quadruplify: Amon (from the Legend of Korra) speaking at an Equalist protest, fist raised in the air ([LoK] Amon - revolution)
So because it's been so long since my last entry, and since so much has happened between then and now, I'm splitting this update into three posts. This first one is going to be about work-related stuff.

••• The autism nonprofit where I work has been putting together an employment pilot program over the past few months now. What this program will do is train autistic adults with little to no work history in mid-level jobs, with the ultimate goal of getting them competitive employment in a workplace where disabled and non-disabled people work together. In that way it's sort of based off of places like Roses For Autism, the Walgreens distribution centers, and Specialisterne, which give autistic adults more fulfilling jobs where they can actually use their skills, instead of the kinds of menial entry-level jobs they get "stuck" in by adult day centers and state vocational rehab agencies (like BRS, who I've talked about before). Right now the pilot project has hired a data analytics firm that specializes in patent research to train three people to be research assistants; I really don't know much else as to what's been going on, but from what little I've heard it's doing fairly well, despite the mistakes and mismanagement you'd expect when a big thing like this is just starting out.

I was supposed to be a part of this program; I even had an interview last December with the president of our board of directors, who's also the lead principal of the headhunter agency that's coordinating this program with us (and whose office is just upstairs from ours). And I've heard absolutely nothing since then. XPPP Which makes me a little peeved, because even though patent research doesn't sound like a field I want to get into, I could really use something where I can gain job skills and experience, and make more money than I have been right now. I did get a chance to talk to her last week, though, and she said that not only does the training take longer than she thought (six months instead of three), but they can only train two people at any given time, and it might be a few more months before they find a place for me in the project. Obviously I don't like not knowing when I'll be starting, but in reality it doesn't bother me at all because, as you'll soon see, I've been busy with lots of other things. ^_^;

In the meantime, the project needs grant money in order for it to actually work, and I was told to research facts and statistics about adults with autism and employment so they'd be that much more likely to receive an award. And, well.....I should probably just leave the results of that research here, because I think it just says it all. I kinda figured the job situation for autistic adults was bad -- it is for people of all kinds of disabilities, after all -- but I didn't realize it was this bad. Like, there are some estimates out there saying the unemployment rate for autistic adults is 90%? WTF?! Many of them are perfectly capable of holding down good jobs, and in some cases their autism gives them skills and advantages over neurotypical people; all they need, in essence, is some support and accommodations, but employers too often treat them as if they don't even exist. >_< I could go on, especially about how full inclusion is good for both the employee and the employer, but I think the outline I linked above should help explain that. What really gets me, though, is how little this is being talked about right now -- sure, there are a few articles about it here and there, and NBC Dateline did do a report on autistic adults the weekend before last [autoplay], but with 50,000 autistic kids turning 18 in the U.S. each year (and with this number likely to increase as ASD diagnoses do), this is going to become a serious social policy problem before long. But not as many people care because it's not as charismatic or controversial as, say, rape on college campuses or police brutality against black people. >_>;

(Unfortunately, I've gathered that we haven't gotten much grant money thus far, and it seems that the bill in the state legislature that would help fund our program is stuck in limbo. I just really hope our luck changes soon enough. =_=;)

••• While I was doing research for the pilot program, I came across something in San Francisco called the "Autism Job Club." It's a group of autistic adults who are unemployed or underemployed, who meet once a month to go over things like networking, interview skills, how to dress appropriately, how to get along with coworkers, etc., as well as share job leads and moral support. From what I can tell, sometimes they also bring in guest speakers, employers, and headhunters who are looking to hire adults with autism, or who need a little convincing that it would be a good idea. I found this to be really intriguing, especially since I couldn't think of anything quite like it near where I live. I mean, I go to a support group for young men on the autism spectrum once a month, but it's very informal and deals with a wide range of topics, not just jobs; and between adult day services, vocational rehab, and projects like the ones I mentioned earlier, there are many programs out there to help get people employed. But something that functions as both a support and a networking group, where people are there specifically to talk about employment, which they can't attain despite it being probably the most important way to help them? Something that could be really helpful to lots of people? Nope, nothing.

So I thought to myself, well, what if I helped start one?

Fast forward to last Friday afternoon, and I'm at the Yale Child Study Center meeting with both this woman, who just started a program for young women with autism that would train and then place them in various jobs, and the director of student services at the UConn Law School, who is also a co-director for a consulting firm that helps autistic students be successful in college. They were really interested to hear my idea, and we bounced ideas off each other to see how well a "job club" like this would work. Long story short, I'm going to spearhead this project, the two people I met last week will be providing me with names and e-mail address so I can put together a mailing list, and the first meeting will likely be within the next couple of months, at the absolute latest.

Guys. You guys. I have never done anything like this before. I wouldn't have minded if I helped start something like this, but I didn't think I'd end up being, you know.....in charge or anything. O_o; Still, I'm very excited about all this! This has the potential to turn into something really big, with multiple groups throughout the state or even a foray into activism. But of course, things like this have to start small and slow in the beginning, and it all depends on the needs of the people who actually show up. Oh man, I just really hope this turns out well; after all, this has the potential of helping lots of people (including myself! XD) who otherwise wouldn't get it. Wish me luck! :D

(BTW, the guy who wrote the article I linked to above co-wrote a book called The Autism Job Club: The Neurodiverse Workforce in the New Normal of Employment, which came out just last month. I read it last week and I highly recommend it! It's a great introduction into the issues autistic adults face when it comes to employment, and even if you're not autistic yourself, it still has a lot of intriguing [if depressing] information about the changing nature of employment in the U.S. in general -- namely, how a single, full-time job is becoming a thing of the past, and how most young people today will have to work multiple, short-term jobs throughout their "career.")

••• As far as the BRS stuff goes, I finally managed to do a work evaluation! That's the good news. The bad news is that it didn't go as well as I hoped.

