:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

donderdag 30 september 2004

Two Very Wonderful Things About Today:

1. I think I found a Christmas airfare (Orlando to Amsterdam) for only $572, using Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, both of which are high-class airlines with seatback TVs and such. (The best I'd found so far by using them was $750.) Just waiting on (a) the e-mail confirmation from Virgin Atlantic that that flight really is run by them and not Continental, and (b) the verdict from Ata about what time our astronomy exam is given on the Friday on which I want to leave. Keep your fingers crossed.

2. John Kerry just totally stomped all over Bush on the debate. Bush kept dodging questions, pausing, stumbling, and repeating the same few tag lines over and over like a broken record, and Kerry put him on the defensive instead of the other way around. I don't care what the Republican analysts say - Kerry made it clear that 9/11 and the Iraq war are not connected, something the general public (*cough*Bushsupporters*cough*) doesn't seem to understand. And, even better, he responded to Bush's taunts about 'wavering' by saying that it was possible to use new developments to refine and shape your position, and that it was also possible to be certain and steadfast about something and to be very, very wrong.

You go, Kerry!

dinsdag 28 september 2004

I've discovered something else to love about Gmail. Any Hotmail (or Blogger) user out there want to take a stab at how many times they've typed a lengthy e-mail (or blog), only to have the system 'fart' and lose the whole damn thing in the process of sending (or posting)? Well, Gmail is smart - if there's a system fart, it displays a popup box saying, "Oops, the system could not complete the operation. Please try again in a few seconds." Right on top of the screen with your mail! Click OK, try once again to send, and it's done... all without you losing your labor of love!

(...My solution to the Hotmail problem, by the way, was to highlight and copy before I ever clicked Send. Then, if it did fart, I could just paste the e-mail back in. Another idea is to write the mail in Microsoft Word first. Or to use Outlook. See? Look at all these ideas! Am I good or what?)

Hello from the George C. Smathers Library. Because... we have no power. Yes, that's right, on day four. I called up GRU this morning and asked them where their guys would be working, and they told me, "Be prepared for a MINIMUM of seven days without power." Apparently Ivan has decimated Louisiana and Jeanne has moved on to the Carolinas, so all the truck crews who came over to help us with Frances and Ivan couldn't come this time. So we're bringing people in from California and Canada, yes Canada, but as you can imagine, that's a slow process. Bottom line: I'm reduced to using the campus computers for a while. Oh well, at least they're fast.

Although my computer is the number-one thing I miss, there are a lot of other inconveniences. It's not so bad during the day, but at night it's pitch black in that apartment because there are so few windows compared to in a house. We've been lighting candles and setting them (carefully) all over the place (like inside glasses and things) since that's pretty much the only way we can see. We're using Charlotte's bicycle lights for in the bathroom. Speaking of the bathroom, the fan doesn't run now either, so when you take a shower and dry off, you don't really get dried off - the moisture just settles right back down on your skin as if you hadn't done anything. Trying to wrestle a bra over my head was murder.

Not to mention all the food which is rotting in the refrigerator. I poured an entire gallon of milk into the sink today - nothing else to do with it. The apartment stinks, and I hope that by getting some of that food out of there, I'll have helped it. But this means that we can't really do any grocery shopping until the power comes back on - at least not for anything which involves cold or hot food - so we're reduced to SlimFast bars, NutriGrain bars, and eating out. Not a good situation for someone who STILL does not have her financial aid (although I actually was told today that it will probably be within the next two weeks).

Speaking of 'stinks' - my car decided that this would be a good time to start leaking. Actually, it had probably been doing that for a while, I realize now - but not to this degree. The floor on the passenger side of the car is SOAKED. No standing water, fortunately, but only just. Apparently there's a sunroof vent which runs all the way down the 'strut' on the front passenger side of the windshield, and that is apparently leaking. Charlotte got in the car yesterday and immediately said, "Whoa!" because her feet and purse were wet. So I went to the VW dealer here in Gainesville today, and what do you think I found? Three employees sitting around... in the dark. That's right: they had no power.

The mechanic was able to tell me what the problem probably was (which is how I knew the above), but they couldn't help me with no power. Since they're going to have to reschedule all those customers who got short-changed today and yesterday and over the weekend, I'm sure I won't a be a priority... which means it would probably be in my best interest to go to Jacksonville, where they've gotten the cleanup underway much faster and more efficiently than here, and get it serviced there. So tomorrow afternoon I'll make my way up there in my smelly car, leave it with my parents, and have them drive me back to G'ville early Thursday morning. I can deal without a car for a few days if I have to - I ride my bike to class and can take the bus to work.

Speaking of work, that's where I have to go now, and I'm still on campus, so I'd better get a move on. Maybe I'll walk into my apartment and find the lights blazing and the TV going full force... maybe...

Hey, a girl can dream.

zondag 26 september 2004

"Why, of course the people don't want war... but, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

-- Hermann Goering, Nazi Riechsmarshal at the Nuremberg Trials

zaterdag 25 september 2004

First: big thank-you to Stacker for once again fixing my computer from a distance of 4000 miles. VNC screen viewer is a wonderful thing - I simply sat and watched the mouse fly around the screen as he worked his magic, and when it was all done and I had defragmented, everything ran so much faster... ahhh...

I am most definitely in a do-nothing mood. There are a lot of little things fluttering around in my head, such as:

- how I should just do my TESL homework now and get it out of the way, yet can't find the motivation

- that I REALLY want the new Marco Borsato DVD, and, related, how I wish the mailing list would go to my Gmail account like it's supposed to, instead of defaulting back to Hotmail

- that I really didn't do as good a job as I could have done on those Smalley exercises and that I should take the effort to write the IPA symbols... and how I really don't care enough to actually do that, considering the exercises are nearly impossible and extremely discouraging

- how I have eaten WAY too much today for someone who only left the apartment to go to Publix (read: no sports involved in any way, shape, or form, unless flexing my driving foot and wallet count)

- that I wish my professor would post our exam grades, because I think I did well and want to know for sure - and, related, that I wish my Boswell grades would finally come through, because then my transcript will be complete. (Note: my GPA is now over 3.5, YAY!)

- that work better not be closed on Tuesday, as I want my check! That plus my National Merit check will let me pay the rent on Thursday.

- how I wish there were fewer than 83 days until Christmas break

- that I wish my swimming instructor would just answer my e-mail about the exam, already, and stop ignoring me... and, related, that I hope the hurricane doesn't affect the pool so badly that we can't swim on Monday, because I really want to.

- ...and, related, how I hope school isn't canceled on Monday

- that I wish Virgin Atlantic would answer my e-mail about specials... and how I wish even more that they'd just start running an Orlando special

- how I might want to write a thesis after all but have no earthly idea what I would write it on... second language acquisition? Bilingualism in children? Some sort of English-Dutch comparison? (Help me out here, Internet.)

