31 March 2006


Got a call tonight. It went something like this:
Me: "Hello."
Line: "Hello." (before I'd finished my hello, so I said hello again)
Line: "Okay! Could I talk to the Lady of the House!" (overly cheerful male voice)
Me: "Who are you looking for?"
Line: "Okay! Could I talk to the Lady of the House!"
Me: "WHO are you looking for?"
Line: Repeats again, and I realize even the intonation is identical.

The least they could do is give the thing more than one xnone. *sighs*

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Brief lucidity (entirely caffeine free)

I had a few dreams last night. One of them turned lucid for a brief span of time. I was walking down a corridor, and suddenly knew that I was dreaming. There was some situation I was trying to deal with (details are gone now), and I began wondering how much the "rules" of the dream itself would limit my actions. For some reason, there were lots of outdoor rugs in this corridor (the green spiky ones that are supposed to trap dirt). As soon as I stepped through a door, the luidity was gone.

The next bit I remember may be a separate dream entirely. There was a woman (Russian, I think) who had been confined to her penthouse. I'm not sure if she was going to be put on trial or if she was a witness. Judging by her actions, she was probably the one on trial. The cops had thoroughly searched her apartment, and taken away anything that might be obviously helpful. Good thing she'd put the dust jacket for a romance novel over that book on picking locks... I'm not sure how she planned to get out, though, since the locks were all on doors leading down to the lower levels of the building, which were certainly guarded. Which meant she needed a way OFF of the building. But I woke up before I could see what she was planning.

And I've decided that headache probably was caffeine withdrawal. I recently switched to decaffeinated tea in the mornings (but was still getting caffeine from other sources), and apparently my body didn't like it. Well, I showed it. I cut out ALL caffeine entirely. So there. Wednesday the headache was a bit better. It was almost gone yesterday. Today, there are small twinging remnants, but otherwise it's gone. I've been needing more sleep than usual, but I think once I get the last of it out of my system, that should go back to normal. *sighs* Two weird things in this: On the trip to Colorado, I got very little caffeine with no side effects; and when I've gotten addicted to caffeine in the past, I've woken up craving, say, chocolate or other food items containing caffeine. No such signal this time. And I really didn't think I'd been getting very much caffeine, anyway. But I could ramble on and on and on and on and on—*slaps wrist*—so I'll stop.

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28 March 2006

Pain. Head. Tired.

I'm not quite as incoherent as that title sounds, but I've had a screaming headache nearly all day. Taiji helped some. I'm wondering if it's caffeine withdrawal, actually...except that I don't think I've gotten myself addicted to caffeine again. It's that kind of headache, though. So if it's not a withdrawal headache, I must have one heckuva cold coming on. *sighs*

I'd be in bed by now, except I promised my 015 classes I'd bring their current averages tomorrow when they take their test. Which meant I had to get grades entered in and averaged out. It's easier with my Pocatello classes, since grades get entered in as soon as I get the grading done. My IF classes, I tend to grade in the half hour before class and I just write them in my notebook. But they're in, now.

We didn't do much in Math 123 tonight. I had hoped to let them go waaaay early, but they had lots of questions about two sections of homework (they REALLY don't like the golden mean or the quadratic formula: which means they definitely need to spend more time with them ;^). Then I realized that we still had a bit of Chapter 9 to go, so we looked at gnomons and similar shapes. We'd done rectangles already, but not triangles or rings. But there was nothing really new tonight; just a chance to recoup and review. I haven't decided if I'll do any of Chapters 10 or 11 yet, or if I'll just move on to 12... Chapter 10 has linear and exponential growth, which is important. Chapter 11 doesn't really interest me that much, so far (symmetries...the tiling stuff is cool, but I would like to understand it better before teaching it). Chapter 12 is Mandelbrot stuff.

Okay. Sleep now.

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27 March 2006

Pictures Galore

I finally cleaned a bunch of images out of my camera, many from the blizzard. I'll share the ones I like the most.

Triple Candelabra

When Flash Meets Snow

Same View, Sans Flash

Jean Luc in the Snow

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26 March 2006

Odds and Ends (and one new Parcel)

Power's back on. It's been on since about 9:00 this morning, judging by the elapsed time on some reset clocks. Still haven't gotten pictures off of my camera, so no blizzard pics. I find it incredibly amusing that there were three inches of snow on the ground this morning...and now it's all gone!

I find that I'm prioritizing tasks by whichever seems the least annoying. Today, Matrix homework was less annoying than grading math homework. So I worked on Matrix homework (I'm a week behind, as I didn't do anything at all with it over break; I THINK I can catch up this week, though). I've been doing a bit of cleaning and rearranging as well. I finally took apart my defunct shoe chest that had been by the door. It would no longer open without Herculean effort...I'm considering making a cupboard/hideaway desk out of it.

Anyway, when I got sick of matrix homework (and decided that I needed some reference books from my office for one problem), I started writing more for my Devil Falls story. For some reason, this one is breaking down into sections. Prologue, Diaspora (referring to magic, not people), Interlude, Fanning the Flames. The Diaspora section is already nearly as long as the entire Parsival story was. And needs to be extended a bit, but that will wait.

