Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Have Another Case of Duggaritis

What is it that compels me to click on Duggar links or turn the remote to their show even though I know I'm shaving IQ points off my brain every time I watch a video or program featuring their family?  I cannot help myself. It's somewhat like my trichotillomania, which, by the way, is  getting much better. On the other hand, I'm merely substituting one compulsion for another one. What's worse, pulling one's hair out by the handful or being drawn to clips of the Duggars? I'm not sure there's a clear-cut answer to this question.

I saw the episode where the Duggars toured the Great Wall of China. Any trip, even if it's to the nearest ant hill, must begin with a JimBob narration  stating the historical context a la Mr. Obvious of the "Bob and Tom" radio program. Then the Duggars begin their descent up the wall. The steps bother the Duggar offspring. Some of the younger Duggars worry that they'll fall down those steps and never see their mother and father again. At the risk of sounding rude, if I were  a young Duggar, this would for me be not so much a worry as a fantasy or pipe dream.

Then you see all however many Duggars there are by the time you count spouses, the next generation, and shirt-tail reltionship taggers-along, a number which appears to approach the triple digits. One cannot help but wonder about the colossal carbon footprint being left in the wake of any Duggar entourage visit anywhere. The diapers have to go somewhere (or at least the human by-product has to go somewhere), or has Michelle figured out a way to make her daughters potty train the babies before they reach the age of one month, presumably to help manage the family budget? Surely she wouldn't advocate early potty traning for environmental reasons, or she wouldn't have spawned more children than can fit into a regulation basketball game at a given time.

One clip shows the Duggar grandchildren in their Easter finery. The little girl looks respectable and appropriate enough in her purple-topped and white feathery-bottomed dress, but little whatever his name is, Maackenzie's baby brother, looks as though he is dressed in materials even the Salvation Army or the Goodwill Store couldn't have sold. It reminded me of that part in The Sound of Music  when Captain von Trapp  didn't approve of Maria's dress. It went something like:

Captain:"Put on another dress before meeting the children. "
Maria: "But I don't have another.
When we enter the abbey, our worldly clothes go to the poor."
Captain: "What about this one?"
Maria: "The poor didn't want it."

I suspect the poor would've rejected Baby Grandson Duggar's Easter finery as well.

A Duggar blog maintained not by the family itself but by two people who are either zealots or stalkers (there's a fine line) talks about the Duggars' Easter preparations and celebrations. For one thing, the Duggars do not use the evil word Easter.  Don't ask me what's evil about the word Easter, as I haven't a clue.  Instead they call it Resurrection Sunday.  If they really want to change the name of a holiday, more power to them, but many people all over the world manage to convey the true meaning of Easter to their children (I'm not necessarily saying that my own parents are among these people; my brother and I were really into our chocolate Easter bunnies and other confections) without changing the name of the holiday. The Duggars don't decorate eggs. Instead, under the direction of the older girls,  the little ones bake heart and cross cookies and frost them.  Is it really all that much  more sanctified to frost and eat a cross than to do the same to a rabbit- shaped cookie?  I need to shut up before I go off on a tangent about South Park's spoof of the DaVinci Code.


The Easter Parade, and Precisely What It Did or Didn't Have to Do with Jesus Having Died on the Cross for Us

In order to avoid an embarrassing public mother-daughter argument in a store, my mom always brings home three or four dresses before Easter, and I choose one of them to wear to church that day. I'm not sure exactly what the big deal is.  Why can I not wear a dress I already own? It's  not as though I've had anything reselmbling a growth spurt.

When Jesus was up there dying on the cross, I doubt he had in mind any sort of fashion parade each year all over the western world commemorating either his horrendous suffering and death or his emergence from the tomb, but some things are simply not worth fighting over. My mom says that since I don't complain about the Easter candy that appears in my basket each year, I have to go along with the new dress routine. At least she doesn't, thank God,  make me wear a hat.  I put her on notice that this is the final "Easter dress" year. I may buy a new dress next year for Easter, or  I may not, but my mom will not buy the dress, nor will she even be in the same shopping mall, much less in the store with me,when it happens.

We're leaving for mass in thirty-five minutes. my hair and makeup are done except for lipstick/lip glass.. My makeup is neutral since I haven't chosen my dress. At least I finally got my mother out of the Zulilly Company when choosing dresses. Matthew simply must get married and produce a  female offspring as soon as possible so that my mother  can obsess over dressing her rather than me.  Anyway, here are the four options. If you weigh in before 8:40 .m. PDT, I'll consider your opinion, but since it's highly ulikely you'll even see this before then, I'll let you know after the fact what I chose.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March Madness and the Deaths of My Parents' First Twins

March Madness, which is the time when college basketball comes to a climax -- when conferences conclude their own tournaments and when the NCAA draws up and begins its tournament which will culmnate in the final game and national championship -- is now upon us. It's something my dad, uncles, and brother look forward to with eager anticipation each year.  Bets and pools are made, and much fanfare sorounds each televised game, and even some that maybe are not. (Maybe all are televised. I admit to some ignorance.)

I think they start out with sixty-four teams, though again I plead ignorance and admit that I may be incorrect. When it's down to eight remaining games, the teams are referred to as the "sweet sixteen." When those games haveconcluded and only four games remain, the teams still in contention are the "elite eight." Then it's on to the "final four," followed by the national championship. Thought it's termed "March Madness,"  since that's when the bulk of the action takes place, it usually concludes early in April.

For my mom, March Madness is an association that dredges up very unhappy memories. My twin brothers (they were twins but not my twins; I hope I'm explaining it clearly enough) were born and died during the height of March Madness. I believe my mom and dad left for the hospital during the University of North Carolina   vs. Ohio Stae game. It may have been the round of 16, but I'm guessing.  My father was a loyal Cal fan, but tended to root for North Carolina in basketball when Cal wasn't in it  or had been eliminated.  My father might have cared about the outcome of the game, but had the sensitivity not to indicate to my mom that he was concerned about a basketball game when their babies' lives were on the line. My mother was hemorrhaging.

My parents reached the hospital, it was determined that her placenta had separated from the wall of the uterus, which was the cause of the bleeding. There was no time to attempt to get the babies out the conventionl way, so an emergency Caesarean section was performed. The babies were born weighing, and I may be off by a few ounces though I'm sure I'm close, one pound eight ounces and one pound one ounce. The smaller baby was suctioned and took a few breaths but then stopped, and the doctors were unable to revivie him. The larger of the two clung to life h=for two days and a couple of hours, but then the decision was made that they were only prolonging the inevitable - that his major organs were not ready to function -- and the difficult decision to turn off life support was agreed upon by my parents. If my dad wasgiving the slightest thought to what was happening in the world of college basketball, he had the decency not to mention it. Since it's now past midnight and technically March 30 here, yesterday, March 29, was the anniversary of his death.

The period between March 27 (the day of the earlier twins' birth and the day of the smaller baby's death)  and March 29 (the anniversary of the larger babys death) is always difficut for my mother. It's probably hard for my father, but he deals with it differently. All the basketbll that's going on seems to bring up the unpleasant memories all the more. For several years my dad used to not watch the NCAA tournament for my mom's benefit, or at least only if he was atsomeone else's house,but he knew my mom needed him around, so going elsewhere to watch the games wasn't a viable option.  Eventually my momtold him that life had to go on -- that basketball didnt cause her to loise the babies -- and that he should watch the NCAA tournament.

She says she tries to look at it on the bright side, if there is a bright side to losing premature twins. Had the babies lived, they likely would have been severely disabled. that might have made having more children an impracticality for them, as dealing with two severely disabled children is both  time- and emotion-draining. Had the babies lived and been healthy, they probably would have stopped having children under those circumstances as well, as they had planned to have two children.   So matthew and I might not have ever been conceived had the first two babies survivied, healthy or not.  Sad as it was under the best of circumstances, it was a good deal for Matthew and me.  I don't say that to my mother, but it doesn't hurt if I silently look on the bright side. Still, I'll always be sad for my parents and for all their sorrow.

