Thursday, March 31, 2005

Jager Bus!

Last night in Senior Seminar, one of my classmates who works at the bar across the street from the residence halls mentioned that the Jagermeister bus would be in town. For those who don't know, Jagermeister ("Jager" for short) is a German liquor which tastes like black licorice. Legend has it that Germans actually use it as a cough syrup.

So anyway, the Jager bus was in town on Wednesday night. I have no classes on Thursdays. After watching yet another excellent episode of The West Wing (the writing is as crisp now as it was in its second season), I headed across the street.

For those of you who have visions of going joyriding in the Jager bus, with a sober driver carting around a literal busload of drunks in various states of undress, I assure you nothing like that happened.

What actually happened went more like this:

The Library - the bar, not the place with all the books - was busier than I've ever seen it. Judging by the cell phones, slick hair, and cigarettes, I'd say the frats somehow got wind of the Jager bus's arrival (then again, frat boys can smell empty Jager bottles from three alleys away). You had to buy a shot in order for the Jager princess to give you any free crap, so I bought two shots - one for me and my new Jager hat, and one for a friend who wanted a Jager wifebeater Tshirt.

Mmmm. Jager.

I chased it with a bottle of Budweiser. At some point in the evening, my future coworkers from this fall showed up and we spent the better part of the night yelling "Opa!" for any reason, like toasting the drunk hippie who went ass over teakettle by the jukebox.

So that was a nice escape. I got a little homework done and am now working on the outlines of not one, not two, but THREE bigass papers coming due over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Quick Update in the Middle of Homework

Spring is trying, it's trying real hard, to arrive in Laramie. Unfortunately, Laramie is on the phone with Winter, reminiscing about those long nights snuggling by the fire and thermoses full of hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps, and is too damn busy to answer the door.

Yesterday we were in the 50's. Today we're in the 40's with wind. The forecast calls for rain turning to snow by tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, I haven't noticed because I've been doing homework when not watching college basketball. I still can't seem to write about the Illinois win on Saturday, other than to say, without hyperbole, that it was The Greatest College Basketball Game That Was Ever and Will Ever Be Played.

Tonight I'm in the middle of an article analysis regarding children and wordplay in Alice in Wonderland, which happens to rely heavily on Piaget (the child psychologist) and on Saussurean and Derridean notions of play. I haven't written a damn thing for that Linguistics paper. I haven't read Dracula in its entirety. I did manage to get some reading done for my Young Adult Lit class, but not enough – I still have four more novels to read by next week. The Quantitative Reasoning presentation seemed to go pretty well, but now I need to start thinking about our final project.

Five weeks of classes left, plus finals. Yikes.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

We're Loyal to You, Illinois

I'll write more about tonight's game later, when my breathing returns to normal.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Dealing With It, pt. 2

Well, I found a good article for the Senior Seminar assignment, and I'm about to type up the transparencies for the Quantitative Reasoning presentation. The Linguistics paper, however, is not shaping up very well - which is to say, not at all - and I'm really scrounging for source material. At this point I think my paper might need to somehow incorporate the notion of Gaelic as a source of Scottish identity within the negotiation of nationalism between Scotland and England. Robert Burns, for instance, would often use English and Scots in his poetry to intentionally confuse English readers while stirring up romantic notions of a Scotland that never really existed for his Scottish readers. Not sure Burns ever wrote in Gaelic; I'll have to check that. But surely some poets did the same thing with Gaelic. I hope.

Late yesterday afternoon I went to Altitude, a brew pub in downtown Laramie, to meet my friend L and her husband and also to get loosened up in preparation for the Illini game. So, after a beer and good conversation, I took off from Altitude in the hopes that CBS would broadcast the Illini game instead of the Louisville / Washington game. And of course, they didn't. Since I could either watch a game I didn't really care about (the Louisville victory helped my bracket, but only in the sense that a dixie cup would have helped bail out the Titanic) or I could go back to Altitude and hang out with L and hubby. So I went back to Altitude, chatted for a while with L's friends J and K who were very smart and funny, and split once it looked like the Louisville / Washington game would end before the Illini - which it didn't. So I didn't get to see ANY of the Illinois game except when CBS broke in with highlights. *sigh*

This afternoon I'm going to work on that Quantitative Reasoning project, get some reading done (Dracula is a very long book, and slow, and I may wind up skimming some of it), and also nap.

