Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

In a few minutes, we will be celebrating what my dad has termed "Greenwich Meantime New Year." I will probably be in bed by 8. Then I will awake in the pale light of dawn to begin two months of accidentally writing "2007" on everything. It takes me so long to adjust to these things--I've only just begun self-identifying as an 18-year-old and my birthday was six weeks ago.

As my last words to you this year, I will, in fact, copy someone else's words. This quote pretty well sums up the kind of year I've had:

"Yes," said Dirk, "completely and utterly impossible."

He smiled.

"Luckily," he went on, "you have come to exactly the right place with your very interesting problem, for there is no such word as 'impossible' in my dictionary. In fact," he added, brandishing the abused book, "everything between 'herring' and 'marmelade' appears to be missing. Thank you, Miss Pearce, you have once again rendered me sterling service, for which I thank you and will, in the event of a successful outcome to this endeavor, even attempt to pay you. In the meantime we have much to think on, and I leave the office in your very capable hands."

--Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Indestrucible Toe and Other Miscellany

My family spent all day today in a Mad Cleaning Frenzy. Now, you might think you've experienced a Mad Cleaning Frenzy before, but this one earned the gold medal. It involved taking apart my entire bed and my mother sitting on my bedroom floor looking at the solid wall of dust behind my bed and going, "Oh my God" for probably five solid minutes, which is kind of unusual for my mother. She was in the Army and knows some juicy stuff but generally her vocabulary's pretty clean.

It also involved me dropping a very heavy board on my big toe, yet not bruising it in the slightest. I think I'm going to name this toe the Indestructible Toe because it's the same one I smashed but good on the doorframe a few days before Durnhelm graduated, I remember that because I was telling Durnhelm about it during the graduation party and somebody walked up just as I was saying, "And then I'm like, 'Oh, look, there's blood all over my toe.' " Awkward. Yet despite the smashing and bloodiness and general grossness, my toenail didn't even fall off or anything.

Then my parents spent forever filling out this form thingy that involved them pretty much giving their whole life histories as well as answering about a million other questions. My dad didn't help because he kept being silly. For instance, in answer to "Why are you doing X?" (X shall remain unnamed for the time being) Dad typed, "It was Becky's idea and David does whatever Becky wants." Mom smacked him.

Tomorrow morning we have a Big Important Thing going on. It's the kind of thing I'd rather not blog but if you can spare a prayer or two I'd appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Life in Bullet Points

  • I spent Saturday and Sunday at my grandmother's (Dad's mom). Although Grandma is quite tech-savvy and does have high-speed internet access, to have updated the blog would violate Rule #792, which states, "Thou shalt not update thine blog when thou shouldst be socializing with thine relatives."
  • I flagrantly violated Rule #18, which states, "Thou shalt not read books nor any form of written material when thou shouldst be socializing with thine relatives."
  • Can I help it if they give me books? How am I supposed to not read with 4 shiny new books staring me in the face? That's like pouring a glass of champagne, setting it in front of an alcoholic, and telling him, "You can't drink that until Monday."
  • I got to see my cousin, who is fifteen (fifteen!) and has a boyfriend (a boyfriend!). I am flabbergasted. Why, I was learning to write the alphabet before she was even mobile. (I learned to write my alphabet pretty young--but that's another story.)
  • I did not get to see my cousin who is seventeen, which is too bad because I wanted to lord it over him that I'm a legal adult and he's not. (Yes, I'm sweet. Holiday cheer, people.) You see, this particular cousin is 60 days my junior. I was born in November and he was born in January, so when we see each other on Christmas I'm legally a year older than he is and I've rubbed that in every chance I got ever since he went and got taller than I against strict orders not to do so.
  • I read Stranger in a Strange Land over the weekend. (In the car, not while visiting.) To borrow Heinlein's phrase, I do not grok it. When I have grokked in fullness I shall write a review and we can have a lovely time discussing it.
  • We are going to Michigan to visit my mother's kindred over this next weekend. If you accidentally wandered into my uncle's house you might mistake it for a Radio Shack, so I have no doubt there will be internet. Nonetheless, I will probably have to obey Rule #792.
  • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Dear general public:

It is probably not a good idea to read the last 160 pages of Crime and Punishment in one sitting immediately before going to bed. If you do, you could very well spend the whole night dreaming about people shooting themselves in the head.
Not that I know this from personal experience...

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Dostoyevsky is an awesome writer.


