Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dear guy next to me in the library,

Look, I know my foreign electric plug converter thingy makes a buzzing noise. I promise you, I know. It's not a feature I particularly appreciate. But the battery on my laptop only lasts so long. If I'm going to be here the whole afternoon writing this goddamned essay, I need power. And I'm not going to kill my laptop battery all that much faster by running it down all the time when there's an outlet right there.

I know it makes a noise. But you know what? It's not that loud. In the entire ten weeks I've been here, one else has ever complained about it. If you don't think about it, you quit noticing it. And you know what else? There are dozens of tables in this library, and I can see at least eight empty seats right now that at tables that are not this one. So if you bothers you, guess what? I was here first. You can move. Kthxbai.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

adventures in Catalan

I want to save a webpage. My options under the "Fitxer" menu are the following:

Nova finestra
Nova pestanya
Obre una ubicació...
Obre un fitxer...
Tanca la finestra
Tanca la pestanya
Anomena i desa la pàgina...
Anomena i desa el marc...
Envia la pàgina
Configuració de la pàgina...
Exemple d'impressió
Treballa fora de línia


Monday, November 17, 2008

gendered nouns

I have never ever understood the existence of gendered nouns. Seriously. I'm thinking of Spanish here, but I'm pretty sure it happens in all the Romance languages, yes? I know Latin has 'em, so that would make sense. As for other languages, I have no idea. German doesn't have them, am I right? I took a German class in like, third grade, but all I remember from it is how to count to 29, and the word for spaceship (Raumschiff—I think that's how you spell it, anyway). But English is more or less based in German, and English doesn't have them, so it would make sense for German also not to have them, right? Whatever. I'm rambling.

At any rate, what gives? From what I can tell, it's a completely random distinction separating nouns into two separate and completely useless categories (three, if you have neuter nouns—damned Latin and its complicatedness) for no discernible reason whatsoever. Just so they can have more ways to say "the." And where did the "gender" terminology come from? Why can't they just be categories A and B (and C)? Why feminine and masculine (and neuter)? What, pray tell, makes the wall (la pared) more feminine than the floor (el suelo) or an ankle (un tobillo) more masculine than a wrist (una muñeca)?

The way we learned it in Latin class (assuming memory serves, which may be a steep assumption), there are declensions, and first declension nouns are feminine (e.g. silva—forest), second declension nouns are masculine (e.g. amicus—friend) and third declension nouns are neuter (e.g. caelum—sky). I think. But I don't remember if this is always the case, or if it's just generally like that and there are exceptions; I don't know if you can say "first declension" and that automatically means "feminine" and vice versa. I feel like that's not the case, because if it was, why would there be both terms? And now that I think about it, there are more than just three declensions, right? I mean, the "family" words have to go in there somewhere—mater, pater, soror, frater—and they don't go in those three. Yes, yes, I'm remembering now, there are at least five. Possibly more.*

Agh, my kingdom for a Latin book.

And whatever happened to the neuter nouns anyway? Latin's "caelum"—"sky"—is neuter, but it morphed into "el cielo" in Spanish, which is masculine. Why? And the other neuter nouns from Latin that carry over into Spanish, they're not all masculine, are they?** Assuming they're not, how was it decided which ones would be feminine and which ones would be masculine? And what of the nouns that were already masculine or feminine in Latin—did they all keep the same gender, or are there some trannie nouns running around in the modern Romance languages? Do any of the modern Romance languages still have neuter nouns?

And I suppose this depends on the answer to a previous question, but it's on my mind so I'll ask: are the genders consistent across the related modern languages? That is to say, if a noun in two different modern Romance languages has the same Latin root, do the two modern forms necessarily have the same gender? For example, I know the word for "window" in Spanish, "ventana," is feminine, and it is based on the Latin "fenestra," which is also feminine. And I know the word in French is based on the same root—is it "fenetre"? (Well, I know how to say it, even if I can't spell it. So sue me, I've never taken French.) So is that then also feminine? And if so, is that a rule, or only coincidence? And again, what of those poor neuter nouns? Are there nouns that used to be neuter in Latin, and now they're having an identity crisis because they're feminine in one language and masculine in another?

Anyway, I'm veering away from my original question, which remains, why the hell do these categories exist in the first place? Seriously. If anybody can answer me that, I'll bake them a pie. A lovely delicious pie, with a buttery, flaky homemade crust, and fruit filling of their choice (I have a completely unfounded but rather strong prejudice against cream pies).


*I took two years of Latin, and we used the same book both years, and still didn't manage to get through the whole thing. In fact, I'm fairly sure we skipped over the fourth declension entirely, now that I think about it. So besides all the things I've forgotten in the intervening six years, there were some basic things I never even learned. Not that I'm trying to make excuses; just explaining why I probably don't know what the hell I'm talking about with some most of this stuff.

**The only other one I can remember off the top of my head is "bellum," which means "war," but in Spanish, "war" is "guerra," which doesn't seem to be obviously related, so I don't know if that's a valid example.

ETA: THIS. I'm not alone!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

brain wiltage

So, I just sent off a bunch of postcards. I'm horrible at postcards. It's not meaningful communication—what can you write in a two-inch square that means anything? Seriously. But the people demand postcards, and so they shall have them. And so, looking for things to write on said postcards, I ended up putting something about my classes on most of them, saying things like, "My classes are really interesting, and I'm learning a lot!"

This is a lie.

Honstly, I'm almost starting to hate my classes here. They're So. Fricking. Dull. There's virtually no student-teacher interaction, beyond the occasional "¿Me entienden?" ("Do you understand?") from the professor. (This is less true in my grammar class, in which the prof at least tries to put a "conversation" section into each class, but honestly, she usually ends up dominating the conversation herself. I don't know if this is more her fault or ours.) And sometimes when they ask if we understand a word, even if we all nod and say "yes," they still feel the need to go on and explain it anyway.* For example, in art history the other day, the prof used the word "efímero," which means "ephemeral." It's the same word, and it has the exact same meaning; he even said (in Spanish), "I think this word is the same in English, yes?" and we all said yes, it was, we knew it, we understood, but he went on to explain thoroughly anyway, using examples, and then returned to explain it twice more before the class was over. I mean sure, it's probably not something that we use in everyday conversation, but we are college students here—sometimes I think they forget that. Just because our level of language isn't so great, doesn't mean we're stupid. And we said we understood; I promise, we're not going to lie about not getting something—we want to understand.

And we have no homework. Now, if you know me at all, you'll know that usually this is something I would celebrate. But we don't have class work either. We don't do anything. (Grammar class is again the exception here; we've had a ton of workbook pages and a handful of mini-essays there.) I really want to know where our grades are coming from, since we're not expected to talk in class, and we've had exactly one assignment each in Spanish novel and contemporary Spain, and absolutely nothing in art history (not that I get a grade for art history, since it's an audit, but still, I'd be interested to know). When I get back to Knox, I think I'm going to fail all my classes because I will have forgotten how to put forth effort in anything that's class-related.

Well, I have to go to class now. Art history, as luck would have it. Guess what? I bet we don't do anything. In fact, we probably won't even talk about art. (We don't always. It's kind of ridiculous.) *sigh*

*The art history prof is by far the worst in this category, but the others do it too sometimes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yay Obama! Yay Indiana!(?)

So, first off, YAY OBAMA! I'm way happy, in case you've never heard of me and couldn't guess. I didn't sleep Tuesday night, because being in Spain, they didn't call it until about 5:30 AM local time, and I just couldn't go to bed before that, and then I had to watch the acceptance speech (definitely teared up a bit there), and then I decided to stay up and finish an essay instead of try and sleep the final two hours I had left, so Wednesday I drank four coffees and was a zombie most of the day. Then I slept fourteen hours last night and now I'm good.

But I'm also confused. See, when I finally turned off the computer Wednesday morning, Indiana was still too close to call. That being my home state, I was thrilled (never in my lifetime has there been a question of which way Indiana would go—it has been a "red state" since before the term existed—so a tie like that is amazing), and once Obama had it in the bag, I figured it wasn't a big deal, I could find out later which way Indiana ended up going. So this morning, I do a Google search for "Indiana election results" and the first thing to come up is the Indiana Secretary of State's page, which said (and currently says) McCain got more votes. Sadface. But a bit more searching tells me that all the networks finally called Indiana for Obama.

So who's right? The numbers of votes on the MSNBC page are bigger, which would make it seem like their info is more complete, but they (and the other networks) all say "99% of precincts reporting," so did they call it and then stop updating without complete info or something? And the Indiana Secretary of State's page says it was last updated Wednesday at 11:09 AM, and they ought to have the official information, no? I mean, it's the freaking government page. But then again, besides being a raging neocon, Todd Rokita (our sec. of state) is also a blithering idiot. And while I know it's not him personally updating the website, it is his office, so...who knows. I know it doesn't make any difference now, and just to have been that close is historic enough for me, but I'd really like to know who actually ended up getting Indiana's eleven electoral votes.

Either way, yay Obama! It's been a really good couple of days.

