rax: (Rainbow Dash: She can summon rainbows yo)
  • While the last week of work was grueling and I am glad that I have a long weekend after it, spending a few days in the office with my coworkers actually made me feel really enthusiastic about my job. It's sufficiently positive that I am surprised about it --- I mean, I like my job or I wouldn't try to do it while also doing graduate school, but some of that is obviously about the money, maintaining a standard of living, being able to visit partners and friends and family, &c. Maybe less of it was about the money than I thought --- I'm really psyched for the next few months of work I have to do and think I can make a difference in my company's workflow and ultimately in the quality of its product and service offerings. Whoah. Is this what it feels like to sell out? It feels kinda nice.
  • At the same time I have also been doing some academic reading! Not as much as I should be, perhaps, but the last couple of days I have been working through Zoontologies, a collection of animal studies essays edited by Cary Wolfe. For the most part I really like what I've read, but one of the essays made me somewhat uncomfortable. Paul Patton's "Language, Power, and the Training of Horses" attempts to unravel the ethical and power dynamics of training horses for dressage, raising interesting questions about what constitutes non-violence and whether it's possible to have a non-violent relationship between the parts of the dressage assemblage. Uncomfortably, while I read him as saying "Yes, this is possible" when he says that "we do well to attend to the re­quirements of the hierarchical and communicative relations in which we live, and … certain kinds of emphasis on equality in all contexts are not only misleading but dangerous," (96-7) the essay has ultimately made me less convinced rather than more than dressage can be engaged in ethically. (That said, that quote is really thought-provoking in other directions...) I'm not about to start crusading against dressage, as even if I did know enough dressage to talk about it seriously there are other things that I think deserve my attention more [0]. But I'm not sure the takeaway I got from the article was what I was supposed to get, and I am not sure what to make of that either. Something to chew on. Anyone else read this and have thoughts?
  • I'm currently in a suburb of Atlanta visiting [livejournal.com profile] bossgoji and it is pretty awesome! I had never had grilled scallions before, but they are pretty excellent! Also the trees here are subtly different in a way that's a teensy bit uncanny valley, but otherwise Indiana has prepared me decently well for Georgia, at least at a surface level. I'm not weirded out by the spacing of houses, or the types of cars around, or those sorts of things in a way I would have been five or ten years ago. I like getting to learn new places! Is there anything I should check out in the Atlanta area while I am here?
  • Once I hit Georgia in the car, I felt obligated to put on some For Squirrels. If you don't know what I'm talking about, they were an early 90s band out of Florida that put out one self-produced album and one label-produced album and then half of them died in a car accident in Georgia on the way back from CBGB. Their label-produced album, Example, is amazing and while it's a bold statement I think popular music today would be measurably better if they had made music for another twenty years. (The survivors did put out Never Bet The Devil Your Head as Subrosa; I like it, but it's not the same.) Since I discovered them in like 1998 I've been trying to get my hands on a legit copy of Baypath Rd, the album they put out on their own; a couple of weeks ago, I finally did. I had heard some of the tracks before, but had never listened to it all the way through until I got it. Its sound is absolutely wonderful; its lyrics are way further from my politics than I remembered, including a bunch of religious imagery and an explicitly anti-polyamory message. I'm not really sure what to make of this. It is a Thing. I am still glad I have it and going to frame it and cherish it and sometimes listen to it and cry. For Squirrels, man, just, For Squirrels.
  • In other musical news, maybe it will grow on me, but at the moment I'm sure glad I only paid 99 cents for that new Lady Gaga album.
unneccessarily snarky vegan footnote )
rax: (kotone/silver hug awwwwwwwwh)
  • I've listed my house for sale; I'm hoping to keep my losses under 10K. Ow. I'm very lucky to begin with to (a) own a house and (b) be able to soak a loss of 10K not happily but without serious suffering. I am totally in the first world problems zone here, maybe the 0.5th world problems zone. Nonetheless... Ow. Chances I will still be living here in three months? Vanishingly slim. I'm in touch with a realtor in Tucson; obviously I'm not picking a new place until I am For Sure Absolute Reals guaranteed a position there, but things look likely and I feel confident and so that's the plan I'm working with. I may even have a full house on arrival, but I don't want to jinx that too much, so I'll talk more about it later. 
  • You may be unsurprised to hear that despite no longer being in classes at all, I am only a bit less busy than I was a month ago, thanks to work eating more of my time and having to deal with the house and Arizona stuff and all manner of nonsense and froofery. I'm way less stressed, though if you hadn't seen me a month ago you probably wouldn't believe that given how stressed I still am, but if you did, you know. :)
  • As part of being less stressed, and also as part of having a houseguest, I've been making more interesting food recently! I've done vegan pizza a couple of times, seitan lentil curry, vegan chicken fried steak (inspired by though different from this recipe), pancakes... we're talking about doing some kind of seitan in cherry-currant sauce over couscous tonight, though we have a bunch of oil left over from last night and we might just see what's left in the house that we can fry. :) We were mumbling about onion rings...
  • In the last few weeks I've learned that, upon re-reading my prose, I can usually take a few words out of every paragraph and improve the paragraph by so doing. I think this is a fine thing, as long as I remember to go and do this all the time. I suspect that some of my older writing may be hella wordy, unless using crazy long clauses is something I've picked up recently by reading crazy long-winded philosophers. Either way oh my god I keep catching myself using five words to say things like "to" or "and." ^^;; This may have something to do with why I always find myself struggling against the top edge of wordcount limits and not the bottom one... (see also last semester's 12000 word final paper, which was just ridiculous)
  • Speaking of which, that paper's been in submission --- revised, down to 8000 words --- to a journal for almost two and a half months. I suspect I am at least going to get a peer review back... This is exciting and also terrifying. Oh, I have a talk proposal out to a conference, too. I need to submit more of those this summer; I have a couple of papers that are some revision away from a reasonable conference talk, I think. And one paper that... man, I like the theoretical moves I was making, but I dunno about the paper as a whole. I may take one section out of it and build it into something else and let the rest go. I'm gonna sit on it for a while and then come back to it and see what I think.
rax: (Pinkie Pie does not exude decorum.)
I got my grades back for the semester. Out of three classes, I got two As.


