:: 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)

dinsdag 30 mei 2006

The mother cat apparently had no objections to the Gabby-smelling crate or the barriers we put up; we saw her sitting out there by the shed this morning, so we knew she didn't move the babies, and when I went out and peeked a little later (after she left), the kittens were all still inside the crate, cuddled up on the mattress pad in one big pile of fuzzy fur. We're still trying to figure out exactly what to do with them - we're reluctant to just grab them and take them to the Humane Society without having the mother along with them - but at least they're protected from rain, etc. in the meantime. We're going out of town for a couple of days starting Thursday or Friday, to go up to Georgia and see the daughter of our relative that just died, so we have to do something with the kittens either today or tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

maandag 29 mei 2006

This afternoon, we found a litter of three kittens hiding behind our shed, in the corner of the yard. We've noticed an unfamiliar yellow-eyed black cat prowling around our yard lately, and now we know why. They seem to be about five weeks old - old enough to be calendar-cute, with fuzzy fur and big blue eyes, but not old enough to have quite mastered the skill of walking around. They sort of 'creep', rather than bounding around like you'd expect. Two were hiding just at the corner of the shed, where Dad could grab them easily, but he had to clamber around all sorts of stuff to get to the third one, who was lounging placidly under the side of Dad's makeshift towing trailer. His hand scrabbled around as I peeked underneath and directed him, "A little more to the left. -- No, my left. Yeah, there you go, you've got him!"

He finally captured all three of them - all gray tabbies, one light, one medium, one dark, all with huge blue eyes, and all (apparently) female - and the four of us stood around cuddling them and talking about what to do next. It being Memorial Day and all, no adoption center was open, so we ended up putting them in Gabby's old crate, with a fluffy mattress pad for a bed, and putting the crate back behind the shed. We propped the door open with a stake and set up low barriers to block off both exits from behind the shed; that way, the mother cat can get in, but the kittens can't get out. We figure they'll be making a racket if the mother doesn't come back by tomorrow morning, and either way, we'll probably take them to some adoption center or other tomorrow. It won't be a problem getting rid of them; they're certifiably adorable and exactly what every visitor to those centers is looking for. The four of us aren't cat people (largely because of Catie's allergy), but even we have to admit, they're precious. The problem is that the mother cat needs to be turned in too, otherwise she'll just keep producing litter after litter - but we don't expect we'll be able to catch her. Who knows - she may be outside moving those babies to a new location as we speak. Ah, well, I guess we'll find out in the morning.

zondag 28 mei 2006

Well, I've got my Powerbook, and so far, I have to say I'm very satisfied. It's 1.5 Ghz with 1.25 GB of RAM, and it performs about the same as my Compaq (1.4 Ghz, 512 MB) did as far as speed goes. It feels super light - two full pounds lighter than the Compaq - the battery life is about an hour and a half longer, and, of course, it's gorgeous. The lower right corner is a little beat up - the previous owner dropped it - but it doesn't interfere with the function, and I think that's the reason I was able to outbid the other buyers at the last second and keep the price low ($735). That was more than I originally wanted to pay, but other computers with the same specs were going for much more, so I feel like I got a deal. It picked up our home wireless network with no trouble, it read my PC-formatted external drive with no trouble (which was a pleasant surprise), and Microsoft Office is installed (even though the previous owner said it wasn't), so I don't have to buy it after all. The hard drive is only 60 GB, but I can deal with that - I need to get rid of some of my .avi movies anyway - and the optical drive doesn't have a DVD burner, but I didn't have one on the Compaq either, and to tell you the truth, I can't think of a single occasion when I would ever use one except for copying existing DVDs, and my dad already has a machine to do that. So... I'm pretty happy!

Pros: it's small, light, and gorgeous; the battery life is decent; the Finder is much less 'cluttered' than Windows Explorer; the Search function is incredibly fast and effective (compared to that stupid puppy dog in Windows); there's a separate photo organization application; you can make professional-looking slideshows (visual effects and music) with, like, two clicks; there's a 'Bookmark Bar' in the browser for often-used links; there are 'Stickies' to write notes on and stick to your desktop; the backgrounds and screen savers are far superior to Windows; I love the Dock system (with all the icons at the bottom of the screen; your mouse magnifies the icons as you roll over them); you can set the clock to 24-hour time (such a simple thing, but Windows can't do it); the keyboard is (for some reason) much easier for me to type on than that of the Compaq; there's a built-in translator (that knows Dutch!); and you can set up different preferences for energy use depending on whether the machine is running on battery or if it's plugged in. I had to change everything manually on the Compaq (if I wanted to take the trouble, which I never did).

