31 January 2006

Brought to you by the letter 'A'

I think I have determined a potential cause of my body's food rebellion. I noted that I was craving carrots (lots of beta carotene) and mangoes and oranges, and anything fruits or vegetables that are vaguely yellowish. So I looked up "beta carotene deficiency". It said "see Vitamin A deficiency." So I looked that up instead.

Results: dry skin, night blindness, increased susceptibility to infection. I haven't noticed any effect on my night vision, but my skin has been unusually dry for a while now. Also, from the Merck Manual, protein deficiency is an aggravating factor (so is celiac disease, but as I have been gluten-free for several years, this shouldn't be a factor now):

Secondary vitamin A deficiency may be due to inadequate conversion of carotene to vitamin A or to interference with absorption, storage, or transport of vitamin A. Interference with absorption or storage is likely in celiac disease, sprue, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic disease, duodenal bypass, congenital partial obstruction of the jejunum, obstruction of the bile ducts, giardiasis, and cirrhosis. Vitamin A deficiency is common in protein-energy malnutrition (marasmus or kwashiorkor), principally because the diet is deficient but also because vitamin A storage and transport are defective.

Further corroboration from looking up "marasmus" on the same site: "Electrolytes, especially potassium and magnesium, are depleted." I've actually been craving Gatorade lately. Normally I can't stand the stuff. This really sounds like I'm not absorbing nutrients very well at all. But if I was getting gluten-poisoning, I'd be very aware of it (nausea and fatigue are the most pleasant symptoms). So I'm not sure what's going on, unless I've just not been eating the right balance of foods...

So...looks like I'll be eating lots of veggies and meat for a while... also, I've started in on my multi-vitamin again. So maybe in a week or so, my body will stop rebelling. I hope.

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My body has decided that it will no longer recognize many of the items I have been eating regularly as "food." It will recognize them as snacks, but not as proper meals. It's going to be annoying until my mind adjusts. Mainly, my body seems to be insisting that it requires more meat. Dairy products are not enough. Almonds/peanuts/etc. are not enough, however much protein they may have. My body has declared that meat is required. Also, fruits and vegetables. It doesn't seem to want simple carbs, at least not in large quantities (I had to argue it into allowing a piece of GF toast with breakfast). It does want some simple sugars, but prefers them in the form of juices or fruit. *sighs* Basically, if I don't give into its demands, I'm going to go through what I did yesterday all the time (being starved every few hours), so I figure it's better to capitulate.

To that end, I cooked sausage, corn on the cob, and the much-argued toast for breakfast. Sausage and toast isn't unusual, though I haven't been having it at breakfast lately. Corn on the cob is unusual for breakfast. But that gnawing, tunnel-vision inducing hunger is calming down, so hopefully that was enough. What does it feel like? Well, imagine a feeling of emptiness to the point of pain in the stomach region. It's hard to focus on anything else, so intense is the sensation. It's making you dizzy. Your vision blurs in and out unless you concentrate, and concentrating makes you hungrier. Sometimes your vision narrows, seeing only what is directly in front of you. You can't think straight. The closest thing to a coherent thought is "Hungry! Food now!", again, unless you really concentrate, which makes you hungrier. You're so hungry that it's difficult to figure out how to end the hunger. If you're lucky, there's something with you that the body recognizes as food. If not, you need to move quickly, and moving makes you hungrier...

All in all, not pleasant to experience once in a day, let alone twice.

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30 January 2006

A hungry day

All of my classes today were taking tests, so I did not lecture at all. In the morning, I worked on Matrix homework (easier than last weeks), then started reading Kim by Rudyard Kipling (recommended by Fibonacci). Fourteen pages in, I already love the book. When the last student left (at noon; no one took the whole 75 minutes), I was starving, to the point that it would have been a bad idea to drive back to Pocatello without finding food first. So I drove into IF and to the Cantonese place that I know has safe food. I ordered Spicy Hot Diced Chicken with a small order of pork and seeds. Normally, I don't order the pork and seeds, and eat about half of the chicken. Today, I ate 8 of the 10 slices of pork and more than half of the chicken. I have no clue why I've been so hungry. It's getting annoying.

I had a reasonable size dinner (i.e. about what I usually eat), then went to give my evening class's test. When they got done, I was again starving. *sighs* I visited my dad and Ji'e'toh briefly, and went over to see Mom and Grandma (where I stole a banana and discovered there's a literal meaning to "don't bite off more than you can chew."), before coming home to find some more food. I made one of my standby meals: canadian bacon cooked in tomato sauce with lots of red pepper added to a Thai "instant meal" thing that only WinCo carries (since it has no meat, it wouldn't be far wrong to call it gluten-free ramen, but the flavor packets are actually good). Hopefully that will get me through the night *makes a face*. It's annoying being hungry all the time for no reason.

Oh, I've been working on some cards to go along with Fibonacci's game and he stopped by to take a look this evening. He didn't request any major changes, so now I just need to get numeric values on everything. I'll leave it to Fibonacci to divulge the details. It's his game, after all. ;-)

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Doing my morning road report check, I ran across this for I84: " icy patches due to icy patches." Oh, good. I'm glad they're not icy patches due to intense sunlight.

One from yesterday (when I finally watched the new episode of Monk): an anger management therapist gives a yo-yo to Stoddlemeier, "No one can stay mad while he's playing with a yo-yo!" Uh...Lady? While yo-yo's may not have started out as weapons, they could still be used that way. All you'd need is a heavy enough reel (as the article points out, putting a sharp blade on it risks self-mutilation).

I might add more if I think of them later.

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28 January 2006

More Gryphons?

You are a griffin. Overall, you are very noble and

brave. However, you will not act without

reason and that is what allows you to


What Kind of Mythical Animal Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I seem to by in Gryphon mode today... Incidentally, both "griffin" and "gryphon" are correct. But it's a strange creature, so it deserves the 'ph' prounounced as 'f', gosh darn it!

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gryfindor crest
You belong in Gryffindor! You are honest loyal,

brave and true. Not [only] that but you're pretty

smart too! You're in this House along with the

Weasleys, Harry, Nevile, Fred and George,

Lavender Brown, Ginny Weasley, Oliver Wood,

Lee Jordan and Hermione. Your house was

founded by Godric Gyffindor, and your colors

are gold and red.....wear them proudly.

Which Hogwarts House Would You be Put in?? *with pics!*
brought to you by Quizilla

I figured it would either be Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. Just as pleased it's Gryffindor. :-)

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My Left Foot

Stayed home from taiji today. My foot is slowly getting better, but I've found that more than about twenty minutes of taiji makes it start complaining. Not right away, but it will start aching and giving me problems when I walk. Since class is three hours, and roughly two hours is spent on the feet, it seemed like a bad idea.

