Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fluency Disorders

Is it just me, or is there something really odd about my hearing this song on the radio for the first time this season on the day of my final on stuttering?

Monday, December 15, 2008

No Service

Those who know me probably know that I've been helping with the Deaf Ministries at my church for a while, helping to interpret. Not the sermons, because I'm nowhere near the talent, practice, or capability required for such a feat. I do some of the songs, and have even done a prayer or two.

I've know for a while that there have been ... "politics" ... in Deaf Ministries, but up until today I've been allowed to remain, blissfully, pretty much ignorant of said politics. Got an email today about some of the stuff, and it disappointed me so much that I've been unable to rally myself into finals mode. It's been 12 hours since I found said email, and I've barely gotten anything written on starting to flesh out my literature review (for my research mentor, but ultimately for me), let alone studying for my final tomorrow, or the one I'm really freaking out about: Wednesday. Happy happy joy joy.

Thankfully my mentor seems to have a very placid personality, or I'm sure he'd skin me tomorrow. I'm gonna see how much I can get done before midnight, and then tomorrow morning before I leave to meet with him. Wish me luck.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Was working on my applications for grad school today. I know, scary. It's actually a very scary concept for me. Basically, I printed up an application for being a graduate assistant. Or so I thought.

Turns out, it was an insight into the thinking processes of my computer. Don't know what or how my computer thinks, but the results were ... interesting. There were lots of exclamation marks. Many, many of them. Probably where the lines were supposed to be. Can't compare it to how it was supposed to look, because I gave away my evidence to one of my students. He thought it was particularly funny, and is old enough to understand the complexities of computers. If you think you might know who he is, his hair looks like exclamation marks.

Oh, and I think my printer has started running out of ink. I'm getting funny little shadow lines where there should not be any ink. No, I don't know why that translates to running out of ink, but I always only ever see this right before the ink starts fading.

Oh, and in case you care, I finally came up with a name for my computer. After three years of ownership (roughly). Ask me, and I might just tell you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Not so Silent Night

So, for a few days now (read: several) my computer fan has been very noisy, especially upon turning on my computer. Like it sounds as if it's about to rattle itself out of the casing. Think I should take it apart and see what's up? Maybe tomorrow. Or some other time still much later. For now, finals are next week.

Is it sad that I'm getting excited rereading through the preparation materials/articles my research mentor gave me? They're about speech-motor development. And the interaction between linguistic processing demands and the stability of the speech-motor system. The guiding theory behind this line of research is the Dynamic Systems theory, which my mentor didn't see fit to have me read about until ... this last week. I started reading craziness for him in September, and now I start reading about the guiding theory. Makes perfect sense to me. Either way, rereading through everything (so I can make guidelines for writing my literature review) is making everything make so much more sense now. I'm even getting faster at reparsing data in the lab that was parsed incorrectly, and the grad student hasn't even been reparsing anything. She's only analyzing data that I've already reparsed. I know. We have a progress checklist. I'm doing all the work. No, I don't think she's doing anything else for our mentor (<----sarcasm). Who knows? Certainly not me. I'm working right now on a pretend cover letter for a pretend resume in my Rhetoric and Writing Stuidies class. So glad I'll never have to take another one of those again. It's stupid and boring. And my professor is a recovering hippy that's still big in social activism. Makes for an interesting time, it does. And for your viewing entertainment, a little bit of commentary, courtesy of ihasahotdog.com:

see more puppies

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our Weather is Bipolar

San Diegans are accustomed to the fact that they have cool weather at the start of October, followed by the Santa Ana winds (hot + dry = fire). Then November was full of ups and downs, including rain leading right up to Thanksgiving Day. Now, we're not very far into December, but we've had both rainy weather and very dry weather. All last week I had a massive headache, thanks to the bipolar nature of our weather. I'd just like some well and proper sweater weather, thank you very much.

In other news, I took the GRE last month, and now I'm all ready to be doing grad school applications. Except I need to get some letters of reccommendation. Badly. Yep, I'm working on that. And not looking foward to thinking about how much money I'm spending on those applications. I'm not asking for much for Christmas this year.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Yes, it is almost midnight on a Sunday night. Yes, I did drop off the face of the world. Yes, I'm fine, and yes, there are monsters here.

School is keeping me busy, as expected, and this semester is simultaneously easier and harder, more exciting and more boring, than I thought it would be. It's scary getting ready for grad school, it's scary getting ready to write a real research paper, one that I'm using real experimental data on and will defend in front of a committee.

Yesterday and today were our first cool days of the season. They've been absolutely fantastic, and I even got some rain in the deal! Sweater weather is my kinda weather, and today I got to change into my Charles University sweatshirt once I got home from church. Doesn't get much more relaxing than that. Except when you have the rough draft of a thesis proposal to show your research mentor tomorrow, a test the next day, a second test the day after that, and a paper due the day after that. Those are the nice, relaxing weeks.

I've been playing in my 3D art studio a bit more than I should, but oh well, I really enjoy it, and it's (mainly) relaxing. This is one I did recently, and I'm really proud of it, so I thought I'd share it here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prague 2008: Day 10 (1 July)

I profusely apologize for the delays in getting the day-by-day of my trip to Prague posted. Admittedly I've been lacking in my ability to get sufficient time on the computer to be able to write the play-by-play, but I believe I should be granted a bit of leeway. For two weeks I was without internet access at my place of residence, which therefore prevented my being able to log on and post new entries in my blog, let alone post pictures to go in the blog. Thank you for your time. Now, without further ado, we return to your regularly scheduled blog.

After breakfast I did my Czech homework because I was a bad girl and hadn't done my homework the day it was assigned. Class was difficult, as could be expected on the second day of learning a language.