Cons: there's Backspace but no Delete button (I never realized how very often I used it...); adding accents to characters is more difficult; the machine runs rather hot; the Gmail Notifier isn't 'playing nice' with it; it doesn't remember passwords and usernames with the same automatic efficiency as Windows; it won't write to my PC-formatted external drive (but I can fix that; I just haven't done it yet); the speakers aren't quite as nice as the Compaq's; and I'm having trouble getting used to the 'new' keyboard shortcuts. But I'm sure that will come with time.

I've spent the past couple of days transferring files and organizing - getting everything set up just the way I want it. I'm one of those people who hates cleaning but is quite fond of organizing - I'll pack, sort, label, straighten, and alphabetize all day long, as long as you don't try to hand me a vacuum or dustcloth - meaning I'm having a ball with all the individual programs on the Mac, organizing my music, photos, movies, documents, bookmarks, all into a gazillion individual folders. Don't I lead an exciting life? ;) I ran into a slight roadblock when I discovered that Quicktime wouldn't play my .avi movies and wouldn't readily tell me the proper codecs to download to rectify that - which Windows Media Player does do - but a quick Google search turned up the MPlayer OSX, which downloaded in two minutes and plays everything with no trouble.

At the moment, I would even go so far as to say I'll never go back to Windows. We'll see what the next few days bring.

Okay - now on to the not-so-nice stuff. Because whenever something good happens, something bad has to happen too, right? Well, my great-aunt died on Thursday. Which wasn't entirely unexpected - she had advanced Alzheimer's - but it's a complicated situation nonetheless. To make a long story short, she has two children - a son (who was living with her) and a daughter (who is mentally handicapped and lives in a sheltered apartment). Her son is just plain mean and untrustworthy in every aspect of his life (think alcohol, drugs, as little work as humanly possible, and a generally nasty personality), and we strongly suspect he and his girlfriend were basically letting her starve to death (she went from being obese to weighing less than 90 pounds) in order to get their hands on her money. (And when she did die, he managed to get her cremated in less than 12 hours, and didn't call anyone until it was already done - uh, anyone else think he's covering something up?) Anyway, the obvious problem here is not just that such a rotten person may walk away with a lot of undeserved money, but that the (very sweet) daughter is in a good, stable situation which works well for her - but she needs the continued income from her mother's money to be able to stay there. If her brother sucks up all their mother's money, including that which was specifically set aside to go to his sister, she will essentially be out in the cold with nowhere to go. (He even told her, "When Mama dies, you're not getting anything!") That means our family could end up with a lot more responsibility for her than we want. So it's been like the New York Stock Exchange around our house the past couple of days - phones ringing off the hook, my parents rushing around and the two home-for-the-summer college students just trying to stay out of the way. I'll keep you posted.

Hmm, I just realized something. I always highlight and copy all the text in this Blogger entry form before I click Publish (because I've had a couple long entries get lost) ... but I don't know the Apple keyboard shortcut for 'Copy'. In Windows it's Ctrl + C ... maybe Apple + C then? Let's give it a try.

UPDATE: Yup, that was it.

dinsdag 23 mei 2006

It's been three years since the Dixie Chicks' anti-Bush comments got them ostracized, and they're finally back, writing their own songs and sounding better than ever - their current single is called, "Not Ready to Make Nice"! The new album was released today. I've loved the Chicks since "Wide Open Spaces" and was crushed when the Jacksonville stations boycotted them... and now, far from trying to pretend it never happened and sneak back into their old patterns, the group is embracing their new position! The lyrics are below (and after this I promise I'll stop with the political song lyrics - that's two in a single week - but I'm just so happy these girls are back and that three years later they're still standing up for themselves!).

Today I bought the album for $9.98 at Target, and with the special promo code inside I was able to order a ticket for their October concert in Greensboro (an hour from Chapel Hill) ... and I got eighth row center, baby! Woohoo!

