Archive for WIP

Work In Progress and Christmas Dinner

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Food, Friends, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , on 14/12/2011 by arabrhizome

So I had my work in progress today. I spent most of today finishing the paper I was going to present. In fact I woke up at 3 in the morning and basically worked through the day until my presentation at four. I believe that it went well. There was a nice fun conversation afterwards, at least for me. People also told me that they did enjoy the work and felt that I made some complex concepts and arguments accessible, which is the greatest compliment anyone can give me. It was fun to present, since I haven’t been teaching this year it was good to be able to speak in public. I forgot how much I enjoyed presenting my work.

After the Work in Progress we all went to this Lebanese/Moroccan restaurant for our department christmas dinner, which was really nice. I got to hang out with staff members I really like that I haven’t really got the chance to hang out with this year. It was good food and good company. The bill was very high but then it turned out that they had made a mistake in calculating it. So after a lot of drama we ended up paying and leaving. I’m glad I got out of my shell a bit. I’m going to try to do more of that after the christmas break. Anyway, I’m very tired and very sleepy. So stay safe everyone. Live long and prosper.

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Occupation, Disruption, and Stand Up Comedy

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 02/12/2010 by arabrhizome

So we were supposed to have a WIP on Wednesday, but the colleague who was supposed to present couldn’t make it into uni. She lives in Leeds and she was stuck at Sheffield unable to make it because of the snow. She left with plenty of time but ended up being stuck on the road. We decided to postpone it until next week, hoping that the conditions would be better then. This meant that I was able to attend the general meeting at the Nottingham uni occupation.

It was really nice seeing all these youngsters caring about the future of education in this country. I was also very happy to see one of my students there. I made a few points about using twitter more effectively. It seemed to go down well. The main problem is that uni has cut off wifi for them, so I stressed the fact that they could use twitter through their 3G network. Other occupations have used it very effectively.

I was outraged that heating was cut off, although since then it was turned back on. This is a  basic right that was denied by the management. I have to say that I am highly unimpressed by the management’s response to the occupation. They have been treating them like terrorists, refusing to even engage in conversation with them. The students have been very careful not to cause any disruption and are allowing anyone who needs the space to use it as they wish. For example the dance club used it for their dance lessons without any problem.

I then made my way back home in order to try and do some work until the evening. We were going to watch Rohd Gilbert live. I wasn’t able to get very far but made a proper effort. My deadline is getting closer and closer and I am still very far off the word limit I need to get to. The problem I’m having is that I still haven’t really clarified my argument for this chapter in my head. I’m not yet sure what this chapter’s argument is and how I’m proposing to expose it. Anyway, enough moaning about that.

So we decided to go at 7:00, the show was supposed to start at 8:00. We thought that this way we were sure to make it on time. In fact we got there with 40 minutes to go. We ended up having a few gyozas at Wagamama and got in just in time for the beginning of the show. It was basically a two part show with a support act, then an interval, and then the main show.

The support act was very good. It was his room mate Lloyd Langford. He did a 25 minutes long set. It was quite good. Then after the interval we got to watch Rohd’s highly polished show. I was very impressed with the structure of the show. He paced it quite well, although I have to admit that it dragged a bit by the end. I mean the whole thing was constructed very well and everything seemed to lead towards the climactic end, but it was a bit long. I think that he went on for about 2 hours. I mean it’s great value for money, but I could have used an interval in the middle.

Anyway, that was basically my Wednesday. I could have written a but more, but I am in a bit of a mood and just want to go and feel sorry for myself for a bit. So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow for another post. Oh and by the way, this was my 200th post. I wanted to celebrate that a bit. But I’m really not in the mood.

