28 February 2006


We had hail today, while I was walking over to the math center for my two-hour stint. :^D I quite enjoyed it (except when it hit my ear, but a carefully placed hand rectified that difficulty). Now it's turned to rain, rain, rain, rain... Not quite as much fun as the hail, but more than welcome. Wind, rain, thunder, hail? Who could ask for anything more? (No, this isn't a car commercial)

Okay, I actually prefer snow, but if it's determined to turn to spring, BRING ON THE RAIN! And thunder. And hail. :^D (Yes, I just had some chocolate; how could you tell?)

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25 February 2006

Dovie'andi se tovya sagain

Productive day of writing yesterday. I've made a start at switching a story that I want to include in the writing into poem form. It's extremely rough at the moment, but now that I've got the pertinent detail in poetry, I can tweak it later. For now, I'm just trying to get some plot stuff straightened out.

I've decided that most of what I wrote over the past year was garbage. Mainly because I was NOT in writing mode (At the moment, I have the scapegoat of malnutrition to blame, since starting on the multivitamin seems to have jumpstarted my writing again). There was one transition scene I had written that I'm pretty sure I wrote solely so Alex could resist the temptation to tell Draven his brother was a blockhead (Draven doesn't know his brother is in town, and would react badly to the news). It was otherwise useless, and is now defunct. Thankfully, I've been able to use much of the infrastructure I put in, just with major, um, rewrites. Most notably, I inserted a plot element that had been wandering aimlessly through my mind into the infrastructure, with quite pleasing results. Unfortunately, it did force me to switch POV character in several places, but as Draven had been POV character mainly so that Alex wouldn't be (and since several of those scenes were useless), it wasn't that much work.

Writing is a lot like taiji, in that you cannot force it. When you do, the result is garbage. I'd been trying and trying to mesh a bunch of plot elements together, and it wasn't working. In the past few weeks, I didn't try at all and everything is falling together. However, I am currently sick of staring at a computer screen, so I'm going to go stare at the tv screen instead...and continue watching Babylon 5; Episodes 6 & 7 were quite enjoyable. I had seen Episode 6 (Dust to Dust) before, but not in the proper context of the storyline (i.e. in order by episode). G'Karr gets a hold of some "Dust" in the hopes of using it as a weapon against the Centauri...and gets a lot more than he bargained for. Episode 7 (Exogenesis) was one I'd never seen all the way through. I remembered the end, but not the beginning. It was...sort of an oddity. Parasitic creatures who turn out to be semi-friendly, though still quite strange. The best part of the episode was having Marcus and the Doctor locked up together. Marcus is a favorite character of mine. "One from three makes one..." :^D

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24 February 2006

Spinning 'Round

Tuesday night I finally got to play Fibonacci's game. Quite enjoyable (though I think color-coding the numbers would make parts of it run more smoothly). Somewhat to my surprise, the cards I printed out are not horribly difficult to handle. They are on uncoated cardstock, so I thought they might stick together something awful. Play is relatively smooth, though it seems like the earth spells are almost TOO powerful. Which was rather nice, actually, as I had earth as one of my elements, but... *shrugs*

I say they're too powerful, because then the maze itself becomes irrelevant. So long as you have enough earth points, you can shift the maze however you like (though it may take several turns to accomplish). This makes objects in odd places suddenly accessible within a turn or two. On the other hand, by the time you acquire the spells that allow all this, the game has usually gone on a bit long, so it's nice to have a convenient solution. *shrugs again*

Wednesday we started on application problems in Math 015. In this class, they are extremely straight-forward. For the most part, it's just translating sentences into equations, and then solving. A few of them involved reading the info and figuring out how to set up the equation (checkbook balancing in one case, counting light bulbs in another). Usually the 11 am class is sharper at answering questions than the 9:30 am class, but the 9:30 class got all the "tricky" backwards subtractions (9 less than a number is "x-9" not "9-x"), while the 11:00 class missed most of them. Not a quiz, just me writing the problem out and asking people how to translate it into symbols.

Then I had a sword lesson with Don before driving back to Pocatello. Apparently my stiff shoulders cause even more problems with sword form than they do with the regular form. *sighs* They're getting better. Something that I hadn't realized when we were first learning the sword form is that the sword is nearly always kept in close to the body. Which explains the stories of people who practice with real, sharp blades cutting their own toes off. And there is a practical reason for the practice: if your arm isn't extended, it's hard for someone to chop it off; also, it means the power is coming from your center and your root, and you're not trying to muscle it. But I have a VERY long way to go.