So college basketball now dominates our home from mid-to-late March until early April. If it bothers my mom,  she never lets on, although I'm not sure how she can totally fail to make the association.

Christopher and Nicholas, I miss you though I never met you, and I wish you a belated happy birthday.

Methods of Meteorologists, Etc.

 I spent my beach time today wearing those goggle-type sunglasses that cataract surgery patients have to wear. I'm sure every male on the beach was tremendously attracted by the look. C'sst la vie. I wanted to go to the beach. Depending upong which weather forecaster IK choose to believe, and I'm beginning to believe all of them either toss a coin or use one of those kiddie toy magic 8-balls, anyway, the weather may or may not be conducive to beach   activity. I may be so determined to spend time on the beach that I will don rain geat and Isit on the beach in the midst of a downpour. DoI really care if anyone thinks I'm bat-shit crazy. when they see my skanky school wardrobe next week, they'll think so anyway, so what's the difference?

          My computer is wacked. It's setting margins when it has not asked to do so. I don't have enough
          cash without dipping into saving, which I do not wish to do at this point, so I must either learn to
          work with it or steal on of my parents' laptops. There's an extra desktop that came withmy room.
          I can use it until I work out the problem. My cousin, the Mormon mishie who went into early
          retirement, will be here tomorrow. Sometimes he can repari such things. In a worst-case
          scenario, I'll replace it, but I don't want to part with the money. I'd rather spend it on my new
          slut look, which will cost a fraction of what a new computer would cost, anyway.

          I got to spend a little more time with the new baby twins. Their paternal grandmother was
          hanging around. The woman is seriously touched. She kept trying to do adjustments on their feet
          that   would improve their eating and sleeping. My uncle Scott and Uncle Bret finally took both
          babies away.  wonder if the woman was born crazy, if she chose to be that way, or if a traumatic
          event  in her life causedher to go bonkers. She's gone now, anyway, much to everyone's relief.

          The crazy lady has  a seventeen-year-old daughter and an eleven-year-old son still at home.
          The daughter is staying here for the rest of the week. she's a nice enough girl, especially
          considering who spawned her. the girl is seriously something like six inches taller than I am.

          Tomorrow i beach day, rain or shine. I hope to see you there.



Friday, March 29, 2013

Alexis, the Girl Who Dresses Like A Slut: A Social Experiment

                                 possibly part of my new temporary "look"

I was considering that between some of the more flexible wardrobe items I own, a few I could borrow, and a few I could pick up cheaply with a miniscule amount of the money I've recently earned, I could make myself look really trashy for the first two weeks of classes next quarter. A few of the other students and professors, particularly those in the music department, will have been in classes with me prior to this and will wonder what the hell is up with my new haute couture, but most will be complete strangers to me, as this is a huge campus. They'll assume it's my normal style of attire. Impressions will be made on such. It will be interesting to see how those first impressions color my classmates'and professors'  perceptions and are or are not altered as I reveal myself to be the achiever that I normally am.

One aspect of trashiness not available to me is prominent display of cleavage. If you don't have it, it isn't an easy look to create on a shoestring budget.

I can store the trampy clothing in my dorm room and put it on at school so my parents will not have cause to wonder what the hell is happening with me. It's not that they would or even could prevent me from leaving the house in such raiment; it just gives them one less thing to gossip about  regarding me with their friends.. My dorm neighbors will wonder why I walk into my dorm room every morning looking relatively preppie and come out looking like a skank, but it will give their vacuous minds something to think about, as God and everyone else knows that they're certainly not thinking about their studies.

There's no real point to doing this except that I'm a bit tired of being invisible. Some might say being invisible is preferable to having everyone think you're a floozy, but I beg to differ. Besides, it's temporary.  I don't plan to dress in this manner every day all quarter. I'll apply the look judiciously if arbitrarily.

Then I'll store the streetwalker wardrobe away in my dorm romm. On random days of random weeks, I'll drag a few items of hussy apparel out and wear them again for no apparent reason. Then I'll go back to my ordinary preppie look. It will cause people to wonder about me, which at least means most of them will at least be aware of my presence. If they think I'm certifiably insane, I don't have a huge problem with it, as I happen to know that several of them are certifiable morons. They may not have been such before they arrived here, but the peculiar combinations of booze and drugs that entered their systems since showing up have rendered them as such.  So if  some of my classmates think I'm bat-shit crazy and I think some of them are idiots, it's a fair and just  case of reciprocal judgmentalism.

If this seems to be attention-seeking behavior, such is probably a reasonably accurate impression. I admit to going through an odd phase. I don't want a professor, when he reads my essay answer aloud, to announce that it was my test he was quoting. I  don't like it when I don't have time to straighten my hair and people comment on its extreme curliness. Not to be racist, but when I was little and my skin tanned in the summer (I no longer tan quite so readily, and I also apply sunblock because I know what the sun can do to unprotected skin) I fumed when people asked or assumed that I was bi-racial. I don't  want anyone to look at the scar that is still somewhat visible on my leg (I'm still applying Mederma faithfully, and I think it's still helping to cause the scar to fade, and at least the bone is perfectly straight now; the surgeons did a very nice job in that respect) that they usually don't have a chance to see, because in regular classes I wear clothing that covers it. I don't necessarily like being singled out by the professor as the only student in my music theory class with absolute pitch.

On the other hand, it doesn't bother me when grades are posted by the last four digits of student ID numbers, and the other students talk amongst themselves and decide the highest score has to be mine.  I don't mind it when the professors only ask me questions if they've exhausted every other poetntial source for an intelligent response. I don't care when the theory prof  writes sets of intervals or a line of  music on the board and asks everyone to come up with the interval or the melody without humming it aloud, but tells me I cannot anwer because it's too easy for me.  I'm not bothered  by being more skilled in a gym full of non-gymnasts.  It doesn't bug me if I get called out of my theory class because there's an accompaniment that the chamber choir accompanist cannot sightread.

There are areas, good or bad,where we all wish to fade into the woodwork, and there are other areas, sometimes not al that different than the ones we do not wish to be recognized for, for which  we're perfectly content to be be noticed. At times there's no logical explanation for the reason for which each falls into its respective category. It's intangible and inexplicable -- partly teen angst and  partly who we are, and that we cannot always impact the way we feel.

We can, however, impact what we choose to do about how we feel. I choose to look like an underaged nymphomanic if I so desire, and it is what I so desire [at school] at this time. I don't particularly want to explain my rationale either to my Uncle Steve or to my Uncle Scott. (Oddly enough, I think my dad would get it, and very little explanation to him would be required.) I think for me, it's really about control. If my classmates who don't know me are going to look at me funny anyway, I may as well control the reason for the discomforting stares.

Classes will start on Monday, and  I'll tell you then about the results of the beginning of my social experiment.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Baby Kristina, the Party Animal

                                                  Not the Real Baby Kristina

Last night, as no one in the house was getting any sleep because the baby for whom we were caring had no intention of sleeping, my pseuduouncle made the rather sickly facetious comment, "Wouldn't it be great if you could play with babies until you got tired of them, and then just stick them in a drawer or something and close it until you felt like playing with them again?"  We all know that's not how the real world works, although there are probably parents and caretakers who are just psycho enough to do some such thing.  Most of them, I hope, will end up in prison, or at least separated from their babies for life. For the record, pseuduncle was joking and would never even think of mistreating an infant or child.

