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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

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i love the snow! love it love it love it love it! ice, however, i'm not so crazy about. neither is trixie, and she's got a big dent to prove it.

see you next year, everyone! *blows kisses*

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

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getting ready for the coast trip tomorrow: i have watered the tree, worked out lists of things to pack, deposited a check in the mail, written out my resolutions, and know what i'm going to do w/ my 15 minutes (read my favorite poem).

i also finally called toyota to make trixie's last two payments, but they don't accept credit cards. :( so i got transfered to another department which did payment options: they moved my november & december payments to the end of the term, which means the only payment i have to make next is the january one (sort of like forbearance, and like forebearance, it tacks that extra time to my contract and accrues interest). i'm really all weird about living this way. january is looking good, but february is a big void again.

what i still need to do: shower, work on the holiday CarD, the yl site, actually pack, visit seeger's cats one last time, go to pix to see "the muppets take manhatten," a load of laundry, food shopping (since i'm helping with the first meal tomorrow), and poem-printing.

maggie from psu had said she would need me to do some testing on the webct server tonight & tomorrow morning since they just did a big migration, but i haven't heard from her, so i suspect that's not happening. darn. the only work i have due for her at this point is an analysis due jan. 12.

i went to see rob on sunday and when i left it -snowed-! big fat eye-sized flakes! driving home was like driving through colorado, and it took me, like, four hours to crawl home. it was gorgeous! and it's lasting, too! michael says it might even snow more. :D

Sunday, December 28, 2003

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the nytimes has a list of the most under and overrated ideas of 2003. my favorite underrated idea, i think, is this one (and not just because it's about itunes!):
Curatorial Culture

In all the hype over Apple Computer's online music store, one fascinating new feature included in the latest version was strangely overlooked: the celebrity playlist. The digital age version of the venerable mix tape, playlists have been a central selling point of the MP3 music revolution, since creating a brand-new mix of your favorite tunes is now as easy as dragging files into a folder on your desktop. Apple's new Celebrity Playlist area in its store features collections of music assembled — with liner notes — by famous musicians: Sting, Ben Folds, Wynton Marsalis and many others.

What's potentially revolutionary here is the ability to buy a compilation of music handpicked by another individual, as opposed to the official compilations released by record labels. No doubt Apple will soon offer a feature that enables ordinary music fans to create public playlists engineered around every imaginable theme (the post-breakup collection, the happy Nick Drake songs, the underappreciated recordings of Miles Davis) and then sell those compilations via the online store. Historically, the world of commercial music has been divided between musicians and listeners, but there's long been a mostly unrewarded group in the middle: people with great taste in music — the ones who made that brilliant mix for you in college that you're still listening to. They're curators not creators, brilliant at assembling new combinations of songs rather than generating them from scratch.

Steven Johnson, author of the forthcoming "Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life."
i noticed this when it first came out but didn't comment on it, though if i had, it might have been similar to the above. process/documentation & curation are some of my favorite things in art.

speaking of itunes, i can't find the lyrics to david byrne's "great western road," which i've developed a fondness for. when do you think you'll be able to search for the lyrics of a song in itunes? (*sighs* not that itunes carries that song, either. they've carried hardly anything i've wanted. and i love them anyway.)

the only ones i've been able to gather so far:
"The man sticks his fingers inside of his mouth / The words are stuck in there, he fishes them out / Whispers and mumbles, statements and verse / Curses and love songs for nobody else / Man takes his pencil and puts down his thoughts"
"How they dance -- in a trance / where the river bends / here we go -- don't cha know / that it never ends / some who ride, some who slide / everyone you know / travels on -- that great western road."

and speaking of music, sven came over and alphabetized the big cd mess in front of the bookshelves. yee! it was like sven's xmas gift to michael. :)


Saturday, December 27, 2003

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what a lovely holiday. much preparing, eating, and singing of scary solstice songs. rob had another place to hang out (a "real new mexican christmas" w/ tamales and all), and michael was in seattle, so it was just me & sven, but i feel like i had one of the best christmases ever.

i mention this because i remember how i felt at this time last year: desperate, hopeless and insular. i felt like i had no options and that there was no way for me to do any good at csusm. i remember wishing on a star while driving back to california from colorado, and it turns out that wish came true, in ways i couldn't have possibly forseen.

tomorrow i'm off to corvallis to see rob. wednesday (!) i go to the coast for four days to celebrate the new year (i need to think of something to teach in 15 minutes!). i just can't even believe how fast time is flying. happy, happy, happy holidays. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

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advent calendar, day 24: "say hello to santa."