Nothing much of interest yesterday. We looked at "trees" (graph theory, not botany) in Math 123.

And this week (Monday, I think), I acquired Season 3 of Babylon 5. It was one of those "Force is with me" moments. I had been thinking I would like to get another season of B5, so I wandered over to Fred Meyer's electronics section, and lucked into a 20% off sale on all DVD's. Plus I had just gotten $9 in discount coupons for Fred Meyer. Upshot: I paid $55 for it instead of $80. I'm up through Episode 5 now. And, just like Season 2, the first few episodes are rather rough and rocky but they've been steadily improving.

Episode 3 (A Day in the Strife) was the turning point, and it was a mixture of good and bad. All the Narn intrigue was beautifully written and acted. However there were two segments at the beginning and end of the episodes (an assembly discussing new trade regulations) where I could tell the writer had been thinking: "Hmmmm.... I ought to show some of the day to day station business that the officers have to deal with..." It was not smoothly integrated into the plot, though an obvious effort was made. Also, this episode had an element that was a rehash of an early second season plot device: a probe that claims it will attack the station unless X is done (which turns out to be a lie). Almost identical to the plot sequence of the lost Minbari fighter squadron that turned up second season, trying to die with honor, right down to Sheridan's actions.

Episodes 4 & 5 were both well done, except for a few minor details. One quibble with Ep. 4 (Passing Through Gethsemane): it seems a bit of a stretch that Lita Alexandar would return JUST WHEN a rogue telepath would be useful. Better to have had her on and off the station a few times (or even once) before this episode.

Random Comment: Nightwatch rhetoric sounds almost exactly like the fascist drivel spouted by Bush and his cronies. Why do you s'pose that is...hmmm?

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20 February 2006

Stew Safety

As I'm making chicken stew tonight, I figured I'd pass along an important safety tip that I keep meaning to mention. If you don't put hot peppers in anything, feel free to ignore it. If you don't wear contacts, you're probably safe in ignoring it.

But if you wear contacts and like hot peppers: (1) wear gloves while chopping the hot peppers; (2) take your contacts out BEFORE you chop the hot peppers (especially if you DON'T wear gloves).

My first experience with this rule involved habañero peppers. I had my contacts in. I rubbed my cheek with a finger. This was close enough to get either habañero vapor or juice in my eye. It was unpleasant. I remember rushing to the nearest open water faucet and sticking my eye under it, saying "It burns!" (and actually, it burned so much that it was beyond pain, and not in a good way) It didn't stop burning until I got my contact out of my eye, and, btw, that contact was ruined. So that was my lesson in not wearing contacts while chopping hot peppers.

And that was mostly enough, so long as the peppers I was chopping were mild. However, no matter how well I wash my hands, a bit of the hotness remains on my fingers. It takes 2-3 days to go away completely, and unless the peppers are very mild, this makes putting contacts in rather difficult. So I keep a pair of kitchen gloves around that only get used for chopping hot peppers. Oh, and bell peppers don't count. They are entirely flavorful and without hotness.

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I am a d12

You are the rare, the overlooked, yet incredibly useful dodecahedron: the d12. You are a creative, romantic soul. You often act without thinking, but make up for your lack of plans with plenty of heart. You easily solve problems that stump others, but your answers tend to put you into even deeper trouble. You write long, detailed backgrounds for all your characters, and are most likely to dress up as one or get involved in cos-play. You can be silly at times and are easily distracted by your own day dreams, but are at the end of the day you're someone who can be depended on.

Take the quiz at dicepool.com

If, like me, you prefer quizzes that entertain and don't take themselves too seriously, I highly recommend this one. I'm not too sure about the "romantic" part, but I do love the, er, "disclaimer" you get at the end:

"This survey is completely scientific. Despite the mind-boggling complexity of mankind, the billions of distinctly different personalities found on Earth can easily be divided into seven simple categories that correspond to the five Platonic solids, a pseudo polyhedron, and whatever the hell a d100 is. The results of this quiz should be considered not only meaningful but also infallible, and pertinent to your success as a fully realized individual. If you feel the results of this examination do not match your perceived personality, you should take whatever drastic measures are needed to cram your superego back into proper alignment, as described by the quiz results.

And if you believe that, we have some really great critical-hit insurance to sell you."

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19 February 2006

Magic Rings as a Diversion

A somwhat more coherent dream last night. I alternated between participating as a character and watching, but for simplicity I'll leave it all in third person.