I still don't know for sure what caused the problem, or the exact nature of the problem, but I've at least deduced the progression:

Sunday - Left knee starts complaining; I realize I'm putting more weight on one side of my feet than the other, correct the problem, knee stops complaining. It is likely that my foot problem had already started, and I was unknowingly compensating by putting less weight on the complaining side.

Tuesday - Not teaching taiji this semester, but I'm helping Melissa. We did lots of leaving the weight on one leg and staying there that day. Mild twinging in my foot that night.

Wednesday - Foot complaining, a LOT. Decided not to wear snow boots on the theory that maybe it was a problem with my arch (and the boots don't have arch support). I have since concluded this was entirely the wrong approach, and that any shoes that compress the feet unevenly are best avoided for now, as my feet got steadily worse through Wednesday (the evening lecture involved me trying not to limp, and keeping most of the weight on my right foot).

Thursday - Much improvement in the morning. Noticed the foot was swollen in that really odd place (just past the heel and in about three quarters of an inch). No major problems. Helped out with taiji again, and my foot was a bit worse in the evening when I lectured.

Friday - Sore again, probably because of helping with the taiji class. Got gradually better. Found that elevating the foot seemed to help.

Today - Somewhat better, but based on the previous week, I've concluded that three hours of taiji will not be beneficial. Twenty minutes might, but not three hours.

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27 January 2006

spring approaches

fractals of branches
fresh growth in vibrant pigments
budlets poking out

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a welcome sight

unexpected snow;
morning delight; childlike joy;
world made new again

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26 January 2006

The hat filled up with stars...

Ah, Terry Pratchett. I just finished A Hat Full of Sky (Amazon) Definitely a good read, and a book that was difficult to find. It's one of his books that gets classified as a children's book. I finally located it in the new Barnes and Noble in IF. Yes, I could have ordered it through Amazon at any time, but unless I have other things to order (and remember to order it with them), there's not much use in it.

One of many things I love about Terry Pratchett is that he understands people, and he understands what real magic is. More importantly, he understands what it isn't.

"And Mrs. Earwig," said Mistress Weatherwax, her voice sinking to a growl, "Mrs. Earwig tells her girls it's about cosmic balances and stars and circles and colors and wands and...and toys, nothing but toys!" She sniffed. "Oh, I daresay they're all very well as decoration, somethin' nice to look at while you're workin', somethin' for show, but the start and finish, the start and finish, is helpin' people when life is on the edge. Even people you don't like. Stars is easy, people is hard."

People are surrounded by real magic. Seeds sprouting up from a nest in the earth. Wind blowing rain and snow and hail. The feel of a single breath, expanding and contracting the body. The voice of a friend over the telephone. But that's not what people think they want.

They think they want miracles. But a miracle in that sense doesn't belong in this world of wonders. If they didn't have blinders on, they'd stop and stare in amazement at a tree, at a beetle, at a heap of sand, at a rotten banana peel. They train themselves not to see, not to be a part of it, not to feel. Kayo Robertson (one of my taiji teacher's teachers) imparted a valuable lesson that now seems obvious. People tense up to try and shout to the world, "This is me! The rest of this is not me!" But try tensing your hand and having someone run a feather or a piece of paper across it. Then try it with the hand relaxed. You can't feel when you're tense. You can't experience what life has to offer. You can only clutch and scream "MINE!" and dread the day your body ceases to function and becomes food for the worms and find that you have no conception of the realm beyond death because you so rigidly opposed your own life.

Hmmm... that turned into quite the rant. So to lighten the mood a bit:

"Well, yes," said Miss Level. "we do what can be done. Mistress Weatherwax said you've got to learn that witchcraft is mostly about doing quite ordinary things."

"And you have to do what she says?" said Tiffany.

"I listen to her advice," said Miss Level coldly.

"Mistress Weatherwax is the head witch, then, is she?"

"Oh no!" said Miss Level, looking shocked. "Witches are all equal. We don't have things like head witches. That's quite against the spirit of witchcraft."

"Oh, I see," said Tiffany.

"Besides," Miss Level added, "Mistress Weatherwax would never allow that sort of thing."

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Health of feet, papers and ads

I woke up starved yesterday, so starved that I actually skipped my morning meditation and taiji practice (as I depart for IF at 8:00, and don't like to practice soon after eating, this killed it for the day). So this morning I woke up with a sore throat... *sighs* Hopefully doing the form three times in a row and drinking some honey/lemon/garlic tea killed the bug off before it could settle in.

Not sure if this is connected or not, but my left foot is swollen and sore in a very odd spot. Where? Well, find the heel. Go out on the left part until you're past the heel. Go in a little ways. That's the center of the problem. So it's not my ankle. Not my arch. Not even my toes. I don't even know if there's any muscle in there. No clue what caused it. It was slightly sore Tuesday evening. Worse Wednesdary morning, and kept getting worse through the day. It's slightly better this morning, and, thankfully, taiji seemed to help rather than aggravate. However, ordinary walking is rather painful at the moment (which means I need to put MORE taiji in my walk. AGAIN).

Amazingly, most of my Matrix homework is done at the moment, and it's not due until 14:30. Why is it done? Mainly because I need to get a test written by 18:00, and it's in Math in Modern Society, so it may take some thought. I've got a good start on it, made last night, but it's too short still (my students probably wouldn't complain about that ;-). I've also got tests to write for 025 and 015, but those are simpler. I'll probably use the practice tests in the book as source material and just shorten it down a bit. And I am definitely going to start introducing MathXL to my 015 students. It helps me (no HW to grade) and gives them a way to practice and get instant feedback. However, that will wait until chapter 2 (I'll make it optional at first, then gradually start requiring more...).

Random Rant: What's up with the new Mythbusters commercials? If you haven't seen them, there's a "sasquatch" with an outrraaaageous Frrrench accent, you see, who is more annoying than anything else. First off, this is a dumb way to advertise a show that's mostly about destroying as many things as possible in the weirdest way possible, and such a commercial will give non-viewers entirely the wrong idea, besides alienating the actual demographic that might be interested in the show. If they need a mascot, they should use Buster (their original crash test dummy). Animate him; have him go over all the stuff that's been done to him (blown up; dropped from balconies; dropped down elevator shafts; set on fire;...). That would give a truer picture of the show. The sasquatch is just...agh.

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25 January 2006


Congrats to Pam and Angus (aka Mike)! Let me add my own, "It's about time!" (Oh, and Angus? If you hurt her, I will personally take a chainsaw to you... *smiles* message brought to you by the psychotic side of me). Oh, they're engaged now, if that wasn't clear. No date yet, but as the engagement only began last Wednesday...that's not really a surprise. Pam's my old roommate, and best friend from high school. She met Angus through SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms), and ditched me (figuratively speaking ;-) to move in with him, oh, about two years ago. Or was it three? Ah well. Not important. Hmmm... now I must begin plotting my engagement and wedding gifts for them... *rubs her hands together gleefully*

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23 January 2006

The Wild Wood

I just finished reading The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint (Amazon). Not as good as some other Charles de Lint books I've read, but still enjoyable. My main complaint is that he gets a bit preachy about environmental issues in a few places. Important, yes, but it doesn't accomplish anything to break the flow of the story to emphasize the point.

