December 01, 2008

Last Entry Missed.

Sadly, I didn't post yesterday, thus missing the last day of NaBloPoMo '08. I didn't post because I was having an "adventure" with the airlines.

The plane was late leaving, apparently because of weather (which is to say that the plane arriving was late. If it isn't there, we can't get on it and leave.) Then, the in-flight crew was missing. We saw them arrive, but the gate agent was then nowhere to be found. Something like forty-five minutes later, she turned back up and announced that we would be boarding the plane. (Which was, at this point, over two hours late.) Once we got on the plane and pushed away from the gate we taxied for what felt like forever. Then, the pilot came on and told us that we were 22 in line and that it would probably be another hour before we took off.

Splendid. Thankfully, I was flying Jet Blue and I had my own little individual TV screen and was able to see the end of the Return of the King.

At one point during our waiting, the pilot came on and like an angry father said, "If people don't stop getting up, we'll be 60th in line instead of 30!" 30? Didn't you just say 22? And, please, when you have to go, you have to go. Its the truth of the matter.

Finally, we made it into the air. Where we hit some turbulence. It was a little scary. Also, I had told my friend Ed who was feeding the cats that I'd be home in the early evening and they'd be fine, I'd feed them when I got home at 6:30.

I got home after 10:30. Hooray. When we landed in Buffalo, we had to wait another 20 minutes for a gate to become free. I was so happy I didn't check any luggage and I could walk off the plane and right out of the airport. The kittens were very happy to see me. They'd knocked over everything, including the trash can in which the empty cat food packets, were looking for things to eat, the poor guys. They're good now, running around the house like the little hellions they are.

November 29, 2008

The Run Up to Finals

So, I don't really have anything to say. I've been reading and working on coursework, preparing for my last week of classes and the deadlines that will follow hot on the heels of those last classes. Things are winding down. Dad and I have been hanging out today, working on various things and watching football and various other holiday programming.

Later this evening, we are going to meet Beth for dinner. She's taking us to a Cajun/Italian restaurant near her store called Two Boots. Apparently, its a place where there is sometimes live music, and the website is pretty cool. And, check out that menu: Cajun fish and chips, fried chicken, pasta and pizza? At the very least, it will be interesting.

November 28, 2008

Low Key Friday

After Thanksgiving, things were a little low key today. (One must take some time to recover from the turkey coma.) We woke up slowly, everyone showered and got dressed. We had tea and coffee (well, those of us who are tea/coffee drinkers had one or the other.) We ate some leftovers. We decided what to do with the day.

Whatever it was, we had to be done with it by 3:30, so that Beth could get to work. It was a gorgeous day, so we came to the conclusion that we should do what you do on gorgeous days if it is an option: go for a long walk in the park. So, we took the subway down to Prospect Park , and strutted around it. The road was blocked off through the park, so cars couldn't get in and this falicitated our meandering. We walked past the little dog beach. Although it didn't have any dogs on it, it was full of ducks. In general we just strolled around and talked about books. It was really lovely. Not all of the trees have lost their leaves yet, so it still quite colorful in the park, which added to the warmth from the sun. Around 2, we decided to head back towards the circle where we'd gotten off the subway because there was a coffee shop there. The shop was called Connecticut Muffin. No one had a muffin, though. We all got drinks and we decided to share a Brooklyn Blackout brownie (which, if you ask me, was a little too sweet.) Then, we took Beth to work. I had a coupon I wanted to use so this suited me just fine. I picked up a copy of The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo. It is still a goal of mine to make it through all of the Newbery Award winners and it has been made as a film that will be released soon, so it seemed like a good choice.

Since then, Dad and I have been getting some work done. (I think he may have gotten more work done than I did. Although, he is napping right now.) This evening we are headed back out to have dinner with Beth on her break and then we are going to see the new James Bond film. I'm pretty excited about it. I don't know what the plan is for tomorrow, but I have a feeling it is going to involve writing papers for me. We shall see.

November 27, 2008

True Story

Happy Thanksgiving from the Dram Shop on 9th Street in Brooklyn!

November 26, 2008

What are you doing then?

So, I arrived in Brooklyn last night. Got to my sister's around midnight. Hung out for awhile. Went to bed. She left me a nice little note telling me where I might want to go and what I might want to do, which trains or buses to take. Which is important because when I said that I would come to her house for Thanksgiving and volunteered to cook since she would have to work today and on Friday, I told her not to sweat anything but the turkey. That I would swoop in on Wednesday and take care of the shopping.

She took me at her word. Around 9 this morning, I had her last cereal bar and a diet coke. The diet coke, by the way, was pretty much the only thing she had in her fridge. So, she literally took me at my word. Sadly, I didn't really get her much in the way of staples or useful things. I'm not even sure I got everything that I needed. But, we're going to go with it.

Of course, the first thing I do is get on the wrong train. I followed Beth's instructions and get off at the stop she said I should. And, it didn't look anything like she described. No shopping center. No Buffalo Wild Wings. No Target. Fuck. But, there was a gourmet deli. So, I thought, what the hell, I'm in Brooklyn, lets see if they have rubens.

Oh, did they ever. Thin-sliced corned beef. Sauerkraut. Rye. Amazing. Also, directions that included the sentence, "Go back the way you came." Brilliant.