A group of teenagers was gathered in a carpeted room full of round plastic picnic tables, and this room was in a mall. There were four or five females (none of whom struck me as overly bright) and two males. In walks Jeremy Irons, but skinnier and younger than I've ever seen him. He tells them an incredible story, about a magic ring lost in the mists of time. Then, in case they don't believe him, he makes them experience some memories of the thing.

We/they are subjected to memory after memory. The ring, appearing to be a simple gold band, can be used to control another person. Most common usage seems to be to force someone to fall in "love" with the wielder. But when the ring is not being worn, it is a constant danger. People throw themselves at it, desperate to acquire it. People die in the crush to possess it. And even when it's wielded, there's no guarantee things will work out as the wielder planned.

Come back to the present. The gaggle of girls in the back are practically swooning at the possibility of getting the ring. The younger male (whose perspective I occasionally share) has a vivid image of them tearing each other apart trying to get at it. He pointedly asks Jeremy Irons whether he really thinks the ring is in the shopping mall. The answer is somewhat evasive. Essentially, Jeremy Irons has just traveled forward in time some three thousand years, and this is the location of the ring in the prior time period, and somehow he's certain that it cannot have been moved. (Hmmm... Not part of the dream, but maybe he found it elsewhere, brought it back in time and hid it, and is certain that there were never two of the thing active at once) So it has to be in the mall somewhere. The younger male (who looks a great deal like a four-year-old I met at Kim's baby shower yesterday, only transposed to a teenager) reluctantly begins to look for it, more because he doesn't want the goosegirls to find it than anything else.

Sceneshift to a manager taking Jeremy Irons aside. "This wasn't in the plan." He's not happy about the forced memory sharing; perhaps he was forced to participate.

Jeremy Irons (in an American accent ala one he used in Die Hard 3): "You said to put on a show, so I put on a show." Now they wait.

The next bit makes less sense, but somehow this is not about the ring itself. It's about the search. As the search progresses, a strange, shell-like thing/creature grows. I woke up before I found out what the thing was, though. As soon as I woke, I vaguely recognized it as looking like something the evil sorceress in Supergirl had, but that doesn't tell me how it's connected to the ring and/or the search for it. *shrugs*

Incidentally, Jeremy Irons is probably my favorite actor. It's something about his voice and the way he holds himself. I've never seen him do a poor job. However, he has somewhat odd taste in movie roles.

-The Mission (conflict at a South American mission, a century ago)
-Kafka (entirely surreal, almost 1984ish)
-Reversal of Fortune (good story and acting on all parts)
-Die Hard 3 (sort of; Jeremy Irons is fun to watch in it...the rest...*shrugs*)
-Man in the Iron Mask (very well done; minor quibble with casting of Leo DiCaprio)
-The Time Machine (2002) (I know lots of people hated this one, but I enjoyed it)
-Kingdom of Heaven (everyone did a good job here)
Oh, wow. Guess what, Fibonacci and Kate: They're making a movie out of Eragon, and it's in post-production. Jeremy Irons is playing Brom (tells me nothing, unfortunately)

Odd, but somewhat interesting:
-House of the Spirits (I'm not into generational movies, but I didn't hate it)
-Madame Butterfly (based on the memorable spy incident, involving a male who claimed he didn't know the "woman" he had spent many years with was really a male)
-The French Lietenant's Woman (really odd intertwining of a movie plot and the real life involvement of the actors in the movie)
-Stealing Beauty (weird coming of age story, set in Italy; Irons is a man dying from cancer who sort of acts as an advisor to the other characters)
-Dungeons and Dragons (to be honest, this was rather lousy, but I still enjoyed Jeremy Irons' performance)

-Dead Ringers (about two rather disturbing twins, both played by Jeremy Irons; he does a good job, but it's not remotely enjoyable, especially at the end)
-Damage (love triangle involving Irons, his son, and his son's wife; ends with the son dying)
-Lolita (based on the Nabukov novel, about an old pervert and a young girl; I couldn't watch this one if I tried)

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18 February 2006

Egging Dreams On

I'm pretty sure last night's odd dream selection had something to do with the past-date hardboiled eggs I ate the evening before (which reminds me...I ought to call Mom and tell her to throw the rest out). My stomach wasn't happy about it, which made it difficult to sleep. When I did sleep, my dreams were weird (not quite as weird as the math-vampire-movie, though).

I'm going on a fishing trip with my dad, ostensibly, except he's really only my ride and I'm going to hook up with another group, that I THINK was taiji related. We get to the area, and the car barely fits through the gates (if we'd been in my dad's pickup, it wouldn't have fit at all). It was a good thing the car didn't have any side mirrors. Later we find out that no one uses the gates; there's a larger opening next to them.

