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Because I am, apparently, on a role with posting about fire alarms, more news.   In which ResLife needs to improve its screening process. )

On an unrelated note, TH is having its semi-formal next Saturday. The girl living next to me will be hosting a pre-semi-formal "make-up" party to prepare. In which I am uncomfortable with being put into the 'female' category while those might actually be interested in attending a make-up party are excluded because they not biologically female.  )

Anyway, in general TH is quite open to people who identify outside the bounds of a male-female dichotomy. This bugged me, though.

And it is now extremely late and I ought to go to bed.  Pre-registration tomorrow!  Yay!  :P  (Why do we pre-register in APRIL for classes that will be starting in SEPTEMBER?  What is the actual likelihood that I will still be interested in anything I currently want to take in four and a half months?  Very small, given the three month rule.)
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Okay. I don't really like pot, but I am willing to accept that 1) it is probably a less harmful drug than a lot of others, and 2) as long as the pot smokers don't bother me (or anyone else) with their pot-smoking ways, they should be allowed to do what they want.

But tonight, the second part of that did not happen.

And so I say to the world: FUCK YOU, POT SMOKERS!!!!!!

Okay, I am done. Deep breath.

Spring Weekend explains everything. )
(Light) violence occurs. )

And, to top it all off, my permanently sleep-deprived self was attempting to go to bed early tonight. :P Not that a minor disruption in my already disrupted sleep schedule matters anything like BEING CHOKED BY A FELLOW STUDENT, but still. It does not exactly help my mood right now.

(On another random sidenote, as I was walking back from the eatery to my dorm, I realized that "reckless" and "recluse" are pronounced nearly the same.)


4:10am—The fire alarm just went off again.  Pot smoke was apparently everywhere on the third floor; I guess the second floor people learned?  BUT APPARENTLY NO ONE ELSE DID.

8:24am—Okay, now we are getting a little suspicious.  Every four hours?  It is very mysterious.  In my humble experience, periodic fire alarms are usually a combination of environmental triggers and mechanical finickiness. )

Campus security is considering looking into the pot smoking in my building. YAY!!!!!!!!! )

As for I managed to live across the hallway from one of the biggest pot dealers on campus and failed to realize it until early April of last year ... Not terribly interesting. )  I still can't believe that I never realized that that was what she was doing.  :P

9:51am—The New York Times needs to work on its article headlines, because on Thursday, apparently, there was one titled "C.I.A. Sued for Failure to Release Bay of Pigs History."  Perhaps it is simply my sleep-deprived self having trouble resolving relative clauses and thus being more inclined to read a main verb in everything, but I thought the CIA was doing the suing, not being sued.  I suppose at least it's better than "Qaddafi Forces Bear Down on Rebels," which I also read as a main verb ("forces" as in "Qaddafi made a bear go sit on the rebels").

12:10pm—The fire alarm did NOT go off at noon.  Thus, either the pot smokers finally got the picture, or they were removed forcibly from the building, or an alarm tech came and fixed the mechanical problem (if one existed).  Hopefully this is now over ...

8:01pm—Although it is not entirely clear, two facts appear to have emerged.  1) Some alarms were caused by pot smoke, others by what seems to be mechanical failure. 2) I might have to pay up to $50 for alarms that I did not set off. :P )

When I got back from lunch, there was more pot smell in the hallways.  Honestly, people, haven't you had enough already?  Did FIVE FIRE ALARMS teach you anything?  Apparently not.  I called campus security, and they came, but unfortunately they can't do anything unless we actually see someone smoking pot, or see smoke coming out of their room, or can pinpoint which room based on where the smell was coming from.  This is extremely difficult when there are multiple rooms whose occupants are smoking, as the smoke ends up everywhere (even the basement, where no one lives).  So ... total failure, but at least we made friends with Steve the DPS officer, who will come help us out if we can catch anyone in the act!

And ... last but not least, we realized that Wednesday is 4/20.  I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF POT FOR THE WEEK!!!!!!!!  :P  So basically that means we're likely going to have another round of fire alarms on Wednesday ... A couple of us THers have contemplated setting out on pot patrols on Wednesday to see if we can get people in trouble for it, but I feel like that might be going to far.  It isn't actually harming anyone, at least not seriously; by the end of the semester, this will have become hilarious.  It seems a bit overly vindictive to purposefully try to catch people in the act.  On the other hand, if I happen to be walking by and happen to see people, I will not hesitate to call campus security.  I am sick of my hallway smelling like pot all the time.

9:33pm—Well, since I have already begun a dissertation on my weekend, I suppose I shall continue.  The laundry machine attempted to eat my card; B managed to bring it back from the depths of the machine's throat.  Then, the drier decided that my clothes were very wet and needed to be dried for 99 minutes (rather than the usual 60).  I can obviously take them out early, but strange things always make me wonder whether something went wrong.  I watched Doctor Who again, which was awesome, but which I am afraid of getting obsessed with because there seven hundred episodes to watch.  I thought last summer was bad, in which I watched all of 24 (~200 episodes) twice through; Doctor Who would be exponentially worse.  But!  It's fun, and it's one of the only events in the War Room for which fifty people are not squeezed in, which means I can actually be comfortable while watching.
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Today was a wonderful day. (Excepting the rain, of course.) Here is a list:

1) The environmental science department is going to let me do my linguistics thesis!!!!! I just have to find an advisor who is willing to let me do it for bachelor of science credit, and I am set to go! Plus, I know who I want as an advisor!!! Okay, that was a lot of exclamation points, but yay!