Baby Kristina is a twin. Her fraternal twin sister (I'd love to share actual pictures, but the babies' parents are paranoid) who looks so much like her that only their mother, their maternal grandmother, and my pseudoaunt can tell them apart at this point. That's in the daytime.  At night, they're easily distinguished from one another, because Baby Jillian is fed, then goes to sleep. She may wake up for another feeding or two, but then goes right back to sleep. Baby Kritina, on the other hand, is prone to a state of wakefulness in general. She catnaps about six minutes out of every hour so that she'll be awake and won't miss anything for the other fifty-four minutes of the hour, twenty hours around the clock,with about a four-hour stint of sleep in the wee hours of the morning, when little is happening, anyway. One would think she wouldn't grow and thrive on so little sleep, but, while neither twin is breaking any records for growth and weight gain, she's maintaining pace with her sister. She eats just a little more, but it takes more energy to be awake practically around the clock.

Last night  pseudouncle swaddled her and did all the stuff one is supposed to do in order to induce an infant to sleep. She didn't care. She enjoyed the attention, but once he put her in her bassinet, she first did her version of talking, which became angrier and angrier unti it turned to all-out screaming. Some experts would have said, "Let her scream it out," but she's not our baby, and we didn't take her for the night so we could listen to her scream.  Jillian got her up, and we put her on a blanket on the floor and listened to her babble, sing, or whatever it was she did for the next few hours. We could have watched her in shifts, but everyone was having fun with her and no one had to work the next day, so we all stayed up and enjoyed her.

The twins are still only eight pounds each, which is roughly the size of an ordinary newborn, so they still fit easily into a bassinet, though at some point they will be too mobile to be in something with such low walls.  They were a little early and each weighed four pounds, two ounces at birth, but, despite their small size, they seem to be reaching milestones at appropriate ages. They can turn over if not swaddled, and eventually they'll be able to break free of the blankets that bind them, so they'll soon be in full-sized cribs.

Eventually Kristina got hungry, so I fed her a bottle of formula. The mom breastfeeds both of them all day, but takes turns at night so that the father can be responsible for one of them. They trade off babies so the twins take turns being breast-fed at night. There's some expressed and stored milk, but they also supplement with formula at night. After I fed her, I sang her Billy Joel's "Goodnight, My Angel," and she conked out from about 4:00 a.m. until her father showed up at 8:00 a.m. to pick her up. I think she usually dropa off in the wee hours of the morning. Her mom said she usually lies down on the floor with Kristina on a blanket and dozes while Kristina makes all her noises, then wakes up all the way when she needs to be fed, then puts her in her bassinet when she finally crashes.

My Aunt Ilianna feels that this is terrible parenting, and it probably is, but everyone is healthy, and the parents aren't going crazy yet.  At some point the parents will be desperate enough to inlist the services of my Aunt Ilianna, who is something of a baby whisperer and will be able to get Kristina on a schedule in about two days, but this baby may always be one who doesn't need as much sleep as the average child. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, we have a wild and crazy baby on our hands. The picture above is obviously not actually of her. I tried to find a reasonably facsimile, but her parents would neither allow an actual picture of her nor allow me to have her pierced insuch a manner even if they weren't practicing Mormons.



Butter has good and bad uses as far as I'm concerned.  It's a horrible source of saturated fat. Margarine was inititally touted as the great solution to butter and its saturated fat issues, but, like any "perfect solution,"  the verdict sometimes doesn't come in for quite awhile after it's been in use, and, furthermore, margarine tastes much like what I would imagine pureed rabbit dung to taste. The verdict, of course, eventually came in regarding margarine in the form of the knowledge that the trans-fat substances were more harmful than the saturated fat found in butter.

I detest the greasy, slimy texture of unmelted butter or even the overall greasiness of melted butter unless poured over a whole lot of popcorn. My brother makes a medium-sized bowl full of popcorn with our hot air popper, then melts half a cube of butter and drenches the popcorn with it.  Just watching him eat the concoction makes me nearly physically ill. I can eat butter on toast when the toast is lightly buttered and the butter is thoroughly melted into the toast. i can eat it on baked or broiled garlic bread. I can eat it when it's an ingredient in a cookie, cake or similar recipe, or if it's in an alfredo sauce recipe. I can't spread butter on a roll or piece of bread and eat it in its congealed state.  if someone handed me a pat of butter and forced me to eat it, I would for sure toss my cookies. In fact, the amount of money I'd have to be goiven to eat a piece of butter in its cold, congealed form would have to be at least one million dollars.  Just thinking about it is starting to make me nauseous. Butter in its congealed form or by itself is most definitely on my Donner Party List.

Though I've explained the situation over and over to him, my dad continues to be a complete smartass when it comes to my relationship with butter.  if he sees me pick up a homemade cookie, he grabs it out of my hand and says, "You can't eat that. It has butter in it," though I've thoroughly explained to him in what forms I can and cannot consume butter.  He just can't grasp the distinction. Tonight my mom is making garlic bread to go with spaghetti. I'll have the same argument with my dad that I have everytime something with butter as an ingredient that is edible in my book is served. 

In thelong run, it would be simpler just to go to the drive through at In & Out Burger.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Corneal Abrasions and Babies

My eye problem is a corneal abrasion. My pseudorelative cultured it, and there's no infection. I don't kow exactly how it happened, but it probably happened during the few minutes I was on a snowmobile with no protetive eye gear. It's a mistake I will not make again.  I have various drops and even a narcotic to use if absolutely necessary. It should clear up in four or five days.

Tonight I'm spending the night at the pseudorelatives' home. They're taking care of one of their twin infant nieces overnight. The mother breastfeeds onlyone baby at night so that she gets at least  few minutes' sleep. They typically alternate which baby is breastfed and which one is bottle-fed. The father takes cares of the bottle-fed baby for the night. We're giving him a break. We can't take both twins because the mother would spend the whole night pumping to avoid becoming uncomfortably engorged. She'll get more restjust keeping one baby with her.

I get to take one of the overnight feeding shifts. The baby was breastfed just before hse got here less than two hours ago.   She has two bottles of breast milk and one bottle of formula, plus extra formula in the event that she should be hungrier than usual. The breast milk is better for her, but the formula is more filling, and she'll sleep for longer, so she's getting that at midnight.  Her next feeding, whenever she asks for it,will be formula. I talked Scott and Jillian into allowing me to give her the next bottle, because I'm worried she'll sleep so well that she won't need another bottle and her father will show up early to pick her up and  I won't get a turn at giving her a bottle. I never said I'm not selfish.

I don't have the baby's parents' permission to post any pictures of her, but I doubt they'll
complain about pictures of her feet appearing in an obscure blog.


Separated at Birth: Twin Brothers from Other Mothers

Separated at birth?

On the left is Steven E. Feldon, M.D., neuro-ophthalmologist extraodinaire (among other areas of expertise, he specializes in Graves' Disease and related thyroid ophthalmopathy, who authored the textbooks concerning thyroid ophthalmopathy being used in medical schools today) and holder of additional degrees including an MBA. Dr. Feldon  invents ophtalmic equipment  and devices (if you've had your eye opressure checked recently, chances are that it was done with the use of a device invented by Dr. Feldon) in his spare time when not conducting his duties as Director of the Bausch and Lomb Department of  Ophthalmology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

On the right is Thomas S. Monson, Grand Pooh Bah  (or Presdeint and Prophet, Seer, and Revelator) of the Church  of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

To be fair, I believe Dr. Feldon is more than a few years younger than [President]  Monson.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

There's No Place Like Home (click heels together three times)

We flew out of Utah and got 'home a few  hours  ago. Spending time in the snow was a somewhat unusual spring break activity. Now I'm back to more typical spring break terrain, except that the drunken revelers have gone elsewhere, which is something I don't totally get.  I understand that the thing to do is to go elsewhere to drink yourself  practically but not quite comatose, but when your university is located in one of the greatest beach spots on the west coast, why would you really want to go elsewhere? If I were the "spring break" type, I'd drink myself senseless right here.  Still. I won't exactly miss the frat rats and their ilk for the rest of this week while they're elsewhere.

