Fall Mix

Nov. 27th, 2011 03:38 pm
sechan19: (morisot)
"If a man lacks the human virtues, what has he to do with music?"

~ Confucius


Eddie Vedder, "Dream a Little Dream"
Tori Amos, "Carry"
Pulp, "Do You Remember the First Time?"
Florence and the Machine, "Between Two Lungs"
Ghostland Observatory, "Band Marches On"
Amanda Palmer, "Astronaut: A Short History of Nearly Nothing"
George Harrison, "Hear Me Lord"
Rasputina, "Why Don't You Do Right?"
Radiohead, "Nude"
KaTe Bush, "Snowed In At Wheeler Street"
Odessa Chen, "Made Up My Mind"
Architecture in Helsinki, "Tiny Paintings"
Ithaca Audio, "Don't Hold Back, Just Push Things Forward (Extended Mix)"


Generally I don't care for Confucius' philosophy, but I think he got it exactly right when it comes to music.

A new kitten, spice cookies, gummi cherries, and music. The comprehensive exam gauntlet starts in a week, and I am going to kill it.

That is all.
sechan19: (butterfly)
Excerpt of a recent conversation between myself and my new kitten, Yoritomo.

As I'm loading the dishwasher, a flash of black springs out of the depths and goes bounding toward the living room.

Me: Dude!
Y: [stops and looks back at me]
Me: Where you just IN the dishwasher?
Y: [blinks]
Me: What the hell were you doing in there?
Y: [bland stare]
Me: ... Okay, whatever.

In other news, I've rewritten the lyrics of "Trogdor" to be "Tomo-chan" (was a cat... I mean, he was a dragon-cat... or maybe he was just a DRAGON! but he was always TOMO-CHAN!!!) so I guess it's love.

Gummi cherries, spice cookies, and a new kitten. That is how I will live through my comprehensive exams.

End trans.
sechan19: (tormenta)
I've been in the midst of comprehensive exam preparation, which is exciting and demanding all at once. I hardly have time left to breathe, let alone blog. It kind of saddens me, as I miss the process of creative writing and the freedom of thinking about things that are often completely unrelated to my work. But this too shall pass, and since I am working up to being the smartest that I will ever be in my life (j/k) I ought to thoroughly experience the experience, right? Right.


Anyway, apparently I am over-preparing for comps, which is good because I was worried that I was under-preparing. I've worked out this amusing little nested system of information processing. (Or perhaps it's more like an expanding and retracting balloon system of information processing...) It suits me, although I'm not sure it would make sense to anyone else in the known universe, so that's okay, too.

Now if I can just get through the next month and a half.
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
In preparation for my comprehensive exams, which I'll sit in late December or early January, I'm planning to do some intensive reading in the subject of Japanese political history. I've got books and articles covering the Kofun through Muromachi periods--roughly one-thousand years of cultural development--and with any luck I'll have read the majority of them thoroughly in the next two weeks. (I know, right?)

Here's my list, in bibliographic form, ordered alphabetically, for anyone who's interested in it:

* Adolphson, Mikael and Edward Kamens and Stacie Matsumoto, ed. Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2007.
* Berry, Mary Elizabeth. The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
* Borgen, Robert. Sugawara no Michizane and the Early Heian Court. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1994.
* Conlon, Thomas. The Culture of Force and Farce: Fourteenth-Century Japanese Warfare. No. 2000-01 of Occasional Papers in Japanese Studies Cambridge: Harvard University, Edwin O. Reischaeur Institute of Japanese Studies, January 2000.
* ---. State of War: The Violent Order of Fourteenth-Century Japan. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan, Center for Japanese Studies, 2003.
* Hall, John W. and Toyoda Takeshi, ed. Japan in the Muromachi Age. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.
* Hurst, G. Cameron III. Insei: Abdicated Sovereigns in the Politics of Late Heian Japan, 1086-1185. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.
* Mass, Jeffrey P. The Kamakura Bakufu: A Study in Documents. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1976.
* ---. "The Origins of Kamakura Justice." Journal of Japanese Studies 3 no. 2 (Summer 1977): 299-322.
* ---. The Development of Kamakura Rule, 1180-1250: A History with Documents. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1979.
* ---. "Translation and Pre- 1600 History." Journal of Japanese Studies 6 no. 1 (Winter 1980): 61-88.
* ---. "Patterns of Provincial Inheritance in Late Heian Japan." Journal of Japanese Studies 9 no. 1 (Winter 1983): 67-95.
* ---. Lordship and Inheritance in Early Medieval Japan: A Study of the Kamakura Soryo System. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989.
* ---. Antiquity and Anachronism in Japanese History. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.
* ---. "The Missing Minamoto in the Twelfth-Century Kanto." Journal of Japanese Studies 19 no. 1 (Winter 1993): 121-145.
* ---. Yoritomo and the Founding of the First Bakufu: The Origins of Dual Government in Japan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.
* ---. Family, Law, and Property in Japan, 1200-1300. No. 2000-03 of Occasional Papers in Japanese Studies Cambridge: Harvard University, Edwin O. Reischaeur Institute of Japanese Studies, December 2000.
* McCullough, William. "The Azuma Kagami Account of the Shôkyû War." Monumenta Nipponica 23 no. 1/2 (1968): 102-155.
* Piggott, Joan R. The Emergence of Japanese Kingship. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.
* Varley, H. Paul. The Ônin War: History of Its Origins and Background with a Selective Translation of The Chronicle of Ônin. New York: Columbia University Press, 1967.
* ---. Imperial Restoration in Medieval Japan. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.
* Williams, Yoko. Tsumi: Offense and Retribution in Early Japan. London: Routeledge Curzon, 2003.

I appear to be reading every Jeffrey Mass book/article known to man, but he is the go-to guy for Kamakura period history, so...

Wish me luck.
sechan19: (morisot)
I was working in the VMW (as its now called) the other day, when I happened to overhear a conversation between two profs. One of them was quizzing the other, and a nearby grad student, with tricky movie trivia.

DA: So, tell me what's the one time a woman was ever given a best actor academy award?
CL: [silence]
JE: ...I don't know.

TJ: [in a voice designed to carry across the room] Linda Hunt.

[general silence]

DA: [also in a raised voice] For what movie?
TJ: The Year of Living Dangerously.
DA: That's right.

I got up and walked around the slide filing cabinets.

TJ: Don't never play movie trivia with this chick right here.
DA: Well, you win the prize. I'll take you out sometime as a reward.
TJ: Seriously?
DA: Yeah, like ice cream or something. When it gets nicer.
TJ: Awesome!
DA: So few people know that.
TJ: Well, my dad's a real Peter Weir fan, so I've seen a lot of his movies.
DA: Peter Weir?
TJ: The director. Dead Poets Society. Peter Weir.
DA: That was the same director?!
TJ: Uh-huh. Master and Commander. Peter Weir. Witness. Also Peter Weir.
DA: Really? Wow, you're like a computer program. Just plug in a name and you can spit out all the relevant data.
TJ: About movies anyway.
DA: Well, let me know when you want that ice cream.

Today I ran into said prof again. We lamented the lameness of the current weather, and he reiterated that as soon as it gets nice I should swing his office and grab him for ice cream.

I love my department.
sechan19: (tormenta)
Since lj has become the place where I go to bitch about things, to paraphrase a super-savvy friend of mine, here it is.

I hate taking Chinese at New City University.

And I mean, I hate every fucking minute of it. Just the prospect of having to do it depresses me--putting me instantly into a sluggish, lazy, inefficient mood that makes doing even the things I enjoy difficult.

I can't remember the last time I dealt with anything as ungraciously as I've been dealing with this, but - in my defense - I can't remember the last time I had to put up with this kind of fucked-up-donkey-show.

But there is a light on the horizon. In four weeks I'll be out, and I'll never have to take Chinese again at New City University again. I'll have a Chinese-free summer, in which I will study stuff that I actually love to study, and in the fall I'll take Classical Chinese.

Four more weeks and out.