Shopping the day before Thanksgiving is a little like playing a game of dodge ball whilst in a bumper car hunting easter eggs. Loads of fun. We're having pie, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, brussel sprouts, stuffing and magical butter-bacon turkey. At least, that is what I now have the ingridients to make. Also, I bought some cheese to go with some crackers for before dinner. It is the way forward. And, some breakfast food.

Now, I have to go back out because Beth gets off work soon and then we are going to see Twilight. TWILIGHT! I'm so very, very excited.

Happy Thanksgiving E'en, everyone!

November 25, 2008


Every knitter has a stash of yarn. I don't have a large stash. I have some homespun from a friend (for sock knitting), some of my own homespun, some natural fiber sock yarn from the festivals I visited this fall, some nice acrylic and a large-ish amount of cotton yarn that was the wrong weight for what I wanted to use it for.

And, I've managed to, so far, keep the kittens out of the stash. That is, I managed to keep the kittens out of the stash until last night. I had some tangles that I had to reorganize, so I did. And, that got Kingsley interested. Which got Cooper interested. Now my living room is criss-crossed with yarn from different balls being pushed from one end of the room to the other. They even got into the handspun that was in a freezer bag. I'm going to have to hide some of the stuff in my closet, I think.

November 24, 2008

I Fancy a coffee.

I have two kittens playing at my feet. Earlier, I caught them both with my scarf. And, by caught them, I mean they were playing with the scarf. One of them had one end, and the other had the other. They are currently playing Kitty Derby with themselves.

Derby always ends someplace near me. I'm not sure if that is because I am home base or if it is because I had some chicken earlier, and they are hoping that I still have some chicken and will be game for sharing again. (Sadly, they are wrong. We ate all the chicken.)

I have papers to work on. An article on Allophonic variation to read. But, what I really want, is a cup of coffee. Fully-leaded. With chocolate and cinnamon in it. And, whipped topping. I may just have to make myself some. Its such a weird craving, to be sitting here, seriously jonesing for a ridiculous drink.

November 23, 2008

Let's Start a Thomas Crown Affair

Last night I found out a friend of mine has never seen a Steve McQueen movie before. Ever. In fact, she didn't even really know who he was until she started dating another friend of mine. Then, I learned something that I had didn't know: Steve McQueen movies should be seen in pairs because there are a number of excellent Children's films that owe much of their plot to the classics.

For example, one should watch The Great Escape featuring Mr. McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Donald Pleasance, Charles Bronson, David McCallum and James Garner (among others). Then, one should watch Chicken Run.

We talked about some of our favorite Steve McQueen films and this afternoon, after lunch I turned on the telly to discover that The Thomas Crown Affair was on. How lucky am I? The guy introducing the film suggested that the remake was better than the original. Now, I liked the remake. But, I don't think that its better. The guy suggested it was better because John McTiernan's filming style was less complicated and plot obscuring than Norman Jewison's. I liked it, though. And, I never had any trouble following the plot. Rich playboy thinks he's gotten away with the perfect crime. Pretty super-detective always gets her man. You can imagine where it goes. Or, not. You could just see the film. It made chess sexy and exciting. (Although, I have a feeling that Steve McQueen could have made doing laundry, washing dishes, or scooping the litter box sexy and exciting.)

November 22, 2008

What a Wake Up Call

About an hour before my alarm went off this morning, I was nestled all snug in my bed in that place where you are asleep but you are also awake and you're still dreaming, still processing things but you are lucid and this meta-processing begins to take place. Your conscious mind starts to make sense of what your unconscious mind is saying. And, you think, did I really get that email? Is this the Olympics? Why is that guy here?

One of those questions I asked myself was: Where is that drilling sound coming from?

I woke myself all the way up and then I looked at my feet. I saw two kittens, curled up next to each other, happily purring away. I put my head back down on the pillow, knowing it was too early to actually be awake, trying to go back to the meta-processing stage of dreaming. I felt the distinct sensation of something slowly crawling up along my back. Assuming it was Cooper, I reached out to scratch his little head. I was wrong, it was Kingsley. And, he was not up for a head-scratch. He was investigating.

We are all up now, some of us have eaten and some of us are wrestling on the floor. The rest of us are thinking about coffee and toast and are not looking forward to the essay-writing that must now take place.

At least the wake up call was pleasant.

November 21, 2008

Total Cop-Out

There is at least one of these every NaBloPoMo. For example, this lame one from last year.

I've recently been introduced to Stuff White People Like. Fantastic, it is. A brilliant bit of comedy. (And, sadly and truly, there is much there that applies to me.) So, you should go check it out, because it is pretty interesting.

November 20, 2008

Consituents. Diagrams. Right.

First off, I have to begin this entry by telling you that I have no idea if any of what I'm about to share with you is right.

Why don't I know? I don't know because I'm still a student. So, we've been learning about dependency grammar in my syntax class. And, because it is good to turn in assignments that are legible, I've been experimenting with ways to do that. Today, I tried using my computer's paint program to sort out my diagrams that are due tomorrow.