My dad sets up to go fishing, but first we have to ferry my stuff across/down a river or lake or something, so he's got an inflatable raft. I'm not sure why, but we don't get everything on the first trip, and I can't use the boat again, so I'm going to have to lug my final bag to its next destination. As I get ready to do so, I find a necklace has fallen out of the bag, and is missing part of its pendant. I find it. It's a blue heart contained in a clear crystal heart (real Austrian crystal), and I wonder why they didn't use better glue to hold it to the necklace.


There's a building at the center of the forest. It's got a sort of museum, as well as a gift shop and dining hall. A short (but not dwarvish) man acts as butler. I notice a dog's skull, next to a picture of a Pomeranian though the skull is too large for a Pomeranian. There's also a section of skin (fur still attached) next to the skull. I remark to an unseen companion: "Do you have any idea how hard it is to get the skin off of a dog's skull?"


Flashback to an earlier trip to the same place. Dad and I have gone fishing again, and we've taken Scamp with us (old family dog), even though he really should have been left home. Unsurprisingly, he dies. And I have a vivid memory of using a large carving knife to cut his body up into usable pieces to eat, and of splitting his skull to get his brain out. I don't THINK we ate the brain. (Note: the real Scamp died of old age more than a year ago) I remember thinking that was it; I'd never go on another fishing trip with my dad, not really.


Back to the museum, and I'm still wondering how they got the dog skull cleaned up so nicely without splitting it open. We (still don't know who's with me) get invited upstairs in the building, which is a very rare honor. Upstairs, we find out that the small "butler" is really the dojo-master of the place. He bows. We bow back.


My dad and I have returned to Pocatello, and run into Chad (math department). I start telling him all about the fishing trip, while my dad looks on sourly. He'd told Chad it was a business trip beforehand. I told Chad not to mind him, he was insane. Considering that Dad was right next to me, it wasn't the brightest thing to say, but there the dream ends.

The weirdest part was that, in the dream, it really felt like I was remembering cutting Scamp's body up. I remembered the knife, and the sound it made cutting through flesh. I'm just as glad that nothing similar happened in real life. He died semi-peacefully in the kitchen, and Dad buried him in the back yard. He was getting old. Too old. He could barely walk, barely eat, barely see. Dad really should have had him put to sleep, but I think that dog was his only real friend in the world. The night before he died, he started up a horrible...not howling...keening, maybe. He would repeat it at regular intervals. As soon as I heard it, I knew he wouldn't last the night. Dad was in complete denial, and explained that Scamp was just complaining that things weren't going the way he wanted. *sighs* The next morning was a Sunday, and Mom picked me up for family lunch as usual. I very nearly asked "Is Scamp dead yet?" but decided against it. During the ride I found out that, yes, he had died during the night.

It was about that point that Dad's sanity started going downhill again. It had been somewhat bad through the fall, probably because Scamp wasn't getting better, but after Scamp died... I think his mental health might improve if he found himself another dog, but I also suspect he's gotten himself worked into some insane paranoiac taboo over it, so suggesting it wouldn't be healthy.

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17 February 2006


I was sad to hear that Andreas Katsulas, aka G'karr on Babylon 5, recently passed away. He did an awesome job in a difficult role, and G'karr was one of my favorite B5 characters. Orac has a tribute, consisting of memorable quotes from his stint on B5, found here. I was tempted to steal the whole thing, as there are some absolutely wonderful lines. I'll just borrow my favorite:

"Mr. Garibaldi, I have been on this station long enough to know that you don't ask leading questions unless you already know the answers. So, why don't we just pretend I've lied about it, you've caught me in your web of insufferable logic, and cut to the point."

May he find peace, wherever he's gone.

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15 February 2006

On Restaurants

As a celiac, restaurants pose an especial challenge for me. Which means that when I find a place that serves food I can eat, I tend to be very loyal. When a place has multiple dishes I can eat, or goes out of its way to alter a dish so I can eat it, I am more than grateful.

First off, chain restaurants are essentially useless to me. Even when they have food I can eat, they are subject to the whims of the franchise itself, and that dish could be discontinued or altered at any time. Plus, it is almost never made on the premises, so there is no way it can be altered to be safe for me to eat. Especially since such employess are NOT hired for their ability to cook.

