Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Academia

It's a good thing my favorite class is my first class every day. It gives me incentive to not sleep through my early classes like I occasionally did at BYU. I don't think I've missed a class here yet. Well, except Institute, but that's not a real class, and I missed it for a worthy cause. Besides, the only reason anyone would even notice is because I'm not there playing the piano upside-down with my head under the keyboard. That's really fun, by the way. Someday I'll get a video. ;)

Philosophy's my last class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I always come out of that one feeling like I've just finished beating my head against a wall. It's not that I don't understand the material--it's just that I don't understand the professor. We've been going over deductive, inductive, and abductive arguments all month. I can explain what those are, upside-down, backwards, with my eyes closed, while playing the piano and juggling chainsaws with my feet. I can tell you the difference between a valid argument and a sound argument, no problem. I know what true and false mean. But the teacher says "Define true and false." Um... if something's true... then it's right. It's correct. It's accurate. It's provable and/or observable. But he says every one of those answers is wrong. Then when everyone in the class gets frustrated and gives up, he says "This table is here. That is a fact. I said it. There it is. It's true. There is a table here."

.......what?

We go over and over and over things, not because we don't understand them, but because he doesn't accept our answers. For example, he'll say "What is the first letter of the alphabet?" I'll say "A." He'll say "No. You're wrong. Don't be a monkey. The first letter of the alphabet is the first thing you would say if you were to recite the alphabet." Okay.... Whatever.

So next class, he says "What is the first letter of the alphabet?" I'll say "The first thing you'd say if you were to recite the alphabet." And he says "No. You're wrong. Don't be a monkey. The first letter of the alphabet is the last thing you would say if you were to recite the alphabet backwards."

Next class, same question again. I say "It's A, the first thing you say if you recite the alphabet forwards, the last if you say it backwards." And he says "No. You're wrong. Don't be a monkey. Can you prove that? No. You can't. Nothing can be proven, you monkey."

Next class, same question. I give up and try to let someone else answer. Everyone just stares at him. He says "Well, okay, first, what is the alphabet?" We try to explain what the alphabet is, and GUESS WHAT! This entire cycle starts over! Every time someone gives an answer, he says "No. You're wrong. Don't be a monkey."

And of course, since I can never get the right answers, he's marking me down for not doing the reading. I've done the reading. Several times. I've got it highlighted and underlined, and I've got notes crammed in the margins on almost every single page. I know it backwards and forwards and inside-out. I go to class, I do all the homework... I guess the only thing left to do to save my participation grade is to go see him during office hours. Except he says we're only allowed to do that if we have specific questions. I don't have specific questions. I feel relatively confident that I know the material. I just don't know how I would say it on a test in such a way that he wouldn't go "No, you worded it wrong, you monkey."

He keeps class interesting, unquestionably. But interesting torture is still painful.

So I was frustrated as I headed home from my last class today. Then I stopped by the post office to get my mail, and I had gotten back my second Latin assignment. And guess what. ...I got an A+!!!! That's the first time I've gotten an A+ on a Latin assignment since 101! YAY!!!

So I feel better now. Woot! :D

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Starvation Gulch

Every fall at Starvation Gulch, UAF has this party... thing... where they light these five or six massive bonfires and play music and give out food and everyone just kind of parties. And every year, the juggling club juggles fire right up next to the bonfires, behind the orange tape. Rye told me about it a lot, about how awesome the juggling club was because "it's dark, so when you're juggling, all you can see is the flame of the torch or the light reflecting off the blade of the machete, but you can't see the black handles, so you just have to trust that when you're passing to someone, they're good enough that the handle is RIGHT THERE when you go to catch it." Unfortunately, no one in the club this year can pass torches. Yet. Well, President Rob can, but no one is good enough to pass to him, so it doesn't really make a difference. But Natay is really good with devilsticks and Monica's really good with the poi. It's sad that we don't have fireballs, since balls are my specialty. Oh well.

Anyway, we started juggling about fifteen minutes before the fire department lit the bonfires. It was arguably my first real performance ever. It was so dark that I wasn't really all that nervous because I couldn't see the crowd... but I stuck with the poi and fire-eating, since those are the only two fire toys we have that I'm any good at. Then I got a little cocky and started trying new tricks (I feel silly just doing the same tricks over and over again), and I managed to smack myself in the side of the head with the poi. While they were lit. And I singed my hair pretty good. Oops. (Of course, twenty minutes later--I swear it was an accident--I smacked myself on the other side of the head and burned the hair there too, so at least my burnt bald spots are symmetrical.)

They lit up the bonfires one at a time, and after that, it was about five or ten minutes until we just plain couldn't stand the heat anymore. It was so hot that I swear I could feel my skin blistering. My pants got so hot that every time I moved, it felt like a red-hot iron was being pressed to my skin. Finally, President Rob called a retreat to the parking lot and we grabbed our stuff and bolted.

Then it started snowing. Well, first it was more like hail the size of marbles. I lied. I meant peas. But they still kind of hurt when we tilted our heads back to eat fire. Then it started snowing pretty hard, and before long, Natay couldn't use the devilsticks because they were too slippery. And then Abe couldn't juggle the torches because the handles were too slippery. And then the fires kept going out on everything else because the wicks were too wet. And then our hands got so cold they went numb. And then the rest of our gear got buried under an inch of snow.

So the party, which normally lasts till midnight, was canceled even before 11:30 because it was too cold. We were all going to go to Denny's afterwards, but no one has studded tires yet, and no one wanted to risk driving there in blizzard conditions. I was looking forward to the first snow, but what an inopportune time for it!

All in all, though, Starvation Gulch was awesome! Oh man, it was so cool when they played the song Sandstorm! That's the same song I used in my fire-eating video, so it was stuck in my head already. When it came on, we had already put up the fire-eating stuff, but President Rob and I decided that it was mandatory to take it out and do it once more in honor of the song. Unfortunately, by the time we got the torches lit, the song was over. Daggumit!

Bonfire.

Lint Monkey with a phoenix--I mean, poi.

Natay doing devilsticks.

Monica doing poi.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Philosophy vs. Religion

You know, I always kind of wanted to take a philosophy class. And now that I'm in one, I don't like it that much. I think I may have figured out why. Here's a list taken from one of the class readings.
Ten Rules of Philosophy
  1. Allow the spirit of wonder to flourish in your breast.
  2. Doubt everything until the evidence convinces you of its truth.
  3. Love the truth.
  4. Divide and conquer.
  5. Collect and construct.
  6. Conjecture and refute.
  7. Revise and rebuild.
  8. Seek simplicity.
  9. Live the Truth.
  10. Live the Good.
Does that sound like religion to anyone else? For a subject that so far seems to be preaching against any and all religions, it sure is... well, preachy.

Eating Fire



Tee-hee, I can eat fire! And in the words of one of the people who stopped to watch us, "It tastes like chicken. On fire. Without the chicken."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Math test!

Okay, question for all you math nerds out there. Mom, Dad, King maybe, I don't know who all else reads this and likes math, but this is for you too. The first person to get the right answer gets to be the main character in the next short story I make up and put on here. Or, if you prefer to be a secondary character or if you have a specific character or role in mind, let me know and I'll try that to.