I worked at the Meigs Point Nature Center in Madison, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for the last three weeks in February, for a total of 40 hours. The job coach and I spent the first week learning about the animals that live there and how to take care of them -- feeding them, cleaning their cages, etc. It was actually quite interesting working with them, and by the end I was way more comfortable handling the snakes, but after it was all said and done I realized it wasn't something I wanted to spend my life doing. (I kinda already knew that beforehand, but it was nice to know with absolute certainty. ^_^;) Most of the rest of the time was spent on my main project, which involved the educational programs they put together for school groups, kids' birthday parties, etc. There have a variety of "scripts" the people who work there use when they give their presentations, with talking points about the animals (or the habitats they live in) and how to demonstrate certain things to the kids; my job was to turn these scripts into outline form so it'd be easier for volunteers to learn, and to flesh them out with information we'd gather from the Internet.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it was, but it wasn't without problems. Editing the "scripts" was one of those projects they'd been meaning to do for a long time now, but because there are only two paid employees there and they had their hands full actually running the place, it kept getting put off. Not that it was a big priority in the first place, if you think about it. And the director, who was otherwise very nice and helpful to us, wasn't clear at all about what it was exactly he wanted us to do or how to do it, which made me suspect he didn't know and couldn't be bothered to figure it out. After all, he had places to go and TV appearances to make, and he was so laid-back and scatterbrained that it wasn't unusual for him to go a week or more without returning my job coach's phone calls. Not to mention the Internet connection at the place sucked, and the only other computer in the building we were allowed to use had no Internet access at all, so I had to go to my job coach's house nearby for a day to work. Eventually we figured something out, but I was still immensely frustrated with the experience. It felt like I was just doing busy work rather than anything meaningful. Between that and the not-fun of working with the animals, it really soured me on having any sort of job at a nature center in general.

And that wasn't even the worst part of it all.

The Sunday after my first week there ended (the 15th), there was a big snowstorm that forced the center to close, and since they're normally closed on Mondays they were closed the next day too. That Sunday, a window in the main room blew out, causing the snow, wind, and cold to get inside and move tables, knock things over, etc. A pipe on the main floor also burst, which meant there was a little bit of flooding too. It wasn't until the director came in that Tuesday morning that anyone knew how bad things got.

24 animals died. 30 if you include the fish.

So not only did the director and his assistant have to deal with the fallout -- you could tell they were deeply affected by it because they had come to develop an affinity for those animals, and I can only imagine the responsibility they felt toward them -- but they also had to clean up as quickly as they could and pretend nothing ever happened. Most of the animals that died were rescues and rehabs with backstories, such as their unofficial mascot, a 46-year-old box turtle named Merlin who was hit by a car two decades ago. It certainly explains some of the director's scatterbrained-ness, at least, so I don't want to be too hard on the guy.

But the more I think of it, the more I think he acted somewhat irresponsibly by not doing enough to prevent it from happening. If you run a place where animals who can't fend for themselves live, and you need to close it down due to a snowstorm, the very least you could do is have someone check in on them regularly to see if they're okay, or prevent more animals from getting hurt or killed in case of an accident. Hell, at the animal shelter near me, sometimes people will volunteer to be snowed in so that they can keep the pets safe. Or have the windows wired to an alarm in case they break, not just the doors, even if you have a tight budget. If part of the purpose of a nature center is to protect wild animals, you should, you know, protect them. >:[

Oh well. I did get to see wild harbor seals for the first time, though, and I got paid minimum wage for my time, so it wasn't a complete wash.

••• I still look for other jobs now and again, and I've managed to get a side gig! Last November I applied for a work-from-home research assistant position at a place in New York called Outcast Films, which distributes documentaries to the educational market, with an emphasis on connecting audiences directly with filmmakers. When I didn't hear back from them at first, I thought the job had already been filled or they didn't think I was qualified enough, because that's usually what happens when you don't get a reply to your application. But a month later, out of the blue the executive director e-mailed me, saying she got my application and was reviewing it. After another month without hearing back from her, I e-mailed a follow-up -- I really did want this job because it seemed right up my alley, I could use the extra money, and it wasn't as if anyone told me no, right? XD I waited yet another month before the ED replied back.

Two phone interviews and a Skype call later, and she wants to hire me! All I'm waiting on is the contract I'll need to sign to make it official, although my parents want me to see an attorney to look it over before I do. The ED has been very busy; the company started off as a distributor of LGBT films until the Internet made it easier for filmmakers to distribute their work directly to their audiences, so lately they've been doing some restructuring to stay in business. Plus, they're working on acquiring two more films, and the ED wants to acquire six films within the next six months. Once they get some new documentaries, my job will be to look for teachers, professors, libraries, etc. that might be interested in screening them. I'd also be writing one-page outlines called SWOTs, which stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities (Where would be the best places to screen this move? Who should we market this to?), and Trends/Threats (How "hot" is this topic? What competition does this film have?); I've already done one, which the ED was actually quite impressed with. :D

Once I start getting some work, I'd be working about five hours a week on an independent contractor basis, making $15/hour, and if I enjoy the job and the ED sees what I'm capable of, it might go up to 20 hours per week. She's really looking for someone who'll "grow with the company" because it's extremely small right now; I don't know how well I'd fit that expectation since I'm looking to get more work at my current job, but there's not much I can do about that right now except wait and see. I really hope it goes well. ^_^;

••• I've had a couple of other interviews as well; some of them were for this place in New Haven called Next Step Living, which conducts assessments of people's homes to see how they can become more eco-friendly and cheaper to maintain, and then sells solar panels, windows, HVAC systems, and anything else that would help with that. I really liked their business model, and I got excited because they were the first to reply to my application. But then I realized I had applied to, well.....sales jobs. As in working on commission, long work weeks, weird hours, traveling long distances, and risking getting doors slammed in my face after showing up on people's doorsteps unannounced. Nope, I am not cut out to sell my soul for that line of work. I still had two phone interviews and one in-person interview because, hey, I could use the practice, but I was okay when they told me I was passed up for the job.

I also had a Skype interview for an internship at a place in Massachusetts called the Dare Institute, which does a lot of psychological research, especially involving autism. And that went somewhat.....bizarre, actually.

My interview was with the founder and co-director -- if by "interview" you mean him rambling off-topic, dropping names and concepts I had never heard of left and right, and me hardly getting a word in edgewise. My job would've been to help market what they called a "developmental task sequence" to autism schools and centers around the country, and then collect the data from those who use it to see how well it works, and if it can be used to detect autism in infants and toddlers. It sounded vaguely interest, and I admit the prospect of having my name attached to a published academic paper was tempting, but the guy had a lot of opinions that were stuck in the 1960s:

  • He's spent so much of his long career working with autistic kids with severe symptoms and serious behavior issues, that I can't help but think it's colored his idea of what autism actually is. I don't doubt that consciously he knows autism is a spectrum disorder (meaning it manifests differently in everyone who has it), but anytime he mentioned autism, in the same breath he would talk about headbanging, violent behavior, criminal activity, etc. It's almost as if he felt a person severely impacted with autism automatically meant they were extremely unstable time bombs with very low IQs. Some fit that profile, but many don't.