Cooking Lunch Boxes for Friends and WIPs

Posted in Culture, Food, Friends, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , on 10/11/2010 by arabrhizome

So I decided to cook lunch boxes for two of my friends today to eat after A’s WIP at uni. I made a Thai red curry with beef meat balls. I love making red curry. It’s one of my favourite food stuffs right now. So I made it in the morning and let it cool and went to uni to watch A give his presentation. I really like his work. I think it’s very interesting and quite challenging, especially that it is so far removed from what I do. I also like his presentations a lot. He is very good at it. Today was no exception. I really enjoyed his talk and even though I was familiar with this bit of his work, having read the full chapter before, I was still drawn in and was able to think up two questions to ask.

I really enjoy our WIP sessions. The atmosphere is nice and friendly, and people are always willing to engage with the work being presented. What I also like is that the engagement is always in the spirit of making the work better. So if there ever is criticism it is always constructive. Also, I find that the way in which people are willing to go along with the presenter is very useful. So people usually accept your basic premisses and then see where you go with your argument, rather then question the very foundations of what you are doing. This is due in part to the fact that we are all working on such different and diverse subjects, but it is also a testimony to our mutual respect for each other’s work. It would be easy to criticise someone from the perspective of our specialist subjects, but I find that it is more useful to try and engage with that subject after taking for granted their basic assumptions.

So after a very nice presentation we had our lunch, which I’m happy to say was liked by everyone involved. We had a nice bit of hanging out. We then went to the student bar and had a pint. We also played pool. Now I haven’t played pool in something like 12 years. I used to be okay, but I was horrid today. I just don’t think I can be a world champion. Oh no what a shame! After that we wasted a bit of money on quiz machines in the pub. We found out that as a group we are quite intelligent and capable of scoring a very high score. I really enjoy trivia based quizzes as I have a lot of useless information rattling around in my brain.

I find that I am drawn to useless information like a moth to a flame. I just love it. I enjoy a show like QI maybe a little bit too much. The thing with trivia for me is that it really helps with my immense curiosity. That would explain why I enjoy gossip so much. I always toy with the idea of trying to go on a game show and win some money, I’ve done that before with the arabic version of the weakest link and actually won 2700$. But then I realise that my general knowledge has huge gaps, particularly in the pop culture of the UK from before I came here, and in certain subjects. I am, for example, very bad at Anglophone literature. The main reason for that is that I grew up with Francophone literature, which I’m pretty sure I’m bad at as well.

Anyway, that was my day in about 600 words. I have made my soup to take to school tomorrow, I need to buy a flask before I go though. I thought I had one, but I can’t find it. I think I might have thrown it away or given it away, I’m not sure. So I have a trip to the supermarket before I go to uni. I didn’t do much work today as well. I really need to make up for that tomorrow. I think that this coming week and a half will need to be quite intensive, at least in the work department. So on this useless information for all of you, good night.

WIP

Posted in Food, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 22/10/2010 by arabrhizome

So today was my WIP. I was looking forward to it, as I like presenting. I was a bit afraid of a few things though. First, my paper felt way too long. Second, it is a highly theoretical paper that involves a lot of math and very complicated philosophical concepts. I was hoping though that I had made them clear. The thing is, I think I’m able to clarify them in my chapter, which is about double the size of that paper, but I’m not sure they’re clear in such a short paper. But again, the paper felt too short to explain things properly, but too long to present. I finally decided to not worry about it too much and just go ahead and do it.

It turns out it wasn’t too long. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t short, but it wasn’t crazy. However, I had to stop reading every now and again and clarify a few points. I ended up going off script a fair amount of times. I ended up using things from my chapter in order to explain some of the complex points. I think that most of the people there got it. Although there were many bemused faces who could barely hide their boredom and complete non-understanding of it.

I think that I freaked out some of the new Postgrads. You see my paper was the first WIP, and it kind of set the mood for what to expect from a WIP. Also, a lot of faculty were here, which is good for me, but probably intimidating for the postgrads. I was happy to see so many of them took the time to attend my paper. It’s very flattering to think that they value my work and feel they can take time off to come and watch me talk about topology and differential relationships within a virtual structure of symbolic elements that differenciate themselves into real objects, while the subject is fractured and dissolved (by the way spelling nazis, you know who you are, I meant to write differnciate. It’s part of the argument).