Of course, that's also four more weeks until I have to turn in a major paper that I haven't even started to write yet (although I have pretty well planned out at this point). And four more weeks to come up with ways to spend time in Japanese class, because I've really passed the point where I need to take directed readings. I read just fine on my own now.

Four more weeks.

Lord, give me the strength.

Or, you know, whatever.
sechan19: (morisot)
Final score: effectively ready for both Tuesday and Wednesday's presentations, sitting pretty on a tentative draft of the seminar paper that's three-fourths of the way there, on track to complete my last Japanese reading, and done with my Chinese homework.

I still need to put the finishing touches on my powerpoints, bust out some serious footnotes in my seminar paper, prepare for the Chinese spoken final, and put something together for Japanese for Beginners, but I have begun to feel like I will actually pull this off. And after I do, I am going to take a goddamn nap. Heh.

In other news, I was able to make time this weekend to see my friend B and his taiko ensemble, which was awesome. Also, I'm almost out of food (I'm down to the rice and the canned vegetables), but I can't think about shopping until Friday. Oh, and it's snowing from now until whenever, apparently.
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
From only two lines of dialogue I was able to determine that the author of an article I read for seminar had incorrectly attributed a quote from the film Flash Gordon to the film Logan's Run.

When I pointed this out in class because I just couldn't stand to let it pass without comment, my advisor noted that I never ceased to amaze her but that I might better have been a film studies major than an art historian.

Sometimes I really do think that I am beyond the reach of any aid.

sechan19: (lin fengmian)
I've been reading Japanese articles pretty steadily since I came back from my year in Yokohama. Not only because I want to keep in practice, but because I've recently moved onto studying subjects that simply don't have much published about them in English.

Last night as I was slogging through the latest article on my most recent topic of interest, tsukumogami (tool specters), I came across a sentence with five negatives in it. After I cursed the author for having the audacity to have been born only to grow up and write a sentence with five negatives in it, I worked out the translation - which wasn't nearly as hard as it would have been before Yokohama.

Here's the sentence:

In romanji:
Watashi wa, kou iu fetish ni tsukareru you na kishitsu wo motta gaka de nakereba, totemo youkaiga nado to iu no wa egakenai no de wa nai ka to omowazaru wo enai.

I must not not think is it not that a painter who does not have the kind of mentality that gets possessed by these types of fetishes truly cannot paint things like monster pictures?

My translation:
I must conclude that a painter who does not have the kind of mentality for being possessed by these types of fetishes would truly be unable to paint things like monster pictures.


Fun fun fun until Daddy takes the T-Bird away, y'all.
sechan19: (kusama)
I wound up flunking six kids (not including the girl who cheated, who has elected to appeal the decision). One of them was a boy who begged me to assign him a G grade. He claimed to have been ill and to have been dealing with his grandfather's death. But these claims came only after repeated absences made it clear that he was not going to scrape by. I sympathize with the situation (lord knows I've had to try to carry on with school while dealing with setbacks), but ultimately I just couldn't justify an exception.

By contrast, my colleague didn't flunk anyone (once again, not including the boy who cheated), and she had more overall students enrolled in her sections! This makes me wonder if I'm just a way tougher grader, or if I just got the fuck-ups this term, or what happened.

I know I'm probably something of a hardcase, but damn.
sechan19: (butterfly)
...I have students who give me little presents to say thanks for all the help I've given them. The girl in question worked really hard all term to master the subject matter (pushing herself tirelessly beyond an ESL handicap), and I think the improvement is really clear.

I can be proud of what I helped her to accomplish; and thus, teaching shows itself to be - like all things in this world - a double-edged sword.
sechan19: (tormenta)
We were on the lookout for the problem couple this time out. Five minutes into the exam, it was clear that the same thing was happening all over again so we split them up, moving the suspected cheater to the edge of the aisle. It didn't quite deter him, however, and I wound up having to stand over him through the whole test to keep him honest.

Not the best way to spend an exam, I admit, but better than having to flunk them.