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

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advent calendar, day 23: "count the hours till christmas." (26!)

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i can't believe i forgot to talk about the shanghai tunnels on saturday!

*expectant pause*

Monday, December 22, 2003

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advent calendar, day 22: "make your world beautiful."

it's the shortest day of the year. it's hard for me to believe the days have been getting darker because it feels like i haven't really noticed. i think i expected this to be the hardest part about moving here, the rain and the dark. but i've been here about 6 months, and nothing has happened the way i expected. so now that the days will start to lengthen, can life get any better? (well, yes, more money and maybe more sleep, but really, i can't complain. it's a metaphor, people, work with me! ;)

since it's the solstice, you can thank the powell's newsletter for this bit:
The solstice sun lurks over the horizon like an overburdened balloon, drifting sideways in the wind. Will the shade not lift from our dark lawn all day? It seems less likely all the time; a bit desperately, perhaps, several proactive members of the newsletter audience have climbed into the high, bright branches of bordering maples to catch what light they can.
after finishing a calligraphic piece (sven's xmas present for his parents), i went to bed around 5 a.m. and michael began to wake me up at 6:30 so i could take him to the train station. he'll be gone till saturday night. guh. my brain is barely functioning.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

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advent calendar, day 20: "close your eyes and make a wish." (and i did!)
advent calendar, day 21: "take time out for simple pleasures."

i was up till 7 a.m. & slept till 11:30 or so. went to greta's party & had a good time! tomorrow morning i take michael to the train station; he'll be gone till saturday. talked to rob, who still doesn't know if he'll be coming up here for xmas.

Friday, December 19, 2003

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why didn't i know there was a meteor shower that peaks on the winter solstice? the ursids are apparently not that spectacular, but they seem pretty symbolic. this year they'll peak sunday between 9 p.m. and midnight (thanks to the difference between universal time & pacific time).

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advent calendar, day 19: "relax w/ someone you love." well, that won't be happening.

today i signed a piece of paper so oregon health providers will recognize me as michael's domestic partner. we ought to have a party of something. :) and not a moment too soon! i have this weird bloom of spots along my hips. it's like i'm turning into a leopard. and that whole "hey, my legs are numb!" thing i've had since early october. which reminds me, i got the bill from urgent care for my uti: $200! yikes! and the worst part is it didn't even work; i still ended up having to go to planned parenthood. bah.

i just posted two lamps to freecyle and i swear i got a response even before i saw the post appear in my inbox. now i have 10.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

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advent calendar, day 18: "help make somebody's wish come true."

i'm amazed at the response for "when a body meets a body!" margaret barber came through, of course, and how...!
OK, first the source. Go to to see Robert Burns' words and hear the melody [this is the same link mark sent]. It's about a girl named Jenny whose clothes are all wet. Why? Because she has been foolin' around in a field of tall rye grass with some laddie.

It helps to have heard other Scottish songs about people who fondly remember their youthful days of making out in the fields of rye, corn, barley, etc. One can extrapolate a socio-history of rye fields just from the songs. These crops grow tall, and they're at their tallest in late summer, when the nights are warm, the stars are out, hormones are rambunctious, and the moon is shedding soft light upon the world. These crops are planted in "rigs" or rows, which are usually raised slightly, making a nice surface to lean back against, --hence the songs about the "rigs o' rye," or rejoicing that "corn rigs are bonny-o" (also by Burns, attesting to his agricultural roots and multi-faceted experience of physical proximity to the fertile earth). The rigs also provide pathways for people to take across the fields of rye, corn, etc. Any number of people can meet and remain hidden in one field of rye, for there are many rigs in each--as long as they're not standing up, depending on how far into summer it is when they are meeting. The earlier in the season, the lower they must get.