- that I want to buy that North Face coat and a couple of UF T-shirts, and, related, how I want my financial aid like, NOW, so I won't feel so guilty about buying said items... and, related, that I'd also really like an iPod and a lightweight, fast laptop like Dad's Sony, and that I know those are pretty much just dreams, at least for now

- that I really need to back up my files again, on my mini-hard drive, and that I once again really don't have the inclination to do so, at least not right now.

I am now going to sign off and proceed with my doing nothing... to the strains of Norah Jones, Marco Borsato, and Billy Joel.

My last fascinating comment of tonight: the sixth Harry Potter book now has an official name: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Or am I just the last person on earth to find that out?

donderdag 23 september 2004

My National Merit check came yesterday - yay, now I can pay my rent! (The other $2000 can come any time now, university officials... and so can my $77 textbook refund... it's only almost OCTOBER... any time now...)

I had my first linguistics exam this morning and it went, dare I say it, amazingly well. I knew how to do everything on it. I'm sure there'll be a few minor points off here and there - that professor is a perfectionist - but I'm expecting an A. Knock on wood.

I had to go to that stupid CPR class at work last night - there were only four of us there, though, and so it went relatively quickly. And the good part of it was that I got to meet some of the workers who are actually my age - N, M, and B. N works in the office and I always thought she was kind of mean, but now that I've gotten to know her, she's really all right. And I almost never see the other two because we all work in different classrooms, but B is short and red-haired and works with the two-year-olds while M is tall, thin, and blond - I never did hear which room she worked in. Anyway, it was nice getting to know them, and we'd all had the class a thousand times before so it went really fast.

And I discovered that everyone who works there hates our director, S, with a passion, which is reassuring, because I already had a bad vibe from her in the first thirty seconds. I was hired via e-mail by the owner - whom I still have not met - and I liked her a lot, but the director is something else again. C, who works in the infant room with me, had her house broken into (by her ex, as it turned out) and as she was flying out the door that afternoon, told S that she might be late coming in the next day because she couldn't leave her house if the lock wasn't repaired. S didn't bat an eye, just said, "Well, I'm sorry, but I don't have anybody to take your place - you have to come in!" C stared at her and just said, "That is my home, S!" And a similar thing happened when some of the workers were signing a 21st-birthday card for someone. S signed it, saying 'be good' among other things; then other people took their turns. Another co-worker said something like, "Forget S, just go party hard!" S ended up reading the card again - no one quite knows why; some of the more paranoid people insist she's spying on us - and she wrote, on the girl's birthday card, next to the 'offending' message from her friend: "Forget your job!" Now that I think about it, she probably meant "forget your JOB and go party" as opposed to forgetting HER, but the others didn't take it that way and they couldn't believe she'd written something like that on a birthday card. Neither could I, actually; anyone else would have known it was a joke.

As long as I'm griping, there's a double birthday party tonight in the courtyard for M, the new Dutch teacher, and S, my roommate P's best friend. And in my freezer are jammed six - count 'em, SIX - enormous bottles of vodka. Not counting the half-empty one on top of the fridge. I can't imagine the party possibly getting that big...

Anyway, I've got to go write something for TESL homework, so I'll be on my merry way now...

woensdag 22 september 2004

I just sent this as a mass e-mail to every American in my contact list (except for the university officials...:)) I'm posting it here too in the hopes that some random floaters may see it and gain some insight from it.


Hi everyone,

I know we've all had pretty much enough of the election babble, but I really feel the need to get up on my soapbox one last time. I'm sorry if this offends any of you for any reason, but my need to get our resident idiot out of office is way stronger than my desire to avoid offending my friends - thus the reason for sending it to EVERYONE. Please pass it on.

I found a flier in the bathroom on campus today - probably strategically placed by a member of a campus political group - and I thought it was so good that I decided to type it in here. On top of that, Mom just sent me this link this afternoon. Even if you don't feel like reading the flier I've typed - because I know it's kind of long - PLEASE click that link and read that. And if you can read that story and still tell me that with that, on top of all the other reasons, you still support four more years of our country under this ignorant man who wants to take away our most basic rights as women - as HUMANS - then I honestly don't know if I'll ever be able to look you in the face again. At the moment, I don't care how fanatical that may sound. The ignorance is simply blinding me.

Anyway, I know none of us really wants to have 15 or 20 kids, so please read this:

The anti-birth control line of the Bush administration does NOT stand for women!

There is a movement steadily gathering steam in this country against birth control.

Of the some 39 million women who are sexually active (with men), 95% use a form of contraception. Obviously, this anti-birth control movement doesn't represent the majority of women in this country.

So why is it gaining ground so fast?

Unfortunately, the movement DOES have the support of the anti-birth control extremists in the White House.

Bush's Record on Birth Control

- In George W. Bush's first budget to Congress (April 9, 2001), he sacked the provision that required insurance companies to cover contraceptives for 9 million federal employees (something House democrats later reinstated).

- Also on April 9, 2001, Bush blocked U.S. grants to family-planning groups that provide contraceptive and abortion services/counseling overseas.

- Bush is an ardent supporter of abstinence-only education programs, which prohibit discussion of contraception. Studies have shown that abstinence-only programs do NOT keep teens from having sex, and certainly do not teach them how to protect themselves from pregnancy and STD/STIs.

- On March 1, 2002, Bush appointed Tom Coburn and Joe McIlhaney to lead the advisory council on HIV/AIDS. Both Coburn and McIlhaney have spoken out against condom use and have worked to push abstinence as the ONLY means to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

- Bush nominated Justice Janice Rogers Brown for U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Brown upheld the right of Catholic hospitals to refuse to include birth control in employees' health coverage.

- Dr. David Hager - whom Bush appointed to the FDA's Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs - refuses to prescribe contraception to unmarried women in his practice. Bush also appointed Dr. Joseph Stanford to same committee. In his family practice, Dr. Stanford refuses to prescribe contraception AT ALL.

- In December 2002, Assistant Secretary of State Arthur Dewey - a right-wing Bush appointee - promised that the U.S. would block any U.N. policies that contain the words 'reproductive health' or 'consistent condom use'. The United States was voted down at the U.N. Population Conference. Delegates from all over the world said America's position at this conference put women's health at risk.

- Bush also appointed acting FDA commissioner Lester Crawford and Acting Drug Chief Stephen Galson, who decided NOT to approve the Morning-After Pill for over the counter sales.

Is the Morning-After Pill really contraception?

Yes! The Morning-After Pill (MAP) is made from the exact same stuff that's in birth control pills (it's just a higher dose) and it works in the exact same way to prevent pregnancy up to five days after sex (but the longer you wait to take it, the less effective it is).
When FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford and Acting Drug Chief Stephen Galson voted against MAP over the counter, they went against the FDA's own expert medical advisory committees, the American Medical Association, the New England Journal of medicine, and the women who need it. But they didn't go against the White House.
The decision to block women's access to the MAP plainly displays this administration's contempt for contraception. American women would be able to buy it without a prescription today (just like women in 38 other countries) if it weren't for the rabid, anti-birth control extremists in the White House.

