Saturday, September 24, 2011

FO Friday: Socks! Socks! Socks!

Pattern: Basic Sock Recipe
Yarn: Trekking XXL, color 801
Needle: US #1 and #2
Finished Size:  Fitted to my tiny feet!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WiP Wednesday: Socks, again!

I am thisclose to being finished with my overly cheerful socks, and have accordingly started a new pair. I'm using the exact same pattern as before. The yarn is Online Supersocke 100 Butterfly-Color in 1152.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Since I'm still doing a lot of driving these days between attending two schools, working, and volunteering, I've gotten back into audiobooks. It's nice to feel like I'm reading again, even though it takes me a lot longer to get through books that way. Currently, I am listening to David Sedaris' When You are Engulfed in Flames, but I finished Steinbeck's Cannery Row last week.

Believe it or not, this is the first Steinbeck novel I've ever read. I know reading Of Mice and Men or The Grapes of Wrath is a high school rite of passage for many, but for whatever reason, my tenth grade English teacher decided that the Honors section would read The Great Gatsby instead. Since I didn't take a lot of American literature courses in college, I never had the opportunity to read Steinbeck in a formal setting. I stumbled across Cannery Row in the audiobooks section a few weeks ago, and decided to give it a try when I saw that the recording was only around six hours long. 

Overall, I really liked it. The voice acting was very good (this is a critical thing: I have abandoned several audiobooks over that) and fun to listen to. The story wasn't half-bad, either. While I'm not generally a fan of Depression-era literature, Cannery Row was funny, interesting, and gritty, all without being plagued by the preachiness common to literature of that time. Steinbeck deftly creates a world and populates it with all kinds of unique characters, each of whom has his own clear voice. I'll probably read more of his work in the future.

5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Hexapuffs

In an effort to blog a little more, I'm going to devote Saturdays to an ongoing knitting project of mine: the beekeeper's quilt. It's a good project for me, as most of the things I knit are made out of sock yarn, and I never seem to use 100% of the skein. This is especially true when I make socks. I have very small feet, after all. Since I've been knitting for five years now, I've accumulated a pretty impressive quantity of sock yarn leftovers. I'm looking forward to using them all up and getting them out of the stash box(es).

I bought the pattern back in August, but between starting grad school, learning Spanish, and the breakup from hell, I haven't had a lot of time to work on it. So far, I have completed eight hexapuffs, but, as you can see, I have enough yarn for many more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book Review: A Mercy by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is one of my all-time favorite authors, so much so that I wrote my undergraduate thesis on her novels. A Mercy is her most recent work, and while I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend it, I'm not sure what to say about it. Even though I finished it over a week ago, I'm still processing it. This is unusual for me, but for the time being, I'll roll with it.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So close.

I am thisclose to being 100% caught up on school and homework and everything else I need to be working on.

I have tomorrow off, and that should give me enough time to get everything that's due this week squared away, and make a decent start on all the stuff that's due next week, too. After that, I'll have a set routine. Sundays are reading days, Monday and Tuesday are class days, and the rest of the days are work days (but my working hours are way less insane-- yay no more eleven hour shifts!).

I can't wait until next semester, when my classes will be in Asheville. Two hour's commute + 6-8 hours of classes = EXHAUSTED ALL THE TIME.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Crazy week, fun weekend?

This week, I survived the following:

  • Getting up at 7 am every morning to go to Spanish class
  • Except for Monday, when I did the tourist thing with my mom and stepdad
  • One day of grad school classes
  • A Spanish Quiz
  • My first Spanish test
  • A 14-page paper in which I analyzed readings about racism and wrote about a Madea movie my cousin made me watch last weekend
  • My final week (and shift) of waiting tables-- EVER!
  • Banging out a cited introduction to what will likely become a giant-ass public policy paper
  • Starting a new scarf
  • Beginning the reading for the next 14-page paper that is due on Wednesday
  • Giving considerable thought to the 5-page paper that is due on Tuesday
  • Purchasing a dress (and lipstick!) to wear to my cousin's wedding today
I'm hoping that once I switch back to my old job and get caught up on my schoolwork, I'll be in a better place to write more here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up and Self-Care

One of the things that they've really been hammering into our heads at school is the importance of self-care. We're only two weeks in, and already all of the professors have at least mentioned it, with one devoting an entire lecture to the subject. The idea is simple: you can't help other people effectively if you're not taking care of yourself. Letting yourself become too involved with your cases, taking your work home with you, and not utilizing some form of an appropriate support system (be it talking to co-workers or supervisors or going to therapy) has the potential to wreck both your personal and your professional life. According to the professor, inadequate self-care and insulation between one's private life and one's job is a major cause of the burnout that plagues social work and related professions, so learning appropriate coping mechanisms early on is really important.

