Saturday, October 27, 2007

Self-Portait in Pixels on Monitor

You can play here if you like.

Running in Circles

Another reason why I might have been confused about last week's 10k - There's another one tomorrow. Pardon me while I adjust my running playlist. :)

Colloquium Colloquium Colloquium - C'mon, It Is Fun to Say

One of the coolest things going on this year is a student-run colloquium for the grad-folk. Everyone even remotely related to the study of Gruub in all her glory can feel welcome to come on down and talk shop. Nothing to spectacular there, right? We bring in articles from various parts of the Gruub matrix and talk about them, which is cool, because we get to see what's state of the art in related fields that we've never really mucked about in. Every other week, we invite professors in to talk about what they are working on and such, which is nice, because on no-prof weeks, we can have the more informal talks without the stress of a possible advisor or committee member hovering about, but we've still got them around when we need them.

What's very cool about this, and what makes it better than I thought it would be, is that we've ended up talking about things that we need to know on a practical level that I've never heard discussed openly and freely in groups of academics that didn't involve booze. Not only are we talking about the field, but we're asking, and actually getting fairly important professors to talk seriously and thoughtfully about the politics of (for example) writing reviews ('You cannot write any kind of review, positive or negative, without making enemies' - obvious in hindsight, perhaps, but very good to know). We're talking about the hows and whys of inter-departmental and inter-field-al (?) territorial fights and biases, and because we've got people from so many fields, we're getting a really broad overview. It's a lot of stuff that seems to be generally learned by painful experience.

Last meeting, we had a wonderful knock-down drag-out fight over the implications of emerging broadening and lengthening of copyright laws as it relates to Gruub Studies. How Frickin Cool. And not something that would come up in a seminar except to perhaps feel a twinge of guilt as you run off copies of entire books.

I guess this kind of colloquium might not be a groundbreaking thing, but I've never seen it before, and I'm really impressed how it's working out. It seems to be a very useful way of easing us into the role of academics in a broader way than just writing another paper.

The copyright issue was especially interesting. I may need to do a post or three on that one. What do you folks think? Is copyright helping you more than it hurts you nowadays?

Friday, October 26, 2007

New York State of Mind

Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you guys, I had the perfect New York City morning yesterday. I went out to get bagels for breakfast. There was an insanely long line with only one guy at the counter. When I got there, there was one woman at the front of the line holding everything up while she decided what kind of shmear (schmear?) to put on her single untoasted plain bagel. 5 minutes later I got to the front of the line and got a real quality NYC scornful sneer from the counter guy. Then, as if it couldn't get better, I moved to the cashier line where the guy in front of my was texting War and Peace on his blackberry. He would type, and the counter intelligence folk would tell him how much he owed and then he would finish his sentence and the ask how much he owed before digging around in his pocket for change. After handing over the change he started typing again, only to be interupted by the CI guy trying to give him his change. The them proceeded to finish typing that sentence before putting out his hand to get the change. Then he didn't move. I had to basically elbow him out of the way to get to the counter to pay for my bagel.

I guess if I were a New Yorker, I would have cussed him out and told him that I was walking there.

Bonus New Yorker-tude: (Although actually, this is very par for where I live.)

I was running this morning and headed toward a crosswalk. A giant Fuck-The-World SUV was coming my direction, but making a left turn (toward me). I had the light, so I went into the crosswalk, with my eyes locked on the driver of the Screw-The-Planet SUV (I've been in this situation many times). Naturally, she looked me in the eye and proceeded to make the left hand turn into my crosswalk. As I have been trained when approached by wild animals, I puffed up my feathers to appear larger than I am while spreading out my arms and waving them at the idiot in the I've-Got-Money-And-No-Soul SUV. She got within 5 feet or so before slamming on her brakes and gesturing rudely toward your correspondent for daring to follow the rules of the road and have the gall to impair her ability to ignore the world around her. I have to say, that horrible piece of Offense-Toward-the-World SUV has good brakes though.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Welcome to the Anti-Social

I am very much not a social person. I don't really like people that much, see? However, I'm trying to be more sociable, especially for academic stchuff.