And the most important bit of news: Kim and Spence have a new baby! Congratulations to them! (Incidentally, I really hope this is Kim's last kid; pregnancy does NOT agree with her. I fear for her safety if she has another. Unfortunately, she told me once she was planning on 3. *sighs*).

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I stayed at my mom's house last night, and as of an hour ago, the power was still out at my place. I was expecting it to be back on this morning, so I did a bit of hunting and found a local news site with this article on it. Basically, power's out all over the place between here and IF. I've got some nice pictures of the blizzard from last night, but I forgot to grab my connector to get them off of the camera, so those will wait.

At my place, the wind didn't do very much damage (aside from the power outage). A few branches from my neighbor's tree are in my yard, and that's about it. In fact, I think I heard those branches fall shortly before the power went out. I heard some enormous gusts of wind at that time. The power did flicker a few times at Mom's place, but that was about it. So I'm hanging out here, and hoping it's back on by tonight. If not, Mom's going to have a houseguest for a few days. :^)

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25 March 2006

Batteries and Dial-Up

Just as I noticed an "Extreme Thunderstorm Warning" on the Weather Channel, poof! Out goes the power. Still out, in fact. Lap-tops with batteries are a wonderful thing. Phonelines are still working (obviously) and my mom said SHE still has power... I'll give it another hour, but be prepared to go over there. Mainly for the heat. I don't mind the lack of lights. I finally found a practical use for my triple candelabra!

Anyway, I don't want to stay on too long with a thunderstorm nearby, so Gute Nacht.

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24 March 2006

Random links

  • From Positive Liberty, Jason Kuznicki's random assortment for the day. The dream/amnesia stuff is the most interesting, imo, especially the link to Wikipedia's discussion of lucid dreaming.
  • From Pharyngula, two items. First, a description of an ID debate that did not go as planned... :^D Gotta love it. And an article disussing the futility of civility in religious discussion. How accurate this is will largely depend on the type of religioso involved, but he makes some good points. I particularly like this from the comments: "[T]he Christian heaven would be a true hell for [Richard Carrier]. He pointed out that, if he knew billions of people were suffering agonizing torture for all eternity, and he couldn't do a thing about it while sitting up in heaven, that would be the worst afterlife he could imagine." I agree.
  • Good Math, Bad Math takes a look at a rather bizarre analogy claiming that dinosaurs wouldn't have been able to stand in normal earth gravity. It reminds me of a Monty Python sequence where they started with a discussion of the Communism Domino Effect, which used a decaying teeth analogy, mentioned toothpaste, and discussed the toothpaste using a race analogy... I think it went on, but the point was well made.
  • This was just a cool title: Yoda Helps Unlock Cathedral Mysteries.
  • Someone finally noticed that, in America, form doesn't follow funtion. I've noticed for years that most banks look like the fancy rest areas you see along the interstate. What message does that send?
  • *grins* And not only do whale-songs come in dialects, they also have their own grammar.
  • And, guess what we've accomplished by interefering in Afghanistan: a man sentenced to die for converting to Christianity. Like many others, I have to wonder how long it will be before we start seeing this in Iraq. Yup. We're liberators. Defending Freedom everywhere that it won't inconvenience us economically (dead soldiers are okay; we just don't want to sour trade relations), and pretending that we're actually making things better for those people. Wonderful.

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23 March 2006

Chicago and other Tapdances

Chicago (the musical) is currently on. Possibly a coincidence, but Clews has linked to an article about the true stories that inspired it. Sounds like the beginnings are close, but the Hollywood ending is much...prettier and flamboyant.

Would you believe me if I told you that the two murderesses featured in the recent hit movie Chicago were just the twin tips of the iceberg, and that in Chicago, in the 1920s, it was literally impossible for any prosecutor to win a murder conviction against a woman, especially a pretty woman, as no male juries were willing to pronounce a female guilty of murder? Would you believe that dozens and dozens of women were acquitted of murder charges despite overwhelming evidence that they'd shot and killed their lovers and husbands?

I love this movie... "So I fired two warning shots...into his head."
"Some guys just can't hold their arsenic."
From the song He had it Comin'.

Oh, and CSI was pre-empted for basketball. I find this quite irritating, as fake dead bodies are much more interesting than bouncy balls.

And reality is the ultimate tapdance:

I would just post the link, but you have to pay to access the archives, and I haven't bothered. Oh, I should probably explain: Dave (the one hiding under the desk) used to work for a mad scientist intent on taking over the world. He felt much safer there.

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Cute Kitty Bowls

These are the bowls I found at TJ Maxx. I finally got new batteries for my camera to take a picture of them. Yeah, they're silly. But they make me smile.

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21 March 2006

Untypical Tuesday

My jump drive has been sputtering lately. Last night it almost wouldn't connect to my primary computer, so I backed up all its files. This morning I checked it on the laptop, and it did the same thing. So I wandered over to Office-Max and lucked into a sale on travel drives. My old one held 128 MB, and never got filled up, but it was only $25 for one that held 512 MB, so I got it. I figure I'll dismantle the now-defunct one sometime and see what made it tick.