It's basically a story of renewal, of bringing new hope to a dying population. Another reason that the preachiness doesn't fit is that the solution used in the book is not one that would be practical for, say, undoing environmental degradation.

De Lint does two things very well, in every book. First, all of his characters feel like real people. There are some tendencies that always show up in at least one character, and that gets a bit obvious after a few books, but the rest of the characters are always fresh. Second, he mixes the magical and the mundane beautifully, so that you're not sure where one begins and the other ends. In Wild Wood, there are "spirit creatures" in the forest. Until they want to be seen, they blend in with the wood around them, and people may see them very differently.

At any rate, with that minor caveat about preachiness, I would recommend this book. But better de Lint books are Someplace to be Flying and Trader.

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Eye of Dragon

No weird dreams to report, but another...amazing...meditation experience. First, a few words about meditation. For me, meditation is a chance to explore my mind. It's like a huge, invisible labyrinth. One day, going in a certain direction yields a dead end. Another day, I somehow have the "key" to open that direction. Lately, I've been going in the direction of decreasing "I"-coordinate (known in math as heading toward the real axis ;-). This is where I find the experience of my body as an observation tower. Today a new element appeared. As I settled into the outside corridor, I had the sensation/visual of a huge eye opening. As soon as it did, the light began to pulsate around me, as if an electric current were running through me. I stayed there a while, maninly because I had no choice. After the sensations settled down, I was able to thread my way back to myself. I wanted to open my eyes while this was happening, but it would have required forcing them open, and force is never a good idea in such matters. I suppose I should ask Don about this one...

(I recently made a discovery about the Taoist meditation he showed me, oh, two years ago. I hesitate to go into too much detail, but on a really good day there's a sensation of incredible warmth down in the lower tan tian, and I found a way to ensure that the warmth appeared. Checked with Don, and he said, yup, he'd found the same thing. :-)

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22 January 2006

Not so magic bullet...

Discovery Channel has a show called "History's Mysteries," that I usually enjoy. Tonight's installment was particularly well done. From my title, you've probably guessed they were examining the Kennedy assassination. Many have done so before them, and many will likely do so after, but this is the best examination I have ever seen. Why? Because it focused only on the hard, physical evidence. The films. The photographs. The recording from a police scanner. The clothes.

Most of the time, analysts wave their hands at the evidence and proclaim, "See! Something's off! It couldn't happen that way!" After that perfunctory statement, they generally go through all of the possible conspirators and why their favorite must be the culprit. This program said, "Let's SEE if it COULD have happened that way." It was beautiful. Computer synthesis of images gave them continuous coverage of the cavalcade, and they used computer modeling to fill in the obscured details when the "second" bullet hit (part of the investigation was whether there were really two bullets at this point).

Then they set about recreating the shot. Ballistics gel models were used at first, but then they moved on to a highly detailed recreation of Kennedy's torso, including bone and muscle tissue. Apparently these recreations are used to test human responses to land-mines. Without going through every detail, they very nearly reproduced the exact shot. The entry and exit wounds on Kennedy were near-perfect. However, the bullet passed through TWO ribs of the senator in front of him, rather than one, and didn't have enough energy to wound the senator's thigh. All in all, this showed the so-called "magic bullet" didn't need to be so magic. Their bullet was somewhat more deformed than the one from the assassination, likely because it hit two ribs instead of one. An earlier test found that a similar bullet could go more than a meter into solid wood without deforming significantly.

Of course, this doesn't prove that there WASN'T a conspiracy. It does indicate that a conspiracy is not necessary to explain events. It is plausible, even likely, that events occurred just as the Warren Report claimed. I think many people prefer the conspiracy theory because it makes them feel safer. A lone madman shouldn't be able to topple the country's leader. It should take more than that, somehow. On the darker side, only someone in a position of power is likely to be targeted by such a conspiracy, so ordinary people are "safe" from it. But a lone madman is a danger to everyone.

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—madness creeping in—
you're not here to drive it out
why—have you gone?

I've no claim on you.
Heart. Breath. Life. Soul. Yours alone.
Is it lonely there?

is there more to you
—hiding there beneath your skin—
do you even know?

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Women, Men, and Puppets

Here comes another random selection of science articles.

First up, there is evidence that ancient humans were hunted by large birds. I find this particularly interesting in light of a recent theory about why so many cultures have a dragon-like creature. The theory (off of a History Channel program, and I can't remember any associated names) suggests that dragons combine all of ancient humanity's greatest threats. Dragons are snakelike, representing the dangers of venomous snakes. Dragons often have catlike mouths, with huge teeth, harkening to felines who grew large enough to pose a threat. And most dragons can fly, and have talons like predatory birds. [For the record, I think there was more to the catlike comparison, but I can't remember what it was]

Also, researchers have finally found evidence that the rise of agriculture DID coincide with a large population boom.

Coming to more modern times, men seem to enjoy watching enemies suffer more than women do. At least, their brains express satisfaction while watching it, while women were more likely to be empathetic. However, this does not tell us whether the reactions would be the same if the punishment actually fit the offensive acts. In this case, the actors played the role of money-scammers. I would feel immense satisfaction at seeing them forced to repay the ill-gotten money, with a bit extra thrown in for deterrence factor.

Then there's something called "raunch culture," and females like me who look at it and say, "Huh?" Essentially, raunch culture has decided that since men are pigs, women might as well be pigs too: dress like strippers; sleep around; pretend they're having fun. Anyone opposing this so-called "funfest" is deemed a "prude." Sorry, gals, but I'd rather be a prude than a joyless idiot trying to out-stereotype men.

And just for fun, parasites may be controlling our brains! Or at least having an affect on them. If this parasite is responsible for some forms of shizophrenia, there may finally be a way to cure it, rather than treat symptoms.

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21 January 2006

Galactic Spider Webs

Not surprisingly, I remember another strange dream (until my sleep cycle shifts again, there'll be lots of these). There was some overarching plot involved, and I think Pocatello had become part of the Galactic Empire (ala Star Wars), though that wasn't particularly relevant except that they'd installed an automated system for delivering mail via train/subway (I vaguely rememeber an argument with someone about whether the Empire was good or bad). I was walking down fourth or fifth (right after they split apart from Yellowstone), and walked across the island there, the one with all the trees. The mail-train ran through there, and there was an odd, spiderweb thing, so the island was wider in the dream than in real life. To get across the island, I had to get across the web. It wasn't an actual spider's web. It was more like a toy that I used to play on in elementary school: four railings supporting a lattice of rope. However, it was much, much larger than that one was, and was inhabited by these wooden...handlike things. They looked like hands insofar as they had a base with fingerlike projections, but the number of fingers varied. I suspect that the older ones had the most fingers. I saw ones with two or three up to ones with six fingers. These would try to grab me if I wasn't careful. Five or fewer fingers I could deal with, and get them off (often by breaking fingers off). Six or more could potentially leave me stuck. There was also an actual spider in the non-spider-web, hunting the finger-beasts. The spider was about eight inches across, and completely ignored me; it was only interested in the finger-beasts.

