Tvashtri's Blog











{September 10, 2010}   an update – school

Ah, September! T’is the season when classes resume for those of us still in school. While I’ve been teaching pretty regularly over the last 3 years, I haven’t actually taken a course in over 16 months, so I’m really looking forward to my PhD coursework. My classes begin next week. I look forward to piles and piles of readings, meeting new people, and trying to fit in 3 Muay Thai classes per week 🙂

Since Communication & Culture is a joint program with Ryerson University, some of my mandatory courses this fall are being offered at Ryerson. This is mildly unfortunate, given that I live just outside of the TTC service area, meaning that I’ll be paying a combined YRT/TTC fare each way, but oh well. At least I’ll have an excuse to be downtown through the week, which means I’ll be able to frequent my favourite stores and crepe restaurant!

Sophie is halfway through her level 2 obedience training. I’m considering putting her all the way through the different levels, including agility training, since she loves a challenge and seems to love running obstacles with me in Rob’s parents’ backyard.

In other news, Aaron and I are getting ready to open the SV (student volunteer) lottery for CHI 2011. If you’re a university student and are interested in volunteering, CHI will be in Vancouver in 2011 and I encourage you to put your name in the lottery! For more information, visit the student volunteers section of the chi2011 website!

That’s all for now! Hopefully I’ll have more information for you soon!



{September 3, 2010}   my music

As I mentioned previously, my taste in music is quite varied. Some of the genres that I enjoy include (but definitely aren’t limited to) industrial rock, house, metal, classical, alternative, trip hop, electronica, J-rock, classic rock, and celtic rock. The list of bands I enjoy is extensive, to say the least, so I will instead put my player on random and tell you the first 10 songs that come up:

  1. Skinny Puppy – Magnifishit
  2. Little Boots – Earthquake
  3. Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
  4. Satie – Lere Gymnopedie
  5. Thom Yorke – Hearing Damage
  6. Phil Collins – Another Day In Paradise
  7. Sarah Slean – Little London Night
  8. Letters to Cleo – Demon Rock
  9. Bjork – Hyperballad
  10. The Moody Blues – Nights In White Satin


{September 1, 2010}   first love

My first love as far back as I can remember was and still is music. The McArthur family has a lot of musical talent. My grandmother is an accomplished pianist, my father played drums for his highschool band and drum & bugle corps. I am one of 3 members of my extended family with a music degree. Most of us play at least 2 instruments.

Until my grandfather died, my grandma McArthur’s house was always full of musical instruments. She had a grand piano, an organ, and LOTS of percussion instruments like a tambourine, sleigh bells, claves, etc. I remember spending a lot of time on my grandmother’s farm growing up and I recall teaching myself how to play her piano by ear using my own recognition of the solfege system.At the age of 4 I remember playing a song on the piano using both my left and right hands while my parents and grandparents sat in the next room. I overheard my grandmother tell them that I had learned how to play with both hands all by myself.

That’s me in the back with my eyes closed >.< Pictured with my brother (Greg) and my sister (Andrea).

I went on to teach myself how to play guitar. I took music all through high school and learned how to play the clarinet, flute, trumpet, and violin. I was in an all-girl band for the last part of high school and also played in the concert band, clarinet quintet, and string ensemble. I went on to seek classical training on the clarinet and studied under Zoltan Kalman for 5 years. While studying music at Brock University I participated in the University Woodwind Ensemble, Women’s Chorus, and Mixed Chorale.

I have also enjoyed a thorough love of music performed and written by others. My father had a very extensive record collection and provided me with a superior education on rock and roll music. I grew up listening to the Guess Who, Cream, and Sugarloaf, to name a few. As I grew up my taste in music expanded to include other genres such as metal, electronica, and classical music.

I am a firm believer that file sharing has not harmed the music industry: the industry did a fine job of destroying itself by flooding the market with cookie-cutter pop crap. If someone downloads music and doesn’t pay for it, they were never going to pay for it. Those were the people from before who would copy it from a friend, tape it off the radio, etc. I used to use file sharing services as a way to sample music. If there were at least 3 songs on your album that I liked, I would buy it. If the single you released is the only song you put any effort into, I’m going to keep my hard-earned money thankyouverymuch!