I picked up some sort of eye infection or inflammation or something. It's far from serious, but  I cannot see very well because of the ointment I put in it just to make it more comfortable until I can see a doctor. I'm spoiled in that I don't usually visit doctors in their regular hours. I called my pseudorelative Gerard, who is an ophthalmologist. He's bringing home enough equipment and medications that if it's anything routine, which I'm confident that it is, he can treat it at his house in an hour or two after work. My dad is his Godfathr, which therefore obligates him to take care of me for life. It's a good system as far as it works for me.  In return, I'll babysit his kids one night this weekend or next so he and his wife can go out for dinner and a movie.

Please excuse typos. I cannot see well enough to know that they exist.

Later tonight  I'll get to see the  baby twins -- Jared's cousins -- I missed seeing in Utah. They were born a month early and each weighed four pounds, two ounces. They've grown some, as would be expected, but even  at three months, they're still on the small side at about eight pounds.  They're supposedly healthy and are reaching developmental milestones at appropriate ages; they're just tiny. It remains to be seen whether they'll remain on the smallish side or if it's just taking them awhile to catch up in that regard.Now, with the eye thing, I'll probably have to wear latex glovess to hold them, but I've been through worse inconveniences.

It's a bit windy here. Going to the beach didn't seem like the very best thing for my eye, so I'll wait a day, but I won't stay away forever. The water is firgid. Only little kids and surfers are studip enough to go in past their ankles, but I can enjoy the sand, sun, and waves just the same.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Jared and I did some snowmobiling today after my recording session. It was an absolute blast, i had never ridden a snowmobile before.

I received pay for the work I've n=done in the studio so fr. It's supposedly less than half of what the total will be, but it will keep me out of my savings for awhile.

Tomorrow we're leaving in the afternoon. The snow was nice, but the beach will be nicer.

I watched "Dancing With the Stars" tonight. It was a colossal waste of time. Remind me not to watch it again. The celebrities aren't even celebrities anymore.  The dancers are more famous than the "stars" are now. Soon the producers will need to resort to using Muppets, animated characters, famous criminals, and World Wrestling Federation "wrestlers" (AKA "actors") to stock the lineup. Those are the depths to which the show has sunk. I certainly hope that Judge Alex has the good sense to steer clear of the whole fiasco. Even if my aunt is wrong and Judge Alex doesn't actually dance like a Rock'em Sock'em Robot, I fail to see how  his participation in the show could have a good outcome for him.

Delilah, Sinner That I Am

                                                    Delilah,my new alter-ego

While most of the rest of Utah sat in church, or spent the remainder of the day playing boring games like Mormonopoly with their children,  Jared and I snowboarded. Some of his LDS relatives who live here were horrified. Of course I got the blame. Others took it less seriously. His Uncle Joel has started addressing and referring to me as Delilah and warning Jared to watch out because I'm plotting to chop off his hair (he's let it grow a bit past missionary standards) when he's asleep.  I somewhat like the sound of Delilah.  If I happened to become Mormon and go through the temple, I wonder if I could get the  Powers That Be to give me Delilah as my new temple name? Probably not. I've heard it doesn't exactly work that way and that they don't take requests.

We weren't really the only people on the slopes today. That would've way  cool. There were just enough tourists and/or  fellow sinners to maintain wait time in the lift lines.

I'm actually more of a skier than a snowboarder. I snowboarded for the first time about fifteen months ago and found it an easy enough transition from skiing. I opted to snowboard rather than ski because my pseudaunt has snowboarding equipment in my size here in Utah. I would have needed to pay rental fees for skiis. When in doubt, I'll go for the freebies.  Jared kept all his snow gear at his grandparents' home when his parents moved to California, so he could have skied or snowboarded. It was nice of him to have kept me company. His parents now have a vacation home in Utah in addition to their regular house in California, so he'll eventually move his stuff over there. He wanted to stay there for this trip, but his parents were probably worried that I would sneak over there with him and temptation might give way to fornication or some similar evil. It wouldn't have, but I understand their concerns. Furthermore, he's a slob and would not have cleaned up after himself.

We're both staying at his grandparents' home at an undisclosed Utah county location. If we were determined to fornicate, opportunities abound. I'm  much more honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, a doer of good to all men, and a follower of the admonition of the Apostle Paul than for which most people give me credit.  Nothing has happened that couldn't have happened without any fireworks in front of either of our parents.

I probably should retire to bed soon so that my lovely pseudo-eleven-year-old voice will be at its best for tomorrow's recording session. The music producer is finding that he struck gold. Most eleven-year-olds don't sight-read vocally as well as I do. He doesnt have to teach me the songs. He just throws the charts at me and I sing them.

In terms of an audio, I'm considering the logistics. My equipment sucks, as I explained earlier, but its not as though it does not do justice to my voice or anything like that. Finding a suitable song is a dilemma. It would sound like auditory pornography if I sang something sexy.  On the other hand, I don't want to sing anything from Annie (I don't have one of those bowl 'em over Andrea McArdle voices, anyway) and I'm not partial to Disney songs. I don't think anyone wants to hear me singing hymns. I'll think about it and come up with something suitable. It won't happen right away, but it will happen.

Bon soir, anyone who's psycho enough  to still be awake, or has to work nights.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Hero, the Seagull

A trip to Salt Lake City isn't really a trip to Salt Lake City if you don't  drive past The Seagull Monument and pay homage or whatever it is people do when they see the Seagull Monument. Yesterday when I flew in to SLC, the music producer and his wife and two little boys picked me up at the airport.   They insisted upon the requisite drive past the seagull monument. They really wanted me to stand in front of it for a photo op, but I talked them out of it, as I've done SLC a few dozen times. I offered to take their picture standing in front of The Seagull Monument. but it seems that they've done SLC a few times as well.

The monument isn't as historically significant to me as it is to those whose ancestors crossed the plains and were the first white people to settle the territory. In their situations, they wouldn't exist, or at least most likely not in their present forms, had the seagulls not come along and eaten the locusts that were destroying the first year's crop.  Without the success of that first crop, most likely many or all the settlers would have starved to death. This was the mid 1800's. There were no airplanes or helicopters to airlift food to the Salt Lake Valley's settlers. Even had they gotten word to the people on either coast in a timely manner, it wouldn't have been easy to find a large enough group to tote sufficient food  across either the Great Plains and Rockies or the Sierra Nevada in time  to save everyone. From the east coast, the distance was great, and the Mormons hadn't made themselves terribly popular. From the west coast, there weren't all that many prospeous people at the time -- people there were barely eking out a living looking for gold -- and even on that coast the Mormons had made a few enemies.  Had those locusts finished off the crop, the ancestors of many people I know today would have perished in the famine that surely would have ensued.

The women  and children first, later joined  by the men, were out in the fields, beating away the locusts, or "Mormon crickets," as they're commonly called, but were fighting a losing battle. Then, seemingly out of nowhere,  came huge flocks of hungry seagulls. Those seagulls ate the locusts in droves, reportedly then flying off in the distance to empty the contents of their stomachs so that they could come back to eat more.  It seems that bulimia isn't limited to the human species.

It's hard to believe that, seagulls or not, the territory that is now called Utah would not have eventually been settled by Caucasians, but it very likely wouldn't be the unique place that it is today. Some say this would have been a good thing. I, myself, appreciate diversity even if it's occasionally of what I would consider a backward and perhaps slightly bigoted variety. Furthermore, without the intervention of the seagulls, thousands of children would have perished of hunger. I don't know if I've ever seen a truly hungry child in real life*,  or at least I didn't know it when I saw him or her,  though I see them all the time on TV commercials imploring us to support various causes, and I've seen many of them in pictures.  A starvingly-hungry child, no matter whose child he or she is, or where he or she lives, or when it happened that the child was or is hungry, is a horrible, horrible thing. Even if a person strongly disagrees with the tenets of Mormonism,  how could a person with a heart not feel grateful that so many children were spared terrible deaths by starvation?

