improperlyhuman: (Default)
Too tired to go grocery shopping out of town this month, so I bought the expensive oat bran that's at the local grocery store. Maybe I'll stick to shopping in town now that I'm eating so little (and can therefore afford the pricey local groceries). Public transportation is a pain, the trip costs a lot, and I bothered with my monthly grocery trips largely out of sheer habit.

Maybe my insomnia has worsened because I've been spending so much more time in front of a screen.

My life is kind of empty. I'm bored with the same old crap. Found a great new metal band, though: Here Comes The Kraken. Metal makes spinning more tolerable.

My instructor is getting on my last damn nerve. She won't answer my questions. She types crap on the discussion board that doesn't address my problem. She keeps telling me "it's clear" and "there's no question" after I ask a question! I don't know if she's bullshitting me or what; she can't be this stupid.

The discussion board itself is a pain to navigate. I'm doing well on the quizzes, which are graded automatically, but her arbitrary grading of assignments has brought my grade down a few points. Details seem to elude her. An editor who is bad with details. Jesus Christ. I would like to know what's up with her; it's a mystery. I wonder if complaining to the UCB Extension office will help.

I was really anxious about continually asking her the same question because I'm sure it irritates her and I have trouble dealing with others' emotions when they involve me. Dammit, it's her job though, and she's already told us to ask until we understand. This is such a drag, especially since I'm busy working. I made sure to select a different instructor for the second course in the sequence.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
Feeling better today but I still have a mild headache every day. Maybe the amount of work I've been doing is contributing to my feeling vaguely ill.

Today is one of those days...I just feel great in my body. It's a damned good body I've got.

Not impressed with my course so far. Both the required grammar textbooks are trash, I can't understand the instructor's explanations, and the course website is a pain to navigate. This is what UC Berkeley has to offer?

It's been a looooooooong time since I used that "school" tag.

I've got some great books coming in the mail and I'm excited about it. I don't have much else to be excited about.

I wasted months sick and over-exercising/over-eating, so now I'm not slim enough to buy pants in time for the cold. Let's see how much weight I can lose in a month.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
Photobucket has stopped hosting the main image I use on my blog, the Magritte painting, so that's gone. Too much effort to re-upload it. No, it isn't too much effort; it's that I feel stupid being so involved as to bother re-uploading it. Even healthy levels of involvement make me feel stupid sometimes. Involvement presents vulnerability to disappointment. Disappointment is not even relevant to re-uploading an image, but withdrawing from involvement has become compulsive; that's why it's a problem.

Focus on the positive. I finally ordered a new saddle for my bike today. I've been having pain in my groin and backside while riding. Dammit, I tried, I tried so hard to find a saddle that's manufactured in the U.S. or at least a non-sweatshop country. I was really impressed with Sqlab, so I finally ordered from them. The company is German; I don't know where their saddles are manufactured. No one answered my email.

One hundred and sixty-nine dollars. This saddle better be like sitting on air.

Tomorrow is bridge night and I'm excited!

I lifted yesterday evening, first time in a week or so. I hardly lifted anything, only squatted up to 75 lbs., yet my thighs are sore today. Maybe its the reps that made me sore. I squatted the empty barbell for 30 reps, only 3 reps on the 75 lbs. Goin' for endurance.

I feel so freakin weak. I miss lifting heavy. I miss knowing that I can pick up damn near anything a person would ever need to pick up. This is the price I pay to have the body I want. I saw a female cyclist while I was searching for saddles and she had the body I want. I was inspired. Maybe that's not the right word. Heartened. People who lift do not have the body I want. And I'm thinner now and find dieting easier. So my path is clear.

I guess I still am strong enough to pick up damn near anything a person would ever need to pick up. People don't usually need to lift more than sixty or so pounds at a time. I just wanna Hulk out.

I don't enjoy squatting for endurance. When I squat I hold my breath to brace my abs. Combined with the many reps, this quickly puts me out of breath.

I'm discouraged about being a clarinetist. I haven't been motivated to pick up the instrument for the past few days. My guests have thrown me off what passed for my schedule.

Discouraged about finding housing and worried that I'll have to put it off because my sister may not be able to move with me and keep her job. I made sure she got on the waiting list for a nearby shelter. She can't stay with me. My nephew's elocution is grating.

I need work on handling emotions, mine but especially others'. I would rather do without than ask for something that may upset someone even a little. I don't want to ask my neighbor to move her stuff so that my sister can use my half of the storage space. My dislike of talking comes into play as well.

