*tap tap tap*
*peers into a dark and dusty room*
Damn, well, I guess I should come in here more often. I kinda let the place down a bit. A neglected blog is an unhappy blog.
Hrmmmm...well, first thing's first...if I clean up this little area over here, that'll get things started.
So, it's been 2 years and 5 months, give or take a few days, since my last entry. Just a few things happened along the way.
1. The dude I was dating back then? Yeah, we got married. That was 1 year, 4 months, 22 days ago.
2. A week after the wedding, he had a stroke. Thankfully, he came out ok--his medic training and my first aid/CPR training kicked in immediately. But his therapy took a while. (The good news? He has very little 'remnants' of the event; some disarthrya/aphasia, but not much at all. Nothing that impedes him from work or daily life.)
3. I might have taken on a few projects. Ok, more than a few. I've been working non-stop. I take minor breaks here and there, but not many. And I'll keep on going for a while, too...I'm teaching again this summer, 2 classes. Hey, the money is good.
4. The Giants might have won another World Series...3 in 5 years. Seriously, without words.
5. Jezza...you dolt...thanks to him, my Mondays are all messed up. Guess Hamster and Captain Slow will have to figure things out....or they all quit in support, come over to the US and do the show properly here. (Read as 'Get rid of the yahoos that supposedly still do the American version of the show here, and make it to what they want it to be here. On second thought, only Hammond would be happy with that....)
There, that corner is done...so, what's next to tackle?
PS...the song is more because I still love it...it's still a bit of a stalker song...but the drum beat kicks it hard. Great song to drive out on the freeway, blaring loud, trying to wake me up as I merge with the other morning drivers.
Certain musicians have a hold on you...they get you early in life, and then stay with you forever. Not in a bad way...just that something about their work resonates with you forever. And everyone has more than one. For me, the list includes:
Who's that last one, you ask? One of the most prolific Japanese anime and soundtrack composers and musicians ever.
The funny part is that I'm not an anime fan, per se. Quite literally 99.9% of it I couldn't give rat's patoot about (as my dad's family is fond of saying). Then again, that's true for most entertainment--I'm just not interested in most any of the story plots, acting, etc. The last time I consistently watched a scripted and acted television show? Um...it's been a while, although the latest BBC offering of Sherlock does have me completely hooked. Even this year's season of Archer I haven't kept up with, mostly because Mr OfLove is too tired to be awake and paying attention at 10pm--since it's a favorite of us both, it feels a bit like cheating if I watch it without him.
When I was in high school, Macross Plus came out--obviously first in Japan, but it quickly came over here to the US. The story hooked me completely: set in the future and potentially in an alternate universe, it combined Romeo and Juliet (but majorly higher on the maturity level) with beautiful animation of mecchas in flight, and all with the underlying themes of justice and social acceptance permeating throughout. Yep, teenager DoL was completely hooked...and the music. Wow...how do I describe it? It was created by Yoko Kanno, who then was just starting her career of creating music for entertainment, but more specifically for anime and certain video game titles. But the soundtrack for Macross Plus was jazzy, complex, with a definite techno application to jazz, and this is especially true since one of the 'characters' in the movie/series is Sharon Apple--a computer-generated singer, with the voice and stylistics of her 'producer', Myung Fang Lone. The entire soundtrack is not of one language, but technically four: Japanese, English, French, and Zendradi (the made-up language of main alien race in the story). I love it...and have never been able to shake it.
Fast forward many, many years, to when I met the now Mr OfLove. Being that he's half Japanese, it's practically genetic for him to latch onto anime, but in his case he became a complete anime nerd. If it's a choice between watching anime and anything else on the entertainment field...nope, anime every time. When he first learned about my general disdain for anime, but my love of Macross Plus, he took it upon himself to figure out what possible shows I would like. He's very selective and careful in his choices, and some of the ones he's shown me I have fallen for (Soul Eater being chief among them).
And then he tried Cowboy Bebop. Story...excellent. Combo of drama, comedy, action, and suspense. Set in the near future but in an alternate universe, the core characters are all bounty hunters with intriguing pasts. Some episodes are silly, others are freaky--even one that damn near gave me nightmares due to some horrific images. But overall, holy carp, really, really good. But even beyond the story line, what I love about Cowboy Bebop is the soundtrack. The opening theme is what I'm linking here...but the entire soundtrack is a combo of swing, funk, jazz, with very complex rhythms. My musical mind went into overdrive...I know this style! Sure enough, in the credits: Music by Yoko Kanno, she of Macross Plus. It was a signature sound that I just couldn't get...oh, and the band that performs the opening, The Seatbelts...that's Yoko Kanno's band, or one of them; she has a tendency to do a composition project, then form a band to play the music, even record it for sale...but rarely goes on tour with them. She prefers to stay in Japan, since she readily admits that, while she understands and speaks some English and French, she doesn't do it well. What a pity...I'd love to hear them live!
Side note: You know you're in a major drought when a minor weather system has the potential to dump a whopping .25 inches of rain, at max, in your area...and it's a major news story. Yikes...could someone send us some storms, real storms, please? Not just one or two...but a couple, then a break for a week, then a couple more...then another week-long break...continuously for 2 months? Then we *might* be ok for water 'round these parts.
Jeremy Clarkson...you dolt. You bleeping moron.
When the news spread, like wildfire, about the 'fracas' (why does that have to be in quotes, by the way? Everyone is doing that now.), I was amazed at the multitude of people who instantly came to Jezza's defense, regardless of any potential accusations or even rumors. After all, who cares if he supposedly assaulted another person...we want him back on tv!