I also wandered over to TJ Maxx, and found some very strange dessert-size bowls. They have a stylized Asian style cat inside and out. I found them rather cute, and cheering, so I got two of them. (Not much has been cheering to me lately, so I consider this a justified expense)

After I got to my office, I realized that both my math 123 book and the tests were at home... Not good, since I normally don't go home until AFTER Math 123. So I skipped Matrix analysis to go home and get them, and just stayed to grade the tests. It is extremely sad that grading tests sounded much better than going to class.

We'll spend part of class going over the tests, then we're starting on Fibonacci sequences. I haven't decided how much I'll add to what's in the book. I guess I'll head back up to my office and start thinking about that now.

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19 March 2006

Too Good not to Share

I recently discovered that Neil Gaiman keeps a web-journal. He has written some excellent books, including American Gods and Neverwhere, and he was the writer for the Sandman comic book series (highly recommended both for artwork and story). This recent entry was wonderfully entertaining, though I'm sure it was a bit worrisome when the letter first arrived. Basically, a law firm requesting removal of a link that does not exist on Neil's site.

Okay, I'll try not to post anything else today. I'm sort of in hyperactive avoidance mode, which means I'm trying to do useful things that do not involve grading papers. There will be massive grading sessions later to haunt me, but I don't care at this particular moment. I've got plenty of other things that need doing. Like, making blog entries. And cooking dinner. And rearranging the living room. And cleaning the living room. And washing dishes. And rambling on aimlessly...

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Dogs, Lightbulbs, and a Cat

For once, an amusing forward from my mom. There were images for each one, but they don't want to load into blogger so if you want a picture, look up each breed of dog on Google. ;^)

How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb?

1. Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our
whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid
burned out bulb?

2. Border Collie: Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not
up to code.

3. Dachshund: You know I can't reach that stupid lamp!

4. Rottweiler: Make me.

5. Boxer: Who cares? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.

6. Lab: Oh, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can
I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeeeze, please, please, please!

7. German Shepherd: I'll change it as soon as I've led these people from
the dark, check to make sure I haven't missed any, and make just one
more perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of
the situation.

8. Jack Russell Terrier: I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the
walls and furniture.

9. Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? I'm sorry, but I don't see a light

10. Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the

11. Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb. Or "We don't need no stinking light

12. Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?

13. Australian Shepherd: First, I'll put all the light bulbs in a little

14. Poodle: I'll just blow in the Border Collie's ear and he'll do it.
By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.


How many cats does it take to change a light bulb?

Cats do not change light bulbs. People change light bulbs. So, the real
question is:

"How long will it be before I can expect some light, some dinner, and a

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A very odd dream last night, probably partially inspired by Fibonacci's Borg-dream (if he doesn't post it, ask him about it sometime; it's quite fascinating).

I'm not sure if it was a post-apocalyptic future or an attempt to colonize an alien world. Could have been either, really. My POV character was Morgan Dye (a character in my Devil Falls stories). She had wound up leading an isolated segment of the colony that had undergone some massive trauma. Details are sketchy, but all the leaders were killed, as were many of the colonists. Others were missing.

Morgan finds an old monorail system, inhabited by a strange giant centipede, that at first I thought was the monorail car. She gets part of the monorail line working again, and discovers that the centipede avoids those parts of the rail she's managed to hook up to electricity again. She also finds a stash of supplies, but it's nothing particularly useful (100 'O's, some other type of food, and several thousand shoes; I think an 'O' was an Oreo cookie). Anyway, eventually she and the remaining colonists use the monorail hook up with a larger group, led by Spencer (good friend of mine; not sure how he wound up leader of an alien colony ;^). He's not happy with Morgan for holding out on him about the supplies, though he calms down when he finds out there wasn't much of use. It turns out that many of Morgan's missing colonists had preceded them, and had tried to start a revolution, casting out all who were "impure." They had been driven off before they could do much damage.

Fragmented bit here, where we turn to a book (either left by the insane colonists, or that Morgan had found with the supplies). The pages are black with white writing and it details the coming of one who will drive out all impurities. Morgan is convinced this...being...is haunting the cave/tunnel system where the monorail runs, and she has an image of a cloaked figure with glowing eyes.

And there the dream ends. I think they were planning to hunt the creature down, and preparing for battle against his converts.

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Semi-Random Spatterings of Scienceon Sunday

I haven't done this in a while, mostly because nothing's sufficiently caught my interest at a time when I had time to put it up in a timely manner, but here are some science-oriented links.

From Pharyngula, a plan for Cyborg Insects. It's worth skimming through the comments. I think the point is well-taken that, whether it works or not, the attempt will produce useful results. Though I'll be the first to admit that the idea is a bit far-fetched.

Also, from Good Math, Bad Math, an argument that Irreducible Complexity is unfalisifiable. It is quite elegant. In a nutshell, it is impossible in general to prove that any system is "minimal," because the ability to decide that something is "minimal" produces a contradiction. Much like Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. Good Math, Bad Math is a relatively new blog that I encountered via Pharyngula, and it is quite a refreshing addition. He's also got several discussions about bad probability arguments that are well worth reading.

A bit late, here's an awesome astronomy picture of the day, with cool (er, hot) science to go with it.

From UTI, an article discussing possible reasons we haven't had radio contact with any extra-solar intelligences yet. Pure speculation, but a lot of fun (check out the archives for some similar discussions a week or so ago).