  • He thinks the term "developmentally disabled" is too "politically correct" and thinks "retarded," "slow," or "developmentally challenged" are more accurate descriptions. According to him, people with DD don't develop any differently than "normal" people, just slower than average, and it's ~~~very important~~~ to make sure they catch up. Because it's not like it's discriminatory to assume there's more than one "right" way for a person to develop or anything.

  • Worst of all, he has a lot of connections with people who work at the Judge Rotenberg Center, and has done a lot of work in conjunction with them. For those of you who don't know, the JRC is a school in Massachusetts that treats students with emotional issues and DDs like autism; they're one of the few schools in the U.S. that use aversives to condition students to stop behaving in certain ways, and the only one that uses electric shocks on a person's skin as a form of punishment. Yes, "treatments" like this are still being practiced in 2015, and many disability advocates have tried for years to shut it down. Dr. Commons, however, thinks that skin shocks are more humane and ethical than medication, because medication can have severe side effects. Never mind, of course, that using skin shocks will likely give the student PTSD, and in order to treat that they'll probably have to take medication anyway. Then again, he's a very strict behaviorist a la B.F. Skinner, and applied behavior analysis as a treatment for autism is fraught with many, many problems.


After all this, I wouldn't have taken the internship anyway, but the fact that a.) it was unpaid, and b.) it would require me to actually be in Cambridge while doing it, made my decision a hell of a lot easier.

••• Last but not least, since autism has come up so much in this entry, and because April is Autism Awareness Month (or Autism Acceptance Month, depending on who you talk to), I figured I might end this by sharing three articles about autism that I hope you'll find interesting:

President Obama’s World Autism Awareness Day Proclamation Is Right On
Autism Awareness Month – Autism is More than Autism Speaks and Temple Grandin
PayPal founder thinks people with Asperger’s have an advantage

And congratulations to all of you who made it this far. I told you I had a lot going on! XD
quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)
Update!! :D

••• Every year on the last weekend in March my workplace holds a regional conference on autism, and this year I got to go. The center's executive director encouraged me to go because I didn't go last year and she thought some of the talks and workshops would be relevant to me. My dad went with me that Friday and my mom the following day, and while both of them had to pay to get in, I didn't since I work at ASRC.

Under a cut because this gets long... )

••• I had to go for jury duty last month, and...I actually had to serve on a jury. Read more... )

••• I might have to get my teeth straightened again in the near future, and I really don't want to. Read more... )

••• On the BRS front (which I talked about in my last entry): I met with my vocational counselor a couple of times since then; the past two times it was with a contact/job coach from a job agency I selected that works with BRS in helping find places for ASD people to get work evaluations and more permanent jobs. Read more... )

••• A couple of weekends ago I met up with K. again, and we both had a great time! Since the both of us like sushi, I had us go to Don Asian Cuisine, a place in town that opened up not that long ago; I heard of them because they replaced a Chinese restaurant my parents used to get takeout from, and I read good reviews about them on Yelp. The sushi was extremely good; I had the California, salmon cucumber, and shrimp tempura rolls, and they were all as delicious as I hoped they would! XD Then we went to Redscroll Records in Wallingford, because K. had never been there and she'd never set foot in a record store in three years. We both bought a few things (I finally scored a CD copy of My Bloody Valentine's mbv), and then we hung out in the parking lot for a while. We were talking about all kinds of stuff for a looooooooooong time -- I met her around 2:30 PM, and we parted ways around 8. Yeah. O_o; We promised to be in touch with each other more often, so time will tell if that works out, but obviously I hope it does. ^_^;

••• Good news on the fandom front: Durarara!! is finally getting it's second season! XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD \o/

Bad news: Community got cancelled. =_=; That really sucks, especially since the last season was actually very good. I kinda figured it was going to happen eventually, just not now. But while it would be cool to have that sixth season and a movie, I'll leave that for the more hardcore fans to fight. It bummed me out, but now I think I've been able to let go. :P

*****

Other than that, everything else has been going relatively well, even though I've really haven't been myself this past weekend (both the UCSB shooting and my grandmother getting worringly sick was a little too much for me). The job is still going very well, my psoriasis hasn't come back (I'm only going to phototherapy only once a week now, and I'm down to 10mg of soriatane a day! :D), my sleep schedule has improved (this weekend notwithstanding), the weather has gotten a helluva lot better....yeah, not bad, not bad. How's everyone else been doing?
quadruplify: ([LoK] Amon - mask)
So...stuff's been happening. On the minus side, seeing my dad's mother for the first time since she was admitted to the nursing home a couple of weeks ago -- rail thin, in a wheelchair, easily confused, hardly talking -- was rough. Cut for somewhat depressing details :( )

On the plus side, though, my birthday yesterday went well (I got two new shirts and an iTunes gift card, and we went out to eat -- it obviously wasn't much, but I don't need a lot of stuff and I don't like making a big deal of my birthday anyway), my psoriasis is slowly clearing up again, Dan Harmon is coming back to Community (which I honestly didn't see coming at all, but OMG YES SO EXCITED!!!!!!!! because now I can totally look forward to season 5 XDDDDDDDDDDDD), and overall my mood has been ever-so-slightly better than it has been. I was really disappointed with The National's new album Trouble Will Find Me -- I tried to like it, but all the songs sound pretty much the same, it seemed as if the band ended up refining their sound so much they sucked all the soul and life out of it, there's no lyrics that stand out or any other hooks to grab the listener's attention like all their other albums, and it's just plain boring -- but I've enjoyed the latest from Boards of Canada, Tomorrow's Harvest, a hell of a lot more, so that offsets the disappointment at least. ^_^;

Also, [livejournal.com profile] edge_chan was interviewed by a big art supply website (exciting!), and even though I don't collect vinyl LPs and hardly care for collecting them at all (unlike some music fans), this ultramarine-colored LP of Young Galaxy's latest album (which is also really good, BTW!) is so cool and I want one. *grabby hands*

[livejournal.com profile] kattidya, I got your birthday card in the mail a couple of days ago. Thank you very much!! :D

All right, on to the links, since they've piled up yet again and it'd be nice for my browser to work faster again:

POLITICS
--Does the NSA really need to spy on us?
--The tangled web of empire (more on the recent NSA spying controversy)
--Who Is Afraid of Big Brother? (a somewhat reasoned defense of PRISM)
--Why the NSA Needs Your Phone Calls
--Washington Is Trapped in Its Own Prism of Data-Mining Self-Defense
--Of Course Apple Avoids Billions in Taxes -- And It Should
--Connecticut Boy Scouts Chapter Defects, Welcomes Gay Members to Serve Openly (this includes adults, unlike the BSA's recent decision -- plus this was the council I was a part of when I was younger, so YAY!!!!!)
--The Impossibility of Being Barack Obama
--How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America
--Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting For Public Opinion to Turn Against Obama (this was published before the NSA scandal broke, but IMHO the article's central thesis is still relevant)
--Here's Why the Government Went Ballistic Over the AP Leak
--The EMPire Strikes Back (on why the "threat" of electromagnetic pulse is practically nonexistent)
--Top 10 warning signs of 'liberal imperialism'
--Fear Factor (a defense of drone strikes in foreign countries)

