Unscholarly

Friday, October 20th, 2017 10:49 am
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[personal profile] hollymath
I have a lot of reading to do, having somehow kept busy but gotten nowhere so far this week. And I'm away this weekend (with good intentions of reading on the train, but also...I've met me). So I'm trying to catch up now.

Some of it's hard going, but luckily some of it's also written by Geoff Pullum (a name anyone who reads Language Log might recognize and someone I learned I liked from there).
"A silly, infuriatingly unscholarly piece, designed to mislead" is what one irate but anonymous senior scholar called this chapter when it was first published in NLLT. But this is not correct; rather, what I have written here is a silly, misleadingly unscholarly piece, designed to infuriate. There is a huge difference.
May more of my reading be silly and misleadingly unscholarly!

One of Those Days

Monday, October 16th, 2017 03:48 pm
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Been a strange, nerve-jangly sort of day.

I missed a lecture because there were no fucking buses for 40 minutes. I know I could've turned up late but I was all wound up by then, and I can catch up because the lectures and slides are recorded.

We got the orange sun around lunchtime, it's clear and sunny here now (though still with particles of dust in the air hurting my eyes) but it's gone down south where a million more people are tweeting about it, and a million freaked-out status updates on Facebook and bad-joke tweets haven't helped somehow. That we feel such a sense of impending doom at such a minor change in the quality of the light makes it easy to see why humans had to invent religion.

I didn't feel doomy but I was also pretty sure it was something to do with the hurricane, and the hurricane is because of climate change and that make terrified and so miserable. My anxious brain told me "One day we'll look back on these as the good old days, weather-wise," because my anxious brain hates me.

I slept awfully last night. Went to bed early, woke up after midnight and didnt get back to sleep until five in the morning.

Andrew emailed while I was out saying the washing machine is broken, he thinks he can fix it but I'll need to help. But when I got back home he's out, so I'm sitting here writing this instead. I hope the washing machine's okay, we can't afford it not to be. Don't know where he is, but I think he was going to buy food. And I thought of something on my way home that I wanted but I forgot to tell him to get.

The people next door are having building work done on their house, and the loud whine of the drills makes it hard to concentrate or relax.

I need a hug or a cry or a sleep or a vacation. But none of those things seem like they'd be enough really.

It's fun to imagine where this year could take you

Saturday, October 14th, 2017 04:41 pm
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[personal profile] hollymath
I'm weirdly delighted at this card my grandma got Andrew for his birthday.

He didn't bother punching out and assembling the paper airplane, but I did!

"Maybe it's because she thinks of us as going to visit on a plane?" Andrew said when he'd opened the card and was telling me about the paper airplane in it.

It certainly makes me think of that, now.

I miss my grandma. It was nice to see her handwriting again. She doesn't do e-mail or cell phones or anything, but she used to write occasionally -- it's harder now, because of her eyesight -- and I wrote back, never often enough.

This time of year is often the worst for me missing people. One of the unexpected upsides of university is how much better I've handled the changing of the seasons because of it: I've been too busy to be wistful. But there are moments.

I'll write her a nice letter, thanking her for such a great card.

c.f. Garrison Keillor's Norwegian Bachelor Farmers

Friday, October 13th, 2017 09:45 pm
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[personal profile] hollymath
"The world's quietest room is in Minnesota," Andrew just told me. "That seems appropriate, somehow."

I had to laugh. Andrew still thinks my dad is so quiet he doesn't even say all the words in his sentences, and just expects the people around him to be used to him enough to fill them in.

(After he said this I paid extra attention the next time I was around my dad, and I'm sure he says all the words. But the fact that I found this plausible enough to have to check? Probably says a lot.)

Achievement unlocked

Friday, October 13th, 2017 09:03 pm
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First essay finished and submitted in time! Feels weird to be writing freshman essays again.

It has been a long day, at the end of a long week. Might go pour myself a drink. (That's certainly something I didn't do the last time I wrote my first freshman essay!)

Uncharted, unstudied

Thursday, October 12th, 2017 05:15 pm
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[personal profile] lilysea shared a great article on accessibility, or more accurately the lack thereof, at the University of Sydney.

It's fairly long, and all very good, but one paragraph from it particularly stood out for me. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.
For staff members, the situation isn’t much better. Dr Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes, a lecturer in Aboriginal education, is one of only eight blind and low vision academics in Australia. She estimates that she spends about 25 extra hours a week making up for inaccessibility. Turnitin and Grade Centre are both inaccessible for screen reading software, and PDF documents are “sheer hell”. And, unfailingly, the cobblestones. In order to avoid them, Sheelagh’s guide dog Nina insists on taking her on a roundabout route through the Law buildings.
Partly this is of course because I'm starting to navigate university life while partially sighted. PDFs are sheer hell and people think they're accessible because they're electronic like that's magic or something.

