Archive for August, 2007

From Stephanie Zacharek, in today’s Salon column:

Lots of people are drawn to Hong Kong action movies for the action, and Lord knows that’s a big enough draw. But over the years I’ve gotten far more pleasure from the actors in Hong Kong films than I have from even the most gorgeously staged gunfights.

Does this give me permission to officially quit writing?


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Odds and Ends

The Odd:

Well, it’s not really “odd” – more interesting. When Google Books first hit the Internet, it seemed of limited usefulness. It helps if you’re thinking about buying a book, but beyond that it didn’t seem very helpful.

I discovered a few months later that it had some usefulness in academic translation work, particularly where passages that were originally in English were translated into (in my case) Japanese, and I had to find the original passage. Rather than trekking to the nearest academic library and hunting down the citation, Google Books made it possible – for books they have, at least – to just find a sentence or specialized term and look it up. The relevant quote almost always comes up this way.

But I’ve also discovered that it’s pretty helpful in finding stuff in books in general, particularly when that stuff isn’t indexed in the book itself. I’m trying to throw together a conference proposal, like, today, and I don’t really have time to immerse myself in the relevant literature; it’s got to be quick and dirty. At times like this, Google Books is actually very, very useful.

The End (involving TM toddler I):

Literally. MM’s always been a less-than-regular pooper; or, rather, she’s generally regular enough, but the time between poops is fairly substantial (several days). Awhile back she started loosening up a little, as it were, and I thought we might be out of the hard-and-absent poop woods, but this last week she went a full seven days without pooping.

I guess most people would consult a doctor at this point, but I’m really not anxious to go the medical route if we don’t have to, and it seemed like more of a pain issue than anything; she’d had a LOT of cheese and relatively little fluid (for her) this last week, and I think she’d just built up a nice big plug o’ poop that she didn’t want to know from. Understandably enough.

And there’s the ongoing confusion about the potty, which probably didn’t help.

And Mommy tends to radiate anxiety when things get a little off-kilter.

So, yesterday we decided to try a baby suppository – my very first experience with suppositories, to tell the truth. We got the glycerine liquid one (Babylax) and used that – and, you know, DAMN. They said on the box it would probably take 15 min. to an hour to work, but we, um, saw results in under three minutes. Said results involved a lot of distressed dancing around, but it did it’s job with a vengeance; we went through three diapers before the show was over. And, happily, the Dance of Distress only lasted as long as it took to get the poop plug out; everything after that was pretty normal.

Mommy’s declared an embargo on cheese for the week, though. And I’m pushing the fluids. I really don’t want to turn this into a vicious circle of not pooping, if I can at all avoid it.

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Still kickin’

Both metaphorically and literally: 2.0 is definitely making his little presence known more and more (although every time M. tries to get a feel, he typically goes all stealth on us.  As I recall, MM used to do this too, in the early days, until she decided she had enough room to move around and started migrating to an area just under my ribs, where she sat with her bony little butt just poking out).

So, still pregnant – always good at 22 weeks.  There’s never a good time for premature birth, but the second half of the second trimester is especially scary that way.  My BP is starting to creep up a little bit, but it’s still well within what would be considered “normal” for most people.  With MM, it didn’t start heading into the HBP range until about 27 weeks, so I’m hoping that this time will be the same.  In the meantime, he’s riding LOW – like, he kicks way down in my pelvis and just feels low and heavy – which kind of contributes to the difficulty M. is having feeling anything.  It’s hard to cop a feel when all the action seems to be behind bones.

Dissertation work is progressing, but you’d only be able to tell if you were familiar with my complete lack of work before.  Right now, I’m mostly trying to get myself into a schedule of some sort, involving working for an hour a day come hell or high water.  MM is old enough now that I can leave her to her own devices for an hour or so, and morning seems to be my best time of day, so this is possible in theory.  It would help if she would quit waking up at 5:30 every morning; she gets into bed with us (a bad precedent in of itself, but things will necessarily change once 2.0 is here), but I never really get back to sleep once she’s there.  Which makes me groggy in the morning…you get the idea.

But I do have a bit of a game plan for the chapter I’m working on, including some ways to revise a section that’s written but not very useful in the context of the chapter as a whole as it stands.

M. starts back to school next week.  I wish we had money enough for preschool – MM would love it (she’s absurdly gregarious and LOVES other kids), and it would buy me some time as well.  But, well, around here preschool is several thousand dollars that we just don’t have.

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Color me intrigued

Nick Jr. is starting a new show to teach Mandarin (ala Dora) in October.

