Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: March, 2002

I remember the eggs.

The entire idea was so completely outlandish that it had a certain charm to it. Cupping your hands about a shiny round object was a revelation. The first Easter eggs I remember were the plastic kinds, the ones which dropped out of vending machines after you stuck twenty-five cents in. I collected those throughout the year and when Easter came, my Mom helped me decorate them by gluing bits of ribbon and glitter to them.

Later, I was allowed to use hard-boiled eggs. We might dye them or use markers. I was a horrible designer. The eggs usually turned out like a tie-dye gone wrong. My hands ended up looking the same. I wanted to eat the eggs afterwards, but my parents never let me. I guess they were right, because I cracked one of the eggs open and discovered the colors had bled inside–the egg whites had turned blue and the yolk an unpleasant gray.

That had been fun. But now all I have are chocolate bits wrapped in shiny foil. Damn commercialism.

More:
The Origin of Easter. I tried finding something that was not an extended religious rant on the evils of pagan worshippers.
Sad, but funny. Oh, what lengths die-hards try to be popular (when they already are). (See March 29th entry.)

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It’s another round of Blogger Insider and this time JF from Testzone Blog Report got to ask the questions. Don’t forget to drop by her site and cheer her on in completing her thesis!

1. Why would/wouldn’t you like to like to get a job in your hometown?

My hometown has very limited options in regards to jobs. Mainly the only openings are for grocery store clerks. Most people commute to Nashville for something more exciting. So no, I would not want to get a job there now although for one summer I did. I worked at the local library. Even though I don’t have a degree in library sciences, I knew the ins and outs of pretty much everything (perhaps even more than the older librarians who had been there for ten or twenty or more years). I probably knew more because I knew how to operate a computer.

2. Are you sure your graduate education should not revolve around writing? Why?

I like doing research. Yeah, I may complain from time to time (usually due to lack of sleep or a failed experiment), but I find it cool that I’m doing something that no one else has done before. Besides, are you sure it won’t revolve around writing? I’ll have to write a thesis eventually too.

3. You find that the only available summer job is working as an assistant to the top wedding planner in Pasadena. What do you say in your interview that makes you the top candidate for the job?

I can follow orders. And I won’t flinch if the customers want Stayin’ Alive by the Beegees played non-stop at the reception.

4. You are selected to be on the committee that gives the top award to comedians. Who do you cast a vote for?

Conan O’Brien. Sophomoric but hilarious.

5. You discover your mother is secretly trying to match you up with a dork. What’s your excuse for not going to the party?

I’ll try my ubiquitous “I’ve got work to do”. That usually does the trick if I want to avoid anything. But if that doesn’t work, nothing will.

6. Your great great grandmother has risen from the dead. What do you want her to tell you?

The names of all the relatives that she knows. Then I’ll be able to contribute some valuable genealogical information to the morass that already exists on the web.

7. Why do stars only come out at night?

Oh, they’re always out. It’s just that the evil sun outshines them during the day.

8. Are you an only child? If so how was that good or bad, and if not what would your siblings say is your greatest accomplishment?

I have one sister. If you ask her what my greatest accomplishment was, she’ll look around furtively and say, “Uh…graduating high school with top honors?” We’re close, but we never brag to each other, so she would be rather unsure of what to say.

9. Are able to make major decisions with relative ease?

Yes and no. What I usually do is not think about it and procrastinate until the deadline. Then I decide.

10. You have the means to live anywhere in the world. Where do you put down roots, and why is this place special to you?

I’m rather restless so most likely I’ll be traveling a lot rather than staying at home. So my home base would probably be a large city like New York, London, or Hong Kong where I can get access to an international airport.

11. A Greek goddess asks you “which way is the way of the truth slayer?” How do you respond?

Point vaguely in a random direction and say, “I think he went over there.”

One of Those Weird Dreams

I think it was processing one of the last thoughts I had when I was falling asleep last night. I had been reading angst-ridden journals all day and had finally given up in disgust. All they talk about is the trials of romantic love. Perhaps it had irritated me because I’ve never had the (mis)fortune of being in love to understand what they were yammering about.

All of this had reminded me of a girl I knew in high school who constantly complained about her love life. What she ended up doing was going out with a geek for senior prom which her mother approved of and then immediately ditched him for some effeminate Goo Goo Dolls look-alike with piercings in inappropriate places. I think she broke the geek’s heart.

As for the dream, I was revisting high school. I was in a classroom with my former physics teacher and the geek. The geek was standing around looking rather lost even though he insisted that he was waiting on someone. The physics teacher kept jabbering at me. “Oh, that’s wonderful!” she said when I told her I had read both Tommy I and II. Ironic since she had gone ballistic whenever someone used calculus in her class. I spent the rest of the dream wondering what she would do if I started writing integrals and derivatives on her pristine chalkboard.