I also got a few good questions and felt that I answered them well. Answering questions has always been one of my strong points. I like being put on the spot and having to think on my feet. Although, I like it only when I know my subject, and I’ve been working on this chapter for a very long time, so I know what it’s about. The questions went on for, more or less, about 15 minutes, I was hoping for more but time ran out. I am going to try to do another WIP this year. I have three chapters to write, so I might as well present one.

All in all I felt good about it, although I wished I could make my points a bit more clear. I am not naive though, I know that not everyone would get it. If someone has never done theory, or at least read some of the French philosophy of the 1960s and onwards, I realise that they would have trouble with my work. I also realise that in order for my work to make sense, I need to explain a lot of the terms I take for granted and expect people to understand. I have to assume my audience knows these terms, otherwise I would never get around to making my argument, but it still bothers me. I always felt that the point of academia is to explain the world and make it that little bit clearer. Each discipline does it differently, but we are all, in the end of the day, teachers. Teachers must explain things.

Now, Explaining doesn’t mean dumbing down or giving all the answers to the students/audience. I think that we need to lead people to ask the right questions and then do the work with them in order to get somewhere. Anyway, I don’t believe that there are Answers (again spelling nazis the capital A is meant to be there). I am a little bit suspicious of anyone who thinks they have understood something fully. All I can do is approach something from my perspective and hope to make it a little bit intelligible to others. I was able to do that with some people about some of the points I made today. Now I need to get to the others. My next WIP will hopefully do that.

After the WIP I gave myself the day off and went back home to a nice lunch and an afternoon/evening of playing God of War 3 and watching tv. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and had a blast. I will write a post about GOW3 at some point later. Suffice it to say though that it was worth the wait. This series has been at the forefront of the gaming world for a while now and the final chapter seems to have delivered again. I will try to ration my playing, in order to extend the joy of it. This week end will involve me working though, because I can’t, and to be honest don’t really want to, stop now. I am enjoying work again. I have to finish re-writing this chapter and then move on to the next. I think that I will be working on both of them at the same time. Anyway, tomorrow is another day, let’s see what it has in store for me.

Two Days Worth

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Silly Thoughts, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 08/10/2010 by arabrhizome

So as I didn’t write a proper post yesterday, I’m going to try and make up for it with today’s post. I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try to make it quite long. This explanation is adding valuable words to the word count, that is good. So yesterday was my first official try at working in the PGR room. It went extremely well. I really like it. It always felt oppressive, dark, smelly, and stuffy, whenever I passed by to ask A if he wanted to have a coffee or to talk to H or something. However, I’ve realised that it’s not the case at all. It’s actually quite a nice space, plus I have the desk that’s next to the window so I’ll be able to gaze out onto the inner court of the Trent building.

So A picked me up to go to uni. We had a coffee in the little cafe and basically worked out what we were going to do and say during our presentation today. As I said, it was very much B’s work that made it easy for us. But it all felt very useful and nice. Also, I got A to read my truncated chapter, or WIP paper as I should call it. He agreed that there was nothing left for me to cut without doing proper damage to the content of the paper. It’s going to be a long paper, but I’m hoping that it’ll be okay. A seemed to really like it, which I’m very happy about. Now all I have left to do for the WIP is to prepare a powerpoint presentation about math and I’m ready. I love that I get to talk about math in my French studies thesis, I am such a geek.

So after that, we did a little bit of work, then went to eat. We had some okay food at the student cafeteria. It was nice to eat out of a plate, rather then out of a cardboard sandwich box. Then got back to the room where I did the final preparations for my classes and got ready to meet my new batch of students. Now, last year’s students on this module were, for the most part, a brilliant bunch. They were smart, engaged with the text and with me, had some nice intelligent and quite interesting things to say about the texts we were studying. Those texts are very hard, especially for people who have encountered very little theory before. So I was braced to be disappointed with the new bunch, because it was impossible to top last year’s.

