Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Things to Remember.

First off, when the cookie recipe says "mix dry ingredients," sugar is NOT a dry ingredient. Oh sure, it looks dry, and it feels dry, but if you read just ahead in the recipe you'll see that the sugar is to be creamed with the butter and the eggses in step #2. If you've already gone and mixed it with the other so-called "dry" ingredients at that point, it's just too darn bad. Your blender will threaten to catch fire, and you'll end up having to mix the dry stuff in with your hands, a la bread dough, while watching a repeat of "Cops" from 1987 because your hands are too sticky to operate the remote.

Second, if you live in a humid environment, and you have old varnished wood furniture whose surface gets slightly tacky when moist, don't leave the one "Call of Cthulhu" gaming book you own which is actually worth something (in a collectable sense) sitting on the buffet for a month. You'll be sorry, I guarantee it.

Third, don't do either of the above things when you're having a monthly-hormone-related mood crash. Things that would ordinarily make you irritated instead make you blindingly furious, and things that would make you unhappy instead trigger mad bursts of tears and longing for the sweet release of death. Well, ok, maybe not quite that last bit... But jeez. Could I possibly feel any worse?

Well, of course I could! Andy called me late last night to say that he and Karen were back from Vienna, but their luggage (including car/house keys) was not. Arriving from a day of travel in a pouring rainstorm to find that one's keys are idling somewhere in the Chicago airport, awaiting approval from "homeland security" to continue their journey.... That's worse than ripping the back cover off my copy of Green and Pleasant Land any day. I think. Maybe. Ok, so I'm not really thinking clearly at the moment; but I should be back to normal within 24 hours, in plenty of time for xmas cheer. Happy holidays, y'all.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

The Return of the Blog

Every nerd and his aunt is posting about ROTK this week, I feel certain, and I hate to be trendy. But I do love the sound of my own typing, and it's hard to contain my enthusiasm. Third time pays for all, as Sam would say. Much of my disappointment in The Two Towers has faded, between viewing the extended edition and watching the third movie. Battle scenes were GLORIOUS! Minas Tirith was amazing, that whole sequence where Gandalf is riding Shadowfax up...and up....and up.... Too very cool. Two thumbs up to nearly everything. My only complaints were the obvious ones--no Gandalf-Saruman confrontation? What the hell? It was filmed for TT, they cut it, and then didn't bother putting it in this one either?? What kind of crack is that? Leave out some of Arwen's mooning in Rivendell, if you're worried about run time. I know it'll be in the extended edition; in fact, this rather smacks of intentional "let's make sure we leave out something key so we can put it on the DVD," and that's just ugly. My consternation with their version of Gollum continues, as the scene with dropping the bread over the cliff made little sense to me. (Nerdy aside, for anyone who gives a crap about nitpicky details: in the book, the scene that this dialogue is taken from involves Gollum rethinking his plan to hand the hobbits over to the spider. He's feeling guilty, in fact I think this same episode is where most of the "two personalities" dialogue in movie #2 came from. He's reaching out to pat sleeping Frodo on the head, tentatively affectionate, and then Sam wakes up and says "get your hands off him, what are you doing sneaking around?" or some such. And that ruins it. Bad Gollum takes over, because Sam's a suspicious dickhead. It's one of the great scenes in the book, because you're just like "No no no Sam, you jackass!" but it's too late. In the movie, Gollum's just being evil in this scene, and it has no purpose other than to set up separating Frodo and Sam for some reason. Oh well. Can't have it all.)

Alex made a good Gollum comment--how come he doesn't just burst into flames when he hits the lava? I would, if I fell into a volcano. Perhaps molten rock affects CGI's differently.

The armies of the dead.....soooooo cooooool.....

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Lord. Lord, lord, lord.

It's 4 am. I'd tell you what I thought of the film in great detail, but I have the a massive sinus headache. (Not caused by the film, but somewhat exacerbated by my obligatory crying at the sentimental bits at the end. I feel like the bones in my face are imploding.) So I'll just say, thumbs up. More later. I'm going to go make some toast, and then go to bed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


I was worried that the half-dozen or so people reading this are getting tired of weird animal stories... but Sarah assures me this is not the case. I got suckered by an octopus last week. His name is Omar, and he's the Indy Zoo's giant Pacific octopus. The keeper of the invert. department invited me to watch him feed. "You can pet him," he said. "He likes that." So I did. And Omar petted me back, with approximately 4000 suckers. I swear to god, this was one of the weirdest tactile experiences of my life....

In other news, I saw the extended version of Two Towers this weekend in Chicago with Sarah and Alex. Thumbs up, yo! More Merry, more Pippin, more huorns. More cookies. Oh wait--that wasn't the movie, that was Sarah. Mmmm. Kibble. Biscotti. And I myself just entered the world of holiday candy production this evening with chocolate-covered pretzel sticks rolled in toffee bits. We'll see if it's possible to have well-tempered chocolate without the use of a double boiler OR a candy thermometer.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Mo' Better Bats

Tonight I'm on the final leg of the semester, crossing the finish line, breaking the tape, and doing a victory lap around the classroom. The place: Exhibit Development and Design class. The medium: a team presentation using (ugh) Powerpoint. The topic: bats.

God, I love bats. They're such amazing little creatures... Didja know their brain structure has more in common with that of primates like us than with rodents (which is what they're usually mistaken for)? I'm a member of Bat Conservation International, and when I proposed doing this project I figured no one else would sign on my team and I'd get stuck on the team doing an exhibit on Dress Codes and Clothing... But Team Bat ended up with 4 members, all of whom actually did what they were supposed to do which I think may set some kind of record in the history of group projects. So we designed a zoo exhibit, featuring the Rodriguez Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensus) and the endangered Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) (The real reason I put those Latin names in is because it drives up the hits on my site. Seriously! When I wrote that post about tropical fish a couple months ago my hits jumped up from people searching for Osphrenimus gourami and Colisa fasciata. Of course, I also got hits last week from someone searching for "Terre Haute Gay Sex" and "Brighthouse Cable Sucks." Google isn't very discriminating. Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah, bats.) So I'm whiling away my afternoon writing Bat labels and stealing Bat pictures off the internet for use in the Powerpoint. And struggling with MS Word, which keeps f-ing around with my margins--"Oh, you want an indent here? Then you must want ALL your lines indented!" Stupid sonofabitch program. I know there are ways to turn off autocorrection--but I shouldn't HAVE to go looking for them! The people who want them should bloody well have to go turn them ON.

And I had a job interview this morning. Went fine. Don't expect I'll get the job, but should know in a week either way. And it doesn't involve using MS Word, thank god. (I don't think....)

Friday, December 05, 2003

Yeah, yeah, yeah....

No posts in a week, so sad. But it's finals time, which means projects not actual exams in my case. It's been a whirlwind of projection around here; a design project on Pirates in the Caribbean, a project on the exhibition of human beings as artifacts in World's Fair settings, and a project on Bats: Our Nocturnal Pals. The latter two of these involved my learning to use MS Powerpoint. Like all MS products, it has many "features" which I find irritating or counter-intuitive; but I must say, it's a fairly effective visual tool. I gave a 20 minute presentation on Humans on Display tonight, and used powerpoint just as a way of getting some cool pictures up on the screen while I was talking. Naturally, the first question I got after I finished presenting was about my slide of The Camel Girl. Not about my insightful commentary on the ethics and implications of live human display at fairs and museums.... No, it was "What was the deal with that girl on slide #4???" I love it. When I get a chance I'll upload the jpg of her, and then you too can ask me, who IS the Camel Girl?.... All right, it's back to projectville. I'm done on Monday. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

A Little Trip Down Memory Lane

Tomorrow, of course, is Thanksgiving, and as usual, I'm the one in charge of Pies. This year the Pie Commitment has been reduced, I'm only doing 2 pumpkin and no fruit pie. Still, to accomplish the task I needed to borrow a pie dish from my mom, since I only own one; I also needed to borrow the two-level pie carrier she inherited from her grandmother (affectionately known as the "Port-O-Pie.") So this morning I'm down in their basement, unearthing the Port-O-Pie from where it's been sitting since last Thanksgiving, and I'm suddenly confronted with one of those deja-vu, childhood comes rushing back to smack you in the face moments.... in the form of a small red paperback book titled Roughing It Easy, by one Dian Thomas.

Now, I've never actually read this book, mind you. I think my mother purchased it when she was the leader of my Girl Scout troop in elementary school, and she felt that she should take us camping despite her own general dislike for the rugged life. It's a cookbook of "things you can cook over a campfire," and so far as I remember it was only used once--but that once is indelibly inscribed on my brain. When I was a kid, we'd go up to my grandmother's house on Lake Wawassee in northern Indiana for about a week every summer. Our family friends the Hoskins from Kentucky would join us, and it was the high point of the summer for me. The summer that Roughing It Easy came into mom’s posession, she decided we should try it out before unleashing any of its recipes on the Girl Scout Troop (we were a little squirrelly, after all.) So one morning, bright and early, Mom announces that we kids are not to have our usual cereal and toast, but should wait for the completion of a camping delicacy called “BREAKFAST IN A BAG.”

Yes. Breakfast in a Bag. A brown paper bag, with strips of bacon laid across the bottom, an egg or two cracked into the bag, and then you put the whole thing on the Weber grill. Oh sure--you say you see the flaw here, and so did we.... But Dian Thomas said it would work! It was in Roughing It Easy! We trusted Dian not to lead us astray. Which is, of course, why it was so shocking and heartbreaking to us when the bag burst into 3 foot high flames on the grill. My father and Mr. Hoskins had already clearly stated their refusal to be a part of this project, so it fell to me to run for the hose. Mrs. Hoskins was our camera operator, and the whole thing was immortalized in slide show format:
SLIDE ONE: My mom proudly displaying the contents of the bag
SLIDE TWO: Bag sitting on grill
SLIDE THREE: Bag looking slightly blackened on one corner
SLIDE FOUR: Weber Grill engulfed in flame
SLIDE FIVE: Charred bag dissected to reveal solid rectangular mass of burned egg and bacon at bottom
SLIDE SIX: Mr. Hoskins sitting in a lawn chair covering his eyes with his hands.
As I said, the whole thing is a fond childhood memory of family bonding. And burning. It’s just as well that no one is here at my house with slide film for the making of the pies every year.