I've also noticed that I tend to expect people to not give me what I want, thereby killing my own motivation to ask. And if they say no or even seem hesitant to grant my wish, I feel stupid and berate myself for my involvement no matter how much I needed what I asked for. I even feel kind of off even if they say yes. Madness.

I'm starting my first course in about five days. It's called Grammar and Mechanics or something like that. I'm irritated that one of the mandatory textbooks is A Writer's Guide, which was a required textbook for my freshman English class in college! It seems too basic to waste thirty dollars on. Well. It's been through several editions since then; maybe it offers more now. And a little refresher won't hurt.

Another required text is this hokey Grammar for Dummies type book called Woe is I. Bestselling non-fiction is bound to be geared towards idiots. It has cutesy section titles to amuse readers who have the learning style of a child. All this extra bullshit is actually a barrier to learning for me. I'm flipping through it now and the contents look pretty damn basic. This book at least was only seven dollars on ebay.

I have to get out of here! so that I at least have the chance to go on dates. The cold is coming and still no heater. I'm getting desperate and considering moving to Sacramento. Being surrounded by concrete will be depressing, but I'll be able to cycle round the river and stuff at least. I hate being at the mercy of other people in my choice of a home. Hate it beyond words.

improperlyhuman: (Default)
I was once again reminded of the cognitive effect of insufficient sleep as I stood in the grocery store aisle for too long today, struggling to do the simple mental arithmetic necessary to determine which of two applesauce packages was the better deal.

I'm focusing today on reading the text of the many Propositions that will be on the ballot. Burning jealousy is what I felt as I scanned the multilingual education initiative. Native English-speaking students given the opportunity to learn in an immersive foreign language environment! I wanted so badly to learn a foreign language when I was a child. I didn't get my chance until junior high school, and I've certainly never had any immersion (except when I was in France, to an extent). Immersion may have allowed me to overcome the learning difficulties caused by my auditory processing deficit.

One of the shelter clients is a Russian speaker with very limited English skills. She's been doing the wrong chore, and attempts to make her understand this seem to have failed. I worked up enough brain cells to compose a sentence that is simple enough for me to translate into Russian to explain this to her, but my Russian is so rusty that I can't remember the words. I can't even remember the word for "night." The degradation of my cognitive abilities is frustrating. All that time I spent studying Russian, and I can scarcely remember any of it when I finally have the opportunity to use it!

So I have a basic Russian-as-a-foreign-language text next to me to jog my memory. Reading the language is no problem. I also downloaded Anki and recovered my digital foreign language flash card decks from Dropbox so that I can begin studying languages again. Re-familiarizing myself with the Russian keyboard layout will be something of a problem.

Both dorm reps have been relieved of their duties. We have one new dorm rep and one who is returning to dorm rep duties, one of the people who was dorm rep when I arrived at the shelter. How long will they last? The bathroom floor is a mess because the person who took the chore didn't know that it involved cleaning both the dressing room area and the sink and toilet area. She hasn't the physical ability to handle both.

Another yelling match between residents yesterday morning. The same person (the ex dorm rep assistant) who called the other client a wetback unleashed even worse epithets. I can scarcely remember what her target said, I was so taken aback. Misogynistic epithets between womyn is awful for me.

Some of the womyn have (or had, at this point) pneumonia! I don't know whether multiple bugs were going around or I just had it easier because I'm relatively young and healthy. I was only sick for three or four days.

Having my food stamps transferred to this county seems to have went off without a hitch: food stamps were available on time (today). For lunch, I had a falafel and hummus wrap ($4.69), kettle chips ($0.99), salad greens ($0.76), and two ethically traded dark chocolate bars ($0.49 apiece) dipped in bulk peanut butter (about two bucks for half a pound). This week, I'm trying hard to not overeat despite the fact that I still feel hungry. Dinner will be a ciabbatini ($0.99) dipped in bruschetta ($2) that is left over from yesterday.

I have less prosaic things to post, but the brain won't cooperate.

I missed out on another work opportunity today because of my refusal to work with Google Docs. Such a pity! I so wish that people would choose another tool for document collaboration.