Changing topics entirely, my mom was extremely surprised by all her birthday surprises. She likes the flower montage over the bed (the bright one with flowers only), and isn't too sure about the other. She also indicated I should have put the mirror higher up on the wall. As I never use a mirror in my bedroom (I comb my hair in the bathroom), this hadn't occurred to me. I had assumed she would want to see herself while sitting down, and so I placed the mirror accordingly. Nope. She wants to see herself while standing up. However, the move will only involve moving the nail up a foot or so.

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20 January 2006

Birthday Mischief

Today's my mom's birthday. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday earlier this week, and she said she'd like to have her cabinets put together and closet rod installed. So, while she was at work, I went over and put the cabinets together (one was a bookcase meant to stack on another bookcase she has, so I also stacked it). I didn't get the closet rod done, mainly because I thought I would need someone to hold it while I attached it. But I didn't stop with the cabinets. Oh, not at all...

I printed out a WHOLE bunch of flowers and cut them out, to make two montages. One is a montage of blossoms only (no stems or leaves; just the flowers). It centers on an 8 inch rose. Nine other flowers in bright, bold colors surround it. This montage is directly over her bed. The other is in more subdued colors, and includes leaves and stems as well as flowers; it's on another wall in her bedroom, directly opposite the doorway. But that still wasn't all.

She's been complaining that she doesn't have a mirror in her bedroom and that she needs to move her dresser over from Dad's house. However, there was a large mirror that was in the house when Grandma bought it, and a little sewing desk (that was at my house, but I traded it for the vanity that Mom didn't want), so I hung the mirror above the desk and turned it into a makeshift dresser. As Mom's room was rather messy, this involved a lot of cleaning up as well (which she may berate me for when she can't find things later...). And there was still more...

I wandered over to the dollar store, looking for simple things to help organize Mom's room. I also found a 12-foot long "SURPRISE!" banner, and hung it prominently, as well as a pillow-case with a rose on it that matched the large rose in the montage perfectly. I wasn't quite sure what to do with the pillow case (it's a zippered square one) until I found Mom's "bag of bags"—plastic grocery bags saved to be used as trash bags. There were plenty to stuff the pillowcase! They do make it a bit crinkly to lie on, but the pillow looks better than the bag-of-bags did.

Oh, and for the more usual birthday stuff, there's a card and a rose in a vase waiting for her upstairs, and the large flower picture I mentioned in a previous post. I didn't hang the picture yet, mainly because I had planned to put it where I wound up putting the mirror. So I'll let Mom decide where she wants it and go from there. I ought to call her soon and find out what kind of birthday cake she wants...
(ADDENDUM: She chose chocolate; it's baking now.)

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Monks and Cats

Another disconnected dream last night.

It begins at some sort of food vendor's stand, in a sort of tent canopy like one you might find at a fair. There are other stands all around. While I'm trying to find out ingredients (so I know if there's anything safe to eat), a small blond woman gets her order, and it's HUGE. 3-5 pancakes, a mound of scrambled eggs and a bunch of sausages and bacon slices. I assume she's ordered for someone else, but she starts right in on it.
The woman turns up dead the next day, and I wonder if she was trying to commit suicide by overeating.
Monk is brought in to investigate, with the rest of the Monk team (Detective Stoddlemeier and the lietenant whose name I never remember). Monk gets drunk, and allows the lieutenant to drink so much that he almost dies from alcohol poisoning, and there's some talk of charging Monk with contributing to the delinquency of a lieutenant, or something like that. Anyway, the last time Monk appears, he's gotten himself stuck in a toilet (yes, I know, even DRUNK this would never happen to Monk, not to mention how he managed to FIT in there in the first place, as only his head was visible) and Stoddlemeier is trying to get him out. Pan out from the bathroom into a large loft.
The loft flickers back and forth between an indoor loft and an outdoor meadow, and suddenly tons of cats start turning up. I'm not sure if we're looking for them, or for one particular cat, or what, but the first one I remember is a gray-striped tabby who looks a bit like Buckwheat (a kitten we gave to some of my cousins when I was in first grade). My mom disagrees. Then Feisty shows up (she was black and white, with a pattern like a mask over her eyes; she died of feline leukemia in 1995). There's another cat with almost red fur, and some others that I don't fully remember. Then Tiger shows up. Tiger was Buckwheat's sister. She disappeared many many years ago. She was a beautiful calico. In the dream, she is in horrible shape. There is a huge...gap? wound?...in her belly, making her bones and internal organs all visible, but graying and dusty. Yet she's still alive. My mom says that Tiger has been showing up off and on, and has been drinking milk...

This is one of the odder dreams I've been able to remember... The part with Tiger is just disturbing.

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I Tell You Now

As part of my morning reading selection, I've recently added a book called I Tell You Now ( Amazon). It's a collection of autobiographical essays by Native Americans. I have now read five of the essays, and they have all been extremely impressive, interesting, and distinct from one another. This morning I found a particularly beautiful passage written by Carter Revard. He is described (and describes himself) as Osage, which is a name I haven't run across before. Here is an excerpt from Walking Among the Stars :

[T]here was a mockingbird singing out in the catalpa just past our back yard, in the alley, and I got to wondering about a bird that would sing loudly at night when the owls would be just hunting by ear for such prey, and this began to get together with the black hole thing, the way something in us sings or shines out for the strangers, friend and foe, though in theory it is not possible. So I was thinking too that it is not only people who are so in the dark to each other, but people and rocks, clouds, trees, birds, and creatures, and of how the memories in us both stay and go the way water stays and goes in a beaverpond, the fish in it like our strange unseen theories and perceptions and memories, time flowing on through the dam of molecules in our brain and our "self" drifting there for a while. And how dangerous it is to let out the energy, how at risk we are if we do sing to the owls, like the mockingbirds.

One of the interesting things about this collection of essays is that it is not exactly the norm to talk about oneself in most Native American cultures. In fact, it is more the norm not to do so, lest you sound boastful. The people who put the volume together realized this when they requested these authors to write for it, and so took a very open view of "autobiographical." The piece from Carter Revard is more a series of vignettes from his early life, and thoughts on them. He has sentences worthy of Dickens and descriptions worthy of Walt Whitman, and a flavor all his own. (Though I don't recommend reading him when you have a headache, as those long sentences don't help any. ;-)

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19 January 2006

More Dreams (or Angels that live in Doors...)