Privacy wouldn't have been readily available elsewhere, is my guess -- which is why 95% of Scottish marriages took place between August and December for centuries, the babies being born the following February thru June (i.e., 9 months after the rye grass season from May-Sept.) (ok, I made that up)

Anyway, Jennie met someone, got her petticoat wet because it rains a lot in Scotland in the summer, and it seems to be a habit with her ("Jenny's seldom dry"), so she's getting teased about it in verse 1. Verses 2-4 are her defense ("what's wrong with kissing someone, need the world know?"). In verse 5 we find that Jennie is a loose woman. She has no steady beau but finds the laddies friendly whenever she just happens to be passing through a field of rye. Clearly, her defense of kissing a body in the rye is designed to hide the facts, which those who tease her in verse 1 have figured out: she's doing more than kissing, and they're proably chuckling at her when she says "Can't a person kiss another person . . .?", thinking she means "body" more literally and generally. Given Burns's authorship, I suspect the song was much funnier to its original audience than most give it credit for today.

I always hoped that if I listened to enough Scottish folk songs, some day I would be able to solve one of the world's great mysteries. You have made my day!

Feel free to copy this into your blog if you want to. I love it when people want to know all about Robert Burns.
cha! is it any wonder she's the best person to go to england with ever? margaret is one of the most resilient, energetic, kind, and intelligent people i know. (why doesn't she keep a blog? ;)

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this would have been funny if it weren't so annoying: "The AIM service could not send the message. You have sent too much data too quickly. Please wait a little while before sending more." over and over and over again. thanks, aim! i eventually had to log out & then log back in. *growls*

and as long as i'm feeling grumpy about ichat, why the heck can't i see more aim users when i'm using the account? i hate splitting myself into two screen names. *sulks*

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somebody pleeeaaaasssseee explain this quote to me: ""when a body meets a body coming through the rye." it's been going through my head for a week now: i know it's from catcher in the rye and a reference to a robert burns poem. but what does it mean?

[update: mark also remembers the burns poem; dan was hoping it would have something to do with the hallucinogenic rye fungus (ergot) that's often blamed for the salem witch hysteria, but offers a discussion about the metaphorical & literal meaning; chas thinks it has to do with crossing a ford, but thinks i should check w/ margaret barber. wow, thanks, all!]

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

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hey, i found all the things i was looking for exactly where they should be! how often does that happen? :D the little tree is now decorated with cinnamon candies, golden hershey's kisses, opalescent bows, and a skiing snowman. cuter than it sounds, i swear.

and i do so love leeann's christmas card.

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went to fred meyer tonight and witnessed the cashier have a minor meltdown. when i said it was okay, he said, "no it's not!" and when he apologized, i said, "nobody's dead; that's all i care about," which he followed with, "you'd be surprised." that's the kind of thing which can be wildly misinterpreted, especially if there are police involved later. :)

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advent calendar, day 17: "stop & play a while."

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so. return of the king. *expectant pause* *whistles innocently*

not bad, all in all. if you're into this sort of thing, it will make you weep (i love it when michael gets all teary!), or it will cause you to make incessently loud comments throughout the movie (much less fond of that: it made me fear any quiet moments because people felt compelled to fill them with their own voices. sometimes that's okay when watching alone with friends, but not. in. a. movie. theatre!).

other quick notes: gandalf kicks some serious ass in this movie! :D after two movies where i was ambivalent at best about pippin, i really grew to like him here (still meh about merry). the first shelob scene left me surprisingly non-plussed, but the second shelob scene made me "eep!" and squirm. one scene is entirely stolen from the empire strikes back, but with giant elephants instead of AT-ATs. from the audience there were costumes, there was cheering, there was excitable clapping and squeals of delight from a woman who was very happy to see arwen & aragorn together at the end.

philip: no, there's no intermission. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

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status: course record 265/265 (100% done!). i still need to send it to maggie w/ general exposition, and i hope i'll be coherent enough tomorrow to attempt even a little analysis, as that bumps my pay rate up another $10/hour. :) i have no idea what she wants me to do next.

now i have to get ready for return of the king! michael & bryan have been in line since 4 p.m., bless them! i will bring them cookies & candy canes. :)

