Archive for university

No more BSc for me!

Posted in Books with tags , , on November 5, 2009 by Cara Marie

I am very much enjoying being ‘on holiday’ (for a value of holiday that means very soon I will be working the Christmas retail rush). I don’t have to study! I can watch television in the evenings and not feel like I should be doing something else! I never have to think about rocks again if I don’t want to! It’s my choice.

I do have to finish making up my CV, and writing a letter about why I am special and ought to be welcoming in the publishing course. I’m thinking I should cut the parts ranting about how NZ publishers don’t appreciate sci-fi & fantasy. It shows I’m passionate?

Otherwise, since my last exam, I have been entertaining my niece, and making ice cream. I can report that my niece is tiring and charming, and that ice cream is delicious even if you eat it before it’s frozen properly. I’m also bemused to learn that ice cream isn’t so much frozen cream as frozen custard. I thought at first that custard was some sort of technical ice cream making word, because I think of custard as coming from powder, but no, actually custard. Fancy that.

I was going to write a review of BR Collin’s new book, A Trick of the Dark, but all I really have to say is that it gives my intense writerly envy. It’s a – psychological-fantasy thriller? Not as heart-breaking as her first book, but she is an amazing, gripping writer.

I’m not sure whether to be amused or depressed by the concerted effort gone to in the biography on the inside flap not to mention that she’s a woman. I read it on the internet, but really, isn’t every author who uses their initials these days a woman? Okay, not MT Anderson. But everyone else. I’ll just pretend some people don’t like their names. Must be it.

Tell me something new, please

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 12, 2009 by Cara Marie

Catching up on Shakesville, there’s a post up on climate change, and how the last time greenhouse gases were as high as they are today, there were no ice sheets. I read this and go, uh, duh? This is news? I mean, sure, people are always doing new research showing this sort of thing, but I’ve been looking at those curves my whole degree (only four years, but it feels like forever!). My 100 level Antarctica paper did a lab on it just the other week, so it’s even fresh in my mind.

Also made the mistake of reading a comment by a climate change skeptic, which of course rarks me up. Hello, the scientists actually studying climate change don’t know about sunspots and natural climate cycles? For god’s sake. And saying a 200-1000 year error in a core date is a big deal? We’re talking at least hundreds of thousands of years, people. And it’s generally harder to get an accurate date, than, say, a temperature estimate.

Here is something future climate change models don’t take into account, and it’s not any of those things people like to mention. It’s hurricanes. And yet, models for the huge warming event back in the Eocene don’t get up to the temperatures recorded then unless you model for hurricanes. Which doesn’t really suggest good things for us.

I should really just stay away from climate change discussions. There will always be someone there to piss me off.

At uni

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 11, 2009 by Cara Marie

OK, I have really got into this essay on Bauman’s work. Even if it is a higgledy-piggledy mess at the moment, it’s such juicy stuff, I am actually getting quite worked up. Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t procrastinate on it, but I know what I’m arguing now.

It is nice at the moment because even though it is only August, spring has sprung and we are having gorgeous sunny days, complete with epicly strong winds. The pink magnolias are out, but the white ones that are my favourites are still to come, and the daphne is all out and smelling gorgeous. I have adapted my usual walk up through the Gardens so that I can walk by as much of it as possible.

Flowers = more awesome than sitting inside working on an essay.

Bauman’s Gardens

Posted in Books, Non-fiction, Science fiction with tags , , on August 8, 2009 by Cara Marie

I have just finished reading Zygmunt Bauman’s Modernity and the Holocaust, which was pretty epic, in terms of the scope of the book and as a reading experience. I bought it after we read an excerpt for my religious studies class, because that excerpt had pretty much blown my mind. The ideas it deals with, of how society manipulates morality, I don’t think I’d ever really come across outside of science fiction.

So now I’m going to be writing an essay on this book – one of the suggested topics was to do a “critical appraisal”. I don’t really know what that entails, but I figure I’ll figure it out as I’m writing ;)

I have to try not to get distracted by the ways it applies to “my thesis”. Which is the imaginary English Lit PhD I am planning on false utopias in YA fiction. There are so many of them! There is one coming out by a NZ author next month, only a year after another NZ author did one! What does this say about our current society and its fears, hmm? Possibly I just find the proliferation annoying because it increases the number of works relevant to my thesis, and also means I need to update my database.

