That's Just Speechie!

The wandering ramblings of a Speechie Student at the UofA.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Well, guys - I think it's time. My life gets more and more focused around things that are not particularly bloggable, as they're either confidential or personal. Thanks for reading and commenting and just being interested in what was happening.

Cheers to you,

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wherein Ela remembers how much she likes a schedule.

Good evening friends!

It hasn't been too long since the last post (about 2 weeks, maybe?), but SO MUCH has happened! I spent days following my last post wrapping up clinic (hectic), CUP (enjoyable - I love presenting at the workshop*), and thesis ethics (currently being edited). I then spent the weekend organizing my stuff, and Sunday evening I headed out on the highway.

I'm back in my old bedroom, but my mum has completely redone it, and it's lovely. My parents were so cute my first night here... mum was bringing me towels (I do happen to know where they are, I did live here for 18 years!), and dad was telling me again and again to just help myself to whatever I want. He also reminded me of the one house rule: You can have whatever you want, but if it's the last one, make sure you write it on the list. Living with my folks is working out really well. It doesn't hurt that they're spoiling me rotten - my laundry miraculously gets done, dinner is on the table about 1/2 an hour after I get home, and if I write what I want on this little piece of paper by the phone, it shows up in the fridge a day or two later. It's like magic!

Aside from all of the spoiling, it's really nice to spend some time with my parents and grandparents. They're all pretty neat people, and I'm really enjoying being able to see them all a little more often.

Another nice thing is that I'm back on a strict schedule, and I'd forgotten how much I love it. Last semester was sort of all over the place, time wise (Monday and Wednesday at CUP, Tuesday and Thursday at clinic, Wednesday afternoon and Friday off...), and I didn't realize how tough that was for me. Now....

Monday- Thursday: I get up at about 6.15. I get dressed, go for a 30 minute run (I can run ALL THE WAY across Wetaskiwin in 15 minutes. That boggles my mind. I can't get ANYWHERE in Edmonton in that short a time!), come home, clean up, eat breakfast, make my lunch, and go to work. I come home from work, eat supper, do the dishes, do 40 minutes of toning with weights, watch some TV, talk to Jason on the phone, surf the 'net, etc. At 10.00 I get into bed. I read for 30 minutes. Then I turn out the light, and go to sleep. I like it!

Friday: Pretty similar to M-R, except that after work I drive to Edmonton. I eat dinner with Jason, I don't do any weights, and I probably stay up later than I should.

Saturday: I do as little as possible. No run, no weights, no work. It's nice. :) This will change when my ethics edits get back...

Sunday: Get up, go to church, hang out, drive back to Wetaskiwin at about 7, do my weights, get ready for Monday, into bed at 10, read for half an hour... :D

But the REALLY COOL thing is that stuff that happens in-between eating breakfast and coming home for supper: my placement.

Let me just say this: I LOVE MY PLACEMENT.

Today, I had one little guy from about 9-10. After lunch, I was walking through the halls to another child's classroom, and he spotted me.

"Are you coming to pull me out?" he asked hopefully.

"No, but you get to come and see me again on Friday," I told him.

"Friday?" he asked sadly. "That's a long way away."

I never thought I'd love pre-school/school-age treatment this much. But it isn't just the kids, as wonderful as they are. I have an amazing supervisor, who totally *gets* how independent I am, and who lets me run my own show. Nevertheless, she's incredibly supportive and is always willing to give me advice, or to jump in when what I'm doing isn't working. She is just FANTASTIC. And the Wetaskiwin SLP materials room is just awesome. They have every game, every book, every resource... all organized, all in good condition. I love going in there and poking around - you just never know what you might find!

My caseload is exciting and varied - from kids who are struggling with just one sound to toddlers who aren't making good eye contact to a stuttering case. I'm getting to see it all, and I couldn't be happier.

Great and varied clients + Excellent materials and resources + Superb clinical supervisor = one heck of a practicum. I love it.


*One participant told me that I was obviously very comfortable with my material, and that I had a great presentation style. "You didn't say 'um' or 'like' once!" It was such a nice compliment.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Her name is Artemis.

I'd like you all to meet my newest friend. Her name is Artemis, and she is a beautiful, beautiful thing. She's actually a Leopard, despite the fact she looks like a compound bow. I just got her yesterday, (at my now beloved Sherwood Park Archery Lanes, land of the best customer service ever!), and she has already helped me to hit a bullseye! It was a very exciting moment, and I believe the older, redneck men at the lanes were somewhat entertained by my victory dance.

Buying a bow is a neat-o kind of experience. I decided to not go with a package, since it came with several features that I was really not very interested in (like an attached quiver - useful for hunting, but kind of awkward for target shooting). This meant that first I had to choose my basic bow. This involved me shooting them - but since they have no sights, my aim was WAY off. That was a little embarrassing - I actually shot one about 8 feet above the target. Whoops! Once you choose the bow (I went with the lightest one with the lowest amount of draw weight [it takes me about 35-40 lbs. to draw, more about that later] - I must not be as strong as I thought. More push-ups! More planking! More archery!), you choose your rest, your sight (improves my aim enormously!), and your release.