I came up with this:thehousethatjackbuilt.bmp
Pretty, right? Sure, its a little hard to read because it is so small, but you have to go with it. Here's the rub: Nothing is labeled. This is a problem. There is no point in having a diagram if nothing in it is labeled. (Also, without the label, I've not really done the assignment.) The other problem is I'm not sure if this makes it any clearer this way than if I did it by hand.

I thought I'd perhaps do one more diagram on the computer and see how that goes. If it turns out to still not be particularly clear, I'm giving up and going back to doing it by hand. Syntax isn't really my bag, but I like the idea that things are built up from relations like this. Somehow, that makes more sense to me. (Although, you shouldn't read that this is -the- way this sort of thing is done. Its more that this is what we're doing in this one class I'm taking right now.)

This sort of way of looking at syntax makes looking at languages that can have discontinuous constituents or languages in which word order is relatively free (which would make for discontinuous constituents.)

On a completely unrelated note, turkeys don't have sweat glands, so they have to pant in order to cool themselves down. Isn't that interesting?

November 19, 2008

But, I didn't know you were there!

I came home today, like the previous two days to find Cooper on my bed. I made it this morning, so he was lounging, not in a mess of blankets, but rather on the pillow. So, I did what I've done. I slowly approached the bed, speaking nicely to him. He stayed on the bed until I got to the bed, then he decided he didn't want to have head scratched, so he hopped off. I then went to feed the cats and when I came back I turned on the light in the room and sat back down on the bed. I sighed, lounged and was startled...

By a kitten shooting out from underneath the pillows.

I hadn't even known Kingsley was there. The evening has progressed from there. I had a leftover hamburger and some soup for dinner. The cats (both of them!) helped themselves to the hamburger they could get their hands on. Then they played and tried their darnedest to help themselves to the soup (with onions in it) that they were not welcome to. They hopped up on the couch and were purr-y. But, I didn't break. No Soup For Them.

In other news, they have found my houseplants. I watered my orchid today, which meant that when the kittens knocked it over, they got splashed with the water remaining in the liner tray.

November 18, 2008

Scarves and Socks and Kittens, Oh My!

I've not done a lot of knitting recently, something about trying to coax kittens out from under the bed. (Although, I have been able to get a few rows of my Guyfriend scarf I've been working on. Its a great pattern that I got out of the Simple 1-2-3 Knitting that I fished out of the Bargain Section at B&N. What a great find that book has turned out to be. But, last night, while I was sleeping, the kittens discovered two things:

1. The scarf I was working on.
2. The article I was reading.

How do I know this? I know this because when I woke up this morning to find my yarn criss-crossed all over the floor. And, I know they found the article because when I went to read it a second time, I noticed tiny little kitty bite marks in the pages. My apartment is not really kitten-proof. I've known that since the beginning. However, I'm starting to think about what that means.

The plus side of this is, they are both starting to decide that I'm pretty cool. Much like yesterday, when I got home from class Cooper was again napping in my bed and he let me pet him. Unwittingly, he is helping me trick his brother into liking me by purring. He starts purring and then his brother wants to know what is so cool that he is purring.

Kingsley came out from under the bed earlier because of this purring trick. He got a treat for it. Yup, I'm still bribing them.

November 17, 2008

Special Moment

I came home from Syntax and a research group and I announced that I was home to the fur-babies. But, then I had to announce that I was walking back towards my bedroom because the last time I did that without announcing this, I scared Cooper into running into me and the running into me scared me.

What fun we have.

So, I announce that I am coming and I look into my bedroom and a little Cooper head popped up over the unmade covers. (This is, whether you believe it or not, actually uncommon. I've taken to making my bed.) So, I slowly approached and climbed into bed and reached out and he moved a little, but he didn't bolt and he let me pet him. Then, he got into it and started purring. The purring got his brother's attention. First I read the tell-tale sounds of claws in the furniture (Eep) and then there was the tell-tale feel of little paws and little claws scaling me. I tried to stay as perfectly still as I could. Copper went to investigate Kingsley. Kingsley realized that I had realized that he was on the bed and jumped back down. Cooper came back and let me pet him some more. Kingsley climbed back on the bed and stared at me for a minute. His brother went to investigate him. He hopped back down. Cooper stared at his brother. I assume his brother stared back.

Then, I messed it up by getting down off the bed in order to feed the kittens. They are eating now. Actually, they are playing with the lose tile on the bathroom floor.

November 16, 2008

Lazy Sundays

Normalcy Courses Through My Veins

-- Jackie O. in The House of Yes.

It is a little disturbing, the number of times I've found the opportunity recently to reference that (wonderful, you should watch it) film.

After a busy morning and early afternoon of kitten hunting (Kingsley has taken to hiding behind the sofa or between the fridge and the wall), breakfast eating, and Hobby Lobby-going (only to remember once there that it is an establishment that is not open on Sundays), I came home, watched an episode of The Tudors and took a nap. Napping is such a luxury. Coming home on an afternoon where it is cold and windy out. When snow is softly flurrying to the ground, stretching out on the sofa and closing ones eyes. It is amazing.