2) My linguistic anthropology professor said "you really are a linguistic anthropologist!" Maybe that's a little bit of a strange thing to be happy about, but it's always nice when a professor acknowledges that you've been very enthusiastic about a topic.

3) One of my friends in ADPhi and I had a battle over whether TH or ADPhi was more nerdy. TH won (as far as I'm concerned ... because I am totally not biased ...) when another THer and I managed to slip in a discussion of materials science when talking about how we can't paint our lounge because it has lead paint. (Metanerdery! Metametanerdery! ... Okay.) The best my ADPhi friend was able to do was point out that the nerdery of TH and ADPhi often overlap.

4) Last but not least, my brother achieved everlasting fame. I could not be prouder.

Okay, the list is a little shorter than I originally expected, because it felt like such a monumental day. Nonetheless.
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Dear Google,

I know that many people, myself included, wanted to be astronauts when we were children. (Some of us still wish we could!) I look up at the moon each night and wish I could walk through its canyons and crevices, could see the ice on Mars with my own eyes, could climb to the top of Olympus Mons, could breathe the methane (... nitrogen) atmosphere of Titan, could see the mice—er, ice of Europa. I have imagined diamonds raining down from the sky of Neptune, or what it would be like to live on a moon instead of a planet, I have created planets that orbit around two stars, I have calculated the angles of the suns, I have dreamed of visiting the planets of science fiction—Romulus and Vulcan, Tatooine, Arrakis, Pern, Gallifrey, and so many others.

Sadly, this is not yet possible. I am sorry to break the news to you; I know, dear Google, that you too dream that the future would hurry up and get here already, so that within our lifetimes ordinary people might visit the moon, other planets, other solar systems, other galaxies. Would that we could go into hyperdrive today!

Google, I appreciate your kind intentions in reminding me of my childhood dream. However, I would appreciate it even more if you would not get my hopes up by claiming that the "Commemoration of the First Human In Space" event I will probably attend tomorrow actually occurs in "space," as your wonderful invention, Google Calendar, attempted to deduce.

It does not, actually, occur in space, but rather in the geology building. Nearly the same, but not quite.

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Many strange things happen with pdf files when you try to download them from the internet (or at least, many strange things happen to me when I attempt to download them; occasionally, I wonder whether it has something to do with using Google Chrome, as this many odd things didn't happen when I used Firefox, but I really don't know).

Sometimes they open once, and then never open again, so I have to download them over and over again (or print to pdf, if I remember to do so before closing the pdf).

Sometimes they don't open at all.

Sometimes they are completely blank.

Sometimes they are the wrong article (though that's probably my fault ^^).

And sometimes, apparently, they are the correct article, but the text fills about 1/32nd of the page, and shows up off in the bottom left-hand corner. I can kind of understand if it appears in the upper left-hand corner, but the lower left-hand corner? What?

Anyway, I went to my ex-roommate's thesis performance yesterday. I have absolutely no idea what it was about, or what she was trying to do, or the point, or anything. She took all these pictures of her own face, and then wrote poetry about them, as some sort of an attempt to understand the modern "culture of the interface." I have no idea what that means. I don't understand MCM at all.

I guess it was good ... except it had something to do with everyone in the audience being my roommate's "friend" (that much, at least, I understood to be metaphorical), so she went through this very odd ritual at the beginning that was supposed to make everyone in the audience her "friend." Maybe part of the point was that in the age of Facebook we label a huge number of people who we barely know as "friends," so that it was both superficial and realistic that she was calling the audience members her friends ... but as someone who doesn't use Facebook and is very conservative in my use of the word "friend," I found it a bit odd.

However, the part that really, really, really bothered me was that the person who was greeting us kept touching me—she would put her hand on my shoulder, and her other hand on my arm, and then in a very earnest voice ask "are you going to stay for the whole thing?" and then, at the end of the performance, she did exactly the same thing and asked "did you enjoy the performance? I hope you enjoyed it!" and things like that. I should note that it wasn't just me though she was doing this with—it was everyone. I think it was an attempt, again, to make us like "friends", but—well, I nearly exploded. It was actually physically painful. Sensory overload. CANNOT HANDLE.

My ex-roommate was the one who was actually seating people, and she kept taking people by the hand and leading them to their seats. Luckily, though, she still seated me even though I flat out refused to take her hand.

But! We continued our Firefly watching last night, and got to watch the garbage disposal episode, which is hands down my favorite. So that made everything a little better. :)
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All I have to say is: theory, you made my day. Completely and utterly. I spent about ten minutes laughing uncontrollably while waiting in line for the transfer dean's office hours. This woman kept walking by and saying things like, "that must be really funny," and "it's okay to laugh out loud, you know."  (For Dominion geeks not in the know, today's dominionstrategy post was "Accepting submissions for Great Isotropic Moments."  The title says it all.)

I was temporarily worried that the transfer dean would think I was ill or upset or something, as I imagine my eyes were a bit red from the tears of hilarity that managed to escape. :P Evidently not, though, which is good, as I am applying to be a transfer counselor next year.

And why, you may ask, was I sitting in the hallway outside the dean's office? )

On a completely unrelated note, I had a very interesting meal in the dining hall the other day. About half of campus lost power, including the dining hall, so we were eating on paper plates and drinking from soda cans (not me, obviously, as I don't like the fizzy), and the lines and everything were all dark. I spent about half the time wondering how they managed to comply with food temperature regulations, given the lack of power, but I suppose they did. It was quite entertaining, though I'm sure the dining hall staff thought it was much less so than I did.
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I have Google Voice forward messages left on my phone to my email, as I check my email an awful lot more than I check my phone. Google Voice has the often amusing feature of automatic transcriptions of messages. A particularly funny one just landed in my inbox:

Hey Brad, it's mama just calling to. It's about quarter or 20 of sex and I'm done. And I wanted to pick you guys up. So what I'll do it is my email. By the way wasn't working. I'll try again but if I hadn't wasn't working before. So Yeah, I'll So if you could just give me a call. That would be great. I what I will to make it easier. Bye.