Megan and Annelise showed us a traditional Czech restaurant they had found. Since I had spent almost all of my money in Brno and hadn't been able to figure out my Fleet card yet, I ate a frugal supper of onion soup and a soda. The soup was very good, though, especially since it had cheese on the bottom! We returned to the brewery for dessert. Some of the girls ordered a glass of port because we couldn't remember what it was that Michelle had for a drink the last time we were there. To put it simply, the port was wonderful. Stunning. We also arrived early enough in the evening to see just about all of the dances. There were more big tour groups there, including one from Spain. Most of Europe was still celebrating España's win in the finals, so the band played "Olé, Olé" and what I can only suppose was the Spanish national anthem. Alicia and a couple other girls left early, but they missed one of the best sights of the night: one little, old, drunk Spanish lady was dancing her heart out, using her Spanish flag as a bull flag and as flamenco skirts. She came over to our table andtried to get us to stand up and dance with her. Christine and I stood up and did dance a little bit. We then managed to have a very broken conversation with her, and with the aid of a paper napkin we showed her the states we lived in and she showed us that she lives due west of Madrid along the border between Spain and Portugal. She asked us if we had boyfriends, and when she found out we didn't, she exclaimed that it was okay, because we were powerful. Then, with another cry of "España!" her group departed.

My Old Prague Onion Soup.

Palačinka Praha (Prague Pancakes). Mine had strawberries and grapes inside/below the pancake.

The dancers at the brewery in their traditional costume.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Prague 2008: Day 9 (30 June)

Being Monday, this was our first day of classes. I was signed up for two, both of which would be meeting that day. First was history, and it was a long trek up the stairs from ground floor up through the first and second floors before we reached the third floor. The professor had an utterly unpronounceable name and very broken English. She did her expected professorial ramblings about herself before handing us a syllabus and announcing that she was taking us on a field trip, but not before she got more money so that she could make sure that we would all be able to get in at Vyšehrad. Only problem was, by the time we got there, it was time for four of us to turn around and go back to school so that we could go to Czech Language class. We hurried through the public transportation, being stopped once as we got off the metro at school to prove that we had our transportation passes. Back up to the third floor we hurried, somehow only getting to class 15 minutes late.

Czech class went a little easier, although the professor enjoyed confusing us and scaring us by speaking in far more Czech than we could ever hope to understand in our first class. The first class was mainly the sounds of the language and how they are perceived and categorized, along with some of the most basic vocabulary. I don't think I need to describe how much I enjoyed geeking out about all that and the sorts of deductions I made about the language and its sound system. I read a quote once about Slavic languages: "Whichever Slavic language you choose to learn, go ahead and follow your heart, because your head will hate you anyways." The quote is right. As opposed to the two genders I'm used to in Spanish, Czech throws in a third gender: neutral. Beyond that, there are cases. Don't ask me to explain them, because I still don't rally get it. But we're only learning nominative and accusative cases. I haven't really been able to process why they're used, I just memorize the rules.

I hung out in a room downstairs that night. Kendra taught us a drinking game called "zoo" that entails performing your own sign and someone else's while still keeping to the rhythm the rest of the group is setting. If you mess up, you have to take a drink. Obviously this gets harder the more you drink. I think I had two advantages: playing comparable (albeit non-drinking) games in American Sign Language, and the fact that I wasn't drinking. Some people wanted to play a card game, too, so I ran up (the three flights of stairs) to my room to get my awesome, random animal playing cards. I ended up being very glad I wasn't drinking, because the drink was $1.50 (20 kcz) wine which was apparently atrocious. A chair randomly broke while someone was still sitting on it, but Alex was able to wedge it back together. I went to bed about 1, the person to turn in the earliest.

Prague 2008: Day 8 (29 June)

Our fist stop on our sort-of way home was the castle Pernštejn. The first written record of it is from the 13th century. It's out in the middle of a beautiful green wood and looks everything like a proper castle should. There was a dirt road that led to a small market area before the castle proper. The whole of the castle had been built with a rock as its foundation. The castle had a bit of a split personality, though. The original construction was in the gothic style, but reconstruction and new construction after a fire added baroque qualities. One of the new baroque rooms was a formal dining room full of portraits of the family as well as family friends, like a Hapsburg emperor and his wife.

After the castle we had a long bus ride to the Moravian Karst (caves). We had about a 30 minute walk to get from the parking lot to the entrance to the karst, but it was a beautiful wooded walk along a stream. The caverns stay at roughly 48° F all year 'round. It's difficult to describe how beautiful the caves were, but probably one of the best words for them is "ethereal." There were fantastic stalagmite and stalactite formations, and we saw a crater that formed when an underground cavern/cistern collapsed on itself. After that we got to go on a boat ride through the caverns.

Our last tourist stop was in a little town called Křtiny where we saw a baroque church that is called "the pearl of Moravia." It was truly awe-inspiring, but we didn't get to see it for very long because we had our time table reformatted so that Barbora and Zdenek could visit the guy in the hospital. The rest of us had one quick final bus tour of Brno and ate at McDonald's while we waited. We then hurried back to Prague because many wanted to be able to watch the football finals in Old Town Square. Alicia was among those that went to the game, but after the adventure from trying to get to the semi-finals, I decided not to go. Everyone came back late from the game, and the cheers of "España!" went on for days.

The view walking up to Pernštejn

Inside the caverns

More inside the caverns

The newly-formed crater from the collapsed underground lake

She was waiting outside the giftshop at the caverns

The Pearl of Moravia (this picture does it no justice - it's huge!)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Prague 2008: Day 7 (28 June)

Breakfast at the hotel was wonderful. They had cocoa puffs, fruit, and a very extensive selection of pastries available. Before loading on the bus to go back into Brno, we found out that one of the guys on our trip had gone to the hospital the night before for high blood pressure (tingling in his arm). We also found out more about a guy who had fallen off the fire escape outside his room the first night in London. That guy apparently had his arm mangled when he landed atop a power generator, aside from having his pelvis shattered, a bone broken in his back, and five bones broken in his face. He wasn't going to be let out of the hospital for two weeks at minimum, and his mom was flying to London to be with him.

In any case, we were supposed to have started with a guided tour in Brno, but since Barbora and Jana were going to visit the guy with the blood pressure problems, we went to Mendel's abbey first (Gregor Mendel - father of the study of modern genetics). The abbey was really very beautiful, but there were no benches so that anyone could sit down and enjoy the garden. I got my picture taken with Mendel, but our guy on the trip that was a little bit special took the picture, so he cut off Mendel's head. I got a postcard for Miss Wagner there, so I hope she likes it.