Next, a discussion warmer sea temperatures and hurricanes. Whether you believe warmer temperatures are human-caused or not, it is no longer defensible to deny that the world is warming. (On the same site a while back, there was a discussion that, depending on the measure, it was impossible to say which of the previous ten years was the warmest on record, but the warmest year was ALWAYS within those ten) My take on this is that, maybe there's not enough data to conclude humans are responsible, but as we've found nothing else in the geologic record remotely like this and we have caused some MAJOR changes, it would be idiotic, irresponsible and insane not to consider that a likely possibility and take action accordingly. On a related note, CO2 levels continue to rise.

And from the external to the internal, sleep aid drugs may have some bizarre side effects. Choices make people less happy. And happiness makes ofr less accurate memories, while depression tends to induce more accurate ones. Seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, perhaps?

Anyway, that's enough for a while. Enjoy.

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18 March 2006


We got back last night, much to my surprise. Mom has never wanted to drive the whole way in one day before. Usually I suggest we might go further and she vetoes it instantaneously. So I was expecting we'd stop in Rock Springs. We were due to get there at 16:30. Then my mom asked how I was doing for driving, as she would like to make it further. I quickly switched my mental gears around, and said that I was okay to drive some more. So we got gas in Rock Springs and continued on. My mom drove after we got off the interstate and turned north towards Kemmerer, where we stopped and ate. I still had a "back-up" meal left from Fort Collins, and found a microwave in a gas station to heat it up in; my parents ate at the Subway in the same gas station. My mom drove to Cokeville, then we switched.

I was nearly wide awake at this point, and the fog woke me up further. It was thick enough that I had to slow down. I seemed to automatically choose a speed that gave me at least three seconds of road visibility in front of us. It continued off and on most of the way to Montpelier, petered out for a bit, then was back again either right before or right after Soda Springs. In Montpelier, Mom asked if I wanted to stop. "No, I'm good."
"Isn't the fog driving you crazy?"
"No, actually I'm enjoying it. It's helping keep me awake, too."

So we made it back into Pocatello around 19:30 make that 21:30... (3 hours would be very a impressive time, especially considering the stop for food, and the slow-down for fog). Judging by the snow on the ground this morning, it was probably just as well.

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16 March 2006

Endings and Beginnings

No yellow dragons at Grandma’s funeral, I am sad to report. Mom decided that she would buy me something, anything else to wear. So on Tuesday morning we went on a mad hunt through Foley’s and Sears, looking for something that she would consider “appropriate.” I considered the taiji jacket eminently appropriate, as it is my uniform. Mom had voices in her head whispering “Did you hear what Hazel’s granddaughter wore to her funeral?” Telling me this actually amused me, so that I was even more determined to wear my yellow dragons. If I’d had a real taiji sword, instead of my wooden practice one, I would have strapped that to my back as well. At any rate, we found nothing at all that was even worth trying on, and finally I told her that she might as well just get me a plain black taiji tunic. So we went back to the Asian Store, and they did have a plain black tunic in my size, but they also had a black shirt that wasn’t quite a taiji tunic, with a black dragon embroidered onto it. I told my mom I would wear either, and she/we went with the black on black dragon. I still think Grandma would have loved it if I’d worn the yellow dragons, but Mom was getting close to apoplexy, so I gave in.

The funeral was this morning. Methodist. Lots of old hymns. Just the way Grandma would have wanted it. I’m sure others found it comforting, but I stopped finding hymns or bible verses comforting as soon as I started actually listening to what they said. I think most people just hear what they want to hear and ignore the rest. I gave that up a long time ago. The casket was open before the funeral began, and Grandma did not look remotely like herself. She had nearly wasted away to nothing over the past few months, and the spark that made her her had gone. Mom saw it too. No one else commented on it.

Strangely, Akron feels more like home to me than Pocatello does, yet I’ve never stayed in Akron for more than two weeks at a time. I can feel…deep roots, here, connecting me to this place. My roots aren’t so strong in Pocatello. I’ve often had the feeling that it’s time to move on, but it feels stronger this time. At the very least, I think I’ll go on walk-about (or drive-about) this summer, and stay away for long periods of time. I don’t feel like anything’s holding me there any more. Maybe nothing ever was.

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13 March 2006

Here and There

Well, we left at 8:45 this morning and got to Fort Collins about 17:45... *sighs* 9 hours. On my own, it would have been 8 hours. I don't stop unless absolutely necessary, at least not when I have some place to get to.

Highlights: We saw two bald eagles. One was eating some (presumed) roadkill on the side of the highway. It was rather amusing to watch the smaller birds furtively sneaking in and trying to avoid the eagle's notice. The second was in flight.

More snow than usual for this time of year, and a few mildly "bad" spots between Rawlins and Laramie. Nothing major.

That was about it, except I realized I forgot to stick in any "nicer" clothes to wear for the funeral. So after dinner, I wandered over to Fort Collins's mall, expecting a long, painful, annoying, and arduous hunt. I walked in the door; looked to my left; saw a store FILLED with Asian goods. Including clothing.