Google Voice is extremely confused as to what my name is (I wish there were a way to teach it things, like names, that might be a little less common than other words!): My name (top-secret!) has been alternately transcribed as Randy, Ryan, Brad, Danny, Brandon, Maria, Lauren (in a message where "Daddy" was transcribed as "Jenny," no less), "mind", "man" (in a message where "Dad" became "blah") ... Evidently my real name sounds like a whole bunch of guys' names, if you hear them through some static and a really bad transcription system.

Edit: Google Voice did get my real name right at least once that I found, so it obviously can transcribe it correctly. I wonder what this says about our cell phone service?
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On the way from Brain Damage and the Mind to Linguistic Anthropology, I noticed a curious phenomenon: it was snowing over the buildings, and raining over the walkways. (Admittedly, this isn't generalizable to anywhere other than where I happened to walk, but for there, it was true.) Then, in the middle of Linguistic Anthropology, IT STARTED TO SNOW. A LOT. I mean, quite a lot—like, if I were in New Hampshire, I would be relatively happy with the level of precipitation; in Rhode Island, I am practically ecstatic. So that is quite exciting. The I'm-solid-no-just-kidding! puddles won't be very exciting, but alas—the snow is worth it.

On a completely unrelated note, I am having trouble deciding whether to inform my Linguistic Anthropology professor that I found some her comments in class today to be a little insulting. It's kind of ironic, given that we have been studying racism and racist language, and in particular how European Americans can be unaware that their use of a particular term is insulting to a particular group of people—the example we've been using is s***w. (I am ambivalent about using this notation here, as I do not want to use an offensive term, but anyone who reads this should be able to figure out what I meant anyway; hence, the best thing to do would be to not even mention this at all, except that then that raises the problem of ignoring racism ... so basically it's a big vicious circle that I don't know how to get around. But this seems like the best option.) European Americans don't realize that Native Americans are insulted by use of this term, even in geographic names where it isn't referring to a specific person; but that ignorance is no excuse for it, at least not after the insult has been pointed out.

So ... I can't decide whether to tell my Linguistic Anthropology professor that I find saying "the weather is bipolar in Providence" is insulting. As far as I'm concerned, it is; it is meant to be funny, but anyone who has bipolar disorder or knows someone with bipolar disorder doesn't find it funny. At least, I don't. I also don't find it funny when someone says something like "coffee makes me go all ADD" or "that was a real ADD moment." It's not funny. End of story. ADHD has its funny times, but it is not a joke, and it has very serious consequences for those who have it. I don't appreciate jokes about ADHD, or bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, or psychopathy, or depression, or anxiety, or OCD, or any of the mental illnesses that seem to be "funny" to people who don't have direct experience with them. (I do not have direct experience with all of the above disorders, but with a few.)

I am ashamed to admit that in the beginning, I found the TV show Monk to be rather funny—he is pitched as "the obsessive-compulsive detective," for those not in love with USA network. I still find it funny, or at least parts of it; but a lot of it makes me wince. I do appreciate that typically Monk would (temporarily) overcome the Phobia of the Episode, in the interests of solving the case and apprehending the murderer; it is a great act of courage to do so. However, the fact that it is only temporary always bothered me, and it bothers me even more now.

Anyway, the point is, my Linguistic Anthropology professor, and the rest of the class, found the idea of "bipolar weather" to be hilarious. I did not, but I smiled along with everyone else, and thought about how ironic it was that we were saying ten minutes before that to say "I'm going to do homework mañana" is insulting to Spanish speakers but no one seemed to think that "bipolar weather" was even remotely off-color. We're talking in class about how European Americans say that to be angry at the name "S***w Peak" meant that Native Americans were being too sensitive, that they shouldn't care that much about a name, blah, blah blah. And I caught myself thinking, well, maybe I shouldn't tell my Linguistic Anthropology professor that I was bothered by that comment because she'll just say that I'm being too sensitive and that it was meant as a joke—


I'm not really sure whether it's fair to compare racism with mental illness-ism (is there a better term?); I will have to think more on that. For instance, while I don't find it odd to write "s***w*", I do find it quite odd to write "b*****r weather", and it's not like I mind the use of the word "bipolar" or "ADD" or "schizophrenia," just when they are used humorously with no recognition that THESE ARE SERIOUS ILLNESSES. I think most people probably recognize that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are serious, but "I'm being ADD right now" really bothers me. YOU AREN'T ADD RIGHT NOW, YOU ARE ALWAYS ADHD. THAT'S THE POINT OF CALLING IT A SEPARATE NAME. YOU SHOULD SAY "I'M GETTING DISTRACTED RIGHT NOW" IF YOU WANT TO INDICATE A TEMPORARY CHARACTERISTIC OF YOUR BEHAVIOR. It is true that ADHD symptoms can be better or worse on different days, and that medication can greatly reduce symptoms, BUT IT IS ALWAYS THERE. ADHD doesn't have to define who you are, but it is something that you'll always have to manage; some people have it worse than others; but saying that you are "ADD right now" is just insulting to those who have ADHD, because it makes it sound like you can either choose to engage in ADHD symptoms or that ADHD only occurs some of the time or that ADHD is funny because you'll get over it in an hour or two.

