What am I doing with a blog?

Awww…heck. I dunno.

holy crap holy crap holy crap holy crap November 15, 2007

Filed under: dorky,school — himbly @ 11:36 pm

It’s already mid-November


I has teh coldsweatz


yeah, ‘cept I really am… November 8, 2007

Filed under: school — himbly @ 11:16 pm

…an imposter.

On a recent evening, Columbia University held a well-attended workshop for young academics who feel like frauds.

Columbia, huh? Yeah…that’s where real students go. I wouldn’t even attempt to go to their fraud seminar for fear of getting the bum’s rush.

These were duly vetted, highly successful scholars who nonetheless live in creeping fear of being found out. Exposed. Sent packing.

“It’s like we have this trick scale,” says Valerie Young, a traveling expert on the syndrome who gave the workshop at Columbia. Here’s how that scale works: Self-doubt and negative feedback weigh heavily on the mind, but praise barely registers. You attribute your failures to a stable, inner core of ineptness. Meanwhile, you discount your successes as accidental or, worse, as just so many confidence jobs. Every positive is a false positive.

By many accounts, academics — graduate students, junior professors, and even some full professors — relate to this only a little less than they relate to eye strain.

It’s amazing how common feeling like a fraud is. The article goes on to say that roughly 70% of, well, everyone (men and women) have felt as though they were imposters at one point of their careers. Through personal experience, I suppose almost all the grad students I know have mentioned feeling inferior at some point or another, and the truth is that I’ve not paid that much attention to these comments because of my admiration for their work…and my inferiority to them. Heh.

According to Ms. Matthews, a person with impostor syndrome typically experiences a cycle of distress when faced with a new task: self-doubt, followed by perfectionism, then — sometimes but not always — procrastination.

But if it weren’t for my procrastination cycle, I wouldn’t post on my blog at all!

It is 10:15pm on the eve of my 35th birthday and I’m signing off. Himbly, queen of all that she fakes her way through.


More boobies…. October 10, 2007

Filed under: feminism,school — himbly @ 7:47 pm

Yeah. I bet most of you don’t get to go to work and see boobies that regularly. Some of you do, I’m sure, but most of you don’t. Ha! Now, how often has seening boobies been directly involved with doing a master’s thesis?? Double Ha!

Again…I got to see boobies at the lab. Oh! Ha! (again). I lied last time to protect the boobie lady…she breastfed while at the lab and just before I started the experiment. But that was long enough ago that I don’t even remember who it was anymore, so I’m sure I can come clean about that now.

Today I was in a similar situation where the baby was hungry. This time I got a bit of forewarning: “do you mind if I feed her before we start?”

Suddenly, my (male) collegue was nowhere to be found. haha.

“yeah…no problem”, I said, “do you want some privacy? I can close the door.”

“nah, you can leave the door open, I don’t care. You can stay and talk, too, unless you’re shy or something.”

That, friends, was the woman being kind enough to give me an out. Me, however…I interpreted it as a challenge so I kinda gulped and said, ‘uh, no…I’m fine’ and sat on the floor across from her (she was on the floor, too).

Actually, it wasn’t that uncomfortable at all. The mother was a very nice and calm woman, so it put me at ease. I have to admit something, though, that I realized only a little bit later. I TOTALLY stared.

I admit it. I stared at the lady with a baby latched onto her boob. I would like to go on here about the miracle of birth and the mother/child bond and the beauty of such an intimate moment, but the truth is that none of these things crossed my mind. This is what crossed my mind, though:

1- if you are in a room and a baby is in the room, too…it is very difficult not to look at the baby.

2- if you are in a room and an uncovered boob is in the room, too…it’s even more difficult not to look at the boob

3- if those two objects (the baby and the boob) were at opposite ends of the room, it would be a difficult choice as to what to look at and so you’d spend your time behaving as though you were watching tennis

4- if those two objects are in close proximity to each other…joined, even…you’re going to stare at the new object made of babies and boobies because, holy crap, how often do you see that 10:30 am?