Friday, November 21, 2003

The Pot Calling the Kettle Pork.

I was in the corner grocery store at 11:30 tonight buying breakfast cereal and milk. I love going to the store that late because there’s a sort of surreal quality to walking up and down the spotlessly mopped aisles, all alone... But more surreal than the clean floors and the canned Neil Diamond playing on the overhead speakers this evening was the fact that a featured product in the frozen foods case was the Large Bucket O' Chitterlings. Each door panel of the freezer cases had a single large bucket right in the middle of it, prominently positioned in such a way that someone reaching in for non-chitterling frozen food might still stand a good chance of knocking it off the shelf and onto their foot, causing a grevious chitterling injury. And it occurred to me that despite living in Indiana for the bulk of my lifetime, I’m still not entirely clear on what exactly chitterlings are. I mulled this over as I picked up milk and corn chex, and strolled to the canned foods section to get some quick and easy dinner. I mean, they’re pig parts--but what part of the pig exactly are they? They’re not like pork rinds, I don’t think... Maybe you could tell by looking at them; but hell if I’m going to open one of those tubs. (This is sort of like when I was living in Chicago and found myself confronted with menudo blanco for the first time. Shudder.) So I’m thinking about how some people will eat anything... and then I look down at my hand and realize I am carrying a can of Franco-American Spaghetti-Os, with “meat” balls, up to the counter. Do I have room to be critical of the chitterling eaters of this world? No, my friends, I think not.

Oh yeah, the reason I was at the store so late was because I went to hear Emily, who was opening for Vienna Teng. I missed Em’s part of the show, thanks to my Thursday class; disappointing. But there was Guinness on tap, and the main act was excellent, y’all check her out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Progress Is Progress

Hooray for Massachusetts, whose Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday that the state must offer the right to marry to single-sex couples. It's been quite an eventful year, legally, for the gay community.

On the one hand, I'm thrilled. It baffles me how states that recognize common-law marriage (which I'm not sure if MA does or not) can justify discrimination against same-sex couples in similarly long term yet not legally formalized partnerships. Two things worry me, though. One is the term "marriage." Apparently a large segment of the American public declares itself to be opposed to "gay marriage," and asserts that a "marriage" should be defined as involving one man and one woman. But another good size chunk of the American population believes that workplace benefits should be extended to people in same-sex relationships... So it strikes me here that a lot of the resistance to this concept could be neutralized if the word "marriage" is taken out of the equation. Fine, call it "legal partnership"--hell, call it "Grbzniak." We're getting grbzniaked, want to come? But if this makes more people comfortable with the concept, it seems like a small concession to make. I bring it up because someone on NPR this morning was expressing dismay that the MA ruling did not completely shut out the possibility of legislation to strictly define marriage (which several states have already done.) Getting bogged down on the technicality of what to call it when gay folks git hitched seems to me to dilute the impact of the real progress that's being made here. It's not that I don't see their point, but if you can get around the people legislating "marriage" by calling it something else, I say do it. That's part of my second concern, which is that this is an election year, and this has the potential to be a rallying issue for a lot of people. If there are folks out there who are unhappy with Mr. Bush's handling of the Iraq situation and unhappy with the economy, but still want to express a strong opposition to gay marriage, this could be a big stumbling block to the push for change in the White House. The thought that we could win this battle but lose the war is a frightening one to me....

Ok, back to writing papers. Stupid school, cutting in on my blogging time.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

I'm Nothing If Not Responsive To My Public

Halloween Photos, including the now-famous Demon Bunny of the Mexican Apocalypse, are here. Note that even Mighty Cthulhu himself is learning at the feet of the true Master.

For anyone interested in heavy theological discussion, you can check out my questions to Tripp and his responses on his weblog.

Butler seems to be having some sort of event today; I'm guessing football. A booming loudspeaker voice is audible through my closed windows... it's sort of Orwellian, for all I know he could be saying "Big Brother Is Your Friend! Trust the Computer!" and it's all just subliminally seeping into my head. "George Bush Is Your Friend! Drilling in the Alaskan Reserve Is Good! Iraq Is Not a Quagmire!" Yeek. I sure hope it's just football.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Doing My Civic Doody

If you had said to me, "Gosh, Cathy, which day of the week that you've been summoned for jury service would be the worst possible day for you to actually get called in?" the answer would certainly have been "Thursday!" Without a doubt. It's the day I volunteer at the zoo, and also happened to be the one day this week when I actually had meetings scheduled at The Children's Museum to try to accomplish something meaningful for my internship. Naturally, well....

First I was late. Because I'm always late for things. I made it to the City-County building, suffered through the "why you should feel guilty for wanting to skip out of here" video (for the fourth time, I get called for jury duty like clockwork every 2 years or so,) filled out the paperwork, and eventually got called to one of the criminal courts. I sensed doom when I was jury # 9 out of the 32 of us in the room.... and while an astonishing 7 jurors got recused, I did not. Time to cancel all my appointments. Got to go for lunch at the City Market, which is always a happy thing; I love the food, I love the architecture, I love the ambiance. I had Jamaican for lunch, headed back to the CC building and got to spend about 30 minutes listening to evidence, and 20 in deliberation, trying to convince 2 obstinate people that it's fair to say the legal definition of "operating a motor vehicle" is "behind the wheel, with the engine running and the car in gear, applying pressure to the gas pedal so the car moves forward." I mean, come on.... if that's not operating it, what is? Still, after 20 minutes we came around to a unanimous verdict. I got to be the foreman, but I didn't get to say "Your Honor, we the Jury find the defendant guilty of the charge of Driving While License Suspended For Life," which I'd kind of looked forward to doing. In Indiana, you hand a piece of paper to the judge, and she reads it. Oh well. Being a jury foreman isn't just about the glamour, you know. It's about civic duty. And about $40 plus mileage.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Trials and Tulips

On the one hand, it was a bad weekend in that I did almost nothing of an academic nature. November is ticking away, like sands through the hourglass (or maybe, like ticks through the hourglass...an hourglass full of ticks? Ugh) and I'm as usual behind on the semester's projects. To increase my sense of impending doom, I managed to totally blow an assignment--was supposed to attend one lecture, movie, or event at the Eiteljorg Museum's new exhibit opening...which I thought was this past weekend....only it was the weekend before. The only thing I could possibly have still attended by the time I found out I'd gotten the time wrong was the $50 a head gala opening dinner. Which required reservations. Doh, doh doh doh, DOH! Doh.

On the other hand, I got to spend a day in Terre Haute, IN, planting tulip bulbs for my friend Emily's mom. This came about rather suddenly:
I'm in the slowest line ever at the post office at 11 am Saturday. Glaciers move faster than the Broad Ripple postal clerks. Suddenly, my cell phone vibrates, causing me to react like someone just slipped an electric eel down my pant leg. I manage to fumble it out of my pocket, trying to look cool and sophisticated, like I get calls on my cell all the time.
ME: Uh, oops, dammit--Hello?
EMILY: Hey, what's up?
ME: In line at the post office. What's up with you?
EMILY: What're you doing today?
ME: Other than waiting in this line, not a lot, why?
EMILY: Good. Come over, you're going to Terre Haute with me.
ME: OK, I--I'm what?
Sure enough, a couple hours later I was planting about 200 tulip bulbs in Mrs. W's front yard, after which I was fed almost to the point of explosion, and got to watch a lovely clear view of the lunar eclipse over their lake. Not a bad tradeoff, really. I'd like to think there'll always be room for spontaneous tulip planting in my day-to-day life. The papers will get written eventually, regardless.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

...DRINK 3097 IS ON ITS WAY!...

That was the message scrolling across the little LED screen on the coffee machine as I stood in the basement of Cavenaugh Hall waiting for it to pony up my 50 cents worth of caffienated beverage. I don't know about you, but getting a message like that increases my excitement about the beverage experience by leaps and bounds.... It's not even just "YOUR COFFEE IS ON ITS WAY!" It's got its own little ID number; presumably now, DRINK 3097 is immortalized forever in the memory space of the coffee machine as having been strength 2, whitener 1, sugar 0, small. Call me crazy, but I feel just a bit more special knowing that! Hmmm, maybe it's just that DRINK 3097 is finally kicking in....

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Stretch Before You Vote...

The democratic process remains alive and well here in Rocky Ripple, Indiana; I myself hopped on my bicycle at 10:45 this morning to pedal squeakily over to the Town Hall to cast my ballot. Unfortunately, as this is the first time I've hopped on my bike for several weeks, by the time I got to the polling place (a mere half-mile from my house) my thighs were burning and I had to walk it off for a minute before going in. (Pathetic. To think I used to be a collegiate athlete--albeit a pretty lazy and ineffective one.)

Rocky Ripple is a town of about 300 residents, encased within metropolitan Indianapolis but cut off from the city by water on all sides; two small bridges are all that prevents us from having to swim to the grocery store. Well, no--you could also hike through some scrubby woods and escape that way, if you had to. Anyway, so it's like living in small-town America, except we don't have a Wal-Mart--just houses. Everyone knows everyone, for the most part.... And Election Day is a major event. This is a Town Council election year, and like all small towns we have candidates on the Democratic ticket, the Republican ticket, and the Nutjob ticket. It wasn't possible to vote straight Nutjob this year, as they'd split their forces between Democrat and Republican. So I opted against voting for people who I believe to be certifiably insane, and instead carefully split my vote between the two major parties' uncrazy candidates. My first observation at the polls was that one should never vote straight party anyway; I saw two people in great consternation because they realized (after marking their ballots) that since there is no Democratic contender for Town Treasurer, a straight ticket vote means they cast no vote for that office at all. (not that it's going to matter, as the same lady has been town treasurer for about 20 years and it would probably take a demolition crew to remove her from the office. Hell, she knows what she's doing, I cheerfully voted for her.) My second observation is that the new scantron voting system sucks. Indianapolis used old-style lever machines up through last year, and it was a lot less nerve-wracking. Observation #1 would not have been an issue with a lever machine, it's instantly clear with those things who you've voted or not voted for before you register your ballot. Now mind you, I'm not entirely clear on what happens after you pull the curtain lever in the old machines; maybe they never tabulated my votes correctly, and they were prone to getting jammed and needing emergency fixes on election day. But somehow it still seemed more decisive and reliable than filling in bubbles and feeding my ballot into the orifice of a faintly malevolent-looking machine. So I'm a Luddite. So sue me.