Yes. Yes, I think a nap is definitely in the works here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Dealing With It, pt. 1

A good while back at Amazon, a friend recommended a coping strategy when things get well and truly nasty: physically write out everything that's bugging you and possible solutions, and the process of doing so often reveals what things you can and can't control. It may be obvious and pedestrian, but damn if it doesn't work wonders for me. So tonight I'm sharing the list of things that are bugging me, with the exception of some intensely personal stuff that I'm just not going to share.

In no particular order:

- Senior Seminar in English. Not only do I have to read Dracula by next Wednesday, but I also have to do a bona fide article review on Dracula, Alice in Wonderland, or MacBeth. That will entail hours at Coe library, hunting down journal articles which employ critical theory, and then writing my own evaluation of how well the author employs that theory. Wheeeeee! This has to happen either tomorrow or Friday.

- Various appointments. I may have to skip the gym tomorrow morning, given other commitments.

- Linguistics. Our final bibliography and thesis statement for our final research paper are due in two weeks. I'll be writing about Gaelic as an issue of control within the political discourse of Scottish nationalism, but my initial search at Coe didn't result in very many resources. I'm trying the public library tomorrow, which might also afford the opportunity to flirt with the hot librarians. I'm not kidding.

- Linguistics, pt. 2. Our current chapter focuses on phonetics, and I'm still struggling with a batallion of vocabulary terms. Word on the street has it that the exam for this chapter is notorious for turning C averages into D averages. Heading to the coffee shop downtown tomorrow to make flashcards.

- Young Adult Literature. I need to read four more books outside of class (a total of about 800 pages), and do write ups for each. At two hours per book and one hour per write up, this isn't a difficult assignment, but it is a serious time commitment. I should be able to get a good bit done this Saturday.

- Young Adult Literature, pt. 2. We have a "novel set" paper coming up, and I'm a little shaky on the requirements of the assignment. Will review assignment paper tomorrow and get a better idea of what, exactly, I'm supposed to be doing before attempting to do it.

- Quantitative Reasoning. Very small and relatively straightforward presentation due Monday. Will make fancy transparencies (because God how Education instructors love transparencies) either tomorrow or Friday. Not sure the copy center is open on Sunday, and Saturday is out because I work the lobby desk from 2 to 8.

- The room. It's cluttered. I haven't really unpacked since the trip to Steamboat. I've come to believe the act of cleaning a room has a psychological cleansing effect as well. And goddam, I could use me some of that there cleansing.

- Register for Fall semester. I have everything I need, so I might do that tonight after I'm done here.

- Money. Yeah, well, this never changes. I need more of it. Helloooo, loan office!

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

Today was one of those days, and they are rare, during which I seriously questioned how well I'll handle being a teacher. You see, Dearest Readership, there's a young woman in both my Linguistics class and Senior Seminar class who – oh, what's the phrase I'm looking for here? – drives me fucking nuts. If I had to deal with her behavior all day long, I'd be thinking not about Foucauldian or Saussurian violence in language, but rather violence in immediate and personal terms.

She interrupts the professor. She leans into my personal space to copy my notes while I'm still writing them. She chortles. What's more, she apparently chortles at the voices in her head because usually there's nothing funny at all being said. Nothing. It's like she's possessed.

During Linguistics today, while looking our professor in the eye, this woman asked, "Do people actually find this stuff interesting? I just don't get it. GUFFAW DE HAR HAR HAR!" This was followed by what her outbursts are generally followed by, which is to say total silence. Then the professor's veins popped out a little as she continued her lecture.

After Linguistics I went to my Quantitative Reasoning class, which is a fairly cool class in that most of it is topical and is actually preparing me to be a teacher. Batshit insane woman isn't in that class, but the level of whining and interrupting really got to me in there. Jesus Halliburton Christ, people, shut up and let the instructor finish her sentence before you interrupt with questions about the very process she's trying to explain. Guh.

Senior Seminar tonight went pretty well, but apparently we were supposed to have read Dracula, which I haven't. Turns out I don't even own a copy. Not sure how I missed that one.

Hmm. If I sound cranky tonight, it's because I am. Off to the bookstore!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

Do not, under any circumstances, click here. Unless you are a liberal, and unafraid of very naughty words.

