I'm writing this from the little Seattle's Best Coffee place inside a QFC (grocery store) in UW's university district. I just finished the second day of my two day campus visit and I am wiped the hell out. I have not been able to dig up dirt from the current grad students except that it might be hard to pay rent with a 9 month assistantship if I have to pay 12 months rent. Solution: find summer work or, as I had planned, get a 9 month lease and spend at least the first summer back in SF doing independent study credits. Not so bad. The rain has stayed away since I arrived and for that I'm grateful. In fact, it's been really warm out in the day and there was almost blue sky. So I'm staying in this dump ass motel (brand name but still not so good). But it was cheap ($64 a night) and walking distance to campus. What the map doesn't tell you is that the walk is up a hill called Pend O'Reille that is sure to build me some serious buns of steel. Hiking up it with a backpack full of pamphlets, water, and a camcorder is even harder. The campus here is gorgeous. Comparing it to SFSU is like comparing the Hollywood hills to government project homes. California really needs to work on funding education man. The 10-week quarter system will be a bitch but it'll make shitty classes go by faster.

Anyways, more on this dump ass motel. There are goddamn stains on the inside of the lampshade that look like coffee, I think, I hope. There's no soap dish or shelf in the shower, there's no lotion or conditioner, the heater is deafening as is the street traffic, and the seats of both chairs are badly stained. Ew. I have put towels on both chairs because they are frightening me. Last night I listened as my neighbour on one side watched TV. After they were done, my neighbour on the other side watched TV until late in the night. That same neighbour woke up at 6am and I could hear their water running through the pipes. I think my few years of business travel spoiled me. I can't handle a two star inn and there's no way in hell I can handle a hostel I can tell you that now. Another prospective student stayed at the College Inn where the bathrooms are shared. She said the dent in the middle of the mattress was so deep she had to sleep on the bed sideways. I thought that was pretty funny.

Alright, time to think about finding some food to eat. Can't wait to get back to Vancouver and eating something other than catered sandwiches (not that I'm complaining about free food).


procrastination routine

I realized that my style of procrastination is rather formulaic and predictable and, for the most part, it involves doing various online stuff. Before I begin any major paper or work of any sort that I find difficult or boring or both, I do the following (not always in this order):

- check my email
- approve or reject comments made on my blog
- read MyYahoo page and click to read the interesting news items
- check my Google Adsense account
- look at my sitemeter stats
- look for stuff on Craigslist (e.g. free stuff or I help friends if they're looking for something)
- read other people's blogs and occasionally leave comments
- post a blog entry

If that's not enough to get me awake and warmed up, I also do a load of laundry and tidy up the apartment. This is an incredibly lengthy process that takes time away from my work but I just can't help it. So tell me, what is your procrastination routine?


printer review

So my trusty Canon S600 finally printed its last page. I got it online back in 2000 and it printed out page after page in brilliant colour. Once in a while it would feed two sheets instead of one, but for the most part it did its job well. Aftermarket cartridges were $6-7 (cheaper, I just found out, if you get 'em on eBay). Five and a half years of service. I'd say that's pretty good. The other day I decided to buy an older S450 off Craigslist so I could use up the remainder of my ink cartridges. The thing was $15 so I figured it couldn't hurt to try. Unfortunately, it didn't work. I emailed the seller and he was honest enough to PayPal my $15 back. Honesty is certainly what makes that site work.

So I thought I would share some research gathered the last few days by scouring Amazon and Epinions. Generally, HP printers are really high quality, really fast, but when you need to change the ink, with most models, you need to also replace the print head. Sooooo that means it's damn expensive to have an HP. There are no aftermarket cartridges for many models too. The Epsons are cheaper and also print really sharp images. There are cheap aftermarket cartridges for most of them but the complaint for many of the Epsons is that they don't use ink efficiently and the ink clogs up the head and you have to buy a new one or spend money fixing it. Apparently they don't last more than about a year. From my own experience and from reading hundreds of reviews, the Canons are generally the best bang for the buck. Super cheap cartridges ($2-3 on eBay, aftermarket), good quality printing, maybe not as fast as HP but good enough. Oh and they work for years. So I got this Canon IP4000 it's going for about $200 used on Amazon but......I found it on Craigslist from a fellow who lives five minutes down the road for only $35. His wife wanted to stick to HP (extreme brand loyalty). It had been sitting in his garage so I couldn't do a test print so the guy let me take it home without paying for it. I've tested it and it's AWESOME. Fast, sharp, and quiet. I'm going to meet up with him Saturday to hand over the cash and pick up some more cartridges he's throwing in free. I love it when people sell stuff and don't care if they're losing money on it.