Monday, November 03, 2003

For God So Loved The World....

I have, once again, been shown God's greatest gift to the world. It's not the light of His Love...nor is it His only son, placed on this earth to suffer for our sins.... No, God's greatest gift bestowed upon mankind is The Mulching Mower.

It's true. Anyone who has ever spent all of fall struggling with rakes, leaf blowers, and bags, only to discover the power, ease, and speed of a mulching mower will be with me on this theological bandwagon. Mine happily self-propelled itself all over my yard with only a gentle guiding hand from me, chopping leaves into powder at my command. Two hours and a minimum of sweat later, I was done. Yes, the Lord is good.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Mixed Emotions

Well, I found out yesterday I didn't get the job at the zoo. My efficiency, "can-do" attitude and cheerful demeanor were trumped by someone who was actually--get this--QUALIFIED for the job. Can you believe it? Really, though, I don't blame them.... It's disappointing in that I'd like to have my foot in the door at the zoo (gardening job now, exhibit developer sometime in the distant future? ok, so it was a long shot) and in that I really enjoyed working on the Hort Staff this summer; it would have been fun to keep that up. But when you come right down to it my knowledge of basic horticulture is spottier than a cheetah's backside. I pretty much knew if they could get someone with a solid hort background to accept the modest salary, I'd be out of the running. And so it went.

Naturally, I'm feeling sad about this. No one likes being rejected, even when they understand why it's happened. I look forward to feeling this way again in a few weeks, when I don't get the two jobs I've applied for at the State Museum. But Halloween cheered me up, of course--sugar, gaming, more sugar, beer, sugar. Then today I got a package in the mail from Mil Millington, whose "Things" page is linked over on the left there. (He's sent me a copy of his book, also coincidentally called "Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About," and I highly recommend it. So far, anyway.) So that lifted my spirits further. And THEN, to bring me almost entirely out of my dark jobless fog, in the paper today I read this, followed immediately by this. At least when I drop my eventual cell phone down a public toilet, I won't be the first to make national news doing it.

Friday, October 31, 2003

The Bestest Day of the Year

Hooray! It’s Halloween again, and this year I am NOT watching AMC and waiting for trick or treaters to avoid my house and force me to eat all my candy myself. No sir, I’m sidestepping my usual pattern and instead, I’m doing what all good nerds should do on the night of All Souls... I’m playing Call of Cthulhu. (Holy shit, I actually just had two little boys come to the door. Quote: “You were right, Sean. Reese’s must make a ton of money.” Apparently all my neighbors are on the same peanut butter cup bandwagon as I am... Dang. Sorry, guys.) Anyway, my house is decorated with all the spooky stuff I’ve accumulated over the years--but the scariest thing in it, doubtless, is the creepy blue bunny piniata Alex gave me for my birthday, which is full of some of the nastiest, most unidentifyable Mexican candy imaginable. I’m thinking of forcing my guests to thrust their hands into its head and eat whatever they grab, as proof of their Halloween spirit....

Monday, October 27, 2003

As Promised....

The Dish Network came and went today. Yes, the trees on my property betrayed me; the trees were one of the reasons I bought this place, and now this is biting me in the proverbial ass. (And yes, I do have a proverbial ass. Check it out.) The Dish dude searched my entire property for any southwest access not blocked by tree trunks, and failed. So now I'm stuck. Do I keep cable? Do I reduce access to the barest of TV essentials? Or do I give it up altogether? God, what an agonizing choice.

For anyone who hasn't met my friend Jeremy, you may not quite have grasped the scope of his evil genius simply in my telling you about him. He's one of my favorite people for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his ability to pull off practical jokes on a grand scale. No, really grand. He once stole a massive wall hanging/quilt (which I made myself and am obsessively protective of) out of my apartment and replaced it with an equally massive wall map of the Former Soviet Union. That was small potatoes though, he saves his true genius for Sarah. When they were in high school, he helped host a birthday party for her wherein all of the gifts were a) given to her sister as if everyone thought it was HER birthday, and b) were Sarah's own posessions, carefully stolen from her room and painstakingly wrapped. When Sarah ended up living in the same city as Jeremy, she made the mistake of allowing him to apartment-sit for her while she was out of town. She returned, at some ungodly hour of the morning, to find her apartment covered in crime-scene tape, masking-tape body outlines, and splashes of ketchup. His best prank on her, his true tour-de-force, sadly never came to fruition. But this was not for lack of trying on his part, and I highly recommend you read the whole sordid story! It's on Sarah's website, here, and after reading it, you too will Know The Evil That Is Jeremy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

15 Minutes? Or Was That Seconds....?

My figure painting service is being featured on The Miniatures Page! I'm doing a "workbench" project for them wherein they send me some figures, I paint them and photograph the process step by step, and they put the pix up on the website for other nerds to gander at. If you'd like to take a look at the article, it's here.This could mean an increase in business--not a bad thing, as right now I'm closing in on finishing a couple of big jobs. That'll leave me with two regular customers who always have stuff for me to paint, but with the economy the way it is a few more jobs would be good.... Anyway, check out the article!

Monday, October 20, 2003

Fear of Commitment...

Jane's blog asks, "How do you know when it's time to get married?" An excellent question. As I told her in email today, the best time is when your unemployed friend in Indiana has saved enough money to fly to San Francisco for the ceremony. But for me, not having marriage prospects at the moment, a far more pressing question is, "How do you know when it's time to get a cell phone?"

Right now I'm paying $58.02 a month for my cable service. That's just for the extended basic package which doesn't include any "pay" channels.... And frankly, that's nuts. I finally got around to looking into other options, and have settled on DISH Network, which will give me everything I want for about $35 a month, and that includes a DVR. (The major tragedy is that their basic package doesn't include Animal Planet, which I watch like a fiend. But if I get a job, I can expand my package for another $5 or so a month, and I'm still saving money from cable.) The big hitch, of course, is that my house is completely surrounded by trees, and when the DISH people come on Monday they're probably going to say, "Sorry, no signal!" and I'll be left, weeping, to choose between Brighthouse Cable and nothing at all. But setting that whole issue aside, if I make the switch then I'll be saving about $25 a month. For $35 a month, I can have a cell phone....

So how do I know? How do I know when it's time for me to take another struggling step into the world of modern technology? How do I know when I'm mature enough to commit to a two-year contract with 300 Anytime Minutes and Unlimited Nights and Weekends? I could have done it today, at Radio Shack, while sealing the deal on the dish. But I was afraid. Afraid of the contract.... Afraid of another bill in my mailbox... Afraid of my innate ability to lose small, expensive metal objects. What if I drop it down a storm drain or something? That kind of thing isn't unprecidented for me. On the other hand, sure would be nice to be able to call people from the road when I'm out and about. Would have come in handy when I locked myself out of the house the other day. Maybe I really am ready! Maybe I really am a grown-up!

I want one that looks like a Star Trek communicator.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

A Wild World of Nausea

Drove up to Ball State University yesterday for my one academic conference of 2003, sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Early Studies. I've no idea what "Early Studies" are, as the paper topics seem to range from ancient Egyptian artifacts to 17th century poetry and philosophy. Maybe "early" is code for "anything you want to send us a paper on since we're a small conference and we need all the material we can get to flesh out the program." Not that there's anything wrong with this, mind you! I usually go to a huge medieval studies conference in Kalamazoo each spring, and while it pretty much stays medieval (with occasional Shakespeare on the high end) I am usually guaranteed of hearing 2-3 papers which I do NOT understand in the slightest, and at least 1 where some poor young grad student is savaged by the tribal elders for not properly checking her sources. The CAES conference, while tiny by comparison and having far fewer sessions, is a more friendly and inclusive atmosphere, and there are papers given which I actually feel well-read enough to comment on. I don't think I've ever made a comment in a session at Kalamazoo... but I babbled a good bit at CAES about such diverse topics as Margery Kempe, Tolkien's love/hate relationship with Celticism, and Arthurian heroes.

So where was I going with this? Hmmm.... Oh yeah! So the two things I remembered from last year's CAES conference were Greek's Pizzaria, and a little used bookstore called the White Rabbit. (I would have remembered more, I'm sure, but I gave a paper last year and most of the experience was lost in a white haze of nervousness.) The White Rabbit is owned by a guy who is a stereotypical geek--he's erudite, overweight, unwashed, plays RPGs and watches ceaseless sci-fi network. I like him a lot, needless to say, and we had a pleasant conversation last year that made me look forward to seeing his store again. So after a pizza at Greek's, I stopped into the Rabbit, and we chatted for about a half hour about MST3K, Cthulhu, etc etc and so on. Talk turned to bad movies, and of course I had to bring up "Sorceress" and "Legend of the Superheroes." (Which, incidentally, has been responsible for about 60% of the hits I get on this site. People look for that movie on Google every damn day! I have to wonder if they know what they're asking for...) I asked jokingly if there were any bad movies in his video section I should be aware of....

$6 later, I walked out the proud owner of "The Wild World of Bat Woman." MY. GOD. What a total reek of a film. I had planned to let it fester a few days, but Emily offered to watch it with me last night and I figured it would be better with company than alone. It was HORRIBLE. I cannot convey its awfulness in mere words. Yes, Li, it's worse than "Legends." It's still not worse than Sorceress, but it's as close as it gets. The acting stinks. The dialogue stinks. The premise stinks. It combines moments which are just nightmarishly dull with moments that make you go, "I'm sorry, what the fuck are they DOING in this scene??" The best/worst part, really, is that fact that no one in this stupid town where this is taking place seems to think it odd that there is a busty middle-aged woman, wearing a skimpy black costume made of monkey fur and ostrich feathers, with a cult of go-go dancing followers wandering around claiming to fight crime. (Never mind that the only actual crime depicted in the film, a mugging/homicide, goes on right in front of two of the idiot Bat Girls, and they don't do anything about it!) As you can see, I'm still recovering. It may take a couple days.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Jurassic, Schmurassic.