*UPDATE* (11/6/08)
So they've updated the Indiana Secretary of State's webpage (it's now says "Last updated November 6, 2008 (11:28 AM)"), but it's still got McCain having more votes. In fact, it doesn't even look like the numbers have changed significantly (I can't be sure on this, because I didn't write them down earlier, but they look quite similar, and still far smaller than the numbers on MSNBC, which have not changed). But every source I can find has Indiana as having definitely gone for Obama, which makes me think there must be something wrong, or at least something I'm missing, on the Secretary of State's website. Todd Rokita = failplz.

But then again, we knew that already.

*UPDATE NUMBER 2* (still 11/6/08)
I've fired off an email to dear old Todd('s office). It reads as follows:
Your "Election Results" page for the just-past presidential election seems to be showing incomplete and/or misleading information. It currently shows McCain/Palin as having gotten 922513 votes and Obama/Biden as having gotten 839625 votes.

This information appears to be either a)incomplete, or b)not the information I'm looking for (a tally of how many actual votes in total each candidate received, and hence, who won the state).

In case of a), being two days out from the election now, it seems ludicrous that the complete information would not be available here, especially when the major commercial networks all seem to have it (e.g. MSNBC).

In case of b), it needs to be much more clear as to what information I'm looking at, because what it *appears* to be is what I said before, a tally of how many actual votes in total each candidate received. If this is not the case, that needs to be clearly stated, because that is seriously misleading.

I'm really disappointed that I haven't been able to find the information I needed here. I would expect a government website to be a reliable source of info, and I hope the situation will be rectified immediately.

I wonder if anything will happen.

*UPDATE NUMBER 3* (11/13/08)
So, I never heard anything back from dear old Todd, but I happened to think of it and went on over to check out Indiana's election results page again, and look! Information that appears to be accurate! And a big red headline that says "Note: These results are NOT yet official. A number of counties have yet to provide their data to the state." Could we actually be seeing honesty and competency from our Secretary of State's office?

Well, I don't know that I'd go that far. Not having the "official" results, two weeks after the election, seems like an awfully big stretch on the "competency" factor. I'm sure they know the "official" results; they're just too damn lazy to update the webpage. But their totals are at least larger than MSNBC's now, so I'm done messing with it. They can leave that "unofficial" notice up until 2012 for all I care (and I have no doubt they will).

But it's a step in the right direction anyway.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dear people who stole my wallet Saturday,

Just FYI, you kinda suck. I mean, I was sitting there in that cafe, not bothering anybody, just enjoying the free wifi and catching up on some Facebooking, and then bam! No wallet. And all because I tried to help some poor woman with her wireless. ("Oh, that's how you do it!"—right. Nobody's that stupid.) I had to call Fernando and interrupt whatever he was doing so he could get a taxi and take me home, because you left me with neither money nor metro card. I felt really dumb.

Now, I don't know you. I didn't see you do it, and I couldn't identify you if I had the opportunity. But I do know what you got, and y'know what? I think I got the better end of the deal, honestly. I mean you, what did you get? A credit card and a debit card that I cancelled before you could use (yeah, that cash advance? Nice try. Wells Fargo was too smart for you.), a couple weeks' free rides on the metro, maybe fifteen euro in cash, and a bunch of discounts and club cards for places you've probably never heard of. Smooth.

But what did I get? Well, first off, I got an excuse to buy a new wallet, which I've been looking for for ages. I got a chance to retake all my ID photos—four-eyed, high-looking driver's license photo? Gone. Excellent. I got a reason to call my mom. That was nice. And of course, I got a quick lesson in watching my stuff. That's one I'll remember. And all that for a mere fifteen euro and a metro card? Sounds like a deal to me.

So I won't say thank you, because really, you stole my frickin' wallet. You're a couple of jerks. But I'm lucky; I'm a student at a nice college with the opportunity to study abroad, while you are a couple of people who hang around cafes trying to scam tourists for their wallets. And you didn't get much out of mine. So, sucks to be you. Perhaps you should consider another line of work.



Monday, October 27, 2008


So, I'm walking home from the Metro station a few minutes ago, and the street's pretty empty, and I'm walking fast 'cause I wanna get home for dinner. I hear footsteps coming up behind me, also walking fast, and getting closer. Without even thinking about it, I adjust my bag and glance over my shoulder to see who's there. And it's nobody bad, just some guy with a briefcase who probably also wants to get home for dinner, who happens to be a lot taller than me (not uncommon) and so his "walking fast" happens to be rather faster than my "walking fast," and he ended up passing me by and going on his way without saying a word or even acknowledging my presence (which is the norm here; it's rare for people on the street to greet, nod to, or even make eye contact with people they don't know).

And this started me off on a surprisingly long train of thought, given the short amount of walking I had left to do.

First I was a little peeved, as I always am, that my very first gut reaction in such a situation has to be fear, or at least suspicion. Having lived most of my life in rural and small-town environments, the danger of being victim to random stranger violence or being snatched off the street or what have you was never really forefront in my mind, but simply by virtue of my being a girl and having watched the news at some point in my life, the idea is there. And don't get me wrong, it's a good instinct to have; I'd much rather be suspicious and safe than obliviously trusting and kidnapped or worse. But it peeves me makes me pretty damn angry that such an instinct is necessary for women in our society.

Which then led to a slightly happier realization, which was that this is the first time in a long time that I've had that kind of reaction. I've been out walking by myself after dark countless times since I've been here in Barcelona, and quite often (on my street at least) there are few or no other people around. And it's not scary. Violent crime is way less common here than in the US (handguns are illegal here, can I get an AMEN?!); the worst that's likely to happen is that you get pickpocketed (which is very likely in some areas, but fairly easy to avoid if you're careful). Since arriving here, I've never felt anything less than safe.

And of course, this is something they tell us in the literature when they're trying to sell the program: it's a very safe city, you can walk home by yourself from the club at 3 AM and nothing bad will happen, blah blah blah. But, they say, be ready for catcalls and casual harassment, especially if you're of the female, blond-haired, blue-eyed, obviously foreign-looking type. Which I am, and I've traveled enough to come to expect that type of behavior (in larger US cities too, though not on account of the "foreign" aspect). It certainly happened on all of my visits to Mexico. It even happened in Japan, although there it wasn't harassment, exactly, but I certainly don't look Japanese, and people noticed. (The first time we went, I was eight, and I remember perfect strangers coming up and petting my hair on the train.) But the thing is, it hasn't happened here. I can't recall one instance of my being whistled at, catcalled, or otherwise interrupted in all of my wanderings of the city.* I suppose part of it may be that I don't look all that "foreign" here—I'm not your average weeklong-stay tourist, wandering about in Las Ramblas, hanging out in the tapas bars and drinking sangria. I know my areas of the city, I can navigate the metro without stopping to read all the signs, and if my Spanish is nothing like a native's, it's at least passable as something I'm used to using.**

But I haven't noticed any of the garden-variety, it's-because-you're-a-girl type of harassment here either, which surprises me, not only because I was told to expect it, but because I thought that was something that happened everywhere.*** And this makes me want to know, why? What's different here, and how do we make it that way elsewhere?****

I'm adding this to my list of reasons why Europe is basically the best place in the world. So far, I've got multilinguicity, socialized health care, environmental awareness, legal gay marriage, and Mediterranean cuisine. The only detractors I can come up with are the non-existence of trick-or-treating and a serious lack of ketchup, and in the end, I guess these are things one can live without. Seriously, I need to start pricing apartments.

*Well, I must qualify, there was one time at a bar when a guy came up to one of my friends and said, "Excuse me, but you are stunningly beautiful," and then walked away, which is something I would generally put in the category of harassment—being an uninvited, objectifying comment—but he was so drunk and it was so adorably funny the way he did it that I have a hard time classifying it as such. And even so, that one incident out of the whole time we've been here so far? Not much.

**And, though I haven't noticed any overt anti-American sentiment, I wonder if it makes a difference that I apparently don't look American? I've been taken for German and British, but so far nobody I've talked to has called me as a US-native on the first try. I don't know why this is, or what it means, but I'll take it as a good thing.

***Well, at least in all big cities. It's never happened to me at home, but that's because in a town that size, if the guy doesn't know you directly, he at least knows your dad, or your sister's best friend, or your cousin's roommate's brother, or what-have-you. Without the guarantee of anonymity, it all falls down.

****I really like the asterisks—can you tell?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dear UB,

I love your free, fast, working internet.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008


So, I know places with free wireless–this is not the problem. The problem is my stupid stupid laptop, which has some sort of something wrong with it, and it will only load half the pages I ask it to, and not the ones I really want (e.g. Hotmail, Knox Webmail, Facebook, Myspace, etc.). So I have to go to the internet cafe and pay for my internet until I get a password for the University, and who knows when that'll

Anyway. Until further notice, consider my online time to be one hour per week at most, because honestly, I'm hella cheap.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Holy shit,

I'm madly in love with Spain.

Also, I probably will continue to not make regular posts because my lovely reader (hi Mom!) does not speak Spanish, and I'm trying to stick with the whole speaking-of-Spanish business. Suffice it to say, I'm having a lovely time and will probably post pictures to Facebook when I get back.

