Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Piece of Quiet

It was a quiet weekend here at Chez Us.

I went in for some minor surgery on Friday - the outpatient kind, where they bring you in, have their way with you, and then send you home in a drug-induced haze so you can sleep it off. And three cheers for drug-induced hazes, I say. "Better living through chemistry" - that is my motto.

Well, it's one of them.

There's also "Never ask what you really don't want to know." Sometimes I fall back on "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Occasionally I am more in an "It's not my fault you're stupid" kind of mood, or "Once you know what the magician knows, it isn't magic anymore." Really, there are just mottoes for every occasion around here. I am sure that someday my children will just roll their eyes whenever I open my mouth, even if it is just to sneeze. Because you never know when some pearl of wisdom will come slipping out, bounce across the floor and get caught in the gears of everyday life, making them smoke and judder to a halt until the sad clown appears downstage right and says something completely unrelated that we are all supposed to nod sagely at - much like the original motto, in fact, which is how life completes one of its many circles.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Drug-induced hazes. Gotta love 'em.

We felt it would probably be best if the girls spent the weekend up with their grandparents rather than bouncing around me, so off they went.

It was kind of eerie, actually.

Not for the girls - no, despite some initial separation anxiety they had a wonderful time once they got there. Playing Uno, going to see Ice Age 3, and eating Cheezy Poofs for two and a half straight days will do that. That sounds pretty good to me, actually. Somewhere I am sure there is a bag of Cheezy Poofs as big as my car, just waiting for me to dive in and eat my way clear to the other side. This might just be a case of the post-drug-induced-haze munchies, though. You can't tell what's real until you start chewing.

I'll add that last bit to my stock of mottoes.

No, mostly it was just quiet here.

On the one hand, this is what I needed - a couple of days to sit around and not do anything more strenuous than eat General Tso Chicken (extra spicy - as in "No, no, no, not the 'midwestern spicy' that this description normally covers. Extra! Spicy! If the aluminum tray is not beginning to melt, please add more peppers") and watch movies with Kim. And we did just that. I can highly recommend The Hangover, though it is not something you should take your children to until they are thirty.

On the other hand, though, it is surprising how silent the house seems without the girls running around. There are times when I wish for this quiet, but whenever I get it I am always sort of bummed about it.

I am in for some sad, sad days when they go off to college.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Today, I Am A Man (of a certain age)

On Monday I officially became a middle-aged man.

Not that this was any real surprise. I blew by 40 a few years ago now, and strictly on an actuarial basis it is not difficult to do the math and discover that I am either at or past the halfway point in my time on this planet. More generally, I have also developed an aversion to most forms of popular culture these days and the limits of my technological expertise are at least a decade old. At some point I expect to begin caring about the lawn, and when that happens I hope someone will sedate me and cart me away.

So middle-agedness has been creeping up on me, slowly but surely, for some time now.

I don't really mind this. It beats the alternative, for one thing. Plus, I was never cool even when I was young enough to care, so my not being so now is not all that much of a hardship. I have friends who are mourning this new uncool status, but I've had all my life to get used to it. It's a less stressful way to live, really. Probably greener, too, so I may well have backed into being cutting edge there. Stranger things have happened.

No, two things happened on Monday.

First, I got a haircut.

Now this in itself is not all that surprising. I manage to do this on a semi-annual basis these days, sometimes more often than that even. There are no actual barbers in Our Little Town anymore - no guys named Tony who will cut your hair, as opposed to guys named Serge who want to design it - so I usually head over to the Big Chain HairCuttery and tell whoever calls my name to make it the same, only shorter.

When I was a kid, my grandfather - whose name actually was Tony - cut all of his grandchildren's hair down in the basement of his home. I think this was something he had gotten into back when he worked for the Navy and figured out that he could cut his co-workers' hair for less than the barbershop charged and bring home some extra coin for his family. We'd go on down there and he'd wrap us in a sheet and start clipping away, and when he was done he'd give us a quarter. It still surprises me, somehow, that the flow of money is reversed these days.

I am a lot balder in photographs than I am in the mirror, I think. I can look at myself in the mirror and not think I look all that different, hair-wise, than I did in my 20s, but photographs for some reason tend to highlight the thinning. This does not particularly bother me, on the scale of crises - not for me the five strands of hair desperately trying to cover a highly polished dome, or the hair parted just above the ear that lives in deathly fear of strong breezes. I may not age gracefully, but I do plan on aging openly. I will simply have to invest in hats. Or sunscreen. Or just stay inside. It doesn't bother me, but it does puzzle me - I still don't understand why photographs highlight this in a way mirrors don't. Probably physics or something. Beware of science.

