Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cancer Sucks Part 1,095,985

One of my very favorite relatives (she's a cousin, but more like an aunt) was diagnosed with melanoma some time ago, and had the melanoma removed, with apparent success. But since cancer sucks, it came back and is now back with a vengeance. I don't want to write the details, but I do know that she's having chemo and things aren't looking too hot. If you pray or feel like sending out good vibes into the universe, they would be greatly appreciated. She's truly one of the most amazing people I've known in my life, raising 4 children as a single parent after her mentally ill husband left her, running a nursing home and giving wonderful care to hundreds, if not thousands of people in the last stages of their lives, and always being there for our family in multiple ways. She's put out so much good in her life that she deserves some good back. Cancer sucks. It's never fair.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Language at the races

This morning Peter and I volunteered at the Boulder Backroads marathon (and half-marathon), handing out cups of water and Gatorade to the 3,000 runners. It was a lot of fun, especially since Peter dressed up as Elvis and made a lot of tired runners smile.

One thing that was really interesting to me as a linguist was the specialized way language was used. Handing cups to runners is more stressful and fast-paced than it might seem at first. Even with well over ten people at our station, when the large clumps of runners came by, it was difficult to keep up with the pace. The runners are not concentrating on who has water, or the best way to grab it, so cups get dropped, connections get missed and people get wet. Also, the entire interaction takes less than a second or two and I handed out 3-4 waters within the span of several seconds when things got busy.

Since time is at such a premium (and breath at a minimum for the runners), the "conversations" held between volunteers and runners are extremely efficient. Vocabulary consisted of two words: "water" and "Gatorade" for the vast majority of the interactions. One volunteer even remarked on this, joking that "Water" was the greeting of the race. With such a limited semantic set, pragmatics (especially prosody, or "tone" of voice) had to play a much larger role.

Here's an interaction I found especially interesting, with my interpretation in parenthesis:

Runner: Gatorade? (asking Volunteer 1 if the cups she held out contained Gatorade)
(cup contained water, Volunteer 2 had cups of Gatorade, but that volunteer was not paying attention)
Volunteer 1: Gatorade! (directed to Volunteer 2, almost as a "name" and to direct attention to the runner requesting Gatorade)
Volunteer 2: Gatorade! (attention engaged, directed to runner to indicate cup held Gatorade and possibly also to acknowledge attention to runner and her desire of Gatorade)

I wonder how most linguistic theories of meaning and conversation could deal with this?

What's left of the water vs. Gatorade debate in the end:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Guess what's coming!


Sorry about the crazy multiple postings of the last entry. I didn't catch it until now, but hopefully the problem is fixed. I'm excited about my Moo cards, but not THAT excited!

For some reason, I've been inspired to do some organizing and de-cluttering around the apartment lately. It might be the multiple home magazines with umpteen articles on such topics that I've recently purchased, or it could just be that I feel like our apartment has the maximum amount of stuff it can have an still feel comfortable.

In that vein, I decided the bathroom cabinet (that's right, singular cabinet) needed to be gone through. Holy moly, was that ever a treasure trove! God only knows what I now smell like, since I tried several different lotions and other products to see if I still liked them. The answer, of course, is of course I still do! I am a product junkie, but the problem is that I'm an extremely low-maintenance girl day-to-day, which causes a backlog of delicious smelling and highly beautifying things that rarely get used.

Part of the reason they so seldom see the light of day (or my skin) is that if I don't see it and don't use it every day, then I don't think to use it. So the massive pile of bottles in the cabinet wasn't helping matters, with everything buried and nothing easily seen.

Happily, the cabinet is in much better shape now, with items organized by use and a tremendous number of duplicate bottles removed for longer storage until I run out of what I have. The problem with shopping at Costco is that while you save a lot on the three huge bottles of contact solution, you still have three huge bottles of contact solution. The other problem (not with Costco, but with the cabinet) was that since I couldn't see or find anything, I thought I was out of stuff when I still actually had several bottles in stockpile. Thus the FIVE huge bottles of contact solution. *Sigh*

But everything is nice and neat in orderly little rows, clearly visible to my lazy self. Now I just have to figure out where to put the hairdryer I left out! Doh!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Udder Love

As you can probably tell, I have a bit more spare time on my hands today. The stars have aligned and in an unprecedented moment, I have NO readings for any of my next classes! Of course, I still have multiple other things to work on, but I am enjoying this tiny respite.

In order to share the joy, I simply had to pass on this amazing deal-slash-product. is a new company offering really cool little business card-ettes with photos printed on the front, with your info on the back. If you are a Flickr Pro member, you can get 10 of these beauties ABSOLUTELY FREE. No shipping, no tax, nada! I can't vouch for the quality yet, since I have to wait 10 long business days to get them, but for free, I am very willing to do so. Yay for tiny free photos!