The Movement Against Contraception

All over the country, stories are cropping up about women whose doctors and pharmacists are now refusing to prescribe or fill their prescriptions for birth control.
The Pharmacists for Life is one of several organizations that encourages pharmacists to deny women access to birth control pills. In Mississippi and Michigan, the anti-birth control movement recently succeeded in passing a 'refusal clause', which allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control on religious or 'ethical' grounds. As of August 2004, 12 bills are pending in 7 states to allow healthcare providers to refuse to give women contraceptive services.
Most anti-abortion groups will conveniently plead the fifth on the issue of contraception, but there are some that are honest about NOT wanting women to have it or use it. The American Life League is one such organization. The League says that contraception promotes the 'immoral' attitudes that make people want to have sex but not to have children. On its website, the American Life League says, "The practice of contraception is intrinsically evil," and concedes that although it may not be possible to outlaw birth control right now, it is certainly working toward that end.
While Bush tries to be covert about his opposition to contraception - choosing instead to use his executive appointments to limit women's contraceptive access - it is no secret that W. is against abortion. He has done more to undermine women's abortion rights than any other president in history. Abortion is just the most obvious example of the Bush administration's four-year campaign to criminalize birth control.

The bottom line is that the Bush administration wants to punish women for having sex and keep us from having control over our lives.

Why would they bother doing this?

Because when women can't control how many children they have, they don't have as much money, power, time, or freedom as men.

This often forces us into lower-paying jobs, or else keeps us in the home where we work for free. Basically, it forces us to struggle more to get by, and the more tired we are from struggling, the less inclined we will be to fight for the things that will make our lives better.

This is why Bush and his lackeys are against contraception and abortion - this is why Bush poses a serious threat to our equality as women.

* Help Stop the Attacks on Our Birth Control Rights! *

Single women are the largest demographic of progressive people that don't vote (22 million in the last election).
Over the past four years, we've seen that progress for women is not possible under Bush - he and his cronies have done everything in their power to take away women's options (not just by attacking birth control and abortion, but also by launching attacks on childcare and healthcare programs) and they have no intentions of stopping here.

Does this make you angry? Help do something about it! REGISTER before Oct. 4th and ***VOTE*** on Election Day (Nov. 2)!!!!!!!!!!


Me again. This sort of thing drives me nuts. So we're just supposed to bear as many children as fate gives us? Even if, for example, we're married and know we don't want more than two or three kids? And if we happen to be extra fertile and end up pregnant every other year until we're 45, we just have to sigh and do it?
Also, is anyone else paying attention to how this puts all the power in the guys' hands, by taking all women's options away? GUYS: PAY ATTENTION! THIS INVOLVES YOU TOO! YOU will be responsible for all contraception if this continues... assuming they don't ban condoms, too... and if you don't do it, YOU will be responsible for supporting your twelve children. So think about that, the next time you think that contraceptive issues don't involve you just because you don't have a uterus.

My point is, even though there are a lot of Kerry election buttons pinned to backpacks across campus - and although I believe in my gut that the prevalent opinion is for Kerry - there are more than a few Bush buttons too. And every time I see one, I get incredibly angry. So okay, maybe you don't really like Kerry. Or maybe you don't really care one way or the other. But you cannot possibly agree that Bush is a BETTER option! Even if it's just the lesser of two evils for you, choose the right person!

So for crying out loud, take control of your body, take control of your life, register, and VOTE - for the person who will let US decide what we do with our reproductive systems!!!!! Prove to the rest of the world and to ourselves that we are still a democracy, not a dictatorship, and that one man should not have the power to push his PERSONAL beliefs into the lives of 280 million people.

OK, I'm finished now.

maandag 20 september 2004

Everybody please click on the Comments link right now and send me an e-mail if it tells you to log in? Because if it does, I will first have a meltdown and then kick some serious Blogger butt.

Love it. Love it!

Intelligence Question

George W. Bush meets with the Queen of England. He asks her, "Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you can give to me?"

"Well," says the Queen, "the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people." Bush frowns. "But how do I know the people around me are really intelligent?"

The Queen takes a sip of tea. "Oh, that's easy. You just ask them to answer an intelligence riddle." The Queen pushes a button on her Intercom. "Please send Tony Blair in here, would you?"

Tony Blair walks into the room. "Yes, my Queen?" The Queen smiles. "Answer this for me, please, Tony. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?"

Without pausing for a moment, Tony Blair answers, "That would be me." "Yes! Very good," says the Queen.

Back at the White House, Bush asks to speak with vice president Dick Cheney. "Dick, answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child. It's not your brother and it's not your sister. Who is it?"

"I'm not sure," says the vice president. "Let me get back to you on that one."

Dick Cheney goes to his advisors and asks every one, but none can give him an answer. Finally, he ends up in the men's room and recognizes Colin Powell's shoes in the next stall.

Dick shouts, "Colin! Can you answer this for me? Your mother and father have a child and it's not your brother or your sister. Who is it?"

Colin Powell yells back, "That's easy. It's me!" Dick Cheney smiles. "Thanks!" Cheney goes back to the Oval Office and to speak with Bush. "Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It's Colin Powell."

Bush gets up, stomps over to Dick Cheney, and angrily yells into his face, "No, you idiot! It's Tony Blair!"

This has not been my day. I guess I was due for a bad day, but man...

I guess I should have realized it when I put on the brand-new sporty black tank top that Mom bought me when I was in Jacksonville, walked out the door, and got hit by a wave of cold. Seriously, it was like fall came overnight. Overcast, uncomfortably cool, breezy. Not great swimming weather.

As it happened, swimming was my first class. Normally, I love it. And since the air was so cool, the water actually felt warm. But today it just didn't feel good. Everything was off, and she had us doing so many drills like catch-ups and fists and finger drags that I started having trouble swimming normally. I kept it up for the whole 1200 meters in the hope that it would get better, but it didn't really. My body just felt weaker than normal, and I felt like I was running out of air faster.

So then I went to Criser and received the one bright spot of news in my day - that my National Merit check went out on the 17th, and that some of my grades were finally posted. Finally, progress!

Then to LIN 3201, where I dutifully took notes and tried to pay attention... until the end, when I heard a classmate informing someone else, "Yeah, we have Smalley and homework due today!" The girl next to me and I both whipped around and in perfect chorus said, "Wait - what?" Unfortunately, we hadn't misheard - there really was an assignment due. Excuse me, but would it have killed the teacher to at least mention that during the last class? For the first homework, she passed out the sheets and told us the due date, then moved on to her lesson. Since that's what 99% of the teachers here do, I had expected that that would become her pattern as well. Well, no - apparently we're supposed to print the assignments offline and fill them in, relying on the syllabus for the due dates. So, yes, okay, this is also a viable method, and no, I don't expect to have my hand held in college, but could I be informed if the first-time pattern isn't going to always be the pattern? I can deal with pretty much anything as long as it's consistent. Anyway, so those of us who didn't know about the assignment got permission to e-mail it to the professor before midnight tonight for full credit, so I've got to go do that when I'm done with this gripe session.