Anyway, Rye told me about this double-star juggling pattern they used to do back in the day (when there were more than five people in juggling club). Of course, since then, the club has shrunk a bit, the rope they used to mark off where each person would stand has been appropriated for other uses, and the chart they drew that showed each person what angle and distance from their partners to stand at has disappeared.

President Rob and I managed to recreate the drawing for the pattern last night, but I don't have enough free time to sit down and figure out what the angles and distances are. It looks to me like there are two different angles in the pattern (one for the inside star and one for the outside star) and one standard passing distance. Maybe two--I could be wrong. I haven't really studied it too closely yet.

Anyway, what I want to know is, what are the missing angles, and how far apart should we mark ourselves off so that we're not hitting the person in front of us? (Note: We'd be throwing pins AROUND the person standing directly in front of us, so we'd also have to be far enough back to see around them a little bit too.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Babble

I don't know if I ever mentioned this, but I ended up taking German instead of French or ASL 102. So far, I like it a lot. The teacher's young, but she lived in Germany long enough to know what she's talking about, and she smiles all the time. So far, I'm doing really well in the class to the point where, when we correct our quizzes, everyone who sits around me comes to me because I get perfect scores every time. So far. It's vastly easier learning German here than when I was home-schooled because 1) I'm in a classroom setting, and 2) I actually WANT to learn and do well.

It's time for Lint Monkey to get a haircut. My bangs are down below my eyes and they get in my face a lot. Arrr, drives me nuts! Maybe I should cut it short enough to spike it this time! I've been talking about doing that for years, but I've never actually done it. Hmmm...

...It's also time for Lint Monkey to reinstall Windows because I'm getting sick of blue-screening all the time. Especially when I'm writing a paper. That's not funny! BAD Kanna! BAD!

And of course, since I change the computer's name every time I reinstall Windows, I have to come up with a new name again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Church... and pictures!

I actually made it to church today, for the first time in... a very very long time. It wasn't as bad as I thought it might have been, but I did want to rip my hair out when I found out that the Gospel Doctrine teacher was the same girl who makes me want to gag in Institute on Thursdays. She's one of those people who interrupts the lesson every five minutes to squeal over the semantics of some random word that was used. "I just want everybody to stop and think about, for a minute, just how much it means that Christ would call us his friend, but that is just SO POWERFUL and it just, it means so much to me! I mean, sometimes we get so busy that we don't stop to think about Him, but He is the best friend we could ever have, and the fact that HE considers US to be His friends is just SO amazing.... "

...Yeah. I loathe people like that. Yes, dear. He used the word "friend." That's cute. Shut up and let's move on.

She wasn't as bad as a teacher as she was a classmate simply because she couldn't interrupt the lesson because she was GIVING the lesson. In our lesson, we opened to 3 Nephi 7 and read about how the Nephites put up walls to keep out the Gadianton robbers. And then we spent the entire rest of the lesson talking about how powerful that metaphor is and how we need to build walls to keep out temptation.

What really irks me is that I've had that exact same lesson like thirty-seven times now, and I'm sure everyone else has too. This wasn't Gospel Essentials class--this was the class for people who have been members of this church their whole lives and want to learn "deeper doctrine." THIS ISN'T NEWS, PEOPLE!!! Yes, we KNOW! Bad stuff out, good stuff in! We get it! Stop sobbing about it all lesson and let's learn something we DON'T know! I want to learn about the War in Heaven, or Michael the Archangel, or Giddianhi, or something--ANYTHING!--that I haven't already learned time and time again. I know the basics. I've got them. They've been drilled into my head over and over and over for twenty years. But PLEASE, can we learn facts and forget about the stupid metaphors? Metaphors are not doctrine! They're a literary device used to put physical images to non-physical concepts. They're over-used, and anyway, they only go so far.

Anyway, that aside, church was pretty good. And after church, I got to talk to my friend Terrace about his first experience at church (I assume it's his first time in a Mormon church, anyway, though I could be wrong). Amusingly enough, I learned more from talking with Terrace than I did at church. He asked a lot of very good deep doctrine questions, many of which I didn't know the answer to. (I probably WOULD know the answer if we learned NEW things in church, instead of having the same five lessons over and over... rant rant...) It was really cool, teaching him the stories I've learned. He asked some very good questions that you never get from people who believe it just because the church teaches it and they believe in the church, so there can be no questions.

Of course, I was so late to juggling practice afterwards that I sprinted up for practice just as President Rob finished putting away the last of the equipment. And they did fire-swallowing today, and I missed it. Woe!

President Rob and Natay and I are getting together to watch a movie this Thursday. I'm actually pretty excited about it--this is my first time hanging out with friends that aren't Jack's gang from church. Don't get me wrong--I love Jack's gang, but I don't have all that much in common with them. I get started talking about video games or juggling or D&D and they stare at me like I'm crazy and go, "Uh... yeah... so anyway, I got this new gun that uses whatever kind of bullets and..." (insert a bunch of random numbers and gun jargon here).

Anyway, as for the movie, I have no idea what the movie is, though it's supposed to be a must-see. All I know is, cute guy says "Hey, we should get together and watch this movie" and I say "Ooh, I'm there, dibs on cuddling with the boy!"

By the way, I have some fire-juggling pictures here for you guys. Unfortunately, the flaming devilsticks were out of commission the day we took pictures, but we got plenty with poi and torches! :D They're all time exposures because it was dark, so the people in the pictures are pretty blurry. I'm putting the labels for the pictures underneath, so don't get confused.

This is your Lint Monkey juggling torches. In fact, this is just as I was starting, so the flame was brightest, and it caught the little swing down by my sides I always do when I'm just starting.


This is Abe (left) and President Rob (right) juggling torches.


Lint Monkey doing torches. This one doesn't look quite so cool because it's just before the flames died.


Monica (left) and Lint Monkey (right) with flaming poi. The unofficial title for this picture is "Mine's Bigger Than Yours." Note that we're both doing this one-handed. Two poi, one hand = awesome.


Same as above, but note that the flames in this one are overlapping so perfectly that you can only really see two circles for each of us (one for each poi). That's because we're just so darn cool.


President Rob doing torches. In my opinion, this was probably our best torch-juggling shot.


Lint Monkey doing poi again. In this trick, I swung them to my sides, crossed them over my head, crossed my arms, then swung them down low and jumped over them. It may have cut off the swing over the head, though. Still looks awesome. Shame the flames weren't brighter for this picture.


President Rob's Juggling Crown. (Those are torches he's balancing on his head, by the way.)

If you like these, I have more, but most of them are pretty similar to each other.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Roommate

I get the feeling my roommate doesn't like me, and I can't figure out why.

The first day I got here, she was fairly nice--helped me carry my stuff in from the car and all, showed me around the apartment, and then disappeared to let me unpack. Since then, I swear she avoids me. Anytime I walk into a room she's in, she gets up and leaves almost immediately. Without even saying a word. When I try to talk to her, she'll give me a one-word answer if it's necessary... and then get up and leave. I would assume she's just anti-social, except that I hear her talking to the other roommates (who share the apartment but not our bedroom) when they're downstairs and I'm upstairs doing homework.