I woke up and went about my business. I checked me email and I heard a sad little meow. I answered it, as has become my habit. Cooper woke up from his nap and went about his business. Then, we both did the same thing: we looked for his brother. He was behind the sofa. I found him first (and did my best not to alarm him, poor little scared thing.) Then, his brother found him. And, you'd think that would be a good thing. I don't know if it was or not. Cooper walked around the couch, sniffed around and then came back out licking his lips. Then, he attacked a couch cushion (which was on the floor because it annoyed me whilst I was napping). Kingsley has now emerged from the couch is snacking on the bacon I left him six hours ago. Cooper is knocking things over in my bedroom. Things seem to be reaching a state of normalcy.

November 15, 2008

How about another one?

I set the trap out this afternoon and I baited it with tuna. Around 4:30, I finally caught the second kitten. He is now scared and lost in the big wilderness of my flat. But, he's not alone and there's plenty of food and it is dry and warm.

I think these things are an improvement. (Who knows what he thinks.)

I'm not sure his brother knows that he's here, but Cooper has been playing as per usual since I brought the second one in.

I have a very exciting evening planned for the lot of us. I'm going to continue to work on my projects, make dinner and maybe we'll watch a movie later.

Don't you envy me?

November 14, 2008

Maybe You're Still Curious...

I've spent the better part of the day (and I'll be spending the better part of the weekend) working on my phonetics project.

And, it makes me want to share with all of you. I don't feel right actually using my data, but I do have some recordings of myself, so I'm going to show you that.

This is a spectrogram:


It is a spectrogram showing my production of the Welsh word diolch which you may remember from my little Cymraeg lessons means "Thank You".

the "d" sound is a voiced plosive or a "stop" consonant. It is made by creating a complete closure in the mouth. There are two things I'm going to point out about it. The release of the stop:

That is where I released the closure making the "d" sound. (This is an alveolar closure, for bonus points. Its made like you'd make the "d" sound in English.)

The other thing that you can see here is the "voicing bar". That is where I continued to voice even when there was no place for the air to go. This is lighter than what you can see later in the spectrogram, but you can see it anyway.

There are two vowels in "diolch". Vowels are distinguished by dark bands called formants. The first formant inversely correlates with "height" and the second formant correlates with "backness". Vowels are thought of "high" or "low", "front" or "back". This sort of, if you really think about it and make it work corresponds with what is going on in your mouth (how wide your jaw is, if there is lip rounding, whether your tongue is close to the roof of the mouth or near the bottom of the mouth.) Sort of.

So, that is the vowel. Lets look at the first part, "i". As I said, inversely correlates for height. The lower the first formant, the higher the vowel. The higher the second formant, the fronter the vowel:

So, its high because the first dark band is low and its front because the second dark band is high. The second vowel is what is normally transcribed as symbol called "open o". Now, whether or not I actually make that and not and "a" is anyone's guess as I don't tend to make "open o" when I'm speaking English. Its just not really in my dialect. (Although, in "a" the first two formants get really close and become hard to distinguish. So, if this isn't "open o" its just "o". But, that's a discussion for another day.)

so that's the "o" sound in diolch. Neat, right?

The last sound is the "ch" sound, which in the Southern Welsh dialect I was taught is a velar fricative. It is a sound made by bringing the back of your tongue close to the sound palate (but not so close that you'd make a complete closure.) You can see that dark gray band, it looks a little like white noise would look like. (I'm thinking that my recording isn't the best. I'm not sure that it should be gray all the way to the bottom.)

The last thing I want to show you is something known as a "velar pinch". Sounds that are made at the soft palate often make the second and third formants come together, as if they've been pinched. The "ch" sound is no exception.

Color me geeky, but I think that is so neat. We use our vocal cords and our mouths and teeth and tongue and cheeks and nose to make these sounds, that can be explained by physics and that create a signal that we can break down and interpret. How freaking awesome is that? I know, you're amazed, too.

November 13, 2008

It has been a very trying Day

I didn't mean to maim you, I only meant to kill you.

--Jackie O. in The House of Yes.

I hope the kittens don't think of me as Jackie O.

First, I almost had the second kitten. I just completely fucked up at the last second and that was all Mr. McQueen needed to get out. I put out the have-a-heart trap and the gate was down but there was no cat inside and I'm hoping that's because the wind set it off and that I haven't absolutely fucked up. I reset it and fixed the twist ties so that hopefully it won't close again when I don't want it to. (I leaned on it to check and it seemed fine.) I just hope the little guy comes back out and eats. I didn't mean to scare him, I only meant to catch him.

Second, while I was making lunch I decided I needed to tie my hair back. I hadn't realized that my little (newly) indoor friend was in his carrier enjoying a snack. First, I scared him. Then, he ran straight into my ankle scaring me. He then ran out into the living room where he has spent a better part of the afternoon hiding in one of my curtains.

The good news is I've gotten homework due tomorrow done and homework due on Next Thursday done. I'm set it work on a project next, but I think I might go check on my outdoor friend first. I didn't mean to scare him (nor did I mean to let him go once I'd caught him.) I'm feeling really dumb right now.

November 12, 2008

All Tuckered Out...

Right now, little Cooper pants is sleeping underneath a pillow and blanket I kicked off during the night. That is where he's chosen to make his little kitty fort and that is where I'm going to leave him for right now. He's had a rough twenty-four hours.