Linkage:
Female or Shemale? I got a 12/16 like everyone else. It just goes to show you can never assume. When I was a toddler, people mistook my gender. In fact, people still get my gender wrong.
Queen Mother Dies. Enough said.

Into A Cat’s Mind

Bob the tailess wonder sat hunched on the concrete railing, overlooking the thick bushes. The pattern of his fur coat shifted as he struggled to find just the right position. Bob was cold, a little hungry, and lonely. The sky darkened. A human male on roller blades whizzed by him, nearly careening into the lamp post a few feet away.

He remembered when he was important. Just a kitten, he had thought his world was his kingdom. He was presented with a multitude of fingers and hands and rubber toys to chew on. There was warm milk. There were hugs and warm laps. And when he yowled, the humans always jumped to attention.

And then there was the accident. It didn’t bear thinking about. So Bob didn’t. Instead, he delibrately filled his thoughts with butterflies and voluptuous queens. But they were only pipe dreams–in actuality there were only ratty gray moths and the crotchety neighbors who fought over olive-stuffed squirrels.

“Hey Bob!”

Jerked from his reverie, he looked back seeing a bunch of humans in jeans and baseball caps burst through a pair of glass doors. They were grinning, leering.

Bob leaped into the bushes and sprinted into the welcoming shadows, his heart pounding.

Other things:
Grayed. Shameless self-promotion. Go see a novel in progress.
The Museum of Unnatural Mystery. And I say the Loch Ness Monster is behind all the UFO sightings.
The Anagram Genius Archive (Music). You don’t suppose they’re also sending subliminal messages too, do you?

Happiness

noun
1. obsolete: good fortune: prosperity
2. a: a state of well-being and contentment: joy b: a pleasurable or satisfying experience
3. felicity, aptness

The ancients had numerous deities to personify happiness.

But what is happiness?

I can tell you what it isn’t. Happiness isn’t listening to other people rant about what they think is right. It isn’t bratty kids swapping significant others more often than they change their clothes. It isn’t religious propaganda. Happiness is certainly not an insincere smile or a false compliment. Happiness does not originate from bitchy cat fights or revenge. It isn’t drinking yourself into a stupor or getting high. It doesn’t come from snide remarks. It isn’t a loud noise. It isn’t a haughty tilt of the head. And it definitely isn’t required reading.

So what do I think is happiness?

It’s the smell of damp earth after a rainstorm. It’s a rambunctious pop song. It’s an early Van Gogh (before he cut off his ear). Happiness is sitting in the sunlight and writing about nothing. It’s the faint stirring of an orchestral tune. It’s a fat cat. Happiness is a dark-colored dream phantom who whispers posessive things in my ear. It’s a finished book. It’s genuine laughter. Happiness is a foriegn language that can be easily learned.

I’m happy when someone actually listens to me.

To think about:
The Review Revue. There’s not much here yet, but it looks interesting. We’ll see how it evolves.
Rukeyser flap shows how PBS must be careful in trying to go young. Hey, I’m a twenty-something and I thought Rukeyser was pretty cool (for a 69-year-old). True, I’m completely out of touch with other people my age, but I too think there’s something to be said of age discrimination. Who says an old geezer can’t have broad appeal? (Besides, there’s something inherently creepy about a youth-obsessed culture.)

Wow, those people at Dartmouth are quick. I just found out that I got accepted into their MCB (molecular cell biology) program. This means I’m definitely going to graduate school, one way or another. Now Dartmouth is in no way the last of my choices. Their faculty to grad student ratio is great (about 1:2) and the research is top notch, but I’m just going to wait a little bit so see what the other schools say before I send any replies back.

Actually I’m still quite shocked at the fast response time. My interviews must have went pretty well. Or maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t competing against the thirty or so other applicants who were dead set on getting into the immunology department. In any case, I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. All I need to do now is concentrate on surviving the next ten weeks before getting my bachelor’s degree.

On a completely different note, I also haven’t forgotten the crazy project I’m starting on April 1st. The problem, though, is that I haven’t made any progress in the plot. I don’t know who my protagonists are, where it’s going to take place, or what will happen. That’s why I’m currently scouring the net in a vain attempt to find real life angst that will inspire me. But one thing’s for sure. This novel is going to have a happy ending, even if half the characters I end up introducing get killed off.

Awesome linkage:
Snippets. Another cool way to find some excellent blogs (via Sasha).
LEGO Builder. Bring on the square plastic! I must have been a construction worker or architect in a previous life.