and an A+.

Now to a certain extent, when you are in graduate school, anything less than an A means you sort of screwed up. An A- means "you could have done better, but that was OK," a B+ means "this was kinda borderline, really," a B means "you need to get better at this material," and anything lower means "you should consider leaving graduate school." This depends on your program, of course, but most funded positions require you keep your GPA around a 3.5 (a couple I've heard of are as low as a 3, but I've also seen positions that required a 3.85 just to keep funding) and so this matters. Still, getting As means I did not screw up, and the A+? Well, that apparently reflects better than just not screwing up.

This matters a lot to me because I screwed up my undergrad so hard. I only managed to get my final GPA to like a 3.2 because my senior year I took thirteen classes in two semesters and averaged a 3.8 in them. (I'm converting to a 4.0 scale for convenience here; my undergrad had a 5.0 scale.) Other than that year, where I worked like a crazy person, my undergrad work was atrocious, and that combined with some other things has sometimes made me feel like a giant flake academically. This year marks four full years of graduate school --- three years in my MA program, and one year toward the PhD --- all of them while working full-time for a tech company. In all four of those years, I have never gotten a grade that was not an A, except for this A+; I feel like I have karmically purged my four years of undergrad. I did all of the work, I went to all of my classes, I took my education seriously, I feel like I genuinely understand a whole lot more as a result of this work even though I still have a long way to go. It feels really good. I am not a fuckup.

