Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I slept all weekend. It was wonderful.

But then on Monday morning, I was trying to finish my homework for the evil stats class, and realized that I had severely underestimated the amount of time I would need. Five hours later, I was still working on the first problem. All I can say is, this class had better come in handy some day!!

I got a letter in the mail from Isaac's principal. It seems that he's been absent for "10 or more days" this semester, and I am now required to provide a letter from his doctor stating that it was medically necessary. It was cc'd to the school liaison officer. Are they saying that my son is truant?

Speaking of my son, he's rocking the first grade. The kid does math in his head. This is clear proof that "nature" has more influence than "nurture" - he definitely takes after his father. It's almost scary.

My bro Rob and his girlfriend Lisa came to visit this weekend, and it was nice to see them (although I slept through most of it - sorry guys!) Their dog Riley is a sweetheart, and he didn't eat my little dogs, although Shadow was very antagonistic. Riley has nerve damage and drools out of the left side of his mouth - it was kindof gross, but we can forgive him. We fed him lots of people food, and I guess he farted the entire 2 hour car ride to Green Bay. I'm sure Rob deserved that for something...

My big mug.

Gina FORCED me to put on lipstick for this picture.

My new buddies, Tall Mike, GH, and Eric the iPod guy.

Another new friend, Sayeed.

These are pictures from Gina's party which happened on Oct. 20 - a LONG time ago. I'm such a posting slacker!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Saved by the...dogs?

In my sickly state, I accidentally set my alarm for 3:45 p.m. instead of a.m. last night. (My God, there have actually been times in my life when I set my alarm for 3:45 p.m.! How I yearn for the Days of Sleep!) Needless to say, I overslept. By some stroke of fate, my hermit crabs decided to attempt an escape from their habitat, and when they fell off the little plastic palm tree, they made a clunking noise. The noise woke up the dogs, who then started barking in order to save us from the evil crabs. It was 4:30 - 15 minutes before I needed to leave to catch the van.

I made it! I even managed to put on clean clothes!

It's times like these that I understand how order can come from chaos.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My life is a Captain Underpants novel.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure to read Dav Pilkey's epic novels, you have no idea what you've been missing! Be warned, Pilkey's novels are a tad on the repuslive side (think first graders), so if you have a weak stomach, you might want to skip this post.

If my life were a Captain Underpants novel, I'd be in the chapter entitled "The Morphing Mutant Mucus Mountain". My nose has become a neverending fountain of green goo that drips down my face at the most unopportune moments. For example, I got on the bus this morning and had to share my seat with a rather large individual - which is fine - but since I'm also a rather large individual, we had little wiggle room. I felt a sneeze coming on but couldn't maneuver to my pocket for a kleenex soon enough, so I ended up soiling my new 99 cent "magic gloves" with boogers. It was really embarrassing.

Yeah, it was REALLY embarrassing. So in order to feel less embarrassed, I've posted it on my blog so that the entire world can know about it.

I was so embarrassed that I accidentaly got off the bus on the wrong end of State Street and had to walk about 50,000 miles to campus.

By the time I got to my office, I had that terrible hot-and-cold-at-the-same-time phenomenon happening...sweating in the pits but frostbitten on the face and hands. (Remember, I had to take my glove off on the bus, and I didn't want to look like a weirdo with only one glove on.)

It was an exciting start to an exciting day, that's for sure. And I have hours to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Germs Wreak Havoc

I'm sick. I'm sicker than I've been in a long time. This is partly my own fault, because I started feeling sick on Friday morning, but decided to attend a party on Friday night. It was a great party (pictures to come) and I met lots of new and interesting people. I didn't even feel too sick the next day! But when Sunday rolled around, the germs took over. I spent Monday (incidentally, Eid Mubarak to my Muslim buddies!) in a haze of sleep and mucus.

Since I skipped a day of classes last week due to Isaac's sickness, I forced myself to come to campus today. I checked my temp before I left this morning, and it was 102.3. I'm sure it's at least that now, because I'm shaking and I feel like my head has detached from my body and is floating above me. I hope I infected my horrible stats teacher, because his class really sucked today.

This week is lookin' like a doozie - I've got two work-related events that will be happening in the evening, requiring me to drive and stay late. I've also fallen way WAY behind in my paper writing for the semester, and the aforementioned evil stats professor is leaving me in the dust with his cryptic lectures. Fortunately, I met a dude at the party who seems to know the secret to the mysterious SAS programming language, so I might just make it through after all.