A Quick Lesson

Well, here it is, 9pm on a Tuesday night, and I'm on HR. As a refresher, HR stands for "hall rounds" and it entails walking each floor like a cop on the beat. The early round is pointless, without fail – although a few weeks back we did get an epic weed bust on the early round. But mostly the early round is pointless, and now I'm just killing time until the 10 and midnight rounds.

Something came up tonight that I feel is important to discuss. One of the lobbies has a large poster of the NCAA tournament bracket. My HR buddy and I were discussing how utterly fucked our brackets are, and he mentioned how surprised he was by Louisville.

And here's my important topic. It's pronounced "Lou-uh-ville." I didn't learn a whole lot during the course of my two plus years in Kentucky, but I did learn that Louisville is a fairly cool town, and I learned how to pronounce it:

It's not "Loueeville;" there's no hard "e" and you don't need to force the alveolar "l"s and labiodental "v." Doing so makes you sound like an idiot – or an ESPN analyst.

It's not "Looville," either; you don't smother that middle syllable. Sure, when you've had one too many mint julips, it's easy to forget. But slurring three syllables into two makes you sound like, well, you've had one too many mint julips.

It's "Lou-uh-ville." It should be a smooth and sweet three syllables, emphasis on the first and third.

And that, Dearest Readership, concludes tonight's lesson. Tomorrow: how to pronounce "Dubois" (a small Wyoming town) without sounding like a tourist.

Congrats, Chad and Melissa!

All of you - each and every one of you - should head over to Westward Ho! and congratulate my stepbrother for getting engaged. They'll be tying the knot sometime next year.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Speaking of that...

"Big ups" go out to MaryAnn, who randomly sent me some books from my Amazon wishlist, one of which was Get Your War On. "Big ups" also go out to my beloved Fighting Illini, who have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and play UWM this Thursday night. "Big ups" also go out to whoever came up with the phrase "big ups."

Not that Anyone Asked, But...

I got a letter in the mail today from the Office of Teacher Education. Letters from these people make me nervous for many reasons, not the least of which is that their bureaucratic efficiency makes the DMV look like Delta Force.

Anyway, the letter said that my Phase III application had been accepted. This is good news; it means I have the green light to do my student teaching a year from now. The letter went on to say placements had not yet been determined. This is bad news. We Secondary Education / English majors were given the choice of two locations: Laramie or Cheyenne, and I really want Laramie. Cheyenne is only 45 miles away or so, and on an interstate with a 75 mph speed limit, it's a pretty quick trip (or at least, it would be a quick trip in anything other than my truck). I'd just rather not make that commute every day. Besides, when it snows, the pass becomes a total deathwish.

Speaking of, if anything remotely like Terri Schiavo's situation ever happens to me, here's what you need to do:

1. Give me three years. If after those three years I have not yet miraculously recovered, pull the plug/feeding tube on the third anniversary of the injury. Then go have a beer at the diner across the street.

2. In the event of confusion, consult my spouse. Whoever that winds up being, their word goes. I love my parents and all, but goddammit, my wife will know me better.

Finally, I wish I could take credit for that DMV/Delta Force joke, but alas, I stole it from Get Your War On.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

St. Patty's Days Revisited

In what appears to be a developing tradition on this blog of cataloging events on certain days, I share with the Dearest Readership every single St. Patty's Day from the past 11 years.

1994 – I had moved to the big city of Champaign, IL from Casper, WY the previous summer. I was living in my mom's basement, working at the local Wal*Mart, and taking a creative writing class at Parkland College. My mom made a corned beef and cabbage dish, and I think an old family friend from Brookings, SD came over for dinner.

1995 – My first year at the University of Illinois, and by this time I had fallen in with The Onion crowd. A few of us had drinks at a bar in downtown Champaign (I think it was called The Gypsy), where we learned that the Illini had lost their NCAA tournament game. Then we went to Wal*Mart where we rode bikes around the aisles, and eventually wound up at that paragon of campus bars, Murphy's Pub.