My suspicions were confirmed the other day when I came home to find a massive wall, kind of like a dressing screen, blocking off her side of the room from mine. I was going to ask her about it... but she left the room.

She seems like a fairly cool person. I just can't understand what I've done to get her to feel she has to put up walls between us (both literally and metaphorically speaking).

Of course, her wall has a downside that I suppose she didn't stop to think about. It's 11:00 and I just got home. A lot of people were moving about downstairs, so I came straight upstairs, walked in my room, leaving the door open, turned on the light, and started cleaning up a little before going to bed. After about three minutes, I heard a rustling, and my sleepy roommate walked around the wall, flipped off the light, slammed the door, and shuffled back to bed. Heh. Oops!

I don't feel like that was my fault, but it definitely didn't do anything to make her like me any more. Sigh.

(Ha, wow, two complaining posts in a row! No worries, I really am happy!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Speech

I got back the score for my speech. She rated us in eight areas with a score of 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. I got a 1 in all areas but "Appropriate Language" and "Vocal Presentation," where I got 2s. Apparently, the reason I got a 2 instead of a 5 in "Appropriate Language" was because I used the word "you," and in "Vocal Presentation" because I "talked a bit quickly at times." In "nonverbal support of presentation," I got a 1 because I was holding my note cards. I didn't really expect to get any 5s at all, or even 4s, but is it really fair to give someone a failing grade for holding their note cards? It's not like they were in front of my nose or anything. I had my hands resting on the lectern, holding the cards. Yes, I should get marked down, but a 1? That leaves no room for her to mark me down even more for giving the entire speech wearing a hula skirt while standing on my head and playing the accordion with my feet. Silly teacher, not thinking ahead.

Oh, she says we'll also get marked down if we have a sore throat or a cold, get up to give a speech, and apologize for coughing or being hoarse "because it's enormously distracting and if you mention it, we won't be able to focus on anything else." Also, we get marked down (from a 5 to a 1... gay...) for using the word "you" because it's informal. Lies! The word "you" is, in fact, commonly used to mean "people in general." It's a perfectly legitimate generic word! It doesn't mean you're stooping so low as to actually talk to your audience (heaven forbid). Of course, the word "he" is also a general pronoun to refer to a person of unknown gender, but we'd get marked down for using that too.

People are so retarded.

Also, we're not allowed to be excited about our topic because it's distracting. We're not allowed to be bored with our topic either, obviously. We're not allowed to make hand gestures. We're not allowed to touch the lectern. We have to have note cards, but we're not allowed to touch them either. We're not allowed to smile excessively. We have to organize our speech the way the teacher tells us to. (I loathe this, and I will rant about it if you ever get me started--she requires "Introduction: I will talk about A, B, and C. Body: Point A blah blah blah, Point B blah blah blah, Point C blah blah blah. Conclusion: I just talked about A, B, and C." If I ever become an English teacher, I will rant about that the first day of classes and mark down any paper obviously organized like that by a whole letter grade.)

So now I have to rewrite and present a formal speech on the Cookie Monster. A speech in which, if I must refer to the audience, I must use the formal "one" instead of "you." For example, "If one were to commence research on the dietary habits of Sesame Street's popular secondary character Sid Alistair, alias Cookie Monster, it would be beneficial for one to first determine his or her locative time zone. He or she would then compare his time zone to that which ABC's television channel is based in to determine the approximate time one would have to prepare his or her television set for viewing, as he or she would require the use of a television and a cable connection to view the television show on which the Cookie Monster appears. Upon clearing his or her schedule at that time and preparing the television, it would then be necessary for one to locate the channel upon which Sesame Street would be aired. If one were located in Fairbanks, for example, one would simply turn on his or her television set at three in the afternoon to channel forty-six." Blah blah blah. Oh, and I'm supposed to tell the audience why it's relevant to them.

...It's not. It's the freaking Cookie Monster.

I hate being formal. Everything in my nature screams against formality. I once had to write a talk for church when I was about fifteen years old. I ended up doing something more like a stand-up comedy act. The bishop never asked me to give a talk again.

Okay. I feel better now. Thank you for bearing with me while I whine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Flameth?

I juggled torches for reals yesterday. It was pretty awesome. Actually, once I lit them up, they flared up too high--I didn't shake off enough of the excess lighter fluid--so I burned half the hair off my left arm. Cleared ALL the hair off the hand and burned my fingers a little bit, too. It was SO COOL!!! Once I got the torches going, it was actually remarkably easy. Also, I invented a few tricks with the poi (and by "invented" I mean they've probably been invented already, but I thought them up and taught them to myself). There was this one trick I came up with which involved slinging them both in circles down near the ground and jumping over them. President Rob watched me try for a minute and said, "Hey, that looks pretty cool." He grabbed the other set of poi and... did it perfectly first try. Rawr, punk! (Actually, that's not true at all--I was doing it just as well as he was, but it's not as funny of a story that way.)

I also got a club t-shirt with our club name and motto on it. "Alaska Gravity Works - Dropping things on the floor since 1993." I love this juggling club. Can you tell? :D

Ran into Natee (a girl from juggling club) on campus today. We both complained about/mocked our speech teachers. My speech teacher has a lisp and no sense of humor. She had us get together in groups today and write down our expectations from her and from other students in the class, and then had us "write them on the board tho we can dithcuthh them and tho I can veto any I dithapprove of." Of the thirty or so suggestions we wrote up there, the only one she vetoed was the suggestion that the teacher lighten up the class a bit by telling occasional jokes. Apparently "humor ith not nethethhary in a learning environment." My bad feeling about this class keeps getting worse.

Okay, I'm sorry, it's wrong of me to mock her lisp. She can't help it. It is ironically funny, though, that a speech professor should have a lisp, don't you think?

I enjoy all my other classes. Even Latin isn't too bad so far. Actually, it seems to get a little easier as I go. But I may change my opinion after I get my first homework assignment back. Anyway, I'm understanding the reading much more than I did in 201. Of course, that's not saying much, since even by the end of the semester, I didn't have a clue what the story was about. At all. I can't believe I passed that class. I wouldn't have passed me.

I got to pretend I was useful yesterday--the volume control on Jack's laptop refused to show up on the taskbar. The problem was, there's a program called sndvol32.exe that has to be installed in order for it to work, and whenever he tried changing the setting to put it down there, it said the file was missing. I don't know where his file went. I searched his computer for it and it wasn't there, and I'm always a little wary of downloading files from the internet. So I went home, copied the file from my computer, put it in his system32 folder, and voila! Problem fixed. Yay! I am useful!