And when people literally write articles titled things like "Our ADD culture" or "How we're creating ADD in our kids," I see something fundamentally wrong about the way society discusses ADHD. Given that ~5% of the population (children AND adults) have ADHD, meaning that everyone knows someone with ADHD if they don't have it themselves, it is ridiculous to treat ADHD as a joke. I will confess that, in some ways at least, ADHD might not be as serious as schizophrenia, that doesn't mean that ADHD is a joke, and it doesn't mean that ADHD can be cured, and it doesn't mean that ADHD turns on or off, or that it doesn't profoundly influence the lives of those who have it. Some moments might be funny, but to treat it as a joke is just downright insulting; and in particular, while some people with ADHD might laugh at the moments that seem so absurd in retrospect, not everyone with ADHD does so. It can be profoundly disabling, in a different way than something like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but should not be mocked because most people sometimes exhibit some of the symptoms.

Okay, rant over.

(PS: In the time that I have taken to write this, the snow has turned to hail.)
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So, I know that playing a game like Dominion online has very few redeeming values—mostly people go on there to either 1) crush other people, 2) play with their friends who they could be playing with in Real Life, or 3) waste time. I typically fall into the third group.  I'm sure the actual players have a multiplicity of reasons, but those are probably the most common.

However, it's not totally pointless. I have now played with someone from Finland, which was exciting.  Well, he was enthusiastic until he found out that I was about twenty-five years younger than he was; it's a good thing I resisted the urge to say that I hadn't known that Dominion had existed that long, which probably would have come across as a little insulting.  He translates games from English, mostly, into Finnish.  I may have already posted this, by my Syntax professor informed my class that Finnish was the best language for a linguist to learn; it made me want to call up my sort-of cousin, whose husband is Finnish, and ask him for some Finnish sentences.  At any rate, that was cool.

And this evening I played with a rabbi from Wisconsin who had spent some of the last few years in Israel learning Hebrew.  (My screen name, apparently, sounded Hebrew, so he attempted to speak/write Hebrew to me, which sadly didn't work—MUST LEARN HEBREW!)  I suppose I don't actually know that this person was male, but I'm going to go with that simply because 1) I am willing to bet that most Dominion players are male, though you never know, a few more of us girls could be lurking, and 2) he sounded male, though as is plainly obvious he probably only sounded male because I thought he was male rather than because he actually sounded male.  I will admit that it gives me a certain thrill to be called "sir" by someone from Cyberspace; I kind of like it as an appellation, it makes me feel like a knight (All I need now is a glaive!  Well, if only it were that simple.)  (And, for the record, the person immediately continued with "or miss, as the case may be".  I neglected to correct him, as I rather like the idea of using "sir" as an unmarked term.)

And then there was the time that someone's screen name was "dominion" upside down, which it took me forever to figure out; I had just gotten up the courage to ask them what their screen name meant, or even worse what language it was in (the shame!), when I finally got it.

Right.  Apparently my life is composed of two things:  language and Dominion.
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We were talking about idioms in Syntax on Thursday, and how some idioms are decompositional while others aren't. So for example, you can say something like "he let the cat out of the bag" or "the cat was let out of the bag [by Eliza]". But, while you can say "the shit hit the fan," you can't say "the fan was hit by the shit."

Which obviously means that everyone in my class is now going to say "the fan was hit by the shit" instead.

This has prompted my Language Processing project, though I'm not sure that particular professor needs to know the reason I want to look at semantic decomposition of idioms.

On a completely unrelated note, I now have a lot less to do for next week than I originally thought I did—I have a sit-down exam in Brain Damage and the Mind, a take-home midterm for Syntax, a project proposal for Language Processing, a transcription for Linguistic Anthropology, and a paper for Linguistic Anthropology. It turns out, however, that I was quite confused about Linguistic Anthropology; I don't have to write that particular paper until May. \o/

That means that, while I could be working on everything else (such as the Syntax midterm, which will squash me like a little bug), I have been—wait for it—playing Dominion! I have now discovered a few more THers who play online, and I am ashamed to say that I beat them all BY FAR in terms of the number of games played—and they thought that they were obsessed. \o/?

Also, I am sad to say that tonight is the first time in a week and a half that I have actually been tired before 2am. I need to go back to a NORMAL sleep schedule, that includes breakfast. :P
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So, I found out this morning that buying Treasure Maps when your opponent already has a Possession is not a good plan. Very much not a good plan. When you're being Possessed, cards you trash don't actually get trashed—you discard them at the end of your turn instead. I had never thought about this before, but (unsurprisingly) this also holds true for Treasure Maps. So this morning I was being Possessed when I got two Treasure Maps; my opponent, of course, gained the four golds he got (at least, I assume it was a he, from his screen name) by trashing the Treasure Maps. What I didn't realize (stupidly) was that this meant that the Treasure Maps were not actually trashed. So, the very next turn, he Possessed me again and promptly trashed the two Treasure Maps again, so that he ended up with 8 golds while I had been busy building my deck to trash the Treasure Maps for my own use.

Luckily, I ended up getting to trash the Treasure Maps later, so I eventually got my golds. I kind of wonder whether my opponent let me have them once he saw that I wasn't going to resign—he said "game over" after the second trashing of the Treasure Maps, but I wanted to give it a chance.

At any rate, he later played a Masquerade while Possessing me, and passed himself some Colonies I'd bought. Twice.