Well I was wrong, as was clearly implied by my very long and obvious attempt at building up tension and making it seem like it was an impossible occurrence, only to confound you all by saying that the new kids seem to be just as intelligent and engaged if not more. It was such a nice surprise. I was very happy to see them all eager to learn, taking notes, and making very pertinent points. It was a little difficult to get them to talk, as all students are a bit shy at first. However, I think that I have encouraged them enough to get a little more involved next week. With each of the three sections I taught, they were really talkative by the end. So I’m hoping that the feeling of safety will carry on until next week when they’ll talk a bit more.

I had a lot of fun with them. The first text we’re doing is Mythologies by Roland Barthes. I have chosen three Mythologies (which is what you call each of the very short articles that make up the book) which are a little controversial, and more or less link with the other texts we look at. One of them, called ‘Romans et Enfants) is a lot of fun to teach. One of the main reasons, is that I get to do a little feminist speech about how women, while being better off then in 1950s France are still a long way from getting equal rights. I talk about women being paid less then men for the same jobs, the fact that motherhood is presented as the natural and only role of women (which is the point of this particular mythology), and (my favourite bit) about how Hysteria is derived from Uterus. I love how this always gets the same reactions, people laugh out of shock when I tell them that in many ways to be hysteric, means to have a uterus. I hope that this gets them, at least in a small way, to become a little politicised.

After my classes I was exhausted. I had talked a lot after all. But there’s no rest for the wicked and we went to the Goose Fair. I really like the Goose fair, not for the crazy stupid scary rides, I don’t do those. I like it because of the stupid, rigged up, overpriced games. I love all the ball throwing, bottle straightening, duck fishing silliness. I spent a lot of Z’s money, because I didn’t have any on me and she is very generous, on those games and won her a stuffed toy of puss-in-boots from shrek. So I believe we are square now, a shitty toy should make up for the money I ‘borrowed’. After the Goose fair we went to a pub called Spanky Van Dykes, which was alright but incredibly weird. Also, I had a very traumatising experience in their bathroom, well A had it first then me, and remember I lived through arial bombardment by Israel, crazy islamists who think putting babies in ovens is prescribed by god, and a few years of random car bombs in Lebanon amongst other things. Well, come to think about it, this was really a very minor thing. But at the time really felt weird and dirty. Their bathrooms had a recording of some children playing. It was like there was a microphone in a playground and it was being played in the bathroom as we were weeing. That is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Well after that very enjoyable and full day, I went to sleep quite early, as my short post predicted. I woke up early today and did a few chores this morning, including going to the bank, which took a very long time. I then went to uni, much later then I hoped, to get ready for the workshop. I had an absolute blast doing it, and I think A enjoyed it as well. The new postgrads were very cool and engaged. We had a nice chat with them. We tried to warn them as much as we could as well about mental health issues dealing with a PhD or an MA. Afterwards we went for a coffee with some of them, which was very nice. I don’t know if I’m being premature here, but I thought they were all very very nice. Me and A commented on how cool they seemed to be, on a human level. They felt like people you could really hang out with and have a nice time. They weren’t full of themselves or overconfident, and most importantly, they didn’t seem to suffer from centre of the universe complex (says the man who publishes all of his actions and thoughts, well a lot of them, on the internet because he thinks they are so interesting that people would like to read them on a daily basis).

After that A and I went to his house and played some playstation. I then went home, via the supermarket, had some food and sat to catch up on all the tv and radio I’ve missed while I was in Algeria. I’ve had to stop though in order to type this drivel, because I honestly believe that you the reader would be disappointed if I don’t produce something of substance on here. I really am mentally ill, I say I’m not but I clearly am. I think the voices in my head are another clue. So yeah, that’s basically it. I’m going to go back to my massive entertainment catch up, before going to sleep at some point before 3 hopefully.

