30 April 2009

Thursday in the library

Here I'm in the library, piecing together my data from a couple of external USB drives. I'm a backing up kind of person, so luckily I don't think we've lost much, if anything. Just a little bit here and there. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that you can't really realize until you need something and it's not there. The USB drive that I had been using to backup important things is a WD 120 Passport, which if there is some sort of grade for, I suspect it would be an F-. I have to reformat it so that is works on my PC, but it only seems to want to work some of the time. I can't tell what the problem is, but I think it should be okay.

Estimated time remaining 6 hours!? Okay, good, it's down to three... And FAIL! I think I have to do this is a different way for it to work.

Okay, here we go again. I shouldn't complain, as it is all there, it's just such a pain in the ass. Why the hell do I have a Jars of Clay record? I hate Jars of Clay. I guess this also gives me a chance to re-evaluate my music selection and get rid of the things I don't need. Like Luti-Kriss? What the hell and I have no idea why it estimates time so poorly. It went from about 2 hours to about an hour in like five minutes.

Still no baby, which means Yoko's dream (actual, not, you know, metaphorical) was wrong. Not the 29th. But we think that because the baby's name will be, Lord willing, 'Mei', perhaps she should be born in May. Just to round it out. The midwife came to inspect the house and we cleaned up and stuff, worried that we might get the thumbs down, but it turns out all you need is parking and someone to watch you other kid if you want to have a home birth. Not really that complicated, it would seem. We did, however, have to buy plastic sheets, something that I thought was not needed. It's not really THAT messy. Come on now

10,303 items to go.

28 April 2009

Computer is Dead

The iMac, a four year friend, a lover, everything I have ever believed in, died today around 18:30 (GMT +1). I'd like to say that it went quietly, but its fan was gasping for breath and I decided to pull the plug.

This sucks. We can't sell it because it has all of our valuable information on the hard drive still. I'm not sure what I can do. Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

This is the worst possible time for this to happen. Really. It pisses me off.

27 April 2009

Weekend re-cap

This weekend came and went quickly with one party, some house cleaning, and a lot of running. Let me explain.

I got on the scale on Friday and was horrified, although not surprised, to find myself well over where I should be in terms of my body weight. So I promised myself that I would get my fat ass out on the road and run in the morning and evening every day of the weekend. This went relatively well, except on Sunday night, when my knee almost gave out on me and I thought, Perhaps I have overdone this. Today as I was walking to work, it became very clear that, yes, in fact, I had over done it and my knee was in trouble. Time to rest, drink water, stretch, and try to not think about cookies.

I tried to take care to limit my food intake, but we went to two parties this weekend and both had very good food. At Saturday's party, I spent some time speaking badly about one of the professors at the OU who wears a dress shirt and no undershirt, and it became very clear that I held a minority opinion when it came to whether or not it was unacceptable to wear a simple white dress shirt and no undershirt. Obviously, this is wrong. Unfortunately, others disagreed.

Several people asked about this blog and said, 'Are you going to blog about this [conversation]?' and I suppose this is the answer. Yes, I blog about everything.

My shoes have also been really living up to their promise.

Naomi had to have two shots today and though we spent the whole morning trying to get her excited about it (and she was pretty excited about it), when the time came, she did end up crying a bit, but not that much. Afterwards, was proudly telling us that she had gotten a shot.

I did some cleaning, and we rearranged furniture so that when the baby comes, we'll be able to move around the house without too much trouble. It's going to be tight, but it's only about five months, so we should be okay. Naomi, after I set the crib for Mei up, insisted on sleeping in it last night. What a peculiar child.

Lastly, I had a dream about my supervisor last night, that I had to take her jeans shopping with me and she had to approve of the jeans I bought.

24 April 2009

Getting on the scale

I made the mistake (or correct choice, depending how you look at it) of getting on the scale. It's gotten out of control again, and I'm not sure this is the best time for me to start worrying about my weight. I think I just need to get on the scale more regularly, every day even, and then I will probably be more careful.

After Wednesday, we will be on call, permanently, for the baby being born. I imagine that, just to confuse us all, this one is going to be really late. That would be hilarious.


Not buying it

23 April 2009


Yoko is starting to nest. It's coming quickly.

I, however, am sort of obsessed with my shoes.

22 April 2009

Some things for Wednesday

This morning, the sun was shining and this was a portent of things to come.

