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I Could Not Brain This Past Week

I had teh dumb. I could not brain. Brain thinky-things were Too Hard. Even more so than normal, in fact. This has not been a help with uni this past week.

I think I've figured out where the problem lay, however. I finally decided to test out a hypothesis last night, and took an iron supplement, after spending all of yesterday feeling like a wrung-out dishcloth. Lo and behold, this morning I am feeling much better, with a bit more energy and a lot more ability to focus. So, problem was likely to have been low-level anaemia, and I'll keep on taking an iron supplement each night for a few days to get the red cell count up.

Of course, the fun thing about all of this is it's preventable through diet... provided I have enough energy to be cooking regular meals in the first place. Which I didn't have, because I was a bit anaemic, so I didn't cook, which meant I didn't eat a very balanced diet[1], which meant the anaemia didn't get fixed up, which meant I was tired, which meant I didn't cook, which meant we went through the whole cycle again and again and again.

This week coming up is a non-teaching week (thank gods) so I should technically be able to get caught up on my readings and get the majority of work done on an essay which is due in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I've also received notice we're getting a rental inspection in the first week of September, which means my "copious free time" is probably going to need to go toward getting the house back into reasonable condition for that (I've been skiving off on housework for most of the past few weeks, because study commitments).

[1] It had all the standard student food groups: cheap stuff, stuff which could be reheated in the oven, stuff which could be reheated in the microwave, sugary stuff, and caffeine.

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Current Mood: awake awake
Gearing Up For Another Semester

It's that time of year again - I'm just about to head off to Semester 2 of my second year of First Year (I'm studying part time - it takes me twice as long to complete a "year" of study), and I've been running around like a chook with its head cut off trying to get everything organised again.

One of the key things I've had to do in the past week or so is basically get my poor unfortunate Uni machine (Elfadunk) back into working order. This involved re-downloading and re-installing the majority of the software I was using for university, as well as making sure an additional 32GB thumb drive was set up as the main location for everything to land, rather than Elfadunk's existing 32GB hard disk drive. (The hard disk is currently stuffed pretty much to the gills with Windows 10). Fortunately I have a couple of days up my sleeve there - I don't actually have to have her working until about Wednesday morning, when I have my first tutorial (2 lectures, one on Monday, one Tuesday, but I take a notebook to those and write my notes rather than type them).

I've also had to re-arrange my class schedule, because the tutorial I was expecting to be going to for one of my subjects (on a Wednesday afternoon) got cancelled out from under me, which meant I had to re-schedule it. The new tutorial time is at 8am on a Thursday morning, and I'm annoyed both because of the 8am start (means I have to dive out the door at about 7.30am at the latest) and because it stretches out my schedule over four days instead of three. But the other alternative was directly after the lecture on Tuesday afternoon, and would have required me to rush literally from one end of the campus to the other. No thanks, I had enough of that last semester.

But I'm pretty much set now. I've picked up the one textbook I had to buy, I've sorted out most of the software downloads I needed on Elfadunk (I'm just trying to install an anti-virus program on her at present), and I'm pretty much ready for the new semester to hit me full force. The freezer is newly-stocked with meat, the pantry is newly-stocked with a variety of short-cut meals for when I'm running low on spoons and organisation, the house is pretty much tidy, and I've replaced the laces in my sneakers. I'm good to go.

So, how has everyone else been?

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Current Mood: busy busy
Well, I'm back again...

*Sits up, cracks back*

I have finished all my assessment pieces for university, I don't have any exams (advice to potential students: it's very hard to examine Cultural Studies in a way which can prove you've taken the concepts on board; enjoy the lack of exams, but be prepared for lots of essay work) and I currently have a corner of my brain turning back somersaults in at the door and screaming "I'm FreEEEEEEEE!!!" at me. Semester officially ends on 22 June, which is the earliest possible date I'm going to be stripping all the work off my university laptop, Elfadunk.

