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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Happy Video

My latest favorite video- Ben Lee's Catch my Disease. Utterly breezy, fluffy & fun. Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

5 reasons why we hate The O.C.

1) It has "Hilary Duff"-ed all that we love and hold dear, i.e. Death Cab for Cutie and fantagraphics.
2) It reminds us too much of Beverly Hills 90210 (set in California and too many character doubles: Trey-- Dylan, Ryan-- Brandon, Seth-- David). Too mortifying a period in our past to resurrect.
3) We find it offensive that high school kids in the show drive fancier cars than we do.
4) As Berkeley-rejects, it reminds us of what we're missing not studying in California (the coast, the beach, the sun...).
5) Against our better judgement, we watch it anyway.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Collaborative Narratives- Collaborative Learning in the Blogosphere

In a couple of minutes, Jude will defend his Masters thesis. Short of webcasting it (he forbade me to bring a camera...), giving a running commentary is as close as I can get to to documenting this event. The turnout is pretty good. He's the first Masters student at his school to choose the thesis option so everyone has turned up to watch. I had to fight tooth and nail to get him to let me come. And he let me only if I agree to sit in the corner away from his line of vision because I'll make him nervous. I'm hiding behind a TV. The defense is actually being broadcast so that people in the North Campus can watch it as well. So basically, this is a BIG DEAL, despite what my husband chooses to believe.

HIs advisor has just given the preliminary introduction- he just called this event "historic"- my husband is historic!! :) I can just feel his nervousness radiating, but he's hiding it well. He's wearing his Paul Frank "Everything's Cool" tie in a bid to diffuse the anxiety that has been been nothing but building up these past two weeks. I think there hasn't been a night that he's had more than 4 hours of sleep.

Everyone's giving him their rapt attention- good sign. Either that or the cookies we're serving must be real tasty. He's talking about blogs right now. His whole argument is about how blogs enable learning to take place in a collaborative way where other forms of learning technology have only been interactive. Basically, his thesis "proposes that the use of group authored narratives (i.e. Collaborative Narratives) in a Blogosphere represents a reconceptualization of how knowledge is created, shared, recreated and disseminated."

Someone just asked him a tough question about what narratives are and I think he answered it beautifully. And with minimal hesitation too. His definition of narrative is broad- any kind of ordering of information can be considered a narrative and the professor just asked then why define narratives if it's eveything and anything which we verbalize and articulate. My wonderful husband came back with a smooth response; that narratives are actually very specific articulations. They are differentiated from mere logs: "The king died. The queen died." That's just a log of information. "The king died and then the queen died." That's a narrative. It involves sequencing and ordering. It suggests a relationship and is an attempt to make sense of what was otherwise just information.

People are laughing. Another good sign. I think if these defense things are taken less seriously and more in the spirit of academics sharing their research, everyone would enjoy themselves more. I see our friends nodding appreciatively. I love them. And Jude's trying so hard to not look in my direction. And not to smile. Too cute...

That professor is asking him a question again- what's with that guy? Jude's doing great though. Not letting that faze him. I think he's drama training is doing him good in terms of speaking in public. I think having taught helps too.

More nodding. Good job Jude. I think it's always important when speaking to large groups to get some kind of affirmation, any indication that people aren't actually thinking about how much more they would rather be outside with an ice-cream cone than here with a roomful of stuffy professors (ok, maybe not so stuffy, but you know what I mean about the ice-ceam cone...)

More questions, and more good answers from Jude. He's prepared man... And here I was worried for him the whole of today. He was convinced he was going to have to flubber his way through but he's doing good do far. I'm really proud of him. It hasn't been an easy process and I think he's risen to the challenge superbly. The cognitive dissonance that we've both encountered here has actually been great for our intellectual development and I think this is one of the biggest reasons why being in a good university like U-M is such an awesome experience. You're really pushed to be bigger, better and brighter than you've ever thought you could be.

He's explaining (ok, trying to explain) the regression analysis that I helped him with and admitting the fact that I had a part to do with it. Everyone just turned around to look at me. Great, so much for being unobtrusive. Thanks Jude. Good job going through the regression results though. Yes, you got those variables right. No matter, that's what our summer is going to be. He's doing a couple of classes on statistics in the social sciences, and I have a course in Hierarchical Linear Modelling (I know, I know, why do I do this to myself??...)

That professor is at it AGAIN! Dude, get a grip! Stop giving my husband a hard time! Apparently he's gay and has made passes at some of his male students. There goes any semblance of professional protocol... Ooh, cool, another professor just jumped in and defended Jude's point. Thanks Mick. This professor has the same academic background as Jude: both of them have had experiences with experimental theatre, music, and both switched interests totally to look at cognition and technology. He's cool. A little odd and socially awkward (a trait he DOES NOT share with Jude thankfully), but cool nonetheless I guess.