But the Big Chain HairCuttery person did a particularly efficient job this time, and there I was, staring at the reflection in the mirror and it struck me that even without the magic of photography, there was a lot more open real estate than I was used to seeing.

I'm growing taller than my hair.

After this, I went over to the doctor's office for my physical. And it was about time, really, since the last primary care physician I had has been gone so long that none of the nurses remember his name anymore. I think he was blonde.

So there I sat in the doctor's office, answering all of the usual questions - no, I don't smoke; no, I'm not allergic to any medications that I know of; yes, I am well aware that I need to lose some weight and stop eating like a graduate student; and so on. It was all going along quite well.

And then they figured out I needed a tetanus shot.

I hate needles. I hate them with a passion that has nothing to do with rational thought or legitimate cost-benefit analysis. Really, I know they don't hurt all that much, and they provide medical benefits. But still. I've had teeth filled without Novocain rather than get the shots. I don't do that anymore - eventually the cost-benefit analysis muscles do kick in - but there you go.

The problem with tetanus shots is that they hurt for just days and days. It's a good thing I didn't go into middle-innings relief pitching, or I'd really be in trouble.

If this were all that happened, it would not have been the Middle-Aged Milestone that it was. You men out there past your 40th birthday, you know exactly what is coming next, don't you? Things are going along swimmingly, you're thinking you'll get out with only minimal medical care being practiced upon you, and then out comes The Glove.

I understand the necessity of this procedure, but it is not something I care to discuss other than to say that Now, I Am A Middle-Aged Man.

Milestones are okay, although they do hurt when you smack into them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And Then There Were Two Again

We are back up to our full complement of hamsters.

Last night as I was drifting in and out of sleep, trying to stay in but continually falling back out as is my wont these days, I heard Mithra meowing at us in a stranger-than-usual sort of way. I spent a few minutes lazily trying to incorporate this into whatever dream I was having at the time, but it never quite worked out.

And then it hit me: Cat. Meowing. Hunter. Prey. Oh, sweet dancing monkeys on a stick, that can only mean Hamster.

This math made more sense at midnight, really it did.

Plus, it was correct.

I got up and flipped on the hall light and Mithra took off downstairs. Oh no you don't, I thought, and I pelted down the stairs after her. Sure enough, at the bottom of the steps she dropped her mouthful of snack and waited for me.

Good evening, Vee! Or Hammy! Or whoever!

I scooped up the hamster - rather bedraggled after a week hiding out like some Allied flier behind Nazi lines - and deposited it in her cage, much to the annoyance of the other hamster who had gotten rather used to having the place Just So and was not looking forward to a roommate mucking up the place again.

Well, deal with it, rodent - your partner is back.

They seem to have made up, though. All day long they have groomed and played and now you really can't tell which one is which anymore since all the Bedraggle is gone.

Welcome back, Vee! Or Hammy! Or whoever!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Separate Lives

Today was the Girl Scouts softball tournament.

Tabitha's Green Eagles did not make it to the final round, for a number of reasons. For one thing, they played both of their qualifying games on a prairie restoration project that sloped down from home plate at approximately thirty degrees. They had to track the ball by following the waves in the grass as they rippled away into the distance. For another, they actually rotated their players as the rules suggested, rather than keep the best ones in the most important positions all game. On the one hand, you get annoyed at teams that don't follow the rules. On the other hand, you have to ask yourself if tangling with such morons is really worth the time and trouble.

Short answer: no.

So the Green Eagles had a grand time and left with happy memories. We'll take that.

Lauren's Hot Pink team had an exhibition game today, though. Well, all of the t-ball teams did. Whoever showed up was divided into two big teams, and we played two innings of coach-pitch ball that was even less coordinated than usual since the girls had not played together in this configuration before.

Not that you could tell, really.

The thing about softball at this level, I've decided, is that there really are two completely separate games going on and the only thing they have in common is the mere physical coincidence of playing on the same diamond.

There is the batting team, which tries to hit the ball and run around the bases. And there is the fielding team, which tries to retrieve the ball and throw it to someone on or near a base. Neither of these teams pays the other any attention, really. The batters hit the ball and run. They stop on all the bases. Eventually they come home. There isn't any room in that scenario for anything the fielding team does. And aside from putting the ball into play, the batters don't really impinge on the consciousness of the fielders either. They retrieve the ball and throw it, and their job is done.