After that we really did go to Brno town square to visit and appreciate the churches there. I think we saw four, but I'm not positive. One of them had a little naked man mooning the town hall. Apparently the architect wasn't given his promised price/fees for the church. Isn't that a nice way to be remembered? We noticed all day that more and more police were showing up in the area around the town square. We broke for about an hour and a half so we could get something resembling lunch (that's not quite long enough for a proper meal here), at which time some of us got gelato. We ate that on a bench in the town square and found out why the police were gathering: the country's first Gay Pride demonstration, to be held there on that day. The neo-Nazis, as well as one priest carrying a large cross, showed up at the demonstration to protest. The skin-heads brought eggs and firecrackers. After one firecracker went off, we hid behind a pillar at McDonald's. Unfortunately, it was also time to meet with Z. In the town square. We all made it safely back to the bus, the only casualty being a girl who had been egged while she was in the crowd (I found out later that one guy had also been pushed over by a neo-Nazi, and he had a big scab on his leg for several days). The Gay Pride demonstration was legit, so that meant that the Czech SWAT-type guys needed to be there. Everyone was talking about the riot on the bus, of course. I made an effort to keep quiet.

Our next stop was Slakov (Austerlitz), aka "The Battle of the Three Emperors." We saw a memorial there, which was actually the territory of France, so we got to stand in the Czech Republic and France at the same time. We went next to a memorial built to commemorate all of the soldiers who fought in that battle. From the Memorial of Peace to the wine cellar, someone (the other Jessica) asked me what I thought of the riot. I became rather unpopular when people found out I had conservative political and social views.

Dinner at the wine cellar was nice. I had a half glass of white wine, a half glass of red wine, and tasted two other white wines after dinner. I liked the white better than the red, and the second taster better than the first. There was a bread with a rich, flavorful lard-based spread, pork goulash, and apple strudel. My camera was starting to complain of low battery power, so I didn't get many pictures taken. The AIFS personnel didn't load us back onto the bus right away after dinner, but we were made to take a walk first, so that we could sober up a little.

Back at the hotel we hung out at the restaurant for a while, but the stress, wine, extra energy from no karate, and the frustration of being the only one with my conservative viewpoint on the trip added up for a horrendous bout of homesickness, so I headed back up to the room to have a little cry and to work out some. Alicia came back up to the room for a bit before going back down to the bar. I felt a bit better after a bath, then went to bed. Alicia was out to 3 in the morning.

Where Mendel's greenhouse used to sit.

Gregor Mendel

One of the churches in Brno

A very small part of another church

The battlefield at Austerlitz

Outside the winery

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Prague 2008: Day 6 (27 June)

We left the dorm at 10:30 to head to our weekend trip to Brno, in Moravia (another province in the Czech Republic). We stopped in the town of Tisnov to visit a cloister built in the 13th century. We only arrived at the cloister after an extremely long bus ride, but the whole country is gorgeous and wonderfully green. The cloister seemed attractively simple enough, but the Gothic arch that made the entrance to the church was amazingly intricate. Z led our tour, and he started stopping to seem like some random guy with lots of stories and started seeming more like our personal tour guide, history expert, and authority on architectural periods. Not to mention that he has a certain mother hen-type fondness for each and every one of us.

The name of the hotel in Brno was Hotel Myslivna, and our rooms seemed like palaces compared to the conditions in the dorms. Even the bathroom was nicer than the bathroom in the hotel in London. After some brief confusion where Alicia and I ended up in the room that was supposed to be Jana's (it didn't matter, though, since both rooms had two beds), we progressed to having a misunderstanding about where and when our group was going to meet for dinner. We had dinner at the hotel, ordering off the English menu rather than the Czech one. I ordered, and received, chicken on a salad consisting entirely of bell peppers, tomato, and cucumber. Some of the vegetarian girls ordered fried cheese and got omlettes, which they had to send back because there was ham in them. Apparently the positions of those items on the menu were either really close or they were switched. We got dessert, too, and I ordered something that was simply called "cheese dessert." If you know much of anything about me, you know I couldn't possibly pass up the possibility for cheese in a dessert. It turned out to be what was essentially a cheese mousse with a dressing of forest fruit (tiny, tart berries). The poor waiter, who was overworked and rather flustered from messing up the fried cheese, brought Alicia the wrong ice cream dessert.

We managed to pay for our dinner just in time to hop onto the bus and go into downtown Brno. We had about an hour to wander on our own before going back to the hotel that night. Alicia hung out downstairs for a while, and I enjoyed getting clean in the nice, shiny, clean hotel room bathtub.

A random view from the gas station where we stopped for a snack and potty break. We saw a lot of this gas station on all our weekend trips.

The outside of the cloister and its gorgeous arch/entrance way.

This was outside of the building, a representation of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Linden Tree, the Czech national tree. It was in full blossom, and it smelled so good.

My dinner at the hotel. The big poofy things are croutons.

My cheese dessert with a forest fruit dressing.

The plague column in the square in Brno. These things were everywhere!

Prague 2008: Day 5 (26 June)

Even though the dorms are so spartan, the beds were comfortable enough and we were tired enough to fall asleep fast. We met out front of the dorm (Komenskeho Kolej, in case you're wondering the name of the dorm) and took public transportation (with our handy-dandy student public transportation passes) to the building where we would have our classes. We passed a statue of Dvorak in front of the home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. We sat through orientation and a power point about all the things we would be doing on our various weekend trips. It was hot in the room, and most of us were still very tired, so almost everyone nodded off at least once or twice.

We were initially supposed to have free time for lunch, but apparently we hadn't eaten as much the night before as we were expected to, so the AIFS people saved the meat and bought more bread so that we could make sandwiches at the AIFS office. We also got our Fleet cards, which had the money for our meals, and were able to activate them. Most of us didn't understand the full procedure, though (read: we were napping), and didn't create a PIN then, so we weren't able to access our cards. Once we were done at the office, we got a little tour around town. We were shown Billa (a grocery store) and Tesco (a multi-level department store with a grocery store in the basement). We got a chance to shop some in Tesco, where Alicia and I bought a pan, two plates, two forks, a set of spatulas, and some dish soap. AIFS promised to refund us 200 czk (up to 200 czk, which isn't much) on purchases for the dorm. We were also shown where the university's computer lab is and had a new, 5-storey mall pointed out to us.