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hey, look! we now have a tiny tree! its name is too long to pronounce in entish, sven says, but i call it "joe" for short. thanks, sven! :D

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whoo! another trawl through all the boxes sven so clevery managed to stash in the art room half bath: i unpacked three more boxes of stuff, dragged out (but not yet unpacked) what i believe are finally all of my calligraphy supplies, and two boxes of my mostest favoritest books (edward gorey, stardust & other graphic novels, the first book i ever remember, the "his dark materials" series, and the magic pudding, which, if i see mph relatively soon, i'll loan him: it is hands down the strangest children's book i have ever read).

boy, that was a long sentence. :) got a good go on my xmas gifts besides the cds, too.

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productive so far today (bedding & waking later than i wanted, but as sven says, it's good practice for attending the midnight showing of return of the king tonight!). put some money toward bills, got some letters written & things photocopied, contacted progressive (i paid them last month but no confirmation). now i actually have to go send stuff, and feed seeger's cats.

last night i missed watching repo man w/ alex, philip, michael & john. :( i think i'm the only person who could enjoy this psu project, but even i think it's a little numbing. i'm hoping to get some analysis done before i bill them, which should hopefully be more interesting. still, it's nice to verify that the courses here are awfully similar to the courses we used to generate at csusm (especially since i think our process & data collection were better, so we were ahead of the game on some things).

advent calendar, day 16: "enjoy each special moment."

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status: course record 244/265 (92% done!). good morning & good night.

Monday, December 15, 2003

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status: course record 230/265 (87% done!).

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advent calendar, day 15: "see the beauty all around you."

christmas cards are now arriving: thanks, dad, janis & virginia! i bought cds, so things are coming along on my end, but there's a reason they're called "holiday cards" instead of christmas cards: anything before the end of the first week of january is a success. ;)

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status: course record 205/267 (minus a few that need admin accounts and ones which crash safari). 78% done!

Sunday, December 14, 2003

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tonight i went to the belfry to see their masks. oh, what terrific burning man masks some of them would make!

advent calendar, day 14: "have fun with someone special." (and i did! :D)

Saturday, December 13, 2003

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status: course record 175/267 (more or less). (66% done!) now i'm off to leopoldo's to watch the two towers.

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after two other people vaporized, somebody on freecycle finally came through & picked up the boxes! hooray! and she had the most interesting story: she's an unemployed tech person who got a 30-day notice on the place she was renting because it had to be vacated for re-construction. she sent a post out to freecycle looking for a housesitting job and/or storage for her, her 10-year-old son, and her cat. in response, she got a message from an elderly gentleman running an international esl hostel in ne portland whose wife died. apparently without a "house mother" students can't be placed there, so in exchange for cooking and light housekeeping, she gets room & board. he even has a grandson the same age as her son and they get along pretty well. amazing, and a little freaky, how this all worked out.

btw, rob is moving today. wish him well.

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advent calendar, day 13: "have a cozy day."

something must have clicked somewhere, because suddenly xmas plans are of prime importance. it looks like i'm staying here, in part because of the extra work from psu and in part because one of michael's friends wants me to feed his gf's cat while they're away. so i'm hoping to get together with rob & sven, two other people hanging by themselves this holiday, to do something, even if it's just to watch a movie. i miss having a tree, though. even a tiny one.

part of this urge is also due to my father wanting to know if i want a breadmaker for xmas (though he gave me one a couple of years ago), and wanting some tips for michael. so i sent him a link to our wishlists, and it turns out most of the list i sent last year is still valid. but i wrote:
but this year i don't really -need-, or even really want, anything except a job, or money to keep the credit card people & toyota at bay a bit longer.

i suppose event-based things would be cool: season tickets to one of the theatres here (artist's rep or portland center stage), a year of flowers or fruit, a subscription to somerset studio, that sort of thing. gift certificates if you must, like to powell's.
personally, i'm hoping everyone is satisfied with the holiday CarD this year, because that's all i got. :)

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status: course record 165/267 (more or less). (62% done!) now i must. sleep.

Friday, December 12, 2003

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advent calendar, say 12: "enjoy a sweet surprise."

i'd like to go ice skating before xmas, or at least before the new year.