BC ferry

Holy cow, one of those big huge BC Ferries sunk. Despite being a decent swimmer, I hate open waters. I don't like to be too far from shore, even with a life jacket and a jet ski. However, I did always feel safe on BC Ferries. They are huge. You drive your car onboard and there are over a hundred cars on the bottom floor and all the folks get out of their cars and hang out upstairs where there's a cafeteria and arcade and lots of seating. We used to take them over to Victoria or Cowichan or wherever we were going. I loved taking the ferry because the clam chowder is tasty and it was beautiful to look out at the water in the day time. But I'm not so sure I feel comfortable getting on one of those ferries again.

In other news, there was an earthquake here yesterday. I was at school in the basement of the creative arts building with my laptop when a friend IM'd me asking "did you feel that?" That reminded me of the time I was working in SFin 2001 and that Seattle earthquake hit. My geographically challenged father emailed me to ask if I felt that because it easily shook homes in Vancouver. Anyways, the one here yesterday was in the eastbay and though I was closer to it, I didn't feel it. Two friends working from San Mateo felt a good shake though. I like little shakes, they make me feel like the earth is just stretching so that it doesn't have to pitch a big fit all at once.


Simon's 30th

Simon celebrated his 30th this weekend. I booked a dinner at Schnitzel Haus just because it was something different and it was really well rated on Citysearch. It was a big hit (just like Mochica was last year). You can order beer in a gigantic boot that you're supposed to pass around the table. It got a little nasty with all that grease and lip gloss collecting on the rim but ah well. After dinner we went to Eight Club for a party called Ghetto Disco that didn't really get off the ground. We left and went to the trusty Voda Lounge and discovered upon arrival that they no longer allow drinking outside in Belden Lane where they used to put out benches and tables for the patrons. Darn it. They did, however, have a new pole for customers to try out their pole dancing skills. But we quickly got restless and walked a couple blocks to EZ-5, a little lounge on the edge of Chinatown. I'll spare you the details but let's just say that the garbage bag Simon was carrying in his pocket in case of emergency went to good use. In fact, he also used the bag that Denny (the other passenger in my car) was carrying in case of emergency. The owners at EZ-5 were so impressed with our preparation that they thanked us and loaded us up with bottles of water, napkins, and more garbage bags before we left. With that, we bid farewell.

Beer from a boot

The most delicious schnitzel ever

In America, a gift that comes in a Safeway bag is bound to be liquor. In this case, a 12-year-old Glenlivet

You've seen Zoolander right?

I will spare you the puking photos but let it be known that these two were the pukers. Man it must suck to work at a restaurant at 2am 'cause you have to serve people like us.


shared housing

While I'm nowhere near ready to be moving away just yet, I can't help but browse Craigslist Seattle to see what the housing is like up there. Since I plan only to stick around for the school year and spend my summers in the Bay Area, I figured it would be worthwhile to check out shared housing. Now I did that when I first moved down here and it wasn't the best experience in the world. My housemate, we'll call her Viv, was a nice girl. She was, however, a complete nympho. Every weekend morning I'd wake up and see a different man walking around the house despite the fact that she supposedly had a steady boyfriend. Viv shared a room (don't ask me how that worked) with another girl we'll call Martha. Martha was a tempermental self-absorbed arrogant yet emotionally unstable bitch. Martha, age 24, was also madly in love with a heavily bearded middle age man with a wife and kids. She was planning to move away to Texas to stalk him. Viv and I helped her get a headstart on that fantasy by kicking her ass out because we couldn't stand her. That was a glorious day.

