Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How Time Flies

As I looked at my Palm Pilot today to see what deadlines I have to reach in the next few weeks, I got a rude awakening. How fast time goes by!! Here are some of the things that surprised me:

1) We have already spent 3 months in Lancaster. It feels like we just moved in.
2) Summer is almost over though it feels like it just started.
3) My sister has been married for 6 months already.
4) We have had Giggs for over 2 months.

Is it just me? Have I not been savoring the days? Or has summer – and time – really flown by?


What we have been doing:

Family: My sister and Kenn came to visit this past weekend. We had a great time. I had tea with her, did a tour of Amish country, went to the outlet malls and showed her Millersville campus.

Work: Trying to get set up to start my first tenure-track job. Got passwords for email, Blackboard, the system which allows me to record grades; got keys for offices, classrooms etc; did IT training; ordered stationary; moved some books into the office; got ID; filled up some forms etc.

Writing: I have been trying to write my paper for APSA (also a diss chapter). Have not gotten far – maybe 5-7 pages into it.

Giggs: He has been doing well. We had our first chewing disaster. The victim was Gregg’s cell phone charger which got chewed into little bits.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I have heard of many ways to deal with stress but I am still trying to find a way that works for me. Recently, my stress level has been sky-rocketing. The reason is that I found out that I got two papers accepted to two conferences – APSA and Northeastern. While this is good news in some ways, it is bad news in others.

It is good news because I use conferences as deadlines for dissertation chapters. Therefore, I will have to write one chapter for APSA (end August) and the second for Northeastern (end November). This will simply leave me with the Introduction and Conclusion of my dissertation to tackle – I hope to have a complete draft by the end of the Christmas break.

However, writing two chapters in the next few months will be daunting – especially because I will be teaching 4 classes this semester with 2 new preps. I have been especially stressed because the discussant wants the paper for APSA 2 weeks before the conference – which will be around Aug. 15th. While this is a reasonable request, I also have a 7-day orientation at Millersville before that (from 9am-5pm) as well as a wedding to attend and 3 separate guests scheduled for 3 separate weekends. So, you can see why I am stressed!!!!

Gregg and I also completed our move out of Farmville two weekends ago. Spending 3 days driving 15 hours, packing, loading, cleaning and unloading simply added to the stress level.

Anyway, so I have been trying to lower my stress level using different tactics – unfortunately, none of them have been working very well. I am still walking around 2 miles a day on the treadmill but that does not seem to help. I am not the one to take long baths (while stewing in the tub, I tend to reflect on all the things I have to do). I have been cooking in an attempt to relieve stress. Also, working on the paper in small increments but it is not going fast enough. Lastly, I still spend time reading fiction (probably should work on the chapter at the time) – this is the only one which actually works.

So, what about you? How are you spending the remnants of your summer? And how do you deal with the stress of the coming year?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Food Waste and Inflation

I have stopped complaining about inflation for the past couple of weeks because it seemed so pointless to complain about something we are all going through. But while we complain about inflation, food waste is still rampant. I read two articles yesterday and this got me thinking about food waste.

This article talks about a new trend in the food industry. Since transportation and production costs has risen so much, producers have one of two choices: they can raise prices or they can sell smaller amounts for the same price. Some producers are taking the second approach. They are using the exact same packages and selling their products at the same price but they have decreased the amount in each package.

On the other hand, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that the people should cut back on food waste. It saves food and saves money for individuals. According to a recent study, families in the UK are throwing away a total of 4.1 million tonnes of perfectly good food every year, costing each around £420 annually.

So, how are these two articles related? Well, maybe people need to buy less – and selling things in smaller amounts would prevent food waste – or at least cut it down.

Personally, here is how we try to avoid wasting food:
I shop twice a week but buy just enough to get through till the next shopping trip. This is best done by planning meals beforehand.

I cook only once a day (if you do not count the oatmeal in the mornings) – lunch in always leftovers. This makes sure that leftovers are always consumed.

Fruits, veggies, meats and fishes are always bought in small quantities so that they do not go bad before they are consumed.

We try one creative meal a week – to finish anything which may go bad soon.