Not Ready To Make Nice
Dixie Chicks

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I'm not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting

I'm through with doubt
There's nothing left for me to figure out
I've paid a price
And I'll keep paying

I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell and
I don't have time to go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
'Can't you just get over it'
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don't mind sayin'
It's a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they'd write me a letter
Sayin' that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

(chorus 2x)

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I'm not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting

maandag 22 mei 2006

News in a nutshell:

I got my 12" Powerbook - won it, anyway; it won't be here until Saturday or so. Almost got sucked in by a scammer on the first try, but saw through him in time, luckily. The guy I bought from is definitely for real, though, and I can't wait for my new baby to get here, haha. Gotta love eBay.

I went to the podiatrist again today and got those three annoying little growths taken off the bottoms of my feet - which is nice, but also means I have oozing bloody holes down there now, covered up by Band-Aids. Attractive, huh? But I also got a cortisone shot for the heel, so that pain, at least, has become more manageable.

I saw The Da Vinci Code on opening day and, on the whole, actually liked it. There were way too many inane exclamations ("Good god! Could these really be the Grail documents?" "I have to get to a library, fast!"), which made me cringe for poor Tom Hanks, having to read that crap, and I still think Sam Neill would have made a way better Robert Langdon - but as book adaptations go, it was pretty enjoyable. My only true complaint is that the movie 'bows' to the Christian right a little - in the scene at Teabing's house, where Teabing and Langdon are explaining all the intricacies of the 'true' Jesus story to Sophie. In the book, Teabing and Langdon are in full agreement about all the details, excitedly supplementing one another's comments. In the movie, Langdon makes a point of protesting Leigh's allegations, several times, "Leigh, you know those are just theories - nothing's been proven!" Et cetera. In my opinion, if a movie or book is going to shake someone's faith, then that faith was never really there to begin with - and, thus, the writers should not have made that concession. It made no real difference to the overall controversiality of the storyline, and only served to emphasis the fact that they were trying to make it as obvious as humanly possible that Dan Brown's story line is largely fictitious. I don't know about you all, but when I walk into a movie theater, I generally employ the 'willing suspension of disbelief' we were taught so much about in IB English, and never assume that what I am watching represents reality. Ah, well, what can you do? It was just disappointing.

(Upon coming out of the theater, though, Erin and Melissa - the friends I saw it with - and I all agreed that we would LOVE for Brown's theory to be true, because of our general disdain for organized religion - not to mention a somewhat sadistic desire to see the anarchy that would ensue when the world's religious nuts all got knocked on their ears. LOL.)

Time to go take a bath without getting my feet wet. We'll see how the mechanics of that one play out. Should be interesting.

dinsdag 16 mei 2006

Laptop Decision: For now, I've decided to try to get ahold of a cheap used Powerbook to play with for a few months. That was the model I originally wanted, and if I get a used one, I can play with all the applications, put it through its paces, carry it around town, and just get a good feel as to whether or not I'm really going to like a Mac before I go and drop $1500 on a new one. A lot of Powerbook users are going to be upgrading to MacBooks, so there are quite a few old ones on eBay now; it just remains to be seen if there will be one in my price range (preferably no more than $500). So if anyone gets wind of a used 12" Powerbook, let me know, okay?

English Channel Update: Five relay team members down, one to go. Along with myself, it's Shady (my Californian friend who studied with me at University College - her aunt swam the Channel years ago), Linda (a Scottish woman looking to do a relay before she attempts a solo), and Tommy and Cathy (fellow UNC students and pool swimmers looking for a new challenge). And a woman named Kim just e-mailed me, possibly interested in being the sixth. I'm stoked that this is all coming together so easily - hopefully the event itself will go just as smoothly!

Drumroll, please... the new Apple laptop line is now complete!

Most of the predictions came true; it's offered in black and white, it has a 13.3" widescreen, the processors are all Core Duo, the price marks are $1099 / $1299 / $1499, and it has the built-in iSight camera and magnetic latch. One thing that nobody predicted was the addition of a glossy screen - that's pretty sweet. And on the Apple site, the iBook and Powerbook have both disappeared, and the tag line is, "Meet the family - now complete," so I think it's pretty safe to say that this new model has replaced both the smaller models, not just one. That kind of sucks, because I don't love this computer - it's just too big and heavy for my purposes, plus I'm not a fan of the plastic - but I really do want to switch to Mac. I guess I'll just have to hope that there's an ultraportable in the works - it seems odd that there wouldn't be, especially with back-to-school season coming up - and if there's no whisper of such a thing by the time I get back from camp in August, I may just go ahead and get this one. The features are impressive for the low price - plus I get an education discount - so even if I don't keep it for quite as long as I've kept this Compaq, it won't be a tragedy.