First, the midwife called and was able to reschedule our home visit. In this country, to have a baby in your home, you must be 38 weeks pregnant and have had a home visit by the midwife. We had scheduled this, but it was well into the 38th week and Yoko is a bit concerned that she might pop early. The midwife was able to reschedule, ensuring that we will, from day one, be able to sling this puppy out at home, rather than the hospital. It's hard to re-arrange all your plans for things — an added stress that we were not pleased with, but it seems to have worked out. I, for one, am excited.

Second, I checked my bank account and found that the university had deposited £168.99 for my plane ticket and hotel reservations in Amsterdam in June. So I booked both and am now,  barring disaster or a very late birth of Mei, going to be there from June 3rd to the 6th. Very short, but enough time to learn about metaphors, eat some good food, and go to the van Gogh museum.

It was good to have some good things today after yesterday. Oh yesterday. The whole time I was in Japan, I felt challenged, but in a particular way. Culturally challenged, linguistically challenged, but never really intellectually challenged. There was never really a lot of push-back, and I like intellectual push-back. Fast forward to my time here at the OU and my main supervisor has, to put it quite simply, challenged me. She is a giant in her field and wants good work, intellectually rigorous work, all the time. I'm not sure I am capable of it, but I am working for it and I want to be the researcher that she wants me to be, so I think I'm in the right place. Provided, you know, I don't pull all of my hair out before then.

I scribbled some notes on a bit of paper last night. Hopefully they are intellectually rigorous thoughts. We shall see.

20 April 2009

Some things for Monday

I'm reading this very helpful book to review for Linguist List. It's called Finding Metaphor in Grammar and Usage by Gerard Steen. I'm not sure I buy the distinction between grammar and usage. I need to read another chapter.

All my YouTubers are getting crazy paranoid. The atheists. The Christians. Everyone. The craziest one is now selling (and this is not a joke) a piece of metal, covered in cement, with a carabiner connected to it and is calling it 'the turd'. He says that when they take away his guns and ammo and it gets to sticks and stones, we need to be ready. $14.95 plus $4.95 s/h. Oh and Jesus was NOT a pacifist.

Yoko wanted to go to English church yesterday, so we went and it was as maddening as ever. I just wrote a paragrpah about my religious troubles, but I deleted it. Suffice to say, it has not been resolved, and I don't think it can or will be resolved, at least not in my present situation.

Our new mattress came today and tonight is going to be great.

16 April 2009

Getting jack done

I haven't gotten much done today except firm up my plans to go to Amsterdam in June; made all the claims I need to get the money into my account. Going to fly to Amsterdam on Wednesday evening and come back to the UK on Saturday: in and out basically. I was going to live it up and stay in a nice hotel on the school's dime (nice being not a hostel), but this isn't looking to be possible and I am going to be in a hostel because it's the only place open.  I'm still young and poor and should live as though I am young and poor. I am planning one enjoyable thing: a trip to the Van Gogh museum on Friday night as it stays open until 10 PM on Friday. Wicked hot, if you ask me.

Naomi has learned a new Japanese word, 'IMA!' which means 'now'. Her favourite words are 'Nana-mo' which means 'Nana too!', 'No, no, no, no!', and 'Chodai!' which means 'Give it to me!' My new favourite words are, 'Get off me, man! This is daddy's breakfast! Stop! Stop! Stooooooooopp!'

I am reading up about presuppositional apologetics, thanks to some tangles my YouTube friend are having. I was made aware of this gem of a website for reformed theology. Apparently my famed older brother wrote about this fellow for one of his master degrees (we are a family flush with masters degrees, we roll six deep). Anyway, I think it's pretty transparent when someone says, 'I can't accept a world without God.' There you are. If you can't accept a world without God, Cornelius, then you will be able to find God. This isn't shocking to me.

Finally, I hate to break it to you, Tea-baggers, but Obama can't be a Fascist and a Socialist at the same time. He's one or the other, idiots.

H to the O to the T

I bought shoes in the States over Christmas (Chaps, American ones) and they are complete shit. They've already started to lose their heels. Luckily, in the UK, you can still get shoes repaired, but it's going to be like £15. Screw that, I thought. I've learned my lesson: No more cheap shoes. So back to the Doc Martens, I think. I had my Doc boots for four years. Wore them every day. Let's hope these bad boys do the same for me.

15 April 2009

The nature of the beast

It's funny about having kids — suddenly there is a package in the mail full of the tiniest nappies I feel I have ever seen, but it occurs to me that I have seen nappies this small before, when Naomi was born.