The people around me couldn't care less about the accusations. Realistically, it was only myself, Mr. OfLove*, and 2 other friends who were sounding the call to caution. Everyone else--people who are educated, reasonable people who aren't normally prone to violence--was outraged. "Don't take away our show!" "Jeremy is innocent!" "It didn't happen!" "Jezza was provoked!" "He's the heart and soul of the program...you can't do this to us!"
Within days we heard a bunch of the supposed facts, which all turned out to be true. Jezza threw a temper tantrum, launching a verbal spew that rivaled that of a two-year old, although with considerably more cussing. There were fisticuffs. Once I heard just this part, I couldn't support Jeremy Clarkson, sign a petition to have him reinstated, or even publicly come to his aid. There were more details to come, and somehow I knew it wasn't pretty.
It's been interesting to watch Richard Hammond and, especially, James May on their Twitter feeds. James' #StillUnemployed (or sometimes truncated to #SU) has risen in me some doubts. As to whether they continue on the show, or they pull out in support of their colleague, I think no one knows right now. Their contracts are up this year, too; BBC may want to take things in a whole other direction. If they appear alongside a new co-host, it will remind people of the shoes to fill. Say what you will about his behavior off the track, but in front of the camera and in road testing cars, Jeremy Clarkson made it interesting and compelling. Even non-gearheads watched the show. It was fun to watch him get a rise out of his colleagues, say something irreverant and even mildly suggestive...all in the name of entertainment. I'm fine with how he pushed the envelope overall for Top Gear. It will take another large personality to fill his shoes. Maybe Chris Evans...but maybe not even him.
But, dude, seriously. Be thankful that BBC was your employer. If it were NBC, ABC, CBS or Fox, you would have been fired on the spot. Or you would have had to reinact it on tv, complete with another round in the ring with the victim. Or a similar-looking actor. Maybe with a whole bunch of sponsors.
*Thanks, GoC, for the spouse-naming convention. I love this!
Hallowe'en. Love me that awesome holiday.
First, EVERY person turns into a kid. Even if you're not quite a costume-wearing person, it's the fun of dressing a bit different, of getting into the mood of candy, celebration, and letting loose for a bit. I mean, really, if you can't get into the holiday, I feel sorry for you. And I feel particularly lucky to have spent most of my life in 2 cities where people are truly into the f
This birthday really started last night...an awesome dinner with my brothers and sister-in-law at our family's favorite Italian restaurant in the City, a bunch of great chatter and tons of good food. I went to bed last night in a good place...and woke up to a beautiful sunrise. Clearly, this is an omen from the Heavens that the forecast for the day, and perhaps the year, will be a good one.
At least, that's what Optimistic Me says. And since I don't allow any other Me to express itself on my birthday, as it were, I'm going with that sentiment.
Even the horoscope this morning was quite positive:
I'm going with either career or romance as the areas to be affected...at least, that's the hope. Who wouldn't?
A different star-reading had the line of the day, at least for me:
Wait...I'm a Capricorn...I naturally think about every offer before I take it...how is that a prediction?
Meh, whatevs. I'm gonna celebrate life and enjoy...hope all of you do, too. Happy New Year, all...Buon anno, tutti. A festeggiare!
This is it...pep talk ready...I can do this!
We're at the end of the month, folks, which means that I made it through my Month of Hell. The Accreditation work that I've been doing is mostly done for now (and will require a lot of attention in January). The ePortfolios project is almost done, and will be ready for 3 November's presentation. The move is 90% complete, and will be done on Sunday.
And I'm still alive! And well! Hurrah!
Just one more weekend to get through...a big event on Saturday for work, that I'm organizing the catering and such, and then the move on Sunday. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a head lamp
So, to start off a mini-celebration, a blast from the past...to put you in a good mood on this Friday before All Hallow's Eve...
A friend on Facebook shared this video...and I was in stitches. Warning, there's a lot of Scottish...perhaps there's foul language, but it's Scottish...but can anyone really tell?
It reminds me of growing up, and the variety of languages and dialects that I heard. We had in our immediate neighborhood: Irish (from Muenster), Scottish (from Glasgow), Filipino (specifically, Tagalog), Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hindi. If you expanded it to those I went to school with, you'd have to include the rest of the English-speaking world, half of Polynesia, various dialects of Spanish, at least two regional dialects of Italian, Greek, Armenian, Farsi...wow, the list goes on and on. I grew up hearing so many versions, pronunciations and combinations of English, it's a miracle that I came out with the 'standard West Coast' dialect myself.
Thanks to Hollywood, everyone things that California is this liberal utopia (save for Orange County), but in fact the Central Valley is home to many 'country folk'--or redneck, if you're a Jeff Foxworthy fan (
). To be sure, the population there exploded during the Dust Bowl era (the 1930s), and all the Oakies and Arkies settled in the agricultural areas to work the fields, hoping to get a plot of land of their own. This is when my dad's family ran away from their lives in southwestern Missouri--another story for another time--and settled in Sacramento, the capital of the state and, one could say, the northern point of the Central Valley. Between the farms and the military bases, the flow of people from the south-central and south-eastern part of the United States has been fairly constant. As a result, to this day you still hear 'rural' American dialects well-represented. My dad's family isn't immune to this manner of speech.
I noted as a child how my dad sounded 'normal' at home and in our area, but the second he was in the company of his sister (the only one of his (at that time) 5 siblings that he liked), he would immediately sound 'country'. And he knew it, so much so that the whole hour-long car ride back home to the Bay Area he would talk a ton just to get the 'country' out of his system.