On to TESL, which wasn't too bad until she informed us that our first conversation partner journals are due Friday. (Well, thank you at least for telling me, Patty, that gets you bonus points.) Which means I have to squeeze an hour-long English conversation with Martin into my already-too-full week and write a detailed journal about it. Then we spent the rest of class analyzing textbooks she had brought from the English Language Institute on campus, answering questions about what we thought about the methods and such. It wasn't too bad until my partner and I had to turn ours in at the end of class. Patty flipped the pages over, frowned, and said, "You guys have to do the back, too." Duuuhhh... So even more homework.

Then anthropology, which actually managed to be halfway decent except for the reminders that we have an exam coming up...

Then a classroom observation of an ESL classroom, something I have to do three times as a TESL assignment. It went fine, except that the teacher asked me to say something intelligent about human cloning right at the moment that I was spacing out and trying to dig an eyelash out of my eye.

Then, finally, home... and just to add insult to injury, my check, which was sent three days ago, is not here. So there was no bright spot, after all.


zaterdag 18 september 2004

Blah. Why is my National Merit money not in yet, why are my eyelids drooping when it's only ten o'clock, and why do flights always cost so much more at Christmas?

The first time I took an international plane trip, in November 2002, when I was 18 and going to visit Linde in the Netherlands and Tara and Steph in Ireland, I somehow wound up on a Virgin Atlantic flight on the way back, the long jump from London Heathrow to Orlando. I have never had a better experience on a plane. A bright, colorful interior, bags of goodies on your seats, seatback TV screens with movies you actually want to watch, good food... just generally really, really good. I actually didn't want to get off the plane! I've always hoped that I'd wind up on another one of their flights, but it never happened, because I always use Expedia or Cheaptickets and go for the cheapest options available. And since I have a Frequent Flyer account with Delta, I usually go for them. Savings over comfort.

But tonight, just out of curiosity, I started to sniff around for the best deals for my flight at Christmas, and you know, I'm tired of sitting for nine hours in a boring blue seat with nothing to look at or amuse myself with. This December will mark my ninth and tenth hops across the pond in the space of two years, and I'm starting to think the extra hundred bucks might be worth it, for the sake of my sanity. The problem is, they don't fly to Amsterdam - London is the closest - so I'd have to book another flight on the side for that short jump. (But EasyJet is ridiculously cheap...) The problem is, the total for this little jaunt would be about $750 - about $200 more than I could probably get it for if I took the cheap route again. So my question is - is it worth it? Are the colors and TVs and goody bags worth $200 to me?

I think I'll ignore that question and just hope the airline starts running a special. :) (They do London specials pretty often, actually, so I might get lucky.)

As for today, I didn't do all that much, but I did ride my bike to the Oaks Mall. Round-trip, that is (to the best of my reckoning) ten miles or so, maybe a bit further, and with lots of hills. So it was a nice workout. Even if my legs feel curiously weak now. (That's my body's new thing - I'm apparently too well-conditioned to feel muscular pain anymore, so I just get 'limp' when I've been using a particular muscle group for a long time or very intensely.)

Anyway, I didn't buy anything major, just a candle from Bath and Body Works. It's one of those 'travel candles', which means it comes in a little metal container with a lid, which is nice. I had one already, Orange Ginger, and I liked it so much that I went back to see if they had any other nice ones. This one is pumpkin-scented, which doesn't sound like it would be all that appealing, but it smells amazing - it's a spicy autumn-smell. But it's a seasonal line, so I may have to get a couple more to tide me over through the non-fall parts of the year, haha.

Anyway, Renate and I were just watching The Girl Next Door, but then her friend Danny came over and so we paused it. He's been here for an hour and I've been sitting up here on the computer, browsing flights for lack of motivation to start my homework. (Well, actually, to continue my homework... it's already well started.) I hope he leaves soon; it was a cute movie so far.

Oh, and for those who don't know, we got a new roommate - Pia from Finland. (Or is it Piia?) She switched with Sofia (our fourth roommate who basically just used her room as storage space) and moved in here because her roommates were being too loud and she couldn't get any sleep. Anyway, she's very sweet; it's nice having someone here who's actually here some of the time. Renate is always gone. Charlotte is here pretty often, but she's leaving in a month.

Anyway... I think I'll go downstairs, eat my last Popsicle, and wait for Danny to leave... haha...

Jaguars play Denver tomorrow - keep your fingers crossed!

maandag 13 september 2004

Normal day... got up at seven to be at the pool at 8.30, swam - worked on push-offs and freestyle arms - then used the free time before my next class to browse around the Reitz store with all the Gator gear. Didn't buy anything, but saw a couple of shirts I'd like when my money gets here. Then had LIN 3201 (homework was postponed until Wednesday!), then TESL, then anthropology, then came back home. Chatted with Martin via webcam and Skype (new software which works just like a telephone, only free), then went to Old Navy and Publix. Found a sale on the Old Navy long-sleeved stretch shirts I love so much - $11 a pop - and so bought three. Figured that would be a good way to wind up Mom's and my shopping spree this weekend, consisting of three bras, a jacket, seven shirts, and three pairs of pants. (Hey Mom, know which shirt we forgot which will go well with those American Eagle pants? The magenta stretch one!)

Then went to Publix, which finally had milk again, and, along with the usual salad and meringue cookies and SmartOnes dinners, bought a box of strawberries. That's one fruit which I can choke down as long as there's sugar or whipped cream or something alongside it, so I had that for dessert tonight. And then I came upstairs and sat down in front of the computer, and that's my day in a nutshell.

Oh. Or not. Did I mention that I rode my BIKE to Publix - a round-trip distance of about six miles - after having swum 500 yards this morning and 1000 last night with Natasa? Well, I did. That wasn't really the problem, but when you combine BIKING UPHILL with POURING RAIN with TOO MANY BAGS TO FIT IN JESS'S BACKPACK, then I start to get a little cranky. And then when a car comes by and splashes a wave of water all over me, then I really get angry. I hope they didn't hear what I shouted at them. (But I was rather proud of my spur-of-the-moment system of using my bike lock to lock my extra bags to the handle of my backpack. It was impossible to bike with them on the handlebars. Only, a gallon of milk was in that backpack, too. So my shoulders were dying. I need a massage.)

Oh well... at least I got to use my raincoat. :)

To all the Creationists who challenge, "If we supposedly evolved from apes, why are there still apes today? Huh? Huh?"