That is all.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

+1 nerd cred

Y'know what? I didn't really get much out of that math class I took last year. I mean, honestly, I tried, but it kind of just sucked, y'know? But I suppose one class out of the eighteen I've taken so far isn't too very bad, all things considered; after all, it was just a distribution requirement, and it's done and over with now, so I'll never have to worry about math again. And anyway, the frustration has finally proven useful in one way, at least: it meant I understood this xkcd comic without having to look it up. ^_^

Thursday, August 21, 2008

culinary adventures

I've had the same package of corn tortillas since I honestly don't know when. I know they sat in the fridge at school for quite some time, because I talked for a long time about doing something with them, but I never did. And then they came home with me and sat in the fridge at Mom's all summer. At any rate, they're old. But they're still okay. No mold or anything. So today, I went to the grocery store with Dad, and he wondered aloud what we ought to have for supper this evening (since I have today off and won't be bringing anything home, it's a nice opportunity for us to have a nice, non-pizza meal), and a sudden flash of inspiration hit, and I exclaimed, "Enchilada bake!"

So we bought a can of enchilada sauce and that's what we had, and by gum, it was delicious. And I'm not just saying that. I mean, usually I like what I make, but this was unusually good; Dad and Michael both agreed. And the coolest part was, I didn't have a recipe or anything; I just made it up off the top of my head, and it was sooo good. Really. I can't describe to you how wonderful it was. So I'm going to put the recipe here, in case I want to make it again, so I remember what all I put in. And in case anybody else wants to try it. Because really, it was heavenly.
Andrea's Excellent Enchilada Bake (a.k.a. Mexican Lasagne)

1 sm. red bell pepper
1 sm. green bell pepper
1/2 medium white onion
6-8 small corn tortillas
1 10 oz. can red enchilada sauce
1 15 oz. can refried beans
2 c. shredded cheese

Finely chop peppers and onion and mix together. Put a layer of tortillas in the bottom of a 9-in. square glass baking dish and cover with enchilada sauce. Cover with a layer of refried beans. Sprinkle 1/3 of peppers and onion mixture evenly over beans. Sprinkle 1/3 of cheese on next. Repeat for two more layers (or more, if you have extra ingredients).

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes, or until thoroughly hot in center and cheese is melted.

Optional (I didn't do this, but I might next time): After baking, add a layer of sour cream on top and sprinkle with chopped green onions.

Deee-lish. And to top things off, I made a peach pie, which is due to come out of the oven in about five minutes. It smells delectable.

It's been a good day.


Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) passed away yesterday after a brain hemorrhage. While I first found out who she was during her stint as a somewhat dubious celebrity on the Knox campus, she really was a credit to the House, and it's a shame she had to go so soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My mommy's growing up!

My mother is maturing, media-wise. I've walked her through the scary parts of CDs, so that now she's even asking for burned mixes and playing them in the car(!), and she's showing signs of being ready to take the next step: she was talking today about how she has all these CDs of all these artists she likes, but she wishes there was some way to play lots of different artists together, instead of a CD full of just one, and I knew immediately the word she was searching for: playlist. I mean, CD mixes can only take you so far, and then you spend all your money on blank discs, and then they wear out after like, two years, and...yeah, I'm way over CDs. So anyway, I told her, "Mom, it's time we got you an mp3 player." She seems hesitant, as she always does at any mention of new technology, but I let her have a go with mine for a few minutes, and with only minimal explanation, she was navigating the library with ease.

I'm so proud.

So I did some glancing around online, and I think I know what we need. Nothing too huge—I think a 2-4GB model will be quite sufficient—and nothing too gimmicky (no iPods or Zunes—egh), just a nice, functional mp3 player. I've found a few that seem to be about right in terms of memory, functions, etc.; I'm thinking particularly about the Creative Zen Stone Plus (with speaker!)—it's the right size and has the right features, and of course, it's adorable. And my player's a Creative as well (Vision:M), and seeing as how I've got no complaints about its performance and only minor quibbles about the user interface,* I'm relatively comfortable with the brand. So all's well and good.

Except. My mom can't use her work computer for music. Apparently the company doesn't like it when you use up all the memory on their puny little laptops with nonessential "personal" things. Pfft. Any company that classifies music as "nonessential" is highly suspect, in my book. But I digress. This leaves her with the "home" computer downstairs, which is still running—wait for it—Windows 2000 (it's actually not been that long since Windows 98 for us...oh, the memories...). And of course, no self-respecting company is going to make a player that's compatible with Windows 2000 this late in the game—they probably wouldn't even be making them for XP anymore, except Vista sucks like one of those fancy vacuum sweepers that can pick up a bowling ball. Hell, my player won't even work on the old computer, and the Vision:M was released in 2005 (that's like, millions of years ago, technologically speaking).

So I'm stuck. I feel like there has to be a way to do this, but short of getting one of those really tiny flash-drive-like players that only hold like, half a GB of data and don't have screens or navigation functions worth crap, I don't know what I can do. Damn obsolescence. Damn it, I say!

For the time being, though, I am going to have to cut off her supply of free mixes until she starts giving me the blanks to fill. I have other things to be spending my money on. Important things. Like Game Cube games.

*Personal preference entirely—I was very used to my old Philips machine before it bit the dust, and, being a creature of habit, I hate change.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


It started Sunday morning, innocuously enough, with a faint twinge in the back of my throat each time I swallowed. No big deal, I thought—probably just a little irritation from the campfire smoke Saturday night. Monday morning it became more pronounced: a constant, if slight, discomfort in my throat. Tuesday morning, there was congestion: I woke up with my head so full of mucus that it took much longer than usual to stand up, let alone walk straight. By the afternoon, I had a rip-roaring sinus headache and a faint ringing in my ears. But that's nothing compared to tonight, because tonight, the stuffiness turned runny, and then, on top of everything else, the sneezing started.

Seriously. Who gets a cold in August?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

exciting things

I got three exciting new things yesterday. One is a memory card for my recently acquired Game Cube, so that I can quit stealing my brother's, which is nice. I'm sure he'll appreciate it. The other two go together, and, I expect, will come in quite handy next year:

I love getting new things.

Also, that skirt I bought the fabric for back in like, May—it's almost finished! It just needs hemmed yet. Thrills.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


So, I notice that I start basically every post here with the word "so." And the ones I don't, I usually want to, initially, at least. I'm not sure why I do this. Do I talk that way? Is it annoying?

Sometimes I really wish I weren't me, so that I could observe me and see how I look/sound/come across to other people.


So, back in May, I did a presentation for my gender and women's studies class about advertising, specifically the portrayal of women in ads and especially the gratuitous use of sex or sexiness in said ads. It was quite a good presentation, in my own humble opinion—at least, I got a lot of positive feedback from my classmates—and the most effective part, I think, was probably the Ad or Porn Quiz, where I showed a bunch of pictures and had the class guess which ones were ads and which were from porn movies or websites. This was the part that drew the most comments, and I was really happy with how it went over, and especially the grade I ended up with (^_^).

Now, you are probably asking what brought this up, so I'll explain: in the course of putting together the aforementioned quiz, I spent a lot of time on this very laptop looking up porn on the internet. (This led to some hilarious conversations between myself and my roommate.) I did all my searching on Google, and of course, I never bothered to clear out my history, because honestly, who uses my computer but me? And I promptly forgot all about that, until tonight when I happened to open the Google homepage by mistake and on a whim, I clicked to see what the first few things that came up on my history were, and thanks to the magic of alphabetization, they were all porn. In fact, scrolling down the list, more than half of the items on it were porn, some obviously so from the names, and others less obvious, but I remember searching for them, so I know that's what they are. My history, I notice, is different on the actual webpage than the one I get from the search box built into my browser, which is much longer and more up-to-date, so I guess when I search from there (which is much more often), it doesn't go into the same list as the one for the actual webpage? I'm not sure how that all works.

At any rate, this still wouldn't bother me, except I let my 14-year-old cousin use my laptop when she was staying with us last week, and I'm pretty sure she didn't go anyplace much except for Hotmail and Myspace, but not entirely sure, because the history doesn't differentiate between my usage and hers, and I'm on Google all the damn time. So it all boils down to the fact that she probably didn't see any of that, and if she did, she didn't say anything, but still, what if—?

Time to go "Clear Private Data" and all that jazz.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

sweets to the sweet

So, y'know Snapple? "Made from the best stuff on earth," and all that shit? Anyway, get this: a woman in New Jersey sued Snapple because they advertise their beverages to be "All Natural" when in fact they are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, "a highly processed sugar substitute." Now, from any reasonable person's view, and speaking in a layman's terminology, she was totally in the right. Snapple's entire image is about being healthy and, more importantly, NATURAL. I mean, take one look at their website (though I wouldn't stay too long—the music is completely irritating). There's a whole little "book," complete with three pages of references, on the history and health benefits of tea—that's tea in general, mind you; I don't know how that compares in reality with the history and processes involved in creating Snapple's teas. Anyway, it's clear that a major component in Snapple's image is the idea of being "all natural." And HFCS is about as far from "natural" as you can get, unless of course, you're speaking in the technical, legal sense of the term, in which case, it's now officially A-OK, because, that's right, the lady from New Jersey lost the case. (You can check out the official court decision here.) HFCS is now officially a "natural" ingredient.