Now all I have to do is... around five more years of school, and then I'll have a PhD! yay
rax: (Benten guitar case)
  • I am currently in the Seattle airport; in 20 minutes or so I get on a plane to Portland, and fly to Houston, and then fly to Indianapolis. Then I take a 90-minute bus ride home. Ah, my life. <3
  • Early this morning, I packed out of the furry commune where I was doing ethnographic research for the last three days. I decided my motto was "Take nothing but fieldnotes, leave nothing but consent forms." (I also took some vegan corn muffins, though.) It is also true that I spent the last three days at my boyfriend's house, but it is a furry commune and I did do ethnographic research and that sounds so much cooler. The process of having my boyfriend being one of my ins into this community is really interesting; I mean, yes, I'm a furry myself, but my practices are very different from many of the people I've been talking to, and I wouldn't have had the ability to talk to them if it weren't for the specifics of my being embedded in the community through romantic relationships. It will be an interesting thing to write about at some point, although right now I am trying not to do too much "me-search" in my research, and the stuff I am finding that has nothing to do with me is way more interesting anyway.
  • I am done with all of my classes for the semester. YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. I am not as thrilled with my final projects as I would have liked to be; one paper in particular I know that if I had read books X, Y, and Z I would have been able to make it even better, but I got up to book W and was exhausted and decided "You know what? I think this will be OK." I may read book Y on the plane, so this is still something I can work on. it's just... I like to hand in things that are perfect, you know? Not that this ever happens, and this tendency totally prevents me from ever submitting anything anywhere. So I need to get over it.
  • Conveniently, the paper resulting from my ethnographic research is getting submitted to a conference next week. I am not sure how to spin it yet; it's a conference about queer fashion. I guess I play up the fursuit angle a bit more? But I have a draft, and I am already thinking about how to integrate the seven interviews I did this week, and it's awesome, and I'm hoping to get it to a journal after that too. I hope. I think. Miao.
  • In what may or may not be my gradual descent into fandom, I had to sign out of twitter yesterday to avoid spoilers for the new My Little Pony episode, which I'm not going to get to watch until tomorrow. I sort of looked at myself, and went, "Really?" Then I realized I was interviewing folks in a furry commune, said "Yes, really," and moved on with my life. <3 I'm really looking forward to the episode, though! I am hoping it ties up some loose ends. (Don't tell me.)
  • Speaking of which, hi new friends from the My Little Pony LJ community! I unfortunately don't have any sort of introduction post, and I have to get on a plane in five minutes, but hopefully this gives you a general sense of what I do: Mostly academia, a bunch of job work that I usually don't talk to, some ponies or Pokemon or what have you. Oh and cats!!