1996 – My senior year at the University of Illinois, and by this time The Onion bigwigs in Madison were very, very upset with us and about to completely shut us down (if they hadn't already – I'm a little fuzzy on this). My neighbor and good buddy Nick and I started drinking early in the afternoon, and we played golf on the quad with those giant plastic kiddie clubs. I think I had a kilt by this time (which my mom made for me), and wore it to Murphy's, where the afternoon turned to evening and evening turned to wee hours of the next morning. An interesting note here is that at one point in the evening Nick and I were talking in very loud and very poorly done brogue, and as a young woman pushed her way past our group, she mouthed to her friend: "Oh my god," and rolled her eyes. I later learned her name was Corrie, and she and I wound up dating for two weeks right before I moved to Phoenix. The spot where we had that first inauspicious encounter was right in front of the jukebox, which is now gone, thanks to Murphy's unfathomable expansion and remodeling. They knocked down walls, installed crappy furniture, and even took out the jukebox (!). Now the entire fraternity population thinks Murphy's is just the coolest fuckin' place on campus. And it was, until the fraternities found it.

1997 – Scottsdale, AZ. My friend Matt (an editor from my Onion days) and I hung out at a bar near the Scottsdale public library and then headed over to Jamaican Blue, a coffee house near old town Scottsdale. I definitely wore my kilt, because I remember some of the Scottsdale hipsters were just oh-so-thrilled by it. Which was pretty much the effect I was going for.

1998 – Seattle. I was living in my first apartment, in a basement of a house in Wallingford I shared with 8 other roommates. Some friends from work walked to downtown Wallingford, but the Irish bar there had a line outside, so we went to our regular neighborhood bar and played pool.

1999 – Seattle. Pretty sure I wore my kilt to work that day. I remember walking from my apartment on Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle, and getting a few winks and smiles from the populace.

2000 – Huntington, WV. We arrived in Huntington on March 1 to open Amazon's call center there. I don't remember what, if anything, I did for St. Patty's Day that year.

2001 – Lexington, KY. My girlfriend, also an Amazon employee, and I both had St. Patty's Day and the following day off. I remember drinking at the very Irish bar in downtown Lexington, within walking distance of my apartment. They served free stew and the bartender gave me a free Tullamore Dew polo shirt, which I still have. K and I got hammered on Guinness and whiskey, and she puked when we got home.

2002 – Lexington, KY. I was in a different apartment, and I walked up the two blocks to Ramsey's Diner in my kilt. I don't remember anything else. (Mary Ann, any insight on this one or the next?)

2003 – Lexington, KY or Edwardsville, IL. This was during that very weird period in my life right after I quit Amazon. I know I worked at a nursery for two weeks in Lexington; mid-March is their busy season and I've never done such intense manual labor in my life. But I think I must have been in Lexington for St. Patty's Day, because I arrived in Edwardsville the day after Evan James' death in Iraq on March 24.

2004 – Edwardsville, IL. I know this was just a year ago, but I have no clue what I did. Seriously. No idea. I probably went to Shenanigan's, and I probably hung out with friends, and I probably had a grand old time. Probably.

2005 – Hung out in Willie's condo in Steamboat Springs and watched basketball until about 5, at which point I went to a bar to reserve spots for Willie, Jenn, and their friends. We suffered through an agonizing first half against Fairleigh Dickinson, and four of us stood up at halftime and sang an uninspired acapella version of "Hail Alma Mater." Then the Illini proceeded to kick the shit out of Fairleigh Dickinson in the second half, Jenn's sister dyed everyone's drinks green with her own food coloring, and we eventually went home and crashed out in the living room.

Back in the Saddle

Well, folks, I'm back in Laramie after a four day bender in Steamboat. In sum, here is what I learned during this trip:

1. I may be a natural athlete in some sports. Snowboarding is not one of them.
2. If your snowboarding lesson starts at 12:30, a liquid lunch at high noon might hinder your ability to actually stay upright on the snowboard.
3. I am getting old.

Those first two are pretty straightforward. I enjoyed my time on the board, but I'm not sure it's my thing. And goddam, I'm a few tax brackets short of the ski/snowboard lifestyle. Hanging around Steamboat Springs made me acutely aware of how much money I'll never have.