Eventually the two sides switch.

Next year, we introduce the infield fly rule.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Welcome to the World!

We acquired a new relative today!

Kim's brother Rory and his wife Amy had a little girl at just after midnight. Well, Amy did most of the work, by all accounts. But either way, this evening there was a beautiful round little baby - 9 pounds, 4 ounces and all of 20 inches long - for us to drive up to the hospital to see.

Her name is Marin, which is a lovely name except that she is going to spend the rest of her life telling people that it is pronounced "MARE-in" like you're describing the whereabouts of a female horse, and not "Ma-RIN," like the county in California. Eventually she will either get it all straightened out or just accept it as an alternate pronunciation. If she's smart, she'll figure out how to make that work for her, and then the world will just have to watch out, won't it?

We arrived at the hospital a little past dinner time, famished. So after several tries we found the cafeteria and had a nice dinner - this just made Lauren's day, I kid you not. And when we discovered that the pies were safe for Tabitha to eat, well let's just say that multiple days were made right there and then.

And then, blood sugar restored, we headed up to see Marin.

There was quite a crowd there, what with various family members hanging out and assorted staff darting in an out like plovers at the beach. Everyone got to hold Marin except me, since I am still working my way through the Summer Death Cold From Hell and did not want to make this my "Welcome to the World!" gift.

She slept the whole time we were up there. My guess is that this is not happening now.

They're clever that way.

And Then There Was One

Well, that didn't take long.

I spent this morning working at Home Campus instead of being glued to my computer at home. I had a student who wanted to talk to me, and given that this student had a lot of ground to make up, I figured this was something I should encourage. And since I was there already, with access to computers and everything, it just made sense to stay there and work instead of going back home.

I got a lot done. It's amazing how much you can get done when you're never sure who is going to walk in on you when you should be working.

Afterward I picked up the girls from their classes at Mas Macho President Elementary, and we stopped in at the nearest food emporium, as Lauren was jonesing for some Gatorade. I know, I don't understand it either, but she likes the stuff and it's at least marginally healthy. It also comes in a variety of pleasing colors these days, so you can match it to your decor.

It was when we got home that we first realized that Something Was Wrong. The hamster cage was in pieces on the floor, surrounded by a three-inch thick pile of bedding and two sleeping cats who had seen my absence as an opportunity to take care of some business.

It's the subtle things that give crimes away.

We had placed the hamster cage on top of the craft bins, and we figured that as long as the cage door was fastened things would be okay. We didn't count on our cats doing a full Incredible Hulk on us and throwing the cage down to the floor so hard it bounced. I must check up on what exactly we feed those cats, and feed them something else.

Kim eventually found one of the hamsters (Vee? Hammy? Who can tell?) hiding in a corner, but so far the other one has not turned up. On the one hand, it is all too easy to imagine what has happened to poor old Hammy. Or Vee. Or whoever. On the other hand, though, it is rare that our cats eat entire animals, and we have found no hamster bits anywhere so far.

So we're keeping the cats outside as much as we can for a while, and keeping our eyes and ears open for any skittering little feet. In the meantime, Kim has placed Hammy (or Vee, or whoever) back in his little cage, and bungeed it to the craft bin cabinet so that the cats can't dislodge it anymore. You do what you have to.

Ah, Hammy! Or Vee! Or whoever! We hardly knew ye.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We Are Overrun With Rodents

We went to the pound yesterday to get some cream puffs and came home with hamsters.

Think about that sequence of events for a minute.

Rationally, there are no two clauses in there that belong together in any meaningful way, and yet it is an accurate description of our day. Fiction has to make sense. Truth is under no such constraint.

We had gone to the local farmers' market that morning for to indulge in some farm product - mostly vegetables this time, since our honey supply is the bees' knees and Kim still had an adequate stockpile of multicolored eggs - plus the inevitable bag of kettle corn as tall as Lauren that we cannot avoid whenever we go. On our way home, though, Kim remembered that the Cream Puff Guy was doing a fundraiser at the Humane Society.


The Cream Puff Guy is a local hero. If you've never lived in Wisconsin, you really don't understand the importance people here put on cream puffs. It's what high school football is to Texas, only the people are friendlier and less likely to make you want to shoot them on principle. Some benighted individuals will tell you that the best cream puffs are to be had at the State Fair, but they are wrong. The best cream puffs are to be found in Our Little Town, and the Cream Puff Guy has the national championship medal to prove it.

