- I have my first paper of this PhD program due Monday. I took good notes, have a good concept, and am downright proud of my outline. I'm having trouble with the draft, though, because I've been reading so much abstruse crap  and haven't done any academic writing at all since my MA thesis. I keep having to take complicated sentences and pare them down to be less full of clauses. I suppose it is good that I take the time to do this rather than just hand in an essay with sentences whose diagrams are fractal. I'm glad I have this assignment to warm up on before I write final papers; it should help me do better with those. (I may also need to pull some prose I really like and re-read it right before I start.)
- I am weak but I am strong: I have a copy of Pokemon White, despite knowing basically no Japanese. (The script has been translated, and my new housemate reads Japanese decently, so this is only dumb, not stupid.) However! I will not allow myself to start the game until I am done with all of the work I need to hand in this week. And am actually sticking to that, after powering the game on to make sure it works and to get the Japanese event item. (I don't intend to talk about spoilers, but if I think I might, I will cut-tag them; I know a couple of people here care.) I guess this means I will preorder Black in English once it's reasonable to pre-order it. If you were wondering "Will Pokemon be one of those things Rachel gets into for a month or two and then completely forgets about, or is it going to stick around for NetHack levels of time?," I think you have your answer.
- I probably won't play White much until I finish my current pokedex, either. I'm 32 away from completion! If I can get to 15 or so away I bet I can trade some of my good stuff on pokewifi or something and get to zero. We will see!
- I don't know if it's the weather or the cats getting along better or what, but recently, Selene sleeps on my chest and Oolong sleeps on my feet. It's a little bittersweet because Oolong is leaving soon and of course they'd finally learn to share a bed two weeks before they're separated, but fundamentally it is amazing, because Selene is coming to bed with me again, and it's been what, at least two years? Aside from the very first time sleeping at this house, where they had just been in the car for 40 hours and Selene curled up on my chest and Oolong curled up under my tented knees and I had no blanket or mattress and my stuffed lion was my pillow. So that's sort of a special case.
- Furry porn is everywhere. (image link completely safe for work)
- Rik is coming Rik is coming Rik is coming Rik is coming Rik is coming! He gets here Wednesday!
- I've bought tickets for my trip to California --- I'll be there from Dec 15 to Jan 2. This means the return trip will earn qualifying miles/segments toward status in 2011. Yes, I am becoming one of those. I looked at my travel plans for next year and it was worth it.
- When I first started grading student work, I was really slow about it, and nervous. What if I gave someone the wrong grade? What was the rubric I could use to determine the "right" answer for what a grade was? While we do have rubrics for evaluating student work, realistically, the thing I've been discovering, especially working on their midterm exams, is that there is no right answer. Grading student writing --- unlike, say, a multiple choice test or a chemistry problem set  --- is fundamentally a subjective exercise. I need to look at it, make a judgement call based on the professor's statements of what she's looking for and what the student has written down, and move on. I will not be perfect, and that is fine; if I make a mistake, students can ask us to correct them, and a decent amount of the time the mistake will be in the student's favor anyway. (I tend to err on the side of too nice.)
- I now own a rake! And a push-broom! And a snow shovel! Soon I need to run the fireplace plot. This homeowner thing is still bizarre. At some point I expect it will normalize, but it is taking a while. In the meantime I periodically walk around and go "MUAHAHAH THIS IS MY HOUSE. IT IS MINE. IT IS FULL OF SPACE."
- Is there any reason other than the price tag I should not get a tame fox. They will curl up on your lap and use a litter box and tend to imprint on cats if cats are around. Seriously. Finally available in the US. Tame fox. TAME. FOX. ... I guess it implicitly supports their research which was originally for the fur trade, though. AAARRRRGH MORAL DILEMMA. Help?
 The content is not crap. The writing style, in my opinion, often is. Some of the blame falls on being translated from French and German, but even that doesn't excuse, say, Heidegger.
 Chemistry problem sets have some room for subjectivity when giving partial credit. But it's not the same as an essay.