That last one, about getting old, has been scurrying around in my subconscious for a few years now. Being an RA has made me more sensitive to it, but falling ass-over-teakettle on hard snow – repeatedly – brought it all home. I am one bruised and battered 32 year old. Hellooooo, Ibuprofen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Live From Steamboat Springs

It's spring break, and after waking up Monday morning with what can only be described as a TV hangover (college basketball - lots and lots of college basketball), I got a call from Willie in Steamboat.

Isn't there a cartoon about a guy named Steamboat Willie? Yes. Yes I believe there is.

Anyway. I had told Willie in Steamboat that I thought about visiting him for a few days during spring break. He and I met through my stepbrother Tim, who hasn't updated his blog since November and deserves an email from each and every one of the Dearest Readership. I think I've mentioned before that it was during Willie and Jenn's wedding in Denver a few years that I realized I needed to be back west.

So after talking to Willie I realized I could either hang around Laramie for another few days, watching TV and playing video games, or I could head down to Steamboat - a two hour drive when the roads are clear. Why not?

Seasoned readers know what happened the last time I drove to Steamboat Springs; a two hour drive wound up taking four or so. The drive was better this time with the exception of the stretch in the Snowies that lasts fifteen miles before crossing into Colorado. The road was snowpacked and icy; on one hill I passed a van with a trailer that had jack-knifed and at that point I decided that this trip might be a good time to try out those tire chains I bought a few years ago.

At the first available turnoff I slid and fishtailed into a parking area usually used by snowmobilers but presently occupied by snowcovered - and presumably snowbound - cars (this is in the middle of mountains so there are no gas stations).

The chains went on easily enough. And frankly, I'm glad I put them on because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it otherwise. At the Colorado border - literally at the sign for the Colorado border - the roads improved. I kept the chains on only long enough to find a clear spot to pull off the road.

Once at Willie's we went out for dinner and then played guitar for hours. This morning I walked around Steamboat for a bit and came up to Colorado Mountain College (where Willie works) to hang out here. I write this from CMC's library.

On tonight's agenda we have the play-in game between two first round fodder teams in the NCAA tournament, a bottle of Irish whiskey, and more guitar.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Well. That Was Exciting.

It's been a strange and busy week, Dearest Readership.

On Sunday I went to see my best friend from high school preach at a local church. He lives here in town, but the fissure that cracked open soon after he came here for college 15 years ago has grown into a chasm. When I learned that some fellow RAs go to his church (he's the assistant pastor), I agreed to go with them because back when I first moved to Laramie, my friend helped unload the U-haul one afternoon and I promised I'd come see him preach sometime. So my buddy was eager to see me and I was eager to see him, but the things he believes now are very, very difficult for me to swallow. That said, I realized as I listened to him preach – and in fairness, he's really quite good at it – that any given member of a congregation doesn't have the same understanding of God and in fact, they literally can't have the same understanding of God. Although everyone in the room agreed in principle on most things this church teaches, they physically could not perceive everything the exact same way.

So as I sat there thinking about how each brain is different and how centers necessarily shift (that Derrida bastard will haunt me for the rest of my life), I realized that people don't necessarily go to church just for the thumpin.' They go there for the fellowship.

Deep, eh? Yeah, well, it's taken me roughly 12 years to realize that.

So now I'm thinking I might try the Episcopal church here in town. I'm still firmly in the undecided camp, but to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, a hardcore atheist until age 31, "one must come to terms with one's maker." This world of ours is either a divine or statistical miracle; I like to think that once I answer that question for myself I'll find at least some peace.

Sunday afternoon I went to the pool session and snapped off some clean rolls in my kayak.

Monday morning I went to the gym and pedaled my ass off on the recumbent bike. Monday afternoon I worked a little on my project in Quantitative Reasoning.

Tuesday morning I returned to the gym and pedaled my ass off on the recumbent bike. Tuesday afternoon I sat in on an RA interview. I didn't ask any questions, just sat there and listened.

In Tuesday night's Young Adult Literature class we split into small groups to discuss assigned readings. Our group's assignment was the book Holes, which is simply amazing. The other two people in my group didn't seem too engaged in the discussion, and that kind of brought me down. In the end I think we did okay but there for a while I almost strangled those two.

Wednesday morning I went to the gym and spent the rest of the day working on my Quantitative Reasoning project. Wednesday night in Senior Seminar, a partner and I presented Foucault's theory of power in discourse, and how language outside the accepted discourse is labeled as either "insane" or "inspired." The presentation went alright; we also got our midterm exams back – 89%. Not horrible. But you know me, Dearest Readership. I prefer A's.