To look on the bright side - this is my favorite time of year! It's crispy cold outside, and there is frost on everything. Although I'm a little stressed (a little stressed?) about my work load, this kind of stress makes me extremely productive. Isaac is doing great in school (only one wrong on his last spelling test! Ironically, it was the word "spell" - he wrote "spel".) Masud will be coming to visit for Thanksgiving. There will be mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and green bean casserole, and all will be well with the world. Oh, yes.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Anxiety: An Example

Okay, first off, please note the last sentence of my previous post: "Talk to me in 5 minutes, and I'll probably be hyperventilating about something."

After a horrific stats class where I realized that missing one day has propelled me on the fast track for a bad grade, I went to stats class number 2. While sitting in class, my dad called. (Thank Kali-Ma that I remembered to turn off my ringer!) Dad doesn't call often, so I figured it must have something to do with my mom (who is recovering from surgery) or Isaac (who is home sick with a high fever). Since I was in class, I couldn't answer it, obviously.

But then, 15 minutes later, he called AGAIN! There were five minutes left of class, and the prof was going over some really deep reason for doing randomization in experiments, so I had to stay! The entire time, I was thinking about all the reasons he might be calling:

1) Isaac's fever got so high that he is having seizures.
2) Isaac is projectile vomiting again.
3) Mom is in the emergency room with complications of her surgery.
4) The house is on fire.
5) There has been a nuclear attack on Montello.
6) The world is ending.

Finally, mercifully, class was dismissed and I quickly called dad back. He answered and said, "Oh, I just wanted to know how you are."


Finally! A new post!

Whew, what a week it's been! I really hate the fact that I don't have internet at home and must wait until I re-enter civilization on Tuesdays to jump online. Unfortunately Isaac was sick on Tuesday, so I had an involuntary day off. I missed two classes - my first missed classes of my Ph.D. career!!! Now I'm behind!

Anyway, we've had an eventful week at home. My mom had surgery on Tuesday, which turned out fine. She's on the couch recovering, which worked out nicely for me today because Isaac's fever came back. I put his lunch out on the counter so hopefully he can take care of himself today.

I stayed up last night to watch the finale of Project Runway. I hadn't watched the show until last week when I discovered that we had free Bravo and they were showing a PR marathon. I caught snipets of most of the last few episodes and then forced myself to stay up to watch the last one. Ten o'clock is a killer these days.

With all the TV watching that happened this weekend, I must say that my school work was severely neglected. Not to worry, I made up for it on Tuesday. One of the great things about reading all this boring economics stuff is that non-fiction books on things like women and development have become exciting. I crave readable texts like "Development as Freedom" and even Todaro's "Development Economics" has become more readable than before.

Today the Annual Conference on South Asia begins here in Madison. It's a big conference, and I was able to volunteer stuffing folders and alphabetizing nametags for a few hours in order to get free admission. I'm spending the night on Friday so that I can get to the early sessions on Saturday. (Not to mention attending Gina's kegger on Friday night!)

It seems like I might be getting the hang of this grad school thing - I've just got to embrace the fact that I'll always have too much to do and I'm not as smart as I thought I was, but that's okay! For the moment, I'm okay with that.

(Talk to me in 5 minutes, and I'll probably be hyperventilating about something.)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Muhammad Yunus Wins Nobel Prize!

It was only a matter of time, but Muhammad Yunus has been named the newest Nobel Peace Prize Winner for his development of microcredit loans that help poor people (mostly women) to start small businesses. He also founded Grameen Bank and the Grameen Phone program, which put mobile phones in the hands of many rural women and changed the rural dynamic of Bangladesh.

Yay for Yunus! and Yay for Bangladesh!!!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ani at the Orpheum

Tonight, Page and I are going to see our very favorite righteous babe, Ani Difranco, at the Orpheum Theater on State Street. I've been thinking about the day that Page and I would go to a concert together ever since the day when she was in 2nd grade and I played "Waitress" by Tori Amos for her and we rocked out together.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Welcome Riley

Since my last post was nerdy and a little over the top, here's a new one to take the edge off. [note: I'm no longer on the edge of an anxiety attack, thanks to a chat with my buddy Gina and a hot cup of cocoa.]

Isn't he cute!?? No, I did NOT get another dog. This is my new "nephew", because he now lives with my brother Rob and his girlfriend Lisa. They adopted him from some rescue thingy in Minnesota. Riley looks like he's smirking in the picture, but he's actually got some kind of nerve damage. I hope that his nerve damage was from something nice like a birth canal, not from a mean dude beating him with a stick.

Rob promised that Riley won't eat my puppies when he comes to visit!!!

Hard Test Update

Just because I can't calm down until I tell SOMEBODY what just happened, I am going to torture my blog readers with the following story about my test.