I'm nearing sixty days in the shelter, so I'm eligible for VA dental care.
improperlyhuman: icon says: Radical Feminism: Females First. Always. (females first)
I have a feeling that I will soon begin to hallucinate if I don't start sleeping properly in the near future. I had some weird mental stuff going on today and had to snap myself out of it. I'm dozing off and barely conscious during the day, but come nightfall I feel good, I feel awake. I guess us demi-vampires can only be daywalkers for so long before our true nature reigns us back in.

The company for which I edit research papers put out a new contract. I wasted my time reading through it, then took the plunge and rejected it, so I will no longer be working for them, effective in two days.

I'd been considering quitting for some time because my supervisors' bumbling had my QC scores down so low that I was being paid a measly eleven dollars per 1000 words. I'm earning way more than that with my clients (way more than the max pay, even), and business is reasonably good. I'd only been holding on to that job (not working but not quitting either) as a kind of insurance plan for when my other work dried up, but the pay is so low and I have so much money in my bank account, it isn't even worth that now.

At the moment, I am so out of it all day that I do not want any new editing jobs; I doubt that I could give them sufficient attention. I am fortunate that my QC project requires little attention.

I was glad to find out that edX offers financial aid. I'd been upset at the $99 price tag on the Agile development course, especially given that certification requires two additional courses.

Coursera and edX seem to be transforming into more business-like outfits. Both used to offer free honor system certificates, but edX has stopped altogether and only a few old Coursera courses continue to offer them. Certificates for all edX courses and new Coursera courses must be purchased.

Some Coursera courses don't even allow students to submit homework and take quizzes if they aren't on the paid track, and figuring out how to audit Coursera's courses isn't as easy as it used to be. This evolution seems antithetical to the organization's free and open education philosophy.

There has been much discussion (and even a few studies) about the role of and student performance in MOOCs, particularly in relation to traditional educational institutions and disadvantaged students.

I've been particularly interested in the discussions about whether MOOCs increase opportunities for poor students, but there may not be much to see given the decrease in free offerings. Financial aid is available from both edX and Coursera (the two biggest holders of the MOOC pie, as far as I can tell), but it isn't guaranteed (although I did receive financial aid for every single Coursera course for which I requested it), and I really wonder if many students (especially U.S. students) would bother. They could do the same with community college.

Fees or no, I'm quite sure that MOOCs will do little for disadvantaged students because I expect that most of this population lacks a crucial skill/learning temperament: independent learning. Besides that, most MOOCs are college-level courses, for which most disadvantaged students undoubtedly lack prerequisites. The hordes of would-be community-college students who haven't yet passed first semester algebra are not going to benefit from programming and data science MOOCs. They may be prepared for some of the humanities MOOCs (then again, many new high school grades typically cannot write), but the humanities don't offer as many opportunities as STEM disciplines, and opportunities are exactly what these students need.

I don't feel very tired, so I'm going to go to bed at a more organic time rather than trying to force myself to sleep early.
improperlyhuman: (dark Mulder)
It's four A.M. I can't sleep. I half fell asleep some hours ago, but I was dream-thinking of Python, and it eventually awakened me completely.

I'm extremely disappointed about missing my programming assignment deadline, which was four hours ago. I worked so hard, and I was so close. Even with so many hours wasted to brain fog, I was close. I could have had an answer within another hour. I'm just not accustomed to the necessity of optimizing my programs for resource efficiency, and my poor laptop struggled under the load. And I was given much more work than I was told to expect.

Now I get to destroy my wrists in the attempt to meet my employer's ridiculous deadline. I should have checked the length of the files before agreeing to this deadline.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
The VA got me a new bed. The housing coordinator who found my apartment connected me to a charity organization that is searching for some used furniture to give me.

I'm sleeping well, but recently I can't fall asleep until late, or early in the morning, rather, about two or three A.M. I'm having dreams, rather vivid dreams, every single night. I've been eating a lot more fruit lately, and it has occurred to me that this might be having the same effect as processed sugar.

Last night, I dreamed that I was homeless and living in a van again, except I had a child with me. The kid was either my nephew or a dream amalgam heavily based on my nephew. I had recently begun hanging out with another homeless womon. She had decided that she was going to Paris to seek a better life, and I was considering going with her. Then the dream shifted and I was in Paris, alone and with very little, as if I had decided on a whim to check it out first before committing to live there for a longer time period.

There was that penetrating French cold again. I went into some sort of center, like a Ministry of Education or something, and looked around. I didn't have much money. I wandered into a place that looked like a storage or coat room. There was money lying about on tables, and I grabbed some of the coins. After I'd left the room and was making for the front door, and felt little knobs or hooks on the edges of the coins. I decided that they were probably coat check tokens rather than money.

