Sunday, 25 November 2012

This one's for poor autobiographical memory

Well, I don't have much to say, but on the other hand I'm bored and I want to try and post more. I went to a talk at one point (by a real jerk of a speaker, I must say*) about autobiographical memory. There are people who are super-rememberers and can recall every day of their life with perfect accuracy. Then there are people like me, who can't re-experience life events in the first person. I didn't know ANYONE could do this but apparently they can. My memories are more like reading a book about someone else, and they fade FAST. Luckily I can hold onto stuff by way of photographs, blogging and making things into hilarious stories to tell at cocktail parties, so that works out okay. Still, it would probably be a good idea to try to commit things to writing as they happen, or I will wake up one day and have no idea what I did with my life.

(This can also be very awkward - it took me a long time to convince Del that I wasn't just forgetting things we did/that he said because I don't care. I just don't remember, but I don't remember anything else either...)

Actually, I wonder too how much of this is due to re-imagining my life every few years. Really, in a way you're a different person every time you radically change your circumstances, and every time you make a big move it changes you too so that you're slightly different by the end. But I guess it's unsurprising that my autobiographical memory would be a bit disjointed when my past can be divided into phases that don't necessarily have much to do with each other, but that occasionally overlap.

So anyway, this week it was American Thanksgiving. I decided to work through since I have to go back to Guelph sometime (hopefully this week) to pick up the rest of my stuff. (DREADING this but unavoidable). However, my new supervisor kindly invited me to Thanksgiving dinner on the Thursday, so really I only worked a half day. They got their entire meal in a bag from Whole Foods, pre-cooked turkey and all! Impressive American efficiency (and, I must admit, delicious). They had also invited another family, and that is how I met my very first Tiger Mother. I actually assumed that Amy Chua had exaggerated this style of parenting a bit for effect, but nope, this T. M. was exactly as described. The kids are in music and dance lessons to the tune of $250 per week, she informed us, and in Chinese school on the weekends and being tutored the rest of the time, and they better do well because she wants a good return on her investment. I was astounded. These kids are being groomed for Harvard or Yale, and anything less than that is considered a failure.

I tell ya, it's a whole different world out here. One of the little boys carries around a socket wrench like it's his blankie - it was the cutest thing - and I said, "awww, maybe he'll be a mechanic!" I got a strange look and a "We're hoping he'll be a doctor" in return. However, ten minutes later when we heard the woeful saga of the new generator that can't be hooked up to the house because the house doesn't have a ground wire (?? maybe it's really old?), I thought to myself, this is why one wants an electrician or two in the family if possible. Not much use having nothing but doctors at a time like this!

Anyway, I had a nice time and it was sweet of them to invite me. So that's my first American Thanksgiving under my belt I suppose.

Other than that, mostly been laying low as I don't get paid until Friday and have been surviving on my first week's paycheque (get paid once a week on the last day of the month, so only a small one for October and nothing now until the end of Nov). Had a rough birthday this year - Helena and I had dinner plans at least, but then she got sick and had to cancel so I did nothing at all. Luckily a card and a parcel arrived from the people I can always count on, so that cheered me up somewhat. Then later in the week my friend Rebecca's grandma took a turn for the worse and died, and the funeral was actually ON her birthday. So now I feel bad for complaining. Poor Rebecca, she has had a rough year and I hope we can take her away for a girls weekend or something once I have some actual paycheque available to spend.

Hopefully this whole trip-to-Guelph thing works out for the end of the week. I really am not looking forward to the drives and the border (and Guelph) but it can't be helped. I will cough up extra for a GPS and hope the horrible Connecticut drivers are feeling kind...

*he called out a grad student halfway through the talk, loudly and at great length, for fiddling around on his phone -which granted isn't good form, but who HALTS HIS TALK TO YELL AT SOMEONE?! Especially since some people have note-taking apps etc on their phones.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Third Week Unlucky

Man, it's been kind of a rough week. After the craziness of the first week (i.e. trying to make sure I had somewhere to live and something to sleep on) and the unexpected hurrication the second week, this week it really felt like maybe things should be more sorted, and they totally weren't.

For one thing, although I got paid Nov 1st, the bank kindly put all my money except $100 on hold for a week and a half. This was unexpected because when I deposited it, the teller said it would be available in two days. So I therefore took out most of it and spent it on food and a couple of bits of furniture off Craigslist before discovering that I would then have an extra week to survive and $15 in my pocket. My credit card, of course, is still en route from the UK since I left it behind the bar at the Rusty Bike at my leaving do. Sigh. Anyway, it worked out fine (in part thanks to Rebecca treating Helena and I to a meal out). Bit awkward when people wanted to go for lunch etc, though. However, I made it work, and by the time my cash was released today I still had $3 in my pocket.

The not-too-bright dude at the gym also screwed up my membership, meaning that although I paid on Nov 1st, I didn't have access until yesterday after I had made about ten phone calls (he apparently doesn't answer his phone) and trudged over there during a Nor'easter (wind warnings! exciting weather lately) and stood in his office for 45 min waiting for him to get back. The office was open with a  sign saying "come in", with his keys and phone on his desk... apparently he was just bumming around upstairs. He's lucky I didn't rob him blind. Anyway, I was annoyed a). because I really could have used that money for something else this week, and b). exercise is my stress relief, and without it I started getting in quite a bad way. Blah, so unpleasant.

Oh yeah, also my heating wasn't working, and due to said Nor'easter/wind warnings it was COLD. Which, along with stress and no exercise, made it hard to fall asleep. Double blah.

However, things are looking up: the bank released my funds; the maintenance dude, who is probably getting sick of my place, sorted out the heating; and I found the email address of someone who could actually fix the gym fiasco and am (apparently) getting a free month in return for all the nonsense. (As the same dude is the one in charge of this, I am skeptical though).

So yes, things looking up. Tomorrow I can finally afford to get some curtain rods!

Work is also going a little better, I think - I have been having a lot of trouble focussing lately but I've now been introduced to a bunch of different pieces of software that I can use for data analysis, and have a much clearer idea of what it is that I'm expected to do. Now I'm actually quite excited to dig my teeth into this data and see what I can find. I am waiting on new computers (one Mac, one PC, lucky me!) and some software, which I'm sure will bring its own series of frustrations, but once I'm set up at least I sort of know what to do.

So here's to a better 4th week... if nothing else I am going for a birthday dinner at a restaurant that serves nothing but cheese!