1. I just finished Book 4 of Crime and Punishment. 240 pages to go.

2. I slept in my own bed last night. I've been camping in the spare room since mine's been such a wreck.

3. Now the spare room is more wrecky, because my dad is cleaning out his book collection. He has just about every sci-fi novel published between 1970 and 1985. Then he got married and started spending his money on things other than books.

4. I am also reading Dune. It is very good so far.

5. We made cookies yesterday.

6. I ate 3.

7. The New Roommate emailed me.

8. Facebook removed the "is" from the status update.

9. Megan is still updating her status using the present progressive.

10. My computer is almost out of battery.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Life in Numbers

2-Number of appointments I've had so far this week (1 optometrist, 1 dentist)

3-Level of astigmatism in my right eye

5-Level of astigmatism in my left eye

3-Pairs of contacts I am trying over break

0-Number of times I have flossed since my last dental appointment

2-Number of wisdom teeth I have

2-Number of lectures I got from the dental hygenist

11-My annoyance level on a scale of 10

5-Number of classes I took this semester

5-Number of A's I got this semester

Monday, December 17, 2007

December Reading Challenge

This week I am determined to read Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. Notice that I said "read", not "start". I would like to finish it by 9:00 PM (Eastern Time) on Sunday, December 23. That might sound crazy, but I almost read it in a week back in August. I started it Sunday morning and by Saturday afternoon I had all of about 50 pages left, but this was orientation weekend and my parents had to go home and it was a library book so I didn't quite have time to finish it before my parents had to leave. This week, though, I will.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Disadvantage of Snow

If you see this in the next couple of hours, dear readers, say a prayer for Durnhelm's dad--he's driving to Cleveland right now and it is dark and snowing.

Adult Supervision Required

Dad: Who put the cooking oil in the fridge?

Me: That was probably me.

Dad: Don't do that.

Me: And the time someone put eggs in the pantry? I think that was me, too.

Mom: You were thinking about your novel again, weren't you?

[In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit out of touch with reality sometimes.]

Friday, December 14, 2007

The View from 5 AM

I've gotten up before 6 for 5 of the last 7 mornings. Now here I am again. I could go back to bed, but there are so many things going through my head right now and there is something peaceful about a house before anyone else is awake. It's like my private time with God.

I'm afraid blogging may be light for the next month or so. Somehow I'm never as inclined to write here as I am at school. Perhaps the strange life of having 2000 people between the ages of 17 and 23 all on a campus together gives rise to many incongruities; whereas the life of two people who have been married 21 years, their 20-year-old daughter, and their 18-year-old daughter is so blessedly normal as to be almost unbloggable.

Here's a taste of my normal: We got home around 9 o'clock Wednesday. I was crabby with everyone. I went to bed. I got up at 5 the next morning and couldn't get back to sleep. The Internal Mother jocularly suggested that I use my insomnia to do something useful, like wash the dishes. So I did. Bet she thought I never actually would. :)

Then Mom and I went to 7:00 Mass. We sang badly (it's a requirement for daily Mass-goers here--if you can sing, sleep in), did all that sit-stand-kneel business Catholics are so fond of (it keeps us awake at these early Masses), and went up to receive Our Lord and Savior. Funny how you can just tack that onto the end of a sentence. "This morning I got up, got dressed, brushed my teeth, and received the King of Creation." I wrote a poem about it. It still strikes me that a handful of badly-singing people and a couple of ordinary priests can do this kind of thing on a daily basis.

A couple of my good friends were there and I ended up behind one of them in the Communion line. He looked over his shoulder and whispered, "So how's school going?" to which I replied, "Good." I might have elborated, but when there are only 20 people in the whole church the Communion line goes fast. So, there's an interesting tidbit for you: Even 60-year-old men sometimes whisper in church. And sometimes their teenage friends whisper back.

I spent most of the rest of the day sitting around, although I did cart all my assorted boxes upstairs and shove them in my room. My room is a mess now. I wish I could get pictures but the camera only talks to my mother's computer and blah blah blah so you people will just have to imagine it.

After dinner my mother had her FAMILIA meeting so she and her friends prayed and all that good stuff while Sister and I played board games with a ten-year-old girl and her 7-year-old sister. It was fun, especially when I pulled out this one board game that I got for Christmas back in the days when I was a horse-crazy ten-year-old and delighted the two girls with the horsiness of it. I think it is a requirement for girls to go through a horse-crazy phase sometime between 7 and 12.

I'm sure I just lost all my readers by boring them to death. This is why I might not be blogging, folks. It's fun stuff but it doesn't make for a pithy post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It Is Finished

"Pallas Athene, you have kept my house alive."