So, I watched as the baby fed. Not to be completely without depth, I did think, ‘holy shit! we make food for kids!’ part way through, but then I kept talking to the woman and staring at her boob and baby. It was quite a cool moment. I think I might do the same the next time it happens to me.


update re: me October 9, 2007

Filed under: school — himbly @ 10:39 pm

good to be back. My computer is healthy and lovely and all is well except for burning cds and that’s a little irritating but I’m sure we can fix it. Maybe she’s like a pet who gets pissed when they’re away from you for awhile so she’s making me throw out once perfectly good cds. Bitch.

I didn’t mean that.

So, I came home today and goofed off. Then I napped (apparently goofing off was tiring). Woke up ready to start the work I need to do (there is lots of it) then realized that, though there’s lots to do…none of it is really all that pressing and I worked all weekend so back to goofing off.

Once I made that very informed decision, it was like all those objects associated with things I need to do decided to march on me like an army. Banners were waved saying, “yeah, but I need done ASAP so that my friend here can move forward…” and “don’t forget me…november is just around the corner”. I’m back to feeling guilty and we (my stuff) and I negotiated some blog time and then I’ll work.

Plus I’ll write it in “my list”…”my list” has, in conjunction with “my dayplanner” ruled my life.

So…what’s been up with me? Things have been going rather well. My work is moving forward reasonably well, the learning curve that I experienced when I started to TA this current course has evened out a bit (still steep, but I’m faking it better and feeling less guilty when I answer a question with ‘yeah, I’m not sure but I’ll check on that’). Money is short…in fact, when I found out how much less I’m making this semester, my breath was short, too. But, I’m not starving and it’s not like I”ve got a fast paced social life filled with fast cars, loose women and expensive nights out on the town.

Back to talking about my work. What prompted me to write this little update was something I read in facebook. A cousin of mine wrote something about counting down to the weekend…again. My first reaction was, ‘huh? It’s only Tuesday!’ but then I realized something. I remember one reason I got into this life and out of my old one was because I hated hated HATED the idea of living for my weekends. That I would only really appreciate 2/7ths of my life…because, also, not much was going on in my evenings that I could write home about.

I’ve just backspaced my way out of about 4 semi-paragraphs in an attempt to describe how I now feel about the things I do every day. Each one of those deleted passages was too sappy and embarrassing to recall here. Suffice to say that I no longer look for the weekends to redeem myself and allow me to do what I want to do. I’m doing what I want to do all the time now. It feels good.

Funny, though…as much as I would like to write about my research here I just can’t bring myself to do it.


sorry for lack of output & sorta youtube romp September 7, 2007

Filed under: misc,school,youtube — himbly @ 11:38 pm

Firstly, I’m addicted to this (thanks Jacqui)

Secondly, my computer has been deciding to shut off whenever it damn well pleases. This leaves me with limited time to do anything on it so it’ll be going to the mac hospital on monday to have itself sorted out.

Thirdly, school has sprung and my life got considerably busier quite suddenly. You oughta see my dayplanner…it hasn’t seen that much action for quite some time, I’ll tell you. It and I had to powder our noses.

I’ll combine this post with a couple more youtubes:

yes, that is Steven Colbert dancing and singing…

So, things are good but I have a lot on my mind which has put my blogging on the back burner for now (as tends to happen when my head is in a swirl). I can’t even remember what I said about it in my last post, so I’ll just leave it up to mystery…or not.

The other day I had someone change chairs away from me when I told them what I do. That was funny.

I’ll leave you with a clip from The Forbidden Zone…Danny Elfman’s brother Richard’s first film:


difficult summer September 4, 2007

Filed under: misc,school — himbly @ 6:51 pm

The truth is that this has been a difficult summer.