SCIENCE
--We've Found the Molecule That Causes Itchiness
--The effect that explains why you regret posting in anger
--You Didn't Have Any Lions to Run From, So You Clicked on This
--Butterflies remember a mountain that hasn't existed for millennia
--We're Only Beginning to Understand How Our Brains Make Maps
--5 Reasons Cold Fusion Is Bunk
--Study: Science Can Change the Sexual Orientations of Mice
--No need to eat like a caveman -- just eat your damn veggies!
--Giant fluorescent pink slugs found on mountain
--Amnesia and the Self That Remains When Memory Is Lost
--How many people really went through with the Milgram Experiment?

ENVIRONMENT
--So this is where all our greenhouse gases come from
--How Antarctica Would Look Completely Naked

SPACE/ASTRONOMY
--Can Space Tourism Save Earth?
--Could we find alien civilizations using infrared light?
--When it comes to exoplanets, science fiction lags way behind science
--How will space colonists access the Internet on Mars?
--Opportunity Finds More Hints of Mars Habitability

TECHNOLOGY
--The Video Game Helmet That Can Hack Your Brain (on the growth of brain-computer interfaces and its potential consequences)
--Gorgeous Floating Buildings Around the World

EDUCATION
--An Open Letter to Science Students and Science Teachers (on how much needs to be done to improve science education in the U.S.)
--The 12 Most Controversial Facts in Mathematics, and its sequel 9 More Super-Controversial Math Facts That People Refuse to Believe Are True

SOCIETY
--Masturbation Is at the Root of the Culture Wars (Hugo Schwyzer generally isn't someone worth listening to when it comes to feminist issues, but this is a good article nonetheless)
--If You Think Like an Imposter, You'll Be an Imposter (good advice for everyone to read)
--"You are all going to die": Joss Whedon's Wesleyan commencement speech (on making peace with contradictions, and the need to look at "both sides" of everything)
--When Men Experience Sexism (on finding a middle ground between militant feminists and MRAs)
--The Questions People Get Asked About Their Race
--Charles Ramsey and the Racial Language Barrier
--What Should I Do With My Life?
--Advice For College Grads From Two Sociologists
--What About the Guys Who Do Fit the 'Gay Stereotype'?
--Why Suicide Has Become an Epidemic -- and What We Can Do to Help
--Survivorship Bias (on the pitfalls of ignoring stories of failure)
--Sex After Dementia
--Why Is It So Hard to Understand What's Wrong With Rape Jokes?
--"The wonderful and frightening thing about Tumblr and Twitter..."
--On Horse Racing, "Break Downs," and Our Humanity
--Optimism Is Not Insane

GEOGRAPHY
--22 Maps That Show The Deepest Linguistic Conflicts in America

MEDIA
--Elementary Demonstrates the Right Way to Update a Classic Hero
--The Problem With Celebrating Straight Actors in Gay Roles
--New York PBS station criticizes reality TV with fake subway ads
--The Government Can't Stop Our Heterosexual Love: YA Dystopia From a Gay Perspective
--6 Ways to Survive an 'Internet Drubbing'
--You Won't Finish This Article (no, that's not a challenge)

ART/CREATIVITY
--Belgian Man Made His Own Samurai Armor (and it's very impressive!)
--Short film "Captain T&T": Boy tries to become a superhero in the violence of Trinidad and Tobago
--Sweet Mother of Assassin's Creed III... (I know zilch about this franchise and fandom, but I'd totally wear something like that too :D)
--"So Dark": A short film that proves even noble vampires can be horrifying


quadruplify: Julian Minci (from Legend of the Galactic Heroes) sticking his tongue out in disgust ([LoGH] Julian - yuck)
--SimCity 5's Multiplayer Blues  (I ended up having a lot more feelings about the new SimCity than I expected. I loved playing SimCity 3000 back when it was a thing, and part of the appeal was that I DIDN'T have to work and cooperate with others to play the game; I could build a city on my own, with whatever vision I liked. I'd be interested in playing this new version, but the offline DIY ethos of the previous games was what made it interesting, so it'll take a while getting used to.

Plus, part of the reason why I've spent most of my life NOT playing video game [or Second Life, for that matter] is because of the interacting with complete strangers that tends to happen. I'm extremely shy and self-conscious, and it's hard enough for me to talk to new people in other contexts as it is -- and people can be REALLY immature when playing video games, which makes me uncomfortable. IDK, I'd much rather start playing with people I already know if I have to.

And then there's the fact that you have to be online in order to play it, which I don't like at all. Considering we've lost Internet access for days on end before, I'd like to be able to play games to pass the time in a situation like that, and with something like SimCity 5 it wouldn't be possible. That is,
if I could play it in the first place without EA fucking it up. Seriously, I think we all know by now how disastrous the rollout this week has been. :PPP)

--Neither Pro-Life Nor Pro-Choice Can Solve the Selective Abortion Crisis
--8 things the U.S. election system could learn from Mexico's
--Mars mission poses greater risk to human life than NASA would allow
--Soon they'll be able to 3D-print you a hybrid car
--Our brains, and how they're not as simple as we think
--No, Our Solar System Is NOT a "Vortex"  (debunking myths made by a popular viral video)
--A Supermassive Ice Age May Have Led to Complex Life on Earth
--Why U.S. Politicians Think Americans Are So Conservative When They're Not  (and yet I still see way too many Tea Partiers on Facebook :/)
--Are popular scientists becoming modern day preachers?
--Astronauts Traveling to Mars Could Be Protected By a Poop Shield
--The Mixed Results of Male Authors Writing Female Characters
--The Benefits of Optimism Are Real
--One of the best places to search for alien life is the last that you'd expect
--"South African Violence" Only Explains the Pistorius Case If He's Not Guilty
--Invasive species? This sushi chef rolls with it  (this is a profile of the sushi restaurant K. and I went to last summer)
--The Birth of a Planet, Observed From Earth
--We Aren't the World   (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- on how culture shapes our fundamental beliefs, perception, and ways of thinking more than anyone could have expected, and how dangerous it is that science ignores this fact)
--Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships?