So here's how it stacks up against the other contenders:

13" MacBook. Trimmed out the way I want it, the processor is fast (2.0 Ghz, Core Duo), the hard drive is big (100 GB), and there's lots of RAM (up to 2 GB). It also comes with a lot of really awesome software, and since it's a Mac, the design is beautiful and a lot of the typical PC issues will be practically nonexistent. Apple also claims 6 hours of battery life, and tells you all the settings to adjust to make sure you get the most time possible. The downside is that this model, compared the others I'm considering, is pretty big and heavy - 12.8" x 9" x 1" and 5.2 lbs. Also, I really, really, really prefer the aluminum models over the plastic.

Sony SZ. This one is basically the MacBook in PC form (and minus those two pounds - it's almost exactly the same size, but only 3.7 lbs). It's Core Duo, has the same options as far as processor speed, hard drive size, and RAM, and even has a built-in camera, just like the Mac. The battery life is around 5-6 hours. So you'd think this would be the one I'd go with... but... I've played with one of these in the store, and read quite a few reviews on it, and they just feel... cheap. There's a recurring dead spot on the left side of the spacebar, for example, and the battery tends to rattle. Not to mention, it's literally TWICE the cost of the MacBook - over $3000. I don't mind paying top dollar for a top computer, but this, in my mind, definitely did not feel like it was worth $3000.

Sony TX. The processor is (a) slow and (b) not a Core Duo, and the hard drive is small, not expandable from 60 GB. So normally I'd snort and say 'who are you kidding?' But it's less than three pounds ... and tiny (2.8 pounds, 10.7" x 7.7" x 1.1") ... and has crazy battery life (over 7 hours!) ... plus it has really cool external media controls and would sync up effortlessly with my (Sony) digital camera... so I can't quite eliminate it altogether.

Dell Inspiron 710m. It's a nice size (11.7" x 8.5" x 1.5") and a decent weight (4.1 pounds), and has a fast processor, but it isn't Core Duo. Also, you have to buy the high-capacity battery to make its life equal the Sony SZ, which not only sticks out from the back and looks ugly, but makes it heavier. However, I'm including it on the list because this is a fairly old model, and several of the Dell models do have Core Duo, which leads me to believe that they may be revamping this one before the end of summer.

zaterdag 13 mei 2006

In the same vein as the Pink song:

The most wonderful moment of Bush's presidency? Catching a fish.

About.com says, "It brings to mind Bush's equally idiotic response from a couple of years ago when he was asked to name the biggest mistake he'd made, and he said: 'I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it... I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet... I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't - you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.'"

Jay Leno: "President Bush said catching a 7.5 pound fish was his best moment since becoming president. You know the sad thing - a lot of historians would agree with that."

Kudos to Pink for this song, especially after what happened to the Dixie Chicks, etc. for speaking their minds in the current political climate. I don't agree with everything she says - homelessness will always exist, no matter who the president is - but I'm proud of her for being in the public eye, always scrutinized anyway, and still having the guts to take a stand.

Dear Mr. President - Pink

Dear Mr. President,
Come take a walk with me.
Let's pretend we're just two people and
You're not better than me.
I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why?

Dear Mr. President,
Were you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
How can you say
No child is left behind?
We're not dumb and we're not blind.
They're all sitting in your cells,
While you pave the road to hell.

What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say.
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye?

Let me tell you bout hard work:
Minimum wage with a baby on the way.
Let me tell you bout hard work:
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away.
Let me tell you bout hard work:
Building a bed out of a cardboard box.
Let me tell you bout hard work,
Hard work,
Hard work,
You don't know nothing 'bout hard work.
Hard work,
Hard work,

How do you sleep at night?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Dear Mr. President,
You'd never take a walk with me,
Would you?

dinsdag 9 mei 2006

Big Decision of the Week: I've decided to do my English Channel crossing as a relay, not as a solo swim. This is a very strapped-for-cash time in my life for various reasons - namely, moving out of state and starting graduate school - and I can't really justify dropping thousands of dollars (yes, thousands) to pay for a solo swim, especially when I'm not going to have consistent cold-water access nor the amount of time necessary to train for it properly. I might go back and do a solo at some point further down the road, but for now, I think a relay will be cheaper and less pressure - and a way to not give up the dream entirely.