I believe it. In the short amount of time I've worked with foster kids (since February), I've witnessed a number of truly screwed up situations firsthand, and I'm only in court once every couple of months, if that. Afterwards, I sometimes find myself wondering about what's going to happen to the people I see while I'm waiting for my hearing. It's easy to see where the work can really get under the skin of social workers at DSS, who have to see that stuff day after day after day. I've also known a couple of individuals who qualify as cautionary tales-- they got sucked into the "Well, I'm doing better than my clients, so I'm okay" trap, and the personal and professional repercussions they've experienced as a result have been pretty unfortunate, and not anything I'd care to experience for myself.

This, of course, is all easier said than done. When you're a giant perfectionist who has work to do, it's hard to do frivolous things without feeling guilty and/or internally panicking about all the crap you should be working on. For example, I spent Friday and Saturday nights hanging out with my cousins and Sunday and Monday with my mom and my stepdad. Very little homework happened, and while I have a solid block of time today in which to work on it (the person who is driving the carpool needs to get to school early) and I'm off all day tomorrow, I still had a hard time not thinking about all the reading and research and outlining I needed to do, not to mention a half dozen e-mails I probably should have written and sent last week.

I think this will get a bit easier once I finish working out my notice (four more days!) at my current job and go back to my previous job, which makes far fewer demands on my time, energy, and mental health. I also won't be working on Sundays anymore, so I'll be able to do much of my homework then and still have some relaxation time to myself. Next semester, when I start my first internship, will undoubtedly be trickier.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Oh, gadgetry.

So, I finally broke down and got a tablet last weekend. I'd been meaning to get one for a while, but kept putting it off because I didn't know which one to get. I was also having a difficult time justifying it because I already own a netbook, an e-reader, and a smartphone.

That, however, changed when I started school and discovered that all of my professors were putting a large quantity of the course reading materials online via Blackboard. While they were .pdf files that could theoretically be uploaded onto my nook, they didn't render right when I attempted it. Copies of copies of scanned in books do not look right in e-ink, even if you use a e-reader-friendly file format like .pdf. I wasn't really a fan of simply printing the readings, either. The printer here at the house is an inkjet, so the black bars on the borders of the pages (from the scanning process) would use ink, not to mention all the paper I'd go through. Using kinko's or the school's printers would be expensive (especially over the course of four semesters) and, in my opinion, wasteful. So, I decided to buy a tablet.

I wound up getting an ASUS eee pad transformer. I decided to skip the optional base (since I already have a netbook) and just got the tablet and a protective cover for it. So far, I'm really liking it. I downloaded adobe reader so I could load up my course readings, and used the MyLibrary app to organize them. Reading them is a breeze since you can use the pinch and pull feature to quickly resize text, and the ability to flip pages with your fingers rather than pushing buttons is pretty awesome. My only quibble is that it can take a few seconds for the screen to render and sharpen, but it's not enough of an issue to warrant me not using it. For future semesters, I intend on buying as many books as I can in e-reader formatting and using the kindle or nook apps to read them.

As far as regular, non-academic use goes, I like the eee pad's functionality. Since it runs on the Android OS, which I already use on my smartphone, I had an easy time getting it set up. Since the app market is synced with my google account, all I had to do was press a few buttons and enter my google login information to get all of my apps on the eee pad, including preferences. While the eee pad apps are generally identical to the phone apps, it is nice to be able to read my twitter feed (and other text-heavy apps) without killing my eyes. Also a plus: the full-sized web browser. No more crappy mobile sites!

I'm still getting used to the weird, pop-up keyboard thing, though.