And because I haven't done one of these in a while, a meme:

So I took a 'What Harry Potter character are you?' test. Does anyone familiar with the series think this is right? )


quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
--Tiny new (?) spider species creates large spider puppets to scare away predators
--24 places that look not normal, but are actually real  (I believe I shared some of these on Tumblr before, but I've never seen some of these before, and here they are, all in one place ~_^)
--AP Credit Will No Longer Be Accepted at Dartmouth  (I really don't know how I feel about this; on one hand, I get where they're coming from after reading this article and realizing it lined up really nicely with my experiences with AP classes in high school, but on the other hand, the issue is a lot more complicated, as the comments to this article prove. The only benefits I got from AP at college was that I was able to skip one of my required classes for my major, and I started off with 5 credits so I could take 3 classes some semesters instead of the usual 4. I really didn't feel like my AP classes prepared me that much for college at all, but a part of me is still glad I took them.)
--Glowing full moon credenza  (I'd like something like this too, even though it must be ridiculously expensive :PPP)
--How Forks Gave Us Overbites and Pots Saved the Toothless
--How Facebook affects your memory
--10 false facts most people think are true
--How Game Theory Explains Washington's Horrible Gridlock
--Kendrick Lamar's Forever War  (on hip-hop and the myth of "noble violence")
--The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots
--Why You Can't Cry in Space
--Violence and Mental Illness in Middletown, Connecticut
--Amateur Astronomers Discover 42 Alien Planets
--Dr. Carin Bondar's "Wild Sex"  (NSFW obviously)
--Should science fiction and fantasy do more than entertain?
--Anonymous and encouraging message posted in university restroom
--Antarctica takes out its frustration on the children of the 1%  (I'm only sharing this for the comments, which [strangely enough] are far better than the article)


quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)
CURRENT FAVORITES:
Bat For Lashes, "Marilyn"
Fuck Buttons, "Rough Steez"
Sky Ferreira, "Everything Is Embarrassing"
Yeasayer, "Fingers Never Bleed"
Yeasayer, "No Bones"

••• So, the trip to Vermont a little over a week ago went extremely well! We stayed at the Waybury Inn in a nicely decorated "rustic" room (I wish I took pictures of the place because I think some of you would've liked it), and had an excellent breakfast all three mornings we were there. We arrived Friday evening; I was feeling tired and a bit sick, we noticed the fall foliage was already past peak, and the weather was cold and raw (it even snowed at one point, though it didn't stick), but we managed to make the most of it. Dinner at Two Brothers was delicious as always, and afterward my mom wanted to see what was up with the Middlebury Art Walk -- an event once a month where stores stay open later on a Friday night and local businesses promote artists from the area -- so we walked around the center of town for a while. It turned out that there really wasn't much to see, though we did finally get around to visiting Otter Creek Used Books, the other "big" bookstore in town; it was anther one of those places that was filled to the brim with books, but it was loosely organized and you had to take the time to dig through tons of books to find anything that looked interesting.

More [including video and a picture] under the cut... )

••• Other than that, not much else has been going on. I finally got around to starting Richard O'Connor's Understanding Depression, which I got for Christmas after[personal profile] mmouse15 rec'd it to me, and I've been finding it very helpful; I even found parts of it connected a lot to parts of the Dalai Lama's talk regarding mindfulness and thinking of happiness as a skill rather than an emotion. Otherwise, ever since the trip to Vermont I've fallen back into the rut I've been in for the past few weeks now (partly because I was pretty wiped after doing so much). With my psoriasis trying to come back and the days getting shorter and colder as it is, all I've been doing is refreshing Tumblr/Twitter/LJ every five seconds, watching trash TV, and sleeping in. It's not as bad as it once was, and I certainly don't feel as guilty about my well-being right now, but it's still frustrating. Maybe I might actually do NaNoWriMo this year? I do feel more up to it than I was last year, so we'll have to wait and see. ^_^;



quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
CURRENT FAVORITES:
The Glitch Mob, "Animus Vox"
Dirty Three, "Moon on the Land"
Dirty Three, "Rain Song"
Miike Snow, "Vase"
Retribution Gospel Choir, "The Stone (Revolution!)"
Shearwater, "Star of the Age"

Hope everyone had a great Easter/Passover! Our Easter weekend was pretty laid-back and not all that eventful; this afternoon we went to my aunt and uncle's house for Easter dinner, which included kielbasa, meat pie, babka bread, artichoke casserole, and a few other things (they also served deep-fried turkey and sweet potato casserole, but I didn't have those). My aunt and uncle also had a couple of their friends over; it's a bit rough whenever these friends come to their events because I'm supposed to act like I care about them even though I never see them anywhere else and I wouldn't hang out with them willingly, but things went pretty smoothly today. We also went to my dad's mom's house this evening to keep her company for a little bit, like we usually do whenever there's a holiday around. And on Friday my parents and I had dinner at Dusitra, the local Thai restaurant. Definitely one of the best meals I've had in a long time. The previous times we've been there, the food was okay but nothing to write home about; however, because the restaurant is under new management now, we decided to try it out again, and this time we certainly didn't regret it.

Nothing else all that interesting has been going on lately, so here's another quick linkdump:

--Fan-made Legend of Korra merchandise (YESPLZ 8DDDDDDDDDDDDDDD)

More under the cut... )



quadruplify: Gay pride parade participant, dressed as astronaut, holding sign that reads: "Gay Astronaut Association Members: 1" ([Other] LGBTQ+ - gay astronaut)
I need to go to bed somewhat early tonight, so I'll try to keep this short:

--Now that I've been off Tumblr for a while now, I've started to work my way through the backlog of movies I've been meaning to see for the longest time now. I don't have time to review each one, so I'll just list them:

Movies that were great:
Movies that sucked tremendously:

Guilty pleasures:
If you want me to explain why I classified these movies the way I did, feel free to ask me in the comments.

--I've slowly started taking steps to take on more independence and responsibility and deal with my depression in more proactive ways; I've been driving on a more regular basis, I've been doing my own laundry, and on Sunday I cooked my own dinner. Spinach linguini with cooked bell peppers, celery, and scallions, to be exact. I still needed some guidance, of course, and I charred the vegetables a little bit, but other than that it came out perfectly. XD Obviously many people already do these things on a regular basis and take them for granted, but these are little victories I need to relish however I can. ^_^;

I've also been going to different places in the area we haven't been to before; the weekend before last my dad and I went to Books & Co., a small used bookstore in Hamden, and we were very impressed by it! Sadly, there aren't a lot of indie bookstores in our area, so it was good to find one by chance and support it however we could. Most of the books there are mainstream/literary fiction, and they also sell greeting cards and jewelry made by local artists. Oh yeah, all the books they sell are half off list price, so if you want a good deal....8D I couldn't resist buying a few books while I was there (Assia Djebar's Children of the New World, Yukio Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn, and Ntozake Shange's Betsy Brown), and they served a great chai latte at their café too.