Vestigial pinkies

Some people think lifting a pinking when drinking is an affectation, a silly show of presumed delicacy or refined breeding. For me, it's simply a biological fact. My pinkies are tiny: bizarrely stunted appendages that do little more than keep me more human than Simpson. They look more like the finger of a baby than an adults, a fact I have frequently been reminded of by my loving family.

So when I drink from a cup, mug or glass, my tiny pinky automatically extends out, not because I think I'm secretly descended from royalty (though I am a Leo, the royalty of the zodiac), but because my little finger isn't long enough to reach the cup like its brethren, nor is it strong enough to really hang on very well.

So please, mock me not. It could very well be that tiny pinkies are the mark of true blue blood, it's just that no one knows it yet.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Things I could never have enough of (of which I only need one or two):

sets of dishes
coats (esp. pea coats)
tablecloths, napkins and placemats
journals (never to be written in)
puppies (though I would never actually have as many as I want)
sheet sets
candle holders/candles

Tragically (or luckily), finances and the confines of space always limit the number of any of these I ever have at one time.


Things I could never have enough of (of which I only need one or two):

sets of dishes
coats (esp. pea coats)
tablecloths, napkins and placemats
journals (never to be written in)
puppies (though I would never actually have as many as I want)
sheet sets

Tragically (or luckily), finances and the confines of space always limit the number of any of these I ever have at one time.

Monday, September 11, 2006

And so it begins...

The long, slow descent into scholastic apathy and skating through classes.

I always try to start the semester extra-motivate: carefully reading every last assigned page, completing all the homework problems, even if they are for discussion or otherwise ungraded, trying to get ahead on readings whenever possible. I do this because I know that at some point in the semester, I will feel overwhelmed and under-enthused and will therefore start skimping on readings and anything else I don't have to actually turn in.

Luckily, this semester I really like all of my classes, and therefore actually want to read the assignments, no matter how tedious.

Problem is, this past weekend was a total rush since Peter and I flew out to CA for my cousin's wedding. It was a blast, but it was exhausting and a whirlwind with no recovery time. Our schedule now is such that we really need those three days of the weekend (Fri-Sun) to catch up because we have almost no time during the week to do anything beyond school, work and homework. That means laundry goes unwashed, dishes start to pile up and forget about "fancy" chores like cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming! Not to mention I have a need for some downtime to recuperate from the business of the week. After I came home from work today, I had the worst headache and just felt so physically tired. We ate dinner at 4 PM, I took a bath, then tried to read some homework, but fell asleep for an hour or so instead. I've been taking naps in the evening after school and work because I'm so exhausted. Hopefully I either get used to the schedule, or I'm going to need to figure something else out.

The upshot of all this travel is that I'm not actually going to finish some of my readings for tomorrow. The good thing is that I've read most of the important ones all the way (and realized the beauty of highlighters for teasing apart 40-page research chapters), skimmed most of the others and I think I should be OK for tomorrow. I just can't continue this pattern!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Best News Ever!

So Peter and I just finished Veronica Mars season 2 on DVD after some marathon Netflixing. Of course, they ended the season in a wretched cliffhanger, which prompted me to ask Peter which show he would choose: LOST or Veronica Mars. Last season, they were both on at the same time on the same night, and being sadly TiVo-less, we had to pick favorites. We chose LOST, which ended up breaking our hearts (but managed to redeem itself in the last few episodes).

But might a miracle have occurred? Could it be that one show or the other switched nights or times? Yes! There is a god and he loves Veronica Mars too. VM is now on Tuesday nights at 9/8 Central, and LOST is still on Wednesday nights. Woohoo! If you have not seen VM, I strongly urge you to check it out. But be warned, if you don't like snappy patter, interesting mysteries (that actually get solved!) and characters you actually care about, Veronica Mars might not be the show for you.

Until October!

It's, like, wow!

This is the stunningly expressive title of a song on the Shrek soundtrack and I'm using it here for no other reason that it's been stuck in my head since we talked about the "like" phenomenom in one of my classes last week.

How are my classes, you ask? Faboo, really. I think I shall enjoy all of them greatly. That is, if I can keep up with the reading.

I like to read more than your average bear, but when offered a rainy, cool afternoon like the one provided today, I am unfortunately much more likely to choose to take a nap than read any of the 200 pages or so that I have to read by Tuesday. I'm really a little concerned about how Peter and I are going to physically be able to do all the reading we both have for our classes and still find time to speak to one another. Tuesdays are already bad with our class schedules, how are we supposed to get homework done as well!

I fear what will have to happen is the total erasure of our free time, especially on the weekends. I used to be able to take a day off and not do any homework or studying that day and focus on cleaning, email or fun stuff, but I don't think I'll be able to tackle all of it if I don't do a little a day, every single day.

So if you don't hear from me in the next four months or so, it's probably because I'm trying to finish a technical book or two a week, doing research, going to class, and trying to keep the apartment from imploding, all at once! Cheers!