rax: (catgirl makeup)
  • Some random links about animals! Foxes may use magnetic fields in order to judge both direction and distance when hunting prey. Actual paper, or at least abstract and how to find it, is here. Speaking of direction sense, while this is almost certainly just a crazy fluke, a cat found her way home after fourteen years missing --- and after her home moved something like thirty miles. Total fluff feel-good story, but, cats. <3 Finally: Confronted by a hunter who injured them, a fox shot the hunter and escaped. No, really. (I don't think this is a case of British Aristocrat-Hunting a la Sacred Book of the Werewolf, but who knows!) While I advocate nonviolent resolution to interspecies tensions whenever possible, I would still like to give that fox a treat.
  • Speaking of cats, I have a new cat! He is big and chill and fluffy and Siamese. His name is Leo. He used to live with my aunt and uncle; they had to let him go because their other cats turned on him and they did not have enough space in their home for everyone to live comfortably. This is a sad story but I hope that I can give it a happy ending; they're close enough that they can still visit Leo sometimes and I do have enough space in my house for Selene and Leo to have time to get used to each other without Leo being confined to a single room. (He'll probably be confined to three rooms for a while unless they really get along, but those three rooms are four or five times the space he had at my uncle's place.) I am sure he looks forward to meeting many of you once he gets over the AAAA NEW EVERYTHING AAAAA. Selene is unhappy but not as unhappy as I expected. Here is a picture of Selene sulking, and a picture of Leo hiding in the ceiling because he is scared and likes high places:
  • Ceiling cat is oh god what is that thing why does it make light you're not my real mom )
  • I may have a third cat in another month or two, because I got two offers of cat within five minutes of each other last week. Stay tuned, if you care about me and cats.
  • I accidentally cleaned my kitchen and reorganized all the dry goods yesterday. (Well, it was a combined effort with my housemate Mark.) We were all "Oh let's put a couple of things away and then we can play a quick game before we get to work on homework" and three hours later it was "I guess we've reorganized the whole thing and I'll make dinner with these lentils in order to free up these jars now." I think I've even cleaned the bread machine! I'm gonna try making another loaf today, I think.
  • A colleague of mine is putting together an undergrad literature class with the theme of "Animal Crossings," looking at both human/animal hybridity and human/animal interactions. I suggested some things, but if you have any other suggestions, please chime in! Even if he doesn't end up using them, I'd love to have more texts for me to work with, since...
  • It looks like my dissertation is going to be about this whole molar becoming-animal thing I keep rambling about, or at least, that's going to be the throughline between diverse methods and archives, because I am too flightyawesome to use one method and one archive for an entire project. (If you've ever read any of my papers, this is so completely true; I went back and looked at a couple and wow, it's kinda ridiculous.) Some of this is still up in the air, but way less than I would have expected the second semester of my first year; I guess I already have an MA, though, and experience outside of school, so I'm not quite as adrift as I might be. And who knows --- other classes and readings and experiences may shift my direction. Although I don't expect them to. It will be interesting negotiating what the academy delicately calls "participant-observer status" if I end up doing ethnography.
  • Does anyone know the proper way to dispose of a bad MacBook battery?
rax: (mijumaru plays the tuba all up in here)
Weekly post of not reading notes, I choose you! Use your bullet seedlist attack! (oh god I am such a dork)
  • I. Have. COUCHES. <3 This means that instead of sitting and doing my readings in bed (which is supposed to be psychologically bad or something and also the back support is not great), or sitting at the dining room table, I can sit and do readings in the library, which has matching couches and each couch has a little table in front of it for laptops and books and the one I'm using now even has a LAMP. <3 It's pretty awesome. Also, new couches smell kinda weird; this confuses the cats [0] as much as it confuses me. I'm sure after a while that fades. It's like new car smell, but for couches! Neither of which I seem to enjoy terribly.
  • Netiquette question: I basically don't use facebook, but I have an account, because otherwise I don't get invited to parties and my family uses facebook messaging instead of email. This isn't awesome, but I'd rather hear from them on facebook instead of not at all, you know? Generally when someone sends me a message it's either private or something for some sort of application I'm comfortable ignoring, but today I got like fifteen messages on my "Wall" saying happy birthday. Do the rules of Facebook etiquette require I respond to each one individually? All in one go, with an additional "wall" post? Not at all? I have posted to Facebook I think twice ever, once to say "I don't use this, contact me elsewhere" and once to say "I'm moving to Indiana." I want to do the correct thing but oh my god I think I got more facebook messages this morning than I had previously received total.
  • Some of y'all are furry pornographers! (Maybe some of y'all are regular pornographers too, but I don't keep track.) The Kinsey Institute, which I can see from the window of my office, is having a Juried Art Show. Y'all should represent, and if you need somebody to handle stuff on the ground, I'm happy to help.
  • I will be spending most of Saturday at the Queering the Countryside conference. I'll be taking notes, though I don't know if I'll transcribe them all (I will probably use paper because I am sure there will be competition for outlets and I don't mind paper). I may not go to the "fun" events because free food I can't eat and liquor is not really my idea of "fun" and sitting and listening to people talk is. I... have sort of turned into a square. ^^;; Except a square wearing pink and black striped armwarmers with stars on them? I dunno. Anyway, this conference should be awesome, and I will try to post some kind of writeup even if it is just "hey dwircleflist [1] here is the PDF I am handing in to my professor about this, read if you want to!"
  • Amazon is trying to sell me video games on sale. Kiiiiind of tempted to allow it to do so. I've seen good reviews for the new DS Final Fantasy and for Rock Band 3 (which I think my mom will kill me if I don't have when she gets here for Thanksgiving, although there is no way I am buying all the new peripherals I need that money to go visit people) --- if I get both of those I can get some other game for free. One person has said good things about DWIX; I could also get Pokemon Ranger instead. Sadly, they don't have Pokemon Mystery Dungeon as part of the list, as I hear that's basically Pokemon and Roguelikes, Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together!
  • I'm planning travel through, like, May. (Anyone know when Steer Roast is going to be with sufficient certainty that I could just buy tickets?) Right now it's looking like this:

    • Dec 15--Jan 2: San Francisco for Catgirl Goth Rave and general madness, with possibility of jaunt down to LA for a bit

    • Jan 13--Jan 16: Further Confusion in San Jose, although I am not 100% committed to this yet, I need to decide if I'm comfortable dealing with the hotel and con costs. But a lot of people I want to see will be there and one of my housemates might come with me.