Looking back, I wish I had been more prepared and more determined to do well in the courses I took but, well, they weren’t really required or related to my field anyway. Still, the slight pangs of shame I feel every so often (once every few hours or so) have knocked my confidence down a few pegs so that I have honestly become shy about my PhD and where I’m going to apply. I feel lost with this PhD stuff…so much to consider. So much.

I considered today my first day of school and got to the lab early and did a good few hours of work. After coming home, a quick nap, some food and DVDs later, I’m back in the saddle and taking a break only to say hello to you, dear reader. I’ve been working through the summer and aside from those nasty courses, my research has been progressing. Nearly finished my first study (booking babies is my only obstacle) and starting on my second asap. That part feels pretty good, though I’ve had a terrible time concentrating on much else for the past few months and have almost wondered if I ought to see a doctor what with all the sleep I feel I need.

Right now, however, I’ve sat down to write my first draft of my first abstract to be submitted to my first conference. I wrote the first drafty title, I wrote my name and my advisor’s name under it, I wrote my department and my university….and….now what? Gad.

I think I’ll need some coffee for this. Wish me luck.


…but don’t call me late for dinner… July 6, 2007

Filed under: misc,school — himbly @ 9:42 pm

Call me a mama’s girl…call me lazy…call me Carrie (see photo)…
…call me whatever you want, but the fact is that I’ve moved too many times to not take advantage of not having to leave here and set up house in 24 hours. Yes, it’s been a week since my stuff got moved into my new place and yes, i’m still here…but at least I have a ~really~ clean kitchen and bathroom set up and ready to move in to tomorrow. Whatever…it was worth it.

Funny how it just doesn’t seem like my own place unless I’ve scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen top to bottom. It’s like a new beginning. It’s like saying to the apartment, ‘Apartment, that was old dirt. Now let me introduce you to my own special brand of disorganization and filth.’ So, as of tomorrow, I will be doing just that. I’ll be showing that new apartment how we do it in Himbly-town.

I probably, however, will not have the interwebs until Monday. Dang.

I tested another baby today…only my third, so it’s still pretty exciting. Watching a 6 month old from a monitor in a control room is funny. It’s very funny and cute. I can’t think of a better way to spend one’s thesis research, frankly. This one today puked all over his mom…twice. I love my research.

I’ve currently hit a small…well, crisis is the wrong word and so is snag, but those will have to do for now. I’ve hit a small something…where I have now realized that I don’t know a_bloody_thing about my research or the research leading up to it or linguistics as a whole for that matter. I spent two weekends ago at a workshop and met so many incredible people who are so effing smart that it snapped me back into my place so fast it made my head spin.

After about a day of moaning and clutching my belly…certain that I’ve made a terrible mistake and that I ought to start practicing answering phones…it hit me what I needed to do. Work harder. Well….I work hard, but I need to work more efficiently and on the right things. And read…I need to read like crazy and think…think like crazy. I need to ~be~ the baby. I need to get into their little heads and scoop out what I need. I need to know what I’m doing, how I’m gonna do it and why i’m doing it. I am entering a new phase. A more focused phase. And I’ve got to come out with questions.


Short, but excited, post June 15, 2007

Filed under: misc,school — himbly @ 10:37 pm

I tested my first two babies today!

However, the excitement of two babies + spanish skit + running back and forth between the lab and the ling office and going to classes all day has worn me out. I’m going to bed!


In Spanish class today… June 13, 2007

Filed under: misc,school — himbly @ 9:32 pm

A kid asked me today, “So…how did you know who The English Beat were?”

Thank you, Oil of Olay.


So, the day called and had good news and bad news June 12, 2007

Filed under: misc,school — himbly @ 9:44 pm

I’ve been working really really hard. My wordlist…the one that consists of 18 separate lists of fake English-sounding words…she is done. Well. I am (with good cause, as you will find out) hesitant to say I’m DONE (all caps)…but it sure looks that way. Today, after much much toil…much toil…I put my wordlist into the experiment software and ran into the testing booth and listen to my words in their grown up form.