4 down, 1 to go

"This is the end for me. The noose, or else the light."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Tomorrow at approximately 11:00 AM I will have my oral exam in Honors. Let me explain how it works: One by one, we are called into the professor's office. From a list of seventeen questions, he chooses two. We are then permitted to choose one of these two and speak on it for five minutes. This earns us 33.3% of our grade for the semester.

Oddly enough, I'm not really too nervous. I mean, every now and then I'll have a moment of freaking out about it, but in my rational moments I realize that I am ready for this. Six months ago I would have prepared for this test by memorizing word-for-word the answers to 16 of the questions. I started out this class planning beforehand what I was going to say during class discussions. After a week I was extemporizing in class, and a little voice in the back of my head was screaming at me, "What are you doing? Where are you getting this stuff? Where is this written down?" Since then the little voice has quieted. I have learned that the right way to participate in class is not to plan out beforehand exactly what I am going to say, but simply to know the material and see where things go from there.

That's what I'm doing for the final. I will be reviewing the questions and attempting to remember as much as possible, but I will not try to go into this exam with everything I am going to say planned out exactly. I know this material, I know how to construct an argument as I go along, I know that I will probably say things in the final that I come up with on the spot. And I'm okay with that, oddly enough.

Have I mentioned before that I really like Honors? At first this final seemed ridiculous to me, but now I see how it is the perfect ending to the semester. It is not the sort of final where you memorize names and dates, regurgitate them onto the test, and then forget them all by the next week. It is a test where you have to know how to intelligently discuss great literature. Everything I've been learning since August is helping me with this final. Last week (before I had studied much) I joked that I would just go in there and "fake it", relying on what I knew already, what had been impressed into my mind during the class, in order to answer whatever question I was given. Really, though, my joke was not so very far from the truth.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Trained Response

Does anybody else have their mother inside their head? By that I mean do you ever find yourself, say, in a situation where you are having a good old time sitting on the back of a chair, yakking with your friends, and you hear your mother say, "You shouldn't sit there, the chair will tip over." This even though your mother is 300-odd miles away at the time.

A few minutes ago I was sitting here in my chair (in the chair, not perched on the back, mind you) not studying and thinking that I really ought to study but I don't want to because I'm bored. At those two magic words, the Internal Mother popped up and said, "Why don't you clean your room?" As if she can see the fact that my garbage is overflowing and the top of my desk is once again proving the law of entropy.

Does this happen to anyone else?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Captain Quotes

From my friend in the Pacific Northwest:

"What would a cake taste like if you tried to make it without eggs?"
"At least the batter will be okay to lick, since it doesn't have eggs in it."
[Upon unexpectedly discovering a carton of eggs]
"Great! Now my batter will be unhealthy!"

"Oh, the flooding wasn't bad. Nothing got...Well, a few things got swept away, but it really wasn't that bad."

"...and the roads were all closed because the rain pretty much washed them out. So then I got bored and went for a walk."

Notes to Self

Dear Self,

1. Do not go to dinner at 5:00 on Sunday. Why not? Because when the 4:00 Mass lets out everyone wants to go eat dinner and you will have to wait in a freakishly long line.

2. Ever wonder whether it's worth it to turn back and get your jacket? It is. Trust me.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Probably from Quoting J.

cash advance

Hat tip to...well, Captain Hat.

Something to Remember

I shall fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

--from a song at the FOP tonight

Study Group

J (reading what he wrote): "So although philosophy has its hand in both poetry and history and poetry has its hand in history, nevertheless history, insofar as it remains itself (i.e. insofar as it is primarily concerned with particulars), must be less philosophic than poetry, which follows from the difference in its heirarchy of objects."

Me: See, that's what I'm taking about. What does that even mean?

J: You know...history is primarily concerned with particulars and only secondarily with universals, whereas poetry is concerned first with universals and then with particulars.

Me: Thank you! It makes so much more sense now!

J: But didn't I already say that?


Today at lunch I was sitting with a girl from my Honors class and we were discussing (of course) the final. Specifically, we were attempting to figure out our respective positions in the alphabetical order of the class. I'm 5th, in case you're curious. As near as we could figure at the moment, the girl to whom I was speaking is 7th. In between us is J.

Now, I've posted on J. before, so you might, dear readers, have figured out by now that I consider him to be on a pinnacle of Classical knowledge far beyond what I shall ever achieve. Imagine my befuddlement when my lunch companion sighed, "Great, I'm going to be right after you and J." How could anyone possibly speak of me and J. as if we were close enough to be in the same category?

