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I don’t play many video games. We don’t have a console and I don’t have much time, but sometimes I get into a gaming mode, especially when I need some brainless zoning. One of the best games I have played in the last six months is called Plants Vs. Zombies by PopCap Games. (I have also beaten all the levels of Zuma, I’m embarrassed to say.) Take a look at this very silly fan made video I found on Wonderland:

Another very addictive game is World of Goo. Here is a little trailer:

I have also been wasting time playing Sims3 and Civ4 Beyond the Sword. These games are very appealing when you feel your life is a little out of control, because you can micro-manage everything. Luckily after a while I get bored with them and want to return to real life.

Beorn has been playing Lord of the Rings Online a lot, but I can’t seem to get into it. We played it a bit when it first came out and then when back to World of Warcraft because we had friends there. Now he has returned to LOTRO, but I get frustrated because I know the WOW commands better. I get confused and spend a lot of time trying to figure out which buttons to push and how to get from one town to another.

I consider computer games a good sort of therapy for my summer burnout. My other hobbies are all productive in one way or another – cooking, sewing, crafting. When I’m very burnt out I lose my ability to be creative and when I try to do creative stuff I just get frustrated by my failures. Computer games are more stimulating than watching TV, but don’t require any real effort.

I should spend more time getting outside, but I don’t have anyone here to hike or bike with, so I have been reticent. Beorn and I have been working on eating healthy¬† and becoming more active (more on that later). The fall term will be starting next week, so my gaming days will be over.

For some reason, I haven’t felt like writing much this year. I hope this blog isn’t dead because I have enjoyed talking with various folks and reading other people’s blogs. Some academics seem to view blogs as a place were folks are just negative. I find that I’m able to write about things I wouldn’t be able to discuss elsewhere.

I think the reason I haven’t been writing is Beorn’s illness. This probably sounds very self centered, but I have found that it’s difficult to talk about the illness with folks who have never experienced a chronic illness. (Except for folks I’m very close to.) Beorn is now seriously disabled. As his wife and support person it’s difficult for me to explain the process I have been through in coming to terms with his illness and attempting to adjust.

Rheumatoid arthritis is such a strange illness, it took a long time to diagnose. For a long time, I thought Beorn was depressed and that was the source of his physical symptoms. His case is particularly severe. His rheumatologist said he had as much damage in one year as many people experience in ten years.¬† Being married to someone with RA has changed my life and yet, I’m not the one who is ill.

I have been very, very busy with my graduate studies. Now I’m just taking a Spanish class and getting ready to start my preliminary dissertation research, so I’m hoping to revive this blog. I still won’t write often, but hopefully I will average a post a week. As soon as I get into academic writing again, I’m sure the angst will set in.

Look at how nicely WordPress imported all my old posts! It even managed to get the photos which has never worked for me before. The header photo I’m using under creative commons license. It was taken by Pix Elate.

Edit: WordPress.com is stripping all javascript from the blog. How annoying is that? So it will take a while to recreate my blog roll.

Your result for The Classic Dames Test…

Katharine Hepburn

You scored 14% grit, 33% wit, 62% flair, and 7% class!

Anyone else want to take the quiz?

For the longest time, I used Bloglines to manage my RSS feeds. I’m not sure why I chose Bloglines, maybe Trillwing recommended it. I think I read some positive reviews.

Back in those olden days (2006) I started out manually adding other blogs to my blogroll. Then I discovered BlogRolling. BlogRolling makes it super easy to add blogs to your list and for a while I was happy. But soon, I discovered another problem…The blogs I was reading on Bloglines and those I was linking to on BlogRolling often didn’t match. Periodically I would go through and match them up, but often I would forget to add some nice person’s blog that I was enjoying.

I haven’t research it, but I think different folk have different philosophies about their blogrolls. Who you include depends a lot on what you are trying to do with your blog. Are you trying to make money? Become popular with the “in-crowd”? I just wanted to write about my struggles in academia and hear about how other academics were doing. My graduate program was so without community that blogging about my troubles really helped me get through difficult times. (You guys, if anyone is still reading, helped me survive to get my M.A. and get into a better program! Yay!)

The point is, I wanted the blogs I read and the blogs in my blogroll to be the same. Now I could probably do some pruning, since I’m sure some folks I don’t really read that often, but it was nice to just sort of keep up with the events in lots of folks’ lives.