And last weekend we checked out Redscroll Records in Wallingford, which also turned out to be pretty great. It's a small store that focuses on alternative/metal/hardcore/punk (they even sell zines there, which isn't too surprising to me since I know there are people out there who still make them, but still), and lots of vinyl if you're into that sort of thing (my dad ended up finding records he hadn't seen for 30-40 years), but there is something for just about everyone there. (Hey [personal profile] two_grey_rooms, it's better than Cutler's, trust me. XD) I ended up buying Soundtracks by Can and the Zol! EP from BLK JKS, as well as two used DVDs -- The Fall and Fargo, the latter of which I rewatched recently and was just as awesome as I remembered it to be.

--So the first two episodes of The Legend of Korra came out this weekend. And it was AMAZING. And AWESOME. And all those other adjectives I like to overuse when I really, really enjoy something. XD No spoilers, but this GIF just about sums it up:



Ugh why do we have to wait another month for the new episodes to come out D:

Seriously though, if you haven't seen this already, you should, even if you aren't familiar with A:tLA or its fandom. If you missed it when it was online this weekend, leave me a comment and I'll see what I can do. ;-)

(BTW, glad to see Community is back on the air too! Wasn't too impressed with last week's episode, but here's hoping this week's will be better.)

--Some links that I think might be of interest to some of you:
--And finally, a meme I ganked from [livejournal.com profile] iron_valkyrie:

Which kind of bender are you? )


quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
I got a Christmas card from [livejournal.com profile] misskalloway the other day, so thank you very much for that! :D

Speaking of Christmas cards, I plan on sending them out on Monday, or Tuesday at the very latest. It's definitely cutting it close, and for those who asked for one, you'll most likely receive them late (especially if you live outside the U.S.), but they will be coming soon, I promise. ;-)

Also, since the first holiday love meme I linked to in my last post filled up, here's part 2, if you haven't gotten a chance to comment on it and want to. Thanks for those of you who have already!

The past couple of weeks I've been working at my mom's workplace as a paper-pusher again; it's as extremely boring as it usually is, but I've been making a decent amount of money that should keep me going for a little bit. Hopefully in 2012 I can get a more stable job, but that'd require me actually making the effort to look. :P Ah well, I think I'll ride out the next couple of weeks and then start putting myself out there after the first of the year. That should work out, no?

Anyway, before I forget I should tell you about this anti-Islamophobia campaign a friend of mine from college has started. It's called "Say Salaam," and it involves people making videos of themselves saying the Arabic greeting "as-salaam alaikum" ("peace be with you") as an expression of solidarity against stereotypes, hate crimes, bullying, and hate against Islam in general. It's a campaign that's very much in the vein of It Gets Better, and while it has its problems much like IGB does, I honestly think it has the potential to become something big (and I'm not just saying this because someone I know is spearheading it XD). Here's the video he posted to kick things off, and you can find more info at [tumblr.com profile] saysalaam. Even if you can't make a video yourself, please spread the word!  I'd love to see this take off.  ^_^;

And after reading it on-and-off for five months, I finally got around to finishing The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle -- it had some really interesting and powerful parts, but all in all it was really, really open-ended, and in a not-all-that-compelling way either.  Good, but not one of Murakami's best.  I've also started on Adam Haslett's Union Atlantic; I've been enjoying it quite a bit, even though it's rather simplistic and maybe a bit clichéd, especially compared to something like Wind-Up.  I'm going to reserve judgment until I finish it, though.

I've also taken a break from reading Homestuck -- probably permanently, from the way things look.  :(  Maybe because I was reading it on-and-off too, but by the time I hit the beginning of Act 5 I pretty much lost my ability to care about what was going on. I mean, I get why it's so popular, it just doesn't seem to be doing anything to me, y'know?  Unless I still haven't gotten to the "good part" yet or whatever.  :/

And then there was all those Legend of Korra leaks a couple of weekends ago.  Yeah, old news is old at this point, but whatever, I'm still excited.  8D

Other than the fact that I've been trying to be more active on Plurk recently ([plurk.com profile] democracies , for those who are interested), that's really about all the notable stuff that's happened with me recently.  Which still isn't much, sadly, but hopefully that'll change with the new year.  I'll leave y'all with some songs I've been obsessed with lately, since I haven't done that in a while:

Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know"
The National, "I Need My Girl"  (new songs from The National?  YESPLZ :DDDDDDDDDDDD)
The National, "Rylan"
Sleigh Bells, "Rill Rill"
Tindersticks, "Medicine"
Lana Del Rey, "Born to Die"
Moby, "Extreme Ways"
Friends, "I'm His Girl"  (a.k.a. the current guilty pleasure)

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
First of all, a quick reminder for those of you who didn't catch it the first time: If you'd like a Christmas/holiday card from me, go here. Feel free to ask for one even if we haven't talked a lot. ;-)

Anyway, I figure I might as well finally get around to answering these questions:

- Comment with "Hit me!" or whatever else you want to comment with.
- I'll respond by asking you five questions.
- Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
- Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people (if you want).


Responses to questions from hairspray, kalaryx, and neonstilettos under the cut... )

And here's another meme from [livejournal.com profile] hairspray, because I can't resist:



quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
First off, a warm welcome to [livejournal.com profile] archy_the_roach!  Glad to meet you, and if you have any questions about me don't be afraid to ask!  ;-)

Second, thank you so, so much for all the comments you left on the "You Are Beautiful" meme a few days ago.  You guys are absolutely wonderful, and I can't thank you enough for being so awesome.  ^_^;

Third, I've started using Tumblr again recently, and it's been a major time suck, as usual.  XDDDDDDDDDDDDDD  I'm sarcasmisdead over there, so please feel free to add me if you haven't already!

And fourth -- I'M DONE WITH COLLEGE!!!!!!!!!!

I wish I could be more excited, but I'm too tired to feel much excitement right now, mostly because my sleep schedule is once again out of whack -- I had been going to bed at 5 AM some nights, and last night I didn't get any sleep at all.  :PPP  The big reason was that I was working on my Japanese lit final paper all last week.  As in, the one that was due last Monday but I handed in on Saturday, almost a week late.  -_-;  After finishing my take-home exam for Politics of Virtual Realities (which I did hand in on time), I was so utterly burned out, and I so didn't want to do the other paper, that I just......lost all motivation to do it.  And the allergies and general low mood didn't help matters either.