This could either be very, very good, or very, very bad. I’ve been wanting a show like this for a very long time (Japanese would be nice, but my bizarre pseudo-Chinese upbringing makes this just as good – plus I know enough Mandarin to be able to push it a bit, should MM get interested), as have a lot of parents. I’m encouraged by the fact that there’s a Chinese-American woman at the helm, at least – it could go very bad at the level of ‘cultural information’, but that’s also where it could go very right.

I’ll definitely be watching.

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This was kinda cool…

So, I’m at our local Japanese grocery store this morning, picking up some seasoned seaweed for M. (“seasoned seaweed” sounds just terrible in English, but I can’t remember what this stuff is in Japanese. He loves it – no, he LOVES it; I’m a little indifferent, myself).

I notice that the store has really shrunk. In its heyday, it was a three-story place: the downstairs level had lots of videos and household stuff, the main middle level had groceries, and the upper level had, at one point, a cafe and later a karaoke place. The downstairs level is no longer used, and I don’t know if the karaoke place is still there or not; it’s been years since I went.

A reporter from the Washington Post was there doing interviews with customers as part of a piece on the difficulties small businesses are having in the face of changing demographics. In this case, not only are there fewer and fewer Japanese people relocating to this area, but the big Korean grocery stores have really taken over the market. The one closest to us – part of a chain in the area, and easily the best-kept one around here (El Grande, for anyone in the area – off of Backlick Rd.), stocks Japanese goods aplenty, and at predictably reasonable prices.

Anyway, the reporter was asking about this and talked with me for a few minutes – it was kind of cool. I mentioned that the reason I go out of my way occasionally to buy at the Japanese store is precisely because the Korean stores, while they carry Korean fresh food, don’t generally stock fresh Japanese stuff like the konbu thing Michael likes. I also noticed (and bought) the Japanese green peppers they had in stock – they’re small, thinner than US green peppers, and work better in Japanese dishes that call for piman than US ones. I told her I’d actually been thinking the same thing about the store as I drove there this morning; the fact of the matter is that with bigger networks and greater stocking capability, plus a much bigger customer base, the Korean groceries can give much better prices on Japanese goods than the Japanese stores here can.
I’d be sad if this place went out of business, but it wouldn’t not make sense…

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Just tired…

We’re in the middle of our visit from K., which is going well enough considering she’s 16 years old. She’s a sweet kid and demonstrates nothing short of infinite patience with MM, who’s adopted her as her New Very Best Friend. The first couple of days after she leaves could be a little dicey…

But, since she’s on a “diet,” she’s not eating much and mostly seems to want rice, miso soup, and – tonight – instant ramen. Which is fine in the general sense, but I feel a little like I’m falling down on the job here.

She’s also inadvertently come during the single hottest week of the entire freaking summer – and this after a relatively cool, temperate summer to date. Now we’re in the 90s, heat index in the 100s, and it all comes with a bazillion% humidity. So showing her around has been a little tricky, especially since I’m not really supposed to be overtaxing myself here. Again – feel like I’m just falling down on the job.

And MM has decided that she’s just too, too interested in K.’s comings and goings to sleep, so she’s been doing this 4:30 am thing that’s kicking my butt. And since I’m busy showing K. around, MM hasn’t been getting many of her usual naps, which screws everyone and everything up.

We had our ultrasound the other day – it went okay, but the placenta is a little too close to the cervix to completely let down our guard there (although I’m not too worried about that), and 2.0 was too small (although measuring to date) to get a good look at the heart, so I’m a little fretful about that.  I’ll probably wind up going back in in a week or so, depending on what they decide at my doctor’s appointment this week.  I would have preferred a more definitive ultrasound, but, then, with kids it’s never very cut-and-dried, is it??

And I got some feedback from a big ol’ piece of crap writing that I sent to my old dissertation support group back at my university that was – well, it was honest. The piece of writing I sent was pretty much cobbled together from stuff I’ve been playing with for awhile – I didn’t really make any effort to piece the stuff together in any coherent form, and the comments pretty much reflect that. I’ve been wanting to retire from the group for awhile now, since I’m neither participating like I should nor can I keep up with the writing demand like I should. I’ve broached the idea of withdrawing with the professor who runs the group…I’m really hoping that offense will not result. I tried to be as diplomatic as possible…

Other than that, well, we did have good news on the scooter fund front and we’re back in business there, and the work situation is still in flux. It did get interesting – in that Chinese proverb sense – there for awhile, but the pieces have yet to fall where they will so we don’t quite know what’s up yet.

I think it’s mostly sleep deprivation, but I’m feeling a little down this evening. I hope everyone else is doing better.

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