Relays are made up of six members who rotate every hour, with only one person in the water at a time, meaning everyone will take two or three turns at swimming for an hour before we get to the other side. My sister, who was in a bit of a snotty mood at the time I mentioned this, sneered, "Well, that doesn't sound very challenging." Let me clear this up for anyone who may still be in doubt: training for an English Channel swim - relay or solo - is hard. Here's the breakdown.

A soloist has the hardest job. First, he or she needs to swim approximately 40,000 yards a week - some do more, others less - doing mostly distance sets. That's the equivalent of 1600 lengths in a standard pool, or 23 miles. Most people can't even walk 23 miles. Then, he or she has to prepare for the cold water, since s/he will probably be in it for 12 to 14 hours. The Channel is around 60 degrees - 20 degrees colder than the average pool. The O'Connell Center pool, in which many rec swimmers shiver, is 76 degrees. Ichetucknee Springs, which most people shriek upon entering, is 72. Get it? The Channel is cold. Then there's the whole matter of eating. You have to experiment with different food combinations to figure out what sits well in your stomach, what tastes good after swimming through all that salt water, what you can eat or drink quickly, and what fuels your muscles the best. This is much harder than it sounds, because foods that taste good on land won't taste good in the water after hours of swimming. Then you've got to work out a way to get the food to the swimmer. A basket on a long handle? A string tied to a bottle? Then there's communication. If you keep stopping, you're going to lose body heat and go into hypothermia. Hand signals need to be worked out, and feedings have to be fast - under 30 seconds if possible. And then there are all the miscellaneous problems. For instance, if, like me, you get seasick while swimming, you have to find a way to cure your queasy stomach. If you have a shoulder or knee or back that acts up, you have to find a medication or a way to adjust your stroke which will help the pain. You need to be accustomed to swimming in the dark, since most swims either begin in the very early morning or extend into the night. You have to be able to swim through heavy waves constantly breaking over you. And, perhaps most importantly of all, you have to find ways to entertain yourself or 'turn off' your mind while swimming. Sensory deprivation is very important. You can't see or hear anything while swimming and that can become insanely boring and lead to an over-focusing on your pain and fatigue.

Relay swimmers have to deal with all of these same issues. We don't have to swim for quite as long as the soloists, but we can't slack off, either; we need at least half their distance. 20,000 yards a week (800 laps, about 12 miles). That's at least eight hours in the pool every week. Then, there's the cold-water acclimatization. Some would argue that this is even more important for relay swimmers than for soloists, because our body temperature will be in constant flux: we have to be able to get into that cold water, adjust to it, swim, get out of the water, warm up, and then jump back in again to swim our next leg. We have to deal with exactly the same issues when it comes to food, swimming in the dark, swimming through waves, and dealing with seasickness, fatigue, or pain. And then there's the all-important element of teamwork and trust. A soloist is only accountable for him- or herself. A six-man relay has to think about all six participants when making decisions such as whether or not to abort the swim. Relay members have to not only encourage each other, but trust each other, and believe that every team member will be able to push through hardships and not give up at the first sign of difficulty.

It's not an easy task, no matter how you choose to go about it.

I need five more teammates, and preferably an alternate or two as well. I don't know yet who they'll all be. I'm trying to get in touch with some UNC swimmers and see if we can't swing the first "Chapel Hill Channel Relay"; if that doesn't pan out, I'll move on to other options (messageboards, etc.). But if any of you people inside the computer know of anyone who might be interested, please send them my way, okay?

zaterdag 6 mei 2006

I am now an official college graduate!

Just a few notes on the ceremony: it wasn't anywhere near as painful as I was expecting it to be. We were lined up by major (there were 12-15 linguistics students), so I got to reconnect with some classmates I hadn't seen since last year, and we kept each other amused throughout most of the looooong list of names by chatting, making fun of the errors on the tele-transcript, eating dark chocolate, debating whether or not the alma mater was 'blasphemous' (with its use of such phrases as 'thy glorious name we praise'), and looking out for former high school classmates (I think half my Stanton class was there).