After Martha, came a 21-year-old we'll call Rena. Rena seemed sane and pleasant enough. That is, until she came home wearing Viv's clothes, a brand new sweater no less. After a stern talking to, Viv continued to use our lotions and nail polish and one day Viv, who arranged her closet by clothing type, sleeve length and colour, discovered her clothes randomly jammed in her closet. Rena the chronic clothes borrower was at it again. Luckily, she didn't fit into my stuff. What pissed me off about her was that she managed to get food on the damn wall when she was cooking and left it for us to clean up. I could take it no more. I moved into a 1 bedroom by myself in the slums of South San Francisco. I preferred that to shared housing. But, still, I have friends with roomates and it seems to work for them, so I've been looking... you know just out of curiosity. Here are some snippets from shared housing posts I've seen recently (my comments in italics):

We are a CHRISTians who go to a AWSOME church and like to go on missions and crusades and street evangelism and are looking for a couple of CHRISTians who actually WALK the WALK and just don't talk the talk! (Oh my CHRIST, you have no idea how quickly I would turn and run from this place. What is with Christians wanting to live with other Christians? Do you ever see a post like that coming from a Buddhist? Jesus.)

I'm a guy living with a chickfriend. We are both from Eastern WA and figured, "Hey, let's pool our resources in the big city." So we moved in together last July. Soon after that she found a boyfriend and practically moved out. Which was cool for a while but now she is engaged and pregnant. Soooo, I said I would look for a new roommate so she no longer has to pay for an apartment she doesn't live in. Babies are so expensive. They are getting married this April Fools Day (no kidding). (OK, that was just a funny post. Poor guy)

Apartment has Comcast cable internet with wireless router so that I can support my World of Warcraft addiction. (Uh, do you bathe when you're feeding this addiction?)

All the bottled water you can drink from the 3rd deepest aquifer in the U.S. (WTF are you talking about?)

Current residents are 3 men and 2 women, ages 35-75. (I'm sorry, did you say 75? Aren't most people over, I dunno 50, sick of the whole shared housing thing? Do household chores include taking care of the 75-year-old?)

Bill and GNA (pronouced Gina) are looking for a female over 25 to live in domestic bliss (i.e. good communication and conflict resolution skills)with us. (I cannot live with people who speak of themselves in third-person and capitalize all the letters in their name, letters that make no phonetic sense. And "domestic bliss"? Is that a code word for swinger? Yikes.)

Must like cats (I have 3) (Three cats. That's three too many)

A must is that you are a very clean person and actually like to clean. If you know you aren't or are hoping to adjust, then this will not be a good fit for you. (Actually this is something that I would write)

RIP Lucky hamster

Today Simon got a call from a coworker who went into his cube to feed Lucky, his office hamster. He said Lucky had either passed away or had fallen into an extremely deep sleep. Rest in peace dear friend. Lucky was born in May 2004 and was given a second chance at life. A coworker's cat had come home to show off a prize. She walked into the house and spat out a tiny rodent. It was a baby and its eyes had probably just opened that week. Ruslan scooped up the baby and realized that it was a hamster and not a mouse (no tail). Not sure how a hamster ends up in reach of an outdoor cat but it did. Simon adopted the baby as his office pet and named her Lucky for obvious reasons. Despite traumatic beginnings she was very tame. Here are some photos taken of her the week we got her. Her eyes aren't really that red (only when we used flash).

So the big question is, who in the office is going to take care of burying the body? He's not back in the office until Monday and these things sorta can't wait.



It feels weird when Simon's out of town. Kinda like a preview of what's to come of my life when I move away for school (lookin' like 90% chance I'll be going UW in Seattle, more about that below). I don't talk to anyone all day except my hamsters. I dropped a brazil nut on my hamster's head today by accident. Good thing those little critters are agile 'cause brazil nuts are huge. Talking to my students when I tutor is not the same because they're not adults. The 17-year-old comes close but, still, most of the dialog is instructional.