After class on Wednesday I went to a concert in the student union. And here I need to back up for a moment.

Three weeks ago I went to another concert at the union, where I struck up a conversation with a woman I'd seen around town. I got her number, called the following Friday and left a message, and then spent the weekend obsessing over her (I'm 32, and I still get anxious waiting for telephone calls from women). She never called back.

So I saw her Wednesday night, and got even stranger vibes – as in, it was like she didn't even want to acknowledge I was there. Luckily another RA from Orr was there and we talked for a bit. I split after about half an hour, a little bit because of her, but mostly because the band was boooooring. I mean, I can only take so many instrumental grooves in 4/4 time. But apparently drunk hippies just can't get enough.

Thursday morning I went to the public library because they have an awesome young adult literature section. In a desperate attempt to flirt with the cute woman behind the checkout counter, I cracked a joke about the Left Behind series, which have now sunk their filthy little rat claws into the young adult market. She looked at me like I'd just insulted her religion. Because I probably had.

Later on Thursday afternoon I was scheduled for more RA interviews. When I called the lead interviewer to find out where to meet, he told me we only had one candidate and I didn't need to show up. Small mercies! I spent the rest of the afternoon working on my Quantitative Reasoning project and worked a desk shift for two hours later that night. During the shift I got in some studying for today's exam in Linguistics.

After the desk shift I headed to the bar across the street. They were having an open mic, but I'd tried to play guitar earlier in the day and my calluses were shot, so playing was agony. No open mic for me... I had a pint with some other folks and then split early.

This morning I got up and studied for the Linguistics exam for a few hours. At the moment the Illini were tipping off against Northwestern, I was peer reviewing a classmate's Quantitative Reasoning project. Back to Orr for a quick one hour desk shift. Hung out with one of my favorite people in Laramie, who's going through a rough patch right now. (You know who you are. Say the word, and the M&M's are on me.)

The Linguistics exam went okay, but there were some questions that I simply didn't know. An A in the class is unlikely at best.

After Linguistics I handed in my Quantitative Reasoning project, which seems like it should be okay. I had designed some unit assessments based on the young adult novel Feed, a remarkably savvy piece of science fiction.

After class this afternoon I got back to my room and more or less collapsed. The lobby desk closed at 5 tonight since it's spring break, and we remaining RAs went to Appleby's for dinner. I stopped off at the liquor store to pick up a bottle of Tullamore Dew for St. Patrick's Day (I'll call you tomorrow to discuss/plan the visit, Willie). I had also planned to invite some other RAs up to my room for a little nightcap, but everyone's pretty much holed up for the night.

And honestly, there are other things on top of all this, mostly involving financial hardship, the aforementioned (and an unmentioned) heartache, and a certain degree of anxiety that seems to be waning the further I get from the Linguistics exam.

Meanwhile, my room is broiling and my window is wide open – it's not freezing out and it's a rare treat to have silence blasting from the frat houses across the street. I think I might watch some basketball highlights and go to bed.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It Is March, Right?

Winter is hanging on in Laramie. Yesterday the wind blew in biblical gusts with pebbles thrown in for flavor. I have this theory that Wyoming is slowly and literally eroding into Nebraska; that a sample of the brownish crust taken from the tops of snowdrifts around here would reveal traces of Utah and Idaho. In spring storms in Wyoming, instead of brushing the downy flakes from your shoulders like you're walking into a commercial for hot chocolate, instead of shaking the ice from your hat like a Maine lobster boat captain, you spit grit into the corner. Other Wyomingites will know what I mean.

It was windy yesterday; it was windy all night long (my window knocked and thumped and howled); it was windy when I woke up. This morning it snowed horizontally for a few hours. It's clearing up now, and it looks like the wind is slowing a bit too.

Busy week ahead. Today and Thursday I help interview potential RAs for next year; tomorrow a partner and I present Macbeth in terms of Foucault's language and power in discourse (we're using Apocalypse Now as a lead-in – how very male undergrad of us). Thursday I spend working on my midterm project for Quantitative Reasoning, due Friday. Friday I turn in the project and, most likely, take a test in Linguistics. All this while going to class and working desk shifts. There's also another open mic on Thursday night, but I really doubt I'll be able to catch this one.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Doggie Go Sploosh!