But......it's done.  I put a lot of work into both papers, so I think they came out well regardless.  And considering I didn't study all that much for my African Politics exam on Friday, I think I did pretty well on that too.  :D

It feels weird that it's actually over, that I actually don't have any more schoolwork left to do and I'm going to be graduating on Sunday -- it feels utterly surreal, after college has been a big part of my life for the past four years.  Well, I do have a lot of ~feelings~ about the whole thing, but I think I'll write about that in separate entries later this week.

Anyway, this week is Senior Week, which means a lot of events are going on.  But unless I absolutely have to be there (like the ES department reception, the senior class photo, and of course, commencement), I don't really plan on going to most of these events; not a lot of them look all that interesting, and I don't have the energy to be all that social anyway.

Besides, I've been doing a lot of stuff over the past week or so anyway.  I've been kinda splurging in town lately; I've been going out for tea and eating out quite a bit lately, especially having dinner at American Flatbread on Saturday night (which was seriously one of the best meals I've ever had IN MY LIFE.  *_____*  Seriously, if there's an AF near you, GO THERE -- you won't be disappointed!), and buying yet more books (Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter, if you're curious).  I've also been running around doing all the errands I need to do before leaving town, like getting a haircut, closing my checking account, and picking up my sertraline prescription (I'm back up at 150mg now).  So as you could probably guess, I'm near flat broke right now.  :P  That's all right, though, I can survive a few more days.  ~_^

Other than meeting with my first-year seminar professor for the last time this afternoon, that's about it as far as things going on in my life are concerned.  This is really just a post to let everyone know that no, I'm not dead, just busy and worn out.  ^_^;  How is everyone else doing?

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
1. So I've just been made one of the new maintainers for [livejournal.com profile] durarara, which is very exciting! Even though I'm a total lurker and not exactly the most active guy in the fandom. (OH GOD WHAT THE HELL DID I GET MYSELF INTO DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD:) Anyway, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or if there are any not-so-funny shenanigans I don't already know about, feel free to PM me, e-mail me (mecteol@gmail.com), or leave a comment in my latest public entry on this journal. I do try to keep tabs on everything as much as possible, so I'll definitely try to respond ASAP. (And while we're at it, here are the rules in case you need a refresher.)

Between that and [livejournal.com profile] drrr_bigbang seriously tempting me, I just might get more involved in the fandom after all. I still haven't finished rewatching the series, and I haven't yet gotten a chance to look at episodes 12.5 and 25 and the light novels, so I should probably get on that when I have the chance.

2. All right, RL update! This past Friday was the Spring Student Symposium, where students talk about the independent work they've done this past year, whether it's thesis work, senior essays, or anything else they've been researching on their own time. It's very cool because you get to talk to your friends about all the interesting stuff they've done, all in a pretty relaxed atmosphere. Some of the presentations I went to included ones on post-apocalyptic fiction, why the Taliban have gotten stronger in Afghanistan over the past few years, factors that affect how long insurgencies last, a sociological analysis of a campus celebrity, Jerry Springer, prospects for Korean reunification, honor killings in Turkey, the English-only movement in the U.S. and why it's completely and utterly stupid, how hard it is to translate fiction, attitudes toward beach littering in Chile, and ecopsychology. If some of them sound boring, trust me, they weren't -- the kinds of larger themes people talked about were fascinating, and I learned a ton. A perfect event for eggheads like me. XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

(Oh, and there was an impromptu Improv Everywhere-style dance-off in the main area of the science building during the reception at the end of the day. And it was pretty fucking awesome, if I do say so myself! ^_^;)

3. Before I forget, I'd like to mention HELA, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to help Afghan women, primarily through building schools, developing other education programs for women, and building and maintaining wells, among other things. What's really good about this group is that they work with the Afghan government and existing structures and systems in order to make sure these projects can stick around for the long term (something I know [livejournal.com profile] mcollinknight can appreciate). The president of HELA is a senior at my college originally from Afghanistan, and she's also the executive director of the Afghan Youth Initiative. Here's some more info about her, and here's an interview she did on NBC's Today show back in September. Please spread the word; this is a great cause that more people should know about!

4. Last Friday I also went to Playing at War, a one-man play put on by a senior Theatre/History double-major about British theatre -- especially plays put on by British soldiers -- during the American Revolution. The student played William Dunlap, a playwright who wrote the first history of American theatre in 1832; he was also a British Loyalist who wasn't a big fan of Washington and his ilk, and it showed. (Like how he mentioned how the Sons of Liberty wanted to ban theatre because it was a "foreign influence" and "un-American," even to the point of burning one down in New York City after it was known that the controversial Stamp Act had been repealed. Nevermind that the theatre had an important role to play for the people living in the colonies at the time. Sound familiar?) It was a fascinating alternate look at history, especially something that's often ignored, and it was interesting to hear about the British military's appreciation of theatre, which is something you wouldn't expect. I definitely don't regret going. (Especially since I got in for free! :B)

5. I finally got around to finishing Kafka on the Shore, and it was EXCELLENT. I had been meaning to read that one for a while now, and I'm glad I did! Highly recommended. ;-)

6. Has anyone seen the first episode of A Game of Thrones yet? It's gotten a lot of hype lately, but I'm wondering what people thought of it if they saw it, or if they've read the books. I won't have a lot of time in the next few days, so I'm wondering if it's worth it.

Well, that's about it for me right now. How is everyone else doing?
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
So I'm sick again.  Wheeeee.  -_-

It's just another headcold, and it started Thursday night, but like most colds I get, this one has really bowled me over, and for the past few days I've been trying hard not to do anything, popping vitamins and cough drops like my life depended on it, being supremely pissed off about being sick, and trying to stay away from people as much as possible so I don't cough on them (not that that's hard to do for me anyway).

This is the worst week to get sick, though -- I have two papers due on Friday, and another due a week from tomorrow.  They're all around the 5-7 page range, so it's not too terrible, but trying to write papers I have no interest in writing while feeling like I'm about to keel over really isn't something I can deal with right now.  :PPP  What does help is that I've canceled my radio show tomorrow morning, one of my Wednesday classes have been canceled, and I don't really plan on going to any of the events this week that sound interesting, which gives me more time to rest and work.  What would really help is if we all got extensions on these papers, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.  :(

I also have two screenings for two of my classes going on at the same time tomorrow night -- which is also at the same time Andrea Gibson will be performing in town, who I really want to see.  At first I was really bummed about not being able to go, but I realized recently that by giving the "oh I have to go to the other screening I have that night!" excuse to both of my professors, I might just be able to get away with it.  One of them I have to see before Wednesday (a relatively short one on former DRC dictator Mobutu), and the other one, The Social Network, I can put off for a bit, so......yeah.  My one social event this week.  ^_^;  (And for those of you not familiar with Gibson's work, here are a couple of examples: "Stay" || "I Do")

There is some good news, though: one of my professors is going to be on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Wednesday!!  :D  She's my Politics of Virtual Realities prof, and she'll be on the show to promote her book One Nation Under Contract, about the outsourcing of jobs typically performed by the government and military to private contractors, and what implications that trend has.  People who've known me long enough may know that I'm not a TDS/Jon Stewart fan at all, but I'll definitely be watching.