This week (that is to say, last Friday) I got to go on a field trip to the Cincinnati Museum Center with my museum studies intro class. Now, I haven't been on a field trip in quite some time; it was a heady rush, deciding how to spend my pocket money on trinkets and lunch options, and remembering to be back at the bus by 3:30 Ohio Time, which is 2:30 Indiana Time. (Hearing my teacher say this brought back a wash of memories of school band trips to King's Island, which were always punctuated with the mantra, "Ohio Is An Hour Ahead....Ohio Is An Hour Ahead..." I can't blame them, in a crowd of 40 5th Graders you're always going to have a few who just don't get the concept of time zones.) We went there to talk to some exhibit designers about controversial exhibits--how does one handle controversial topics in a museum? It was interesting and thought-provoking. And then we saw an I-Max film and ran around the museums for two hours.

So this brings me back to another controversial topic, namely the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which I mentioned in an earlier post. Nobody who responded in comments seemed particularly disturbed by the MJT.... But for those who didn't check out the link, it's a fictional museum. It exists physcially, you can go to it and see the exhibits pictured on the website... But none of it is true. The information presented in the exhibits about the habits of the Deprong Mori Bat or the works of neuropsychologist Geoffrey Sonnabend is purely fictional. The history of the museum is fictional. It's all one big joke. Yet every element of the museum is presented with the utmost sincerity and gravity, and if you were not paying attention, you might well believe everything this museum is telling you. Which is exactly what happened to about half of my classmates, and when the truth was revealed, they were furious. A lively debate ensued about what makes a museum a museum, whether the MJT can be classified as a museum or not, and whose responsibility it is to ferret out the truth. Personally, I think the MJT is great--it shows up just how easily we are manipulated into believing "facts" simply by trusting in the authority which presents them to us, complete with footnotes. But there were some in the class who were livid that a museum might, under some circumstances, lie to you. And yet we read lies in books and on museum panels all the time, assuming it's true because it's in black and white in front of you and seems to come from a credable source. A healthy skepticism is a valuable tool....

And on that note, Jeremy has some good links this week to info about the Diebold Voting Machine controversy. Books, museums, vote tabulation--it's good to know what's actually backing them up.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Beer. It's What's For Breakfast.

Beer bread, that is. It's been so freakin' cold here that I went ahead and made beer bread on Monday. Talk about a power breakfast; coffee with a slab of baked flour, butter, and beer. I needed it this morning, as I woke up with one of my total destructo headaches.

I really hate this; I've been non-functional for the better part of the day. I call them migraines, but really don't know if that's what they are in a clinical sense. All I know is, I get them once a month (predictably) and for about 8 hours I'll be nauseated, achy, light-sensitive, depressed, and miserable. Drugs help, but for some reason today I just wasn't able to shake it off. So I got almost nothing done. While it's going on I can't really read, or paint, or use the computer for more than a few minutes, or watch TV... I can sleep, but I avoid napping in the middle of the day because it throws my internal clock way off. GAH! Now it's after 5, I've got a game to run at 7, and I finally feel able to concentrate long enough to actually do some reading. Which is what I should be doing instead of posting to my weblog. Right. I'm off, then.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

A Little Ray of Commentary Sunshine

Well, the links are there, so let's see if it works. Many thousand thanks to Karen, whose blog uses the same template as mine and who copied and pasted the exact locations of the Enetation code for me to sort out. Not sure why this was so complicated... Probably just because it's me.

All right, well, so the first use for comments is as follows. As you know, I'm embarking on a career in the museum field soon (very soon! Really! Any day now!) and the classes I'm taking this semester are "Intro to Museum Studies" and "Exhibit Design." I've also got an internship at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. So naturally I'm thinking a lot about museums, why they're important, what it's all about and so on. For class this week, I paid a virtual visit to a unique sort of museum, called The Museum of Jurassic Technology. The class discussion on this museum got somewhat heated, and I'll go into that on a future post. But I'd like to hear what you guys think of it first. Go on, click the link and check it out. Take your time, then come back and leave me a comment telling me what you thought of the MJT. I'll wait.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

No Comments, Folks...

It's like a domino effect, I start adding goofy stuff to my web log and then I can't stop. First it was sitemeter, now it's comments. The catch is, I can't figure out if I'm sticking the code in the right orifice, so to speak... Guess I'll see when I publish this tripe.

In other news, I found out last week that my former supervisor at the Zoo (we'll call him Dave, because that's his real name) up and quit; the old I'm-giving-you-two-weeks-notice-oh-by-the-way-I'm-taking-my-two-weeks-paid-vacation-starting-now trick. Sigh.... I'd say I expected better of Dave, except...well... Anyway, so now I'm thinking about applying for his job. On one hand, it's a job at the zoo, working with people I mostly like, it's something I spent all summer doing so I know what I'd be getting into, and it has benefits which I sorely need. On the other, it's the most boring gardening job at the zoo--no animals, no people, just lawn care, flowers, traffic on West Washington street, and a hell of a lot of trash pickup. I tried hard not to let this get to me when I was seasonal, and even with that by the end of the summer I was taking any excuse to leave the perimeter and go work in someone else's area. I once actually abandoned all dignity and begged the Deserts area gardener to pretend he had something for me to do so Dave would loan me out. Dave, being an anti-social sort in some ways, was not particularly bothered by the isolated nature of his area; me, I want a little human contact. Especially because I live alone, the thought of working alone for the better part of each day is pretty unappealing. But still, it's the Zoo for god's sake. It's a job in a museum, in Indianapolis, which doesn't require me to sell my house (at least until I can't pay the mortgage any more.) So I'm gonna see if they'll interview me, and go from there. Cross the boredom bridge when we come to it, you know?

Friday, September 19, 2003

Avast, Ye Scurvey Dawrgs, and Heave To!

Tis International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and frankly I've talked like a pirate so much I've started to repeat myself. I tend to fall back on cliches when speaking pirate. My friend Emily, on the other hand, left a 45 second fluently piratical message on my voice mail that delved into entirely new levels of high seas vocabulary. I was impressed. Also slightly frightened.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Mazel Tov, T & T!

My buddy Tripp in Chicago is gettin' married! And while I haven't yet met Trish, she must be a kick-ass person or Tripp wouldn't be marrying her--such is my considered opinion.

I got to know Tripp while I was at grad school at Loyola; he and Jersild were kind enough to include me in their social activities despite my being a good friend of Jeremy's. Tripp's a great guy, he and I have had some wonderufl discussions /debates on church history, religion, philosophy--all things I love talking about, and all things I don't get to debate that often these days! A while back, he made the big decision to embark on a pastoral career and headed up to Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (in whose library I spent many happy--and a few unhappy--hours researching my master's thesis.) This seemed to me to be a perfect fit; and it gives me joy to know that the friends I have who've chosen the pastorate as a life commitment are people who really embody what Christianity is supposed to be all about--kindness and caring for your fellow man. So congrats, Tripp and Trish! In hoc signo vinces....

Monday, September 15, 2003

Gone Fishin.

Yesterday I added new fish to my tank for the first time in quite a while. Both my neon blue gouramis died last month, due to extremely poor fish-care techniques on my part; I have no one to blame but myself. It's not like when Red died, and I went to great lengths to try to rescue him (though I did evac gourami #2 to a hospital bowl for a day or so to see if it would help. It didn't.) So I did pennance: a massive water change, cleaned the hell out of the tank, added Stress-Cote Slime Replacement Fluid to help the other fish get over the loss.... Then waited a month for the tank to settle itself out. So I'd been reading about these anabantoids called Paradise Fish, and figured I'd give them a try instead of just getting more blue gouramis. (Which are also anabantoids, as are Siamese Fighting Fish. I think it means they can breathe at the surface.) Went to The Reef, my pet store of choice, and found that the Paradise Fish tank was full of albino Paradise Fish. Now, I'm not opposed to albinism on principle, but these fish were frankly creepy looking--and I want more color in my tank, not less. It's a very dark tank, too, the back glass is painted black and the substrate is dark, so white fish would look really ghostly and odd. Instead I say, how about those Black Paradise Fish hiding behind the filter? Reef guy says sure, they're cool, I'll net two out for you--and sure enough, they're gorgeous. Not really black, more dark gold with blue stripes and red fins....actually they look a lot like gouramis... Turns out this is because they ARE gouramis; the Giant Gourami to be exact. The guy at the checkout informs me that the tank was mislabeled, the only Paradise Fish they have are the albinos, and I've got Giants. I say, "Whoa. Don't those grow to be like 20" long?" He says, "No no--there are two kinds of Giant Gouramis. These are the other ones." Riiiiiight. Like I believe THAT. But I bought them anyway, because I was embarassed and didn't want to argue with him.

Damned if there aren't two completely different fish called Giant Gouramis. One is Osphronemus gourami, grows to the insane size of 2 feet long, and is raised for food in its native India and Malaysia. The other is Colisa Fasciata, two of which are enjoying the relative peace of my tank where they are not being constantly assaulted by roving gangs of albino Paradise Fish. They're gorgeous. I'm in love.

Friday, September 12, 2003

An Excitable Boy, They All Said...

Well, Warren Zevon died last weekend. Another great talent lost--though my shallow music collection contains no Zevon albums, I think it’s telling that the very first song I ever downloaded off Limewire was “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.” He’s always been one of the artists on my “love him when he comes on the radio, one of these days if I ever have money I should pick up some CD’s...” list. So, sad to see him gone.

Not much else to mention this week, I’ve spent hours and hours painting, trying to finish up three different commissions at once and save myself an extra trip to the Post Office. My car blew its head gasket (actually that happened over a month ago, but it took this long to figure it out) and I got to spend $860 on the repair. IUPUI’s Financial Aid Office is auditing my application; they are a thorn in my flesh. (I'd blame "Legends of the Superheroes" for both these things, but that'd be giving the movie a lot of credit...) On the up side, though, the kitchen and bathroom are still clean, and it’s been a whole week. Um. Yeah! I ruuule!!