Way to go, seagulls! You did a great thing.

* I've been a hungry child, but that was another story told long ago.

Kolmogorov and Smirnov or whatever the hell their names are can go to hell. I'm finished!

                        the likely view nearTemple Square in two weeks

Actually, I think the entire exam only required the briefest reference to the Kolmogorov-Smirnoff Test, and it was just a matter of stating that it would have applied in a particular risk-determination  instance. The rest of thr exam was a major mindf***, and I felt like climbing on top of my desk and screaming obscenities atthe top ofmy lungs, but I exercised self-restraint and just completed the exam rather than expressing my true feelings. Anyway, if you ever need the risk of anything determined,  I'm qualified to determine skewness  (or skewedness, if you prefer), platykurtic and leptokurtic distributions, and a few other things. (If you want to make someone really mad, call him or her a leptokurtic; it basicaly means nothing in that sense, but the person will hve no clue, and will feel totally disrespected.) Actually, if you need the risk of anything determined, think long and hard about it and do whatever you feel like doing. When all is said and done, I suspect that's what the actuaries really do.

I did three hours of recoding this morning and will do another three or four on Monday. This is Utah. We don't worK on Sundays here.  While the Mormons are in church tomorrow, Jared (who is sort of a Mormon but isn't going to let that get in the way of having a little fun) and I are going to Sundance to snowboard. All the lifts are still supposedly open. I'm using my pseudoaunt's clothing and gear with her permission, and Jared's uncle's letting him use some so neither of us had to pack so heavily.

We're meeting up with Jared's cousin Alyssa and a friend of hers today and going to a movie and to dinner. I hope to get to see Jaared's newest little cousins at least once. They're twins and were born around the first of the year. I saw them right after they were born, but they were still  red and shriveled up. I've heard they've gotten much cuter since.

After working on Monday, we'll find something else fun to do. I'd love to stir up controversy by handing out anti-Mormon literature at Temple Square, but I'm not actually that much of an anti-Mormon; I'd just be doing it for fun. Furthermore, I don't own any anti-Mormon literature to distribute, and don't wish to waste precious vacation time creating any. With my luck, I'd get arrested and have to be bailed out of jail and would never hear the end of it. So I probably won't be handing out anti-Mormon literature at Temple Square. The prime time for doing that, besides, is in two weeks, during General Conference.  It's like the Mardi Gras for anti-Mormons. If you're going to visit Bourbon Street, do it during the Mardi Gras, and if you're going to hand out anti-Mormon tracts, do it during General Conference. It's that simple.

Happy spring break to those presently in the midst of it. To others, vacation time will eventually arrive.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Schizophrenia, Insane Finals, and Twisted Sister

My last final starts at 9:30 tomorrow morning. I probably know the material as well as I could ever know it. Still, I can't just walk away from it, go to bed, and leave it alone for the night.  It has penetrated my brain and has invaded every aspect of my consciousness. I'm sure if I tried to sleep and were successful, I would dream of inverse Gaussian distributions, compound Poisson processes, cumulative distributive function, probability distribute function, leptokurtosis, platykurtosis, and their ever-important adjective forms, leptokurtic (a distribution's kurtosis that is greater than three), and platykurtic (a distribution's kurtosis that is less than three). This doesn't even begin to address the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test,which primarily establishes either whether in empirical distribution differs from an ideal distribution, or whther two empirical distributions ar significsantly different.

I sense a big yawn and a "Who gives a shit?' from the other end of this cyber-connection. I sympathize, as it isn't of prime importance to me at this time, either, although my grade in the course is.  To me, it seems as though the content of this particular course is of the sort that I'd like to remain in my brain for just long enough to get through tomorrow's final. Then I'd probably wish for it to go away as though the course, or at least my enrollment in it, never happened. Such might not be wise, however.

Let's be hypothetical, here. Not everything in the practice of medicine is neat and clean or conducted under controlled and ideal circumstances. Anyone involved in medicine, be that person a paramedic to a certified nursing assistant to a surgeon  will, if he or she remains in the field for long enough, witness one or more truly horrific sights. I've seen a little of it myself from the other side -- I saw my own tibia and fibula protruding through my skin, exposing flesh and connective tissue, with blood spurting everywhere it could reach.  Furthermore, medical school, medical internship and residency, and medical practice will expose a participant in any or all of the aforementioned to at least a limited element of trauma.  I think  I'm equipped to deal with the trauma. Sometimes the medical personnel are going to win, and sometimes they're going to lose. I've been around enough doctors to know that any physician, surgeon, or whoever, is going to have some great successes and highly rewarding moments, but is also going to have a few dismal failures -- to lose a patient or two (or three, for four, for five, or . . . .) on the ER gurney, O.R.  table, or elsewhere.

In some cases,  time will be the crucial factor in a patient's death.  Sometimes nothing under the sun will have changed the outcome. Sometimes it will be medical error that results in  a patient's death. Doctors are only human, and even insurers recognize that once in a great while, a doctor is going to make a mistake that will cost a life. It had better not happen often as far as the hospital mortality review board and the malpractice insurance carriers are concerned, but it WILL happen. I think I'm equipped to deal wih this when it does happen. I don't expect for it to be easy, but I think  I'm enough of a realist to know that it will be gut-wrenching and will cause some temporary depression, but that I will eventually move on. It's also one of the reasons for maintaining a professional distance between oneself and one's patients. Grieving for the loss of a patient in a professional sense is difficult enough without adding the grief that accompanies the loss of  someone who has become a close person friend.  Occasionally boundaries will be crossed and this will happen, but it cannot be habitual if a person is to succeed in the medical field.

In any event, I think I'm up to all of this, especially as the worst of it will happen in medical school and residency, as I intend to go into pathology.  My dealings with patients in that branch of medicine will be minimal. Still, four years of med school, two of which will include heavy dealings with patients, and probably four year of residency are a lot of years to spend dealing with patients. What if I think I'm up to the rigors of it all  but am not?

My original plan was to enroll in law school as soon as I did my initial year of residency -- my internship. After that, I would be a licensed physician in whatever state with which I cleared matters with the state medical board.  I would work roughly three twelve three-hour shifts (ERs are pleading for MDs even without specializations; for want of doctors, they're utilizing physician's assistants and nurse practitions working as doctors; employment would not be difficult to find)) while attending law school for three years. Following that, I would complete my residency. My hope is that it all works out well, that the law degree is just something that comes in handy if I ever choose to go into hospital administration, or in helping me and my colleagues in dealing with sticky situations. I might also shift courses and defend doctors against malpractice suits.

One other option though, and one that would pay extremely well, if I ever decide that money is extremely important to me, is that I could go to work for a major insurer writing malpractice insurance policies. I wouldn't technically be an actuary, but with this course I'm taking, and with combined law and medical degrees, few insurance coverers would care that my degree had not been in actuarial science. My qualifications would actually exceed those of most actuarial science graduates. If such becomes the case, I would hope to remember every single thing I ever memorized about skewness (or, as some prefer, skewedness), leptokurtosis, and the Kolmogorov-Smiirnov test. It would behoove me not to forget a single thing I learned in this class.

My study partner and I seem to have a better grasp of the course content than does anyone in the class. Study groups are a new experience for me. As a minor, being heavilyinvolved with study partners or groups was not practical. As a  minor, I dealt with the curfew here for minors, which, though not tightly enforced, was a factor for me.  A seventeen-year-old who looked twelve  sent out red flags to campus police and to sheriff's deputies patrolling the off-campus community.  Furthermore, other students didn't really want a minor studying with them who could only study until maybe 10:00 p.m.  Turning eighteen has been for me like discovering that the glass slipper fits and that I'm the real Cinderella, and everything doesn't turned bag]ck into ragged clothing, pumpkins, rats, etc, just because the clock strikes twelve.