Two local restaurants stand out on this score: Chang's Garden in Pocatello, and the Canton Restaurant in Idaho Falls. Both restaurants have been quick to answer my questions about ingredients. Chang's is willing to make dishes without soy sauce for me. The Canton Restaurant went above and beyond today. I asked about the sesame chicken. First question: "Is it breaded?" "Yes." I start to say, oh, never mind, but the waitress immediately offers to get the cooks to make it without breading. They did better. They used cornstarch for the breading. I can't remember the last time I had something breaded in a restaurant. Probably around the time I was transitioning to a gluten-free diet, oh, 5 years ago. To be honest, there was more breading than I actually wanted, but it was such a novelty to be able to EAT the breading that I didn't mind too much. :^D My one complaint about the sesame chicken, really, was that it didn't come with any vegetables. But it was still very, very good.

In general, Chinese/Asian restaurants do better on this score than any others. Probably because they make all the food on-site. My favorite restaurant is Sri Thai in Fort Collins. I can eat nearly everything on the menu, without modification. Why? Because Thai dishes use rice noodles and aren't big on soy sauce. (For those who don't know, the second or third ingredient in soy sauce is wheat.)

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Mathematical Vampire Movie?

If the title wasn't a giveaway, this was a really odd dream. The first part I remember is being in a movie theater. It's rather full, and I'm sitting next to a very unpleasant woman who keeps accusing me of taking up her space while fidgeting around. My foot was directly in front of my seat, but she kept twitching and kicking it, insisting that it was in her space. I was rather relieved when intermission came, and got up and scooted toward the aisle (I think at first I was on the aisle seat, but not when intermission came). Then I encountered Fibonacci, in the aisle seat, and the movie suddenly started up again, so it hadn't actually been intermission. I sat on the floor in the aisle, waiting for real intermission. When it came, Fibonacci was nowhere to be seen, but Dan (from the math center) and some scrawny bearded guy who looked like a hippy reject were (Dan was in the aisle seat, hippy-guy was behind me in the aisle).

I got up again, and noticed a lot of math people sort of patrolling the aisles. They were there to answer math questions related to the movie. The movie was about vampires (details are fuzzy, but one looked sort of like the lead singer from Nickelback, and, in the dream, I was certain he'd been in another vampire movie that I'd seen). However, it apparently also involved quantum singularities and a bunch of cosmology. As I walked up the aisle, still headed for a restroom, I overheard some girl saying "Yeah, this is the most commercial math department in the country. I think Berkeley's next after us."

For some reason, the restrooms were not in the theater, but in a bookstore across the parking lot from it. I had already been in the bookstore once, and was suddenly carrying a bag containing two paperbacks purchased from there. So I hoped to sneak in and out without being noticed by the proprietor (presumably so I wouldn't be forced to buy anything else). It's a brick building. I go inside and down a winding, dark, narrow stairway to the basement. It looks like a stereotypical spooky basement, and rather than Men/Women, the restrooms are labelled with strange, encrusted numbers. I pick one at random and go in. One stall is too dirty to use. Another is shut, though no one seems to be in it. The third one is unoccupied, and clean, but it has a dozen small toilets in it, arranged in rows.

When I head back out of the restroom, the bag of books is now a package of markers. It's a rather odd set, containing a sequence of black permanent marker, orange dry erase marker, and (I think) green regular markers. At this point, I'm not happy to be in the basement, because it would be a bad place to be caught by the vampires (so they're not just in the movie anymore). I head up the staircase, only it's wider this time, and comes out in a different place. I have to thread my way through a large crowd having some sort of celebration to get back out, but I don't.

Instead, I see a woman with dark brown hair and attack her. Mostly, I'm holding on to her, and keeping her from moving away, but I think I was also absorbing her energy, or something. Despite the obvious struggle, no one at the party takes any notice. I'm sort of starting to wake up, and thinking how it's not fair that (in my dreams) I've never gotten to sink fangs into someone and drink their blood. So I'm sort of straining to do this while struggling with the woman. Also, there was some random insult (from one of the other vampires, who were apparently at the party), that the ones with TALENT from Three's Company actually had jobs. The implication is that the woman I was attacking was an out-of-work actress from Three's Company, but she looked nothing like anyone I ever saw on Three's Company.

Next thing I know, I'm in my bedroom, and sort of assume I've woken up. Only I decide to prove that I'm awake by picking up a plastic sack and putting it in the trash can in the bathroom. For some reason, I have my eyes closed, and find my way in by feel (and, yes, I did have tactile sensation in the dream; I felt the doorknob under my hand). Once in there, though, the bag turns back into the package of markers. Then my alarm goes off and I REALLY wake up.