The weather today is very British; that is, British in the sense that I had imagined it before I came here. Cool and overcast. Barely raining at times. It's a perfect day for procrastination.

Definitely check out the new Your Infamous Harp record.

So other than that, right?

11 April 2009


We talked about this earlier, but yesterday, we went to see the possible new friendly confines and walked away with a new place to live. Sweet, 'huh? We didn't take pictures yesterday because we were just going to look, but this is what it looks like from the air. It's a huge improvement for us, complete with wrap-around garden, deck, and (best of all) conservatory. It's a British 'four bedroom' which really means two bedrooms and two smaller rooms, one which I will be able to make into an office and work from home. It has a garage too. We are going to have a one year contract on a very reduced rent, and then we'll see where it goes from there.

We don't move until September 25th, unfortunately, but it's actually best as we won't have to get out of our current situation. But come September 25th, we will be living the dream.

09 April 2009

Recession beard

My recession beard is in full swing now, and I think that I might make it over the metaphorical recession beard hump, which by my estimation, is sometime around one month.

There is a weekend of holidays in England around Easter. I liked better in Japan when we would take a week of holidays around the beginning of May just for the hell of it, rather than some religious reasons. But whatever: I'll take what I can get. I will probably still come in tomorrow though, as I am slowly, slowly working away on my literature review and I am not quite there yet. I think I am in a better metaphorical place than I was last week when I was stuck in the metaphorical weeds. But now? I'm cruising, in a metaphorical sense, of course.

Naomi today was hiding under the coffee table when it was time for me to go to school. Come and give your daddy a hug!

The vacuum cleaner also died (more bad karma), but I am no longer taking anything sitting down. I called Black and Decker and then called some centre which is going to come take it away to get fixed. No more bad appliances. You can take our women, our children, and our freedom, but you can't take our two year gaurantee. I refuse to allow it.

08 April 2009

Bad karma

In a world where you read good as a precurser to bad, bad is bound to come after good because you will it to be so.
I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, but I was waiting to hear the final word on the manuscript from Susan Herring. Susan is recommending rejection of the manuscript (I will try to get her comments for you).
This is the end of a 15 month process of my Birmingham MA dissertation which was in at the Journal of Computer-mediated Communication. This was to be my first major publication: it had been fully accepted and I had signed over the copyright of it. After it was held back from the January 2008 journal, I suspected that something was wrong and kept trying to contact the editor until this came back.

I understand why the article was rejected in the end, and I actually agree with the decision: my methods and conclusion were quite poor and certainly not at the lever of the JCMC. Getting comments back from Susan Herring when half of my current bibliography is Herring will be nice. I just want to feel like I can compete at the peer-reviewed journal level and so far, I have not been able to.

My co-worker said that I am just trying for too much, and I think she's probably right. I killed myself to get an early draft of my Literature Review done only for it to be half-assed and mess and now I have to re-write it again. This article was the same story basically.

We are going to see this house on Friday, the house that the good karma built. It will be nice to visualize the future.

Ready to give your passport back?

I am.
  • Suffocation by water poured over a cloth placed over the nose and mouth...
  • Prolonged stress standing position, naked, held with the arms extended and chained above the head...
  • Beatings by use of a collar held around the detainees' neck and used to forcefully bang the head and body against the wall...
  • Beating and kicking, including slapping, punching, kicking to the body and face...
  • Confinement in a box to severely restrict movement...
  • Prolonged nudity...this enforced nudity lasted for periods ranging from several weeks to several months...
  • Sleep deprivation...through use of forced stress positions (standing or sitting), cold water and use of repetitive loud noises or music...
  • Exposure to cold temperature...especially via cold cells and interrogation rooms, and...use of cold water poured over the body or...held around the body by means of a plastic sheet to create an immersion bath with just the head out of water.
  • Prolonged shackling of hands and/or feet...
  • Threats of ill-treatment, to the detainee and/or his family...
  • Forced shaving of the head and beard...
  • Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food from 3 days to 1 month after arrest...

05 April 2009

Many are disappointed

I am reading the Oxford book of Short Stories and it includes the most fabulous story by the editor of the volume, V S Pritchett, called 'Many are disappointed'. It's such a fabulous little story about a group of guys riding bicycles in the countryside of England, looking for a Roman road and pub to have a pint at. It is English in the way that I am coming to understand England. And it was about cycling and beer, two things I currently have a lot of interest in.