Normally, I HATE to shop for clothing, but suddenly I was perfectly happy to look through and try on tons of stuff. I got a taiji uniform (black silk, gold dragon embroidery). The pants don't fit, but $40 was a steal just for the jacket. I also got a red linen shirt with frog-buttons, imperial collar, and dragons along the bottom. And I found a nice silk robe with a seafoam pattern of cranes and clouds. *sighs* Take me to an upscale dress store and I'll be bored to death. Take me to a lingerie store and I'll stare at you and ask why. Take me to an Asian import store that actually has clothing in my size...I suggest you stay out of my way, especially since they had a decent selection of knives and swords as well.

They also had some very nice embroidery paintings (they look like paintings from a distance, but when you get close you can see it's embroidery), lots of "lucky bamboo" (which is not, technically, bamboo), plenty of dragon/Buddha/Guan Yin statues, chopsticks, etc. I almost got a set of Foo Dogs/Lions... Dirt cheap compared to most places I've seen them, but they weren't quite the style I wanted. So I bought only clothing.

My mom was too tired to come with me, so I played show and tell when I got back. She liked the red shirt...and made a face when I showed her the taiji jacket. When I told her that was what I thought I would wear to the funeral (it's black, after all), she REALLY made a face. She said she would have gone with something more...conservative... (I think it's the yellow dragons she doesn't like). I just blinked at her. I think Grandma would approve, actually. I can see her looking at the dragons, looking at me, and just busting up laughing. So I'm going with it.

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12 March 2006


We leave tomorrow morning. I haven't packed yet, but I can do that before bedtime. I've got bread rising at the moment. I hope it turns out, as I don't really have time to try again tonight. I guess I could get up waaay early in the morning.

I was in experimentation mode tonight, which is why I don't know if it will turn out. I used Bette Hagman's Featherlight recipe, basically, but only the half the flour is her featherlight mix. The rest is a mixture of sorghum flour, my 4-flour white bean mix, and chopped buckwheat groats (allowed to soak for a while). Why? Because it sounded good.

A note on baking GF bread: the most important thing seems to be the water temperature. I can mix and match the flours, so long as about half of it is a base known to work well, and so long as I get enough liquid in it, the determining factor for how well it turns out seems to be water temperature. Here, Bette Hagman is no help. Her recipes all say "lukewarm - about 105 degrees Fahrenheit." This does NOT work well when you add the yeast with the dry ingredients. On the jar of yeast, it suggests 130 degrees when yeast is mixed with the dry ingredients. However, there is a further complication. More than half of the liquid in GF bread is NOT from water. There's eggs, oil, honey, lemon juice... All sitting nicely at room temperature waiting to mix with the warm water you pour in. I experimented with different temperatures for a while, and found that 160 degrees works nicely. Now, I think Bette Hagman tends not to have quite so much non-water (uses egg whites, not whole eggs; only 1 t of vinegar, not 1 T lemonjuice), and maybe it's less of an issue at sea level, but I find that I really need the higher temperature.

*sighs* Dad's still planning on going with us to Colorado. Mom's not happy about it, but she's not up to telling him off, either. No clue if I'll have internet access for a while. Maybe in Fort Collins tomorrow night, but it's pretty unlikely in Akron.

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11 March 2006

News and New Toys

The funeral will most likely be on Thursday. We're planning on leaving for Colorado on Monday. Strangely, my dad has opted to come. Why strange? Because he normally avoids anything remotely resembling a family gathering. He didn't even come over on Friday when Mom called and gave him the news that Grandma was dead. My Aunt Sandra and Uncle George came over (Sandra is Dad's sister), but not Dad. Of course, it's possible he'll change his mind by Monday.

Knowing that Grandma had left me some money, I opted to buy a new laptop. My old one was, well, VERY old, and the connection that allows it to actually be plugged in and run was broken. I had been considering buying one for a while now, but the good ones were too pricey. I'd been hoping to find a decent refurbished one, actually, but I decided to use some of Grandma's money to get a top-of-the-line one. It has a wireless internet card. I've spent roughly the last two hours playing with it, and got it working about a half-hour ago. I had to (a) reconfigure my DSL modem for wireless, (b) choose an encryption key, and (c) put the laptop on automatic configuration to get it to work. When I asked the guy at Galaxy about setting it up, he said that the most important thing was to have it encrypted. Otherwise anyone and their evil cousin/twin/dog could piggyback a ride on your wireless network.

The rest of Grandma's money will go first into savings, and from there maybe into a CD or an IRA My mom tried to explain IRA's to me while we were both very exhausted; I eventually said, "Ok, I know you're speaking English, but..." Here's what I got out of it. There are two kinds of IRA's. On one, you get a tax deduction when you put the money in, and then you PAY taxes on it when you take the money out. On the other, you just put the money in and never pay taxes on it. I asked her why there were two kinds. She said it was because the second option was simpler. I blinked at her and asked why the first option was still around. The answer, essentially, was bureaucracy. I have no clue how interest, etc, works on IRA's. But if I can get a better rate that way, it might be worthwhile to start one with at least some of the money.

On a strange note, my shoulders were LESS tense in taiji this morning than they have been. I suspect I've been carrying my worries about Grandma in my shoulders, and now the worst is past, so the worry is gone. Now if I can just figure out what worries to let go of to get my hips to open up... *sighs*

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10 March 2006


sprawled across the bed,
her skin so cold, eyes staring,
no pulse to be found

the smell of sausage
frying in the morning for
breakfast at her house

independence lost
by she who was always free:
free again, at last

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Grandma's gone. She passed away sometime between 3:30 and 6:30 this morning. I mourn for her, but my strongest emotion right now is relief. She's out of pain. My mom no longer has to struggle with trying to take care of Grandma, working, and practicing music for church. I had realized that we were on a deathbed vigil... I don't think it had sunk in for Mom yet, so she's pretty shaken up.