It seems like yesterday when they were just an Excel spreadsheet. It ~was~ just yesterday that they were being edited and sworn at (I call it their ‘teen years’). And now they’re all growed up and playing in our testing booth ready for little ears to hear.

Honestly…although blase now for my labmates…it was really cool being in that room and hearing all those words I’ve worked so hard on.

ummm…it occurs to me that I maybe ought to explain why the hours and hours and hours of editing. My study consists of 6 lists of words. Each of these lists vary in the frequency of the onset in English – meaning that the beginning sound combination of each words (eg. for a word like play, the sound combination ‘pl’ is the onset. For a word like drive, ‘dr’ is the onset) varies in how regularly you can find it in English. I go from frequent (like ‘pr’ as in pray or prank) to less frequent (like ‘kl’ as in clap or clean) to not at all (like ‘tl’ or ‘dl’ which are not found at the beginnings of words in English…or ‘pt’ ‘bd’ which are not heard at the beginnings of words in English, but they are found at the end in words like ‘kept’ or ‘cubed’…or ‘tk’ ‘pg’ which aren’t heard as part of a ‘cluster‘ in English).

Now, since I had to record myself making these words and some of the onsets I required were not onsets I’ve ever made previous to this study, I was not articulatorily proficient enough to make ‘tl’ and ‘dl’ and ‘pk’ and ‘pg’ (etc) without inserting a schwa where it did not belong. Especially with the ones of the type ‘pg’ because I’ve never even heard them, let alone made them. They were so hard to edit because I don’t know what they’re supposed to sound like.

So, that’s what the editing was about. Making words that were not natural for me sound natural. That took hours…days…weeks. No kidding. It was the longest part of this whole exercise. So far…so far….

The words also needed to be edited for length (within 50ms), length of the space in between, noise…all sorts of stuff. These things had to be edited so that they would not bias the baby who was listening to them.

Okay…so…that’s what I’ve been doing. And since my advisor was encouraging me to get my ass in gear, I wanted it to be done done DONE. I was really really tired of editing. So…now it’s “done”…in quotes because it ain’t over until it’s over.

I have my first baby booked for friday, too. Yay!

So…as is customary to my people, I think I might be getting sick. Having finished the wordlist and put into the experiment software I finally got somethign done that I’ve been working very hard towards for, well, weeks and weeks but the past few days have been a real push and filled with stress.

Then…I got a call from C. He left a message saying that the autobody shop had contacted him (when we were together, he took control over the dealings when the car got backed into, which was much appreciated by a flustered me) and that they wanted more money (of course). Long story short, he’s going to help me pay for it…which is very very kind. Especially since it’s going to cost quite a bit.

I’m hoping now, after a long nap, that I won’t get sick after all.


Oh! Ohhhhh! April 27, 2007

Filed under: school — himbly @ 9:20 pm

I forgot to mention.

Another reason for that thumbs up pic…actually, the reason I did the thumbs up pic: I won a scholarship. Not a huge one, but a decent one and my crappy grades from my undergrad seem to have been somewhat diluted by my current awesome.

When I got the email, it told me I had until the 8th to accept or decline the scholarship. After I thought it over…ha! I called up the grad dept and asked them how I go about accepting. The woman was VERY kind and told me to “…log into peoplesoft [our student website for stuff like this]”. I was already there. Before she could tell me much more, I had found my way through the 2-3 easy links that would allow me to accept the dang thing. LIke, it was written out like “accept/decline dang thing” in front of me. The woman was SO very patient as I apologized for making her hold my hand through this tremendously easy process.

So…at least I know one person is wondering how the hell I did it.


I’m gonna make it after all March 29, 2007

Filed under: linguistics,school — himbly @ 8:37 pm


Update: I just completed my first request for ethics approval and it’s ready to send in tomorrow. Soon I will have paper that allows me to start experimentin’ on babies and turning them into a remote-control army with which I will take over Alaska.