Of course, what is or isn't "natural" in a legal, what-you-can-or-cannot-put-on-a-food-label sense, is a complete load of bullshit, from any normal person's perspective. If you don't know what I'm talking about, do a Google search for "natural flavors"—this article is one that's pretty good. In a nutshell: "Consumers pay a lot for natural flavorings. But these are in fact no better in quality, nor are they safer, than their cost-effective artificial counterparts." They're the same chemicals, folks, just extracted from different sources and processed in different ways. And yet, many people will pay more for products that are labeled as "all natural" simply because they think that is some guarantee of healthiness. (The standards for "organic" products are stricter, but still a bit convoluted in places—it's all a very fascinating topic that you shouldn't get me started on unless you want to hear a rant.) It is, in short, a completely deceptive mode of business, which remains completely legal. And now, the FDA has given Snapple and other companies that use HFCS (which is the sweetener in basically every processed food EVER) a nice big boost by saying definitively that it, too, can be considered "natural."

Of course, you probably didn't hear about the court decision or the FDA's letter changing their minds on HFCS (they'd previously said they would not consider it a "natural" ingredient). I only stumbled across the link by chance on a vegetarian blog I happen to lurk on every now and then; I don't see anything about it on any of the major news sites or anything like that. But what you may hear (or see) is the ad campaign that is being launched by the Corn Refiners' Association. You can bet they're going to milk this for all it's worth.

Oh, and, I have to throw this in—part of the Corn Refiners' Association website is a chart comparing sugar, honey, and HFCS, as well as two types of "artificial" sweeteners, and at the bottom, in the "What's it made from?" field, it mentions that "Most honey is now imported from China," while throwing in that the corn used to make HFCS is "primarily grown in the United States." Not only is that completely irrelevant to the question ("What's it made from?" not "Where does it come from?") it manages to smear all honey everywhere by relating it to the recent issues with Chinese imports (seriously, it's pretty easy to tell which brands come from where—it says so right on the bottle) while planting that tiny little seed of goodness in the mind on the side of the HFCS—made in the USA! Woo! Of course, the corn industry is basically the opposite of "good" for the US economy as a whole, but they conveniently forget to mention that.

Further reading: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (the first chapter of that one is especially relevant here). Seriously kids. Go read these books, and tell your friends, so I can quit annoying people with my rants about food.

*EDIT* Apparently there was an article about the decision in the Wall Street Journal, which, I suppose, counts as a "major news source." I beg a thousand pardons.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


There was a time when I thought my strange tastes in pizza toppings ought to keep would-be midnight-snackers and other sneak-thiefs of food out of my pizza. The other evening, for example, I brought home a medium consisting of one half veggie lover's, and one half BBQ sauce, pineapple, and onion. Now, I know nobody else in the world wants any of that second half, and my mother specifically doesn't like onions, which I should think would keep her out of either half, but I made the mistake of getting a stuffed crust—when I came back today, the pieces were all intact except for two, and from those two, the crust had been carefully cut away and apparently consumed.

I suppose I should be expecting this, seeing as how she's starting a new diet and all. The fun part is, though, that the diet hasn't even officially started yet. I'm going to have to bring in the mini-fridge and put it in my room or something, if I want to keep food in the house. (Mom, if you're reading this, STAY OUT OF MY ROOM.)

Saturday, July 12, 2008


So, I was working this evening, and around 7:30 pm, returning from a delivery, I made a right turn into the Pizza Hut parking lot turn signal didn't stop. I mean, the little handle clicked back into the "off" position and everything, but the light on my dash was still blinking, and the little ticking noise was still ticking, and, sure enough, both the front and rear signal lights were still blinking. Pulling into my parking space, I clicked the handle down, as to signal a left turn, and found that instead of helping the problem, I'd only succeeded in turning both signals on at the same time. Which would be cool, if I wanted emergency flashers (mine work, but are unusable because the button sticks) but totally useless as turn signals. And so the problem was thus: the left turn signal worked normally, but the right one was always on, no matter what I did. I could put the handle in any position, I could turn off the car and remove the key, but no matter what, the signal was still on, ticking, flashing, and everything.

I told the manager when I went back inside, and he said (after he quit laughing) that there was nothing to be done for it just then, but if things slowed down and I got a minute, I should take out the fuse, and that would at least turn it off until I could get it looked at.

Well, things never slowed down, and so I finally drove home at 10:30, turn signal still blinking merrily away. When I got home, I explained the situation to my mother, and we got a flashlight and went to work on the fusebox.

I took out each and every goddamned fuse, and nothing stopped that signal. I think there must be something more to it though, because the dome light didn't go off either, and one of the fuses had to be for that, too. So we were doing something wrong, but we didn't know what. Finally, exasperated, we dug out a socket set and disconnected the battery. Obviously, that did the trick. Except we still don't know what the problem was, or what we were doing wrong with the fuses. So tomorrow morning, I get to call my uncle Rob, who's a mechanic, and explain to him the new and weird habit my car has apparently developed.

And also the weird thing with the brakes, but that's another (and probably far more mundane) story.

My mother has now officially declared that I "do bizarre things to cars." I resent this statement, because this is the first bizarre thing that has ever happened to a car under my care, and I most certainly did not do it.

Also, she'd better hope that's not the case, because I'm scheduled for a 9-hour shift tomorrow, and guess whose car I'll probably be driving? (Hint: not mine!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


In short, I'm sick of 'em. But not so much that I'll swear off them completely—that would just be madness. You know me.

Anyway, if you follow the news at all, you've probably heard about Obama's support of the FISA bill. Highly disappointing. And really, it's not like they have to vote on these things—McCain didn't. When senators are running presidential campaigns, they miss votes all the time. So that means Obama made a special effort to show up that day to vote that way on that bill. The wrong way, might I add.

So I sent a letter. I know, I know, it's not really a whole lot, but I don't often send letters to elected officials (and he is one, don't forget, he's still an Illinois senator, and as a student at a college in Illinois, I am a constituent), so it's something, anyway. I have copied the letter here, because this is my blog and I can. And if you happen to feel the same way I do, you should write him too!* (Or even if you feel differently. Everybody should be involved. Our government, after all, is supposed to be participatory.)
Mr. Obama,

As a registered voter and contributor to your presidential campaign, I was sadly disappointed by your support of the FISA bill. On your campaign website, it says, "It's time to put an end to the say-anything-to-win politics of the past," and yet, that seems to be exactly the kind of politics you are playing here. You tell voters (of the more liberal variety) that you won't stand for the abuses of power committed by the current administration, but your support of this bill says the exact opposite; this is either an attempt to draw in more hawkish voters in hopes that the rest of us won't notice (or won't care), or it is a revelation that perhaps you're not so different from the current president after all.

Either way, as I'm sure you know, this bill gives retroactive immunity to the companies that enabled the current administration to ILLEGALLY SPY ON AMERICANS, and supporting it is the same thing as saying, "Yep, that's okay by me." As a person who fully supports the Constitution and the rule of law, this does not sit well with me at all. I want a president who will protect the rights and freedoms of the American people, not the bloated, shady government organizations (DHS) and the anything-for-another-dollar corporations.

I hope that in the future, you will think more carefully about the effects your decisions will have, instead of trying to pander to the more conservative voters—you don't balance a tipped see-saw by standing in the middle, and the time for trying to please people on both extremes has long since passed.


Andrea Johnston

*That's the link for his Senate website; if you don't live in Illinois—or go to school there, as I do—you'll have to find your own means of contact, sorry. I'm too lazy to do it for you. Though I'm sure it's not hard.

Monday, July 7, 2008


So, after I made my post on July 4, I was looking at the main page of my blog, and all the text except the main part of that (then) most recent post was very small, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. The only thing I could think of was that I'd been looking at another page in a different tab earlier that had some very small text, and so I'd used ctrl+ to make it bigger so I could read it, and then ctrl- to shrink it down again; I thought maybe for some reason the browser was screwing up and was somehow stuck in tiny mode or something, and perhaps a restart would fix it, but I had three windows with a bunch of tabs open in each and didn't want to go through the hassle of bookmarking everything (I rarely shut down my browser completely—is that bad?) so I went to bed and promptly forgot about it the next morning.

I didn't remember again until just now, when I made that last post, and then I went to the front page of my blog and it was doing the same thing: the most recent post and the one before (from July 4) were normal-sized, and everything else on the page (the rest of the entries, the index links on the left-hand side, basically everything else but the header) were tiny. And then I realized what the deal was: at the bottom of my July 4 post, I put a footnote in subscript and forgot to close the tag. It's not that I typed it wrong—Blogger won't let you put up a post with a broken tag—I simply forgot to close it at all. And somehow, that affected not only the other posts, but the entire page. I don't know enough about website design to know if that's weird or not, but it surprised me, anyway. It always seems to me like bits of layout I haven't consciously altered (like the predesigned layouts on this site) shouldn't be subject to change in response to anything I do (as opposed to Myspace, where I—with the help of a code-generating website—specify exactly how I want each element of my page to look). I really wish I understood more about this stuff; it is one of my goals to take a computer science class at Knox before I graduate.

Of course, I harbor no illusions that anyone actually looks at this blog, except perhaps my mother every now and again (Hi Mom!), so it's not like it would've mattered much anyway, but hey, I like to keep things tidy online. It's may way of compensating for living in a room that could be mistaken for a disaster area.

wasting time

Should you find yourself bored and unable to sleep sometime (as I seem to be wont to do lately), you might check out this fascinating site. It has a bunch of these so-called IAT tests, which test your unconscious preference of things over other things, e.g. presidential candidates, or old vs. young people, etc. I took the candidates one, as well as the gay people vs. straight people one, and (surprise surprise) I like Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton (apparently not a completely up-to-date test) and not John McCain, and I have somewhere between a moderate and a strong preference of gay people over straight ones (I took it twice).