I have an image of Grandma's spirit flying through the house, yelling either "Whee!" or "Free!"

The timing is...well, strangely perfect. The funeral will almost certainly be late next week in Colorado, and since it's spring break I won't have to disrupt anything to attend. But I'm supposed to be looking up phone numbers for family members right now, so I better get on that.

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09 March 2006


Grandma is as comfortable as she's likely to get, stuck in a bed and unable to move. Last night...was not fun. She rolled out of bed. I discovered that I could (barely) lift her off the floor unaided. It was in an awkward spot where another person would have been more hindrance than help. However, the hospice people brought a hospital bed with rails, so she's not going to roll out again. The Rahims also arranged for some anti-nausea medication, so maybe she'll be able to keep some food down. I guess she drank some Boost (senior multi-vitamin drink), but not very much.

Speaking of which, I haven't had a decent meal yet today. I cooked a good meal for lunch...only I guess the sausage had been in the freezer too long. It hadn't gone bad, it just tasted old, and I couldn't stand to eat much of it. However, I have leftovers from lunch yesterday (Canton Restaurant in IF), and rice will be done soon to go with it. Then I'm heading back over to Grandma's house. They couldn't find an overnight Nurse/Aide/Worker, some title like that, on such short notice, and Mom doesn't want to be alone. I don't blame her.

I didn't get much sleep last night. Mom needed help with Grandma several times, and after the second time I didn't do much more than doze. I did doze off long enough for one very weird dream: Granny Weatherwax (from Discworld) was on the rampage and killed me in the Fred Meyer electronics department; when I was killed, it was like my mind turned inside out and I was in a sort of trance/limbo state, waiting for her to bring me back (apparently, this was a story with a happy ending, though there's none like it in the actual Discworld universe). I woke up before that could be resolved, and my head still felt like it had been turned inside out. Caffeinated tea got me through the morning, but I've been slowly wilting since. Only the promise of food is keeping me going at the moment.

Something very strange happened last night, though it may have been nothing more than a delusion brought on by lack of sleep. I could have sworn I felt Death enter the house, and when I woke up in the morning, there was still this sense of...presence. Waiting. *sighs*

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08 March 2006

Beginning of the End

Grandma has quit dialysis. She has no energy any more and is sick of the invalid existence. We all know that she's not going to get better. I think she's decided that she would rather die than get any worse. Only one day after quitting, the signs of kidney failure have begun. Vomiting. Diarrhea. Her blood sugar is low and she can't keep anything down. I'm not sure she'll last the night.

But Mom can't get her to and from the bathroom on her own, so I'm staying the night. A hospice worker will be there in the morning. Until then, adieu.

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07 March 2006


While waiting for my window to be replaced this morning, I had time to finish reading Rudyard Kipling's Kim (Amazon). I've actually been close to done for two weeks now, but I kept misplacing the book. Unlike many books, though, I had no difficulty whatsoever remembering the plot threads, so I could just pick up again where I'd left off. And this was an awesome book.

My normal reading faire is scifi/fantasy. I find most other fiction (especially mysteries) too dry to read on a regular basis. Kim does have some mystical elements in it, so perhaps that was part of why I liked it, but the writing is absolutely brilliant. I was hooked from page 1.

It is about a boy named Kim, and a Tibetan lama who forever changes his destiny. It's set in India, late 1800's. All of the sites, sounds and descriptions feel absolutely real, likely because Kipling grew up in India. Because of the lama, Kim has a chance to "change his stars" (phrase from A Knight's Tale, not Kipling), or rather, rediscover his true stars, and find they need not change.

At its heart, it's the story of a young man torn between two paths. He can serve the lama as his faithful chela, or he can serve the British government as a spy and informant. He tries to do both, to reconcile the two paths, with mixed results. Meanwhile, the lama is on a quest for a river that sprouted from an arrow shot by the Buddha. Anyone who bathes in this water will wash away all past karma and be free of the Wheel of Birth and Rebirth forever. All through the book, Kim is torn between his duty to the imperialists, to the government, and his duty to the lama. It is beautifully done, and highly recommended.

(Ironic Note: I have a Barnes & Noble edition, and it strikes me as amusing that this same edition can be purchased through Amazon)

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06 March 2006


Mom: "I assume you've covered up your car window by now."
Me: "No."
Mom: "What if it snows tonight?"
Me: "Then snow will get in the car."

Then Mom went on a big rant about how my car seat would never dry out again, and rot and mildew and smell like rotting corpses (she didn't say that, but she implied it), and only stopped when I agreed to take a blanket out to cover it when I got home. So there is now a blanket to keep the worst of the weather out. As it's getting fixed tomorrow, it really wasn't worth it to get out the clear plastic and duct tape.

