Monday, October 31, 2005

Monsters And Such

In honor of Halloween, I have decided to post my Halloween poem. Some of you are probably quite tired of it by now, since I used to email it out every Halloween, but that's why I'm posting it here rather than inflicting it on your in-boxes. If you've read it before, bear with me; if you haven't, you can still bear with me. It might not actually be as good as I remember it. :) The story behind this is that I wrote it in response to an assignment over the Halloween weekend in my 11th grade English class. The assignment was to write a short scary story titled "Monsters and Such." I could not for the life of me write a scary story, but this poem came up from nowhere and sort of wrote itself, so I turned it in instead. I think I creeped everybody out pretty well, and ended up getting an A, even though I didn't actually address the assignment. :P Happy Halloween, eight years later!

Monsters and Such

I’ll tell you a story of which the dead boast,
of ghouls and demons, of witches and ghosts
who creep into closets in the black of the night,
and fill little children with horrible fright.

These ghosts, with their vengeful spirits afire,
with hearts full of malice, bloodlust, desire;
These are what’s under the bed of your youngest.
One waits for bedtime, and then out he lunges!

He carries the child in arms made of mist,
and whispers through lips that the Devil has kissed,
“Heaven be damned, you’re in my power now.
To Satan, the King of all Hell you shall bow.”

Through Hades the innocent youngster is borne.
He sees all the people whose lives have been torn
now cowering in misery, fear, constant fright,
with hellfire and brimstones as their only light.

Souls that have sinned, and those that are damned,
all serving the Devil in this barren land.
Their decaying bodies rotting down to the bone
cause a stench no one wants to admit as his own.

As the young boy feels his stomach grow weaker,
he locks eye to eye with the deadly Grim Reaper.
The long bloody scythe held high in his hand,
the child knows he will never escape from this land.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Officially Large

Paul brought over his bathroom scale this afternoon and weighed Alice. She clocks in at 16.6 pounds. I think that qualifies her as large. :} I've been thinking I need to get her a little harness and leash and take her out for walks, but now that it's getting cold and rainy and wet outside, I don't think she'd really go for it. Plus, I'd have to carry her up and down five flights of stairs, and I don't think I'd really go for that. :P

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I Prefer Solid-State Midterms

Well, I think I just finished the take-home midterm for my archaeology class. But you never can tell. That midterm was like a gas -- it just kept expanding to fill every last minute of time I had available, and I couldn't figure out how to keep it contained and put a time limit on it. I guess I'm really bad at budgeting time for papers, which is probably why I really don't like take-home midterms. I wrote this one in a very odd manner as well, jumping back and forth between the three questions every twenty minutes or so rather than answering them one at a time in a logical fashion. It was very strange, but that's apparently the way my brain has been working the last couple of days, so that's the way it went. I ended up about 200 words over the word limit (hey, I hit the grad student word limit - I think they actually have it easier!), and he says he's really strict about that, so I'll probably try to shave it a bit more tomorrow, but I don't see how I can take much more out and still have it mean anything; 1000 words for three hefty questions isn't much!

I'm going to have a nice break from all this schoolwork tomorrow afternoon; I'm taking my friend Diana to see the Corpse Bride for her birthday (which was last week), and then we'll go to dinner and catch up on all sorts of gossip. I'm supposed to go to a Halloween party on Saturday, but it's all the way out in far-away Southeast Portland, very hard to get to by bus, and I'd rather not trust anybody else to get me home, so I'm not sure how that's going to work. Plus, I don't have a costume! I did pick up some fabulous horns at the pumpkin patch on Monday - twisted pumpkin stems that had broken off and dried on the ground - but I don't have a costume to go with them. Any suggestions out there?

Other than that, I'll be hitting the books most of the weekend, preparing for my two midterms on Tuesday (fortunately both in-class, with definite time limits). But right now I have to give Alice a good brush and play with her for a while, since she's been neglected all day in favor of my midterm, and she's been yowling at me and tugging on her string toy for the last half-hour.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Is it just me, or does this really not make any sense?