An even sadder situation developed, however. In the confusion of the end of the exam period, the professor noticed another cheating couple. (J. and myself were too bombarded with test collection at the time to hone in on them.) She [the prof] snatched their booklets up right away and turned them over to us to look at. The tests were carbon copies of one another. (And I do mean carbon copies; every single word of every single question response was identical. I couldn't believe it... still can't, really.) It's really too bad we didn't catch them earlier, though I think this was due to a very slick system they had worked out, because if we had we could have separated them. By the time we caught them, we had to accept the tests as they were.

The really sad thing is that the girl in question is a hard worker; but she was working for two, and that's just not okay. It must not happen, as the professor said. 185 people took that exam today with the understanding that they would stand or fall on their own merits. It would be a betrayal of their efforts to let something like this go.

And yet... it was really hard to look this girl in the face and tell her that she was taking a zero on the exam (almost ensuring complete failure in the class). She cried.


Well, she'll never do that again.

Some life lessons really suck, hey?
sechan19: (kusama)
Okay, so, a student just attempted to friend me on facebook.


Yeah, that's not even vaguely happening.
sechan19: (butterfly)
From a New City University course description for Fall 2009:

"Students enrolled in this course will have the good fortune to complete 3 short papers and the opportunity to further enhance their lives by taking a comprehensive final exam. Sometimes life is good."

sechan19: (morisot)
So apparently, some folks who visited the Expo didn't feel the programs, swag, or food added anything to the experience for them. They question what the Expo is really all about.

Funny, I thought it was about having a university-wide conference to be proud of, an event that would eventually build beyond our university and become a venue for academic exchange among peers from all over the New City area. But I guess some folks would be happy with an event that took place in my mom's garage if it resulted in a cash prize for them.


I realize that people are feeling raw about the current financial situation; it's dark times all around, but the Expo is about to turn a corner and we cannot allow it to miss that opportunity by short-changing it when things get a little tough.

Lord have mercy.

(In an amusing twist, the naysayers were so offensive at the Grad Student meeting that the faculty adviser felt compelled to come up to me afterward and reassure me that the feedback he'd received was overwhelmingly positive. Of course, most of the feedback I've gotten has been likewise positive. It's just wacky sometimes what people find to be annoyed about. [shrug])


Mar. 10th, 2009 08:18 pm
sechan19: (kusama)
So, I sent an email to the manager of the Tech staff at the union where the event is taking place.  This email expressed my "discontent" with the situation.  I just received a reply, the substance of which was basically this:

"Oh, you completely misunderstood me; I'm so sorry that I didn't explain fully; there's no policy that says you can't have six projectors if you need them, it's just unusual; and we have six that you can use if you want; but they're not all new and so you might not want to use them; I just thought you might want to bring your own instead; etc., etc., etc."

Yeah, that worked like a charm.  Heh.  Generally I don't like to bring out the full force of my bitch on other, unsuspecting humans, but sometimes it has to be done.  This was one of those times.

And now I'm going to have a beer and get back to my real work.

sechan19: (tormenta)
  • when the tech staff of the location for my upcoming school-wide event promises to notify me by the end of February if there are any problems with my tech requests, and then suddenly sends a message (six days before said event and not, it might be added, before the end of February) that it's a big no-can-do.
  • when they claim no-can-do on the basis  of something that is patently bullshit (for example, that they never give more than a certain number of something to any one group when I know for a fact that they gave more last year... to ME).
  • when such a claim, if true (which I don't believe), should have been stated at the outset when the requests were made months ago thereby enabling me to make alternate arrangements without such an unbelievable headache.
  • when this kind of situation impacts my productivity, making it even less likely that I'm going to be where I need to be with my own work by the end of this week, and therefore pushes me into all kinds of emotional stress-related hell that I really don't need right now.  This is supposed to be my break, after all.
I am never doing this particular event again.  I mean, seriously, just when I thought I had managed to surmount all of the ridiculous challenges that attended the event this year (sudden loss of budget, unexpected and unprecedented participation numbers, inability to book during the normal time period because the WPU is under fucking construction this year, printing delays, catering price hikes, almost zero faculty judging involvement, etc.) that did not apply last year... just when I'd thought I was finally in the clear and this happens.