Kidding, of course. Actually, these little angels are going to listen to fake words and tell me, though their eye-gaze, whether they like what they hear or not. I can’t wait!


where our heroine can’t shake a tail March 24, 2007

Filed under: school — himbly @ 9:05 am

I was just over at BitchPhd reading up on crazy students (crazy is my word, not hers or her commenters). Then I remembered that I have a story to tell, though I’ve been fearful of posting it (or any story of this nature) because, you know, what if ‘teh student’ reads it? So, I’ll try…I mean, no one who reads this is going to be able to pick said student out of a line-up, unless I told you in person while pointing to said student, but that makes maybe 2 of you, and one of you doesn’t read this blog.

So, I TA an introduction class…which is why I’m always bitching about marking. There is a student in this class and she is my age, so, no…for once i’m not being ‘age-ist’ here, because I often -admitedly- am. She’s having difficulties. Now, honestly, I am just a TA and I”m aware that there is such thing as learning disabilities so I try to accomidate for them by being patient and going over material as often as I need to in order to get the point across. I think her case is one of these…she clearly has a learning disability. But I’m not sure where the learning disability ends (since I’ve got friends and family with different sorts of learning disablities) and the stubborness starts. Again, when I’m with her…or anyone else for that matter…I do give them the benefit of the doubt and have extended or given extra office hours to those who’ve needed my help.

On campus, that is.

I think we all can agree that ‘off campus’ is me time. Actually, I happen to think that ‘out of my office’ is me time, too, but I sometimes let that slide.

In the middle of a pretty hectic day, about 3 weeks ago, I stopped to meet my father for lunch before I headed home to pound out an assignment before it was due the next day. We went to a restaurant along the c-train route on 7th Ave downtown. The important part of this is that I was downtown, ie. not on campus. We ate, hung out, joked and during part of this I told him about my TAing and how hectic things have been for this one class, in terms of helping students.

Then I saw her. There was something about the woman who had walked in and now talking to the hostess with her back to me that made me think, ‘that’s her’…she turned around and I waved. She came over.

“Hi”, I said.

“I’ve been looking for you!”, she said.

“Uh, what?”, and you can probably imagine the look on my face.

“OH, I didn’t know you were here…anyway…I need to see you on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I failed the assignment and I don’t know how I’ll do on the midterm. I’ll PAY you for the extra time!”

“uh, ummm…how about I email you back on that one? I’ll email you when I get home.”

“Okay. Well, I just didn’t do well on my assignment and…well….if you’ve got a minute….”…she started rifling through the papers she had in her folder/notepad that she was carrying. Christ!

I motioned over at my father and said, “uh. No. I’ll email you when I get home, okay?”

“oh…sorry. Okay. I’ll see you later”, and then she left the restaurant.

*ahem*…she left the restaurant.

Who walks in, talks to someone they ran into and leaves a restaurant? Especially when said person (the talkee) is no where near a window?

Now, honestly…I do not think that she was stalking me. If she was, she would probably have come in way earlier…Dad and I had been there for about 30 min or so. But what happened there? It is still a mystery…only because I’ve not had the guts to ask her yet.

She may work there and popped in to find out her hours. Her friend may work there and she may have popped in to say hi. She might have had lunch there, though I could have sworn she had just walked in. I don’t know.

Thinking back to the beginning of this post, I was thinking of other stuff she does when it comes to discussing her learning disabilities. But would it perhaps be the same effects of her learning disabilities that would make her think that it was appropriate to interupt a lunch with my father to go over her assignment? And, if she is my age, and is aware of her situation, and is in university, wouldn’t she take advantage of some sort of counseling that is quite steadily offered (and, I know, quite frequently used) at the uni? I mean, I don’t know the answers to these questions. I know that I can only help to a certain extent, but I’m not trained to help people with learning disabilities.