Ah well. It was an interesting game, to say the least; and I will have to remember about that Possession-and-Treasure Map thing, because it's a very good strategy, if exceptionally mean (as in, I would only do it after asking permission). But my opponent made up for it by letting me getting the Treasure Maps myself (at least, I am going to operate under that assumption). I only lost by something like 20 or 25 points, which, considering, wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been, especially considering that he passed himself two of my Colonies. I guess that's what happens when you're actually not a jerk, like a lot of the people on isotropic are. It was much more fun, for him as well as me, I presume, than me getting completely and utterly crushed.
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I have been getting absolutely thrashed at Dominion in the last couple of days—at one point, I lost 3 to 117. I am actually almost proud of that; I didn't know it was possible to be that bad. And I don't even have the excuse of not paying attention; I was actually trying on that game. :P Though I still think the two times I got negative points (another thing I didn't know was possible, before isotropic!) top everything else.

Also, I suppose that if I'm going to use the handle "zeugma" anywhere at all, I ought to be prepared with a few that I like, beyond the obvious—Star Trek's "You are free to execute your laws, or your citizens, as you see fit." Random zeugmas I (mostly) invented. )

It's not exactly good when people ask you "what's a zeugma?" or "what are you favorite zeugmas?" and you don't have any on the tip of your tongue. :P

I have finally gotten sick of Language Processing; the professor is extremely cheerful, but spends way too much time going over basic linguistics (we literally drew the tree for "Eloise walked the child to the store on Wednesday" for an hour and a half). Why I (still) don't like Language Processing. )
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Participated in my first cog sci experiment this morning—one of my friends is doing her thesis comparing examplar theory (we learn to recognize words by accruing lots of examples) or abstraction theory (we recognize words basically by applying phonological rules to get to some abstract representation).  Moderately coherent description of experiment. )

At any rate, it was fun, and I got my participant credit requirement out of the way for one of my classes. Yay!

Also, I have had the most pathetic cold ever this week. It started out like I was actually going to get sick, but instead of the usual three hours or so where you get noticeably worse, it just kind of stopped after the first stage—I have the sniffles, and a few headaches every now and then, and occasionally my stomach has that weird full-of-grossness feeling, but otherwise, I am more than happy to accept this diminished form of a cold. But it is a little pathetic.

Yesterday I met with my Linguistic Anthropology professor, and managed to slip in the all-important question—"So, how long are you here?" She's an adjunct professor, so she only has a two-year appointment, as I found out yesterday; but luckily that means I could conceivably do a linguistic anthropology senior thesis if I wanted to. SO. Also, it is just awesome to be able to gush about how much I like pronouns and not be looked at like I'm insane.
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I FINALLY QUIT!!!!!! It was only a matter of actually informing my thesis advisor, but now at least I can't change my mind again! This is a serious problem, actually, because I have changed my major ... well, let's see: I've told people I was majoring in a wide variety of things ) ... something like that.

Right, back to more important things. What's most pathetic is that for most of these majors, I only took a class or two that could possibly count; yet, I still was convinced for even a short amount of time that I wanted to devote my life to it. Yes, that's correct: devote my life to it. I'm not really sure what I'm thinking most of the time, or why it ever seems rational.

I had something else that I wanted to say, but now I've forgotten.

**five minutes later**

Right! I really hate quitting, it makes me feel pathetic and like I'm fulfilling all sorts of stereotypes, but ... I'd rather actually like what I'm studying and be happy than fight the stereotypes on principle, just because. It would be nice to want to want (yes, you read that correctly) to 1) study natural science, 2) stick with anything for more than a few weeks, 3) pick a topic and dive in, but none of things really fit with my personality and my particular skill set. So. I am sick of trying—

Random tangent that's actually funny. )

—I am sick of trying to do things that CRUSH MY SOUL, like lab work, just because I wish I liked them. I suppose part of it is that for a while I figured I would get used to it, but ... unfortunately, listening to music while doing lab work doesn't reduce the boredom, watching movies while doing lab work doesn't reduce the boredom, planning fic doesn't reduce the boredom, daydreaming doesn't reduce the boredom ... I have now accepted that doing lab work is just SO FUCKING BORING that it would squash me like a little bug if I tried to do it for any length of time. (And last summer, it basically did squash me like a little bug, so I have actual evidence of this.)

When I spent hours and hours on Sunday night with my music and a transcript from the second Obama-McCain debate, recording all their pronouns without getting bored once, and without even getting distracted once (that I remember, anyway ... not that I trust my memory), I am willing to take that as a sign.

Also, "figured XXXXXXXX out" is NOT a grammatical sentence in my book. I can't say something like "I figured that Bertha would go to the grocery store to pick up food out". That just doesn't make any sense, and yet the article that I have to read for Language Processing insists that it is an example of a perceptually difficult but nonetheless grammatical sentence. :P

Edit:  I think maybe I only like noun phrases between "figure" and "out".  So, I don't really have a problem with "I figured her really long, difficult-to-pronounce, exotic, Tagalog name out," (in reference to another student in one of my classes), but I don't like as much, "I figured what her really long, difficult-to-pronounce, exotic, Tagalog name was out".  (By the way, Tagalog is officially one of the coolest languages I only know a tiny little bit about!  Infixational morphology!!!!!!!)
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Actually, it just ended. :(

Today, I officially handed my data over to my lab partner, so I AM NO LONGER DOING AN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE THESIS!!!!!!! To celebrate, I am going to play my 500th game of Dominion, drink my smoothie, eat my granola bars and chocolate chips, and work on Teddy. I got sidetracked for a few days working on a different project, but there's nothing like Harry Potter to celebrate a good day. I just wish I had a copy of the first book at school.