Ok last leg- he's going through the future implications of this research and potential applications. Looking good. Final thanks now. Hey! My name is on the PowerPoint! He just acknowledged me. I think I'm going to cry...

He's fielding the questions. Wow, many hands. Please, be nice guys. I promise I'll make good food when you next come over... "What do you mean by scaffolding?' C'mon Jude, you know this. Lev Vygotsky. Give them the whole Zone of Proximal Development spiel. Interesting use of rubber band analogy, that you have to be stretched in order to learn optimally, but that this stretching has to take place with constructive support.

HIs advisor is giving the closing statements now. He just commended Jude on his intellectual curiosity and drive. That's nice :) Ok, it's over! Three rounds of applause- woah! :) I think it was well-received on the whole. We're all going to Grizzly Peak for dinner and drinks to celebrate. Jude is now officially a "Master of Information"!

My husband rocks! :) This has been a lot of hard thinking and hard work, and it's paid off. Now, on to the PhD. Four more years, and I'm be blogging about his dissertation defense. I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mr. Bus-Driver Man

So I was on the bus this morning when one of life's sweetest moments unfolded before me; ok, maybe it didn't really unfold there and then, but I witnessed the first inklings of it. The bus was at the bus-stop waiting for its scheduled time to leave and it was just me on it. The elderly driver decides to take a quick break and walks towards the nearby shrubs. He's the nice one, not the guy who wouldn't stop for you once he left the bus bay even if you were in crutches, with a kid in tow and two bags of groceries bouncing off your hand... I hate that man. So anyway, back to my story- I was convinced Mr. Bus-Driver was going to have a smoke- which I was fine with as long as he didn't come back and start to talk with me. Public transportation people always talk to me. Back home, I had a cab-driver once tell me about his affair with a Thai girl and even showed me her photo. He said I looked like someone who would understand. What the...???????? Anyway, I digress again- Mr. Bus Driver man. What happened instead was that he plucks from the shrubs two stalks of pretty flowers and brings them back with him. Don't worry you nature-loving conservartionists- there was nothing uncivic-minded about what he did- the whole shrub is profuse with these stalks of little yellow flowers.

So he gets back on the bus and sheepishly smiles at me, embarassed almost. It was like I caught him doing something no one else should be privy to. "For my wife." he said. And that was that. He arranges them carefully next to him, making sure that them wouldn't fall off when he drove. No one else came up the bus till a couple of stops later and I was in school 10 minutes after. When I got off the bus, he smiled at me again, a conspiratorial smile almost. "I hope she likes them." was all I could say even though I wish I could have said more to him. For those few moments when we were the only ones on the bus, it was like we shared a small slice of experience. Even though Mr. Bus Driver was caught up in the mundane routine of driving students to and from school, thoughts of the woman he loves wasn't far away.

I hope Mrs. Bus-Driver likes her flowers.
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep:

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with false love or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
-- "When You're Old and Grey", W. B. Yeats

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Happy Birthday Sam!

My little sister turns 12 today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM!

One flew over *this* cuckoo's nest...

It's like having a baby, minus the nausea, the 9-month gestation and a baby shower... but apart from that, the ailments are the same- inexplicable mood swings, neglecting my husband, losing my appetite and bouts of self-doubt and crying. Lots of crying. Last week, I was listening to NPR and just started bawling for no rhyme or reason. It was a show on scientists finding a new strain of the flu virus. Enough said. Doing this quantitative research methods project all but consumed my life for the past 3 weeks and it's OVER!!!!! I made my presentation today and like giving birth, you feel both relieved of the burden but at the same time overwhelmed by waves and waves of uncertain feelings (or so I assume)- did I run the data correctly? Did I control for all possible variables? Why didn't I listen more carefully to my secondary school Math teacher??

It was truly a harrowing and distressing experience- oh don't get me wrong, I learnt a ton of stufff, but honestly, I wish the whole process was less trying on my physical and emotional well-being. C'mon when my last waking thought every night for the past 20 days was contemplating the variance of kindergarteners' reading ability explained by family characteristics, something's freakily wrong. There's no morally defensible reason why an English major like me should have been stuck with a calculator in my bag everyday this last 3 weeks (and using it no less... do you know that if you multiply numbers between 1 and -1 with lots of zeroes after the decimal point, you get really teeny values with even more zeroes in them? After a couple of days, I realized that fiddling with these numbers was an exercise in abject futitlity...)