I woke up in a vaguely depressed mood. I was suddenly thinking about my poor linguistic achievements and the possibility that they are caused by auditory processing disorder. This is depressing because I wouldn't have much control over it. This is the first time I can recall ever having felt academically trapped, unable to improve, unable to live up to my own expectations, inadequate. I do not like that feeling at all. I can read rather well, but the auditory part of languages has always been a struggle. I have to force myself to pay attention to the recordings. I can't put up with anything even remotely as long as a movie. It irks me to no end that I'm not textually familiar with all of the words in the dialogue because that is the only hope I have of picking up on them auditorily. I have to have a picture of the word in my mind to even recognize it when it is spoken.

This is part of the reason why, probably the main reason why, I got a bit obsessive with my vocabulary drills when I was in France. I knew from years of experience that there was no hope of learning much via listening. I remember starting my drills one day, and astramance said that I should practice speaking and listening more, and that I couldn't learn the language by drilling text. I was angry with her. I think that underneath that anger was frustration. I didn't know how to explain to her that what she suggested wouldn't work. I doubt I could even have consciously explained it to myself.

This is also why I haven't been drilling even though my due vocabulary is piling up. I need to be connected to the Internet so that Google TTS can pronounce the words for me as I look at the text. Putting the text together with the pronunciation is how I compensate for my poor auditory skills, and I don't want to miss the opportunity for that auditory reinforcement by drilling at my Internet-bereft apartment, where I would be forced to read the cards in silence.

So. Good I got that out of my system. In general, I don't care too much about how my auditory whatever affects my life and that there's no cure and not many treatments, but it would be nice to be better at languages. As I like to say, the more languages one knows, the more womyn to which one has access.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
I hate, hate, hate that science textbooks only ever answer "what," and hardly ever answer "why" or "how." They present a shitload of facts that are not immediately verifiable, and the thinking reader must therefore wonder how these facts are known, or how they can be proved to be correct. In my experience, this information, which is crucial to being truly knowledgeable in whatever field is under study, is next to impossible to track down. It is quite easy to graduate from a reputable university with a degree in science, and to be completely unable to prove, or to even suggest a demonstration that would lay the foundation for proving, the validity of the stack of "facts" one has amassed. Lacking the knowledge and skills that constitute this fundamental facet of science, these graduates are far from being scientists. They have, in fact, accepted a number of pieces of information on nothing more than faith. Though the paper degree may be worth something, what exists in their heads, as a result of their formal schooling, at least, is not much more than what one can acquire by spending a small fraction of tuition costs on science textbooks from
improperlyhuman: (Default)
The temp agency called me. My resumé is being emailed in for a warehouse delivery job. I have strong doubts that I can drive around in the sun without dying, but I'm willing to give it a try. I gave it the old college try (wtf does this saying even refer to?), but I'm sick of online tutoring again. I think I could stand it somewhat more with adults, but with youngsters? No way.

There are some philosophy of physics graduate programs I'm interested in. The degree certainly wouldn't increase my earning power one iota, but perhaps the curriculum would help to finally answer my questions. I'm glad that I've learned to be wary of turning to others for knowledge. Maybe I could live by being a graduate student for the rest of my life. Actually, I don't think the stipends pay enough to cover rent.

It gets lonely being a femininity non-conforming (FNC) womon. Not lonely like I want to go out and meet a bunch of people, intellectually lonely, I guess? It's sad that some lesbians hate on others for not conforming to femininity. Talk about brain-washed.

There are a lot of obstacles to various sorts of sociopolitical resistance, but I find intellectual obstacles the most insidious, perhaps the most difficult to overcome. With many people, one cannot simply give them a book and say, here, go educate yourself about these complex issues. For those of us with privileged educational backgrounds, it can be difficult to figure out how to make our positions attractive or even comprehensible to victims of the labyrinth of intellectual enslavement. In the U.S., we start off by under-educating youngsters in public schools, then funnel them into a lifetime of dull work that leaves many too tired to come home and exercise their brains. We limit ourselves further by pushing and giving in to the ideal of raising a family, which work already barely leaves time for. Parents are too busy and tired to intellectually stimulate the children properly, use the TV as a babysitter, and when kindergarten rolls around, the process starts all over again. Girls, of course, have their own struggles with learning as society revs up its gender-based inferiority socialization during the primary school years.
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