Packing, Meet and Great, and Saying Bye

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Food, Friends, Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 30/09/2010 by arabrhizome

So I’m done packing for my trip to Algiers. It’s not like I need to pack a lot, I’m only going for a few days. I also had to clean up my flat a little bit. It’s quite a small flat and so gets cluttered very quickly and very easily. I am quite a weird worker as well, in that I need to have a bit of chaos around me to be able to work well. So I had to clear up the mess, as I wouldn’t like to come back to a messy flat. I have all my papers in order as well and I’m quite sleepy. So hopefully I’ll be able to sleep soon and wake up early tomorrow.

Before all that I went to the Work in Progress (WIP) plenary session and meet some of the new post-grads. It was nice hanging out with A and talking to some of the faculty. Also, it’s quite weird being one of senior post-grads. Me and A will have to act as the fathers to the new crop of students. I am not ready to be a dad! Especially with regards to the PhD. I don’t feel like I can guide them or give them any useful info, which is doubly bad as I have to prepare with A a session on good work habits and writing for next week. It’s okay though, as I had worked on a similar session last year with B. My WIP has also been scheduled for the end of October. I think I will rework the chapter I just finished and make it into a 40 minute talk, more or less.

We had to leave a little early though as we were going to meet up with Cy to say bye to her. She’s moving back to Paris to start a new job and I won’t be able to see her after today. We had fun at the bar/restaurant and enjoyed a few laughs. The food wasn’t great but the company was excellent and that’s what counts. Although it’s not really what counts at a restaurant. What counts is the quality of the food and it was a little sub par. I had the seared tuna which wasn’t very good. It just didn’t do it for me at all. So I’m not very happy with that place as a eatery.

I am looking forward to going down to London tomorrow and sleeping in the same hostel I slept at the night I started this blog. I haven’t decided when I exactly I will go down. I guess I’ll see how tomorrow goes and pay it by ear. I need to pass by Uni and claim one of the desks though. So I might do that tomorrow and get done with it.

I’ve downloaded season one of a series called Sanctuary to have something to do in Algeria when my dad is sleeping, which is very often. I’m hoping to do some work down there as well. I am now slightly regretting that I’m going, but nothing to be done about it. I really feel like hanging out with Z and spending a bit of time with her this weekend. But I guess it’ll have to wait for next weekend, if we have time. I am also regretting the fact that I will miss my tennis lesson on Sunday. I am going to play tennis next week though and try to make up for it.

Well that’s pretty much my day for you. I will be writing tomorrow’s post from its place of rebirth down in London. Now to go to sleep.

Cancellation and Absolutely Nothing

Posted in Culture, Me, Palestine, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , on 08/06/2010 by arabrhizome

Well being ill means I don’t really have much to write about. I’m just stuck at home doing absolutely nothing. Well trying to work but not being able to and just playing Fallout and watching the news.

As I have disclosed in my previous post, I decided on Monday that there was no way I was going to be able to make it to Tuesday’s WIP (if you don’t know what that means then you aren’t a faithful reader of my blog, how dare you?). I sent an email to R in order to tell her that I wouldn’t be able to make it. I felt really bad about it, but luckily someone filled in for me. I will present a paper early on next year in order to make up for this.

Other than that, I’m getting quite far in Fallout 3 and it’s not getting boring yet. In fact, it’s getting better and better. I’m particularly enjoying the music, it is incredibly well done. The songs are made to feel like they were written in the 1950s. The lyrics are very smart and well written, also quite funny. The Capital Wasteland is huge and fun to explore, there’s a huge number of side quests to keep you occupied. The whole game is quite immersive and very well produced.

That’s really all there is to say, except that on the flotilla front: it is emerging that the Mavi Marmara was fleeing away from Israel at the moment of the attack. It seems that everything that the israeli government has said turned out to be a lie. This article compiles the different instances where the israeli hasbara (read propaganda) was exposed by the internet. It is nice to see that the internet is making it difficult for the truth to stay hidden for too long.