We got our tests back today, and I got 69 out of 113. Yep, that's about the worst I've EVER done on a test in my life. I'm definitely not trying to be arrogant here, because I have this streak of perfectionism that borders on obsessive. Okay, it doesn't even border, it's way out there on the obsessive continuum.

Anyway, I've been actually losing sleep about this test since I bombed it last week, and this morning, seeing that score just about made me vomit. Thank God the prof. put the distribution on the board, so that I could see that 69 was actually the third highest score in the class. Phew.

So fine, now I understand that the professor intentionally makes the exam impossible and then puts it on a curve. Great! But that doesn't excuse the hours of anxiety that this caused me!

Let me give you an example of how confusing this professor is. Here is what he told us to do for part of a homework assignment.

5. [omitted first part of question] Finally, use Emacs to access the man pages on any rectangle commands you used, edit them to remove discussion of any features you did not use, and combine the man page excerpts into a single document showing what rectangle commands and features you used.

Note: He gave us the assignment on September 29 (via email, which I couldn't check until October 2), but didn't explain what the hell "rectangle commands" are until October 3.

I literally spent 5 hours on Oct. 2 working on this homework, which had many other really hard questions, then found out that he had changed the due date from Oct. 5 to October 10. So, yesterday, I again spent 7 hours (I'm not exaggerating) working on the homework. Here is what I came up with for my answer.

Rectangle Commands:

Dr. [name omitted], Is this a trick question? According to both the Unix and the Emacs book, the man pages are only for looking up Unix commands. I looked for rectangle commands and could not find any, so now I assume that Unix doesn't have rectangle commands. Is that correct? I spent quite a long time looking using the following prompts:

m-x man [Enter] r (gives an error message)
m-x man [Enter] R (gives the information for a program named R)
m-x man [Enter] rectangle (gives an error message)
m-x man [Enter] region (gives an error message)

I did use the rectangle command to organize the sessions, but it seemed kindof
redundant because I had already used tab to organize the document into columns.
I guess I'm not understanding what you wanted us to do.

Anyway, here is a description of what I did:
c-x h to select the entire document.
m-x untabify to remove tabs and replace with spaces
c-space to set the mark at the beginning of a column, and moved cursor to end and bottom of column
c-x r k to "kill" the column
c-x r y to "yank" the column (paste)

I hope I can get partial credit for that at least...


Now, here's the funny part. This morning, I log into my email 15 minutes before the homework needed to be submitted to his electronic mail box on Unix, and find this message:

2. Also, homework 3 asked for the man page on the Emacs rectangle commands, which does not exist (since man pages don't cover
individual Emacs commands). Please substitute the man page for the
cat command instead, unless you've already done something else more
or less equally reasonable instead.

Oh MY GOD! This email was NOT in my inbox yesterday when I was working on this at 7 PM at my dad's spa (because I live in the wilderness and don't have an internet connection!!!)

Okay, end of rant. If you've managed to read this far and feel bad for me, you can send Skittles to make me feel better.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

In case you need to brush up on your Marx...

...or if you just thought he was a dead guy with bushy eyebrows like me and need to know what all the profs are talking about in class, you should read this book.

It's even got cartoons.

The future president.

A Night on the Town, and a hard test.

Last night I had to work late so I decided to stay overnight in Madison at my buddy Gina's house. Coincidentally, my friend Kedar was in town. I met Kedar in India while we were both on our Fulbright grants. He's a genius, of course, and now he works for a company that sells "carbon credits" (google it). He and his colleague met me for dinner on State Street, and I felt like I had a bit of a social life at last!

After dinner, Isaac called me bawling because he "just couldn't handle it" that I was not home. Heart...break...

Then I met up with Gina and we took the bus to her house (thank GOD she didn't make me walk again. The girl is all about walking.) I managed to study for a few hours before passing out on her couch (from exhaustion, not drunkenness). THis morning I got to sleep in to a whopping 6:00!! I figured I'd be able to study for my test at work, but it was not to be...

And the test. I did really badly for two reasons:

1) I was over tired, and did not prepare enough. I should have spent some time in the lab on campus going over the commands, but I physically did not have any time! If I had internet at home...whatever.

2) The exam was unreasonable. Who memorizes Unix commands in one week without using them? In real life, when people are learning computers, they usually have a book or notes in front of them that they refer to when they forget a command, but for the test, we were not even allowed to use the computer. We had to write down commands for specific actions. And there were SO MANY commands, and some that we had never gone over in class.

At best I got a C, probably more likely I got a D. Anyone who knows me will understand how freaked out I am about that. But the test is only 10% of the grade, so I can still come out with an A.