Of course there are national championships for cream puffs. Don't be silly.

The Cream Puff Guy used to be at the County Fair, but somehow he and they have been at odds the last few years so you have to catch him elsewhere. So it is always a big event when he makes an appearance, and when we pulled up to the Humane Society you would have thought the President was there handing out stimulus checks. I got in line, and Kim took the girls and their friend Grace (who had slept over the previous night) inside to see the cats and dogs.

I was almost up to the Cream Puff Window when Tabitha came rushing out to announce that if I agreed to it, Kim would get the girls the two hamsters that were up for adoption. I looked at Kim, who verified this.

Now, we already have two cats, both of whom have well-established credentials as critter-killers. We live under a constant barrage of recently deceased mice, moles, shrews, and rabbits. We also have a brand-new fish, who is shiny and gold but could not possibly compete with hamsters.

But you know, there is only so much ogre in me, so I said "sure" and went back to my cream puff foraging.

The hamsters even came with a bright pink plastic cage, with 1930s-style Art Deco grillwork and rounded corners. It's "Streamlined," in a WPA sort of way, and it's modular so you can add all sorts of attachments to it. Eventually it will cover most of the upstairs, and we can cancel our cable TV and watch the hamsters instead. Fun, and educational.

We ate the cream puffs for lunch. Yes, they are that filling. The Cream Puff Guy uses some kind of special cream that has nearly half again the amount of butterfat that most heavy cream has. It's neutron-enriched cream, the kind that bends light around it. You don't eat more than one of these cream puffs a year, not unless you want an up close view of the fireworks from the cardiac wing, but it's worth saving up those carb points for a special treat.

The girls are just thrilled with the hamsters, though we're still working on what to call them. The pound named them Thelma and Louise, which are not the most auspicious names to have, really, and the references go over the heads of most kids. I've been calling them Kibbles and Bits, though there has been resistance to these names. The girls have settled mostly on "Vee" and "Hammy." How can you tell them apart? I ask. "Hammy is rounder," Tabitha says. Well, there you go.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Of Softball and Ice Cream

If you go to the ice cream shop on the last day of the Girl Scouts Softball season, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Last night was the final game of the regular season for both Tabitha's Green Eagles and Lauren's Hot Pink. There will be some sort of tournament next week for the older kids, so Tabitha still has a game or two to look forward to, and there will be an exhibition game for the t-ball teams on the last day as well, so Lauren has one more event. But the summer of softball windeth down.

It was a good summer. I even got to see Tabitha play once, when Kim and I switched roles for a game. She did quite well.

Lauren also did well, and I could tell how far she and her teammates have come over the weeks. As the first base coach, I no longer have to point out where second base is, and all the girls give me high-fives when they reach base. Can't beat that.

This week the Hot Pink team experimented with Coach Pitch rules, where - as one would suspect - instead of using a T to position the ball for batting, one of the coaches from your own team pitches. On the one hand, this is very exciting for the girls and they all are glad that, at last, they are playing Real Softball. On the other hand, in a league which does not count balls and strikes it does mean that the games last a bit longer, even if you lop one of the three innings off at the end. Some of these girls have a strike zone about the size of a plum. To balance this, we counted as a hit anything that came within twenty feet of the foul line. Spectators tossing balls to first base is just par for the course. If you didn't want to get involved, you shouldn't have come.

I got to pitch one of the innings on Tuesday. I used to do that, way back in the day. Of course, the day was sometime in the early Reagan years, but when your goal is to have as high an ERA as possible, that doesn't matter too much.

Honestly, that goal wasn't all that far from my experience on those teams either.

I was the backup pitcher on the firehouse team, and mostly my job was to get the ball into play so the fielders could take care of business. I was good at that, and so were they.

I also pitched on a church-league softball team when I was in high school. Our team had kids from at least four different churches, none of which placed any real emphasis on the divine goodness of hitting the cut-off man or knowing how to short-hop a ball. We had a center fielder who chased cars down the street, our other (and better) pitcher was a 12-year-old girl who once tried to catch a line drive with her forehead only to have her brother the first baseman catch it on the fly, and the final scores of these games tended to look like we had been playing basketball. I seem to recall losing one game by a score of something like 45-38. It wasn't like the other teams were all that much better than we were. We did have two players who really were good, though. One was a mountain of a guy whose hits tended to burn up on re-entry. The other, our third baseman, had a cannon for an arm. I learned, as the pitcher, to get down quickly on grounders to third, as I could usually hear the ball roar over me on its way to whoever got stuck on first.