Okay, this post was a little rambly, but oh well. It's the best you're getting just now because I have errands to run and homework to do and besides, I'm hungry. Toodles!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Don't play with fire

Rob brought the unicycle yesterday, so today I'm sore and so covered in bruises I can hardly move, but I'm definitely getting better. I'm also getting noticeably better with the clubs, so I'll be able to do torches and knives before too long. :D

Yesterday was my first juggling performance ever. It wasn't so much a formal performance, though, as it was showing up at a party with our toys to keep the kids out of trouble while the parents talked. Well, the parents probably watched some of the time too. We were standing right in the middle of the lawn. A few parents came over to thank us for sharing our toys, apologize for their children, or, a few times, play the juggling equipment. The kids liked to watch, and they also liked to play with the toys, though not usually in the way they were meant to be played with. Several of them grabbed some balls and a juggling club and ran off to play baseball. A couple of them just threw balls on the ground for a few minutes. Most of the kids would pick something up, ask us to show them how to do it, and then walk away the moment we started. It made me nervous when the kids would come close to look when we juggled fire or knives. Finally, I took four balls, lined them up in the grass about ten feet away from where Rob and I were juggling, and told them that if anything was in our hands or in the air, they weren't allowed to cross the line. It actually worked, too... for a few minutes.

At practice after our performance, I was trying a new trick with the flaming poi and hit myself in the back of the head. A few hours later, I was running my fingers through my hair and realized that although I hadn't caught my hair on fire, I had singed it. I can't tell if it's bad enough that I'll need to cut off the burnt part. Since no one's said anything about it, I'm guessing probably not. Either way, I'm glad it was the back of my head instead of my face.

The saying is true: You shouldn't play with fire--you might get burned. But where's the fun in that?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kek, flaaaames

Juggling club yesterday was awesome! At the beginning, there were no less than five people there. Four of us stayed the whole time, the fifth person left after a few minutes, but was soon replaced by three more people, who played for half an hour and left only to replaced by others, and so on. But the coolest part was...

I brought Katy with me to juggling practice. I had expected no one but President Rob to show up. We worked inside the Wood Center for a few minutes until Rob and Natee came... and Rob said, "So. Campus rules state that we're not allowed to play with fire indoors. So we're going outside for practice today."

I GOT TO JUGGLE FIRE!!! It was so freaking awesome! Holy crap, it makes juggling SO much more intense! We have flaming torches, flaming poi, flaming devilsticks, and a flaming quarterstaff (which wasn't there yesterday). No fireballs, which is a real shame, because I'm best with balls. Holy crap, though, that worry of catching your clothes on fire really puts the edge on your performance. I was too scared of messing up to mess up! Oh oh oh, there were also juggling knives! I didn't work with those, though. I spent most of the time practicing with the torches... keeping them unlit, because it's a new trick. Got absolutely filthy, too. Tee-hee!

I can't wait till I can juggle clubs, because that's when I get to really use torches and knives. President Rob says passing is easier with clubs than with balls, too. He also says I can be the vice president if I really want, since the current vice president is MIA. I probably don't want to, though. That would mean I'd have to be responsible.

Well, anyway... enough about that.

English was cool today. Professor Welsh had us read a hilarious news article from the Onion in which evolutionists started worshipping a mold smudge shaped like Darwin. Of course, then he assigned us an essay. I've always prided myself on the flippant, sarcastic tone I use in my papers... and the professor just had to assign the one topic that I can't be light-hearted about: the 9/11 attacks. Daggumit!

Today was the first Ethics class of the semester too. (I'll refer to Ethics as Philosophy sometimes too, because the course is Philosophy 322.) The professor, Eduardo, was out of town for the last two class periods. It's weird having professors that insist on being called by their first names... and he's my third professor here who introduced himself with just his first name. Anyway, he's from Argentina, so he's got a cool accent. He told us right off the bat that he'll be drinking a type of tea called "mate" all class. To do that, he opens this leather pouch, pours plant stuff into a cup shaped like a brown leather/steel softball with the top and bottom cut off, adds hot water from a thermos, then drinks it through a metal straw with a sieve on the end. "So all class, I will be adding hot water from here and it may look like I'm doing drugs, but I'm not, okay? It's tea. Here, see? I will pass it around. Look. See? It's tea." He also told us we're encouraged to be politically incorrect. And we're all monkeys. And after only one class, I feel like my brain's turned to mush.

Also, I swung by the job fair on my way back from class and found a job opening for a copyeditor on the school newspaper! Oooooh, money plus resume filler! I'm so applying! (Wish it was a magazine instead, though... I don't much like newspapers.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Surprise!

Last night, I went out to Eielson Air Force Base for Jack's birthday/good-bye party. Dad, you'll get a kick out of this: There's a road out that way called Thatta Way. Also, in North Pole, which we passed through on the way, there's a road called Santa Claus Lane. I thought North Pole was hilarious! Every pole in the city was white with a red stripe--decorated like a candy cane.


The party was a lot of fun. After scaring the life out of Jack and coating him in silly string (it was a surprise party), we started playing a game called Quelf while Dave made moose steaks. Well, Dave played too, he just got up and down a lot. Quelf was an awesome game--a little bit like Cranium, I guess. I had to write a five-line opera song about the player to my right, and I got to move two extra squares if I included the words hormonal, mountains, absentee ballot, gorgeous, and plank. I pulled it off too, and sang it to the tune of Phantom of the Opera. It was pretty retarded, but everyone liked it anyway. I also had to write a six-line rhyming poem and recite it while walking in circles with my chin on my left shoulder and my right hand on my left ear. Sarah had to invent a dance. Eric had to give a golf commentary on everything Sarah did when it was her turn. He was actually surprisingly good at that--I was sitting right by him and his commentary was quiet and intense, so I was one of the few who could hear. It cracked me up, and I had trouble focusing on what she was actually doing. Kitty had to spend an entire round pointing at the sky and speaking only in Spanish. My personal favorite was on my next-to-final turn, I landed on the last space and got a red card. For red cards, you have to take the topic on the card and go around the circle and name something in the category. Since I was on the last space, I had to list two things instead of one each time it got to me. The topic was "words with more than five syllables." Naturally, I immediately took supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis right off the bat. Of course, that left antidisestablishmentarianism for the next person, but meh. The best part was, everyone (including me) just made up words and acted like they were real. I believe we used the words antidissentihistorianist, superantagonistically, amorphogermophobia, and a whole boatload of others that were obviously made up. So I started calling people on the words they made up, and they made the rule that they could make up words but I couldn't. Well, I made up words anyway, but everyone actually believed they were real! Mwaha, that's what years of language classes will do to you! And I haven't even taken morphology yet!

Everyone at the party had chipped in and bought Jack an iPod with a metal case that had engraved on it "Return with honor--we'll miss you, Jack!" (or something sweet like that.) Katy and Dave had bought him a really nice .45 caliber rifle. (Did I mention Jack loves guns?) That kind of left me feeling bad because I hadn't gotten him anything. Then I stopped feeling too terrible because it's not really my fault I've only been here a week.

The party was at Sarah's house, so her little sister, Kate, was there. Kate's twelve. I liked her a lot. She was super-hyperactive and kept jumping up and down and squealing and flapping her hands. When we went downstairs to watch Transformers, I sat on the floor with Gimli (the German shepherd) and Kate. After Gimli drooled on my face and walked away, I lay down and put my head in Kate's lap. She giggled and started trying to spike my hair with just her fingers... for about ten minutes. Then her mom called and she jumped up and flew out of the room, letting my head smack onto the floor. Bah, stupid kids.