Today we all spent time with that same aunt of mine--one of my cousins passed away unexpectedly, and today was the funeral. Dad's gotten over his linguistic self-consciousness, and didn't even care that he slipped back into his ancient speech pattern. But what I wasn't prepared for was the fact that I did it, too...I started sounding country, just a hint of it, like when I lived in Texas.
There is a theory of socio-linguistics that holds that there are people with strong ties to their speech community, and others who have weak ties. Those with strong ties will never lose their speech patterns--their 'accent', if you will--and do not associate with many people outside of their speech community for any length of time. The ones who have weak ties to speech communities are the opposite; much like honey bees, they go to various speech communities, sound a little like all of them, tend to have neutral speech patterns (which helps communicativity in various groups), and are the ones who introduce change to different speech communities. Just like the honey bee that goes from one flower to another to pollinate them all, those with weak links bring various modes of speech to various speech communities, just to see what sticks.
Clearly Dad and I are weak links...and not in the Anne Robinson meaning. I can't speak for him, but perhaps that's part of why I never did feel comfortable about that side of the family. Eh, it's all good in the end.
So it seems that Col. Gaddafi--or, as
--has met his proverbial maker. Obviously, most Libyans (and perhaps others in North Africa) are elated at the thought that their former dictator is no longer in any position where he can control their every moment. And, from what the reports are suggesting, one son is dead, and the other is in custody.
I truly hope that all of this is true.
Call me a cynic, but we went through this before with this family a couple of months ago, that 'the reports' said that the Gaddafi sons were in custody after the fall of Tripoli...only to re-appear later, tongues sticking out and taunting the world, "nah nah, yoooooou didn't caaaaatch me." And while Ol' Moe wasn't exactly buddies with Saddam Hussein, the latter did have numerous body doubles, and I would guess that Gaddafi would pick up the same habit. After all, you can't be too careful when your ass is on the line.
The reports are sketchy, at best, and not confirmed as of 1pm PDT, but it sounds like he was delusional until the very end. He really thought that he would be able to sneak out of Sirte undetected by NATO. Guess not, eh?
I think it's safe to assume that most know that the new 'transitional' government couldn't be able to gain full legitimacy from their own people, let alone others in the world, until the Gaddafi family was completely eradicated from power. So here starts the new chapter in Libya. Will it be a prosperous one? Will it be a moderate one? Will it be a peaceful one? Will it be a repeat lesson of history? Lord knows...but I do hope, for the sake of the people of Libya, that it is truly representative of the people, whatever their wishes and desires may be.
So...the Wicked Witch of the East and West (of the Arab world) are no more...who's next?
There is nothing that makes an instructor-type person feel more frustrated and/or helpless than to watch a student, who you know is well-prepared and otherwise studious participant in all areas, collapse emotionally while taking an exam.
You sit there proctoring the exam, and you see said student freak out--be it crying, sweating profusely, or their eyes start growing to the size of flying saucers. You can't, by protocol, do a damned thing...you can't tell them anything, you can't give them extra time...nothing. And you know that this person studied, perhaps even over-studied. Worse yet is when they tend to excel in every other area, but when an exam comes into their presence, they can't handle it.
Their brain goes into hyperspeed. They start to hyperventilate. Telling them to "just keep breathing" or "calm down" actually works in reverse, making them panic even more. Will the others in class notice? What if I fail!? Holy )(*()_)(&_) And then the tears tend to fall.
In over 12 years of teaching, I've come across most all of the standard and uncommon learning disabilities. Most all of them, either I know a few teaching techniques to help the students, or I can recognize elements that I can address. But test anxiety...ugh. Not only can I not combat it, I don't even understand it. See, I always loved exams...ok, ok, 'love' is too strong a word. But I never did shrink from them...they were simply puzzles for me to play. Or to BS my way through, either way tests are challenges, and I like challenges. Sure, I occasionally was nervous (see: PhD comprehensive exams), but never having panic attacks. So for me to council a person who suffers from test anxiety, well, would be like a professional skydiver to council me on my fear of falling when up on a high platform. How in the hell can you empathize properly and not sound condescending??
This week was midterm week...well, for me, at least. All 3 of my main courses had their midterms. Thursday's class is a special group, with personalities that shine and eager pupils who want to know everything about everyone. One of my honors students was freaking out a bit, but was still upbeat. Then, halfway through the exam, I heard a lot of heavy breathing...like someone was trying to calm themselves down. I looked around, but I couldn't figure out who it is...and in a room with 9 students, it should be easy to do. Ten minutes later, I hear the even heavier breathing and sniffling. I look up, and my honors student is doing the sniffling. But knowing that she suffers from allergies, and the pollen is thick right now, I don't know if she's suffering an allergy attack, or what. Another ten minutes go by, and I see that there are tears rolling down her face...and the sniffling is being stifled unsuccessfully. And my heart sinks.
She ends up being the last to finish...and I technically gave her an extra 5 minutes, seeing as no one else was in the classroom, and no one would know. Once she turned in her exam, she started sobbing...the listening comprehension portion of the exam freaked her out and got her off rhythm, and so she felt like she ran out of time. After talking with her for a few minutes, trying to get her to calm down a bit, I started the slow walk home. I really didn't want to grade her exam, fearing sections of blank whiteness.