Softball - fountain of memories.

Most of the Hot Pink girls eventually got the ball moving back at me on Tuesday, and by last night they were nearly Major Leaguers. Lauren is quite the slugger, actually - all that whiffle-ball practice in the driveway has paid off! Last night she ripped two good line drives back at the pitcher, who was surprised the first time but fairly agile the second.

And then it was Awards Time, because you can't do anything involving Girl Scouts without patches, medals and some kind of improvised ceremony.

And then - even better - it was Ice Cream Time.

Go Hot Pink!

Go Green Eagles!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

Kim and the girls are off to the pound.

Lauren loves dogs. Lauren wishes we had dogs, plural, to play with. Lauren, unfortunately, is allergic to dogs, so this wish is unlikely to be fulfilled. She's also allergic to cats, but we already had liberated the cats from the Humane Society and invested heavily in their medical care when we found this out. We discussed giving the cats away and at one point actually had someone lined up to take them, but for various reasons this never came to pass. She's been pretty good with the cats, though. But we're not getting dogs.

This spring Lauren decided that volunteering down at the Humane Society would be a good way to get her dog fix. Tabitha immediately saw the opportunities in such a thing for satisfying her own love of cats, and also asked to volunteer. And the Humane Society, being like every other nonprofit organization in the known universe, was eager to have more volunteers.


It took a while to get all the ducks in a row (wait - ducks? how'd we get from dogs and cats to ducks?), but last month we finally went in for training. The Humane Society requires that all volunteers under 18 be accompanied by an adult, but other than that they are fine with kids helping out to socialize the animals. A lot of those animals were sorely mistreated, and they need help figuring out that not all human beings deserve to be bitten. Some do - oh my yes, it is a hard, hard thing not to turn some people into teething biscuits, yes indeed it is - but not all.

They've been going over for a couple of weeks now - working with the kitties on Tuesday afternoons and the dogs on Wednesday afternoons. Usually Kim goes with them, since she's better at this sort of thing than I am and she likes dogs. Me, I like cats - they're soft, they're content to sit on or near you without demanding too much, and they can use their litter boxes on their own. Really, they're just one step removed from pillows. Dogs require work.

I went over yesterday on kitty day, since Kim had to go to a meeting. It's a pretty low-stress gig, really - if there is a room open, you go to the cages and pick out a cat that hasn't been played with yet that day, and then you take it back to the room and play with it for a while. If the rooms are full, you go to the big room that has many cats in it and play with them there.

Tabitha and Lauren just love doing this. They are both very good with the cats, and it helps out the Humane Society - an organization that definitely deserves to be helped out. I'm glad they think that volunteering to help others is a good way for them to spend their time.

I'm not sure how much they're going to get to do with the dogs today, since it is raining somewhat, but usually all you do is let them run around in the enclosed area, play with them once their "toxic energy" has drained out a bit, and pick up the emissions that invariably follow. It's that last part that separates those who understand the idea of responsibility from those who don't.

The only rule is that they can't come home with anything they didn't bring there.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Of Fish and Fireworks

This Fourth of July we acquired a goldfish. Well, I say "we" but it was really Tabitha's doing, since she was the one who managed to get the ping-pong ball into the little glass bowl. We weren't really prepared for this, but the girls took an instant shine to what in my mind was simply a cat-snack in a bag, so we when we got home Kim found a large vase for it to swim in, nested the girls' glowsticks next to it, and settled in to wait to see if it would make it through the night.

Our day had started hours earlier, with a quiet barbecue at home with Kim's parents, her brother Randall, and our nephews Kegan and Brody. The kids ran around having a good time, as kids will, while the adults ate and talked, as adults will.

Tabitha even put on her magic show for us.

The party ended earlier than usual, since our guests had to go home. They used to stay for the fireworks, when the fireworks were closer to our house. Up until the last couple of years we could walk over to see them. The city had this great spot for shooting them off, right on the river, within easy walking distance of our house.