Though I still look like a child, I generally have my pick of study partners or groups. In the larger classes, we tend to form ourselves into informal groups and find convenient times to study. In Risk Theory, there's one other guy who "gets it." We've paired up. He's a twenty-four year old MBA candidate. He's  married, which makes things a bit awkward, but we work it out. We usually study at his apartment  when his wife is home.  Once we studied at my house because his wife was at work, but my mom called his wife and told her that she would not leave the house with the two of us there, and that, no offense intended toward the lady's husband, but that she would never leave her daughter alone in a house with a man who wasn't an extremely close relative,  regardless of how much she trusted the man. We've studied about ninety minutes a week, and it's been time well-spent. I expect both of us to ace this course, and, as for the rest of the class, they'll be lucky to pass unless I've really mis-assessed the situation.

A good study partner or group is worth a great deal. I've found the old adage about not judging a book by its cover to be true when it comes to study partners and group members. In my "Hunters and Gatherers" course, we even had a frat rat in our group. He wasn't a bad guy and actually had a brain; he pulled his share of the load, and he did a little to convince me that just because a person is affiliated with the Greek system is not necessarily proof positive that the person is a reprobate.

I've found that I'm not competitive where my study partners'  or groups' grades are concerned. (Perhaps I would be less generous  if they were all getting A's and I was barely pulling B's, but as it stands, if they don't do well, I consider it at least in part my own failure.

In the meantime, do I just stay up and watch TV, or do I try to sleep and risk dreaming about  Poisson processes, among other matters equally counterproductive to quality rest? I would avise anyone to think long and hard before enrolling in  Risk Theory.

Be cruel to your school.
'Cause you may never get another.
Be cruel to your school.
In the name of rock and roll.
Be cruel to your school.
Just like a sister or a brother.
Be cruel to your school.
In the name of rock and roll.

       -- Twisted Sister


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Break! In one More Day!

My "Hunters and Gatherers" final went much as predicted. The three people with whom I studied smiled and sailed through the whole thing. From the rest of the class, I heard groans, and one girl was actually crying. It pays to find smart friends and to  study with them. One of the girls in our study groups isn't all that bright, but she does the readings and takes copious notes, so the others of us include her, and she'll ace the course just as the rest of us will.  No one wants a slacker who isn't very bright in a study group, but someone of at least near-average ability who is willing  to do his or her share of the work is usually welcome even among the top students.

The biggy is tomorrow -- the "Risk Theory" final. I have my ideas about where the prof is going with the final exam. I've been fairly accurate in predicting what would be on the other exams, so I'm hoping that I'm equally clairvoyant this time.

I'm so incredibly ready for  break that I would probably take one even if it were not scheduled.  I'll do my recording stint in Utah, and then I'm home to relax. I'll  lie around on the beach, do a little diving, and maybe even a little running and hurdling if my legs are strong enough. Other than that, I'll socialize a bit and sleep. I don't have heavy drinking plans on my agenda, but chances are that  at least once my parents will leave and my brother's friends and mine will cautiously and surreptitiously help ourselves to the contents of my parents' liquor cabinet. No one will drive anywhere if he or she is not legal to do so.

Happy spring break, and if your profession is such that you do not get a spring break, I extend to you my condolences.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pine Box or $100,000 Coffin, You're Still as Dead as a Snail That Got Stepped On

Tomorrow morning after my final (there's a time limit on the final so I'm not risking cutting my final short and taking dangerous chances with my grade) I will be rushing off to assist my mom with providing music a t a funeral. I used to do this sort of thing all the time, usually without my mother. She's long pst nedding to supplement her earning by singing or playing at funerals, and the $100 or so that she might earn is a fraction her real hourly wage if she's for-real working, so she only does funerals eitherwhen she knows friends or family of the deceased, or when someone is paying the big bucks. Tomorrow's funeral falls into the latter dategory.

Usually my mom plays piano and organ herself, and if any vocal numbers are called for, she accompanies herself. This is apparently not quite the Catholic brand of wahtever would be considered kosher among the most knowelgdeble and sophisticated among us --- our betters, for want of a better term. The  bereaved of tomorrow's funeral are apparently a just a little bit superior-- a  little classier and more knowledgeable about how Emily Post or Pope Francis would conduct a funeral service than are most of us, and are  willing to play the big bucks to ensure that the send off works out in a manner of which Miss Post and Papa Frances would approve.  I personally do not understand what's low-brow about singing while seated at the piano accompanying oneself, as both  Elton John and Billy Joel do it regularly, as do numerous others, including Brruce Hornsby, Gabe Dixon, and, I've been told, in his day, little Wolfie Mozart,  If these people think having a solist stand in front of the mourners and sing while being accompanied on piano by a pianist less skilled than she,  as opposed to sitting at the piano accompanying herself, I'm willing to allow them to wallow in their ignorance if the price is right. On songs where they want both violin and piano along with the vocals, my mom will play and sing at the same time. Does the cleasslessness of a vocalist singing and accompanying herself disappear once a violin is tossed into this mix? Apparently so. As to why,  I'm growing coinfused, but again, for a three dollars, I'll be confusedfor an hour or two.

I'm still not sure of all the aongs we're doing -- I think there are so many that the mourners will be so happy when we cease with our playing and singing and they can make their escape and  they'll forget they were sad about the departed in the first place. Perhaps that was the plan all along. These people my be smarter than I'm giving their credit for being. Or perhaps not. The dear departed, a woman of seventy-nine, was a lover of music and of the arts. Some of the songs she's chosen are logical selections. "Pie Jesu" by Andrew Lloyd  Weber, is one of my personal favorites. "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress," by Jimmy Webb and recorded by God knows how many artists, while pretty, seems a bit of an odd song for a funeral. It does have a nice violin part, so my mom is faced with the dilemma of having me play the piano for her, or using me as violinist, and making it less classy by playing the piano while she sings. She's opted for the classless version. Regardless, it's a pretty song, but for a funeral?

The deceased wanted  [this was all dictated most precisely in her will] (or wants depending upon how one views such things) a song that was sung at the end of every Andy Williams Show, or at least all of the ones in the later years. I'm not all that familiar with the Andy Williams Show, so I'm not the expert on just how many people would even know this song. It's called "May Each Day." It goes as follows:

May each day in the week be a good day
May the Lord always watch over you
And may all of your hopes turn to wishes
And may all of your wishes come true

May each day in the month be a good day
May you make friends with each one you meet
And may all of your daydreams be mem'ries
And may all of your mem'ries be sweet

The weeks turn to months and the months into years
There'll be sadness and joy, there'll be laughter and tears
But one thing I pray to heaven above
May each of your days be a day full of love

May each day in the year be a good day
May each dawn find you happy and gay
And may all of your days be as lovely
As the one you shared with me today

May each day of your life be a good day
And good night.

It's all fine, I suppose, except that my mom is having to say "good night" to everyone, and the funeral is happening at high noon. Whatever. I suppose less fitting things have been sung at funerals. I know so, in fact.  At one funeral  I had to play and sing "Ghost Riders in the Sky," complete with "whoopie-ti-yi-yays" and "whoopie-ti-yi-yos," which are really at their most apropos when sung by a thirteen-year-old girl without the slightest hint of a western twang in her voice. My mom's been at in the business a little longer, so she's done a few even more bizarre things. She's played and sung "When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along." She's done "Sixty-Five Love Affairs" by  Paul Davis.  She and my dad together have played and sung "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," about twenty-five years ago, before the song was repopularized by the movie The Lion King. (The "mourners" sang along in parts. It was surreal, my parents said) . My mom thinks the single most bizarre piece of music she's ever performed at a funreral was the R& B song "Me and Mrs. Jones." No one in the funeral had the surname "Jones." To each his own.

In conclusion, may each day of your lifetime be a good day, and good night.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Uggghhhh!!! But it's almost over!