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status: course record 72/267, with a couple of courses which make safari crash. (27% done!)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

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btw, it looks like we're really going to get to so the shanghai tunnel tour dec. 20 (whee!). philip has really been an amazing cat herder, somehow managing to get 22 of us to agree to a time & actually pay him. for a bunch of gamers, this is unprecedented, i think. ;)

because psu thinks it wants me to work after the 17th, my xmas plans are still up in the air. i don't know if i'll be going w/ michael to visit his family or not.

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status: course record 72/298. there's a fair amount of redundancy and i'm collapsing the CRNs, so that last number is likely to go down another 20 or so.

gah. morning. or close enough. i sent maggie an email at 1 a.m. and she wrote back, "By the way staying up until 1:00am is certainly not expected. I know this is exciting work, but I hope it isn't causing you insomnia. :)" oh, she has no idea...

and boy, i want a haircut.

advent calendar, day 11: "relive a favorite memory."

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what am i thinking? why aren't i in bed? asleep! :P

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

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that last post was at 2:22! i've never had a time which popped up as often as this one has. it's been kind of freaky.

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advent calendar, day 10: "have a heavenly season."

(okay, i've been very good about this because i've always liked the concept & i'm thrilled with it as a shared gift and potential tradition. but "have a heavenly season"? gaaacccckkkkk..... :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

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rob reccommends "dirty pretty things." (w/ audrey tautou!)

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michael's picked pink floyd's "money" as my return-to-work song. :)

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yiiiikes! apparently i left a pen in the "mostly whites" load and marked up my tan burning man pants & a long-sleeved shirt. :( fortunately, at some point it bent at an alarming angle & retracted, so the damage was minimal.

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annnnnnnnd....... GO!

psu finally got back to me. go, go, go! but maybe laundry first before i get too crazy.

advent calendar, day 9, "fill the day with happy thoughts."

Monday, December 08, 2003

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advent calendar, day 8: "hug someone you love." (and i did! :D)

i thought i was all quizzed out, but michael found me the "which edward gorey book are you?" quiz, and it turns out i am the lavender leotard:


"you have been through quite a bit and although at times clumsy, you always handle yourself with grace."

(but michael is the gashlycrumb tinies, as are sven, philip & rob, damn them! leopoldo is the curious sofa. ooooo!).

still... no... word... from....psu............. arrrrggghhhhh......

Sunday, December 07, 2003

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boy, if i had any more money than i do now, i would have bought an awful lot of stuff at art storm, i think. *sighs* and if i had money, i'd give some to rob. and if i had money, i'd get some of that fantastic cranberry cinnamon goat cheese i tried at trader joe's. yowza. but i don't. so i didn't and haven't.

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advent calendar, day 7: "give the gift of kindness."

i woke up this morning and almost immediately began making soup. i have no idea why. but boy, am i glad i did! it's a quasi-mulligatawny and it's as good as my chicken tortilla soup. yum!

i wanted to work more in the art room, but i got distracted by some websites & a chat. i'm waiting to hear about a freecycle prospect, then getting dressed, then off to the art show. *knocks wood*

Saturday, December 06, 2003

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good domestic day: grocery shopping makes me feel better. the living room is a little better off, too. i even managed to do a little bit of rearranging & shuffling in the art room. but i was really just killing time before rob & i could get ahold of each other: he & mel have split up and he's looking for another place to stay in corvallis. unfortunately he had to "speak subtly" while he was still in the apartment, so i'll hear from him again tuesday night.

sven & i were supposed to go to art storm today (i was interested in seeing the works of the polaroid art users group), but that didn't work out, so i'll probably go tomorrow.

michael's taken to listening to albums on nenya because he's having such a hard time finding the cds which are all out of order.

grammar check! common errors in english.

oh, and it looks like i'll be going to the coast for new year's eve.

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"look at the moon," michael said as we left zupan's. it was low enough in the sky that it just skirted the skyline, and because it was still early enough and the sky was still blue, all the white christmas lights wrapped around the trees made it look as if the stars had fallen from the sky & clung to them. later, the moon was surrounded by a nimbus, and even later still, it was obscured entirely by clouds.