On the way back, I saw lights flashing in my rearview mirror. I hate emergency vehicles. My one and only car accident happened because of a fire truck. Anyway, no one was in the passing lane, so I pulled over, the whole time thinking "Is he pulling me over? Is he seriously pulling me over? I've never gone more than two miles over the speed limit in my life! Well, okay, five. Well, except for that time in Denali when I went ninety, but that was necessary. Well..." so half of me was freaking out. The other half, the dominant half actually, was pretty relaxed because I couldn't possibly have done anything wrong, could I? Maybe it was just that time of night when cops decide to randomly pull people over to see if they're drunk.... Yeah.

As it turned out, he just wanted to let me know my left headlight was out. He didn't give me a ticket or a mark on my driving record or anything. Just a warning to get it fixed. He took my license and registration and insurance information, so I assume he recorded it somewhere so that if I get pulled over again later for the same problem, they can see I already had my warning and it's ticket time.

So I got a new headlight today! And I even fixed it all by myself! It was actually surprisingly easy, but I felt proud anyway. I really like fixing things. It makes me feel useful, even if it's only useful to myself.

Heh, so anyway, we got to Jack's place to continue the party (it was only eleven and we hadn't finished the movie, but Sarah's mom had kicked us out because it was late for her), but within three minutes, someone had come in and yelled at us for being too noisy. Weird. We ended up all curling up in various places on the floor (except Joselyn, who stretched out on the couch and promptly fell asleep) and watching Eric play some duck version of Line Rider. Katy told me about her father, who was in an insane asylum for hiding in a tree till a grizzly bear walked by, jumping on top of it, hog-tying it, and killing it with a knife. Just to prove he was a "man." I'm not sure whether to say he's a moron or the coolest person in the whole world.

Sorry for the lack of variety in the pictures, by the way. My camera died after five pictures, and I wasn't even using the rechargeables this time. Siiigh.

Today, I gave a speech in my communications class. I hate giving speeches. I was fine right up until I stood up, and then I started shaking really badly and I quivered with nerves--visibly--the whole time and for a good ten minutes after I finished. I did pretty badly, too. The speech had to be five minutes, and I only managed 3:45. I don't even know how many times I said "Um," but I know it was more than I was supposed to. I also used the words "see" and "like." Oy. Go figure. If I had to stand up in front of the class and juggle or quack like a duck or be a total idiot, I'd have no problem. I don't know why I get so nervous over speeches.

And... that's it, really. Except, never slap a monkey. Especially if the monkey is actually a ninja. Toodles!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Stuff to do

My computer's still being gooftarded. I found the problem on Microsoft's website--apparently, Windows Service Pack 3 is incompatible with my motherboard. Unfortunately, Microsoft says they won't fix the problem because it's ASUS's fault, and ASUS won't fix the problem because they say it's Microsoft's fault, and this problem has been known by both parties for months. Gay. I tried uninstalling Service Pack 3, but it didn't fix the problem. I think that may be because I wasn't in Safe Mode when I uninstalled it, so I may try downloading and installing it again and then trying to use my BIOS work-around to get into Safe Mode and uninstall it from there.

I ended up signing up for German 101 instead of French. The class time is perfect--it's just before my other classes every day. I like back-to-back classes. It means I only have to go to campus once a day for my classes and I don't have to kill time between them. I wonder if killing time is a sin. "Thou shalt not kill, nor do anything like unto it." Ha. Anyway, the German teacher's really nice, and I'm a little ahead of the game already, since I took a little German in high school.

My speech class is going to suck, I think. I already don't care much for the teacher--she doesn't seem to have any sense of humor at all--and I don't particularly want to dress up to give formal speeches that I have to spend hours researching and practicing for. My first speech is going to be on Wednesday, and it has to be five minutes long with a "generous grace period" of thirty seconds either way. But we're not allowed to watch the clock. We're also required to use notecards, but not allowed to read anything. I signed up to give my speech on the Cookie Monster. I'm going to be very sad if I get an e-mail from the teacher saying I'm not allowed to speak about fictional characters. I was going to talk about juggling, but I looked at the syllabus before I signed up for that, and I decided to save that topic for the speech later in the semester that requires a visual aid.

Speaking of juggling, I went to juggling club the other day. Apparently, there's only one member who goes all the time. He's the president, and his name is Rob. He wears a top hat. I know more three-ball tricks than he does, but he's better with devilsticks and clubs and probably several other things. I started learning how to do clubs (once I can do clubs, I can also do knives and torches!), and I practiced with devilsticks. The club's devilstick is very different from mine. It's not a straight stick--it's wider on the outside than the inside. Apparently, this whole time, when I thought I was using devilsticks, I was really using "crystal sticks." Devilsticks are similar, but different. They go faster and handle differently. Also, they're made of different material, and don't seem to grip each other as well. So, where I was good with crystal sticks, I'm having trouble even doing a helicopter with devilsticks. The club also has three acrylic balls for contact juggling, as well as torches, knives, flaming poi, a unicycle, and silicone balls that retain 80% of their bounce. Apparently, there are usually around three people who show up to meetings, but no one in the club can ride the unicycle. There's one guy one campus who rides his unicycle to class every day, but the punk isn't in juggling club! How dare he! ...Anyway, I learned passing (with balls, not clubs) and practiced with clubs and the devilsticks. I'm just starting to get the hang of them both. I can handle two clubs just fine, but when I get to three, I can only get around seven or eight tosses before I start dropping them. It's an improvement, though! (Rings are easier.) And I got to teach the club president how to juggle a Windmill. :D

I haven't really been around much lately because Jack's decided that since it's been so long since we've seen each other and we're both, by freak chance, in the same city at the same time, that I have to spend every minute when I'm not in classes or meetings partying with him and all zillion of his friends. And by "partying" I mean largely sitting around at his place, watching TV, and making fun of his roommate Eric. Seriously, three guys live in that apartment, and at any given point in time, there are like eight people over there. Jack's going to Iraq next week, and I can't help but wonder if Dave and Eric will have as many visitors with him gone. Somehow, I don't think so.

Actually, we also went shooting. Jack's apartment has like twenty guns (and even more swords), and practically everyone here has at least one of their own. I shot Dave's .22 rifle he got before he could walk (he calls it the Chipmunk), Katy's larger rifle with a scope that was impossible to look through with the massive earmuffs I was wearing, and Eric's (or Jack's?) shotgun. I'm not actually a terrible shot, despite the fact that I've never even held a real gun before. Well... I didn't think so, anyway. I mean, I was able to hit the root beer bottles from ten yards about half the time. For a first time, that's not too bad, right? Riiiiight?