After the tour we were able to go back to the dorm, and we had the rest of the3 evening free. Alicia wanted to watch the semi-finals football game on the big screen in Old Town Square, so we decided to go to dinner right before that. I changed to my smaller purse, rather than my jumbo Target tote, and in the process left my public transportation pass in the tote back at the dorm. That was when the undercover police showed up and checked us for our passes, so I was fined 700 czk, which Colin payed for me, since I didn't have any money yet. I stopped at a bankomat to get some money before we ate at a Mexican restaurant that was far too expensive (and yes, I did pay Colin back that night).

We went back to the dorm so that I could get my pass, and then we attempted to find the game. Only thing is, everyone had a different idea of how to get there, so we arrived when there was three minutes left in the game. After not-seeing the game, most of the group wanted to go out, so we got lost looking for a pub that wasn't really crowded. We met some guys from Brazil who were looking for a hostel and became increasingly lost. A few of us bailed out early to head back to the dorm before we were absolutely lost. The rest of the group arrived back at the dorm an hour and a half later. They never did find a hostel for those guys.

From inside the gardens of a home next door to the stop where we got off the tram for school. This home was confiscated from the owner after the 30 years war because he had been making a profit off the war and everyone hated him.

Prague Castle behind the home. The castle was an orienteering mark for us the whole time we were in Prague.

The peacocks here were so loud, and sometimes it would seem like they were yelling at you.

A memorial to the period of Nazi occupation of then Czechoslovakia.

Charles Bridge, the view to our right as we walked across the Vltava to go to school. Life is rough.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Prague 2008: Day 4 (25 June)

Check out was fairly nice and quick. We didn't have too much difficulty at the airport, although security scrutinized my bags while they wre under the x-ray. Then we just had a couple of hours to wait before we could board our flight. - I almost forgot that we got to ride a double-decker bus to the airport. - Boarding for the flight opened late, but we all got on fairly easily. Most of the students fell asleep right away, but I only took a short nap before breakfast was served.

London was enough like the States to not really believe I was anywhere but home. Flying over Prague, I knew I was going somewhere completely different. How can you think you're still back home when every roof is either terra cotta or beautifully aged copper, or when there is a beautiful series of bridges across the same river (the Vltava)? Of course, it really hit that I was in a different country when we got off the plane and all the signs were in a different language.

After getting through customs, I was able to see where to go fairly easily because I could see all the people I'd met in London. Either way, I had this older guy with longish hair and big glasses ask me, "AIFS?" I didn't understand what he'd said until he repeated himself, and he led me to the rest of the group. We waited a minute for our bus to arrive, then on the bus they (Barbora, Zdenek, Jana, and Jana) told us everything we needed to know, giving us maps of the city and passes for the public transportation. We were dropped off at the dorms and were given time to unpack and unwind before going on a bus tour of the city.

The dorms presented the first round of culture shock. The beds are low to the ground, consisting of a pillow and a duvet. There is very little walking space between the beds, let alone in the "kitchen." The kitchene has a sink, a couple very cramped cabinets, a mini-fridge, and two hot plates. We were under the impression that there would be things for our kitchen, like plates, cutlery, maybe a pan or two. We found a total of ... three glasses. We were all supposed to be supplied with two towels each, apparently for use after a shower. These towels are roughly the size of a dish towel.

We unpacked, then headed downstairs to meet again for our tour. On our flight into Prague the pilot had warned us of the possibility of showers that evening. The rain started not long after we began our tour. As we were driven around hte city, "Z" (Zdenek) gave us a narrative about where we were and what the history was. We tried to pay attention, but between the change in time zones, the flying and accompanying early morning, the rain, and the sound of Z's voice, most of us fell asleep on the bus. After a while we all had to wake up, as we had arrived at our dinner location.

Dinner was at a brewery near the dorm. We all had to climb out of the bus and walk down the alley in the rain, but it was worth it. The food was set up buffet-like, and I ahve to admit that 1) I'd been wanting kolace, and 2) I probably had more kolace than I needed.

We walked back to the dorm, thankful that the rain had stopped. Alicia wanted to see the football (soccer) quarter-finals game, so we walked the streets looking for a bar with a TV. We ended up back at he monastary/brewery, but in a different part. Why? They had a sign that read "live music." We had fun trying to translate the menu before we realized that it was written in both English and Czech. A couple girls ordered beers, one ordered a glass of sherry (we were out supporting her, because one of her suitcases had been lost), a couple ordered "palacinka praha" - pancake with fruit, ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup - and I found out that Europe doesn't let you order a glass of water to be sociable but avoid paying. Water in a restaurant comes in an extra-fancy glass bottle. The music at the brewery was great. Some of it was traditional, some was older, and at 11:00 pm the band played "Auld Lang Syne" to close up. Our waiter was capable of communicating in English, but he dealt with us amicably while we tried to order in Czech. As we left, we vowed that we had to come back to the brewery again.

A view from a street near the dorm

The front of the dorm, through the trees in the park just across the street

Me and my extra special fancy water that I had to pay for!

A glowy, pretty, blurry picture of the city at night

Prague 2008: Day 3 (24 June)

We had breakfast at the hotel before going off on a bus tour of London. We saw most of the major landmarks, including Big Ben, the House of Parlaiment, Westminster Abbey, Picadilly Circus, and Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard (both the foot soldiers and the mounted soldiers). We got day passes for the tube so that we could go back to some of those sites to take pictures. The tube was an amazing network of stations, but it was running slow because part of the Circle/District lines were unuseable because a person had been under one of the trains and that needed to be cleaned up. Still, we made it to the Tower of London and took a nice walk along the wharf, even though it was longer than we intended. We took a detour to King's Cross Station to take pictures at Platform 9 3/4. We would have taken pictures inside of "Gringotts," too, but we couldn't remember how to get to Australia House, which is where Gringotts was filmed. So we took a short nap at the hotel before buying pasties and eating them in a park near the hotel. We had an early night because we had to check out by 4:30am for our flight to Prague.

Buckingham Palace

Part of the gardens near the palace

King Richard the Lionheart

The Tower of London

Across the street from the Tower

Gratuitous touristy shot at Platform 9 3/4

Friday, July 4, 2008

Prague 2008: Day 1-2 (22-23 June)

Okay, so I've been able to have internet access for a few days, and yes, I know I'm just getting to my blog now. Don't worry, I'm behind with my hand-written travel log, too. Anywho, I'm gonna try to play catch-up, so here's the first day/entry (first day is really two days, because the transition was somewhere in the middle and there really wasn't any sleep).