Eventually, it had to be done...I had to start grading the exams from that Thursday class, including that of the honors student who freaked out. As I went through the exams, including hers, I found that she wasn't doing that bad...yes, she had sections where she fouled up, but not so much that there was incomprehensible Spanish. Yes, she ran out of time, but there was no catastrophic or epic fail. In fact, as I totted up her score, she passed...barely, with about 4% to spare, but she passed.
At that point, I felt a tear streak down my cheek.
Edit to include the PS:
Last night, after writing this, I emailed the student to let her know about her grade...I never do this, and make all of them wait until I pass the exam back. But I let her know how she did, and what I think the next steps are. Within 20 minutes she replied...and happily. I can now enjoy the weekend
Admittedly, I spend a good chunk of money on shoes, and for good reason. It can be shown that cheap shoes usually are badly made, and aren't worth the money paid for them. And while I may not be a Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo kind of girl, I definitely will drop some change on footwear. This is particularly true for my gym shoes.
No, seriously, it really is a good idea. I mean, think about all the punishment that you're doling out on your feet when in the gym, or going for a good walk on a trail. With cheap things thrown together, you could seriously hurt yourself, and not just your feet. Add to that the facts that I have high arches (even before I started wearing high heels) and have had knee problems for 25 years, and you start to understand that a $10 pair of kicks aren't going to give me the support that I need to go on a 4-mile walk, or a 1 1/2 hour cardio and weights routine. And since I go well past the 500-mile rule-of-thumb, I get my money out of them.
After a wonderful 2 1/2 years, my recent pair of running shoes has officially died. Yes, I should have gotten the hint when my cat decided that she 'needed' to rub all over them once I took them off...but, no, the decision was made once my left arch started barking. Plantar fasciitis. Joyous fun. And instead of being mildly annoying and going away in 24 hours, it's lingering, very painful, and makes the cardio and walking routines almost out of reach. (On the other hand, I'm swimming more than I have in quite some time...and my skin isn't snow white anymore. Silver lining, and all.)
So, off to the shoe store for me. There's a really great one in the next town over, one that caters specifically to gym shoes and running shoes of all types. They even analyze your foot and your gait in order to get the right shoe. Sure, I knew how much I was going to spend on the shoes, and knew that the extra attention to detail was going to be added onto the price, but the end result is that I get a pair of shoes that fits perfectly, and my foot won't hurt as much anymore.
When I got home, I noticed that Bella hadn't moved from 'her' gym shoes...getting more stinky essence, I guess. I picked up the old shoes, with the intent of giving them a proper burial in the garbage can, when she starts crying. Not just the cute-kitten cry, but the 'Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!' cry. I rolled my eyes, and finished my chore. That was over 2 hours ago...Bella is still sulking in the garage.
Just goes to show: one person's trash is another cat's treasure.
Well, most of the presents have been figured out and either purchased or made...just that one person left.
You know how it is...there's always that one person that you have no idea what would be a good gift. In this case, it's my middle brother. And since I already found a good gift for my sister-in-law, I have to think of something equally good for him. So a gift for the couple is out...I think...hmmmmmmmm....
Ok, I'll let you in on the secret: I got my sister-in-law a gift certificate for an hour long massage at a day spa...maybe I could give my brother a certificate for something to do while his wife is getting the massage? Or some other thing that would be equally 'pampering' to him? If my brother and I got along better, this probably would be easier. But the fact is that we don't, for a number of reasons that I don't really wish to go into here. Suffice it to say that we haven't ever really gotten along, not even as kids. I thought about doing a 'lunch and day together' thing, but I don't think he'd like that very much. Sigh and alas, I think it'll take me a while to figure this gift out. Thankfully I have until the 30th, when we siblings meet up, so I have a chance at getting him a good gift.
And, no, I don't fret much over gifts, but just enough to make sure they aren't the cheesy gifts that no one wants. As I watch the commercials--note I said watch, because I mute the TV when the ads come on--there are all of these commercials for *that special gift* for *that certain someone* in your life. Surely the man whose gift you are searching for will want a new electric razor...or perhaps this cologne? Of course there's always power tools and big-screen TVs, because what male can resist the allure of a cordless drill or a 3D plasma screen.
And the 'gifts' for women are just as comical...if the ads are to be believed, every heterosexual man knows that we ladies want jewelry, and that if we don't get any there will be hell to pay. At least, it seems that way from the ads; how many are of men desperately searching for the diamond that sparkles the brightest? Or the tennis bracelet that has the most precious stones? Really?
I mean, sure, if you'd like to give me jewelry, so be it--I'm definitely not going to refuse it. But there were other things on my list that I was hoping Santa would bring.
Ok, let's get things starting off correctly: I'm not the type of girl who sits at home moping around. I could give a bleep less that I don't have a date on Valentine's night...I'm still going out! I mean, hell, if you're sitting in a full restaurant, then you're not eating alone, right?
So last night's plan: take the light rail 'downtown' (aka 15 blocks), go to dinner around 7, watch a bit of hockey at the bar of the restaurant, and then go to my movie (as I mentioned in the latest movie thread, I saw "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show," which got good reviews from me).
Dinner: once I found out that the Sharks (NHL team here in San Jos
I've come to a realization in life.
Well, more than one, but this is just the latest.
I can multitask very well--indeed, I have all my life. Working in a kitchen, I can have 3 pots going at once and know what's going on. I can even carry on a coversation while doing it. I sing along to whatever music I have filling my domicile while I work in the kitchen or in the garden. In fact, even if there is no electronic device playing music, the music in my head is playing, and I'm singing along while I'm working.