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Better Than Sorceress... But That's Not Saying Much.

I'm a big fan of bad films. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 was one of my favorite programs (especially during the Joel Years.... Oh, Joel.... how we miss you and your deadpan delivery...) and during college we made a point of watching every bad sword and sorcery flick Empire Video had on offer. Until recently, my benchmark for bad was Sorceress, a film whose only redeeming quality is occasional nudity. In the words of Aaron Shattuck, " this movie does its best to wedge a tent spike into your soul." (For his full plot synopsis and painfully apt commentary on this horrible waste of celluloid, click here.) Now, I am not saying that Sorceress has been surpassed in my annals of badness; but Rob certainly gave it a run for its money last night.

"Legends of the Superheroes" was a made-for-TV movie on the order of the old "Batman" series, right to the point of including Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshin reprising their roles as campy sendups of comic book originals. I loved "Batman," mind you. It's some of the best parody TV ever created. Now, imagine if you will, the "Batman" TV show--without a SINGLE REDEEMING COMIC FEATURE. Now you're getting closer to what "Legends of the Superheroes" is like. It's awful. Spectacularly so. A bunch of supervillains--badsupervillains, mind you, like Weather Wizard and Gargantua--sitting around their incredibly poorly-furnished secret lair, decide to end the world with a doomsday device (a large clock which descends from the ceiling) and to give the Justice League clues so that they'll try to foil the evil plan. They don't even TRY to make that make sense! The Justice League, for their part, goes rushing around trying to find the bad guy lair; the unifying feature is that since apparently they don't have wrist communicators or an answering service, the superheroes plan to leave messages for each other at the corner gas station. Everyone ends up at the gas station at some point or other, and the only--ONLY--funny thing in this movie is the black lady--played by Marsha Warfield--using the pay phone at the gas station: "Child, you would not believe what just walked in here. A big white guy with wings. Yeah, wings. Now he's talking to that ugly dude I told you about...." The movie's piece de resistance is a jet ski battle between Batman and Robin, and some sorceror dude called "Mordu." Oh, god... But wait! There's more! Apparently the producers of this...thing...somehow got the funding to do a sequel, which Rob also has on tape. It's worse. Far, far worse. It's got Ed McMahon. And a musical number from a supervillain. And a guest appearance by one of the most offensive stereotypes I have ever seen in my life--Ghetto Man! Yes. It's things like this that set the civil rights clock back during the 1970's... It's not even funny, it's just painful.

So was it worse than Sorceress? Li thinks so. I'd have to say that comparing the two is like apples and oranges; you have to take the filmmakers' intent into account, and the people who made Sorceress were really under the impression that they were making a quality fantasy film on the order of Conan. "Legends of the Superheroes" was intended to be campy, corny, and stupid. All goals it admirably achieved--without actually being FUNNY in any way shape or form. So Sorceress still holds its place in my heart.... But if I ever have to watch "Legends of the Superheroes" again, I might actually claw my own eyes out.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

And One More Thing...

Football Season starts tonight. I finally succombed to peer pressure, and I'm in not one, but two fantasy football online leagues. My first game in Jane's league is against Tripp. Tripp, being a seminarian, has God on his side... All I have is Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James. You're going DOWN, Tripp! DOWN! :] Oh, and also, due to some massive technical meltdown, Lycos Email has been dead for going on 4 days now. If you happened to have tried to get in touch with me using the link button off this blog, I can't get at it til at least tomorrow. Try me at hamaker88 at yahoo.com if you need to track me down in a hurry. OK, so that was two things.
Mais Oui, Apparently.

Make that 6 people--8 if you count my grandfather and my mom--all calling to check in and make sure I'm not soaked or dead. I'm loved. And it was 9 inches in 48 hours, which is some kind of record round these parts. Today it's sunny, and things are starting to dry out.

The sunshine, combined with a certain amount of self-loathing, has brought on a new sense of personal resolve about my house this week. The one thing I truly, truly hate about myself is my inability to keep my house/personal spaces clean and uncluttered. Everyone who's ever visited me knows that I tend to outwardly shrug off my messy tendencies; I've been a slob since I was a kid. But I'm crying on the inside. Deep in my heart of hearts, I hate it, and I hate that I can't seem to do something that other people make look so simple. About twice a year, I decide that I'm going to turn over a new leaf and 1) clean the hell out of my place, and 2) keep it that way. Obviously, I've never yet accomplished #2 for any length of time. But hope springs eternal... I've done the kitchen. I'm working on the bathroom today. Tomorrow is living room and front porch. I just know that at some point critical mass will hit, and while I'm juggling the dining room I'll somehow drop the kitchen and it'll all come crashing down. And if the worst thing about me is that my house looks like crap all the time, well--I can live with that. But I'd like to think I can do better. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Apres Moi, le Deluge?

You know it's been raining a lot when not one but two of your local friends call you to find out if your house is underwater. We had, I think, about 4" of rain in 24 hours here, and I live on a tiny triangle of land situated between a river and a canal. Thankfully, I'm on about the highest ground possible, and I'm right on the canal, which can't flood. (well, I shouldn't say can't... but it'd have to rise about 5 feet to top my levee, and since the opposite levee is shorter, it'd flood all of the neighborhood on the other side before it could ever get to me.) My neighbors closer to the river, of course, are ankledeep in basement flooding, and their yards are lakes. Jason tells me he had several inches of standing water in his basement at 5 pm yesterday, and spent the whole evening sucking it out. (With a pump, presumably.) Me, I just had a little water on the back porch, which drained away leaving soggy rugs and gardening equipment but no other damage. Still, knowing my friends are concerned about my well-being makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.... No, wait. That's the mold starting.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Mars Needs Women

Oddly enough, as it happens, I live within walking distance of one of the most powerful telescopes in the midwest. It's at Holcomb Observatory at Butler University, and it's a 38" monster. Now, knowing that Mars is presently zinging past the earth at a distance of mere millions of miles, I figured that now was the time to take advantage of Holcomb and go have a peek through the telescope. Figured I'd head over there Wednesday night, catch the 9 pm planet'arium show and then check out Mars.

Only, when I reached Butler campus and wandered around the Lily music hall toward the Observatory, what did I see but about 500 people standing in line outside the building? The line went all the way down the hill where the Observatory is perched, and part way around the long cement sidewalk that loops below it. Good god, thought I. I could just come back another night.... OR I could stand in line for 2 whole hours to get a look through the scope. Which is what I did, of course. I swear, it was like being at a Dead show--all these folks milling around, kids taking turns rolling down the hill in the grass, people shouting out entertaining Mars facts to one another.... A bunch of dudes from the Astrophysics Dept. there had set up smaller telesecopes on the lawn, and you could go kill some time looking through those while you waited. It was just plain fun, and I didn't mind the standing. (At least til the backache hit, about 18 hours later.) Finally, though, I got into the Observatory, climbed the 3 flights of stairs to the room with the view... And saw it. Mars, triumphant. Polar Ice Caps and all. I'd imagined it showing a little more color, it was pretty much just bright greyish with a faint orange tint. But it was still cool...

And to Sarah, whose attempt to see Mars at the Adler in Chicago was a tragic comedy of errors, I have only these words of sympathy: BWAAA-HAAAAA!!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Gaahhh! It's Got Me!!!

OK, Sitemeter is totally, horribly fascinating in an obsessively self-involved way. Not only does it guilt me into thinking about more frequent posts (a thing which Jeremy has been trying to do for months, without success) but I'm captivated by the occasional totally random visitor to my site. This morning, someone did a google search for the phrase "Ninja Hedge." Cautionary Tale is the FIRST SITE to come up on Google when you search for ninja hedge! Can you believe it? You'd think Ben Edlund would have gobbled up ninjahedge.com back in the early 90's....

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Thank God the Tiki Bar Was Open...

Musically, it’s been a great week! Non-musically, only so-so. But that’s not the point. Point is, I got to go to a fantastic concert on Saturday night, for only $15. John Hiatt is one of my all-time favorite artists; I’m usually frustrated when he comes to town because his concerts sell out so fast. Anyone who’s ever looked at my CD collection knows I have pretty shallow and eclectic taste in music--II have a lot of different stuff, but seldom more than one or two albums per artist. There are exceptions, of course, and one of them is John Hiatt. He’s from Indianapolis, he’s got a quirky sense of humor and his stuff rides the rail between country (which I hate) and blues rock. He’s written a lot of stuff that other people cover, though I find I usually prefer his original versions anyway. So John was playing this charity blues street festival this weekend, along with Johnny A., who’s also pretty freakin’ amazing if you love the blues. It was a “bring your own chair” event, to which of course I failed to bring a chair. The street was packed for a full block with people who DID bring a chair, and I ended up spending the concert standing in a doorway on Mass. Ave, about 50 feet from the stage, with a great view and great sound. John Hiatt’s set was 2 hours of acoustic solo material, and it was the best $15 I could possibly have spent. Sometimes you get the blues.... and sometimes you just need the blues. I needed some blues in my life, and Saturday delivered for me.

THEN, last night, I finally finally finally got to hear my friend Steve’s band, The Bishops, playing at a local bar. It’s been my curse for months that I either don’t know when Steve’s got a gig until after it happens, or I find out and there’s no way I can go. At last, another dream fulfilled. Steve’s a fantastic guitarist, and once they got the sound mixed so you could actually hear him over the relentless rythym guitar, they sounded pretty good! It’s a cover band; I still aspire to hear his other band, who do original music. But that’ll have to wait, they don’t get gigs as often as the cover band (naturally.) And tomorrow, I’ll have the pleasure of hearing my friend Emily in concert for the first time. She does original stuff, solo acoustic at the moment; reminds me a bit of Indigo Girls style sound, and she’s quite good. I’d link you to her website, but she doesn’t have one at the moment. But if you like that sort of music and want to give her a try, let me know! Her CD’s $10, pretty reasonable really.