Oh yeah, Mom, remember how you were worried that I'd get married like a week after going to BYU, and then I didn't get married there at all? Aren't you proud of me? Jack and I are getting married tomorrow. For the honeymoon, he's going to Iraq and I'm going to school. Isn't that the most romantic ever? ;)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Computer nerd question

Okay, so another question for all you computer nerds. A few days ago, my computer downloaded a Windows Update. I think it was called Service Pack 3 or something like that. After that, it restarted. When it restarted, it said Windows hadn't been shut down properly and gave me the option of starting it in Safe Mode or last known good configuration or starting it normally. I started it normally, it got as far as halfway through lighting up the Windows logo, and then flashed up a blue screen too fast for me to read and restarted. The problem continued, no matter what mode I tried to start it in, until I finally went into BIOS, flipped through it, gave up, and said "Discard Changes & Exit." Then it started just fine. Weird.

Well, I kept having the problem. The first few times, just going into BIOS and exiting without saving seemed to work, but after a while, it didn't seem to want to do that either. One time, it didn't work until I took out the CD that was in the drive, and this last time, it didn't work until I unplugged my external hard drive, which I had plugged in just an hour or so before to back up my files in case my computer decides to commit suicide from this.

Finally, I got out my camera, videotaped the computer screen while it flashed up the blue screen, then plugged the camera into my laptop to read what the screen said.

"The BIOS in the system is not fully ACPI compliant. Please contact your system vendor or visit http://www.hardware-update.com for an updated BIOS. If you are unable to obtain an updated BIOS or the latest BIOS supplied by your vendor is not ACPI compliant, you can turn off ACPI mode during text mode setup. To do this, simply press the F7 key when you are prompted to install storage drivers. The system will not notify you that the F7 key was pressed - it will silently disable ACPI and allow you to continue your installation."

I went to the website and can't find an update for my BIOS. Of course, I was also pretty lost--that website's a pain to navigate. What does it mean about being prompted to install storage drivers? I don't remember that. Anyone know how I can fix this problem? I'll love you forever if you can help me!

Jack? Jack?! I dunno no Jack!

Four classes today. Count 'em: four! Except Institute might not count, since I'm not getting credit for it.

My first class today was English 213, Academic Writing in the Social and Natural Sciences. Despite the horrific name, I think I'm going to enjoy this class a lot. For one thing, the teacher smiled the whole class, which is always a good sign. For another, there seem to be several very interesting people in the class. While we went around the room introducing ourselves, two other guys and I managed to steer the conversation to the robot revolution and how we should ditch our textbooks and read Isaac Asimov instead because we need to prepare ourselves for when the robots take over the world. The teacher said he didn't think so, and I suggested we could learn to write a persuasive essay to the robots to get them to stop attacking us. The teacher said we could just cut the power. I knew I should've majored in law. Lawyers can argue anything.

After that was Philosophy 322, which is Ethics. Turns out the teacher's out of town until next week, so no class till next Thursday, but he did have someone there to pass out a syllabus and a homework assignment. Class lasted all of five minutes. From the syllabus, I'd say the class seems a little fluffy, but it's a core requirement. I just think it's silly writing arguments to prove Aristotle is mortal. "Aristotle is human. Humans are mortal. Therefore, Aristotle is mortal." Okay. Very good. Yes. I see it now. This is like beginning algebra with words. A = B. B = C. Therefore, A = C. Oh WOW! BFD! On the other hand, the first homework assignment is watching a science fiction movie called Solaris. Any class that lets us study science fiction or fantasy HAS to be good, right?

That reminds me: In my English class, we'll have to do a big research paper. Any ideas for good topics? I was toying with the idea of writing a comical paper about the promotion of communism in My Little Pony.

Anyway, my next class was Sign Language. I'm not actually signed up for the class--I'm on the wait list. As it turns out, there are four people on the wait list, and I'm at the bottom. Also, I've forgotten so much that I was almost totally lost in class today. So I'm wondering if I should keep going, try to review, and just hope that four people drop the class (it's a class of 20, so it seems unlikely), or if I should drop the class and try to get a different one. I was toying with the idea of taking beginning French. I took French in high school and got 112%, so it should be fairly easy. Of course, it's a five-credit class, and this university charges by the credit, so it'd be fairly pricey. And I'd have to take another semester of it after this one. Blah, I dunno. Stupid options. Why can't someone else make my decisions for me so I can whine at THEM when they turn out to be terrible choices? Either way, I want to get this worked out as soon as possible.

Then I went to Institute. It didn't take too long to find the building, and I walked in to a room with a foosball table, a pool table, a piano, a ping-pong table, several armchairs, and a bunch of kids sitting around talking. This was probably the coolest part of the day.

I stood in the doorway awkwardly for a moment (I'm shy, remember?), then stepped forward and said, "Hi, is this Insti--" and was interrupted by one of the guys jumping up, running over to me, and crying "Tell me you're not a Fordham!"

I stared at him. "Uh...."

"Are you from Virginia? Which one are you?"

"How did you know? Do I know you? Who are you?"

"Which one are you? What are you doing here??? I'M SO GLAD TO SEE YOU!!!!"

I still had no idea who this guy was. I racked my brains. I definitely didn't recognize him. Who would I know from church that knows enough to ask me "Which one are you?" that's in their twenties and that I wouldn't recognize? "You're not... are you Jonathan DeFabio???"

"Oh my gosh, I haven't gone by that name in SO LONG!!!" And he practically launched himself at me and gave me an enormous hug.

Frankly, I'm still in shock about several things: One, Jonathan DeFabio's here. In Fairbanks. With me. Two, he goes by Jack. Three, he's in Fairbanks! Four, he RECOGNIZED me after almost ten years. Five, he's in the Army. Six, he's still hyper, but now it's more a fun hyper than an annoying hyper. Seven, he's in Fairbanks. And eight, he's actually pretty attractive.

Hahaha, I still can't believe there's someone here I know! Oh, know what else is funny? There's a second person here I know too! Her name is Jennifer. She and I took a class together at BYU. At least, I think we did, but I can't remember which class. I just know I recognize her and that she graduated from BYU two years ago, so that's the only place I could have met her. We may have just been in the same ward or something.

And then there was a guy named Travis who was playing the piano after the lesson. He was playing Jon Schmidt at first, so I disregarded him. At BYU, everyone and their dog plays Jon Schmidt. So I wandered into the next room to try and talk someone into letting me play foosball. (Everyone left just when it was my turn to play, so I didn't get to... whiiine.) But after a while, I heard Travis change songs. And he was playing video game music! More specifically, he was playing the intro to Final Fantasy X! So I dashed into the room where he was playing, fell to my knees, and said, "You're playing Final Fantasy music! I love you! Marry me NOW!"

Don't worry, he didn't say yes, so I'm not engaged.

After that, we played volleyball until eleven. I really shouldn't have stayed up so late, but I haven't had much of anyone to talk to in days, and I haven't gotten much exercise in a very very long time, so I figured it couldn't hurt. By the way, playing volleyball with girls is hilarious. Any time the ball comes towards them, either they're so busy talking about their nails that they don't notice it, or they see it coming and just cringe and hope someone standing nearby has the guts to dive for it. Me, I just have the tendency to hit the ball way too hard, usually in the wrong direction, and often with only one hand. Oh well. At least I try. And everyone had fun, so that's good. Glad we didn't keep score. I tend to get competitive when that happens.