    • Jan 28--Jan 31: I get to see Ruth!

    • Mar 11--Mar 16: Tentatively:Seattle! Highly influenced, of course, by the presence of certain coyotes.

    • Mar 16--Mar 21: Tentatively:New England! To see friends and family once the weather isn't that terrible.

  • Also I continue to work on my papers, even if just a little bit here and there, and it's awesome. I am especially psyched for my TST paper obviously but I am also happy about the Concepts of Gender paper, which will be working with some of the same ideas but in a very different theoretical framework, one that's more clearly related to current lived experience of people who aren't me. I think the balance is good.
  • Hope you all are doing well! It's back to work with me now...

[0] Yes, cats plural. Oolong is still here due to non-hilarious airline hijinks. Current plan is for Cassandra to take her when she gets the stuff that's still here; in the meantime I am blessed with another couple of weeks of her company.

[1] Totally stole "dwircleflist" from [personal profile] chagrined .

rax: (Horo whiskers)
I need to choose classes for the semester. Here's what I am required to take:

2-4:30 PM on Mondays: GNDR 600 "Concepts of Gender"

I'm required to grade GNDR 225, "Gender, Sexuality, and Pop Culture." It meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, either 9:30-10:45 AM or 1-2:15 PM, depending on which fits better with the rest of my schedule. (If I have no conflicts, I'll probably be assigned based on other people's schedules. This is fine with me, I'm used to being up and functional at 9:30 AM and even kinda like it.)

I can take either one other class and a graduate consortium (professional development, writing workshop, that kinda thing) or two other classes. Here are the classes I am most strongly considering, and I can't count on any of them being offered again (although AAAD 500 will be, I bet):

10-12:30 PM on Mondays: GNDR 598 "Feminist Theory: Classic Text and Founding Debates"

"Explores founding texts of contemporary feminist theory, asking questions about identity, knowledge, sexuality, and ethics.   Such works have emerged in relation to a variety of theoretical discourses, such as Marxism, structuralism, cultural studies, and others.  Examines the intellectual history of feminist theory and its resonance with more recent trends." This is appealing because I feel like my background in early work is really, really, really shoddy.

6-8:30 PM on Tuesdays: GNDR 701 / AAAD 500 "Intro to African-American and African Diaspora Studies"

Not many schools have a department in this at all; while they have other courses that are appealing (in particular one on Black Women in America that I think would build off of the Early African-American Lit course I took at UMB), again, I feel like my grounding is really poor and an intro class would push a ton of books and ideas at me in a structure that encouraged digesting and internalizing them.

5-7:30 PM on Wednesdays: "Transsomatechnics"

I had to look up what this meant too; basically it's "theories and practices of transgender embodiment," and so it brings together technology and technology of the body and trans theory and it's all oh my god hardcore. [0] It's also super theoretical, and I'm a smidge worried it would kick my ass. But in a lot of ways it's basically what I want to be working on. The only question for me about taking this course is "Do I want to dive directly into the really hard stuff I want to think about while still taking my intro core courses?," or, more simply, "Feet wet head first <y/n>?"

10-11:30 AM on Wednesdays: "Research Colloquium in Gender Studies"

I described this above, but basically it's professional development. Many people take it more than once, and I've been advised to take it my first semester, although told I don't have to if I really don't want to. I want professional development, so I'm probably going to take it, although I'm a little bit tempted by taking it the next semester...