Anyway, I'm planning on going to bed IMMEDIATELY upon arriving home. In 4 hours. Wahhh.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Day in the Life...

2:52 a.m. - Wake up to the sound of dogs barking at the lightening outside. Fall asleep again.

3:45 a.m. - Wake up to the sound of my HORRIBLE alarm clock. Hit snooze and fall asleep again.

3:54 a.m. - Alarm goes off again. Pull myself out of bed and take the dogs outside. Feed the cat. Start the coffee.

4:00 a.m. - Let the dogs back in and watch them run into the bathroom to pee and poop on the floor. Clean up pee and poop.

4:03 a.m. - Shower

4:20 a.m. - Make lunch for Isaac, pack lunch for self: 2 apples, one orange, grapes (I'm on a fruit binge), PB sandwich, 4 mini Snickers, baggie of goldfish crackers, diet coke and water bottle.

4:25 a.m. - Put bagel in toaster, get bags ready - checklist: phone, wallet, books, umbrella.

4:30 a.m. - Blowdry, makeup and finish getting dressed.

4:45 a.m. - Out the door.

5:15 a.m. - Pick up Bonnie and drive together to catch the van.

5:40 a.m. - Fall asleep on the van.

6:40 a.m. - Wake up, jump in the front seat of the van and drive the last leg to school. Park crooked in lot 34.

7:03 a.m. - Stagger into office and check email (this takes an hour).

8:00 a.m. - Study at library. Stats and Unix - exam coming up on Thursday! Read Amartya Sen for Econ class discussion on Wednesday.

9:30 a.m. - Stats 365

11:00 a.m. - Stats 360

12:15 p.m. - Eat lunch outside (quickly), then try to figure out where the "Education Library" is by consulting campus map. Start walking.

12:45 p.m. - Arrive at campus library in time for "RefWorks" workshop.

2:30 p.m. - Rejoice in the discovery of "RefWorks" - sofware that generates a bibliography in APA format!!! Chat with Kasia who is in Bangladesh over Gmail Chat.

3:00 p.m. - Begin walk to lot 34.

3:30 p.m. - Drive van to pick up van poolers.

3:55 p.m. - Get in back seat and try to sleep but talk instead.

4:50 p.m. - Arrive at car. Drop Bonnie off and head home.

5:50 p.m. - Arrive home. Feed Isaac. Feed self. Feed dogs. Feed fish. Feed hermit crabs.

6:45 p.m. - Watch part of DVD from Bangladesh.

7:00 p.m. - Get kicked out of TV room by dad who wants to watch CSI. Refuse to leave and end up wasting an hour watching CSI.

8:00 p.m. - Call Isaac's friend's mom and set up playdate for tomorrow.

8:15 p.m. - Pack overnight bag to spend the night in Madison.

8:30 p.m. - Attempt at cleaning - lasts 30 seconds.

8:31 p.m. - Brush teeth and get into bed.

8:35 p.m. - Get up again to get Isaac's medicine for him. Remember that I have to print test review sheets.

9:00 p.m. - Get back into bed with test review sheets and make a list.

9:30 p.m. - Turn on Enya CD and rub Isaac's back. Talk about the bee sting he got in school today.

10:00 p.m. - Isaac is asleep. Dogs are asleep. I'm almost asleep...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bipolar disorder.

This time of year in the Midwest is signified by funky weather. It will be 50 degrees one day and 90 the next. Last week I had to scrape frost off of my windshield, and this morning we had the air conditioner on in the van. (note: I was freezing in the van, but I think I might be the only person riding who is not in menopause.) I LOVE this time of year, especially because of the beautiful colors of the leaves. The soybeans in the fields turn a brilliant golden color, the sumac is bright red, and there are litte purple flowers blooming in the ditches by my house.

So, even though I had piles of homework this weekend, I didn't do it until last night. It's a strange combination - I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my performance, but I put things off until the last possible moment and then get stressed out about it. I had Saturday, Sunday AND Monday to finish my piles of homework, but only managed to get about half of it done.

Last night, as I labored over my regression problems for Stats 360, with "Courage the Cowardly Dog" blasting on the TV, I suddenly heard the friendly beep of my phone - a text message! "Hey Chica! I can detect your stress level from here! Hang in there! tkp"

I haven't talked to Tanya for a few weeks, and she lives in Worcester, MA (way far from here), but it's so awesome to have a friend who can empathized thousands of miles away!

I put Isaac to bed, turned off the TV, and knuckled down for the long haul. After kicking some regression butt, I read a few articles on economics, and passed out safely in my warm bed with my boys (Isaac and the dogs). Four hours later, I was on the van, ready to attack another week!

Looks like I'll make it through, bipolarism and all.