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Archive for October, 2008

Back off, man. I'm a scientist.

Happy Halloween!  

I missed you all dearly and will be returning to regular posting tomorrow as promised.  In the meantime, please enjoy a short clip from one of my favorite movies.  I saw it for the first time during its original run in the theater nearly 25 years ago and it’s still as hilarious today as it was then. 

Stay safe and don’t eat too much candy.  

Eh, who am I kidding?  Sugar yourselves silly.

 

 

 

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Stick a fork in me

Back in August when my class started we were fifteen people. That first night we all signed up in groups of three to present a literary theory to the class. Three people have dropped since then and they all happen to be folks I’d signed up to present with. Tonight we finally concluded the presentations with me fumbling my way through deconstructive theory. Since I was all that remained of that group, my professor took on part of the presentation herself, which was a relief for me.

I feel even more relief now that the presentations are done. While I feel tempted to catch up on a few episodes of “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” I have TiVo’d, I think I’m actually going to get started on the rough draft of my paper. I never write rough drafts. I’m usually the one who starts writing the paper the night before (or several hours before) it’s due. This will be a first for me, but I really need to start forming some better study habits. If I can do well on this paper, I can do well in the rest of the program. Of course the converse is also true…

In the interest of time management, I’m going to take a break from blogging for the rest of the month. My goal is to get that rough draft done within the next couple of weeks. I hope to be back on November 1st with twenty pages under my belt and a Halloween recap (with pictures!) to kick off National Blog Posting Month.

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Little green plastic men

 

I may have mentioned before that my dad takes a trip out west every year by himself.  He and my mother learned a long time ago that they do not travel well together because my dad’s itinerary allows for zero spontaneity.  This year his itinerary included many stops in the southwest including, you guessed it, Roswell, New Mexico.

My dad rarely brings back souvenirs from these trips.  In fact, I remember one year I asked him to send me some postcards from the road and he asked me for money to pay for the postcards and the postage.  He has a special place in his heart for his granddaughter, though, and brought back this water bottle and a Route 66 flag for her to hang on her wall.

Nathan, being the geek that he is, was very disappointed at hearing the bottle was for Autumn.  He really wanted to bring it with him to work where it would no doubt be coveted by the geeks in his office.

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Years ago-many, many years ago when I was around a year and a half old-I was out in the back yard with my dad and some students of his.  They were doing yard work because I guess back in the seventies it was okay for teachers to have students over and put them to work, willingly of course.  Today teachers don’t even dare suggest that kind of thing to their students lest they want a whole heap of trouble from the parents and the school board.

Anyway, there we were just hanging out in the yard.  I was supervising the whole operation because that’s what eighteen month-olds do best.  That and get into trouble, which is what happened after I got bored with making sure all the yard clippings were picked up.  Now I have no recollection of this incident at all, but legend has it that at some point I found myself a nice piece of dog poop and put it in my mouth.

Now I must apologize for not warning you that this was going to turn into such an unappetizing story, but there you have it.  I ate poop.  I ate it about 35 years ago, but I ate it nonetheless and this tale has gone down in the annals of our family’s oral history along with my uncle trying to run my mom down with a push mower and Max Colley smashing into the front of my grandparents’ house with his car. 

So let’s fast-forward some 35 years to last Saturday.  The three of us has just come home from Costco, and as we pulled into the driveway Autumn spied the neighbor boys playing in their yard next door.  

“There’s Luke and Efan (Ethan),” she said and pulled out her big wheel as soon as she was out of the car.  She doesn’t quite know how to pedal yet so she scooted herself over to their house across the yard, leaving a trail of tramped grass behind her.

I really wanted to go inside but I wasn’t comfortable leaving Autumn “alone” amongst a gaggle of kids playing hide and seek.  She wasn’t really interested in playing with them anyway.  All she seemed to be interested in was scooting around our neighbor’s yard.

Looking back, I’m really glad I didn’t go in for even a minute because what happened next required my immediate attention.

First I saw one of the kids stop and stare at Autumn.  She was sitting on her big wheel and holding something in her hand.  Another kid said, “Oh, no way, that isn’t..?”

And then I heard it.  “It’s POOP!” he exclaimed.  “She picked up the poop!”

I raced over there (well, maybe not raced-quickly hobbled) and pulled Autumn off the big wheel.  She had dropped the poop already, but I picked up the big wheel and hauled her back over to our house.  “No! No!” she cried, “I want to play with Luke and Efan!”

“No, we’re going inside.  You picked up the doggie’s poop and we have to wash your hands.”  I quickly stowed the big wheel in the garage and ushered her upstairs, practically shrieking, “Don’t touch anything and don’t touch your face!”

After a healthy scrubbing, I dried her hands and told her very calmly that we’re to never, ever pick up the poop.  I think she’s old enough to know better, but for some reason there was something enticing about that poop on that day.

I’m sure at some point she’s going to hear the story of my poop encounter.  It will probably be from my mom or my dad and she’ll wrinkle her nose and look at me in disgust.  “Yuck, mommy,” she’ll say, “you ate poop?  That’s gross.”

