August 2008


Satin Rouge happens to be one of my favorite Middle Eastern dance movies. Made in 2002, this midlife coming of age movie takes place in Tunisia. Lilia is a widow and spends her life taking care of her teenage daughter, who is- well, a teenager. Lilia is a proper woman in the eyes of society. After spotting her daughter taking Middle Eastern dance lessons,Lilia becomes more and more curious. She eventually finds her way to a late night cabaret and meets dancers, who encourage her to dance, and charming love interest.

This movie is thoroughly enjoyable just if you like this genre. Lilia does a lot growing as a person, and it’s generally a sweet movie. Dancing-wise, I really liked it. It isn’t the best dancing, but I like that, despite the late night cabaret, you see women having to learn how to dance and that the dancers are very kind and are respectable. I like that Lilia doesn’t completely change as person, ie. doesn’t go from being respectable to being indecent. The audience can see her change, but at the core, she still is who she was at the beginning.

I give this movie 4/5 stars. Very enjoyable for most people.

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Although the state of the economy (and my personal thriftiness) doesn’t allow for much back to school shopping, I began inventorying what I need or would like to have for the school year. My budget isn’t as tight as many grad students across the country (I receive an external scholarship, which pays for pretty much everything, plus TAing pays), but I don’t want to go spend-happy. I’d like to save some money for my future, and there are some trips coming. However, I do need some things. Besides the obvious (my textbooks, which I ordered last night), there are some other things for the school year.

  • Binders, pencils, and loose leaf. A lot of my binders are being used for archival purposes. I like to take my notes on loose leaf paper, and I’m out. Through loaning, I have very few pencils left and anticipate not having many by the quarter’s end.
  • Grading pens. I think I may try to get the physics department to pay for them. I like to grade in Sakura glitter Gellyroll pens. I had been buying them for years and didn’t use them much. Now that I have to grade, they come in handy. I don’t like the look of red pens, and black or blue blend in too much.
  • Winter coat. My winter coat survived 2 MA winters and one brutal winter in Chicago. It’s showing signs of wear. I also plan on getting a new one because last winter I desperately wished for a longer coat.
  • Yoga pants. I haven’t really bought exercise wear in a year or two. I do wear them a lot in winter, underneath jeans or skirts/dresses. They’re remarkably warm and aren’t too bulky under jeans.
  • Gaucho pants. I included a photo to the right in case people don’t know what they look like (no, that is not me). I know they aren’t the best looking pants, but layering them over a pair of yoga pants then putting a skirt on top of them kept me so warm this past winter. My other gaucho pants have been worn for two years frequently (they’re great summer/spring pants) and look like it. But at ten dollars a pair, I can’t complain.
  • Skirts. I wear skirts in winter primarily because I hate when the bottoms of my jeans get wet. I have never been comfortable with tucking them into boots, so I choose skirts. The yoga pants/gaucho pants/skirt thing is surprisingly warm and comfortable, albeit not particularly fashionable.
  • Flat shoes. I used to wear a lot of heels, but I decided to switch over to mostly wearing flats, because my toes were beginning to look unhappy from the heel wearing.

It’s hard to believe summer has gone by already :). I am looking forward to school, though.

I have begun the belt, but as with any creative process (or any process, like my research), there are unforeseen setbacks. My setback with finishing off the set is figuring how I want the belt. After playing with the fabric, I decided that sort of a poufy, ruched look to it is good and using the teal fabric that I used for the belt for bands all around it, to hold the ruching. I was going to have it tie on. However, the fabric doesn’t seem to flow right for the ties (it’s very stiff because of the metallic threads).

I do like the idea of having something hanging that moves. I decided against fringe, because making strong fringe by hand is difficult (don’t want the horror of beads flying everywhere during a spin) and I don’t want to add fringe to the bra in order for it to match the belt. I also like the tie aspect, because adjustable things make weight changes easier to handle.

I am so close to finishing and yet so far…

I began thinking about what I want mine to say. Generally speaking, I like to write things ahead of time and not look at them for a while. Then I open the file when I’ve completely forgotten what’s in it, so I essentially look at it through fresh eyes.I figure if it doesn’t make sense to me, it won’t make sense to anyone else. This method has yet to fail me.

I consider myself to be a decent writer, but I do struggle with personal statements. Sometimes, language fails to really describe what drives you to do things or pushes you into a career path. I think the way I can best describe it is why do you like certain foods? Or colors? Or people? A lot of the same criteria you define for liking sweet potato ravioli (it’s lunch and I’m hungry :)) holds up for other things, yet they just don’t cut it. Or sometimes a person can meet all your criteria, but you just don’t love him/her for whatever reasons. I feel like my interest in physics can’t easily be described.

And then there’s the word limit. Writing when you’re constrained is difficult. Part of the motivation for this blog is to improve my writing. I decided that I want to be succinct yet clear. I am improving on this, but I still have a long way to go.

I have old personal statements to use, so I’m not completely stuck with a fresh start. The old ones aren’t cutting it, though. I’ve changed enough, believe it or not, that the old ones aren’t jiving with me. I find it odd, since my research interests haven’t changed.

My plan of attack isn’t to write one yet (too many other things on my plate, like planning an engagement party, studying for the GREs, dance, and fighting my allergies), just to think it over and probably begin writing it in mid-September. I feel like the personal statement can really win someone over or make someone go “Eh.”

My shower clogged badly this weekend. My usual fix of baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water didn’t work (environmentally and kitty friendly). I had to call maintenance who was only available today. Me being me, I tried to fix it myself using harsh chemicals. That did not work, so I’ve been spending the last 24 hours or so trying to keep the cats away.

Thank goodness for being able to work from home. I did some light stuff with my research. A lot of people think the easy access to work at home is bad, but in this situation, it’s great. Now that my shower is clean, I can monitor things in my apartment, like the candles I’m burning to clear out the scent.

In terms of my research, I’ve been looking at a different, more recent data set in hopes of spotting other masers.¬† It’s the same source or object, just a different date for the data. It’s like taking data for the sun five years ago and taking the same type of data today. We’re still waiting for the other data; the man from whom we are receiving it is quite busy from what I understand. My work today (unless my advisor otherwise emails me) simply involved familiarizing myself with a new command in AIPS, which creates an intensity (sounds like what it is; strength) vs. time graph.

Here is one of them that I took screenshots of (I sent them to my advisor. I think it’s supposed to be 3 masers; hence the three very distinct peaks. I

I updated the Q&A section, if you are interested. Feel free to ask questions.

Snake Hips is a book I recommend to almost anyone. It is indeed a book about belly dancing (sort of), but beyond that, it’s a fun read about a woman trying to find herself.

Anne Soffee, after being dumped by a boyfriend and moving back home, takes up belly dancing. The book is about her adventures in dance, dealing with her family (they’re Lebanese), and dating various men. Soffee writes¬† like she’s telling her good friends a great story. It comes off very naturally and often funny.

I think my favorite part of this book isn’t the belly dancing but finding her own identity. Soffee tries to connect with her Middle Eastern heritage by taking the dance classes and dating men of that region. Identity issues in general interest me, but race ones are particularly interesting to me, because I’m an adopted Korean who has white parents. Quite a few of my friends who are born in the US but have strong ties to their racial identities struggle with similar issues as Soffee, so it was also helpful in understanding them. Soffee does a good job of navigating through them without bogging the book down in academic jargon and analysis; it’s a personal narrative after all, and it makes it a very interesting read because of that.

I definitely recommend it to anyone, regardless of their interest in dance. It is a part of the book, but it isn’t so much that you’re going to get bored or confused about what she’s writing. 5/5 stars.

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