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13 February 2006


I remember a few random snippets of dreams. There were several along the theme of "I overslept. Now I will be late for Event X." In reality, my alarms woke me up right on schedule. In one of these, while I was searching for something-or-other needed for whichever Event X it was, I looked out the window. It was the window in my old bedroom at my parents' house. There was a rabbit out in the yard. It looked...somewhere between real and a cartoon, like a computer animated rabbit, maybe. Ji'e'toh was out there, and semed VERY interested in the rabbit. The next thing I remember is the rabbit "climbing" up the tree in the yard (which was not as vertical as the real tree). I THINK Ji'e'toh followed it (either Ji'e'toh or some animal with similar coloration and shape). Then a rather cartoonish (but still real-looking) bear followed them both. It was cartoonish in the sense that the head was shaped so that the bear would be able to "speak", as in a cartoon. But the texture looked very realistic. Rather like the texture on the dimetrodons and other lizards that I saw animated on the Discovery Channel last night.

In other news,
I will remember to check my gas tank BEFORE leaving Pocatello.
I will remember to check my gas tank BEFORE leaving Pocatello.
I will remember to check my gas tank BEFORE leaving Pocatello.
I will remember to check my gas tank BEFORE leaving Pocatello.
I will remember to check my gas tank BEFORE leaving Pocatello.
I will remember to check my gas tank BEFORE leaving Pocatello.

No, I didn't run out. But it was closer than I would like. If I'd noticed it before, oh, say Blackfoot, I could have avoided any major worries. However, I was slightly past Blackfoot when I saw how close the needle was to the E... I wasn't horribly concerned, as it wasn't below the E yet (it dips below when it gets REALLY low), but I wasn't happy about it. I stopped at the first IF exit and found that I probably could have made it to my usual exit (I had close to 2 gallons left, and it's less than 10 miles). While there are exits between Blackfoot and 113, I don't know the areas around them and there were no prominent gas station signs. On the bright side, I got about 35 mpg.

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12 February 2006

Just Rambling

Forgot to mention that, yes, dry erase markers do work bettr than chalk for the graph theory stuff. So far. It's easier to erase cleanly while trying to find paths through a complicated graph, at the very least, and the colors show up better. We're about done with Chapter 5 (I've got a few more examples to do), so I don't know for sure if the same will be true through the rest of this section of the book.

Taiji yesterday was quite enjoyable. I've found that my push-hands is better against James than it is against Mark or Joe. Why? Because James is much larger than I am and has a good root. This means that I absolutely cannot get away with trying to muscle him (and if he were better, I would REALLY regret trying to muscle him), so it has to come from the waist and my own root. Mark and I are about evenly matched, size for size and weight for weight. He's slightly larger than I am, but overall it's an even match. Joe is much more slender than the rest of us, which makes it a horrible temptation to use muscle. However, he's good enough to use any arm tension I give him. It just hasn't broken me of the habit yet. *sighs* Oh, and Don offered some sword lessons since I'm in IF two extra days a week. So I've got a sword lesson on Wednesday. That should be fun.

Other news... Grandma. She gets better sometimes, and then she gets worse, and better, than worse, but the getting worse is winning out. I don't think she's going to last much longer. I don't know if she WANTS to last much longer, as tired and miserable as she's been lately. I'll miss her when she goes. Strangely, the thing that bothers me the most is that, if I ever have children, they won't know their great-grandma. I guess that's an odd thing to regret.

Her friends in Akron are the same chronological age she is, but they look oh so much younger than she does. She's starting to look like I remember Great Granmda Fern looking (and I'm not about to tell her that; I doubt she'd appreciate it). Grandma Fern lived to be 90. She died on Monday, 13 February, 1989. I remember her being hard of hearing and moving slowly, but I don't remember her ever having as many problems as Grandma Parker is right now. I suppose the reason she's so much worse off is her diabetes. She's been diabetic since she was 10. They told her mother (my Grandma Fern) that she probably wouldn't make it to 30, let alone past 70. She's had a good, full life. I do wish she'd gotten to see her friends from Akron more often after she moved up here.

My Grandad Parker died when I was a junior in high school. He was a gruff, hard-to-like man who teased me mercilessly as a child (and not in a way that I enjoyed), but he truly loved my grandma. Details are fuzzy, but I remember an incident where he thought Grandma had been hurt, and I heard him calling for my mom to come and help. The pain and fear in his voice told me everything I needed to know about him. Hard and gruff as he was on the outside, he was a good man inside.

*sighs* This went further afield than I'd intended.