I’ll just look at her and say, “Oh yeah, kiddo?  Well let me tell you another story…”

By that time I’m pretty sure I’ll have more to tell than just this one.

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Today I had a conference with the professor of the class I’m taking to go over a short paper I wrote on Hamlet.  She pointed out the good and the bad and we eventually found ourselves talking about career plans.  I hadn’t really expected the conversation to go this way but it did.  She knows I work at the university and was actually one who interviewed me for a secretary position in the English department a few years ago.

She asked me a bit about the job I do now, and after my brief description she said, “That’s all sort of technical work, right?”

I replied that it was.

“But you need something more intellectual.”  This wasn’t so much a question as it was a statement.  She pointed to my paper.  “That’s why you’re doing this?”

I nodded.  I could feel tears welling up as I continued to tell her about my thirteen applications to thirteen different departments in the university and how I’m still working in the same office after seven years.

I told her how I’ve come to rationalize the rejections by believing that whatever higher power is out there is guiding me towards something more than a secretary position in an academic office.  

“I believe that higher power comes from within us, too,” she said.  “It might be too soon to tell, but I think this might be a good fit for you.”

I haven’t felt this kind of validation in a long, long time.  The rejections have been bad.  So much so that I haven’t filled out an application for another job in at least fifteen months.  For a long time I felt like a failure.  There obviously had to be something severely lacking in my skills or personality for me to be rejected thirteen times.  

There have been some odd sort of parallels between my work life and my personal life this past year.  Rejection hasn’t been limited to the office, but I now see where it all is leading and it makes more sense now.  I was really hoping I’d be able to get to this place, to make sense of all the shit that has happened since Nathan’s mom died.  That’s when life changed for us all.

While I wouldn’t wish to repeat the past eighteen months, I’m very glad to be able to look back on them with a new sense of clarity.  I’m also very happy to be able to wipe the fog off my glasses as I look towards the future.

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Cawfee Tawk: The "Heroes" edition

I’m going to take a break from the regularly scheduled narcissism today and talk about TV.  If you’ve been following this blog for awhile you know I love me some TV, but now that I’m in grad school I’ve had to cut back.  By cutting back I mean I’m letting my TiVo do all the watching for me in the hopes of one day catching up with it all.

One show I refuse to miss each week is “Heroes.”  I love shows with deep, infuriatingly mysterious mythologies that ultimately pose more questions than they answer each week.  It’s geek crack, I’m telling you, and I’ve been a fan from the very beginning.

If you follow “Heroes” but didnt watch last night’s episode, stop right here because I will be mulling over certain plot points (i.e. dishing out SPOILERS).  If you don’t watch the show, well..I’ll see you later when I have more embarrassing stories about my kid (and I actually do have a good one I’ll be sharing later this week).

So, without further adieu, let’s discuss:

Peter

His time traveling and obsessive need to save the world is getting out of control.  He keeps telling people he can go back and “fix things” but all he’s doing is making things worse.  As future Peter put it, “I’ve stepped on too many butterflies.”  I’m starting to think future Claire is right in wanting to wipe out any version of her uncle she comes across.  And now Peter has Sylar’s power and the “hunger” that accompanies it.

Sylar

Who knew the series’ most heartless killer could turn into such a loving paternal figure?  I’m really impressed with how the writers are making Sylar out to be a more sympathetic character.  I didn’t think that was possible considering how we’ve seen him brutally slaughter at least a dozen or more people in order to take their abilities.  The confrontation in the Bennet house was horrible, with Sylar’s little son Noah paying the ultimate price for his father’s crimes.  That right there is turning out the be one of the main themes of this show; the sins of the father (and mother) afflicting several generations.

Mohinder

The future’s not so bright for our erstwhile geneticist. He’s skulking around his lab like Quasimodo, wearing hoodies and keeping to the shadows.  Like Sylar, his hunger for an ability led him to making some bad choices (like sleeping with Maya) and he’s now horribly deformed, the nature of which we haven’t seen…yet.  While Mohinder started out being the little ray of hope that our heroes would get some answers as to the how and why of their abilities, he’s somehow gotten himself into a bit of a moral and physiological pickle.  And he annoys me.  I’m sorry, but he’s become one of my least favorite characters in this show along with Maya.  Speaking of which, when did her English become so polished?

Hiro and Ando

Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The antagonism between these two is escalating thanks to Hiro’s brief trip to the future.  Witnessing your best friend kill you is bound to mess with your head, but Hiro needs to lighten up and realize he saw a possible future and not a definite one.  Ando has been nothing but supportive and loyal (if not a tad bit opportunistic) throughout their adventures.  And it looks like they’re in for more fun now that they’ve dug up the immortal Adam.

Tracy and Nathan

So we learned that Tracy is one of a set of triplets separated at birth and “given” their abilities through some questionable genetic engineering.  Hmmm.  This opens up a whole new can of worms as it seems not all our heroes acquired their talents naturally.  When you think about it, a few of our main characters have parents with ties to The Company; Parkman, Nathan, Peter, Sylar and Claire.  Could it be they were all test tube subjects?