For tonight's entertainment, a video and subsequent jokes ripped straight from Boatertalk by way of Jackson Kayak.

First, watch the video:
Things going through this dog's head:

1. "If I survive this, I swear to God I'll never chase the cat again."
2. "Did I pee on the rug? I don't remember peeing on the rug."
3. "At least it wasn't a car."

[Editor's Note: This was not intentional. If you slow down/pause the video you'll see the dog wander into the path after the kayak has reached the point of no stopping. Had this been an intentional stunt, yours truly would never have shared it.]

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Oh How I Hate Ohio State / Paul vs. The Boat, pt. II

We went to the pool session again today and had a good time. I'm getting better at rolling, turning over at least five clean (unassisted) rolls. By the end of it I could hardly lift my boat out of the water. I'm always amazed at how exhausting that sport is.

In other news, the Illini lost. Had we won against Ohio State today, we would have had an undefeated regular season. In all honesty, though, I'm not too disappointed - if we were going to lose, this was probably the best possible time to do it. All this loss does is remove the pressure of having gone undefeated heading into the NCAA tournament. No biggie, folks. The Illini will continue to rock, no matter what those ACC fucks say.

And that's really about all I have to say tonight.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Got It.

Yours truly will be an RA through the summer. Out of a field of about 12 candidates, I got one of the five spots. Okay, not the longest odds in the world (and I've beat longer - someone ask me how many of my fellow temps got hired at Amazon way back when), but it's nice to have that security heading into summer.

Today will be filled with mediocre basketball - I thought Illinois was playing today, but I was wrong - and a six hour desk shift.

First, food. And coffee.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Okay, So Maybe There's a Third Addiction

Besides Shamrock Shakes and Call of Duty, I think it's reasonable to say I have a caffeine addiction as well. Stepping between me and my first cup of coffee is like stepping between a mama grizzly and her cubs while wearing a suit made of salmon filets.

The University of Wyoming's residence hall cafeteria is called The Washakie Center, named for Chief Washakie, a Shoshone whose complicity with the U.S. Army led to major expansion through Wyoming. Washakie could be viewed as a visionary pacifist, unless you are of Sioux or Cheyenne descent, in which case you might have a few problems with Washakie's treacherous ass. I like to think of Washakie as a guy who evaluated the situation, understood that the whitefolks' bullets didn't really care about local tribal disputes, and decided he'd rather live in harmony with the whitefolk and drink their coffee. And maybe for all his trouble they'd someday name a cafeteria after him.

Washakie - the cafeteria - was out of coffee for three consecutive days. The cafeteria is divided into two large rooms with the food stations in the middle, and each room has its own coffee maker. The coffee maker in the room where we usually sit had a broken handle. The coffee maker in the other room was simply out of coffee.

Things were just not going my way.

Today one of the coffee machines is back online, thank Christ, and all I have coming down the pike is a lecture in Linguistics and a review of our midterm project draft in Quantitative Reasoning. And then it's Happy Hour, and the weekend. Things are lookin' up!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What A Little Caffeine Can't Fix, A Lot of Caffeine Can.

We took our midterm exam in Senior Seminar tonight, and although I'm not the quickest bunny in the meadow I think it went okay. Then again, I was a few milligrams of caffeine away from speaking in tongues, so perhaps my judgment was impaired.

I've had a recurring headache for about four weeks now. I ain't no doctor, but I get the feeling it's from a combination of the crud, stress, and cutting back on my coffee intake. My mom thinks I might need glasses, and I really should look into that (HA! "look into that" - get it?), and I secretly hope I do need glasses because glasses are just goddam sexy. And at this point, I could really use all the help I can get in that department.

So anyway, this afternoon I realized that if I didn't do something about my headache, I was in danger of well and truly screwing myself on tonight's Senior Sem midterm. I downed a few ibuprofen, and, for the very first time in my life, bought a Rockstar energy drink and shoved it into my bag. I got to class well ahead of time, and a classmate passed around chocolate covered espresso beans. And right before the exam our professor handed out candy. And then I drank the 20 ounces of caffeine and sugar.