I really don't approve of the textbook chosen for my human variation class. First of all, it has the dark mark on the cover, which is a very bad omen for the term. Second of all, it is extremely dense, with small print, and the figures are printed in tri-color - black and two shades of blue. Unfortunately, most of the time it's really hard to distinguish between the black and the darker blue, so it can be a real pain to decipher the figures (even if they were understandable to begin with, which most of them aren't). Thirdly, the level of this textbook is far far too advanced for this class and assumes that we know things about statistics and genetics and all sorts of things that are not prerequisites for the class, which makes it very difficult to understand. As an example, take these two sentences from the chapter I'm currently reading ("Processes Shaping Evolutionary Diversity"):

"The harmonic mean is the reciprocal of the mean of the reciprocals: {some long and complicated calculation} for t generations. In practice, this means that the effective population size is disproportionately affected by the smaller population sizes."

Does that make any sense to you?

The midterm for this class is November 1, at 8:00 in the morning (I think it's safe to say that I'm not going to be doing anything exciting for Halloween). This particular professor writes absolutely evil exams. And she told us last Tuesday that she's not going to be providing us a study guide for the exam -- she's going to allow us the privilege of making our own. Isn't that nice of her? Man, I was soooo looking forward to getting that study guide! She is going to allow us to bring a "cheat sheet" to the exam, which is nice, but I would have by far preferred a study guide and no cheat sheet. Sigh. I suppose I'll live. At least midterms mean the quarter is about halfway over (yikes!). :}

Saturday, October 15, 2005


This afternoon I went out to the garden for the work party I had marked on my calendar. Unfortunately, I was mistaken in the date, and it's actually tomorrow. But Paul was there as well (because I'd told him it was today), so we went ahead and worked on our plot for a few hours. We harvested everything that was harvestable, then pulled up and churned under all of the annuals to make way for winter crops. We ended up with 11.6 pounds of green tomatoes and a whole armful of sunflowers, which are now in various vases and jars all over my coffee table -- it's wonderful. :) We left the lettuces and spinach and chard and peas and onions, but other than that the plot is ready for winter crops. I was expecting to be sort of sad after we took everything out, to feel like the plot looked naked and bare after its beautiful summer glory, but it really wasn't that way at all. It felt more like it was just gorgeous rich, moist, dark earth, ready and waiting for the next adventure to be planted. It felt good, and it's nice to feel part of the cycle. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all these tomatoes.... :P

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Miracle Shoes Let Me Get Sore

Boy, am I sore today! I went running with John on Monday night, and I'm definitely feeling it! We ran on the Nike field on campus rather than on the streets, and it was actually much nicer than I expected. I mean, I knew the surface would be better than asphalt (it's made of recycled Nike shoes, so it's nice and cushy, and, as a special bonus, it doesn't get muddy when it's wet! :), but I always think it's boring to run around in circles in the same place. But I guess it helps to run with somebody so you can keep a conversation going - and it's nice for me to have somebody count laps, since I seem to be incapable of counting when I run. :P Another thing that was different about the run was the pace. First of all, John's legs are about twice as long as mine, but he generally does a good job of pacing with me. But what was different was that, when I street run, I usually just run at whatever pace is comfortable, maybe go up and down some hills (I like hills), but generally keep to a steady trot and don't really push myself too hard. Well, after we'd run about 4 or 5 or maybe 6 laps (not only can I not count laps, I can't remember how many I've done even if I know!), John said, "Okay, now let's step it up and run at 150% of our current pace." So we went a bit faster for the next lap. When that was over, he said, "Alright, now 150% of this pace" and I had to stretch my stride about as far as it would go to stay in stride with him. We only went one length of the field at that pace, but that was certainly enough! And it was only about 3/4 of his full stride length. Sigh. :P But it was really good to have somebody to push me like that, and get me out of my comfort zone a bit. After the run we did handstands and cartwheels on the field for a while, which is becoming a fun after-run cool-down tradition.

