this elaborate story about how they build their houses and have families and live and die, all in the crevices of his mouth! And Gina, Mmmmmmm, Moroccan.)

6. One of the big differences between this university and the smaller one I'm used to is that we are to use our NUMBER instead of our NAME to identify ourselves on our assignments. That freaks me out just a little. The profs said it's to ensure "non-biased" grading, but whatever.

7. I wrote the directions for how to pick up the van pool riders on my hand but they faded before I remembered to transfer them onto paper. Whoops. I hope I don't get lost with that behemoth of a vehicle!!

8. I am trying to have a good attitude about waking up at 3:45 a.m., but I'm having serious doubts. I even had the fleeting thought that I should take up exercising, because isn't there a myth that the more you exercise, the less sleep you need? But if I exercise, I'd probably just end up hating exercising on top of hating waking up early. So never mind.

One down, two to go...

I survived my first class without a major hives outbreak, and I feel a little more confident now. The class seems difficult but it's exactly what I need to know, so hopefully that will help. There's nothing worse than a hard class that will never be useful.

I'll update you on class number two in a few hours...

Oh, Crap!

I'm sitting in my classroom waiting for the professor to show up - I was just in the bathroom and noticed some hives beginning to appear on my neck. What the hell was I thinking??? Ph.D.??? This is scary!

New Puppy

Che (as in Guevera) joined our family on Saturday, thanks to the sale of the old Evinrude outboard motor that we found in the garage. He's only 3 months old, but he's almost as big as Shad.

Shad is alternately pleased and jealous, but I think mostly pleased. He is a camera hog, though.

fat spider