Someone's ass is about to be mine, yo.  I've had it with these people.
sechan19: (kusama)
I spotted my first official that-dude-is-totally-cheating cheater this morning in Intro to Asian Exam #2.  In a room of 180 people, he was the only one who couldn't seem to keep his eyes on his own paper or the projection screen.  I spotted him as I was doing my rounds and began a major concentrated surveillance of his behavior, which--given that he was on the watch for TAs--he noticed immediately.  I'm pretty sure I cut into his cheating habits significantly, and I know that I scared the hell out of him.  After about twenty minutes of my obvious maddogging, his hands began to shake and he became visibly frustrated and angry.

Unfortunately, the kid isn't mine.  He's my coworker's, and she isn't sure of his exact name--nor of the name of the girl he was cribbing off of (who we think is his girlfriend and probably in on the scheme)--so it's hard to do much about it at this point.  But for the next test, we'll have our eye on him and the professor will be aware of the potential situation.  If it appears to be happening again, I'm going to come down on them like a pile of rocks.

As an aside, I'd also love to sit that girl down and let her know that no guy is worth that kind of exploitation, and that she should kick his punk ass to the curb, but I suspect that such an action is outside of my job description and probably translatable as some form of personal harassment.  But seriously, it makes my fiercely-independent-bitch meter ping like a motherfucker.

Moving On.

Feb. 15th, 2009 01:19 pm
sechan19: (morisot)
No more posts about the power.

This, too, shall pass.

And in the meantime, my cat is teh cuteness. Although I had multiple offers of places to stay this weekend, I just didn't have the heart to leave the kitten on her own again. She was all purry, and trembly, and cute when I stopped at home yesterday to check on the situation, and the house was like an icebox. So I stayed at home, in three layers of fleece and blankets, and we curled up together while I read by firelight.

I'm enough of a candle freak that I was able to transform my bedroom into a fairly lightened space despite the lack of electric appliances. Hell, I've got a fire-tiered candelabra, for the lord's sake. So we were comfy-cozy, and she curled up next to me on the pillows, and I wrapped her in knit blankets so she'd be warm all night. All-in-all, it was fairly pleasant.

Something else pleasant? Last Friday in recitation, I referred to the colossal Buddha of Yungang as a "lumberjack," and my students thought it was hilarious. Now, of course, I have to give them credit on the test when they describe said Buddha as a lumberjack--but the awesome, relaxed, and productive class atmosphere was so completely worth it. (And seriously, the Buddha at Yungang is a total meat-and-potatoes man. I honestly don't consider "lumberjack" to be an even slightly inapt description.)

sechan19: (morisot)
I had a great meeting with my adviser this afternoon. We went over various things related to the semester; my upcoming paper, outstanding applications, and technical issues with the classes she's teaching this term. K. is planning to spend the spring break in Japan and is leaving a little early, so I'm going to proctor a test and possibly give a lecture. We also talked about the first stages of forming my dissertation committee. Given that I'm going to be out of the country all next year, we're not sure if I absolutely must begin the formation of my committee right now or if I can wait until I get back. But we'll figure it out. Anyway, with business concluded we talked a bit about hobbies and discovered a mutual love of mysteries. K. loves Josephine Tey and has read all of her books! (I knew there was a reason she struck me as being so great right from the first meeting.)

In other news, in a totally random--but totally cool--twist, my friend A. lent me a copy of an article on ghosts in Japanese photographs the other day. She hypothesized, rightly, that I would find it interesting. Imagine my surprise when I flipped to the back to examine the author's sources and found my undergraduate thesis listed in the bibliography! I'm pretty sure the mention was mainly due to my having written one of the few articles on the subject in English, but it was still a really delightful surprise. I have to confess that I showed it to all of my friends in the department because I could not contain my excitement. I called my parents and told them about it, too. I suppose it's a testament to how naive about and new to this lifestyle I am, but I hope that I never get blase about being able to be part of the exchange of information. It's such a privilege.

And, finally, on a completely different front, I've discovered that my cat has a passion for potato chips. How bizarre is that?

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