An 8:55am flight doesn't sound terrible, does it? That is unless you live an hour away from the airport, like to guarantee you'll arrive early rather than late, and like to double-check your packing in the morning. Which all translated to my waking up 4-4:30am. Getting out of the house was easy enough, and things went smoothly. I have the post-9/11 security down pretty well. I had a brief teary/panicky moment when I hugged Mom goodbye, but that passed fairly quickly.

The flight that I had thought was non-stop to London actually stopped in Atlanta to change planes, despite it still being the same flight number. The first half was uneventful enough. I spent most of it playing on the DS Patrick loaned me (thank you!). When we landed in Atlanta we had a few minutes to hurry over to the second half of the flight. It's funny, but when I flew to Montana I was on three Canadair planes before I got to fly a 737, which felt huge by that point. On my way to London I got to fly on a 757 and a 767.

I sat in the very back row for both flights, but it was a window seat, so it was all good. My seatmate on the second flight was a very interesting young man. He has a Nigerian passport, a British accent, cousins in America, and lives with his sister and her boyfriend in England. He made a very friendly seatmate for the 9 hour flight to Gatwick. I played the DS some more, but I don't think it lasted quite 10 hours. I also managed to get in a couple of naps. Dinner was almost decent, "chicken" mixed with rice and smushed into a bowl. It came with a roll, too, but Addi (the seatmate) didn't trust it. Very thankful for my window seat, I enjoyed watching the light grow on the horizon. Breakfast was served about an hour before landing, and it was marginally better than dinner. The guy at customs/passports asked me three times how long I was staying in London and looked very put-out by the fact that he had to talk to me. I'm certain that if he asked me a fourth time how long I would be in London, I would have started second-guessing myself. I met my ride without too much trouble and rode to the hotel with several other AIFS girls I wouldn't see again, because they're in a different AIFS office.

My roommate in London was also my roommate in Prague, a 25-yr-old former SoCal resident by the name of Alicia. She moved with her Marine boyfriend to Vermont and is taking this trip while he is at school in Virginia. Poor Alicia had much more difficulty getting to the hotel than I did, and was supposed to room with one Alex, who turned out to be a guy rather than the girl that all his paperwork said he was. Since I had checked in after Alicia, the electronic keys were acting funky. Hers wouldn't work but mine would, so we went to the desk to figure that out. Then my key didn't work and Alicia's did. Later in the afternoon, a third girl showed up in our two-bed room. So we all went downstairs to figure that out and get the keys reconfigured again, since the third girl now had the only operating key for our room.

We wandered and found food (after I took a shower) before returning to the hotel that night for orientation and drinks with the rest of the AIFS Prague people. We followed a girl (Jessica) who had studied in London before on a very long walk from the hotel to Picadilly Circus in search of a good pub. Some of the group opted to take the tube back to the hotel, but Alicia stayed out with Jessica and one other girl, returnign only as I was getting ready to go to bed.

A really pretty church/yard not very far from the hotel. Alicia and I found it as we were wandering.

The Green Park in London. Apparently it has grown over what was a mass burial site during the plague. Therefore, because the plague is still active/alive where it's buried, there's no gardening in this park. It just grows the way it grows. We went through it on our long hike that first night in London.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Adventure Begins ... Soon

I have this problem with surrealism. No, not the art movement. With things being surreal for me. How in the world has time passed so that I'm going into my fourth year of college? How could it be time for me to start looking for grad schools? How could it be the middle of June and time for me to go do my study abroad?

The adventure actually began already. How so, do you ask? Well, we had fun looking for my ticket. A packet was mailed out on Friday, June 6 from the study abroad agency, located in the state of Connecticut. Express, 2-day mail through UPS. I watched and waited eagerly for this packet. For a week, I saw no sign of it. I emailed my study abroad adviser, relaying this distressing news. She got back to me yesterday. "Well, UPS says it was delivered, so look harder. Maybe they put it in a bush so that no one would find it." A bush, eh? Well, I looked harder. Still didn't find it. So I emailed her again last night, like she told me to do if the packet was not found. She called emailed this morning, sent me the tracking number. Sure enough, UPS said it had been delivered to our front door last Monday. Emailed the adviser one more time to tell her the packet must have been thoroughly lost. Dad told me he thought he remembered putting something on my bed, or telling my brother to put something on my bed. Then he wasn't sure if he'd put it on my bed or meant to, or put it there and then picked it up again to put it somewhere more important. Well, I hadn't seen anything on my bed in the last week except for bed stuff, and I changed my sheets over the weekend. Frustrated, I sat down to do the finishing on an afghan I just finished, and I saw a corner of something sticking out from under the old rocking chair.

Of course that was it. Why would I bother writing this whole long post if it weren't? The poor adviser, dealing with so many frantic emails and calls from me. But the ticket is found.

Which means it's now packing phase. Just about all my toiletries are packed, but that's not hard, because most of them stay packed, anyways. Part of the reason why I'm not packed yet is because I looked at my suitcase. Yes, I looked at it! I can pack perfectly fine for a week with my suitcase, and since we have washing facilities available to us, I'm fine with washing those clothes and re-wearing them. The problem comes if I want to bring anything home. If I'm gone for a week, I can accumulate enough stuffs to fill odd crannies in my luggage, both checked and carry on. But I'm going to be in four different countries, gone for four weeks. I'm gonna need more room. Solution? Ask Dad to borrow a suitcase of his that's a bit larger, so that I can have more leeway. He gave it to me, too. I think I have ... about 3 extra square inches, and there isn't a nice pocket on the inside of the lid like I'm used to. So I'll probably do a trial run tonight with my packing, and if I don't think it will be enough, we'll keep searching the house for one that calms my fears.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kitchen Sink

So, yeah, what if I barely blogged while I was in Montana? There was barely anything I did in Montana. Sewing, knitting, watching HGTV. But you already knew I did all that (whoever "you" are). When we went out to eat on Tuesday night, we were waited upon by a guy who'd had his jaw broken at his last job, whatever that was. Point is, he hadn't been able to taste anything at that shop, since his jaw had been wired shut. But he gave us an extra slice of cheesecake.

I wore my big, blue, fluffy cowgirl/peasant skirt on the plane. Helena, MT security patted me down to make sure I wasn't smuggling anything in my skirt. And yet, they didn't do anything about my grandma's screwdriver that I'd forgotten I had in my purse.