After reading the story, I obviously had that most explosive yen to go for a bike ride in the countryside and perhaps stop for a pint at a pub. When Yoko went to Japanese church, I washed the carpet and got on my bicycle. It was a perfect day to ride — I road out to a village and back up to the lake near our house where I pushed my bike up a hill and fell asleep in the grass.

Yoko came back with news about the closing of the Japanese church due to some health problems the woman who has been pastoring it has had. Apparently everything is going to change when she goes back to Japan and they are looking for a house to have the church in. Because the pastor is leaving, the house she is renting from another churchgoer will be vacant. They are hoping to rent the house to someone who will host the church a couple of times a month. In return for hosting the church, there will be some significant discount on renting the house. Our little family, ever opportunistic, is thinking about taking this 'responsibility' on and having, at least for a year, probably the nicest house we will live in... well, ever. Four bedrooms, a garden (in the British sense, mind you), a dining room. The complete opposite of the apartment we have now, and for only slightly more a month.

This means a lot of things, mostly that we will be able to host some of the people who have been hoping to come out to Ol' Blighty for a spell. Including possibly you, dream reader... Oh, who am I kidding: It means that I will be able to drag a lamp and a chair out back and read Pritchett and smoke my pipe in the moonlight.

With a slew of problems being solved recently, it makes me wonder if I am using up all this good karma that I should be putting towards my literature review. Unfortunately, the gods see fit to not consult me about the doling out of karma, and I will have to just ride out whatever negative what-have-you is to befall me.


Yesterday we went out to a farm to see what I thought were llamas. They weren't llamas. They were alpacas. I'm still not sure what an alpaca is.

04 April 2009

A Friday to end all Fridays

I went to work yesterday hoping to make some headway on my literature review, but got very little done. I think I'm trying to hard. I'm at the point where I am on a fourth draft, which for me is really bad news. It means that I am unlikely to fix it. My colleague made a good point: you can get criticized for a literature review, but no one is ever going to tell you that you have a good essay because of your literature review.

After failing at that, I came home and opened the mailbox to see an envelope from the Revenue Office with my name and address handwritten. I opened it up and saw the box starting 'You cannot claim Child Benefit...' ticked and stopped reading as I knew from our visas that we weren't allowed to claim any money from the government. I went inside and played with Naomi a little, and then picked up the letter again to read the rest of it. The box that was ticked actually read 'You cannot claim Child Benefit before 22/10/08' and hand written under that 'Payment will be made from the date above'. I opened up my online bank account and on Wednesday the government had deposited Child Benefit payments for the last six months into our account.

This is, in the land of small grant payment world, huge. It's not a lot, but it's enough to take us from just making it every month, to being able to be clearly in the black every month. It means that we will receive money from the government like a British citizen, and another £50 a month once Mei is born. So we will be able to move to a bigger apartment with no difficulty and can afford to pay for some of the things for the baby. Plus, we are likely to get a £190 child birth grant that we applied for. It's like winning the PhD student lottery.

We decided to go out to dinner to live it up, but the place we wanted to go was closed, so we thought, well we'll go to the supermarket and buy some things that we don't normally buy. I bought beer and crisps... and we got some toilet paper and some other stuff we needed: grand total £18. Then we got Chinese takeout and I realized something very important about the UK: If you are going to eat out, you will pay essentially twice as much for the same food you can get at takeout. And all for the pleasure of sitting in a different building.

Our financial situation has improved enough that I think we are not going to have to go into the red to have this next baby and maybe even replace the broken computer in the next couple of months. And given that Yoko and I tend to not change our living style when we get more money, I think we may be able to travel back to Japan once during the PhD and maybe even to the continent.

01 April 2009

April Fools fun with Stephen

I'm a lot of fun to have around on April Fool's Day:
Person: Today is April Fool's Day, 'huh?
Me: Oh man. I'm such an idiot. Gary got me with the Obama coming to campus thing. There was that video about the statues outside of the library actually being giant energy converters that take electricity out of the air. I'm hopeless. Just hopeless.
Person: Yeah, people do play a lot of practical jokes on April Fool's Day.
Me: Definately. And I'm so damn gullible.
Person: Oh hey, I forgot to tell you! I won the lottery yesterday!
Me: Wha-!? Really!? Omigod, man, that's great! Congratulations!

And so on and on and on.

Today, I turned in my last marked essay for this Master of Research that I'm doing and it will be, if Thor wills it, my last marked essay, ever, in my career as a human being. How do I feel about this? Melancholy, obviously.

My dreams are about this

The ride