2011 By The Numbers
Dec 31st, 2011 by Dr Karma

17 classes taught

1 rear-ending while in Vanessa’s car by Vanessa’s student, who later became my student (Davis is small)

2 trips to LA with Denise to visit the wonderful people at The Simpsons, where we got to tour the animation building, watch them record the music, and watch them record the voices. 

1 amazing day watching Alexander’s robotics team (of which he was President) win the regionals, so they could go on to the International FIRST competition

1 conference in London, where I got to see Liam and Courtney and Chaz, to meet Carmen, who has offered to marry me when I get serious about moving to England, and to present on Octavia Butler

1 magical conference in Alcala, Spain, the birthplace of Catherine of Aragon and Cervantes, where the University was founded in 1499, and where I spoke on Buffy comics and found Duff Beer!

1 endoscopy, 1 MRI, 2 neurologists, 2 ER visits, 5 allergy shots every other week

1 summer of dead electronics: 2 computers, 1 DVD player, 1 phone, 1 car, 1 watch

1 day at WonderCon with April and Alexander (with 1 meeting of Berkeley Breathed)

2 students who said I kept them from dropping out; 3 students who said I saved their lives 

2 plays at The California Shakespeare Festival

1 viewing of John Leguizamo’s amazing new show                                                  

2 cats (Osiris and Mahahes) after Isis ran away

1 wine-tasting afternoon with Rae

1 taking over the editorship of Prized Writing

1 Tim Burton exhibit

1 trip to Ashland to see 4 amazing plays with Dan

1 getting to hug Scott Thompson after seeing him with Kevin McDonald

2 trips into San Francisco, to see Stuffed and Unstrung and Richard III with Kevin Spacey

1 Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones

2 Grandparents who renewed their vows

1 giant (several pounds) application for a three-year contract at Davis

2 visits to Davis by Zach Weiner, author of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

1 replacing Mindy (temporarily) as friend to Vickie (due to computer literacy)

3 websites that regularly feature my writing, though I’ve just quit one:;;

2 Christmas trees (one taken down in time for Martin Luther King Jr Day; one put up the Saturday after Thanksgiving)

1 month of time travel dreams induced by the writing of a soon to be published paper on Time Travel in Star Trek

1 surprise party thrown for me on Father’s Day by my friends who wanted to celebrate the successful parenting of my beloved child (and yes, I was surprised)

40-something weeks of book group (which has been running about 8 years)

4 movies at the French Film Festival                       

1 Doctor Who Experience!

4 university committees & 3 journals served on

1 Christmas in Florida

12 months of teaching, with nary a break

52 weeks of great friends, new and old recipes, and wonderful reads

1 completed child, turned 18 and sent to college

1 2011 list completed, to be sent to you with my love, Karma


The Christmas Tree
Dec 23rd, 2011 by Dr Karma

I had to leave my darling Christmas Tree with my friends looking after it to head to the South for Christmas. Those who’ve been to my house know that my tree goes up the first possible moment after Thanksgiving and stays up well into January.

I have a fascination with Christmas trees–when I was a child, I would play with the giant one my step-father would put by the spiral stairs for hours. My smaller dolls would make nests in the tree, talking to various humanoid ornaments.

I can’t play with the tree much anymore. My allergies to all things natural–including every kind of tree–means that decorating is a trade-off in happiness and welts. Still, having a tree up is worth it to me. Here’s this year’s:

Yes, that’s Katharine Hepburn behind the tree. And then there are Simpsons:

My major award (I’m glad it didn’t break in transit; I think it’s from Italy):




And the strangest ornament I’ve ever seen. This is a Disney ornament, from the Disney store. So why is there an Imperial Walker on it (with a Christmas wreath)? The mystery remains.

Vanessa gave me a brand new ornament right before I left–one with Beyonce the Chicken, but I didn’t get a picture yet. Next year!

On the Endoscopy
Dec 10th, 2011 by Dr Karma

So this week I went to the ER on Tuesday because my back was out. The medications I could take were severely limited because of my upcoming endoscopy on Friday. In fact, I had to go off all pain medication on Thursday because of the 2 day fast that was supposedly required (pain medication + empty stomach = nausea). On Thursday night, I started my “cleanse,” which required me to visit the bathroom very often, even though it hurt to walk there.

Soon after being taken in by the nurse Friday, I noted something seemed wrong. She asked when I’d last eaten and drank. When I told her I hadn’t had anything to drink since the night before, she declared me “hard core.”

Now, of course I am hard core, but following medical instructions isn’t usually what gets me labeled so.

When the nurses were then putting all the fun bruising apparati on me (including the blood pressure cuff, which left lines of red scratches on my arm from monitoring me during the procedure), I made a joke about the cleansing fluid.

Nurse: Why did you drink that?
Me: It was at the pharmacy for me. With instructions. Someone ordered it for me.

One of the nurses disappeared. A few minutes later, the doctor appeared, apologizing profusely for my having done the cleanse. “No one should have to do that when they don’t have to.” They all promised to find out who had ordered the vile solution by mistake.

Then they put me to sleep. They found some “spots” to biopsy. I would have asked what that meant, but I was still pretty drugged up in the post-op talk.

More news to follow, presumably.

London, part 4
Dec 9th, 2011 by Dr Karma

When I last left off my London diary, I was just getting to the fireworks. I was there for my first Bonfire Night! Bonfire Night originally started as a celebration of the capture of Guy Fawkes and the King’s surviving an assassination plot. In later years, it became an anti-Catholic holiday. Now, it’s a night for revelry and drinking.

The fireworks in the park were the best I’ve ever seen. They were set to music, beautifully choreographed, and very long. There were some types I’d never seen before, including ones that looked like giant gold fans of light coming up from the ground. We drank our mulled wine and soaked in the colors.

Then we headed back to Courtney and Liam’s friends’ house, where there was drinking and dancing and glowsticks. It was like I was seeing a part of the 90s that I missed somehow. A frenchman in the garden charred the outside of some meat and kept sticking it into my mouth before I could protest. A englishman arranged my glowsticks so they were illuminating my cleavage, popping at intervals out of my bra like the Statue of Liberty’s crown spokes.

When we got back to C and L’s, I was covered in smoke from the smokers in the garden, but we fell asleep anyway and slept late.

I made my way back to Chaz and Carmen’s later that day. We feasted at a Chinese/Indian fusion place close to their house. Wonderful duck, amazing fish with Indian mint sauce. For once, we got to bed at a decent hour, and then Carmen and I were up to museum. We hit the British museum to see treasures old and new. We came across an exhibit I’d seen before–the pills an average Westerner will take in his/her life.

Check out the exhibit here:

Afterwards, we headed to Nando’s (Carmen was wonderful to indulge my obsession). Then she took me to the geek store–Forbidden Planet, where we got lost for several hours. After coffee, we split up so I could go meet Courtney.

We were off to have dinner with some friends of hers. There was an amazing pumpkin soup, mushroom risotto, jacket potato, and juniper chicken. I wish I could have finished it all, but I filled up on the richness too quickly. C and I had to leave before dessert. I got home in time to see Poirot solve a mystery and then went to bed.






The most beautiful tree at its most beautiful time.
Dec 4th, 2011 by Dr Karma


I have a favorite tree on campus–an autumn gold. I walk past it almost every day; there’s only one time of year it’s this beautiful. The other morning I snapped these pics:

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