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10 February 2006

Narnia - The Movie (some spoilers)

'Twas free at the SUB tonight, so I tagged along with Fibonacci and cohorts.

Very well done, overall. It stayed very close to the book except right at the beginning (giving an explanation for why the children were being sent away) and during the battle scene. You may recall I complained that the battle scene was underdone in the book. They fleshed it out. Good effects. Idiotic strategy. Okay, you're outnumbered. You've got hillsides and rock all around you. So, naturally, you meet the enemy idiotically on the one flat piece of ground????? Sorry, that was just stupid. If all the ground around had been flat, fine. But use the bloody geography! Make them come to you! They're the attackers; attack ALWAYS leaves you vulnerable. Use that. Stay BEHIND the hill until they attack, then have your archers pick them off one by one as they top the rise. Let the rocks funnel them into death traps. There were places there where 6 fighters could have held off a thousand. I suppose that the resurrection/resuscitation at the end wouldn't have been as dramatic that way, though. :p

Then there was the queen. Her voice was perfect. Cold. Uncaring. Her appearance...was ridiculous. She's supposed to be coldly beautiful. So what's with the hair...? I think in a still painting, hair like that could have been made to work, if the light caught the ice just right. But in motion? Not unless they use computer graphics to get it right. And her outfits (and makeup) didn't help. Especially not the Xena outfit at the end. (By the way, what kind of idiot has her chariot stop with its bear-ers right at the edge of a small narrow cliff? How the devil did she manage to get it back down? Oh magic, right. She's the witch.) I think the actress did a decent job, but she really needed a new stylist. She's supposed to symbolize frozen stagnation, not wild abandon.

Also, I agree with everyone who complained about the scene where Lucy first finds the wardrobe. She's playing hide and seek. She might pause for half a second to stare at the wardrobe and think "Hey! A hiding place!" But then she would race to it and climb inside. Another minor complaint: Aslan. In appearance, I thought he was superb. I didn't care for the voice-casting. I know that it's almost cliche to use James Earl Jones, but a voice like his would have been so much better.

Yes, I've ranted a bit, but I did enjoy the movie overall. My one biggest complaint, really, is the lack of strategy in the battle. Either the one who choreographed the scene didn't know the geography they were planning to shoot in or he was an idiot. But I've said enough there. Beautiful effects. Good casting, especially with the children. In most places, very good attention to detail.

:^D And now, my philosophical take on the story: it symbolizes the futility and illusion of duality. I'll elaborate if anyone cares to ask, but it's more amusing to just make a broad statement and stop. So I will.

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09 February 2006

Words are Flowing

I'm starting to think that the reason I haven't been writing as much lately is because I haven't had the energy to spare. Since starting back on the multivitamin, I've started thinking about Devil Falls (my fictional Idaho city) again, and making some progress. Of course, having an hour long commute on MW also gives me time to think, and tie loose ends together. :^D One major problem was that, past the first section (which Fibonacci has read), Jareth doesn't play much of a role. I finally figured out why, and found a way to fix it once the right plot elements are in place. Until that happens, his role will be minor, but so will Alex's.

I hesitate to put too much detail about this on the web, but I will say that my starting point was (1) I wanted to have my own version of vampires; (2) I wanted to explore a love-hate relationship (that's the part Fibonacci has read); (3) It needed to start with a character waking up in a coffin. It ran through several incarnations in my head before I started writing, so that I had several sets of characters in my head. Alex and Jareth wound up fitting the love-hate relationship best. The other characters wouldn't go away, though. So now I'm working on integrating them into the story. Some showed up in the first section, others won't show up until later.

It's funny, though, that my plots are nearly entirely character based. I come up with an idea. I come up with characters to explore that idea. Sometimes I know where I want it to go; sometimes not. Sometimes the characters have other ideas entirely. One of my favorite things to do with a new character is "introduce" him/her to existing characters in my mind and see what happens. Sometimes it's boring. Sometimes it's stupid. And once in a while it's beautiful in a way that forever alters the structure of the storyline. The only way NOT to alter the storyline is to throw out the new character.

At the moment, I'm having Glindar (a strange little assassin) meet Alex (while NOT trying to kill her this time). Not in my head; on, er, virtual paper. This isn't one of the plot-altering moments. It's more necessary for a later event related to Glindar. But Glindar's fun to write.

Who is Glindar? Glindar was a hunter back in the middle ages (I haven't determined when, precisely). A witch gave him an enchanted knife that she said would make him immortal. It did, but not without complications. His brain and body have both been warped by the experience. Though he once stood six feet tall, he is now a little over four feet. He's not evil, precisely, but he's certainly not good. He's going to move towards one or the other soon...I haven't made up my mind which.