They snapped a picture of each of us in front of a plain background while we were waiting in line; then we handed white cards with the proper pronunciation of our names to the announcer and got our turn to walk across the stage and shake the hands of Neil Sullivan (the dean), Senator Bob Graham (the keynote speaker - he was good) and Bernie Machen (the UF president), in that order. It was a pretty memorable walk, for a couple of reasons. First, a couple of friends of mine were sitting onstage with the prestigious '4.0 GPA' group, so they were calling my name as I went. Then, when I got to Bob Graham, instead of just saying 'congratulations' and moving on like he did with everyone else, he started up a little conversation, "Congratulations. So where are you going from here?"
"Chapel Hill," I said, a little surprised.
"Grad school?" he asked.
"That's great. Good luck to you."
"Thank you."
Odd, that he had a chat with me and nobody else. Guess he could sense I was a Democrat. ;)

And then, during the walk up to Bernie Machen (formal handshake #3), I passed Albert Matheny (my favorite advisor in the whole world, who always solves my seemingly earth-shattering problems without breaking a sweat and has saved my academic butt multiple times) sitting in the front row of stage chairs, so then he jumped up and shook my hand and give me a big hug and kiss on the cheek and said his congratulations too. I think I took up a lot more time than most others did, but I must say, it made me feel very popular. :)

Afterwards, we took the obligatory pictures, and then it was time to eat. But did we join the crowd and rush out to Olive Garden or Carrabba's? Oh no. The Weather family always has to be different. So, we tailgated in the parking garage. Yes, in our fancy suits and dresses, we opened the back of the minivan, turned on the Jimmy Buffett music, and ate hors d'oeurves of crackers, smoked salmon (with cream cheese, onions, and capers!), cheese, cold shrimp, and chocolate cookies. The perfect graduation lunch - no reservation required.

The award for Quote of the Day goes to Mom. Vaguely nibbling garlic Melba Toast, during a break in the conversation, she suddenly announced with great certainty, "I think it's fitting that you move the tassel from right to left. Because as you get more educated--" Way ahead of her, I collapsed into Dad, giggling madly. Mom and her politics. Gotta love it.

So now I'm sitting on the couch at home in Jacksonville, and the UF chapter of my life really is completely over now. But it was a great day to end it with.

vrijdag 5 mei 2006

Yippee! The MacBook will most likely be out this coming Tuesday!

And another page says this 13" model really will replace both the 14" and 12" iBooks. (Thus, it's not going to be aluminum, but the iMac white plastic.) Okay, fine with me, but what are they gonna do with the 12" aluminum Powerbook? I'm a big fan of the aluminum laptop models - the plastic, not so much. (Looks nice on the desktops, though.)

I'm not buying until I get back from camp in August, no matter how the chips fall, but I'm glad the 13" is coming out so soon - not only because it leaves time for production of (or at least rumors about) a 12", but also because it gives Apple a good three months to work out the kinks in the 13" if that's the one I end up with.

My second post of the night. I have just taken one of those incredible ricocheting journeys of Net-Surfing in the true sense of the word - meaning, when you link from one page to another and another and another until you have no idea why you're now reading the Wikipedia profiles of various fictional television characters when you started your 'quick' search three hours ago looking for a new political bumper sticker.

More specifically, I ended up spending an obscene amount of time reading about various 'celebrity encounters'. The only one I, personally, can claim is the Shania Twain concert at age 15 when my cousin Allison and I draped ourselves in battery-operated red Christmas lights and got called up to the stage - but it's sometimes entertaining to read about other people's experiences. If they can work any coherent sentences out amongst the gushing, that is. (I might have been obsessed, but I maintained my literary distance in my write-ups, thank you very much!)

In contrast to the 'Shania years', however, I can't think of too many celebs these days that I'd fall all over myself and get 'starstruck' to meet. I like a lot of actors, actresses, singers, bands, et cetera - there are certain names (Heath Ledger, Sandra Bullock, Julia Stiles, Bruce Willis, Drew Barrymore, Leonardo DiCaprio - shut up, all of you! - Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Roberts...) that will draw me to a movie, regardless of what it's about or what the reviews say. But there are only a select handful that I truly love watching, and even those few I don't idolize the way I did Shania back then. (Which is probably a good thing - psychobabble about how that means I've 'grown up' and 'created a personal identity' and all that, right?) After all, acting (or singing, or whatever) is that person's job; it's the way they make their living (ahem - several times over!). Some positions require longer hours, other give better benefits - and some require more public exposure. It's in the job description.