One thing I don't do well: eat and work at the same time. Oh, I can do it...and then usually end up making a mess.
It never fails...this morning, I was checking email whilst munching on my Honey-Nut Cheerios and strawberries (which, btw, our local stawberries are outstanding this year!) and slurping the milk in the bowl...and proceed to knock over the spoon resting in the bowl...thus tossing little oat Os and milk on the table. No, nothing was ruined, or even mildly damaged, but once again I've proven to myself that eating and working don't mix.
So I've decided to never do it again. I need to just sit back, enjoy whatever meal I have (even if it's just a bit of a sammie or a bowl of ice cream) and not worry about work. Or, I can think, perhaps jot down a memo...but no typing, no major reading/writing/editing.
Besides, they say that eating and working is bad for digestion, that we eat too fast and too much if we're distracted. Enjoying our meal is supposed to be just that--joyful--which means talking is good, laughing is better, but working is not good.
Procrastinator moi, that appeals to me quite nicely!
Ok...just to note...it's taken me almost a week to blog this...only because every time I think about it, it infuriates me.
Thesis: People don't know how to raise kids anymore.
Events: I was sitting at a local fast-ish food restaurant (meaning: it's still burgers, fries, etc., just that they cook things to order), minding my own business, when this group sit behind me. 2 women, sisters or -in-law from the sound of things, with 2 kids (boy was about 4, girl about 5) who belong to one of the women. One woman was explaining that they had just literally gotten off the plane from a trip to Florida to visit family, and there was an incident on the plane. The kids were 'fighting'...and to retaliate for some act, the boy spit on the girl. Evidently he was told that he was naughty, but that's it. And in recounting the tale, the other woman asked the little boy why he did it (with that amount of emotion, too). His response, with a grin: I dunnnoooo....she was bothering me. And the mother, non-chalantly, just reacted as if 'kids will be kids'.
Now, here's what pisses me off to no end:
As a child, if my brothers or I even hinted that we were going to fight, we were given *the look* (we all know what look that was, too), and we all knew that if we continued, not only would we be hauled out of there toot-sweet, but we'd get our bottoms whacked. Mom meant business...and if we were really bad (which perhaps only happened once...I doubt it), she would tell Dad, who would also dispense justice. In essence, we didn't go out on errands, let alone special trips, very often, and we were to be on our very best behavior when we did. Punto...finale
Furthermore, I can recall only once spitting at my brother (the one I would fight with)...only once, because when it happened my mother slapped me on the face (something she never did), washed my mouth out with soap (which I got to tollerate...me being a potty-mouth and a smart ass), and she wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the day. Then I got the lecture: spitting on people is an evil thing, extremely dirty, and only animals do that...and at that, most animals wouldn't do it. I believe I was grounded (aka no dessert) for a short time, too. I got the hint...as did my brothers, who didn't dare repeat the incident, lest they be subjected to the same treatment. It was swift, and honestly I can't say that it wasn't merited.
So...granted, on a plane you might not want to smack your kid around...at least, not mid-air. But going out to lunch afterwards, which most kids see as a positive thing? And worse yet, acting as if it's no big deal? Where the hell are the manners???
See? It's been almost a week, and it still raises my hackles.
Christmas Eve. This day has a ton of personal memories. Growing up, it was always the day of a ton of food, then church, followed by a light supper and tons of Mom's awesome Christmas cookies. And a very fitful night of sleep, as I really couldn't wait until the morning to open packages.
My bedroom was right next to the living room, where our tree was. My parents had to walk by my room to get there, and had to do so silently as I always have been a light sleeper. When they woke up in the morning, they'd quietly walk with the hidden gems of presents to the tree, put them down, and then go to the garage or other hiding places to get the rest. My brothers and I would wake up--in my case I'd have been woken up by the rustling in the next room, and who knows about my brothers--and we'd try to open our doors ever so quietly. Maybe we could sneak a peek, just to see what we'd be getting?
My mom would then yell at us to close the doors. Of course, we did that, lest she take away our presents. But I could always hear her and my dad giggling afterwards. They tried every year to get us to stay in our rooms longer and longer--at the very least so that they could put the pot of coffee on, get my grandmother, great-aunt and great-uncle upstairs, and get everything set before the three tornados came in and made a mess. But it never quite worked that way.
Then I'd hear something be placed outside of my bedroom door...ooh, the stocking! Since we didn't have a fireplace, it wasn't very logical to assume that's how Santa got in...and trust me, I asked constantly. So my parents came up with a different explanation: Santa landed on the deck outside of the living room, and used his magic to open the door so quietly that even I didn't hear him. And yet when I looked out on the deck, I didn't see any sleigh marks on the frost...but, of course, that was magic. (Wow, I was seriously too cynical as a kid!)
And, yes, the secret of Santa got spoiled for me, and very early...but my mom asked me to play along, for the sake of my younger brothers. And despite never being an early riser, Christmas morning was always the exception. The anticipation of the stocking, and of the generosity of others, well, it always got me out of bed early. Even this morning, Christmas Eve morning, when I fully expected to sleep well past 8am, I was tossing and turning at 7:15. Seems like I'm eager to get to Mom and Dad's house, and get this show on the road. I mean, you never know what Santa will bring :-)
So, NASA is ending an era with the last space shuttle launch. The 'nauts linked up with the International Space Station, there was good cheer to be had by all, and down here we're supposed to lament and cherish this last bit of space exploration by us 'Mericans for a bit. Hmmmm.