And finally, I signed up for the iTunes Store on Apple.com! The future of music on the internet, legal downloads for $1 apiece. Hell, that’s not so bad, considering the quality of the dl is guaranteed, I don’t have to worry about someone disconnecting while I’m shopping their stuff, and I won’t be prosecuted for doing it. Pirate ship is in drydock, all hail iTunes.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Who Are These Wackos, Anyway?

I've added Sitemeter to my blog. (At least, I think I have.) Either the results will depress me, or will inspire me to post more often. We'll see.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Hmm, What an Odd Aftertaste....

I finally, FINALLY went out to my garden today to see how bad things had gotten. The answer, of course, was bad. Bad like my cucumber plant had utterly disappeared, dying a lonely death beneath the weeds; bad like my bush beans had been completely decimated by the japanese beetles; bad like my tomato plants had produced so many huge, succulently ripe tomatoes that they had bent their tomato cages beneath their weight and had toppled over into the neighbor's plot in one solid viney mass. Bad like all my basil was flowering. For basil to flourish, you have to pinch off the flowers so that the plant will divert its energy into making more and bigger leaves (so it can make more flowers for you to pinch off. It's cruel, I know.) Bigger leaves means more pesto. So I ignored the weeds and the beans, picked the tomatoes, and then started pinching the flowers off the basil. About halfway around the first plant I found a flower that didn't match; thought to myself, sayyyy.... that's not basil. That's deadly nightshade.

Yep. Nightshade is a fairly common weed in this parts, so it's not too unreasonable it's in my garden--but pretty disconcerting that it's growing right next to my basil. While the flowers and little berries are quite distinctive, the leaf is not entirely unlike lemon basil in both size and shape... And while deadly nightshade isn't really deadly, at least for a healthy adult human, it still probably wouldn't be a great idea to get it mixed in with the pesto. Looks like I've got some more weeding to do...sigh....

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Iwantone Iwantone Iwantone!!

It's "Shark Week" on Discovery, so naturally I had to flip past it while vegging out this evening. Two words, folks: CHUM CANNON. Yes. It's a cannon that fires a mass of fish blood and guts into the water to attract sharks for filming purposes. A cannon! That shoots chum!!!!

I can think of so many uses for this. Most of them involve cruising the strip, firing chum at unsuspecting pedestrians. Think about it! It'd be just like "Carrie"! Only more mobile! Wow.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Unemployment, here I come.

All good things come to an end, and so it is with my job at the Indianapolis Zoo. This is my final week of digging in the dirt, and I have to say I'm going to miss it. I'll miss the people, I'll miss being outdoors all day... and, of course, I'll miss the paycheck. Not that it was a huge paycheck, I've still been surviving with the kind and generous assistance of my parents this summer--but it was something! And it was the first real paycheck I'd had in nearly a year when I started this job in May. Working 40 hours a week after a year of total inactivity was a bit of a shock; waking up at 5:30 to be at work on time at 7 was even more of a shock. But it was a good sort of shock, and it helped counteract the creeping edge of depression that comes from feeling that no one wants to hire you. I know I'm not a worthless pile (unless you're asking Jason, in which case I am a worthless pile) and I know there are lots of jobs out there which I could do with grace, skill, and aplomb. Knowing that is all well and good--but having it confirmed by someone who actually calls you up and says, "We want you, will you take the job?" is something else entirely. Thanks, Indianapolis Zoo, for helping me get my groove back.

So I start back to school next week, and I've got my old job in the Museum Studies office, assuming that my work study gets approved again. I just applied for a job at the Indiana State Museum, and we'll see what comes of that. Hopefully I can keep my momentum going.

And now I've got time to think about my own yard again! I'm contemplating burning bush and bayberry to replace the honeysuckle which forms a crappy-looking privacy hedge along the front of my property. Or maybe a ninja hedge, like in the Tick comic book of yore! I bet I could pick up some surplus ninjas cheap at Lowe's! Mmmm....ninja hedge....

Thursday, July 31, 2003

A Religious Experience...

(first, let me just say again how irritating it is that Blogger is unable to handle posts from a state that doesn't go on Daylight Savings? 99.9% of the time, who cares... but when I post on my birthday, I want to see the dateline say "July 30, 2003" dammit.)

So last night I got an excellent t-shirt as a gift. (the second excellent t-shirt I've gotten this week; for the story of the first, click here.) It's a black shirt from goodwill, never worn, from the Baptist Bible College of Indianapolis. The back of the shirt has a number of quotes screened on it; a couple from the bible, perfectly nice firey quotes from Isaiah and such. Then there are the slightly more corny quotes that caused my friend to actually purchase this shirt for me:
"God meant the Bible to be bread for our daily use, not just cake for special occasions!"
You hear that, folks? The bible ain't cake. The other good one is "Be careful how you live, You can be the only Bible some people read." To which Karen suggests we add a footnote: "Now available in Braille!" Heck, I might just have to start a ministry with that...

Lest folks think I am an utterly sacreligious pig, I should point out that my philosophy of religion for my own life is quite in-depth--which is one of the reasons I find distillation of religion into t-shirt form so darn funny. Anyway, I went ahead and followed Tripp's link to the Belief-O-Matic, just to clarify where I stand in the grand scheme of things (other than poking fun at Baptist t-shirts.) After answering 20 questions about my beliefs and their priority in my life, here's my top 5:
1. Reform Judaism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (99%)
3. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (98%)
4. Unitarian Universalism (96%)
5. Baha'i Faith (85%)

#3 surprised me a bit, just because it surprises me that it comes out only 2 % points different from Reform Judaism in my list, with the Quackers sandwiched in between. At any rate, it was interesting to me to see that nearly 20 years after deciding that Reform Judaism was the path I wanted to follow in my life, and after then spending those 20 years weaving back and forth on the issue of formal instruction and conversion, my core beliefs apparently still line up with where I thought I was going (philosophically) when I was 13. Maybe it's time I revisted this issue. OR, maybe I should look into Baha'i, just to make sure I'm not missing something.
No, I Didn't Fall In. Or, Happy Freakin' Birthday To Me!

I like to stretch my birthdays out. Especially after my depression at hitting 30, 3 years ago, I make it a mission to have the happiest freakin' birthdays possible. What makes me happy is being surrounded by friends, and doing something different than we usually do. This year being no exception, I planned a trip to Rustic Gardens, a mini golf course here in Indy that's been in operation since 1930. The course goes around an old farm yard, up hills and around trees and through the chicken coop, and it's just too cool to be believed. Only $2.50 for 18 holes, or $5 after 6. So I invited all my buds to come play mini golf with me, and then to go to the Broad Ripple Brewpub for food and beer and friend time.

BUT, now here's the best part, today was also "Seasonal Gardener Appreciation Day" at the zoo. That is to say, all our gardener bosses held a pitch-in for the seasonal help. We had masses and masses of food, and then--joy of joys!--we got to go over to the Marine Mammal building and have a personal encounter with the walruses and dolphins. I got to pet a goddam walrus today!! A WALRUS!!! It was amazing. They're very smart and darn cute to boot. The dolphin was cool as well, though more kind of nervous and shy. I'd always been told that touching a dolphin feels like touching a wet balloon, and I'd have to say that's true. But a >living< wet balloon, which is totally different from the ordinary kind. The walrus was kind of velvety and wet, and the whiskers (called vibrissae, I believe) are like really thick fishing line. It was just amazingly cool, and an excellent way to spend my birthday. Oh, and I got a twinkie with a candle in it from Kyle and Emily, and a personally drawn birthday card from Emily as well with a picture of me complaining about my advancing age.

Then after work it was the mini golf, which of course I did badly at--Andy W. and Francie tied in our foursome for the win, and i think Stephen trounced the other group but I never did hear the final scores there. Then at the Brewpub I had no less than 12 of my pals hanging out with me, and I can't imagine a better way to spend my time. So was it a good birthday? Abso-friggin-lutely.

Friday, July 04, 2003

President Bush Stole My Flag!

Here it is July 4, and I, a patriotic American, feel cheated out of my independence. In the last couple years--particularly since 9/11--the American flag has been usurped by the present administration as a symbol of support for our current "Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!" foreign policy. Here in Indiana (presumably elsewhere too) the flag is plastered over T-shirts, in car windows, and on bumper stickers proudly proclaiming "Don't Mess with the U.S.!" and other idiotic slogans. The greater global good philosophy of the 90's has been tossed out the window, and our flag has become a symbol of an isolationist, love-us-or-we'll-kick-your-ass approach to world politics. So if I, a thoughtful American for whom the flag repesents free speech, due process, and democracy, were to fly an American flag from my house today, it would be taken by passersby as a statement of support for an administration I didn't vote for. This, despite the fact that many recent actions taken by this administration demonstrate their total LACK of regard for free speech, due process, and even democracy (as seen from the very beginning, in Florida's ballot fiasco.) My flag's symbolism has been stolen from me, and Mr. Bush is the culprit.

Two political blog entries in a row. See what happens when I don't have anything else to write about? Right, well, I'm off to make some non-partisan, non-mayonnaise-based potato salad and enjoy the 90 degree Indiana summer afternoon at a pitch-in. Happy Independence Day, everybody!

Thursday, June 26, 2003

I Love My Job....

So today at work, my special group project involved weeding virginia creeper out of the bald eagle enclosure. The enclosure consists of a lot of rocks, dirt, plants, and dead trees surrounded by plastic mesh; the eagle spent all of her time while I was in there sitting on a branch about 30 feet above my head and making irritated whistling sounds. I couldn't help noticing that the plants I was weeding out beneath her tree were spattered--nay, covered--with bald eagle poop. Now, I don't know about you, but I've never before had a job that offered me the opportunity to be crapped on by our national symbol. I had goosebumps just thinking about it! Sadly, though, she didn't let fly while I was in there. That might have been the one thing that could have trumped the penguin story....

When you think about it, though, being an American during the second Bush administration is kind of like getting crapped on by our national symbol. Isn't it?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Bitch, bitch, bitch.