Anyway, back on to being sore. What is unusual about this particular soreness is the fact that it's not my shins that are sore. It's my glutes and quads. That is absolutely thrilling, and I am not exaggerating. I have no pain in my shins, whatsoever. I have been so used to running until my shins hurt, and letting that tell me when to stop, that it's a real shift to not having to worry about that. My shins are no longer the limiting factor in my running, at least for the fitness level I am at right now, and I can run to the point where other parts of my body get sore the next day. I think I'm going to write to Brooks and tell them they make miracle shoes. :)

On a completely different note, and because I can't seem to complete a post without somehow mentioning food, I had a marvelous dinner tonight. The first quintessentially autumn dinner of the year: leek and potato soup with freshly baked bread. I didn't exactly pick the best day for it (that would be a brisk, crisp, cold grey autumn day, and this was a gorgeously cool, sunny and bright autumn day), but boy! was it delicious! :)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Two of my Favorite Things

Those would be food and dancing. :) And they're made even more enjoyable when I get to share them with fun people. I had a wonderful little dinner party last night. John, Jan, Mitch and Althea came over and we made pizza and salad and garlic bread, and had two fabulously chocolatey desserts to top it off (Antonia's chocolate revel bars were a hit). During the course of dinner we discovered that two of Jan, Althea and Mitch's professors at Reed are people I know from morris dancing, and that Althea had been to the Christmas Revels last year and seen me there. Fun connections.

After a delicious and fun-filled dinner (and dessert!) Jan, Mitch and I went swing dancing. (Unfortunately, John had to work and Althea was feeling under the weather.) The band was the West Coast Rhythm Kings, and they were great. One of the singers was also a tap dancer, so there were a couple of tap dancing interludes during the night, which were a kick to watch (no, I don't think I'm going to take up tap dancing any time soon, sorry). The guy who throws me around (who shall henceforth be known by his name, Lee) said he would make me a copy of an instructional CD of Balboa moves so I can learn to follow more of the stuff he throws at me. I don't know why he's so set on me learning Balboa, since I've been absolutely abysmal at all of my attempts so far, but he seems to think I can do it. Plus, he just wants a follow who knows the really hard moves he's learned so he can actually do them. :} He also asked if I'd like to do an aerials workshop with him next Sunday -- yikes! I asked if he thought I was up to it, and he said sure! (And besides, you're light so it's easy to throw you around.) It's a little intimidating, but I suppose that since he knows all these moves already, and he's going to be throwing me around anyway, it's probably a good idea to actually go to a workshop to learn how to do my end of things properly. And he said he'd pay for it, since he's the one looking for a partner to take the class, so how can I say no? I'll let you know how it goes. :)

It will be a good thing when I graduate and get a job, so I can help support my increasing cooking and dancing habits... :P

Monday, October 03, 2005

I Knead a Beat

Since I'm relatively on top of my schoolwork so far, and since I managed to borrow a large bowl from John this morning, I designated today a baking day. Hooray! The large bowl was necessary for making bread, the second batch of which is on its second rise at the moment. (The first loaf was a cheater recipe; it didn't actually go through all the rises but sort of did it on its own in the oven. Clever Norwegians.) I put on my Big Bad Voodoo Daddies CD for kneading music for the second batch, and discovered that "Maddest Kind of Love" had the perfect beat for my kneading speed. And since it's a five minute song, it occupied a good portion of my kneading time. Now, if I were very clever (or had a metronome), I'd be able to figure out how many beats per minute I knead at, which would be wonderfully geeky. :)

In other culinary fun (there seems to be a theme in my recent posts....) I went over to my friend Lisa's apartment last night for a small dinner party with two of her other friends (who I had met in the garden previously, and given carrots, which we figured out about two hours into the evening). We made acorn squash soup and chanterelle pizza, which was just fabulous. The plan was to have dinner and then make fig jam, but we never quite got to the fig jam part of the evening because we were having so much fun yakking (mostly about food). But it was fun.

In less exciting, non-culinary news, my first week of classes went well, and I think I'll have a decent quarter. One horrible class (Human Variability), one hard-but-good class (Advanced Topics in Archaeology: Hunter-Gatherers), one medium class (Urban Planning: Environmental Issues) and one relaxing class with a community service component (Meditation for Global Healing). For this class I'll be volunteering at Our House of Portland, a residential facility for people living with advanced AIDS/HIV. I like the people in my group, and I think it should be a good experience. We have an orientation next week, where I'll hopefully figure out what we'll actually be doing.

Other than that, it's been wonderful and cool and rainy since classes started, and I love it! I've been out walking in the rain as much as possible, and people either look at me like I'm crazy or smile at the silly grin on my face, which is usually turned up to enjoy the rain. Mmm, I do love Portland. :)