Let's face it, I grew up at the very end of the Cold War, so this 'Space Race' stuff is beyond me a bit. Oh, sure, I love sci-fi movies and stuff, and would love to get a chance to see the earth and everything else from space. Mine is the generation that grew up with "Star Wars" over "Star Trek," but we all knew that space was cool because NASA told us so. Like Captain Kirk told us (actually, told our parents initially...we just got it in re-runs), space is the final frontier. But at the same time, I never understood the big hubbabaloo. I mean, so the government doesn't fund space exploration...so what?
Now that I'm an adult, I'm glad that Sir Dickie Branson and other rich folk are taking up the slack. Isn't that the next step to what we saw in "Total Recall?"
Now, on a different note...with the fog and the few high clouds on this beautiful summer day, we're set up to have a gorgeous sunset. I've got a half(ish) moon to gaze at, and perhaps some constellations. Wonder if the Vulcans are watching us?
Lost Warrior's comment about holiday traditions got me thinking about one in my family: Ramos Fizzes. Depending on who you believe, it was created in New Orleans (by some bartender named Ramos) or in San Francisco (prolly not true, but I'm sticking by this version out of sheer regional pride--and, yes, I truly believe that the martini was created in a bar in Martinez, California...screw NYC). Certainly the recipe in our family is a version of the ones more commonly known...the use of Peychaud's bitters along with lime juice is key in ours. Also, a ton of good gin--well, ok, that's my dad and I, since the bartenders in my family tend to not care as long as the bottle says "gin". Either way, it'll definitely put the Merry in your Christmas...and knock you on your a$$ at the same time.
And now, at 9:35am PST on 22 Dec, I give you the Petrucci Ramoz (note the spelling!) Fizz:
1/2 blender cracked ice
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 lime, juiced
3 jiggers half-and-half (the diary kind, mind you)
5 jiggers gin (make it good, please)
3/4 of an eyedropper of bitters (Peychauds, please) and orange flower water
Blend together, then add about 1 jigger of lemon-lime soda or club soda. Blend quick, and *hiccup* enjoy!
Human behavior is so incredibly fascinating. And how we deal with pressure is a big fascination for me. I still am trying to understand my own behavior, let alone what others do...and how we all feed off of each others' energy and actions.
In the last week, the 'busy season' of the semester has ended--not only did I have a lot of grading to do, but I had exams to create, final plans to set up for, and general bookkeeping to do. I have a tendency to just bear down and slog through everything, finishing on time, and not losing any sleep. Well, that's not exactly true; when I'm stressed, I tend to fall asleep just as quickly as ever, and I think I'm sleeping well, but I don't wake up refreshed in any way. In fact, I start off the day very sluggish, and get through on adrenaline. The other element that crops up when I'm stressed is an absolute craving for carbs--pasta, rice and potatoes especially, but even sugary yummy stuff. This time, the big weakness was Nutella...though at least I had the sense to spread it on whole-grain bread. Of course, considering the amount of work I'm doing and the effort to just get awake in the morning, that's probably the explanation for the carb-craving.
Last week also saw the 'ending' of a 'relationship'--the quotes being employed because the thing lasted a month, and we hardly saw each other, perhaps once or twice a week. Evidently I'm a hard ass...or so I was told. Well, I am, especially when I think someone needs to toughen up. And 'hard-ass' doesn't quite explain it...it's more of a mentality of: 'I have enough stuff going on, and you're whining about trivial crap. Let it go, deal with it...I'll help you find an answer, but, dude, seriously, grow up.' And contrary to opinion, I am in fact very nurturing, but I just can't stand weak men. They don't do much for me.
What qualifies someone as being 'weak'? Whining, for a start, especially since the person in question has a very good life, has always had a very good life, and evidently has never had a moment where his checking account was below $200. And everyone has down moments, periods of frustration, and times where a good cry is necessary--male or female. But acting upon the perceived need to curl up in a ball and cry for hours on end because work is hard and you feel like you bit off more than you could chew because you procrastinated for 2 months on major projects before you started a huge new job, well, that doesn't do much for me. It's unattractive, regardless of the gender of the person. Get your tears out, feel relieved, and then get to solving the problems.
And because I was perceiving this series of emotions emanating from the gentleman in question, I could feel myself gritting up around him. He wanted a shoulder to sob on...and I felt the need to wear my spiked shoulder pads. Completely subconscious in the reaction, but honest nonetheless. So when I was told that he was looking for someone exactly like me, but with the added trait of allowing him to cry all he wants, well, there wasn't much I could do. I agreed that we weren't a good match, and that was that.
The funniest part of that whole exchange was that, perhaps 2 days later, I had two students thank me for letting them vent their frustrations (with tears) and helping them through their very real problems (family issues, in their cases). And when I facetiously told them, bah, I'm not nice at all, I'm a hard-ass...they just busted out laughing. "Only at first, profesora, to keep us in line...and then you show your soft side." See? The students get it.
That's a common phrase among many, who in a bleary-eyed moment are trying to sum up their feelings as they shuffle toward their keyboards in the morning. It's a general feeling of fatigue, or grogginess even.
This is my first, second, and perhaps even third thought this morning.
I'm half-way through my Month of Hell, and for the most part I'm holding up well. I'm only slightly behind my grading, which is an awesome feat considering how many students I have this semester. Three of my projects are running smoothly, and people are pulling up their end of the bargain. The majority of the big weekends is over, and projects are getting their final run-throughs.
The one huge project, however, is a mixed bag.
