Wednesday, March 16, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________

Looking Ahead 

I just realised that it's that time in the semester again when everything seems to be due and that classes end in 3 weeks and that you're still not too clear on what's going to be on the final. So in response to the relative chaos is this post. An attempt at some kind of structure that I will most likely fail to impose on the next month or so.

File my Tax Return
This seems simple until you consider that I worked at 6 different jobs last year, took out student loans, paid my own tuition, contributed to an RRSP (fixed retirement fund) and don't want to pay some accountant to do my taxes for me. I filed my 2003 taxes (3 jobs) last year no problem and so I don't think there will be too many more problems this year. I mean how hard can it be right? I've been avoiding it a little, so honestly, I don't know how hard it can be.

Jim's tax return, on the other hand is easy. One job. That's it. A few medical contributions but that's just one more sheet of paper, that dropped into a puddle and had to be carefully dried out. The writing on it is still very legible though, so no worries.

Project Declination
If I were to call it anything else it would just be confusing. This project takes the place of the final exam for this course that I'm in (and require to graduate). So far we have collected the data for one of two experiments that we are running in order to test a hypothesis. The first experiment is very analysis heavy and the start of the second is dependent on making sure that our data for the first is neatly parsed and organized. We have about 30-40MB (.mp3 format) of raw data to sift through to come up with an estimated 3 minutes of final, usable stimuli. Don't even get me started on experiment 2...

But this is largely under control. I'm going to get my portion of the raw data tonight and while this work will be tedious, it would be simple enough if I am listening to something entertaining in the background. Like the abridged Da Vinci Code on Audible Audiobooks. They didn't have the unabridged one, unfortunately. Even so, it's not like Lisa didn't already tell me how the book ends before I had a chance to listen to the audiobook. Bah humbug.

Carden's Final Project
Carden. Any of you regulars out there in internet land should know that any section that beings with "Carden" and involves actual academic work (you should know that as a person he's a really nice guy) is a good predictor of a pretty long rant.

So sometime last week Carden says that a project worth 25% of the overall course grade will be due by the end of term-ish. No real specifics. He said that we will have a few options to choose from but that we can propose our own ideas. No real specifics. He said that he will talk about it a little more in subsequent lectures. At those lectures he has yet to offer up an real specifics. Given that there are about three weeks of classes left (and steadily counting) and no specifics I am starting to contemplate the purchase of a firearm. However, because of my permanent resident status, I'm sure my application will not be approved.

Seeing as how I have no real specifics for this project, there isn't really anything I can do about it but sit here and ruminate on ways to incapacitate Carden such that no real harm is done to him (I like the guy on many other dimensions) but that he is no longer able to teach.

Psych 100 Stress Management project
This one is due on Monday. Basically it's not that bad. It's a 5 page write up on one aspect of your life that is causing stress and a program, based on psychological principles that we studied in class, that will help alleviate the stressor. It will be graded on clarity, use of relevant psychological principles and how pratical the solution is. This project, I am happy to say, I have under control.

The Graduate Record Examination is like the SATs for graduate school. I'm not too worried about it, but am completely freaked out about it at the same time. Some time last year I qualified for Mensa. The only things a high score on IQ tests is a good predictor of are (1) My ability to do well on standardized tests and (2) My overall academic ability. It doesn't mean I'm smarter than most people. In fact, apart from academic success, it doesn't predict any other forms of intelligence very well at all. I mean, I still can't open childproof bottles....

So I'm not all that worried about my performance on this test, but taking it requires me to prove that I am indeed Johanna Tan Si-en and the only forms of ID they will accept are currently in my parent's safety deposit box at the bank. Not exactly accessible to me at this time. I'm considering asking my brother if he can ask my parents if they will pass him my documents so that he can ferry them to me, but apart from that, I don't really have a very good plan.

Not to mention that I have to book the test pretty soon and start buying material with which to prepare for the test. I don't even know what I should get to study with. They say all those GRE guides out there are not bad but that the test changes slightly from year to year and that those guides are not on the "cutting edge" so to speak. I want to frigging kick ass at this test because I know I can. That's added pressure to perform.

Various Final Exams
Oh, like this one really needs an explanation...