Or, alternately, you could follow my lead and become obsessed with Shoebox. Which I am probably going to go read now.

I have to work in the morning. Goddammit.

Friday, July 4, 2008

a long-ish post about very little

Happy Fourth of July!

So, I haven't posted in awhile. I would apologize, except there has been absolutely nothing of interest about which to post. There still isn't, really, but sometimes I get this nagging fear that if I don't post anything for a long enough period of time, I'll simply cease to exist. Okay, not really.

(Sort of.)

Anyway, here we are. The reasons for my lack of online activity lately are many and varied—well, that's a lie. There are three basic reasons: I've either been at Dad's and unable to find a wireless signal (sometimes true), or I've been sleeping (often true), or I've been working (virtually always true, seems like). 'Cause I've been working rather a lot. And by "a lot" I mean I've been scheduled an average of 38 hours per week, and actually working between 40 and 42. And of course, this isn't counting my second job of the summer, which I just started this week: custodian of Seminary church (the one Mom goes to) in Roanoke. They needed somebody, and I was there, and voila! Another four hours of my life sold weekly to The Man.

Of course, it's nice that I'm working a lot, because it means I'm getting paid for a significant portion of my time that would otherwise be spent not making money in some form or another, but it also means that I'm tired a lot more, and when I'm not working, I'm quite often sleeping. This means that time I would otherwise be spending in at least a semi-productive manner ends up slept away, and thus I have written nothing (I had so many ideas at the end of last term!), read nothing (my list of must-reads grows steadily longer), and just generally done very little that makes my life feel worthwhile.

That's not to say I haven't done anything, of course. They've just been mostly little things. For example, in mid-June, I made two rhubarb pies, which were delicious. I also did a lot of online shopping, intending to purchase a Game Cube, but I ended up deciding to wait and ask for one for Christmas instead, because a) I am cheap, and b) my brother has one here and I will be abroad fall term, so I wouldn't have much call for one of my own until January anyway.

More recently, I have re-discovered The Shoebox Project, which, in case you didn't know, is basically the end-all be-all of Harry Potter fanfiction.* Seriously. I mean, I don't really get much into fanfics—I had a brief, mild obsession with when the first LotR movie came out, but that, like my flirtation with MSN chat and my ninth grade crush, eventually faded. However, a friend sent me the link to this one and insisted I read it, so despite my misgivings (which were many—there's a lot of baaaaad fanfiction out there), I skimmed through part one, and then I had to go back and read it again, and then part two, and on and on's so amazing. But anyway, the other day, I happened to go check it out again, and there was a post up from May that I hadn't seen, so I had to read that, and then I went back and reread some old parts, and and then of course I had to go reread HP 7, and part of 6, and now everything in the world reminds me of HP, or Shoebox, or both. Yes, I'm a dork, we've been over this, I know.

I must say though, going back, I was a little disappointed with the actual books after reading the fanfic. I mean, don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed them immensely, and I still bawled like a baby at that one part in book seven (gets me every time!), but after taking Fiction Workshop last year and looking so closely at what makes good writing *good*, it struck me how very mediocre J.K.'s is at times. I mean, I like the stories—the plots and action are excellent, and the characters are for the most part good—but word choice, J.K., word choice! (Though it was nothing near as bad as Eragon—I picked that up on a number of friends' recommendations and couldn't even finish it, and that was my senior year of high school!)

Shoebox, however, seems to suffer much less from this sort of problem; granted, it's a piece of fanfiction posted on the internet, so there are the occasional errors and things that a good editor would otherwise catch, but it is so SO excellent in terms of character and sheer wit that I simply cannot compare it to the original books. It is co-authored by two girls, one of whom has just recently had an actual original book published (co-authored with somebody else), which I really really want to find and read now, because it sounds rather fabulous.

Anyway, I really have very little else to say just now, so I think I'll go to bed. Bed sounds nice. (Bed always sounds nice lately.) Cheerio, darlings.

*It's a slash fic (Remus/Sirius), just FYI for any snitty canon-worshiping link-clickers out there. Wouldn't want to offend anyone's delicate sensibilities by letting them get all caught up in such a wonderful story only to have it go someplace they don't want it to (but seriously, after reading the first half-dozen or so parts, who wouldn't want it to?).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


21 job applications,
14 follow-up calls,
2 interviews,
and one shittastic job offer.

Say hello to Papa John's' newest delivery girl.

Hey, I'm not complaining. It's a job, yo. Though whether it'll pay enough to leave a profit after gas prices is still unknown.

So, this lady from Pizza Hut called me Friday and asked if I was still looking for a job, and I said well no, not really, I got an offer at Papa John's, and then she was all like, no, please come work for us instead, we'll pay you better and give you more hours and we just lost two drivers and WE NEED YOU! Not those exact words, but, well, you get the picture.

And she wasn't lying; I'll be getting close to 40 hours a week there, as opposed to twenty-some at PJ's, and better hourly pay too. Plus, it seems like the Pizza Hut people actually know what they're doing, unlike at PJ's (seriously, the guy told me the wrong location for the orientation. Not reassuring).

So if you wanna harass me, you'll have to call Pizza Hut instead.

P.S. I'd like to point out that I applied to a lot of places, most of which were not pizza joints. They're just the only ones that called back. XD

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I have filled out seventeen job applications in the past 36 hours. That's not counting the one at the temp agency on Friday. And I'll be putting in at least one more tomorrow.

I really really hope I get a job soon.


Monday, June 2, 2008

action project

So, I'm smack in the middle of finals, and hating every minute of it, but I've finished my two long papers, so hopefully the hard part is behind me. This evening, I also finished the report for my "action project" for Women, Culture, and Society. It's an analysis of popular song lyrics, and the report was supposed to be 1-2 pages, but mine ended up being five and change. So I trimmed it down severely, ending up with 3.5 pages to turn in, but I really liked a lot of the stuff I had to cut, so I'm posting the full version here. Enjoy.


When picking topics for our action projects early in the term, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I chose “analysis of sexist content of popular song lyrics” off the list, mostly because I like music, but I had no idea what sort of project it was going to be. I already knew popular song lyrics were sexist; that's why I don't listen to much pop music. I figured the project would be interesting, but I didn't see it leading to any major revelations.

Long story short, I was wrong. Not about popular music, that is—it displays all sorts of sexism in all its misogynistic glory. I was wrong about the “revelation” part. I knew pop music was sexist—I'd just forgotten how sexist.

Now I'm reminded.

Since my analysis was to be of “popular” music, I decided to go to the Billboard Hot 100 list and see what was topping it this week, and I examined the lyrics of each song in the Top 10. Three of them (#3, #9, and #10) contained no significant gender content. For the rest, I have listed them in order from last to first, with a brief analysis of the gender content of each.

#8: 4 minutes - Madonna ft. Justin Timberlake
I really can't figure out what the lyrics here are talking about—the refrain calls to mind some sort of action movie (“We only got four minutes to save the world”) but the rest of the song sounds like some sort of pick-up for casual sex ([sung together] “If you want it / You come and get it.”). At least it seems to be mutually consensual, non-coercive casual sex—one singer sounds just as horny as the other. The video, on the other hand, features numerous shots of Madonna dancing in what appears to be some sort of skin-tight, flesh-colored leotard-type-thing. Seriously. Justin, meanwhile, is clad in pants, a long sleeved shirt, and a leather jacket for the duration. Three cheers for objectification! Message: Madonna is hot, and it doesn't matter what Justin Timberlake looks like, ’cause he—have we mentioned Madonna is hot?

#7: Sexy Can I - Ray J & Yung Berg
Total objectification, right there in the title—the female target (there's really no better word for it) in the song is referred to throughout as simply "Sexy." The entire song is the artist's meditation on how hot the girl is and how they should go to a motel and have sex (because he's "got a girl at the crib," so they can't go there—later in the song, it is revealed that she is also not single—what a lovely message of respect). I suppose it gets half a point because he is at least superficially asking permission ("Sexy can I hit it from the front, / then I hit it from the back."). Cripes. Message: Women are valuable only so long as they are hot and can "shake it" in a manner that turns you on.

#6: Love in this Club - Usher ft. Young Jeezy
It's your classic story of boy-goes-to-club, boy-meets-drunk-girl, boy-urges-sex-in-the-bathroom tale here. “Love” in the title is part of "make love," which translates to "have drunken sex wherever the hell we can find a place in this nightclub." The lyrics sound like they're pulled straight from an orientation lecture what not to do, ever, during a night out—don't drink too much, don't let an unknown guy get you drinks, don't leave your friends and go off with a stranger, etc.—this is exactly what he's urging the girl to do. He will not take no for an answer, and it is clearly implied that this is supposed to be flattering to the female, because obviously women want any and all attention men throw at them, no matter how sleazy. Message: It's okay guys—even if she doesn't seem interested at first, she really does want you, no matter what she says. Keep talking (and get her drunk enough) and she'll eventually have sex with you. It's cool.