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07 February 2006


Let's see... feeling much better this week. The hunger has died down considerably. I'm starting to wonder if (before I knew I was gluten intolerant), there was permanent damage done that makes it more difficult for me to absorb nutrients. As I no longer have symptoms (since I now avoid gluten-containing foods), I had assumed not, but the damage may be subtle enough that it doesn't show up unless I don't get enough of whatever nutrients aren't being absorbed. *shrugs* Short version: multivitamins are my friend.

I skipped out on about three eighths of my math lab duty today. Why? Because I realized I had forgotten both my Matrix notebook and my taiji pants (my nicer pants are slightly too tight for taiji). If it had been only one forgotten item, I wouldn't have gone back for it, but for two... I lucked out and got a closer parking spot when I got back, though.

We start a new chapter in Math in Modern Society today. Euler circuits = graph theory. This looks to be lots of fun to teach. :^D Also, I finally remembered to bring in some dry erase markers and an eraser; I'm in the classroom with one dry erase section of board (put in for a faculty member who's allergic to chalk). I expect that this will be better for drawing the paths, etc., than the chalk will. I'll find out this evening.

Last but not least, Kim is proving quite enjoyable. Currently, he's found his "red bull on a green field" and is plotting escape. I am nearly convinced that this book was part of the inspiration for Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, where Rincewind guides the first ever tourist, Twoflower. There's a similar...flavor between the two. Other than two unlikely characters journeying together, though, the plots have little in common.

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04 February 2006

Status of the Rebellion

Seems like the multivitamins have taken care of the worst of it, but my body is still not entirely happy. It still refuses to acknowledge white rice, GF toast, or popcorn as food more than once a day, so it has effectively put me on a low-carb diet. It wants vegetables, meat, and fruit, and will tolerate the occasional carb-heavy product. So long as I keep taking the multivitamin. Also, it seems like caffeine puts me to sleep in anything resembling large quantities (more than one cup of tea, for instance). No clue what that's about or if there's a connection.

My foot was fine in taiji today. It complained a bit at the beginning, but by the end, a nice, healing warmth had spread through it, so the taiji is probably helping it.

I made a post last night that blogger ate, but it wasn't particularly coherent, so no major loss there. However, as blogger is currently doing odd things (i.e. not letting me access any of its blogs), this post will be saved on my computer. Just in case. I will try to reconstruct the rather lousy haiku from last night:

giant purplered mangoes
mushrooms stalking silently
this poem now ends

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03 February 2006

Vitamin-induced Haikunization

(explanation: I took two multivitamins together at lunch yesterday... It was rather like taking a shot of pure essence of chocolate, tempered with tea... I was in no mood to sit quietly in Matrix Analysis)


window sill
invites me to sit
and look out

skies clouding over
wind wanders freely outside
while I'm trapped within

turn the page
empty space abounds
fill it up

diag'nal matrix
has too many syllables
shortening required

cannot concentrate
on just one thing at a time

energy hunger
mixing together inside
let me out of here!


add up positives
total sum can't be zero:
a contradiction

if and only if
the mantra of higher math
arrows point both ways

Hermitian matrix
positive definite iff
leading minors pos.

out of materi'l
turning pages at random
seeking ideas

The last one is from today, and bears no relation to the others:

chickens crossing roads
interminable question
answers abound here

(Via Pharyngula)

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01 February 2006

Status Report

Foot: Healing (so long as I don't wear my mocassins. *sigh* and I like my moccasins)

Food: Improving (I went a whole four hours without feeling starved to death. Thrice. Then the hunger started kicking in, but it was milder. Extra meat and taking multivitamins seem to be helping)

F...f...f...uh, Work: Math 015 and Math 025 both got their tests back today, i.e. I graded roughly 100 tests between Monday and now. One more test to give this week (slight scheduling mishap; for some reason I thought it was last week, last week...) I also introduced my Math 015 students to the idea of MathXL, and as of 18:50 or so, one had even gotten into the system and onto my gradesheet. It's optional for Chapter 2. Probably chapter 3 will require at least one homework be done on there, and I'll go from there.

Play: Widdershins and Sunwise! :^D

Sign: "Stay with us, one location at a time." (billboard for a hotel) Nah, I think I'll stay in two of your hotels at once! I'll clone myself just for this purpose and spoil your whole advertising scheme! Ha-ha-ha-ha-hahhhhh!

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