To put it one way, I've been working until midnight twice this week. Both nights, I had a 12-hour teaching and meeting day, so it's not like I got to take a nap some time in the afternoon. And when I come home from said 12-hour days, I'm only mildly coherent in general. But both days I had to resort of a caffeinated beverage at around 4pm (Dr. Pepper, if you please), just to make sure I stayed awake. How odd is this, you ask? I don't drink caffeine...I had to give it up about 5 years ago, due to my constant drinking of black tea all day long. (The weird part was that I wasn't drinking the tea for the caffeine...I was drinking it because I love it, and it kept me from grazing all day long while working on the dissertation. Oh what I would give for a cup or two of assam tea right now...*sigh*)
So, as I get moving this morning, and prepare for an 8:45am meeting, I'm a little rough. I could use a nap, and indeed one will be mandatory this afternoon, after my other big meeting today. I'm turning into the Little Engine That Could, constantly telling myself, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."
Hopefully soon the mantra will be: "I knew I could! Whew! Now, time to relax!"
(PS--I hate the Eagles...but this is truly the first song title that came to mind. Stupid classic rock station....why do I always wake up to the worst songs???)
Saturday night...after a day of not much, but so much, I feel a melancholy shadow starting starting to creep in. Well, maybe 'melancholy' isn't the right word...definitely it's subdued in nature, and even has elements of uncertainty and doubt in it. This cloud, however, does have a silver lining.
My main teaching gig has me going in different directions. Various groups are asking for my time and effort in order to accomplish a variety of goals. Sure, it's an honor to do so, as they genuinely seem to be interested in my talents. And since it's all in the name of 'college community service', I'm doing many a good deed, in the hopes that it pans out in the end.
Will it get me somewhere? I have no idea. But considering I have an interview in less than 2 weeks for a full-time, tenure-track position at another campus, and I have told precious few at work about it, well, who knows. By the way, the interview for this job has me teaching in both Spanish and Italian, the latter of which I have never taught and, admittedly, I'm rusty. But I can do this. I know I can. I'll be telling myself this for 10 more days, too. In the mean time, you'll be able to find me occasionally in the corner, freaking out momentarily, before I put the self-doubt aside and get to work.
It's a weird sense of split-loyalty that I'm feeling right now. On the one hand, I have zero guarantee that I will get a second interview at that campus, let alone that I'll be granted the position. So part of me says, hey, you have to still focus on your current employer. On the other hand, for all of the work that I have done for them, I'm now running into a massive wall of bureaucracy, one which is seemingly unprecedented on our campus, or at least in recent memory.
I'm on the precipice of change, and I know it. I'm not afraid of change, rather I want it, seek it out, and embrace it. And yet, because my professional fate, as it were, is in the hands of many other people, and I'm being told that my merits will carry me to wherever it is that I'm going, I'm incredibly nervous and edgy. Not that I want to control the situation entirely, but I'd like to know if I have a shot, or if I'm proverbially pissing into the wind. I know it's normal to feel this way, but it doesn't mean that I have to like it.
Wow...I'm sounding like a spoiled brat. Or a whiner. Damn, Sarah, quit yer bitchin!
Decisions, decisions. What is a girl to do? I have choices for my weekend entertainment, and even choices regarding who to spend it with.
I'm dying to go to the beach...I haven't been all summer, although I did go in May. But it's not exactly beach weather: foggy, cold, windy. Actually, it's typical beach weather if we were in June. Oh, wait, this is July. Hmmmm...maybe not.
Part of me wants to go to stay home to work on a new project--doing voice overs on PowerPoints for work. Yeah, yeah, yeah, nerdy, but I'm trying to finish this project by the end of next week, and there is work to do. Besides, I don't even know if I can do this properly here at home--I mean, my colleague-in-the-know said I could, but I don't entirely know what I'm doing. Meh...it can wait until Monday.
I could meet up with a gentleman who wishes to take me out. The problem is that my Spidey-sense tingles just when I talk to him on the phone. You know the type, the ones who pretend like they're looking to build up a relationship, but all they really want is a roll in the hay. Sure, it'd be something to do, to meet up with Mr. Creepy, but I don't exactly want this guy picking me up...then he'd know where I live, and that's not something that a single girl gives up so quickly. Actually, I don't think I'd even want to meet up with him...no, he's just not my type. Ummmm...no, scratch that.
Another 'friend'--or, someone who would like very much to be closer than a friend--wants to meet up. But there's just something odd about him, something I can't put my finger on. Kinda like he's trying to emerge from his cocoon, but has no idea how to do it. Do I give the guy the chance? Well, errr...sounds like a bit of a project, and I'm a bit old for those. (No, really...I gave up on trying to change potential mating partners a LOOOONG time ago...it can't be done, and I don't really want people trying to change me.)
Oooh, with all this cool and foggy weather, I could go for a short hike! Sounds like a ton of fun, actually, and something that I've been trying to work myself up to. Yeah, that's the ticket! Now, which trail?....I'll save that to the morning.
Or...maybe a dinner/movie night? Hmmm...kinda low on cash right now. Then again, I do have a coupon for free ice cream at a decent local chain...perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Especially if I can get someone to join me in the fun. But not Mr. Creepy, and probably not Mr. Shy Guy. I need someone who will be a bit livelier.
Then again...let's see what time I wake up tomorrow...I'm feeling like a good lie in would be a great thing. Yeah...that's about right. Ok, decision has been made...glad you guys could help me with that.
Well, the interview has passed. And my nerves are infinitely calmer for it, too.
