Thursday, 21 July 2011

Corset win!

I usually only write one post a day, but I thought this little update deserved its own post.

Project 36
Right at the beginning of the blog I posted an image of a nymphette. For those who forgot, the post is The photo and here it is.

Click on the image for a better look
I've achieved one part of my challenge to myself - I fit into the corset!

I discovered this last night when I wormed in (with assistance). Over the weekend a (male) friend of mine gave me a look and told me that I ought to fit back into the corset. I continue to be astounded at my friends' insight into the contents of the forgotten recesses of my cupboards. Or they lurk and read the blog. At any rate, he was quite correct in his analysis. I fit in without those funny lumps that occasionally appear at the back when you shouldn't even have tried to get in.

Once I got over the general high of getting in, I tried the skirt. The ego trip slowed down to a crawl. Alas, the skirt is still much too small. This can mean that:
  • I lost fat over my stomach first,
  • the corset stretched, or
  • my helper had good, strong hands and squashed me in.

I'm going for a combination of the first two. It might mean that the finale to my blog (I thought of wearing the outfit as a whole and having photos of me in similar poses) might not work since the top might fall off once the skirt fits, but still, empirical proof that I am smaller and getting closer to achieving my goals! Hooray!

When to use SparkNotes for a Magister Artium

I spent this afternoon being productive thanks to the Phinished community. I keep on being surprised at how much it helps to know and feel that you are not the only sucker that has committed yourself to finishing a dissertation. I still envy people who have a taught Master's since it seems that being taught would be much less effort than playing Rumpelstiltskinwith your ideas (trying to turn straw into gold or loose ideas into a coherent Master's).

by H. J. Ford
Occasionally another kind of alchemy is required. I've read and reread my primary sources over and over. I should know everything off by heart by now, but still my brain sometimes turns into straw. In computer terms, I made a file for MA and just dumped all the information in there. My internal search engine doesn't always work. Which introduces us to our good friend SparkNotes.

I used to be a lecturer before I accepted government employment and capitalisation and became a Language Editor instead. This means that I know all the arguments against SparkNotes. I even wrote a rant in a test feedback after what seemed like millions of second-year scum (who wanted to become teachers) decided that it was just too difficult to read the play or failing that the Charles Lamb summary. If you really want to read the rant, you can find it here. It is not necessary to read between the lines to see I was disgruntled and annoyed.

However, at Master's level I think SparkNotes are incredibly useful when techno peasant brain indexing fails. Since I'm comparing Jane Austen's novels to that of E.M. Forster I keep looking for links until the boundries between the novels break down and I am left with characters trying to sneak into each other's books. My latest problem was inflammation in the Austens. Does Eliza Bennet or Marianne Dashwood fall in love with Willoughby? It's Marianne. Then what is the name of the ungrateful blister (it doesn't help to read P.G. Wodehouse in the bath neither) who slanders Mr Darcy?

Once the people in the books manage to run amok in my brain good old SparkNotes comes in useful. The students are correct - it is much quicker to consult notes than to plough through the novel. In my case the novels are strewn throughout the house as I move my writing space. SparkNotes solves the Austen problem: Eliza admires George Wickham. And the notes also quickly point out that Mrs Moore in A Passage to India has, by another marriage, a daughter named Stella and a son named Ralph (I was convinced his name was Henry or John). The factual inaccuracies also do not bother me since I know the novels. I can disdainfully sniff at plot analyses and move on.

In short, SparkNotes is a telephone book with the full names and surnames of characters. The notes also contain the address or name of the novel from whence the character escaped.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Shrinking my jeans

Tomorrow is Icon time. Like Upcon, Icon is a gaming convention. The joy of Icon is that I don't organise it and that I can just show up - as long as I'm dressed warmly. The winter solstice is gone which means that the real cold is only beginning. I want to wear warm pants. This leads to the title of today's post.

Project 36
It is surprisingly easy to miss some basic facts about losing weight. Especially if you call it "weight" and not "fat". I haven't lost that much weight, but I have lost fat. Isn't it a pity that you can't call a spade a spade any more? No-one is "fat" instead they are "overweight" and if there's a great deal of it "obese". Either which way, fat loss shows in centimetres (or inches, depending which side of the globe you come from). A few centimetres mark the difference between clothing sizes. (Which reminds me, if weight is so important, why doesn't weight feature directly in clothing sizes?)

