Monday, March 31, 2003

Procrastination

You can tell when I'm procrastinating - I read many more books, and watch many more movies than usual. I really need to get stuck into honours work, before my operation, but my motivation is basically nil. I wish I knew how to motivate myself to get it done.

Boys Don't Cry

Had I known the ending, I would not have watched Boys Don't Cry. It's a very good, well acted and powerful movie, for about two thirds. That's not saying the last third is bad or poorly acted, just that it hit far too close to home to be enjoyable. My advice, do not watch this is you have ever suffered sexual abuse of any kind.

Hearts in Atlantis

For a Steven King adaptation, Hearts in Atlantis was quite good, compared to most of the movies from his books (of course, Misery is still much better). Well acted, and an interesting story, though Bernie said a lot more happened in the book than in the movie. One scene that got to me specifically was where Bobby's mother found Ted with Caroline and Bobby after Caroline's dislocated shoulder was fixed. I wonder how my mother would have reacted to that scene. What is it with Steven King settings? There is always a train line, a creek and some woodland close by, and large houses with friends houses nearby. Always.

Hawksbill Station, by Robert Silverberg

Hawksbill Station - Robert Silverberg

This story was about a group of revolutionaries who are political prisoners, sent back to the first epoch, where they won't trouble anyone. The story was told as flashback chapters, and dealing with the present (or rather, past). It would have helped me to understand a lot of the dialogue if I was familiar with various government/political and economical theories, as there was a fair bit of discourse between characters on these subjects (being revolutionaries and all). An interesting premise, well told, though it does require the previous mentioned knowledge to be completely understood (and enjoyed?).

Gather, Darkness!

Gather, Darkness! - Fritz Leiber

I liked this story, it was easy to read, and had a couple of interesting twists, especially at the end. It felt that there should be other stories set in this universe. Several things that happened in the book were not explained, which left me wondering about some things. If they had been explained, I think I would have enjoyed the book less. The story is set after the golden age, in the far future, where to provide stability, priests run the planet. They are the doctors, teachers, psychologists, religious leaders, politicians, and slave drivers. But of course, there is the opposition, the witchcraft. Interestingly, the witchcraft was very much not as we understand it, though thinking about it, effects caused by advanced technology would seem like witchcraft or miracles to uneducated, technologically unaware masses.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Unreliable

The person who had said he would definitely move in has decided not to. After promising me he would move on Friday, and getting me to hold the room for him for 2 weeks. I got burnt. Next time, when someone says they will, I will require bond and references on the spot, or else ignore them. I feel sick.

Queen of the Damned

Loved the book, didn't hate the movie, but thought - "Why did they bother?" The story didn't hold together, had no tension. The acting was abysmal, the costumes monotonous, the makeup pretty non-speccy though some of the hair was neat. Aaliya looked gorgeous, and I think that's how they tried to sell the movie.

The music was on the heavy side of my taste, and in my current mood, I liked it. The score was surprisingly good. So not all was lost.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

I had seen bits and pieces of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead before, and was intrigued. It was very well done, and all the people watching went "That was weird" at the end *grin* Bernie kept wondering about how on earth they got it funded. It's a great movie, a play within a play within a play....... Those who don't know Hamlet won't get it, at all. Something for me to collect when I have a lot more money, and rewatch several times. Brilliant acting, good costumes, non-descript music and a really twisted story.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Smoke and Mirrors, by Neil Gaiman

Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman

Some of these short stories by Neil were excellent, some seemed very unpolished. Some were extremely short, others about the right length for short stories (in my opinion). It's quite interesting to read someone who seems to taken some of the stories right from my dreams (or nightmares). Not the best thing for bedtime reading, but enjoyable nonetheless. I particularly liked the introduction, where Neil explained something about each story.

Minority Report

I thought the effects were quite good (not the jetpacks!) in Minority Report, the acting was good, the story was intriguing. I didn't even notice the product placements most of the time.
What is it with women with no eyebrows and no hair portraying wise characters (angels/seers/priestesses/etc)? I think it started in Dune, and it has been used numerous times since. I'm not complaining - I think it works, but too many of the costumes I would love to do would require me to shave my head and eyebrows!

The score seemed fairly derivative, and I hadn't known it was John Williams to begin with, but I should have guessed (and did, not long from the start).

The extras disk was fairly enjoyable, but nothing compares to LoTR for comprehensiveness and enjoyment. This movie was based on a short story by Philip K Dick by the same name, which is why it probably held together fairly well.