In order to facilitate a smooth release of the bowstring, most compound bows are not drawn with the archer's fingers. Instead, the archer wears a cuff with a clip on it around her wrist. She clips the 'release' (the cuff) to the bow string and draws back. Once she's found her target, she gently pulls a trigger that is attached the clip. The clip opens, the arrow is loosed, and the target is hit (we hope!). Here's a picture of one to help you imagine what it looks like.

It's a very cool system, despite feeling REALLY weird the first couple of times.

So as I mentioned before, this bow only takes me about 35-40 lbs. to draw the bowstring back. I say 'only' because this is pretty low in the world of archery. Jason's bow requires about 55 lbs., and the young man who was helping me yesterday draws about 65 lbs. Despite being low, it feels like a lot. :) The cool thing about compound bows is that there is a 'let-off.' If you pull the bowstring back far enough, the pulley system kicks in (in a magical, physics kind of way that I don't understand at all), and about 75% of the weight is let-off. That means I stand there holding about 10 lbs. - a manageable amount that lets me hold for quite a while while I line up my sight. Very neat.

Clearly, I'm really liking archery. Know what else I love about it? The verbiage: quiver (holds your arrows), fletcher (makes arrows), bowyer (makes bows), loose (releasing an arrow), nock (loading an arrow)... the words are so lovely. There's just one sad thing - there's not a really good verb for archery. Basically, it's "I'm going to do some archery." You don't say "I'm going arching" because that just sounds goofy. You could say "I'm going target shooting," but then your listener doesn't know if you mean guns or bows, and most people will assume it's guns. I was so saddened by this that I went a-googlin' to try and find a better phrase. I came up with an older phrase, almost archaic sounding, but very cool - 'loose.' (And if you're not very good, or you're me shooting sightless, that might be 'lose!')

I'm going to loose some arrows. Be back later.



Thursday, March 27, 2008

Archers, fletchers, and bowyers, oh my!

Hello guys!

Look, look, I'm posting again! Go me. :) It's a good day - I went through my 'Clinical Completion Checklist' for this term's clinic, and I ticked off all of the boxes - done! What a great feeling to have all of those loose ends tied up. Tomorrow is CUP's Community-Based Research Workshop #2 - Doing CBR Well: Ethically and with Rigor. I'm presenting a morning section on the traditional/conventional ethics system, and I'm going to have to spend some time this afternoon going over what it is that I want to say. I'm looking forward to it - these workshops are very cool, and I've enjoyed every one that I've been to. And come about 4.30, when it's all wrapped up... then CUP will be done, too - at least until July. *grin*

On Tuesday, we had some "Auntie, Jason, Jacob" time, and we took ourselves down to the Sherwood Park Archery Lanes. I cannot recommend this place enough. We showed up knowing pretty near to nothing, and they were so helpful. The gentleman set us up with rental gear, showed us how to do everything, and let us try it a few times to get started. Then he came back over, made things a little tougher (but better!), gave us a few more tips, and let us try it a few more times. He continued to do that throughout the evening - give us something new to try, then go away and let us try it. He was so patient and so kind - a truly excellent teacher. Also, when Jason turned out to be too big for the rental bows, he allowed J. to use a non-rental bow (whether it was his own or perhaps a store model?) that was worth about $1000. After about 2 hours, I went to pay, and they only charged us for the rentals and ONE hour, saying that they were just glad we'd come out to give it a try, and they hoped to see us again. Jason had eight zillion questions about the different types of bow (compound vs. recurve, men's vs. women's), and the man answered every one of them patiently and intelligently, and he never pushed us to buy a thing.

Jason and I went to our respective jobs on Wedensday, and we both were telling our co-workers about our evening's activity. My co-worker said "Awesome - old school bad-assery!" Jason's co-worker said "Hey, I want to go! Are you free Friday?" So we're going to check out a Spruce Grove Archery place tomorrow night. I'm pretty pumped! Jason (of course) caught on to the whole thing really fast, and he was pretty darn accurate after a couple hours. I wasn't nearly as good, but the vast majority of my arrows were on the target (let's not discuss how close to the middle!), and I really enjoyed it. And Jake, despite having a bow that was a bit big for him (they must not rent to very many kids), did a great job, too. It was such a fun time, and I'm excited to go again tomorrow. Jason and I are even batting around the idea of buying our own bows - we'll just have to see!

But that's tomorrow - and first there's tonight! We're having a CUP girls' night, starting at the Chocoholics' Buffet at the Sutton Place Hotel. Mmmm, chocolate. Good thing I've been running and weight-training again! Then we're going to play video games, which should be lots of fun.

Well, I'm off to practice my workshop presentation - wish me luck!


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's only been 24 days!

Really! It's only been 24 days since my last post. I'm certain I've gone longer than that before... and yet my silent stalker has raised her voice and asked for more! Makes me feel kinda special, actually *tear*.