Anyways- whatever, it's over. The moment I was done with the presentation, I heaved a sigh of relief that at that point had to be the world's most subtle but most profound gesture of emotional catharsis. Afterwards, I celebrated with a whole pint of sangria and an indulgent two-hour long nap smack in the middle of the day (*gasp* how decadent no?) Now, I'm finally able to really enjoy the gorgeous Spring weather- our living room doors are wide open, I'm about to ravish two weeks worth of the New York Times Sunday Edition, a huge pot of chili is simmering on the stove and Joss Stone's "Sleep Like A Child" is playing on the iPod. See, life's better already... :)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Four more days

Note to self: just grit our teeth and clench our fists. Four more days, four excruciatingly more "qi"-depleting, neuron-devoring, "whatever-possessed-us-to-do-this" days...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Our new friend, Foster.

So how geeky is this? I am sitting here in Espresso Royale on Wednesday $2 Latte Day (someone should just IV this soy latte into my bloodstream man...), blogging on our new toy- a 12" PowerBook G4- and enjoying it to no end... I'm not even doing anything vaguely techie- just typing- and it's giving me a rush! Like I said, too geeky... It's my congratulations/graduation/ birthday/ anniversary present to Jude (actually doing the calculations, it should probably count as my Christmas and Valentine's Day 2006 present to him too...). It was a great deal and we just couldn't resist. It's such a beautifully designed piece of technology- honestly, someone should give Apple an award. Well, the iPod IS on display in MOMA's Industrial Arts gallery, so there...

Anyways, our little PowerBook's named after E. M. Foster- no we're not being pretentious (ok, maybe a little) but basically it's because we've networked the house so all the computers and techie stuff are named. Our network's called Bloomsbury after the literary/ social group and everything's inspired by the people who were involved in it: my iPod's affectionately called Woolf, Jude's iPod is named Strachey (after the biographical historian Lytton Strachey), and then there's Foster. Our desktop and the other laptop (which is now going to be mine!) are Roethke and Eliot respectively. I know, they aren't commonly associated with the Bloomsberries but they read alot of T. S. Eliot in their meetings, and as for Theodore Roethke, well, I just like him a whole lot. I love his "The Waking" (he was a U-M alum!) and Jude's a huge Eliot fan.

I'm really enjoying this PowerBook although Jude's probably the one who's going to use it more since his work requires those design programs that run better on Macs. It's so much cheaper to buy Apple stuff here in the States. I know how exhorbitant it is just to get an iPod mini back home (two of the people closest to me are still reeling- monetarily and existentially- from their decision to buy the fashionably St. Patrick's green iPod mini each...) Here, especially in a college town like Ann Arbor, every other person in the gym is wearing those ubiquitous white ear-phones and there're really many more people with Macs than PCs (in my school at least...).

But still, at the end of the day though, I don't know if I'd ever get used to not being able to right-click...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Happy Pic

Here's a nice happy picture of us I didn't even know was taken... I can't even remember what we were laughing about but it's a nice one :) Thanks Dan!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Theresa Marie

I wasn't going to blog about this. It's not in my place. In fact, it's not in anyone's place to talk about this except the ones who matter- namely her family and close friends. But I feel almost outraged that this country has taken it upon itself to make a media and political spectacle out of what is fundamentally a very private and painful experience.

When we die, we want to be remembered as a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, a friend. And that should be enough. A person's death shouldn't have to "represent" a battle lost, a cause triumphant or a country divided... A woman died. Do we fully appreciate what that means? Two parents lost their child and a husband lost his wife. That is a profound sorrow that must be acknowledged and most importantly respected, not used as a tool to pursue, indict or condem.

Let us not just think of her as Terri Schiavo, a name that is now so often metioned in a phrase "the Terri Schiavo case". Her name is not just a label, it is what her parents named her when she was born. Maybe we ought to remember her as a real person, as Theresa Marie.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


I love my gmail account!

A crustacean addendum

Love Actually (2004)
Daisy: I'm the lobster.
Karen: The lobster?
Daisy: Yeah.
Karen: In the nativity play?
Daisy: Yeah, *first* lobster.
Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
Daisy: Duh.

Jude's fave movie lines (in response to Serene's)

So, in response to Serene, here's my take on favorite movie lines from 2 movies which had a lasting impact on my formative years ;)

The Big Lebowski (1998)
My all time favourite lines were totally improvised before the cameras by John Turturro playing Jesus Quintana:

"Let me tell you something, pendejo ..."

"It don't matter to Jesus ..."

Snatch (2000)
Classic lines uttered by the poker faced Alan Ford who plays the Mob Boss - Brick Top:

"Do you know what "nemesis" means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by an 'orrible cunt... me."

"In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary... come again." (unfortunately I am unable to find the audio file for this, but you get the picture ...)