Apparently not everybody agrees with my assessment of my abilities.

Friday, December 7, 2007

If You Give an Honors Student an Oral Exam...

I should be studying for my Honors final but my classmates are just too bloggable.

We divvied up the questions for the final on Tuesday and everybody brought back their answer on Thursday (yesterday). Now I am typing them all out and I can't help but laugh at some of them.

For instance, we gave J. a question on philosophy. We got 2 pages of 10-point font back. My study guide needs a study guide. Moral of this story: Never give a philosophy question to a Platonist.

Another question, given to a classmate I shall refer to as Mr. President (even Dr. S calls him this): Is Thucydides' Peloponnesian War a tragedy? Mr. President, wanting the rest of us to have a bit of selection, gave the question 2 answers: First, he argued against it; and then he did an about-face and argued for it. Part of his against question goes like this: "Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War is not a tragedy according to Aristotle’s definition....First of all, the book is too long and convoluted for one to keep the entire story in mind (1451a5)".

ADDED ** Q: In what way is the Alcestis a tragedy?
A: (in part)...One fears for and pities Alcestis' poor children (left with their incompetent father)...**

This is what happens when you take 15 people who are too smart for their own good and set them loose in the Classics.

1 down, 4 to go

I believe that I have made a graceful end to my brief flirtation with Computer Science--now I just have to do as well on the subjects with which I hope to have a lasting relationship.

It is weird to be done for the weekend at 9:30 AM on Friday. Of course, I have studied hardly at all for the 4 exams I have next week.

I'm off. Meanwhile, don't forget to go to Mass tomorrow--yes, it's the Saturday before Finals Week, but it's also a Holy Day of Obligation.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pray for me...

I have 5 finals in the next six days.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Computer Science Professor on Life

Love is just like a recursive get married and have kids and they have kids and it just keeps going. Then the priests and nuns are the base cases.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This is the week for life changes

I got a job today. A stupendously awesome job that pretty much dropped itself into my lap.

Details to follow, when it becomes officially official. For now, suffice it to say that I am going to be dreadfully busy and incredibly happy next semester.

The Pacific Northwest

Anyone who hasn't heard of this already--please pray for people in the Pacific Northwest who are experiencing very bad storms right now. In particular I would like to ask for prayers for the Captain and her family and for various of Durnhelm's relatives.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Gratuitous Beauty

The other day Scott and I were talking about beauty as a proof of God. We both felt that there had to be a proof in there somewhere, but neither of us was quite sure where.

This morning I was walking to Mass and fretting about finals when I looked up and realized that it was snowing.

Have you, dear readers, ever stood on a sidewalk in the dark of a winter morning and watched snowflakes fall by the light of the street lamps? It's beautiful, isn't it?

To me, it felt like God reached down and touched me and said Be still.

Why should snow be beautiful? It's cold and wet and makes walking a challenge. There is, as far as I can tell, absolutely no evolutionary advantage to snow. Yet I think it's beautiful.

Perhaps that's a proof of God. If it isn't, I ask you--how could gratuitous beauty arise from random chance?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Philosophers have it rough

During a three-way IM last night:

9:15:15 PM Emily: Socrates said that men have the best of worlds

9:15:28 PM Emily: Because if they marry a beautiful wife, they have a gorgeous companion

9:15:44 PM TheBaroness: And if not they become philosophers

9:15:51 PM Emily: Hahaha, exactly

9:15:58 PM TheBaroness: I think we all know that one

9:16:19 PM The Cobbler: It's one of my favorites.

9:16:32 PM The Cobbler: My question is what if I was already a philosopher?

9:16:41 PM TheBaroness: Then you have to marry a beautiful woman

9:16:45 PM TheBaroness: Tough luck

9:16:48 PM Emily: Yeah

9:16:52 PM The Cobbler: XD

I'm Sick in the Head

Really. I mean, does anybody else in the whole world feel a moment of panic when she sees that her average in Computer Science has dropped from 105.08 to 104.78? This is getting ridiculous.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

One of Those Days

There are days when the only prayer I can manage is "God, I am disappointed and frustrated and having a really hard time not being royally ticked at certain people, so take all these painful emotions and use them as part of Your perfect plan. Amen."

The nice thing about God is that He can use even a prayer like that. The nice thing about God is that He can use even a person like me.

"You shall love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart."--W. H. Auden