You think you've got the ultimate trump card there, don't you? So you smile and fold your arms smugly across your chest, waiting for the evolutionist to stammer out an answer you won't believe or, better yet, to totally ignore the question and think up another retort. Then you can think to yourself, "He doesn't know. See, he's avoiding the question because he knows I'm right." And then you can go home and have a good night's sleep, right after kneeling beside your bed and praying for the poor misguided souls who still believe in the evolution theory that, ha ha, is supported by silly old scientific proof. Tsk tsk. That is so last century; don't they realize that faith is everything? It provides an excuse for absolutely everything you don't know. So you never have to look ignorant, because you can just play the God card. A simple, effective solution. Isn't that cool?

Except for one thing. Your trump card is not a trump card.

Get this: the argument is NOT that 'we evolved from apes'. Even though most of the population will use those words, they're incorrect. We are related, yes. But the ape is not a more primitive form of man.

The real truth is, apes and humans share a common ancestor. That is NOT the same thing as 'evolving from apes'. About five million years ago, there was a split from one common ancestor resulting in two branches; a very early form of today's apes and a very early form of today's humans. Those two branches then evolved independently, and became the familiar beings that exist today.

So we haven't evolved from apes at all; we're just pretty closely related. Apes have evolved right alongside us - independently - for the past five million years. Therefore, the apes of today aren't at all the same apes that we supposedly evolved from.

Read it and weep. There is your trump card... shot down!!!

zondag 12 september 2004

Okay, somebody please tell me they saw that Jaguars game! Wow!

Last year was our first year with our new coach (Del Rio) and we were 0-8 on the road, not winning a single game. And we gave away three of those games in the last 30 seconds. So everybody was crossing their fingers that we could make a better showing this year, even though we gave away Mark Brunell, our amazing quarterback who's been with us since the beginning (1995). Today was the first game of the official season, against the Buffalo Bills, in Buffalo. It was close, very close. They scored a touchdown; we scored a field goal, then another. Seven to six, and so it stayed. The clock ticked down, around one minute. Our new quarterback, Leftwich, wasn't having his best day and it looked like we were going to start off the season with another loss.

One more drive, our last chance. Downs one, two, and three: zilch. Then, on fourth down, Jimmy Smith - who else? - pulled in a long, desperate pass from Leftwich and kept the drive alive.

Again, nothing on first, second, or third down. And then, somehow, we got the fourth down again. Unbelievably, we were into scoring range. And then, for the third time, downs one, two, and three yielded nada. Fourth and goal, with five seconds on the clock. Last chance.

Pass to a rookie in the back of the end zone. He leaps up, grabs the ball, clutches it tight... then gets slammed into by two defenders and knocked out of the end zone.

Coach's challenge. Referee review. Agreed that said rookie would have come down in bounds had he not been hit by defenders. So... TOUCHDOWN!!! Final score, 13-10. On the road. As the announcers called it, "What a nail-biter!", but still, we kicked off the season with a win!


donderdag 9 september 2004

I finally figured out why I'm not as comfortable with that linguistics teacher of mine, the Dutch one, as I'd expected to be. Considering she's a highly respected veteran staff member with her own psycholinguistics lab and all, the answer might surprise you. She never looks anyone in the eye! When she stands in front of the class, she looks around, but never at us, just through us. Even when she was giving examples and explanations of Dutch phenomena, when I was sitting in the front row smiling and nodding, she never even looked at me. It's disconcerting, really! I never realized I was sensitive for that sort of thing, but it bothers me. After class today, I mentioned it to Erin, a classmate, "Have you noticed that she never looks anyone directly in the eye?" I thought maybe I was the only one who had noticed, but Erin immediately said, "Yes! I work at Java City, and she came by this morning to order pastries for a meeting, and even then, she didn't really look at me!"

I always thought eye contact was one of those things you simply had to have to be a good teacher. I mean, you're sharing your knowledge with other people, explaining complicated things, answering questions - don't you HAVE to look them in the eye, in order to see the degree of confusion, the subtleties to a question, the moment when understanding is reached? They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I don't know about that, but I know they act almost like a second mouth, or second pair of ears - eye contact is just essential in talking, isn't it? Didn't your parents always tell you when you were little, "Look at me when I'm talking to you!" How can an esteemed professor of 40 or 50 years not be able to do it?

woensdag 8 september 2004

I have a new favorite store.

I bought this rain jacket from them when I left camp, after hearing both Mel and Ernie rave about it, and they were right - I love it. It was expensive, but it's everything you could want in a rain jacket - folds up small, has a bungee-corded hood that will never blow off your head (an absolute must for biking! I used it on my bike the day the first rain/wind of Frances came in and it did GREAT!), and, best of all, the water simply rolls off it. I don't know what this magic material is, but five minutes out of the rain and the jacket is bone dry. You can literally pour a water bottle over yourself (as Mel spent a whole camp swim class period doing) and it just beads up and rolls off. I have never been fond of rain jackets - Mom might even go so far as to say I hate them, seeing as I never ever EVER put one on, preferring to simply get drenched - yet I can't wait to wear this one; I carry it in my backpack all the time, just waiting for a cloud. Consider this a turning point.

Anyway, so I discovered their website last week, and after much carefully conducted research (and a lot of 'I want!'s), I have concluded that my next purchase will be this jacket. The thinner it is, the better I like it, yet it still has to be warm enough for NL weather - and this seems to fit the bill. I was twijfeling between two, so I wrote to a customer service representative asking him to point out the warmer of the choices; he compared the linings for me and said this one would be much warmer, and that it was one of the most popular choices for women. I currently have two coats which are suitable for NL-type cold: one long, gray, and nylon; one short, white, and nylon. (Both from H&M, which we unfortunately do not have in America.) The long coat is nice-looking but impractical for biking (I nearly had a wreck the first time I rode with it), and the white one is good but very bulky; I feel like a walking snowman. After my 'real winter' experience this past year, I have discovered that my legs rarely get cold and that I prefer shorter coats with more freedom of mobility. This coat is thin while still being lined with down. And it even says there on the side, that its primary purpose is to keep you warm without it being huge. Shoulda known North Face would come though for me. :) Anybody got a color preference? I'm leaning toward the black, but the blue's nice too...

Anyway, now that I'm done with my commercial, I'm chalking that carefully researched item up on my "When My Financial Aid Makes Its Appearance" list (alongside the first three Dan Brown books).

"Sex cell formation - it isn't like a square dance! There's no little man yelling through a megaphone in your father's scrotum!"

--Prof. Sassaman in 6th-period General Anthropology

(Note: I finally have a real appointment to get my eyes measured for Lasik - October 8th. Which means I'm banished to my glasses for the week before that, but I can deal.)

Well, I picked up my minor form today... got approved to add my TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) minor. Not surprising, considering that after this semester I'll already have completed all the necessary requirements for it... just coincidentally. Nice, picking up an extra gold star for your transcript/resume which costs you no extra work... tee hee. :)

That class is turning out to be okay, by the way - TESL. I'm not usually one of the first ones to speak up in class, even if I know the answer, but for some reason I do in there. There are always a few kids in every class who are the 'talkers' - the ones who explain the group findings after being asked to work in groups, etc. - and that's never really been me, but in this class it is. The subject matter isn't all that interesting - it's not really a class I look forward to - but I like feeling like I know what I'm doing.