Of course, this spot also meant that the fireworks would arc directly over the hospital. You have to wonder about the decision-making process that went into that set up. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

Fireworks Guy: Hey, I've got a proposition for you!
Hospital Dude: What?
FG: How about we shoot off about 45 minutes of heavy artillery directly over the cardiac unit?
HD: Sounds great! It might even keep the newborns awake for the night - they get too much rest as it is.
FG: So, you want us to shoot down the Medivac helicopter while we're at it?
HD: No, those are expensive. We'll just tell people to schedule their emergencies for later.

We'd gather up the troops and throw every folding chair in a three-county radius into the girls' wagon and head on down to the hospital parking lot like some pyromaniac refugee family, and there we'd set up our chairs, lean back and watch the show.

And it would be a great show, too. Our little town put on a wonderful show for a burg this size - Siss! BOOM! Ahh! Lights, sounds, explosions, colors, and a finale that you could feel in your bones.

Take that, cardiac patients!

I even got to be on the crew one year when a friend of mine had to be out of town. I was the "flare guy," in charge of making sure the people who actually lit the fireworks had working flares with which to do so. You know what? It was loud.

Unfortunately that launching site has flooded twice in the last three years, though, so they finally moved the fireworks out to the edge of town, by the soccer fields. I can understand why, but I miss being able to walk over.

After our guests left, we piled all of the chairs into the car and headed over to the fireworks.

This wasn't even the first big fireworks display we had, either. Last week the evangelical church (correction - the largest of the evangelical churches; they crop up like mushrooms around here) put on its own display. I'm not sure what the connection is between the Prince of Peace and artillery, but then neither am I one to look a gift fireworks display in the mouth, either. They put on a nice show - my favorites being these gold ones that only went up so far before stopping and seeming to toss some blue sparks casually into the air. We had a spot right up front, it turned out, and nobody tried to convert us.


We set up our chairs on Saturday and quickly found the popcorn vendors. Fully salted, we then headed off to the carnival attached to the fireworks, where we not only found kettle corn (mmmmmm, kettle corn) but also the aforementioned goldfish.

Her name is Mella.

Once again, the city put on a great show - sponsored by the Odd Fellows now, instead of the Jaycees - and we left happy. We drove home through the pall of smoke that always covers our town on this day as if it were San Jose during wildfire season, and fell asleep to the musical accompaniment of Joe Sixpack and the Illegal Rocket Show, a long-standing tradition around these parts.

It's been 24 hours, and Mella is still alive. Good luck, little fish.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

News and Updates

Just to get a couple of things out there, in between everything else...

1. I do not understand all the fuss and bother about Michael Jackson. All I know is that now that he's gone it is no longer possible to avoid his music. Now, Billy Mays? There's a tragedy. Where am I going to go for my kitsch now?

2. Actually, the best comment I saw on all the celebrity deaths was from someone who pointed out that while celebrities are supposed to die in threes (Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson), leave it to Billy Mays to add ONE MORE, ABSOLUTELY FREE!

3. Three weeks ago you could see your breath here in Baja Canada. Last week it was hot enough to cancel the softball games. Yesterday at those same softball games, people were bundled up in blankets. This summer is another thing I do not understand. I shall add it to the list.

4. It's a mighty long list.

5. You are no longer allowed to write books in the second person, for when you do, no matter how well-intentioned you are, you tend to come across as just unspeakably precious. Especially if you fill your books with illustrations of baby animals with mutant-large doe-like eyes. You are not being adorable when you do that. You are being scary. You should stop that.

6. Online classes eat lives. Apparently they're more effective than face to face classes - that's what the headlines say this week, and I'm sure this will be trumpeted up and down the halls of academia as a reason to move ever forward with online classes at the expense of face to face classes. But further into the article is the reason for this effectiveness - it is not the technology, which actually helps not at all, but simply time spent on task. In other words, they're effective because they eat lives. [french accent] And thus we see how all of life is a circle. [/french accent]

7. There is nothing so darkly enjoyable as the knowledge that someone who made your world miserable a while ago has moved on to do the same to other people who made your world miserable. Go team! Give me an "S"! Give me a "C"! Give me an "H"! Give me an A! D! E! N! F! R! E! U! D! E! What do you get?!? My life back!

8. One advantage of being this cold is that I can drink tea again without getting uncomfortably hot in the process. This is essential to my academic well being (see point 6, above).

9. Tabitha and I started in on The Silmarillion last week. It's been slow going, between my schedule and hers, and we have only gotten past the introductory material so far, but eventually we will press on.

10. Ten is a nice round number. All lists should have ten things on them.