On Wednesday I got my shots I needed before I travel this summer. The tetanus still hurts a little.

Inka has gotten herself loose twice more in the two times I've put her out since I got back. And she always looks so meek and innocent and sad, too, unless she's running right past you playing hard-to-get.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

To Grandmother's House I Go

My flights were nice and uncomplicated, even if the planes were small. While waiting for my first flight, I got to talk with an almost-3-year-old and his parents who were on their way to Hawaii. After that, I spoke with a man from India. First flight I sat beside a man from Brazil. Sounds exciting, yes? Well, don't worry; on my second flight I sat beside a late-middle aged Caucasian American man who was strugging to stay awake while reading his extremely boring looking books (something historyish, categorical perception, and propulsion).

Mom picked me up, and we ate at a restaraunt in downtown Helena. The waitress smiled all the time, and she came to check on us no less than 5 times during the meal. We also got to swing by Mom's condo, although I didn't get to see the inside. That might happen tomorrow, yay!

Mom's been spoiling me, too. She had a piece of cake waiting for me when we got home to Grandma's (which I was too full to eat, but I had for lunch today), and she picked up Wendy's tonight for dinner, complete with a frosty. I think she enjoys having me out here.

I've been sewing today, since Mom was off working. Yes, I know. I came all the way up to Montana to sew. But I'm working on stuff for Mom, this project being an apron. I'm almost done. Sorta. I just have a couple more ties to sew on, then buttons to attach and button holes to put in. More exciting, though, is the fact that I managed to thread the machine on my own. And it's a very complicated threading process. The pedal for the sewing machine is ... interesting. When I started sewing this morning, it sounded like a hot iron. If you have never ironed your clothes, or don't know what an iron is, then I'll say it sounded like a bowl of rice crispies. Which I think isn't a good thing. The pedal also warms up pretty quickly while I sew, so I've been taking my time, just in case the thing is going to short circuit or explode or do something else exciting. I don't know where the fire extinguisher is.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

There will be a Test

Remember those billboards from so many years ago? The ones that were signed, "God." Like the one asking if we'd read his bestseller, because there would be a test.

Most people seem to think that the final exam for a class is the actual stack of papers they hand you that you're supposed to draw on. I've come to the conclusion that the final exam must actually be something different. The last test a class has to offer you: show up to the right classroom. Yes, you heard me right. A week ago was the last day of classes at my school. Generally everyone shows up because they want to know what will be on the test. Well, we had someone extra come to class. A dude who most definitely isn't in that class. For one, there's only about 100 of us in the year, so we all know each others' faces. Two, there's only about 4 guys total in the year, so it's not hard to figure out that he's not one of them. Third, the professor for this particular class is the major's undergrad adviser. He knows who each and every one of us is. When the dude walked into our class, he asked, "This ... isn't where my class is, is it?" Last day of classes, guy. Way to overachieve.

But if you think that's bad, just wait until you read this. We had two more such guys in that same class for the final today. One came in 5 minutes before the test was scheduled to start, holding his skateboard. The prof/adviser said, "Dude, I'd bet the house that this isn't the room you want." Luckily for the dude, he listened. 30 minutes after this (which means 25 minutes after the scheduled start time for the test), another dude came waltzing in. He was twirling his pencil, complacent as can be, searching for an empty seat. One of the grad students helping to proctor the test tried to tell him this was a Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences class (that made no sense to him) until the prof/adviser came up and repeated that this was not where the guy wanted to be. His face turned bright red. Go figure.

Now, I'm not trying to bash on anyone, but how can you go so long without knowing where your class is? What time the final is? Did you even attend the first day of class? The second? What kind of grade do you expect to get from doing nothing all semester? Do you not know anyone in the class? Did you not know that there's a website that maintains records of all the classes you're enrolled in and where and when they meet?

Did you ever find your correct classroom?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Everyone has their own definition as to when summer starts. For some people, it's the beginning of June. For some, it's the summer solstice (which really doesn't make that much sense, but whatever). For many, it's when school gets out.

For my brother, summer has two starting points. The first is when there has been enough direct sunlight during the day to make the lake warm/swimmable. For him, this is summer.

My brother's other point for the start of summer is when the snakes come back out. Especially the black and white king snakes. He found a huge one last summer that he named Scourge. Well, I've seen two king snakes already, but apparently neither of them is big enough to be Scourge. The important point is that they're not rattlesnakes, and yet that the weather is warm enough for snakes.

I have two more finals before this semester is over. It's crazy. One of my finals today was in my Philosophy class (Social Ethics). We had to write two essays in class. I took nearly the whole two hours. I finished seven hours ago. My hand still hurts.

In other news, remember the trees I talked about two posts back? If not, you can go back and look. Well, they were supposed to be ornamental plums, but apparently they're not ornamental no more. They have fruit! I'm not sure how big they'll get this year, since no one has really fertilized them ... ever. At least not in the 7 years we've been here. Or has it been almost 8 years that we've been here now? Whatever the case, there are plums growing. They're just growing extremely slowly.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

You know those nights when you just can't sleep? I had one of those. Ran out of my preventative medication for my migraines, so I didn't sleep through the night. This morning I was tired and could feel a migraine coming on, so I grabbed ... a soda. Yes, I know you're not supposed to have soda in the morning. But I needed the caffeine, I hate coffee (in case you didn't know), and didn't have time to make tea. The best thing is, in the car I couldn't find my soda. Anywhere. I was almost to school (it's a 40 minute drive) before I found it. It was in my cupholder. Duh, you might think. What a novel place to put your soda. Well, it is for me. Furthermore, my cupholder sits in my arm rest. Really? Yeah, really. It's not one of those things that extends beyond the armrest, but it actually sits in the arm rest. I have an option of storing either audio tapes there, or one drink. Usually it holds loose coins and the gloves I keep in my car in case those Alpine mornings are super cold. My arm rest sits all the way back, too. Further back than my elbow is when driving. Which means that putting anything back there doesn't make much sense. No wonder I couldn't find the soda.