Felt like that again this morning, too - Serena, a girl from my LIN 3201 class, was sitting outside the classroom this morning with about half of her homework sheet wrong. We compared answers, since neither of us was feeling too confident, and it turned out I had almost everything right. I didn't know it until I saw her wrong answers and had to justify my own, but I did - only messed up on an IPA symbol and one of the voiced/unvoiced choices (turns out the 'th' in 'father' is a voiced sound - who knew?) :) She's in my other linguistics class too, 3460, and I feel really confident about that homework, even if it did take me forever. Actually looking forward to turning it in and discussing it tomorrow. I'm especially interested in what the teacher will think about my examples for Dutch - we all had to pick a 'project language' to study throughout the semester, and Dutch happens to be her native language. We had to find examples of prefixes, suffixes, infixes, and circumfixes (we don't really have those last two in English; an infix is sticking something into the middle of a word, like inpakken = ingepakt, and a circumfix is sticking stuff before and after a word, like maken = gemaakt). I think I did really well on that, and I want to impress her right from the start, since I'm starting to think I may not have been so smart to choose the teacher's native language for my project. :)

The clock strikes four, and Jess starts coughing. Very strange - I can go all day with barely a hack, and then I reach 16.00 and it starts up again. But this inhaler works wonders; I can actually get the crap UP now instead of just coughing and coughing and coughing with no progress. I was starting to lose my voice from it the other day.

I got fingerprinted today, too - if you work in child care, you always have to have a fingerprint background check - so I can finally turn that card in tomorrow at work and get that out of the way. I felt like a criminal. And they don't even look like 'real' fingerprints, the way they do it - they just mush your fingers all around to get every side and the end result is something like a smudgey black square. Oh well.

And we did DNA replication/transcription/translation today in anthropology, plus Mendelian genetics - my two favorite things in biology. Too bad we sort of skimmed over them quickly - it's only a 2000-level class and not even really biology-oriented, so I understand, but still. I think I'll go look them up on the Internet and refresh my memory. That stuff always interested me.

And as long as I seem to be talking about every single one of my classes, I may as well add swimming and astronomy. We didn't swim this morning - the chemicals in the pool were all out of whack from so much rain - so that really sucked. The pool here is closed too, and I really want to swim, because I exercised a lot yesterday, including push-ups, and my shoulders are pretty sore. And as for astronomy... there's a quiz tomorrow... not much else to mention.

Leigh Ann, my study-abroad advisor, finally has a faxed copy of my transcript from Utrecht and a message that the original is on its way. She's already sent the UF equivalency sheets to Dr. Matheny, my academic advisor, so he can fill them out (saying what UF course I should get credit for for each of the overseas courses) and turn them in. They both said they'd ask that I be given priority in processing, and Leigh Ann added that even if the Boswell grades didn't come with the others, that she'd still turn the Utrecht ones in so that I'd at least be marked down for doing *something*. I've really got to send the two of them thank-you cards or something... they've done so much for me over the last couple years. Anybody who says UF is too big and that you get treated like a number - just talk to one of these people for five minutes and you'll know that's not true. Anyway, I e-mailed them both all the information I have about the Utrecht course names, the UF equivalents we had agreed upon, and the grades (the ones I remember) that I got. It's not like my word counts for anything here, but still, that way, all the information is in one place and we all have something to check against.

Anyway, after looking at all those course numbers, I've pretty much got a handle on what I'm going to take next semester, and it rocks. Check this out:

LIN 4656 Gender and Language
LIN 4930 The Brain and Language
LIN 4127 Old English
MAC 1105 College Algebra

Yes, one last GE requirement - a math. Sigh. But those other three are so cool - I mean, Old English?? The moment when I knew I was going to like Dr. Renfroe, my high school English teacher, was when she read us a poem in Old English. I thought - OK, anybody who can do that must be a really cool person. And I was right. And now I'll be able to do it myself! So cool! And that 'Brain and Language' class is given by the same professor whom I have now for linguistics, the Dutch one. And that's only 12 credits, so I have plenty of room for a couple of sports or maybe one last language, something exotic like Swahili or Arabic. I don't think I'm going to do a thesis; I'll be graduating with high honors anyway as long as my GPA comes up 0.07 points (which it definitely will after those abroad grades come in). Oh well, I have plenty of time to decide that; I'm still planning to take the fourth year and just study abroad in NL again, and you don't have to come up with a thesis idea until then, so...

Guess this is long enough. :) Oh well, you guys know me, every once in a while my head just gets too full and I have to set it all down. Anyway, that's it for now. Tallyho!

dinsdag 7 september 2004

It's been a long, sweaty day, with nothing really of note except that (a.) we had no classes, (b.) I went all the way up to work only to find it closed, and (c.) the doctors at the health care center put me on an Albuterol inhaler for my cough. ("So you're on asthma medication," Mom said with resignation. My sister has asthma, and I think Mom could almost write a medical textbook on it.) The doctors think that using the inhaler for four or five days should clear me up; they mentioned the words "viral bronchitis". If not, I have to go get a chest X-ray.

Oh, and my eye doctor finally called me back today about the Lasik measurements - I've been trying to get an answer out of those people for weeks. He said it can all be done on the same day and that I should call their second office (where the machines are) and "set up an appointment for a Lasik evaluation, including corneal thickness measurements" and that they'll know exactly what to do with me. Sounds good. I'm hoping to have that done over Thanksgiving vacation. I can't imagine what that'll be like - being able to swim without goggles if I want to, not having to put lenses in and take them out every morning and night, not having the hassle of dust or eyelashes getting stuck behind them... and, quite simply, just being able to open my eyes in the morning and see. I got my first pair of glasses when I was about seven; I can't remember what it's like to not have all of that hassle.

As for classes, they should be back on tomorrow, or, at least, I haven't been told otherwise.

As for my financial aid and the problems with my international grades, the latest update from Dr. Matheny says: "I think that Leigh Ann has been getting at least most of your transcript in, and we should be able to get it mostly straightened out soon. Not sure yet about the Boswell transcript." I hope it gets worked out before the Bright Futures 'run' for this month, that's all. Otherwise I'll have to wait another month. I've e-mailed the Boswell people about getting those grades, but, as is typical for Utrecht, I've gotten no response. It's a great city, but you seriously have to start six months ahead with anything and everything you need.

(And now it's storming outside. Did Frances twist around, or what?)

Another late night

Trying to:

a.) use Blogger comments instead of HaloScan (and Blogger is fighting me every step of the way...)

b.) get a new guestbook

c.) figure out why I can't alter the code for the Title field, to make it smaller (as it is, if I use titles, they're as large as the date and look really messy, as you see here... but any attempt on my part to alter that is met with gentle mocking laughter from the depths of the Blogger abyss.)

c.) finish my LIN 3201 homework (don't have a clue what a diagram of an ejective [p'] would look like...)

d.) not go crazy...