I bought two pairs of jeans in summer which I forgot about until the cold started. I shortened them and then tried them both on separately. They were extremely comfortable and roomy. A belt was indicated. I proceeded to wear them and made a positive, astonishing and utterly annoying discovery. I could take them off without opening the button or undoing the zip. This would be exceedingly useful for Casanova, but not so much for me. I own jeans because they're warm.

My brainwave hit me when I was sorting the washing by colour and fabric. The jeans had a label indicating that, under normal conditions, tumble drying  is inadvisable. However, I had two pairs of jeans that were too large. I've just retrieved one of the pairs from the drier. So far, it's not falling off, even without a belt. Perhaps I can try this with some of my other clothes? I could save a lot of money ... hmmm...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Campus revisited

In my previous post I gloried in overcoming the injured knee to consult Unisa's library. On Monday, I made my way to the library at Tukkies (the University of Pretoria). My friend Anja of Coram publico is often to be found there (which is part of the attraction). She is also a Master's student.

Tuks's campus is mainly level and offers pleasant walks. No crutches needed. I know the library and its lifts well. The main benefit of working in the library and in the general area of another Master's student is that I concentrated and got some work done. With work I mean actual dissertation writing instead of taking notes, thinking or creatively procrastinating. Anja was similarly productive.

I rediscovered the joys of being at Tuks while the students are (mostly) away. The library is quiet, no herds of students stampede building entrances every ten minutes before the hour and, since no-one seems in a hurry to get in and out of the library, my access card functioned perfectly. And let's be honest, it is also less depressing not to have to face droves of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and inescapably juvenile students. I hate to admit it, but they remind me that I'm older.

There are also other advantages of being on campus and fraternising with other post graduates. As usual, I didn't plan ahead and inform people that I would be on campus so instead of having lunch or coffee I got to see very cute critters and surprise another friend of mine.

A cute elephant shrew - photo by Sasha Hoffman
She is doing a study on the little things. It was great fun to explore a new building and see the arena where the shrews run around. I also had a giggle at the notice which asks researchers not to put the animals on the floor since the basement sometimes floods. (I'm sure that it's a serious matter for the animals, but the note amused me.) Asking questions led to an interesting piece of information: these shrews can be kept as pets.
Guess what I want?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Finally, Abinger Harvest is mine!

I took a week of completely undeserved doing-other-things time. This included the Great Wash (laundry and dishes), visiting Madam Marthie Leach the Awesome and sorting through papers. The Universe also responded to my wavering faith in the Master's degree by not allowing me to start gainful (in the monetary sense) employment in the corporate world. This message was delivered via a very kind and courteous you-are-not-the-successful-candidate email on Wednesday.

Today was a veritable triumph of endurance and sleuthing.  I broke through the conspiracy to halt my progress by finally going up to Unisa's library and making copies of the essays in Abinger Harvest by E. M. Forster. This sounds relatively simple, no?

Fun fact about me:
I have a bad knee.

In general it behaves itself, but it is not too happy with things like slopes. If you have never been to Unisa, the slopes look something like this:

So halfway up the slope which my daring accomplice claimed: "was very short", both knees were very unhappy. Luckily a kind security officer assisted us and made us a special, dare I say it, disabled parking close to the entrance. Despite my stiffness and pain we continued on our brave search for the Essential Resource. We pressed through despite the queue and a general sense of slow moving. I limped my way to the shelf to miss, at first, and then find, with infinite relief, the book I've been looking for for over a month.

The essential resource

I should be mobile again soon - I've already started on the dicloflam (the disgusting generic of Cataflam, which works like a charm) and I hope to hobble less by tomorrow. I'll decide then if the whole shebang was worth it.

Murphy's law: if you go to the gym and walk far on the treadmill, you'll have to walk even further under less ideal conditions the next day.

Project 36
As discussed in my previous post, I had an appointment with Marthie Leach yesterday. I have mixed feelings about the results. My weight is up by 100g (which can be just winter clothing) and I've gained 0.5% body fat. I've discovered that your body retains fat when you get ill (and not just for heat as I supposed before).

Part of the joy in visiting Marthie Leach is that she is always supportive and always has ideas on how to handle whatever situation arises. The answer to my current need-to-feed problem is to eat popcorn. Live and learn. Act II Lightly Buttered popcorn (found in the local Spar in my case) is low in fat and high in volume. A whole pack of crunchy, warm deliciousness is the equivalent of two slices of bread (carbohydrate wise)!

I'm considering also posting recipes and low/no fat cooking tips. Leave a comment if you'd be interested :)