A very disconnected dream. It begins in a parking lot. I'm meeting my mom there, and she's just come out of the wrong restaurant, which means she's already eaten and the plan was for us to find some place to eat together. The restaurant, despite being rather brown and plain, is a McDonald's. I indicate that there's no way I can go shopping with her until I've had some food, and McDonald's has nothing I can eat. So in a fit of remorse she gives me two ten dollar bills so that I can find some food at the next building over (which is identical to the McDonald's building). It's a Chinese place, and I've eaten there before.

I go inside. It's rather dark and crowded. There are two cashiers, but only one of them seems interested in taking orders and there's a huge line. The other just gives me bored looks.


It's no longer a restaurant. It's the main room of some unnamed aristocratic family, and I'm no longer in it, but watching it on TV. The camera pans around the room, and the commenter notes various antiques and relics (C.S. Lewis somehow comes into the commentary), before stopping on a carving of an angel in a redwood door. It is a very detailed carving, as of a classical painting. The angel has a lyre or similar instrument. Also, the angel can talk and move, and give advice/orders/etc. to the family who controls the room. Reference is made to another, similar, angel-door controlled by a rival aristocratic family. This angel is said to be carved in black mahogany, and the family who controls the red angel-door is rather disgusted and dismissive of it. There are two buildings shown repeatedly (presumably the primary residences of the two rival families). One is a tall, circular skyrise, with at least 10 stories and probably more. I think this is the home of the red angel-door. The other is dark and square and brooding, and is at least 20 stories; presumably this is the home of the black angel-door.

The television show talks about the battles for power between the two families. Since open warfare in the streets is forbidden, they take power by occupying territory. Any territory they can find. The usual method of doing so is to park vehicles in every available bit of street around an area. The one who occupies the most territory gets the most votes in Parliament (or some similar body) and can control the country.

I think the last scene I remember is set in the room housing the black angel-door. It is nearly identical to the room with the red angel-door, but all the wood is black mahogany and there is very little light. The black angel morphs into Johnny Depp for a brief moment before my heart starts beating insanely quickly. DIT-DIT-DIT, pause, DIT-DIT-DIT, pause. A moment later, the alarm goes off in the exact same pattern and wakes me up.

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17 January 2006

Time Management

*sigh* I forgot about the Matrix Analysis assignment that's due today until last night, when I figured I would spend the next morning (i.e. today) working on it...only to discover I had left my notebook and text-copy at my office. So...I got here earlier than planned. It took about 3 hours (much of it muttering to myself and relearning much I had forgottena bout matrices), but it's (essentially) done now. One problem is entirely handwavey, but Dr. Hill doesn't grade every problem, so I'm hoping that one gets skipped. On the bright side, everyone else seems to have sweated over the thing all weekend and were finishing it this morning. I got slightly shocked looks when I said I'd started at 10 this morning. (Well, I did a bit of prelim work in lecture on Thursday; Dr. Hill has a tendency to ramble on and I have a tendency to ignore him while he rambles).

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16 January 2006


Diggers is the second book in the Bromeliad trilogy. Also quite enjoyable. I'll try my hand at summarizing it:

Diggers: wherein the non-leaders depart, leaving leaders behind with less skill, looking for the ship of their ancestors; many divers alarums, with invading giants and many flashing lights; also, the strange matter of the frogs.

Excerpt (after the nomes have stolen a steamshovel and used it to run over a truck):

Dorcas was really unhappy about this.

"You're killing a truck," he said.

"Don't be silly," said Grimma. "It's a machine. Just bits of metal."

"Yes, but someone made it," said Dorcas. "They must be very hard to make. I hate destroying things that are hard to make."

"They ran over Nisodemus," said Grimma. "And when we used to live in a hole, nomes were always being squashed by cars."

"Yes, but nomes aren't hard to make," said Dorcas. "You just need other nomes."

"You're weird."

Big John struck again. One of the truck's headlights exploded. Dorcas winced.

UPDATE: Just finished the third and final book: Wings. Summary: much flying about with the grandson of a Deity, to find another deity who "makes the sky"; much more about frogs; first (and last) contact. *grins*

Terry Pratchett's books are always quick reads, especially when I've got the day off!

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First, a large set of giant animals terrorizing the globe! There are eleven pages with four images each, and it seemed like they got sillier the further along I got. Like, the first page looks semi-realistic. Then there's one page with a giant cookie monster using the Capitol building as a cookier jar. My two favorites are below:

Only obscurely related, I had an...amazing...meditation session this morning. It's not easy to describe. If it were in a movie, there would be all these switching between normal image and negative image with flashing lights, but that would be both too much and not enough. It was as if I stepped outside the door inside my body, leaving my body transparent and open. Like my body was a window, or an observation room, and "I" stepped into the hallway leading to it. Only "I" didn't have much meaning in that state. It was a word. There was awareness of its usual meaning, and it made no sense. *pauses* That's about as close as I can come to putting it in words. Transparent.

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15 January 2006


Just finished a Terry Pratchett book NOT set in the Discworld. Good Omens is the only other Pratchett book I've read that isn't Discworld, and he coauthored it with Neil Gaiman. This "new" book is called Truckers. It's not really new, as it was released in 1989, but it's new to me and I think this is the first time the whole Bromeliad trilogy has been released in a single volume.

Anyway, it's about gnomes trying to cope in the human world. Much of the plot could be summed up as: "Imagine Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but Ford and Arthur decide to rescue all the humans on earth before the earth blows up; to make things more complicated, most of the people of earth don't believe anything exists Outside of earth and (of course) don't see why they should leave anyway." No, the earth doesn't get blown up. But try telling that to gnomes who've lived in the Store for several generations! :-)

As most Pratchett books are, Truckers is a lot of fun even while it explores more serious themes. My only complaint is more of a wistful thought: This would make a wonderful graphic novel if you found the right artist!

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14 January 2006

Playing with the template


Don't mind me. I'm just trying to make this place a bit less cramped, and it seems I may need to widen the "parchment" background. Hence I'm uploading a wider version.

UPDATE: Wow. I got it to work on nearly the first try! (Not quite the first try, because there were multiple things that needed widening, and I didn't realize it...) I also played around with the link colors. It looks okay on my computer. If it looks horrid on yours, feel free to let me know.

Just trying a different background to see if I like it better...

UPDATE^3: I decided the new background was a bit too dark, so I lightened it. By the highly technical method of opening it in paint, sucking up the lightest color present, and using the spray-paint tool over everything. If it looks horrid, I'll go back to the original, darker version. (Hmmm... I do like the lighter colors, but my shoddy lightening job has made the repeats obvious...so I may play around and see if I can find a more uniform way to lighten the image...)