Bauman uses the metaphor of society as a garden a lot, something that gets designed, with the approved plants being support and shaped in particular ways, while ‘undesirables’ get weeded out. The books I am thinking of focus explicitly on the designed society – small scale, the survivors of some kind of apocalypse. Lois Lowry’s The Giver is probably the most well known (also the only one that I wouldn’t consider straight sci-fi), but Louise Lawrence’s Andra was my favourite as a girl. Spooky how their names are so similar.

Of course, these books are set in societies of not even a thousand people, so you don’t get millions of people who don’t fit into your ordered world and need to be ‘disposed of’. Urgh. Really, Modernity and the Holocaust was about the scariest reading experience I’ve had since I was eight. I wish I only had ways of applying it to science-fictional worlds and not our own – but then there would be no need for that particular sci-fi, would there?

Buddhism & Neon Genesis Evangelion

Posted in TV with tags , on March 30, 2009 by Cara Marie

I just read a chapter in Lopez’s Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra called ‘The Heart Sutra as Tantra’.  Except it doesn’t talk about that it at all; it just talks about the apparent difficulty of defining ‘tantra’.  For more than 20 pages.

I kept expecting there to be some pay-off, but there wasn’t.

…I may have to flag this essay topic.  Instead I’ll write an essay on Buddhist themes in Neon Genesis Evangelion.  I bought the 11th volume of the manga last week, and it occured to me whilst doing my Buddhism readings that it could be really interesting to explore.  After all, who better than Shinji to illustrate life is sufferingThe cause of suffering is attachment – well, Shinji thinks pretty much that in this volume.

Most interesting is that Shinji rejects the Intrumentality Project, rejects the Buddhist goals in favour of selfhood and human attachment.  That’s not really a spoiler because it’s so much a matter of interpretation – what I came away from the show with.  Which I admittedly watched six or seven years ago.

I am actually really tempted to email my lecturer and ask him if this is an acceptable essay topic.  I would totally be into it…

Scientists with babies – they’re out there.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 26, 2009 by Cara Marie

Looking through the Scientiae carnivals, this post at My Middle Years piqued my attention.

If I wanted a role model for women having families and doing science, I didn’t have to look hard at Vic. One of the postgrads who came along on our second year fieldtrip I found out had a toddler, who’d been born in her second year at uni. Which hadn’t stopped her from completing two degrees, one with honours, getting really good marks, and going on to do masters.

It didn’t stop her partner from going on to do masters either! (Obviously they had good support elsewhere.)

She had another baby at the end of last year – we actually had two pregnant women in the department, with one of our lecturers getting steadily rounder over the course of the trimester. It was really nice.

I met both the babies at the conference last year. My lecturer wasn’t actually attending, but the postgrad had her baby in tow most of the conference. Which I guess is probably easier when they’re only a few months old – her daughter was along one afternoon too, and I think toddlers are definitely more trouble :) I remember my religious studies lecturer last trimester had to bring her little daughter along for one of the classes, and she was a bit of a show stealer.

It’s nice to be reminded that your lecturers have families too, and it’s nice to know that OMGBABIES doesn’t have to end your scientific career. Particularly when you’re always being told that the reason there aren’t as many women scientists is that women have babies.

To which I always just want to say, “But men have babies too!”

I am actually thinking it would be really interesting to do an article on being a scientist father for the women’s issue of Salient… if I had the guts to actually do a feature. Because I know there are men in the department with kids whose partners aren’t also in the department! And I think it would be a nice counter-point to the whole parenting-as-a-women’s-issue thing*. Because it’s everybody’s issue.

It would of course depend on me having the guts to do a feature that actually involved interviewing people.

*And I have used the word nice way too many times in this entry. Which is keeping me up past bedtime. Night night.

Victoria University fails again

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 30, 2008 by Cara Marie

Last Friday, submissions closed on Victoria University’s proposal for the restructuring of the College of Education. It’s the day after that Vic’s Women’s Rights Officer discovers that, you know, aside from screwing over Education, this restructuring is also going to effectively get rid of Gender and Woman’s Studies.

Sneakily, of course. The proposal involves:

  • requiring a minimum of 16 students for 300 and honours level papers (because that’s such a realistic number for any honours course)
  • having GWS lecturers teach courses in Education (you know, that subject they’re not trained in)
  • moving GWS lectures up to the Karori campus (bye bye, interest papers)

Not that it makes much sense to have Gender and Women’s Studies aligned with Education in the first place. Why not the social sciences? God knows some of those anthropology lecturers could do with being exposed to gender studies.