Another conversation:
Mom: "Have you gotten all the glass out of your car yet?"
Me: "No."
Mom: *gives me a look*
Me: "Hey, I had to leave it on the street essentially unlocked for a few hours tonight. I figured if it was covered in glass, no one would want to steal it."
Mom: *sighs and nods*

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Shaken, 75 mph

The front left window of my car is now in many many small pieces.

What I remember: Brownish tan pickup passing me, older style. Mostly past. Sudden noise, change in light. Window next to me is crinkling, crackling... Slowing down, pulling over. Glass falls in and out. Breathing.

I presume that the pickup kicked up a rock and it hit the window at exactly the wrong speed and angle. I wasn't hurt; just shaken up. Nothing like having a window shatter roughly a foot from your face to wake you up, I'll tell you. This was on the interstate, somewhere between Blackfoot and Fort Hall. After I determined that I was in one piece, and that the only car damage was the window, I called my mom. She had called me earlier in the drive, and I had ignored it because it was rather windy and I didn't want to be distracted by the phone. After I told her what had happened, she told me I could ignore her earlier calls...she'd wanted me to get Grandma's oxygen tanks filled. Not happening, at the moment.

Anyway, I drove the last 12 or so miles home with no window. At 75 mph. In the summer, this would have been merely horrendously noisy. But with the wind and rain, it was also annoyingly frigid. Called insurance when enough of the adrenaline had worn off. I have a $250 deductible on glass-repair. The window-fix is about $150. So the insurance is useless to me at the moment. (I mentioned this to the guy at the glass shop and he suggested I try for the rear window next time; all the wires for the defroster jump the price up apparently) On the bright side, they will have the part tomorrow morning, so my car will only be ventilated for the next 17 hours or so.

A sidenote to all this: I did not make any conscious decision to pull my car over to the side of the road when this happened. I felt my foot on the brake, noticed that I was slowing down and going to the right, then noticed that the car had stopped. My old Stanza was hit in a parking lot once. Something very similar happened, but there I can't even remember the first few moments after impact.

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05 March 2006

A Recipe for Indigestion

I haven't said much about my parents lately. Mom's been a lot happier since she moved in with Grandma (despite having to deal with Grandma's problems), and Dad's been rather improved as well. Mom and Dad get along a lot better when they don't see each other very much. Before Dad retired, he worked swingshift (16:00 to midnight), while Mom worked a regular 9:00 to 17:00 job. So they saw each other for very short periods of time. Then Dad retired. Now that they're back to seeing each other for very short periods of time again, they are getting along better. Note that Mom has not told my dad that she does not plan to move back, EVER. *sighs*

However, my dad is still insisting on separate bank accounts, and keeps strict track of who pays for meals when they eat out. I generally eat out with them once a week, on Sunday at noon. Today I was treated to an argument over whose turn it was, and had to listen to my dad's ludicrous posturing and scheming. Needless to say, I didn't eat much. I also didn't stick around for very long; as soon as I'd eaten all I could stand, I walked over to the nearest store (happened to be a Rite-Aid). Mostly, I've been trying to ignore it when they discuss whose "turn" it is...this is the first time it's turned into an argument, and I really hope it doesn't become a habit.

On a happier note, I've gotten most of the Math 123 homework graded. Haven't even looked at the Math015 tests, but as it's likely that someone will need to take it tomorrow morning, anyway, it's just as easy if they don't get them back until Wednesday.

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04 March 2006

Babylon 5, Season 3

I finished the Season 3 DVD's yesterday, though not all the special features. Overall, very very well done (except for the first few episodes, which were rather rocky). One thing the I really like about Babylon 5 is that all of the glimpes of the future eventually come to pass (and often in a way entirely different from what we might have expected). This season contains my favorite (2-part) episode: War Without End. I love this line (as best I remember it): "Delenn, the disappearance of Babylon 4 is one of the greatest mysteries of our time. And now you're telling me that we stole it? Are going to steal it? Will have stolen it?"

The thing that I don't like about Star Trek is that, with a few exceptions, every episode is independent from every other episode. Yes, there are some story-arcs, but those are the exception in Star Trek. The advantage to that format is that you don't need a huge synopsis to figure out what's going on, but it feels...flat to me. Stale. After Buffy and Angel, where the entire season had its own story arc, I got rather sick of the independent episode format (and though I love to watch reruns of M*A*S*H, I think it could have been done much more effectively as a running story instead of a bunch of independent stories). I know B5 came before Buffy and Angel, but I didn't see it until it came on reruns on Sci-Fi. I think it was the first major series to use that format. If there was an earlier one, I'd like to hear about it and compare.

At any rate, back to Season 3. The best episodes (in order) are 4: Passing Through Gethsemane, 9: Point of No Return, 13: A Late Delivery from Avalon, 16&17:War Without End and essentially the rest of the season (Eps 18 through 22). Though I do have a question about Ep. 19 (Grey 17 is Missing): Why didn't anyone check on this when Babylon 5 first opened up for business? Yeah, sure, I can see a level getting cut off somehow, but that no one tried to check it out for three years? However, the rest of the episode was quite good, and the Grey 17 part felt sort of like the Zeppo episode on Buffy (a chance for a usually background character to shine). *shrugs*

So...now I'll be on the lookout for another sale before I can acquire Season 4. In the commentary for Season 2, J. Michael Straczynski (whoa, I spelled it right on the first try) mentioned that all the seasons end in cliffhangers because he was always afraid the network would try to cancel the show. So Season 2 ended with the pilot character recording a Shadow vessel before dying. Season 3 ends with Sheridan seemingly doomed on Z'Ha'Dum. I might be more strident about acquiring the next season if I hadn't already seen enough of Season 4 to know that Sheridan survives. :^D

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First, a comment about my previous post: Novocaine messes with my head. There's nothing that I actually disagree with down there, but it's not the sort of thing I would have posted in a more...less...whacked out frame of mind.