Although I don't want to sound all depressing or goal-oriented, I have a few ideas for a linguistics thesis, too, which I think bear an actual relationship to my particular strengths (which don't involve bees or doing anything so mind-numbingly boring as lab work). So! I might spend some time watching Obama and McCain duke it out, and listening to their use of (deictic) pronouns. YAY!!!!!!

I definitely prefer not taking as much hard/natural science. It's fun, I like learning about it, but ... linguistics is SO MUCH MORE ME!!!! You get to listen to people talk! o.O

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Apparently, some people don't like to lose at Dominion, because that was the response I got when I happened to have cards that took more than five seconds to play. When your opponent keeps playing Golems, Apothecaries, Throne Rooms, and Outposts, do you really expect their turn to take five seconds? No. And it shouldn't, because all of those cards require making decisions, clicking on the new cards, and in general taking a few seconds to play. And it's not like I actually take that long; the game I played before this one, my opponent had at least three King's Courts that he kept playing over and over again. And it was awesome—he got almost 100 VPs!

At any rate, I don't exactly like it when people online think they can be rude because they don't know who you are and don't like to lose. :P Everyone gets crappy decks, or sucky luck, every once in a while; deal with it.

Other than that, it was raining all day, which pretty much sucked because now all the snow will be gone, and it will be wet. But my classes were good, and I didn't fail my Brain Damage and the Mind exam—which I actually thought could be a possibility, since I ... didn't exactly study the right material. \o/

Last night was Childhood Regression Night, where I played with Legos. Yay!!!! I made a dragon (surprise surprise!), and almost convinced everyone to watch Dr. Horrible, but unfortunately the nice TV was being used. :P And then I spent all night world-building; it was great fun, but it's good that I don't have much homework.

Edit: What the hell is up with people today? I bought eight out of ten Fishing Villages, and my opponent resigned. :P I would feel massively guilty about doing something like that!
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I calculated the other day that I have (at least) ten papers to write this term. Strangely enough, none are very long; mostly, they're on the order of 2-4 pages. I've already written two of them, and I am supposed to be working on a third right now, in between studying for an exam tomorrow, finishing a problem set for Syntax that's due this afternoon, and trying to figure out what I need to bring home this weekend. BECAUSE IT'S A LONG WEEKEND AND I WILL BE HOME FOR FOUR DAYS!!!!

I have been ... not exactly as diligent as I ought to be.  I have been:

1) Watching Bones. I have reached the epitome of patheticness when it comes to TV shows. (Or at least, as near as I ever want to be.) )

2) Playing Dominion. Perhaps I shouldn't be worried about my TV-watching. )

3) Talking to Other Me.  It would be karma if I believed in such things. )

4)  Reading TV Tropes.  It's amazing how addictive a website can become.

That's about it. It's amazing how much I can pack into one day when it isn't homework.  I should probably try not to waste so much time, but ...

I guess I did talk to my potential thesis advisor in linguistics; I might get to work on the Moses Illusion!!!  That would be awesome, but I could also, I found out, do a thesis in linguistic anthropology, which is more along the lines of where I want to end up in graduate school.  So doing something in linguistic anthropology might be better, but ... I don't know.  At least I have multiple options!  And this time, I get to actually pick what I want to do, rather than having a professor say "here's a project, now go!"  It wasn't that The Other Thesis wasn't interesting, but I think I was a little less invested in it in part (though only part, and perhaps even a very small part) because I didn't feel like it was my project in any way.

(Also, the new Gmail header is really annoying.  I'm sure it's a perfectly good change, in reality, but since it's new I can't stop looking at it every time I check my email; and since this is quite often, I am currently a little obsessed with such a needless change.)
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Finished Ruins of Gorlan, Book 1 of the Ranger's Apprentice, series this weekend. It was fairly good; quite short and extremely easy to read. It suffers from the He-Became-A-Master-Of-His-Craft-In-Less-Than-A-Year problem, which I guess is at least better than in Eragon, where he LEARNED HOW TO READ IN A WEEK. o.O? (Oh yeah, and became a MASTER SWORDSMAN in a few months, simply by traveling around with Brom ... okay, NOT going to rant about all the things that are wrong with that.)

At least in Ruins of Gorlan, Will isn't actually a master of his craft in less than a year, he just gets to be really good and saves the day. I suppose the story would be a little boring if he was just shuffled off to the safety of the castle because he was too young. I did like the explanation for why an apprentice would be asked to go hunt the evil creatures—that he was a member of the Ranger Corps, so he had a duty just like the rest of them. He would be protected (i.e., not asked to actually fight the Kalkara), but by joining the Corps he was committing himself to protecting the kingdom. It's a little cheesy, maybe, but I prefer that he be treated like a part of the group than excluded from the most important functions of the Corps simply because he was too young.

It was also written for young teenagers; in Harry Potter, this doesn't annoy me too much in the early books, but in Ruins of Gorlan there's a certain amount of hitting over the head with the extremely obvious facts, simply because the intended audience might not catch on. It was kind of like A:TLA in that respect, but that's okay. I can accept the fact that I am no longer (technically) twelve years old. :P (Twenty-two? What, no, me? It can't be!)

Also watched Tangled again. There are some things that I really like about it (the music, the animation, the HORSE); but it still annoys me that the witch wants beauty and youth, which are exactly the things the young girl has ... I feel like the message of don't-be-vain would be a lot stronger if the young girl weren't so beautiful all the time. Nonetheless, I like how Rapunzel actually has a character—she's independent (mostly, anyway, and she gets more so by the end of the film), creative, determined, intelligent.

Kudos to the people who cast Tangled, because I actually like the female voices!