I did remember one reason why I prefer basketball to volleyball. Two, actually. One is that you don't really get to move around as much in volleyball. Few moments of action, wait for serve, wait for ball to come to you, lather, rinse, repeat. In basketball, you're moving all the time, whether you have the ball or not. The other reason is that my skin is so pathetic that when I hit the volleyball once, my entire arm turns red. Yeah yeah, tell me I'm just hitting it wrong, go ahead. Anyway, I've never had that problem with basketball. I've slipped, tripped, run into people and walls, got hit in the face with the ball, been kicked and shoved, and somersaulted overtop of the ball... but I do all that in volleyball too. PLUS hurt my hands, arms, and wrists.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'm really exhausted--it's three hours past the time I've been going to bed lately, and it was a looooong day. Guess I'll put off my homework till tomorrow. Uh... after juggling club.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yeah, I feel better now....

My mom has an interesting post up about sunspots. You may want to head on over and check it out.

I feel a lot better after finishing my book and then wandering around campus a bit. It's so much more relaxing at 8:30 in the evening, when there's almost no one around. The sun being down helped a lot too. It wasn't dark yet, but the sun wasn't in my eyes, and it had cooled off to the point of being bearable again.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it recently, but I hate crowds. Loathe them, in fact. They terrify me, give me a headache, and make me uncomfortable, jittery, and irritable. I never used to be quite so bad in crowds, but it seems that the older I get, the more uncomfortable I get in them. Ha, can't wait to see what I'm like when I'm sixty. One person will walk in the room and I'll start spazzing out, I'm sure. Haha!

I'm enjoying having a real computer desk again. The tiny round table I was using at the resort was so small that I'd had to keep my mouse behind my computer monitor. It was rather weird using a mouse that's a foot and a half behind-to-the-right of the keyboard. This desk is big enough for me to spread out my computer, push the monitor and keyboard out of the way for textbooks when I want to study, and still have room to lean back in my chair and put my feet up. And the chair was built to rock back in, so no one can complain that I'm tearing it up.

There's a pub on campus. That amuses me. But it doesn't amuse me as much as the fact that there's also a reindeer farm on campus. I think it's on campus. It's within a mile of campus, at least.

Whistling in an empty stairwell sounds really cool. Whistling songs you played in marching band in an empty stairwell is even cooler. I wonder if this school even has a marching band. I wonder if it has a football field. Hmmm....

At the Wood Center, there's a games area with a bowling alley, a foosball table, arcade games, and a bunch of pool tables. In the Constitution building, there's a place to get smoothies. The strawberry one made me want to start drooling right there on the turtle statues. There's also an ice-skating rink. And the fine arts building is connected to the library. And I finally found my Latin instructor's e-mail address. And I'm starting to think I won't have any trouble at all chugging a gallon or two of water every day. I didn't have any problem in Utah, which is supposed to be a desert, but I swear, I've never been anywhere this dry before.

Welcome to UAF, how can we inconvenience you?

So I... just started a sentence with the word "so."

Let me start over.

I went down to campus today to talk to my academic advisor and see about getting my schedule changed. See, one of my classes was canceled and I need a new one, but I'm not sure if I can sign up for classes online or if I have to get approval, and anyway, I'm not sure what classes I still need for my major. So I tried to get online to locate academic advising, but my computer downloaded an update yesterday that makes the computer not want to turn on. Every time it starts to load, it gets halfway loaded, then the blue screen of death flashes up so fast I can't read what it says, and the computer restarts. I don't know how I got it working yesterday, but I wasn't going to complain, since once it turned on, it was fine. This morning, after about half an hour, I managed to get it started by going into BIOS and saying "Discard changes & exit." Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that's how I got it started yesterday too. Meh.

Anyway, I finally got the computer started, located the academic advising center, and headed off. Finding the names on the buildings, at least, wasn't too hard, but it's really weird. A lot of buildings are actually two or three separate buildings that are all connected, and it kind of threw me off. I walked for about ten minutes before finding the western edge of campus and realizing that... heh... I'd turned the wrong way upon leaving the apartment and now I was on the wrong side of campus. So I turned around and trudged back the way I came. Sigh.

Today's one of those days where if you're in the shade, it's chilly, but if you're in the sun, it's so hot you want to melt. And of course, it's so dry that if you melted, you'd probably evaporate within an hour. Not much shade on campus, and there's not a cloud in the sky, so the sun was right in my eyes too. I knew I should've worn my hat....

After about half an hour, I found the main cluster of buildings on campus. They're big and have weird platforms and balconies inside. You should see the museum building. Holy crap, it's weird. It took a while, but I finally found the Gruening building. Turns out, the ground floor is also the third floor. Weird. Oh well, that just meant I only had to go up two flights of stairs. I went in and explained my dilemma to the lady working there, and she said, "You'd want to go talk to the linguistics department. They're in the Brooks building." It's embarrassing having to ask for directions when you're a senior. No, I guess I'm a junior again.

Unfortunately, her directions started with "Turn left after you leave the building." When I got to the ground floor, I noticed there were four exits--one in each direction. I picked an exit and wandered out, asking a chick who was walking by for directions. She didn't even look at me--just nodded behind her and walked away. Thanks....

At least I found it without too much trouble. The lady inside was named Siri, and she was very friendly and helpful--even more so than my academic advisor, because she volunteered information about teachers, which Cindy wouldn't do. Apparently, there's a guy who teaches an Eskimo language who's a genius... but very, very disorganized.

"You mean like he'll have a test scheduled, but then forget to write the test?" I asked. "I had a teacher like that once."

"Yeah... or he'll forget to come to class."

That sounds like my kind of teacher! Haha. Unfortunately, the time for his class was terrible--I don't much care for evening classes. I ended up signing up for a sign language class, which should fulfill my second language requirement. It should, probably. "But you'd want to double-check with the academic advising center to make sure it counts. Some people don't consider it a foreign language because it isn't written."

So I trudged back to the academic advising center. The lady remembered me and didn't seem too pleased to see me again. And when I asked about whether sign language would count, she said, "You should have asked at the linguistics department." Rawr.

Then I went to the post office to get my PO Box key. I tried to pay with my debit card, but the lady said "Cash or check only." I don't have a checkbook. I counted the cash in my wallet. Twenty-three. That's not ninety at all! Sigh....

"Okay, well, if you want to pay with a credit card, take this form to Signer's Hall and bring back the receipt." And then I had to ask for directions again.

Signer's Hall wasn't too hard to find, but it had at least two or three entrances which didn't seem to be connected in any way, so I still had to walk in, wander around, walk out, circle the building, and walk in again. And then stand in a line for half an hour. The lady asked if I wanted to pay tuition and housing and all my other various fees while I was there. I tried, but my debit card has a limit on it, so I couldn't pay all my fees anyway. At least I got the post office fee paid. Then I walked BACK to the building I was in before (no idea what it's called) and got my PO Box. Then I went to the library to get on a computer and find my teacher's office for my Latin class, which isn't scheduled. I found the teacher's name, but I couldn't find a phone number, office, or even e-mail address. Well, forget that, then.