The synapses connecting Althusser's ideologies and Foucault's power structures embedded in those ideologies fired like a gatling gun. My brilliant application of those theories to The Nightmare Before Christmas was hindered only by my hand, which didn't seem capable of keeping up with my brain. I'm not entirely sure my sentences were cogent, much less coherent, but I sure did write a lot of them.

It's Over, Okay? It's Just... It's Over.

It's been a long and occasionally fulfilling relationship, Hotmail, but I really think it's time we break if off. I know, I know, we've had some good times over the past 10 years, but at this point I need to move on.

What's that? You think I'm too attached? You think I'll come back? Ha, I say. Ha! That attitude only proves my point - our relationship has always been about you. That's right, you. Sure, I've done my share of using, but you're the one who pitches thinly veiled marketing at me. You're the one who treats me like just another end-user agreement. I mean, I'm not the one who dumped the entire contents of our inbox into the ether.

You've been acting strange lately, too. Don't think I haven't noticed. How many times do I have to ask you to send a message before you'll actually do it? And then there are the "Server Too Busy" errors. What are you too busy doing? Other users? Is that it? Am I not important enough anymore?

Well, I have needs, Hotmail. And since you're not interested in fulfilling them, I've found someone that is. Meet Gmail. Gmail has 1000MB of free space, a super interface, and a whole lot less baggage than you.

Oh, and one more thing: I've been cheating on you. That's right. I've been seeing and, too. And you know what? They're better than you.

Fuck off, Hotmail.


[Dearest Readership: It's true. Please change my email address from Hotmail to the new Gmail account - the first part, paulcprimrose, stays the same. The second part is simply Send stuff to Hotmail at your own risk... I get the feeling we won't be seeing much of each other for a while.]

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Spring Break and Shamrock Shakes

It snowed this afternoon in Laramie; huge, wet flakes which left slush in the streets. Afternoon snowstorms are like afternoon buzzes: when it's over, the night seems timid and slow in coming, like it knows it can't compete.

Throughout the day I've been emailing Willie about Spring Break plans. He's down in Steamboat Springs, which is remarkably close to Laramie. Since we're both University of Illinois graduates, and since the NCAA tournament starts during my Spring Break, it only made sense to invite myself down to his and Jenn's place for a few days during the break.

While emailing him, I realized the tournament starts on March 17th. "Huh," I thought to myself, "that's St. Patrick's Day. And St. Patrick's Day means that I need to buy a bottle of Tullamore Dew, and that ... holy crap." Ten minutes later I was in the McDonald's parking lot.

I only have two addictions that I'm aware of. The first is the PC game "Call of Duty," a World War II era game in which you run around and shoot people. It's a lot of fun, but not nearly bloody enough. The other addiction is McDonald's Shamrock Shakes. They're green and minty and, with any luck, not made of chopped up doggie parts.

Perhaps I should explain.

I spent a few summers and the 1983/84 school year with my mom in Rochester, New York. Our neighbors were a yuppie couple with an incredibly large and incredibly stupid black lab named Shamrock. Shamrock would play soccer with us, only instead of chasing the ball like a normal dog he'd bowl over the smaller kids, usually with a large muddy paw. Shamrock would chase our cat. Shamrock would eat random piles of shit on the sidewalk. Shamrock was not a smart dog.

I had my first Shamrock Shake sometime around then, and ever since – every single time I've bought a Shamrock Shake – I've thought about Shamrock the dog. So I thought about Shamrock and sipped the shake on my way to Wal*Mart.

And that reminds me. My Ibuprofen supply has dwindled significantly in the past few weeks. Between battling the crud for four weeks and residual stiffness from kayaking, I pretty much cleaned out what little pain medicine I had. So, it seemed like a good time to swing by Wal*Mart.

I've decided that the best thing Laramie's Wal*Mart has going for it is the view from the parking lot. The store sits on a tract of land near the Interstate, on a rise on the east side of town. It doesn't feel like it as you drive there, but it probably sits 200 feet or so above campus, so from the parking lot you can see not only the, uh, Laramie skyline, but also the Snowy Mountains, 20 miles to the west. Today was a typical late winter scene: rows of gray curtains drifted toward town, and the Snowies' peaks were hidden in swirls. But for all the ragged clouds, I got the distinct impression that Spring is on its way.