…and I know there was no way in this world that I was going to spend 3 extra hours a week to tutor one student.


marking, Part I March 23, 2007

Filed under: school — himbly @ 12:56 pm

I finished my first bout of grading for the class’ third assignment. Honestly, even when I was doing my undergrad, I never ever felt it acceptable to rip paper out of my coil notebook and write in pencil. I mean, I don’t even mind the writing in pencil…if it’s neat.

Also…who answers a question two ways (two ways that are not compatible with each other) and expects a correct mark? Who?

I am considering -when the prof gives me another tutorial to do- giving a short talk on how not to piss off the person marking your exam. I mean, why -why possibly?- would you make the person marking your exam hunt for the right answer? Why? I’ve got kids writing their answers all over the place. Christ.


okay, fine. I will. March 22, 2007

Filed under: linguistics,school — himbly @ 8:33 pm

Since I should be marking assignments right now and I’m trying to find anything on this great, green earth that will prevent me from doing so…I will. Skip this post if you don’t care about ling…or syntax.

It’s not me…it’s the Strongbow writing.

So…project number one: Syntax Term Paper.

Since I’m doing my thesis in child language acquisition, I am doing all my papers…whatever class they are in…in child language acquistion. Now, my thesis is in child phonology (sounds and such). So, when I’m in syntax, child acquisition of whatever is going to be pretty far from what my interests are.

Okay. So.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure, syntax is the study of sentence structure. Now, when I was an undergrad oh…so many moons ago…like a decades worth…I was taught Government and Binding Theory. This included a type of sentence tree that fell under what we called X-bar Theory. What was that like? Who cares, nevermind. Now, we have switched over to Minimalist Theory. Now..for you lefties out there…both of these theories (and the popular ones before it) were created by Noam Chomsky…he’s a busy man.

My opinions on Chomsky may be another post.

Ummm…I should go over Universal Grammar. Universal Grammar is the idea that language is innate. Not specific languages, mind you, and not degrees of those languages (ie. some people learn language better than others). No. Basically what UG tells us that there are parts of language in our brain already and all we need is the lexicon to figure out what’s going on. If that sounds crazy, I’ll have to admit a/ that I”m not doing the theory justice in a couple of sentences and b/ I don’t believe it anymore, anyway. But it’s what many linguists believe.

Now. Within G&B theory, there is a big thing called Binding Theory. That’s what the Binding part in G&B Theory is. Binding theory is all about pronouns and reflexives (like himself/herself) and goes a little like this. Reflexives (himself/herself) can only be a part of the sentence if they are ‘close’ to the thing it’s refering to and pronouns (he, she, it, him, her, etc) can’t be close to the thing that it’s refering to. Here: WikiBindingTheory. Actually, here….this is better.

Okay…so we have binding principles A, B, C…as shown in my second link. My paper is about how kids learn this. Now, if you believe in UG, which I don’t think I do, then it’s not really fun to read how each of these principles are something that we’re born with and know as soon as we figure out what he, she, it, himself, etc means. This is what a HUGE paper I’m reading says, though. That any errors that kids make in Principle B (that pronouns can’t be bound locally) is not an error of the syntax…it can’t be. It’s in their brain.

I say ‘bullshit’. It is not. And, turns out it doesn’t matter because with the dawn of Minimalism, Binding Theory has big troubles. Binding is no longer relevant. According to some people, and one of those ‘some people’ is a paper I presented today and, although I thought I understood what he was saying, I clearly didn’t. Hence my current Strongbow drinking.

So…what does this mean? This means that the people who thought that Binding Theory was something that we were born with will have troubles. It means that probably we were not born with three rules that told us where to put pronouns, reflexives, and r-expressions.


Okay, so basically…what I’m doing is looking at what people found kids do under the old theory, and then trying to see how it works under the new theory. “Someone, surely, has done that!”, you say. I say, this is linguistics. There’s only a handful of people who do anything at any time. So, no. As far as I”m aware, and my prof, no one has. I predict I”m going to find some troubles for those who were so closely bound to binding theory.

In other news, a friend of mine at school had his roommate’s pet rabbit hump his arm.