I’ve never taken any GWS papers. I’m not even doing a BA. A department with only two full and one part-time staff member seems ridiculously tiny to me – and the fact they’re supervising 12 PhD students between them is quite impressive. This theme of Vic trying to cut humanities papers is no threat to me.

But what is university for, if not the study of the humanities? Universities weren’t invented to teach commerce. I believe having people studying gender is vital – we do not live in a postfeminist world, and gender matters. It would be quite depressing if the only Women’s Studies department left was in Hamilton.

And even more depressing if the Victoria University bureaucracy manages to disappear a thriving subject, without listening to what the students or the staff have to say.

There’s a protest being organised when the Academic Board meets next Thursday – 9am in the Hunter carpark, people! If you’re on Facebook, the GWS support group is here, and Georgina’s posted a good summary of the situation here.

I hate how essays loom over you

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 19, 2007 by Cara Marie

I am in a bad mood and just need to complain. You’ll have to excuse me.

I hate…

I have to do a presentation

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 28, 2006 by Cara Marie

Sometimes I forget how easy the writing of things is. I’m working on my earth sciences presentation (which is supposed to be a group project, but somehow I ended up with just one other person and the feeling I’m the one doing everything) which is on ways in which a family can reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. Now I’ve got around 580 words, and I’ve only covered transport. The talk’s only supposed to be ten minutes long, and I have the feeling I’ll be doing some cutting. Which is funny, because I thought before that I’d have trouble having enough to talk about. But part of that was how they mention using power point and things, and that immediately makes me freak out until I remember – hang on, slides aren’t the point. If what you’re saying is all on the screen, there’s no reason to even talk – so you have to know what you’re saying, and then the slides just sort of summarise that, provide the bones of it for people to copy down.

But I was still kind of annoyed and procrastinatory about the writing it bit, until I actually sit down and begin, after which it’s like, what the hell were you worried about? But that happens a lot. You’d think by now I would actually sort of realise that, but I’m still very good at stressing about projects. I just hate having it over my head too – I’m getting my hair cut on Tuesday, but I can’t even properly look forward to that, because Tuesday is also the day I’m doing the presentation!

Maybe I’ll just make Oliver actually present it, except I’ve got the feeling now that if you want a job done properly, you do it yourself, and I feel like I can do better all by myself. It’s like how my sister was saying that she doesn’t see herself as a leader, but in group projects she always finds herself taking charge – just because no-one else wants to do anything. Even though she’d rather work on her own. And I’d rather be working on my own too. Maybe I just don’t trust Oliver – and I wonder how he’d do if he were doing in by himself. But then my thoughts get rather bitchy, and I’d be better just to shut up.

So now I’ll go write the other three sections that still don’t even really cover everything. I think I just like the sound of my own words too much.

Working

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 9, 2006 by Cara Marie

I’m at work right now. Scanning things. You don’t actually have to do a lot when you’re scanning things, so to prevent my brain from popping, I’m updating this at the same time. Because, you know, I don’t very often.

So, what’s new and exciting in Cara-town? Well, I finally managed to get one of the fundraising chocolates. When you’re young enough that eftpos is free, who needs cash? Well, me. For chocolate, and dancing. Although I may skip the dancing tonight, being that I am sick. I can’t skip uni because I am sick, even though I only have two lectures. One of which is physics. Which is why I need the chocolate. You know the chocolate from the vending machines at uni is $1.70? That’s scandalous. My $2 chocolate is almost twice as much.

Also, I have a dilemma. The Actualities are playing the same night as the first meeting of the Games Club! Alas! I will be able to pop in at some point (to the games club – I’m afraid Tonya has priority) so that I can pay $5 membership and get 10% off at Arty Bees! I love how university makes books cheaper. We all know this is the only reason I went.

Last night, I went to Katipo to see Stephen-from-this-work’s band play. It was dreadfully exciting, although I did have the feeling that as a new uni student, I should’ve been out getting drunk or something. I did have a spider, and I felt like being under 18 practically makes me grown up. Interesting music is far more fun than drunkenness anyway. Very loud music. Filled with exciting noises. I wish I could make all those kinds of noises. Sadly, I cannot. But it made me think of the first line of a story I’ve had in my head, so I got to write 20 pages in my little notebook instead. I kept feeling like I was going to wake up to find I hadn’t written anything at all – like when you wake up in the morning and imagine you’re doing all these things, and then you actually wake up and it was all in your head.

I’ve just been told I can use the nice scanner. The quiet scanner. The one that makes me want to kill things less. However, I have to leave in a quarter hour anyway. For physics. So I won’t bother changing. And hey, someone has lollies.