#5: No Air - Jordin Sparks ft. Chris Brown
This song is insipid, lyrically and musically speaking, but it’s remarkable in that it features a man and a woman singing a duet about love on completely equal terms. Neither is presented as more powerful or more compassionate; there’s no good/bad or cruel/kind vibe going on; in fact, they sing the exact same lyrics throughout the song, just at different times (part of what makes it so godawfully dull, actually). Of course, it’s still firmly entrenched in the heteronormative mainstream, but it seems that is to be expected from last season's American Idol winner—there seems to be little widespread success with that kind of controversiality yet. Message: Heterosexual couples can have equal status in a relationship! Yay! (Although these two seem almost creepily dependent upon one another).

#4: Take a Bow - Rihanna
The second of two songs featuring gender content that does not demean the woman. It seems in fact to be a song of empowerment for the female protagonist, who is speaking to a cheating boyfriend, telling him in a very biting, sarcastic manner that she's through with him and it's time for him to leave. You go girl. That said, the subject's been done to death. I can name half a dozen songs in the past decade about the exact same topic. Is it not possible to write a song featuring a strong female character who is not dumping a slimy boyfriend? Message: Let him go sister, he's not worth it. (But this is your only power—dumping guys. So enjoy it while it lasts.)

#2: Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis
This song is sung from the point of view of a woman who has ostensibly been in love and hurt before, and who is now apparently in a relationship of which her friends do not approve (“But I don't care what they say, I'm in love with you / They try to pull me away but they don't know the truth”). The undertone here seems to be one of abuse, or at least of an unhealthy relationship, which is only reinforced by the disturbing imagery in the refrain: “You cut me open / and I keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love.” Message: Abusive relationships are normal and romantic. (Creeptastic.)

And finally, #1: Lollipop - Lil' Wayne
This song is one more in a slew of rather disgusting candy/sex metaphors floating around in Musicland. The entire song is a thinly veiled blatantly explicit story about a woman fellating the singer in a dance club. (Guess what the title refers to!) Probably the most disturbing part is his attitude throughout—it plays like he's doing her a favor (“So I let her lick the rapper / She she lick me like a lollipop” and, later on, “She ain’t never had a love like mine.”) Also clear is that he has control over her (“I make her bring that ass back / and she bring that ass back.”). Message:....I am so disgusted right now.

Conclusion: I like to talk about music. Correction: I like to argue about music (in a friendly manner, of course). And I know some people with abhorrent taste in music. Now, when I say I don’t listen to their favorite artists, I’ll have a better reason than simply saying, “They suck.” (Even though they do.) Music tastes vary, and I mainly quit listening to Top 40 radio because of the music itself—I found it bland and boring to listen to—but some people don't care about that, or (for some inscrutable reason) actually like it, so my argument as to why it’s bad falls apart right there. But when the lyrics have blatantly, disgustingly, over-the-top sexist content (or even not so blatant), I have another (and much better) argument as to why such music is not, in fact, harmless. I know people who are compassionate, progressive-minded individuals, but who listen to (and enjoy) some of the music I looked at for this project, unthinkingly consuming it because it was on the radio, because it was popular. Now, I know people’s music tastes don't change on a dime, but hopefully if I point out the kind of messages these lyrics are imparting, I can at least get some people to think about the trash they're allowing into their heads, and make them a little more conscious of the kind of society we're living in, where such garbage is rewarded with obscene wealth and fame. I probably won’t single-handedly ban Lil’ Wayne from ever recording music again, but if I can at least make people think about what they’re doing, well, it's a step in the right direction, anyway.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


The following is a sample, and I'd call it a fairly representative one, of a single sentence from an article I have to read this week as homework for my film class.

"Endlessly interactive, his films can only be understood in terms of their adaptation of the generic conventions of the documentary to the tradition of black gay and lesbian self-representation of which they are a part."

Oh my god. It's like one of those Russian dolls, except with prepositions.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

CSI is wrong.

They just determined that their victim can't be older than 18 based on the fact that her wisdom teeth haven't started to come in yet, because, according to the show, "everybody has 'em" and they always start to come in at 18. I know multiple people whose wisdom teeth came in before 18. On the other hand, some people (like myself) do not have wisdom teeth; some people simply do not get them.

People are surprised when I tell them I don't like this show. Since I like SVU, they think I should like CSI. I don't understand this.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

rhyming and cannibalism in protest songs

So, I know it's cheating to rhyme a word with itself. That doesn't work. But what about rhyming a word with another word that is a derivative of the original word? The example I'm thinking of is in Barry McGuire's (well, P.F. Sloan's) "Eve of Destruction," in which there are a couple of lines in the third verse that go thus: "and marches alone can't bring integration, / when human respect is disintegratin'." Now, this example isn't an exact rhyme to begin with, the first word having the noun ending -tion and the second having the gerund ending -ing. It's just the way he sings it (leaving off the final 'g', for one thing) that makes it sound like a rhyme. But assuming one were to use this pair of words in a different context with the same ending—could one rhyme "integration" with "disintegration"? I feel like the answer would be no, but I honestly don't know.

On a completely different note, that bit near the end where he says, "Hate your next door neighbor / but don't forget to say grace,"—when I was little, I always heard "eat" instead of "hate." I didn't actually know it was "hate" until I looked up the lyrics online. Yeah, I was a weird kid. But I like my version better.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


How the hell do you say the word "oeuvre"? I've read it a hundred times, but I've never heard anyone actually say it. The audio help on doesn't really help much; I need to hear it in context.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Do I have to explain what's wrong with this?

Seriously. I mean, apart from the disgusting appropriation of what was once an arguably decent song (and the completely non-sequitur G'n'R insert—wtf mate?), this is a performance on the Today show. At like, ten in the morning. Look at all those kids in the audience—and then you've got Fergie, groping herself onstage, practically humping the guitarist's leg, and crawling around panting. I—it—just, why?

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I went on a bike ride yesterday. According to Google Maps, I went about nine miles. It was lovely. Next time, perhaps I shall go ten.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

omg hicks!

Srsly kids, is there any reason to maintain hope for humanity?

On a slightly brighter note, at least John McCain apparently has realized that global warming is bad and has a plan for fighting it, albeit a decidedly stupid one.

inadvertent eavesdropping

I often wonder if the people who seem to be arguing every other night on the sidewalk outside Exec Tompkins (is it just one couple, or are there many? I don't know.) realize that I can hear everything they're saying. I mean, it makes it pretty easy when they yell, but I can hear when they're just talking, too. My window's right there. And it's not like I'm being creepy and trying to listen—the light's on, so if they thought about it, they'd have to realize there's probably someone in here. And yet I can hear them, even over the noise of my fan and the trains and my roommate's gentle snores.

I really wish they'd shut up.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

minor successes

I have little of interest to report; however, I must gloat a bit, because I got back both my midterms yesterday, and I got an 'A' on one and 100% on the other—w00t w00t!

I am tentatively hopeful for the rest of the term.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

entirely inappropriate

...and yet so amusing.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I porn-surfed, weak and weary,
Over many a strange and spurious porn-site of "hot chicks galore",
While I clicked my fav'rite bookmark, suddenly there came a warning,
And my heart was filled with mourning, mourning for my dear amour,
"Tis not possible," I muttered, "give me back my free hardcore!"
Quoth the server, "404."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More on John Ashcroft

We're in the national news again!

As I mentioned before, John Ashcroft came and spoke at my school Tuesday night. (For the coverage in the school newspaper, click here—and check out the videos!) As might be expected with such a controversial conservative figure at a decidedly liberal institution, not everyone was happy about that, and there were a number of protests. In the Discourse section of today's issue of TKS, there were a number of responses to the protests, and while some were positive, others were decidedly less so, including one column entitled, "You embarrass me and yourself." Some of my fellow students have been called "rude," "immature," "disgraceful," and even "despicable," and I must say, I really don't think that's correct, necessary, or helpful. Now, I don't know that I have my thoughts very well organized at this point, but I'd like to put them out there, so I hope you'll bear with me.

Some people are upset because, they say, most of the Knox attendees had their minds made up about Ashcroft beforehand and went in closed-minded, with the intent only to ignore and mock him. To the second part of this, I can say that the people I went with, at least, had no such intentions; sure, we all went in not liking him, and came out not liking him, but we only wanted to see what he was going to say. And we got to do that. The protestors didn't stop that from happening. He wasn't there to change anyone's mind, and if you think otherwise, you really are deluding yourself.

Furthermore, I want to point out that if Knox had its mind made up about Ashcroft beforehand, he almost certainly had his mind made up about us. That "skepticism vs. cynicism" comment was certainly not off the cuff. Besides that, he knew the atmosphere of the campus coming in, and he was in full deflect mode; he didn't give a single straight answer during the entire Q&A, even to questions that weren't directly confrontational.

And speaking of questions, if you want to accuse students of not being prepared to listen, you must also realize that Ashcroft was not prepared to answer. He has proven himself many times over, in the media and elsewhere, to be completely unwilling to answer questions about the issues raised by the protestors and questioners. The point of these questions is not to get an actual answer, because we all know that won't happen. The point is to underscore the fact that there are differing opinions and to start a conversation about them, not in the context of the speaker—as I have said, that is not a practicable venue for such discussion—but later on, discussing things with friends in smaller groups afterward. Unless I read it wrong, this was, in fact, the goal in bringing Ashcroft to campus.