The real problem with maintaining a blog mentality, for me, is that I'm usually only moved to write if I A) want to complain about something, or B) have something really funny to talk about. If I don't have something amusing or irritating to talk about, I dry up. So that's really what it's been this last month--it ain't that I'm dead, or even really that I'm busy. It's just that since I broke the hose coupler, nothing else particularly ludicrous has happened to me in recent weeks. And really, life's going along pretty well, so nothing to bitch about. Except, of course, that I have nothing to bitch about, and Jeremy's on my ass again about updating! Jerk. :]

Actually I did do something pretty imbecilic at work this weekend; I filled the lawnmower with 50:1 gas-oil mixture instead of straight gasoline. (For the un-lawn-equipment initiated, what this means is that basically the mower could blow up. Or something. Actually I have no idea, but it'd screw up the engine plenty good.) Fortunately I realized this before I started it up and got the bad fuel into the fuel line.... I'm not at liberty to say how Susan and I fixed the situation, except to mention that the EPA would not have approved of our methods. But no harm done, and I'm still not fired. Other zoo news: our baby elephant died, which sucked. My direct supervisor, though essentially a good guy at heart, has said enough dumbass things to me that I don't quite look forward to working with him as much as I might. (Dumbass examples will be supplied on request.) I still love the job though. And other life news: flooded with painting commissions, more than I can handle. May get to give a presentation at the American Assn of Museums conference next spring in New Orleans, on IUPUI's tab--most excellent. And I got friggin pooch-screwed playing Blood Bowl with Mac this evening! Jesus, could it have BEEN any worse?? Oops, sorry, wrong blog....

That's my life in a nutshell. How are all of you?

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

What's a King Without a Crown?

It's been a fun couple of weeks. One of the high spots was me breaking a tooth--the second one in two years, as it happens. The first one broke while I was eating a jelly doughnut; my dentist kind of rounded off the tooth and filled it with epoxy, and everything was cool. Then last month, my yearly checkup revealed that my tooth is starting to flake away around the epoxy patch. So I got the splendid news that I really should get a crown ($700) on that tooth, before I get some serious decay and need a root canal. I don't have dental insurance. So then I'm mulling over this prospect, wondering if I can put it off til I get a "real" job that offers dental coverage--and boom, another tooth breaks! Jeez louise. My dentist confirms that this tooth, too, should really be crowned. $1400 in future dental costs! Now that's a pleasant prospect.

Other than that, though, things seem to be going well. My summer job at the zoo is excellent--where else can you take a work break to watch pit vipers get fed? Or galapagos tortoises engaged in amorous pursuits? I managed to go an entire week without doing anything totally klutzy.... Then yesterday I was left on my own to water some rosebushes by the park entrance, and was moved by the Doofus Spirit to give the long, heavy hose a firm tug when it was almost completely extended. Thought it would straighten it out to give me maximum watering potential. Instead, it caused the hose coupling to snap off its pvc pipe connection to the water main, causing a six foot jet of water to go shooting up in the air and causing me to go "Holy ****!" I naturally ran over and tried to block off the fountain with my hands, thinking the coupling had just come undone and I might be able to re-attach it. But nooooo. I broke it good. So now I was totally sopping wet from head to foot, facing an unstoppable gush of water that was rapidly flowing out across the entrance to the zoo like a miniature river. Had to go running to the administration building to ask security to radio my boss so she could turn off the water main... and every single person I passed had to say "Gee! Looks like you got wet!" Or, "Got a little wet, eh?" Or, "Hey! You're wet!" Gosh. Thanks. Anyway, problem got taken care of and I didn't get fired or killed or anything. They were warned, after all. They knew about the penguins.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

If You're Gonna Dew It, Dew It Right...

AAAAAAUUUUUUUGHHHHHHH!!! I am DONE, Ladies and Gentlemen, DONE with everything I was panicking about for the last two weeks. I have a take-home final and an in-class final at the beginning of next week and then school is OVER for the summer! Yes! Yes! Yes! Woo hoo!

I think I'm regressing. I drank more Mountain Dew in the past 6 days than I've had in, probably, years. Dew was my sustinance in college; I lived off of Dew, it was a friend through good times and bad, my companion through all-nighters and long car trips to Poughkeepsie... And then I abandoned it, when I went on a semi-newfangled health kick after college. I still drank, of course, but casually--socially. That's it, I became a social Dew drinker. Our relationship had changed. We grew distant. Now, though, we've gotten back together. Our tearful, joyous reunion nearly killed the 12 pack in the kitchen in the space of 3 days.... I swear to god, it's like being 20 again, only the caffiene hangovers are worse. Mmm...hair of the dog...mmm....

In another concession to whinyness, may I present a link to Li Rapkin, a most excellent friend and gamemaster of my Play-By-Email GURPS game, The Grand Ellipse. Li is also the one who celebrates the Chinese New Year with a showing of Big Trouble in Little China each February, kindly invited me to her Passover seder this year, and (even more kindly) did not poke fun at me for preferring the Mogen David to the real wines on the table. Voila la Li!

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Look out!

John "Big Whiner" Washburn points out, in a very pouty sort of a way, that I had omitted linking to his webpage on Cautionary Tale. As you will see, this was a grevious oversight--not just because I'm a bad friend, but because the very nature of John's site dovetails nicely with the theme of Caution in general...

Tonight I get to give a Powerpoint presentation in my Audiences class. That's if the A/V guys actually remember to supply the cable that makes it possible to hook a Macintosh up to the projector. I got about halfway through designing the presentation last night, and then thought, "You know, if the projector thing is screwed up, this is just going to have been a MASSIVE waste of valuable sleeping time." So instead of laboriously converting all my charts and graphs over from Appleworks to Excell to Powerpoint, I'm going to end the Powerpoint portion of the program halfway and go to pure reading, begging lack of skill with the MS software. I think I'll get away with it. The grading in this class has been ludicrously easy.

Patio's done! (almost.) Pictures are being uploaded and arranged.

Sunday, April 13, 2003


So said Ford Prefect. Alas, I'm having a hard time taking the motto to heart this week; the end of the semester looms nigh, and all I can do is stare helplessly at my two huge class projects and whimper. Well, whimper and watch television. And buy a new iBook. Yeah, that too.

It actually was a big weekend in the sense that I had two large accomplishments. One was buying the iBook, which made me very happy though slightly more panicky in a financial sense. The other was spending 6 hours today working on the new patio with my father, which gave me a sense of accomplishment but made me panicky in that I should have been working on my Anthropology project instead. But the good news is that the patio is more than half done, and no one got hurt. I did fall over once, but that could happen to anybody. Pictures of the patio project will soon be visible on my website, I'll slap a link up here when they are since I suspect it'll make an entertaining jpeg-flipbook when we're done.

Good movie last night. "Bend It Like Beckham." Came out last year, has just toiled its way to Indianapolis. See it. I guarantee enjoyment.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Change is good....?

Well, updating is, at least. Note that my links have been expanded, updated, polished and cleaned! Several links to other friends have been added, in some cases without their permission as I'm far too lazy to email them and ask. Karen? Bryan? Do you care? If so, say and the links are zapped.

Speaking of other nerdy friends, Jane has just begun a blog dedicated to the ins and outs of her present EQ game! This is reachable through a link on her page; I'd link directly to it here, but I can't remember the url off the top of my head. It's linked from her main blog, if you're also an EQ nerd take a look. But the upshot is that she has inspired me to unveil my own gaming blog that I started over a month ago and hadn't been publicising due to it being really ugly and strangely formatted. I still can't seem to manipulate the code to make it better, and what I really should do is get my own url and write it myself with my limited skillz as a web page author. But in the meantime! If you play in one of my games, or are interested in RPGS and board games, and want to see my occasional ramblings on the subject, check it out! It's called Dark's Carnival, after a board location in Chaosium's classic "Arkham Horror" board game. That is all, you may return to your posts....

Monday, March 31, 2003

You know it's a bad day when....

Today I went to the Summit Occupational Health Clinic for my first work-related drug test ever. Yes, the zoo requires it. (What do they think people are going to do, get high and fall into the penguin pool? Oh, wait...) So I went, even before breakfast, figuring that since I hadn't gone (in the wc sense) since 11 last night I'd probably be able to supply the necessary sample. But no. Nooooo. My tendency to tense up in public restrooms, which has been pretty well mastered in the last 10 years or so, returned with a vengance. I wasn't helped by the fact that the nurse informed me, "If you can't go, then you have to wait another hour and try again. No, you can't leave and come back tomorrow." If that's not a threat, I don't know what is. So I chugged a Mountain Dew, walked around, and tried to go. No go. An hour later, I was doubled over in bladder-screaming agony in the waiting room, begging them to call me back in. They finally did. I couldn't go. I mean, I was in actual physical pain, and yet the tiny muscles down there were somehow saying, "Now is not the time!" Holy crap. Finally, by methods which I won't elaborate in this forum of good taste, I was able to fill the cup. It was awful. I never want to do this again. (Have a drug test, that is, not urination in general.)

And Charles was kind enough to point out that IUPUI was the 16th seed in the NCAA tourney, not the 14th. Thanks Chuck. :] But we lost, and IU lost, and Purdue lost, and Butler finally lost. So that's that! On to more important things, like the NBA Championships!

Friday, March 21, 2003

Hoop Dream?

I don't know how many of you (all 6 of you) are basketball fans; my guess is none. However, I feel the need to inform you that something miraculous is happening today. My current school, IUPUI, is playing in the first round of the men's NCAA basketball tournament today. This is unheard of--to the best of my knowledge, IUPUI has never experienced anything like this before. This is a school where the average student age is about 26, where most students are commuters--essentially, there ain't no Michael-Jordan-style scholarships luring players to IUPUI. In fact, IUPUI drawing its student base almost exclusively from the Indianapolis area, they're in an even worse situation in that every local high school basketball prodigy goes to either I.U. or Purdue; that's the problem with a state so obsessed with one sport as Indiana is with basketball. But here's IUPUI, playing in the first round today, ranked 14th in the Midwest division--and they're playing #1 ranked Kentucky. My prediction is that UK will wad up IUPUI like a used kleenex in the first 5 minutes and then dunk them repeatedly into the trash can. BUT... I still feel a sort of tiny sense of pride about IUPUI's presence there at all. Go, Jaguars, go.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Well, at least I come by it honestly...