Presently, I am building a tangible audio interface in our lab at York called OPUS. I hope to be able to share images of it with you all as soon as we’ve got everything up and running 🙂 I still play guitar and occasionally mix music on my computer.

So there, as you can see, I fell in love with music at a very early age and continue to find new ways to connect with my passion. I’ll end it here and prepare my next topic for your reading pleasure.



{August 29, 2010}   In the home stretch

So, for those of you who don’t know this already, I successfully defended my masters thesis on Friday afternoon! My thesis was accepted with minor, specified revisions, which I was sure to finish yesterday afternoon! The committee’s questions were very thoughtful and really encouraged some deep, thoughtful discussion surrounding my work. I have some meetings scheduled tomorrow to go over my changes and then I get to print & submit my 3 copies to the Faculty of Graduate Studies!

I will also be posting a pdf version on my web site. I will let you know when it is updated!



{August 23, 2010}   Long time, no post

Hi there!

Yes, it’s been ages since I’ve written here – I know. I’ve had a lot going on, and yet I haven’t felt the inspiration to write about it. I survived another birthday, and I’m finally going to defend my masters thesis on August 27th. I’d like to write about both of those things right now, but one of them requires more time than I’ve got at the moment and the other I don’t want to write about until after it happens – you know, so I don’t jinx it.

I’m one of those people who worries about things I shouldn’t worry about, only because I feel to do otherwise means I’m not taking things seriously enough. So, here’s hoping I have good news after the 27th of August!

Wish me luck!



{July 28, 2010}   ultimate birthday wish

I’ve got a confession to make. Like many people online, I can end up wasting a LOT of time on Perez Hilton’s blog. I don’t mean to – I don’t necessarily idolize all of those celebrities. It just sort of happens once I run out of emails, news, and tweets.

There are a few celebrities that I admire (either for their talents or their charity work), but there is one celebrity who I actually wish I knew in real life. That celebrity is Julie Benz.

I first noticed Julie in her role as Darla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was delighted to encounter her again in the role of Rita Bennet on Dexter. Shortly after I acquired my twitter account I began to follow Julie Benz on twitter. I’m not big into following many celebrities, but I do enjoy reading Julie’s tweets. Julie is very funny, down to earth, loves her dogs, and respects her fans. On more than one occasion, Julie has openly invited fans to ask her any questions, and has answered as many as she possibly could, including mine!

So, today, when she posted a link for a trapeze lesson with Julie Benz, I realized that Julie Benz is actually a celebrity who I would really like to spend time with IRL. That would be my ultimate birthday wish =D



{July 24, 2010}   Blue Shorts Test

Today was the blue shorts test for students at Siam No. 1 and many of its sister schools, including York Muay Thai. I decided to attend to cheer for my classmates and to see what I need to aim for in my own training. I think about 49 people took the test today at Siam No. 1’s new location – according to Ajahn Suchart Yodkerepaupri, the number of students taking the test each time grows. Ajahn speaks very candidly about the passion, discipline, and respect needed for real Muay Thai in between each of the grueling exercises.

Ajahn Suchart, the Krus, PooChoi Krus, and the students in their blue shorts

After 3 hours of extreme athleticism and technique, the 4 students from York Muay Thai who participated in today’s test received their certificate and their blue shorts. I’m so proud of my classmates! Hopefully one day I will be able to take the blue shorts test.



{June 27, 2010}   Muay Thai

With my 30th birthday fast approaching I had decided it was time to make a few changes. I was staying true to my 6 week challenge with EA Sports Active: More Workouts, I was walking on a regular basis (which also made Sophie, my puppy, pretty happy), and I was even making an effort to consume more water and veggies with my regular diet. No dieting, just an attempt at a more well-rounded, healthier food intake.