So, After I caught him (but not his friend, Kingsley McQueen) I brought him into the house and not knowing quite what to do with him, I took him to the bathroom. Its small, its dark. There's a brand new litter box in it. Perfect, right? Well, he came out of the box and was cowering behind it and then I moved it. I wasn't graceful about the moving and it made a lot of noise sending Cooper to the other end of the bathtub where I had put a towel for him to be cozy on. (He's been getting cozy on my bath towels in the cat carrier for a day or so now.) Only, he didn't get cozy on the towel. He got cozy under the towel.


I had to go to class, so I went. Then, I went to the grocery store to pick up some more cat food (since I'll be feeding them in two separate places, I needed some more supplies.) I also bought some tasty, animal friendly people food (for coaxing.) When I got back, Cooper was still hiding. So, I made some chicken. I took my chicken near the bathroom, where I ate and talked. He meowed a little. I scootched closer. He was out from under the towel. He let me pet him. I hand fed him some chicken. He let me pet him some more.

Then, he purred.

It was amazing.

The things I've been reading about socializing feral kittens said that if you get purring, try holding them in your lap. So, I did. Except, I was a bit more ambitious than that. I thought maybe he'd want to sit in my lap while I was sitting on the couch. (Okay, I thought I'd like to sit on the couch while he sat in my lap since House was on. I was wrong. We were fine until we got a few steps away from the bathroom. Then, he crawled up my shoulder and dove off me, landing safely on the floor and immediately taking refuge behind the toilet.

Okay, My mistake. I accept this new toilet refuge, I thought. Then, E. called. My saviour. She has a dog crate that she has modified to be cozy for cats. She brought the crate over and we set it up. She got to meet Cooper. Cooper let her pet him and feed him some chicken. We talked for awhile and then she went home.

I sat down to do some work. I was happily typing away and then suddenly I hear a soft little meow. From right beside me. Cooper had made it out of the bathroom. He explored a little, very cautiously. He ran back to his crate whilst I was getting ready for bed. And, then he spent the night meowing and exploring. When I was awake enough to hear him, I meowed back, but mostly he just went out his thing. He found the recycling and played in that. (My apartment is really kitten proof. This may be a problem.) And, at about six in the morning he came wandering into the bedroom, meowing all the way.

I wasn't sure where exactly he was this morning, until after I'd made breakfast, updated my facebook status, and fed his friend outside (who still won't come anywhere near me. But, who was also waiting for food.) I sat down to do some reading and to eat my breakfast and while I was leaving a little bacon trail in hopes of enticing the little guy out, I looked under my bed and saw him. All tuckered out and curled up. Just too precious.

In other news, Feral Cat Focus has agreed to lend me a have-a-heart trap in exchange for spaying the cats once I have caught them, which I was going to do anyway. So, perhaps there will be less trauma in catching Kingsley now.


November 11, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...

I had a brain wave while I was working on my semantics assignment last night. I recently got a new TV stand and I still had the box. It is a pretty tall box and you know, cats like boxes. So, I'll take the box out and they'll play in it and I'll scoop up the box and bring them inside.

Things were going swimmingly. They crawled on me and ate some tuna. They played in the box. I got them! That is, until the one we've been calling Kingsley (who is really a reincarnation of Steve McQueen) made a break for it.

Well, I'll tell the rest of the story at some point, but right now I have to attend to the kitten crying in my bathroom.

November 10, 2008

Just Now...

It is a clear (ish) night. The moon is out. It is 35 degrees. I took my friend Lena home and when I got back I went to say good night to the kittens. I noticed their bowl was empty so I went back into the house and brought them out some more kibble. After I put the food into the bowl, I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye, so I stood stalk still. It was Cooper. He cautiously came up to the bowl and started eating...with me standing over him! Kingsley started inching towards us, but then decided that what he really wanted to do was to show off by jumping around on the logs.

After Cooper was done eating, he bathed himself before going to play with Kingsley! All while I was standing right there! Next to him! Without any gloves on! Because I wasn't planning on being outside for very long!

Earlier today, they were playing in the cat carrier and I got very disheartened because I kept inching closer so I could shut the door and bring them into my place but I'd get just close enough to reach out for the carrier and they'd sprint out of it like it was on fire. I'm thinking tomorrow I might put a blanket it over it so that they can't see me coming from the little vents. (They will still be able to hear me, though.) However, I have hope that maybe we can have a repeat of this eating incident with me standing close and then, perhaps, if I put some tuna or something in the carrier they will go investigate it and I can bring them inside.

The good news is that today is to coldest it is supposed to get this week. In other good news, I have the building manager's blessing to adopt both of them.

(In case you were worried about them being too cold outside, I left them a blanket in the cat carrier I put out. Also, it would seem that their furry little bodies don't mind the cold so much. My not so furry little body does and my fingers are still complaining about the cold even as I type this. Ah, the price you pay for a little bit of fur bucket-y cuteness.)

November 09, 2008

In Case You haven't been following the Drama...

I've been pretty consistently tweeting my adventures outdoors. So, right now I think they are taking a nap. I just took that out something else to drink. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon sitting outside letting them be curious about me (and bacon.) I made myself breakfast this morning and brought some bits and pieces out to them.