...why do I always get the urge to do this stuff at night?

maandag 6 september 2004

20 Products I Can't Live Without

1.) Celine Dion 'Notes' perfume
2.) Old Navy stretch jeans
3.) Dove 'Essential Nutrients' Day Lotion (SPF 15)
4.) Compaq Presario laptop
5.) Kraft EasyMac
6.) Intuition razor
7.) Columbia Sportswear backpack
8.) Ricardo RBH Sport rolling carry-on
9.) SoftLips lip balm
10.) Miss Meringue meringue cookies
11.) 8x4 ProActive spray deodorant (European)
12.) The North Face women's rain jacket
13.) Playtex tampons
14.) Sony CyberShot 5.1 megapixel
15.) Nokia 6820 cell phone
16.) TicTacs
17.) Creative 256 MB mp3 player
18.) TYR competitive swimsuit
19.) Globe-Weis plastic expandable file
20.) New Balance sneakers

I’m writing this at 12.22 on Monday – not sure when I’ll be able to post it, but we’ll see. We have no cable at the moment (and thus no Internet), but our power hasn’t gone out – it’s been flickering, but it hasn’t gone completely out. I just talked to Mom and she says their power’s been out since 16.00 yesterday, that a tree fell on a power line up by my old elementary school and that the whole neighborhood is out. I guess we’ve been lucky. There’s still stuff blowing around, but there’s that atmosphere that’s unique to the aftermath of a hurricane – it’s light but not sunny, cool but not cold, water everywhere… hard to explain unless you’ve felt it yourself, but anyway, it means it’s almost over. Charlotte came in this morning full of news about the damage (she and the Germans went to Charleston after all) and we stepped outside and checked the courtyard. It’s not as flooded as it was yesterday, but the pool is full of leaves and the ground is covered in tree debris. And it’s still raining; I hear it tapping my window. But we all survived. (There was a man in the last hurricane who stepped outside to smoke and had a tree fall on him. Given my contempt for smoking, I could only laugh.)

Still haven’t finished that homework (“Can click have phonation?” Anybody know?), but I don’t think it matters right now, since Charlotte just told us that school’s canceled tomorrow, too. I would go to Jacksonville, but (a) they haven’t even got power, and (b) I don’t really want to waste the gas. So it looks like another day of sitting in the apartment… blah. I like school and I wish it were on. I want to go back to the health center and tell them that the antibiotics didn’t work, I want to get my fingerprint card filled out for work, I want to pick up my minor form, and I want to turn in my LIN 3460 assignment, which I worked long and hard on and finally finished (8 typed pages!). I can’t do any of those things unless school is open. The only good thing about it is that we’ll postpone the astronomy pop quiz (that we all already know about), but that’s no problem; I could do it with my eyes closed. (If it were a LIN 3201 quiz, now...)

Anyway, so since there’s no cable, there’s nothing on TV and no Internet. So Renate and I have been sitting downstairs watching movie after movie. We were just finishing Ice Age as Charlotte walked in. She and the Germans just went back out to return their rental car, and I came upstairs to call home and check the damage.

Also, I have to call work and see if they’re open tomorrow. Maybe they lost power too.

Closing note: can I please have my financial aid??????

(Update: It's almost 15.00 and the cable is back. Charlotte and Renate and I were watching Shrek, and when it was over, the cable was back on. Yay!)

zondag 5 september 2004

Well, the hurricane is strengthening a bit here. Our power hasn’t gone out (I thought I'd post one more time before that happened, if it's going to happen...), but the lights have been flickering rather ominously, and the streets are covered with leaves and small branches. There’s a police car outside, which I can’t see, but I can hear the officer talking over his megaphone, “Honey, please go inside. This is not the time to jog!” No kidding. Wonder who that was? Probably one of the sorority chicks – for those who don’t know, I live across the street from all the sorority houses. Jogging during a hurricane. Pfff. That's just great, sweetie. I hope a tree falls on you.

Anyway, I don’t see any real damage yet, but granted, I have only a very small window. I heard bangs earlier which sounded like branches being blown down onto the bicycle shed, there’s a screen door across the street which has been all but blown off its hinges, there’s a tree in that same yard which is swaying and leaning ominously close to a power line, and there’s tons of debris in the streets, but other than that… not much to note.

This cough is not getting better, and I only have one pill of the antibiotics left. That would suggest to me that it’s viral, not bacterial, since it hasn’t been touched. I’ve also got a little nasal congestion now. Guess I’ll go back to the health center on Tuesday. Oh well, at least the stomach cramps are occurring less frequently. Or maybe that’s just because I can’t stop eating?

Okay, I really, really, really am going to go do my LIN 3201 homework now. If Practical Magic happens to be playing at the same time, well, so be it.

zaterdag 4 september 2004

My body is falling apart. Not only have I been coughing for almost two weeks and having stomach cramps at random times, but now I have another sensitive tooth, this time on the other side. I mentioned the first one to the dentist when I was there, but they said they couldn't see anything, and it went away after a few days... so this one's probably nothing too, but still, annoying.

Aside from that, things are fine. The landfall time for this hurricane keeps getting pushed further and further back. They were saying tonight; now, because it's all but stalled just north of the Bahamas, they say it could be as late as tomorrow night. Good thing Monday's Labor Day, so we don't have classes... but at this rate, Tuesday's classes could be canceled too.

I've been passing the time straightening up my room a bit and organizing all the little things - earrings, toiletries, photos. What I really should be doing is working on that second homework assignment, the one for LIN 3201, but I don't even know where to start. I don't even recognize the things I'm being asked. Actually, what I really should be doing is printing out the class notes for anthropology and swimming, seeing as the power's probably going to go out tonight/tomorrow/next month when the hurricane gets here.

Not much more to tell. I think I'm going to go eat a frozen dinner (still trying to wipe out everything in the fridge for the potential power outage) and watch a movie. I watched Selena last night; that movie always makes me so sad. She's still one of my favorite artists - hard to imagine how big she might have become if she'd lived and actually completed that English crossover album. Most of her music is in Spanish, but the few English songs she did complete are still pretty widely played: "I Could Fall in Love," "Dreaming of You," "I'll Never Get Over You (Getting Over Me)"... even though she was killed in '95.

Anyway, the movie choices for today are down to Stepmom, Practical Magic, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and The Next Karate Kid. (Oh, and The Princess Diaries II, if it ever finishes downloading.) Votes, anyone?

donderdag 2 september 2004

So you got to let me knoooooww...
(guitar riff)
Should I stay or should I go?