Also, because I can't resist:  Dominion ramblings )

One year

Feb. 10th, 2011 10:28 am
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I have been thinking a fair amount about what I could possibly say today. It is now almost exactly one year—to the minute, nearly, though that wasn't on purpose—since ML's father died. I had gone with B to the chaplain; we were wondering what kinds of support there might be for ML, and we really just wanted to talk to someone about what we all knew was going to happen. ML and her mother had signed a DNR that Monday (last year, February 10th was a Wednesday), after almost a year and a half of his illness following a stroke that occurred during/shortly after surgery.

I had gotten an email that Monday saying that ML had gone home; I assumed that that meant he had passed away. But she came back to school the next morning; I don't remember what exactly happened, but basically the doctors had said that there wasn't really anything they could do. He had been in the hospital for weeks after his stroke, and had gradually gotten worse and worse; he had been in and out of nursing homes, and had even spent a few months at home with an in-house nurse to care for him. Now, after a year and a half, the doctors had finally decided that they could do little to keep him alive.

It was Wednesday, and after ML and her mother signed the DNR, it was pretty clear that we were counting down the hours. For so long, it had already seemed like we were waiting for the email, the call, the something—and to be honest, the waiting was the worst. We never knew when exactly it was going to happen, but we felt every day that it would be soon; and the fact that it took a year and a half only meant that we spent a year and a half waiting, anxiously wondering, hoping, praying even, that it wouldn't be today; or, at the same time, that it would be soon, so that the wait would end. I don't mean to say that this waiting was a bad thing; after all, this way ML got a chance to say goodbye to her father. She's quite religious and spiritual, so this was particularly important to her; and knowing that she got that chance is comforting, I suppose.

I am not sure whether it would have been better or worse if he had died in, say, a car crash—then the interminable waiting would never have happened, and she might have been better able to go from shock to grief to recovery. This way, instead, there was a strange sort of inversion of what I would have expected. After his stroke, there was the fear that he would die, or that he wouldn't recover. In those first few weeks, it's impossible to tell what exactly is going to happen—some people recover fully, or nearly fully, while others never do. In the first weeks, it's impossible to tell who is going to recover and who isn't. By the end of winter break, though—about eight weeks after his stroke, on October 15, 2008—he had still not improved significantly. I was still hopeful, but I didn't dare say to ML what I was really thinking—that after that long a time, with little improvement, it was unlikely that he would ever be the same again. The thought terrified me; I couldn't imagine what it would have been like from ML to hear that from a friend.

I don't remember exactly when, but even by the end of ML's freshman year, it seemed like she and her mom had some hope left that he might recover. But I remember coming back to school in September, at the beginning of my junior year and her sophomore year, and noticing the difference: now, it was mostly a matter of "what can we do" and "we have to do X, Y, and Z" rather than "He remembered who I was today!" or "He wasn't confused about what day it is!" Instead, ML would hand us her cell phone with a message recorded from her father, talking about March, when it was October; or, he would sound so tired that it was a wonder he hadn't fallen asleep.

There came to be this ritual—B and I would ask how ML's mom was doing, what was going on at home, but the elephant in the room, that her father would never recover and that he would most likely die soon whether it was a day away, a week away, a month away, a year away ... that elephant was always there, whenever I saw her, thought about her, emailed her. We started to avoid conversations that we thought would be awkward. I don't know if she realized it; sometimes I felt like I was more sensitive to the issue than she was. I'm sure that wasn't true, but her ability to smile and reply "I'm good!" or "I'm fine!" or "I'm doing well!" when someone asked her how she was always astounded me. It was probably easier for her to put on that mask than to let herself be overwhelmed every time someone talked about their father, or asked her what her parents did, or any of those questions that come up over and over again in college.

B and I were in the chaplain's, and ML called. I didn't pick up; I didn't even hear my phone go off. but she was calling to tell us that he had just died. I got the message about half an hour later, and do this day I wish I had put my phone on noise instead of vibrate, though it probably didn't matter. I remember seeing her in the hallway of my dorm—she was with K, who had skipped physics after getting ML's call, and B and I were returning from the chaplain's. She just said, "My father just passed away!" and there was this sort of strange I-can't-believe-I'm-finally-saying-this expression on her face. No tears, no ... nothing, as far as I could tell. It was surreal. We had been waiting for so long, that it had finally happened ... It was relieving, to be perfectly honest: the wait was unbearable, to never know what was going to go wrong that day, or what would happen. Just to have the continuity of knowing, I think, was a huge relief.

I remember this strange sort of half smile that I felt the urge to give, when she said that her father had just died. It wasn't happiness; it was just some strange instinct, some reaction to the excitement. I don't mean that it was exciting, in any way; but rather there was a rush of adrenaline, a sort of heady burst of energy, that in me, at least, resulted in a smile. (For the record, I suppressed it quite effectively.) Life had changed so completely in that one moment; no longer were we waiting, we were now dealing, and we were planning, and we were organizing, and calling people, and sending out emails, and figuring out what do about ML's classes ... it was sort of similar to what happened that time water started pouring through the window of our basement: for one instance, my mind just went "Oh my God," and then I started to think, to figure out how to solve the problem. I think perhaps just the release of the tension, the worry, the waiting that had been going on for sixteen months was energizing; now, all of a sudden, there was something I could do.