These are the things we could improve on:
We buy/make a loaf of bread per week but sometimes a little of it goes bad. I have been trying to put it in the ‘fridge to prevent that but it takes the freshness out.

We have some cans of food (turkey gravy etc) which we have not used. I think they sit on the shelf because they do not go bad quickly. I have been trying to use them up but I could be better at it.

What do you do to prevent food waste and what could you improve upon?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Experience at Wal-Mart

This is a true story of an encounter I had at Wal-Mart yesterday. I think this is only possible at a Wal-Mart and justifies why I hate the shopping experience I get at this store.

I was shopping at Wal-Mart (Gregg was in another part of the store) when an elderly woman (probably in her 50s) walked up to me. Here is the conversation which ensued:

Woman (handing me a card): “Excuse me but I am spreading the word that Jesus is our Lord. I have had many miracles in my Life through the word of our Lord and I want to spread word of these experiences.”

Me: “That’s nice. Thank you.”

Woman: “Where are you from?”

Me: “Virginia.” (I was afraid she would ask for my home address or phone number if I said PA).

Woman: “I mean, where are you from originally? Are you from India or Pakistan or something?”

Me: “I am from India.”

Woman: “Are you Hindu?”

Me (wishing she would go away): “Yes.”

Woman: “I asked because I did not see a nose-ring.”

Me (thinking: does she think Indian women are like tamed bulls – they all need nose-rings!!!): “Well, all Indian women do not wear nose-rings.”

Woman: “Really!! I did not know that. But I really think you should think about Jesus – He is our Lord. And as I have said, I have had many personal experiences in my life which I want to share – and they all come from Jesus Christ.”

Me: “That’s nice.”

That is when she finally walked away. Since she did not talk to anyone else around me (that I saw), my belief is that she stopped and talked to me precisely because she thought I looked Indian and therefore, assumed I was not Christian. She probably thinks all Indians are heathens. Wouldn’t she have been surprised if she ran into one of the millions of Indian Christians? Though after the nose-ring comment, I was not expecting much knowledge about the Indian sub-continent from her.

I do not mind if someone is super-religious and I do not mind discussing religion with others. But who walks up to a total stranger at a Wal-Mart to convert them? That is the type of person who I see as a nut and feel intensely uncomfortable with.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


As you know, exercise has never made my list of things to worry about. I do not like exercising and have always thought that it wastes time. Since I never exercise, my sporadic attempts at it leave me tired both mentally and physically. Therefore, I never get to the point where I experience the positives – the rush of energy, feeling good about myself, lethargy without exercise etc. This rejection of exercise is compounded by the fact that I have never felt a great desire to lose weight nor experienced any acute health problems due to my sedentary lifestyle. The only time in my life when I made an effort to exercise was in the months before my wedding because I was terrified that I would not be able to fit into my wedding dress.

However, exercise started becoming an issue last July when we moved to Farmville. With no friends around, with the pressure of a 3-4 teaching load for the first time and with the tenure-track application cycle, I felt stressed and irritable constantly. On top of that, this was the first time I did not walk anywhere. I started driving to school, not walking to campus as I did in Cville. I did not have to walk around campus much either. So, believe it or not, my lifestyle became even more sedentary than before. And I started putting on weight!!! All these reasons made us think of exercise more.

The question always was: what form of exercise regimen could I stick to? Gregg is more determined and will go out for walks. But I do not like walking outside when it is too cold or rainy. The other option is a gym membership – but I hate gyms. I do not like exercising in front of other people, I do not like fitting it in my schedule, and I do not like spending money on something I do not use. We could use the University gym but I do not like exercising around my students. The third option was to invest in some home exercise equipment. It would allow us to exercise every day in a private setting at any time we want. But we rejected that idea last year.

Since we have moved to Lancaster, however, Giggs has cut down on our stress level but the sedentary nature of our lives has still been an issue. Besides, I am still putting on weight. So, finally, this weekend, we bought a treadmill for the apartment. All I plan to do is walk on it for 30-45 minutes a day. I walked on it on Saturday and Sunday and though I am sore and tired, I plan to keep using it.