My dad’s in Costa Rica right now. As many of you know, I maintain that the secret to my parents’ long marriage is that they frequently take seperate vacations. Well, that and two full sets of covers on the bed. Anyway, so dad is happily paddling around in the rainforest (I hope) and my mom is eating shrimp and cocktail sauce for dinner every night. We call this “eating single week.” I went over there for dinner tonight, as I do most Sundays--no shrimp, she hoards that, instead it was irish stew and bright green biscuits--and we had a pleasant conversation about a number of family-related topics. The reason I’m bringing this up is for those of my friends who believe that I am somehow responsible for all the ludicrous personal accidents that occur in my life--in point of fact, it’s genetic. I was telling her about chopping up some massive dead branches in my yard with the big axe Dad unwisely purchased for me last summer, and from there we segued to a fond discussion of my 88 year old grandpa, who once managed to hit himself in the head with an axe. Since he’s now 88 and one of the sharpest people I know, it apparently didn’t affect him much. I’d heard about this accident before; but mom added a new dimension to the whole genetics theory by telling me about the time (c.1950) Grandpa tried out the neighbor’s new power mower. Being unable to turn it off when he was done, he decided that instead of walking it to the sidewalk and up the neighbor’s driveway, he’d just lift it over the hedge that separated the two yards. Yes. Lifted. A running power mower. Over a hedge. Of course, it only made it halfway over the hedge before his grip slipped, and the mower fell on his leg and carved a large chunk out of his thigh.

Lest you think that this gene skips generations, may I point out that my mother once bludgeoned herself in the head with a phone receiver by accident and had to get 20 stitches.

It’s not my fault, I tell you!

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Spring? Sproing!

Yep, it's finally getting warmer here, in little bitty increments. Yesterday it was 20 degrees out. Today it's near 50. Last Saturday we hit 60, to be promptly followed by 35 Sunday. I swear I wouldn't live anywhere else, each one of these warm days is like a shiny jewel during March. I'm turning my back porch into a greenhouse for seed starting (no promises on success, but I have my hopes) and the compost bin I ordered through the mail just showed up last week. 100% recycled plastic, from a distance it looks like wood and up close it looks like melted-down car tire slag. Which is probably what it is, of course.

School proceeds apace, it's a good thing that Spring Break is next week because I've gotten awfully apathetic about finishing my reading for each class. I thought about trying to find someplace I could roadtrip to, just to make it seem more like a real "Spring Break"--after all, it'll probably be the last one I ever have. Barring disaster I should be finished with the Museum Studies certificate by next January. Anyway, so I gave it some thought and realized 1) I don't have any money, 2) there's no place I really feel like going that I can get to quickly, and 3) I should spend the break painting miniatures. Suddenly I have a surfeit of painting jobs, there's a nice man in New York city who seems perfectly willing to have me do a huge quantity of stuff for him and wants to pay in advance. So really, I ought to get cracking on that. I'm full of fear, got an email today from a guy who wants me to do a bunch of Spanish Succession Wars 6mm figures--6mm scale figures being approx the height of your little fingernail. That's smaller than I've ever done, no idea what to charge or how much of a pain in the ass it will be. Bah. As Bert would say.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Projecting Emotions...

In History, you write papers. In Museum Studies, you do "projects." I have several projects due this semester which promise to be fairly entertaining. One involves following little kids around at the Indiana Historical Society and timing how long they spend looking at different parts of an exhibit, whether they're interacting with items in the way they were intended, etc. (IE, are they picking up the interactive elements of the exhibit and whacking their classmates in the head?) The one which will be more potentially amusing for all of you out there in TV Land is a web page for my Modern Material Culture class. The premise is still gelling in my head, but the overall theme will be "collections" on the internet. To get an idea of what this means, try typing "My collection" into any search engine and see what demented people not only collect, but have taken the time and trouble to display on a web page. So far my favorite is the Air Sickness Bag Collector's website. (to be linked later.)

Last week, the Zoo had me feed the sharks. I think they're trying to get rid of me....

Friday, February 14, 2003

Well, at least I got lei'd....Sort of...

This is my first Valentine's Day in several years without even a hint of romance on the wind. I actually wasn't too worried about this--frankly, after yesterday's adventure I was glad to have a day of just goofing around the house, listening to NPR, painting, and watching TV. No chances of a tragic accident, right? (Well yes, ok, 90% of my tragic accidents do happen in the home. But Wednesday my car got towed, Thursday...well, no need to go over that again. But I figured these things happen in threes, and it'd be better if I was within easy reach of the first aid kit.) But adventure and romance found me, in the form of a coconut. From Hawaii. Via Fed-Ex. Courtesy of Becky, Jeremy, and Alex, all of whom got to go to Hawaii this week for various reasons--and if they hadn't sent me a coconut I'd be roundly cursing them for getting to go to Hawaii. (Especially Becky, who's there for an academic conference. Where are MY academic conferences? Muncie, IN. Kalamazoo, MI. But psychologists? Hawaii. Damn scientists.) The coconut bears a friendly greeting from Alex which is nearly illegible, a rude comment from Jeremy on the illegibility of Alex's writing, and from Becky, a great drawing of three stick persons wearing colorful dog collars, with an arrow reading "Supposed to be people with leis!" Lastly, the cryptic message "TIKI! TIKI! TIKI!" (Sure Jer. Rub it in further....) All of this is in vari-colored magic marker on the outside of a large, sloshy-sounding coconut. Naturally I was deeply touched by this fantastic gift! And its arrival could not have been timed better. Here it's freezing rain, several inches of snow and ice predicted--and yet I sit, holding a Hawaiian coconut, dreaming of volcanic beaches, fragrant breezes, lava, and poi. And wondering how the hell I'm going to open this thing without injuring myself.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Jane Said It Best....

Today, I fell into the penguin enclosure at the Zoo.

Jane's comment? "The only thing that would make that better is....no, it can't get any better." True. If I had tried to imagine the one thing that I might do on my first day volunteering at the Indianapolis Zoo, the single most ludicrously hilarious accident I might possibly have on the job, I still would not have come up with this on my own. Bitten by something, sure. Accidentally releasing a dangerous animal into a public space, possibly. But actually FALLING off of the fake ice floe in the penguin exhibit and landing in the 40 degree water, mullet flying and penguins scattering for safety.... Wow. I've reached a new zenith of klutz.

Before you ask--no, no pictures will be available for sale. No film at 11. Move along, please, nothing to see here.

Friday, January 31, 2003

Say It: Ooo-Eee-Poo-Eee!

All right, enough with the serious posting. Back to my real life. Some have asked, innocently enough, “How’s school going?” Short answer is, fine thanks. But really, being back in school yet again is, as always, a little overwhelming.

In case you’d forgotten, I’m enrolled in the Museum Studies Graduate Certification program at IUPUI (for pronounciation, see above.) That stands for “Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis,” whose motto, “Why Not Both?” should actually read, “Why Not Neither?” As far as I can tell, IUPUI’s connection with Purdue is strictly nominal; they have no involvement in the administration or curriculum, and their library is unavailable to us. How does this affect me? Not even slightly, other than the fact I’d hoped there’d be Purdue University car window stickers in the bookstore. (It’s the height of wit here in central Indiana to cut and re-paste PU window stickers to read “Undue Purversity.” ) IU, on the other hand, is tantalizingly peripherally involved with IUPUI. We can drive down there for classes, and their library catalog is online at IUPUI--but don’t try requesting books from them, because IUPUI treats it like any other inter-library loan and orders the books for you from the Tahiti Public Library instead. Our parking permits don’t work there (I don’t think) and their academic calendar is apparently completely different. I thought about commuting down there to a class this semester, but on reflection decided it would be far too confusing for me to remember when two different spring breaks were, in addition to the driving time.

So IUPUI is an urban campus, right in the heart of downtown Indy, and it boasts 35,000 commuter students. Yes, 35,000. This boggles my little private-school trained mind.... I had not even begun to contemplate what that meant until I got down there for my first class at 5:30 on a Monday and tried to find a parking space amid the sea of students leaving afternoon classes and arriving for evening classes. Not a pretty sight. I was late for “Modern Material Culture,” and if I’d known how much Elvis, Barbie, and Farrah Fawcett he was going to cram into that class period I’d not have wanted to miss a single moment.... but more on that some other time.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

“Ren? What’s the Big Sleep?”
“It’s Death! Death, you eeediot!!”

Actually not such a funny subject for me at the moment, Ren and Stimpy aside. My great-aunt Audrey died this week, after a long and painful illness. While I’ve been expecting to get that phone call at any time in the past year or so, when it finally came it was still a cold shock. I’d had plenty of time to get used to the idea; presumably, so had she, although she kept a pretty upbeat and positive attitude about the whole thing right up to the end.

For some time now, I’ve been of the opinion that it’d be better to go slow than to go fast. A long illness, while sad and painful, gives one the opportunity to sort things out, mend one’s grievances, say one’s goodbyes. (Not that Audrey could have had many grievances, mind you--she was even nice to my grandmother, which would have been a considerable trial for Mother Theresa.) Now, though, I dunno. When Steve died--three years ago, now--it was, to say the least, horrible. I’d had dinner with him the night before, we’d talked about work and ordinary stuff....our usual discussion of his marital difficulties, his anxiety and depression, but also the fact that things were looking up for him. He was looking forward to a bike race through town the next day. Only he was killed during the race by a freak accident. And while it was nearly two weeks before they took him off life support, it was pretty apparent that Steve was dead from the moment his head hit the concrete.... So I thought at the time, awful. Good that he didn’t know what hit him, but awful that there was no chance to say goodbye, to tell him I was sorry about stuff, to tell him how much I liked him. Audrey knew how much she was loved by all of us; we called and sent cards, her family pulled around her, her church stood by her. My 88 year old grandpa (her older brother) drove to see her at the hospital nearly every day of her many stays there in the last 2 years. And yet, when all’s said and done, death is death. This is the fifth in six years. I’m tired of going to funerals, Ren.