An enjoyable movie, better than most that I have seen recently.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

I normally don't like comedies, but this was quite enjoyable. I am going to have to read Homer's odyssey to try to figure out what parts matched the story. There were several neat twists and turns, and the acting was very good. Not sure I liked the music though!

Thursday, March 20, 2003

After the King

After the King - edited by Martin H Greenberg Stories inspired by JRR Tolkien

This book was interesting, a collection of short(ish) stories by well known authors who were inspired by JRR Tolkien. As with any collection, some of the stories were excellent, and some were average. I was a little disappointed that Pratchett had his 'Cohen and the Troll' story included, as I had read it in another collection sometime ago. Definately worth reading by fantasy and Tolkien fans, though still not the standard of LoTR of course!

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Class sizes in education

This is a oft raised issue in education, where the supporters of small class sizes cite many examples and studies done showing that smaller class sizes returns better results, partly due to the better ratio of teacher/student meaning that each student gets more individual time. In discussion classes this is even more important, where a smaller class allows for more time for each student to discuss their views.

Unfortunately, we have been told to close 2 classes, one at Caulfield and one at Clayton for CSE1304, due to the classes having a size of 10-11 students on average. The preferred class size according to the powers that be is 15. Most labs seat 16, and typically there is at least one computer per lab that isn't working. Filling the class sizes stresses the tutors, students, lowers results, and doesn't allow for 'blow-in' students making up classes they missed, or for dead computers. And the most stupid thing, is that they want us to close these classes 3 weeks into the semester, shuffling students around and reducing the tutors employment.

Cycle

Looks like my body has settled on a three month cycle, completely ignoring the continuous pill, and coinciding with a full moon. I hope I can get through next week without too much pain, I have to teach on Monday, have classes on Wednesday, and housemate interviews to do in between. This is also a reminder to myself to get a new prescript for pain killers on Monday, I'm nearly out.

5 hours aerobic exercise per week

On the Endometriosis Care Centre of Australia website I read that after surgical removal of endometriosis growths, 5 hours of aerobic exercise per week will reduce the risk of recurrent growths by 50%. I guess I have my exercise regime cut out for me!

It is also important for me to do a lot of weight bearing exercises, as 3 months on Zolodex leaves patients with reduced bone density in their spines, raising the risk of osteoporosis quite a lot. Not to mention, it's also in my family and I'm eating no dairy, and have a very low calcium intake (need to fix that).

Saturday, March 8, 2003

Appointment portfolio

I wonder how many other workplaces have an 'appointment portfolio' where you write out your goals for the next 5-10 years, how much time you spent on what in the previous year, what you achieved in the previous year, and what you are going to achieve in the next year. Oh yeah, and you have to map what you did achieve to what you were going to in last year's portfolio. Last year it took me about 2 full time days to create this thing (and I didn't even have to do a third of it), and seeing as a year has flown by, I have to do another one. *sigh*

It does mean however, that the resources on my websites get updated greatly (the tutors resources site now exists, and shortly my costuming stuff, more health stuff, more subject specific student resources and AL resources are going to be created, updated and made available on the web, just so I can say I did achieve all that I set out to do in last year's portfolio.

Pretty website - John Howe

I thought I'd reviewed this website before. In any case there is a link to it in my links section because it's so good! John Howe, one of the main Tolkien illustrators had a very well designed, well organised and beautiful website, that is often updated. He also publishes an email newsletter notifying those who are signed up of updates, and general thoughts, etc. This is one of the better websites I have seen for a long time.

So much going on

I'm wondering how people find time to do so much. I'm finding it difficult to just do my .5 AL job, work on my health (gym, yoga, belly dancing), maintain my garden in some semblance of order (not at the moment!), keep a home, do little bits of honours here and there... Maybe it is due to the endo/poor immune system that I am exhausted all the time? Don't mind me, I'm just frustrated. There is so much more that I want to be able to get done!

Friday, March 7, 2003

Those days....

Don't you just hate it when you have a spate of really bad days, that just make you want to stop existing. Well.. I've just had nearly a week of them. At least they seem to be starting to get better. It all started with having my wisdom teeth out last friday. That actually went suprisingly well, but the bleeding afterwards lasted over 5 hours. (and I lost settlers cards again, damn the new spy rule!)

When I got home from the dentist though, my clown loach had disappeared. He has been acting stressed for days, and the friend clown we got him didn't cheer him up. So I put him in some new water as a quarantine procedure, and he died shortly after.