Second, I was writing before bedtime last night, and wound up dreaming that all the plot resolutions could be described by a complex mathematical algorithm. Certain events had to be repeated over and over and over again, with minor variations, until the limit was achieved. Needless to say, I have no plans of writing this way (except maybe for a short story), as it would get extremely boring.

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03 March 2006

I Am Grey

In Terry Pratchett's universe, a witch is someone who stands on the outside, who walks the edges between, without ever being part of either side. I feel like that sometimes. Most of the time. I am always on the outside, looking in, standing between the light and the shadow...the candle and the star. I watch and observe, but rarely participate.

I stand on the brink in each and every moment. The brink between future and past, action and inaction, despair and elation. I watch and wait, and rarely act. I am the leeway, the knife's edge, the one-in-between. There is no place where I fit. There never has been.

I am a Taoist in a society dominated by Christian ideals. I am a female in the fields of math and science, still dominated by males. I am an only child, and an only grandchild. I am a freethinker in a society dominated by obedience to the norm, and now becoming more fascist than ever before. I will not be coerced. I will not back down. This is who I am.

In taiji, we practice moving between extremes, between weighted and unweighted, between yin and yang. We avoid staying at the place-between, at the place where weight and power are evenly distributed. Taiji class is one of the few places where I have ever felt like I belonged, like I wasn't an outsider looking in. There, the form stands in the place-between, between thought and no-thought, between stillness and motion, and unites the disparate sides even as it separates them. There I am at home, at peace, at one. Everywhere else, I am the observer, the cataloguer, the one standing on the outside, between the shadow and the light.

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02 March 2006

Strange Day

I had a Matrix test today. My version of studying was to work on the homework that is currently late (close to being done now) and look over the Polynomial Matrix division algorithm in the book (which I couldn't follow, but I figured out my own way that seems to work), since there hadn't been any problems over it. I concluded that such a problem was likely too long for the test, unless the polynomials were of degree two or less.

I had no clue how I'd do on the test, but I think I did all right. There were 10 problems, and we needed to work 8. I got seven of them done... One of the remaining three was about elementary forms of polynomial matrices, which I had essentially ignored. One was three canonical forms for one matrix... I could think of two (Row-Column equivalence and RREF)... Possibly Diagonalizing it would have counted, but I wasn't sure. The last one was to prove that an eigenvalue of (A+B) must be a sum of the eigenvalues of A & B. I tried many things, and kept getting stuck. Then I reread the instructions: Prove or Disprove. I picked two random matrices, tried it, and NOPE. Not true. So that got me up to 8 problems, and I was done.

The others were mostly straight forward, since I had mostly finished the homework.

Then I was starved and couldn't breathe (and it was after 16:00 so I was already late to help with Melissa's taiji class), so I made a run home for decongestant and food. While I was there, my mom called. Grandma's in the hospital again. She fell on Tuesday (and was stuck till Mom got home; I wonder if she'd accept an emergency notification device if I bought one for her...) and today when she went to Dialysis, they decided she'd probably injured something in the fall. So they sent her up to the hospital for something that sounded like "pistogram" or "pistulegram" or something like that. Mom thought they might be done by 19:00, but wasn't sure. To be honest, I think Grandma would be better off in the hospital at the moment. She's been off all week, and 'round the clock observation would be a very good thing. So I was more relieved than worried to hear she was in the hospital again. *sighs*

Last night I stopped over at Grandma's house after work, and Grandma was already in bed. Mom said Grandma wanted some support handles put in on one of the upstairs toilets, so I helped figure out how to put the thing together. We're not sure why she wanted handles on that toilet, since it's no closer to her room than the main bathroom, and it's smaller, so harder to get her walker in there, but the handles are on now.

No time for writing since Sunday, mainly because of writing and grading tests. One more to write for next week, and I have 015 tests to grade, but those tend to go quickly. I do need to get Math 123 homework graded this weekend, before their test, but that's doable. There are less than 20 people in that class.

Random connection: I've got the first draft of next fall's schedule now. It's a nice schedule, actually. I work MW evenings, two classes, and TTh from 9 am to 14:15 (with a break in the middle). Which leaves Fridays free (except for the new Math025 testing center, possibly), and most of MW free. I like this. I've got one section of Stats, so I'm hoping to restructure my teaching style there. I was getting so bogged down in HW grading last fall (partly because of Grandma being in and out of the hospital, but still, not good). I also have one that I haven't taught: 257, which is apparently a math class for elementary ed majors. Annik says it's fairly interesting (except she's done it 6 semesters in a row and is now sick of it).

Background Noise: Ahsan and Dina seem to be having a major fight in her office. It's quite distracting, and loud enough to be heard despite her door being shut. I'm not sure that shutting my door would help any.

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