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i've been making my xmas lists for cards & gifts. 33 people on the holiday CarD list at this point, with 13 additional questionables. the gift list is fortunately shorter and i suspect nobody will be getting anything big this year.

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advent calendar, day 6: "share the joy of winter."

Friday, December 05, 2003

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advent calendar, day 3: "enjoy the colors of christmas."

advent calendar, day 4: "always be ready for fun."

advent calendar, day 5: "celebrate friendship."

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argh. though i've signed a contract at psu, still no word about when i'll be starting (and if it hasn't happened now, it won't happen till monday, at least, and maybe not till tuesday). oh, next week will be bushels of fun. i'm the kind of person who prefers to have a little time to ease into a project before i kick its ass.

at the end of a late october night, sven & i "liberated" five bags of leaves from the intersection of couch & 8th. two days ago we dumped them all on the living room floor & rolled in them. whoo hoo! (of course, now we must clean them up. much less fun.)

last night sven, michael & i had a lovely dinner and then sven & i suddenly had a very cinematic moment where i asked something like, "when -are- we meeting w/ the film group again? next thursday...?" and our eyes went wide and we gasped in horror at the same time. "damn it! tonight!" we scrambled out the door & to old town pizza, but everyone was gone. :(

michael stayed up late last night to see the primetime "lord of the rings" special, which could have been half as long without the commercials & the weird announcer dude. i burned my hand (twice! bah!) trying to make dessert. mostly okay now, though a bit that's still numb. michael's kitchen doesn't like my left hand for some reason.

i'm having an interesting reaction to the piecemeal possible legalization of gay marriages. i can't say i don't support them, but what i think i really want is for the government to stop placing limits on marriage at all. the interesting bit is i think a position like that sort of makes polygamy okay. i wouldn't have guessed i would have believed that 10 years ago.

google has a new way to look for definitions: use "define: [my term]". what you did before was to type the term, wait for the result, and then click on the hyperlinked word to go to for their results.

packetwarp dan is making changes on how i access packetwarp. merr. :( but he's also doing some upgrading and interesting changes.

still sadly behind on emails. philip: am planning on paying you for the shanghai tunnels tour (ee!) when michael sees you next week (and am sending sven's payment, as well). dan: got your message about possible dates, but haven't looked at my calendar to know which will work. alex: i can't deconstruct your cryptic friendster message. jalex: got your reply & i'm glad i said something; i'm awkward in social groups, too. mph: you rock; thanks for your telling everyone about the downtime at puddingbowl, among other things. doug: got your message; still have yet to read your first pprc entry though i want to, i want to! adra: whoah! hey, there! haven't read your message yet. carl: no, there were no explosions, alas.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

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advent calendar, day 2: "scatter seeds of thoughtfulness."

financial news: i just got a 12-month forebearance on my student loan (retroactive to july), so i'm done worrying about that till august. i didn't know you got 60 months' total forebearance on those for the life of the loan. i figured out what security service's $2 "DDA DEBIT" withdrawal was (a minimum balance fee, which i am below). now i'm attempting to determine whether & how i can extract money from my retirement accounts (pers, specifically, i presume, since it's got the least in it). [update 12.09.03: more info]

psu wants me to come in today to sign the contract & talk more about the project they want me to do by the end of this term (eep! dec. 17!). but the contract won't actually take effect for a couple of more days. i'm actually less worried about the money and more worried about the deadline: each day means that many more hours i have to compress when the contract finally takes affect.

Monday, December 01, 2003

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we went to leopoldo's to watch movies, so i got to watch tank girl for the first time! (my kinda movie, in a fun stylized sorta way.) we also saw two short films ("sidewalkers" and "clown car") and discussed the differences between film & dv. plus, sven got a chance to show us some of what he had edited for the "satisfaction" movie we shot sunday. sven & alex stayed for the hot tub while i opted to go home for an early night.

hey, sven gave me an advent calendar! i had been thinking of making some, but here it is december already, so i guess i didn't. today's instruction: "look forward to favorite traditions."

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eeeeee! elizabeth & her partner jill had their baby! welcome to the world, maya! i hope we see you soon!