Summer '05
I finally (after two hours of battling an overtaxed system) registered for my summer courses. I am taking two third year Psych courses both which look really interesting (and both of which I require to graduate). I am also hoping that a spot will open up in this other course that will allow me to get my lit requirement to graduate. Otherwise I would just have to take it next year, but I really don't want to.

Also in the Summer, Carden hasn't made the call for it yet, but I'm hoping to land a summer position with the folks from the National Science and Engineering Research Commission (NSERC). These are the people I'm hoping to get a scholarship to do my master's from. More on this at a later date.

So my plate's rather full, but there's still room for plenty of quality programming: GO ROB AND AMBER!

posted by Joie! at 12:29 p.m.


Saturday, March 12, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________

*With Brushing 

This post is brought to you by the new Aquafresh Extreme Clean Whitening toothpaste. It's unique foaming action showers your whole mouth for an extreme feeling clean. As you brush, Extreme Clean bursts into rich Micro-Active foam which seeks out hard-to-reach places, leaving your mouth with a cool tingling sensation that lasts.

My version of the product also whitens your teeth. As I was brushing my teeth on Thursday night, after watching really good installments of Survivor and The Apprentice I decided to read the back of my toothpaste whilst brushing. I love Aquafresh. It was the only toothpaste growing up that made me feel like my teeth were clean after I used it. It also came in three colours back then, which to me was proof that it worked. I mean those plain white toothpastes couldn't possible hold a candle to the combined action of three, count it three different coloured...things...yeah. Well. It made sense to me back then, and I knew my mouth felt better for that green red and white.

See. I stopped using Aquafresh because for the most part, my grandparents were the ones who used it. My parents bought the inferior kind. The only opportunities I had to use Aquafresh was when I stayed over with my grandparents. When I moved out on my own, to cut costs, I was still nicking toothpaste from my parents, so still no Aquafresh. Finally, when It came to the point where I was no longer talking to my parents (and was thus cut off from my own supply of Crest Kid's toothpaste - a product that tasted horrible and was there as a result of the fact that my dad doesn't read labels when he goes grocery shopping) Crest came out with new Whitening Expressions in exciting flavours like Cinnamon Rush and Ctirus Breeze. (The last season of the Apprentice featured a challenge where the candidates had to promote the new flavour: Vanilla Mint. It has yet to hit stores here) These flavours intriguied me. Plus, they were endorsed by Emeril Lagasse himself. Now I think his show is insipid, but hey, can you get your toothpaste to be endorsed by a celebrity chef (or any chef for that matter)?

So I had to try it. I mean Crest Whitening Expressions toothpaste was beyond cool. It came in a jazzy space-age tube (you know, all metallic and the like) or a gel in a cute little stunted squeeze bottle. I have never, never had toothpaste in that little gel-squeeze bottle because the only toothpaste in that kind of packaging before now was Colgate and I can't use Colgate toothpastes. The reason I can't use Colgate is a very good one and I think all of you should pay attention and listen up. You know those ulcers that you get in your mouth, the kind that only the foul tasting Watermelon Powder (which due to its high levels of mercury can now only be sold in China) can get rid of? People here call them canker sores. Those ulcers can be caused by high levels of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), an agent found in shampoos and some toothpastes as a foaming agent. SLS has a drying effect on oral tissues making them more susceptable to ulcers. It doesn't affect everyone, but if you find that you are someone who always gets ulcers, you might want to toss out your Colgate and switch to something else. Like Aquafresh.

So anyway. I've just run out of Crest Whitening Expressions Citrus Breeze toothpaste. Having satisfied my curiousity both for the unique flavour as well as the cute squeeze bottle I decided to go back to my Aquafresh. Now that I am finally able to make my own decisions regarding toothpaste there is no more reason that I should not be using the one that makes me feel the best about my teeth brushing. Jim bought the other two available flavours of Crest Whitening Expressions in gel because his curiousity is insatiable but I caught him using my toothpaste the other day. I think it's the snazzy space-age metallic squeeze tube that attracted him to my Aquafresh. These days there are only two colours in my Aquafresh. Orange and White. That's okay though, because today's Aquafresh does so much more than it used to when it was still exclusively available in that triad of colours. While brushing my teeth, I decided to read the back o fmy tube to catch up on all the developments that I missed while I was being the prodigal toothbrusher.

