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.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Arr, Maytey! Heave to!

So you all know I’m not exactly a techno-wizard. One of my reasons for continuing to be a rabid Macintosh loyalist is that I feel Macintoshes were made for people like me--people whose grasp of their computer’s inner workings are tenuous at best. So it’s not surprising that it’s taken me several years to jump on the MP3 bandwagon. But now, thanks to the efforts of my younger, tech-savvy friends, I’m all over that bad boy. Part of the problem has been that a lot of the Napster alternatives out there, such as Kazaa, are not mac-friendly (so I say, the hell with those losers! Nyeh!) But I’ve found a nice little program called Limewire, which is written in javascript and thus useable by even me. Limewire runs off a network called “Gnutella,” which I’m presuming is just like Nutella, but made of mashed up gnus instead of hazelnuts, and with more file-sharing capability. Since I installed Limewire I’ve been sailing the high seas of music piracy, sinking ships and taking their booty of Blue Oyster Cult and AC/DC, at the amazing speeds that my 56K modem makes possible. I have this sort of vision where if a T1 line were a little fast sloop, and a cable modem would be more like a barque, then my dial-up connection is kind of like a ponderous frigate with most of its cannons gone. (This image works better if you, like me, spent hours of valuable time playing Microprose’s “Pirates! Gold” in the mid-90’s.)

Anyway, so if you’re looking for a file-sharing program/network, I recommend Limewire and Gnutella, so far I’m pretty happy with ‘em.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

The Wonderful World of Disney

At last, I’m back on after a lengthy hiatus. I came down with a horrible head cold two weeks ago; by New Year’s I was an utter mess. I resembled nothing so much as a 5’8” shambling mound of used Kleenexes. I’d like to appologise right now to anyone who I may have infected by my very presence at Mara and David’s New Year’s party.... God. Then January 2 I left for Florida with my parents, as the cold moved down into my chest and left me unable to walk at speeds above “turtle” without gasping for air and requiring a rest. This continued for 3 of the 4 days we spent at Disneyworld and elsewhere... so not the most relaxing vacation of my life.

This is not to say I didn’t have a good time. My parents are wonderful to spring for me to go to Disneyworld with them; even more wonderful were gourmet meals (Mom and Dad are firm believers in quality food experiences) and tickets to Cirque du Soleil. A lengthy bout of bronchitis is a small price to pay, right? In the spirit of my Two Towers review, I’ll just hit a few highs and lows for the ol’ memory book:
I. Going on rides with my mom. It was she who insisted we go back to MGM first thing in the morning on the day we left to make sure we got to go on the Aerosmith G-Force rollercoaster. A few years ago she got me to go on the Tower of Terror, which lived up to its name in being the most petrifying physical experience of my life (including ones where I was actually in real danger.) For the record, my favorite is still the Thunder Mountain Railroad, followed by Splash Moutain, then Aerosmith, then Space Mountain. We didn’t do the Formula 1 track thing at Epcot, it looked boring.
II. Cirque. My god. Wow. I can’t even begin to describe it.
III. Oranges from the tree in my great-aunt Virginia’s yard. I’m usually not an orange fan, I had no idea they could be that good when they’re fresh. I still haven’t eaten the grapefruit....
I. 38 degree mornings in Orlando? I never even got to put on my shorts. Yeesh.
II. Dad losing his keys in the Indy airport and refusing to even ASK the nice people at the security check-through if perhaps he might have dropped them there. He was ready to come back from Florida, pay for a taxi home to get the spare keys, and another taxi back to the airport to get the car, rather than spend 5 minutes investigating the disappearance of the keys. After fuming at the gate for a while, I went back to the metal detectors, asked the guard, found the keys. Dad gave me $40 spending money to not keep mentioning this incident over the course of the weekend.
III. Dad being in a cranky mood for the last two days of the trip, due to our visit to his Uncle Don and Aunt Virginia Saturday. Complicated situation, and sad; but I thought it was a nice visit despite wishing the two of them could sort out their differences. Being sorry that folks sometimes make bad decisions about their lives doesn’t keep me from being happy to see the fruit bats at the Animal Kingdom.

Argh! I forgot to add Fruit Bats to the first list!