It has been pointed out that Ashcroft himself was not entirely blameless, as he ignored questions, turned them around, and even attacked some of the questioners; it has also been noted that his responses only became hostile because the questioning had grown hostile. I'd like to back it up a step further and point out that the questioning did not start out that way; it became hostile because Ashcroft was very blatantly not answering the questions posed. As I've said, this is to be expected from political speakers; however, his twisting of words, nitpicking at irrelevant details, and especially the wilful misunderstanding of questions seemed to me to be particularly blatant, even for a politician. I would expect an educated man addressing a college audience to have some modicum of respect for our intelligence; I didn't even ask a question, and I still felt insulted.

I'm not saying absolutely everything was perfect, or even acceptable—the gentleman who demanded to know how Ashcroft sleeps at night and whether or not he has a soul was out of line. I think we can all agree on that. But questions of that nature were not the majority. No other questioner made blatant personal insults as a part of a question; in fact, aside from a few poorly organized ramblers, I found the level of the questions to be quite acceptable, and often insightful and to-the-point.

In his piece, For Shame, TKS's perennial conservative columnist Chris Berger wrote, "I know students who want to transfer because of [the protests], and one professor contemplating not teaching next year if apologies are not issued." To people holding this opinion, I can only say, please go. People have the right to express their opinions; Mr. Ashcroft completed his speech without a substantial breakdown of order, people got to hear what he had to say, and hey, nobody got "tased." With the possible exception of Alex Enyart (the "do-you-have-a-soul" guy), no one but no one needs to apologize for stating their opinions. If this kind of dissent is enough to sour your opinion of the entire school, you're not the kind of people I think of when I think of Knox.

I highly encourage everyone to at least glance over all the articles in the Discourse section linked above, particularly the Thoughts from the Embers and Graham's column, "Regarding Politeness" (Graham was the student whose question about LGBT rights was quite blatantly dismissed).

And to Devin Day, Chris Berger, Melinda Jones, Lauren Peretz, and anyone else who's feeling embarrassed over this, you have every right to feel that way if you want to. But please speak for yourselves—I am most certainly not ashamed of my peers, and if you are, then I have to wonder, for whom?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I have seen the face of evil...

...and it is a wrinkly politician.

Y'know, I probably wouldn't have said it aloud like the guy did in the Q & A, but I do legitimately wonder how John Ashcroft sleeps at night.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Did you feel it?

There was an earthquake today. Seriously. And I didn't feel a thing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ballroom photography

The ballroom competition at Northwestern was this past weekend. It had its, shall we say quirks? but it was a good time nonetheless. Seriously, an entire day of ballroom—what's not to like?

My own dear camera is incapacitated for the time being, so I got to use my mumsy dearest's, which was not to my particular liking, but it sufficed. The biggest problem was that her memory card is a quarter the size of mine, a fact of which I was not aware beforehand. It was rather disconcerting when, about an hour into the morning's events, I suddenly ran out of room on the memory stick and had to start deleting pictures right and left. It made the final culling process shorter, I suppose, but it also meant that I missed some lovely photo opportunities because I was busy sorting through the last handful I'd taken, always hovering at less than a dozen photos short of capacity. Ah well. I got a Facebook album's worth of good ones, at least. You can see them here, if you're interested (it's a public link, so you don't have to have a Facebook to see them [Mom]).

And now I'm going to go do some homework. Really.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Thursday, April 3, 2008

minor cleaning

I did some cleaning up in my room this evening, and it's lookin' pretty spiffy if I do say so myself. And I do. And then while the mood still had me, I started cleaning up some stuff on my computer, reorganizing, sorting pictures, things of that nature. And I came across this gem that I'd taken and meant to post back in December.

It's a billboard for Huntington University. There are many reasons why I did not go to Huntington University. This was not one of them, but had it been up when I was college-hunting, it would have been.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

learning to read, revisited

So, my roommate just posed a seemingly simple question: what sound does the 'a' in "brandy" make? And out of the five college students in the room, none of us could come up with a definitive answer. The closest thing we could come up with was the short 'a' sound, as in "cat," but that still doesn't really sound right to me. And this makes me really wish I'd actually bothered to learn the IPA when Mrs. B. made me write out my songs for voice lessons in it; I feel like that would be helpful in this situation. Perhaps that will be my next course of weekend Google study. And in the long term, perhaps someday I will have the good fortune to take a linguistics class; that would be lovely.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

fun with silent film

So, I'm taking Black Images in American Film this term, and for our first movie, we watched Birth of a Nation. No surprise there. It was technically impressive and horribly racist and on and on, and plenty of people have commented extensively on it and so I don't feel the need to do so here, especially since I'll probably end up having to write about it later anyway. But I do have to say that the music was bizarre. Like, to the point of being highly distracting. It almost never seemed to sync up with the onscreen action, and often seemed in fact to contradict the mood of the scene.

Now, my understanding is that generally with silent films, they would have a pianist or organist or some sort of live music, so I wonder if that's part of the issue—the film didn't have a score of its own, so they just slapped on some music for the video release and went with it. This is the theory that makes the most sense to me, anyway. However it came about, the end result is that it makes the film difficult to watch (not that it wasn't already, given the content), often confusing, and sometimes inappropriately hilarious.

Suffice it to say, I'm really glad they came up with talkies.

Friday, March 28, 2008

a Friday funny

Rene Descartes is sitting at a bar. "Do you want another drink?" asks the barman. "I think not," replies Descartes, who promptly disappears.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


As of right now, right this minute, 1:48 AM, it is officially spring. At least, that's what they said on the 11:00 news.

Now, if only the weather would get its act together. :(

Monday, March 17, 2008

reason #563 why procrastination is bad

Good god, my life just flashed before my eyes. So, for Fiction Workshop, we had a take-home final, as I believe I've mentioned. Now, usually I like to turn these things in as soon as I finish them, but in this case, I finished it at about 3 AM on Thursday morning, and Old Main, sadly, is not open at that hour. So I saved it to my flash drive and wrote myself a note to turn it in when I got up later that morning.

Well, I forgot. All day I forgot. No big, I told myself, because it wasn't due until Saturday afternoon. I'd be going over to Seymour for meals on Friday, so I could print it off and turn it in then, no problem.

Except I forgot again. So Friday night, I wrote on my white board, "FICTION FINAL" in big blue letters to remind me to turn it in before I left in the morning.

And that's where it all gets hazy. I know I went over to breakfast Saturday morning, because that's where my Dad met me, in the caf. I know I didn't turn it in right after breakfast, because my dad had the car and so he drove me back to the house. What I can't remember is if I turned it in before Dad got there, i.e. before I went to breakfast, or possibly after we packed my stuff in the car, or not at all.

I hadn't thought about it at all since then, until just now when suddenly, drowsing on the couch while half-heartedly surfing the web, I was jerked from the brink of sleep by the thought, "Oh my god, I didn't turn in my final!" I racked my brains (and did so again just now trying to figure out whether that's "rack" or "wrack"— says it's "rack"—but I digress), but I couldn't for the life of me remember. And I couldn't email an extra copy to my professor just in case, because he doesn't use email! Honestly!

So in a panic, I called him up and told him what was going on and asked if he had a copy of it, and he said he wasn't at his desk just now but he told me to email it to to another professor, who could then pass it on to him.

*sigh* So I guess I've learned my lesson.

Gah, my hands are still shaking.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


So, there has been a lot of hoo-ha and to-do about my math class this term. It's supposed to be the "easy" math credit for kids who can't do math (i.e. me). Except that, well, it wasn't.

There were many factors leading to this conclusion, but a lot of it I'm sure has to do with the fact that our professor has never taught this class before. I'm guessing it's probably a lot different teaching math to kids who suck at math than it is teaching math majors, or at least people who are somewhat mathematically inclined.

Anyway, the culmination of this all has been a series of angry emails circulated among members of the class, a meeting between some students and the head of the math department, and a petition to have the last chapter removed from the final exam.

I've mostly stayed out of this, because honestly, I'm not sure where I stand on the issue. I mean yes, the class has been a lot harder than it should have been; I'm definitely in agreement with that. Hell, the homework made me cry at least three times, and anybody who knows me will tell you that's quite a feat. And there have been certainly significant problems with the professor's teaching and the way the class has progressed.

But I also realize that any professor teaching a class for the first time ever is going to have some problems. Case in point: my AP US History class at Canterbury—that was very nearly a disaster. But I know that in subsequent years, the class has improved greatly as the teacher has gotten more comfortable teaching it. I'm fairly certain that this is a similar situation, and while it sucks that we have to be the "guinea pigs" in this class, well, that happens. Somebody has to do it; that's the way things work.

And besides all that, I knew the professor a little bit even before I took the class, so I know he's a nice guy and he's really not out to get us.

Which is all leading up to this afternoon. The professor asked if I would come by sometime during his office hours to talk, he didn't say about what. So I go, thinking it's probably going to be something about my last midterm, which I summarily bombed. Well, I get there, and first thing, he apologizes for putting me in this awkward situation and says I don't have to answer if I don't want to, but (to severely paraphrase the question) could I possibly shed some light on what everybody's so pissed off about? And the whole time, I can just hear the real question in his voice, "I'm a nice guy, and I'm trying so hard—why do they hate me?"