And if you’re keeping track, Nikki and Tracy have another sister out there we have yet to meet; Barbara.  I wonder what her power is.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that she’s a real badass.  Nikki was too conflicted, Tracy is too sweet, so we need a sister who is purely evil.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  At least we know Ali Larter has steady employment for awhile.

And then there’s Nathan.  Poor, converted Nathan who wants to be an angel yet keeps receiving visits from the devil.  What is up with these ghostly visits from Linderman?  Is there another evil lurking in the wings and implanting these visions in Nathan’s mind?  That’s entirely possible, and it looks as though whomever is pulling the strings really wants Nathan in the oval office…again.  Speaking of which…

Angela Petrelli

“Someone is maniplulating us,” she says to Hiro.  Yeah, that someone would you, grandma.  She’s cunning, she’s wicked and she loves being in control.  The way she “fed” Sylar that young woman’s ability in last week’s episode was chilling. I have no idea what her agenda is, but she is turning out to be one of my favorite characters.

Parkman

After ingesting the wacky paste, Parkman sees his future in 3-D instead of painted on rocks.  He’s married to speedster Daphne, has a child with her and has apparently adopted Molly.  I’m always interested in seeing where Parkman is going because we’ve already seen what he can become.  His ability to read and manipulate minds sometimes lands him in a morally gray area, though we didn’t see him use his power much at all last night.  Instead, he wound up holding a dying Daphne who wasn’t quite fast enough to escape Sylar’s nuclear blast in Costa Verde.

Claire

Something very bad has happened to her in the future.  Something worse than Sylar cutting off the top of her head, you ask?  Well, I guess we’ll have to see.  She’s not happy, that’s for sure.  And she seems to be hanging with the wrong crowd.  She has bad guy Knox, who feeds on fear, in her posse and that can’t be good.  So is she a hero or a villain in the future?  Only time will tell.

Questions and observations

Now that we know Tracy and Nikki were sisters separated at birth, who is their real mother?  Lord, let it NOT be Angela Petrelli.  That would be too icky considering Tracy winds up being Nathan’s first lady in the future.

Do these people not expand their real estate options?  Sylar is living in the Bennet house (with Mr. Muggles, no less), Mohinder keeps Isaac Mendez’s old studio as his lab and Matt and Molly are still living in Mohinder’s apartment.  Apparently the housing market sucks in the “Heroes” world as well.

Is anyone else having trouble keeping track of what abilities Peter and Sylar have?  When Sylar went nuclear and obliterated Costa Verde, it took me a minute to remember he stole that ability when he killed nuclear Ted back in season one.  And when I saw Peter’s flaming hands before entering the Bennet house, I had forgotten he had aquired that ability from one of the escapees from The Company just last week.

Sylar’s son was named Noah.  It would seem his partnership with Noah Bennet was a positive one, though I can’t imagine Claire will be too happy to find out her dad has paired up with the guy who lopped off the top of her head and dug into her brain like it was a plate of Pad Thai.

Speaking of Syler’s son, let’s have no more children dying on this show.  That scene was too disturbing, though I realize they had to do something catastrophic for Sylar to lose control.  Please, only mutilate and kill those of drinking age or older.  We parents just can’t handle seeing our young ‘uns suffer.

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With honors

One of the things I really enjoy about being a grad student is that I’m finally studying what I want to study.  I’ve earned my bachelor’s degree and am no longer saddled with all those pesky general education requirements meant to give me a well-rounded liberal arts education.  In my case all the gen eds did was weigh down my GPA.  During my eleven years (yes eleven) as an off again/on again undergraduate student, I made the Dean’s list once.  It happened during my final full-time semester before I graduated when I was taking nothing but English and writing classes.  To me, this was evidence enough that all those gen eds were the intellectual equivalent of filling my plate with rice at the Chinese buffet; they were just filler that kept me from digesting the really good stuff.

Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when I opened up the mailbox last week and found an invitation to join the local chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the English department’s honor society.  Honor society?  Me?  Naw!

But there it was, a flattering letter that praised me for my academic achievement and invited me to join the ranks of the top 34% of English students at the university.  Me?  Honor society?  Come on…

I used to make the honor roll regularly in junior high and high school.  My grandpa gave me five dollars every semester it happened and when I made the Dean’s list that final year as an undergrad he awarded me with one hundred dollars.  “That’s a big deal,” he said.  “The honor roll was great, but this is even greater.”

I’m trying to think of my grandpa as I decide whether or not to fork over the $37 required to join.  He would be very proud of this.  Sigma Tau Delta.  It all sounds very Greek and I am so not a Greek kind of girl.  I’m not really a girl, actually.  I’m a woman who did her work and got decent enough grades in a couple of classes so far.

Sigma Tau Delta.  It stands for “Sincerity. Truth. Design.”  As I perused their website the other day I realized something else…

Sigma Tau Delta.

S.T.D.

Oy vey.  It all makes sense now.

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