Elfadunk desperately needs the latest Windows updates from about April last year (that being when I started getting the messages about "can you find 8GB of spare space on this machine so we can download things pleasethankyou"). Elfadunk has a 32GB hard drive, which is currently just about full to capacity with the combination of Windows 10 (most of the hard drive), the MS Office Suite (free download on the university account), EndNote (ditto), Avast antivirus and its various component pieces, Chrome browser, and all the other various accoutrements of university study, the least part of which is my actual data that I've put there and the various PDFs of readings and articles I've downloaded to work from. So all of those have to get stripped off; then I get to start carefully playing computational Jenga with Windows 10 in order to clear 6 - 8 GB of space in which to download and install the latest updates. Once that's done I get to find whether any of the other stuff will fit back on there again, or whether I'm going to be putting all my data and software onto a prosthetic thumb drive over the next few semesters. (In which case it's another visit to Officeworks in the offing to buy another 32GB thumb drive for all of that - I have one already, but it's acting as the storage vault for all my music so I can listen to music while taking notes on various things at uni).

So there's that needs doing, as well as all the housework I've been neglecting for the last three months (we have an inspection due in either June or July, I'm not quite sure which). Plus I've been documenting the various gaps in my knowledge I'm discovering as I read through various articles, textbooks and so on, so I can use my Copious Free Time to fill those. I now have Copious Free Time, so I'm going to try and keep up the whole business of at least two hours a day of actual study time by using that time to fill in various gaps. This includes reading up on the words of various cultural theorists, because I'm a masochist, and I feel the need to know these things myself rather than reading someone else's interpretation of what they said.

Fun little anecdote from writing the last essay for Cultural Studies: I was analysing two texts - "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, and "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy. In the course of three essays about "The God of Small Things", I saw the novel described as a Gothic horror story, a treatise on the existing problems in post-colonial theorising, and a Marxist-influenced caution against the horrors of commodity fetishism in a capitalist system. The idea of "the death of the author" is alive and well, and working in a variety of literary and cultural studies journals, where it's being used as an excuse for making any book ride your particular theoretical hobby-horse. (The whole thing made me laugh, because what I wound up thinking was "I wonder how Arundhati Roy feels about this?").

Also, does anyone know whether there's been any analysis of "The Handmaid's Tale" from the perspective of kink theory? I'd be interested in reading it if there were.

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Current Mood: relieved relieved
Study is being... problematic

I managed to get my study all done yesterday (well, except for the textbook reading for Cultural Studies, and I'm going to see about getting that done this morning). But two of the "readings" for Cultural Studies were episodes of Dr Who ("The Beast Below" and "Planet of the Ood") and I found those ... problematic for reasons which had everything to do with the medium, and very little to do with the actual content.

I'm finding I have more and more trouble with audio-visual content these days, mostly because of those audio processing problems of mine. I have particular problems with things like spliced-together versions of things (which one of the "readings" for Engaging Media was this week - spliced together bits of various Disney movies, assembled to tell a story), because with those I don't have the rhythms of speech to help guide me along and give me cues about what the next word is. I also have problems with streaming media where the audio stream gets out of synch with the video (which is practically anything which is over 10 minutes long) because I'm tending to use mouth movements as visual cues to make sense of the audio stream, to help me pick out which bits of the noise I'm hearing are the significant bits. When those fall out of synch with the audio, I start losing the ability to understand the audio stream, and it means I wind up having to work harder to make sense of things. Subtitles help. Subtitles (preferably proper closed captioning, rather than the YouTube automatic ones) give me something to focus on in the visual domain that can make sense of the information coming out of the audio stream. When there aren't subtitles, I can either a) watch the images, and strain to make sense of the dialogue; or b) close my eyes and concentrate on the audio, in the hope of being able to make sense of that without visual data to go along with it. Plus, of course, being in the situation I'm in, any other noise around me comes in at the same damn volume (or louder) than the audio stream I'm supposed to be concentrating on, and putting in earbuds or putting on headphones just means I'm not able to actually move for the duration.

End result: dealing with streaming video input is rather stressful for me these days. There's a reason I tend to stick with games where there are subtitles, where there aren't voice tracks and so on, and it's not just because I don't have the twitch reflexes for the less accessible stuff. Doing these readings at the end of a long day... well, I wind up very tired, very stressed, and I'm still tired and stressed the following morning, because my brain just hasn't had enough time to cool down.

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Current Mood: tired tired
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