Trailer Mania

It’s Death to Smoochy, not Death to the Smoochies (correction from a previous post). The trailer looks funny, but guys in rhino suits and Robin Williams acting how he always acts doesn’t do it for me. I’ll be content to wait for the video. I’ve been watching online movie trailers and taxing my poor computer’s virtual memory with the junk. Like The Powerpuff Girls. I’ve never seen the television show so it only looks like a bunch of inane cut-out characters to me.

Linkage:
The Pompatus of Love Personality Test. I’m a Joker/Toker. I’m a grinner and a picker and a sinner, but not a lover. I’m rarely on the run, and I don’t get my loving there.
Which Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Character are You? I’m Ford Prefect. I’m fun loving and I write for the Hitchhiker’s Guide. I happen to be from a planet near Betelgeuse and I always know where my towel is.
Spelling Britney Spears. Does it really matter? I don’t think she cares.
Slumber Inc. If only everyone else also considered this important.

Nosiness

The majority of the ads on the internet capitalize on this one human weakness: nosiness. Sure, this comes in handy if you want to find out if your neighbor is an axe murderer or trying to build a non-compliance nuclear reactor in his backyard, but this must be applicable to only a small segment of the population. Unless you are a crazy old lady (or man) who thinks peeking into other people’s lives (dirty voyeur!) is more interesting than spinning conspiracy theories, it’s practically maddening at how many spycam ads and high school search services pop up everywhere.

Most people do not like these ads. Thus, it’s obvious that they’re marketing to the wrong people. They should restrict their ads to conspiracy-oriented sites, cyber sex chat rooms (for those who think their spouses are cheating on them), private dectective agencies, gossip monger webrings, the FBI’s most wanted list, and high school reunion-type sites.

Because why market to me? I have no inclination for spying on my next door neighbors. (If I really wanted to, I could just turn down my music and listen. There’s no sound-proofing.) I don’t want to look up my high school classmates. E-mail would work just fine. But more importantly, I escaped from my hometown as soon as I could to a place far away (about 2000 miles away) so I wouldn’t have to endure my “friends'” endless psychotic whining. I’m a poor college student who doesn’t have money to buy these services, even if I wanted them.

What we need is an anti-nosiness detection screen. Sort of like mosquito repellant that actually works. It’ll eliminate the pesky ads from ever being downloaded (you don’t even have to visit their websites to disable it) and deter gossipy people from coming near you. Yeah, yeah, I know there’s already a lifestyle to describe this: hermit.

Neato Astronomy:
Solar System Simulator. JPL always churns out great stuff. Check out how the solar system looked on your birthday.
Celestia: A 3D Space Simulator. Haven’t tried this one yet, but looks awesome. I think you can create your own solar system too.
WinStars. Nifty planetarium program.

I didn’t get very much done today except for finishing up a spiral bound notebook full of my scribblings. No, I’m not going to let anyone read it (let alone get any of it published). Most of it is for my own benefit. Writing is a skill to be practiced, not full fledged instinct that can be simply called upon. So I do practice. It’s horrible. And it will never see the light of day.

More links:
Rabbits and Pointers. Neat little flash time waster.
Law Limiting Internet in Libraries Challenged. The internet definitely should not be censored by self-righteous moralists. It’s the parents and educators who should teach the kids to be responsible.
The Death Clock. This is a little too morbid for me. And a little too much like fortune telling. As I’ve ranted in a previous post, I hate the notion of a predetermined fate.

Address Incompetence

Generally students have post office boxes for snail mail. The address consists of the box number and the name of the university. It gets annoying when you have to call up someone to have something delivered and they absolutely insist on a street address. What street address? Whatchamacallit University can take up several hundred acres. The mail boxes are inside the campus where the sidewalks are just nameless blocks of concrete. Look on a map. Most universities are a splotch the size of a small national park. You don’t see people asking for the street address of Yellowstone, do you?

Okay, so maybe I don’t have any cause to complain since my school is about two to three blocks (squared) and it’s pretty well known (except for the people who mistake it for Cal Poly), but I guess it’s the principle of the thing. I figure if the student mail boxes have their own zip code, I don’t have to waste more ink writing out a street address.

And I keep on getting phone calls asking for people I’ve never heard of. I’m thinking of disconnecting it.

Links:
Enneagram Personality Test. I am a 4: Fours are all about being unique and creating their own distinct culture. They experience the highs and lows of life more intensely than other types. This makes them great creative forces (artists, writers, filmmakers). Fours often feel like misplaced children, and they long for a sense of real family.
A Way with Words. The way people think is probably more influenced by culture than language (because language itself is shaped by culture). But really, I don’t know. Let the sociologists figure this one out.
Electric fish. I do not work at this lab. I was assigned to do a presentation on the subject matter for a neuroethology seminar.