The worst part, I think, was when we all gathered for a study party that night in my room. ML wasn't going to fly back home until Friday; she had been there over the weekend, and she wanted to finish out the week so she could only miss classes the following week. She kept asking whether it was strange for her to not fly home right away, whether people would think that she was insensitive, or strange, or something; my only reply was that it didn't matter they thought, because they had never been in her situation. Perhaps a few people out there had, but most people in college don't suffer the protracted illness of a parent in the same way that ML did. It's impossible to predict what you would do in her situation, so anyone who thought she was callous for not going home could stuff it, as far as I was concerned.

It was me, B, K, C, and ML that night. We were in my room, I don't know why. ML kept getting calls from relatives—her aunt, her uncle, and then her brother. Her brother is sixteen years older than she is, I think; her father's son by his previous wife. That means he was around 35 or 36 years old when his father died, which makes a world of difference between him and ML. She was still in college, still dependent on her parents; she hadn't yet left the nest, so to speak. But he was married, I think, or at least had his own job, his own house, his own life; ML's life was still entwined in that of her parents. ML thought her brother was being insensitive, uncaring, etc., because he wasn't as closely connected as she was. But what I really wanted to say was that when he called, they talked for some time, and then at one point, ML said, "Well, as far as I'm concerned, he died on October 15, 2008."

It was a chilling thought. I think it explains, though, why ML seemed to go through a sort of inverted grief process—despairing, depressed, and grieving before her father actually died, while they were stuck in this sort of limbo; and then relief, happiness even, after he died, because now he was no longer suffering, and they could move on. I found it unnerving; I expected her to be a wreck, but instead she kept on with her homework, she kept on doing all her activities. I remember there were times when I felt the urge to provoke her to talk about it—I felt like she must want to, deep down, and yet she didn't. But I gradually realized that a large part of it was because she was learning to move on; she had long ago accepted that she wouldn't see her father again, and so it was now time to remember what to do without all this hanging over her head. Yes, there were times when she got sad; and on May 10, the 3-month mark, we were eating together and she said, "I almost forgot it was May 10."; and yes, there were times when she cried, but mostly it was a matter of getting through the day, the week, the semester, without getting overwhelmed, and then figuring out how to fill—partially, at any rate—the hole that had been left by the months and months of worrying about her father.

I have only one more memory I want to write down, while it is still in my mind. The day ML's father died, ML, K, and I went to the library to study. We didn't get anything done; it was more of a gesture toward normalcy than any attempt at doing homework. I went off to the bathroom, and when I got back ML was no longer there. K explained that she went into the stairwell to talk to her mom on the phone; I went and just stood there, next to her, not really sure what to do. At one point, her mom must have asked where I was, because ML said, "Yes, she's right next to me." It was awkward, it was sad, it was hard; but at the very least, I hope ML always felt like I was right next to her, willing to help and do whatever I could. I don't mean that in a sappy way; only that, having seen her go through what she did, I hope I made the burden a little lighter, and I hope that someone else makes the burden lighter for me.
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My erstwhile thesis advisor, Stephen, is a like a steamroller. He tends to talk right over you in meetings, such that it is extremely difficult to say no, because it is difficult to get a word in. If you're a piece of concrete (i.e., an ES/geo/bio student who wants to study biogeochemistry), Stephen is great: he will fit you into his lab, teach you what you need to know, and set you on the road (pun intended!)* to being a great biogeochemist. If you're a plant (i.e., me, though I don't mean any type of value judgment by calling ES students concrete and me a plant, I just couldn't think of a better metaphor), Stephen can be a little ... crushing.

In other words, during my meeting with Stephen today, I almost left without telling him that I no longer want to do a thesis in ES.

Luckily, though, I managed to slip in a bit of a "well, I'm a little sick of doing lab work, after spending ALL LAST SEMESTER DOING IT!" And a "well, I'm pretty sure that I don't want to spend my life doing the kind of lab work that I did all last semester, though it was a lot of fun and very interesting." And a "well, I am actually both an ES and a linguistics concentrator, and there are so many courses and topics that are interesting that it's very difficult to pick, so I don't think I have the time to take the ES thesis course."

I managed (or at least, I think I managed) to make it sound like his idea—this is an important thing when dealing with Stephen, because he likes good ideas to come from him. He also likes good ideas to come from his students, but this way, he doesn't think that I am quitting; he thinks he made a good suggestion, i.e., that I am maybe not quite as devoted as I need to be in order to finish a thesis, and that this is perfectly fine, given that I have lots of other interests, and that I should explore all the other opportunities my school has to offer, etc. etc. etc. At the very least, he doesn't think I'm crazy for not wanting to commit myself to a thesis in ES just yet, especially when I am sure I don't want to ultimately do that kind of science. He does respect the fact that I am torn between two completely and utterly different fields (Have you ever heard of environmental linguistics? I haven't, though I suppose linguistic geography might be the closest.), so he doesn't even seem to think it's a bad thing if I don't finish my ES thesis, which is good.

Oh well. I feel rather pathetic for quitting, but luckily I have several other opportunities, such as doing a linguistics thesis, which I think is infinitely better suited to my particular strengths. At the very least, I really like listening to people talk, whereas I only sort of like digging in the dirt, and I don't really like to measure ammonium. Unfortunately, though, although I do know someone that I would like to work with on a linguistics thesis, I am not positive that I will get to, so it might be difficult to make that work.

I really want to do a thesis. I like analyzing data, finding patterns, and trying to figure out whether a certain theory applies. And I am actually getting interested in language processing, particularly phonological processing; and doing a thesis in linguistic anthropology would basically be SO AWESOME that I wouldn't want to do anything else. (Watch me eat those words ... ^^) Sadly, however, no one here does either of those fields, though some people come close.

Well, at least I won't be crushed by the Great Ammonium Analyzer this semester.


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