UPDATE^4: Okay, this time I lightened it using PrintMaster's brightness adjuster. We'll see if it works better in a moment... (One annoying thing about PrintMaster's graphic editor: it does something wrong when it saves anything as a jpeg. Blogger doesn't load bmp's very well, so then I have to open the bmp in paint and change it to jpeg. *sighs*)

UPDATE^5: YAY! It's now light enough that the text is easy to read, and I can't easily pick out the repeats. No guarantees, but I'll probably leave the background alone for a while now. :-)

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Flowers, Eggs and Bows

(not necessarily in that order)

My sleep cycle has shifted so that I'm usually in REM when my alarm goes off, so I'm remembering more dreams than usual. Last night's installment was rather random. Fibonacci and his roommate were on a journey and stopped at a hotel. It was Fibonacci's birthday, so he opened a box of hard-boiled eggs. I think bad winter weather had stranded them at the hotel, which is odd since Fibonacci's birthday is not in the winter. Then I was talking to Theresa (one of the math grad students) in a big, fancy hall. A huge marble stairway was behind us. Red carpets here and there and everywhere. We were trying to get two new Asian grad students (faces not familiar, presumably made up in dreamland) to bow down as Barbra Streisand came down the stairs, ala Hello Dolly. One of them prostrated himself completely. The other just kept looking at us like we were nuts. I don't blame him.

Now for the flowers. My mom's birthday is this week, and I found a rather large (maybe two feet by two feet) painting of flowers for her. Her room at Grandma's house needs some color... I might go over there while she's at work one day and put a ton of flower printouts up for her as well. *grins* She'll probably take most of them down (or make me take most of them down), but it will be entertaining.

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13 January 2006

Intertwined Dreams

Last night, I had a series of somewhat related dreams**. They began with a sort of opening sequence, where two identical women represented the two segments of the coming dreams. One woman was dressed more or less normally. The other was in a grey body-suit. I suppose the one in the body-suit represented the vampiric aspect, but I'm not really sure.

I. Carnival

I was sitting in an auditorium with plush red seats. There was an awards ceremony going on. I'm pretty sure I started out behind a black woman (in a white dress) that I knew had been targeted by a vampire (who looked like the guy who played Dracula in Buffy, s5). I couldn't see the holes in her neck from where I was, but I knew they were there. *flicker* Somehow I'm sitting next to her now, and the two of us are being called to the front to receive some sort of award. I'm inclined not to go, but the vampire is there looking menacingly at us, so we head down to the front. Our awards are sitting on a two-tiered, round glass table, but the artificial roses aren't for us (as a disembodied Michael-Crawford-Phantom-voice tells us). There's another rose that's been smashed that we're allowed to take. We're supposed to dance for the crowd before we can go back (as I can't dance, this is rather laughable). The main thing of interest is that we are inverses: she's got dark skin and a white dress. I've got white skin and I'm all in black, but for some reason I have a white hat.


The black woman goes home and finds a new table in her house. It's white. It's scrawled all over with desperate pleas and ramblings about blood. The writing appears to be red and black crayon. She knows that if she gets rid of the table, something bad will happen.


II. The Compound

Next I find myself outside the auditorium. I know that we're in a huge complex with lots of levels and locations. A bus system runs through them all. For no known reason, I need to get to Level E, the topmost level and the one furthest from our current location. Pam is with me. We both know that the buses stopped running five minutes ago, so we're going to have to walk/run. We start up a hill. As we get to the top, we see a building and hear a sound that indicates a bus might be nearby (actually, it sounded more like a train, but it was a dream). We go into the building to work our way through and see someone that we assume is the driver. When we try to speak to him, he runs off. He didn't look very healthy; his body was wasted and his eyes were worse than bloodshot. We hear the bus (or whatever) leaving and rush to try and catch it. Then we notice all the bugs. The wooden floor is covered with them. It's impossible to take a step without crushing some. In the dream this made perfect sense, as there were areas in the compound that were forbidden and dangerous. We rush out of the building, but the bugs have spread beyond it. They aren't as thick outside. We rush back to the hill we'd climbed up. All the way down it, the bugs are scattered with an average of 4-5 inches between them. Pam tries to avoid stepping on any of them as she scrambles down. I figure that they're bugs, and if I land on a few (I know I squashed at least one tarantula/scorpion thing), so be it.

Once we're down, we look for an alternate route. A bus shows up, but it's not at the platform where the bus-stop is, and it's driving like it's got a mind of its own (think Ron's car in Prisoner of Azkaban). It goes up a very steep concrete ramp. Pam and I rush up the ramp, hoping to still catch the bus to get to level E (whatever that is). Then I wake up.

**I suppose for most people such a dream would be labelled a "nightmare," but I wasn't afraid at any point in the dream. I wasn't pleased to realize we were in a forbidden shack full of bugs, but I wasn't scared. And in the first segment, I got the idea I was there to observe the vampire. *shrugs*

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12 January 2006


Well, Okay, that's it. My last four or five posts have started with well and it's beginning to look like I'm obsessed with holes dug in the ground. So the next time I type "Well" as my opening word, someone should track me down and take a meat cleaver to my left fingers. Sorry, can't let you have my right fingers, as they are needed to write lecture notes on the board. However, two of the three letter in "well" are typed with the left hand, so this should have an effect.

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Well, my dream wasn't nearly as interesting as kate's dream, at least partially because I only remember one snippet, but it was odd enough I thought I'd post it.

I picked up a miniature tree, some sort of evergreen. There may have been a Monopoly board involved. Anyway, this tree was about the size of my hand and I was trying to show it to my mom, because I'd suddenly noticed there was a tiny owl perching in the branches. The owl was about the size of the end of my pinky finger, and it was definitely alive. Just before my mom came over to see it, it woke up and flew off. Cute little thing. Too bad I don't remember any more of the context. :-)

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11 January 2006

First week back

Well, I rather like my incredibly bizarre schedule this term. Why? Because it's Wednesday and I have only one lecture left to give this week. When the math center opens, I'll be spending two hours there tomorrow as well, but I don't really count time spent there as "work." I've decided that I much, MUCH prefer having MW or TTh classes. Yes, techincally I spend the same amount of time lecturing if it's a MWF class, but it feels like more work. Right now, I give 8 lectures per week. If all the classes were MWF, I'd be giving 12 lectures per week. Shorter lectures, but it still feels like more work.

Of the 39 people registered for my 025 class, 9 have now found their way to the mathXL web-site to register and do homework. Since they've only had two days to work on it, this is a pretty good result. I had one guy who had registered to the site but somehow not selected my class section, and said he couldn't find any assigned homework. After class, we figured out that was the problem and got him in. I need to spend some time looking over the HW. I copied Cathi Kunicki's class (she writes the finals, so that seemed reasonable), but I might want to add in a few problems here and there.

Math 015... well, it's interesting. We went through addition today. No real problems there. Got to subtraction. No problems if both numbers were positive. I was surprised to realize that many of them did not know that "minus a minus makes plus." They were very confused about that subtraction rule. For anyone else teaching, I found a good way to show them why it works that way. I started with a thermometer diagram, but anything with a number line would work. If we look at the picture, at say 20 degrees Fahrenheit and -10 degrees Fahrenheit, and count the number of units between, we get 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and subtraction finds the "difference between" the two numbers. So 20-(-10) must be 30. I figured out that diagram scheme late in the 9:30 class, after they raised many many questions. I used it early on in the 11:00 class, and had many fewer questions. It's possible that the 11:00 class is just less talkative, but I was still encouraged.