The celebrities that I like the most tend to have a combination of versatile talent and that down-to-earth 'hmm, s/he seems like somebody I'd like to get to know'-factor. Take Paul Bettany, for example. We've seen 'naked medieval writer' and 'almost-washed-up tennis player', and are about to see 'self-mutilating albino religious zealot' in the upcoming The da Vinci Code - and yet he still just seems like this laid-back guy you'd want to go have a beer with. Same with Keira Knightley: she's my age, had the guts to hack her hair off mega-short (I always notice that on women; it says 'confidence' to me) and also did this hilarious unscripted Pirates of the Caribbean DVD narration, much of which had me rolling on the floor. (*English accent* "Why does my eyebrow do that?") And then, Johnny Depp - probably at the top of my short celebrity list - who could probably play a space alien without the costume and be convincing - and who is raising his children to be bilingual, lives in Europe, and shares my, er, lackluster patriotism. ("I love America, but I'm ashamed to be an American.") Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman make my cut as well.

So I guess for me to truly be a fan of a celebrity, I have to feel like it's someone I'd want to get to know as a person - and if it's somebody I'd like to get to know, it makes sense that I wouldn't feel tongue-tied or starstruck.

Or maybe I would, and I just don't realize that right now, because I'm sitting here at 2:30 in the morning in a computer- and chocolate-induced haze - on the complete opposite coast from that world of glitz and glamour. Who can tell? (And, really, does it even matter? See, this, this is what a blog is for - dumping out complete and utter wastes of time! *sigh*)

donderdag 4 mei 2006

For once, I've had a day in which I accomplished every single thing I wrote down to do.

1) Take Latin final. It was actually pretty easy, probably because I for some reason woke up, alarmless, at 7:20 after only five hours of sleep and studied until the test at 10. The only thing I messed up were some of the second-declension singular endings - probably because that stuff was two tests ago and I didn't go over it as much as the new stuff - and one or two vocabulary words. But I was able to spit out all six tenses (in all four conjugations) perfectly, plus I had no trouble with the sentence translations or the 'how is this word being used and why' questions. I even think I got both extra credits right. So, on the whole, a good test to go out on.

2) Pick up honor cords. Apparently I'm graduating with high honors instead of just honors... who knew? However, I don't get a different cord for that; just a replica of the same one. So I now have twin orange-and-blue cords - both of which were $13. Spiffy.

3) Sell back all textbooks. Well, except for tiny little 38 Latin Stories, which I'm keeping. I didn't get much for the others - I'd say just under $50 in total, for all 4 books - but do I ever? If I were willing to take the time to sell them on Amazon or go to the Gator Textbooks out at Creekside Mall, I might be able to scrape up a few more bucks - but, you know, I do have a lazy streak.

4) Get complimentary graduate photo taken. In a cap about six sizes too big for me. Getting that thing to stay on was a balancing act, I can tell you. Hope the real one is the right size. But at least I learned how that troublesome little white collar is supposed to go. Renate and I puzzled over that one for days before her graduation; she eventually just took it along in her purse to see how everybody else did it once she got there.

5) Throw out unnecessary papers. I saved a few random Wolof papers, my Spanish presentation text, my three Latin exams, and several things from French, including my compositions, OPI sheets, and exams - but everything else bit the dust this morning. Can't say I was sad to see it go. I am sorry that I put in a semester of work on Wolof that I'm now going to completely forget in a matter of weeks, simply because I'm never going to use it again - but hey, it was an experience.

6) Buy milk. And salad, and almonds, and Chex Mix, and malted milk balls. Yeah, I was hungry. I thought I could make it through two-and-a-half days without milk and salad, but those are two dietary staples of mine that I find it hard to get along without. But I can drink a half gallon of milk in two days with no problem at all - half of it's gone already, and it's only been in the house five hours or so.

7) Take a nap. Because I only slept five hours last night. I was re-watching The Chronicles of Narnia when my head started to nod, so I happily crawled under the covers - again, blissfully alarmless - and slept for a couple of hours.