The Many Banes of My Existence by Alexis: Uggghhhh!!! But it's almost over!: Finals area upon us, or they're upon me, anway. I've taken two exams already. I don't have  exams for either my gymnastics...

Uggghhhh!!! But it's almost over!

Finals area upon us, or they're upon me, anway. I've taken two exams already. I don't have  exams for either my gymnastics ro tumbling courses. My Music Theory IV instructor has kindly decided that giving me a final exam would be cutting down a tree for no good reason and has agred to give me the A and the number ine finish in class standing  without the final exam. It's not an exam over which  I would have bitten my naisl to the quick, but then, it's two hours I can use to do something else, and it's even more than that when considering the time needed to travel to campus, park, walk to class, walk back to the car, etc. It was an act of kindness on the part of the professor, which is something that seems to be rare around here.   If I have a chance to do this professor a favor in return, I will. She also teaches violin, and in the future she may have a student who is not a trust fund baby whose funds are low and who is in need of an extremely cheap or free acompanist for a senior recital. I'll come through for her and for her student if such is the case.

I took my final yesterday for regional literature. As much as it pained me to do so, I temporarily "forgot" that not every great piece of literature was written in the South. Actually, some good works did come from the south. I focused on To Kill A Mockingbird,  Cold Sassy Tree, and A Confederacy of Dunces. To Kill a Mockingbird was the only really major work to which I devoted major space, and even in doing that, I was taking a chance. The readers, especially if the prof does her own grading, get very weary of reading the same things, or even about the same things  repeatedly.  I included a few references to the works of Janet Holt Giles (they're quite funny in their own way). I gave token mention to  Gone with the Wind  (again at the risk of boring the grader) and the collective works of Mark Twain (I love Mark Twain, incidentally, but I was concerned that whoever grades our tests will get tired of reading about Mark Twain, so I trouched lightly upon his works). If anything wil distinguish my exam from the others, it will be the emphasis on A Confederacy of Dunces, It was a Pulitzer Prize winner. The professor alluded to it in several lectures without mentioning it by name, probably curious to see if anyone would follow up on her subtle hints and check it out. I'll know soon enough if reading it paid off in terms of this exam, but it was a good read, regardless.

I took my final for Theory of Knowledge today. It was fairly comprehensive, but gave a broad base of topics on which to write mni-essays, and allowed students to choose seven of the fifteen on which to write.  I was too lazy even to think. I just wrote essays on the first seven topics. I don't even know what the final eight were. My mother said that is the stupidest thing she's ever heard of. When the final grade comes out, we'll see if it was really that stupid or not. I'll know in about a week.

Tomorrow is my anthropology final (Hunters and Gatherers). It will be interesting to see in what direction the professor goes with this. I suspect it's going to be a single essay on a fairly narrow topic, but I could be wrong. If I had to make a guess, I suspect it may have some connection to the relationship between formal land ownership as an ultimate end to the lifestyle of hunting and gathering, and that obesity and/or overweight may tie in to the topic. The professor is weight-phobic and works in the topic of obesity in the USA into almost every lecture whether or not it is pertinent.  I'd be concerned for those in the class who are overweight (no one in the class is technically obese in my opinion)  and that his bias could potentially impact their grades except that I don't think he has a ghost of a clue as to whom any one of us is, and probably couldn't pick any of us out of a police line-up if five-hundred-thousand dollars were on the line.

On Friday is, for me, the biggie:  Risk Theory. I would expect several questions pertaning to Stochaistic processes, a whole lot of skewdness issues, and hopefully at least something about kurtosis since I did a paper on the topic.  It will probably be roughly half short essay and half problem-solving related to specific cases.   I've studied the subject matter all along, so there's no real reason to panic now. Still, I'll probably take half a klonopin -- enough to calm my jitters but not enough to make me drowsy -- if I can talk my dad into it.

Immediately following my last final on Friday, I'm heading to Utah. My friend Jared will join me there, as he grew up there and has many connections to the place. He's killing time waiting for his mission call to arrive, so he can decide whether to accept the call and strengthen his quadriceps by riding a bike for the next two years, or to instead tell the Committee and the Church as a whole to take a flying cannonball into the polluted Great Salt lake.  I'm going to do a few recordings for an LDS-genre children's cartoon that the father of the children for whom I babysat is the muic producer. I'll only be there until Tuesday and will have the rest of the week off. Utah's a lovely place and all, with all those seagulls and Mormons and Mormon relatives, but I live a quarter of a mile from a beach. Most of the  student population will be deserting the place to go to dirtier and more debaucherous beaches than the ones we have, so it's as though my friends and I will have the place to ourselves. There will be some tourists here, but they don't know the good spots, and I'm certainly not announcing them here. (If you're a regular reader and know where I'm talking about and really want to know something about the place, shoot me an email at and I'll gladly share any secrets I have about the place.)

I'll end with a bizarre verse from a bizarre Paul Simon song ("Duncan") just because I thought it was a rather inventive rhyme scheme near the end. Neither the song itself nor the selected verse  has absolutely anything to do with this post or with my life or with just about anything.  Sometimes random inclusions are fitting.

A young girl in a parking lot
Was preaching to a crowd
Singing sacred songs and reading
From the Bible
Well, I told her I was lost
And she told me all about the Pentecost
And I seen that girl as the road
To my survival
      -- Paul Simon

#    -- the non-arrtist still known as Alexis

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Paddy's Day and a Few New Facts and Tidbits about Guinness

In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, the national holiday of my heritage, i was required byt cultural obligation to down not just my usual half  Guinness maybe twice a week, but instead a full bottle. This left me feeling  little full as well as full of myself, but everyoneaournd me was in a similar state so no one was exactly in a position to compalin. I think the therapeutic value of Guinness for me is best when I limit myself to half a bottle a couple times a week, but that doesn't mean that I can't indulge a bi further for a really good cause, and If, St, Paddy's Day isn't a worthy cause I don't know what would be one. Invasion by the Visigoths, maybe?

Anyway, if one keeps ones mind open and relatively lucid (the key is relative here; being 100% lucid on Saint Patrick's Day is a waste of perfectly good Guinness) one can learn at least one new thing virtually every day of his or her life. today i was able to do just that. I came across a website that listed twenty interesting facts and novelties regarding guiness. I'll give you the website and allow you to peruse at your leisure. I will  insult neither your intelligence nor your ability to read anything without me interpreting it for you. I will, however share just a very few of my favorite intersting tidbits regarding Guinness.

One thing I learned is that Guinness Bubbles are significantly different than the bubbles of any other beer. they're a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen,  which gives a theick head, very little carbonation, and a smooth taste. Advertising executive and atist john Gilroy came up with the 1930's ad campaign, 'Guinness is good for you." A 1930's University of Wisconsin study (maybe not the most objective of academic institutions where alcohol consumption is the subject of a study, though still probably more objexctive in that regard than the univerity I attend) found that Guninnes contained  high anti-oxidnt properties and a hgih iron content. also, the Guinness company that brews stout is affiliated with the guinnes book of World records. A 1954 Guninness executive, Hugh Beave , was an argumentative sort, and chose to use the company's resources to commission an official reference guide to solve all disputes.  The site contains a wealth of information besides what I've shared. Check it out.

Regarding my mom's party, the highlight was pribably when she my mom standing in her Steinway (it's a good thing it was her piano; no amount of drunkenness would make me think it was OK for anyone to stand on my piano, even if the person were a lightweight) singing "Carrickfergus" while my Uncle Scott accompanied her on a harp someone borrowed from someone who knew someone who  owns a harp that is hardly ever used.( If the people had known it was being lent to beople who stand on top of their own pianos, they probably never would have let my relative have it, but no one stood on the harp, anyway, It's not easy to stand on a harp when it's in an upright position. I could probably manage it if I tried, but why would I try?) Anyway, My Uncle Scott, who doesn't actually know how to play the harp, was doing his best to pluck out chords to the song as my mom sang it. Playing a harp when you don't know how is easier thn it sounds, as it is linear, as are the keys of the piano, and follows a logical diatonic progression. Still, that doesn't mean my Uncle Scott didn't make more than a few mistakes while playing this song, "CarrickFergus," while my mom sang it, which to me just made the whole thing funnier. The anount of booze he had probably did nothing to assist him in his technical accurracy, either.