I had a break between sessions today so I decided to grab some dinner instead of waiting until 9pm to eat like usual. I headed to Tapioca Express to get a bento and milk tea and sat alone with a Chinese magazine that I couldn't read. I like to look at the pictures to see what hair styles look good on Asian hair and giggle at their occasional attempts to insert English copy. Eating out alone feels like I'm on business travel. I feel sort of mysterious because most people looking at me probably think I look too young to be on business travel and wonder then why I might be eating alone. My favourite place to dine by my lonesome is at sushi bars where I can watch the sushi chefs work and eavesdrop on random conversations.

Anyways, I'm on a wait list for NYU and have only to hear from York in Toronto. The other two schools I visited are not high on my list for various reasons. But UW is just looking like a real good offer and the emails I've exchanged with faculty and students have so far emitted a rather positive vibe. I'll also be getting better health care than I currently have and also dental and vision (and boy do I need to get my eyes and teeth checked...I'm loooong overdue). Flights back to SF are often on sale for $129 and it only takes 2 hours to fly here or 2 hours to drive to Vancouver. But still, this change is going to be hard.



I have a major project to do. My master's thesis which has been in the works for a couple semesters now mostly because I had too much going on, partly because I'm easily distracted with other personal projects. Today I decided to waste time by learning about all the neighbourhoods in Seattle and mapping their distance to the UW campus. After that, I started doing calculations of whether it's better to rent or own, given that there is some cheap real estate there (though I realize I have a very distorted idea of what a good deal is after living in the Bay Area in a rented 2/1 35-year-old shack that costs over a half million bucks). Anyways, I'm not done with that and I'm sure I'll waste more time on it now that I've discovered zillow.com. My final time waster of the day was this web page I just wrote and added Google ads to. Yes it's my not-so-quick-and-dirty guide to applying to grad school. I had to put that new found knowledge somewhere. Please enjoy (and give those ads some lovin')


kinda chilly

After traveling to Chicago where -2 C feels like -10 with the windchill, I'm handling the unseasonably cold weather here quite well. There was actually a dusting of snow in Sausalito over the weekend that caused two deaths as 28 cars piled atop each other on the 101 heading south toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Apparently it was raining one second and snowey and slick the next. That's pretty crazy.

What sucks for me is that there is no damn heat in our place right now. All sorts of shit fell apart over the Christmas holidays, e.g. our furnace breaking down and then our screen door ripping right off its hinges in a wind/rainstorm. Our landlord birthed twins around this time and we haven't really bugged her to get this stuff fixed because a screen door serves little purpose and we don't usually need heat in Foster City. But, damn, it's getting a little chilly in the mornings which makes it even tougher to crawl out of bed. I think it's time for a friendly reminder before my hamsters' heartrates slow and they slip into hibernation/coma. Meanwhile in Toronto it's really warm. I tell you it's the coming of the apocalypse.

OK gotta make dinner for one (Simon's in TO) and watch 24 on Tivo. BTW, did you know you can stream music from Tivo now? Pretty awesome.


back from Irvine

Three campus visits in a month is going to kill me. If not because of the time spent sitting on a plane, then because I make extremely poor food choices when I travel (especially if it's not on my tab). Ugh, my one work out this week didn't fix those. My visit to UC Irvine was great. The professors there are really nice and the vibe was so very positive. But being a public school, any of the UCs is not going to give me the funding I'm going to need to make ends meet as an international student (they can't waive non-resident tuition for more than the first year of study). But I also decided that despite my interests in people (first) and media (second), anthro is too far removed from communication theory, something I've spent way too many years studying to just abandon. So I spent the trip just being a good listener and letting the other prospective students ask all their questions. Irvine was strangely like Foster City but perhaps even more dull, I mean suburban. Everything is sooo spread out with alternating apartment complexes, office buildings, and strip malls. Here's a photo I took on campus.

pretty reflection captured on the window of a building at UC Irvine

I had nothing to do on Saturday afternoon so I went to Fashion Island to go shopping for a couple bday gifts. The outdoor shopping center was in Newport Beach. People here are stinking rich and all have small dogs who wear clothing that quite likely costs more than anything in my wardrobe. They also look strangely alike. Many many white women with really ridiculously dark tans, overly bleached blond hair, big boobs, and lots of make up and lip gloss... and there's something else. The skin on their faces is pulled unnaturally taut. Being there was really kinda spooky and surreal. I was pretty happy to get out of there and over to Orange County Airport to continue my people watching where the ladies didn't all look like clones.

view of the ocean from the entrance to Fashion Island shopping center in Newport Beach, CA


another view of Chi

So upon returning to Chicago, Dean, my presentation buddy from my school, and I parted ways and he had quite an adventure with a bunch of people he met through friends of friends. The JA connection is quite something, I tell ya. You gotta read about his weekend. Oh and there's pics of me presenting at the conference too.