8) Go to Southwest Rec. For, um, probably the third time in four years. You wouldn't think it, with someone as active as I am, but I really did not take full advantage of the gym facilities here, and I should have. SW Rec is amazing - huge and clean and with everything you could possibly imagine: ellipticals, treadmills, weights and machines of all shapes and sizes, a rock climbing wall, numerous basketball courts, six sand volleyball courts, soccer and Ultimate Frisbee fields... it made me a little sad that I didn't make more of an effort as a junior, and especially as a freshman. (As a sophomore I was abroad.) But then again, if that's my biggest regret to come out of these four years? Then I'm doing pretty darn well.

woensdag 3 mei 2006

Sooo, I'm back in Gainesville for a couple of days - my last couple of days. I had my French final this evening (easy A) and will have to take my Latin final (difficult) at ten tomorrow morning, but after that I am well and truly done with this school. Well, except for that loooong walk across the stage on Saturday. But I'm 'done enough' that I felt only slightly awkward going ahead and putting my Alumni license plate frame on my car. :)

Anyway, I've had a nice, relaxing few days. I went to the Ichetucknee with some swim teammates, hung out with my sister, swam with my Jacksonville Masters team, got hooked up with my two-week free YMCA membership, visited the Apple store (twice), sent out my graduation announcements, downloaded The Chronicles of Narnia (good movie), read a new Jodi Picoult book, got my hair cut, persuaded my sister to get her hair cut (just above shoulder-length), built the temporary Club Alligator website, paid my Key West entry fee, re-watched The Interpreter and Wimbledon, and - dare I say it - got to sleep in a few times. The only thing that was somewhat work-like was my online French assignments (the usual 50-some-odd exercises - 56, in this case) which were due today. I did the 27 written assignments more or less properly, but then I had to knock off the last 39 (all listening and video) exercises this morning, so I just typed pure gibberish. And I mean literal gibberish, banging haphazardly on the keys - she only checks to see if there's a cute little check mark next to the assignment, not what we actually typed. And even if she does, it's only a portion of the 'homework' 10% of our grade, which includes all 5 other online chapters as well as allllll the written homework we've had to turn in this semester... so I can't see it hurting me too badly, either way.

Anyway, so tomorrow I have to take my Latin final and then take care of some 'business' - selling back my books, picking up my honor cords, and getting the complimentary 'cap and gown photo' taken. I have nothing to do tomorrow afternoon or all day Friday, so it's probably going to be spent swimming, lifting weights in Southwest Rec, eating the rest of my food (some of which Monique already, er, helped me out with) and - of course - playing on the computer.

Speaking of computers, I broached the subject with Dad about my wanting a Mac and he got really upset with me. Apparently he had a recent bad experience with a colleague's Mac and now insists I shouldn't get one because of compatibility issues. ("98% of the computing world uses Windows!") But the thing is, unless the Mac site is out-and-out lying, their new, Intel-chip-equipped Macs have almost no issues with compatibility. They can't write to PC-formatted external drives yet, true, but they can read them, and (as we've already established) they come with the entire iLife suite, which includes Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint as well as all the specialty programs for video editing, photo organizing, etc. The only thing I'd be lacking is Photoshop, and I don't mind buying one extra program. I think what Dad isn't grasping is that he is a professional video director, while I am a college student. Our needs are in no way the same. He needs complicated programs, lots of external equipment, and office/colleague computers that work the same way as his own. I, on the other hand, am the only one who ever uses my computer, and I use it almost exclusively for e-mail, Internet browsing, Word documents, music and movie playback, and photo organization. I do the occasional bit of graphic design for a webpage, and use the occasional Excel file for a chart, but on the whole, all I really need is a browser, Office suite, and media player - which means I can come down on either side of the fence and have my needs met. And since the Macs seem better-organized and more user-friendly, without as many potential points of confusion as my PC, that's the direction I'm leaning in. (And, yeah, I gotta admit - the interface is pretty gorgeous, too.)

And that 13" widescreen MacBook? Will be out within this month. I should know by that point if that's the model I need to go with or if there'll be a smaller one coming next quarter (back-to-school quarter). We'll see. But anyway, if anybody wants to share their PC-versus-Mac experiences in comments, go right ahead. Maybe there's something I'm missing.

Anyway, I suppose I should really be studying for Latin right now, seeing as I have an exam in less than 10 hours and I have looked at absolutely no material since, um, our quiz last Wednesday.

But first, a shower.

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