Dear god, what am I supposed to do with that?!

So I mumbled some about what I could think of that people were complaining about, about how chapter 13 wasn't covered enough to be on the final, and how class was confusing for various reasons, and blah blah blah. And I kind of wanted to show him the emails, because there were some really valid complaints in there that I thought he should know about, but there were people's names on there, and then wouldn't I be some kind of narc or something? I mean, I know at least most of this will probably come out in the course evals, but I know that when I fill those out, at least, it tends to get mashed down into just one or two sentences, and I feel like people would all put down the same one or two points and not flesh out the problems in their entirety like they did in these emails.

So I debated back and forth for awhile, and finally I copied a couple of the more informative emails and forwarded them to him sans names, so hopefully that will give him a clearer idea of what's going on. I hope that was the right decision.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


So, we're in the midst of finals week already, and I've just finished half of my exam for Fiction Workshop. It's a two question take-home, and really not bad as exams go; I'll do the other half tomorrow and I should still have plenty of time to study for my other two exams. But anyway, the question I've just finished was about the role of transgressive behavior in two of the books we've read for class, and that got me wondering about some things.

The first part I wrote was about Trash, a collection of short stories by Dorothy Allison, which is, in short, probably not a book you'd want to discuss with your grandmother. (At least, not mine.) I made the point in my response that the transgressive elements in the book are not gratuitous displays of "vulgarity for vulgarity's sake" because they help to emphasize the underlying themes of love and betrayal and all that jazz, but I'm not sure if I entirely agree with that. I mean, to some extent, I do, and don't get me wrong, I really loved the book. But I definitely felt like at least a few times when I was reading the book,there were places where it seemed like yes, some parts were just a bit over the top, unnecessary to any thematic development, put in simply because the author was on a roll with the swearing and explicit scenes and couldn't quite figure out where to stop. I didn't discuss these in my paper, because a) I couldn't find any examples offhand, b) it's already the required length, and c) I'm tired.

But anyway, this brought me back to wondering about the second story I turned in today as part of my final portfolio for that class. It's certainly the most R-rated thing I've ever written, complete with my first use of the f-bomb in something I'm turning in for class, and its very own sex scene (le gasp!). I was back and forth on whether or not to put that particular scene in for a long time; it was part of the story in my head, but I feel like I could argue equally as well for its exclusion as for its inclusion on a thematic basis. I argued it over in my head so much that any instincts I may have initially had on the matter were long since trampled under reasoning and justifications in both directions. And I never got up the guts to turn in any draft with that scene in it for critique in class, so I didn't have anybody else's input on whether it should stay or go either. I ended up leaving it in, because as I said, it was part of the story in my head, and I had taken some time in writing it too, so I felt like there must have been something there, at least to begin with. But now I'm wondering where exactly is the line between honest storytelling and gratuitous "honesty" in this area? And how does one know the difference? I'm afraid my critical eye is still a little foggy with self-censorship. But I'm definitely better about that than I was at the beginning of term, so that's something, anyway.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Sometimes, I hear people talking, and it sounds to me like they are being absurdly melodramatic, and I wonder if this is life imitating bad art, or if people were really like this before pop culture created these images we have of relationships and life.

Also, sometimes I post blogs about total strangers sitting across the room from me, because I am a creepy person.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Words I never thought I'd see in a math book:

"The advantage of Barrow’s method is that the algebra tends to be much easier, but the disadvantage is that why Barrow’s method works is not clear."

This is the way math is for me basically all the time. I don't know why shit works; the teacher tells me it does, so I do it. It's nice once in awhile to find out that smart math people don't have all the answers either.

Monday, March 3, 2008


I would like to post an addendum to my previous post regarding parties: I have now discovered the kind of party I like. It happened Saturday night at the Quickie house, and was highly enjoyable, involving a bunch of people I sort of knew and a number of people I did know, and a lot of sitting around listening to music and chatting and some wonderfully awkward dancing. There should be more of these.

In other news, it was like, seventy degrees today. I wore a skirt and sat out on the porch barefoot all afternoon, soaking up the sun and breeze while doing my homework. It was glorious.

So all in all, it's been a lovely weekend.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


So, I went to a party at Snu this evening with Sara and some other people. Fun people. I like them. And I've come to realize that frat parties, no matter when or where, will always take me back in some way to fall term of last year. I went to three parties that term: Beta, TKE, and Snu. (For comparison, I've been to that many since, all of them at Snu as well—once was enough at the other two.) And for a minute this evening, over by the wall, doing something that slightly resembled dancing, instead of Dee, it was Sarah, my first roommate, leaning over to yell in my ear, "Are you having fun?"

I don't want to be the antisocial weirdo who knows nobody and never goes anywhere. I don't want to be the "project" friend that people try to coax into being social. I really don't. And I don't think I am, not really. But I don't like frat parties.

I don't dislike them. They often have their fun moments. But it's only just something to do. It's like playing Text Twist: something to do to pass the time between doing things I really like. It can be fun sometimes, but it's not like I get out of class and think, "Oh boy, I can't wait to go home and play Text Twist this evening!" And unlike Text Twist, after an hour at a frat party, I'm ready to go home. I'm overwhelmed. The crush of people, the pounding music, the shouting to be heard, the flashing lights—for me, these are generally things to be tolerated, not sought out.

And so I end up walking home alone most times, while everybody else stays at the party. But that's okay. It gives me time to settle down. I need that sometimes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I took a math test today. Well, yesterday now, I suppose. I don't want to make any overconfident assumptions, but, well, I'm pretty sure I kicked its ass. It's amazing what an hour's cramming can do. I'm actually eager to get the thing back—I haven't felt so accomplished in a long time.

That said, I only slept three hours last night, and now it's 5 AM and I'm still awake again. I don't have any Thursday classes, but I do need to get some things done, and I will have to be awake for Friday, which means I have to sleep Thursday night. This could be a problem.

Ah well. After Friday, it's the weekend again. I can make it 'til then.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I really ought to be in bed. It doesn't count as research for a story anymore when you've got three times more information than you could possibly use. But Wikipedia is a fascinating place. And gardening is a fascinating topic. And I'm amazed at how one name can refer to so many different types of flowers.

Also, I'd forgotten about snapdragons. Those were my favorite flowers when I was little. And impatiens. And dusty millers.

I want a flower garden.

Monday, February 11, 2008


It has been a week of crises. Well, a two-and-a-half-weeks of crises, really. Some more major than others. But I can deal with that. I think.

At any rate, what's bugging me right at this moment is a medium-sized and decidedly painful bruise on the underside of my left forearm. It appeared there two days ago, and I don't know what on earth could have caused it. I generally don't bruise for anything, and now I've had two unexplained bruises, both on my left arm, in as many weeks. Nothing large or particularly alarming—just inexplicable.

I wonder if my arm will fall off next. That would be unfortunate.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I would just like to know...

...why I can only seem to write between the hours of 1 and 4 AM. Srsly kids. This is not conducive to maintaining a healthy sleep schedule. Goddamn fiction.

Oh well. While I'm up, I guess I'll share. Better than caffeine, this.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

an experiment

I feel like there's a difference between gossiping and just talking about someone behind their back. I'm not sure what it is. I think maybe it's intent. Gossip is malicious. It may or may not be true. The intent is to start rumors, to make other people think worse of the subject of the gossip. Talking about someone behind their back can mean anything. Well, not anything. It's talking about a person who is not present. This can be a good thing (e.g. planning a surprise birthday party), but you and I both know that's not what I'm talking about here.

I feel like sometimes it's necessary to talk about somebody behind their back. Sometimes you have strong feelings about a person, and you can't come straight out and tell that person, because you have to work things out first, so you don't say something you don't mean; it is often beneficial and sometimes necessary to bounce ideas off another person before you do that. Of course, that's not what I'm talking about here. Okay Andrea, quit beating around the bush.

I'm talking about venting. Ranting. You know. Oh-my-god-I'm-so-sick-of-so-and-so, that kind of stuff. This is not bouncing ideas, nor is it quite gossip. At least, not in this case: it's all true, and the intent is not for it to go any farther than that set group of people (two or three, myself not included) to whom I'm venting, and I know it won't. So is it wrong?

Sometimes people--okay, let's be honest, I'm talking about one person here--make me very upset, and in this case, it is a person I cannot always reasonably avoid. There is a small group of people who share this predicament. We are stuck in this predicament, probably for the rest of the year at least. Confronting this person about anything, even in the most gentle and constructive manner possible, is at best ineffective, and at worst, it starts a long, smoldering argument. Experience has confirmed this fact repeatedly. So what do we do? Do we sit in silence, waiting, hoping for the issue to go away, remaining stoically unmoved through every outrageous word and action springing forth from this person? I posit that this is an impossibility. It cannot be done, at least not by me, and that's saying something, because I feel that I am generally a very imperturbable person. So we vent. It harms no one, and it keeps us from going insane or finally breaking down and engaging in a screaming match in some public space. I feel that this is perfectly acceptable.

Still, I wonder.

Perhaps I shall make an experiment. I will not talk about anyone not present in a negative manner for one week, starting now. 3:30 AM Sunday morning, Feb. 3, until the same time Feb. 10. We shall see how this goes.