Math 123...Math in Modern Society...may actually be a lot of fun to teach. The topics are nearly random and vary widely, and the group of students seems to be quite enthusiastic. Of course, partly they were laughing at me and the mistakes on my syllabus (to be fixed tomorrow and they'll get NEW syllabi), but there was a feel of positive energy and I LIKE that in a class. I've taught some classes where I felt like I was fighting them every step of the way, and that's not much fun. Anyway, that's the one lecture I have left for this week. We're looking at schemes for counting votes at the moment.

And I'm not sure if it's the commute to IF or what, but both Monday and this afternoon I was very tired. Monday I just drank some tea and moved on. Today I decided to take a nap. It was 14:30. I didn't need to be anywhere until 17:45, so I didn't bother to set an alarm and expected to sleep for maybe an hour. I woke up at 17:00, and barely had time to heat up some food before leaving. So in future I will set some sort of alarm...

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10 January 2006

Hunger is the Mother of Invention

Well, I have an evening class from 18:00 to 19:15, and didn't have time to eat beforehand. So I was starving when I got through. I had put some chicken in the sink to thaw, but I was really craving vegetables so I made a Fred Meyer run and grabbed quick-to-prepare veggies: baby carrots, sugarsnap peas, mixed green/yellow beans. I wanted sweet and sour without making a big batch of sauce, so I added lemon juice and honey to the oil in the pan (which held a generous smattering of sesame oil), and put the chicken in to cook while the rice boiled. When the rice got done, I threw the vegetables in with the chicken (should have put the beans in earlier, but oh well), added a can of pineapple chunks, and let it simmer while the rice sat. It turned out to be quite, quite tasty. The beans were a bit under done, but not too bad. And I should have added more liquid at the beginning, as the honey/lemon/oil started to blacken, but for a spur of the moment dish, it turned out amazingly well. (Oh, I added a bit of cardamom, coriander and red pepper to the honey/lemon/oil as well)

So, overall recipe:
Take some chicken tenders. Salt (or not if you prefer). Heat some oil in a skillet with a lid (for best flavor include some sesame oil). Add spices of choice, lemon juice, and honey. Add chicken and cover. Start rice cooking (white rice only takes 20 minutes). Turn chicken occasionally, adding more liquid if necessary. About the time the rice gets done, throw veggies and pineapple in with the chicken (including the juice from the pineapple) and cover. Stir around to coat everything. Let simmer for ten to fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve mixture in a bowl with rice.

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09 January 2006

This evening

grandma couldn't breathe so they
drained her lungs—again

humming tuneless tune
storage for dead flow'rs gives cold
comfort to the sick

empty gift shop sleeps
no more empty now than when
awake and feeding

headlights pass
nobody I know
still waiting

car drives up
mom arrives at last
time to go

Grandma's fine now. Tired, but alert. They didn't have to put her under anesthesia, so she shouldn't have the problems she did after Blackfoot.

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lacking a whistle
the teapot vibrates and sings:
a struck gong boiling

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07 January 2006

Random Acts of Science

Okay, so it's more Random Articles of Science, but that just doesn't have the same ring for a title. Anyway, I've kept it brief. Four articles with no obvious connections to one another except that I found them all interesting.

Act I: Fairy Tale Physics
This is quite amusing, though it comes across as "Mythbusters aimed at children." However, anything that increases scientific interest is okay in my book.

Act II: Warp Drive, Mr. Sulu
A group in Germany has published a paper claiming to have found a way to travel faster than light. It uses some unconfirmed ideas (like dark energy). The link is to a summary of the paper, but it links to the full thing. I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing yet. It would be neat if it pans out.

Act III: Talking to Whales
Data suggests that whales in different parts of the world may "speak" in different dialects. Not confirmed, but fascinating. My taiji instructor mentioned a theory that whalesongs may be religious in nature. Obviously speculative (how would you test that?) but interesting to consider.

Act IV: Testing God
Someone has listed out ways in which science might be able to test for the presence of God. It has an obvious Judeo-Christian bias, which makes parts of it extremely amusing to me, but it's got some good things to think about. It's in an overall list of "Dangerous Ideas." I haven't looked at the full list, but I've skimmed the nearby articles. Some interesting, some not.

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Catching Lions...

Crooked Timber has some mathamusical algorithms. They posted a synopsis of a much longer article. Warning: many of these have math/physics prerequisites. Not all of them do, but a large number are otherwise incomprehensible.

Some examples:

"The Schrodinger method: At any given moment there is a positive probability that there is a lion in the cage. Sit down and wait."

"The cartesian method: Take the origin as close as possible to the lion. Then perform rotation operation again and again. Initially, the lion will feel dizzy. Finally it will fall down."

"The time-cop method: Use a time-machine and take the entire Sahara back a few years in time. The lion is just a cub now, and all you need is a mouse-trap."

"The Shakespeare method: Hold the lion still for a moment (I don't care how you do it), and recite Shakespeare`s Hamlet to it. The lion will change from 'To be to Not-to-be'."

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06 January 2006

New Semester

Well, my syllabi have all been written. The two classes I teach on Monday are in second draft. The one I teach on Tuesday is in first draft. I've taught Math 025 before (basically, Jr. High math), but there's a new book and they've started using a computer system called MathXL. It was surprisingly easy to register and load copies of Cathi Kunicki's projected homework, etc. I'll play with it some more over the weekend, but the upshot is that I won't have to collect and grade homework. I'll probably do some on-paper quizzes now and again, to keep them on their toes, and tests will be on paper, but I'm still pleased. Math 015 (elementary school math) is not fully on that system yet, but we're encouraged to introduce it. So I figure I'll start with paper-work and gradually phase into the computer stuff.

Math 123 (Math in Modern Society = Math class for people trying to avoid math) is going to be...different. Unlike Math 015/025, it is not a prerequisite for any future math class. There is no set curriculum I HAVE to cover to prepare students for another class. The only guideline I was given was "do something from each of the four sections" so I've tentatively chosen two chapters frome each section to look at. I had to include the ones on Fibonacci numbers and Mandelbrot sets. I mean, if I can pick and choose, why not pick something cool? *grins* Though I will tell students to look through the ToC for anything they'd really like to look at. Most of them won't bother, but if a few of them are especially interested in a topic that I skipped over, I'll try to add it in. Which means the "tentative schedule" on my syllabus will be even more tentative than usual, but that's okay. It's kind of nice not to be tied to a specific set of topics.