"Carrickfergus" is a song about a woman who lived in -- surprise, surprise -- Carrickfergus when she was young. Now that she's old and feeble, she'd swim across the ocean to get there to her own true love, but he's dead anyway, and besides, she knows she'd drown trying to swim there. (It kind of reminds me of that 80's movie, A Trip to Bountiful.)She needs a handsome boatman to ford her across the sea. There's little point of going there, anyway, as her childhood friends and old relations have all passed on. She probably has some really good genes working in her favor, or maybe she's a Seventh-Day Adventist (statistically, they're supposed to be healthier even thn the Mormons). So now, since there's no other reason left for her to go to Carrickfergus and to that long road that leads to the sea, she just wants the handsome boatman to ferry her there so she can die and the young men can carry her casket to some scenic spot in a graveyard. Isn't this song a barrel of laughs for a party?

My mom and two of her sisters were sobbing before my mom finished singing the song. My dad thought it was about as hysterical as I thought it was. My dad says he doesn't care WHAT my mom's will says: "Carrikfergus" will not be sung at her funeral, rosary, or wake if he outlives her, and he says that if he doesn't and I do, it's my solemn responsibility to make sure that the song is not sung at any function in connection with her death because it's a silly, highly bathos  song.

Erin go Bragh! (My mom's name is Erin.)


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Oh Happy Day, Part One

It's awfully early here on the west coast, so evenfor the Irish who know how to party as well as or better than anyone else, most are still sleeping off last night's pre-party, so not much is going on yet. i was doing a bit of studying because I don't nticipate feeling all that much like it tomorrow or even Monday.

Jared and I decided to take in Matthew's baseball game yesterday since why let something like baseball interfere with Saint P:atrick's Day. my mom has a big bash planned, wich will start as early as noon. She has relatives traveling here from all over the state, so it's senseless form them to drive hours to get here, spend a couple of hour, and drive home.  A few people have made arrangements to sleep over, but many must work tomorrow. Don't worry in the eventthat you'll be traveling on california's highways, or don't worry about my mother's drunken revelers, anyway, as all have designated drivers.

my mom's bes friend teaches preschool. It's a specail sort of preschool for kids who qualify for any special services. she has children who merely have lisps, and she'll teach them to read before they even go off to knindergarten. she also has severely autistic children and those with othere severe and multiple disabilities. It's a complete spectrum in terms of range of ability. Anyway, she spent Friday afternoon after school getting her classroom ready to look as though the leprechauns came in and trashed the room. she's been telling them all month about how things like this used to happen, but how it should probably be OK now because of the school's really sophisticated alarms that won't allow anyone into the buildings after hours.  she told them that leprechauns are not mean or bad, just silly and fulll of mischief, but she told them it's a pretty safe bet that nothing will happen this year.

She's going to keep the door locked until everyone is there unless someone is significantly late. Then tey'll open the door to find green leprechaun footprints all over the place, toys thrown all over the floor silly little scribbly drawings on the white board, thr alphabet letters out of sequence, children's artwork turned upside down,  and green urine (unflushed) in the toilet.  she siad it's one of her favorite days of the year, and that it's oneof the few pre-school memories many of the preschoolers arry with them many years later.

When I was banned from gymnastics after my rooftop gymnastics stunt, my parents decided I needed an alternate activity, so I began Irish dancing. .I took to it quite easily and after a couple of years went into the competitive circuit.  This could only go on for so long, as my parents weren't willing to give up about half of all weekends to hop on planes and travel to competitions all over the place, and I wasn't really even ionto it enough to justify the expenditure either in time or in cash, but it was fun while it lasted, It gave me a skill I maintain to this day to some degree and may use again  -- although probably in the couples-style set dancing rather than solo.  It created travel opportunities, though most of what we saw of the places we visited was through the windows of the various rental cars between hotels, convention centers, and airports, On the one competition that took placein Ireland, we made a bit more of a vacation of it, as I have realtives living in Ireland. We didn't do tons of touristy stuff on the trip because we'd been to Ireland once before as a family (my mom lived in Ireland for a couple of years as a child) and had done more of the touristy stuff that time, but we did spend  time there with family and had tons of fun.

Anyway, when my final costumes were sewn, my mom, kowing the end was near,   had liberal fabric left in the hems so that the hems could be let cown and I could use the costumes for a few more years.  I've  grown up more than I've grown out, so four costumes still fit. If I really cared that much, as I grow fuller-figured, I could always have another costume or two made. I'm in no hurry to part with my hard-earned cash, but someday it might be a worthwhile expenditure

On Saint Patrick's Day, I usually put  on one of my costumes and even the curly wig that goes with it (curly wigs are a required part of the competitive Irish dance costume for girls) and do a couple of dances to mke my mom and her siblings happy. I don't mind. I'm not really the shrinking violet  type, anyway, and am not terribly uncomfortable with people watching me dance. It's weird, as there are times when I want to be inviible and I think if they're looking at me, it's because they know about the things that has happened to me or because I'm skinny and unattractive, but at other times, I'm comfortable with attention. Maybe my dad is right and I really am bi-polar, even to the point of that disassociateve identity disorder that used to be called mutiple persoanality disorder, a la Sybil or The Three Faces of Eve, along with numerous soap opera characters who've suffered the same malady.  Then again, maybe I'm an ordinary adolescent who can't make up her mind as to whether or not she wants anyone looking at her.

So tomorrow, which is technically today, I'll down at least one Guinness, but probably not more as I have class the next day and cannot afford to be hung over. I'm allowed to have as many friends over as I'd like, but I've been told that only those who can legally drink will be allowed to do so, and that someone will be watching to ensure that such is the case. I'm confident in my ability to spirit away a few spirits for the age-challenged amng us, but not enough that anyone under 21 will be able to get roaring drunk. C'est la vie. That's what other parties are for. My party (which is actually mymom's party)  can be the party before the real party for those who intend to do some serious imbibing.

Top o' the morning to ya!

Paul, can I hear you yet?


Friday, March 15, 2013

My Dad Told Me something That Makes No Sense Medically, but . . .

He says when I was really little, i used to eat a bowl of sugar cereal every morning along with whatever else I had for breakfast - maybe an egg or a piece of toast. He said back in those days, I wasn't sick very often. When my mom got leukemia, he and my mom went on a bit of a health food kick. They didn't exactly have a coronary if one of us came home drinking a soda or eating a candy bar, but there wasn't a whole lot of that stuff around the house.

My dad usually does the grocery shopping. In addition to the usual nutricious fare of fruits, veggies, whole grain cereals, lean meats, etc, he brought four different boxes of sugar cereal. he put one in the usual cereal area. As sson as Matthew comes home, he'll basicall go through the box in one sitting. For me, he bought Lucky Charms, Trix, and Golden Crisp. he hid them in a cabinet behind the homemade tomato sauce, which Matthew never bothers.  My dad told me to try eating a bowl of sugary cereal in addition to something nutritious every morning, and even to eat a bowl at night if I felt like it. He said the extra calories alone would be good for me, as I'm having some difficulty maintaining a regular cycle, so to speak, at my current weight.  He says as long as it supplements and does not supplant what I'm already eating, no harm should occur because my blood sugar is well within the normal range -- perhaps even on the low end of normal, but still normal.

Most of the stuff he comes up with is some weird concoction involoving wheat germ, unflavored yogurt, an egg white, and God knows what else, so this particular recommendation is reasonably easy to try.

I'll let you know how it goes.