The workouts with EA Sports Active are great, and while I was noticing some underlying improvement to my muscle tone, and while I was sweating with some of the workouts, I really didn’t feel like I was making enough difference. That’s when I decided that I needed to get out of the house and join an organized sport. I’ve tried gyms before but I find them mostly intimidating. I had even looked into personal trainers, but since I’m not a movie star I realized that I’d run out of money before I saw results. Then I remembered my brief exposure to Muay Thai and how intense the workouts were. I decided to look into schools in the north end of Toronto and found York Muay Thai.

York Muay Thai is located right across the street from York University. It’s relatively new and was born out of a group of followers from an existing Muay Thai club at York. The head instructor there is Kru Jenypher Lanthier. I took advantage of their free week and found that I was instantly hooked. The students there were very friendly and encouraging (not cliquey and intimidating), the instructors are very focused and attentive, and the workouts are INTENSE. I could barely walk up and down the stairs the day after my first class. I attended a second class a few days later and decided that I was going to sign up!

Another thing I really liked about this school was that there’s a lot of emphasis on respect for Thai culture and intelligence in the ring. Their slogan, “Love, Respect and Believe”, comes from the following:

“If you love one another, respect follows. With respect comes faith–you begin to believe in yourself and your community” -Ajahn Suchart Yodkerepaupri

I can train to be a fighter, I can train to be an assistant instructor, or I could do both. I don’t know if I have the guts to be a fighter – we’ll see after my left jab improves somewhat 🙂

I will keep you posted on my progress and even post a few pics once there’s something to see 🙂 Until then, Sawadeekha!



{June 13, 2010}   On scholarships

Last year I was nominated for a Vanier Scholarship by my graduate program and by the Faculty of Graduate Studies at my university. York is allowed to make 29 nominations over a 3 year period, so the fact that I was one of their 9 nominations for 2010 was quite an honour. Sadly, only 4 of the 9 nominees were awarded Vanier Scholarships by the selection committee, and I was not one of them.

I was hopeful to receive a Vanier, but at the same time could appreciate what an honour it was to even be nominated for one. In addition to my Vanier application, I had also applied for OGS (Ontario Graduate Scholarship) and for a SSHRC doctoral award (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council). I was successful in winning an OGS, but my university decided not to forward my SSHRC application for reasons that don’t make a whole lot of sense. Either way, I was thankful for the OGS and was fully determined to reapply for SSHRC in the fall.

On Friday I went in to York to attend my friend Danny’s MSc defense. While I was there I received a letter pertaining to the Elia Scholars Program, York’s most prestigious graduate award. Each year, 3 doctoral students are selected as Elia Scholars, and not only had I been nominated for the program but I was also selected as one of the 3 students to receive the award!

I guess it just goes to show that all things happen for a reason… or something. Either way I am very grateful.



{June 4, 2010}   10 Things

Here’s a list of 10 things you might not know about me, but could possibly find interesting:

  1. My natural hair colour is red (seriously!). I’ve been dying it very unnatural colours (pinks, blues, purples, greens, etc.) off and on for the last 8 years or so. I change colours frequently enough that I’ve been compared to Clementine Kruczynski from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
  2. In high school I did a co-op placement at an animal hospital. I was like an assistant veterinarian assistant.
  3. I not only speak Japanese, I also studied at Nagoya Gakuin University in Japan during my undergrad. I graduated from there with a certificate in Japanese Area Studies.
  4. I have a bachelors degree in music. I am classically trained on the clarinet.
  5. I have visited 25 US states in my lifetime. I plan to visit them all before I die.
  6. I was a cheerleader in highschool when I was in grade 9. Just to give you some context, I went to a pretty rough school, so in that case, being a cheerleader was pretty much the equivalent of being an outcast rebel.
  7. I published my first conference paper while I was still an undergraduate student. My university paid for me to travel to Italy to present my research. This is what made me want to pursue a PhD.
  8. I am pursuing a PhD in communication & culture. My research mostly focusses around self-representation in virtual worlds and the avatar creation interfaces of these environments.
  9. I am related by marriage to Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay. I am not related to Douglas MacArthur.
  10. I met my husband Rob through a mutual friend from Yokohama. She was an exchange student at his highschool in Canada. After I met her she introduced me to her group of friends, including him. 5 years later we started dating and 10 years later we got married 🙂


et cetera