I'm used to taking naps, too, especially my nap after I get to school and before class starts. I pull a blanket and an extra sweater out of my back seat and enjoy 30 minutes more of shut-eye than I would get otherwise. I couldn't nap this morning. So instead I called my dad and had him look up the number for Travel Advising at Kaiser so that I could tell them all about myself in order for them to advise me on what immunizations I need before I go abroad this summer. I should expect to hear back from them in about two weeks. It's really hard for me to believe that I'm leaving in just less than 7 weeks. Two of those weeks are still school, and then I'll have a week I'm going to spend in Montana. Which means, my trip is almost here!

When my dad called me back with the number for Travel Advising, I was admiring my Legend of Zelda ringtone. Which reminded me that I still need to get that Rocky ringtone for whenever people from the dojo called me. Which means that I've been unable to get "Eye of the Tiger" out of my head for the last three hours. You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Last spring (after I got out of my spring semester, actually), I read a book called Captivating. One chapter spoke of how God longs to romance the soul of every human, and he sends gifts to us just as an admirer or significant other would. A bunch of roses. A sticky note on the fridge or the bathroom mirror. A peck on the cheek while making dinner. This month, I feel God has been sending me one of those same lovenotes.

There are these two trees that sit just outside my window, but there is a third one on of their kind on our property. They are beautiful trees, with stunning branch structure (I'm a nerd, I know). Their leaves are a dark purple, which is what first really attracted me to them. I don't know what to call the trees. Our gardener calls them ornamental plums. The tree trimmer called them oaks. Their blossoms remind me of sakura.

Now, with having recently redone my room, I tend to keep my blinds open more often than I did in times gone by. I'm proud of my room, what can I say? With the way weather is around here, it took until January/February for these trees to completely lose their leaves. But almost as soon as March started, their blooms arrived. Beautiful, tiny pink blossoms. The bees apparently like them, too, but that doesn't bother me. I can still look. And there are more blossoms every day. Some have started to fall, and they leave a dusting of pink petals on the grass. Tiny purple leaves grow in their wake. And when I look at those trees, I can hear God telling me that he made those trees bloom just for me. He sends those blossoms to me and causes their petals to drift so peacefully so that I can have a little message that reminds me that God loves me as a man loves his bride. And I know that nothing can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

What do you know? It's been a month since my last blog. Yes, I really have been keeping busy. What, knitting doesn't count? How about if I knit while reading my texts? I bet you don't know very many people who can truthfully say they can do that. Sometimes I can even watch tv while reading and knitting, and throw in the odd conversation. That's talent.

Speaking of talent, I exercised one of my least favorable talents today. When I'm behind a wheel, I call it experimental driving. I don't know what to call it when I'm walking around for an hour, trying to find the speech clinic that's associated with my school but not on campus proper. Yes folks, an hour. And with my pile o' books still in-arm, too. Because I had thought it wouldn't take much more than 15 minutes to get there. I walked across campus, down through the 6 flights of stairs in a parking structure, through an endlessly long parking lot, over a bridge that crossed a random stream-like valley, through another parking lot, and then around the 17,000 blocks that comprised the medical center/offices off of this street where the speech clinic should have been. 411 didn't even know where to find the place. I walked far enough that I actually found the next trolley stop. I seriously considered riding the trolley back to campus.

I still haven't signed up to do any observation hours at the clinic. I think I should get one hour already, just for trying.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

iSister Down for Repairs

I've had a couple of days recently when I've meant to blog, but just haven't gotten to it. The truth of the matter is that I get tired when it gets close to bedtime, and I don't always feel like blogging. But then there are times that I do feel the need to blog.

My brother drives me crazy, bless his pea pickin' heart. I know I'm not always the neatest person, and the gameroom and bathroom still haven't quite recovered from my room being redone (nor has my bedroom), but he's worse than me. His sax music is all over the floor. He can't books of his because they're in the laundry room, or just plain and simple in the laundry. When he last made an attempt to get his dirty clothes to the laundry, some items missed the basket, and they're still in the hall. Most recently, he asked me to recharge the iPod Shuffle tonight.

No biggie, right? Well, the clip on it had somehow gotten bent. In case you don't know how charging a Shuffle works, the charging port has a groove in it for the Shuffle to sit in. Inside the groove, though, is a block that stands up. Said block is designed to go between the body of the Shuffle and the clip. With a bent clip, the Shuffle doesn't fit in the groove and the block doesn't fit in the Shuffle. So what does dear sister do? She pulls out her pliers (she got very handy with them in redoing her room) and works the clip until it's flat enough to be shoved into its charging cradle while her brother takes a shower with the shower setting that's so loud it can be heard in all corners of the house. And does he care about the work she did? No. Does he say thanks? Only for the "State of the Union" address. And, of course, he claims he has know knowledge of how it got bent in the first place.

He should consider himself lucky that I didn't let our parents know that he'd nearly borked the iPod.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My List

In recent years, Country artist Toby Keith has started putting out a lot of trash. But I can remember when he still had good music coming out. One particular song he did is called "My List."

My List
Under an old brass paperweight is my list of things to do today
Go to the bank and the hardware store, put a new lock on the cellar door
I cross 'em off as I get 'em done but when the sun is set
There's still more than a few things left I haven't got to yet

Go for a walk, say a little prayer
Take a deep breath of mountain air
Put on my glove and play some catch
It's time that I make time for that
Wade the shore and cast a line
Look up a long lost friend of mine
Sit on the porch and give my girl a kiss
Start livin', that's the next thing on my list

The song of course goes on from there, but it gives the general idea of the sweet, simple power of the song.

Well, I spent my whole break redoing my room. I got to spend some time with friends, and I even had Tolkienfest. But there were some things that I'd wanted to do that I hadn't done. Last night, I emailed a friend I hadn't talked to in three years. Do you have any idea how good that felt? And she wrote back, too. Ecstatically, with all the energy and joy I remembered her being full of. It just overflows from her.

Another thing I've been wanting to do: I managed to sort and organize my room while redoing it. And I really, truly plan on keeping it neat and orderly now. After all, I have a room to be proud of.

It's funny what you find when you sort and organize. I found my copy of Purpose Driven Life. I read it my junior year of high school. Or rather, I theoretically read it. We were given an optionally mandatory assignment/opportunity (one of the most stupid ideas they had in my time at that school) to read it. I had originally wanted to read it, sure, but when we had to start writing odd journals on each chapter, I lost my vigor for the book. I seem to recall fudging my way through a few of those journals toward the end. Well, I plan on reading it on my own. As a matter of fact, I already started it. I also want to read Mere Christianity. Why not? My brother's copy is sitting on the game room floor. I'm sure he'll be willing to loan it to me, and it's high time I get that read, too.

