Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Harley Davidson in Arabic

So a friend asked me to help a friend who needed someone to look at slides in Arabic and see if the font displayed correctly/the translation was okay, etc.  I said sure I could look at them.  As it turns out, they were slides to train motorcycle club officers, and thus I have now learned a lot of terminology (in English and Arabic) about organizing motorcycle rides.

I'm not sure exactly who this is being distributed to, but it raises interesting sociolinguistic issues.  The English presentation was very informal and full of slang.  The Arabic presentation was in full-blown Modern Standard Arabic, which is definitely not the language of motorcycle clubs (which I'd imagine is actually English in most places, at least for motorcycle related things).  So the words made sense, at least when the translator hadn't tried to literally translate English slang, but . . .

I was also thoroughly unimpressed with the translator's grammar, which required considerable correcting. Then again, the people who attend this training are probably not spending a lot of time sitting around making sure ism and khabr kaana are in the correct cases.

Then there were the instructions about respecting the lanes on the highways, and not passing out of turn.  All I can say is if you're riding in an Arab country--hah! Don't you know that your motorcycle is supposed to go wherever it fits with an inch to spare?

I'd imagine that this presentation is going to the Gulf, as that's the only place I can imagine that would have people rich enough to buy Harleys that don't speak English at a high level.  From a linguistic and cultural standpoint, it would definitely be fascinating to watch this presentation in real life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peeking out from under cover letters

So most of the jobs I am applying to were posted the second week in September, with a deadline five short weeks later.  Five weeks would be okay, but most of my recommenders want to see my application materials to help them write their letters, which means that in order to give them a reasonable time to write the letters, I basically had to produce all of my materials (teaching philosophy, research/teaching/special cover letters, etc.) right away.  Thus, the last two weeks have been pretty miserable, as I crammed this in on top of finishing my second dissertation chapter, data processing, teaching, and fellowship obligations.  I emailed everything off tonight, finished the two hours of grading I'd put off due to these letters, and will be catching up on data entry, laundry, blog reading, and everything else I didn't do these last two weeks this weekend.  Hopefully, future jobs ads will require the same set of materials that this set does, so things won't be quite so miserable, but who knows?

Monday, September 12, 2011

First day of dance class!

Scottish Highland classes started today.  I'm teaching one day a week, and this was my day to teach.  I will have four classes this year: Primaries (dancers under 7), Beginners, a Stamina/Strength/Core/Stretching training class, and finally ending with Novice/Intermediate level dancers (a competitive level up from beginner).  Day 1 is over, and I am exhausted.  The training class is pretty exhausting on it's own, but I also have to do a lot of demonstrating in the other classes.  Not to mention teaching 3-8 year olds is like herding cats.  At least my cats follow freeze-dried salmon treats.  Any ideas on what the 6 year old equivalent of freeze-dried salmon is?  Nevertheless, I'm satisfied.  I love Highland, and I love teaching dancing, especially after a day of disserating.  Some people might see hobbies as a distraction, but I truly believe that I am a better academic because I dance, and a better dancer/ teacher because I'm an academic.  They are complementary, rather than contradictory, and I am trying my best to work out my life such that I never have to give up one for the other (something of a geographical challenge).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Library Memories

Today, I finally got my library card for the local library (a different system than the last time I was in University Town, as I lived in a different spot).  The library is only open for a few hours on Sunday, and it was packed, absolutely teeming with children and their parents as well as elderly couples.  The parking lot was full, something almost unheard of for this excessively car-friendly part of the country unless there is a football game.

My library growing up was never packed (well, unless you count it's bookmobile days, when five was a crowd), but I did spend a great deal of time there as a child.  Getting my first library card was one of the happiest days of my life, although there was some difficulty afterwards when I wanted to check out fourteen books for a four-week period, and the librarian didn't believe I would read them all.  (As usual, not only did I read all of them, but also all the books my brothers checked out).  Then I ran out of books in the fiction section of the library, and had to beg my mother to go to the district library instead of the local one.

In these days of Amazon and my Kindle, the well-worn pages of library books tend to look a little dingy, and I am snarkily judgmental of exhibits like "we are all multicultural!".  But still, if I believed in Heaven, I believe it would look just like a public library.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Unexpected benefits of the job market

When I think about the path my dissertation has taken so far, I imagine myself walking in the woods.  I saw an interesting trail, and walked down it, at each fork in the road taking the one that looked most interesting.  Somewhere along the line, I entered an environment very different than the one I started out in, in the sense of moving from a deciduous mountain range to rainforest.  Then, I saw some bright and interesting birds, started chasing them, and inadvertently wandered off a cliff, where I'm now desperately grabbing at the roots of assorted trees to keep from falling.  In short, I feel as though I've wandered to a place where my background in deciduous forests is no longer of use, but I haven't figured out the rainforest yet, including how to survive in it.

This, however, is not the type of thing that one can write in a job application.  The focus has to be on what I can do.  Which, as I was pleased to discover in looking at my CV and the course list of one of the jobs I'm applying to, is a lot.  Yes, I can teach a good chunk of your courses.  I do have experience that looks really good when you list it all together.

So yes, I still have to deal with the shittiness to come of well, we don't actually want all that stuff you can do or think this person can do it better.  But at the moment, as I struggle with all of the things I feel like I don't know well enough in the rainforest, it's nice to know that my travels have led to me knowing something!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pants, Accomplished

Shortly before the beginning of the school year, I realized I had only two pairs of dress pants.  Since I teach three days a week and tend to avoid jeans to look older and the climate around here only permits skirts for about two months of the academic year, this was a problem.  The bigger problem is that I hate shopping for clothing, and especially pants, which really have to fit in a particular way to look good on me.  Thus, I tend to go shopping for pants only every 5-6 years, when the pants I bought not the last time, but the time before have worn out leaving me with only two pairs.

Luckily for me, in the time since I last went shopping, my mother discovered Chicos, a store that caters to larger* (but not really large) women in their 50s-60s.  We are similar shapes, so she bought me a few pairs of jeans.  I loved them.  So, when my husband and I were wandering around the tiny town where we went to a dance competition this weekend** and I saw a Chicos store, I figured this would be my opportunity to get dress pants. I got off to a false start, somehow choosing a bunch of slim leg pants (this information was on a tag buried in the pants).  These not only looked terrible on my pear shape, but were actually too tight in the calves (thanks Highland Dancing).  However, armed with the knowledge that I needed to look for the tag with the leg shape, I found three pairs of pants that fit just like my jeans, which means, happily, that I am done pants shopping for another 5-6 years!  Now, if I can just find a pair of teacherly black sandals, the torturous Fall shopping will be complete!

So, for any pear-shaped readers, I highly recommend Chicos flare leg or trouser leg pants.  It is kind of annoying to have to figure out your size at yet another store, especially when there is no correlation with sizes at other stores, but the pants are really fantastic.

*I am not really in the larger category, but as a size 8 wear the second smallest size in the store (a 0--the sizing is bizarre, but the fit is great so I deal)

**I got third! And won the choreography competition! And my husband competed in the Daddy Pas de Basques! It was exciting!