So I did go to the big Gruub Studies-related umbrella group gathering tonight. Yes, I did mainly mingle with folks I already knew, but I did get introduced to a couple of new people. I even stayed slightly beyond the standard mandatory 'enough time to eat, listen to the introduction and remarks + 5 minutes."

Important people saw me there, which is probably good. I got free-to-me snacks, which is definitely good. All in all, not a bad deal.

Also, a decent idea from another gradfolk: Keep a sportcoat in the office so when there is a speaker or other gathering, you can just throw it on and look a little more respectable. Maybe I need to look into this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Can I Try Today Again?

Wednesdays suck.

I'm teaching a 10am and 11am class. Then I've got a 12pm Japanese class followed by a 3 hour seminar at 1pm. So, you read that right, 6 hours straight of class. Today was even better because I had a presentation in the seminar on a topic that I don't really grok. In the seminar of course, we spent more time on other material that I not only don't grok, but also didn't prepare. When we got around to my presentation, there wasn't enough time, so I had to rush through it.

To recap: I'm tired. I didn't teach well, I wasn't able to turn in some homework for Japanese, I looked like a complete idiot on the seminar material we covered and I didn't have enough time to even try to make up my ignorance with a mediocre presentation.

I might also add that there is a Japanese test tomorrow, too.

Guh. Feh. and Bah.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Find the Star

For all that you hold holy, as you value your time and hope to get work done do not under any circumstances click on this link and play the game.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I am such a geek. I've got a pencil-bag thing, because I have so many different pens and highlighters and Sharpies and post-it tags and and and and.

It's always in my bag. Always.

Except today, it stayed home.

I was a basketcase. I only had one regular old Pentel fattie pen in a spare pocket of my bookbag. I mean, seriously, how can I mark participation in class (yes, yes, we are required to give detailed daily participation scores) with a thick black pen ? How can I make corrections to my Japanese homework in the same color as the pen that I did the original work with? How can I make new flashcards with a fat pen(it had to be nearly 0.5mm or fatter, for Hermione's sake)? How can I grade papers without a green pen? Am I supposed to underline the texts I'm reading? Should I dogear my books when I find a passage that I want to bring up in the seminar?



It's all good though. Things are beyond cool, really. Why? Because of this.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Long Post on a Long Run

Whew. It's been awhile since I last did a big-ish 10k. I had completely forgotten how much fun it is.

Part of the uniqueness of this run was getting there. I had to rely on the public transit system, and it actually worked out fine. Except I felt kinda funny sitting there in the bus in my running garb, and until we got closer to where the race was happening, well, it was just me and what looked like a lot of folks heading off to early morning jobs on Sunday. They didn't look pleased.

There's a wonderful gathering of excitement when you get close to the starting line. First you start seeing people dressed for running. There are the showy folks - the people who have all matching-branded and color coordinated clothing, sometimes their scrunchies or iPod holders even match the color scheme (I should also mention that this is very much an iPod environment. I felt slightly out of place with my just-as-good-and-even-better-at-some-things-no-I'm-not-being-defensive Zen Micro V.) Then there are the people that you can't tell if they are there for the run or not. Some people are just dressed casually in a tshirt and shorts, with shoes that might or might not be running shoes. These folks interest me. Are they too cool to wear clothes that actually work well for running? Did someone run off with their luggage? We all got a nice ultra-light tshirt for registering. Why then?

As you get closer, you start seeing folks wearing their number bibs. Now you can really categorize people if you care to. Blue bibs for the 10kers, yellow for the 5kers, and pink for the elite runners. I'm still not sure what all that really means except that they all run faster than I do. It might be that they get priority to go to the front of the pack before the gun. Lower numbers for the early registrees - they usually know what they are doing, well, at least more than I do, cause I forgot about the whole thing.

At the starting line is where it really gets exciting. The 5k start was 30 minutes before the 10k, and I got there right in time to watch them start off. They even had an MC-ish sort of fellow up there doing the countdown. I had forgotten that they did that. It's really cool to watch a mob of people go from standing to surging forward.