Then I found the bookstore and bought books for the three classes I AM definitely taking. Books are as expensive as ever, and many of them are probably unnecessary. Two of the books look like they're going to be practically identical to the Penguin Handbook I already have, from my English 111 course I took my first semester of BYU (which cost ninety dollars, and we barely used it in class anyway). Well, that's a lot of money I probably should have saved. I couldn't find any books for my Latin class. A guy who worked at the bookstore approached and asked if he could help, and when I asked about the Latin class, he recommended I e-mail my professor and ask. Yeah, assuming I can find the teacher's e-mail address. I mean, thank you!

Then I had to find the Eielson building and get my Student ID card and a parking decal. Turns out, they're actually in the same building! Holy cow, something mildly convenient! Getting the ID Card didn't take too long, though I look entirely deranged in my ID picture. Meh, whatever, looking deranged in pictures on cards is mandatory. Then to the parking office, which had a line about twenty people long, and in the end, I didn't have my vehicle registration with me anyway, so I didn't get the decal and have to go back again later. Whatever. I don't even know my license plate number anyway.

Then, of course, I couldn't remember how to get home. I did find it eventually (obviously), walked in, and there was a guy sitting on my couch. My roommate was in a chair, talking to him, but they stopped abruptly when I walked in.

"Hi."

"Hi."

I went into the kitchen to make a sandwich, and they both stood up and left. Sigh.

I'm hot and tired and kind of annoyed. And it's too bright outside. And the water here tastes like butter. Whine whine whine.

On the plus side, it only took about ten minutes for my hair to dry this morning after I toweled it off. I guess we can ignore the fact that now it's sticking up funny all over the place.

I know full well that in a few weeks, I'll get the hang of campus and be in the swing of things and I won't have a million errands to run anymore. Who knows? I may even have some friends. But for right now, I just wish I was home. Wherever that is.

Monday, September 1, 2008

To Fairbanks!

Hi again! Did you guys miss me? Thanks for the birthday wishes! :D

It turns out the drive to Fairbanks only took ten hours. But loading my car took four times as long as I thought it would... I anticipated about twenty minutes, not an hour and fifteen. Oh well, no harm done.

The drive up was WOW! Rye had told me to have my camera ready, and I thought "Yeah, meh, landscape pictures, big whoop." I've seen a million landscapes, and they're all beautiful, but pictures almost never do them credit. This trip was something else.

The first part was your typical "Oooh, aaah, mountains, pretty...." Then I started getting near Denali and saw some huge mountains. By "huge," I mean they were big enough that probably the whole top third of them was covered in snow... and it's barely September! I only caught glimpses of the mountain range through the trees, and then the road turned and there in the middle of the mountain range was Mount McKinley, easily twice the size of every other mountain in sight. It was like having a whole bunch of Corgis lined up with a Great Dane towering over them in the middle. Or... you know, something like that. It was pretty impressive, anyway.

Then I got inside Denali National Park. CRAZY! It was like being on Mars! Imagine the driest desert you've ever been in. Utah times about ninety-seven. I'd say it was a desert, but that usually implies sand and cacti. Definitely no cacti here, and I when I think of sand, I think of something yellower and fluffier. The gray stuff that covered the ground between all the rocks would better be described as dust, I think. But as I got up into the mountains (these were smaller ones, without snow), things got really weird. The trees, first of all, are turning yellow already. At least, the ones that aren't pines. The ones that are pines are the weirdest-shaped pines I've ever seen. They were too spiky. I mean, usually when you imagine a pine tree, you imagine something... well, fat and fluffy. These pine trees looked like giant nails sticking straight up out of the ground, and they were about the same color. The term "evergreen" would have to be used very very loosely if you tried to use it to refer to these trees. "Evergray" might be a better word.

As if gray trees isn't weird enough, there wasn't any grass in sight. Instead, there was scrub--small bushes that cover the ground thick enough that it looks like grass from a distance. Except like I said, the leaves are turning color, and these bushes all went red. Deep blood red. On top of that, the mountains were purple. In Virginia, the mountains were purple, but that's because they were distant, and the humid atmosphere made them just look purple. These mountains are made of rock, and above the scrub line, where the rock is actually visible, it's definitely and unquestionably purple. Indigo. Violet. Not gray or brown or reddish. Purple.

With the strange colors, the rocky mountainous terrain, and the insane dryness, I felt like I was on Mars. I found a place to park and pulled over to get a picture when I saw a lake. Well, a small lake. Or a large pond. I don't know where the line is separating those two. Anyway, there was a fairly-sized body of water that would have made an awesome picture, with the red ground and gray spiky trees and purple mountains, because the water reflecting pure silver, with black ripples. And in the middle of the pond, there floated two pure white swans.

...Swans.

Yeah, it was pretty cool.

I tried to get a picture, but when I got out my camera, the batteries were dead, and I couldn't remember where I'd packed the spares. Daggumit.

Also, I learned that my car can make it up to 90 mph. I'm never ever using the yellow-dotted lines to pass again. I was about fifty feet away from a 160-mph head-on collision (my 90 plus his 70). I don't think I would have had the opportunity to feel how bad that would hurt.

So anyway, I've met my roommates--they mostly seem nice. Their names are Brooke, Amanda, and Sarah. Brooke was the only one here when I got in, and she helped me carry in all my stuff. She didn't talk much, but then, I was kind of babbling like an idiot. Two days straight with no one to talk to (except a spider fern) will do that to you, I guess. She showed me around, "Dishes here, bathroom there," kind of thing, then she disappeared and left me to my unpacking.

Amanda was the next to show up. She poked her head in to introduce herself as I was unpacking my socks. She seems nice, but she didn't seem to get any of the jokes I made.

"Hi, I'm Amanda!"

"Hi, I'm Cathryn."

"Oh. The door says your name is Caitlyn."

No it doesn't, I thought. But it's not polite to contradict people, especially when it's your first time meeting them, so I just said, "Yes, well, the door is terrible at spelling. I heard it was even held back in fifth grade because it couldn't spell 'existentialism.'"

She stared at me for a moment, looking confused.

"That was a joke."

"Oh. So, will you be staying here the night?" she asked.

"Um... well, I was planning on it, yeah. And the next night... And the next night... and maybe a couple nights after that...."

Blank stare.

Well, honestly! How are you supposed to react to questions like that? I can understand questions like "Where are you from" and "What's your major," but "Will you be staying here the night?" No, I was planning on unpacking and then sleeping on the sidewalk tonight.

Then there was the third roommate.

She walked up to me and said, "Hey, what's your name?" By this point, I had taken off my vest and was wearing my work shirt, which has my name written on it in big gold letters. Also, my name is on the door of the apartment. Surely, since my name should have been glaringly obvious, this situation merited a comical response.

"Bob."

"Ha ha," she said without a hint of amusement, "Seriously, what's your name."

I guess I should have given up and just told her, but I couldn't stop myself. "I don't think I have one. Maybe I just lost it somewhere."

She snorted. "You need to go back to high school." Then she turned to her friend and said, "Why aren't I drunk? I need to get drunk," and walked off.

This will be an interesting semester.