But what has stuck with me is the estimate of losing 25 hours a week to dealing with inaccessibility. I've said many times now I've spent more time and energy on dealing wiht the admin associated with being a student than I have on reading or writing or thinking or learning. It's not all directly related to inaccessibility for me, like in the article, but it all adds up to the feeling that like the feminist idea of women doing a "second shift" of work when they get home from the dayjob to cook and clean and look after children, I have a second shift of sighted-guide-wrangling, getting lost today on my way to a new building (not something I could wrangle a sighted guide for in time because I didn't have enough notice), being distracted in a meeting by an ankle that was sore because I'd just fallen up some stairs on the way to it, waiting for the next bus after one zoomed past me at a stop today which they're not supposed to do, deciding whether any individual thing is worth complaining about...

I don't know how many hours I spend dealing with inaccessibility a week, but this academic's phrase reminded me of a poem I adore, "Girl Hours", which is actually about a kind of Hidden-Figures set of women in the late 19th century. The director reckoned the difficulty of astronomical projects in "girl hours," the number of hours these human computers would need in order to do the work. There must be some equivalent in disabled hours.
Oh bright rain, brave clouds, oh stars,
oh stars.

Two thousand four hundred fires
and uncharted, unstudied,
the hours, the hours, the hours.

DSA assessment

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 09:06 pm
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Wrote half an essay (only 500 words! I wrote an intro and a sentence for each point I want to make and that was almost 200 words itself! but still) tonight so I don't have a lot of energy left but I wanted to note that the DSA assessment went well. It took a really long time though, almost three hours (when your most knowledgeable friend says their eleventy billion wonky impairments only required two-hour DSA sessions, you know it's a long time!).

My biggest problem now is that I went home wanting all the kit right away. Can I have that software to work on my essay (no, it's due Friday). Can I have the biiiiiig monitor? Can I have the thing that only zooms the part of the screen you need it to (I actually found out today that Blackboard has "high contrast" and "text zoom" in its settings, but when you click on them all it says is "right, you need to use your browser/OS settings to do this"! thanks and all but that doesn't work very well you bag of dicks!)

The guy made some good points, like that he recommends screenreaders not just for blindy mcblindfaces like me but people who "just" have the anxiety/depression side of things because it affects their -- our -- ability to concentrate so much and for some people it's easier to listen than to read. I know this is certainly true for me (and I know it won't be for many other people! I know lots of neurodiverse people and that can include auditory processing issues as can lots of other things) but never thought it was anything more than my eyes causing that.

He generally talked about the anxiety and depression only in terms of disrupted sleep, poor concentration, things like that. Didn't insinuate that I didn't really had it or it isn't really real or any of that shit. It was the least stigamtizing experience I've ever had talking about my mental health, I think! Really refreshing. Especially because he's an older chap with a very northern accent and stereotypes mean I'm not used to such people talking about mental health; it'd be like hearing my dad say "anxiety" or "depression" which I don't think has ever happened! But he was really matter-of-fact about it, which of course you'd hope for in his job but I've met plenty of people whose jobs should have made them good at it who are not good at this, so I expect nothing and that means I got to be pleasantly surprised.

I'm not quite done yet; the guy wants me to come back to talk to one of their suppliers about the particular kinds of software and some kind of OCR-machine that he is (and I am) sure I'll benefit from but there are different kinds and there's no way to know what will suit me without me trying them. That was going to happen tomorrow but now can't happen then; it should be on Friday, which suits me better anyway.
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A very long description of all the problems I've had with my 'mobility support' at school. )

I don't want a lot of earnest apologies like I got last Friday. I don't want the emotional labor of dealing with that. I just want to have energy to do more than one thing in a day, to not always feel overwhelmed, to not have this conviction that if I had only my homework to do my life would be a lot easier than with all this disability admin to do too.

And as if to prove that last point, I don't just have one seminar that I've done and enjoyed the reading for, I have DSA Study Needs Assessment tomorrow, which I am really not looking forward to because they're going to want to know why I don't use magnifciation (it doesn't help my eye condition, which no one believes even though its Wikipedia page even says so) and why I don't use a screenreader (I sometimes do but they suck more than not using them for a lot of things! c.f. all these books the library says are available electronically but with all the copy-protection, when you navigate to them the screenreader just says "graphic"). Magnifiers and screenreaders are supposed to fix all blindies' problems, so when I say they don't people usually think I'm the problem.

I've been so grumpy for at least a week that I don't feel like I'm a good advocate for myself or what I need at all, right now, and I really need to be.

And tired. Mad and tired.

Saturday, October 7th, 2017 08:31 pm
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I have a sore bit of skin where my bra has rubbed on it because bras are terrible and all betray you eventually.

I realized in the familiar feeling of frustrated despair at this that I'm gonna have to wear a bra every day for the rest of my life and I'm so mad about this.
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