The thing was, if they wanted the bacon-y goodness, they had to get pretty close to where I was sitting. My little ruse worked.


This one I'm currently calling Cooper. He's wondering if there is more bacon where the piece he just scarfed came from.


And, this one I'm currently calling Kingsley. Cooper took his piece and went to sit back next to the bowl I left out for them. But, Kingsley stayed up close by me while he was noshing. And, here's one more picture of him sitting on the piece of wood that they've built their little home out of. He's so cute.


I know that its just a matter of patience, but it worries me that last night was cold and wet and tonight is also supposed to be cold and wet. (I know I've said that before.) I'm hoping they get used to me sooner rather than later. (Also, because it is cold outside and I don't like having to sit out in the cold. Especially since I have a nice and lovely warm apartment where I can sit and be warm.)

November 08, 2008

Why is it cold out?

Saturday started out much like it does every week. I turned off my alarm and gloried in the notion that today I could sleep as long as I want. I got up around 9. I took some kibble and some water out to the kittens. I had a banana. And, then I went and picked up Lena so we could go to the Farmer's market.

This week, I will be eating a lot of potatoes and hubbard squash. Also, I finally got the cinnamon roll I've been craving since I finished reading Sunshine. I bought apples (for eating) and more apples (for baking into a pie I am going to take to a get together I will be attending later today.)

Then, I came home, made myself some lunch, and I've been studying. Outside. Where the kittens could see me. This afternoon, I took them out a box to see if they would play in it. And, they have been. It was really quite adorable. It was a bit like watching the kitten version of "King of the Castle". One would go into the box and they other would try to come in and they would bat at each other. I opened both ends of the box, so sometimes one of the kittens would go around and launch a rear attack on the castle. It was adorable.

I brought out a bit of yarn with me that needed to be untangled, and I worked out that. When they remembered I was there, they'd start and try to back away. I would pretend I didn't even notice they were there and then they'd go back to playing. At one point, after I'd untangled the yarn, I threw it away and then reeled it back in. They seemed curious and interested, but they still aren't confident enough to come and investigate. They did venture closer to me on their own than they ever did before. So, it would seem I'm going to have to continue to bundle up and go sit out in the cold near them and play. I feel like I'm making progress.

November 07, 2008

A kitten update

First, should I be worried that the injection site from one of my vaccinations is still red and feels warm to the touch?

Second, after a meeting this evening, Lena (my Belgian friend) and I went to have a look at the kittens. We put some food out for them and tried to coax them out. They sat under some logs (where we could still see them) but they didn't come out. She suggested that I leave a piece of my clothing out there so that they could have a sniff of it and maybe that will give them a better sense that I'm not a freaking weirdo. (I've only seen two of the three kittens yesterday and today and that worries me a little. However, the one I haven't seen is the one that runs the first when I come to see them, so I'm hoping that is it.) After that, Lena and I had some tea and talked about possible names. I feel that it is perhaps a little optimistic that I am thinking about names, but I might as well since I'd already thought up two names and I've been secretly calling them by their names.

For right now, I am calling them Sand, Eliot, and Kingsley. I have a box that I am going to take out for them to explore and I'm thinking I might make them some warm milk tomorrow afternoon. Today was supposed to the last nice day for awhile, but I am prepared to go sit outside for awhile and read. I hope that it works and they come investigate me. I don't want them to be out in the cold forever.

November 06, 2008

Maybe You're Curious...

Maybe you're curious about what it is that I actually do in school. And, if you asked me my answer would be is that I learn about awesome linguistic phenomena. My particular interests are in the direction of sounds and words (mostly, the lexicon.) Which means this week's lessons have been heavy on the physics. This means I get to look at awesome things like spectrograms and waveforms, like this one

That is a (super noisy) recording of me saying "Curiosities". Guess where I got that. I was trying to make a cleaner recording so that I could put up a spectrogram, but I had an issue with my microphone (which is annoying). Things that I've learned this week include that the fundamental frequency is the first harmonic and is controlled by the vocal cords. All of the other harmonics are integer multiples above that. These harmonics are then manipulated by the resonance properties of the vocal tract. Why is this important? Well, because of this manipulation we can look at things like waveforms and spectrograms and speculate about sounds in an educated way. For example, vowels have specific dark regions called formants. They indicate where the energy (because of the resonance properties) is more intense.

And, as fun and interesting as that sounds (and it is, at least to me) that isn't what I want to bring to your attention.

This is what I wanted to bring to your attention. Go have a listen. The pure (in a non-technical sense) tones, the whistling you hear about the humming in that recording are made by a human voice. It is called harmonic singing or throat singing. The singer manipulates their vocal tract so that all of the energy is focused on one (or two, I suppose) harmonics. So, if there were formants in the "vowel", now there aren't because everything has been pushed together. Isn't that cool?

November 05, 2008

In Which I Turn Myself into a pin Cushion 2: The Revenge

I woke up this morning to the sound of my insistent alarm. I put two feet firmly on the floor and moved towards its annoying buzzing. And, I fell over. I managed to get to my alarm and it turn off. And, thankfully, my alarm is my phone. Clutching it to me I wiggled all my various appendages. Toes? Check. Ankles? Check? Knees? Check. Hips? Check. Everything seemed to be working fine. Once again, I moved to put to both feet under me and push myself up. This was a lot harder than it should have been. I had to push down panic.