After the 5k started, they started passing out the bunny hats.


They were basically a foam headband with big bunny ears sticking up in front. Genius. They were sponsored and tagged with advertising. Normally, I hate wearing advertising for people, but hey, free bunny ears! I think their strategy was to pass the ears out to the hot ladies and take pictures of them for some promotion, but they were handing them out to everyone. They, um... didn't ask for my picture, but I happily wore mine for the whole run. I should mention that it is a bit spooky seeing your shadow with demonic horn-looking things sticking out from your head when you aren't prepared for it. It's ok. Only ears.

As the time to start got closer, we all moved toward the line. They had signs marked with minute/mile times staggered out from the front: 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 etc... There was a bit of polite but nervous jockeying to get near the correct time based on what you thought you might run.

After people had basically settled in, everyone started stretching a bit, well, as much as we could stretch with people crowded all around. Everyone chatted nervously while waiting and wished everyone else a good run. An unhappy-looking collagen-injected woman in front of me didn't care for my bunny ears at all. I think she said something along the lines of, "Oh, I guess you have a sense of humor." Feh.

Then the countdown (given by a "celebrity" who actually said, "Go win. Run fast.")

5...4...3...22222.......11111111.....(no kidding. She stumbled over actually pronouncing the numbers 2 and 1. Was she being funny? Was she just trying to slow down to sync with an official clock? No clue. Maybe I don't have a sense of humor after all, bunny ears or no)

Oh, and the gun wasn't a gun. It was an air-horn.

If you haven't been in a big run, you might not know that you can't actually run when the horn goes off. Only the people at the front can actually run. Everyone behind them kind of does a wobbly shuffle-hop, shambling toward the line. It takes a while. It's all okay though, because they gave us little tracker buttons to put on our shoes to give us official times. Our times only start when we actually cross the start line, and by that time, the shamble had turned into a rumble.

It was a bit frustrating, but I really loved the start of the run. Runners took over the entire street - both lanes from sidewalk to sidewalk. Later on, we only had one lane, but for that moment, we were the traffic. The game of watching people (more entertaining than the actual run some of the time) began. Unhappy humorless women took off with a bit of a sprint. I liked that. She would burn out quick and I would pass her about a mile into the run. A lot of people do that. You get so excited that you run way too fast in the beginning and don't have anything left at the end. I forced myself to pay close attention to my pedometer to keep from going faster than the 8 minute/miles I had budgeted.

Slowly the group unclumped. The truly speedy were gone almost immediately. I would only see them after they made the u-turn and were coming back the opposite way. After they were gone, I started beating people. Well, that's all in my mind. Plenty of people were still passing me, but it's all a mind game, right? I picked out someone who was running nearly my pace and took up place behind them. Then, eventually, I would pull out in front of them, congratulating myself on my victory in a race that the other person knew nothing about. I was able to keep this game going for the whole run.

There were a couple people who I dueled with for a mile or two, but eventually I got past them all. The one who gave me the most trouble was a very attractive (at least from the back) woman with two long, crazy, hypnotically twisting braids. She passed me early, and I think it took me 3 miles to get passed her for good.

The other fun game was to chase down the other bunny heads. Unfortunately, there weren't too many in front of me that were really catchable, but each one I saw on the horizon was a moving target. Especially the one worn at a jaunty angle by a ginormous mountain of a man. His ears stuck out to the side about a foot above my head. But I passed him.

The end of the run was beautiful. There was a really strong tailwind and a very slight downgrade. I had been picking up my pace slightly. I could see people falling out and dropping back into a jog, but I actually had energy and legs left, so I lengthened my stride and picked up the pace into a quick run for the last half mile and a sprint at the end, weaving through the people in front of me. Over the music from my earphones, I heard the MC with the PA system call out, "And here comes a guy with bunny ears, sprinting for the finish, let's let him hear it!" I did.

48:42, but I can do better.