This is when I nearly choked on all that Micro-Active foaming action. There's a sentence that says "Aquafresh® Extreme Clean™ PowerWhite also gently whitens your teeth*". I glance quickly down looking for the asterisk. Here it is:

"*With brushing"

Oh great! With brushing! Thanks for clearing that up Aquafresh. Now I can stop worshipping the toothpaste before bed in hopes that it will gently whiten my teeth.

posted by Joie! at 10:10 a.m.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________

Crossed Wires 

It seems as though the whole of the last post was pretty pointless. I wasn't given the opportunity to say "yes" to the ABA therapy largely because my liaison didn't ask me. She just assumed that I wanted to be a therapist. So I was given the job without being given a job offer. It was a strange situation. Especially because she said that all the questions I would have would be answered in training, and that training will be three times a week on MWF. I figured that since I'm free after 11am on MWF and training is paid, I wouldn't mind getting training and then waiting to decide then. The only problem is that when she emailed me my schedule, she had me on TuTh as well, at times that I thought she had understood I was unavailable for. I mean I was watching her as she took down my availability. Perhaps she was just doodling, but that would just really be stupid, don't you think?

Not only that, I told her that I worked on the weekends and that it was lucrative and therefore would only be available on the weekdays. All staff meetings and major training sessions take place on the weekends. She doesn't tell me this, she just sends me emails with the dates of events expecting me to attend. I mean when I went to meet her last Wednesday, she was expecting me for a four hour session that Sunday. Not only was it extremely short notice, I think Sunday nights are something that you have to have a really good excuse for making people commit to something for.

All this aside, when I met Nicholas (it was a boy, not a girl) I almost fell in love. He's 6 years old, full of energy and, while I was there, in a very good mood. He took well to me too. Which is why I made the decision not to be his therapist. Children who have autism have something called an insistence on similarity. In other words, if something in their routine changes they really do not like it. So if I keep getting scheduled for times which I have to miss or push back, if I keep having to miss team meetings (this kid has a team of 12 therapists) it's really not going to be fair to Nicholas. I just told Kathleen (my liaison) that I wasn't going to commit to this. I mean I didn't really apologize to her because I feel that I should have been given the chance to accept the position in the first place. I hope that there's someone awesome who takes the place I was supposed to because Nicholas is a great kid.

On a completely different note, Jim and I are both sick with the same thing. It's very strange, because it's like the flu with no runny nose and no fever. Just achy head, achy body. Jim's been missing work and I've been missing some classes. I still attend the important ones, but it's not easy, that's for sure. Jim seems to have gotten worse today. I'm about the same, but I think I might be getting better. For me it's always alright when I just wake up, but gets worse throughout the day. I wonder which one of us brought it home first.

The only good thing to come out of this bout of achy-achy is that I have time to blog. It's been such a whirlwind of work right now, not to mention two mid-terms and a major assignment due next week, a semi-important assignment due tomorrow and a missed 2% assignment. I'm currently debating whether or not to try and get a doctor's note to allow me to make up that missed assignment. The reason I'm thinking it doesn't matter all that much is because (a) I got 93.3% on the mid-term and 4 out of 5 for the 10% assignment and (b) believe it or not, the GP mear my home charges $10 for writing notes. I'm not sure they're allowed to do that, but no one has stepped up to stop them yet. It's rather ridiculous really. The question now is: is 2% in a course that I'm pretty sure I'm going to do well in anyway worth $10?

Which is an interesting question, acutally. I had a take-home mid-term due on Monday. The only problem was that I had no idea what the last question was asking for. I didn't understand the question and to the extent I understood it I couldn't answer it. So I decided to tell Kai (my lab partner from Carden's class, who is also in this class) that I would take him out for dinner anywhere he wants if he just gave me the frigging answer. I figure that it's going to run me $50 maximally. $50 for 20%. Then there are all the moral issues. Was I cheating? Was I copying from someone? Was I taking advantage of someone's desire for a nice sushi dinner? I figure if Kai doesn't mind, I don't mind. He thought I was joking about the dinner when I asked him for help anyway, which means that he would have done it for free.

Now if I can just find other people who will let me copy their mid-terms. Reliable people, that is.

posted by Joie! at 8:40 a.m.


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