Last night, while walking around the grocery store, I joked with my friend Elizabeth that I'd gotten a flu shot as a kindness to other graduate students because the only reason I don't go to class (or work) is if I'm dying or in the hospital. I thought, "Well, spectacular. I might just get the chance to test that out!" I had the following horrifying conversation in my head. Hi, Jodi? This is Kate Donelson. How are you? *pause* That's good to hear. *pause* Well, I've been better, actually. I was wondering if you could pass a message on to Dr. Dryer and Dr. Huang. I won't be in today because I'm currently in the hospital. *pause* Oh, no. No need to worry. I should be right as rain in no time. It would just seem that I've had some sort of reaction to a vaccination I got yesterday.

"No Need to Panic." I told myself. Since I'd successfully gotten myself back into bed (after only a small amount of struggle.) maybe there was nothing wrong with me. Maybe I was just still asleep when I got out of bed the first time. Just in case, I stayed where I was for a few minutes, testing and retesting the aformentioned joints for ability to move. Then, I tried again. Clutching my phone, I put two feet firmly on the floor and stood up. So far, so good. I walked slowly but deliberately to my bathroom (still clutching my phone.) While in the bathroom, my overactive imagination reared its little head again and I had this horrible conversation in my head. Hello, 911? Uhm, I seem to be having an allergic reaction to a vaccination or something. I can't walk. *pause* So, here's my address. *pause* Well, I'll try to make it to the front door, but currently I'm in the bathroom with my pajamas down around my ankles. *pause* Oh, no, I'm fine. I'm mean, aside from needing an ambulance. *pause* Will they? Oh, good. I'll start crawling towards the door now.

Seriously. Overactive. Imagination.

I made it to my kitchen, where I poured myself some juice. I then walked into my living room to have a seat, drink my juice and do some reading. I discover that I'm fine, it is just that all of my limbs feel unnecessarily heavy. Super, right? But, not that surprising. The piece of paper that came with my vaccination warned that I could expect, fever, tiredness, nausea, diarrhea, chills, swollen glands, sore joints, redness or swelling, body aches and headache. And, those are just the mild symptoms. So, the fact that I quickly recovered and have felt safe to walk (and drive) the rest of the day, I think bode well. I put some kibble in a bowl and wandered outside (slowly, whilst clutching my phone) to feed the kittens. I took a shower (and found myself oddly rocking back and forth in an uncomfortable manner. It was short shower.) I went to class. (Although, I did take the afternoon off. And, by "off" I mean instead of going to lab meetings, I've been sitting on my floor near the sun lamp doing homework.) And, now I'm sitting here, blogging, thinking that just because one can give blood and update their vaccinations on the same day, doesn't mean that one should.

November 04, 2008

In Which I become a human pin cushion

Some would call me bold, going back to the Red Cross and letting them (try to) take blood from me. I, however, would just call me stupid.

So, I go and it turns out they don't have a print out of the people who preregistered. But, that is okay. There weren't a lot of people when I turned up after my phonetics class. I go, I read the stuff, we start to fill out my forms, take my vitals and bam! Computer problem. We have to start over. We get back to the same place and they have me fill out the "Have You Ever?" questionnaire and we go to move onto the second step and my stuff isn't there. They try all kinds of things. Still not there. So, they dick around and they have me fill out the questionnaire again. Still not there. The third time, instead of it being "self-administered" , someone asks me the questions manually and it finally moves onto the print out and I get to go give blood.


Now, there are some truths about my cute little veins. In particular, there are some truths about my cute little veins when they are introduced to (what to me looked like) a ten gauge needle. I tell this to the, I know I'm going to spell this wrong, phlebotomist. And, a seems to be the case, people tend to politely ignore this advice that I'm giving them. (I obviously don't have any sort of medical training, so how the hell could I know what I'm talking about, right?)

I don't want to speak ill of an organization or discourage anyone from future blood donations. But, this seems to only happen with one specific blood donation/collection organization. (Although, how hard could it be to figure out? Just scroll up.) Some of you might remember the bruise of death from June. (Which, if you didn't see it or if you need a reminder, just let me know and I'll send you a link to the photo.) But, I came back from it. I soldiered on. This is my second time giving blood since then.

Scratch that. This is the second time I've attempted to give blood since then. And, I say attempted because my handler swabbed me, prepped me, iodined me and then stuck me. She didn't stick my vein, she stuck me. Her response? "Your vein moved." I sighed and said, "Yes, I mentioned they were wily." She responded, "And, small." I smiled, "Yes, we discussed that when you took my form from me."

Now, maybe I shouldn't have been so politely sarky, because then my blood "slowed down" and it took two nurses to monkey around with the needle in order to get it to start flowing again. It eventually trickled off again (although, I didn't give a full pint) and they weren't able to get the little test vials (because they didn't get them first) so they'll be destroying my blood and not using it and I can't give blood again for another fifty-six days. (For sure, fifty-six days from now, I'll be giving either at UIHC or with UNYTS. Because this other organization I'm trying really hard not to trash right now? Ya. Done with them.)

But, I did get to have some shortbread cookies and two juice boxes.