So, if you don't mind, I'm going to take my cup of tea, sit down on my nice, clear windowseat, and read Day 4 of Purpose Driven Life.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

It doesn't ever feel real the night before classes start. Ever. But I've printed my syllabi for almost all of my classes (one of the classes isn't on Blackboard yet, which is very strange). I have a notebook that everything is in for now, but I'll probably need to get more. I have a feeling that we'll be getting a lot of papers/notes for each class, like usual. Wednesday will be a day that almost feels like vacation again, though. I've only got one class on that day. It's also useful that I found my parking permit. It's too easy to lose that silly thing, because it comes in the world's smallest envelope. Why should it be in a huge envelope, if the permit itself isn't huge? Grr.

I got everything back into my room today. Now, that doesn't mean that everything is back in its place in my room. It's just back. I have some things on the floor, a stack of stuff at the desk area, boxes that are holding things I'm not sure I wanna keep, and a box that's holding old textbooks I'm definitely ready to get rid of but the bookstore wouldn't buy back from me. And first day is always fun, too, for all that extra time you have to sit around and ... work on assignments you don't have yet? I'll probably bring my Audiology text with me, since it's taught by the same prof who had the Hearing and Speech Sciences class last semester. It's probably the class that will be the least intuitive, once again. I'll be bringing some flash cards, too, so that I can start on making those flash cards right away.

On a plus side, it rained today. And there is supposed to be more rain this week, too.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Fun Never Ends

My room is finally, essentially done. Fancy that. I sanded, primed, and painted my door today, and that was the end of that. I'm in the process of moving everything back in. It's like Christmas all over again: I have boxes worth of stuff everywhere. Most of my books are back on my shelves, closet has been whole for a week or so, and the floor has even been vacuumed!

I still need to finish refilling my drawers, even though most of my clothes of all varieties are back in my room by now. I just dread facing the boxes that have all that miscellaneous stuff in them that I should probably still sort through. That's for tomorrow. I figure, if I find things that I'm not sure I want to let back into my beautiful, pristine room, then they probably should be tossed. But I don't necessarily want to toss all those random papers that aren't really important, but I'm pretty sure I'll want again some day. Such are the woes of a pack rat raised by pack rats.

I still have two more mini-projects for my room, but those will have to wait until later. I plan on putting a dress on my desk chair, because orange doesn't fit with the color scheme, and I want to make a folding screen/room divider to go in front of my closet, because I hate those ugly, clunky, permanently spotted (dunno how) mirrored closet doors. People seem to have mixed emotions, at best, at the idea for my screen. Oh well. I'm sure people will see my brilliance once it's all done.

One other bit of brilliance I had in putting my room together was to make sure I had a shelf where I could put my texts for this semester. Yes, classes start up again on Tuesday. It makes my parents giddy to think that I won't be storing my texts on the chair in the front hall (theoretically). Of course, that doesn't mean that my purse, jacket, shoes, and karate bag shouldn't be kept out there for quick and easy access.

I have been given a mandate to get everything back into my room tomorrow, or be ready to toss or donate it. Out of 15 possible drawers, I now have 6 filled. We'll see what happens tomorrow. It'd be so much easier working in my room if the cd player on my brand-new boombox hadn't stopped working. I should write Mom a note about whether or not she has a CD player cleaner in her car, so that she can tell me before she leaves for work tomorrow at o'dark thirty.

My room last night, before the gradual process of its accessorization. Yes, I know that having the ceiling light on makes the room look funky. However, it's superior to having no light and having the picture be just of a blackish room, the way things normally look at night, without light.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Guess Again

Ha! Betchya didn't think I was going to blog again this week, did you? Well, I fooled you. Of course, there probably isn't anyone reading right now, since I hadn't blogged in about a month.

I was able to turn in my papers for my passport today. I'm planning on doing a study abroad in the Czech Republic this summer. Note: it's the Czech Republic, not the "Check" Republic. In any case, I should get my passport in the mail in 4-6 weeks.

Clearing all my stuff out of my room ... again. I plan on painting the walls tomorrow, maybe even painting some of the shelf-like stuff in my closet so that I can get that reassembled, too.

Not much is really new around here. The dogs got new beds a bit before Christmas, and Eddy has already put a hole through the cover of his, which definitely isn't new. Dad tried giving the dogs some old, hard leather gloves as chew toys the other day and they ended up as Eddy's afternoon snack, instead. Also not very new, even though the dogs haven't gotten gloves before.

Thinking of dogs, Mom got me a puzzle for Christmas. It's Dalmatians. Just Dalmatians. On both sides of the puzzle. And cut so that you can't feel which side is up and which is down. Should be interesting.

Yes, I am blabbering by this point. I'm already thinking of the hours spent in my room inhaling paint fumes.

Monday, January 7, 2008

New Year, New Blog

Yes, I know it's almost a week into the new year, but it's still the first week of the year, so I can still call it new year. It's still new year this whole month, but it doesn't always feel like that because of the birthdays that come up in the middle of the month. Some general observations from the holidays and the few days following:

* Ask Grandma for white socks for Christmas, and she'll give them to you (I needed them), but she'll still give you the bathrobe you said you didn't need.
* Only my brother would take his Bible and a notepad to go see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit.
* If you're not sure you'll have a project done by Christmas, you're vastly overestimating yourself.
* Never, ever leave painter's tape up for more than a day, especially if you just recently plastered, primed, and painted your ceiling.
* Sugar plums really are made with plum, and an assortment of other fruits. They're not terrible, but they're not chocolate truffles, either. I won't be sleeping with visions of sugar plums in my head next year.
* Clara's Godfather Drosselmeier really is an odd one.
* Make sure you locate the movies you want to watch on New Year's Eve before New Year's Eve, but when in doubt know that numerous rounds of Uno will pass the time very quickly.
* When given the option, do not allow your bedroom to be undergoing construction during Christmas. It makes for general inability to find anything.\
* Scraping popcorn is very messy. Applying plaster is very messy.
* Sugar cookies are too bland for my dad's taste, but he'll eat them anyways given that there are no chocolate chip cookies in the house.
* Subway will probably close early on New Year's Eve.