Man my day was dramatic. I had one crying student in my writing lab and soon after that, the crazy union bitch who yelled at me last year came back. She didn't remember who I was and tried to get me to sign up for the union again. I politely said "no thanks" while she sat down and made herself comfortable. She replies, "Well, why not?" I'm thinking 'cause you already take a chunk out of my paycheck, I haven't benefitted in any way yet from this unionization thing, I'm out of here in a few months, and I'm too selfish to care, pay for, or fight for someone else's battle. But I replied, "I just don't want to and don't want to discuss it." She comes back with, "I don't understand why you wouldn't. Is there a reason why you're not signing up? There's no reason why you shouldn't." This time she refrained from yelling at me and left with a "fine." Good thing I got her out of the room in record time before I reached out and wrung her neck.

Anyways, it's time for me to pack up again. Going to Irvine tomorrow for a campus visit. The grad students there are taking us out for breakfast at Newport beach. Woohoo. I'm loving this VIP treatment from prospective schools. Somewhere in between I really need to be writing my damn thesis. Blog friends, sorry I haven't been commenting. I confess I've barely been reading but I'm dying to catch up once things settle down!

Chicago visit

Here, finally, are photos from our trip last week. I went to the APAGSO conference to present a paper while Simon made a visit to a datacenter. We managed to do some sightseeing and eating before and after I made the 3 hour trek down to Urbana-Champaign for the conference and campus visit. It was great to be able to walk to all the major sites in the city but it was hovering around -1 C plus windchill. You don't actually feel a lot of wind but trust me, something was making it feel a hell of a lot colder than -1. I had leggings on under my jeans and five layers of shirts on top. We had to buy touques (what the hell do you call those in American, wooly hats?) and mits and ear muffs. I think I'm definitely more of a west coast kinda gal.

Dinner our first night in Chicago at a Brazilian Churrascaria, i.e. all you can eat meat

Next morning I headed down to UI Urbana Champaign for the APAGSO Conference where it was "Unofficial St. Paddy's Day" AKA day that students go to classes drunk at 9am

After day 1 of the conference we went out for drinks in Urbana. Here's me with Dean, my panel respondent and fellow SF State grad student (Ethnic Studies) and Ryan on my left, University of Chicago (History)

The night I got back the first thing we did was grab some deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's

The crust is buttery and flaky like pie crust

This is Wells Street at night. We did a self guided midnight walking tour of the city in freezing temperatures. Good thing we found the South Loop Bar at the end of it for a drink.

Sunday was all about sight seeing. Here we are at Millennium Park checking out the kidney shaped reflective structures

Here I am at Millennium Park in front of the huge fountain that displays the faces of folks from Chicago. It's kinda creepy.

This is Michigan Avenue, the main drag. Architecture here is crazy!

And the only souvenir we brought back. It's a doormat in case you can't tell.



I'm writing this from Chicago O'Hare where my plane home is delayed 2 hours because it snowed today. It wasn't sticking but there was a good layer of slush on the ground and probably enough to mess up the flight schedules. The guy sitting across from me is reading Voltaire's Candide and is holding up the book to make sure everyone can see what he's reading. I dunno but if that doesn't scream of "I'm trying so hard to pick up chicks it hurts" then I'm not sure what does. Another guy sitting next to him saw the Canada patch on my backpack looked up and told us that he and his wife used to put Canada patches on all their luggage for international travel and it got them through airports a lot faster. I thought that was kinda funny.

I can't write too much more because I'm hogging the laptop but it was a good trip both through Chicago and Urbana-Champaign and I'll write more and post photos when I get home.