Oh, my 015 classes are in IF. While I would be happier if I'd been consulted before this assignment, I can't complain too much. I enjoy driving and feel less restless when I get out of town every so often. The upshot is that I'll get some extra pay at the end of the semester, and that I have no duties whatsoever on Friday. So I have a constant three-day weekend. Yeah, it means MTWTh are a bit scrunched, but I can deal. Basically, MW I'm in IF for the morning. Back to teach 025 in the evening. TTh, I'm planning to take Dr. Hill's matrix class (if I can find a cheap copy of the book...ugh that thing's expensive), then I have 123 in an odd timeslot (18:00-19:15).

Final thoughts: There are two symphony concerts on Wednesday nights this semester, and my mom already bought the tickets, so I've scheduled tests in my evening classes for those nights. This means that I need only find someone capable of handing out the tests for me, and don't have to find someone willing to/capable of giving a lecture. As we DO have a set curriculum in that class, canceling it for two nights is not an option. Oh, and the semester is starting just as I was finally getting a chance to ENJOY break. Ah well.

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Dance with me...

spinning there—in the
starlight: a dance old as time—
questioning itself

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05 January 2006

Musical Incongruity

This was too amusing to ignore: A commercial claiming to have the ultimate in "relaxing classical music"... ends with ... "call now for rush delivery."

Speaking of music, I ordered a few CDs through Amazon over break. Two of them were CDs that I previously had on cassette tape (Weird Al Yankovic's "In 3D" and They Might Be Giants' "Flood"). Two were new to me. Both were awesome. Emerald Rose is an Irish group, and all their music has classic Celtic flavor. A few of the songs were available as free downloads from Amazon, which is how I first heard of them. Though all are Celtic, the content varies widely, from musical diddies to folk tales to a pagan invocation. I've enjoyed all of them so far. The final CD was of Tibetan metal and crystal singing bowls. Very unusual, but soothing. And, yes, my taste in music tends toward the eclectic.

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I've been scanning in some pictures from old calendars, and finding that their resolution is less than ideal. Thankfully, I found a way to fix them once they're scanned in. After several tries, I finally got my favorite to upload:

Pity that none of the trees around here retain any snow.

Far from houses
the large bamboo grove
still holds the snow
Around here it's aspen and pine rather than bamboo, but close enough. The haiku comes from Haiku Landscapes.

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03 January 2006

Prediction Confirmed

Which prediction? This one: "[Mom]'s going to be quite irritated if I recover before she does," from two posts down.

I told her I was feeling much better tonight. There was a moment of silence. Then she said that I had to give her some of my antibodies. I debated suggesting I could donate some blood to her (we are the same blood type), but while I was debating she continued on with the conversation and the moment was lost. Probably just as well. I am certainly not qualified to perform a blood transfusion, and if my mom's been feeling like I did yesterday for over a week, she might actually go for it.

Mom is extremely disgusted with me. "Yeah, you got over the flu in one day."
"It wasn't the flu. It was a cold."
"It gave Ken [her boss] pneumonia."

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Lasers and Ice Water

I took my grandma to a physical therapist today. Ever since she had her mastectomy (somewhere around 1985), her right arm has been badly swollen. I think this is because some lymph nodes got removed, or something else that regulates fluid flow in the body. The swelling has never been good, but it's gotten worse since she's been on dialysis.

The first thing the doctor did was use a laser on her. It looked a lot like the handheld laser scanners they use in stores for items that are difficult to drag across the flat scanner. He claimed that it would stimulate the nerves and cells and encourage them to put the fluid back where it belongs, or something like that. It sounded a bit fishy to me, but it does seem to be a legitimate therapy. Wikipedia has a brief article. There is more detail here. Apparently double blind studies have been done which show the light is effective. I can only assume the placebo treatment was with a non-laser light that was indistinguishable to a casual glance. *shrugs*

Next up was some massage therapy, done by a student in the program. The idea was to massage the excess fluid out of the arm, presumably to a locale with functioning nodes that would then process it out of the body.

Two more treatments were applied simultaneously. One of them involved an electrical stimulus, delivered through four sterile pads. My old roommate had a smaller TENS unit that did much the same thing, though probably with less fine-tuning ability. The doctor wanted to stimulate some specific nerve center. Over this was put a pressure brace: it wrapped around the arm and was then filled with cold water to squeeze the excess fluids out. It was too small to cover her whole arm, so they did lower then upper then just her hand, all while the electro-stimulus was going on.

This was her first session up there, but her arm did not look as swollen afterward. So maybe if she keeps up the treatments, it will go down to manageable size. Lately it's been so swollen that her right hand hasn't been much use for anything.

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This is one of the odder colds I can remember having. I feel much better today, though I am more fatigued than yesterday. So far as I can tell, my immune system kicked into maximumsuperextreme-overdrive yesterday to drive the cold off. This would explain both my restlessness and the extreme fever I wound up with. End result: cold mostly gone, me very tired. I've still got a few minor symptoms, but the remnants of restlessness suggest the ol' immune system is still in high-gear. Not quite as high as yesterday, thankfully.

It was very bizarre. I had muscles aches that I noticed if I sat still, but that went away so long as I was moving. Which meant that it was difficult to get started, but once I was moving it was even more difficult to stop. I have my mom to thank for this particular cold... I don't think she figured out the part about things hurting less if you were moving, but she's over that stage now. It took her longer, but I've found that doing the taiji form repeatedly tends to give my immune system a boost. She's going to be quite irritated if I recover before she does. :-)

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02 January 2006


My blog is worth $2,822.70.
How much is your blog worth?

I ran across this on another blog, so I thought I'd check in again. My blog's imaginary monetary value has increased. Joy. I might express more enthusiasm if I didn't have a fever of 101.6 tonight... I took some ibuprofen and feel much better, but there are still residual effects. The one good thing about feeling miserable is that I'd rather be doing something than sitting still, so I've washed all my bedding and done a lot of tidying up today. I also helped take down Grandma's Christmas decorations and put together my mom's cabinet. Yeah, they say you should take it easy when you have a cold, but I feel better when I'm moving so I'll go with it.

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01 January 2006

New Year's Rhapsody

First off:

Happy New Year!

I had less to do for our New Year's family dinner: corn bread, key-lime pie, stir-fry vegetables. I also had to put the cornish hens in the oven, but that doesn't really count. Well, the corn bread turned out quite well. Moist and smooth and nearly perfect. The vegetables were perfect (cooked in peanut and sesame oil, a dash of red pepper, and a bit of cardamom and coriander). The key-lime pie was...pudding. It still tasted good, but something went a mite screwy with the recipe. As it tasted good, I'm not complaining that much, but I plan to try again when we work our way through this pie—er, pudding. Probably with a different recipe. On the bright side, the crumb crust is excellent, and tastes exactly the way I remember graham cracker crusts tasting (I used GF corn flakes, GF rice crispies, and some sliced almonds rather than graham crackers).
(Incidentally, it's still the year of the Rooster until 29 January. Then it becomes the year of the Dog.)

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