I have spent the last week or so cramming as much Italian grammar as I can...which sounds like a lot of studying. But considering this is mid-semester, and that normally implies a mountain of work, I didn't get to study quite as much as I would have liked. Not to mention that I had no time to go to any conversation groups, so my confidence in my speaking abilities was not exactly bolstered.
I knew that in the interview I would have to do 2 different teaching demonstrations--one in Spanish, one in Italian. The Spanish one would be no sweat--I mean, I've been teaching Spanish for 12 years, and this grammar point was one that I did this semester, so my PowerPoint presentation was up to date. But the Italian one? Yeesh...I've never taught Italian, and my confidence was waning.
So instead of conversing with fellow Italian-speakers and getting better, I had to practice my grammar presentation and hope to All That Holy that I wouldn't be asked to do too much more. Regardless, I had practice various grammar elements, spoke Italian when I could (although my cat pretty much ignored me when I spoke to her), and hoped for the best.
Oh, and freak out the entire time. But that's normal.
But, typical for me, once I woke up this morning, the jitters were gone. Sure, I was nervous, but not overly preoccupied with whether I'd do ok. The last few days I've been listening to my Italian rock/pop songs (mostly Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti and Tiziano Ferro), and I played more as I drove the 45-minute drive from my apartment to the interview.
Bottom line, I did fine. On the regular interview questions, I slayed...they seemed genuinely impressed with my committee work and curriculum work, and my other questions seemed to hit the spots that they were looking for. My Spanish demonstration was great, too...but I knew that I'd do well there, too. The Italian demonstration...it went fine. Not great, not excellent, just 'fine'.
I made it
Now, I just have to wait about a week to see if I'll be asked for a second interview, or if I get a 'thanks for participating' email. Regardless, the hardest, most challenging part is over and done with.
Yesterday and today are supposed to be some of the hottest days on record. San Mateo is 20 miles south/southeast of San Francisco, and, as the crow flies, it's approximately 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. But there's a range of 'high hills' (in other parts of the country, they'd be mountains...but they're too short for that, really) in between, so the fog and ocean breezes are affluent. It's what makes this area so amazing...the heat doesn't really come, and the fog cools us off every night.
Except now hehe
Yesterday, "officially," it was 105'F...our thermometer read 107...in the shade. At least it's dry, not sticky, so it's quite palatable. Our downstairs is up against the hill, so it's much cooler than the upstairs; so I split my time in my office (which is downstairs) and the wine cellar. My dad brought up some big fans--he uses them for when he paints, but they came in handy last night, as there was no wind and no fog.
After the sun went down, every window in the house was open to the max, and the fans were blasting. The downstairs cooled off very nicely, which made sleeping comfortable. But, whew! It felt like the Central Valley all over again!
Today Dad's power-washing the house, so it'll be much cooler in here today. But outside it'll be plenty warm; it's 9:48am, and already it's 85'F outside. It'll be another scorcher today!
(By the by...this weather makes for bad editing climes hehe)
2 May 2007. 12noon CDT. That'll be the judgement day.
No, not the one with the pearly gates, and some Peter-man standing there with his list. Instead I speak of the day when my professors decide if I'm worthy enough to stand with them as a colleague.
The 'final' draft will be sent out Tuesday; one month after that I will be in front of my academic setting, answering questions that I've prepared for, as well as others that I haven't.
This is it! I'm geeked for this...I want this so bad, I can taste it. I've worked so hard, and I really hope that everything goes as planned, and that I'm accepted.
So, wish me luck!
Being that it's Presidents' Day Weekend, one of the local classic rock stations did a survey of its listeners, asking them to name the iconic song of each president's term from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan. The survey was put out there by Greg Kihn, a local (and somewhat mildly nationally-recognized) guitarist and band-leader, who does the morning show on that radio station. Nixon's term was represented by Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" (appropriate for so many reasons), I forget Ford and Carter's representatives, but Reagan's was voted as....Van Halen's
This got me to thinking...was Van Halen the most representative rock band of the 80s? And what is it about "Panama" that is so cool?
For me, a kid born in the mid-70s, and an MTV kid, Van Halen was one of the coolest bands ever. Their videos set the tone for much of the goofy, silly, extravagant, party-inducing videos that would come later. But that wasn't the only reason you listened to them...Eddie Van Halen is a bona fide rock god. Seriously...listen to "Panama"...or better yet,
with that mind-blowing solo of Eddie's, and Michael Anthony's bass thumping in the mix. And the beginning of "Runnin With The Devil"......or
...yeah, I'm a happy girl.
Sure, some of the other songs with funnier videos were iconic of the 80s, but if you took just the music...yeah, in many ways, Van Halen was truly iconic of the 80s. And even though I love me some Sammy Hagar, the band just wasn't the same without Diamond Dave wailing and growling away...videos and stage presence aside. Yes, there were many, many other acts of the 80s that could represent the decade--and for various reasons--but I can see the appeal of Van Halen being the representatives. I mean, when you think of Reagan and his crew, isn't the polar opposite Van Halen?
What's sad is to see that Eddie is such an epic rock star that he can't stay dry enough to regain his greatness...Michael decided that he didn't want to put up with Eddie's antics...Diamond Dave is washed up...and does anyone care about Alex? Meh, rock n roll greats aren't meant to go on for ever and ever in the same vein. It seems like the lifestyle and the mentality will destroy the weaker individuals, and make the stronger ones go to other avenues and arenas just to survive into middle age and beyond. Thankfully we have their recordings to remind us of how great they really were.