And one of my other professors has published a very funny op-ed to the Washington Post today, another one is a well-known and distinguished translator, and the other one is a bit abrasive but otherwise very charismatic and really intelligent.  How I managed to get such awesome professors this time around, I don't know.  XD

Other than that, not much has been going on.  Had an interesting debate with some people at the QSH Thursday night on ways to make the college's queer organization more inclusive, and Climatology Nerd made a surprise visit this weekend!  It's awesome to see him again; right now he's applying for a really competitive teaching fellowship in New York City this summer, and I hope he gets it!

That's about it, I suppose.  Now I'll have to go back to being sick, trying to do work, and other fun stuff.  >_>  Though I'll leave y'all with this little bit of I Can't Believe Something Like This Exists™.  (And why did Harry Belafonte agree to take part?)  O_o;

So.......

Feb. 12th, 2011 12:22 am
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
.........how 'bout dem Egyptians?

Guys, this is all really, really, REALLY exciting stuff, it's just.......OMG I don't have the words. Seriously. XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD I've been rather excited ever since I heard the news of Mubarak's resignation, and right now I'm just really proud of the protesters for toppling their oppressive government peacefully after 18 days! I was beginning to suspect Mubarak would hold on to power until September or beyond that, or that he would really dig in and start killing protesters on a wide scale, but thankfully that didn't happen. And now that the military is in control for now, I hope the protesters will hold them accountable so that a true democracy can be formed like they've been fighting for. Anyway, here's a quick linkdump since I haven't done one in a while, and since a lot of these sum up my feelings about today:

[livejournal.com profile] ontd_political has their latest liveblog/party post here; there are plenty of snarky and hilarious comments originally from Twitter posted by [livejournal.com profile] akuma_river which are really well-worth reading. (And in case you're curious, here's the liveblog before the latest one, with links to good sources and previous liveblogs.)

More links under the cut... )

********************************************************************************************

..........I just finished my first week of the last semester of classes. I'm going to hold judgment about the classes right now, but I will say a few things about them:

* I think I'm really going to enjoy my African Politics class; the professor is pretty funny and engaging (and from Madagascar), it doesn't look like there will be heavy amounts of work, and right now we're reading Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost, which is absolutely AMAZING -- yeah, it's about Belgium's colonization of the Congo and all the oppression and exploitation and evil that came from that, but it's a really good read that I've had a hard time putting down.

* Social Movements will probably be the toughest class for me this semester; the two big things we have to do for that are 1) involvement in an organizing project outside of college, and 2) a 5,000-word paper (that's about 16-17 double-spaced pages). The paper is already stressing me out -- I mean, it's doable, but it's still one of the longer ones I've had to do, and that's going to be a pain in the ass to write (though not as much as last year's 25-page monstrosity). Plus, the class only meets once a week on Wednesday nights, which is bad because I have three classes before that during the day, so by the time this class starts I'm already pretty drained. I really think it's going to be a great class, mind, and I have high hopes for it (not least of which because Bill McKibben is teaching it), but I'm beginning to have my doubts. One of the things we're going to be doing all semester is reading Taylor Branch's Parting the Waters, about the early days of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, which is turning out to be excellent so far.

* I'm going to have a ton of reading this semester. Between that and the essays I have to write (the 5,000-worder mentioned above, the 12-page term paper for my Japanese lit class, and various other essays), it's going to take up all the free time I'm going to have these next couple of months. And I'm not exaggerating all that much when I say that. D: Even when I find out what assignments I can afford to skim or skip, it's still going to be quite a bit. And I have to do work for VIP, search for jobs and internships, and take care of myself on top of it all, and I just......don't know how I'm going to do all that. Some people are lucky enough to have the ability to juggle all these things and more at once with relative ease, and I'm most definitely not. ;___; I don't know how often I'll be on AIM, guys, though I'll see what I can do.

And because a.) of all the stuff that went down in Egypt today, and b.) I have no classes on Fridays, I ended up doing absolutely none of the reading I planned to do today. Which wouldn't be so bad, except I have to read 100+ pages of Tocqueville for my Politics of Virtual Realities class by Monday, and that's going to be a pain to get through. Bleh. :PPP

Anyway, some other things that happened this week:

1) It's official: an A in my Korean culture class. \OO/

2) I helped table for VIP at the student activities fair on Thursday, which was a disappointment as only four people signed up. (Meanwhile the club next to us, Mchaka [a Swahili-chanting running group], got a shitload of new names on their list, despite not having anyone actually at the table. WTF. O_o;) But we're planning on doing quite a bit this semester, so hopefully that'll work out, unlike last semester when all our plans fell through. ._.

3)
Following the breakout success of last year’s Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Art of the Animated Series, Dark Horse is proud to collaborate with Nickelodeon on a comprehensive publishing program built around this beloved and exciting Emmy-winning animated series! The first installment of this new series will be released on Free Comic Book Day, May 7, with two introductory short stories — including the unpublished tale “Relics” and the iconic Dirty Is Only Skin Deep... This free comic will be packaged with Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars in a special flip-book comic, available only at your local comic book shop.

Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Lost Adventures will be released TK. This all-new 240-page comic book contains over 70 pages of never-before-seen material in addition to long-out-of-print comics previously published in Nickelodeon Magazine. With 26 stories set in Airbender continuity and created by a host of top-notch talent, many of whom worked on the original animated series, this is an essential addition to any fan’s bookshelf. [source]


SO. EXCITED. 8DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

The bad news is that I'm not sure how I'll be able to get the Free Comic Book Day comics, considering a.) I go to college in the middle of nowhere Vermont, b.) I don't have easy access to transportation out of town, and c.) it's during finals week. But I'll try to see what I can do, because I need these books bad, as a good way to tide me over until Legend of Korra drops. ^_^;

That's about it right now, so I'll leave you with this meme....

The Social Networking Friending Meme!!


......and this video:





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