For context, a student needs 20 classes for a PhD, likely 10-15 worth in my case because I am coming in with an MA. (It'd be 10 if my MA were in Women's Studies or something; I can probably get at least 5 classes of credit, but I don't know if they're going to transfer, say, fiction workshop, or that I want them to even if they will.) I'd like to be done taking classes within three years, which means I should take either two or three classes per semester. With the conservative estimate of needing 16 classes, that's 3/3/3/3/2/2 for six semesters assuming I don't do anything that gets me credit in the summer --- which I could, if I wanted, either independent study or a course in whatever my minor will be. [1] (Gender Studies doesn't offer coursework in the summer, but other grad departments sometimes do.) I'd feel like I was wasting my time using
the graduate colloquium too many times to get credits --- after all I'm here to take classes and learn things, not just to develop professional skills. But one fall and one spring colloquium, maybe a year apart, seems reasonable. 

Next semester I will be taking two core courses, so I can only fit one elective in. I might want that elective to be something in minor, since I probably don't want more than one minor course per semester? And if my minor is something very different from gender theory, it would be nice to have something in an alternate context to go and do every week, aside from my job. [2] Or I could get more professional development and be done both with colloquia and with core courses after the first year.

I know the ways I'm leaning already, but I'm curious what other people think. Scheduling plays a small role in my decisions, but not huge; I can't avoid being on campus MTR and having Wednesdays off isn't really exciting. Having Fridays off is awesome and means more possibility for long weekend visits, but there's no schedule I might pick that threatens that. Nothing conflicted, which I guess isn't that surprising since most of the grad gender classes are in the same room, but is awesome. I'm sad I can't take everything! (I had to discard some awesome classes just to get my list this short.)

[0] For those who care I am pretty sure this is as close as it comes to "Postfurry Theory" in the academy.

[1] "Help me decide my minor?" will be a separate post. I'm really tempted to do something in on the tech/science side, maybe informatics. But I could also do American Studies, or History, or English, or... They're all so fun!!!

[2] Oh by the way MetaCarta got divested from Nokia to Qbase on Monday. I probably can't answer your questions about what this means other than "Rachel spending more time in Dayton." Anyone know anything exciting to do in Dayton, OH?

The always wonderful [livejournal.com profile] krinndnz  pointed me, over in her LJ (friends-locked, but a lot of you will find this link useful anyway), toward a University of Alaska survey about furries, or furvey. [0] There's rather a history of bad surveys and research done on minority populations, which often makes people nervous about this sort of thing. (A part of me hesitates to class furries as "a minority population" --- but in this circumstance, of researchers saying "Ooh, here are some different people I can go and research," I think it fits.) In recent cases that have a lot of Internet press, there's always that ridiculous slash brain sexuality study (as [livejournal.com profile] ceruleanst  points out over on Krinn's blog), and I also just read [livejournal.com profile] tagonist 's post about trans studies recently, and I also also still have PIlar Osario's work (thanks to this conference) about how race is not really a great category for medical studies sitting in the back of my head and percolating. So I approached this furvey with some trepidation, but decided I would go ahead, Google-stalk a little bit, and take a look at the survey itself.

Short, spoiler-free verdict: Actually I don't think it's that bad. One of the two researchers identifies or has identified as a furry (or I suppose is outright lying): "My name is Eric Olson, I am the data gnome and the person who suggested the study in the first place. I think the furry community, for all its weird little quirks is, on the whole, a pretty positive thing. I certainly benifited from it and I suspect quite a few other people have too." [1] That's not necessarily Objective (tm) but it makes me way more comfortable than other surveys have in the past. (I'm hoping [livejournal.com profile] eredien  will chime in here on the furry survey that was going around Anthrocon --- I didn't take it, but she did and she talked to the researchers for a while, too. [2]) Also, you're able to click submit, read all the questions, and decide if you want to participate or not; it's just one page (although if you answer "yes" to one question it pops up five text boxes that were invisible before). This is way better than that surveymonkey nonsense that makes you answer two things, click, answer two things... so if you were sitting on the fence about this, you might as well check it out.

Potentially spoilery: My thoughts on the survey, what's bad, what's potentially valuable )

October 2016

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