Monday wasn't too bad, except for crazily hectic as the first week of Uni always is. Tuesday was Very Bad (tm). I was in a lot of pain, had walked up to the shops only to discover my purse was at home (actually it was at work), _after_ having collected my Coles shopping. With no way to pay for it, I couldn't get the fresh stuff, or a bus home (which I desperately needed to do). I fell over several times, and nearly broke my toe again, getting into the shower. I was in a horrible state.

Wednesday was hectic, the video conferencing stuff wasn't working, which screwed up the tutors meeting. The network was playing up big time (for the tutors), but I did get samba set up. The honours subject looks very interesting, and looks at something neat - simulation of climate change, which is what I'll do my paper on, but I was completely stuffed. Then had to re-do all of TPS and mess to work with the new naming scheme, link the pracs in for the tutors and various other odd jobs. Oh yea, and one of the Caulfield classes has been moved to 8am, cos there were too many enrolments at Caulfield. Grrrr. They shouldn't go about moving timetabled classes during the first week! Walking home Wednesday my sciatic nerve got pinched on the right, and it's been twinging since.

Found out some gossip was true, which has lowered my opinion of some people even further than I thought was possible, had to do a very annoying ethics application, and change it several times.

To top it off, my pain level has risen, my jaw still is hurting, I'm getting bad migraines, I'm cramping lots, my hip/back is still playing up, I have got insomnia back, and I'm simple not hungry (as a result? or making it worse).

I have huge infestations in my garden of aphids, white flys and a many white spotted bug that looks like a lady bug, but kills them. And I'm still looking for a housemate :-\

My rant probably hasn't helped that matter... oh well...
I'm done... for today...

Monday, March 3, 2003

More Money for Education

The Australian government is seriously considering raising the cost of University by putting an extra amount on top of HECS that is charge interest at market rates and is paid directly back to universities, rather than through the tax collection scheme. They are also thinking of changing full fee playing places from 25% to 50% and making people who fail a subject or take longer than the prescribed time for their degree, pay full fees. If this is brought in, I really hope I have finished honours, as I have taken much longer than the prescribed time. I particularly like the cartoon in this article.

Samba stuff

*grin* I'm pretty proud of myself. I managed to set up samba shares and samba printers on my work computer, without any helpful information on the CSSE pages. Now aquila is getting to the highly usable stage of the install. Now I need to grab KDE3.1, and I'll be happier.

Sunday, March 2, 2003

Couple of amusing things

I found a couple of amusing things on Neil Gaiman's blog today, seeing as I hadn't checked it for a while (too busy). An onion parody of the inspections - UN orders Wonka to submit to Chocolate Factory inspections is quite funny.

Writing about fan fiction on the 3rd of February, Neil came up with some Smeagol-Gollum Slash:

"(I just made that up. I imagine it would go something like: "Oh, the preciouss, we takes it our handssses and we rubs it and touchess it, gollum....no, Smeagol musst not touch the preciousss, the master said only he can touch the precioussss.... bad masster, he doess not know the precious like we does, no, gollum, and we wants it, we wants it hard in our handses, yesss..." etc etc)"

This made my jaw hurt from laughing.

Saturday, March 1, 2003

Wisdom teeth

I had my top wisdom teeth extracted yesterday, so am pretty sore today. They were completely through and very well behaved, so the extraction was quick and easy. Not painless however, as the local anesthetic hurt like hell. Now I just feel like someone has punched me in the jaw (from biting down on swabs for 5 hours and having my jaw too wide (it dislocates). I seem to be recovering ok, but am exhausted.

Missing appointments

I'm getting quite sick of people making appointments with me to see the house, or to go over problems they are having with study, and never turning up. So far I have had about 6 out of the 12 or so people who have looked at the house make an appointment and completely miss it. an extra 2 people have turned up late or rescheduled when I rang them. It's quite frustrating.

As you can see though, I am still looking for a housemate, and getting rather worried, as uni starts next week, and I go back to working part time. If I don't get someone in, I won't be able to afford my operation in April :-\

Swordfish

I can see why this movie was pulled from many cinemas around the world when Sept 11 happened - a little too close to home. It does however seem that Bush has either watched it an taken it to heart, or wrote it, punishing terrorism with terrorism on a much grander scale. An interesting movie, with a fair number of geeky in jokes, and ludicrous computer setups and operations. But enjoyable all the same. The acting was crash hot, and the effects weren't anything special. Not something I'd watch twice, or would see in a cinema, but fairly interesting.