Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rose of Sharon Progress

Mirabilia, Rose of Sharon

Last year I posted a picture of the progress I had made on a cross-stitch piece I was working on. Here's what it looks like now. As of last Spring I really hadn't touched this. I don't think it even left my cross-stitch bag for over 6 months. I was too depressed to take any interest in my hobbies, and the weight of me thesis lay pretty heavily on me. After my thesis defence I dug this out again, and slowly started to work on it. I come back to it for a few hours at a time when the mood strikes and can find it very therapeutic.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

If You Think Writing Exams Are Bad- Try Marking Them

I'm marking midterms this week. One of the essay questions my students have is on the German invasion of Russia during WWII. I was sitting outside on the back deck, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather while I marked, since marking isn't the most enjoyable past time. Late in the afternoon I came across a student who's answer made me laugh out loud. The essay was decent, but buried in a fairly serious and straightforward answer was the following bit which I've copied verbatim.

"Ultimately, the Nazi's were too far away from home if you will, and it was impossible to continue through the harsh temperature. The Soviets successfully dodged a bullet (or several!) by abandoning and retreating as the invasion progressed. In essence, the Fuhrer rolled the dice, and fortunately for humankind, he crapped out."

I've started a little collection of quirky and downright wrong, but hilarious answers. I've even scanned some of them since they're too unbelievable to be true without the proof- like academic urban legends. I ended up giving this student a 7/10 for his answer, mostly because he broke the monotony.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Odd Things

I was checking through my StatCounter this evening since I haven't looked in over a month to see what was going on. One person stumbled upon my blog after google searching for "bmw ph.d pretty impressive too."

Whatever it was they were looking for, I doubt they found it here, but it did make me laugh.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The "Drool Study" Begins

I signed myself up for a University study on the affects of exercise for those with depression a couple of weeks ago. After too many interviews and assessments to determine if my depression fits the criteria for what they are looking for, I finally started my sessions. This was the first week where I began my stretching group exercises, which are essentially a yoga and pilates routine with a small guided meditation at the end. I go three times a week for an hour at a time. For the most part there are usually only 3 people in the “lab” at a time- myself, another participant and the girl running the session. It’s a bit awkward at first since we both know why we are there and I’m guessing that like myself it’s not something they’re openly acknowledging to people.

This study has become known affectionately as the “drool study” in my house. The girls I live with know I joined up for a University led study involving exercise, however, they don’t know it’s for depression. One of the components of the study is that at various times during the 12-week intervention I’m required to submit saliva samples from 3 different times in an assigned day. This means that I drool, or spit, into a test tube through a straw. My samples are then frozen at home and brought in to my next session. The purpose of this is to test the levels of cortisol change in a predictable way throughout the day. Cortisol is the hormone produced in response to stress. Since I live with a bunch of Science major’s they have just assumed that the study is examining the affects of exercise on stress, which essentially is one of the aspects of it. The drool aspect has caused quite a lot of hilarity in the house, as well as curiousity. So much so that the girls wanted to take a peek at my frozen vials of saliva and where I was storing them in our freezer.

I can’t say that I feel any affects as yet, aside from a few sore muscles and my carpal tunnel wrist being aggravated. I find aspects of it calming and I do have hope that even this mild exercise will do something for me. At the very least the sun has been out more and the warmer weather has finally arrived. I’m still extraordinarily unmotivated, apathetic and I have had some really bad days in the last little while. Almost crying in seminar for no apparent reason is not a good thing.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Round Up

I took last week off from pretty much everything in my life- school, the blog, man issues, and worrying about the future. It was our Spring Break here at the New Uni, so I went back to my parents place to enjoy some peace and quiet on the Farm. I spent some quality time with my family, although I didn't get a chance to see the niece and nephew which was a bit of a disappointment.

I did however get to see my 92 year old Grandmother. I've been feeling really guilty for not seeing her in quite some time. This was brought home to me all the more strongly when she said that it was good I had come, she was forgetting what I looked like. I wasn't feeling all that up to the visit, but I'm glad I went. I know our time together is short, so every time I get to see her is special now. It was a good visit because I was able to get a few more pieces of information on our family history from my mother's side. The things my Oma has seen and done in her life time are extraordinary and makes me feel all the more blessed for living in a country like Canada.

I spent Saturday on a spontaneous road trip with my brother the World Traveller, his best friend and his best friends wife. We went looking for motorcycle equipment. Not that I have a bike, or a significant other with a bike, but it was a good chance to see my brother and something outside of school. The World Travellor and his best friend just traded in their sport bikes and bought BMW Tour bikes for their next great adventure. They're as excited as kids in a candy store and I'm happy for them. It's nice to see someone living their dreams and dreaming big. Plus, seeing the BMW showroom in Toronto was impressive, I'm not going to lie.

This week I had a psych evaluation to see if I qualified for the exercise and depression study I had signed up for. I just got word this morning that I'm in and I've been assigned to the stretching exercise group. As much as I would have liked to be in the cardio group, this is probably a better idea for me. I'm already pretty flexible and if this is a yoga/pilates type of program with meditation I will be able to do this on my own after the 12 weeks are done. I think learning a new way to deal with the stressors in my life is essential since I haven't been doing all that well lately.

After the psych consult I was asked if I would be interested in participating in other studies. The person administering the evaluation said that I was a perfect candidate for their work with depression and MRI's. I gave them my number and told them to let me know if they needed me. It sounds intriguing and I'm up for anything to help me at this point. I've had chronic depression for more years than I care to count and am willing to try just about anything at this point to help me out.