Now that I'd (attempted) to do one of my civic duties, I went and took care of some other take-a-deep-breath-it-will-all-be-over-soon duties. Namely, getting a flu shot and updating some vaccinations for which it was time to get a booster. The shots were easy-peasy. I feel a little tired now, but that isn't much of a surprise. I'm down blood and I've introduced some viral agents into my system. Ooh, and wonderfully, they were covered completely by my insurance. That was a nice surprise. Right now I'm just hanging out watching the election coverage. (Megyn Kelly on Fox News really needs to stop saying "My big tool". Its just awkward.) My other civic duty, namely voting, was dispatched awhile back thanks to absentee voting and the U.S. Postal Service. I'm going to do some reading at some point tonight as well (Speech Perception Lab is tomorrow afternoon).

In kitten news: This morning they were hanging out looking around where I'd left the food last night (presumably wondering if the tuna fairy had once again come in the night). When they saw me coming they stuck a pose and looked at me a bit and then quickly ducked back into the woods. This evening, I bought some kibble and took out a bowl and some water for them. I got to my car (to go get myself some kibble), turned around, and one of them was already face first in the crunchies. I hope that they decide that I'm okay soon because its really nice out now, but its supposed to get cold and nasty this weekend.

November 03, 2008


So, I get up this morning and I go to school and while I'm getting in my car to drive away, I notice something moving in the woods by my flat. Its two kittens playing on a pile of wood. One of them I've seen around before, usually poking around the dumpsters. It made me sad to see them out there and I thought I'd go check it out when I got home.

They're so tiny. They are definitely kittens.

Anyway, when I came home, I didn't have to investigate. They were playing on the same stack of wood. Happy as little lions. So, I walked out towards them and they stopped playing and stared at me and then when I got too close they dove underneath some branches. I went back in the house and grabbed my last packet of tuna. I left it for them. A couple of hours later, I went back out to check on them, and the tuna was almost gone. (I actually hadn't even noticed one of them sort of creeping towards it for more. Of course, I scared it back.)

I'm hoping that after a few days of leaving them some nibbles that they'll decide that I'm okay so that I can either A. adopt them or B. take them to the Ten Lives Club so that some other awesome person can adopt them. It is going to get cold and awful and snowy. And, even though they have little kitty fur coats on, they shouldn't have to be out there in the cold and ice. That's just not cool.

Any ideas on how to better coax them out of the woods?

November 02, 2008

Sunday Brunch

Today, I had some friends over for Sunday brunch. It was lovely. I've had a pumpkin in the house, and I'd been thinking about exactly what to do with it. A couple of days ago, it occurred to me: Curry it. I got the recipe from this website. I'm not sure I used the right kind of chilies. (Or, at least not the right kind of chilies for my poor little tastebuds.). It was very spicy but so super creamy.

Even if it looked a little odd.


Plus, I got to serve it in its own shell.


It took a little longer to make than I thought it would. I always forget just how long it takes to hollow out a pumpkin. (Well, really, a squash of any kind.)

Stuff wasn't ready when my guests arrived, so we had coffee and some crackers and cheese. Then we moved onto the pumpkin, which I served with green beans and this:


That's stuffed chicken breasts in a honey mustard glaze. It was so luscious. My guests brought au gratin spaghetti squash and some scones made with lavender essence and clotted cream. After brunch, we sat around chatting, drinking chai and finishing off the meal with the scones. I really enjoyed planning the menu and getting up and cooking this morning. I'm thinking I may make this a monthly thing. Today was unintentionally squash themed, which means I have to think up a theme for next month. Any suggestions?

November 01, 2008

Yes, Kids, It is that time of year again


Welcome to November. A month of term paper drafts, Christmas shopping, turkey eating, wind and (maybe) snow and darkness. A month of blog posting. I'm pretty excited about the prospect this year. I was thinking that I would make this a theme month; the original plan was, starting today to start the "energy cleansing diet" from this book. You know, take the opportunity to clean up my act a little (after the past year and a half, I really need it) and use this blog as a way of keeping myself honest. If I'm updating my seven readers about what I'm eating and how its going then there is a better than fair chance that I'll actually keep up with things. ("Better than fair" is a non-technical term here used to be "greater than chance". But, not much greater.) This is still the plan, I'm just putting it off for a week so that I can prepare. (Preparing is interesting and sometimes hard work.)

Also this month, I would expect to read a lot about my coursework. I have two big papers I'm working on: the first one is a review of Daniel Dennet's The Intentional Stance for a class on Cognitive Science. The second one is a phonetic inventory of Dutch for a class on Phonetics.

This afternoon the plan is to work on the latter of the two. I have it in my head that this time next week I'll have sorted out the vowel inventory. Right now, this seems like a crazy notion to me, but perhaps it isn't. It would put me on track, so to speak. And, vowels are, in their own clever way, rather complicated. The process of tagging the data alone is time consuming, not to mention the data collection, the literature review and the analysis. I feel that all will be well once I get the tagging done. At the point, the fun of creating a vowel chart and writing up my observations can begin.

Also on the agenda for today is putting up the new table I bought. I still haven't quite sorted out the new place yet. I feel like I'm settling into it, though. And, that's a good feeling.