So, more! Hmm. More... More what? Not a whole lot happens in my life these days that is terribly bloggable, some of that due to confidentiality (no client stories here) and sheer uninterestingness (I think it's sad that Jason managed to cut my toe the other day when he stepped on me, I'm not so sure anyone else cares). But I shall endeavour to tell you... more!

Thesis. I successfully defended my thesis proposal on 29 February. Since then, I've been working on my ethics application. It's currently a completed draft, sitting with my supervisors. Once they give it the thumbs-up, it will be sent in to the Health Research Ethics Board. Once approved, I can actually commence my focus groups and such. Sadly, until they give it the thumbs-up, my thesis is on hiatus. Not much happening there. Not that it stops hovering at the back of my mind and nagging me, or anything. There's just not a whole lot I can do about it. :)

Clinic. It's our last week of clinic at Corbett. This means tying up loose ends: writing reports, evaluating the experience, evaluating our supervisor, etc. We're going to have a princess party on Thursday, which will be fun. There will be balloons and bubbles and an obstacle course. Woot! I am also required to be evaluated, but happily for me, I got that out of the way last week. My final evaluation went really well, and my supervisor's and my opinions about my strengths and challenges were nicely parallel. She's an excellent clinician as well as an excellent supervisor - I think that I will miss her.

My next clinic experience starts on Monday, 31 March - which is not so very far away. I'm feeling a little nervous about the change, to be honest! It's in Wetaskiwin, which means that I'll spend M-F there, living with my parents, and the weekends here in Edmonton. I'm not too excited about the driving, but I think living with my folks will be pretty mellow. They're pretty cool, when it comes down to it, and hey, who can say no to free food? :D The neat thing about this placement is that the only treatment I'll actually do in Wetaskiwin will be with pre-schoolers at the health unit. Other than that, I'll be working at schools in Millet and Hobbema.

Hobbema presents an interesting challenge, because traditional language tests normed on white children are often inaccurate for Aboriginal children. English is used differently in the Aboriginal community. For example, longer pauses in between people speaking is considered normal in thier community, where in ours it likely would create awkward silence. Also, the Aboriginal culture tends to give more credit to the listener's intelligence - so the speaker might talk around his/her point, expecting the listener to be smart enough to figure out what the point is for him/herself. In our culture, talking around the point means that the speaker is unable to get to it, and is considered a bad thing.

Given these challenges, I was feeling a little worried about this portion of the placement. I want to provide good quality treatment to all the kids I see, and that means knowing how to conduct a good assessment. But we don't learn very much about assessing minority cultures in our program. What was I to do?

Go to work, of course! My research assistantship has NOTHING to do with speech-language pathology. It's not affiliated in any way, and the work that I do for them is not speech related either. Nevertheless, sitting at my cubicle one day, I overhead co-workers talking about 'culturally sensitive language assessment in the Aboriginal community.' I was out of my desk like a shot! I flew through the maze of cubicles, stuck my head 'round the corner, and said "Hi, I was eavesdropping. Tell me more?" Turns out that several of my co-workers (who are on a different project than I am) have been working on this issue for a while and had quite a few resources to offer me. How awesome is that? I'm feeling a lot better about things now, and I am really actually looking forward to next Monday.

Work. I'm wrapping up work at CUP this week, too. Tomorrow is preparing for a workshop and tying up the loose ends for where I'm at on the article I'm writing, and then Friday is the workshop, and I'm presenting part of it. I'm going to be sad to leave this job - the work was interesting and the people were wonderful.

So wonderful, in fact, that my supervisor has invited me back to work there full-time for July and August! This is such a sweet deal. Financially, I knew it would be best if I were to work during the two months in between my two placements. Logically, I knew it might be tricky to find a job that paid reasonably well that would be willing to take me for only 60 days. I'm never sure how to handle that situation - it seems best to me to say up front that I'm only available for two months, but then many people don't want to hire you. CUP hiring me back for that time allows me to finish working on some projects, as well as to have an income. Yay!

Life. Other than that, life has been pretty quiet. Jason and I had beer and wings with some friends last Wednesday, which turned into playing SuperSmash Brother till midnight, and that was very fun. I had Easter dinner with my folks in Wetaskiwin on Saturday, and that was lovely. I especially liked the part where my dad filled an Easter basket for me! :D And last night Jason and I had dinner with his mum and some of her friends. She has the most interesting group of friends ever. You just never know who you'll meet at her house, you just know that the conversation will be jumping!

Oh, and I got to go and see a premiere of Run Fatboy Run. I loved it! It was much sweeter than Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, yet managed to be just as funny. It helps immensely that Dylan Moran has a bigger role in this one - I just love him to bits. I give this movie three thumbs up and recommend you see it!

Cheers all!

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

A quote to tell you where I'm at...

Ah, Winston. You had a way with words. Having completed the proposal defence:

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."


Friday, February 29, 2008

Couple stuff

Hi guys!

Big day today - I defended my thesis proposal (NOT my thesis... this is just the beginning of the process, not the end!) this morning, and it went really well. I have some edits to make to my proposal, and then it will be off to ethics!