So far, I've only talked to one person who's going, and that was a parent at Child's Academy today. Charlotte and Renate (my housemates) are both staying, and so I think I will too. I really don't feel like sitting in the traffic that I know will be there no matter which way I try to go home; plus I want to stay here with all my stuff. If anything DOES happen to the apartment, I want to be here, so I can deal with it ASAP. If, for example, the window blows out in my room, I can grab my electronics, cover all my pictures and books, save my homework, and figure out a way to temporarily cover the window. If I'm not here, I'll walk in on Monday night to a sodden and utterly destroyed room. If the power goes out, I can eat all my yogurt and cheese and sorbet and Popsicles and everything from the refrigerator. If I'm not here, it will all go bad - fifty dollars' worth of Publix groceries down the drain. I'd rather 'go down with the ship', if you'll pardon the Titanic reference. (Or is it Dido?) ;)

Plus, how many times have they predicted a major blow, only to have nothing happen? They canceled school for two days for Hurricane Floyd in 2000, and (so I hear) those were the two most beautiful days of the year in Gainesville. Charley was supposed to brush Jacksonville a couple of weeks ago, and we got nothing, not a whisper. I actually like hurricanes; that's probably why they keep missing us.

Anyway, I've got quite a bit of homework this weekend. The first two weeks are always easy, and then the first assignment is always due in the third week. I wish they'd space these things out a little so that every class wasn't on the same schedule, but whatever. The biggest thing was the first homework assignment for LIN 3460 (Structure of Human Language) - we're studying morphemes (the smallest units of a language which still carry meaning) and among other things, we had to take data - first words, then sentences - from different languages, some of which don't even use the English alphabet, and figure out what the units were and what they meant.

(simple) example from class today, using Nahuatl:

mopelomes - my dogs
nopelo - your dog

How many morphemes are there in this data? (And, if it's our homework, what are their syntactic categories, what is the gloss, are they roots or not, what parts of speech are they, are they lexical or grammatical, and what is the take-yield equation? And, if they're in English, how do you write them in IPA?) Grrr... I can't stand IPA... (International Phonetic Alphabet)... all those funny symbols representing pronunciation that you see in dictionaries. It's my third year of linguistics and I still don't have all the vowels memorized!

(The answer, in case you're wondering: 'mo' is 'my', 'no' is 'your', 'pelo' is 'dog', and 'mes' is the plural morpheme.)

Anyway, it's actually fun - everyone knows me and my decoding stuff, I love it - but the last question was a pain. It was written in Tlingit, which I bet none of you have ever even heard of (it's spoken in the Arctic, I believe), and there were 26 morphemes in total. We had about 15 full sentences, not just words, and half the characters weren't even English letters - they were random symbols that I didn't even know a keyboard could produce. Plus the word order was totally different than in English; the object came first. That was something else we had to figure out.

Sorry, I'm digressing. The point is that I like it, but that it's time-consuming. I got the assignment done (with a Ben & Jerry's run in the middle, with Charlotte and Anna and Sara...) but now I've got another one for LIN 3201, and that one is not fun at all. Decoding I like... areas of articulation I do not. (That's the actual physical motions behind making certain sounds, like where your tongue goes to make Ts and Ds and if your vocal cords are open or closed when making certain sounds.) It's got questions like whether it's possible or not to make certain sounds (e.g. a voiceless velar velaric ingressive stop, or a velar glottic egressive sound with simultaneous nasal hum) and why or why not. BAH. I barely know what the things are.

Sorry. I'll stop rambling about things nobody understands. Goodnight, sleep tight, and don't let the linguistics bugs bite.

woensdag 1 september 2004

Ouch. Am sore from swimming. Although I feel like a baby doing all the kickboard drills that Kelley makes us do, I do admit that it builds muscle.

Update on the financial aid: I heard today in linguistics class that I'm not the only one, that nobody has gotten their Bright Futures yet and that others have had their tuition deducted from their normal scholarships too. So maybe it's not just because I was abroad. Still, I'm glad my advisor wrote to them, because he got a letter back today saying they'd mail a transcript ASAP and that they'd include the Boswell classes. That sounds promising; I hope 'ASAP' means within the next week.

We got our assignments today for TESL, finding conversation partners (people learning English who we can help) and planning presentations with activities for non-native English speakers. We have to do them with our class as if we were real teachers. Luckily, we can work together. Most people preferred to work alone, but Stephanie, whom I didn't know until this semester, and I elected to work together, saying two heads are better than one. As for the conversational partner, most people are signing up to meet people from the English Language Institute (ELI) here in Gainesville, but I had mentioned this to Martin in passing while he was still here and he asked me if he could do it. I asked Patty (the teacher) about that today, and she said that it was probably okay but that she'd give me a definite answer on Friday.

Speaking of Friday... we've got another hurricane out there. The last one missed us by a hair, unfortunately - I like hurricanes. Probably because they've never destroyed my car or house or anything like that :) but still, I think they're exciting. Frances, this new one, is supposed to hit Friday or Saturday, I think. Depending on where it comes in, I may go to Jacksonville.

On campus, they're kicking up a big fuss about voting. Which is actually a good thing - as Mom never fails to remind me, Alachua had the biggest percentage of Nader voters last election - undecideds. I'm walking around with a Kerry button on my backpack now. Mom's tried to explain to me all the details of the situation, but there are only three things that really stick in my mind.

The first is, Bush is simply an idiot. There it is, plain and simple. He can't talk without (a) someone else's written-down ideas to prompt him, (b) tripping over his own tongue, or (c) mentioning God. (Isn't there some rule out there mentioning, oh, I don't know, SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE?!) And not just an idiot, but an idiot who can't seem to separate what he PERSONALLY believes from what is best for a COUNTRY full of 280,000,000 people.

The second is gay marriage. I'm not even really familiar with Kerry's stand on it, but I sure know Bush's, and I think it stinks. If two people love each other and want to be together forever "'til death do they part", then what does it matter what they have inside their pants?

And the third, the biggie, is stem cell research. In my opinion, that is the best thing that ever happened to medical science and he's stopping us from doing it, afraid to offend his precious pro-lifers. I don't think the world understands the potential here. We have the capability to regrow arms and legs for amputees, grow new hearts and livers and bone marrow for people who need transplants, new pancreases for people with diabetes, new reproductive organs for infertile women. Maybe even, someday, parts of the brain for those with brain damage. And all this can be done without fear of rejection or other problems, because we will be using those peoples' very own cells! That seems so magical to me, that we could treat and cure so many things that way. I really think that's going to be the "double helix" of the 21st century, like Watson and Crick with DNA last century. But Bush says no, afraid it will be seen as supporting abortion. (Which I'm also in favor of, but don't get me started on that.) While, as Mom says, thousands of embryos are thrown away every day at fertility clinics. All this is going to do is ensure that some OTHER country without such a religion-compromised leader makes a breakthrough before we do. And our fall from grace from our coveted place at the top of the world will then be short and hard, I can assure you.

The Secret Service is probably going to track me down for this post, but whatever.

Anyway, vote for Kerry. :)

OK, gotta go check the student job site - I want to see if there's anything on there like house-sitting that I could do once in a while. Then I have to hit Publix. See ya.

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