Then I discovered that I could create a blogroll using Bloglines and specifying only the blogs in my “academic blogs” folder. “Hooray!” I thought. This all Bloglines system lasted me for quite a while. But this summer I was tempted by Google Reader. Certain internet “experts” recommended Google Reader because it has a feature called “list view” which allows you to scan just the titles of the articles. “The Expert” claimed that this would save you hours each day and so I exported my subscriptions to Google Reader and tried it out. Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping up on my blog reading this summer and so I’m not sure how I like this new system. It seems that I’m back to my old problem- with Google Reader I have to maintain a separate list as a blogroll.

Then there is Bloglines Beta, which seems to have many of the same readability features a Google Reader. Now I’m just not sure what to do!

This summer I’m staying in a rather nice townhouse or row-house type of place with some roommates. Beorn is away learning his new trade so I’m staying with roommates. Our kitties have been staying inside, but there is a lovely courtyard type backyard. The problem? The princess likes to climb. The courtyard has a sort of trellis or pergola over it, made out of wood. The cat can climb straight up six feet and then get onto the top of the pergola. Then she wanders around on the top rails and sometimes disappears. My fear is that she will see something interesting in someone else’s courtyard and jump down. This evening BOK followed her up to the top. Since he weighs twice as much I was somewhat concerned that he might not be able to get down or might hurt himself. Now I have a nice big scratch on my arm. He wasn’t too confindent in my ability to safely hold him while standing on a step ladder. I had to forcibly drag him down. Damn cats!
If you have never heard of TED, you are missing out. Start here, with Nellie McKay singing “Feminists.” For some reason it won’t let me embed the video.

In other news Breena and Beorn had a great time at the beach. It’s been years since I went body surfing. I love the ocean.

It seems that Scribefire may be having some issues with Firefox 3 as my last couple of posts arrived at the blog somewhat incomplete. Hopefully it was just a glitch.

In summary:

  • Mockingbirds singing at 12:30 AM = annoying
  • The Guild = funny

(The mockingbird photo is from jessicafm’s photostream on flickr, used under creative commons license. Thanks Jessica!)

I made it through a meeting with one member of my thesis committee this morning. Now this may not have been the best strategy, but in order to get through the process in a timely fashion, I left my thesis somewhat incomplete. I knew that there were issues I wasn’t addressing, but rather than try to address all of the inconsistencies and incomplete points, I decided to see what my committee members wanted me to add and what points they would bring up. Normally this wouldn’t be my preferred mode, but these are two very senior professors who’s opinion I trust and this project is so screwy that I am trusting them to help me straight it out just enough for them to sign off.

The meeting this morning was the first outside feedback I have gotten on it. The big issues he brought up were all expected and so didn’t feel too threatening. The worst part was his comment on my lack of editing. He went through the thesis finding lots of small grammar and editing problems. His comment was that I should work to eliminate these from my writing before I hand stuff in to professors because people will judge me negatively because of these small errors.

He makes a good point, but I’m still somewhat frustrated because I would have appreciated this advice during my first year at grad school. If this is a pattern, why hasn’t anyone else mentioned it during my four years of grad school? Also, I already showed the thesis to my adviser and apparently she didn’t catch these errors. Maybe the problem was more prominent in my thesis because I dislike the project so much that I did a poor job of proofing, but I suspect that I have some blind spots when it comes to grammar. For example, I’m aware of the misuse of “it’s” and “its” but in my own writing that isn’t something that stands out for me as a glaring error. Split infinitives? I know they exist, but how to spot one? I’m not sure. (This makes my editing of undergrad papers somewhat ironic. Often I can tell them that a particular sentence is incorrect, but couldn’t explain to them why.)

I need an editing buddy, someone who is willing to trade drafts with me. Beorn and I do this sometimes, but I would prefer having a backup person. And I need to come up with some additional strategies to improve my editing of my own writing. Generally I just take a break from whatever I’m writing, leave it for a day or two and then reread it slowly for errors. I know people say reading it out loud helps, but the best I manage is mumbling it under my breath.

(Blog posts are posted as is, so I’m sure they are riddled with grammatical errors.)

Hello blog readers! I’m testing out a software program called Contribute, that works with Dreamweaver. Contribute is suppose to allow WYSWIG editing of web pages and blogs. We will see if it has any benefits. Ironically, the Contribute spellchecker doesn’t recognize the word “blog.”