I know that most people exercise. Why do you exercise, when do you exercise, how do you exercise? Any tips on exercising on a treadmill will also be appreciated.

Fourth of July Weekend

Happy Fourth of July Weekend everyone!!! Gregg and I decided to spend the weekend being productive – in a wholistic way. On Friday, we got to hang out with Stacie, Evan and Sam. They were in Philly for the weekend and drove to Lancaster. It was Giggs’ first doggie play-date and given his hostile response to other dogs, I was not optimistic. But Stacie was very patient and came armed with a million treats and bones and toys. By the way, Stacie, Giggs has not let his rawhide bone go for the past 24 hours. Thanks for that!!

When Sam first walked in the door, Giggs started barking and this did not stop for the first 15 minutes. After that, he decided that he would walk over to Stacie who was sitting with Sam and accept some delicious salmon treats from her. It took 30-45 minutes of bribing Giggs with treats and threatening to spray him with water if he barked, for him to calm down enough to let him off his leash. After that, Giggs seemed to perk up, stopped barking and ran around the house checking to see where Sam was. However, the play-date was a little disappointing for Sam because Giggs refused to play with him. Poor Sam, he tried so hard. He sniffed Giggs (in some unmentionable places!!), he lay down, he rolled over – he tried to be as unthreatening as possible. Just for the record, Sam is 45 pounds to Giggs’ 7, so rough play might rightly have scared Giggs. A wagging tail from Sam is enough to knock Giggs over. However, Giggs did play when we took them outside – probably the space to run made him feel safer.

After a couple of hours when we were sure things were calm, we left the dogs at home (we separated them) and went out to get lunch. We went to the Iron Hill Brewery – it is a chain but limited to the PA, NJ, Delaware area. They brew a lot of their own beers. It was very nice catching up, I had not seen Stacie for almost a year – since APSA last year. Unfortunately, Stacie, Evan and Sam had to leave shortly after lunch but it was a great day for me nonetheless.

On Saturday, Gregg and I worked on our dissertations. I have to write a chapter on tragedy before APSA and Gregg is working on a chapter on our current President. The weird thing about writing a chapter of my dissertation for a conference is this: I have dual goals in mind. On one hand, I feel that if I reach 25-30 pages, I have a decent paper to present. On the other hand, it is not complete until I have covered the material I want to cover – and that has no page deadline. Right now, I am focusing on the first goal rather than the second.

We also walked 3 miles apiece on Saturday. We have made a new resolution – to exercise a little every day. The reasons for this and the best way to achieve this goal is something I will discuss in my next post. It was a big day for me – 3 miles for someone who never walks at all is a challenge.

Our goals for Sunday are more of the same – exercise a little, write a little, play with Giggs (which is part of our everyday lives now).
But this has been a fabulous weekend – hang out with friends, exercise (which is a new thing for me), play with your dog, and some work done on the dissertation. This is my idea of a well-rounded weekend.

What did everyone else do?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Email Addiction

I realized this last night: I have an email addiction. I am addicted to email in two ways: first, I have way too many email accounts and second, I check email too often. Part of my fidgety personality, no doubt.

I realized this when UVA sent us an email saying that we have to migrate our UVA accounts to either Google or Microsoft. I was immediately intrigued and since I have both a Hotmail account and a Gmail account, found it very hard to decide between them. Finally I decided on Gmail. Then I spent an entire evening not only setting up my new UVA gmail account but setting up Gregg’s as well. It will be cool to IM from the UVA email though.

Just to show how addicted I am to email, I have emails with the following: gmail (two emails with Gmail – one UVA and one personal), AOL, Hotmail, Hampden-Sydney and now a new one for Millersville. And I check them all.

It is strange the stuff you can be addicted to. I was addicted to coffee but I kicked that habit once I realized how addicted I was. I simply decided one day to stop drinking it and now only drink a cup a day. Yet, while I am concerned that I am addicted to email, I feel no desire to cut down on my accounts (or even forward messages from one account to another). Other than wasting time, what harm can it do?

Are any of you addicted to email? Or any other addictions you want to confess to?